Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 2K12 in Hip Hop Terms

The Lowdown, 3/31/12

So given the outbreak of awesome new releases in February, March 2K12 was a little barren by comparison. A couple of projects looked promising but ultimately ended up being disappointing, and there wasn't really a huge amount to look forward to to begin with. One release did catch my attention though:

1) F. Stokes "Love, Always EP" (self-released)

Despite it's short running time and the inclusion of two songs already available on past recordings, this EP stands out as a very cohesive piece of work and is F. Stokes' strongest offering to date. At times poppy, at times experimental, and at times grimy and traditional, the music here still feels very unified in its tone and focus. F. Stokes' lyrics are at their best on this EP, centered around different aspects of love but not afraid to shine some light on his rough childhood. His delivery ranges from spoken word to passionate rapping, but is always on point and is complimented by some strong beats from a wide range of lesser known producers. The two previously released songs feel right at home in context, and the other 5 tracks are F. Stokes' best recordings to date. Really looking forward to a new full length from this guy after hearing this, check out the well-made video for the potential pop hit "My Simple" below:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Parks and Rapper Recreation

The Latest Greatest, 3/30/12

The Park. Playground to birds, bees, and ill MCs... no wonder it's a place threatened by the national budget. It's also the title of the new album by JB & Poe, who I first heard when they opened for Souls of Mischief as part of the group Candlespit Collective back in Twenty10. I scooped up a copy of their freshly pressed album at the Slim's merch booth, and was impressed by the fun, good-natured old school hip hop vibes contained within. Having heard the new album that JB & Poe are about to unleash on May 1rst via their own Ear Peace Records imprint, I'm pleased to say that their upbeat styles are alive and well for 2012. Despite the absence of Candlespit's producer Cyberclops, the beats on this new one still fall on the traditional party-rockin' end of the hip hop spectrum, with producer Tim Adoradio delivering a strong set of polished throwback style beats that vary in mood and tempo. JB and Poe both show off their flows while having fun with the hooks and lyrics, and the album plays through it's short running time with a strong momentum that makes it easy to listen to from front to back. Crowd rocking tracks like "Jump Sauce" are balanced by smoother joints like "I Still Got That," and the feel good nature of the music ties the whole thing together. Hell, there's even an anti-weed song weed song on there for the MJ aficionados. Expect to read more about The Park once it drops in May, but for now listen to the neck-snapping beat and catchy verses of "That's Muh Name," featuring a verse from Nick's Bar Karaoke Night superstar Cyberclops.

1. Beautiful Day
2. Grains
3. Jump Sauce
4. I Still Got That
5. That's Muh Name (feat. Cyberclops)
6. Sound Basics (Interlude)
7. I Am Not
8. Rattle Bap (feat. Cyberclops)
9. This is NOT a Weed Song
10. On One Hand
11. Slow It Down
12. The End

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marking the Keys for Breath

The Latest Greatest, 3/26/12

So in case you haven't heard, one of my favorite underrated LA rappers (and one of my favorite people in general) Neila will soon be releasing her new full length "Marked for Breath" in an extra limited run of 100 eco-packed CDs. Neila has been one of LA's most distinct musical voices for over a decade now, and despite getting dealt a bad hand or two she's continued to be a very positive and motivational force in the LA scene. "Marked for Breath" is a full cohesive album of Neila songs recorded from 2001-2009 that somehow never saw a proper release due to life circumstances, and I'm truly stoked to see that it's finally being offered up as something official, with gorgeous artwork from the insanely talented Albane. I had the opportunity to listen to this project and went in expecting to hear some B-sides that never made the cut, but was blown away by some of the best Neila songs ever recorded. There are a number of tracks on this album that are like personal anthems to me, and one of my favorite of those songs is the beautiful and melancholic examination of self "Lost," which you can listen to below. Backed by a gorgeous evs beat that brings images of rain and a chanted hook that will resonate through the softest corners of your soul, the track is one of those songs that you can come back to in times of need and listen to as therapy. Truly great stuff, don't sleep. At the time this is being written, there are only 24 copies of "Marked for Breath" left for sale, which means it's safe to say that this album will never manage to make its way to a record store. You can reserve your copy today by e-mailing Neila at or getting in touch with her on Facebook. Now breath.

1. On the Run
2. You Are Me
3. Golden Silence (feat. Jason the Argonaut)
4. Mother (feat. Jimi the Mantis Claw)
5. Paper Airplane
6. New Day (feat. Lord Zen)
7. Garbage Bag
8. Broken Compass
9. Plastic Gun
10. Lost
11. Bubble Up (feat. evs)
12. Invisible Scars
Bonus Tracks:
13. Hermit (feat. Doc Lewd)
14. The Hardest Love (feat. Riddlore)
15. Marked for Breath

Radio in Akashic Land

The Latest Greatest, 3/26/12

Looks like after a fairly lengthy hiatus, the one-and-only shapeshiftin' log cabin dwellin' West Coast work forcer Radioinactive is returning with a brand new studio album. Dubbed "The Akashic Record," this full length is slated to drop in May and apparently features the likes of Busdriver, Ellay Khule, 2Mex, and Andre Afram Asmar amongst others. Radioinactive has a pretty excellent track record of creative and unpredictable projects, with a playful style that's always fun to listen to and that takes on many original approaches. He was also one the most impressive live performers out of the Shape Shifters when I saw them live as a crew, and the only one capable of competing with Existereo's chop shop flows. Definitely looking forward to this album, especially after watching the video for the lead single "Mint Tea" (featuring 2Mex & La Caution), which you can view below:

Radioinactive - Mint Tea (feat. La Caution & 2Mex) by laitdbacrecords

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sixo "Tracking Perception EP"

Expanding the Backpack, 3/3/12

Terrific new free EP from Texas producer Sixo, presented to you by Fake Four Inc. Sixo's last full length "Fruits of Labor" was kind of an undiscovered gem that was handed to me at a Busdriver show. The album was good enough for me to feel the need to review it long after having originally received it, which is a rarity for strange CDs handed to me at shows. It's great to see this guy rolling with the Fake Four roster now, and also great to hear that his production has continued to improve while maintaining its grimy qualities. Like Sixo's last full length, this EP boasts a scary amount of MC talent: Ceschi, Onry Ozzborn, Awol One, Noah23 and Sole all make noteworthy guest appearances amongst others. You can stream Sixo's new EP under the tracklisting below, or download it for free via the Fake Four Bandcamp Page 2012 is officially the best year for free music in... ever!

1. Snowballs 2012 (feat. Ceschi & John McGee on guitar)
2. Daggers (feat. Noah23 & Gregory Pepper)
3. Dance With Stars (feat. Sole)
4. Calculated Trust (feat. Cainam, Poindexter & Onry Ozzborn)
5. For the Blind
6. Melting Away (feat. Awol One)
7. Cop Gods (feat. Heir Max, Poindexter & Sixo)
8. Mammoth