All posts in September 2014

Vanic X K.Flay – Cant Sleep

Vanic

Vanic is back with Cant Sleep featuring K.Flay. Laid on top of K.Flay’s vocals are some inspiring synths, unforgivable snares and beautifully laid out keys that culminate into one of Vanic’s most impressive tracks to date. It differs slightly from his most recent releases, but Vanic mentioned he wanted to, “spice things up a little bit.” Indeed he did. Turn the volume up and enjoy.

– Dave

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Say My Name (feat. Zyra) (Big Wild Remix)

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Big Wild has done it again, releasing a top notch remix of ODESZA’s Say My Name. If you have never listened to Big Wild before, you have been missing out on his upbeat feel good style. While mostly producing trap like music, Big Wild sure knows when and how to change things up in his releases, like he has done in this one. This track features a more relaxed house beat with clean vocals which is then slowed down in the second part. Big things to come for this one.

-Henry

Aer – Whatever We Want Remix (ft. Dizzy Wright)

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Aer is back with a fresh new track Whatever We Want featuring the one and only Dizzy Wright. If you haven’t heard Aer before, than I doubt you have ever been to a beach, bonfire or camping trip. Their music is the epitome of ‘feel good’. Whatever We Want is no exception, featuring some smooth guitar riffs and sublime lyrics. Turn the volume up and enjoy.

– Dave

 

New York City’s Best Kept Secret, MIKE (Exclusive Interview)

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Back on August 12th, Eargrub had the opportunity to premiere a mixtape by the name of Belgium Butter. The project is the joining of two forces: Brussels’ boom-bap connoisseur Thruuh, and a New York City rapper by the name of MIKE (caps non-optional). Of course, when I heard the news, I quickly ran to my computer to give it a listen. I was immediately stricken by the personal-while-remaining-snappy lyricism from MIKE and the incredibly lush instrumentals from Thruuh. So, recently, I got into contact with the emcee of the mixtape to ask him my questions about the project, and himself as a rapper, as well as a human being. Here’s our conversation:

Eargrub: Since you’re a bit of an enigma, tell us a little about MIKE.

MIKE: I’m 15 at the moment. I go to some shitty school in Brooklyn but live in the Bronx. Most of my days consist of sleep and music making. If not that I’m with the homies in the city, or just exploring. I was born in New Jersey but raised in England, then I moved to Philadelphia, then moved to Brooklyn, then to the Bronx. I’ve travelled most of my life. I’m just a laid back kid, but I always seem to lose that character when I’m with my close friends and family. I’m also in a music group called [sLUms.]

Eargrub: How did you get your start rapping?

MIKE: Uhh, I remember it was one day my mom had traveled off. I was like 8 or 9 and staying up in England. We all use to watch was this UK Grime Rap TV show for underground artists and there was this song I really liked, and then I was like damn, I really wanna be a rapper. So then I remember going up to my sister and just rapping some stupid shit to her.

Eargrub: So is that what got you into rap in the first place?

MIKE: Basically I was raised listening to it and shit. I’ve always liked other stuff, like shit you wouldn’t expect me too. Shit like “Welcome Home” by Coheed and Cambria. I found my way around to getting back into rap though.

Eargrub: What has been your best experience as a rapper?

MIKE: My best experience as a rapper has to be the time I performed with Devonte Hynes/Blood Orange. Crowd was cool. Hynes was also cool as hell. Everybody there was just releasing good spirits.

 

Eargrub: How do you feel your city fares in the Hip hop game?

MIKE: Uhh, My city is expected to be, like, deep into the rap game. I mean, there are a lot of rappers in New York City right now. Man, it’s a lot of competition. One thing I really got tired of was all the people today trying to make 90’s music. At first it was cool, like nostalgic tracks, but it’s about time we make our sound, y’know? A lot of people say my tracks are old school because there’s nothing else to compare them to. But man, I don’t see them as very old school.

Eargrub: Explain your creative process.

MIKE: My creative process is sketchy as hell. I gotta, like, be in a good mood to write some good shit. Especially being around other artists or friends. That helps me a lot. With like my lyrics, I stop thinking in my head and just start writing with my pen, and some cool shit comes out.

Eargrub: How did you get connected with Thruuh, and explain the experience of the collaboration.

MIKE: It was funny, man, I was looking for cool beats on Youtube and shit. I found him and rapped over the beat “Ventura”, and he fucked with it, so I asked if he wanted to make a collab tape. He was down, so I was hella hyped about it. A 15-year-old rapper in New York City collaborates with a Belgium producer… The experience was awesome man, and he’s a cool ass dude. The guy has some real talent. His beats embraced my lyrics so much. He knew what he was doing.

Eargrub: Who would you list as your inspirations, musically or otherwise?

MIKE: Well, as for my inspirations: Kharisma, one of the sickest cats from Stone Throw. Doom, of course. That guy helped me branch my ideas all the fucking way out. King Krule is one of my inspirations, and probably a big inspiration for Belgium Butter. His music takes me to a weird place. Madlib, also. That guy has a lot of talent, man. He can make any trash rapper sound like Jesus.

Eargrub: What is your personal favorite track on the tape? Explain, if you can.

MIKE: My favorite track on the tape has to be “Belgium Butter”, the intro. The reason why it’s my favorite is that it really explains me. My brain is so busy man, like it’s hard for me to think sometimes because of all the vivid images and that pop into it. I feel like I expressed a whole lot in “Belgium Butter”, and it made me happy that I could express it all in a way where I was having fun. Sort of.

Eargrub: Explain the name “Belgium Butter.”

MIKE: Well, it was basically like this: Thruhh’s from Belgium, and around here, in New York, “butter” is slang for some fly shit. Not a really deep meaning to it. If you find one, make it useable for yourself.

Eargrub: What do you hope to improve with the next project, whenever we may see that?

MIKE: I hope to improve with the next project with more people, probably. Have some friends on the tape, maybe some more visuals and shit. I definitely want to dip my feet into different genres too. Like, in my music, you know.

Eargrub: Who would you list as your inspirations, musically or otherwise?

MIKE: Well, as for my inspirations: Kharisma, one of the sickest cats from Stone Throw. Doom, of course. That guy helped me branch my ideas all the fucking way out. King Krule is one of my inspirations, and probably a big inspiration for Belgium Butter. His music takes me to a weird place. Madlib, also. That guy has a lot of talent, man. He can make any trash rapper sound like Jesus.

Eargrub: What would you consider to be the realest shit you ever wrote?

MIKE: Realest shit I ever wrote has to be my track “Nights With Eve”. It’s deep as fuck, man. The whole track is about entering the rap game, and it being fucked up. Then, like, you know the fruit that Adam and Eve ate? That was the mic, and I was passing the mic on to my homies, even though I knew it was bad for them, but it was what they wanted to do.

Eargrub: What should we be expecting next from MIKE?

MIKE: You should be expecting a lot of shit, man. Official video for Belgium Butter, first off. I also have some shit coming out with my brother from [sLUms.], Derricks.Workstation, called “narratives74″. Guy’s fucking talented. But last but not least, for now, be expecting Belgium Butter Blues! It’s a sequel to the tape. Going to drop it on my birthday, hopefully. Planning an event at Reedspace soon, hopefully.

Eargrub: Do you think you make better music due to your lyricism being so personal?

MIKE: I feel like my personal problems make my lyricism better in some way, yeah. The frequent random images and thoughts, they are expressed in my writing, and if you pay attention to the lyrics, you’ll be able to see the transition of things and how they can go from really tense to silly, while still staying on the same theme or point I’m tryna get across.

Eargrub: Tell me a little more about [sLUms].

MIKE: [sLUms]. is a group full of kids like me. Just street kids tryna break from this barrier we’ve been subjected to.  The whole “[sLUms].” idea is not actually about us being street kids. It’s mostly a mental idea. It’s like we’ve been pushed by jobs, schoo,l and other things to be in one catergory; there’s no above, there’s no below. What you’re subject to is what you’re subject to. That’s basically like the idea, and we’re just kids tryna break out of that shit. I mean, even though we won’t be slum-minded forever, we’ll still remember it.

Eargrub: Do you have an overarching message you’d like to end as a rapper?

MIKE: Yeah, I guess. It’d be, like, just being yourself, man. I know that’s really cliche, but at the same time, depending on who you are, it could be really deep. Like, spend every single day trying to figure out who you are. It’s better than following somebody who’s going through the same issue as you.

Eargrub: Who is someone you listen to who we need to be listening to?

MIKE: You should be listening to Jesse James Solomon, you should be listening to Derrick’s.Workstation, definitely King Krule. Uhh, Rejjie Snow’s sick. Mac DeMarco… I fuck with Skepta a lot. I fuck with Princess Nokia, Ratking. Yeah.

MIKE is someone I’m proud to be a fan of. The tone, style, and aesthetic his music displays grips me so tightly as a listener that I cannot help but receive the message that he is putting forth. Today, that is a rarity. I have the upmost confidence he will continue to do this rap shit correctly, as well as impress and surpass all the careless half-baked emcees nowadays that keep trying to get you to download their mixtape. I’d like to thank MIKE for allowing me to ask him these questions. Peep Belgium Butter in its entirety on Eargrub’s Soundcloud below.

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Charlie Johns 

Jon Bellion – The Definition

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Jon Bellion, the New York singer, songwriter and rapper yesterday dropped his follow up to last December’s The Separation. At a age of only 22 years old, Jon is showing of his extraordinary skills as a singer, songwriter and producer. To be honest, Jon Bellion must be one of the most exciting names in music right now, and with his new album The Definition, he makes his name even more interesting. You can stream it below and download it for free from Jon Bellion’s website

-Preben

Flinch & Infuze – Belly Of The Beast Ft. Elan (Trolley Snatcha Remix)

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Lately, I’ve seen artists like Infuze and Twine produce tracks that transcend trap and dubstep and this is a great example of how Trolley Snatcha can take a trap song and make it into a filthy dubstep track. One of my favorite aspects of this song is the original lyrics carrying through to this remix to give the song a real Rastafarian vibe. The delayed bass after the drop is also a nice touch that Trolley Snatcha added into this song. The three artists that created this song are definitely ones to follow (maybe on Soundcloud?) so check ’em out!

– Sam

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P.Keys – 9ine (Prod. Kief Ledger) [Premiere]

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Little is known of P.Keys, a DC based emcee with a knack for trippy beats. However, after listening to 9ine, maybe you have a good idea of what he’s all about. We are ecstatic to premiere 9ine, an upbeat anthem tune that features some incredible production and catchy hooks. Additionally, P.Keys spits some fiery bars which flow effortlessly from kick to snare, snare to kick. P.Keys is seriously making some waves right now, recieving over 60,000 plays on his most recent Mr. Carmack flip. If you haven’t caught onto P.Keys yet, now is the time. Enjoy 9ine.

– Dave

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Kendrick Lamar – i

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Well, the day has finally come. Today, Kendrick released the first single of his hotly anticipated follow-up to the album that changed Hip hop on all fronts, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City. When listening to “i”, I realized that there really isn’t anyone, surely within Hip hop, who talks about significant topics quite like K-Dot. On this new record, Kendrick talks on the matter of self-worth, and the importance of loving one’s self. As per usual, Kendrick does it in a fresh, thoughtful, and catchy way. Kendrick’s ability to produce a record that walks the razor thin line of maintaining appeal to both mainstream radio-frequenters and those who listen to Hip hop on a significantly deeper level has been nothing short of integral to his success and overall influence in Hip hop.  Also, as a side note: not many musicians, let alone rappers, could nail the nasally tone of singing and rapping like Kendrick does. We will be on the lookout for anything having to do with Kendrick’s new album, because even if it has just half of the affect that GKMC had, it will be a seminal contemporary Hip hop album.

Enjoy “i” below.

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Charlie Johns

10 Pints – Short Dawg feat. Ab-Soul and Mac Miller

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Monday is always a good day for a fresh trap track. Today we have Short Dawg releasing a track, recruiting the lyrical talent of Mac Miller for a verse as well as TDE’s Ab-Soul on the hook (as well as a verse of his own). This track is ignorant trap-rap at its finest. You’ve got a real catchy hook and some easily digestible bars, and when you layer those over a banging beat to knock the speakers, you’ve got some real enjoyable music that doesn’t require much reading into. Sometimes that’s what we need, especially on a Monday.

Enjoy “10 Pints” below.

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Charlie Johns

Problem – 354: Lift Off (Extended Review)

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I really didn’t think I needed to write this review. I started by getting onto the project late, being that it was released on DatPiff the 28th of August. To add to that, I’m not terribly familiar with Problem’s discography, which doesn’t do much for the merit of my words and opinions. 354: Lift Off is also just a mixtape. Not many people see it as that helpful to write your opinions on something that isn’t even a studio release. Again, I didn’t think writing about the project would really be worthwhile. However, purely through subsequent listens for my own personal enjoyment, the music demanded to be written about. I would listen and be continually encouraged, rather through a banging beat, an ear-worm hook, or, more often than not, a bar that Problem would spit, to try my best to advocate the pleasure and entertainment that is available to anyone who appreciates Hip hop enough to allow themselves to enjoy a more surface level project such as this.

So, you know that moment in the freestyle rap crowd when someone spits a bar that makes all of their homies run around and scream because it was so great? If not, use this as reference. This is the best way I can describe the lyricism that Problem brings to this mixtape. In my opinion, this type of writing is far too under appreciated in today’s Hip hop, though the public has been getting there thanks to the help of the likes of 2 Chainz and other punchline-oriented rappers. Bars like these draw you in and engage you on a level that is rare to see in music. This is the type of music that, in some cases, we have the most somatic response to. I kid you not, some of these lines genuinely had my jaw dropping.

A lot of this success is due to Problem’s writing leaning heavily toward the Hashtag Rap area of the Hip hop spectrum. To quickly fill in those unfamiliar: Hashtag Rap works off of the simple to understand yet incredibly entertaining writing formula of a set up immediately being followed by a punchline (generally a single word) all in a line, sometimes even squeezing two instances into a single bar. To give an example from my personal favorite track from the tape, Problem spits, “shirt off with my jewelry on, thuggin’ / Hella fly, let me carry on, luggage.” Some other notable gems from the mixtape include: “They love how I maneuver, cruisin’ with a cougar / met her at the club then I banged her in the Hoover” over the beat originally used to create the Migos twerk anthem “Fight Night”, “Got that nine stopping no time soon / laughing in Cancún, trick the whites before I con coons”, and, one of my favorites, “I mob on the moolie, and hit the town with my foolies / like nothing happened, I met a new girl, she came to the house, then nuttin’ happened”. But it really isn’t just this quick, attention-grabbing lyricism that makes the bars so snappy; for that, the praise needs to be pointed at Problem’s delivery. It’s his machine gun flows and his cadence, which stays silky smooth throughout, that really do the bars justice. Additionally, in an odd way, this project embodies all that I think is great about Hip hop. Problem’s voice and delivery have a significant amount of heft to them, which makes his flow momentous. This results in vocals that, when paired with a nice beat, demand attention and exude great swagger and confidence.

Rap that tells a seriously compelling story is some of the best music you can listen to from this genre and, in my own opinion, music as a whole. When created with intention, Hip hop is a form of story telling that can achieve a level of immersion, whether through rhythm, subject matter, or otherwise, that makes any given tale dig deeper into the listener’s psyche. I mean, there’s a lot of legitimate reasons why Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is now the subject to a full-fledged college English course. The writing and lyricism in the album hold so much weight, and that is because they were crafted through thoughtful introspection, resulting in irrefutable depth. So, to reiterate: 354: Lift Off is by no means a flawless piece of music, but it could be seen as a diamond in the rough among the Datpiff exclusive mixtapes that are dropped between other major releases. The project is three things that I can describe some of the music I love the most as: loud, dumb, and fun. This is not a mixtape to be taken seriously, nor one you will hold among classics, but it is one to be enjoyed and kept on repeat.

Personal highpoints:

“Everyday Is My Day” / “Fight Night” / “Hate” / “Chachi Forever”

Personal lowpoints:

“Never Satisfied” / “Sippin On”

You can download the mixtape for yourself over at Datpiff.

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Charlie Johns