Los Angeles indie rapper Dom Kennedy is the closest thing to an easy listening rapper in hip-hop. Dom is currently promoting his third studio album, including a leading appearance at Trillectro this weekend. By Dom Kennedy is 11 tracks of Dom’s smooth voice over perfectly slow, soft, melodic, and deliberate beats. Three songs include production credit from frequent Rhymesayers Entertainment collaborator Jake One. It’s a quality, relaxing album and deserves a listen. A common complaint about rap music is that it’s too angry or aggressive. I don’t know if Dom Kennedy has an angry or aggressive bone in his body, and that’s reflected in his music. There is also very little cussing in his music but even when Dom does cuss, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. By Dom Kennedy can be streamed here or purchased here. The highlight of the album is “Lemonade“, an ode to Dom’s son, relaxing, reminiscing, and thinking about the future. “Lemonade” can be streamed below.
Memphis-native Don Trip has been making a name for himself in underground hip-hop for a number of years, however his most notable contributions to the genre have come from his Step Brothers collaborations with fellow Tennessean Starlito. Don Trip had one noticeable blip on the radar back in 2011 but ultimately has not been able to get much attention beyond that. I would entirely attribute that to how brutally honest and baggage-filled his music has always been. Don Trip’s newest offering, God Speed, continues to match the criteria. It’s a great album from beginning to end, including the song “Medicine“, a somber and moving tale about getting caught being unfaithful. It may also be the most beautiful hip-hop song of 2015. God Speed can be picked up on iTunes or Google Play, and “Medicine” can be heard below.
Since her 2010 mixtape debut, Snow Tha Product has consistently proven herself to be one of the best rappers of the most recent era in hip-hop. She even gets my vote for the best active female rapper, without a doubt. Snow Tha Product’s most recent outing, The Rest Comes Later, is more of the consistency we’re used to from her: solid beats, incredible delivery, thought provoking song content, and the usual smattering of English/Spanglish/Spanish stemming from her Mexican-American upbringing in San Diego. She kicks off “The Rest Comes Later tour” next week, and the last leg of the tour has her coming through the Parish in Austin on August 14th. The Rest Comes Later can be streamed or downloaded for free via DatPiff. The video for her lead single on the mixtape “Bet That I Will” is below.
Dipset member Jim Jones continues his Vampire Life series with his new mixtape Miami Vampin. Jim Jones delivers his usual blend of gritty and humorous lyrics over hard hitting beats, now moving his night life–Vampire Life–to a Miami backdrop. The Vampire Life series has also turned into a clothing line and a soda (not available in Austin, but can be ordered online). Something new to Jim Jones’ music with this mixtape is the use of Auto-Tune. I am not a big fan of Auto-Tune but fortunately the mixtape is not bogged down by it. The mixtape can be downloaded or streamed for free from DatPiff. The opening track can be streamed below.
Bronx-natives and 20 year hip-hop veterans Camp Lo have continued their trend of putting out an album every four to five years with their newest release, Ragtime Hightimes. Camp Lo knocked their debut album Uptown Saturday Night out of the park in 1997, and while the quality of their music has remained the same, they have never achieved as much success. Anyone familiar with Camp Lo will remember them most for their hit single “Luchini/This Is It” which samples Dynasty’s “Adventurs In Music Land“. Some of their noteworthy singles since then include 2002’s “Glow” and 2008’s “Lumdi“. For Ragtime Hightimes, Camp Lo returned to working with frequent collaborator, famed hip-hop producer Ski. The video for one of Camp Lo’s singles off their newest album is below.
Love me some Ghostly International. We’ve stepped up hip hop coverage with Tactic joining the team. I traditionally find the zeros and ones when Nate doesn’t beat me to it (or I hate looking at music related stuff after SxSW photo processing benders). This track will be the closer to Ghostly Swim 2, available to sample and pre-order now; it is a fourteen track compilation featuring the likes of Shigeto, Heathered Pearls and CFCF. Galcher Lustwerk’s “In The Place” takes a beautiful sonic landscape and layers party rhymes delivered in a monotone smoothness that lets you just focus on the cadence with words disappearing or smile as the juxtapostion of being about it is delivered over the sonic landscape.
In it to win it. Check out a few other tracks on Ghostly Swim 2 here.
Musically eclectic California rapper Antwon released a couple new songs last month in anticipation of his soon-to-be-released EP Double Ecstasy. One of those songs, “Jacuzzi”, is produced by and features Lushlife, which blends well with Antwon’s sound. “Jacuzzi” can be streamed below. Antwon also has a lengthy catalog of similar sounding music available to stream or buy via his Bandcamp page.
Big Sean’s album Dark Sky Paradise is the best hip-hop album of 2015 so far. If you haven’t checked it out you’re doing yourself a disservice. Big Sean doesn’t get as much lyrical attention as some of his contemporaries but he is a definitive artist and deserves more attention than he gets, though he gets plenty. Ultimately, this is not a plug for that his newest album. Big Sean’s song “One Man Can Change The World” featuring Kanye West and John Legend from Dark Sky Paradise is an amazing song. Largely based on the teachings of his grandmother growing up, Big Sean has crafted a beautiful tribute to his grandmother, which even includes a brief interaction between the two. Sadly, his grandmother died during the production process so she never got to hear the final product. It’s heartfelt all the same.
Fresno, CA rapper Fashawn’s 2009 independently released debut album, Boy Meets World, received almost universal critical acclaim with heavy focus on his age at the time–21–and the fact that someone so young could articulate the struggle so well. Many drew comparisons to hip-hop royalty Nas and the fact that Nas was 21 when he released his near perfect hip-hop classic Illmatic. Over the past six years Fashawn has released a handful of mixtapes, a couple collaborative albums, and an EP, but his latest release, The Ecology, shows that Fashawn’s debut was not just a flash in the pan. Nas himself has taken a liking to Fashawn as Nas both appears on the album and was instrumental in signing Fashawn to independent record label Mass Appeal Records. Highlights from The Ecology include “Guess Who’s Back”, “Letter F”, “Man of the House”, and “F.T.W.” but the entire album is worth checking out. Other guest appearances on the album include Dom Kennedy, Aloe Blacc, and BJ The Chicago Kid. The Ecology can be streamed or downloaded for free via DJBooth or it can be purchased from iTunes. The video for “Guess Who’s Back is below.
Kid Cudi’s first official release since 2014’s Satellite Flight: The Journey to the Mother Moon is a song called “Love” from his forthcoming album, which he recently announced will be called Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven. Whether this will be a continuation of his Man on the Moon series has not yet been made clear. In the mean time, enjoy “Love”.