Artist: Ellay Khule
Label: Project Blowed Recordings
In typical Smartalecky fashion I decided to do my research before plugging in to listen to the new Ellay Khule joint. Upon finding out this brother was from the West Coast, I prepared myself to sit inattentively through some NWA or Snoop knockoff. To my surprise Califormula started off with a hard core/conscious tone that made me lay back, absorb the tracks and extinguish any fear of this album being even remotely wack.
The intro starts with Khule letting you know who he is, what to expect, and where he came from. Backed by claps and a heartbeat baseline, he sets up the album perfectly for the underground hip-hop ignoramus.
This cat has a serious discography (Califormula being #11) and drops this underground joint with the same tenacity and realness that brings to mind the old skool way of doing things; respect, knowledge, and skills!
Throughout are hard hitting beats, funky baselines, playful hooks, claps, horns, and fast paced rhythmic styles. Ellay Khule pays homage to the essence of hip-hop through shout outs to old skool MCs and a B-girl tribute on track 8 “B-Girl Queendom featuring Aceyalone”. The same vibe is felt on
track 5 “Who’s Killing Hip-Hop”, where Khule shows his story telling skills with cleverly placed inserts of samples from various old skool artists. Go straight to this joint if you want a brief synopsis of who died, who got locked up, and who fucked up in the Hip-Hop game.
Later tracks feature an array of talent including; Pterradacto, 2Mex, Abstract Rude, and Busdriver. Unlike mainstream joints that slip in big names to sing hooks or rap two lines, this album makes use of the featured talent rather than using them only as a starburst sticker to put on the outside of the shrink rapped CD. Khule definitely has a lot of surprises on “Califormula” for us. My personal favorite; track 16 “Call me Khule”, is the perfect jumpooff for a road trip, getting ready for the 9-5 or getting your mind right in general. Khule is capable of switching up topics, styles, beats, and shows his creativitiy in track 11 “Very Latest Styles” which offers a change of pace with a sing-song chorus from a child’s voice which tends to remind you of Jay Z’s “hard knock life”.
I look forward to hearing a lot more from Ellay Khule in the future. When I listen to his album I am reminded of artists such as; Twista, X-clan, Goodie Mob, Hieroglyphs, and Outkast. Currently we are in a state of misogyny within the Hip-Hop culture. I am hoping we can snap out of it as if it were all a bad dream, but it seems unlikely. Artists such as Ellay Khule take the edge off of the bullshit. Hopefully they do not “mistake his kindness for weakness”, as said in track 10 “Sounds of the Human Race”.
Until things change on a grand scale I will be looking for Khule and other artists like him from around the world. Perhaps as he asks in track 13 “Time”, his will come to be heard on a grander scale with greater implications.