Mixtape Review-Young Jefe by Shy Glizzy
A weird voice cuts two ways; one mans innovation in intonation is another’s fingernails down the chalkboard. I have to warn you about this because Glizzy has a whine flow all his own that might shut you down before you even get the chance to think about what he’s saying or what these songs sound like. Glizzy is a dude who has been praised right from the get go for youthful exuberance and an emotional depth to his coke talk that a lot don’t possess. I wasn’t sold. He was much more chalkboard than innovation in my mind but that was before Young Jefe.
I spent most of early 2014 tired of the trap sound. I felt like I’d heard every Zaytoven and Metro Boomin beat and pillars of the genre like Gucci Mane were flooding the market at all costs sacrificing quality. This all makes it strange that to fall so hard for Young Jefe which is squarely Trap music carrying at least three Zaytoven production credits (although more subdued and interesting than I remember his norm being) along with features from Trap mainstays like Peewee Longway, Young Thug, and Young Scooter. More than any mixtape in recent history Young Jefe portrays a Scarface attitude to match its cover. It’s got genuinely funny moments like the interlude Call From Cannon where you get to hear our narrator laugh and have fun but these moments are rare. Even on a brag song like I’m On Fire Glizzy is talking about the death of his father, the choice to sell dope and the people who constantly reminded him he had no future.
The sing song cadence of the chorus’s (I Can’t Trust Myself, I’m A Star, Mula, Coca Loca, pretty much any song) are hypnotizing and while Glizzy does weave tales of death and depression they slide underneath a resounding confidence/arrogance that would garner the respect of Tony Montana himself. I’m A Star is so brazen and catchy that you have to listen to it again. Over the course of the 18 track opus Glizzy’s young and ready to fight the world attitude becomes contagious. You might start to puff your chest out when Glizzy calls himself macho on Medellin or snarl along with him when he asks “where’s your pistol?” on Or Nah. That feeling connects to the reason we all come back to Scarface after all these years.
We all live in fear of things: losing jobs, family, friends, or our health. Tony Montana was a character who felt like he was born at the very bottom of life’s possible outcomes so he wasn’t really scared at what happened by the end of the movie. He came from nothing and now he had everything, the only thing that made sense to him was to push it as far as he could and what was the worst that could happen? He would lose what he was never supposed to have had in the first place. On moments like Coca Loca where Glizzy brags gleefully about having cocaine he seems to carry that same joyful anger. The fearlessness of youth mixed with the spirit of vengeance from the bottom. It’s an acidic mixture that still connects with me the same way Never Mind The Bullocks by The Sex Pistols did the first time I listened to it.
stream or download Young Jefe below:
Song Review-Mandela by Cyhi The Prynce produced by Sekou Muhammed & TEC Beatz
Cyhi The Prynce is the kind of talent that can be painful. The wit that staggers with lines like “and I don’t need a beat cause I can easily speak to these N’s through the frequencies…” can’t help but get creepy. Even on the feel good last track Black Pride he suggests to a woman that if she comes home with him tonight she will make her mother proud (to be fair on the same song he says “they know me down in Africa like I’m the Prime Meridian” so that’s great). On one level I guess its admirable to be so confident in your prospects that you honestly believe this woman’s mother would be proud she boned you but its super creepy.
I recall an interview where Yelawolf was asked who he wouldn’t want to battle and his first answer was Cyhi. It makes sense. This is a mind that works fast and dangerously with painful jokes, shocking threats and adept observations. It shouldn’t be confusing then that if you add all those talents to a mixtape called Black Hystori Project executive produced by Kanye West it becomes one of the most interesting projects of the year thus far. The most interesting Kanye moment is when Cyhi actually says “I’m like Kanye but less rude” was Ye in the studio bumping his head to that? It’s times like that when I wish I had some kind of insider access to ask these questions.
The reason I spotlighted this song is that it cuts to the core of what Cyhi is at his best. Give him a beat that feels like a stampede of drums and handclaps and just let him tell you how awesome he is in a thousand different ways. By the end your eyes will be wide open to the pure talent sitting within this dude; a dude with a little bit of Pepe Lepew masking it.
If you want to check out Black Hystori Project check the link below:
Mixtape Review-Beautiful Pimp 2 by Rome Fortune
Nothing that has come out in 2014 is as comprehensively arresting as Beautiful Pimp 2. It doesn’t exhibit any of the cool calculation of a pimp mixtape or any of the depth that an introspective one provides. On Money Memories his flow moves like a slinky, bunching up words for a quick bar only to follow it with a slow elongated thought. At one point he brags about how “these women won’t change me” then allows a quarter second of sorrowful silence following it with a mumbled curse and “I’m all on my own.” The emotional seesaw between confidence and raw emotion is perfectly matched by the production which is entirely handled by Citoonthebeat. It’s easy to make the generalization that mixtapes are better with one producer and one core artist but they have to have a special chemistry. Sometimes a whole project between an important artist and an important producer doesn’t fit (thinking Lex Luger x Wiz Khalifa on Cabin Fever). These two have that chemistry.
When I first heard Beautiful Pimp 2 I was sure that the production was brilliant; that all the sonic elements added up to the audio version a stone skipping across the water. Every song became a sight that I could attend over and over without getting tired of it; I wasn’t sure about Rome. Is the production masking a sloppy lyricist? Is the slinky flow used under a masters control or…I’m still not sure. That’s the thing about Beautiful Pimp 2 it’s jarring. Look at the cover image. This woman’s posterior is the first image that will catch your eye (if you are like me) but after that you notice a father who looks just as uninterested in taking this photo as the child on his lap and you can’t help but wonder why.
Within that core question the music creates a need for itself beyond the lush production. He sells a detachment on the song Indifferent that never feels believable; just another layer of defense. You won’t find this project filled with physical threats or bumper sticker catchy expressions about the pimp life. He continues the conversation from Indifferent about how much he doesn’t care but really enjoys sex with women on Bad for Me and even as he warns his women to keep things quiet it doesn’t seem to be an assertion of power instead hope for a silent meditative moment in a world jammed with crap.
OneDay is when the fear starts showing itself. The chorus is “Its me alone…standing there…unfulfilled…I don’t care….say what you will…you N’s gonna hate me I ain’t mad and I ain’t scared. My eyes are open, I’m prepared.” This fear of being alone mixes with a distrust for others and their intentions. Now add the relationship to fatherhood and needing to provide. It all becomes a rich emotional tapestry that’s complexity is beyond flow or rhyme structure.
Maybe I love Beautiful Pimp 2 so much because it exists so far outside of every trend. I would love for anyone to listen to the bubbling electronics and chimes on Secretly and place that anywhere in the trap v. ratchet debate. It’s nowhere and smugly satisfied with that. Its not all sadness and fear just pay attention to the opening verse of Sunset in Benzes (in fact just turn that up and hit repeat when its done). When he uses the song as an opportunity to state “I’m trying to win right now and look good doing it” it feels more blue collar than that declaration normally would. On the last track So I was struck when Rome said “When I’m asked by the magazines ‘how you doing Rome?’ I simply smile and tell my story showing nothings wrong.” In the end this project has too much pride to cry for your empathy but that doesn’t mean the conversations held within it, whatever topics they touch, can’t maintain a level of sensitivity. I could keep writing about it but I would never get to a real conclusion. I will likely stay lost in it and I love that.
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Mixtape Review-Keys of Heaven by Al Doe
An artist’s sound betrays his or her intentions. You can listen to the very first B.O.B. mixtape and know he was meant to be on every radio (that’s not an insult either). The opposite of that B.O.B. listening is Al Doe. No one hearing the dogs and the church bells on Nightmare on Dope Street could picture the song that follows playing behind a car commercial. His verses are clipped barks “Ha! Backing out bout to do ‘em dirty…I ain’t coppin’ out and if I lose trial I ain’t doing thirty! (Nightmare on Dope Street)” Out of the seven tracks that Keys of Heaven consist of Crystal Gaines produces three (Nightmare on Dope Street, La Botanica, and Kings Only) and the two have a great rapport. Gaines seems to perceive perfectly the balance between minimalism and light innovative touches.
Keys of Heaven never reaches for an all out banger but it also never loses its tempo or drifts. Not only that but it includes the line “Recorded this in my Pope hat, stop asking me where that dope at…” utilized as a verse starter twice on La Botanica. Tree Mason also starts his verse on the track with “recorded this in my monk suit…”so regardless of how dark the content is you know everyone is having fun. Call it a horror movie on record or a hip hop version of The Stooges Funhouse album but if you get shocked or disgusted you know Doe got you.
On Nowhere Island he peels off like a snake skin stewing in paranoia and self-hatred. I should backtrack; this project is not his “dark” experiment. This is his sound. Along with others like Nym Lo a small cluster of NY rappers give us sonic haunted houses to explore. If you call it Trap you can do that. It’s all drug related music but it’s not glamorous or goofy. I would ask if you have to call it trap (and we need to stop calling everything trap) call it Horror Trap. Since in most ways its more connected to the Gravediggaz than Gucci Mane.
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Mixtape Review-Produce vol. 1 by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
One of the uncomfortable conversations I will be forced to have with my son is how our generation turned Pop Music into a negative term for simple elitist gains. We snickered at chart topping hits and re-classified the ones we liked into other genres. Whoomp There It Is was pop music but surely Smells Like Teen Spirit wasn’t even though both were overexposed. As we got older the questions became too much. Was Buddy Holly Pop Music? If I hate Pop so much how come I know the lyrics to every Queen song? Any re-examination turned our group pretension into a fun-house mirror of distinction leaving one real apparent truth. Bottom line-we need our pop music.
Life is full of terrible things: uncomfortable talks on public transportation, dental appointments, embarrassing public school moments, interaction with comically ineffective authority figures that change the course of your life and you need happy music for some of that. When Dale Jr. Jr. decided to put out a mixtape following what I thought of as the best album of 2013(The Speed of Things) it threw some for a loop but made perfect sense to me. Listening to Jr. Jr. is like Tommy James and the Shondells laid lush pop classics over Gangstarr era Primo beats. As smooth and buoyant as their music is it always bangs with a hip hop car stereo flavor. The sixteen tracks that Produce Vol. 1 consists of are full of surprises however.
What sinks a lot of rockers hip hop mixtapes is trying to utilize it as an opportunity to assert some sort of toughness they don’t normally get to highlight. It ends up coming off like a mockery of the medium. Dale Jr. Jr. see it purely as a way to have fun in different ways like putting Biggie lyrics over the Beach Boys song I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times and getting sublime results(Beach Boy Biggie). The rappers pulled in for guest verses are expertly selected including names like King Chip, Chuck Inglish, Murs, and Asher Roth. Murs does an amazing job with his tale of love turned racial violence in Lover Lover Lover but the songs I love the most are the outlandishly danceable ones like the War Zone Goldenboyz remix or Jean Jacket Girl. It can be dismissed as cute but cute is valuable and if done properly can be brilliant.
Right from the first song (Old Friend From The Radio) Produce Vol. 1 aims for one goal-to be as fun as possible and it hits that target. With a beat that Pun would have loved Asher Roth spits crazy references(on Curtain Call) and you forget all the pre-text about his career and whether he sucks or not. The vocals are brilliantly sung over a background of clatter that shakes with countless elements jingling together in a kind of Muppet-like happy madness. It’s not supposed to be a cohesive artistic statement just a fun way to explore their style fully while showing datpiff kids who hadn’t heard of them what they bring to the table. It’s also great for waiting at the Dentists office.
Stream of Download Produce Vol. 1 below:
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Tagged Asher Roth, Biggie Smalls, Chuck Inglish, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., datpiff, King Chip, mixtape reviews, Murs, pop music, Produce Vol. 1, rock music, The Beach Boys
From The Inbox….
It’s not enough to be odd. A lot of the weakest submissions to our FME inbox have been people TRYING to be tough rappers or weird rappers. What strikes you at once about the duo from Bushwick (QuePac consists of Paco the Dopest Nerd and Que Cee) is that they don’t need to try on different identities. The first track is a squirrely mid tempo celebration of their mutual oddity (Freak Flag Fly) produced by July Quin.
Don’t worry about a slow build. The QuePac EP is a kinetic experience. Watch Out! deserves the exclamation point in its song title. Any song that features the line “They all childish, enough with the talk silence them, attack Paul Ryan with raw violent scientists,” is worth a few repeated listens. Tony Bella production gives the track a boom bap minimalism perfect to spit fire over.
Maybe kinetic isn’t a strong enough word for the full listening experience. Once you make your way through the drinking song Flask to the very Ah-ha Take On Me sounding Catfish, with a brilliantly sung chorus by Sharina Marisela, you get a steady head nod sitting on the stoop theme song in Rooftops. This is all a precursor to the bonus track (A.O. is a B_) which bubbles over with the same promising ferocity that seems to be the QuePac calling card. If Rooftops feels like the perfect zone out track the bonus track is its opposite. It’s so brutally personal beyond late rent and drug addiction to bad parenting accusations and late child support. The immediate discomfort it causes is a side-effect of the author’s vision. You’re transported into the middle of a tirade trying to cup your ears.
That power doesn’t make the QuePac EP a classic but it leaves you wondering what the heck these guys will put together in the future. I can’t wait.
Stream or Download the Quepac EP below:
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Tagged ep reviews, From The Inbox..., July Quin, mixtape reviews, NY Hip Hop, Paco the Dopest Nerd, Que Cee, Quepac, Quepac EP, Sharina Marisela, Tony Bella
Mixtape Review-Pulp Fiction by Miloh Smith
I always feel that the best mixtapes are made by people having fun. Even Hell Rell. A lot of them are free agents looking to get signed making music that they would like to hear. Even signed artists have less oversight to deal with on a free release project. In any sense the hardest mixtape to make is R&B: 1. if the beats start sounding the same its boring 2. if the content is too similar its boring 3. if everything is being sung the same way its boring. The best R&B mixtapes are little miracles born from a genre that in its modern form both takes itself too seriously and not serious enough.
Miloh Smith made an R&B mixtape called Pulp Fiction that not only uses that movie for a theme but starts with the first voice you hear being Freddie Mercury of Queen. Pulp Fiction pulls in so many different directions its amazing how comfortable the transitions are; from the sleek warning of Revolver to the noisier smirk of “Bad Muthaf*%$er Samuel Jackson” on VHS Tapes. What about Miloh rapping? Mr. Wallace is one of my favorite tracks of 2014, her verse, bouncing doubled vocal and that deeply engaging hypnotizing instrumental. She doesn’t take spitting any less seriously than singing. Wavy Wallace deserves a lot of credit for perfect production pitch on both VHS Tapes and Mr. Wallace.
How weird is Pulp Fiction? Both Walt Live and Go! Ricky! Go! Of the indescribably weird Indeed show up. Miloh has a vision for what this should all sound like. The tracks twinkle and glimmer under her pristine vocals and gentle chords but after she sings her @$$ off on Starz she starts talking about how she used to work at Directtv and now she’s going on twitter and asking for someone’s Netflix username and password. It’s jarring but it doesn’t take you out of the song. If you trust the vision you can get stuck in the loop of infinitely listenable songs like Intexication that sits you right in front of the narrator as she stews in inebriation with nothing but her phone and contacts to keep her entertained. You get a vicious verse from Miloh and Cyhi The Prynce that fit well enough together to be the lead single on Church, marvelously manipulated hand claps by Jordan Ware on Come Alive.
It’s so easy to downplay a great project, or play it up for the wrong reasons. I’m not making the case that Pulp Fiction is great because of how many times it doesn’t fail(not failing is a great start though). The sense of joyful experimentation runs the whole twelve tracks. It’s the hard work that makes all the musical moments hit as well as they do, that keeps me listening to it again and again even when I have other things to listen too. She celebrates a love of hip hop just as much as she does R&B to the point where the two don’t seem separate at all. Different bunk beds same room. The experimentation smiles at you from afar with the artistic confidence to know a win.
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