DAM is a Palestinian hip-hop group based in Lod, Israel. Formed in 1999 by brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar and friend Mahmoud Jreri, who are Arab citizens of Israel. They’ve spent over a decade performing globally. The music is a fusion of East and West combining Arabic rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies, and urban hip-hop vibes. This is their first release from 2006. You’ll hear an excerpt of a speech by President Nasser, children, oud, bouzouki, rap and conscious tell-it-like-it-is lyrics – that you probably can’t understand. The English lyrics are in the booklet. AArbor
Killer martial arts mix by producer DJ Paul Nice. Originally from Poughkeepsie, he relocated to Manhattan in the ’90s and eventually spent some time out here making a big name for himself, “one of the more sought after beatsmiths during the thriving indie hip hop scene of the late 90’s.” This is funky, instrumental hip hop beats with sample clips from various kung fu films. Fun, upbeat and black belt worthy!
Pacific Yew is a pacific coast evergreen conifer that ranges from the Klamath Mountains to the fjords of British Columbia that has a habit of rotting from the inside, creating hollow forms as it grows extremely slowly, much like these flourishing disjointed rhythms that grow slowly, spreading into the host of your psyche. this Oakland new wave r&b pioneer feels like some Lonnie Holley Scott-Heron bedroom pop, soulful singing set over simple grooves. lo-fi, like the skeletal tree forms that are ageless in their imperceptibility. the seed cones and berry-like structures spread around easily, as I’m sure this record has wide appeal that should make it around the airwaves smoothly.
From 1998 this is a 3-track record with jazzy grooves, dubbed out hip-hop beats, and ethnic rhythms. You’ll hear classic jazz breakbeats, live instruments and even some spoken word. It was their first release and only release together. Boom Bip went on to record many more records, Osiris only a few. AArbor
Delicious beats and saxophone samples galore in this 2010 project from SF producer and DJ Mophono. A perfect mix of great sampling and driving beats, this Mophono project is sure to keep your head glued to the hypnotic pulses and over samples that would make Quantic blush. Released on Bastard Jazz this is the perfect recipe to keep your head bobbing and the rhythm flowing. The flip side to this EP is remixed by “Sinicism” in a wicked beat down of percussive sound that is sure to enhance that bluntish beat in all of you.
Funky, bluesy, original. beats put down by Oakland’s own Fantastic Negrito. As polished as it might seem on the surface, this 2020 release, “Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?”, brings together elements of jazz, blues, funk, rock, and plenty of soul. Not to mention there is ample amounts of emotional energy and hard biting lyrics found through out the tracks on this beautiful translucent green vinyl platter. Full of up beat tempos, hard driving beats, and plenty of heart felt soul, it’s a perfect LP to slip into a multitude of blues and funk sets. Mind the FCC’s
Two CDs full of Japanese hip hop from 1995-2000. A variety of outfits with lyrics mostly in Japanese, although if you listen really carefully you’ll catch some FCC language hiding amidst the intense vocals and rhythms. I liked the variety and the Japanese-ness of the hip hop, although sadly all the liner notes and a number of the tracks were not only in Japanese but in Kanji. AArbor
Zeroh (aka Edwin Liddie Jr.) sure adds up, when he sings “We are one but not the same” he’s talking about the message and the means at work here. During the sonic storm of “Sworn Free” a lion’s voice rises above to howl “Who am I?” If his identity follows the tricky steps of his voice, then the chase is on. His vocals get stretched, flexed, multiplexed and digitally pockmarked, he pulls the bass down a lot, but can lift up his falsetto and sting. The album has flow, but it’s a darker ooze that floats all tracks, the album does not come up for breaths from one track to the next. Like the world, it can almost pull Zeroh and the listener under. The fluid nature features trace elements of Detroit techno where Zeroh spent time as well as puffs of Los Angeles psychedelic smog-hop post that Project Blowed helped huff and where Edwin is currently flipping lids. The lead-off title track is a dizzy blender of sample and sound, by the time we hit “Hydro” the sound is spun backwards, dammed and damned with scorpions, ninjas and Julie Andrews all drifting between the tick and tock waves, he shipwrecks hard from that into choppy vox and rocks of percussion. Then submerges into a void before emerging into an amazing quick breather “You Can’t Unsee It.” Another high point : “The Lord & Nature” which feels like a Conlon Nancarrow rip, check out how Zeroh rests it but then cardiac arrests it. The album has definite psychoactive elements, CIA burnt spoons and shroom in ashrams, holy smoke and Ras G (RIP) residue. The lyrics are a swirl of consciousness and again spun through vocal/robo filters. Zeroh speaks of being “blessed by predecessors” and winds up “reflecting on the water like a buddhist” his stirring of beats pours out a worthy weird elixir, lyrically he looks to turn the tide. Clarity in murkiness.
Zeroh Won, count on him. Sidewalk Surfer grinding on these grooves.
mud city all-star collab from underground legend Sharkula and Hausu co-founder Max Allison. truly a mythical figure in Chi-town, Sharkula made his name heavy grinding, selling CDs and posting flyers, built from the street up. Mukqs met him at a local Burger King and told him he was gonna make him some beats, proceeded to live construct some chaos production with synths, drum machines, looper, and sampler, complete with 16-bar intros, verses, and chorus for Sharkula to lay out his free-association word pasta. there’s an infectious familiarity to Sharkula’s verses, an unabashed originality, like he’s just having a conversation with the listener, or with Mukq’s noise-infected video-game techno beats. crumbling alien urban soundscapes
Nnamdi – Brat
Chicago based, multi- instrumentalist. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from UoC, so I’m guessing the expertly layered production values his 4th studio album is his own doing. He also the founder of Sooper Records (The label this record is on) and has been in too many bands to count. He has presented us with a great mix of Avant pop, jazz, folk, hip hop, electro-soul. It’s gorgeous, lush, and dreamy. His vocals are soft and floaty—a understated falsetto, with *maybe* a touch of autotune. This is pretty emotionally sexy. We it have filed under hip-hop, but it would fit under soul or A as well. CLEAN COPY
Gender non- conforming Queer Black artist from Oakland. This immediately stood out to me because of the obvious danceability of the music, but also because of the way they weave deeply personal & confessional lyrics through the electronic beats. The consciousness here—of self (in the wake of a HIV diagnosis), the new reality of their world, the universe itself, is all on display. At times its extremely meditative in a drug fueled journaling kind of way, and a reminder that even extreme pain can still see flashes of joy through light and movement. MaHaWaM, aka Malik Mays, grew up in a Religious Family from the East Coast before they relocated to San Antonio, and eventually Arizona, where they studied Creative Writing and Music in 2012. Although I would consider this experimental electronic Hip Hop, the influences of R&B and Gospel, and an early interest in Classical music and poetry is all evident in their work. They have lived in Oakland since 2013. FCC on tracks 3-5
damn, you know im gonna dig it when they kick off the album w/ an ELO sample (Tbag, Minor..?) Experimental hip-hop / trap-soul / etc from Seattle originally from California. this falls under the “cloud rap” genre umbrella that fits so well in the PNW – woozy, dizzy, spellbinding. she tags grunge and I don’t think that’s just a geographical coincidence; there’s this raw, unfiltered delivery, she brings all of herself to this and lays it all out there, naked for all to see (not just a reference to the album cover). this is personal, this is real, plain-spoken and direct. she was 24 when she released this and she keeps producing forward thinking, genre bending music. keep an eye out, she’s gonna fly past us if she hasn’t already.
Hip hop out of Oakland from James Wavey aka Alleyes Manifest aka Michael Bridgmon. This is trippy experimental psych- jazz- stoner funk- poetry. Chill, smart, & topical, with cleverly layered mixes, and intelligent word play. Lots of FCCs. All marked.
Beans, AKA Robert Stewart, is a New York rapper and producer who’s a founding member of Antipop Consortium. As part of Thirsty Ear’s Blue Series of jazz collaborations, Beans worked with jazz bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake on this 2006 album. Beans contributes vocals on half of the 10 tracks, and electronic samples and mixes on all of them. It is an interesting but not mind-blowing, mix of electronic, hip-hop and jazz, The electronic music is by turns spacey, glitchy & droney. Parker’s and Drake’s contributions are solid. Many of the vocal tracks (“4” & “198” FCCs) tend to stand alone as hip-hop (“20” being an exception). Even where styles merge, there isn’t a lot of mingling and it becomes all too easy to tune out after the first two tracks (“5” and “1”). Perfectly fine, but not arresting.
Wax-stackin’, needle-breaking, vinyl-jockey, DJ T-Rock from North Carolina. This is the world’s best scrath DJ on his first release from 1999 off of Bomb Hip-Hop Records, and it is one-of-a-kind. T-Rock works with a complete arsenal of sounds to create a constant, fast-flowing, sometimes hard to follow beat. Scratching that will melt your face and vocal samples that keep you under its spell. Alien invasions and killer robots. This is the real deal.
A trippy reworking of Solange Knowles 2016 critically acclaimed album, A Seat At The Table, by KO (aka LA based Producer/DJ/ Rapper, Dominique Purdy). These side-long mixes could technically be played as one really long mix with actual cuts from the album it was drawn from spliced in…or you can just drop the needle. You hear bits of Knowles vocals, spoken dialogue from the original album celebrating black pride & culture– while highlighting history & racism, and plenty of delicious looped beats. He has even taken her original cover art and added the signature wolf mask that he wears when promoting and performing as KO. He considers this work homage to an album that, while on the periphery of the mainstream, (she is the younger sister of “Queen Bey”) has been celebrated as Avant & an alternative deep modern soul masterpiece. If this grabs you, definitely check out Solange’s full album and subsequent work….This album sends that message.
This 2016 sci-fi concept album is the defining work from LA experimental hip-hop group clipping. Over the ten years of its existence, the harsh noise-meets-hip-hop trio has found unlikely fame, thanks in part to the success of frontman Daveed Diggs, who rose to international superstardom as a member of the original cast of Hamilton. His aggressive rapping is supported by the extreme noise-inspired beats of producers Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson.
Splendor and Misery (named for an unfinished Samuel Delaney novel) tells the story of an uprising on a space-slaveship that leaves behind a single survivor, Cargo 2331. With nowhere to navigate, he hurtles through the universe alone, saved from complete madness by half-remembered rap verses, old spirituals, and his relationship with the ship’s onboard A.I. Highlights from the space odyssey include the gospel hymns “Long Way Away” (A6) and “Story 5” (B5), the stunning reworking of a traditional slave song on “True Believer” (A8), and the violent climax “Baby Don’t Sleep” (B6). Blasts of noise, stirring spirituals, secret ciphers, hidden codes, modern references, and ancient myths are all threads in the tragic story, a struggle for freedom that transcends genre, time, and space.
FCCs: B2 B4 B6 B7
25th Anniversary LP release of a 1995 Originally hand-made cassette, now the stuff of legend. These young men of the Bay Area Hip-Hop underground are scrappy and intelligent; gifted wordsmiths rapping about life as they knew it – The San Francisco Bay Area of the early 90s, when young artists like themselves might still be able to survive by working hard and not being afraid to take credit for their success. This is a slice of life, and it listens like a series of recording sessions and street corner jams, caught on tape. Private asides, background noise, sound bites, atmospheric blips, and brilliant improvisations.
RP Boo (Kavain Space) is one of the founders of Chicago footwork, an amazing musical style that is as interesting to watch as it is to listen to. “I’ll Tell You What” is RP Boo’s third official album. It is an intense, ear shatteringly jarring exploration of sound and vocal samples broken up and down into their most basic parts, repeated continuously to proceed with the footwork exploration of rhythm anti-rhythm. If you could take sound, beats and vocals and throw them against glass then watch them all shatter, then listen to what was left…this might begin to give an idea of what is happening. Limited vocal samples tell the stories of cultural war, antagonism, belonging, love, success. It seems simple but could be missed if not listened to. The beats start and stop, propel, crunch, echo, bounce… all within seconds at times. Then there is space, emptiness while one minimal beat or vocal phrase is repeated. And repeated. And repeated. This is such a unique, challenging sound, and it’s been around for over 20 years. Experimental hip hop? Avant garde electronic dance music? It’s much more than all of that. Thank the spirits there are RP Boo’s in this world.
2018 beat tape, the fifth in a series from the Boxcutter Brothers, a collaboration between California beatmaker Drasar Monumental and Ayatollah, a prolific producer from Queens. On Side A, Drasar represents the West Coast with five tracks of dense and adventurous sampling, (including some Bollywood dance tunes on A3, dark piano loops and electro beats on A4 and A5). But despite the beautiful backing tracks, the feel on this side is aggressive, violent, and razor sharp. Side B cuts the other way – Ayatollah delivers the more laid-back of the two sides, but it still crushes. Killer soul samples, heavy beats, and a couple of cameos from Sun Ra (B5- amazing) and Barry White (B6). From local SF label 77 Rise. FCCs on A1, A4, A5
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