Tag Archives: Mello Music Group

Song of The Year-Wolf Mode by Chris Rivers

Song of The Year-Wolf Mode by Chris Rivers

by Dan-O

When talking about Noname a friend of mine made the argument that while her follow up album was very good(Room 25), she will likely spend her career measured against the song Casket Pretty from her first album (Telefone). This isn’t about producing an insurmountable hit. Casket Pretty is a hushed poetic eulogy to all the people who shouldn’t have had to die. It’s succinct, dynamic, and gripping. That song will be something a lot of people never ever forget and when her name comes up that song will be the first reply.

I mention this to say Wolf Mode is that song for Chris Rivers. His whole career has been building to it. Wolf Mode is what makes hip hop more than a financially successful genre it can act as a method of group therapy. He combines multi-speed raw flow excellence with an ease in discussing mental illness that few have. He chides someone for never giving love unconditionally and then hopes they die, and pretty immediately admits he has attempted suicide. This isn’t a sad song where the piano helps us cry with him. This is a bass heavy chant about how tough are skin needs to be, how the trials we have been through have built us scar and scab by scar and scab. With under a minute to go Chris double times “I’d rather have the hard truth than a sweet lie because the hard truth still apply to me…” and he’s nailed it. The gorgeous glimmering jewel that sits in the genres heart. This space is where you can tell it how it really is. The Jonas boys make fun music but you’ll never know if they battled sobriety.

I remember watching the documentary and seeing Big Pun hit his wife with a gun while a room of his associates bowed their head and said nothing. This is the guy who gave me the best hip hop album of all time(Capital Punishment, no arguments). As Rivers came up I always wanted to ask him how he balances those contradicting ends of his fathers legacy. This many years later to have his son spitting about self love and forgiveness, mistakes and how the deep scars mean the most has been therapeutic for me. I’m sure many have “canceled” Pun based on the documentary but River’s new album G.I.T.U. makes an important case that a person with a good heart can fix themselves if they have the time. Pun was robbed of that. I’m so glad Chris hasn’t been.

Stream or download G.I.T.U. below:

https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/album/g-i-t-u

 

#MarkTheDate-May The Super MC Super Producer Full Album Never Die

#MarkTheDate-May The Super MC Super Producer Full Album Never Die

by Dan-O

Two very important albums by legendary producer-rapper pairings have been announced. Both are scheduled to come out soon but not soon enough. Both are coming out on Mello Music Group who tomorrow will release an album by Big Pun’s son Chris Rivers.  #MarkTheDate is designed to keep you, dear reader, abreast of dope albums coming out in the future that aren’t from the 1%ers who can afford an expensive ad campaign.

Complicate Your Life With Violence by L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae

The first album by these two is called The Night Took Us In Like Family and it is probably the best Mello Music Group album not by Open Mike Eagle. This time around the single, Dead Battery, hints at the team building on what was so good the first time. The bass is mean. The soul in this soul music is the kind that makes you screwface, that dark energy. Jeremiah Jae locks in with his easy semi-monotone flow. He says unexpected things “bring honor to the name while marching through the flames” but boy does he know how to threaten and all of it swims together because his flow is so easy. Meanwhile, L’Orange chops the song in sections inserting old movie clips, subtle and not-subtle beat switches that knock you out of any comfort zone. Trust me it doesn’t matter if anyone features on this album. These two are thorough they don’t just make great songs. They make great album covers great album titles great track sequencing so just strap in. This comes out October fourth so go to the bandcamp link below and check out Dead Battery. Add this to your list.

https://lorange360.bandcamp.com/album/complicate-your-life-with-violence

Retropolitan by Skyzoo & Pete Rock

I need not speak of Pete Rock. He is not just a Mt. Rushmore hip hop producer he is one of the lasts Golden era producers still throwing HEAT with his beats(don’t ask me to throw others under the bus who aren’t). The first review I did of Skyzoo I compared him to CL Smooth. It is amazing to see him link up with Pete Rock. Skyzoo is lyrically dense but in no way pretentious. This is why the track Eastern Conference All Stars on their new album Retropolitan features the thoughtful Detroit wordsmith Elzhi alongside the Griselda boys(Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, Westside Gunn) who are known for hard nosed NY Goon rap on steroids. Listen to the single, It’s All Good, for proof of why so many have so much respect for Skyzoo. It is about duffle bags fitted caps and boobs but it is poetry.  At this stage in his career he knows himself so well. He chuckles and says he looks like he ghostwrites and then starts talking about how his son is old enough to use the potty now. When you believe in your abilities amazing things can happen. Having the rich sparkling twinkle of Pete F$%*ing Rock doesn’t ever hurt. September 20th is when this gets released so mark that on your calendar digital or analog. Go to the bandcamp link below and listen to the single, It’s All Good.

 

https://mmg-skyzoo.bandcamp.com/album/retropolitan

P.S. Shout out to Pete Rock and another classic producer hero of mine DJ Muggs who have really embraced the new NY underground talent. Pete did an incredible album with Smoke Dza and Muggs is all over it working with Roc Marciano, Crimeapple, and Mach Hommy. Some old heads fall out of the now while Muggs/Rock have always been about the music. They always find something to like even if the beach has a lot of trash strewn on the sand.

 

#Bandcampgold-Albums I Bought from The Mello Music Group sale

#Bandcampgold-Albums I Bought from The Mello Music Group sale

by Dan-O

My favorite underground label in the world had a sale. I was notified that every album they had put out was available on Bandcamp for $4.99. I cracked my knuckles and started surfing, sampling, adding the interesting albums to my cart. I love rap music and I am cheap so I had to filter people out. Now the obvious artist to jump on would be Open Mike Eagle who has a string of critically released albums. I already bought his entire discography last year so I am all caught up on Mike. These are the albums I had either not heard or fully attended but once I locked in on them I fell hard for. Here is what I ended up purchasing.

Portraits by Chris Orrick

Portraits is truly dynamic in its level of poetic frustration. The cover photo makes it clear this is an MC who has been doing this for so long so hard that it has taken its toll, everything has.  The title track opens on thirty six seconds of Nolan The Ninjas beat which grooves with thick drums and horns feeling like a Jazzmatazz song.  This is the sonic world of Orrick who makes no apologies for what he likes to sound like. No trap experimentations necessary he needs Exile, Apollo Brown, Onra and a few others to weave a boom bap that leaves room for his intensity over top. Jealous of The Sun is a great example of how hard his pen goes. The first verse is an immense bummer about how the world is in terrible shape. The second is one of the most scathing indictments of Trump you’ll hear in rap and if that wasn’t enough the outro is a frighteningly apt analogy.

‘And there’s no one to tell us where to run
The day the people of earth got jealous of the sun
Looked up in the sky, filled the air with gas
Lit a match
Said “We are not to be outdone!’

 

If you go to Genius.com Chris gave a real good breakdown of what this song means. This is not a political album that is just the intensity he puts in any subject. Design Flaw is all about accepting how terrible you feel along with what is wrong with you and the L’Orange beat is propulsive while tailor made for Orrick. I will talk more about L’Orange later.  I love Portraits and I want you to love it but be prepared for the ride. Sometimes he’s talking about how much he loves his cat other times he’s blaming Obama for cleaning exhaust to the point where it’s harder to kill himself. The first lines in Escape Plan are “I went to sleep a fifth deep one night when I was twenty-three/Woke up sober, hungover, age of twenty-nine” he’s so honest and so poetically exhausted that anyone who has a connection to those feelings will find a connection to this album.

Stream or buy  Portraits below:

https://chrisorrickraps.bandcamp.com/album/portraits

No Question by Locksmith & Apollo Brown

Locksmith is so real I feel like I know the dude. I have been listening and reviewing him for at least five years (all hail The Green Box) and he is one of those rare dudes who leverages his intellectual strength to not just lash out at the system but GUT HIMSELF. Apollo Brown is an old soul NY hip hop minimalist and the resonant quiet of what he does just took Lock to a deeper place. While the album serves as a declaration that these two are not down with the new trends it lands a dizzying amount of profound statements.  Second verse first song (Advice For My Younger Self).

“And I tell you, never play it safe and never settle for second
Never hesitate, not even just for a second
Never second guess, if you say it then manifest it
But be careful who you say it to, some people will try to test it
If you think, use reflection, have sex then use protection
If you meet a girl and don’t, then make sure you have a connection
If she keeps it then you’re stuck with that woman, don’t wanna hear it
If she doesn’t then the guilt you’ll feel later will kill your spirit
Make sure you earn some money but money is not your god
Just a means to purchase things, put family before your job
Put God before your family and love before your lust
Protect yourself at all times, put truth before trust
Never fuss with ignorant folks, actions are much louder
You retreat to keep the peace, that does not make you a coward
If you focus on you, you can never go and unfelt
Not a lecture, just a lesson I give to my younger self”

If this was a Big Sean verse the internet would lose its damn mind. Truth is this is just what Locksmith gives you. He ends the industry tirade Litmus with “I’ve been prosecuted and profited from/ Now I just watch with an understanding and stand in my spot ’till it’s done.” My wife really likes this album, it’s not that my wife notes and parses all the meanings and double meanings in rapper verses but when she catches a line she wants to make sure it’s not dumb.  When Locksmith is spitting she can nod her head enjoy the twinkling piano keys on Slow Down and the buttery chorus or she can listen to Locksmith explain (what I have always said) that love is not a gamble but an investment. Whether she listens hard or doesn’t she knows that Locksmith is pounding on every second of No Question so that no one can accuse him of wasting an Apollo Brown beat. This one isn’t fighting for album of the year its right in the pocket of old friend you’ll wear out status.

Stream or buy No Question below:

https://apollobrown360.bandcamp.com/album/no-question

The Night Took Us In Like Family

By L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae

During this process I fell in love with L’Orange and his experimental disjointed and sometimes fractured take on classic hip hop sounds. His collaboration with Marlowe is great, his solo album The Ordinary Man goes hard.  Nothing tickles me like The Night Took Us In Like Family which is his collaboration with Jeremiah Jae. Jae is the perfect orator for a L’Orange beat he raps with a seething calm, the kind born from the anger bubbling when you realize that the world is against you. When the world turns on you some people fold (and that makes sense) others just sneer and think about how amusing it will be when they turn the tables. Jae goes bar after bar on Ice Obsidian which is only one minute and fifty two seconds but is so complete. He always finishes his thoughts no matter how much time L’Orange gives him no matter how oddly syncopated the beat is. Once the microphone is on he steps into things makes it his story.  Listen to how he starts Underworld “Sometimes I feel that the world is going under/ sky full of clouds all I hear is thunder./ Sometimes I feel like somebodies always watching/ waiting for the fall any chance they can hop in.”  One of the oldest tricks in spoken word was if you got on stage and the crowd is still chatty not paying attention put your face to the mic just start the piece don’t yell. Keep your voice low and conversational, whisper it and they will know to stop to listen. The Night Took Us In Like Family is chopped into bits equal parts song, intermission, and everything is perfectly cohesive. Every bit of violence described has a foundation laid around it so the Gangsta Rap aspect of it is never Rambo and always The Wire. With its seamlessness and dynamic shimmer bursting with casual confidence this one is my very favorite.

Stream or buy The Night Took Us In Like Family below:

https://lorange360.bandcamp.com/album/the-night-took-us-in-like-family

Here is the general link for Mello Music Group’s Bandcamp:

https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/

Song of The Year-Very Much Money (Ice King Dream) by Open Mike Eagle produced by Ultra Combo

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Song of The Year-Very Much Money (Ice King Dream) by Open Mike Eagle produced by Ultra Combo

by Dan-O

You can move mountains you can be the most interesting man in the world but if you’re broke it doesn’t really matter. That’s how it feels anyway, and this song articulates that feeling in a transcendent way. It comes off of Open Mike Eagle’s new album Dark Comedy which is full of glum circumstances, acute observation and absurdity in equal parts. This is certainly not the only great song from it as Qualifiers demands playlist addition and Doug Stamper with Hannibal Buress as guest star is proudly pleasurable.

This is one of the best songs this year because it resonates beyond its parts. Ultra Combo gives the song an uncanny hypnotic quality increased exponentially by Eagle’s tender tones. Dark Comedy is the only title Eagle could give the collection this comes out of. He sings earnestly that his friends “Some of them talk to the animals none of it matters when N’s was hungry.” The hilarious image of the sculptors who speak Portuguese and talk to the animals is bound up in the tangled tragic web of the deadly 0 balance our checking accounts always feel so close to touching.

The swirling can’t take your eyes off it condition of the beat mixed with the delicate and damn near heartfelt delivery of the melody make this something that feels like the unforgiving truth and as funny as it is it feels dead ass serious. Other times you catch the Prometheus line just right and shake your head and smile.

Stream the song below:

http://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/track/very-much-money-ice-king-dream