Combining jazz and hip hop is nothing new, but when it’s done well, it’s tough to beat. That’s why we keep returning to it time and again. Berlin producer Stan Forebee makes his debut for Digi Crates Records by combining the cool jazz and hard bop of artists such as Gil Evans with some solid down tempo beats.
The Esssential Vitamin Crew is a hip hop collective out of Buffalo that’s been around for a little while, whose members include emcee Mad Dukez. Their latest release comes from producer Cove, whose SoulFritoFunk is a beat tape of the funkiest kind.
If you’re not already familiar with the name of Brussels producer Loden, there’s a very good chance that you are at least familiar with his brilliant work on Busdriver’s 2012 album, Beaus$Eros, which he produced in its entirety. The Star-Eyed Condition marks Loden’s fourth solo album, and his second for Portland label Circle Into Square.
With two EPs under his belt already this year, Minneapolis producer Ackryte comes back once again, this time with a full length album. It delivers exactly what you’d expect from him, with plenty of wonderful, intimate, and sexy R&B-inspired instrumental hip hop grooves, and solidifies his place as one of the most talented producers working in the Midwest.
For as long as Uncommon Nasa (aka Adam Warlock, Nasa, Adam) has been around, and for as long as he's been running Uncommon records, you might be surprised to learn that he actually hasn’t released that many solo albums. He has been constantly working though, running the label, producing, mastering, engineering, marketing, and performing. Almost ten years into the life of Uncommon Records, and much more for Nasa as an artist, we don't just get another solo album from someone whose been devoted to bringing us some left field hip hop - we get what is his strongest effort to date.
These days, the word “mixtape” has become a fluid term that has basically come to stand in for anything that an artist doesn’t want considered an official album. For that reason, it’s kind of refreshing to hear Fresh Kils’ new mixtape to sound like a producer’s mixtape from back in the day - lots of different short-lived beats blending into each other as we get a taste of what he has to offer.
K.Flay, the emcee/singer/producer from San Francisco now residing in Brooklyn, has been carving out her own unique space for a while now, through a series of mixtapes and EPs, with a style that blends hip hop, electronic, and rock music, delivered with her unique raspy voice. She’s recently signed to RCA, and this EP marks her debut for the label.
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.