Sol - Dear Friends, Vol. II

The first thing one notices when listening through the latest offering from this twenty-one year-old Seattle emcee is the refined sound throughout the project.  Productionwise, Solzilla's latest features laid back synth-based instrumentals reminiscent of the backdrops on J.Pinder's Code Red FreEP, released earlier this year.  Unlike Code Red, which featured production from the likes of Seattle legends Jake One and Vitamin D, the Seattle's next generation of producers, Ill Pill, Jack The Ripper, Smile Future, and DJ Green take the helm for the production on Dear Friends, Vol. II.

As far as the emcee himself, Dear Friends, Vol. II represents a huge artistic group for University of Washington junior.  While the first incarnation of the series saw Solzilla at times outmatched by guest artists like Grynch, Vol. II sees him holding his own against fellow next generation Seattle artists J.Pinder and Grynch as well as 206 legend Geologic.  The content addresses pretty much what you would expect from a twenty-something college student, discussing one-night stands ("Not The One") and love of the reefer ("So Damm High," "Spliff Remix"), but also addressing the short 15 minutes of fame that artists receive in the genre ("Cruise Control").  Even the tracks that address the prior subjects prove to be fairly conscious and don't sound like one-diminsional pop songs in any which way.

At the end of the day, Dear Friends, Vol. II is a cohesive project that is a major step forward for Sol as an artist who is sure to be a leader for the next generation of Seattle hip hop.  Hit the jump for the download link/tracklist:

Symmetry & Ryan Lewis - "Feel Right"

This song is listed as "Hip Hop/Rap" in my iTunes library along with the other eight songs off of Symmetry and Ryan Lewis' self-titled 2009 album.  While other songs on the Rhode Island emcee and Seattle producer's album such as "Make Me Yours" and "Back And Business," have more hip hop elements (aka rapping), "Feel Right" transcends genre categorization with synth-heavy beats, an eerilly catchy melody, and a rock drum beat topped by a stirring chorus.  The result is a song that sounds like Franz Ferdinand meets Muse meets MGMT meets Kanye West and provides us with further evidence of Mr. Lewis' brilliance as a producer.  If you like what you hear, I highly suggest downloading the entire album (link above) as well as his critically-acclaimed project, The Vs. EP, which he recorded along with Seattle emcee Macklemore and was one of my favorites of 2009.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Knowledgeable Noah