By: Harry Jadun with help from the Bonus Cut staff
Fantasy sports has taken off. Due to the rise in technology and the internet, fantasy sports has not only become unbelievably popular in the United States, but also all around the world. Here at Bonus Cut, we have decided that we would take the concept of fantasy sports and apply it to hip-hop music. Instead of drafting wideouts and running backs, we’ve drafted some of our favorite MC’s and beat makers. The big winner in this situation is you. Not only do we introduce you to some of our favorite hip-hop artists and explain why they are relevant in hip-hop culture, we’ve also laced the Draft with dope tracks for your audio pleasure. With this draft, our goal is to pay tribute to some our favorite hip-hop artists and acknowledge the influence they have had on our lives.
So how does it work you ask? We’ve got the answers:
Six teams with six roster spots apiece
Draft is snake style
Each week we will unleash one round of the Draft. We started with Round Six two weeks ago. This week we’re unleashing Round Four.
We will match up teams, with sixth rounders of each team pitted against each other, fifth rounders pitted against each other, etc.
The Teams along with managers (in draft order):
The Rap Game Hardy Boyz (Adam Jadun)
Da 6 Hunnas: Lyrical Spookiness (Uba Anyediegwu)
Hey Hey Hey Heyyyy (Daniel Hodgman)
Terio’s Killaz (Harry Jadun)
Team CAN’T FUCK WITIT (Justin Cook)
- M.C.G. Squadron (Gus Navarro)
With the final pick of Round Four (24th overall), The Rap Game Hardy Boyz selects: Flatbush Zombies
For my fourth round pick I went with another Beast Coast member, Flatbush Zombies, coming from the same neighborhood as my last pick The Underachievers. Flatbush Zombies is a group consisting of rappers Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice with the majority of the beats being produced by Erick “Arc” Elliot who offers up rhymes as well for some of the songs. The group’s success starts with the excellent production coming from the young promising producer Elliot, and then continues with Meechy and Juice’s dark lyrics. The group is having a great year, releasing their second mixtape BetterOffDEAD which is being talked about as one of the best mixtapes of the year. On the mixtape they explore darker aspects of hip-hop, including murdering rivals and taking any and every drug possible, while at the same time starting to show their development on speaking about political issues. Zombie Juice and Meechy Darko use their almost animalistic voices to show their range from songs such as “Palm Trees,” which provides a chill, sit back and sip a 40 feel, to “Amerikkkan Pie” where the two show an urgency that is rarely seen in hip-hop today. Their lyrics add to the Zombie persona, and in many of their songs they rap about some of their darkest thoughts, including verses referencing famous serial killers (“Death 2”). Flatbush Zombies look to continue the Beast Coast movement in the next couple of years, and will be an important group to follow in this draft as they have an opportunity to mold the new East Coast sound with their grimy, gritty and disturbing lyrics.
With the fifth pick of Round Four (23rd overall), Da 6 Hunnas: Lyrical Spookiness selects: Jon Connor
As Flint, Michigan’s finest, Mr. Jon Connor is finally starting to build an impressive buzz for himself. It seems like the man has been grinding for years. Jon started his career in 2005 with his first mixtape The Calling Pt 1. An impressive mixtape to say the least, Jon showcases his raw talent. Jon finally started to build a buzz after his 2011 release Season 2, where he really showed how lyrically powerful he can be. Jon Connor is one of the rawest spitting MC’s to come from Michigan and is one of best lyrical rappers in the game today. Jon Connors’ delivery and wordplay are two attributes that put him on another level compared to some of the current mainstream artists. Coming from Flint, Connor commonly speaks about the struggles of growing up in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. He also commonly speaks about the lack of passion and skill that is currently in the hip-hop world today. In “The Boom Bap Sympathy,” which comes off his mixtape Season 2, Connor raps “The game is lacking passion/ That’s why when I hit the stage it’s an immediate reaction/ They know it’s more than just rapping/ They insecure when I spit, they ain’t sure of their manhoo/ It ain’t hype when I write, they right, I’m just that damn good/ I write, I produce and spit the truth in the booth/ So shit if I was you, I’d hate me too/ Before your eyes I see 40 skies that said I wouldn’t blow up/ It’s like I don’t get shit, and get your ass tore up/ A show off, they hit model chicks with more hook/ No talk, strait to the tele, then beat it up like Nikita Koloff”
Even though Jon Connor has been making music for over 8 years, his career is just starting to begin. His recent debut on this year’s BET Cyphers was a huge success. Having one of the best cyphers of the show and also unveiling that he is a recent signee to Aftermath are huge steps forward. Along with this signing, he has cosigns from Big Sean, Busta Ryhmes and Nasty Nas! With Dr. Dre becoming his new mentor, we should expect a lot of exciting material from him within the following year. Below is one of my favorite songs from Jon Connor called “Rise Up” featuring Talib Kweli. This song can be found on his newest album Unconscious State.
With the fourth pick of Round Four (22nd overall), Hey Hey Hey Heyyyy selects: Black Milk
Detroit hip-hop artist Black Milk has always been known as an outstanding producer. His instrumental album Synth or Soul sways beautifully under the graceful palms of cutting percussion and lucid electro waves, while refreshing samples cut-up into layers roll on top of baritone bass lines. His collaboration with Danny Brown on Black and Brown features more collective production: song introductions with well-scripted samples and one-two rhythm checks, select sounds that bounce from one ear to the other and off-kilter scheming that is both beautiful and independent. With a variety in how he produces his tracks, Black Milk escapes a common denominator and distributes his music to all hip-hop genres.
Lyrically, Black Milk is coming-up. Album of the Year (2010) had stunning sound, but lyrically it was missing content and density. It almost felt like a Jaylib-like project that just fell short. With his 2013 release, No Poison No Paradise, Black Milk is showing growth and persistence.
On “Monday’s Worst,” movie b-roll piano chords clink and clatter, an electric guitar twangs with Motown swag, a high-screeching organ swells as the melody and the percussion is tight knit and clean. Lyrically, “Monday’s Worst” shows us that his skills as an MC are slowly creeping on his beat-making abilities. A social look into the confines of the lower class in Detroit and how it affects the youth, Black Milk takes the perspective of both the good and the bad in these types of communities. “Times hard, my God I can’t even lie,” he scours, “a nine to five is not what I’m trying to do to survive.” With emotion and a melody to back any lyrical onslaught, “Monday’s Worst” is not only among the best hip-hop songs of the year, but also one of the best among every other genre as well. “Dismal” sees Black Milk spitting over eerie twangs and flutters as he addresses himself (“So aight then, watch me get it even if they goin’ to knock it/ Dollar out of fifteen cents, I turn my shit into a profit/ Put myself in a hole, money, it got me stressin’/ Frontin’ to force a smile while tryin’ to battle depression“). Elsewhere, “Sunday’s Best” tackles family values in urban America and how sometimes products of the environment overpower a parent’s ideals (“Fast forward, got older, a youngin’ that’s gone bad/ Let me rephrase that, a youngin’ that went down that wrong path/ No matter how religious moms and pops was“).
Black Milk is a testament to hip-hop’s beauty and hip-hop’s growth. He has always been an outstanding producer with numerous production badges on his sleeve, and now that his lyrical content has risen, he is a two-headed hip-hop beast ready to gobble up any producers and MC’s who aren’t at his level.
With the third pick of Round Four (21st overall), Terio’s Killaz selects: Joey Bada$$
Like the Olsen Twins, Tim Allen and Bop It, Joey Bada$$ is the 90’s. The Brooklyn native burst on the scene in 2012 with the release of his critically acclaimed debut mixtape 1999. While he was well-known in underground circles, it wasn’t until then that Bada$$ truly got a national following. The mixtape, which was the best mixtape of 2012 according to HipHopDX.com, flaunts Bada$$’ skills as a versatile rapper with a flow reminiscent of better times. This idea is epitomized on just about every track on the mixtape, and he even pays homage to hip-hop greats by rapping over beats by the likes of MF Doom and J Dilla. It is very unique that such a young kid comes along with the skillset and mentality of an era completely before his time. But the most fascinating part is that he makes it work in today’s day and age. It’s like Jabari Parker rockin’ short shorts and throwing up hook shots. I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon, so in the meantime enjoy what Joey Bada$$ and the entire Pro Era crew is putting out. But whatever you do, please don’t rock short shorts and throw up hook shots.
With the second pick of Round Four (20th overall), Team CAN’T FUCK WITIT selects: eLZhi
I actually can’t believe eLZhi isn’t more well-known. He is a hip-hop savior, and one of the finest lyricists in the game right now – it’s not a coincidence he remade the classic Illmatic in his own voice, calling it Elmatic. Not to mention he got his start replacing J Dilla in Slum Village, which are not easy shoes to fill. But somehow, eLZhi managed to step up to the plate and make a name for himself; he’s smooth, clever and one hell of a wordsmith. I’m pretty sure his bars are illegal in some states. He’s simply a natural – his raw power & emotion is on a level most MC’s don’t even know about. His debut album, The Preface, displays the wide range of his talents. From “Colors” to “Guessing Game” to “D.E.M.O.N.S” to “Talking in my Sleep,” eLZhi can adapt to any style. Not to mention he has the figurative language of a world-class poet. He creates word games with unheard of wit; no one in hip-hop plays with verses quite like eLZhi. But that’s what I love about him: he tackles bars in new and unique ways that highlight his rapping abilities. He consciously works with form, content, word choice and structure, which is evident in any of his material. The man puts deep thought into every single bar. He is one of hip-hop’s greatest storytellers since Nas, and I believe their art echoes each other in more than one way. He has an ability to focus on narrative, adding in the perfect details, while still bringing it full circle with deep meaning. That equation makes for a hip-hop genius.
With the first pick of Round Four (19th overall), M.C.G. Squadron selects: Oddisee
With Oddisee you can’t go wrong, plain and simple. Over the past five years alone, this producer/MC from the D.C. area has compiled quite the musical catalog. The thing about Oddisee is that you can tell the amount of thought that goes into every little detail of his music. Every album, every mixtape and every individual song was made to represent something particular and serve a specific purpose. As he explains about his September 2013 release, The Beauty In All:
“This record is dedicated to imperfection and the sense of pride and accomplishment we get from our struggles. Hopefully, you listen to this record, reflect on the ups and downs of life, and see the beauty in all.”
And about Tangible Dream, the mixtape that came along with The Beauty In All:
“I discovered that I can make a career in an arena dominated by artists that sell false dreams. I realized that although the masses may not know of my body of work, it doesn’t take the whole world to have the world I want. Tangible Dream is a mixtape dedicated to the deconstruction of our traditional ideas of success & shedding light on the possibility of a sustainable rap life.“
Whether its his production or lyrics there is a certain feeling of calm embedded within his sound. This stems from how meticulous he is with his music, whether it be his lyrics, production or both. He is able to speak about and create sounds that personify his experience and where he is from. At the same time, he is able to remove his personal experience and create music about what he is observing. More than anything else, Oddisee’s music represents balance. He can bang with the best of them with tracks such as “Do It All,” “In My Day,” “Something For Y’all” and “Don’t Sleep.” There is a political side that demonstrates his knowledge of the capitalist system, most notably on “American Greed.” There is also an extremely sensitive and thoughtful side that comes through on “The Blooming,” “Viva Brasil,” “Yeah & Nah” and “You Know Who You Are.” With Oddisee, no two tracks sound alike. Everything is made with great care with the goal of communicating a specific emotion, experience or thought to the audience. If you listen, you will not be disappointed.