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.