Local journalist and acclaimed hip-hop scribe Andrew Martin has corralled a flavorful roster of Rhody-based rap talent on the Ocean State Sampler, 10 exclusive tracks available for free download through PotholesInMyBlog.com, where Martin is a regular contributor. The Ocean State Sampler is an outstanding representation of our sorely-overlooked hip-hop community, teeming with exclusive/unreleased bangers courtesy of veteran wordsmiths like Chachi, Jon Hope, and Reason, along with a pair of instrumental jams from acclaimed beatmakers Falside and Joe Beats.
A Warwick native and URI grad, Martin caught the music journalism bug early on while cranking out reviews on various message boards and online forums, including PopMatters, Last.FM, and renowned rap site OkayPlayer, when fellow board members from New Jersey contacted Martin about helping them start a new site. Potholes In My Blog was created and quickly developed a following as a go-to source for all things hip-hop. Martin now resides in Hope Valley and is working as a beat reporter for The Chariho Times; he recently landed a roster spot with music news site Prefix magazine.
"I fell in love with hip-hop when I heard Digital Underground's 'The Humpty Dance,' " Martin recalled. "I was around five years old and had no idea what the song was actually about, but I was hooked." Ten-year age difference aside, we agreed on two of our top-5 all-time rappers in Ghostface and Kool G Rap (the Roots' Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, and Mos Def rounded out his list), and we concurred about Li'l Rhody's rap presence on the come-up. "Rhode Island obviously doesn't have the so-called 'legitimacy' of New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago, but I think we're slowly but surely getting more attention," Martin said, "especially with guys like Theo Martins and Jon Hope getting tons of love on the blogosphere.
"I think it's very interesting to see how hip-hop has developed here. I mean, you have guys like Hope and Theo who make stuff I would associate with the Midwest or even LA. But then there's Reason, Dirty Hank, and Falside, who have more of a Boston or NYC style."
Ocean State Sampler kicks off with Jon Hope's "Real Talk Pt. 2," further proof that this dude deserves your attention, lobbing bars like "I never had a better feelin'/I was touched by God/I'm still sick but I write with a pen-icillin," and taking out rappers who are "faker than a weave on a mannequin." Centerdale-based wordsmith Symmetry (who recently released a debut full-length with Seattle producer Ryan Lewis) takes flight on "Airplane," Dirty Hank channels Redman and Ol' Dirty on "Beatrix Kiddo," and Poorly Drawn People's Reason gets funky as usual with "Paid Bills." Diversity reigns supreme on Ocean State Sampler (satisfying backpackers and street-corner lobbyists), from up-and-coming lyricist Zumo Kollie to rap vet Jahpan, who comes out swinging with his Fedd Hill crew on "Take Me Home." Joe Beats and Falside deliver head-bobbing instrumentals. And my man Charles "Chachi" Carvalho does it again with "One for Chach." Dude consistently kills the mic while rocking his trademark Cheshire cat smile, dropping buttery quips like "I'm old-school like a pager, homey — analog, a hundred songs in the catalog."