SINGLE REVIEW: BAG SZN by Kid Fre$h

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Kid Fre$h is a hip-hop artist, rapper and songwriter hailing from Texas. He decided to consider a full time career as a rap artist after his first two singles, Loyalty (ft. T10) and Rollie, were released to great acclaim. In 2017, he followed up with Smoke Somethin’ and signed a record deal in 2018 with NuSouf Music. In the same year he released the Limitless E.P. and in 2019 he has already released the tracks Pe$os and No Pressure. He has amassed literally millions of listens on Soundcloud and a large following on social media.

This latest track, BAG SZN, is a slick hip hop track where Kid Fre$h really gets to showcase his versatile and highly proficient skills as an emcee and lyricist. As a rapper, he has a distinct, recognizable style and is remarkably fluent on the mic. His talent for verbal dexterity and lyrical flow is a force to be reckoned with, as good as any of the current crop of hip-hop artists.

It begins with a brief but entertaining spoken word intro, before an insistent, intricate beat joins forces with a deep, dub bassline to provide the foundation for Kid Fre$h to lay down some rapid fire rhymes. The track’s main hook appears early and grabs the listener immediately: “It’s the season to get rich, it’s the season to get sick….”

His lyrical delivery is aggressive and exhilarating, effortlessly stamping his presence strongly on the music. What stands out is his superb command of rhythm which is as important as the ability to produce fluent lyrics, and he achieves some effortless verbal gymnastics as the track progresses. This profusion of dense lyrics is counter pointed by the effective simplicity of the title hook.

Overall, this is a first rate, extremely catchy hip-hop track from a rapper with an infectious, arresting style and delivery. Aside from his obvious abilities as an emcee, the track’s arrangement and production can stand alongside the most successful hip-hop out there. This will maximize Kid Fre$h’s potential to cut a swathe through his numerous competitors and contemporaries and eventually reach the pinnacle of the hip hop scene, where he undoubtedly belongs.

 

VERDICT = 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Halo by Marc Illy

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Marc Illy is a hip-hop artist, pianist, rapper, vocalist, songwriter and producer originally born in Pittsburgh. He was raised all around the world and has lived in Cape Town, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, San Diego and Boca Raton, Florida. He now resides in Los Angeles. In 2008, he was the opening act on Method Man’s “Still High” tour as well as touring around Taiwan for two and a half years. He creates music in order to inspire and encourage others, along with his work as an entrepreneur and social influencer.

This track, Halo, is a mid-paced hip-hop track that showcases Marc Illy’s skills as a songwriter, rapper and vocalist. Starting with a brooding bassline, the track breaks into a laid back groove that gets the toe tapping, augmented by tasteful bursts of light electric guitar and Rhodes. On the verse, Ally raps with an assured lyrical and rhythmic delivery and a distinctive style. Lyrically, it depicts the struggles of the creative process: “So many songs never made it to the outside, going through a crisis cos without music I’m feeling so lifeless…”.

But the main theme of the track is captured in the instantly memorable sung chorus, about channeling and appreciating the best parts of our nature as people: “Don’t let them try to steal your halo, don’t forget that you are an angel….”. In the second verse, he depicts how hard life can be in the city with blunt honesty and brutal effectiveness: “So many people don’t even have a f***** home…and you complain you don’t have a screen for Netflix shows….”.

Overall, this is an inspiring and uplifting hip-hop track that boasts both superb rapping about real life subject matter and a catchy vocal hook that reels you in fast. Marc Illy’s lyrics are raw and honest, giving an emotional depth to his music that adds to its power and artistic importance. His music has a more noble and spiritual message than you find in most hip-hop, which often glamorizes violence and material gain. It’s a vital, positive message conveyed by great music and deserves to be widely heard.

 

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Get Cha Hustle Up by Thuggizzle

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Thuggizzle is a freestyle rapper and hip-hop artist hailing from San Antonio, Texas. From an early age he has had the ability to come up with clever and inventive rhymes on the spot, known also as rhyming “off the dome”. His childhood was traumatic with himself and his three sisters in and out of foster care which led to getting in trouble.

He realized his gift for music could be his way out of his dire situation and put his experiences of street life into his lyrics. He cites Dr. Dre’s classic album The Chronic as a major influence and Thuggizzle has actually performed with one of the main contributors to that album, Snoop Dogg.

This track, Get Cha Hustle Up, is a great showcase for his rapping skills. Based around an infectious, skittish hip-hop beat and augmented by rhythmic, descending orchestral synth lines the vocals enter with the super catchy title refrain. You can hear the influence of Tupac, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Eminem in certain aspects of his lyrical delivery but it soon becomes clear that Thuggizzle has a unique style of his own.

The verses show his ability for fast and fluent rapping, showing real dexterity in his use of rhythm and meter. The rapid-fire, busy style of the verses is perfectly contrasted with the simplicity of the title refrain in the chorus. He shows his self belief with lines like, “When I start just flipping that beat, man, I start on any instrumental…slow it down, Thug, what’s up, are you ahead of your prime? Well I’m just speeding past my watch cos I’m ahead of this time….”.

Overall, this is an incredibly catchy and assured single by a freestyle rapper who has developed a strong artistic persona and an entertaining personal style. He has taken the experiences and adversity of his childhood and turned it into the fuel of his creative success. He should go on to become an inspirational figure to aspiring rappers who come from a similar background. Thuggizzle is a hip-hop artist who truly deserves the hype.

 

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Steal My Soul by Troy Remedy ft. Mary Bragg

Troy Remedy is a hip hop artist and producer from Dallas, Texas. The latter part of his moniker was inspired by the healing effect of music itself and there is a strong spiritual vibe as well as the influence of soul in his hip hop. So far, he has performed in cities like Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston. He has previously released the singles Underdog and City Lights from his upcoming debut album My Own Worst Enemy.

This track, Steal My Soul (ft. Mary Bragg) is a good showcase for his musical fusion of hip hop and soul. Starting with an intro of picked acoustic guitars and synths, the gorgeous vocals of Mary Bragg enter before the track breaks into a languid but muscular hip hop beat with deep dub bass. The track starts with the arresting title hook: “I just want you to know you can never steal my soul….”.

Troy then takes the spotlight with a captivating lyrical delivery, rapping about having to overcome adversity and encountering negative people in his life: “Those dark souls who try to steal your inner glow”. His abilities as an emcee can stand alongside the best in his field, with a fluent, assured style and verbal dexterity. The contrast between his rapped verses and the female vocals on the chorus work very effectively in tandem but it’s the moral depth to his words that really makes him stand out from the crowd with lines like, “Too many times I’ve seen the destruction of innocent lives….”.

Overall, this is an exceptional fusion of old school hip hop with elements of soul, similar in style to The Fugees but more akin to Chuck D of Public Enemy in terms of its hard hitting but spiritual lyrical content. Aided by first rate production values and the excellent vocals of Mary Bragg, Steal My Soul sounds like a major artist stamping his authority on the hip hop scene.

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Still Up by Chris B

43582726_1844946552289243_4611337335802429440_n.jpgChris B is a hip hop/RnB artist from Lake Elsinore, California. He has been making music since 2009 having learnt to become completely autonomous, writing, recording and producing himself. He has also set up his own label and released five albums back to back, as well as working with Strange Music. His hit track Only Human ft. Krizz Kaliko was featured in Hip Hop Weekly magazine in 2016, and he cites Krizz as a an influence along with Eminem and Yela Wolf.

This track, Still Up, is a hip hop/RnB track with a positive and defiant message taken from his latest album Reflection. After a short intro that sets the tone, Chris B enters over a punchy beat with an immediately fluent lyrical style and delivery. He first depicts the internal struggles he is going through: “Every night gets hard to sleep…..stress is flowing through my veins, you can see the agony…..”. Then he switches to a positive tone and sends a defiant message to his detractors.

It leads to a memorable chorus refrain with language that is not for the easily offended: “Now I finally got my sh*t together, people hate that I’m so f***ing clever, I was doing bad, now I’m much better, the way its lifted now, I’m floating like a feather…”. In the second verse, he shows his skills with some rapid fire delivery and verbal dexterity that lays down the gauntlet to Eminem, who is now past his best.

Overall, this is a visceral but ultimately uplifting hip-hop track from an artist who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s managed to incorporate the influences of his hip-hop heroes and forged his own style, full of attitude and energy. He has already built up an enormous fanbase and Still Up should only help increase it. Perhaps Chris B is poised to take the hip hop throne from Eminem.

 

VERDICT: 8.5 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Never Give Up by JT Music

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JT Music are a nerdcore hip-hop group consisting of Christian Ames and John Gelardi who formed the group in late 2008. After they completed their first track and video, The Greatest Ever, they soon discovered it had accumulated 40,000 views. Since then, they have released many videos based on computer games, often based on rap battles between video game characters. They have now amassed an incredible 2.2 million subscribers and received 25-30 million views a month as well as nearly 350,000 followers on Spotify.

This track, Never Give Up, is a great example of why their music has become so hugely popular. It’s based on the very popular computer game Fortnite, so the humorous and clever lyrics will make most sense to those familiar with the game: “Never seen more hype than Fortnite! And I still can’t build any fort right! “Come on, mat’s aren’t all you get!”, “That doesn’t matter when you’re a bad architect.”

Musically, it’s an effective hip hop/rock fusion track, with an entertaining rapid fire rapping style and lyrical delivery. You can hear the influence of Eminem and The Beastie Boys in the delivery, but the actual lyrical content is entirely original and inventive. The sung chorus section acts as an effective contrast, with vocals provided by Divide. The track also features a rap from Fabvl in the second verse, and again his more aggressive style acts as a nice counterbalance.

Overall, Never Give Up is a hugely entertaining nerdcore hip hop/rock fusion track. JT Music have carved a very effective musical niche, combining their talents with their love of computer games, which so many millions share. Computer games are having an increasingly large effect on the music industry, and JT Music have taken full advantage. They are now riding the crest of a wave of popularity and I can see their huge audience only getting bigger.

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Bout It by BIG KIDD

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BIG KIDD is a rapper/hip-hop artist hailing from Western Australia. Despite being currently unsigned, his music has already made a strong impact and drawn a considerable fanbase online. He has co-produced and released several tracks, collaborating with studio owner Rob Shaker and engineer Uncle Sam, as well as rapper COMPLETE.

So far, he has released original material including T.W.N.M.H (They Were Never My Homies) and Smash N Dash, along with versions of tracks by 50 Cent and Eminem. A couple of months back I gave a rave review to his blistering track, Bk.

This latest track, Bout It, clocks in at only ninety seconds but those ninety seconds are the most exciting I’ve heard in hip-hop since Eminem was at his peak. It begins with ominous piano chords, setting the tone for BIG KIDD’s explosive, hyper intense lyrical delivery. The track addresses those who have been trash talking him, but he is not concerned: “Boys talkin’ out their mouth but they really ain’t about it...”.

An addictive and infectious beat kicks in, allowing him to show his rhythmic dexterity and control, the rhymes coming thick and fast. While he does bravado and fighting talk in style, there’s an extra depth and honesty to his lyrics as he’s very open about the struggles he’s endured along the way: “Paranoia on my mind…….been through a lot of pain, a lot of misery, so putting you down ain’t sh*t…are you kidding me?“. The last thirty seconds reaches an electrifying level of intensity, ending with the chilling sound of gunshots.

Overall, this is another knockout track from a passionate hip-hop artist who is fast becoming Australia’s answer to Eminem. He’s no pale imitator though, taking aggression and brutal, unrelenting emotional honesty to the next level. With continued output of this quality, BIG KIDD could well become the next big thing in the hip hop scene.

 

VERDICT = 8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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