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Music Reviews

Dayne Jordan – “In Progress” – [Independent]

Arcanum   1/13/2016   CD, Hip Hop

DJ Jazzy Jeff showing his Philadelphia Brotherly Love…he is on most of the production so bump for track 3 & 8 for me. Also cue track 9 at the 4 minute mark and let that one ride. All in all “In progress” feels just as sounds. take the good with the bad and adjust perspective. FCCs mostly Nigga.

Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark – “S/T” – [Delicious Vinyl]

Morada   1/2/2016   12-inch, Hip Hop

This is smooth, slow, lyrical hip hop. A3 would fit nicely on Soul Patrol. B3 has a Wizard of Oz theme. Tr A2, A5, and B3 have a slightly Latin flavor. Some of my favorite lines are B2, “I’m gonna kill ya real slow, you call me cancer stick.” And B3 “Fish with good bait, get a good bite.”
Disk 2 is instrumental versions of the same tracks.

Professor Brian Oblivion – “Dissertation: Volume 1” – [Clockwise]

Arcanum   12/26/2015   12-inch, Hip Hop

Professor Brian Oblivion is a producer and DJ whose sample based, boom bap style is rooted in Golden Era Hip Hop while steadily projecting towards new treatments. Utilizing turntables, an MPC and a diverse sound library ranging from soundtracks, funk, soul, jazz, psych rock, world music and everything in between, he creates a rubric unparalleled. In the same vein as Ras G’s Raw Fruit and Madlib’s Beat Konducta, Professor Oblivion releases the first of the Dissertation series, showcasing twenty-two raw, open beats in a seamlessly arranged bombardment of funk.With influences of the world’s musical past, the professor meticulously synthesizes and reframes specimens of sound to create sound collage that is rooted in principle and steeped in culture. Hard hitting drums, scintillating synths, dancing melodies and grooving basslines construct “Dissertation: Volume 1”, culminating in a cacophony of head nodding slappers. All tracks FCC Free and Inst.

Dirty Old Men – “Beerhandles & Lovebellies” – [Self Released]

Arcanum   10/28/2015   CD, Hip Hop

Dirty Old Men ??? Beerhandles & LoveBellies

Local indie Hip Hop. Beerhandles & Lovebellies sounds like a personal
journal of a couple of alcoholics who got together over some cold ones
and took their freestyle notebooks and put together an album. FCCs on
all tracks except 3,6, and 9 which are instrumental interludes.
Interlude 9 is cool track that includes samples from Charles Manson,
Jimi Hendrix, and Frank Zappa. This album is most likely going to get
you to nod your head or shake it in disdain. All in all the real hip
hop heads will find something to appreciate in the album especially on
track 8 and the interlude tracks.

Gangrene – “You Disgust Me” – [Mass Appeal]

Thurston Hunger   9/11/2015   CD, Hip Hop

Filthy, let me count the ways…not just the FCC plunger
with f-bombs backing up day time pipes, not just the
beats (“The Scrapyards” “The Man With The Horn” and of
course the leadoff track, “The Filth”) but also in
some of the lyrical and topical treatments. “Better
Things” starts with the shit flying verbally all over,
DeNiro cruises by the track before in his taxi with
a famous sample. Dirty rats, nasty-ass backed up toilets
(with a hair dam included) so the poop troupe can
get down and dirty with that stuff, and there’s other
adolecenct putrefaction at play here, including a
“reverse Bill Cosby the ho” on “Gluttony” and two
super doofuses at the end of “Sheet Music” and an
excitable gonad of a guy at the end of “Better Things”
(honestly his sample cracks me up every time…)
Between the the bombast and the ass blasts, and the
mandatory sped up gremlin vox (“Flamethrowers Pt. 2”)
if you want to be offended, go ahead, but you’re
missing out on some stupid fun (where else can you
find Ken Griffey and GG Allin in the same line-up).
Plenty of friends want to play in the muck with Oh No
and the Alchemist. -Thurston Hunger

Diamond District – “March On Washington Redux” – [Mello Music Group]

abacus   8/12/2015   CD, Hip Hop

making waves in the D.C. underground, hard-hitting trio Diamond District reviving golden era sounds with fresh styling. X.O, yU and Oddisee bringin soulful sampling production, gritty drums and grimy raps; filthy enough to come from the streets but conscious enough to provoke thought; sophisticated lyrical content on politics, culture and philosophy without being overly intellectual and verbose, more emphasis placed on complex wordplay and rhythmic interaction. worthy of the fame they’re on the cusp of with an almost-grammy-nomination back in ’09, but they don’t let the attention get to them, yet.

Odin, Raven – “Illicon Valley” – [Audiocrats Productions]

humana   8/3/2015   CD, Hip Hop

All I know about Raven Odin is that he’s smart. He’s an amazing writer and his quick-paced speaking makes you sit up and take notice of what he’s saying. His name seems to be based on the myths of Odin, the god who used ravens to tell him all the news of the kingdom. That is exactly what Raven Odin does here in this CD based on Silicon Valley (aptly changed to Illicon), where I assume he hails from. I particularly enjoyed hearing him drop local names such as the Voodoo Lounge in his track “In the Zay.” Modern-day poetry–well worth listening to.

Suite For Weldon [coll] – [Stones Throw]

humana   7/6/2015   12-inch, Hip Hop

This collection of fantastic jazzy/hip-hop pieces were contributed by Yesterday’s New Quintet, Mr Dibbs, and Breakestra in honor of late jazz pianist Weldon Irvine, Jr., whose work was said to be instrumental to Mad Lib’s jazz expression in Yesterday’s New Quintet. The album was conceived so funds could go to Weldon’s son. With its moves and groove and beats, it is a fine tribute.

Younge, Adrian / Souls of Mischief – “There Is Only Now” – [Linear Labs]

Thurston Hunger   6/11/2015   CD, Hip Hop

No one can stay young forever, not even Adrian, but while many
wax poetic about 90’s hip hop, Younge creates a new yet lasting
testimony. Summoning the Souls of Mischief with killer bass lines
and swirling soul-savior sounds. Flutes, chic guitars, hovering
keys…and super slinky drums. Younge presents a street opera
musically, while the four Souls dodge bullets and beats, Tajai
falls into the clutches of Womack (Busta Rhymes). You know he’s
bad even before he slips Miriam a mickey which leads to vehicular
miscarriage. Vengeance is sworn, other epithets fly (running this
at length needs to wait for the FCC to sleep…or really wake up).
Lots of side angles at play, and a radio narrator for K-NOW, you
know the essence of now, is there to take the pulse of the city
(dig quick Oakland phone-by’s on #13, and a jingle to boot too)
A Tribe called Request? Snoop plays the role of Dear Abby on a
cut setting up some Stoney love. “Finally Back” is both conscious
and conscience rap, weighing wounds and fate. But by “The Last Act”
the souls have got Womack’s last breath in sight. Might be as
much non-fiction as there is inner city friction. An instro disk
is included giving not just the drummer some, but the band who
are as tight as the shadows where they reside. Check the drums
on #14, the guitar/synth sizzle on #11 and the two moods on #6.
Backpackers got your back.

-Thurston Hunger

J-Zone – “Peter Pan Syndrome” – [Old Maid Entertainment]

Thurston Hunger   5/7/2015   CD, Hip Hop

While punk rock struggles with being classical music (“Symphonia
Uber Alles?) hip hop muddles in middle age where finally those
velour jumpsuits are needed! J-Zone actually hung up the headphones
for a stretch in 2009 and thought about another path, which helped
seed both a book (“Root for the Villain”) and this fine album.
Instead of giving the drummer some, he became the drummer! So
this has more shake than Foster’s Freeze when you were only
as tall as Shawn Bradley’s knees. This album is a fun as the
best summer you ever had (and has the exact attitude about a
job that you lost during that same summer.) He drops some words
that should NOT be aired during daytime, monster.com and linkedin
and even that four-letter nasty : kale. He drops that kale and
slips on it in “An Honest Day’s Robbery” the instro after that
gets mighty rubbery, his live drums when added really pack the
right punch. The instros #4, #9, #14, #18 often have some
swirling or downright psychotronic samples tucked in nicely.
But the lyrically laced tracks are where it’s at, Zone-bone
connected to the funny bone, although in single track listening
you might miss the overall effect. Well he’s funny to me, even
when he’s laughing at me. And his little Kazzoo cartoon sidekick,
Chief Chinchilla, puts the id in solid and stupid. He may have
missed his calling just going for the mic and throat as a comic,
rap-wise though he should be considered the O-OCD-G on tracks
like “Crib Issues” and “The Fox Hunt.” 409 is NOT a crime!
Assuming his alter ego Swagmaster Bacon doesn’t blow up,
-Thurston Hunger

Grayskul – “Zenith” – [Fake Four Inc.]

billiejoe   4/22/2015   CD, Hip Hop

2013 hip hop album from the duo of Onry Ozzborn and JFK out of the Pacific Northwest.
These guys have worked with Oldominion, Dark Time Sunshine, The Gigantics, Barfly, Norman, Sleep, Aurora, Ceshi, Maker, Mr. Hill, Aesop Rock, Cage, Slug, and Fakts One among others. Tons of guest musicians and MCs on this album. Some really good beats and pop feel but lyric and rhyme focused. Singing on several tracks gives it a popular vibe. Songs about politics, pot, sex and being grateful.
I like the flows on track 4, 10, 11, 12 and the beats on 6,12,16.
FCCs 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 18.

Variable Unit – “Handbook for the Apocalypse” – [Wide Hive]

Thurston Hunger   4/21/2015   CD, Hip Hop

Second skirmish from Bay Area hip hop hard
corps, well-stocked with munitions of samples.
However, the typical battleplan is inverted,
the samples detonated here are written rather
than rhythmic. And instead of a quick clip of
snares bursting in air, this new VU let’s its
sampled pieces go the distance. Including work
from Burroughs, Howard Zinn and an excellent
Conrad Aiken poem. Their wired barbs impale the
soul jazz that offers something between a beat
and cognitive dissonance. Sonic smoothness
stands against more jagged verbal slags. DJ Zeph,
aka Azeem, broadcasts that lack of a revolution
in the year 2029 in one of the lighter moments.
Bombs are dropped close to home, sons are sent
to war in a quick leap from infancy to infantry.
In the end, DJ Quest and his comrades dole out
an odd ration, an existential sandwich with God
in the middle?!? Overall, a well-read badge of
courage. My kind of patriotism!
-Hunger

Homeboy Sandman – “Hallways” – [Stones Throw]

Thurston Hunger   3/7/2015   12-inch, Hip Hop

Angel Del Villar II is no sequel, but he is Homeboy
Sandman and armed with some killer production from a
variety of folks, he deadpans straight through to the
brainpan. His lyrics remind me of kids keeping journals,
more focus on frank takes than rank fakes. Early on
when Sandman says “Street don’t want him around he too
deep, The deep don’t want him around, he too street”
that’s a promising calling card, things that fall
between the margins, or live in the borders tend
to be more interesting. Sandman lives and walks around
NYC (literally on “Stroll”) and while on “Heaven Too”
his stomach may be turning, he keeps the home fires
burning with a hint of sideways pride on “America
the Beautiful.” On “Problems” it starts with him
wanting a free clinic to give him the gift of no
gift and good news, but he winds up on a bus with
second hand smoke and headed towards hipsterville.
He dodges a mirror but runs into a flock of rabid
Kurt Cobain fans, and he may be one himself. He’s a
reflective dude, and his cadence has a little of that
Kool Keith clip to the end of his line lurch, but his
weirdness is not intergalactic, more homegrown and
finely tuned. Side C may be the Sex side, although he
already hit the free clinic, but the squeezing between
the “Grand Pupa” and his “Personal Ad” his own braggadicio
is flagging at times, self-flagellating but not that
way. He still honors that drive of “Out of woman, comes a
man, spends the rest of his life getting back when he can.”
That’s not his lyrics but he’s trying to “right his ship
and keep it steady” it’s not a pirate booty quest and yo
ho for the ho’s. The sexxiest song might be “Stroll” not
so much lyrically but the Bossa Nova that’s stuffed into
his beat pocket as he hits the streets. All the lyrics
are printed inside the gatefold and worth perusing, well
no printed for the two bonus vinyl tracks, “Army” and
“Holiday.” The former with a sweet singing Jeannette Berry
metaphor mixing love and war while “Holiday” takes the
forced family get-togethers to force an honest eye in his
uncle/sister’s ears. I was hooked by the power of the very
first side, but his insights and inside rhymes present a
real guy, no cardboard cut-out or product displacement
and not a hallowed hologram. That alone qualifies for
originality… No sleeping on the Sandman.

-Thurston Hunger

Talibam! – “Puff Up The Volume” – [Critical Heights]

humana   2/13/2015   12-inch, Hip Hop

Hip hop from Talibam! The lyrics are printed up on an insert if you want to follow along as these two fellows come up with an impressive array of rhymes. Impressive in that there are so many; not so impressive in content. The music itself is fairly upbeat and the voices are rather funny (especially the Donald Duck voice on A8), but all the sex talk makes me feel like I must be turning into a prude. The interludes are amusing (probably because the voices are supposed to be those of aging geezers), although the album ends with ambulance sirens as part of the “Golden-Ager Croak.”

Durag Dynasty- 360 Waves (2013) Hip Hop 12 inch lp

rasbabo   2/2/2015   12-inch, A Library, Hip Hop

Durag Dynasty (Doo-Rag) is new to me but after
hearing this album I would be willing to be sized
for the appropriate headwear. Heavy flows and
abstract beats. Not much dancing here, but a bit of
head bobbing. ‘Topper’ rap about how these MC’s
are better than the rest. Beats are samples and loops
that work as backbones for the lyricists and their
guests, some fatter than others.
Good tunes for when you’re sitting at the gas
station, sippin a cold one, waiting for your crew to
arrive.
I liked sides C and D most. (Tracks 9-15)
ALL TRACKS HAVE LANGUAGE – FCC

DJ Baku – “Goth-Trad, Saidrum, Bleeder” – [Self-release]

Thurston Hunger   1/30/2015   CD, Hip Hop


Y2K! Turn of the milennium, turntablism. Actually two disks,
the first one preferred by me with some fine flickery of the wrist
on steel wheels! Fader, pitch and other patches over tracks that
are already pretty heady. I could see a lot of people plying
the 2nd “Instrumental” disk with their own samples/mixes dropped
on top, or even just letting them run alone. Honestly, I’m a
little turned around, I think the instro disk is a bunch of pieces
by three different Japanese producers (Goth-Trad, Saidrum and
Bleeder) and then Baku busts out the ju-scatch-jitsu on the
first disk. If so, Bleeder’s two pieces are deep and dark,
“Wrong Trousers” moving through movie scores and stringing
tension, and “Rendomaccesssample” floating a funky flute through
a searching bass line. Really all six tracks are pretty dark,
Goth+Trad opens icily (sample from a Scooby Doo drop?) and
his closer “Alchemy” slow as a mad scientist walking up the
steps to his mountain top laboratory. Saidrum with two
“Eartifacts” the first found percussion in the world, maybe
a pachinko parlor? The second, an ear-worm burrowing bass, with
breathing appartus and chimes added on. All tracks are solid
but the scratching (and dropping in some vocals, maybe Dose One,
help make the first disk a wilder ride. Check out what he does
with the “Wrong Trousers” enhanced beyond mere pants! Zipper
cuts included! Looks like Baku has his own Pop Group imprint
still rolling, curious to see if he’s still on the experimental
tip. This was a nice find in the used bin by our Music Dept
truffle-sniffers! -Thurston Hunger

Medaphoar – “100 Dolla Bill” – [Stones Throw]

MSTiZA   1/7/2015   12-inch, Hip Hop

MED is west coast MC Medaphoar. He made his debut back in 1999 on the Lootpack album Soundpieces: Da Antidote. His track, Level Zero features Oh No(half of duo Gangrene and son of jazz trumpeter John Faddis). He shares post among SoCal’s(via Oxnard) vanguard including Madlib, Wildchild, and Oh No. This 2009 single is guaranteed the fire-y rap style from MED and the solid production of Madlib. Solid A & B sides, clean versions, and instrumentals delivered to add some rap slices to your menu.

DJ Qbert – “Extraterrestria” – [Thud Rumble]

MSTiZA   11/3/2014   CD, Hip Hop

Who is DJ Qbert? He is San Francisco[Excelsior neighborhood] native, Richard Quitevas. He is a member of the legendary Rock Steady Crew, co-founding member Invisibl Skratch Piklz, and world renown DMC Champion. It has been over 15 years since his last solo release, Wave Twisters (1998). This past summer he mobilized his fan base and generated over $100,000 to fund this double album project through social fundraising site, Kickstarter. Extraterrestria is one half of the project, GalaXXXian being the other half. Qbert is agile and adept. He builds a story of terrains, starting in the desert [1,2,4] in the east to western windstorms[5] to surf the deep sea waves [9]. Qbert scratches out percussion [3, 8, 10], let’s the graffiti go in Gotham city[6], and gets galactic [7]. Besides a few vocal samples, all tracks are instrumental. Extraterrestria sets the scene for DJ Qbert to capture your soul with Kung Fu master style Karate kuts, a fury of flicks in the mix, and scissor swift swipes.

DJ Qbert – “GalaXXXian” – [Thud Rumble]

MSTiZA   11/3/2014   CD, Hip Hop

GalaXXXian is one half of the double[2014] release from DJQbert[Invisibl Skratch Piklz, SF]. It appears that Qbert has partnered up with his homies. The artists & MCs obviously have a mutual respect for Qbert’s obvious skills. Emcee Roscoe Umali[1,12] has a vocal style and sound that I thought sounded along the lines of AWOL One, so it was no surprise he is out of LA. Kool Keith[2] drops the sci-fi freak out. Del[9] delivers galactic ganja raps. Use caution with the sexually illicit track, Kooty Kat [3],courtesy of P.E.A.C.E., of Freestyle Fellowship. Mr. Lif[4] rocks the mic while El-P mixes up some nostalgia reminiscent of Blue Flowers. Beats go from classic bboy breaks[12, 8] to hard hitting bongo bangra-esque [5] beats. Launch GalaXXXian and take a journey with astronomical MCs and scratch commander Qbert. FCC: 3,4,6,7,8,10,12 Intro:11