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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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jacques greene

There are few producers (if any) I’d rather have remixing Sampha than Jacques Greene and his contribution to LuckyMe’s yearly advent calendar doesn’t disappoint. Taking a rather basic approach right off the bat, Greene instills a steady four-on-the-floor beat to the melancholic original, a formula that has been proven to work by Bodhi already. In the edit, Greene’s take amounts to a simple edit, instilling some dancefloor fervor in the beatific original and giving it that little bit of JG flavor we know and love. Head to the LuckyMe website to download Greene’s edit as well new joints from DJ Paypal, Cid Rim, Obey City, The Blessings and more.

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All it took was a simple email. Earlier this morning, a representative from LuckyMe shot on email to The Astral Plane team asking us to take down an “embarrassing” press photo of Obey City that we had posted last March. In the quest to find the image in our media archives, I got sidetracked and, to make a long story short, became remarkably nostalgic. See, I’ve been working a full time job and, unfortunately, the blog has fallen by the wayside. It was just one of those occasions where priorities had to be shifted and The Astral Plane fell into disrepair. Don’t think that our lovely readers (the few that are left at least) and the artists we cover have been forgotten though. It’s with pleasure that our team is looking to relaunch and get back on the proverbial (blogging) horse. It made all too much sense that LuckyMe/Obey City gave us this initial propulsion as the Glasgow label and Brooklyn producer have been a constant on these pages since our inception last January. Obey City will release his LuckyMe debut, the Champagne Sounds EP, on August 6 with another beverage influenced EP (Merlot Sounds) coming soon after. You might recognize “Fallin” from Rustie’s (still) seminal Essential Mix from last year.  Expect to see a lot more of this and that on The Astral Plane in the coming days, weeks and months. As always, we love you!

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jacques greene - on your side

After proving he has the ability to work with vocalists on “Painted Faces” (with Tinashe), Jacques Greene is back with the How To Dress Well-assisted “On Your Side”, a song that toes the line between cheese-y pastiche and genre bending brilliance. While they don’t sound a lick alike sonically, it’s fair to file “On Your Side” alongside relatively new work from the likes of Duke Dumont, Disclosure, or even the pop-oriented fair of Omar-S’ latest Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself LP, in that it prominently features an established vocalist and is heavily hook-driven. This movement in feature-heavy house somewhat mirrors the late-90s explosion of garage in the United Kingdom that operated under the auspices of “bringing the women back into the club”. It’s no surprise that this trend is arising in the aftermath of the dubstep explosion (Disclosure have gone so far as to address that directly, also check out Blackdown’s apt response), and while a fresh breath of air in some respects, it’s trending away from tactful collaboration and  towards effete cornball antics. Regardless, holy fuck, how good do Greene and Tom Krell sound together?! If you can get past Krell’s often questionable lyrics, “On Your Side” is easily in the running for lights off anthem of the year. “On Your Side” is off of Greene’s upcoming LuckyMe EP of the same name and will see respective June 3 digital and July 1 physical releases. Stream the radio edit below.

Disclaimer: I’ve probably listened to the various radio/mix rips and live recordings of “Billboard” over one hundred times since Rustie debuted it in April. Just sayin’.

From the opening proclamation of “oh check this out”, S-Type makes his intentions clear for the Billboard EP. He will take no prisoners. He will push the volume into the red. He will not short you on bombast. His drums will crack. His synths will be crisp. And most importantly, he is the heir apparent to the LuckyMe throne. 25-year-old Bobby Perman has been releasing music since 2005, but it wasn’t until Rustie premiered “Billboard” back in April that people really started paying attention. And I mean really as in turn your head, let your jaw drop and stare.

What S-Type does with “Billboard” is truly remarkable in its conventionalism. The Glasgow-based producer uses a tried and true mold of huge Southern hip hop and essentially does it better than anyone else and the result is a song of the year candidate. Similar to what DJ Toomp did way back in ’06 with T.I.’s “What You Know”, Perman has gone bigger, badder and better than everyone else.

Amidst all of the hysteria over the melding of hip hop and dance music, “Billboard” manages to be immensely danceable without pandering to the “EDM”/Mixmag crowd. That means no dubstep-like buildups, a cool 99 BPM, and most importantly, no moombahton synth stabs! You thought it was impossible, but with a chord progression as infectious as “Billboard”, the world might as well have been turned upside down.

Perman could have easily churned out two or three more mediocre tracks within the same format as “Billboard” and had a success EP, but he admirably didn’t rest on his laurels The remaining five songs, while all similar to “Billboard” in their bombast, , mix the melodrama of radio R&B, smooth Egyptian Lover-esque electro and modern dance tropes. The result is something like Rustie’s seminal Glass Swords, although songs like “You Da Best” and “Walrus” lack the chaotic precision of the modern day classic.

In the end, Billboard is a collection of six huge hip hop instrumentals that are just aching to be rapped over. It’s no surprise that an A$AP Mob collaboration is in the works and I would expect the masses to follow. In the meantime, pump “Billboard” and “You Da Best” the next time you’re working out and/or getting hyped for just about anything. It’s clear that S-Type is going places and while he might not have the dexterity of a Hudson Mohawke (at this point), he knows how to craft a banger and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Many, many people have been awaiting this day for a long time. Ever since Rustie dropped S-Type’s momentous “Billboard” in his Essential Mix back in April, everyone and their momma have been eagerly awaiting a release announcement from the folks at LuckyMe. The word “huge” is thrown around a lot in dance music, but few tracks fulfill that title quite like “Billboard”. Vaguely reminiscent of DJ Toomp’s “What You Know” beat, the masses have waited on the edge of their proverbial seats for the full track, or at least something more than a two minute rip. Today that has come. Sort of. The Billboard EP 12″ will be released two weeks from today on October 16. For now, stream “Walrus”, a slippery vocoder-centered track that will also appear on the EP. Pre order Billboard here. Now if you don’t mind, I’m gong to go back to listening to the rip on repeat.

Cid Rim is straight of Vienna. At least that’s what his Facebook states. According to his band profile on the Affine Records website:

The world of Cid Rim circles around the boundless magic and mythical formulas of funk. When speaking of his influences and musical socialisation, the 25 year old producer and drummer of JSBL inevitably ends in the 70ies of the past century. Think of the JBs, big band sounds á la Stan Kenton or the drum breaks, which widely opened his personal doors to funk.

I like funk and musical socialisation sounds vague and appealing. Cid Rim also has an upcoming release on LuckyMe. That was the sticking point for me. “A Fall For Two” was played out by Lunice on his recent stunt on Diplo’s BBC show and is a brilliant representation of the 25 year olds production prowess. Unrelenting synths swirl into a fever pitch that never comes as clomping percussion performs its own jig in the seams. The track, along with “Danger Ranger”, will be on Cid Rim’s self-titled full length, due out August 7th on LuckyMe. Stream “A Fall For Two” below.