Two of this Sunday’s songs call back to the 1990s underground Hip Hop movement in New York, with several artists who put in work during those vinyl-single days, and got some mainstream recognition (or at least cosigns) in the decade-plus since. Intermingled is some street Rap that deserves the recognition which equates to some of the industry pillars taking notice. 

One thing is in common: all three joints have that knock.

Billy Woods featuring Roc Marciano & Masai Bey – “Body Of Work”

Early this week, DX contributor Slava Kuperstein (@SlavaHHDX) emailed me this track, claiming it had one of the best beats (produced by Willie Green) in recent years. Previously familiar with all three emcees, I checked in and found other elements of the record that I liked. Yes, it’s a great beat and quirky production designed for three original voices of the East Coast underground. I just like the song’s message – be persistent. I love Rap that defies convention, and lyrically all three of these vets refuse to be average. Super Chron Flight Brothers, The Reavers, The U.N., Greneberg and Uncommon Records are all names you can trust musically – and if you haven’t previously heard any or all three, now’s a great starting point. – Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)

Listen to “Body Of Work” by Billy Woods featuring Roc Marciano & Masai Bey (Produced by Willie Green)

Cage – “Super Baked”

If anyone wonders what it would have been like if YouTube, message boards and blogs were around during the rise and evolution of artists like The Beatles, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Kiss and even The Beastie Boys, they wouldn’t have to look much further than Cage’s career trajectory over the last 10 years and the endless Monday morning quarterbacking that has accompanied it. All the aforementioned artists – whether due to less drugs, more drugs, different drugs, restlessness, falling-outs with collaborators and/or new inspirations and influences – have undergone shocking transformations in everything from matured lyrics to more complex sounds (okay, not Kiss) to fashion choices. Even their behavior in interviews was unrecognizable.

Maybe that’s why this week’s “Super Baked” is so jarring. This could have been from the Eastern Conference Records vault as easily as it could have been recorded yesterday. Either way it’s eye-opening as a sanctioned release after the progression from “straitjackets by Northface” to eating multicolored pills and sniffing kitty to collaborating with a member of Yo La Tengo and conversing in French with Kid Cudi in their Man Bites Dog homage “Maniac.” So when I heard the sparse very un-Def Jux-like production and lines like “What did I inhale, when will I prevail, I wanna ditch this bitch’s corpse and smoke out the hotel,” it brought me back to the days of Alex running with his Droogs and Deek De Silva smacking massage parlor hoes around.

After moving to Def Jux this version of Cage was like the family member no one wanted to talk about. After revealing so much in the poignant memoir-based tracks of Hell’s Winter and Depart From Me is the final stage of closure to ditch the alter-egos and acknowledge that the guy that made “Agent Orange” is the same voice that we heard on “Stripes?” Who knows but this is when things will really get interesting… – Mike Sheehan

Listen to “Super Baked” by Cage

Paypa featuring JD Era, Raekwon & Nick D’s – “Tried To Tell Em”

“I tried to tell em before, that I will not lose,” is the mantra repeated on this song, and it seems apropos for a guy like Paypa. I remember his track with Game and Jim Jones “I Am Bitches” (I still don’t know how to use “bitches” as an adjective, though) was a cool introduction, along with his string of Kanye-inspired videos and freestyles. Then his former label got into some legal issues and he dipped for a bit. It’s good to hear he’s back, because Paypa sounds like the type of rapper really hellbent on doing this and doing it well. While he’s not entrenched in the Chi-town Rap scene, it’s obvious the influences are there. On this cut, BINK! crafts a cinematic beat where the four emcees puff their chests out and take a stand in the name of victory. You can hear the determination in everyone’s voices, however it’s the most apparent with Paypa. He knows he’s weathered the storm very early on his career and the rest is an uphill battle, but hearing him demand his place in Hip Hop is admirable. Plus, a Raekwon verse speaks volumes (Paypa wasn’t really short on those though, since Game, Jim Jones and Rick Ross have all jumped on his songs). It’s weird though that in a game full of careers based on cosigns, Paypa isn’t at least given a fair shot. Hopefully that will change soon. – Kathy Iandoli (@Kath3000)

Listen to “Tried To Tell Em” by Paypa featuring JD Era, Raekwon & Nick D’s (Produced by BINK!)

Last Week’s Slept-On Piece