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Free Music: Elzhi – Elmatic
May 24, 2011


Five months into 2011 and I'm putting Elmatic at the top of my list of favorite albums this year.  Accuse me of being biased and I'll agree.  I do love Detroit hip-hop. But that's not why I love this album. 

We live in the age of fifty free rap albums dropping each day and artists aren't fighting for our dollars anymore but more-so for our ears and time.  There's so much "rap" music out there to download free and legal now, it's getting tough for an average Joe to find good music in this messy joint.   As hip-hop fans, we've become calloused, we deal with barrages of arrogant marketing campaigns ("I'm the best you've ever heard from the BX") and half-witted, lazy blog "reporting" and "media" pushing their homeboys-turned-mc's ( "Oh yeah he's the next Jay-Z" or "Man you gotta hear this album, this dude is the next 2Pac!").  So all of us genuine hip-hop fans tend to be reluctant, guarded and suck our teeth at most artists and their second brother twice removed that claim they rap and have a new album out.   Even when we're surrounded by thousands of hours of free and legal music, some of us won't even take 5 minutes to download an album.

Don't be mad at us fans, we've been conditioned.

Then comes word that Elzhi is prepped to release his new free album Elmatic.  To be honest, when I heard the title of the album, I wasn't just skeptical.  I was worried.  "Oh no, he's going to cover all the tracks from IllMatic and remix them over all the original Nas productions", I thought. The dreaded phrase "cover album" kept popping into my head.   I cringed at the thought of it. "Why would someone of this guys lyrical caliber even do that?"  Now, it goes without saying that Elzhi is one of the most underrated lyricists of our generation.  Like Major said of  The Leftovers UnMixedtape on a previous episode: "Elzhi's leftovers are better than most dudes' full retail albums!" But like I said, we hip-hop fans have been conditioned.  I assumed (as I'm sure others did) he would be covering the Nas classic and thought "Why would you do that?"

Then, as if they read my mind,  his team released a video about a month before the album dropped.  It explained that the Detroit-infamous Will Sessions and his band would be producing and involved in recreating the Illmatic instrumentals with live instruments and their own flavor.  Not too long after, Elzhi dropped the video and single for "Halftime" which erased any doubt in my mind that he was releasing any sort of "cover album".   Glad I kept my thoughts to myself, I'd be looking really stupid right now.

This isn't a cover album.  Not in the least.  It's far bigger than that.

Elzhi ft. Royce da 5'9 and Stokley Williams of Mint Condition - Lifes A Bitch
[audio:http://hoodhype.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/07-Lifes-A-Bitch_Feat.-Royce-da-59-and-Stokley-Williams-of-Mint-Condition-Prod-Will-Sessions.mp3|titles=Elzhi ft. Royce da 5'9 and Stokley Williams of Mint Condition - Lifes A Bitch]

Incredible original lyrics, amazing production and outstanding instrumentation.  Contrary to what Elzhi said his intentions were, I wouldn't say this album is just paying homage to Illmatic.  I'd say it's a truly respectful nod to all of  hip-hop and Detroit classic in its own right.

Download this album and really listen to it.  I'd love to hear your feedback on it.

DOWNLOAD: Elzhi - Elmatic @ ELZHI.com


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