Zion I - ShadowBoxing

Zion I have been prolific throughout their twelve year career, so it should come as no surprise that after a busy 2011 that saw the release of Heroes in the Healing of the Nation with The Grouch and producer Amp Live teaming up with Eligh to release Therapy at 3, they would come right back with a new album this year, ShadowBoxing. Zion I have built up a large and loyal fan base over the years, through a combination of a steady stream of albums, constant touring, and an overall positive message to their music.

P.O.S. - We Don't Even Live Here

I had the good fortune this past weekend of seeing my sister from another mister, Miss Manners, host of Hip Hop Hooray on KOOP Radio in Austin. Naturally, we quickly began talking about what records we were listening to, which quickly transitioned into a discussion about not only how good the new P.O.S. record is, but how excited we both were to listen to it. When you listen to a large volume of records and keep up with new releases, it can become difficult to get genuinely excited about a particular album.

Blueprint - Deleted Scenes

Last year, Columbus emcee/producer released his excellent sophomore solo album, Adventures In Counter-Culture, on Rhymesayers. It was an album a long time in the making, which resulted from a period of intense songwriting and experimentation with style for Blueprint. As it turns out, that period was so fruitful, when Blueprint went back to the excess material to see if there was anything he wanted to release as bonus tracks or maybe an EP, he surprised himself to find that he had fifteen songs that he felt were strong enough to release to the public.

Amerigo Gazaway - Bizarre Tribe: A Quest to the Pharcyde

You might remember the name Amerigo Gazaway from the mashup he delivered last year, the fantastic and enjoyable Fela Soul, in which he mixed together the music of Fela Kuti and De La Soul. The Nashville artist is back with another creative pairing, this time bringing together A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde. The combination on this project isn’t as groundbreaking in terms of genre crossover, but the more I listen to the record, the more interesting I find it.

Sir Froderick - The Brief Wondrous

Sir Froderick is a producer from Philadelphia, and on his latest release he’s teamed up with the French label Cascade Records. The project in question is an instrumental hip hop album that tells the tale of, in the words of the label, “…a story about a nomad that got a little money, [who’s] been playing the backseat all his life. Traveling with just a guitar and a pack of smokes, taking heavy inhales of lah on stressful times.

Hip-Hop Culture In College Students' Lives: Elements, Embodiment, and Higher Edutainment by Emery Petchauer

More and more scholarship today is focused on different perspectives in hip hop, and conversely, hip hop has a greater presence on college campuses than ever before. It’s being taught in the classrooms, it’s being played on college radio, touring acts are being brought in to play shows, and student groups and official university activities are incorporating the culture in various forms. With all this in mind, it was only a matter of time before someone applied some serious analysis to the various ways that hip hop culture intersects with the life of a college student.

Piece of Mind - S/T

Piece of Mind, the Toronto-based group consisting of emcee G-Roc Gayle, deejay/producer Gedsi, and graphic designer Yuro Jay, release their debut this fall. Admittedly fans of early ‘90s NYC hip hop like Gang Starr, Brand Nubian, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, they aren’t looking to re-invent the wheel with their first album. Instead, it’s just classic soul-based hip hop production and lyricism, and they do it well. Both G-Roc and Gedsi are very solid with their respective skill sets, and they have a really good chemistry together, which makes the grooves on the album feel really natural and effortless.

Artifakts - Like This If

Artifakts is the fairly new production duo of Garret Meyer and William Thompson. The South Carolina/Wisconsin pair have teamed up to make their own brand of instrumental hip hop, which they have delivered on their debut album, Like This If. Artifakts don’t present a radical departure from what we’re hearing today from most instrumental hip hop artists, but that isn’t to say the quality isn’t quite high. Their music is very well developed, fleshing out themes and melodies in interesting ways, all with a very good sense of overall atmosphere and groove.

Skyzoo - A Dream Deferred

Skyzoo is a Brooklyn emcee who’s been making waves since his debut album, The Salvation, dropped back in 2009. He’s achieved this not only through that record and his collaboration with !llmind, but also through a steady stream of mixtapes. Because of this barrage of music coming out of him, it might seem a little odd to realize that A Dream Deferred is actually only his second official solo album. The album reinforces all the praise that Skyzoo has been getting as a lyricist and performer, but also struggles with an inconsistent approach and quality of music that leaves me confused as to what Skyzoo hoped to accomplish with this record.

Maggz - Soundscapes: Summer Selection

While I do have a significant back log of albums to review, I haven’t waited so long to get to the last entry of Maggz’s Soundscape series that I missed the season completely - Maggz himself didn’t release this volume until the end of September. As a result, we don’t get to enjoy his latest EP as a soundtrack to the current season. Instead, it has to serve as a reminder of a warmer and brighter time as the brisk weather and gray skies become more and more familiar.