Rugged N Raw featuring M. Josephine - "Forever Gone"
First of all, the child in this video deserves an award. While Rugged N Raw crafted quite a touching song, the video really drove the point home. This song is about Etan Patz, a young child who disappeared in 1979 when he was six years old. The song/video captures this story pretty well. The child left his home for the first time by himself to catch a school bus that was just a few blocks away. He was kidnapped shortly thereafter and never returned home. In the video, R.N.R. shows the scared child in a confined space crying - it's frightening and sad, but something you rarely think of when envisioning this story. The track inspired me to learn more about Etan Patz. Patz was the first child to ever appear on a milk carton, and while he was kidnapped in 1979 he wasn't pronounced dead until 2001. Further, Patz's kidnapper/killer, Pedro Hernandez, wasn't taken into custody until May 2012 and formally charged with the murder in November 2012. Kudos to Rugged N Raw for bringing a story like this to light. Using their voice for good is what all Hip Hop artists should be doing at some point in their careers. It's nice to know we have artists like Rugged N Raw delivering good music with an important message. Etan Patz's memory lives on thanks to a song like this one. - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Oh No - "Boom"
This "Boom" video combines two of my favorite things; dark sample-based Hip Hop production and the shoot 'em up / car chase films of the grindhouse era. The visual portion of "Boom" reminds of Unsane's "Scrape" video, but rather than a highlight reel of brutal skateboarding wipeouts we get a choice selection of domestic cars being shot up by helicopter gunmen, flying through store windows, geting impaled on forklift teeth and - in a classic moment pulled from Dirty Mary Crazy Larry - colliding with the front of a train. Regardless of the method of destruction, it always ends the same in this pre-CGI world of undercranked cameras: lots of pyrotechnics and dummy corpses. Sounding like Bernard Purdie shopping for a snare while Goblin plays along, "Boom," the track, is part of Oh No's recent Disrupted Ads album. Like his past few solo projects, Disrupted Ads sees the producer seeting parameters for himself and pulling samples from a specific source. This time around it's television commercials. After watching the video a few times it hit me that both the music and images were constructed using the same process: digging through a vault to find some gritty material to chop up, then arranging the most striking bits of content side by side and repeating them when necessary so that a rhythm is created. When it's all over you have a new cohesive work of art. Here it's two minutes of raw drums, harpsichord and babbling voices syncing up perfectly with each other just like the guy on roller skates sandwiched between two fireballs. - Michael Sheehan
Honors English featuring Joe Budden - "Insanity Plea Parts 1 & 2"
A lot of people are talking about Honors English, at least in my circles. Needlz' artist really earned my attention with this song, "Insanity Plea Pt. 1 & Pt. 2." Joe Budden is the perfect fit for a song about working hard, isolation, and a decaying element of realness in the industry—and this called back to the Halfway House-era rhymes and flow that I personally admired. I appreciate the vocal dissolve between both emcees. I love Needlz' beat. This is an album-worthy song that would be a crossover hit if it got the attention and chance. The song might be about Rap, but it applies to so much more going on in the world/entertainment right now. The same way DJ Premier was so great at making two songs find a chemical bond, in its own sound, Needlz wins. Like Buckwild, Needlz has worked on so many great albums. However, I'm most interested in seeing what he does with Honors English. Not many younger guys can get away with opening and closing a song with, "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta," but H.E. has the mic in a choke-hold, with some great assistance to boot. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)