Year-End Boston Rap Round-Up, Plus 5 Local Hip-Hop Happenings that we Stupidly Missed in 2009


It’s amazing how much hate mail I receive accusing me of ignoring local artists. Most hilarious is this ass on Facebook who recently bitched that I “write about the same people over and over.” He might have a solid point, if in the past year alone I didn’t pay significant attention to: Esoteric, Black Madeen, Bad Rabbits, Singapore Kane, Slaine, Boycott Blues, DJ Slim, JDO, M-Dot, Masspike Miles, D-Tension, The Berklee J Dilla Ensemble, Jaysaun, Will C, Amadeus, Rite Hook, WMS the Sultan, GWOP Gang, Wasted Talent, The Dunnas, Dawaun Parker, RADIx, Mr. Lif, Aztech, Krumb Snatcha, Oak Lonetree, The Macrotones, Zombie Death Squad, Edan, Edo G, Big Shug, Termanology, Skipp Whitman, Mass Movements, Quite Nyce and Raydar Ellis, Audible Mainframe, and literally dozens more if you count show reviews and everything I do outside the Phoenix.

I don’t want props for propping local hip-hop - I just want heads to give Boston dudes even half the chance they deserve. My designating so many spots on my year-end singles list to local artists is not a mere statement; rappers and producers in these parts have kept me wide-eared and nodding for five years now. However - I can’t always report on everything. Some readers of my music columns might not realize this, but I also cover hard news, and that takes a toll on time. So with that said, I dug up five Beantown projects from 2009 that I skipped for some reason, and linked the shit out of this post for your exploratory pleasure. Support your hometown - there’s more rap talent around here than you might realize, and far more than haters are willing to concede. Threes up you filthy animal, and a happy new year.

Dramatik concocts a hip-hop version of Once
In the most daring project out of New England all year, Lawrence MC and longtime W.O.L.V.E.S associate Dramatik cut a hip-hop interpretation of the infinitely acclaimed Once soundtrack by Irish folksters Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.  Titled The Swell Season Hip-Hop in reference to the aforementioned collaborative project, this full-length evokes more heart and power than most rap artists spill in their whole careers. Lowell producer Blaze Infamous deserves salutations for his sensible reinventions; as do Dramatik and vocalist Ms. J Lyric for blessing each cut with mature, profanity-free rhymes. This concept could have been disastrous; instead it proved to be one of this year’s most fulfilling experiments.

Banga Brothers get to bangin’ (not a porn thing, but dope nonetheless)
There have been many local rap dynasties around these parts, from Detonator Records, which blew up Akrobatik and Porn Theatre Ushers, to Metro Concepts, Brick Records, and the myriad acts and mini-movements they inspired. The Banga Brothas are looking for their spot on the block, and considering their makeup they should have no problem finding one. A loose association of acts in and related to The Camp - producers E.One and Teddy Roxpin, duos The Dunnas and A Masstapeace - one might say Banga Brothas Entertainment (a/k/a BBE - not to be confused with the legendary London label Barely Breaking Even) is the latest haven for boom bap backdrops, clever hedonistic wit, and a battle rap ethos that is unfortunately eroding elsewhere on planet hip-hop.


Matty Trump drops first official solo project
Though he’s mixed, produced, or engineered dozens if not hundreds of the heaviest heaters out of Boston, Matty Trump doesn’t belong to the Diddy-Kanye school in which beatmakers push themselves into the spotlight. Not only will you never hear Trump chime in on an intro, but for his official debut compilation, The Trump Card, he abstained from posing on the cover. Like the Golden Era stalwarts whose traditions he carries forth, Trump speaks through beats; though he’s a mild-mannered guy in person, his music breathes a range of mixed emotions. There are some staples in his arsenal - Trump has been an advocate of hyper-synthetic loops and jabs since before hipster-hop existed - but, as displayed here, he’s also one of the most versatile boardsmen around, capable of catering cuts for artists ranging from AZ and Reef the Lost Cauze to southern stylists like Stucat


Reks continues wreckage
Two years ago it was hard to imagine that Reks would get to where he is now. After getting super-hyped as a rookie back in Boston’s subterranean heyday, he all but stumbled off the rap atlas. And then he quietly re-emerged with Lucky Dice as M.Diesel. And then he blew the walls off “Hardcore” on Statik Selektah’s phenomenal Spell My Name Right. And then he murdered his first DJ Premier track. And then he dropped Grey Hairs, which was easily the second best rap disc out the Bean last year after Moe Pope’s Megaphone. And he wasn’t finished; this March Reks unveiled More Grey Hairs - a compendium of leftover bangers that could bury anybody else’s starting dozen. Lastly - to reign in the new year - he remade the Arrested Development classic “Tennessee” into “Hennessy,” and toasted to his new position atop the underground.


Bobby Bishop takes nonbelievers to Sunday school
The most irritating question that constantly echoes through the Boston rap community is “When will Boston hip-hop blow up?” That inquiry suggests that the myriad acts here who record and tour to pay rent have accomplished nothing, among other unwarranted insults. Bobby Bishop is especially marginalized by that mentality; even though you’ve never heard of him, the Lynn youth pastor and God MC has blown up by many standards; his positive Eminem-Paul Barman hybrid skills even got him signed to a major label. Say what you will about faith rap and Universal Music Christian Group; Bishop’s Everyday Man is a strong-willed effort with divine beats that straight up play most rhythms that his secular major labelmates have been lacing. There’s no reason to avoid Jesus rap; you (hopefully) don’t believe in shooting folks or slinging crack to teenage moms, either, and you’ve always loved tracks about those subjects.

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