This extended play was released on July 15th this year. This is gonna be my first time listening to a solo DJ Premier project, but I’m really excited. DJ Premier is pretty much the greatest Hip Hop producer of all time to me, and the features here look really intriguing. I never thought I’d see Lil Wayne rapping alongside Slick Rick on a DJ Premier beat. So, the whole idea of this HH50 series is that 10 producers are putting together 5-track extended plays leading up to the 50th anniversary of DJ Kool Herc’s seminal Back to School party, which is widely regarded as the birth of Hip Hop. I don’t know who all the producers involved are, but I know there’s gonna be an R&B one curated by The-Dream. I doubt all of them are gonna be as exciting as this one, but I’m still kind of interested in checking them out. Anyway, I’m actually expecting this project to be the best EP I’ve heard all year. Hopefully it meets my expectations.
The opening track is called Lettin’ Off Steam, and it features Joey Bada$$. Part of me was worried that Joey Bada$$ would have somehow forgotten how to rap since there was a five year gap between his last two albums, but he definitely did his thing here. This track made me more excited than I initially was to check out his latest project. Don’t get me wrong; this song isn’t amazing or anything. I don’t really have any serious gripes with it though. The production is of course really great, and Joey’s rhymes weren’t as elementary and forced as I was expecting them to be for whatever reason.
They be like "chill, B," I be like "fuck that"
Time to let them feel me, don't call it a comeback
Hit 'em with a punchline, call it lyrical combat
When I drop the album that's gon' kill 'em on contact
Ridin' with that compact
.40 on me, homie you might really wanna calm that
Opps get smoked like the bomb pack
Watch me like Comcast, y'all can see the contrast
Niggas put they souls in they motherfuckin' contracts
We ain't even on that, we don't even condone that
Bitch, I had to own that, tell 'em switch up the format
Flow way neater than that Gentleman Cognac
Shots to the head, tell you pussy niggas "hold that"
The first verse is pretty great. I mean, he doesn’t really have anything that interesting to say in terms of content, but he rhymed really well, and his flow was nice. The scratches from DJ Premier in place of the hook are really nice, and the second verse from Joey is even better than the first.
Got you niggas mad shook, scared to death, scared to book
A show in my city, probably get your chain took
'Cause them Brooklyn niggas really ain't nothin' to fuck with
Blow your brains in broad day, right out in public
So speak on the God and it better be in high regard
'Cause word get around and them bullets travel really far
I got hitters on my squad who ready to take a charge
Keep it on deck for any nigga tryna pull my card
The song is really dope. I have no issues with it at all. The following track is even better though. It’s called Remy Rap, and it features Remy Ma & Rapsody.
I’m personally not really that familiar with Remy Ma as an artist, but she absolutely killed this track. Her flow and vocal delivery were superb, and I love how hostile she comes off towards other MCs.
Y'all be on some "she hit me, so I'ma hit her back"
I be on some "she hit me, so now she gettin' clapped"
Birds of a feather flock together, y'all be in a pack
And'll do anything for the cheese, yeah, you been a rat
I rap when I wanna, I stopped to have my daughter
Was fly in PJs while y'all was wearing pajamas
And I'm signed to myself, so they can't jerk her
Done caught more suits and cases than a TSA worker
She has a really powerful vocal delivery, which I appreciate. This heavy, funky production from DJ Premier was the perfect backdrop for her too. Rapsody rapped really well too, but honestly Remy Ma stole the show for me before Rapsody even had a chance to do anything. The song is fire overall, and definitely a highlight on this project for me. It’s dope as hell. The following track is entitled Beat Breaks, and it features Nas. It’s fucking great. It didn’t really stand out that much to me on my first listen, but it grows on me more and more every time I hear it. Nas’ flow and vocal delivery are some of his greatest strengths in my opinion, and this song just exemplifies that. He sounds fantastic here.
Remember Nas like a father to the fatherless
We take the pain, smile, and mix it with street knowledge and
Hop the turnstile back when I was a problem in
Avia high tops, I should've been modelin'
They sayin' I'm cryin' victim just 'cause I'm spittin' lines and get me some ends
Two 1200s, a mixer, plug my mic in
Holdin' my mics like I'm huggin' lightnin', the concrete breaks
Get slapped by the soundwaves from the early days
Feel it in your vertebrae, go DJ
Both of the verses are really well-written, and the production from DJ Premier is pretty nice too. This isn’t really a highlight for me on the project, but it’s hard to really think of it as a low point. It’s a really dope track. The penultimate song is called Terrible 2’s, and it features Run the Jewels. The opening verse from Killer Mike is fire. His vocal delivery was on point here. I saw some people in my Discord server saying that El-P could’ve done a better job on this track, so I was expecting his performance to be kind of mediocre, but that wasn’t the case at all. I personally think he had the better verse. His flow was masterful and smooth as hell. Both of the verses are fantastic. I like how DJ Premier included the sample of Drake saying “Boy, I ain’t nothin’ to play with” from Forever too. This is definitely another one of the best songs on the project to me. I think it’s dope as hell. However, the closing track on this project, The Root of All, is definitely the best song in my opinion. I don’t think this collaboration could have gone any better. It just feels like a really special moment. The production is really pretty, and it fits Slick Rick’s voice perfectly. His verse is fantastic.
Control money, don't let it show money
Soul money, never let it go from me, cold, homie
Suede, linen, ain't decay, pray when I'm A in 'em
Stay with him, told to play ageism
"Variety makes good society," I said this, respect, kid
Excessive makes me question my ethics
Though cash has no moral comp', showin' some flow is don
Know it's wrong, throw it from, showin' some, home, sweet home
His flow was really nice. Lil Wayne fucking slaughtered his verse on this track though. That might be my favorite verse on the whole project honestly. His vocal delivery, flow, and rhymes were all phenomenal. He sounds really goddamn great here. The song would’ve been cool as a solo track from Slick Rick, but the verse from Lil Wayne really pushes it to the next level. I think it’s one of the best songs of the year honestly. It’s dope af.
This EP is dope as hell. Not only is it the best extended play I’ve heard all year, but it’s also one of the best overall projects I’ve heard in 2022. This is five tracks of fire. It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted. I really don’t have any consistent gripes with it. I mean, are these the best beats I’ve ever heard from DJ Premier? No, not even close. However, the average DJ Premier beat is miles ahead of the competition, so it’s still a really well-produced project. With that said, I don’t really feel like the production is the selling point of this project. The superb rapping is what makes it special in my opinion. All of the features really came through with great performances. It didn’t feel like they half-assed it at all. I like the sequencing of this project a lot too. The stellar Lil Wayne verse was a great finale. This shit is fire. Again, it’s one of the best projects I’ve heard all year. I think it’s really great.