Saturday, December 3, 2016

MC Overlord - A Better Funk

Donnell Robinson, better known as MC Overlord, is an artist that represents from the appalling streets of Austin, TX. Although he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, he moved to Austin, Texas in 1987 and has resided there ever since. A veteran in the underground rap scene, Overlord has been around since the early nineties and is still active today. He is considered by many to be a pioneer in the vast city of Austin and is appropriately dubbed as "The Godfather of ATX Hip Hop." He is known for performing with live instruments and creating a genre defying atmosphere with the congenial mix of thought provoking lyrics over awe inspiring rhythms. His love for music runs deep since he was brought up on the genre of Funk & Soul. It wasn't until his teenage years where he eventually developed a taste for Hip Hop. He would rap for fun at his local high school and could freestyle of the top of his head for hours on end. While attending Austin Community College, he made an overwhelming decision. Instead of pursuing a degree from the acclaimed school, he would turn his past time hobby into a full time career. He decided to become a rapper and soon dropped out of school altogether. A Better Funk is his second album and it was released in 1995 on Lordship Records. The record is beautifully produced by DJ Cassanova, Charlie Redd, Micheal Hale, David Garza and Ter'ell Shahid. Together, they incorporate the use of live instruments into each and every track. Everything from percussion instruments to various guitars, keyboards and even saxophones are used to their ultimate apex. The beats are crafted from the ground up and are a treat to listen to. A couple of them are sample driven but the rest are all as original as can be. The record is also strong in the lyrical department. MC Overlord's powerful rhymes include a steady dose of word play and his burly tone delivers each line with precision. His subject matter is also diverse because it touches on various topics such as race, unity, equality, community and other compelling ideas that affect humanity as a whole. He indulges the listener from the very first track and keeps them hooked till the last. The album closes out at a humble total of eleven tracks which are all equally entertaining. Guest appearances are made by Dee, Ter'ell Shahid, Dah-Veed, Smooth Nelson and Charlie Redd. It is certainly not easy to record with live instruments which is why most producers stick to an electronic drum machine to provide different sounds. Overlord's unorthodox approach which involves live instruments is extremely thought out. The musicians provide an impressive foundation for the artist to freely express himself. In return, the emcee excels on the microphone and makes sure that their efforts are not wasted. This is an excellent work of art that has the unique ability to reach individuals on a conscious level. The album did not get any mainstream attention or appreciation but it gets plenty of love and respect from the deep vaults of the underground.

Deadly Verses
Put 'Em Up (Rasta Mix) ft. Dee

Deadly Video

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Day After Hell Broke Loose

The Day After Hell Broke Loose is a compilation album which is presented by Bigg Tyme and Rap-A-Lot Records. It was constructed upon the success of "The Day Hell Broke Loose" series by Swishahouse Records. This album was released in the early part of 2004 on Rap-A-Lot Records. Veteran producers Bigg Tyme and Mike Dean are credited for providing the tunes. Together, they do an excellent job by creating a palette of rhythms that strictly cater to the fans of the Swang & Bang genre. The beats are mostly contemporary and upbeat in nature. The creators made sure that the blend stays electric and musically sound at all times. Lyrics tend to vary since this is a joint venture between two of the most prolific record labels from the South and their respective artists. One can only expect greatness when the likes of Scarface, Bun B, Devin The Dude and Z-Ro are fused with Lil' Flip, Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, J-Dawg, Magno, Lil' Ron, Lil' Mario and Dolla. The album closes out with a total of fourteen tracks and aside from a couple of them, their subject matter mostly lingers around materialistic values and financial gains. All in all it's a decent compilation and one that was released at the height of the H-Town takeover phenomenon. The two camps capitalized on the alluring situation at hand and put forth a genuine effort. The record beautifully withstands the test of time and should deserve a spot in any Southern Rap collection. 

Deadly Verses
Z-Ro (Remix) ft. Z-Ro

Sunday, November 13, 2016

John Got'ti - Cut Throat

John Got'ti is a rapper who represents from the murky swamps of New Orleans, LA. Cut Throat is his debut album and it was released in 2001 on Big Pocket Records with Orpheus Music overlooking the whole project. The album is largely produced by Mr. Sinista while Kriz Kang lends him a hand on a few tracks. The rhythms can be summed up as that renewed New Orleans sound that really became prominent after the new millennium. They contain various elements are mostly uptempo in nature.  The beats are not groundbreaking but are still passable in the end. Now, one could easily assume a darker theme will be presented due to the record's title but that is certainly not the case. Lyrically, Got'ti can hold his own on the microphone. The rhymes are conventional and driven straight to the point. His tone is a bit typical but the rate of speed is somewhat rapid. He also tries to incorporate different styles into his delivery, most notably from the genre of Bounce Music. The end result is again nothing revolutionary but still acceptable. Guest appearances are made by Sassy C, D. Mike, Superstar and Mr. Sinista. The album finishes off with a total of fourteen tracks and while there are a few fillers, the rest remain solid. Overall, a decent effort by the N.O. native and one that is adequate enough to be given a listen. The album has it's moments and when it tends to go downhill, the artist quickly counters it. That's a good sign, it shows awareness and a positive intent from his part. Sadly, the subject matter is just not broad enough to reach a wider audience and that is the only real knock against this otherwise respectable release.

Deadly Verses
Rest In Peace

Deadly Video

"Cut Throat"  artist John Gotti from Randy Rome Walsh on Vimeo.

Friday, November 11, 2016

T-Pop Da I-10 Juggla - Makin' Moves

Joshua Thibodeaux, better known as T-Pop, is a rapper from the infamous city of Lafayette in Louisiana. He has also held residence in the notorious southside of Houston, TX. His nickname, "Da I-10 Juggla," is derived from the two cities connecting to each other through the renowned highway system known as, Interstate 10. Makin' Moves is his debut album and it was released in 2001 on Laf-Tex South Records, a sub-label under the parent, Laftex Records. Production on this piece is mainly handled by the magnificent, DJ Dolby D while Mr. Phat and T-Pop also chip in on a few cuts. The beats are strictly southern in demeanor and since Dolby D blesses the tracks with his brilliant creativity, the rhythms become that much more entertaining. Although they carry an upbeat pattern and are quite contemporary in composure, they are still very appealing to the ears. Lyrically, T-Pop is exceptional on the microphone. His laid back tone and raw southern dialect go hand in hand. His rhymes are delivered at a good pace and are dripping with fluent word play. While his level of energy and enthusiasm never drops, there are times when he becomes just a little repetitive. Not to worry though, an excellent star studded guest list is there to back him up when times tend to get bad. Featuring on the record is, Trae, Botany Boys, 3-2, I.B.G., Lil' Flex, Den Den, Mike D, Big Pokey, Wood, Deadend B.G.'s, D-Gotti, C-Nile, Big Tantrum, Black, Young Mafios, Pedoro, Toemas, Dwayne Parker and Bryson Bernard. All in all this is a very solid release, especially when considering the fact that it is a debut album. Not only did Da I-10 Juggla present himself with validity and clarity, he also managed to assert himself onto the Southern Rap scene. In the end, this work of art remains as a hidden gem and has the tendency to shine from each and every angle.

Deadly Verses
Ain't No Stopping ft. Black, C-Nile, Deadend B.G.'s, Pedoro & Big Tantrum

Album Notes
* T-Pop is also affiliated with the legendary Screwed Up Click.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

K-Otix - Spontaneity

K-Otix is a trio that represents from the forbidden streets of Houston, TX. It consists of Damien, Mic and The ARE. The group is most known for showcasing their traditional style of Hip Hop while still maintaining a Southern demeanor. K-Otix was formed in the early part of 1992 and while the group's main alias has remained unchanged, it was their individual names that varied. Damien was known as Dookie Luv, Mic was known as Mic The Madman and The ARE was known as Roc Smuv. It wasn't until 1996 when they decided to drop their former monikers and started work on their debut. Their original plan was to work with another group out of Houston which went by the name of Example. Now as far as styles are concerned, Example and K-Otix were on the same page. They both swayed away from the typical style of Southern Rap and really molded themselves after their East Coast colleagues. The two groups planned to release a double EP with Side 1 belonging to K-Otix and Side 2 belonging to Example. Things did not go as planned and the idea of the double EP was shelved altogether. Both parties took their rightful material and released their own projects separately. Example released the highly covetable EP called, "Impulses" and K-Otix countered with Spontaneity, which is certainly of equal caliber. Spontaneity is their debut album and it was released in 1997 on K-Otix Entertainment. The album is produced by the group's masterful in house producer, Russell "The ARE" Gonzales. The ARE, who is a protege of the legendary DJ Premier, really models his style after the great Gang Starr DJ. It was under Premier's tutelage where ARE truly learned the fundamentals of proper production. The beats are sample driven for the most part. They contain various elements of Hip Hop and are a treat to listen to. ARE's recipe of construction is a simple one. He samples a dope hook, punches in the bass and finishes it off with a cadence of drums. This theme then serves as a backbone for the group's identity. Lyrically the record is also very strong. Damien and Mic are no slouch on the microphone. They tend to display a lot of word play as well as an extensive and imaginative vocabulary. Their rhymes are fiery, vivid and intellectual. They immediately take the listener hostage from the very first track. Also worth noting is the chemistry the two artists have with each other. The EP closes out at a modest total of eight bonafide tracks leaving the listener craving for more. Overall, this was a solid effort by the group and one that was well worth the wait. Aside from a handful of acts, most groups out of the city of Houston are somewhat one dimensional and tend to jock each other for style or publicity. It takes a whole different mindset and not to mention the courage, to go against the norm in the South. K-Otix unorthodox approach is what separates them from the rest. Spontaneity garnered a good bit of success and eventually led the group to sign a major distribution deal with the New York based label known as, Bronx Science. Even with the success of a few singles on the radio and the aforementioned publishing deal, K-Otix never really broke into the mainstreams. Then again, maybe that was something they weren't too concerned about. It seems as if they were quite content in the underground, challenging other artists for the subterranean throne. In the end, their vast career spans over two decades and their catalog of timeless material certainly speaks for itself.

Deadly Verses
7 MCs

Album Notes
* This EP is color coded into three variations.
* First Pressing: Yellow - Second Pressing: Red - Third Pressing: Blue
* The ARE left the group in 2004 before rejoining them in 2015.
* K-Otix is also a member of the super group, Ethos.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Suthern Merchandise - Suthern Stress

Suthern Merchandise, also known as the Suthern Merchandise Family, is a collective from the illicit streets of San Antonio, TX. Although membership has varied throughout their active years, the core congregation has remained unchanged. The main group consists of Ricé, PFK, Black Satin, K-9, Big B, Lady Lunatic, 2 Face and Big Jay. This is their debut compilation album and it was released in the early part of 1997 on Suthern Merchandise Records. The excellent southern fried production is provided by none other than the skillful producer, Ricé. His classic approach and superb craftsmanship is brought upon every track. The beats are laced with numerous instruments and are free of samples. They contain deep bass lines with solid drums which are then intricately mixed with twangy guitar licks and topped off with some smooth synthesizers. This recipe is used during the whole of the album and it certainly gives of a satisfying vibe. The lyrics are also on point. The members take full advantage of the rhythms and present their end of the deal with utmost precision. Their rhymes are delivered sharply and explicitly. The pace is not at a brisk level but still moves along at a very decent rate. All members are quite accomplished on the microphone but the ones that standout the most are K-9 and Black Satin. Also worth taking a note of are the sublime backup vocals and superior chorus hooks which are meshed into most of the tracks. The album closes out with a total a of twelve genuine cuts and they are all equally enjoyable. As a group, Suthern Merchandise dropped one more album towards the end of the year 1997 known as, "Still In Da Game." All in all, this record exemplifies the masterful artistry which dwells in the lower levels of San Antonio's massive underground music scene. It shows a lot of promise as well as an admirable amount of talent from the parties involved. Although this was a very limited release with a restricted number of pressings, the record still has the uncanny ability to keep up with any mainstream release from the South.

Deadly Verses
Suthern Merchandise ft. K-9

Album Notes
* Suthern Merchandise disbanded in the year 2002.
* K-9 would later change his alias to K-9ine.

Friday, August 26, 2016

R.E.S Records - The RESurrection Compilation

R.E.S Records was a Christian Rap label from the unforgiving streets of Houston, TX. The label was started in the mid nineties by Richard Hunt and Otto Osterman. Their main objective was to give a home to the aspiring local Christian Rap emcees in Houston while also keeping them on the right track. The two founders quickly recruited BDI and Dez from the infamous group, Nuk Ruk. The two members from Nuk Ruk were considered to be the primary pieces and the main source of strength for the record label. It was through their help that the record label eventually got more artists on board such as, Tre-9, Snapz, 20/Twenty, Manifest, NSC, The Foundation and last but not least, the singer Jamecia Williams. Work on this compilation began as soon as the crew was assembled in the early part of 1999. It was completed in the year 2000 and released as a debut album by the R.E.S Records. Production is solely handled by the masterful, BDI and he does not disappoint. BDI's rhythmical pattern is quite unique. He fuses the traditional style of Hip-Hop with the flavorful Southern style. He does this with not only the use of a typical drum machine but also with the use of live instrumentation. Most notably through the work of various guitars and pianos. He also adds his distinct scratches with the turntables which ends up being the final key ingredient for his magnificent beats. Lyrically the album also excels. There is never a dull moment due to the various artists used to create the rhymes. Each artist brings an intellectual style to the table and claim their stake on the microphone with utter precision. Word play is presented with riddling rhyme schemes which makes the end result thoroughly captivating. BDI, Dez, Tre-9 and 20/Twenty are the standouts here but the rest of the acts are not too far behind. Guest appearances are made by Reverse, Queen D, MOG, DJ Excell, B-Boy and Kathy Abshire. All in all, this is an excellent compilation by the label and a must have for any Christian Rap fan. They could have easily talked about materialistic possessions, women, money and the like but they chose to go against the grain. It is always good to hear artists who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and go against the flow of the norm. The album gives off a truthful yet positive message and it can only be deciphered by listening to their powerful and thought provoking music.

Deadly Verses
Verbal Revolution