Off The Mic: March Edition
A lot of hip-hop heavyweights dropped music over the last little while (e.g. Kanye, Rhianna, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Drake) so you might have missed new tracks from some highly respected veterans and buzz-worthy up-and-comers. Don’t worry busy hip-hop head, I got you.
In this instalment of ‘Off The Mic’, I’ll present you with some of my favourite cuts of January and February 2016 that may have flown under your radar plus my local pick of the month.
Artist: Little Simz x BadBadNotGood
Song: Our Conversations
If you don’t know about Little Simz at this point, I’m glad to be putting you on to one of the most promising emerging emcees the UK has to offer. Her North American infiltration is in full swing as evidenced by a successful US tour in the fall, the ringing endorsement she recently garnered from Kendrick Lamar, and this recent collaboration with Canadian trap-jazz trio BadBadNotGood. If you’re a hip-hop fan you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with this gifted young spitter.
Artist: Black Milk
Song: Like I Need It All
Black Milk is one of the hardest-working people in music. In a Detroit hip-hop scene burgeoning with talent, he has carved his own lane as a producer-emcee through a series of critically acclaimed solo releases and stellar collaborations with other Detroit luminaries such as Elzhi, Royce 5’9” and Danny Brown. Like I Need It All sees Black Milk in rare rhyming form, rapping about the determination required it to achieve success and longevity in the game.
Artist: Omarion ft. Ghostface Killah
Song: I Ain’t Even Done
“This shit sounds like Batman just got poisoned by his old lady.” – Ghostface Killah
The fact that Omarion and Ghostface linked up on a track in 2016 is strange to me. The fact that it’s actually very dope is weirder still. I’ll chalk it up to the affects of whatever is going on in L.A. that has the coast buzzing with some of the most exciting acts in hip-hop at the moment. Demonstrating my point, producer Knxwledge’s entrancing production on this cut leads both Ghostface and the former B2K frontman to new heights over woodwinds and whiplash-inducing percussion.
Artist: Anderson .Paak ft. Rapsody
Song: Without You
Anderson .Paak’s recently released project, Malibu is a revelation. Filled with memorable tracks and eclectic sounds, the California native and recent Aftermath signee has elevated his unique raspy half-rapped style to another level since his standout performances on Dr. Dre’s Compton last year. Without You is representative of .Paak’s abilities as a songwriter and features a typically stellar Rapsody delivering a beautifully harsh verse about an ungrateful former lover.
Song: Fast Wave
I don’t know much about Sivey aside from the fact that he’s from Manchester, he’s down with Soulection, and he’s got a penchant for clever flips and use of samples. I do know that I love Fast Wave for its chill vibe and the fact that it’s a remix of a previous Sivey production Slow Wave, which also deserves your attention if you’re in the mood for some pure R&B.
Song: Intro (Rolling Thru the City)
F.Printz gets right to it on this intro cut to his second instalment of The Cold Capitvl Project, displaying superior rapping ability over a dark and glitchy beat from Andre OB. This is late night contemplation music well suited to the Ottawa winter.
Off The Mic: G.Grand talks favourite hip hop tracks of 2015
‘Off The Mic’ is a regular column by Ottawa-based rapper G.Grand who has released three independent solo projects since 2012. He provides recommendations for those who don’t have time to trawl music blogs or the dregs of Soundcloud. He also listens to a lot of hip-hop and R&B of all varieties, from local trap stars to international purveyors of boom bap.
What up everybody? The good people at Ottawa Showbox have given me a platform to highlight some of the hip-hop and R&B music I think you should be up on and I’m thrilled to oblige. Hip-hop is diverse and constantly changing so you can expect an eclectic mix of styles and perspectives in my recommendations. I should also note that I won’t be reviewing music or plugging my own projects in this space (you should follow me on twitter @ggrandmc for that). That being said, I’ll be featuring projects from local and Canadian artists that I genuinely enjoy as often as possible and will be sure to mention any conflicts of interest as they arise.
For this first instalment I figured I’d set the tone by keeping things very real and acknowledging that I tried to stay as far away from my computer as possible over the Holidays. These are some of my favourite tracks from the end of 2015.
Artist: Freddie Gibbs
Song: Fuckin’ up the Count
This is exceptional gangster rap at its most sober and depressing. With dark atmospheric production from Boi-1da and Frank Dukes, Gibbs details the thought process of a hustler caught in the trap and continues to show why he’s revered as one of the sharpest storytellers in the game.
Artist: Murs & 9th Wonder
Murs is very good at rapping. This song is filled with quotable lines for lovers of witty rhyming over rugged 9th Wonder beats. Honestly I’m a huge fan of just about everything Murs and 9th have done together since 2004 and the latest release from the veteran emcee/producer duo is well worth several listens.
Artist: AK the Savior
Song: Never Change
AK of Brooklyn’s The Underachievers shines on this solo loosie displaying the same rapid-fire delivery and smoked out vibe that has made the Underachievers favourites amongst fans of the former beast coast collective.
Song: rango 004
Memorecks is a talented producer from Toronto who seems adept at finding the perfect balance between hip-hop and electronic influences in his work. The sometimes Zeds Dead collaborator has recently released the second episode of his Bowlection Radio series that sees him drawing inspiration from frequent Soulection contributor Sango to deliver a potent uptempo mix of trap, hip-hop and Brazilian sounds.
Artist: Kevo Hendricks ft. Ab-Soul and Kenhood
Soulful, lyrical hip-hop from the US west coast. Ab-Soul, Kevo and Kenhood trade bars about aspirations, temptations and life’s challenges over jazzy piano keys and a haunting vocal sample. Kevo in particular comes through with a strong concluding verse that showcases his above average rhyming ability.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Bonus Selection:
Artist: Otaku Gang
Project: Life After Death Star
If you love Biggie and Star Wars you owe it to yourself to listen to this remix project by the Otaku Gang (Richie Branson and Solar Slim)………you nerd.