Lights - "Juice & Patron"
At first glance, a song titled "Juice & Patron" sounds like the exact opposite of a song I would like, but I was pleasantly surprised. First off, I'm a huge fan of Xaphoon Jones' "In the Zone" remix of Foxes' "White Coats." That's the sample "Juice & Patron" leans on before Lights rolls through and makes the song his own. It's a daunting task to really master the art of rhyming over obscurely blippity electronic beats, but Lights does so with such finesse as he brings bars of inspiration over the gentle hums of the sonic backdrop. The Pittsburgh native certainly knows his way around diverse production, and he bends it properly to fit the crux of his message. There is a ton of reflection in the song, where in one moment Lights is ogling at a girl, but the next is questioning his intentions. "My ego adds to my demise, I gotta be hubris," he says, totally self-aware. He rocks shades throughout the video, but clearly he's not blind to the truth. I'm looking forward to what else Lights has in store for us. - Kathy Iandoli (@Kath3000)
Roc Marciano featuring Cormega - "Ruff Town"
Featuring a guest appearance by Cormega, Roc Marciano's latest track explores the opposing halves of "Ruff Town," a figurative place where inhabitants embrace life's finer things while stomping across gritty terrain. Like the chorus, "sometimes you're up, some down," Roc's verse gives us the lap of luxury peeking through the flip-side of the American dream. As a narrator he may sound like he's kicking back but listen to the words and you'll find plenty of desperation. He tells us he is "dangerous at his brokest" and describes the landscape as a place where "brokers in the alley" can offer "10 different kinds of drugs, it might vary." Yet the contradictory nature of "Ruff Town" is highlighted when Roc reveals that despite everthing he still wears spotless shoes fresh out of the box. It's all about juxtapostion. There's the precise side - at "coordinates forever close to where the water is" wearing "fatigues with the calfskin sleeves" - offset by the lackadaisical spliff-smoking, Cristal-sipping side. Showcasing the types of things he does best, Cormega kicks his verse off by creating a mini narrative that lives inside one bar. The "man from the fifth floor" instantly has a face and his "showing a four" resonates long after he's been pulled offstage. Where Roc explored duality, Cormega takes it a step further by playing with words like "beef" and "green" that have dual meanings. When he says "beef isn't his preference," he "prefers green and fresh fish," things are ambiguous. And while we have been introduced to the streets of this "Ruff Town" in the previous verse, Cormega makes it all personal by calling out his enemies; "the imitators, cowards spitting fiction, altering facts inconsistent, never seen the belly of the beast within the system." If all this can be achieved with one track imagine the possibilities of a 'Mega/Marciano album, which sort of may be happening courtesy of M.A.R.S. - Michael Sheehan
Reef The Lost Cauze & Haj - "Moonshine"
Shortly after I moved to Philadelphia in 2002, I started hearing about a ferocious battle rapper who moonlit as one the area's most liked emcees in Reef The Lost Cauze. Shortly before his stellar 2005 studio debut Feast Or Famine, I became a true believer. Reef has one of the city's best live shows, versatile catalogs, and more than that, he's always in the crowd at other emcees' events. Reef embodies Philadelphia Hip Hop over my time living in the city. This week is my last in Philly after 11 wonderful years, as a move has been imminent for some time. The Lost Cauze's "Moonshine" may seem like a low-budget video to some, however it captures the essence of summertime in this city. Porch/stoop sitting, canned beverages and neighborhood camaraderie drive the video and the song. It's lighthearted, but it's deeply authentic. Haj of Dumhi supplies a Blues-sampled beat, and Reef flips bars with ease. The song is available on the self-released Loosies project from the pair. Through his battling, his charting work with Army Of The Pharoahs and a cult following locally and abroad, Reef has sustained a respected career through challenging changes in the city and the industry. But his verses and delivery, new and old, forever burn like moonshine in a mason jar. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
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