Hasan Insane & Tapemasters, Inc.: Black Caesar
With the release of every Jay-Z album, one thing is apparent: the immediate popping up of a hundreds of Jay-Z album remixes. While most are usually cliché with gimmicky themes, there are a few that stand out—most recently New York City producer Hasan Insane’s American Gangster remake Black Caesar. More like an opus than a mixtape, Caesar gives the original (which was a banger in itself) a facelift by keeping all of its original lyrics, adding soulful instrumentals (all produced by Hasan), and including carefully picked verses from lyrical A-listers Raekwon, Notorious BIG, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Jadakiss, Big Boi, T.I., and Pimp C (amongst others), all blended delicately to create a seamless synergy between guest and Jigga. And to maintain the project’s cinematic feel, Hasan includes soundbites from Traffic, Carlito’s Way, Blow, and other drug-related classics.
Make sure you check: “Fallen” (f/Beanie Sigel), “I Know (f/T.I.),” “Success” (f/Jadakiss)
Curren$y: Higher than 30,000 Feet
Since leaving Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money Records, hip-hop fans have been waiting to hear how New Orleans lyricist Curren$y would bounce back. If his recent offering Higher than 30,000 Feet is any indication, he has little to worry about during his life after Weezy. Higher is 18 tracks of witty, fly-talking braggadocio, most of which are recorded to classic hip-hop instrumentals (“Hate Me Now,” “Feelin’ It,” “Grindin,” “Shook Ones”) and contain clever references to some of rap’s greatest lyrics, immediately separating him from much of hip-hop’s new blood. As he repeats Marlo Stanfield’s memorable line from The Wire finale, Curren$y makes one thing clear on Higher: his name is in the streets, and his name is his name.
Make sure you check: “The Take Over” (f/Fly Society), “Hear It and Fear It,”“Factor,” “Feelin It 2008.”
“A domestic version of M.I.A.” “The Anti-Beyonce.” Brooklyn’s Santogold has been called many things over the last few months, but one thing is certain: she has conquered the underground, and is at the forefront of the next generation of stars with her self-titled debut. Sure to excite, the album ushers in a creative blend of sound ranging from ska, rock, reggae, hip-hop, and electro. From her banshee-like screams on the infectious “Creator,” to the mellowed-out bass on “Starstruck,” Santogold has released what is the first must-have album of summer 2008.
Make sure you check: “Starstruck,” “L.E.S. Artistes,” “You’ll Find A Way" (Switch & Sinden Remix), “Creator”
The Roots: Rising Down
Veteran hip-hop band The Roots have returned with their most recent offering, Rising Down, and in what is undoubtedly one of their most diverse projects ever, Questlove & Co. are helping move music forward by effortlessly enjoying themselves while addressing critical issues; sonically experimental, they go from rock to hip-hop like it’s second nature. Amongst the album’s guests include: Peedi Crakk, Mos Def, Styles P, Wale, Saigon, Chrisette Michelle, and Talib Kweli.
Make sure you check: “Criminal,” “Rising Up,” “Birthday Girl,” “Rising Down,” “I Will Not Apologize”