Wu-Tang Clan member and legendary hip-hop icon Raekwon is returning to SXSW again this year. While Raekwon has a lengthy discography of solo material and work with Wu-Tang Clan and its affiliates, Wu-Tang also came out with a new album at the very end of 2014 and Raekwon has a new solo album due out at the end of April, so expect to hear a mix of old and new. No dates or venues have been officially set, though Raekwon is confirmed to perform during SXSW 2015. Raekwon’s newest single off his forthcoming album features French Montana and Busta Rhymes. The song can be streamed below.
Taylor Gang’s self-proclaimed Drug Store Cowboy, Berner, is returning to Austin for SXSW 2015. Berner performed several times throughout the week at last year’s SXSW, including a free Taylor Gang showcase that featured an impromptu one and done performance by label head Wiz Khalifa. This past year Berner put out a free mixtape with Cypress Hill frontman B-Real entitled Prohibition, continuing Berner’s history of excellent taste in beats and stoner-friendly lyrics. No specific shows have been set but Berner is officially set to perform at this year’s SXSW.
Snow Tha Product is one of the most slept on rappers today and at the very least deserves a mention in the best active female rappers conversation. After her 2010 debut album Unorthodox put her on the map, Snow Tha Product has remained relevant ever since. 2014 was her biggest year yet, which included a verse on one of the 2014 BET Awards cyphers, a guest host spot on an episode of the Brilliant Idiots podcast, and her own “Fuck Your Plans” 34-city tour that kicked-off in Austin. Last year’s tour made her unable to be a part of SXSW 2014 but she is officially set to perform this year, though no dates or locations have been set. Snow Tha Product has a lengthy catalog of songs and videos that are worth listening to and watching on her YouTube channel and Soundcloud page. Her most recent mixtape Good Nights & Bad Mornings can be downloaded for free from DJ Booth.
Legendary hip-hop duo M.O.P.’s recent EP Street Certified is a return to form for a group most recently associated with a Muppets-themed viral video. The lead single from Street Certified, “187”, samples the Tears For Fears classic “Head Over Heels” and is also a throwback to the Cash Money & Marvelous 80s party anthem “Ugly People Be Quiet”. “187” is an expression of frustration from M.O.P. towards today’s state of hip-hop. The music video is also a very purposefully gritty reminder of the side of New York City where hip-hop culture and music originated.
Chicago-native King Louie, sometimes known as King L, is considered part of the Chiraq (pronounced Shy-Rack) movement in hip-hop, though he continues to put out a considerable amount of uncharacteristically Chiraq music. Most Chiraq music has loud, abrasive beats paired with loud, ultra violent, often gang-affiliated gangsta rap (think Chief Keef), but a number of King Louie’s songs are almost the complete opposite; subtle, smooth, relaxed, and slow (though he has plenty of characteristically Chiraq music). His appearance on Chance The Rapper’s brother Taylor Bennett’s single “New Chevy” was indicative of this, as well as his more recent song “Right Now”. King Louie performed at SXSW the last two years, so there’s a high possibility he’ll be in town again next month. “Right Now” can be downloaded for free via Audiomack or streamed below.
Leather Corduroys (consisting of rappers Joey Purp and KAMI) have a distinctly different sound and they are cool with giving it away for free. Their newest mixtape Seasons is more of the same, which is a good thing and worth checking out. Seasons can be streamed via their Soundcloud page or downloaded for free via LiveMixtapes. My favorite song off of Seasons is below.
I’ve been enjoying Skizzy Mars’ music for a couple years now for one solid reason: it’s just good. He’s not the type of rapper that’s going to turn heads because he has clever word play–and there are those that would argue 90% of his songs are love songs or break up songs–but his songs are almost always a total package; nice beat, smooth delivery, catchy chorus, ambiance, vibe, etc. Skizzy Mars has been teasing his The Red Balloon Project for a while and it finally came out yesterday. He will be setting off on The Red Balloon Tour at the end of February. While he will not be coming through Austin, a leg of the tour will be coming through Texas (Houston and Dallas). The Red Balloon Project can be streamed from Audiomack or downloaded from iTunes. Skizzy Mars has two older mixtapes that can be downloaded for free from DJBooth. My favorite song from The Red Balloon Project is below.
MMG rapper Wale will be headlining Emo’s this Friday, February 6. The stop will be part of Wale’s Simply Nothing Tour, promoting his upcoming fourth album, The Album About Nothing. Wale’s career-long deliberate references to the TV show Seinfeld come with whole-hearted approval from Jerry Seinfeld himself, which says a lot about Wale’s talent and artistry. While Friday’s concert will no doubt be a showcase of Wale’s upcoming album, it would be safe to assume there will also be some songs performed from his Festivus mixtape that appropriately dropped on December 23. A highlight from that mixtape is the Janet Jackson-sampled “Girls On Drugs”. Festivus can be streamed or downloaded for free via Audiomack. “Girls On Drugs” is below.
When Trinidad Jame$ first hit the scene in late 2012 with “All Gold Everything” many people in the hip-hop community labeled him a one-trick pony most likely destined to disappear as quickly as he appeared. Two and a half years and four mixtapes later he’s still around, displaying a surprising amount of depth and creativity in his music. His most recent mixtape No One Is Safe dropped January 20th. Some of the highlights include “H.O.M.E.“, a letter from Trinidad Jame$ to himself about music industry struggles, and “T Jame$ Expre$$“, a vulgar and predictable dance song over a hypnotic bass line. The mixtape can be streamed via Trinidad Jame$’s Soundcloud page or it can be downloaded for free from DatPiff.
You can always count on this lady to bring hip-hop and dance to the ATH table. This round of picks was inspired by a comment @DaveRupert made on one of my past articles, Songs That Make You Dance. He said a good follow up would be about the songs that make you rap, and here we are. These are a few of the rap songs we all love and know most of the words to. You may not know all of the lyrics, but when that chorus line approaches, dayum you’ve got it down. No matter your race, ethnicity, age or level of hip-hop knowledge, you know these songs (or at least that hook line).