The Alchemist celebrates his snapback as KA takes us into a record store with some "Night's Gambit" cleverness, and Chuuwee shows us "killing is good for the soul."
Alchemist featuring Domo Genesis, Freddie Gibbs & Hodgy Beats - "Tesla"
Any new music from Alchemist is a reason to celebrate. While Alc dropped the surprise SSUR EP on us last weekend, this "Tesla" gem was included. Sure, the project came as part of a promotional campaign for his new SSUR snapback, but a lot of times when artists are told to deliver some fashion-related tunes, the product is not so stellar. On "Tesla," Alchemist grabs Freddie Gibbs and two of Odd Future's guys - Domo Genesis and Hodgy Beats - to rock over some stunning dark piano-keyed-slash-brass production. It sounds like a cypher as each one is spitting bars over Soul samples in a way that isn't cohesive enough to be a single, but strong enough to bump for the hell of it. The result is a continuous head nod - perhaps rocking Alchemist's limited edition snapback. Or not. It knocks either way, and Alchemist knows that even promotional music should be high quality music. - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
KA - "Off The Record"
Brownsville, Brooklyn's KA is an ageless emcee. Two years ago, decade-plus HipHopDX orchestrator, editor and writer J-23 told me about Iron Works. Admittedly, never a big fan of Natural Elements, I dismissed the highly-esteemed reccomendation for too long. By the time last year's Grief Pedigree released, I was completely obsessed. KA has an ability to kick sparse bars that have so much wisdom and insight in them, whether applied to life in the hood, or just life anywhere. It never sounds it, but it's only adds mystique when you realize that like his close homie Roc Marciano, this is another former group-focused emcee with like 20 years in the game. Now releasing The Night's Gambit hand-to-hand in New York City this month, quickly followed by digital release with a NPR premiere, I'm just further intrigued. "Off The Record" is Hip Hop about Hip Hop that is anything but trite or tedious. The hard loop, the wordplay, and just the overall vibe you get from the emcee makes the single stand out. The vinyl-focused video only reminds those who know (and those just learning) of the essence. I can absolutely see myself in years to come pulling KA albums off the shelves, whether CDs or hopefully vinyl releases, and coming back to them to recall a time and place in my life. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
Chuuwee - "K.I.L.L."
In addition to wanting to highlight another artist trying his hand at some darker material, I chose this Chuuwee video to prevent people from sleeping on the Sacramento emcee like I did for the majority of last year. I was late catching on but finally took notice when he killed it on "The Kosmos Pt. 1 - Lift Off," one of the oddest - and least accommodating - beats on the Alchemist's Russian Roulette album. After that I went back and discovered Chuuwee's Wild Style mixtape was one of 2012's strongest and something I shouldn't have passed over. With production from artists like Large Pro and Cookin Soul, it captured that Golden Era Boom-Bap vibe without feeling deriviative or forced. This week Chuuwee is back, skulking in the shadows and disposing of a body in the new video for his track "K.I.L.L." From the unsettling beat by Hippie Sabotage (the team to watch for 2013) to lines like "Black mass / black jeans / poppin' n**gas like acne/ breakin' n**gas like bad knees / rippin' shit up like bad jeans/ rest in pieces / blood all over my black tee," the track sees Chuuwee going from Wild Style's sunny stoops into the catacombs to "dodge those po-pos and the bullets out of them four-fours." If he was channeling the Black Sheep on "Wild Style" here it's the Gravediggaz. Let's hope "The Great Gatzby" keep it this ominous and grimy. -Michael Sheehan
RELATED: Alchemist Talks Russian Roulette Experimentation, Says Beats Aren't Good Enough For Featured Emcees [2012 INTERVIEW]