Blu is the leader of West Coast Hip Hop. Since the days of Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, and Jurassic 5, there have been few wordsmiths that have grasped the attention of listeners worldwide. Introduced to NWA and Public Enemy by his father, Blu later was captivated by the likes of Black Star, The Roots, and Common, creating a unique balance that is displayed in Blu’s personality and music. Blu’s first full length LP, “Below the Heavens” pairs Blu with producer Exile on the Sound in Color imprint. His first single, “Narrow Path” has rocked stages across the world, as fans begin to feel the impact of Blu’s music. His delivery flows flawlessly, while the content reflects the joy and pain of working class youth everywhere. Since the release of “Narrow Path,” Blu has performed alongside Slum Village, X-Clan, Platinum Pied Pipers, Lyrics Born, DJ Houseshoes, and many others, while participating in 3 high-profile nationwide tours alongside musical family members: Ta’Raach, Aloe Blacc, and Exile. The buzz has fans salivating for new music. Worldwide, people are looking to put hope into the ‘next’ emcee that will give them the same feeling when they first heard Black Thought, Common, or Slum Village. Blu fulfills this need, but maintains something that is entirely new, while not recycled.
Packaged in a tip on "mini LP" jacket with 10x10 poster On September 4, Southern California’s Blu & Exile return to their collaborative origins with the release of Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, the long-anticipated followup to the duo’s landmark debut, Below the Heavens. Featuring Fashawn, Homeboy Sandman, Johaz of Dag Savage, Black Spade of Hawthorne Headhunters, and ADAD, the new album on Fat Beats / Dirty Science is both an evolution from and complement to their first: a cohesive, kicked back collection of hip-hop buoyed by Blu’s gymnastic wordplay and Exile’s soulful, sample-driven beats. While Blu’s penchant for introspection and analysis remains intact, his perspective ebbs from the sun-soaked nostalgia of Below the Heavens to a more playful realm where raps about lost love and forgotten dreams find equal footing with those about Gondry films and delivery cheesecake. Together Blu & Exile have taken the raw materials of rap and crafted charmingly idiosyncratic, album-minded mu- sic that transcends coasts and continents alike. As with Dilla & Common, Hi-Tek & Talib Kweli, and Pete Rock & CL Smooth, there’s a kindred understanding between Blu and Exile that invites instant ease and empathy. Although Exile has produced tracks for Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Akon, Aloe Blacc, Jurassic 5, Kardinal Offishall, and Mobb Deep, it is with Blu that his production feels most at home. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, though undoubtedly a logical progression in both sound and scope, defies all the hype, precedents, and expectations to reaffirm the duo’s position at the forefront of LA’s burgeoning beat scene.
In 2011, hip hop artists from Detroit have continued to create some of the most celebrated music in the genre, and no one is raising the standard in the underground as high as Black Milk and Danny Brown. After their collaborative track “Black and Brown” from Black’s LP Album of the Year became a fan favorite, the two decided to record an entire EP together, fittingly titled Black and Brown. While the aforementioned track appears on the EP, the remainder of Black And Brown sees Danny Brown exclusively handling mic duties, with Black Milk showcasing his masterful production. Black Milk’s Album of the Year dropped in September 2010 to strong reviews and an impressive showing on the Billboard charts, and his stock has continued to rise ever since. Performing with a live band for over 80 shows on a worldwide tour in support of the album, he has established himself as one of rap’s best live performers. He also became the first rap artist to record and release music with rock superstar Jack White, who co-produced and played on the much-publicized “Brain” 7-inch single on White’s label Third Man Records. Never straying from his hip hop roots, Black Milk also serves as a member of the group Random Axe (with Sean Price and Guilty Simpson), and entirely produced their successful self-titled 2011 full-length release. Danny Brown first gained wide recognition with the release of his album The Hybrid as a free download in March 2010. Since the release, he’s emerged as one of rap’s most distinct new voices. The shock value of his drug- fueled and sex-laden rhyming has been frequently compared to the early works of Eminem, and his ear for progressive beats as well as his unique fashion sense has made him a favorite with critics. His latest project XXX was released as a free download in August 2011, and was instantly hailed as one of the top rap albums of the year by artists and fans alike, while receiving heavy coverage from media outlets like Pitchfork, MTV, and The Fader.
We got our hands on a couple of Danny Brown's XXX CDs, originally pressed up as a limited exclusive for the Fool's Gold Records storefront in Brooklyn. The first full-length release from Danny since his acclaimed The Hybrid in 2010, XXX is a concept record about hedonism, growing up, and Detroit, taking listeners on a profane and psychedelic journey through the uncensored mind of rap's most electric MC. There's no laundry list of guest appearances or producers-for-hire, keeping the focus squarely on Danny and his rhymes: a triple stack of pop culture references and did-he-really-say-that? provocations atop the heart of a poet. "The most peculiarly infectious voice since Dizzee Rascal." -- Pitchfork "Obsessed with words in an era that doesn't support laboring over lyrics, Brown is reinterpreting hip-hop his own way." -- The Fader
Diabolic’s back to crush your favorite rapper with his highly anticipated sophomore LP “Fightin Words”, which features guest appearances from Vinnie Paz, Sean Price, Celph Titled, Apathy, R.A. the Rugged Man and more, along with production from DJ Premier, Engineer, Junior Makhno, Snowgoons and more.
The name Will Sessions was born as a producer alias of trumpeter Sam Beaubien. After sharpening his keyboard skills and learning writing and arrangement from the accomplished David Van De Pitte (who arranged for countless Motown recordings including Marvin Gaye’s album What’s Going On) at Wayne State University, he decided to start a band. With classmates Tim Shellaberger (bass) and Bryan Arnold (drums) along with recruits Ryan Gimpert (guitar) and Eric Kacir (Percussion), the band was complete.T h e y helped to develop a nascent monthly funk music party called Motor City Funk Night, and three years later, the party has grown into one of the sta- ples of the Detroit scene, and Will Sessions were playing in front of crowds of up to 3000 people. The success of the Funk Night parties led to significant studio work with artists like Black Milk, Mayer Hawthorne, and Slum Village, and the hip hop sessions in particular led Beaubien to concoct the idea of Will Sessions recreating his favorite sample-based music in a live setting with the full band. His vision would be realized with three smash concerts in 2009 for Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, and Phat Kat, which left hip hop fans in awe of how the band stayed faithful to the original sampled and programmed beats, while creatively elevating the songs to new heights by recreating them live. It was the particular challenge of duplicating the unique beats of J Dilla that gave Beaubien the confidence to work on the emcee Elzhi’s anticipated project Elmatic. Elmatic had been initially planned and announced in 2008 as a tribute to the historic 1994 album Illmatic by Nas, but it wasn’t until early 2011 that Elzhi and his manager Jae Barber agreed that it would be best to recreate all of the beats from scratch--and there was clearly nobody who could do it better than producer Sam Beaubien and Will Sessions. Since it’s widely considered to be the holy grail of hip hop recordings, the prospect of du- plicating the music from Illmatic was daunting. By using the original sam- ple sources of the album’s tracks as a foundation, producer Beaubien and the band members managed to recreate both the sound and the mood of the classic album with stunning precision on Elmatic, exceeding lofty expectations set by loyal fans and skeptical critics alike. With an ever-increasing body of recorded work, a skyrocketing reputation within their hometown market, and their first tastes of national and international interest, Will Sessions are primed to be among Detroit’s hottest musical exports.
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In the early to mid nineties and at the peak of his powers as a producer, Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA crafted a distinctive soundtrack at his basement studio in Staten Island. Whether or not he knew it at the time this haunting landscape of dusty samples, sharp snares and menacing urban gloom, would soon become a pillar of hip hop history. These instrumentals, peppered in with frequent interludes of dialogue from the classic samurai flick Shogun Assassin, became the core of the GZA's 1995 sophomore LP Liquid Swords and would eventually be considered by many as each individual's finest work. Cerebral, strategic and precise with his words, GZA crystallizes a range of influences - from chess to kung-fu films to mob flicks and Eastern philosophy - into sharply delivered rhymes. Many would argue there is no greater MC to compliment the RZA's production as well as GZA did on Liquid Swords. The album featured appearances by the entire Wu-Tang Clan, and included the auspicious debut of Killah Priest on "B.I.B.L.E." Acknowledged as one of the "100 Best Rap Albums" (The Source) and "Top 100 Records of the 1990s" (Pitchfork.com). Under development for months, Get On Down has finally unveiled the latest, painstakingly crafted volume in it's Wu-Tang reissue series, one which we hope will stand as a testament to this iconic and legendary piece of Wu-Tang history. We are proud to present GZA/Genius' Liquid Swords in a two disc deluxe "Chess Box" edition. Housed in a sturdy wrapped hard board two piece box, this edition of Liquid Swords spans across 2 discs. Disc one contains the official album version while disc two contains the full RZA produced instrumentals, available for the first time ever as an official release. Both discs have been completely restored with remastered audio from the original source tapes and have truly never sounded better. As always with any deluxe Get On Down release, we have packaged this album with an array of extras, including; researched, in depth, full color liner notes with contributions from GZA himself, spanning across 20 pages, inner jackets and dust sleeves with memorable vintage artwork from the original release, and even a full wooden minature chess set, which can be played on the chess board printed and contained directly on the inner lining of the box. This is the Liquid Swords that both first time listeners and long-standing fans deserve. CHECKMATE!
Freddie Gibbs is the product of violent, drug-laden streets but unlike most rappers with similar resumes, he brings the block to the boothwithout inhibition or an exaggerated rap persona. Piñata, a 17 track collaboration with producer Madlib, is the best distillation yet of histransparent approach to making music, combining an at times stark honesty with electrifying talent as a lyricist and performer.Piñata is “a gangster Blaxploitation film on wax,” says Gibbs, who came up on the streets of Gary, Indiana, the disregarded city previouslybest known for producing Michael Jackson. Here he is joined by Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, Raekwon, Scarface, Domo Genesis, Ab-Soul and a host of others in setting his soliloquies of the streets alongside film snippets and dusted funk, soul and prog musical tapestries. While this is the latest in a series of single-artist collaborations for Madlib, after Jaylib (J Dilla), Madvillainy (MF Doom) and the street-centric O.J. Simpsonwith Detroit’s Guilty Simpson, the pairing is unique as it is the first time for Gibbs working with just one producer.On Piñata, where Gibbs can shift from textbook lessons in robbing and drugging on trackslike “Scarface” and “Knicks,” to perhaps thealbum’s most personal song, “Broken,” a collaboration with Scarface, who, along with Tupac, DMX and 50 Cent, make up the rapper’s ownMount Rushmore of MCs (“You’re getting a hurricane of all those motherfuckers hitting you at once when you listen to Freddie Gibbs,” hesays). “Deeper,” a Gibbs favorite and the third single from the album after “Thuggin’” (2012) and “Shame,” (2013) is an ode to hip-hop inthe mold of Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.”; “High,” featuring Danny Brown, is self-explanatory and just what you would expect fromGibbs, Madlib and one of Detroit’s finest; while on “Real,” Gibbs addresses an old score just as Michael Corleone settled all family businesson baptism day.As a producer, Madlib, quite simply, is music, and ten years into his career—a time when other artists become comfortable—Gibbs remainsrestless, focused, with an eye on the competition and their position relative to his ascent. This is because mentally, he’s still on the cornerhustling, which would be the downfall of the average rapper. With Piñata, Gibbs confirms that he is anything but average.
There’s a lot to be learned from Large Professor – how to produce, how to rhyme, how to cultivate new talent, how to stay creative and consistent for decades. The passing years only increase his legendary status – as a major collaborator with Main Source, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, etc. – while re-confirming his originality with each new project. So what’s on the syllabus for the Professor’s latest class? In his own words: “taking it back to the B-boy uprock style.” His latest masterwork Professor @ Large drops June 26 on Fat Beats Records. Large’s impeccable craftsmanship shines on each of the 15 songs, many of them at upbeat park jam tempos. Whether he’s spitting hard with MOP’s Lil Fame, dropping an ill instrumental, or casting his wizened gaze out of the kaleidoscopic cover art, Large Pro is always smooth, on point and uniquely himself. In addition to Lil Fame, the album features a connoisseur’s selection of fine MCs: Busta Rhymes reminiscing in double-time on “Straight from the Golden”; Cormega and Tragedy Khaddafi bringing the streets on “Focused Up”; Mic Geronimo and Grand Daddy IU keeping cool on “Mack Don Illz”; and Cormega, Saigon, Roc Marciano and Action Bronson comprising the stunning “M.A.R.S” – easily the best posse cut of 2012. In a classy move, Large Pro gives Marco Polo the album’s only production guest spot on the title track.
After waiting patiently behind two singles, a dope video, and a neon-blue triangle shaped vinyl, Union is ready to unleash the most musically challenging, painstakingly crafted, MC-packed album in the dawn of 2012 - Analogtronics. Featuring Talib Kweli, Elzhi, MF DOOM, Roc Marciano, Guilty Simpson, and more, Union produces space-aged bangers that mold perfectly around each guest, in addition to sprinkling in a few lush, eye-widening instrumentals. This is the full length we have all been waiting for, as bonus tracks provide over twenty songs hypnotic interstellar boop-bap Union consists of two Parisian producers whose otherworldly approach to analog-driven, melodically abstract, sample free hip-hop inspired Fat Beats Records to extend a label invitation immediately. When a mysterious, monolithic, glossy black package arrived at FBHQ with nothing more than a cryptic note and an unlabeled CD inside, the staff wasn’t sure if Stanley Kubrick had risen from the dead to make mixtapes or if their lives were about to be transformed forever. Luckily it was the latter, and today the legendary label is poised to unleash Union’s debut album Analogtronics on an unsuspecting Earth in the dawn of 2012. Union was born when OJ, a Dilla-obsessed beat junkie with an unhealthy obsession for science fiction, met Gold, a jazzhead whose vast collection of vintage keyboards and synths left little room in his flat for trifling vanities like clothing and kitchen appliances. Though both shared a parallel vision for the music of tomorrow, they each occupied opposite corners of Paris’ electro underground when their worlds collided in 2009. OJ, upon catching a flash of Gold’s keyboard prowess at a Belleville loft party, approached the funky technician immediately in hopes of applying his melodic touch to a nearly finished beat tape. Gold loved what he heard, and thus two unique creative energies become one distinct Union.
In today’s hip-hop landscape true virtuosity on the mic is rare. So rare that when even when it’s apparent it can be quite literally unbelievable. Rapper Your Old Droog knows this first hand. In June 2014 the 25-year-old Brooklyn native released his first official project, the Your Old Droog EP, a 10-track project he cooked up in about a month with producers El RTNC and DJ Skizz. The project was good—really good. So good it got the attention of bloggers all over the web from New York Magazine’s Vulture to NahRight. The problem however, was that Droog seemingly came out of nowhere. No pictures, no YouTube videos, no Instagram account, no Twitter—no way for the entitled, deep-diving rap fan of 2014 to see what this guy was all about. All they had to go on was the music. Befuddled by Y.O.D.’s high skill level yet low profile, rap fans’ imaginations ran wild. Before long the conspiracy theories started and people began to posit that Droog was another older, legendary New York rapper in disguise. People argued about it on Reddit and made YouTube documentaries about him, while fans of his EP waited for the mysterious MC to show himself. Profiled in the New Yorker, Droog set the record straight about who he was and followed up with the first video of him rapping at his DJ’s makeshift Brooklyn studio, all before making his debut to a sold out crowd in NYC in September of that year. Given a rave review in the New York Times, the performance proved that though his identity had been mistaken by some his talent was unmistakable and his impact on hip-hop was undeniable. Droog has extended the EP for a deluxe retail version including eight new songs. The debut has already made New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica's 10 Best Albums of 2014 list and landed at No. 13 on Rolling Stone's 40 Best Rap Albums of 2014 list. See him live with legends DJ Premier and Royce Da 5' 9" (PRhyme) on their 26-date North American tour.
Clear Soul Forces is next to carry the burning flame for the city of Detroit. Discovered, championed, and mentored by Royce da 5’9”, the four-man group rhymes like genetically enhanced street poets from the 70’s who are here to remind us what album rap sounds like. The vision of E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and producer/emcee Ilajide combines golden era, 21st century, backpack and sub-woofer hip-hop but never sounds dated, derivative, or awkwardly avant garde. These guys are serious performers and hard workers devoted to making music that honors the legacy of Detroit’s legendary lineage. The group emerged in the aftermath of a serendipitous studio session in 2009 where the four emcees scraped together money to record individual music. Royce, who was recording his album “Street Hop” at the time, had coincidentally booked the room next door. The four soon-to-be group members jumped at the chance to kick some rhymes for the local luminary, and the rest is history. By the time the sun rose nine hours later, the four star-crossed strangers were now officially Clear Soul Forces -- and they already had a powerful first fan. After their debut mixtape “Clear Soul Radio”(2010), follow-up EP “The Departure”, an A3C Festival appearance, two SXSX showcases, induction to Red Bull Academy’s Soundstage program, the release of 2012’s “Detroit Revolutions” LP, and performances with Tanya Morgan, Just Blaze, Alchemist, Talib Kweli, and Freeway, Clear Soul Forces are ready to make good on the potential seen by Royce da 5”9”on that fateful night in Detroit. Their new full-length album, Gold PP7s, will be released this September on Fat Beats Records.
With his highly-anticipated fourth solo-LP, P.T.S.D. - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Pharoahe Monch re-emerges with a new concept project which finds the ground breaking emcee tackling PTSD; a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. Throughout the duration of the LP, Monch narrates as an independent artist weary from the war against the industry machine and through the stuggle of the black male experience in America.When Eminem recently named-dropped him (“But I still rap like I’m on my Pharaohe Monch grind) on his “Rap God” single it was for good reason, as Pharoahe Monch has been at the forefront of lyrical innovation for two decades now. Not only is he one of Hip-Hop’s preeminent lyricist, crafting intricate rhyme schemes and intelligent raps, but he is also an incisive policital and social commentator, using Hip-Hop as a platform for political engagement as his “Bullet” trilogy hauntingly speaks to audiences in the same dark personification of a bullet.