KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

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

T-White – “Gift Vol. 5!, The” – [Fatbeats]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/2014   12-inch, Hip Hop


Instrumental hip-hop, short and upbeat, slip the needle
scratch the service. The dance floor is denied in these
short cuts with long memories (did I hear Flip Wilson as
Geraldine on “Discovery”). “Eternal Lee” has some pretty
majestic moves inside, “Ow!” doesn’t hurt (although a
cartoon baby bird was crushed by the heavy drum and piano
drop on top), a French discussion gets woven in between the
beats on that. The lead-off track makes you think DJ Shadow
meets comedy, samples are less ear-popping after that, but
definitely a fun and creative vibe. Yeah, there’s cowbell
sampled and apparently some organic elements as well
(behold the Old Nasty Organ), hard to pull everything
apart. T-White is a Chicago operative…damn shame KFJC’s
Spiderman is not around for this House Shoes party mix.

-Thurston Hunger

Odd Nosdam Featuring Jessica Bailiff – “Untitled Three” – [Anticon.]

abacus   10/15/2014   12-inch, Hip Hop

god damn is this a collaboration to write home about. Odd Nosdam stands at the helm of hip-hop’s avant-garde with his crooked, broken, bottom heavy beats pickin hard at the heart strings; add Jessica Bailiff’s distant dream-laden vocalizations to open and close and a lethal injection of instrumental beauty from herself and her partner in pageantry Jesse Edwards (not to mention local cat Dax Pierson cutting deep with the melodica and other goodies on a particularly moving track), and you get some of the most gorgeous production I’ve heard on anything that can claim street cred. passionate, raw, but dare i say ethereal? definitely not

MC Sub-Zero Permafrost & LYDSOD – “My Brass Instrument” – [LYDSOD]

mickeyslim   9/10/2014   7-inch, Hip Hop

Hip-hop/brass-band/psych/noise orgy! MC Sub-Zero Permafrost spits raps overmusic from the project LYDSOD (a very sarcastic acronym for Live Your Dreams Stay Off Drugs), an acid drenched psych coalition from Brooklyn.

Very high pitched vocals, not sure if it spins correctly at 33 or 45 (I think its 45). The tuba and trombone add a zesty spice to the hip-hop flavor. The B-side wanders a bit into the noisy side of things, which I know a lot will enjoy. Throw it on the turntable and enjoy..

FCC: Both sides :(

Automator, The – “Music to Be Murdered By” – [Homebass]

abacus   7/28/2014   12-inch, Hip Hop

rare 1989 early tracks from bay area legend bringin us filthy fresh cuts of classic boom bap soul clap hip hop. old skool Emu emulations and scratch happy samplage with fluid rhyme schemes on Funky Sound and Dance, Murdered the busiest on the production. Bonus Noise dropping into instro tracks and a run in with APV Patrol along with some fine scratchables on the short track. throw on your Reeboks and Get Down to that triple-threat Jenny homicide

Aleister X – “Half-speed Mastered” – [MVDaudio]

humana   7/25/2014   12-inch, Hip Hop

Aleister X has a British accent and performs in New York City, wearing black face paint and strange robes (hints of Cy Thoth, sans the voice). Rap is the most dominant medium here, although there are other elements to vary things. Lots of references to Beach Boys songs (“Bad Vibrations” and “California Gurls”). He worked with Lee Scratch Perry on the 2008 Repentance album.

Fresh Finesse – “You Ain’t Sayin’ Nothing” – [Micro Mini]

Naysayer   4/20/2014   12-inch, Hip Hop

SO GOOD! Just SO GOOD!
It’s 1989. Some of you might still have your high top fade and some crazy baggy pants. You probably bought twelve inch vinyl singles. You may have even bought this by Fresh Finesse. Distributed by Trumpet Records from Fanwood, New Jersey, which kind of says it all, Finesse’s “You Ain’t Sayin’ Nothing” is the perfect sample of 1989 MCs, flyboys, breakbeat culture. Four versions of “You Ain’t…”, the story is pretty much about why FF is the one to listen to because he is the best and anyone else is going down. FF’s MC style is smooth and sure, easy to hear, clear and to the point. This is when fighting was done with words and the winner got to wear the biggest “gold” chain. Great beats. Sample from Gaz’s 1978 Salsoul recording “Sing Sing”. And there is a Bonus track that is all about FF sweet talking a girl, using so many lines to try and get her home and to be his. FF even rhymes “relinquish” with “extinguish”. Refrain is a male soul singer going on with FF’s message. Essential stuff. And when you all leave the station, I’ll lock the doors, put this on, pull out my piece of cardboard and breakdance the night away.

Blackhouse – “Blackhouse, The” – [Fatbeats]

rasbabo   4/9/2014   CD, Hip Hop

The Blackhouse-
???He do the cuts She do the beats??? DJ Romes and Georgia Anne Muldrow
A cool LP with funky beats and samples. Some tracks remind of of city sidewalk breakdancers bustin
moves on the cardboard. Others are deeper and stonier. Drop the needle and pick your potion.
My only regret is that some of the tracks are short; they get to the hook, roll on it a while and then fade
out. Wish they went further with some of these grooves, or bridged a few together.
Still good, still dope.
I liked the title track and the B-side most.
When America crashes and burns, we’ll all be in the Blackhouse.
Ras Babo

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.

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.

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