Long Island contains many a village like Hempstead (home of Hus Kingpin) and Amityville (home of Rozewood), where scenes of abject poverty and lavish wealth are found mere blocks from one another. The close physical proximity of these disparate worlds and high frequency of their intermingling are quite possibly a few of the reasons Long Island has such a rich tradition of street-savvy poet/griots whose voices are every bit as laid back as their stories are crime-laden (Roc Marciano, Prodigy, Grand Daddy I.U., Erick Sermon, and Rakim all come to mind). Thematically, the Tokyo Tower Mixtape is deeply rooted in this tradition. And while conceptually this might not be the most original release of the year — in fact, fellow LI MC Ryu Black dropped a “Japanese vacation” concept album of his own back in 2011 — it is a solid mixtape that has me excited to hear the duo’s forthcoming debut album, $100 Taper.
As for the artists themselves, I was already familiar with Hus Kingpin from his work as one half of Tha Connection, who collaborated with Roc Marc on “Strive.” Hus and Roc also got together for “Warm Hennessy.” Rozewood, on the other hand, I hadn’t heard until now, even though like Hus and Tha Connection, he’s previously released music on Digi Crates. To my surprise, though, he definitely holds his own. Actually, his solo cut “Midnight Run” is one of my favorite tracks on the whole tape, possibly because it makes direct reference to the clash of classes mentioned earlier.
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