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Published on April 24th, 2012 | by Corina Corina

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Review | Hired Gun – The Hits And Pieces EP

I met Hired Gun a few years ago and quickly learned that he’s been a staple on the freestyle circuit and the New York rap scene for years. HG is a dynamic performer and a huge champion of the underground scene. Hailing from New Jersey and based in Brooklyn, the hip hop educator and lyricist has released several albums both as a solo artist and with his group, Third Party alongside Rabbi Darkside and Farbeon. He founded Fresh Roots Music and has toured the globe extensively from Europe to South America and Africa. His first album, The People’s Verses was released the same year to critical acclaim. It was recognized by multiple taste makers with various cuts and music videos from the album getting exposure and being selected for year end awards. In 2010 he and Rabbi Darkside gathered international artists from France and Brazil and released another critically acclaimed project, Skillz to Take Brazil.

Hired Gun’s latest project the Hits and Pieces EP is a collection of lost tracks compiled during and after the creation of The People’s Verses. Each EP will feature a different producer who worked on debut record. The first in the series features Ice Nine, the producer of Dan Freeman.  ”Hits” captures the mood and energy in between The People’s Verses and the upcoming project, NiceGuysFinish. For the mixing and mastering, HG called on Nasa, owner of Uncommon Records & Nasa Labs. Nasa’s resume is thorough, having worked on projects with some of hip hops greatest heroes including Aesop Rock, Mr Lif, and El-P. Of the record, Nasa says “It’s some underground hip-hop for the b-boy mind, it really covers a lot of aspects behind being a rapper from Hired Gun’s perspective.”

All six tracks on the record stand alone, capturing their individual moods and subject matter while remaining cohesive as a collection. Ice Nine’s production shines the brightest on the head nodders, Swing Set and The Pressure. Nasa and I agreed that the beastly bass synth line on The Pressure is a standout. “(It) knocks, I made sure to have that rip apart speaker cones.” he says. His other favorite track, Human Story,’’ gives a nod to The World is Yours from NaS’ classic, Illmatic. The beat feels nostalgic and emotive which is the perfect canvas for the “live your worth” theme of the song.

The most heartfelt track, Real Love takes the listener on a musical journey. The jazzy intro with its edgy piano stutter sets the tone of the second person, each verse contains its own story of love lost. Hired Gun ties it all togetehr with a subtly catchy hook.

The EP then shifts gears entirely and throws in a party joint. With a middle eastern flavored sample, The Temptress, introduces guest two guest spitters, freestyle battle champ Tranquill and Philly emcee Jake Lefco. Both guests compliment Hired Gun, their rhyme schemes offbeat like Bebop greats for the hip hop generation. The subject matter is light hearted, and the track is short and to the point. Unlike most hip hop party joints, the rhymes are sexy but not crude, and there’s no intercessory hook that makes so many others like it unlistenable.

The Life
, featuring Chicago’s Quazaar is the perfect closing song. It sums up Hired Gun’s life as a traveling rap artist, outlining the sacrifices he makes and the toll it takes on his relationships. It’s backed by Ice Nine’s signature raw drum sound and Quazaar is a perfect ally to HG, sharing in his struggle and love for the art.

Hits and Pieces is a faithful representation of what Hired Gun has to offer as lyricist. Though there aren’t many risks taken on the album, there don’t have to be: the main purpose of the record is to create anticipation for his next full length project, NiceGuysFinish, and it more than gets the job done. The album showcases Hired gun’s status as a seasoned pro with a consistently solid body of work. What’s more, the chemistry between emcee and producer is undeniable, and they’ve locked into a sound that is natural, easy to digest and, most importantly, tough as hell.

iHD Rating: 4/5
CONTACT INFO:
To download Hits and Pieces: http://freshroots.bandcamp.com/album/fresh-roots-music-presents-hits-and-pieces
For more on Hired Gun: http://freshrootsmusic.com/

Special thanks for Nasa of Uncommon Records & Nasa Labs- http://nasalabs.tumblr.com/

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