Think about the very first time that you heard Madlib’s Rock Konducta album on his own Madlib Invazion imprint. Most people thought that his production would produce wall-to-wall slaps that stays within a rigid idea of hip hop, but what they got is something much more…versatile. Adventurous even. You can smoke to it, you can sing over it, if you are feeling adventurous enough, you can even rap over it. It is more than what people made of it. You can say that hyperlink!’s Lysergic Loops follow this same template.
Using bits of psychedelic rock, prog rock, psych pop and noise, Lysergic Loops offers the same effects, but are just as interested in zeroing in on the freakout moments as they are with the moments of dreaminess. And with it, you can smoke toit, rap to it, sing to it, do whatever you want to it, as the album is designed to be a journey that, like an average dream, shifts from idea to idea in record speed.
By: Miki Hellerbach
The space that Alchemist leaves in his beats is what defines his genius. The sampling and drums are sparse yet specific. Boldy James has a relaxed deep pitched flow that is just hugged by the instrumentals. Alchemist is coming off an incredibly successful collaboration tape “Fetti” with Curren$y & Freddie Gibbs, and he extends this run of superior pure modern boom bap rap tapes with Boldy. The Detroit MC is not one for clever punchlines or witty remarks. He spits real life bars and impresses more with his imagery and deceivingly intricate rhyme scheme. He touts many internal rhymes that could go unnoticed if you get caught in how smooth his delivery is. But when you lock into the Alchemist instrumental and let it highlight Boldy’s tone the bars come alive.
The first verse on the Vince Staples assisted “Surf & Turf” is for sure a highlight. The flow on this track hits a pocket that could only be influenced by the space in the beat. Boldy spits, “Slums at Detroit, drugs from the port, plug with the source, gun in my shorts, blood was the sport, jump from the porch, hung like a horse, ones with the fork, drunk in a Porsche, trunk full of corpse.” This repeated level of imagery and storytelling while keeping an air tight flow is what separates Boldy from many MC’s. Vince adds the west coast vibe with a similar flow pocket that the track needs to feel complete.
The other main highlight is the track “Pinto.” This is Alchemist’s best beat on the tape. He has a captivating violin loop that’s as cinematic as any other sound on the tape. That sample connects periodically with a bright guitar sample and quick flute sample that keeps the ear connected. Boldy speeds his flow slightly on this track to compete with the complexity of the beat but still seems effortless. Maybe Boldy’s best bar and one of few that have a true punchline is on the track as well when he says, “Scale kinda dusty, why yo ni**as in the county workin’ for the police like a trustee?” This joint is on full repeat and of the best tracks this year.
The combination of Boldy and Alchemist is so natural. They both seem like the best version of themselves together. Boldy has four heavyweight features from Vince Staples, Benny The Butcher, Evidence, and Freddie Gibbs on the tape but is never outshined simply because he sounds like such a master of Alchemists space. Many repeat listens required on this one.
If you have kept up with SHADI, you get that his brand of psychedelic hip hop may be the type dipped in acid, but not so much that SHADI’s wild and freeform style of rapping can’t stay on track. Whether he raps over a heavy avalanche of bass or over a chopped sample of some prog-psych band, SHADI has the ability to sound right at home as long as what is inside of him remains as turbulent. So, you know to be ready for anything, as far as the production is concerned.
The track opens with pianos that sound dipped within the nearest vat of lava, and SHADI just waltzes in with a chorus ready to see to it that the song rockets his name even further for the possibility of mainstream crossover. On it, SHADI still lets you know that rap is business as he continues to stack up for his own business opportunity. But in the meantime, while SHADI has had a successful year selling out all of his tapes at Deathbomb Arc in a quick succession, he still has a lot of work as far as getting his name up. Where better to keep up with him further than the THUGS LOVE ART Page?
On Debby Friday’s second EP Death Drive, Debby Friday closes the turbulent, explosive EP with the acapella “Neight Fictive”, a gothic blues murder ballad filled to the brim with the sorrow and tension that eventually explodes with Chino Amobi’s haunting feature. Johnathan Snipes, a producer and composer best known as being 1/3rd of noise-rap pioneers clipping., takes the already haunting track and applies a synthwave/ disco sensibility that accentuates both the horror and the elevating tension of the track through the production to the point where the track abruptly cuts off before it had a chance to really break.
If there is anything that artists like SassyBlack knows well, it’s that the best part of Valentine’s Day, whether you are single or taken, is getting to hear all of the new music dedicated to love, feeling the love, giving love, amongst other things. Who best to communicate the feeling of love than the intergalactic SassyBlack?
iBeBae digs into the bag of quiet storm, ambient and jazz to make music that is flirtatious in nature, and no songs will communicate this better than the heart-aching “Flame On” and the subtly horny “I Can’t Wait”, where guest Casey Benjamin’s sax solo perfectly illustrates the yearning within. While hot romance is a constant tackle, the title track is both a track of self-love and an indirect selling from one person to another. As an intro, “iBeBae” is celebratory in how full of love she is, and at the same time very self-loving with or without the one.
But if there is anything that SassyBlack doesn’t want you to do, it is get it all twisted. “Savvy Intellectual Bounce” may be where the pursuit for that connection gives way to a sense of insecurity (as she bemoans “I don’t want to die alone”), but she isn’t too hungry for love where she won’t cut off a philanderer who only wants her simply for that drive (“Dead of Night”, where she eviscerates a self-appointed ‘God’). To love an alpha female is to never use her for personal gain.
Released on Valentine’s Day, iBeBae is a perfect EP for those who are looking for that special someone.
Whether you listen detail by detail or you listen with a passive ear, Ebonee’s “Florida water. Honey. Nick-bag of purp” is like slowly fading to sleep due to lack of energy, only to enter a fever dream that is meant to be prophetic, filled with messages that is meant to guide you. But where the BBSaidKeepItRawMix takes bits of samples to repeat them till it becomes like a nightmare you can’t seem to immediately wake up from or forget, lostpoetsmix emerges with a poem written by Ebonee herself.
Ever the crever one, Giovanni Marks released, on 2/20/20 at 2:20 a new EP a lot like when he released Black Jack Parsons on the 11th of November in 2011 (Angel numbers!). And if you have joined Giovanni Marks on his musical journey before, you would know that futuristic is not exactly the word to describe what he does. It’s an advanced hybrid style between synthpunk, hip hop and funk that can only come from a mind that is as paranoid as it is introverted. Anyone who enters the crev universe listening will wonder how the hell he does it.
Over glitchy beats that percolate, stutter and bend with melodies that can only be described as elastic, Subtitle tackles “re-gentrification” and its cultural effect within a city, and brings Self-Jupiter on board for a poem imagining himself as a “tarantula” over hauntology-style synths. All of this being, what Marks calls, “the harbinger of a longer form production coming up.” Till the new project drops, feel free to take a wade through Mark’s mind.
You would think that hip hop, as much as they have an angry streak against Soundcloud rap, would welcome Ka5sh as its boogieman. Not really boogieman, but the kind of rapper that seeks to read any new youth-led clout-hungry trend for filth. Sadsummer is no different as it takes on Soundcloud rap’s biggest problem: women troubles.
The object of Sadsummer seems to be to battle young cishet male’s newfound attitude towards love and heartbreak: just grab a girl, get your fuck on and never call her again. Hell, for bonus points, trash talk her to your friends. Fuck love, essentially. “Insecure” exposes that very idea by suggesting that flexing is indeed a form of insecurity and self-hatred. But you can take it as that or just let a pen be a pen…or in this case a breakup album be just a therapeutic breakup album.
“Antichrist” remains a potential song that broken-hearted men will cherrypick and sing to the top of their lungs, “Spice Rack” opens with trash-talking friends and rolling eyes towards the titular spice rack, “Lifestyle” finds comfort in the friends his female company doesn’t care for, and the emotionally resignated “I Give Up” becomes the album’s turning point as far as coming to grips with not only the pain of said breakup, but an overall sense of hopelessness.
Sadsummer is only groundbreaking in its way that it details the raw emotion surrounding breakups (the need to want to hate girls forever, the need to toss a girl’s spice rack out of the window till it breaks on the pavement, the need to not let it and other thing in your life keep you from wanting to feel something afterwards) and dismisses the patriarchal pretense of moving on despite it. Sometimes, when love is done, moving on isn’t that easy. If you get anything from listening to Sadsummer, it should be this: if you never truly find emotional resolve, that’s okay.
A lot of great things come from the ashes of other things. Perhaps, not even ashes, but a growth from one place to another. Look at things from a seed growing into a tree, Joy Divison to New Order, who Damn Selene used to be to the person they are right now.
We know what you are thinking.
You had somehow (be it through past recommendations or a chance troll through Bandcamp for new ideas) heard or seen some of these songs before somewhere, but they are now more suited from the very voice of Selene Toffoli, who goes underneath Damn Selene. Where these songs were once buried within the confines of the underground, Nobody is a perfectly timed re-introduction of a nerdcore artist to the larger world, and a decalration that they are not looking to stay in obscurity any longer.
Every song you hear finds them having a sense of power. They rap like their life is dependent upon its power with topics ranging from anarcho-capitalism (“Buy Something”) to chronic illness (“The Other Chronic”). The track opens with a sneer through “Ghost Stories” where guitar feedback threatens to burst and Selene lets you know off the bat that it’s “to hell with your standards and norms”, and you’ll indeed be sorely mistaken, if you think Selene wan’t going to spell those words out song by song. Where tracks such as “Black Bloc Party” (an anarchism posse cut with the likes of Johnny Panic and Messiah Carey) or “Boot-Diks” make great Nazi-punching anthems, Selene takes plenty of time to let us into their personal situations ranging from dysphoria (“Glamour Shots Fired”) to chronic illness (“The Other Chronic”) to even her most insecure moments (the gleefully aggro and positive”#CATPOSTERHULKSMASH”, “Fine Lines” with Dug and Happy Tooth).
If Nobody By That Name Lives Here Anymore has one message running through it, it’s that any setback be damned, Damn Selene is here and plans to kick all types of ass for years to come, but whether that becomes a job they can do counts upon your belief in them.
Within Infinity Knives’ love letter to Sudan, he grabs a collection of Baltimore singers such as Bobbi Rush and rappers HNNY & ENEM (who appear on three tracks) for an album that 1) inspires as much a sensation of slight dread as it does a sense of hope dripping from every note and 2) runs the gamut from R&B to street rap to opera (“Sway Me, Sway Me Into the Arms of the Lord”) to minimalist classical/folk without feeling the least bit broken at the seams.