Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Rich Gang - Tha Tour Part 1

I must admit I kept looking at this on Datpiff and wondered 'To download or not to download? That is the question.' It looked like it would be a bit like last year's Boss Yo Life Up Gang mixtape which was Jeezy, Doughboyz Cashout & YG. It had a few good moments ie. DJ Mustard's trax but the rest hasn't stuck with me, maybe I'll have another listen to it actually. Mixtapes are free and hey this has got Young Thug on it, so surely it's a no brainer plus Rich Homie Quan's Still Goin In Reloaded mixtape from last year was one of the finest. I finally downloaded it. I was enjoying it a lot, until I realised this phrase 'Rich Gang' was being drilled into my head, like every 15 seconds. This started to gnaw away at my brain to the point that 5 or 6 listens in I couldn't take it anymore and had to switch it off. It was a bit like havin someone with Tourette's Syndrome yelling 'Rich Gang' at you for over an hour! Hey Birdman I know it's free and all and I don't want to seem ungrateful but surely the point is to get us to listen to the tape, not turn it off. The 'Rich Gang' phrase was used to the point of overkill. Maybe less should have been is more in this case. Having said all that I was enjoying Tha Tour. Flava's got a great spooky theremin going throughout, makin it a hell of a tasty track. I Know It 's beat is a dub-meets ratchet vibe that's irresistible, surely it could be a hit single. Throw Your Hood Up had me going back to and reassessing DJ Mustard's neglected (by me) 10 Summers as it has a tune with the same title. Imma Ride, Bullet, Who's On Top, 730, War Ready and Pull Up also stood out at this point of listening.The rest was probably gonna grow on me but if I return to the tape, I fear, I might get pushed over the edge by the 'Rich Gang' chant. Which is a real shame. Maybe these tunes are elsewhere, or on i-tunes, without that repeated phrase. Hope so.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Juicy J - Low

Just saw this. How old's Juicy J now? He's still rappin about rubbers! Nicki Minaj gives it up to her influences ie. Three 6 Mafia and southern rap in general but not for the first time she also appeared on J's 2010 comeback mixtape Rubba Band Business just before she became a superstar. Actually didn't she do a pre fame mixtape with Lil Wayne, another Southern rapper. Anyway Young Thug obviously couldn't make it to the video shoot and Lil Bibby looked like he needed to do a wee throughout. I like....late contender for tune of the year!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Rap Avalanche

A Quick Survey Of Recent Rap and R&B
Just when I was starting to think 'gee it was all happening earlier this year in the rap, ratchet, trap and R&B zones, but what's happened?' I was going back to hardcore, jungle and speed garage etc. (Reynolds has more on breakbeat garage here, loving that Ruff Da Menace track 2 F In Ruff (So What)). Then a bunch of new releases appear! Mostly free mixtapes but some albums too.

Now this is something to get excited about. Houston's Beatking, creator of 2014's best mixtape Gangsta Stripper Music 2, teams up with Three Six Mafia's Gangsta Boo for Underground Cassette Tape Music. Who would have expected this collaboration? Gangsta Boo & Skinny Pimp did feature on Gangsta Stripper Music 2 though. Gangsta along with The Scarecrow aka Lord Infamous were my favourite 666 Mafia rappers. It's funny because Beatking is one of the few rappers who sonically doesn't owe an obvious debt to Triple Six Mafia like so many current artists do. This is like Beatking goes on a 90s Memphis ghostride with Boo as his guide ie. this is some creepin shit. It's more Boo's game this one. Beatking's rave-esque Club Godzilla side is toned down slightly here but it shows he's versatile and willing to experiment. Gangsta Boo is in fine form here and hey I'm a sucker for anything reminiscent of the Memphis rap underground from the mid 90s.

Next is Ain't Nothin Bigger Than The B. King Kev turns up with Bread Winner Kane on this collaborative effort. Kevin Gates plays the sidekick to Kane on this mixtape which is weird and a bit wrong as he's the King. It's a bit like Elvis playing sidekick to Barry Mannilow. I don't think Kane is Kev's heir but there's plenty of kicks here although this tape is long and I mean bloody long like a Swans album. I was thinkin gee this tune MYB is great and a little familiar and it turns out it's from Kev's very own classic Stranger Than Fiction from last year. I don't really understand how mixtapes work, like how do they get paid, why are old songs reused? Who are these hood rich people? etc. Perhaps we could all edit this one down by about half.

Tinashe's album proper has dropped (what I'm sayin that now?!) after last year's mixtape Black Water. Aquarius of course contains the choice hit single 2 On. The thing is there aren't any other DJ Mustard productions here which was initially disappointing but I'm gettin used to it now. We've got some luscious tunes on this album and some that stray a little too close to the overtly but slightly bland pop side. She's at her best when it's post-millennial R&B, better than Beyonce and almost up there with Cassie. Tinashe's still at street level and is givin us the real edge that we want particularly on All Hands On Deck which is v Mustardy. On one tune it sounds like Dave Gilmore shows up doing an absurd guitar solo(?). Give me a few more listens and we'll see how it all pans out for me and Tinashe.

Rome Fortune's back. He has the best album/mixtape covers in the game and this cover is probably his best so far. I'm totally lovin that beard too. For this mixtape he takes an opposite approach to his previous tape Beautiful Pimp 2 where he used only one producer, Cito, for it's entire 11 trax. On Small World he's got every man and his dog on production duties including Fout Tet(?). It's a testament to Rome's vision that this all hangs together so well and might even be as good as Beautiful Pimp II. A metal riff shows up on one tune and strangely doesn't seem that out of place. The pace has picked up a notch or two on this tape. There's even a song, ie. with singing not just rapping, Friends MaybeRome Fortune is Atlanta's most intergalactically smooth dude, still doin his own thing, you know, haunted, intimate and whispered raps combined with trippy future hip hop.

*Haven't checked out the new ones for Gunplay, Lil B, Rich Gang, Key! & FKI, Que & Mike Fresh, The Church or Billy Idol yet. They all came at once! Well maybe I wasn't paying attention.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

UK Garage With Simon Reynolds

"Double 99 and Gant are just pure classic speed garridge. Deekline is sort of 2step turning into breakstep (breakstep really not a good development in my opinion, with a few exceptions - although he liked to call it Nu Rave, Deekline - sort of starts to merge into the nu skool breaks scene which you may nor may not recall - Rennie Pilgrem and others that my memory fails to dredge up. Stanton Warriors were the big breakstep act as I recall. But all of it -- speed garage, 2step, breakstep, proto-dubstep like Horsepower Productions, proto-grime like Pay As U Go Kartel, Oxide & Neutrino, and So Solid Crew - could be subsumed under the rubric "UK garage". Which runs from about 1996 in its earliest stirrings through to 2003-4 when grime and dubstep broke off as separate entities - so that's like an eight year period of great music and ferment in the UK dance underground, but also spilling into the charts. "I Don't Smoke" was a hit single."

*This was left by Simon Reynolds in the comments box of the previous post. Seeing as nobody clicks on the comments box I've put it here, hope you don't mind Simon.
As I've said, this is around the time I got off the Hardcore Continuum. I Don't Smoke went to number 11 in the UK chart for DJ Dee Kline in 2000, the year after it's original release. Horsepower Productions feature prominently in that J Rolla Proto Dubstep Mix with 3 tunes. Nu Rave & Nu Skool Breaks are familiar terms as I would have tuned into radio shows playing this music at the time but obviously got turned off by it. This is also around the time (99) I stopped going to clubs. I gave 2step a go but I just couldn't get into it. As far as Grime went I didn't hate it but I didn't love it (like I loved jungle) either, I guess that's indifference or at least tolerance, if it was within earshot. Having said all that it seems I'm open to reappraisals as some Speed Garage, 2step & Breakstep are now seeping into my consciousness in a very good way.
This is a beauty from 97.

Also from 97 and heading into 2step
This is a "Tune" from 97 as well.

Breakstep Questions Answered

Is this strictly speed garage though or more like something on the peripheries of speed garage?

This is a question I asked on the weekend, on this here blog, in regards to these tunes- DJ Dee Kline's I Don't Smoke, Double 99's RIP Groove and Gant's Sound Bwoy Burial. As if in answer to this Reynolds posts a bunch of I Don't Smoke remixes and calls it a breakstep classic. I wonder if this is a sub genre named in hindsight? Was breakstep a micro-genre post 2-step pre Grime? Perhaps it ran parallel to 2-step in the nuum.  Anyway there you go.

What about this one Soundscape's Dubplate Culture? It's got a bit of everything hasn't it? The micro-genre geeks must have had a hard time with this one. Whatever it may be, it's a classic.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Scott Walker & Sun O))) - Soused


It's there in my files awaiting listening and it's been there for a while. I know I will end up buying it just like you used to in the olden days when Tilt was originally released in 1995. You know, where in exchange for some money you get a physical item containing sound. I'm at a some weird crossroads though and I haven't got the nerve to put it on. Scott Walker has recorded 3 of my favourite LPs of the last 20 years, Tilt, The Drift and Bish Bosch. I have actually listened to these 3 albums a lot and his brand of obtuse existentialism, strange beauty and sense of the absurd usually doesn't disturb me. In fact I relish it (I'm about to listen to the 4 tracks by Mars on No New York for gods sake!). What's going on in my brain preventing me from clicking on Soused in my 2014 playlist? Don't worry 4AD you'll get your money, eventually. What am I afraid he might unleash? Maybe I'm worried it won't be any good due to his collaborators but as I've previously stated I don't hate them. Perhaps I think they're unsuited or too suited. Is it too soon? I mean Bish Bosch was only released in 2012! Should I look at it more as a side project?.... not the true follow up to Bish Bosch? Has the mystique dried up? It's called Soused! Will it be like a Cosmic Psychos album? I noticed a review at The Quietus and thought that might gently lead me into the album. I couldn't finish the article as it was the worst pile o shite I ever started reading in my life. I'm still none the wiser about anything! Stay tuned to see what my brain does next. Will I listen to it before it's time for the end of year polls? When will I shell out the cash? Will I even write a follow up post?

A good laugh I thought.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Proto-Dubstep, Speed Garage & Recreations

Funny how much I'm loving this Proto-Dubstep Mix 99-03 from J Rolla considering I was off the hardcore continuum come Speed Garage, 2 step & Grime. I didn't really make it back until the rowdier/wobblier side of dubstep showed up in trax from Skream, Rusko et al. Even then I was only into a handful of tracks compared to the hundreds of hardcore/jungle tunes that I loved (they would be into the thousands now since my rediscovery/reappraisal of rave a couple of years back). I mean I liked Burial's 2 records and Kode9 & Spaceape's Memories Of The Future but was that dubstep? I had Burial more aligned in my brain with Hauntological/90s Berlin zones and and the later with trip-hop territory.  Maybe I'm loving this mix because the material is so unfamiliar and perhaps I didn't need to get off the nuum around the tech-step to speed garage time. Especially because I've been diggin this tune (below) I Don't Smoke, which is soo good. It starts off like something from those nutty scallywags Position Normal doncha think?

Oh and this from 97. 

er...and this from 97 and I could go on..... Is this strictly speed garage though or more like something on the peripheries of speed garage? I don't know but I like it. There's even reenactments of this style today, check below Hodgson's One Spliff which is hard to resist as it's so damn addictive (No pun intended. Or would it be better to intend that pun?). This one via Energy Flash.

Anyway back to J Rolla from London, not to be confused with J-Rolla from NZ, who has a hyphen. Rolla's got a great bunch of mixes over at Mixcrate of 90s hardcore and jungle which are worth checkin out and er... some boring dubstep ones but you don't have to listen to those if you don't want to. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Reign - The Zombie Leader Is Approaching

Old skool German hardcore on Dance Ecstasy 2001 from 96! How good is that bass drum outro. A myriad of bass drum soundz...... Oh yeah!

And this....on the B-side. The mighty Skeletons March. How about that sinister and cold synth sound? Doooomcore! You know the score.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Rome Fortune - Beautiful Pimp II

I wrote this a while back but forgot to post it. This was released earlier this year.

Rome Fortune's Beautiful Pimp II is a great little mixtape. It's 11 tracks at just 30 minutes so there is no filler here and Fortune leaves you wanting more, which is rare in the rap cd/mixtape game. There are echoes of idylltronica, electro (remember the hip hop variety?), post-rave comedowns, trip-hop, ambient jungle, soul and vibraphone action. There are even hints of the jazz fusion end of drum and bass as well as downtempo soundz not unlike Throbbing Pouch era Wagon Christ. Beautiful Pimp II's got so much synth goodness you end up inside this smooth album's vortex and you don't wanna leave. It's digital like glass with no dirty samples. This aural soundworld is so crisp you feel it might crack at any second. This is one space age trip. Cito is on the beat throughout the entire mixtape making it so coherently flowing, like a proper album release and not just a bunch of tracks thrown together. Even when some scratching shows up it's so digital you don't end up in past hip-hop zones. Fortune's from Atlanta but he's definitely cutting his own path with his unique intimate laconic style. This is progressive future hop of the highest order.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

New Ariel Pink

Just noticed this was released. It's taken from his new album Pom Pom. Sounds like The Byrds or an 80s jingle jangle facsimile. Not sure if that's a good thing or not yet.