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.