Hodgy Beats – “In a Dream”
As most people observed when this dropped, Hodgy’s Untitled EP is a vision of what OF could’ve been if the internet didn’t ruin everything. To me, the projects harkens back to when the underground more or less existed to provide atmosphere over sick production (i.e., Jedi Mind Tricks, Necro, J-Zone, J-Live, Non-Phixion, etc.).
Homeboy Sandman – “The Miracle”
Somewhere, Dan “The Automator” Nakamura is furious. Or maybe he’s thrilled. But one thing is for sure: He’s well fed.
Prodigy ft. Havoc & Waka Flocka Flame- “They Scared”
HNIC 3 came and went with little fanfare, which is a shame because it’s the best thing P has brought to the table since Return of the Mac. Maximalist, weirdo Queensbridge at its finest. My favorite moment is this Mobb Deep reunion featuring Waka sounding better than he has all year.
A$AP Rocky- “Chunk up Da Deuce Freestyle”
Like one of those hot-boxing the whip freestyles you and your boys would do during high lunch lunch break — assuming one of your boys had a graduate level understanding of how to match flows and impeccable breath control.
French Montana ft. Chinx Drugz- “Cokeboy Killaz Theme (z)”
French Montana’s NY On Top: Year of the Underdog breaks his streak of quality appearances running back to the end of 2011. It’s a crew effort for his gang of weed carriers: the Cokeboys. The album seemingly exists to launch French’s right hand man Chinx, who on his best day is a poor man’s Ab-Liva, making for a listening experience about as appetizing as you’re imagining it. But as the old saying goes: An Outlawz for every 2pac.
El-P- “The Full Retard”
This could’ve been on Funcrusher Plus, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Curren$y & Styles P- “Jekyll n Hyde”
The 1st 28 is interesting because it’s like an installment of Back to the Future in which meeting and recording an EP with yourself doesn’t lead to a rift in the space time continuum. These out-of-the-blue collaborations that Curren$y wisely does to diversify his output are usually ho-hum — two very comfortable rappers remaining comfortable. In Styles, Curren$y finds a rapper who has carved out a career for himself almost exclusively on the mixtape circuit. He has a specialty and sticks to that script, occasionally getting called up to the bigs when a rapper is looking for his niche on a single. I find Curren$y pretty much in the same place I left him, an aw-shucks pothead still thrilled to have graduated from Lipton to lemon press, incapable of writing a hook but infinitely likeable. And that’s cool.
Cam’Ron – “Fuck You”
Yet another awesome song by Cam’Ron called “Fuck You”. This song makes me think Cam would’ve been right at home in a deck chair, sandwiched between Robin Harris, Commissioner Burrell and Coconut lamenting Koreans and their encroaching grocery stores. Something really crazy is happening to his voice, stay tuned.
Action Bronson “9-24-11”
And so on Thanksgiving last year, while you were busy grabbing a second plate, Action Bronson recorded the best song of his career. I’m going to add my voice to Bromwich’s chorus in proclaiming Blue Chips the best album I’ve heard in 2012. In it, Bronson offers a way out to those practicing the stubbornly lyrical brand of New York revivalism loved by my colleagues and other 20-something white males who name their bowls.
While Ghost is everyone’s favorite point of comparison for Bronsalino because his voice is nasal and his accent is heavily New York, on Blue Chips he’s effective utilizing the Wayne-via- Cam punchline theory: getting really high and throwing out a ton of bizarre/brilliant references to keep the listener engaged. That he’s doing this while employing polished formalist spit, that occasionally becomes a cadence clinic, only makes it more devastating. Producer Party Supplies also brings an element — the guy is allergic to a standard 4 bar loop — and almost every beat on the album changes at some point, adding to the wonderfully unpredictable element. And of course, the mistakes.
For me, Bronson’s dedication to knocking out songs in one take on this album is the most promising sign for his continued development. While great in and of itself, building the spontaneous experience is the sign of an artist striving for artistry. This is a quality I haven’t seen in the 5 boroughs in a while, and to see it coming from a white Albanian who thinks with his stomach is about as surprising and awesome and hip hop as it gets.