German music connoisseur Klaus Layer is back with another plate of fresh instrumentals on Redefinition Records. Taking stamp in East Coast boom bap Klaus adds several layers of sounds to each track, combining live instrumentation and dusty samples in creating a unique musical experience that forms a cohessive whole. I'd go as far as saying that this is probably the producer's finest work yet, an album that comes highly recommended. Cop the LP @ RedefinitionRecords.com or grab the digital from Bandcamp.
Friday, January 9, 2015
Ghostface Killah is not only my all-time favorite emcee but he's also one of the most prolific artists hip-hop has ever witnessed, and what's really impressive is that his proejcts are always dope. He have a huge catalouge of albums and he hasn't done more than two half-weak albums, tops. Working with RZA's side projects "Chamber Music", "Legendary Weapons", "Man With The Iron Fists" and Soul Temple Records he really started building on a new style that fit the vertan emce to a tee. He of course recorded the absolutely brilliant concept album with Adrian Younge called "Twelve Reasons to Die" in 2012; hooked up with The Revelation (who produced or played on all the aforementioned three projects) for another concept album late last year called "36 Seasons" and even though fans really haven't catch their breath on that one he is already back with young, white jazz trio BadBadNotGood for a full-length collaboration to be released on February 23 via LEX/EOne. With all music produced and performed by BadBadNotGood, this could be viewed as a third volume in a trilogy of Ghostface telling stories over live jazz/blues instrumentation. We've previously heard the slamming singles with Danny Brown and eLzhi, but for "Ray Gun" he brings out the one and only DOOM which I know is gonna get a lot of y'all (myself included) very hype, The album drops on February 23 so STAY TUNED!
With thirteen tracks clocking in at roughly forty minutes, I would consider "Good Morning Vietnam III: The Phoenix Program" as a full-length album, at the same time as its the third installment in the series. And as much as I loved the two predecessesors, "The Phoenix Program" is another one of the best albums of 2010s standing on its own but it's when listening to all three EP:s/mini albums as a unit that's the truly incredible ride. With that being said the new Grimm/Drasar project stands both as an excellent release in its own right, as well as being the crowning release of the aforementioned trilogy. Taken as a whole I'd udoubtedly go as far as to say that the well-crafted trilogy stands as the finest project of this deacade so far. As familiar I am with MF Grimm, before I came across the first installment of these projects I had never heard the name Drasar Monumental, but as soon as I let the the needle hit the wax I was immediatly taken back by the rawness and boom baptic sound collages and how well they transpired to Grimm's writing and performances throughout. There's no question that the chemistry is nothing short of AMAZING. And as it was a concept album breaking down the horrors of the Vietnam war and mirroring it with the struggles of America today, The second volume "The Golden Triangle" was even stronger, as the chemistry had evolved into something even more natural ad Grimm's conceptual writing and deliveries had became even stronger while Drasar's production had grown even stronger and the way they know where complimenting each other styles started to grow closer to the best known hip-hop duo's of all time (Gang Starr, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, DIamond Distict, and so on)..
So how does the third and final part of "GMV", subtitled "The Phoenix Program", stack up against the two previous releases that both made it to the top of my best albums in their respective release dates. It's always a gamble for an artist following up a masterpiece with a sequel, as it's very hard to be able to top the original 15 years larer - as we knw there's plenty of subpar sequels in the world of hip hop. Luckily for all of us, a sub-par follow-up from this duo is a far cry from the truth as it's another purely excellent outing from GRIMM & Drasar and it's evident that they've worked real hard to make sure that fans will get nothing but the pure, unadulteraded hip-hop,with a lot of classic breakbeats and strong street lyrics, that balances the grooves between classic '90a hardcore bap while still keeping it completely original. The songs on here (all versions of the album only include two long tracks - making the statement that this is something you should listen to from front-to-back. But more fresh and original is the way it is produced and performed - the Vietnam war, like any war was messy, paranoid and filled with emotions, and music, And the music Drasar and MF Grimm cooks up for this 40 minutes outing bring back memories of the last days of the '60's and '70s. .Musically it's concocted from a wide range of samples often listed from '60s and '70s records, mixed in with agressively classic hip-hop samples freom trhe likes of KRS-One. The production style is something out of the ordinary, you won't get any of the repetitive four bars loops over a fu ll song anywhere on this release. Instead Drasar creates a bombastic, EXPLPOSIVE sound collage of intensely mindblowing hardcore piecees, whixh really bring the best out of Cap. The huger amount of beat switches and musical switches just shouldn't work but it sure as hell does all the way. There's really only one song that I'm not crazy about, the laid back cut "SOMETHING SOMETHING", which is not a bad song by any means but compared to the other tracks on the project it's a bit of a let down. But that's a minor complaint for an album this is exttremely dope.
When I interviewed MF Grimm and Drasar I told Grimm how I've been following his career for years but feel that the two "Good Morning Vietnam" projects for me represented his best work yet. He completely agreed with me, and listening to either volume of this series (or all of them as a unit) it's clear that he for one of the first time in his life has found a musical compadre that listens to him and truly brings the best out of him. MF Grimm is by far one of the illest, most thought provoking emcees around and his voice is just on another level, and while I pretty much like all of his previous albums (as he's always been pushing the envelope with every single release of him), no previous LP has grabbed me in the way this trilogy has done. From start to finish he follow the concept of "showing different aspects of the Vietnam war" to a Tee, and much of his writing is as cinematic as it gets. Add to that the many scary interludes from real life war criminals like Henry Kissinger - another song that deserves a lot of props for its writing, not being scared of calling out one of the worst human beings in recent history. It's hard to pick favorites from this album considering it's such a cohessive whole and since I'm still waiting for my physical copies I have mostly played it through my phone in tthe two track version, meaning I don't really know the titles of the song. But that doesn't really matter, as this is definitely an album you put on, press play, close your eyes to and move into the hip-hop version of Vietnam this is a trilogy project that at least I will never forgot. Like I said it's hard for me to pinpoint favorite tracks as this is really something I want to hear from front-to-back, but the first single "Glaciers Of Icex" is simply out of this world, and so is the opening "Birth Of Violence", or the agressive KRS-One sampling "Economics"). With that said I really hope that we will get a whole lot more material from Drasar & MF Grimm as a duo. Be sure to head over to VendettaVinylVietnam to order your copy of "GMV III: The Phoenix Program" on CD or LP, or in the exclusive bundle package containing all three installments in case you missed it. Thanks a lot to Vendetta Vintl and be sure to grab all three versions oif the album at the very last. TURN IT UP!!!
YESSIR! Big Daddy Kane is back with another heat rock, produced by UK beatsmith Dr. G who has been coming through with a lot of illness lately. On "The Times" BDK gets deep, reflecting on the ways of the world today spurred on by Dr. G's haunting strings and pounding drums. I really need to make a compilation of recent BDK material very soon. On a related note I recently checked out the album with his group Las Supper, an LP I had completely overlooked after a quick listen to the misleading first single, and I would really like to recommend that one to any Kane fan. You can pick up "Back to the Future" @ iTunes.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Back when Rawkus was still the place to be at, Cage and the duo known as The High & Mighty formed Smut Peddlers and recorded "Porn Again" for the label. This album always held a special spot in my crates, to me it's by far the illest stuff Cage ever recorded and DJ Mighty Mi constructed some absolutely raw and nasty boom bap beats here that makes me realize just how underrated he is as both a DJ and a producer. With guest features from Kool G Rap, Kool Keith and most importantly BEETLEJUICE. the album is an all around dope experience that might just be one of the last truly great Rawkus releases. The eight minutes long promo video sees Cage, Mr. Eon and Mighty Mi break down the meaning behind the group, its origins, its goals, mixed with live footage and in-studio footage (including parts of the recording of "Talk Like Sex Pt. II" with G Rap), and brings back a lot of memories to anyone familiar with the LP. THAT SMUT!!
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
MF Grimm & Drasar Monumental's "GMV III - The Phoenix Program" is available on vinyl and CD now and definitely puts the crown on the "Good Morning Vietnam" series as one of the rawest projects of the decade. My full review of the album should hopefully be up later tonight with some deeper thoughts on it but until then I strongly recommend you all to support the real by heading over to VendettaVinylVietnam and order your copy ASAP. TURN IT UP!!
This super ill remix of Sean Price's recent "Land of the Crooks" single has been out for a while but in case anyone missed out on it, you definitely need to hit play up top. Featuring M.O.P.'s Billy Danze and Maffew Ragazino, this updated version was created by Divided Souls Entertainment and DJ Pain 1 for an upcoming compilation album for Coalmine Records. The album is called "Reminded" and will be available on January 20, you can pre-order it @ iTunes now. Also check out the Cookin' Soul remix of "Born Naturally" (Large Pro, Big Noyd and G Rap) below.
The homie Rome Cee brings out the visual to his single "Signs" from his recent dope project "Glimps". Shot in the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, Rome is making an important statement on the #BlackLivesMatter situation with this one right now. Be sure to check out the full project above in case you've missed out.
Friday, January 2, 2015
I can't understand those people who basically only listen to strictly hip-hop music. Music as a whole is my number one love, and though hip-hop is by far my favorite genre but how someone can be musically satisfied by only listening to rap music is for me absolutely mind boggling when there's so much great music from a wide range of genres out there - jazz in all it's incarnations, blues, rock, heavy metal and industrial, and even some classical music. As a true music lover I am mad happy that we got artists like Flying Lotus and the artists on his Brainfeeder label pushing the boundaries of modern electronic music by taking a page from the past and moving forward into new terrority. As for FlyLo I've had my eyes on him since his "Cosmogramma" album in 2010, but it was when the grandson of legendary jazz pianist Alice Coltrane dropped his tripped out "Until the Quiet Comes" in 2012 that I truly fell in love with his music. After letting the 2xLP set live on my turntables and on my Android phone for a long time, I was soon after starting to fiending for new music by the DMT fanatic. For me the release of the follow-up to "Quiet", beautifully titled "You're Dead". FlyLo has more than repated that same feat of greatness again, without repeating himself. "Until the Quiet Comes" is pretty close to a perfect album, and i strongly feel that this new LP is it's sister album as it shares many similarities yet it's evolved and features a lot of new tracks.
Now in 2014, Steven Ellison, also known a Flying Lotus, returns with his sixth album, tenth if we're counting Extended Plays, "You're Dead" on October 7, via Warp Records. While "Until The Quiet Comes" was a laid back, psychadelic journey into the mind with high free jazz, jazz fusion and electronic hip-hop overtones, "You're Dead" pretty much continues where its predecessesor left off. The 20 track collection plays out more like a suite than the type of albums we are used to hear these days, be they instrumental or not. Many of the songs are only one or two minutes and throughout the whole 40 minutes LP almost every feeling is represented in the most beautiful way - whether it be straight up disonant hardcore shit (the powerful "Tesla"), laid-back music of extreme longing like one of my personal favorites "Coronus, The Terminator", heavy free jazz bangers ("Cold Dead"), the percussion and Rhodes brilliance of "Moment of Hesitation". Pointing out each song is definitely pointless as the entire album revels in front-to-back brilliance and personally I would say that this is FlyLo's finest full-length album to date. One of the main reasons for this, is that FlyLo is here taking his production to the next level - while previous albums has mainly been mainly sample based, "You're Dead" is a mixture of Lotus' sample wizardry and a host of live musicians that he has invited to the sessions. The 19/20 tracks suite (depending on which version you have) clearly has a sonic thread running throuhgout them, wihtout ever coming off as monotone. The jazz elements are way more pronounced here than on the previous FlyLo albums - so much that in fact this is the first album of his that I would feel comfortable putting in my jazz album collection. He has here gathered the usual suspects like bassist/vocalist Thundercat, sweet voiced Nikki Randa, string conductor Miguel Atwood-Fergusson, but there's also a host of legendary jazz artists adding color to the album. All these artists appeared on the previous LP as well, though not to the same extent, but on "You're Dead", Ellison takes the jazz and hip-hop approach a step further. One of my all time-favorite artists of all time, pianist/keyboardist Herbie Hancock adds his magical Rhodes touch on the hauntingly beautiful "Tesla" and "Madness Of Hesitation". while jazz guiartist/bassist and keyboardist Jeff Lynn add some color to "Stirring" to great effect. These legendary artists appears simultaneously in FlyLo's world with rising stars like superb sax player Kamsai Washington who really add a lot of jazz texture to standouts such as "Moment Of Hesitation", "Cold World", "Turkey Dog Come", and "Moment of Hesitation".
Production is absolutely flawless throughout, the way Flying Lotus uses samples and live instruments of abstract melodies, disonant studio trickery, distorted vocals, melodic basslines, Rhodes, agressive saxophones and of course the slamming drums. As I stated before this abum really defies labeling, but might be closest to free jazz, jazz fusion or experimental electronic music. But hip-hop heads will definitely not be dissapointed either, as FlyLo creates some abstract but very dope hip-hop joints. The first single "Never Catch Me" featuring an outstanding verse from Kendrick Lamar, while Lotus' Quasimoto like alter-ego Captain Murphy gets busy on a couple of tracks and even Snoop Dogg makes an apperance on the absolutely brilliant "Dead Man's Tetris". Whatever you do don't sleep on this album!
This is just amazing right here, pure fucking Wu from the days the Wu and The RZA was incapable of making ish that didn't become classics. Jammin from TheCorp are the man for this find and original ripper and uploader RANDOMRAPRADIO is even more crazy for it, huge thanks goes out to you. As you see from the title this roughly 40 minutes DJ set was performed on the air by The RZA on a Funkmaster Flex show on HOT97 back in 1995, June 3rd to be exact. And they also had ODB performing over some of the stuff, including a banging live version of "Brooklyn Zoo". No real heads are allowed to sleep on this one!
For my two first posts of 2015, as well as taking this time to wish all of my readers a terrific new year ahead of us all, you know I had to come with the big guns. First out is something that many of y'all have probably seen before although i know me myself has been looking for the full version of this for a long ass time, since the versions I constantly found always cut off after 68 minutes or something like that and had French subtitles. I'm talking about the excellent Brook Simms 2005 documentary on Tragedy Khadafi, who you should know by now is one of my all time favorites, "Tragedy: The Story of Queensbridge". YouTube user Hallvard Fauske Ekdahl has uploaded the, in my opinion, ever made on Queensbridge hip-hop as Tragedy pretty much inspired the major players of QB, from the Juice Crew, to Nas, to CNN, to Mobb Deep, to Cormega, Killa Sha, and so on. The narrative takes us through Trag's young days working as The Super Kids with DJ Hot Day, as the solo artist Intelligent Hoodlum, with the major underrated classics "Intelligent Hoodlum" and "Saga of a Hoodlum" under his belt, to his work with Capone-N-Noreaga creating "The War Report" and his long running solo career as Tragedy Khadafi, and much more. If you've never seen this before you are in for a REAL TREAT, a major shout out to Ekdahl again for the upload, and also be sure to support Trag's new street album "Pre-Magnum Opus" which is out now on iTunes. The video won't embed so head over to the playlist (which also includes two bonus footage), and has an all over running tme of about 85 minutes.