A Whole Lot of TDE in 2014

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With the year TDE is expected to have, all members of the label should have plenty of time to golf and do other rich people activities.

The leader of TDE, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith has turned the hip-hop world on its ear with all of the high profile news he’s been releasing since the beginning of the year.  Plus, with Oxymoron (Schoolboy Q’s debut, projected to be number one on the charts by March 5th) officially out now, this is sure looking to be TDE’s year.

First, this news came to end 2013.  It’s a bold claim, sure, but completely reasonable especially because of new signees Isaiah Rashad and SZA.

To start 2014 off, Rashad dropped his Cilvia Demo project.  It’s a surprisingly thorough album, with a deep tale of his upbringing.  The brash young rapper plays between an aggressive style and a soulful one, without having his lyrics suffer.  Not to mention, his style is perfect for the “elegant” (just my own description) banger beats provided to him.

I like this guy’s swagger, and he’s got a knack for making catchy hooks that have a little bounce to them.  It’s kind of like when you know that something just feels right. Nothing but promise on the horizon.

Here’s where it gets really good…

Now, about Oxymoron. It was good.  Really good.  The type of TDE brilliance you would expect.  Through all of the different things that happened to have the album delayed, I can say now that it was well worth the wait.

“Man of the Year” and “Studio” are fantastic tracks ready to jam out with, while “Hoover Street” and “Perscription/Oxymoron” give introspective looks to the trials and tribulations of Groovy Q’s turbulent history.  Even tracks like “Break the Bank”, which admittedly I wasn’t too keen on before the album, fits nicely into the atmosphere as a whole.

Black Hippy is full of talented lyricists, each with their own flavor.  It has been dope to see the musical evolution of all of them, continuing to impress with each new release.

But wait…there’s gotta be something else….

Just when you thought that everything was going according to plan, as you sit there satisfied with that new Isaiah Rashad and Schoolboy Q, the fantastic news keeps coming.

Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith and co-president of TDE Dave Free reveal in this latest Billboard interview that not only is a Kendrick album dropping in September, there’s also a Black Hippy album coming!

WHAT

Not to downplay Kendrick’s upcoming release, that’s great news in itself.  But this Black Hippy project news was not expected.  Not after Ab-Soul spent so much time denying that there would be one.

Not after it seemed solo releases were the main focus.

Not after there has been almost no mention of this until now.

After all this time, one of the “collaborations supposed to happen” albums is finally getting created.  “What better time than now?” has to be the thought at the TDE headquarters, as the crew is at the top of the Hip-Hop game.

Now if only some of these other supposed collaborations previously talked about would drop already (looking at you J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar).

Soooo, what can we expect then?

Expectations are high for this album, to say the least.  “Say Wassup” is still one of my favorite songs released in the past 5 years, and I have every reason to believe that the group debut album will be right along those lines.

It really comes down to how they approach it. Official Black Hippy tracks, with each member adding a verse, has been a dream for Hip-Hop heads for quite some time, so those will be in high demand.  Each artist has evolved a whole lot, and it will be interesting to see how their new styles match up.  It’s safe to say that the sound of this upcoming project will be quite different than the days of “Zip That, Chop That”.

This should be good.

I’m excited for it, and I hope you are too.  This is gonna be a good year in Hip-Hop, and TDE is leading the way.

-Ronzo

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UPDATE: HitsDailyDouble now has proof of Schoolboy Q’s number one album, as Oxymoron has sold 138,000 copies in its first week.  You guessed it, that’s a number one album on the Billboard 200 charts.  Congratulations Q!

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5 Hungry Artists That Caught My Attention in 2013

audio push

Hip-Hop is very much alive and breathing in this present day, with many artists making big impacts across the entire music landscape.  As the genre grows, the hope for quality and innovation becomes easier to expect.  Hip-Hop is as big as it ever has been, stretching to mainstream audiences it previously didn’t see as much.  The culture, the style, the progress of the music, the mixing is all evolving and changing.  Naturally, all of this excites me; it shows that the genre will continue to prosper.

2013 was no exception to this.  It was a great year for Hip-Hop, and anyone who says otherwise clearly wasn’t paying attention.  Whether topping the chart, or making waves on the underground circuit, catchy music was plentiful.  This particular article focuses on the latter: the “hungry” artists ready to make an impact.  It was a tough choice, as there are many more than 5 that I liked.

Anyways, here goes the Top 5 Hungry Artists of 2013 (in no particular order).  Make sure to check them all out, all of them are playlist worthy.  Ronzo guaranteed.

1. Audio Push

These West-Coast MCs are some of my new favorites.  I’ve been playing this Come as You Are mixtape quite frequently, ever since The Smoking Section put me on to them.  Talented lyricism mixed with catchy hooks and well-produced beats is a perfect recipe for Hip-Hop success.  These guys have it all: Hit-Boy produced beats, great video direction, cosigns and features from popular artists in the industry (such as T.I. and Wale), and the comraderie from other Hungry Artist honorable mentions, Joey Bada$$ and Vic Mensa.  These guys are doing it, and doing it well.  Look for them in 2014, and take a listen to Come as You Are before everyone else notices them.  The hipster in you is begging to brag about it.

2.  Schoolboy Q

TDE this, TDE that.  The Hip-Hop game at this point should just be referred to as the TDE version.  It’s well deserved though, don’t think for two seconds it’s not.  Kendrick Lamar has everyone’s attention.  He’s getting magazine covers, dominating awards shows, and becoming a pop culture icon.   The success is benefitting all the members of the label, but I understand the frustration from being overlooked as a group. It was fair for Ab-Soul to get upset about the infamous XXL cover that referred to Black Hippy as “Kendrick Lamar and Black Hippy“. Jay Rock has been gaining notoriety for quite some time, Ab-Soul is on the way up, and suddenly the homie Schoolboy Q has everyone’s attention.  “Collard Greens” is a radio smash hit, catching airwaves (hah) across the country.  Oxymoron is set to drop February 25th, and the hype for it makes sense.  His ability to make catchy music has been legit ever since the heavily praised Setbacks release that made him a household name to the Hip-Hop heads across the world.

You already know there’s gonna be a whole LOT of TDE in 2014.  All members of Black Hippy are due for another release, as well as newcomers to the label: Isaiah Rashad and SZA.  Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith himself promised six releases from the label in 2014.

Q is next in line for success in the Top Dawg dynasty, and I don’t see many other artists on the West Coast competing with that.

3. Mac Miller

2013 was an important year for Mac.  It signified his status as one of the top Hip-Hop artists currently doing his thing.  It was the year that proved Blue Slide Park was just the beginning for his evolution of songwriting.  A lot happened for Mac, even though he generally had a reasonably quiet year musically.

Watching Movies with the Sound Off was one of the best albums of the year, and he found success with a reality show about him and his crew on MTV2.  Mac has made it big time, and this year proved it .  People who generally aren’t rap fans are starting to know who Mac Miller is.  That’s still a little weird for me.  I’m used to the K.I.D.S./Best Day Ever era, and I was also in the category of people who were not impressed with Blue Slide Park.

What impressed me the most from him was his ease into accepting his train-of-thought flow as his main method.  K.I.D.S. was more about his life and who he was as a person, and Best Day Ever followed the same formula.  At this point in his life, though, he’s done a lot of things that many people can’t really relate to.  His train-of-thought flow and laid-back attitude has always been an important part of his musicianship, and keeping it as his go-to was an intelligent decision.  Mix that with the fact his lyricism and rhyming capability has improved tremendously.

Revisiting Watching Movies with the Sound Off is a good decision.

4. The Doppelgangaz

Lyrical head-nodding grimy boom bap East Coast Hip-Hop is the best way to describe The Doppelgangaz.  Their music is something straight out of the late 90’s, and I couldn’t love it more. Oh, and did I mention that they make their own beats?  Many of the songs off Beats for Brothels have made their way around cypher sessions with the crew. Quite a talented group, these Doppelgangaz.

I expect them to be making moves on the underground circuit in 2014, they really seem to have a lot of potential.  If you’re into grimy-type underground style, give their most recent release HARK a listen.

5. Dizzy Wright

Dizzy’s already been written about here on Ronzo’s Word, on a Monday Grooves post awhile back.  The Golden Age was one of my favorite projects of the year, and it was surprising to see him get a head start on Funk Volume label frontman Hopsin.  Plus, he’s a Michigan native.  Can’t go wrong with that.  Being from Flint, he joins the fray with Jon Connor as two extremely talented rappers coming out of that city.  The mitten has talent!

Dizzy, along with Hopsin, represents a strong force represented by the likes of Funk Volume in 2014.  Solid projects this year could put them in the running of top label.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Joey Bada$$, King Los (that “Control” response was an eye-opener), Astro, Casey Veggies, Problem

-Ronzo

Quick Update 8/20/13

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While the Hip-Hop world for the past week have been marveling at the lyricism of Kendrick Lamar, there are many great tracks dropping left and right, especially within the past couple days.

Kendrick isn’t the only one making noise in the Black Hippy crew; Schoolboy Q is building hype for his upcoming album Oxymoron.  He’s even considering this upcoming project to be some of the best music he’s made so far.

Wiz Khalifa is making music again after a brief but unusual hiatus from the rap game.  This partially because of his recent wedding with Amber Rose, who actually just posted quite an interesting video.  

Check out the latest from Wiz, with smoked out raps over a classic Sledgren beat in preparation for his Blacc Hollywood project.

A new Curren$y track with Harry Fraud just surfaced recently, “Audio Dope 4”.  The combination which is quickly becoming a match made in heaven, are back at it again.  The two have very similar laid-back styles, and certainly know how to bring the correct vibe to any smoker’s circle.

Check out audio here: Big Sean ft. Nas & Kid Cudi

And of course, the man who made the song that’s been on everyone’s mind, is back again with another song boasting impressive features.  Hall of Fame has really been up and down in it’s preview, but we’ll see what it has to offer soon enough.

-Ronzo