For some people, this isn’t just a classic Kanye quote, it’s a one-bar summation of their entire struggle. Yeah, Kanye fans can get dramatic like that. Still, it remains a clever Kanye-ism – part almost-dickish frankness, part humor – that probably rings true for every upcoming emcee who tried to break through afterward. In the case of Richmond, California’s Locksmith, the line takes on a cruelly ironic layer: the lockmith can’t break through.
Seemingly conceived as another vault-clearing release of false starts and errant tracks, The Green Box continues the heavy everyday pathos of his previous tape, Labyrinth, but adds on the palpable frustrations of his apparent career limbo. The Green Box‘s opening track, “Everything”, explicitly addresses the situations surrounding its release, touching on Lock’s understandable confusion that a technically gifted rapper with both a SkiBeats association and West Coast vet pedigree would languish on the shelf without much sign of momentum. The funny thing is, The Green Box isn’t just a clearinghouse for Locksmith’s most recent stabs at an official debut, but a persuasive argument for his overlooked strengths as a rapper. (more…)
They say “battle rappers can’t make [good] music.” There was a time that it was hard to argue against that, but of late there have been lots of underground releases striving to challenge the stereotype. Granted, not every album, EP, or mixtape is going to upset the DatPiff rankings in terms of quality and consistency, but the written acapella era is rich with battlers dropping quality singles and videos at a rapid pace. That’s where “While You Were Sleeping” comes in, compiling some of the most notable music video releases from independent battle rappers and RapMusic emcees for your easy consumption.
Oun-P‘s got a serious hustle. Many artists threaten to, but few actually follow through on the threat to record an album’s worth of videos. Impressive still is the fact that the Bronx native is filming original clips for mixtape style beatjacks, suggesting a high amount of dedication and investment for such low-stakes. Ya gotta give him his due, though; for an indie rapper straight out the Bronx, he’s kept a steady pace, churning out new clips almost bi-weekly. He’s even given Mysonne’s weekly drops a run for their money, dropping two videos themed around classic songs by beefing rappers. The first of which is an endearingly no-nonsense visual for “Sky’s The Limit/Keep You Head Up”. Rapping conversationally to an at-risk youth in a way that’s actually real instead of “real”, Oun-P explains the traps of the hood and taking the right paths in a way that isn’t patronizing or corny, producing a rare example of legitimately affecting head nod material. (more…)
Either Jae Millz has seriously either resigned himself to a reliable mixtape feature or set the stage for his official solo debut. How else to explain Property of Potentness 2, Millz’ second mixtape release this year alone, and the latest in a staggering DatPiff-hosted back catalog of free projects.
For most rappers, especially in an age where we can’t even be bothered to peep free music, dropping an entirely new release a mere three months after your last one can be a hard sell. Just what else do you have to offer that you haven’t already shown? Interestingly, for Jae Millz, this means a full-fledged, luxurious weed rap tape in the vein of Curren$y and “International Jones”-era Fiend. Like Fiend, the change in production style and pace actually suits Millz to a tee, with the Young Money vet’s switch from prototypical Harlem punchline mixtape material to hazy strains of luxury rap. (more…)
The Beeshine is a refreshingly unique endeavor, offering a more positive and introspective take on rap culture than the thirsty beef-mongering and glorified tabloid reporting that normally dominates web coverage. Whether obscure, well-known, profound or hilarious, The Beeshine’s features definitely have something for every sort of rap fan.
The Beatnuts. Now if you’re a brew-sippin’, blunt-rollin’, crate-diggin’ epitome of a head, that name speaks volumes to you. Not only were JuJu and Psycho Les eclectic on the boards, but they also managed to capture the rare perfect balance of humor, cool, and toughness that is arguably the apex of “hip hop”. And yes, the scare quotes are intentional; though hip-hop as a genre can be anything and everything, hip hop as an idea is a very specific confluence of influences, feels, and eras. I’m talking about dudes like Mr. MFN Exquire, MF Doom, EL-P, early Mos Def, and early De Soul who stumbled onto this magical, alchemical way to be creative and weird yet still channel the vibe of rap’s “Wild Style” days. In a word, “fresh”. A glut amount of independent releases from Fondle ‘Em, Stones Throw, Rhymesayers, Def Jux, and more have aimed and/or succeeded in replicating that rare feel, but The Beatnuts were some of the all-time greats at making rap that purists, backpackers, nerds, and thugs alike could get into (it’s no coincidence that their last few videos saw frequent rotation on BET during RapCity’s heyday).
On this week’s edition of The Beeshine, Psyche Les of The Beatnuts discusses what inspired him to get into rap, his first rap memories, personal challenges, dreams, and the key to The Beatnuts’ unique sound.
Check out this week’s candid sit-down above, and be sure to subscribe to The Beeshine for more in-depth interviews with rap’s best.
RM Artist Spotlight is a regular series that features notable artists from our RapMusic.com community. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for an upcoming spotlight feature, please send a private message to Lucy/admin support with the subject line “RM Artist Spotlight nomination”.
What is it about good weather that produces such laid back personalities? Coming straight out of Fort Lauderdale, 24-year-old emcee/producer Hardkore captures the breezy calm of summer beach nights well, with tracks that approach the relaxed haze of cloud rap without the aimless meandering of some of the style’s adherents.
Considering homie’s history, the focus makes perfect sense. According to Hardkore, “I would always have a composition book on me and just write rhymes during class because I got so bored…Before you know it, my friends started asking me to spit my rhymes for them, and a few years later, I started recording songs and taking things more seriously.” Honing his craft since fourth grade, Hardkore further refined his talents in Florida’s vaunted freestyle battle scene during its mid-00s heyday, talents that’ll be on full display on his upcoming solo project, Bells in Lauderdale. What does Hardkore say to expect from his material? “If you enjoy feel good and inspirational music about the every day struggle, high grade trees, and partying with the ones you love, then Hardkore should be on your iPod, a.s.a.p.”
Couldn’t have said it any better myself.