Jackin Jill


I shall not front. This post is inspired by the fact that it’s International Woman’s Day. Fittingly, this track from Mello Music Group emcee Substantial is a part of a dedication album to the illustrious Jill Scott, a woman worthy of recognition on all 365 days frankly. The tribute project is called “Jackin’ Jill“, very witty title indeed. If this track is a good indicator of how the rest of the project is composed, it’s safe to say Mello Music found themselves a goodie with this MC. Substantial has a hell of a back story, one that is punctuated with his battle with cancer, I included that verbiage after the jump, inspiration all around on this joint.

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Genre Setting by Top Bananas


Looks like the heat wave that hit Los Angeles today can be applied to its artists as well. ZIF fave Top Bananas drops a remix worthy of starting your weekend off with. I don’t know much about Alex Clare, however, the track has that hard to define sound that has come to define TB’s releases. Apparently this remix was the first track that fit into the genre “FARnB” that was started by the man himself. I’ve heard nothing of this, but considering my appreciation of Top Bananas and his proximity to our HQ, I’ll be sure to ask.

Blog Love (Shit’s Easy)


Disclaimer, this may be the worst song we’ve ever posted (probably not, but up there). When sitting down with an aspiring artist, discussions often revolve around logistical problems, one such obstacle seems to be ‘getting out there’. What concepts are going to make them distinct enough to get some attention among the masses? Here’s an idea, pick a holiday, make a track about it. I recall sitting down with Singapore Kane and telling him that putting out a MLK tribute track on MLK Day would be a good look, especially in a SEO sense. Well, kudos to artist, Nyemiah Supreme, your track about dismissing love just got some, see, shit’s easy son.

Oh, and I don’t mean to utterly dismiss this artist, I listened to some other material, and frankly some of her tracks sound eerily like Azealia Banks, that’s good, right?

Love (and crap) Is In The Air


Wow, there is a lot of Valentines themed crap out there today on the interwebs. Blu dedicated a mixtape to the theme and countless others are releasing tracks or thoughts that just ooze ‘love’. This track from The Black Opera gets a little deeper with the whole concept that is love, breaking down the subjective dialogues that occur within all of us when assessing our partners to/that be. This track probably won’t be playing in the background when you’re sitting down for dinner tonight or the festivities afterwards, but then again, who wants to be that guy? Go break the mode, sit down with your significant other, listen to the track, and discuss your own inner thoughts about your own so-called love. While your parents listen to White Opera tonight, why not go Black, you’ve been a rebel since you left the crib, act accordingly.

Kings of NY?


So as many of you know, we at ZIF do a lot more than post a random piece of work once in a while. As a full service artist development agency, we are constantly looking for ways we can integrate ourselves into up and coming artists and make an impact on their career trajectory. That being said, we’ve been busy this week satiating clients. Okay, caveat installed.

But not so busy that I can’t take a brief moment to highlight this single off the new The Doppelgangaz album, Hark. As I’ve mentioned before, [bold statement alert] they are my favorite rap act out of NYC. For the record, they’re big overseas. It’s a good litmus test actually, anytime a rap act is big in Europe but relatively unknown Stateside you can bet they are spitting some truth. For those that remember what rap looked like in that town before A$AP, this is your ticket. The new album drops March 15th, if this single is an indication of quality on the rest of the project, I have a feeling their presence won’t be so damn Eurocentric.

Oldie But Goodie


I always feel so left out when Throwback Thursday’s roll around. Don’t get it twisted I appreciate paying homage to the past, frankly, that’s where all the damn gold is. I just always end up having a mental breakdown when I try and pick just one track to showcase, when there’s a plethora of choice, I usually stumble. So, thank you OME, for making this easy. Dope track, dope remix. I’ve said this time and time again, this guy doesn’t make enough music to supply the demand.

This That Shit That Freed The Slaves


Alright, first some disclaimers. I’m not a 2 Chainz guy, I rock zero jewelry and I wouldn’t change my rap moniker if my life depended on it (I went by Drake circa 1997). Secondly, before you lambaste me with racial stuff, the title of this post was outright plucked from a commentor on this track’s Soundcloud page. Having said that, this is that shit that freed the slaves man! I guess I can’t keep saying I hate mashups and continue to propagate it all over ZIF. But Scott Melker, founder of The Melker Project  has been pushing the right fusion formula. First ingredient, an eclectic as possible combination of artists. “Skeetwood Mac” is the first in a series of EPs being released by The Melker Project, each showcasing different classic artists. As the name implies, this EP is comprised of five Fleetwood Mac songs, each mashed up with Hip Hop and R&B standards. The project is available for your downloading pleasure starting 2/4.

Spelling Caine


So, you downloaded the latest product from G.O.O.D Music and you’re overly surprised at how into this mixtape you are. Here’s the thing, considering the project has production from Yeezy, Harry Fraud, !llMind and Jake-One, you should be impressed. Pusha T has successfully catapulted himself out of the pigeon hole that The Neptunes (oh, they produce a track on this too) had placed him in. Now, many haters out there, including justifable Kanye haters are going to say that this is much ado about nothing, that the Twitter hype (which is extensive) surrounding this ‘mixtape’ is nothing more than a by -product of Kanyeshian fever. No doubt a Kanye co-sign will do much for your career (see Cyphi Da Prince). Alas, said hate would be premature and misinformed, this album bumps extremely hard, and is surely appreciated by both Main, Wall, and The Street. This Jake-One joint is my fave, though that !llMind one is also bath salts.

Pusha T – Take My Life feat. Andrea Martin [Produced by Jake-One]

One logistical point slash thought. What is up with the multiple versions of spelling for “caine”? I’ve seen both Cain and Caine, including on Pusha T’s own tweets/social networking push. Seems minor yet amateur hour. Speaking of different ways to spell “caine”, it would be a misstep on your behalf not to acquaint yourself with Singapore Kane’s mixtape “Wrath of Kane”, a ZIF sponsored project from a ZIF HOFer. Here be the links.

Download: Pusha T – Wrath of Cain(e)

Download :Singapore Kane – Wrath of Kane

StraightFace, Curvy Music


The beauty of working an ‘underground’ blog is that you get the standard credentials that allow you to interact with successful mainstream artists AND you get a plethora of submitted work from that next generation of replacements, i.e. the underground itself. Recently I came across some music from a rapper out of Athens, GA called StraightFace.  I don’t know much about this cat (his website won’t help you), so I’ll stick to the music here. As this single (below) demonstrates, this artist does not make your father’s sort of hip hop. This isn’t boom bap, backpack, hyphy, trap rap or any other ‘genre’ you have come to identify as hip hop. This music falls outside of the placid margins dictated by industry elites, as indicated by the Tame Impala beat, who’s a self-proclaimed maker of psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock music. Amidst the instrumental debauchery StraightFace is able to lay down some well placed lyrics with depth; a little God speak, a little ‘I still think about that girl’ talk, and plenty of questioning of purpose. I know this sounds crazy town, but trust me, take the path that is off beaten, mix it with a little of your unique creative interpretation of things and you’ll end up with product worth slanging. StraightFace forever? We’ll see, good start though.

S/O to the man himself, he seems to be doing his own PR, which would explain his persistence on Twitter. Keep your eyes peeled for his forthcoming, debut LP entitled Forever, later this year.

Half The Guild Is More Than Half As Nice


Here be a most randomly pleasant release from Takstar and Dun Dudnik (this man is harder to find than Manti’ T’eo’s phone records), two of the four illustrious members of The Guild. You probably won’t find a pair of musical minds less committed to turning your heads than these two, but there is a certain ‘je ne sai quois’ that I can appreciate regarding ambivalence like that. Yet another dope instrumental patiently waiting to be outright grabbed from an unknown emcee looking to make a name for themselves. Follow the sounds of Takstar on his Soundcloud, you’ll find plenty of potential booty.

The Racism of Suicide When It Comes To Rappers


You ever notice the disturbing reactions to the suicide of a rapper? I often hear somebody say something along the lines of “what was his problem? He was a rapper!” Perhaps a few jokes about how said rapper must not “have had enough bling” or perhaps a comment about how piss poor their content was. Yes, I feel confident saying, when rappers kill themselves, it’s met with a dehumanizing dismissal from the general public. As if the convolution of a rapper’s lifestyle could never rival the complexity of suicide. A little over a week ago, Seattle based rapper Freddy E. killed himself, prior to doing that he left a few chilling tweets.


Many were to quick to blame his apparent failed relationship with Toronto based rapper Honey Cocaine. Although she was quick to dismiss that notion as sheer ignorance, she did drop this track today which certainly sounds like a goodbye to Freddy at the very least. The track is a pretty good manifestation of what Honey can do lyrically (think Nicki Minaj without the multiple personality issues), but more importantly it’s a solid memento of the fact that Freddy was a person (Frederick Eugene Buhl) who died too young for most of us to judge without prejudice. Just another reason to appreciate that the word “rapper” is a label used to pigeon hole certain musicians into a place where they can be simplified into a statistical punchline.

Honey Cocaine – He’s The One (ft. Roxie LS) Prod. The Midi Mafia

Sabbaticals and such


So I was granted a two week leave off the plantation, and ZIF suffered the consequences. Between the Newtown shooting and the general malaise that tends to define my holiday experiences  I admit, opining about music, culture and life itself has not been a priority. Having said that, we at ZIF are busy behind the scenes working on some projects I’m eager to share with you, mums for now though.

Now, onto this REKS track. I was put onto REKS by the big homie Singapore Kane, and I can say, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Nobody out there is currently working as hard as this cat right here. He must live in the studio because it’s non-stop releases when he’s not on tour. This track is off the forthcoming “Revolution Cocktail” mixtape which will be released on iTunes on 1/22/13 (mixtape releases on iTunes trip me out). Singapore has also been in the studio with REKS recently, look out for that banger of a collabo on his upcoming work, Waves N Shades, no doubt Beantown’s finest right there.

Hit the jump to peep some footage of REKS I took a few years ago when he was around my way.

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In-Flight Movie


Somebody get more Nocando tracks on Spotify, chop chop. This emcee has been bending my ear since I first caught a show back in ’08 (Low End possibly, back then they sold spiked brownies, so I don’t truly recall). Like many indie artists with ample time and creative license, it’s been hard to keep track of all creations. They seemingly appear out of nowhere and often are accompanied by a great anecdote. I’ll let the maestro describe his motivation for this one.

I flew regularly for 3 years straight. I still fly regularly, just not as much. In these 3 years I took over 250 flights. It sounds glamorous now but it was lonely, I found it difficult to relate to people, I got sick a lot and had a tweekers sleep schedule. Ironically on an International flight to either Japan or Australia I saw the movie up in the air for the 1st time, It made me sad as FUCK! With all of that I managed to make a love song out of it.