Song Review-10 Piece by Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa produced by Dame Grease

 

Song Review-10 Piece by Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa produced by Dame Grease

by Dan-O

The mixtape era taught artists how to sell themselves post-music industry collapse. When Wiz & Curren$y dropped How Fly they outlined their rap and lifestyle values without any A & R influence or board meetings to approve. They sent it right to us. The duo were all about girls, video games, weed, laughing, loyalty and not a lot of unnecessary stuff outside of it.

I’m glad they got together to break bread over fabulous production and check in on where they are. Curren$y says “We control the town from the couch.” Wiz says “Now we fathers, know that God got us.” I think reviews will come in saying the project is fine. Both of these guys are prolific and that bores reviewers but they have amazing chemistry and share values that trace back to Snoop. They would always prefer to be peaceful. Wiz even ends the song warning that gang life isn’t “the vibe”. On top of that they are growing older and not hiding it. They wear their collective maturity as an honor like old gunfighters who have survived terrible upheaval.

It is deeper than album of the year considerations. These guys left an imprint on the world of hip hop and I’m not sure we take enough time out of our day to think about it. The old heads know both of these dudes can SPIT so they get feature requests from the very best. The new kids know these guys have been successful over a long period and seek to know to understand how. Listen to 2009 you’ll get closer. Along the way you get to enjoy two great technicians.

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#Bandcampgold-New Breed by Dawn

#Bandcampgold-New Breed by Dawn

by Dan-O

I am strangely protective of Dawn Richard place in music. I have never heard a Danity Kane song and really only got into her when she took her career by the horns solo. In casual conversation I frequently tell people she is MY Beyonce. Her dedication to dance pop is unwavering with sonic landscapes and giant sized hooks that fill every inch of space. It makes me very hostile when her newest album New Breed is not spoken about favorably. I think it is the best album of 2019 as of this date.

When I was growing up a lot of us thought dance pop was kind of dumb. Post-Ray of Light the genre moved to a template that was slick and impersonal. As a youngster I was always chasing music with individuality stamped into it. It didn’t have to be smart. Curren$y could brag about sipping a pineapple mojito as the sun sets in Milan and I was glued to the speakers. This is what New Breed gives me that makes it untouchable.

Dawn has given us ten songs about personhood. The intro (The Nine) is masterful as the first line introduces us to the street she lived on growing up showing us her watching My So-Called Life hanging out with friends. It’s only a minute and twenty four seconds with powerful vocal backing creating a chant about childhood that sets the pace for the album. The third song (Spaces) opens with her speaking to us about losing that foundation as she moved up in the ritzy circles.  Everything moves and thumps as her voice shows almost unknowable form. Every second matters. The end of the song trails into a clip celebrating New Orleans. Then we get Dreams And Converse which is my favorite song of the year so far. It has bounce that she irons out into creases. Dawn can pump out dance bangers that are more fun than anyone else’s and over time as you think about them they mean more. This song is about strapping up to find your dreams. When she says “I think we should be reckless baby, don’t care if they notice, live life on the surface,” she is laying it out. Fear no ones judgement and let this music help you in that effort.

This is the paragraph where I say she hates Diddy because he ripped her off. She covers this on Vultures/Wolves. To be honest, other people care way more about that than I do. We all kind of hate/respect Diddy (loved him in Get Him To The Greek!) but we understand he is likely terrible to work for/be around. If he wasn’t, G. Dep and Carl Thomas wouldn’t have gotten used like napkins. So if you ever hear anyone who worked first hand with Diddy dissing the socks off him just nod knowingly and respect it. Take in Dawn’s Wolves and don’t feel like you need a special take, she ain’t lying.

The other favorite song I keep coming back to (besides Dreams and Converse) is Sauce. I love that the term sauce is catching fire in hip hop lingo. Flavor is so personal and Hip Hop/R & B allows flavor to shine so you can listen to Migos or Saba and its yours. You don’t have to taste any flavor you don’t like. Find your sauce. Dawn kicks down the door of the song with the opening line as the sample moans and song crackles with analog fuzz she says “It’s the weekend and I’m looking forward to you coming in more ways than you hoppin’ in your car to come and see me believe me.” She cleans her home and puts on his favorite panties. An erotic song is only really good if it makes me feel uncomfortable. This is Janet level seduction, talking about dirty sheets in a hush tone that doesn’t try hard just imposes plans. All the while the 808’s chop and the sample moans. The world of that song expands every time you hear it.

Maybe they think the reclaiming of personhood is corny. Maybe they hate her spoken word on the opening of We, Diamonds. Maybe they remember her as the Danity Kane girl and just don’t study that hard. None of it matters. My favorite flavor doesn’t have to impress opposing pallets. I just wish they could get out of it what I do.

Stream or download New Breed below:

https://dawnrichard.bandcamp.com/album/new-breed

 

 

Mixtape Review-#TDT by Big K.R.I.T.

Mixtape Review-#TDT by Big K.R.I.T.

by Dan-O

I would love to talk to Drake. When he went on Lebron James HBO show The Shop he was asked about the legacy of a truly great artist namely how to assess the ups and downs. The point he made has stuck with me, for Drake, a great artist is not defined by the consistency of output but their ability to navigate the extremes of success and failure. That’s what makes a great story. The great stories are what we remember and they cannot be triumphant all the way through to be interesting. I respect the argument it is eloquent but I strongly disagree.

The new mixtape from Big K.R.I.T. called #TDT would be the key to my counterargument. As a consumer, I love stories but I HATE wasting money. When a top tier artist completely flips what they are good at and go out on a limb…it better work out because I’m paying for the dalliance. I am not a rapper but I pay rappers for their music. I go to shows, I buy shirts, physical albums and purchase MP3 albums. My top tier artist is one I can pre-order without the faintest trace of concern, knowing they will deliver on whatever the cost is.

K.R.I.T. has a discography I can just throw on from any point in his career. He’s consistent and developing at the same time. His best album is always his last one. Dude invented his own sound. Every write up will talk about his debt to UGK (he does have a song called Learned From Texas on #TDT) but he didn’t jack the Pimp C sonics. He took the thump and drizzled blues all over it, soaked it in gospel. The first song (Energy) feels like an anthem but doesn’t crank at eleven like you’d expect an anthem to. Super soulful background singing and humming don’t counter the bass but work in tandem to create a car speaker paradise. No matter which K.R.I.T. song you put on it will sound great because he knows what K.R.I.T. sounds like. That has never been good enough for him.

#TDT is a primer for songs that are going to sound great live. Pick Yourself Up, Energy, Learned From Texas all have overpowering hooks and high energy verses. I’ve seen K.R.I.T. live and he is exciting. He has also improved lyrically by drastic lengths since he broke to the world on Krit Wuz Here. Glorious is devastating flow, gritted teeth, determination music. It’s about being free of Def Jam and being asked how it feels to be indy now. I’m sure the twisted part is he’s felt independent the whole time. He broke on mixtapes he produced wrote and performed HIMSELF. Got signed to Def Jam and no one in the building knew how to sell a dude from Mississippi. He stayed current through his own grind and stepping his game up (Mt. Olympus). The only relatable comparison people had for him was David Banner and I’m sure he was asked if he was like David Banner….nope. Nobody is like David Banner (both are great producers though).

1 Oh Oh is a stupendous relationship song. K.R.I.T. knows how to dialogue with a female audience without shaming them or making it narcissistic. Don’t ask me why I think K.R.I.T. is a top three MC and others don’t. You know the answer. His drawl is too southern for a pop audience that still has a lot of dickish opinions about Southern folks. They want their Southern rappers a bit foolish: shirt off and goofing. K.R.I.T. isn’t breaking down society like Kendrick he’s not NPR analysis fodder but he’s not just turning up. He’s a professionals professional like Sonny Rollins out grinding, discovering new levels of his saxophone, after all these decades. Those dudes mean more to me than the drama of the comeback.

Stream or download #TDT below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Big-KRIT-TDT-mixtape.923730.html

 

 

#BandcampGold- Malibu Ken by Malibu Ken (Aesop Rock & Tobacco)

#BandcampGold- Malibu Ken by Malibu Ken (Aesop Rock & Tobacco)

by Dan-O

It is pretty unreal how the narrative around Aesop Rock has changed. When Bazooka Tooth was taking the underground by storm in 2003 the debate was heated. On one side the die-hards were unrelenting in their belief that NO ONE equals his mastery of the microphone and thesaurus. On the other side(where I was) how could this guy be the GOD MC if you can’t explain what these songs are about?! This Eraserhead music is full of energy and effort but I don’t know what it means at all.  Even the hardest die-hards had to admit it was a problem that they got lost and it was an uphill battle to find your way to the point of it all.

The change has been monumental. Something happened in the five years between None Shall Pass and Skelethon. The latter was the first of his albums I listened to multiple times with no stress. Between Skelethon and the Lice trilogy he did with Homeboy Sandman he developed incredible old man game. He was funnier, more human, the metaphors were three dimensional instead of six dimensional. The Impossible Kid in 2016 was by far his most personal and my favorite album he’s ever made. At that point, I was on the phone with friends who had disliked AR for years talking about how good he is now; chatting it up with die-hard Bazooka Tooth kids and just nodding as they take a verbal victory lap.

Malibu Ken is exactly what January of 2019 needed.  All the production is handled by Black Moth Super Rainbow also known as Tobacco. A lot of MC’s couldn’t hang over these very strange synth patterns, overwhelming sounds jump in and out all while AR finds his flow in it. You can call this Boom Bap because it has both of those but it is way weirder. The beginning and end of Sword Box is an avalanche of Synth conducted by the master. Acid King sounds like the soundtrack to a video game where everyone dies (which fits the subject matter).

My favorite lyrical achievement is Tuesday where the first line is “There’s something you should probably know before we go too far. My neighbor found a mushroom growing inside of my car.” Underground legends have to tour a disgusting percentage of their days which doesn’t leave them time for a real life. At one point he says “I would offer you a drink but I literally can’t.” At two minutes and twenty three seconds he goes H.A.M. on himself “I can’t even keep a cactus alive when I’m present. When I’m gone it’s a groundbreaking botanical epic. From desolate to Little Shop of Horrors in a second. It’s weird knowing life thrives more when you exit.” What fans don’t realize is that the boring life ish we balance takes skill and if you did achieve your dream, perform in other countries, do your art…you’d become terrible at that boring life ish you took for granted. Very few rappers are honest enough to approach this as a topic.

On top of this self-analysis on Suicide Big Gulp he still manages to brag about slapping planes out of the sky paying the rent in pennies. Other rappers in his age group have fallen so deeply into their patterns they’ve bored themselves into a slumber. What’s kept AR so vital is his need to do something different. Whether it’s collaborate with a new producer or fellow MC or get personal about mental health or be funny. It’s not that deep anymore. Dude hates being bored and fights it tooth and nail. Over time I think we all learned how to respect that.

Stream or purchase Malibu Ken below:

https://aesoprock.bandcamp.com/album/malibu-ken

Five Song Guide to Weird Prince Music

Five Song Guide to Weird Prince Music

by Dan-O

Everybody loves Prince. I am not gonna waste full sentences telling you what makes 1999 or Purple Rain great. That is on you to figure out. One of the great things about Prince is how much crazy stuff he has out there and how darn good it is. All of the songs below are from albums far outside his “best album” discussion. All of these songs (in my eyes) are as good as any of his best work. He was an artist with a lot of dimension and I hope if you hear any of these for the first time it helps you get closer to how much of a unicorn this dude was.

Cherry, Cherry from Exodus

Exodus from 1995 is a big sloppy funk album by the New Power Generation that is not for everyone. It is definitely for me.   Exodus is messier than other Prince albums, it is thick with horns and bass in the way peak Parliament is. Prince knew how to make his work digestible; to teach a funkless white audience how the genre worked. By doing that he spent a lot of time grooving at 70% of his powers. Exodus gives him the chance to concoct overpowering funk. Get Wild is loud and very Digital Underground. Cherry, Cherry is the masterpiece for me. It feels like it could have been on Purple Rain as a bonus cut but it’s him years later. This song is timeless in how it takes that glimmering preciousness adds finger snaps, basketball, and maintains the real feeling of starry eyed romantic connection.

Don’t Play Me from The Truth

You’ve heard the stories about how much of a talent Prince was with the playing of multiple instruments. He was such a good composer it’s hard to isolate his talent on any given instrument. Prince was too much of a mastermind to flex outside the needs of the song. Best place to really get in touch with the ability he had on lead is an acoustic guitar album called The Truth. It is one of my favorite Prince albums PERIOD. The warmth and precision of his guitar work is miraculous but just as fly and once a generation is the swagger he has along with that ability. He brags about being over 30 speaking proper English and not smoking weed. This song is about being grown and past foolish things. That moment when he says “Don’t play me I already do that in my car,” is the illest brag a pop star ever made. Most people do acoustic albums to spill their feelings. Prince is Prince no matter what the form. His formula is too perfect to change.

Black Sweat from 3121

Its criminal how the listening audience turned away from Prince in the mid to late 90’s and on. 3121 is an album from 2006 and It is one of his best. Black Sweat in particular is one of the top five nastiest funk songs he ever constructed. My face screws up every time it starts. The hook is incredible, the drums are next level. You should listen to this song but you should make sure you have nice headphones. If you don’t then take it to the car; trust me.

A Case Of U from One Nite Alone…

I might sound whiny about the left behind music hanging around one of music’s most important careers but I am not mad at anyone. Prince was so productive he buried treasure all over the map. I love Joni Mitchell A LOT. I don’t love her like Prince did. He pulls A Case Of U from Joni’s most pulverizing and vulnerable album Blue from 1971.  Prince lets his voice tip toe through the emotional vulnerability and stand to declare strength the way she always did. He gets the mixture. Throughout One Night Alone… his piano work is staggering. His sense of time is exact on a mechanized level. You can listen to him play piano and guitar (on The Truth) so well you’d think he was an artificial intelligence robot sent from the future to teach us music. Add to that how intuitive his song selection musical vision and vocal tone  is and it is an eye opening listen.

Paisley Park from Around The World In A Day

Prince loved Stevie Wonder but he loved Joni Mitchell just as much. He was very influenced by the psychedelic music of the 1960’s. Around The World In A Day is an exploration of the spirit brought on music by The Beatles and others. The reason it doesn’t get much love outside of Raspberry Beret is its placement as follow up album to Purple Rain. No one expected an exploration of psychedelia following a world dominating classic. Wouldn’t you just do that again?! You would. Prince wouldn’t. Outside of all that contextual jibber jabber Paisley Park is a hypnotic song. His vocals float above the hammering drum machine and the characters he etches go through sadness, forgiveness, and growth. He cares about everyone he mentions and paints them like Renoir watching dancing couples. All the colors are bright and lustrous.

Most of these songs and albums mentioned are on your basic streaming services but Exodus could be tough.  Here is a youtube link for the album in case.

 

Mixtape Review-Savage Holidays by Boosie Badazz

Mixtape Review-Savage Holidays by Boosie Badazz

by Dan-O

Savage Holidays is the greatest Christmas rap album of all time. The ability of Boosie to be able to take his superpower (turning painful stories/imagery into stadium sized anthems) and apply it to the holiday season is nothing short of exhilarating. It is not just his pain either. At the end of the title track he directly inhabits the perspective of his Chicago audience and wears their distress “he was finally F*&$in’ shinin’ man that N_ he was bossin’ last year he was rappin’ this year he in a coffin.” The whole project is dedicated to the frustration and terror of being alive in 2019. It is as if Boosie spends his career dissatisfied that the rap world pretends everything is going so well when they know the truth is harrowing.

Death stomps through Savage Holidays leaving deep footprints. Santa Claus of The Ghetto builds up the dope boy as someone who gives back to the community, shines so the poor kids can dream to be as wealthy but the chorus begs for him to stay free as long as possible. Prison or death can take the dope boy away in the wrong swirl of a moment and Boosie makes sure his chorus is pleading, the song feels like it is from a ghetto kids perspective not his. It’s high level writing.

On Christmas List YFN Lucci talks about robbing for PJ Masks, Rich Homie Quan talks about getting drugs in his stocking but the first line Boosie says in his verse is “I just want to be with my family for Christmas.” He spits it as hard as any threat he’s ever hurled; levels it at the loneliness he explores without applying branding tactics to humblebrag package it.

Boosie is not all soul bearing, his sexual appetite is pervasive throughout his work and he certainly pushes forward with that on Savage Holidays.  Pussy Got Me Like is dick-on-ya-buttcheeks straightforward and leads into Cold Outside which is significantly less creepy than Baby It’s Cold Outside. He’s clear within the song that he wants to smoke up, laugh, hang out and have lots of sex which seems like a more balanced relationship than the original version. While some will say ending the song with a call for his female audience to twerk is less distinguished than the original I think it is distinctly more honest.

If you are concerned about offensive things than yes, temper your expectations. Boosie is as full of offensive thoughts as he is meaningful introspection and empathy. This project has a song called The Bitch Who Stole Christmas about the time honored seduction as robbery one-two punch. He is livid and shouts the details as if it happened minutes ago and the beat is haunting. My favorite song is This Christmas where his anger tires and over a scratchy guitar he mumbles about letting his people down, going to prison. He uses his voice as an instrument extending words and singing in a way that tortures the melody. The chorus is “This Christmas won’t be like the others. Bells will still be ringin’ children still be singin’ but things won’t be the same at all. I done let my people down, prison walls they closin’ in. Try my best to shed no tears but they fall when holidays are here. This Christmas…” Can you imagine how many people are spending Christmas with these feelings (especially in a country that adores locking people up)? With this pain? Now imagine having Boosie give you and your family this soundtrack. What kind of fan loyalty would you have at that point? That is how Boosie can remain so foundationally strong while never popping up in the trivial hip hop trends. He works from a base that needs him more than they need anyone else.

Stream or download Savage Holidays below:

https://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/48920/boosie-badazz-savage-holidays.html

Do Not Let 2018 Go By Without Hearing These Albums

Do Not Let 2018 Go By Without Hearing These Albums

by Dan-O

Niko Is- Uniko

It’s crazy to think I’ve been growing alongside Niko Is for at least six years. When I found him I had just gotten into Brazilian Soul & Salsa music. The combination of that with bread and butter boom bap basslines all provided by his partner behind the boards Thanks Joey (Joey Creates) really drew me in. On top of that Niko Is happens to be a twisted dude. One of these guys who can rap for hours off the top of his head because within his head is chaos. On this album alone he claims to get his rhymes from a Ouija Board and to be the  Raoul Duke of the rap game. Look up Raoul Duke and you’ll understand Niko Is a lot better. He’s a trip.

Turns out he made a video that articulates how weird he is.

 

Uniko is a coming together of everything the two have learned. Joey has figured out how to take seventeen songs and link the songs so that the transition from Meet Me In The Future to Silk is a gentle glide. He still gets to utilize different moods No Sleep and 3rd World $$$ are semi-traditional rap beats while Mental Abstracto Interlude is Congas, wind instruments, and dolphin sounds. My favorite moment is U Could Be My Gal which my wife asked me to change when I played it in the car. I defended the song by ranting about how, for a hitting on you song, it was positively hypnotizing. She held my gaze and said “It’s great and it is hypnotizing that’s why I need it not playing while I drive.”

The growth for our emcee is not strictly bar to bar. He’s always been a talent; he goes with Talib Kweli to do interviews and busts impressive freestyles all over the hip hop landscape. That is his life’s work. What he’s been able to do in Uniko is make better use of the sonic pace. He lets tracks breathe in the right places, let’s his guests take the stage, knowing he will have more than enough time to monster out on songs. One of the songs he does this on is Focused Maaan where he says “I’m from the old generation where we base it on our own creation.” Very few people love hip hop more and Niko Is knows that while other rappers will get hotter quicker than him he’s got a life in this world. Look at the two biggest name features(I do not count Kweli because that relationship is established) on Uniko: Styles P and Curren$y both known for consistent lyrical content over a long period of time, not gamblers but craftsman. I’m so happy Kweli has put him in the position to share rooms with these cats. He deserves it.

Kodie Shane-Young Heartthrob

The worst thing to be in rap is the present. Ask Kirk Knight. He’s an incredibly talented NY rapper who released an album named liwii that sounded perfectly 2018 but guess what…I’ve got 2018 up to my ears. In rap you are better off sounding like the past or the future. If you can take the mental image people have of what they loved about the genre and give it to them twisted with new elements you have a place. If you go the other way and sound like the evolution of what will happen you’re in an equally good spot. Kodie Shane’s Young Heartthrob album is the future.

I’ve been calling Young Heartthrob lesbian player music for shorthand’s sake. Shane has worked hard on breaking down the formal walls around hip hop song structure. The separation between chorus and verse is fuzzy because she is very nimble when stepping between singing and rapping and imminently capable of mixing the two. Her duet with Trippie Redd makes perfect sense and really plays into the best skills both possess.

New school production with 808’s popping, slick singing and mostly clean verses despite an F word here and there. I put this album on while my five year old son and I played basketball. We both had fun and before I knew it we were most of the way through the album. I can play Young Heartthrob around anyone and they just get it. Kodie Shane presents an incredibly easy listen that never attempts to impress you with sharp edges. It has real stand out songs like Sing To Her, Flex On Me, Love & Drugz II my hunch is that while she might not get a ton of press people are studying this sound and a year or two from now someone will dominate the charts doing a whack variation of what makes Young Heartthrob great. It won’t put a dent on the bright future Shane has.

Check out the future

Locksmith-Ali

Locksmith would be my runner up lyricist of 2018. His album No Question with Apollo Brown was something I came back to over and over again when big name projects proved plastic. Locksmith guts himself every time he puts pen to paper. That’s actually not accurate. Locksmith’s pen is a grenade that blows everything wide open. He might take himself to task for a previously homophobic state of mind, he might take the genre to task for whining about Kanye but still copping his album, or he might take on celebrity culture, poverty, the whole world can get it.

He pours himself into his second album of 2018 Ali which lets him utilize his speedbag angry flow as a way to stay ahead of his even more hostile mind. I don’t want to give the impression that he is the Lewis Black of rap, he understands pace and mood. The song Tense even flirts with singing but even more importantly it allows him travel inside himself in front of us in a sober serious way. “…I thought love was acceptance. I thought cutting you off was protection. I thought being alone was being strong and never needing a hand was being more of a man, I regret that then.” In a gender study sense Locksmith is a very hard-nosed heterosexual man who is acutely aware of what that macho perspective has cost him.

Every song is dense with meaningful discussion. Everyone should hear Prison to help understand the world better. No Lies is such an amazing song about America. I feel incomplete reviewing Locksmith because to do it accurately I would have to use all my strength to dig out every corner of what he’s saying and then drop it on you. That’s the only way I could match his effort.

Click below and you will know and knowing is half the battle