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On Sunday May 25, 2014, the annual Soundset Festival took place at Minneapolis’ Canterbury Park. The event featured an eclectic blend of hip-hop performances such as sets from Atmosphere, Wiz Khalifa, Nas, 2 Chainz, Chance the Rapper, EarWolf (Tyler, the Creator & Earl Sweatshirt), Cypress Hill, Roc Marciano, Flatbush Zombies, Shad, Snow the Product & more. Click through this slideshow to check out exclusive photos from this year’s event. All photos by Crave Club.

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Roc Marciano reveals the official tracklisting for his highly anticipated Marci Beaucoup LP, which is set for a December 10 release. This looks like a good one as guests are set to include Action Bronson, Alchemist, Boldy James, Quelle Chris, Blu, Freeway, Cormega, Ka and more. Roc will be handling the production himself on the project. Hit the jump for the full tracklisting. Read More

Track List Revealed for “A3C Volume 3″

 |  September 27, 2013
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With A3C Volume 3 hitting stores on Tuesday, iHipHop Distribution is now revealing the track list for the whopping 54-track compilation album.  Hit the jump to check out the track list.

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Action’s latest tape is set to drop on November 13th and it’s looking very promising. The project, Rare Chandeliers, is produced by The Alchemist and features 14 tracks with artists like ScHoolboy Q, Roc Marciano, Styles P, Sean Price, and more. Click ‘more’ for the full tracklist. Read More

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Artist: Copywrite

Album: God Save The King

Label: Man Bites Dog

Date: 2/28/2012

Copywrite of the Columbus, Ohio crew MHz combines his battle rap style with his newfound Christian beliefs on his fourth studio album, God Save The King.  Over the last 10 years Copy has released albums of varying success with critics and fans in The High Exhaulted (released in 2002 and re-released in 2010), Ultrasound: The Rebirth EP (2009), and The Life And Times Of Peter Nelson (2010.)  On his most recent and most well-rounded release, Copywrite returns to his battle rap origins that he shied away from on The Life And Times of Peter Nelson, supplying tracks packed full of punch lines, metaphors, and quotables.
 

Copywrite doesn’t ride solo on GSTK, as the album includes guest appearances from MHz members Tage Future and Jakki Da Motamouth as well as IllogicRockness Monsta of Heltah Skeltah, ToraeCasual, Evidence (of Dilated Peoples), Roc Marciano, and more.  The seventeen-track project features diverse range of beats from nine producers including two tracks from Wu-Tang affiliate Bronze Nazareth and four from Stu Bangas, among others.

 

As the album title suggests, faith and spirituality are a big part of Copywrite’s lyrical content.  Listeners are given a look at his internal struggles and experiences.  Copywrite attempts a range of styles over the course of the album.  The album opens with a track called “Post-Apocalyptic Request Box” which serves as a theatrical introduction to the theme of the project. Copywrite’s MCing abilities really shine through on tracks like “Swaggot Killaz” and the Khrysis produced “Union Rights.”  “Swaggot Killaz” takes a few jabs at rappers who constantly use the phrase “swag” while the MC effortlessly flows through comical punchlines (“hoes keep me on my toes like ballerina tights/think your on fire, Ricky Bobby, Talledega Nights“).  On “Union Rights,” Copywrite drops quotables in double-time, while taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to discussing how hard he works and how seriously he takes his music. He mentions the need to consistently put out material to hold his place in the game, which is probably his thought process behind releasing four projects in the last four years.

Tracks such as “J.O.Y” and “Yo! MTV Raps! (Money for Nothing)” featuring and produced by Copywrite’s label mate Jason Rose may appeal to a broader mainstream audience than a majority of his past works.  “Yo! MTV Raps!” is a remake of the 1985 Grammy Award winning single, “Money for Nothing” by British Rock band, Dire Straits. Copywrite’s 2012 version of hit includes a verse that runs through the titles of popular MTV shows with lines like “I birth MCs when I preach the message, so my MTV RAPS are SIXTEEN AND PREGNANT.”  “Golden State (Of Mind)” featuring Casual, Evidence, and Roc Marciano offers both a visitor and a resident’s point of view of the state of California, while the politically charged “White Democrats” featuring Mac Lethal is not far off sonically, as both songs stay in the vein of classic hip-hop.  “Synesthesia” is another thematic song and also the sole track produced by long-time collaborator RJD2.  It describes some of the sensations felt by those who have the neurological condition and even suggests that Kanye and Q-Tip are synesthetes themselves.

 

Recently in an AllHipHop.com interview, Copywrite explained that his future recordings will not contain foul language and will fall in the category of Christian music. He implies that this album represents a change in his beliefs that began when he was 16 years-old.  Copywrite’s newly expressed beliefs are most clearly demonstrated on tracks such as “Sorrow” and “Talk With Jesus.”  “Sorrow” featuring Illogic and Don Jaga expresses Copywrite’s contemplation on the meaning of life and the loss of his parents.  The project comes to a close with “Talk With Jesus.”  The track is reminiscent of Joe Budden’s Pray For Me” in that it illustrates both sides of a conversation between the rapper and God.  Copywrite’s serious lyrics and deep content over Poetiq Beatz’ upbeat production, which includes a sample from Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” (“born sinner, the opposite of a winner”) makes for a powerful final track.

 

Overall, God Save The King is a strong album, but it’s likely that a great deal of hip-hop fans may never have the chance to hear it due to the lack of mainstream notoriety surrounding Copywrite’s solo-career.  It won’t have a strong impact on today’s culture, but the lyrical content is extremely entertaining and well written.  I definitely recommend giving the project a listen as it appears that Copywrite will soon be changing his style to appeal to a very specific fan base. When asked why he is releasing an album that bridges his old content with his new beliefs, Copy stated “I feel like all of those fans I’ve built up over the years won’t just listen to me talking about God if I just came out with an album like that. I needed a bridge album.”  God Save The King surely finds a comfortable middle ground, making the album a well-rounded listening experience.  Who knows; with Christian rap growing in popularity, Copywrite may be able to find more commercial success in the future.  Then again, who knows if Copywrite will truly be able to leave behind the style his fans have become so accustomed to.

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Artist: Gangrene (The Alchemist + Oh No)

Album: Vodka & Ayahuasca

Label: Decon

Date: 1/24/2012

Never in my entire career as a music reviewer have I come across an album title more intriguing and more esoteric than Vodka & Ayahuasca.  For those who have little to no clue what the hell ayahuasca is, no worries.  As far as the album is concern, all you need to know is that The Alchemist and Oh No mysteriously conjured up this ancient brew from South America, combined it into a powerful cocktail with vodka, and dumped it into your phonographs to create a psychedelic, spiritual journey for listening pleasure. Whether that makes sense to you or whether you’re convinced vodka and spirituality belongs in the same sentence, again, no worries.  All will be explained.

In comparison to their last album Gutter Water, the production is grittier, grimier, and trippier than ever.  Although the album begins with the very forgettable cut “Gladiator Music,” which sounds more like a throwaway G. Rap cut than a Gangrene jam, Alchemist and Oh No amplify the heat until thermostats melt with their next track, “Flame Thrower.”   The instrumental, ironically, is icier and groovier in its tone than the title suggests, but in culmination with Al’s and Oh No’s poignant, plasma radiant verses, the track is a certified banger.  An obvious album highlight is their lead single “Vodka and Ayahuasca.”  Rumbling bass lines, dizzying scratches, and undulating guitar strings make this cut a head knocking sensation.  When the lead guitar crescendos into psychotropic madness, so too, does Gangrene when hammering the nail on the head with their “acid trip” rap lyrics.  Other stand outs from the album include “Drink It Up” featuring Roc Marciano and “Dump Truck” featuring Prodigy.  The real standout on this album, however, is “The Groove,” and Gangrene couldn’t have picked a better name for the record. The production is thick with booming bass, cascading piano patterns, and hallucinogenic, chopped samples, and it is arguably the most leading instrumentation that Oh No produced for the album.  To no surprise, the rap duo lyrically ups the ante with perhaps some of the sharpest lyricism fans may have heard yet from either two. Oh No swan dives first into the maelstrom he created throwing a few darts at the critics with lyrics like “hypnotize, criticize, but we get paper, critics lie, no surprise, they get no favors, it’s no surprise, we can rise major majority rules in the game, they cannot fade us!”  Afterward, The Alchemist closes the track with lyrical jujitsu and folds his adversaries into “spar submission.”

Although minuscule, there are a few cuts that slow the pace of the album.  In “Livers for Sale,” for example, Alchemist flies solo but unfortunately his verse fails to soar. Fortunately for listeners the track is brief, and while Al isn’t spewing garbage, hearing him tackle an entire track sounds awkward. “Dark Shades” featuring Evidence also scores points in the uninspired category, and while many probably would have expected a riveting verse from Evidence, he fails to live up to the expectation. Probably the most disappointing track on the album, however, is “Top Instructors.”  In terms of production, it’s by far the most monotonous and most trite track on the entire album.  Even Gangrene’s live wire flow couldn’t jump this dronish and boring track back to life.

Despite these blunders, Vodka & Ayahuasca is still a solid project that’ll probably end up being championed by die hard fans.   After listening to the entire album, you’ll realize that the album couldn’t have been more appropriately titled considering the chemistry between Oh No and The Alchemist.   The combined forces of the deadly duo will definitely have you laying in fetal position next to your speakers, and if the vibrant rumblings start sounding like a mystical shaman humming, you’re headed in the right direction. For Gangrene die hards, this is definitely an album worth adding to the collection and it will probably end up being celebrated in a majority of underground circles. However, due to the lack of promotion (they only have one official music video) and their heavy footing in the indie circuit, Gangrene surely won’t be making a dent on mainstream audiences anytime soon, and they likely wouldn’t have it any other way. Needless to say, Vodka & Ayahuasca is a joy ride that continues to get better from start to finish, especially while under the influence.

 Purchase Vodka & Ayahuasca on iTunes

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