Tag: Michael Kiwanuka

New Video: Danger Mouse and Black Thought Team Up for a Banger

Born Brian Burton, Danger Mouse is arguably one of the most versatile and prolific artists and producers in music right now: As an artist he’s one-half of Broken Bells and Gnarls Barkley and has recorded collaborative albums with Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O and the late, legendary MF DOOM. As a producer, he’s worked with Adele, U2, The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Kiwanuka, Parquet Courts and a lengthy list of others.

Born Tariq Trotter, Black Thought is a co-founder and frontman of The Roots. Trotter is an accomplished solo artist who has released a critically applauded album and two EPs: 2020’s Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel and 2018’s Streams of Thought Vol. 1 EP and Streams of Thought Vol. 2 EP. While considered by the cognoscenti as one of the dopest emcees to ever do it, Trotter has also acted in film and theater. And has producer and writing credits.

Their long-awaited joint album together Cheat Codes is slated for an August 12, 2022 release through BMG. While Cheat Codes marks Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album since 2005’s DANGERDOOM with MF and the follow-up to Black Thoughts’ solo trilogy Streams of Thought, their collaboration can be traced back almost almost 20 years: Trotter and Burton first met back in 2005. They started working on material — but time went on, life happened, other projects and obligations came up.

Following 2004’s The Grey Album, Burton became one of the most in-demand and prolific producers of the day, helming several commercially and critically successful projects, which led to a bevy of accolades and awards. He also developed collaborations with a unique and eclectic array of artists while expanding upon and honing his own musicianship, production and writing.

During that same period of time, The Roots released some critically applauded albums and became the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon then The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Trotter released his aforementioned, critically applauded solo trilogy Streams of Thought. He collaborated with the likes of Eminem, John Legend, Pusha T., Griselda, and a list of others. He wrote, composed and starred in the widely-praised off Broadway show Black No More. And adding to a lengthy list of accomplishments, he co-produced a TV series with his Roots bandmate Questlove.

Each mistakenly thought that the other had moved on and their collaboration just died, but as it turned out neither ever stopped wanting to work together. Burton felt an instinctive pull to go back to his roots and make a timeless hip-hop album. He knew that Trotter was the only emcee capable of fulfilling that vision. Simultaneously, Trotter was seeking a space, where he could express himself musically and creatively beyond the confines and structures of his own band.

This time, Burton was a far more seasoned songwriter and producer, Trotter an even more extraordinary emcee.  So, setting aside all distractions, Burton played Trotter some new music he had had. The ideas and words quickly flowed — and the experience was liberating.

Meticulously built over a period of several years, Cheat Codes reportedly finds Burton pushing widescreen, soul-infused hip-hop soundscapes to new directions paired with Trotter’s commanding presence, incisive lyricism and dexterous wordplay. Unlike the typical producer-meets-rapper/side project, Cheat Codes is an effort between two like-minded collaborators, who raise each other’s games to new heights.

The album also features an equally acclaimed cast of guests including A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Raekwon, and Conway the Machine.

Cheat Codes‘ first single “No Gold Teeth” is centered around a warm and dusty old school, psychedelic soul production that to my ears is a slick synthesis of RZA, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. The production serves as a lush bed for Black Thought’s rapid fire, lyrical deluge. This is that real hip-hop: dope emcees spitting flames over dope beats.

Directed by UNCANNY, the UK-based creative duo of George Muncey and Elliot Elder, the accompanying video is a hypnotic and mind-bending collage of machine learning-created images superimposed over Black Thought’s head.

was·sail

/ˈwäsəl,ˈwäˌsāl/

ARCHAIC
verb
gerund or present participle: wassailing
  1. 1.
    drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  2. 2.
    go from house to house at Christmas singing carols.
    “here we go a-wassailing”

 

  1. drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  2. to go from house to house at Christmas singing carols.

 

Featuring a former member We Were Evergreen, an act that toured across the UK and opened for the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Slow Club, Metronomy, Nick Mulvey, Villagers and others, the up-and-coming London-based indie electro pop project Wassailer derives its name from the word “wassailing” — and was discovered by the artist while looking for an anagram on a Scrabble website. With the help of a Tyneside-born girlfriend, Wassailer’s mastermind fell in love with a variety of different things that wound up influencing him — including Irish folk songs, grime, Auden’s poetry, Indian cuisine, UK garage and the peacefulness of the lake district.

Wassailer’s somewhat mysterious mastermind has since relocated to Lewisham, where he’s joined a contemporary crop of singer/songwriters, who are influenced by folk, jazz and soul as much as they are by electronic and urban productions. His latest single, “Ghosts” is a soulful trip hop production featuring looping, twinkling piano, brooding and mournful flugelhorn and trumpet from Johnny Woodham, thumping beats, soulful vocals from Wassailer and Demi Ma and a sinuous hook. And while seemingly drawing from Portishead and The Brand New Heavies, the track as Wassailer said via email was written while reading an article about the British Royals, who were refurbished their private properties with taxpayers’ funds — ” . . .and humbly aims at blending folk with modern urban beats and neo jazz in a pop song.”

 

 

New Audio: Hurray for the Riff Raff Release Their Most Danceable, Most Politically Charged Album to Date

Featuring The Bronx, NY-born, New Orleans, LA-based founding member, creative mastermind and frontperson Alynda Segarra and her bandmates Yosi Perlstein, David Jamison, and Caitlin Gray, Hurray for the Riff Raff first came to prominence after they had been featured in an article in The Times based around the HBO TV series Treme with their single “Daniela” being listed in the paper’s playlist of essential songs by contemporary artists from New Orleans — and for a sound that drew from folk, country, bluegrass and Americana paired with lyrics that approached traditional Americana themes in an unconventional way. After releasing a series of EPs and two full-length albums — one was self released through the band’s label, the other released through a small, indie label, the band’s third full-length effort, Small Town Heroes was released through ATO Records, marking that album as their major label debut. And unsurprisingly, the band’s national and international profile grew exponentially.

The New Orleans-based band’s highly anticipated follow-up to Small Town Heroes, The Navigator was produced by Paul Butler, known for his work with Michael Kiwanuka, St. Paul and The Broken Bones and Devendra Banhart. Slated for a March 10, 2017 release through ATO Records, The Navigator is reportedly both a thematic and sonic departure for the band — thematically, the album tells a deeply interwoven, cinematic story about a wandering soul named Navita, who finds herself at the crossroads of personal identity and ancestral weight, traveling across a perpetually burning city in search of her true self, while addressing many of the urgent, sociopolitical issues of our increasingly uncertain and dangerous times. But perhaps more important, while all of Hurray for the Riff Raff’s material drew from Segarra’s experience, the new album holds a much deeper, personal weight drawing from the many uneasy questions, answers and compromises that come about as a minority in the world — with the most important being “what does it mean to be prideful of your heritage in a world and society that frequently asks you to not be too proud?”

Sonically, as you’ll hear from The Navigator’s percussive first single “Rican Beach,” the album finds the band delving deeper into Latin rhythms and styles — in particular salsa, boogaloo and bomba, giving the single one of the tightest and most dance floor-friendly grooves they’ve ever written. But at the core of the song are lyrics that capture a frightening sense of uncertainty, subtly asking “well, who will protect me or my neighbors, who will speak for us if the authorities begin to round us up?” while simultaneously being a call to resist, to “live your life as a form of protest,” as the great Saul Williams once said.

As Segarra explains of both the single and of the album’s material “This is dedicated to the water protectors of Standing Rock – thank you for your bravery and giving us hope. Also, to the people of Peñuelas, Puerto Rico, who are demanding an end to the AES dumping of coal ash which leads to water contamination – we are with you.

All over the world, the are heroes, who despite suffering generations of oppression, are protecting the land the future of our humanity. Rican Beach is a fictional place, but it was written with my ancestors in mind. It’s time to call on yours and to always remember: this land was made for you and me.”