Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV broke another iTunes record, the second time that’s happened in less than a month. One of Wayne’s affiliates and former collaborators is still promoting his own summer album, while an unsigned DJ Green Lantern protege continues to push with stellar mixtapes and his own spin on big budget beats. Lastly, a former Def Jux artist and Perceptionist emerges with a special project that will make producers salivate.
Fakts One – “Still Getting Mines”
This week DJ Fakts One returned to the Hip Hop game with his all instrumental collection The Chop Shop. As part of an immensely talented trio – The Perceptionists with Akrobatik and Mr. Lif – and with his debut album Long Range being one of 2008’s most overlooked – Fakts has proven that “under the radar” can be a niche rather than a career flaw.
The Chop Shop is one of those rare hip hop instrumental collections that sidesteps all the things that usually make the format feel superfluous and agonizingly dull. First, the tracks are more like beat vignettes than songs, packing all the flavor and nuance into 90 second bursts that refuse to loop. And between the dense sample stacking and off kilter timing, the tracks are probably better without any emcees – or at the very least a perfect way to test for genius-levels of dexterity when it comes to rhyming.
“Still Gettin Mines” has all the things that still makes those old J Dilla, RZA and Godfather Don beats feel dangerous; household and found sounds used for percussion and anchoring a beat while predictable melodies of a certain genre are made unpredictable after being warped by effects or pounded out by instruments that have no business being in the mix. Back when the adjective “grimey” really meant something more than a lack of Pro Tools plug-ins. – Michael Sheehan
Listen to “Still Getting Mines” by Fakts One
Emilio Rojas – “Maybach Music 2 Freestyle”
With every Emilio Rojas leak and freestyle, it sounds like he gets progressively better and better. Sure, we’re all waiting for his voice to crack, but Talib Kweli‘s never did (no shots) and he’s still a kingpin rhyme spitter. In Emilio’s case, he has this reckless tone at times discussing life and love, crew loyalty / desertion and just an all around storytelling capability that alot of rappers lack as of late. “Maybach Music 2” is a tough beat to tackle. Not only because J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League crafted a cinematic beat tailor made for Rick Ross, but because the strings and synths give this air of a lavish life that we know Emilio is presently not living. The paradox works somehow though. He didn’t call it “Nissan Music” or “Honda Hatchback Music.” He retained the title, took the gloss and threw some mud on it. He also backed his spit up with the cautious optimism and the hope of something better. “You should spend less time sleepin’ and turn your dreams to actions.” Now that he’s getting Jay-Z by way of BBC to sponsor his mixtape, hopefully he’ll one day have his own Maybach to dismantle. Well done, Mr. Rojas. – Kathy Iandoli
Listen to “Maybach Music 2 Freestyle” by Emilio Rojas
Jay Rock Featuring Kendrick Lamar – “Code Red”
This summer, Jay Rock released his debut Follow Me Home. The Top Dawg/Strange Music release had some truly brilliant moments, and “Code Red” is certainly one. Just in his early twenties, Jay Rock has lived the actual life that most emcees fictionalize. He’s had close friends murdered, grown up in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America, and sustained a career in Rap for over five years. On one of the album’s sleeper cuts, Rock pulls in one of 2011’s biggest stars, Kendrick Lamar in a defiantly Gangsta Rap moment.
JR made a lot of songs for Follow Me Home radio-friendly, and easy for the masses who have followed him through a Tech N9ne signing and a Dr. Dre nod, but this is the Jay Rock that got him discovered, and this is the type of lyrically-deft, but hard-nosed rap that’s an endangered species in the Ray Ban era. A simple video of a great song, and Follow Me Home ought to be reconsidered by all who overlooked it. – Jake Paine