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.
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.
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.
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”.
I recently started listening to Three 6 Mafia’s debut album Mystic Stylez which provided an easy to identify cornerstone for the purple smoke steeped hip-hop that has become increasingly popular lately thanks to artists like ASAP Rocky and Spaceghostpurrp. Although he’s yet to receive all the appreciation he deserves, Pope Chris Villa has consistently offered modern takes on the samesound that Three 6 Mafia perfected on that album with tracks that focus on locking into hypnotic grooves while laying out rich stories. ’Mr. Meena’ is Chris Villa’s latest example of why he’s quickly becoming the king of southern rap. Over a gorgeously repetitive self-produced beat, Chris Villa and guest Jon Flo lay out some of their best rhymes yet. It’s something I’ve said before and probably won’t stop saying soon, Chris Villa keeps getting better and will probably keep improving.
Pillage Vatican City is a mixtape that every fan of hip-hop needs to listen to. For better or for worse, the current hip-hop scene is focused heavily on features, crews and image. Chris Villa managed to drop a mixtape with no guest MCs at all, and it doesn’t hurt the quality of the album at all. Although most of the best beats on the mixtape come from Hanz, Villa is a formidable producer himself which is demonstrated nicely in this bonus track ’30 Deep’. ’30 Deep’ has a shuffling electronic beat which is quite different from some of the harder beats that were featured on Pillage Vatican City. His flow is really developed on that song and the result is possibly one of my favorite tracks from Villa yet.
The importance of the producer and beatmaker has been getting a lot more attention in the past few years. The best hip-hop seems to be coming from rappers and producers who work with each other’s styles to create a better product. Some of our favorite hip-hop collaborations include ASAP Rocky and Clams Casino, Vince Staples and Michael Uzowuru, and Chris Villa and Hanz. Hanz and Villa are two artists based out of Augusta, Georgia who have been releasing a steady stream of distinctive and aggressive hip-hop that has the two artists mutually benefiting from the other. Brandon’s talent extends beyond his role as a producer with some great tapes, remixes and other releases as Hanz. I recently got to chat with Brandon about his work as Hanz, his influences and songwriting process. The entire conversation can be read below (left largely unedited as always)…