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Great Rappers You Slept On: Pumpkinhead (RIP)

*This piece initially ran on February 18th: Brooklyn is a hip-hop, Mecca. Home to the likes of Notorious B.I.G, the…

*This piece initially ran on February 18th:


Brooklyn is a hip-hop, Mecca. Home to the likes of Notorious B.I.G, the borough has birthed some of the most thorough emcees of our time. This week I’m going to focus on one insanely underrated BK bred emcee, Pumpkinhead. Now known professionally – on the battle circuit – as PH, Pumpkinhead, who got his first break on the Stretch & Bobbito Show, first made noise in 1997 with the single Dynamic. The joint received major mixtape burn thanks to it’s Beat Junkies remix, which featured a host of artists including a young Oh No (now known to the world as Jean Grae).

Pumpkin released two solo (indie) projects but failed to achieve any mainstream success until his critically acclaimed Orange Moon Over Brooklyn (OMOB), which dropped in 2005 on Soulspazm/Rawkus. The project, which was produced entirely by Marco Polo, was a breath of fresh air, and allowed PH to showcase his skills on a whole other level.

“I don’t really care whether you order it, purchase it at the local record store, or download it directly to your iPod like I did. All I can say is this – Pumpkinhead’s “Orange Moon Over Brooklyn” is worth getting by any means necessary.”

– Steve Juon, Rap Reviews (circa 2006)

It’s bigger than records, though. PH is noted among the elite in the field of Battle Rap. He won Braggin’ Rites in both 1998 and 1999 and made the semis of the Blaze Battles in those same years. With a handful of more classic wins in the turn of the century, PH quickly became one of the biggest names in the New York underground – and eventually became president of the Grind Time New York Division. After a hiatus to tour, PH finally returned to the ring with a classic win over Dizaster, who most notably slaughtered Canibus and faced Philly-rapper Cassidy.

Since OMOB, PH has started his label, released numerous mixtapes, appeared on multiple compilations, released a group album with his Brooklyn Academy crew and continued to actively battle.

If you slept on PH, it’s no problem – because the magic of the Internet can allow you to explore his catalogue. He’s an amazing lyricist. If you will, he’s a rapper’s rapper. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of our fave PH joints below. Give him a spin.


UPDATE 06/10/15

In EXTREMELY disheartening news, Pumpkinhead died early Tuesday morning at the age of 39. I learned of his passing on Facebook. He was extremely well respected in the underground world, and in my brief interactions with him after I initially wrote this piece, he was a great guy – very humble. Condolences to his family. He lives on through his music.
Great Rappers You Slept On: Pumpkinhead (RIP)

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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Florida Wants You To Know That “Rapping” Is Back In Style

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become…

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become more about beats and aesthetics than lyricism and rhyming. Not to write off any ‘new wave’ artists doing it big, but let’s just say when a tape drops with beats by Metro Boomin, I’m there for Metro.

Florida rap is different because it has garnered an underground scene that thrives by producing lyrical artists. This underground scene has recently been compared to that of Brooklyn’s in the 90s, where real, gritty, bar-for-bar rap is making a huge comeback. But to fully understand the difference between underground rap in Florida and mainstream rap from places like Atlanta, New York City, and Los Angeles, you have to know about some of the scene’s best —and most overlooked — artists.

Denzel Curry

You can’t discuss Florida rap without bringing up XXL Freshman Denzel Curry. Denzel began to establish himself in the new wave of underground hip-hop after Spaceghostpurrp created the group “Raider Klan.” Raider Klan never got the full attention it deserved, but it did put some promising MCs on the map before it fell apart, and Curry wasted no time growing a successful career of his own after the fallout.

 

His rapping style is experimental, to say the least; what stands out is that he is rapping. Imagery and wordplay alone could earn him recognition, but this isn’t what makes him stand out. He possesses the unique ability to turn rhymes on their heads in the blink of an eye. By quickly switching his densely narrated flows, Denzel throws curveballs at his listeners and accelerates his stories like no other modern MC. Listening to Denzel Curry is like enjoying a novel; you always leave with more than you came with.

Nell

Nell is another MC who emerged from Raider Klan’s underground presence. With a unique style based on straight up bar-for-bar rapping, Nell’s old school sound is not unintentional. Every track off of the mixtape “90’s Mentality” is just that — a throwback to the golden age of hip-hop.

 

Nell’s rap style is vintage yet progressive, tossing meaningful lyrics over rough, chopped and screwed instrumentals. Nell is essential to Florida’s underground scene because he’s making music that young and old Hip-hop heads can vibe with, together. The nostalgia associated with 90s rap has given a voice to MCs like Nell, who are focused on rapping ability alone, as opposed to fashion and money so distinctive to many mainstream artists.

Ski Mask the Slump God

Ski Mask the Slump God is making waves with his insane combination of new and old school rapping. He is one of the most notable young MCs — commercially — who tends to focus on rapping fast. Sure, a lot of new age rappers can go fast, but most separate their bars with an (aye) or (yea) whereas Ski Mask just can’t stop. The young rapper’s catalog is as diverse as it is consistent. Every song consists of wildly different sounds and subjects, but Ski Mask is always so addicting to listen to.

 

He also incorporates aspects of metal and hardcore rock in his music. If you listen carefully a lot of his songs sample bands like Drowning Pool and Slipknot, but even when he isn’t sampling it you can hear a standard rock kit somewhere in his beats. The rap/rock combo has been a historical part of Hip-hop; traveling down the stream from groups like RUN-DMC and M.O.P to bless modern Florida through rappers like Ski Mask the Slump God.

So maybe its the southern heat making everyone a little crazy, but something is making people want to rap in the Sunshine State. Trap music is helping expand Florida’s audience by drawing lots of attention to Miami with rappers like Lil Pump and Smokepurrp, which may help Florida’s underground scene grow in popularity. Denzel Curry, Nell, and Ski Mask the Slump God are just a few who are helping redefine what it means to be in the ‘new age’ of Hip-Hop.

All three of these artists have music available on major streaming services, but Soundcloud is the go-to place to hear their extensive catalogs. And if you are interested in hearing more of the Florida underground here are some artists you may want to check out: Pouya, Rell, Wifisfuneral, Robb Bank$, Yung Simmie, Lofty305, and Fat Nick.

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You Should Be Excited About Rich the Kid’s Debut Album

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good

Atlanta via New York City rapper and Rich Forever Music founder Rich the Kid is set to drop his solo debut full-length in 2018.

After years of mixtapes and collaborations with artists such as Migos, Young Thug, and 21 Savage, Rich invested in himself and founded his label, Rich Forever Music, in the early spring of 2016. The first artists to hop on board were Chicago rapper Famous Dex and producer The Lab Cook, with whom Rich collaborated on the label’s first two tapes, Rich Forever Music and Rich Forever 2. In the fall of 2016, fellow New York City spitter Jay Critch signed to Rich Forever and, less than a year later, appeared with Rich and Dex on Rich Forever 3 – one of the best mixtapes of 2017, in my opinion.

https://twitter.com/richthekid/status/949364231475834880

Concerning his solo work, Rich signed to Interscope Records last summer and got to work on his full-length debut. The hype only grew in September when Rich dropped one hell of a single, “New Freezer,” with Kendrick Lamar. The landmark track rides an icy trap beat and showcases Rich’s talent as a hook-writer. Oh, and Kendrick snaps. Hard.

Only a few days into the new year, Rich announced via Twitter that Rich Forever 4 is on the way, featuring the same trio as its predecessor. On January 7, he posted an Instagram video of himself rapping along to an unreleased track with the caption “Finished my album last night now what should I call it?”

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdqhQ33hcgR/

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Migos Announce “Culture II” Release Date + Cover Art

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced…

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced Culture II via Instagram on Monday night, with a release date of January 26, almost one year after Culture (now certified platinum), took the world by storm, moving 131,000 copies in its first week. The announcement comes after a late 2017 interview with Montreality, where Quavo was vocal about the group’s new sound.

“We’re creating a whole new sound [with this album.] Hip-Hop has changed in a big way, so you could mark this down as we changing.” –Quavo (to Montreality)

The album is led by the Pharrell-produced single “Stir Fry,” and the Cardi-B assisted “Motorsport” — both of which are tearing up the Billboard Hot 100. While little is known about the project, Quavo promises top quality production. “CULTURE II WAIT TILL U C WHO EXECUTIVE PRODUCED IT” the rapper tweeted back in October. Check out the announcement below, and pray the trio release the tracklist soon.

C U L T U R E II

A post shared by Migos (@migos) on

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Lil Pump’s Team Finesses Their Way Out Of WB Deal

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new…

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new year as an independent artist. According to Billboard, The “Designer” rapper recently terminated his contract with Warner Bros., stating he was only 16 when he signed.

Famed entertainment attorney John Branca wrote a letter to the label on Pump’s behalf, reaffirming the age issue, and further arguing the contract was “never certified by the court,” Billboard states. Warner Bros. Larry Mattera, the labels VP of commerce and marketing, said:

“We, as a company and as a label, needed to build and establish more of a presence in the urban space. They (clearly) had insights and relationships on the urban side of the business in the network landscape.”

The “Gucci Gang” rapper is well positioned as an independent artist and is rumored to be fielding offers anywhere from $8 to $12 million, according to Complex. The young Soundcloud breakout is already a high-paid sensation. In December, TMZ reported that Pump received a $345,000 advance on his debut album, in addition to 15% royalties. The album moved 46,000 copies its opening week, and its lead single “Gucci Gang” is still moving. Former Warner Bros. CEO Cameron Stang Praised the rappers business savvy, telling Billboard: “They’re innovative spirits, and they don’t take no for an answer. Pump is an incredible artist; he’s got fantastic charisma and a huge personality, with lots of talent and no fear.”

Lil Pump isn’t the only one making serious moves in 2018. Fellow Soundcloud rapper and childhood friend Smokepurpp recently signed to Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Records and is finishing up a highly-anticipated collab album with Murda Beatz. Pump recently released his latest track “Trap Jumpin” featuring Juicy J, which you can find below.

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