Tag: Fat Beats Records

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Koncept Releases a Hazy Visual for Upbeat Banger “Watch The Sky Fall 2”

Over the past few years I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed, Queens-born emcee and JOVM mainstay Koncept. Born Keith Michael Whitehead, the JOVM artist has led a rather remarkable life: working at Fat Beats Records, he co-founded The Brown Bag AllStars with his coworkers Soul Khan, Cold Codeine, J57 and The Audible Doctor in 2007. The collective’s 2009 debut mixtape The Brown Tape was released through Coalmine Records while the members of the act were working at Fat Beats — and they followed that up with an attention-grabbing appearance at that year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

Building on a growing profile, the members of The Brown Bag All Stars released two EPs in 2010 — The Traveller and The Down Under Remixes. Whitehead’s full-length debut Awaken, which was also released that year, featured guest spots from Soul Khan, JOVM mainstay Homeboy Sandman, Royce da 5’9″ and Sene with production from J57 and Marco Polo — and the album established the Queens-born emcee as a solo artist in his own right. As a result of the attention he received from his debut, Koncept received an endorsement by Red Bull that helped financed his 2015 critically acclaimed J57-produced The Fuel EP.

After the release of The Fuel, Koncept went to Seoul, South Korea for a two-week tour sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and Jameson. Those tour dates developed into more shows and bookings — and eventually a partnership with Sony Music Asia, who released his sophomore effort 14 Hours Ahead, an effort that was thematically centered around envisioning your future and dreams, growing and believing in yourself every step of the way — and then manifesting those dreams into reality. Since then, Koncept has also developed a reputation for being a go-to collaborator, who has worked with Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, The Roots, Joey Bada$$, Green Day, A$AP Mob, Ghostface Killah and Joell Ortiz.

Released last summer, the Queens-based latest effort Champagne Konny comes after spending two years on the road — with the bulk of it in Asia, including a sold-out tour with Scoop Deville. While on the road, the Queens-based JOVM mainstay discovered a new perceptive on his life and career, which has influenced the emcee and his work. “Watch The Sky Fall 2” is a bold remix of Awaken’s lead single “Watch The Sky Fall,” which retains Royce da 5’9″‘s guest verse while being inspired by where it all started — with a newfound zest and desire for life. Featuring a new verse from Koncept, Royce da 5’9″‘s imitable flow paired with a Wrist.the.Greatest and Keitel Jr. co-production centered around shimmering and squiggling synths and tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats. And while sonically bringing Too Short to mind, the song has an upbeat and almost defiantly positive message: when your life seems to be falling apart, and you’re feeling broken, scared ad as though you’re about to go down for the count, you have to hold on and try to push forward. 

Filmed and edited by Juliette Carton, the recently released video for “Watch The Sky Fall 2” is a hazy yet intimate visual that quickly cuts from scenes of Koncept in what appears to be a shower and a pensive Koncept holding an umbrella in the forest — as though the umbrella would protect him from a universe in which the sky seems to be against him. 

Detroit, MI-based hip-hop act Clear Soul Forces — E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and producer/emcee Ilajide — can trace their origins to a 2009 all-nighter at a Detroit recording studio. As the story goes, the four emcees scraped the money to record material individually. Coincidentally, Royce Da 5’9″ was finishing work on his album Street Hop in the studio room next door, and naturally the four emcees leapt at the chance to spit a few rhymes and get pointers. The quartet then spent the next nine hours in an epic cypher in which they traded bars back and forth, while the impressed Detroit-based legend intently listened. When they finally finished, Royce Da 5’9″ suggested that the four emcees should team up and be a group.

Since their formation, the act has spent the better part of the past decade developing and maintaining a reputation for lyrically and sonically drawing from 70s spoken word artists and boom-bap era hip-hop as a group and with each emcee’s individual creative projects. Sadly, the act’s forthcoming fifth album ForcesWithUs, which is slated for a March 13, 2020 release through Fat Beats Records will be their final album together.

Interestingly, Forces With You‘s first single, the Ilajide-produced “Chip$” is centered around a glitchy yet soulful J. Dilla-esque production: hard-hitting, head-nodding and shuffling beats, shimmering melodic keys and a razor-sharp hook. And while the track is an upbeat and celebratory banger, there’s a palpable sense of purpose and passion throughout that suggests that this track — and in turn, the album — isn’t a victory lap, nor a farewell tour in which the members wave farewell and get flowers from adoring fans; but rather, it sees the act “not going quietly into the night,” as the old poem says. And although Clear Soul Forces are coming to an end, the track subtly signals a bright new future for its in individual members.

 

Vice Beats is a Bristol UK-based producer, who has released material as a solo artist alongside collaborations with the likes of Gardna, Great Scott, Panacea, Replife, The Scribes through his own label EQ Music. Through a series of various collaborative projects, Vice Beats has shared stages with Scroobius Pip, Speech Debelle, Lazy Habits and Paper Tiger among others.

Dilla: The Timeless Tribute, the Bristol-based producer and artist’s forthcoming album is the culmination of over six years of work: As the story goes, after hearing “Suite For Ma Dukes” by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Vice Beats was inspired to create his own tribute to the legendary and beloved J. Dilla by crafting compositions that meshed classical, hip-hop, soul and jazz. Featuring a eclectic cast of musicians and artist from all around the world, brought together through their collective love of Dilla and hip-hop, the album finds the rising British producer and artist teaming up with Don’t Sleep’s Audiosnax (vocal cuts, production), Greg Blackman (vocals), Thalassic (sax, flute), Vince Martin (violin) Brotherman, Jaz Kahina, Nutty P, Oracy, Habitus,  Joe Publik, Soundsci‘s Audessy, Distantstarr, Risskant, Toddy and a list of folks from the US, Australia, Brazil, Holland and elsewhere taking some well-loved Dilla compositions and creating new compositions or reworking material through a variety of styles. Reportedly, the album which is slated for a February 7, 2020 release through HHV and Fat Beats — on what would have been J. Dilla’s 46th birthday — has created a bit of buzz among tastemakers as being a highly original take on Dilla’s work, making it a cliche-defying tribute album.

Of course, all the proceeds from the album will be going to the Detroit-based James Dewitt Yancey Foundation, an organization that works with young musicians, offering them musical opportunities — while continuing to build upon Dilla’s legacy. Interestingly, the foundation is also close to Vice Beats’ heart, as the Bristol-based producer and artist has an extensive background in community youth music work in the UK.

Dilla: The Timeless Tribute‘s latest single is the upbeat yet thoughtful “Bring It Back.” Centered around Vice Beats’  J. Dilla-inspired rework, which features tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a soulful vocal sample, the track finds the Bristol-based producer collaborating with two London-based emcees Jaz Kahina and Nutty P. Throughout the song, the emcees reminiscing about their past while exploring their relationship with discovering self-love and acceptance. Of course, naturally the song — naturally — find the pair of emerging London-based emcees openly talking about Dilla’s massive influence on them and on hip-hop in general. But more importantly, the song is rooted in the sort of much-needed, hard-fought and harder-won experience and wisdom that you generally won’t hear in our age of increasingly superficial, prepackaged, mainstream music.

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New Audio: Koncept Teams up with Royce da 5’9″ and Wrist.the.Greatest on an Uplifting Banger

Born Keith Michael Whitehead, Koncept is an acclaimed Queens-born emcee, who has led a remarkable life: while working at Fat Beats Records, he co-founded The Brown Bag AllStars with co-founders Soul Khan, Cold Codeine, J57 and The Audible Doctor in 2007. The collective’s 2009 debut mixtape The Brown Tape was released through Coalmine Records while the members of the act were working at Fat Beats — and they followed that up with an attention-grabbing appearance at that year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

Building on a growing profile, the members of The Brown Bag All Stars released two EPs in 2010 — The Traveller and The Down Under Remixes. Adding to a busy year, Koncept released his debut EP Playing Life. 2011 saw the release of the first of their annual end-of-year A Year In Review compilations and Brown Bag Season Vol. 1, which featured guest spots from DJ Brace and Marco Polo. While the collective was beginning to receive a larger profile, Koncept’s 2012 full-length debut Awaken, which featured guest appearances from Soul Khan, JOVM mainstay Homeboy Sandman, Royce da 5’9″ and Sene with production from J57 and Marco Polo established the Queens-born emcee as a solo artist in his own right; in fact, as a result of the attention from his debut, Koncept received an endorsement by Red Bull that financed his 2015 critically acclaimed J57-produced The Fuel EP.

After the release of The Fuel, Koncept went to Seoul, South Korea for a two-week tour sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and Jameson — and those performances developing into more shows and bookings, and eventually a partnership with Sony Music Asia, who released his sophomore effort 14 Hours Ahead, an effort that thematically centered around envisioning your future and dreams, growing and believing in yourself every step of the way, and manifesting them into reality. So far, adding to a growing profile, the Queens-born emcee has also collaborated with the likes of Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, The Roots, Joey Bada$$, Green Day, A$AP Mob, Ghostface Killah and Joell Ortiz.

Earlier this year, the Queens-born JOVM mainstay released a one-off Ray Hill produced single “Countdown,” which found him effortlessly changing his flow and cadences several times throughout an eerie production consisting of chiming synths and stuttering, boom bap beats. And while employing some mischievous wordplay and rhyme scenes, the song finds the emcee and his narrator being both reflective and introspective, as he recalls his missteps, those who counted him out and his desire to keep moving towards the bigger and better things he’s just beginning to see at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The song serves as a reminder that achieving your dreams requires you to sacrifice, bust your ass and believe in yourself even when things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. And perhaps more important, there’s no such thing as overnight success.

Slated for release later this summer, the Queens-based emcee’s forthcoming Champagne Konny comes after spending two years on the road — with the bulk of it in Asia, including a sold-out tour with Scoop Deville. And while on the road, Koncept discovered a new perspective on his life and his career, which have deeply influenced his work. Interestingly, “Watch the Sky Fall,” which featured Royce da 5’9″ was the lead single off Koncept’s debut album Awaken and it’s remix, “Watch The Sky Fall 2” is a bold remix, inspired by tapping into where it all started — but with a zest and desire for a new life; in fact, the track features a new verse from Koncept, Royce da 5’9″‘s imitable flow paired with a thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking production by Wrist.the.Greatest and Keitel, Jr. reminiscent of Too Short. Throughout, the song features a defiantly positive message: when your life seems to be falling apart, and you’re feeling broken and about to go down for the count, hold on, get up and push forward. 

New Audio: Acclaimed Emcee Koncept Releases a Reflective Banger

Born Keith Michael Whitehead, Koncept is an acclaimed Queens-born emcee, who has led a remarkable life: while working at Fat Beats Records, he co-founded The Brown Bag AllStars with co-founders Soul Khan, Cold Codeine, J57 and The Audible Doctor in 2007. The collective have some rather humble origins — initially, Koncept, Soul Khan and Cold Codeine were writing verses and freestyling over beats made by J57 and The Audible Doctor at Jesse Shatkin’s studio. The collective’s 2009 debut mixtape The Brown Tape was released through Coalmine Records while the members of the act were working at Fat Beats — and they followed that up with an attention-grabbing appearance at that year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. 

Building on a growing profile, the members of The Brown Bag All Stars released two EPs in 2010 — The Traveller and The Down Under Remixes. Adding to a busy year, Koncept released his debut EP Playing Life. 2011 saw the release of the first of their annual end-of-year A Year In Review compilations and Brown Bag Season Vol. 1, which featured guest spots from DJ Brace and Marco Polo. While the collective was beginning to receive a larger profile, Koncept’s 2012 full-length debut Awaken, which featured guest appearances from Soul Khan, JOVM mainstay Homeboy Sandman, Royce da 5’9″ and Sene with production from J57 and Marco Polo established the Queens-born emcee as a solo artist in his own right; in fact, as a result of the attention from his debut, Koncept received an endorsement by Red Bull that financed his 2015 critically acclaimed J57-produced The Fuel EP. After the release of The Fuel, Koncept went to Seoul, South Korea for a two-week tour sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and Jameson — and those performances developing into more shows and bookings, and eventually a partnership with Sony Music Asia, who released his sophomore effort 14 Hours Ahead, an effort that thematically centered around envisioning your future and dreams, growing and believing in yourself every step of the way, and manifesting them into reality. So far, adding to a growing profile, the Queens-born emcee has also collaborated with the likes of Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, The Roots, Joey Bada$$, Green Day, A$AP Mob, Ghostface Killah and Joell Ortiz. 

Koncept’s third full-length album is slated for release next summer but in the meantime, he has released a one-off single, the Ray Hill-produced “Countdown.” Centered around an eerie production consisting of chiming synths and stuttering and boom bap beats, the track finds the Queens-born emcee, effortlessly changing his flow and cadences multiple times throughout while employing some mischievous wordplay and rhyme schemes; but the song finds him being both reflective and introspective, and while recalling many of his missteps and those who counted him out, he expresses a desire to keep moving forward towards the bigger and better things he’s just beginning to see right now. The song serves as a reminder that achieving your dreams requires you to sacrifice, bust your ass and believe in yourself even when things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. And perhaps more important, there’s no such thing as overnight success. 

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Currently comprised of Gilbert Elorreaga, Mark Gonzales, Greg Gonzalez, Josh Levy, Sweet Lou, Beto Martinez, Adrian Quesada, John Speice and Alex Marrero, the Austin, TX-based act Brownout was formed ten years as a side project featuring members of the Grammy Award-winning Latin funk act Grupo Fantasma, but interestingly enough, the project has evolved into its own as a unique effort, separate from the members’ primary gigs. Over the past few years, the act has garnered critical praise — they won their third Austin Music Award last year, while composing and arranging work that’s unflinchingly progressive while evoking the influences of WAR, Cymande and Funkadelic. Unsurprisingly, the members of Brownout have been a highly-sought after backing band,  who have collaborated with GZA, Prince, Daniel Johnston and Bernie Worrell, and adding to a growing profile, they’ve made appearances across the major festival circuit, including Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, Pickathon, Bear Creek Musical Festival, Utopia Festival, Pachanga Fest, and others.

Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin-based act, and as you may know, the band has released five full-length albums: 2008’s Homenaje, 2009’s Aguilas and Cobras, 2012’s Oozy, 2015’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath and 2016’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, Vol. II — with their last two albums Latin funk interpretations and re-imaginings of the legendary work of Black Sabbath. Of course, during their run together, Brownout has released a handful of EPs, including 2017’s critically applauded Over the Covers, their first batch of original material in some time.

As a child of the 80s, hip-hop was a nothing short of a revelation to me and countless others. Every day after school, I practically ran home to catch Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre and BET’s Rap City and during the weekends I’d catch Yo! MTV Raps with the legendary Fab 5 Freddy  — all to catch Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Biz Markie, Das EFX, A Tribe Called Quest, X Clan and Public Enemy among an incredibly lengthy list. (Admittedly, I didn’t watch Rap City as much. Even as a kid, I hated their host and I found their overall production values to be incredible cheap. Plus, I really loathed how they almost always managed to either cut to a commercial or the end credits during the middle of a fucking song — and it was always during your favorite jam. Always.) 28 years ago, Public Enemy released their seminal album Fear of a Black Planet, and unsurprisingly, the album wound up profoundly influencing the future founding members of Grupo Fantasma/Brownout. The band’s Greg Gonzalez (bass) remembers how a kid back in junior high school hipped him to the fact that Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” was built on James Brown samples. As a teenager, Beto Martinez (guitar) speaks fondly of alternating between hip-hop and metal tapes on his walkman (much like me). And Adrian Quesada remembers falling in love with Public Enemy and their sound at an early age. “When I got into hip-hop, I was looking for this aggressive outlet . . .,” Quesada says in press notes, “and I didn’t even understand what they were pissed off about, because I was twelve and lived in Laredo . . . but I loved it, and I felt angry along with them.”

So as true children of the 80s and 90s, the members of Brownout, with the influence and encouragement of Fat Beats‘ Records Joseph Abajian have tackled Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet — with their own unique take on the legendary material and sound. And although they were eager to get back to work on new, original material, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to one of their favorite acts. As Abajian says in press notes “I thought their sound would work covering Public Enemy songs.” He adds “it was good to know they were P.E. fans . .  We came up with a track listing and they went to work.”

Understandably, translating sample-based music to a live band turned out to be more challenging than everyone anticipated. Quesada tried to get into the heads of the legendary production team the Bomb Squad in order to reinterpret Public Enemy’s work. “Imagine the Bomb Squad going back in time and getting the J.B.’s in the studio and setting up a couple analog synths and then playing those songs.” And while some songs closely hew to the original, other songs use the breakbeats as a jumping-off point for Mark “Speedy” Gonzales’ horn arrangements, synth work by Peter Stopchinski and DJ Trackstar‘s turntablism. “Our approach is never in the tribute sense,” Adrian Quesada explains. “We’ve always taken it and made it our own, whether it’s the Brown Sabbath thing or this Public Enemy thing.”

Fear of a Brown Planet comes on the heels of several Brown Sabbath tours, and while being an incredibly tight and funky band, the members of the band are incredibly psyched to bring revolutionary music to the people, especially in light of both the current   social climate and that they’re not particularly known for having an overt political agenda. “If there’s any way that we can use the already political and protest nature [of P.E.’s music], we would like to try,” Beto says. “The album’s title, Fear of Brown Planet is definitely a relevant idea today and we’re not afraid to put it out there, because we want to speak out.”

Fear of a Brown Planet‘s first single is Brownout’s take on “Fight the Power,” and while retaining the breakbeats that you’ll remember fondly, their instrumental take is a funky JB’s meets Booker T-like jam, centered around an incredible horn line, bursts of analog synth and sinuous guitar line. As a result, Brownout’s take is warmly familiar but without being a carbon copy; in fact, they manage to breathe a much different life into the song without erasing its revolutionary sound or its righteous fury. Check out how it compares to the original below.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/track=3877283800/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/ Over the last two decades, the Richmond, VA-based salsa act Bio Ritmo have developed a reputation for experimentation and stubbornly refusing to be pigeonholed, as they’ve employed the use of synths, along with traditional salsa […]