Tag: Raekwon

Throwback: Happy 42nd Birthday Aaliyah!

JOVM celebrates what would have been Aaliyah’s 42nd birthday — belatedly.

New Video: El Michels Affair’s Soulful and Cinematic Take on the Wu-Tang

Comprised of founding member, bandleader and primary arranger Leon Michels (saxophone), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Nick Movshon (bass), Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Sean Solomon (guitar), Tobias Pazner (keyboards), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) and Todd Simon (trumpet), the El Michels Affair is a Brooklyn-based All-Star, instrumental soul act featuring members from several renowned, locally-based acts including The Arcs, Menahan Street Band, The Shacks, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Lee Fields and the Expressions. After the release of their 2005 debut Sounding Out the City, the band was paired with Raekwon for a concert organized by Scion and it eventually led to a tour that featured several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. And interestingly enough, touring with the members of the Wu inspired the El Michels Affair’s sophomore effort Enter the 37th Chamber, soul-based, instrumental interpretations of the material off Wu-Tang’s seminal debut Enter the 36 Chambers.

Unsurprisingly, Enter the 37th Chamber has proven to be the band’s most commercially successful album to date, introducing the band to a much wider audience. It’s been several years since the band has released new material, as the members of the band have been extremely busy with their primary gigs, they had some time to reconvene to write and record Return to the 37th Chamber, their breakthrough sophomore effort’s long-awaited follow up. And much like its predecessor, the material will further cement the band’s reputation for soul music interpretations of the Wu Tang’s material for a live band, while paying homage to RZA’s imitable, hazy production; in fact, Michels in his role as producer, recorded the album straight to analog tape, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing. Adding to the album’s overall sound, the material possesses the occasional psychedelic flourish, John Carpenter-like synths, power chord-friendly guitar work, the enormous horn sections and traditional Chinese instrumentation in place of most of the vocals and guest spots from Lee Fields and The Shacks’ Shannon Wise. Essentially, while being a tribute to one of hip-hop’s most interesting, challenging producers and artists and his sound, the album finds the members of El Michels Affair picking up on and expanding the cinematic aspects of RZA’s production.

Of course, while Enter the 37th Chamber paid tribute to Enter the 36 Chambers, the El Michels Affair tackles some of the Wu’s beloved classics such as “4th Chamber” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuck Wit,” as well as deeper cuts like Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Snakes,” Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse,” and Wu-Tang’s contribution to St. Ide’s legendary early 90s ad campaign, “Shaolin Brew.” Now, as you may remember earlier this month, I wrote about Return to the 37th Chamber’s first single “Tearz.” And that single, which featured guest spots from the aforementioned Lee Fields and Shannon Wise managed to sound as though it paid equal respect to the Wendy Rene original song from which the song’s backing sample came from as it did to the Wu Tang’s own use of the sample — but with subtly psychedelic flourishes.

Return to the 37th Chamber’s latest single “Iron Man” is a cinematic reworking of “Iron’s Theme (Interlude)” off Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele, that expands upon the original’s groove to make it a full-length song — but with martial arts and psychedelic film sound effects.

Directed by artist El Oms, who met Leon Michels though The Arcs and has become a fan of the El Michels Affair, the animated video is a fittingly a martial arts, revenge saga, complete with a couple of trippy flashbacks and a shit ton of bloody mayhem — and I bet it would be make Quentin Tarantino proud. As El Oms explains in press notes “Making this video really brought me back to my younger days. I grew up watching martial art movies and listening to Wu-Tang and when I heard El Michels Affair’s Enter The 37th Chamber I was blown away by the way the album captured those elements and still sounded original. So being able to work on Return To The 37th Chamber was truly amazing. I try to capture those same elements on the ‘Iron Man’ video and give it this originality but still have the old traditional martial arts movie feel to it.”

Comprised of founding member, bandleader and primary arranger Leon Michels (saxophone), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Nick Movshon (bass), Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Sean Solomon (guitar), Tobias Pazner (keyboards), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) and Todd Simon (trumpet), the El Michels AffairT is a Brooklyn-based All-Star, instrumental soul act featuring members from several renowned acts including The Arcs, Menahan Street Band, The Shacks, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Lee Fields and the Expressions. After the release of their 2005 debut Sounding Out the City, the band was paired with Raekwon for a concert organized by Scion  and it eventually led to a tour that featured several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Interestingly, touring with the members of the Wu-Tang led to the band’s sophomore effort Enter the 37th Chamber, an effort that consisted of soul-based, instrumental interpretations of the Wu-Tang Clan’s influential debut Enter the 36 Chambers. 

Unsurprisingly, Enter the 37th Chamber has introduced the band and its members to a much wider audience, while being their most commercially successful effort to date. Although the members of El Michels Affair had been busy with their primary gigs, they reconvened to record Return To The 37th Chamber, the highly-anticipated follow- up to Enter the 37th Chamber — and reportedly while reinterpreting and arranging Wu-Tang songs for a live band, Return to the 37th Chamber also pays homage to RZA‘s imitable, hazy production; in fact, Michels in his role as producer, recorded the album straight to analog tape, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing. Adding to the album’s overall sound, the material possesses the occasional psychedelic flourish, John Carpenter-like synths, power chord-friendly guitar work, the enormous horn sections and traditional Chinese instrumentation in place of most of the vocals — or in other words, the material balances RZA’s imitable and influential aesthetic with El Michels Affair’s burgeoning reputation for cinematic and swaggering soul.

As far as the material on the new album, the renowned instrumental soul act tackles some of the Wu’s beloved classics such as “4th Chamber” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuck Wit,” as well as deeper cuts like Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Snakes,” Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse,” and Wu-Tang’s contribution to St. Ide’s legendary early 90s ad campaign, “Shaolin Brew.” And unlike the previous album, the band invites some of their Big Crown Records labelmates to contribute guest spots; in fact, the first single off the “Tearz”/”Verbal Intercourse” 7 inch — and first single off the forthcoming album features Lee Fields and The Shacks’ Shannon Wise contributing vocals for the El Michels Affair rendition of “Tearz,” a rendition that pays as much homage to the Wendy Rene sample as it does to the Wu Tang while being subtly psychedelic.

 

 

 

 

Born Leslie Pridgen, the Philadelphia, PA-based emcee Freeway is arguably best known for his stint as a Roc-A-Fella Records artist, his affiliation with Jay Z and Beanie Siegel and as a member of State Property, as well as his commercially and critically successful 2003 debut effort Philadelphia Freeway, an effort that was certified gold after selling 500,000 units — thanks in part to his gruff and raspy vocal delivery, rhyming about his days hustling to survive in North Philadelphia with a world-weariness that frequently suggests a desire to be more, do more and see more than the block. And as a result, much like Freddie Gibbs and a few others, it grounds Freeway’s material in a profound and gritty realism that’s much needed — and in the case of Freeway comes from hard-fought person experience.

Although he’s experienced label issue that begun with the dissolution of Roc-A-Fella Records, State Property going on a hiatus as Beanie Siegel was convicted of federal weapons charges, Freeway has been busy as he’s released a couple of albums including 2007’s Free At Last, 2008’s White Van Music which had the North Philadelphia-based emcee collaborating with Jake One and Brother Ali and was released through renowned indie label Rhymesayers.  2010’s The Stimulus Package represented a major turning point in Freeway’s recording career as it was a return to the basics — one producer collaborating with one emcee on a project specifically meant to be cohesive collaborative vision, and it features guest spots from Beanie Siegel, Raekwon, Young Chris, Birdman, Bun-B, Latoiya Williams, Omilio Sparks and Mr. Porter.

 

Personally, it’s been some time since I’ve heard from Freeway — granted, as a blogger covering music from a variety of angles from all over the world, some things naturally will fall through the cracks; however, his latest single “Primates” is a collaboration with Dutch producer Big Ape and it’s a swaggering headbanger of a track that features the Philadelphia-based emcee spitting pure fire over a looped and stuttering horn and string sample and tweeter and woofer rocking boom-bap beats and actual scratching from Sweden’s DJ Devastate. Remember actual scratching on tracks?  Whatever happened to that?

Of course the track is full of Freeway telling off wack emcees — reminding them that only is he dope, but that he’s probably their favorite rapper’s rapper as he uses a variety of cadences, flows throughout and a creative sense of inner and outer wordplay throughout, while reminding listeners that not only is he still here and fiery as ever, but that real hip-hop ain’t dead either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Psychedelic Sounds and Visuals of Samiyam’s Collaboration with Earl Sweatshirt

Animals Have Feelings’ third and latest single is a shuffling and kaleidoscopic collaboration with Earl Sweatshirt “Mirror” that also features a surreal array of obscure 60s psych rock and 70s soul samples paired with boom-bap beats paired with Earl Sweatshirt dexterous inner and out rhymes — some dealing with issues of identity vs. how others perceive you and more.

New Video: Follow a Wild Day in the Life in the New Video for J57 and Koncept’s “The Excitement” feat. Andrew Thomas Reid

J57 and Koncept released their latest collaboration The Fuel EP last month to critical acclaim across the blogosphere, and it shouldn’t be terribly be surprising if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time as the duo, along with their […]

New Video: The Affecting and Empathetic, New Video for Koncept and J57’s “The Fuel” feat. Akie Bermiss

J57, Koncept and their sadly unheralded (and extremely prolific) crew of collaborators, Brown Bag All-Stars have mainstays on this site as I’ve written about J57, Koncept and several other members of crew throughout the years. And if you’ve been […]