New York emcee Jean Grae has made her name almost as much by the music she hasn’t released as the music she has put out. Of course, something like that only works when the music you do put out and your live shows excites fans like enough that they are willing to wait several years in between releases. Her last proper album, Jeanius, was released in 2008, after spending four years on the shelf, and the pending follow-up, Cookies or Death, has been promised to be forthcoming for a few years now.
San Francisco emcee Rocky Rivera has been building her fan base for several years now, dropping a couple of mixtapes and one solo album, joining up with the Beatrock Music family in the process. With her new solo album, Gangster of Love, we find the Filipino American artist at her most confident and daring.
Solrac and Push Play have been part of the L.A. scene for about ten years, contributing along with Nick Classic to put together the podcast Cipharadio. They’ve been working together off and on over the years, with the roots of this project beginning back in 2010. The title explains the concept of the album, a collection of beats supposed to harken us back to that golden era of hip hop that occurred roughly from 1991 to 1994. There’s a wide range of emcees contributing to the collection, and the results are just as varied.
FRSH SLCTS started as a blog back in 2008, has undergone a few transformations, and now exists mostly as a record label based out of Portland, Oregon. They’ve teamed up with L.A. producer Mndsgn to release his latest effort, breatharian, an instrumental album with an interesting theme.
Azrael and Inkpsill are two emcees from Vancouver. They’ve actually been working with each other since 2010, but Mur-Diddly-Urdlers marks their debut album as a duo. Brining in a slew of talented producers and using The Simpsons as a theme to tie the album together, this is a fun and solid hip hop album.
No Bird Sing is the Minneapolis trio of Joe Horton on vocals, Graham O’Brien on drums, and Robert Mulrennan on guitar. All three contribute on production duties as well, and they’ve come together over the past few years and a couple of albums to develop a unique dark and brooding style of hip hop. While those in the Twin Cities have been singing their praises for a while, they are sure to get more attention with this album, which also marks their debut on Strange Famous Records.
2013 has been a good year for Wisconsin emcee Milo (I refuse to acknowledge his recent move to Chicago). He started off the year by making his debut for Hellfyre Club with the double EP Things That Happen At Day/Things That Happen At Night, went on tour with several of his labelmates, played SXSW, and then went on a headlining tour with Safari Al this summer, then released another EP. Just when you though he was done, he comes back with yet another EP, this time under the alias scallops hotel.
DC artists Asheru is probably best known for his work on the television show The Boondocks, including writing and performing the theme song. Hip hop fans might also know him from his work as part of the duo Unspoken Heard, along with producer Blue Black. His latest solo effort is an album that he hopes will bridge the gap between Africans and African Americans through the language of hip hop. Asheru isn’t just doing this on a theoretical level -he's closely worked with South African artists such as Hip-Hop Pantsula, spent time in the country, and absorbed the language and culture.
Back in the summer, Chicago emcee/producer Thaione Davis dropped his album, The Joys of Life & Pain. While working on that album, Davis actually recorded over forty tracks for the project, nineteen making the cut for the album. Coming from that same session, Davis now gives us fourteen more tracks with the epilogue to his project, Acknowledge Pain.
Jordan Cohen, aka Chants, is a standout talent amongst a strong scene of instrumental hip hop/electronic music in Madison. After releasing the Night After EP last year on Dutty Artz, Chants has this time teamed up with Seattle’s Hush Hush Records to release his latest full length album, I Feel Like I Feel It.