Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sapient Makes Even More

The Lowdown, 8/31/10

Sapient is a dude who I never expect to like new music from, yet who I'm somehow always at least a little impressed by. Artists who release numerous releases each year generally raise red flags in my book as far as quality control is concerned, and to say that Sapient's kept busy in the last few years is an understatement. In 2009, he released three free download-able full lengths, produced two Sandpeople-related albums in their entirety, and released an additional solo album as well as a collaborative album with Luckyiam of Living Legends (both on CD). "Barrels for Feathers" is Sapient's second CD release this year, with a third in the works for the Fall and a possible fourth with Luckyiam. One thing that I always notice and appreciate about Sapient's projects, however, is that each one seems to be a little better than the last. Over the years, his production has gradually transformed from simple sampled boom bap to more synthesized keyboard generated affairs, and on this new one his keyboard beats seem more multi-layered and complex. He's also developing a sort of poppy sing-songy hook approach that's rumored to veer into genre-bending territories on his next release... a little skeptical of an album of singing from this guy, but then so far my skepticism in regards to Sapient has been off-base, so we'll see. For now, "Barrels for Feathers" is quite a solid well-produced album, featuring guest shots from Eligh, Pigeon John, and LMNO (who, even here, does nothing for me). A sample track to listen to below, you can order the CD at CDbaby with more locations to follow (hopefully Amoeba).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Batsauce "Summertime"

Expanding the Backpack, 8/30/10

This is late news compared to my other blog-post-twit-whateveryoucallits, but wanted to make sure people were aware of this legally free download-able album by producer Batsauce. It's a Summery Summer inspired album constructed entirely off of samples from versions of the classic Gershwin song "Summertime," and it features the likes of Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, Mass Influence, Paten Locke, Qwazaar of Typical Cats, etc. Batsauce has produced tracks for folks like the Smile Rays, Mr. Lif, and Paten Locke in the past, and has backing from Baje One's upstart label Modern Shark for this project. Well-executed album perfect for the Summer weather, the season may be ending but you can give it a free extension with this one!

Free Download Here

New Joint from Dr. Oop (No Pun Intended)

The Latest Greatest, 8/30/10


So as a rap nerd, one of my nerdiest obsessions in rap is West Coast underground shit. And what better MC to personify the left coast than Dr. Oop CApone? This guy has so much weed smoke rising from his head that he might as well be wearing a neon sign that flashes "LA hippy" in an assortment of trippy colors. Dr. Oop apparently has a new album dropping entitled "The Grateful Dread," which is entirely produced by Seattle resident EarDRum the Metrogrome and which features the likes of Aloe Blacc and Rogue Venom (part of the new school Project Blowed crew Swim Team). So when is this thing coming out? According to Access Hip Hop, it's available RIGHT NOW to order! Definitely going to be dropping that in my next Access Hip Hop purchase, though I'm gonna do my best to see if Amoeba Berkeley can get some copies as well. The Blacklove R88ers album that Dr. Oop put out with Kenny Segal in 2007 was great and mad slept on, so looking forward to hearing this new one. Here's a sample track off the album, "Green Butter", featuring Rogue Venom. Visit www.accesshiphop.com if you like what you hear to order it.

dr.Oop feat. Rogue Venom-Green Butter by BLACKLOVEMUSIC

Icon the Mic King & Chum "Were Cool-Aide"

Expanding the Backpack, 8/30/10



Fake Four affiliate, hard-working MC and full-time egomaniac Icon the Mic King follows up his "Flavor Ade" album with a new full length project with Chum the Skrilla Gorilla behind the boards. This Cool-Aide album was intended to be the official full length that "Flavor Ade" was an appetizer for, but apparently Icon and Chum have disbanded their partnership (hence the "Were" in the title) and this is now being offered as a legally free download. Some strong joints on here... it always baffles me how artists can spend ages working on and perfecting a project, only to end up dropping it for free. Speaks volumes about the current state of the music industry I suppose. You can download the project at the following address:

http://www.circleintosquare.com/item/mic-king-and-chum-were-cool-aide

Funk-ay. "Cool-Aide Smile" is so cool that I'll pretend that "80's Baby" never happened...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Afro Classics, Understudies, etc at Blake's, 8/27/10

View From the Front Row, 8/28/10

Alright, so I attend a hell of a lot of indie rap shows. I mean so many that I'm often juggling several shows a week, trying to figure out how much coffee will balance out my lack of sleep. Chances are that if you live in the Bay area and like underground hip hop, you have seen me at some event or another. I'm tall and gangly, dance awkwardly in the front row, and often have a backpack with me (one larger than yours, I'm guessing). I figure this blog is as good a place as any to blab about shows I've recently seen... not gonna try to go back even a week to document those that have already passed since that would be a daunting task, but from here on out I'll try to drop a word or two about them and maybe even share a few pics or videos. Which brings me to my most recent jaunt: Afro Classics, Understudies, Digital Martyrs, and Associated Fresh at Blake's in Berkeley last night.

Got off work at 10 PM and immediately rolled out to the spot since the show was listed as starting at 9. Of course, as anyone who attends rap shows knows, these things tend to start at least an hour and thirty minutes late, so I still arrived before anyone had gotten on the mic. Prior to anyone performing, I dropped by the merch booth and met Foundation, producer of the Insects and some other cool rippity rap groups. We chopped it up for a bit and he's definitely a stand-up dude not to mention an ill producer and DJ. He's got a full album in the works with Murs, so you'll be hearing more about him soon enough I'm sure.

Got all up in the front row when Associated Fresh got on to perform, hadn't heard of'em but they put on a pretty good set. It started with more than a few technical difficulties involving the state of their serato, but they maneuvered around them fairly well with a combination of beat boxing and freestyling to keep the crowds entertained until the beats dropped. Their tracks were definitely on some boom bap shit, and they had some pretty catchy jams... this rapper named Fluent seemed to be the best rhymer out of the 4 MCs. It also turns out that one of the dudes in the group, Gigio, is someone who I'd chatted with at Amoeba previously and who'd given me his demo CD to listen to. I didn't remember who he was when he approached me about it after the set and embarassingly hadn't given his demo a listen yet even though it was months ago, haha... will have to get around to that soon-ish (though given how much music I listen to on the regular, might have to be later-ish).

Digital Martyrs put on a quick but energetic set that sounded fairly good, they brought out some rapper named Mikael from the Nickel & Dime who kicked a good verse as well. The performance was almost too short to document since they were rushed to get the next acts up on stage before midnight. The Understudies, who also rolled 4 MCs deep, came up and seemed to be somewhat of a crowd favorite. They definitely had some dance-able songs that got some folks in the crowd hype, though it may have also had to do with the number of friends they had in attendance. Good stuff.

Afro Classics were the dudes I came to see, and they rocked it pretty dang hard. The funny thing is that when they first came out to perform, nobody seemed interested since most people apparently came out to see the Understudies. They had to get the crowd's attention and win them over, and they did exactly that. It only took only two or three songs before people were back in the front row grooving it up. This was my first time seeing Scarub and Very perform, and they both brought the passionate energy needed to make a good stage show. It was great to see people other than me rocking out and getting into it since I'm way too used to audiences at rap shows standing silently in some corner and observing. My only complaint is that Blake's cover charge was pretty steep at 12 dollars, but grabbing a free shirt from Very kind of made up for it.

Without further ado, some videos from the front to close this write-up out. Please excuse the poor lighting, jerky cam, etc... I ain't no professional, and it's mighty hard to take pics and dance at the same time:

Understudies:

video

Afro Classics:


video

Pigeon Johnny Stays Slayin' Suckaz

The Latest Greatest, 8/28/10


New Pigeon John album, "Dragon Slayer," dropping 10/12/10 on Quannum Projects. Produced entirely by Herve Salters (General Elektriks) and Pigeon John, featuring what I'm sure will amount to lots of humorous rap crooning - the catchy kind that appeals to humorous croon rap collectors like me. This project, Blue Sky Black Death's new album, and Lazerbeak's solo banger all seem to be pointing to a resurgence of quality indie rock oriented hip hop projects in 2010, bring it on bitchez! Pigeon John will be touring to support this album with the help of Dark Time Sunshine (yay!) and DJ Abilities (double yay!). Some tour dates to sink your teeth into:

Pigeon John w/ Dark Time Sunshine, DJ Abilities

09/30 Santa Barbara CA @ Velvet Jones
10/1 San Diego CA @ The Loft - UCSD
10/2 Los Angeles CA @ Siren Studios 3:30PM (Thrillist)
10/2 Visalia CA @ The Cellar Door
10/4 Mon San Francisco CA @ Cafe Du Nord
10/6 Wed Seattle WA @ Nectar Lounge
10/7 Portland OR @ Backspace
10/8 Boise ID @ The Reef
10/9 Bozeman @ Zebra Cocktail Lounge
10/10 Salt Lake City UT @ Urban Lounge
10/11 Mon Denver CO @ Larimer Lounge
10/12 Tue Boulder CO @ University of Colorado – Club 156
10/14 Madison WI @ High Noon Saloon
10/15 Minneapolis MN @ 7th Street Entry
10/16 Chicago IL @ Morseland
10/17 Rock Island IL @ TBD
10/18 Mon Cleveland @ TBD

85% sure this blogger will be at Cafe du Nord, front and center. More info and sample tracks from Pigeon John's new one at www.pigeonjohn.com