After years of quietly putting themselves out on notice without whoring themselves out like every other group of 'mixtape rappers', Strong Arm Steady finally graces us with Deep Hearted, their debut LP.
The theme here is simple (and a nice spin on Tony Touch's 50 Emcees tapes): 50 verses over 50 beats, no hooks or cohesive stories or sketches, and no underlying theme other than to show off the ridiculous lyrical skill Termanology brings to the table.
Like every Bone release since Art of War, I really didn't expect much from Strength & Loyalty off the Swizz-owned Interscope imprint Full Surface Records
Domingo has supplied some of the most definitive beats for more than a decade and is every bit as responsible for carving the classic East Coast flavour as damn near anybody out there.
To be blunt, why so many people don't think a post-9th Wonder LB is worth a damn is beyond me. Don't get me wrong, 9th is ill and deserves all the love he gets, but Pooh and especially Phonte are the absolute truth when it comes to mic controlling.
If it is at all possible to compare his music to that of other artists - it'd have to be Lauryn Hill and Mos Def, as is often the case. Not that he sounds anything like them, he's just that good.
Ohene takes what seems to be a scientific approach to building the LP. Don't worry, you're not going to get a lot of intellectual, scholastic imagery and shit that's near impossible to understand; that's not what The Rapademics is.
For the most part, Natural Selection 2.0 isn't all that different from its predecessor, but there are two key features this time around that put it on a slightly higher level.
For example, his debut connected the story of Rocafella's rise and fall - connecting Hov and Dame with the classic comedy Trading Places, starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd. Do the math in your head and you should understand the hilarity.
Once again, the wit and the lyrical talent is all there - it's the effort that isn't. What gets me the most is that despite a complete lack of effort and focus, the Mighty Mos Def can still stomp the shit out of most emcees these days.
It's funny, once a upon a time we praised the likes of Kanye, Roots Crew, and Little Brother for being a "breath of fresh air." I don't think we can say that anymore. This is Hip Hop. It is. Class dismissed.
Defintiely not the most talked-about comeback in rap music today, Hip Hop legend CL Smooth dusts off his mic to bring us his first ever solo release, and his first real project since his fallout with co-legend Pete Rock.
Now, he may never go platinum or hit #1 on the Billboard, or even get voted in on 106 & Park, but I don't give a fuck - AZ is the truth.
The truth of the matter is, Release Therapy is a product of timing. You may hate me for holding this higher than his first two major releases, but Ludacris reached a new plateau and opened up a whole new dimension with this project. It's timing.
"It's not what you know, but who you know." That being said, I give you My Brother's Keeper, recorded by Lake, featuring Cormega. That tagline alone should tell you what's up - a relatively famous emcee trying to make his unknown friend known.
Chief Kamachi really supplies that authentic street swagger every rapper and their mom fails to emulate these days.
This is why, even though you can say Misery Loves Comedy lacks that off-the-wall diversity Sin-A-Matic was famous for, it has much more direction and brings a stronger sense of self.
You can add one more solid release to your shelves, because Natural Selection is quick to please. Important for any growing label, it captures the truly unique and definitive resonance Nature Sounds has.