5) Big Shug feat. M.O.P. and Fat Joe – “Hardbody” (Prod. DJ Premier)
At five this week we have a new track from Big Shug, “Hardbody,” featuring Joey Crack (Fat Joe) and M.O.P. of the famous “Ante Up.” Bringing lyrics that speak of the street life in Boston, MA, Big Shug makes it known that he has no problem using his hardbody, and all three in general are pretty much saying “don’t fuck with us.” The sole reason I picked this track is because it features a beat from the one and only, hall of famer, pound for pound greatest DJ ever: DJ Premier. Primo is the greatest, period.
Cons: I have this hatred for anything Boston, largely because of the Celtics, but I’m working on it.
4) 1982 feat. Big K.R.I.T. – “Lights Down” (Prod. Statik Selektah)
At four this week is a track from the duo 1982 (lyricist Termanology and producer Statik Selektah), “Lights Down.” I feel like the hook could have been better, but it features on the second verse one of my favorite MCs in Big K.R.I.T., who wasn’t on the original track on their album 2012. Statik Selektah doesn’t disappoint on the production with a smooth, laid-back beat. Perfect jam to bump in the summer. Enjoy.
Pros: Both verses get thumbs up.
Cons: Needed a better chorus.
3) Curren$y feat. Styles P – “WOH” (Prod. Harry Fraud)
Harry Fraud shows why his beats are in high demand on Curren$y’s new track “WOH,” off Spitta’s new EP Cigarette Boats and featuring SP the Ghost. I mean, Curren$y is cool and all, but I honestly checked out the song to hear Styles P’s bars, and Ghost proves again why he never lets me down. Again, though, Harry Fraud’s production of horns, bombastic bass and drum instrumentals is a perfect marriage.
Pros: Styles P’s verse, and Harry Fraud.
Cons: After hearing the song, I went back and checked out Cigarette Boats, which only had five total tracks. Sigh.
2) Nas feat. Mary J. Blige – “Reach Out” (Prod. Salaam Remi, Rodney Jerkins, DJ Hot Day and Nas)
Nas teams up with R&B legend Mary J. Blige on “Reach Out.” On a team-produced beat, Mary J. Blige’s vocals on the catchy hook serve as the perfect complement to Nas’ uplifting lyrics about escaping the shadows of his famous father to create a name of his own. Those vocals also work with the imagery he spits on verse two, about the luxurious spoils he has been afforded today as opposed to those who still experience the streetlife of Queensbridge, captured perfectly by Mary J as she sings, “I look into your eyes/I said I know you very well/I see a mirror of my life/A reflection of myself.” Music gets no better than this, ladies and gents.
Cons: It’s not July 17 yet. I feel a Nas classic is on the horizon.
1) Freddie Gibbs – “Face Down” (Prod. Develop)
Gangsta Gibbs is back, and it’s ski mask season! Out of Gary, Indiana is by far my favorite gangsta rapper out now, and he adds to my favorites with “Face Down.” Like most fans, I’ve been patiently waiting for him to drop his new mixtape #BabyFaceKilla, but with the help of Develop on the beat, he gives fans something to hold them over for a little longer while he works on his project. If you are unfamiliar with Freddie Gibbs, his content is truly for mature audiences, as he shares ballads of drugs, thugging and taking what he wants by any means necessary. He’s not for everyone, but he gave me my favorite mixtape of 2011 in Cold Day in Hell, so I wholeheartedly support him. CTE!
Pros: Beat. Teamed up with Young Jeezy, CTE’s future looks bright with Gangsta Gibbs on the roster.
Cons: Please release the mixtape already.
Mixtape of the Week
Cassidy – Mayhem Music: AP3
If I remember it correctly, it was the summer of 2005, right before I was set to start my freshman year at DePaul University, that I associated the Philly rap genre with Cassidy. In a sweltering black Ford Taurus that I had nicknamed Gladys, with my newly installed stereo system (you know, the one equipped with the removal face that made graphics), I played his album I’m a Hustla each and every day like it was my national anthem. I was transfixed by his delivery, punchlines and authenticity, and it was almost like his energy would transfer to me when I heard his music. So, you could imagine my excitement when I checked Datpiff this week for my weekly mixtape and saw he had released the third installment of his Apply Pressure mixtape series, Mayhem Music: AP3. And what I really appreciate about the mixtape is that it’s not oversaturated with guest features and didn’t flood Twitter, Facebook or any major music sites with advertisements for the release. It was like Cass saying, “Here fans, I got some new music for you. Like it or hate it, but I know my shit is tight.” Under-the-radar releases are something you don’t see too often these days, which makes me respect Cassidy even more. Away from the rap scene for a few years due to legal issues, allow me to reassure you that after listening to Mayhem Music: AP3, the Hustla is back!
Containing 22 tracks and three freestyles (over the beats from “Cashing Out,” “I Don’t Like” and “Same Damn Time”), he doesn’t deviate from the in-your-face persona that made me a fan back in the 100-degree hot box of a car I had back in ‘05. Chasing the fame and breaking into the mainstream often changes an artist and his style. Well, Cassidy gave a middle finger to that, and chose to remain true to his own. Unafraid to share his life on the streets of Philly, time in the pen or appreciation for seeing another day (like on “God is Good to Me”), my top tracks are: “Ain’t Gonna Happen,” “Do it Big,” “Mind of a Grinder,” “We Working” and “Believe in a Dollar”. I like Meek Mill and all, but Cassidy is the true champ of Philly in my book. My old broken-down Ford Taurus (R.I.P. Gladys) would attest to that too.