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Saluting The Rest of 2012’s “Overlooked” Albums

Posted by Dharmic X on 12/18/12 | Filed under Opinion, Overlooked
I admire RefinedHype for being a platform rooted in integrity and sincerity, with the goal of putting on a community of hip-hop heads onto quality new music they might not be familiar with. Thanks to selective posts and an active comment section that comprises RefinedHype Nation, I’d say the site has already cemented itself as one of the premier hip-hop sites on the internet; it might not be a huge site, but the close-knit community and quality posts makes it a force to be reckoned with on the world wide web.

That said, when you have to be this selective on a day-by-day (and week-by-week) basis, certain records that are incredibly dope manage to totally slip through the cracks and get ignored. It’s an unavoidable part of the rap game in 2012, where the supply far outweighs the demand for quality hip-hop, and saturation runs the industry.

And that’s where "Overlooked" comes in.

Since October, I’ve taken an album that came out the previous week that was largely ignored by RefinedHype, and offer my review for the site in an attempt to shine some much-needed attention to the project. The "Overlooked" series has thus far included incredible works from veteran MCs such as Vinnie Paz, Rapper Big Pooh, and Saigon, among a few others, but because we started it so late in the year, I missed the opportunity to include some other incredible releases.

These are some quality albums definitely worth checking out this holiday season:

Clear Soul Forces - "Detroit Revolution(s)"

This is a very simple album, but there is something mesmerizingly beautiful in this simplicity. All the Detroit-based rap quartet (Illajide, L.A.Z, E-Fav, and J-Roc) has to offer are dope rhymes over dope beats. And by dope, I mean the quality of both are greater than 80% of the albums that came out this year. No big name features, no label deal, and hell, no need to actually purchase it (paying is optional via the Bancamp link). This is one smooth, cohesive audio ride from start to finish, cementing Clear Soul Forces as the group from Detroit that you need to be checking for if you aren’t already.

OC & Apollo Brown - "Trophies"

OC’s reputation as a legendary rhyemslinger is obviously well-established thanks to the critically acclaimed albums in the 90s (Word... Life and Jewelz) and his work as part of the Digging in the Crates crew. But while the Brooklyn MC has remained consistent throughout this last decade with several quality bodies of work, he had yet to receive his just spotlight in the internet era. Pairing up with Detroit producer (and arguably one of the top producers of 2012) Apollo Brown and the well-grounded Mello Music Group movement served as the perfect solution.

This is sixteen songs of a veteran lyricist delving into his current mindstate, the nature of the industry, and the condition of New York City during Hurricane Irene (which fittingly enough served as a soundtrack for my life during the events of Hurricane Sandy). Apollo Brown’s soundtrack is haunting yet soulful, a breathy soundscape that OC’s vocals glide through like a gold-medal gymnast. Apollo definitely killed the game with all the loose records he did for artists such as Chino XL, Wordsworth, and Journalist 103, along with the big reception he received for Dice Game with Guilty Simpson, but Trophies represents his best, most cohesive work of the year.

La Coka Nostra - "Master of the Dark Arts"

Along the vein of the first review I did, for Vinnie Paz’s "God of the Serengeti", the second album for supergroup La Coka Nostra brought the collective into a gritty, hardcore vibe that they embraced thoroughly. Gone were the Snoop Dogg and Bun B features from the first album. Also not returning was Everlast, taking care of his ailing daughter. But using a soundscape that featured a monstrous assist from DJ Premier (“Mind Your Business”) and features ranging from Sean Price to Thirstin Howl III, this album was a sinister, vicious, head-nodding trip, the type of album the core fanbase of the group could flock to while people outside of that lane could appreciate for the skill, especially when in an angry mood. La Coka Nostra pounded the nail on the head with a sledgehammer with their second go-around.

Other slept-on releases worth mentioning: "People Hear What They See" by Oddisee and "First of a Living Breed" by Homeboy Sandman. Two slightly unconventional releases from artists who have sizeable fan-bases and have received a bit of attention from RefinedHype in the past, just not during their release cycle.

See Also: Overlooked: Theo3 “Airplane Over One Way Streets” (Album Review)

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