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.
Sudan Archives – NBPQ (Topless) (Stones Throw Records) – NBPQ (Topless) is a genre blending ride featuring left field R&B, hip-hop and of course Sudan Archives’ trademark violin. Sudan Archives is getting ready to release an album later this year and based on the first three singles this one is definitely going to be a can’t miss album.
Must Listen Albums of June 2022:
Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star (Big Dada) – Technically not a hip hop album, but I just absolutely love this R&B album from Yaya Bey. It’s beautiful, catchy, lyrical and takes some interesting twists and turns throughout.
E L U C I D – I Told Bessie (Backwoodz Studioz) – E L U C I D continues the winning streak of Backwoodz Studioz, who already have an album of the year candidate with billy woods Aethiopes. I Told Bessie is just as good and shouldn’t be overlooked by fans of heady, left field hip hop.
Namir Blade – Metropolis (Mello Music Group) – Namir Blade delivers a thrill ride of an album, adopting so many different hip hop styles and utilizing his voice in ways that many rappers simply can’t match. This alone would be impressive enough, but throw in the fact that Namir also self-produced the entire album and it becomes even more astounding. This is a really special album that I’m looking forward to spending more time with.
Brian Ennals & Infinity Knives – King Cobra (Phantom Limb) – King Cobra is such a mind fuck of an album. Not just because of the rage and humor filled philosophic lyrics, but also as a result of the marriage between rapping and production found here. They describe themselves as “the post-apocalyptic Run DMC,” which is incredibly accurate. Infinity Knives brings such an eclectic palate of sounds in the production, inspired by classicists like Max Richter; whereas Brian Ennals hits hard on the mic, often leaning into an old school style. Overall, definitely a can’t miss album.
Logic – Vinyl Days (Def Jam) – Full disclosure: I’ve never been much of a Logic fan. Not NOT a fan either, just sort of apathetic toward his music, honestly. So much so that I’m surprised I actually listened to Vinyl Days, but I’m so happy I did. What an awesome album full of dope beats and awesome flows, just really great, straightforward “Old Man Hip Hop.” If that sounds good to you then this one is definitely for you.
Pan Amsterdam & Damu the Fudgemunk – EAT (Def Presse) – If you’ve read my past posts here you know I’m a big fan of Damu the Fudgemunk and will listen to anything that he is attached to. He’s such an amazing producer and I’m so happy that his involvement in this project has introduced me to Pan Amsterdam, an idiosyncratic rapper and trumpeter. This is super fun album inspired by food with interesting rapping and fantastic production.
SB the Moor – In Babylon! (Ruby Yacht) – Another totally self produced album here, In Babylon! introduced me to the talents of SB the Moor. This sounds like not much else out there, full of dense lyricism and great beats. Really excited to dig deeper into this one.
The Difference Machine – Unmasking the Spirit Fakers (Full Plate) – When I read about this psychedelic rap duo from Atlanta I knew I had to check it out, because, well … how in the world can you pass up checking out a “psychedelic rap duo from Atlanta?” Then I saw features from Sa-Roc, Quelle Chris, Denmark Vessey and Homeboy Sandman and knew this would be totally up my alley.
Plato III – The Devil Has Texas (Polyvinyl) – There’s been a lot of hip hop described as “emo rap” lately with Juice Wrld, Lil Peep and XXXTentacion leading the charge … but what about midwest emo rap? Plato III finally delivers an interesting take on emo rap with some really great tracks. I mean this album even features Mike Kinsella, what more could you want?
Bar None Mixtape: June 2022