Record Label: Fat Beats Records
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.
Tronic is the third Solo album by Detroit MC/Producer Black Milk, originally released in 2008. Considered by many to be the LP that elevated Black to a new level after previously releasing solo efforts Popular Demand and Sound of The City. After being out of print for over six years, the deluxe silver edition reissue of Tronic is pressed on double silver vinyl, with a bonus 7” featuring five unreleased beats.
As one of the most-celebrated auteurs of his generation of hip hop artists, Black Milk has conditioned fans and critics to always expect the unexpected each time he releases new music. Few producers have earned the notoriety and respect he has as a musician, and when that is coupled with commanding talent as an emcee, it’s no surprise that his solo releases are met with exalted anticipation. The new full-length album “No Poison No Paradise” continues Black Milk’s trend of releasing material that maintains his signature sound while pushing it into new territory. Musically, each of Black Milk’s releases have kept one foot dipped in classical boom-bap and the other stomping with a fierce originality and willingness to expand his listeners’ sonic palate. “No Poison No Paradise” leaves behind the density and heavily- layered sounds of his 2010 release “Album of the Year” in favor of a more stripped-down approach. Some tracks showcase the raw sample-driven styles that helped make him one of Detroit’s hottest young talents nearly a decade ago. Others flex some of the sophistication and musicality that have helped to make his live show among the most-acclaimed in hip hop. Whichever direction he decides to take it, all of the trademark characteristics of Black’s music are fully apparent throughout the album: hard drums, melodic synths, and nimble flows. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of “No Poison No Paradise” is the evolution of Black Milk’s lyrical style. While he’s never been shy to get personal on the mic, Black introduces a refined ability as a storyteller on the new release, mostly told through the dreams of a character named Sonny. The album’s songs are steeped in autobiographical themes and construct rich visceral imagery of everything from the experience of growing up in a rough working-class neighborhood of Detroit to the struggles of maintaining one’s inspiration and success as an artist. Even with his lyrical progression, Black’s rap styles are unquestionably sharper and more varied than ever. “No Poison No Paradise” is another accomplished full-length solo release for Black Milk, and a return to form for one of hip hop’s most versatile talents. The album features guest appearances by Grammy-Award winners Black Thought (The Roots), Robert Glasper, and Dwele, as well as long-time collaborators Will Sessions, Mel, and Ab.
Produced entirely by MF DOOM Following the success of two collaborative releases (EMC “The Show”/2008 and Ace & Edo G “Arts & Entertainment” /2009), Masta Ace joins forces with the metal faced MF Doom for Son of Yvonne, a highly personal concept album that celebrates the life and legacy of Ace’s recently departed Mother. Like his 2004 landmark Disposable Arts, Son of Yvonne is meticulously constructed with stories, settings, and characters that resonate with flesh and bone humanity. Interstitial vignettes provide a thematic backbone to the experience, and each track complements and completes the previous to form a narrative whole: a sometimes visceral, sometimes nostalgic slice of Ace’s young life in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Entirely underscored by MF Doom’s iconic Special Herbs instrumentals, Son of Yvonne features the Juice Crew general Big Daddy Kane, new comers Pav Bundy (The Bundies), Reggie B and even MF Doom on the mic. It’s Masta Ace’s no frills flow, however, that looms largest above the dusty samples and digger loops that define Doom’s production. Ace’s photo-realistic rhymes about stick-up kids, spraycan artists and wack emcees add extra gravity to his already celebrated reputation as “truly an under-appreciated rap veteran and underground luminary” (Allmusic Guide). Like Eminem recalls in his 2008 autobiography The Way I Am, “Masta Ace had amazing storytelling skills. His thoughts were so vivid.”
With a wide-ranging repertoire that includes funk, soul, jazz, and hip hop, Will Sessions has been one of Detroit’s most active bands for many years. In addition to releasing numerous singles for the cult vinyl-only label Funk Night Records, the band has collaborated with artists as diverse as Elzhi (The Elmatic LP), Griz, Bad Meets Evil (Eminem & Royce 5’9”), Danny Brown, Mayer Hawthorne, and Black Milk. In 2011, they even backed Motown legend Dennis Coffey on the main stage at Bonnaroo. In 2012, Will Sessions introduced Mix Takes 1 / 2, live recreations of some of their favorite hip hop songs presented with seamless transitions in the style of a mixtape. On June 23, 2015, Fat Beats Records will release the third and fourth installment of the series, focusing on classic funk/soul covers, pressed on limited edition vinyl. The complete collection of all four “Takes” will also be released simultaneously as a deluxe edition CD. Mix Takes showcases the band’s individual talents and reflects the airtight performances that have made them one of the hottest live bands in Detroit. Now with Mix Takes complete, Will Sessions prepares to release their first album of funk originals in late 2015.