Toasting another year of high quality hip-hop

Savor the local flavor
By CHRIS CONTI  |  December 28, 2011

BEAT MECHANICS Falside and Juan Deuce.

We're saluting another dynamic year of real deal Rhody-based rap music — the diverse community of razor-sharp eccentric wordsmiths and young-gun production phenoms worthy of your attention. So let's take a look back at some notable hip-hop artists from the past 12 months.

Sociopolitical lyricist/activist and Strange Famous Records CEO Sage Francis started the year in Durban, South Africa, as part of a program to help HIV-infected orphans receive treatment. Francis and fellow poets offered "praise poems."

"I learned a lot about the world and myself during this trip, and I learned a lot about people, government, and the pharmaceutical companies in general," he told me in March prior to a Strange Famous "office party" show in the basement of the Grant Building. A recent East Coast mini-tour ended with a sold out show at the Met, and a few weeks back he released a new song titled "Film the Police," an Occupy-inspired take on N.W.A's "Fuck Tha Police," along with fellow local rhyme hero B. Dolan and friends. It's fucking brilliant. Francis has a Midwest tour lined up for February (visit for updates). And keep your fingers crossed for another SFR office party in 2012.

Metaphsyics (Meta P, aka Sean Sbardella) released his Back to the Future mixtape followed by Edison's Ink, inspired by his love of slasher movies (check "Dead Man's Party," where Meta fires off a half-dozen horror flick references). Standout cut "Heart Attack" from his debut Off Tha Rock appears, but "RI Reds" is the main attraction, with special guest bars from Swann Notty (!), MPC whizkid 8th Wundah, and Milez Grimez.

Rhyme duo DirtyDurdie just released "Told You So" (with 8th and Milez), following their must-hear '11 mixtape, Rhymanese Diner, where Dirty Ice and Dirty Furbie serve lyrical food for thought on the clever head-bobbers "Steamed Veggies" and "Braised Pig Latin." In the last month, DD have opened for Mos Def and Killarmy's 9th Prince. Nice. Catch them hosting Local 121's Zodiac Party the second Sunday of every month.

Summertime saw the release of The Invisible EP by ESH the Monolith and producer Dox Ellis (longtime reps for Labeless Illtelligence and Poorly Drawn People). ESH is sharp as usual on "Hip Hop Ruined My Outlook" and "Sardo Numpsa" (with guest shots from Intrikit and Labeless co-founder CasUno), while "Soap Scum" and "Bored Games" recently killed at the Invisible 10" vinyl release party at Local 121's Speakeasy (where Dox spins regularly), always a fun spot for packed rap shows. Download this EP right now.

I've been hooked on the mixtapes and "seasonal beat tapes" and mixtapes supplied by Falside "the Beatsmith" over the past two years (Jesus Shaves, Fall, Stand the Fuck Up, and the summer '11 installment Snare Conditioning; cue up the stoner-friendly "Stack of the Boom Bap" and "Real G's Rock Tapes"). The West Greenwich native has busted out in a big way, having provided beats and remixes for the likes of C-Rayz Walz, Jeru the Damaja, and Action Bronson, among many others.

But, the most anticipated release of the season was worth the wait — Juan Deuce & Falside the Beatsmith present The Mechanics, also up for grabs via free download. "Guts," "Hey DJ," and "Mechanics" are untouchable, and a great introduction to this promising pairing.

"The response to the record has been overwhelming," said Fal via email just before deadline. They have begun recording their full-length album, and solo albums are coming soon; next up is Juan's No Sweat mixtape.

"You're going to see a lot more of Juan Deuce and myself in 2012," he said. "We have a lot in store for you."

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  Topics: Music Features , Music, Sage Francis, hip-hop,  More more >
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