Remember rap in 2003? Sinjin Hawke certainly does. Specifically, Just Blaze production circa 2003. Sinjin has been strutting his production acumen across a dizzying array of styles this year, whether they be bombastic takes on ghetto house classics, wildly textured club machinations or space-age grime/Memphis amalgamations. For his latest feat, the Barcelona-based producer has been enlisted by Mixpak Records to remix label boss Dre Skull’s “First Time”, the advantageous dancehall slumper released earlier this calendar year. In the finest form of his career, Sinjin took original and put it through the grinder, transforming the sunny original into the best Just Blaze approximation we’ve heard in years. Considering his prodigious use of brass, it should come as no surprise that Sinjin can pull this off, but it still managed to catch this listener off guard. The remix is up for free download (along with a Curses remix) so stream below and grab the package here.
If you’ve checked out our guest mix series recently, then you’ve probably heard Rushmore’s “Bloodlines”, a monster of a track that contains just about everything you need for a proper club joint. Neana played it in his mix and then the Trax Couture boss himself had to give the world a little preview in his contribution. “Bloodlines” will appear on HOT002, the second release on Trax Couture (also run by Fools), which also features three other grime/ballroom/ghetto-influenced heaters. The EP is slated for a December 30 release date, but if you’re in the UK, then you can check out the Trax crew alongside Georgia Girls this Friday.
A few weeks ago, Wiley ignited a debate regarding the distinctions (or lack thereof) between grime and hip hop via his Twitter (as he’s prone to do). The conversation over whether grime is more firmly placed in the hip hop continuum or the hardcore ‘nuum has raged since the London sound’s arrival in the early 2000s and while authoritative sources like Wiley have had their say, the answer is ambiguous at best. A more prescient conversation between hip hop and grime has arisen (or at least been given its fair due) over the past few years and it’s one that focuses not on genre semantics, but on finding new ways to incorporate tropes from both sounds into exciting new hybrid tracks. This conversation is largely held in London and hubs of American club music like Newark/New York and Chicago, but some producers who reside outside of those meccas have taken it upon themselves to stretch, reorganize and, in some instances, rip apart the line (real or imagined) between hip hop, grime and R&B.
Hailing from Adelaide, Australia, Strict Face is an exemplar of the genre blurring, blueprint trashing ethos laid out above. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when we fell in love with Strict Face’s music. It could have been when a friend sent his Velour/Ciara bootleg our way. Or maybe it was when we found out he produced Le1f’s “Autopilot”. Regardless, we’ve been smitten ever since and have consistently rated him as one of the more convention-less, innovative producers in the extended grime world. For the 10th edition (!!!) of our guest mix series, Strict Face laid down nearly an hour of club-ready material, matching ethereal melodic content with the heft of tracks from JT The Goon, Air Max 97 and Blackwax. While largely composed of what is commonly considered to be instrumental grime, the mix traverses effortlessly into the R&B and hip hop realm, matching vocals from the likes of Tinashe and A$AP Ferg with the clicks and bass stabs that pervade the eski style. In the end, Strict Face falls more towards Kelela or Murlo than Ruff Sqwad or Roll Deep, preferring to update the sounds up yore with modern signifiers than purely channel the originators. Stream/download the mix below and hit the jump for the full tracklist.
As the last trickles of Grown Folk music comes out and the project is laid to rest, our attention now turns to Drew Kim (now producing as Druture) and Brendan Neal’s (now producing as Motions) respective solo projects. Yesterday, Druture released the long-awaited labor-of-love project Out Of Towner Vol. 1, his ode to Chicago rap. The tape features some of the most innovative artists to come out of the Windy City over production from Druture himself as well as Ryan Hemsworth and up-and-coming British producer Little Cloud. It’s a quick listen and spans a wide-range of vibes, but Druture’s vision is clear and, while far from cohesive, Out of Towner is a tantalizing look into contemporary Chicago rap and Internet production tropes (melding drill and grime/jungle). Head over to LiveMixtapes to download Vol. 1 and/or hit the jump for a few choice selections.
On December 16, Australian producer Strict Face will let loose the Birthday Riddims III EP, the third incantation of his voluptuous instrumental grime series. If you’ve listened to volumes one and two, then you’re familiar with Strict Face’s beatific melodies and ruffneck basslines, drawing mostly from UK ‘nuum culture with a little ballroom thrown in for good measure. While certainly fitting within the narrative, “4K Thieves” will not appear on the EP and actually first saw the light of day as part of a Soundpond.net compilation way back in 2012. I personally can’t wait for December 16 to hit, but this free download will just have to assuage the apprehension for the next two weeks.
Next week, Big Dada will release Wiley’s “Born in the Cold” single, a track that certainly falls more on the pop/hip hop side of the Wiley spectrum. There’s nothing inherently bad about the original (it’s actually a quite functional track), but there’s something about the interloping piano melody and Andreena Mill’s vocals that comes off as a little bit heartless. Maybe to add a little heart (probably not), our favorite remix-tician Spooky threw an “Even Colder” rub on Wiley’s original, adding a few key eski signifiers and adding more space to the vocal performance. As he’s shown in the past, Spooky knows just how much pepper to throw on his edits/remixes, toeing the line between reinvention and reinterpretation and almost always falling on the correct side of the divide. The East London-based producer has no idea if the edit will ever see a release, but considering how most of his work sees the day of light sooner or later I wouldn’t hold my breath.
At some point in the weeks/months Druture (former 1/2 of Grown Folk) will release the DJ Victoriouz-hosted Out of Towner Vol. 1, a collection of collaborative tracks featuring mostly Chicago rappers/vocalists and producers from all over the globe. Today we received “Spotless”, a deeply collaborative effort featuring stunning performances from Sasha Go Hard and Tink over spotless, feel-worthy production from Canada’s own Ryan Hemsworth and London-resident Little Cloud. The full mixtape will likely feature a number of similar collaborations (YB, Lil Bibby, Rampage), as well as production from Druture himself. The project has been a labor of love for Druture and should not be slept on under any circumstances.
if there was one proper criticism of Los Angeles-based duo Nguzunguzu entering their latest Skycell EP, it was their relative lack of restraint when compared to some of their compatriots (Jam City, Slackk, Visionist) in the grime/club music world. There was (and occasionally still is) a certain balls-to-the wall quality in the music of Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda that surely ingratiated the duo to their fans, but after a long period of releases, their tracks tended to sometimes lull this particular listener into a daze. Of course, that perception was crushed alongside expectations with Skycell (out now on Fade To Mind), a masterful collection of tracks that are far more sparse and mechanical than anything they’ve released in the past. Not ones to let momentum slip away, Asma and Daniel recently contributed a remix to Darkstar’s HD7 EP (out now on Warp) and the results are breathtaking. The juxtaposition of an almost trance-like chord progression with percussion more typical of Nguzu’s recent output (and the output of much of the F2M/Night Slugs fam) is something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future. Stream/download the remix below and cop the EP here.
If you’ve ever attended a concert at Orange County’s The Observatory, you know that the suburban venue is not the ideal place to witness dance music. The three tiered floor, segmented by walls and steps leads to inconsistent crowd movement, awful vantage points and a disconnect between performer and crowd. I knew all of this as I entered the Santa Ana venue on Monday night (November 18), but pushed it to the back of my mind as I primed myself for a night that would feature buzzing rapper Chance (The Rapper) and footwork pioneers DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn. Dubbed the “Social Experiment” tour, the three performers (plus Chance’s three man band) had been on the road since October 25 and had played 17 shows in only 24 days. With all of the performers hailing from Chicago, the night promised an air of cohesion that few touring acts can fulfill.
At first glance, the selection of DJs Rashad and Spinn as openers might be confusing, but the decision makes all too much sense when you consider that Chance has evoked his reverence for Chicago’s juke/footwork scene on multiple occasions in the past. Rashad and Spinn’s lightning fast, syncopated rhythms might come off as at odds with Chance’s gospel-infused hip hop, but one only has to examine the Windy City’s long history of dance music with hip hop leanings and vice versa. The crowd at The Observatory might not have been ready for the 160 beats per minute flurry that Rashad and Spinn would throw at them, but Chance knew what he was getting into when he brought the two artists along with him.
After wading our way through The Observatory’s outsized parking lot, we made our way into the venue and took our place among the hordes of Chance fans chomping at the bit to shower their hero with love and reverence. Overwhelmingly Caucasian and college aged, the crowd was, by and large, dressed in the Southern California norm of street wear brands, 5 panel hats and lots and lots of camouflage. Chance came on promptly after we arrived, joined on stage by a drummer, keyboardist and trumpet player. Over the next hour, Chance would lead the crowd through most of his recent Acid Rap tape in an expansive performance that straddled the line between hip hop show and performance art.
Hit the jump to read the full recap…
At first, Rustie might come off as an odd choice of artist to contribute to a compilation benefitting children in southeast India. That being said, the Danny Brown collaborating, rave-loving Glaswegian producer recently contributed a track (with the help of Light of Love Children’s Choir) to the Everything Is New Campaign and his involvement suddenly makes a lot more sense. Without the social context, most would probably assume that “Boatsss” is just another massive Rustie cut (one that will inevitably be played into the ground), what with its churning snare rolls and brighter than thou layers of synth work. After all, music is universal and Rustie’s music is especially uplifting/undeniably bright. Maybe he’s just the perfect benefit concert artist for 2013.