Tag: Detroit MI

Born Ryan Daniel Montgomery, Royce da 5’9″ is a Detroit, MI-born and-based emcee, best known for his longtime association with Eminem, with whom he’s one half of duo, Bad Meets Evil, a critically applauded solo career, primarily collaborating with Carlos “6 July” Broady and DJ Premier, as well as ghostwriting for the likes of Diddy and Dr. Dre. He’s also a member of Slaughterhouse, an All-Star hip-hop act that also features Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, and one half of PRhyme with the legendary DJ Premier.

As the story goes, Royce da 5’9″ signed his first deal with Tommy Boy Records, who offered him $1 million while Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment offered him $250,000 and unlimited beats, a decision that he described as one of his biggest regrets in a 2016 Complex interview. After Tommy Boy Records closed, the Detroit-based emcee signed a deal with Columbia and Game Recordings, with whom he began recording an album then titled Rock City, a title which referred to Detroit being the former (and best known) home of Motown Records. When the album wound up being heavily bootlegged, the Detroit-based emcee left that label for Koch to re-record the album, eventually releasing it 2002 as Rock City (Version 2.0). And although the album didn’t sell well, the DJ Premier-produced single “Boom” helped Royce achieve some underground recognition and lead to the two working more closely with PRhyme.

Their 2014 debut album together featured both artists going out of their comfort zones, and expanding upon their familiar sounds; in fact, Premier enlisted the compositional skills of Adrian Younge, whose work he sampled throughout the album’s production while Royce da 5’9″ traded bars with the likes of MF Doom and Little Brother‘s Phonte on the initial release, and with The RootsBlack Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Logic on the deluxe edition released the following year. PRhyme 2, the duo’s long-awaited sophomore effort is slated for a March 16, 2018 and the album’s latest single “Rock It” features a swaggering production consisting of shimmering synths, twinkling keys, boom bap beats, some of Premier’s classic sampling and scratching which Royce da 5’9″ waxes nostalgic over some of his favorite artists, while reminding listeners that he’s one of contemporary hip-hop’s sadly under-appreciated emcees; but perhaps more important, in an age in which most mainstream artists increasingly sound the same, real hip-hop that I remember  — dope emcees spitting bars over slick and thumping production still exists and is still absolutely necessary.

 

 

 

Throughout the bulk of this site’s almost 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Detroit, MI-based proto-punk/punk rock band Death, and as you may recall, the band which featured The Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar) and Dannis (drums) — formed back in 1971, and initially they were an R&B and funk-based act  — until The Hackneys caught The Who and Alice Cooper live. As the story goes, after those concerts, David, the youngest of the siblings pushed his two older brothers towards a more hard rock-leaning sound; a sound that interestingly managed to presage punk, post-punk and the Afropunk movement while necessitating a name change. And from that point forwards the band went by Death. As Bobby Hackney famously explained in a 2010 interview that David’s concept was to spin death from the negative to the positive. “It was a hard sell,” Bobby Hackney recalled.

In 1975, the Hackneys went into Detroit’s United Sound Studios with engineer Jim Vitti to record a handful of songs written by David and Bobby, and according to the Hackney family Clive Davis funded the recording sessions; but while doing so, he had repeatedly implored and cajoled the band into changing their name into something more commercially palatable.  David refused, and his brothers while initially okay with a name change went along with their brother’s vision. Davis pulled out his financial investment, leaving the band with seven of the twelve songs they had planned to record. 1976 saw the extremely limited release of the “Politicians In My Eyes”/”Keep On Knocking” single, which was recorded during the United Sound Studios sessions and their full-length, which was released to very little fanfare.

By 1977, the Hackney Brothers decided it was time to end Death, and then relocated to Burlington, VT where they released two gospel rock/Christian rock albums in the late 70s and very early 80s as The 4 Movement. However, by 1982 David Hackney had returned to Detroit while Bobby and Dannis remained, eventually forming a reggae band Lambsbread. From what I understand there was a point where The Hackney Brothers had discussed reforming Death but unfortunately, David Hackney died of lung cancer in 2000. However, as the two surviving Hackney Brothers claim, David told them shortly before his death that although they were misunderstood and forgotten in their day, history would prove them and their work together as being truly revolutionary — but that it would mostly likely be after his own death. In a wild yet very true spin of serendipitous fortune that seems as though it were written by a screenwriter, Bobby’s sons had stumbled across the original Death masters hidden away in their parents’ attic, several years after David’s death. Bobby’s sons were impressed by their father’s and their uncles’ work that they began covering Death as a loving homage that began to receive attention both nationally and internationally.

As a result of the growing buzz around the band, Drag City Records, re-released Death’s original recordings in 2009, 35 years after its initial recording and release, and from those recordings the material proved David Hackney correct, revealing that Death’s sound and aesthetic managed to be 3 years ahead of the punk revolutionary while simultaneously playing an important role in Black music history, as they managed to fill in the gaps between Parliament Funkadelic, Bad Brains and Fishbone, while presaging the likes of Lenny Kravitz, TV on the Radio, Prince,  Unlocking the Truth and a list of others. Since the re-issue of their early demos and their full-length, Death with its current line up featuring the surviving Hackney Brothers — Bobby (bass, vocals) and Dannis Hackney (drums) with Bobbie Duncan (guitar), have had a documentary about their incredible story, released new material and spent time touring and playing on the festival circuit, including an incredible Afropunk Festival set, which has introduced the trio, their story and their sound to eager and appreciative new audiences.

Death’s latest single “Give It Back” was originally written by the band’s Bobby Hackney in 1979 and re-recorded last year but interestingly enough, the song concerns itself with persistent and troubling social and environmental issues that he saw almost 40 years ago, from increasing political, racial and social animus and disarray, global warming and the pollution of our water and air, and a growing sense that dreams and hopes you once had have been lies created by larger powers to keep you involved in a sick and demented system that exploits and destroys human lives and the only home we’ll ever know. The overall theme of the song is as you’ll hear in the lyrics “We’ve taken from this world, now it’s time to give it back” suggesting that there’s only one time to get it right, before we fuck it all up royally — and they pair that with a classic, Detroit rock ‘n’ roll groove that immediately brings The Dirtbombs to mind.

 

 

New Video: The Trippy and Sounds Visuals for Mint Field’s Expansive New Single “Quiero Otoño de Nuevo”

With the release of their debut EP Primeras Salidas, the Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico-based duo Mint Field, comprised of 21 year-olds Estrella Sanchez and Amor Amezcua, quickly received international attention that included sets at some of North America’s […]

New Video: The Funky Retro-futuristic Visuals and Sounds of Austin’s Neosho

Comprised of Missouri-born Jackson Bennett (vocals, production) and Oklahoma-born Justin Bernard Williams (production, samplers, synths, saxophone), the Austin, TX-based electronic music production and artist duo Neosho can trace their origins to when the duo met on an online forum for introspective, extroverted Ableton artists called solipsism. Once Bennett  and Williams realized that they were different types of weird, they tentatively agreed to start a band — and initially, they started out as a duo and later expanded into a quartet on two different occasions before finally settling as a duo. Interestingly, the duo derive their name from the river and town Neosho, which is on the border of Oklahoma and Missouri. 

Sonically speaking the duo have received attention across Austin for a strutting and swaggering sound based around driving grooves, boom bap-like drum programming, stuttering samples, shimmering synths and soulful blasts of horns as you’ll hear on “Time Traveler,” a single off the duo’s recently released debut effort Borderline — and while reminding listeners of Detroit’s Griz and others, the song reveals a duo whose sound draws from hip hop, house music and John Carpenter soundtracks.

Directed by the duo’s Justin Bernard Williams, the recently released video consists of computer generated animation cut with footage of a jeans and cowboy boot wearing man walking forward and backwards, as though they entered a wormhole. It’s trippy yet swaggering visuals that emphasize the song’s swaggering nature. 

New Video: The Classic House Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Moon King’s “Ordinary Lover”

Initially begun as a solo recording project of its Toronto, ON-born creative mastermind, primary songwriter, multi-insrumentalist and producer Daniel Benjamin, Moon King may arguably be best known for the several year period in which Benjamin collaborated with Maddy Wilde (vocals, guitar); but with Wilde’s departure last year, Benjamin has returned to his roots — recording as a solo project. Coincidentally, Benjamin also relocated to Detroit, MI around the same time as Wilde’s departure, and spent that year working and living in the Detroit neighborhood of Hamtramck. .

Benjamin’s stint in Hamtramck inspired a new batch of material, Hamtramck 16, a mixtape that not only documents his arrival into a new, unfamiliar place, it also is a radical change in sonic direction and songwriting approach, as the material on the mixtape captures the Canadian producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s growing obsession with electronic dance music. And while in Detroit, Benjamin began collaborating with local artists and musicians, until he formed a new band — with the intention of crafting a sound that currently draws from disco, classic, Detroit house, synth pop — and even pop.  Mixtape single “In & Out” found Benjamin pairing his dreamy falsetto with a dance floor-friendly production that channels Nile Rodgers-era Madonna (i.e.,  “Lucky Star” and “Holiday“), Tom Tom Club (i.e., “Genius of Love“) and Larry Levan-era house as a driving groove is paired with fluttering, shimmering and cascading layers of synths, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor-like beats and a razor sharp hook. And much like the sound and period, Benjamin is drawing from, the song manages to be incredibly accessible; in fact, if it wasn’t for the subtly modern production, the listener may have been tricked into believing that the song may have been released in 1983.

The mixtape’s second and latest single “Ordinary Love” is a much more straightforward production and song as arpeggio bursts of keys, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and swirling electronics are paired with Benjamin’s falsetto vocals — and while seemingly influenced by Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait” and classic house, the song manages to reveal a subtly modern production sheen that nods at Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves and the 100% Silk Records roster. 

Directed by Bronwyn Ford, the recently released music video manages to be a spot on ode to late 80s and early 90s dance music videos, as the video features a diverse and eclectic array of club-goers dancing to the club-baning track; and it’s shot on similar grainy video that will briefly trick some viewers into thinking that they’ve stumbled on to some rarely played house music gem. 

New Video: The Lysergic Visuals for Clear Soul Forces’ L.A.Z.’s Shimmering Solo Debut “Celestial Vibes”

Comprised of E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and producer/emcee Ilajide, the Detroit, MI-based hip-hop quartet Clear Soul Forces quickly developed a reputation for lyrically and sonically drawing from the 70s street poets and proto-emcees, golden era, boom-bap hip-hop, adding their names to a lengthy list of dope artists hailing from Detroit. But interestingly enough, the act can trace their origins to a 2009 all-nighter at a Detroit recording studio, when the four emcees scraped up whatever loose change for studio time to record material individually. Coincidentally, renowned artist Royce Da 5’9″ was finishing work on his album Street Hop in the room next door, and the four emcees jumped at the chance to spit a few rhymes for him. As the story goes, the four young emcees then spent the next 9 hours in an epic rhyme fest with each of the individual emcees trading bars while an impressed Royce Da 5’9″ listened intently. After they finished, the renowned Detroit-based emcee suggested that the four individual emcees should become a group — although it took them some time to figure out their name would be. 

By early 2010, the group now known as Clear Soul Forces began making a name for themselves in their hometown’s underground hip-hop scene and released their debut mixtape, Clear Soul Radio, which was recorded in a single day. Later that year, they built their home studio, The Complex and recorded The Departure EP, which was released for their appearance at the A3C Festival. Adding to a growing profile, the quartet played shows in Brooklyn, the 35 Conferette Festival in Denton, TX and SXSW, where they played the the Rappers I Know Showcase with Tanya Morgan, H.I.S.D., Just Blaze, Alchemist, Talib Kweli and Freeway, and followed it up with videos for “The Greatest” and “Strangers In The Night.” 

2011-2012 may have been one of the biggest years in the group’s history, as they began work on their critically applauded full-length debut Detroit Revolution(s), which was reportedly influenced by a large mural on the side of a local apartment building — and by the end of the year, they were selected by Red Bull as a featured artist in the beverage company’s Soundstage program. Early 2012, the video for album single “Get No Better,” caught the attention of the blogosphere, including this site. 

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about the Detroit-based hip-hop act, but as it turns out the act’s L.A.Z. recently spent time writing and recording material for a solo effort, the No Paperwork EP, and the effort reportedly is the culmination of several years grinding and hustling, and the wizened realization that money won’t buy you peace of mind — and that more important, unlike many of his counterparts, this effort was a labor of love, inspired purely by the passionate, obsessive love of hip-hop. “Celestial Vibes,” the No Paperwork EP’s features the Detroit emcee spitting swaggering and braggadocio-fueled bars over a slick production which bears boom bap beats with twinkling keys, meant to evoke a cosmic (and perhaps lysergic) glow. And while the song clocks in at about 98 seconds or so, it captures an emcee reaching the very top of his creative powers. 

The recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — we follow L.A.Z. as he smokes weed in a tropical paradise and saunters through an graffiti-filled abandoned development. And to emphasize the trippy vibe of the song, the video is shot with a golden haze. 

Initially begun as a solo recording project of its Toronto, ON-born creative mastermind, primary songwriter, multi-insrumentalist and producer Daniel Benjamin, Moon King may arguably be best known for the several year period that it was known as a duo featuring Maddy Wilde (vocals, guitar); but with Wilde’s departure last year, the project has managed to return to its roots. Coincidentally, Benjamin relocated to Detroit, MI around the same time as Wilde’s departure  — notably, the Detroit neighborhood of Hamtramck, where he spent the better part of a year.

Benjamin’s stint in Hamtramck inspired a new batch of material, Hamtramck 16, a mixtape that not only documents his arrival into a new, unfamiliar place, it also is a radical change in sonic direction and songwriting approach, as the material on the mixtape captures the Canadian producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s growing obsession with electronic dance music.

Finally having some time to himself after years of relentless touring, Benjamin began collaborating with local artists and musicians, until he formed a new band — with the intention of crafting a sound that currently draws from disco, classic, Detroit house, synth pop — and even pop.  Mixtape single “In & Out” found Benjamin pairing his dreamy falsetto with a dance floor-friendly production that channels Nile Rodgers-era Madonna (i.e.,  “Lucky Star” and “Holiday“), Tom Tom Club (i.e., “Genius of Love“) and Larry Levan-era house as a driving groove is paired with fluttering, shimmering and cascading layers of synths, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor-like beats and a razor sharp hook. And much like the sound and period, Benjamin is drawing from, the song manages to be incredibly accessible; in fact, if it wasn’t for the subtly modern production, the listener may have been tricked into believing that the song may have been released in 1983. The mixtape’s second and latest single “Ordinary Love” is a much more straightforward production, as arpeggio bursts of keys, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and swirling electronics are paired with Benjamin’s falsetto vocals — and while seemingly influenced by Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait” and classic house, the song manages to reveal a subtly modern productions been that nods at Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves and the 100% Silk Records roster.

The mixtape is slated for an August 4, 2017 release through Arbutus Records and Benjamin, along with his backing band will be on a mostly American tour throughout August and September to support the new effort, and it includes a September 8, 2017 stop at Silent Barn. Check out the rest of the tour dates below y’all.

 
TOUR DATES
08/11 – Baby G – TORONTO, ON 
08/12 – PN, MONTRÉAL, QC
08/18 – El Club, DETROIT, MI
09/02 – Schubas, CHICAGO, IL
09/03 – The Bishop, BLOOMINGTON, ID
09/04 – MOTR, CINCINNATI, OH
09/05 – Double Happiness, COLUMBUS, OH 
09/06 – Sound Hole, PHILADELPHIA, PA
09/07 – Charlies American Cafe, NORFOLK, VA
09/08 – Silent Barn, BROOKLYN, NY
09/11 – One Caroline, SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 
09/12 – Bard College, ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY
09/13 – House Of Targ, OTTAWA, ON
09/14 – Le Cercle, QUEBEC, QC