Mint.Beats – “LVLZ” – [Needle to the Groove]

MSTiZA   5/16/2023   Cassette, Hip Hop

Mint.Beats is a Bay Area based multi-instrumentalist and producer. Tracks carry a nostalgia of spring mornings and petrichor, misting you with small samples and manifesting simpler times. They briefly dazzle with twinkling keys and easy vibes. There are subverted references to boom bap, jazz, soundscapes, analog, noise, and vocal samples, pulled together with thoughtful production. The tracks piece together as short snippets to create a window to look out of in bedroom production. Tracks are brief, just enough to wet the palette. So tickle your taste and bite into a few tracks to get a greater feel for the subtleties.

FCC: 3

Sundur – “Somewhere There’s Music” – [Needle To the Groove]

MSTiZA   3/7/2023   A Library, CD

Remember trip hop? If you want to be revisited by the ghost of DJ Shadow, Healamonster & Tarsier, and Portishead, but need an update to the mix? This is for you. Somewhere There’s Music(2021) was recorded remotely during the pandemic. Sundur is a collaboration with vocalist Savannah Lancaster(LA) and DJ Platurn(Oakland) handling production. The album was received well by a few KCRW hosts which landed it in some top of 2021 playlists. It is still on mine. Like the label it’s released on, San Jose’s very own Needle to the Groove, this album is a sleeper, still falling under the radar yet deserving the attention of KFJC & beyond. The songs are filled with trip hop nostalgia. Lancaster‘s vocals introduce the album dripping a melodic syrupy lullaby[1], while her writing is personal, thoughtful, and sentimental throughout. Adam Theis, leader & founder of Jazz Mafia(Bay Area), contributes on horns on Heart of Stone[2], with broody vox a la Beth Gibbons(Portishead)[2,4].The title track- Somewhere There’s Music-sizzles with soft bop drums and breathy vocals that fill the air with enchantments of Billie Holiday and Max Roach. You can credit Max McVeety, of Crown City Rockers, on drums & Kicker Dixon on keys. Heady[4] drops a blues funk bassline nodding to Shuggie Otis’ Inspiration Information and we’re cruising down the El Camino in a 70’s Cadillac. Platurn, is a member of the Oakland Faders DJ crew. Platurn consistently delivers textured beats. Platurns ability to layer sounds with precision to create mystery and ambiance show his knowledge of the genre and his years in the music industry. Platurn understands when less is more, allowing the music to shift and breathe (Aging Soul, TIme is Now, Let Me Back In). Time is Now[7] is the one track that anchors itself in our times, speaking to the social climate of BLM that we faced in the early pandemic. Let Me Back In[10], featuring bassist Max Juarez, returns to the spooky and melancholic vibes. To the Top[11] slides in the whispery cries of strings courtesy of Max Juarez. The tracks are smartly arranged to create a complete listening experience when listened to in order while the individuality and intensity of each track stand on their own.

Instrumental: 6,11

FCC: 7,8

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

Chrystal Oak – “Post Romanticism” – [Hiss Tapes]

MSTiZA   4/9/2014   Cassette, Hip Hop

Chrystal Oaks is Swedish rapper, Prosperous. According to his bandcamp page, Prosperous has been on the Swedish Rap Scene in crews PLANT OF TRAILS, ASSIMILATED SPECIES, and BRIEFCASE ROCKERS. This release is from the Finnish Hiss Tapes cassette label. Considering that Prosperous has collaborated with Subtitle, it’s no surprise that the tracks are experimental and alternative hip hop. There isn’t little to interpret, his skills rapping in English are clear. There are noisier elements in several tracks, begging the question as to what is used in production. With a growing trend in indie hip hop heading towards angst/rap/scatter/assault, this cassette is refreshing. It’s more palatable for those fearful of the more aggressive sounds. I am looking forward to learning more about Prosperous, his previous releases, and the Swedish rap scene.

Theppabutr Productions [coll] – [Light in the Attic]

MSTiZA   4/9/2014   12-inch, International

This is a Record Store Day 2013 collaboration between the Seattle based label Light In The Attic Records & the Thai label ZudRangMa. Compiled on this release is a collection of recordings produced by Theppabutr Satirodchompu. The Molam sounds is rooted in Loas, was traditionally folk music, and includes several genres (poetical, storytelling, country poetry, theatrical troupe, shadow puppet, and healing). Theppabutr Productions was born from a career as a musician, heavily influenced by the popular US sounds, then radio & television. He began to Disc Jockey; spinning US hits that influenced his sound. He moved on to TV where his band would play as the featured act. Theppabutr brought the eastern Thai or Isan to radio and TV. His path led to recording and producing musicians and artists, creating a network of Molam musicians. Through adversity, he became the pioneer in modernizing the Molam sound. Traditional instruments get the experimental treatment, the thai folk sound gets funked up.

RP Boo – “Legacy” – [Planet Mu Records Ltd.]

MSTiZA   4/2/2014   CD, Hip Hop

This is RP Boo’s first solo release. Previously his work has been featured on Planet Mu comps. He is known as a pioneer of the Chicago electronic beat movement known as footwork. Footwork is truly a genre of it’s own. The dance that accompanies these sounds blends house and breakdance into it own spastic footwork based style, hence the name. It is frenetic, repetitive, disjointed, rhythmic, anti-rhythmic, and much more or less. Boo is a zeitgeist for this scene.

White Mic – “Fighting Off Success” – [Hiss Tapes]

MSTiZA   1/9/2014   Cassette, Hip Hop

This is the cassette release of the 2012 album. This cassette comes to KFJC via Hiss Tapes a label out of Finland. White Mic is one of the original members of Bored Stiff. White Mic delivers a direct take on aging in the independent hip hop world. With little effort he takes strides approaching the subject. There is no burden to carry in his endeavor to articulate this paradigm. He is clear in his delivery. This is a refreshing voice from a man in an genre in which the artists or MCs don’t get infinite opportunities to withstand the changing of the culture. The sound is filled with nostalgic but innovative beats and delivery while remaining grounded. Tune in to this and turn it up.

Statik Selektah – “Extended Play” – [Duck Down]

MSTiZA   9/18/2013   CD, Hip Hop

This is very new york, east coast, big horn, banging, hog style, hip hop. All star packed guests [Smif & Wessun, Tony Touch, Nroeaga, Black Thought, Prodigy, Raekwon, Talib Kweli…] Even the Alchemist makes an appearance. Expect some of the cleanest rpoduction & seasoned sampling, from SS, veteran from the golden era of hip hop. Not anyone can get as close to this sound and the all star cast of MCs. So lock it in on extended play.
Fave tracks: 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Shalmaneser – “New Prime, The” – [Doubtful Palace Music]

MSTiZA   9/18/2013   A Library, CD

I am having the hardest time writing this review while listening to the music. It is ADHD on ectasy. It’s hyperactive with moments of subtlety. But like a pre pubescent teen in a room with the opposite sex, there is an impulse to slobber all over the beauty in the room. I think in a few years it will be worth another go around. It’s not genius, but for what it amounts to as juvenile, it’s equally cute and strange. Fortunately, you don’t have to face a mouth full of braces to dive into this.

Doomtree – “No Kings” – [Doomtree Records]

MSTiZA   9/16/2013   CD, Hip Hop

This the latest from the Doomtree Family though it is from 2011. Several of artists are touring this year and have work in cue. This release doesn’t rely heavily on a studio sound. So be thankful. It’s got bang and bass; clever cadences and quick wit. I kind of think this stands apart from the artists’ solo releases because of the team spirit. That energy is clearly what makes the label and the artists stand apart. So keep your ears on the next from this team- solo or collabo: Lazerbeak, Cecil Otter, Mike Mctlan, Dessa, Sims, Paper Tiger, & P.O.S..

Insane Warrior, The – “We Are The Doorways” – [Electrical Connections]

MSTiZA   5/15/2013   CD, Hip Hop

Some say it’s an alter ego, I say it’s his genius. In 2011, RJD2 released this album as the Insane Warrior. It is supposedly inspired by 70???s sci-fi and horror flicks. The insanity may be the full indulgence , a head on leap into the lap of cheesy, whipped up, superr sick synth. I consider this more of a concept album. It has to be. The synth takes the spotlight. And when it does you get everything from blacksploitation, Beverly Hills Cop(3), 2001 A Space Oddessy(4), (1)Steve Wonder???s album, The Secret Life of Plants (one of my personal SW favorites), nearly the stairway to heaven on xylophone with rainsticks? NO? NO.. (6), yacht rock(7). Still RJD2 sounds are ever present(2) Six months ago this album was near rejection but second and thirds listens really made this album stick. AllI had to do is wait for it. All tracks instrumental.

Hermit of The Woods – “Land of The Lotus Eaters” – [Endemik Music]

MSTiZA   5/15/2013   CD, Hip Hop

What does the midwest and Halifax, Nova Scotia have in common? First, they are both light years from Hollywood. Second, it seems that the decca decade has yet to invade the culture. Hermit of the Woods, is Canadian rapper and spoken word artist who, in my opinion, cherishes the isolation from consumer culture. There is a mix of dark interludes with spoken word raps that will throw you back to the early aughts. The album is not perfect and it is better off for it. Track 2 reaches a place where it seems Busdriver met theDeftones in a smoky bar. But it works, only because it wasn???t the whole album AND there are music lovers who cream over that shit. Fortunately, other tracks may reminisce of Tricky, Sleep, and for that it???s a fair release. If Hermit stays in the woods, I expect it will just get better.

Bay Blue – “S/T” – [Anticon.]

MSTiZA   1/30/2013   12-inch, A Library

Bay Blue aka Matth, born Matt Chang. Roots out of the Bay Area via Pacifica. Here’s?? a record that the guy wanted to put out. The sample artist and producer has laid together a nice story. Rainy jazz mornings, mid-day blues breaks, kin folk freak out (sorta), to sunny afternoon big band all done with the greatest ease. No pretension, just a relaxed style that only a vinyl lover could do. This would have been a nice cassette.

Georgia Sea Island Singers – “Join The Band” – [Mississippi Records]

MSTiZA   1/9/2013   12-inch, Blues

The Georgia Sea Island Singers were a folk ensemble that formed in the early 1900s. They traveled performing songs. They are descendants of slaves who identify as Gullah. ??The members have changed over the years. There have been a handful of recordings. And the lineup has included Bessie Jones, Joe Armstrong, Mable Hillery, and Frankie SUllivan Quimby. This release was recorded by Alan Lomax in St. Simons Island, Georgia in Oct. ’59. Additional recording took place in April ’60 in Williamsburg Virginia. Alan Lomax was a musicologist, wtriter and producer who spent most of his life in the pursuit of archiving American folk musicians throughout the mid-south west and it’s nearing territories. his is a collaboration between Alan Lomax Archive and Mississippi Records. It’s is a beautiful testimony to the heritage that the Gullah kept alive.

Dessa – “Castor The Twin” – [Doomtree Records]

MSTiZA   1/7/2013   CD, Hip Hop

Dessa, a member of the Doom tree family. Her sophomore release is much more achieved and matured. Possiby even too mature for non cmommercial radio. In no way is this an insult to either party. Simply, it begs the question- where do mature female rappers/song writers belong? In college radio? It’s moody and honest; sometimes story telling in song. A talented backing band creates the moods with guests like Cecil Otter on Mandolin.


Deacon, Dan – “America” – [Domino Recording Company]

MSTiZA   1/7/2013   A Library, CD

About “America”, classically trained musician and composer, Dan Deacon writes that he never felt American until he left the United States. He continues that the composiitions are, at their core, “juxtapositions of fundamentally opposed ideologies that make up the American landscape”. There is a richness in the misanthropic beat that blends atypical beauty with a soft surrealism. He has done more accesible things in the past. This 2012 release isn’t a strech from his style, but an upward dog.

Kool Keith – “Legend of Tashan Dorrsett, The” – [Fat Beats]

MSTiZA   11/14/2012   12-inch, Hip Hop

The Legend of Tashan Dorrsett takes the original album, minus the bonus tracks, and remixes them. This also features the instrumental remixes. If “The Legend of Tashan..” was a hobo. No, if “The :egend of Tashan..” was a prostitute, then this release is like letting her take a hot shower and buying her a new dress. Not dinner, just a shower and a new dress. Instead of dropping her off on her same old corner, she’s let loose on the small town boulevard where no one knows she’s more than familiar with the streets. At the local dive she’s exotic and the men lap at her heels. She gets to choose, instead of be chosen. All is good when an old bag still has new tricks. The Legend lets the beats shine, outfitting the instrumentals ??on it’s own 12″. Pimp it on clean sheets while you can.


FCC: A2, A3, A5, A6, B2, B5

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