Too many MCs, not enough mics, they say. The hip hop game, they also say, has become oversaturated. Even when focused on a specific region, as we are on the birthplace of hip hop and its immediate surroundings, the sheer volume of music fluttering throughout the internet at any one given time, can be staggering. The line between mixtape and album and EP is fuzzier than ever, and it’s difficult to discover good music, when there is so much noise to filter out. We suffer for this, as an online publication with love for, and ties to, the New York Metropolitan Area’s hip hop universe, we are constantly bombarded with new releases to sift through, some of which are worth our time, others, not so much. We could post more frequently, but we insist on spending time with any release we plan to write about, so that when we co-sign something, it actually means something (a novel idea in today’s ‘music journalism’ world…)
So, in the spirit of our very well received “10 Must See Videos By New York Area Hip Hop Artists,” and our ongoing “5 Reasons Why New York Hip Hop Doesn’t Suck,” we have compiled a rundown of recently released albums, mixtapes and EPs that we have spent some time with, and feel are worthy of sharing. We want nothing more than to put people on to something new, something dope, something unexpected, so here are some known, and possibly unknown, artists and groups that we think you should spend a little time getting to know through their music. Enjoy, and feel free to let us know what you think we got right, or what you think we might have missed.
The Great Debater [Mixtape]
We’ve spotlighted Skyzoo’s work before, and got a chance to see him thoroughly rock a crowd while down in Austin for the 2011 SXSW Music Festival. When we reviewed his album The Salvation, we called Skyzoo a “thoughtful, reflective and layered lyricist,” noting that his delivery perhaps didn’t always live up to the content. Well, I had no such concerns on The Great Debater, as Skyzoo did a fine job riding the beats throughout. On that note, beat selection was strong, which helps, as Skyzoo spits lines you really need to pay attention to, so good grooves by folks like !llmind, 9th Wonder, Oh No, Best Kept Secret and Swiff D helped keep me engaged. We’ve already been enjoying Skyzoo’s recent work, so The Great Debater simply serves to validate our endorsement. If you’re on the fence a bit like we once were, or haven’t yet heard Skyzoo, The Great Debater is a damn fine project to spend a little time with. Standouts include “Written in the Drums,” “We Here,” “Expensive Habits,” (featuring Jesse Boykins III), “Could’ve Struck The Lotto,” “Definitive Prayer,” and “Test Drive.” (Bonus points for an interesting “making of” documentary.)