This week’s Sunday segment pulls from three artists with extensive careers, that are relatively new to the site. One has a nationally-distributed album released earlier this month. Another is a U.K. Rap veteran who is still breaking in North American Hip Hop culture. The last has been an underground due-payer for years, who’s recently been earning accolades through work with El-P, Das Racist and rocking over vintage Necro deep cut instrumentals.
Sean Born – “Pour Out Liquor”
Mello Music Group is quickly becoming one of my favorite labels of the last five years. They’re actually a label, and instead of just acting like one (Twitter/Facebook info and digital releases), they’re taking the risks to go aggressively with CDs, vinyl and fun promotional ideas. Projects like The Left’s Gas Mask, Has-Lo’s Conversation B and Sean Born’s Behind The Scale really excite me, even if I’m not super hip to the artists prior to release.
The last mentioned LP, from Maryland’s Low Budget affiliate Sean Born is the most recent standout. The best song on the album (according to me, anyway) is its parting shot “Pour Out Liquor.” At a time when Hip Hop often feels like it left the streets for the malls and the clubs, this to me, feels like a ghetto opera. Like Kendrick Lamar’s “Ronald Reagan Era” , this is a ballad for the sidewalks – a cinematic call to arms for the big talk and low action present in many of today’s kids. Still, Sean is far from preachy on the type of last-song-on-the-album joints that feels distinctly mid-’90s. Salute to MMG (the other one) and Sean Born, who trust in faith that record-buyers still support sight-unseen, based on reputation. I’m one of ’em.” – Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
Listen to “Pour Out Liquor” by Sean Born
Speech Debelle featuring Roots Manuva and Realism – “Blaze Up A Fire”
Yes, the work of UK emcee and Big Dada Records – for the second time – artist Speech Debelle was something that I too was guilty of sleeping on way longer than I should have. Yet the timing of my delayed discovery couldn’t have been better. I got a chance to experience the songs featured on Speech’s long-awaited second album Freedom Of Speech during a marathon CD-listening session the morning of February 13th. (The importance of this date will be made clear shortly) I was struck by a flow that while relaxed, measured and conversational still reatined a sense of urgency, introspection or at the very a least a “here-and-now” cognizance when it came to the lyrics. One of the standout tracks that illustrates this striking appraoch is “Blaze Up A Fire” featuring Realism and one of my across-the-pond favorites
Roots Manuva. “Blaze Up…” is about using rhymes to make sense of something, in this case, August 2011’s riots that began in Tottenham and quickly spilled into other areas in – and past – London. With each line the perspective and voice changes: a struggling community, frustrations and grievances ignored, now ready to boil over; the rioter who doesn’t have a problem burning even his own backyard because things everywhere are so hopeless; and the street-level female emcee telling pop music to go fuck itself. Which brings me to February 13th, the night of the Grammy Awards, when my home country’s hottest “female rapper” yelled without ever really saying anything, mugged for the camera without ever really emoting and hid behind a lot of fake explosions and costumes. Why didn’t it bother me as much as others, as much as it should have? Maybe it’s because I spent my morning with the real thing. – Mike Sheehan
Listen to “Blaze Up A Fire” by Speech Debelle featuring Roots Manuva and Realism
Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – “Unthinkable (Remix)”
It took me a good amount of time to catch on to Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire. That might sound ridiculous since he’s a new artist and barely catching the radar of the larger part of Hip Hop, but it’s kind of our jobs here at HipHopDX to know who’s hot before most people do. So yes, within this whole new class of rappers making a buzz, I seemed to have slipped on Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire. I know now from further research that he’s kinda warped, but pretty gifted. This track right here only really has a few bars from eXquire before launching right into Alicia Keys’ “Unthinkable” but they’re poignant bars nonetheless. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire did in under two minutes what Drake has tried to do throughout his mainstream career – acknowledge emotions without coming off as emotional. Some may argue Drizzy likes the taste of his own tears, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume otherwise. Here, eXquire goes and admits his craziness – stalking Facebook and all that – telling his ex-girl that she doesn’t need to fake her own death because he gets the picture. It’s a reasonable balance of sadness and regret, and I think that within the often seesawing emotions in rap happening right now, his approach is by far the best. This itty bitty freestyle is barely a notch in his relatively new career belt, but stylistically it proves that Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire got it right in one try what takes many three albums to accomplish. – Kathy Iandoli (@Kath3000)
Listen to “Unthinkable (Remix)” by Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire