Thursday, July 28, 2011

Getting Ziggy With It

The Latest Greatest, 7/28/11

Determined to cement his place at the bottom of the "album" listings in your iPod, Boom Bip will be releasing his new album entitled "Zig Zaj" via Lex Records this September. Crazy ill album artwork, in typical Boom Bip fashion. Collaborators on this one include Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Josh Klinghoffer (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Luke Steele (Empire of the Sun), Money Mark and more. Too early to say whether this is worth getting excited over... Boom Bip has some phenomenal albums under his belt, including Doseone's strongest solo album, but he's also indulged in a couple of extra-poppy affairs that are fine for what they are but rarely get spins from me. Judging by the guest list on this, Boom Bip seems to be drifting more in the pop direction than the experimental direction, but the hope of this being dope is still there and I'll be checking for it come September. Tracklisting and first leaked track below:

1. All Hands
2. Goodbye Lovers And Friends ft. Alex Kapranos
3. Pele
4. Do As I Do ft. Cate Le Bon
5. Reveal
6. Manabozh ft. Money Mark
7. New Order ft. Luke Steele & Josh Klinghoffer
8. Automation
9. Tumtum
10. Mascot and the Moth

"All Hands"

Boom Bip 'All Hands' (from new album 'Zig Zaj') by LexRecords

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We're Super Scientifical

The Latest Greatest, 7/27/11

So, the long-awaited fourth LP by Astronautalis is finally seeing the light of day this September 13th via Fake Four Inc. This album is amongst my most anticipated releases of 2011, and boasts guest appearances by Tegan Quin (of Tegan & Sarah fame), P.O.S and Sims as well as production by Lazerbeak, Cecil Otter, Alias and more. Astronautalis' past albums have shown a huge amount of creativity, both in terms of his unique conceptual lyricism and in his indie rock-rap hybrid styles. I'm hoping that this album will continue that tradition of imaginative music while also introducing Astronautalis to a deservedly wider audience and fanbase. If this one doesn't do it, then I'm sure his group project with P.O.S under the name Four Fists will. In case the album title doesn't carry enough science for ya, the first official single is entitled "Dmitri Mendeleev," and pays homage to the Russian scientist credited as being the creator of the first version of the periodic table. Needless to say, this guy is a far cry from your average rapper... is it September yet?? Tracklisting and sounds below:

01. The River, The Woods
02. This Is Our Science (feat. Isaiah Toothtaker and P.O.S.)
03. Thomas Jefferson (feat. Sims and Mike Wiebe)
04. Measure the Globe
05. Dimitri Mendeleev
06. Midday Moon
07. Contrails (feat. Tegan Quin)
08. Holy Water
09. Secrets on Our Lips
10. Life the Curse
11. One for the Money

"Dmitri Mendeleev"

"Midday Moon"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Open Mike Eagle, Red Foxx & Los Feo Faces at Twin Space, SF

View From the Front Row, 7/17/11

Last Friday, I had the privilege of being one of a handful of people who witnessed Open Mike Eagle's "Natural Causes" Tour when it passed through San Francisco. Continuing in the recent trend of bizarre venue choices for hip hop shows, the concert took place in a spot called Twin Space, which turned out to be a Yoga Training center hidden away in a door-coded apartment complex around 17th and Mission. Strange incense smells, artsy upper-brow decor, and not an open bar for as far as the eye could see... hardly the ideal spot to host a rap party, even if it is an art rap party. Unfortunately, the hidden venue combined with a lack of proper promotion resulted in one of the most poorly attended shows I've been to in recent memory. Hell, scratch that, one of the most poorly attended shows I've ever been to, straight-up! Most of the 4 or 5 people who showed up were people I invited, and even those folks were scattered around the venue and not paying attention to all of the acts performing. The turn-out to this thing made the Bleubird RV van show seem like a super colossal stadium event by comparison.

Alwayz Prolific kicked things off by playing a bunch of his beats while the other artists tried to wait for a larger showing of people. His beats were very good, kind of electro-ish in that Low End Theory vein but with more of an instrumental hip hop kick to them. He freestyled a bit over the music as well, and Everybody Knows of Los Feo Faces joined in and brought some funny improvised lyrics in his verses. They were just having fun and killing time for the awkward few, but it was a nice way to start things off.

Los Feo Faces were the first act in the line-up to perform, and they kicked a bunch of songs that showcased some of the talent that Hawaii has to offer to the hip hop scene. My understanding is that Los Feo Faces is a crew/record label consisting of a bunch of MCs from Hawaii, and that the two names represented at this event were Nabahe aka James Barrie and Everybody Knows. I'd seen Nabahe previously when he toured with Verble for Matre and Ceschi's "Year of the Gift" tour, and remember his aggressive and slightly off-kilter flow impressing folks. I'd also heard of Everybody Knows through his comedic Grindtime battling, and his more mellow voice and flow balanced out Nabahe's heated verses well. The two of them took turns performing songs, some of which felt like they could have been over other people's beats. Cool set from these two, looking forward to their "Hater Camp" album when it drops.

Red Foxx, a group consisting of Alpha MC and VerBS of Swim Team, were up next to perform. As a fan of both of the MCs in question and of Swim Team in general, my expectations were relatively high for their show, and they delivered in full despite the event's pathetic turn-out. Alpha MC and VerBS were both animated as hell, rapping like crazy and racing through the yoga room with reckless abandon. Their tunes were mostly soon-to-be underground club hits about getting shit-faced drunk or how stupid emotions shouldn't get in the way of having a good time. Lots of heavy electro beats destined to get an eager crowd pumped off the energy as well. Seeing these two get rowdy made me feel a little bad about the lack of a larger audience, as I'd wager that these guys tend to get more than a few bodies moving during their sets. Some great West coast party raps for sure.

Open Mike Eagle followed up Red Foxx as the evening's headliner, and shifted the musical atmosphere of the show to something a bit more mellow and suited to an intimate crowd. Mike Eagle's set has impressed me the couple of times I've seen him live. His original style of MCing paired with his live manipulation of beats and culturally clever lyrics are enough to convert casual observers to fans in the beat of mic check. He performed mostly new tracks from his latest (and greatest) album "Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes," including "The Processional," "Nightmares" and "Rent Party Revolution." The people in attendance were responsive to Open Mike Eagle's call-and-response hooks, and for a fleeting moment it felt like there was a real crowd in the venue. His tourmates were supporting from the crowd as well, which is something I would have liked to have seen happen for the other performers. No "Haircut" unfortunately, but in a crowd of this size I doubt it would have had its usual instant-smile effect on people. Mike Eagle closed things out with an improvised rendition of "Go Home," which had VerBS and Alpha MC chiming in with some verses before he bid the crowd adieu. Very good set from Open Mike Eagle, as always.

A good show overall, saved by the grace of the performers even when the atmosphere suffered from natural causes. Thanks to the homies Fisher and Zach for rolling out, and major props to that dude Juan for being the only other guy that stuck in the front row for the acts over the course of the entire show. Next time, let's get these talented mo'fos a gig at a proper bar in the city shall we?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Flashiest Bangers of the West

The Latest Greatest, 7/9/11

So in case your West Coast Underground Hip Hop radar has overheated or you've been living under a Cali avalanch, Busdriver & Nocando will be joining forces to release a collaborative album in August under the group name Flash Bang Grenade. Entitled "10 Haters," the album will likely have 10 or more heaters and will be dropping via Hellfyre Club/Grimm Image Records. Lots of reasons to be amped for this project... The past guest appearences from Nocando on Busdriver's albums have resulted in some seriously heavy tunes, plus I can't think of a busier and more prolific duo of LA artists. Busdriver is an immensely talented MC, and I have hope that this album and the rumored Fake Four project he might have in the works (ssshhh) will both be some bad-ass rebounds into the spotlight. Here are two more reasons to be excited about the album:

"I Can Teleport" (produced by Busdriver)

"Beat My Bitch" (produced by Nosaj Thing)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In the Mood for Live

The Latest Greatest, 7/6/11

Brand new album from Mood, the duo consisting of Ohio MCs Main Flow and Dante whose debut "Doom" turned a lot of heads back in the day. Out NOW and available for sale at Access Hip Hop! Can't say I was expecting this one... it just sorta dropped out of the blue but I'm very curious to hear it. Sounds like it's mainly produced by Jahson, who handled a number of the beats on their first album alongside DJ Hi-Tek (who's not featured on this one, but no surprises there). Haven't managed to locate any samples of this one yet, but tracklisting is available below:

2.Live Again (feat. Big Easy)
4.Gangsta Goddess
5.Popular (feat. Ianigma / Big Easy)
6.Shoot Me Down (feat. Ianigma)
7.Drugs, War & Crime (feat. Ragga)
8.Bad Move (feat. Ragga)
9.Ghetto Monopoly (feat. Zerah)
10.They Say (feat. Zerah)
11.Profits Of Doom
12.Judgement Mourning (feat. Ragga)
14.Conversations (feat. J Sands)
15.By Myself
16.More Love Than Hate (feat. Zerah)
17.Believe (feat. Holmskillet)
18.So Long
19.Lyrics Like These
20.X Factor

No Introductions Necessary

The Latest Greatest, 7/6/11

There's been so little publicity surrounding this release that I wondered whether it would be pushed back again, but now that the cover and tracklisting have surfaced it looks like Willie Evans Jr.'s official debut album "Introducin" will indeed see the light of day on July 19th through High Water Music. This talented gentleman was a central part of the Florida hip hop group Asamov (now known as the A.Bs), who caught some positive buzz over their debut album in 2005. Since then, he's produced quite a few bangers for Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, Baje One, and some others. I saw him open for Mr. Lif's "I Heard It Today" tour and he put on a very impressive set that wowed a lot of people in the audience, plus he was a humble dude to talk to. Good to see him coming out with a proper solo joint, and even better to see a dope label like High Water Music handling it. Tracklisting below... no samples available of this one yet, unfortunately!

1.Willie Who?
3.Dumbtron (feat. Paten Locke)
4.Take 2
5.Sidewalk Shit
6.Cybersheik 1 & 2
7.Nerd English
10.A$amov (feat. The Alias Brothers)
11.Moon Foot
12.Willie Evans Jr.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bleubird, Edison, and Cars & Trains in the Freeebird Van, Dolores Park SF

View From the Front Row, 7/2/11

June had its fair share of weird intimate shows in bizarre venues, and Bleubird's semi-secret gig with Edison and Cars & Trains was one of the month's major highlights. I learned about this show via Edison hours before it went down, but a few minor tweaks to my Wednesday evening schedule and it was on. The event took place on the corner of the 18th St. and Dolores St. in San Francisco, next to the tennis courts of Dolores Park and across the street from Bi-Rite Ice Cream. Bleubird had his bad-ass colorfully decked-out RV Van parked there, and the music in question took place in the close quarters of the van's interior. Bleubird claimed that it could fit up to 35 people in it, but since there were only about 15 in attendance and the van felt a bit cramped, my guesstimate would be more in the "20 max" range. Really killer sound system though!

Cars & Trains played first, with Bleubird rallying some people up off of the grass outdoors and into the van. Cars & Trains had a ton of equipment set up in the RV, though the makeshift guitar supplied to him by Edison was not in proper tune to play and was one less accessory to the mix. The limited space and massive amount of gadgets on hand bordered on being dangerous, but the set was pretty magical, with Cars & Trains crafting a very complex musical arrangement that felt like a constantly evolving beat. I was sitting inches away from his laptop, and it was fascinating to observe the way he used his keyboard/sample pad/foot pedals/etc. to fuel his musical thought process. It was a window into the way a musician works that would've gone unseen in a regular venue setting. Dope!

Edison (who was recently crowned the winner of the West Coast Championship Controller Battle, apparently) went on next with an outstanding set of ill beats that showed off his extraordinary level of skill. People who can't view beat-making outside of the frame of someone sitting at a computer and layering samples had ought to check out Edison's live set asap. Watching this guy work the Monome pad is like getting treated to a maestro piano player's performance, only with blinking button-pushing instead of ivory keys. Really sick beats witnessed mere inches away from their source. Edison's set resulted in the funnest part of the evening's performances when Bleubird and his longtime friend Zach G decided they wanted to freestyle over some of the crazy beats. They were both very clever and hilarious freestylers, with Bleubird mainly rhyming about the tennis courts and ice cream lines while Zach G went on some oddball bat tangent that resulted in some seriously funny line about "Guano pussy" that had folks cracking up. There was a random gal and guy who entered the van off the street, and the gal was shaking it dancing in the van while the guy kicked an embarrassing freestyle that was really fun to watch. Edison's MC friend Beastmaster also freestyled a verse from outside the window of the RV, which was awesome. Lots of laughter and good times, topping off a killer set.

Bleubird got on after Edison to kick a quick couple of songs with his laptop and microphone, despite worries that the van battery might be overcharging the equipment or that the SFPD might pick up on the semi-legal rap antics. He performed some impressive numbers that showed off his versatility as an MC, veering from a heartfelt tribute to his tiny hometown off his upcoming Fake Four album to his straight-up gangster verse off "Hustle Hard" from Sole's latest mixtape. I caught a Swashbuckling Napoleans song or two up in the mix as well. Definitely a very entertaining performer, with an awesome nerdy charisma about him and plenty of interesting stories and anecdotes at his disposal. You can also tell that Bleubird spends a lot of time on his lyrics and cadences, as few of his lines felt like filler. Great way to end a very unique stop by the #Freeebird in SF!

Had a chance to chill with these guys for a while afterwards as well, and we got burritos and then hit Missouri Lounge in Berkeley to say what's up to Jel who was spinning there. We also messed around with the loudspeaker on Bleubird's van a lot. Good peoples well worth your attention, be on the lookout for the #Freeebird, coming to a house party/parking lot near you! Some video footage of this most auspicious occasion:

Cars & Trains workin' a beat:

Edison rockin' out:

Bleubird performing a new song from his upcoming Fake Four album: