Tag: hip hop

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based producer, DJ and remixer Rhythm Scholar, who has developed a reputation for his crowd-pleasing, slickly produced, effortless and imitable mashups and remixes of hip hop, classic soul and pop. The JOVM mainstay recently released a remix of Bill Withers‘ beloved classic “Use Me Up” featuring a backing band,  which features Marcus Horndt contributing soulful blasts of Fender Rhodes, Jason Spillman contributing a 70s soul and disco-inspired bass line, Sami Turune, contributing some bluesy guitar paired with Withers warm vocals and rhythm guitar, and some insane scratching and production from Rhythm Scholar.

In my mind, what makes this remix interesting is that it’s a lovingly anachronistic take on it that manages to walk a difficult tightrope between the 70s and contemporary production while retaining the orignal’s effortless soul and thoughtful, deliberate attention to craft.

 

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New Video: Introducing the Badass Ladies of Toronto’s The Sorority

Comprised of Phoenix Pagliacci, Lex Leosis, Haviah Mighty and Keysha Freshh, The Sorority are a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based hip-hop act that can trace their origins to when the quartet first collaborated together at a 2016 International Women’s Day cipher that quickly received attention from the likes of Noisey, The Fader and others. And since then, the act which features four individual artists, who contribute their own unique styles, personalities and energies have focused on empowering, entertaining and educating through the release of several singles and shows alongside The Internet, Jidenna, Miguel, Joey Bada$$ and A-Trak.

The Canadian hip-hop act’s full-length debut, the aptly titled Pledge is slated for an April 13, 2018 and the album’s first single “SRTY,” features each of the act’s four emcees rhyming about unity, body positivity, sensuality and resilience — and of course, being the baddest, best emcee on the face of the earth in a way that reminds me of the old schoolers I grew up with — in particular, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and others, complete with a self-assured swagger; but paired with a hyper-modern, minimalist and ominous production consisting of skittering snares boom bap drums, wobbling and woozy synths; it’s a slick synthesis of the old school with the new school in a way that’s both radio friendly and unique. 

Directed by Composite Films, the recently released video features the ladies of The Sorority being badass, kidnapping and fucking with four presumed fuckboys, subverting hip-hop tropes in a mischievous and very smart fashion.

New Video: Evidence Teams Up with Atmosphere’s Slug and Catero on a Soulful and Earnest Single Paired with Gorgeous and Surreal Visuals

Born Michael Taylor Perretta, Evidence is a Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer, best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums. As a producer, Perretta has collaborated with the likes of Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

The Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer’s 2007 full-length debut, The Weatherman, which was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples featured tracks produced by Perretta, The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. By 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200.

Evidence’s four full-length album Weather or Not was released earlier this year through Rhymesayers, and the the album is the  first batch of new material since 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington, and as you may remember, the album’s third single “10,000 Hours” found the Los Angeles, CA-based producer and emcee further cementing his reputation as an incredibly dexterous and criminally unheralded emcee, who has ridiculous rhyme schemes — all while discussing ho much time he spent practicing, refining and developing his skills over a swaggering DJ Premier production featuring squiggly synths, boom bap beats, a forceful bass line, samples from Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and GURU that managed to be anamalgamation of strutting West Coast hip-hop and stomping, menacing, old school East Coast hip-hop.

Weather or Not’s latest single “Powder Cocaine” is a collaboration between Evidence and Atmosphere’s Slug that features an atmospheric The Alchemist production that consists of tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, a subtly chopped up choral vocal sample and warm blasts of bluesy guitar paired with a soaring hook sung by Catero that’s the emotional and metaphorical underpinning of the song. In fact, as the story goes, after enlisting Catero to write the song’s hook. the vocalist came back with a verse that ended with “but everything’s fine if I try to remain like powder cocaine . . .”  Understandably, the line stuck with both Rhymesayer labelmates, and it opened the doors for the duo to write rhymes full of diverse metaphors and descriptive symbolism. Yet, despite the song’s title, Evidence has never used the drug. “I’m like the only person in Los Angeles, who didn’t do cocaine, and Alchemist, too,” Evidence says in press notes. “We made a pact, you know, when friends are young and we actually stuck to it. The song is not a pro-cocaine song, but rather just using the saying as an expression of being all good.” 

Directed by Jason Goldwatch, the recently released video for “Powder Cocaine,” is actually influenced by Evidence, a passionate shutterbug — and as a result, the video is full of gorgeous and surreal visuals that employ a photographer’s sense of composition and framing to emphasize very specific things. 

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.

 

 

 

New Audio: Kool Keith Dan The Automator and DJ Qbert Revive Dr. Octagon for Surreal and Satirical First Single in Over 20 Years

Known as a co-founder of renowned and legendary hip-hop act Ultramagnetic MCs and for a lengthy and uncompromising solo career in which he has taken up a number of aliases and personas, while collaborating with an array of emcees and producers, Kool Keith is arguably one of hip-hop’s most idiosyncratic and eccentric personalities and artists — and throughout his incredibly prolific recording career, he has continually perfected and expanded upon his inimitable flow, full of surreal and fantastical tangents, grimly violent and nightmarish imagery, sexual and pop cultural references while effortlessly and frequently switching perspectives, moods and points of view within the same song.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you know that I’ve written quite a bit about Kool Keith and his various solo releases, reissues and collaborations but interestingly, the imitable emcee along with collaborators Dan The Automator and DJ Qbert have teamed to revive his alter ego Dr. Octagon 20+ years after the critically applauded, revolutionary debut effort  Dr. Octagonecologyst. “Octagon Octagon,” the first single from the trio’s long-awaited Dr. Octagonecologyst follow up, Moosebumps: an exploration into modern day horripilation is a bit of a return to form for the trio — but possessing a frenzied urgency that could only come from marathon 24-hour recording sessions at Dan The Automator’s studio.  And while reprising a lecherous and hopelessly incorrigible character with his off-kilter and imitable flow, the new single is arguably one of the smartest and most absurd yet satirical commentaries on capitalism, branding and advertising, as Kool Keith’s Dr. Octagon reveals himself as shamelessly opportunistic, putting his name to tampons, rice and beans, gasoline and anything else he could — even if it was ridiculous, because why not? Sonically, Kool Keith — er Dr. Octagon’s flow is paired with a minimalist production that manages to be both menacing and surreal, emphasizing the character’s surrealistic flow while featuring twinkling keys and DJ Qbert’s incredible scratching.

Recently, the up-and-coming Yonkers, NY-based artist Tony Moxburg  teamed up with renowned Yonkers-born and-based emcee, D-Block Records head Sheek Louch and fellow Yonkers-based vocalist Dyce Payne contributing a soulful hook on a Dayzel The Machine-produced hyper modern and swaggering take on the legendary MC Lyte’s beloved classic “Poor Georgie.” In this song, Georgie is out there hustling hard in a difficult and unforgiving world in which the rich get richer and the poor have less — but underneath the swaggering, there’s an appreciative and uplifting tone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Evidence Takes You on a Gritty Tour of Los Angeles in Visuals for “10,000 Hours”

Born Michael Taylor Perretta, Evidence is a Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer, best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums. As a producer, Perretta has collaborated with the likes of Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

The Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer’s 2007 full-length debut, The Weatherman, which was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples featured tracks produced by Perretta, The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. However, by 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200.

Evidence’s soon-to-be released fourth, full-length album Weather or Not is slated for a January 26, 2018 release through Rhymesayers is the first batch of new material since 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington, and with the release of the album’s third single “10,000 Hours” Evidence further cements his reputation as an incredibly dexterous and criminally unheralded emcee with the rhyme scheme in this particular track being ridiculous — all while discussing about how he spent time developing his own unique flow. With Evidence spitting over a swaggering DJ Premier production featuring squiggly synths, boom bap beats, a forceful bass line, samples from Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and GURU, the track manages to be a amalgamation of strutting West Coast hip-hop and stomping, menacing, old school East Coast hip-hop. But just as important, as I’ve relentlessly reminded readers of this site, real hip-hop, and not that prepackaged bullshit on your multinational conglomerate propaganda and advertising radio, is still out there if you’re willing to look for it.

Filmed and directed by Stephen Vanasco, the recently released video for “10,000 Hours” is a lush and cinematically shot black and white video in a number of gritty and underground Los Angeles sights before meeting with the legendary DJ Preemo.

Throwback: Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis”

As I mentioned earlier, over the years, the holidays have become increasingly difficult for me, with the season harboring many more bad memories than good ones as I got older; however, whenever I think of Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” I think of times that seemed far more easier and brighter, even if they may have been viewed through rose-colored glasses and the hazy nostalgia of adulthood.  But along with that, what I can clearly remember was that as a child, I wanted to be like Run DMC because I thought they were the coolest brothers on the face of the earth; plus, they grew up in my home borough of Queens, which made their achievements seem plausible for a music loving black kid.

For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays for everyone else. And may there be peace, brotherhood and sisterhood for all.

 

Throwback: DMX Performs “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Usually, the holiday season is a very difficult period for me. Many of the happy memories of Christmas were when I was much younger and those have been marred to some degree by bitterly unpleasant memories as a young man and as an adult. And while things are difficult, I try.  Now, as you may recall throughout the years, there have been some semi-regular traditions including DMX’s  rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” that he did while being interviewed at Power 105.1 back in 2012 and for years it was arguably one of the most absurd yet most endearing moments in hip-hop history. 

Comprised of Jay Sillence (vocals), Max Watt (guitar, vocals), Dani Barge (bass) and Dom Smith (drums), the up-and-coming York, UK-based hardcore metal act SEEP AWAY cite Black Flag, Cancer Bats, Bongripper, Turnstile, God Damn, Soulfly and Marilyn Manson as influences on their sound and approach. And in a relatively short period of time, the York-based quartet have begun to develop a reputation for being one of the region’s hardest working bands — and for a sound that may remind many listeners to Follow the Leader-era Korn and others.

Building on a growing profile, the band’s debut effort, The Blackened Carnival of Societal Ineptitude is slated for an early 2018 release, and the album’s first single is an explosive and feral cover of what may arguably be one of the greatest songs in the history of hip-hop — Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” And I suspect that it would make ODB very proud while being mosh pit worthy.