Right then, suitably refreshed after a week in my home away from home, Minneapolis, where I was lucky enough to see the likes of Blueprint, Felt, Brother Ali, Men Of Leisure, Ice Rod, Gallows and various members of Doomtree live, and spending my time discussing just why LL Cool J wants to be remembered as the man who leaves his drawers in your hamper, I’m back with some reviews.
It’s been an incredible month for hip hop and the list below proves just that, with plenty more fantastic music coming out in the next few weeks which you’ll see reviewed in the next edition, including the fresh new Blockhead album.
Just before I start I want to say peace to everyone who suffered or knew someone who suffered in the Minneapolis bridge collapse. And I always want to big up the following people that made my week away so much fun: Alice [Cardboard Kitten 4 lyf bitches], ChechRok [aka Cecil Otter], Jake Money, Snakebird, Espada, Mike 2600, Crista, James motherfuckin’ Lynch, Rachel and everyone else at Rhymesayers. Dope – the lot of you.
Record Of The Month
AESOP ROCK – None Shall Pass
When Aesop Rock released Bazooka Tooth, he received mixed reviews across the board, people either absolutely loved it or they thought it was utter garbage. An EP and mixtape for Nike later and Aes Rizzle is back with what’s likely to be one of the best albums of the year.
The feel of the album is a lot more heavy and sludgey than before, more akin to El-P’s Fantastic Damage whilst still retaining the sensibilities of his Labor Days and the mix of styles fits perfectly as he brings his typically abstract lyrics to the beats. First single None Shall Pass runs a quick bit through his vocal meanderings and follows up with the brilliantly named Catacomb Kids before launching into the brilliantly Blockhead produced Bring Back Pluto.
He mixes up his styles well on the album, always giving a track it’s own personality whilst still allowing it to work within the album as a whole with Getaway Car being the most memorable with its twanging guitar loop and guest spots from Breezly Brewin’ and Cage. With El-P and Rob Sonic also appearing no the album, it’s safe to say Aesop Rock is back.
There’ll be no mixed reviews on this one, it’s a sure fire winner.
ATMOSPHERE – Sad Clown Bad Summer [Sad Clown Bad Dub 9]
Let’s get this clear right away, the only reason this isn’t my record of the month is because it’s only a 5 track EP. Were this to be a full length album, it would no doubt knock everyone else flat on their worthless arses. However, despite it only being 5 tracks, it’s still a fucking brilliant record and one worthy of their long line of tour-only Sad Clown series titles.
Basing all 5 songs around piano loops and samples, Ant has constructed some perfectly summery vibes for Slug to rap over. From the aptly titled Sunshine, where Daley raps about how great life is when even the “birds are bumping” through the graf-writer’s RFTC which could have been lifted straight from Felt 2, to the stand out track Mattress, the most feel-good song I’ve ever heard.
This is leading up to another Sad Clown and then next year’s studio album. Fuck yes.
CHROMEO – Fancy Footwork
Unfortunately for Chromeo, I got the Aesop Rock album in the same month and as such the Canadian duo didn’t hit the record of the month slot. However, don’t let that detract from what is, simply put, one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. Imagine Sparks making music in the 2000s after having listened to some hip hop and a healthy dose of funk – put all that in a pot and you’ve got Chromeo.
Maybe that sounds like the shittest music ever, but I bet you a packet of haribo that by the end of this album you’ll have strutted your stuff, popped your collar, wound and ground and moonwalked all the way across the room. From the anthemic intro, which in itself could be a fantastic full length song, to the immediately dance-inducing Tenderoni, Fancy Footwork and Bonafide Lovin’, Chromeo “ooh” and “uuh” their way through smash pop hit after smash pop hit, all with their sparkly tongues in their cheeks.
By the time you get to Momma’s Boy, and hear the lyrics “Girl you’ve got it, so bad, when the only boy you know is your dad”, you’ll already know you’re listening to a fantastic album. Whether you like electro, hip hop, funk or pop, this is definitely one for you.
ROBUST – El Foto Grande
Another close run for record of the month, Chicago’s Robust has released this album with help on the production from one of my favourite producers at the moment, Mike Gao. The piano loops and understated by incredibly effective drums that run throughout the album are yet another reason why the Galapagos 4 label is one to keep a serious eye on.
The stand out tracks all bring something different to the table too, showcasing the versatility of both the producer and the rapper, with the title track bringing some straight up hip hop with Love It All giving the listener some more introspective and delicate touch. Whatever the vibe though, the MC kills it and makes this a genuinely worthwhile record.
CALVIN HARRIS – Merrymaking At My Place
The cheeky Scottish so-and-so is back with the third single from his album I Created Disco and hits us with another slice of electro-tinged pop which makes you do the robot in your chair, making it a dead give-away that you’ve got your headphones in as you do it at the most important board meeting of your career so far.
But who cares about stupid things like a job when you’ve got some excellent remixes on the flip side from Flat Eric’s alter ego, Mr Oizo who gets that fist bumping and Kissy Sell Out who provides a huge bassline underneath the piano loop, giving it a brilliant club edge.
KID SISTER – Control
Anyone who has spoken to me in the past year or so will know that I love Kid Sister. I’m not going to front, it’s true. Where Uffie is popular because she’s just cool, Kid Sister takes that coolness and raises it with having the ability to rap. Surrounding herself with dope producers doesn’t harm her either.
This 12″ is produced by XXXChange from Spank Rock, and you can immediately hear his influence on the beat with his bass-heavy grime intro and fast paced hand claps which provides the perfect foil the feisty MC to deliver her lyrics. Another certified winner from A-Trak’s label Fool’s Gold.
NEON NEON f. SPANK ROCK & HARMAR SUPERSTAR – Trick For Treat
Hearing about a team up with Boom Bip and Gruff from the Super Furries seems a strange enough occurance but adding Spank Rock and Har Mar to the mix just throws another 15 spanners into the works. Only… they come out with a fucking stonker [yes, a stonker] of a track.
It could easily be a Spank Rock track beat-wise, which is why MC Spank Rock seems so at home around the beat, his nasal delivery thumping along with the swollen beat before the Har Mar jumps in once again making you like him despite having absolutely no idea why. If the rest of the record sounds like this, it’s definitely going to be an under-rated banger.
THEORY HAZIT – Emit Gninrut
(Hip Hop Is Music)
Hip Hop Is Music continually put out great records, with Braille and Sivion heading the way in the past year or so with their solo efforts. This time it’s the turn of Theory Hazit and he brings out this 12″ as a taster for his album Extra Credit.
The sound that we’ve come to expect from Braille’s label is apparent again here, a nice shuffling yet brisk beat bounces around Theory Hazit’s flow as he smoothly falls into a sung chorus. Whilst this isn’t the most head turning track I’ve ever heard, it’s a nice chilled song to bump when you’re not in the mood to get up off the sofa.
The art for this month is something from Italy. I’m not hippy but seeing this basically says it all.
This world is shit enough as it is most of the time, why do we want to make it even worse by blowing everything up? Spread some fucking peace, it’s much more relaxing yo.
You can start spreading the love by sending me CDs, books, vinyl, emails… anything you want. Anything that I get that’s free is fucking lovely and I’m sure you’d want to take part in making me happy now wouldn’t you?
His Cookie Mob Yardie Krew t-shirts are fucking great and I’ve just bagged myself one. So follow suit and click on the t-shirt below to order yours. Or else.
Make sure that you keep checking back for more reviews, news, radio shows and such because I always aim to get the best hip hop music to you and always love feedback, so hit me up!
So now I will pass you into the trusted [ahem] hands of Mojoe who will be keeping you up to date on all the best remixes he’s found on MySpace. Not that Joe spends every waking second of his life on MySpace. Oh no… he’s on Facebook too.
The Joe Zone
Easy everyone. So unless you’ve been rocking out Patrick (of Spongebob fame) style and living beneath a rock under the sea, you would have no doubt noticed the current Electro Renaissance that seems to have fallen upon us.
With Justice leading the crusade after last month’s terrifyingly good debut album, ‘†‘, the following month has seen similar artists surf the fuck out of the waves left in it’s wake. So this month I’ve decided to focus my attention on a selection of the finest remixes to emerge in the peak of summer. Although, with all the rain falling around, it’s felt like Britain is sailing on the Titanic.
But anyway, have a gander at some of the brighter aspects of my month. Most of them can be downloaded from various online blogs, so be sure to hit ’em up and keep doing the d.a.n.c.e.
In terms of pop success, Justin Timberlake is pretty much the contemporary Michael Jackson. He’s got those matchless vocals, risqué, but not crude lyrics, style and moves that mimic the moonwalker himself. LoveStoned is a prime example of the man’s talents, backed up by beats courtesy of hip hip-hop (hip hop that’s hip!) wonder boy, Timbaland, it’s undoubtedly the most booty shaking record on his 2006 sophomore smash, FutureSex/LoveSounds.
So when the Ed Banging, lead honchos of the current electro takeover, Justice, decide to re-work this awesome track we see the French Phantoms at a fork in the road. Do they rip it apart anomalously and make a heavy and dirty techno interpretation such as their attack on Daft Punk’s Human After All, or simply funk it up Jacko style, and make it radio friendly like their pimped out debut, D.A.N.C.E. Naturally, in true Justice style, they threw everyone’s expectations out of the window and did both.
The remix is almost a portfolio to showcase what the Parisian duo is capable of. Sticking well within the songs structure, Xavier et Gaspard amplify the strings to expose the songs true funkadelic qualities. It’s only until after the first chorus do we see their trademark basslines come in as if Flea from the Red Hot Chilli’s was playing a solo whilst surfing on a piano crashing down a flight of stairs. It’s a booty shaking oxymoron from start to finish. Especially in the latter section of the song, introduced by Justin’s imperative whisper, ‘Listen’, where the pair boldly throw in as many zips and blips as possible, resulting in a fabulous crescendo of jaw dropping, head banging disco music. Dropped on the interweb, alongside their dark twist on their own single, D.A.N.C.E., Justice have proven themselves to be an unstoppable force. Reckon without them at your loss.
The slicker that oil robotic utterance of Chicago’s own “Fl-fl-fl-fl-fl-fl-floss-tradamus” has become an audible stamp of quality on tracks to get your body moving. When these two get together and scoop the goodness out of other band’s noise, whilst decorating with their own little flamboyantly gangster sprinkles, you know it’s going to be some serious off the wallet chain shit. If you should require evidence of the duo’s uncanny ability to bring a club’s dancefloor to an epiphany, then just listen to their ravestradaming (get that down Urban Dictionary) onslaught on Lil’ Jon and Three Six Mafia’s Act A Fool. It brings a whole new definition to the word crunk.
This time, it’s Brooklyn’s happy clappy twosome, Matt and Kim, who are targeted by those diamond loving hooded yobs. The ever so quiet, but effective bassline that supports the infrastructure of the original, is morphed into a horny monster, capable of moving sub woofers around like a wind-up doll. The effect it has is astronomical. It’s the musical equivalent of finding a painting by Salvador Dali, unique and daring in it’s own environment, and then going over the outlines in a big fat neon yellow coloured flow pen. My response to it? I can’t be fucking bothered to tell you, I’m too busy dancing my arse off.
Considering beat dropping man of the moment, Diplo, has not actually included any of Kanye‘s input of the Daft Punk classic onto his remix, it raises the question as to why he has penned it as a remix of Kanye’s latest single, Stronger rather than simply a Daft Punk remix. Perhaps it’s to grab the megalomaniac’s attention and to demonstrate how a man who let’s his talent do all the talking manipulates samples. This is a good thing. I certainly had heard enough of Kanye Waste and his gargantuan mouth ramble on about how brilliant he is over the top of a classic sample, played at a speed that just doesn’t work. It was like driving a Zonda at 30mph to the local shop for some bread and milk, totally unnecessary.
Good job there was Diplo on hand to save the day. He whips into Daft Punk’s beautifully crafted Zonda, and slips it into top gear, before drifting around a hairpin bend at 200mph. While Kanye is busy looking for another shop that will hopefully stock skimmed milk, Diplo has already tamed that unforgettable sample with his growing collection of beats from the ages. It’s relentless and unforgiving, but also inviting and thrilling. Unlike Kanye’s ironically weak attempt, this really is harder, better, faster and stronger.
Meanwhile, on his throne, Kanye is staring out through his newest pair of venetian blind glasses, probably unaware that some DJ who sounds like an ice-lolly has schooled him hard. Say, it’s only a paper moon after all.
Despite the fairly negative response, I was always fond of this track off Bloc Party‘s sinister second album, A Weekend In The City. Despite the awkwardly tactless lyrics, it was a firm reminder that the London lads could still deliver the goods, all be it in very straightforward indie rock style. A great choice for single, but it wasn’t sold for me in the slightest. Then of course, in true Bloc Party fashion, they have a killer b-side alongside it. Which came in the form of a remix by Toronto’s Electrochiptune/Bitpoppunkcore duo, Crystal Castles. Try to imagine Sonic Youth trapped in an early Nintendo game, that’s it. And now we have a sold single.
Since their debut last year, Alice Practicing (a song which was recorded by accident during a microphone test, much to Alice’s later annoyance), I have been hooked to their illustrious take on a sound that is pretty much rinsed to death by every other kid locked in his bedroom. Once again with this explosive remix, Ethen and the well-trained Alice hurl out another belting tune for us neeks. It’s like a time bomb, with the wires concealed inside woven into the shape of a big, bright happy face. Lovely.