There was a time period between 2011 and 2012 when it seemed as if XV was right on the cusp of stardom. After signing a deal with Warner Bros. Records, and a string of successful mixtape releases (Zero Heroes, Popular Culture, Squarians Vol. 1) that saw his star rise higher than ever, it seemed as if all the right pieces were in place for the Kansas native to finally make that giant leap from Smallville to the big stage. Then 2013 came and went without much of a peep from the talented rapper, and the momentum he’d been steadily building just kind of fizzled out into a blip on the radar.
That’s not to say we’re not excited for new material from the gifted emcee, but it’s going to take a tremendous effort to get back to the stage he was at in his career. Madness Begins is definitely a step in the right direction. Composed of 8 tracks of new material, the EP serves as a refresher of what Vizzy can really accomplish when he puts pen to paper. We won’t go so far as to say that this is one of his best projects, but it solidifies his standing in the game, and lets us know that despite his brief sabbatical, XV hasn’t lost a step.
Madness Begins is just the first effort in a five volume #MarchMadness Free-Play series that’ll see new releases to coincide with different legs of the college basketball tournament. If it all goes to plan, this could be just the boost Vizzy needs to get his career back on track, as we all anticipate his long-awaited The Kid With The Green Backpack album.
Melrose Refresher (prod. by Childish Gambino)
My Town (prod. by Zuki & Jay Beatz)
Everyday Life (prod. by The Awesome Sound)
Whats New (prod. by Big Jerm)
Chance The Rapper
Save Yourself First (Social Experiment original vs.)
Chance The Rapper and James Blake surprised us all last year when they teamed up for a hip-hop infused remix of Blake’s “Life Round Here.” Now that the pair are rooming together, the Windy City native has decided to release the verse that didn’t make the final cut. This version is far more subdued than the one that first saw the light of day, and plays closer to the tone of the Overgrown original. While the uptempo nature of the previous remix almost made it sound like a celebration of life, this tune is far more heartfelt and reflective, allowing Chance to show off his vocal chops and really dig deeper into what life around the streets of Chicago really means to him.
Chances are this won’t be featured on any projects in the near future, but given the frenzy with which the young emcee has returned in the last few weeks, you’ve gotta think an announcement of some sort is on its way soon.
The Underachievers break their recent mute 2014 status with a dope new track for our listening enjoyment. The Ryan Hemsworth-produced single “Incandescent” is something a little different from their previous body of work. The rap duo make their return to the webs with a dark, moody vibe and gritty, menacing lyrics to match. Paired with some heavy drum work and harsh keys, the underground crew try to come hard with this new sound. Signed to Flying Lotus‘ Brainfeeder imprint, you can expect the Brooklyn group’s debut album, Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium, later this year.
Part Time Hater (ft. Kid Cudi & Stevie Wonder)
Believe it or not, we’ve finally made it to the ninth and final installment of Big Boi‘s “Mashup Mondays” series. We’ve seen some pretty ambitious efforts so far, yet each single track leaves us even more amazed than the week before. This time Big Boi and DJ Dungeoneze team up to blend together the Kid Cudi-assisted “She Hates Me” with Stevie Wonder‘s “Part-Time Lover” to create the cleverly titled “Part Time Hater.” The previously morose single comes off as far more upbeat after its recent facelift, embedding more optimism in the song’s lyrics, which is reflected in the “glass half full” shown in the track’s artwork. If anything, the tune is worth a listen simply for the fact that you’ll never hear Cudi singing quite like this ever again.
There’s no accompanying video this time, but feel free to download the track above, and check out several other standouts from the series as well.
Far Alone (feat. E-40 & Jay Ant)
“Far Alone” was already one of our early favorites from G-Eazy‘s upcoming album, These Things Happen, but now it’s ready to undergo the remix treatment. The talented emcee no longer has to kick it solo, recruiting Bay Area legend, E-40, to chip in with a brand new verse. The song is all about making it on your own as an independent artist, and overcoming adversity in the face of doubt, something we’d say Eazy has accomplished pretty successfully. While we’d heard Eazy’s story on the original, E-40 provides some insight into the early days of his career with his contribution to the upbeat single as well.
While there’s no indication whether this’ll be on These Things Happen, we’re looking forward to hearing more from the upcoming record in the coming months. Stream the terrific tune above, and make sure to catch G-Eazy on the road with Rockie Fresh, Tory Lanez, and a few others during their nationwide tour.
Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown
Show Me (Mickey Valen Remix)
Oh shit, ninjas. Go find your Ray Bans and flip flops, because this track has summer written all over it. While that attire might only be appropriate for your climate controlled home, this tune will have you feelin’ warm all over.
Coming via New York based, multi-faceted producer Mickey Valen (also known for his work in NOOSA), “Show Me,” has been dialed up with some sexy, playful guitar riffs, rolling hi-hat hits and a more upbeat tempo. Gone are the Top 40 R & B vibes, and in their place we find the perfect groove for the summer’s first pool party.
When asked about this remix, Valen simply stated:
I’m just trying to make summery, happy tracks
Hero (feat. Skylar Grey) [NFS Soundtrack]
The man on the moon has been keeping busy lately. Aside from an impromptu album release just a few weeks ago, Kid Cudi will be in the upcoming video game-based Need for Speed film with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and recently anded the role of Ari Gold’s assistant in HBO’s Entourage film. Naturally, Cudder also was given a song on the NFS soundtrack which surfaced earlier this evening.
“Hero” features some accompaniment from Skylar Grey, but certainly falls in line with the cinematic feel of Cudi’s music as of late. Over atmospheric and building production, the Cleveland emcee delivers his unique, dark lyricism in a way that only he knows how. Grey’s vocals come in a bit later and actually work surprisingly well in a unique collaboration. Enjoy this one above and grab a free download through the Google Play store.