Long Island emcee Spoda brings his strong vocal delivery over Onaje Jordan production on “My way.”

Chicago producer Onaje juxtaposes the elegance of the piano and strings loops with booming bass and crisp drums. Spoda shows a bit of growth on this polished track with a focused hook and a slightly sharper pen. Spoda spits:

“Charisma like the young Shawn Michaels, so don’t compare me

My flow different, but ya ho dig it

I hopped up in a M-box and she was so with it.

That’s why these bitches ain’t shit

That’s why I hit then I dip”

Definitely a solid collaboration between Mr.DopeFlow and Onaje. Let’s hope that this leads to a full project between the two….

Check the track here:

https://soundcloud.com/dopeflow631/my-way-produced-by-onaje-jordan

Boston’s M-Dot and Rapper Big Pooh of Little Brother drop their latest track over an instrumental by Sweden’s Pause Beats, accompanied by the sultry vocals of Sabina Ddumba on the chorus. Producer Pause Beats lays down a thumper with clean drums and just enough instrumentation to maintain a melodic and musical presence. Each emcee brings a different perspective; Big Pooh rhymes first, telling of the genesis of his talents in hip hop, striving and working to convey his message to the people while M-Dot tells of a story of relationships changing over time and creating a new beginning, transforming a life, only to start fresh once again.

Check the track here:

https://soundcloud.com/mdotboston/the-beginning-ft-rapper-big-pooh-m-dot-prod-by-pause-beats

This track is the ideal way to announce the upcoming OwnLane Music compilation Stay In Your Lane Vol. 1 out March 15, 2019. The compilation is packed with notable features M-Dot & EMSChris Rivers, ArtifactsDNA, Deacon The Villain, J.Cardim and more.

Just a day after Valentines Day, Baltimore’s Jamil Honesty asks “Where’s The Love?” Over soulful chopped vocals provided by LA producer Free Mind, Jamil spits about the respect lacking for all the work he puts into his craft, while professing his love for hip hop.

With an assist from DJ Grazzhoppa on the scratch hooks and some additional dope cuts, the track showcases Jamil’s sharp delivery and Free Minds rhythmic chopped samples.

On the second verse Jamil rhymes:

“The illest poet, that heard of Jonah out of Ninevah

Don’t wanna be caught in the belly with my bitter luck

Tryna be richer than Ducktales, up-sell,

I’m selling merch like work, havin to duck 12,

Light work, hitting chicks that’s thick with tight skirts

They be buggin, they just want that Ron Jeremy pipe-work.”

Check the track here:

https://soundcloud.com/hassan-macabeats-thomas/01-jamil-honesty-wheres-the-love/s-8eixB

And cop it here:

https://freemindsoul7.bandcamp.com/track/wheres-the-love

by Alex P80 Parks

The saga of hip hop comic persona Czarface continues with “his” 6th album. For this adventure, the antihero teams up with another masked mic master, Ghostface Killah. Czarface is producer DJ7L, MC Esoteric, and Wu-Tang Clan stalwart Inspectah Deck. A love of comics, Star Wars, wrestling, 80’s nostalgia and some extremely dope hip hop have combined to create this super group.

7, Eso and Deck have released a special comic with some of their previous Czarface albums and have even commissioned the creation of action figures and sculptures which collectors and fans have gone wild for. With some original artwork done by acclaimed artist and designer Lamour Supreme, the visual component only adds to the amazing mythos of an idea come to life through sound, print and toys.

While melodies are important in his beats, 7L maintains a presence mostly atmospheric in mood. Many of the beats seem sci-fi and futuristic, fitting with the fantastical nature of a comic book perspective. Hazy, dark and gloomy yet also industrial and digital at times, the imminent danger awaits Czarface with every bar and each verse.

Ghostface Killah seems like a feasible pairing in this latest edition. With his own Iron Man/Tony Starks alter ego, Ghostface makes an excellent teammate in this follow-up to the last Czarface collaboration with another elite veiled emcee, the mystical MF DOOM.

Deeply Rooted HipHop reached out to MC Esoteric to gain some insight into the collaborative process of putting together these albums.

Esoteric: “7L makes the beats and they usually go to me first, and then to Deck…say 7L sends me 11 beats, we’ll agree on 8 and those 8 we play for Deck…yes, the little oddities and soundbytes that call back to vintage cartoons or comic oriented records are something I love adding into the mix, and 7L adds similar spice too once the beats are fleshed out…”

On the arena-sized “Face Off” Ghost jumps first on the bouncing beat, Deck spits double time and Eso comes in to wrap the track up with his comic relief. The lead single “Iron Claw” features pulsating waves of synths and rumbling bass that’ll rattle any speakers. Rebel INS brings the imagery with lines like:

“Whole aura, cold water, flow torture,

Black diamonds, blue dreams, gold Porsche

I’m always on go, all the lights green.

General official, that’s what the stripes mean.”

Check the track here:

https://soundcloud.com/silveragerecords/iron-claw

With “Czarrcade 87” ESO and Deck rhyme playfully on an uptempo beat, trading verses with some 7L scratches thrown in for good measure. On “Powers and Stuff” Eso delivers clever similes with lines like “Stick to my Gunns like Bautista,” a gem about the Guardians of the Galaxy cast. The use of Esoteric’s own kids voices’ are always an endearing addition on a couple Czarface tracks like this one. The cartoon cinematics of “Masked Superstars” make for an energetic track with Czarface scurrying frenetically through the scenery.

Eso: “Morning ritual was Ghost’s idea, he brought that to the table and we responded accordingly.”

Morning Ritual” The sawing dark organs and the vocal effects give an appropriately foggy break-of-day feel as the three emcees trade stories of a wake-up that starts out regular, and with the help of a bit of paranoia, turns out quite unexpected. Sonically, “Super Soldier Serum” takes Czarface and Ghost on an interstellar journey heavy with synths and digi-effects. 7L always finds some ill, obscure vocal samples to scratch and add into tracks. Ghost plays the role of Jason Bourne with lines like:

“I’m low-key like a government official

Deep under the surface like a piece of bone gristle

No keys to the entrance, just facial scanning

And 2.6 chandeliers with cameras

And a bearskin rug programmed to attack

Sharks in the crib, no coordinates on the map

Off the grid, Maxwell Smart, is how I live

Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, I’m so slick.”

Eso: (On the team-approach to recording)

“If 7L and Deck try to convince me that a certain song is a keeper, I’m learning to trust other ears….we all really work together on what songs get recorded to.”

7L starts “The King Heard Voices” with some scratches and builds the tension with synth organs and a brooding, murky vibe.

Deck spits assuredly:

“Lean on em, It’s just routine on em

Call on supreme, My team ballin’, the cream callin’

Ain’t no mistakin em, they be prayin’ on snakin’ em.”

Listen to the Color” plays more like a suite with multiple beat flips and shifts in tone. Previous Czarface efforts have always included these types of morphing tracks. They become subplots or mini-jaunts within the larger story of the album. Eso asks: “Is that a gang sign you flashing or a shadow puppet?” Tracks like these tend to be the highlights of a Czarface album as the verses become separated and the open bars allow the track to breathe while tension builds between the varying beats.

Check the Asian-influenced, collage-style animated video for “Mongolian Beef” here:

On “Post Credits Scene” 7L brings the guitar loop, punchy drums and some dope cuts on this track as the album closes out in grand fashion. Eso rhymes:

“Just like that, yeah we back, yeah the wait is up

Fresh in the game, my Jayson Tatum up,

Live guy, no glasses, got my lasik up

This ain’t Lady Luck, this is Gary Vaynerchuk

Yeah yeah it’s them Czar kids

upgrade ya enfamil, ya formula is gah-bage.”

Eso: “I think the Czarface fan understands what to expect…the beats bring out punchlines, wordplay, and engaging, metaphorical death threats… this is what we do…it’s the road me and deck connect on…occasionally we do concepts like dead zone, phantoms, or morning ritual…”

This album is the type of collaboration project that hip hop fans used to dream of. Czarface doesn’t need to placate or appease fans, however, they seem to deliver the team-ups that provide a strong sonic and visual complement to their own larger than life super creation thus winning over new fans with their creativity and imagination.

Creating the feel of a comic book through 7L’s dynamic soundscapes, Esoteric’s endless nods to superheroes and Deck’s relatable references, the team collectively embodies the Czarface imagery through their music. Ghostface assists on this tenacious team-up, adding to the expanding universe of hip hop’s greatest (ok, only) fictional antihero.

The album will be available Feb 15th everywhere and in special edition physical bundles here:

http://getondown.com

With the Bronx’s Ray West on the beat, Philly’s Zilla Rocca connects with Chicago’s Vic Spencer on “Spy Vs. Spy.” Ray West lays down a thumper with chanting, echoing vocal samples, crisp drums and rumbling bass. Vic Spencer jumps first with his comedic lines and dope references. Zilla delivers his technical and highly articulate flow.

With the hook:

“Too boom bap for arthouse,

Too weirdo for the trap-house

Too indie for the cash out,

Cuz all we do is blackout”

Both emcees deliver memorable verses over a solid Ray West beat. “Spy Vs. Spy” is the lead single off of Zilla Rocca’s upcoming LP 96 Mentality, coming soon.

Check the joint here on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/wreckingcrew215/zilla-rocca-spy-vs-spy-prod-by-ray-west-feat-vic-spencer/s-QlY6o

Or at Zilla’s bandcamp page here:

https://5oclockshadowboxers.bandcamp.com/track/spy-vs-spy-prod-by-ray-west

by Alex P80 Parks

The co-captain of Tha connection and Co-founding member of The Winners, Hempstead, Long Island’s SmooVth has experienced a blessed career in hip hop. SmooVth has maintained a strong presence in the independent/underground scene while simultaneously establishing himself as an elite emcee. SmooVth stays sharp with his craft, has an excellent ear for beats and a professional approach to meticulously crafted projects.

Full of exuberance and a bit of youthful naivety, a “Young SmooVth” is captured on this album of previously unreleased cuts. These joints showcase the hunger and ferocity that a baby-faced Smoovth displayed in his early days and in-between years.

The tracks display an appropriate feel of nostalgia in the beat choices while varying them enough to maintain listeners attention through this journey into the past. The tracks from Young SmooVth were born across a wide range of time, spanning from 2005/06 to about 2013

Deeply Rooted Hiphop caught up with SmooVth to break down some of the history and stories behind a few of these “lost” joints that defined the Young SmooVth era.

SmooVth: “Having kids saved my life, to be real. So to hear the aggression and pain in the early work is dope”

S:”During that time (back in ’05/’06) I was doing shows. A lot of that early work was before I had my first born, my son. So if you notice the transition, my newer work speaks more on my past experiences and being older and smart enough not to get into that shit. But my old work, tracks like ‘Pledge,’ ‘Trapeze,’ and ‘Shimmery,’ that’s me when I was actually living that rough lifestyle.”

Shimmery” (prod by 12-bit) over booming drums, SmooVth spits a quick verse ending with the definitive:

“I been rhyming since 9”

S: “The dark vibes in ‘Pledge’, ‘Trapeze’ and ‘Shimmery’ really represent the life I was living at the time. I was not too far out of just finishing school. I used to hang around a bunch of dudes at that time. Ride around and smoke, haha, do things guys that age do. I would find myself getting into trouble for doing dumb shit that young guys get together and do.”

On tracks like “Don Dada” (prod by Doktor Rheal) Smoovth keeps a street edge with this track as he flows over pianos, a strong bass line and thumping drums. It’s another standout joint on this album of vintage sounds. “Play The Game” (prod by EVB) is also standout joint, as SmooVth dances over the beat, flexing his strong vocal delivery. “Walkin Down The Hall” (prod by Sci Fi Stu) Over a beat full of vintage piano loops and dusty drums, SmooVth rhymes some youthful and simplistic lyrics to comical effect.

Strawberries” (prod by Knxwledge) SmooVth deconstructs the multiple variations of the red berry over a slapping beat with gentle bells.

SmooVth kills the concept here with lyrics like these:

“Strawberry kush, strawberry dutches,

Strawberry shortcakes, you gotta love it

Strawberry milk, Hershey’s syrup in the cupboard

Strawberry air freshener in the Benzo,

That’s my shit, I ain’t driving no rental.

That’s my bitch, I ain’t datin’ no pencil,

Coke bottles, even plus-sized models

Strawberry ass, strawberry chocolate

Strawberry starburst deep in my pocket.

SmooVth n***a all about a n***a profit.”

The PledgeSmooVth: “At the point of pledge I had tons of guys behind me going with me to shows, so if there were any street issues we dealt with that. So at that point I’m thinking yea it’s cool to have all these dudes behind me for protection or whatever but I’m realizing there’s hate outside and I gotta watch my back. That’s why in the first line I say:

“If I had a dime for everytime cats fronted, I’d have enough trees and change to roll blunts with.”

Water” (prod by Yuni Wa) Smoovth takes the esoteric martial arts focus here, including some notable Bruce Lee audio clips to show some of those balances in life.

Trapeze” (prod by EVB) The drums thump hard and the loops are ever so subtle as SmooVth talks of the moves to make and avoid out there.

On the hook:

“High up like trapeze, I stay high

foul, everybody want a piece of the pie

Transparent, you people so see through

High with the gods, SmooVth connect wit the evil.”

SmooVth: “On ‘Trapeze’ I was talking about my life and what we were going through and the stresses of not wanting to get in trouble. Hustling, but at the same time dealing with beef and trying to avoid police, survive basically. A lot of that shit I was going through was darker times here in Hempstead; I was just describing the neighborhood.”

Voices” Feat Hus Kingpin (prod by DJ Kryptonite) It’s fitting that the only feature is SmooVth’s long time partner and collaborator, Hus “Wavo” Kingpin. Over elegant harps and strings, both emcees describe how they’ve “been through so much” that they’ve started to hear voices in their heads.

SmooVth: “That Voices joint featuring Hus, that’s another old one. That was around 2006, so I was about 20 and he was like 21. Thing is we started on MySpace before Twitter and all this other shit. We were some of the first working with overseas producers. I remember getting beats and using google translate to try and communicate with guys who didn’t speak English. So I personally feel what’s going on now with all these producers sending shit from different countries. Hus and myself pioneered that… Back then, dudes used to make beats in their bedrooms just for the love of making beats and at this time, we were on MySpace fishing out producers and bodying tracks from each guy…just trying to conquer each country and make it onto everyone’s Top 8, haha. Hus and I were known as Tha Connection back then. At that time, if you notice the quality, some of the joints are a bit more rough than others. That’s because we were just young. Hus and i didnt fully know what we were doing yet.”

Reminisce” (prod by Philanthrope) The beat creates the exact mood intended as SmooVth details family stories that have stuck with him and made a lasting impact.

Procession” (prod by Doktor Rheal) A beautiful and simple piano loop with punchy compressed drums, SmooVth brings his deliberate flow as he keeps it moving on this throwback cut.

Feelings” (prod by INS P) SmooVth opens up a bit on this joint. The beat maintains a nostalgic vibe with the light guitar sample along with the clean snare and bass combo.

There She Goes” (prod by DJ Kryptonite) Here, SmooVth ruminates about a love lost and the things that could have been. Meanwhile he catches a beautiful woman passing by and ponders what could be in the future with her.

Dirk Diggler” (prod by Manu Beats) Closing the album out, SmooVth flows over a bouncing beat with piano chords and echoing snares. SmooVth spits lines like:

“Life of crime, rhyming since the age of nine

At the same time blinded by the daily grind

Hempstead, exit 19, Im 20 north.

Get this money, funny how it change ya thoughts

Cost to be the boss, spaghetti meat and sauce

Crazy how I get lost when I read the Source

Try and touch that, blitz a n***a touchback

What’s it gonna take to get my iPod touch back

I’m like fuck that, cuz anybody listenin will respect the penmanship, quite diligent.”

SmooVth: “After Giallo and I did the Medellin projects, I felt like it was time to get back to making music all across the board. This Young SmooVth shows that. That range of different sounds and types of beats. That’s another reason why I wanted to drop it, to show people what I can really do. Medellin 1 & 2 are conceptual albums. Giallo was in his bag of latin records for a while, so we thought of how can we make use of these. So we turned it into a cartel series; Like some narcos shit, but paralleling it to life coming up in the jungles of NY. He made so many beats with the latin vibe that there was enough to make 2 solid projects. And there’s still more in the stash if we decided to do another.”

While both Medellin projects have been very successful and critically praised, Young SmooVth is certainly a departure from those highly conceptual albums as it encapsulates a different lifestyle and persona of SmooVth from the earlier chapters in his life. Perhaps combing through these old tracks and releasing this album has been therapeutic for SmooVth, as he looks back on those earlier years with some fondness but also with the wisdom and growth he’s attained since. Young SmooVth is a solid album of previously unreleased joints that any fan of SmooVth Calhoun will want to check for.

Cop the album on Feb 11th, available on all streaming platforms, iTunes, tidal, Spotify, Apple Music etc. and for physical copies at:

http://smoovthcalhoun.bandcamp.com

by Alex P80 Parks

James Dewitt Yancey would have turned 45 on February 7th 2019. To commemorate Jay Dilla’s birthday and everlasting legacy in hip hop, beat creator Free Mind has made Donut Of The Soul: A Tribute to J Dilla, an instrumental album paying homage to the stylings of the late Dilla.

Free Mind: “Dilla’s music took me places in my heart and mind. Since a kid, I was hooked”

From Watts, Los Angeles, producer Free Mind has created some soulful arrangements and crafted many unique beats and vibrant soundscapes. Though he grew up in LA, He was influenced less by the “gangsta g-funk” of 90’s West Coast artists and more by the stylings of producers like Dilla, 9th Wonder, Premo, Nottz, Alchemist, Hi-Tek, Madlib, and Havoc. Free Mind continues to elevate his craft and work with some of Hip Hop’s elite MC’s. Most recently, notable collaborations and placements with artists like WestSide Gunn, Supreme Cerebral and Recognize Ali have put Free Mind’s beats into the ears of more listeners and expanded his global appeal.

All the tracks on Donut of the Soul utilize rich soul samples, but Free Mind forms these beats into some distinct moods throughout the project. Tracks like “Slow Down,” “Internal Compass,” “Reconcilable Differences” and “One Last Dozen” are jubilant and uplifting. Joints like “Soul Angel” and “Position as a Man” use the soul samples to convey a more warm and loving feeling.

On tracks like “Reflection“, Free flips the O’Jays “Who am I” to create a pensive and poignant feel to the beat. Other tracks like “Be there” also create a slightly morose vibe.

In Free Mind’s Beats, it’s the feeling captured, not a message or a conceptual topic to adhere to. Free Mind builds his sonic creations to fulfill an emotional need, a void. Dilla sought to create music like that as well, constantly appealing to the emotions of the listeners.

Dilla ceratinly would have appreciated the way Free Mind chops his samples. It’s where he chops them too; Short chops, indicative of the sampling techniques Dilla used on many of his beats, creating rhythmic elements from the chopped vocal samples.

FM: “I don’t approach my music with too much thought. I go with what I feel. I chop the sample, find some dope drums and go in. I will say this, though, I do my best to make sure that he would be proud of what I am doing.

FM: “I’ve always wanted to make a tape for Dilla, but just didn’t know when I would do it. Since this is my very last beat tape, it’s only right that I do it for Dilla and release on his birthday and also the day his last beat tape was released.”

With this latest effort, Free Mind delivers his tribute to Dilla across 12 finely crafted tracks. Bringing a warmth with the selected soul samples on this project, Free Mind uses Dilla-esque loops and chops to create a vibe that Jay Dee himself would Most definitely be proud of.

pre-order the album now, out Feb 7th here:

https://freemindsoul7.bandcamp.com/album/donut-of-the-soul