Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cobblestone Jazz delivers thought provoking music

I listen to a lot of music and am always searching for something new. This search has recently led me to electronic music. Cobblestone Jazz, a trio of electronic musicians with traditional music education, improvises their music from machines both in the studio and live. With the release of their album 23 Seconds they have been in constant demand overseas, but recently found time to do a series of dates in the states. Late Saturday night they took the stage at Nectar.

Slowly building their sound up they tweaked at mixing boards, stared at computer screens, banged on drum machines and one member plays the fender Rhodes while adding vocals processed through a vocorder.

For me I enjoy the build up in their style of electronic music. It doesn’t just start out fast and up tempo, it climbs up the BPM ladder slowly, all the while they are quick to let the song breath introducing new elements and bringing in the spacey house feel.

As the music grows you can see the guys in Cobblestone Jazz getting more and more excited. They like to say that they build off each other’s playing and watching them perform you can see what they mean. As you see one go off on a tangent the others will sit back, digest the move and then come back in with the perfect retort.

It is with this theme running throughout the night that Cobblestone Jazz performed until last call always building and developing new sounds just for your enjoyment. Whether you were dancing to the grooves, listening to every little nuance of sound, or just vibeing out with your friends Cobblestone Jazz had everyone’s attention with their progressive electronic arrangements.

Cobblestone Jazz "23 Seconds"

Originally posted here on February 28th 2008

Amp Live + Radiohead = A dope remix album

At a time when every producer is trying to make a new American Gangster, leave it to the forward thinking producer Amp Live of the duo Zion I to wreck the game with an eight track remix tribute to Radiohead’s much talked about In Rainbows.

The story goes Amp Live has always been a huge fan of Radiohead and when he heard about their internet marketing plan with In Rainbows he was blown away. When he got his copy he sat down and recreated it. After chopping, looping and inviting some friends over, Rainydayz Remixes is here for all to enjoy.

Amp Live pulled on his history with electronic music production here, something that can be seen heavily on the early Zion I releases but less on the newer albums. This style of production is dangerous, but he seems to balance it well with his Hip Hop sensibilities producing tracks such as “15 Stepz,” with it’s guitar heavy intro before flipping into a smooth acoustic guitar melody for Codany Holiday to sing over, paying perfect tribute to Thom York but still making it their own.

It is with this sort of respect to the original tunes that Amp Live tackles every song here. Constructing beats for respected emcee’s Charli2na, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Too $hort along with several instrumentals, Rainydayz Remixes is a beautiful demonstration of what an artist can do when allowed to be creative.

Upon his releasing of this album Amp Live received cease and desist orders to stop production. He was able to get a stay and get the album to the members of Radiohead who signed off on it. Amp Live wants you to hear this album and so do the ones who he made it in tribute to. It’s free so you might as well download it!

Amp Live "Weird Fishez"

Amp Live ft. Too $hort & MC Zumbi "

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Float into spring with "Megaphone"

Underground Hip Hop gets a bad rap (pardon the pun) often times as to nerdy or to conscious, with people calling the fans “backpackers” in reference to the backpacks always found strapped to them, even if they are empty. But the one thing about the underground is it provides artists with freedom to make music exactly as they want.

Enter Moe Pope & Headnodic as Megaphone. As former members of the much hyped Crown City Rockers this emcee and producer duo is taking it back to the essence of Hip Hop but with some nice twists to make it all their own for the two double 0 eight!

Headnodic handles all the beats here and shows that he is certainly a well rounded producer and digger pulling samples from many albums and producing live instruments on tracks like “Firelude.”

On top of delivering an album that would make the legends who have inspired Headnodic’s music proud the whole crew (Project Move) comes in for three “Homework” sessions where they break down the best producers paying tribute to everyone from J Swift to Pete Rock to Mantronix and end with the one and only J Dilla! As they say “This cat doesn’t make beats man, this cat composed music.” Headnodic must have taken this to heart because this is a great example of a producer directing the music of an entire project.

Moe Pope is a good emcee who can ride Headnodic’s beats well. Even though he is from Boston he has a bit more of that Bay area sound to his voice which is complemented well by Headnodic’s beats with a more early 90’s west coast Alkaholiks/Pharcyde feel. From the “Intro” you are sucked in with a nice choir humming in the background and some sparkling piano keys. Moe Pope comes right in and tells y’all what it is you have popped into your stereo and from there it just keeps on rolling.

The mood changes from high intensity bangers (“Grit” & and check out the uplifting horns on “Durty”) to mellow self reflection as Moe Pope is just a regular cat trying to spit some rhymes and speak to the people.

This doesn’t mean he can’t have fun either though as him and Zion I get down for the ladies on the aptly named “Ladies.” With a fun beat, Headnodic chopped up some good flute sounds for the loop and drops in some nice trumpet work from what may be Miles, but don’t quote me! Far from just a cheap attempt to cross over, Pope and Zumbi speak about the woman in their life who have really helped them grow and become men. “A special shout to the superwoman,” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Megaphone is an album to remind you that Hip Hop can be fun. It’s arriving at the end of winter, a time when many retreat and stay out of the public and the elements. As spring arrives Moe Pope & Headnodic have delivered a record that can get you inspired and help move this slow start to a year in Hip Hop along.

Moe Pope & Headnodic "Drop"

Moe Pope & Headnodic "Grift"

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's Just My Thoughts... Vol. 3

Another week past and more craziness going down! But before we get into all that I just want to send a big thank you out to Saigon, dude came to town and killed it! Then he spent an afternoon talkin with the people at Seattle Central. This guy is on some real uplifting Hip Hop music and he deserves his props!

Now let’s get this thing started. Bun B is coming to town April 4th! Nuemo’s is about to be crackin! He was out here in November or December at the War Room but I couldn’t make it so I’m definitely trying to make it out to this show. RIP Pimp C.

I have to once again give respect to for dropping another fresh interview. This week they sat down with Olu Dara. That’s right Nasir Jones pops! Check it out here.

Any of y’all see the new site that popped up this week What do you think? Is Em going to come back and wreck the game? My boy Mike says that him and Dre are back in the lab and Em is on his Slim Shady/Marshall Mathers type ish? Can Eminem make a come back and deliver that classic record all the heads have been waiting for?

Lastly, I didn’t do anything in tribute to J Dilla last week. I know every website has cooked up something and I’m sure at one point I will do a Dilla post but until that day if you are not familiar with his music go to Youtube, or iTunes, or wherever it is that you get your music from and listen to some J Dilla – you will not regret it!
Originally posted here on February 22nd, 2008.

Kublakai steps forward

If one song could explain how I feel about Hip Hop, I would probably have to give the award to “Love Story” from Kublakai. With a perfectly melancholy beat courtesy of Budo, he explains his infatuation with this music and why you can’t ever escape it.

It is his love for this music that proves to be both the doing and undoing of this record. Where Kublakai succeeds in writing lyrics that are at times witty, insightful, and even show some depth, he fails to discover a delivery that consistently helps convey his message.

When Kublakai steps out of the funny voiced persona he performs as on some of the record you see hints of the makings of an everlasting emcee. You can see his dedication to the art of rhyme writing and he has made sure that his flow matches the beat perfectly.

The beat selection here is top notch from the harder edged opener “All Else Fails” with some nice piano chops and brilliant cuts courtesy of DJ Nphared to Grieves dark and moody production on “Torn Down Torch” and “Talk That Talk,” Kublakai found the appropriate musical backing to deliver his definition of The Basics.

Over triumphant horns BeanOne drops a crazy beat for the title cut and Kublakai tears the track apart going hard at anyone who may challenge his seriousness about being an emcee, peep the end of his third verse:

I ain’t gon say a thing
I’m just gon let it be
I’m just gon let ya see what truth is when you set it free
And let’s see if I don’t manifest my destiny
And after y’all be in a rush to copy down the recipe
And measure me directly next to who they say the best emcee is

And it is when he spits with this intensity and passion that you feel the love that I mentioned from “Love Story.” On tracks such as “Whisper, Whisper” and “Doctor’s Prescription” you see Kublakai engage in a comedic style that while entertaining at first loses it’s novelty after the first few listens. Luckily Slouch isn’t weak behind the boards and you can’t help but want to sit and hear his beats play.

However theses songs do not make up the majority and there are more than enough examples of Kublakai demonstrating his passion. On the Sebino produced “Corruption” he addresses Kno and deads any rumors that may still be floating around:

I’d be damned if I spend a mil on a new chain
I’d probably give it to Kno
Tell him dude thanks
You’ll never know what you did for me
That’s a true statement
And please believe I’ll remember you if I do make it

The Basics shows much promise for Kublakai. He has the skill to write the lyrics and he has a passion for the art. But more than that he is trying to do something different, and even though it may need some more development he is a young artist who has many ideas and doesn’t appear to be afraid to experiment.

Kublakai "Love Story"

Originally posted here on February 20th, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Akrobatik delivers the "Absolute Value" of Hip Hop

Last month Akrobatik came to town as one third of the Perceptionists. While Mr. Lif is the most well known member of the crew Akrobatik has been an underground mainstay dating back to 1998 when he started dropping classic 12’s and repping Boston to the fullest.

While always an amazing emcee his skill’s were, and still are, at a level many can’t mess with. This can prove to be a double edge sword as it provided Ak with much critical acclaim but little support from more than the hardest of heads. With the release of his sophomore album Absolute Value, Akrobatik has to be aiming for that mass appeal.

Teaming with Fat Beats, he went for broke and pulled out all the stops. Absolute Value is filled with great guest spots and production from a who’s who in the Hip Hop underground. But the guests don’t take anything away from what it is Akro is trying to provide to the people and that is some classic Hip Hop for your listening pleasure.

His greatest gift is his voice. It’s deep but not gruff; he can rock a hard core banger like the opener “A to the K” with B-Real on the hook (watch out for a remix with a full verse from the Cypress Hill front man!) and then flip it up over the always dusty drums of Brooklyn’s own Da Beatminerz on “Soul Glo.” Along with some nice piano keys and some chopped up horn stabs it’s good to hear Evil Dee and Mr. Walt still rocking and listening to Akrobatik rhyme smoothly over their beat sounds perfect!

And this is pretty much the formula for the entire album, dope beats and dope rhymes. Illmind shows up and continues to demonstrate how he intends to wreck the game delivering four beats each with a different vibe but still maintaining a cohesive mood for Akrobatik to set for his album. From “Rain” with its opening haunting vocal sample and transition into a powerful anthem about pushing forward to the Bumpy Knuckles assisted banger “If We Can’t Build” the rapport between Ak and Illmind will remind you of another duo whose emcee emerged out of the Boston scene.

But while an Illmind and Ak album would be amazing, this right here is about Akrobatik and how fresh he keeps it. Pulling J Dilla out of the grave with the monster “Put Ya Stamp On It” featuring an incredibly fresh and revitalized sounding Talib Kweli, it’s obvious that Akrobatik wanted that raw and dusty sound to run throughout his album.

But even while getting his grimey Hip Hop swagger on Akrobatik has to take time out and sit back to kick some facts to the ladies, speaking to what sounds like that special one on “Back Home To You” over a beautiful arrangement of strings and keys courtesy of Therapy. This is what Hip Hop is all about, that raw and real emotion. Whether it’s in a song addressing the ills of Hip Hop or the hardships of touring, staying away from the fam for much to long Akrobatik addresses it all and he does it with a style and grace that few emcees could hope to touch.
Originally published here Febuary 19th, 2008

Saigon has (finally) arrived!

Ladies and gentleman Saigon is coming to Seattle! From his reoccurring role on HBO's "Entourage" to signing with Just Blaze and dropping a lead single with the one and only Hova, Saigon has steadily built his career without dropping a proper full length.

"The Greatest Story Never Told" has been one of the most anticipated albums for several years now and no matter what happens it seems to stay heavily expected. Saigon has explained that he never had an official date and the album is just now being mastered, hopefully this proves to be true, but regardless of his album setbacks he will be at Nuemo's on Wednesday the 20th – will you?

If you're nervous about how good the show will be your fears may be justified, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a chance. You're guaranteed to see two live sets from Seattle's own Cancer Rising and Dyme Def -- both of whom have proven themselves as energetic and fun acts.

Then there is Saigon. While he may seem to be a young artist he has been on his grind back in New York since 2001, after leaving prison where he captured the attention of fellow inmates who dubbed him "The Yardfather."

From the endorsement of inmates to Mark Ronson, the producer responsible for everyone's favorite drunk Amy Winehouse, to Just Blaze, Saigon has impressed those who need not ever be impressed. If that isn't incentive enough check his track record.

Saigon has continually dropped acclaimed mixtapes, most of which have been picked up with some form of national distribution. A quick search on iTunes reveals several singles and mixtapes available as well. Even if all you have heard is the amazing "Come on Baby," how can you not be excited to see that track live? From the J. Geils guitar sample to the monstrous drums Just laid down, this track is tailor-made to tear down clubs.

And tear down the club is what Saigon should do Wednesday evening. Everything points to this fact. No one survives the New York underground without some bad shows under his belt, but no one emerges out of it without a lot more amazing shows. Saigon is coming to town and he is excited to perform in the "city with the needle." Let's give him the welcome Seattle Hip Hop can deliver and get down with some of that good ol' NY boom bap Saigon and Just Blaze have brought back.

And if you really want to see both sides of Saigon you will check out the screening of "Books Not Bars" at Seattle Central on Thursday the 21st at 1 PM. Saigon will be in attendance and a conversation will follow the film.
Orginally published here Feburary 18th, 2008.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Hip Hop take on Pinback

Somehow I ended up at the Showbox Thursday night to watch about an hour of Pinback’s set, and I have to say that all my expectations were met.

What were these expectations? Well lets just say I wasn’t optimistic about the performance and by the third song I was convinced that their was nothing this band could do to impress me.

Then the drummer just had to go and lay down a ridiculous groove – of course after maybe four bars it was ruined by the addition of fairly lame and uninspired guitar playing. The bassist showed moments of some funk, but the ramblings of their lead “singer” killed any shreds of optimism I was still holding on to.

I listen to soul music. Yeah I know I’m the resident Hip Hop head around Spi but you want to talk about singing I’m gonna hit you with that “Just As I Am” from Bill Withers or if you want something more modern “Words and Sounds Vol. 1” from Jill Scott. This summer I was obsessed with the one and only Isaac Hayes. This is the singing I’m used to and respect.

To me, a lot of these modern groups that I hear are missing that vital element in their singer: Soul. And when I say soul I mean some depth and life to the vocals. A voice that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I want to feel the emotion that went into writing the words you’re singing. On that note, I will be the first to admit that I don’t know about nor have any interest in this style of music. It just doesn’t connect.

And that’s what got me thinking.

What is it that, for this group of about one thousand people, they see and hear that I don’t? I know musical taste is completely subjective and I’m sure there is music I love that many would have no interest in – but how do these tastes develop?

I don’t now if this is possible to answer but seeing so many people get down to Pinback’s music the same way that I would if I were at any number of shows intrigues me. What do y’all think? Has anyone ever experienced something similar to this?

It's Just My Thoughts... Vol. 2

I’m back at it again, I apologize for the absence last week sometimes things are unavoidable!

For all you Devin fans out their he left Rap-A-Lot this week and if you want all the details straight from his own mouth check out this dope interview right here, he even mentions Seattle as his favorite city to hit! Check it out and if you’re not familiar with his style of country rap tunes do some homework… You won’t regret it.

I must say I’m pretty bummed about the events that played out on Thursday (yes, Valentines Day) in Olympia on Evergreen’s campus. It seems during a dead prez show a fight broke out and things escalated, ending in a riot and the destruction of a police car! Check out the full story here. dead prez has always had a serious message and a lot of animosity towards authority figures and while I wasn’t there I have a feeling that they probably didn’t do much to help the situation stay calm – although I doubt the arrival of police in riot gear helped either! It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the North West Hip Hop community.

Kanye announced his “Glow in the Dark” tour dates and he is kicking the show off right here in Seattle on April 16th. With his reputation for incredible performances I’m sure he will be looking to out do himself once again so get your tickets before they are gone! Now if only he can convince his big brother that Seattle is worthy of a tour stop… I can hope can’t I?

Till next y’all stay up!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Grynch lays claim to the crown

As bad as this may sound some rappers just sound tight when you listen to them flow. Of course the problem with this is that a lot of times these rappers that “sound” good aren’t usually saying anything of substance. Grynch happens to have one of the nicest flows in Seattle and he always has something to say.

What at first sounds like a project birthed out of any town in the states, My Second Wind is anything but formulaic by Seattle standards. With a wide arrangement of both producers and guest emcee’s along for the ride Grynch delivers a project that hits many emotions and expands an ever growing diverse local Hip Hop scene.

Grynch’s best quality as an emcee is his ability to capture your attention as soon as his voice graces your speakers. He spits in a manner that sounds so effortless you would think that he has been at it for a lifetime. In truth however the young John Overlie has only just started, celebrating his 21st birthday last year.

This hasn’t prevented him from enjoying life and if “All Night” is any indication of how he gets down then an evening with the “King of Ballard” is probably guaranteed to be a party. But if cool summer nights relaxing with “friends and fam” are more your style Grynch has you covered to with the perfect summer anthem, “Summertime.” Sound Dialect laced the beat right, Portia adds the perfect touch to the hook and Geologic spits vicious to finish the track off – a perfect tribute to “206 summer nights.”

From summer tributes to Hip Hop dedications (“That’s Hip-Hop”) Grynch consistently delivers lyrics that captivate. Throughout the album he touches on several different themes and topics trying his hand at different styles.

He and Speedy Gonzalez team up on “Home” delivering bars about Seattle and while Grynch by no means disappoints on the track Speedy really steals the show with an amazing description of what it means to call the city your home wrapping it up brilliantly proclaiming “If I can’t see the needle I’m to far away/Riding through the city like my posse’s on Broadway.”

Grynch declares “I ain’t mainstream or underground/I’m bridging the gap/Like Nasir Jones & Olu Dara” on the Budo produced “I Won’t Lose” and this may be the perfect description of what it is that Grynch does. His tracks will bang in your homies escalade, but at the same time you can sit down with your headphones on and dissect every line – and not be disappointed.

Dope beats and dope rhymes is what Hip Hop has always been about, regardless of whatever trends the public has embraced the heads always come back to those albums that demonstrate these qualities. My Second Wind succeeds on both accounts and while Grynch claims his debut “didn’t do what it was made to,” there is little doubt that his sophomore release will do everything he intends it to do, plus a whole lot more.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Badu set to rock 2008!

When I first heard the lead single “Honey” from the new Badu album a couple months ago I wasn’t into. In fact if I remember correctly I turned it off after only about thirty seconds. Erykah Badu has been gone for a minute but supposedly she has 3 (yes three) projects in the works for this year. With the Madlib collaborative project leaking out slowly (check out Gilles Peterson’s ‘Worldwide’ radio show here) I’m fairly confident it will see the light of day at some point and with the release of a video for “Honey” it seems that this project will also be out at some point sooner rather than later (although in this always unstable music industry who ever knows what’s gonna happen!?!). As for the third project I don’t know anything about it and don’t really want to worry about it either. We have tracks from two projects, both of which are sounding better and better with every listen and new track that leaks (Yeah my mind has been changed since that first initial listen!). On top of that the video for “Honey” is so dope! Check it out:

The combination of black and white footage with color album covers that Erykah recreates with herself on them is just genius. Add to that the fact that the whole time crates are getting dug through and at the end she throws in the message “Support your local record store!!!!!!!!!!”

Badu is realer than most and this is a great example of how music videos can (and probably should) be done.
Originally posted here Feburary 6th, 2008

Mike B. and some different rap tunes

I just upped these tracks in order to get them to Mike B. and figured why not toss em up here for the people to hear and talk about? Mike is the homie from school and last quarter we found ourselves in the studio at least once a week and in about 6 weeks we had thirteen finished tracks and one callabo that I haven’t finished mixing yet. The beats are all jacked for now and my only role was as “engineer” however that is hardly what I am, I just know how to work pro tools. Anyway these are the last 3 tracks that we made and possibly some of the best tracks we have done. I’m not claiming this is the hottest new shit on the net – far from it, but it is something a little different from an emcee that has no desire to actually be an emcee. Mike just likes to rhyme and doesn’t take it to seriously… & neither should you! Let me know what you think, peace.

“White Noise”

“Come With Me”

“Instrumental Narcotic”

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The new “Vote or Die” campaign?

“Vote or Die.” That was the slogan made popular by Diddy four years ago. This election year is even more important and I was beginning to question the seriousness of Diddy’s intention to try and inspire young voters. Maybe it was just another ploy to push whatever product he had on the shelf at the time, I thought. But then, just in time for Super Tuesday the man himself addressed his fans and the public via his DiddyTV channel on You Tube to once again try and convince young voters to get out a make their voice heard. Check it out below and let me know what ya’ll think about Hip Hop’s involvement in the election, peace!

Originally posted here Feburary 5, 2008.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Four Star Friday might be worth 5 Stars

Sportn' Life can throw a party – let's just get that out of the way. Shows in Seattle that are thrown by a local act or label tend to have one guarantee: the heads will be out and it's likely to get a little rowdy, and the night billed as "Four Star Friday" was no different - but ain't that what makes a good Hip Hop show?

With several Sportn' Life acts opening up the show the real start was with the arrival of Action Buddy – a group that not only was playing jams that any producer would be crazy not to want to chop up but also a group that is making it's return after twenty years away from the industry. Action Buddy merges elements from punk, reggae, funk, rock, Hip Hop and soul into an amazing performance that was filled with energy and most importantly just made you want to dance!

While it would be hard for anyone to follow up the energy packed performance that was Action Buddy, the Physics stepped up and did their best. With their names ringing out lately high expectations had to be in the air, they most certainly were for me. And yet I didn't really pay any attention to them. Yes I was at the bar, but if you can take the stage for thirty minutes and not even capture the attention of someone who was looking forward to hearing you, how can you ever expect to capture the attention of an entire city, let alone the country (Seattle artists have to be thinking outside the 206).

Local celebrity Brainstorm held down the hosting duties and with his partner Bean One on the turntables you knew they had to do something – and something they did with Brain spitting a couple verses from those always enjoyable Dyme Def cuts! And the party was only just getting started…

Grayskul continues to impress with a great stage presence that has been honed by years on the road with Atmosphere and many others. Onry and J were well aware that they were the odd group on the bill and they attacked the issue head on, luckily bangin beats translate to one thing and Grayskul delivered a set that pleased all the long time Oldominon heads in attendance (they appeared out of nowhere and vanished without a trace after Grayskul's set) and at the same time they introduced themselves to an audience that wasn't familiar with 'em.

And then there was one act left and we were all ready for him to make his entrance. With Bean backing him on the ones and twos, and the homie Space their to play hype man D. Black took the stage and did what he does best – got loose! Well actually that was a little later but you get the drift. GMK made a blazing guest appearance only to further emphasis what a problem he will be in the not to distant future (and he makes beats!).

As last call approached D. Black showed no signs of slowing down performing right to the wire and then walking straight into the crowd only to sign autographs and give dap to all the fans. It is often that I hear the bartenders screaming last call, but it is rare that they are screaming "We're closed" moments after the set ends. But there is something rare about an emcee that will give his all on stage and then give the rest of himself to the people.
Orginally posted here on February 2nd, 2008

The Troublemakers intend to resurrect Hip Hop

What makes a record stand out? Usually it's the beats or rhymes that the producer and emcee respectively created, but sometimes a producer and emcee combine together and deliver an album, the type of record rappers are rarely known for. Perhaps it's because rappers don't do entire albums with one beat maker or maybe it's just because rap today has become a land of club singles and ring tones.

Whatever it is, Breez Evahflowin and Dirt E. Dutch have combined to form Troublemakers and if their self-titled first effort is any indication, they intend to cause even more problems for an industry that is already in trouble.

Knowing little about producer Dirt E. Dutch, his style is reminiscent of an era of classic producers utilizing drums that knock and samples that any good crate digger would be remiss not to add to his list of records to look for.

The rhyming half of Troublemakers, Breez Evahflowin, has been a staple of the NY underground for years as both a solo emcee and member of the unbeatable – and missing in action – collective Stronghold. Probably better known for guest verses and a 12-inch or two, here we get to finally see Breez stretch out and try some different styles and really show us why he hasn't given up on a career in this crazy industry: dude has skills.

Attacking the industry and those who challenge hip-hop's relevancy on "No Room for Growth," we see Breez team up with L.I.F.E. Long. The two emcees' chemistry is perfect and rather than it feeling like a competition of who can spit harder, it feels more natural and they try to build off each other.

Throughout the record, Dutch splices in audio clips from, I'm assuming, a combination of films, TV shows and records. These audio clips add to the content of Breez's rhymes and make it feel like a cohesive set of tracks rather than 12 random songs.

This album will satisfy that desire for some banging hip-hop while we wait for the industry to get back in gear and deliver some heat but, unfortunately, it may get forgotten by the end of 2008, and that would be a shame. Do what you have to to find this project, if for no other reason than to hear one emcee and one producer rock together in the vein of that traditional hip-hop sound.
Originally posted here on February 1st, 2008

It's just my thoughts...

So where did Blueprint 3 come from? I mean I realize that most people aren't trying to listen to a new remix of American Gangster everyday but for real? Jay leaves the presidency after dropping one of his best records and then 2 months later he is back at it with a Timbo produced banger? It doesn't sound like what BP3 should be, and we all know that Jay has a great record of delivering a hot and then not so hot album so I guess we will just have to wait and see…although I think the talk that "Ain't I" is a Shock Value leftover is probably the truth and Clue just wanted to get people talking – is Clue even still down with the Roc? Check out the song here and let me know what you think.

On the topic of new albums call me crazy but I think that the new Snoop album might be fire?! If you can get over the clowin video for the lead single "Sexual Eruption" you know that Snoop rhymes solid and the new track is a smooth west coast banger that continues to show that the Dogg learned a thing or two from the good doctor. Keep your ears open for Snoop he has been quietly stepping his game up for a minute.

What's up with this Nicolay and Kay project that seems to continually be on the tips of someone's lips? Check out this dope interview with em here – I won't lie the project sounds like it's gonna be dope!

And speaking of Nicolay how are him and 'Te gon keeping us waiting until the summer for that Foreign Exchange album? Come on guys I need some heat to keep me warm this winter!

I picked up the 100th issue of XXL this week and while the cover story alone, a sit down interview with the one and only Mr. Jones, is worth the price of admission I believe that it is also the last XXL which will be headed by the one and only Elliott Wilson, who has been running the mag since 1999 and is solely responsible for it's current dominance over all other Hip Hop rags. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens on that front but I can't for the life of me figure out why Harris (publishers of XXL) would drop him right as he and the magazine were reaching its pinnacle. I guess someone thought the Source needed a handicap to try and get back in the game… In the immortal words of Elliott Wilson "Ha!"

Till next week stay up!
Originally posted here on February 1st, 2008

Talib & Hi-Tek runite?

So I jump out to Hip Hop DX today and what do I see? Talib Kweli saying their will be a Reflection Eternal reunion album by the end of 2008?! Check the article out here .

I remember first hearing Train of Thought. It was brilliant in its own way. No, I'm not trying to be cryptic I just think that what Tek was doing with the beats at the time was on such a different level – this was him pre Dre. Today he still cooks up hot beats but they have that perfected sound quality and sometimes it's fun to just listen to a grimey tape!

Even though I have problems with Kweli's flow, when he is combined with Hi-Tek it's smooth. I know everyone will say that it won't happen and yeah it's probably as likely to drop as Detox, but with the rumors that Def Jam will drop Nas if he doesn't change his album title I just want something to look forward to this year and a Reflection Eternal album would be the perfect summation to this new era of Hip Hop.

On that note lets take a trip back with "The Blast" – when did y'all first hear this? Doesn't it still sound just as good as it did then? Wasn't Tek so on point when he said "it's Hi-Tek on the track like flow Joe/Bet you ain't even know I had flow though"?

Originally posted here on January 30th, 2008

Wow... Is anyone else feelin' this?

Ok... Colin Monrue is a Canadian singer whose music leans more towards the indie rock variety than that of the rap tunes Kanye West hooks up, but together I think it's something special. What do you think? Check out the video for his remix to Kanye's "Flashing Lights" and tell me your not hooked!

Originally posted here on January 23rd, 2008

Hip Hop needs more of this!

I need my late pass! Straight up Rhymefest, El Che, whatever you call yourself if you're willing to step up and show the world that you can go into the studio with Just Blaze, mess up all your rhymes and still walk out with your head held high you earned my respect. Check out this dope video that shows the struggle it is to get every element of a rap song to work just right - it's not as easy as it looks...and sometimes you just gotta know who to invite to the studio!

Originally posted here on January 21st, 2008

Finally something new for 2008

There is a side to rap that people never see. It is the never ending party that is life on the road. Yak Ballz is one of those rappers. Slowly building a fan base one show at a time, but still finding time to step into a vocal booth Yak has delivered to us his sophomore album Scifentology II.

Far from its predecessor's mixtape-style track list, Scifentology II is a completely original work full of Yak at his best – delivering rhymes to the people over pulsating beats.

These beats are provided by a range of producers including fellow Weathermen Aesop Rock and Camu Tao. But the real shine should go to Mondee & Chapter 7 who hold down the majority of the album.

Mondee shows off his skill with the rock tinged tracks "War in My Head" and "A Billion Ways," incorporating a haunting piano melody in the latter that only adds effect to Peter Toh's hook.

Utilizing a nicely chopped guitar sample along with some well-played live chords Chapter 7 delivers a monster beat for Yak & Tame One to tear apart in "Nuclear Society," addressing society's ills and those who claim to be looking out for our best interest.

Yak joins up with Slow Suicide Stimulus for a retro 80's party courtesy of Govone, the producer of the very funk and very futuristic "Future Deluxe." Touring with Slow Suicide Stimulus shows here as Yak interacts with the group as if he was the fourth member - making the song that much more fun.

While the theme of the album overall is definitely on the emo tip, Yak shows us again why he is a great emcee who has been around and respected by many. He is not above making a fool of himself nor is he afraid to let his heart out on wax, telling personal stories that will connect home with numerous people from all walks of life.

These stories are always delivered with perfect timing and a flow that is vintage Queens (He's claiming Flushings ya'll). It's true he has taken parts of some of his fellow tour mates style, but he did it in his own way and given the current trends in rap taking something and making it your own is better than most of the alternatives.
Originally posted here on January 21st, 2008

edIT delivers "Certified Air Raid Material"

Welcome to Certified Air Raid Material, the sophomore release from edIT. He has been active in the LA underground for awhile but with this album he is aiming for the clubs worldwide.

With a style all his own edIT and his crew, the Glitch Mob, have been steady "slaying" crowds with their elaborate cutups and electronic madness. From the start of the record you are blown away by amazing synth programming mixed with bass lines and drums that will get any dance floor moving. But edIT doesn't stop there, as he adds countless vocal samples, organ and piano segments, and sometimes even lays down a guitar lick or two just for your listening pleasure

The production throughout the record is perfectly executed and edIT even shows on several tracks that he can cater his "glitch-hop" style to some of LA's best emcees. Grouch, of the Living Legends, makes two appearances first calling out those people who claim they are "artists" but all they ever do is try and "fit the part" and never actually make any art.

On "Back up Off the Floor Pt. 2" Grouch and edIT show their true chemistry with edIT adding some vocals (through a vocorder of course) to the song creating an interesting back and forth dynamic that feels like edIT is really communicating through his drum's and synth's.

Abstract Rude links up with him for one hilarious song about a guy working the nightshift, but his girl is convinced he is out cheating on her. Once again the beat has been tailored for Ab Rude to deliver his usual smooth flow on and he doesn't disappoint.

On the closing track you hear a conversation between edIT and a journalist and they are trying to describe the music contained within the album and neither of them know what to call it except "strip club music for the next century."

Whatever you want to call his music edIT has found something that is sure to blow out some speakers well into 2008 and beyond.
Originally posted here January 9th, 2008


Welcome to The Musik Lounge. My name is Will Johnsen, I have been studying journalism at Seattle University for the last four years and in June I will be graduating. In my time at SU I have ran the Hip Hop department of our school radio station, KSUB , and ran my own radio show as well. This is where the title of my blog comes from.

My plan for this blog is to have an archieve of the articles I write for different publications. Currently I'm interning at the Seattle PI for their online magazine Spi . I also randomly contribute to Kitty Sneezes , a website started by a co-worker of mine.

Another hope is that eventually I will be hosting podcasts of my radio show, or perhaps turn my radio show into a podcast. Basically I want to write and spread the word about good music and this seems like the logical next step. If your an artist who is interested in being reviewed, interviewed, or trying to get spins on my show email me.