Review: Strong Arm Steady is a West Coast super-group founded by hip-hop legend, Xzibit. His vision was to take the cream of California's underground scene, namely Phil The Agony, Mitchy Slick and Krondon, and turn them into an undeniable hip-hop powerhouse. In preparation Strong Arm Steady has toured relentlessly with Xzibit and pounded the California mixtape scene for years. Their debut album, "Deep Hearted", is the culmination of years of hard work. Their never-ending grind and consistent track record of creating great music shows why Strong Arm Steady is a force to be reckoned with. The album features Chamillionaire, Juvenille, Xzibit, Black Thought (The Roots), Talib Kweli, Dilated Peoples, Tha Liks, Ras Kass and more.
Review: When it comes to immaculately produced and brilliantly performed deep soul, you'll struggle to find a better example than Gloria Taylor's 1973 single "Deep Inside of You". The track became a favourite with DJs during the disco era thanks to its sensual groove - all elongated organ chords, gradually intensifying four-to-the-floor drums and eyes-closed guitar solos - and an awe-inspiring vocal from the Ohio-born soul-stress. This 7" reissue edition includes the marginally longer version initially featured on a later 12" single, as well as original B-side "World That's Not Real", a slightly more psychedelic soul affair that boasts another incredible vocal performance by Taylor.
Review: Shafiq Husayn is exactly the guide you want on a journey into parts unknown with his instinctive blend of spiritual jazz, funk, soul and hip hop swagger. After delivering EPs to Eglo in the past, "The Loop" dropped last year as a career highlight from a man with Sa-Ra Creative Partners on his CV. Now you can take a fresh trip back into the record for the instrumental takes, and you'd best believe these beats are packed with enough luxurious detail you might have missed on hearing the vocal takes. Look out for the wonderfully loose, bugging instrumentation of "Mrs Crabtree" to the classic Stevie Wonder-ready soul drive of "Message In A Bottle", but really there's gold spilling out of every bar of this stunning release.
Review: Brooklyn talent Your Old Droog is a brightly emerging star on the hip hop scene. He has a voice that reminds us a little of the one and only Common, and his flow is just as smooth, his storytelling just as lucid, and his delivery just as easy to parse. Cool, calm and collected, his raps anchor each tune and "Looseys", a long out of print album still sounds as fresh as ever. It has contributions from Joey Bada$$, Styles P, and Rast RFC, as well as beats made by acclaimed names such was Oh No, Black Milk, Statik Selektah, and Jonwayne.
Dragon Fire (feat Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Kool G Rap & Xx3eme)
All Systems Go
Gotta Be Dope (feat A-F-R-O & DJ Jazzy Jeff)
First Born (feat Novel)
EKNY (Ed Koch New York) (feat Inspectah Deck & Timbo King)
Living Through A Screen (Everything Is A Lie) (feat The KickDrums)
The Slayers Club (feat M.O.P., Vinnie Paz, Chris Rivers, Onyx, Chino XL, Brand Nubian & Ice-T)
Life Of The Party
The Big Snatch
John John Skit
Who Do We Trust? (feat Immortal Technique)
Malice Of Mammon (feat Chuck D Of Public Enemy)
Sean RiP (feat Shaun P - interlude)
The After Life (feat Sarah Smith & Kelly Waters)
Review: Although he's never stopped working, it's been a fair old while since former Rawkus Records regular R.A The Rugged Man dropped an album. In fact, "All My Heroes Are Dead", his new LP, has appeared almost seven years after its predecessor, the acclaimed "Legends Never Die", landed in record stores. So, was it worth the wait? Undoubtedly. A staggering 22 tracks deep, the set contains a range of brilliant beats, interludes and backing tracks crafted by a hugely impressive cast list of guest producers, DJs, emcees and vocalists. Throughout, R.A The Rugged Man remains the central figure, rapping lyrics (both personal and political) in his distinctively fast, furious and technically accomplished style. As a result, "All My Heroes Are Dead" may well be the veteran rapper's strongest album yet.