Although he can't be considered local anymore, Southie slugger SLAINE will be the most anticipated Bostonian this season, with a DVD titled Behind the 8-Ball and his A Brand You Can Trust group banger with House of Pain revival unit LA COKA NOSTRA (Suburban Noize, date TBA). If that's not enough to numb you, consider that homeboy has the lead single — "Alison James" — off Jedi Mind Tricks recluse beat genius STOUPE's debut solo outing, Decalogue (Babygrande, March 31).
Surveying the north and through foreign waters for a moment before drifting west: rumor has it that wicked and weird Canadian eclecticist BUCK 65 is tuning up Bike for Three (Anticon, May 26); meanwhile, Toronto pop savant K-OS is preparing wet aural-gasms for Yes! (EMI, March 31), LADY SOVEREIGN is piecing together Jigsaw (Midget Records, April 14), and I'm running out of witty puns. Glitch-hop heads who enjoy accumulating wicked interesting but virtually unpronounceable discs that will likely never be played more than once might also get amped for Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian from PREFUSE 73 (Warp, April 14).
Moving to the left side: I put my dough on Detroit rapper FINALE. Even with clear home-town influences — and beats from the likes of Black Milk and J Dilla — he's not one of those Midwestern MCs who values sound over substance. The Detroit solo beast rhymes more like Tonedeff and Oktober Zero than Fat Ray or Royce da 5'9" — which may explain why this flow aficionado has been steadily bumping Finale's A Pipe Dream and a Promise (Interdependent Media, May 5).
Although I hardly care for most West Coast fare, there are some artists — Planet Asia, Murs, B-Real, Del, Sick Jacken, and Evidence, for starters — who keep me spun. Since his excellent 2008 disc, Show You the World, Living Legend the GROUCH has joined that club, and I'm anticipating his Say G&E (Legendary Music, April 7) smorgasbord with co-defendant Eligh. And, of course, my favorite Alkaholik, Tash, is back on his own for the first time in nearly a decade with Control Freek (Amalgam Digital, April 27).
Did you think I'd forgotten the East Coast? Never that. I can't tell you much about MOS DEF's soon-to-swing The Ecstatic (Downtown, May 5) — not because I don't want to, but because I just haven't spoken with him since he started getting movie callbacks. But I can tell you that New York's most innovative and increasingly impressive MC, HOMEBOY SANDMAN, is releasing The Good Busy (Expertism Music Group, date TBA), which is slated to pack the best of his recent two lyrically delicious street albums.
I'm not sure what to expect from JADAKISS on The Last Kiss (Def Jam, April 7); it all depends on how many generic chick-on-the-hook club stinkers he allows to leak in. But I am hysterically excited for ex-Arsonist Q-UNIQUE's Between Heaven and Hell (Psycho+Logical, April 7) and RAEKWON's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II (Ice H2O, April 7) — the joints I've heard so far have had me breaking out the Wu-Wear leather.
Rounding out the five boroughs: though I missed TORAE's previous output, Daily Conversation, I will say two things about his Double Barrel project with Canadian ex-pat producer MARCO POLO (Duck Down, May 5). Torae is an MC who is oft-discussed among rap fans who respect skills more than reputations; Marco is without a doubt one of the top underground loop jockeys in the game.
I should also mention — for anyone who's getting bored with the Ill Communication, God Loves Ugly, and Jurassic 5 EP reissues they bought last year for the sweet new packaging and steroidal liner notes — that El-P finally got the rights to redrop his 1997 COMPANY FLOW classic, Funcrusher Plus (Def Jux, May 5). From what I understand, it features select pre-Rawkus demos, and that should be enough to sell any true rap dweeb.
Finally, if you make it through all those beauties without slashing your wrists or overdosing on downers and depression, be sure to jump in the bathtub with the new CAGE opus, Depart from Me (Def Jux, June 30). It'll do the trick.