Music Reviews

Bodikhuu – “Tokyo” – [Farsi]

aarbor   5/24/2023   12-inch, Hip Hop

Bodikhuu lives in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and creates hip hop in his home with “the luxury of my own privacy and space”. This is his newest release which is about Japan – which he has never visited. “I wanted to portray the ’80s Japanese atmosphere through my style… it represents the tremendously busy lifestyle of Tokyo – subway stations, roads, towers, factories, monotonous and lonely lives of people in it. Even though I have never been there this is my way of saying that I have seen the place. All the samples come from city pop, j-pop, Japanese jazz & funk music”. Don’t miss! AArbor

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

Myka 9 – “Teleported 3” – [Known Shadows]

karma   5/2/2023   CD, Hip Hop

Myka 9 is an underground hip-hop artist based in LA, part of the Freestyle Fellowship collective, active since the 80s. His innovative flow has been compared to what Miles Davis did to jazz. His lyrics, which are thought-provoking, deep, and require multiple listens, have been compared to De La Soul. This is the third of a four-part series based on a sci-fi horror comic. The instrumentation is done by the talented Bay Area-based Freematik, who has collaborated with Myka 9 on many projects in the past. The instrumentation and lyrics transport you into their world, and show the gift both of them have for transcribing their worldview into introspective song. This is thoughtful hip-hop that proves how rap is one of the purest forms of poetry set to music.

My favorite tracks are Chronix, Cold, and Sensei.

Madlib – “Madlib Medicine Show No. 3 Beat Konducta In Africa” – [Madlib Invazion]

aarbor   3/21/2023   CD, Hip Hop

Madlib takes you to Africa. Like the Beat Konducta in India, this is 43 short tracks of mostly instrumental hip-hop album produced by Madlib, inspired by and based on African records of the early 1970s: obscure and independent vinyl gems from afro-beat, funk, psych-rock, garage-rock and soul from Africa. This release is a part of the the Beat Konducta series as well as the Madlib Medicine Show series. Medicine Show from 2010-11 was intended to be a monthly series with the odd month releases featuring Madlib’s production work, while even months showcased DJ work and mixing skills. AArbor

Black Milk – “Tronic” – [Fat Beats]

Mister S   10/19/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

West Coast hip hop. Lyrically thoughtful and complementary beats and production to match. 

Snappy snare beats along with the sounds of the 808. Horns, keyboards and piano.

Similar to the sounds and flow of Madlib produced records. DJ Premier and Sean Price guest on tracks.

FCC’s to be aware of. Soul Patrol and Lurker friendly and any others that enjoy the hip hop beats and great samples.

Surreal & The Sound Providers – “True Indeed” – [Abb Records]

cinder   9/7/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

Jazzy hip hop raps from some crate diggin’ dudes. The Soul Providers are a duo (Jason Skills & Soulo) that hailed from San Diego, citing Gang Starr and the Native Tongue Posse as influences, although I get major De La Soul vibes as well. They collaborated with emcee Surreal for this release, back in 2006. Great storytelling lyrics that seem uplifting and happy, almost wholesome but not like, dorky. He’s not getting gansta….in one song he’s talking about his life and it seems he found God, but it’s not an overwhelming theme throughout. The beats are jazzzzy and sick! Fun rekkid! 

Diverse – “Jus Biz” – [Chocolate Industries]

Mister S   8/7/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

12″ Vinyl

2004 Release

Produced by Madlib

DJ Norman Rockwell Side A

DJ Sapien Side B

Great beats and samples in the Madlib tradition. Vocal tracks contain FCC’s, DJ’s beware. Favorite track is Beyond, Beyond from the b-side. 2nd favorite is also on th b-side, the instrumental track from Beyond, Beyond. Dig it!

La Doña – “Algo Nuevo” – [Self Release]

puplaif   3/15/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

La Doña is Cecilia Peña-Govea and she does exactly what she wants. La Doña operates across multiple spheres of influence, as a daughter, an educator, as an artist in a constant state of change.  Growing up in San Francisco, she started playing in her family’s mariachi band at the age of 7 where she learned to play trumpet.  La Doña is very proud to have self-released Algo Nuevo in 2020. 

La Doña boldly presents her feminist perspective through poetic, lyrical messages that cover topics from gentrification to the push and pull of love. Spanish is the dominant language throughout the album, with sprinkles of English on a few bilingual tracks. Set to genre-blending rhythms, La Doña incorporates elements of Bay Area hip hop, reggaeton, son jarocho, and more. The overall sound is catchy and highly dance-able. 100% hyphey maravilla. ¡Que la disfruten!

Epps, Stacy – “Awakening, The” – [Japanubia Musik]

puplaif   2/15/2022   CD, Hip Hop

all aboard the mothership. it’s 2008 and our captain is the multifaceted femcee, vocalist, artist, and human extraordinaire Stacy Epps. “The Awakening” is Epp’s debut solo album, a humble offering from her heart. 

it sounds like…

a boom bap dream. vocal clouds traverse sampled looped landscapes. the lyrical healer brings love and light. conscious messages of oneness and lived experience expressed through multiple voices.  tracks melt from one to the next, unfolding with surprising distinction. give it a listen to find out which ones you like. 

Dam – "Dedication" – [Red Circle Music]

aarbor   10/20/2021   CD, Hip Hop

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

DJ Paul Nice – "Shaolin Buddha Beat Mix" – [Mdfm]

cinder   6/5/2021   CD, Hip Hop

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 – "(((( Bathing ))))" – [Hot Record Society]

abacus   3/9/2021   Cassette, Hip Hop

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.

Boom Bip & DJ Osiris – "Low End Sequence EP, The" – [Mush]

aarbor   2/17/2021   12-inch, Hip Hop

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

Mophono’s Halftone Society – “Sinicism Ep, The” – [Bastard Jazz Recordings]

SlartiBartfast   2/15/2021   12-inch, Hip Hop

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.

Fantastic Negrito – “Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?” – [Cooking Vinyl Ltd.]

SlartiBartfast   1/24/2021   12-inch, Hip Hop

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

Creation Rebel – The Best of Cutting Edge Hip Hop [coll] – [Cutting Edge]

aarbor   1/13/2021   CD, Hip Hop

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 – "BLQLYTE" – [Leaving Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2020   12-inch, Hip Hop

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.

-Thurston Hunger

Sharkula X Mukqs – "Prune City" – [Hausu Mountain]

abacus   8/26/2020   CD, Hip Hop

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”

cadilliac margarita   6/25/2020   CD, Hip Hop

Nnamdi – Brat

Chicago based, multi- instrumentalist. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from UoC, so I’m guessing the expertly layered production values on his 4th studio album are his own doing. He’s 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

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