The Squeezebox: Pharoahe Monch- W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) (2011)

21 03 2011

Pharoahe Monch is back again on We are renegades, a war themed (Obviously) Hip Hop Concept Album Relating to Iraq and conspiracy theories. The concept quickly falls to the wayside however, and Pharoahe comes with some of his sickest flow and wordplay since Internal Affairs. tracks like Evolve, Clap or The Hitman Prove once again that he is one of the dopest MCs to ever touch a Mic. spitting dizzying complex barrages of lyrics that would leave some of the best tongue-tied attempting. The Beats on W.A.R. are uniformly Strong throughout as well; Half is produced by Australian Beat-maker M-Phazes while other tracks feature Heavyweights like Diamond D, Marco Polo, Exile, and so on drawing from familiar but rewarding Hip Hop Staples: Soul, obscure strings samples, Organs, etc.

W.A.R. also packs some Rock influences into its arsenal. Thick Live sounding drums mix with Bombastic guitar solos and choir singing invade the title track to create a thumping, Post Apocalyptic, Fight-Song. A rare hip hop album that is both progressive and consistently Great. It’s stacked with great Songs and many incredible what I like to call, “Oh Shit!” Moments from Monch‘s word-weaving.   The only thing that can detract from such a great album  is the common pitfall of some Unfortunate guest spots.   Detroit Rapper Royce Da 5’9‘ drops one of the corniest and disgusting verses in recent memory on Assassins, which will roll both your eyes, and stomach. And how about the rather off-sounding Citizen Cope feature on the chorus of The Grand Illusion.  None of this can detract from Monch’s Gift as a lyricist though, and he delivered A Hip Hop album that’s becoming more and more rare these days.

87/100 -Armordillo

Live Radio Performance of “Clap” off the new album (W.A.R.)

He straight up kills it.


Fresh Fish: Never MP- Not Never! (2011)

17 03 2011

While Diggin’ in the massive vaults that are Soundcloud, I came across this new album/Playlists from unknown Hip Hop beatminer Never MP titled Not Never! -A solid Release of Instrumentals from across the pond, great for freestyling or just loungin’ on a saturday afternoon. I must say, I love that dusty vinyl vibe on these songs. the samples all sound at least 50 years old! Dope!

Happy Patty’s day everyone! -Armordillo

The Squeezebox: Buckwild ft. Celph Titled- Buckwild Presents..EP (2010)

11 02 2011

Courtesy of my man MFuniverse, Check it–

Usually an E.P. will have a couple good tracks and a bunch of filler that were left off the album for good reason. That’s not at all the case on Buckwild’s  Presents EP, a companion release for his 2010 collaboration with Celph Titled, Nineteen Ninety Now.This is definitely a Buckwild release, and as such the production takes center stage.

Divided into two “sides” the first four tracks continue with Celph Titled featuring new tracks in the vein of Nineteen... Other than the LP version of “There Will Be Blood” there are no throwaways to be heard. If anything, it’s a wonder why some of these songs were left off. Following the aforementioned track is a remix which surpasses the original, capturing that classic 90’s sound that reminds you of warm weather and making your head nod. The posse cut features all of D.I.T.C. minus Big L, and two thirds of Brand Nubian’s original line up. These Songs are nothing short of incredible. It’s amazing to think that these beats sat around untouched for over a decade.
The second side is a compilation of 5 rare/unreleased remixes of singles from the early 90s/post-golden age of hip hop. Notable standouts are Diamond D’s collaboration with Tha Alkaholiks “The Next Level” and Kool G Rap & Nas’s “Fast Life”. The production has a darker, more Middle Eastern feel that gives the songs new life. This EP is a must for anyone who can’t get enough of the boom bap hip hop of the 90’s and fans of old D.I.T.C. like O.C., Showbiz & A.G. and Lord Finesse.



Trackrunners: Hip Hop Mixmas

24 12 2010

Happy holidays!

Mixmas Tracknukkah

1. Time’s Fly – Time Machine

2. B-Boy Mastermind- Guru & DJ krush

3. The Guidelines- Aceyalone

4. Rock Stars- Non Phixion

5. 360 Degrees (DJ Spinna)- Del tha funkee homosapien & Mr.Lif

6. Build- Diverse

7. Rap Beautician- Edan

8. Unlimited- Soul Position (Blueprint & RJD2

9. The Truth- Pharoahe Monche ft. Common & Talib Kweli

10. Bad News- Latyrx

11. Big Brother Beat-De La Soul Ft Mos Def

12. Setting the Example- Y Society (Insight & Damu the Fudgemonk)

13. Step up- INI & Pete Rock

14. Fulcrum (Edan Mix)- Mr Lif & Opio

15. Levitation- Electric Company

16. Epilogue- J- Live

The Squeeze box: Blockhead – Downtown Science (2005)

21 12 2010

Most underground hip hop fans probably know Blockhead as Aesop Rock’s favorite producer. Downtown Science sounds very different from any Aesop produced track, however. The familiar use of orchestral samples is still present but more restrained, and in many cases has been replaced by more electric sounding guitars. Blockhead uses a lot of strange sounds that come and go at a moments notice, but every song still has a solid foundation for this schizophrenic sense to work within.

Released in 2005 Downtown Science succeeds where many others have failed. Instead of trying to repeat the formula of his predecessors in instrumental hip hop from the mid 1990’s, Blockhead has his own unique style. This is a huge improvement over his previous effort 2004’s Music by Cave light. While that album sounds like a few gems drowning in a sea of boring mediocrity, these songs are multi-layered arrangements that reward repeated listens. The album starts with “Expiration Date” which uses a simple sample and heaving pounding drums. This is followed by the standout track “Roll Out the Red Carpet” which sounds like an updated science fiction version of Miles Davis. “Cherry Picker” “Good Block, Bad Block” and “Quite Storm” all continue the understated fragmented melodies and add to the album’s cohesiveness. The one exception is “The Art of Walking” where Blockhead takes a light-hearted detour into an homage to 70s funk.

What sets Science apart from a lot of modern day hip hop is Blockhead’s understanding of sped up soul samples. Often times these are used as the focal point of songs and end up making them sound whiny and annoying. In this case though, they are chopped up and pop in and out of the melodies instead of overwhelming them. Blockhead basically treats them like another instrument and this adds to the texture of the songs in a very enjoyable way. This album is probably not for everyone, but it deserves recognition for it’s originality. Fans of Cannibal Ox’s Iron Galaxy and Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus should find it enjoyable. 8/10


The Squeezebox: Qwel & Maker-Owl (2010)

14 12 2010

Continuing their ongoing collaboration Chicago natives MC Qwel and producer Maker produce their third and finest effort yet, Owl.Although only around a few years, Qwel has proven himself one of the best lyricists of this era. This typical cats member weaving complex, emotive Rhymes together with deft and adaptable flows at will, slow meditative rhymes one minute, intense spitfire delivery the next. despite this, his style can be taxing and unapproachable. Sometimes more concerned with battling his personal demons than pleasing the listener. with Owl however, he scales back some of his eccentricities and it makes for more relaxed out and consistent album than their previous records.

I swear, Maker Consistently impresses me on every release. Seemingly finding an entire new batch of unique samples and sounds each release to fit the project. This time his beats are more subtle and relaxed; scaling back some of the world-music melodies to leave space for His Partner to breath. You Aren’t being bombarded from two Fronts this time and it goes a long way. Strangely some restraint from both parties made for a more listenable, soulful, and ultimately better album. At a time when you have to dig deeper to find gems, Owl is a true gift; a new album to fill the void in hip hop.

8.5/10 -Armordillo

Squeezebox:Damu the Fudgemunk-Supply for Demand(2010)

9 12 2010

Talk about Prolific. D.C’s Damu the FudgeMonk, First Appearing with Insight in Y society on their 2007 album Travel at your own place released an album that takes the listener back to the early 90s.Combining dusty horn and keyboard samples with stand up bass and booming drums, Damu recalls the production style of Beat legends Pete Rock, Prince Paul, and early Premier for the 21st century. In little over 3 years since then Damu has released Album after Album of consistently strong instrumental Hip hop. From the free download albums Wonka beats,Spare time,&Overtime (A True man of the people) to his Magnum Opus How it should sound vol. 1&2. In such a short time he has proven himself to be one of best Beatminers of the decade and truly a link to the past for those of us wishing tribe still made records and MTV still played Music.

Supply for demand continues his winning streak of fantastic crate digging, while adding in some new ideas and evolving his sound. If you have his earlier albums you’ll notice somethings have changed with this release.The heavy Jazz influence is definit
ely still present but the arrangements are now murky and chaotic,the melodies are now more subtle and buried in the mix.Although the approach has changed slightly, it is far from alienating.The heavy Jazz influence on his work is still there for fans old and new. Damu also takes his turn behind the microphone proving himself a surprisingly solid MC on a couple of tracks. Whether ripping it about his hometown on DC Joint or just word weaving between the Bucktown horn sample and Suzanne Vega  on Bright Side, he proves himself better than 99% of Producers who think they can rhyme (here’s looking at you Kanye) and can hold his own with his peers. The Only Flaw to this album is the length: with only 9 only and a bunch of instrumentals, if feels more like an E.P. than anything. Still, it is likely to be one of the Underground releases of 2010 and another Notch on The Fudgemonk’s MPC. 8/10        -Armordillo

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