Category: hip-hop

New Video: The Cinematic and Lonely Visuals for JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere’s “Earring”

Throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus-year history, I’ve written quite a bit about about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act and JOVM mainstays Atmosphere.  The act formed over 20 years as at trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name Urban Atmosphere — and interestingly, whether as at rio or a duo, the JOVM mainstays have developed and maintained a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as its members find themselves inching towards middle age. 

2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, mature material reflecting men that have seen and experienced more than they could possibly put into words. And while settling down into the much-deserved and peaceful bliss of family and art seems ideal, the world we inhabit has fundamentally changed in a frightening and uncertain fashion.

Unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s seventh album Mi Vida Local thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality, the anxiety and fear that comes from the painful acknowledgment that you’re completely powerless and can’t possibly protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of the world. And while arguably, the most thematically sobering of their growing catalog, their seventh album much like the bulk of their creative output is largely centered around Slug’s and Ant’s deep and abiding friendship. 

The Minneapolis-based JOVM mainstays spent the bulk of the past year touring to support their seventh album, including a Brooklyn Steel stop last year with labelmates, collaborators and fellow Minnesotans The Lioness and deM atlaS. Continuing a lengthy run of touring, the duo will be headlining the Wild Waters Music Festival, an effort to save the Boundary Waters at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth, MN. But just before that the duo released Mi Vida Local’s latest single, the pensive “Earring.” Centered around an eerie, Ennio Morricone-like production featuring looping and shimmering guitars, and soaring vocal sample that’s spacious enough for Slug and Musab to trade deeply reflective bars, focusing on their troubled relationships and their roles in their relationships. And as a result, the song is imbued with the weight of adults honestly looking at themselves and taking stock of themselves and their lives. 

Directed by Colin Floom, the recently released and gorgeously cinematic visual for “Earring” is set the snowcapped peaks of Colorado and shows the song’s two emcees taking a lonely and arduous trek across the frigid terrain — and in the midst of such loneliness and beauty, it seems only natural that they would be forced to reflect on their lives and their decisions. 

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Lyric Video: Clipping’s Eerie New Single “Nothing Is Safe”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based industrial hip hop/experimental hip hop trio Clipping. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, along with emcee Daveed Diggs never expected to achieve anything near commercial success — their earliest releases were centered round Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse, abrasive productions featuring industrial clang, clink and clatter and samples of field recordings paired with Diggs dexterous rapid fire, narrative-driven flow, full of surrealistic, brutally violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio. And with the release of their full-length debut Midcity, the album caught the attention of renowned indie label Sub Pop Records, who over the past decade have developed a reputation for releasing the work of a diverse array of artists including Debo Band, Shabazz Palaces, GOAT, Daughn Gibson and others, as well as the Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio’s 2014 sophomore effort clppng, an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including this site.

When Diggs went on to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton, winning a Tony for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, the act was on an informal hiatus. But during that time, the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays reconvened to write and record 2016’s critically applauded effort Splendor & Misery, a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album that is both futuristic and yet describes our increasingly frightening and bizarre present. 

Clipping’s fourth album (and third through Sub Pop), There Existed an Addiction to Blood is slated for an October 18, 2019 release, and the album, which features guest spots from Ed Balloon, La Chat, Counterfeit Madison and Pedestrian Deposit finds the acclaimed act interpreting another rap splinter sect through their own singular lens — in this case, horror core, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a brief   few moments in the mid 1990s. Some of its pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA — and it included seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphis cassette tape rap. Interestingly, There Existed an Addiction to Blood is partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — the title is derived from the film and the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays sampled part of the score on the album. 

There Existed an Addiction to Blood’s latest single is the menacing and cinematic, “Nothing Is Safe.” Centered around plinking and anxiety-inducing keys and arpeggiated synths, the sparse and eerie horror movie-like production is spacious enough for Daveed Diggs complex, multi-syllabic and dense flow to comfortably unfurl and narrate a tense, paranoiac dread-filled story about a trap house being shot at by a rival gang. Diggs’ narrative is so descriptive and hyper realistic that you can fear the horror of the narrator as he sees his homey get gunned down, feel the bullets whiz past you and hear the chandelier smash into the floor. In this universe, death is a constant, inescapable and malevolent force. And while lovingly employing the tropes of gangsta rap and horror films, complete with doomed and fatalistic characters and scenarios, the track finds the trio expanding upon their sound in a way that nods at Geto Boys’ hallucinogenic “My Mind Playing Tricks On Me.” 

Throughout this site’s nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the ridiculously prolific, New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. And as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for funky, slinky produced and crowd-pleasing remixes and mashups of classic soul, funk. hip-hop and New Wave.

Over the past few months, Rhythm Scholar has released a kaleidoscopic remix of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and a propulsive, house music-leaning remix of one of my favorite Tears for Fears tracks “Head Over Heels.” Interestingly, the New York-based mainstay’s latest remix finds him creating a swaggering and strutting 70s soul and funk-inspired mashup of Warren G.’s and Nate Dogg’s “Regulate” that features loving homages to Edwin Starr, The Blackbyrds, Kurtis Blow, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, some explosive scratching and an extensive nod at Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition” — all while retaining the noir-ish feel of the original.

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the commercially and critically successful London-based soul and funk act The Brand New Heavies. And as you may recall, the act which is led by founding members, primary songwriters and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew was at the forefront of Britain’s late 80s and early 90s Acid Jazz movement, alongside the likes of Young Disciples and Grammy Award-winning and multi-BRIT Award-winning act Jamiorquai.

With the release of their debut single, the celebrated club classic “Got To Give,” through Chrysalis Records, the members of The Brand New Heavies began to make waves in their native UK. Eventually, the band signed to Acid Jazz Records, who released their applauded self-titled debut album in 1990 across Europe and elsewhere, while the album was picked up in the US by renowned hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl. Now, if you were around and conscious back in 1990, you’d likely recall their debut album’s Top Three R&B smash hit, “Never Stop,” which led to the album being on the R&B Album charts for the better part of year — and to the act winning a MTV award for the track. As a result of the wild success of “Never Stop,” the album went on to becoming arguably the most commercially successful of their career, as it went Gold in the UK.

Interestingly, the London-based funk and foul act’s full-length debut proved to be both popular and influential within hip-hop circles. In fact, the members of the band have wound up collaborating with an impressive array of the genre’s luminaries including A Tribe Called Quest, and Kool G. Rap, Gang Starr and Main Source for Heavy Rhyme Experience.

The London-based neo-soul act’s follow-up two immediate efforts — 1994’s Brother Sister and 1997’s Shelter — went Platinum, with the act eventually scoring 16 Top 40 hits including “Dream Come True,” “Stay This Way,” “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Sometimes,” and “Dream On Dreamer.

Coincidentally, the acclaimed London-based funk and foul act have been a major influence on the equally acclaimed, smash-hit multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and singer/songwriter Mark Ronson, who caught their first lineup and first show in New York in 1991. Ronson invited the members of the band to play at his 40th birthday party — and later began collaborating with the band on the first batch of new material in over five years, the disco-like groove “Getaway” which featured a horn line that hinted at Cheryl Lynn‘s 1978 disco smash hit “Got To Be Real,” and the soulfully sultry vocals of longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, with whom they’ve earned their biggest charting, best-selling work.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through their longtime label home Acid Jazz, the band’s forthcoming Sir Tristan Longworth-produced album TBNH finds The Brand New Heavies carefully refining and reimagining the sound that won them international acclaim while featuring a variety of vocalists throughout the album — including longtime vocalists N’Dea Davenport and Siedah Garret along with Beverly Knight, Angie Stone, current vocalist Angela Ricci and labelmate Laville. TBNH‘s latest single is a breezy, 70s soul-tinged cover of Kendrick Lamar‘s “These Walls” that features longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, a warm, Quincy Jones-like horn arrangement, twinkling Rhodes and a sultry hook — and while retaining the soulfulness and swagger of the original, The Brand New Heavies gently push the street banger into the lounge and into the club.

 

 

 

Norwegian-born musicians Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar) and Chris Holm (bass) have made a living touring with a number of bands and as a result, they’re frequently on the road. When Blømstrøm and Holm’s paths crossed for the umpteenth time in 2016, they began to realize their mutual dream of starting an instrumental-based band. Holm’s Bergen scene companion Kim Åge Furuhaug joined the band, completing the lineup of up-and-coming instrumental act Orions Belte.

With the release of their full-length, last year’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established themselves for having a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from French Riviera, Formula one traces at Monza and the famous 1971 “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Building upon a growing international profile, the act’s soon-to-be released Slim EP features a couple of inventive reworkings of songs they love — including Ghostface Killah and Milton Nascimento and a Robert Maxwell original that pays tribute to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and to Mac Miller.

Slim‘s first single is a funky and shuffling take on Ghostface Killah’s “Cherchez La Ghost” centered around a shimmering 12 bar blues guitar line, thumping drumming and a sinuous bass line — and while the song recalls El Michels Affair’s critically applauded take on the Wu-Tang Clan, Orions Belte’s breezy arrangement hints at twangy, old-school honky tonk, 70s funk and soul while retaining the song’s melody and swagger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Montreal’s Planet Giza Release a Lysergic Visual for “Ace Boogie Energy”

Up-and-coming Montreal-based hip-hop and production trio Planet Giza — comprised of Rami B, Tony Stone and Dumix — have released a series of efforts over the last couple of years, including last year’s ZZZ EP. Sonically, the trio effortlessly meshes elements of hip-hip, soul and funk into a unique sound that clearly nods to the past, but with a look towards the future, all while reflecting their multi-cultural backgrounds. Naturally, the trio cite the diversity of their hometown, as well as their widely-varying musical influences that inlaced Lil Boosie, Madlib, Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson and others. And as a result some critics have said that their sound easily sits with contemporaries such as The Internet, Kaytranada (who they collaborated with on “Domina”) and Godlink. 

The Montreal hip hop and production trio’s latest effort, the recently released Added Sugar is reportedly the trio’s most versatile release to date, as the material finds the members of Planet Giza crafting an effortlessly meshing elements of R&B, electro pop, hip-hop and others into a sleek and lushly texture sound paired with dexterous and perfectly delivered bars. Additionally, the Canadian hip-hop and production trio collaborate with Mick Jenkins and Kaytranada, who co-produced a track on the effort. (The trio also produced Goldlink’s “Ridd,” which the artist performed earlier this week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.) 

Added Sugar’s latest single “Ace Boogie Energy” is centered around a lush, sleek and incredibly hyper modern production featuring shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering hi-hat, tweeter and woofer rocking low end paired with emcees ruthlessly rhyming about  hustling and taking over the industry. The Touchemoipas-directed visual is partially inspired by “Paid In Full” but with a subtly  lysergic air. 

New Video: Introducing the Brash Style-Defying Sounds of South Africa’s Sho Madjozi

Sho Madjozi is an up-and-coming, indie rapper from Shirley Village, Limpopo South Africa – – and with the release of her critically applauded, full-length debut Limpopo Champions League late last year, Madjozi emerged both nationally and internationally for her writing and rhyming in both her native Xitsonga and English, her vibrant fashion sense and for crafting material that at points focuses on being a young African woman, a proud member of the Tsonga tribe. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Madjozi was nominated for a Nigeria Sound City Award for Best New Artist, was named Apple Music’s Artist of the Month for January and played a critically praised set at the CTM Festival in Berlin — and her Edcon Fashion clothing line debuted across 22 Edgars Fashion shops across South Africa. 

Limpopo Champions League’s latest single is the infectious “Idhom” is centered around Madjozi swaggering and self-assured rhymes in Xitsonga and English over a tweeter and woofer rocking production featuring blocks of shimmering, arpeggiated synths and thumping beats and an enormous hook — and while indebted to grime an trap, the song possesses a brash, youthful and coquettish energy paired with a proud, defiant Blackness /African-ness.

Directed by Sho Madjozi, the recently released video was shot in Madjozi’s home village Shirley Village and features the kids in her home village, in an extended selfie with their local hero with a group of kids passing along a cell phone to each other, capturing day to day life in a small African village, paired with some bold animation from PUKS. 

New Video: Freddie Gibbs and Madlib Announce Their Long-Awaited Second Collaborative Album and Release a Cinematic Visual for “Crime Pays”

Born Fredrick Jamel Tipton, the Gary, IN-born emcee and JOVM mainstay Freddie Gibbs initially signed with Interscope Records in 2006 and after recording his full-length debut with the label, the Gary, IN-born emcee was dropped as a result of the label’s management changing hands — and the album was subsequently shelved; however, with the release of 2009’s The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, a prolific series of mixtapes and his 2013’s full-length debut ESGN (Evil Seeds Grow Naturally), Gibbs quickly established a reputation for being a talented lyricist and narrative-based storyteller with an imitable, gruff flow. 

Gibbs’ work largely focuses on street shit and hustling but unlike most of his peers, who take on exaggerated, superhuman personas and describe tales in which their heroes always win, Gibbs pulls the showbiz curtains aside with a frank and unvarnished honesty and realism. His characters inhabit a world much like own, full of gritty, almost Darwinistic struggles in which men and women do evil things to others to get by, fully aware of the fact that they’re paving roads to their own unique, fucked up hell.  And as a result, the Gary, IN-born JOVM mainstay became a go-to collaborator, working with an impressive list of artists and producers including Young Jeezy, Juicy J, Philadelphia Freeway, Dom Kennedy, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Big K.R.I.T., Cardo, DJ Burn One, Speakerbomb, Block Beattaz, Beatnick and K-Salaam, Chip tha Ripper, The Cool Kids‘ Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks, Krayzie Bone, SpaceGhostPurrp, Jadakiss, Kirko Bangz, Jay Rock, Curren$y and others. 

Five years ago, Gibbs teamed up with Madlib, arguably one of hip-hop’s dopest, most inventive and prolific producers on the critically and commercially successful Piñata, which landed at #38 on the Billboard 200 and number seven on the US Top Rap Albums Charts. At the time of its release, I compared Piñata to Small Professor’s and Guilty Simpson’s collaboration Highway Robbery as both albums were the result of a shared artistic vision that channelled golden era hip hop.

In 2016 Madlib announced that he would be working with Madlib on their second album together Bandana, and that many of the rejected beats he auditioned for Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo would appear on the new album. Gibbs and his manager later confirmed that on Twitter. During that same period, the Gary, IN-born JOVM mainstay was busy with the release of his third solo album, 2017’s You Only Live 2wice and last year’s Fetti, a collaborative album with Curren$y.

Interestingly, three years after its initial announcement, the long-awaited Bandana is slated for a June 28, 2019 release through Keep Cool Records, RCA Records, Madlib Invazion and ESGN. Earlier this year, Gibbs and Madlib released Bandana’s first single, the album title track “Bandana,” which featured dancehall artist Assassin. Bandana’s second and latest single “Crime Pays” is centered around a Roy Ayers-like shimmering, old-school 70s jazz soul sample and Gibbs gruff and imitable baritone dexterously rhyming about the street shit and hustling that he’s well-known for, but underneath that is the bitter recognition that you can roll the dice so many times before hitting snake eyes at some point. 

Directed by Nick Walker, and starring Gibbs as himself, Zoe Neal as Farm Girl, John Pistone as Farm Guy 1, Mazen Shehabi as Farm Guy 2 and Benedikt Sebastian, the recently released video for “Crime Pays” is set on a farm in the seemingly fiction Mt. Kane. Gibbs’ character is a farm owner, who owns a massive property with three male helpers, who he cajoles and chides endlessly for being lazy, slow, stupid and so on. In fact, Gibbs’ character is so rich that he owns horses and zebras — but the video slowly reveals that they’re running a drug scheme that involves stashing loads of drugs in hay for delivery and distribution elsewhere. Gangster as fuck, indeed.