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Music Reviews

Beans/Parker, Williams/Drake, Hamid – “Only” – [Thirsty Ear Recordings]

Medusa of Troy   10/2/2019   CD, Hip Hop

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.

DJ T-Rock – “Who’s Your Daddy” – [Bomb Hip-Hop Records]

mickeyslim   9/25/2019   CD, Hip Hop

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.

Koreatown Oddity, The – “A Beat At The Table” – [self released]

cadilliac margarita   9/18/2019   12-inch, Hip Hop

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.  

clipping. – “Splendor and Misery” – [Deathbomb Arc]

lexi glass   8/20/2019   12-inch, Hip Hop

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

SFSM – “Word Of Mouth” – [True Hip Hop]

cadilliac margarita   5/29/2019   12-inch, A Library, Hip Hop


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 – “I’ll Tell You What!” – [Timesig/Planet Mu Records Ltd.]

Naysayer   3/11/2019   CD, Hip Hop

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.

Boxcutter Brothers 5 [coll] – [77Rise Recordings]

lexi glass   10/15/2018   Cassette, Hip Hop

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

Oso Blanco – “Heartbreak Kid” – [77Rise Recordings]

lexi glass   5/15/2018   Cassette, Hip Hop

Beats to buck you up when you’ve got the blues, from LA producer Oso Blanco. Flipping a soul sample is a tried and true, and sometimes tired, beatmaking formula, but it’s done really well here, at times with the creativity of the legends themselves, Dilla and Madlib. There’s also weird touches that give this a sound all its own – glitches and skips, blasts of electronic noise, samples that dissolve into sine waves or swerve off the rails like they’re being played on one of our ancient tape decks (don’t worry I checked, it’s supposed to sound that way!) – that will either catch your interest or harsh your vibe. Still there’s some good, head nodding sections, and I might’ve stood up and danced when one of my favorite jams came into the mix about 20 minutes in on the A side. Though the tape’s instrumental, there’s lots of samples from (mostly breakup) movies, some with dirty words, sooo: FCCs on both sides.

Tech N9ne – “Slacker” – [Strange Music]

kato   3/26/2018   12-inch, Hip Hop

 

 

 

 

Nice lil’ single from Tech N9ne bringing us that Midwest rap with the hard boom bap. Lyrics aren’t as fast-paced as some of the raps that have given his style recognition but it will definitely still get you movin’. This single has the radio version, the album version, the instrumental, and the acapella version. Radio version and instrumental run about 3:52 and album and acapella versions run about 4:04, it’s unfortunate that the album version skips at the end and worse still that the instrumental skips right at the beginning, also the album version contains FCC’s. Just put this here plate on yer record spinner and enjoy.

Kleenrz, The – “Season 2” – [Self Produced]

milo   10/25/2017   12-inch, Hip Hop

Witty, dark, gritty, post-apocalyptic horror-core hip-hop. The beats are bangin’ and the rhymes are crammed in there with baffling complexity and frequency. The one or two duds are a small price to pay for the rest of the album.

Natural Swing – “Lo-finders” – [Dezi-Belle Records]

Kai Sync   1/11/2017   12-inch, Hip Hop

 

Natural Swing delivers 20 short instrumental and chill hip hop tracks designed as abstract melody concepts with lots of warble, mud, scratched vinyl noise and sonic wobble with this 2016 release. This is very much underground hip hop with a stream of consciousness approach to samples and compositions that could be composed today with various computer tools to extend samples into more dreamlike expansions. This results lead to experiences of short bursts of introspection into unknown areas that maybe even the originators didn’t expect themselves. Some of the highlight tracks — for me — was LFO, Trane and Goodie, mostly due to the jazz influenced chord sequences. This kind of broken beat art maybe works best in small doses.

Id The Poet – “We Work Epic” – [Tidepool Music]

Arcanum   10/26/2016   CD, Hip Hop

ID the Poet is a Hip Hop artist raised in LA who now lives in San Diego. iD does most of his own production using Ableton, Protools, and live instrumentation on a Macbook. This is the first of two EP’s. Tracks 4 and 5 were my stand out favorites with the last 30 seconds of track 5 going into a nice switch to take it out. Language on track 2 FCC warning BULLSH*T.

Elektro4 – “Archaeometry” – [Heardrums Records]

Kai Sync   10/19/2016   12-inch, Hip Hop

 

This is Elektro4’s (Mike Schofield) 2016 release full of psychedelic-soul instrumental hiphop tracks — kind of like The Avalanches on acid or if Orb would suddenly get inspired by the NYC scene. The beats create canvases with introverted movie-style scenarios and oddities appear and disappear between the speakers. This is the closest you could get to a pre-dawn hip hop party where alternate realities are explored. The fascination with other cultures make entrance on many tracks, including dubby side tours. Note the tracks melt into each other so you need to catch the transition from one song to the next. This one is a great include of underground hiphop into our library.

Brrwd Love- Vol. 1

cadilliac margarita   6/29/2016   10-inch, Hip Hop

A creative collab between friends REPEAT PATTERN & TA-KU,

This collection features both of them on a few traks along with other friends

And emerging artists. Dreamy bedroom beats, samples, loops.

Incoherent lyrical content. The most abrasive track is A4???s Divison,

filled with scrapes, cuts, and heavy breathing. Mostly it???s pretty mellow sound

snapshots with many layers and elements. You will catch something

new with every listen. All tracks a pretty cool, but Primm (B3) is my

personal favorite because of the 1970s easy listening flute intro

and underlying current.

 

 

<3<3<3 Caddy

Dalek – “Asphalt For Eden” – [Deadverse]

Louie Caliente   6/19/2016   CD, Hip Hop

After a 5-year hiatus, Dalek is back with another album of dark industrial hip-hop. Big walls of warm sound encompass angry quasi-political vocals. Heavy old-school beats and looped samples are soaked in fuzzy guitar feedback and soaring synths. Elements of drone, noise, ambient and shoegaze. Lyrics deal with themes of war, consumerism, and mass media. Check out the Chomsky sample on track 6.

Track 5 is instrumental. Track 1 is clean.

FCCs on 2, 3, 4, 6, 7.

Antwon – “Double Ecstasy” – [Anticon]

abacus   6/1/2016   12-inch, Hip Hop

newest EP release from LA-based rapper with south-bay roots; this is some real Bay Shit to an almost ironic extent: bingeing on local crunk/trap genre tropes in a hedonistic self-loathing purge. the lyrical content leans tongue-stuffed-cheek like the sex-obsessed 16 year old he always will be gettin loose in the club. his punk/hardcore background shows in the humor, with an i-don’t-give-a-fuck delivery, equally juvenile as it is critical while constantly maintaining personal elucidation. apparently he spent the past five years in isolation writing/recording this; i’d hate the world too.

Encryption Cipher [coll] – [Tuff Sound]

Arcanum   5/31/2016   12-inch, Hip Hop

Warning. Music is not always what it seems. FCC’s everywhere on everything and b3 has none in engrish that I can tell. took me a minute to groove into this collection and Boaz’s take me away is probably my favorite with the last track called roots calabash coming a close second. This is encryption cipher. Bass Heavy. Filthy Pirate Language. Action Bronson will take you to a new york delicatessen after the underground hookah lounge.

KAER/ KEGS [coll] – [Sublevel Epidemic]

Arcanum   5/31/2016   7-inch, Hip Hop

Backpack type hip hop. FCC FREE Each track accompanied by the instrumental fo yah mental. A side instr. 3:30~ Latin.Cubano.Piano.Guitar samples. quantized bass/ drum kit .
B side instr. 4:20~ Harp.Woodwind. Drum Kit shuffle snares. Vocal Sample.

Mykki Blanco – “Gay Dog Food” – [Ormolycka]

Louie Caliente   5/10/2016   12-inch, Hip Hop

Raw punk hip-hop mix-tape from Mykki Blanco, aka Michael Quattlebaum. Heavy industrial beats and pounding synths. Distorted grinds and gritty samples. Think Death Grips with less anger and more bounce.

Excellent rapping by Mykki and a cast of friends, including Cakes da Killa, Cities Aviv, and Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre).

First and last tracks are instrumental. FCCs on almost all others.

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