Tag: hip hop

Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink on the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. Now, as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for a slickly produced, funky, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul, hip-hop and New Wave. Interestingly, over the past year or so, Rhythm Scholar has enlisted a backing band featuring frequent collaborators Jason Spillman (bass) and Marcus Horndt (Rhodes) and Big Once (turntables), all of whom have helped the JOVM mainstay move towards an increasingly organic take on his work.

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him taking on Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” And while retaining Snoop’s imitable and effortlessly smooth flow, the JOVM’s mainstay’s kaleidoscopic remix recalls both Dr. Dre-inspired G Funk-era production and cinematic 70s soul, as the track feature samples from four classic blaxploitation films, 1973’s The Mack, 1973’s Magnum Force, 1975’s Rollerball and 1976’s Car Wash and is centered around twinkling Rhodes, a propulsive, disco-like bass line, fluttering electronics, congos and some much-needed, old school turntablism. Simply put, it’s a lysergic yet funky strutting take on a beloved banger.

 

 

 

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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 Video: Czarface and Ghostface Killah Release Wild Animated and Live Action-based Visuals for “Powers and Stuff”

Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about Czarface, the collaborative project featuring underground hip-hop duo 7L & Esoteric and the Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck. Deriving the project’s name from fictional character they created that’s patterned after comic book super villains and aspects of the personalities and quirks of each individual member, the act can trace its origins to when 7L & Esoteric and Inspectah Deck toured together. The tour led to a number of collaborative singles including, “Speaking Real Words” off 7L & Esoteric’s 2001 album, The Soul Purpose and “12th Chamber” off their 2010 album 1212, and a number of other singles. Since the act formed back in 2013, they’ve released four critically applauded albums: their 2013 self-titled debut, 2015’s Every Hero Needs a Villain, 2016’s A Fistful of Peril and their collaboration with MF Doom, Czarface Meets Metalface, which was released last year.

The acclaimed trio follow their critically applauded collaboration with MF Doom by teaming up with another legendary and beloved emcee Ghostface Killah, a.k.a. Iron Man, a.k.a. Tony Starks on Czarface Meets Ghostface. The release of the album’s first two singles “Iron Claw,” and “Mongolian Beef,” were perfect tastes of what hip-hop heads should expect from the entire album — four dope emcees trading swaggering and dexterous bars about running massive criminal syndicates, taking over the world, being dope, insane pop culture references and more, over menacing, tweeter and woofer rocker productions. But perhaps more important, the material finds the collaborators pushing their talents, skills and sound in a new direction — without losing what we love about each individual artist.  The album’s third and latest single, “Powers and Stuff,” is centered around a gritty and menacing production consisting of tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, distorted guitar and organ, fluttering flute, trippy sound effects and a motley assortment of kids shouting the song’s hook. The four charismatic emcees spit some incredible bars and verses that make references to Buzzfeed, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Agent Smith from The Matrix films, Battlestar Galactica and several prisons in the New York prison system and more, making the track a street banger — but with a surrealistic bent.

Directed by Josh Mac, the recently released video for “Powers and Stuff,” is a wild and seamless mix of live action and animation, as it follows an experiment done on Powers the Dog that immediately goes wrong when Powers drinks a mysterious substance that turns him into a cartoon hero, who fights crime, drinks shots with local barflies and encounters his arch nemeses Czarface and Ghostface, who have accidentally started a massive fire. It’s trippy and hilarious while bringing Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam to mind. 

New Video: Knife Knights Release a Lyrical and Bittersweet Meditation on Love Longing Loss and the Afterlife

Over the almost nine year’s of this site’s history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink on Seattle, WA-based emcee, synth player and producer Ishmael Butler, who’s best known as a co-founding of two, critically applauded, groundbreaking hip-hop acts — JOVM mainstays Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. Just about a decade ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years of near-complete creative silence, and in the summer of 2009, Shabazz Palaces quietly self-released a pair of EPs that quickly established the act’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.

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 Universe. Interestingly, 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 Digable Planets fan, and as an obsessive fan, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have Butler sign — and Butler dutifully did so. 

Over the next few years, Blood and Butler would have chance encounters and sometimes during those encounters, they’d talk about possibly working together. Several years later, when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. That shouldn’t be surprising — Blood, as a huge hip-hop fan, has a always been an obsessive music listener and fan with eclectic tastes while Butler, a lifelong hip hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes. Interestingly, every Shabazz Palaces album has featured a Blood and Butler collaboration, a collaboration that finds the duo specifically focused on and delighting at the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronica and hip hop, actively and restlessly pushing hip hop towards new psychedelic textures. “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.”

Knife Knight’s debut effort, 2018’s 1 Time Mirage came about after almost a decade of collaboration and the development of a very rich and dear friendship, and the album finds the duo and a cast of collaborators and friends creating a unique sound that meshes soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, noise and chaos recorded over three separate sessions, interrupted by Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets tour schedules and Blood’s recording projects. Each of those three sessions were treated as a free space for unfettered and radical exploration that resulted in album single “Low Key,” a track centered around a hazy production featuring tribal house-inspired beats and shimmering beats, over which Butler delivers his lyrics like a shamanic incantation.

I Time Mirage’s latest single “My Dreams Never Sleep” is centered round an equally hallucinogenic production featuring shimmering synths, a looping bass line, stuttering beats and dreamily delivered vocals. Interestingly, the recently released video for the new single was directed and animated by Joe Garber, and the accompanying visuals are a slow-burning, lyrical and lysergic meditation on love, longing, loss and letting go within both the mortal and spiritual planes. 

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. 

Several years in the making, the highly-anticipated and long-awaited collaborative album from the late and beloved Brooklyn-based emcee Sean Price and acclaimed Philadelphia-based producer Small Professor86 Witness is slated for a February 8, 2019 release through Coalmine Records and Duck Down Records. The album’s latest single “John Gotti” is centered by a moody and noir-ish  RZA-like production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, twinkling and arpeggiated keys that’s roomy enough for an All-Star squad of ringers that includes AG Da Coroner, JOVM mainstay Guilty Simpson and Your Old Droog and Sean Price to spit rhymes full of wildly inventive wordplay, complex rhyme schemes, amazing pop cultural references that include 80s movies, old-school cartoons, childhood games — and murderous intent. Simply put — this is some pure street shit without silly shtick or gimmicks.

 

New Video: Acclaimed British Producer Swindle Teams Up with Kojey Radical on a Genre-Defying Take on Grime

Swindle is an acclaimed London-born and based-producer, who can trace the origins of his own musical career to when he built his first studio in his bedroom when he was 14. Excluded from school for having “way too much energy,” his blues guitarist father guided and mentored him by teaching him guitar. His father’s record collection, comprised of soul, funk, and jazz was vital inspiration for his full-length album Love Live The Jazz, which was released on Mala’s Deep Medi Musik back in 2013. His follow up, 2015’s Peace, Love & Music was written and recorded in studio sessions across the world and with an explosive live show, further cemented his growing reputation for being a singular artist, with a unique scope and ambition.

Since the release of his sophomore effort, Swindle has done production work for a number of artists including Kojey Radical, Joel Culpepper, D Double E, Mahalia, and others.  And interestingly enough, his soon-to-be released third album No More Normal, the acclaimed British producer and guitarist working with an All-Star cast of some of the UK’s best emcees including the aforementioned Kojey Radical and D Double E, along with Ghetts and P Money; vocalists including Etta Bond, Eva Lazarus, Daley and Kiko Bun; and musicians including Yussef Dayes, Nubya Garcia and Riot Jazz in a wildly genre-defying fashion that draws from grime, dubstep, jazz, P-funk and others — sometimes incorporating all of that into one song. “No More Normal is the idea of us doing our thing, our way, with no rules or limitations,” Swindle explains in press notes. “It is jazz influenced as much as it is grime influenced. It’s London influenced as much as it is LA influenced. I can work with D Double E and Nubya Garcia, these records are my imagination brought to life in musical form.” 

“Coming Home,” which features Kojey Radical is a perfect example of the British producer’s challenging yet paradoxically accessible approach as its centered around a production featuring shuffling beats, a regal and old-timey jazz horn arrangement, blasts of bluesy guitar and wobbling bass synth to create a sound that’s mischievously anachronistic, self-assured and unlike anything you’ll hear on mainstream hip-hop radio. Kojey Radical contributes some incredible and profound verses about gaining a new wisdom and perspective that puts you a world apart from your old friends and your old neighborhood –and that it’s necessary and should be celebrated. But it’s also a celebration of achieving hard-fought, hard-dreamt dreams against some incredible odds — and with a helluva lot of naysayers. 

Directed by Olivia Rose, the recently released video seems to have been shot in a series of extended long takes. And while gorgeously shot and symbolic, the portrayal of black men within the video reveals both our beauty and complexity, showing us to be kings and poets, as well as entertainers.