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Pennjamin Bannekar – ILLwriteR Interview


It does not take much skill set or genius marketing these days for an artist to acquire fame and prestige. Post a nude picture on social media or record music lacking depth and substance and the artist literally becomes part of hip-hop’s Walking Dead. Get it? “I do not think we have to be as talented as in the past. With technology like Auto Tune, any artist can sound good,” states the Chicago artist with much potential equipped with image and branding to maximize artistic success.

He is Pennjamin Bannekar, the LL Cool J of Chicago music without the Kangol hat, gold chains, and muscles. Not to confuse him for a sucker. His artistry is to be taken seriously. He creates music for the fellas and has a huge female fanbase that are head over heels for him. Perhaps it is his suave charismatic nature, babyface appeal, commanding stage presence, microphone control with soul, and a unique stage name that rivals the competitive artistic pool.

“I was always known as Penn when I started rapping. I was later given the stage name Pennjamin Bannekar; a name I scorned when I was part of the [Chicago hip-hop trio] Project: Fr3sh,” uttered the artist. Benjamin Banneker was an African American author, mathematician, and astronomer. “I got creative by changing the spelling of the famous African American historical figure’s name to make it more suitable and appropriate to [my artistry],” highlighted Pennjamin Bannekar.  He is a huge history buff and, “Wanted to pay reverence to Benjamin Banneker.”

Besides his interesting stage name, Pennjamin Bannekar’s moniker adlib makes him distinguished. Jadakiss is known for his raspy voice and baby laugh and Diddy is known for his “take that” marque on records. For Pennjamin, it is his signature catchphrase, “Hey, Well Alright!” He adds, “The inspiration came from J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights. I would hear Cole adlib “Hey!” I liked it!” He does not know where “Well Alright” derived. “The words seemed to organically fit together. I have been running with it since.”

Besides a creative stage name and adlib comes an inimitable album title. “The album is simplistically titled 1/11 because it dropped on my birthday,” said an enthusiastic Pennjamin. For the album to be titled as such and to be released on his born day must be of great significance. “The numbers 1/11 have meaning behind it. They imply whatever I focus on will eventually come true.” He adds, “Things in my life tend to manifest whether positive or negative. I can sometimes be my own obstacle.” The title of the album is a, “Constant reminder to remain positive during chaotic times.”

Pennjamin Bannekar, just like any artist, needed to perfect his work in order for it to be properly delivered on a special occasion like this. “I worked on it for nearly two years. It was only right to push the date to January.” He goes in detail about the recording process of 1/11. “I used an old I-phone to play the music and hum melodies when recording this album. Once I got the melody to [precision], I went to the studio to expound on it some more.” If the song is seamless, “I write and record to it and come to Chicago producer J. Hill’s studio for mixing.” If the song is not to his liking, “I leave it as is or it gets [discarded].”  Forty songs were recorded and only eight appear on 1/11. “It is all about feeling, praise, and how people responded that determined which songs made the final cut,” explains Pennjamin Bannekar.

The album is unlike the rest of his discography. “My debut solo album Heartbeat was released after Project: Fr3sh went their separate ways [to pursue other interests]. I was trying to prove myself and to the world I can rap and be able to stand on my own as an artist.” His [sophomore] album Paper Plane Pilots is his Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak. “It was therapeutic for me to record this album as I was getting over a serious relationship that did not work out.” With 1/11, “I wanted to make music for people to vibe out to and feel good.”

Pennjamin Bannekar does not necessarily deem himself as a hip-hop artist. “I rap but I am more into making [illustrious] music ranging from singing to rapping not only for myself but for other artists.” He elucidates, “Other artists may be skillful in the art of rap and that is great.” He is not in competition with anyone but him. “I am trying to be the best me- Pennjamin Bannekar. There will be artists that want to emulate my style of rap just like many try to impersonate Future and his melodic style of music.”

In the end, he wants to be remembered for his contributions in music. “When the public hear of Chicago, I want for them to compare me to the greats like Kanye West.” Long live Pennjamin Bannekar!

Pennjamin Bannekar continues his interview with journalist Hector De La Rosa as he discusses each song concept on his latest offering 1/11.

Best Life

This is the first song on the album and the last song I recorded. It is considered the Birthday theme song. If a celebrity like Diddy throws me a party, I would tell him to play this song as I make my grand entrance to the place where the party is held.


This song contains a sample from The Notorious BIG’s classic “Juicy” Here, I started to sing to the melody for no particular reason. The song’s concept descends from a Saturday night experience at Dave & Busters with a good friend of mine. We kicked it, played video games, and had great conversation. Next day, I made a song based on this experience. Though, I wrote the song as if I were on a date night with a woman.

Don’t Say That

I got creative with this record spitting a hot sixteen on the mic after hearing the production to this song. The song showcases my lyrical [agility] at best. I used to listen to a team of people tell me whether or not to address a certain issue on a particular song. Either the song was too real or sensitive for listeners. In this case, I decided to block what everyone had to say and perfected a blazing record.

Money Drop featuring D2G

This is the baller’s anthem for individuals who get direct deposit on payday and not having to deal with adulting or paying bills. The feeling of having money left over in the bank account is a great feeling. The money left over can be used on shopping sprees to buy Nikes.

Alter Prayer

I recorded this song a year ago. It is my Kanye WestJesus Walks” type of record that touches on those who believe in God and are spiritual. Though, do not necessarily attend church. I happened to be one of those individuals. People make excuses not to attend church service, perhaps being too long or it takes away their time from watching Sunday NFL Football. This is my interpretation.

-Hector De La Rosa



J. Hollins – ILLwriteR Interview

11169777_10155429579620162_1873452444753805985_o“R&B is nonexistent in mainstream,” expressed a concerned Chicago musician and vocal sensation J. Hollins during his interview with IllwriteR’s Hector De La Rosa. “Artists are not contributing the element of soul or the art of lovemaking in the music.” A moment ago, the vocalist heard a Top 8 at eight and to, “my surprise not one R&B record was played. Mainstream considers artists like Fetty Wap R&B for his melodic rapping.” He clearly states Wap is not considered R&B or soul music.

This is where opportunity lies for the soulful crooner. J. Hollins regards his music as, “the soundtrack of a lifetime. I compose and deliver contemporary/traditional R&B not exclusively for SoundScan notoriety but for [the masses] to groove to while singing in the shower, cleaning the house, or during date nights.”

He creates music people can create everlasting memories to verses releasing music to garner streams only for the [the masses] to forget it exists. “Music is treated as a disposable item,” mentioned J. Hollins with frustration. “It has been habitual for us to create and cultivate things only to put them down like a toddler who gets a new toy for Christmas and plays with it until he/she gets bored.” He chuckles and at the same time displays seriousness. He adds, “the toddler does not pay attention to the toy until someone else comes along and makes use of it.” He suggests a change in mentality. “Consumers and fanatics should take more time appreciating and supporting music especially R&B than spending time abhorring what is being labeled as great music.”    

Today’s R&B artists sound similar without distinction: auto-tune over trap production. For J. Hollins, “dichotomy and duality make me different from other hip-hop/soul R&B acts. I have a distinctive voice.” His songwriting and subject matter are, “more intricate and detailed than the typical artist. My lyrics paint pictures.” Not many artists can actually sing and rap. For this singer, he manages to do well with both. This is demonstrated in his latest endeavor and best work to date Casanova Black (A Love Story).

“This album is an infusion of heavy drums, striking chords, [thumping] bass, vocal arrangements and harmonies at its finest,” propose J. Hollins. He recorded up to twenty songs for the album. Only seven made the final cut. “I wrote this album like I was writing a [script] to a movie.” He knew how he wanted it to start and when to end.

Casanova Black (A Love Story)” has a sophisticated and mature sound from other albums [in my discography],” explains the impassioned singer. “It tells a story of a strained relationship between a couple and the [quest] to rekindle their love. Question is will they stand the test of time and be able to weather the storm?” This is where the masses tune in to hear the fate of the troubled couple.

While listening, the masses may ask who Casanova Black is. His reply, “There is a distinction between J. Hollins and Casanova Black.” He goes in-depth, “Casanova Black is who I am on stage, in front of the camera, and in videos. J. Hollins is a devoted husband, father, and personal trainer with a voice of gold.” “A friend of mine gave me that name for my suave, debonair, and charismatic nature. Therefore, I made it my artistic persona.”

Besides the current state of R&B, the maturity of J. Hollins and of his friends served an inspiration in creating Casanova Black (A Love Story). “It is gratifying to see us all transform from boys to men by becoming great boyfriends, fiancés, fathers, and husbands without society dictating their standards and norms of what is acceptable for us as men.”

Hollins wants for people to take something valuable from songs like “Heartbreak Therapy” or “If I.” He adds, “If my music helps them navigate their way through pain caused by [love’s heartbreak] and mend hearts, I accomplished my purpose in my artistry.” J. Hollins continues his interview with journalist Hector De La Rosa to discuss the behind the scenes of Casanova Black (A Love Story) most noteworthy tracklist.

Chose Not to See

The song centers on the popular guy everyone loves whose profession is either an athlete or entertainer. He has a significant other that loves him. However, he is the life of the party and a lover of many women. Eventually, he loses the [apple of his eye] due to his carelessness. He faults her for always taking him back the minute he slips up when she knows the kind of man he is and the lifestyle he carries. Men can relate to this record. I am sure many of us have been in this kind of predicament.

Heartbreak Therapy

This song is the aftermath of the single “Chose Not to See.” After the heavy partying, strident liquor consumption, and smashing rebound women, buddy sits by his lonely thinking of the impairment done to the relationship- a childish act. He realized his significant other did not care about his public persona, [materialism, or prestige]. She loved him for who he was and saw something he did not see in himself.

Love You

This song is considered the apology record. It lyrically cites, ‘In the past I know I hurt you/ Please believe I never meant to.’ The fella learns from his growing pains and tries to win her heart. He asks for a second chance. There is ample begging going on in the record.

I wanted that nostalgic gritty analog sound that hardly exists in today’s music and pay homage to the ‘90s. It seemed fit to use the Jodeci interpolation on this record. The sound of the quartet was refreshing during that particular era. The idea was [a no brainer].

180 featuring Kng Drty

This record is the continuation of the “Love You” single. It is obvious she wants to stay with him and vice versa. Though, she contemplates whether their love is [worth fighting for or for the both to go their separate ways]. He knows she is acerbically hurt and wants to punish him. He wants to pick up where they left off promising what was done in the past will never happen again.

Shut It Down featuring Hyph

This song summarizes how he becomes a better man. What he used to entertain no longer interests him. He has matured to where he had no problem shutting down the very things that blinded him from true love. He values his significant other by putting [that woman first].   

-Hector De La Rosa


Legend McCall Interview

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Dropping the “Trust the Process Volume 1” album the same day Jay-Z released his 4:44 album was unplanned and a blessing,” conversed an enthusiastic Legend McCall as he sits with journalist Hector De La Rosa to discuss the behind the scenes of his latest opus.

The moment served ironic but, “special for me because Hov is my idol. I always aspired to be one of the greats like Jay-Z and Kanye West that make timeless music.” Crafting classic music serves the ultimate for the hip-hop artist. “I make music that speaks for young black males that gravitate towards rapping who never had guidance or [any form of] mentorship,” articulated the fervent emcee. He adds, “My music caters to those who do not have life’s roadmap laid out for them.”

Not only does the vigorous emcee make music for the misguided but music that represents home- Rockford, Illinois. “I developed tough skin while growing up in Rockford.” It is considered, “the tale of two cities where the city went from a community of love, peace, and joy to a [place of devastation and chaos]. It is a small city but statistically violent and impoverished.” He utters in disgust, “one can feel the terror that exists within Rockford.” Legend McCall shows concern as he pauses for a moment as if he were in deep thought. He continues, “There is no hope for people out there.” With this said, “I use my music as a vehicle for change for my city with anticipation of seeing better days.”

The city of Rockford is not only responsible for the development of his artistic endeavour Trust the Process Volume 1, but also a tweet from Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid inspired the title of the album. “It consists of spiritual themes and confident booster singles. I speak on subject matter ranging from basketball, hip-hop culture, relationships regarding my significant other, family, and close friends to politics.” For the lyricist, “It is all about feeling when it came to recording songs for the album. Each song has to describe what I was going through in that particular moment in my life.” What makes Legend McCall an interesting artist is his song selection process that makes the final cut. “I would repeatedly listen to songs after the recording session and sit on them for weeks. I go back to see if I still have that same feeling when I first recorded the songs. If so, they are definitely keepers.” He admits to being his, “own worst critic. However, I am truly satisfied with Trust the Process sonically.”

What serves important for an artist like Legend McCall is carving his own niche and not subject to the standards of the music industry. He lives by the artistic motto of, “being true to me. I do not seek approval from anyone when it comes to making music nor seek fame.” He wants to be able to express and, “relay my message trusting one person can get something out of my music.” He highlights, “I want to be remembered as an artist and person who took chances and reached the highest pinnacle life has to offer.”

Legend McCall continues his conversation with journalist Hector De La Rosa to discuss the behind the scenes of Trust the Process Volume 1 most noteworthy tracks.

Monochromatic Flows

I vibe out and get into a carefree zone when I hear that nostalgic ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop. This song has that nostalgic feeling. The production to this song gave me the platform to display my skill of rap; projecting my flow, cadence, and delivery at the highest level.


This is a favorite- soulful, uplifting, and personal to me. The record lets my uncle know, who has been incarcerated, that the family and I have been holding it down for him and are with him in spirit. Also, the song cites how I hear God talking and guiding me in this journey of life. Sixth Ave produced the track. He was very excited how the song formed [to perfection] once I sent him the finished product.

Madness on the 8th

This song almost did not make the cut. It is creative but felt it did not fit the theme of the album. However, I gave in after listening to it more than once. I wanted the song to capture that sentiment and moment when Donald Trump was elected in office. I expressed how I felt when that event took place. I knew the outcome of the presidential elections beforehand. I am not surprised about the things that go on in America. I know how the system works. I rather focus on something different than dwell on the foolery and madness [that came with the elections].

Mission Accomplished

This [particular single] helped me realized I recorded a great piece of art [Trust the Process]. I was honored that my friend Katrina Brown, a talented woman who grew up in the church, blessed the track with her soulful vocals. I was promoted in my place of employment at the time of recording this song. I felt everything was falling into place for me. It is a ‘momma I made it’ type record.

Shaun Livingston

Consider this my second favorite joint off Trust the Process Volume 1 and the very first song I recorded for the album in 2015 before I took a two-year hiatus in music to develop myself as a person and artist. I am a huge Shaun Livingston fan. Growing up, my homie used to brag about Livingston from Peoria, Illinois and how he used to bring the terror to Rockford high school basketball. To see him early in his career playing for the Los Angeles Clippers and getting an injury only to come back in great formation demonstrates his strong resilience. It is that Midwest story I can relate. His story describes who I am as a person. This record captures Shaun Livingston’s outstanding achievements.

Hector De La Rosa

Bryan Khedive – Don’t Mind Me [Review]

bryan khedive

What do music fanatics get when they hear 1990s quality of artistry, 2000s R&B signature, with modern urban commercial appeal? Bryan Khedive is the freshman of elite musicians on his way to stardom. Proof is in his EP titled Don’t Mind Me– a catalogue of music that enact upon a collection of thoughts:love, regret, heartbreak, to the longing for passionate sex with the woman he wants to share the rest of his life with. These outlooks are often private but made public on record. These judgements often cloud Khedive; he is unable to reach a moment of clarity. Throughout this particular discography, he chronicles finding solace hoping to get to happy.

The album begins with “Half of Me”, a neo-soul radio friendly mid tempo that introduces him as a reserved educated brother and musician with knowledge and resilience.  He tells the masses he only shows one side of him on social media straying away from the f**kery that comes with it: fakeness, hypocrisy, illusions, to a false sense of responsibility. Same time, Khedive challenges society to become more of leaders and trendsetters versus becoming followers and chasing trends. Don’t mind this crooner for being discreet.
It is stated that a person becomes those exact thoughts that come to his or her mind. With “Run”, Khedive forewarns his love to leave him behind this cold and heartless world because he has not been truthful to her. The crooner living in a realm of lies causes him to be heartbroken drowning in his own depression. “Sober” is the continuation as it picks up where “Run” left off in storyline. Here, Khedive tries to get over his love loss but becomes fixated on her as irrational thoughts creep into his mind unable to contain self-control. Being fixated leads him to despise the woman what seems to be gone forever. “Sober” is stunning in sound his voice seduces the tune giving the song a hallucinating, dreamy, and eerie feeling of being haunted.

The album ends with “Best Love”, an a la ‘on bended knee’ record that showcase Khedive’s readiness to do what it takes to win her love again going above and beyond in providing her needs sexually, being a accountable provider and husband, to being a protector of their love.
Does the musician achieve his goal of happiness? The EP left listeners with a cliffhanger. It is believe the next album will provide those details. Therefore, Don’t Mind Me is bold for a debut and a first for Bryan Khedive. It has, ‘take me as I am’ DNA on record. Don’t mind him speaking his art in truthful ways reflecting life. Artists like him are much needed.

-Hector De La Rosa

D2G – Short Summers Long Winters [Review]


It is infrequent to find an emcee who is radiant in artistry where his or her showmanship rules, commanding the stage as the crowd inhales every inch of lyrics to his or her credible storytelling. Recherché is when hip-hop did not give a f**k about winning an award nor the number of followers, likes, and hits a song had all for ‘whore’s attention.’ It is this Midwest rising star that makes anyone still believe hip-hop as a genre and cultural force can still change the world. D2G(@2GMAKEAMOVE), a product of the forefathers of golden era hip-hop, flexes his mastery with a conceptual compendium. The composition Short Summers Long Winters (SSLW) is 360 in circumference where his whiz shines by splitting the album’s diameter into two metaphoric representations sharing one common perspective: Chicago.

D2G is beast for a unique and stylish attention grabbing album title that exactly illustrates Chicago’s off-balanced weather patterns and undistinguishable seasons. Short summers is metaphoric for the beauty of the city-known for its enamored architecture, die-hard sports fanatics, cultural diversity, entertainment scene, to having some of the best cooking (“Chi-City Summers”). Long winters is allegorically differingin detailing the disheartening inner city blues that plague the city regarding the shady politics, segregation, nefarious violence, to having thesurvival of the fittest mentality (“Winter’s Brew,” “A Call To Summer”).

SSLW sonically captures the very melting pot of the Chicago soundscape influences: blues, R&B, soul, jazz, neo-soul, flamboyant poetics, hip-hop with a stream of consciousness, to versatility in delivery. D2G snaps and spits fire in tongue Twista form on “Long Days”, provingthe city of Chicago has the best in talent in spite of Chicago being notorious for its violence (positive over negative). The trading of verses between D2G and A.P. Remedyare like two massive colliding warm and cold fronts that musically produce the most dangerous weather on record.  D2G’s talent cleverly irradiates in the anthem “90s Flow”, a single that not only pays homage to the sacredness of hip-hop tradition but to the icons and legends that paved the way for artists like him.

While both “Long Days” and “90s Flow” have the long winters theme; hence song titles, cadence, and delivery of songs viewed as crystalline, hypothermic, frigid, and unending, D2G seamlessly balances the album with the short summer equilibria. “Hydroplanin’” is 2015’s summer jam that makes the emcee the life of the party. The textured crooning of soulful Isaiah Jones gives ears a steering of youthful sun-drenched tinge. “Reflections” is a song whose melody is often a reminder of the sound of damp summer rain pouring against the window pane that belongs to housing project. D2G brings out his inner ghetto child, soul-searching and questioning his existence.

It becomes Purge: Anarchy when two of the illest Chicago rhymeslayers come together on “Never Left”. D2G and AbstrakMind lyrically manslaughter rap opponents and anyone secretly despising their existence into butchered bits of cheap vinyl.

D2G, the resemblance of LL Cool J and Joe Budden in tone and delivery, passionately and cunningly illustrates the portrait of Chicago city life with fragrant lush. Short Summers Long Wintersis cooler by the lake with raps of class.

-Hector De La Rosa

Sareem Poems & Ess Be – Beautiful Noise [Review]


Beautiful is defined as pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.  It is alsoconsideredof a very high standard, of excellent. Noise is a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance.  Sareem Poems (founding member of LA Symphony) and Lansing, Michigan producer Ess Be formed as a hip-hop duo to create the high-volume and unrestrained handicraft Beautiful Noise(an album title whose two words contradict) as they make known publicly responsible adult contemporary hip-hop music fashioned to uplift, inform, educate, soul search, and see the beauty in the ugly realities of the world.

The album commences with the spatters in lyrical armamentssingle “We”.  Sareem’s stanzas, comealive as he describes the reversals of humanity as, “two generations of non-thinkers, non-believers.”Poems analytics project what society will embody, what the masses stand for, and what will and will not be tolerated, “We brush shit off/ We stand tall/ We live to see another day…We touch/ We love…We been bamboozled and tricked.”  The heartbeat in middle of song gives Sareem’s poetics a kick with militant emphasis.

The duo, an often reminder of The Lox and of Reflection Eternal, makes the masses climb to the highest in heights to the heavens of rap haven in “Higher” as the duo, “build from the ground up/ Check for the foundation/ Never trust a big butt or simile…Raise it up high/ Take it up high.”  Ess Be, regarded as producer Hi-Tek of sorts for his electronic and futuristic production that pushes the envelope of bombarded trap music heard through Clear Channel airwaves, produces an ill design of Golden Era tribute in hip-hop assembly.

The West Coast sound reminiscent of DJ Quik fuels Sareem Poems to pour his entire existence in the autobiographical “Push It Along”.  Sareem tears up, “No brother/ No sister/ Learned to be a man without the presence of a father…Can’t let them stop that forward motion…If you feel you are not going to make it/ Slow down and pray.”  This single compliments the poet/rapper’s “Worthy” of life and existence embodying everything that makes him the man he is today, “I’m a sinner/ I’m a winner/ I’m a fighter/ I’m a lover/ I’m a loser.”  What is respected about Sareem is his ability to show the human side of him without blame or being shamed labeling the good and bad side of him as supposed to being superficial like many in society.

The exquisite jazzy single “Show N Tell” is highlighted as the best throughout the album. The emcee embraces the GOD in him shining his light on the world, “The Godly parts of my life are so gorgeous/ I want to develop them and blow ‘em up enormous…by the grace of GOD I’m just a fly human being.” Profound!
Beautiful Noise serves fundamental to hip-hop blueprint of educating the masses as it challenges many to find self in a world consumed and obscurely separated by hatred, envy, and jealousy.  While hip-hop artists are fixated on clamored materialism and the baddest chicks they bag, Sareem Poems and Ess Be are only concerned with connecting with Mother Earth and with salvaging lives through music.  These two individuals are not the average hip-hop school teachers that talk the talk only to be disappointed that they do not live righteous.  It is proof in their music the manner which the lyricism and passion spilled in rhymes indicate they are working on self and practicing a healthy lifestyle as they reflect on their inner. While conscious artists come off a bit preachy at listeners, Sareem Poems and Ess Be talk and fellowship with fanatics penning hip-hop compositions of diplomacy- of high regard.

-Hector De La Rosa

dFresh – Universal Laws [Review]

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Ears bleed to the philosophical album’s lyrical spoken truth of a concept too familiar but fresh to the genre at a time when hip-hop music is centered mostly on dark themes with dense messages of misogyny, drug usage, to excessive gang banging.  Universal Laws is regarded as Higher Truth measured on heightened awareness as hip-hop artist dFresh cleverly weaves old school boom bap production with creative songs titles to aid the masses tountapped their power or source of ‘BEING.’

The thought-provoking brilliance of emcee dFresh delivers with providing in-depth context of Universal Laws being a governing force that determines every aspect of creation including each event, condition, and circumstance experienced.  Yet, one must align and harmonize with these unwavering principles to attract and acquire happiness and abundance to obtain a quality life.  This notion is lyrically verbalized in the singles “Vibrate” and “The Strangest Secret”- singles that complement one another.  “Vibrate” proposes individuals attract the very thing desired or put into existence and the universe will give what is put out.  dFresh lyrically affirms in the secret song ‘The greatest one among men…preach every word I speak.’  He proclaims (vibrates) to be that secret that dwells in the darkest vaults of hip-hop- the Ghost Dog of the genre knows he has a purpose in music and is on his way to untainted artistic progression.

However, the album’s theme interestingly takes a turn from middle to end as it unravels to uncertainty and chaos. dFresh expresses to perfection in the most concrete and abstract manner how the universal laws do not produce the desired results if individuals are being taught throughout life that these same laws of nature seem to be irrational and illogical, which limits chances of ‘BEING’ and self-sabotages a person’s full potential.  The lyric to “Retro” sums up this notion: “I don’t compete. No, I just create.”  dFresh cleverly treats this lyric as oxymoron because his views of competing and creating conflict and sabotages his artistry because in order to be the best emcee he has to create art to compete against others to dominate who is the best lyrically and as an artist.  Yet, he has to compete (remain the best) to create and cement a legacy in the fierce hip-hop world. Cunning!

The single “Start Even (Make A Living)” further illustrates the idea of self-sabotage and how one self-destructs by not becoming one with the universe.  Here, dFresh seeks enlightment and righteousness but short hands himself as he overlooks the power of “Being” and exclusively depends on “Doing.”  This “Doing” shapes the emcee’s physical world as it is perceived as chaotic with increased anxiety and fear.  dFresh feels restricted because he is swimming against rather than with the ‘flow’ of life.

However, the album returns with rightful spectrum towards the end with “History”.  dFresh becomes a man of mission as he becomes aligned with the universe now knowing his purpose in life is to create change and make history by establishing forward movement.

The murky production similar to Noah ‘40’ Shebib and The RZA with dFresh’s delivery similar to A$AP Rocky with raps of brainpower give Universal Laws mass appeal where everything imbalanced becomes balanced and where the masses learn their greatest discovery is knowing GOD and become one in accordance with the Creator.  The album and vociferousness dictation will indulge many to manifest destiny of a life full of potential and of greatness.

-Hector De La Rosa

K. Hill X Debonair P – Truck Jewels & Filters [Review]


The hip-hop community should give big up thanks to the latest in collaborations ranging from Royce Da 5’9 and DJ Premier to GhostfaceKillah and Bad Bad Not Good, who are few that paved the way for underground artists such as emcee K Hill and Australian producer Debonair P. to form a union.  This hip-hop marriage birthed a works of art creatively entitled Truck, Jewels, & Filter– an album that Trucks a livewire of authentic Jewels of hip-hop while Filters out the bulls**t raps.

Whenever I Write” showcases the duo at their best. K. Hill, the Big L in flow and delivery, verbally assaults the pad with his vicious rhymes as he uses the blood of wack emcees to manuscript his thoughts.  Havoc and pain is felt each time K.Hill verbalizes his poetics to an impressive and masterful production of Debonair P. not to mention the remixes proving the producer’s wicked genius.  The jazzy ‘perpendicular of a “Clout War”’is lyrical butchery to any mainstream artist claiming their Clear Channel stance as real hip-hop.  What once served perpendicular in hip-hop (the formation and shape of authenticity, skill, and the preservation of the five elements of hip-hop) is deteriorating to what Nas viewed in song as ‘parallel to hell.’

While the music industry can be very unappreciative of good music and the artists that create it, the duo expresses their sincere gratitude to loyal supporters and even the naysayers in the profound “Root For Me”.  The album comes off strong with the album and song title “Trucks, Jewels, & Filters”, K. Hill proclaims his crown by addressing to never compare his rhymes as mediocre.  Rather view them as bars of gold.

The powerhouse K. Hill and Debonair P. rhyme to reason.  Truck, Jewels, & Filter makes everything impure with hip-hop music become of purity.  The scratching technique at the end of songs are creatively dynamic it leads to listeners in assuming DJ Premier is the author behind it all.  That’s how dope Debonair P is as a producer.  As for K. Hill, we will treat him as already one of the pioneers with a cemented legacy reigning hip-hop sovereignty.

Hector De La Rosa


Signif – Friction


F**k Beyonce’s single “Flawless” and its half a** message of feminism. It serves derogatory specifically to girls and women referencing them as b**ches during the first minute or two of the song.  Resentment surfaces as the entertainment world, media, and social mediacredit “Queen Bey” of birthing feminism perspectives without properly acknowledging those who historically contributed to such notion.  The only thing Beyonce did was reexamined and redefined the concept.

Want an artist and album packaged with racial pride, renewed feminism, and one that celebrates self-expression?  Signif’s(Signif) Friction is valued as artistically sophisticated, honoring black creativity, strength, and womanhood.  Friction,by definition, is the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another.  It is also defined as conflict or animosity caused by clash of wills, temperaments, or opinions.  Therefore, this Milwaukee born femcee and New York resident exercises her political correctness (code of conduct that challenges racist, sexist, and classist notions embedded in the American life) in opposing challenging forces both inside and outside of Black America.

Signif weighs significance to society foremost hip-hop culture proof in her latest artistic endeavor whose brilliance shines as she explores the theme of functional feminism (committed to ‘keeping it real’ with respect to the critique of interlocking and overlapping nature of sexism, racism, and capitalism in the lives of blacks).  The album begins with “Keep It Funky”, a works of art where the rhymestress delivers her vocals over the sample to James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.”  Here, she allows her feminist space to penetrate and govern in a man’s space where entertainment predominately hip-hop is male dominate.  This album’s spokesperson is committed to preserving the aesthetics of hip-hop: black consciousness raps (“The L Word (Like Lust Love)”), pro woman anthems (“Laugh Last” featuring Sadat X), clever battle raps over golden era boom bapand soul music (“The Connect”).

This offspring of Bahamadia, Rapsody, Missy Elliot, and Jean Grae takes music to heightened intellectuality.  Signif tributes to the Renaissance era by name dropping the greats of jazz from Duke Ellington to Count Basie in the jazzed laced single “Late Night Jazz”.  The song is potent to the ears just as the heroin in Sonny’s veins in James Baldwin’s character in “Sonny’s Blues.” The female Common and Lupe Fiasco abets the political stratosphere of Public Enemy’s Chuck D in the fight against societal ills in “Alright”.  The toughness of Queen Latifah embodies female empowerment in “You’re Beautiful”, a single that demonstrates that black is beautiful and for women to know their self-worth.

We get the best of both worlds (man and woman, black man uplifts the black woman, old school meets new school) when Elzhi (Slum Village) collaborates with Signif in the soulful gem “Play 2 Win”.  A diamond is formed under “Pressure”, a tale of a young girl whose life turns tragic while viewed by society as just another statistic.  The hip-hop love sonnet “Eyes For You (Love)” sustains and reserve the element of black love between mother earth and her earth toned pharaoh, where society with its many forms of entertainment (films and music) tries to replace it with themes of misogyny, violence, and hatred.

Friction is durable, proud, intelligent foremost consistent and indispensable.  If Signif is the new woman’s liberation in hip-hop culture then her brainchild Friction is the new dissertation of hip-hop feminism.

Hector De La Rosa

Phil G – Phillanoise [Review]


Remember the barbecues, rooftop parties, jams at the park where DJs and boom boxes as entertainment provided the sweet tunes of Eric B and Rakim, Run DMC, LL Cool J, AZ,to Nas? Can you rewind to that era when the powerful force of hip-hop bind people together to address seismic societal changes before a great divide?  Have you recalled hip-hop having classics such as “The Bridge Is Over,” “Hey Young World,” “I Used To Love H.E.R,” “Mass Appeal” to “Can It Be All So Simple”?  Reminisce when hip-hop stood for something before pimping and perversion took place?  If you think those days of past are over, then you find yourself absurdly foolish.  Though it seems like the good days are of old, it is the underground that keeps hip-hop’s most treasured moments in time capsule.

It is Chicago’s finest Phil G and Jay Illa that push‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop spectrum to the forefront.  The lyric, “My swagger is ’95 in 2014” not only suggest sufficient evidence, but gives a glimpse to what this collaborative effort Phillanoise has to offer- the scholarship of lustrous raps, bedlam lyricism, earthy storytelling, microphone control with soul, and gritty talent.
(Intro) Phillanoise” is three things in song.   It is rebellious, uncensored, yet cocky.  It best intimidates and bullies conformists and shitty cult nonlinguistic and stuttering rappers to a coma.  Foremost, the song’s calls for a new takeover to take place- a second coming of the Golden Age.  “Nothing We Can Do”, exemplifies this second coming with lyrics that combat, “My team is strong/My dreams are born/ My heart is pure/My art is war.”  The song’s exclusivity stems from its braggadocious-up-in-your-face approach and the duo trading verses with such finesse.

Phillanoise is powerful for its production provided by the Golden Era ambassador Rashid Hadee, who not only leaves a dent on the album but unbearable collision to hip-hop.  The soulfulness in sound plays with listeners’ emotions and recalls for great memories, transporting hip-hop heads through time.  Artistry is mastered with immense grace in “Give It To Me (Give Up The Goods)”, a single that creatively pays homage to Mobb Deep similar in song title and concept to their 1995 Infamous album. “F.Y.M (F^^k You Mean)” the better half of the album, verbally assaults anyone who contest Phil G’s disposition as a loving father, devoted husband, and as an underground lyricist. Here, Phil G shines the brightest flexing his lyrical muscle with laid back flow and much command, “Power in my word/Power in my voice/I make them feel the noise (Phillanoise)/They don’t have a f^^king choice.”
The songs “Stressed Out” and “Still” complement each other.  What is adored about the songs is their high power surge infused with God honest spirit.  The soulful piano tune “Stressed Out” is soaked with perfect storytelling of a husband/father coping with baby mother drama.  Phil G’s baritone voice and the sounds of rain in the beginning and end of song signify love’s struggles, pain, and sacrifice.  With “Still,” Phil G channels his inner LL Cool J as he still is devoted to rekindling his love for her (an attribute replaced by mainstream hip-hop with misogyny) despite relationship’s many flaws.  The song is powerful when directed from the heart.  Who said hip-hop didn’t have a heart?

The duo carry the same spirits as their hip-hop forefathers who paved the way for hip-hop artists such as Jay Illa and Phil G as they do things out of “Love.” Indeed, it is proven they have love for the genre and for the art form by delivering a masterpiece despite having endured music industry politics.

Production to Phillanoise is the illest; penmanship on the album is Illwrite!Phil G and Jay Illa pullout body bags for hip-hop enormous body count.

-Hector De La Rosa


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