Maggz - Maggnetic Opposites

Maggz was recently brought to my attention as producer of Zero Star’s recent EP, Don’t Look Now. On Maggnetic Opposites, he steps in front of the mic and lets Optix handle the production duties. The Rochester-born Columbus-based artist shows that he’s just as talented on the mic as he is with the beats. In an EP that clocks in under twenty five minutes, we get to know him very well.

Psalm One - Get in the Van Vol. 3

It’s still not time for the follow up to The Death Of the Frequent Flyer, but once again Psalm One is tiding us over with a mixtape that is better than 90% of hip hop albums out right now. Last summer, we got the stellar Woman @ Work series. This year, we get a continuation of the Get in the Van series. The first two volumes were made over five years ago as a way to get everyone excited about her tour.

Kyle Rapps - On Air

Kyle Rapps first appeared on my radar during SXSW earlier this year, when I caught his set and saw him host the Audible Treats show at the Scoot Inn. I was impressed by his skill on the mic and his charisma on stage. His EP Re-Edutainment was a solid collection of songs and held promise of bigger and better things. While it’s still not time for his full length debut, Rapps has dropped a mixtape to tide us over until his full length is ready.

Oddisee - Rock Creek Park

Ever the prolific artist, Oddisee is already back with another album after this spring’s Odd Seasons. It’s another (mostly) instrumental effort, this time inspired by the park for which the album is named. As Oddissee explains, the park has been a mainstay in his life growing up in D.C. It’s meant different things at different points in life, from a little child to a teenager to a grown man. He set out to make an album that reflected these things, and the result is a wonderfully moving tribute.

David Vangel - Breadth Control

David Vangel has been producing under the name Vangel for about ten years, and started releasing solo material under his full name in 2005. Breadth Control marks the debut full length for the Toronto-based musician, and finds him managing a wide variety of influences, from hip hop to post-rock to classical to jazz to electronic. It’s not an easy task to combine all of these factors, let alone make them coherent.

Stro Elliot - Stro's Old Beat Farm

Stro Elliot is best known as Stro the 89th Key from the Procussions. Since the group dissolved, he has continued to work, both as a producer and vocalist, but still remains mostly known as someone behind the scenes. Hopefully this will change in the near future, because Stro’s Old Beat Farm demonstrates that he has clear talent as a beat maker. The album is a collection of instrumental tracks that were recorded between of 2004-2010, but if I was told that this was recorded as an album in one session, I’d believe you.

J. Rocc - Some Cold Rock Stuff

J. Rocc doesn’t need an introduction to any working deejays out there. As a founding member of the Beat Junkies, along with Melo-D and Rhettmatic, they set the standard for turntablism in the ‘90s. If you’ve had the chance to catch him live, you know that he operates on a level that few deejays are able to reach. While he’s produced tracks here and there, it may surprise you that this is his first solo album.

Playdough - Hotdoggin'

When I was growing up in D/FW in the ‘90s, local hip hop was not on my radar. Even today, for as large a metropolitan area as it is, D/FW hip hop isn’t thriving in the way that Houston is. In the past few years, a couple of acts have surfaced, such as DMG$, but right now they are the exception and not the rule. I could take the time to speculate why, but I’d rather take this time to focus on a talented emcee from Dallas who has recently grabbed my attention: Playdough.

The Ebony Bed - Lucid City

The Ebony Bed is a collaboration between three D.C.-based artists: producer K-Murdock, singer/songwriter Alona, and graphic designer Aaron Hill. The project began a few years ago when Murdock remixed Alona’s “The Missing,” inspiring them to collaborate on a full-length concept album. Aaron Hill’s graphics will play a bigger part in the physical release, which also promises an extended back story to the album. Meanwhile, the digital release gives the listener plenty to digest.

Hassaan Mackey & Apollo Brown - Daily Bread

Sometimes being knowledgeable about hip hop can prevent you from approaching an album uncritically. If I listened to this record in a vacuum, I’d probably enjoy it a lot more. However, having enjoyed Gas Mask by The Left last year, I can’t help but think that Apollo Brown just used his leftover beats from that session and gave them to Hassaan Mackey to rhyme over. Don’t get me wrong, the beats are good - they just fit better in collaboration with Journalist 103 and DJ Soko.