Nicholas Cheung is a relatively new artist, with very little biographical information available at the moment, but I can tell you that he was born in Hong Kong and moved to Vancouver when he was very young. He’s been making beats for about five years now, and this EP for Cult Classic Records marks his debut release. If the potential on I Am is any indication, though, we’ll be getting to know him very well in the near future.
Botzy has been making his name in Minneapolis the past few years as part of the band Culture Cry Wolf, and more recently as a solo artist. While the sound of Culture Cry Wolf is reminiscent of the mid-90s, as they blend ska, indie-rock, punk, and hip hop, Botzy’s sound as a solo artist is much more of the traditional hip hop variety. With his latest release, Botzy appears to be focused and ready to make the jump as a solo artist.
It wasn’t that long ago that Philadelphia artist Castle was talking about walking away from music altogether. At that point, outside of Philly, most probably knew him as the graphic artist who designed album covers for Has-Lo. For those that had heard some really smart production and clever rhymes from his self-released albums, they knew this would be a mistake. He had made some good music before, but it still felt like his best was yet to come. Fortunately for all of us, Castle was convinced to keep going, has released his best album to date, and has a new home with Mello Music Group.
French label Cascade Records has done a fantastic job in recent years of exposing the rest of the world to a talented roster of international beatmakers. Tokyo’s ILL Sugi is no exception, as his latest offering of beautiful downtempo instrumentals sounds right at home next to the rest of their releases.
Soundsci is something of a hip hop supergroup, originally founded by Audessy of Mass Influence and Jonny Cuba of DSP. The crew has expanded since its original inception to also include DJ Ollie Teeba of Herbaliser, along with emcees Oxygen of Sputnik Brown and U-George. They also include engineer NoSleep Nigel and design artist Mr Krum as part of the group. The mission statement of the group is to remind you of why you fell in love with hip hop in the first place, which means lots of big and funky boom bap. Their latest album is no exception.
Way back in the day, Greenhouse Effect was a three-person crew from Columbus, Ohio featuring Blueprint, Inkwell, and Fess. Personal differences and growth in solo careers led to the crew going their own separate ways. Around the same time, Blueprint had also produced the first three albums for fellow Columbus artist Illogic.
If I have any regret from SXSW this past year, it’s that I didn’t get to see Mad Dukez and Fresh Kils perform together. I missed it, only to have everyone I ran into tell me how good their set was, and how impressed they were with Mad Dukez. Fresh Kils I’ve known about for a few years, and I believe him to be one of the most talented and underrated producers working today. Mad Dukez, though, was new to me, as I’m sure he will be to a lot of people outside of Buffalo, but it’s easy to see why everyone I talked to was so impressed with him.
On & Offspring marks the first collaboration between Acid Reign emcee Gajah and Brighton producer Mute Speaker. This might come as a bit of a surprise to listeners, because the chemistry between the two is so fantastic, you’d think they would have been working together for years.
Hermitofthewoods is a hip hop/spoken word artist based in Halifax. He released his debut solo album in 2007, and has been gradually building an odd and interesting catalogue since that time. Land of the Lotus Eaters is an album that’s been a couple years in the making, done in collaboration with producer Scott Da Ros, and is his most ambitious to date.
The time between first and second albums is a curious thing, especially when the first album is such a big deal, as was the case with Dessa’s A Badly Broken Code. The album came together in a way that caught a lot of people’s attention, including us here at Scratched Vinyl, where we named it the best album of 2010. Since that time, the Doomtree member put together her own live band, and released Castor, The Twin, which featured the band’s interpretations of many of the songs on Code.