The Up-Turn Presents: Mapping Hip-Hop

When I received an open-ended final assignment for my writing class this past semester I pretty much knew what I wanted to do right away.  The class was about being a writing tutor and how to teach people how to write so I decided to interview some of my favorite under-appreciated writers and lyricists about their writing process.  Although I’m not going to try and make claims about connections between rappers based on their influences, hometowns or styles I hope that the mapping serves as an illustration of just how amazing the world of hip-hop is right now.  Hit the jump to read my quick interviews with Chef the Chef, Sidewalk Kal, uhlife, B L A C K K R A Y, Hanz, Chris Villa, NicX, and Tay Devenny.

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mp3: Chris Villa – Deaf Check 3 (prod. Hanz)

Considering his more experimental turn in music making recently, I was unsure of whether Hanz would return to making the amazing hip-hop beats that Chris Villa struts over so well.  It’s been a while, but the pope and Hanz are back working together and the result is the mature and fine tuned “Deaf Check 3″.  While “Deaf Check 3″ is easily one of the most precisely orchestrated hip-hop beats Hanz has put together, it is anything but restrained.  Instead, we find a calm, cool and collected Chris Villa threatening cops and riding through his city with the kind of laid back perspective of an elder statesman of hip-hop.  It’s amazing hearing Chris Villa sound so confident and comfortable over the abstract beat and it only has me more excited than ever for the return of Hanz and Chris Villa working together.

-PK

LP: Chris Villa – 7 Headed Dragon: Sounds of Destruction

This tape was dropped a few months ago, but somehow I never got word of it until later, and I figure that now is as good of a time as ever to post it so here you go.  In spring of 2012, Chris dropped his debut tape Pillage Vatican City which despite being an amazing debut, was slept on by almost every respectable rap-listener for no good reason at all.  7 Headed Dragon is his followup to that tape, and his aesthetic seems to have only gotten darker since then.  This time around, Chris uses less beats from one of our favorite producers, Hanz, and more of his own early Triple 6 Mafia-influenced beats and it works just as well.  Chris laces his stark and mysterious sounding beats with lots of lyrics driven by spite and political sentiments, and vividly brings you into his own collapsing world.  Stream two of my favorite tracks below, and the whole thing after the jump.

-TC

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mp3: Chris Villa – Mind St8 II (prod. Hanz)

It’s been far too long since Georgia masterminds Chris Villa and Hanz have teamed up but the two haven’t been wasting much time either.  Villa and Hanz have been refining their sound over this past year and the confidence and maturity shines through on “Mind St8 II” which I’m assuming is a spiritual sequel to “My Muthafuckin Mind State”. While Villa’s flows and delivery have always been steeped in a reverence for southern legends such as Three 6 Mafia, “Mind St8 II” finds Villa retaining those influences while also sounding comfortable in his own shoes.  The beat is standard fair for Hanz and by that I mean utterly disturbed and unlike anything other producers are doing right now.  If “Mind St8 II” Villa and Hanz hardly break a sweat I’m excited to hear more Pope x Hanz in the future.

-PK

mp3: Jon Flo – The Lord of the Flies (prod. Hanz)

While electronic producers making a dubsidized version of trap (bro-trap?) is starting to take over the mainstream we can thank artist like Jon Flo and Hanz for reminding us what southern rap and trap is all about.  Like fellow Georgia rapper Chris Villa, we’ve been following the career of Jon Flo for a while now as he’s improved his take on Three 6 Mafia inspired southern rap with an emphasis on hypnotic rhythms and rhymes.  While Jon Flo hasn’t made huge leaps of improvement like Chris Villa has been doing lately, “The Lord of Flies” is one of his most realized songs to date.  With the help of a creeping and minimal beat from Hanz, Jon Flo dominates the track with plenty of flow switches and chant worthy hooks.  Also be on the lookout for Hanz’s upcoming tape A Made Bear at Peace which is set to drop tomorrow.

-PK

mp3: Chris Villa – RIOT (Prod. Hanz)

If you listened to Hanz’s excellent beat tape WEALTH MADE TENSION VOL. 2, you might recognize this song from it (it was one of the highlights of the tape for me), and now it has been officially released.  Once again, Chris Villa and Hanz’s styles merge near-perfectly.  Villa puts down another deviously simple hook and a couple of his increasingly vicious verses while Hanz provides a backdrop that packs in all of the chaos of a real riot with drums that sound like exploding tear gas grenades and unconventionally twisted samples. Although the duo have remained relatively unrecognized for how great the music they have been making is, I don’t think there’s any question that they are pushing the rap genre in a completely new and different direction than any other artists are right now, and doing it extremely well.

-TC

Hanz – WEALTH MADE TENSION VOL. 2

If you haven’t noticed yet, Peter and I are huge fans of Augusta, Georgia beatsmith Hanz.  Aside from being extremely talented, Hanz has always impressed us with his complete lack of hesitation to push beat making way outside of its comfort zone.  When I say that Hanz is an experimental beat maker, I don’t mean that he is just another guy on the internet putting out tracks that are his best Madlib impressions, I mean that Hanz is completely unpredictable and impossible to pin as being influenced by any beatmaker I know of, while at the same time maintaining a style of incredibly textured beats that sounds distinctly his own.  Wealth Made Tension Vol. 2 is his greatest display yet in my opinion.  The mix jumps from style to style and rhythm to rhythm with close to no warning other than a sample of a woman saying “Turn the page”.  Among all the fantastic remixes and instrumentals included in the mix is a gift in the form of a brand new collaboration titled “Riot” with Hanz’s partner in crime, Chris Villa, who has been improving at a staggering rate over the past few months.  Hanz provides another masterfully crafted beat for “Riot”, and Chris Villa continues his streak of murderous flows and deviant-inducing hooks.  Stream the whole mix below, and jump to 22:30 to listen to “Riot”.

-TC