• Antipop Consortium - Volcano

    19. Nov. 2009, 0:38

    When Antipop Consortium debuted on Dan the Automator's 75Ark label with Tragic Epilouge they pushed themselves to the front of an alternative hip-hop scene with a sound ahead of its 2000 sound. In the year 2009, when that sound now has its own niche, they return on the scene with the incredible Florescent Black to once again push the bounds of sound.

    No place is this more clear then on the spectacular Volcano. The first time I heard it was in the Other Music live in-store video that came out a few months before the album. Just watching their interactions on the stage you could get the sense that the bonds had reformed stronger, and the collective was going to bring it.

    The song itself is nothing short of a club anthem, catchy hook ready to be repeated over and over again. Lyrically nothing gets held back even in the party setting as High Priest illuminates:

    My end when I came in the game was about change / without doubt watching the haters about face!

    But the thing that is most infectious is the beat. Equally a nod to hip-hop anthems of the past and the future. The warbling keys, heavy bss and cracking drums just switch the mind to a futuristic head nod when bionics have insured that no matter how hard the head bumps the neck won't break.
  • Hudson Mohawke - Yonard

    17. Mai. 2009, 17:04

    The first thirty seconds of YoNard sounds contextually left field for the rest of Polyfolk Dance. All of the elements are keeping with the EP's theme but they are dished out in an onslaughtish way that is reminiscent of a Space Opera's battle in hyper-space. Only then to be inverted in upon itself a dished back in the form of a hard hitting El-Pesque hip-hop banger. One minute later we're taken back through the wormhole and left back in the Polyfolk galaxy where the soulful dancing can continue as normal, before going through the wormhole again for a final vamp.

    As the final track on the EP it works on so many levels. The fact that it goes through so many transitions effortlessly is a mark of HudMo's grasp of each. It leaves me with a feeling of both completion and introductions. Put the whole EP on repeat and that final wormhole acts as a gateway which takes you seemlessly back to the beginning.
  • Santogold "LES Artistes" b/w Jay-Z featuring Santogold "Brooklyn (Go Hard)"

    26. Jan. 2009, 8:02

    I have to start this off by saying I'm probably one of Santi White's biggest fans and have been since I first saw her walking around the Wesleyan campus with an electric guitar strapped to her back (context: black girl, electric guitar, Wesleyan). I caught a good number of her Stiffed gigs when they played NY and am quick to point out the role she had in shaping Res. I think she's a spectacular talent and am really proud of the success she's garnered for herself over they years.

    That said, there's something about the song L.E.S Artistes that kind of freaks me out, and no it's not just the video. It's more the sentiment of the song. It's a gentrifiers song, and to be perfectly honest I can't stand gentrification.

    Context: while not a native New Yorker I lived there since I was six. I remember the old L.E.S. (Lower East Side if you didn't know). I actually worked in the area when the first generation of gentrifiers hit with chic restaurants and fashion boutiques. Hip out of towners willing to pay double the going rent rate for the 'ambiance' only to have priced the locals out of their homes two years later. Gentrification sucks.

    Part of me believes this song is a tongue in cheek cleverly written song by Santi making fun of the gentrifiers in the first person. I want to think despite being from Philadelphia, she's talking about the gentrifiers with line like:
    Stop trying to catch my eye
    I see you good you forced faker
    Just make it easy
    You're my enemy you fast talker

    Which could be interpreted many ways, but then she says something like:
    I'm here for myself
    Not to know you
    I don't need no one else

    Each time I hear it I get this chill up my spine. It reminds me of everything I can't stand about New York these days. Especially considering that the L.E.S. Artistes are amongst the most likely to be found singing
    L.E.S Artistes. So even if it is an inside joke for Santi, considering they are the ones who have propelled her to the top of so many Best of 2008 lists, the irony is mind numbing.

    To take it one step further, with the recent release of the movie Notorious came the trendy new Jay-Z song "Brooklyn (Go Hard)" produced by Kanye West featuring a chopped and screwed sample of Santogold's Shove It and a token verse from Santi. The new Brooklyn anthem, from the BK ex-pat, produced by the the cat from Chicago and featuring the fem from Philadelphia. Is Brooklyn in the house? No, not anymore.
  • Flying Lotus "GNG BNG"

    20. Dez. 2008, 18:34

    Flying Lotus's Los Angeles is easily one of my favorites for 2008. Having heard his previous efforts 1983 and Raw Cartoons, two years ago he was amongst the multitude of producers putting out beattape albums which all sort of meshed into one long beat opus. It wasn't until he dropped the EP Reset to christen his signing with Warp that he started standing out from the rest for me. I eagerly awaited Los Angeles and when at last it hit my ears I was very pleased.

    I've heard many people note what makes Los Angeles stand out amongst producer albums is how effortlessly it flows together. It's not a hodge podge of beats but perfect stream of musical consciousness. Pulling out one song from that stream as a best is pretty much an impossible task. Still GNG BNG is definitely a standout for me, as it shows the depth of Flying Lotus as a producer. Opening with something reminiscent of Truth Hurts' DJ Quik produced Addictive (Dirty Version), half way through the whole track changes and becomes what to my ears sounds like an homage to DJ Shadow's Mutual Slump. How many times can you pair those two stellar production influences in the same song. And in true Flying Lotus style it happens effortlessly.
  • Bigg Jus "This is Poor People's Day"

    10. Dez. 2008, 8:05

    In the history books, the rise of EL P from group member to label head, super indie hip-hop producer, overshadows the accomplishments of his former partners, particularly Bigg Jus. If you surveyed people back when Funcrusher Plus was new who was their favorite in the group it probably would have been a fairly even split, and rightfully so. Today though the DefJux head probably wins by default. But only because of massive sleeping.

    Poor People's Day was one of my Top 5 of 2005 album's and This Is Poor People's Day is why. It's not an EL P production but to my ears the track by DJ Gman is a perfect fit. Starting off with a welcoming guitar-chime before huge durms bring Bigg Jus in with a lyrical barrage for the world's poor the likes of which you just don't hear enough these days.
    Be on some bail out your country while privatizing your energy reserves
    While history is written by the conquorer expropriating your wealth
    Poverty is a human rights violation / you ain't privatizing nathan / for every dollar it receives in aid / the third world spends thirteen in debt repayment
    We hold the people in positions of power accountable for their actions
    Corporate subsidies setting poor farmers back generations
    Equally as intense the samples flipped with the full kit chops provide powerful change ups throughout the verse before hitting the subtle bridge which seems to ease the intensity but comes just as critical as Bigg Jus' onslaught. Just an all together powerful song.

    Greedy bastards!!
  • Freestyle Fellowship "Can You Find The Level Of Difficulty In This?"

    12. Sep. 2008, 22:01

    With a track by underrated producer Omid, Can You Find... is perhaps the quintessential Freestyle Fellowship track. Usually Aceyalone and Myka 9 are cited as the lyrical leaders of the group. Perhaps because amongst lyric admirers they represent something closer to the 'pure lyricism' aesthetic, meaning they don't go street level so much with their shit but keep it ethereal. While both P.E.A.C.E. and Self Jupiter tend to provide the reminders that the fellowship are not just underground MC's but LA underground. But on this track everyone shines in a middle ground of ego brag and boast and hyper lyrical craziness.
  • Rob Swift "Vietnam?"

    11. Jun. 2008, 1:00

    Looking forward to the post W. era and thinking of W. era hip-hop, Rob Swift's Wargames is sure to go down as one of the strongest statements made by hip-hop. Vietnam is a perfect example of why. Rob cuts up Mobb Deep's classic Survival of the Fittest with quotes from W's speeches to pull together a statement no verse could.
  • Afghan Whigs - "Going To Town"

    9. Jun. 2008, 22:19

    When the subject of Greg Dulli comes up, quite often it is followed by something about his cinematic style of songwriting. Theoretically all music tells stories, but there's something to be said about the artist that can paint pictures with words, and not just pictures, movies. Black love could easily be a movie soundtrack, for the story of an outlaw, the love of his life and the people that want to see him dead. And if it were, Going To Town would be the shoot out. The rebel and his girl rush into town in a flury of bullets, making their way to the other side as the whole place goes up in flames. Seriously, Dulli wrote a song about it.
  • Me'Shell NdegéOcello "Virgo" & "Lovely Lovely"

    8. Jun. 2008, 5:16

    Listening to Virgo and Lovely Lovely last led me to proclaim that Me'Shell is this generation's Hendrix. It's not a popular one but I'll still stand by it. On these two tracks Me'Shell Ndegéocello shows her growth as an artist. The interplay of rhythms leading groove heavy progressions to natural changes, is a mastery not only of concept but of form. Truly an other worldly musically experience. If this sequence of songs doesn't move you then The World Has Made Me The Man Of My Dreams is not for you.
  • Jose James "Spirits Up Above"

    6. Jun. 2008, 20:26

    For me the standout track on Jose James's The Dreamer (an early pick for the Classic Albums of 2008), Spirits Up Above is one of those songs that speaks to the timelessness of spiritual music even in more secular contexts. One needs not share a religious affiliation with James here to respond in the affirmative when he asks, "Can you feel, the spirits up above?"