Before last week was derailed by the leak of Cancer 4 Cure, I was really questioning what I was going to write about during the last full week of April.  I was contemplating another NBA piece, but if the analytics on this website have taught me anything it’s that people don’t really give two shits about what I think about the blazers or sixers, which doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to stop writing about them, but it’s not the primary focus of my energy on here for the time being.  Fortunately, the end of the week brought some nice pieces of music to talk about a bit.

 Z-Man & G-Pek returned from the ether this week to drop In Case You Forgot, a follow up to their impressive 2005 album, Don’t Forget to Brag.  Z-Man is of course most known for the 2004 Bay Area underground classic Dope or Dog Food, but he did return a couple years ago to drop the enjoyable free EP Show Up, Shut Up, and Rap.  The new album is $7 bucks on bandcamp and well worth the funds if you occasionally (or frequently) enjoy a well constructed album with good beats and fun(ny) storytelling.  As always, the major selling point for me of putting an album on bandcamp is that you can listen to it in its entirety without downloading it.  If you’ve been sleeping on Z-Man entirely, I recommend streaming the tracks from In Case You Forgot, and picking up the free EP from 2010 to see what you think, and then you can go from there.  But all that’s out there from him is worth purchasing so support if you can.  It’s more important than ever in an era where more talented artists than ever are finding it financially imprudent just to make music.  If it was a little longer I would’ve definitely considered giving this album the full album review treatment, but in the spirit of quality versus quantity (which is pretty much my motto these days – no YOLO) it’s deserving of some good critical analysis and I hope it gets some out there.  Definitely one of those albums that makes for a nice Sunday afternoon listen or amusing conversation piece.

“Exist to Remain” – I Self Devine

Tipping my hand is not really my thing, and it’s possible that the album won’t live up to expectations, but if I had to place bets on an album receiving the full Hardwood Blacktop album review treatment over the next couple of weeks I Self Devine’s The Sound of Low Class Amerika seems like as safe a bet as any, short of R.A.P. Music.  While my sensibilities may have me coming off like a bit of a polito-rap nerd, between my anticipation of these two albums and appreciation of Billy Woods’ History Will Absolve Methat’s really not the case.  Other than Public Enemy’s first few albums, there have really only been a handful of heavily politically charge albums that have made their way into my regular rotation.  But in the same way that Reaganomics pushed some great political themes to the forefront of rap music, it would seem that the economic issues faced in the US currently, combined with their impact specifically on the lower class black community, and probably compounded by the digital age’s impact on the profitability of the music industry all seem to be creating a perfect storm for some pretty incredible politically charge rap music right now.  For the uninitiated I Self Devine, was formerly the frontman for the group Micranots as well as his collaboration with DJ Abilities, Semi-Official.  I Self has long been one of the most talented artists on Atmosphere’s Rhymesayers Entertainment and has released a slew of quality free mixtapes this year, in promotion of this upcoming album.  All I can really say about this album is as long as he’s saved an adequate amount of heat for the album, and didn’t blow too much quality material on the mixtapes, there’s no way this album fails.

Blockhead – The Robin Byrd Era

Also, although it technically comes out tomorrow.  I had a chance to catch-up with Blockhead on Friday night as he played a show in Philly opening up for some ungodly awful techno-electro somethingness.  I don’t know what the hell it was to be honest with you, all I know is I’ve never seen so many trustafarians do the let’s play hackey sack with invisible balls dance.  Blockhead played a great set though, and I had the chance to pick up an early copy of his new album Interludes After Midnight.  If you’re a fan of good instrumental hip hop albums, or an emcee who has liked Blockhead’s work historically, you’ll definitely enjoy this.  I told him I don’t think I really have the chops to review an instrumental hip hop album, but I do think it’s a really good release and I hope people will check it out and support his music.  Also, be sure to check out his blog, as aside from his humorous rants, he posts some cool little side projects of unreleased beats and stuff like that.

Last, and certainly not least, Open Mike Eagle has another free EP out there, with Rent Party Extension, which is a continuation of a series of small EP’s he’s been giving away after last year’s Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes.  I’ve listened to it a few times and haven’t been able to pick a standout track, because they’re all very solid pieces of music.  The theme of the album is really based on the notion that many kids grow up thinking that if they’re smart and they do well in school then that’ll lead to all the successes and luxuries of life, which of course is a load of crap that we were all lead to believe as children, and one most of us probably will pass on to our own children.  As a parent it gave me some pause for how I may want to approach things with my son (which is probably not high praise to most rappers), but there’s also a good dose of humor and truth to the messages Open Mike Eagle conveys here.  If you’re looking for your nerd-out art rap release of the week, this is definitely it.

  1. Conspirator was awesome! Jk. Despite the attention to your music reviews, don’t stop your sports talk, you’re great at both

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