New Indie Hip Hop News & Reviews.
Peace Peace Fellow 88ers. Miami dodged a bullet last week as Hurricane Ian passed right by us and tore up the Gulf Coast and Central Florida. Our prayers go out for all who are still dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Speaking of storms, while Florida dealt with IAN, the Hip Hop world got flooded by a monsoon of dope releases. We are still catching up and trying to cover everything that dropped in the past week, so keep checking in as the Bag will continue to grow over the next couple of days. There is plenty of good music in theWEEKEND BAG below for the time being.
Must Hear LPs & EPs:
SOL MESSIAH – GOD COMPLEX
Growing up in his hometown of Atlanta, artist/producer Sol Messiah has always been inundated with the rich and energizing spirit of Hip Hop culture. Breakdancing from a young age eventually led him joining the legendary Rock Steady Crew out of New York City and learning and mastering the skill of DJing. From there, he began taking an interest in production too, which ultimately led him to working alongside legendary Atlanta producer, Dallas Austin. While Sol Messiah’s time with Austin created a deep catalog filled with timeless tracks for TLC, Madonna, Boyz II Men and more, he eventually chose to pursue his own path independently and spent years building a stunning catalog of his own, producing popular tracks for Chamillionaire, David Banner, Nappy Roots, Dead Prez and more.
Soon, Sol Messiah would embark on a fruitful musical partnership with a fierce lyricist named Sa-Roc. Together, Sa-Roc and Messiah have released over a dozen projects thus far, including Sa-Roc’s groundbreaking 2020 debut on Rhymesayers Entertainment, The Sharecropper’s Daughter. As a duo, Sa-Roc and Sol Messiah have amassed a global reach, touring internationally and rocking crowds across continents. They have performed at the legendary Jazz Cafe in London, performed live for BBC, and have shared the stage with luminaries such as Common, The Roots and Jay Electronica.
On GOD CMPLX, Sol Messiah connects with some of the finest MCs in the game to create an impressive collection of Hip Hop music that’s both innovative and inspiring. Featuring guest performances from KXNG Crooked, Sa-Roc, Evidence, Locksmith, Slug (Atmosphere), Aesop Rock, Murs, Baba Zumbi (Zion I), Che Noir, Lyric Jones and more, GOD CMPLX is a powerful and engaging project serving as a testament to Sol Messiah’s skills both as a producer as well a visionary.
ROME STREETZ – KISS THE RING
NY’s ROME STREETZ asks an important question on the opening track of his latest LP, “KISS THE RING”, released by GRISELDA RECORDS/EMPIRE. “You rather eat Food For Thought or a bowl of Lies?” ROME asks the listener as he proceeds to serve up a 17 track feast of that “Real Shit” you have come to expect from the GRX imprint. Standouts on the solid project are IN TOO DEEP, SOULJA BOY feat CONWAY, BLOW 4 BLOW feat STOVE GOD COOKS & BENNY THE BUTCHER, TYSON BECKFORD, DESTINY CHILD (That Piano Loop is crack), NON FACTOR feat WSG, REVERSIBLE with its warped sample, and FASHION REBEL. Some might find the overuse of the “Conductor” Producer Tag to be the only “Problem” with this album, but I personally like it. It gives the album a sense of urgency that hypes me up for the upcoming track. I’ll admit I have never been a huge ROME STREETZ Fan in the past, but this album definitely gave me a deeper appreciation for his pen and flows. His hustle and work ethic is unquestionable tho. He has risen through the ranks of the New York Underground like a Nuclear Warhead, snatching up production from some of the best in HIP HOP, including a whole album with DJ MUGGZ which some hold as a Modern Classic. That album was a little slow for my taste, but KISS THE RING is just what the doctor ordered if you like Hard Beats and relentless Street Bars. Press play and enter the court of Prince ROME STREETZ, and don’t forget to show respect and KISS THE RING while you are in his presence.
PRODIGY -”The Hegelian Dialectic, Vol. 2: The Book of Heroine”
Written by PRESHA
Twenty-two years ago, while listening to Mobb Deep’s ”Murda Muzik” album, I shot a man. I’m not blaming Mobb Deep for what happened. Not at all. My mind and heart were already in an aggressive and defensive state, and Mobb Deep simply spoke to my spirit. Since then, I’ve evolved in my thinking and emotional management. I’ve sought out knowledge instead of a knife. When Mobb Deep’s Prodigy released ”Hegelian Dialectic: The Book of Revelation” in January of 2017, just six months prior to his passing, I was so relieved to hear his content had matured, and once again I felt a kindred connection with one of my favorite emcees. When he died, I mourned as if a part of me had passed along with him.
After Prodigy’s death, his estate went into damage control and legacy preservation mode. They’ve been responsibly handling all he left behind while at the same time mourning the loss of a legend. Legal battles led to having Prodigy’s music pulled from all streaming platforms in 2019 leaving Hip Hop with a noticeable void.
Thankfully, those days are behind us. Prodigy’s estate, with the help of L. Londell McMillan of The North Star Group, have inked a distribution deal through Warner Music Group. On May 20, Prodigy’s solo projects like ”H.N.IC.” and ”The Bumpy Johnson Album” were returned to streaming platforms. Now, Prodigy’s second installment of his Hegelian Dialectic trilogy has landed for all to enjoy.
”The Book of Heroine” pays homage to women, specifically his wife Kiki, whom he speaks directly to all throughout this posthumous piece. On ”Escapism”, He professes his love and speaks of sharing his knowledge with Kiki. (”You lucky that I love you and share what I know/ I can’t have my wife be some def, dumb, and blind hoe….”) Then he proclaims intelligence to be the ”new gangster.” Big salute to Bandana P! On ”Flirting with Death,” featuring Chinky Santana and Big Noyd, Prodigy speaks of death like a seductress who leaves her lipstick on his neck and wants him all to herself, but Prodigy turns down her advances and says, ”…I ain’t done with life yet.” This hook gave me goosebumps.
While the album features production from notable names like DJ Premier and Knowledge, one of my favorite producers, I was disappointed by the absence of Havoc’s signature sound. The good news, however, is that not only do we have a third Hegelian Dialectic on the way (The Book of the Dead) in 2023, but there is also a Havoc produced Mobb Deep album on the horizon. I look forward to hearing that magical formula that once was the soundtrack to the streets, but I’m also hopeful that I might hear the infamous duo get their grown man on. We’ll see!
RANSOM – THIS LIFE MADE ME
Written by: PRESHA
Science has yet to discover a way to reverse time. If it were possible, most of us would probably change some choices or edit some events. The past can become a source of pain, capable of infecting our present. So, the question is, how do we heal the past?
Jersey City emcee, Ransom, was slashed by adversity at a young age. He was living in Brooklyn when his father was murdered, and after his mom fell ill, he was forced into foster care for a few years. Fortunately, his mother recovered, and they moved to Jersey City when he was about eight years old. Tough times caused Ransom to travel down a self-destructive path. As a teen, he bounced in and out of jail for dealing drugs. But Ransom desired something different, so he made music his motivation.
”This Life Made Me,” his newest EP, is produced primarily by Mayor with co-production credits from TY Jams and Bernard B. It’s short and sweet–only six songs–but twenty minutes of quality Hip Hop. On the opening track ”Pain is Glory,” Ransom declares himself a modern day Michaelangelo in the way he ”paints these pictures.” But Michaelangelo was also a poet, and so is Ransom. ”Pain is Glory” has the victorious vibe of Nicki Minaj’s ”Moment 4 Life.” Both the title and sound of arrival resonate with me, and so do the following bars: “…My first rap check like ‘momma, look what my pen made us’/ me and my brother locked up now, look what the pen made us/ damn, look at what all these men gave up/ stare ’em in their eyes and feel all the time that they spent caged up….” The next track ”Ignorance” is far from ignorant. Bars like, ”…What the Lord do when He called Moses? Never conceded the mission/ he had to walk through water so you see the division…” are visual and intelligent. The third track, ”The Prophecy” strikes a triumphant tone. Ransom kinda cheats by including the song ”Last Gasp” on this EP. The song features a fire verse from 38 Spesh, but was already featured on 38 Spesh’s ”7 Shots” project released back in July. ”The World is Yours” has a big venue rock & roll energy. ”Purge Night,” the closing track, is the EP’s biggest moment, where dark organs and a feature from QB great Havoc merge on some classic Mobb Deep massacre shit. This is by far the hardest track. It makes me wonder what an entire project with this killer combination would sound like.
So, back to our question, how do we heal the past? On ”Last Gasp,” 38 Spesh spits, ”…A marathon ain’t about speed/ you gotta pace yourself/ this ain’t about greed….” Patience is key. We have to trust that our pain has a purpose. We can actually shine new light on our past. We can change how the past affects our present. Ransom made a choice. Instead of being crippled by his pain, he transmuted his pain into power. He turned his misery into music. Life doesn’t have to break us; it can make us–into something great.
HUGH STONE x HINEZ- PRIVATE RESERVE
Who Want Smoke? HUGH STONE & HINEZ are blazing an entire pound on their latest release, “PRIVATE RESERVE”. With over 18 years of history between the two, the Bronx Repping Producer HINEZ, and Houston Shooter HUGH STONE have recently linked back up on the music tip to cook up some Hip Hop worthy of rolling up and burning to.
The Flutes DEE HINEZ loops on WAKE N BAKE are as addictive as sugar-coated breakfast cereal. His production throughout the 7 track EP is superb and matches STONE’s “Thompson Submachine Gun” style perfectly, giving HUGH STONE plenty of moving targets to mow down. My favorite joint off the album is “NEW STRAIN”, a great smoke out anthem with a groovy synth and baseline loop over some laid-back drums that keep your head nodding as you get high off of STONE’s description of the dispensaries menu.
My only complaint with PRIVATE RESERVE is that the majority of the EP is made up of one-verse joints. Like complimentary personal prerolls to give you only a small taste of what HINEZ & HUGH STONE are growing in their greenhouses. The marketing idea is genius, but I have to admit, I wish these blizzies were a bit chunkier.
You need to follow them to get some more of this product straight from the source. HINEZ has projects with K.RIME and ISIS ASET in the packaging process and we look forward to anything HUGH STONES drops. You can trust that we gonna smoke you out to it on WVCC RADIO.
AYNT – INSOMNIA 2: NASFURATU
#SoFlow, aka The South Florida Indie Hip Hop Scene, has been blessed with some pretty interesting characters over the years. One of those eccentric creatives is AYNT of the M.I.ANIMALS collective. A one time member and producer for Fountain Bleu’s legendary J.T.C. (JUST THIS CREW), AYNT has been carving bars out of thin air with his razor sharp tongue and wit and producing top-notch boom bap since his Mid Teens. Considered somewhat of a prodigy around these parts, AYNT earned his respect from the Miami/Broward underground early but did not grow complacent or satisfied with this local notoriety. Always known as a recluse, AYNT kept his circle very small, kept his head down in his work, kept his focus on his art, and has continued to release solid projects under his M.I.ANIMALS Family Brand. His latest “mixtape”, INSOMNIA 2: NASFURATU, is a continuation to 2020’s INSOMNIA, and a clear evolution in steeze for the emcee of Cuban descent. He dedicates this tape to the memory of his Uncle, TIO YAYI, whose high spirits in the midst of tough times always inspired ANTHONY as he grew up in less than prosperous surroundings. A Student of J Dilla, MadLib, Daringer and MF DOOM, AYNT has a unique ear for beats as he exhibits with the instros he chooses to bless on INSOMNIA 2. His pens ink is a unique hue, not sold in stores, but siphoned from AYNT´s own soul to add originality and honesty to every personalized punchline he jots down. He gives you peaks into his past and skewed psyche on joints like GOMEZNOMO and THE CATALYST where he slaps me across the face with an iron glove of Nostalgia that will only be felt by those who came up in the #SoFlow scene circa 2008-2015, and experienced the soul of Catalyst Miami (RIP JOEL STIGALE). COMMAZ & orginal J.T.C. Member RETRO1920 join him on EYE OF THE STORM & minimal percussioned MEMBERS ONLY, & He gets naked and honest about his current workaholic nature on tracks like SO MANY SONGS, DOOMED SOUL, & NASFURATU. He then bares his soul in both English and Spanish on YOU WONT LOVE ME, flipping his native tongue as he critiques the ¨Fake Love¨local communities can sometimes give, ¨Como ha grabado, alabado/ Vamos a ver si tengo suerte/ Llamo otra vez pa ver si halgo se presentara/ Me gustaria tener halgo por seguridad/ Porque a mi no me conviene darte lo que tu no das/ Esto nos son temas que reparte la comunidad/ Aqui te ensañan mas por lo que hacen cuando tu no estas/¨.
INSOMNIA 2- NASFURATU ends AWESOMELY with AYNT dropping a portion of the Gems he has been collecting for years, listening intently to elders who have some knowledge to share, and saving his words for the booth. As you can tell on the 11 track Mixtape, AYNT has a lot lot to say. Wait til you hear what he says through his productions, but for now, keep NASFURATU on repeat for awhile. I have had it on repeat for the last 2 weeks and it is a work of honest art, worthy of your support. He has it up on Bandcamp for you to name your price and drop a donation. Once you hear it through once you will see that this is quality work, worth your $10 or more. ANT doesnt do it for the money though, he is just happy that you get to enjoy the creation he lost so much sleep over.
Nicholas Craven & Boldy James ”Fair Exchange No Robbery”
Written by: Presha
Detroit emcee Boldy James and Montreal producer Nicholas Craven connect for another collaborative project. Fresh off dropping the singles ”Death & Taxes” in July and ”Power Nap” in August, the duo keep it consistent with Craven’s soulful designs and Boldy’s true crime narrative. ”Fair Exchange No Robbery” consists of ten tracks with only one feature from Gue Wop on ”0 tre 9,” a welcome home from prison track. The minimal features allow Boldy James and Nicholas Craven’s chemistry to remain in the spot light. From ”Straight and Tall,” the opening track where Boldy gives us his ”memoirs of an orphan,” to the closer ”Power Nap,” we get an unabashed Boldy calmly instructing us on street codes and criminology. The entire album ties together with an ongoing phone conversation between Boldy and his brother in the bing. The creative decision to include this conversation throughout the project is a testament to Boldy’s character whereas his gesture has the power to embolden his brother with hope during hard times. Besides enjoying Boldy’s effortless flow, I enjoyed hearing their bond most. It would be too easy to chalk up the inclusion of these conversations to an attempt by Boldy to bolster his street cred. I saw the exchange as a way for him to remain grounded and as a way to keep his brother focused on freedom. And something tells me from the accuracy of Boldy’s reflections that street credibility isn’t something he’s really worried about.
SANDCHO – ANCIENT ARRANGEMENT
Everyone take a seat, pull down your safety harness, and please keep your arms, legs, and sanity inside the ride at all times. A couple of months ago we had a blast reporting on DEF JUX Production Alumni SANDCHO’s last project “OLD HEADS AT THE DINER”. Señor SANDCHO returns this Oct with another funhouse voyage into this Temple an Instrumental album titled “ANCIENT ARRANGEMENT”. On “WE GO NOW” SANDCHO pulls you into the Hallowed Temple on a track laid with Seductive Synths and Organ arrangments, woven through with hints of Electric guitar and warped vocal sample scratches begging Pharaoh to “let my people go”. However, its SANDCHO who holds the reigns now. A STRANGE PLACE is a surprisingly upbeat and good vibe inducer with its sped-up break loop laying the foundation for a host of instruments that slowly make an appearance at the party and add their own life to the function. BALLAD OF 18 RABBIT transports me to a hot desert under a baking sun where I am faced with the decision to either look for an oasis or sit here eating peyote off of this cactus all day. STONECUTTER TECHNOLOGY sounds like it was created in a back alley in the world of DELTRON 3030. I great blend of SteamPunk industrial and jazz flavors. JOY OF CHOP seems to be a misnomer for this beat as it induces more dread than joy at its onset, but as it evolves through its Nine Inch Nails Goth Electro soil, you can see the Mechanical rose start to bud out of the ground, giving a glimmer of hope. A Chop of Joy. This gives way to the Robo Romantic LOVE + TIME (Jooooooooiiiint). I would love to hear this joint spun by my favorite DJs or at a Sushi Restaurant, or on the Beach with something cool in my hand. Someone beautiful by my side. LOVE + TIME is just that vibe. My second favorite joint on the project must be PRIESTLY BLESSINGS FOR THE LONELY, with its Reggae bounce, and the reworking of the classic WU sample from TEARZ. The coaster starts to slow down for disembarkment on HEADSHRINKER, but just when you think the ride is over, SAND shoots you off again with WAR DANCE, a single every B BOY Community DJ needs in their arsenal. SANDCHO masterfully layers classic breaks together in s seamless break beat full of BBOY History.
ANCIENT ARRANGEMENT is another great experience from a producer who is solidifying his name solely on the merit of HIS own creations, not Emcee So and So bringing shine to his beats. He is creating music with its own voice, its own message, its own built-in loops, corkscrews, rises and drops to make the listen a complete experience. As the sample on WAR DANCE says, “We Had Fun”.
Take the ride on ANCIENT ARRANGEMENTS yourselves and let us know what rooms were your favorites.
JFLIZ x SKINNY BONEZ THA GODFATHA –
Bean Town spitter JFLIZ & Neatherland Production Plug SKINNY BONEZ THE GODFATHA told you they didn’t want your flowers last month with the 1st release off their new colab project. Now they slap you with the full 5 Finger Ep titled “NO FLOWERS NECESSARY”.
JFLIZ has become proficient with his EP construction, making the most out of the 5 to 7 track releases he’s been putting out with consistency. On NO FLOWERS He flexes his Bragadocio Pen (AMERICAN NINJA, THE LATE PUSH w/ P RO adding the slime on the hook); gets his toxic masculinity on with G FAM BLACK while repping the whole Mass Map (508 to 781); dabbles in some story telling with an Immortal Technique level plot twist (SLASHER FLICK), and He gets Vulnerable and Real with M DOC DIEGO on my personal favorite joint, the lead single DON’T NEED YOUR FLOWERS.
Solid production all the way through from SKINNY BONES, a Beatsmith who has his beats banging throughout multiple countries and is becoming a staple in the U.S. Underground. My only critique would be on JFLIZs pen. With the amount of material he has been dropping its easy to fall into repetitive paterns, cadences, and even recycling some phrases. As a Fan and Friend of JFLIZ, I’d like to see some growth. Something New and refreshing that Is still all JFLIZ. This is not at all casting shade on the album. He just told me he didn’t want the Flowers, so I figured he would appreciate some honest critique.
That’s the kind of shit that makes real Emcees level up.
Symba X DJ Drama ”Results Take Time”
Written by: Presha
”…You my homie; you my dawg/ I knew you was mine before we even got involved/ Put you in the front seat of that Benz to show you off/ took you out ya loft/ You got an LLC instead of Louis V to floss….” (From: Soul Ties)
My queen is an entrepreneur and a visionary. Her heart is gold. Her beauty–undeniable. And yet she chose a relationship with me, a convict. While the circumstances aren’t ideal, we find creative ways to express ourselves and strengthen our connection, but it’s not easy. No matter how hard we try, the distance and lack of physical presence is painful. Words have their limits, and couples sometimes need to draw from each other’s physical energy to feel safe and find calm in chaotic moments. During a recent bout of chaos, she found herself overwhelmed and in need of my calming energy. In that moment, it wasn’t so much about what was there, but what wasn’t there, and I felt helpless. The following day she saw a Bible scripture which referred to a farmer planting seeds after an early rain in the fall and reaping the grain after a late rain in the spring. (Mark 4:28) The message: Be patient. At the same time she shared this message with me, I happened to be listening to the first track off Symba’s new mixtape with DJ Drama, appropriately titled ”Results Take Time,” and God’s message was clear. Needless to say, Symba now had my undivided attention.
”…You gotta believe in you before people believe it first/ You never put in the work and you’ll never know what it’s worth….” (From: Overnight)
From his high school years, where he found his voice, to signing a deal with Columbia Records that soured, Symba is no stranger to the time value of persistence. The Bay Area emcee, now signed with Atlantic Records, teams up with DJ Drama, who is also a student from the school of hustle and dedication. Let’s not ever forget that Drama had over 80,000 mixtapes, 4 vehicles, and recording equipment seized by the Fulton County pigs and was never found guilty of any wrong doing. Symba and DJ Drama’s collaboration offers sixteen tracks that motivate and inspire. With the exception of two tracks that kill the positive momentum of their project (”No Sleep” and ”Pop Out”), ”Results Take Time” has a consistent theme of hard work, sacrifice, faith, and perseverance. ”Overnight” teaches us that success doesn’t come over night. ”Never Change” speaks on remaining real no matter the circumstances. ”Never End Up Broke” tells us that ”…money can’t buy back time.” And on ”GOAT” Symba doesn’t just offer a self-aggrandizing argument for his greatness, he suggests that we’re all the GOAT in our own ways. Because of where I’m at mentally and spiritually at the moment, ”Blessings” and ”Better Days” moved me most. In ”Better Days” Symba spits, ”…Nothing happens over night/ Everything in life requires a sacrifice/ Time’s the only thing that doesn’t come with a price/ You can’t make it to the top by having a fear of heights….” Indeed nothing happens over night. We must put in the work. My queen and I understand the ”Sacrifices” involved, and soon she and I will be able to reap the results. We will always ”Find a Way.” We will thank God for our ”Blessings.” We will build ”Soul Ties.” And we will remain focused on the ”Better Days” ahead.