Tag Archives: review

#BandcampGold-Scapegoat by KGFREEZE

#BandcampGold-Scapegoat by KGFREEZE

by Dan-O

As someone who is fanatical for music I do not resent the layer on the outside of the onion of interest. The layer on the outside is composed of folks who just like songs going behind them: they don’t know the artists, album, and producer and that’s a valid way to live. The layer underneath them is the problem. The poacher who checks pitchfork and follows up only to find “classics” to brag about. Beyond how annoying the condescending “Have you heard __” conversation is, it puts pressure on artists to always seek perfection which is not how art works.

The poacher robs the process of transitions.

The new KGFREEZE project Scapegoat is a perfect example of this. It is the slimy nerve-racking birth of something new not the last sanding away of rough edges. The Freeze has always been the name Kyle Gervais created for his own solo career; the players rotate underneath him while he pushes furiously in different directions. His will and vision was always centerstage but like any good coach he plays to the strength of the team he has at the time. Now is definitely the time for his new line up.

The components have vastly changed and Scapegoat is a project of adjustments and experiments. It was recorded live in a warehouse with very little tweaking.  Chris Gervais comes on as drummer and brings palpitating new wave urgency to every second of his play. Chris likes it loud and once Nate Carll was brought in they were able to go to new places within the term. Nate worked with Kyle in the band Cosades back when Iphone was how Tarzan asked to make a call. I met Nate Carll once and he was so normal it was shocking but the scary part is how potent his guitar wizardry is.  Of the ten songs on Scapegoat On The Hill is his baby from foot to teeth and it is gorgeous. Very few people are allowed to take up Kyle’s authorship space on a KGFREEZE album and On The Hill shows you why Kyle has the faith he has in Nate. It rolls around in guitar noise until the noise takes on shape, form and a light dance. Kyle comes in with his most delicate vocal delivery of the project and for two minutes and nineteen seconds it is a different world from any KGFREEZE song before it. It is indicative of the sweet to savage and back again Siamese Dream-ness of the new Freeze; the ability to get crazy while promising never to lose melodic focus.

Sanks is the most recognizably Kyle song on here and has an absolutely fantastic chorus. The title track fits well within the heard Freeze-verse but not everything on the project works as well. On the con side of this experiment Seyton is a novelty exploration of Pantera screaming and hard rock that the band is just not going to explore. It is a thing they wanted to do and did but doesn’t have any legs to it. Bark For Me, Tom is an infidelity concept song that doesn’t have enough lyrical bite to make up for how bland it sounds compared to the punchier songs.

The punchier songs are the real building blocks for this group. They could go a bunch of directions. My favorite songs are Connection and Insanity both a little over a minute long and indicative of this groups ability to actually give us a polished Costello style Get Happy; something that showcases short electric elegantly constructed songs in great number. They could push the volume and the guitar hero riffs of songs like Freeway of Drugs and see how large and anthemic they could make a full polished project.  Either way they should not record like this again. It was a great way to showcase the difference in loudness, force his audience to buy better headphones, but in the future vocal overdubs will help Kyle’s voice stay comfortably over the sea of sound.  This is not the album poachers will brag about but it could be signifying one is on the horizon.

Stream or Download Scapegoat below:




Song of The Year-Extradite by Freddie Gibbs featuring Black Thought produced by Mikhail

Song of The Year-Extradite by Freddie Gibbs featuring Black Thought produced by Mikhail

by Dan-O

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.

Mixtape Review-Stalley-Honest Cowboy

Mixtape Review-Stalley-Honest Cowboy

by Dan-O

Picture rap music as a classroom containing all the personalities we are familiar with. The pretty boy who writes poetry in his free time, the goon who picks a fight every few days just to feel healthy, the smart kid everyone copies off of, the trashy chick the guys pretend not to like…and that dude in the back who barely talks to anyone. He keeps his head in his notebook and draws cars, lightning bolts, anything to pass the time. That dude is Stalley.

If you listen to his new mixtape Honest Cowboy you can hear how separated he feels from everyone else. Someone pointed out to Stalley on twitter that all his dreams of wealth end up with him alone in a peaceful location. He laughed but the point is not just apt, it’s central to Honest Cowboy. As he says “Made money from being honest and these fake N’s hate it, that a real N made it, offa no favors now I’m in a farmhouse far out with no neighbors,” on the triumphant Samson (which reunites Stalley with his soul mate producer Rashad) you can’t help but be struck by how unique the image is. What rapper brags about being on a farmhouse or having no neighbors? How many times have you heard obscene nonsense brags from rappers to the effect of NOW CALIGULA IS MY NEIGHBOR! Stalley wants a life outside of rap and to be left alone; in a lot of ways this is what characterizes his relationship with the critics and fans. Everyone knows he doesn’t fit and even more important than that everyone knows he doesn’t want to fit.

As well as his tribute to Big Moe and the Houston sound on Swangin’ goes he’s not Big Krit. It wouldn’t make sense for Stalley to place himself as a UGK descendent because his Blue Collar Gang mentality doesn’t allow him to fully floss on tracks. Speaking of Swangin’ it features an engaging verse from Scarface. On a track designed as Stalley’s tribute to Houston hip hop (produced by the Block Beataz) Scarface laces a pointed perspective on the early days and how things have changed, how the sound has spread.

As an author Stalley is smart enough to go “conscious” and elements of militancy pop up, as on Long Way Down (also on Raise Your Weapons) “Black mask black gloves a hood terrorist intelligent psychopaths the worlds scared of us, the skin of a million slaves…” but they are interspersed. Stalley doesn’t want to be the kid the teacher always looks for to give the answers to the class. I want to be clear I like this mixtape a great deal, it’s riding music with a ton of personal post script. Every beat is gorgeous, especially the amazing Cardo and Dj Quik piano construction Spaceships and Woodgrain, Stalley is in an elite class of beat picking. Whether it’s Block Beataz, Rashad, Black Diamond, or Soundtrakk he’ll make sure it rattles your trunk. I haven’t heard a bad beat on a Stalley project and Honest Cowboy won’t give you one.

So the question for him is always, where is his head at? This is his most honest record. The moment when he says “I came for the money and not for the fame,” on Feel The Bass is a memo to all of us. Not long after that rhyme he’s riding alone in his vehicle inviting his audience to follow him home but watch from a distance. Anyone who tells you he doesn’t fit on Maybach as an artist is totally missing the point. He’s one of the most remarkable X-factors in rap, isn’t it possible that the more he doesn’t fit…the better he will get?

Stream or Download Honest Cowboy below: