#Bandcampgold-Nina Simone & Lauryn Hill-The Miseducation of Eunice Waymon by Amerigo Gazaway
I’ve written so much about how great Amerigo Gazaway is and monologued at people about him so often that finding new great things to say will be a challenge. It’s like finding new ways to tell your wife how special she is after fifteen years. Giving it a shot: Gazaway has always been brilliant at taking two artists and weaving their work together one modern hip hop giant and another older soul head the difference this time his mission is more apparent. You can see in the title what you get from the listen, he is using Lauryn Hill to teach Nina Simone. I think you can learn more about Nina’s work from The Miseducation of Eunice Waymon than you can from any documentary (I’m not even going to talk about that movie) about her. Nina like Marvin and Stevie before are focuses for Gazaway because they are the source of all the samples. Dj’s and producers understand how deeply dope Nina was but does the average listener? Nope. They just sing along to the loop.
You should know more than the documentaries will tell you. She was a tortured soul but that’s not enough. She could squeal coo bellow and breathe life into a corny old song like Cherish. You can hear her do this in the background of To Zion as Lauryn takes the verses she is somewhere in the background living emotionally through a reverberating hum. She could find pain in her music, yup. More importantly she could find delicacy and delight just as extreme as her heartbreak. Listen to Nina on the opening of The Sweetest Thing. She makes so much of each moment we have with her. Gazaway instructs us to admire how gallantly finite she always feels.
The project is full of the best skits where Nina talks about very important parts of who she is. In one, she talks about how kids didn’t want to play with her they just asked her to play a song. Another skit talks about the duty she had to protest music for the betterment of her people. Putting all the skits together it’s a maddening position. To be isolated from your people yet completely dedicated to finding justice for them. What an incredibly American journey.
Another plus for me on this project is hearing peak Lauryn like I haven’t in a long time. Full disclosure: old Wyclef production on those Fugees albums doesn’t hold up for me. I don’t listen to them a lot. On Take It Easy I’m able to hear Lauryn spit and Nina kills it, the horns are great. Fu-Gee-La was a great song originally but I love this version so much better.
I’m not a music guy so I’m not sitting back wondering where he got these stems from. I’m so happy to have Gazaway as a dope college professor teaching me the depths of a subject I dearly love. It doesn’t matter how you feel about either of these artists or how you imagine this will sound. You’re wrong. it is way crazier. Press play.
Stream or download The Miseducation of Eunice Waymon below:
Song of The Year-Westbrook by J.I.D. featuring A$AP FERG produced by Christo
It’s exciting when a new voice comes into full bloom for the public. In March of 2017 when J.I.D. put out his album The Never Story the underground publications sang about it and didn’t stop until the end of the year. It was that dope indy film that didn’t have the budget to be as deeply entrenched in the culture as it was. What I love most about J.I.D. is that he got that bubble up and decided his next project needed to ratchet up the effort/efficiency/entertainment value. He’s a clutch player. Dicaprio 2 is so good that at times it feels like being trapped. Despacito Too and Mounted Up have smash mouth minimal production feels so as to leave you face to face with the man mountain of syllables (feel free to spread this description of his ability). When he has help he’s superb. Whether it is Bj The Chicago Kid, 6lack or Method Man he finds enough space to sacrifice for his guest and they shine.
A single line from a single verse really messed me up. That is on my favorite song from Dicaprio 2, Westbrook. The beat chimes like Christmas then stomps your speakers as Ferg brings perfect sneering energy on the hook but at a little over halfway through the song J.I.D. says
Live life like a baby that was dead at birth
But came alive and f—ed the nurses
Throughout the verse he is chuckling to himself just plunging into the depths of his sick mind and dumping it out. I can’t lie I was very excited by how deeply inappropriate this is. This is a hip hop thing connected to the feeling NY had when Nas claimed he went to hell for snuffing Jesus. We weren’t excited to see smug old Jesus finally get his it was the discovery of a new voice, a new mind we can connect to who might be weirder than anyone we know. Similarly, no unringing this bell; this kid got Joey Bad@$$ and Meth together and wrecked it next to both of them. You can read other reviews to hear where he’s from what his social media footprint is like. I’m old and not going to waste space. I just want to pull up a chair and watch the young man spin this cadence till the whole world rings with it. Dicaprio 2 feels like being trapped in a place your body won’t let you leave.
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Tagged 6lack, A$AP Ferg, Atlanta hip hop, Bj The Chicago Kid, Christo, Dicaprio 2, Dreamville, J Cole, J.I.D., Method Man, Nas, song of the year, The Never Story
#Bandcampgold-Resistance by Brandon Coleman
Albums have hearts and souls. I need all of them. My favorite Freddie Gibbs album is ESGN because he was so angry at Jeezy and his old label for mismanaging him that his mind was spiraling down the most angry heinous pathways possible and some days I’m there with him. That album has a heart for the worst days. Resistance has the opposite heart. It has love and joy and funk. It makes my five year old and my wife dance together. When the horns start on the song Sexy and the bass drops my family loses it.
I didn’t know about this album until I went to see Kamasi Washington live. Coleman is his pianist and Kamasi stepped back so he could launch into his lush composition Walk Free. It has the soul of a Donny Hathaway love song with gentle instrumental touches and admirable composition. I vowed that the next wifi connection found would bring me to his album!
The kids say things like “It’s a mood” and sound creepy to me but this album is one. Brandon Coleman does his Roger Troutman thing through the talk box but he doesn’t lean on it. It’s not a shtick. He’s written real songs that are well formed and funky which leaves the Vocoder as an additive you forget about after a while. While Sexy is funky and lets loose it is followed by There’s No Turning Back which is its equal in glimmering smooth horizontal excellence. It glides by at two minutes and twenty seconds leading into the title track which is even shorter (one minute and fifty one seconds).
This is where I confess that you’re not me and you may not have the same taste. Coleman is part of that West Coast jazz contingent with Kamasi (same folks worked on To Pimp A Butterfly with Kendrick). His influences are people I LOVE LOVE LOVE from Freddie Hubbard to Troutman to George Clinton to Dre to Quik. I am a die hard West Coast sound guy and nothing is funkier than Addiction (with killer guest work from Sheera). These songs slap and groove while maintaining a high IQ in musical execution. Most people would have made a song like Love the somber/poignant come down in the album but he turned it up, made it bounce like a pop song so that the concept can taste as good to your ears as it should to your heart; as it should to your everyday interactions. This is my kind of dude so Resistance is my kind of album. The boldest protest made by it is the earned smile it wears while playing in this world of ghastly madness. I wonder if Stevie Wonder has heard this album?
Stream or buy Resistance below:
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Tagged #BandcampGold, #ESGN, Bandcamp, Brandon Coleman, Freddie Gibbs, funk, George Clinton, Jeezy, Kamasi Washington, Resistance, Roger Troutman, Soul
#Bandcampgold-Malik Ruff by Quadry
Malik Ruff is an album I really like. I don’t have it numerically placed on my list of year end albums yet (it just came out November 2nd) but I really like it. The project washes over you. It balances a distinct ambiance that soaks your sonic pace and tempo with a real balanced perspective. Quadry gives us the joy of New Orleans bounce (he’s from Baton Rouge) on Louis and Pirelli. Both songs gives us permission to rock back and throw our head bop into high gear. Louis relies on the fun of yelling out “2!” which is very fun but Pirelli provides a distorted vocal bridge and lyrics upon lyrics. The song is a real talent showcase. Hot Headed is even better lyrically tackling political mayhem and how it causes our depression. The ambiance I referenced is like a mixture of Organized Noize and Tribe Called Quest. A lot of these songs don’t trample forward but thump at a beautiful pace. 1:04 PM is a great example, produced by Steve Lacy of The Internet, it is a tight song rich with guitar and a great chorus. His smoking and drinking and having fun takes place alongside his rumination about life and depression.
Malik Ruff does me the great service of never demanding I skip a song. Everything is perfectly placed and while I don’t recognize any of the guests featured (BoyBoy, Tev’n ,Anjelihs, Ida’ye, Black Party, Teo Halm) none of them bring weed carrier energy to the project. Everyone is here for a reason. It has snarling attack-the-night music (24/7) and very personal thoughtful material (Wesley ‘For My Son’). I bought this album halfway through the first listen. I just need it with me on days when I don’t feel hype or savage or maudlin or reflective but twenty five percent of each. Dudes like this don’t break enormous. They become Big K.R.I.T., a respected cult leader of music that just sounds different, a hushed name thrown out in response to “Who could possibly be as good as (insert pop rap superstar)!? ”
Stream or purchase Malik Ruff below:
Sample Snitch-Drake’s Secret Weapon
Hypothetical scenario: you step into my sight with a twelve gauge pump action Mossberg shotgun and tell me I have five seconds to name the best Drake song; doesn’t take me three. The answer is Jungle from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. I have heard everything he has done and haven’t heard anything crystalized as beautiful and pure. A lot of it rests in that hook.
I was reading youtube comments that referenced a name on the song I hadn’t heard of. Gabriel Garzon-Montano was credited with the hook and I thought to myself maybe this is some Fania records salsa guy from the 70’s……nope. Born in 1989 signed to Stones Throw Records. I’ve seen him described as a multi-instrumentalist which is what they describe you as when the music falls in that weird ravine between soul and funk that confuses people. Not only is the hook COMPLETELY his but the chorus is sampled from his song 6 8 which is so much more sonically interesting.
Drake uses the sample as well as you could hope. His emphatic “are we still good, are we still gooood” and “This $h_T is everything” add a lot, he sways along with the song very mad that his love interest is on social media (this is a big theme of the album and latter Drake as he does not trust women he’s with to navigate social media). It is a song full of silly complaints like OH NO SHE SWITCHED MAJORS! The sampled hook and the pure slap that backs it up gives weight to them, keeps them from floating off into the manchild complaint zone a lot of Drake content lives.
Gabriel Garzon-Montano is the real deal. 6 8 starts with a stampede of drums and the lush lilt of his voice nailing the chorus followed by the piano which comes in as he coos. The hook from Jungle is repeated as it morphs and resituates in the foreground as the background evolves. The snippet 40 pulls for Drake is about three minutes and twenty seconds in. It turns out Jungle is 40’s greatest achievement; he found the perfect sample that includes the best sonic accompaniment for it. He just mirrored that and kicked in jungle sound effects at the right time while giving Drake the space to spice it up. Shout out to Drake’s secret weapon Noah “40” Shebib for keeping his ears to the underground. Shout out to Gabriel-Garzon Montano who I have been listening to non-stop since I found 6 8 and the rest of his catalog.
When you talk about how dominant Drake is know that you are talking about 40 as well. The same way when you talk about Sade you’re not talking about a lady, it’s a band.
Check the Drake version
Song of The Year-Roll Call by Leikeli47
I play Leikeli47 a lot and my family does not mind. She produces all her own stuff and last year’s album Wash & Set stays solidly in the rotation. The excitement in her flow and in the dynamic dirty bounce she concocts makes it so you don’t lose enjoyment as the song becomes known to you. No matter how often you re-listen the beat still dominates the stereo, the hook becomes more and more infectious as you give yourself permission to sing-a-long. This aspect of her music is what reminds me of Missy Elliott; the conscious effort to push the pace while not sacrificing lyrical space.
The fascinating and very well done HBO show Insecure has used multiple Leikeli47 songs to soundtrack black female perspective. It makes sense if you listen to Roll Call. Leikeli47 knows drums like few in the world do while carrying the versatility to switch flows into a few different speeds. The guitar at two minutes thirty six seconds into it, the weird grunt, all of it is so much fun. On top of that, Leikeli47 is not asking permission to be taken seriously as a female MC in 2018. She just keeps burning down tracks with her trademark ski mask on. I loved Wash & Set, didn’t have a bad song so I bought her first album. Loved all of it and at that point I had a name on the tip of my tongue whenever anyone asked me who was new weird and hot. Here is to hoping people watching HBO are doing some googling.
Hip Hop History: Never Forget Donald Goines Has an Album
Donald Goines is one of my all-time literary heroes. He applied Shakespearean tragedy to the hood characters I was getting to know through Rap music and instead of lauding them he proved the street eats its babies. He left no one winning and every sentence exciting. He was the first author after I left high school I started reading on my own.
While enlisted in the Air Force Goines developed a heroin habit that stayed with him until he was murdered in his home in 1974. The heroin changed his course leading him to a life of crime: pimping, robbing, gambling all to support his addiction. By the time he went to prison he would write all morning and do heroin all night. His books showed empathy for all characters. He was an author who cared about the internal life of the white jailer in White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief and the hitman’s daughter in Daddy Cool. He was able to present crime and poverty as an ecosystem where no gunshot rings without consequence. Reading him grew me emotionally for that reason. I am not alone.
The whole reason I knew his name was because of rap music. While literature failed to acknowledge Goines every prison library was stocked with his sixteen novels. Every rapper had Goines references from 2pac Jay-Z to Jadakiss. The love affair went so deep that in 1999 a soundtrack to the book Black Gangster was put together for the express purpose of getting interest up for a movie. The soundtrack does have names you’ve never heard of: Kasual, Killa, Ghetto Mafia. That happens on any hip hop soundtrack but it has peak performances by Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Freddie Foxxx, Mac Dre, DMX, and Jay-z.
As a forgotten piece of history it is perfectly hip hop. The only man that could get 50 Cent and Ja Rule on his album is Donald Goines. The only book with a soundtrack and not a movie is Black Gangster. Goines badly wanted his books optioned into movies and this 1972 novel even more so. It is giant sized in scope and epic in execution. One of my favorite books brought the best out of some of my favorite MC’s. S.Carter era Jay has the ability to shake you to your core with the simplicity of a single line on This Life Forever: “Let’s face it. Either ya dough chasin’ or basin’. “Mac Dre comes onto Give It Up like a lion fully aware that his music is so oddly versatile it will never seem dated or antiquated the way Ja Rule does on Represent. DMX feels the most connection to Goines and the wounded nature of his literary universe. He doesn’t bark violence he whispers it on The Story. He got the only Goines movie made from a book, Never Die Alone (which I saw in the theater). Like the book it is a mixed bag but a lot of effort was put into the lead performance. X gives it all and that’s what Donald would have wanted.
This Life Forever
Give It Up
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Tagged Black Gangster, Black Gangster Soundtrack, DMX, Donald Goines, Give It Up, hip hop, hip hop history, Ja Rule, Jay-Z, reviews, The Story, This Life Forever