SHUTTING 'EM DOWN Freddie works the mic. [Photo by Jessica Pohl for rhymeCulture]
Local hip-hop heads are well aware of the active rap community outside the capital city — namely in Newport, RI — and the new album from tag-team lyricists Freddie Black and B Luv, Everybody Luv Black, is a testament to the quality craftsmanship booming from Aquidneck Island. Black and B Luv just dropped one of the year’s best hip-hop albums. In the words of Freddie Black on the leadoff banger “Shut ’Em Down”: “If you didn’t know before, now you know it now.” Hit the bridge to Jimmy’s Saloon this Saturday (the 19th) for the Everybody Luv Black album release show.
Born-and-bred Newport rhyme vet Freddie Black (aka Mr. Blackskin) came up well over a decade ago as a founding member of the Ghostown collective, which released the album Mental Therapy in 2002. Black later dropped a pair of sharp mixtapes with (fellow Newport rep) DJ Nook, Witness the Birth of Freddie Black (2009) and X-Files (2012), available for free download at datpiff.com. B Luv made guest appearances on X-Files cuts “The Chat” and the rugged “Crew Cut,” and sparked the Everybody Luv Black duo.
The self-titled debut album took more than a year to complete, with help from audio guru Vertygo at the venerable Beatbox Studios in Pawtucket (a Rhody rap goldmine). The pair “brainstormed concepts” and cooked up a serious platter of booming beats and dynamic wordplay (Camp Lo and Dead Prez come to mind). The big snare drums, murky basslines, and crackling piano loops from Splift Out (who produced and provided cuts on the entire album) bring forth the ’90s-era vibe behind B Luv and Black throughout, right from the opening salvo, “Shut ’Em Down.” Freddie sounds like a seasoned beast when he opens with, “Bang-bang, bang to the boogie/Pussy ass niggas ain’t hard — no woody.” He boasts a “head full of steam chasin’ big dreams” and declares, “Stay focused even when it looks hopeless, so you’re ready when your number gets chosen.”
The one-two knockout punch arrives with “Straight Off the Block,” with B Luv casually dropping streetwise gems like “My nigga, my hands been dirty since grams was $30” while Black fires off, “Hustle hard, hustle hard — shit, I still punch a fucking clock.” (Speaking of, Freddie Black works at the Speakeasy Bar & Grill on Thames Street, and I can attest that chef Freddie is a master when it comes to escargots and Mussels Catalan.) B Luv and Black go in for the ladies on “U Were the One” (another great beat here) and “Heartbreaker,” while the equally strong second half features another back-to-back killer combo with “Hate Rap” (Mr. Blackskin barks, “So what you frontin’ for? Bust your cabbage, turn that shit to fuckin’ cole slaw”) and “Trap Rap.”
ELB brought the hometown house down a few months back with an opening set for Slaine at Jimmy’s Saloon. It was a great show from start to finish (which also featured expert local wordsmiths Meta P and Kee-Words) and everyone was indeed loving Everybody Luv Black, as the duo commandeered the stage and had the house jumping.