Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Typically Brilliant

The Latest Greatest, 8/29/12

Trying not to get too excited about the release of this new Typical Cats album "3" on September 25th, but I'm failing miserably.  Typical Cats is just one of those groups that has the potential to deliver some of the highest quality hip hop on the planet, bar none.  Qwel, Qwazaar and Denizen Kane are all masters of their respective crafts of MCing, and have styles that compliment one another in unique and exciting ways.  DJ Natural's jazzy funk production tends to bring out sides of their music that you wouldn't here on other recordings, and he cements the group as its own entity.  Many herald their 2001 self-titled album as an underground hip hop classic and others give massive praise to their 2004 follow-up "Civil Service," but I personally believe that these two albums, while good, do not meet the massive potential that this group has as a collective.  My expectations remain sky high, and there's no doubt in my mind that these fellows will one day release an album that will kick my ass from beginning to end.  If the album sampler for "3" is anything to go by, then this may very well be the record that I've been waiting for from Typical Cats...  It's sounding like DJ Natural has stepped up his production chops quite a bit in the last 8 years, and it's good to see the unseen member of the crew Kid Knish back on deck.  Stream the album sampler beneath the tracklist below, and expect more thoughts on this album from me when it drops: 

1. Intro (Cry No More)
2. The Crown
3. My Watch
4. Changing Room
5. Puzzling Thing
6. Better Luck
7. Drop It Like It's Hotline
8. Denizen Walks Away
9. The Bitter Cold
10. It's The Bomb!
11. On My Square
12. Blank Stone
13. Scientists Of Sound
14. Mathematics
15. Gil Say They Don't Knock
16. Bowl Of Tea
17. Reflections From The Porch
18. The Gordeon Knock
19. TC Back For More
20. Full Clip (For The Last Day)

April / May / June 2K12 in Hip Hop Terms

The Lowdown, 6/22/12

Been majorly falling behind on keeping things up to date with the monthly reviews here, but some notable hip hop releases dropped in April, May and June for sure.  Getting this done since July and August yielded way more amazing releases, and will probably be needing their own posts soon.  Without further ado, some personal stand-outs from 4/12-6/12:

1) Sector 7G "Dead in the Heart" (Fill in the Breaks)

This new joint from Ecid, Mike Schank and DJ Pseudonym is so damn grimy that it took a couple of listens before it clicked with me.  When it finally did, it resonated with me as high caliber experimental hip hop should.  Ecid impressed me earlier this year with his tremendous "Werewolf Hologram" album, and this body of work shows a different side of his production while leaving his vocals out of the mix.  The beats from Ecid and scratches from DJ Pseudonym are both challenging and deliver some interesting arrangements of sounds, but the most impressive part of this release to me is the rapping from Mike Schank.  Hadn't heard of this dude previously, and he has some serious confidence in his delivery plus a lot of interesting things to say in his lyrics.  It's particularly impressive when you hear him handling his rapping so effortlessly over such jarring and experimental production, since one gets the sense that it takes a special breed of MC to carry themselves over these kinds of heaters.  Give a listen to their song "Cheap Death" below:


2) David Ramos "Sento La Tua Mancanza" (Fake Four Inc)

David Ramos' new album is such an unabashedly intimate and personal piece of work that it's bound to alienate a lot of traditional hip hop listeners with its approach.  But for every person who's left shaking their heads over David's honest confessions, there's bound to be a person who connects to his struggles in a very real way. "Sento La Tua Mancanza" is an admirable ode to lost love that takes you on a journey through David's grief and mourning, right down to the most painful details of his depression.  His words are delivered through a smattering of speedy rap verses and short left-field pop tunes that bear the mark of the brothers Ramos, with Oskar Ohlson's stuttering home-made production working perfectly with the delicate tone of the record.  Glad that David decided to share this one with the world, you can count me as a fan.  Watch the video for "Still There" below:


3) Bigg Jus "Machines That Make Civilization Fun" (Mush)

Bigg Justoleum Lune TNS' latest opus drops on the ear drums of the innocent masses like a wrecking ball of noise, making El-P's recent efforts sound positively sane by comparison.  The album's 37 minute running time packs an experimental wallop that finds Jus screaming distortion over some of the noisiest Ableton production I've heard in a minute.  The closest comparison I can think of is Death Grips' recent metal take on hip hop, but Bigg Jus succeeds far better at this sound by occasionally busting out an ill rap verse to remind us why he was a force to be reckoned with in Company Flow.  This thing's short and brutal, and like most great experimental hip hop, it rewards listeners who are willing to brave its treacherous terrain.  Damn good stuff.  Listen to the title track, which sounds like a demo of an amateur garage rock band channeled through a future time continuum, below:

Lots of more recent reviews dropping soon (I hope).