Czarface - Every Hero Needs A Villain (Review)

Czarface - Every Hero Needs A Villain (Review)

"Every Hero Needs A Villain" is the sophomore release from legendary Wu-Tang emcee Inspectah Deck and veteran rap duo 7L and Esoteric. The album features guest appearances from Method Man, GZA, Large Professor, Juju (of The Beatnuts), MF Doom, Meyhem Lauren and R.A. The Rugged Man and is fully produced by 7L and Spada4. It is set to be released on June 16, 2015 via Brick Records and Fly Casual Creative. Peep the review below.

Killah Priest - Planet of the Gods (Review)

Killah Priest - Planet of the Gods

"Planet of the Gods" is the latest album from Wu-Tang Clan affiliate and Sunz of Man member Killah Priest. The album is fully produced by Dutch production crew Godz Wrath (Jordan River Banks, Black Marvel and Ciph Barker) with co-production from Kombo, Def Buurmen and Basrabas. It is set to be released on June 15, 2015 via Proverb Records.

Ghostface Killah and BadBadNotGood - Sour Soul (Review)

Ghostface Killah and BadBadNotGood - Sour Soul (Review)

"Sour Soul" is a collaborative album between Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah and Canadian hip-hop band BadBadNotGood. The album features guest appearances from Danny Brown, Elzhi, MF DOOM and Tree, with all songs being produced by Frank Dukes and BadBadNotGood themselves. It is set to be released on February 24, 2015 via Lex Records.

Flip - Reflections (Album)

Flip - Reflections (Album)

Austrian hip-hop producer Flip just released his album "Reflections" on February 17th and it's really good. The album features guest appearances from AG (of DITC), EDO. G, Killah Priest, Guilty Simpson, Kev Brown, LMNO, Tragic Allies and many others with all production (and some of the scratching as well) being handled by Flip himself. I'm not quite sure what my favorite track is just yet, but "Dreaming" with AG is definitely getting a lot of play and has been since the video dropped. Anyways, make sure you peep the album stream below then head on over iTunes and cop the full album if you are feelin' it.



J-Live - Red & The Kid (Single)

J-Live - Red & The Kid (Single)

Hot on the heels of his last single "I Just Don't", New York veteran emcee J-Live returns with the third single from his upcoming album "His Own Self", which is set to drop on March 17, 2015 and is currently available for preorder over on his Bandcamp site. The song is called "Red & The Kid" and it's a banger, with J-Live rapping about how he learned to DJ as well as about the DJ's that inspired him over an old school instrumental that has my head nodding like crazy. "His Own Self" is shaping up to be crazy. Peep the single below.



The Jazz Jousters - Locations: Germany (Instrumental Album)

The Jazz Jousters - Locations: Germany (Instrumental Album)

Hip-hop production crew The Jazz Jousters return with the latest entry in their "Locations" compilation series, this time with all of the instrumentals using German jazz samples. As usual, the production is really dope and kept me nodding my head the entire time. After peeping the project, make sure to check out their Italy, Japan and Brazil tribute albums as well, all of which dropped last year and are just as nice as this entry. Next up: Nigeria.



Injury Reserve - Whatever Dude (Video)

Injury Reserve - Whatever Dude (Video)

Hip-hop trio Injury Reserve (consisting of emcees Ritchie with a T and Stepa J Groggs along with producer Parker Corey) are back yet again, this time with some visuals for their track "Whatever Dude". The song is the first single from their upcoming full length project, "Live From The Dentist Office" and it's real dope. Make sure to also check out the groups debut EP "Cooler Colors" if you are diggin the video below.



The AbSoulJah - When the Moon Shines... (Review)

The AbSoulJah - When the Moon Shines... (Review)

"When the Moon Shines..." is the latest album from Queens, NY hip-hop artist The AbSoulJah. The album features no guest appearances, but does feature production from Profound, B-Sun and I.N.C.H. It was released on January 23, 2015 via Team Thoro Music and comes limited bonus disc with the purchase of AbSoulJah's "Dim The Light" album, which was one of my top albums of 2014.

J-Live - I Just Don't (Single)

J-Live - I Just Don't (Single)

J-Live comes through with his latest single "I Just Don't", which finds the veteran New York rapper letting us know that he just "doesn't give a fuck" over a hypnotic self-produced instrumental. The beat is dope, but its the rhymes and delivery from J-Live that really stand out to me about this song. Anyways, this cut is the second release from J-Live's upcoming album "His Own Self", which is set to drop on March 17, 2015 and is currently available for preorder over on his Bandcamp site.



Stoneface ft. Freeway - Calico Audio (Video)

Stoneface ft. Freeway - Calico Audio (Video)

Philly-based rapper Stoneface just released a video for his track "Calico Audio", which is the first single from his upcoming solo album "The Stone Age". The song was released a few weeks back and got a lot of play from me back when it dropped, but now we've got some visuals to go along with the music. As far as the song goes, the track features the Gemstarr Regime Records emcee linking up with Philly's own Freeway over a dope instrumental from BP. Peep it below and make sure to check out "The Stone Age" when it drops later this year.



The Four Owls - Natural Order (Review)

The Four Owls - Natural Order (Review)

"Natural Order" is the second album from UK hip-hop group The Four Owls (consisting of emcees Fliptrix, Leaf Dog, Verb T and BVA). The album features guest appearances from Smellington Piff, Dirty Dike and Jam Bazter as well as production from DJ Premier, but mostly every track is produced by Leaf Dog himself. It is set to be released on February 12, 2015 via High Focus Records.

Lifetime & S.I. - From The Hart (Album)

Lifetime & S.I. - From The Hart (Album)

"From The Hart" is the debut album from Long Island, NY duo L.I.F.E.T.I.M.E. & S.I. The album features guest appearances from Blaq Poet, Cyrus Malachi, Sha Stimuli, Phoenix Da Icefire and D Fabs and is produced entirely by UK hip-hop producer Endemic Emerald. Endemic never disappoints on the production tip and he surely doesn't here, coming through with a ton of head nodding instrumentals centered around that "golden era" sound. As far as the rhymes go, the album is just as nice as the production, with L.I.F.E.T.I.M.E. and S.I. both kicking some heartfelt and personal rhymes while touching on a variety of topics throughout the projects 12 tracks. Peep the album below.



Merc Versus - Magnetic (Mixtape)

Merc Versus - Magnetic (Mixtape)

Merc Versus just released his free 21-track "Magnetic" mixtape over on DatPiff a few days ago after months of dropping singles as part of his #MonthlyMagnetic series. The mixtape is really nice and features guest appearances from Chief Kamachi, Sleep Sinatra, Verbal Godz and others as well as production from Lord Chain, Blue Sky Black Death, Ayatollah, Large Professor and many others. Check it out below.



ChillxWill feat. BriskInThehouse - "911 (Platoon Remix)

ChillxWill feat. BriskInThehouse - "911 (Platoon Remix)

ChillxWill is an emcee hailing from Tacoma, Washington who just dropped his crazy third solo album, "Almighty", earlier today on Ill Adrenaline Records. The album is banging and finds ChillxWill rhyming about a variety of topics over head-nodding boom-bap instrumentals that sound like they came straight out of the 90's. In order to celebrate the albums release, Ill Adrenaline decided to drop an exclusive CD/cassette bonus track from the album in the form of a remix for the song "911". The original version is one of my favorite songs on the entire album , but this remix by BreakerHUS is pretty nice as well. Check out the remix (in addition to the video for the original) below and then head on over to iTunes to cop the full album.





MindsOne x DJ Iron - A Day In The Life (Single)

MindsOne x DJ Iron - A Day In The Life (Single)

KON Sci and Tronic (better known as MindsOne) come through with the first single from their collaborative EP with Belgian hip-hop producer DJ Iron. The song is called "A Day In The Life" and it's real dope, with MindsOne doing their thing over a head-nodding DJ Iron production. Be on the lookout for the full EP, "Phaseology", which is set to drop sometime this spring. For now, however, you can preorder the limited edition vinyl of "A Day In The Life" over on the groups Bandcamp site.



Allen Poe x Jay Elly - Rap Related (Album)

Allen Poe x Jay Elly - Rap Related (Album)

"Rap Related" is a collaborative EP from Kentucky rapper Allen Poe and Lexington emcee Jay Elly that just dropped yesterday over on the groups Soundcloud page. The project is dope and features Allen Poe and Jay Elly rhyming over production from The Audible Doctor, DJ Wellblended and Balloonz. Peep it below.



Flip - Without Warning (feat. Elzhi and Phat Kat) (Video)

Flip - Without Warning (feat. Elzhi and Phat Kat) (Video)

"Without Warning" is the second single from Austrian hip-hop producer Flip's upcoming album "Reflections". The track features veteran rappers Elzhi and Phat Kat spitting some boastful rhymes over a looped up vocal sample that gives the song its name. "Reflections" is set to drop on February 17th via Ill Adrenaline Records and will feature guest appearances from Elzhi, Phat Kat, EDO. G, Killah Priest, Guilty Simpson, Kev Brown, LMNO, Tragic Allies, and many more.



EK - Invincible (Single)

EK - Invincible (Single)

"Invincible" is the latest track from Boston rapper Daniel "EK" Ibeh and is the latest entry in his bi-weekly song series that is leading up to the release of his "Hands of Time" EP. The lyrics on here are very positive and inspiring, with EK slowing down his flow and kicking some motivational rhymes over a sort of spacey instrumental from Bueffard Mallary. Very dope. Peep it below.



Fab Soares - Nothing But Rhymes (Album)

Fab Soares - Nothing But Rhymes (Album)

Fab Soares just dropped his "Nothing But Rhymes" EP back on January 12, 2015 and it's really dope. I gave the EP a good listen today and I'm feelin' every track on here, with the London rapper spitting fire over a variety of classic instrumentals that should definitely get you nodding your head. Don't sleep on this one folks.



C.Shreve the Professor - Legendary (feat. Jrusalam)

C.Shreve the Professor - Legendary (feat. Jrusalam)

"Legendary" is the latest single from C.Shreve the Professor and finds the North Carolina rapper linking up with Raleigh, NC emcee Jrusalam over a head nodding NosmoKing production. The song has a playful vibe to it, with both emcees just "dropping bars with Legendary aspirations in mind". Peep it below and also make sure to check out C.Shreve's dope "Summer Ransom" project that dropped last year if you like what you hear.



Coalmine Records - Remineded: A Collection of New and Old Remixes (Review)

Coalmine Records - Reminded: A Collection of New and Old Remixes (Review)

"Remineded: A Collection of New and Old Remixes" is the latest album from Brooklyn based hip-hop label Coalmine Records. The album is a remix compilation project that consists the labels favorite remixes (new and old) from artists such as Heltah Skeltah, El Da Sensei, Skyzoo, Blu and others and featuring production from Large Professor, Audible Doctor, Diamond D, Cookin' Soul and others. It was released on January 20, 2015 via Coalmine Records.

I.Am.Tru.Starr - Eat.Pray.Dilla EP

I.Am.Tru.Starr - Eat.Pray.Dilla EP

I.Am.Tru.Starr is an independent hip-hop artist hailing from Rochester, NY who dropped a crazy EP, "Eat.Pray.Dilla", back in November of 2014. The EP is the first release from I.Am.Tru.Starr and his One.Nation.Under.Art collective and was inspired by the late, great J. Dilla himself. I gave the project a listen earlier today and was really liking what I heard, which is not surprising since the EP has earned support from Toney Smith, Ma Dukes and The J Dilla foundation. Peep it below and then make sure to send any donations via PayPayl to The J Dilla Foundation at yanceymaureen@yahoo.com.



Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$ (Album Review)

Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$ (Review)

"B4.DA.$$" is the debut studio album from Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$. The album features guest appearances from BJ The Chicago Kid, Chronixx, Maverick Sabre, Dymeond Lewis, Raury and others as well as production from Statik Selektah, DJ Premier, J Dilla, The Roots, Kirk Knight, Chuck Strangers and others. It is set to be released on January 20, 2015 via Cinematic Music Group / Pro Era.

Lone Ninja - Hostile Territory (feat. 9th Prince of Killarmy) (Single)

Lone Ninja - Hostile Territory (feat. 9th Prince of Killarmy) (Single)

Brooklyn's own Lone Ninja just dropped the first leak from his upcoming 7th album that is due out later this year. The track is called "Hostile Territory" and finds the Twin Perils emcee teaming up with Killarmy/Wu-Tang affiliate 9th Prince over a Mir The Bloody production full of frantic pianos and head nodding drums. It's dope to hear these two emcees together on a track since both have a similar voice and style, a similarity that I mentioned in my review of Lone Ninja's extremely dope "Trapdoors and Secret Passageways" album. Anyways, peep the song below and be on the lookout that the full album when it drops later this year.



The Jazz Jousters - Locations: Italy (Instrumental Album)


Hip-hop production crew The Jazz Jousters are back with the latest entry in their "Locations" compilation series, this time with the focus being on sampling the music of Italy and turning it into crazy hip-hop instrumentals. This edition dropped back on December 20, 2014 and is the third entry in the series, following their Japan and Brazil tribute albums that dropped earlier in 2014. As should be expected by now, the production is very smooth and jazzy and is sure to keep your head nodding the entire time. Peep it below.



The Savage and J-Heat - Back To The Essence (Review)

The Savage and J-Heat - The Essence (Review)

"Back To The Essence" is the followup to The Savage and J-Heat's "The Essence" EP that dropped back in 2013. The album features some additional vocals from Wicked Chimpanzee and is fully produced by The Savage himself (with a few co-production credits from J-Heat). It was released on December 25, 2014 over on the duo's Bandcamp page.

OSHUN - buildestroy (Single)


OSHUN are back again, this time with their latest single "buildestroy". The song is produced by Sifu and was released to accompany their Sir Noah Bility digital photo book, which can be viewed on the duo's Tumblr page. Dope shit. Peep the song below and then make sure to check out their "AFAHYE" EP that dropped last year and got quite a lot of play from me.



Interview with DUS and Eloh Kush

DUS and Eloh Kush

So I'm going to post up something a little different than the norm for "The Essence of Rap and Hip-Hop" in the form of an interview I conducted with two New Jersey based hip-hop artists, DUS and Eloh Kush. As you all know, I mainly focus on writing reviews and such on this site, but the opportunity presented itself to get the word out about these two artists and I just couldn't pass that up. So, without further ado, check out the interview below.

Ed Rowe x Sleep Sinatra x Concept - Concentrated Forces (Album)

Ed Rowe x Sleep Sinatra x Concept - Concentrated Forces (Album)

"Concentrated Forces" is a collaborative EP between Atlanta word-smith Ed Rowe, Nebraska rapper Sleep Sinatra and New Zealand based hip-hop producer Concept that dropped back on December 20, 2014 via Essenchill Records. I gave the project a good listen earlier today and it's really nice, with both Ed Rowe and Sleep Sinatra touching on a variety of topics over beautiful, boom-bap inspired production from Concept. The beats are soulful and the rhymes are potent, with some tracks featuring socially conscious rhymes while others find Ed Rowe and Sleep Sinatra just straight spitting. The only bad thing about the EP is that it's just so short, featuring only five full tracks and a quick instrumental outro from Concept that just left me wanting more. Hopefully these guys collaborate more in the future since I think I've had "Celestial" on repeat all day. Anyways, count this as yet another strong release from Essenchill Records. Peep it below.



Rome Cee - Signs (Video) and Glimpse (EP)

Rome Cee - Glimpse EP

Baltimore rapper Rome Cee comes through with a video for his track "Signs", which is a cut off of his "Glimpse" EP that dropped back in December. Both the song and the full EP are really dope, with Rome Cee getting real personal and touching on some topics that are very relevant in the world today over some beautiful production. "Glimpse" features production from E. Hill, Infinite99 Beats, God Sense and others as well as a guest appearance from K. Matth on "Signs". Peep the video, as well as the full EP, below. Don't sleep.





C.Shreve the Professor - Phoenix (Single)

C.Shreve the Professor - Phoenix (Single)

North Carolina's C.Shreve The Professor just dropped his latest track, titled "Phoenix", yesterday and it's pretty dope. The song finds the Free The Optimus rapper kicking some socially conscious rhymes about the bullshit going on in the world today over a head nodding Kevobeats production.

"They divide us til we fall, but we riders for the cause / So we rise together til the blood spilled pays the cost / For that freedom that you claim, code word game by any other name.."
Nice. Peep it below. Also make sure to check out the Free The Optimus website if you like what you hear.



Ethan Bence - Different Levels EP

Ethan Bence - Different Levels EP

Pittsburgh rapper Ethan Bence just dropped his debut EP "Different Levels" earlier today and it's real nice. The EP finds the 19 year old emcee providing his own take on current songs such as Kendrick Lamar's "The Recipe" and "Backseat Freestyle" as well as older classics like Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones" (which is probably my favorite remix on here). Lyrically the project is pretty good as well, with Ethan spitting some humorous bars and changing up his flow throughout each of the EP's eight tracks. According to the projects writeup -
"The title of the EP comes from the structure and the nature of the songs, and several other meanings come from the songs themselves. The subtle wordplay and metaphors will challenge the listener, making for an interactive experience, and the listener will be able to find a new meaning each time."
Dope shit. Peep the full EP below.



Hex One and 5th Element - Hologramz (Review)

Hex One and 5th Element - Hologramz (Review)

"Hologramz" is a collaborative album between Epidemic's Hex One and Las Vegas based hip-hop producer 5th Element. The album features guest appearances from Tek-nition, Ruste Juxx, Planet Asia, Prince Po, Reks, Reef The Lost Cauze and others and is fully produced by 5th Element himself. It was released on December 22, 2014 via Mic Theory Records.

Token - Till It's Gone (Remix)

Token - Till It's Gone (Remix)

Salem, MA rapper Token is back again, this time with the 16 year old emcee spitting his ass off over Yelawolf''s "Till It's Gone" instrumental. If you haven't heard of this kid before, I suggest you check him out. Peep the video, as well as a Bandcamp link to download the full song, below.





Merc Versus - Magnetic (Single)

Merc Versus - Magnetic (Single)

Merc Versus returns with the final installment in his #MonthlyMagnetic series with the title track of his upcoming mixtape "Magnetic". The song might just be my favorite track of the entire series, with the Indiana-based rapper kicking some knowledge over a dreamy Lord Chain produced instrumental. If you like what you hear, make sure to check out some of the other #MonthlyMagnetic songs such as "Hunger Games", "This World Don't Love Me" and  "The Program" (which was produced by Blue Sky Black Death).