Listen Up: Fashawn- The Ecology

Fashawn’s long awaited sophomore album is a total triumph. The sound centers around a rapper with unmatched potential and unbridled frustration bubbling up around Fresno’s jagged borders, a city as unrelenting as the art it produces.

Crafted by a host of producers, but still focused on the beats of long-time collaborator Exile, The Ecology isn’t cornered by geographical barriers. Of course it boasts plenty of California love, but it’s the next-level pressure of executive producer and Mass Appeal label head Nas that pushes the sound to new heights.

There will be lots of records discussed and debated here this year, but I doubt anything will move me this much. This is the first release of 2015 that hits you with one monster moment after another. You’ll run “Confess” back as soon as it’s done…bet.

More info here.  Get familiar.


Watch: Swag Toof- “False Profits” Prod. by Ryan Evans

Harlem’s Swag Toof need you to listen. The fakes will show no love. Get in where you fit in, and keep your eyes open because you might not make it.  “False Profits” is a grim clip from the Brothers Toof, but in the same breath, it’s as real as you’d expect from two honest artists just trying to make cents of it all.

Check out the Toof Gang’s work here, including the fantastic Evans Gate EP, and be sure to catch their shenanigans on twitter and Instagram @SwagToof. You’ve been warned…

Flume & Chet Faker feat. Koncept: “Drop The Game” Remix

Koncept has blessed us with his take on Chet Faker & Flume’s “Drop The Game”.  The Brown Bag All Star proves his influences come from all over the map, rapping over the soulful Aussie track with serious patience and introspection.

Koncept is gearing up for a massive 2015 including an EP and full length. Ready yourself for new songs, remixes and videos every week leading up to the launch of Koncept & J57. In the meantime, spin this a few times at the top of your Saturday soundtrack.  I got a beer in the bag and the color of the paper is…brown.

Lace Up: Extra Butter x Reebok Ventilator “Street Meat”

Extra Butter teamed with Reebok in early February to bring us the “Street Meat”, a Halal cart/street vendor influenced 25th anniversary Ventilator model.

If you read this site, or have seen my Instagram account (@hardworkinghand) you understand that I appreciate craftsmanship in my kicks. I don’t grab every Jordan retro, or collaboration runner that hits shelves or sites.  I get pairs that feel authentic and unique.  From the packaging to the materials used throughout the shoe, the Street Meat is both.

The shoe is built to reflect the flavor of the infamous Halal Guys food cart. The midsole is speckled yellow to resemble rice. The toe and pieces of the outsole are pink to represent the inevitable uncooked chunks of meat you’re likely to fork into your mouth. Chicken, lamb, shredded lettuce…it’s all here. One of the most unique touches is how Extra Butter worked their “EB” logo into Reebok’s trademark stitching.

Extra Butter’s Street Meat is a special shoe, and quite possibly the most impressive pair in my collection. It’ll take a monster release this year to top it. More info on the kicks found here. Order up.

Brand New: Kendrick Lamar- The Blacker The Berry

Kendrick loved himself and the internet blasted him for it. We were looking for heat on the first single from his heavily anticipated sophomore record and he played it safe. Nothing safe the second time out as he goes about business with an Any Means Necessary mentality.

“The Blacker The Berry” is that heat we so desired. Lamar isn’t wasting any time on this five minute banger. He’s flat out putting it down. Fans…naysayers…take notice.  If this doesn’t get you hyped for the potentially most hyped record of all time, what will?

Next Up: Supreme Villain (Madchild x Slaine)

Supreme VillainMadchild & Slaine have teamed up as Supreme Villain to give us “The Enemy” a slice of horror produced by The Arcitype. It’s serial killer rap at its finest. Fold a body up in the trunk type shit. It’s a cut from the ‘Girlhouse’ soundtrack, a slasher flick starring Slaine.  “The Enemy” showcases this imperfectly precise duo at their sleazy best.

The La Coka Nostra and Swollen Members collab will eventually be cranking out a Supreme Villain record, so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, enjoy this monster.


First Listen: Nobody Likes a Racist

Dezmatic, one half of Giant Gorilla Dog Thing and co-owner of Pigfood Records, has some simple advice. Slow down. Pay for quality sound.  Do a few less shows. Ironically, Nobody Likes A Racist is rooting for everybody.

NOLAR is the perfect vehicle for Dez to do what he does better than most. Rap doesn’t mean shit if you can’t write, and these gems are proof positive of his pen being mighty as fuck. With the saturation of hip hop everywhere you look, it’s nice to hear 6 minutes of flat out spitting. Enjoy.