Tag: Wu-Tang Clan

New Audio: TRY Shares Hazy Rework of “Silence”

TRY is a new music project featuring:

Born during a terrifyingly uncertain and perilous time, the project was formed as a way to provide uplift and optimism, with the project’s members actively choosing the path of light. And while they choose to find the beauty of the human experience, they acknowledge the world’s flaws and ugliness. We wanted to make something that sounded timeless, and we figured that out as we went along – music that provided a visceral energy,” Shmuck the Local explains.

The duo’s full-length debut will be released in three parts, respectively titled Chapter One, Chapter Two and Chapter Three. The album will feature an impressively varied cast of musical and artistic collaborators, who will further fuel their impossible-to-pin-down sound while bringing positive energy and vibes. The end result is an album that’s sonically diverse with the material spanning 2step, trap, house music and synth pop — among others. “We have very eclectic taste, and the record reflects that,” Spiegel says.  

Last month, the duo released Chapter One of their full-length debut. Chapter One featured guest spots from EARTHGANG, Camden, and Miette Hope. Building upon the buzz of those early tracks, the duo will share a collection of Chapter One remixes including a Couros remix of “End of Times,” the duo’s rework of “Aphrodite Part II,” which features a guest spot from Wu-Tang Clan affiliate Killah Priest — and the remix collection’s latest single “Silence (Redux).”

Chapter One track “Silence” feat. Camden and Miette Hope is an infectious banger centered around a feel good, Larry Levan-meets-Ibiza-like production of glistening synths, wobbling tweeter and woofer rattling low end, skittering beats and an infectious hook serving as a sinuous and silky bed for Camden and Hope’s sultrily vulnerable deliveries. The duo’s rework of “Silence” retains the glistening synths and vulnerability of the original — but their rework turns the song into a hazy, Quiet Storm-infused, lo-fi hip-hop affair, featuring tweeter and woofer rattling thump.

The remix collection is slated for a Friday release, so be on the lookout, y’all.

Last week Ghostface Killah celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the release of his seminal debut album Ironman with a special broadcast on his Blue & Cream Sonos station that saw the beloved emcee taking listeners through the entire album, track by track, reflecting on the stories behind what may arguably be one of the more important influential albums within the Wu-Tang universe.

Today, Ghostface released another special episode “Ghost Season of Love.” The episode features Ghost playing some of his favorite tracks that should be part of your Valentine’s Day, however you’re spending it. Fittingly, the mix features tracks from Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, Lauryn Hill, Prince, Stevie Wonder and more. And it’s that Quiet Storm fire that all you lovers you there need today.

The Ghost Season of Love playlist

1. Ghostface Killa & Ne-Yo – “Back Like That” (0:00:06)

2. Marvin Gaye – “I Want You” (0:00:55)

3. Lauryn Hill – “Nothing Even Matters” feat. D’Angelo (0:05:25)

4. Sade – “Your Love Is King” (0:11:12)

5. Mali Music – “Loved By You” feat. Jazmine Sullivan – (0:14:50)

6. Tony Terry – “With You” (0:19:05)

7. Case – “Happily Ever After” (0:24:09)

8. Prince – “Adore” 2020 Remaster (0:28:47)

9. Daley – “Alone Together” feat. Marsha Ambrosius (0:35:17)

10. Stevie Wonder – “You and I” (0:39:16)

11. Ghostface Killah, Vaughn Anthony & Estelle – “Paragraphs of Love” (0:43:54)

12. The Whispers – “Lady” (0:47:47)

13. Snoh Aalegra – “Find Someone Like You” (0:52:50)

14. PJ Morton – “First Began” (0:56:15)

15. Luther Vandross “If This World Were Mine” with Cheryl Lynn – (1:00:08)

16. Jaheim – “Diamond In da Ruff” (1:05:22)

17. Brian McKnight – “Back At One” (1:08:38)

18. Ghostface Killah, Ne-Yo – “Back Like That” (1:13:00)

Throwback: Black History Month: Wu-Tang Clan

Today is February 28, 2021. It’s the last day of February and of Black History Month. Throughout the past month, I’ve featured Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of greens and styles — with the hopes that this series will serve as a sort of primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

While we’re at it, let’s remember the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

I’ve often said that hip-hop is the lingua franca of everyone under about 55 or so. And to that end, I’d almost guarantee that everyone from New York to Beijing, from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam from Johannesburg to New Delhi knows and loves the legendary Wu-Tang Cla

Throwback: Black History Month: Notorious B.I.G.

Amazingly, the month has managed to fly by: Today is February 12 — or the 12th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

A friend, who has become a very dear friend since that trip, was living in Frankfurt at the time and we agreed to meet up while I was in town. The night I was meeting her, I got on an S-bahn 3 train in Bad Soden, where I was meeting her and took the 30 minute ride through the German countryside into town, getting off at the Haupwatche stop.

Walking the stairs to the street, I noticed a Christmas market — and one of the vendors was playing Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance.” For a brief moment, I was quickly transported 4,000 miles back home. And from that point on, I was convinced that hip-hop is the lingua franca of everyone under 50; that I could go into the most random village on the planet and recite Wu-Tang lyrics and the kids would follow along with the next verse.

But let’s not forget that Notorious B.I.G.. was one of the greatest emcees to ever rock a mic.

Interview: A Q&A with Rising Swedish Pop Duo Vargas & Lagola

Choosing the band name Vargas & Lagola because they thought the names sounded like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the Swedish songwriting, production and pop artist act comprised of Swedish Grammy-winning duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare features two of their homeland’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters and producers: the pair have had successful solo careers before teaming up to write hits for a who’s who list of electro pop and pop that includes MadonnaAviciiSwedish House MafiaDavid GuettaAxwell /\ IngrossoKaty PerryGhost, and Sia.

Founded back in 2017, the duo’s collaboration is a decided change in sonic direction from their previous output as the project finds the Swedish songwriters and producers experimenting with their own unique take on melodic alt-pop, which meshes elements of 70s Americana and Nordic melancholia. Coincidentally, as they started their own attention-grabbing project, the duo received accolades for co-writing Avicii’s “Without You” and “Waiting for Love,” which led to a Swedish Grammy Award win for Composer of the Year. Adding to a growing profile across the international electro pop scene, Al Fakir and Pontare performed their co-written hit “More Than You Know” with Axwell /\ Ingrosso at Coachella — and they played a key role in finishing Avicci’s posthumously released album TIM, contributing on three of the album’s songs.

Last year, I wrote about “Forgot To Be Your Lover,” a carefully crafted pop song that balanced easygoing AM rock, yacht rock breeziness and achingly melancholic nostalgia while sonically the track was centered around atmospheric synths, lush layers of shimmering and twangy, country-styled guitar lines. In some way, the song – to my ears at least – reminded me of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, but with an ambitious, arena rock feel.

The acclaimed and commercially successful Swedish pop duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the duo’s latest single “Someone That Understands Me” continues a run of ambitious, arena rock-like pop. Centered around shimmering acoustic guitar, achingly plaintive vocals, enormous hooks, thunderous drumming and a scorching, Purple Rain-era Prince-like guitar solo from Ludwig Goransson, the song is the contented sigh of a world-weary person, who has stumbled upon one of life’s rare gifts – finding someone like-minded, who truly understands and accepts you for you.

I recently spoke to the duo via email about the new single, which officially drops today, their soon-to-be released album and more. Check out new single and the Q&A below.

V&L_somebodythatunderstandsme_artwork

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WRH: How did you get into music?

Vincent Pontare: My father is a singer, so I got my first guitar from him when I was seven years- old.

Salem Al Fakir: I started to play violin and piano when I was three.

WRH: Who are your influences?

VP and SAF: We love all types of music! We have our roots in hip-hop/reggae/70s/60s but get most of the inspiration for VARGAS & LAGOLA from 70s Americana.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar with you and your work?

VP and SAF: Imagine if Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix had a kid that listened to Wu-Tang and loves to go to Burning Man, that’s us.

WRH: Who are you currently listening to?

VP and SAF: Khruangbin, Chet Baker, and Watain.

WRH: Can you name a couple of Swedish acts that should be getting love outside of Sweden but haven’t yet? And why should we know about them?

VP and SAF: VARGAS & LAGOLA. We feel that our type music is unrepresented out in the world at the moment.

WRH: The band is comprised of two, highly accomplished and incredibly successful solo songwriters and producers. What brought the two of you together to collaborate? And how has working together changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: We had met before through mutual friends and had the same booking agency and later on we shared the same studio for a month and then one day we said: we should try to write a song together!?

And the rest is history. . .

It’s a blessing to be two and in the same boat! When the other one is out of ideas or need a break the other one jumps in

WRH: Both of you have managed to write material for an impressive list of globally known pop artists. Has that work influenced or changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: I think success affects [sic] your compass for what works or not in a good way, you trust your gut feel[ing] and that’s the most important tool we have.

WRH: Your latest single “Somebody That Understands Me” features a guest spot from Ludwig Goransson. How did that come about?

VP and SAF:  You might think we already knew him cause we all are Swedes, but we didn’t’! We just fanboyed him up on Instagram and said, “Would you be up for trying a guitar solo on our upcoming single?” And he said “Yes.”

WRH: Speaking of “Somebody That Understands Me,” the track is one of those big, arena rock-friendly sentimental pop tunes with the sort of hook that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. In some way, the song kind of reminds me of Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince. So who and what influenced the song? Is it influenced by personal experience?

VP and SAF: We both have a soft spot for 90s arena rock, so we wanted to please ourselves for a second. Who doesn’t love a 12-string guitar riff!???

The song is about the beauty in finding like-minded people and a homage to thinking outside of the box in life in general. All types of music or genres we’ve been obsessed of comes from an underdog or rebellious perspective. So we wanted to get a little bit of that feeling into the lyrics and the production

WRH: Your highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. What should we expect from the album? 

VP and SAF: We want to give our fans a more nuanced palette of our musical landscape, so The Butterfly Effect is a piece in that puzzle.

WRH: What’s next for you?

VP and SAF: Promotion, touring and writing more music.

Norwegian-born musicians Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar) and Chris Holm (bass) have made a living touring with a number of bands and as a result, they’re frequently on the road. When Blømstrøm and Holm’s paths crossed for the umpteenth time in 2016, they began to realize their mutual dream of starting an instrumental-based band. Holm’s Bergen scene companion Kim Åge Furuhaug joined the band, completing the lineup of up-and-coming instrumental act Orions Belte.

With the release of their full-length, last year’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established themselves for having a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from French Riviera, Formula one traces at Monza and the famous 1971 “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Building upon a growing international profile, the act’s soon-to-be released Slim EP features a couple of inventive reworkings of songs they love — including Ghostface Killah and Milton Nascimento and a Robert Maxwell original that pays tribute to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and to Mac Miller.

Slim‘s first single is a funky and shuffling take on Ghostface Killah’s “Cherchez La Ghost” centered around a shimmering 12 bar blues guitar line, thumping drumming and a sinuous bass line — and while the song recalls El Michels Affair’s critically applauded take on the Wu-Tang Clan, Orions Belte’s breezy arrangement hints at twangy, old-school honky tonk, 70s funk and soul while retaining the song’s melody and swagger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Czarface and Ghostface Killah Release Wild Animated and Live Action-based Visuals for “Powers and Stuff”

Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about Czarface, the collaborative project featuring underground hip-hop duo 7L & Esoteric and the Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck. Deriving the project’s name from fictional character they created that’s patterned after comic book super villains and aspects of the personalities and quirks of each individual member, the act can trace its origins to when 7L & Esoteric and Inspectah Deck toured together. The tour led to a number of collaborative singles including, “Speaking Real Words” off 7L & Esoteric’s 2001 album, The Soul Purpose and “12th Chamber” off their 2010 album 1212, and a number of other singles. Since the act formed back in 2013, they’ve released four critically applauded albums: their 2013 self-titled debut, 2015’s Every Hero Needs a Villain, 2016’s A Fistful of Peril and their collaboration with MF Doom, Czarface Meets Metalface, which was released last year.

The acclaimed trio follow their critically applauded collaboration with MF Doom by teaming up with another legendary and beloved emcee Ghostface Killah, a.k.a. Iron Man, a.k.a. Tony Starks on Czarface Meets Ghostface. The release of the album’s first two singles “Iron Claw,” and “Mongolian Beef,” were perfect tastes of what hip-hop heads should expect from the entire album — four dope emcees trading swaggering and dexterous bars about running massive criminal syndicates, taking over the world, being dope, insane pop culture references and more, over menacing, tweeter and woofer rocker productions. But perhaps more important, the material finds the collaborators pushing their talents, skills and sound in a new direction — without losing what we love about each individual artist.  The album’s third and latest single, “Powers and Stuff,” is centered around a gritty and menacing production consisting of tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, distorted guitar and organ, fluttering flute, trippy sound effects and a motley assortment of kids shouting the song’s hook. The four charismatic emcees spit some incredible bars and verses that make references to Buzzfeed, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Agent Smith from The Matrix films, Battlestar Galactica and several prisons in the New York prison system and more, making the track a street banger — but with a surrealistic bent.

Directed by Josh Mac, the recently released video for “Powers and Stuff,” is a wild and seamless mix of live action and animation, as it follows an experiment done on Powers the Dog that immediately goes wrong when Powers drinks a mysterious substance that turns him into a cartoon hero, who fights crime, drinks shots with local barflies and encounters his arch nemeses Czarface and Ghostface, who have accidentally started a massive fire. It’s trippy and hilarious while bringing Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam to mind. 

New Video: Shawn Johnson’s Trippy Animated Visuals for Czarface’s and Ghostface’s Latest Single

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about Czarface, a collaborative project featuring renowned, underground hip-hop duo 7L & Esoteric and the Wu-Tang Clan‘s Inspectah Deck. The act derives its name from a character they created that’s patterned after comic book super villains and aspects of each of the individual members of the project. Now, as you may recall, the act can trace its origins to when the trio toured together, which led to a handful of singles — including “Speaking Real Words” off 7L & Esoteric’s 2001 album, The Soul Purpose and “12th Chamber” off their 2010 album 1212, and a number of other singles. Since the act formed back in 2013, they’ve released four critically applauded albums: their 2013 self-titled debut, 2015’s Every Hero Needs a Villain, 2016’s A Fistful of Peril and their collaboration with MF Doom, Czarface Meets Metalface, which was released last year.

Interestingly, the acclaimed trio follow their critically applauded and highly-anticipated collaboration with MF Doom by teaming up with another legendary and beloved emcee, Ghostface Killah, a.k.a. Iron Man, a.k.a. Tony Starks on Czarface Meets Ghostface, which is slated for release later this week. “Iron Claw,” the album’s first single was a perfect taste of what hip hop heads should expect from the album — four of the world’s dopest emcees trading swaggering bars about running crime syndicates, taking over the world, being the dopest around and more over a thumping and downright menacing production featuring enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, chopped up vocal samples and arpeggiated synths.  The album’s second and latest single “Mongolian Beef” features each emcee making an insane array of pop cultural references with some of the most inventive word play and rhyme schemes I’ve heard in some time — and each emcee trades their dense bars over a wobbling yet cinematic production consisting of a thumping and stuttering beats, chopped up vocal samples, buzzing organs, a sinuous and funky bass line. It’s a track that manages to be trippy and yet full of the street shit that I love so much — and much like Strong Arm Steady’s “Premium,” the track finds the collaborative unit pushing their talents, skills and overall sound in a wild, new direction. 

Directed by Shawn A. Johnson, the recently released, collage-based animated video fittingly draws from comic books, anime and Japanimation and is as much of a trip as the song it accompanies. 

New Video: Stone Mecca’s Politically Charged and Heartfelt Visuals for “Boogeyman”

Stone Mecca is a Los Angeles, CA-based producer, singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who honed his own craft by listening to Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Parliament Funkadelic, Al Green, Prince, and Earth, Wind and Fire — and as a producer and musician, the Los Angeles-based producer and musician has played live with the aforementioned Earth, Wind and Fire, George Clinton, Wu-Tang Clan and RZA. Developing a reputation for easily navigating through a diverse array of musical genres and styles, Stone Mecca has contributed to the soundtracks for Django Unchained, The Main with the Iron First, Friday, Blade: Trinity, Soul Plane, Repo Men, Afro Samurai and Afro Samurai Resurrection. The Los Angeles-based producer and multi-instrumentalist has also appeared on albums by Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg. And as a solo artist, Stone Mecca’s 2007 full-length debut First Contact featured the critically acclaimed song “A Walk,” a track that OkayPlayer said “in a fair world, music like this would be present all the tim eon prime time rotation in various radio markets.” 

Stone Mecca’s latest album Alienman was released last November, and the album finds the Los Angeles-based producer and multi-instrumentalist stripping down his sound to the rawest form possible — and while pairing tweeter and woofer rocking hip hop beats, funky bass lines, bluesy guitars and soulful melodies, his sound generally blurs the lines between hip-hop, soul, blues, funk and roots rock. Alienman’s latest single is the sultry and swaggering “Boogeyman.” Centered around thumping beats, some blazing guitar work and a G-funk era bass line, the track features some politically charged and righteous lyrics that subtly recall the great Curtis Mayfield and JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnutT, as the song touches upon hypocrisy and challenges media-driven fear-mongering, stereotyping and racism. 

Directed by Alex Von Kurkendall and based on a concept by Stone Mecca and Von Kurkendall, the recently released video further emphasizes the politically charged nature of the song as it reminds the viewer that with every group there are villains and heroes — and that most important, we live in a society in which the dignity and decency of entire groups of people are being ignored. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Czarface, a collaborative project featuring renowned, underground hip-hop duo 7L & Esoteric and the Wu-Tang Clan‘s Inspectah Deck. The act derives its name from a character they created that’s patterned after both comic book villains and aspects of each of the individual members. Now, as you may recall, the act can trace its origins to when the trio together, which lead to “Speaking Real Words” off 7L & Esoteric’s 2001 album, The Soul Purpose and “12th Chamber” off their 2010 album, 1212, and a number of other singles. And since the group’s formation back in 2013, they’ve released four critically applauded albums — their 2013 self-titled debut, 2015’s Every Hero Needs a Villain, 2016’s A Fistful of Peril and their collaboration with MF DoomCzarface Meets Metalface, which was released earlier this year.

Czarface follows their critically applauded collaboration with MF Doom by teaming with Ghostface Killah, a.k.a. Iron Man, a.k.a. Tony Starks on their forthcoming collaborative effort Czarface Meets Ghostface. The album’s first single “Iron Claw” features dope emcees trading swaggering bars about running crime syndicates, taking over the world, being the dopest around and more over a thumping and menacing production featuring enormous 808-like beats, a chopped up vocal sample and arpeggiated organs. Simply put this one is straight fire, as it features some of the world’s best emcees challenging each other to push their talents and skills in a new, exciting directions.