Evidence - "Waste Of Time"
The true test of a solid beat is if it can stand alone without the help of vocals. In Hip Hop this seems easier than you might think, though take any run of the mill beat from a chart-topping single, and you will probably be begging for a rapper to rock over it (it's the reason why so many current songs have a million different "freestyles" over it by a million and one different rappers). Evidence would seem like a no brainer to fall into the category of a producer with incredible instrumentals that don't require any rapper assistance. That's because he knows how to do both quite well. The Dilated Peoples leader can make a beat he'd love to take a stab at spitting over or just make one extensive lush soundscape to enjoy on a whole different level. "Waste Of Time" is an example of the latter. The Weatherman makes it rain at the opening with a sample of Super Beagle's "Dust a Sound Boy" (the same sample found on Kanye West/G.O.O.D. Music's "Mercy"). From there the beat erupts into a drum-heavy escapade with soulful sped-up riffs that give the instrumental just that extra something. Arriving on Ev's fourth installment of his "Tape" instrumental albums (this one is The Green Tape Instrumentals), "Waste Of Time" shows that while Evidence is incredibly adept at crafting complex beats and even more complex lyrics, he can still ride out and let the Californication take over. It's a laid back instrumental just in time to welcome the Summer. — Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Rickie Jacobs - "Puppet Master"
At the end of the Beautiful America EP's poignant "Puppet Master," Rickie Jacobs states, "I deserve every penny that's in your wallet for rapping about all these skeletons in my closet." What makes that statement so powerful after hearing the heartfelt rhymes that preceded it is that we're being asked to consider showing some respect for an emcee who has been an open book; honest about his insecurities, innocent past and current struggles. That proposition is an anomaly in Hip Hop. We're used to hearing rappers demand respect for their thick skin, life of crime and current bankroll. As a listener that doesn't feel like a fair trade. Someone who has the same fears as the rest of us is expecting to be lionized for what are probably a bunch of exaggerations and tall tales. "Puppet Master" is the antithesis of that and its accompanying video and ethereal production add a whole new dimension to Rickie's rhymes. As the synths wash over tolling bells, we see Rickie alone under a bridge drinking from a flask. Flasks usually mean there's a habit and he later reveals he is "one drink away from being an alcoholic." He then appears on the opposite end of the trestle rhyming to himself about a simpler time when "life was fun and summers were summers." As the haze clears and the road opens, he is truthful about what he deserves after years of showing resiliency in the face of the "ratchet epidemic" and substances to ease sorrows. Rickie is conscious of the fact that he's already opened up in a way most rappers are unable to or just plain refuse to. And for that honesty he may not get everyone's pennies but he definitiely deserves everyone's time. — Michael Sheehan
Kid Tsunami featuring Masta Ace - "Twothousand40"
This is the second Kid Tsunami song I'm spotlighting. His just-released The Chase may have been one of the more low-profile albums that dropped last week, but I think it may be one of the better efforts newly in retail. The Australian producer/emcee seems to have soliticited and collaborated tracks from '80s and '90s Rap veterans that feel like they were locked in the closet from their best albums. "Twothousand40" is no exception. Without spoiling the song, Masta Ace exercises his storytelling-concept tracks with sheer excellence. The song is also slightly self-deprecating, which is something that Ace has also brought to some of his post-2000 tracks. Just like "Catch Wreck" would have made sense on O.C.'s Jewelz, "Twothousand40" could be a snug outra on Ace's Long Hot Summer. And L.H.S. is as good (if not better?) than any Hip Hop album I've heard released in 2013, so this album stand-out was a welcomed treat to the wild week. — Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
RELATED: Evidence Speaks On Soundset, Dilated Peoples, & His Passion For Photography [2012 INTERVIEW]