By Alex P80 Parks

California emcee Flashius Clayton and production duo Dirty Diggs link up for Flash’s sophomore project. The album is full of sharp lyricism over sample-based beats, skillfully placed drums and subtle effects, delivering a pure hip hop experience that showcases the talents of both emcee and producers. Fronto Fever Dreams is Flash’s official follow-up LP to his 2018 debut Wolf Moon.

While Flash is gifted at providing specific imagery and unique allusions in his rhymes, Dirty Diggs have been steadily doing rap production for over a decade, bolstering their ever-expansive Rolodex of emcees they’ve collaborated with. Diggs has a way of unearthing gems and also flipping even some well-known samples differently enough and incorporating additional elements to create new sonic textures.

Deeply Rooted Hiphop and Flashius Clayton recently connected as he was wrapping the album to discuss this project, his connection to Diggs and creating something he is truly proud of.

Flash: “This album means a lot to me. It was a long time coming. I went through a lot of rough terrain to be able to get this done.”

On the intro, Flash comes through larger than life over classical strings loops and booming drums. “That’s What I Heard” featuring Lissan’dro brings the thunder and doom with tense strings, blaring horns and rumbling bass. Dro lays his super grimy flow on this banger. On “Killing Field Guillotine,” Diggs provide a baroque harpsichord loop flipped all around as Flash provides his own verbal acrobatics. Diggs harness their inner RZA on “Red Envelopes” with wheezing and grunting martial arts sound bytes looped over a sawing instrumental. The vocal humming subtle effects and light percussion on “A Yukon Don” slows it down a bit, but not in terms of Flash’s intensity. “Golden Ratio” featuring Skunkz sports faded guitar loops interspersed with a jazzy loop. Skunkz has emerged as talent to watch for over the last year with his fiery verses.

Flash: “Golden Ratio is a “Takin Ya Cookies” sequel basically. Everything me and Skunkz do is a follow up of that joint to be honest.”

With a 70’s nod, “Cadillac Flying Saucers” provides a funky combo of psychedelic deep synth notes and subtle guitar loops. “Shot At The Funeral” features veteran emcee AA Rashid lending a sharp verse as he and Flash weave their way through an echoing vintage Italian organ loop. “Pure Uncut” featuring Don The Jeweler is a standout joint. Don The Jeweler drops gems with his lyrical dexterity on this track. Utilizing an elegant jazz loop paired with crisp drums and bass, coupled with a perfect strings loop and echoing synth this one has a gorgeous melody.

Flash on “Pure Uncut“: “I said a few lines verbatim from “So Vintage.” The hook is “Gritty hardcore this the pure uncut for connoisseurs and thug entrepreneurs on the come up!!”I asked Dro ( I had to ask Dro cause he was in the chorus of So Vintage) and Don both to get on that Pure Uncut beat but it wasn’t a good fit for Dro, he wanted something more aggressive. I wrote the verse and when I laid the hook in the lab, I realized I had a So Vintage part 2. I Sent it to Don and he was all the way with it. I just flipped that line for the hook straight up. Don straight killed it, Brought that Queens wisdom. That song kinda sparked his return to rap too.”

Another easy standout track is “Cocoa buttermilk honey biscuit” with its gorgeous combination of chopped vocals, orchestral arrangements and drums full of soul as Flash provides endless imagery and lines about a beautiful woman. Flash and Diggs close it out with the bluesy “Fronto Fever” featuring West coast legend Planet Asia for a razor sharp verse.

Flash and Dirty Diggs have a history prior to the creation of this album. Other than forming a friendship and bond over quality music, Flash has recorded at their studio for at least the last couple years, and has been an observer to many a session with some of the game’s illest spitters. More recently Flash and Diggs began working together; Not necessarily with an album in mind, but as artists who uphold the a level of quality and artistry for authentic hip hop.

On meeting Dirty Diggs:

Flash: “So this was about 2011ish. I used to hang out at a studio mad heads would go to. PA and Diggs had a session there on a day I happened to be there. And I had a fire zip of OG Kush. I was listening to mad SAS at the time (Strong Arm Steady). “They rapped about backwoods so much it inspired me to give them a try. So I had my pack of Woods and this zip at this studio-the Drug Lab (Sick Jacken/Psycho Realm studios). This engineer C-Sik was doing mad sessions in the scene back then, he engineered the Stoney Jackson LP amongst many other big projects. But he was my contact for that studio.

So I meet PA and JR but they don’t know I rap and shit. Camp Lo was either there already or coming through that day. But we all smoked a blunt in the foyer of the studio and they went back to the lab which was a good 50 feet down the hallway. I remember telling JR he had a fire Polo hat and he was like “who the fuck are you?” The song for the Raekwon feature on Crackbelt Theatre was playing out of monitors in the control room and I was trying to sketch some bars to it. I think PA thought I was writing some of his bars down, he asked me what I was doing. Early awkward shit you know? After that first blunt I wanted to try out my zip so I rolled a nice woods back in the foyer and smoked it to my face.

Minutes later I’m pouring sweat and getting this wild panic attack I had been getting smoking Backwoods and LA OG Kush. I didn’t know what it was! I thought it was just the weed!!! I was POURING SWEAT, Like a fucking pig in a BBQ pit. Camp Lo is vibing to a beat nearby; dancing and stepping and freestyling in the hallway and I’m like fucking dying in misery and pain. I was worried, but it was just the backwood veins. But I’m not used to the tobacco. I’m completely ignorant as to what is causing this horrible feeling. What I was actually feeling is the Backwood Sweats/Fronto Fevers. But I just thought I couldn’t handle the LA Kush. Which blew my mind cuz I had been a smokey boy since 9th grade in the Bay.

So Camp Lo is concerned about me at this point.. I was fucked up, pouring wild sweat standing in front of a wall mount AC tryna cool off, Dying, pouring sweat!! I was mad nauseous- basically I was a fuckin Pinocchio pleasure island jackass. No lie! Green, nauseous and sweating through my clothes. I had on a pair of Levis Jorts and the Bred 11s, not to mention a nice cheap stripey Polo shirt. I was hype to be in the room for this session (PA, Camp Lo, Crack Belt Theatre!!) But I had to dip. I started feeling pukey so I went outside.

But anyway I’m a good 30 minutes into this sweat attack. Camp Lo is legit worried about me. I’m trying to be cheerful but it’s looking grim. Luckily Asia and JR ain’t seeing this mess. But Camp Lo is surprisingly supportive. They only speak in heavy slang and they were like “you smoked a bogey?” I’m like I don’t know I smoked this blunt and I’m about to die yo. So I think I go outside to find a spot to hurl now. I don’t know if someone was in the bathroom or what but I needed air. Man, I just needed to drink a gallon of water but I don’t know this at the time. There was a bar next door to the studio they had a garbage can. I yakked into it quietly, got in my car and drove myself home an hour plus feeling like warmed over death. I didn’t say shit to no one. I just had to dip. It was like 3-4 in the afternoon at the very latest.

Years later I would go on to smoke countless fronto blunts w Diggs and Asia and them dudes. But I knew how to surf the fevers by this point. I grew a taste for the leafs and to this day I still get the fronto willies every now and then. But I mastered them shits. Made a whole album about that feeling with the dudes whose session I had to bail from ten years prior. When I realized this after we were done with the album and it had been named, I’m like boom.”

DRHH: What was the process of writing/recording like for Fronto Fever Dreams?

Flash: “Everything on this album was written on the spot though; every verse was basically written in 2 hours or less on this go.. that is one significant difference between this and my previous work you may have heard.. I had to learn how to do that honestly. I take a little longer than most but I be formulating thoughts! But that’s how they do it in Venice (CA). I’d kick it with Diggs; get silly stupid high and be stitching these bombs together. The whole time. Sometimes in the midst of wild chaos- a lot of people be in the lab. That was a big part of this album. Just getting silly high and pulling gems out my ass every time. That’s the essence of Fronto Fevers man… Damn near getting an anxiety attack of the powerful tree and leaf pods but having these moments of clarity. Still, I tried to play with new flows. Tried to push my self beyond the average performance.”

DRHH: Can you talk about the super dope original artwork:

Flash: “It was gonna be completely different art. But someone close to me heard it and said I sound like Godzilla and King Kong. So they said that vibe would match the music better… The font on the back cover is from Calvin And Hobbes, my favorite comic strip as a kid. And Calvin used to day dream about being a T-Rex or King Kong sized too. That definitely influenced my imagination as a kid too.”

DRHH: One of your lyrical talents is your use of specific imagery.

Flash: “Yeah, fasho man I get my imagery from guys like Rick Rae and Ghost.. Rick especially. Ghost was mad exciting with it. He always made me envy how he could make you see what he is saying. Surreal and ridiculous powerful shit. If you close your eyes you can see Rick’s raps. I try to do the same shit for sure. If you took Rick, Rae and Ghost, I would hope you could make Flash haha.”

DRHH: What’s it like going through Diggs’ beats?

Flash “Diggs has an endless vault of fire that can be daunting to hear. We went through a lot of ill beats. There’s always some new fire being made over there. And I had to get my killers on Diggs beats, Dro, Don, Skunkz… That was dope to do for me- to connect the dots between these talented brothers.”

Flash: “Me as a Giant is how I see myself in this rap shit. That’s how I want to be remembered on the mic. When I smoke this 30% THC of out of fronto leafs I be imagining myself as King Kong and Godzilla. Lyrically that’s what I’m doing. Kicking fire out of skyscrapers and shit.”

Flashius Clayton and Dirty Diggs continue to build on their dope hip hop catalogs with this album. Fronto Fever Dreams is a cohesive and solid body of work that puts quotable lyrics over meticulously crafted beats.

Cop the album available here:

http://flashiusclayton.bandcamp.com/album/fronto-fever-dreams

With their first single off the upcoming LP, Haverhill, Massachusetts-based rap group EXP (The Expendables) drop their Arcitype remix of their 2015 joint “Miles Above.” The single features a verse from the late, great rap legend Sean Price. Producer The Arcitype laces the beat with rippling synths, wobbly piano notes and thumping bass for the Mass emcees and P to showcase their talents. The song was originally featured on EXP’s Project Mayhem album. “We felt that the song and project didn’t receive proper promotion, so we decided to make a new, updated version.” The result is a reintroduction for the group, giving the listener a glimpse of what to expect from the upcoming album. EXP is a collective of locals forming back in 2010 that include the MC’s JK, Sha-Elemental, Dirt Rustle and G.I. Jonez.

Check out the track here:

http://hyperurl.co/9ne8ql

The EXP drop their full length LP, Full Circle on Nov 27th.

By Alex P80 Parks

“I really want the tape to play like a guided tour through the Soviet Union”- DJ Manipulator

Just in time for the frigid weather, Manipulator drops his cold-war concept instrumental project, The Soviet Tape. The Massachusetts-based producer and resident in-house DJ for Boston’s Nightworks drops his latest beat tape, bringing together Russian sound bytes, unique samples, and plenty of sick scratching over 14 tracks. The Soviet Tape shows off Manipulator’s skills as loop digger, melody composer, beat creator and DJ on every joint. Manip provides plenty of dope slices and scratches on every track, showcasing his precision on the 1’s and 2’s in addition to his prolific beat arrangements.

Layers of guitar riffs, synths and subtle effects ooze over the multiple percussion elements, often sparking catchy melodies and evoking a playful mood at times. Never afraid to take the risk sonically, Manipulator incorporates a wide array of genres, only adding to the texture of his beats.

Kalinka” sets it off with traditional Russian strings loops, drums and handclaps with visions of Russian natives dancing the Kazatsky or the Kalinka, both traditional Russian dances. The grand nature of “The City” plays large with piano and organ loops, chopped vocal snippets and plenty of low end thump to rattle the ground all the way from Kazan to the frozen tundra. Place your bets on “Durak” (a common Russian card game) as Manipulator brings GZA and Party Arty vocal scratches over a rumbling, menacing piano loop. Take another risk with “Russian Roulette” and it’s carnival/bazaar vibe, as Manip flexes some skills on the cross fader as the sounds move from ear to ear. The fictional Russian antagonist from Rocky IV, “Ivan Drago,” appears in the form of 1,2 jabs on the snares and gut punches from the bass. Manipulator blacks out on “Moscow Mule” with insane scratching and some crazy percussion with a haunting vocal loop hovering over it all. “Boris Godunov” brings the opera with echoing female vocals, Soviet melodies and booming drums throughout. “Groza” storms in with its prominent bass groove delivering a head-nodding clinic full of crisp drums and subtle melodic layers. Setting the tone with a creepy choral sample, “Transylvania” packs the eerie effects to close out the spooky holiday season. “St. Petersburg” provides the opulence and regal vibes courtesy of wind chimes, upbeat synths and some clean drums mirroring the lavish castles in the former Russian Czar’s home city. The guitar notes and gorgeous chopped vocal loops on “Bolshoi Russian Suplex” with a few aptly placed Zangief sound bytes provide one of the standout beats on the tape full of top-notch tracks. “Konets” (appropriately translating to “ending” in Russian) wraps up the instrumental album with slick, short guitar riffs over wobbling synths and ticking percussion, the vocal loops echoing in the distance.

The Soviet Tape certainly plays like a journey through 80’s era Cold War Russia, covering traditional ideas and customs but also adding some pop culture references as well. A refreshing and enjoyable 26 min that spans from Siberia to Moscow, Manipulator captures the essence and spirit of the era, injecting a thunderous beat and hip hop spirit into each sample and sound byte.

Preorder the tape now here:

http://djmanipulator.bandcamp.com/album/the-soviet-tape

By Alex P80 Parks

Drawing inspiration from the 2010 documentary of the same name, Crackhouse USA finds the Niagara Falls emcee connecting with Massachusetts rising producer Michaelangelo for a brief glimpse into the harsh realities of the present-day traphouse coupled with the lingering effects of the 80’s crack epidemic. The Diadora Don provides his boisterous vocals over 6 finely-crafted soundscapes that range in mood from bleak and desperate to hopeful and nostalgic.

Jamal himself was quick to make sure Crackhouse USA isn’t dismissed as merely an album, but characterized as more of a concept; a companion to a way of life. He provides the context from his own background of hustling and pursuing that lifestyle early on.

Jamal Gasol: “I don’t really consider this to be an album, but more like a soundtrack for the street lifestyle. All street shit to go with the vibe I got from the film.”

From the jump on the ominous “Time Is Changing” Michaelangelo uses what sounds like an 80’s horror movie piano loop along with crisp snares. Flee Lord drops by with a raw feature verse on the groove of “Str8 Drop.” On the swaying “Trenches,” Jamal’s confident flow and blunt depictions of hustling maneuvers pairs nicely with Michaelangelo’s haunting loops and often enigmatic production.

Peep the video for “Trenches” here:

Jamal speaks on the inspiration behind watching the doc: “I felt like I was watching the old me. Couple homies in the trap house tryna get it, but at the same time I understood what I signed up for so we knew what comes with it.”

Michaelangelo really brings it back with the trembling xylo loop that echoes on “Oil Base” which features Jamal’s hometown partner in crime, John Creasy. On “Igpay Atinlay” Jamal stays dropping jewels as he opens with:

“A wise man once said nothin at all

I speak Piglatin in all my calls

Everybody wanna be the boss, but me

I just want my girl to accept me and all my flaws.”

The EP wraps with the fittingly triumphant “Godly” with its grand, blaring horns, a tense strings loop and thumping bass. Mr. 31 unleashes assured verses full of brash bars, fully in-pocket.

Gasol on choosing the lifestyle: “I honestly have respect for people who made that choice when there was none left. But if you do got other choices, take that chance cause the streets ain’t for everybody. The streets ain’t a myth.”

Whether he’s breaking down the slick nuances of the hustler, or the tragedies of the streets, Jamal Gasol has a knack for his honesty and his direct delivery. Michaelangelo stretches a sonic canvas that captures some of the hopelessness and depravity of the fiends and the living conditions of those crackhouses, yet also provides some throwback uptempo vibes to adequately vary the short ride. He pulls some great samples for Jamal Gasol to spit on, ensuring plenty of head-nodding.

Cop the EP available at midnight here:

https://jamalgasol.bandcamp.com/album/crackhouse-usa

By Alex P80 Parks

The Duck Down/BCC affiliated, Brooklyn emcee known for clever wordplay teams up with LA producer and DJ, Tone Spliff. Rustee Juxx provides a plethora of creative punchlines while Tone Spliff supplies plenty of booming drums and slick cuts on the 9 track project.

Ruste’s raspy delivery and street flow have been a staple in hip hop ever since Juxx was rockin Crown Heights over 20 years ago, catching the ear of the now late, great Sean Price. On the left coast, Tone Spliff continuously stays working with some of the game’s best lyricists, putting out some excellent beats and projects.

On the title track, Tone brings in a darker mood with murky loops straight out a murder scene. Big Twins comes through with one of the grimiest voices in the game, partnering with Juxx to deliver a lesson in gritty rhymes on “24K,” a highlight on the project. Tone chops light piano notes on “Take Precaution,” as Juxx gives plenty of warnings to prospective emcees and anyone in doubt. Tone provides crazy scratch hooks with some ill and notable lines on every joint. “For Every Shell” is another standout track featuring short chopped loops paired with heavy drums and open hi hats. Juxx comes correct with his energetic delivery.

Check out the video here:

“How Itz Done” feat King Magnetic and Ill Conscious sports a chopped doo wop vocal sample as the three emcees two-step over the bouncing beat. Tone brings the impending doom on “Sucka Free” as Juxx and UG (of Cella Dwellas) spit menacing lyrics. On “Style” feat Recognize Ali and Ren Thomas, Rec Ali starts off delivering the shots, followed by Ren and his vicious flow, with Ruste bodying the track and Tone wrapping it all up with cuts echoing into the distance.

A dope project pairing Ruste’s no nonsense bars with Tone Spliff’s sharp beats, always full of big drums. Ruste Juxx provides such venomous and spirited flows, one can essentially hear the spit dripping from the mic. Tone has scratch hooks for days, always getting the perfect line to cut up. The two make a logical pairing and create a dope project for any fans looking for no nonsense bar work over solid production with some ill scratches throughout.

Cop the album here:

http://tonespliff.bandcamp.com/album/magma-pre-order

By Alex P80 Parks

Scvtterbrvin focuses his visceral rhymes across a range of surreal, nervous and mind-warping soundscapes from some of the underground’s most active producers with his latest project, the 10 track The Acid Atheist. Currently residing on the East Coast, the San Diego-bred, former battle rapper stretches his syllables, using a delayed cadence. The project upholds much of the trippy aesthetics with dusty psychedelic samples and tense/anxious moods throughout. Scvtterbrvin’s content often pushes the shock value envelope but he does so without forcing it. On Acid Atheist, Scvtterbrvin often comes across as almost comically brooding, yet he seems to maintain a level of humility, staying grounded and avoiding boastful lines.

DRHH caught up with Scvtterbrvin to find out about his battling background and how the new album came together.

SCVTTERBRVIN: “I originally started battling just to put in work and pay my dues. I didn’t want to be one of them producers that just starts rapping out of nowhere and drops an album. I wanted to be on the frontline and draw blood. I got into a lot of random battles around Southern California. I Eventually ended up battling on GrindTime, the Red Bull EmSee competition and King of The Dot.

DRHH: How is your approach to rhyming on an album different than battling?

SCVTTERBRVIN: “In rap battles I’m targeting one person and trying to show everybody I’m the better rapper. It’s a lot more ego tripping. When it comes to recording I try to still have the same energy but channel it to fighting a greater evil. It becomes more about destroying the status quo than another rapper.

On the opener, “Born To Chill” Scvtter delivers measured rhymes over a daring strings and horns sample that echoes.  On “Rick Sanchez,” he spits over jazzy piano and flute loops courtesy of Infinity Gauntlet. On “Subliminal projection” feat Odessa Kane producer Evilldewer provides a juxtaposing beat that’s hopeful and light but still provides an edge as both emcees bring fiery verses.

DRHH: What was different for you about putting this project together?

SCVTTERBRVIN: “Going into this project I needed to drop a higher dosage of music for the people. I usually just put out EPs with 1 producer. This one is 10 songs with all different producers from different places. I wanted to mesh my style with producers I never worked with before. I feel like if you’ve never heard of me this is the perfect album to start with to see if you want to plug in to the RLK (Red Lotus Klan) matrix... When I first started trying to rap I was able to freestyle alright but I couldn’t understand how to write rhymes in a 16 bar format. One night I was on acid watching a Rakim interview. He was describing how he wrote his raps and after that I was locked in. I seen exactly what he was talking about and everything connected for me. Shoutout to the God, Rakim Allah.

DRHH: How’d the title come about?

SCVTTERBRVIN: “Originally my rap name was “Scatter Brain The Acid Atheist”. I stopped using it after a while because promoters were scared to put my full name on the flyer. I decided to name this new album The Acid Atheist to remind people I’m still here. The rap game is full of nothing but cocaine and alcohol so I decided to bring LSD to the party.

On the “Cutting Room Floor” producer JLVSN creates a jarring, anxiety-inducing beat, as if someone was laying on the horn in the car behind you. Producer Grimm Doza puts down some compressed drums with short chopped flutes on “Nolan Ryan vs Robin Ventura” as Scvtterbrvin snarls his way over the beat with creative metaphors and some clever wordplay. Check out “Gator Rogowski” produced by Won87 here:

Evilldewer provides a more cosmic beat on “Cloak and Dagger.” A standout joint, with the ghostly strings loops, “Luxury Ambulance;” Producer Ali Kharmicel conjures up film noir score bits with visions of Scvtterbrvin peering over his ouija board, as he respectfully borrows an infamous Guru line from “Soliloquy of Chaos” for the hook. Another standout track that fits in with the uncertain mood of the entire project,”Epilogue Editor;” Producer Wazasnics creates some tension with rising strings over crunchy drums, as Scvtterbrvin carefully places his metered bars. Check out “Loko Haram” feat Obnoxious produced by The Historian here:

On The Acid Atheist, Scvtterbrvin provides the hazy trails with plenty of moody avant garde beats to fuel the creative imagery and clever wordplay. Scvtterbrvin definitely delivers to the niche underground heads looking for sample-based beats and darker, psychedelic vibes.

Cop the album available here:

http://scvtterbrvin.bandcamp.com/album/the-acid-atheist-3

Delivering the first video from his upcoming LP, Lake Water, the Alabama emcee makes sure the water is murky, at best in “I’m So.” With a bouncing beat full of dusty loops from producer Ed Glorious, SeKwence and guest rhyme partner Lord Juco spit laid back verses packed with heart and creativity. The visuals display a montage of clips of the epic standoff scene from The Devil’s Rejects, which features the late Sid Haig in his glory.

Check the video exclusively here at DRHH:

This single will be available later this week. Get ready for Lake Water, coming Jan 27th, 2020 from SeKwence.