Crossfire Chronicles: The New Breed of Rap

Illustration by Matthew Bromley

newbreed_of_rap_chronicles

Thanks to the rise of blogs, there are so many rappers that have peppered the web in the past few years yet it’s nigh on impossible to keep track of them all. So we have decided to give you guys the heads up on rappers that are coming through that you definitely need to keep an eye and ear out for. Sometimes all it takes is that one track to hook you, getting you to press the rewind button so you can learn all the words straight away and sometimes it’s more of a slow burn, letting the music wash over you, submersing yourself into it before something clicks and you declare yourself a fan.

The list below is by no means gospel, but amongst all the names that you’ll be hearing sooner rather than later, there are some rappers who stand head and shoulders above the rest, and they can be found here. You won’t see any mention of the likes of Tyler the Creator or Jay Electronica because they’ve already grabbed the mainstream’s eye but hopefully there will be someone below that will get you interested!

So, without further ado, here is a list of the top five rappers you need to get into:

Abjekt.

1. Yelawolf

Yelawolf is certainly the best new rapper out there at the moment. He’s not hit the mainstream quite yet, but with the ink drying on his contract with Eminem’s Shady Records it can’t be fair off if the talent he showed on his Trunk Muzik mixtape [and it’s re-released with additional track half-brother Trunk Muzik 0-60] is anything to go by. He can switch up to double-time at the drop of a hat or he can run it slow like he does on Pop The Trunk below. Lazy journalists will no doubt refer to Catfish Billy as “The New Eminem” but pay no attention to that, he’d much rather rap about Chevys and getting drunk than murdering his Baby Momma. Alabama is well and truly on the map thanks to Yela. Get involved.

Top Tune: Pop The Trunk

2. Fashawn

Already one album down, Fashawn is working hard on mixtapes having recently released Higher Learning 2 and Grizzly City 3 before releasing his sophomore effort. The Fresno MC might not be the brashest of rappers, but his smooth flow and beat selection are top notch. His debut Boys Meets World featured production by Exile, who provided the perfect backdrop for Fashawn to go in over, from sunny melodies to songs about suicide. If he continues the way he’s going, like he has over J. Cole’s beats, there will be a hell of a lot more people smiling their way down the street. If the track below doesn’t get you bouncing, you’ve got no soul.

Top Tune: Samsonite Man f. Blu

3. Phil Ade

Maryland’s Phil Ade has burst onto the scene in the past couple of years through his stellar Starting on JV and The Letterman mixtapes, showcasing his ability to rap over a diverse selection of beats before his Twitter-friendly #PhilAdeFriday tracks, which were released for free through the social networking site every Friday came to prominence at the start of 2011. He’s now put them into a mixtape of their own, with some tracks featuring him rapping over famous beats from the likes of Ice Cube and Mobb Deep and will be dropping his new album A Different World on July 12th. Check out the track below for some early LL Cool J influenced shit.

Top Tune: Always There

4. TiRon

LA’s TiRon is another rapper who gives the listener a big beaming smile, he just seems to be having so much fun when he raps and it’s that infectious positivity that grabs the listener. From songs declaring his love for food or trainers to tracks discussing the importance of having a Wingman when trying to bag a chick at a party, TiRon [and his running mate Ayomari] delivers perfect call-and-response style tracks which bump along nicely whether you’re in the mood to get hype or whether you want some beats playing whilst you’re cleaning your flat. The track below is a perfect example of what to expect from the guy that brought the world his MSTRD and Ketchup mixtapes as well as T&A, the prelude to the debut album Sucker For Pumps which is a collaborative effort with Ayomari.

Top Tune: What You Waitin’ On f. Ayomari

5. Stalley

Ohio rapper Stalley could have been a high-standard basketball player before injuries curtailed his sporting career. But the NBA’s loss is hip hop’s gain. He has got a fantastic flow, progressing from a backpacker delivery to straight up fire and back again with consummate ease and his beard shouldn’t be underestimated. His latest mixtape Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Bass Music) is the best example of why he’s such a competent and impressive MC, showing his dexterity over a number of different styles whilst all the while maintaining his own voice across the entirety of the 16 tracks. Check out Hercules below, the beat will get you immediately and once that’s hooked you’re in.

Top Tune: Hercules

Honourable mentions:

Big K.R.I.T.
Rockwell Knuckles
Erreon Lee
Ayomari
Danny Brown

The Krautrock Chronicles

Written by Mark Beckett

The composition of Krautrock music is usually born out of endless drug-fuelled jamming sessions, where artists use anything from a keyboard to the smashing of a cricket bat against a trouser press.

The sound came to life when it introduced more electronic elements, swapping guitars for keyboards and the newly invented synthesizer, which had more knobs than a Kasabian gig. Nobody before was making electronic music, but in the late 60s Krautrock sprung to life.

Munich band Amon Düül II are credited as being the original Krautrock band. They took the Krautrock torch in 1968 when people were repulsed by their sonic, acid-drenched sound. Some people however, sat up and took notice. Berlin band Cluster were also influential, creating music that makes Ziggy Stardust look like an accountant.

Band’s like Can, Faust, Neu! and Tangerine Dream all flourished with this new style of music but it was another band from the town of Dusseldorph who took the title as kings of krautrock, that band was Kraftwerk.

Kraftwerk scrapped guitars altogether and consisted of four keyboard players, making the music purely electronic. They made the beat monotonous and the sound minimal, but the music was still melodic. To say they were ahead of their time is an understatement. To think that they were doing in the 70s what everyone was doing in the 80s, but better, is a testament to their innovation. They also became the first Krautrock band to bridge the commercial gap between Germany and the UK.

Krautrock went on to inspire the British post-punk scene that started in the late 70s and then the electronic boom in the 80s. You can hear its influence in modern bands as well such as, LCD Soundsystem, The Mars Volta, Deerhunter and Radiohead, who themselves cite Krautrock bands Neu! and Can as influences. Perhaps then we should give something back to the Germans. Do they like Razorlight?

Here are five tracks that define the genre of Krautrock…

Kraftwerk – Autobahn

At just under 23 minutes long, ‘Autobahn’ is littered with breakdowns and building melodies that pump through your entire body. The song is constantly changing in pace, replicating a journey on the Autobahn. The gleaming keyboards and pulsating beats fill you with vitality. A truly inspiring work of art.

Neu! – Super

The bands first single in 1972 epitomized their early sound. The beat described as ‘Motorik’ by journalists and ‘Apache’ by frontman Klaus Dinger is both mechanical and punchy, whilst the guitar is riddled with fuzz. This accompanied by the ghoulish wailing vocals makes for a uniquely brilliant track that makes you want to batter the nearest object in time.

Amon Duul II – Phallus Dei

The title track from their groundbreaking debut album, which translates as ‘god’s penis’, is a 20 minute long eruption of sound. There is a sense of spontaneity with every change in tempo that just feels right. It’s experimental in every sense of the word and contributes to the very album that created Krautrock.

Tangerine Dream – Stratosfear

Tangerine Dream were one of the bands that managed to bring Krautrock to England, playing in cathedrals and sometimes in complete darkness. This 1976 instrumental showcases their elaborate use of electronics. At this point in Krautrock history the synthesizer was being mastered and Tangerine Dream demonstrated on this track that some extraordinary things could be done with one.

Faust – Krautrock

Well we couldn’t really compile a list of Krautrock songs without putting this one in could we? Despite later distancing themselves from the term, Faust must have once been caught up in the Krautrock movement to name a song after it. That said, it really does encompass everything the genre stood for, it’s as far detached from Germany’s preceding pop scene as anything will ever be.

If you think Mark missed any classics from this latest Chronicles then let us know in the comments below.