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Indie AF: Rapper Hi-Rez Grinds His Way Into iTunes Charts

Every once in a while, we get a reminder that music AND organic level fan base can truly be the…

Every once in a while, we get a reminder that music AND organic level fan base can truly be the most valuable assets an artist can have. Not gimmicks, as often thought to be the case by ‘industry’ bankers. Case and point: underground [ish] rapper Hi-Rez dropped a brand new album this week, Missing Pieces, which made an impressive impact on the iTunes charts, coming in at #13 on the US Hip-Hop/Rap category. As I’m writing this, it’s currently #17 in Canada, nestled between Drake and Eminem, and one of only two relatively unknown acts in the Top 20. The coolest part, though, is that he did so without any co-signs, major label, commercial radio, or—for that matter—any credible press push. Just old fashioned grind and manual relationship building with fans.

As a whole the project keeps a very cohesive tone, sticking to the elements of a common narrative. ‘College drop-out, dedicated himself to music, struggled through the bad times, finally got on; now that he’s there, he’s noticing it’s harder to sift through his circle in search of genuine friendship as opposed to hands in his pockets.’ Much like Kanye’s debut album, College Dropout, this project uses that story line as the underlying basis for all the records—with great results.

There’s a light but dope supporting cast; he’s joined by Billboard charting Dizzy Wright on the “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”-esque “Preach,” one of the project’s strongest records. Also making appearances are underrated New York spitter Emilio Rojas (“Get Out And Get It”), Rapper/Singer Devvon Terrell (“I’m Up”) and BRBN on the ‘let’s all be cool with each other’ anthem “It’s All Love.” The rest of the records are held down by Rez, with a versatile, rapid fire, multi-syllable flow.

This project isn’t his first, as he clearly articulates on the project more than once; his recent success has been the result of hard work and dedication. He’s been ripping stages pretty much everywhere, and his iTunes catalog is packed with music. It’s just now reached the right temperature to boil and bubble over. One of the most profound takeaways from the album comes in the form of a sound clip around two-minutes into the second song, “Other Side.” “It’s all about building that foundation; it’s about building that fucking house before you get there,” he says with a hint of aggression. “A lot of these clowns race right to the top…when that wave is out nobody gives a fuck. You may have money, but you’re not going to die a legend.”

An excellent cover to cover listen; no filler, no bullshit. Give it a spin, and if you’re into it, you can catch him on tour.

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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Did Denzel Curry’s Ta13oo live up to its hype? (mostly)

During the week of July 23rd, Denzel Curry (aka Ultimate Denzel Curry aka Zeltron aka Aquarius Killer aka Denny Cascade…

During the week of July 23rd, Denzel Curry (aka Ultimate Denzel Curry aka Zeltron aka Aquarius Killer aka Denny Cascade aka the Black Metal Terrorist) dropped his long-awaited album, Ta13oo.

According to Curry’s Twitter, he waited 13 months to drop the project that had been ready for the shelves since 2017, building up hype and making multiple public statements on the state of Hip Hop culture during the interim. Ta13oo serves as a follow up to the well-received album Imperial which was first released as a free album on Soundcloud and then tweaked for major distribution in 2016.

When news came that Curry’s album was going to drop the Carol City emcee claimed that it would be a game-changing album designed to shake up the rap world. To further differentiate himself from other artists he dropped the album in three parts (or acts) on three different days. Each act was labeled Light, Gray, and Dark respectively. And as if this wasn’t enough of a statement in itself, Curry further promoted his album by dropping the highly sophisticated single and video “CLOUT COBAIN | CLOUT CO13AIN” a week prior; a song that is designed to be an introspective and critical examination of dangerous trends in Hip Hop and the commoditization of the modern artist.

Upon my first listen I was surprised to hear how different this album was compared to Curry’s previous work. Act One: Light, packs in his smoothest and most positive songs at the head of the album; leaving the listener unprepared for the dark turn it quickly makes. And while the title track that opens act one is a sad love song that drones about a girl who has suffered abuse and touches on the idea of our society’s taboos, it hails in darkness compared to supercharged songs like “BLACK METAL TERRORIST” that finish out the album. Act Two holds some very impressive bangers reminiscent of Imperial’s first version, including my favorite track “MAD I GOT IT,” which describes envy from different perspectives while stomping over a bass heavy, head pounding instrumental produced by pop outlet Hippie Sabotage and Finatik N Zak.

Unfortunately, at this point in the project, a lot of songs sounded very familiar. If you were on the edge of your seat waiting on this project to drop like I was, you know that most songs were released as singles even before acts One Two and Three came out. In fact, six of the project’s 13 songs were dropped beforehand which made the scattered album drop feel awkward and spread out; especially since each four-song act dropped separately in the midst of all these singles. On Friday the 27th every single and act were reverted back to one album on all major streaming platforms and remain that way now.

 
Despite its awkward and fragmented release, Ta13oo is a much better listen when similar to grayscale with Denzel’s anger and social commentary growing more and more intense as it progresses; eventually combining to become a dark, dark album. Zeltron fans probably expected this after his EP, 13, dropped last summer, giving us six tracks of absolute insanity. The EP was hyper-aggressive in production as well as lyricism with songs like “Hate Government” and “Heartless,” that foreshadowed Ta13oo’s approach and sound.

The project does shift gears away from Denzel’s older music, especially my favorite Curry project to date: Planet Shrooms. Planet Shrooms was a bold and experimental project that used unconventional beats and vocal distortion to display its psychedelic themes and imagery. It sounds like a rap album from the future- with imagery describing drive by’s on hoverboards, green colored guns, and an obsession with the year 2077. This EP was also stacked with features from some of Curry’s go-to guys like JK the Reaper and Nell who added some of the project’s most memorable bars and supported Denzel’s phonkiest, most out there tracks. Much of the production also included live instrumentation which really made it stand out and feel extremely advanced for a free project released on Soundcloud- where it remains exclusively today.

The HiphopDX community rated Ta13oo a bit above 4.5/5, and overall the project has been very well received by fans and reviewers. I think this album did live up to its hype and will age better than 2018’s other notable releases because of its lyrical complexity and flawless production. Stream the album today and check out the provocative video for “Clout Cobain” if you haven’t already.

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L’S810 Releases New Visual & Chats About His Career

Hailing from Flint, Michigan — and currently residing in Kansas City — multi-versed creative L’S810 is on a mission to…

Hailing from Flint, Michigan — and currently residing in Kansas City — multi-versed creative L’S810 is on a mission to make history “I love Hip Hop and meeting/touching people through music,” he tells AAHH while chatting about his latest visual release, “Gucci Bando,” an undeniable bop we’ve been playing on repeat.

The record is a great contrast to some
Of his past few releases. One of the cool things about his is his ability to traverse different sounds and vibes without sounding forced or off-base.

 

I put in a lot of work this year and wanna see it pay off.

When asked, the rapper notes that his sound is epic. “I like doing what I feel; how ever the music moves me — I react,” he explains. “I don’t judge the outcome. If I could define my style, I would say it’s rap realist music.”

His first taste of music was back in college, trying to write and record for his cousin. “I bought an 8-track recorder and laid my first full verse,” he recalls fondly. After that, “ I was hooked.” Fast forward, and L’S810 is 14 projects deep. I’ve been grinding for a minute,” he says with a laugh.

“Right Now I’m just recording and writing … got a few singles under my sleeve,” he states. However, he isn’t committing to anything just yet. “Going with the flow for now and creating.

“Really proud of the content we have produced these [past few] years; I would say the biggest accomplishment was raising the level of content — now we just need more eyes on it,” he adds with a smirk.

“I wanna become super successful and touch millions and help more individuals become the greatest them,” he says of his ultimate career goals. “I want hella platinum hits and a collection of classic albums under my belt … I want to be great.

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Long Island Songstress Alexza Should Be On Your Radar

Long Island, New York, singer Alexza is a creative soul down to the bone. So much so, that she couldn’t…

Long Island, New York, singer Alexza is a creative soul down to the bone. So much so, that she couldn’t picture herself doing anything else. “I can’t see myself devoting my time, energy and heart elsewhere,” she tells AAHH. “It’s truly my passion, and I love what I do.”

Her music itself is quite eclectic, refusing to subscribe to one vibe. “I wouldn’t describe the sound at all … I’m not drawn to one genre. I naturally enjoy creating RnB, pop, hip-hop, rock, urban pop and experimental music,” she explains. “It’s more of a feeling to me that I can’t put into words. If anything I’d say deep, heartfelt, realistic yet experimental.”

She got involved in music through her parents and uncle; he mother is a power vocalist, and her father played bass guitar in their band. “That’s how they met and introduced music to my siblings and me at a very young age,” she tells us of the endearing love story. “My uncle was the first person to put me in the booth and record my first cover song which was ‘Emotions’ — the version done by Destiny Child.”

As a testament to her talent, she’s had the privilege to work with storied producer and executive Irv Gotti of Murder Inc — the man responsible for superstars like Ja Rule and Ashanti (among others). “He put out an album soundtrack to his hit TV Series on BET called Tales, and I wrote and recorded music for the show,” she explains. “I’m also featured on a record called ‘Got To Be Real’ with Jim Jones produced by DJ Relly Rell … It’s off his new album Wasted Talent which is currently available on all streaming platforms.”

 

 
With the good looks piling up, she is currently working on her debut album The Hybrid, as well as a project with DJ Relly Rell. “In between working on those projects I’ll be releasing a few singles and putting out visuals to my #CouleChronicles material that I post every week on my IG @ListenToAlexza,” she says.

“I’ve gotten so much done working with the legendary Irv Gotti who believes in me so much,” she says of her experience working with the mogul. “I got to learn all about being in control of my music, and I’m genuinely grateful for his support and mentorial guidance.

“My goal is first to be successful. Everything else will follow afterward,” she says confidently. “I want to become the kind of artist that the people can trust and support … I want to bring my fans music that they can relate to and fall in love with.”

Ultimately, she aims to make timeless music. “I’m going to be making [timeless records] and the records that are just for fun and for the moment, so I can be so well rounded and balanced that I become a household brand that’s necessary for the culture.”

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XleoniduZ Paints A Gritty Picture Of The 267 On His New LP “Sin Paradise”

“[Sin Paradise] is about me explaining what Miami does to somebody who lives here.”

XleoniduZ is an artist that has been featured by me numerous times over the past few years; there is something oddly endearing about the vibe that is hard to put your finger on for sure. The Miami rapper — unleashing his long-awaited full-length Sin Paradise — has chosen to tell a more honest portrayal of the environment that birthed and shaped him as a man. This isn’t the flashy Miami Beach you see in overbudget music videos; this is the realness.

“Every time I have faith I lose my sight,” he laments on “Da Sinners Anthem.” It’s honestly one of the album’s most telling bar — with respects to pulling it all together. Across the 11-song effort, XleoniduZ paints the picture of everyday life from the bottom of Dade County. As the protagonist of the relatably gritty first-person accounts, we’re presented with this juxtaposed sense of subtly downplayed religious purpose, which is continuously challenged and at times overshadowed by the environment around him.

 
“Self God” is an interesting track that speaks to something XleoniduZ told AAHH; “Lupe said in his second album ‘I love the lord, but sometimes I love me more,’ [and] that shit stuck with me forever. The allure of the finer things, takes hold but doesn’t always satisfy, as he raps “why do I have these things and still feel incomplete.” It’s this sentiment, a sense of searching and longing for a shadowy something, that he revisits a few times, just as on “Take My Pain Away,” where he attempts to fill a painful void with misguided love.

“Blasphemy” is another standout, as a detailed breakdown of the BS being shoved down the throats of many new school rap fans. “I rather give you life, they rather sell you lies,” he raps on the chorus. The crown jewel of this LP, though — aside from “What Dey Do” which is a flame emoji and a half — is the ode to his hometown, “267,” which not only stands as the most personal track on an already deeply “heart on sleeve” collection of music, the outro serves as a fantastic explainer of the project.

 
“[Sin Paradise] is about me explaining what Miami does to somebody who lives here,” he says on the “267” outro. The project is a remarkably cohesive and well-produced body of work; by the end of the tracklist, you’re left to realize that some of the purpose and reason for being that the young emcee is chasing is, in fact, the music you’ve been bumping. This is art.

Early.

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Juels Pierrot Tells Us Why Jersey Is Thirsty For ‘Juice: The Hip Hop Exhibition’

Curator of Moxie1973 and Juice: The HipHop Exhibition, Juels Pierrot (@JulesPierrot), sits down with Amber Corrine (@IwantAC) from Above Average...

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