Freeway featuring Jakk Frost, Malik B & Tana Da Beast - "Beards R' Us"
I wish I could say that I will someday get tired of Freeway discussing his beard, but that's a bold-faced lie. I've loved the beard punchlines since Jay-Z's "Gotta kill witnesses 'cause Free's beard stickin' out" in "What We Do." The beard love is real and it's serious. Truth be told, I picked this track because of the title before even checking the song out; not because I wanted to, but because I had to. It's a good thing this song is damn hot or else I'd really be playing myself in choosing it. For one, the return of The Roots' Malik B makes this track monumental. It takes one skilled Philly wordsmith to pull a fellow Philly wordsmith out from hiding and get him to spit like he never left. Granted, Malik B has popped up a few times for the camp, but he feels really present on this one. Jakk Frost's cadence is really on point, as his opener roughs up some verses and still sprinkles in some religious vernacular. Tana Da Beast is equally impressive, as well as the aforementioned M-Illa-Tant. Freeway on the clean up was the perfect way for him to top off his own song. There are a million and one reasons to check out Philly Freezer's Freedom Of Speech, and this cut is definitely one of them. - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
J-Zone featuring Breeze Brewin, Prince Paul & Oxygen - "The Fox Hunt"
It's so nice to have J-Zone rapping again. Prior to reading his book, last year's Root For The Villain (my favorite read of the calendar), I knew that J often considered hanging up his mic to focus on other endeavors. Whether or not it will eventually belong to an album, "The Fox Hunt" is everything I wanted to hear in a single. The record has J's spirited views on dating, sex and gold-diggers, along with restaurant references that have been found in his raps since the beginning. Meanwhile, The Juggaknots' Breeze Brewin makes a rare appearance (which I had been hearing about in the grapevine for months), and maintains his knack for concept that made him so valuable to Prince Paul's Prince Among Thieves album. Paul and Oxygen are also background characters to this ill party. On top of it all, Zone's production on this piece of work help you understand why it's pressed up on 45. Ced Gee would be proud with this chaotic symphony of samples and percussion. This is one of the best beats I've heard from J since his Jimi Hendrix Experienced project that took over my car stereo in 2006. From Jay-Z to Too Short to Scarface to Masta Ace, so many of my favorite emcees have lied about retirement. I'm not callin' J-Zone a liar in the least, but I'm glad he's not fully keeping his word about boss hoggin' in the booth. Now I'm gonna make a Sunday out of Music For Tu Madre and Clear Blue Skies. Oh, and as a bonus round, please check Zone's latest ego trip list with his Top 15 45's (uploaded and scanned). This is pretty much my favorite thing on the Internet this past week. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine).
Jasiri X featuring Invincible & Rhymefest - "Candidates For Sale"
When there are weeks that bring us tracks like "Fawk Something," "Baby Wipes," "Dirty White Girl" and "Big Bank Roll," I usually ask whoever is up there pulling the strings to beam something down with a little more intelligence, introspection, hell, any message deeper than "cheated on her bum bum, fucked her with a condom." Karma came back around Wednesday with Jasiri X's "Candidates For Sale." Featuring real cover artwork and solid guest 16's from Invincible and Rhymefest, the Pittsburgh emcee's new track couldn't be more timely addressing something most liberal voters aren't comfortable hearing especially as the election gets closer and Mitt Romney continues telling whatever room of rich White people he's in the things they most want to hear. Things like he doesn't care about the 47% Americans who don't pay income taxes. But Jasiri X has different percentages in mind, the 1% that runs the government - both conservatives and liberals - and the 99% of us going to hell because "are votes have gone on a diet," meaning we don't run one of the billion dollar corporations that really decide elections. As Invincible points out in her own astute verse "it's damn shame, politicians should be dressed up like Nascar drivers covered in brand names." As both candidates reach the billion dollar mark spent for TV advertisements and take part in town hall meetings where the hardworking middle class attendees are treated with 0 empathy, their questions nothing more than segues into new talking points, we realize that Jasiri and co. may have a point. Take the blinders off because "Barack's hand is in the pot" just like Romney's, send $20.00 bucks to either candidate, get a smile and return to a house you may lose by inauguration. - Michael Sheehan