It’s difficult to avoid seeing, and/or reading, just about anything that has nothing to do with politics. If you think about it, everything in life is political. Life seems to come back to haunt politicians, actors, etc., and none of it seems to circulate around foreign policy but rather, who one has offended. It’s a never-ending cycle that’s only going to continue to spiral downwards until all figurative closets are emptied.
One thing’s for sure though, I can always count on Statik Selektah to give me exactly what I need, and maybe sometimes, things I didn’t know I needed. He just released his new album 8 (Duck Down) and it’s filled with guest features. At this point in the producer’s career I’m not even sure if it’s fair to allocate any space or time on him because well, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with any of his tracks. Instrumentally, he finds easy flowing joints and beats with beautiful horns, creates some dope beats, with some amazing bass grooves. While I could always have less of certain rappers like 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa, you can’t dislike “Man Of The Hour,” which holds everything I previously mentioned in their lyrics. Run The Jewels put their spin on the darkly-driven “Put Jewels On It,” with both Killer Mike and El-P volleying their lyricism back and forth. Action Bronson knows he’s “chunky & funky” on the self-assured “Watching Myself” which is driven by those six notes on a keyboard which never becomes repetitious but it’s Wale and Phile Ade that start the party with “Get Down,” a jam that was surely created to get the crowd moving, and/or to get the party started. Both rappers speed through with quick-tongued lyricism and regardless of what one may think of them, they hold it down. Statik is also a master of the smoothness, and “Ain’t A Damn Thing Change” with G-Eazy, Joey Bada$$ and Enisa, is a testament to that. Anyone can ride this track and make it a classic. “No. 8” is the cherry on top of everything here which features Westside Gunn, Conway, and Termanology, one lyricist that a constant collaborator. The track’s grittiness is accentuated by the three emcees and their braggadocio. Other artists featured like, Chris Rivers, Sean Price, Lil Fame, Prodigy, B-Real, Everlast, shouldn’t be overlooked for their contribution here. I can go on and on about 8 but you shouldn’t take my advice or anyone else’s. Take a listen for yourself and form your own opinion.
Whether it’s mainstream or if you’re searching for something more “underground,” those lines have been blurred by the accessibility of music through the growth of the internet. I’ve finally come to terms with that.
And now Kipp Stone is quite the conundrum here. This isn’t Stone’s first go-around here but Dirty Face Angel (L.I.F.E. Art & Content Company) is his debut full-length release. The Cleveland rapper’s album is filled with sub-genre bending tracks that hold tightly to no one distinct sound. It’s Stone’s words and delivery that makes the self-effacing artist worth his weight in gold. The opening title track has his free-flowing delivery over a low-tempo track that makes his words heavier than anything else as he spits about his own gritty reality and dealing with the hustle and the grind utilizing metaphors all throughout it. It continues on “Celebration,” over a beat that sounds like it’s about to explode into a percussive dreamscape but it never crescendos into it. But no matter because Stone’s words are what importantly cuts through psyches. Then again, I go back to the musicality, like on “We Back,” which slides easily through city streets, avoiding potholes, guided by city lights. It has that feel with Stone’s egocentric lyrics. He moves through darker street corners with “7 Dayz” as he searches for meaning and like-mindedness. At this point, both “BINSI” and “Wishful Thinking” take a more wistful approach musically but the sonic delivery of Stone’s words are what’s captivating. It’s that same gritty reality that draws listeners in. “Wishful Thinking” though, is a bit more playful musically but it doesn’t take away from his reflective words. The approach Stone takes from this point on moves in a different direction as well as semblances of the Trap music begin to permeate but no matter, joints like “Megatron feat Nuke Franklin” hit hard(!) and will have you bouncing along to every hard edge as it drops. But Stone brings things back on “High Road feat. NIIA” and “Always Love.” Kipp Stone’s Dirty Face Angel is a strong debut that’s captivating and reassures that art through words is alive & well. This young man, he has skills.