POSTS BY: JOHN MATRAIA

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Injury Reserve – [Injury Reserve]

By John Matraia // 17 May 2019

We’ve been hearing “Injury Reserve Coming Soon” for months now, and the day that we can finally listen to their self-titled album in full is here. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece highlighting everything the group has done so far including the singles in support of this album, what makes the group so great, and how committed they are to their craft. I’m happy to say that the group delivered with their latest release, as expected. The production on this project is layered, diverse, and pulls from a variety of genres. Elements of noise are heard on the hard-hitting second half of “What a Year It’s Been”, there’s some early 2000’s sounding production on the quirky “Gravy n’ Biscuits”, and “Best Spot In The House” features some glitchy and atmospheric production. “GTFU”, track three, is a journey in and of itself. It opens with a hard-hitting and raw, stripped-down beat, along with intense verses from Cakes Da Killa and Ritchie along with additional vocals from JPEGMAFIA that add a sense of chaos to the track. Before long though, the song transitions into this mystical soundscape backdropping a couple of brutally honest verses from Groggs and Ritchie. “Rap Song Tutorial” …

Injury Reserve: Commitment to Quality

By John Matraia // 14 May 2019

Ahead of their self-titled major label debut album, we look at what makes Injury Reserve great, and why they should be admired by not just up and coming artists, but all artists. In an era where 20+ song albums laden with filler have become an unfortunate commonality, artists who truly care about pushing the hip-hop genre forward and taking risks are hard to come by, and often end up lurking in the shadows. Armed with their original ideas and captivating creative arcs, these artists not only make for longevity, but impact, just as well. Injury Reserve is a hip-hop outfit hailing from Arizona that has been consistently dropping boundary-pushing and inventive rap music for a few years now. The group consists of two emcees, Ritchie with a T, and Stepa J. Groggs, along with the glue of the group, producer Parker Corey. There is a clear sense of care and attentiveness to detail when it comes to the entire package of Injury Reserve. Not only is the music polished and amusing, but so are the visuals (directed by Parker Corey) and the live shows. On an adjacent note, the group’s live performance, in particular, had me, along with the rest …

Easter Sunday – [ZelooperZ] ft. [Earl Sweatshirt]

By John Matraia // 11 May 2019

ZelooperZ is back again this year with a new project, Dyn-o-mite, releasing on streaming services next week, just a few months after the impressive Wild Card from earlier this year. The track “Easter Sunday” features none other than the top-tier new school MC, Earl Sweatshirt, who is coming fresh off his mind-bending and boundary-pushing Some Rap Songs, an album that arrived late last year. The two-minute track is split pretty evenly between ZelooperZ and Earl, who both snap as they each rap for about a minute. ZelooperZ starts the track off with a really great verse, and Earl doesn’t disappoint, dropping a lyrically dense, intoxicating verse featuring multiple quotables as always. The beat on here, courtesy of Black Noi$e, is absolutely mesmerizing, featuring a beautiful and uplifting grand piano sample, along with some funky bass. Check out this track, along with the rest of the album a week early by supporting on Bandcamp below! Dyn-o-mite by ZelooperZ

Here Comes The Cowboy – [Mac Demarco]

By John Matraia // 10 May 2019

Mac Demarco is someone I can always count on to drop a great project. He knows who he is as an artist, he knows what purpose he serves, and over the years he’s continued to hone in on his skills and grow. He doesn’t disappoint with Here Comes The Cowboy, the first album released on “Mac’s Record Label.” His last full-length record, This Old Dog, saw a more somber and reflective Mac, and this project is somewhat a continuation of that. The production on here tends to be pretty minimal, but the instrumentation is still well-arranged and enjoyable. Everything Mac does choose to implement on the production side of things works in his favor, like the understated synths backing the hook of “Heart To Heart” and the keyboard melody from “On The Square”. Mac’s sincerity in his songwriting is as present as ever. On Here Comes The Cowboy, we see him reflecting on how the past has affected him, but also optimistically looking forward to the future. He understands that certain parts of his life are no more, and he tends to appreciate that they happened rather than getting down about it. This is definitely a must-listen for any fan of Mac …

Raw Honey – [Drugdealer]

By John Matraia // 9 May 2019

Late last month, Michael Collins, who leads the california-based outfit Drugdealer, saw it fit to deliver to us his new full-length record just in time for summer, Raw Honey, which will easily stay in rotation for the coming months. The record features Weyes Blood, who dropped a phenomenal record earlier this year, Harley and the Hummingbirds, and Dougie Poole. Mac Demarco, who happens to be releasing his highly-anticipated new album this Friday, helped with engineering. The production on here is colorful and uplifting, making for fun tracks that seem to strike a chord with many in a lyrical sense. The influences are apparent, but what he does with those influences is impressive, as he puts together a tracklist full of really enjoyable songs with good songwriting that coast along on top of lush instrumentation. Stand-outs include the Weyes Blood-assisted “Honey”, the upbeat and feel-good “Fools”, and “Lost in My Dream”. “Raw Honey” consists of some summer-essential gems that would be a crime to leave off your summer playlists, so check it out below and on all streaming services!        

900 Lives – [Marcellus Juvann]

By John Matraia // 6 May 2019

Marcellus Juvann is back on our pages with his snappy new single, “900 Lives”. It’s been a minute since we’ve heard new music from Marcellus but he returns in remarkable fashion with this flashy cut. The production is skeletal but energetic, allowing Marcellus’ impressive cadences and flows to shine through on the track. The song is divided by a couple of vocal samples that allow the beat to breathe for a bit before Marcellus gets back to it, switching up flows as the track progresses. He truly “makes it easy,” as he says, effortlessly dropping memorable and catchy bars all over the track. “900 Lives” has me intrigued for what Marcellus will drop next, let’s hope to hear some more bangers from him in the near future. Check this one out below:

Papaya! – [Malci]

By John Matraia // 2 May 2019

The criminally overlooked Chicago emcee and producer Malci is here with his newest project Papaya!, released today. This arrives nearly two years after his last project DO YOU KNOW YOURSELF, my personal introduction to Malci and one of my favorite overall projects to come out of 2017. Now he’s back in 2019 with Papaya!, which is an exciting release, as it heads in a completely different creative direction than his previous project. Production-wise, this project features primarily synth-based, glitchy and atmospheric beats along with field recordings. It’s seventeen tracks, but doesn’t overstay its welcome in the slightest, clocking in around thirty-four minutes, following this many-short-songs album format that some of my other recent favorite albums have followed by artists like Earl Sweatshirt, Slauson Malone, and Lucki.  Papaya! ends up making for an extremely cohesive and engaging listen that only leaves the listener wanting more from Malci. There are some really interesting genre-bending soundscapes on here along with melodic and enjoyable production throughout. “The 40 Oz Endorsement” perfectly encapsulates the record, as it features otherworldly production underlying Malci talking about thrifting a nice outfit, beating three Final Fantasy games, and shouting about drinking 40s “because they work”. The track “Byzantine Way” …

Son of Serpentine – [Ramirez]

By John Matraia // 1 May 2019

G*59’s very own Ramirez has released his hard-hitting new project, Son of Serpentine, chock-full of cold-blooded bangers. The first thing I have to mention is that the production on here really impressed me. The beats are pretty bass heavy and punchy, and feature some meticulously crafted melodies and sample implementations that really caught my ear.  Perfect examples of this are the Mikey The Magician-produced tracks “2 Step Stevie” and “P.O.P.”, which feature some nice soulful samples that I can’t place, but are an extremely nice touch. The sounds on here are truly refreshing to hear, as every beat is unique and compelling. Ramirez doesn’t slow down at all across the 32 minutes, but he does it in the right way, as the project doesn’t grow stale in the slightest. Ramirez joins forces with ZillaKami right off the bat with the intro track, “Mosh Pit Killa”, one of the hardest songs on the tape. ZillaKami made waves last year as part of New York outfit City Morgue, who dropped a pretty impressive debut tape late last year. Ramirez exhibits his strengths as a rapper, tearing it up track-after-track, impressing listeners with a variety of intoxicating flows on top of some really …

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