RRP: Picture this on the biggest artist on the biggest stages, picture this playing in every mainstream movie or television show all over the world, picture this song winning and being performed at the Grammy's always remembered on TV, picture at the Superbowl, a song that could possibly go down in history as one of the best songs.
Matt: House Of Kingpin features guest appearances from SmooVth, Big Twins (Infamous Mobb), Killer Ben, TriState, Mary J Blige, Sean Rosati & more and production from DJ Skizz, Raw Minerals, Doc Da Mindbenda, Grubby Pawz and One Session.
Audio: TOPE - "Better Place" (prod. Stewart Villain)
TOPE: Fresh off his new beat tape FREE LEMONADE 2, TOPE drops some new music in the middle of headlining his first west coast tour. Produced by Stewart Villain, sampling a classic Lauryn Hill record, BETTER PLACE finds TOPE speaking on his move to Oakland, recent Police violence, licensing his first song to TV, and more. Be on the lookout for TOPE at A3C Festival this year in Atlanta performing Saturday, October 10th on the Stereo Assault "Signing Day" Showcase.
"Tyler, the Creator was recently refused a visa to the UK for 3-5 years because of the homophobic slurs and sexual violence in lyrics from "Bastard" and "Goblin." According to a letter the Home Office sent The Quietus, "Coming to the UK is a privilege, and we expect those who come here to respect our shared values. The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good or if their exclusion is justified on public policy grounds." This follows a few months after Tyler cancelled a tour in Australia after his lyrics and antics caused him visa issues, and a few years after New Zealand denied Tyler entry for similar reasons. Tyler joins Louis Farrakhan, Pamela Geller, the Westboro Baptist church, and others who the UK has decided didn't deserve to entry into the country due to their inflammatory views. It's a little odd that Tyler ended up on the same list of religious and political figures famous for their anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-gay messages. Tyler isn't a preacher or a politician. He's not taking out bus ads denouncing Islam, picketing funerals holding up anti-gay signs, or blaming the Jews for 9/11 during sermons. He's a musician, albeit one with an offensive and nihilistic persona. It is troubling that an artist is being refused entry into a country based on the lyrics to some of their songs, and perplexing that Tyler, the Creator is being picked out ahead of the multitude of artists who sing or rap about offensive things. Noisey pointed out that neo-Nazi band Satanic Warmaster were given a visa to play in the UK this year. Their songs include nods to the Final Solution and the Third Reich. Countless rappers who rap about killing people and committing crimes in their lyrics have been given visas. Did the Home Office allow them to come in because they understood that hip-hop lyrics aren't meant to be taken at face value, or did they not care so long as the rappers kept it to black-on-black violence?"
"Not a year goes by nowadays without Detroit laying claim to contributing significantly to the year's best releases. 2015 is no different, with Guilty Simpson, Apollo Brown and Clear Soul Forces all providing excellent albums - there was even a good Slum Village album. In 2010, one of the best albums that year was The Left's "Gas Mask", a brutal yet distinctly soulful collaboration between ever-reliable Apollo Brown, Detroit emcee Journalist 103, and the largely unknown DJ Soko. That album was stitched together by Soko's scratching and his debut album "Domino Effect" sees a similar approach, with Soko himself not producing any of the tracks. In that respect "Domino Effect" is more along the lines of the thumping "Picture This" from DJ K.O. with Soko tying the beats and rhymes together with his scratching techniques. This album isn't about turntablism, but Soko certainly knows how to cut and scratch. I've talked about DJ K.O.'s "Picture This" in previous reviews, and that's because it's one of those albums you show a friend who wants to 'get in to' Hip-Hop. I'd throw the second Soundbombing album in there too, and DJ Soko's "Domino Effect" wouldn't look out of place on that list either. It's better than it perhaps has any right to be, given the abundance of compilation records that feature a who's who list of underground veterans on the mic. Def Dee's "Take Notes" is a ferocious monster of a production that will probably have you headbutting the nearest child. Not to be outdone by Apollo Brown, Def Dee provides a classically Detroit instrumental that sounds like something left off of The Left's "Gas Leaks" record, itself a collection of leftovers. Unfortunately, it ends up overshadowing the three emcees (Hassaan Mackey, MarvWon, Finale). This isn't a lone issue, as there are so many dope beats on "Domino Effect" that the lineup of prominent underground emcees inevitably have to try and match the ferocity."
"I love where Hip-Hop is going right now. The alternative, futuristic vibes coming from artists as diverse as FKA Twigs, Drake, Skepta, The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar all show how far-reaching and interesting the genre remains. Mick Jenkins is another artist who is incredibly versatile, and his latest effort "Wave[s]" is an EP that has remarkable depth - it's been in rotation for the best part of a month in the Jones household. This EP feels ahead of its time. What FKA Twigs has been doing with R&B, Mick Jenkins is doing to Hip-Hop, and as backwards as it sounds, there's an 80s Pop tinge to the production, coupled with early 90s MIDI rhythms ("Your Love" is straight out of Streets of Rage on the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive). While this may mean there's a distinct electronic music influence, it also gives "Wave[s]" a futuristic-soul feel that is both natural and open to constant replays. As an emcee, Mick is authoritative yet smooth - imagine Killer Mike if he wasn't constantly pissed off. I wasn't keen on Drake's last album and Mick's work here feels like a more successful vision than "If You're Reading This It's Too Late". The sung hooks from Mick don't feel soppy or needy either, it's completely in-sync with the flow of the songs. For a record full of crooning, love isn't the only topic on offer either (mostly restricted to "40 Below" and "Your Love"). There's verbal experimentation on "P's & Q's" (nothing like Kano's debut single) that shows Mick's aggressive side, as does the opener "Alchemy" - one of the hardest tracks of 2015."
"If you set a goal to review multiple albums in the same week for an update, it helps when one of them is by PremRock. Besides the fact Mark a/k/a PremRock is a completely genuine no BS kind of guy (which the rap game in general and the music industry in particular could use far more of), his albums never leave me with the feeling "Well that's an hour of my life that I'll never get back." It's refreshing to automatically assume going in that the time you spend dissecting and reconstructing an album well be time well spent, and that your reward at the end of the day will be that you also have good new music to listen to when you're NOT doing reviews. PremRock makes the kind of tracks I can just chill out and enjoy. Along comes "Who Art In Nada" to catch me by surprise - an unexpected 30 minute dose of new PremRock jams. Sweet. "New" may not be the right word though. Seven out of nine tracks here are actually remixes of songs from "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," including two different takes on the song "Lens." The second of the two, the "Otherground Remix" isn't so much a remix at all musically - it's just taking one of the dope tracks from the original and turning it into a posse song. Zilla Rocca, Curly Castro, Has-Lo and Armand Hammer all jump on the Quelle Chris beat this time around. Ain't nothing wrong with that, but the aforementioned Zilla really serves the flavor on his redo of "Lense," giving it a heavy industrial backdrop that turns the bassline into a humming drill, while samples of Redman are scratched into the track. It has none of the quirky warm melody of the original version as heard above - it sounds like a rap song sent back from the future by Dr. Octagon to be interpreted by the present day masses. That same degree of sonic reinterpretation can be found in Uncommon Nasa's take on "Can't Make It Stop." The original Marmaduke beat was a snappy bass that gets attacked by echoing, clattering noises and wailing vocals, like the Halloween haunted house of hip-hop. Nasa's version has some of that spooky spirit, but sounds like it's being played on the framework rigging the drum set as opposed to actual drums. He smashes and bashes pipes as Mark's vocals float over the beat."
"For those who don't know the back story, Meow the Jewels started out as a joke. El-P and Killer Mike offered a selection of pre-order packages for Run the Jewels 2 last year, including the facetious offer to re-record the entire album with cat noises for $40,000. Even though there was a disclaimer explicitly stating no pre-orders valued over $35,000 would actually be honored, a Kickstarter to fund it was launched and El-P finally caved in and said that if it hit the goal he'd give all the money to charity and see to it that the album was actually recorded. It's worth nothing that El-P is a fan of cats in general so it probably wasn't too hard to talk him into it. At some point Kickstarter backers had to wonder if this joke turned reality had turned back into a joke at their literal expense. The Kickstarter's campaign page stopped being updated back in January, and although there would be a periodic promise from El-P on Twitter that it was nearing completion, there was no proof whatsoever. Then unexpectedly last week the entire album dropped for free online, which was welcome news to those who had pledged $10 for a digital copy, but anybody who put down serious money for an otherwise comedic concept still has no word on if they'll receive their catnip, stickers, t-shirts or matchbooks. If you pledged for more than a copy of the album I'd take that up with the Kickstarter campaign or the Kickstarter website itself if you don't hear anything in a week or two - as for me I'm just glad the album exists. Real producers were brought in to do these cat noise remixes, so this joke actually has legs - more than four of them in fact. Prince Paul, Just Blaze, Dan the Automator and El-P himself actually took the time to sit down in a studio and listen to cat sounds thinking "How can I make mix this with the vocals from Run the Jewels 2 and create something listenable?" Like a bag of your cat's favorite treats, the results are definitely mixed. That's nobody's fault really other than any of us who took this joke further than it should have gone, with the promise of some good coming out of the internet having a good laugh.SOMETIMES it actually works though. The BOOTS remix of "Early" takes one of the original album's most haunting tracks, with Killer Mike being harassed and roughed up by the cops in the first verse, and doesn't make a joke out of it. The sound of a cat's purr becomes the new bass, other cat sounds become percussive beats, and others are chopped up or stretched out in a way that really does make sense musically speaking. It's odd as hell but damn it, it works."
"It's hard to believe that next year marks a full decade since the great J Dilla passed away, and while it's been even longer since J Dilla was a part of Slum Village, his name and style of production are synonymous with the Detroit group. With countless line-up shifts and internal conflicts between members, it's good to hear "Yes!" sounds as good as it should do. Arguably their best work since "Fantastic Vol. 2", T3 and Young RJ have assembled a soulful album that stands out in 2015, as (excluding "To Pimp a Butterfly") there aren't many records still being made with this style of Hip-Hop Soul. Slum Village have never been lyrical geniuses, and little changes on "Yes!". This isn't necessarily a bad thing, with "Tear It Down" an inevitable anthem that'll be used at their live shows. "Love Is" is an irresistible Bilal collaboration that is classic Slum Village, boasting snappy rhymes and a typically brash pair of verses. De La Soul even drop by on "Right Back" which boasts one of the dopest piano loops I've heard in a while. The fact that this album has gone under many radars despite boasting J Dilla production is a little surprising given how Dilla is worshipped by many music fans, both inside and outside of Hip-Hop circles. The instrumentals are a combination of Young RJ and various unearthed Dilla beats - including demos with early vocal performances too. It's soulful, yet dirty with it, further exemplified by T3 and Baatin's sexually explicit rhymes, something I've always found has given Slum Village a Beatnuts vibe - dope beats, and party raps with sex as a key theme. Sonically, Slum Village couldn't be further from The Beatnuts, with the Detroit sound emanating from the CD with a blinding glow."
"Having produced one of my personal favorite albums of 2015 in Omniscence's "The God Hour", I started checking out previous projects the Australian beat-wizard had been involved with. Dropping at the very end of 2014 was "Truck Jewels and Filters", a short collaborative EP with K-Hill, a North Carolina rapper I'd only come across on DJ K.O.'s hugely underrated "Picture This" compilation, released all the way back in 2006. At four tracks long, plus four remixes and a remix of a remix, this 9-song EP zips by in no time. Debonair P's best work is aided by vicious scratches and relentlessly aggressive acapella selection, and it's no surprise that "Clout War" stands out with its brutal usage of Keith Murray, Lord Finesse and Nas. As enjoyable as Debonair P's beats are, they don't necessarily work well with K-Hill's crisp, clearly delivered rhymes. The track "Trucks, Jewels and Filters" itself suffers from an irritating hook, something that wasn't evident on "The God Hour.""
Matt: Chris J. is trying to invent and create and anthem for a city with no music scene whatsoever, that was the goal for the song below titled 'Party'. The song is exactly what is sounds like just based off the title, except with Chris J.’s own personal take on it.