Music for 1/23/23!!! Oddisee, Brainiac

@@@ Oddisee: Hard To Tell (Other Note, 2023) We’re starting to see new releases for 2023 and I’ve checked Mr. Oddisee a few years ago and his skills are as fearsome and complex as ever. He mugs the microphone over intensely composed arrangements — the bassline and keyboard guitar figure in this first track are not typical. The second track How Far, is funkier with the same intense rhyming style. He’s both hardcore in his approach as well as high end in his aspirations. I’m really feeling this third tune, Many Hats as he backs off verbally a tad and brings some slink to it. Oh shit, the fourth tune, To What End, is even better so the album is gathering steam in my eyes. I’m guessing this gent has extensive musical training, his shit is just ferociously skilled, intellectually, technically, his arrangements are thick and super focused and then he piles on with his words, it’s almost overwhelming. There’s a nerdy aspect to his intellectualism for sure and I wish there was more grit, but as far as I can tell he’s closer to being a jazz musician than a hip hop guy. Impressive.

@@@ Brainiac: Predator Nominate (Touch and Go, 2022) I saw the Touch and Go imprint and thought this was gonna be some old school roughness and you do get half a slice with the grizzy bass but there’s plenty of cloudy retro synths and drum machine beats from another era on tap here. I don’t know if your world needs more Nine Inch Nails inspired inspired aggro dance music but my world is agnostic on it. It’s getting crunchier as I get to the third tune.

Music for 12/14/22!!! Little Simz, Danakil Meets Ondubground

@@@ Little Simz: Who Even Cares (AWAL, 2022) Off an email from Australian music mag Happy. Fresh out of the oven meaning just released, I think I heard a pre-release track from this record. This is track 9 on the record and it sports a slightly retro, soft and medium funky attitude. She’s more than solid on the microphone here. Slotted as hip hop she’s more straddling r&b and hip hop. I’m checking out the second track Gorilla and it’s more raucous and more hip hop with an upright bass, splashy hi hats and sassy rhymes. I’m on the third track and she’s got spot on production and she’s skilled microphonically but I don’t find myself pulled in by the tunes.

@@@ Danakil Meets Ondubground Part 2 (Baco Records, 2022) I got to this big fat modern sounding dub record with trap hats, dub and blunted feels via the WRIR playlist email. There are a ton of guest singers on this record from loverboy to dancehall toast to rough boys. The sounds are very new with drum machines and synth basses. I’m on the fourth tune and it’s an interesting blend of sounds, a lot of which I like and some I don’t like as much. It’s cool to take sounds that are central to other genres and then put them into a genre I super dig but I wish it hit harder and had more classic reggae funk. Not funk from classic reggae but the overall funkiness of reggae is a main draw for me.

Music for 11/29/22!!! Earl Sweatshirt

@@@ Earl Sweatshirt: Titanic (Warner, 2022) I’ve heard Earl Sweatshirt’s flow before and I love his name but I’ve seen this record on two different lists for best of 2022. In my mind he’s not a mainstream MC but nor is he a left field cat, he’s in the middle of those two neighborhoods. He’s more than solid on the mic, rhythmically sophisticated in his lyrics, this second track 2010 features an arpeggiated synth that he bounces off of. Outside of his delivery and the sounds I’m not getting a real strong idea of what he’s about. If I got insane feels about the content of his lyrics bit I’m listening and I’m not getting that sense. Compare his lyrics to Billy Woods record Aethiopes and maybe you’ll see my point. The sounds are crazy creative and ear catching, I would just a little more from the lyrics.

Music for 11/11/22!!! Skanks the Rap Martyr, Persher

@@@ Skanks the Rap Martyr: Take it to the Streets (Anarchy Records, 2022) I got to this independent hip hop via a music publicist email. Skanks the Rap Martyr has plenty of jams up on Apple Music but not this track and it’s Friday and I’m lazy so wé’re just gonna rock the GooglePimpTube video below. A brisk retro-ish beat heavy on snare with lyrics lamenting violence in the hip hop community. There’s a really nice flute sample and energetic but not full on rhyming. It’s a straight forward track, I like the lyrics and the bounce.

@@@ Persher: Man With the Magic Soap (Thrill Jockey, 2022) I got to this metal outfit via a weekly email from Crack Magazine out of the UK. I have a conflicted relationship with Thrill Jockey metal releases — sometimes it’s noisy metal and I dig that and sometimes it’s more art school metal and I like that less. C’mon you gotta give props to any record title Man with the Magic Soap. This is not your typical metal, it’s more of an art school noise rock project. Plenty of fuzz, punk drumming, blasted distorted vocals. I like the first track but I didn’t finish it so I skipped to the second while mentioning that’s not a great sign. This second track Calf is pretty good with a spooky bassline and a shuffly beat. It’s cool. I think this is solid B stuff, I like a bunch of what’s going on here but I’m not jumping up and down. To my ears it’s an extension of Rob Zombie’s horror movie music without a lot of metal, more punk and no glam.

Music for 11/5/22!!! Bill Callahan, Billy Woods

@@@ Bill Callahan: YTILAER (Drag City, 2022) A coupla listens off this week’s Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. The record opens with a track called First Bird and it’s very reminiscent of Leonard Cohen but with a little ambient garnish in the back of the mix. Then the whole band comes in and it’s plain but completely without pretension which is a plus for me. I like the bass player here, he/she/they catching my ear a whole bunch. Both of the songs I’ve listened to thus far have opened with extensive acoustic guitar stretches which makes the record a blend of singer/songwriter and band rock. The record is meticulously produced and I liked the first track the best, that’s where I’m at.

@@@ Billy Woods: Paraquat ( , 2022) Already having put out one of my favorite albums of the year what could I possibly expect from a second Billy Woods record in 2022? Who wants to be the nasty slut wanting too much? I was listening to the back end of this record last night while I rode the exercise bike and while I wasn’t particularly carried away by the rhyming I realized how much I love the murky and gooey sound of Mr. Woods’ records. The video clipped below is the opening track of the record and it has both grit and Halloween feels. There’s a backwards sample here and a female choir sample that work well together, back and forth like the bellows of an accordion. His music is sonically dense and I appreciate that and his rhyming is intense. I’m liking the front end of this record a whole bunch. It’s hard to tell if I like more than his record from earlier this year as it’s a hefty nugget with plenty going on. His music is most definitely hip hop and gritty but with so much more on top of that so it can be consumed in a buncha ways. Whoever does his sounds rocks it.

Music for 10/23/22!!! Mavi

@@@ MAVI: High John (United Masters, 2022) I got a bit thrown off by the dreadlocks thinking this was going to be in the reggae neighborhood but it’s a chill sitch hip hop record. He does work the mic in the opener which is clipped below, the sounds are laidback but he puts out a lot of energy. The second tune, Spoiled Brat, works the same formula. I like his rhymes and I find the contrast that I’ve discussed here interesting and a big break from the onslaught of trippy trap darkness. I’m in the B+ area on this but I can see a lot of folks digging the sounds/flow combination. Lots of clean guitar strums, dreamy synth patches and funky non-denominational beats.

Music for 11/10/22!!! Surachai, Hilltop Hoods

@@@ Surachai: Veil (BL_K Noise, 2022) A pre release track I got to via a twat from the Gilead Media Twatter people saying this was a record of the year by a mile or some such. It opens with solo piano and then an increasing amount of electro sauce — ringing, resonating, glitching, and then a pretty bitcrushed beat and bass combo platter. On top of all that a dreamy female voice is layered, oh mad drama, mad dramas up in here. I like that crunchy low end bit, that’s pretty epic, the rest is a bit meh. It is a very interesting example of ultra clean and ultra dirty inhabiting the same space.

@@@ Hilltop Hoods: A Whole Day’s Night (Island Australia, 2022) I’m on the mailing list for Australian music magazine Happy Magazine so Imma peep some Australian hip hop so you don’t have to. Oy, it’s worse than British hip hop. It’s rhymed but sing song-y, it’s nostalgic with a cheesebomb chorus, oh no, a young female diva throwing a big vocal hook. Big flat beats, some percussive string samples and low energy rhymes equals sad face. I’m gonna finish this off though I don’t know why. Okay I lived through that and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t know if that’s cultural appropriation or an extreme lack of funk or just too many shrimps on the barby but it was rough.

Music for 10/9/22!!! Freddie Gibbs, Willow Smith

@@@ Freddie Gibbs: Dark Hearted ( , 2022). I got to this record via Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed records of the week. The first track is some bloated, overly dramatical Rocky boxing movie type track, oy, it’s a got a stale hip hop flavor and I have dug Freddie Gibbs business in the not so recent past. I’m giving a quick listen to the second track Blackest in the Room and it’s not the rhyming I object to, it’s the lounge-y sounds and the cheesy sounds in other places though in the second half of the track the sounds change. I like it more as the album continues but the sounds aren’t particularly interesting and engaging.

@@@ Willow Smith: WILLOW (Roc Nation, 2022). I think overstuffed is my first reaction to the opening track of this record. It’s very committed to a lot. The question isn’t settled as to how much is too much or just right. I do know if the song feels long and I’m checking to see how much is left that’s not a good sign. It jumps from indie to emo punk with metal flavors and then back to mainstream rock, oy. I like smashing shit together so I don’t protest that aspect of that record, but I’m listening to it as something put together and not really listening to it as music and enjoying it. It seems pretty self concious. I do give respect to her for the energy, she’s putting it out there for sure.

Music for 9/15/22!!! Coby Sey, Algiers

@@@ Coby Sey: Permeated Secrets (AD 93, 2022) A new release I got to via Crack Magazine and though it’s slotted as electronic he’s up in there rhyming, with a non hip hop intent. I like the sounds here and I’m not super paying attention to the rhymes. I’m on my third sample track and the formula continues. I feel I would pay more attention to the words if there were fewer and that I like the sounds. He’s also got a delay on the vocal (or it’s doubletracked) and that makes it harder to follow what he’s saying. I think that’s a big problem and they should cut back on the verbiage.

@@@ Algiers: Bite Back (Matador, 2022) I got to this track via a twat on the Twatter. It opens sci fi dark before a hip hop beat comes on with splash beats, an arpeggiated synth and then one of my favorite MCs Billy Woods comes in dropping his dark rhymes. I don’t love the synths here but I do like the beats and the piano and the vibe. The track is a bit on the long side and as a result of that length the tune morphs almost into another track about 2 minutes from the end. It feels a bit all over the place. It’s a mash of Prince style vocals, NIN electro darkness, and a little bit of hip hop.m Maybe it’s me.

Music for 9/12/22!!! Kenny Beats, Cryalot

@@@ Kenny Beats: Moire (Kenny Beats/XL, 2022) I got to this via this week’s 10 most reviewed albums on Pitchfork. I believe it to be a white MC we’re dealing with here, but in reality he’s a white producer who is releasing his first record. The sounds here are tightly focused, a pretty serpentine keyboard part, and a second and third added for fullness over stripped back beats that are certainly neither trap nor light listening. I’m checking out another track called Get Back and it has a similar feel — chill, stripped back mostly and focused. Towards the end of this track I feel like the multiple voices are a bit much. There are voices all over this track without there being much if any rhyming, though on this third track Hold My Head, there is an MC with an word understanding wise unclear but perfectly clear rhythmic part that I dig. Mr. Beats is a producer who has worked with a lot of artists so you would expect his solo record to be well produced and it is. I’m going to check out more of this when I get a chance but I like the sounds here and the sounds on a record with not a lot of rhyming is pretty much the most important thing, no?

@@@ Cryalot: Labyrinth (Self released, 2022) I can’t remember how I got to this track, fucking sue me! This tune is an interesting blend of pop, rock and electronic elements. Ms. Cryalot’s voice is young sounding, and she does her thing over a pleasantly grizzy bass sound, plenty of insecty-y ch ch ch sounds and pop stylings. The chorus is my least favorite part of the track while the bass sound is my favorite. I like the track and I usually like pop tracks that have a dark message as I find that contrast between happy sounds and dark ideas interesting. Here it’s more of a pop track combined with a dreamy lyrical component.