Category: Single Review

Blaccout Garrison is an up-and-coming, Minnesota-based artist and singer/songwriter and on his recently released EP, Hungry Soulful, the Minnesota-based artist teams up with the Chicago-based R&B vocalist and singer/songwriter The Elle, Jackson, WY-based emcee Abstract on “Strawberry Cheesecake Dessert.”

The song features Garrison and Abstract trading verses about the women they’re in love with — and they do so in old school terms, as they talk about these women as being confident, strong, stunning and smart as hell, and how they’d treat their women like queens and goddesses while The Elle contribute the soulful and seductive hook over production from Dthr33, who uses what is a familiar sample to real hip-hop heads — the soulful and jazzy sample that comprises A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Bonita Applebum,” to craft a song that channels golden era hip-hop and its positivity.

Certainly in age in which contemporary, male hip-hop artists refer to women as “thots” hearing an old-school leaning love song is much-needed and refreshing — and is perfect for a Sunday afternoon with that special someone.

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Brooklyn-based emcee Shabaam Sahdeeq has had a lengthy 20 year career in hip-hop — and considering that hip-hop has long been a fickle genre, lasting more than a decade is a rather impressive feat. Of course after two decades, some people would think that an artist would start to slow down; however, Shadeeq has been hungrier than ever, as he proves on “Get It,” the first single off his Modern Artillery EP, slated for an October 13 release through Dutch/Swedish label, Elite Fleet Records. You can also purchase the EP on cassette when it’s available for Cassette Store Day on October 17.

“Get It,” produced by Dutch producer Big Ape features Sahdeeq spits some fiery verses full of braggadocio and pertinent advice for future artists while priming folks for what to expect on this EP and future projects — pure hip-hop comprised of emcees spitting bars and lyrics over dope beats. Speaking of production, Big Ape’s production consists of bright, brassy bells paired with a chopped up guitar sample backed by tweeter and wooter rattling, boom-bap beats and some incredible scratching throughout. The track channels hip-hop’s golden age, complete with a street banging grittiness.

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you will likely be pretty familiar with the Brooklyn-based music and art collective Dead Leaf Echo. The band has a growing national and international profile as they’ve made appearances at SXSW, CMJ, NXNE, Northside Festival and the Beautiful Noise Festival, toured with and/or played one off shows with The Wedding PresentA Place to Bury Strangers, . . . And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Psychedelic Furs, Chapterhouse, Ulrich SchnaussWeekend, Lorelei, The Ocean Blue, The Warlocks, Beach Fossils, and The Telescopes. They’ve had a number of singles top CMJ’s Top 20 Indie charts and have appeared on renowned indie station KEXP‘s John in the Morning twice, and on Nic Harcourt’s KCSN show. 

Their 4AD Records-inspired full-length debut Thought and Language, a concept album that followed a child from his conception, through birth until he grasps thought and language was released to critical praise across the blogosphere. The follow-up to their debut full-length, true.deep.sleeper was produced by Monte Vallier, who’s best known for his work with Weekend and Wax Idols was released last year.

Currently, the members of Dead Leaf Echo are in the studio working on their sophomore full-length effort, with Vallier taking up production duties. But in the meantime, the band released a 7 inch single last month and made an appearance at the Desert Stars Festival on a bill that included Swervedriver and The Lemonheads. “Lemonheart” is the first single from the 7 inch and the song reveals a subtle change in their songwriting arppaoch as the gorgeously shimmering guitar chords jangle so subtly and are paired with forceful percussion and ethereal vocals floating just above the mix, while still remaining faithful to the shoegaze sound that has captured the attention of the blogosphere.

Founded by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Tinariwen can trace their origins back to the mid and late 1970s when Alhabib, who had been inspired to learn the guitar from an old Western film, in which a cowboy played a guitar, joined other Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria, who were exploring the radical chaabi protest music of Moroccan groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala; Algerian pop rai; and western artists like Elvis PresleyLed ZeppelinCarlos SantanaDire StraitsJimi HendrixBoney M, and Bob Marley.

While in Tamanrasset, Algeria, Ag Alhabib started a band with Alhassane Ag Touhami and brothers Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Liya Ag Ablil, and they began playing the traditional sounds of the Taureg people at weddings and parties across Algeria and Libya. Interestingly, when they started, the band had no official name but people began calling them Kel Tinariwen, which in the Tamashek language translates roughly as “The People of the Deserts” or “The Desert Boys.”

In 1980, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi released a decree inviting all young Tuareg men, who were living illegally in Libya to receive full military training, as part of his dream of forming a Saharan regiment, comprised of the best young Tuareg fighters to further his territorial ambitions in Chad, Niger, and elsewhere across Northern Africa. Al Alhabib and his bandmates answered the call and received military training. They answered a similar call in 1985, by leaders of the Libyan Tuareg movement and wound up meeting fellow musicians Keddou Ag Ossade, Mohammed Ag Itlale (aka “Japonais”), Sweiloum Ag Alhousseyni, Abouhadid Ag Alhousseyni, and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni — all who had sang and played guitar. The musicians joined together in a collective — now known across the world as Tinariwen — in order to write songs about the issues facing their people, built a makeshift stood and vowed to record music for free for anyone who supplied a blank cassette tape. And naturally, as a result their homemade cassette tape series  were highly sought after, and were traded throughout Saharan Africa. (It’s also incredibly punk — perhaps more punk, than anything most Western artists could ever come up with.)

In 1989. the members of the collective had left Libya and relocated to Ag Alhabib’s birthplace of Tessalit, Mali; however, by the next year Mail’s Tuareg population revolted against the Malian government, with some members of the collective participating as rebel fighters. After a peace agreement known as the Tamanrasset Accords were reached in early 1991, the  members of Tinariwen left the military and devoted themselves to music full-time — and by 1992, some of the members of the collective were to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to record a cassette at JBZ Studios, and they occasionally played gigs for far-flung Tuareg communities throughout Saharan Africa, which helped the band gain word-of-mouth popularity among their people.

Tinariwen started to receive international attention after they had began collaborating with the renowned French world music ensemble Lo’Jo — with the result being the highly acclaimed 2001 Festival au Desert in Essakane, Mali. Greater attention came to the band when the play their first UK performance at that country’s largest, free African festival, Africa Oye. And the year was topped by the release of their full-length debut, The Radio Tisdas Sessions, their first recording to be released outside of their native Northern Africa. Coincidentally, this has gone on as the collective has gone through some lineup changes, incorporating a younger generation of Tuareg musicians, musicians who didn’t live during some of the military conflicts of the older generation, including bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida, and vocalists Wonou Walet Sidati and the Walet Oumar sisters.

As the collective has started to see greater international attention, they’ve toured regularly across the European Union, North America, Japan and Australia, often playing at some of the world’s biggest and highly renowend music festivals including Glastonbury, Coachella, Roskilde, Les Vieilles Charrues, WOMAD, FMM Sines and Printemps de Bourges. And they’ve won over an incredible list of celebrity fans and champions including Carlos Santana, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, U2‘s Bono and The Edge, Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke, Coldplay‘s Chris Martin, Henry Rollins, Brian Eno, and TV on the Radio, among others. And it shouldn’t be surprising because of their hauntingly gorgeous music rooted in the poetry and traditions of the tough, rebellious people of Northern Africa — and in some way, the material captures the vast expanse of the desert as their sound seems to arch heavenward . . .

At the end of last year, the members of Tinariwen played a show in Paris and invited the legendary grand dame of Tamashek culture, Lalla Badi, one of Tuareg culture’s beloved master of the tinde, which is both a percussive instrument covered by taut goatskin, played by women and a poetic repertoire sung at ceremonies and special and intimate occasions. Not only is she considered the paradigm of Tuareg femininity, she has also long been an outspoken advocate for Tuareg culture and causes, as well as being a mentor to the members of Tinariwen in their early incarnation. The end result was a live recording of their Paris show, Live in Paris slated for a November 20 release through Anti- Records.

The first single off the live album “Tinde Final Tinariwen” is a hauntingly gorgeous track that begins with droning guitar chords, propulsive percussion and a collection of male vocals crying and chanting before Badi’s regal vocals joining in on a composition that marries ancient traditions with contemporary sound. Indeed, there’s a forcefulness to the composition but it arches heavenward with lilting, trance inducing beauty that’s awe-inspiring.