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A hearty welcome back from all of us here at Audio Addict! We spent a lot of the Christmas holidays decompressing from all the excitement of Issue 21 – still available to read here, by the way- but now we’re back and ready for another stellar year of musical musings. To kick 2015 off, here’s a special, all-rap edition of Hey, Listen! featuring some of the week’s most exciting hip-hop cuts.

ACTION BRONSON – ‘ACTIN CRAZY’

By anybody’s standards, following up a track as dynamic and tantalising as ‘Easy Rider’ – the first enigmatic single lifted from Action Bronson‘s major label debut Mr. Wonderful – seems a mountainous task. Whilst ‘Actin Crazy’ might not pack the meaty punch that its predecessor did, it succeeds in serving up a more subtle taste of enjoyment and fuck, it’s delicious. Surprisingly enlisting Drake‘s right hand man Noah ’40’ Shebib to handle production duties, Bronson snaps squarely between being braggadocios and courteous over a smooth and steady beat. As the man states himself, “opportunity be knockin’” – and we’ll all be damned if 2015 doesn’t end up being the year of the Bronson.

HEEMS – ‘SOMETIMES’

The official announcement of Heems‘ debut album Eat, Pray, Thug this week arriving on March 10th – was a bittersweet one, considering that the project is likely to be his last as he hangs up the mic to pursue a career in advertising tech. The album’s first offering ‘Sometimes’ might be somewhat surprisingly a little more bombastic in comparison to his previous work, but lyrically it ascertains that he hasn’t lost any of his prowess – with bars like “sometimes I’m pacifist, sometimes I pass a fist” showcasing his ingenious wordplay alongside offering a succinct passage into the duality of his mindset. It’s hard to suppress the thought that in the grand scheme of hip-hop, Heems’ work might go under-appreciated – but for those that cherish enthralling rap styles and forward-thinking lyricism, his legacy will undoubtedly live on far beyond his departure from the field.

ROME FORTUNE X OG MACO – ‘SEX’

When two of the most ambitious and creatively thinking rappers to emerge from last year’s join forces for a collaborative record, it’s difficult to imagine that the result could be anything but extraordinary – and that’s exactly what Rome Fortune and OG Maco‘s ‘Yep’ project proves to be, bringing out the best in both rappers over intriguing production styles. As one of the EP’s smoother (and humourous) cuts, ‘Sex’ is full of lyrical surprises, with Fortune miraculously managing to describe the act of intercourse via vivid Mortal Kombat references. For those only accustom to Maco’s aggression-fuelled ‘U Guessed It’ flow, his verse on ‘Sex’ should be quite the eye opener, too – with the Atlanta-based rapper cooly spouting sex lingo alongside an unexpected but undoubtedly witty R. Kelly interpolation.

ANTWON – ‘KYOCERA’

With similarly well-documented adorations for hardcore and punk music, it’s no surprise that LA rapper Antwon and producer/rapper aficionado Cities Aviv have a tendency to exceed when they musically intertwine. On ‘Kyocera’, Antwon’s rugged, almost frat boy rap-like delivery is complimented by Aviv’s grandiose production, with warm, bouncy synths and booming snares colliding together to create an animalistic sense of swagger. More hard-hitting and energetic than ‘1 Million Limos’ and distinctly more refined than ‘RARE2000s’, ‘Kyocera’ stands as the pairing’s boldest and most impressionable track yet.

ETHEREAL – ‘DO IT ALL’

The various alumni of Awful Records proved to be late key players in Atlanta hip-hop’s re-insurgence and dominance throughout 2014, spearheaded by the group’s founder Father and the success of his inescapable woozy anthem ‘Look At Wrist’. Despite his jungle-laden, largely instrumental project Heat Death 2 surfacing just yesterday via Fact mag, the effortlessly captivating Ethereal had even more to offer – checking all his bases by also dropping the visuals for ‘Do It All’, a laid-back slice of stoner rap wrapped in hellishly hazy production. As a quick aside – it’s worth watching the bizarre, lip-synced video to the end to see a hilariously awkward scene from Dragon Ball Z in which Vegeta confronts Trunks about his dashing pink shirt.

Words by Joshua Pauley @PutUp0rShutUp

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