Tag: Madlib

Live Footage: ATO Sessions: Nick Hakim Performs “The Want”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you’d recall that earlier this year, the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Nick Hakim quietly re-emerged with the first batch of new material in some time, “Bet She Looks Like You” “Green Twins,” and “Roller Skates,” the first three singles off his recently released and highly-anticipated full-length debut Green Twins. Hakim can trace the origins of Green Twins’ material back a bit — back to when armed with the masters for his first two, critically applauded EPs, Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the DC-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn. And as soon as he got himself settled, Hakim quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording sketches using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder and further fleshing them out whenever possible. He then took his new demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

As Andrew Sarlo explained in press notes about the writing and recording process for Green Twins, for many artists, a demo typically serves an extremely rough sketch of what the song could eventually become and sound. However, with Hakim, things are done very differently; in fact, the demos are seen as more akin to building a comfortable, holy temple — and as a result, as a producer and engineer, Sarlo was tasked to clean, furnish where necessary and prepare those who entered for a profound, religious experience.

Thematically speaking the album’s material reportedly focuses on unique and particular aspects and events of his life with the bulk of the songs being based on specific experiences, feelings, and thoughts had at the time he was writing and composing. As a result, the album consists of a series of different self-portraits — and in a similar fashion to Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the album’s song captures the artist sometimes in broad strokes but frequently in subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. Hakim adds, “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs,” The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.”

Green Twins’ fourth and latest single “The Want” features Hakim’s tender and aching falsetto over a sparse and hauntingly eerie arrangement of shimmering and gently plucked guitar chords played through copious reverb and effect pedals, soaring organ and a gently propulsive rhythm section to evoke a plaintive, vulnerable and undeniably carnal longing for someone, when all you want in this world is the electric touch of their skin against yours, to lay around in an unkempt bed with limbs entwined all morning, kissing, touching, licking, tickling, laughing and bullshitting . . .

New Video: The Childlike and Psychedelic Visuals for Nick Hakim’s “Roller Skates”

Earlier this year, the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Nick Hakim quietly re-emerged with the first batch of new material in some time, “Bet She Looks Like You,” and “Green Twins,” the first two singles off his much-anticipated and long-awaited full-length debut album Green Twins, which is slated for release in a few weeks through ATO Records. Interestingly, Hakim can trace the origins of Green Twins to when armed with the masters for his first two EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the DC-born singer/songwriter and guitarist relocated from Boston, where he was based at the time to Brooklyn. And as soon as he got himself settled, Hakim spent his spare time fleshing out incomplete songs and writing and recording sketches using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder. He then took his new demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

As Andrew Sarlo explained in press notes about the writing and recording process for Green Twins, for many artists, a demo typically serves an extremely rough sketch of what the song could eventually become and sound; however, with Hakim, things are done very differently; in fact, the demos are seen as more akin to building a comfortable, holy temple — and as a result, as a producer and engineer, Sarlo was tasked to clean, furnish where necessary and prepare those who entered for a profound, religious experience. However, thematically speaking, Green Twins’ material reportedly focuses on unique and particular aspects and events of his life with the bulk of the songs being based on specific experiences, feelings, and thoughts had at the time he was writing and composing. As a result, the album consists of a series of different self-portraits — and in a similar fashion to Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the album’s song captures the artist sometimes in broad strokes but frequently in subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling.

Hakim adds, “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs,” The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.”

Now, as I wrote about “Bet She Looks lIke You,” the song further cemented Hakim’s growing profile and reputation for writing intimately confessional songwriting with a heartbreakingly visceral feel — all while being a subtle refinement and expansion of the sound that first won the attention of the blogosphere; in fact, the material retains a spectral quality, thanks to sparse arrangements that allow room for Hakim’s achingly tender falsetto but interestingly enough, the song manages to nod at Roy Orbison. Green Twins’ third and latest single “Roller Skates” continues in a similar spectral and soulful vein; however, there’s a subtle hallucinogenic-fueled psychedelia. Adding to the personal feel of the album’s material, “Roller Skates” is partially inspired by actual real life experience. “The song’s first verse is about a night when I got really stoned at my friend’s house and forgot to meet up wth my partner,” Hakim says in press notes. “It was pouring rain outside and when I realized I was late, I biked through Bed Stuy as fast as I could through the rain to find her but she was gone . . . The second verse is about patching it up, and not leaving her house for a couple of days. It’s a love song.”

Featuring childlike and psychedelic animation by Micah Buzan, the video employs an accessible and deeply empathetic concept. “I wanted to tell a simple story about lonely characters, who desire something that they can’t seem to get — be it love, a stuffed animal, or the ability to skate well,” Buzan says. “I also tried to make it kind of funny how their expectations don’t live up to reality. In the end, rollerskating unites all the characters as they join together in the roller rink. We might feel alone but we’re in this life experiment together.” Much like he visuals for “Bet She Looks Like You,” the visuals for the latest single continue a trend of Hakim pairing his material with bold, playful yet artfully done imagery,

New Video: The Surreal and Gorgeous Visuals for Nick Hakim’s “Bet She Looks Like You”

Up until relatively recently, it had been some since I had written about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Nick Hakim; however, 2017 looks to be a big year for the renowned singer/songwriter as his much-anticipated full-length debut Green Twins is slated for a May 19, 2017 release through ATO Records — and if you had stumbled across this site earlier today, you’d remember that Hakim is currently on tour to build up buzz for the new material until its release.

Interestingly enough, as the story goes, Hakim can trace the origins of the material of Green Twins to when armed with the masters for his first two EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the DC-born singer/songwriter and guitarist relocated from Boston, where he was based at the time to Brooklyn. And as soon as he got himself settled, he spent his spare time fleshing out incomplete songs and writing and recording sketches and lyrics using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder. He then took his new, demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

As Andrew Sarlo explained in press notes about the writing and recording process for Green Twins, for many artists, a demo typically serves an extremely rough sketch of what the song could eventually become and sound; however, with the Hakim, the general sense is that the demos are much more like building a holy temple — and as a result, as a producer and engineer, he was tasked to clean, furnish and prepare entrants for a religious experience. Thematically speaking, the material on the album reportedly focuses on unique and rather particular aspects of his life with the bulk of the songs based on specific things he was thinking and feeling at the time he was writing and composing. And as a result, the album consists of a series of different self-portraits — and in a similar fashion to Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the album’s song captures the artist sometimes in broad strokes but frequently in subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. Hakim adds, “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs,” The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.”

Green Twins’ first single, “Bet She Looks Like You,” will further cement Hakim’s growing reputation for deeply intimate, confessional songwriting that manages to be heartbreakingly visceral while being a subtle expansion upon the sound that first won attention as it retains a spectral quality but with a subtle, bluesy swagger reminiscent of Roy Orbison. Interestingly, the recently released video for the song follows Hakim as he walks to a studio space in what appears to be Sunset Park, near Industrial City where he takes part in a surreal play full of dream-like imagery, missed chances, miscommunication — and some popping and locking.

Live Footage: ATO Sessions: Nick Hakim “Bet She Looks Like You”

Up until relatively recently, it had been some since I had written about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Nick Hakim; however, 2017 looks to be a big year for the renowned singer/songwriter as his much-anticipated full-length debut Green Twins is slated for a May 19, 2017 release through ATO Records — and if you had stumbled across this site earlier today, you’d remember that Hakim is currently on tour to build up buzz for the new material until its release.

Interestingly enough, as the story goes, Hakim can trace the origins of the material of Green Twins to when armed with the masters for his first two EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the DC-born singer/songwriter and guitarist relocated from Boston, where he was based at the time to Brooklyn. And as soon as he got himself settled, he spent his spare time fleshing out incomplete songs and writing and recording sketches and lyrics using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder. He then took his new, demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

As Andrew Sarlo explained in press notes about the writing and recording process for Green Twins, for many artists, a demo typically serves an extremely rough sketch of what the song could eventually become and sound; however, with the Hakim, the general sense is that the demos are much more like building a holy temple — and as a result, as a producer and engineer, he was tasked to clean, furnish and prepare entrants for a religious experience. Thematically speaking, the material on the album reportedly focuses on unique and rather particular aspects of his life with the bulk of the songs based on specific things he was thinking and feeling at the time he was writing and composing. And as a result, the album consists of a series of different self-portraits — and in a similar fashion to Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the album’s song captures the artist sometimes in broad strokes but frequently in subtle gradations of mood, tone and feeling. Hakim adds, “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs,” The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.”

While in town for an intimate and sold out show at Union Pool, Hakim and his backing band recorded a live version of the spectral and achingly confessional “Bet She Looks Like You” for the ATO Sessions at Bushwick’s Market Hotel — and while conveying a visceral heartache and longing, paired with a Quiet Storm-like groove, the song, with repeated listens somehow manages to nod at Marvin Gaye, Bilal and Roy Orbison, thanks in part to his incredibly tight backing band. Speaking of the great Roy Orbison, the live footage is shot in a gorgeous, film noir-like black and white, much like Roy Orbison and Friends: A Night in Black and White.

New Video: Kool Keith and Edo. G Team Up for the Brooding “Tired”

Equally 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 unique and strangest artists as he’s spent his prolific recording career continually perfecting and expanding upon his inimitable flow, full of surreal and fantastical tangents, grimly violent and nightmarish imagery and pop cultural references while frequently and effortlessly switching perspectives, moods and points of view within the same song. Kool Keith’s latest effort, 2016’s Future Magnetic features the Bronx-born and-based emcee collaborating with Ras Kass, Atmosphere’s Slug, MF Doom, Dirt Nasty and a lengthy list of others.

Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the course of last year, you may recall that I wrote about album “World Wide Lamper,” a single consisting of a menacingly sparse and hypotonic production featuring twinkling synths, and subtly propulsive drum programming paired with Kool Keith, B.A.R.S. Murre and Dirt Nasty trading braggadocio-filled bars full of insane punchlines that make references to pop culture, the profane, the grisly violent and the surreal, and “Super Hero,” a collaboration with the renowned producer Madlib that featured a production consisting of wobbling, undulating synths, stuttering drum programming and looped chimes paired with Kool Keith crafting a warped, comic book world of eccentric and badass anti-heroes.
Future Magnetic’s latest single “Tired,” pairs an atmospheric and moody production featuring ethereal synths, wobbling low end and bursts bluesy guitar with Kool Keith and Edo. G rhyming about being world weary, under-appreciated, dealing with hateful, jealous people, of fucked up socioeconomic circumstances and industry bullshit, but while somehow still not losing the knowledge of what they’re worth and why they got into music in the first place — to express themselves and their irrepressible need to be creative at all costs. And in typical Kool Keith fashion, he does so with his imitable sense of wit and humor with Edo G. bringing in the

Directed by Wayne Campbell, the recently released, cinematically shot music video for “Tired” features some gorgeous footage of various parts of New York — in particular the F.D.R. near the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, Kool Keith vamping and hanging out in a hotel room, Edo. G in a lonely, late night club and Keith and Edo on the streets. And while being a view of decadent lifestyle of the artists in question, there’s an underlying sadness to it all, as there’s a sense of lonely and weary people doing things to distract from their own loneliness and despair.

New Audio: Nick Hakim Returns with His Spectral Take on Singer/Songwriter Soul

With the release of Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Nick Hakim quickly established a national and international profile for a sound that effortlessly blurs genres as it possesses elements of classic soul, the blues, the soulful troubadour tradition of Van Morrison and others with hauntingly spectral electronic production and a soul-bearing, confessional intimacy.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about him; however, Hakim has been busy writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise his forthcoming full-length debut Green Twins, which is slated for a May 19, 2017 release through ATO Records. Interestingly, Hakim can trace the origins of Green Twins’ material to when armed with the masters for Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the Washington, DC-born singer/songwriter relocated from Boston to where he was based at the time to Brooklyn. And as soon as he moved, he spent his time fleshing out incomplete songs, writing and recording sketches and lyrics on voice memos and a four-track cassette recorder. The Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter then took his demo’d material to studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London and built upon them with a number of engineers, including Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the songs intact. As Sarlo explained in press notes, for many artists, a demo usually serves as a rough sketch of what the song could eventually become; however, for Hakim, the feeling is that the demos are much more like creating a temple — and as a result, you simply clean, furnish and prepare entrants for a profoundly religious experience.

Thematically speaking, the material on the album focuses on particular aspects o this life. As Hakim mentions in press notes, a lot of the material is based on what he was thinking at that very moment, and in many ways the album consists of a series of self-portraits. “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs,” Hakim says in press notes. “The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.” And as soon as you hear the album’s first single “Bet She Looks Like You,” the confessional and intimate songwriting remains, as it’s soul-bearing to a point of being heartbreakingly visceral; but it manages to be a subtle expansion upon his sound — the song manages to remain hauntingly spectral while possessing an equally subtle, bluesy swagger.

As an obsessive music fan and as a blogger, I become a fan of particular labels, frequently admiring their rosters and their overall output — and over the years, I’ve become an enormous fan of Stones Throw Records, a Los Angeles-based indie hip-hop label, who have released the work of an impressive array of artists across hip-hop, soul and funk including the imitable Homeboy Sandman; Dam-Funk and his various collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Slave‘s Steve Arrington and others; the great Mayer Hawthorne, whose Impressions: The Covers EP landed at number on this site’s Best of List several years ago; Detroit‘s and arguably the country’s best contemporary emcee Guilty Simpson; hip-hop’s most beloved producer J. Dilla; Vex Ruffin; and counties others. The renowned label has recently started a subscription service: for $250 USD plus a one-time, flat-rate shipping fee, subscribers will received every new Stones Throw Records vinyl album released throughout 2017 as soon as the label receives them — and this includes singles, double albums, 12-inch singles, 45s, box sets and special edition reissues.

2017’s first vinyl release will be Madlib and J. Dilla’s Jaylib Remixes for the first time ever on vinyl — and it’ll include a previously unreleased track “Da Ruckus,” which was originally recorded back in 2002. Additionally, the first vinyl shipment will also include a bonus LP Oh No‘s Ultimate Beats & Breaks, a 17 track instrumental hip-hop album, which also marks the long-awaited return of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats series, a series which can trace it origins to the original series of DJ-friendly compilations that was released between 1986-1991 or so. Created by Lenny Roberts, a Bronx-based record collector, and studio editing partner “Breakbeat” Lou Flores, their Ultimate Breaks and Beats series came about as sampling was beginning to take shape. And as you can imagine, the series was instrumental to the increasingly sample-based hip-hop of the period; but also managed to influence electronic dance music and pop as DJs and producers started using the series to help them create some of their genre’s seminal works.

 

“Breakbeat” Lou Flores is reviving Ultimate Breaks and Beats — this time as a producer series, debuting with an album by renowned producer Oh No, which was made entirely from samples from the original UBB series. Check out the  first single off Oh No’s Ultimate Breaks & Beats, “The Troubled” a swaggering track that features twinkling piano chords, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, warm but distorted blasts of horns and vocal samples coming out of the ether. And while nodding at J. Dilla,  the track possesses a cinematic quality just underneath its crowd-pleasing hook.

 

New Video: The Sultry and Classic Soul Sound of Bristol’s Hannah Williams and The Affirmations

Produced by The Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto, who has produced Mulatu Astatke, Orlando Julius and the iconoclastic author/auteur/film producer/actor/musician Melvin van Peebles, and collaborated with Floating Points, Quantic, DJ Shadow and Madlib, Williams’ much-anticipated sophomore effort was recorded, mixed and mastered to tape at London’s Quatermass Studios, Williams’s highly-anticipated sophomore full-lenth effort Late Nights and Heartbreak will be released Stateside and elsewhere on Friday through Record Kicks Records. Interestingly enough the effort not only marks the first time Williams has worked with Catto, it also marks the first recorded effort with her new backing band, the Bristol, UK-based The Affirmations — and from the material I’ve heard off the album, the band comprised of James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals) are not just an incredibly tight unit, but they can give the world-famous Daptone Records bands a run for their money.

The album’s first single “Tame in the Water” has Williams and The Affirmations pairing her incredibly soulful vocals with a tight and funky groove, shuffling drumming, twinkling keys, shimmering guitar chords and a bold horn line to create a sultry, mid-tempo torch song with a narrator, who has had enough of her lover’s shit and wants out, knowing that she deserved and still deserves much better — all while sounding as though it could have been released in 1964 or so. And in some way, the song nods a bit at Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” but with a visceral sense of heartbreak that’s devastating.

The charmingly goofy music video follows the relationship between Williams and a anthropomorphic rabbit, who she discovers is a no-good, cheating, irresponsible lout, which follows the song’s narrative. And towards the end we see an extremely pissed Williams packing her stuff and calling a friend to give her a ride while her former lover gets sloshed — and then kicked out of a bar.

The album’s second single is an amazing, mind-blowing psychedelic soul rendition of “Dazed and Confused” that draws equally from the original version written by Jake Holmes, Led Zeppelin’s legendary cover and The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” — but with a swaggering, self-assuredness. And from both singles a few things are apparent: Hannah Williams can fucking sing her heart out — and I can guarantee that you will be hearing about her and the Affirmations for quite some time; the chemistry and simpatico between Williams and the Affirmations is undeniable, as they’ve created some of the tightest and funkiest music of their young careers.

New Video: Check out the Surreal Animated Video for Kool Keith’s Collaboration with MF Doom and Madlib

“Super Hero,” Kool Keith’s latest single has the renowned and prolific emcee teaming up with MF Doom to trade incredibly visual and narrative bars full of surreal and disconnected pop culture and comic book references over a Madlib production consisting of wobbling and undulating synths, stuttering drum programming and looped chimes around the song’s infectious hook to create a warped comic book world of anti-heroes being incredibly eccentric and badass.

The recently released animated video pokes fun at old cartoons while employing neon bright stop motion animation and Claymation to a trippy, mind-blowing effect.