JR & PH7 featuring Freeway, Saigon & Ras Kass - "Who Want What"
This song has "tough" written all over it. I knew about JR & PH7 for a few years now, but honestly didn't delve into their production. Seeing Freeway, Saigon and Ras Kass on this track really piqued my interest. I'm glad I gave this track a shot. "Who Want What" is one of those tracks where there's just straight-spittin' over complimentary production that promotes some aggressive rhyming. Freeway arrives first in his usual cadence, but it sounds slightly altered. It fits the track well, setting the stage for Sai's verse. He adds to the cut with his reckless flow before Ras Kass comes in for the clean-up. It's an all-around hot track featuring three lyricists who are revered in Hip Hop but never get the adequate props they deserve. Hopefully this song highlights their talents while bringing to light the thorough beatmaking of JR & PH7. - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Bishop Lamont featuring Raekwon & Planet Asia - "Branson Niggas"
My first exposure to Bishop Lamont was when he performed the excellent theme song for 2005's Havoc a/k/a the movie that features Anne Hathaway topless for 83 of its 85 minutes. (These are also the only two reasons to watch the film in the first place). But it wasn't until this week's Layover - one of 2012's strongest mixtapes, by the way - that I really took the time to absorb his brilliance as a rhymer and ad-libber. This is especially true on tracks like "Branson Niggas." As Lamont kicks off his verse he admits how hard it is to enter the track last after the other emcees have killed it. And yes, guests Raekwon and Planest Asia really have made it "look like Jonestown" but still we quickly forget all that as the Bishop gives us part travelogue going from being in "places where the crackers wanna hang a nigga, but their wifeys, sistas, daughters wanna bang a nigga" to late nights of bunnies, weed and liquor "in a mansion off of Coldwater Canyon," part wait, I need to rewind that wordplay, "if love is war I'm a hopeless romantic" and part Shaolin shoutout, working in the Purple Tape, "Verbal Intercourse" and "Glacierz of Ice" into smoothly into his narrative without it once feeling like a gimmick. Then we get a British history lesson and Hip Hop's first anti-dimaond diatribe. What more could you ask for in 16 bars? - Michael Sheehan
RJD2 featuring Blueprint - "The Good Life"
I moved to Philadelphia within a month of Soul Position's Unlimited EP releasing. I loved that album. Blueprint's big vocal range, his feelings of humility in one verse and cockiness the next, all overtop RJD2's beautiful sample mosiacs. This was true of 8 Million Stories a few months later, and the awesome 2006 single "Hand Me Downs." What I love about "The Good Life" from the last week is that rather than be a Soul Position track, it's a RJ and 'Print track. This record meets both evolving Ohio Underground alums we're they're at. RJ still has those shattering drums (he comes from a drummer background), and Printmatic still has that soulful subject matter and diverse delivery. But so much has changed with the times, with the music, with the energy. This is just a feel-good track from two guys who I discovered through Hip Hop, and will follow unconditionally as they dabble with new sounds and genres. That certainly appears true of their feelings for each other too. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)