Tag: Memphis TN


Rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax RecordsMotown RecordsMuscle ShoalsNew OrleansPhiladelphia and San Francisco.

Over the past eight years, the members of the Lincoln-based act have been one of the Midwest’s hardest working bands, releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, which they’ve supported through several tours across the Continental US and two European tours. Adding to a growing profile, the act has opened for the likes of George Clinton, Charles BradleyBooker T. Jones, Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and an impressive list of others.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal’s Eddie Roberts-produced fifth album Natural Born Hustler is slated for release later this year through Color Red Records, and the album further establishes the act’s sound — music written for grown-ass folks by written-by grown-ass folks rooted in earnest and honest songwriting while sonically drawing from 70s funk and blues, doo-wop and psych soul with a modern twist.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Hustler,” Natural Born Hustler‘s third single was a strutting and defiantly upbeat bit of soul that seemed indebted to The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis. The end result was a track is one-part, much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one-part, much-needed rallying cry for our uncertain times.

“Sunday Lies,” Natural Born Hustler‘s fourth and latest single continues a run of coolly strutting, bluesy soul centered around twinkling organ, Hoyer’s Tom Jones-like crooning, wah wah pedaled guitar, twinkling organ, a looping and propulsive groove and a cinematic yet powerhouse horn line. But underneath the expansive song structure and cool strutting vibes is a simmering anger, as the song calls out the widening chasm between word and action when those in power corrupt their message. In fact, the song’s narrator makes the observation that for voters, the voter dynamic is often swayed when politicians co-opt their platforms with religious messages — and the willful blinders that sometimes inhibit the faithful from accepting the truth and reality: that they’re being cynically played by wanton hypocrites.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Clipping. Team Up with Cam & China for a Menacing New Banger

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping.– production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs—over the past six years or so. The JOVM mainstay’s third album, lat year’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood found the acclaimed trio interpreting a rap splinter set through their own singular lens — horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. Some of its pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA — and it included seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphiscassette tape rap. The album’s material is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — with the title derived from the film.

With horror films, sequels are perfunctory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Their highly-anticipated follow-up to There Existed an Addition to Blood, Visions of Bodies Getting Burned is slated for an October 23, 2020 release through their longtime label home, Sub Pop Records. And much like any sequel, VoBGB finds the JOVM mainstays returning with an even higher body count, bloodier, more elaborate, gorier kills, and as always, unrelenting monsters that just won’t stay dead. The album may be seen by most as a sequel but in reality it’s the second half of planned diptych.

As it turned out, in the years following Splendor & Misery, the trio were incredibly prolific, writing and recording too many songs for just one album. Before the release of There Existed an Addition to Blood, Clipping. and Sub Pop divided the material into two albums, specifically designed to be released only months apart. Of course, as a result to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple cancelled tours forced the delay of Visions of Bodies Being Burned until next month. The 16 song album draws from Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson as much as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Brotha Lynch Hung. And while they have a uniquely abrasive, angular and messy interpretation of the style, their intention is to lovingly twist beloved and familiar tropes to fit their own politics, centered around monstrosity, fear, the absurd and the uncanny and the struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial world.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Say The Name.” Centered around a hook that features Scarface’s evocative lyric from “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” — “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned” — chopped and screed paired with wobbling, twitter and woofer rocking low-end, industrial clang and clatter, arpeggiated synths and Diggs’ tongue twisting flow, full of surrealistic and gory lyrics. And while full of fantastic imagery of demons in the flames, hell spawn and more, bullet holes and more, the song evokes a slow-burning, menace and horror that feels familiar — the sort of horror of seeing a man snuffed out in public on video with replays from different angles and commentary like a key play in a ballgame.

The album’s second and latest single ’96 Neve Campbell” is a tribute to the self-aware “final girl” character of the post-slasher film cycle. Featuring vicious and swaggering guest spots from Inglewood’s Cam & China, the track envisions a final girl — or in this case final girls — who preemptively strike the slasher and fuck that ass up before he could get them. Simply put, this track is a straight up menacing banger featuring criminally under-appreciated talent. “We’ve been fans of theirs for a long time, going back to the days when they were in the group Pink Dollaz,” Clipping.’s Daveed Diggs says of their collaboration with Cam & China. “Cam and China continue to be some of the most consistent and under-appreciated lyricists on the West Coast. We’ve been trying to do a song with them for a while now, and this one felt like a perfect fit. They bodied it.”

The accompanying lyric video was directed by Clipping’s Jonathan Snipes and the group’s longtime collaborator Cristina Bercovitz.

New Audio: Memphis’ Optic Sink Releases a Tense and Neurotic New Single

Optic Sink — Nots’ Natalie Hoffmann and Ben Bauermeister — is a Memphis-based act that specializes in a genre-defying sound that morphs from cold wave to psychedelia to distorted noise rock, often within the same song. Thematically and sonically, the duo fragment and reassemble sounds, concepts and verbal constructs while attempting to find beauty in the journey despite what the final resolution may be.

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for an October 2, 2020 release through Goner Records — and the album’s second and latest single “Exhibitionist” is a tense and minimalist track centered around arpeggiated synths and chintzy Casio-like metronomic beats paired with Hoffmann’s insouciant delivery. And at its core, is an uncertain and neurotic narrator, who’s rightfully a bit paranoid. “From the pressure to constantly commodify yourself, market yourself, appear to be a certain thing –– the BEST thing –– on social media, to the cold machine eye on the other side that is always watching, taking notes, fitting all of us neatly into its algorithm, and selling this idea of the best version of ourselves back to us,” Optic Sink’s Hoffman explains. “And the overwhelming evidence is that we’re buying it, but what are we actually paying for it?”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Clipping. Release a Menacing and Uneasy New Single

Over the past six years or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio and JOVM mainstay act Clipping. When the act — production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs — formed in the pervious decade, they never expected to achieve much in the way of critical or commercial success: their earliest releases were built around Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse and abrasive productions featuring industrial clang, clink and clatter and samples of field recordings paired with Diggs’ rapid-fire narrative driven flow,  full of surrealistically brutal and violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio.

Sub Pop Records signed the Los Angeles-based trio and released 2014’s clpping. an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including here. Shortly after clppng., Diggs went on to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton, winning a Tony Award for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette. Although the act was on a hiatus for a bit, they reconvened for 2016’s critically applauded, Sci-Fi dystopian concept album Splendor & Misery, an effort that was clearly futuristic and yet accurately described our frightening and bizarre present.

The JOVM mainstay’s third album, lat year’s There Existed an Addiction to Blood found the acclaimed trio interpreting a rap splinter set through their own singular lens  — horrorcoe, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a handful of years around the mid 1990s. Some of its pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA — and it included seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphis cassette tape rap. The album’s material is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — with the title derived from the film. 

With horror films, sequels are perfunctory. As the insufferable film bro Randy explains in Scream 2, “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate—more blood, more gore. Carnage candy. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.” Slated for an October 23, 2020 Clipping. will be releasing the highly anticipated follow-up to There Existed an Addiction to Blood, Visions of Bodies Being Burned — and much like any sequel, the JOVM mainstay act’s fourth album finds them returning with a higher body count, more elaborate, bloodier, gorier kills and of course, unrelenting monsters that just won’t stay dead. Sure, the album in a simplistic sense may be seen by many as a sequel but in reality it’s the second half of a planned diptych: as it turns out  in the years following Splendor & Misery, the trio was incredibly prolific, writing too many songs for just one album. Before There Existed an Addiction to Blood’s release, Clipping. and Sub Pop divided the material into albums, specifically designed to be released only months apart. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and multiple cancelled tours forced the delay of Visions of Bodies Being Burned’s release until this upcoming October. The 16 song album draws from Ernest Dickerson, Clive Barker and Shirley Jackson as much as it does from Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Brotha Lynch Hung. And while they have a uniquely abrasive, angular and messy interpretation of the style, their intention is to lovingly twist beloved and familiar tropes to fit their own politics, centered around monstrosity, fear, the absurd and the uncanny and the struggle for an antiracist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial world. 

VoBBB’s first single “Say The Name” is centered around a hook that features Scarface’s evocative lyric from “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” — “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned” — chopped and screwed and paired with industrial clang and clatter, wobbling, twitter and woofer rocking low end, arpeggiated synths and Diggs’ surrealistic and gory lyrics. And while full of fantastic imagery of demons in the flames, hell spawn and more, bullet holes and more, the song evokes a slow-burning, menace and horror that feels familiar — the sort of horror of seeing a man snuffed out in public on video with replays from different angles and commentary like a key play in a ballgame. 

The rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax Records, Motown Records, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The Lincoln-based quintet have developed a reputation for being of the area’s hardest working bands: releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, the members of the rising soul act have played hundreds of shows and have made several tours across the Continental United States and two European tours, opening for the George Clinton,Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones, and Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and others.

Further cementing their reputation as one of the Plain States’ hardest working bands, the members of the Lincoln-based soul act will be releasing their Eddie Roberts-produced fifth later later this year through Color Red Records. “Hustler,” the album’s cinematic, third and latest single is a strutting bit of soul, prominently featuring Hoyer’s soulful, Tom Jones-like vocals, a commanding horn arrangement, a sinuous bass line, shimmering organ arpeggios and an enormous and rousingly anthemic hook. While seemingly possessing elements of The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis, the upbeat track manages to be one-part much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one part much-needed rallying cry for our unprecedented and uncertain moment, centered around the assuring yet forceful line “When the world wants you to sink or swim, I ain’t goin’ under.”

Things may be bleak right now but keep fighting y’all. There’s much hard and necessary work to be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Williams is an acclaimed Washington DC-born and-based singer/songwriter, bassist, composer, bandleader and highly sought-after collaborator. Williams graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Michigan State University and The Juilliard School, winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition(now known as the Herbie Hancock  International Jazz Competition) back in 2009 and a Grammy Award as a member of Pat Metheny‘s Unity Band. He has collaborated with an impressive and remarkably diverse array of artists including Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, Pharrell and a long list of others. (He also appeared in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.)

As a bandleader and composer, Williams has released two albums through renowned jazz label Concord Records — 2011’s State of Art and 2015’s Coming of Age. Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through Jose James‘, Talia Billig‘s and Brian Bender’s Rainbow Blonde Records, Williams third album I AM A MAN references Memphis‘ historic 1968 sanitation workers’ strike, during which African American men marched through the streets with picket signs that read “I Am A Man” in a boldface type. “The image of this long line of men, holding the picket signs, all saying the same thing — there’s something powerful about seeing this message over and over again,” Williams explains, before saying that the messaging reminded him of how we use hashtags today to help ignite and inspire activism today, such as the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements. But there’s multiple subtle meanings to the album’s title: as Williams said during his performance at the Rainbow Blonde Records NYC Winter Jazz Fest last week the album wasn’t a typical protest album; that it was thematically an exploration of the black male psyche.

Sonically, the album reportedly meshes past, present and future, as it seemingly draws from The Roots, Erykah Badu, Bilal, D’Angelo, Common, Roy Hargrove‘s RH Factor as well as Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On, Curtis Mayfield and others.

Williams plays both double bass and electric bass throughout the album’s material, singing lead vocals on almost every single song on the album. He’s joined by an accomplished backing band of collaborators that includes Kris Bowers (keys), David Rosenthal (guitar), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Bendji Allonce (percussion), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Anne Drummond (flute), Jamire Williams (drums) and Justin Brown (drums). The album also features a handful of songs with  string arrangements performed by a string quartet — Justina Sullivan (cello), Celia Hatton  (viola), Maria Im (violin) and Chiara Fasi (violin), and vocals from Kendra Foster, Muhsimah, Wes Felton and Niles.

The album’s first single is the cinematic “If You Hear Me.” Centered around an spacious and cinematic arrangement featuring a shimmering and soaring string arrangement, African polyrhythm, Williams’ plaintive and soulful vocals, the track manages brings to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Landing on a Hundred-era Cody Chesnutt to mind. The album’s second single, fittingly released today is an atmospheric rendition of the civil rights-era classic “We Shall Overcome” that places the song’s timeless struggle and hope for a far better, more just world into a contemporary context:  reminding the listener that the struggle of MLK, Malcolm X,  The Black Panthers and others,  is the same struggle as Black Lives Matter and other movements.

Williams will be embarking on a handful of live dates that includes a February 8, 2020 album release show at Nublu 151. Check out the live dates below.

 

Tour Dates
2/8: New York, NY @ Nublu 151 (Album Release Show)
3/19: Washington, DC @ City Winery

JOVM has been a (mostly) one-man operation that I’ve run out of my Corona, Queens, NYC apartment and out of various Starbucks in and around Queens for its nine-plus year history. Unsurprisingly, I’m usually multi-tasking while going through countless emails featuring tracks, mixtapes, videos —  and as a result I wind up stumbling upon a wild variety of interesting things. In this case, I stumbled upon the “48 hr Pu$$yMIX 1.0” mixtape by the mysterious emcee, Memphis-based Elle. (I’m presuming she’s based in Memphis because of all the love shown to the city. But who knows? I can’t find a thing about her.)

Although it was released earlier this year, the mixtapes features some of the most self-assured, swaggering bars and wildly inventive rhyming I’ve heard in some time over tweeter and woofer rocking, feverish productions. Simply put — this this is fire.

 

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays clipping and Shabazz Palaces Team Up on a Trippy and Swaggering New Single

I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio Clipping over the past few years of this site’s nine-plus year history. And as you may recall, the act — production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs — initially released material without the expectation of receiving commercial or critical success: their earliest releases were built around Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse and abrasive productions featuring industrial clang, clink and clatter and samples of field recordings paired with Diggs’ rapid-fire narrative driven flow, which is full of surrealistically brutal and violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio.

Sub Pop Records signed the Los Angeles-based trio and released 2014’s clpping. an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including here. When Diggs went on to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton, winning a Tony Award for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, the act was on an informal hiatus. But during that time, the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays reconvened to write and record 2016’s critically applauded effort Splendor & Misery, a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album that is futuristic and yet describes our increasingly frightening and bizarre present.

Clipping’s latest full-length, There Existed an Addiction to Blood was released last month, and the album which features guest spots from Ed Balloon, La Chat, Counterfeit Madison and Pedestrian Deposit and a list of others interpreting horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre of hip hop pioneered by Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA and featured seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphis cassette tape rap during the mid 1990s. And while drawing from the horrorcore movement of the mid 90s, the album is also partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — the title is derived from the film and the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays sampled part of the score on the album.

Interestingly, back in 2017 clipping was commissioned to create a song for a This American Life episode about Afrofuturism. The end result was “The Deep,” a dark sci-fi tale about the underwater-dwelling descendants of African women thrown off slave ships, based on the mythology created by Detroit-based electronic group Drexciya. The song earned the JOVM mainstays a Hugo Award nomination last year — and they constructed a sound installation based on the single at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Sub Pop will be releasing “The Deep” on vinyl and as a digital download globally on November 29. Both the vinyl and digital versions include two previously unreleased tracks “Drownt” and “Aquacode Databreaks,” a collaboration with fellow JOVM mainstays Shabazz Palaces. Centered around an abrasive, industrial-leaning production featuring clang and clatter and glistening synth arpeggios, the track features two of hip-hop’s most dexterous and dense lyricists creating a fantastical world full of blinged out mermaids flossing. dancing — and most importantly being defiantly, boldly black as fuck. 

Interestingly, the 12″ single comes on the heels of the release of The Deep, a novella by two-time Astounding Award-nominated author Rivers Solomon with clipping credited as co-authors,. inspired by the title track and published by Saga Press. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Clipping. Return with an Eerie and Historically Inspired Visual for “Blood of the Fang”

I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based hip-hop trio Clipping over the past few years of this site’s nine-plays year history. And as you may recall, the act — production duo Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson and frontperson Daveed Diggs — never expected to achieve much in the way of critical or commercial success: their earliest releases were built around Snipes’ and Hutson’s sparse and abrasive productions featuring industrial clang, clink and clatter and samples of field recordings paired with Diggs’ rapid-fire narrative driven flow, which is full of surrealistically brutal and violent imagery and swaggering braggadocio.

Sub Pop Records signed the Los Angeles-based trio and released 2014’s clpping. an effort that received attention across the blogosphere, including here. When Diggs went on to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton, winning a Tony Award for his dual roles of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, the act was on an informal hiatus. But during that time, the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays reconvened to write and record 2016’s critically applauded effort Splendor & Misery, a Sci-Fi dystopian concept album that is futuristic and yet describes our increasingly frightening and bizarre present.

Clipping.’s  latest full-length effort, There Existed an Addiction to Blood is slated for an October 18, 2019 release, and the album, which features guest spots from Ed Balloon, La Chat, Counterfeit Madison and Pedestrian Deposit among a list of others, finds the acclaimed act interpreting another rap splinter sect through their own singular lens — in this case, horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist and significant sub-genre that flourished for a brief few moments in the mid 1990s. Some of its pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung, Gravediggaz, which featured The RZA — and it included seminal releases from Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and pretty much most of Memphis cassette tape rap.

Interestingly, There Existed an Addiction to Blood is partially inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 vampire cult classic, regarded as one of the highlights of the Blaxploitation era — the title is derived from the film and the members of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays sampled part of the score on the album. (More on that later.) Over the past month or so, I’ve written about two of the forthcoming album’s previously released singles: the menacing and cinematic “Nothing Is Safe,” a track that loving employs the tropes of gangsta rap and horror films in a way that recalls Geto Boys’ hallucinogenic “My Mind Playing Tricks On Me.” — and “La Mala Ordina,” a collaborative track featuring guest spots from The Rita, Benny The Butcher and Elcamino that’s full of mayhem, copious gore paired with boom bap-like beats that’s part Mobb Deep’s “Get It Twisted“ and part DMX.

There Existed an Addition to Blood’s third and latest single “Blood of the Fang”  is built around a chopped up sample from Sam Waymon’s score to the 1973 blaxploitation vampire film Ganja and Hess paired with a production featuring stuttering beats, wobbling low end and fluttering synths. Lyrically, Diggs conjures an alternate history of black political and social struggle in the 60s and 70s, name-dropping a who’s who of radical activists  — and then reimagining them as a sort of undead superhero team continuing the necessary fight against systems of oppression and racism.  Whereas the album’s two previously released singles were full of menace and mayhem, “Blood of the Fang” is full of fitting righteous (and necessary) fury.

Directed by multidisciplinary artist Lars Jan, the recently released video for “Blood of the Fang” is inspired by a famous of Huey Newtown — co-founder of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense — handcuffed to a hospital gurney while being treated for a gunshot wound in the stomach after a gun battle with Oakland police in October 1967. The video set in an eerie hospital operating room, features the members of Clipping. performing a series of bloody surgical procedures.