Category Archives: Uncategorized

Three Big Winners from Rapsody’s Eve album

Three Big Winners from Rapsody’s Eve album

by Dan-O

Albums-With an aggregate score on Metacritic of 91 out of a 100 Rapsody’s new album Eve is not consummable in pop music chunks. While it is sixty two minutes and fifty seven seconds long It is so heavily thematic that every song acts as a vital puzzle piece in the totality of Black feminine dimension. This is more literal than hyperbole; most of the songs are named after an important black woman who made an important contribution to the world (Iman, Afeni, Serena, Whoopi, Oprah, etc).

Rapsody is my favorite female rapper in the world right now because of how elusive she is. She sneaks lines through like on the lead single Ibtihaj where she talks about how long women have led the way in hip hop. She says “Women been leading the way, since Roxanne Shante/And the Unit had Flava and Jay had Marcy neighbors that waved.” If you catch it, it is odd to think about Jay at one time having neighbors in Marcy who waved and how long ago that was. It’s a sneaky thoughtful personal image of a figure who seems so enormous now. For her pen to put the camera there is a real strong choice.

As the album’s star she never yells at people or engages theatrics. While this costs her a larger stage it creates real weight around bars that might not be considered that big a deal from someone else. On Whoopi when she sternly states “I ain’t feeling you like I ain’t feeling new Kanye,” you couldn’t help but think that might actually hurt Kanye’s feelings. She didn’t stutter or equivocate. Nothing she says is to be dismissed and critics know it. After years of putting out strong verses and solid music, fans know it as well. I watched a documentary following Rapsody. She is a nice lady in a hooded sweatshirt and if you ever need to ask what weapon she will use to defend herself against this dangerously half dead music industry…the album is the answer. It tells her story in full.

Eric G & 9th Wonder-12 out of 16 songs on Eve are produced by one of these two. 9th Wonder gets the full victory lap treatment because he has been pushing Rapsody with all the strength of his reputation for years and years. Now talking heads (like me) are running around touting Eve when they were dismissing her back in 2014.

I am very happy for Eric G to get a little of this shine. He is one of those kept label producers who remain the backbone of a unit (Elite is this for J.Cole and the Dreamville people). Rapsody sounds amazing over soul samples and smacking drums but Eric G finds a way to push the tempo. He sprinkles a little Roger Troutman into the song Aaliyah. Serena  actually uses a Luther Campbell sample to set a fast tempo that pulls some of my favorite words from our narrator. He gives her soul but imbues it with strength and confidence. Rapsody has grown alongside 9th Wonder and Eric G. Eve is their moment alongside her.

Guests-Have you seen who is on this album? The lead single has GZA and D’Angelo on it. Gza does not contribute verses all over the place. He absolutely brings it like he’s happy to and he is not the only one. Nottz T’s up the perfect piano with chunky bass for Queen Latifah to flex over. J. Cole doesn’t just rap well dude gets deep into himself. His verse starts with “Born into pain” as the first three spoken words. This verse is given with deep respect to a piece of music he knows to be important. Iman captures a lot of talent in one place with JID continuing to build his guest verse portfolio , this time matching his speedbag flow with sincerity, Sir sounds buttery on the hook.

This is not a full review of Eve. If I did one of those it would be 1,500 words. I’d do 400 words just talking about how important to music Oprah is in that it brings the two best female rappers in the world together (Leikeli47 and Rapsody) over a beat (thank you Eric G!) that captures the best of both styles. It bounces with drums 47 can be proud of while giving Rapsody the sonic space to stretch out.

If this isn’t a review let it be a toast.

Glasses up for this thick novel of a thing.

Rapsody_-_Eve

May it never leave us.

Advertisements

#Bandcampgold-Best U.K. Albums of 2019

#Bandcampgold-Best U.K. Albums of 2019

by Dan-O

As Americans we too often turn a blind eye to other countries contributions to artistic forms we start. This is odd because the world often welcomes our contributions(Kurasawa turned Westerns into Samurai movies and we turned that into Star Wars). U.K. rap has gone through its own growth and development. In 2019, the two albums I love the most from that scene have found ways to be unique in a rich world of unique interesting albums.

Nothing Great About Britain by slowthai

Do not look to me for interesting biographical information about slowthai. I found this album on a “best albums so far” list probably on DJBooth.net. The calling card here is every song crackles with energy. This dude is 24 years old with the forward motion and excitement he should have to charge from track to track. His accent is significant and it takes adjusting to but I’ve always felt that no matter where the music comes from I abide by dope hip hop. I will figure it out. This dude knows how to lace a hook that is simple and effective (see Doorman) and his flow is loud fearless and assured.

If you are listening to the deluxe edition Kwes Darko produced (or co-produced) 11 of the 17 songs and helps set the stage with off kilter burbling mid tempo production (see Dead Leaves). Darko flips a sample over piano and car rattling bass in my FAVORITE beat of the tape, Gorgeous. He keeps these beats running in 7 different directions at all times which matches up nicely to our scatterbrained unstoppable force of a narrator.

Check out the two minute sixteen second song Crack, slowthai executes the hook brilliantly and fills the song with call outs of his own behavior most rappers would shy away from. Nothing Great About Britain is a debut so he hasn’t been steered into any lanes yet. You can feel the specificity in his perspective pairing with the ease of his skill and joyful thump of the sonic universe. Don’t worry what number this is on the best of the year list. Numbers don’t matter here: slowthai is here and fun to listen to. I can throw on Nothing Great About Britain and destroy the days work from my cubicle. It’s only the beginning for our relationship through the headphones.

Stream or buy Nothing Great About Britain below:

https://slowthai.bandcamp.com/album/nothing-great-about-Britain

Psychodrama by (Santan) Dave

Dave really might be a generational talent to recon with. Psychodrama is one of the best put together debut albums I have heard in years. The lyrical content is searing in laser- like focus and accuracy. On the albums last song Drama this is how he starts the first verse “I don’t know where to start. I just done my first Psychodrama and I hope the world hears my craft. I’m excited man, I pray you get to hear my craft. From my childhood my mother didn’t hear me laugh. I’m presenting you the future I don’t fear my past. I ain’t got a tattoo anywhere near my arms but best believe on my sleeve is where I wear my heart.” He also says “Thank god for the pain because it made me this.”

Dave has natural abillity he can weave melody in and carry a tune like on the song Voices. He can bring in another big talent and create a song that reflects both artists like on Location (featuring Burna Boy). Importantly, this dude is a writer. If you listen to track nine (Lesley) it is eleven minutes of fantastic storytelling that will leave you stuck in that world. My favorite song is Screwface Capital it has a haunting sample and some piano keys so Dave just goes off. One of those songs every MC needs where he pushes his chest out and roars his whole life from poverty to the prison system to sex to work ethic. While rap is full of songs about affirming Black heritage the song Black digs three levels deeper than even the best of them (example: “Black is people naming your countries on what they trade most: Coast of Ivory, Gold Coast…”). It is exciting to find someone with this much to say on this many subjects while exercising this much versatility but more importantly… this dude has a plan. He’s excited for us to get his FIRST Psychodrama. Great writers love to plan and develop and I can only imagine what this dude has for us in the future.

Stream or buy Psychodrama below:

https://santandave.bandcamp.com/album/psychodrama

Song review-Nipsey by Trae The Truth

Song review-Nipsey by Trae The Truth

by Dan-O

I do not feel well. Generally, I am not a neurotic person. My mind is something I manage assertively but the beat on Trae The Truth’s song Nipsey sounds like the buzzing in my head ever since Nip passed. The light piano is the ever-present weeping of those of us that followed Hussle through his mixtape maturation. Everyone is shouting out Nipsey nowadays, at varying levels of stylishly being-in-the-know and authentically dealing. Figures that it would be Trae The Truth that broke me in half and brought me to tears on it.

It figures because this is the guy who punched Mike Jones and evolved into the man who organized the Relief Gang to save people during Hurricane Harvey. This is the kid of dude who only features with people that are known as legit people. You won’t see Trae featuring on a song with some purple haired episcopal white rapper named Ballbag.  When the scariest voice in rap says “Damn, I never picture you leavin’ can’t stop the grievin'” it breaks me to pieces because it is perfectly the dark cloud over my head. Beyond prayer hand emoji’s whipped out for any loss of life… Nipsey was supposed to be old and wise and helping his whole coast!

This song is from Trae’s new album Exhale and the project is superb, maybe a little better than his awesome album last year, Hometown Hero. This isn’t the best song, to be honest, Even Tho Its Hard is entrancingly melodic heartfelt and tough. Trae is Scarfaces legacy pulled through Drakes melodic additions to the format. It is all very serious but it sounds beautiful.

I think that is why I trust him to break me in half and put me together every time I hear his dedication to his friend. The same way the kids at Woodbridge Forest Middle School were so relieved to jump into his truck and bail to safety during the hurricane. I rely on Trae (in a much more low stakes way!) to help me with grief in a way that keeps my head up with eyes on Hussle’s legacy and achievements.  No guns, no needless tough talk.

Is it weird for me to get so emotional over someone I never met? Trae will understand. Trae and I share a belief that you must live with pain to see the other side of it and the songs we listen to, the people in our lives, the days that go right, are all pieces of the correct medicine. The “foundation of integrity” Nipsey speaks on in the ending audio clip is perfect for Exhale. A whole album where Trae flexes by doing what rappers can’t do anymore; step outside their brand. You see, Trae isn’t a brand. He’s a place. He’s Houston.

Song of The Year-Wolf Mode by Chris Rivers

Song of The Year-Wolf Mode by Chris Rivers

by Dan-O

When talking about Noname a friend of mine made the argument that while her follow up album was very good(Room 25), she will likely spend her career measured against the song Casket Pretty from her first album (Telefone). This isn’t about producing an insurmountable hit. Casket Pretty is a hushed poetic eulogy to all the people who shouldn’t have had to die. It’s succinct, dynamic, and gripping. That song will be something a lot of people never ever forget and when her name comes up that song will be the first reply.

I mention this to say Wolf Mode is that song for Chris Rivers. His whole career has been building to it. Wolf Mode is what makes hip hop more than a financially successful genre it can act as a method of group therapy. He combines multi-speed raw flow excellence with an ease in discussing mental illness that few have. He chides someone for never giving love unconditionally and then hopes they die, and pretty immediately admits he has attempted suicide. This isn’t a sad song where the piano helps us cry with him. This is a bass heavy chant about how tough are skin needs to be, how the trials we have been through have built us scar and scab by scar and scab. With under a minute to go Chris double times “I’d rather have the hard truth than a sweet lie because the hard truth still apply to me…” and he’s nailed it. The gorgeous glimmering jewel that sits in the genres heart. This space is where you can tell it how it really is. The Jonas boys make fun music but you’ll never know if they battled sobriety.

I remember watching the documentary and seeing Big Pun hit his wife with a gun while a room of his associates bowed their head and said nothing. This is the guy who gave me the best hip hop album of all time(Capital Punishment, no arguments). As Rivers came up I always wanted to ask him how he balances those contradicting ends of his fathers legacy. This many years later to have his son spitting about self love and forgiveness, mistakes and how the deep scars mean the most has been therapeutic for me. I’m sure many have “canceled” Pun based on the documentary but River’s new album G.I.T.U. makes an important case that a person with a good heart can fix themselves if they have the time. Pun was robbed of that. I’m so glad Chris hasn’t been.

Stream or download G.I.T.U. below:

https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/album/g-i-t-u

 

#MarkTheDate-May The Super MC Super Producer Full Album Never Die

#MarkTheDate-May The Super MC Super Producer Full Album Never Die

by Dan-O

Two very important albums by legendary producer-rapper pairings have been announced. Both are scheduled to come out soon but not soon enough. Both are coming out on Mello Music Group who tomorrow will release an album by Big Pun’s son Chris Rivers.  #MarkTheDate is designed to keep you, dear reader, abreast of dope albums coming out in the future that aren’t from the 1%ers who can afford an expensive ad campaign.

Complicate Your Life With Violence by L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae

The first album by these two is called The Night Took Us In Like Family and it is probably the best Mello Music Group album not by Open Mike Eagle. This time around the single, Dead Battery, hints at the team building on what was so good the first time. The bass is mean. The soul in this soul music is the kind that makes you screwface, that dark energy. Jeremiah Jae locks in with his easy semi-monotone flow. He says unexpected things “bring honor to the name while marching through the flames” but boy does he know how to threaten and all of it swims together because his flow is so easy. Meanwhile, L’Orange chops the song in sections inserting old movie clips, subtle and not-subtle beat switches that knock you out of any comfort zone. Trust me it doesn’t matter if anyone features on this album. These two are thorough they don’t just make great songs. They make great album covers great album titles great track sequencing so just strap in. This comes out October fourth so go to the bandcamp link below and check out Dead Battery. Add this to your list.

https://lorange360.bandcamp.com/album/complicate-your-life-with-violence

Retropolitan by Skyzoo & Pete Rock

I need not speak of Pete Rock. He is not just a Mt. Rushmore hip hop producer he is one of the lasts Golden era producers still throwing HEAT with his beats(don’t ask me to throw others under the bus who aren’t). The first review I did of Skyzoo I compared him to CL Smooth. It is amazing to see him link up with Pete Rock. Skyzoo is lyrically dense but in no way pretentious. This is why the track Eastern Conference All Stars on their new album Retropolitan features the thoughtful Detroit wordsmith Elzhi alongside the Griselda boys(Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, Westside Gunn) who are known for hard nosed NY Goon rap on steroids. Listen to the single, It’s All Good, for proof of why so many have so much respect for Skyzoo. It is about duffle bags fitted caps and boobs but it is poetry.  At this stage in his career he knows himself so well. He chuckles and says he looks like he ghostwrites and then starts talking about how his son is old enough to use the potty now. When you believe in your abilities amazing things can happen. Having the rich sparkling twinkle of Pete F$%*ing Rock doesn’t ever hurt. September 20th is when this gets released so mark that on your calendar digital or analog. Go to the bandcamp link below and listen to the single, It’s All Good.

 

https://mmg-skyzoo.bandcamp.com/album/retropolitan

P.S. Shout out to Pete Rock and another classic producer hero of mine DJ Muggs who have really embraced the new NY underground talent. Pete did an incredible album with Smoke Dza and Muggs is all over it working with Roc Marciano, Crimeapple, and Mach Hommy. Some old heads fall out of the now while Muggs/Rock have always been about the music. They always find something to like even if the beach has a lot of trash strewn on the sand.

 

#Bandcampgold-That’s The World by Anti-Lilly and Phoniks

#Bandcampgold-That’s The World by Anti-Lilly and Phoniks

by Dan-O

Being a philosophical person isn’t that fun. It’s thousands of persisting strands of concern intersecting and reproducing. This is part of the reason that dumb rappers tend to make albums that are more fun (depends on how you define fun). Fake deep hits the listeners sweet spot on the pop level. You get enough thought/detail to hold onto but not enough to bum you out.  With the contorted soul landscape Phoniks has brought to life on their group project Anti-Lilly is completely free to haunt my brain with realizations about life that shake my own. At time on their new album, That’s The World, I have gotten genuinely emotional listening. Not because something went wrong… because the depth of what he points to in us that is wrong is historical present and terrifying.

Things you need to know

  1. Anti-Lilly whispers and if you can’t handle it I won’t hold it against you. Any rapper that chooses the subtle tones over the roar knows what they have signed up for. Not everyone’s cup of tea.
  2. You can call this a vibe. You could call it smooth. However you want to frame the sounds of this album they will not rock your car stereo, this isn’t built for your frat party. It doesn’t have a stand out BIG PIMPIN’ style single.

 

The rest of this review is dedicated to two songs. The features are up and down, the project is cohesive and rewarding upon relistens but I need to talk to you about these songs. I might never be able to listen to Father’s Day and hold myself together. This is because his story is so similar to mine. His struggle is one I am still going through. In the song he negotiates the anger he has with his father for treating his mother poorly, cheating on her “In my younger days I wanted to crack you for ever tear she had shed/ things you’ve done I could never forget.”, against the traits he sees in himself that his father gave him.  “…Either way I’m blessed you brought us up/love is tough but because of you I never settled/learned my worth and got my work ethic from you.” When he says “Because of you to this day I’ve never cheated,” it shocked me. I’ve never cheated on anyone, even when we were casual, and I know it is because I experienced the way my father manipulated my mother in the later years of their marriage. Anti-Lilly, like me, has never been able to wrap his head around the ethics of it. The loyalty we all preach in male friendships yet the snaking around dudes do in heterosexual relationships. My biggest fear since I was eighteen years old is letting my people down. It’s because I watched a good man do it to everyone, that year. So that song is real good.

The Fall is even better. Phoniks balances the horns with the bass into a magical melody that feels utterly complete. Phoniks lives in Maine I live in Maine; I need to high five this dude outside of a Cumberland Farms one day. Anti-Lilly gives a heck of a first verse line after the hook. “The first time I got my @$$ whooped I was testin’ somebodies pride/ That N_ slid me ended up realigning mines/The second time I got my @$$ whooped tried to slam a N_ twice my size/ dressed in faith/That’s when I finally realized/ ain’t no ho up in my blood or in my eyes/ only pride.” As the beat resonates sounding like the hip hop version of the Jazz song that makes you think about your life, Anti-Lilly picks apart pride from different angles. In one bar he warns not “to let it get you F’d up/ to get in your way/don’t let it get overshadowed by voices saying you can’t.” He explains the negative side of pride clouding you as well as the confidence it can give you to drive forward(and overcome external or internal doubt) in a matter of seconds. Anti-Lilly thinks at a blinding speed which makes Phoniks so important. I need his hypnotizing soul music to manufacture that smooth ride because That’s The World is not a smooth ride for the heavily introspective attentive listener. It’s a lot but if you’re a philosophical thinker it’s such a relief to know your not worrying alone.

Stream or Download That’s The World below:

https://antilillyandphoniks.bandcamp.com/album/thats-the-world

 

 

My Second Book Means Everything

Dan 6x9_Front_Cover
My Second Book Means Everything

by  Dan-O

I was raised to believe it is all a badly told lie. My father was put in jail by a police force that never was there to help him when gangs abused him. He wasn’t shy about sharing his experiences. I was pulled from class for shouting to my classmates that Santa wasn’t real. In many important ways my new book, The Konane Board & Right To Vengeance, fully realize my lineage in the world of pessimistic conspiratorial paranoia.

My father and mother are from California. My father saw a Hells Angel who had been hired as security kill someone who just wanted to watch The Rolling Stones but that was all family mythology for me. George Orwell took center stage in my life as one of the few writers who was right about how messed up things are. Most people love 1984, I still haven’t finished it, but Animal Farm was perfect.

It showed the destructive nature of power without letting you off the hook allowing you to think evil people pulled the wool over everyone. This wasn’t Thanos v. Captain Marvel all the animals start with good intentions but human behavior in groups becomes political and the political orbits feeds on nothing but power. Orwell could go big picture and talk about the mechanics of political power but he cared about people on a granular level. The essay that never leaves me from him was published in November of 1945 under the title, Revenge Is Sour, take a look at this section below where a Jewish American soldier interrogates a Nazi immediately after the war.

Later, there were further humiliations. Another S.S. officer, a large brawny man, was ordered to strip to the waist and show the blood group number tattooed on his under-arm; another was forced to explain to us how he had lied about being a member of the S.S. and attempted to pass himself off as an ordinary soldier of the Wehrmacht. I wondered whether the Jew was getting any real kick out of this new-found power that he was exercising. I concluded that he wasn’t really enjoying it, and that he was merely — like a man in a brothel, or a boy smoking his first cigar, or a tourist traipsing round a picture gallery — telling himself that he was enjoying it, and behaving as he had planned to behave in the days he was helpless.

It is absurd to blame any German or Austrian Jew for getting his own back on the Nazis. Heaven knows what scores this particular man may have had to wipe out; very likely his whole family had been murdered; and after all, even a wanton kick to a prisoner is a very tiny thing compared with the outrages committed by the Hitler regime. But what this scene, and much else that I saw in Germany, brought home to me was that the whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish daydream. Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act which you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless: as soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also.

You cannot underestimate how important that last sentence is for The Konane Board. If you buy the book and start reading, asking yourself what characters are acting out of “the sense of impotence” necessary for revenge you’ll be surprised. It’s funny but sad , LeCarre looking for traitors inside British Intelligence mixed with the interlocking dark hopeless humor of Adult Swim’s Venture Brothers. Both of those influences link back to Orwell. This new book is everything and everything is Orwell.

P.S. An incredible writing teacher I had in college told me my problem was that the story I was writing meant everything and so it was hard for the reader to follow. The title of this post is a wink in that direction since that is still very much the challenge. I want you in on everything.

Amazon link is below:

https://www.amazon.com/Konane-Board-Right-Vengeance/dp/0359021603/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=daniel+olney&qid=1564507289&s=gateway&sr=8-1