The Zhudaru1963 collective starts the year off strong with a project from one of the best artists in the city Alec Burnright.
I’m a huge fan of a solid 9-12 track project I don’t need a 22 track double disc album of all your shit. Burnright takes advantage of that by making sure all 9 tracks on “Mofongo+” make sense and fit in the context of the album, keeping the filler tracks off. The production is mainly handled by CLP Nation producing tracks 2-8 the meat of the project. Tysonious Monk & Nick Nash bookend the project with tracks 1 and 9 respectively.
The tone of the album is made up of all bangers with Burnright drifting into a more island persona at times. The intro is a perfect example of that island flavor, that fits the mofongo theme of the project.
CLP Nation is in his bag on the banger tracks like the Egyptian sampled “Comeback” and my standout “Tony Danza”, the latter is guaranteed to be the street anthem of 2021.
Burnright and CLP Nation add in the perfect mix of chill tracks like “Moon Shine” and “Captain Planet”. “Slice” featuring Ol’ Manolo & Jimbo Shrimp is a good change of pace to end out the album. The “WOW Freestyle” sample on the outro track “Old School” should be the set closer for all upcoming shows.
On “Mofongo+” Alec Burnright cemented himself as one of the premier artists out of Zhudaru as well as in the entire Burg. Imma need a video for that “Tony Danza” joint as well as a full project from Burnright and CLO Nation. Stay locked onto the city for all the latest projects out of the Zhudaru1963 collective.
Yet another one of my top 10 list dominated by Griselda and other “Boom Bap” rappers but “Punk Rap” founders Uzi and Carti keep me young. Hopefully next year we get a Kendrick project and Cloud Rap comes back cause I really do miss it. With that being said alto of dope
Despite the more commercial route Conway stayed true to his roots with one of my favorite tracks of the year featuring the legend Method Man. Some of the more NY club records like “Anza” went pretty hard. If it had a few more of those boom Bap records it probably would have been a little higher.
That was a good year! Griselda affiliate 38 Spesh dropped his best project to date with “1995”, an ode to classic tracks from that era. All the beats are classic, allowing 38 to rhyme some of the hardest NY bars. From AZ to Raekwon, 38 makes each track his own. The DJ Green Lantern drops make the tape feel even more like a classic mixtape.
Cooks is the rookie of the year. Roc Marciano blessed him with some of his best production to date. From the sample chops to the way cooks flips drake hooks into his own trap shit. Cooks just wants to be the hardest trapper in the game and that’s what I love about him. One of the coldest lines is when he says “Still smellin like a brick right now”. He really is the Stove God.
After a two year wait Carti had to deliver on “WLR”. For the most part he did. I would have liked to see more production from Pierre Bourne and Workin On Dying but the production went hard. The Kanye and Cudi tracks definitely felt forced so those can go but tracks like “Phonk Monk”, “Slayer”, and both the vamp songs are new favs. Carti and Uzi are the pioneers of “Punk Rap” and “PC Music” the name comes from the old computer sounding production. It’s not better than “Die Lit” but I’ll take it.
I am not sure where this project lies in my Westside Gunn tier. So far I think it ranks second but this is for sure his best project of the year. It was so dope for him to get Slick Rick on two tracks which ended up being my favorites. “Butcher and the Blade” is another boom bap Griselda banger. Other than that one chick song the whole album slides.
Ka might not be for everyone but he gives me the same feeling DOOM does. He’s sort of like an enigma. His bars are always top notch but the production on this project makes it my favorite from him as well as for the year. The theme of brother killing brother really hit home on this project.
Uzi for sure lived up to the hype on not just one but two projects this year. On “Eternal Atake” Uzi used Workin On Dying as the main production which gave the album its inter galactic feel. LUV vs. The World 2 focused on more of a trap centric production style but for me it might even be the better of the two albums.
From being number one to being number three isn’t that bad, Benny is my favorite rapper and his debut “Burden Of Proof” solidified it. This project showed Benny could still be street while still branching out into a more mainstream sound. Hit Boy really did his thing between this project and Nas’s, Hit showed he’s back with a vengeance. With that being said I hope Benny goes back to some more street shit on the next album so it can be number 1.
This is the gangster rap “MBDTF”. From the I untouchable Alchemist production to the features picked perfectly for each track. Gibbs and Alc nailed it. Their project with Curren$y “Fetti” was just a taste of what Alc and Gibbs really had in store for us. Now the debate between heads will be which is better “ Alfredo” or “Bandana”.
On first listen I knew this was going to be number one. I can play this joint straight through no skips. Roc elevated his production bringing you that pimp shit but also incorporating in some darkness. “Mt. Marci” feels like all the best songs from all of Roc’s albums got put on one project. All the tracks are next level but “Downtown 81” and “Steel Vagina” are my two favorites. Who knows how Roc is going to top himself next, let’s hope for Metal Clergy with Ka.
Despite COVID putting a lot of things on hold, it didn’t slow down the St. Hip Hop scene. With artists and collectives from around the burg delivering some of their best work I had no choice but to make a list.
Honorable Mention: Big Baby Scumbag- www.flexedupshawty.com
Big baby would have been like number two on the list but this being a St.Pete list I didn’t feel it was right. With that being said it’s definitely the hardest project the 813 has produced in years. Scumbag delivers some of the best bangers of the year, especially on “Bobby Hill”. Big Baby is going to take over the entire Bay Area in 2021.
6. Palm Pact- “Armada”
2020 was definitely the year of the compilation albums, and “Armada” was no expectation. With tracks ranging across all genres of Hip-Hip, there’s practically a song and style for everyone. It was really dope to see the UAC homies on the album as well.
5. Andy Christ- “Juice EP”
The Juice EP from Andy Christ gave me faith in the underground scene, with his ability to make catchy songs but also make bangers. Andy Christ has been running the show scene for the past few years. Once the debut project is finally released Andy Christ and Clergy will be the underground kings.
4. Young Mop- “St.Creaturesburg”
Young Mop had a big 2020, with three projects in total and numerous singles under his belt I had to put one of the projects on the list. I really dug how dark this project was, capturing a different side of St.Pete that not many other artists touch on. From the production to Mop’s bars, despite his dark days being over, “St.Creaturesburg” will have an impact in the scene for years to come.
3. Dj Don Rock- “Welcome To The Players Club”
It is important for a scene to take a distinct sound turning the genre of Hip-Hop into something a region can fully embrace as their own. On “Welcome To The Players Club”, Don Rock gives birth to the new “Slugged Out” St.Pete Hip Hop. From start to finish, just press play, light a blunt, and crawl down Central Ave phonking this tape. “This ain’t no chopped & screwed.”
2. Zhudaru1963- “Skyzhone”
For me this project is so special due to the different sound and style each member of the Zhudaru1963 collective brings. From Kayo Da Beast, Mackey Emmanuel, and Alec Burnright, Heyeyella giving you smash hits with “I Go Off”. Or Acoupstix providing your Sunday afternoon Bucs game chill vibes with “Arrogance”. The crew definitely achieved Skyzhone level. Kailxo Ratchet comes through with the trails and tribulations of street life in St.Pete. With all the members of Zhu slated to drop full length projects in 2021, the movement is only going to get bigger.
1. Onlyonetwo- 222
I haven’t felt this way about a St.Pete Hip Hop project since J Goodie’s “Reminisce & Muse” probably the best project ever to come out of the area. Onlyonetwo is able to capture the street life and just life in general, without coming off as forced. To me he’s like a mix between Roddy Ricch and Lil Baby but a way better lyricist than both while still crafting is own sound. From top to bottom this project is flawless with “Square One”, “Sacrifice”, and “Chosen Few” featuring Kevin Cossom. I feel like everyone can get behind Onlyonetwo sound and it’s only a matter of time before he blows up nationally.
Everyone on this list really went in this year, establishing their sound, as well as finally giving St.Pete Hip Hop heads a feeling that, St.Pete has its own vibe when it comes to this rap shit.
After fueling St.Pete’s hot chicken addiction for about a year over on Central Ave, Nash’s Hot Chicken finally has a brick and mortar location at 905 Central Ave.
At first I was thinking about just keeping it simple, maybe get like 3 or 4 tenders, some fries and call it a day. But nope the guy had the register suggested one of the sandwiches all which come with fries.
I am a sucker for sweet and spicy so I went with the “Early Bird” two pieces of hot chicken with bacon, strawberry jam, and cream cheese, on a “Martian’s Potato Roll”. The chicken heat scale goes from 1 to 5 but I heard their are even spicer flavors if you ask. I went with 3, and even for a fan of some heat this one brought it to me. The sweetness from the strawberry jam was much needed.
They are also serving up Kool Aid and Sweet Tea to save your tongue from the hot chicken.Nash’s Hot Chicken is just what the 727 needed, a place that makes authentic hot chicken for the right price. I Can’t wait to go back and try one of the other sandwiches or get a bunch of tenders for game days.
Coming off the biggest deal in NBA history for a undrafted player, Fred Vanvleet is poised to elevate his game to All Star level.
After going undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft the Toronto Raptors eventually picked up Fred, giving him an opportunity to show what he can really do. After making the full roster, VanVleet played limited minutes but still made his mark on the team. He had some assignments with Raptors 905 the Raptors G-League team, leading them to a championship in 2017.
Pre Kawhi, VanVleet showed he would have staying power on the Raptors, becoming a key piece of their young core. Once Kawhi joined the Raptors, Vanvleet played a key role on the championship winning team, often coming up with huge 3 pointers in clutch time. This is no easy feat when your going head to head with the splash brothers.
With many of the key pieces of the championship team now in other cities, it is up to Vanvleet to usher in this new era of Raptors basketball. So far his stats this season are decent despite only winning one game at the time. Really hope him and Lowry can get some All Star consideration this year, Fred sure does deserve it.
Dephree is brining the West Coast vibes on his newest single “Batman”, a sound the St.Pete Hip Hop scene hasn’t experienced.
Despite just touching down in the 727, Dephree is no stranger on the mic. Over the past decade Dephree has been making moves in the LA Hip Hop scene bringing more feel good vibes than a gangster rap sound the area is known for. On “Batman” Dephree perfectly captures the West Coast Bay Area Hyphy sound that also fits the feel good vibes of the Tampa Bay Area. From one Bay to another, I feel Dephree can really make waves capturing this sound and putting a more 727 vibe on it, making his tracks a mainstay in the Tampa Bay party scene.
That’s not to stay Dephree just makes West Coast music, his music is for everyone. On “Peace and Love” Dephree takes more of a festival/ sing along feel, stay you just want to sing along with. If you want a deep cut from Dephree check out “Nobody Like Me”. The beat provided by King Graint sounds straight off the ice cream truck.
If you want more on Dephree’s life before the burg, check out his episode of “Coastal Castaways” from Coastal Creative. Not sure when Dephree is set to drop his next project but if “Batman” his any sign of what’s to come I would be down. I would love to see him make like a perfect beach album for everyone to vibe to this upcoming summer bringing that Hyphy vibe and “Kush & OJ” era Cardo/Sledgren style production, creating the definitive feel good St.Pete style.
Coastal Creative hosted its first and last “Creatorsburg” of 2020, allowing creatives across all mediums to share and create new ideas as well as check out their new space located at 2201 1st Ave S, Saint Petersburg.
Throughout Coastal Creatives huge warehouse space, the crew set up various props and photo opportunities, allowing photographers and videographers to get their juices flowing. The event was a great opportunity to check out the space, as well as mingle with fellow creatives on what they are currently working on. The turn out was pretty great despite it raining cats and dogs.
I personally wanted to bring a writers aspect to the event, heading straight to the podcast room. Coastal rents out their studio at prices ranging from $80-$150 depending on if you want video to accompany your podcast. I see this as a great opportunity to strengthen the Jit Camp brand through a different medium, bringing the stories to the next level.
With “Creatorsburg” eventually becoming a monthly event, I am sure Coastal will have no problem filling the space with various projects. The ideas are endless with local creatives having the opportunity to cross paths with each other on a daily basis, which often bring out some of the best collaboration. I just want to thank the entire Coastal Creative team for putting on the event and giving the city its very own “Fantasy Factory”. Jit Camp will support the crew in anyway possible.
Flexhan out of the TRiBE collective is ending out the year with some Cloud Rap vibes to St.Pete on her latest EP “Flex”.
The intro track “Bx4” starts things of with that driving down Beach BLVD with the windows down, sunny beach day vibe showing her ability to create a catchy hook.
The real standout for me is “Ghost Mode”. She had me alone with the cloud rap beat, making me feel like I’m floating through a flying castle in the sky. The washed out early cloud rap, Clams Casino esque production is more of what I would like to see Flexhan spit on. Her flow on the track is very similar to early Xavier Wulf like right after his Etherwulf period.
“Green Light” reminds me of that real underground “Broward County” Robb Bank$ flavor to it. This one is definitely ment to be played loud in the whip, especially that last verse, Flexhan killed it by ramping up her flow.
Despite being only three tracks the “Flex EP” is a perfect introduction to Flexhan. I hope she sticks to a more fun loving “Cloud Rap” esthetic, she could make a whole project of tracks like “Ghost Mode” and it would be a classic. I also enjoyed the different style lighter style of this TRiBE project as opposed to the darker tone of Young Mop’s “St.Creaturesburg”. I can’t wait to hear a full project from Flexhan, the world needs some visuals for “Ghost Mode”.
Located in the heart of Uptown St.Pete, Trophy Fish is serving up the best fresh fish dishes on Central Ave.
Trophy Fish is located at 2060 Central Ave, but this isn’t your average fish house. The outdoor only seating gives off that Key West vibe while still staying true to St.Pete. I really dig with perimeter covered in greenery rather than a painted wall or some wack art. If the weather is crappy out the best spot to chill at is the bar. I found myself spending hours their watching the Bucs game and enjoying great food and cocktails. Oh and did I mention they have $15 bottles of bubbly.
The bartenders, servers, and chef are all very welcoming and make feel like yo a regular even on your first visit. My friend Kyle and I got to check a glimpse of the bartenders working on their latest specials. The hit of the day was by far the “Naked and Famous, a drink containing Mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Aperol, and fresh lime juice. Kyle was looking for more of a pick me up so Juan came through with the Espresso Martini, that he named “Hair Of The Dog”.
The Chef at Trophy Fish prides himself on making every dish fresh, while also using only fresh local caught fish on the menu. For starters I ordered the Fish nuggets, a mix of grouper and mahi, with an order of their homemade hush puppies that are screaming to be made into conch fritters one day. I am a stickler for good sauces, look no further than Trophy Fish’s Pineapple Tartar, which coming from someone who doesn’t like tartar. it’s out of this world.
Despite my full belly, I had to try the chef’s recommended Shrimp Burger. The half part smoked shrimp, half part raw shrimp brings a different flavor aspect I’ve never seen with shrimp before. The “straight killa, no filla”, burger will definitely be my go to from now on. Again chef nails it with “727 sauce”, his spin on a cilantro aioli that’s ties in with the smokey flavor of the shrimp.
The Craft Cocktails are just the start, the food is what will have you coming back for repeat visits, I was even debating on going back later to get another shrimp burger. Trophy Fish checks all my boxes when it comes to a great restaurant, making it an instant regular Sunday Brunch spot for me from this day forward.
Despite having a down season in the bubble, Pascal Siakam is poised to have a bounce back season in Tampa Bay.
The Cameroonian born player was drafted by the Toronto Raptors with the 27th Overall pick in the 2016 Draft. To develop his skills the team sent him to the G-League winning the leagues championship and finals MVP as a rookie.
In his first full season with the Raptors, Siakam cemented himself has a solid bench player by increasing his shooting. Once the 2018-2019 season started Siakam made his way into the starting line up, becoming one of the best two way players in the game averaging about 16 points a game.
With Kawhi Leonard taking his talents to “The North” alongside Lowry, Ibaka, Gasol, and VanVleet, the Raptors took it all the way capturing their first NBA title in franchise history. Siakam also took home most improved player of the year. Pre bubble Siakam was named to his first NBA all star game representing the Eastern Conference.
With Kawhi’s and many others of the core championship team departing in free agency the Raptors locked you Siakam with four year $130 million dollar extension. With Lowry getting older it’s up to Siakam to lead the franchise into the future. In only his fourth season I feel Siakam can reach MVP heights like Giannis did, once he hones his skills the sky is the limit.