The NFL season gets its formal kick-off today (with a teaser this past Thursday). As a number of games hold your attention, three deserving emcees, all make a bid. A Michigan Hip Hop pioneer gears up for his latest concept album this week, and revisits a 2008 diamond in the rough, featuring another deft “mitten” spitter. Also included is the Queens rapper who ascended from J-Love mixtapes to appearances alongside Wu-Tang Clan emcees in the same year, and the biggest emcee outta Kansas, ever?
One Be Lo featuring RoSpit, T Calmese and Elzhi – “Clap”
This summer saw veteran Michigan emcee – and one half of duo Binary Star – One Be Lo dropping not just one but two mixtapes of previously released material. Usually nothing more than tools for hype that make the diehards yawn without winning over new ones, these mixes – titled Laborhood Parts 1 & 2 respectively – manage to stand on their own as cohesive collections. The Laborhoods get long time fans ready for the next proper album and show the uninitiated why One Be Lo is worth the hype and their time. The mixes feature gems like “Clap” (originally released in ’08 on Octane & Illite’s The Forgotten… Chosen) With a set of 16s over a beat that is mostly chunky drums – save for a sinister organ sustain – it’s undeniable that the chemistry between One Be Lo and fellow home state legend – and former Slum Villager – Elzhi overshadows just about everything else on the track. Just as they did on Binary Star’s “The KGB,” the two emcees snatch metaphors most other rappers wouldn’t touch while proving that rhymes can glide no matter how grimy the track is. With everything copacetic again between “Bad” and “Evil,” the next thing for the wish-list should be an entire album featuring the two stars of “Clap.” With Elmatic being a smash hit and One Be Lo’s L.A.B.O.R. finally out this week, who knows what will follow? – Michael Sheehan
Listen to “Clap” by One Be Lo featuring RoSpit, T Calmese and Elzhi
Action Bronson – “Tapas”
This little gem was on Peter Rosenberg‘s What’s Poppin Vol. 1 mixtape. The mixtape has a whole bunch of good songs, but this one stuck out the most to me. Action Bronson is a funny character. When I close my eyes, I see Ghostface Killah, but when I open my eyes I see a white Rick Ross who raps about food because he’s a real chef (no diss, Raekwon). He’s entertaining in the most complimentary way, and this track exemplifies Bronson’s lyrical dexterity and unapologetic sense of humor. The first thing that caught my attention was the M.O.P. “Ante Up” sample that production team Party Supplies used. It was subtle but a total contrast to the “Hawaii Five-0” sounding sample that rocks most of the track (if anyone can confirm what that sample is, let me know). Then you got Bronson rhyming about poutine (we Jersey folk call them “disco fries”) followed by comparing uterine walls to leather. It’s hilarious and slick and everything that Action Bronson is slowly building his rep up to being. – Kathy Iandoli
Listen to “Tapas” by Action Bronson
XV – “BITSTU”
I remember speaking to XV for interviews with AllHipHop.com and Skope magazine back in 2006. When he released his debut album, Complex, the Wichita, Kansas emcee seemed like a guy who was going against the grain with a peculiar sound. I never imagined XV could do so much with such limited resources; five years later, and XV went from outcast to trend-setter.
The Warner Brothers Records emcee and frequent J. Cole collaborator takes a concept as simple as being, well, back in the studio, and uses a vintage Slum Village-like flow, and a lot of personality to make it work. With exceptional beat choices that frequently pull in Indie and Electronic fans, XV shows that you can make an interesting song about the mundane. Fresh off of a tour with Casey Veggies, ‘in da stu’ is where Hip Hop wants XV, with an album hopefully wrapping up with a nice budget for samples. – Jake Paine
Listen to “BITSU” by XV