Ron Jon Bovi is an Artist You Should Follow

Remember when lyrics and hard beats mattered in Hip Hop? You’ve probably had that conversation with your friends before, while you’re looking at your radio hearing that mumble rap. You need something to cleanse those ear pallet with some Ron Jon Bovi.

No I didn’t misspell Jon Bon Jovi. This is Ron Jon Bovi, a group composed of Detroit’s own Phat Kat and Oakland’s Casual of the Hieroglyphics. The two go all the way back to ’94, when Casual Dropped “That’s How it is”. The two linked up, after Phat Kat found some jewlery some cuban ladies stole from Casual. The two have been friends since, and recently made Neaux Mursi. They recruited Unjust for production. Here’s three reasons you should follow Ron Jon Bovi.

You’ll love the production on Neaux Mursi

Unjust was a perfect fit for this album. He brought that tough, hard, organic hip hop beats that make you reminisce of the 90’s sound. No sugar coating, just raw hip hop that every head longs for.

You’ll be reunited or acquainted with Phat Kat, and you’ll be glad you did

I discovered Phat Kat in ’03 with The Undeniable. That’s when I discovered Detroit artists who weren’t named Eminem at the time. He’s got a long discography, going back to the 90’s. If you enjoy Neaux Mursi, you should check out Phat Kat’s solo stuff.

If you like the Detroit hip hop sound, you’ll be listening to “We Get it Poppin” on repeat.

Raw, gritty, and hard. That’s what Detroit sound is. Beats with lyrics that’ll make you bang your head. With Guilty Simpson on this track, I haven’t heard a track from Detroit this good since J. Dilla.

Check these guys out when you get the chance. The album is streaming at Amazon and Apple Music.

Illism is a Group You Should Follow

It’s gotten a little harder to find up-and-comers who’re getting a buzz lately. I’ve usually checked out the charts on CMJ, but they’ve folded and left a big hole with colleges to report charts to. So I’ve checked out the NACC charts (north american college and community charts) and get intrigued by artists, who’ve self-released their albums. Enter Illism.

Illism is composed of hip hop artist Envy, and R&B vocalist Fancy. They’re a husband and wife duo that worked together in 2015. The two made music, separately before then. In 2008, Envy’s single “Ringtone” cracked Billboard’s hot 100 singles. Fancy’s self-titled track broke out in 2010 after it appears on VH1’s Basketball Wives. You need to check them out, and I’m about to give you four reasons to follow them.

Illism is an incredible crossover between hip hop and RnB

Their sound would make Mary J. Blige insanely jealous. I haven’t heard a duo as good as this since Mary J and Method Man did “You’re all I need”. You hear duo’s, and they’re mostly watered down. Check out “MNSOTA” and “Talk About It”, and you’ll agree that their sound stands above the rest.

They’re a perfect example of DIY-ers getting their name out

They have their own MAGAZINE on their website. Well-done, detailed, and with advertisements (their merch). Cool as hell and a creative way to get their name out. Add that to their website, and Youtube, and you can tell they’re getting their hustle on.

their music has been on over 50 cable series, movies, and commercials

Have you watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians? Jersey Shore? Orange is the New Black? If you said yes to any of these, you probably heard an Illism track on there. It doesn’t stop with TV, Illism’s music was in movies such as Ride Along and Harold and Kumar.

Illism chosen as a finalist in Prince’s “Battle of the Bands” competition at Paisley Park

Prince loved to work with new talent, like The Time and 3rdEyeGirl. To pay tribute, Prince’s heirs are hosting a battle of the bands competition at Paisley Park. Illism was one of the four finalists in the competition where more than 125 acts entered the contest.

Check out Illism for yourself, at their website, soundcloud, or get their music at apple music, amazon music, or google play,

Young RJ is an artist you should follow!

As time goes by, we all get caught up with things that keep us busy. Whether it be Work, School, or your family, we sometimes lose track of movies, tv shows, or music (music especially for me). Thanks to social media, you sometimes are able to keep tabs on what’s going on. When I was flipping through Twitter, I saw one of the members of Slum Village dropping a solo album.

Young RJ is one of the co-members of Slum Village. He first got connected with the group, when he was J Dilla’s intern. Dilla was one of the founding members of Slum Village, along with Baatin and T3. When Dilla When Dilla left the group in ’02 to pursue a solo career, Young RJ stepped in the producer chair. He co-produced Dirty District with T3. He recently produced tracks on the Yes! album in 2015. There’s more to Young RJ, though, than just producing. That why i’m gonna give you three reasons to follow him.

His latest album proves that he can spit heavy bars in addition to laying down tight beats

Young RJ has gotten in front of the mic with T3 on some of the latest Slum Village albums. However, he’s done some solo work that got a lot of buzz. Before you jump on Blaq Royalty check out “Huh” and “Issues”. He makes you think as well as bounce.

Blaq Royalty has something for everyone

Young RJ can spit some heavy bars, something that lyric fans can appreciate. You got the joints that’ll make you think. There’s also some tracks the ladies can appreciate like “Motion”.

Young RJ was J Dilla’s former intern. Progressive Hip Hop lives on

If you’re tired of the trap beats on commercial radio, let Young RJ be your refuge. If you listen to a producer, whose mentors were J Dilla and Pete Rock, you already know you’re going to listen to a REAL hip hop album. Something with progressive and organic beats that bring out the best in lyrics.

Check out Young RJ’s album. It’s streaming on Amazon, Soundcloud, and Apple Music

Lil Shalimar is an Artist You Should Follow

If you don’t know about Run the Jewels yet, you need to catch up because they’re the hottest hip hop duo since Outkast (that’s my take personally). Killer Mike and El-P are great together, flow well together, and are incredible live. If they come to your town, I highly suggest you go. If you’re and underground cat like myself, you’d know that El-P has produced some of his beats. So when I found out Little Shalimar contributed production to the past RTJ albums, I had to learn more about him.

Little Shalimar, aka Torbitt Schwartz, is a DJ from Brooklyn and built name recognition from appearing at multiple clubs. He has slowly transitioned from DJ-ing clubs to producing music and even movie scores. Here are three reasons you should follow Lil Shalimar.

Little Shalimar is behind the production to every RTJ album to date

Is “36 Chain”, “Twin Hype Back”, or “Christmas Fucking Miracle”, one of your favorite tracks on their debut album? Did you like “Jeopardy”, “Angel Duster”, or “All Due Respect” on RTJ2? If you’ve bobbed your head to these tracks, you can thank Little Shalimar for that. He’s also done production for RTJ3 which released late last year.

You might hear some of his production in movies

If you get the chance, watch the documentary “Rubble Kings”. It’s about gang violence in the Bronx during the 1970’s. Shalimar did the whole score for the movie. It also included a track with Run The Jewels which was ranked 3 in the top CMJ Hip-Hop tracks of 2016. It was a great pairing between the documentary and Lil Shalimar.

He’s worked with big names and underground legends

If you’re from the ‘Nati, like myself, you know about Mr. Dibbs. He’s one of the dopest DJ’s to come from here, and released a few albums from Rhymesayers. He collaborated with Shalimar on some projects. If you listen to RTJ2, check out “All Due Respect”. Shalimar recruited Travis Barker for producing this one and the beat is sick

Keep up to date with what’s up with Lil Shalimar by going to his website.

Bledjon Is An Artist You Should Follow

As I’m checking out CMJ’s top artists, my eyes always pop up when the artist charting are self-released. Just goes to show which artist is hustling the most. Last month I talked about Jonny October. This month, I want to introduce you to Bledjon.

Representing California, Bledjon was born to parents who were musicians themselves. His mother played and taught piano, while his father played the trumpet and guitar. His love for music began when he first listened to “Billie Jean” at the record store. He got the name Bledjon when his uncle first came with the name “Bludgeon”. 

After checking out his website, and listening to his latest album, I’m going to give you three reasons to follow Bledjon.

his varied tempo leaves you guessing with each track

Nothing is predictable when you listen to The Popular Loner. “Fievel”, which is a nice throwback tribute if you remember the cartoon movie, has got a nice head-bobbing beat and a chill flow to it. The next track, “Letter Men”, picks up the tempo and gets you hyped. It’s like one track is chill-out music, while “Letter Men” is a track you can lift weights to.

The slow tempo in his tracks helps you focus and appreciate each word

If it weren’t for the slow-tempo beat in “Fievel”, I probably wouldn’t have recognized the reference to the 80’s cartoon. “Doughnuts” has got the same tempo as well, and the lyrics stick to you.

His recent album was a concept album inspired by real life

Speaking of “Doughnuts”, there’s a part of the song where he really opens up about his life and struggles:

Homie, I gotta eat and get this bread a lot of wheat /
My wage don’t really pay need to raise a lot of yeast /
Feast on apple fritters and maple bars for dinner /
At least Snapple and old fashioned as I ration through the winter /

Storytelling hip hop is always good hip hop to me. Which I think you should follow Bledjon. You can get his latest album on most platforms. Learn more about him at his website.

TK The Architect is an Artist You Need to Follow

When I was looking at the CMJ Hip Hop Charts, I look at the artists with albums that are self-released. This time I took a look at TK The Architect. WOW! Glad I found this diamond in the rough.

Before I give you three reasons to follow TK, here’s a little background. He’s hailing from Long Island, New York. He’s recorded a few mixtapes. His last album, Life in Stereo, was comprised of a sound that all hip hop heads will enjoy. When I heard that, plus his new album Blue Season, I had to write this post up.

1. TK’s band including funk and R&B riffs creates perfect harmony with the lyrics in his songs.

This especially rings true with “Water” and “Current Passing”, which include soulful lyrics and quick guitar riffs.

“Result of the Fire” gets you real hyped for the album, as it’s the first song. The guitar riffs and the drums leave you bobbin your head.

If you listen to TK’s newest album, Blue Season, you get to hear interludes of The Get Up Kids (TK’s performing band in the album) perform alone. You get to hear them perform alone in addition to with TK. “O.G.O.G.O.G.” my favorite interlude. The beginning of it reminds me of a Pete Rock instrumental. They both create a perfect partnership with their musical talents.

2. It takes true effort and skill to rap under a band performing

If you’re a rapper, you’re pretty much just working with a producer that sets up beats for your songs and that’s it. There’s no hate to that, but TK really grinded with Blue Season. According to Ghettoblaster, he wrote all the lyrics and the band would record what he wrote.

3. He’s not just a rapper, he’s a true artist

TK is very open-minded, which shows in Blue Season. The album is a melting pot of R&B, Hip Hop, Funk, and some rock.

If you’re looking for something unconventional, and doesn’t fit the cookie cutter music you hear today, you need to download TK’s Blue Season. I just downloaded it on Bandcamp, and proud to say it was the first time I downloaded an album from that site.

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Gifted Gab is an Artist you Need to Follow!

Gifted Gab

I was looking at the CMJ charts, this week, and I noticed the artist named Gifted Gab. Now being a Blackalicious fan, I’m thinking someone’s biting off of Gift of Gab’s name. That is certainly not the case.

Gifted Gab is another gem coming from Seattle’s hip hop scene. She’s been writing raps since she was nine, and was influenced by East Coast MC’s like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte. After hearing that, and listening to her music, I have three reasons you should be following Gifted Gab.

1. Gifted Gab is a true fan of the Old School

On her cover album, Gab the Most High, there’s a picture of her wearing a Nefertiti hat. The second I saw that immediately reminded me of Queen Latifah wearing the same hat on TV and her music videos.

Her music label is called Moor Gang records. If you look at the label logo on her album, you’ll notice it’s similar to Public Enemy’s logo.

To top it off, you’ll need to listen to “4/20 (Gettin’ Smokay)”, where she samples Foster Sylvers “Misdemeanor”. Of course everyone remembers when DOC sampled it.

2. She’s been recognized by Time, XXL, and VH-1 as a rapper on the rise

She’s not just known around the Seattle area, where she lives, her work is under some major microscopes around the country. You can also add Complex magazine to that list.

She’s also been on stage with some big artists. She’s opened for acts like Dj Quik, Rakim, Cam’ron, and Slick Rick.

3. Every song on Gab the Most High will be stuck in your head….and you’ll be happy with that

It starts with the head-banging beats, like “Trouble”. This is WELL-PRODUCED, and children of the 90’s will love it! The beats are very organic.

The hooks are catchy! Check out “Lady of Leisure”, “Trouble”, and “Gettin’ Smokay”. You’ll see what I mean.

Finally, and most important, you can follow along to the lyrics. Are you paying attention Future, Desiigner??

If you’re down with organic, progressive, hip-hop that pays tribute to the old school, Gifted Gab is your pick. Take a listen to Gab the Most High. You’ll be glad you did.

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Markis Precise is a Producer You Need to Get Behind

As I continue to look at the top 50 albums of 2015, I come across Markis Precise at the midpoint. After listening to his last release, “The Feeling of Flying”, I would put him under my list of people to get behind.

Markis is a little different from the people I’ve reviewed, because he is just a music producer. He’s also a keyboardist that creates boom bap beats, with the melodic rhythms he’s found from digging in the crates.

Markis is why I love Cali underground Hip Hop so much. The beats he produces are very organic. On The Feeling of Flying, he’s got guest appearances by Fashawn, Gift of Gab, Zion I, and the Grouch. The beats work in perfect harmony with the roster of artists he has lined up on this album.

Check out the track with Gift of Gab, called “Leaving the Hood”. Let me know what you think.

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Kuf Knotz Is an Artist You NEED to Get Behind

I’ve been finding some hidden gems inside the top 50 CMJ Hip Hop albums of 2015. As I keep scrolling the list, I try to find artists/groups that I’ve never heard of. When I reached 29 on the charts, I ran into Kuf Knotz. Last year, he released A Positive Light.

Kuf Knotz is Philly and Brooklyn-based. While that may give you the conclusion that he has an east coast sound to his music, he doesn’t. He delivers a very unique universal sound, which is why I think he’s an artist worth getting behind.

When listening to his recent album, A Positive Light, you couldn’t fit his sound into a certain category. His beats are very universal, and you could categorize in many ways. You could hear a touch of “house” when you hear “Movement”. Before that you can hear some east coast boom bap with “A Positive Light”. You won’t hear the same thing when you listen to to this album.

The best part of A Positive Light is the lyrics. This needs to be my #motivationmonday soundtrack, because this is what this album will do for you. The track listing speaks for itself.

Check out “Get Free” and let me know what you think. Buy this album. You’ll be glad you did.

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Relic Is An Artist you NEED to follow

As I continue to scroll down the list of the 2015 CMJ Hip Hop chart, I try to find some hidden gems from artists who are not named Kendrick Lamar. No offense, I like Kendrick. However, when I’m looking at CMJ, I’m looking for the underdog ready to upset the industry. When I came at #18 at the charts, I was introduced to Relic with his album, The 13th Floor.

Hailing from Toronto, Relic is a multi-talented artist. He’s an emcee, producer, singer, songwriter, engineer, and a DJ. I already appreciate this artist for his hustle. There are a lot of artists like Relic, Blueprint for example, who aren’t just one trick ponys. They’re behind the mic as well as in front of it.


He’s got a lot of cred, up north. He helped produced an engineered all four albums of Juno award-winning artist, Shad (Juno is the Canadian grammy BTW).

If you’re a fan of the east cost, boom-bap, sound, Relic’s your guy. This was definitely the case when I was listening to The 13th Floor. If you listen to “Breathe Easy”, you could hear some Guru being scratched in the background. If you’re a hip hop head, like me, you know who Relic’s influences are. This album is almost like a concept, with different beats and a flow different from the past work he did.

When I listen to Relic, he reminds me a lot of Mr. Lif. He has very thought-provoking lyrics, with dark, grimy, boom-bap beats.

Curious? You should be. Give it a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

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