They call these things mixtapes but we have to pay for them?
Whenever people look at me and say the mixtape doesn’t exist anymore; no difference exists between albums and mixtapes…I have to look at them confused. What do you mean? I know it’s an album because I paid for the thing. This all changed a while ago and now Kendrick Lamar calls my favorite album he ever released a mixtape (Section 80) so I’m forced to roll with this (respecting the artists wishes). A lot of these non-mixtape mixtapes have dropped recently and I wanted to give a quick update on two important projects you need to check out. These are on ITunes and the second is on Amazon for digital purchase.
Erykah Badu-But U Caint Use My Phone
I have had my fair share of Badu-ruining-great-rappers conversations and while it is fun to believe in (like magic or the Electoral College) it is also entirely irrelevant. If Common puts out a bad album I’m not going to act like he was under someone’s spell (I wish I could for UMC) but more importantly Badu has an incredible career of her own. She creates deeply lyrical masterpieces like Mama’s Gun or chant heavy hooky albums like New Amerykah Part One and both kinds work for her. But U Caint Use My Phone is her doing it again, and while most will come for the stellar remake of Hotline Bling (called Cel U Lar Device) or the breathtaking collaboration with Andre 3000 (called Hello) this has a lot of top tier Badu. Phone Down might be my favorite song on the project because somehow without declaring itself vividly sexual the song overflows with it. She sounds assured and calm, so confident in who she is she doesn’t need to shout just give a gentle warning and she has your attention. She not only promises that she can make you put your phone down but have you so bamboozled in her you won’t know how to unlock it.
Yes it’s deeply intelligent in its handling of our communication in the modern age; the separation our constant cell phone use creates between lovers, friends and family but more important than that Erykah Badu is still dope in a year where Missy Elliott and Janet Jackson have proved the same. So it may cost you money to pick this up but you will be supporting one of the really unique voices in the hip hop universe.
Alex Wiley-Village Party 2: Heaven’s Gate
I listened to Village Party everywhere. I don’t mind saying it. I spent all of last year listening to it but never reviewed it. The mixtape just seemed too impossibly atmospheric and different to properly describe. Alex Wiley destroys the wall between bars and hooks and just sways from word to word swimming in the beat. Listening to Alex Wiley is being delightfully inebriated and I’m clearly not the only one loving the experience. When Twista spits hot fire on Japanese he’s audibly taken with the vibe. It’s all vibe and it’s all different, how comforting must that be for an artist who suffered long in hip hop’s underappreciated tier because of how different his music was? Chance the Rapper doesn’t stick out at all on Navigator Truck, this is Wiley’s world and all the offbeat vocalists live here in harmony.
I am in no way saying that Wiley gets over on his chant/singing. If you listen to Play you will find yourself in observance of his slinky style reggae flow where he pounds words one after another until he slows down fading into the bass and the playing children just to emerge dropping bars feverishly. As much as I love to hear any gifted lyricist declare themselves by the force of their lyrics songs like Residual Effects (Shout out to Hippie Sabotage who do GREAT work on Village Party 2) are as hypnotic as those old Cypress Hill weed love songs.
Village Party 2 does what the first did, it takes me out of the world for as long as it’s playing and it probably does a better job than its predecessor. I’ll be honest; I had no qualms paying for this one.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Alex Wiley, Andre 3000, Atmospheric rap, But U Caint Use My Phone, Cel U Lar Device, Chance the Rapper, Erykah Badu, hip hop, Hotline Bling, Mama's Gun, mixtape review, New Amerykah Part One, reviews, Section 80, Twista, Village Party, Village Party 2: Heaven's Gate
Mixtape Review-2K47 by Hurt Everybody
The first few songs in I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like 2K47 or Hurt Everybody because they sounded savagely unhappy and that’s not really how I want to be. By the last few…I was very sure I loved 2K47 and Hurt Everybody. The group consists of three people, the two emcees being Supa Bwe and Carl(Is he really named Carl or did he make up his rap name as Carl? Which is more awesome? Unsure). The producer is Mulatto Beats. You can probably guessed from the group name that this is hostile music and it most definitely is. By the last song (14th) we get the title track and it’s literally the screaming male ego. The brags are chopped up in word chunks and the chorus is a stream of hollered threats and curses. The beat is a robotic squeal that peels away at any level of comfort you’ve gained until by the conclusion you are made so purposefully uncomfortable that its genius (MULATTO BEATS!). It takes real power to create that feeling. Contrast that feeling with track nine (YUNO) where we get the snarling bouncy radio friendly melodic hit they created the repeat option for (produced by FLIGHT!). Yuno is clearly the most fun and awesome thing on 2K47 and that’s saying something.
This project has some of my favorite rappers in the world on it doing great work. Mick Jenkins is fantastic in his two appearances, Social Network (Gang) and Stay Awake, and Alex Wiley is a perfect match for the equal parts angry and odd Computer. As shouting, stomping angry as 2K47 is and as masterful as Hurt Everybody are at using swear words like the Three Musketeers use swords…this isn’t Drill. Stay Awake is way too pimpish (another gold standard guest verse from Twista on this song). The title track and Social Network (Gang) are way too punk rock. Low Light is too wounded and sultry. This doesn’t fit into a genre it feels like a virus released to destroy genres.
Hurt Everybody know what everyone thinks is going to come out of Chicago hip hop. It’s going to be about crime and it’s going to be Chop-like (Chop-esque? Chopish?) production. They are playing Battleship with your expectations, hiding the parts you think you know and hitting you in the face with a bunch of different sounding songs. Some are bass and sample gorgeous (Before The War) with polished soulful chorus but others are angry shouting or monotone chanting (White Owl). They overflow with energy and enthusiasm and it takes you over.
After listening to 2K47 enough you start to wonder if this is the kind of group…if they broke BIG and everyone loved them…would they completely shift into doing something else? The music is rowdy, unsettled and eating everything surrounding it. I have to think that’s why all these artists came to feature and be a part of it. 2K47 isn’t the kind of listen that comes with a set of rules, just a seatbelt.
Stream or Download 2K47 below:
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 2015 mixtapes, 2K47, @longlivecarl, Alex Wiley, Carl, chicago drill scene, Chicago Hip Hop, Hurt Everybody, Mulatto Beats, punk rap, Supa Bwe, Twista, Yung Carl Pimp Maybe
Chance the Rapper-Acid Rap mixtape review
Acid Rap is a startling first listen. I guess the prerequisite is being able to enjoy the playfully childish nasally delivery Chance the Rapper brings to every song. If you do, every verse comes out as an amorphous blob that seems like it could end and become a chorus at any time. The power in the project is that feeling of the unexpected hanging over every moment of every song. He rhymes words with each other like a juggler adding more balls, like AZ circa Do or Die. The difference is that AZ was going in on street life from a D-Boy perspective. The lyrics Chance puts up on Acid Rap are a mixture of scattered and personal, “Wore my feelings on my sleeveless, my weed seedless, my tree’s leafless. I miss my diagonal grilled cheeses, and back when Mike Jackson was still Jesus (Acid Rain).” On the same song he says “Lately my verses seem not so versey.” Acid Rap is very conscious of how different it is, how new this is not only for Chance but for the listener who is used to the 16 than the hook.
After the first listen I remember thinking “I can’t believe I got this for free.” If you google reviews for Acid Rap you are entering a realm of overwhelming praise. This is a 19 year old rapper who shows enough skill on this mixtape alone to be considered a top tier lyricist. A lot of critics have made Kendrick Lamar comparisons and while Chance is the closest (outside of Ab-Soul) to master that fluid Bruce Lee flow, the differences are important. Kendrick wants to speak for a generation, Chance wants to speak for himself and make fun music. He doesn’t exist as an anti-trap or drill figurehead. He doesn’t just shout out Fat Trel and others on Acid Rap he tweets Waka Flocka lyrics cause he honestly likes them. As great as his previous mixtape 10day was it was full of experiments, some that worked some that didn’t. Everything here works. The reggae/sublime feeling NaNa produced by Brandun Deshay still feels like something Chance and Action Bronson can comfortable fit into. Most of the discussion about how different this project sounds should come down to Chance and his amorphous blob lyrics, while the beats carry off-sequence signatures it always feels like they exist that way for Chance rather than the other way around.
This mixtape is the art pick of the year; it’s lyrically impressive and good natured. In the same way that Killer Mike made a conscious play for the spotlight when he put out R.A.P. Music that’s what Chance did here. He got all the important guest features you’d want(guest verses are amazing, Twista kills Cocoa Butter Kisses and Noname Gypsy says “the only time he loves me is naked in my dreams” fantastic) and production from Jake One, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and Blended Babies. Its an easy pick for mixtape of the year and the day it dropped I listened to Juice four times and sang it out loud in a public bathroom(I am that dude).
I don’t think it is the mixtape of the year, it never lets you relax. While everything Fiend lays down on Lil Ghetto Boy feels like a hook nothing on Acid Rap does. It requires a level of attentive listening that is admirable but limiting. It’s beautiful though and what I enjoy most about it is how honestly anti-violence it is. He talks about how unsafe Chicago is from all angles, the police, how easy it is to get a gun, and the summer bringing out the violence. Chance is never coming at you like the caged puppy commercial asking for your help, he’s just brave enough to admit that the violence scares him. He’s brave enough to talk about it on overwhelmingly sad songs like Pusha Man (which ends with him sharing that feeling of fear with the audience) and on social media/interviews. He knew exactly how good this tape was; the day after it dropped he was spelling his ad lib for new listeners. Make no mistake Acid Rap is his come up and if you’re not in on it now; get ready for his exposure to find you wherever you are.
Stream or Download Acid Rap below:
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 10day, Ab-Soul, Acid Rap, AZ, Brandon Deshay, Bruce Lee Flow, Chance the Rapper, Chicago Hip Hop, Kendrick Lamar, Killer Mike, Noname Gypsy, R.A.P. Music, Twista