Editorial, Features, Main, Reviews

Special’s Top 5 of 2014: #4 Ghostface Killah

The Wu-Tang Clan is legendary, no argument there. The argument does arise when we’re discussing who are your fave spitters…

The Wu-Tang Clan is legendary, no argument there. The argument does arise when we’re discussing who are your fave spitters from the (originally) nine-man Staten-Island outfit. Method Man, regardless of solo-success always seems to get a pass and Chef is universally accepted as one of its greats – but I think it’s impossible to not praise GFK for his innovation and sheer work ethic. He recently blessed us with his 10th solo effort 36 Seasons, a gorgeous conceptual album released on Tommy Boy Records.

Conceptual albums are no small feat – and few have really done the format as much justice as Price Paul and Raekwon; although, GFK does a great job weaving a lyrically strong story that follows his return home after a nine year prison sentence. He finds it hard to stay away from the game (especially after learning his girl has moved on with another man) and returns to a life of crime only to be set-up. The story, which plays out over 14 songs features a supporting cast of characters played by AZ, Kool G Rap, Tre Williams, Pharoahe Monch, Rell, Kadence Springs, Shawn Wigs and The Revelations.

Standouts for us were Emergency Procedure, which sees Ghostface being saved after the botched heist by a Doctor played by Pharoahe Monch, and Blood In the Streets, which sees Ghostface out for vengeance against the man who double crossed him (played by AZ). The one maybe ‘con’ of this project, if you want to call it that, is that many of the songs seem wildly out of context outside of the album – which should be a better reason to give this a front to back spin. It’s also an inescapable by-product of this format.

A playful mix of introspective soul and gritty hiphop, Ghostface’s 36 Seasons is all of the creativity and wordplay that we’ve come to expect from GFK – too bad we didn’t enjoy the A Better Tomorrow as much as this one!

It’s available now everywhere you can cop music – a MUST LISTEN.


Note: This top 5 is solely that of Riley “Special” Wallace and doesn’t explicitly reflect the view of all aboveaveragehiphop.com’s staff and writers.

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
Main, Reviews

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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Reviews, unsigned hype

Han Sino Drops His Opus ‘Exquisite Gardenz’

There is something inherently perfect about the right soundtrack for your movements at the right time. In a wave of…

There is something inherently perfect about the right soundtrack for your movements at the right time. In a wave of commercial Hip Hop — with the genre being at its absolute height regarding actual quantifiable popularity — it may be hard to explain to someone why instrumental LPs are so vital for your soul. But in the word of King Push: “if you know you know.”

I continuously thirst for new instrumental soundtracks, and French producer/poet/creative Han Sino is someone that I’ve covered in the past — in particular his project titled Glucose. He creates this refreshing blend of funk grooves, jazz, ambient hip-hop, and atmospheric melodies that seriously make for a trippy experience, dependant on how you consume his ambitious projects.

Relevant: Check out the run-down of Han’s LP Glucose

His latest output, Exquisite Gardenz, is one which Han himself considers to be his opus. Much like his previous release — during my first few listens, I noticed that the core bass lines created that signature continuous flow that moved the 12-song soundscape along. The best way to describe this project is that if a crate digger were to randomly come across this during a record shop excursion, and take it home and drop the needle anywhere, they’d be excited as hell to fire up the MPC and start chopping. It’s gorgeous.

Beginning with the atmospheric intro track “Exquisite,” we’re introduced to an Asian influence that creeps in throughout the project. The second track “Red Fishes” gave me chills off the top, as the bassline was reminiscent of the iconic bass strums from Eric B. & Rakim’s “Don’t Sweat The Technique.” Rather than commit to a hip-hop-centric platter, though, it expands into this difficult to describe Sunday afternoon, soulful, 70’s vibe — accentuated with these ambient wind chimes that make for a crazy audio trip.

Later on in the tracklist, I found myself drawn to the mysterious vibe of “Deep Lagoonz,” with an almost video game vibe, set-off with this super cool flute, and some frantic strings that add this odd amount of tension to track. The strings in the album closer “Gardenz” also had me intrigued; groovy, jazzy, and insanely engrossing.

As Han himself says in the album’s liner notes, “I hope you will [take] this Opus as a proposition to see life differently, and bite it to the fullest … drunk of the liquor of paradise.” This should be the goal of any great instrumental affair — a soundtrack to the movie that is your life; whether you’re getting lost in a world of writing or banging it which you’re trekking through the metropolis after dark. Exquisite Gardenz is a beautiful body of work. If you’re into nu jazz, rare groove, or a fan of instrumental hip-hop, you’ll want to give it a spin.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

Malachi Grant Returns With Inspiring New Project “On My Way”

Straight out of Yonkers, New York (City), rapper Malachi Grant returns four years following the release of his well-received Welcome…

Straight out of Yonkers, New York (City), rapper Malachi Grant returns four years following the release of his well-received Welcome 2 My World. His latest effort — an easy to digest seven-song project titled On My Way — is an exercise in perseverance, believing in your craft, and beating the odds. Lyrically, anyways.

He’s never open book enough to truly let you in on the depth of his come up on the streets of the Mecca, beyond noting that he’s on the streets, but from the onset, we’re presented with “On My Way,” which sets the tone. “Did dirt like cleats, but I stay clean,” he raps on the song’s third verse.

The project doesn’t stray too far from the contextual concept that he’s overcome — something explored most in-depth on “I’ll Be Sure” — and continues to strive towards the top of the mountain. There are breaks from this thread of thinking, though, as he also seems to let love creep into the mix on “I’ll Be Back,” while still staying true to the aesthetic of the overall vibe.

Standouts include the glossy vibe of the album closer, “What I Need,” with an upbeat instrumental and bars that hint at a deeper amount of wealth than he actually puts out there — all mashed in with an über New York flow. The slowed down flow of “Stay Up,” one of the songs that include a sing-song chorus (“I’ll Be Back” has an auto-tuned, melodic, vibe).

Overall, the LP has well-balanced production, and carefully crafted wordplay; it deliberately follows conventions but does a great job of remaining subtly dark, while finding a way to patiently and positively preach a message of staying focused and taking hold of your future. Littered with enough quotable to start a daily motivation Instagram account.

Loss, growth, and accomplishments; On My Way is curated to have few low-points. It’s New York Hip Hop, and it’s worth a spin.

Early.

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Main

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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Special’s Top 5 of 2014: #5 Your Old Droog

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