Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Q & A with Avatar Young Blaze

With his latest video Avatar Young Blaze takes some time away from the streets and relaxes off that fine Cali Kush before taking some aggression out on the bloggers who just don't seem to buy dude's stories. You should.

I first started hearing about him sometime last year, maybe once prior to that but he has been out here in Seattle making a name for himself in two circles. The streets will never let Avatar's name be smeared. In rap circles he is starting to capture more attention and with just cause.

I hit up his manager about doing an interview, discovered that he no longer calls Seattle home, but was invited to converse via email. If you thought this was just your average 21 year old knuckle head you are only kidding yourself.

TML: Who is Avatar? Where were you born, when?
Avatar Young Blaze: Avatar is the embodiment of a concept, being music, destined since birth. I was born in 1989 in Tallin, Estonia although my mother is full Russian & father is full Ukrainian.

TML: How long was Seattle home? Where did you live here?
Seattle has been home since I was a toddler, my family moved to New York, which was suppose to be our destination, but then they decided to follow some relatives and move to Seattle. I lived in surrounding areas outside Seattle up until 8th grade when my pops passed away, my mom moved to the inner-city. I grew up in the Central District, went to Garfield high.

TML: When did you get into rap? Who were you listening too?
I got into rap around the age of 9 years old, the first CDs I listened to were Bone Thugs N Harmony's Eternal E. 1999 & Eazy E's Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton.

TML: You father was a painter, was this his livelihood? If not what did he do? Your mother?
Yes my father has been an artist since he was a kid, he went to art school in St. Petersburg, Russia & practiced art everyday. It was definitely his passion & livelihood. I think that's where I get a big portion of my creative side. My mother started as a bank teller & worked her way up, she is still in the banking industry.

TML: When was the last time you were in Russia?
The last time I visited Russia was about 4 or 5 years ago, although I've been to Ukraine & Estonia in the last couple years. I was actually booked for a show in Moscow this past April but the ash cloud didn't permit that. I plan on going back very soon.

TML: How did you get down with Oldominion? Did you ever record verses on any OD associated projects?
I first got introduced to Oldominion through Sleep. I went to one of his shows because I was always a fan & he spotted me out the crowd & randomly pulled me on stage and I started rappin. I was like 13 years old. OD showed me alot of love and taught me alot about not only music but life... Shout out to Bishop I, Anax, Snafu, Pale, Barfly, Karim, Onry just to name a few.

TML: What Seattle rap are you fucking with today?
As far as local kats, I'm fucking with my dudes Reese, Carey Stacks representing that Shadow Company. Framework, 151 (free 151) and Eighty4 Fly.

TML: Prefered chronic strain? Prefered blunt wrap?
You can't really beat that OG Kush, but lately I been on that Alaskan Thunderfuck, that shit is crazy. When I went to Amsterdam I smoked some Super Silver Haze which exceeded new heights. Far as preferred wrap, I usually smoke them one layer swishers but lately I been on them papers just to switch it up an give my lungs a break.

TML: What was your first released mixtape or album?
The first project I ever dropped was called The Russian Roulette Mixtape, I was about 14 or 15 years old, only pressed 200 copies.

TML: How long have you been operating out of LA? What's your network like out there? Do you view Seattle as your home town?
I been in LA since the beginning of the year, definitely been getting my network on. Seattle will always be my hometown no matter if I'm in Cairo, Egypt or Atlanta, Georgia. Seattle made me who I am today.

TML: Have you and MTK worked together in person?
Me & MTK got a couple joints in the archives, you'll be hearing them soon shout out to MTK he get it the fuck in

TML: What did you want people to walk away from Warm Blooded Cold Heart thinking?
I wanted people to get a more in depth understanding of me, to see that I have another side to me, not just the street shit. I'm a well rounded person and my music is commonly put in that gangster rap category when I can make any type of music and still remain true to myself.

TML: Do you see yourself in the tradition of gangster rap?
I don't want my music to be labeled or put in one category. I'm Avatar. My own genre.

TML: What was your introduction to the street life, how would you characterize your activities?
I been in the streets ever since I was about 12 years old, my uncle Oscar (RIP) was doin' his thing & I basically got introduced to all that at a very young age, it ran in the family. By 14 I was packing pistols & selling drugs, hangin & bangin'. My pops was gone & mom was always out of town so I looked up to dudes I seen in my neighborhood. I was definitely misguided, and my fathers death affected me so tough I kind of went to a dark place.

TML: How did your brother get a 17 year bid? How old were you when this happened? What is his name?
Dave Blaze, he's in Clallum Bay, been down about 4 years so I was 16 when the situation happened. Long story short he shot somebody in the head, but it was out of self defense, we were at a Franklin High dance, an issue presented itself & what happened happened. He's working on his appeal right now, so I'm preying he gets some time cut off, because he got hit with a whole bunch of enhancements that he shouldn't have got charged with.

TML: How old were you when you first were arrested? Where did you spend your time in jail?
In 8th grade I was going to a middle school in Bellevue, I got arrested for 2nd degree robbery in front of my whole school, they took me to juvy and I spent about a week in there, my mom bailed me out and got me a lawyer, I ended up getting the case dismissed. She said she would never bail me out again, and she wasn't lying.

TML: Is rap a medium you feel can convey a message about a way of life misunderstood and misconstrued to create fear?
Yes. To me, Rap is modern poetry. It's first and foremost emotions expressed by the artist through lyrics and music. There is a lot more pain than fear. Fear is just a derivative.

TML: Can your experiences in the streets provide you an opportunity to speak to other people in similar situations across urban america and worldwide?
Yes, Definitely. I would also like to add that I've been in the rough neighborhoods beyond the borders of America, and believe me, the ghetto's of Kingston, Jamaica and Kharkiv, Ukraine have lots in common with the streets of U.S. in terms of human experience.

One thing I really want to get across is, the streets are in no way shape or fashion sweet... unless you legitimize yourself, there's only two ways out - that cell or that casket. I am in no way shape or form trying to glorify.

Man I've been asked this before. Im here to tell my story. Not only my struggles. My ups and downs. I just choose to escape through music. The problem is there's been more downs than ups in my life. To answer your question I'm not here doing this to save muthafuckas I'm here doin this to save myself and my family. Thats all I got. What I tell others when they ask me how can I be as clever and hard working as you is huff gasoline, it ensures they never will be.

There were many artist, I'm not talkin about rappers - I'm talkin about artists, growin up in my world you had to have something to turn to, something that would take your mind off reality. My father escaped through the canvas, my mom was a singer. I'll tell you right now. Art is everything. Art is all around us. The way you walk, dress, talk. I don't let people I don't know or respect influence me. I live my own life, I speak my own life. This shit is just natural to me. I've been doing this rap shit since I was 9 years old before I even knew what rap was to rock and jazz beats. Its just my way of poetry, my way of expression. This is real shit. This is no chosen way of life. He deals the cards. I play them. I'm just releasing my thoughts my everyday life. I got nobody else to talk to. This ain't rap or hip hop, r&b or rock. This is Avatar Young Blaze, Avenue Avatar whatever the fuck you want to call me, I do what I like, I say what's on my mind, and that's it. It is what it is.


I wanna thank Rico of Shadow Company for helping make this happen and Avatar for the time! You can download Avatar Young Blaze latest mixtape Russian Revolution here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tunes from the Whip: Bob James "One"

One night while playing “Nautilus” on my radio show at KSUB a listener hit me up asking if it was some new DJ Shadow. Bob James was way ahead of his time! The much sampled and at times unfindable record in any diggin spot has lost much of it’s luster since it’s hey day being pilfered by a laundry list of classic 90s boom bap producers. It is simply titled One and it bangs.

Opening with an epic, spooky jam the music here is ready for the big screen. Sounding like the perfect sequence for an amazing car chase that is choreographed perfectly, Bob James conducts an array of players to create the ultimate in explosive feelings. Bombast doesn’t even begin to capture the horns here. HUGE.

Track two sounds like it might have been right at home at my co-workers country concert this weekend. No vocals are present but it’s certainly bluesy. I’m not mad at it actually. Listening to it while riding the bus (more on that in a bit) made me appriciate the slow moving beauty placed in the strings.

Bob James doesn’t hold himself back though and One is right back at, killing fools with beats and breaks for days. While he isn’t using a drum machine and the tunes play out like the songs they were written as, I still think an adept emcee could take this album (or any of his first three) and construct an amazing piece of Hip Hop history over it.

Of course the jam here that everyone always looks for is “Nautilus” and for good reason. Everyone always talks about it’s underwater, aquatic feel and I don’t know what it is that he did but it certainly has that about itself. I believe I’ve heard that this feeling is what prompted the name. It’s got great drums (all the tracks here do, see CTI) and Jon Faddis (Madlib’s uncle) is on the horns.

As I stated, I’m now riding the bus. This will be the last Tunes from the Whip. I’m contemplating continuing it as Tunes from the Bus, maybe View from the Bus? Let me know what y’all think. I got some more interviews coming, don’t think that one rapper turned singer will keep me down!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

August Heatrocks

Download the August Heatrocks here!

Emotion in a verse is a powerful tool. It can make a weak verse sound dope. But if you are actually spitting, and displaying some real passion about those words - game over. Don Trip kicks off the August Heatrocks with “Letter 2 My Son." Sounds like his son's mom is putting him through some bullshit and he couldn’t handle it anymore. The dude just wants to be their for his child.

Big K.R.I.T. has stormed the rap world in 2010 dropping K.R.I.T. Wuz Here early on and not letting up, connecting with Def Jam, Curren$y and that camp things just seem to be falling into place for the Mississippi representer. He has been at it for awhile though and their is a lot of fresh work to dig through if you so desire. I’ve done my hardest to find as much as I can and start that process. Here is one jam I found that displays a little more hunger than on much of what I’ve heard as of late.

I had a random song for a long time that I loved by a guy named Rozewood. I never heard or saw anything by him. Recently I saw an album in my iTunes by a Rozewood. It’s rap, it’s a dude. It could be the same guy. I’m really not sure. That song I loved isn’t here but 2012 holds cuts. “Hennessy Afterparty” is a good jam that anyone who has ever kicked it on the late night after hours tip would have to enjoy... maybe this should be our theme song?

I believe Sene is an LA rapper coming up right now. Haven’t given his tape a spin but this track “Workflow” came on in shuffle and it stuck with me. The beat is AWESOME! Up beat and fun, Sene rides it and feels like he is just loving life, enjoying himself. Passion.

A James Brown anything is pretty much perfect and probably gonna move anyone, thus why he is the most sampled artist of all time. Someone named Parker (not of the SOTA Boys) regrooved “It’s A Man's World” to pretty dope results. Laying some real clean congo drums underneath the classic track, dropping in random rap vocal snippets and a few other tweaks here and there you have an awesome reinterpretation of an unforgettable song.

This instrumental slow jam by The Clonious called “Hang On” might just make you feel that way. Feeling like some free jazz straight out of NYC circa 1968, it’s probably not what everyone is looking for but it’s quick and awesome.

Starlito is by far the best artist I’ve discovered this year. Ok that might be an overstatement but he is DOPE and his back catalog is just as on point. Over a haunting beat Lito tells us about his “Homies.” Some he’s lost, some he’s fallen out with, some have left him. The stories he tells are honest and he holds nothing back. It’s eye opening.

Theophilus London is a brilliant artist from Brooklyn who is merging so many styles of music I would never try to place him in one space. He does it all. Seeing him open for A-Trak last year solidified my already high suspicion that he was a secret talent. As he progresses in his career and refines what it is he does it’s going to be awesome for us to hear. His latest mixtape already hints at even bigger things to come. He kicks off the tape with an awesome Marvin Gaye cover for the song “I Want You.” Rapping the first verse over sparse drums and then letting the track fill up and singing us out, it’s glorious.

While down in Oregon packing my room in a house I never lived in I was messaged by Matson asking if I listened to Lil B. I had only recently been hearing the name but didn’t pay any attention to him. Matson directed me to a few youtube clips and then said “proceed at your own risk.” His lazy flow is great and the beat here on “Birth of Rap” is pretty dope spaced out production. I feel like he is a product of Lil Wayne. He strikes me as just being incredibly creative and never wanting to stop. He has the money to do it so he is. Can’t be mad at it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever dig into the thousand or so songs he posted on his website but if they come on here and there I’ll take notice.

Slugabed is pretty ridiculous in my eyes. He concocts some crazy shifty, beat shit for the year 10,000. Being introduced to him via his banging remix of “Super Freak” I’ve been on the watch ever since. From the EP of the same name “The Moon Zoop Jam” is slower and more of a composition. Featuring numerous change ups and multiple synths and squeeks you will not be bored nor unmoved.

Wiz has put his city on and I for one have been trying to find as much as I can from Pittsburgh. Divine Seven has a mixtape out entitled LISTEN!!! - this track “Reachin” is off of it and every other song from it that’s come on has made me look to see who it was. He’s good. The ‘burgh has some talent I think. This features a mellow jazzy beat with a dusty drum loop and a simple 2 bar violin sample, the perfect canvas for Seven to talk about working for more out of life.

Terror Danjah took the cue from Wiley and let loose two free projects. Hardstrumentals is a project of beats he has made. This one with it’s repeating high pitched “So Real” vocal sample over a cool piano line and some serious bass seems ready to be rapped on. I love that artists are just making stuff and putting it out there for their fans to enjoy. I’m personally finding great music all the time and it’s being released by the artist on their own terms. Here is one example.

July was Curren$y month, but it didn’t really slow down in August. The song I found myself coming back to a month after it’s release was this Stalley featured jam “Address.” It’s great, I felt it as I was moving into my first real home in almost a year. The beat feels like life to me, it’s like a breath of fresh air caught on wax. Stalley is far and away a better emcee than Spitta but they almost compliment each other. “Ain’t nothin changed but the address... Ain’t nothin changed...”

More of that electro party music for ya! Seriously this shit is the new Hip Hop beat in my eyes. I love dusty NY, 90s boom bap but this is the future, time to make something new. Rusko’s album is pretty hit and miss with me but this track mashes. Just big time, loud, full, funness. Get down!

I’m not really sure where this MF Borat album emerged from but this song is a remix of one of my favorite songs ever. Wale Oyejide released “This is Dedicated To...” on his debut solo album. Here it is remixed with an almost as stellar beat that features celebratory drums that make you wanna dance. Doom’s verse is included and they add vocals by another chick who does a good job, but I’d still take Wale’s version, gonna have to dig it up.

Smoke DZA is another in the current line of weed rappers. He does his thing, but I do agree with my guy Thad that he doesn’t really distinguish himself. This cut is hella fun and his whole album (free!) is def good music to sit back and burn to. Enjoy and roll up!

The Widdler was unknown to me until the album came on and I decided to let it ride through. I liked it from what I remember. Here on the tune “Long Gone” you get an up beat groove with spacey synths, stuttering drums and a repetitious vocal refrain. I like the deepness to the bass in the background and the vocals are totally awesome.

Download the August Heatrocks here!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An update...

Some of you may have come to The Musik Lounge looking for an interview with Lace Cadence. It has been pulled down. I'm in the process of meeting with other people involved in the Seattle Hip Hop community at the same time as him and hope to provide more insight into another time in the town when the rap was just as cracking. I apologize to my readers and promise not to make this a trend.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tunes from the Whip: Brother Ali "Shadows on the Sun"

I pulled out Brother Ali’s debut Shadows on the Sun for this weeks edition of tunes from the whip. Bringing all my CDs up from my moms house has me tripping at what I could listen to. I could proly do one of these every other day and still find something new or that I forgot about. But this is about Brother Ali. The man who spits hot fire all over brilliant Ant tracks.

After Jet Set last week, the day I’d thrown this into the deck, I ended up giving Vitamin D a ride to the studio. On the drive he heard “Star Quality,” asked what it was and smiled. He then revealed to me that he had worked on the project for them out in the Mini Apple. I love the learning the back stories.

Listening to the album the rest of the week was great. It constantly brought smiles to my face and got me ready to go into work feeling good, feeling great. Ali is an amazing emcee. When all is said and done he pretty much has to be in the top 10 greatest list. As he says he “weaves a web of words so intricate the English dictionary lacks an adjective to fit” him.

But beyond just being clever with the writes he can actually convey a message and speak on topics that are so often exploited. From the first track he is preaching to the people. “From a location where slanging crack rock is not seen as recreation but a fucking vocation.” There is an anger in his voice that can only be explained as pure raw hunger. Think Mobb Deep on The Infamous, Snoop on Doggystyle, etc etc.

The beats are awesome. I’ve long wanted Ant to break away from the RSE camp and work with national acts. We’ve yet to see it and I’m gathering that it is probably a pipe dream. Oh well, when he and Ali link it’s beautiful. He makes BANGERS! Heavy, dusty drums, awesome samples that can only come from years of listening through stacks of vinyl and chops that make you turn up your face and bang your head to it.

The only guest is Slug, who appears twice. Together these two bring it out in eachother. Slug was still in his prime at this time and the hunger and unfuxwitable attitude Ali posses just brings out the asshole in Slug and they go at it. I feel like this type of raw, unbridled emotion in verses is rare today. Perhaps it is the reason I’m fucking with the kid Kendrick Lamar, I hear that passion in his “Monster Freestyle.”

If you have never listened to Shadows on the Sun by all means get it. I can’t reccomend it with more support. It’s stellar, fantastic, and great music with an equally important message. A rare feat. It’s one of only three hip hop records I bought in high school I still think about and want to hear on a regular basis. I can’t say enough good things, my feelings have to be clear. Thanks for reading, now go listen!

Next week’s feature will be Bob James One.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tunes from the Whip: Acid Reign "Time & Change"

For quite some time I've wanted to do a weekly feature reviewing a random CD. I went into Easy Street and copped 10 dollar albums and was ready to go. Life got in the way and I've been off the internet for quite some time. Nothing new round these parts. In my recent move I brought my CD collection to Seattle. This means that box of 10 discs is competeing with some piles of shit. I don't know what ya'll are gonna get hit with. Kicking it off this week is the last album from Acid Reign out of LA.

Coming out in 2008 on Alpha Pup didn't quite mean what it means today. Not that Alpha Pup has upped their rep that much but Daddy Kev is a resident of The Low End Theory and viewed as the surrogate father of the sprawling beat scene that's been on a steady rise for several years now. Acid Reign is two emcees Beond and Gajah, they have been rapping together since they were teenagers and have made the rounds with the project blowed cats coming up through the LA underground in the mid to late 90s.

To still be at it in 2008 is impressive and while it seems the album didn't prove to be the spark they needed to finally escape their city Time & Change is out here for people to find and peak into another side of LA Hip Hop.

The beats hear are all pretty banging, sometimes a bit too experimental for my liking but hard drums and tight scratching are always positives for a head. The production comes from a who's who of the beat making uderground with Fat Jack, Omid, edIT, Dert and of course Daddy Kev to name a few all making contributions.

Lyrically the guys are clever and non pretentious. They admit that they are always looking for that next girl they can take to bed and that they like to get fucked up. They aren't afraid to laugh and have a good time. No macho posturing here, just two guys having a good time.

Paris Zax contributes the most tracks here including "Heart of the City" utilizing the same sample for the Jay-Z song of the same name. Kinda strange, but it's a good song, the Bobby Bland sample is beautiful and really is only gonna make a song more enticing. It's their dedication to the town that raised them and features LA legend Abstrat Rude. Can't get much better validation than that on a track about Los Angeles.

One of the guys has a voice that can be annoying. It's not apparent on every track, but their are verses throughout the album that will have you like if dude should ever rap again. These moments coupled with it's own distinct sound that isn't always moving makes the album fairly mediocre. It's a cool piece of these dudes dreams to make it as rappers but I doubt I'm ever gonna put it on again. I've never been a big fan of the old LA underground though. Time & Change does provide a cool document of where many of the current beat mashers were coming from and that is something that more and more people will be investigating.

Friday, August 27, 2010

July Heatrocks

Just as August comes to an end I'm getting the July Heatrocks up. Shame on me. The good news is I'm typing this from internet in my own place! No more couch surfing for me. I've been on the move a lot in the last month but I kept new tunes in the deck and found several yall need to hear.

Download the July Heatrocks here!

Judah made this beat tape inspired by Amber Rose, he then teamed up with Dub MD and had emcee's submit verses over them. Don't know who did any of them, this one called "Closure" caught my ear. Dudes flow so smooth, his voice compliments the beat perfectly.

The Dusty Fingers comps have been collecting digital dust in my iTunes since I was in college. I've heard cuts from them here and there, but recently I've listened to more off them than any other time my life. Like the UBB series they are full of samples, some you will instantly recognize and some far more esoteric. Bola Sete's cut "Bettina" is smooth, happy and perfect for a sunny summer afternoon.

July was certainly the month of Spitta in my world. Curren$y dropped his debut album and it's my most listened to project of 2010. Not going with the best title just yet, but it's damn good. Ski Beatz contributions are stellar, and I think Dame was probably listening to these old tapes from dude when he decided to sign him. Hearing him and Wayne rock over the classic Ski track from Jay's debut is awesome.

Madlib has been putting out work like the blunted loop digger he is this year. Volume 5 of the Medicine Show is a collection of his tracks from the 90s. And they rock. The flip in the last quarter or so is interesting and totally it's own idea and only Madlib can get away with taking a song and saying "fuck it, now you get this."

Guts track "Sweet Love" from an album called Le Bienheureux is another mellow instrumental for you to get spaced out too. There is a repeating, haunting vocal sample in this song that can be quite mesmerizing. Guts shows himself to be a man with a serious ear as I assume this is a track produced all from samples. One of the downfalls of the digital age, you don't always know much or anything about some of the tunes you find. But good music is good music and this song qualifies.

While I remember feeling like the latest Pac Div tape was better than anything I'd heard from them prior, Church League Champions is the tape that has been playing in my iTunes as of late. This cut "Whiplash" stays in the vein of mellow and smooth tracks in the collection this month. The beat is simple and will force you to nod your head. Over this canvas the members of Pac Div tell tales about the realities of the lives we lead. Resonating stuff.

Wiley decided to unload tracks onto the masses this past month with 11 folders of tracks hitting the internet. Rough drafts, different mixes, and who knows what else. I've heard that he has been dealing with some label trouble while preparing his next record and these are from those sessions. I'm not incredibly familar with Wiley's music but this is a cool love song.

Cocaine is a hell of a drug. Cliche. And true none the less. UGK and Rick Ross join forces here to talk about that very fact. Their experiences with the drug are explored in great detail. Pimp C approaches the drug from a personal perspective, Bun makes some political commentary and I don't really know what the hell Ross is talking about. I think he wanted to play his kingpin boss roll but next to these dudes it falls real flat.

OH MY FUCKIN GOD! Madlib, I love you. This beat is the epitome of all that he does. It's short, sweet and beautiful. A simple groove that you can't not smile too. Happiness in less than a minute.

Donnis has kept himself from the top of my list of blog rappers to watch. His inconsistency is a huge flaw that a young cat coming up can not demonstrate and hope for a future. His Diary of an Atlanta Brave was cool, with some great beats. This latest tape, Fashionably Late had but a few jams however. "Corries Outro" has him thinking out loud and conveying some thoughts and fears. Honesty is always a good move.

DJ Shadow is the truth. He has more records than you and I. He knows what is on everyone of them. "Six Days" is one of my favorite melancholy tunes by the man who invented instrumental Hip Hop. Here he takes an awesome track and lays it over the vocals. Totally flipping the script, this right here is nothing like the original. Called the "Soulwax Mix" the music here is somewhere between punk rock guitar chords and funky drumming with some moody electronic after effects and an overall drive to lay down a groove the people could get into.

DJ Punish wants you to "Meet her in Baltimore" but something tells me he would be just as happy with you two meeting on the dance floor. This song has some synths in it that remind me of the Blade theme song, but it also has a funky groove throughout and the moroccas he brings in at the end are awesome!

I think it was the beat of this Jeff Spec cut that enticed me to include him here. This Aberfoyle Springs comp hasn't really impressed me but he has a tight beat to roc over here featuring knocking drums, some good cuts and a well placed sped up vocal sample on loop in the background. Reminds me of some classic boom bap you don't hear too often.

Bring the mood back down to a smokers vibe. Ara's "Jam2" reminds me of something you would play late night with a blunt burning while walking in the moon light. It's got some great guitar riffs throughout that might be sampled but could just as likely be played live. Smooth drums compliment the loop that sets the mood. Piano stabs round out the full sound this instrumental jaunt contains.

Wiz partner Kev The Hustla has dropped a couple tapes, cementing the fact that he is not the Khalifa man but he does smoke like dude. Anyone who smokes will connect with this cut. A blunted beat, full of dusty drums and raps about living in the cloud and white boys hitting bongs. Not sure when this track dropped but he is still riding for the blunts, maybe that's why he hasn't been on any of Wiz new shit?

This Oliver Sain track is ridic! It's been sample numerous times, you'll hear it from the jump. When it came on shuffle I just jumped out of my seat. Great sax playing right at the jump, and a groove right up there with the all time greatest of grooves?! Just ride to this while puffin on that cargo plane you rolled up during Kev's jam.

Rarely do I include two tunes from the same artist, but as I said July was the month of Spitta in my life. "Breakfast" has played on just a few mornings for me as I get ready for work. This, the original version featuring none of Ski's embellishments captures the morning vibe so much better. Mos vocals are higher in the mix, as if they were actually intended to be there versus the album version where Mos sounds like he is drifting off in the wind. Neither is better than the other.

Nappy Roots have taken quite a journey but seem to have found their lane making them country rap tunes for the masses. With a rep for a crazy live show (see them!) and now two solid releases post major label purgatory they seem to have made it past the drama and are now enjoying the life of a touring muscian. This takes them away from their homes and families. That shit weighs on you. And Nappy Roots have found particular success conveying those feelings. "Back Home" is in that vein. It's guitar loop and easy drums, along with their occassional sing song flow will have you thinking about the good old days.

Download the July Heatrocks here!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Heatrocks of June

Half way through 2010. I'm another year older. Time is flying and life is exciting. Apologies for the lack of updates around these parts, the sun coming out and my own lack of direction have been on my mind lately. I'm ready to make a move and find a home, it's been a long run since coming back to Seattle in October of last year. But let's dispense with the personal stuff, that ain't why you come to The Musik Lounge!

Download June Heatrocks here.

Kicking off this month's edition of the Heatrocks is "Think 4 Yourself" by La Finne Equipe & Mattic. I know nothing. The name is eloquent. The song is fun. Truth couldn't be realer. Get down with it. I need to go back into my Ani DiFranco archieves and see if this really is her voice they flipped for the sample in the hook.

One of the last records I rocked at my old job in the Bistro on Seattle University's campus was Long Distance from Onra. As I remember it, it's great. "Wonderland" is certainly an awesome trip that might just make your location feel like the title states. Onra is yet another in a long line of beat muscians freaking sounds and creating new age Hip Hop from an electronic fueld perspective.

Gil Scott-Heron has been killing tunes with his own brand of sing song flow for decades. If you slept on his most recent project I'm New Here - STOP. We aren't here to talk about his modern work. Travel back 30 years with us to 1980 and let the groove keep you moving. GSH and Brian Jackson cook up a great song that I just like. The lyrics are kind of abstract. He is accepting the new decade and realizing that no matter what you do in the new age you can't ever get back to a simpler time.

Hugh Masekela's style is nothing like that of Fela Kuti. Certainly not the biggest of names to ever emerge from the continent where all of life began, where Kuti is wild, loud, heavy and more inspired by spontaneous musical outburts by himself or his band Masekela's steez is more organzied. His compositions float like a jazz tune. They can hold a bit more of that funky swing to it than some jazz but we are talking about music from the motherland here. "Maesha" is an awesome jam playing for over 10 minutes. It slowly grows until his trumpet comes in blazing away over an awesome groove laid down via the drummer and piano player. I wonder what Miles thought of this young player from Africa?

A-Trak has made his name as a trendsetting DJ, touring world wide with Kanye and doing his own sets wherever he can rock. I saw him absolutly destroy the Rotture in PDX almost exactly a year ago. A few years ago he dropped the Dirty South Dance mixtape, a party of southern cuts merged with his own style of dance music. Recently he dropped Vol. 2 and it sees a similar thing happening, but the beats he mashes the southern accappellas with this time are definelty leaning towards the new electronic sounds we are hearing more and more of. "Ain't I (Remix)" with T.I. never crossed my mind when it was new but Joker's recent 12 "Tron" certainly did and utilizing it as a backing track for this is awesome. Emcees need to be fucking with the dubstep heads.

Keeping this remixed southern shit going Bird Peterson did his own version of Dirty South Dance with Drunkenstein - an awesome, slowed down mix filled with lots of 8Ball & MJG, some Three 6 and this cut from Gucci Mane orginally included on the Mad Decent Free Gucci comp. Peterson takes trance instrumentals and creates the perfect mix for anyone flying off that dro or getting screwed off that syrup. It's also the first time I've been able to listen to Gucci, for whatever that is worth.

The french DJ Cam makes some pretty awesome compositions with his turntables and I'm guessing the use of session players as well. Having recently downloaded his discography I've listened to a couple of the LPs in their entirty and heard many cuts come on in shuffle. "Mad Blunted Jazz" is pretty much exactly that, a downtempo track with some great jazz styled aditions to the beat. Piano, some horns, along with cuts and scratches on the tables and some vocal snippets dropped in for a haunting effect. Get burned down to this.

My African music adventures seem to be never ending as the continent certainly has a depth to it we in America will probably never fully grasp. As long as the internet and select labels are around we will be seeing gems unearthed for decades to come. Guy Warren of Ghana dropped Afro Jazz in 1969, the song here "It's A Long Way To Mampong (Mampong Kwan Ware)" is a fun cut that starts out dark and slow before hitting it's stride half way through and busting out some horns and maintaining the steady and ominous drum progression.

Shawn Chrystopher and Tone P hook up to make "Sometimes Love" from Shawn's The Audtion. Rap songs that address the emotions of love and relationships walk fine lines between silly and pointless and some serious consideration of what kind of toll the mental mind fuck relationships can cause. Ok, maybe this is more about my own personal life at the moment. Let's just say this song came on this month and had me deep in thought.

Big shout out to Darwin for hooking me up with a stellar collection of jams for the dance floor set. If I ever get inspired to try and rock another DJ set (they've happened, few and far between) I'm certain I'll have to sneak a couple of these into the mix. Paleface & Kyla are total unknowns to me but this Crazy Cousins remix of their cut "Do You Mind" is incredibly fun and I can see it being a great closer towards the end of the night. In fact I bet more than one person has been taken home to this track. It's afro beat rhythm and drums make you want to move and the chicks vocals are incredibly seductive. Watch out.

Those remixed southern jawns may have me listening to some modern players in the scene but I've been trying to dig into the history of the region that has changed the face of Hip Hop in the last decade. MJG, along with his partner 8Ball put the Orange Mound on the map and have put in a lot of work. Their discography has also recently been added to my iTunes library. I haven't taken the time to start working through it yet but "Don't Hold Back" came on while shuffling and it had to be played again and again. It's nothing deep, just addressing how good that fine girl you have on your arm should be working it. It's from 97 and still feels like it could tear the club up.

Your boy Drizzy Drake! I've talked a lot of shit about this kid. I loved So Far Gone but everything since then has sounded like a lesser take on something from that tape. Thank Me Later falls victim to the same formula in my opinion. But this isn't a review of the much discussed tape. This is about one song that I haven't been able to turn off since listening to the album. "Fancy" reminds me about a certain lady friend which always makes music feel more real, but the treat here is T.I. Coming out of jail sounding as good if not better than he did when he left he murders this Swizz beat. Drake has to get his and unfortunatley Swizz indulges him by breaking down the beat into a mellow and boring R&B outro with no drums. Drake's "verse" here lends more credence to the idea that rappers just talk than I've ever heard.

As I said DJ Cam's discography is in the mix and while I rarely include more than one song from a given artist in the heatrocks, an exception needed to be made. "Brooklyn 1 2" is less in line with the "blunted" feel of his last track and more in line with that which BK is known for: Boom Bap. filled with some serious scratch work this track is mezmerizing. The drums bang, their is a repeated chant shouting out the title and some atmospherics that you could totally imagine someone from the DITC camp flowing over like water.

B.o.B. or is it Bobby Ray? This particular track is credited to the latter. From his mixtape pitting his two personalities against one another "Mr. Bobby" is a fun song that makes me wonder how his debut could have been so shitty. I haven't actually listened to it yet though so I'm not speaking from my own opinion. Maybe I'd love it if I rocked it. This tape had me enjoying the guy they want to bill as the next Andre. That is absurd and I don't see much similarites between the two. Just cause your from the south, dress a little different and want to play some instruments doesn't mean you are Mr. 3 Stacks. Let's accept the young kid for who he is and let him do him. Perhaps then The Great Adventures would have been more like those mixtapes he dropped.

While heads and critics alike universally praise offerings from veterns such as The Roots and Big Boi I'm still listening to this hot slab from Chi Town exports Eighties Babies. Comprised of one emcee and one beat maker their album Sonic Music is maybe the best thing I've listened to all year. The intro is what I selected and it demonstrates just how good this album is. They kick things off instantly with dude stating "I never claimed to be the nicest but I'm far from wack." A very true statement and after listening to the album I gotta say he might just be one of the nicest out right now. Get this off that bandcamp once you are done stroking off the legends.

I'm not sure where i first came across Super Smokey Soul, perhaps on one of the Beat Dimension volumes. If you know me, you know my affinty for the haze and this guy makes beats that sound quite informed by the same substance. Maybe that is just the stoner in me drawing inferences from his name. Regardless his beats knock and this one, abtly titled "Lets Smoke" should provide the perfect soundtrack to you next session, if not cypher.

Starlito has been the aritst of 2010 for me. He has dropped a couple projects, Rennasicance Gangster being one of the best of the year. But beyond his new work, I've been digging in his back catolog and he has a thorough one. Starlito's Way 2 came out last year to much praise from some, but also didn't get much exposure. "I Feel How I Look" features the not so talented Mike J (don't download his tape) but Lito carries the jam with his typical cocky confidence tempered by a brain that thinks deeper than your average trap star.

I don't know anything about this jam "Gimmie Your Love" not even how it ended up in my iTunes. That being said, sometimes those are the best cuts. This song is quite bombastic and celebratory. I think it's a little too chipper for the likes of most of the electro tinged DJ's around town, and to be fair it might border on cheesy but I can't help but smile and nod my head to it. It's uptempo and fun, matching the mood this current heatwave has me in. This just needs to be blasted at full volume in a park.

Rarely do I add cuts to the heatrocks in the last few days of the month, I put on Jermiside's project and knew from the jump I might be finding something worthwhile on it. "Like Never Before" was that cut. With a great beat featuring an awesomely subdued vocal sample you are treated to Jerm's flow and vocab. He spits like emcees of past and wants to convey a point about his abilities and goals. It's straight up Hip Hop coming out the 2010 for you to rock with and remember why you fell in love with the culture.

Download June Heatrocks here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The May Heatrocks

These Heatrock compilations never seem to make it up to the blog in a timely manner? The two jobs are over and summer is about here. I took a brief hiatus this weekend from the antics of Seattle life to come home and visit with my mom. Always feels good to return to the place of my beginings but I'm ready to get back and keep things moving. Shouts out to all my Jet Set fam, rock tonight for me!

Download the May Heatrocks here.

May saw the release of the Jeezy tape Trap or Die 2, picking up from the last tape and as is usual with mixtapes things stay just a little harder than you would hear on a full length issued by a label. The Clipse and Jeezy are three of the only emcees who own the coke raps today. This song doesn't really pull on their mutual trade but they deliver a high energy banger for you to rock out with none the less!

Detroit is a cold hard place. People say the grey skies round Seattle keep our youth
depressed more than anywhere else. Maybe so, but depression has a bit more stressors than the weather - an important facet to it still. Shigeto is walking the line, like Kyle Hall, between 313 hip hop and electronic pulling obvious inspiration here from the god Mr. Yancy but also demonstrating an ear for electronic squeaks and nodes that will keep your head spinning and the beat moving.

Elevated Soul entered my conciousness via their last LP (I'm drawing a blank on at the moment) and now they are back with another dope project this time teaming with Boho Fau. The album includes instrumentals on the back half. "Open Mic" came on in shuffle and I was hooked. The dusty drums that sound live (sampled or played? I'm leaning towards sampled from a live record) along with the awesome trumpet refrain and sprinkling of keys keep your attention rapt. Heard them rhyme to it as well, comes off pretty hot.

Keeping the spacey beats pumping like it was the year 3000 round these parts of the
internet, Budamunky is another name I'm getting familiar with today and his cut here
"Atmospheric Vibe" is the soundtrack to the astronauts chiefin on the space station, no joke! Smooth and head nod inducing sounds wrap around your head and make you feel like their is no time, just now, Let this shit make you travel mentally, spirtually and physically.

De La Soul has been making rap tunes since the 80s. They make great music. Yet have almost no repsect outside of the heads who have road with them since about as long. Some cite their AOI series as a fall off that was unrecoverable from. I personally rocked those albums heavy. They were my introduction to the three and why I went back and learned about the work they had put in. 4-Ize at one point in time was down with Luda and the DTP crew. Today I have no idea, but he has this tape dropping with Cannon doing what he does. "Concrete Jungle" sees Senor Kaos joining everyone else for a serious tune discussing the realities of life in the streets.

From Fela's first horn refrain that opens "Water No Get Enemy" you have to smile. His music was so full of life. Even on a song such as this or another tune that is speaking about unfortunate ways of African being the music is always energetic and happy. Swinging and funky. He certainly did learn a thing or two from Mr. Brown upon his visit to the states. My fascination with Fela and music created in Africa began almost 3 years ago and hasn't ceased yet. Still finding new artists and new ideas, don't be nervous to turn on the long jams - they hold an honesty rarely seen in a 3 minute radio cut.

This might lose me a few cool points with the Hip Hop bloggerati but I'm not at all familiar with MC Breed. Heard the name, feel like I remember hearing him on a 2Pac jam? Help me out someone! "My Walls" is real funky and is certainly from an era of west coast rap that doesn't exist any longer. I really like him here, with all this talk of Drake being a rapper and a singer MC Breed demonstrates how the two can really work together from a time when cats certaily weren't trying to do both.

Good soul music soothes you. It can make you feel good, put a smile on your face. Stee Downes put out a nice little project called All In A Day on Sonar Kollectiv filled with great melodies and his wonderful voice. "Asunder" opens the project and it's great. The horns scream happiness and jive perfectly with the underlying guitar licks.

Starlito has been gaining some noterity as of late but he isn't new to potential fame. He was once known as All Star and signed to Cash Money. I spent some time downloading a number of old tapes and have only really rocked one - The Tenn-A-Keyan - it's a dope project that shows you Lito rocking over a number of industry beats, including this one here "Hollywood Divorce." Andre & Big Boi's melancholy track provides the perfect chance for him to get a little serious and talk about his life for a moment. Check this out and hear where a recent voice has been before.

Gonjasufi has gotten some local attention thanks to his relationship with Seattle star Ish aka Palaceer Lazaro of Shabazz Palaces. I wrote about the Gonjasufi album when it leaked and while I haven't kept it in rotation I did recently grab a whole slew of his old projects when he went by Sumach. "Phosphate" came on in shuffle and grabbed me. The reveresed sounds, heavy static and random vocal sample that I can't quite decipher. I'm not suprised that GLK and FlyLo are fucking with this guy. Nor am I suprised he is related to Ish.

I remember the Red Hot Riot compilation coming out but I wasn't hip enough yet as I was still just begining my digging deeper into Hip Hop. I didn't discover Fela til college yet I had been hearing his music and influence for years. "Shuffering & Shmiling" is a classic tune from the man and on this compilation they rework it to include Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, and J Ben. Kweli gets to rock over a dope drum breakdown and tells a tale of when he worked in the book store back in BK. A fun and lively tune.

Kweli was in my ear a bit this last month. After not expecting much of anything from a new Reflection Eternal album I was pleasently suprised by Revolutions Per Minute. While most of Hi-Tek's beats don't evovle much they all sound dope and as usual he knows the sound that matches with Talib's flow and voice. "Lifting Off" is the first time I've ever heard Kweli dedicate this much time to the herbal. A great tune that is filled with Talib's ever present thoughtful analysis of both the downfalls and heights one can reach.

Earlier in the comp I was talking about some modern beatmakers traveling to space with their compositions. Now we have Manzel here to travel with ya. "Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty (The Dopebrother Remix)" I know nothing about but that it sounds good! Super nasty with a great bass line, funk for days and gnarly synths. Just have fun with yourself, that's all this tune is concerned with. Peep the break in the last 45 seconds.

After that ride you gotta kick back and just cruise. From Statik Selektah's last joint 100 Proof: The Hangover he traveled out west to pick up Ev, Fash and his homie Kali for a laid back jam dedicated to that which we call home: "The Coast." Kali holds the hook down but it's really the beats and rhymes here. Statik cooks up awesome beats, has been for a minute his third project doesn't seem to be any different. Ev is at the top of his game, Fash is the young kid making moves, spitting fire trying to prove himself the right heir to the lefts thrown. If you have ever called the fresh coast your home this is a jam for you.

Everyone that knows me knows what I roll with. Dutches are great but hard to find and
scream east coast. Swishers are the west coast roll. Pac Div dropped this tape that I
listened to once and moved to the hard drive but it had a couple jems. "Don't Forget the Swishers" was that one everyone was checking for before the tape even dropped. Justifibly so with Dom Kennedy, cARTer & Chip tha Rip joining the trio to dedicate a smooth jam to the blunts. So break it down, roll it up and apply the flame to that big bomber, fuck them planes. Thanks for rocking with the heat rocks and TML one mo gin!

Download the May Heatrocks here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nas & Damien Marley "Distant Relatives"

Artists, rappers especially, like to talk about collaborations and this in turn makes us fans excited to hear the music from those sessions. Often they don't ever come to fruition. When Nas & Damien Marley started talking about doing an album together I greeted it with great suspicion. Yeah right. But in did happen. Distant Relatives is in stores now and Nasir Jones is touring with Damien Marley.

Last night the show stopped in Seattle. I haven't listened to Nneka yet but with all the good things I've heard and the bit of the set I did catch last night I think her album is about to be searched out. She seemed to mix a lot of different styles into her set, demonstating quite a powerful and unique voice. I'm curious what the music sounds like on her album, as she was backed by a few live instruments but not a full band.

Once she was done the show got boring with no DJ rocking tunes between sets. I found myself outside ignoring the sold out crowd and trying to catch a plane or two. Then with no fanfare Nas was on stage rocking classics. The crowd instantly erupted, spitting words from Illmatic tracks, hands to the sky, heads nodding. The first time I saw Nas I had the same feeling, you gotta see this man.

His presence on stage may be unrivaled. He enjoys himself, smiling and rocking, entertaining the crowd. KRS may spell out E-M-C-E-E but Nas is a true master of ceremonies. Thankfully the sound man at the Sodo Showbox was earning his buck and things sounded terrific. While it's rare that a band can capture an artists beats via their instruments, especially when those beats were not made with a band in mind, Jr. Gong's band handled theirs quite well delivering terrific renditions of a few classics. Green Lantern was on the 1's and 2's and I'm pretty sure he dropped a few beats into the mix as well. Can't complain about that.

Upon Marley's entrance the rastas in the place went understandably ape shit and clouds began to rise. I'm not particularly familiar with his music, mildly familiar with that of his fathers but I enjoy much of his contributions to the Distant Relatives project. His vocal intotation is often not that dissimilar from an emcee's flow. I'm not sure if this singing style of rapping is common in his solo music but it works well here and he keeps pace with Nas. Of course he does drop into singing as well and it's good.

Reggae is a style I'm only just now begining to really dig into. Much of it doesn't capture me, while a few things in the genre enrapture my ears. I appriciate good singing and Damien posses a good voice. Lyrically they are both trying to educate and express themselves. Nas has always been one to discuss knowledge and at least portrays the idea that he is well read. Marley's spirtuality and ideas about the world feel much more organic and obviously come from a place much different than that of most of the world.

The theme behind the album is of a unified world. We are all related, we are all Distant Relatives in some crazy interconnected way. Musically these connections are explored beautifully throughout the album. Damien and his brother Stephen are responsible for the sonic tapestries here, pulling from their own traditions, the Hip Hop production mind frame and inspired sounds from the homeland of Africa. Music is deep and always moving. The tunes here are full and lively. The use of live instrumentation gives the album life and allows for Nas and Damien to more fully push the message of empowerment.

Live this provides the oppurtunity for a band to really dig into the music and give the audience the best, hip shaking jams possible. Of course the slow tunes are performed as well, but the crowd rioted best when the album opener dropped. "As We Enter" samples Mulatu Astatke and features a great synth line that fuels you to mash out. Horns blow and the party continues.

Throughout the show the keyboard player was getting fully down and was obviously adding his own personal touches to the tunes. This sense of freedom is something rarely seen in bands backing Hip Hop artists. Perhaps it is because they don't typically. If I had seen Marly in the past I would have a better idea of how they operate, I can't imagine that they don't improvise and play with the music at any given show. Improvisation is another great musical form that has been lost in rap, going so far that today you can't even believe when someone claims they just spit a freestyle.

The music on the album and the music they performed last night is great. The classic status some reviewers have bestowed is a bit much. At times the music is tired. Sometimes it sounds like they are trying to hard, "My Generation" with Joss Stone and Lil Wayne is cool enough but sounds like the result of checks being cut, not an organic, inspired group of artists who really believe their generation is the hope of the future. If you missed the show, don't allow it to happen if they make it back again. In the mean time check out the album and enjoy something strikingly original.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Kush & Orange Juice" (2009)

It's finally time. Kush & Orange Juice. It's been out here, cats are listening to it. Wiz performed practically the entire tape this past weekend. The show left a bad taste in my mouth, but that isn't anything new when it comes to acts I dig on. The crowd was eating it up and the venue was packed out. Can't be mad at all of that. Still curious about what all the hype is for? Download this tape and spark something up, the picture will get clearer the hazier the room is.

If I've come to one conclusion in my time reviewing all his projects it's that while he probably can get deep, it's not in his repetroie at the moment. This also coincides with my feeling that Wiz is an artist to watch. I see a vision behind what he is doing and am incredibly excited to see where he takes it. He has a lot of potential and as he grows I think his music will too.

We aren't their yet though. He is still a 22 year old kid having fun, enjoying life and the perks of his career choice. Rollin doobies, drinking champagne, stealing your ladies and flying around the world to rock shows or record raps. Pretty good life. This is the world you will be privy to while listening to Kush & OJ. If you are in the mood to celebrate life, have a good time, and get highed up this is the perfect soundtrack.

Beatwise things are a little more mellow. A few tracks have a heavy west coast, summertime kicking it vibe even seeing Wiz channel his inner Quik on the flows. The electronic influence in his beats from the past is almost entirely absent, replaced by soulful and funky samples.

What made me a fan of this kid (aside from our avid inhilation of greenery) was his flow. I've mentioned it throughout these reviews but it's inescapable, it's his best skill and he utilzies it to the fullest. None of the lyrics here capture any depth to life, if you need some substance stay away.

He has played around with sing song type flows before, here he dedicates whole songs to it. "Up" is all about getting high and with it's drumless beat and spacey synths in effect it really does come across like you floating on cloud in audio form. I've heard many laugh when this song comes on, it's pretty silly but I can't stop playing it.

The same goes for this tape in general. I took a break from all things Wiz after the show, but I knew this needed to get up. If you have ever enjoyed Wiz or wondered what all the hype was for this is what you should get. It's good, prior to Saturday I would of said it was great. Bad shows and high expectations will do that to your favorite music. Keep one rolled while playing this.

Download Kush & Orange Juice here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Deal Or No Deal" (2009)

After independently releasing his debut album at 19 and moving ten thousand units Wiz must of thought his path was written. Signed to Warner Bros., Rolling Stone write up's and a chart climbing single were all in his grasp - he didn't let it make him slow down. Instead he kept hustling, pushing forward and gaining fans the old fashioned way: touring. Consistently dropping quality music for free probably hasn't hurt either.

2009 was busy for Wiz and this had to have been what it was all going towards. In late November he released his sophomore album Deal Or No Deal, suprisingly to little fanfare it seemed. My initial disappointment in it was largly to the fact that many of the songs here are pulled from his old mixtapes. Having just finished working my way through his entire discography this was still noticable, however today I'm feeling more forgiving and it is nice to hear the tracks without tags, rewinds or some other typical mixtape nonsense.

The music found here is pretty typical Wiz. It's almost entirely missing much of the "sound" that made Star Power and Flight School the successes they were, but also might explain why B.A.R. was a decidedly more mainstream and straightforward affair. Almost none of these songs feature the sing song vocal stylings he had been experimenting with, he has some mediocre singers on the hooks instead.

Producution is handled by his team, Sledgren & Johnny Juliano who seem to be holding back a little bit here, or perhaps these are all old tracks that Rostrum and Wiz decided they just needed to drop and move on. A few other cats turn in some beats, and few come close to what he has worked with recently. Whatever the story is, these are obviously old and that makes the desire to replay this disc low for me.

The problem Wiz is going to have to tackle at some point is picking what lane he wants to ride in. He seems to be trying to please everyone by trying his hand at all styles. He is a talented dude and pulls off much of what he puts his mind too, but for a sophomore release in the year that he certainly proved himself it's a bit of a disappointment.

I'll never talk bad about about Wiz and Currensy together however and the inclusion of "Friendly" here was a great call and is such a fun song you can't help but turn up. This is the overall problem with Deal Or No Deal, just when you want to write it off as old tracks that sound tired one of those old cuts brings a smile to your face reminding you why you dig Wiz.

I've posted a grip of material here over the last 9 days, Wiz has been generous enough to give away a lot of music in his career. No download link for this one, if you are really hard up I'm sure it won't be too hard for you to find.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Burn After Rolling" (2009)

I had some false impressions of Burn After Rolling that had me hating on a tape that is actually quite good, certainly a worthy follow up to the excellent Flight School he had dropped several months prior to this. In '09 he also released his record with Currensy and his full length dropped a few weeks after B.A.R. - it serves as a great representation of Wiz and certainly was a great marketing tool for Deal or No Deal.

All this work and he doesn't even begin to sound tired. Here he rocks over a lot of jacked beats. "Say U Will" brought it out of people last year and Wiz was one of many who dropped some deeply introspective lines over Kanye's masterpiece. He rocks over "Mafia Music" and "Best I Ever Had" as well - I certainly could be missing some others, I'm not sure of the origin of many of these tunes.

Regardless of where they came from, Wiz owns them all. He is simultaneously at his funniest and most serious throughout the tape. While more of it is his typical playful self, he is demonstrating some diversification which is nice to hear. He seems to be tired of haters as he address those who think he hasn't earned his spot multiple times. Of course the ladies are always a topic of discussion for Wiz; that probably won't ever change.

He raps about taking other dude's women on the aptly named "Take Yo Bitch," tells tales of good times with "On The Pill" and for his reworking of Drake's hit turns in "Ode to Naked Pop Stars" paying tribute to the rash of ladies who decided to let flicks of themselves leak online.

While Star Power overdid the auto-tune and Flight School utilized it startalingly well via small doses, here its only around for one track, the self depricating "If I Were A Lame" is awesome (thanks to it's over the top nature) and calls close attention to more than a few people's probelm in this Hip Hop shit.

Burn After Rolling is definetly more of a mixtape than the last few projects he has released which makes the annoying drops and occasional rewind that much more intolerable. Wiz you give us damn near full length free albums - why you gotta have a DJ talk all over your jams? Despite this minor annoyance
this is another great offering from the young kid who builds everyday all day with no sign of slowing down.

Download Burn After Rolling here.

Re-Post: Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa "How Fly" (2009)

I already spoke on this joint back towards the end of last summer after marinating on it for far to long. It was a great time and if you haven't listened to these two together you need too.

Read my review here and get watch out for that Burn After Rolling review coming later today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

April Heatrocks: The Lost and Late Edition

My favorite feature of iTunes has to be the play count and top 25 most played lists. I love being able to see what is getting the most plays from me. With my computer crashing and the subsequent reloads I found myself loosing the valuable information that makes up my play count and helps determine what you all are blessed in these here posts I like to call the heatrocks. A few of the songs from last month were so ingrained in my ears i couldn't forget them, others just jumped out as I scrolled. Just 11 bangers this time around due to technical difficulty but you'll enjoy them!

J Rocc, Daedelus, Ras G & Nobody all participated in a little project with Dublab outta LA entitled Secondhand Sureshots and it is one of the dopest documentaries about diggin I've ever seen. They all went out with 5 bucks and picked up 5 records from thrift shops in LA. Took them home and made tunes out of them, dublab pressed em on to dubplates (and subsequent full 12" vinyl) and had each artist go drop them back into the original bins. DOPE. This tune is J Rocc's concoction flipping some Barbara striesand. So beautiful.

Rick Ross has become perhaps the biggest joke in all of Hip Hop but he consistently picks some of the best beats and has the ability to just body a track. Don't know who his homie C-Ride is but his tape The Arab Store gave me a little enjoyment. This track "Str8 Outta Carol City" is on some grabbing at it's namesakes stature with the energy and excitement they let loose. I dig it. What you think?

I will never forget deciding to buy Bonobo's last album on CD because it came with the instrumentals, forever being pissed as the record is so beautiful I can only imagine what it would really sound like if played correctly. Oh well, live and learn. His latest album Black sands seems to be gaining a lot of momentum and hype and this selection "Kiara" reminds me slightly of the Starkey album along with some of the best moments of Joker's brand of dubstep. It's an airy party tune.

Flying Lotus has let loose his latest onto the massive that is planet Earth. Although Cosmogramma may very well be communicating with other dimensions too, us earthlings should be glad to have this project. It's beauty is unmatched and very well may not be. Here on "Do The Astral Plane" we experience a house track done FlyLo style. It's hot and should have every DJ itching to give it some burn. Rock this track, rock this album, rock anything FlyLo, Brainfeeder or Low End puts out - the hot streak isn't cooling, they are on some shit in LA right now.

Keeping the beat heads satisfied is never easy, in 2010 it seems everyone wants to do it though and as long as the albums come are as hot as the assortment of bangers we have seen drop already this year we would be fools not to embrace this ever evolving sub genre. Free The Robots delivered a project that has been standing out more and more with every listen. I'm constantly hearing a track off it, wondering what it is and being more impressed by the record Ctrl Alt Delete upon discovering yet another track worth repeat listens. The cut that had me at the moment was this "Turkish Voodoo."

Philly is not a town I think of when considering electronic music hot spots. Starky has changed this for me in one fell swoop with his album Ear Drums And Black Holes proving that dubstep and Hip Hop are lost cousins that can be contored together into something special. The album has a number of beautiful instrumental moments (opener "OK Luv" was close to taking the selection here's place) along with a few vocal performances. The best of which is here. "Numb" with P-Money on the bars delivering a great message about music's power to heal and save. I love this song and captures the pain music can absorb.

10.4 Rog dropped this little gem for us while we were running a remix contest "ExtraHellaDope" from them SOTA boys. Rog laced it pretty right, with a narly bass line and his quirky synths that are rapidly becoming a trademark of this young beatmaker. Yet another demonstration that 10.4 needs to work with everyone in the town. Seattle beats to make your head nod.

Murs and 9th Wonder have teamed up yet again and I once again don't know where to stand. I've had such a roller coaster ride with both parties music at this point I kinda just feel like I want to throw my hands up - it doesn't matter this much. In reality my questioning the music is silly, Sweet Lord was one of the best records I'd heard when it dropped and the fact that they did it for free? Who does that today of the same stature as these two? For this lastest offering it feels like they finally got to Murs coast as the music is much more riding type shit. Kurupt makes two appearences and kills both with ease. He needs to make a record with 9th now. Murs does what he does, can't really say he stands out.

I'm in the middle of reviwing these Wiz discs and it's been a great ear opening experience. He has traversed many styles of rap in his years making tunes. Today he is at his most haziest and most distant from rap. Here on "Up" he is in effect singin, albeit quite poorly. Yet it works. Probably more for us stoners than anyone else but we all know what he is getting at as he chats "we go Up, up, up, up (repeatedly)." No we ain't coming down with ya Wiz. Just keep us flying - no one is audio dope like the Khalifa man.

I'm slowing breaking into the final Little Brother, and While Soderberg paint's a great picture that we all should embrace I'm feeling a little like what the older heads must of felt when Tribe or EPMD split: heart break. It's bittersweet. I wasn't mad at 9th's departure/removal but I'm not sure about the prospect of never hearing an album of Tay and Pooh raps together. I'm sure we will get cuts here and there but it won't be the same. Such a shame. At least they gave us one more jawn that is filled with gems we shouldn't overlook. Here is the first cut that got me, shouts to Tay with that line "rap's no country for old men." It's the truth yet I think you had the skills to change the face of Rap. Fuck you probably already have. Time will show us the birth you gave to this music. Thanks for the time on the mic.

Download the heatrocks here!

Wiz Khalifa "Flight School" (2009)

It's only proper to have something rolled up when listening to Flight School, front to back the best project Wiz Khalifa has dropped in his career. Kush and Orange Juice is hot, I'll get to it, but this is his shining moment in my ears. Having listened to Star Power finally it makes perfect sense as a follow up, capitolizing on every dope aspect of that tape and simeltaneously dismissing all the weak ideas that were probably dead before he really tried them. What you get is an awesome project I've already declared as one of the best - I can always give my thoughts on a tremendous record though.

The production here is awesome. He grabs a few beats, Santogold's "Starstruck" and a Pharcyde classic which he nimbly rides perfectly. His flow is on full demonstration here and he never disappoints. It's an awesome listening experience as he selects such a diverse array of backdrops to rip it's just fun to hear him always execute with ease.

He doesn't spit anything mind blowing, but it's always clever, often bragadocious and always cocky. Sometimes he drops into a slightly more introspective mood and it's usually to good results. On "Material" he is completely honest about what he is after, he wants his name known and he is chasing success.
"They say we too material but money make the world go round."
It's hard to say that my consumption of herbal greenery has nothing to do with my liking for Wiz Khalifa. He has never hidden his affinty for the chronic but it has been a steady growth of how much he dedicates to the topic. Here it's pretty prevalent but still see moments when it's forgotten. Of course the trade mark weed song is here, this time straight jacking an old reggae tune and spitting over it after letting the old guy sing for some time.

He dedicates maybe a little too much energy to shouting out clothing companies and designer labels but that was hot for a moment and he certainly has no fear at jumping onto trends. He is savy enough to roll it into his own image, not looking like a joke but like someone who has been riding for street wear from the begining. Perhaps he has, it wasn't really prevalent in the tapes I've reviewed up to now.

Kev The Hustler is here and while at first I wasn't feeling it, it's grown on me. The beat knocks and they concoct some very creative lines referencing money and how much of it they have - silly in the end but done well. Success! And when backed with a song as inspiring as "Never Ever" you can't be made. The kid works hard and has paid more dues than many of these cats gracing covers today, his shine will come and burn longer due to it.

Flight School is great. I can't encourage you to listen to it enough. The beats are all stellar and will make you want to move. The introspective moments are heavy and entirley to the point about struggles everyone enjoys. The cocky confidence swagger is only enboldend thanks to this realism. Roll a pack of sweets up and listen to Wiz.

Download Flight School here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Star Power" (2008)

In between Prince of the City Vol. 2 and Star Power Khalifa's weed consumption had to have gone up. The references are far more on par with what we have come to expect and the sound is that spacely party and chill vibe he has used his in house team of beatmakers to mold into their thing. Here we still see moments of that block talking young kid whose first project welcomed you to Pistolvania.

Most of these projects have utilized a quick intro and it remains the same here which just means the music starts that much sooner. Kicks off proper with a Johnny Juilano feature "I'm a Star" that is a filled with an awesome hook taylor made for clubs. Wiz spends the time telling you just how star lived his life is. Truth or fiction, it doesn't really matter he owns the image and paints it to be pretty fun.

Of course it can't all be fun and parties. The guests keep coming through which add another element to this tapes walking of a line between where Wiz came from and where he was going. Kev The Hustler, Boaz & Young Ro join him for the remix to "Be Easy" featuring the same, mashing, heavy synth, dirty banger of a beat but with all these cats going in and handleing theirs. Wiz gives us a new verse that is full of that bragadocious swagger I'm sure Warner Bros. was convinced they could capitolize on.

The Star Power tracklist is interspersed with "freestyles" over commerical beats. If these are real, straight up freestyles that is pretty awesome. We will probably never have a way to know and it's unfortunate that the state of the game today means that we question what someone means with the use of that word. In the end though, each of them ("Low Ridin", "Everytime", Dope Boys" & "Where The Cash At") show us that he is a fully capable emcee, ready to perform at the level of his peers. Fuck a freshman 10 cover in 2009, Wiz was the chosen one and hasn't ever lost sight of his vision.

This tape is fun and shows much of the potential we are seeing come to fruiton today. Perhaps I've been sayin this throughout my reviews of all these projects. It's an amazing feat to me in this industry today. Few people grasp the concept of building an artist. It was how the music industry operated for years. I'm enjoying his back catolog as an oppurtunity to see into the mind of an artist I thoroughly enjoy. It shows me who he was and who he really is more fully. And I constantly hear hints as to what he makes today. All of this contributes to my listening of his tunes.

Listening to Star Power I can't help but spark up. It's the first tape I've reviewed in this series that has given me that desire. As I said, his weed consumption has increased here. And his ear for beats demonstrates it. So many of these tracks just feel like they are covered in this haze, not the dustyness of so much boom bap production but the cloudy haze that comes from blunt after blunt after blunt to the dome. This is some new age stoner music for the masses.

Download Star Power here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wiz Khalifa "Prince of the City Vol. 2" (2007)

Upon first listening to Prince of the City Vol. 2 I was scratching my head. It wasn't that it sounded terrible but it didn't really seem like the Wiz I had been listening to. Perhaps this contributed to why I was delayed in running it yesterday like the plan has been. Sometimes delays happen and Mothers Day was no joke in the resturant biz! Cash money in my pocket makes things all better though.

So what's good with this second mixtape of '07 from the Khalifa man? It's head and shoulders above Prince of the City Vol. 1 for a multitude reasons. He is finally coming into his own. Don't get me wrong, the projects before this one were definetly instrumental in his sound, but here on Vol. 2 you will hear what it is you know Wiz for.

The tape starts quick with a vocal clip from the movie The Wiz before the celebratory anthem "Got Damn Love It" about how much he loves life. It's up beat and fun as are many of the beats to be found on this disc, done by much of his in house team I'm assuming. They too are coming into their own as producers incorporating more electronic and dance sounds into the tunes, giving them a more friendly feel that would certainly translate to broader pop appeal.

Where the previous tape with Green Lantern felt like something a major would organize to "help" their new signee, Prince of the City Vol. 2 feels like something Wiz did on his own out in the 'Burgh just trying to please his fans. His trademark weed song is great here, simple and to the point. He smokes that good weed and rolls it up in blunts (yeah he wasn't talking all that shit forever) - if this is what you do you are gonna vibe with Wiz.

The biggest change on this tape compared to the previous ones is his lyrical abilities. While his album, rightly so, was filled with solid bars and his awesome flow his mixtapes have often been a little lazy and not to complex overall. Here he finally demonstrates that he can spit a hot 16 with the best of, and does it on multiple tracks. It's still generally the same content but proves that his signing was due to more than just some hype.

Prince of the City was probably the start of his mainstream exposure and his introduction to many people. It's a great one. My homie in OR has said this is his favorite Wiz tape, I'm not convinced it's topping flight school - still got a couple days til we dive into that one proper. It does continue to show me that Wiz is no one trick pony and that anyone who hates needs to peep the history.

Download Prince of the City Vol. 2.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

TML Radio 5.1.10 w/ Grynch

Last week Grynch came through to the radio show and chopped it up with us about an assortment of topics. We played some cuts as well so download this return podcast with vigor and stay tuned for the next one, it will be coming as I'm in the studio as I post this.

Download TML Radio w/ Grynch.

Wiz Khalifa "Grow Season" (2007)

For how hard I've been riding for Wiz, I'm suprised by myself having not delved deeper into his back catolog sooner. Shouts out to my Oregonian brother Sunn E.D. for hipping a kid! We've made it to 2007 and Wiz third project, Grow Season.

At this point he was signed to Warner Bros. and the major label hands are all over this project. You have a big name DJ (Green Lantern) and industry beats rocked over (Common's "Go", Snoop's "Vato" to name a couple) along with annoying drops and rewinds. No matter how you feel about these things this tape is still worth some listens and is far superior to his first offering, Prince of the City Vol. 1, yet leaves something to be desired after Show & Prove.

The weed references have been upped here, telling clubs flat out he doesn't care about the rules he will smoke when he wants on the anthem "Lifted." "Talk To Me" has a great auto tuned hook and it's probably a jacked commercial beat but I'm not hip to what it might be. Wiz sounds great on the bubbly synths and fully utilzes his smooth flow to spit about how he scoops the ladies. While it's certainly in rhyme/rap form here, somthing about him on this track clearly shows the start to where he is with the sing song form today.

Throughout this project Wiz never sounds bad, he owns these beats like they were purchased for him. Yet his trademark sound isn't present and you can't help but wish for just one or two in house productions. He and Kev the Hustler turn "Feds Taking Pictures" into "Fans Takin Pictures" to some hilarious results. This along with the other two Kev features go a long way to cementing their chemistry and make you wonder where his tape is?

Listening to this years removed and without any kind of credits makes knowing much difficult but I don't think Green Lantern contributed any beats here, making me scratch my head. The title track flipping "Go" into "Grow" is an awesome rework of the orignal and stands out as a defining track about Wiz career. Some may think he hasn't grown or isn't due to the weed raps he spits, but he is 22 - let's see where he takes us.

Grow Season is cool for documentation purposes and there are a few tracks every Wiz fan should have but overall I think this was a rushed tape scraped together by the label to captiolize on their latest investment. As usual with the majors they fucked it up and dropped the ball. Their loss, Wiz is independent and doing it his way just fine these days.

Download Grow Season.