Tag Archives: Chicago Hip Hop

#Bandcampgold-Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle

#Bandcampgold-Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle

by Dan-O

I am so much more excited about BBKSD than my circle. Everyone likes it. People at this point have heard of Open Mike Eagle due to the breakout success of 2014’s Dark Comedy (and 2016’s huge improvement Hella Personal Film Festival). He is officially on the bubble of everyone who follows music and BBKSD shows yet another improvement. That is a good enough take but not from my angle.  If you follow the incredible X-Men references in the opening track (Legendary Iron Hood https://genius.com/Open-mike-eagle-legendary-iron-hood-lyrics ). The song is a perfect example of Mike pushing everything to the hilt. He’s always had great hooks and this time they are prettier, better sung, catchier (see Hymnal) the beats are full of strange sounds coming together over his buttery flow. His lyrics take comic imagery and push it 38 degrees to the left so that they become intensely meaningful.

On Happy Wasteland Day he is slick and smooth weaving zombie imagery and the connotation of dystopia into his everyday life “When the king is a garbage person/I might wanna lay down and die/Power down on my darkest urges/Keep my personal crown up high.”  As the song goes on his tone gets more and more urgent as the terror of everyday violence punctures the force field. The last verse his voice is post mortem, dead monotone and fading.  It is as much an emotional journey as Velvet Underground’s Heroin.

If you’re a strict rap guy who needs BARS just press play on Brick Body Complex which is a sensational set fire to the BS hook with dizzying skill from his pen in the verses “Chi Town in my building code/Stood here for ten million snows/wind chill is all in my bones/ Indivisible in divisible kids and criminals young and old/No radiator my dungeon cold.” That song sets my sensory on overload and it isn’t even my favorite.

I would change nothing on BBKSD but boy do I come back specifically to 95 Radios. Toy Light and Has-Lo created a beat that chimes a spotlight on the verses (Has-Lo destroys verse 1). Mike’s second verse teases fun growing up references but can’t run away from the hard thoughtful personal truth “I miss my old hood/ miss my homies/is lonely/ The radio host is like they know me.”  The pain isn’t just in the verse it’s in the delivery, the chorus drips with the visual image of a kid closing his eyes and trying to hear a rap song so he doesn’t have to think so damn much.

When I was in school (trying to become a better writer) teachers routinely told me to ignore what I did well and focus on improving my faults. As a natural antagonist the first thing I did was push even harder on my strengths leaving the rest for later. Sometimes if I pushed hard enough I could accomplish something really surprising and that was the best feeling. Brick Body Kids Still Daydream gives me that feeling for Mike. No one gets to show him his lane.

Bandcamp link below:

https://openmikeeagle360.bandcamp.com/album/brick-body-kids-still-daydream

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#BandcampGold-A Common Wonder by Amerigo Gazaway, Stevie Wonder & Common

#BandcampGold-A Common Wonder by Amerigo Gazaway, Stevie Wonder, & Common

By Dan-O

Amerigo Gazaway is the best mash up dude in the world right now because when he picks two artists he doesn’t just jam them together he weaves them together. He’s paired Fela Kuti with De La Soul, Mos Def with Marvin Gaye all in ways that made you see the musical link between those artists and appreciate their skill set to a greater degree. Midway through a Gazaway mash up you wonder why you didn’t see it in the first place.

Gazaway’s strength is that he makes bold choices that pay off through deep knowledge of both artists discographies. A Common Wonder pulls heavily from 60’s Stevie in key moments; laying the foundational I Used to Love H.E.R over I Was Made to Love Her and most surprisingly finding a way to make Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours) and The Light seamless dance partners. Innervisions is the current critical go to for “best Stevie Wonder album” and it gets some play in interesting places. Common’s best verses from Chi-City are ferocious and perfect over the funky synthesizers from Living In The City, The Innervision intermission drops in an interview Com did with Rap Radar talking about his relationship to Stevie. It is classic Gazaway in the sense that it provides a meaningful connection between the two while making it clear that while Visions is one of the best Stevie songs ever he doesn’t need it and can use it on a skit.

Young Stevie didn’t have any of the problems Neo-soul did. While Neo-soul seemed to all move at the same tempo and represent as relentlessly earthy (I love Neo-soul but everything has problems) young Stevie brings undeniable kinetic energy to the sonic space he fills. You can hear Love of My Life change for the better as the pace pushes Badu and Common making the song better. As an MC Common has always been a difficult one for me, his best work stands alongside the best to ever happen in the genre but bad Common is horrible. Gazaway finds the verses, the songs that show a real three dimensional beating heart. When you hear The Sixth Superstition you’ll hear Common better than you ever have before and that’s the benefit of a great mashup for the MC, it throws a different light on verses we took for granted.
I had to perform at a very important event, commemorating a very important man and before I spoke I shut myself away from everyone and just listened to A Common Wonder. Someone asked me what I was listening to, I went into full pitch mode and a day later they were in my face about how great the project is. A Common Wonder is a tide that lifts all boats and I am sure that person I pitched is now off somewhere else pitching another friend.

Stream or download below:

https://amerigo.bandcamp.com/album/a-common-wonder

Song of The Year-Casket Pretty by Noname Gypsy

Song of The Year-Casket Pretty by Noname Gypsy

https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=3R58DzceXeg

I am very worried we are going to end up on the wrong side of history.

At a party where the age average was two generations older and everyone was white; I started asking who they voted for in 1960. Kennedy? Nixon? Most of them said Nixon unapologetically. When I insinuated the negative historical consequences of Nixon’s success (in later elections) it faintly registered but none of them regretted it. Even knowing he would shame the nation; cost thousands of lives in Vietnam….you had to be there.

It was the heat of the moment as it unfolded that formed their opinion; a thousand minute details that history would let fall away in favor of more important considerations. I am very worried that the 2016 discussion around violence in the black community is going that way.

In a minute and fifty seconds Noname clears away all the hemming and hawing about the motivations of police or the difference between black on black crime and police initiated violence. The dead are dead and all the hopeless seconds we spend parsing sociological specifics and building excuses are simply a way to do nothing while minimizing guilt. I hope Noname’s voice echoes “too many babies in suits” behind all those all caps aimless arguments.

This song is about gun culture, senseless death and the fear of it. She executes the song in a sorrowful and thoughtful way that makes it one of the most powerful statements of the year. One that will stand the test of time after these ugly emotional memes fade away; the question is when the future comes will we have done anything about the systemic violence our society breeds? God, I hope so.

 

 

Mixtape Review-Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper

Mixtape Review-Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper

by Dan-O

Coloring Book is a testimony but it’s also a test. No one disputes Chance’s skill level in regards to flow, delivery, and wordplay… moving the crowd to keep it simple.  A few critiques of the project have already started to form and I think they portray the expectations of the audience that Chance is trying to extinguish.

The same audience that loves Kanye West and follows his every transformation (hoping he recaptures his “glory years”) are in pocket for Chance and are likely to love All We Got which features Ye and the Chicago Children’s Choir. It has the event feel of Ultralight Beam but those same listeners will definitely bristle at collaboration with Young Thug and Lil Yachty on a project so distinctly about spirituality. It doesn’t matter that the song is great (song is called Mixtape), most people acknowledge that. It just doesn’t feel right. What about Juke Jam? It features JUSTIN BEIBER so that sucks. I’ve never understood investing the energy to hate Bieber 1. If you don’t listen to his music 2. Don’t know him; why do you care?  Bieber doesn’t have the ability to affect a song the way Chance does so the shirtless lightning rod lays a silky chorus and Chance kills a slow flow. Song is great.

Backpackers want Chance to wave the flag Lupe Fiasco does for hip hop intellectuals who will not accept buffoonery. Coloring Book is as much about the warmth, joy, and splendor of Blessings and keeping divinity in your life as it is about the beautiful color selection we have to choose from in hip hop. Jay Electronica belongs on the gospel rap jam How Great the same way 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne belong on the blustering and frustrated No Problem. Chance is smart enough to see that all the colors belong and doesn’t see any reason he shouldn’t be able to use them all.

Backpackers aside, some reviewers are uncomfortable with this deep sense of the lord as the centerpiece of the album. This isn’t a religion thing per say, any music fan should be expected to be intelligent enough to know that whatever works for the album & for the song works…period. This critique operates around the notion that old Chance was mixed up and dealing with growing up (10 Day era) and this one has all the answers and the journey to them was more fun. I’m trying to give this credence, I just don’t remember any of these guys repping for 10 Day at the time. During that time he was definitely more jumbled thematically but also as a craftsman, he wasn’t as good. He’s gotten better and so Coloring Book is better. He found out The Social Experiment makes more sense and that his off the wall excited delivery works best around their fresh instrumentational grandness. When you see Same Drugs and Angels on the same track listing he expects you to stow your confusion. Chance is speaking to an intelligent audience that gets his three dimensions and that being in a blissful spiritual place is not preachy or permanent. Some days the sun shines on you that way. Chance can give you joy and frustration with equal pressure and style, so I love where he’s going and where he is; Coloring Book is an important part of what he is trying to accomplish in the long run and if it makes you want to get off his bus, do it now before it really gets rolling.

stream the mixtape at Apple Music or at this link below:

http://baseshare.com/DJFaze/mixtapes/Chance-The-Rapper-Coloring-Boo/1153/

Mixtape Review-2K47 by Hurt Everybody

Mixtape Review-2K47 by Hurt Everybody

Hurt Everybody

by Dan-O

The first few songs in I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like 2K47 or Hurt Everybody because they sounded savagely unhappy and that’s not really how I want to be. By the last few…I was very sure I loved 2K47 and Hurt Everybody. The group consists of three people, the two emcees being Supa Bwe and Carl(Is he really named Carl or did he make up his rap name as Carl? Which is more awesome? Unsure). The producer is Mulatto Beats. You can probably guessed from the group name that this is hostile music and it most definitely is. By the last song (14th) we get the title track and it’s literally the screaming male ego. The brags are chopped up in word chunks and the chorus is a stream of hollered threats and curses. The beat is a robotic squeal that peels away at any level of comfort you’ve gained until by the conclusion you are made so purposefully uncomfortable that its genius (MULATTO BEATS!). It takes real power to create that feeling. Contrast that feeling with track nine (YUNO) where we get the snarling bouncy radio friendly melodic hit they created the repeat option for (produced by FLIGHT!). Yuno is clearly the most fun and awesome thing on 2K47 and that’s saying something.

This project has some of my favorite rappers in the world on it doing great work. Mick Jenkins is fantastic in his two appearances, Social Network (Gang) and Stay Awake, and Alex Wiley is a perfect match for the equal parts angry and odd Computer. As shouting, stomping angry as 2K47 is and as masterful as Hurt Everybody are at using swear words like the Three Musketeers use swords…this isn’t Drill. Stay Awake is way too pimpish (another gold standard guest verse from Twista on this song). The title track and Social Network (Gang) are way too punk rock. Low Light is too wounded and sultry. This doesn’t fit into a genre it feels like a virus released to destroy genres.

Hurt Everybody know what everyone thinks is going to come out of Chicago hip hop. It’s going to be about crime and it’s going to be Chop-like (Chop-esque? Chopish?) production. They are playing Battleship with your expectations, hiding the parts you think you know and hitting you in the face with a bunch of different sounding songs. Some are bass and sample gorgeous (Before The War) with polished soulful chorus but others are angry shouting or monotone chanting (White Owl). They overflow with energy and enthusiasm and it takes you over.

After listening to 2K47 enough you start to wonder if this is the kind of group…if they broke BIG and everyone loved them…would they completely shift into doing something else? The music is rowdy, unsettled and eating everything surrounding it. I have to think that’s why all these artists came to feature and be a part of it. 2K47 isn’t the kind of listen that comes with a set of rules, just a seatbelt.

Stream or Download 2K47 below:

http://www.djbooth.net/index/albums/review/07065-hurt-everybody-2k47

Mixtape Review-Surf by Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment

Mixtape Review-Surf by Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment

by Dan-O

As massive and overwhelming as Surf felt on the first listen, the more I come back the bigger it feels. I find myself listening to songs I’ve heard lots of times and grunting in awe at how sharply and warmly resonant each moment is.

The narrative you’ve heard is correct. Chance the Rapper is a top talent in hip hop and he allowed himself to be an element of the music on Surf. He pops in not to drop lazy bars but with lines that blow you back, things you wish you’d written and could take credit for(like everything Chance says on Warm Enough). Chance gives the best of his work to a project not primarily his and it makes you like him a lot more. It’s the top actor who takes a smaller part to be in the best movie. After it’s over you’re left thanking the actor in your head for having the foresight to not pull a Denzel (sorry Denzel but you ball in isolation on some bad movies). Surf is great for Chance’s brand.  I cannot picture Drake or Kanye just sitting to the side bobbing their heads and waiting patiently for their song. For Chance it’s about the music being good first.

The narrative you haven’t heard is Donnie Trumpet didn’t come out of nowhere. Him and the drummer on Surf (Greg “Stix” Lanfair) were from the Chicago hip hop band Kids These Days and Kids These Days were awesome! Trumpet dominates Surf and as chaotic as Kids These Days could be the sonic temperament of Surf is bound to the loving blasts of the trumpet. It’s everywhere from Nothing Came To Me to Windows and Something Came to Me. The musical experience is a hard shot of cheerfulness that can only be given by the trumpet and everyone wants in. Big Sean raps next to Kyle, B.O.B. raps next to Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu comes out of nowhere and it ends up cohesive. Publications have written articles explaining all the guests and what order they come in. It’s dizzying, the amount of talent on display. Everyone’s voice, no matter who it is, comes out of that trumpet. Keep in mind that large portions of it are just local Chicago kids every bit as talented as the major players. If you didn’t know any of these dudes maybe you need to type “Traphouse Rock download” into your search engine and dig in.

From the outrageous party of Slip Slide to the your-grandmother-will-dance- to-this Sunday Candy the whole project feels like a generational flag planted in music. We are talking about J. Cole, Big Sean, Chance, B.O.B., Noname Gypsy, Janelle Monae, Raury all jumping on this project and giving their best to it. No generation of hip hop previous would have come together like this (sorry but Scott La Rock had to get killed for Self-Destruction to happen). It speaks well of rap music now that so many not only answered the call but were excited to be there, not picking away at other peoples time to get more or questioning who this Donnie Trumpet kid is…they all just created this massive work everyone fits into. I have no idea if Surf is the best thing to come out this year but it’s definitely the most important, the one we will be talking about years from now; the perfect summer music. The kind of mixtape you can press play on whenever you’re sad and end up with a smile.

Stream or download Surf below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Donnie-Trumpet-The-Social-Experiment-Surf-mixtape.712394.html

Song of The Year-City G.O.D. by King Louie featuring Fetty Wap & KD produced by DJ L

Song of The Year-City G.O.D. by King Louie featuring Fetty Wap & KD produced by DJ L

by Dan-O

I would have to confess that as much as I LOVE Chicago hip hop in its current form…I would not miss Drill if it left hip hop. I would be more than happy to see it pass like cloud rap did but King Louie just won’t let it. He dropped a new mixtape Drilluminati 3:God of Drill as a follow up to last year’s wonderful horror movie rap opus Tony. It is raw and hostile and superb.

Louie is one of the few making Drill that doesn’t just fall into the genres framework. He stands out in his jagged delivery and scream flow. His hooks are always memorable(this comes back to how sticky his flow is, you get sucked in) and his beats are big enough to not carry the stale sorrow of most drill production. This song is a great example of everything that works about the King Louie blueprint. The DJ L beat seems to exist as a tsunami of bass that everyone rides. King Louie makes gunshot sounds himself and brags about leaking people’s plasma.

Oddly enough King Louie doesn’t seem to be very interested in polishing his product. The attraction to it is its raw excellence and if his catalog tells us anything it’s that Louie doesn’t have much interest in that main stage where the sharp corners get shaved off. If he breaks next level it will be on his own terms with a song every bit as seductively inconsiderate as it should be.