This week’s Sunday segment features three Brooklyn, New York emcees spanning two generations of Hip Hop. Also included is a Yonkers legend and an unsung Philly musician with daring experimental Hip Hop sounds. Freestyle, collaboration and the art of the throwback quality are driving forces in our appreciation for these three records, one of which already boasts a video.
Nino Bless – “Get Ready (Freestyle)”
Thanks to Nino Bless‘ “Get Ready” my slept-on deliberation process this week was cut down to two minutes (or roughly 89 seconds less than the length of the track itself). That should be an indication of how jam-packed and head spinning this freestyle is. Let’s put it this way, if it was done over the “Rack City” or “Shot Caller” beat I’d still be impressed. The fact that Nino bypassed putting final nails into coffins and chose one of araabMUZIK’s more soulful departures is an added bonus. My typing and you reading all the gems is a senseless when the play button is so close. But what I can say is that aside from being a model for how to do a freestyle right, Nino’s work on “Get Ready” is also a sort of mashup of the things I love about my three favorite lyricists of all time. It has the triple-time precisely separated wordplay of Chino XL; the A-lister baiting alongside metaphors covering everything from current events, to high tech weaponry to the sports world. The track also builds a quick narrative around a list of similar items without sounding gimmicky. GZA did it with record labels, cars models, and celebrity names. “Get Ready” does it with Hip Hop blogs. And like Eminem’s best work, it has that off-the-cuff, half-rabid dog / half-relaxed with feet up on the Ottoman quality. Plus Nino can break into song, throw his voice and take shots at Nick Cannon without breaking stride. Sound familiar?
So if hearing this reminded me of my three favorite lyricists without wanting to hear my three favorite lyricists, does that mean Nino Bless is number four? I’m waiting for the album to find out. – Mike Sheehan
Lushlife featuring Styles P – “Still I Hear The Word Progress”
Twice times in the last six months, I’ve watched Philadelphia-based emcee/producer Lushlife open for acts performing in town. This DXnext alum definitely shocks the crowd with his “blunts and bitches” ’90s-inspired brand of emceeing and boisterous beats. Some (myself included) have jumped in, while others are more reserved and stand still in the crowd. “Still I Hear The Word Progress” uses collaboration effectively. D-Block’s Styles P is hard to argue with in making authentic music, and wins over Lushlife skeptics the same way that Percee P’s work with Edan around Beauty & The Beat cosigned that style of throwback Rap.
Lush’s upcoming Plateau Vision is a really exciting body of music that aligns with some of the bigger collaborations we’re seeing in the mainstream and Indie scene. For those unaware, this is a great glimpse at that LP’s contents. Moreover, as Styles has exhaustively worked with dozens (if not hundreds) of new faces and voices over the last 15 years, Lushlife meets The Ghost with some true creativity. I salute this production, honor the intentions of the emceeing, and certify this as one of my favorite collabs so far in 2012. – Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
Joey BadA$$ featuring Capital STEEZ – “Survival Tactics”
Ask any proud Hip Hop curmudgeon, and they’ll tell you that the biggest problem with new jacks in Rap is their inability to respect the greats. Back in the ’90s/early ’00s, the “old school” consisted of the ’80s. Now, knee-deep into the second decade of the 21st century, the “old school” is the ’90s. So hearing Joey BadA$$ and Capital STEEZ on my Slept-On pick this week, “Survivial Tactics,” I thought, “Damn! These teenagers know their definition of old school, back to front.” Despite being from Brooklyn, I hear a lot of New Jersey’s Artifacts in both Joey and Capital’s flows. I also hear BK’s Boot Camp Clik though, which explains a lot in their respective styles. The cut basically shows the Cinematic Music Group teens breaking down their pursuit of survival in the concrete jungle. It’s bold, it’s honest, it’s youthful uprising. The video is even better, as it’s just a stripped down motion picture of some kids running the streets. Last week, I picked Black Cobain’s “Triumph” freestyle for channeling Wu; this week it’s BCC. Both are futuristic, but nostalgic. As Capital STEEZ puts it, “I’m in Marty McFly mode, so tell ’em that the future’s back. – Kathy Iandoli (@Kath3000)