By Alex P80 Parks
A flooded music market has become a legitimate problem for fans of underground hip hop, as of late. But it’s a good problem to have, especially when the caliber of music being put out is of an extremely high quality. Artists staying sharp with collaborations, frequent EP’s and guest spots are the norm. Whether fans subscribe to a quality vs. quantity approach, there’s no debate that with the technology readily available and the ubiquity of producers and beatmakers, there is no lack of solid underground hip hop being created.
This collective of emcees from New England is no exception. It includes many emcees and producers, all bringing their own unique flavor and diverse talents. The common trait they do share? Skills. And a work ethic matched only by other elite artists in the game. They never put out a product that doesn’t showcase their immense talents. Featured emcees in this collective: CodeNine, Paranom, Estee Nack, and Chronic Tone to name only a few. Production-wise, Vinyl Villain, Grubby Pawz, Mr. Rose, Karnate and also Chronic Tone all bring their crafted beats to this album. To be perfectly clear, there are several others that belong in this local collective. The above-mentioned only reflect those involved in this particular album.
With this project clocking in at about an hour and consisting of 18 tracks, listeners and fans asking for full length LP’s will no doubt, be satisfied. The rhymes may, at times, be complex and layered but the overall theme is actually quite simple: Complete immersion into the finer things of life. The imagery and vibes rely on a tried and true underground formula: Equal parts street-cred and lavish lifestyle. Thematically, Million Dollar Mink is a cohesive project. The production embodies a regal elegance. The rhymes create an interesting dichotomy of wealth and prosperity mixed with a “we will fuck you up” kind of attitude.
“Opaque” prod by RZO show how well these two emcees can flow on a snappy boom bap beat. RZO lays a hi-hat snare with some punchy thump for Code and P to attack and lay a strong foundation to pull in listeners off the jump.
“Steak and eggs Feat. Daniel Son” produced by Icon Curties, this track sports a prominent bass groove and a spacious sample with room for a relaxed flow. Featuring one of the current elite emcees, Daniel Son, the song is all three emcees ‘staking’ their claims and letting beads know what they’ve been through and how they’re living now, with no intention of going back to a life of poverty Daniel Son raps with heart here, describing the past and being “piss poor.” Code spits his usual clear and specific bars with conviction as well. But it’s P-Nom’s verse that is other-worldly on this track:
“Experience be the greatest season,
Master energy’s moving chess pieces
Don’t show my cards til it’s time to play em,
Cuz that’s ya weakness.
Bitches stay digesting and
Bitchess leak secretions
While the third eye deacon rise to the peak of his beacon”
Paranom then continues to spit, totalling almost a minute and a half. He really stepped up to show his skills on that verse.
“Perfect Balance” Karnate lays a soulful organ and some horns as a hype track for these emcees to float upon. The tempo, subtle guitar, bouncy bassline, and the church-choir organ feel all complement one another for a dope track. These are the perfect beats for Code and P-Nom, to truly shine on. Karnate creates such a positive mood on this track. Definitely a standout beat amongst many other dope ones.
“Gold Label Reserve Feat. Estee Nack” features a Vinyl Villain beat that is orchestral with strings, a blues piano, and a mildly funky bass slap. In prime Villain fashion, his cinematic vision creates such rich moods and imagery. This arrangement paints a grand vision of opulence, as listeners are heli-lifted to a yacht on the Mediterranean. Freshly-caught seafood and top shelf drinks await on the aft deck. Estee Nack cruises up to the yacht in a jet-ski and appropriately spits his own gems on the deck with his perfectly-cadenced voice.
“MillionDollarMink” prod. by Vinyl Villain, the track retains that same luxurious feel with a synth piano loop and a crackly female vocal sample. This is where the listener walks through their Miami mansion circa 1981, crystal chandeliers hanging, mirrors lining the walls, post-modern furniture rests atop marble floors. These are the images evoked from the lush arrangements provided by Vinyl Villain; Cinematic elegance.
Check it out here:
On “Amethystchessboard” Vinyl Villain paints a glamorous party in a grand ballroom, circa 1930’s. The big band horns and tinkling piano is the perfect end of the party type loop for P-Nom and Code to spill their lyrics over. Playing appropriately into the vision of the album as lavish opulence. It has a Gatsby-era feel to it, with a subtle melancholy tone.
On “Rooftoppatio” Vinyl Villain creates an upbeat summertime vibe with a stretched guitar sample chopped with a high pitched synth. Perfect for sitting under palm trees, sipping mojitos, flanked by beautiful friends basking in the pool. It’s east coast drums and a west coast feel with the synth. This is the summer track, for sure. This is gonna be bumped heavy for the next 3 months, no doubt. Code rhymes:
“Rooftop patio plush, now keep a fatty rolling
Spilling ace on the Persian,
Bask in the afterglowin,
Basquiat in the yacht, Miata mazda,
my little homie’ll blast off metal fast as Jesse Owens.”
“Skypivot” takes the listener high into the clouds on a private jet. A chopped up jazzy clarinet and a light ride cymbal carry the listeners up and away. Sipping champagne and staring into the open sky, the private jet whisks listeners to Europe for the weekend.
“Titanicglaciers” Half expecting to hear Heltah Skeltah rhyming over this vintage 90’s type beat, courtesy of Mr. Rose. Code and P go in on this one. A boom bap rumbler with a knock, Both emcees eviscerate that beat here. The hook:
20k, ten carat,
Benz wagon, pull up,
brim tilted like Eddie Valiant,
blaze bags with the torch,
pull up in the porsche,
you ain’t hoppin off the porch, muhfuckas.”
“ChxckenSpot” by Grubby Pawz has an eerie lo-fi vibe with strings, a vocal sample and a creepy guitar loop to create an uneasy vibe. Grubby Pawz is great a creating tension and paranoia in his beats. This is one not unsettling, just a slight subtle mood.
“Crownroyalbags ft. Estee Nack” produced by Grubby Pawz. The slight distortion creates the feeling of haziness, much later in the night, like the after party. Grubby Pawz mixes what sounds like an upright bass, a piano loop and a sped up vocal soul sample.
Bless the count” produced by Karnate is another dusty loop with a vocal sample repeating ‘bless you.’ It’s got a bouncy soul feel to it, fitting in with the theme of the lavish luxuriance, yet different enough from the other tracks to keep your attention. Karnate really brings out the best in these 2 emcees. His beats are soulful and provide that nostalgic feel without ever feeling too heavy. Paranom rhymes:
“I’m smooth butter but my gutter flagrant,
Under the fragrance of my past life as a warrior sacred,
A lot and none has changed, still survey the field,
while we play on the station,
banging like Jah sun,
under the mask of jason.”
“Feng Shui” prod by Vinyl Villain. Villain lays a a thick bassline, a resonating organ in the background and a slight piano. It’s a soulful church organ sound mixed with a slick 60’s brit vibe. This track is all Codenine. Dude spits for over a minute on this track.
“Fiends at the back door,
mama asked what the macs for?
drag em to church but it left a stain on they glass jaw.
I’ont respond to the government on my passport,
Goonies, we slangin in Audi’s, shootin from out the Rav 4.”
the track rides out at the end with a robust choir vocal sample and some boom bap drums.
“Cornucopia” prod by Chronic Tone . The beat is a solid finish to the album. Tone speeds up a piano loop, chops it and adds a droning high pitched synth. It provides just the right amount of tension to keep your ears on edge. P-Nom spits pointedly:
diamonds and ills, divinage steel,
with the sharpness harkened from an impoverished yield”
check it out here:
CodeNine and Paranomsun make it clear what their brand of hip hop is. I’ll call it “luxurious mafioso rap for the new age.” The production from Vinyl Villain isn’t his usual cinematic extortion type beats. These are Elegant and luxurious in feel, coinciding with the theme and overall aesthetics. The album is complete with some classic beats from Karnate, some eerie and distorted beats from Grubby Pawz and very solid beats from Mr. Rose, RZO, Icon Curties and Chronic Tone. The rhymes are well-balanced, with plenty of gems from both emcees throughout the album. MillionDollarMink takes listeners on a regal journey with visions of grand luxury and a deluxe lifestyle.
Not surprisingly, even the special editions physical releases are premium. One of the extremely limited packages includes a custom-designed spirit case for the true collectors.
Cop the album in digital or in the physical here:
**Coming very soon at Deeply Rooted HipHop: review of the bonus joints available only on the physical release.
Stay tuned fam