All posts in December 2014

Mick Jenkins – 11

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Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins has entered everyone’s Hip hop radar this year with a couple of really quality, thought-provoking releases, and he sneaks one more in with “11”. Mick’s domain is calling out social issues with his conscience lyricism, and on “11” we hear him layering it on as thick and viseral as ever. Jenkins calls out something as fundamentally troublesome as the fact that he “can find your house on Google Earth,” which, though a bit much, is something that needs to be really thought about. Along with that, Mick is a rapper that we all need to be paying more attention to, certainly us Hip hop heads. He has the confidence, skills, lyricism, and mindfulness to be Chicago’s Kendrick Lamar. That’s all I can really say. Past that, drink more water and listen on, family.

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Charlie Johns

Joey Bada$$ – Curry Chicken

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Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ has been masterfully kindling the hype for his upcoming debut B4DA$$ by dropping single after impressive, entertaining, and unexpected single. Most recently, just in time for the holidays, we got “Curry Chicken”, a soulful ode to his mother’s holiday specialty. Each one of Joey’s leaks have been very similar in what they highlight in his development as an emcee. “Big Dusty”, “Christ Conscious”, and  “No. 99″ have all sounded so hungry, with Joey moving away from his laid-back stoner influences to turn around and snap ferociously over some very well-chosen beats. Here, we get a much more relaxed, nostalgic, and thankful Joey speaking on where he came from and his successes. Somewhat surprisingly it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air hearing such an unclenched showing after the last three singles left such a strong and lasting impression. As much as some trap-rappers want it to be so, a project cannot be all energy, and “Curry Chicken” will serve as an excellent breather in B4DA$$. Stay on the lookout for the young homie’s full-length the 20th of January.

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Charlie Johns

Club Rap’s Death Grips, The Rej3ctz (Exclusive Interview)

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I recently got the chance to sit down with Mowii and Bounc3 of the Rej3ctz and ask them some questions about music and their place in it. These two are responsible for the biggest dance craze to hit Hip hop ever, the Cat Daddy. But recently they have quietly been releasing some of the most off-the-wall club music I’ve heard to date. Their musical aesthetic really does speak better for itself than I could ever hope to. On to the interview:

Eargrub: To address this first: tell me about the Cat Daddy.

Mowii: Break it down for him B.

Bounc3: The Cat Daddy is a very, very energetic dance we created a couple years back that lowkey took over LA. We had the video at Venice Beach. If you ever been to Cali, it’s one of the best beaches to come out to, so we took it over. It was a one day shoot where we thought of the video the same day. We called up Chris [Brown] and had him meet us at the park. He actually came to the video shoot even before we did. That was crazy as heck – I don’t know if I can cuss on here…

Eargrub: Oh, homeboy, that shit’s all good.

Bounc3: Aw, fuck yeah! Yeah, we had a lot of fun making that record. It was just a lot of energy. Moods were hella high.

Mowii: We basically created a whole movement out of that. I mean, the Jerk Movement and everything. A lot of artists from the west coast were born from the jerk movement whether they want to admit it or not – some people don’t want to relate to that. At the end of the day, we created something that spawned a whole generation of artists. And it was just fun, that’s what was dope about it. It was around that time where everyone was saying “Hip hop is dead, blah blah blah” and we came in and gave it a breath of fresh air. What did Kanye say? He said this shit was fresh.

Bounc3: Kanye tweeted the video, actually. He was the first celebrity to give us some props.

Eargrub: So how did you move past just a dance craze?

Mowii: That’s very simple. I think you get to a point in your life where you’re tired of just being known for a dance and only being seen in that light. Once you become great at one thing, you’re only as big as that one thing. You have to recreate and reformat your delivery. Once we did that by dropping different types of records, I believe people were able to see past “just the dance,” especially when they started coming to our shows and seeing how live our performances are. I remember one time when we did a show before Ty Dolla Sign, he said “you got to go after me because there is no way in the fucking world I’m going to go on after you guys.” That right there let us know that we were more than people were expecting. That’s why I think you have certain artists like Too Short, will.i.am, who are not just artists. They are fans of this movement. You need to be a fan as well as an artist to live in this shit. Moreover, when you got the hot shit, you just got the hot shit.

Bounc3: It’s a lifestyle for sure.

Eargrub: How would you describe your sound?

Bounc3: Our sound is very universal. Sure, we started off with the “Cat Daddy”, but we do everything. We can do trap songs, EDM tracks, R&B songs, anything. We are just writers, so we do it all.

Eargrub: So you consider yourselves writers more than anything else?

Bounc3: Yeah, yeah. Actually, I take that back – before anything else, we are performers.

Mowii: We’re entertainers. We just like to entertain. And on that note, what’s dope is this: we were in a meeting with Whitney Goldstein, and see was saying how “you guys bridge the gap between these music genres. There’s a major gap missing between the young generation and the older generation. Y’all have a Beastie Boys type sound, but you also have a Hip hop-ignorant sound, but you can also be universal. What you guys do is amazing.” I feel like we are ahead of out time, kind of.

Bounc3: Yeah, definitely. Real talk.

Eargrub: So where does the inspiration come from for this off-the-wall sound?

Bounc3: It really comes from the OG’s in the game, but, on the real, we are dancers at the heart of it. All that shit comes from, like, just hearing the music and knowing the beat.

Mowii: It’s definitely an advantage.

Bounc3: Yeah, we really do have the advantage, being dancers while being in this Hip hop game. All the dancers are poppin’ right now.

Mowii: There is a long list of dancers who have been in the game for a long time. They always take over just because they have a different vibration. We are all energy. When I see a person, I don’t look at the skin tone, I look at the energy. We are waves. Once you understand that we are all frequencies, you are able to touch people of different ethnicities, different colors, religions, and backgrounds.

Eargrub: Let’s hear a bit about the CR33ZTAPE and what went into it, because I really dug it.

Bounc3: The CR33ZTAPE, man. that was just a lot of Rej3ctz love. A lot of people come to us with different stuff, like directing videos, writing songs, helping them get their performance game right. We was just making mad connections. Through those, we put the tape together. My favorite track on the tape has to be the track “C.R.E.E.Z.” If you haven’t seen the video for that shit you need to go on YouTube right now man. The CR33ZTAPE was just a lot of fun.

Mowii: If I can say anything about the CR33ZTAPE I’m going to say this shit: it was before its time. Before anyone else has been on this weird shit or any of that crazy stuff, man, we’ve been doing it! There was so much that went into it, and we did it all ourselves. Most people think that we have this big ass label behind us, but really it’s just us and the brains, which is our manager.

Eargrub: And who was your favorite person to collaborate with on the tape?

Mowii: Honestly, no bullshit: Bounc3.

Bounc3: When we was with Celine Dion the other week he told her that she was his favorite collab.

Mowii: Yeah, because I was trying to be in the Celine D-raws.

Eargrub: God damn dog. That’s wild. Who would you call your dream collaboration?

Mowii: You know what… that’s really easy. Ima say Madonna.

Bounc3: We been trying to work with Madonna for a long time. So, shout out Madonna, you see us workin’ baby.

Mowii: Madonna has not been with a hot new Hip hop group since – I don’t ever know when. I think Madonna and two black guys fucking the stage up would flip the whole world upside down.

Eargrub: So who are some of your favorite musicians? I’m just trying to find this inspiration.

Bounc3: I mean, Madonna, to start. You know, Snoop Dogg and the like. There are a lot of west coast artists, a lot of artists who push us to – who we used to bang with back in the day?

Mowii: You familiar with Fela Kuti? He’s an African trumpet player. When I first got off tour, I didn’t really know none of that shit, and I didn’t really care about any of it. I came from a church background, so all I knew were church musicians. T Fly is a major person I look up to in the game. That’s one of the first producers we were ever working with in the studio. He comes from a church background as well. We also look up to Brian Frasier Moore. He’s a dope drummer. Also, James Brown. He’s the king of Rap. He’s the only motherfucker I know whose not pretty but he’ll have a whole concert behind him. I could talk about musicians for days.

Eargrub: What do you consider “making it”?

Bounc3: For me, it’s just being known and respected around the world. That’s when you know you’ve made it. You can get popular in your city, but when it’s worldwide, that shit’s the plateau.

Mowii: I’m personally at a point in my life where we have the fame, and that’s cool and all, but the most important thing is foundation. We don’t come from broken homes, but we aren’t from the best upbringing. When we can say we’ve made it is when our children won’t have to complain for anything. That’s the day I’ll be able to say I’ve made it because that’s what means the most to me. I just lost my mom – I never really understood the importance of a family. Those are the people you bring along with you, that’s your foundation. When I buried my mother, I realized the only thing I have is my son, and when we can sleep at night and not have to worry about anything, that’s when I can say I’ve made it. That’s the realest shit I can say.

Eargrub: What has changed internally since the “Cat Daddy”? Talk about the evolution a bit.

Bounc3: Well, we are both super old men now. I think we’ve both grown as artists, but we are still just having fun doing music. Mowii got shit poppin’, I got shit poppin’, we got shit poppin’ together. We are just out here working, building our brand.

Eargrub: So what is it like being in a musical group? How do you synchronize?

Bounc3: Well, we’ve been in a group forever. We were first in a dance group together. From that group we started rapping, and so started the Rej3ctz. We have always worked well together, so making music wasn’t that hard. I could go in the booth, lay down the hook, tell Mowii to do the rest, and it will still turn out good. I don’t know what it is, but our energy is just great together. A lot of groups don’t stay together as long as we have. In fact, we aren’t a group, we’re family.

Eargrub: So what’s up next for the Rej3ctz family?

Bounc3: A lot of good music coming out. We hittin’ em with this “Time Machine,” that shit’s crackin’. We’re going to take over the EDM world with more of those types of Rej3ctz tracks. More from DJ Carnage, more from Dillon, we just trying get it crackin’.

Mowii: I think it’s about continuing to make our stamp and really being who we are. We got these movies coming out, we got a clothing line coming out, Bounc3 got his apparel for his group coming out, which is out now. Just expect a lot of great creativity coming from us in the next lifetime. The next couple lifetimes.

Eargrub: And to close, who are we sleeping on?

Bounc3: Uhh, I’m listening to this cat named OG Maco, he’s going ham right now. I be on my Bobby Shmurda stuff right now. He’s a cool cat to listen to, lots of energy. We listen to ourselves, but other than that, that’s what I’ve been bangin’ man. That new T Fly, that new Ty Dolla, I know y’all know about them though. I try to keep my ear open.

If you’re looking to peep the music that bridges genre gaps, check out the CR33ZTAPE via DatPiff.

Charlie Johns

 

 

 

BANKX (feat. IshDARR) – Flex 2 Much (Premiere)

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Milwaukee’s growing Hip hop scene excites the hell out of me. Here we get one of the best in town, our homie IshDARR, connecting with the 16-year-old BANKX on a track in which both emcees show off their talents really nicely. The two rap over spacey, cloudy production that has a resonance that reminds me fondly of Yung Lean and his crew. Initially this doesn’t seem like a sound that would find a home in our cold and sometimes very one dimensional city, but the two rap confidently enough to make it fit. BANKX shows some steady, momentous flow and raps the hook, which is a surprisingly strong earworm. Then, once the production has had time to breath, big brother IshDARR comes in and provides a verse that straight up dances over the beat and helps the song secure its level of significance. The two meshed in a way that make us incredibly proud to be able to premiere this track. Enjoy “Flex 2 Much”.

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Charlie Johns

Death Grips – Inanimate Sensation

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Experimental supergroup Death Grips has returned from their brief silence following their Niggas on the Moon project with “Inanimate Sensation”, a single for Jenny Death, the second and final piece to The Powers That B, a double LP serving the group’s final release. Lately I have been listening to a great deal of Death Grips, mostly in personal efforts to understand the music more deeply. Death Grips’ discography is some the most cavernous music one can listen to. There are always more corners to discover; there are always more treads to unravel. With all of this in mind, I do not think “Inanimate Sensation” is a bad song, though I do think a different single could have multiplied the hype.

Death Grips is made up of three of the smartest dudes in music, and I’m confident that this is song fits into their upcoming album. It does stay very true to its title, with it being so disjointed and uncomfortable. To critique, the first half of this song misses its mark. It wasn’t set enough, as a listener there isn’t much to grab onto. The second half, however, solidifies into something that is more in line with what I’d expect when listening to Death Grips. “Inanimate Sensation” is a wild track;  we got a fragmented pairing of the demonic and the psychedelic. It’s a single that is undoubtably a piece to the puzzle, though I have no idea where it will fit in. Overall, typical Death Grips.

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Charlie Johns

Travi$ Scott – Mamacita (Music Video)

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Travi$ Scott is back with a menacing video for his wildly popular song ‘Mamacita‘. The video features Travis tied up looking like a super villain with the homies Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug mobbing around. The video is very entertaining and it manages to capture Travis’ insane attitude. I’ll let the video do most of the talking. Enjoy!

– Dave

Earl Sweatshirt and Lil Herb – Knucklehead

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Man, this is out of the farthest corner of left field. OF Goliath Earl Sweatshirt meets with the young Drill general Lil Herb to create “Knucklehead”, a track so compact lyrically and unorthodox musically that it has me wondering why these two haven’t shown off their synchrony earlier. To me, what gives this track so much wow factor is how perfect of a blend it is. Even if it’s nearly 2015 and the rap landscape is more one big expanse rather than four or five fenced-in regional sounds, it’s impressive how two rappers so characteristic of their respective cities’ own style can join forces to make something this seamless. Both of these dudes come through with their own lyrical methodology, with Lil Herb speaking of the violent life of a 20-something in Chicago, and Earl exploring the demons that come with an absent father and early-found success. My god, y’all really need to peep this one.

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Herbie: Facebook  Twitter

Charlie Johns

Young Fathers – Soon Come Soon

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We haven’t heard much of anything from Young Fathers since their 2014 release, Dead. Now that we are hearing a single, I’m surprised I didn’t miss them more. All throughout their last three releases, YF have always found a way of genuinely enchanting the listener.  With this, the group fits the ever-growing “experimental” blanket genre more than most. The trio blend African-inspired beats and tempos with industrial production to create a captivating soundscape for their poetic vocals to mingle in. Again, “Soon Come Soon” is the first we’ve heard from the group since earlier this year, but this return is beyond solid. Past that, I applaud Young Fathers for reigniting my anticipation for their forthcoming project.

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Charlie Johns