LUV NY – “These Rappers Under The Hex”
I feel one of the main reasons sample-based, boom bap Hip Hop from the East Coast is in danger of becoming a subgenre is because too many emcees are bitching about the real or perceived faults of the peers instead of providing a better alternative. So I’m pretty much contradicting myself by picking a track where D.I.T.C. vet AG spends three minutes scolding delusional rappers. But the 20 year veteran does it exceptionally well, it’s not as if he’s lying, and Ray West provides a refreshed nod to classic golden era production. You can’t reinvent the wheel or force Hot 97 to play Sean Price instead of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.” But the effective combination of a lush backing track and some clever bars have me both looking forward to West’s LUV NY project (featuring AG, O.C., Kurious, Kool Keith, Roc Marciano, and Dave Dar) and reaching back to find out what happened to my Runaway Slave album by Showbiz & AG. –Omar Burgess
Casey Veggies – "Fuck Witchu"
This track screams West Coast. From the smooth blippy beat to Casey Veggies' slick flow, it has all the makings of some real Cali heat. I'm from the East Coast, but West Coat Hip Hop has always placed me in a trance. A lot of the new school Rap has done the same for me, but more of the psychotropic breed than the direct descendants of Gangsta Rap. It's the tempo really, and this Veggies joint really took me back for a second. With his Life Changes mixtape coming January 22nd, I really hope Casey gets that big break he's been waiting for. Sure people know him from coast to coast - and yeah he's been on the proverbial radar for a minute now - but all it takes is one project to significantly turn heads, and this might be the one. Fingers crossed for Mr. Veggies this year. –Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Black Cobain – "Liberation"
"An uncaring, unfeeling generation...without knowledge of self" says Benjamin Chavis playing the Reverend in the 1998 film Belly. So ends the new Black Cobain track "Liberation." It's a risky sample to use. Lately I've heard a lot of speech clips dropped into Hip Hop songs that contradict the three minutes of music they bookend. Famous professorial, religious or revolutionary voices are inserted to make lyrics that are unfeeling and uncaring sound loftier and less braindead than they really are. The good news is "Liberation" isn't guilty of this offense. It's a sincere track that is deserving of the above sermon. The lyrics prove that the truth always ends up sounding grittier than the fantasy. We don't get the usual glamorized "drug kingpin" backstory but instead hear about Black Cobain working at Outback to pay off his tuition. It isn't all tough-guy bravado either. He admits to fears, bouts of writer's block and broken confidence. It highlights Cobain's sources of inspiration and the accompanying memories like discovering The Blueprint or riding around to the Geto Boys on the stereo. These were all the things made him decide to dedicate his life to rhyming while "not giving a fuck about the haters." I'd say that's called "knowledge of self." –Michael Sheehan