Gathering Hiphop’s Hidden Gems #1

    Welcome to the first episode of ‘Gathering Hiphop Gems‘; a series of posts dedicated to highlighting some truly obscure hiphop sounds, old and new, forever fresh. So, allow me to be your temporary guide in this ever expanding world of hiphop music, a guide specialised in exploring the more laidback spectrum.

    This time I gathered you some gems from people like Moka Only, Lifesavas, Maspyke, The Primerdian & Tall Black Guy, Rappin 4 Tay, Mattic, 2Mex, Fraction & Fresh Kills, Yu and Thomas Prime & Awon. Make yourself comfortable, turn up your speakers and grab a drink, here we go!

    Moka Only – Stacy Dash feat. Fatty Down

    I first heard of Moka in 2008 when he already recorded about 40 albums. Since then he has continued to drop multiple albums a year. You could argue that this productivity is a gift and a curse at once, because this man makes so much music that it’s hard to keep up with his output, unless you are a dedicated fan like me. For those intimidated by Moka’s output I have made a huge mix of all his music, be sure to check it out!

    Lifesavas – Tailormade Razorblades

    Sadly I haven’t heard anything from this Portland based trio recently. That’s a pity because their first album ‘Spirit in Stone’ from 2003 is very, very good. Their second album from 2007 had less impact on me but this braggadocious and abstract track stood out for me. The second MC nails it for me and is sure to generate a few ‘WTF’ moments in your mind, when he confronts you with his dense and highly associative barrage of words. This track is a kind of oddity in their discography which makes it even more special.

    Maspyke – All Things Fall

    This is THÉ essential Maspyke song for me. It has attracted a few tens of thousands of listens on Youtube but this a fraction of the attention it deserves. Listen to it, when was the last time you heard a beat like this? The rugged voices of the rappers complement it perfectly. There is just a peculiar intelligence to this song that makes me keep coming back to it. Haunting. If you want to dig below 10.000 Youtube views be sure to check out music from Maspyke’s members Tableek, Roddy Rod and Hanif Jamyl. If you dig ‘All Things Fall’ you won’t be dissapointed!

    The Primerdian & Tall Black Guy – Melodic Healing

    Beatmaker Tall Black Guy has attracted considerable attention in the last years, notably from renowned DJ Gilles Peterson. This collaboration with rapper Primerdian is one of his more obscure works but carries that TBG trademark sound. The beat just knocks and i love the dreamy chords in the catchy chorus. Music from the soul, does it elevate yours?

    Rappin 4 Tay – Bay Life

    Two and a half million listens on Youtube for his biggest hit, “Players Club”. Not bad eh?  For some reason, “Bay Life” is almost like a forgotten song in his repertoire. It contains 4’Tays trademark smooth flow backed by a simple but effective moody musical backdrop.

    Mattic – We Met in Paris

    Oh sweet love. We’re in the realm of the dreamer once again. This is one of Mattic’s more accessible songs. Overwhelming and convincing. Other songs on this cinematic album are equally strong but present far different soundscapes. Be assured, the confident magical realism of Mattic’s lyrics is a constant throughout the ride. Give it a listen and be sure to also check out ‘The Adventures of Dr.outer’, his second solo album.

    2Mex – Percussion Percaution

    Fans of Underground rap from Los Angeles have probably heard of 2Mex. I must admit i myself haven’t thoroughly explored his music but this experimental song immediately caught my ear. To take percussion itself as subject matter is very original and there is a controlled madness to it all that really appeals to me. It’s a spectacular sound that you don’t hear often.

    Fraction & Fresh Kills – Change

    Since these two guys released their album ‘Extra Science’ in 2012 i have tried to look up more music from the mc, Fraction. I haven’t fared too well, just as this impressive contemporary boom-bap album has managed to have gone completely under the radar. A bizarre thing when you consider the deep deep quality that a song like this radiates. Beats and lyrics are of a very high caliber.

    Yu – Highlights of Life Pt.2

    Yu is one member of the Mello Music Group, home of prolific artists like Oddisee and Apollo Brown. He is less known than Oddisee but posesses a similar intelligence expressed in a serious and dedicated outlook on life. Sometimes he is TOO serious for my liking but in this song he just hits the deepest chord in my mind. You could die happy after making something like this.

    Thomas Prime ft. Awon – Busy Dreaming

    This is a classic example of a song where the quality of the beat outshines the rapper. Awon sounds motivated enough but the beat just begs for a dose of more advanced lyricism. Because what a lush sound it is. I have found out that I am not too impressed by most of Mr.Prime’s other productions, which truly defines this song as a hidden gem to me. Sometimes you have to dig through mediocrity and persevere in order to reap the rewards!

    And with that, I’m out. See you next time!

    ~ Jelger Staal