Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Currensy "Smokee Robinson"

While the world debates which Pilot Talk is better (next couple days will see my opinions on the matter published) and where Currensy is taking us with the series I could see how it might be easy to forget about his mixtape with Don Cannon from early in the year. Smokee Robinson dropped with a fair bit of fervor, his first since the seven in as many months during 2008 and his free follow up to the two strictly digital releases in 2009. There was no talk of BluRoc, Dame, Creative Control videos, or Ski Beatz - but there were fresh and familiar faces over a splattering of smoothed out beats.

In traditional mixtape fashion Spitta rocks over a number of industry beats throughout the tape, with a few notable exceptions. “Smash On O’Leary” is sheer brilliance. The beat is incredible, uptempo with crazy shifts and changes, super heavy drums. “I Don’t Fucks With Em” seems Nipsey teaming up with the joint brothers - Wiz only handles the hook but handle he does. The track is on some perfect West coast smoking and riding music and if you know these guys you know they handle that kind of tune with ease.

Currensy is no stranger to how the West gets down and he grabs a few classics to rock over. “187 On A Beat” seems him going in on that Snoop/Dre collab. Sporadically Currensy spits lines that show a much nerdier side to the man than any label would want from a rapper - this song features such bars. He also turns Ross’ “Maybach Music” into “Monte Carlo Music” to fess his love for classic cars, weed, and girls.

I don’t know if Spitta was the first to be claiming he used his Louis Vuitton pouch to hold his trees but he was the first I heard and on “Damier Doobies” you just hear some highed up story telling that is hilarious and clever. Throughout Smokee Robinson Currensy is at his most ambicable. This was the tape that introduced me to him, and it sucked me in thoroughly. There is something about Currensy that is instantly like-able and not stand offish.

Smokee Robinson hints at nothing that was to come in the months after it’s release from Currensy - a rarity in the mixtape driven rap world today. It’s place the project in an interesting position to have been created purely out of the desire to create. No pressures. The music reflects it, from the tracks with the Jets and their monstrous appeal that screams turn me up and just enjoy this shit to his pairing with Dom Kennedy on “Racing Stripes” and Wiz and Nipsey on “Mazaltov” a classically smoothed out instrumental that’s pretty minimal but features just the right effect dropped in to make it hit. Just some young emcees making music and having fun.

Of course there is him rocking over Kanye's "Last Call" to close out the tape with those haunting lines "Here's to the Roc" - was he trying to tell us something? Jets fool. Download here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Avatar Young Blaze "Wishing On A Dream"

Some more Jon Jon visuals for you to feast on. This guy has put in serious work this year. Avatar stays grinding too. One of the stand out tracks from his freely downloadable "mixtape" Russian Revolution. If you missed that read up about it and him. The lovely Isabella Du Graf (where's the album at ma?) kicks it with Av in his new home - the always sunny LA. Didn't expect this as a single, I'm glad I was wrong.
"Was raised in the same house Jimi Hendrix hit his first joint/So you could say purple haze raised me."

80's Babies "Sonic Music"

It’s time to look at the album, and group, that is responsible for this whole bandcamp feature. Sometime in the summer I heard Sonic Music from the 80's Babies. Sure I was listening to some other jawns at the time but nothing quite struck me like this album. The fact that it was available almost exclusively from their bandcamp got me wondering how many albums could be out there in the ether a person would never know about it they didn’t just make one click.

The 80’s Babies are Dee Jackson on rhymes and Tall Black Guy cooking up the beats. The album falls in line with a lot of early underground east coast rap from about a decade ago yet nothing here sounds old. One of the refreshing qualities to this album is it’s air of newness. While I feel like I’m certainly listening to something inspired by music of the past, the 80’s Babies are not biting anyone delivering 16 tracks of original banging music.

The production throughout the album is ridiculous. Tall Black Guy flips so many jams, I’m afraid to investigate his crates be them digital or physical. From the “Intro” with it’s spacey synth line and drum-less groove in the beginning you will be mesmerized before Dee even starts dropping quotables.

Elsewhere he chops things so hard your neck might be in fear of snapping should you repeat listen all day long - and you will want. Horns get dropped in the mix, music is present in all his beats. Tall Black Guy has a great ear for melody and producing rather than just making a beat. These tracks grow and develop as you listen to em. On “C.O.B (Control Our Block)” he cuts the drums our and gives Knoc-Turn’al a fitlhy ghostly break to spit over, later in his verse bringing a mellower drum kick in over the piano keys he has making the track sparkle.

Most of the guests here are their homies from what I can gather. Crooked I also shows up on the aforementioned “C.O.B.” and delivers his trademark brand of scorching devastation he isn’t given the credit for being capable of enough. No one else here ever touches Dee Jackson though. The guy has a commandeering tone that insists you take him seriously. He never feels forced, his flow is as natural as Slick Rick’s story telling.

Topically Dee Jackson covers a lot of ground. Politics are addressed and their hometown pride in the current president shines through. The constant synchronous living with the internet and social media is a struggle and cause for confusion addressed in “Technology.” Stories are told on “Fighting Demons” about people in unique situations and the different demons that can be faced. Love isn’t far from the heart and Dee Jackson certainly has both. His daughter is mentioned with a sincere passion only a father could deliver.

No rap album is complete without some track extolling an emcee’s virtues on the mic and that’s here too. These two demonstrate a serious passion for the art, and a serious skill for it. Musically this album has made me smile, dance, laugh and just feel good about life. Lyrically its made me think, reflect and look at the life surrounding me. It’s great. Give it a listen below and if you dig it give em the 7 bucks - it's better than that sandwich you were thinking about for lunch.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Poetik Force ft. Avi The Most Ill & Blakface "The Rush"

Poetik Force will be the subject of a bandcamp feature around here in the near future, he passed me his latest video from his The Mary Jane Project last night. I'm still trying to make sense of these visuals, but regardless of that the song is one of my favs of the year.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Currensy "The Jet Files"

This month has taken me on a whirlwind journey of Currensy’s career. I’ve heard pretty much all he has to offer and given you my thoughts on the tapes. Today it is his second official project and second of 2009, The Jet Files. While I can’t find any evidence that this was meant to be a collection of previously recorded songs it plays exactly like that. Their is no continuity between songs, these are just some jams from Spitta.

We saw him team up with Ced Hughes awhile ago and Ced comes back, this time on the production end for the lead off track “Dosier (In & Out)”, yes Currensy brought back the in and out’s for this project - probably adding to it’s overall mixtape like feel.

Whitey, an in house Amalgam Digital producer, does a chunk of the beats here. He is no Ski Beatz, not really even Monsta Beatz but his tracks knock with enough oomph to not quite bore you. He aims for a spacy vibe that may be more suited for Wiz than Spitta. Sledgren, Wiz homie on the beats, also comes through for the track “Sleepless in New Orleans” a bouncing tune where Currensy details his playing ways.

The ladies are, as usual, a heavy topic here. Whether it be talking about the buss down he kicks it tough with who rolls his trees, the girls who compliment his style, the ones who ride around with him in his vintage whips, or the one who let him go out and pick up a guest for the bedroom one evening he has stories for days about adventures with the fairer sex.

The Jet Files were intended to be a stop gap before Amalgam released Currensy’s “real” debut which never was. There aren’t bad songs here but they aren’t great either. Most everything makes me feel indifferent, Currensy’s likable personality and ability to make you relate to him regardless of how lavish a life he leads disappear here and you are left with another rapper leading a life you can only hear about on wax.

Completest's can purchase this here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Time @ Bandcamp With... Kendrick Lamar

On the first of October I was kicking back at the Batkave, listening to some tunes contemplating the Das Racist show going down that evening at the Comet. Out of no where I got a call from an unknown number. The conversation went something like this.

ME: "Hello"
Caller: "You wanna talk to Kendrick Lamar"
Me: "................... Yes"

Details were flushed out and what went from being a phone conversation became an in person interview prior to his show at Sodo opening for Tech N9ne. Random pairing, you are telling me.

If you didn't read the review of O(verly) D(edicated) at least get the tape cause this is one of the best albums of the year and deserves your ears.

Kendrick Lamar is an intelligent cat who was personable and very honest. He reps his home hard and I learned his CPT heritage has gotten him on the road in the past with The Game - even visiting our city before in 2008. Certainly not your average twenty three year old rapper. Read up.

Introduce yourself, who is Kendrick Lamar?
Kendrick Lamar is Compton, California. Kendrick Lamar the oldest of four. Both parents, from Chicago, came to Compton in ‘84 had me in ‘87. I like to say Compton a lot because that’s what I represent, I represent everything that it holds. You listen to my music it represents a kid that’s trying his best to duck the influences of the city. That represents everyone that’s living in the city. The influence can be police, peer pressure, gangs, drugs, whatever. That’s me.

You say on one song “Half of yall don’t even know Kendrick” - what should people know?
I think one of the misconceptions is that I’m this overall angel at heart. I tell my stuff from the inside looking around rather than the outside looking in. So when I talk about all these ills and these situations, I’m not knocking it or saying it’s bad because I go through the same shit that everybody else go through. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions right now, they put me around this whole conscious thing, but I’m just like every other person that’s living in the city. I’ve been through some shit, negative situations where it’s not cool to glorify the shit. I just gotta show people I’m more like them.

Where did you go to high school?
Centennial High, it was cool too.

When did you start rapping?
I started rapping in 8th grade, matter fact 7th grade I was 13. I got inspired by the DMX album because Pac had died, I felt like there was a void missing in hiphop, DMX came with that same type of motherfucking energy and I just got inspired and started writing. Then I went back and studied all the greats, Pac, Biggie, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, everything, just perfected my craft.

That was a lot of East coast names for a West coast head...
Yeah. I grew up on the West coast, I know it. Truthfully I didn’t like Biggie until after he died. I think everybody can say that but they just too scared to say that shit. I didn't give a fuck I was a downright Tupac fan, fuck everything, Bad Boy killa all that shit. Yeah that was me. I was nine years old, I didn’t give a fuck ignorance was a bliss to me. Shit I seen Tupac in person, in Compton, on Rosecrans. You couldn’t tell me shit. I didn’t give a fuck if Biggie new how to rap good. It was all about Tupac. That was just me being a child not knowing shit. After he died, then i started rapping, then I started realizing this is the shit I like to rap about, same shit Biggie, Jay-Z is kicking. Then I went back, got out of my naive ways, studied that shit. Shout out Biggie rest in peace, Pac all legends.

Your parents grew up in Chicago?
Yeah born and raised.

Did you hear a lot of music from Chicago growing up then?
A lot of oldies, just a lot of oldies. My parents, it’s like... The best way to describe my upbringing is, you ever seen Menace to Society?

Remember when Cain is a kid? They had parties every motherfucking Friday. Drunk, smoking, I got tons of motherfucking cousins and older uncles. There was always music in the house, everyday. They played rap, R&B, oldies, so I grew up on a variety of shit which basically is musical influence for me because that’s how I pick my music as far as instrumentals and beats, a lot soul samples, snare drums. It all comes from that.

Who are some of the producers on OD?
I got mostly in house. Soundwave, King Blue, TaeBeast, Willie B. I got a major producer on there named Wyldfire - he produced the Nas and Jay-Z “Black Republican” track. That’s about it right there.

When you say in house, what is that? Is it your company?
Top Dawg Entertainment. It’s the company I signed with at 16 or 17. The CEO is a dude, Top Dawg himself, I put out a local mixtape when I first jumped in the booth at 16 and I spread it locally. It caught the ear of him and he’s believed since and we moving on.

So OD came out for free, then was gone and only on iTunes. What’s the situation with it?
It’s still floating around there for free. I was batteling my company on putting it out for free from the jump. I felt like everybody wasn’t a believer in Kendrick Lamar yet. The Kendrick Lamar EP did great, better than what I thought it would do but i felt like I still need to put out this free music, I ain’t touched everybody yet. They was like nah. It’s a good thing my people believe in me, think I can actually sell. But I was like let’s put it out for free. So we came to a compromise, we put it out on iTunes, put it out for free for a few days and just let it float and see how many people pick it up and make their own links. At the end of the day it turned out a good thing, it still got out to the people that need to hear it, you can search for it if you really want it, and for the people that bought it, it’s letting me know people still buy music and are looking for it.

Who would you like to work with?
People ask me this all the time... It’s cliche to say like Jay-Z, Nas, Andre3000.

Are there some young cats coming up you are into?
I like a lot of neo soul stuff. India.Aire, Bilal, Floetry. That’s the people I want to work with. I think they so musically inclined that they will take me to that next level that I haven’t been. Even though they doing a whole other genre of music I feel they can open up another motherfucking part of my brain where it’ll make me rap better, or make me put together my music as a whole on another level.

What’s the deal with the Black Hippie project?
Ah the Black Hippies, you know what that whole project and that whole idea was just some shit we were sprinkling out and it just caught motherfucking fire as soon as we threw out a couple tracks. We are everywhere with it right now. We working on a mixtape, album shit. We got a whole lot of motherfucking music in the chamber. We can throw shit out anytime but we just want it to be right and get all the artist projects out and let everybody see each individual artist as their own entity so they will know where we come from. Then see it as a group, Ok here is how it all meshes together.

How did y’all come together?
You know we just fell out the motherfucking sky. Schoolboy Q is from LA, Rock from Watts, Ab-Soul from Carson, I’m from Compton, you know those are all local motherfucking cities. We all around the same age group, high schools ain’t but 10, 5 minutes from each other - LA is a small as a motherfucker man. Everybody know each other. So I fall through the Top Dawg studio one day and see Jay Rock, seen him come through Centennial with his gang, his hood or for a female. Ab-Soul, same with him, knew him through a mutual friend, we just all came together at the end of the day.

What’s next after the tour?
Oh yeah I got the album done. I’m just gonna push this motherfucking OD until the wheels fall off and then hit em across the head with the album shit.

What’s the story with the video you dropped today?
You caught that? That’s crazy, we were just talking about that. You heard the “Heaven & Hell” record? I wanted to go totally left field. The “Heaven & Hell” record is basically a description on heaven and hell, on how I think heaven look from an imaginary perspective and hell being the today world we live in today. So the guy cruising from the first point of view in the car is basically saying through all the red lights in life he never stops. That can be one perception. The second one could be everything that’s going on around him he’s still speeding through. That can be the hell perception. It could be all types of violence, type of shooting, extortion, he’s still getting through to do whatever he has to go do. And then at the end of the video he meets a significant other, somebody that he loves and supports him. The whole process of me making the “Hevean & Hell” record I want people to think, the ultimate high is god. But on a spiritual level sometimes people can’t meet them standards, pray and actually believe he is real. So you need somebody in actual life, in physical form to keep your serenity inside of you. So that’s where you see the lady at the end. The lady can be your brother, your sister, or your pops. You always need somebody at the end of the day to keep you sane in this motherfucking world. That’s actually a piece from 1975 and probably the world is just now seeing that shit, I felt it went right with the music.

You got any last words?
Oh shit go cop that Kendrick Lamar OD, that’s all it’s about right now. Just spreading the word about good motherfucking music. Got G Malone in here. He got this Drive By Music. It’s all motherfucking West coast shit, we just trying to bring it back to where it’s suppose to be, the respect we need.


Thanks to Alex for hitting me up while in town and making this happen!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Currensy "This Ain't No Mixtape"

After all the free projects, label bouncing and history with an assortment of successful rappers Currensy stepped out on his own to do his own thing. It paid off. In 2009, months after his free monthly mixtape series ended he partnered with Amalgam Digital and released the aptly titled This Ain’t No Mixtape.

Deciding not to wait for another major to come scoop him up, Spitta hooked up with Monsta Beatz and cooked up nineteen tracks. If you enjoyed any of the mixtapes, or have been rocking with the guy just recently over his Ski jams, you will probably nod your head to these cuts too.

Lyrically Currensy is sticking to his script, talking about his fly life. His life around rappers, skaters, and other assorted cats who play for a living have rubbed off on him and his experiences. Ladies, weed, skateboarding, shopping, clubbin, and cruising is all covered here much in the same way they were throughout the mixtapes. Either you like how Currensy puts his thoughts across a beat or you don’t.

On the topic of flow, he is sounding as good as ever here. Unsurprising given it is his offical debut, even if it’s only available digitally. For an inaugural album it doesn’t hold a lot of the inexperience an artists first solo album can, thanks to his mixtape grind Currensy already has perfected his art.

Monsta Beatz shows himself to be quite the accomplished producer covering a lot of ground with his productions here. For the first time Currensy handles and entire record over original beats. It’s a great thing and giving the reigns to a singular partner was a great idea. I’m surprised Monsta Beatz hasn’t done more work since this record. He shows a knack for great drum programming, varied samples and some sprinklings of live instruments. The beats can sound like Mannie Fresh to J. Rawls yet none feel out of place.

Just like his ear on the mixtapes, Currensy selected beats he knew he would fit well and over and over again he rides these beats with a kind of precision we had yet to hear from him. At times it feels a little stiff, like he is trying to hard but sometimes I think he must of been smoking in the booth as you can almost hear him mellow out by the end of some verses.

After my overall disappointment in the majority of the mixtapes, it’s great to hear the album not disappoint. By now I know what Currensy is gonna rap about and I’m more concerned with enjoying his fun personality portrayed on record and listening to his weed comments. He raps well, calls in some friends who also rap well, and made a dope ablum that doesn’t take itself too seriously. We all need a little time to relax in our lives, if smoking isn’t it for you maybe you can get high off the audio.

Buy This Ain't No Mixtape here.

For those of you who need something for free, here is a bootleg collection put out in support with mostly tracks you can find from the mixtapes along with a few random loose ones. Enjoy.

Download This Is A Mixtape.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snow day: Video break!

While those of us here in Seattle act like the world has come to an end thanks to an early snow storm (word is this is the earliest we've gotten snow since '55... this winter is gonna be rugged) the rest of the world hasn't slowed down or taken a break. If you are like me and holed up in your spot for the day staying warm here are a couple heatrocks from the city of angels. Maybe they will warm you up.

Jay Rock's voice here is as menacing as can be. The song "Diary of a Broke Nigga" is light on happiness and heavy on the dark reality that is our economic times. While times are tough we shouldn't be unprepared for more acts of violence against our fellow man. This song isn't about sympathy, it's about despair.

If the modern day intelligent gangster rhetoric doesn't do it for ya there is always the other side of LA hip hop, honest everyman Blu. While far from discussing street politics, Blu also raps about life and the struggles humans deal with. Word is he is preparing his Warner Bros. debut No York and this may be the lead single. FlyLo on the beat!

West Coast Bad Boyz Vol. 1 – Anotha Level of the Game

I remember buying this tape at the only music store in Sunnyside, WA. I was staying at my grandparents house one summer and spent every spare dollar I had shopping there buying whatever tapes or cds looked dope. I was just getting into Master P (Ice Cream Man era), and this had his name on it so I found it to be a must have.

Back in the early 90s before P was riding for NOLA he was deep in the NorCal rap game alongside stalwarts such as Too Short, JT the Bigga Figga, 4 Tay, 40 Water, and a pair of Dres (Dog and Mac respectively). During this time period P had a different group of running mates such as E-A-Ski, Dangerous Dame, King George, and Sonya C who all make appearances on this tape.

What makes this interesting looking back on it is that it represents what was happening in the Bay at the time but more specifically San Francisco. JT and 4 Tay were both “big names” when I heard this, but I still wasn’t hip to Dre Dog, UNLV, Cellski, and Cougnut who were all doing some big work in the streets of SF.

This record has one great song, the Cameo jacking “Trying to Make A Dollar Out of 15 Cents” a collaboration between Master P and RBL Posse. Honorable mention goes to Cellski and UNLV (Baldhead Rick and SB outta Lakeview) on “Stressed Out” which is rapid fire raps over a real laid back beat. All in all this is a compilation of low level hood rap that I’m sure was very well received in the bay but today sounds dated and a bit corny. Feel free to judge for yourself.

Listen to West Coast Bad Boyz Vol. 1

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Currensy "Fin..."

After the disaster of the last tape I was feeling a little nervous going into Currensy's final installment of his monthly mixtape series. Fin... doesn't follow in the footsteps of Fast Times, or any other for that matter. He once again pulls on many different style of beats, loosing the continuity of Super Tecmo Bowl, but still finding more focus on his best traits than the lack of focus he has proven can over take his mind.

Throughout the release of these tapes he always featured what he called "In & Out's" which are one verse songs he drops over industry beats. They are hard to judge because of their quickness and nine times out of ten they are over a dope beat no one is gonna be mad at someone going in on. For his final hooray he does more of these than ever before over some more aggressive tracks than he is familiar with. He rocks the Diplomats banger "I Really Mean It" to pay homage to his homie he has been doing these tapes for. He goes in on a classic LOX jam, and many others you should download it to hear.

On the intro he speaks about going through this process and how much music he has given out, he then says he went back and gave us some of his favorites. These selections are worked into the back end of the tape and while at first going into this I was a little annoyed by the choice, today waking up and hearing them I can't be mad at it. The older cuts he picks are pretty on point and I’m certain he was getting paid more attention around the release of Fin... than he was when Independence Day kicked it off.

Currensy says it and I think he knew it going in, this is the introduction for some, perhaps many, new fans of Spitta’s and he gives them a tape that is easily digestible. The majority of the new tracks don’t play for more than two minutes and the “best of” area is stacked with prime selections. If you have been digging any of these projects you won’t dislike this one but you may get bored with it quick. If you haven’t copped any and don’t think you need all of em this is your best introduction. Still can’t recommend Super Tecmo Bowl enough though.

Download Fin... here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kendrick Lamar "O(verly) D(edicated)"

The West coast is my place of birth and my home, yet I’ve rarely followed as many artists from my home coast as I do from the land where the sun rises. Maybe I just hold cats from my area to a higher standard? As the South took over the game in recent years and the East became a joke of it’s former self the West has been on a steady uprising seeing artists springing up full of life, lyrics and potential to bring hiphop to the next generation.

Kendrick Lamar is from Compton and unlike his famous neighbors doesn’t claim any set. He saw it all and much like Nas telling us about what he saw from his project windows Kendrick tells us about life. Not just any life though. A life full of pain and sorrow. Happiness and joy. Ups and downs. Good relationships and bad ones.

Where the West coast rappers of the past (by and large, not all) were about colors and a gangster mentality these new kids grew up on that and around it, or in it. Today they are making rap about life from a realistic perspective, talking about aspects of life a generation or two ago wouldn’t of got any white kids in the suburbs blood boiling.

Kendrick Lamar is a terrific emcee who plays with his delivery, voice and intonation (see “Monster” freestyle) to convey the feelings tied to the experiences he is sharing. Be it the hazy “H.O.C.” where he talks about being mistaken for a pothead by teachers, rambles off some serious stoner type philosophy and makes as good a weed song as those two joint rolling brothers or "The Heart Pt.2" where you are introduced to who Kendrick Lamar really is.

His community isn’t far from his mind and he addresses violence, despair and drugs among other uncomfortable topics throughout the tape. “Ignorance is Bliss” was one of the early leaks and is still as moving with the added benefit of two more verses. “Heaven & Hell” shows him going off pretty stream of conscious style about problems in the world today, cliche maybe but not when it’s done on Lamar’s terms.

While he can get serious on you, he doesn’t forget about the party and has a couple up beat jams here for the good times. “I Do This (Remix)” sees U-N-I, Skeme & Brown joining the Kendrick and Jay Rock for their previous collaboration. Over a monstrous beat these guys crank the energy up to 10. Ab Soul shows up here for “P&P1.5” where they talk about the two vices in their lives, pussy and Patron. Far from an ignorant song about getting drunk and banging, this is an intense examination of how each affect life positively and negatively.

Musically the album is rich and warm. It rarely shows off any traditional “West” coast type sound. “Michael Jordan” brings to mind the crunk of Lil Jon cut with a thick kush filled swisher. Somtimes some horns will blast, but mostly it’s subtle drums, soft piano chords and spacy synthesizers. Perhaps this further proves how much of an instrument Kendrick’s voice is as nothing ever sounds soft here, no matter how “soft” those sounds i just described might seem.

O(verly) D(edicted) is a great release. It’s a tough release. It’s not going to win just anyone over. It’s deep. It’s heavy. It’s not always happy. But it’s full of knowledge and insight. Kendrick Lamar runs with a crew that calls themselves Black Hippies and this is certainly some freedom music for the people. Perhaps Dr. Dre gave him the nod because this is what modern day gangsta rap should be?

Unfortunately it appears Kendrick Lamar's bandcamp site has been taken down. I swiped this link from the dope house, my bad guys. If you do anything today, download and listen to this tape.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Matthew David & XLR8R

I'm pretty unaware of this guy Matthew David, but his label Leaving Records has released a few joints I've enjoyed in the last few years from the LA beat scene. He dropped this little podcast earlier in the month with XLR8R full of some random jams. He has some field recordings and unearthed cassettes mixed in with a few new jack swing cuts, of course a few random beat jams and a whole lot more I couldn't even describe. Check it out! Enjoy the snow and you Sunday y'all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Currensy "Fast Times at Ridgemont Fly"

I suppose a good thing can’t last forever. I would of liked it to last a bit more than one tape though. After the rousing Super Tecmo Bowl that showed me a Currensy I’m familiar with he comes back a month later with Fast Times at Ridgemont Fly - the title and the fact that it’s the second to last had me holding high hopes even before I started this little mission of mine. Unfortunately I was wrong.

Gone almost completely are the smoothed out beats he appropriated on Tecmo Bowl, in their place are an assortment of more intense and at times grating beats. I remember being into “All About the Benjamin's” in middle school, but today the beat sounds terrible. I don’t even know what Spitta was talking about there.

I’m going to take a leap and say that the amount of ladies Currensy was getting with over the course of 2008 went up as his productivity did. Fast Times at Ridgemont Fly is full of songs about random ladies. Meeting them in the club, kicking it at the crib playing video games, girls rolling up planes, and more adventures with the opposite sex dominate the air time here. On a song like “Navigation Pimpin” you can’t be too mad at it but they don’t maintain this level.

As the tape progresses I loose interest. I’m baffled by how this project is letting me down like none of the previous one’s (except for maybe the early two) have. Currensy seems to be a bit distracted, seeing his clever self gone with a stiff unlikeable emcee in his place just reciting run of the mill bars about non sense. If you are gonna rap about this subject matter you gotta make it exciting and not come off as a lame. Here he fails on both counts.

Completest eat your heart out, download here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

UGK, Master P & Silkk the Shocker - Playaz from the South

I've been rexamining some of the music I used to listen to as a young man and this song was on one of my favorite comps "Down South Hustlers - Bangin and Swingin" just one in a series of many comps brought to us by Mr. Percy Miller. Will's recent look at Curren$y has inspired me to take a trip through my musical history by listening to all my old No Limit comps and soundtracks and sharing my thoughts here on the blog.

Stay tuned for some real ignorant shit.

One Time @ Bandcamp With... Leonard Dstroy

On Monday I dropped the review for a project by Leonard Dstroy called Higher Vibrations available for free at his bandcamp. I shot him a few questions and he had alot to say. Get familiar with this KC based beat stomper.

Who is Leonard Destroy? How old are you? Where are you from, is it still your home?
My real name is Kyle Dykes. I am 30 years old and I'm from the middle of the map, Kansas City, MO - born and raised.

When did you start making tunes? Were your first music making endeavors in the same vein as what you're on today?
I started DJing in 1994 when i was 14 years old. I didn't start producing til 1999. I actually started playing with a couple bands (Sevenfold Symphony and the Jesse Jackson 5), later on I formed the group Deep Thinkers with my partner Brother of Moses in 2001. We went on to release 4 full length albums and we are still very much active to this day. Since day one, I've always been interested in progressive hiphop and electronic music.

What were you hearing as a kid? What were you digging into as you grew up? Did your parents influence your music listening?
As a kid, I was exposed to a wide variety of music via my father who is an outstanding guitarist and singer. Growing up my dad had a very extensive vinyl collection and I was fortunate to cut my teeth on lots of Soul, Jazz, Rock, Reggae, Dancehall, Funk, Afrobeat, etc... As it turns out he gave me his entire collection as a wedding gift, so now its mine. When I got a bit older, around the time I started middle school, I started getting into hiphop and other things. The first record I ever bought was Coolio's Fantastic Voyage on vinyl haha. I was really into the early beat stuff , like the earlier Ninja Tune catalog. To this day, artists like Amon Tobin, Clifford Gilberto, and Coldcut are still huge inspirations to the work I do. I was also really into Venetian Snares, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and stuff like that too!!!

Do you have a day job?
Yes, I still hold down a part-time job, but hopefully not for long.

Outside of music, how do you like to spend your time?
Outside of music I like to hang with my wife, friends and family... eat good food, play basketball, watch movies and enjoy the great outdoors. But honestly, I'm a hermit and I really do spend most of my free time in the lab creating.

What's your goal with your music? Are you looking for vocalists to get on your tracks?
My goal with music is to pay the bills doing something I love and also to use it as a opportunity to travel and meet new people. As far as vocalists are concerned, I am always down to work with people who inspire and push me to be better.

How are you as an artist dealing with the changing face of the music business?
I am just trying to go with the flow of things and adapt to the ever changing landscape of music today. I think it is important to embrace all the technology we have at our fingertips and use it to our advantage.

Favorite record label?
Right now I'm really feeling a few different labels.... proboably on my top ten list would be Alpha Pup, Error Broadcast, Elm and Oak, Warp, Brainfeeder, All City, TokyoDawn, Hyperdub, StonesThrow, AND Planet MU.

Are you a vinyl collector? Do you play out either DJin or doin a live production set?
I am a vinyl collector and when I play out I usually DJ, but I am actually making the transition to doing more live production sets in the future.

Are you happy with music today? What's in your ears?
I am very happy with the state of music today. It seems as if there is a renaissance happening right now with progressive beat/bass music in general. There is so much good music coming out every week that it is hard to keep up with sometimes. All over the world people are pushing the boundaries and it is a beautiful thing indeed!

What's next for Leonard Destroy?
Hopefully this year you will see quite a few things from me. I am currently in the process of signing with a label and you should see a full length album and a E.P. in 2011... more information to come on that real soon!!! (Ed. Note: Leonard Dstoy and Elm and Oak Records made the official announcement earlier this month, congrats man!)

Also doing a collaboration album with my right hand man HeRobust that is gonna be absolutely insane, that should see the light of day in the near future. It is gonna melt faces for sure!

Also gonna be releasing a few remixes on a few different labels, and a project with Reggie B that has been in the works for awhile now. Also working with a few very talented Kansas City emcees, and I am planning on getting back in the lab with Brother of Moses sometime this year to start working on the next Deep Thinkers album as well.

You hearing anything coming out of the Northwest?
Yeah Ive heard of a few things coming from the Northwest, but I am still kinda in the dark. I am a big fan of the homie Devonwho's stuff and I really think the Frite Nite guys kick major ass. I would love to get up there sometime this year and check it out. I hear nothing but good things.

Last words? Advice? Shout outs? Words of wisdom?
Be excellent to each other and party on dudes!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Currensy "Super Tecmo Bowl"

Currensy has finally got a tape in his canon I won’t look down on. Fear and Loathing in New Orleans got pretty close, but Super Tecmo Bowl sees the Hot Spitta finding both his voice and the right style of beat for him.

Throughout the bars he spits here there is a confidence I’ve not heard on any of the previous projects. He touched it on Life at 30,000 Feet but his youth and the Cash Money influence are heavy burdens on his earlier tape. Here he is on top of the world. He attacks tracks with a passion. He is five tapes into the monthly mixtape series and it’s starting to pay off, he has captured the attention of the bloggeratti and was probably seeing some doors open via his own work. That has to be an invigorating feeling, this feeling is expressed through his flow.

His rhymes cover a lot. He’s got a lot on his mind. Weed is starting to be talked about more, girls are front and center often, he boasts on one song that he has no game chicks just know his story. His fashion sense is on display as well. While anyone can talk about these things, Currensy delivers his talk in quite clever rhymes that humanize what it is he is talking about.

He isn’t totally caught up in the material world however and on a song like “I Did It Myself” he bounces back and forth between his fly talk and some serious introspection about his career path and the work he has done. This is a reoccurring theme throughout Super Tecmo Bowl, addressed in different scenarios He talks about the blogs, the series, his homies he intends to put on - perhaps this doesn’t sound interesting when read about but the way he rolls all of these things together he shows his fans his life through his rhymes. His life just happens to revolve around his music and clothes.

He talks to the haters on “Top Shelf” and gets as close to his old gangster threats since before the series began with the line about his homies not responding kindly to disparaging remarks and points out while that’s not really his steez, it’s how it’ll go down so just keep them thoughts to your self. He gives us a weed song in “Blaze Something” certain to piss off any club promoter, owner or security staff as the hook incites anyone with chronic in the club to light it up.

A big part of this tapes playing as a whole are the beats he selected. Most I recognize, few I’m able to place which is driving me crazy but you can’t know all. The common theme with most is their more musical than much of what we’ve seen in the past. Many of these feature horns, what sound like live drums or at least live played via the producers machine of choice. While not exactly what Ski is on with his current Karate School sensei’s they mesh well with Currensy’s voice.

Maybe it’s the weed, maybe it’s the success, maybe it’s the good times he is having living life with his crew recording raps, playing video games and going shopping - whatever it is that makes Currensy happy was going on in his life while making this record and he gave that back to his fans.

Download it here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Groove Merchant Turns 20!

If vinyl and the bay area is mentioned in the same sentence you are probably gonna hear Amoeba not to shortly after. While I'm not gonna make a trip to SF without a stop there, a little shop known as Groove Merchant is where you will find the real gems while digging in the city.

I saw a pristine copy of Mecca & The Soul Brother in the stacks when I made my first visit. I proceeded to spend many hours, combing through racks, boring my girlfriend to death. I have never made it back to the shop, or the Bay for that matter but I think about the store often.

While GM became a destination spot for diggers over the last two decades, it's also seen two stellar labels be created out of it's confines: Luv N' Haight and Ubiquity. In celebration of the store, it's owner "Cool" Chris Veltri and Ubiquity are releasing a collection of tunes "from behind the counter." Purchase it here.

They've also created a Tumblr for the album where they have EVERY song up to stream along with some good information about each tune. The selections are as varied as you can imagine a seasoned collectors to be. It's good music all the way through. Here are a couple that grabbed me.

Rod Abernethy - Ron and Eddie Blues by Groove Merchant 20

September - Stump by Groove Merchant 20

Frankie Gee - Date with the Rain by Groove Merchant 20

Shouts to O-Dub for the heads up!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Currensy "Fear & Loathing in New Orleans"

With tape number four in “Spitta’s Monthly Mixtape Takeover” (his name, not mine) he shouts out his home and a classic book about a wild drug fueled journey. I’m sure Fear & Loathing in New Orleans was fueled by as much chronic smoke as any other tape Currensy has released, but he isn’t one to rep for much else - he even goes so far as to say on the intro he doesn’t “pour anything up.” Regardless of what ingests, he has delivered a pretty good project this time around, maybe the first of his tapes I could see myself going back to as a whole project.

He introduces the tape over Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” before jumping into the title track sounding great over a smooth jazzy beat that I swear I’ve heard before but can’t place. He is talking about his home here, he talks about the hood, friends passed, and his first rap that was “full of bullshit and lies” about doing dirt. I can dig this.

The tape kinda falters for a sec after with a couple ho hum joints. “Murda” comes and goes with Spitta talking about how he can take out anyone with his bars while “Movie Writers, Bussiness Men & Gangstas” features a terrible beat with no life for Currensy and Mr. Marcelo to talk about nonsense, and some contrived connection between the three. Well I guess their could be, but they don’t capture it in the slightest.

He and Roddy take “We Major” into “Sky Barz” talking about their typcial Fly Society type shit about just how fly they get and over a Neptunes industry beat he talks about “World Class Bitches” who love him. He sounds good over the Neptunes baby making tune, and he keeps it light and funny throughout, he just wants to get highed up with the fly ass chick who snuck the planes into the club.

Many of the tracks on this tape only feature a verse and a hook. This isn’t a knock against the tape, one of the flaws in the previous ones relates to how they could drag on. That being said, it’s an easier task to write a hot 16 over a hot beat, coming with a complete idea is a whole different task. Of course he has proven today he has no problem being creative, if anything these days the guy is being too inspired... nah, no such thing.

“Lost In Transit” is one of the best Currensy song I’ve heard in my going through the discography. Over an awesomely spacey beat that features very mellow drums just playing in the background, whoever played the synths on this tack wins big in my book, I want more! Currensy gives us some high talk about rappers being parents to kids who’s biological don’t bother, education getting you killed, and of course he has a couple lines about how dope he is.

He raps about being new age technology, tell dudes how to get on in this new Internet driven rap biz. He rocks over Ski’s Camp Lo classic, continually demonstrating the chemistry they have goes deeper than just knowing Dame. He pulls on Ced Hughes for an awesome track in “Calm Down” and reminds me why I interviewed dude, why I hate that I don’t have the audio any longer, and just how dope he is. He has a much more precise flow next to Spitta, but they compliment each other here awesomely well.

Fear & Loathing in New Orleans has some gems. Like most mixtapes it’s not flawless, that’s ok. Like all of these proects it’s free and it’s another notch in Currensy’s belt. He wasn’t dropping these tapes to make people believe he was the dopest on the mic but to prove that he could rap and you should listen to him. What he lacks in lyrical dexterity he makes up for with charisma and a knowledge of rap that only the biggest of heads would put on display. He rocks “Intergalactic” like it was his own. Enough said.

Download the tape here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Leonard Dstroy "Higher Vibrations"

While FlyLo and his Brainfeeder collective have firmly established LA as the hub of life around the ever growing “beat” scene their influence has escaped and begun to seep into the ears of creators all over the world. This weeks bandcamp excursion brought me to Leonard Dstroy from Kansas City.

I don’t know much about KC, but I wouldn’t of expected something like this cooked up in the town’s city limits. Dstroy uses a wide array of synths, bleeps, bloops, and crazy mechanical like roars. Often times he is incredibly melodic with his construction of rhythms merged with the synthesizer noises.

Leonard has a knack for delivering really hard drums on his tracks. He doesn’t go for an up tempo mood too often, he likes to keep things more cerebral. On a track like “Mojave” he let’s the beat build, then where a hook would go if it were a typical song sees several elements of sound added, I can’t even begin to explain the levels to which he is layering things, you will hear new aspects to things upon every listen.

The album is full of this. He is not at all shy when it comes to chopping up and tweaking things. He’ll have a vocal sample play, slow it down all the way into a grinding clicking noise, but at the same time be having the volume of it reduced all the while he’s brought in some keys, some atmospheric effects, and flipped the drums up. He doesn’t fail at keeping the listener intrigued.

His track evolution is awesome. Instrumentalists can far to often fall into the trap of just making beats that have no depth to them. Dstroy isn’t making beats in the traditional sense. Many of these tracks wouldn’t suite an emcee, and the emcee that does decide to rock some of these deserves all the attention he can get.

A few vocalists do join the party. Reggie B belts out some excellent lines on “Trying to Find My Way” over an off kilter drum beat. He harmonizes with himself and has a beautiful voice. It sounds like Dstroy added some effects to B’s voice as well, which helps it in the mix feel like part of the beat rather than just someone doing their own thing over it.

“Higher Frequency” sees Brother of Moses make an appearance. The track is toned down on bleeps and blips for Moses to spit bars. He doesn’t stand out how I’d prefer to hear a rapper on a beat but if you take the time to listen to him, you won’t be disappointed. The beat is bubbly, with a happy vibe behind it, you’ll be smiling while you listen no doubt.

Higher Vibrations put me in a mood every time I listened to it. It’s not dark or grimy, it’s something else. While Leonard Dstroy may have been inspired by some peers with longer track records he owns his music here demonstrating that his style is all his own. The record is something to be heard as an album. Individual songs here are cool, but I’m not inclined to go to anyone individually. I just want to put this on at the front and let it ride.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fatima "Warm Eyes"

Anyone else miss them Summer days already? With some Dam Funk production you can always have summer!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Currensy "Welcome to the Winner's Circle"

After five mixtapes it’s nice to say that their is finally one that I really enjoy front to back. Maybe it’s just my love for Seattle’s favorite boutique that Spitta unintentionally shouts out with the title, but Welcome to The Winner’s Circle is 18 tracks of awesomeness. Unlike most of the previous tapes featuring a wide array of industry beats, this one features beats that all fit within a mood. I recognize some but not all, wish that mixtapes came with production credits, ha.

The mood here is comfortable. While the first two tapes in the monthly series didn’t feel like they were projects so much as random songs thrown together, this one plays through like an album. He recruits Nate Dogg for a hook (or maybe that‘s jacked too?) over some subtle drums and muted horns. Currensy does a good job of explaining what makes him him.

I’ve complained about his constant focus on material items through the tapes we’ve looked at so far. This one doesn’t shy away from that like he has as of late, but it does mellow it out. He isn’t bragging any longer, nor is he trying to push a gangster persona. With “Bubble Gum Gangstas” he goes in on the classic Jay beat from “Imaginary Players.” Currensy addresses the fakes who front on record, he’s addressed his own guilt of this on wax already, it’s cause for a chuckle but he makes a good point when he says he’s gonna sit back and enjoy his good guy image.

Kick back and enjoy the good life seems to be what he has done. He lost the overly seriousness, the hard facade, rolled up a few more planes, got down with his homies who were on the same wavelength and started making music for himself. Roddy and Trademark are here in full effect, I can’t hate on either of em, they never appear enough to really judge what they can do, but as far as guest bars go they handle their own all the time. Fiend is still popping up which is awesome, their chemistry is obvious and it has been since the No Limit era.

2008 sounds about right in my head for when the streetwear culture had hit it’s boiling point and Currensy is embracing it fully here. He’s always been about gear, but shouts out to Neako, BAPE, the Hundreds, Rocksmith, and others throughout the tape is a new reach. It could be his excitement of looking at these companies as peers given he had just inked a clothing deal for Fly Society at the time of recording this. Wonder where those clothes ended up?

Welcome to The Winner’s Circle is a mixtape from a rapper who has learned some things from time spent in the industry. While it’s not his first tape to be wholly listenable it is his first one that is wholly him. Gone are the leftover tracks, gone is the confusion of how to approach a project that you have sole control over. The best moments of all his previous work and what’s carrying him today is his ability to make people connect with him. He’s found this quality here and experimenting in all the right ways over beats that connect sonically.

Download the tape here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

One Time @ Bandcamp With... TassNata

This week for my bandcamp adventure I went to the North for an emcee out of Canada who goes by TassNata, he makes heartfelt rap that is fully inspired by the mid nineties classics far to few are growing up on these days. If you didn't catch the review or give the album, Between Planets, a listen do that while reading.

Introduce yourself? Where are you from? How old are you? What do you do? How long you been at it?
Yo! I go by the name TassNata, or my goverment is Justin Nerling either is cool haha. TassNata is a play off of latin "Veritas Dignitas" which is truth and dignity, two values i hold very important. Also truth > Justice > Justin > and I'm a libra so my sign is the scales! I recently turned 24, from Vernon BC, spent some years in Victoria as well. I currently work in Kelowna as a mental health worker with autism, and for the schoolboard here as well. Oh yeah, I rap too I guess haha... I been busy writing since at least elementary when I heard Big L, but never recorded until someone showed my how to do it myself when i was 16.

What was your introduction to rap?
I'd say Tupac in Grade 4. My friends older brother bumped it alll the time when I'd be at their house, so I was a big fan until I heard East coast shit, I was obsessed with Biggie, Big L, Jay-Z, and Wu-Tang. I just liked the style more, and how it felt generally.

Does Canada have it's own hiphop history that ran parallel to the growth of the culture in the states?
Of course! Obviously not as internationally dominant as American hiphop became but I mean we had dudes doing it big still! Maestro waddup! The first emcees in Canada I became BIG fans of would have been the Rascalz and Kardinal. But I mean Michie Mee killed it and so many since the 90's.

What is the feeling of the hiphop scene around you? Is it vibrant?
It's cool, where I live there ain't a lot of rappers or artists but MAN, EVERYONE around here is a fan of hiphop. So I appreciate that, and all the support I get at shows. My friend SonReal is from here as well but lives in Van now. Also everyone around here has branched into different things so its great in the sense I'm surrounded by career driven people all the time, they keep me inspired!

You have some Detroit connections on your record, how did those relationships develop? Were you in the lab with them?
Yeah, Detroit is one scene in particular that has me really excited about hiphop in a time when I will admit I was losing faith in the genre. Slum Villa and JDilla were always a major influence to me, before I started rapping. Black Milk came out and dude was incredible, Danny Brown, Apollo Brown, so many people coming out of that side its crazy. We connected through a homie of mine, sup B! who is a promoter and was reaching out to Milk and El for some shows, it just went from there really... dudes were easy to work with and we came out with some crazy tracks! Unfortunately we were not in the lab together but in the near future I'll be heading to Detroit to link and hopefully come out with some new music. We are also starting to lay the groundwork on some videos for the songs as well.

I read through the credits on "Between Planets"... Who are the beatmakers you are working with here?
Big Pops(Northern Profit - Drake, UGK, Dr.Dre,Styles P,Alchemist)
Tone Mason(Grammy Nominees with Fantasia, Jay - Z, Drake, Sean P, AZ)
DJ Crown from France
Neenah from Amsterdam
my homie Lew Ashby
Neo Tempus, him and myself are working on an EP right now actually.

Who do you want to work with musically?
TOUGH question, so many people man, I'm such a fan of all music but I'll give a top 10? No specific order. Jay-Z! Ghostface, Lupe, Alicia Keys, Jake One, Premier, Santogold, The Roots, Bilal & Andre 3000.

Are you listening to anything from the Seattle hiphop community?
Blue Scholars, J. Pinder and Jake.... wanna work with ALL 3 as well.

What's in your ears right now?
To be honest for some reason I hardly listen to hiphop in the Fall. I don't know why but I think I blast so much in the summer, I like to switch it up for a bit and come back fresh when all the biggest records come out later in the year. There is a FEW hiphop records im bumpin still though, so I'm listening to The Black Keys, Nina Simone, Big Boi's new album, an old Coheed and Cambria record (Second Stage Turbine Blade), Album of the Year - Black Milk, and Apollo Brown & Boog Brown - Brown Study.

How long was "Between Planets" in the making? Is it your first release?
3 years man. I took a hiatus when my first daughter was born in 2008. I probably did 100 tracks in the process at least and the majority of the songs on there were all made in 2010. Lullabye, Intro, Why, are all three years old.. and the hidden track caled The Everwonder.

What is next?
8 track untitled EP with my homie Neo Tempus (he produced Stars Fade and Between Planets on my album) The EP is going to have some HEAVY tracks, with a more electronic - melodic vibe, something I think will be different than alot of shit out right now.

Last words? Advice? Rants? Words of wisdom?
Thanks for the love! I hope to visit Seattle soon!!


Thanks to Tass for taking the time to answer my questions, next week it's a beat head from Kansas, Leonard Dstroy. Till next, thanks for rockin.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Munk "Violent Love"

I woke craving something different this morning. I found my way to Rinse for the first time. I'll save my praise for another time, but whatever you have heard about the long running online radio station is probably true. Pretty amazing project.

This is about a group called Munk and the tune "Violent Love" that the visuals above accompany. I like the concept of telling the tale in reverse, showing a situation I'm sure anyone involved in this music game has encountered with their partner, sometimes you just need to listen and escape. But sometimes that's the last thing you can do.

Currensy "Higher Than 30,000 Feet"

Tape two in Currensy’s 2008 monthly mixtape series was done in two days in the LBC section of Los Angeles. Some of the project holds a laid back west coast vibe, but thanks in large part to Spitta’s choice of beats Higher Than 30,000 Feet plays like a vintage east coast project. He even comes off on a couple of these tracks like he was raised around the block from where the track might have been made.

Currensy’s fluidity on the mic is something I’ve heard discussed about the kid before. While he hails from New Orleans, and certainly possess a southern drawl, when he raps he can fit any style. If you’ve been following the tapes so far you’ve already heard “Hear It & Fear It” over the Roots jam “The Next Movement.” I can’t dig on his reusing of a song, but he dispatches the beat with ease telling us a story about a dog Katrina claimed.

Elsewhere he hops on “Hate Me Now” and “Shook Ones.” He sounds good on the later, flows like Hav and P were right there with him. His remake of the former is lackluster to say the least. He spends too much of this tape caught up in the material ideas that flooded rap in the late 90s, I don’t care if your crew is called Fly Society.

His new team’s ideals permeate the entire tape. Lots of talk about cars, girls, fly gear and the planes. He raps on “Grindin” and it’s one of the few times when you actually miss the original emcees. While he can’t work with the Neptunes minimal sounds, he handles “Feelin It” like a pro and should Jay hear it, if he hates that’s all it is.

Throughout all these projects Mr. Marcello has remained a presence. Today he is no where to be found, but at one point this was Spitta’s go to guy I think. He raps decent enough, on “Do What It Do” his deep voice sounds perfectly grimey for the bouncy beat. He also gets his own bonus track at the end of the project, dropping a 16 that’s forgettable.

Being out West for the recording of the project, how could he not link with his West coast counterpart to the Jets, aptly named F.S. West. Ha. Sometimes rappers lack any originality what so ever. These guys sound like hangers on and whats worse when Currensy joins the posse cuts he only stands out for his voice.

The Hot Spitta has gone up and down throughout the five tapes I’ve reviewed so far. At his best he can convey a genuine, stoned out, skater kid that spits raps about his life and how fly he is. At his worst he sounds like an arrogant fool who happens to have some flow and nothing to say. Higher than 30,000 Feet is more of the later unfortunately.

Download the tape here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In The Woods.TV: Far From Home

Got hit up by this guy Will via facebook complimenting my Teebs interview. He works with the Portland based In the Woods internet TV station. They got some cool features on the site, dig into it and peep this snippet they caught of Teebs rocking out and tweaking sounds out. Think Ardour might have to be the soundtrack to my bus ride home this evening.

What's all the hype about, who is J. Cole?

That's who J. Cole is. If you didn't watch it, you should. I haven't been sold on dude, still not but he is slightly captivating and I'm intrigued. He's coming to town on the 23rd to rock Neumos. While it's his first headlining appearance in town, he was here last October with his boss - Jay-Z.

I didn't catch that set, my roommate at the time did and wasn't impressed. He was the one who told me to listen to The Warm Up but I never did. Until this past week. Today I went back to it again while writing something about him for a friend. He has an interesting story that is unlike many of his peers.

He graduated college in 2007 and quickly put together his first tape. This cat isn't only a college grad, he finished magna cum laude. Since then he has become the first artist signed with Jigga's new Roc Nation label and released one more mixtape, with another scheduled to drop in a couple days although the hype has been minimal and his album has already seen delays.

Regardless of what's happening with his projects, what is out shows an emcee that's talented and smart. He obviously isn't just a book smart kid, and his rhymes reflect both sides of his education. He makes beats and pulls on heavy drums and dusty samples like so many NYC legends, his samples and overall vibe of his music can't escape his heritage in the south however and you hear southern soul seeping out of many of his cuts. He owns the industry beats he takes as well. I guess I do like J. Cole.

Download the Warm Up here.

Listening this morning and learning a bit more about him has made me a bit more a fan, I'm still curious as to where exactly he is going and I'm not convinced he is always really talking about anything. Critiques with answers in time. Right now I'm gonna let "Last Call" replay once again. Check out his tapes and catch him at Neumos on the 23rd.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Currensy "Independence Day"

The sweet smell of freedom. After many years tied to two of the biggest labels of their time, and with nothing more than three mixtapes to show for it, Currensy goes independent and emerges two years after Life At 30,000 Feet with Independence Day. It was, as he said, the first of a seven month long series seeing him drop a tape a month.

The first thing to know about Independence Day is that while the music is better than any of the previous tapes, it lacks a cohesive feel that he had started to touch with Life at 30,000 Feet. It’s not surprising being that this is his first project in two years, I’m sure these songs are pulled from sessions years apart. Sometimes the quality tells you, sometimes the mixing does and sometimes Spitta does.

The great thing about it is that he is doing him for the first time. I've made a point of the fact he wasn’t talking about weed overly on his previous ones, it’s still not as big trend but it is building it’s place in his persona. The beat selections are very blunted beats, or they are club bangers you’ve probably heard a different rapper on. Perhaps none of these are original?

You begin to hear the carefree side of the man. He makes a song about dealing with his cell phone that’s hilarious, honest, and relateable to no end. For anyone who has been stuck on a girl for no apparent reason, you have to listen to “She’s on My Mind.” Another hilarious couple verses from Currensy and he takes the prize for the first rapper I’ve ever heard use the word ribbing. I thought it was clever.

Elsewhere he and his homies rock, Roddy makes some appearances and pretty much sounds the same which might bug some but I won’t complain about listening to Roddy spit. He completely outshines Joey Queans on “Passport Sports.” A familiar face from the first project, Mr. Marcelo shows up and he still doesn’t stand out to me.

As the record plays out it’s choppiness starts to wear, it looses interest from time to time and when dealing with pot heads you know you gotta keep em captivated. His braggadocios lyrics are still occupying too much time. As is talk of money and it’s accompanying perks.

My opinion of this tape is as varied as the 23 songs present. He raps over hella different selections. I think this is one reason I like Spitta, he is a Hip Hop head to the bone. He has lived and breathed this culture for ever. I don’t feel that from every rapper. Doesn’t mean they haven’t but does mean he can personify better than many. That’s a valuable asset.

For a project that is re-announcing you to a scene you had begun to break the ice with Independence Day is decent enough. Perhaps that is why he made it sporadic. Here is all of me. It’s all an evolution and who are we to complain at the end of the day? It’s not like he’s asking us to pay anything. Download it here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tassnata "Between Planets"

Tassnata is a young emcee haling from Canada. While our Hip Hop counterparts to the north have never really seen the kind of success in the states that your average, nondescript rapper from the block can a few from the North have proven bars and flow aren’t just an American trait.

Tass wears his life on his sleeve. It’s what he knows and what he raps about. He discusses being broke, being abandoned by his family, growing up, traveling, having fun, and a whole lot more. Between Planets is a well rounded journey that will leave you satisfied and intrigued, questioning what he had to say and desiring to hear more.

I’ve had several friends vacation in Mexico this year, had even more say they wish they could visit the country. Tass makes a song about running away to the Southern country that is pretty funny and heartfelt, we all just want to get away every now and then. The beat features some guitar that is distinctly latin, if it’s a sample I wouldn’t be surprised if it was pulled from a record originating in Spain. It works regardless, with some heavier drums layered you won’t have any problem nodding your head or moving your feet to it with a lovely senorita.

Tassnata sounds like a dude who has gone through some shit in his life, yet he doesn’t dwell on anything overly negative - the true sign of someone who has overcome great adversity. You can hear the pain, but the hope is so much larger throughout this album. “You & Me” sees him rocking over a great Tone Mason beat discussing his love for the special lady in his life. People would be lucky to find someone to care about this thoroughly.

He calls on a few guests throughout the record. Detroit is present which is never a bad thing. Promise caught my ear last year rocking over some FlyLo production and just generally doing what it is 313 cats do with ease. He shows up here on “Remember” next to Black Milk, who needs no words of description. Addressing the past and their individual memories, they speak on the old vs. new worlds of Hip Hop but don’t close any doors on where it’s going. Appreciate the old and use it to grow into something greater.

Between Planets will keep you listening. Tass lacks nothing when it comes to the basics of emceeing. He has a captivating flow and writes about things place him solidly in the every man rap category. This isn’t a bad thing but it may not be the most popular of circles with the flood of this style of rhyme. If you’ve enjoyed Blu or Phonte, among the many others who have tried to perfect Slugs methods, Tassnata is someone who needs to be heard.

Listen and download below!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fact Magazine Mixes

Fact Magazine has received a lot of praise over the last year or two for being a consistent home for news about new music and music itself. Based in London, Fact tends to focus on the electronic sounds emerging from their city and other like minded ones throughout the world.

While you can get your music news anywhere Fact Mag also provides something exclusive: Twice weekly mixes. Mix number 200 should premiere on Monday sometime and while they keep them live for three weeks they also recently uploaded all past mixes onto their Mixcloud account.

That's just one mix you can find there from the founder of the label that Glass Candy calls home, Italians Do It Better. Dig deep you will find LHF, Space Dimension Controller, Prevelist, Four Tet, album of the year contender Guido, Brainfeeder Lone, a few different LuckyMe representers and the list could continue but I'll spare you the music nerd shock and awe.

I will mention that these mixes tend to feature exclusives, originals and rarities you aren't likely to find regardless of what.cd access or serious Google patience. If your Sunday afternoon was meant for relaxing with some new music put one of Fact's mix on stream and introduce yourself to something new, it's bound to happen. I'll leave you with a personal fav from Bass Clef.