This week features several underground veterans from East and West Coast going back to the early ’00s. Affiliates and former artists from Stones Throw, Duck Down, Rawkus, Eastern Conference, Definitive Jux and Mush Records all appear in the lineup with new work, going as strong as ever. This material hails from mixtapes and albums alike, and sparked some sincere interest from the Editorial staff at HipHopDX. Long live Hip Hop.
Red Eye f. Ruste Juxx, REKS, Reef The Lost Cauze, M-Dot, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Sha Stimuli, Nutso & Midaz – “Unfukwitable”
I usually have a huge problem with gigantic posse cuts. They tend to O.D. on rappers and you barely know who is who. This week, though, I must admit that this track right here caught my ears and wouldn’t let them go. “Unfukwitable” is the name and the hard roster is insane. Sure there are like 25 heads on this song (check the credits, you might even be on this track), but with the wailing sample on the hook coupled with the grizzly rhymes of dudes like Shabaam Sahdeeq, Sha Stimuli, Reef, REKS, M-Dot, etc. this is like a chapter from the Book of the Golden Age in its tone and content. It’s just some straight street shit, and in the midst of pretty boys, emo rappers, and champagne poppers, you need something like this to pump the Hip Hop lifeblood back into your veins every now and then. I dig it – unsung hooks, thorough basslines, hard lyrics and everything in between. While most rappers claim to be “unfukwitable,” it sounds like these guys actually live up to it. What makes me even happier is that I can safely say I’ve been a fan of every single one of these artists at some point in time. However, the fact that this song appears on the St. Fatricks Day mixtape is pretty hilarious, because I have no idea what the hell that really means. Then again, if Red Eye and them are housing tracks like this on the mixtape, I guess I should download it. Maybe you should too. – Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
Oh No f. Sticky Fingaz- “Whoop Ass”
Musicians – especially sample-based beatmakers – who follow the single rule of “working outside the box” will usually produce a directionless crowded clusterf*ck of a project. Without restrictions on size, scope and materials we get the sonic equaivalent of two scoops of Butter Pecan ice cream slapped onto a 24 oz Porterhouse. However, the flipside of this recipe for disaster can be found in artists like producer / emcee Oh No who with his last three solo albums has reminded us that inside the box is where the real magic happens. This is done by honing in, setting parameters and in Oh No’s case digging and chopping from a specific source or archive. Last Wednesday we got the first track from the upcoming Oh No meets Petey Wheatstraw / Dolemite / Rudy Ray Moore perfect storm of a project. Entitled “Ohnomite” it’s the album I’m most excited for this year and features the added bonus of emcees like Sticky Fingaz who can capture Rudy’s unhinged quality in their rhymes. Rather than feeling gimmicky Oh No’s work manages to pay tribute and direct a new generation of fans to the music of niche artists, genres and regions while keeping those things called albums alive just a little longer. Each project from the nothing-but-Galt McDermott “Exodus In Unheard Rhythms” to the Ethiopian-psych fest “Dr. No’s Ethipoum” has inspired me as both a musician and music geek. I’m sure “Ohnomite” will do the same. -Michael Sheehan
Aesop Rock – “Zero Dark Thirty”
When I was first discovering the New York underground Hip Hop scene in the late 1990s, Aesop Rock was one of the artists garnering some of the biggest buzz. I distinctly remember Urb magazine praising the then-Mush Records standout. When I finally heard Float and Labor Days, I was impressed, but also admittedly a bit jarred by such a strong delivery and dense listen. Some of my friends consider Aesop at the top of their emcee lists, but I rarely go back and listen much. I do know that Aesop faces what a lot of Rap artists do – a strong critique that his earliest works are his best. However unlike some of my personal favorites, Aesop seems to be disproving that lately. Last year’s Hail Mary Mallon project was a reader-favorite at HipHopDX to an extreme degree. Now at work on his first official full-length in five years, Skelethon, Aesop’s “Zero Dark Thirty” video jumped out at me this week.
Aesop is still as hard of an emcee to follow in a song as Twista or fast-chopping Busta Rhymes, but after repeated listens, I think this song is a brilliant commentary on the changing times musically and socially. As usual, Rhymesayers Entertainment works with the artist to find a captivating video, and not in many years has a video where the rapper barely moves been able to hold me. I hope Aesop’s project lives up to this potent and poignant early look, and I strongly suspect it will. I for one, feel as drawn to an Aesop song as I have since “No Regrets.” – Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)