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Welcome to Underground Fossils, brought to you by Dimxsk and Trylemma. The purpose of this blog is to assist in the sharing of out of print and/or rare examples of the hip hop genre. We believe that every release we post is an integral part of history and deserves to be heard by older fans as well as new seekers. We do not post or encourage the posting of anything that can be bought easily from the artist, those can be found elsewhere. Furthermore, if any artist who is featured here wishes not to share their material we will remove it immediately. Most of the rips found here were made by other people, but some of them were made by us. We are not sound engineers, so while the quality will usually be 320 kbps, they will be recorded from the source material as is. Please message us if you are an engineer and want wav files to master. Enjoy!

PS: We also want to thank all of the women and men before us who shared music in this way. Your work made our collections what they are today, and we are grateful.

Friday, December 27, 2019

UGF's Decade Wrap Up: Top 10 Albums of the Decade

So we have the last disclaimer in UGF's wrap up from me, Dimxsk! So picking my favorite albums of the decade was not easy, and I've found that familiarity really plays a role so most of these are from the earlier half of the past ten years. They are albums that I keep returning to in a world where you can easily listen to a great album that's new to you every day for years. The albums I pick tend to be melodic, folk influenced with the ability to really draw the listener into the world the artists behind the works are trying to cultivate. There are several concept albums and some real unusual works on this list. I had a lot of trouble ordering the list as well, so you can basically look at it as either top 5 or top 10 albums, with the upper and lower rankings virtually equal. Oh and a lot of you will probably not agree with it, feel free to share yours below! With that here are my favorite albums of the decade, and Merry Christmas / happy holidays / Happy New Year to all of you.

Dimxsk's List:

1. The One Man Band Broke Up by Ceschi:
I find that when it comes to Ceschi there's a split between fans who prefer his work with Factor, or his work with DJ Scientist. With only two tracks of the alleged second full length album with Scientist ever released (as Ceschi & The Raincoatman) there's no way to be sure if they could've repeated what they did with The One Man Band Broke Up. But I have to say as much as I love the Factor produced gems that came later, I find myself returning to the darker world of One Man Band more often, and I find it more compelling in a lot of ways. Not only does it feature some incredible and cinematic production ("Half Mast", "Long Live the Short Lived", "Bad Jokes") from DJ Scientist but it fits the amazing and so often dark songwriting and rapping from Ceschi. Not to mention he's managed to tie it all together in a loose storyline that became an almost visual narrative for me upon my first listen to it all the way through. My favorite aspect of the album however is the amazing folk material and interludes that really make Ceschi the musician that he is (the sweeping piano and unexpected banjo / whistling work he does on "Lament for Captain Julius" alone is worth the price of the whole album), and I absolutely love the classic rock influenced closing track "Julius' Final Song" (when he begins rapping out of nowhere at the bridge it's as effective as a David Gilmore solo for me). Nothing Ceschi's done before or since has been bad, but I feel like the soul and story of One Man Band is something that will always stand alone. That's why this album is my favorite of the decade, and why I have to keep putting Ceschi at the top of my lists. He's the best.

2. Vessel by Dark time Sunshine:
I'll keep this brief because I think I've alluded to this album now four times this month. I've mentioned before that Vessel came out around a time of great difficulty for me. I've listened to it countless times and I find that it offers both an escape from hardship and a rallying cry to face hardship head on. Onry's lyrics are often so strange on the surface, but like a dream they capture the most human elements, often simply in tone over actual words. Zavala's production takes them to a new level here, and while ANX was by no means a shabby album, Vessel holds a special place in my heart for introducing me to the duo and showing me just how awesome Onry can be.

3. The Volume in the Ground by Adeem:
Adeem is an undeniably talented lyricist, but I often don't find his work as fascinating when it's straight up indie rap. While he's got a good voice and his poetry can be dope, until this album I'd heard nothing that really set him apart for me as a recording artist. Volume in the Ground introduced me to something different, he blends elements of folk, blues, gospel and rap (who knew he could play guitar), along with a depression era concept to create a captivating album with some real bangers ("Mean & Evil") as well as great melodic songs ("Gone Gone", the fiddle at the bridge is gorgeous). I love every track on this album, and I often recommend it to people who claim they don't like rap. They often still don't like rap afterwards but at least then I know they come by that opinion honestly.

4. Lawson Graham by Factor:

I feel like it was around this period in his work that Factor really began to cultivate his own unique sound. Following up Chandelier, which was amazing, was no mean feat and enlisting the help of live musicians and some amazing vocal talent really elevated his work to a new level. Not only does Lawson Graham contain some of my favorite tracks by some of my favorite artists (Gregory Pepper, Barfly, Pigeon John, Radical Face) it also introduces the world to the duo forever after known as Common Grackle. Very dope and very creative work with amazing tracks from beginning to end.

5. Tapwater by Swordplay & Pierre the Motionless:
I'm not sure how I wound up getting this album, but I was so glad I did. From the very beginning it was so radically different from anything I'd heard before that I found myself hitting repeat over and over just to wrap my mind around what I was hearing ("When the Hurricane Comes" with it's angsty singable chorus and "400 Years of a Most Murderous Thirst" which makes the sound of someone sucking the last vestiges of liquid in a cup through a straw one of the most creative uses of sounds I've heard in a while; not to mention with Ancient Mith, Ceschi, James P. Honey, Filkoe and Reindeer it's the best weirdo posse cut I've ever heard). Not only does Swordplay have an amazing singing voice and poetic style, but Pierre the Motionless' production makes use of beautiful melodies and insanely creative percussion (his band's debut album is worth a look btw). This album introduced me to everything that is Isaac Ramsey and his second solo full length out this year as Swordplay was amazing as well. Highly recommended for fans of everything from rap to punk rock.  And it looks like he just released a free EP through Fake Four's Freecember campaign, check it out here!

6. Good Bye by Wolf Hotel:
Another of those albums I've mentioned a few times in my decade wrap up posts, Good Bye is the best EP you've never had a chance to hear, as it was only sold at some shows in Seattle I believe for a limited time. It's on SoundCloud for streaming now however, and you're depriving yourself of an experience if you don't check it out. Barfly's weathered voice, signature weirdo delivery, and intelligent storytelling have never sounded better than over Graves 33's folk influenced production. Short but sweet at 4 songs and an intro, I don't believe I've ever heard a hip hop EP that had such a lasting impact on me.

7. Saturday Night by Friday Night:
I can't even begin to express how much I like this album. Fantastic electronic production ("Jaqui". That's all I gotta say.), an engaging storyline and concept, and two emcee's with a depth of weirdness and creativity rarely heard these days (Serengeti and Hi-Fidel) make for an album that flows like an indie film, as the antics of Umar and David lead them from unlikely adventure to even more unlikely adventure. Like a really weird but weirdly pleasant dream, I feel like some of Serengeti's best work was with this collaboration (partly because whenever I started to get tired of his vocals Hi-Fidel changed it up for me) and their eponymous debut Friday Night was worth a listen as well, although I didn't get into the concept quite as much.

8. Parts of Speech by Dessa:
I wanted to include Dessa on this list, but like trying to find a single song to sum her up I couldn't really pick which album deserved a spot. Finally I chose Parts of Speech, her second full length because I feel like this was the album that established Dessa as the "rapper for grown ups" that she is. Absolutely beautiful songwriting, she also departs a bit from her mostly rap roots to put together some stirring singer songwriter material such as "Sound the Bells", and one awesome Springsteen cover "Going Down" which gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. Dessa is the best Doomtree artist hands down, and this album really shows what makes her special.

9. Owl by Qwel & Maker:
This album belongs on here for the touring musicians anthem "El Camino" alone (damn I wish I'd thought of that song last week), but the duo of Qwel & Maker have always given us great material, and Owl is just one such collection. Maker is an amazing producer (just listen to the scratching he does at the end of the title track) and Qwel is one of the most listenable nerds and poets I've heard. He can be rapping about anything from the horrors of alcoholism to gnostic Christianity and it's always hip hop and always dope. If you like rap I feel like you'll like this album. "Gin River" actually makes me tear up sometimes, I've known a few people just like that girl...

10. Blood Bone Piano by Otem Rellik:

And finally, one of the more underappreciated producers and songwriters of the decade, we have Otem Rellik's masterpiece Blood Bone Piano. One of the things I love about the indie scene is that we get to hear the earliest recordings of some of these musicians (whereas major label bands, you usually don't get easy access to those garage day works), and in Rellik's case we can see just how much he's grown as an artist. Blood Bone Piano has some of his best songs to date featured on it, and he's really perfected his brand of circuit bending folk rap to create tunes with real accessibility and emotional depth. Quirky, moving and beautiful, the title track is absolutely fantastic and would do fine on the radio if it wouldn't be immediately killed for not having the right endorsements. But enough of that...

Get Dimxsk's favorite album of the decade, The One Man Band Broke Up right here! And now...

Trylemma's List: 

This decade was the best decade for rap music yet. When you use the term "greatest" I suppose you should factor in general success, appeal, and influence. When using anything else though (e.g. "Top," or "Best" or "Favorite") I think it really just comes down to the person making the list. As such, my list is based on what I liked the best this decade. 

10. Oregon Failure by Sleep: Sleep is probably one of the more truly underrated, as opposed to merely overlooked, rappers in the underground. It's easy to get lost in his general personality and technical attempts (which sometimes work and sometimes don't,) but there's a lot of quality dark humor in his work - especially here. The star of the show, however, is definitely Maulskull, whose unique airy production really brings the album to a Top 10 level.

9. Gunwings by Sapient: Gunwings is the sole remix project on the list. Sape takes his 2010 "Barrels For Feathers" and upgrades nearly every one of those tracks with a severely improved instrumental. Even better, he adds in some additional verses for more improvements - most notable of which are Josh Martinez' verse on "Beauty In The Filth Redux" and Sape's ode to his newborn on "Stronger Redux." A rare remix project that makes the original (which was great on its own) really unnecessary.

8. Sad, Fat Luck by Ceschi: "Sad, Fat Luck" is merely 9 months old, but it already breaks into the Top 10. If "Broken Bone Ballads" is a tear-me-apart album, this one is a build-me-back-up album, and a fitting start to the 'farewell Ceschi' trilogy. There's still societal and political despair tones throughout the project, but Cesch has a way of making sure that triumphant optimism via solidarity shines through nearly every one of these grand tracks.

7. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West:
Definitely the most cinematic album on the list and arguably the most impactful rap album of the decade. Everything about Kanye - rhymes, production, song writing - is at its peak here and he really puts you through the wringer in terms of sound experience, in all the right ways. And it's not just about Kanye, the guy gives Pusha T, Nicki Minaj, and even Fergie some of the biggest verses of their careers!

6. King Snake by Nocando: "King Snake" is what earned Nocando my top rapper of the decade. Coming off of the amazing career defining "Severed," Nocan once again channels that sense angst and moodiness, but gears it towards more lowkey dark pop tracks that shine just as much in terms of hooks as they do in terms of verses. This decade absolutely put to rest this weird idea that battle rappers can't make good music.

5. Fast Times At Trillmont High by Toussaint Morrison: Everything is a concept album these days, but when it comes to actual concept albums - this is the best of the decade by far. A new teacher arrives at Trillmont high and quickly learns the ins-and-outs of the meanings of life through the lens of high school. The soundtrack is Toussaint rapping very very well over pumped up versions of yesterdecade's biggest pop radio hits. Pretty much everything I'm looking for in "conscious" rap.

4. Welcome To Success by Paranoid Castle: Kirby Dominant and Factor may very well be my favorite rapper/producer combo. Factor always manages to capture Kirby's great comical depression raps perfectly and Kirby always makes the most of the god Factor's production. The duo's debut, "One Way Ticket" tracked the grey quest for prosperity. The sophomore release, "Champagne Nightmares" tracked the living of the high life. It was fitting then that the trilogy's end laid out what happens when the champagne and parties start to grow old. And the duo sure go out with a bang! Factor's retro production is a highlight in his amazing 2010s catalogue, and Kirby's smile til you cry rhymes have never been better.

3. Goodbye & Good Riddance by Juice WRLD: The best and most defining emo trap album likely ever. Juice was a young black kid from Chicago who combined a midwest rap work ethic with pop/punk-esque melodies and turned making internet music on his own into a career. I love this album for its simplicity and focus, but also for its subtle use of "technical" aspects (certain multi-schemes and punches) that only us indie heads could appreciate.

2. Slump by Sapient: Sapient is one of the best rappers ever. One of the best producers too. And "Slump" sounds like the project he was always destined to ascend to. Maybe you have to live in the PacNW to fully appreciate things, but the album paints me a picture of surviving in some rainy muddy post-apocalyptic forest and coping with things via some post-ironic sense of humor. The syrupy boom bap, the sweet keys, and the crooning that may as well be rapping earn this the spot of almost best album of the decade.

1. 10 Haters by Flash Bang Grenada: You may remember some pop culture rap duos from 2011. There was that horrible Jay-Z and Kanye album. That forgettable Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka project (I listened but couldn't tell you a thing about it.) You may even remember that weird movie thing Snoop and Wiz Khalifa did. The duo that actually delivered, and moreso than any act (duo or not) throughout the decade, however, was Flash Bang Grenada. Flash Bang was really like lightning in a bottle. Take one of the best and most celebrated underground rappers ever in Busdriver and pair him up with the constantly bubbling battle rapper/Low End resident/Hellfyre Club founder/soon-to-be Cosmic Zoo founder Nocando. Then collect 10 instrumentals from some of the biggest beat scene producers and just let the two guys rap and have fun - the result is all killer. The song concepts are clever and lasting. The bars are hilarious. The schemes and deliveries, coming from the Blowed, are of course the best you'll ever find. The hooks are infectious as is the production. Everything about the album is what I love about rap music. Like all good things, however, Flash Bang wasn't destined to last (the follow-up song they did on the "Dorner v. Tookie" mixtape was far from what it should have been and the relationship of course eventually fell apart.) We'll always have 2011 tho. We'll always have "10 Haters."

[Note: I'm doing a Top 25 Projects of the Decade list over on my RYM page which will drop at some point. Check there for more picks including projects from Open Mike Eagle, Nicki Minaj, Jellyfish Brigade, Myka 9, and more.] - Trylemma

Get Trylemma's favorite album of the decade, 10 Haters on iTunes or Amazon today!

Thanks for taking the time to follow us on this reflective journey. Happy New Year, Happy New Decade, and we hope you keep tuning in for rarities and more from UGF.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Xmas Post (Shape Shifters, Onry Ozzborn, Ira Lee)!

From both of us to...both of you - Happy Holladaze from UGF! To celebrate, we're sharing Sixtoo's and Cee!!!!!!!!'s classic "Jesus Christ Never Existed" - because it's true. Jk jk jk. We've got a triple share for ya'll today. 

First up is The Shape Shifters' first known release from 1993 - "Shape Shifters..." Note that this is the Shifters before Existereo, before Circus, before Awol One! According to the notes, the members were Relm, Smooth ER (who's that?,) Gary Gnu, Perk, and Mek. We're talking OG here folks. I have two versions of this (actually 3,) each slightly different. Enjoy this version today! 

Next up is a weird little thing from Onry Ozzborn - noted as "Archives" on the cassette. The product is an early version of Onry's "Owleye" (which was a compilation of sorts itself.) It has most of the tracks from that project mixed in with a track from "Zero" and a couple unknown instrumentals. I believe this also went as "8 Track Oddities" at one point. #NorthWest

Last up is from our friends up north - the great Reality and D-Mic! If you've never heard of Reality or D-Mic must not be a real Hip Hop fan. Or perhaps it's because you have never heard the one copy of this beat up cassette that they recorded decades ago and never released to the public. Chances are, you probably have heard of Reality and D-Mic though, just under their more contemporary names, Ira Lee and DJ Kutdown, respectively. This was a little demo they recorded way back when, consisting of four tracks (well, technically two, but you'll see.) They played it for friends but it never got an official release or anything and only exists on this cassette procured from Kutdown himself...until now.

Well, there you have it folks, enjoy the holidays! Check back on Friday for our last "Best of the Decade" posts - Top Albums of the Decade! 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Poetic Death (nka Von Poe VII) - Death to the Shogun: Chapter 3 (2012)

Someone expressed an interest in hearing material from Von Poe VII, and given his extensive list of no longer available yet dope music, I figured I'd offer up one of my personal favorites of his from just before he changed his name.

Starting out while still in high school, Poe has come a long way since he dropped 2006's The Atma Within. This last entry of his Death to the Shogun series is a great place to start getting familiar with his vision as an artist, a hard to define lyrical style and content that I guess could almost be called dark conscious. Eerie, melodic and at times brutal, this 30 track album has some seriously dope production and guest lyricists as varied as Vice Versa (nka Carmine Moth), Vida Killz and even the mighty Mr. Lif.

Poe may not be for everyone, but he made my Top 10 list of rappers of the decade, and I predict at least some of you may agree.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

UGF's Decade Wrap Up: Top 10 Songs of the Decade

December is almost over, which means 2020 is nearly upon us. For this week of UGF's Decade Wrap Up Trylemma and I are looking at our favorite songs of the last 10 years. Personally I found making this list very difficult, there were tons of runner ups and so many songs both from new artists and those who've been making amazing music since the beginning of the century. I had to ignore the fact that some of these tracks appeared on projects I didn't like as much as other projects that didn't have songs that made the cut. The fact is I tried to look at artistic innovation, depth of meaning and overall catchiness, and this is what I came up with.

Dimxsk's List:

1. "This Won't Last Forever" by Ceschi & Factor Chandelier:
This is it, probably my favorite song of the last ten years. One of the best things indie rap has brought us over the past decade is a blossoming of the "folk hop" genre, and Ceschi is the undeniable master and leader of that sound. Singable raps with the fire of punk rock and a world weary cynicism, often over live acoustic guitar. I've loved all of it. I had this spot occupied by a few other Ceschi songs before I decided on this anthemic cut from Broken Bone Ballads, including "Half Mast" (on and off my favorite Ceschi song) and "Sans Soleil" (absolutely heartbreaking but not quite what I was looking for here). However when it comes down to it "This Won't Last Forever" is a well written, well produced, accessible yet clever song about getting up again after life takes you down, and with Ceschi's behind the scenes battle with the legal system driving the writing process the sentiment is as raw and real as possible. Can't ask for much more than that in art.

2. "The Best of Times" by Sage Francis:
Probably one of the best songs about growing up I've ever heard, Sage Francis is at his most honest over a dramatic and beautiful composition (not quite a "beat") by Yann Tiersen. Paired with the music video I believe it's impossible for anyone not to be moved by the sentiments expressed here, and one of the things I took into consideration when making this list was the universality of each song. Everyone grows up, everyone remembers early rejections that hurt worse than anything ever does in adulthood. The experiences of childhood are so intense because every experience is novel, there's no sense of scale. Each element of this song captures that feeling of novelty with skill and subtlety (subtlety not always being Sage's strong suit, this is doubly notable), from the spacey vibes at the beginning of the track to the warbling saw that sounds like nothing you've ever heard before in rap. If you haven't heard this song definitely watch the video here for full effect.

3. "All Aboard" by Dark Time Sunshine ft. Reva Devito:
Dark Time Sunshine have a ton of good songs, a handful of great songs, and in my opinion one perfect song. Set to a dreamy and melodic beat by Zavala, with a goose-bump raising chorus by Reva Devito and Onry's trademark dark fantastical lyricism, this is a song about embracing the unknown with openness and courage. I can say this song got me through some difficult experiences, and it helps that it's a great listen with a catchy sound no matter how you feel. Absolutely brilliant and really proves that Onry is at his best working with Zavala. Definitely my favorite of his tracks as well.

4. "MTW Story" by Carnage the Executioner:
The first time I heard this song I was blown away. Such an emotional and personal song was a bit out of the ordinary for Carnage (an artist who's well known for his battle rhymes and impressive technical skill over old fashioned songwriting), and I found it surprising that he could deliver one with such skill and honesty. It was Carnage's story, but it was also the story of so many others (again, universal). Absolutely flawless production by Repete23 with live instrumentation added make this a song that can literally make you cry and applaud at the same time. I became a real fan of Carnage after hearing this, and he's really killed it this decade and deserves recognition in all kinds of ways.

5. "The Great Depression" by Common Grackle ft. Ceschi:
Gregory Pepper is one of my favorite musicians. Factor is one of my favorite producers. "Missed the Train" from Factor's Lawson Graham album was awesome. So it stands to reason that as Common Grackle the pair could kill a full length album, and there were undeniably some great cuts on The Great Depression. However I wasn't quite as thrilled with the whole thing as I wish I was, I feel like it felt a little short and some of the songs ("Please Stop") didn't seem to work very well as the hip hop crossovers they were intended. In a lot of ways I liked The Great Repression, with Gregory Pepper and his homies performing the songs as a live band, better than the original. Not so with the title track. Factor's production and Gregory Pepper's reverbed overdubs meet and produce a virtually flawless song, with the weirdness of the lyrics (about being broke, as far as I can tell) only contributing to the dreamy eeriness and beauty of the track. Add a verse by Ceschi and a video by Stuey Kubrick and you get an experience totally unique in the musical world. I have no idea what this music is (gloom bap I guess is what Trylemma said it was called) but I loved it.

6. "Full Clip (for the Last Day)" by Typical Cats:
Typical Cats return with 3 was one of the more anticipated moments of the decade for a lot of us. Qwel is an amazing lyricist, Denizen Kane has an awesome voice, Qwazaar has both in equal amounts, and the trio have always had chemistry, even when DJ Natural and Kid Knish don't always produce the most interesting compositions for them to rap over. The closing track from 3 however is very good, with a bass driven reggae influenced beat and amazing chorus from the peerless Kane. Another song about perseverance in the face of struggles / evil (zombies and beasts and creeps) and remembering what's important in this world in the end, family and faith in something greater than oneself.

7. "Skeleton Keys" by Wolf Hotel:
Barfly has always been one of the most interesting lyricists Oldominion has to offer (and that's one interesting group of voices so that's saying something). With this hard to find EP over Graves 33 beats, he's really proven himself to be a great songwriter as well. I loved every song featured on the Good Bye EP by Wolf Hotel, but this acoustic folk inspired song about the Barefoot Bandit is by far the best. Gorgeous production, amazing writing from Barfly telling a hauntingly sad story (if you aren't familiar there's a lot of information about the Bandit, basically a kid who led a very difficult life teaching himself to steal airplanes) make this a track I keep returning to day after day. With the overcast sky I'm seeing at the moment, maybe it's time to put it on again. I wish these two would do more together with Barfly on lyrics (the cassette only 07734 was okay but didn't have the magic of this album, Graves is just a better producer than Barfly).

8. "Learn to Hope" by Andrre & Zoën:
Realizing as I type this that Zoën absolutely deserved a spot on last weeks top 10 producers. Oh well, when you cycle through your collection of music looking for great artists, you usually hit ten of them well before you get to Z. Anyway, this song featured on both Zoën's solo debut and Andrre's under a different name is a bittersweet and beautiful track about being a kid learning to hope again after the death of a loved one and other difficulties. Zoën's production is absolutely flawless, making use of a youth choir to simulate that same feeling of novelty I mention above in relation to "Best of Time". When the drums kick in following the intro, it's impossible not to instantly fall in love with the duo. Andrre's gravely accented rap-singing is absolutely unique in the genre and his solo album (with more contributions from Zoën as well as composer Roma) is fantastic. This is probably my favorite of his songs so far though, and with his great new EP recently released on Dora Dorovich hopefully we'll be hearing even more from him this coming decade.

9. "Call Off Your Ghost" by Dessa:
Dessa is one of the most talented voices working in indie rap these days, and this song from her second full length album about being haunted by the memory of a lover after a breakup is maybe one of her best songs. However it's really difficult to pick any one that's better than so many others, and while I knew she needed a spot on this list (with a gorgeous singing voice and amazing poetic talent she is definitely in a league of her own) I had a lot of difficulty choosing anything in particular. Finally I realized that "Call Off Your Ghost" showcases not only her ability to rap and sing flawlessly but to also craft beautiful choruses and write great songs. A good introduction to the artist and a sort of mission statement that tells you what to expect from Dessa's music.

10. "Feeling Inside" by Paranoid Castle:
And finally, the third Factor production I've included, Paranoid Castle write insanely fun and catchy tracks about partying and friendship with upbeat production and great vocals from Kirby Dominant. Not too much to say about this song in particular, I just saw this when Kirby stopped by the Sad, Fat Luck Tour and realized it's true genius when the crowd and I screamed the chorus together. Belongs on this list for sure, so much fun it has to be illegal...

And here's the video for Dimxsk's #1 Song of the Decade!

Choosing songs is much trickier than picking artists or albums as they offer a much more narrow artistic snapshot. Songs become much more dependent on the mood and time than larger projects or rappers/producers. As such, I've decided to create 10 general themes for my list and include 2 songs for each theme.
Trylemma's List:

1. **The Hero: "Hulk" by Toussaint Morrison / "Pillows" by Signor Benedick The Moor**
In a crowdfunding effort for his mixtape, "Fast Times At Trillmont High," Toussaint allowed top backers to have a song written about them. "Hulk" was a product of this effort, a grand song chronicling the life of one backer "Chris" over a heavy "Don't Stop Believin'" sample. We get a picture of Chris as a beer drinking jock who, amidst the partying, proudly maneuvers through life gladly welcoming the greater things to come. On the other side of things, SB The Moor's "Pillows" tracks a speaker who aspires to be a "Chris" figure, but is ultimately unsure of his ability to do so. Together, these songs do a great job portraying both the confidence and the uncertainty of life success.

2. **Mundane: "Dishes" by Open Mike Eagle / "Buzzkill" by Intuition Feat. Slug**
"Dishes" is a lowkey song about Mike's life as a house husband/father (as opposed to the indie star he is now.) In it, he contemplates more successful rap careers while also noting the intricacies of everyday chores. Intuition's "Buzzkill" lays out the rapper's growing boredom with the LA party scene (accompanied by a quality Slug verse.) I appreciate the little things in life, and these Hellfyre Club OGs capture the small feelings perfectly with these joints.

3. **Hellfyre Club: "Good Cop Bad Cop" by Flash Bang Grenada / "King Cookie Face Remix" by Busdriver Feat. Open Mike Eagle, milo, and Terra Lopez**
Speaking of Hellfyre Club, I view the label/crew (with its bitter demise and all) as the best indie rap movement of the decade. "Good Cop Bad Cop" is the best song off of the duo's "10 Haters" album, which really put Hellfyre on the map. The zany back and forth between Nocan and Driver (apparently about Rodney King?) really tames Driver while bringing out Nocan's lighter side...not to mention the duo puts on a complete rap clinic. Meanwhile, "King Cookie Face Remix" is really the last great song from the Hellfyre era. The three art rappers give their respective experiences of being high via top forms of all of their unique styles (and some mesmerizing Terra Lopez vocals.) Long live Hellfyre.

4. **Lost Love: "Secrets On Our Lips" by Astronautalis / "Violet" by The Coup**
While operating on different levels, both of these tracks offer wonderful snapshots of brief, but powerful, romantic relationships. "Secrets On Our Lips" traces a rendezvous behind a motel vending machine that lasted a night and a lifetime simultaneously. "Violet" traces a longer relationship on the streets of Oakland that was fueled by dreams of success but that unfortunately ended before such dreams could be fulfilled. It takes true skill to convey a lot with a little. Leave it to Astro and Boots to do it best here.

5. **Sacrificed Love: "Domestikated" by Iame / "In The Green Grass" by Jellyfish Brigade**
"Domestikated" is a tribute to a girlfriend that Iame lost to a move to the East Coast (due to a sick family member.) While Iame acknowledges all the good she has done for him, his dedication to the West Coast won't let him go east with her. The song becomes even more powerful considering that a couple years ago, Iame ended up moving East with his wife and wrote an album about it! "In The Green Grass" is surprisingly also about a girlfriend that rapper Lucas Dix lost to a move to the East Coast (due to a sick family member.) The song also covers Dix's loss of friend/rap partner Gavin Theory and the general trials of Dix's life. Both of these tracks do a great job of balancing tragedy and hopefulness as they relate to impactful loss.

6. **Driving: "In My Car" by Evil Ebenezer / "Bird On A Wire" by Action Bronson and Riff Raff**
What we have here are just two of my favorite songs to bump in my vehicular device known as a car. Evil's song is pretty self-explanatory - a tribute to car driving, with his lady, over a smooth ride-worthy Factor beat. "Bird On A Wire" has Bronson and Riff Raff (what happened to this guy?) trading some silly braggadocio verses over an airy earworm Harry Fraud instrumental. Perfect for a cruise.

7. **Internal: "Zeroes" by Nocando / "Find My Peace" by Serengeti**
We all need our fair share of depress raps every now and now. "Zeroes" is an amazing post-recession track about the vicious cycle of corporatism in America. As a capitalist society treats Nocan like a zero, he grows cold and starts only caring about the zeroes in his salary (which only increases the process.) "Find My Peace" tracks Serengeti's journey spending his birthday by himself in a home that he's technically trespassing within in Berkeley. While sleeping in the master bedroom (while the owner is away) he encounters a shotgun behind the bed that starts some heavy reflecting. Not everything is smiles.

8. **Bitter Growth: "Beauty In The Filth Redux" by Sapient Feat. Josh Martinez and Eligh / "All Girls Are The Same" by JuiceWrld**
It's sometimes hard to distinguish between triumphant illumination and just being resentful. "Beauty In The Filth Redux" upgrades an older Sapient track with a far superior stringy beat and a new Josh Martinez feature. The guys take turns embodying social outcasts that have found recent worth. Whether the worth is actual or merely in their own minds (or just a front, even to themselves) is up for debate. "All Girls Are The Same" by the recently departed JuiceWrld finds Juice broken after heartache. The song comes to the naive conclusion that girls by their nature are worthless, though there is nuance to be found in Juice's simultaneous realization that his conclusion may be the result of his own unwillingness to come to terms with himself. RIP.

9. **Celebratory: "I'm The One" by DJ Khaled Feat. Quavo, Chance The Rapper, and Lil Wayne / "This Won't Last Forever" by Ceschi**
More often than not, good music should make you feel...good. Here we have two tracks that take very different routes in accomplishing the same goal [to me.] "I'm The One" is a rare Khaled track that actually works. The melodic pop hit has the who's who of Hip-Pop acts boasting to their ladies about their ("their" as in the rappers, not the ladies) significant value. "This Won't Last Forever" channels Ceschi's past struggles, pain, and anger into an optimistic anthem. It's hard to imagine many conversations that would involve both Weezy and Ceschi, but the truth is, good music comes in an endless amount of forms and the worst thing you can do is really limit your listening habits. Both of these tracks are celebratory bangers that have put me in good moods many a time this decade.

10. **Reflection: "Home Movies" by Thirsty Fish / "Waves" by Kanye West**
To close things up, we have what are likely my two favorite tracks of the decade. Luckily they share enough qualities in theme that I can fit them into this little theme thing I'm doing! "Home Movies" is a non-album track that finds Thirsty Fish in a strangely reflective mood. We get, over an old Omid beat, early rare glimpses into Psychosiz', Open Mike's, and Dumbfoundead's childhood - the good, the bad, the melancholy strange. While Open Mike and Dumbfoundead have covered similar topics since, "Home Movies" remains a gold standard. Meanwhile, "Waves" is a simplistic, yet hard hitting track, about the continuous lasting nature of memories. Kanye's brief boastful raps are beautifully juxtaposed, and ultimately drowned out by, Chris Brown's crooning as if to say that even amidst Kanye's current bullshit, the roots remain. To the new decade!

And here's the video for one of Trylemma's picks from the category "The Hero"

Friday, December 13, 2019

Toussaint Morrison ‎– Makin' Mistakes & Feelin' Great Release Party Sampler

Today we have a little mixtape release party promo cd from Toussaint Morrison for his 2011 mixtape, "Makin' Mistakes & Feelin' Great." We get three tracks taken from the mixtape as well as a spoken track advertising the party...where ladies get in free!!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

UGF's Decade Wrap Up: Top 10 Producers of the Decade

Welcome to Part 2 of UGF's Decade Wrap Up (realizing I should've titled it "Rap Up" cuz puns are cool) and UGF’s 100th post! This is Dimxsk and today we're looking at the best producers of the past ten years. I've always felt that producers don't get the recognition from casual listeners that they deserve. Before I got deep into hip hop I'd always hear songs my friends loved and the beat would be fire but the lyrics mediocre at best. I'd wonder why the unoriginal rapper would get the name recognition while the musician behind the boards went unnoticed. One thing that's been refreshing about the indie scene is that this seems to be less of an issue, not only do producers seem to have more control over who raps over their music (and more importantly who doesn't) but a good producer can make a name for themselves alone by putting out albums with friends (such as Factor and Sixo's solo joints). I think we're a community that has a lot of appreciation for talent. With that, here are UGF's Top 10 producers of the decade!

Dimxsk's List

1. Factor:
As I told Trylemma, Factor and Graves warred for the top spot for a few days before I finally settled on giving Factor the distinction. The truth is that Factor Chandelier's influence on Ceschi and the rest of the Fake Four roster was what decided it for me. I actually tend to like Graves production more than Factor's later work, it's just more my style (I did absolutely love Lawson Graham and 13 Stories though). However, the tremendous amount of effort put into producing folks I love, and the exceptional albums Factor put out during the first half of the teens made it clear who really deserved the title of top producer of the decade.

2. Graves 33:
Now that's not to say Graves doesn't deserve recognition. I think his work behind the boards is so distinctive, so stylistically interesting and so f*cking dope that I've liked basically everything he's ever done, from his sample based work to his System Revolution experiments on digital media. In addition he's done so much this decade from self produced projects to collaborations (like the excellent and rare Good Bye EP by Wolf Hotel with the singular Barfly on lyrics) that it would really be impossible for me not to include him in the top 5.

3. Zavala:
As I mentioned last Wednesday, Vessel was one of my favorite albums of the decade. Onry and Zavala were absolutely made for eachother, his spacey and tripped out soundscapes lend so much depth and emotion to Onry's poetry, it's a shame they haven't worked as DTS in a while. While Dark Time Sunshine is the major reason I've included Zavala on this list, his work with Grayskul on Zenith and the always quirky Chicharones on Swine Flew ("Bankers Bonanza", it's classic Zavala sound is a dead giveaway) make me think he could transform the style and elevate the sound of a great many lyricists. Maybe a solo project with collaborations, a la Factor?

4. Sapient:
Sapient was another shoe-in for a top 5 spot for me. While I don’t absolutely love everything he’s ever done (I’m alone among my friends in preferring Dry Puddles to Slump), his talent as a musician and willingness to experiment with unusual chord progressions and sounds traditionally more suited to alternative rock make him something of an oddity, in a good way. Like Trylemma I want to see more from him in the next ten years, he’s released some excellent singles recently and Fool For Gold was in my opinion his best offering to date, I think we can have high hopes for Sape in the next decade. And, although it’s unrelated to his skills at production, it must be said that he can absolutely sing his ass off.

5. Misanthrop:
German producer Misanthrop gets another of the top spots for his world influenced production dating back twenty years. I don’t speak German but I’ve enjoyed every one of his projects, his use of unusual samples in unique ways fits perfectly with his often less than conventional rhyme style, and I’ve found myself on more than one occasion blown away by the sheer genius of some of his compositions.

6. Eligh:
Probably my favorite Living Legend, Eligh has been clawing his way to the top of the indie scene, one masterpiece at a time. From the very beginning of the decade with 2010's Gray Crow to last years recovery epic Last House on the Block, Eligh has made a name for himself with his spacey, lush and often beautiful production as well as his personal and enlightened lyrical content. Something you might want a young son to listen to as he grows up, Eligh's unique personality and journey is reflected in each and every one of his projects. Many of us have come to rely on his work to reflect, trip out or dance to when nothing else will serve. His Patreon tracks are absolutely amazing as well, and if you have the cash on hand I recommend you give them a listen. Definitely deserves a spot on this list.

7. Kno:
So if memory serves me Kno started out the decade with Cunninlynguists’ beautiful Oneirology, an album chock full of immersive melodies, electronic sounds forming sweeping and epic compositions. I loved every song it had to offer. While I feel some of his best work was back before 2010 (A Piece of Strange has yet to be topped), his recent work is still often phenomenal. Strange Journey Vol. 3 proved that Kno’s production could fit anyone’s style with it’s varied group of guest musicians, and his album Death is Silent made very clever use of folk rock samples to give his solo work an original and fresh sound, emotional without the emo (mostly). It’s also worth noting that I have yet to meet a fan of rap who does not appreciate his production to some degree, and that’s no small feat in and of itself. Accessible, clever and in this decade more mature and experimental. Great musician, and definitely one of my top 10.

8. Sixo:
One of the MANY musicians who've tragically passed this decade, Sixo put out two full length albums and an EP in the last ten years, all of them full of great guest spots and seriously dope production. He's been behind the boards for some of my favorite songs by some of my favorite artists ("Snowballs 2012 feat. Ceschi" being one from the Tracking Perception EP) and I am confident that his creativity would've continued to elevate his art and the art of those around him for many years if not for his tragic accident. I believe he belongs on this list not just because of what he was able to accomplish, but what I know he could have if he'd been allowed to continue producing.

9. Edison:
Edison was a founding member of the seriously weird Papervehicle group, and in that time both produced and rapped his way into my awareness and musical heart. This decade saw him strictly producing, and doing it with a personality and ingenuity that is a rare wonder to behold. One of the most famous "circuit benders" in the indie scene, Edison utilizes both analogue and digital sounds from novel sources (Gameboys, baby toy soundmakers etc) to create beats with a singularly unique sound. His full length album with Les Swashbuckling Napoleons (as well as the single they put out on Mism, "Smash the Compass, Kill to Play" which has an incredible beat) introduced his genius to a wider audience, and his EP's with Babelfishh and Evak cemented his reputation with the weirdos like me. Unofficial "Most Ingenius West Coast Division".

10. El-P:
Finally, while I will always have a soft spot for El Producto's early work (I'm not ashamed to admit that it took hearing Cannibal Ox and other Def Jux releases to open my mind a bit when it came to rap), I feel like there's no way I can leave him off this list even if only for his hard climb to mainstream awareness with Killer Mike. Starting with 2012's excellent R.A.P. Music, produced by El with raps by Mike it became apparent that the pair had chemistry. Mike's larger than life voice and ghetto intellectual lyrics combine with El-P's industrial influenced bangers to give the perfect crossover, something to be enjoyed by the more casual music fans who want something with a message but don't have the time or desire to dig deeper into the scene. As Run the Jewels the duo has released several full length albums, a remix album utilizing cat noises (weed was probably involved in that one) and an EP. All of them have El-P's crushing signature sound, cynical lyrics and Mike's clever rapid fire delivery. When I heard their Record Store Day single with Shadow elevating a scene from Netflix's Ozark, I have to say I was glad that so many are discovering what many of us have known for 15-20 years. He gets a lower spot because production wise I feel like he's lost a bit of his creativity this decade (nothing to rival "Live from the Planet of Eat", sadly), but he's still amazing and still independent. RTJ is in the studio with Rick Rubin these days, next years gonna be fire...

Trylemma's List

Trylemma's list is in countdown format.

10. Ryan Lewis:
It's not popular to say, especially in snob circles, but I loved both of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' albums this decade, and Lewis perhaps carried a bit more weight than Mack. The ability to craft a variety of anthemic pop crossover hits that still allow for Macklemore to rappity rap is pretty special. His absence in Macklemore's solo release was felt greatly.

9. Zavala:
"Vessel" and "ANX" are two of the best albums of the decade thanks heavily to Zavala's house-ready production. It's hard to think of another producer that creates so many hectic layers only to end up with a cohesive sounding instrumental that explodes with color. The great Zav may be the most visual-inducing producer on this list.

8. Dr. Wylie: 
While his solo efforts haven't been amazing, Dr. Wylie's work with Toussaint Morrison has been exactly that. For the majority of the decade, Wylie was remixing, recreating, and, let's be honest, improving upon well known pop hits from yesterday and yesteryear. I can probably count on one hand the times when Wylie failed to make the sample his own. And when it came time to produce for Toussaint's official debut album, he delivered yet again with a set of more lowkey, yet equally hard-hitting, instrumentals.

7. Smoke: 
The Oldominion vet has proven, throughout the decade, that his production skills are wide-ranging. From boom bappy projects with the likes of Eastern Sunz, OnlyOne, and Iame, to more left-field electronic projects with acts like James Barrie, Sarx, and Ephyme (and most recently Diveyede,) to indie pop records with Selector Dub Narcotic - Smoke can do it all...and do it all very well. It almost makes me forget that we are long overdue for a Smoke vocal project...almost. 

6. Incise: 
There's no shortage of beatmakers looking to become the next Nujabes. However, none have a stronger claim, at least in terms of talent, than Incise. If you're looking for jazzy mellow-mood instrumentation, Incise is your man (though, unlike many a producer on this list, he has yet to really collaborate with any top top tier rappers which is unfortunate.) Incise has been sort of m.i.a. this last half of the decade. I hope to hear him again soon.

5. Sabzi: 
For a while there in the 2000's, it really looked like Sabzi was destined for some bright lights. 2011 gave us the amazing "Cinemetropolis" but from there, both Blue Scholars and Common Market took a long hiatus (though both are now back it seems.) While it wasn't given as big of a spotlight, Sabzi continued to make some really incredible beat-tapes and projects with Made In Heights. While he can cover various styles, my preferred (as heard throughout "Cinemetropolis") is the hollowed-out echoey happy electronic instrumentals that force a good mood.

4. Sapient: 
At this point, you should really be able to recognize those snazzy Sapient synths that are responsible for so many great beats this decade. Hell, even the gods Freestyle Fellowship had to get on board! Equally as impressive are Sape's thick heavy folk boom bap sounds, the ones that can make you break your neck head-bobbing and hum along at the same damn time.

3. Kanye West: 
Kanye gets the #3 spot for the instrumentation itself, no doubt. So many top notch beats have come from the man's mind over the past 10 years. Now is also a good time, however, to acknowledge that "producing" isn't limited to making a beat. The noise intricacies, the features, the song structures, the allusions found in the sounds of projects like "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," "The Life of Pablo," and "Kids See Ghosts" are creatures of their own. Those with their head stuck in the underground (where Kanye once thrived) would do well to appreciate.

2. Maulskull: 
Maulskull is basically my favorite producer of the 2010s. Listening to his "dreamtrap" sound is like eating cotton candy while you watch a storm hit shore from indoors. It's like holding a collection of balloons and floating to the sky on a sunny day with an evil smirk on your face. The melodies resulted in two great solo albums, a collection of solid projects from his Black Mask crew, and one of the best albums ever, "Oregon Failure," with Sleep. His Death By Thr33s series (which has sadly been removed from online,) made some, well, plain bad rappers sound great haha! And like I said, he might as well take the top spot of the decade because the only person left is really on a different planet. 

1. Factor: 
The 2010s have given us lots of great producers. The aforementioned 9 producers are on a tier of their own. Then there's Factor. To put things into perspective, if I was to make a list of my favorite 100 beats from my Top 10 producers, I wouldn't be surprised if over half were from Factor. That's how far and ahead he his. This decade, he took his melancholy prairie-hop production style that he trademarked throughout the 2000s (yes, he was the best producer of the 2000s as well,) and kicked things into high gear. In the opening year of 2010 alone, the man made a boom bap album with D.Dove, a spacey funk album with Moka Only, a gloom pop album with Gregory Pepper, a prairie-based album with Kay The Aquanaut and Joe Dub, a lo-fi album with Cam The Wizzard and Subtitle, a folk solo album, and a concept solo album. And they were all amazing. That was year one. The highlights are too many to name. "The Landmark" with Awol, both Paranoid Castle albums, the Ceschi collabos, "Woke Up Alone," "Famous Future Time Travel" with Myka, "Wisdom Teeth," "Scott Free Red Handed" with Nolto. He's the only artist to have at least one entry in my Top 10 Favorite Projects of the Year, each year, from 2010 to 2019. Most importantly, however, he always brings out the best in the artists he works with. From LMNO to Noah23 to Open Mike Eagle to SelfHelp to Ahmad. They all sound better with Factor. King of the decade no question.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

RIP Juice Wrld

I'm guessing that Juice doesn't have a lot of admirers amongst the visitors of this page, but I (Trylemma) was a big fan and he was, in my opinion, the best artist to have debuted this decade. The kid (dead at 21) made thousands of tracks on his own, had freestyled for hours on screen off the dome, came up with lots of fresh schemes, cadences, and melodies, and really had a career in front of him. Truth is, Juice was probably a harder worker with more left-field ideas than a lot of "indie" rappers. Sucks to lose another one. RIP. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Creators of the Lost Arts - C.O.L.A. Clasix (2001)

I noticed that there are a lot of folks looking for this particular lost gem, and I figured since I have it in it's full 320 kbps glory, I really do have to share it. Creators of the Lost Arts Crew (C.O.L.A. Crew) are / were(?) a super-group comprised of members of Rime Fytahs / Sea Serpents and their various common collaborators from the early 2000s LA underground rap scene.

This album, despite the what the name implies (a mixtape of old material) does seem to be the first official release from the group, followed by 2004's For the People by the People and 2007's C.O.L.A. 3. I'm a pretty big fan of Haewhyer (R.I.P.) and Kuaesar, their rapid fire delivery and DIY sensibilities translate to a huge quantity of dope material, music that pretty much exemplifies what truly self produced underground rap sounds like. Enjoy their earliest efforts as C.O.L.A. Crew!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

UGF's Decade Wrap Up: Top 10 Rappers of the Decade

First off we want to say this list is FAR from the only people we listen to, and it isn't even really the people we listen to the most regularly these days. It's our efforts to quantify what some of UGF's favorites have been up to in this decade as it wraps up, and for that reason we haven't included some musicians we have a tremendous amount of respect for. There are also a lot of folks who have arguably more technical skill in a lot of areas than some of these rappers, but we left them off because stylistically we don't find them as interesting or have trouble getting as into what they're about, or they just haven't been as busy since 2010 as others. So let's start the Decade Wrap Up with Dimxsk & Trylemma's picks of the top 10 rappers of the decade!

Dimxsk's List

1. Ceschi:
When one person can undeniably master every musical art including instrumentals, singing and rapping that's a very rare thing. To add to that a fearless writing style and refusal to give up even an inch of integrity to boost sales, it wasn't difficult to give up the top spot to Fake Four innovator Julio "Ceschi" Ramos. With two albums dropped in the last year of this decade, and a very impressive resume going back to the very beginning, the impact Ceschi's had on indie rap music this decade is self evident and it can't go without recognition that his label has brought us some of the best music of the decade as well. While a lot of these slots were difficult to determine for me, this one was obvious.

2. Onry Ozzborn:
One of my favorite albums of the decade was Vessel by Dark Time Sunshine. Onry's strange sense of style and spacey lyrics served on a beautiful platter of Zavala's creation made some of the songs on that album really shine. As a duo they released two EP's and another full length record ANX that was incredible. In addition we've had Onry's work as a solo artist, Grayskul's triumphant return with Zenith, and numerous guest spots that have always been a pleasure to hear. One of my all time favorite musicians, he's done his best work this decade and some of the best indie rap I've heard.

3. Astronautalis:
Even as I type this I wonder if Astronautalis truly belongs on this list. I absolutely love his work, but some of his later offerings I haven't found as interesting. The most unique aspect of his music is his often seamless transitions into folk and indie rock, and his work this decade like the full length Four Fists album with P.O.S have been strictly rap. However, Cut the Body Loose from 2016 was a great album, and his trilogy of Factor produced tracks from 2017 were all dope. He will always be a favorite and I expect more from him in the Twenties.

4. billy woods:
I feel like when it comes to old fashioned storytelling style lyricism, few this decade have it going on more than Woods. Not only has he done a tremendous amount of work these past ten years (from an almost annual solo album in the later half to his excellent offerings with Elucid as Armand Hammer) but I find that work very engaging, with the ability to fully draw the listener in to the world he paints with words. A true poet with an unconventional rhyme and a one of a kind brain. Love all his work.

5. Aesop Rock:
I sorta break with Trylemma here in that I believe Aesop's best album was Labor Days. However, over the past ten years he's put out a number of projects with Rhymesayers Entertainment, all of which had all the personality, wit and charm we've come to expect from Aesop, along with a new direction in production that allowed his weirdness to become a bit more accessible and reach an even larger audience. 2016's Impossible Kid was an excellent offering and was all I've come to love about the rapper / producer. Definitely belongs in the top 5.

6. Carnage the Executioner:
A personal favorite of mine, I've been in love with Carnage's delivery and braggadocio style since I first heard his voice on "Star Destroyer". What really earns him his spot in my opinion is all the work he's put into this decade, establishing himself as a solo artist with 2011's Worth the Wait (an album that I think can be enjoyed equally by both Tech N9NE and Heiroglyphics fans alike) and putting out a number of solo albums and collaborative projects, all of them at least dope if not excellent. His latest album Ravenous was my favorite of his by far, and I can't wait to see what the Twenties have in store for this rapper. Earns my vote as well for "Most Underrated" rapper of the decade.

7. Neila:
Simply put, I've enjoyed everything I've ever heard from Neila, going back two decades. But she's really put out some gold these past ten years, specifically her amazing EP with Vrse and her various hard to find projects like Buttons EP and Marked for Breath. Her unique voice and talent for picking great beats make for some beautiful and dope songs, always personal and always fresh. It's worth noting that according to Asgard Records' Bandcamp she was the victim of ID theft recently, so if you've been holding off on picking up any of her work, now's the time (check out this fun little mixtape for example).

8. Brzowski:
Straight outta New England we have one of the most interesting rappers of the decade, and a man whose definitely been putting in work for the last ten years. Starting with A Fitful Sleep, Brzowski has been putting out a unique blend of metal, singer songwriter and rap music that should appeal to fans of all (or none) of the above. His work with C Money Burns as Vinyl Cape is especially notable, given how a fusion of rap and metal is so prone to gimmicky wackness. Vinyl Cape showcases not just a smart lyrical style but serious musicianship from the band and some singable, moshable material. He keeps on grinding, and his last solo album Enmityville was perfect. He just released his newest mixtape Blooddrive Vol. 4 here, featuring billy woods, Swordplay, Elucid, KidDEAD, ialive and others, and it promises to be an amazing collection. Definitely earned his spot.

9. Serengeti:
One of my favorite albums of the earlier part of the decade was Saturday Night, by Serengeti & Hi-Fidel as Friday Night. Quirky and dope, with a concept that actually sticks to it's own story and is engaging (a serious rarity in rap music), Serengeti has always been the consummate rap author. While I've never really been a fan of his Kenny Dennis persona (sorry Geti), I love his work with Sicker Man, his album with Why?'s own Yoni Wolf as Yoni & Geti, and his forays into pop music with super producer Rob Kleiner (Kaleidoscope & Quail). While you can't always count on his albums to be total winners, he puts out so many that the next offering or the one after can usually be counted on to restore any lost faith in the man's skill and creativity.

10. Von Poe VII (fka Poetic Death):
I wanted to diverge a bit from my usual folk rap roots to bring up a name I've been following for a while now. Starting as a teenager as Poetic Death, Riverside California's own Von Poe VII has put out a number of albums this decade that keep the mind spinning and the head nodding. Helped out by his association with some incredible producers (Vice Versa is one) he's managed to put out a huge volume of material in a short time that tackles difficult topics in religion, politics and racism. With the poetic sensibilities of Tupac but a style entirely of his own design, Von Poe has become an impressive force in the conscious rap genre. In addition his work with the loose knit posse Organized Threat (Gavlyn and Papa J Ruiz came up in this group as well) he exercises his creativity through multimedia projects and a clothing line. Possible "Most Promising, West Coast Division".

Trylemma's List

1. Nocando:
Nocando comes in at my number one spot - which is a bit strange as he dropped some mediocre stuff this decade (e.g. "Zero Hour," "Tits N Explosions,") and some good, but not great stuff (e.g. "Jimmy The Lock," "Jimmy The Burnout.") In 2011, however, he dropped the amazing "10 Haters" and played a large part in 2013's great "Dorner vs. Tookie." He then went on an absolute murder spree in 2017-2018, dropping one of the most impressive 4-project strings ever. Spot well earned.

2. Sapient:
Name another rapper who does apocalyptic electronic folk boom bap sing rap better than Sapient? Highlights this decade include arguably my favorite remix project of all time in "Gunwings" and the absolutely incredible "Slump" and "Fool For Gold" - neither of which has anything below a great song in my opinion. We haven't been blessed with a full project from Sapient since 2016. Hopefully that changes soon.

3. Open Mike Eagle:
Mike Eagle's career in the 2010s has certainly been the most fun to watch. He started things off with some wonderfully zany Project Blowed drenched projects like "Unapologetic Art Rap" and "Watergate" and slowly developed some highly tightly-written conceptual records like "Dark Comedy" and "Hella Personal Film Festival." With it, came a comedy career, a television career, a film career, an e-personality career lol. If there's one person who's earned it this decade, it's Open Mike Eagle.

4. Aesop Rock:
While I enjoy them, I'm not huge on Aesop's 2000s body of work. His decision to become a bit more approachable in the 2010s, combined with a huge step up in production, created some super fun and enjoyable projects this decade, while maintaining the cryptic appeal that college kids love. "Skelethon," "The Impossible Kid," "Are You Gonna Eat That?," "Hokey Fright" and "Lice" are strong standouts. 

5. Busdriver:
I like Busdriver's more blatant jazzy past a lot, but his fully embracing of weirdo pop (specifically in "Beaus$Eros) and the LA beat scene (specifically in "10 Haters") this decade made his music output truly uniquely something special. I also credit him for being the large backbone behind the greatest Hip Hop crew of the decade (perhaps ever) - Hellfyre Club. It's sad that controversy (rightfully) puts on asterick on his decade. 

6. Kanye West:
Yeezy makes the list off the strength of the incredible "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" and almost as incredible "The Life of Pablo." Some very very good non-album tracks (e.g. "Christian Dior Denim Flow," "Only One") help make up for the other less than stellar albums. Say what you will about him, but the man's song writing and blunt delivery style made for some great tunes this decade.

7. milo:
No rapper has had a more lasting debut in the 2010s than milo. I loved loved the early projects (specifically "milo takes baths" and "cavalcade,") was a bit iffy on the later stuff, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself loving everything from "Who Told You to Think??!!?!?!?!" onward. I'm excited where the new name change will take him.

8. Ceschi:
I was lukewarm on Ceschi for the first half of this decade. I thought "The One Man Band" was good but not great. He kicked thing into overdrive, however, in the latter portion with "Forgotten Forever," "Broken Bone Ballads," "Sad, Fat Luck," and the latest "Sans Soleil." His acoustic projects are to be heavily admired as well.

9. Toussaint Morrison:
When it comes to pure "lyricism," it's hard to beat Toussaint Morrison, who made his solo debut this decade with a string of six solo projects ranging from great to god-tier. And if that wasn't enough, he also dropped various projects with his many groups The Blend, Lazlo Supreme, Big Villain, and my personal favorite, Jimmy & The Threats.

10. Dessa:
Dessa dropped three full length albums this decade, all three being soon-to-be classics in my opinion. She's also the standout on Doomtree's "No Kings" and "All Hands" on top of that. The only reason she's this "low" is the general lack of "rapping" on her projects. There's little to dislike however in her 2010s' career.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Trylemma's Holly Jolly Christmas Mixtape!

We've celebrated the genocide of entire groups of people and are now off to buy off-brand 55 inch tvs for $200! That can only mean one thing - Xmas is in full swing!!! Enjoy this 29 track collection of some of my favorite holiday tracks! 

Trylemma's Holly Jolly Christmas Mixtape Tracklist:

1. Agentstriknine, PW Esquire, White Mic, & Equipto - Drummer Boy
2. Wool See - Christmas Card
3. Cleen - Christmas Lights
4. Aceyalone, Ellay Khule, & Beond - Christmas In The City
5. Bop Alloy - Let The Flakes Fall Where They May
6. Imperator - Xmas Past Xmas Present
7. Charles Hamilton - Christmas In August
8. Busdriver - Why Stop Now
9. Chief Xcel & DJ Shadow - The Chief And Shadow's Xmas Present
10. Akil The MC - Buck Santa
11. Brother Nature - Merry Little Christmas
12. Boac - Raindeer Game$
13. Analog(ue) Tape Dispenser, Skech185, & Gilead7 - Christmas
14. Ras Kass - Yellow Snow
15. Born Allah - The God That Stole Xmas
16. The Chicharones - Straight Outta Noggin
17. Kenny Segal - Baaad Santa
18. Planet Asia, Gibby, & KT - EggNog & Hennessy
19. Casual - Santa Claus
20. Noah23 - Christmas In Prison
21. Moka Only - Chicken Holiday
22. Open Mike Eagle - Snowsuit
23. Otherwize - Killin Clause
24. Random - My Christmas Prayer
25. Brass Clouds & Lucas Dix - Snow Days
26. Astronautalis - Xmas In July
27. Busdriver - I Don't Dream
28. Awol One - Blue X-Mas
29. D-Sisive - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

New Music: Dessa - Sound The Bells: Recorded Live At Orchestra Hall

As we begin to reflect on the end of the decade, I find little counter-argument to the claim that Dessa is one of the 2010's best Hip Hop artists. With three absolutely amazing solo albums under her belt, in addition to a string of great remix projects, singles and Doomtree work, her catalog has very very few missteps (perhaps the only real one being her podcast appearance on Nocando's Shots Fired years ago - peep that for some fun indie rap beef.) 

This month, Dessa released a live concert performance recorded at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dessa has been working with large groups of live instrumentalists for a while now and I've caught glimpses of performances here and there, but I had yet to listen to a full set until now. I wasn't let down! 

"Sound The Bells" tackles 18 tracks from throughout Dessa's discography, and does all of them justice. The accompanying orchestra manages to give the songs a large epic feel, while still maintaining the lowkey intimacy that a lot of the original versions thrive on. I do wonder if Dessa wrote her latest solo project, "Chime," with this possible performance(s) in mind, as the tracks from that album (e.g. "Boy Crazy," "Jumprope," and "Fire Drills") end up sounding the best in general. There are a couple tracks that I would have loved to hear an orchestra version of (specifically "Annabelle" and Dessa's latest single "Good For You") though at 18 tracks total, the project provides more than enough to chew on. 

Listen to and cop "Sound The Bells" via Dessa's Bandcamp HERE

[And as a Doomtree-related aside, someone tell greedyass Lizzo to free her Mike Mictlan verse!!!] 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Virtue - Growing Pains (2005)

This week we have something as rare as it gets. Straight out of Trylemma's vaults comes Growing Pains, by F. Virtue (fka just Virtue). I haven't had time yet to listen to this album as Trylemma just ripped it a few days ago, but I know this is the one he alluded to in his post for Hue Records' Virtual DJ Set for Virtual Night. It contains a song with Nolto, as well as one with Sims of Doomtree.

You can find specific information about this album here. For those who don't know, F. Virtue makes insightful music about life, love, marijuana and as an openly gay rapper about what it means to be different in the rap game these days. "Anita Bryant" is a particularly moving and honest example of the kind of music you can expect from him. I've been really excited to listen to this for a while now, and I wanted to get it out to you as well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Music: Chris Orrick & the Lasso - I Read That I Was Dead

Coming out of Detroit, Chris Orrick (fka Red Pill) has been making a splash on Mello Music now for a few years both as a solo artist and a member of the Ugly Heroes trio with Apollo Brown and Verbal Kent. He has been particularly prolific over the last five years and following May's release of Out to Sea Chris Orrick has returned again with I Read That I Was Dead, a collaborative effort between himself and fellow Michiganite producer The Lasso. The title is a reference to the recent death of the cryptozoologist of the same name, and the surreal nature of reading about oneself in the obituary pages. Hearing this story I was reminded of the anecdote behind the Nobel Peace Prize, in which Alfred Nobel, a manufacturer of munitions is mistaken for dead, and upon reading what was said about his life, realizes the legacy he's leaving behind and decides to change it.

Whether intended or not, this story fits with the music of Orrick very well in my opinion, he has never shied away from revealing the most disturbing aspects of his own character (Instinctive Drowning, put out under the Red Pill moniker contains some of the more disturbing material I've ever encountered in rap), often with a dry wit and a notable lack of emotional self pity. He is wise to the parts of himself he most struggles with, and has managed to turn them into something that can be both brutal and beautiful. I enjoy that about his music, and I was excited to hear his newest offering.

I Read That I Was Dead is probably the most interesting release I've heard from Orrick as a solo artist, and anyone who might have read my posts here knows that to me that means a lot. I attribute some of that to the production by The Lasso, which at times is unique yet dope enough to draw comparisons to El-P. Orrick's past work has included beats that were beautiful, intricate and catchy but not always particularly abstract or experimental. The closest I've heard him come to abstract hip hop was on 2017's Instinctive Drowning, although he always remains soulful and jazzy to a certain extent. This newest album has that edgy, at times harsh sound that Ill Poetic used to help illustrate the dark and depressing landscape of Drowning, and I would say for those who know Chris Orrick but haven't yet heard this new one that this is the closest he's come to that disturbing work.

Tackling subjects like mass shootings, capitalism and alienation (from others as well as from self on "Specimens" the only song to feature a guest verse by Quelle Chris who's unusual voice and style fit so perfect over The Lasso's beat that one wonders if a full length collabo is in order...), Orrick's lyrics are as cynical yet human as ever. He raps about the things most of us have felt and thought, often at our lowest but sometimes simply as an exasperated response to the state of daily life. I feel like anyone could relate to his poetry, especially with his later work that moves a bit farther away from the suffocating world of alcoholism and into a sort of twisted whimsy. I Read That I Was Dead is stated to come from the perspective of "a man who chooses to live in exile like an artist escaping a successful coup", and that separation from, and ascension over reality allows Orrick to examine everything at one remove, building on the distorted eeriness of the production to establish a palpable sense of surrealism and confusion.

If I had to make one criticism of this album it would be that it's a bit short. That seems to be something I run into a lot with his solo releases, I don't believe any of them have over 12 tracks. When working with a single producer, especially in a collaborative atmosphere like the one behind I Read (apparently the pair set up in The Lasso's lab and hammered out the album together) it's understandable that the final product will be a tight and concise piece of music. However I would absolutely love to see Orrick put out a longer work, maybe even a mixtape. It could be a great introduction to his music and showcase the many different subjects and themes that make up his artistic persona, not to mention the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of different production and rapping styles.

All in all I think if you like indie rap enough to have found this blog and waded through this review, you'll like this album a lot. I'm always excited to hear more from Orrick, I believe his music can be a one of a kind experience for the vigilant listener.

Get I Read That I Was Dead at Orrick's Bandcamp here, out now!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Manic D - Manic D (?)

Manic D is a Portland based rapper, and more currently a comic creator, who is perhaps best known for being the rapper half of the duo Newspeak. Today's post is an early self-titled 3 track EP from the man, though I'm not sure as to the exact date of release.

Manic D displays an early playful, nerdy, West Coast inspired delivery on the EP over a handful of jazzy boom bappy beats. The main theme on the project is a painting of his life as a struggling rapper, though there are some hints of more introspective themes (topics that he dives into much more currently, especially in his comics.) You won't be blown away by anything on these 3 short tracks, but, for an old relic, it's certainly worth the 10 minute listen. 

If anyone knows when this was released or the titles of the tracks (I have the cdr, but it contains no such info,) please let me know. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

New Music: Eiji Kwan & Esem (Los Feo Faces) - The Brothers Gloom

New very dope project from Eiji Kwan (formerly known as Everybody Knows) and Esem (the two most active members of Los Feo Faces.) 

While Eiji is no stranger to melancholy lyrics, I am a bit accustomed to hearing him bring in more upbeat, whimsical styles and flows, particularly when Esem is on the production. "The Brothers Gloom," however, is easily one of the darkest projects I've heard from either of the guys. Esem crafts a collection of cold, often haunting beats and EK, who recently left Portland for sunnier Bay Area weather, delivers some very chilling internal reflection raps. "My Son Looks 40 In The Face" is one of the best EK tracks of his career! A truly fitting fall project. 

Peep and cop "The Brothers Gloom" on Bandcamp

Friday, November 8, 2019

Very Special People - Very Special People Compilation (2004)

For today's release we have something "very special". The compilation / self titled album Very Special People is a showcase of some of Los Angeles' most talented hip hop acts, performing over live instruments and production by James Morris (you've heard his work on such songs as "Lake Release" by G&E and "B-Boy Real McCoy" by Jizzm featuring The A-Team).

You'll experience such amazing voices as Neila, Abstract Rude, AWOL One, Acid Reign and Existereo transforming funky instrumentals into instant classics. Almost all of these songs are above average in quality and undeniably catchy; this album is most definitely a keeper.

Thanks to Devo for sharing this originally, I believe it deserves another online debut. Until next week!