Freddie From Gary Talking About Mike From Gary

Freddie Gibbs is from Gary, Indiana, so was the Jackson Family. When I first heard Gibbs, he was in the business of constantly referring to his Gary roots despite his displacement to the City of Angels. I wondered if he was in a perpetual state of internal strife, battling the unrealistic bar that had been set by the Jackson clan decades ago. I pictured him bumping  MJ in his ipod holding a sign saying “Hollywood or Bust” at the local Greyhound station in Gary. Then of course I got swept away by his music, for the record, I deem him to be the most underrated rapper (currently unsigned) with major label appeal out there. His smooth voice is paralleled by his effortless flow pattern which is laced with precision lyrical content. I’ve said this before, but Freddie Gibbs is the quintessential “your rapper’s favorite rapper”, he’s so on point, you’ll forget that he came from a small town in the Midwest famous for birthing Michael Jackson….until now…

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.


Spit on this video, Alexander

I hate to pigeon hole and overly simplify, but here’s another prime example of a Bay Area lyricist redefining the role of ‘conscious rap’ in Century two-one. (Yes, I’m looking at you Rey Resurreccion.) From what I can recall, Alexander Spit has been doing his thing for a minute, I’m talking Myspace era stuff. His on the verge status has been quietly picking up steam in ’12, his addition to the Decon Records outfit certainly helped. This video is DIY gold, and is off his upcoming Full length LP – A Breathtaking Trip to That Otherside, due for release 1/29/13. Just another reason I hope the Mayans were wrong.

The Afrikan Space Man


Ras G is the #1 ranked astronaut in the Afrikan Space Program. For those of you who can’t peep your favorite cosmonaut at Low End Theory on the regular, it is a must to check in with this new and free EP, download it in it’s entirety here. Also, we are lining up some time with Open Mike Eagle to discuss his movements, including his recent trip with Ras G to Uganda, sounds ridiculously intriguing.

Cool Kids: Still Cool?


I attended an URB Magazine listening party for the Cool Kids back in ’08 I believe, back when URB actually had an office, and a publication for that matter. I recall the overwhelming response the crowd had when “Black Mags” was performed live by the young duo. I thought to myself, “this is great, but do these guys have staying power?” Well, they went on to forge one of the more meteoric rises in recent hip hop memory. The kids were quickly dripping in major tour money and thrust into the MTVU harbor as a flagship group. But much like Outkast, solo projects often reveal areas of concern previously overshadowed by the necessary concessions made during the creative process as a group. Let me first say, that Chuck Inglish is clearly a wunderkind when it comes to production, his list of clients has reached astronomically respectable proportions. However, Mikey Rocks, now Sir Michael Rocks, has left with me some pangs when presented with his new solo material. First of all, I’m not a Mac Miller fan, and Mikey’s decision to open up for him on his tour along with the recent joint they dropped is just bad looks all around. Secondly, I feel like Sir Mike is sounding more and more like a fusion of just too many artists out there. Think Curren$y meets Casey Veggies meets Wiz. There was a time when I could tell you exactly what Mikey Rocks sounded like and what made him unique, of course he was embedded within a duo at that time and I was reading a magazine that doesn’t exist anymore. Judge this track as you will, it’s the first leak from “Lap Of Lux 1.5, which will be available via on Thursday, December 6th, here

I actually don’t hate this track, I do however believe it stands out not. I think that the production on this EP is strong, Harry Fraud and Chuck should carry this into a successful drop. I just hope Mikey has something to say about it as well.

Ab-Soul-Ute Gold

Leave it to the TDE team to drop a track that gives me a damn good reason to buck the NYC trend on ZIF. Another reference rich set of bars from TDE’s lead off hitter, Ab-Soul. For the record the fine folks at 2DBZ have got themselves a solid freestyle series going, unlike the effort DJ Booth has been trying to blast for years. Oh, and this might sound weird, but Josh The Goon is my favorite engineer, his mixes are consistently cleaner than your average, this one included. Good work Angelino’s, though for the record Ab-Soul’s not really feeling this track.

 Ab-Soul – Absolute Assassin [Soul Assassin Freestyle Sessions]

Oh, and in other Ab-Soul Twitter news, he just nabbed a feature with J. Cole. Look out for that.

If Myka Only Knew

I used to work with a young producer who was a bit of a hobo. Extremely talented young lad, but always in need of a place to sleep, quick to jump in on a cypher too. He used to house sit Myka 9’s apartment in Santa Monica here and there, and it was through him that I was exposed to the ugly truth of the rap game. Talent and hard work gets you a two bedroom apartment in need of a cleaning lady. Myka has been making music that counts since the early 90’s via Freestyle Fellowship acclaim. That’s some pedigree right there. Needless to say, popular success has always alluded the veteran emcee. I’m pretty sure this second project with Factor, “Sovereign Soul” via indie players Fake Four Inc, is a step towards the limelight. Pre-order the project here and you get a dope t-shirt out of it, that and the peace of mind that you may be upgrading Myka’s living situation.

The Hangover (sans overpaid Caucasian actors)

So I’ve certainly been following the necromantic fancies of NY based rap group Flatbush Zombies. Needless to say we believe that they are a fundamental component of the rap renaissance taking place in New York today. In my opinion this group will do well because they are doing something that is fundamental to being successful with music nowadays, namely, creating a vision and consistently running with it. This “vision” can also be identified as a “world” and you saw guys like Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y do similar things. In the case of those commercially successful acts the illustrated world consisted of flying on airplanes and blazing bales of marijuana. Another example of this type of branding is with Joe Budden, his “world” literally consisted of his commitment to being unapologetic about pretty much everything, fans who could relate to that apathy bought in. Machine Gun Kelly and his youthful “Lace Up” take on YOLO is another prime example. For Flatbush Zombies it seems their world is a hazy place where partying and rapping make love often with the assistance of drugs and plenty of it. It’s kind of like party rap if you were already dead. Surely not everyone will jump on this hearse, but if the success of the aforementioned acts are any indication, I expect the zombies to follow suit.

Download this track here.

You can follow the moaning and lumbering @FlatbushZombies

Potassium D Anyone?

Ah, good old TopBananas, you’ve always made timely insertions into my playlist. Put simply, L.A./SoCal emcee TopBananas passes the eyeball test. He produces his own music, his tracks regardless of what randomness he’s throwing in there are always listenable, and frankly he screams nice guy. Not to mention he once mentioned our blog in one of his videos (rappers note: this buys you absurd shelf life on The Serengeti). Seriously though, this new track off his upcoming mixtape “Fire Sale” truly caught my attention, doesn’t dude sound like radio material (in a marketable kind of way, not mainstream shit kind of way)? He’s always had a great ear for what’s hot on the proverbial street, if he’s been packed away in his lab somewhere cooking, I guarantee you this mixtape is going to be fire.

The Opposite of a Duran Duran Song

There isn’t a rapper over 35 that still brings me joy and relevant music the way P does. (2 Chainz fans, STFU). That being said, this animated equivalent of his album cover (Mic Tyson) is yet another ingenious way to repackage the Duck Down legend.

The album  is out October 30th on Duck Down Music.
Fans can pre-order the Deluxe-Edition Album at iTunes today:

Munch on Monch’s Bullet [Review]

Speaking like a President from the bullets point of view, Pharoahe Monch lays down this beautifully produced and perfectly political banger. In the midst of feigned excitement over 2 party politics, this first single can give hip hop fans confidence about the platform of the Pharoahe’s anticipated album PTSD.

For Pharoahe Monch fans, the single ends the story of this personified bullet  begun with the tracks Stray Bullet and When the Gun Draws (video below).
During a time when I can’t seem to get the voices of presidential hopefuls out of my head due to millions of dollars in campaigns and constant news coverage, it is nice to be able to play tracks like these loud and hope the beats get stuck to drown out the propaganda. Been a fan of Mr. Monch and his anti-establishment stylings since the days of Soundbombing & will be happy to check the full album when it drops. Until then, show your support by purchasing the single on iTunes.

Follow the man on Twitter @pharoahemonche

Kisses & Bullets – Lady T

The Rap Game Dregs One

I worked Bruin Bash last night and watched thousands of pimply faced consumption machines aka freshman effectively gloss over the headliners, Los Rakas and Chiddy Bang. Both of those groups kick serious butt and are very much ZIF approved. So it made me think about how even hybrid commercial acts like Chiddy Bang hit rough patches when it comes to satiating younger audiences. Makes you wonder, who in their right mind is out there pushing music if they know it won’t be commercially successful? Well, ask Dregs One, the Bay Area emcee has been pushing his music with a non-commercial message for half a decade. My guess is that the answer involves having a full time job and something about love for the “game”. Either way, I’m glad I live in a world that isn’t pre-programmed to suit the needs of young people with abounding funds and zero gustation , oh wait…

This new single “Easy Rider” is off his EP, Mood Swings, produced by BIG Shawn of the underground group Bored Stiff. It’s a song about coping with the stress that life and society throws at us. Apparently the EP drops “soon”, nice.

ZIF Flick: Machine – Wow (I Can’t Believe…Demons)

When I was first approached by Machine to check out his new album Selfish Bastard, I balked at the depression rap. For christ sakes, I’ve had a plethora of dark patches, who wants to listen to music inspired by such disenchantment? Unless of course having an honest conversation about emotional distress could be an artistic journey worthy of merit. This is what I found to be true when it comes to Selfish Bastard, an album that encapsulates a moment in time for a man, a very raw picture of an artist. His unique flows and keen ear for beats (check that Denmark Vessey heat L.A.P.T.) make his album more than listenable, frankly if you’re on a treadmill you’ll forget he’s spewing about breakups and jumping off bridges (he doesn’t actually do that). That being said, when I shot the music video I found it eerily simple to jump into that “mode”, the dark cave. The video is a playful interpretation of what it truly means to conceptualize not only the overarching desire to commit the act but the actual logistics as well. There is a comedic element I was hoping to convey, death can be funny, tragically we all know this. As always, we’re queuing up goodness, artists looking for video production hit us up here.

Follow the cerebral vagrancy of Machine @TheMachineRaps

Read an unbiased review of Selfish Bastard over at Mishka & a somewhat biased one at Vice.