All posts by Elementz

True hip hop head and Co-founder of The Hip Hop Foundation

Venomous 2000 – Sounds Of The Great Ones (ALBUM REVIEW)

I must first admit that as of late I have been slowly becoming disillusioned with hip hop music. There was once a time when this music was consistently dope, at the forefront and in abundance. When these dark clouds begin to surround me and I start to drift away from the culture, a glimmer of hope drags me back to continue this love affair with hip hop. In walks Jersey native Venomous 2000 and Serbian producer X Trilian with “Sounds Of The Great Ones” and order is once again restored to the hip hop universe!

I love to write album reviews, but before I transcribe my thoughts I first must fully digest the offering. With that being said I listened to ‘Sounds Of The Great Ones’ constantly from when it first dropped a few months back. I don’t believe in flicking through the contents of an album then hurrying out a quick review. This album was no exception. In fact, I probably spent more time absorbing the contents of this album than any of V’s previous work including the most excellent Will To Power.

First off, the album cover art is fresh and the title is fitting. You instantly get a good feeling that the content is going to be dope. The next thing I noticed is the number of awesome guest spots on this album, the older heads will definitely recognise and appreciate some big names from the 90’s and early 2000’s including The Artifacts, Cella Dwellas, Inspectah deck, 9th Prince, Tiye Phoenix, C Rayz Walz and Shabaam Sadeeq.

Venomous opens up with “Know Things,” hard hitting lyrics over a hard hitting beat from Trillian and some ill cuts from UK turntablist DJ TMB. Trillian is not a producer I’m familiar with but after this one I’m already wanting to hear more. A stand out track in my opinion is “Hot Damn” oooooweeeeeee!!! It’s a banger! Venomous, El Da Sensei, Tame One and Tiye Phoenix trade verses over some neck snapping production from Trillian. DJ Trickalome adds the finishing touches with some very nice cuts. Every verse is dope but Tiye Phoenix blows the spot on the track finale showing that she is indeed officially up there with the top femcees in the game.

After listening to “Homecoming” I felt it didn’t fit with the style of the rest of the album. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it but it was like I was suddenly listening to a different album. The original “Rock The Bells” was my introduction to Venomous back in 2011 and when I saw “Rock The Bells PT2″ on this track list I was full of anticipation. Just as I hoped, it didn’t disappoint. You won’t hear a better opening verse than the one V2G drops on this, it is flames! The combination of Reks and C Rayz Walz who add their own individual and unique styles heightens the all round listening experience. Again the production from Trillian and cuts from DJ TMB are near perfect.

Things slow down a little bit on “My Grandma Used To Say” A beautifully produced song that I immediately fell in love with. Venomous rides this hypnotic beat perfectly, his therapeutic verses had me reminiscing back to different times in my life. Shabaam Sadeeq and the Cella Dwellas lend a hand on “Products Of Evironment“. All four lyricists flex their mic skills to great effect, weaving in and out of Trilians production with the smoothest of flows. Another thumbs up.

Any comic fans out There? I’m a big fan of MF Doom and all the alias’s he uses on his albums and intros. I must say that I’ve never heard anything quite like “Marvelous” and the reference to so many Marvel characters on one track from venomous which is just exceptional. V shines here and shows just how gifted he is as a writer.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, along comes a Wu-Tang / Venomous combination on “Make Ya Speakers Pop.” This time Inspectah Deck , 9th Prince and NLZ step up to the mic. Trilian has pulled out all the stops on the production here and you can’t help but nod your head to this beat. DJ TMB lays his artistry to the cuts.

I kind of expected a low point towards the end of the album, but that didn’t actually happen, quite the opposite in fact. Over the course of the album I listened to a side of Venomous I’ve not heard before, a more aggressive mc and a more aggressive approach to his flow, an mc with the versatility to stand along side anybody on a track and shine. “Psalms 76” is one of my favourite joints on the album. V spazzes out without drawing breath and spits some heavy bars. I don’t live in the hood or remotely near anywhere dangerous but this had me stomping through the quiet streets of my home town like a Universal soldier. “It’s Over” is a short track acting like a musical outro. Still very dope all round. Conclusion, I’ve spent a lot of time with Venomous 2000’s music overall and he continues to produce albums that go from strength to strength. He always seems to grow and add something different to his arsenal on every joint. V is one of the few that still rides and bleeds for hip hop, something his fanbase will be most appreciative of. V proves time and again he can stand alone or shine alongside some of hip hops elite. The production on this album was top notch throughout. As I said before Trilian is a producer I was unfamiliar with but after listening to this I will definitely be checking for him in the future. The chemistry was almost like these guys had been working together for years. Hats off to DJ TMB and DJ Trickalome for making this album sound complete with all the dope cuts. All in all this is a dope sounding hip hop album that gave me a lot of listening pleasure. 4/5

BEATS or RHYMES? Which Element Holds More Importance?

Beats, Rhymes And Life

What is more important beats or Rhymes? This is a question that has been circulating since Melle Mel was stepping on broken glass. It is also a question that I personally find baffling. I mean, can this question seriously be up for debate? Surely both elements have equal importance? What are we actually saying here? That poor production is permissible provided that lyrics are of the highest order? Or on the other hand can we accept nursery rhymes so long as the track is a club banger? Has the bar become that low that we can only expect to have one without the other? Obviously there are times when production outshines the lyrical content and vice versa, but in my memory it was never by a huge margin. What I’m seeing today is a trend of extremism. We have a generation obsessed with cyphers and rap battling but can never envision a studio album and on the other end of the scale you have average to outright awful rappers mumbling incoherent garbage over high end production. Does this last point not encourage listeners to accept watered down lyrics with no substance and rappers that lack skills? Is this not what we are seeing more and more in the mainstream today? A culture where lyrics are becoming irrelevant?

To me the two elements go hand in hand, but what do you think? Does one element hold slightly more weight over the other? Leave a comment below ⇓

Lewis Parker – Release The Stress

Uk producer Lewis Parker may be a name you are unfamiliar with. If that is the case, it’s safe to say you have been guilty of some serious sleeping and now would be the perfect time to wake from your slumber to check his latest instalment “Release The Stress”. To keep it short and to the point Lewis Parker is equally at home producing or on the mic and it shows on this perfect track, “Release The Stress” which personifies that true school sound.

12″ Single coming October 17th.  Pre order at kingunderground.com

Has The Word “Classic” Lost Its Meaning In Hip Hop Terms?

In terms of a hip hop albums, what warrants the label “Classic”? What is the formula? Is there a set criteria to work from? I’ve been a hip hop fan for almost thirty years and grew up in a time when dope albums were dropping on the regular, but I don’t remember people calling them classics at the time of release as I do today. I mean, is their such a thing as an “Instant Classic”?

Classic hip hop albums

The Classic Question

Being able to call a song or album that’s less than a week old “a classic” in my opinion devalues the word classic. Is this really fraudulant hype? A marketing strategy? A lie to help decieve people into buying an album? Do people confuse classic with an album that has instant appeal? Have peoples standards just drastically dropped when passing judgement on a peice of work? Has the overall quality of hip hop music produced today deteriorated? Are the younger generation desperate to label something classic now because they feel it is their era of hip hop music and they want something to call classic? Do people find it difficult to define classic? Why can’t people settle for saying “This album shows all the marks of a classic” or “This album could be considered a classic in the future” Surely that would be more feasible? Let me finish on a couple of albums that I consider worthy of the word classic. Wu-tang Clan’s “36 chambers” and Dr Dre’s “The Chronic” I can play those albums today in 2016 from start to finish. They deserve the title because they have stood the test of time. They still sound as good now as they did in 1993 and 1992. There are also one or two albums from more recent times that are entering that “classic” phase but interestingly they are becoming rarer as the years roll by.

So now it’s over to you. Do you think “classic” has become a throwaway term?

Venomous 2000 – Will To Power (Album Review)

For those who don’t know, Venomous 2000 hails from Jersey and has been dropping gems for some time now. I know this may sound cliché but people be sleeping on V2G but I think that may be about to change with his latest release. Just to give you a little background information I first heard Venomous 2000 a few years back when checking out some new underground hip hop online. The track was “Rock The Bells” and I knew then that V had something special that needed to be heard. I can honestly say from that moment Venomous 2000 was somebody I wanted to hear more of.

The first thing that strikes you, even before you press play, is the album cover itself. You can’t help but notice how much thought and effort has gone into the superb cartoon style cover art which ties in perfectly with the albums theme. Very reminiscent of a time when you bought an album and the first thing you would do is read the inserts and glance over the images on your way home, eager to pop the CD in the deck and put it on blast. The last thing I want to mention is this is a dual case release, no digipak. Hallelujah!!!!

Although my first love is hip hop music, I like listening to a lot of different genres and appreciate music in general and that is why this album is so appealing from the opening track. It is not a typical sounding hip hop album and I love that. It pushes boundaries and has that element of originality that is often missing from today’s hip hop releases. The production is top notch and I think V building in Europe has added a new dimension to his overall sound. There are a large variety of producers that have blessed this project with their beat making skills. Robot Orchestra (Germany), DJ Manipulator (Boston), Rav P (Boston), AlexKidOne (Greece), Marshtini (Norway), Trillian (Serbia), Sizemen (France), Mentplus (Jersey), Chopzilla (Indianapolis), The Soul Plugger (Stockholm, Astronote (France) all feature on this project and are all producers to look out for in the future.

venomous2000 album art

The opening track titled “All You Need” is an uplifting track about self-belief and having all the tools within you to succeed through the hardships. Don’t let people take away your dreams by telling you, you can’t achieve them. A very cool song with a great message. The production is hypnotic and makes you really feel the lyrics.

I reviewed the lead single “Will Power” a few months ago and I still feel the same about it. I consider this to be a future b-boy anthem. The production is fast paced and has hip hop written all over it. It oozes the elements of the culture and ‘DJ End K’ blows the spot with the cuts. Again, the lyrics from V are motivating and uplifting and all walks of life can easily relate.

Venomous 2000 really turns up the heat on “Stormy Nights” and shows a different side by singing a melodic hook which is a refreshing change. The beat is chilled and laid back and the lyrics are fire. You could quite easily place yourself in a dimly lit bar or club on a summer evening taking in a few drinks listening to this track.

“Still keep it street techniques like all my ninja’s do, highly dependable, reaching for my pinnacle, musical orgasms without touching genitals”.

Although near impossible to pick out any low points on this album it is far more easy to pull out the high points and one in particular is “Elemental”. Again, major props on the production as the deep bass beat on this amazing track builds in to a neck-snapping frenzy! This is for the hip hop purists and the culture. Mc’s, DJ’s, B-boys, B-Girls, graff artists, stand up!!! V captures the scene with clever lyrics and punchlines throughout, while DJ End K adds perfect cuts to make this track complete. You can’t forget Bam dropping knowledge about the elements of hip hop on the outro.

Venomous hooks up with Methuzulah and Marie Kanu on “Reflect on Music” one of the few features of the album. A deep track were V and Methuzulah trade verses with meaningful lyrics offering plenty food for thought. Marie Kanu adds the hook with her beautiful yet powerful voice. Another faultless track.

“The People Want More” is a banger from start to finish. It has a lovely guitar sample and slamming drums. DJ End K kills the cuts as he does in all his features. The topic is in the title, make a stand and embrace change, stop talking and do something. You can kind of take V’s lyrics into all kinds of life situations. Venomous 2000 delivers more positive uplifting words, done with skill, style and finesse.

V2G gives an insight on his inner thoughts and emotions and what inspires him when it comes to being a mc, performing, recording tracks and writing rhymes on “Watch the Pen Smoke”. V speaks on his craft and growing rather than blowing up and how important it is to him bringing his best to the table and giving his listeners what they want. “I think about my audience, don’t want to sound defensive. Words get distorted in the centre of my orbit, cuz sometimes I aim to uplift but sound morbid”. V spits flames and rarely pauses to draw breath between bars. The beat is aggressive with a thumping bass line as well as DJ End K’s cuts using some fitting vocal samples. Another thumbs up.

Another stand out track for me is “I’ll See You When I Get There”. The production is smooth and laid back and actually gives me chills every time I hear it. I’m pretty sure the vocal sample at the beginning is Talib Kweli, I may be wrong. The vocal comes in and sets the tone “Our mission, we intercept your transmission bringing exactly what the fans missing” as the beat kicks in perfectly. V’s flow is like butter “hey yo, the youth looking nappy, happy, glad their in my presence, like the teacher, the blast master bringing you the essence.” Awesome.

More happy-feel good lyrics and an all-round nice positive vibe on “Already Gone” featuring some nice female vocals from the Candelarias. Here V hands out more life skills for the listener. Grab life with both hands and don’t waste your time is the message here.

venomous eagle eyeVenomous shares his conscious side on “Now Justice” (NJ) and his concerns with ignorance, struggle, world affairs, media, systems and governments. Venomous demonstrates spiritual beliefs on “Force of The Orisha”. He shares stories of life growing up in New Jersey on “Is Life Fair” “The Great Escape” explains the need to get away from the negativity and stresses of daily life. All of which are as dope as the rest of the album in all categories.
My conclusion, this album has something for everyone and something for everyone to relate too. A well balanced album with dope meaningful lyrics, dope beats and dope cuts. V2G really shines from start to finish and the growth he has shown over the last few years as an artist and particularly on this album is phenomenal. You can tell a lot of hard work, time and effort has gone into the making of this joint and it shows in the quality of all the tracks. Even the intro’s and outro’s are dope. The artwork is cool as already mentioned. I can’t honestly fault this album in any way. The production is super tight and sways from the typical sounding hip hop production in spells which to me is refreshing and original. If you’re into scratching like myself you’ll enjoy DJ End K’s contributions, he displays awesome sounding scratches and cuts on all his features. If you’re looking for an album that pushes boundaries and displays elements of originality while keeping the fundamental elements of a dope sounding hip hop album intact then you will enjoy this release. This album taps into your emotions and makes you really feel its contents, an album that in my opinion will definitely last the test of time.

RATING:



Rappers Need More Will Power As Venomous 2000 Elevates To A Higher Level.

A few days ago I was lucky enough to be passed a copy of the new single from Venemous 2000 “Will Power”, taken from his upcoming album “Will To Power”. First of all I would like to mention that myself and the rest of the hip hop foundation have been following V2G for many years. He was one of the first mc’s we covered back when THHF was just a facebook page  and we continue to watch and listen to his releases from across the pond.

I consider Venomous 2000 to be one of the illest mc’s on the indie circuit today and somebody who’s style epitomises what I feel hip hop is all about. His latest release “Will Power” is just further testament of that, with it’s accompanying music video that just oozes all the visual hip hop elements. We even get a glimpse of the God MC himself, (Rakim), as he rocks the same stage.

“Making worldwide connects has only strengthened V’s artillary and he is sounding more and more like a seasoned veteran that has mastered his craft”

The track itself has a title and lead message that’s self explanatory, “Will Power” is Venomous telling his audience that he will succeed and be the best at what he does with nobody out there to stop him or tell him different. I must say It’s refreshing to hear somebody recite these words because I feel the competitive edge and determination to master ones craft has some what disappeared from a lot of todays hip hop music. As long as one stays determined and true to themselves “anything is possible,” and that is exactly how this track makes me feel. It is positive and uplifting and it truly does inspire me when I listen to it. Intelligent lyrics throughout with a bboy sounding beat, courtesy of Alex KidOne from Athens Greece and mind blowing cuts from DJ End K of France.

venomous

The B-side “Elevate” produced by The Soul Plugger is a soulful track that is laid back and will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. A real nice sounding beat with more dope sounding cuts that add even more flavour. You can definitely feel Venomous on this one. More meaningful lyrics with a new sense of direction, a new hunger, a new passion to achieve what he has set out to do all these years. Making worldwide connects has only strengthened V’s artillary and he is sounding more and more like a seasoned veteran that has mastered his craft. He is definitely bringing back what hip hop and fans alike have been missing. All I will say is watch this space, going off these offerings I expect big things.

King RA & Bunty Beats – Back To The Essence (Album Review)

To me in this world of hip hop music there is nothing better than the thought of a rapper/Dj/producer combination. Call me old fashioned if you will but the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention when I hear an MC spitting heat over a banging beat with fresh cuts. The history runs deep with the likes of Guru and DJ premier, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, KRS One and DJ Scott La Rock to name a few that have carried the flag in this section in the past. What happened to the days when a duo could carry the can for a whole album without the need for guest spots, star producers, ghost writers or guest djs on the cuts? Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that but it kind of seems like a distant memory when duo’s and even trio’s like De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill where churning out dope albums without much help. It’s just refreshing to hear a project that falls into that category. I don’t know about you guys but I miss that relationship between rapper and Dj/Producer. When artists are able to build a repertoire and that musical chemistry that can create classic music.

The present day and in steps King RA and Bunty Beats. Quite an unusual match up with a Jersey MC and Bunty hailing from the UK. I suppose the internet and the explosion of social media makes it easier for people from all walks of life connect. I’ll be perfectly honest I didn’t know anything about these dudes before, but that’s all changed since hearing the album so lets begin this review.

Firstly I love the albums title “Back To The Essence”. The fact that it has been thehiphopfoundation’s moto and tagline since we launched in 2012, only got me more intrigued to take a listen. The front cover is pretty plain with the name of the album and King RA and Bunty Beats written across the front. In all honesty I think they could of been a bit more adventurous with the artwork but I suppose “content is king” at the end of the day. The intro is real cool and straight to the point. King recites the words “Knowledge is an important element of hip hop that is missing in today’s culture and music and the only way we can actually get back to that is to bring it back to the essence” I instantly connected with these heartfelt and genuine words because I could not agree more with this statement and message.

The first track titled “King” comes in all guns blazing. The beat bangs with fierce bass and horns and a nice sample from Run DMC that fits the track like a glove. From the get go King RA introduces himself as title contender that plain and simply he is here to takeover from the weak competition. He flows through lines with ease and precision. All competion Fall back King means business and if you need schooling take his class. Bunty cuts up the sample and showcases his skills on the outro.

rapper king raOn “One Of The Best” King stakes his claim to just that over a nice laid back beat from Bunty. King gives reasons for why he is one of the best in every line. He knows exactly what the hip hop masses need and he’s going to give it to them in full. “Bring the hardest ryhmes out I’m that x10 x that by a hundred when I spit this flem. Take several playbacks just to catch these gems, the new, new testament, the truth when I represent. Only here for hip hop and the betterment, good enough reason to keep bringing medicine to the masses, they in need of more relevence, less dumbing down, well here’s some intelligence.” King epitomises his intentions on this track. Dope use of vocal samples by Bunty again on this. This time he uses Guru and again it works perfectly.

“Cry Now” has a nice beat and strings. King delivers venomous lyrics to anyone who cares to step. More lyrical beatdowns and the phyical kind if you enter his zone.

King shares his struggles and mistakes he’s made in everyday life on “Gonna Make It” He’s not prepared to stand still and accept this. That was the past you cant dwell on it, you have to move on if you want to change your life and reach your personal goals. He explains that motivation and focus are key and with a few life changes you can achieve whatever you want. “This time I made up my mind, worked from within, changed the design. Heard a few things about managing time, opened my ears took words from the wise. Turned off the TV to cut down the lies, put my foot on the gas, turned up my drive. Wipe the crusts off, opened my eyes” The track is inspiring and uplifting gives the listener food for thought. Another laid back beat with a soft sounding piano riff and again the cuts are fautless.

King isn’t just nice on the mic he can hand out beatdowns as well and on “Get Em” he proves just that. The beat is moody and grimey and RA spits hardcore lyrics that will get you hype at the push of a button. If you need to get worked up about something this is the track for you.

“Chillin” and “Golden Era” kind of compliment eachother. RA talks about taking it back to the essence and describing everything wrong with the rap game today and where it needs to go with the the help of this duo taking out all fake competitors. Golden era has a nice 90s style beat and RA pays homage to the golden era music and its legacy. He salutes his fans and describes what hip hop hes going to continue to bring to the table. Only the real, no watered down hip pop. He ain’t going nowhere is the big message here.

“the production is tight and Bunty shines on every track with the beats and cuts which really does allow King RA to do his thing”

Another interlude were RA talks about how it used to mean something to be original and have your own style that brought something new to the table. He goes on to say that his own intentions are to be original and not copy or bite anybody elses style. This leads the listener to one of the standout tracks of not only the album but this year so far “No Copy“. The beat is fire and RA spits flames word for word and line for line throughout.” Why these rap birds nowadays rocking dresses, I had to address this. Turned up to stress this, you guys seem obsessed with, being bitch, bitch n***as make no sense. Thats why women switch sides start licking clits.” Booooooooooooooom!!!!!!!!!

RA expresses his conscious side on “Rise Up” an uplifting song for the people. RA explains Its everybodies responsibility to raise awareness and not only that its time for less words and more action. RA touchs on many topics, revolution to dirty cops to bringing back family structure. The need for fathers and mothers to guide the youth. I can totally relate to this in every way. RA mentions no colour and that we are one under the sun, original and authentic. Wise words from the King and another dope beat from Bunty who tears it up on the cuts at the end.

GUDLUV has the only feature of the album EJdoesit, a female artist who lays soft vocals on the chorus which fits the song and is a nice touch. Topic here is love in the relationship. This track shows King’s versatility on subject matter showing he can spit to any type of track. If you thought the album was about to go soft, think again. The last three tracks finish like it all started, HARD!!! “Slow but calm” is another grimey beat with a biggie sample on the chorus. King weighs in with more lyrics on “Sinister”.
The Album even finishes on a high with “Metaphors” the production is ill, a real neck snapper. King spits more heat at the competition. “Which punk gonna jump up next, try to flex in a no flex zone, broke neck” Love it.

Ok, verdict? In all honesty King RA and Bunty Beats have lyrics and beats for days. They never seem to run out of steam. The album is a banger and their are few low points, if any. If you like your hip hop with no frills then this is for you. For me this is hip hop as it is mean’t to be done. I love the fact the album has no guest spots, it shows RA can more than handle the spotlight on every track with dope, wholesome lyrics that can fill any listeners tummy. The album has substance and meaning and the tracks flow nicely without the need to fast forward which is always a good sign. Very little filler, the album was consistent in all departments. I hope this duo stick together for future projects as I feel it will grow even bigger with time. Let me also add the production is tight and Bunty shines on every track with the beats and cuts which really does allow King RA to do his thing. I love big beats and cuts with dope lyrics and this delivers in every way what I expect in a hip hop album. The only downside to me was the already mentioned album art, it didn’t stand out enough for me. Like they say though “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The other slight gripe was that the tracks were a little short for me and when I wanted more lyrics and cuts they never came.

RATING: (4/5)

Confidence & DJ Technic Interview Part 1


Back at the close of 2012 you may recall Brick City emcee “Beneficence” dropped his boom bap extravaganza Concrete Soul. Well it was the heavyweight production on a few key tracks from that album that led me to discover Boston producer  Confidence and his cut-master brother DJ Technic.

In this recent 2 part interview,  Confidence & DJ Technic recall their music production journey starting out from the mid 90’s to the present, giving valuable insights and advice on what it takes to become a respected boom bap beat maker.


 

Venomous 2000 Talks About What Inspired him To Become An MC


I have been following Venomous 2000 since I first heard “Rock The Bells” with Dj Priority. That amazing track was also one of the very first songs we featured on TheHipHopFoundation Facebook page, back before we even had a website.

We have come a long way since then and things haven’t stopped for Venomous either. In fact, with a string of full projects, European tours and collaborations with the likes of Inspectah Deck, John Robinson and El Da Sensei, Venomous’ rise through the underground ranks is going just as I predicted it would.

During the final leg of his recent European tour, we caught up with “TheUltraMC” to talk about what inspired him to first pick up the mic, his musical influences growing up, personal views on the current hip hop scene and his future aspirations for 2015 and beyond.