Tag Archives: Madlib

The Best New Hip-Hop on Bandcamp

Best New Hip Hop

The year 2016 concluded with an unexpected present for hip-hop heads: Run The Jewels—aka rappers Killer Mike and El-P—decided to drop their third album ahead of schedule on Christmas Eve. True to the duo’s heritage, the 14-track project booms with loud and abrasive electro-funk beats, Killer Mike’s political rhetoric, and El-P’s trademark cynicism. While Run The Jewels 3 might have dominated late-December playlists, here’s a deeper snapshot of 11 other rap releases that are well worth your leftover Christmas cash.

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A New York Blizzard Inspired Jansport J’s Aggressive New Album


Jansport J

As a child growing up in Covina, California (a diverse suburb of Los Angeles), Justin Williams fell in love with the sound of Timbaland’s productions. His use of thumping drums and unusual instrumentation sparked Williams’ imagination. But when he started making his own beats—under the name Jansport J—Williams moved in the opposite direction, leaning toward gritty, eccentric compositions—the kind that have more in common with Madlib, J Dilla, and the Alchemist than Missy Elliott. His sound earned him a solid niche; Williams has become a staple in L.A.’s famed underground beat scene, producing for the likes of Snoop Dogg, Planet Asia, and Dom Kennedy.

Williams’ new album p h a r o a h, named after his distinct facial hair and personal leadership philosophy, first started taking shape in early 2016. The producer was stuck in New York during Winter Storm Jonas, which dumped up to three feet of snow on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern parts of the country. “That was my first time in New York, while a blizzard was happening,” Williams says. “It’s crazy, because we were out there in 10-degree weather, and I’m a California kid. Everyone tried to prepare me, like, ‘You’re not gonna be able to deal with that weather.’ But I loved it.” At 27 tracks, p h a r o a h is a sprawling work, foregoing the cohesion of a regular studio album in favor of giddy stylistic detours and experiments. Nevertheless, the project feels incredibly cohesive, each snippet quickly leading to the next, making for a seamless listen.

We spoke with Williams about the importance of studying his heroes, keeping a consistent work ethic, and what Donuts meant to his class of producers.

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The Encyclopedia of Knxwledge


Knxwledge. Photo by Jake Michaels

Finding a starting place for Knxwledge’s catalog is like stepping into the world’s biggest library when the librarian has the day off. Since the Philadelphia native, born Glen Earl Boothe, dropped his first EP in 2009, the producer has released a whopping 75 projects on Bandcamp, and nearly every one of them has something to offer. His lo-fi blend of hip-hop, soul, and jazz has earned him comparisons to luminaries like Madlib and J Dilla, and his prolific pace has provided him a career’s worth of music in just seven years. And with placements like “Momma,” on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy powerhouse To Pimp A Butterfly, it seems even clearer that his tireless work ethic is paying off.

But that still leaves the question of exactly what to listen to. Our list below is designed to be a field guide to the world of Knxwledge. This guide only tackles his instrumental albums; which means stellar remix albums, like his WrapTaypes series or his remix of selections from rapper Danny Brown’s XXX, or his collaborative release with Anderson .Paak as NxWorries, won’t show up. And be forewarned: we can only cover what’s already been done. There might be even more to listen to by the time this piece is published.

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