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Crossing over borders by way of musical hip-hop forces are the duo Fresh Kils and Mad Dukez. On Gettin’ Gatsby , Buffalo based rapper Mad Dukez explores some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel by way of free-flowing lyrics about sacrifice, success , money and excess. His vocal style and charismatic flow shines on tracks like “Decadent Dilemma” and “Brother Bookie”. The album could not be complete without Toronto’s Fresh Kils operating the decks and setting the scene with fresh beats & well placed production to compliment Mad Dukez freestylin’ gab. Try and stand still while the funky drums set the stage for “Bootleg Bartender” but be ready to listen to this cd more than once to really start to like it.
Thes One and Raashan Ahamad have been friends for over 9 years. Their other groups People Under the Stairs and The Crown City Rockers kept them busy until they were able to make this release. “Doin’ It” pours on the 70′s flavor with lots of drum kicks and funk-filled loops. “Good Co.” deals out a smooth beat, while Thes One and Ahmad trade rhyming lyrics like Garbage Pail Kid cards. “Allright” is equally funky with shine and flare and a high-hat beat that is extra crispy. If hip-hop is not your thing, all the tracks have instrumental versions to get your party groovin’ and your booty moovin’. I can dig it. Can youuuu diggg eeeettt?
Dramady’s second release features two artists from Portland, Oregon. Amanda Wiles plays bass and tenor sax and Zachary Quinton Stanley plays drums, keys and vocals (usually simultaneously). They created their band name in 2006 because of all the hilarious life drama going on at the time and then made music about it. The second track, “2 ghosts in one costume”, has cool horns and a poppy beat played over a one long accordion note. “Keep it up” brings a synth-pop vibe that stays true to this upbeat album. Lyrics of simple times and hard lessons are well played through consistent vocal harmonies and great riffs. An indie delight!
Black Dolphin is the debut release from Dim Past. Mixed and mastered in Miami, Florida this release highlights the new and upcoming Negative Rave clique. Occult Circuitry (no computers) were used to create this album full of synth-heavy, beat driven, techno, industrial, post-punk underground palpitations. Rivers of winding electronic croaks rip through the opening track, whereas “Spectre in Wire” brings heavy delays and a progressive house-synth vibe. “Night Shade” shares eeire repetitive vocals and spooky pianos that reminds me of Wednesday nights at the old Trocadero in SF. 30 minutes of mind bending beats and scratches to satisfy your musical itches.
With 27 musicians uniting to create a musical collection of funk, fusion, soul and jazz, Mackrosoft has done a creative job. S.E.M.E is named after Steely Dan’s classic 1977 LP. You can hear Fagen’s influence along with the likes of George Clinton, Herbie Hancock and Bootsy Collins. Seductive and unpredictable, Mackrosoft winds through slick high-hat beats accompanied by synth joints and mythic horns. Juicy underground funk and borderline porn-flick score all in one creating an instrumental party of artwork to make you dance. If you need to get that funk out of your trunk, try this one on.
Born in San Jose, CA, Controller 7 (aka Tommy McMahon) spent many years listening to jams on MTV and memorizing his favorite Run- DMC lyrics. It was not until 1999, while living in Berkeley, that one of his demo tapes landed in the hands of Anticon label rapper Sole, that a friendship began and records were created. Left Handed Selections is a collection of music created in San Jose and Berkeley in the Spring of 1998 and 2000. This album contains a cinematic beatscape of mainly instrumentals appropriate for a mainstream soundtrack or a great party backdrop. “The Candle (remix)” does feature rhymes by Deep Puddle Dynamics along with the intro track, but they are only a shiny accessory to the rest of his optimal selections. Controller 7 sustains sexy beats and elegantly mellow and upbeat music for everyone to enjoy. His artistic and talented creation leaves me wanting to know what he will do with his right hand next.
Odd Future leader Tyler the Creator’s second album Goblin is produced almost entirely by himself. Not bad for a 19 year old who also was able to bring some of hip-hop’s newest and greatest indie artist like Left Brain, Jasper Dolphin and Taco Bennett. The album is filled with spooky, venting lyrics to his therapist about fame, hype, message boards and girls unwillingness to perform fellatio. Most of the tracks are dark and somewhat uncomfortable, but are filled in with honesty and a brave conclusion of the world around him. “She” featuring Frank Ocean, on vocals relinquishes his internal fantasies, while “Nightmare” opens up to his fears and criticisms. “Sandwitches” does show his humorous side while dueting with Hodgy Beats in a rhyming bro-down. Tyler the Creator is still young, and sometimes falls in and out of the rhythm pocket and maybe a little overdramatic, but he has a big cult following and a record label that is willing to contribute in making him a successful artist doing what he loves. -Dianthus-
It all began in 2004 when Murs and 9th Wonder saddled up together to release a hip-hop album every 2 years until ” The Final Adventure”. The best way to sum up this album is that it is filled with a whole lotta reflection. Thoughts rain on where they come from, where they have been and how they are better people because of their experiences in life. The intro track is shined upon by Murs muse Rapsody’s smooth textured, beat matching prowess . “Tale of Two Cities” pleads for unity between brothers instead of gang colors bleeding against each other. This is a change from most of the relationship – themed songs like “Holding Hands” and “Wherever You Are”. Lyrically the rhymes are positive, spiritual and upbeat flavored with East Coast and West Coast unity and style. The backdrop for the tracks are filled with jazz- swirling horns and old soul soundtracks and beats to make you move. All around this is a fine send off for Murs and 9th Wonder’s saga that makes you want to listen and learn.
It is hard to believe that this 28 year- old Minneapolis native has been rapping for over a decade and has just come to find his voice. Ecid wrote, produced and mixed “Werewolf Hologram” and stuffed it with some mighty yummy hip-hop condiments. The samples he uses reel you in and create a surreal cloud of electronic and head slammingly – ill beats. These luscious layers accompany his poignant and and sometimes angry lyrics dealing with such topics as; death, survival, loss , war, sobriety and living up to your potential. Tracks to check out include the Casio keyboard cladded “Marching On”, free flowing poetry from David Mars & Leif on “The Future is Free” and the opening track sounds like Andy Griffith is whistling along right beside you as Ecid tells you his story of truth. I do not find Ecid arrogant , but just enough edge and originality to make you want to listen to what he has to say and find out where his adventurous hooks and rhymes will take you.
The Frikstailers hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina and you can hear some of their South American influences ring through on their latest release from ZZK records. Flavors of cumbia, moombahton, bachata and experimental knob turning swirl through this hip shaking electronic beatscape. “Los Originiarios” sends you on a safari through the bassfields of dubstep and “Hazlo tu Mizmo” (Do it yourself) grinds it out as Boogat slaps out rap lyrics in spanish tongue. I enjoy “Cumbianchamuyo” which sprinkles catchy keyboard licks over cumbia kicks, but you may love “Dem Can’t Stop We From Talk” for its dancehall stomps and vocals from Anthony B. Some of the tracks can be a little too flutey, but I cannot deny Frikstailers ability to incorporate latin instruments with freaky dance music to make the party keep on dancing.
Expect the unexpected when listening to this clever collection from the Swedish duo Pistol Disko. Carefully measured sequences of black racket, electronica, looping, psychedelia and goth can be found all throughout this hypnotic cassette. Experimentally rich and succulent inspiration are on tracks like “Pool” which elevates your mood and your cerebellum. Or transfer yourself back to some sweaty, chunked out synths on “IndieRave” or the shadowed “Grave Rave” and be prepared to dance. This will not ease your anticipation for what is to be heard on this fuzzed out , pulsing, spinning soundscape of metallic Oz. Noisy but mesmerizing, Pistol Disko will leave you lusting for more.
Released in 1974 as a very limited- edition promotional item intended for radio stations, this album was originally dropped by Shin’s record label. This power trio consisted of Shin & the Yup Jun-” In Korean, yupjun literally means a brass coin,” Shin explains. “However, during that time it was used as slang to describe a sense of unpleasantness and dislike. Since I was so unpleasant and dissatisfied [in my career], I told myself, `Ok, fine, I am just a yupjun,’ and named my band with a rebellious attitude.”??Shin started this musical exploration by renting a room in Seoul’s Tower Hotel for 6 months and collaboratively wrote songs and created music with his band for this amazing and powerful release. Strong funk , psychedelic and catchy guitar riffs envelop you with the opening track ” Beautiful Woman” and Shin’s vocal intensity duets with bell ringing on “I love You”. Monster grooves and bar raising lyrical approaches can be heard all throughout this museum- worthy masterpiece . A must have for all music lovers!
Mellowhype consists of Odd Future’s Hodgy Beats and producer/ MC Left Brain. Bass-heavy beats swerve around catchy synth-pop licks while weed-driven , sometimes angry , lyrics are spit out on tracks like ” 65/Breakfast” and “Monster”. This is Mellowhype’s second release which also features cameos from Frank Ocean on the smooth track”Astro”. Slightly funky, parrot head parading, thumping beats shimmers upon the falsetto of Pharell on the lady lumps praising ” La Bonita”. Hodgy demands attention with his raspy and fast rapping style, but I enjoyed Left Brain’s goofiness and laid back flow. Get the whip out and bump this this cd loudly.
Get ready for some gritty Detroit rock from Danny and the Darleans. Danny Kroha brings raw fury in the form of vocals and guitar, which is a bit refreshing from his old days with the garage- punk band The Gories and the Demolition Doll Rods. Colleen Burke thumps her way away around on bass on the opening track “Don’t Ask the Question” following the flowing drum beats of Richie Wohlfeil. The star of this 45 is the flip side cover of Lou Reed’s pre-Velvet Underground jam”You’re Driving Me Insane”. A delightful shoe scuffing selection out of Nero’s Neptune Records.
Despite being a hip – hop producer for some well-known lyric assassins you will not find any of them on this new release. The Alchemist spotlights the newest underground MCs and strings them all together with an invariably interesting soundscape pulling from all corners of mystic countries and blasting them into the universe. With 30 tracks covered in a matter of 45 minutes I can only begin to wonder how much work went into making this aural wonderland. Inside the gooey layers of mature rhymes are consistent artists like Evidence, Action Bronson and Danny Brown. One of my favorite tracks is the opener “Soundcheck” which blends Russian voice samples with an interesting intermittent interview between Dolph Lundgren and Joan Rivers. This dramatic music project only begins here and then is interwoven between verses and samples containing a 70s spy movie and sitars on a Moroccan maiden hash farm. Roc Morciano’s raspy flow on “The Turning Point”, perfectly accompanies the thumping bass and screeching guitar . “Kosmos Pt. 6 “, combines ribbeting shouts about aliens with the Russians blasting into outer space. Even if you are not a hip – hop fan, this intriguing production will leave you wondering where the Alchemist will take you next and I think you will enjoy the trip. -Dianthus-
This is the debut album from a bay area supergroup comprised of Quannum/Solesides members Lateef “The Truth Speaker” (Latryx, Maroons), The Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) and Headnodic (crown City Rockers). Together they formed the Mighty Underdogs after Lateef liked enough Headnodic- produced tracks from his solo album that he wanted to make another album with him and Gift of Gab saw his opportunity to collaborate. With special guests including MF Doom , DJ Shadow, Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, Tha Alkaholiks’ Tash, Chali 2na, and Julian and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley this album appeals to the masses. Not the usual creative lyrics I expect from these artists, but still some fun hooks on tracks like supergalactic “Gunfight” and “Hands in the air” Lateef’s flow enchants you on “UFC remix” and “Laughing at You” features creepy laughter and beat-boxing. Great road trip hip-hop for sure! – Dianthus-
Floating along a city beatscape through deep, cascading shadows of bass comes the newest single from Photek. A different turn from the legendary producer’s dubstep home, “Closer” reminds me of a long walk through the darkened streets of Berlin while a house rhythm escapes from the windows of a club above. If you like it even darker and more crunky, try the Pinch remix of the track. I enjoyed the savory, mid-tempo longer, un-listed track on the flip side of the LP that made me yearn for wintery chill sessions. -Dianthus-
An essential item for any Anticon fan, “Man’s Best Friend” is the solo project created by frontman Sole. Produced and arranged by the man himself, this hip-hop gem not only brings lyrically planned out attacks against the government and authority, but also some interestingly obscure background beats. Experimentally crunchy and goth-hoppy, jelly-cloaked sounds serve as ambiance to Sole’s hoarse voice and gut wrenchingly truthful raps on tracks like “Little Bank Anthem” and The Devil’s a Traveling Man”. A light and happy launching pad for such fierce spoken words are aided by soul & funk hooks on tracks”Idol Victim” and “Ode to Clean Air. “Numb” and “Attack Russia”bring the electronic oscillators to Sole’s politically charged discussions about life and warfare as only he can explain best. Some of the tracks can be a bit fuzzy and does sometimes overshadow the rhymes, but overall a fulfilling record to reflext on the 2003-2004 unsteady world climate and a sarcastcally, brutal freestyle that makes Sole one of the best underground rappers around.
Take a one man band out of Las Vegas and give him a shot of blues, with some freshly shaken bellowing punk and chase it down with some electric beats and you have Electric Crush. “Dropouts in a Drug Haze” was originally a demo tape recorded in Y2K and then reissued on the first side of this LP and later combined with some current acidic , yell your mother effin’ face off tracks. Side A digs deep into the garage of punk and dusts of your Doc Martin thrashing shoes while Muddy Waters plays steel guitar in the background . The stand out track for me was “Clock Stands Still” on the flip side, which brings the ghetto blastin’ beats along with some lyrical rapping and high- pitch noise. Interesting and weird 300 limited copy release from the Black Gladiator label.
The Vermont-based group MV (Matt Valentine) and EE (Erika Elder) bring the musical force to their latest release”Space Homestead”. MV & EE describe their experimental sound as “lunar ragas”-combining the composition of Indian raga and Appalachian folk and post-psychedelic electrical experimentalism. If Neil Young had some cyber space babies I think they would sounds something like these two. The opening track “Heart like Barbara Steele” fizzes out with some tricky psych guitar and then leads into the folky track “Workingman’s Smile”. The great guitar leads and drugged out trippiness does not start until the harmonica digs into “Too far to See” and the unsettlingly abstract “Wasteland.” If you like it folky, stay towards the beginning of the album, if you like it hallucinogenic and guitarry , veer toward the latter part of the album. Either way, enjoy some fine musical reverb art out of the Brooklyn freak label Woodsist.
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