For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

Freestyle: The Art Of Rhyme

10th Anniversary Special Limited Edition

Have you ever seen MC Supernatural live? Well, if you had the opportunity to see him create freestyles out of thin air, then you know you have seen a great show. For those not lucky enough to see the legendary freestyle Hip Hop artist like Supernatural, Lord Finesse, Black Thought, Mos Def, and Craig G in person, Freestyle: The Art Of The Rhyme should be a part of your Hip Hop collection. This DVD is impressive and historic. In this 10th Anniversary Special Limited Edition, we see firsthand the icons who made freestyle and battle rapping popular. This documentary takes you into the rap cyphers that separated the Hip Hop heads from the impostors.


This DVD lets you into the world of artist like Bahamadia, Planet Asia, Questlove, Jurassic 5, Juice and other notable freestyle masters. If you are hungry for real lyrics and Hip Hop on another level, you will love Freestyle: The Art Of The Rhyme.

As a Hip Hop fan it was great to see archival footage of Juice vs. Supernatural and Supernatural vs. Craig G (Part 1 and 2). Currently, the art of the rhyme/lyricism has taken a backseat to studio gangsters and other charlatans. This documentary is definitely worth viewing.

Freestyle: The Art Of The Rhyme’s special 10th Anniversary Limited Edition does a good job exploring the world of battle rap. This is a true depiction of the underground culture of freestyle Hip Hop and is therefore must see TV.

by Tony Samuel

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Shinobi Stalin- Invisible Man Fly Definition


Arriving in Central Florida (1990) from New York, Shinobi Stalin brought that Hip-Hop golden age ethos with him. From the time he touched down, he honed his skills and years later (2009) he dropped his rookie release “Zombie Skool.”  That LP was without a doubt a classic release not only because of the skills that were brought to the table but the maturity that was displayed as well. “Zombie Skool” was easily one of, if not, thee best album of ‘09 hands down. The hardest thing for an artist to do though is to follow up a classic release with another gem. Although it took 4-5 years to create, “Invisible Man” was definitely worth the wait!


And from the moment the soulful opening of “Application” blasts through your speakers, it’s clear that Shinobi is on a mission with his sophomore release “Invisible Man.” The title is as fitting as it is grandiose because Shinobi Stalin is as honest as a rapper can be plus, he’s as likely to give a self-conscious commentary on his own actions as he is to declare how dope he is artistically. “Invisible Man” flows beautifully from one track to the next, infusing old-school rhythm, soul and a euphony of sounds with a modern Hip-Hop essence that makes it incredibly unique. For all intents and purposes, Stalin and his production cohorts give a flawless performance. There’s not a wasted moment, a weak beat or verse here. The variety between deliveries, tempos, and themes keeps everything fresh.

To state the obvious, we all have problems that we deal with in life. On an everyday basis, we could deal with things like bills being paid, putting food on the table, roof over ones head to relationship issues with those that are close to us. Along with that, are what I deem to be unnecessary stresses like haters and those attempting to throw monkey wrenches in our lives or individuals that we put our faith in whom in turn wind-up being backstabbers. You couple that with the issues going on globally, and your plate tends to overflow. Thematically, the range here is amazing and Shinobi Stalin has the same convictions with the braggadocio style of “Granite” (where him and Roc Marciano kill it) and the posse joint “N.I.K.E.” which are 2 of the catchiest songs of the album, as he does tackling the personal issues. He approaches EVERY track enlightened without being too preachy.


There are too many bangers to name but the tracks you must pay attention to are “Control” where the samples combined with the lyrics are meant to awaken those as to what’s going on globally. It’s a must that you really listen to that track and the next track “His-Story” as they contain deeper meanings once you scratch the surface. Next track I sympathize with is “Nigger Rican”. “NR” touches on dealing with racism from your own kind. I have felt that type of pain before of not being accepted and trying unsuccessfully to explain that I know my history; the fact that African blood pumps through my veins and my peoples as well. It’s extremely hard to fit in when your peers are ignorant to reality and don’t do their math. Another track that hits home is Stalin’s homage to his brother who was a major influence in his life and artistic career. The track is called “Brother’s Influence” and features his brother Mike Rosa.


What I love about this album is that it’s real. Not the Hip-Hop version of “I’m REAL!” but real in the sense of an individual leaving personal pieces of himself for those to judge. Shinobi doesn’t have to expose himself in that way. He could easily follow the trends and ignore his true expression and to me that takes courage. That’s his way of really challenging the industry and throwing up the proverbial middle finger to all the sellouts. With “Invisible Man” you will absorb mad energy from the songs, each one touching on subjects that will include your braggadocios, self-reflection and introspective lyrics with inklings of messages that contain historical value and knowledge.

The production is awesome and handled by the likes of Reeplay, Abbott, Tempermental, Robot Oxford, Soy Is Real and Stalin himself (“Defly Fly).” Vocal appearances were made by J-Biz who I’ve always felt is the re-incarnation of Rakim Allah (dude is mad smooth on the mic) and Kap Kallous with the Vets of KIN make an appearance on aforementioned N.I.K.E. (so nice, I mentioned it twice). The cuts were done primarily by DJ STRANGER (Jon Silba who also did the sick artwork for the album) and DJ YNOT. Look on the surface, and you’ve got an album full of memorable songs, hooks that lodge in your mind… but look in depth, and it’s quality from the top down.  Support Shinobi Stalin by purchasing the “Invisible Man” LP ‘cause it’s worth every penny!!!

 Bless C73

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The awesome rootsy “Workin’ Woman Blues” is a reminder that there are still new stars to discover.

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Sol.Illaquists of Sound- THE 4TH WALL (Part 1 & 2) Self Released

For those who might not know who this super group is, Sol.Illaquists of Sound a.k.a Solilla a.k.a. S.O.S. are a Orlando based band that consists of 4 members that include Asaan Brooks/Swamburger (Vocalist), Alexandrah Sarton (Vocalist), Tonya Combs (Vocalist) and Glen Valencia/DiViNCi on production (the 4 members draw similarities to the 4 Elements/Pillars of Hip Hop). Their journey as a group began in 2002 with their rookie release “4 Student Consol (Running from Precedence) and began the trilogy with the release “As If We Existed” which was then followed by “No More Heroes”. With each subsequent release and their consistent touring globally, they’ve built a strong and much deserved following. They recently released “The 4th Wall (parts 1 & 2) which is the last release in their “Listener’s Trilogy” saga. In order to follow this adventure, you definitely have to get the whole collection. I must note that this project was not released on any label and was created to allow S.O.S. to connect to their fans and allow those fans to assist financially in “The 4th Wall’s” completion.


My style as a freelance journalist may seem awkward to some because I never give away too many details of a release. I do that because, I fear that if I do go into too much detail, and break the whole album/release down, there will be many who will claim “Yeah, I heard that before” and not give that artist(s) a chance. My goal is to avoid that scenario and pique ones interest enough for said artist(s) to be given a chance to showcase their skills without preconceived notions. Solilla deserve at least that…a chance.
Since “the 4th Wall” is a double LP, there’s a lot to digest in the form of obvious in your face messages and some “read between the lines” wordplay riddled throughout. They storm right out the gate (in Part 1) with their first track titled “Thicker Than Blood”. DiViNCi’s boom-bap production is impeccable as always and is followed by great performances by the rest of the group. Swamburger’s flawless lyricism shows why in my opinion he’s such an unappreciated emcee, but his lyrics are accentuated by the beautiful vocalizations from both Tonya and Alexandrah. No disrespect, but as talented as Swam is, the other members draw just as much attention and contribute equally to each track (not many groups display this sort of unity).


The next track I want to highlight is “Natural Disaster”. It’s a really high energy and dope track. Makes you wanna run through a F’N wall (excuse my exuberance); this track will get multiple replays for sure. “50/50” is a song about relationships primarily between an individual and their partner. My interpretation is, what you put into a relationship (positive or negative) you get back (the same can be said about any relationship). The beat is beautiful along with the vocalizations. Next is “Snooze Button” which keeps things moving and features sick cuts from the extraordinary DJ SPS…Don’t Sleep!!! Coming with that Blue Grass feel is their ode to “Orlando”. I’ve always felt that S.O.S. have and still champion Central Florida’s ever-emerging music/art scene. This song is a testament to the limitless and talented energy that emanates from the cracks and crevices of the O-Zone. It’s an extremely fun track to vibe or wild out to! “The Witness” is another beautifully orchestrated track. Alexandrah proves she can hold her own with sultry vocals sung in French. Message: You need to really LISTEN! Part 1 comes to an unfortunate end with another moving song called “Suite of a Thousand Thank Yous.”  However, one should be souped to continue this journey on Part 2 where things are taken to astronomical levels.

Part 2 starts where Part 1 left off with the opening interlude (Breaking the Silence) and this message (delivered by Tonya): “ And as other sounds fade, we must begin to realize that the real heroes only die when we stop LISTENING to ourselves”. The interlude then segues to the track “Outcome” which displays the group holding their own, killing the sick prodding beat and making sure that the energy from Part 1 hasn’t yet faded. Bringing that organic tribal sound is “Fate La” which is rooted in the origins of music and sound.  Its elements are electrifying as well as hypnotic and addicting. Music is the weapon of the future!!!  Midwest, Ohio emcee Blueprint (of Greenhouse Effect) makes a cameo appearance (only cameo on this LP) on “Here I Am”. The synergy between both Swamburger and Blueprint lyrically and with Alex trading her vocals skills between them is incredible. What I love is at the end of the track where their playful banter amongst one another is shown and only proves that they don’t take themselves too seriously (only their craft). Could the song “Total Reclaim” be a straight up complaint track? Listen and figure it out for yourself but remain open-minded cause it’s deeper than you expect. The interlude “Angry” is more than just an interlude; it’s unequivocally raw and lyrically heavy for those that like battle-type songs and lyrics.


At this point it’s halfway through Part 2 and I’ve yet to encounter any filler type tracks or any tracks that sound the same or fake or rushed. I’m also thinking about many of the tracks on Part 1 that I want to re-visit. If you’ve gotten this far by now, the message(s) are definitively clear. If the Trilogy can be summed up in one word, it would be the word LISTEN! Not to just HEAR, but to LISTEN, which is a word that’s repetitively and strategically used throughout the trilogy. We have a bad habit (as a human race) of hearing music and not Listening to it. A lot of that is a product of what we’re told to “listen” to and what to consume daily instead of putting our energy into what speaks to us individually. We’re afraid to go against the status quo and “The 4th Wall” vehemently opposes such a notion.
If you don’t really LISTEN to both parts, you’ll miss out on messages such as those of personal reflection, self-preservation, empowerment and maintaining solid relationships. In all, this double LP is supremely dope in so many ways I could write a book on it. It’s definitely a must buy but, don’t just buy the CD’s, buy the WHOLE experience (the whole Trilogy). It’s worth every dollar and second of your time. The double CD comes with ILL artwork and a book that breaks down the Trilogy along with lyrics making it a complete package. There are other products you can order to make your experience even ILLER!!! Please support Sol.Illaquists of Sound by copping the experience at:

If you wanna taste (JUST A TASTE) of what they have to offer head here:


***Shout-outs to those that contributed to this FRESH release and subsequent releases like X:144, Glenn Schick, Beef Wellington, Sean Kantrowitz, Fred Hampton, etc…***

Bless C73

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It bugs me when most people claim that music, specifically Hip Hop, sucks with how vast the Internet is and how easy it is to find something great. There’s NO excuse for this sentiment when music is so readily available, and we can find something that speaks to us individually. However, we still expect  perfect artist(s) to fall from the sky onto our laps, rather than putting in a little work to find something exceptional. We turn on the radio and blindly accept the lowest common denominator sound that we’re programmed to listen to. Case in point, Yugen Blakrok, a South African Hip Hop artist, just dropped her 1st release (“Return of the Astro-Goth”), and yet most people will miss out on this gifted talent because she either doesn’t fit the status quo or is perceived as not easily accessible. But if you read the review I dropped in late 2013 ( or read this interview, you the reader, have the chance to change this and tell others. There are no definitives when talking about art, but the culture can always change for the best if the energy is applied. Jah Bless to Yugen for allowing Insomniac Magazine to pick her brain:


 C73 : Your LP was incredible. What I love most was vibe and atmosphere of the album. It took me away to another (pleasant) place mentally, which is very rare nowadays musically. Please explain the process in creating this sort of vibe.

Yugen : We partnered up to make something that would represent where we were, mentally, musically, in all senses. While there’d be periods of
isolation and focus, there’d also be crazy experimental phases during recordings. We collaborated to make the picture bigger, he’d pick
samples specifically for the tracks. I’d come through with verbal images, he’d set the audio scene. We’d keep what worked; explore the more
challenging concepts and just jam. [click to continue…]

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