#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
Mixtape Review-AD & Sorry Jaynari-By The Way
Energy creates energy.
No matter how popular the grim and gritty brooding album is (for showing the wounded humanity of its narrator) to a fan base desperate to connect with dark secrets; it lives that way in contrast to energy projects and it will always need energy to contrast against.
AD is that dude. The first song on his mixtape By The Way has the perfect title-Boom. Boom is exactly what happens when AD jumps onto a song(see E-40’s new AD assisted single On One for more evidence), we are talking about Petey Pablo level energy but laced with determined frustration “…knew that I was destined, knew I wouldn’t be stressin’, knew I was that n_ studio nights at the Westin. N_ slept on me for years but I took that sh_ as a blessing, no weapon shall form against me, my dreams now manifestin’.(Boom)” None of his verses are fluff in any way shape or form.
The production is handled by Sorry Jaynari of League of Starz. League of Starz are really the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League of ratchet, keeping the excitement (finger snaps, mean bass lines) but it’s cleaner and more polished than anyone else can make it. Sorry Jaynari carries that tradition forward; no beat has a millisecond that doesn’t make sense.
G Perico, YG, E-40, Nef The Pharoah, OT Genasis, Freddie Gibbs, Mozzy, Ty Dolla Sign, IamSu, and K. Camp all show up and feel perfectly welcome amongst the clean exclamation point west coast thump. My favorite song is up for grabs, it could be Strapped which features a classic West Coast hook and old time Dj Quik groove that G Perico sounds perfect on. AD swings into the track with more swagger than shouting and it all fits perfectly. Tap In could be the best because E-40 lays a MONSTROUS hall of fame guest verse and Nef The Pharoah oozes all over the song with his exceptional crazy talk.
If you were never into the West Coast sound this project is not going to change your mind. The great thing about By The Way is that if you ever did love that sound, you’ll recognize it here but you’ll also recognize that it has changed. These aren’t hyphy songs overloaded to the point of madness; if you listen to the title track you’ll hear…the song is actually pretty sparse for something this hype. It surges forward because AD is a master of ceremony in the entertainer sense; he whips the song into a frenzy while Sorry Jaynari keeps the ship steady so it doesn’t exhaust you as a listener. The combination of unique talents working to highlight opposing strengths gives the project a real identity and listenability; By The Way is another example of the strength and depth of the West right now. AD could have an amazing future but so could any number of the guests on the project who are young lions with their own dope projects out (Ty Dolla Sign, Nef The Pharoah, Mozzy, G Perico) and that is just a sliver of all the talent bubbling.
Energy creates energy.
Stream or Download By The Way now:
Song of The Year-Extradite by Freddie Gibbs featuring Black Thought produced by Mikhail
Rap music is so hopelessly cool that the effect a new star has is inebriating. A new talent comes out of nowhere and changes the world…at least your world. So every critic has their own best-flow-in-the-business candidate and it usually changes every few months. Kevin Gates drops a mixtape & people forget that E-40 is still dope. It always tickles me when people discuss the best flow in the game and don’t mention Freddie Gibbs.
How great is Gibbs? When he first broke critics STRUGGLED for a comparison point. Is this like Bone Thugs? He carries a hook so effortlessly into singing range (on his new album Shadow of A Doubt see the song Careless for an example) but he’s not dedicated to a strict fast flow like Twista or Bone Thug.
Instead Freddie slides up and down the speed range like Johnny Hodges on saxophone sliding up the scale. Shadow of A Doubt showcases his flow in all its forms and at seventeen tracks with limited rap features (at least fifteen of the songs listed stand with Gibbs as the solo rapper) It could have been longer. It’s sleek and hard and better with every listen.
Extradite is Freddie on track with one of the best rappers who ever lived and wanting it to be seen as a competition. He steals the first verse over a timeless beat but Black Thought scorches back in the next and instead of giving his guest one shot and smothering him with follow up verses he comes back does his next verse(even better!) and hands off again. It shows a lot of respect to his guest, he wants to murder this track and Black Thought but wants to do it clean. Obviously no one murders anyone but the outcome of this song is the best lyrical back and forth of the year. Freddie Gibbs is the greatest Gangsta rapper in the world and you know that because he called up a rap feature hall of famer(remember Pun and Black Thought?) and asked if he wanted a new challenge.
The Yellow Album
For proof positive that you are listening to an artist with the potential for pop rap stardom not just hip hop notoriety press play; The Yellow Album sounds like a platinum seller that should be in every Target you step in. An easy to way to judge this is to listen closely at the two highest profile guests: Kendrick Lamar on We Ball and Rick Ross on Gold Alpinas. We Ball is produced by the marvelous Chase N Cashe and sounds exactly like the kind of minimalist piano driven banger TDE generates (this makes sense because a lot of the TDE production team crosses over with Dom’s). Kendrick calmly leads us into his bubbling flow and sizzling bravado. Ross sounds so giddy to be a part of the DrewByrd produced Gold Alpinas that you can almost hear him debating if he’s going to put the song on his next album. The Aaliyah sample leads the song but the drums destroy it.
The Yellow Album would sound great if no one spoke a word on it. DJ Dahi and THC from the TDE camp do a lot of great work crafting beats that grow from a central element feeling instantly resonant. The masterstroke of production is resisting the bad instinct to either overstuff the beat or starve it. It takes a sharp musical mind to know when something is done. Just listen to the swirling hypnotism of 50 Conversations. Put that on and drive somewhere; see if the universe doesn’t fold into itself for six minutes or so.
Lyrically Dom has his chest out more than ever. This is a natural part of dropping successful project after successful project while others flounder. That being said he’s still a goof who says things like “Play this while you sleep so you never have to sleep alone (50 Conversations).” When I say goofy I mean that in a positive way, he always seems earnest especially on lines like “If you happy being you I F$%& with you on the strength (1 25).” He doesn’t have tough songs for the male fans and candles in the moonlight songs for the ladies; it’s all a jumble of what’s in his mind. Even as he raps alongside the Darth Vader of modern gangsta rap , Freddie Gibbs, his thoughts are scattered: from tracing his hip hop lineage from Melle Mel to modern day, to women on cocaine, and people in jail. Gibbs comes on the track like a shark with a laser attached; focused and mean. All the greatest lyricists rap alongside Dom cause 1. he isn’t afraid to talk about something straight up true but often unmentioned or goofy 2. he will never play the trying to kill you on the song game where he adds supplemental verses to dwarf yours. This is a dude who ends his biggest most pop friendly album with a track called P H (meaning peace and happiness) where he chuckles while saying “I be counting all this cash I get….shout out to my baby mama…cause she be paying half the rent!”
None of the old laws of hip hop seem to apply to Dom Kennedy. The thing I like is that he’s always smart enough to obey the old ones that make sense for him.
I can’t find the flippin’ audiomack link I found before so BOOM!
stream or download The Yellow Album via DJ BOOTH
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Tagged audiomack, Chase N Cashe, DJ Booth, Dj Dahi, Dom Kennedy, Drewbyrd, Freddie Gibbs, Gold Alpinas, hip hop, Kendrick Lamar, Melle Mell, mixtape reviews, Rick Ross, TDE, THC, The Yellow Album, west coast hip hop
Mixtape Review-Bittersweet Victory by Noelz Vedere
So a really long and interesting Wiz Khalifa mixtape drops (28 Grams) that redefines his persona yet again, Gucci Mane sends out his best mixtape in months (Brick Factory) and I’m talking about Noelz Vedere. When the music was all in one massive playlist my very first reaction was…who the F is this kid?
Bittersweet Victory is a ten song laser melting everything around it. Like a robbery it takes over your whole world and then leaves, the difference is your not missing anything in fact you’ve gained. As robberies go the take only needs to get split 2 ways: our linguistic contortionist narrator and Alex Isaak who is on a mission to blow your speakers. Let Me Burn is when they kick in the door; the bass as pulverizing as Noelz take no prisoners verse construction (dude rhymes bone marrow with Pharaoh). After the lauding of personal abilities Noelz slides some very rewindable lines into songs like Bittersweet “What’s celebration that comes with worse vendettas?” He manages to deconstruct the infamous Chicago violence and death in a very personal way that never turns preachy.
Vedere and Isaak never give you time to settle. As furious as Let Me Burn is Blackout takes it to another level; Alex puts together a ratchet feeling glow stick dancing backdrop that would make DJ Mustard smile while Noelz spits like he’s in a rap battle with the song finding time to call himself a light skinned Danny Glover. If you are waiting for the slow song this ain’t it.
How many people would Freddie Gibbs jump on a track for and not try to murder? On the song Out of Focus Gibbs waits until Noelz is done blacking out into his verses to add his trademark melodic sneer of a hook. Does any bigger co-sign exist? Jay might co-sign you but he gave a hearty thumbs up to Lady Sovereign and she was just awful. Freddie Gibbs doesn’t just hate Young Jeezy he hates sunshine, youtube clips of kittens eating ice cream and the feeling of laundry right out of the drier. This is the damn dark lord of gangsta rap giving a thumbs up to a young prospect I’d never heard of. That’s a great sign. Gibbs isn’t the only important guest by the way Sir Michael Rocks comes by on High Class and continues his crusade for 2014 guest verse MVP.
It’s all the tracks that just get eaten and digested with a battle rappers mentality that make songs like So Blessed a fresh counterpoint and not cheesy or overboard. You can hear Noelz voice amidst the kids in the chorus and feel him shedding layers of mounting frustration. As much as Garden of Eden stews in debt, death, and sin that beat break and chorus make it irresistible and in spite of itself…joyous.
Bittersweet Victory is so compact and moves so fast that it doesn’t have time for flaws. It puts each song in a shot glass and you just take it. After the last track, Fallen Soldiers, spirals down its own confusion and anguish to its end point you have to assess what your left with; a fiery introduction with a lot of potential behind it. I don’t think this is the Noelz Vedere masterpiece I think it’s just a start. As long as he sticks with Alex Isaak Chicago might have another major name on its hands. If it doesn’t it certainly has another dope MC on its hands.
Stream or Download Bittersweet Victory below:
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Tagged Alex Isaak, Alex Isaak Chicago, Bittersweet Victory, Chicago Hip Hop, dopeness, fakeshoredrive, Freddie Gibbs, Freddie Gibbs hates the feel of fresh laundry, Gucci Mane, mixtape review, Noelz, Noelz Vedere, Wiz Khalifa
Song of The Year-Knicks by Freddie Gibbs produced by Madlib
When the full album collaboration between these two forces was announced some aspects of it were certain. The lyrics were going to be tough. Gibbs has a range of toughness that runs anywhere from Rambo going back in Vietnam to win it himself to Carlito Brigante narrating from a leather jacket about how the worlds changed while walking in the rain. The lyrics fall somewhere in between on their album Piñata with Madlib being the true wildcard. Instead of throwing the oddest collection of acid jazz and obscure funk samples behind Gibbs, Madlib makes everything feel dusty and soulful which serves well in amplifying the spotlight on Gibbs natural anger and fascinating flow (even if it does partially sedate the listening experience).
While Piñata is a true underground album that sneers at the very concept of “hits” or “stand alone singles” Knicks is my favorite sports song in years. It directly follows a song dedicated to the Lakers that’s joyously about their winning history, hot California girls and Magic Johnson owning the Dodgers. Once Lakers stops and Knicks begin the tone change is like stepping into a freezer. The sample sweetly calls and Freddie is watching Jordan carve up the Knicks (or later on watching Lebron do the same thing) within forty three seconds he’s shooting up someone’s home. He seethes with thoughts of revenge for dead friends. While the Lakers song is all celebratory, the Knicks song is all cold hard anger a perfect backdrop for the team with the biggest spotlight and the worst record at utilizing it. By the end of it he actually just starts laughing at the Knicks for all their losses in the Jordan era (Bulls fans old enough to remember Jordan are ALL like this. Terrible to be around like I would be if my sister became president and I did nothing but brag about it forever after. Great team, great fans…just saying…).
Piñata is a weird album. Not better than Gibbs scalding Man on Fire style Jeezy revenge album ESGN from last year but better and better with repeated listens. It’s an album you just need and a song like this is right at its beating pulse.
Mixtape Review-King Chip-44108
Who is King Chip? He’s the sound coming through the weed smoke in fleets of Fleetwoods, the head nodding stimuli in clusters of Caddy’s all throughout the Midwest. Before his new mixtape 44108 came out I felt like it was going to be important. I was nervous.
Chip is not one of those “flood the market” dudes. He releases long conscientiously assembled mixtapes and he’s been getting better with each one. This strategy requires a lot of patience and patience necessitates forethought which always pays off.
Named after the zip code for his hometown Cleveland, Ohio 44108 is filled with a diverse array of shocking moments. A couple tougher than beef jerky Lex Luger tracks that Chip chews through (Stand Up King and Its Real w/ Fat Trel), smash hits that could dominate the radio (Another You w/ Tony Williams and Kanye West or Vortex w/ Kid Cudi and Pusha T) and shocking hardcore. A N Shot Me feels like early Ice T hardcore story-song, Police in The Trunk has Chip wrapping a police officer up in a blanket and throwing him in the trunk. 44108 has tough music in abundance; sometimes the tracks are stylized mayhem like Thornhill Dr. but the most shocking moments are genuine parts of Chip confessional. Whenever a song begins “My N’s own father shot him in the stomach like four times, he took a step back looked his pops in the eyes and he survived (B*%^ A$$ World),” the artist has your total attention. Chip’s pen is mightier than it has ever been.
The biggest development in Chip is that 44108 is chock full of quotable verse that not only feel necessary but essential. I’m not talking about profound digressions about the world I’m talking about laugh out loud stuff like “I told her to save my name as Shaft, Long in her damn phone,” from Another You or “please excuse my bluntness, oh you don’t smoke…well scuse my blunt B#$%” from Stand Up King. He’s always had the ability to create a vibe in his music that carries it (I’ve always associated this with his close connection to Kid Cudi) and still does on tracks that meander at a gorgeous pace like Actavis but this time he’s rapping on a different level. I’m talking about song of the year candidate If I Die Today where he spits alongside MJG and Scarface(MJG says when he dies bury him in the liquor store)…and holds his own. 44108 see’s King Chip rap alongside Pusha T, Layzie Bone, Fat Trel, Freddie Gibbs, GLC, Travi$ Scott and never once get outshined.
That’s not his greatest accomplishment. He gets great features and great production and really always has. BLK On BLK is one of the best Cardo beats I’ve heard in two years and its suitably bookended with beats from top producers but Chip owns them. He blasts through ever verse, every hook like this is his shot. 44108 proves that King Chip doesn’t really need any gimmicks or proper timing to climb the ladder. He’s climbing it regardless.
stream or download 44108 below: