A long time ago, Mac Lethal, a white rapper from Kansas City, received some praise. It was by the beginning of the 2000's, when he won or was second to several editions of the Scribble Jam contest, and was sponsored by Jay Seagraves' Hip Hop Infinity, a reference webzine for the indie rap scene, which released the guy's first album. Ten years later, unfortunately, names like Scribble Jam, Jay Seagraves and Hip Hop Infinity aren't meaning anything to the new generation. And now, despite his short time with Rhymesayers Entertainment and the album he released there, 11:11, Mac Lethal seems no longer current.
Monday 6 May 2013, by codotusylv
With such an alias, this one laid clearly his cards on the table. Arthur Arellanes III's music, indeed, was both bizarre and arty. Once a spoken word artist belonging to the California's underground hip-hop scene – the guy played sets with Blackalicious - Bizzart explored further the nerdy, crossover, intimate and experimental kind of rap launched by Anticon around the year 2000. He did even better, proposing one of the most accomplished products of the genre.
Saturday 27 April 2013, by codotusylv
A few years after we published it, it was time to deliver a new version of our indie rap selection, listing 100 key albums related to this movement which took place in hip-hop's underground at the end of the 90's and through the 2000's. Here starts the countdown, updated, and extended to more than 150 records.
Wednesday 17 April 2013, by codotusylv
The transition of Kool Keith from the funky Ultramagnetic MCs to the more futuristic and hallucinated Dr. Octagon was partly due to the rapper and producer Godfather Don. Momentarily recruited by the former, in 1992, he didn't stay too long in the group, his dark beats not fitting completely with the rest. This didn't dissuade Kool Keith, though, from continuing collaborating with him.
Monday 8 April 2013, by codotusylv
Released in 2004 by two KutMasta Kurt protégés – his name was in the title, but he took not part to the record – this album had not been well received by the critics. They reproached almost everything to Dopestyle 1231. They said that it was not funky or melodic enough, that the duo was some Johnny-come-lately, delivering ten years too late its science-fiction inspired underground rap. What some despised in this record, though, was precisely what made it delectable.
Tuesday 2 April 2013, by codotusylv
Though Astronautalis is a key player on the indie hip-hop scene - at least regarding the folk rap subgenre – none of his albums is flawless. The very first, You and Yer Good Ideas, was full of promises, with some great tracks like the admirable "Ocean Walk", but it was still a bit too green, too amateur. The next one, Mighty Ocean and Nine Dark Theaters, was the exact opposite; the production was so polished that it sounded almost too clean, too nice. And the one after, Pomegranate, was only partly convincing. In 2011, though, he reached a perfect balance with This Is Our Science, which he released on Fake Four Inc.
Monday 25 March 2013, by codotusylv
Jesse Dangerously always deserved more than the nerdcore label he's been associated with. Several releases proved this, already, where the Canadian demonstrated how funny, astute and good a rapper he was. And in 2011, our bearded and bespectacled white MC raised the bar even higher with Humble & Brilliant, a damned good album he released after 3 years of work, along with a 70 pages leaflet with contributions from the likes of Buck 65, a comic strip writer (Mike Holmes) and two cartoonists (Bryan Lee O'Malley and Hope Larson).
Monday 18 March 2013, by codotusylv
Finally, Oddjobs' end had been a good thing. These rappers from the Midwest have never been as interesting as when they split into two new acts, the fire-raising duo Power Struggle, and Kill the Vultures. The Careless Flame, one of the latter's LPs, confirmed it. After they merged jazz and rap in a punk and corrosive way, with their first record, they perfected the formula with the second one.
Monday 4 March 2013, by codotusylv
It had been predictable: sooner or later, hip-hop would have turned progressive. This happened, indeed, by the late 1990's, as one of the major trends behind the indie rap movement. Only a few, however, represented as well as Mike Ladd did this willingness to anticipate the future, to go beyond rap or, for some, to renew the experimentalism of hip-hop's beginnings.
Monday 4 February 2013, by codotusylv
An extended version of the Waterworld LP, released in small numbers in 1999, Masters of the Universe had caused a sensation in hip-hop's underground by 2000. Binary Star's kind of rap, though, was not exactly the boldest or more experimental one, despite some gothic-sounding songs and the duo's integrity.
Sunday 27 January 2013, by codotusylv
1999 was a year full of expectations, as far as the Arsonists' first album was concerned. Having become underground icons after a series of singles released on Fondle'em and Serchlite, their growing reputation had allowed them to join Matador. This rock label, at this time, was interested in the indie rap scene, having also signed Non Phixion. And it offered to the group formerly known as the Bushwick Bomb Squad, and affiliated to the famed Rock Steady Crew, a unique way to reach an extended audience with its incandescent kind of rap.
Monday 14 January 2013, by codotusylv
This was Clothes Horse's second life. After it released the very special records of its founding members, the Saskatoon label had taken care of Canadian rap's lost legends. It started in 2004, with Recyclone, whose first records have been rereleased, and who made a new album with soso. And in 2006, it was the turn of Thesis Sahib, the prolific rapper, the designer of cover arts for the likes of Alias, Deeskee, Bleubird and Buck 65, the author of many records, in solo, or with Bending Mouth, the Imaginary Friends or Les Swashbuckeling Napoleons.
Monday 10 December 2012, by codotusylv
In 2003, Eligh Nachowitz was not a newcomer. Any fan willing to explore deeper than hip-hop's most obvious faces already knew his remarkable As They Pass (1996) and Gas Dreams (1999) albums. This time, however, the rapper was ready to reach the upper level. Thanks to his group's – the Living Legends – growing reputation; thanks, also, to Poltergeist, a consistent, haunted, and poetic record, stronger than his previous releases.
Tuesday 20 November 2012, by codotusylv
So many years later, the bizarre and indigestible Pyramidi is just a distant memory, some remainder of the early 2000's and the short-lived abstract hip-hop era represented by labels such as Mush and Anticon. And though, and though… it aged much better that so many other records released by the same time by similar minded artists.
Saturday 10 November 2012, by codotusylv
What made the difference between Good Things and other revivalist initiatives of the same kind, was Aloe Blacc's ability to update a well-known formula in an almost imperceptible way. It was, also, his superior feeling for music, which he developed by learning to play "real" instruments. It was thanks to these, and many other details, that Aloe proved that nu soul could be, at times, something much better than a tasteless old recipe for aging folks.
Monday 29 October 2012, by codotusylv
If Divine Styler has become a cult artist for fans of letfield hip-hop fans, this may be due less to his first album, the excellent Word Power, than to its follower, a quite experimental Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light. Released unexpectedly on a major label, at a time when those would sign any rapper, this record challenged radically hip-hop's usual frameworks.
Saturday 20 October 2012, by codotusylv
Do you know Jimmy Greek? Most of the day, this Philadelphia resident was just a peaceful mailman. At night, however, he became the looniest MC who ever lived on Earth, belching crazy raps on similar minded beats produced by Rummage, a member, like himself, of the Jam Faction collective. This was years ago, and his releases got lost among the too many underground hip-hop records of this time. All over the 2000's, however, Greek proposed a series of noteworthy albums, including his very first, The Preferred Remedy.
Sunday 14 October 2012, by codotusylv
Despite his significant background, his key role in launching the Project Blowed, his membership to Haiku D'Etat, and even his featuring on a Grand Royal mixtape, it took a while for Abstract Rude to complete his first album, P.A.I.N.T.. He finally released this record in 2001 on Battle Axe Records; a record which, more than 10 years after, and in spite of some lengthy, soporific and weak r'n'b moments, is still the best in his solo discography.
Saturday 6 October 2012, by codotusylv
In the year 2000, the Micranots made an impression with Obelisk Movements, a record full of hallucinated and apocalyptic undie rap they had released under Bigg Jus' sponsorship, on his Sub Verse label. This had not been their first album, tough. As early as in the mid-90's, I Self Devine (MC) and Kool Akiem (DJ) had already recorded the Return of the Travellahs cassette, which easily bears the comparison with their later record.
Friday 21 September 2012, by codotusylv
It starts with an almost unremarkable track, a very cold kind of rap declaimed with a deep voice from the back of the bathroom, and built on a few piano keys ("Textbook Life"). The three following songs are as cadaveric, and each time weirder and more bizarre than the previous one, more and more burdened with bleeps and background noises: "Smoke is Smoke", to contest the virtues of weed, "Tunnel Vision", a discussion on love, and "Unstoppable 03", which topic is still unclear to the French guy I am.
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