Tag Archives: Flying Lotus


The holidays are the one time of year when I appreciate the fact that my Facebook and Twitter feeds are flooded with promotional posts. That’s because the holidays are the time for giving, specifically the time when producers dump all of their bootlegs/edits/unfinished tracks on the unsuspecting masses. The quality is generally a mixed bag, but we’ve received a deluge of heat in the past few days that deserves its fair due. On the raps front, Lil B, King Louie, Fredo SantanaLil Silk and Fabolous have let loose new tapes over the past week or so. All deserve your attention, although save Lil B’s 05 Fuck Em and maybe spend a little more time with Silk and Louie.

The good folks at Mixpak were also kind enough to hand out a bundle of free tracks from their roster and beyond. The Holiday Bundle evokes the grime, dancehall and soca-based riddim culture that Dre Skull has so carefully curated over the past few years. Sudanim, Murlo and Koyote all bring their best to the table.

You’ve likely seen these already as well, but big hitters Flying Lotus, Zed Bias, Ryan Hemsworth Clams Casino all gave bundles of tracks away in the past few days. Casino’s third Instrumental Mixtape is probably the most cohesive attempt of the bunch, but FlyLo’s assorted beats, remixes and bootlegs offer some intriguing insight into the producer and his cohort’s recording processes. The Hemsworth collection is largely edits he’s designed for live play and the “Post-Rock Tears” version of Future’s “Honest” is a real beauty. Two step legend Zed Bias handed over 200 MB of live recording, remixes and production work under both his ZB sobriquet and his Maddslinky nom de plume.

Hit the jump for a jambalaya of free tracks…

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After we heard prolific Brainfeeder bass embassador Thundercat’s debut album, The Golden Age of the Apocalypse, it was safe to assume that the creative relationship between Flying Lotus and Thundercat would be one of the most productive and important collaborations of this decade. Yes, Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat has only released one album, but his bass work has been present in Flying Lotus’ music since the mind-blowing and critically acclaimed Cosmogramma, where his free jazz sensibilities created some of the most transcendent moments on the LP. Beyond that, the two have proven to possess crazy experimental boundary-pushing tendencies, a crystal clear collaborative vision, and a bountiful friendship. Because of this, their true promise is in the music they have yet to release, perhaps the music on Thundercat’s sophomore LP, The Apocalypse, which was announced this week, along with the first single, “Heartbreaks + Setbacks”.

Bruner’s music has always been emotional, but in the past it has felt like the emotion was trying to reach you from behind the smoke of indulgent free jazz, or through the frenzy of Bruner’s bass shredding. Here Lotus and Thundercat have tried something different. The emotion touches you. It arrests you for three minutes and twenty-three seconds and then lets you go. The pure emotion succeeds this time with the accessibility of the song, no doubt. It’s still got the snappy rawness of a Thundercat cut, but gone are the jazz fusion chord acrobatics, wonky drum patterns, and space station bleeps. You’re still riding high, but you’re in the clouds, feeling the wind, a little closer to earth. Mono/Poly also has a production credit on “Heartbreaks + Setbacks” and my guess is that he’s lent his ethereal production chops to the atmosphere, the clear, bright drums and that insistent synth line that feels like the a sonic embodiment of the iconic Brainfeeder spark. Thundercat’s vocal and songwriting performance is not without its setbacks, as some of the pop style phrasing sounds forced (as one user so aptly pointed out in the comments, “can’t nobody stop the juice so baby tell me what’s the use?”). Yes, it sounds a bit reminiscent of the radio in the early 2000s, but not distractingly so and perhaps to its benefit. Beyond its emotive qualities and Bruner’s clear technical skill, this is the most commercially viable music the duo has released to date.

The Apocalyse is out on Brainfeeder this July 9th.

flying lotus

Last night’s animated television enigma Adventure Time episode featured a never before heard Flying Lotus choon in the closing credits that has since gone relatively viral. FlyLo has released music through Adult Swim in the past so this foray into cartoon territory isn’t exactly uncharted, but it’s exciting nonetheless. “About that time//A glitch is a glitch” sees FlyLo return to the blunted 1983/Los Angeles sound that first endeared him to fans and pushed him into his current position as international beat scene ambassador. It’s fast, off-kilter and heavily based in 8 bit sounds and video game samples. It’s tenuously based in hip hop, but its rich synth arrangements and thumping kick drum are beyond anything the genre has produced to date. It’s vintage FlyLo with a more modern, filled out take. I don’t think anyone would be mad if he released an EP of similarly sounding songs. No word on a download and/or release date, but I think it’s fair to say that we all have our fingers crossed.

Captain Murphy - Duality

Over the past week, you’ve probably heard that Captain Murphy is a character/aesthetic developed and executed by the one and only Steven Ellison, known by most as Flying Lotus. Since arriving over the summer with a spat of acerbic, pitch-shifted tracks, Murphy’s identity had been obsessed over, driving more than a few people over the proverbial edge. Now that we all know that Murphy = FlyLo and FlyLo = Murphy, which really isn’t that surprising anyways, the body of work, both visual and audio, released over the past few weeks can be discussed in a tempered fashion.

Duality cannot be viewed as solely an album or mixtape. It is an aesthetic, built out of Adult Swim cartoons, video games, long nights at Low End Theory and bong hits. The 17 track project, or continuous video if you prefer,is brilliantly produced, yet disjointed. As a collective audio/visual project, it is one of the most enveloping releases you’ll encounter all year. Captain Murphy is introduced as rapper, lover, cult leader and supervillain. On the production side of things, FlyLo brought in heavy-hitters Just Blaze, Madlib and TNGHT, as well as Brainfeeder compatriots Jeremiah Jae, Teebs and Samiyam. Earl Sweatshirt, Azizi Gibson and Jae again assist Murphy with delectable bars. It’s a star-studded affair that FlyLo conducts blissfully, verses and beats flowing together into one psychedilia-tinged river.

Flying Lotus’ rapping debut comes as a mixed bag of offhand movie and video game references (Final Fantasy anyone?), standard Rick Ross braggadocio and a surprising amount of juvenile rape and phallus talk. On “Mighty Morphin Foreskin,” the word “niggerdick” is uttered, forcing me to believe Tyler, The Creator influenced Duality in one way or another. Despite its relative shortcomings, Ellison’s heavily pitch-shifted introduction to rap is impressive in its breadth, introducing a fully fleshed-out super villain character. More than just your average megalomaniac, Ellison’s Murphy character is a tortured soul, trapped within his own insane, ritualistic and hedonistic mind.

FlyLo also throws in enough head-scratchers like “learn how to do the dougie with the devil in the moonlight” to keep even the most jaded rap fans invested. That being said, the pitch shifting is jarring at times, taking away from the sublimity of much of the production. Similarly, the constant dick and rape talk is unnecessary, and despite being part of the Captain Murphy character (I guess), is detrimental to the album as a whole.

I knew that there was something fishy when the original list of producers (which included Clams Casino at the time) involved in Duality was released. Could a brand new rapper really pull in such a star-studded list of beatsmiths? Would Madlib really work with some Adult Swim channeling chump? Probably not, but would all of the aforementioned producers jump at the chance to work with Flying Lotus? Absolutely. With FlyLo tying everything together with some skillfully executed cult leader skits and beat transitions, the tape reads like a DMT infused night at Low End Theory.

Heavy on psych-rock with a sprinkle of boom bap and plenty of bruising bass, the TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke and Lunice for those living under a rock) produced “Shake Weight” is the one sonic outlier on the tape. Just Blaze and Jae’s “The Ritual” and FlyLo’s “Between Friends” are the two highlights, seeing both producers at their most innovative. My one criticism of the production is of Blaze and Jae for not cutting off that brilliant guitar loop at the beginning of “The Ritual”. If you’re unimpressed by Ellison’s rappity rapping abilities, download the Duality instrumentals and note how cohesive it sounds. Then thank Ellison. Actually we should all thank Ellison.

Now it’s time where you leave your friends and family behind and join the cult of Captain Murphy. It’s these sorts of events, and Duality really has been treated as an event, that make being a hip hop fan so damn fun. Scratch that. Make being a music fan so damn fun. If you can’t appreciate a dozen or so supremely talented individuals getting together to craft a distinctly weird tape with no chance of gaining radio play or profit, then you shouldn’t be reading this. We’re with the Captain, are you?

Can we talk about Steven Ellison for a moment? Just take a few minutes out of this lovely Sunday afternoon to recognize what the man stands for and what he represents in the 2012 music landscape. This little piece probably won’t include anything that hasn’t been said, but it’s so worth reiterating it, especially this week. As Flying Lotus, Steven Ellison has produced some of the most divergent, thought provoking and challenging electronic music of the past 20 or so years. Since his arrival, Mr. Ellison has essentially put Los Angeles’ instrumental hip hop movement, known by most as the “beat scene”, on his back, pushing it into international waters. Despite being the figurehead of this movement, touring incessantly and heading a hugely successful label, he is still the very best at what he does. Furthermore, he seems to genuinely enjoy making music, meeting fans and performing. If you’ve ever seen a Flying Lotus set, you know what I’m talking about. That ear-to-ear smile is just impossible not to replicate. That’s why it isn’t even remotely surprising that Ellison devised and followed through on the Captain Murphy project. Ok, his above-average rapping ability is a little surprising, but the fact that he would release a free album featuring a menagerie of the best MC’s and producers in hip hop shouldn’t be. So before getting to the rest of this week’s sounds, can we all take a moment to thank Steven Ellison? He deserves that much from us.

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Witnessing the widespread panic that followed the initial posting of Captain Murphy’s Duality last Friday was almost as entertaining and mind-boggling as the actual music/visuals. Some people are actually angry that Mr. Murphy’s identity hasn’t been revealed, while others indulge in the jaw dropping list of producers involved, attempting guesses at which beat can be attributed to which beatsmith. While the Captain’s identity is still technically under wraps, you can now take home a copy (in one long MP3) of Duality and fret over it on your daily ride to work! You can also stream the chapter-split version of the tape below, courtesy of Masked Gorilla. Apparently, a deluxe version of Duality is on the way, which will (probably) contain exciting features like split tracks, producer credits (!) and hopefully some more cult-centered visuals. In the meantime, stream below and grab the full tape here.

If you’ve seen Flying Lotus perform over the past few months, then you’re in for some serious (hopefully drug addled) flashbacks. Last night, Mr. Ellison graced Diplo’s BBC 1Xtra show with his presence, letting loose a stream of party ready tracks, ranging crunchy Dubstep to true school Chicago  juke. You might remember his chipmunk-ed out version of Schoolboy Q’s “Hands On The Wheel” and Mono/Poly’s “Los Angeles”, both staples in his live set. The mix also features a mini section from the one and only Gaslamp Killer, featuring tunes off of Breakthrough. If my words haven’t piqued your interest yet, check out “Flotus” below, a brilliant unreleased FlyLo jam that makes you wonder what else the madman has stuck away in his hard-drive. Head over to the BBC website to stream the full mix.

Flying Lotus has spoken recently about receiving inspiration from the hip hop sphere and an appetite to work with MC’s. It’s probably not a coincidence that FlyLo’s Brainfeeder label has bulked up on MCs over the past year, signing Jeremiah Jae, Azizi Gibson and The Underachievers. Over the past few years FlyLo has produced for Blu, Killer Mike, Hodgy Beats and most recently the enigmatic Captain Murphy character. You might remember that an incantation of the “Emperors New Groove” beat actually appeared on Hodgy’s latest EP under the title “Lately”. For some, his production work is difficult to ingest, which was most apparent on Blu’s NoYork!. Over the past few months though, FlyLo has cut away much of the excess, allowing the MC to shine over his production like never before. Think about how Earl and Murphy flow seamlessly in the veins of “Between Friends”. “Emperors New Groove” sees Gibson taking on Dom Kennedy-esque flow, waxing poetic about fame and the simple things in life, namely weed and women. Stream the track below and grab a download here.


Flying Lotus has been known to occasionally drop unfinished bombs on his Soundcloud, but this shit right here? That’s right, Mr. Ellison took on Mr. Ocean’s still-burning “Thinkin About You” like only he could. I’m going to dispense with any formal analysis at this point and just go with exclamations. Those hats! How does Frank Ocean still sound so good chipmunked?! Fucking Flying Lotus! 23 days ’til Until The Quiet Comes!. That is all. Stream below.


Back in April, a menagerie of characters joined Flying Lotus on stage for the finale of his Weekend One Coachella set, punctuated by a live rendition of “Hard In Paint”. The on-stage crowd was made up largely of the Brainfeeder cohort, but one prepubescent face stuck out. None other than Earl Sweatshirt was standing front and center flapping his stick like arms and wylin’ like… well like he was on stage for a Thundercat assisted rendition of “Hard In The Paint”. Up until that point, a collaboration between the two Angelenos seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream and their public relationship boiled down to Twitter banter. From there though… whew anything was possible. “Between Friends” is that possibility. Part of Adult Swim’s Singles Series (faultless as of late), the collaboration is another example of the Odd Future stalwart taking his talents in a new direction. Last week, he was featured on The Alchemist’s dusty “Elimination Chamber” and “Between Friends” sees him attempting another distinctly non-Odd Future sound. Both fans and haters of the collective will be hard-pressed not to sink their teeth into “Between Friends”, also featuring the mysteriously named Captain Murphy that sounds a little like Tyler. The fractured beginning of the track is congruent with the off-kilter sound FlyLo has carefully cultivated, a sound as akin to Dilla as it is to Aphex Twin, that is to say somewhere in the realm between sample hip hop and jungle. Earl’s sometime frustrating monotone effortlessly slips into the grooves of the beat and that’s about all you need to know. Lucky for all of us, the good folks at Adult Swim are giving away “Between Friends” for free (get it below). The track will not appear on FlyLo’s upcoming Until The Quiet Comes, hitting us on October 1st.

Download: Flying Lotus – “Between Friends” Feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy)

Update: Flying Lotus was kind enough to upload the instrumental to his Soundcloud. Much love Mr. Ellison. Much love.