I switch between sharing music that has become part of my life and really soaking in great new albums before I write about them. If that sounds too dramatic, I am constantly listening to music when I write and when I draw, paint or anything else I may be working on (hotels, competitions, etc). This summer has already offered several classic albums. The next couple blog entries from yours truly will focus on these classics that will define the summer season of hip hop. I will write about them in the order of their release dates to avoid ranking or getting into a pointless debate about which one is the best. They're all great, they're all hip hop and they all are worth your money or memory, if they're free like Elmatic is.
Elmatic, Elzhi, 5.10.2011
I mentioned this album at the end of my The Leftovers Unmixed Tape review, but it was only to give the heads up to download it. There was plenty of anticipation for Elmatic and even DJ Houseshoes said that the album exceeded his expectations in an interlude. It's not reflective of DJ Houseshoes's perception of Elzhi's potential, but it does show the time and creativity Elzhi put into this album.
Since Elzhi released The Preface, I have been writing about his music (2008). I can easily say that Elzhi is one of the best mc's out today. As long as he continues to make music, it's just a matter of time before everyone will reach this conclusion. While the music industry is still hashing out how to make money off recorded music, great albums like Elmatic could easily rake in millions of dollars based on the lyrical quality alone, but it was released for free download. Will Sessions produced the album and the musical quality of the album raises Elmatic from a lyrically gifted mc showing his talents to overall great music that everyone should know about.
At this point, there is no reason to talk about Elzhi's lyrical style. To get my take on his style, follow this link to my previous blog entry where I cover that.
Elmatic is basically a hip hop cover album paying tribute to Nas' Illmatic, an album from 1994 that many people agree is one of the best albums to come out during this special time in hip hop. It pays tribute all the way down to the album art, where Elzhi sits in front of Nas' classic album cover framed on the wall behind him. My attitude toward remixes, cover albums, genre standards, etc is that a musician needs to walk a tight rope balancing creative/individual style while maintaining respect for the original work. The other important factor in an album like this is if the artist puts his stamp on it. It's clear that Elmatic tackles this challenge with ease. Elzhi takes Illmatic to Motown and tells his stories that keep the storytelling theme true to Illmatic's precedent, but Elzhi's style creates a truly unique way to experiece the album. It changes it up with instrumental tracks and by replacing Queens with Detroit in all the right places.
[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/06-Represent-Prod-Will-Sessions-1.mp3|titles=06 Represent (Prod Will Sessions) 1]
There are only two featured arstists on Elmatic. Royce Da 5'9 is the only featured mc and the lead singer from Mint Condition, Stokely Williams (who I constantly mix up as William Stokely), is the only featured vocalist, which happens to be on the same track. The track I just mentioned, Life Is a Bitch, has a smoth bridge where Stokely Williams (St.Paul, MN) from Mint Condition shoulders the remainder of the track with Will Sessions.
[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/07-Lifes-A-Bitch_Feat.-Royce-da-59-and-Stokley-Williams-of-Mint-Condition-Prod-Will-Sessions-1.mp3|titles=07 Lifes A Bitch_Feat. Royce da 5'9 and Stokley Williams of Mint Condition (Prod Will Sessions) 1]
In the case that you have not downloaded Elmatic, make sure to download by following the links below. On Twitter, I mentioned a couple times that Skyzoo and Elzhi should team up on a collaborative album because right now, they both are at the top of their game and have styles that could mesh very well. Skyzoo's style is cerebral, similar to Elzhi's and they both have a lot of music ahead of them. Before the end of this blog entry, I need to make sure to remind people to stay around past the outro/shout out by Pete Rock. Similar to the Mind Millimeter track on Memoirs of Muhammad McFly, if you have a little patience you will be rewarded with another track.