All posts in October 2014

9 Spooky Songs/Instrumentals

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In honor of Halloween, I present to you all a compilation of hip-hop songs that I believe have different instrumentals and tones. This list is mainly focusing on the instrumental itself, however I will be including the full song itself, for all of these songs are good listens.

The beats I scoured my library for are dark, hollow, heavy, deep, sometimes slow, sometimes fast but most importantly, spooky.

To kick off the list, Young Money.

9. Senile – Young Money (Tyga, Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne)

Tyga, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne all go unbelievably hard on this track. Tyga brings the flow, Nicki hits everyone with A$AP Rocky level cockiness and bravado and Lil Wayne is just insane. “Super-soaker chopper.” C’mon that’s funny.
The instrumental itself is just dark, slow paced and the main part that stands out to me is the sound effect I affectionately refer to as the “alien-piano.” Plunky, hard and generally creepy sounding, especially around Lil Wayne’s verse where the instrumental is gasping other worldly breaths from some musical void. The video also adds to the weird atmosphere.

8. Chrysalis – The Underachievers (Issa Gold & AK)

Those who haven’t listened to the The Underachievers latest project are definitely missing out. There were plenty of ethereal and spacey instrumentals under these guys’ discography, but none do it as creepily as Chrysalis. More fast paced than other entries in this list, mainly due to the beat pattern, this is still an eerie single for The Underachievers. Added with moaning sample and the erratic flows, this is a really great song.

7. Hive – Earl Sweatshirt ft. Casey Veggies & Vince Staples

It’s probably no surprise that an Odd Future song would make it onto a list like this, they could fill up an entire article on creepy instrumentals (There’s a future list). Anyways, Earl’s lethargic flow rides the beat impeccably. This is a very OF style instrumental. I’m particularly into of the additions of the warped piano key strokes during the chorus and the continuous hellish choir harmonizing throughout the track.

6. II. No Exit – Childish Gambino

Everything that I could say about how twisted this song is is self evident. Brown recluses on the ceiling, manic singing and cackling, whisper-rapping, a really tough and dreary, but frantic, instrumental. Gambino knows how to drop an alarming and gloomy song.

5. Parents – Denzel Curry

Denzel Curry, of Raider Klan association, is a young dude with a fresh style. None of his music is particularly happy. He likes his lyrics dark and gritty and his beats just the same. Parents is a really fast paced song with his killer flow, feeling like it ends awfully short, it tortures me cause I always wanna hear more of those rapid fire lyrics. The instrumental is frenzied with it’s layers of buzzing and clicks, among those are the nearly indescribable beat “scratching” and electronic groans. One of my favorite songs off Curry’s full length album, Nostalgic 64.

4. Polo Jeans – Mac Miller ft. Earl Sweatshirt

Similarly to the previous entry, Mac Miller kicks off this song with an impressive flow. This instrumental is a bit more flat sounding than other songs on this list, by that I mean it’s not a banger, it’s not something that’s gonna rattle your brain listening to it in a souped up car. It’s a bit more tame but it’s hollow and ghostly. It’s a different vibe, however it’s a nice one, a sinister one.

3. What They Want – Schoolboy Q ft. 2 Chainz

A lot of people say that What They Want is a filler track in Q’s Oxymoron album. A lot of people say that 2 Chainz crippled the song. A lot of people in general very much disliked this song. I for one don’t understand the hate. This song is straight up grimy. MikeWiLL Made-IT produced beat really compliments the two rappers and their flow, cadence and lyrics. A bucket hat and camouflage trench coat clad Q rapping about drugs, guns, violence and a general degenerate lifestyle, riding around with 2 Chainz and their skeleton crew to strips clubs and having a night on the town, it’s a pretty chilling video and groove.

2. Wonderbread – Danny Brown

One of more lyrically darker and personal tracks on this list, Danny Brown raps about the daily struggles of going to get bread and a drink at the local store. Drug addicts outside of his house, guns going off down the block, drug addicted prostitutes are all things Danny Brown recounts just on the way to the store going up in Detroit. Ending the song with him being jumped and stomped on, this is not a pleasant song to listen to to say the least. All of this is put together over a really disturbing pan flute, giving this a childhood fairy tale vibe, this song is overwhelmingly unsettling.

1. aTENTtion – M.I.A.

aTENTtion is something I’d imagine bumping in some underground futuristic techno-villain lair. Maybe pulsating through the walls at a bleak dystopian club in a sci-fi film. This song has a very interesting rhyme scheme, as you’d imagine from M.I.A. The way “TENT” emphasized on the words, the distorted vocals from not only M.I.A. but the samples of people screaming and groaning mixed with that instrumental, this is definitely my personal choice for creepiest song on the list.

So there you go my friends, 9 songs that’ll likely improve your Halloween spirit. We covered some crazy music videos, impressive lyrical abilities, eerie instrumentals and just generally excellent songs.
Have a great Halloween and stay spooky y’all.

Honorable Mentions:
dozens of Schoolboy Q instrumentals.
any number of Odd Future instrumentals.
everything Death Grips.
Bones & X. Wulf.

Stwo – Her (Majid Jordan Edit)

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HW&W recording artist Stwo is back with a splendid edit of Majid Jordan’s ‘Her’. The song features distorted, emotional vocals paired with some devastating claps and forlorn ambiance. From kick to clap this song oozes emotion, and neglecting to hit the play button may be the biggest mistake you make today. Enjoy.

– Dave

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Ear Candy 01 | Ben Beal

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We are extremely proud to announce the first iteration in our Ear Candy series in collaboration with Always Proper, a collective and record label spanning from coast to coast. Ben Beal steps up to deliver the series in a 20 minute, laid back session of chilled out music. Ben Beal recently released the first part of his tape “Dusk” which you can stream here. For now, enjoy!

– Dave

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Tracklist:

1. Jrny – Beatmachinearon
2. Changes – Harris Cole (w/ Dr. Dundiff)
3. Sunrise – Ben Beal (Prod. Goonf!sh)
4. The Portal – Prxphet
5. Dreamscapes – DeadxBeat
6. BadVibes – Ben Beal
7. Jordans Porch – Ben Beal
8. Mad Future – GRiMM Doza & Flaxeed
9. Loosely Defined – Devonwho
10. Memories – x.LEAN.x
11. Kingdom – Ben Beal

Felly – Schoolzones

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LA native, production savant and experienced emcee Felly has just dropped a brand new single ‘Schoolzones’ which is set to be featured on his upcoming project titled ‘Milk & Sugar’ dropping on October 31st. Honestly, Felly is one of the hottest up and comers in the LA rap and production scene. Experimenting with his craft from the dorms at USC, Schoolzones experiences a switch in the beat around the two minute mark which signifies the return of that classic Felly boom bap feel. This kids got it going, sit back and enjoy.

– Dave

 

Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment – No Better Blues

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Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment are back with one of their most impressive songs to date in terms of lyricism, production and delivery. No Better Blues follows melancholy piano riffs and backing vocals with Chance’s monotone bars laid on top. If this track is a sign of something, it’s the undying talent of this group and the powerful tunes that are sure to follow No Better Blues. Enjoy.

– Dave

 

Sweater Beats – Cloud City

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Damn. I don’t know if I’m just hyped up on bold statements but Sweater Beats is one of the most talented producers out there. This HW&W native and production savant teases his Cloud City EP due October 28th with the title track ‘Cloud City’. Featuring some elegant melodies, vocal chops and devastating bass, Cloud City is a track that should be making your weekend rotation. Enjoy.

– Dave

 

Compulsive – Grand Entrance [Premiere]

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Compulsive, one half of the Swedish production duo OUF, presents us with Grand Entrance, a flowy, trance inducing track backed by exceptional lyrics and unique flow. Inspired by a desire to bring Swedish hip-hop to the forefront, Compulsive has a bunch of tracks planned which are sure to send waves. For now enjoy ‘Grand Entrance’.

– Dave

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F KEY I – OD (Over Do It) (Prod. by Linz Prag and FKi)

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I’m really about the message that Atlanta production duo FKi is putting forth on this track: “if you gon’ do it, ni**a over do it”. This track displays an excellent sound for these two that I personally would love to hear them develop going into the future. This track is 3:06 long, but from comparing the opening vocals to the end of the track, you would rightfully assume these are completely different songs. “OD” goes from RnB vocals to a full out EDM bangers while dipping into some straight up rapping-ass-rapping in between and manages to seem completely coherent and focused. I really don’t know how they did it, but whatever it was, I hope they continue it; fluidity in music, whether throughout a project or in a singular track, is far too under-utilized. Props to you, FKi, mad props to you.

The duo drop their EP Everyday Matters on the 11th of November. Look out for our extended review.

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Charlie Johns

Jay Rock – Parental Advisory

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Oh shit. It’s been far too long, Jay Rock… How’ve you been? Last we heard from the TDE member exclusively was on his studio debut Follow Me Home way back when in 2011. Rock is someone I genuinely hope Hip hop didn’t forget about (though he has pretty much been keeping up through guest verses), because the dude is hard as hell and can rap his ass off. With “Parental Advisory”, we hear a really productive progression in his style, at least from a production standpoint. What really stands out are these twisty, chirpy synths that give the beat some character and a sample from my personal favorite Jay Rock joint, “Dairy of a Broke Nigga” of of his 2010 mixtape Black Friday. Besides that, Jay Rock is still rapping about that hood struggle/lifestyle, which is totally cool with me. He’s one of the best at doing so, after all.

Let’s hope this means a new album is on the way. We’re more than ready for it, Rock.

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Charlie Johns

Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait (Extended Review)

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After dropping an excellent single paired with a pretty fantastic music video, Vince Staples has released his full 7-track EP through Def Jam. My initial thought, shortly after noting how hard the production goes, was Vince’s lyricism. Now, I’ve noticed this with every mixtape of his; he’s always dropping matter-of-fact bars that I don’t think many other rappers would be ballsy enough to even write. His lyricism has a certain eloquent bluntness to it, so hearing that continue wasn’t surprising, but it does always strike me when I listen to his music. It’s just so gritty, it’s so emotionless, it’s so raw. I don’t think anyone else can rap about the plight of a kid stuck in the ghetto quite how Vince does. And, to put it this way: if you listen to Kendrick Lamar and think he is the only one really telling like it is, I suggest you listen to Hell Can Wait. From the time you hear the deep, dark bass kicks on “Fire”, you know the project isn’t going to be cheery, let alone sugarcoated. Alright, since the Hell Can Wait is unfortunately only 7 songs, I’ll touch on a hand full that really caught my attention.

“Blue Suede”: This project was introduced to us by the bold single “Blue Suede”. The track goes deep into some experiemental production, to the point where if I had heard this beat on its own, I wouldn’t have thought anyone could actually rap over it, let alone fit into it well enough to drop a line like “ hit the corner, run up on ‘em, turn a nigga to Spaghetti-O’s”. The only worrisome thing about the single was if Vince could keep this sort of performance up for the full release. And, spoiler alert, he did.

“Hands Up”: Okay, the big thing I really dig about this project is how consistent it is while still managing some variety to keep the EP from blending into one big overly themed package (AKA My Krazy Life syndrome). “Hands Up” is an example of this. Once Vince’s verse kicks off, the beat is feeling pretty robust; sirens are going off and 808’s are giving the production some really nice body. Then, after the hook, this farty synth is introduced to the mix that 100% sets the track off for me. Probably my personal favorite track of the EP, but that could also be because of how compellingly it uses the “fuck the police” Hip hop cliché.

“Screen Door”: Nothing is without its flaws, eh? At about 53 seconds in on the track “Screen Door”, a line of high hats is introduced that are incorporated pretty atrociously. And to add to that, the hook doesn’t blend too well into the project as a whole. It slowed down the flow of the EP, honestly. For a project like this where we are essentially carried through by knocking bass-heavy production and Vince casually delivering lyrical haymakers, a droning chorus like this halts all momentum that we’ve created from the first two tracks being too hot to touch.

“Limos”: It’s safe to assume you’ll find at least one song on any given Vince Staples release that deals with the theme of lost love. One would think this would clash with his thuggish persona, but to his credit he has been getting better and better at making those tracks fit into his releases cohesively. On Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1 we had “Taxi”, on Vol. 2 we had “Earth Science”, and now we have “Limos”. Production wise, this track is probably the most you’ll hear EP divert from its overall sound (at least melodically) but it still sounds so at home on this project, and Hell Can Wait wouldn’t be the same experience without it.

In summary: Vince Staples’ Hell Can Wait is absolutely 100% a seminal rap project for this year. It’s gritty, it knocks, and it’s a sound that you haven’t gotten anywhere else in Hip hop in the last several years, let alone in 2014. His production is noisy, harsh, and grimy, but it goes superbly with his brutally honest and macabre lyricism. Going forward, this EP is what I’ll be sending people to if they ask about Vince. I think it’s fully justifiable to say that this is his best work. Bruh, and I thought Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 was dope. You can peep his project here before you see it on all the “best of” year end lists. Enjoy.

Personal high points:

“Fire” / “Hands Up” / “Blue Suede” / “Limos”

Personal low points:

“Screen Door”

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Charlie Johns