The Bermuda – “The Madd Giants” review

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The Bermuda are a duo from Coachella Valley, California consisting of Mad Hatter & Ivy da Giant. They’ve been around for a little less than 4 years now, making their full-length debut in 2016 with Backyard Hooligans. But almost a month after dropping their mic session, they’re following it up with their debut EP.

It all kicks off with “Pow!”, where the duo trade charismatic bars back & forth over a funky boom bap beat. The next song “Lewis & Clark” finds Mad Hatter & Ivy comparing themselves to the explorers of the same name over a grimy beat while the track “Temptations” with King Serrano sees the 3 talking about keeping your head up over a slick boom bap beat with some jazzy horns during the hook. The song “Home” vents about being at a dead end over a melancholic instrumental while the track “Rugged” is laced with clever battle bars over a ghostly boom bap beat. The song “Luminous” talks about enjoying life over a beautiful guitar instrumental & then the EP finishes off with “Celebration”, where The Bermuda talk about the love they’ve gotten over a heavenly instrumental. Especially with the guitar solo at the end.

For an EP, this is the duo’s best work to date in my opinion. You really get a closer look as to who The Bermuda are & where they come from. The production on here is really tight as well. Really looking forward to see where they take things on the next project.

Score: 3.5/5

The R.O.C. – “Monsters Ain’t Real” review

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The R.O.C. is a horrorcore veteran from Detroit, Michigan who got his start as a member of the House of Krazees with Jamie Madrox & Monoxide. When the latter 2 went onto form the duo Twiztid & sign with Psychopathic Records, The R.O.C. hooked up with Skrapz to put out 1 last album under the HOK name before starting a duo of their own called HaLFBrEEd. Although they would only release 1 official album under the HaLFBrEEd name titled Kontamination, it would go on to become a horrorcore classic. Then in 2008, he signed to Psychopathic’s now defunct Hatchet House sub-label & put out his Welcome to the Darkside EP before “retiring” the following year. Eventually, The R.O.C. returned to making music in 2012 & signed to Majik Ninja Entertainment in 2014. His long awaited 3rd album Digital Voodoo finally saw the light of day in 2017 & would go down as his magnum opus in my personal opinion but 2 & a half years later, he’s treating fans with his 6th EP.

After the “Have Some” intro, the first song “From Beneath” finds The R.O.C. comparing himself to a demon to over an orchestral trap beat. The track “A Dream” talks about being in a nightmare over a frightening instrumental from Eric Davie while the song “The Chase” talks about being hunted down over a demented instrumental. And then before the “Next Time” outro, the title track paints a vivid picture of insanity over an electronic-tinged instrumental.

If we’re getting a new full-length album from The R.O.C. in 2020, then this is a fantastic appetizer for the main course. He’s always been the most underrated of MNE & this is no exception of proving that from his lyricism getting better with time to his ever-so chilling production skills. Really looking forward to a follow-up to Digital Voodoo.

Score: 4/5

Onyx – “SnowMads” review

Onyx is a revered hip hop duo from Queens, New York consisting of Sticky Fingaz & Fredro Starr. Their first 3 albums Bacdafucup, All We Got Iz Us & Shut ‘Em Down are rightfully considered by many to be East Coast classics. They went on to release 2 mediocre albums in the early 2000s before going AWOL, returning in 2014 with the Snowgoons produced #WAKEDAFUCUP. This was followed up early last year with the long-lost Black Rock but with Thanksgiving around the corner, they’re getting back with the Snowgoons to deliver a follow-up to the album that returned them to form.

After the intro, the first song “Who da Fuc?” finds Sticky & Fredro challenging their opponents over a boom bap beat with some suspenseful string sections. The next track “Robbing Hip Hop” with Bumpy Knuckles & NEMS sees the 4 comparing taking the game back to a burglary over a frightening instrumental while the song “Monsters Gorillas” with V Knuckles sees the 3 talking about being stone-cold killers over a suspenseful boom bap beat. The track “Rat Tat Tat” of course talks about guns which is cool, but the Quadro & UFO Fev features don’t do anything for me.

The song “Hoodies Down” finds Sticky & Fredro talking shit over an adrenaline pumping beat while the track “Kill da Mic” shows that their lyricism is still grittier than ever over mafiosi-like instrumental. The song “Street Art” with SickFlo sees the 3 showing y’all how hardcore hip hop should be done over a boom bap beat with a fantastic organ lead while the track “Trolling” with V Knuckles is an actually decent diss track towards Charlamagne tha God & 6ix9ine. The song “Ringolevio” flawlessly goes back & forth over a bloodcurdling instrumental while the track “Built Like That” talks from the heart about their courage & strength over an upbeat instrumental.

The song “Mad Shoot Outs” with Flee Lord lyrically needs no further explanation & the lugubrious instrumental fits very well whereas the track “I Got the Tec-9” continues the themes of the previous joint over a boom bap beat with some keyboards. The standard edition closer “Ain’t No Time to Rest” feels like a leftover from Onyx’s Shotgunz in Hell collab album with Dope D.O.D. & then the album finishes with the bonus cut “Good Fight”, which is an energetic crowd mover.

I’ve been wanting a #WAKEDAFUCUP follow-up for a while now & I’m finally glad they did it. Some of the features I could do without, but the Snowgoons‘ raw production yet again fits the duo’s cutthroat lyricism like a glove.

Score: 4/5

Dave East – “Survival” review

Dave East is a 31 year old rapper from Harlem, New York who first caught my attention as a part of the 2016 XXL Freshman Class. This earned him a contract with Mass Appeal Records/Def Jam Recordings & now after 3 years of mixtapes leading up, Dave is finally fulfilling fans’ hopes for his full-length debut.

The opener “They Wanna Kill You” talks about being glad that he never got shelved over a bland Swizz Beatz instrumental then the next song “Penthouse” talks about making it over an uneventful beat. The track “Godfather IV” with Nas sees the 2 trading verses over a classy DJ Green Lantern instrumental while the song “Need a Sign” talks about people acting cool with him now that Dave’s famous over a somber instrumental from araabMUZIK.

The track “On My Way 2 School” reflects on his time in school over a moody instrumental while the song “17” looks back at his adolescence over a woozy trap beat from Timbaland. The track “Mama I Made It” needs no further explanation over an orchestral instrumental while the song “OG” with Rick Ross gets sensual over a luxurious instrumental.

The track “What’s Goin’ On?” with Fabolous sees the 2 spitting charismatic bars over a synth-funk instrumental while the song “Baby” talks about his ride or die woman over a soul sample-inflicted trap beat. The track “Alone” is a trite reiteration of JoDeCi’s “Feenin’” while the song “Everyday” with Gunna sees the 2 talking about their new lifestyles over a dime a dozen trap beat.

The track “Devil Eyes” with E-40 & Mozzy sees the 3 talks about the life in the streets over a grim instrumental while the song “Night Shift” with Lil Baby sees the 2 flexing over a vibrant Murda Beatz instrumental. The track “Wanna Be a G” with Max B finds the 2 talking about a kid who wants to gangbang over slow yet rhythmic instrumental while the song “Me & Mines” talks a homie of his over a jazzy beat.

The track “Daddy Knows” is a touching tribute to his daughter Kairi with a neo-soul flavored instrumental while the song “What You Mad At?” finds Dave angrily going at his haters over a churchy sample that later switches up into a tense boom bap beat. The penultimate track “On Sight” is a decent club banger & then the closer “The Marathon Continues” of course pays tribute to Nipsey Hu$$le over a boom bap beat with some keys.

As much as I love Dave, this was just decent. He’s definitely still a great lyricist, but it’s longer than it needed to be & a bit too focus-grouped for me. Nonetheless, he’s earned the right to make it as far as he has & I hope the album’s gonna do well on the charts.

Score: 2.5/5

Maez301 – Self-titled review

Maez301 is a 26 year old rapper from Gaithersburg, Maryland that first got his start in 2017 with his debut mixtape Nowhere. The project eventually caught the attention of Ervin Pope & Jerome Taylor, both of whom helped Maez get a record contract with Strange Music last year. And as the label closes out 2019, they’re letting Maez shine with his self-titled debut entirely produced by Ervin.

The intro “Change” finds Maez pouring his heart out over a mellow instrumental while the next song “Advance” starts bragging over a nocturnal trap beat. The track “On One” talks about his newfound success over an instrumental with a chill West Coast feel to it while the song “Ay” with Tech N9ne sees the 2 talking about being on top of the game over a colorful instrumental.

The track “Rider” with Infinite E sees the 2 talking about their main chicks over a dream-like instrumental while the song “Fuck No” with Nef the Pharaoh sees the 2 talking about not loving hoes over a galactic instrumental. The track “Fake Love” with Leila sees the 2 talking about a chick frontin’ over a smooth trap beat while the song “Get ‘Em” goes at his competition over a minimalist instrumental. The track “Emoji” is a sensual R&B tune while the song “Watch Me” angrily raps about his haters over a suiting instrumental.

The track “Fucked Up for You” vents about an ex over a chilled out instrumental while the song “No Rest” finds Maez pouring his heart out over a vibrant instrumental & I absolutely love the Travis Scott homage in the hook. The track “Dream” with Black Jesus talks about chasing their lifelong goals over a relaxing beat with this prominent acoustic guitar while the song “Made It” of course continues to brag about Maez’ success over a rich instrumental. The track “Dogg’n These Hoes” gets back with Infinite E to talk about just that over a trap beat with some Neptunes inspired piano chords & the song “Grab a Bag” while repetitive is a catchy club banger.

The track “Switch” talks about how he came a long way over a moody instrumental while the song “Break Your Heart” talks about making it right with his girl over a funky beat. The penultimate track “Real Bitch” talks about needing a good woman over a futuristic sounding trap beat & then the album ends with “Momma”, where Maez pens an endearing tribute to the woman who gave him life over a spacey beat.

To me, this kid is the future of Strange Music alongside King Iso. The features were hit or miss for me personally with my favorites being Tech & Nef, but Maez has a lot versatility & I really think Ervin’s production really helps hone that in. Really excited to see him grow as an artist & what the label has in store for him next.

Score: 3.5/5

Crimeapple – “Viridi Panem” review

This is the 8th EP from rising New Jersey spotter Crimeapple, who first blew up in the underground with his Sweet Dreams EP that dropped on Halloween a couple years ago. This was followed up with his Big Ghost Ltd.-produced debut Aguardiente the following year but if dropping Wet Dirt with DJ Skizz & Medallo with DJ Muggs wasn’t enough for Crimeapple in 2019, he’s decided to close out 2019 with Viridi Panem.

After the “Initium” intro, we go into the first song “Lupos”. Where Crimeapple talks about being the greatest over a demented boom bap beat. The next track “Entenmann’s” compares the cocaine he’s pushing to the titular donut shop over a cavernous boom bap beat while the song “D’Angelo Vickers” gets mafioso over a gritty beat.

The track “Alium” gets romantic over a slow yet eerie instrumental while the song “Phil Spectre” goes at his competition over a ghostly instrumental. The penultimate track “Dead Gringos” of course gets murderous over an ambient/boom bap fusion & then the EP ends with “Time to Go”, where Crimeapple brags over a soulful instrumental.

This is yet another example of why Crimeapple is one of the best MCs in the underground right now. His lyricism continues to stay grittier with each release & even the production from Buck Dudley is pretty hard as well.

Score: 4/5

Ketch P – “Gift Certificate” review

Ketch P is a veteran from Inkster, Michigan known for being a member of the quartet Street Justice. He’s released a few solo mixtapes in the past like What Happened? & Motown is Back but with the help of Middle Finger Music, he’s returning from a 6 year hiatus with Gift Certificate.

The tape starts off with “Welcome/Whatupdoe”, where Ketch reintroduces himself over a classy soul sample. The next song “313” is filled with witty battle bars over an beat from Chanes while the track “Doap Pusher” compares himself to a drug dealer over a vintage beat from Peace of Mind. The song “Kareem & Shaq” finds Ketch liking him & his Bad News Brown cohort Foul Mouth to the legendary Lakers players of the same name over an alluring boom bap beat while the track “Ode to the Roots” pays tribute to those that came before him over an instrumental from Jimbo Slice with these Godly background vocals.

The song “Back Outside” with Finale & Vstylez sees the 3 talking about shutting shit down over an uplifting instrumental from Blizzard while the song “Middle Finger Trophies” with Bubba Rock & Rim finds the 3 getting bellicose over a soulful boom bap beat. The song “Boom Bap Shit” pays homage to the titular subgenre over a soulful instrumental while the track “Get the Money” with Isaac Castor talks about making dough over some claps & a fitting vocal sample. The song “Street Justice Nigga” with Jypsy sees the 2 reminding their competition who they’re dealing with over a boom bap beat with some strings & horns while the track “Death Soup” with Guilty Simpson & Paradime finds the 3 talking about Detroit being untouchable over another soulful boom bap beat.

The song “Top 10s & Buffs” talks about Middle Finger Music being in the house over a Foul Mouth beat with some eerie vocals looped throughout while the track “Poured Up” of course talks about alcohol over a wavy boom bap beat. The song “Like This” sees the 2 getting romantic over a delicate beat then the closer “Fish Grease” takes the opportunity to showcase Ketch’s lyricism 1 last time & not only do I like how the instrumental switches from being organ-inflicted to something funky, but I love how he speeds up his flow during the last 30 seconds.

I’ve been waiting for this all year & at the end of the day, it’s easily Ketch’s best work to date. Middle Finger Music has been reminding me for the past year now that they’re one of the best labels in the underground right now & this is no exception, as Ketch P’s lyricism has gotten sharper with time & the production continues to be grimier with each release the label puts out.

Score: 4/5

Brother Ali – “Secrets & Escapes” review

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This is the surprise 7th full-length album from Minneapolis veteran Brother Ali, the activist/battle emcee that first exploded in the underground with his 2003 sophomore album Shadows in the Sun along with his 2007 follow-up The Undisputed Truth. He just made a fantastic comeback in 2017 with All the Beauty in This Whole Life & with the Halloween season being over, he has teamed up with Evidence for Secrets & Escapes.

The opener “Abu Enzo” talks about where he comes from over a lush instrumental while the next song “Situated” with Pharoahe Monch finds the 2 spitting battle bars over a boom bap beat with a soul sample cutting in & out. The “Greatest That Never Lived” charismatically brags over a spooky instrumental while the song “Father Figures” talks about the people Ali looks up to over a reclining beat. The very short “Apple Tree Me” gets threatening over a ghostly instrumental while the song “Red” finds both Ali & Evidence showing off their own levels of lyricism over a suspenseful beat.

The title track talks about internal conflict over a chilling instrumental while the song “De La Kufi” with Talib Kweli of course sees the 2 kicking knowledge over savory soul sample. The track “Red Light Zone” disses those who be clout chasing on the internet over a funky beat & even though “The Idhin” is brief, Ali comes through with some vivid bars over an almost ambient-like instrumental. Then there’s the closer “They Shot Ricky”, where Ali shows off his storytelling talents over this jazzy instrumental.

Wasn’t expecting this, but it’s one of his best efforts yet. Even though it’s a little over a half hour long, there’s a prominently fantastic chemistry between Evidence’s top notch production & Brother Ali’s intelligent lyricism. If you wanna hear 2 underrated titans from the midwest & the west coast, then PLEASE give this a listen.

Score: 4/5

Earl Sweatshirt – “Feet of Clay” review

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This is the new surprise EP from Illinois born/California raised lyricist Earl Sweatshirt, known for being a member of the now defunct Odd Future collective. He made his debut in 2010 with his only mixtape to date Earl which was solid, but Earl’s mother would send him to a therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys in Samoa sometime after until February of 2012. Earl was then granted his own Columbia Records imprint Tan Cressida Records & released his debut album Doris in 2013 to critical acclaim for improving on Earl. Then came the duo Hog Slaughta Boyz with OF affiliate Na’kel at the beginning of 2015 along with Earl’s sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside a couple months after. Many of which consider to be better than Doris for it’s darker aesthetic. Earl laid low until last November with his magnum opus Some Rap Songs & almost a year later, here we are with Feet of Clay.

The opener “74” is pretty much Earl shittalking over a grimy piano sample while the next song “EAST” touches down on alcoholism over an odd accordion sample. The track “M.T.O.B.” talks about the death of his father over a soulful instrumental while the song “OD” venting about loneliness over some horns & background vocals. The track “El Toro Combo Meal” with Mavi sees the 2 getting reflective over a smooth instrumental while the song “Tisktisk / Cookies” vents about depression over a dark instrumental. Then the closer “4N” with Mach-Hommy finds the 2 talking shit just like the opening cut & I really like the clever Michael Henderson sample on here.

This was a nice lil Halloween surprise. It feels more like a small collection of Some Rap Songs leftovers from the lo-fi production as well as the content & the brevity, but I’ll take it. Can’t wait to see where Earl takes things on the next album.

Score: 3.5/5

Yelawolf – “Ghetto Cowboy” review

Yelawolf is a 39 year old rapper, singer & producer from Gadsden, Alabama who first came onto the scene in 2005 with an honestly mediocre debut album Creekwater. He eventually broke out onto the mainstream in 2010 with his Trunk Muzik mixtape & eventually signed to Shady Records/Interscope Records & releasing his sophomore album Radioactive: Amazing & Mystifying Chemical Tricks the following year. A focused grouped, yet still fun major label debut. He then returned in 2015 with Love Story, where he started to incorporate country & rock music into his style. But when his childhood friend Shawty Fatt passed away at the tail-end of 2016, it caused him to disappear from the scene for a while. The man fortunately returned with Trial by Fire, a self-produced & refined sequel to Love Story. Yelawolf just fulfilled his contract with Shady/Interscope this past March with Trunk Muzik III & a little over 7 months later, we’re now getting his 6th full-length album.

After the “Mama Wolf” intro, we go into the first song “Unnatural Born Killer”. Where Yela claims himself as just that over an abrasive instrumental. The track “Opie Taylor” finds Catfish Billy comparing himself to the famous Ron Howard character of the same name over a relaxing instrumental from DJ Klever while “Box Chevy VII” is another banging installment of Yelawolf’s titular song series.

The song “Here I Am” talks about whooping someones ass over a sweet guitar line while the track “Still Ridin’” talks about leaving Shady/Interscope over a funky bass-line & some keys. The song “Lightning” tells the story of Tommy over a horror-esque instrumental while the track “Renegades” is taken off of Yelawolf’s 2016 EP H.O.T.E.L. (House Of The Endless Life). The song “So Long” is a decent country rap anthem about relationship issues while the track “You & Me” is a cool follow-up.

After the DJ Paul skit, he actually gets with Yelawolf on “Country Rich” to talk about being a rich hip hop artist from the south over an acoustic guitar. The penultimate track “Keep on Rollin’” with Big Henry & Cub da CookUpBoss is an average sequel to the song they did on Trunk Muzik III. The album then finishes off with the titular song, where Yelawolf declares himself as such over a druggy beat.

For this being his first release off Shady/Interscope, I enjoy this. It’s like a mixture between the Trunk Muzik era as well as the Love Story & Trial by Fire eras. If this is the road he wants to keep traveling down in the future, then I’m all for it.

Score: 3.5/5