Slum Village, the Detroit hip hop group, has been through many changes over the years. At this point, the group consists of original member T3 alongside Young RJ and Illa J. Evolution might be looked back upon someday as a turning point in the group’s career, but right now it feels more like a placeholder than anything else.
Hopie is one of the Bay Area’s best kept secrets. The Filipina emcee with a law degree has been making hip hop for a while, though, as this is her fourth solo album. Hopefully this will finally be the one to get her the attention she rightly deserves.
It’s difficult to set yourself apart as an instrumental hip hop producer these days. More people than ever are jumping into the genre, and the amount of decent to good instrumental hip hop just makes it that much harder for an artist to establish a unique sound and voice. The Internet has allowed us to connect so well across borders, we can easily find music from all over the globe as well. Unfortunately, this also means that having a Japanese release of an instrumental hip hop compilation doesn’t mean the same thing it did ten to fifteen years ago.
It’s been a hot minute since we got a solo album from Aceyalone, one of the most influential figures out of the L.A. underground hip hop scene, an artist who's been part of Project Blowed, Freestyle Fellowship, Haiku D’etat, and The A-Team, along with a successful solo career. The last time we heard from Aceyalone the solo artist, he was in phase two of a genre-exploring portion of his career. Lightning Strikes, his reggae album, had been fairly successful, but Aceyalone & The Lonely Ones, which explored doo-wop, was easily the worst record of his career.
Factor has emerged over the last few years as not only a prolific producer, but one who is so talented and diverse, he’s been able to establish great chemistry with a wide range of emcees, such as Myka 9, Awol One, Moka Only, Sole, and others. He’s already made a few records with fellow Saskatonian Kay the Aquanaut, but Letters From Laika feels special, like this is the one they’ve been building up to for a while.
J-Bru is a Halifax emcee and producer who has been releasing records for about thirteen years. Despite some accolades, J-Bru feels like he should be getting more respect, as is evident in the title of this album. This effort shows an artist comfortable in his own skin, but still hungry to keep growing personally and professionally.
Atari Blitzkrieg is an emcee/producer from Virginia who’s been making his mark as a strange and eclectic artist. He’s been fairly prolific in his career, and has collaborated with a wide range of musicians. His latest album attempts to reflect on and analyze the current culture of 24/7 media consumption.
Very little information is readily available about producer CLXCKWXRK, but I can tell you that he released two untitled EPs last year and has already released an album earlier this year, titled Untitled X. CXWX marks his second release for Black Chalk, a relatively young experimental hip hop label based in L.A.
Bannon is a producer from Sacramento who’s gotten a lot of attention in a short amount of time. Frankly, I’ve never quite understood why. Previous instrumental EPs have been big on concept and short on delivery. This EP comes with no warning or explanation this time, but it still doesn’t deliver anything interesting.
Hologram Kizzie is the pseudonym of one Psalm One, and this EP marks her recording debut under this name. Free Hugs was done in collaboration with the production team of Compound 7, the Bay Area duo of A-Plus and Aagee.