Audio Push and the soft resurgence of Native Tongues cool consciousness
Hip hop is waves and counter-waves; it survives because every successful movement is so hated by another portion of the culture that its opposition immediately garners prominence as a counter point. You could make the argument that all sub-genres are little traps. Even being known as the great creator of an interesting new one eventually leaves you as the relic of an old one.
Audio Push has been making steps in their current direction for a while. Last year’s project The Good Vibe Tribe was definitely a move into a Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do direction and the just released Inside The Vibe is a total embrace of intelligent adaptability. My favorite song on it is Don’t Sweat It where the imagery starts with watching The Preachers Wife and kicking back but immediately shifts to health problems/bills/government surveillance but returns to relaxation in the chorus. This song actually includes the line “Showed my girl I’m human and now she hates me…” Oktane and Price do a brilliant job of contrasting a laundry list of concerns against a spiritual need to take the air out of the tension.
What helps is that of the nine songs the production list is Hazebanga-1 song Coryayo-8 songs and that’s it. It has a minimalist consistency and bass heavy richness that provides a stable wave to ride. If you’ve heard Anderson.Paak’s Malibu album you know my surfing metaphor isn’t silly. Just because Audio Push wants to address racial stereotypes (on Brown Man Syndrome) that doesn’t mean they want to shout it angrily. But just because they are laughing during a song about race doesn’t mean they are clowning. Every verse on Inside The Vibe contains elasticity or like Bruce Lee said “Be like water” able to shift forms to fit wherever you want to go.
I was playing their wonderful homage to 2pac’s Picture Me Rollin’ (Picture Me) for my wife and the chorus includes “Picture Me inviting your girl to come with me to the top to share my light with the world…” and I turned to her relieved “They’re going to take my girl but at least they will take good care of her.” Most rappers threatening to take your girl want to use her like drive-thru food, a lot of the expected scenarios you hear on rap albums fall away in the Audio Push vibe.
The mixtape starts with an interlude (that leads into Come Alive) where a man is getting in a woman’s car and she warns him “One more thing, my car my music…none of that trendy $*#!.” The line repeats into infinity as the heart and soul of what Inside The Vibe means. This is a project for an intelligent audience that doesn’t want a refill of what the top tier is already providing. This is Heiroglyphics dedication to rapping mixed with De La Souls sense of fun and Tribe’s tireless dedication to the vibe.
A lot of young hip hop artists are trying to move between the marketing terminology, not to be trapped in Trap or restricted to Ratchet; which makes sense, all the best transcended sub-genres; even the ones they created. I hope Chance The Rapper and Noname Gypsy are listening to Inside The Vibe. I want this to be Birth of The Cool for mixtapes in 2016, but I’m always pushing best case scenario.
Stream or download Inside The Vibe below:
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Tagged Audio Push, Chance the Rapper, Coryayo, De La Soul, Hazebanga, Heiroglyphics, Inside The Vibe, mixtape review, Native Tongues, Noname Gypsy, Tribe Called Quest, west coast hip hop
Mixtape Review-The Good Vibe Tribe by Audio Push
The Good Vibe Tribe mixtape is as close as I am going to get to a return trip into LabCabinCalifornia. Pharcyde were so special because they managed everything, they were passionately fun, aggressively lyrical, excellently produced and always experimenting. Audio Push don’t just give off that feeling they actively create it this time. For fourteen tracks this mixtape feels like two projects because it has two projects worth of written verse, songs that bleed over into 7 or 8 minutes long without you ever regretting it.
If I was to pick at it I would want much less of the end-of-song-spoken-word. Most of the time they don’t come across as Kendrick style poetry but real raps delivered acapella. I’m a curmudgeony song’s over next song type and would rather cut out any stray stuff. That being said Oktane and Pricetag are beasts and give more than enough for me to enjoy with memorable lines that don’t even hit you until the third or fourth listen. I can skip to the next song no issue.
Hit-Boy is still a guiding force, producing or co-producing five of the fourteen tracks present on The Good Vibe Tribe but the high profile beats aren’t really the draw. When Cardo and Hit-Boy team up for Sweep it’s a pretty basic second single strip club song (the interlude at the end is a smoked out conversation about the D.W. Griffith film Birth of A Nation and might be more interesting than the song which definitely contradicts my complaint about end of song non-song material so that’s how reliable I am). Normally (also co-produced by Hit-Boy) has a hypnotizing pace even though it covers largely the same material. All throughout the production is clean and crisp so the worst you’ll get are songs with well-constructed raps over professional beats (that will never have you lamenting mixing issues) that you don’t connect with.
Audio Push doesn’t traffic in digestible deep penetration hits. My favorite song is track five: Mary Jane & Sixty One Impala. The sweetness of the love ballad to dank is so well done and the transition between the two songs is great (Sixty One Impala starts with a blast of funk and the words “I need the James Brown light right quick, Roger Troutman to write my sh#t, a hit wick to ignite my spliff, and some college girls to come supply my fix…”) but most of all its one of those songs I heard and felt like I’d always known. Under the good vibe they supply is a righteous indignation, a secret they know that they feel none of us do…and it’s how good they are. This is a mixtape that vibes out but it ends with Peace Pipe, a vicious attack on rappers that suck. It’s a problem they spit out all throughout The Good Vibe Tribe and it traces back to the love of the craft. The welcoming Native Tongues vibe of Bonfire (thank you Coryayo) not just in production but saluting peace and happiness directly in verse still takes time to obstinately state “don’t play this on the radio” affirming that being this good validates itself. Don’t go up to Audio Push and tell them they should be as popular as ___ they don’t need that.
While the familiarity of Mary Jane & Sixty One Impala is my favorite it’s not the peak of the party. Audio Push repurpose Westside Connections legendary track Bow Down and throw everyone on it with them. What comes out is B.O.W. Down where Oktane sounds his happiest and Fat Trel gives one of his very best performances alongside Turtle Nojoke, Seriious, T Clacc & B-Nice. It’s a monster moment you can’t replay enough.
If Audio Push demand anything it’s that you always watch for the difference between people who love the art and people who don’t. Ice-T called himself just a hustler but he was lying he loves the art from coast to coast and beyond and Audio Push do as well. They don’t need to say it, the right ear can just tell.
stream or download The Good Vibe Tribe below:
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Tagged 2015 mixtapes, Audio Push, B-Nice, Coryayo, datpiff, Fat Trel, Hip Hop is art, Hit Boy, mixtape review, Native Tongues, Oktane, Pharcyde, Pricetag, Seriious, T Clacc, The Good Vibe Tribe, Turtle Nojoke, west coast hip hop
Mixtape Review-The Iron Way by T-Pain
T-Pain is the Mozart of strip club music. No matter how many changes he has gone through I’ve never given up on him because I know that to be true. I know he is capable of stifling musical intelligence and flawless execution on very silly songs about strippers and butts, even if he does go into the more silly than genius realm on occasion. Just listen to the T-Pain produced Booty Butt Ass off of his new The Iron Way mixtape with DJ Drama; I just kept picturing Luther Campbell from 2 Live Crew with one single tear coming down his face like “that was beautiful.” He has more range with his autotune usage than anyone else in music (proof of this starts two minutes and fifty eight seconds in and goes till the end).
The most educated critic had to feel that roller coaster nervousness during the first listen of The Iron Way. The Jay-z song D.O.A. changed T-Pain in a big way. It wasn’t a diss to him at all, Jay clearly took to task people ripping him off, but T-Pain took the hit and became unfashionable. Part of this was that he was already over exposed; part of this is that he’s a goof. This is the dude who complimented Ray J’s dick size on live radio when the Kim K sex tape leaked. People were ready to turn their back before they did. So when the first track ,Kill These N_’s, started and fed into the blistering rap diss Trust Issues we didn’t know if this was all angry rap T-Pain. Little did we know the supremely zoned out and darn near tranquil Sun Goes Down(Audio Push are perfect guests on this one) and Need To Be Smokin were to come. Really every kind of song was to come; this mixtape is twenty songs long. If you like enormous rap anthems with rewindable bars you need to hear King where Bun B goes bananas and Big Krit sounds like Denzel looks in Man On Fire. If your into braggadocio reggae influenced finger snap hip hop then play Disa My Ting. He also drops the really sticky sweet club love song Heartbeat where he says “I can’t control it; it’s like your running electricity through me!”
As cheesy and novelty as Hashtag is the story of the relationships straining is very engaging and well-constructed. It’s a perfect example of what The Iron Way gives you. Its genius; well sung, super listenable and genuinely evocative but cheesy as all get out. You have to find a way to embrace both to enjoy it. Like forgetting while watching a genuinely brilliant Kung Fu movie that these are dudes fighting on strings. By the way Pain can rap too; his verse at the end of 15 is acrobatic and venomous.
T-Pain is not in a position to fade out because he can do too much. He’s a very good rapper, producer, and the king of autotune singing. Dude can construct incredible melodies that sticks in your head and this T-Pain ,the post-D.O.A. edition, has a bit of an edge. He understandably feels betrayed by an industry that shuns him while re-purposing his sound. That means the gushy booty music like Ever comes alongside fiery anti-industry anthems like Personal Business. The imbalance is a perfect balance.
stream or download The Iron Way below:
P.S. I wanted to give you my favorite silly lines from The Iron Way mixtape since T-Pain just can’t help himself.
“She make me bite my fist, I guarantee you ain’t seen a booty quite like this” Booty Butt Ass
“Put my face in her booty like a vanilla cake” Did It Anyway
Best line is “You actin’ like your style fell from the sky. The good news is…you got it from a hell of a guy.” Relax
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Tagged 2015 mixtapes, Audio Push, autotune, Big K.R.I.T., Booty Butt Ass, Bun-B, D.O.A., datpiff, Dj Drama, mixtape review, T-Pain, The Iron Way
Mixtape Review-Come As You Are by Audio Push
The title track on Come As You Are is the first song after the intro and has far less to do with the Nirvana song as it does The Pharcyde. It acts as a microcosm of the tracks that come after it. Nostalgia is a distinct part of the attraction, not just with the Pharcyde sampled beat but the record store interlude after the track where a customer asks for some “cool laid back” music that will enable him to “put one in the air” and feel like the 90’s again. Pricetag’s verse that comes before the interlude is a mystifying stew of paranoia, childhood remembrance and reverence for his Mother. Audio Push certainly feel like the 90’s all the way through this project and in a good way.
Come As You Are is packed with lyrics. Group members Oktane and Pricetag tear into every track but they also make room for guests like K. Roosevelt, Overdoz, TI, Joey Bad@$$, Vic Mensa, James Fauntleroy, Lil Wayne, Wale, Ty Dolla $ign, and IAMSU! Every feasible bit of song space is filled with active thought without time for ad-libs snorts or 50 cent like spoken word post-song threats.
Hitboy, Hazebanga, Mars1500, and Eric Choice do a masterful job taking music we all know and adding to it. Shine is a great example. Hazebanga and Eric Choice take Janet Jacksons I Get Lonely and add enough bass, finger snaps, and brass to make it soar in a different direction. It doesn’t at all take away from the songs source, it makes you want to go back and listen to I Get Lonely again and compare the two. That’s what great sampling production is about and it’s all throughout Come As You Are.
The thing I like most about the decisions made by everyone involved in this mixtape is that they result in an offering that provides many moods. The purposeful uptick in tempo on the frantic Rowdy A is masterful, the bass and the chorus demand we bounce. Once that song closes Turn Down follows (produced by Matthew Burnett) and provides a cool off period for the audience to kick their feet up equipped with lyrics that understand the pressure of the week “See Monday you wake up wanting to stay home no job all day long just trying to get over hangover from Greystone but you still go to work…” but as this song closes we ride the tide back up for Smack. It’s a bubbling sex talk post-hyphy west coast staple that showcases a great IAMSU verse, to its credit the song is playful enough that it doesn’t jeopardize the themes presented elsewhere.
All these mood changes do not mean we go from awesome music to less awesome music. We just travel different areas of awesome music. Shine, I Like It, Told You So and Theme Song feel like big beastly hits. Brown Bag feels like DJ Quik era west coast (to the point where I was waiting for Suga Free to jump on it). It’s not just full of catchy fun songs it’s a distinct artistic message. These guys have a lot to talk about, a lot of different songs they want to do and the capability to achieve it all. A lot of that has to do with the skill level of Octane and Pricetag but a lot of it has to do with having the musical posse of Hitboy and Hazebanga to back your play. You can afford to experiment when your team is that darn good.
stream or download Come As You Are below: