Tag: hip hop

New Video: Watch Renowned Seattle-based Emcee Grieves Entertain in Purgatory in New Visuals for “What It Dew”

Benjamin Laub is a Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who’s best known by his stage name Grieves, and interestingly enough, Laub has released four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, which debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves, which debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200. 

Grieves’ fifth full-length album the Chords-produced Running Wild is slated for release Friday through renowned hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and the album’s latest single “What It Dew” finds the critically and commercially successful emcee employing a complex rhyme scheme and some mischievously witty punch lines as he discusses succeeding against all odds and despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — while pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like, look like and talk about. 

The recently released video was directed by HELICAL, the collaboration between Carlos Cruz and Thai M. Tran, the video pokes fun at the song’s more serious subject matter, as it features Grieves trapped in purgatory, and forced to entertain a shitty dive bar in perpetuity, where the regular patrons are the living embodiments of the seven deadly sins. The video ends with Grieves eventually making the best of a horrible situation, by finding something good about it. As the Seattle-based emcee explains of the video treatment “Not everything is a crisis. Some things are simple and easy. Feel good and let go with this one!”

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. 

New Video: Masta Killa Boy Backs and Moe Rocc Take Over the Streets and the Club in New Visuals for “OGs Told Me”

Jamel Ireif (born Elgin Turner) is a East New York, Brooklyn-born emcee, best known to hip-hop heads and Wu-Tang Clan fans as Masta Killa. And although he was the last member to join the original lineup and was initially considered as one of the lesser-known and unheralded members of the Wu — he was only featured on one track of their seminal debut effort, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — over the years, he has developed a reputation as being one of the more prolific members of the group, contributing quite a bit on Clan group albums and solo projects since the mid 1990s.  Interestingly enough, Masta Killa is also the last original member to go solo but he’s managed to release three critically applauded albums — 2004’s No Said Date, 2006’s Made in Brooklyn and 2012’s Selling My Soul.

Masta Killa’s highly-anticipated fourth full-length album Loyalty Is Royalty is slated for release this fall, and the album finds the acclaimed emcee teaming up with a virtual who’s who of dope emcees and producers, as the album’s fist single “Therapy” featured guest spots from Method Man and Redman. Loyalty Is Royalty‘s second and latest single “OGs Told Me” finds Masta Killa teaming up with Ram Squad’s MC Boy Backs and Harlem-based Wu-Tang associate Moe Roc as they rhyme about showing love to the older heads, who took them under their wings, gave them advice, love and support over a soulful and nostalgic-tinged Dame Grease production featuring a looped sample of staccato key bursts paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats. The track is a certified banger, but with a truly adult perspective, as it suggests an obvious truth that many of us don’t want to face — time is rushing before us, and suddenly you’ll find yourself being one of those old heads, taking some young cat under your wing. Along with that, it also suggest that you can’t forget about the older cats, who are still rocking mics and live shows, and perhaps some of these younger guys should learn something from them.

Directed by Jeff Pliskin, the video follows Masta Killa, Boy Backs, Moe Rocc, Dame Grease, and members of the extended Wu Tang Clan hanging out on the streets and in the club, and in many ways the video serves to remind the viewer that the older heads still have it and still rock the streets as hard as they did when they were younger, while also being a co-sign to the younger heads.

Jamel Ireif (born Elgin Turner) is a East New York, Brooklyn-born emcee, best known to hip-hop heads and Wu-Tang Clan fans as Masta Killa. And although he was the last member to join the original lineup and was initially considered as one of the lesser-known and unheralded members of the Wu — he was only featured on one track of their seminal debut effort, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — over the years, he has developed a reputation as being one of the more prolific members of the group, contributing quite a bit on Clan group albums and solo projects since the mid 1990s.  Interestingly enough, Masta Killa is also the last original member to go solo but he’s managed to release three critically applauded albums — 2004’s No Said Date, 2006’s Made in Brooklyn and 2012’s Selling My Soul.

Masta Killa’s highly-anticipated fourth full-length album Loyalty Is Royalty is slated for release this fall, and the album finds the acclaimed emcee teaming up with a virtual who’s who of dope emcees and producers, as the album’s fist single “Therapy” featured guest spots from Method Man and RedmanLoyalty Is Royalty‘s second and latest single “OGs Told Me” finds Masta Killa teaming up with Ram Squad’s MC Boy Backs and Harlem-based Wu-Tang associate Moe Roc as they rhyme about showing love to the older heads, who took them under their wings, gave them advice, love and support over a soulful and nostalgic-tinged Dame Grease production featuring a looped sample of staccato key bursts paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats. The track is a certified banger, but with a truly adult perspective, as it suggests an obvious truth that many of us don’t want to face — time is rushing before us, and suddenly you’ll find yourself being one of those old heads, taking some young cat under your wing. Along with that, it also suggest that you can’t forget about the older cats, who are still rocking mics and live shows, and perhaps some of these younger guys should learn something from them.

You can catch Masta Killa giving fans a preview of his forthcoming album’s material Saturday night, as he’s playing City Winery.  For information and tickets: http://www.citywinery.com/newyork/tickets/masta-killa-album-release-of-wu-tang-clan-7-15.html 

 

 

It’s been 11 years since J. Dilla‘s tragic and untimely death due to complications from Lupus and over that period of time, the prolific, Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s reputation has grown — to the point that he has become arguably one of hip-hop’s most beloved and influential artists and producers; in fact, much of his work possesses a timelessness and vitality that few contemporary producers of any genre can manage. Interestingly enough, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the prolific Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s untimely passing, his emcee debut The Diary was posthumously released, although it was released with quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. Dilla died before he could finish the album and much of the material was unfinished, leaving producers the unenviable task of piecing and stitching together incomplete ideas and filling in musical gaps in a way that would hew as closely as possible to its creator’s original intentions and ambitions. Naturally, in the event of an artist dying as they were finishing their work, it leaves questions about the nature of art, its creation,  whether an outside editor or a producer can really flesh out the original creator’s ideas in a fashion that they would appreciate, whether its ethical to mine a deceased creator’s incomplete works to make money for the creator’s survivors or for their estate and countless others. In fact, it should be unsurprising that Dilla’s surviving family and the executors publicly battled over every aspect of the posthumously released The Diary; nor should it be surprising that J. Dilla’s mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, who has worked tirelessly to further her son’s legacy while being incredibly protective over it.

Mrs. Yancey was instrumental in the release of Motor City, a new collection of rare and unreleased Dilla instrumentals inspired by the producer’s hometown. Conceived as a letter to her son and originally released this for this year’s Record Store Day, the vinyl release quickly sold out; however, the vinyl has been re-pressed in limited quantities and is available for purchase for purchase at Dillatronic while supplies last. But it also marks the long-awaited digital release of the album. And to celebrate both occasions, Mrs. Yancey released “Motor City J Rocc Blend #4,” an exclusive promotional mix by Dilla’s close friend and equally renowned DJ and producer J. Rocc, which features one of Motor City‘s previously unreleased instrumental tracks.

J. Rocc’s mix is an inventive and boldly vivid take on J. Dilla’s production that builds upon Dilla’s souful production in a swaggering yet organic fashion as the production features a looped string section paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats, some DJ scratching and a sinuous bass line paired with some incredibly fiery spitting from Common.

 

 

 

Video Review: MC Eiht and DJ Premier Team Up on Some Inspired and Gritty Street Hip-Hop

Aaron Tyler is an Augusta, GA-born, Compton, CA-based emcee, best known as MC Eiht, a name which he has publicly claimed was partially inspired by KRS-One and its link to the hood culture of his hometown — in particular Olde English 800 (sometimes referred to as 8 Ball) and to .38 caliber firearms. And although he’s known as the de facto frontman of Compton’s Most Wanted, which featured Boom Bam, Tha Chill, DJ Mike T, DJ Slip and Ant Capone, he’s arguably much better known as a solo artist and actor, who starred in 1993’s Menace II Society and contributed “Streiht Up Menace” to its soundtrack, a single that’s the Compton-based emcee’s most commercially successful and best known.  Now, i have to admit as a hip-hop head I’ve had periods where I’ve been primarily NYC and East Coast-ceneterd and sadly, I kind of forgot about MC Eiht; however, to his credit, he’s been extraordinarily prolific over the course of a nearly 25 year solo career, releasing 12 full-length albums, with his 13th full length effort Which Way Iz West slated for release some this year. 

As it turns out, Which Way Iz West’s latest single “Compton Zoo” is both what we should expect from the Compton-based emcee, a song focusing on Eiht’s life and times growing up in Compton with a gritty “I’ve done real shit and seen real shit out there and survived it all” honesty, over a DJ Premier production consisting of a swaggering yet soulful production featuring twinkling keys, looped horns and boom-bap beats. And while being something of an older statesman of hip-hop Eiht, who turned 50 late last month sounds driven and inspired in a way that would be a lot of younger emcees to shame. 

Directed by Jae Smyth, the recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — it follows Eiht and crew as they stroll around their hometown, with frequent footage of them on a rooftop with the city stretching out beneath them; but it also shows a gritty town full of tough people, who are surviving as best as they could. And of course, there’s footage of the great DJ Premier rocking the turntables, too. 

New Video: DJ Manipulator, Louie Gonz, and Mr. Pacheco Team Up on a Jazzy and Soulful Bit of Real Hip-Hop

Now late last month, I wrote about the Massachusetts-based hip-hop duo DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz and “This Sound,” the silky smooth, looped jazz flute and xylophone-based first collaboration with renowned Los Angeles-based emcee Blu off the duo’s recently released sophomore effort together, The Loops. And with their sophomore effort the duo intends it to be a bold re-introduction to hip-hop heads everywhere while further cementing their reputation for a sound that warmly draws from golden era hip-hop while not resorting to mimicry. The Loops’ latest single, “Who Want It,” is a collaboration with frequent collaborator and friend Mr. Pacheco, and much like the single’s predecessor, the latest track continues in the same vein — no frills, no bullshit hip-hop in which two emcees trade ridiculous and fiery bars over a soulful production consisting of looped, stuttering and twinkling xylophones and warm, jazzy guitar chords. 

The recently released video was shot on grainy and warped VHS tape, further emphasizing the stuttering sample. 

Certainly, if you’ve been frequenting the site over the past 12-18 months or so you’ve come across a handful of posts on Melbourne, Australia-based emcee REMI  and his producer and collaborator Sensible J. The duo rose to national prominence in their homeland with 2014’s critically and commercially successful  Raw X Infinity, an album that was named Triple J‘s Album of the Week and the Independent Hip Hop Album of the Year by the Australian Independent Record Association, a well as receiving international attention from OkayAfricaJUICE, laut.deNPR‘s All Things Considered among others. And adding to a growing profile, the duo were named “Australian Breakthrough Artist of the Year,” and followed that up with touring nationally and across both the UK and EU with Danny BrownVic MensaDe La SoulJoey Bada$$ and Damon Albarn.

Last year saw the release of the duo’s critically applauded sophomore full-length effort, Divas and Demons, which paired their strengths — an incredibly adept lyricist and storyteller, whose stories possessed an uncommonly earnest, soul-baring honesty and an incredibly dope and soulful producer, whose sound and production nods at the great J. Dilla, DJ Premier and others; in fact, you’d probably recall “For Good,” a charmingly coquettish love song in which its male and female narrators have misunderstandings, bicker and fight, cheat and drive each other insane in a youthfully dysfunctional relationship featuring a guest spot from Sydney, Australia-based poet, visual artist and singer/songwriter Sampa The Great rhyming and singing over a warm and soulful production that nodded at The Roots and Erykah Badu‘s “You Got Me;” “Substance Therapy,” the album’s second single featured Remi rhyming honestly about how drinking, drugging and womanizing as an escape from himself and his depression only managed to further mire him in depression paired with a production that emphasizes the rapid vacillation of self-loathing, self-doubt, fear, anger, and desperate escapism of the severely depressed; “Lose Sleep” was a deeply personal song that drew from REMI’s own experiences a mixed race man in Australia and in the world — and in some way, he wanted the song to be a message to other mixed race kids about that weird feeling of feeling as though you could never quite fit in; but that his experience and story, as of those of others matters in a much larger story; and the last single I wrote about “Contact Hi/High/I” featured REMI along with a guest spot from  Hiatus Kaiyote‘s Silent Jay rhyming and singing about what seems to be a permanent state of adolescence, which constantly validates itself through vice and excess.

Interestingly enough, this year marks Sensible J’s solo debut — and his first single “Fire Sign” is a a collaboration with his friends and frequent collaborators REMI and Sampha the Great, which features the two rhyming over a thumping and swaggering, soulful groove, reminiscent of the aforementioned J. Dilla, thanks to a production featuring twinkling keys, boom bap-like drum programming and a ridiculous, anthemic hook; in fact, in a playful turn, the trio pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest — and it shouldn’t be surprising because much like the legendary Tribe and De La Soul, the Melbourne-based trio specialize in an overwhelmingly soulful, thoughtful hip-hop, serving as a reminder that the genre and its practitioners have always been wildly diverse; after all, NWA, Tribe, De La, Public Enemy, Kid ‘N’ Play, MC Lyte and others all existed simultaneously.