TheVine story: “Best Beats: The Month in Hip-Hop, February 2014”, March 2014

The latest of my monthly hip-hop round-ups for TheVine. Excerpt below. Full story via the link at the bottom of the page.

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Well, this was rubbish. There was actually too much rap music in a measly twenty-eight days to cram into one write-up. Music journalism problems yo.

Did my best. All essential, as always.

Zilla Rocca & the Shadowboxers — ‘Fake Surfers’ (single) (Independent)

Back before he was producing his own noir-soaked bangers, Philly’s Zilla Rocca was involved in a cross-country team-up with Seattle’s Blurry Drones (AKA Pitchfork and MTV Hive writer, Martin Douglas) as The 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers. ‘Fake Surfers’ not only reminds you of their best work off 2009 album, The Slow Twilight, but more importantly represents what they then seemed capable of. If that makes sense.

Anyway, this will sear your ears. Drones is wise enough to simply let the The Intelligence sample breathe, while Zilla and his indubitable beard go to work over top. I’m all about doomsday if this is what it sounds like.

Curly Castro — Brody (EP) (Man Bites Dog / Wrecking Crew) 

Talking of Zilla Rocca’s production skills, here he is providing beats for Curly Castro’s latest EP. This is Curly dropping the brickbats to have a whale of a time over the top of Guy Ritchie’s, y’know, second best film.

Quibbles over Madonna’s ex’s oeuvre aside, it’s very special stuff. Granted, there was humour on Castro’s Fidel, but it was jet black and dripping in irony. Here, Curly switches on the lights to unleash a torrent of pop-cultural fire. Zilla, Has-Lo, Billy Woods, Elucid and Castle all interject at regular intervals, upping the movie night vibe. Also, Bobby Cliff samples are the greatest.

Schoolboy Q — Oxymoron (LP) (TDE / Interscope)

I was worried last month that TDE new signee Isaiah Rashad’s debut Cilvia Demo might be overshadowed by ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron. Now, though, it feels like the Tennessee rapper has shown up his label senior. The hype building over the last twelve months for Q’s major label release reached a deafening roar in recent months, and the Compton rapper hasn’t delivered — not quite — turning in what feels like an unfinished concept album.

Still, this is in the best releases of the month for a reason. By any other artist it would be considered a thunderous success. ‘Los Awesome’, ‘Studio’, ‘Hoover Street’, ‘Prescription-Oxymoron’, ‘Break the Bank’: that’s all the evidence you need, really. Written while I dance around in my underpants to ‘Collard Greens’. Make of that what you will.

For the full article, visit TheVine.

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