So It Goes, the debut album but second project from New York based collective Ratking. Three hip-hop engineers that make up the group, Wiki, Sporting Life, and Hak all use their street smarts and New York style to act as a congruent threat. The trio not only breaks down walls and barriers in music, but they make each song feel like a ceremony and a walk through New York’s busy but mostly lonesome streets.
So It Goes opens with “*,” a track that better explains Ratking’s musical direction and shows a better outlook into the producing ability from Sporting Life and both Wiki and Hak’s lyrical flow. Wiki opens the track spitting some bars about his future with Ratking and in life, “Graduated, what’s next? Everybody’s asking, what college you going to? What you have planned?” Wiki also delivers this “Dayyumm” which is the seguing motion into Hak’s first lines on So It Goes.
Hak floods the track with the bars “Dead man, one-man war. Teen years dead, bored to a snore.” Hak and Wiki’s verses are both explaining the future of Ratking, and how the two really got started in their younger years by rhyming. The beat produced by Sporting Life is a hard-hitting bass assault that continually changes over the course of the track. It also features a woman’s vocals that are highly distorted until the words sound like a million voices speaking at one time. This is going to be one of the highlights of So It Goes, the production not only sets the bar, but it crushes everything below it.
The next track, “Canal” is a busy, street-sprint that features booming 808 bass hits that seem to make the entire track rattle and bounce. The hi-hat trickles along with the beat and takes a back seat to the rest of the instrumental where a girl’s vocals can again be heard and what sounds like a crowd’s feverish chants. Wiki and Hak again trade blows on their verse and the entire track is a slug-fest, between the heavy-smacking instrumental to the lead filled verses.
The following, “Snow Beach” is a two-part track. The first or intro to the track is a dreamy, but still busy instrumental that features a boom-bap Eastern rap style that used both lyricists to repeat “20 degrees outside, toasted in the tunnel,” and “Chilling at the beach, Got sandals on my feet.” Then as the beat begins to take back the reigns, it leads into this outstanding instrumental that uses a snare crack and bumping bass. Wiki comes in and delivers some lyrics, “I used to shit on NYU kids, soused after dark.”
Then Hak and Wiki begin the hook where the lyrics “Every year another court date, every winter need a North Face for warmth sake on long days.” The ending of the track lets a saxophone played by Isaiah Barr, a fellow New Yorker, bleed out. His saxophone solo makes for one of the smoother ways to end a hip-hop song and is slightly reminiscent of a street performer who would be playing a saxophone until the late hours on the cold, winter streets of the sprawling city.
Following is “So Sick Stories, a track that features King Krule, an artist who was also featured on XL Recordings. Krule delivers the hook and is surprisingly one of the better sections of the track. Krule discusses a “Now do you see this? The way the grey controls only the souls that go to sleep to sink and dissolve. Are set adrift, in between the concrete and the mist. Just another inner city bliss.” Then after Krule delivers the opener, Wiki jumps in and delivers a verse that goes hand in hand with Krule’s hook. “My journals the, city it flows with the prettiest prose. Mixed with the gritty and gross.”
The instrumentation behind the lyrics uses different slamming bass pieces but also flutes and has an aspect of beauty to it. This also goes along with the hi-hats that vibrate and continually rattle throughout also add to the Beauty Vs. Ugliness that Ratking displays as a central theme of their music. They convey such a great amount of energy, but also make it seem effortless. They are artists that constantly blur the line between light and darkness, a beautiful landscape, and a desolate wasteland.
The next track is “Remove Ya” which uses police sirens and a sample from “The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy,” a YouTube video that explains exactly what happens if you are a “Fucking Mutt.” The track’s instrumental is rather loud and more of an in-your-face type of track that relies on Hak and Wiki’s quick bars to keep the momentum going. Wiki opens the track with the lines “I’m a mutt, you a mutt, yeah… we some mutts.” This then goes into Hak’s verse where he explains, “The boys in blue, never really liked ‘em…rubbed me rude.”
The outro of the track is the most impactful section of the track where a woman explains “N-Y-P-D, miny, moe, catch a black boy by his toe. Hang him, put him up for show. Take him down, keep up the role, Keep up the role. Oh, uncertain, who do you protect? I know it ain’t us, no, who are you serving? Who do you protect? You want to kill us.”
Ratking then moves onto the track “Eat,” a track that sounds more like a Sunday ride on the New York subway with all these different levels of distortion on vocals and a looping sound of a transit system. The track uses a similar style to “Snow Beach” but the instrumentation on “Eat” is more uplifting and feels more spiritual. Hak delivers the intro and the outro of “Eat,” a primarily lyrical journey that explains “Dropped out of high but remained a student. Not one for great speeches but I think I’ll say, unsown my mouth with words decayed. Knees sore walk off the pain, poets die and poems stray. No day at the beach hopefully.”
The self-titled track, “So It Goes” follows where Sporting Life, Wiki, and Hak all deliver one of their better group performances on So It Goes. The whole track is a multi-layered instrumental and lyrical driving track that features both lyricists destroying a beat that features some outrageously intense levels of energy. The whole song feels like being surrounded by New York’s busy city life, but still being able to focus on the finer beauty of the city itself. Hak explains “Eagles are our brothers, and flowers are our daughters,” only adding to the immense level of not just pride but also beauty for the place where Ratking resides.” The track then unfortunately ends but leads into an interesting experimental track that features one of the more interesting beats of So It Goes.
“Puerto Rican Judo” is a boom-bap New York beat that also features different off-beats and a dance style of tambourine that acts as the hi-hat of the track. At first glance, the track feels rather out of place, but after several listens, “Puerto Rican Judo” adds a new and different balance to the tracks. It makes the record feel more diverse and Wiki’s verse as well as Wavy Spice’s verses only add to the diversity that Ratking expresses in their music. Wiki and Spice go bar for bar and continually go off of each other’s chemistry creating this constant power struggle for the top of the track. “Puerto Rican Judo” then leads into “Protein” which is another banging track off So It Goes.
“Protein” is an instant jump into hot water from the track’s very frantic start. The beat is an indescribable run through the city streets of flashing lights and blasting noise. The hook of the track features Wiki rapping, “Protein hold me, against my will. I will get my time to kill, If I don’t get my thrill. My will’s to write a verse that’s ill enough to get you filled. Keep you strong, make sure you keep keeping on.” Then Hak delivers one of his strongest verses featuring bars about “Native nectar with the rats in the pen. Tokyo triggers, sans, gats and Benz, what teenage roughs ain’t got nut-nothing but a dream on the corner,” and “Teach ya what ya teacher didn’t taught ya. Didn’t learn to write in school.”
Following is the track “Bug Fights” which features the most booming bass of all the tracks on So It Goes. The instrumentation is the main centerfold of the track and takes total control from the lyricists as it constantly changes and adapts to their style. The vocal samples used along with the shifting hi-hat that switches up from triplets to sixteenth to then eighth notes only increases the varying level that Sporting Life displays as a producer.
The lyrical aspect of “Bug Fights” features a great outro from Wiki where he explains, “Don’t wear your honor like armor that shit will wear you down, don’t let what life taught you taunt you. Embrace it now, whether it’s drawing, recording, whatever makes you proud.” It was one of the better outros and even set of bars delivered from Wiki on So It Goes. The incredible level of energy that he brings to the verse only proves that he believes he was born to spit lyrics and destroy beats.
That leads So It Goes into the last of what it has to give, “Take” and “Cocoa ’88.” Take is an experimental style of track that relies on Salomon Faye to deliver the primary aspect of the verses while Hak and Wiki take a backseat and instead only act as hype men for the track. The track is interesting over all but unfortunately doesn’t feel as fleshed out or as well thought out as the other tracks present. The level of energy is there, but it just doesn’t feel like it was put to good use.
“Cocoa ‘88” however is another outstanding track that feels exactly like the rest of the tracks on So It Goes. This is not a terrible thing as the track follows the pattern of a powerful instrumental and even powerful verses that seemingly crush the beat. Wiki and Hak are some incredibly strong lyricists and are able to annihilate any time they come on a track. On “Cocoa ‘88” they trade verses and repeats the lines “Days work for days pay, smooth talkers find nothing to say. Days work for days pay, if wishes were horses beggars would sway. Days work for days pay, spit till there’s nothing left up in my brain. Days work for days pay, willing to listen not kick it for days.”
Ratking keeps the New York style and approaches So It Goes like they are going to war. The abrasive style and outright dangerous production and lyrical aspect of Ratking keeps New York always feeling fresh and overall interesting even as time continues on in the Big Apple.
What can be said that has not already been said about the hip-hop professors, A Tribe Called Quest have been able to establish themselves for well over 20 years in the musical community. The four original members, Q-Tip, Jarobi White, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and the late legend Phife Dawg. Able to provide a strong youthful voice in hip-hop music and acted as pillars in their community, providing both a reinforcement through expression and the freedom of the people of the world. Their music spoke in volumes, and their sixth and final album is a send-off to a now impossible to forget group of MC’s and producers that changed society through their art.
We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is a double LP that spans just barely over an hour in length, but the context and content inside this hour is a heartfelt journey that leaves any fan of both Tribe or hip-hop feeling satisfied. The opening track, “The Space Program,” opens with acapellic lyrics “It’s time to go left and not right, gotta get it together forever. Gotta get it together for brothers, gotta get it together for sisters, for mothers and fathers and dead niggas. For non-conformists, one hitter quitters, for Tyson types and Che figures.” This section of the chorus is sung by Q-Tip and Phife, both moving together and equally balancing out the phrases before gracefully landing into the first verse, which is delivered by Q-Tip.
The second that Q-Tip jumps onto the microphone, a wave of nostalgia washes over the listener. It is just like hearing The Low End Theory for the first time all over again. The quicker style that Q-Tip approaches to his verse, and the instrumental uses an electric piano and a thumping bass line. The percussion is a bouncing snare and bass combination that creates movement within the beat, keeping it fresh and “The Space Program” is an uplifting and conscious opening to an album that will discuss social issues, the past of the world, and what the future holds for mankind.
The following track, “We The People…,” opens with a synthesizer and a classic boom bap style of beat that Tribe Called Quest made so outstanding. Q-Tip opens this track, and delivers some thoughtful lyrics that borders upon the lines of spoken word and pure poetry. “Niggas in the hood living in a fishbowl, gentrify here, now it’s not a shit hole.” The chorus is also interesting as it displays the words, “All you Black folks, you must go. All you Mexicans, you must go. And all you poor folks, you must go. Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways. So all you bad folks, you must go.”
After the more synthetic style of track, “Whateva Will Be” follows and trails around a more funk style of music. It uses a vinyl record crackle and hiss to lay down the background noise of the track, while what sounds like an upright bass plays the groove of the track. There is also a vocal sample that is chopped and constantly phases in and out of the beat. Then when paired with Q-Tip, Jarobi, and guest artist Consequence, the lyric’s contain an outstanding blend.
Seguing after is “Solid Wall of Sound,” this track opens with a minimalistic bass and snare beat before slowing layering on record scratches, different keyed instruments, and a sampled from “Benny and The Jets” from none other than Elton John. The track also includes a feature from MC Busta Rhymes, who had worked with A Tribe Called Quest before on their past projects and his feature adds some rapid fire lines to the track that is primarily a slower style. Other guest MC, DJ Rasta Root explains on the track that,
“The one that stood out to me, one of the last sessions Phife did there, if not the last one, was him, Tip, Busta and they we recording a song, I believe it’s the one that has the Elton John sample. And Busta, his cadence is so robotically crazy. He was doing a verse over and he did it the exact same way.”
Following on the coat-tails of “Solid Wall of Sound” comes the track, “Dis Generation.” Opening with a vocal chant and a bravado like intro, the track then takes a sharp turn with an electric guitar that sounds dreamy and relies on a significant use of space. The track takes several different stages as the main verse feature the guitar and a thumping bass as well as a clap beat. The second transition follows into the chorus where different chords of both a piano and guitar are played together, creating harmonies and it lets the rest of the instrumental breathe while the percussion takes a backseat to the stringed instruments.
The lyrics help shed more light upon the changing level of music as an art form, primarily rap music. “Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole, gatekeepers of flow. They are extensions of instinctual soul.” Q-Tip gives a shout out to the “gatekeepers of flow,” explaining that rap music and music is not dead or struggling, the listener just needs to find out where to look for themselves.
“Kids” follows and is the first track that features a less than approachable beat and some sub-par verses. There were no lines that stuck out and this track feels like A Tribe Called Quest, but was just a little too challenging to find an interest in the beat and the semi-annoying near-announcement level that continually shouts “KIDS” throughout the track. It is passable as A Tribe Called Quest, but not on the level that the rest of the track from We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is from.
The following track however, is much easier on the ears and features one of the better verses from Q-Tip on We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. The instrumental is a slick guitar lick that continues over what sounds like a gunshot or some sort of percussive device as the snare line. “Melatonin” also features Abbey Smith who lays down an angelic style of chorus and background vocals and when paired with the more upbeat style of Q-Tip, it allows for one of the better combinations on the album. This is especially present when the two trade verses together and create this great use of letting the beat ride and the vocals intertwine. The lyrics, “So many thoughts in my mind, making it very hard to unwind,” still reigns as one of the better one liner-choruses on We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service.
Then comes the final track of the first disc, “Enough!!.” This is a smoother style of instrumental and it sounds straight out of a 90’s r ‘n b record. The organ like instrument is paired with a breakdown that moves the cymbal hits to a more rapid style. It also features singing from Q-Tip which is surprisingly able to stand on its own and add another level of depth to the already immensely diverse record. The track ends with the beat slowly becoming engulfed within itself, ending the first half of a new trip down memory lane.
The opening track to the second disc is Mobius, a piano and boom bap infused mix along with what sounds like a sitar that subtly strums in the background of the beat. Busta Rhymes has another feature on this track and his verse has some powerful bars that seem to flow effortlessly over the rather laid back instrumental. “I’m from a different cloth, we the oracles of the sounds. Skip town, hit ’em with impeccable pound.” These bars segue into the next track “Black Spasmodic” that features an outstanding hook from Consequence, and an even better verse from Phife Dawg.
The instrumental of “Black Spasmodic” is rather uplifting and relies on using piano harmonies and chords almost conflict with the verses featured on the track. Consequence opens the track by stating “They don’t make thugs of this caliber, who kept up the buzz the whole calendar. Used to sell drugs out the Challenger, Used to keep guns with the silencers.” Then Phife comes in with a killer verse stating “And how do you touch mic with flows uncertain? Speak game dry boy, that flow ain’t working. The track then ends with police sirens and Consequence’s verse being repeated until “The Killing Season” comes into frame.
Starting off with Talib Kweli delivering a powerful verse discussing his roots and how he is “bleeding through this mic, but they call it entertainment.” The track “The Killing Season” also features a hook/singing part from Kanye West where he repeats “They sold ya, sold ya, sold ya,” continuously and even ends the track in the same way. Before the track ends, the instrumental takes a beautiful turn it uses what sounds similar to a string ensemble where the rest of the beat has a much less aggressive style of percussion and lets the ensemble rule the main flow of the track.
Following is “Lost Somebody,” an outstanding track on every front. The frantic piano combined with the rattling bass line and the heartfelt lyrics about Phife who had passes only a few months before the release of We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. The entire track feels like a constant battle with denial, but rather than sulking and falling cemented in depression, Tribe brings more of an uplifting style of production along side with their slightly darker style of lyrics. The verses here are again speaking of how Phife is “he’s in sunshine, he’s alright now, see his wings.”
Then almost without missing a beat, “Movin’ Backwards” follows and again like the track “Dis Generation,” it uses an electric guitar that starts the song off. The bass paired with the quick and jumping instrumental makes for one of the better, and faster tracks of We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. There is also a breakdown that lets the guitar move down the fret board, almost taking a backseat to the Verse that comes from guest Anderson .Paak where he sings “They want to see my downfall, turn a good day into a downpour.” The beat continues to rock before falling into the next track.
A jazzy, and slightly shadowy instrumental floods in and is the start to “Conrad Tokyo.” This was another instantly great track and features none other than Kendrick Lamar for a nice bar and use of a chorus as well. Most of the features on We Got It From Here… Thank You For Your Service allows the artist to illustrate a chorus rather than a full verse and jumping into the next track. This was an intriguing way to handle the features and something that had never really been done before. The features might only say a quick 8 lines before handing the microphone right back to Q-Tip, Phife or Jarobi.
The second to last track, “Ego” is a double part track where the first half sounds like a much more claustrophobic example of “Excursions,” the second half is a rise in energy where the beat complete changes in a near bi-polar, split-second innovation. There are also some superior lyrics that act in contrast as well, “Some may hate it and some may overrate it. It’s a top story and you rarely see a trend, so all you psychoanalysts pull out your pad and pen.” Then Q-Tip goes on to say “Come up with an idea, and no one seems to get it. Then every time you mention it, they stare like you’re two-headed.”
The finale of We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is “The Donald.” A track that is another tribute to Phife as the chorus is all about Phife’s alter ego Don Juice. The entire track features bars about how much Phife will be missed in not just A Tribe Called Quest and their members, but in the community as a whole. Phife and Tribe Called Quest were able to change the world, inspire artists, and leave an everlasting mark on the world. Phife, The Five-Foot Assassin, Don Juice, Malik Taylor, all names he would be known by, the most common would be friend.
The Misfits, a group of teenagers who blended both the supernatural and artificial with an unmeasurable level of energy and punk music. Together, the combination seemed near heaven-sent, creating a new sub-genre of punk simply called “Horror Punk.”
The Misfits’ Static Age is an interesting breed of album. The original story of the album includes it being shelved for a number of years after no single record label was interested, multiple member shifts throughout the different stages of The Misfits, and one of the greatest punk records to ever be released finally in 1997.
The original recordings were done in 1978, the album would see multiple single releases that surfaced but nothing substantial until lead singer Glenn Danzig compiled the entire mixes of Static Age, wrapping them into a single package that was released in 1996. There were additional tapes found that led to the album finally coming to completion in 1997, 19 odd years of trials and tribulations that eventually paid off and came to a full stop.
Static Age begins with the self titled track “Static Age,” the track is a drum roll and scream filled match with a slick breakdown that slows the bulk of the track down for only a few moments before launching right back into the more frantic style that The Misfits would adopt and handle so well. Lead singer Danzig yells the lyrics “Static, Static, Static, We’re on a video rage,” the rage is simultaneously combined with the pounding ride cymbal hits from Mr. Jim and the blasting guitar from Franché Coma that seems to shake the airwaves themselves. The track then finds itself falling apart into this static pit before climbing back into the frantic manner with “TV Casualty.”
“TV Casualty” is where the lyrics of The Misfits begin to take the more horror style of punk that they were so well known for. Danzig sings the darker, more negative lyrics, “Hold on, I think I have to puke, there’s a spot in the corner where I always go. I like to feed the flies that I know.” The frantic yet depressed sound only amplifies with the use of television samples that end the track before fading into “Some Kinda Hate.”
This track slows the excitement down to let both bassist Jerry Only and guitarist Coma to take control. The percussion coming from Mr. Jim also adds to the change-ups that “Some Kinda Hate” has within its run time. The lyrics coming from Danzig are still rather horrific, explaining “Hear the cats cry, little tortured babies in pain. Cracked necks by settled limbs, they don’t hesitate.” Danzig also talks of “Maggots in the eye of love,” which is again unsettling.
Following is the track “Last Caress” which takes the action and ramps it right back up to energetic style that was heard before. This time Danzig makes some outstanding quotable lines, “Sweet lovely death, I am waiting for your breath. Come sweet death, one last caress.” This is one of the better lyrics featured on Static Age as it captures the spirit of The Misfits, a love and fascination with the end, or Death.
“Last Caress” also captures an uplifting sound on both this song, and the entire record of Static Age that creates a great duality within itself. The album combines horrid situations, pain and misery, and also a frantic and quicker style of play. The triple threat is The Misfits’ main formula and they have this massive amount of charisma about them. Static Age begs the listener to shout and play along as if the album is being heard for the first time all over again.
The following, “Return Of The Fly” is a callback to most obviously, Return of The Fly, The 1959 movie that featured none other than Vincent Price. The lyrics consist of mostly using the actors and actresses, plus the character names from the movie itself, “Return of The Fly, with Vincent Price…Helene Delambre, Helene Delambre, François, François. Cecile, Cecile, Cecile, Cecile.”
Then there is the famous track “We Are 138” and “Teenagers from Mars.” “We Are 138” was the first single released from Static Age and contained multiple tempo changes between breakdowns and constant speed increases. The track begins with a much simpler style of drum beat on the tom and snare before launching into what sounds like a feeding frenzy between the hi-hat and the guitar. It is chaotic, but ultimately entertaining to hear such an overwrought style of play being heard. “We Are 138” is what Jerry Only described as “ ’138’ is like people being treated as androids where you have a number instead of a name, so it’s like the human number would be a 138…”
The next track, “Teenagers From Mars” feels more like a punk ballad, the instrumentation all conspire together and are perfectly in sync between the crashing cymbals, the ripping guitar, or the buzzing bass that continuously echoes within the track’s background.
The track then leads into “Come Back” which is another outstanding track that begins with a simple drum beat before eventually building up with the strings to come into a raging collaboration with Danzig softly, almost speaking the lyrics “Come Back, little raven, and bite my face. I’ve been waiting, endless waiting. Come back and bite my face.” The Misfits then gradually pick up the pieces of the track where they start to play faster and faster, also rapidly changing up the tone of the track as well. “Come Back” ends almost abruptly and segues into the following “Angelfuck.”
“Angelfuck” is a track that ends almost as quickly as it begins, it follows some nice grooves from the bass and guitar and also features one of the heavier sounding percussion parts on Static Age. Coma changes up his style in “Angelfuck” so much that it is hard to comprehend exactly what is going on at certain parts of his set. His drums vary, and his quick fills add a swifter overcoat to the track.
“Hollywood Babylon” follows and becomes one of the more sing-a-long tracks of Static Age. It features a chorus that proudly chants “Hollywood Babylon” almost begging for people to join in backing up Danzig. Then “Attitude” trails behind and this feels like the third and final act of Static Age. It begins with “Attitude” which has an abrasive drum build up that launches into another feeding-frenzy between the drums and stringed instruments. It is a great energy releasing track that features more great lyrics, “Inside your fetal brain, there’s probably a whore. If you don’t shut your mouth, you’re gonna feel the floor.”
Then “Bullet” comes into frame, this is easily the fastest track on Static Age and it is also the most energetic as well. It takes no breaks as The Misfits instantly blast straight into a ravaging assault of instruments and lyrics. Danzig cries out “Texas is an outrage when your husband is dead, Texas is an outrage when they pick up his head. Texas is the reason that the President’s dead. This is an obvious reference to the 34th President, John F. Kennedy who was assassinated in the streets of Texas.
“Theme For A Jackal” follows and is a slower but still impactful track that speaks of “Stand(ing) idly by as they rape your children, Like you do now.” The lyrics are always a subject of controversy with The Misfits but the lyrics continue to add to the separating factor that they displayed. “Theme For A Jackal” is the first track to include the use of piano and it adds this dance like factor to the song. The “Dead Daughter in the river” lyric still reigns within this track and it seems that the entire band allows Danzig to take the center of attention when he sings this section of “Theme For A Jackal.”
Following is the track “She” which is another frantic assault on the ears. Surprisingly the lyrics do not focus primarily on death or destruction. The track takes more of a subtle approach to the lyrical style and “She” focuses more on the instrumentation. This is also true with the track “Spinal Remains.”
“Spinal Remains” goes back to a more horror-style of sound, but instead focuses on the instrumentation, primarily the stringed instruments. The guitar feels like the centerfold of this track as it casually moves between the fret-board during the second verse and the chorus. The chorus of the track is where the guitar shines through and almost seems to take total control of “Spinal Remains.”
Lastly, the track “In The Doorway” sends Static Age on its swan song. It is a chilled approach to a song, almost ending the record with more of a dust settle than a blaze of glory. It still features great use of the instruments coming together before finally succumbing to a deathly silence. Static Age speaks in volumes, creating waves in both punk music and society. Even 38 years later, Static Age still stands as a monument, or as Jerry Only himself said, “You’re listening to it almost twenty years later, and the thing still kicks ass.”
The Beatles, the rambunctious English band from the 1960’s that created a wave of Beatle-Mania, a frenzy that “swept up the youth of the world.” And Wu-Tang Clan, the comprehensive hip-hop group from New York that also spawned a wave of their own, gaining millions of fans all over the world may not be so different after all.
Producer and mastermind, Tom Caruana collectively combined both The Beatles and Wu-Tang Clan in a way that makes Wu-Tang acapellas and Beatles instrumentals form the foundation of Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers. Most would never think that “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard would ever match up so perfectly, or that “Come Together” and “Release Yo’ Delf” would be a possible combination. With Wu-Tang Vs. The Beatles, anything seems possible through music production and the possibilities are truly endless.
Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers is a 27-track record that includes multiple skits and different samples of interviews from both The Beatles and radio newscasts of the Wu-Tang clan.
Wu-Tang Vs. The Beatles feels like a nostalgic trip through the best of both artists. The classics like “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” are present for Wu-Tang, while everything under the sun is sampled from The Beatles. Everything from Magical Mystery Tour to Revolver to Help!.
This is an album that just has to be heard to be believed. It takes the best of The Beatles, the best of Wu-Tang Clan and just mashes the pieces together, creating one of the best project mash-ups in history. From start to finish, Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers allows you to experience two outstanding artists all over again.
A(lways).$(trive).A(nd).P(rosper) Mob is back again with another all star cast of both rappers and producers including A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast, A$AP Ant, A$AP Twelvyyy, KEY!, Tyler The Creator, Skepta, and even Playboy Carti. The varying mix of both producer and lyricist credits adds a great level of depth and variety to the overwhelming amount of outstanding sounds that A.$.A.P Mob brings forth.
Cozy Tapes: Volume 1 – Friends opens with the smash hit, “Yamborghini High.” A track that includes a small two-minute skit about just how far A.$.A.P Mob has come before launching into the booming bass, sports car samples, and a dreamy near gospel like production that allows Rocky, Ferg, Juicy J, A$AP Ant, and A$AP Nast to flow near effortlessly. The entire track feels like a call back to the past of A.$.A.P Mob and it only furthers that feeling with the use of the skit where they explain “Niggas ain’t cozy bruh. We been doing this shit, all of a sudden you see niggas out here, sweat-suited up, with they nappy-ass terry cloth and all that shit, they tryna’ look like the homies.”
Then as the bass begins to kick in, A$AP Rocky and Juicy J begin to deliver the chorus of the track “Yamborghini-high, Lambo by the crib. This is how it is, yeah, these niggas fake, no we can’t relate.” Nearly setting the tone for the rest of the record of how A.$.A.P. Mob will always do their own thing, and become unrelatable in a world full of imposters. The constant angelic background vocals that echo behind A.$.A.P Mob’s rather sinister sounding vocals are an interesting contrast. “Yamborghini High’s” beat is definitely one of the more uplifting moments of Cozy Tapes: Volume 1 and It involves a substantial beat change toward the tracks end that easily segues into the following, “Crazy Brazy.”
“Crazy Brazy” was released earlier as a teaser track for the Cozy Tapes, just like the previous track “Yamborghini High.” “Crazy Brazy” has a quick chorus delivered by Rocky before reaching into both Twelvyyy and Rocky’s verses. The chorus is actually a clever combination of both A$AP Rocky and KEY!, together the two trade verses about “[A$AP Rocky] I got a lot on my head, Gucci rag tied on my head. Put a red dot on your head, I put that guap on your head. Don’t be talking to me crazy. [KEY!] I got a lot on my mind, I put that guap on my mind, I got a lot on my mind, I put that nine to your mind. Don’t talk to me Brazy.
Once A$AP Rocky jumps into his verse, he explains how “They don’t play me on the station, press ’em like detonation.” An obvious reference to how A$AP Mob is not going to be played on the radio but it makes no difference, they will continue on and strive in other ways. The instrumentation uses a combative style beat that relies on 808 drums, some tapping hi-hats, and what sounds like a bouncing electric piano or some use of a synthesizer. It is complementary of A.$.A.P. Mob’s use of elegance and hardcore East Coast rap style that constantly conflicts, but always sounds so intriguing and unique.
The Next track, “Way Hii” features a plethora of different artists, BJ The Chicago Kid, LA based rapper Buddy, and Pittsburgh hero and native Wiz Khalifa all make public appearances. BJ The Chicago Kid delivers the chorus and a short barred verse, while Khalifa, Rocky, and Buddy deliver the primary verse of the track.
Rocky and Khalifa double team the floating and wavy beat, trading bars discussing “Niggas is talking, we living it though. Finna’ pull up in this bitch in my robe,” before letting The Chicago Kid finish the track off with the chorus “Getting hard to tell what the fuck I’m on. Every verse a half, every hook is on.”
The following track “Young Nigga Living” opens with A$AP Ant delivering some bars over a beat that sounds like it uses different distorted strings and a diverse hi-hat instrumental that constantly adapts to the feel of the verse. For the much faster sections of the track where A$AP Ant, Ferg, Twelvyyy are delivering quicker bars, the hi-hat speeds up into a rapid fire sound where the bass and snare cracks are put more towards the background. Twelvyyy delivers the chorus of the track where it also bleeds into the next track or skit, “Nasty’s World.”
The skit intertwined in “Nasty’s World” features the joking side where A.$.A.P. Mob clowns each other before having A$AP Nast completely destroy and control this track from start to finish. The track uses a string ensemble and this classic boom-bap beat that echoes the sound that New York practically originated and made famous.
Nast’s verse and the track “Nasty’s World” is actually one of the better tracks on Cozy Tapes: Volume 1, it features some great verses and lines “The pigs annoying like the sound of locusts, I style wild plus my rhymes the dopest. My squad the best, a bunch of lyrical soldiers, Just Roc-A-Fella, Hov-a-sclupture,” but also features a unique instrumental that taps into the classic sound of East Coast rap. It almost feels nostalgic and has a great sense of pride that trails behind the track.
Following is “Money Man,” it sounds similar to the track “Crazy Brazy” where the beat changes up from 808’s to a more classic style of bass in-between interludes. This is not to say that the track is not with its own personality as A$AP Rocky delivers a great closer of the track where he explains “Choose a side, suicide. You and I, crucified, you despise. I’m the best, you decide.”
The next track, “Put That On My Set” is actually another highlight of Cozy Tapes as it samples Willie Hutch’s “Brothers Gonna Work It Out.” The track is a slowdown where Rocky and Skepta trade verses and the whole track has a much darker tone than the other tracks off of Cozy Tapes: Volume 1 – Friends. A$AP Rocky delivers a line explaining his view on the world, “Understand, I’m a man tryna make it in a world of death.” Skepta also delivers a darker line “See the pain in my eyes I don’t wanna cry, put my life on the line… For my blood all the time.” The gorgeous beat mixed with the grim lines make for a constant uninviting feel throughout the track.
There is then the skit “Motivation Foreign” where a man and woman discuss going to London simply because they can. “London Town” then follows after the skit actually feels like it would have fit Skepta much better than “Put That On My Set.” This track sounds more synonymous with the United Kingdom Grime style that Skepta is well-known for. The low tuned buzzing basement sounding bass mixed with the quick snake like rattle of the hi-hat feels more suitable to artists like Kano, or Wiley rather than rappers from Harlem. But, surprisingly the track works quite well and is actually an impressive of mix of cultures from both London and New York.
The following track, “Runner” sounds rather similar to “London Town” and features Lil Uzi Vert where he controls most of the track, only letting A$AP Ant contribute to the second verse. The track is not immensely filling, but Uzi Vert does make the hook of the track feel more fun and energized. It feels like a club song, but nothing that is progressive.
“Bachelor” follows and this feels much more like a track by Future, or another artist that uses more of a “turn up” approach to their tracks. It also features Lil Yachty, who delivers the first verse of the track, but is ultimately short-lived. The later tracks on Cozy Tape: Volume 1 drastically change into more of a party bang style than the darker and less bravado like tracks of the first half.
The last track “Telephone Calls” features Tyler, The Creator, Playboy Carti, and Yung Gleesh. This instrumental is a strange mix of both 808 drums, acoustic sounding bass drums, and a near siren like sound that changes key to create a piano like instrument. The actual verses themselves are energetic and the chemistry between Rocky and Tyler, as well as the chemistry between Gleesh and Carti are just outstanding. They both bounce off of each other and create one of the more enticing tracks of Cozy Tape.
Cozy Tapes: Volume 1 – Friends is a substantial record coming from A.S.A.P. Mob. The way they use their energy, raw authentic motivation, and hustle like attitude conveys possibly one of the better records of this current year, and all around a gratifying way to pay tribute to the late A$AP YAMS.
Public Enemy’s most wanted, the multi-threat consisting of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X, DJ Lord, and Professor Griff made waves when connecting rap music to a community, bringing emotional and physical distress to the foreground of society. Public Enemy captured a unique funk/rock style into hip-hop music, blending both genre and social issues into one complete package.
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is the sophomore album from East Coast destroyers, Public Enemy. Starting off the record with “Countdown to Armageddon,” a track that begins as more of the opening scene to a film rather than a song, it uses blaring sirens and Professor Griff delivering lines about how “Armageddon had been in effect,” and how the “Revolution will not be televised.” Griff acts as a hype man before launching into “Bring The Noise,” a track where both Flavor Flav and Chuck D make their first appearance of the album.
Malcolm X actually begins “Bring The Noise” with a sample from his “Message to The Grassroots Speech,” where X explains “It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong.” Public Enemy samples instead where Malcolm X explains “Too Black…Too Strong.” Using Malcolm X’s strong words to begin the track and essentially the musical aspect of It Takes a Nation of Million to Hold Us Back showcases the strong political influence that Public Enemy displayed in their musical message.
“Bring The Noise” focuses on using different funk samples from James Brown, Funkadelic, and the “Soul Sister # 1” Marva Whitney. All together these samples create what sounds like a funk song created in the 90’s. It uses different drum rolls and a groovy bass line that continues to bounce the track between a shrieking amount of distorted horns and Flavor Flav continually backing Chuck D acting as the world’s greatest hype man.
The slick use of funk then perfectly cascades into “Don’t Believe The Hype,” a jamming track that uses a record scratch and more James Brown samples. The track “Synthetic Substitution” by Melvin Bliss makes up the drum beat, and Chuck D; The MC continues to aggressively control the direction of “Don’t Believe The Hype.” Chuck D has a powerful approach to his lyrics, explaining in one line that “The minute they see me, fear me. I’m the epitome of Public Enemy, Used, abused without clues. I refuse to blow a fuse, they even had it on the news.”
“Don’t Believe The Hype,” focuses more on the influence that rap music had during the 90’s and its continued focus throughout history to follow. Chuck D explains that following hype and trends will only lead to the demise of the followers. The next track, “Cold Lampin’ With Flavor” focuses more on Flavor Flav’s rapping aspect of Public Enemy. Flav uses his audacious attitude to begin the track with some of the more personal verses about how he can “Take the dopest beat and rock it,” and how his “Clock on my chest proves I don’t fess.” The constant combative style of Chuck D, mixed with the more amusing and uplifting sound of Flavor Flav creates an even balance within It Takes a Nation of Million to Hold Us Back.
The following, “Terminator X to The Edge of Panic” makes an interesting use of “Flash’s Theme” from Flash Gordon movie made famously by the prolific rock group Queen. It also contains some substantial bars asking “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy,” and how there is “No Peace to reach, that’s why he is packing his black piece.” It uses interesting wordplay and an anti-establishment style that Public Enemy was made famous for using. The group was more about moving a message among the people rather than making money or obtaining fame. The group was for the betterment of a society, not personal gain.
Chuck D once explained,
“Rap is supposed to be about keeping it real and not relinquishing your roots in the community. Without that, it’s just posturing. Somebody who claims to speak for the hood don’t need no private jet.”
He also explained why he was so anti-establishment,
“Government and culture are two diametrically opposed forces. The one blinds and oppresses, the other uplifts and unites.”
This was what Public Enemy based its roots upon, every track on It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back focuses on either government or societal issues.
The track “Mind Terrorist” is only simply an instrumental, but the following track, “Louder Than a Bomb” immediately launches into speaking about why Chuck D is on file, “Cause I give you what you lack, come right and exact Our status is the saddest so I care where you at, black.” “Louder Than a Bomb” also focuses more on the instrumental side of using more funk samples of different artists like Kool & The Gang and The Fantastic Five, but also using American Hard Rock Band Mountain’s hit “Long Red.” The constant blending of sampling is just one of the ways that Public Enemy continues to change their style both through the tone and musical approach.
“Caught, Can We Get a Witness” follows and uses an outstanding sample of James Brown’s live tape “Soul Power.” It makes the track feel like a 1970’s police chase or something that would be used in a jungle style of music. The electric guitar used and the authentic drums mixed with Chuck D, Professor Griff, and Flavor Flav on the microphones continue to impress on a production aspect. The lyrical aspect is also impressive as Chuck D delivers some lines pertaining to the performers of Chuck’s time, “You singers are spineless, as you sing your senseless songs to the mindless.”
Following is “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got,” which is more of a slow down from the constant rushed tempo of most of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The sample used is a dreamy saxophone and while the track has no real lines or bars, it instead uses different samples pertaining to Black Leaders like Nelson Mandela, Marcus Garvey, Adam Clayton Powell, and even the heavier hitters of the civil rights leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks.
The next track, “She Watch Channel Zero?!” uses a Slayer sample from the track “Angel of Death” and a sample from James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” which is a track that is constantly sampled all over It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.
“Night of The Living Baseheads” trails behind and uses a sample of Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhammad who later served as a member of the Black Panther Party, describing “Have you forgotten that once we were brought here, we were robbed of our name, robbed of our language. We lost our religion, our culture, our god…and many of us, by the way we act, we even lost our minds.” This track uses distorted horns to lay down the framework of the instrumental, it also uses “Scorpio” by Dennis Coffey and The Detroit Guitar Band for the percussion aspect of the track. There is also a sample of David Bowie’s “Fame” that acts as a small interlude into the rest of the beat.
Then the track “Black Steel in The Hour of Chaos” follows and decides to use the opening line, “I got a letter from the government the other day I opened and read it, it said they were suckers.” Still one of the more clever ways to start a track off, and the execution behind Chuck D’s voice is outstanding. This track is slower, but still the powerful use of thumping bass and bouncing piano keeps the instrumental feeling weighted and impactful. Chuck D shares on the experiences of going and sitting in a prison cell, “They got me rotting in the time that I’m serving.”
“Security of The First World” is another instrumental track, but it comes right before one of the highlight tracks of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, “Rebel Without a Pause.” It features a sample “I Don’t Know What This World is Coming to,” by The Soul Children before launching into one of the more frantic boom-bap tracks of the record. Chuck D delivers a great complementary assault of lyrics along with the instrumentation. D also throws down some lines about the other members of Public Enemy, “Flavor, a rebel in his own mind. Supporter of my rhyme, designed to scatter a line of suckers who claim I do crime.”
The last two tracks, both “Prophets of Rage,” and “Party for Your Right to Fight” focus on the political and anti-establishment style that Public Enemy made famous. Party for Your Right to Fight” sounds more like a dance or a club track than anything. It is obviously a reference to the Beastie Boys track “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right to Party.” It is also where the term “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” is coined.
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back will always be looked as a monumental piece in American Protest History. Public Enemy will continually shake the Earth, influencing both young and old; allowing everyone to band together and create a nation of millions.
The Body is a two-piece sludge/noise/metal band that formed in Providence, Rhode Island. Comprised of guitarist and vocalist Chip King, and drummer/programmer Lee Buford. The body has worked with many additional artists, spanning from Full of Hell, Thou, Krieg, and a plethora of different genre breaking artists that are able to constantly change the mold of The Body’s sound.
No One Deserves Happiness is the band’s attempt to make “The grossest pop album of all time.” The Body while having many different labels, pop music is most certainly not one that jumps into a listener’s head as the screaming vocals, muddy background instrumentation, and the very layered and busy production aspect of things keeps No One Deserves Happiness feeling like everything but a pop album. The Body achieves the sound of a metallic noise duo more than anything, continuing to shatter the Earth with every bass note, every drum smack, and every blood-curdling screech that lurks around every corner.
“Wanderings” is the start up track, the prime example of how The Body can combine both beauty and disgust into one sound. The angelic vocals from Chrissy Wolpert allow for the song to have a gentle build up with a quiet drum beat and dramatic trombone, before launching into the punishing noise from cymbals crashing and King’s outrageous background vocals that almost overpower the rest of the track. King’s vocals are unique in the aspect of taking a high-pitched approach where they constantly sound like he is in immense pain when singing. “Wanderings” then ends with the Wolpert’s angelic vocals being swallowed by the rest of The Body’s dominant levels, before returning to the quiet drum beat that began the track in the same way.
The following track, “Shelter Is Illusory” uses mighty tom drum hits to begin the groundwork. Then as King’s vocals begin to reign in the background, the track starts to use dramatic guitar strums that build up alongside the drums. This creates a synthetic and authentic feel to the track. It uses a wide-variety of instruments to keep the complex sound, but simple style fresh and unique to any other release of the time. No One Deserves Happiness’s unique sound can be a result of this “synthetic and authentic sound.”
The track “For You” is instantly a noise-ridden mess of atmospheric, horror-movie like sounds that uses static to convey this scrambled confusion within the song. There are distant screams heard, most likely from King as he only adds to this confusion and scrambled nature with the sound of his voice seemingly coming from nowhere. Buford also seems to come out of thin air with these rapid snare hits that are so hidden within the scrambling static that it is almost difficult to even hear them being played. “For You” then jumps right into the next track with no hesitation, a leap into the great unknown that is “Hallow / Hollow.”
“Hallow / Hollow” relies strictly on the doom-metal sound that The Body had first started with on their previous releases. The Body uses pounding percussion that feels almost crushing under the weight when paired with loud synth chords that flood the track as well. The track almost seems to use a piano but it is unclear as the surrounding instruments are so loud that it is difficult to hear anything besides the very abrasive percussion. King’s vocals also make an appearance and in this track they match well with the riotous sounds of the rest of the instruments. The lyrics “Meaning nothing, Whispering, shrieking into a void,” are synonymous with King’s style of singing. The loud, shrieks are an acquired taste, King’s vocals will not comply with everyone’s ear, but it will resonate and be remembered. “Hallow / Hollow” ends with a chorus chanting before succumbing to the darkness that No One Deserves Happiness dwells on.
“Two Snakes” follows and is one of the quicker paced tracks on No One Deserves Happiness. It uses an 808 bass line, a choir, growling screeches from King, and pounding percussion from Buford that punishes the ears of the listener. The rising synths that create this claustrophobic feel to the track felt pivotal in the way “Two Snakes” plays out, it feels constricting and near-dominant in that sense. “Two Snakes” sounds like a constant fire that rages from the second it starts to the last seconds of its length, the bass line resonates through the entire track only being added onto and using more instrumentation to further layer the track.
“Adamah” is an example of that constant layering and changing dynamic of sound coming from The Body. “Adamah” begins with a crunching percussion and rattling synth build up before launching into using more background vocals that use the lyrics “Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it Rain, On this scorched Earth,” is actually one of the more beautiful sections of No One Deserves Happiness. It relates back to Wolpert’s vocals on “Wanderings,” beautiful sounding, but ultimately daunting in the end.
“Starving Deserter” then follows and sounds closer to “Hallow / Hollow” with the doom-metal style and the rigorous weight attached to the drums and vocals. This track also uses a clock tower bell that rings continuously in the song’s second half, almost leading the track down a grim descent into a bottomless pit. It adds another layer into the already morose style from The Body, then paired with both King’s and a choir’s vocals, it is a horrendous pair matched only in Hell. “Starving Deserter” then follows the choir and Buford into a rising static synth lead, nearly being swallowed up by the noise.
The next track, “The Fall and the Guilt” completely changes up the tone of No One Deserves Happiness. It is still a depressing style of track, but it instead focuses on an intimidating, but pleasing piano and vocal combination. It feels as though there is a beauty behind all of the suffering that The Body displays. While immensely terrifying at most points, The Body and No One Deserves Happiness is able to portray a symbol of light at certain moments. While these moments are short, and the negative significantly outweighs the positive, it is still a wonderful productive masterpiece that displays both misery, and pleasure.
The following, “Prescience” goes back to the path of misery and an impending doom. The track uses the drums, and a shadowy guitar that echoes slowly and creates the atmosphere, pointing in a downfall. There is a sample used, where a reading of the book Suicide is collected. The reading explains
“Your taste for literature did not come from your father, who read little, but from your mother, who taught it. You wondered how, begins so different, they could have formed a union; but you noted that in you there was a mixture of the violence of the one and the gentleness of the other. Your father exerted his violence on others. Your mother was sympathetic to the suffering of others. One day you directed the violence you had inherited toward yourself. You dished it out like your father and you took it like your mother” (Edouard Lev – Suicide).
Painting the immensely bleak picture, using suicide as a subject matter, and ending the track with the static is just another method behind the madness of The Body.
The final track, “The Myth Arc,” uses more pounding metallic percussion, a guitar that seemingly echoes on forever, and Wolpert’s vocals stating “I will find you.” The angelic singing, paired with the atmospheric destruction is something that only The Body could make sound perfect. The Body uses two entirely different tones of music, blends them together and creates scenes with their sound. The track relies heavily on Wolpert’s vocals and the crushing static that follows throughout most of No One Deserves Happiness before finally coming to an inaudible deathly silence.
This is a slideshow that you can see… With your eyes… This is my adventure in a brand new city while I went to see one of my favorite bands ever. This is something totally different, but the usual schedule will presume with my three times a week dump of reviews/showcases. Thanks for listening, reading, watching me, and growing with me you rats.
P.S. – Shout out to Coolio, Lee said you’re weak and got jumped by juggalos. Also thanks to the kids that I hung out with before the show, you guys made my experience in Philly even tighter… TRASH TALK COLLECTIVE…ANTWON…HEIR DASH…BLACKXNOISE… IT WAS TIGHT AND ANYONE WHO DIDN’T GO MISSED OUT BIG TIME.
Mad Season, the prolific super group consisting of Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, and John Baker Saunders from The Walkabouts. Together, Mad Season combined their grunge roots and Seattle style to collaborate on a piece of American rock and roll history.
Using Staley’s iconic voice, McCready’s slithering style on guitar, Baker’s smooth bass lines, and Martin’s rapid drum work, the match was seemingly made in heaven. Mad Season began as an underground style of work, and McCready despite not having any songs prepared, scheduled a show for Mad Season at the Crocodile Café. Most surprisingly, the show was a huge success and one of the 12 tracks would emerge from this show, “Artificial Red” would appear on the album as a lead into one of the slower tracks of Above.
Above opens with “Wake Up,” a slow crawl of a track that eventually builds up into a full scale emotional battle between Staley and the instrumentalists. Baker starts the track off with a bass line that continues to buzz through the entirety of the track, this bass line and Staley also end the track and it feels almost melancholy. The entire song, even at its most climatic point has such a dark overtone and Staley’s lyrics nearly overshadow the rest of the track.
Staley calmly explains, “For all the times you let them bleed you,” and with additional lyrics contributing “Slow suicide is no way to go,” and “The cracks and lines from where you gave up,” are going to paint these extremely bleak images in a person’s head. Staley’s lyrics where almost always full of self-deprecation or misery, in Mad Season, Staley continues on this theme and this works in complement to the instrumentals.
“Wake Up” is an extremely slow and melodic constructing track. The opening is this somber walk with the bass and guitar playing eerily, to the point where it is near silent. Then as Martin’s percussion and Staley come in, the track eagerly picks up speed before coming back to the daunting sounds it first presented.
Following is the track “X-Ray Mind.” This song speeds up the momentum on the record, beginning with a gradual drum roll that launches into a full-out electric guitar and bass melody that work in tandem with Layne’s voice. “X-Ray Mind” is the first track that resembles more of the “Pearl Jam mixed with Alice in Chains” sound that Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described so well. The use of the powerful percussion work from Martin and Staley’s voice represent the Alice in Chains aspect, while McCready’s flashy guitar work and Baker’s smooth bass line’s better represent the Pearl Jam side of things.
Trailing right behind is “River Of Deceit,” one of the bigger commercially released tracks off of Above. This track focuses more on McCready’s guitar work as the bigger, more fleshed-out sound. Mad Season seems to focus themselves more around his guitar, almost building off of it, rather than competing with it. Staley’s voice is still a pivotal point on this track and for the rest of Above, but this is a specific track where another band member takes the ropes and allows the other instrumentalists to take a backseat.
“River Of Deceit” features a melodic style of approach where rather than going for the classic rock style, this takes more a relaxed method. The sound is accompanied by these great chords that continue through most of the track, laying the ground work for the other instrumentalists to follow behind. Baker plays a slightly different groove than McCready and they again complement each other rather than compete against each other. This whole track feels like a balance, rather than trying to challenge, they simply build each other up.
Next is the track “I’m Above,” a slow rock song that uses vocals from Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees. Together both Lanegan and Staley go on a back and forth near conversation that works as a wonderful complement to the already outstanding backing instruments. The track then picks up power with Martin playing a volley of snare hits and launching into one of the quicker segment of the track with Lanegan and Stanley shouting “I’m Above, over you I’m standing above.”
This is one of the few tracks where Lanegan provides backing vocals for Mad Season, and the contrast between his gruffer style of singing and Staley’s higher melodic style of singing is the perfect parallel that together just performs outstandingly well. They are the focal point of the track, bringing in tranquility, and despair simultaneously.
The track “Artificial Red” follows and is one of the more lumbering songs on Above. It is still impactful, giving off a powerful impression from the blues style of guitar and the pounding drums that Martin is so well known for. Baker plays this shambling bass line that never picks up too much even when the rest of Mad Season is moving much faster.
Baker takes a chilled approached to his bass work, and it is a significant piece of every track. The sections where his bass shines through can live on their own within the tracks and are great additions every single time. “Artificial Red” is more a blues ensemble than a rock and roll track.
“Lifeless Dead” follows and features Staley on rhythm guitar. This is one of the more upbeat songs on Above, features harmonies and melodies between the instruments and vocal performance by Staley. Even as the tracks title suggests, “Lifeless Dead” is actually one of the livelier tracks, it adapts a new persona for Mad Season instead of the usual slower style of play that most of Above is accustom to.
Hearing the full band kick into overdrive, allowing Staley to gracefully shout over the wonderful arrangements of Martin’s drum fills and crashing cymbal work, to McCready’s impressive solo, the entire song is an excellent ride.
Carrying off of “Lifeless Dead’s” momentum, “I Don’t Know Anything” is a gritty guitar focused track that runs parallel to Staley’s bleak style of writing. Together, the two complement each other so well and create such great chemistry. Baker and Martin are also strong presences with Martin giving great percussive hits on what sounds like sheets of metal over McCready’s guitar solo, and Baker delivering a downright dirty bass rhythm throughout the track.
Mad Season takes a slower approach to most of their tracks on Above, but this is done stylistically as a progressive movement. The slower approach still keeps the same level of intensity and sounds like a darker version of Alice in Chains or a more experimental Pearl Jam. The way these artists collaborated together and formed one higher entity is just outstanding.
Mark Lanegan then returns to display another great complementary piece with Staley as the two work together to form “Long Gone Day.” This uses different ethnic percussion instruments from Martin like bongo’s and what sounds like rain sticks or maracas. This track also features an amazing saxophone from Eric Walton, better known as Sherik. His saxophone is one of the highlights of the track as it begins subtly until finally taking over the entire song. It comes in section, but seems to paint the entire mood of the track, almost changing the genre of Above entirely. There are also what sounds like a marimba being used as a backing instrument and it gives this desert rock vibe off, the entire track is a multi-genre, multi-layered masterpiece.
The lyrics of “Long Gone Day” are also shining points as Staley and Lanegan deliver some chilling lines describing “So much blood I’m starting to drown,” and “I fear again, like then, I’ve lost my way. And shout to God to bring my sunny day.” Both incredibly strong lyricists like Lanegan and Staley were able to create these morose scenarios that continue to echo even 21 years later.
“November Hotel” follows and this is the longest track on Above. The long run time adds to the tension that is presented at the song’s beginning, to the then blasting instruments that kick in around halfway through the track. It starts with McCready’s shallow and light hearted guitar to Martin very slowly launching the percussion into a pounding assault which the rest of the band seamlessly follows into. The gradual build up makes the track’s frantic ending even more worthwhile, and even as Above does not always feel guided or set on an objective, it feels like an outstanding jam album that can be repeated over and over again.
The sound focuses more on being experimental and using more resources than a usual release by any of the members’ former bands. The very noisy guitar that McCready plays with on “November Hotel” is a perfect example of just how experimental the band become as time progressed. Interestingly enough, even as the music was recorded in just about seven days, it was still an immense exploratory piece at best.
Following is “All Alone,” a track that uses more of McCready’s dreamscape guitar work, and Martin’s bongos again. The track also features Staley delivering a reverbed spacious approach to the vocals that keeps the theme of the experimental aspect. “All Alone” is a much different track than the rest of Above, but this is most certainly not a bad thing. The constant experimentation keeps the record feeling fresh and no one sound ever feeling like it is repeated. “All Alone” is the final track on Mad Season, and when the silence creeps back in on the listener, Above begs to be played again.
Woods is an American Folk Rock Band that has an impressive and engrossing résumé spanning over the course of nine different albums, and two studio records. Woods is from Brooklyn and is now formed with singer and guitar-player Jeremy Earl, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jarvis Taveniere, and the drummer Aaron Neveu.
Their newest album City Sun Eater in the River of Light is the “Woods you recognize,” but this time they are taking a fresh twist on their musical entry. The group is now experimenting with different types of Ethiopian Jazz, and using lots of primal sounding background drums, with popping horns, and a chilled approach to the vocals that represents a desert drive going nowhere. That is not to say that the album is without direction, but the echoed and near wondrous vocals leaves a six in the morning feel. There are songs on this album that sound tired, but not in a bad way. It captures the freedom of the open road and allows the listener to be put into a whole new horizon.
Woods does an amazing job with the production, City Sun Eater in the River of Light has this whole connotation on the drums, they bring so much to the table with the quick and lucid fills. It was actually most surprising to see the use of maracas and dreamscape sounding guitar that left me wondering, “How did he make that sound like this?” City Sun Eater in the River of Light is musically and fundamentally an astounding album.
Woods brings a calmer tone that paints an image of a sunset drive or a relaxing night in the desert. City Sun Eater in the River of Light is really an album about relaxation and the peace in life. The mixture of outstanding musical sound gives way to dreamy guitar, sleepy vocals, and tight percussion that brings the mind toward a night at the beach in California, with the waves gathering up, and the sun just beginning to rise as well.
This is a much shorter showcase and Wednesday will most likely also be much shorter as I am leaving to go see Trash Talk, Black Noise and, Antwon play in Philadelphia. I will most likely post some pictures and this will be my first “blog” style post that isn’t just a discussion on music… But it is still a musical topic so I figured this would be a great platform to post it on anyway.
I will only be gone for a day or so… but expect some more bullshit on Friday about an album I have been pushing back for a few weeks now. Also it might be a double review again… I’m the hardest working person you know, and no one cares yada yada yada… Anyway wish me luck and I hope I don’t get stabbed in my face, hope all is well and I sold all my t-shirts so thank you. Yes, even the person who took my shirt and spit on it… thank you <3 I’m leaving now… Also Halloween is Monday… The same day you will read this… I might even listen to Riff-Raff for friday… Who knows! it’s a crazy swamp we live in, but I doubt it.. Peace in the Middle East, Love you, and goodnight <3
The Black Void, a vast array of nothingness that continuously spans over centuries of time. The Void that stares back at you, the Void that sees through the soul and pierces into the deepest sector of your psyche. Adrian Younge is ready to explore the pits of the human body, the emotions, the failure, and ultimately the complication that is human beings.
The Electronique Void is a primarily synthetic work of art that challenges the thinking’s of man. The opening track, “Black Noise Interlude” begins with a rippling synth and a dominant voice describing St. Elmo’s Fire, the power of electricity and magnetism, and “Tesla’s warning to Edison, entailing “Beware the Black Noise.” The “Black Noise” is often referred to as silent noise. opposite to white noise, it allows the listener to hear nothing and eventually fall into a descent of madness.
The following track, “The Night” is a crunchy sounding synth ballad that acts as a tribute to the glory days of the 80’s. It has no lyrics, and The Electonique Void focuses primarily on the music of Younge. “The Night” is a creeping track, that follows a minimalistic approach to the percussion. The simple 1-2 step between the bass and the snare hits keeps a steady near hypnotic march. The synths that then follow behind and add almost horror-like elements to an already eerie track was outstanding. It feels like this track could reside in an old Hammer Horror film, with the gothic scenery and the way the synths keep a slow but rising tone.
“Fly Away” is the next track and it is seamlessly blended from “The Night.” “Fly Away” has more of an uplifting tone and the center of focus is still on the synth leads that take the place of horns and different stringed instruments. The way Younge used synthesizers to control the tracks and constantly changes up the sound from track to track was a substantial way to keep The Electronique Void feelings fresh and unpredictable at every turn.
“Systems” follows and this is in similar sound to the previous track “The Night.” This synthetic crawl of a track uses a rattling hi-hat, riveting synth work, and ultimately, a warping overlay that continues to echo throughout the track. Younge then finishes the track by letting the sound fade from every instrument and then launching into the next song.
“The Concept of Love” begins with what sounds like warped static before eventually becoming an assault of bass and ear-piercing synths. The white noise continues through most of the track, fading in-between the track’s foreground and background. “The Concept of Love” goes through several stages where the track feels lucid through the whole near 6 minutes. It traverses ear piercing instrumentals, to a bass focused section, before finally coming to a close with a strange near Morse code style of bouncing synths before succumbing to silence.
The Electronique Void then comes to “Voltage Controlled Orgasms,” a track that uses a boom-bap, near disco style of instrumental. The only difference here is that the instruments are much more artificial sounding, and the track contains these rising synths that build to the anticipation of the climatic ending. The ending of this track is a frantic wail of machines that cascades and has this great amount of flow about it. The instruments slowly fade out into silence, leading into “Linguistics.”
“Linguistics” is a rather short track that uses the same spoken narrator from “Black Noise Interlude.” Both tracks are the shortest works on The Electronique Void, only lasting 45 seconds each, but they still add an additional element to the record as well. They act as breathe to the tracks, instead of being simply filler on the release, they make each song stand out that much more.
The track that follows, “Black Noise” is a rather familiar sounding track that uses similar elements of “Systems” and “The Night.” While “Black Noise” is related, it still has elements that differentiate the track from its predecessors. The use of vocalization and a more authentic sounding drum kits allows for the track to feel more human-esque. The random lightning bolts of synth chords that flash in the background, and the warped sounding synths again add to the tracks mood, making it feel like more of a journey than an actual song.
“Patterns” is then segued into and the flow is instantly slowed down to a near halt. “Patterns” starts with a low tuned frequency bass that resembles an 808. The narrator returns and acts as the primary moving force behind the track. “Patterns” resembles something along the lines of Clipping.’s Splendor and Misery with these gigantic, synthetic space sounding instrumentals that reign through background. Rather than focusing on the vocalization like Clipping., Adrian Younge makes the instruments the star of his show. The track then falls into this second half where it becomes rather minimalistic and eventually like the other tracks, fades into a crushed silence.
The last track “Suicidal Love” uses a snare beat and a rising bass line that slowly changes pitch and becomes this high pitched machine that echoes through the track. It then launches into a beautiful instrumental that uses imitation horns and these subtle sirens that give the rest of the track more depth and an additional layer to the track. The narrator returns and ends the track with the quote “Everything and Nothing exactly at the same time.” The reoccurring silence comes back, and Younge leaves the listener back in the Darkness.
Trash Talk, The Sacramento Hardcore Punk band is back and as rugged as ever. The destructive four-piece movement brings Tangle EP to the table, a follow up to their 2014 release No Peace.
Tangle EP is a quick 11-minute, 5 track EP that combines Trash Talk’s iconic hardcore sound that so many remember, and some new elements that keeps every release feeling fresh and unique. As Tangle EP kicks off into the thrash fest of a first track, “Disconnected” is an instant hardcore anthem. The guitar screech that starts the track off, to the then explosive opening where the full line of instruments and vocals come in with a wall of sound, instantly sets the mood for Tangle EP. Every track is a bombastic ride through these breakneck guitar riffs and drum rolls that continually shake the listener.
“Disconnected” is a great opener to the EP, and it allows the band to get in and become abrasive with the audience. It pulls no punches in a literal sense, and is one of Trash Talk’s better produced sounding tracks and EP’s overall. The band continues to evolve and change, while still keeping a consistent level of tenacity and strength that is always present in every release. As “Disconnected” kicks off, it changes up into a “chorus” where vocalist Lee Spielman can take control and let the rest of the band take a backseat.
This is not the case on all tracks however as Spielman actually tends to ride shotgun when compared to the instrumentalists and even other vocalist, Spencer Pollard. Pollard seems to be used much more frequently than in past releases and while he was still a monumental part of Trash Talk’s puzzle, he seems to be more at the forefront with Tangle EP.
The following track “Mr. Nobody” starts with drum rolls from Joey Castillo and it is a fantastic way to get the action started. “Mr. Nobody” feels similar to “Disconnected” as they are both frantic, head-banging, movement focused tracks that have choruses where the entire band joins in to shout the lyrics. It has these great lyrics stating “Nobody cares or knows what we do in secret.” Trash Talk has always had interesting lyrics and have always discussed society and its roles on daily life, “Mr. Nobody” is no different and has an outstanding flow into the next track.
“Constrictor” feels like a classic hardcore-punk song in the making. It uses Castillo and Garrett Stevenson on guitar to have these conflicting solo works. The percussion has a great amount of weight attached to it, the drums are tuned lower and the crashing cymbals continue to rattle the Earth.
Stevenson uses his guitar to cascade these chords and riffs around. Almost like a leader in the track, he commands the rest of the band with his solo breakdowns and directs the track into the second half. This is where Trash Talk slows down the action and lets Spielman take the center of the attention. Spielman gives everything his voice can project in this breakdown, shouting “All I know is everything, Can’t tell me anything at all.” The track then launches back into its previous riffs and pounding percussion before finally coming to a silence.
The following track “Feen” is a quick Minor-Threat esc sounding track that only lasts a single minute, but brings enough power and brawn to survive on its own. This is the most aggressive of all the tracks on Tangle EP and the short run time adds to its abrasiveness. It gets in, destroys the set, and then leaves the ashes for the next track, “Soothe Sayer”
“Soothe Sayer” is another track that begins with flames, the guitar and percussion really carries this song and using Pollard and Spielman on vocals lets this track become even more aggressive. “Soothe Sayer” is a person who was able to see or witness the future, and this track is a look into the future of Trash Talk and how their sound will continually resonate within the punk community. As the heavy-hitters, the aggressive artists, and the powerful punks, Trash Talk lives on as a testament to just how much fun 11 minutes can really be.
Choking Victim is the New York hardcore punk/ska band that took a less serious approach to their lyrical style, but an intense approach to their music. Their music combines all the quick and rapid movements of hardcore music, the gentle swinging Caribbean sounds of reggae music, and a blast from one of the most Anti-American sounding group of youths. Together, Choking Victim explains the power struggle in America, the foreign policy of America, and how the population is really a choking victim at ropes end.
No Gods / No Managers begins with “500 Channels,” a track that blends ripping bass lines and an urgent tempo. Choking Victim is able to fly through the chorus, riffs, and grooves with seamless ease. Their whole attitude and anger toward “Never being bullied into a corner,” and being able to
“Live above the fucking law,” gives off this outstanding message of anarchy and opposing everything that you are taught. Choking Victim also displays some more of the comedic lyrics that the band was known for, “And when there is no hope, I smoke some crack, I’ll shoot some dope.” It takes several listens to really take in everything that Scott “STZA” Sturgeon is practically shouting over the rest of the band.
The following track “In Hell,” is a rapid fire rush that sounds more like a punk song than anything. The percussion played by Skwert is a cranked up offensive of drum rolls and crashing cymbals. “In Hell” takes no breaks from the action and the entire track has this rushed feeling. This could also be said for the majority of the near 42-minute ska adventure.
“Crack Rock Steady” trails behind and is one of the more “radio-friendly” sounding tracks with an almost faster reggae instrumental and what resembles kettle drums. The rest of the track is a feel-good journey with lyrics like “Are you ready to stop the rotten blue menace? Let’s go kill us a cop,” and “It doesn’t matter the color of your skin. As long as you are not scandalous, commit no sin to me, or my tribe.” No Gods / No Managers is more of a discussion on grouping together to realize the injustice in the world and grouping together to come to one common goal.
Choking Victim’s goal could be laid inside the track “Suicide (A Better Way).” The track opens with a slick bassline before launching into another sprint of an instrumental with cascading guitar from both STZA and Erza Kire, vocals and screams from bass player Shayne Webb, and Skwert’s agitated drum fills. The track feels like a lightning bolt full of energy and perfectly leads into the next track, “In My Grave.”
This track again follows the quick ska style but eventually launches into these single instrument breakdowns where the individual instrumentalists can really breakthrough and shine. Skwert begins the first breakdown and he seems to play the drums like a lead instrument. He keeps the flow of the track and is able to keep everything progressively engaging and interesting for the listener. Choking Victim uses his talent as a way to push the tempo and keep the instrumentals feeling powerful and primarily rushed.
The following track is “Fucked Reality” which discusses such topics as “Jesus on the Cross, there are no idols, no heroes in a world of death, and no winners in this fucked reality.” STZA has such a substantial voice and while his lyrics are in much of the time a joking manner, he still has a point in his message. Choking Victim stands behind this anti-government and anti-religion platform and the intermissions from Political Scientist, Economist, and Historian, Michael Parenti only furthers their message through another person’s support.
Parenti starts “Money” off with a topic discussion of “The function of Police,” and how they are working for “social control” and “property protection” rather than protection of the people. Choking Victim then launches into one of their fastest and most aggressive songs on No Gods / No Managers. Every second of this song is a thrash metal mosh-pit that finally slows down to let the next track flood into frame.
“Hate Yer State” openings with yet another sample, this time coming from Choking Victim themselves explaining, “You think your alive motherfucker. You’re just the walking fucking dead, you’re fucking sheep, stepping on my back to stay alive. West coast, East Coast, your all bunch of fucking fools. You and the rest of this greedy fucking world. Kill yourself, stay in school, say no to drugs and oh yeah hail Satan…Goodnight boys and girls… pleasant dreams.” This is a sample only found on the CD release of No Gods / No Managers, the 7” explains “Sometimes I get so straight edge. I sit in a room and cry. A real dark room man… Feelings and shit man. Getting hurt. Then I masturbate and everything’s so much fucking better.” The track then launches into this assault of drum rolls and guitar riffs before finally coming into a more-ska like sound. STZA screams about being the “Choking Victim” in American society, and all the repercussions faced by the American citizens.
The following track, “Fuck America” begins with Parenti again talking of American foreign policy, and how the American citizens are the victims and not the victimizers. The track opens with growling vocals and riffs that sound something similar to a Suicidal Tendencies track. There is also these sections of bouncing ska music that keeps the track feeling varied and fresh, once the chorus kicks in however, the track’s tone completely changes. The lines “Fuck America” are chanted and the track seamlessly starts into “War Story.”
“War Story” is this glorious near ballad sounding track at its first half, but then slowly picks up into this punk rock hype-fest. The guitars slowly change from speedy punk riffs to a twinkling key change, and the rest of the band lets the guitar lead primarily. There is still a heavy presence of Skwert and his wick drumming skills, and the finale of the track has a screaming match before launching into the very melodic and cheerful track “Five-Finger Discount.”
This track starts with this slick bass line before launching into the core of the track. When the whole band kicks in to sing the chorus it is actually quite outstanding and makes you forget that it is a track all about shoplifting, “I want to see, what’s on sale, what’s for free.” The track is more of a party-rock song and sounds nothing like Choking Victim until the tracks end where the vocals and drums become much darker and more aggressive.
The next track then follows Parenti’s opinion on the Free Market System, and how many other countries are “invaded to send a message.” “Praise To The Sinners” features a flamenco guitar played by Tommy Trujillo, who is able to make an interesting change to the primarily electric sound of Choking Victim. This track only acts as an interlude to “Living The Laws” which is the final track on No Gods / No Managers.
“Living The Laws” is the most hardcore sounding track on all of No Gods / No Mangers and uses more growl like vocals rather than the usual singing from STZA. There are some sweet bass lines from Webb and the whole track then dissolves into this small breakdown where the vocals are silenced and it almost sounds like a sample. It was one of the highlights of “Living The Laws” as it allows the track to take a step back and reconfigure from the destruction that plagues most of Choking Victim’s sound. The lyrics are still as daunting as ever “Beside myself, I’m all alone… The lights are on, but no one’s home. There is also a bonus to the end of this track where a quote from the movie Mother Night is played stating, “They say a hanging man hears glorious music, I wonder what it sounds like.”
There is also another bonus tied to the track “Living The Laws,” a ska and slowed version of “Crack Rock Steady.” The track is a nice mix to the mostly metal and punk sound of Choking Victim. The band parted ways the day of the recording of No Gods / No Managers, they had recorded enough material to make one complete album, and unfortunately it was the last of Choking Victim’s run. Past members went on to form Leftöver Crack, leaving Choking Victim to live on through time as a testament to the American Government and to punk music everywhere.
Bones’ last album, PaidProgramming2 was released only just a little under 3 months ago, and now Bones is already back with yet another release. The hardest working artist in rap music, Bones’ newest project has a much shorter run-time than previous pieces, but is still stronger than ever.
GoodForNothing opens with one of Bones’ classic eerie style tracks that has started off so many projects before, but this time, “JustLikeTheOldMan” is a much shorter track only spanning 26 seconds before jumping right into the meat of the tape with the track “CutToTheChase.”
A frantic and entirely bass focused track that involves Bones shouting a chorus of “Motherfuck talking bitch, what the fuck you want.” In Bones previous fashion, he does not want to talk business or any plans with anyone outside of SESHHOLLOWWATERBOYZ. This has always been a relevant topic of the “TEENWITCH” as Bones tends to stay out of the spotlight and would rather stick to the shadows. GoodForNothing is the perfect example as most of the tracks on this release focus more on the relaxed side of Bones. A side that almost never takes the forefront of his releases.
Tracks like “UseYourInsideVoice” and even the following track “Sterilized” has a much bigger focus of attention on Bones’ singing. This, while in past releases has been popular through a chorus or even a few tracks breaking down the action, but GoodForNothing is almost strictly singing or a softer spoken style of rap. This only adds to the diversity that Bones delivers with each tape as Useless, Skinny, Garbage, and countless other releases had a bigger focus on Bones rapping and spitting more bars, this release is a totally different package.
That is not to say the change isn’t welcome, I prefer the constant mix up style as it does not ever back Bones into a corner. The audience that he has is so accepting of both styles and he is able to always adapt and continue to make new releases for the fans that will always support him. There are still rap tracks on GoodForNothing, and while I do not believe they are the strongest tracks Bones has released, they are still enjoyable and catchy.
The track “CoordinatesAcquired” is extremely catchy and the beat is still a creep and near-somber dance through this rattling hi-hat and low toned bass that Bones had made so popular. Bones’ verse is rather monotone and it feels almost like a lack of energy in the track, not that this is a terrible thing. The track feels very sleepy and the chorus “This is the part where you feel like nothing,” which then uses a synthetic voice to then rephrase “Nothing” was honestly interesting. It added this little quotable bar and allowed Bones to have more emphasis with his verse.
The following track “Owen” features a slower piano build up before launching into one of the harder hitting track of GoodForNothing. “Owen” features this powerful booming bass line that was almost reminiscing of the track “RestInPeace” which also involved a destructive bass. It feels like the entire track is being rattled by the instrumentation and while “Owen” is one of the shorter tracks only spanning 1:28, it is still the loudest and burliest of GoodForNothing.
“Roadkill” follows and is another show at the calmer side of Bones. The gentle piano and the more tranquil instrumentation that plays while Bones raps in such a way that it feels almost effortless, is once again outstanding. Bones delivers a great line about “If you don’t believe in me, hope you stay tuned to see. The cosmos working I’m the nothing that is everything.” Bones lets the peaceful instrumentation play out until falling into the next track which speeds GoodForNothing back up into where Bones thrives.
“MailTime” is a sinister sounding track where all the attention is on Bones verse. The beat provides a great background to what sounds like a horror-story of a track. This has been Bones style and he attacks the Bones imitators saying one of his best lines on GoodForNothing, “Everybody dressing up and doing all their best impressions, oh so many Bones imitations I’mma start a convention.” Once again Bones proves that he is the king of the underground rap-world, and with a style so unique it is impossible not to have imitators that just want to hop onto Bones style. With “MailTime,” Bones tells them to hop off and “Take your 2nd rank.”
Bones then leads GoodForNothing back into another track that uses his singing as the forefront, but casually launches into a total 180 where Bones raps in his slick monotone voice. The instrumental on this track is instead more focused on the synth and just as quickly as it begins, the track ends leaving “TheShadowOfTheThingsThatMayBe” to wrap up GoodForNothing.
TheShadowOfTheThingsThatMayBe” as the ending track was a fantastic finale to GoodForNothing as it keeps the current theme of a lighter sound where the tracks are not quite as crushing as past releases. GoodForNothing is overall a great project and while not as lengthy or as hard-hitting as Bones previous work, the singing tracks are the real star of the show here. This was a substantial meal to hold us over as Bones continues to work towards his next feature releases which will no doubt be incredibly soon.
Marked For Death is the intense triumph of a record that has the feel of a thousand pounds through each track. Emma Ruth Rundle is the singer/songwriter for not just her two solo works, but also for the bands Red Sparowes, Nocturnes, and Marriages. Rundle combines ambient, indie, and near concerto music all wrapped into one intense package.
Marked For Death begins with the self-titled track “Marked For Death.” The immensely slow build up between the soft-spoken vocals from Rundle and the guitar work create this wonderful balance until the percussion and the rest of the instrumentation comes crashing in with a wall of sound. It is a drastic and constant change between the tracks instrumentalists and Rundle working off of each other to create a tranquil environment to then pounding and much louder use of space. Emma Ruth Rundle is obviously going to be the centerfold of the tracks presented on Marked For Death, but that is not to say that the instrumentation is lacking behind her. They work in tandem, and while Rundle is the center of the attention, the instrumentation is still able to back her up in such a way that they can complement each other.
Rundle then proceeds with the following track, “Protection.” The percussion leads the track into the almost drained sounding guitar that plays behind Rundle’s downright gorgeous voice. With a vocal performance that reminds the listener of something like Björk, Rundle is able to produce some meaningful lines about being “I am worthless in your arms, but you offer this protection no one else has given me.” The end of the track then falls into this large noise-fest with the guitars blaring, the drums pounding, and Rundle taking a back seat to let the instruments destroy the rest of the track.
“Medusa” then follows and this is one of the more up-beat tracks on Marked For Death. The way Rundle presents her vocals and continues to shine through even as the strings and percussion behind her continue to make make for great background noise. Emma Ruth Rundle then uses reverberation on her voice to give the effect of background vocals being used. The reverb is slight, but just enough to give Rundle’s vocal performance enough layering and depth to the rest of the track. The final minute of the track is a primarily instrumental jam-session that uses what sounds like synth leads to give some more ambiance to the backing of the instrumentation before finally succumbing to silence.
Following is the track “Hand Of God,” which focuses with a slow electric guitar build up that almost lingers on the verge of blowing out the rest of the track with its powerful bass chords. Rundle then jumps in and the entire track is much slower than the other previous tracks on Marked For Death. In a way this track segues into a more bravado style with the instruments and Rundle’s voice going for a more-straight forward approach.
Marked For Death sounds similar to if The Smiths tried their hand at Drone Music. The very ambience heavy album from Emma Ruth Rundle is outstanding, featuring some depth and real fleshed-out ideas on each and every track. They transition near perfectly and it feels as though the album was recorded all in one single session rather than individual recordings.
Tracks like “Heaven” and “So, Come” are an example of this transition or segue in which the album moves without taking more than a few seconds to break. Rundle’s vocal performance stays about the same through-out Marked For Death and her voice is truly the star of this album. The instrumentals backing her are still great, but the resonating factor is most definitely Rundle’s vocal performance.
The next track, “Furious Angel” immediately begins with Rundle and the guitar setting the tone for the rest of the song. “Furious Angel” and Marked For Death as a whole feels rather daunting and somber. There are uplifting points in the record, but for most of the time spent on it, there is primarily a focus on these slow, and near sludge sounding tracks. They move gracefully but at the same time they are much more sedated.
The final track, “Real Big Sky” features a what sounds like a dirty, broken, mistuned guitar starting off the action of the track. Rundle brings her beautiful voice into the frame and there is this contrast in the track. It feels like Rundle and the instrumentation are always battling each other, Rundle brings some incredible vocal performances that were downright beautiful, while the instruments are grungier and filthy sounding. This constant comparison and duality is the strongest point on Marked For Death, and it allows for one of the most powerful combinations in music.
So…. This is going to be yet another run-down of whats happening as it has been about a month since I wrote the first personal post. Well starting off we now have hit
Surprisingly enough I have had some new subscribers and I would like to once again thank the people that support and follow my site, it means the world to me and while it is the corniest thing I could possibly say, it is the absolute truth. Thank you to everyone, even the people that hate on me as it only motivates me to continue to do what I have an absolute passion for.
AN UPDATE ON SHIRTS/CARDS/STICKERS/MERCH
I have now received my t-shirts and they can be purchased from me in person or through an email contact. I am working on getting the store set up so people can receive stickers and business cards at their pleasure, or grab a t-shirt if you really love me. Thanks to the people who bought them so far, it is very kind of you and don’t feel bad if I don’t have your size, I will order more in the future. As of now all I have is L and XL which most people could fit into.
Anyway, thanks again fools for supporting me and checking out my trash. A college essay about Acid Bath (One of my personal favorite records) is going up tonight. Bonus points if you know anything I am talking about in my article.
Thanks, and I love you
Matthew Ryan Miramontes “Bic Boy”
MISTA THUG ISOLATION, the massive 20-track mixtape from Virginian Rapper Lil Ugly Mane struck fear into listeners’ hearts, and power into pimps’ hands. The way Lil Ugly Mane combined noise, hip-hop, jazz, and some slick rhymes over some of the most engaging and progressive beats to date is something of purely black magic.
Lil Ugly Mane starts MISTA THUG ISOLATION off with a purely atmospheric/noise track that uses these loud buzzes, static crackles, and what sound like spaceships to set the tone for the rest of the journey on MISTA THUG ISOLATION. The “journey” will be a long, slightly confusing, but ultimately impressive display on both the lyrical and musical fronts. Not only can Lil Ugly mane destroy the production aspect and proves this on his 20 other rap projects, and one single noise/ ”black metal” project simply called “SLEEP UNTIL IT HURTS YOU.” While Lil Ugly Mane A.K.A. Shawn Kemp is primarily a well-rounded musician, Mista Thug Isolation relies on primarily shock value rhymes and a grimmer style of beats.
The kick-off track on MISTA THUG ISOLATION, “SERIOUS SHIT” combines the flowing motion of The Don Randell Ian Carr Quintet samples, and the eloquence of Three 6 Mafia. The combination sounds strange, but these strange sample mixes and blends are what gives Mista Thug Isolation so much strength. Ugly Mane delivers some interesting contradictory lines throughout the track, but most famous his opening bar, “I’mma slit my wrists no tourniquet, I’m Murderous.” Then proceeds to go on a lyrical spree about how “My crib got more burners than furnishing, got a lot of haters not concerned with it. The Earth revolve around making money, Copernicus.” Within one single bar, Ugly Mane is able to put forward some quick rhyme schemes and overall some intelligent quotable lines.
MISTA THUG ISOLATION continues on to “MANIAC DRUG DEALER III” which is one of the tracks that features this impressive beat change up that destroys the previous mood set by “SERIOUS SHIT.” This track has this paranoid feel with the constant sirens blaring and Ugly Mane describing “I don’t ride with no suckers, I don’t ride with no buster.” This lyric can go into relation with Ugly Mane’s other track “POLO RIGHT (SUICIDE ALPS FOREVER RE-EDIT)” off his tape Three Sided Tape: Volume One, where Ugly explains “Ain’t no snitch in my squad, Ain’t no bitch in my blood.”
Lil Ugly Mane then continues with the track “RADIATION (LUNG POLLUTION)” which features Supa Sortahuman and yet another beat transition when Ugly’s verse comes into the picture. The polar opposites of the verses where Supa Sortahuman explains his own personal support of “Kicking it with Mary Jane,” to where Lil Ugly Mane talks more into how no one is “Smoking, Drinking, Fucking, or Nothing on his (Ugly Mane’s) level.” Ugly Mane then ends the verse with a quirky bar about how potent his “Shit” really is.
“SLICK RICK” then follows and this track is more of a callback to the classic track from Slick Rick simply entitled “Treat Her Like A Prostitute.” The way Ugly Mane further expresses how he lives by this and how his moral is “Never fall in love because a bitch is a bitch.” Lil Ugly Mane follows the saga of MISTA THUG ISOLATION with the instant classic “WISHMASTER.”
This is easily one of the hardest hitting tracks on all fronts. From the crushing instrumental of orchestral strings that blast, to the vocal sample from the song “Don’t You Wish You Could Be There?” by Crackin’. The vocal continues to ask “Don’t you wish you could be me?” as Ugly delivers one of his best verses on MISTA THUG ISOLATION. The entire track features lines where Ugly Mane delivers some dominant, quotable lines about “Catching me on the news, being interviewed, wearing your jewels,” and “I keep it so filthy that the mic septic.”
The following track is an instrumental piece titled “ALONE AND SUFFERING (INTERLUDE).” The track features one of the more graceful sections of MISTA THUG ISOLATION where the piano, percussion, and the vocalization all come together in harmony to create a more peaceful atmosphere. The beat drop in this track where the piano slowly fades into the foreground and then jumps right into the rest of the instrumental was outstanding. “ALONE AND SUFFERING (INTERLUDE)” adds more of a push to the heavier tracks on MISTA THUG ISOLATION, giving them more impact.
Lil Ugly Mane then goes back into his peculiar rap style with another instant classic, “BITCH I’M LUGUBRIOUS.” This track has one of the best choruses in a rap song, and the entire track is so quotable that I would have to say that it is the best track on MISTA THUG ISOLATION. “Bitch I’m morose and lugubrious, I’mma let the Uzi spit, turn his face into gooey shit,” continues to echo through the track and Ugly yet again shows his lyrical strength. Bars like “You actin’ like I’m new to this, I been sick since the uterus,” and “Grabbing the Ruger and cocking it back, psycho mentality, kill ‘n attack, sippin’ on Alize, counting the stacks, half of my salary, nothing but crack.” Ugly Mane speeds his rhyming tempo and flow up through this section of the track, making his words feel like they are being fired through a machine. Ugly Mane then shows no signs of slowing down with the following track being “CUP FULLA BEETLEJUICE”
“CUP FULLA BEETLEJUICE” has this ghostly sounding vocalization that continues through-out the track that screams behind the beat. It adds an entirely new level of depth to the track and brings the focus more on Ugly’s verse. The chorus is the real shine of the track where Ugly proclaims “It’s hard to worry about these suckers when you stacking up this dough.”
The next track opens with the sounds of an air horn and a classic 80’s style beat. “BREEZEM OUT” relies on this air horn throughout the track as a way to add emphasis to Ugly’s punchlines. Lil Ugly Mane explains throughout this track that “Haters always gonna be up in your face, but that’s a part of the chase.” This track feels as though it is a shout out to all the people who called Lil Ugly Mane’s music a gimmicky mess. While most of his tracks are straight hip-hop and he is immensely talented, it is all a façade and just simply done for the fun of rhyming. There are several tracks where Lil Ugly Mane explains how rhyming was just a means of passing the time and he never expected MISTA THUG ISOLATION to become as big as it did.
One of the following tracks “MONA LISA OVERDRIVE” is what Ugly Mane calls a song for “The Ladies.” This track is however all about taking the ladies to a “Far away land I (Ugly Mane) calls the erogenous zone.” The track is a love song in the most gangster way possible, Ugly Mane then gets “Back to his business” with the following track “TWISTIN” with a feature from Denzel Curry.
“TWISTIN” is another track that just feels like an instant classic from the first time it is heard. The way Ugly Mane lets Denzel Curry start the track off with a slick verse repping RVIDXR KLVN (Raider Clan) and how he is the best thing coming straight out of Carol City, Florida. Lil Ugly Mane then overshadows Curry by explaining his up-rising in the rap-world to one of Ugly’s best closing lines throughout his career where he explains “We keep it more than underground, we in a dungeon.”
MISTA THUG ISOLATION then finally comes to “NO SLACK IN MY MACK” which is yet another song displaying Ugly’s strength and audacity in lyricism. He keeps it grimy, explaining that he is “Steady keep the product moving like a conveyer belt,” and “Got guns, bread, because their ain’t no slack in my Mack.” This track has seen several transformations where it was originally much different sounding than what was displayed on MISTA THUG ISOLATION. The original version is a much darker sounding creep of a track that is honestly outstanding, but did not fit the theme of MISTA THUG ISOLATION as much as the current version.
“LEAN GOT ME FUCKED UP” is one of the next tracks that features a hard-hitting 808 bass line, a great synth lead that sounds like a horror movie’s dream, and Ugly’s best verse on MISTA THUG ISOLATION. The entire verse is just outstanding and is a perfect recommendation to anyone who has never listened to Ugly Mane’s music previously. The way Ugly explains “I’mma project ghost, I’mma hood apparition,” to the “Explaining what murder mean.” Lil Ugly Mane delivers his hardest hitting set of bars on the entirety of MISTA THUG ISOLATION.
Finally, MISTA THUG ISOLATION comes to the finale of a track, “THROW DEM GUNZ.” This is an all-star of a song that features Ugly’s favorite instrumental he has ever produced to date, another outstanding verse, and the perfect send-off into the bonus/secret tracks. Ugly Mane is describing his hustle of selling to get by in life, and how that has changed the lives around him. He explains how he is “Standing in the rain feeling bad about the mommas losing jobs over the rocks that I (Ugly Mane) be passing out, but that’s the way it be on the block.” This is the first breakthrough of sympathetic emotion showed from Ugly Mane in all of MISTA THUG ISOLATION, showing that even the coldest of Killers still have a heart.
The bonus tracks, “LAST BREATH (OUTRODUCTION),” “BONUS: BITCH I’M LUGUBRIOUS (COLD SHOULDER EDIT),” AND “BONUS: SEND EM 2 THA ESSESNCE,” are nothing outrageously exciting, excluding “SEND EM 2 THA ESSENCE.” This was a track where Ugly Mane gives another full verse and fully explains his reasoning for not wanting to rhyme for money, fame, or the spotlight. Ugly describes “Oh you out for notoriety? You rappers so precious, send they ass a message when I send em to the essence.” This just further captures what Ugly Mane is all about, bringing dope music to the hopeless, and looking fly doing it.
Naked Lunch EP is the newest release from Pittsburgh lo-fi looper and hip-hop artist, Mt. Marcy. Marcy cleverly combines all the essential items of lo-fi hip-hop into one 15-minute package that while keeping a short run-time, is still able to bring some chill instrumentals into the equation.
Naked Lunch EP has no lyrics being rapped/sung over any of the beats, this means that Mt. Marcy would have to bring the production factor into an all-time high to keep the listener interested. The beats on this project keep a steady, relaxed flow that occasionally travels into the waters of blending different samples of vocals or spoken word to add background layering.
The first tracks on the tape “Greem [intro],” “Dilla_Redux,” and “We Are Simply Sums” all center around the classic style of hip-hop with very key-centric sounding tracks that use the percussion more as a track progressing tool than its own entity. The percussion takes a backseat on most of this mix, allowing the foreground to be run by the keys and the various sounds and samples.
The track, “We Are Simply Sums” has this interesting use of the “Uhh” grunt made famous by Rick Ross. This little vocal cue adds another layering to the track even if it feels so simple. The instrumental that carries the track is an uplifting sequence of piano keys being played in what sounds almost like a free-form style. These keys overpower the rest of the track and steal the limelight away from the rest of the instruments which, was not necessarily a downfall.
The keyed instruments; piano, synthesizer, and organ completely make each track feel unique. In the song “Blush,” the soft chords being played over what sounds like water droplets makes for an overall smoother approach. The following track “Last Night I Cried In The Shower” could have been possibly foreshadowed by “Blush,” but it does not feel this way as both tracks have much different emotions to them. “Last Night I Cried In The Shower” feels more disjointed, allowing many different instruments to come together and create this loose styled beat. The vocalization has this woman repeating a phrase that seems to be overshadowed by the instrumental, but this is one of the few cases of vocalization in all of Naked Lunch EP.
Mt. Marcy’s Naked Lunch EP sounds similar to other lo-fi hip-hop releases, but what sets it apart from the rest is the more minimal style of approach to each song. The tracks feel very simple, but then when a song like “Figs” comes into frame and the use of warping records and loops begin, it is not difficult to see how much time and effort was put into Naked Lunch EP. “Figs” was actually one of the better produced tracks that I had heard coming from any lo-fi artist. It was not only intriguing to hear the constant warping, but also as the instrumental feels complex, it is not overly so.
“Honey [interlude]” and “Eden” follow and both of these tracks feel similar in the way the instruments were used. While the pacing is entirely different from one another, both the use of the organ on “Eden” and the piano on “Honey [interlude]” stay in the center of attention. The rest of the track relies on the keys movements to better provide the background instrumentation. This was the reoccurring theme throughout Naked Lunch EP. The keyed instruments rule the center stage on the tracks, allowing almost every song to follow behind the key’s command.
The track “Tangier//Interzone” follows what sounds like this dreamscape style of an instrumental with a delayed guitar strumming out background noise behind this boom-bap style of percussion beat. This was a totally different approach to any track on Naked Lunch EP and it stands out among the crowd because of this. The track is able to capitalize on the use of the percussion while the stringed instruments take a backseat.
The last three tracks “Noora Pt.2,” “Whispuuur,” and “Noora Pt.1” all focus back on the keyed instruments and the track “Noora Pt.2” while short, sounds more like a Samiyam beat. Samiyam also keeps his head in the general area of lo-fi hip-hop and both Samiyam and Mt. Marcy share an interest in creating these outstanding short-styled tracks that leave you begging for more.
“Whispuuur” is one of, if not the strongest track on the entire EP. It uses this hi-hat opening and closing, then changes in and out of tempos as well. The track starts slower, then speeds up, then finally slows back down to let the beat breathe before coming to the final track.
“Noora Pt.1” is the grand finale of Naked Lunch EP and it feels as though it is a slow, somber walk through the late nights of a city setting. The piano bounces up and down the keys rather slowly, and the percussion is nothing more than just a simple click beat that only adds to the atmosphere of the track. Finally, just as soon as it began, “Noora Pt.1” ends with the click of what sounds like a tape recorder, only leaving the remaining silence to fill the void.