Tag Archives: Hazebanga

Hivemind and the open expanse of R&B in 2018

Hivemind and the open expanse of R&B in 2018

by Dan-O

I’m old and from Maine. In my high school I got made fun of for loving R&B music. My discman went everywhere with me so when people discovered I was listening to Smokey and The Miracles they would clown me. It’s interesting to think that the kids in dirty Red Sox hats and highwater jeans were probably listening to rock bands influenced by Motown while mocking me.  When people asked if I liked Rap best (because of how I dressed) I would always rebuke with something to the effect of “I love The Blues and rap is just an extension of it.” Fast forwarding to today it looks like R & B won.

Just look at the grammy nominations for R & B v. Rock. Last two years rock nominees are still Weezer, Queens of The Stone Age, Metallica, Panic! At the Disco old names and the new ones (looking at you War On Drugs) are mad boring. R&B album nominees from that period definitely still include seasoned veterans like Mya, Mint Condition, and Bruno Mars but so many new names over the last three years especially: Daniel Caesar, BJ The Chicago Kid, Jazmine Sullivan, Andra Day, Leon Bridges. I understand we live in a society where you’ll look at that list and say “What do you mean BJ is new?! He had a hot mixtape back in 2009!” What was he doing when Queens of The Stone Age made their first appearance in 1997? Or Metallica first made noise?  War On Drugs, that hot new band I was talking about, have been releasing albums together since 2008(they are the youngest band of that list I gave). In rock years that makes them babies. This is only part of the problem for a genre that has never felt more static.

The Internet (the group) is a wonderful example of the expanded space within the genre. Last year The Internet’s lead singer SYD released two solo projects: her full LP Fin and an EP Always Never Home.  SYD herself said she was just using these projects to flush out fun ideas. Some of the tracks on Fin are self produced others by fellow bandmate Steve Lacy but someone knew it was going to be major because HazeBanga and Hit-Boy don’t gift everyone a beat. Solo Syd is polished urban contemporary, radio ready, sleek lyrical. When she went back to working with The Internet they created Hivemind  which is chunkier, with organic drum and bass, timeless melodies that could have been from any era. The drumming is so exciting on Hivemind I immediately looked up who played it…well its Syd again. The same whispering ghost who haunted tense songs like Bad Dreams/No Looking Back in 2017 decided to smash the drums and form a song around it on Bravo. Some songs on the new album sound like a continuation of the super group Lucy Pearl (La Di Da) others like Aaliyah heading up The Roots (Wanna Be) and as free as it is it holds together. Syd writes songs with heart and vivid detail just outside of the range of people with simpler vision. She can make you live in the moment with her and feel it.

Name a new Rock band who can do that? If I’m wrong that R &B gives you more options while rock locks you into an old template what is the reason for our reality? My bias acknowledged and aside why are people with no understanding or affection for the genre forced to bask in the work of people like SZA and The Internet? Rock needs to find some space to grow and I don’t know where that is.


Bad Dream/No Looking Back from Always Never Home:

Bravo from Hivemind




Audio Push and the soft resurgence of Native Tongues cool consciousness

Audio Push and the soft resurgence of Native Tongues cool consciousness

by Dan-O

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:


Audio Push cover

Mixtape Review-Come As You Are by Audio Push

Mixtape Review-Come As You Are by Audio Push

by Dan-O

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: