Words by Brian James
Brian James is a former co-host of the Best Song Ever podcast and contributor to Off Shelf and other music publications. As a lifelong enthusiast, he has been a fan of hip-hop since middle school and now enjoys keeping up with mainstream and underground releases, and diving deep on the sampled and influencing sub-genres.
Soul Glo – Driponomics feat. Mother Maryrose (Epitaph) – Soul Glo are technically a hardcore punk band, who occasionally cross over a little into hip hop territory. This is one of the most hip hop leaning songs they’ve done and is a really fantastic entry point to this amazing band.
Sudan Archives – Home Maker (Stones Throw Records) – Hypnotic and dreamy soundscape from the singer-songwriter/violinist known as Sudan Archives. An instant level up on her already fantastic sound, which only stokes the fires of excitement for her future output.
Lukah – BALACLAVA (Raw Materials) – Hard hitting hip hop from Memphis rapper Lukah, which follows two really great albums he released last year. It’s further evidence that Lukah is a real talent with a bright future. And, like a lot of Lukah’s best songs there’s a total switch up in the middle of the track, making it two great songs in one.
Must Listen Albums of March 2022:
Benny the Butcher – Tana Talk 4 (Griselda Records) – Long live Griselda! It is such an exciting time to be alive as a hip hop fan watching the Griselda crew take over the world and be at the forefront of the recurrence of forward looking, murky boom bap. Benny had a lot of hype to live up to with putting out a sequel to the absolute classic Tana Talk 3. It took a lot of guts, but he succeeds without a doubt and it really does not lose a step from Tana Talk 3. The Alchemist and Daringer are the sole producers and Benny is one of the most talented rappers around these days, so you already know it’s a classic.
Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future (Loma Vista Recordings) – Denzel adds yet another classic to his already impressive discography. It expounds upon his previous work in some really interesting ways and puts forward his most cohesive and “classic” sounding release yet. It’s also an album that takes you on a journey, that demands to be listened to in full and rewards the listener who spends time diving into it’s world.
Fly Anakin – Frank (Lex Records) – This is technically Fly Anakin’s proper debut album, but he’s been an underground superstar for a while. Frank is a GREAT album. Anakin has honed his super unique rapping style perfectly and he simply glides all over this record, full of great production. Definitely a can’t miss hip hop album.
iblss – raja’s sun (Break All Records) – This release from iblss is really gorgeous. The instrumental tracks build a beautiful world to explore with some guest rappers who step into this world along the way. Quelle Chris, Nappy Nina, AKAI SOLO, maassai and more provide really great, stand out features that all fit into the scope of raja’s sun wonderfully.
Elzhi & Georgia Anne Muldrow – Zhigeist (Nature Sounds) – Legendary Detroit MC Elzhi teams up with the also legendary Georgia Anne Muldrow for a team up that is, well, I guess legendary. This is a great take on classic hip hop with just the right touch of “weirdness” from Muldrow’s production.
The Cool Kids – Before Shit Got Weird / Baby Oil Staircase / Chillout (Sounds Like Fun Records) – The Cool Kids are back and in a major way! That’s right, they released a triple album all full of super fun and catchy rap with heavy bass that is sure to rattle the speakers.
Raw Poetic & Damu the Fudgemunk – Laminated Skies (Def Presse) – Damu the Fudgemunk was the architect of one of my absolute favorite hip hop albums of last year and Laminated Skies finds him expanding his sonic pallate even more, while teaming up with Raw Poetic. This is a bit all over the place and often times not even really “hip hop.” Definitely a release that will take multiple listens to fully digest.
Pete Flux & Parental – Global Scale (HHV) – Some real nice, laid back jazzy hip hop from Atlanta. Excited to dig deeper into this one and check out their other work together.
Bar None Mixtape: February 2022