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Ruslan is really pushing it right now in terms of work ethic, he’s grinding like never before. He released 'The Freequel' then went on to release 'Scratching the Surface' with his crew Gallery Drive, and here we are with 'Right Out Loud (The Prequel)'. The 9-track EP features original production from DJ Rek, Sean P, Exile and much more, with guest rhymes from Braille, BlameOne, etc.

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When hip hop was first being created by DJ Kool Herc and his contemporaries in the 70s, New York was the place to be. As time has gone on, obviously, hip hop has migrated to various localities around the nation. Since the 80s, Philadelphia has produced some major names, both in terms of commercial hip hop and the underground. Everyone from Will Smith to Eve, Roots to Jedi Mind Tricks has called The Illadelph their home base. Continuing in that city's varied tradition is Japhia Life, with his new album, Nazareth. If you’ve never listened to Japhia Life, then get ready to hear stories of real life filtered through imaginative lyrics and beats that just might make your head nod.

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Over the past decade, in addition to his work on projects like Acts 29 and Light Headed, Braille has amassed quite the solo discography, constantly improving and refining his already promising writing and delivery. From his debut, Lifefirst: Half the Battle, to last year's Cloud Nineteen, those who have cared to have been able to witness the evolution of a great emcee. He's not a great "Christian" emcee. He's not a great "backpacker" emcee. He is a great emcee. If you're one of those who have been paying attention, and you know how great Braille is, you're still not ready for this album.

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No Ordinary Love might not excel in lyricism, but it makes up for this with innovative music, heart, and well placed guest appearances. Rawsrvnt (pronounced: Raw Servant) may be an average emcee but he is an incredible artist. The songs on this album have so many instrumental and vocal parts that you might forget you are listening to a hip hop artist. There are no simple loop based beats here, instead you find very complex, well thought out music, complete with electric guitars and background vocals. These elements are all used greatly and go a long way in making up for the average rhymes.

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116 Clique is a mainstay and one of the clear leaders in Christian Hip Hop. They have blazed trails with their curriculum and amazed with their focus on ministry and being in the mission field. There has been a great divide between those who are with Reach, Lampmode and Cross Movement Records and everyone else. This was mostly done by fans and not the artists themselves. However, at times I started to wonder if Reach artists were being elitist. Then I started seeing these artists building with others outside of their camps. I started seeing relationships being built publicly on Twitter. I probably should not have assumed anything.

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For years, Manafest has straddled the line between rock and rap, drawing comparisons to such groups as Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, KJ-52’s Peace of Mind project and even Eminem. With the release of The Chase, it seems like the artist has finally become comfortable in his own skin, categorizing his project as “rock” rather than “rap.” And I’d say he’s somewhere on the spectrum between Linkin and Limp…kinda like Fort Minor. This may disappoint some of his longtime fans, but it will more than likely gain him far more fans than he will lose.

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LISTENING SESSION


Devin Turner - Now or Never - In Stores Tomorrow


Shanell - By Design - Free Download


Ash M - Enlightenment the Album - Buy on iTunes

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