Good Lord, have you seen Dame Dash's new show on BET, Ultimate Hustler? Basically his mashup of Making the Band and The Apprentice, the show takes a saucy buncha slick-talking... uh, hustlers, and tries to mold them into future moguls like him. Though it's most definitely a cheesy reality-show cash-in for Mr. Pop Tags, the program entertains so far; watching him mercilessly clown these bums and hearing them sell wolf tickets nonstop was definitely worth leaving the bar early for. Dame is hilarious, but can't duke come up with a better catchphrase than "life is a dash"?
There're a few cats hustling their CDs here in town as well—for starters, you can holler at ya mans Bishop I to cop the new Boiler Room Mixtape Vol. 1, which is packed fulla cuts from Bishop, his group Dim Mak, Bad Luk, Rees, and Avatar. Less a mix tape than a compilation from the Cap Hill studio known as—you guessed it—the Boiler Room, Vol. 1 is deep with cuts, particularly the solo Bishop jawns like "Pay O.D." and the Cat Stevens-jacking "Then & Now." If you see Alpha P MC Asun around the way, you can check him for Project Mayhem's Foot Traffic mix tape. Project Mayhem is a hiphop collective that consists of, among others, Alpha P, Mind Movers, and up-and-coming turntablist crew the Elefaders. Without a tracklist, it can be hard to tell everybody apart, but there are some great moments to be found here nonetheless. I also recently received the new CD from local rhymeslanger Grynch, entitled This Is What I Do. I found this a surprisingly fresh effort, as the young MC proves he's quite the beast on the mic, and as adept with the hot bars as he is with self-reflection—such as on "Fly Away," which features a surprisingly introspective verse from DPGC expat Bad Azz. Keep your eyes on this one, there's no mistaking the distinct sound of hunger.
If you're among the more adventurous hiphop listeners, then have I got one for you—Somaphone 2 by Seattle native (and NYC resident) proGrammar. On it, Grammar sings and beatboxes bugged takes on classics like Stevie Wonder's "Hey Love" and Hall & Oates's "I Can't Go For That"—and goddammit, it works. Grammar's web site www.programmar.net is full to bursting with his quirky, self-produced tunes, all downloadable for free, with the exception of the aforementioned LP.
Lastly, I gotta give some overdue love to Hell's Winter, the new LP from NYC's mealy-mouthed monster Cage... for years, he's painted himself as little more than a demonic, dust-smoking mental patient—but on his Def Jux debut, he lets us in on his personal demons, including his heroin-abusing father and his own self-destructive habits. Getting a glimpse into Cage's closet is more than a li'l harrowing but through his self-examination he comes up with what is undeniably his best work—and another great Def Jux platter. I hope his tatted-up shitbag constituency won't mind that he's off the sherm.