billy woods & Kenny Segal: Maps

This week sees the arrival of the latest album from billy woods and Kenny Segal, reigniting the fire they first set ablaze back in 2019, with the release of Hiding Places. From the outset it’s apparent that Maps is not Hiding Places 2. woods himself has stated that neither of them wanted to make a part two, they wanted to make something fresh. But you don’t need his word for it as Maps is clearly its own entity, with its own energy that still smacks of a distinctly woods and Segal collaboration. The album is about journeys, both personal and business. New faces and old stomping grounds. The solitude of tour life and the accompaniment of weed (both good and bad). The trip away and the subsequent return home.
As with last year’s offerings from woods, the features are plentiful and all welcome. Quelle Chris, ShrapKnel, Aesop Rock, ELUCID, Samuel T Herring, Danny Brown and Benjamin Booker, all bring just the right sound to the proceedings, while the solo joints are bolstered by their own strengths. They include Segal’s production which is heavily jazz influenced for the most part, with that style perhaps peaking on the free-flowing excellence of Blue Smoke. In contrast to that, the Danny Brown assisted Year Zero, is at the other end of Segal’s scale and sounds like it was made specifically with the Detroit rapper in mind, thanks to a bassline that shook me to my core. Hangman is another track that stood out in terms of its beat and probably the only time on the album that I felt echoes of Hiding Places.
So there is variation on Maps, but never at the expense of cohesion. It all works beautifully and ends with a moving verse from woods that felt particularly poignant for me as a new father. The album is out in full this (Bandcamp) Friday, with pre-orders available now. Maps is streaming in full below.

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Quelle Chris: Memories Vol. 3

Sticking with the theme of unearthed gems, on the other side of the ocean, Quelle Chris just released his latest collection of “rare, limited and unreleased moments”. Covering c. 2004 – 2008, Memories Vol. 3 features 11 tracks from an era of Quelle’s career that was previously unknown to me and it serves as a good indicator of how his sound has evolved in the years that followed. You can listen to the release below, while Bandcamp is the spot for all your download needs.

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Quelle Chris: Alive Aint Always Living (Mello Sessions)

Towards the end of last year, Quelle Chris touched down in Tucson, Arizona, for a special performance as part of Mello Sessions. Among the chosen songs was Alive Ain’t Always Living, which stood out as a highlight for many on his acclaimed Deathfame album, which was released in May last year. Today, Mello Music released footage of Quelle’s live rendition, which you can watch above. And if you’re still yet to hear the album in its entirety, then you can find streams and downloads on the usual platforms.

Quelle Chris & Cavalier: Purple Robes

A superb team up here from long-term friends and collaborators, Quelle Chris and Cavalier, as they gift us with their new EP. Black Cottonwood is produced in its entirety by Quelle Chris, with raps from both him and Cavalier. The EP features back-to-back gems, including Purple Robes, which has recently been given the visual treatment. If you want to hear the rest of the project – which you do – it is available exclusively through Cavalier’s website and will NOT be making any appearances on digital streaming sites, so spend the money and support the artists.

Quelle Chris ft. MoRuf & Pink Siifu: The Sky Is Blue Because The Sunset Is Red

Just one of the many beautiful moments to be found on Quelle Chris’s most recent album, DEATHFAME, which was given life earlier this month. The Sky Is Blue… sees Quelle once again joining forces with Chris Keys, who co-produces the track alongside Knxwledge. He is also joined on the mic by MoRuf and Pink Siifu, who bring even more pleasantries to an already satisfying song. The video was made by Jabari Canada. DEATHFAME is out now via Mello Music Group.

Curly Castro ft. Breeze Brewin: Weapon 13X + LP Stream

Sticking with the Backwoodz camp for a minute, as yesterday marked the release of the highly anticipated solo album from Curly Castro. Following in the footsteps of his Wrecking Crew brethren, PremRock and Zilla Rocca, the ShrapKnel MC pulled out all the stops to make Little Robert Hutton another contender for those album of the year lists. Among the many gems to be found on the album, is the Breeze Brewin assisted, Weapon 13X, which you can watch the video for below. The track is produced by Quelle Chris and the video was made by Duncecap. If you’re yet to experience the rest of the album, you can peruse a few joints below, before heading to Bandcamp to cop your download.

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Open Mike Eagle ft. Armand Hammer: Burner Account

This godsent collaboration just dropped on to the timeline, courtesy of the always refreshing, Open Mike Eagle. Burner Account not only features an unsurprisingly dope back-to-back feature from Armand Hammer, but also some similarly captivating production from Quelle Chris. Now I’m just thinking about a full project from the four of them. A man can dream. In the meantime, make the most of this.

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Mello Music Group: Bushido (Stream)

As reported a few weeks ago, Mello Music Group have put together a compilation featuring a whole bunch of new material from their increasingly dope roster and some equally compelling guests. The album kicks off with a track from Quelle Chris and Alchemist, which should give you some idea of the levels at work here, if you’re not already familiar with Mello’s insanely consistent back catalogue. As we progress we’re treated to new joints from The Lasso and Zackey Force Funk, Cambatta and Apollo Brown, Homeboy Sandman and Eric Lau, as well as three new tracks from Oddisee, including the previously featured No Trouble. You can explore the full array of musical brilliance below and then go check the usual spots for all your streaming/download needs.

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Quelle Chris & Chris Keys ft. Merrill Garbus, Cavalier & Homeboy Sandman: Sacred Safe

A good start to the week as I bring you the latest video from Quelle Chris and Chris Keys. Not only was Innocent Country 2 one of the best releases from this year, but Sacred Safe was also one of my most played tracks of the last 12 months. The track features superb contributions from Cavalier, Homeboy Sandman and Merrill Garbus, as well as a new layer of dope, thanks to the video from Santa West & Quelle. Innocent Country 2 is out now on Mello Music.