Kill Your Idols – [Kemba]

By LL intern // 27 May 2020

If there is anything certain about a new Kemba song, it will never be dull. The Hunts Point legend has impressively been active in 2020, as a result of dropping three unforgettable singles: 1. “More A Man” –  a powerful Mos Def esque record where he vows to be “more a man’ than his father was,” and “more aware when [he] falls in love.” 2. “none of this matters,” a short, enticing, UK-drill inspired track where Kemba flaunts his versatility and ability to produce a hit regardless of  style or sub-genre. 3.  “Pisces” – Self-revealed as one of Kemba’s favorite songs to make, the banger uniquely aligns with the life experiences and content that he has shared so far. Fun fact: In “none of this matters,” the background “shut the fu** up ni***” vocals (around the 1:45 mark) are taken from this record. Refusing to stand still, the Bronx native has returned with a fourth single titled “Kill Your Idols,” with mellow production from Brasstracks and Frank Drake. From a lyrical standpoint, this record is undoubtedly the most adept of the four, as well as the most experimental sonically. Whether intentional or not, the song’s subject matter eerily corresponds with tragic …

Miles Davis – [Blu & Exile]

By LL intern // 25 May 2020

When it comes to discussing the greatest ever hip-hop duos, Blu & Exile are a must mention. The legendary Los Angeles based pair share a total of five project releases; three albums and two EP’s. Their most cherished release is unquestionably Below The Heavens,(2007) which deservedly received countless praise from numerous media outlets. The album later provided fuel for Blu’s XXL Freshman nod in 2009. However, don’t be fooled; Blu & Exile’s entire discography is worth hearing! Everything the duo has shared is gold, no matter it be their other two albums: Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, In The Beginning, (Before The Heavens) or EP’s, Maybe One Day and True & Livin’. Exile’s smoothly eloquent, soulful production has been cited as inspiration from two production pioneers; J. Dilla and Pete Rock. Though Exile had already earned production credits from Mobb Deep, Slum Village, Jurassic 5, and more, it is remarkable that his eventual collaboration with underground MC Johnson Barnes, aka Blu, formed each of their iconic legacies. Avid listeners of Blu are aware that the artist struggled to make ends meet before his impending encounter with Exile, as a result of simply not garnering enough recognition and (music) sales that he deserved. Blu …

It’s All Good – [Kid Abstrakt]

By LL intern // 22 May 2020

Born in Los Angeles, California to a Brazilian mother and a Nicaraguan father, Kid Abstrakt checks all of the boxes of what makes a dope emcee. Although Abstrakt is influenced by many different genres, it is no secret that he is highly fond of the 90’s golden era sound. Abstrakt’s music journey jump started in high school with his collective Revolutionary Rhythm, consistently rapping over jazzy boom bap beats. Their efforts eventually paid off after earning an opportunity to tour with The Pharcyde and former duo People Under The Stairs. I highly recommend peeping Kid Abstrakt’s highly successful debut album Daydreaming, (2017) which is entirely produced by The Deli. From the words of Abstrakt, “The album adventures into the mind of a young artist who is daydreaming trying to escape reality.” Kid Abstrakt is the perfect artist for those seeking a nostalgic hip-hop sound without having to go back in time. Without a google search, Abstrakt’s old soul could very easily deceive a listener into believing he was a part of the 90’s rap era. Now 2020, Abstrakt is remaining true to his style, recently releasing a refreshing and uplifting new track titled “It’s All Good.” Produced by the talented Cold Busted beat-maker Emapea, …

Hijack – [Thiago]

By LL intern // 21 May 2020

Thiago Sacata is a Brazilian hip-hop artist currently residing in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sacata is a part of the internet-based rap collective Cemetery Drive, as well as another group called House on the Hill collective. Thiago’s sound is quite unique; his voice isn’t really comparable to anyone else’s, sure enough to leave a memorable impression on first time listeners. In terms of skill set, Thiago’s flow is versatile, as he never has issues rapping over fast or slow paced beats. At his consistent best, Thiago is currently releasing solo songs every other Tuesday in 2020. Last year, Thiago did something similar by releasing a song every other month with Cemetery Drive. His song “Mirror Match” with producer bluknight perfectly illustrates Thiago’s seamless ability to switch between flows, as he rapidly spits over a Soulection-esque instrumental. If there is any signature component to Sacata’s style, it’s undoubtedly his capability to deliver catchy singing hooks over his tracks. For proof, waste no further by listening to Thiago’s latest offering “Hijack,” produced by Garrett. The entire record is a complete head bopping experience, with quotable lyrics such as “Everything’s a copy they tell me it’s gold nuggets / six digit salary to me …

DON’T HIDE – [Frank Leone]

By LL intern // 19 May 2020

Based in LA, Frank Leone’s latest track “Don’t Hide” was the first song he wrote after moving to the city at the end of 2018. Around the same time, California wildfires were in season. Leone also informed me that this track initially was intended to be the first single for his upcoming debut album, but it didn’t fit the project’s storyline in the end. Entirely produced by Frank, the record is about him reconciling the death of a close friend of his a few years ago. Two days before “Don’t Hide’s” release, Leon’s cousin tragically passed away, which unintentionally shifted and enhanced the meaning of the song. The day before his cousin died, Frank asked his friend Mike Manor to animate a short piece for the track, where Leone lays flowers on the grave of another friend from their last animated video “Huffing Paint.” Despite the grimness of both songs, each one holds a significant weight of importance for Leone. A notable line from the track is when Frank eerily states: “Been gone for a month, hope my mama don’t get sick ‘fore I get funds,” which paints a picture of Leone’s paranoia, having lost plenty of his loved ones …

Five Excellent Beat Projects – [yeyts.] x [Kazam] x [Toshiki Hayashi] x [Handbook] x [igory & TwentyWeeks]

By LL intern // 17 May 2020

Producers/beatmakers are often unfairly overlooked because of artists. Truth be told, producers are artists themselves, as every instrumental requires its own unique form of craftsmanship, and a precise vision to execute the idea. Without producers, your favorite hit single would simply not sound the same, yet alone exist! Comparable to the clientele work of an artisan or sculptor, when producers craft beats for artists, they must put themselves in another’s shoes to innovate. However, the music of production pioneers Nujabes and J. Dilla demonstrates that instrumentals are entirely separate and complete bodies of work. Applied rapping or vocals are not complements to production, but instead honorary elements that create an alternative version. Therefore, to an extent, the artist serves as a guest feature over the producer’s original creation. To effectively shed greater light to the creative brilliance of producers, I’ve chosen to start a monthly series titled “Five Excellent Beat Projects,” which will highlight five instrumental works that I consider exceptional. yeyts. – seat back – yeyts. is super reserved mellow producer out of San Antonio, Texas. The production of yeyts. often falls under the ‘jazzhop’ category, blending blissful jazz instrumentation with polished hip-hop drums and samples. seat back is the producer’s latest offering, …

Medicine (2020) – [Hannah Rodríguez]

By LL intern // 14 May 2020

Amy Winehouse may be deceased, but her musical influence is eternal throughout contemporary music. Such a claim is startlingly evident through the artistry of Hannah Rodgriguez; a British songwriter originating from the Lake District in northern England. Rodríguez began writing songs during her school years, which prompted her to self-learn how to produce music when she moved to London at the age of eighteen. Along with Winehouse, Hannah likens her sound to Kali Uchis’s, with Rodríguez’s musical influences spanning from Billie Holiday to Alton Ellis and King Krule. Rodríguez has a wittiness with her words; her records are intimate, personal, and relatable, yet simultaneously humorous in a self-mocking manner. Moreover, Rodríguez is able to craft poetic and sophisticated lyrics beyond her years that reflect a thoughtful, intellectual, and sincere old soul. Despite only being in her early twenties, Rodríguez already has impressive performances at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club and the Roundhouse in London under her resume. Last year, she joined Project FILO, an independent creative talent agency that delivers experiences ranging from music across the globe, films, compelling photography, fashion, visual art, honest writing, and storytelling. Rodríguez’s latest offering, “Medicine (2020)” is a harmonizing, hum-filled tune with passionate love lyrics. Stating …

Hustle Don’t Give [Che Noir] ft. [Black Thought]

By LL intern // 14 May 2020

Mello Music Group consistently delivers sheer quality. The independent record label’s latest offering “Hustle Don’t Give” is a collaborative single by Che’ Noir and Black Thought with their artist Apollo Brown covering the production. The track will be off Noir and Brown’s joint album titled As God Intended, set to release July 10th. Just like Griselda, Che Noir hails from the very active hip-hop city of Buffalo, New York. Che’ Noir’s rap style frequently consists of rapid-fire rhymes and subject-matter that eerily resembles the sounds of her birth year in 1994. Meshing classic golden era hip-hop with relevance, Che’ refreshingly shatters the ignorant claims that ‘hip-hop is dead.’ As for Apollo Brown, it is without question that the Detroit producer is carving a monumental impact on boom-bap instrumentation, having produced for Skyzoo, Rass Kass, Guilty Simpson, Big Pooh, Danny Brown, Freddie Gibbs, Masta Ace, Oddisee, Black MIlk, Joell Ortiz, and more. From the crisp kick drums, to the horns and organs, an Apollo Brown instrumental quickly become signature in familiarity. Brown’s credo for his work is to try and make each album his favorite of all time. I love everything Apollo touches, but his collaborative album Mona Lisa with Slaughterhouse member …