Vince Staples was always an artist that had great visionary procedure and knew how to really capture an audience. Summertime ’06 was the album that described Staples’ come up from a life with a father in crime, to what his life had become now as he tried to break the cycle, but ended up following in his father’s footsteps. Prima Donna is partially a continuation of what Summertime ’06 touched upon.
Vince Staples still talks about his younger days in Long Beach, California, and the setting around him. Staples, who is an immensely bright artist that was surrounded by the darkness of crime, violence, and misery, recognizes this and touches upon the subject all over Prima Donna. The first sounds heard on “Let It Shine” is what seems to be a gun being loaded, then fired into Staples or someone around him. It could most likely be assumed that Staples kills himself as suicide references are all over Prima Donna.
The track “Prima Donna” has a line where Staples describes how he would “Buy a million-dollar home and blow my dome to paint the kitchen.” Vince Staples has never been afraid to talk about darker subject matter and speak his mind. Prima Donna is a testament to that, as Vince Staples changes up his style in part for pieces of spoken-word poetry in between tracks.
These breaks do not act as just filler to the album length, they are actually some of the most important pieces to the Prima Donna puzzle. The spoken word was such a amazing addition and the way that Staples implements it as a way of progression just proves how talented he is as an artist. Without being confined to a beat or bars, Staples is able to rhyme together phrases that resemble a stream of consciousness that I still find myself repeating even now.
There is a great line on the track “Smile” where Staples says “Don’t say you feel my pain, cause I can’t even feel myself.” Prima Donna is by no means an uplifting album, but Staples manages to make the record still have some pumped-up beats that are some of his best yet. The beat for “Prima Donna” and “Big Time” were some that could have easily fit on his Summertime ’06 record and “Big Time” even has a similar “Next Time on Poppy Street”
segment. The thunderous rain clouds, and the woman asking “Is anyone there?” creates this eerie feel and I can only imagine what Staples has in store for his next release.
Staples who has always been a favorite artist of mine has really been setting the bar so far above the competition that it is amazing to see how he grows with each release and how he continues to destroy barriers in music. The outstanding production, the catchy lyrics, and the spoken-word, when put together create this powerhouse of an LP.
Head Hunters is the golden standard for outstanding musical composition and flow in jazz music. To say that Herbie Hancock is one of the greats would be a disservice to him and to this testament to the music world. Head Hunters is not only an immensely intense record with tempo changes and complete beat switch ups in a second, but it is also one of the greatest jazz fusion records of all time.
Herbie Hancock is the mastermind behind the twelfth studio album simply titled, Head Hunters. This four track long LP may sound underwhelming, but if you know anything about Herbie Hancock, you know that what his albums lack in song quantity, they make up for in song quality and length.
Head Hunters is just over the forty-one-minute mark, and when the crunchy sounding synth lead kicks off the album with the rest of the band finally joining in, it gives off this moment of intrigue into where the LP will flow to.
Beginning almost softly and with a more laid back tone on “Chameleon,” Head Hunters soon picks up to be a near free-form jazz standard that melts the face of anyone listening. As “Chameleon” continues on this near bouncing walk of an almost funk beat, it slowly changes into something that is not at all like the original start. It slowly picks up into the crash of an amazing synth solo that seems to echo in the mind for hours. The drums and background horns are also great at backing up and keeping the very tightly-knit sound together.
There is also this great part where “Chameleon” changes into what sounds like a chase scene from a dramatic movie, where the drums pick up and the strings behind the band create this intense overtone to the track.
The next track which is titled “Watermelon Man” has this interesting use of flute that reigns through the track, which only breaks as the song slows down to a near crawl. Which then builds back up to the original beat, when first hearing “Watermelon Man,” the different flutes and background vocals that pass as near shouts almost made me laugh. Then when the bass kicks in and has this booming drum track that is filtering in and out of fills just creates this great use of everything Hancock had to use. Head Hunters is an album that is not only complex, but also layered and shows these great progressions through each track. It is almost as if the tracks have tracks inside themselves.
Hancock then moves into a more free-form style of track with the song “Sly.” This is where the Saxophone wails, the jungle beats form, and the cymbal blasts just rampage through the track. The build up is rather slow, but as the track moves along, it becomes more and more frantic. This is where Head Hunters is able to show the true power of the musicians on each instrument. The multiple layering and just how outstanding the actual sound is, was just incredible to experience. By the end of “Sly” the band is in full Bravado, blaring everything they have into one single song.
The finale of Head Hunters is by far my favorite track on the whole LP, “Vein Melter” is the perfect send off. The thumping bass line and the string ensemble creates this great rhythm to the track, but the piano and keyboards are the real important pieces of the puzzle. The high toned keys that Hancock plays just seem to bounce effortlessly through this dark, noir-like, two in the morning jazz club feel. Head Hunters is not only a perfectly created composition, but it is a journey to another realm known only to us, as Herbie Hancock’s World.
Let’s face it, Ratking is a conglomerate of talented producers and lyricists that can bring that New York vibe to anyone who never even stepped foot in The Big Apple. Wiki steps out of the shadows of Ratking and into the spotlight with his new record Lil Me.
Wiki has always been well known for his lyrics and having the ability to annihilate beats without even breaking a sweat. In Lil Me, the beats included are diverse and some of the most original that I have heard since Earl Sweatshirt’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. Wiki Stands up to the crowd with use of heavy bass, that classic street style saxophone, and that pristine hi-hat that grooves the music along at a steady pace and it is easy to lose focus on the lyrics as you focus on the beats behind it. However, the lyrics are a change for Wiki, they seem to be more melancholy and also seem to touch more on how Wiki feels with his new found fame. This is an energized album for the most part, but with songs like “Seedy Motherfucker” and “Patience” the pace is slowed down and they let us get a look more into the personal life of Wiki and even some of the artists featured like Antwon, Slick Boy, Teddy AF, Skepta, and of course he comes along with the help of his two long term friends and other members of Ratking; Sporting Life and Hak. When they come together on the track it is almost nostalgic for anyone who has been listening to Ratking since the days of Wiki93.
Wiki explains in several songs that he “feels alone when he is home” and no one can comprehend him, but through tours and going to London he realizes that people do “get him.” On “God Bless me” Sporting Life explains that “When I’m out in London know they get me.” Wiki brings up his loss of passion which is new to him and then discusses how he can talk about the responsibilities of being an adult like getting into fist fights with bouncers and the fun of not being able to hear anything in the overpowering coliseum that is New York.
This is where Wiki shines his brightest, but also starts to fall to a less energetic ending that reminds the listener of those early morning sessions of the noises of New York. The second to last track of this eighteen track powerhouse is more somber journey, reminding the listener of what it meant to “come back from the wrong side.” Wiki through out this track describes the changing leaves which would obviously lead and refer to the changes inside Wiki’s life and what has happened over the last couple years. “Sun Showers” is a fitting end to the record unless including the forty-six-minute-long speech from Aaron Bondaroff. The track really flows well from the rest of the album and it leaves on a very high note.
For those who do not understand or know of Wiki yet, Lil Me is definitely worth your time if you are into quick “club-style” beats, or it is good for the slow listener with tracks like
“Seedy Mothefucker” and “Sun Showers.” It has a little bit of everything for everyone and it really can teach you about New York and what it meant to be a “mutt” fairly quickly. Wiki has not only set the bar for newer MC’s, he has also crushed and walked over anyone who doubted in the past, saying he never could do something great with himself.
The debut studio album from Thee Oh Sees is one that extends its reach into many different genres, but does them all so well that it is actually hard to describe this album. The punk rock songs are fast, aggressive, and have that great straight to the point punk feel, but the slower, more melodic tracks are still progressive enough to hold the listener’s attention and keep them, me included, begging for more.
A Weird Exits is an album that I went in with no previous knowledge of the record, or of the record label known as Castle Face. I was instantly blown away by how edgy and raw the recording on A Weird Exits was, but also how well they fit inside all these different genres. It reminded me of the first time I had ever heard a Death Grips record and just had no clue how to describe them. Thee Oh Sees are like a punk-rock hybrid that crossed paths with The Smiths and a little bit of jazz influence as well. Like I said before, they are extremely hard to pin-point into one single sound and that works perfectly for Thee Oh Sees as they have free range to move in any direction.
A Weird Exits begins with the track “Dead Man’s Gun” that has this really sweet little guitar lick that acts a small filler between the drums and the near chanting of front-man and woman, John Dwyer and Brigid Dawson on the vocals. The two make for a great combination as Brigid’s voice has a softer and more approachable tone while Dwyer uses his voice to be powerful and put some assertion behind each track. Thee Oh Sees also consists of Petey Dammit, who is sometimes called Petey Dammit! and Mike Shoun on drums.
Together, Thee Oh Sees are a newer band that I just felt a sense of nostalgia with their sound and could instantly become attached to their music. It had this gritty, crunchy, and dirty tone, all while keeping a consistent change in overall feel that kept A Weird Exits feeling fresh after every listen.
While the album narrowly misses the forty-minute mark, it still is able to break down the walls of genre and create something that feels old but is actually totally new. Each track feels like a different experience and tracks like “Gelatinous Cube” had this surf feel to it and was able to remind me of early Wavves.
Then fast forward to the end of A Weird Exits and you come out with the song “The Axis” which was easily my favorite track of the entire album. The backing vocals, the organ piece, the dreamscape sounding guitars, the eerie lyrics, the whole track is just a masterpiece. I just loved the line “Don’t you know how much I don’t love you,” and
“Don’t you know how much I don’t care.” Its like Thee Oh Sees are just spitting in the face of everyone who ever made a love ballad in their life. It is honestly such a beautifully crafted song and it makes the whole album do an entire one-eighty spin.
Thee Oh Sees are a great band that I look forward to hearing more of, they have some other earlier EP’s and tracks out and while I go back to those, I can only recommend their work to everyone else. At least check out “The Axis” if nothing else, as A Weird Exits can take us to some strange places, they still continue to be fascinating.
New York City, a popular metropolis that was the epicenter of entertainment in America during the 1980’s. The gritty city that had so much talent at one time, that it was near impossible to keep up with. John Lennon’s Live In New York City is just another one of those outstanding albums that had mixed a social message, and entertainment into one single package.
Live In New York City shares the intimate evening where John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Jim Keltner, and finally the entirety of Elephant’s Memory, who was a band that backed up Lennon and Ono on stage that night.
Elephant’s Memory features a saxophonist by the name of Stan Bronstein, Bronstein’s work is one of the most pivotal points on Live in New York City. The saxophone work on this entire album is placed so well and Bronstein plays it just like a lead guitarist. The sax is not over powering, however, it just makes its self present in each track and continues to impress me with each listen.
John Lennon, who was obviously known for being in a small, underground band known as The Beatles actually strays away from the pop-rock sound that they were known and loved for. Instead Lennon decides to play more rock n’ roll focused tracks, while impressing the crowd at Madison Square Garden with covers of Elvis’s “Hound dog,” and the infamous track “Come Together,” but this time being played faster and in a totally different key making the track almost unrecognizable to those that do not listen to The Beatles regularly.
Live in New York City also includes some of the lesser known Lennon and Ono tracks like “Woman Is the Nigger of the World.” This is a track that Lennon himself says before playing “The Next song is one of those many songs of ours that got banned.” Lennon and
Ono were always avid speakers of civil rights, fair treatment of men and women, and being huge endorsers of peace. It was no surprise that this song was banned, as based on the name, people might expect a harsh song that is filled with hate, but the song is actually beautifully written and just shares Lennon’s opinion on how women were being treated at this point in time. Unfortunately, much of what is discussed on “Women Is the Nigger of the World” is still present and happening even in modern society today.
The Musical performance of not just Lennon and Ono, but also from the backing of Elephant’s Memory created one of the greatest live albums in history. This would also be Lennon’s first time performing live since after The Beatles break-up, this would also mean that this was the last live concert Lennon would ever perform.
John Lennon had such an influential voice and was the leader in a generation that believed in a peace movement, Live in New York City is a testament of how performers can come together in one place in the name of one
single goal. Lennon just simply wanted peace on Earth, and the way he expressed his voice was through music, and he wanted others to express their feelings anyway they could. As the crowd at Madison Square Garden fled back onto the dark New
York Streets, it was said that the chant from the crowd “Give Peace a Chance” could be heard six blocks away that night.
Lumpy & The Dumpers is the premier lo-fi punk band hailing from Saint Louis, Missouri. The band screams from start to finish on Huff My Sack and there really are no breaks on the album. Each track lasts almost under two-minutes excluding “Numbing Agent,” and “Spider Bite,” which both together don’t even reach a seven-minute mark. Needless to say, Huff My Sack is short winded, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
While Lumpy & The Dumpers consist of fast garage punk and full blast songs, they still have variety and depth to them. The short time frame that Huff My Sack carries still gives enough time to get in, destroy everything in sight and then leave just as quickly as it started. From the very first time I heard Huff My Sack, I just fell in love with how abrasive it was.
Lumpy & The Dumpers is most definitely not a mainstream band, and that adds to their charm as the lo-fi recording, as well as everything in a noisy environment creates this great forcefulness and aggressiveness to the tracks. It gives them raw emotion that is missed out in a lot of overly-mastered tracks today. Hearing Lumpy just scream in the first track that is also cleverly titled “Huff My Sack,” sets off this in-your-face kind of attitude that I just loved.
Fast, Aggressive, Destructive, but still eloquent, Huff My Sack has this great flow from each song to the next and while the recordings themselves may sound very rough to begin with, the instrumentation and structure behind them are still creative enough to engage the listener. Lumpy & The Dumpers, Huff My Sack is an album that wants to engage the audience and forces them to move around, letting loose any pent up emotions. It brings those emotions to a boiling point and forces the listener to do what punk is all about, moving.
Accommodating the fast pace and outrageously fun to listen to instrumentation comes the lyrics. Now, to some they might come off as ill-toned or insensitive, but I personally think that they match the music perfectly. Going back to the first track “Huff My Sack,” Lumpy proudly exclaims to the world listening that we should have “Been Aborted, (and) get it through our melon heads.” As I said before, the feel of Huff My Sack is overall vile and quite dirty, but it has an immense amount of flow to it and seamlessly combines all the elements of punk music to create this swamp of an album.
There are parts of the album that abandon the disgusting and slime-like feel to create just some all around greatly written and performed punk songs. The track “I’m Gonna Move To New York” comes to mind, and was easily a favorite of mine as it has a great head-banging, body-shaking chorus and an awesome drum breakdown around the halfway mark of the track.
If I could recommend any album to anyone as if late, it would most definitely be Huff My Sack. Lumpy & The Dumpers are in your face, ugly, and best of all, a great band to break some shit to.
Also I would Like to note that this is featured on the back cover for people like me who like to write and express their opinion about other people’s hard work and art…
“A HOT SAGGY NUTSACK SLAP IN THE FACE TO ALL SOCAIL MEDIA AND ANYONE ON THE INTERNET THAT HAS EVER TALKED OR WRITTEN ABOUT THIS BAND. I DIDN’T AUTHORIZE ANY OF THAT – FUCKING JAM IT.”
PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 is the newest installment in the Bones saga. Bones being the dead inside, dreadful, gritty rapper from California that has racked up some serious attention over his long spanning career in music, gaining a long-term following of die hard fans. Bones, while an artist in the game for a long amount of time has only now caught my attention in the past year as HermitOfEastGrandRiver was the tape that finally broke the surface of Bones for me, exposing what would soon become one of my favorite artists.
Bones had a hand in creating or shaping one of the newer styles of rap music, this is mostly what PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 touches upon, all the clones and mere copy-cats that Bones has produced. On the track “YourMusicSucksAndYouLookLikeADickHead” which really needs no explanation, however, Bones explains “All of you make me fucking sick, swear you doing shit that nobody did, everything you done I done already did, tell me how many times do we gotta do this?” The straight insults that Bones throws down on PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 is just down outstanding. Bones calls out every person that has ever tried to crack down on his style, and he knows that no one else can do what he does so well.
Bones has always been known for not taking too kindly to anyone who tries to steal any style or repaint a picture that has already been painted. PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 is a continuation of what Bones does best, he creates great hip-hop songs with catchy beats that are both innovative and destructive at the same time. The bass that shakes floorboards and feels like an earthquake every time it hits. It is something magical when Bones drops some new music for the fans to take in, just the instrumentation and Bones delivery on each track from the near screaming on “PeteyPablo” to the soft spoken near whisper on “DeletedScenes,” PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 has such diversity through production and verses.
The most impressive track had to be “MagentaLavaLamp” where Bones spits some verses over David Bowie’s “Lazarus.” The production on Bowie’s track just begged to be sampled and Bones left it pretty similar to the original. Rather than remixing the track, he just simply loops the soft saxophone and rising synth. This was the type of production I was looking forward to hearing going into PAIDPROGRAMMING 2, grungy, but still smooth overall.
PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 is the perfect tape to dive head first into if you know nothing about Bones. It is not nearly as heavy as Useless, but still captures what Bones is all about. HermitOfEastGrandRiver is also a great place to start, but PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 wraps up all the best things about Bones, it is grimy, loud, but still smooth enough where the listening curve is not quite present. PAIDPROGRAMMING 2 is not only interesting, but innovative and rejuvenating, Bones will forever hold the crown, as The Dead King of hip-hop.
$uicideboy$ is the hip-hop/punk rap group that comes from the 7th Ward of Louisiana. They have been having quite the successful past two years as they were and still are running the underground hip-hop scene. As they continue to release a new tape nearly once a month, $uicideboy$ seem to want to keep their throne at the top of the dungeon rap they create.
Their new tape Radical $uicide EP is a collaboration with Getter who is best known for his work with Pouya on Underground Underdog, as well as his solo work that are more focused on the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) style. While the collaboration may sound strange at first as $uicideboy$ are no where near EDM or club music, there are still elements of their sound that intertwines with Getters and together they are allowed free range to create a totally new sound or continue with the darker style that $uicideboy$ have always had.
Radical $uicide EP seems to have changed up the overall style of $uicideboy$, they rap much faster than usual and the actual instrumentation and beats behind them are much faster and more chaotic.
With their past releases, $uicideboy$ have usually had this more disgusting and grimy sounding style, while this Radical $uicide EP sounds much cleaner than in the past. That is not to say that this is not a great project as it is great, outstanding even but I would recommend starting with Now the Moon’s Rising or I No Longer Fear the Razor Guarding My Heel I or II. I just feel like these are tapes sound more at home with $uicideboy$ and while I really did enjoy this tape, I just do not think it was as interesting or innovative as their past releases.
I will say the “Memoirs of A Gorilla” was the best track on Radical $uicide EP. It hits hard, has some great verses from Ruby Da Cherry/$uicide Leopard and $crimm/Yung Chri$t. The team up and chemistry between these two cousins, produce just an outstanding team that cause destruction every single time they are on a track together.
Seriously, $uicideboy$ are some talented MC’s that have started a revolution in the underground hip-hop game.
While Radical $uicide EP was not my personal favorite release of $uicideboy$ and while I think Getter did a great job, I still think their past releases are better and have more of that dungeon rap sound that they are known for. Start with those, then come to Radical $uicide EP, then we can see exactly how Eternal Grey makes waves.
What can be said about Sublime that has not been said already? Sublime is the premiere Long Beach Californian band that stretched the limits of music, extending their tendrils into so many different genres while still being able to find success every single time. Whether it be ska, punk, reggae, rock, or the latter, Sublime would find a genre and make it their own.
40 Oz. To Freedom was the debut album for Sublime and it was Earth-shattering at the time of release but ultimately did not sell too well. The group of all white members that played reggae and punk music, that had a rapper for a front man and a care-free attitude about life. Bradley Nowell, Eric Wilson, and Bud Gaugh had some outstanding chemistry together and Sublime would eventually become a household name.
Sublime did a fantastic job of switching up their style on 40 Oz. To Freedom, from the rushed and frantic songs like “New Thrash” and “Hope,” and while Sublime had mostly original songs, they were known to cover some punk like “We’re Only Gonna Die” by Bad Religion, but also takes other influences like the cover of “Scarlet Begonias” and “54-46 That’s My Number.” Hearing a debut album that has six different covers sounds outlandish, but the massive 23-song track list bears so many rememberable and greatly written songs. While it did not originally sell very well, it eventually became the one of the highest independently selling albums of all time.
One of the main selling points of Sublime is just how interesting their sound is, I really have not heard many bands from this era that changed their instrumentation around so much from the organs and acoustic guitars, to the the deep drum kits and steel drums that became iconic with Sublime’s sound. That and of course all the songs about smoking weed or drug references like “Smoke Two Joints,” “Lets Go Get Stoned,” and the infamous “Badfish.”
40 Oz. To Freedom is one of the classic 90’s albums that have such an iconic sound and feel to them. Even when Sublime samples another track, they do so in a way that actually contributes to the feel of the new track. The quick-witted and sarcastic Bradley uses some amusing lines that bring a smile to my face every time I hear it. While the album is now well over 20-years old, 40 Oz. To Freedom continues to impress me with each listen. I love the instrumentation, the production, and of course I love the overall feel of the whole album.
The way 40 Oz. To Freedom flows from the pressed, running tracks, to the slowed down and more mellow tracks, Sublime went above and beyond on 40 Oz. To Freedom and really became the staple in Long Beach Californian music, but also as musicians around the world.
Run The Jewels is the hip-hop collective equivalent to peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, or bacon and eggs. The perfect combination between two MC’s, both Killer Mike and El-P, that lay down some dynamite tracks, bringing both electronic and classic hip-hop elements in a blend that just sounds perfect. The chemistry between Mike and El-P is like Batman and Robin, a truly dynamic duo, only this duo spits out bars about punching in faces, and taking over other MC’s spaces.
Run The Jewels II is obviously the second installment in the growing saga that is Run The Jewels. The destructive pair that is Killer Mike and El-P, both have had hip-hop careers in the past as solo artists, but after working together on Adult Swim’s Singles for The Summer, they soon found each other to work better as a team, rather than individually. Killer Mike with his thousand pound lyrics and with El-P’s outstanding production, the team together became some serious cats in the hip-hop game.
Following the release of Run The Jewels I, Run The Jewels II is a testament to the overpowering levels that two MC’s could achieve together. Run The Jewels II is eleven tracks long, each more booming in sound than the last. El-P’s production on this record is just some of the best I had heard and it was honestly a breath of fresh air to hear some electronic influence, along with the pounding and deep drums. Run The Jewels II just sounds like a warzone, the instant the album begins, Killer Mike is shouting “I’m Finna bang this bitch the Fuck Out!” its just the perfect send off into an album that is filled with violence, drugs, sex, and of course the raw authenticity of both Mike’s and El-P’s experiences with touring, the police, and the ups and inevitable downs as well.
The album also features a verse from the one and only Zack de la Rocha who is the poet/activist/singer from Rage Against the Machine. For anyone who has never heard RATM, imagine a much angrier John Lennon with a twist of Malcolm X in music form. Zack de la Rocha’s actual verse is like a full-fledged fist to the face, it is full of burned mansions, toe-tagging, and closed caskets. Rocha’s verse is actually one of the highlights of “Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck,” it fits the breakneck speed of the beat, and it is just as frenzied and hazardous as Mike and El-P’s verses.
There is also a track, “All Due Respect” that features Travis Barker, which was another surprising addition as while he does not rap, he does have a hand in the production for this track. Barker did an amazing job as the beat switches up from a synth focused slowdown, to another fast paced almost march with the cymbals blasting along with the deep bass drum that creates such a great combination.
Run The Jewels II seems to be all about the synergy and what can be created from branching out to different artists and genres. Mike and El-P realized this with Run The Jewels I, and realized that the experimentation should not stop there.
I ended up loving Run The Jewels from the moment I heard Killer Mike spitting verses about Martin Luther King Jr., The gracefulness he portrays, and the line “Top of the morning, my fist to your face is fucking Foldgers. Mike and El-P’s chemistry makes for one of the most destructive duos in music history, and Run The Jewels II is a diamond in the mine of hip-hop.
Clams Casino, the kid with humble beginnings and who worked with big named artists like A$AP M.O.B., Mac Miller and of course The Legend Lil B, fires onto the debut music scene with 32 Levels. His name has been heard around the world, and Casino finally breaks the surface of a more mainstream audience as 32 Levels shows what Clams Casino does best, make some innovative, creative, and progressive beats that invite the audience into the genre of Hip-Hop.
32 Levels begins with a nice introduction from Based God himself as he “Leave(s) it up to Clams, He (Clams Casino) got us. Changing the game as always.” Based God being the lighthouse and beacon of knowledge in all things, including Hip-Hop means that his approval is worth more than just an average opinion. Based God and myself had a lot of hope in 32 Levels and I was looking to see just how Casino was going to come back and change his sound once more. I would have never guessed that the first half of the album, tracks 1 – 5 are more fast paced and seem like Casino’s classic song “I’m God,” the album then switches to a slower combination of songs like “Ghost In A Kiss,” and “Into The Fire.”
The switch up seems like a totally different project from Casino and I had to make sure I was actually listening to the same album. I will say the tracks I enjoyed more were “All Nite feat. Vince Staples,” “Witness feat. Lil B,” and “A Breath Away feat. Kelela.” These were just songs were I loved the features and the beats were involved and easy to nod your head to. Vince Staples’ song “All Nite” was released as a single and this track actually sounded like it could have fit perfectly on Vince’s Summertime ’06. From the seagulls or birds in the tracks background, to the low-tuned bass that rattles behind Vince’s energized voice.
“Witness” is just overall such a powerful track as well, Lil B’s verse on the track is, well it is Based God and everyone knows just what type of verse he brings to every song. “Shouts Out to Africa, Shouts Out to Japan” is spit over what I believe is one of Clams Casino’s greatest beats he has produced so far. It is fast, aggressive, and has a ton of background vocals from Lil B that include some “Swag Swag” and “Whoop!” Overall I think that the production on “Witness” is the real star of the track as it boosts Lil B’s verse to such a higher platform than it already was.
Now “A Breath Away” is a track that I was not totally a fan of at first listen, but it finally grew on me and I enjoy the tired tone of the whole song. Kelela delivers some charming vocalization and the instrumental is a mismatch of what I believe sounds like drums that are being played under water. It sounds like an overall enticing, but strange track but I learned to love it.
Every track on 32 Levels is at least interesting and even if you do not personally enjoy the vocals, then the production will keep your attention as it changes drastically through each track. Clams Casino as an artist is just so steady and consistent with each release, and as he continues to grow, so does his overall sound. 32 Levels is definitely a must have for anyone that wants to experiment more with their music library and expand a little bit into the stranger side of hip-hop music. The Keyboard Kid strikes again and this time, he knocks down the house.
Enter The 36 Chambers is one of, if not the most well known hip-hop album to date. It is still recognized for the hard spitting members dropping bar after bar, the instrumentals bringing what spawned the classic East-Coast Sound, and an interesting speedway to getting hip-hop into what it is today. The sound, attitude, and overall vibe of Enter The 36 Chambers is one that is not only stimulating to the ears, but paints a fantastic image of the early Hip-Hop music.
The Wu-Tang Sword left its mark on everyone with 36 Chambers, as it was able to flip the game on its head and create some of the best offspring albums as well. The Artists like GhostFace Killah, RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and Raekwon were able to use sampling and some bumping beats to create a whole different sound that influenced people even twenty years later. It is incredible to think that songs like “Bring Da Ruckus,” “Method Man,” and of course the legendary “C.R.E.A.M.,” that rocked stereos everywhere from New York to Los Angeles, to all over the world.
“C.R.E.A.M.” is one of those songs that will go down in history of hip-hop art, and music in a general sense. The beginning of the instrumental with the smooth and laid back jazz influence to then jumping right into a crash of cymbals and one of the most remarkable piano pieces to ever be played. It reigns in ears even still to this day and it has been a personal favorite of new coming piano players to learn, and I know it was one of the first things I ever wanted to learn on piano. The bars on “C.R.E.A.M.” just have this struggling overtone and lines like “It’s been twenty-two hard years of still struggling,” and even the hook “Cash rules everything around me,” brings a mind-state of what it was like to be surrounded by barriers and oppression.
The tone of the album then switches from being a serious and authentic true story on “C.R.E.A.M.” to the then joke style of “Method Man” and the opening lines exchanged between Method Man and Raekwon bring a smile to my face every single time I hear it. The “Stabbing your tongue with a rusty screwdriver,” and the banging of “just your nuts on the dresser” is a conversation that is just too entertaining not to laugh at.
This isn’t all what Wu-Tang Clan is about though, other tracks like “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’,” and “Can It Be All So Simple,” are the more serious tracks, bringing some great instrumental and hooks as well. The 36 Chambers just brings hit after hit, just an insanely impressive track record to start a music career with. There is not a single song that can be argued as not intelligently produced or as a subpar song. Each track brings a bumping instrumental and just some of the most rememberable verses to date.
Enter The 36 Chambers is just overall such an influential album that has the classic sound that everyone in the 90’s came to love. Even Generations later, Wu-Tang Clan is still a household name. If you mention Hip-
Hop, you must mention Wu-Tang Clan.