Easily in my top 10 all-time favourite MCs, Brother Ali dropped a free EP earlier this year. Just for the love. And it is about love. Beats are by Jake One and Ant, nuff said.

Click for download

Brother Ali – The Bite Marked Heart (2012)

Brother Ali Website

 

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Immortal Technique, “100 per cent independent, I’m the fucking boss”, runs Viper Records, blasts injustice and hypocrisy within the music industry as well as on the level of global politics, and just to show he can, puts out an entire album of bangers–for zilch. And with guest artists others would gladly bend over backwards to get onto a track with, Chuck D and Brother Ali among them.

Always one to encourage his fans to just download his music and bump it outside if they don’t have the money to buy it, this is an impressive display of his freedom as an indie artist. Instead of bickering about downloaders, he focuses on getting his message out, touring to promote the artists on his label and kicking ass.

As someone who’s followed his work since Revolutionary Vol. 1, it needs to be said that Tech is the kind of artist that keeps growing, technically and subject-wise. And each release gives you a glimpse into what he’s been up to recently, what he’s been reading, what’s happened in the world, etc. It’s refreshing to watch someone put so much work into his work – and then give it out to his fans.

Click to download

Immortal Technique – The Martyr (2012)

Viper Records

I’m certainly not the first to post about this release, but even though I knew this was gonna be rocksolid at the very least, I wanted to take the time to let it work its magic on me.

In a nutshell, DJ A to the L and his partner MC M.E.R.C. from Talahassee, FL have gotten their wits and skills together to craft an album based on the alltime classic Tribe Called Quest record we all know and cherish. Calling it a “mixtape” really is a bit too modest, cos what they did was re-create the beats from the basics, adding a little twist here and there, while M.E.R.C. drops fresh verses over them that are playfully reminiscent of the originals, but still entirely new. In fact, M.E.R.C.’s voice is vaguely similar to Q-Tip’s, so that it’s both unsettling and the perfect fit, but he’s far from just copycatting. When I listen to M.E.R.C. I can’t help but think of how much work it must be to make it sound so effortless. He’s certainly on equal eye level with the Q, if not a bit above. On top of him, the album boasts the occasional guest-appearance on the mic of none other than A to the L himself (who kills it, if you ask me) and their local crew, some of whom can be heard on the Blazin’ 102.3 radio show Diggin in the Crates, as well, which is one of the outlets from where A to the L usually blesses his listeners with gems from “the deepest crates in the 850.” And that’s not just a gimmick line.

As you listen to this, what you can’t miss is the love and dedication these underground cats have for their art, and how fucking good they are at it. That’s what Ali Shaheed Muhammad says, too.

Have I mentioned it’s hilarious and clever in more ways than meets the ear at first? I’m pretty sure I’ll be pumping this joint for a good couple of months without getting tired of it.

I could babble on and on but I can’t spare you the listen. Go and do yourself a favour now. Thank them later.

M.E.R.C. & DJ A to the L – Daylight Marauders (2011)

Amazing video, catchy-as-hell beat. And it’s a wonderful dedication to one of their fans and to all the graff writers sneaking around the block at night.

Hailing from Arnhem, Netherlands, this duo of Dave Redi and Mr. Ramble have put out their debut album early this year, in February, only to follow it up with a remix album this October, which features work by Henning, Jeejaa, DangarusC (Nation of E.L.Z.I.), DJ A-Z Atic, L. Reinders for Colt Chillin and many more. (Yes, I don’t know any of those names either, but the beats are wonderful nevertheless.)

Suffice it to say, both are top notch quality. Great relaxed-mood music to bob your head to.

But listen for yourselves, cause the beauty of it all is they’re offering both albums for zilch on their bandcamp site.

Happy Thanksgiving, or whatever.

For The Record (February 2010)

Off The Record (October 2010) (Remix album)

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Surely you’ve heard about recent efforts in Arizona to make it legal for police to stop and demand documentation from pretty much anyone who looks like he should not be hanging around in the glorious US of A. In other words: Police just got a stop-and-search free card to go after anyone who looks Latino or otherwise like an illegal non-Arizonian – which is where the fun starts, right, my O’Odham and Navajo brethren?

Meanwhile, play this and keep reading…

Latin Alliance – Runnin (1991)

I mean, where do you start? With the fact that an immigrant nation such as the US should really be more aware of its own history, like how the native nations  had to get the fuck outta dodge to make room for European settlers and their hunger for space, minerals and metals?

Or the fact that in post-Columbian times, the area was claimed as a Spanish territory, then, after independence in 1810, belonged to The United States of Mexico and was then conquered/purchased from Mexico around 1850. As an individual state, Arizona only entered the federation of the United States of America in 1912 (!).

Show some sense and sensitivity, you guys. By the time Anglo Americans got to Arizona, the US were the second colonial power to move around people who seemed to not fit in with the new neighbours. Neither Navajo nor Mexicans seem to get an break in the state, it seems. Who’s taking away shit from whom, I ask.

Anyway, there’s a great debate going on about this, for instance on my man Davey D’s website, and lots of musicians like Toki Wright, Chuck D and many more are weighing in with tracks about this bill SB1070 which is only one of many measures to make Arizona whiter and more ignorant about its own past. The bill was sponsored by notorious white supremacist Russel Pearce, and it was signed into law by current governor Janice Brewer, a pro gun-carrying, anti-gay equality, anti-KidsCare Republican.

My guess is, there is more to come where this is from… Damn, I hate it when I’m right

But let’s get to the musical bit I was gonna introduce you to here. One such track calling out anti-social legislators in Arizona is by Phil Harmonic, an Arizonian himself, and here you can listen to it or download it for free. Sounds dope.

Peace, 9@home

A bloke I’ve only just recently stumbled upon is Jon Phonics, an MC and producer from London. I just need to make sure you’re not sleeping on this one as I have for too long.

It started with a beat album he made and I found: Jonathan’s Beats & Pieces. There’s something incredibly gratifying about a beat album that is just right up my alley, and it’s all for free, too!

Jon Phonics – Jonathan’s Beats and Pieces (2009)

And as I feverishly kept searching for more, I came onto his Half Past Calm producer album which features some of Britain’s finest, mostly his fellow Londoners and YNR label mates who all put in serious work and make this album a real gem. YNR (Young and Restless) is Jehst’s own imprint, which should clear up any questions you may have. Take my word for it, YNR is stamp and seal for dopeness. If in doubt, peep the tracklist and take an earful.

1. State Of Hip Hop feat. Melanin 9 & Prophet
2. Remember feat. T- Bear, Sir Smurf Lil’ & Zulu Rebel
3. Nothing Wrong feat. Mr Drastick & Luc Skyz
4. The Lions Den feat. Cyrus Malachi
5. Black Tragedy feat. Phoenix, iVerse & Prophet
6. More Forward (Ill Rhythmikz Remix) feat. T-Bear
7. Alternate Take feat. Verb T & Fliptrix
8. Lost Planet feat. Melanin 9
9. In The Ends feat. Sir Smurf Lil’
10. Forbidden Chamber feat. 9 Planets
11. Jealousy’s A Bitch feat. Verb T & Mr. Drastick
12. Celebrate feat. T-Bear

Jon Phonics – Half Past Calm (2008)

And just now, only days ago, the man’s dropped his eagerly awaited follow-up to this beast. And for some reason I’m not even surprised to find that this is even better than the first. The beats have my head bobbing and weaving and the lyrical handicraft spread over them is top-notch verbal tapestry. (Yes, I’m officially on Jon’s sack now.) ;)

01. Intro
02. Raw Ingredients feat. Cyrus Malachi & Jehst
03. Buried Below The Ground feat. Micall Parknsun
04. Pump feat. Fliptrix, Sonnyjim, Ramson Badbonez & Verb T
05. Spirit Of The Golden Sun feat. 9 Planets
06. Phonetically Obba feat. Obba Supa & Evil Ed
07. Tug The Rope feat. Melanin 9
08. Wrong Way feat. Prophet
09. The Other Guy feat. Kosyne
10. I See You feat. Kal Sereousz
11. Dark Days feat. Fliptrix & Jam Baxter
12. Mind Over Matter feat. Verb T & Kashmere
13. Rabbit Jab feat. Masikah
14. Road Rage feat. Nasheron & Melanin 9 of Triple Darkness
15. Changes feat. T-Bear & Yasine

Jon Phonics – Half Past Calm 2 (2010)

Most of Jon’s discography can be got for free from his Bandcamp site, in case my links don’t do it for you.
And while you’re there, he has a bit more that you should probably think about buying for cheap.
Do show some support for the man.

Peace, 9@home