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Glaciers of Ice is back for this glorious new decade, with a few glorious new releases to tell you about. Gloriously. Glory be unto you.
Brooklyn MC Bisco Smith's new album, The Broadcast (Ivee Studios), is a lively combination of hip-hop, electro, d'n'b, and dub beats courtesy of producer J.vegus. Lead single "Morning Breath" combines breakbeats with layers of synths and bass, Bisco vigorously spitting over this futuristic bed of forward-thinking funk. Guests you've probably never heard of join in the fray on "Railroads"--Human?, Esen, and Grimace. But The Broadcast doesn't need any help--Bisco's vision alone carries it.
I'm sure Lazlo Supreme's intentions were good in combining rock riffs and rap ala a more hard-rocking Roots or something, but it's just not working. Opening track "Beep Beep" off their new album, Evil Made Easy (self-released), starts out nicely enough with a fast-paced drum beat and meandering organ line, but when the chorus kicks in… No, thanks. Toussaint Morrison's vocals leave much to be desired. The easy jazz "Fly Drexler" and just plain cheesy "The Girl from the Coffeeshop" don't help the situation much, hammering home the band's missteps.
Magic Heart Genies' new album, Cardiac Arrest (M9 Entertainment), starts out ominously but promisingly with the sinister "You Were Warned." MCs Myka 9 and JtheSarge take turns predicting a dire world future, deploying a rapid-tongue rhyme style to unleash their predictions. They are both clearly echo the groundbreaking themes and rapping style of Freestyle Fellowship (after all, Myka 9 was a founding member), but bring this influence into their own sphere. Fat Jack and Mr. Aeks, among others, provide the album's beats. Highlights include "Designated Driver" and the clichéd but infectious "Snake Charm."
Iowan MC Coolzey released his debut full-length this January entitled The Honey (PS Records). Thank God he isn't on some forced-esoteric Anticon shit, because he could have so easily gone in that direction. Nay, he says, instead embracing melodic, thumping, and always unique hip-hop. An array of help as eclectic as Coolzey's musical vision helps out on the album--William Elliott Whitmore, Sadat X, Copyright, and Bru Lei all join in the fray. Sure, Coolzey's a nerdy, white, hip-hop geek, but he doesn't make that the centerpiece of his rhymes.
The Whitefield Brothers' new album, Earthology (Now-Again), sounds like it could have been recorded in the early '70s. Dusty, funky, coated with sharply stabbing horns and anchored by solid bass and percussion, these African and Motown-influenced instrumentals are only amplified by the rhyming contributions of Percee P, MED, Edan, and Mr. Lif. Don't be surprised if these songs enter the rotation of your favorite old soul/funk DJ in the very near future. Not bad for a couple of German dudes.
Want some more Wu this year? Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part 2 wasn't enough for you? (Well, technically that was last year, so…) Return of the Wu (Gold Dust Media), mixed by Mathematics, compiles some really great unreleased Wu-Tang tracks recorded between 2000 and 2008. Sorry to say, but this album is so much better than 8 Diagrams you kind of wish Mathematics was the creative head of Wu Enterprises, not RZA. The first two tracks alone, "Clap 2010" and "Respect 2010," featuring Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface, and Cappadonna, are shining examples of group chemistry. More, please.
Let's be honest, the latest release on Hiero Imperium Records courtesy of Chosen Few, New World Symphony, is better than anything put out in the past year from any Hiero's core members, including Del and Souls of Mischief. Cold Showda, Unjust, and Chop have made a record that recalls the early-'90s wonder of Souls' debut, but infused it with a new decade mentality. Unjust's beats are vibrant and banging, and the two MC's lyrics (and Chops' soulful sax playing) draw from their professional experiences working in their community in different capacities. Pep Love, Del, Tajai, and Opio all show up for guest spots, and it sounds like they're warmly welcoming Chosen Few as a new member of the Hiero family. Smart move.
That being said, perhaps the best new California-based release comes from LA's Strong Arm Steady Crew. Their new album, In Search of Stoney Jackson (Stones Throw), is a marvel, produced entirely by Madlib and featuring rugged, thoughtful, dexterous, good-time rhymes from Phil Da Agony (highly underrated), Krondon, Mitchy Slick, Xzibit, Planet Asia, and many more. This is anti-gangster gangsta rap, with a populist and ridiculously ill approach. Madlib's production is typically amazing, from the opening soulful "Best of Times" (featuring Phonte) to the excellent food rap of "Chittlins & Pepsi." Do not miss this one.
Finally, power couple Georgia Anne Muldrow and Declaime (aka Dudley Perkins) are back with a new collaboration, SomeOthaShip (Mello Music Group). Excellent beats courtesy of Flying Lotus, Oh No, and Muldrow herself, guest rhymes from Kool G Rap, Black Milk, LMNO, Big Pooh, and M.E.D… this album's got it all. Muldrow and Perkins are the new hip-hop Funkadelic, taking the listener on an emotional and rhythmic journey from the inner city streets to the inner mind's eye.
That's all for now, so until next month… e-mail with thoughts and insults, and send me yer shit! I'll listen to it. Glaciers is ghost like Casper.
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.
See other articles by Jonah Flicker.
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