Tag Archives: Joey Creates

Do Not Let 2018 Go By Without Hearing These Albums

Do Not Let 2018 Go By Without Hearing These Albums

by Dan-O

Niko Is- Uniko

It’s crazy to think I’ve been growing alongside Niko Is for at least six years. When I found him I had just gotten into Brazilian Soul & Salsa music. The combination of that with bread and butter boom bap basslines all provided by his partner behind the boards Thanks Joey (Joey Creates) really drew me in. On top of that Niko Is happens to be a twisted dude. One of these guys who can rap for hours off the top of his head because within his head is chaos. On this album alone he claims to get his rhymes from a Ouija Board and to be the  Raoul Duke of the rap game. Look up Raoul Duke and you’ll understand Niko Is a lot better. He’s a trip.

Turns out he made a video that articulates how weird he is.

 

Uniko is a coming together of everything the two have learned. Joey has figured out how to take seventeen songs and link the songs so that the transition from Meet Me In The Future to Silk is a gentle glide. He still gets to utilize different moods No Sleep and 3rd World $$$ are semi-traditional rap beats while Mental Abstracto Interlude is Congas, wind instruments, and dolphin sounds. My favorite moment is U Could Be My Gal which my wife asked me to change when I played it in the car. I defended the song by ranting about how, for a hitting on you song, it was positively hypnotizing. She held my gaze and said “It’s great and it is hypnotizing that’s why I need it not playing while I drive.”

The growth for our emcee is not strictly bar to bar. He’s always been a talent; he goes with Talib Kweli to do interviews and busts impressive freestyles all over the hip hop landscape. That is his life’s work. What he’s been able to do in Uniko is make better use of the sonic pace. He lets tracks breathe in the right places, let’s his guests take the stage, knowing he will have more than enough time to monster out on songs. One of the songs he does this on is Focused Maaan where he says “I’m from the old generation where we base it on our own creation.” Very few people love hip hop more and Niko Is knows that while other rappers will get hotter quicker than him he’s got a life in this world. Look at the two biggest name features(I do not count Kweli because that relationship is established) on Uniko: Styles P and Curren$y both known for consistent lyrical content over a long period of time, not gamblers but craftsman. I’m so happy Kweli has put him in the position to share rooms with these cats. He deserves it.

Kodie Shane-Young Heartthrob

The worst thing to be in rap is the present. Ask Kirk Knight. He’s an incredibly talented NY rapper who released an album named liwii that sounded perfectly 2018 but guess what…I’ve got 2018 up to my ears. In rap you are better off sounding like the past or the future. If you can take the mental image people have of what they loved about the genre and give it to them twisted with new elements you have a place. If you go the other way and sound like the evolution of what will happen you’re in an equally good spot. Kodie Shane’s Young Heartthrob album is the future.

I’ve been calling Young Heartthrob lesbian player music for shorthand’s sake. Shane has worked hard on breaking down the formal walls around hip hop song structure. The separation between chorus and verse is fuzzy because she is very nimble when stepping between singing and rapping and imminently capable of mixing the two. Her duet with Trippie Redd makes perfect sense and really plays into the best skills both possess.

New school production with 808’s popping, slick singing and mostly clean verses despite an F word here and there. I put this album on while my five year old son and I played basketball. We both had fun and before I knew it we were most of the way through the album. I can play Young Heartthrob around anyone and they just get it. Kodie Shane presents an incredibly easy listen that never attempts to impress you with sharp edges. It has real stand out songs like Sing To Her, Flex On Me, Love & Drugz II my hunch is that while she might not get a ton of press people are studying this sound and a year or two from now someone will dominate the charts doing a whack variation of what makes Young Heartthrob great. It won’t put a dent on the bright future Shane has.

Check out the future

Locksmith-Ali

Locksmith would be my runner up lyricist of 2018. His album No Question with Apollo Brown was something I came back to over and over again when big name projects proved plastic. Locksmith guts himself every time he puts pen to paper. That’s actually not accurate. Locksmith’s pen is a grenade that blows everything wide open. He might take himself to task for a previously homophobic state of mind, he might take the genre to task for whining about Kanye but still copping his album, or he might take on celebrity culture, poverty, the whole world can get it.

He pours himself into his second album of 2018 Ali which lets him utilize his speedbag angry flow as a way to stay ahead of his even more hostile mind. I don’t want to give the impression that he is the Lewis Black of rap, he understands pace and mood. The song Tense even flirts with singing but even more importantly it allows him travel inside himself in front of us in a sober serious way. “…I thought love was acceptance. I thought cutting you off was protection. I thought being alone was being strong and never needing a hand was being more of a man, I regret that then.” In a gender study sense Locksmith is a very hard-nosed heterosexual man who is acutely aware of what that macho perspective has cost him.

Every song is dense with meaningful discussion. Everyone should hear Prison to help understand the world better. No Lies is such an amazing song about America. I feel incomplete reviewing Locksmith because to do it accurately I would have to use all my strength to dig out every corner of what he’s saying and then drop it on you. That’s the only way I could match his effort.

Click below and you will know and knowing is half the battle

 

Advertisements

#SpotifyTidalAppleMusicgold-Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Promises by Niko Is

#SpotifyTidalAppleMusicgold-Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Promises by Niko Is

by Dan-O

As dominant as the genre is, it suffers. Post- Kid Cudi it shifted from being a musical form crafted by hustlers and drug dealers to drug addicts going through the crash/rebirth cycle. It reignited things for a while(giving a different perspective) but these aren’t cocaine addicts shouting and twitching this is an era of depressants, codeine in your cup. The music is slow and sleepy and melodic; full of tearful confession thinly masked by anger. It gets old.

On the positive side that dominance is in no small part due to the embrace of weirdness. The thriving oddity of “internet rappers” with funny hair, tight pants and all sorts of nonsensical cadences.   The previous generation was all straight faces and similar brags, a tightly wound culture ready to bust loose.

Niko Is comes armed against the former and abundantly engaged in the latter. He’s been weird since the beginning, certainly on drugs but more inclined towards mushrooms and hallucinations than the slow personal misery of purple (just my reading of the situation through lyrics, I do not know this dude).

On that journey from Brazil to Florida he also seems to have digested loads of Gangstarr, Das Efx, Redman, etc. Even as he dropped a surprise album that begs “You want weird, I’ll give you weird?!” he sets aside a lot of time to whip out his samurai sword flow and clear the area of all living things (example: The Land of Leche &Miel).

Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Promises seems on a mission to shatter the storyline of the typical rap song. My favorite song is Houdini where the chorus comes earlier than you think and bookends with Niko hitting the melody perfectly as it melts into a soul sample.

Niko has a perfect collaborator in Thanks Joey (Joey Creates) who shares a deep love for Brazilian Soul and soul in general while never ever sacrificing the fist-thumping BOOM that impressive basslines and drums give a hip hop song. Just listen to Mundo; where Niko name checks Jeet Kune Do, raps a bit in Spanish, and it really doesn’t matter if you are understanding everything. The bassline is amazing and Niko throws his voice everywhere, delivering every line like it is the all-important last one. It’s because of Joey that this music feels warm and tropical and as weird as Niko makes things it is always stabilized by the lush landscapes he stands in front of. You feel the sun on your face and can almost see the palm trees, all before you realize he just said “The Batman of rap, I need a four foot Asian to tap dance on my back, cause I’m stressed out(Morena).”

Niko has always had a wandering mind; surreal, humorous, sick, and violent. Lyrically I always thought of him as everything you think about… unedited. Niko Is leaning more towards personal and poignant this time around. Leave Another Day is a real front to back story infused with the frustrations of losing a romantic relationship. He laments them being good on paper but not in the present and it’s no joke. The song is actually pretty spooky.

Songs.4.People.Who.Broke.Promises is a marvelous showcase of the experimentation you can indulge in when you prize your fluidity. After all, this is a dude who shined bright right alongside Action Bronson before he was a cooking show star. Even though Niko & the gang stylistically aim to surprise you, they always manage to do it.

Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Promises

apple link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/songs.4.people.who.break.promises/id1136381680

Spotify link:

Tidal store link:

http://tidal.com/us/store/album/63227145

Song of The Year-Private Room by Niko Is produced by Thanks Joey or My Pitch for you to buy the Brutus LP

Song of The Year-Private Room by Niko Is produced by Thanks Joey or My Pitch for you to buy the Brutus LP

by Dan-O

In an ideal world I would go four thousand words deep on the Brutus LP. This being a free music based site I don’t think that would be right but…BUY Brutus. Niko has been cranking out music chock full of jarring images, insane metaphors and left field name checks for years and most of it with his companion Thanks Joey. The two have a collaborative chemistry based around the warmth of soul (Brazilian soul!) and Samba music and the fun of digging deep into the mystery machine of Niko’s mind. They’ve been working on Brutus for years and the wait is the hardest part. Whenever you wait a long time for an album it’s bound to be disappointing; too spot on what you wanted or not at all what the artist should be doing. Brutus by comparison wears the timeless starched and pressed sound of something combed over and refined. It’s the greatest accomplishment the two have and it was worth the wait.

Picking one song to highlight was difficult. The collaborations with other artists are very interesting; Talib Kweli sounds joyful and sharp on Carmen, Cyhi The Prynce fits the chunky soul of Bubba like a glove but Private Room is the best encapsulation of the Joey/Niko sound. Niko is less silly on Brutus (still very silly) and more focused on rapping himself into history. I always think of it as that Reasonable Doubt mindstate; that album is special because you can feel Jay saying “if this is my one shot I’ve got to tell you everything” and this is Niko’s statement. Its Joey’s statement as well; the gentle warmth of the guitar and baseline feel like the source of Niko’s mid tempo flow. The song is so very chill but the most intricately gorgeous chill you’ve heard in rap in years. Every song is a puzzle piece that’s its own puzzle with stuff you didn’t catch the last listen. As much as I walk around my office telling everyone how good these guys are, they always step up and deliver content that makes me feel like I don’t even know how good they can be. They might have a Gangstarr-Moment of Truth level album in their system. Give them time.

1st single

2nd single

3rd single

googleplay will give you long song previews and the option to buy
https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Niko_Is_Brutus?id=Biznvwdiybulsrgfy5vkmcbphbq&hl=en