A follower of Hip Hop music, art and design since the late 80?s, award winning design studio April77 Creative‘s director Ben Funnell has produced artwork for a who’s who of Australian Hip Hop. From Stealth Magazine, to logo and album designs for Hilltop Hoods, Pegz, Dialectrix, Vents, The Funkoars, Spit Syndicate, MANTRA, Thundamentals, EMCEE KERSER, Briggs and many more. Check outwww.april77.com
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“I couldn’t decide if I should go all throw-backs or all new joints for this, so I’ve decided to do 5 relatively new tracks by current artists I’m a big fan of, and 5 of my personal favourite tracks dating back to the early 90s”- Ben Funnell
01. Joey Badass– Christ Conscious
I’ve been following Joey since his first mixtape ‘1999’ and he keeps progressing with his delivery and flow. His beat choices stay on point and I’m really looking forward to his official debut LP which drops in January. “Christ Conscious” is the second single off the LP and has a great video. First single “Big Dusty” is also well worth checking for.
02. Melanin 9 aka M9– Amulets
UK rapper and member of Triple Darkness, M9 dropped this killer 12” on Blunted Astronaut Records this year. 12” singles seem fairly rare these days but since this track doesn’t appear on any of his album releases it was well worth the purchase.
03. Timeless Truth– Wavelength
This video features a cameo from one of my all time favourite producers Large Professor, who also produced this track from Timeless Truth’s forthcoming album “Cold Wave”.
04. Mick Jenkins– Dehydration
Incredibly powerful video for this standout track from Mick Jenkins’ mixtape “The Water[s]”. One of the newer artists I’m a huge fan of right now.
05. Killer Mike– Reagan
I was going to include a new Run The Jewelz video here as I’m a huge fan of both RTJ records, but due to the current social/political climate in the US I decided this Killer Mike track was appropriate. This has an awesome animated video which really enhances the message in the lyrics.
06. Eric B. & Rakim– Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em
I had been into Hip Hop for a couple of years before Rakim’s 3rd album “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em” dropped in 1990, and I was already a big fan of his earlier work. When I was 13 years old rapping along to this album I felt like I was Rakim and nobody could f#@k with me. 24 years later I play this album and its the same thing. I ordered the cassette at my local record shop having only seen/heard the title track on Rage, and I can still remember the afternoon I picked up the album, ripped off the plastic and played it the whole way through on my walkman as I walked home. Every track was flawless – and the feeling of hearing an already revered artist lift his game even further above the competition as well as his own previous work was the ultimate G-up. Its a feeling I’ve been chasing ever since and why I continue to buy new music to this day.
07. Black Sheep- Flavor of the Month
Another one I first saw/heard on Rage back in 1991 and I remember copping the cassingle for this track with “Butt, In The Meantime” on the B-side. Was the perfect lead up to the “Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” album which is still one of my all-time favourite rap records.
08. Lord Finesse– Hip 2 Da Game
From the 1995 album “The Awakening” – Finesse has one of the best voices and flows in the business, and this is probably my favourite song of his. “You can’t mess with the rap lord, that’s like saying you can dunk when you can’t touch the backboard”.
09. Heltah Skeltah ft. O.G.C.– Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka
I’m a huge fan of the entire Boot Camp Clik, especially the debut albums from each group. This killer track is from Heltah Skeltah’s 1996 album “Nocturnal”. At the time this was so grimy and raw – a perfect contrast to a lot of the jiggy ’shiny suit era’ stuff going on at the time.
10. De La Soul– Stakes is High
I remember copping the “Stakes Is High” album and Nas’ 2nd LP “It Was Written” on the same trip into the city when they dropped back in 1996. Both incredible albums in their own right, with Nas’s record representing a shift towards his mafioso persona as he was experiencing huge success and financial gains, and De La Soul maintaining their down to earth, relatable everyman stance. Pos and Dave deliver some of the most poignant verses I’ve ever heard on this track. Easily one of my favourite rap songs of all time.
11. Public Enemy– Brother Gonna Work it Out
Again, due to the situation surrounding the not guilty verdict in Ferguson, Missouri Ive included this incredible track and video from PE’s 1990 album “Fear Of A Black Planet”. The video also features a portion of the “Contract on the World Love Jam” intro – probably the best intro to an album ever.