By Alex P80 Parks

On a first listen of Pro Zay, your focus will most likely center on Pro Zay’s strained and raspy vocals. Upon further listen, you hear a passionate emcee, very particular about the sound he’s created. His beat selection shows a sophisticated ear, as evidenced by his last 2 projects, both from 2018, Slump and Powder Shoe Prints. On his newest release, 3Piece, Pro Zay continues to employ some of the finest producers for an even more elevated selection of beats.

The Psych Ward emcee brings a strong sense of pain and turmoil behind that croaky voice. No sugary raps here. Subject matter sticks to bleak street references, drug yarns and dangerous moves. Yet Zay tells them all with a sense of warning behind his narration. As he’s advising us all not to journey down those paths, as cautionary tales and potential beatdowns await within every verse.

Pro Zay told DRHH how the album is broken into 3 distinct acts:

Pro Zay: “It’s set up like a movie, there are 3 acts and each act is solely “directed” by a producer, and each act has its own emotion or tone.”

Act l: Rock, Paper, Razors Directed By Farma

PZ: “Act l is upbeat, it’s in your face; it follows the adrenaline of the hand in hand deals and what comes with it for our narrator.”

G6” feat Rome Streetz and Rigz sports chopped violins and thunderous bass. A standout beat on an album overflowing with excellent production. Rome continues to show why he’s one of the best emcees in the game as a top-notch feature like this. Rigz slides through with his sneaky persuasion, like he’s always trying to sell something to the listener. With “My Day” feat Sleep Sinatra and Lord Juco, all three emcees bring their own unmistakable styles to a sweeping strings loop. On “Sly” Farma samples The Five Stairsteps “Danger She’s a Stranger.” Though it may be a prominent sample, the choice fits well with the overall tone of Act I. “2000 Vialsfeat Theravada features a tense orchestral loop and lingering bass notes that rattle the speakers. Thrvda brings his serious tone to the track. Not relying on features like on “Snakes Slide,” shows a solo Zay at his best. Here he begins the track weaving a tale of a friend involved in a drug-spot robbery. Pro Zay gets introspective and nostalgic while also looking back at the struggles as well. Over crisp drums, Farma lays a delicate piano loop and booming bass as Zay himself, slides on the track.

Act ll: Spinal Cord Vision Directed By Camoflauge Monk

PZ: “Act ll is the paranoia of our narrator, feeling like he needs eyes in his back, not knowing who to trust, essentially like a bad acid trip”

On “Accept it” feat Jamal Gasol, Camo Monk creates a mood worthy of a late-night mission, a pickup of a shipment down by the docks. Jamal lends his calm, but intent street flow; playing in stark contrast to Pro Zay’s grating yet emotive vocals. “Red Dot” feat Wiardon displays another delicate and melodic piano loop over minimal beats, with just enough punch. Wiardon lends his unique wordplay to the track, providing yet another well-cast guest feature. The aptly titled “Mutant” features Academy spitters Fly Anakin and Big Kahuna. The beat lurches with compressed smoky drums as Anakin sets it off with his distinctive voice, spitting rhymes that seem to just spill and tumble, while Kahuna brings his boastful and confident bars.

Over the futuristic, dystopian soundscape “Sideways” Zay repeats the hook:

“Black tar slide,

always smell it passin by

always find these muthafuckers lyin sideways

I ain’t never questioned why

I can feel it in my spine

I ain’t trust a muthafucker round my way.”

Act lll: The Golden Swamp Directed By SadhuGold & Hesh

PZ: “Act lll brings our narrator to the final conclusion, having obtained all he had seeked, only to be pulled back in by the temptations of the “swamp”

Back Infeat DapZini and Chris Crnza. the Psych Ward crew connect over anxious and frenetic woodwinds and rumbling bass. Check the track here:

https://soundcloud.com/psychwardrecords/pro-zay-back-in-starrin-dap-chris-crnza-directed-by-sadhu-gold-x-hesh

Pan Dry” feat SmooVth is a pleasantly melodic clarinet loop that uplifts the emcees while the muffled drums skitter just below the surface. SmooVth provides a veteran presence with his assured cadence on this hazy, swaying joint. Pro Zay spits a quick verse over the echoing organs of the closer “Hell.” The tone of this and the outro both leave the listener with some intended lingering uncertainty of the narrative.

It may take a couple of verses to get used to his hoarse vocals, but Pro Zay’s voice is most certainly unique. Lyrically he’s at his best when he rhymes of some of the harsh realities he’s faced in his life. He definitely builds a solid foundation with his choice of excellent beats across this project, satisfying even the most discerning hip hop heads looking for some gems from some of hip hop’s best beat creators.

PZ on beat selection: Honestly, the beats are one of the biggest parts for me, I’m extremely particular on production selection, and I at least try to get the beats to flow fluently from one track to the next.

Bringing us on a 3-part story, teeming with All-Star producers and emcees on several tracks, Pro Zay constructs a well-designed and executed album, polished and full of varying beats and samples. 3Piece is definitely worth checking out.

Cop the album here:

https://psychwardrecords.bandcamp.com/

This posse cut pulls together some of the best emcees from NY to the Midwest. Team Fame CEO and Brooklyn emcee, K.Burns is captain on this mission, recruiting fellow Brooklynite Rim, Nebraska’s Sleep Sinatra and Iowa’s Teller Bank$ for this joint. Producer Bass Reevez brings in a minimal, yet ominous soundscape for each cat to creep over. The drumless loop creates just enough substance while allowing each emcee to bring a different element to this joint, showing their distinct voice and unique set of skills. Burnie brings his raspy cadence, Sleep lays his poetic flow, Teller comes with his high-keyed quick delivery while Rim maintains character, carrying out “The Plan” as he sweeps up after everybody.

“The Plan” is the lead single off KBurns’ upcoming Juanita Boys album, fully produced by Bass Reevez, coming very soon.

check it out here:

https://soundcloud.com/teamfamegvng/theplan

Long Island’s John Jiggs delivers the visuals for his “Mxnxpxly Family Freestyle” feat Mouf X Rockwelz with cuts by DJ Swab. The video shows Jiggs, MOUF and Rockwelz spitting energetic bars as they walk on the subway platforms, enjoying the vibe. Each emcee brings his own flavor to this hype track with some sharp scratches from DJ Swab to complete that true NY sound.

Check the video here:

By Alex P80 Parks

Continuing with his established Ghostbusters theme, South Bend, Indiana Producer and Team Fame Gvng member ECTO-84 delivers his first compilation, Ghxstrvppers: The Destructor EP. The 8-track EP features some of the underground’s brightest young spitters and rising talents. Ecto is developing a knack for uncovering some gems and utilizing an assortment of genres in his production.

Lord Juco and Haze connect on “Destructor” where Ecto brings what sounds like a prog rock sample that resonates with the vibrating organs and synth effects.

ECTO-84 broke it down for DRHH about putting together some of these tracks:

ECTO-84:”DESTRUCTOR was originally a solo track for Haze, but when Juco heard it, he had to be on it; he sent his verse in for it a week later.”

The Firehouse” featuring Chuck N Lock, samples Polish Radio Orchestra’s “Why do you say goodbye” where the piano notes rise and subside like the flow of the tide. Chuck N Lock bring their brand of sharp and clever punchlines over this classic sample. On “Mathematics” Long-time PRR/GCM affiliate Killa Kali delivers his measured flow over a chopped loop sounding like a vintage Saturday morning cartoon intro. Long Island’s Bub Rock delivers a solid track with “Heavy Rain.” Bub glides over a bouncing bass-line and slightly bluesy guitar sample. Team Fame Gvng CEO K.Burns brings his wild energy on “Tobin’s Guide” which pairs well with the vibrant sample ECTO chooses.

ECTO: “Tobin’s Guide was a beat I made at my brother’s crib. Packed my whole studio up to see if I could get a feel for a new beat. At this point, I was still tryna find a beat for K. Burns. But when that sample kicked in, I instantly got to work on it. Sent it dat night to Burns and the rest is history! By far a stand out beat on there to me”

Lord Juco stops by again on ECTO’s debut project with “Lunar Eclipse,” which sports a tumbling flute loop to wrap up the EP.

ECTO-84: “Glad it turned out how it did… Timing is everything… The patience was the biggest part of making the tape for me. Not rushin it out. Makin sure everything flowed together.”

ECTO continues to elevate and push his skills, this time calling on some dope emcees to spit on his debut. Expect more heat from ECTO to follow soon as he is currently working on multiple projects.

Next up: A collab project with Chuck N Lock, Pieces of 8 drops April 1st.

cop the The Destructor EP here:

https://ghxstrvppers.bandcamp.com/album/thedestructor-ep

The Rexxall Brothers (producers SampsonOnDaBeat and Rayne Drop) create an elegant sonic canvas for Lord Juco to paint his highly distinctive flow on. Juco’s tone always evokes an attitude teetering between candidly carefree yet also confessional. The Rexall Bros lay down a well-paced beat with clean drums, short-chopped piano and strings loops with a delicate flute coming in after a few bars. Whenever Juco and Rayne link, they seem to churn out some sharp joints. This is no exception. Juco skates in top form on this one, while the Rexxall bros bring a dynamic, head-nodding beat.

Check it out here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bodega-blues-feat-lord-juco/1455029087?i=1455029090

https://open.spotify.com/track/20rw1RbJLMz2wHa9uX7XQM?si=0NrsML8oRq6FJ9m52Ps7dg

 

Jamil Honesty and Free Mind connect again on Higher Learning. This extremely dope track features the notable “Maybe Tomorrow” (Jackson 5) sample used by Ghostface on his poignant “All That I Got is You.” Free Mind adds some drums and additional effects to provide enough variation to separate from the Ghost joint. Jamil Honesty delivers 2 of his best verses of recent memory and has seemingly found yet another great collaborator in Free Mind. Jamil isn’t mentioned enough for his relentless delivery and lyrical talents, as he shines as bright as ever on this track.

DJ Grazzhoppa adds some dope cuts on the scratch hooks which feature legendary Ghostf and Rae rhymes as an additional homage to the original joint while maintaining the spirit of the whole sound.

Check it out here:

https://soundcloud.com/free-mind-soul-7/jamil-honesty-higher-learning-prod-by-free-mind-cuts-by-dj-grazzhoppa

this single is off the upcoming EP from Free Mind titled The Soul Section, dropping March 26th.

Over a pulsating Blaq Knight beat with a synth harpsichord sounding like some Castlevania shit, all 3 emcees deliver their own brand of rhymes. SeKwence drops his raspy croaking flow and adds a second verse after Teller brings his high energy and quick delivery. Pro Zay comes in with his strained vocals to close out this uptempo joint. The youthful spitters solidly connect with Blaq Knight on this track.

check it here:

http://tellerbanks.bandcamp.com/track/dragons-breath-ft-sekwence-pro-zay

“Dragons Breath” is the first single off Teller Bank$ and Blaq Knight’s upcoming project The True and Living, dropping April 6th.