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!