My editor and I recently had a chat about how indie-rock bands and underground rappers approach guerilla marketing in drastically different ways. Mostly, we discussed how hip- hop artists turn the sidewalk outside every venue into Times Square circa 1985, and how their rock- and- roll contemporaries — on the opposite end of the promotion spectrum —fancy themselves too cool to work street corners passing out promos.
Basically I’m saying that I have way more rap discs to write about than I have time (or space). So until the Phoenix brass determines that Bay State boom bap is more important than my other assignments regarding drastic budget cuts and such, I can best prop local heroes in occasional round-ups like this one. Here’s some of the finest Beantown product that’s been pushed on me (literally and virtually) in the past month; and since we stand by our picks, we went through the trouble of providing a smorgasbord of tracks and links for your interactive pleasure.
M-DOT — M.oney D.oesn’t O.wn T.hought (Coast-2-Coast / Str8 Up)Download this album
Listen: “Things on Your Mind”
We mentioned in our Spring Arts Hip-Hop Preview that North Shore grind prince M- DOT’s debut was highly anticipated. So it’s a good thing that his interim mixtape, aimed to quell fans for his official album, coasts beyond expectations. Since his style is graciously nostalgic with built- in stunts that border on acrobat, M-DOT is capable of hanging with most MCs — a knack he puts on full display here alongside such distinguished Massholes as Nabo Rawk, Omega Red, Trademarc, Grime, and Termanology. This is a great place to catch up with the best biscuits that this rising beast has yet to chew; in other words: do your homework before friends from other cities start asking if you know about this M- DOT guy.
Krumb Snatcha — Hidden Scriptures (Mind Power / Str8 Up)
As always, Krumb Snatcha (of Gang Starr Foundation recognition) stomps through with driving, epic beats that frame his rhymes superbly. Much like his one — time mentor, GURU, Krumb needs a certain kind of canvass in order to effectively swing his monotone gruff. For Hidden Scriptures he dug in the right spots; “Triumph” and “Manpower” are titanic hood symphonies, “L.O.V.E.” reminds of a soft Wu — Tang track that’s still concrete hard; and “Leavin” shows that Krumb is one vet who can reflect on the game without getting corny. I’m not sure if it’s an old adage that tough guys make the best slow songs, but if it is, then KS is living proof.
GWOP Gang — GWOP Gang Radio (Strezzed Out / Undapressha)
Download this album
It’s no secret on the Bean rap scene that Bad Newz is the most feared rising lyricist in Boston. He’s a rare MC who never lets a lazy line cross his lips; I’ve heard him absolutely murder some seriously weak beats — a feat that maybe one in 1000 rappers are capable of executing. Also consider the sharp-witted criminal element delivered by his co-defendants BR and Juste, and GWOP Gang Radio is easily the choice pick of this litter for anybody serving time — in other words, it’s an ideal spread for the primary audience of DJ On&On’s weekly JAM’N 94.5 show, the Launchpad, on which GWOP Gang has been delivering its tragic- comedic Hood Report for more than a year.
Singapore Kane — Welcome to Singapore Vol. 3: Long Live the Kane (Team Shug)
Listen: “Whatever I Wanna Do”
I’m running out of verbs, metaphors, and adjectives with which to describe Singapore Kane’s oceanic flow. He’s one of my favorite rappers anywhere; syllables just seem to fall into place for the man. While his first Welcome to Singapore mixtape two years ago properly displayed his knack for coasting across tracks, it was mostly built on obscure industry B-sides. This time around the Big Shug protégé and extended Gang Starr family man blesses a buffet of original joints from the likes of Moss, Illmind and Purpose — giving ample reason to predict that his looming debut will be a contemporary hood classic.
Father Abraham — I Am Not A Sailor I Am The Captain (General Artistry)
Listen: “Bosnian Man”
My best surprise of the past few months came from Father Abraham. I appreciated the album-and-a-half that he recorded with the Indefinite Article a few years ago, but since he went to Harvard, I thought Father Abraham would be knee-deep in a five-figure job by now (rather than holed up in a Central Square recording studio four nights a week composing quasi-genius beat buffets). I Am Not A Sailor — which translates in Spanish to the chorus of La Bamba — is the mierda; the kid was clearly raised on a steady diet of Kool Keith and the Beasties, but such bouncy gems as “Bosnian Man” and “S1E11-Down the Rabbit Hole” are as impressively random and original as their titles.
WMS the Sultan — By Any Means Necessary (Self-Released)
Listen: “Blast Mass” (featuring Edo G, Backdraft, Akrobatik, JV da Rapsinga)
WMS the Sultan is a beatmaker straight out of what us old folks call the Golden Era (or, on occasion, the Golden Age) of hip-hop. Even the picture inside his album cover has him holding his sampler in the most old school of street poses. Easily one of the most successful producers on the Boston scene over the past few years, the Sultan uses this debut to showcase the placements he’s landed with the likes of Murda Mook and Joe Budden, as well as with such Boston assassins as Q, Daniel Laurent (DL), and Bad Newz. Definitely a pick for anyone who wishes it was 1995; no doubt there are a lot of us still out there.
Termanology (with DJ Delz) — Jackin for Beats (S.T./Showoff) Download This Album
Local cats should take pride in the fact that one of contemporary hip-hop’s mixtape kings hails from right here in Massachusetts. It would take this entire space to celebrate the efforts that Termanology has hemorrhaged in the past few years; from his Dilla tribute and 50 Bodies with Tony Touch to Da Cameo King and his latest, Jackin for Beats, with DJ Delz. For those who favor straight saliva slung over industry standards and underground relics as opposed to original album material, look no further than the Puerto Rock from Lawrence who can rap rings around the planets.
Skipp Whitman — The Whitman Fiasco (Self— Released)
I won’t lie, I’ve been sleeping on Skipp Whitman for a minute. Maybe the threshold for how many white suburban rappers I can handle was maxed out. Still, I managed to briefly check his last Free Agent mixtape, and it registered enough for me to keep him on my radar. But after listening to what he’s been brewing in his Brookline lab lately, I became convinced that this self-confessed silver-spoon MC deserves much more than the Asher Roth comparisons that he’s doomed to have to dodge repeatedly. His beats are catchy and his raps and hooks are crisp; there are even some moments when he reminds of Hova, and that’s as good a compliment as any white dude has ever gotten.