After one of the biggest release dates of the year, veterans are definitely on our minds. While J. Cole is expected to lead the Hip Hop/Rap charts this Wednesday in Cole World: The Sideline Story, releases came from the likes of Evidence, Phonte, J-Live, Cormega and 9th Wonder, among others. This week’s Sunday series also involves three New York City emcee veterans, from the island of Staten, the borough of Brooklyn, and the almighty Queensbridge.
Cappadonna – “Cuban Link Kings”
Outside of the nine core members of Wu-Tang Clan, Cappadonna was always the most deserving of that tenth spot. Though the mere suggestion and amendment to the legendary roster has been cause for controversy over the last 18 years, Cap frequently presented a style in the late ’90s that was as refined as anybody. Take classic cut “Winter Warz” from Ghostface Killah‘s Ironman solo debut, and you’ll see exactly why “Cappuccino” is stronger than the average.
Sadly, that show-stealing trait has been absent for much of Cappadonna’s career in the last decade. After his ’98 solo debut, The Pillage, Cap hasn’t been the emcee we were introduced to. “Cuban Link Kings,” produced by Phantom of the Beats, is Cap’s first single from The Pilgrimage, his upcoming Chambermusik album, a first in nearly four years. The song features thorough storytelling, and is broken in half to keep that suspense tight. A nicely reworked sample we first heard under DJ Premier‘s execution makes the record have that late ’60s, early ’70s feel that so many of us love about the Wu vibe. As Raekon, Ghost, RZA and Method Man have redefined their careers since 2009, Cappadonna is a fitting emcee to get a restored treatment. – Jake Paine
Listen to “Cuban Link Kings” by Cappadonna
Chemo featuring Tragedy Khadafi – “I Cried (Remix)”
Who would have thought that the voice that best complements the brooding genre-bending beats of a newer generation of Hip Hop producers would be a former Juice Crew affiliate with over 25 years in the game? Just as he did on our August 1st slept-on selection – the araabMUZIK produced “Narcotic Lines” – QB’s own Tragedy Khafadi delivers nothing but lean bars over the fat drums and clock radio guitars of UK producer Chemo’s “I Cried” remix. The genius of the emcee formerly known as The Intelligent Hoodlum is the way he drifts between shadowy Americana (“smooth as the O’Jay’s” as he watches the streets) and the sounds of Big Brother’s underground bunker “Bin laden with a facelift, stay on the low, assassinating a rapper like a pro.”
Yet the real star of the show here is Chemo. A fixture in the UK Hip Hop scence since the late ’90s and showing up a few times in the States like the Van Halen-sampled beat for Joe Budden‘s “Invisible man,” Chemo’s formal introduction to this side of the pond is this week’s Stomach of the Mountain album. With a sound that often veers into Trip Hop when it’s not serving up murky Funk, Stomach of the Mountain delivers new surprises with every listen. On the end of this remix there is a haunting vocal piece that pops in and drifts away just as quick. You know you’ve encountered a real artist when the “end credits” are still considered a perfect place to do some spine chilling. – Michael Sheehan
Listen to “I Cried (Remix)” by Chemo featuring Tragedy Khadafi
PackFM – “Want What’s Mine”
“I’m an admitted Anglophile and will basically like anything if it comes with a British accent. So in 2007 when I first heard Jai Paul’s “BTSTU,” I fell in love with the hauntingly sweet hums on the opening of the track. Then Drake comes along with “Dreams Money Can Buy” and he sampled the hell out of the song, but made it sound so emo in true Drake fashion. It was plumped up with the wah-wahs of being famous, as Drake’s ascending style has consisted of feeling sad and guilty as a stripper sits at the foot of his bed. It’s all so self-indulgent, yet he succeeds with it somehow. So anyway, when PackFM dropped “Want What’s Mine” this week, I was instantly impressed for a few reasons. One, he treated the Jai Paul track with respect, not looping the saddest part of the song to make himself sound sadder like Drake did. Instead, Pack let the beat move while he uttered true lyricist pleas for demanding what’s his in life. It’s a total paradox to Drake, who claims to have everything and it’s still not enough while Pack wants everything (not saying he’s without, but we all have less than Drake these days). PackFM’s version of this sample is a true testament to Hip Hop, much like most of what he does behind the mic. Pack claims to fucking hate rappers, but we fucking love him. – Kathy Iandoli
Listen to “What What’s Mine” by PackFM