Soul Khan (of Brown Bag AllStars) - "Soulstice"

I've been a fan of the NYC group Brown Bag AllStars since hearing them back on Hannibal King's Eating Cornbread on the Millennium Falcon back at the end of last summer and actually threw "What It's All About" on the first tape waaaay back in the day.  This song, by way of Shake, is the title track off Brown Bag member Soul Khan's upcoming project.  I'm a fan of the second verse, but it honestly feels like a letdown after the emcee's beautiful letter to his future self featured in the first verse.

Benefit - "Exact"

I haven't given this Atlanta emcee enough spins in my iPod, but this song off of his 2003 album B.E.N.E.F.I.T., demonstrates his lyrical ability.  The instrumental isn't anything special, but the imagery of the chorus alone makes it worth the download.

I got the deaf people hearing this,
Blind people seeing this,
Paralyzed from the neck down still feeling this.

Blue Scholars - "Southside Revival"

This 2005 track off of the Seattle duo's second release, The Long March EP, (every time I hear it, I still laugh about the monorail comment), but it's still a prime example of what Sabzi and Geologic are capable of when they collaborate and the chorus, while not as relevant today, proved to be quite profound in the day when ringtone rappers roamed the earth.

I heard a few heads say that hip hop is dead,
No it's not. It's just malnourished and underfed.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Blue Scholars - "Southside Revival"

Nas & Damian Marley - "My Generation" (Feat. Lil' Wayne & Joss Stone)

It's not quite on the same level as "Strong Will Continue" or "As We Enter," but even Weezy F. Baby doesn't stop the momentum that Distant Relatives has been building.  Via FreshNDef.

Eminem - "Not Afraid"

After a rather disappointing comeback album last year (which Em even admits to on this song), it sounds as if Marshall Mathers is finally back.  This powerful, emotionally driven, Boi-1da produced track that doesn't quite rank among the Detroit legend's best (blame the hook that's tiresome upon multiple listens, but it's better than anything on Relapse/Encore.  It's to early to tell based off of one song, but if "Not Afraid" is a sign of the sound of Recovery, which is set to be released on June 22nd, it should stand as one of the best albums of the past few years.  Lyrics after the jump:

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Jermiside & Danny Diggs - "Didn't I Tell You" (feat. Von Pea of Tanya Morgan)

Had to take another short break to showcase this gem of a song off of Atlanta-via-Cincinnati emcee Jermiside and Vancouver by way of Ireland producer Danny Diggs' forthcoming Middle Classic scheduled to be released on May 25th on HIPNOTT Records.  This soulful, upbeat track features the Brooklyn member of the hip hop trio Tanya Morgan, Von Pea and is one of the better songs I've heard in weeks.

Didn't I tell ya, we ain't nothing to play with?
You keep on opening your mouth, but you don't say shit.
We know you hate it when we get love, it's understood,
Open your ears up, let me tell you something good.

GMK - "Dream Rules"

It's funny how my most productive nights blogwise happen to coincide with the nights I actually have to do homework.  I'm not saying that there's a causal relationship caused by me wanting to procrastinating.  I'm just saying there's a correlation.  Anyway, this Left Coast freshness comes courtesy of LA-via-Seattle artist GMK, who is currently working on an as-yet-untitled mixtape.  Definitely check back in for more material from this up and coming artist.

On another note, I'm definitely feeling the picture inside of Seattle Public Library's main hub.

Dyme Def - "Over Freeverse"

Eminem may have bodied this track earlier, but I've been waiting on this version from the Seattle trio since hearing the snippet two weeks ago.  I'm personally not a big fan of the instrumental and will welcome the day that rappers stop giving their rendition of it, but this is probably the second best version (after Em's) that I've heard thus far.  Thank god they took Drake out of the equation entirely.  No Beat Is Safe.

Peace, Love, & Dyme Def,

(Previous) Dyme Def - "Hayyyyy"

...and now, back to that philosophy paper.  FTW.

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J. Cole - "Who Dat"

The first single off of Cole World J. Cole's still untitled debut album is probably the first song I'm not feeling by J-Dot.  The J. Cole/Elite produced instrumental just isn't doing it for me.  Shouts to YHTN.

Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek) - "Africa Dream"

It's not the best track from the critically acclaimed duo, but the last line of the main verse on this song off of their 2000 debut Train of Thought always strikes me as quite profound:

These cats drink champagne and toast to death and pain,
Like slaves on a ship talking about who got the flyest chain.

I'll let you think on that for a minute.  Reflection Eternal's sophomore album, Revolutions Per Minute, is scheduled to be released on May 18th.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Bent Twig - The Asymmetry of Life

I don't have the time at the moment to give this release from the Seattle (via Cali) duo, but make sure to check the review over at 206up.  You can download the laid back album that features many of the Town's best emcees for free over at the group's homepage.  Hit the jump for the tracklist.

Jack The Ripper - "Don't Look Back" (feat. Sol, Geologic, & Scribes)

The blog is about to go into hibernation over the next week as I have three essays and a project to prepare during that time, but before that happens, here's the first single off of Seattle artist Jack The Ripper's first production album featuring Sol, Geologic of Blue Scholars, and Scribes.

The Game - "Where I'm From" (feat. Nate Dogg)

I'm not a huge fan of The Game (or for that matter any rapper who makes his career off of beef), but the beat on this song off of his 2005 debut The Documentary is undeniable.

B.o.B - "Not Lost" (feat. T.I.)

Mr. Aka Bobby Ray and the King of the South rock over Coldplay's "Lost," on a cut that will not be included on The Adventures of Bobby Ray.  Courtesy of 2dopeboyz.

Previous: B.o.B - "Airplanes Pt. 2" (feat. Eminem & Hayley Williams)

Grynch - "My Volvo" [Music Video]


Sunni Ali Ber - "Grammy Melody" x "Goodnight"

Considering that finals are looming and I'd rather post this than write my African Civ paper, it's time for a brief history lesson:

It's rare to hear of a rapper taking his stage name from the pages of history.  For every Makaveli, there are hundreds if not thousands of 50 Cents or Games, names that really mean nothing to themselves or anyone else.  It's even rarer to hear an emcee with a historical moniker spit with skill that can appeal to a wide audience.  Enter Los Angeles emcee/producer Sunni Ali Ber, the product of first-generation Nigerian immigrants and younger brother of Cobe Obeah, who has chosen to honor his roots by taking on the moniker Sunni Ber Ali, the first great king of the Songhai Empire, a dynasty that ruled much of West Africa from the time of Mali's decline in the early 14th century until the late 17th century.

Jay-Z - "Regrets"

If New York is indeed hip hop's Mecca, then Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt is certainly one of the movement's holy texts.  From his verbal duel with Biggie on "Brooklyn's Finest" to his contemplation of the price of success on "D'Evils," the wordplay throughout Shawn Carter's debut is, well, Unreasonable.  A classic from top-to-bottom, Doubt was the landmark album for Mafioso rap--the one that best paralleled Scarface's story from rise to fall.  While I have a hard time picking a favorite song from the album, the last official track (before bonus tracks) certainly numbers among the best.  "Regrets" marks the downfall of the anti-hero and presents us with advice that is applicable to any walk of life, while simultaneously beautifully critical of the American Dream:

You used to hold me, told me that I was the best,
Anything in this world I want I could possess.
All that made me want is all that I could get,
In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets.

Peace, Love, & Hova,

Previous: Jay-Z & Coldplay - "X-Y-Z"

L.E.G.A.C.Y. - "Diamond" (feat. DJ Flash)

I'm a diamond, you're a cubic zirconia.
-Nice & Smooth

Hint: The North Carolina emcee isn't talking about bling on this track that, for some reason didn't make the cut for his 2004 album, Project Mayhem.

Styles P - "Nobody Believes Me" (feat. Cross, J-Hood, & Sheek)

David Styles, better known by his rap-moniker "Styles P," is a vastly underrated rapper.  The D-Block/LOX/Ruff Rider emcee has been doing his thing since '94 and is a staple of the underground gansta rap scene ever since.  This song, off of his 2002 solo debut A Gangster And A Gentleman, reminds me sonically of Scarface's classic "On My Block" (released a few months earlier), although they deal with vastly different subjects.  This track witnesses the LOX members (plus Cross, minus Jadakiss) personifying and holding discussions with items from their everyday life.  It's an often overlooked classic.

K. Sparks - "Rider" (feat. J.D.)

If your like me, then you can't get enough new K. Sparks.  Fellow NYC rapper J.D. joins K-Dot on this cut off of YNotMyDream and REUPspot's upcoming After This Shut Up.

Wale - "BASEhead" X "Kini Big Deal"

DC's pride, Wale has some of the better freestyles in the game today.  If you need more proof, look no further than his demolition of Jay's "Thank You."  In celebration of Hitler's Birthday 4/20, Wale recorded, mixed, and released these gems today.  The wordplay on these songs is simply jaw-dropping (I'm still laughing at the Ryan Leaf shoutout).  One of the most talented up and coming emcees in the game today, there are a lot of people out there who still need to get hip to Wale.

Peace, Love, & Wale,

"BASEhead" (prod. The Bassheads)
"Kini Big Deal"

Previous: Wale - "90210"

Dyme Def - "Hayyyyy"

As a hip hop blogger, 4/20 is a nightmare.  It's the one day of the year when your mailbox gets flooded (more than usual) with crappy songs.  I typically wouldn't bother to sort through this shit storm, but Dyme Def will always get the pass.  Much to my pleasant surprise (but not really considering who it's coming from), the Seattle trio's dedication to Mary Jane actually turned out to be a gem.

Brainstorm - "Blame Yaself"

State of the Artist - "Hey Hey" (feat. P Smoov & Shaprece Renee)

Fresh Espresso/Mad Rad's emcee/singer/producer/wonderboy P Smoov links up the SOTA Boys for this latest Seattle collaboration.  I like "Extrahelladope" a little more, but this joint is still up's a very different, up tempo song.  SeattleCaliFragilisticExtraHellaDopeness drops next Tuesday.

Peace, Love, & Seattle,

Celph Titled & Buckwild - "Styles Ain't Raw" (feat. Apathy & Chino XL)

It's about time that Celph got around to putting out a solo album.  This song comes off of Nineteen Naughty Now (an album set to be produced entirely by D.I.T.C.'s Buckwild) and features guest appearances by Chino XL and Demigodz comrade Apathy.  The beat is fairly sparse, shining more light on the emcees' lyrics.  The sample of The Roots' "Lesson Pt. 1" could not be more suitable.

Previous: Fort Minor - "S.C.O.M." (feat. Ryu, Juelz Santana, & Celph Titled)

B.o.B - "Airplanes Pt. 2" (feat. Eminim & Hayley Williams)

The song that everyone has been waiting to hear off of Bobby Ray's debut doesn't disappoint as Marshall Mathers kills his verse on the second version of the ATLien's single.  The Adventures of Bobby Ray drops one week from today.  Support good hip hop and pre-order yourself a copy.  Much love to 2dopeboyz.  Update: Due to a cease and desist order, I've been forced to remove the link to the song (the thanks I get from Atlantic Records for giving shine to their artist), but I'm sure you can find the song somewhere on the interwebz.

R.I.P. Guru

Legendary Gang Starr emcee Keith "Guru" Elam passed away earlier today last night as a result of complications caused by his battle with cancer.  This is a tragic day for Elam's family, friends, and hip hop as the movement loses one of its true icons.  R.I.P. Guru.  You will be missed.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

B.o.B - "Fame" X "Past My Shades" (feat. Lupe Fiasco)

This is the track I've been waiting on.  B.o.B links up with Lupe Fiasco for this cut off of The Adventures of Bobby Ray (dropping next Tuesday).  It doesn't top some of the previous tracks that have been leaked off of the album, but it certainly is a welcome addition (evidently the album version will sound slightly different).  The one song left that everyone wants to hear is the Eminem-assisted "Airplanes 2."  The ATLien's debut looks to be one of the best releases this year.  Props to NahRight.

Cobe Obeah - "Director's Cut" x "Song of the Starz"

The son of first generation Nigerian immigrants and older brother of Sunni Ali Ber, Los Angeles emcee/producer Cobe Obeah's musical roots lie in the everything from traditional West African sounds, to Marvin Gaye, to Michael Jackson, to Tupac Shakur.  The diversity of Obeah's musical influences manifests itself into a rather unique sound that combines ambient synths, chopped vocals, percussion, and piano among other aspects.  Obeah's lyricism is superb in and of itself, but it is the instrumentals that transform these songs off the forthcoming Song of the Starz into epic stories.  I have yet to hear a bad song off of the project (set to be released on May 7th) and if these tracks are any sign of things to come, it should be one of the best mixtapes of the year.  Props to 2dopeboyz.

"Director's Cut"

"Song of the Starz"

Wale - "90210"

One of the better tracks off of one of the better albums of 2009, "90210" is a basic, Mark Ronson-produced song, that is beautiful in it's simplicity and allows Wale to address the pressures society places on women to be beautiful.  The hook (and the song as a whole) proves to be impossibly catchy.  Enjoy.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Fort Minor - "S.C.O.M." f. Ryu, Juelz Santana, & Celph Titled

Everyone knows of Linkin Park rapper/vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Mike Shinoda's side project Fort Minor.  Unless you've been under a rock since 2005, you've probably heard the group's epic, "Remember The Name," which has to be on the level of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" in terms of pump up/workout songs.  Most people don't look beyond "Remember The Name," and that's more than fair.  Shinoda's project was only active for two years, releasing one solid album during the time period that didn't get much radio play other than "Remember The Name."

This song gets overlooked completely as it wasn't even on the album.  "S.C.O.M.," comes by way of Demigodz/AOTP member Celph Titled's solo album RC3: The Real Villain, and samples Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine."  The album is an interesting mix of artists that one normally would not associate with one another, combining Dipset member Juelz Santana with underground acts like Celph Titled, a horrorcore rapper who probably has the most sick and twisted sense of humor in the game today (Army of the Pharaohs never make love songs/ We finger fuck bitches with Freddy Kruger gloves on).  Nevertheless, the unlikely collaboration works and gives us this gem.

Freddie Gibbs – midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik [No DJ]

I finally came across the No DJ version of Gangsta Gibbs' classic midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik that was one of my favorite mixtapes last year.  Sans-DJ Skee tags, the project essentially becomes a classic gangster rap album and is a must download for fans of the subgenre.

Bambu - "Slow Down" (feat. Prometheus Brown)

Blue Scholars emcee Geologic joins LA artist Bambu for song off of ...Paper Cuts...  I couldn't find an .mp3 file of the song, but you know I hold you down. I've included the Digital Zep remix of this banger.

K. Sparks - "Blue Swing"

The latest track from K. Sparks.  The vibe on this one seems very similar to the Queen's emcee's "Abstract Jazz."  I'm not feeling the chorus as much, but as usual K-Dot kills the verses.  The song is set to be featured on K. Sparks and producer T Mos' Social Studies EP and word is there's a remix in the works with a lot of talented underground emcees.

Wiz Khalifa - Kush & Orange Juice [Mixtape]

Since I gave some shine to Ghostface earlier it's only fair that I give this year's other Bacchanal hip hop act, Pittsburgh's Wiz Khalifa, his proper recognition.  Khalifa released his latest mixtape, Kush & Orange Juice, earlier in the week and it's been receiving pretty heavy play on my iPod ever since.  The mixtape doesn't deal with any deep topics, focusing mostly on beautiful women and the reefer, but proves to be a very well put together tape that flows from song to song seamlessly.

OutKast & DJ Drama - "The Art of Storytellin' Part 4" (feat. Marsha Ambrosius)

This is a bit of the late pass as this track dates back to '07, but I figured there would be quite a few of you interested in this song off of DJ Drama's debut album Gangsta Grillz.  I personally like the original two incarnations a bit more (and as far as I know there isn't a "Part 3" so the the title of this song is a bit of a mystery), but I still dig this song.  For any of you fans of Sir Luscious Left Foot and 3 Stacks, this is a must download.

Ghostface Killah - "Josephine" X "The Champ" X "Mighty Healthy"

Considering that Ghosface Killah aka Tony Stark aka Ironman is highlighting the spring concert next Saturday, I thought it was only fair to give shine to some of the Wu-Tang legend's better songs.  The Ironman has been the most consistent Wu member since the turn of the century and with tracks like these, it's easy to see why.

Jay-Z & Coldplay - "X-Y-Z"

This is probably my favorite track off of Viva La Hova, Mick Boogie and Terry Urban's 2008 mash-up of Jay-Z and Coldplay.  This one mixes Hov's "No Hook" off of American Gangster and the title track off X&Y, completely changing the tone of the song.  For those of you who, like me, are fans of the (good) mash-up, this project is a must download.  Enjoy.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

GhostWridah - "Still Not Famous" (feat. ¡Mayday!)

This has a similar vibe to the previous post.  The track has a huge pop sound, but it's still one of the better songs I've heard in a minute.  Definitely plan on staying tuned to this artist out of the MIA.

Marion Write - "Dreams" (feat. Dominique Larue & Eden Alexis)

My first time hearing from this Las Vegas emcee.  I was pleasantly surprised by this song off the upcoming discussing the heavy price of chasing fame and fortune.  The track is off the forthcoming Write History, which I definitely plan on checking out. 

Lupe Fiasco - "Hustlaz Song"

The proper retail version of Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor may have been the best debut album of the past decade, but there was a point when the album was even more refined than the final product.  In April of 2006, the entire album was leaked, causing the leaked version to be shelved by Atlantic.  Though several of the songs ended up being on the final album in one way or another (some with different verses/guest artists), most of the songs haven't seen the light of day for the lay listener.  I'm not going to post the entire leaked version album as I'm not a big fan of cease and desist orders, but you can definitely find it on the interwebz and I highly recommend the download.  This track is easily one of my favorite Lu tracks I've ever heard.

Previous: Lupe Fiasco - "Daydreamin'" (Feat. Jill Scott)

J. Cole - "We On"

I'm unsure why DJ Khaled left this track off of Failure as it would have been the only solid track on the entire album.  Word on the street is J-Dot wanted for himself.  As always, the Jay-Z protégé gets it in.  As a bonus, I took it back and threw in my favorite track from The Warm Up, "Dead Presidents II."  I know it's sacrilege to say it but I think his version might be better than Jay's Reasonable Doubt track.

"We On"

"Dead Presidents II"

B.o.B - "Airplanes" (feat. Hayley Williams)

My bet is that this song gets overplayed and I get sick of it by the end of the month, but until then, here's the latest single off Bobby Ray's debut album, dropping April 27th.

Mos Def - "Hip Hop"

One of the best tracks from one of the most highly respected artists in the game today.  This cut comes off the Brooklyn emcee's critically acclaimed 1999 debut, Black On Both Sides.  As always, he kills it.

Gang Starr - "Full Clip"

This song, perhaps more than any other song this side of "T.R.O.Y." and "Put It On," simply oozes of that 90s underground New York hip hop sound.  Composed of DJ Premier (widely considered to be the greatest producer of all time) and legendary emcee Guru, Gang Starr released songs ranging from "Mass Appeal" to "Ex Girl to Next Girl" that remain staples of the genre.  This song goes out to Guru, who recently awoke from a coma after suffering a cardiac attack back on February 28th.  Here's to a speedy recovery for the legend.

Charles Hamilton - "Choices (A Wave For Alex)"

I haven't really been a fan of Mr. Hamilton's previous work.  The guy's become a running joke in the hip hop community since he got knocked out by a female MC and I just haven't dug anything I've heard from Sonic until he released this heartfelt song dedicated to a friend that recently passed away after getting into the car with a drunk driver:
The song “Choices” – A Wave For Alex, serves as a reminder of how precious and short our existence is and how our fate can be altered by the choices we make. I swear I could feel Alex as I wrote this song, guiding me through his last moments as if they were my own. Alex paid dearly for the choice of getting in a car with a drunk driver at the wheel. Without the intervention of some very supportive people, I was on a path to a similar destiny. It is hard to think about my own bad choices and substance abuse days and this reminds me of how grateful I am to be surrounded by people, including your family, who cared enough to get me back on track. Although I never had the opportunity to meet your brother, your family has become part of my extended family and this tragedy has had a profound affect on me. My heartfelt prayers go out to you.
This song is dedicated to Alex. I can only hope that this serves as a reminder that we should all make wise choices. Listen carefully to the lyrics of this song. Peace.
Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

J.Pinder - Code Red FreEP [Review]

I meant to put this up earlier, but studying has prevented me from really getting a good listen to the project up until today...

Code Red represents a huge artistic growth for one of Seattle's most talented young rhymesayers.  Although Pinder's previous project, Backpack Wax gave us a preview of this talented emcee's lyrical ability with songs like "Black Heater," "Can't Trust Them," "M," "Out," the mixtape on the whole sounded just as one would expect--like a mixtape.  The majority of tracks on the mixtape clocked in between one and two minutes, typically only providing a the listener with a brief, one verse insight into one of the Emerald City's most talented up and coming emcees.

Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Doggy Dogg - "Deep Cover"

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me for a decade straight, shame on me.  "Under Pressure," the good doctor's supposed single with Jay-Z that was supposed to be released yesterday is yet another sign of what many hip hop heads have theorized for years--that Detox is nothing more than a myth.  Despite claims  that Dre's third and final album will in fact drop by the end of the year, I remain in doubt, holding to a wait and see attitude.

Regardless of whether Detox ever drops, we still have an entire discography of Dr. Dre cuts to bump.  "Deep Cover," also known as "187" is Dre's only solo single prior to The Chronic and features the first ever appearance by Snoop on a record.  The 1992 track served as the eponymous song to the soundtrack off of the crime thriller of the same name and (no surprise) sounds quite similar sonically to the sound of the doctor's proper solo debut that was released later in the year.  It's a cut that a lot of people haven't heard that much of from either artist, but remains a classic of early 90s gangster rap genre.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

The Roots - "Act Too...The Love Of My Life" (feat. Common)

Off of the groups 1999 album, Things Fall Apart, this song speaks for itself.  As far as love songs to hip hop go, I place "Act Too" right up there with "I Used To Love H.E.R." and "Bird's Eye View."

B.o.B Goes Platinum

So, word on the street is that ATLien/singer/producer/emcee/superstar B.o.B aka Bobby Ray has officially sold a milli for his hit single with Bruno Mars, "Nothin' On You."  I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to give shine to one of his better mixtapes, B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray.  Hit the jump for the tracklist/download link, a song featuring T.I. and Luda, and make sure to go pre-order one of the top albums of 2009.  The Adventures of Bobby Ray is set to drop April 27th

XV - "1997"

My favorite song off Vizzy's 2008 mixtape, The Square In The Circle.  You don't hear many emcees these days rocking over a Smashing Pumpkins song, but it works for him here, and really flows well in the grander scheme of the mixtape.  Hit the jump for the download and music video.

K. Sparks - "Queens" (feat. Beyond Belief)

Rockaway emcee Beyond Belief joins K-Dot on this song dedicated to their native borough.  Sparks is about as good as he is prolific (he's recorded 30+ tracks over the past few weeks) and slept on.  I'll admit that I've heard a sub-K. Sparks track or two, but have yet to hear an overall bad track from this up and coming artist.  I'm not as big of a fan of A Day In The Life, but I definitely recommend purchasing Soul Food.  Enjoy and support good hip hop.

DMX - "Slippin'" x "No Sunshine"

I know I said the last post would be my last of the night, but I lied and frankly I want to procrastinate with one more post...

Earl Simmons is better known for his Ruff Ryder, ride or die persona.  It's only fair.  Afterall he is the man that brought us the hard hitting tracks "X Gon' Give It to Ya," "What's My Name?," and "Where the Hood At?"  He's the same rapper that brought us party anthems "Get It On the Floor" and "Party Up (Up In Here)," but anyone who wants to accuse the Dark Man X of being a one dimensional artists hasn't listened to his discography past the radio hits.