In anticipation of his new album Get Home Safely, which is set to be released on October 1, Dom Kennedy drops visuals for his latest single, “South Central Love.” Just as with most of Dom Kennedy’s work, both the music and the video embody everything that the world has come to imagine when they think about laid-back, west coast hip-hop: the cars, the girls, and that cool, California beat. Although already largely recognized within California and among music aficionados elsewhere, it’s only a matter of time before Dom Kennedy becomes a household name across the nation. He has a flow that’s so smooth it’s deceivingly wholesome. Take this song for example, it’s a love song that talks about finding a real and long-lasting relationship, but tucked within all the lofty romanticism are quick references to drugs and murder and not necessarily as an observer, but rather with Dom Kennedy as the protagonist. However, this in no way takes away from the quality of his music. If anything, it makes it that much better by allowing him to appeal to both conservative and liberal listeners alike. Watch “South Central Love” above—it’s the perfect song for a Sunday afternoon. Continue reading →
New York has steadily been regaining its prominence in hip-hop with the emergence of a slew of artists and groups that having been working with and feeding off each other. Groups like A$AP Mob, The Underachievers, and Flatbush Zombies as well as individual artists such as Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson all know of each other and have either collaborated together at some point or at least made reference to one another in some form or fashion. You also have newcomers like Black Dave and Bryant Dope who have been taking a more minimalist, nostalgic, and boom-bap approach to their music. Then you have YC the Cynic. Everything from his flow, and its content, to his beats and even his sense of fashion distinctly mark him as belonging to a league of his own. He recently dropped a cleverly titled single, “Negus,” where he touched upon socio-political topics that ranged as far back as ancient Egypt. However, in his video “The Heaviest Cross” he drops the political dynamic to delve deeper into the personal and social issues that afflict him. The visuals demonstrate that he seeks to set himself apart as a lyrically driven emcee by refusing to bolster mainstream tropes such as money and fashion. Interestingly, he possesses a level of weird that is reminiscent of Odd Future, but in a good way. In fact, YC the Cynic almost comes off as a New York Tyler the Creator, but perhaps less extreme. Nevertheless, he has a unique and solid flow that shows a lot of promise for the future. Also, he has some serious production behind him provided by Frank Drake. Watch “The Heaviest Cross” above and if you like what you hear, grab a hold of the Bronx rapper’s newest album, GNK. Continue reading →
Sometimes the absurd is just as entertaining as the non-absurd. Or at least that’s the angle that Lil’ Debbie—and the entire White Girl Mob, for that matter—has been taking throughout her musical career. The release of her latest music video “Bake a Cake” does little to dissuade public opinion. In it, you can see the bay area rapper, who is coincidentally the sister of Kreayshawn, embody the height and excess of wealth with references to France’s Palace of Versailles and Marie Antoinette. I guess she deserves some credit, though, for being able to draw parallels between the 18th century and the 21st and for investing what looks to be a lot of time and money into the video’s production. Not to mention that the beat, which is produced by Nik Nikateen, is a monster of beat that allows anything that Lil Debbie says sound good. Still, the young artist does a good job of complementing the musical production, even if that means saying less. Check out the video above and judge for yourself. Continue reading →
Perfectly melding together the worlds of hip-hop and electronica, Will Brennan releases the visuals for his song “RNR 2.0.” The “2.0” comes from the fact that this is a reproduction of the original which was released over a year ago. The genius behind this track is Will Brennan’s outstanding ability to rap like one of the best in the industry, but with a sharp sensibility and attention to the soulful, electronic beat produced by EthniKids. It also doesn’t hurt that Jenny Reynolds, who sings the hook, is a very attractive young woman with a lovely voice. Will Brennan is a rare breed on his record label Dim Mak which is owned by Steve Aoki and primarily promotes electronic music, but he seems to use it to his advantage by appropriating the genre into his own work. Check out the Florida rapper flex his lyrical muscle alongside Jenny Reynolds in the video above and, should you feel so inclined, download the more electronic version below. Continue reading →
Jonwayne just dropped his third mixtape in a series titled Marrion Morrison via Stones Throw Records and he’s already coming right back at you with a lead-single to his forthcoming debut album appropriately titled Rap Album One. The track, titled “Reflection,” is something drastically different from his previous work and significantly better. In it manifests Jonwayne’s gifted ability to vocalize deep, introspective sentimentalism with unparalleled fashion. He shows a voracious appetite for verse and a superior command over meter and rhyme. A favorite lyric of mine is the following: “I’m a hundred years of torture with a bullet in his hand.” With so much talent, it’s no wonder that he’s signed to Stones Throw and has been receiving tons of support from them in promoting his work. Jonwayne is an artist to definitely keep on your radar until the release of his album on October 29. Disregard the strange cover art for the single which presents itself as a direct contradiction to the contemplative beat and raps of the artist and take a listen to “Reflection” below.
It might sound surreal, but it’s reality—Big Boi recruits Little Dragon and Killer Mike to provide you with that unconventional hip-hop that he does oh so well. For those who are familiar with Big Boi’s album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, which dropped last year, you’ve probably been knowing about this collaboration, but for those who haven’t, here are the latest visuals to accompany the track. It’s comprised of tour footage and reflects how fun it is to attend a Big Boi concert. Unfortunately, Little Dragon doesn’t make an appearance in the video, but her sensual vocals on the hook are good enough. Killer Mike has been making a splash in the hip-hop scene as of late, especially after his recent joint project with El-P titled Run The Jewels. Being that he’s also from Atlanta and good friends with Big Boi, it’s not surprising to see him play a prominent role in this video. Watch “Thom Pettie” above and grab a hold of Big Boi’s latest album if you haven’t already done so. Continue reading →
Mark your Google calendar for the release of The City Under The City on October 15. It’ll be the debut album from producer L’Orange and rapper Stik Figa. Information about these two artists is scarce as they appear to be operating under a heavy cloak of secrecy, but one thing that we do have available to us as is their latest single “Blind Tiger.” It’s a single that’s as intoxicating as the mystery the surrounds the two. Take a listen below.
With so many rappers coming out of the Chicago right now it’s kind of hard to keep track of all of them. Chance the Rapper has definitely made a name for himself, but not too far behind is Mick Jenkins and his latest single “The Water.” Upon first listen, however, you’ll quickly notice how the Chicago emcee sets himself apart from the rest with grounded lyrics and a well-controlled flow. The melancholy nature of Mick Jenkins’ verses are further reinforced with a deeply somber beat produced by High Klassified and Da P. On this single, the artist goes deep against the grain of mainstream hip-hop culture with lyrics such as “water more important than the gold,” but also performs acrobatic lyricism with bars like “niggas talk shit I hock ether/ Stephen Hawking, no need for talking/ got a hawk’s eye, but I can hardly see ya.” This latest release will be on his upcoming, semi-eponymous album The Water[s]. Listen to the track below.
I can’t begin to express the amount of respect that I continue to grow for New York rapper Cage and his forthcoming album Kill The Architect. He’s only put out two singles so far and I’m already hooked. His first single “The Hunt” is a raw and haunting track with graphic lyrics such as “I cut my heart open for you so I can feel it bleed/ fuck who you like I’m the only rapper that you really need.” His second single, “This Place,” builds upon the dark and introspective theme created by the first with a chorus that begins “every day people die in this place/ maybe it was you who should’ve died in this place.” It appears as if Cage is exploring an ugly side to himself that he has yet to reveal to the public which results in something deeply personal and strangely beautiful. As inspiring as the lyrics may be, however, a lot of the credit must also go to Mighty Mi and his contribution to the hard-hitting beats on the last two singles. On “The Hunt” he provides a slow and eerie beat that meshes really well with Cage’s vocals. On “This Place,” which was co-produced by Slugworth, the two come up with a drum-break beat that contains a chorus that is paradoxically noble yet tragic sounding, if that makes any sense. This version of “This Place” appears to be an alternate version of what will be on the album, which means that the album version has to be like ten times better, right? The two singles that Cage has released so far provide strong insight into what the new album as a whole is going to sound like: It’s going to be rugged, it’s going be deep, but above all, it’s going to be really dope. Kill The Architect is not set to release until October 22 so let’s hope that he keeps the singles coming in the meantime. Listen to and download the single via the SoundCloud player below.
New York rapper Beans a.k.a. Knifefight teams up with Ghostly producer Mux Mool and Los Angeles based record label Anticon to release Knifefight, the EP. Although it’s a certified art-rap album that lives up to the alternative standards of its record label, Knifefight also has a crossover appeal that speaks to listeners that may not be familiar with the history and repertoire of Anticon. Beans is by no means a newcomer to the rap game which shows in his capacity to deliver sharp and synchronized lyrics effortlessly. However, he also flaunts his mastery over verse by including off-rhyme lyrics that value message over sound. Mux Mool holds his own with beats that are original and just plain dope. It comes as no surprise that such talent is signed to Ghostly International, but it’s also nice to know that he has the chops to produce beats that make for good rap albums. All his beats are up-tempo and as colorful as Beans’ lyrics. The album features guest artists such as Cities Aviv, Kool AD, and Sub Con. Listen to Knifefight below and go to the Bandcamp page to download the “name-your-price” album. Also, look out for a future project by Beans under the Anticon label titled Wolves of the World. Continue reading →
Odd Future’s Hodgy Beats adds visuals to his track “Karateman” from his EP Untitled 2. The song features a spaced-out, bass-heavy beat that’s more than pleasant to listen to. It also features fellow MellowHype member Left Brain who delivers a cool verse in the middle of the track. The video was directed by Rob Haffey & Etienne Maurice and involves Hodgy Beats and Left Brain doing the kinds of things you would expect from Odd Future affiliates at a classic Los Angeles kick-back. Why the track is called “Karateman” is unclear considering that neither the video nor the lyrics refer to anything involving karate, but I guess it shouldn’t be surprising either. Watch the video below and stream the EP via the SoundCloud player that follows. Continue reading →
Check out Richmond native Iamsu! go crazy with his bay area crew HBK Gang in their music video “Go Crazy.” The track is a single from their album Gang Forever which was released on August 12. Practically all production is in house including some beats by Iamsu! himself. This particular beat was produced by Jay Ant Of The Invasion and the video was directed by Daghe. In it, you can see the entire HBK Gang, and then some, doing the Bernie dance at various locations across the bay area including BART’s Fruitvale station. It’s a fun and energetic song with a funky bass and easy going lyrics. Watch “Go Crazy” below and stream or download Gang Forever by clicking on the following link. Continue reading →
In anticipation of their long overdue album Piñata, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib release an EP titled Deeper. Interestingly enough—just as they did with their previous EP Thuggin’—this album only features two tracks with Freddie Gibbs on the vocals. The other four songs are either instrumentals of the vocal tracks or bonus beats. In general, this shouldn’t be an issue, but the fact that they’re charging $12 for six songs, two of which are really just duplicates, is highly questionable. Don’t get me wrong, I love Freddie Gibbs and Madlib just as much as the next person and I believe in supporting artists who make good music, but I find it hard to justify the price for such a product [end rant]. The song “Deeper”—not to be confused with the eponymous album—lives up to its title’s expectations. The beat is up there with some of the best that Madlib has come out with in his career. It features a violin that immediately begins to pull on your heart and a bass that you feel deep inside your gut. Freddie Gibbs capitalizes on the beat by delivering top-notch lyrics that address the complications that often result from romance. His verses are profoundly personal and span nearly the entire three minutes of the track, without a hook. The Deeper EP will be available September 24, but you can listen to the single below. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until February 4 to hear Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s full-length album Piñata. Continue reading →
If J’Von and Ackryte’s album Aqua doesn’t already belong to your music library, it should, not only because it’s free (link below), but also because it’s that soulful hip-hop that you have to throw on every once in a while after you get off work/school and need something to relax to. The jazz-like atmosphere of the album is created in part by Ackryte, an up-and-coming producer out of Minneapolis. His solo album, Overly was released via HW&W Recordings and is a testament to both Ackryte’s interest in music production and his abilities in making funky electronic music. His beats possess a highly-refined sensitivity to drums and melodies that’s comparable to producers such as Ta-ku or Sango.
J’Von is the lyrical equivalent to Ackryte which is why the two come together so harmoniously in Aqua. He’s based out of Seattle and displays an intelligence in his raps that others should be envious of. J’Von also has a natural and comfortable approach behind the mic and apparently in front of the camera as well—as evidenced by the visuals for “Go.” For what looks to be his first full-length album, he does well to provide diverse and high-quality lyrics. One thing to note about J’Von’s raps are his ad-libs which, at times, come off sounding like something from a Quasimoto album. Not sure if this is intentional or purely coincidental, but as a Madlib fan, I’m perfectly okay with it especially since he does it rather well.
Below is the video for “Go” which was released last week and is from Aqua. It features professional quality visuals, a well-developed storyline, and even an impressive fight scene. After watching the video, take a listen to the album via the Bandcamp music player below. If you like what you hear, click on the respective link below to download Aqua for free. Continue reading →
New Orlean’s most promising new R&B singer, August Alsina, recruits two of California’s best up-and-coming rappers, Iamsu! and Problem, to bring you “Numb” produced by DJ Mustard. The beat has a bay-area feel to it despite DJ Mustard’s being from Los Angeles. Although Iamsu! is the only bay area native on the track (Richmond), both August Alsina and Problem also ride the beat exceptionally well. Being that he’s the principal artist, August Alsina dominates the track with two verses that stretch over 24-bars in addition to a 10-bar chorus that’s worthy of play in the best of clubs. Of course, the track wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as it is without the appearance of either of the two rappers. Iamsu! sets the tone by opening up his verse with an adaptation of Trinidad James’ “All Gold Everything.” Problem adds to the track with his signature metaphors such as “let’s make one thing understood/ you nothing without paper like books.” Although August Alsina just dropped his EP Downtown: Life Under The Gun a little over a week ago, “Numb” doesn’t form part of it, but may belong to something bigger in the future. Until then, listen to “Numb” below. Continue reading →
The R&B, electronica, and hip-hop duo consisting of American rapper/singer Phonte and Dutch producer Nicolay, better known as The Foreign Exchange, release back-to-back singles titled “Call It Home” and “Pity,” respectively, for their upcoming album Love In Flying Colors. The first is a lovely track on which Phonte exclusively sings and features a really funky bass in addition to heart-racing drums. The latter is a more laid-back yet equally powerful song where we get to hear Phonte deliver a love-sick rap-verse in-between a sung chorus that goes “don’t look for pity ’cause it’s not fair/ don’t look for logic ’cause it’s not there.” Make sure to listen to “Pity” all the way through since the beat experiences a radical transformation towards the end that increases in intensity and includes a cool voice-box effect on Phonte’s vocals. Love In Flying Colors is expected to drop September 24. Listen to “Call It Home” and “Pity” below. Continue reading →
Big Sean goes all out in his latest music video “10 2 10.” Directed by Mike Carson and Mike Waxx, the visuals take an original and artistic approach to one of Big Sean’s more daring works. The beauty that one would expect from surroundings such as those in the video, which look like an isolated coast in Brazil, are transformed into something menacing with the transposing of lush green into magenta hues. The theme is further reinforced with ominous storm clouds that loom overhead at dusk. It all lends credence to Big Sean’s growing fears of failure that he expresses in the chorus as “nightmares of losing everything boost my adrenaline.” These dark thoughts are offset, however, by comical lines such as “I woke up working like I’m Mexican” and more common Big Sean metaphors such as “My homeboy still gon’ pull up on them rims big as a Ferris wheel/ So many rides up on the curb my lil cuz thought the fair was here.” Despite its highlights, “10 2 10” seems like a rather short and unfulfilling song to invest so much money into. Not sure if that translates into the album as a whole, but you can be judge of that. “10 2 10” is from Big Sean’s latest album Hall Of Fame which is out now. Check out the video below. Continue reading →
One thing that you can’t hold against Virginia rapper Goldlink is that he doesn’t have great production behind him. With songs featuring stellar producers such as Ta-ku, Sango, and in the case of this song “On & On,” Kaytranada. This particular beat is so good, in fact, that it doesn’t necessarily need a rapper to accompany it which is probably why GoldLink doesn’t show up for about a minute after it begins. It even features its own beautiful vocals by Snakehips who sings the moving chorus “Oh my love, just set me free, take away the leash that ties me on to you./
Oh my love, why won’t you leave? Take away your hand so I can leave untouched from you.” Clearly, the beat wasn’t produced exclusively for GoldLink, but instead was just appropriated by him—still, it’s worth commenting on and listening to if not for anything else. However, GoldLink is worth mentioning as well. Although his voice and lyrics may be a little jarring initially—they seem to strongly juxtapose the warm beat by Kaytranada—they have a way of growing on you and eventually fusing really well with the music. GoldLink may sound a little like Chingy (if you can remember that far back into the annals of Hip-Hip) but his content and beat selection provide a great alternative to that of his contemporaries. Listen to and download “On & On” below. Continue reading →
Jay Z presents the world with visuals for his song “Holy Grail” from his album Magna Carta Holy Grail, which features Justin Timberlake. Don’t be alarmed when you start to notice shifts in tempo and glitch-like effects all throughout the video—the track has been significantly altered in parts to adapt itself to the screen and to reinforce a powerfully dark theme. In it, we see a beautiful representation of what’s at the core of Jay Z’s lyrics: the magnification of hardship and failure on a grander scale and the emptiness that it accompanies despite the wealth. This manifests itself in a mansion, which is at the height of luxury and grandeur, that is quickly deteriorating and collecting puddles. Inside, there are expensive adornments such as gold—embroidered, baroque-style painting-frames, a pyramid of champagne glasses, sculptures, and large stacks of cash, but that’s it—everything else is vacant. This is contrasted by masked-men dressed in suits carrying and shooting off guns and the look of constant and profound consternation by both Jay Z and Justin Timberlake. It’s a very moving and attention-grabbing video that does well to hold up to the standards set by Jay Z’s music. Check out the visuals for “Holy Grail” featuring Justin Timberlake below. Continue reading →
Lucki Eck$ isn’t your traditional type of rapper and the production backing him aren’t your typical kinds of beats. It makes sense considering the title of his last mixtape Alternative Trap which was released July 25. Although other fellow and newly emerging Chicago emcees such as Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa don’t neatly fit within the parameters of what we’ve come to expect from rappers, Lucki Eck$ is still more subversive. He has a very slow flow that gives the listener the impression that he’s perpetually high off promethazine, yet the fact that he never talks about it leaves you looking elsewhere for answers. Whatever the reason may be for his slow motion raps, if given the opportunity, Lucki Eck$’ unique style has a way of growing on the listener in a lulling and hypnotic manner. His latest track “Whole Stain” featuring Monster Mike isn’t any different. The beat, which was produced by Plu2o Nash—who played a principal role in production on Alternative Trap—does an especially good job of complementing Lucki Eck$’ style with a minimal, bass-heavy beat that can be likened to trap, but really isn’t. Listen to “Whole Stain” below. Also, take a look at his visuals for “Everything Out$ide” which belongs to Alternative Trap and if you like it, download his album here. Continue reading →
The chorus for Danny Brown’s latest single “ODB” is slightly too raunchy to transcribe here, and perhaps the other three-quarters of the song as well, but that, by no means, should act as a deterrent to your watching/listening to it above. Produced by a Rhizome favorite, Paul White, who is from the U.K. and has been previously mentioned by Danny Brown as one of his favorite producers, “ODB” takes you on a trippy adventure through sight and sound—kind of like the Twilight Zone, but less mind-bending and more disorienting. The beat features wild and spacey synths with heavy, pitch-bending wobble-effects that’s oddly reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. The far-out music is only surpassed by the psychedelic and lo-fi visuals provided by RUFFMERCY. Every element of “ODB” works in unison to startle your senses and to provide you with, yet again, a wholly original Danny Brown song. “ODB” comes from Danny Brown’s album OLD which is expected to be released on September 30. Continue reading →
There are a number of things occurring in New York hip-hop right now and unless you’re paying close attention it’s easy to lose sight of some of it. One of those things is the Harlem Renaissance scene involving, most notably, the A$AP Mob, but more specifically, A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. Lesser known, but equally part of this scene are Vinny Cha$e and Kid Art and their whole Cheers Club camp. Then you have their offshoots or contemporaries such as The Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies in Flatbush, Joey Bada$$ in Brooklyn, and then Action Bronson in Queens. But there appears to be a new movement emerging out of the Big Apple that happens to be lurking deeper within the shadows of the city’s skyscrapers despite its more buoyant and straight-forward approach. One member of this new wave is Black Dave who recently dropped his single “Taking It Back” for his mixtape Black Bart being released September 17. Another member—and who this post is dedicated to in weird and indirect sort of way—is Bryant Dope who released his appropriately titled mixtape New New York in May. Today, Bryant Dope dropped the visuals for his latest single “NNY” which features fellow New Yorker ANTHM. The beat for NNY was produced by Hannibal King and the video directed by both Bryant Dope and Max Goodrich. In it, Dope and ANTHM can be seen New Yorkin’ it up on rooftops and neglected neighborhoods with cool and charismatic flows that we have all come to love and expect from rappers from where the art-form originated. Bryant Dope even has another level of New York-ness to him(as if the Queen’s native needs any more), that is, his voice (or maybe just rhythm), which can be likened to that of AZ. Also, Bryant Dope may be sporting the same red bucket hat that Black Dave wore in “Taking It Back” but sources have yet to confirm this. All-in-all, “NNY” has that jazzy New York hip-hop beat and flow that makes you want to throw it on in the morning and get your day started on a good note. Check out the visuals above and download his album New New York below. Continue reading →
What is Los Angeles hip-hop? Before engaging in this discussion, it’s important to draw a distinction between L.A. hip-hop and L.A. rap. L.A. rap most often falls within the category of gangster rap, of which Los Angeles has a long history beginning with Eazy-E and N.W.A and stretching all the way to The Game (this lineage, of course, includes Snoop Dogg & The Dogg Pound, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Tupac). Kendrick Lamar and Black Hippy may be the latest contenders for the title, but that’s debatable considering their personas and deviation from traditional gangster-rap tropes, however slight it may be. Then you have artists like OFWGKTA, which includes Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. It’s safe to say that despite their aggressive nature and rough edges, Odd Future rappers and affiliates are not gangster rap, however, their rejection of widely-accepted mediums of hip-hop also excludes them from being categorized as traditional L.A. hip-hop. Tyler the Creator and other artists of that ilk occupy more of a grey-zone than anything, which brings us to the other end of the spectrum. Continue reading →
A$AP Rocky goes two minutes without a hook on his latest track which got leaked from the forthcoming GTA V soundtrack. In it, he addresses just about everything one would find appropriate for the highly anticipated video game: guns, drugs, and flashy cars. He starts off the verse by saying “Niggas pistol poppin’ like it’s 1999” which should give you pretty a good idea about how the rest ensues. Considering that the theme for GTA V basically parallels, if not embodies, the life that rappers have made standard in their lyrics, this untitled song from A$AP Rocky should fit in pretty well with the rest of the tracklist for the soundtrack, which has also been leaked and can be seen in the link below. This is the second leaked song from the album—the first being Tyler the Creator’s “Garbage.” It would be nice to know who produced the synthy, looped beat, but we’ll probably have to wait until the official soundtrack for GTA V is released to figure that out. Until then, satisfy your A$AP Rocky needs below. Continue reading →
I’m chillin’ on the rooftop/I came a long way from the boondocks/and I grew up on that Tupac/so I rock “California Love” in my boombox” is how Sol starts off his new single “Tomorrow” and it only gets better from there. Featuring Shayhan on the hook “Tomorrow,” is an easy-going and inspirational song that places emphasis on one’s goals as opposed to his or her current plight. As always, the Portland, Seattle, rapper uses his skills to tell a story about hardship and success without ever missing a beat. This song is a great contrast to his lead single, “Jump In,” which was released earlier this year and is more fast-paced and light-hearted. Both “Jump In” and “Tomorrow” will be featured on Sol’s upcoming album Eyes Open which will be released on September 10. The beat for “Tomorrow” is also something to take note of, which was produced by Elan Wright. Take a listen to Sol’s latest creation below. Continue reading →