Top 10 Rap Records of 2015

By Ru1

It’s been a funny old year in rap music. A number of eagerly anticipated projects, including Immortal Technique’s The Middle Passage and the GZA’s Dark Matter, failed to drop and an array of high profile artists fell well short of the mark (Raekwon, Method Man, and The 3 LOX members come to mind). The likes of Sean P (RIP), Dave East, Huss Kingpin and Your Old Droog released quality tapes and Redman and Pusha T put out decent album preludes. However, in terms of solid albums that can stand the test of time, we weren’t particularly blessed this year. That said we’re thankful to the artists on our list for making a very difficult 2015 bearable! It wasn’t easy to compile this list (it never is), so make sure you scroll down to check out the well- deserved honourable mentions too!

10. Capone-N-Noreaga – Lessons CNN with Tragedy Khadafi.

For a full album. What more can a hip hop head ask for? While Channel 10 and The War Report 2 may not have been to every CNN fan’s liking, Lessons reminds us of why The War Report was a game changer. From the fiery opening track Future to the powerful yet humorous 7 Continents, CNN go in hard. This is the kind of album that makes you wanna see these guys live. With production credits going to the likes of Ayatollah, Large Professor, Statik Selektah, and Jahlil Beats, Lessons is one for the real heads.

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9. Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – 12 Reasons to Die II

In the second instalment of their highly successful 12 Reasons to Die project, Ghostface and Adrian Younge swap Italy for New York. The duo manages to execute the concept well, albeit without the novelty factor that made Part I unique. The production is still on point, but for some reason there is a slight lack of depth. Raekwon (Tony Stark’s nemesis here) and Chino XL come through strong on the feat ticket, but there was certainly space for other guest verses. None of this can take away from a masterful album by two of the finest going around. There will undoubtedly be a third episode in this saga and we’re already looking forward to it.

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8. Cannibal Ox – Blade of the Ronin

First things first. No, we aint going to compare Blade of the Ronin to The Cold Vein. And no, we aint crazy Def Jux nostalgics (well, kinda). Blade of the Ronin is simply one sick album. It’s got everything you’d expect from Vast Aire and Vordul Mega (and more). From inspired religious references to social commentary, the duo’s lyrics are on point. Bill Cosmiq (a more than worthy ‘substitute’ for El- P) also does brilliantly to capture that classic Ox sound. Tracks like Psalm 82 and Iron Rose remind you why these cats left hip hop heads dumbfounded back in 2001.

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7. Apollo Brown – Grandeur

Mello Music’s in-house producer, Apollo Brown, does it again. Respectful to his boom bap upbringing, Apollo uses soul and blues loops to great effect showing incredible maturity. Arguably his sound hasn’t really evolved from his last few outings. But why change a winning a formula? With a host of A-listers dropping thoughtful verses, Grandeur does its title justice. Guests include Masta Ace, Evidence, MOP, Ras Kass, Sean Price, Vinnie Paz, Evidence, Rapper Big pooh, and Chino XL. Props to Apollo and the whole Mello Music crew for continuing to deliver such high quality products.

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6. Gangrene – You Disgust Me

The Alchemist and Oh No are back in style. This will be one of the most rough and rugged projects you’ll listen to this year. From audibly friendly tracks like Reversals to the jazzy Gluttony, ALC delivers with panache. The highlight is the smash everything-type track Sheet Music featuring Havoc and the late Sean P. Oh No has earned his position as a leading figure on the mic. Together with ALC, they form one of the finest partnerships out there. You Disgust Me is one for the heads.

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5. MED, Blu & Madlib - Bad Neighbour

Madlib has already cemented his place in the pantheon of hip hop. With projects like Bad Neighbour, he is approaching Dilla status. Madlib manages to mix up soul arrangements with heavy industrial sounds to great effect. MED and Blu do not disappoint either with their smooth wordplay. Guests include Aloe Blacc and Oh No. Knock Knock with DOOM is reason enough to cop this album. Go get it now.

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4. Killah Priest – Planet of the Gods

Killah Priest earned his place in the Rap Buzz hall of fame years ago. The no.1 Wu associate’s last effort, The Psychic World of Walter Reed, was a watershed moment in rap history. It was an album of unparalleled depth and beauty. While the Iron Sheik’s lyrics have always been on point, his producers have been known to let him down on occasion. Now with Godz Wrath taking over production duties entirely, this problem no longer exists. Pretty much every instrumental on this project is dope. The other-worldly cosmic loops coupled with perfectly pronounced drums are perfect canvases for KP. Seasoned Killah Priest fans know what to expect from his verses. And he doesn’t disappoint here - deep metaphysical and spiritual raps delivered in style (“My first nation is called my imagination”). Also, it might just be us, but KP goes in harder than usual. This is quite simply a masterpiece.

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3. Scarface – Deeply Rooted

It takes the likes of Scarface to get heads talking about lyrics again. In an era of battle bars, punchlines and trap beats, Scarface offers us reflective verses over an incredible selection of relaxed instrumentals (by N.O. Joe). It’s as if Scarface wanted to verbalise a life’s worth of deliberations in one album. The sung hooks by John Legend, Cee Lo and Z-Ro are also inspired. If that wasn’t enough, Do what I do features a next-level verse from Nas. A great album.

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2. Czarface – Every Hero Needs a Villain

The sophomore effort by the Rebel Ins and 7l & Esoteric would have made the top spot in any other year. Simply put, Every Hero Needs a Villain tops their debut and that’s one mean feat. Inspectah Deck and Esoteric bounce off each other like a permanent 4/4 freestyle battle. The ridiculously potent punchlines are interspersed with strokes of wisdom and comic references. 7L exceeds himself this time around with boom bap beats and heavy hitting guitar riifs. Every beat is on point! If that wasn’t enough, guest appearances from DOOM (our fave track on the album), GZA (!!!) Method MAN, Juju, and RA the Rugged Man make Every Hero Needs a Villain a modern day masterpiece. Already looking forward to their third instalment!

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1. Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$

We own this record in every possible format. We went to the legendary Hip Hop Kemp in the Czech Republic to see this kid perform. B4.DA.$$ has been on heavy rotation at the Rap Buzz since the day it dropped in late January. That is sufficient to make it our number one pick of the year. Well, where to start? The selection of beats reminiscent of the 93/94 era is simply exquisite. The masterful Paper Trails by Preemo is perfectly executed as is No.99 by Statik Selektah. This album exudes an elevated musicality of times past. The Pro Era imprint on the production side of things is also significant. The Kirk Knight produced Big Dusty and Hazeus View will go down as hardcore bangers for years to come. While Joey can (marginally) improve on his delivery, his lyrical prowess is unquestionable. He tackles rampant consumerism in the black community (“but they still planting plantations, we keep buying in”) without holding back on raw bars. B4.DA.$$ will stand the test of time and be considered a classic in years to come. Fact.

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Honourable Mentions 

It goes without saying that there are a number of albums that would have deserved a place in the top 10. The same holds true for honourable mentions. We didn’t want to give an artist two bites at the cherry, so Ghostface’s album with BADBADNOTGOOD doesn’t make the cut. Cats like Skyzoo, Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs, Slum Village, Action Bronson, Murs, The Game, and Ransom delivered solid albums, but we expected more. So, what we’re left with is the list of the most complete albums just outside the Top 10. Go cop these now!

Rapper Big Pooh – Home Sweet
Home Locksmith – Lofty Goals
Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder – Indie 500
Bodega Bamz – Sidewalk
Kool Keith & L’Orange – Time? Astonishing!
First Division – Overworked & Underpaid
Oddisee – The Good Fight
Maticulous – The maticulous LP
Verbal Kent – Anesthesia
Red Pill – Look What This World Did To Us
Semi Hendrix - Breakfast at Banksy's
The Underachievers - Evermore, The Art of Duality


Top 10 Rap Records of 2014

By Ru1

We’ve been pretty quiet this year but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been listening to good music. In fact, after a relatively slow start to the year, the second half of 2014 produced some real classic material (we had to wait until December for our #1 pick!). Hip Hop is alive and well and for that we should be grateful. So without further ado, here’s our top 10 of 2014. Enjoy the music and have a great 2015!

10. Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

Let’s face it. Any record the Wu puts out as a collective will be dissected and over-analysed ad nauseam. So can’t we just enjoy a solid Wu record that appeals to both 36 Chambers heads and younger generations alike? Yes, there are some really mediocre tracks in there but standout pieces like ‘Ruckus in B Minor’ and ‘Keep Watch’ compensates for that. The RZA has certainly evolved but he maintains his versatility with the use of sung hooks and scratches (respect the dj!). All in all, A Better Tomorrow should probably not have made out Top 10 but I guess I’m a romantic.

PS. The GZA continues to dazzle:

Storms circles like the rings of Saturn
Dust rocks and ice in a particular pattern
Then this fascinating picture has emerged from surface
A wonder of the young world with an urgent purpose
A wild fire engulfing every home
It's history, chiseled and carved in every stone
A workshop where skills are learned
Handcrafted and drafted, written works our main concern.

9. Diabolic – Fightin Words

Diabolic's sophomore release is pure fire! That classic hard hitting revolutionary imprint is omnipresent in the record and the dude has LYRICS! With A-List guest appearances from Vinnie Paz and R.A. the Rugged Man, Diabolic really delivers. Also, the Preemo produced ‘Diabolical Sound’ is simply amazing.

8. Jeru The Damaja – The Hammer

I don’t care if The Hammer is an ‘EP’. This album pretty much has everything you want from a rap record in just 9 tracks - super-scientific, cosmic and other-worldly lyrics delivered with Jeru’s usual panache over a coherent set of sick beats. Seriously, this must be the most underrated project of 2014. ‘Solar Flares’ featuring a Large Pro beat and A.R.M.E.D. with the Beatnuts are the standout tracks.


7. Cormega – Mega Philosophy

This album almost brought tears to my eyes. What 90’s nostalgia? Cormega packs a punch for the millennials with his wisdom and unchanged metronomic flow over a ridiculous set of Large Pro instrumentals. With the likes of Raekwon, AZ, Redman, and Styles P regaling verses, Mega Philosophy is definitely one for posterity.

6. Dilated Peoples - Directors of Photography

Evidence, Rakaa and Babu clearly had one thing on their mind when they made this record; they wanted to make a RAP record for the purists without sounding stale. With production jobs given to Diamond D, Alchemist and Jake One, Evidence and Babu also hold their own on beats. Rakaa really impressed and Babu’s cuts are simply divine. So where does that leave Evidence? Well, Mr. Slow Flow NEVER disappoints. He’s cemented his position as one of the best in the game.

5. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

It really is difficult to review this masterpiece of a project. EL-P (a RapBuzz favourite) has once again confirmed to the world that he is a genius. In fact, I reckon he’s demoralised so many new producers with ‘fresh’ sounds that they’ve probably put their MPCs on Ebay. The sonic force of this record is complemented by an excellent Killer Mike who tackles themes related to carnal pleasures and police brutality with equal elegance. Not to forget the power of EL-P on the mic. Oh and Zach de la Rocha makes an insane appearance. OH MY!

4. Ras Kass & Apollo Brown – Blasphemy

Blasphemy is a truly remarkable album. Thought-provoking, informative and challenging are some adjectives that come to mind. From destroying the very concept of organised religion in ‘How to Kill God’ and tackling relationships in ‘Too Much of a Good Thing’, Ras Kass proves once again why he has gained legend status in the game. All this before even considering Apollo Brown’s heavy beats laced with beautiful soul and blues loops. Some really inspired sampling makes this a near flawless production job. Featured artists include Pharoahe Monch, Rakaa, Xzibit, and Royce Da 5'9”.

3. PRhyme – PRhyme DJ Premier and Royce Da 5’9”

Who needs a review when these cats team up? Seriously, this is one for the ages. Preemo masterfully chops up Adrian Younge samples and concocts unreal beats with a musicality rarely heard of late in hip hop. Royce’s wordplay hasn’t lost its touch one bit and arguably sees him prosper more than on his outings with Slaughterhouse. Plus with the likes of Common and Jay Electronica dropping next-level verses, this 9 track album is pure hip hop gold. Thank you Preem and Royce!

2. Pharoahe Monch – PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Y’all know the name?! While I’ve always had love for the Pharoahe, it is this album that has really made him an icon in the pantheon of hip hop. His obvious lyrical prowess is used to extreme effect in this thematic record. The way he tackles his experiences with depression with wisdom and wit is astounding. By no means does the record ever feel monothematic or repetitive. In fact, in ‘Damage’, he raps from the perspective of a bullet. Pharoahe also takes multi-syllable rhyming to the next level! The album features Black Thought, dEnAuN and Talib Kweli on the mic and Marco Polo, Lee Stone and the Pharoahe himself on beats.

1. Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons

36 Seasons is one for the kids. Released a week after the Wu’s collective offering, 36 Seasons is a Christmas present of epic proportions. The live instrumentation masterfully played by the Revelations is insane. As a concept album, it cannot be more coherent and thorough. Ghostface is simply the KING of concept albums. Also, the decision to put AZ on 5 tracks was simply a masterstroke. If you want to hear stories of corrupt cops and crime-ridden streets rapped over instrumentation of rare brilliance then this album is for you! Thank you Tony Starks (and the evergreen AZ) for the album of the year!

Honourable Mentions (In No Particular Order)

Diamond D – The Diam Piece

(DITC baby! A few names to whet your appetite…Pete Rock, Talib Kweli, Skyzoo, Rapsody, Hi-Tek, A.G., FAT JOE, Alchemist, Pharaohe Monch, Black Rob, ELZHI, Kurupt, Ras Kass, Scram Jones, Guilty Simpson, Tha Alkaholiks, and Nottz)

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata

(Gibbs delivers with only a handful of verses going astray. Madlib does his thing like only he can. He creates an incredible sound while maintaining crazy standards of musical integrity. Should probably have made our Top 10)

Reks – A Better Tomorrow

(Just listen to ‘Garvey’ featuring Noreaga and Saigon. POW!)

Black Milk – If There’s a Hell Below

(Another one that should have made our Top 10. Black Milk has matured on the mic and is effervescent as ever on the pads)

Homeboy Sandman – Hallways

(STONES THROW! Sandman is a supreme talent)

Diamond District – March on Washington

(If you like Oddisee or the Mello Music sound, give this album a listen. Pure quality)

Constant Flow – Ascension

(Newcomer of the year although the dude been around for a while. Revolutionary rhymes delivered in style. Viper Records represent!)

Skyzoo and Torae - Barrel Brothers

(Torae and Skyzoo link up again to great effect. Watch out for these cats. They are taking over)

Step Brothers – Lord Steppington

(Evidence and The Alchemist. ‘Nuff Said.)

Canibus – Fait Accompli

(Military sound and hard-hitting rhymes)

CunninLynguists – Strange Universe

(The first ‘democratically crowd sourced’ rap album. Nice!)

Army Of The Pharoahs – Heavy Lies the Crown

(Always got love for AOTP)

Statik Selektah - What Goes Around

(Incredible array of artists over sure-shot Statik Seletah beats).


Almighty - Papyrus Prophecies

By Ru1

ALMIGHTY are Canibus, M-Eighty, Cappadonna, Bronze Nazareth, Nino Graye and Planet Asia!!! Yup, that's right...nuff said!

Make sure you catch their debut album the '2nd Coming' when it drops later this month. In the meanwhile enjoy the lead single 'Papyrus Prophecies'.



Pete Rock and Camp Lo - 80 Blocks From Tiffany's Pt 2

By Ru1

If y'all were excited about our last post featuring the almighty Jeru, wait until you get this dose of boom bap from the legendary Pete Rock and everyone's favourites Camp Lo! Their second collabo mixtape features the likes of MOP (what a track!) as well as new cats Mac Miller and Ab-Soul. Here's the link to the tape or stream it below - make sure you bump this all weekend! Gyeaaaah!

Jeru the Damaja - Solar Flares

By Ru1

When Jeru the Damaja promised to release a record featuring golden age producers like JuJu and Preemo back in 2011, hip hop heads couldn't believe their luck. As we now know that project never materialised, but your favourite East New York MC has hot back in style with a fine track produced by the legendary Large Pro! Check out 'Solar Flares' - solid bars by the Damaja over a sick 90's beat...can we have more, please?! Enjoy!!


Funcrusher Friday Issue 12

By Ru1

Let's take it back to 1998 and Lyricists Lounge...Volume 1! Funnily enough I never rated this track before I fell in love with Funcrusher Plus (although it was obvious even back then that EL-P liked pushing boundaries). The song I'm talking about is 'Weight' by the Indelible MCs, the super group composed of Company Flow, J-Treds and the Juggaknots! This ish is toooooo raw!! Love it!


Funcrusher Friday - Issue 11

By Ru1

Ok ok, so it must be pretty clear by now that I’m a massive Aesop Rock fan. Well, the dude is a genius and I’ve always felt he’s been on the fringes of the underground scene because of his lyrical content, flow, voice and, quite frankly, his niche Def Jux sound. Anyway, if you don’t dig him its your loss really!

Aesop is a skilled producer to boot and he’s proven himself over and over again. In fact, this week’s Funcrusher Friday features my favourite track off ‘Bazooka Tooth’ – Limelighters – boasting a sick Aesop Rock production. If that aint enough, he’s got everyone’s favourite rappers Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede aka Camp Lo to drop verses in what must be one of rap’s unlikeliest collaborations. Now that’s what we call real hip hop!


ps. we’re of to see the WU tonight!

Planet Asia & Ras Kass - Kings

By Ru1

Ooooh yes, we are definitely feeling this here at the Rap Buzz! West Coast stalwarts Ras Kass and Planet Asia link up to great effect on ‘Kings’ over a sick Numonics ‘classic’ sounding beat. As real hip hop heads we also love the metronomic cuts by DJ Heron. This banger will be featured on J57 & Numonics’ album ‘LI FTW’ set to drop later this year.


Suicide Kings feat. Saigon - So Proper

By Ru1

There really is nothing better than seeing promising young cats steadily climb up the underground rap ladder. Having supported the likes of Ill Bill and Vinnie Paz over the past couple of years, Suicide Kings aka MC Joey Knuckles and Dj/Producer King Cole are set to drop their second full length – ‘Crown of Thorns’ – later this year. The lead single featuring Saigon ‘So Proper’ sets the tone for what should be an extremely promising album.



Funcrusher Friday - Issue 10

By Ru1

Believe it or not this week's Funcrusher Friday takes us to...Italy! We are proud to bring to you one of our all time favourite rappers - Danno from the legendary group Colle der Fomento - together with the supremely talented producer Stabbyoboy and multiple DMC/IDA ranked turntablist DJ Craim. These three Italian hip hop stalwarts formed the collective Artificial Kid to promote their brand of futuritsic 'cyberpunk' rap and their only record to date is simply amaing. Their concept album Numero 47 (which in reality is the number given to a cyborg prototype in Artificial Kid's fantasy world!) was not only bold beyond measure, but completely unique to the Italian undergrou rap scene.

Enjoy this signature AK track - Il Sistema (the system) - and let us know what you think about the Def Jux influence!

Have a great weekend!

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