Da Cloth – “Da Fixtape” review

Da Cloth is a hip hop outfit from Rochester, New York consisting of Mooch, Rigz, M.A.V., Rob Gates, Times Change, Illanoise, Symph & Speed. They first started making noise in the underground in 2016 when the group put out The Fixtape & then Broad Day Kidnaps the following year, but their profile grew as each member starting putting out projects of their own. Whether that be Mooch’s Boss Sauce, Rigz’ Roach Gutta Slums, M.A.V.’s Hoodlum, Rob Gates’ Rob Like Get Robbed as well as their respective collab albums The Only Way Out & The Dark Side of Nature (the latter of the 2 both feature Big Ghost Ltd. production front to back). But to continue their prolific year, everyone’s getting back together for another collective mixtape.

The tape starts off with “Last Dose”, where Da Cloth paint some vivid street imagery about over a deadly instrumental. The next song “Count Us In” is a Mooch solo cut about how his crew is gonna be winning over a boom bap beat while the track “Back Door” talks about the block being hot over an eerie instrumental. The song “Ask Me Why” opens about the ugly shit they’ve been through over an weepy loop provided by Nicholas Craven & after the “Hardest Out” skit, the track “When the Studio Talked Back” sees Rigz going solo to demonically attack wack rappers over an gritty boom bap from Chup.

The song “Shake ‘Em” gets violent over a chilling sample while “Speaker of the House” sees M.A.V. on his own talking about turning nothing into everything over an instrumental with a depressing atmosphere to it. The song “All About the Money” lyrically needs no further explanation with spine-tingling beat from Eto while the track “Role Models” celebrates their success over a boom bap beat with a killer guitar passage throughout.

The song “Hobbies” is a Rob Gates solo cut about busting his gun for fun over a grim instrumental from V Don while the track “Too Much” with Tekk 9 talks about there being enough nonsense & bullshit over a beat with a somewhat whimsical feel to it. The song “31 to 62” gets on their hustling shit over an electrifying instrumental while the track “Stretched” gets back with Tekk 9 once again to call out the rats over a boom bap beat with a bleak piano loop.

The closer “Ready” shows how ambitious they are over a rock-flavored instrumental while the first bonus track “Da Big Fish” talks about being top dogs over a desolate beat. The other bonus cut “Made Me What I Am” then discuses how they became the men they are today over some icy keyboards.

We all know Griselda have been the current Kings of New York for quite some time now but if you ask me, Da Cloth is right behind them. Each member continues to stand out in their own unique way & given how much all 8 of them have evolved in the last 3-4 years, hearing the crew together again in full effect has made them stronger than ever before.

Score: 4/5

Wise Intelligent – “Omnicide” review

Wise Intelligent is a 50 year old MC from Trenton, New Jersey coming up as a frontman of the Poor Righteous Teachers, who put out 4 albums together before disbanding in the mid-90’s. Since then, the man has kept himself busy by putting out a number of solo projects. The latest being this new 4-track EP produced entirely by the Snowgoons.

The EP kicks off with the title track, where Wise Intelligent talks about a number of things from Jeffrey Epstein to Trump originally planning to hold a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth over a woodwind-infused beat. The next song “Possibly?” ponders a number of things over an instrumental with a relaying, high-pitched vocal sample & an organ while the penultimate track “Before I Wake” talks about fighting the power over a shadowy beat. The EP then finishes with “His-Story”, where Wise Intelligent talks about the things people have said to him throughout his life over a symphonic instrumental.

Overall, this is a solid EP. I wish we got like 3 more joints, but the Snowgoons never disappoint behind the boards & everything that Wise Intelligent does a good job of tackling the issues that we face in the world today.

Score: 3.5/5

Lil Tecca – “Virgo World” review

Lil Tecca is an 18 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from New York City who blew up in 2018 off the single “Ran$om”. It would later be included on his debut mixtape We Love You Tecca that same year & would receive lukewarm reception. Fast forward a couple years later, Tecca is delivering his full-length debut.

The album kicks off with “Our Time”, where Lil Tecca calls out people using him for his newfound fame over an outdated dancehall beat. The next track “Actin’ Up” talks about his shawty over a rubbery instrumental with some luxurious keyboards while the song “When You Down” with Polo G & Lil Durk finds the trio touching down on loyalty over a trap beat with some impassioned piano embellishments. The track “Back It Up” talks about an ex of his over a flute-inflicted instrumental while the song “Chemistry” talks about his new chick over another boring dancehall beat.

The track “Royal Rumble” compares his newfound fame to that of the titular WWE event over a hyphy beat whereas “Foreign” is less of a song & more of a contest with to NAV to see who can bore you the most. The track “Selection” is a half-assed piece about wanting this woman to be his best friend over a decent instrumental from Skrillex & DJ Scheme while the song “Take 10” is pretty much the same thing except the beat is more undistinguished.

The track “Dolly” with Lil Uzi Vert finds the 2 getting braggadocious over an intoxicating instrumental while the song “Insecurities” talks about how he adores this woman no matter what over a cheerful beat from Nick Mira. The track “Tic Toc” talks about how no one wants beef with him over an instrumental kin to “When You Down” that I mentioned earlier while the song “Miss Me” talks about how he’s that guy over a somewhat quirky instrumental.

The track “True to the Game” with Guwop Reign sees the 2 talking about them never changing over a violin-tinged instrumental while the song “Closest to Heaven” gets back on the romance shit over a woozy beat. The track “Level Up” talks about hoping this woman means it when she says she loves him over a more soothing instrumental while the song “No Answers” talks about a chick acting stupid over an unexciting beat. The penultimate track “Last Call” over an acoustic trap instrumental & then the album ends with “Out of Love”, where Tecca talks about how fucked up the world is over a trap beat from Internet Money with a gorgeous piano loop.

I don’t mean any disrespect to the kid at all when I say this, but I think this album just goes to reveal Lil Tecca as a 1-hit wonder. The production choices are mostly bland & the rapping is more underwhelming than it’s ever been to the point where it just puts me to sleep.

Score: 1.5/5

Krizz Kaliko – “L.I.F.E. (Legend Immortal Forever Eternal)” review

Krizz Kaliko is a 46 year old rapper, singer & songwriter from Kansas City, Missouri known for being a Day 1 signing to Strange Music along with Kutt Calhoun. He’s put out a total of 6 albums & 2 EPs through the label since, with the latest prior to this being G.O. (God’s Order) in 2016. And even though that record was predominantly R&B, it was still damn-near perfect. However after a nearly 5-year hiatus, Krizz is returning with his 7th full-length album.

Things start off with “21, where Krizz & Tech N9ne talk about celebrating their birthday over a lively beat from Wyshmaster. The next song “Little” with Stevie Stone sees the 2 talking about having trouble on their minds over a nocturnal trap instrumental while “The Recipe” tries to seek answers from God over a suspenseful beat. The track “S.O.B.” calls out the frauds over a druggy instrumental while the song “Get Chose” talks about him freaking out.

The track “Borrowed Time” talks about how life is catching up to him over a moody N4 instrumental while the song “Bitches I Know” talks about how he be popping over a beat with some plinky keyboards. The track “Follow the Drip” links back up with Tech talk about how to find them over a monstrous trap instrumental while the song “What Do You Mean?” with King Iso finds the 2 talking about their grind over a skeletal beat.

The track “You” talks about being bottled up over a forlorn instrumental while the song “Drunk White Girls” with CJ Hicks is a humorous club banger backed by an off-the-wall beat from 7. The track “Let You Tell It” talks about how he’ll never leave the rap game over a druggy beat while the song “Amen” talks about being 95% here over a beat with some tavern sounding piano chords.

The track “Didn’t Need Woes” looks back on his childhood over an instrumental that kinda has a jazzy feel to it while the song “Foolish” with Rittz sees the 2 getting reckless over a cavernous trap beat. The track “Avoiding Mirrors” with Jelly Roll & Merkules finds the trio talking about being all fucked up over a chaotic instrumental while the song “Mad” with JL sees the 2 clapping back at people talking shit behind their backs over a trap beat with some keys & a rubbery bass-line. The closer “Coloring Book” talks about how they can never get him right over a dim instrumental & then the bonus cut “Understood” with Tech finds the duo talking about how they don’t sleep over a violin-inflicted beat.

Been a long-time coming but at the end of the day, this is a great comeback effort for Krizz. It’s got everything you love about him: Great rapping, even greater singing, well-written verses/hooks, banging’ ass production suiting the tone of each song & some well-incorporated features. Legend definitely solidifies Krizz as an OG of the culture & here’s to more albums from him in the near future. Welcome back, Kali!

Score: 4/5

Lex the Hex Master – “Haunted Mansion” review

This is the 3rd EP from Queensbridge emcee Lex the Hex Master, an artist who I’ve been keeping up with since late 2015 when he became one of the first artists to sign with Majik Ninja Entertainment. His latest EP Party Castle that dropped just a few months ago was the 1st in a 4-part series & even though it was more trap-flavored than anything he’s done before, it was a great way to kick the series off. But as fall approaches, Lex is already delivering the 2nd installment.

After the 9-second intro, the title track sets the tone for whole project as Lex talks about getting lit over a C.G. instrumental sampling Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” whereas the next song “Be Gone” takes aim at those who’re hating on MNE over a trap beat from Poetics with some melancholic piano-chords. “The Life” sees Lex showboating over an energetic beat while the track “Take It Off” is a wild strip club banger.

The song “S.A.L. (Sorry Ass Loser)” to me seems like a darker, modern version of 7L & Esoteric’s “Herb” while the penultimate track “Insane” with Blaze Ya Dead Homie & Boondox finds the trio talking about staying that way until the very end over an instrumental that has somewhat of a crunk feel to it. The EP finishes with “Bruja”, where Lex talks about a witch over a tribal beat from Charlie Beans.

This whole ongoing EP series are quickly becoming some of my favorite projects that Lex has ever put out point blank period & I’ll even say this is Party Castle on steroids. The club bangers on here in comparison to it’s predecessor are more refined from the hooks, production choices, lyricism & performances. At this rate, the next 2 installments are bound to be even better.

Score: 4/5

Armani Caesar – “The Liz” review

Armani Caesar is a 31 year old rapper from Buffalo, New York with a couple of mixtapes under her belt already. She just signed with Griselda Records at the beginning of 2020 after being featured on Westside Gunn’s FLYGOD is an Awesome God II, Armani is now making her debut on the label with a brand new EP.

After the “Sissy Intro”, the first song “Countdown” takes aim at those who think they can double-cross her over a boom bap beat from JR Swiftz with an old timey piano sample whereas the track right after “Macs 10s for Everybody” looks back on when she used to struggle over a sumptuous instrumental. The titular song shows off some clever wordplay over a lush beat while the track “Gucci Casket” with Conway the Machine sees the 2 rightfully proclaiming themselves as bosses over a boom bap beat with some twinkling keyboard arpeggios.

The song “Drillarama” with Benny the Butcher finds them flexing over a vibrant trap beat from the 808 Mafia, but then they hook back up on the track right after “Simply Done” to give the listener some facts over some nostalgic DJ Premier production. The song “Yum Yum” gets raunchy over a rubbery beat while the track “Palm Angels” talks about how her new man makes her ex look like shit over a sensual instrumental from Animoss. The song “Ginger Rothstein” charmingly brags over a glamorous instrumental & then the EP finishes off with a short freestyle on top of the instrumental to one of my personal favorite songs of all-time: “Searching” by Roy Ayers.

I was curious to hear what Griselda would do bringing a female spitter on the roster & Armani manages to hold it on her own pretty well. In contrast to her previous efforts, the sound on here is a lot more boom bappy as to be expected from the camp & her lyricism has improved as well. She can only go up from here if you ask me.

Score: 3.5/5

YoungBoy Never Broke Again – “Top” review

YoungBoy Never Broke Again is a 20 year old rapper from Baton Rogue, Louisiana with a plethora of mixtapes under his belt throughout the last 5 years of his career. However it wouldn’t be until 2017 when he dropped his full-length debut Until Death Called My Name which was not only pretty decent, but arguably his best work. But after a 6 month hiatus, YoungBoy is back with his sophomore effort.

The album starts off with “Drug Addiction”, where YoungBoy talks about being the life of the party over a bassy instrumental with some keyboards. The next song “Cross Roads” talks about being too rich for drama over a trap rock beat while “The Last Backyard…” talks about catching his haters in person over a menacing instrumental. The track “Right Foot Creep” talks about how he walks with a gun over an instrumental that doesn’t really have anything to it with an genuinely catchy bass-line while the song “Dirty Stick” talks about passing hollows to dudes over an dramatic instrumental.

The track “Kacey Talks” is actually a profound dedication to YoungBoy’s 1-year old daughter while the song “My Window” with Lil Wayne sees the 2 talking about collectin’ them dollars over a bouncy beat. The track “I’m Up” talks about how he’s still thuggin’ despite his fame that over an acoustic trap instrumental from Wheezy while the song “Off Season” is a painful love ballad with a buttery beat.

The track “All In” talks about making it out of the dirt pile over another acoustic guitar-tinged instrumental while the song “Dead Trollz” talks about catchin’ a body over an abrasive instrumental. The track “Fuck Ya!” talks about him shining over an uneventful instrumental while the song “Big Bankroll” redundantly flexes his wealth over a bland beat.

The track “Boom” boasts about how he gets places poppin’ over a dull instrumental the song “Reaper’s Child” pretty much says fuck how people be feel towards him over a dreary instrumental. The track “Murder Business” of course talks about killing people over a shadowy instrumental while the song “Sticks with Me” talks about all he ever needs over a mundane beat.

The track “House Arrest Tingz” talks about being damaged over a completely unexpected Buckethead sample while the song “To My Lowest” tries so hard to impersonate Young Thug down to the hook. The penultimate track “Peace Hardly” talks about his recent mental struggles over a beat with a slick guitar passage & then the album ends with “Callin’”, where YoungBoy gets on his gangsta shit with Snoop Dogg & they both coast on top of the instrumental finely.

If anyone has paid attention to my reviews in the past, then you should already know that I’m very accepting of trap music. That being said: Top is just as boring as almost every other project I’ve ever heard from NBA YoungBoy. I wish him well in his ongoing mental health struggles, but absolutely nothing about this dude’s music interests me whether it be the basic production or his lowbrow presence on the mic

Score: 1/5

Conway the Machine – “From King to a God” review

Conway the Machine is a 38 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who’s risen to prominence as a co-founder of Griselda Records with his brother Westside Gunn. The label has put out a lot of the most essential releases from the East Coast within the past 5 years & have quickly become one of the most well-respected crews in hip hop today. Although everyone on the team has always been working their asses off (especially as of late), Conway has definitely stood out the most in 2020. He dropped 2 damn-near perfect EPs in the spring with LULU & No One Mourns the Wicked but as the release of his long-awaited Shady Records debut God Don’t Make Mistakes approaches, La Maquina is finally delivering the highly anticipated prelude album From King to a God.

The opener “From King…” speaks on how Conway has become a brand over a grimy Daringer beat whereas the next song “Fear of God” with DeJ Loaf sees the 2 talking about how far they’ve come over an empowering Hit-Boy instrumental. The track “Lemon” with Method Man finds both wordsmiths talking about over a creepy beat while the song “Dough & Damani” is pretty much Conway’s equivalent to “‘97 Hov” off of Benny the Butcher’s 2018 magnum opus Tana Talk 3 down to the switch-ups in the instrumental. The track “Juvenile Hell” with Flee Lord & Lloyd Banks sees the 3 over a dusty Havoc beat & after the “Words from Shay interlude, the song “Front Lines” is a well written response to the murder of George Floyd backed by a demented Beat Butcha instrumental.

The track “Anza” with Armani Caesar finds the 2 talking about how their crew has the most money over a trap beat from Murda Beatz while the song “Seen Everything But Jesus” with Freddie Gibbs finds the 2 talking about their regrets over a boom bap instrumental with some fancy keyboard embellishments. After the “Words from Shay 2” interlude, the song “Spurs 3” with Westside Gunn & Benny the Butcher get on their pyrex shit over a somber instrumental while the song “Forever Dropping Tears” talks about how no one can deceive him a smooth beat from none other than Erick Sermon & Rockwilder. The penultimate song “Jesus Khrysis” talks about being in rare form over a cinematic instrumental from Khrysis whereas the closer “Nothin’ Less or More” talks about how he’ll forever keep it raw over a funky boom bap beat from none other than DJ Premier.

After years of hype, this album certainly lived up to my expectations & only enhances my excitement for [i]God Don’t Make Mistakes[/i]. Not only is Conway the most versatile he’s ever been before, but you can really hear how much he’s grown both as an artist & as a person throughout the years.

Score: 4.5/5

Maez301 – “HASAAN” review

This is the sophomore album from Maryland‘s very own Maez301. Setting his foot in the industry a few years ago with his debut mixtape Nowhere, the project eventually caught the attention of Ervin Pope & Jerome Taylor. Both of whom helped Maez sign with Strange Music in 2018 & just last fall, they put his self-titled debut showcasing versatility. And as the 1 year anniversary of that album approaches in a couple months, Maez & Ervin are back at it again with Hasaan.

The album kicks off with “Thank You”, where Maez talks about living how he wants now over a graceful beat. The next song “Eff U Thought” with Lex Bratcher sees the 2 clapping back at their detractors over a hard trap instrumental while the track “Like It” with E-40 finds both of them charmingly bragging about themselves over a hyphy beat. The song “R.I.P.” with Infinite E sees the 2 talking about women doing them dirty over a slow instrumental while the track “Back in a Minute” flexes over a playful trap beat.

The song “Sick” vents about almost taking his own life over a mellow instrumental while the track “Orange Blood” talks about wanting to be taken back to when life for him was sample over a trap beat from some luscious keyboards. The song “Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once)” talks about turning up over a vigorous instrumental while the track “Lately” tells this woman not to fuck with him over a punchy yet somewhat atmospheric beat.

The song “Don’t Go” with Leila is a decent R&B/trap fused duet about heartbreak while the track “She Say” talks about sex over a moody beat. The song “Never Go” talks about a bitch switching on him over a gentle boom bappy instrumental while the track “Stride” talks about a woman running back to him over a nocturnal beat.

The song “20879” with Ducemd & Infinite E sees the 3 boasting over a vibrant instrumental while the track “90047” with Bad Lucc finds the 2 showing the listeners how to get bread over a euphoric beat with a bit of a West Coast feel to it. The song “Destiny” talks about being made for this rap shit over an instrumental cooler than the ocean breeze while the track “Let U Go” is an acoustic ballad about moving on from this woman.

The song “Up” with Infinite E sees the 2 talking about how they’re on top over a glamorous instrumental while the track “Instagram Famous” is pretty much both of them getting back together again to talk about hoes with large social media followings over a plain beat. The closer “Real Real Love” repetitively talks about wanting an actually romantic bond over an unexpected synth-funk instrumental & then the bonus cut “Higher” gives thanks to the higher power over a synthy boom bap beat.

This is just as dope as the self-titled album & it’s another reminder of how talented Maez can be. The lyrics are a lot more personal this time around in comparison to previous efforts & Ervin Pope’s production continues to bring the best out of him.

Score: 3.5/5

Ketch P – “Out of Nowhere” review

This is the new surprise album from Inkster emcee Ketch P. Starting off as part of the quartet Street Justice, he eventually went solo & put out 3 mixtapes in the late 2000s. However, Ketch took a hiatus in 2013 & returned last fall by dropping the fantastic comeback tape Gift Certificate under Middle Finger Music. But almost 10 months since, he’s returning from the shadows with Out of Nowhere.

The “RKO” intro boasts about how Ketch made the album in a week over an upbeat boom bap instrumental from his Bad News Brown cohort Foul Mouth whereas the next song “9th Letter Flow” talks about being competitive on the mic over a Slum Village-inspired beat from Chanes. The track “My Addiction” talks about his flame over a classy instrumental from Simple Cuts while the song “Belle Isle Cookout” sees 2 Door Coupé getting together for a fun summertime bop. The track “Big Slick Energy” shows off his charisma over a boom bap instrumental with a faint sample while the song “Wildstyle” with A-Minus & King Bub Rock finds the 3 spitting some vicious battle bars over a fuzzy beat from Nolan the Ninja.

The track “Chugga Bounce” speaks on all the shit that’s happened to him in 2020 over a funky instrumental while the song “Get Money Organically” speaks for itself lyrically over a boom bap beat with a soothing loop. The track “Dazed Mind” spits pure pain over a meditatively jazzy beat while the song “Barry Sanders” with Rim sees the 2 getting rowdy over a dark beat from Blizzard. The closer “Legend Killers” then finds Bad News Brown hooking up with Bang Belushi, Jypsy & King Bub Rock to deliver that anti-radio rap over a trunk-knocking beat.

For a veteran, I think Ketch has only gotten better with time because this is neck-&-neck with Gift Certificate for his magnum opus His pen-game just keeps elevating nonchalantly & the production is as grimy as you’d expect from Middle Finger Music at this point.

Score: 4/5