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Author’s Note: Back in the day growing up one of my favorite parts of getting physical copies of albums, was opening up the CD case and seeing thick booklet full of liner notes. Seeing who did what verse, who made the beat and most importantly what was the artist thinking and what was the process like making the songs and the music. With the continued rise of the digital age, some of this has gotten lost in the shuffle. In our series “Behind the Music” we ask artists to craft liner notes for their release to give fans and listeners a deeper understanding of the process. Virginia emcee NoFace Rapper is one who goes against the grain. An emcee improving every day to gain an audience, but also introverted to the point where you’d probably be surprised he puts all his emotions on the mic. Earlier this year NoFace put out his debut EP “Wintercoat” and to follow that up he’s released “Never Fear Rejection”. Check out his liner notes for the EP below. Know Face: For "Know Face" I wanted to set the tone as being much more light hearted than my previous project, Wintercoat. I also wanted to re introduce myself to new listeners and let them into my mind with certain ideals I live by. This is a really dope intro, but I guess I'm biased lol. No Grammys: "No Grammys" had those victorious horns in it and I knew I had to get this beat. I scroll my timeline and see alot of artists complaining that they don't get their just due or their props but it's like yo, not everybody is gonna be the number 1 artist. There's so many dope artists that occupy so many spaces and make a living off what they love. I wanna occupy that independent "I'm kinda popular but I can still go to the chick fil a and not be recognized" kinda career ya know? I'm also perfectly fine with working a day job knowing I'm putting out honest music that I can be proud of. Stranger Things: Tyler Wrighteous provided the "Stranger Things" beat. This was a wild card. He definitely challenged me and I had no idea how I was gonna approach this beat. To me, the beat sounded like Luke Skywalker had a Bose system bumpin some unnecessarily ignorant hip hop in the X-Wing. Hence the alien references. This song for the sci fi geeks who like hip hop. Velma's Interlude: "Velma's Interlude" was a letter to my grandmother who passed last year. I had a lot of regret because i didn't have much contact with her but when she passed, it hurt. Also the events that transpired after her death with my family disgusted me even more. Poor people fighting in court over property is such an odd thing. It's not even worth it after you pay all the lawyers, fees, and etc. Lowkey: The plight of my introvertedness (hope that's a word) is discussed in "Lowkey". Being introverted has proven to be a challenge while dealing with music because I hate networking. I enjoy meeting new people but if I'm not in the mood to meet you, then the interaction will probably be awkward. I also feel drained when I'm around lots of people for long periods of time. Do my introverts feel me?! I'm working on it I promise lol. Divulgence: "Divulgence". Root word, divulge. I pride myself on being completely honest and forthcoming with my music. I want to be relatable and I use this as a weapon. This song is the dark side of "Know Face". I'm giving the listeners a takeaway from this project and letting them know this is who I am and I have to embrace it. I hope the listeners embrace themselves as well.

You can supoport & listen to NoFace Rapper's "Never Fear Rejection" right HERE.

I've been a regular viewer of Dead End Hip-Hop for a little over two years now. In that time, I've become familiar with just who the hell Damone Tyrell is. I reviewed his last album back in 2016 "Who the Hell is Damone Tyrell" on my YouTube Channel, and featured him on my #XtENsiON(EP) back in October of 2016. Now I'm here to write a review of his new five track EP "5ive Stories". You can view my YouTube video review at the bottom of this page.

On this EP, whether if it's on a track like Ground where Damone seems to feel like he and his are at the bottom, and promises to rise up from that level, 2nd Story which is an upgrade from the ground, 3rd Lvl where Damone speaks on rappers selling their soul cash, looking back on missed opportunities, sacrifices and frustrations, 4th floor where Tyrell doesn't want to get complacent and stay stuck on the same level to a point where it seems like he would even prefer downgrading,
or on Penthouse, a banger where he receives a wake up call and remembers that he or nobody starts off at the top, while also calling out rappers who pretend that they've always been at the level they are now, Damone Tyrell proves that my prediction on where he'd go next, and that my expectations of him are something to have faith in because on this EP Damone Tyrell showcases that he hasn't lost his hunger despite attaining good feedback, more attention and more success.

    Rhymes = 3.5/5

   Content = 3.5/5

   Beats = 3.5/5

   Overall = 3.5/5

Video Review

Biznace teams up with TeamBackPack heavyweights ill Brown Ren Thomas & Chi Bully for the hard hitting anthem, "The World Is Mine". Directed by JWvisuals, the video finds all three emcees in prime form, executing the type of brutal bars that have made them forces to be reckoned with. Be on the lookout for Biznace's upcoming project, "Official Business" slated to drop later this year. In the meantime, prepare for world domination from Biznace, Ren Thomas and Chi Bully down below.

Twitter handles: @Biznace @RenThomasMusic @ChiBully @ILLBrown

Conway continues to stay busy with a collab for the ages on "Bullet Club," featuring Lloyd Banks. Everything about the single is ice cold, from the glaring production to the rousing visuals in Conway's bars to the guest spot from the punchline king himself. The two take no time to cut to the chase- don't cross them if you don't want to feel the repercussions. Conway essentially gives 100 reasons of why not to fuck with him over the course of two verses. Banks re-establishes the fact that his features will be valuable as long as he's still breathing. You're going to have to bring this one back.

"I can send a package upstate and have you stabbed in the face..."

Buffalo's Westside Gunn and Conway bless us with another track, "RIP Bobby," paying homage to the late, great Bobby Heenan. Gunn and Conway prove how capable their voices are, rapping over the perfectly percussion-less instrumental from the Alchemist and Daringer. The track feels like a subtle tribute to some of the cornerstones of the era the personnel on the track grew up with- Bobby Heenan and the WWE, as well as Reggie Jackson and the Yankees. Gunn and Conway are two premier lyricists in the genre, and continue to impress.

Author’s Note: Back in the day growing up one of my favorite parts of getting physical copies of albums, was opening up the CD case and seeing thick booklet full of liner notes. Seeing who did what verse, who made the beat and most importantly what was the artist thinking and what was the process like making the songs and the music. With the continued rise of the digital age, some of this has gotten lost in the shuffle. In our series “Behind the Music” we ask artists to craft liner notes for their release to give fans and listeners a deeper understanding of the process.

Long Beach emcee Andre Balboa recently released his EP called “Choir Practice”. In this project Balboa goes where most emcees don’t and that’s simply telling the truth when it comes to our flaws and scars. “Choir Practice” is also just the beginning of a journey that will continue on Andre Balboa’s full-length project “Preaching to the Choir” which is slated to come out early next year.
Hypocrites - As a Christian, one of the main issues I deal with is hypocrisy. I decided to begin the EP addressing this facade of perfection that Christians, including myself, try to portray. I'm guilty of judging others and their sin and at the same time making excuses for my sins and flaws. Joe and I decided to be as transparent as we could on this track and hopefully it encourages others. No need to front like we're innocent, when God knows what the business is.
Choir Practice - On the title track for the EP I dive into the main concept of choir practice. Choir practice represents whatever actions you may take to try to convince yourself or others that your relationship with God is stronger than it truly is. Often, as believers, we get caught up in putting on a show rather than being genuine. On the flip side, once our motives are in check we shouldn't be discouraged to live the life that has been given to us. It's tempting to just give up but don't.

Shame The Devil - Now that you've been real with yourself in track #1 and you got your motives in check in track #2 you have a newfound confidence. Playing off the "choir" theme, I'm now ready to "lift my voice" and "shame the devil". Also, did you catch the New Orleans Pelicans scheme in the first verse?  

Altar Call - The final track is the bridge connecting this EP to the upcoming album. At the end I see life with so much clarity. With a new appreciation for what I have, I decide to truly give my life to Christ. On the album I share what I've learned while enduring the highs and lows of life in hopes of encouraging others to seek truth and authenticity. "Preaching To The Choir" coming soon.

Every HERO & VILLAIN has their cool origin story but that isn’t always the case sometimes.
After unknowingly smoking something super radioactive, which was grown inside an underground laboratory deep in the earth’s core, somewhere like in a mountain or something, by mad scientists working on a TOP SECRET government experiment named “PROJECT GOON”, our dastardly duo were bestowed with ultimate MEGA RAP GAWD SUPER POWERS & capes & sunglasses & shit.

Stig Of The Dump aka King Grizzly aka GOON and Stu The Don aka King Hippo aka GOON are double-'ard, mad fly rap stoners; 
SUPER VILLAINS to many, SUPER HEROES to a hardcore few.
“It is the purpose of the Legion to align our infamous forces against the powers of good & defeat them, leaving us the rulers of the world”.

Russian language rap has existed since the late 80s when American hip-hop burrowed its way through the Iron Curtain on the backs of Adidas-clad Soviet b-boys. In the mid-90s, the first rap albums started to circulate around Russia on cassette tapes. Throughout the 90s and 2000s, Russian rap started to gain popularity with an Eastern European audience as well; however, until the mid 2000s, Russian rap more closely mirrored and borrowed from its American originator, producing beats heavily informed by both West Coast gangster rap and old school New York production.

In the 2000s, electronic music took on a particularly important role in creating the sound of Russian rap. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) was already a very popular genre in Russia, but trap music was basically unknown. Trap music ended up being introduced to a Russian audience through its bastardized form, EDM. EDM was then mixed with Trap creating “trap EDM,” which in turn was what brought traditional Trap to Russia. As Andrew Friedman writes in FACT magazine, “At its inception, trap EDM seemed like a perfect way to bridge the racial divide between young music fans interested in both the largely black hip-hop scene and the largely white world of EDM. And while it has been such a bridge for a handful of artists, the scenes have mostly spiraled away from each other. In Russia, however, it seems trap EDM brought trap rap with it.”

#SlovoSPB Battle
In the past few years, Russian rap has seen tremendous growth, both in the wide-scale consumption of the genre, but also in the Russification of the form itself. The new generation of artists are making music that is decidedly Russian but that still uses and pays tribute to the symbolism and technicality of the genre’s Black American context. More rappers are producing complex, lyrical verses that seem to flow more from the tradition of Russian poetry than from the imagined American rap idiom.

Additionally, in Russia, battle rapping plays a significant role in hip-hop culture. St. Petersburg has become one of the centers of battle rap culture via two main battle rap collectives/YouTube channels, Versus and #SlovoSPB. The two were created in 2013 and 2014 respectively, and since then have gained major popularity on the Russian-speaking internet. Both channels publish videos of battles between rappers at various experience levels, from underground no names to the country’s most famous artists. The formats of the two channels are pretty similar, but it is notable that #SlovoSPB features significantly more female rappers than Versus does.

One of the most popular series of battles is one that both battle ‘platforms’ produce together, in which rappers from each platform battle each other. Just recently, mega rap star Oxxxymiron, representing Versus, squared off against and unexpectedly lost to underground rapper Gnoyniy, representing #SlovoSPB. The battle, about an hour in length, has ~20 million views on YouTube, emphasizing the engagement in rap culture by Russian and Russian speaking fans. However that number is on the high end, as this was a long-awaited, very hyped battle that also included potentially the most popular rapper in Russia today.

This dual series, as well almost all of the Versus battles, all take place at at one venue, a bar/club in St. Petersburg called 1703. The bar has become a center and kind of mecca of Russian hip hop culture in general, and battle rapping in particular. A group of friends opened the bar in 2012, partly on a whim, partly to prove that they could do so on a seriously low budget. In the beginning the bar was just a lowkey ‘trash dance’ bar, in the words of one of the founders. They had no idea the meaning the place would come to have for Russian rap culture just a few years later. Through happenstance, Oxxxymiron started coming to the bar and, when a couple of his friends created Versus, the bar ended up becoming the project’s home turf and the scene of their regular rap battles. At this point, just a few years later, Oxxxymiron and the bar itself are so famous that it is impossible for the rapper to come there and drink a beer in peace as he once could. Battles at 1703 are packed, invite-only events and the videos that are produced regularly boast millions of views.
This week on She’s In Russia (a podcast), we talked about Russian rap in detail. We covered the history, race paradigms and how to think about Russian rap, and listened to a set of really nice samples from a selection of artists.

You can listen to that full episode here:

In the meantime, check out this list of Russian rappers (in no particular order) we compiled for you to help you get started.

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1. Oxxxymiron

The man, the legend - Oxxymiron was born in 1985 in Leningrad and is one of the most popular Russian rappers performing today. This song, “Where we aren’t” (Где нас нет), is one of his biggest hits from the album Gorgord, which was the most popular musical album on 2015–2016. The album is especially notable for its heavily political content.

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2. Husky

One of the most interesting up and coming rappers in Russia, 24 year-old rapper Husky was born in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia in eastern Siberia. He released his first song on YouTube in 2011, and his first studio album in 2013. He’s known for his unusual vocal style and dark, complex, image-filled lyrics. This song is called ‘Cartoons’.

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3. Aigel Band

This electronic hip hop duo consists of poet Aigel Gaisina and musician Ilya Baramin. This song “Tatar”, and the entirety of the album it’s on, 1190 (released April 2017), addresses issues with the Russian prison system, particularly the problem of resocializing former inmates back into society.

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4. Antokha MC

Antokha MC is a 27 year old rapper and trumpet player born and raised in Moscow. His songs are marked, and stand out from most Russian rap, by their light-hearted positivity and sometimes silliness -- his lyrics often describe the simple goodness of little everyday things. His charm is very particular - a small, nerdy type, he presents himself in concert as humble and kind, making up silly, odd dances or randomly doing handstands on stage. In his songs and in concert he switches between singing, rapping and playing trumpet.

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5. Kasta

Kasta is one of the earliest rap groups to come out of Russia. The group was formed in 1995 in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia. This song is the group’s first big hit and was so popular that people still quote lyrics from it today. Given the song’s widespread fame in Russia, we felt it was essential to include more so for cultural literacy than for the actual quality of the song itself.

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6. Tatarka

Ira Smelaya aka Tatarka, is a 25 year old videoblogger, producer, and sometimes rapper. She was born in The Republic of Tatarstan (Russian Federation), and moved to St. Petersburg, where she currently lives, just five years ago. So far Tatarka has released just a few songs/ music videos, where she raps in Tatar, English and Russian. In this song she’s mostly rapping in Tatar, with a few phrases in English, but, given that she is a Russian citizen and native Russian-speaker (and that most if not all of her YouTube vlogs are in Russian), her musical work still arguably falls under Russian rap.

7. Bad Balance

Bad Balance is one of the first Russian-speaking hip hop groups to form. They played a key role in expanding the young genre around Russia and Eastern Europe in the 90s. The group still performs today and has achieved cult status. Founded in 1989 in Donetsk, Ukraine (then part of the USSR) the group started off as a teenage break-dancing duo who formed a breakdancing group at their school (interesting as a note to the race paradigm of Russian rap - the group’s teacher and lead choreographer happened to be a black fellow student from the Congo) that performed in festivals around Russia and the Baltics. Eventually the group decided to transition from breakdancing to rapping, with obvious success. This track, “Piter - I’m yours” is from their 2001 album Stone Forest (Каменный Лес).

Logistics: questions/comments? Let use know: @shesinrussia.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma barreling ​down on his hometown, Miami’s, WarLok is ready to unleash the visual for his St. Larok-assisted single, “The Passion.” The two ​emcees speak on their passions - ​specifically Hip Hop - and what drives them to remain resilient in the game. The soundscape, produced by Larok, and mixed/mastered by Miami Beat Wave, is driven by a soulful sample laid over ​heavy kicks, and airy snares. Overall, the single revives an era that remains loved - and missed - despite the evolving sounds of Hip Hop.

 Twitter: @WARLOK1982​ @StLaRok​

Check out All Coasters' new single "90s Cassettes & Backpacks", an ode to the Golden Era of Hip Hop.

The Flood and King Magnetic bring an eerie, cold, gritty, hardcore boom-bap vibe on their new single, "Apex Predator". Stream below.

Minnesota's Rz Shahid releases "Bank," a single conscious of the financial pressure that is seemingly unavoidable in our modern world. The track is well supported by solid production from Bliss, who marries some banging drums with a choir-like sample that cries as Shahid speaks his peace. With plans of maneuvering through the Minnesota scene and eventually nationwide, "Bank" feels like the right direction. 

Support Rz Shahid and stream below. 

The coming together of members from Public Enemy, Rage Against The Machine and (one from) Cypress Hill have made good on their collaboration as artists, dropping their eponymous debut LP, Prophets of Rage, to rap and metal fans alike. Head men Chuck D, Tom Morello and B-Real plus Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk and DJ Lord set off controlled musical explosions on their tracks to call attention to common people’s struggles. Together they raise their voices and instruments for the legalization of people (and weed implicitly), to question our so-called democracy, drones and surveillance and to cause collectivization in listeners and typical everyday folks. Prophets of Rage feels almost exclusively like an outlet to protest - aggressive, cynical and lacking in both positivity and musical variety outside of only hard rock - but it’s strong and relevant and really quite good at bringing to light the outrage of the many for the understanding and betterment of all. (3 out of 5 stars) 

It took six years, a breakup and a reunion for Midwestern bred duo The Cool Kids--Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks--to put out a sophomore LP (Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe) but they’ve done it, and while it’s an indie release with a near roster of similarly indie guests, Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe on the subjects-end commits the sin of repeating common low-grade tropes of a mainstream nature, despite its stylish rhyming over fresh beats courtesy of Chuck. Loose promiscuous sex, name brands and party-times typify this heavily titled project, and the few times we get nice respite from the themes occur in the comedic proportions of “20/20 Vision” and the monogamously oriented love and romance of “Symptoms of a Down” and “Gr8Full.” Okay but not fully grown up, Special Edition resembles ostensibly important releases from earlier in the year, particularly Big Boi’s Boomiverse, 2 Chainz’ Pretty Girls Like Trap Music and Tyler The Creator’s Flower Boy, projects that have something to offer from a technical rhyme and production standpoint but few messages and in fact harmful ones too. It also proves that The Cool Kids, despite what they’ve done and what they can do, are still in some ways, kids. (2 out of 5 stars)