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Knxwledge

House Shoes is something of anomaly in 2012, opting not to engage in the average histrionics and/or internet antics to gain fame. Instead, the Detroit native has slowly garnered a loyal fan base largely due to outworking, out-digging and out-producing the competition. Like Black Milk and other Detroit-based producers, Shoes’ sound is indebted to Dilla, but you would be shorting him if you defined him by that affiliation. Anyways, Mr. Shoes finished up a brief tour of the Pacific Northwest along with Guilty Simpson, Knxwledge and Samiyam. To celebrate the tour, Knxwledge took on Shoes’ “Crazy” which also features Simpson and Black Milk. As he’s prone to do, Knxwledge flipped “Crazy” into an impossibly smooth bit of soul-searching hip hop that even takes some of the edge off of Guilty’s toss you around verse. Sad you missed the tour (we are)? Listen to this. It’s not quite as visceral, but you’ll get the point. Stream below and download here courtesy of Fresh Selects.

Back from a long hiatus as a result of midterms, I present you with Unions album, Analogtronics. Union is a production duo of artists named OJ and Gold based in Paris. Throughout this album we see their tendency to use synths and keyboards to create very calming electro soul. For a sampler of the dynamic beats to come, check out “Blue Wave.”

The beats throughout this album reminds me of some of Dam Funk’s work  with his stress on the keyboard and heavy synths. The laid back productio pairs perfectly with the dope list of featured MC’s and vocalists. Union enlisted the help of Talib Kweli, Sly Johnson, MF Doom, Moka Only, Rachel Claudio, Elzhi, Big Pooh, Janic, Roc Marciano, Guilty Simpson, and Mani Hoffman. It’s a stellar lineup to say the least. The single off the album is “Time Leak” with Talib Kweli and Sly Johnson. Kweli’s raw talent is showcased and Sly Johnson provides soulful background vocals.

It’s a new experience to hear Kweli on this type of beat and on he goes off on the track. Along with Kweli’s single, we get a new track from the legendary MF Doom as well.  This is one of the better songs that Doom has released recently and deserves to be checked out by his fans. Like with Kweli on “Time Leak,” the production on “Coco Mango” matches Dooms flow and lyricism perfectly.

Another standout track is “Fallin” with Big Pooh and Janic providing vocals. It’s been awhile since I have listened to Big Pooh since the end of Little Brother in 2010.  It certainly is comforting to see that the talented MC is still making music.

All in all I highly recommend this album to any hip-hop head, beat junkie, and/or Dam Funk fan.  I find that this album reaches out to a broad demographic of listeners because of the solid production. Besides the solid features on the album, the eight instrumentals showcase their production talent. It’s definitely an album to discover and enjoy during the hectic frenzy of midterms.