Over the past week or so, everyone and their mother have begun posting year end lists in one form or another. While perusing these song/album/mixtape/EP/single/live show/remixes/album art/video/DMX moment lists, you’ll probably come to the realization that you disagree with 90% of them and feel the urge to leave a vindictive comment on one article or another noting the surfeit of fecal matter spewing out of writer A or blogger B’s mouth cavity. First of all, resist the urge. Year end lists are silly and pointless, but they are someone else’s opinion. Anyways, we will not be writing any year end lists, because of the aforementioned clusterfuck that has already ensued. We will post a (brief) roundup of general shit we’ve enjoyed this year and maybe link to some other lists that are prescient or that mirror what we enjoy to a certain extent, but probably not. We have a bunch of amazing sounds for you this week, including Benjha’s brilliant “Flight Simulator, so maybe you should just hit the jump and enjoy some positive music. Maybe fanute around your room to it. You know we will. Just don’t think about lists.
So Big Boi has an album coming out next months and I’m trying with every ounce of will I have to get hyped for it. Actually, there’s really no reasonable excuse for not being excited for Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors. 2010′s Sir Luscious Leftfoot was a surly announcement that Antwan Patton can and will succeed sans Three Stacks. I do have a few petty gripes though. First, that Kelly Rowland joint was fucking awful. Like water trash bad. Don’t have to explain myself there. Second, a few years back Big Boi no showed (due to “DJ problems”) at Outside Lands and I’m still a little bit peeved. Ok, maybe that’s a little (read: a lot) childish, but I’m stubborn. Anyways, this is me trying to get excited for a new offering from the gullier half of the best hip hop act of all time. With ASAP Rocky opening the festivities (which I don’t understand), “Lines” is a predictable boastful single with non-descript indie poppers Phantogram on hook duty. Rocky and Daddy Fat Sacks are impressive, but I have the nagging feeling that “Lines” was conceived in some Def Jam boardroom. Like that Harry Fraud/French Montana/Action Bronson track from last week, it feels canned and airless. Nonetheless, with Big Boi flipping rhymes about alligator’s navels and play doh with ease, I can’t be too mad. Still hoping for another “Shine Blockas”, but a set of awkward collaborations wouldn’t be the end of the world. Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors drops on December 11.
Last April, The Smoking Section wrote up an excellent article on the “label that’s figured it all out;” namely, Atlantic Records. Atlantic is the home of artists like Wiz Khalifa and B.o.B, not to mention Plies, Musiq Soulchild, Diggy Simmons and Trey Songz. The Smoking Section article focused on the transition between the former three artists’ emersion as independent entities in contrast to their album releases through the label. Both Wiz and B.o.B. had built up venerable online followings, and their fans were clamoring for a proper release. The hype was a result of critically acclaimed mixtapes like Kush & OJ and Hi! My Name is B.o.B. Lupe had already released two critically and commercially acclaimed albums via Atlantic, The Cool and Food and Liquor, but it had been four years since the release of The Cool and both Lupe and the label were in drastically different places. The resulting albums, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray, Rolling Papers and Lasers, all went RCAA Gold, an impressive feat for a label in our contemporary commercial music landscape. The label had been able to do what few others could; turn out consistent commercially successful hip hop albums.
That’s where the trouble starts though. Are any of the three previously mentioned albums actually hip hop records? Sure, the are rapped verses, familiar song structure, and appearances by guests like T.I., Eminem and Curren$y, but the albums prove to be a thinly veiled facade covering a disconnected series of singles. For example, the amount of mushy bullshit on Lasers is astounding, considering the completeness and conceptual genius of The Cool. The album serves as a vehicle to get “The Show Goes On” (a thinly veiled rip-off of the Modest Mouse classic) radio play and into GM commercials. Just before the album was released, Lupe stated in an interview with Complex that he hated the album and was forced to make “The Show Goes On.” Granted, Lupe has been a little erratic over the past several years, but it’s hard to imagine an artist of his caliber willingly succumbing to the creation of an album that panders as much as Lasers. It’s easier to see Wiz and B.o.B. abandoning their creative chops for a chance at commercial success, as it is somewhat doubtful that those chops existed in the first place, but they too turned out disgustingly thin albums.
What’s the point? In the past few weeks, two of the most hyped young rappers in hip hop, A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, released singles in anticipation of their respective upcoming albums. Both also happen to be associated with major labels; Kendrick with Universal, and A$AP with Sony. While I would argue that Kendrick is still under the Top Dawg Entertainment banner, it’s hard to ignore the influence that Universal might have over the upcoming Good Kid in a Mad City. Now, obviously Sony and Universal don’t have quite the penchant for turning promising rappers to the dark side that is commercial pop, but both have turned out their fair share of awful radio-ready puffballs in recent years. I believe that both A$AP and Kendrick are miles beyond Wiz and B.o.B. in terms of pure lyrical talent, beat selection and their respective posses, but again, it’s hard to ignore the effect of major labels. (Continue after the jump)
A lot of new music surfaced this week, most of it in official release form (weird, right?). Albums/mixtapes/EP’s from Jonwayne, Beach House, Miike Snow, Odd Future, Martyn and Stewrat hit the interwebz in some form or another, but it was a comparatively slow week for remixes, youtube rips, bootlegs and the like. Still, any week you get a new Hudson Mohawke/Lunice track should be considered a resounding success! As a result, here is our slightly stripped down Week Six incantation of Sounds From The Astral Plane. Enjoy.
Stream: Jacques Greene – “Ready”
This one is from Martyn’s Essential Mix we posted earlier in the week. It’s just a low quality rip at this point, but shows a more house-oriented sound from Greene. Maintaining the wafty R&B vocals found on tracks like “Another Girl” and “Motivation,” but includes an acid house bassline this time. Look out for an official releases from Montreal-based producer.
This one debuted as a Big K.R.I.T. remix back in January as part of The FADER and HTC’s X Squared series of artist collaborations. While many (some would say most) Clams productions sound better on their own, this one could really use K.R.I.T. on it and really functions as library fodder. Still, let’s give thanks Clammy Clams for more free music.
Stream/Download: Dana Buoy – “Call To Be” (Teen Daze Remix)
Earlier in the week, we wrote about Teen Daze dropping his synths and picking up an acoustic guitar on his side project, Little Chords. Maybe we spoke a little too soon. Obviously, he wasn’t abandoning his synth-y aesthetic, but it’s nice to see him back on his greezy for this remix of Akron/Family member Dana Janssen.
Stream/Download: Swizz Beatz – “Street Knock” (feat. A$AP Rocky) (Prod. AraabMuzik)
LiveLoveA$AP was one of 2011′s biggest hits and still resonates as much today as it did on its release date. Today, DJ Screw disciple OG Ron C let loose his chopped up not slopped up version of the album. As a bonus, the redone mixtape features an H-Town version of “Purple Swag” featuring Bun B, Killa Kyleon and Paul Wall. The mixtape also features several freestyles from members of A$AP Mob. I’m a huge fan of most of Ron C’s work so this bonus version of the mixtape is quite the treat heading into the weekend. Download the tape for free.99 below.
At this point just about all of us know about A$AP Rocky. He’s from Harlem, he’s that pretty mothafucka, he’s worked extensively with Clams Casino and he makes swaggerific hip hop tunes. What most people don’t know is that A$AP has an entire crew behind teeming with talent and what better person to introduce them to masses than Canada’s own Nardwuar. Rocky, Nast, Ty, Ferg, Twelvyy and Yams got together at SXSW to speak with Nardwuar to give their fans a little insight into the Mob behind A$AP. While it’s difficult to take Nardwuar serious at times, that, combined with his unmatched ability to delve into an artists past, is what makes him such an incredible interviewer. There isn’t anything I can say that Nardwaur can’t say better, so I’ll let him take it away. Also, check out a preview of the upcoming Araabmuzik/A$AP Mob track over at Yams’ Tumblr.
Corduroi photo from facebook
Today, I have an assortment of tracks that didn’t necessarily warrant their own post this week, but are definitely worth a listen. Hopefully, this post will be become a weekly happening and feature up and coming talent that might not otherwise be featured. My music tastes trend towards hip hop and electronic music, but I will try and include sounds from across the music spectrum.
Stream/Download: Galapagos – “I Am My Love”
Hailing from Phoenix, AZ, Galapagos has a love for sample flips. 2011′s “Feel Things Inside” was one of the better instrumental track of the year. Recently, Galapagos has been on a James Blake sample kick and his new track, “I Am My Love,” does a nice job sampling the synths from “The Wilhelm Scream” and later chopping up some of Blake’s signature vocals.
Stream: Corduroi – “Emerald Rain”
I actually found this second track via Galapagos’s facebook page. Corduroi, aka Cody Wilson of Austin, TX, reminds me a lot of Mount Kimbie. Wilson started playing live instruments through his computer’s microphone and took off from their. Like Mount Kimbie, Wilson makes music that is as atmospheric as it is catchy, and includes world class drops and breakdowns. Wilson is signed to Mush Records, which has released tunes from Aesop Rock, Daedelus and Blue Sky Black Death.
Steam/Download - Sinjin Hawke – “Shadows” (Squadda B Remix)
These are two artists everyone should know about at this point. Sinjin Hawke could do no wrong in 2011 from his “Countdown” remix (those horns!) to his Lights EP, everything he touched was pure gold. Squadda B is one half of Oakland duo Main Attrakionz, and while Clams Casino does handle some of their production, is the main reason for their success. This is truly a match made in heaven and we would all be blessed is these two worked together in the future.
Stream: Bonobo - “Eyes Down” (ARP 101 Remix)
Earlier in the week I featured Machinedrum’s remix of “Eyes Down” off of Bonobo’s Black Sands Remixed project. There are a few other tracks from the album that can be heard at this point including the ARP 101 remix of the same song. I don’t know much about ARP 101, but the track is definitely worth a listen.
Last track is a new A$AP Rocky tune. Not much to say. Not really that “pretty mufuckas” best work.
That’s all for today. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the first week of The Astral Plane’s existence. It’s been grand and the future looks bright. Bookmark us, like us, tweet us, spread the word. The future is in your hands.
Photo from facebook
In mid-September after an initial media blitz brought A$AP Rocky into the public eye, his hype began to die down a little as fans waited for LiveLoveA$AP to drop. Then an unlikely figure rekindled the fire. Jim-E Stack, a New Orleans by way of San Francisco producer released his bootleg of A$AP’s breakthrough hit “Purple Swag” and not only freshened up the original, but also brought it to an entirely new audience. The bootleg focused on the droning, syruppy chords and infused some garage-y drums to take the track to a whole new level. The original functioned well as an ode to to the South and to cement Rocky’s status as that “pretty mothafucka,” but the bootleg takes it into the future.
Since the bootleg dropped, fans have been desperately searching for more tracks from the New Orleans producer and today we get our wish. Earlier, XLR8R debuted Stack’s Come Between EP, and is well worth the wait. In only three songs, Stack manages to expand on the individual aspects of what made his bootleg of “Purple Swag,” the droning Southern chords, the complex drums, and the perfectly arranged chopped up vocals, into more complete concepts. Come Between will be released via London’s Good Years and I personally can not wait to get my hands on it. In the meantime, you can stream the EP on soundcloud and countdown the hours until its Monday release.
Photo from facebook
Ever since DJ Screw started selling his tapes, screwed and chopped hip hop has been a consistent, but often overused facet of southern hip hop. The vocals were always there, but the beats often lagged behind with the exception of the more successful groups like UGK. 2011 saw an uptick in the use of the style and finally producers started to create layered, dream-like beats that could match the cough syrup vocals. A$AP Rocky and The Weeknd’s use of the style is the most well known, but a number of other artists have utilized the style as well, notably Kirko Bangz.
Bangz, who recently acquired a recording deal with Warner Bros, is not as consistent as A$AP and doesn’t have the “pretty mufucka” persona that has pushed Rocky into the mainstream, but he has several songs that sound just as good in the whip as they do in a smokey room. Check out his new track, “Knowmtalmbout,” featuring H-Town mainstay Paul Wall below and be sure to download his mixtape Progression 2 when it drops on January 19.
Download: Kirko Bangz – “Knowmtalmbout“ (ft. Paul Wall)
Photo from facebook
In late 2009, Lil B’s “I’m God” was released to little acclaim. At the time, the Berkeley rapper was known more for his with The Pack, but had a growing fan base attracted to his sometimes obtuse stream of consciousness style. The production was attributed to someone named Clams Casino (real name Mike Volpe) and while the track became one of Lil B’s more famous releases, it garnered little attention for its producer. Now, fast-forward to December 2011. Clams Casino’s Instrumentals and the “I’m God” instrumental appear on dozens of year end “Best Of” lists. Every producer attempts to replicate Clams’ dreamy production style. The success of two of the most hyped up and coming hiphop acts, A$AP Rocky and Main Attraktionz, are being attributed to Clams Casino beats. The young Rhode Island producer has come along way from being solicited for beats by “based” rappers on Twitter. While Volpe’s beats have become synonymous with modern blog rap, he didn’t always sound the way he does today. A few months ago, a tape titled B-Side Instrumentals and Remixes was released featuring some older, and more obscure Casino productions. While not quite as cohesive as Instumentals, the tape shines some light on the progression of one today’s hottest producers.
Listen: Clams Casino – What’s My Name