Record Label: Below System
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Brooklyn veteran spit kicker Shabaam Sahdeeq has returned with his fifth studio album, Keepers Of The Lost Art. The relentless lyricist delivers a body of work that puts his lyrical aptitude at the forefront, while placing an emphasis on top shelf production and cuts, courtesy of Ran Reed, Lewis Parker, DJ Dister, DJ Ready Cee and DJ Skizz, to name a few.
What originally started as 40 tracks, Keepers Of The Lost Art was eventually boiled down to 20, reflecting S-Dub’s most comprehensive long play release to date. The LP details his motivation to stay in the game and fight for the culture with bars as tough as the mic in his hand. The production runs the gamut from laid back as exemplified by the nostalgic piano chords on the Lewis Parker produced “Walk with the Light,” to electrifying, as demonstrated by the DJ Skizz produced street banger “That Dope,” which boasts features from Brooklyn’s premiere panderer Wais P, and the lyrically sharp Sha Stimuli. And complain no more club deejays, Shabaam has you covered for a dance friendly cut to spin late Friday nights with the DJ Wonder produced “Fall In Line.” It’s safe to call it a comeback as his rhymes are as polished today, as they were when he made his Rawkus debut in ‘97 with “Arabian Nights” B/W “Side 2 Side.”
Artistically, the album cover reveals a scenario where Hip- Hop’s younger generation discovers the cultural keepsakes of yesteryear. From a solid gold boombox, to jewel crusted crowns, drum machines, and outboard gear, S-Dub is here to confront the generational disconnect, as spelled out on the Eric Rico featured “Grown Man Hustle” -- “Some of these young boys consider me a throwback, I birthed your style you need to give me my flow back,” spits S-Dub. When explaining the album cover, Shabaam states: “Imagine the world came to an end in an apocalypse and some kids survived in a bunker. Now when the dust settles and the smoke is gone, the kids come out the bunker and discover a treasure chest in an old music store that contains all the elements of Hip-Hop, and started having fun with it.” Whether you see it as a time capsule or the last defense of Hip-Hop’s watchmen, Keepers Of The Lost Art could be played ten years ago, today, and ten years from now with high praise.
Keepers of the Lost Art includes guest features from the likes of Tragedy Khadafi, REKS, El Gant, Wais P, Sha Stimuli, Skyzoo, F.T., Mic Handz, General DV (DV Alias Khrist), Spit Gemz, and Bekay among others, and becomes available April 22nd via digital download and CD, through Below System.
1. Keepers Of The Lost Art
2. Conceited Confidence
3. Playing Games
4. Speak Truth featuring Reks & Kamala
5. Walk With The Light
6. That Dope featuring Wais P & Sha Stimuli
7. Hardbody & Heavy featuring Half A Brick & EastKoast
9. Grown Man Hustle featuring Eric Rico
10. The Come Back Kid featuring Skyzoo & F.T.
11. Seasons Change
12. City Of Fame featuring Mic Handz
13. He Who Dares featuring Lewis Parker
14. Fall In Line
15. O.G Certified featuring Tragedy Khadafi
16. Done It All featuring Bekay
17. Relax (Remix)
18. Energon 2 featuring Spit Gemz
19. Honor Me Now (Remix)
20. U Don’t Want None featuring General DV
L.A. producer, Mndsgn’s most recent project, Breatharian, gets the official re-issue treatment via the newly formed Fresh Selects label. The rising instrumentalist - best known for his work with the likes of Danny Brown, Jonwayne, Sonnymoon, Blu, Knxwledge, and more - sees his first retail release in over 4 years and has pulled out all the stops for the occasion. A diverse, conceptual beat tape that takes a varied approach into exploring the strange phenomenon known as “breatharianism” - the project made waves when it first dropped last summer and has now been professionally mixed, mastered, and pressed to vinyl for the first time. Along with it are two new bonus beats, “Hiking” and “Bweyy” (featuring co-producer, Swarvy); the album also marks Mnd’s first ever official music video - in the form of two-fer, “Hiking” / “Fif Dim.
Donuts began simply enough as an idea to turn a particularly good demo beat tape into a full-length release, and has since became a classic hip-hop album, one of the defining works of the artist’s life. Completed during a year in which J Dilla spent mostly in a hospital bed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Donuts would gain particular poignancy when, only three days after it’s release, February 10, 2006, the artist passed away, losing his battle with a rare blood disease. Back late 2005 when Stones Throw was getting ready to release J Dilla’s Donuts, they made a casual decision to use a drawing for the cover of the 2LP vinyl release, rather than the standard cover photo of Dilla used for the other releases. But now here it is, better late than never: J Dilla’s classic album Donuts now released on vinyl with the smile on the cover. Cover & illustrations by Jeff Jank; photo of Dilla by Andrew Gura. Just a few months ago Stones Throw published a short back-story on the cover photo.
Madvillainy is a collaboration between rapper MF Doom and producer Madlib under the group name Madvillain. MF DOOM and Madlib were off the radar to many in 2003, but the announcement of a collaboration and the first track, “America's Most Blunted”, brought all the quiet fans out of the woodwork, and let to a controversial and highly acclaimed album release in early 2004 that helped expose the two artists to a large audience for the first time. While the producer and MC both did was what completely natural to them at the time, they turned the formula of popular rap at the time on its head, creating an album that is both unique and true to it's hip-hop influences.
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.