Category: hip-hop

New Video: Everlast’s Searing Indicment of Instagram Culture

Born Erik Francis Schrody, the Valley Stream, NY-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and emcee Everlast is a multi-Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum selling artist. best known for as being the frontman and co-founder of House of Pain, a member of hip-hop supergroup La Coka Nostra, which featured members of House of Pain and others, and for an lengthy solo career that he can trace back to the late 80s as a member of Ice T’s Rhyme Syndicate collective; but he’s probably best known for his critically and commercially successful sophomore album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, which featured smash hits “What It’s Like” and “Ends,” and for his Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Carlos Santana “Put Your Lights On.” 

Everlast’s seventh full-length album Whitey Ford’s House of Pain was released last month through the Valley Stream-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s own label Martyr-Inc.. The album is the first batch of new material since 2011’s Songs of the Ungrateful Living and the album’s latest single “Don’t Complain” is centered by his imitable gruff and raspy vocals and a bluesy production featuring strummed acoustic guitar and boom bap drumming — and much like the bulk of his solo catalog, the single is a searing indictment of the phoniness and douchebaggery of Instagram culture, in which everyone hides their misery and discontent with all the cool shit they’re doing, all the cool shit they own and so on.  As Everlast says in press notes,  the song is “about some Hollywood cats I find humorously douchey,”

The recently released video follows a greedy and cynical talent agency, who picks a homeless man off the street to make him famous, only to drop him back on the street a few months later. Throughout the video subtly points at what happens to this man’s soul as he’s becomes a celebrity of sorts, drinking, drugging and womanizing with some influence and power — to cruelly lose it. 

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Planit Hank is a mysterious but up-and-coming, underground producer whose latest effort, the Night Before Purgatory EP is slated for release next month — and the EP finds Planit Hank collaborating with a who’s who of gritty, New York street shit hip hop, including M.O.P., AZ, Canibus, Chris Rivers, Styles P, Kool G. Rap, DJ Evil Dee and a few others. “Life in Crooklyn,” the EP’s latest single is centered by a production that’s equally soulful and mournful as it features an atmospheric and looped horn sample, tweeter and woofer rock boom bap beats and scratching by the incredible DJ Evil Dee. Jeru The Damaja, Buckshot and AZ all wax both nostalgically and heartbreakingly about their rough and tumble childhoods — Jeru The Damaja talks about all the people he knew and loved, who were tragically murdered, with the recognition that without music, he may have ended up much like those he remembered; AZ proudly rhymes about repping Brooklyn all day; Buckshot, arguably one of the best emcees ever manages to pay tribute to BIG, make a brief point about gentrification but while pointing out that gangster shit is still there — and always will be there. But along with that the song focuses on the lack of older heads giving guidance to young cats in the way that happened for these legendary emcees. What makes the track intriguing to me is that it manages to view things from an older perspective but without sounding like crotchety old men, screaming at the clouds and the young cats about how everything fucking sucks, and how the music the kids listen to these days is awful; nor is the nostalgia within the song maudlin. If anything, it speaks to how powerful music can be — that it save the lives of people in desperate circumstances.

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Release Surreal and Gritty Visuals for Bluesy Album Single “Jerome”

Now, throughout the bulk of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere, and as you may recall the act initially formed over 20 years ago as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name Urban Atmosphere. And whether as a trio or a duo, the Minneapolis-based act have developed and maintained a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hip should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as the members of the act find themselves inching to middle age, as well as for relentless touring. 

2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature material reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down family men, who have seen and experienced much more than they can put into words — and while settling down in a much-deserved and peaceful bliss of family and art seems ideal in almost every circumstance, the world has fundamentally changed in a frightening and uncertain fashion. Naturally, if you’re s sensitive and thoughtful person, you can’t help but recognize that while you may have a little paradise, that within a mad, mad, mad world, it won’t last; that “nothing lasts forever,” as a song says. Unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s soon-to-be released seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality and the anxiety and fear that comes with the painful acknowledgment that you’re powerless and that you can’t possibly protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of our world. Thematically sobering, indeed; but the album much like the bulk of their creative output has long been centered around the duo’s deep and abiding friendship. “Virgo,” Mi Vida Loca’s eerie first single may arguably be the most intimate and urgent song they’ve ever written and recorded — and just because the song evokes (and focuses on) the anxieties and fears of our moment, it isn’t completely dark and hopeless. If anything, the song proudly and sincerely says that as a man, it’s okay to admit that you’re scared shitless and not know what the fuck to do about anything; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music, small joys and small victories, and sweet and tender moments that we need to cling to and cherish with every fiber of our beings.  Sonically, the song featured a bluesy production centered around strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey keys and eerily buzzing synths that nodded at Everlast’s Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker. 

Album opening track “Jerome” is the album’s latest single and it continues in a similar vein — featuring a production consisting of a looped sample of boozy and woozy buzzing power chords, rumbling and thumping percussion, brief blasts of twinkling and shimmering synths. Throughout Slug rhymes about the weight of familial history, aging, death, the vapidity and insincerity of social media and a bevy of other things with an incredibly dexterous rhyme scheme but underneath the swaggering self-assuredness of Slug’s delivery is a vulnerability and aching, world weariness. 

Directed by Evidence, the recently released and incredibly cinematic  video for “Jerome” begins with Slug and a homey taking a short ride to house down the street to the home studio, where two tow-headed little ones play with a hill of Legos, while the duo write and record — but some point, Slug quickly realizes that he may be too old for this shit and leaves mid-stream. It’s surreal yet rooted in a gritty reality. 

New Video: Knife Knights Release Hazy and Surreal Visuals for “Low Key”

Throughout the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Ishmael Butler, , the founder of the critically applauded and groundbreaking hip-hop acts Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. Now, as you may recall 10 years ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years near-complete creative silence. In the summer of 2009. Butler quietly unveiled Shabazz Palaces with a pair of self-released EPs that quickly established the project’s unique sound and aesthetic — Butler’s hyper-literate verses full of complex inner and out rhyme scheme paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms. Initially, confidentiality was essential as Butler desperately wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength and not on his long-held reputation, so he adopted a pseudonym for himself.

Interestingly, as Shabazz Palaces’ profile and network expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his various creative pursuits and collaborations. Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who has also been a vital and important collaborator in the Shabazz Palaces web. Blood and Butler can trace their collaboration and their friendship back to when they were introduced to each other at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive fan of Digital Planets, and naturally as all obsessive fans would likely do, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have signed — and Butler dutifully provided.

Over the course of the next few years, they’d run into one another by chance and sometimes they’d make small talk about possibly working together. When Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. Around the same time, Butler, who grew up as an  ardent and passionate hip-hop student began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes  while Blood, an ardent hip-hop fan had always been an inclusive and obsessive music listener; in fact, on every Shabazz Palaces album, Butler and Blood have specifically focused on and delighted at that artistic intersection,  pushing hip-hip into new, psychedelic territories. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

After a decade of collaboration together and the development of a very rich and dear friendships, Butler and Blood have written and recorded a proper full-length together as Knife Knights — 1 Time Mirage, an album that finds the duo and a cast of collaborators and friends creating and weaving a unique sound that meshes soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, bass, noise and chaos with the album representing a free space for unfettered and radical exploration. recorded in three separate sessions, interrupted by Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets tour schedules and Blood’s recording projects. The album’s latest single “Low Key” is centered around a hazy and and hallucinogenic production featuring tribal house-inspired beats and shimmering beats, over which Butler delivers his lyrics like a shamanic incantation. 

Directed by London-based enigmatic luminary Dean Blunt, the recently released video for “Low Key” is equal parts surreal, ridiculous and impenetrable, evoking a dream-like logic within itself, while being hazy and lysergic. 

With the release of The Boy Who Spoke to the Wind, which landed at number 26 on Bandcamp Daily’s 100 Best Albums of the Year, the Chicago, IL-born, Los Angeles, CA-based emcee Lando Chill quickly received national attention for crafting hip-hop that freely encompasses elements of funk, gospel, jazz, indie rock, psych rock and folk music — although Boy Who Spoke to the Wind featured an even more abstract, experimental sound than his previous releases.

Lando Chill’s forthcoming album Black Ego is slated for an October 12, 2018 release through Mello Music Group, and the album continues the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based emcee’s ongoing collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and producer The Lasso. And interestingly, Black Ego’s first single features a lysergic take on West Coast-inspired hip-hop as its centered around a production consisting of shimmering hi hats, wobbling synths and thumping beats — and while trippy, it’s roomy enough to give Lando Chill, Quelle Chris and Rey the space to spit self-assured, swaggering bars. Sonically, the single bears an uncanny resemblance to Black Up and Lese Majesty-era Shabazz Palaces with a grittier vibe.

 

New Video: Renowned JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Return with a Meditation on Life Family and Death in a Turbulent World

Throughout the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere, and as you’ll likely recall, the act formed as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant over 20 years ago under the name Urban Atmosphere. Whether as a trio or a duo, the they’ve maintained a long-held reputation for relentless touring and for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as they inch closer to middle age. And they’ve managed to do so while being one of the more commercially successful indie acts. 

2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature hip-hop reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down men, who have seen and experienced more than they can put into words, raising families —  and while settling down in a much deserved peaceful bliss of art and family seems ideal in almost every circumstance, things seemed to have fundamentally changed in a frightening fashion.  Naturally, if you’re a thoughtful person, you begin to recognize that while your little space in the world is perfect, that within a mad world, it won’t last; that nothing lasts forever, as a song says. And unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s forthcoming seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality and the anxiety that comes with the painful recognition that you’re powerless and can’t protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of this world. For such sobering thematic concerns, the album much like the bulk of their work is centered around the duo’s connection and friendship but as you’ll hear on the album’s eerie first single “Virgo,” the album may arguably be the most intimate and urgent they’ve ever written an recorded — but just because the song evokes the anxieties and fears of our moment, it doesn’t mean it’s completely hopeless. Hell, if anything, it says proudly and sincerely, that as a man, it’s okay to be scared shitless and to not know what the fuck to do; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music and small joys and tenderness that we need to cling to and cherish with ever fiber of our beings. 

Sonically speaking, the song features a bluesy production featuring strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey piano keys and eerily buzzing synths and in some way it nods at Everlast’s Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker. Shot and edited by Jason Goldwatch, the recently released video appears to have been shot on a grainy, old Super 8 film and in some way evokes the sensation of being awakened from the American dream we’ve all been sold and coming to terms with the fact that it was a bad bill of goods that you can’t possibly return. 

Live Footage: Knife Knights on KEXP

If you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this site you’ve been made familiar with Ishmael Butler, the founder of the critically applauded and groundbreaking hip-hop acts Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. A decade ago Butler was preparing to emerge from several years of near-complete silence. In the summer of 2009, Butler unveiled Shabazz Palaces through a pair of self-released EPs that quickly established the project’s unique sound — complex and hyper literate verses paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms. And from the start confidentiality was essential: Butler wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength, and not on his established reputation, so he adopted a pseudonym for himself.

As the project’s profile and network expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his creative pursuits and collaborations; in fact, Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who’s also a vital and important collaborator in Butler’s Shabazz Palaces. Interestingly, Blood and Butler’s collaboration and friendship can trace its origins to when the duo were introduced at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive fan of Digital Planets, and naturally he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have signed — and Butler dutifully provided.

Over the course of the next few years, they’d run into one another by chance and sometimes they’d make small talk about possibly working together. When Butler finally sent Blood a few sons to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. Interestingly, Butler, who grew up a student of hip-hop began absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes while Blood, an ardent hip-hop fan had always been an inclusive and obsessive music listener; in fact, on every Shabazz Palaces album, Butler and Blood have specifically focused on and delighted at that artistic intersection, constantly indoctrinating hip-hop in new sonic territories. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

After a decade of collaboration together and the development of a very rich and dear friendships, Butler and Blood have written and recorded a proper full-length together as Knife Knights — 1 Time Mirage, an album that finds the duo and a cast of collaborators and friends creating and weaving a unique sound that meshes soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, bass, noise and chaos wth the album representing a free space for unfettered and radical exploration. Interestingly, the album’s material was recorded in the three sessions, interrupted by Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets tour schedules and Blood’s recording projects.

Butler, Blood, and a cast of collaborators and friends were invited into Seattle’s KEXP for their live debut, where they performed material off their forthcoming album, slated for a September 14, 2018 release through Sub Pop Records. And while bearing a subtle similarity to their work together in Shabazz Palaces, Blood and Butler’s Knife Knights work manages to feel like a refinement of it while being altogether separate. Yes, they employ samplers and synths but there’s an organic and muscular heft through the use of bass and guitar. And as you’ll hear from the songs they performed during this live session are a bit of a subtle refinement of the duo’s acclaimed work with Shabazz Palaces  but while leaning closer to shoegaze — it’s lysergic but with a swaggering hip-hop vibe that can only be possible through this unique and thrillingly weird collaboration. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Evidence Releases Kaleidoscopic and Psychedelic Visuals for “The Factory”

Throughout the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer Evidence. Now, as you may recall, the emcee and producer, who was born Michael Taylor Perretta is best known as member of renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums — and as a producer, Perretta has worked with Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia, and has a co-production credit on on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

Perretta’s fourth album Weather or Not was released earlier this year, and the album is the first batch of new material from the Los Angeles-based emcee and producer since the 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppingstone. Interestingly a number of singles from the album have been released, including the DJ Premier-produced third single “10,000 Hours,” which featured a swaggering and strutting West Coast gangsta hip-hop meets East Coast boom bap production paired with a criminally unheralded emcee rhyming about the dedication and time he has spent practicing, developing and honing his skills to become one of the very best. The album’s fourth single “Powder Cocaine” continued Evidence’s ongoing collaboration with The Alchemist, who contributed an atmospheric yet soulful production consisting of boom bap beats, warm blasts of bluesy guitar, a chopped up choral vocal sample and a soaring hook, and yet the production managed to be roomy enough to allow Evidence and Slug to trade bars full of diverse metaphors and descriptive symbolism. “Bad Publicity,” Weather or Not’s Nottz-produced fifth single continued in a similar vein as its predecessors as it was centered around a golden era hip-hop production that was roomy enough for  Evidence and Strong Arm Steady‘s gravelly-voiced Krondon to spit fiery, braggadocio-filled bars. 

The album’s latest single is the Twiz the Beat Pro-produced “The Factory,” a track centered around a kaleidoscopic and somewhat ambient production consisting of explosive blasts of scratching, twinkling strings, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats — and much like its predecessor, the production manages to be roomy enough for one of contemporary hip-hop’s most dexterous emcees displaying an uncanny ability to craft complex rhymes with witty and hilarious punchlines.