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.

Exploding Octupus [Video]

ILL BILL, if you know him, you know him well. Necro’s brother and longtime spitter aficionado ILL BILL has been pushing his version of Brooklyn hip hop for going on two decades. In recent years I’ve found his videos to be a little too linear to truly appreciate, though his rhymes have always been performed with a weighted breath that truly rivals some of hip hop’s most respected emcees. This video is by no means a stereotypical one,ILL BILL plays the Ted Kaczynski (Unabomber) card and gives pause to the notion that technology and its proliferation is all good. Nothing is all good, and you get the sense that Ill Bill is not a huge Instagram guy. Video spoke to me in a big way, looking forward to the album.

 ILL BILL’s latest solo LP, “THE GRIMY AWARDS” CD/DVD, hits stores in February.

This Beef Was A Skirt Steak

So how often is a diss track listenable? The answer is almost never, especially if you have zero interest in the artists in the actual tussle. Personally you’d have to go back to that Hova-Nas situation to get me hype about some beef (Hova bodied him, for the record). So I was uber impressed when I heard Joey Bada$$’s response (above) to Lil B’s misplaced diss track (below). Apparently Lil B took issue with a verse from Pro Era affiliate Capital Steez on a track called “Survival Tactics“. This is the verse:

“They say hard work pays off, well tell the based god don’t quit his day job”

Lil B’s effort sounds en par to pretty much everything Based God does, quantity over quality, eccentricity over performance. As far as Bada$$ is concerned, it took him 24 hours to record this banger of a response. Considering Capital Steez took his own life this past Christmas Eve, I have a feeling inspiration wasn’t hard to elicit.

It’s beef like this that makes me thankful I’m vegetarian.


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.

ZIF Video Of The Week: The Black Opera: “Fxckin Problem” [Video Dramatization]

I love this video, from concept to delivery, the conscious minded Black Opera put an ironic spin on what truly constitutes a “Fxckin Problem” in our society. It’s tracks like this that make me wonder how far sound minded rappers like these guys are from mainstream appreciation. Considering the disinterest in content, the beat’s certainly been embraced, and they sound damn good over it. Yes, better than A$AP & Co.

Here’s the message that accompanied the video, for the slower cats out there, the first message is laced with irony and insincere wit. They are both the from the same source.

“Fxck what the title say tho…This aint that earthy ass conscious Black Opera shit cuh. This that ratchet ass swag shit cuh. This that Black Opposites shit my nig! Woo! Trill level just passed 3000 and rising. My nigga Andy MADD behind the camera and shiiiiit. We poppin pills and clockin mills. We trynna make that Illuminati money my nigga. WE DEM ILLUMINATI  MONEY NIGGAS!! HAA! Now that’s REALLY shining bruh!! Soon as we get rich enough to get away with lip syncing at the inauguration my nigga…SOON AS!! We gone deck the studio walls out wit all gold errything….nigga fxck yo MacBook, we gone have wallpaper made from real gold cuh. Woo! With blood diamond studs my nig!! Dead Ass. Real niggas only, no fxck boys allowed. We all got fxckin problems, but if you got a fxckin problem with us you can get handled just like the nigga in the video, Biiiiitch!!”
In times like these, Dark Comedy is no laughing matter. So with all jokes aside, we wanted to put a satirical spin on A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problem” in order to address current events and issues. Events and issues that include the school shooting in Connecticut, gun control, mental health, and America’s prescription drug addition amongst others. RIP to everyone that lost their lives in the Newtown, CT school shooting and the innocent lives lost everyday in these streets and around the world.

Smoke & Mirrors

It looks like Cruel Summer brought some eclectic cats together. I always believed that when Clipse had their content on point, it was hard to find a better rap tandem. Taking on this conscious message over a classic !llMind track is certainly not the typcial way to the top in 2013, give them some credit for that. After producing “The Morning” off the compilation and now this track with Re-Up, it’s apparent !llmind is going to continue to make G.O.O.D. music.

Eventually It Becomes Syrup

When you’re forging a path of fire while burning yourself alive, you may want to consider how scorching Hot Sugar is right now. He was covertly inducted into the ZIF of Fame last year, which really just means we’ll post just about anything this guy is putting out. Yes, this counts.

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 Incestuous Relationship Between Chief Keef, Pitchfork, And Guns


Watching our President lay down the initial groundwork on major gun control legislation this morning was surely met with mixed emotions across the diverse board of these United States. There is no doubt that the highly publicized mass shootings that have catapulted this discussion onto Obama’s desk will dominate debates about the President’s unilateral legislative action. However, it would be outright ignorant and even somewhat racist to ignore the elephant in the room when it comes to guns in America; urban neighborhoods across this country are plagued by social issues that more often than not end in gun-related deaths. Nowhere is this phenomenon more exemplified than in the city of Chicago. Last year there were 506 homicides in the Windy City, most of which were the result of gun shot wounds. This year the city is on a two-a-day pace, about 200 more homicides than 2012. Needless to say, not everyone has been a victim to this deplorable statistic, some, including Chicago native and teen rap sensation Chief Keef, have successfully homogenized their music with gun violence. His videos and music are a virtual who’s who in the Chicago gang culture and his involvement came to a head when he taunted the death of a rival rapper on Twitter only days after the release of a video calling out Keef and his crew. His music video, I Don’t Like, was shot entirely in his grandmother’s house due to the fact that he was under house arrest for brandishing a gun in front of police officers while resisting arrest, it is riddled with gun references and boasts a hearty 23 million views.

Since the taunting tweet, Chief Keef has secured his major record deal and released his first album, Finally Rich via Interscope Records. No doubt Interscope recognized a pay day when they saw one and the desire to sign a rapper with a violent rap sheet is by no means breaking new ground in the industry. It’s still blood money though, and for that someone over there should sleep less. A new twist to the usual story was the involvement of a media source, in this case music power player Pitchfork Magazine, in the capitalization process. Pitchfork runs an interview series called ‘Selector’ whereby they interview an artist in somewhat candid settings. Pitchfork’s ‘Selector’ experience with Chief Keef took place at a Chicago gun range where a few guns were popped off by both Keef and Pitchfork staff in between some straight up horrendous questions. The interview was virtually unnoticed by most, though plenty of bloggers chimed in on the lack of moral fortitude the publication had selecting the controversial location. Since then, Pitchfork has pulled the video from their archives and issued an apology for their role in perpetuating the Keef experience in light of all these actual murders happening around him. Chief Keef was arrested yesterday in light of that Pitchfork interview, apparently the act of him holding a rifle in the video violated terms of his probation. Pitchfork has also been subpoenaed by the court to hand over the video footage in question.

Nobody gets a pass here. Chief Keef doesn’t get a pass on account of him being 17 years old and/or being caught up in the streets. Interscope doesn’t get a pass for simply being a label focused on music (everyone knows that it’s all about artist development, period), and worst of all, Pitchfork certainly doesn’t get a pass for capitalizing/publishing a highly insensitive video that will result in this most fortunate arrest. These are the players in the gun control debate America, the players you won’t see on today, but that do very much drive the pathological problem that is gun violence in our urban centers. You want to do something for this country and our gun problem, start by passing on this kid’s projects and being wary of who your tastemakers are, Pitchfork is on many of your Twitter feeds, unfollow them, take a baby step. Because when media outlets begin dictating your musical preferences at the cost of lives on our streets, that’s that shit ‘I Don’t Like’.

Best Bliv

There’s something about Kung Fu and hip hop that make it seem like they were handcrafted to exist for one another. ZIF underground fave, OhBliv has been steady releasing music that make our respective playlists, but these visuals he’s been accompanying them with are starting to become a significant part of the pleasure of consuming them. Considering I would have ended up bumping this while watching some random Kung-Fu flick (Super Gang anyone?), I’m thankful for the prep work. It’s like fast food for hip hop junkies.

Follow the wondrous sounds of OhBliv. This track is off Spirit Daps. Stream below.

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