Since arriving last Tuesday, Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap tape has dominated the hip hop conversation, drawing almost universal praise from both critics and fans. Drawing from Chicago’s rich musical history and capitalizing on hip hop’s current predilection for left field flow/cadence(s), Acid Rap is easily one of the most impressive “mixtapes” of the year and will probably be the start of an extended debut album hype tour. “Paranoia” was originally a secret track at the end of “Pusha Man”, but has now been liberated as a solo track via another excellent “Songs From Scratch” collaboration from Yours Truly. With Nosaj Thing behind the boards, “Paranoia” is about Chicago’s gun violence, but that’s a simplification. “Paranoia” is about the ability (or lack there of) to live out a proper childhood. It’s about the disparity between media coverage of black on black versus black on white or white on white violence. It’s about escapism and youthful abandon. It’s about the basic fear of living in a neglected, destitute environment. Nosaj Thing’s floating, California sunset-esque production seems like an odd selection at first, but the spaced out soul makes all too much sense as the beat progresses. It doesn’t happen often anymore, but when”conscious” rap transcends basic political facsimiles and expresses the essence of a situation, it is truly special. There is no download link for “Paranoia” yet, but expect one soon and download Acid Rap in the meantime.
Nosaj Thing is arguably the second most well-known producer (Flying Lotus first of course) to work within the general confines of Los Angeles’ “beat scene”. As a result, the man born Jason Chung has spent the past few years touring the world and selling out large-scale shows across Americaland. It also means that his music is covered by large magazines and other media outlets, a largely positive trend that will hopefully lead to the wide-spread proliferation of his complex, moody sound. “Snap” is our second taste of Chung’s sophomore album Home, due on January 22 via Innovative Leisure (!). Unlike “Eclipse/Blue”, which is driven by dreamy vocals from Kazu Makino, a quick tempo and a blunt kickdrum, “Snap” is more akin to Chung’s past work in hip hop production. The percussion is sharp and understated, providing a rubric for ghostly synths to weave their exploratory magic. After witnessing the incandescent visuals that accompanied “Eclipse/Blue”, one can only imagine the optical magnificence in store for “Snap”. Stream and download below.
My oh my…This has been a long time coming. LA producer, Nosaj Thing, has been off the radar from the blogosphere for what seems like an eternity. Since his release of his debut LP Drift, Nosaj has been at work on his follow up LP Home and doing specific mixes for select shows (check out his mix for Mary Anne Hobbs here). Home is set to drop in 2013 from the good people at Alpha Pup. Before that though, we will see a 10″ with the album single, “Eclipse/Blue”, dropping from Innovative Leisure. The single is driven by low key beats that are only accentuated by Kazu Makino’s (of Blonde Redhead) cooing vocals. Stream the single in full below and hopefully we will see some more material off the album soon.
Living in greater Los Angeles, I have seen Nosaj Thing quite a few times over the past several years. He occasionally plays at Low End Theory, and routinely shows up at venues across the city. I most recently saw him play a superb set at a free festival on USC’s campus. Tomorrow night, he’ll be playing at Funktion Wednesdays at Dim Mak Studios. It is for this reason that it comes as such a surprise that Nosaj hasn’t actually released any new music recently. Drift came out in 2009 and Nosaj has been fairly absent from the studio since, focusing instead on his live gigs. There have been murmurings of a new album in the works, but no concrete details have emerged. That’s why it was such a treat to listen to the mix Nosaj did for Mary Anne Hobbs’ XFM show last night. Made up mostly of original tracks, Jacques Greene, Lunice, Jamie XX, Machinedrum and Jonwayne also make appearances. The gem of the mix is the last five minutes or so where Nosaj drops a brand new collaboration with Teebs, then leads into a rework of Kendrick Lamar’s “Cloud 10” (which Nosaj produced). It isn’t new Nosaj, but what can you do. Stream the mix below.