Call of War – Millytae ft. Gwaii (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It is nice to know that in this world were a lot of rap and hip-hop has been dumbed down to mumbling bedroom wannabes talking in street tough cliches over the same off the shelf meandering beats, that occasionally you can still stumble across something which reminds you of the golden age.  Call of War has a wonderful swagger about it, like an old school hip-hop classic but is nothing if not forward looking, talking in the language of today and adding a real street edge and dark anticipation through the choice and flow of words.  It is sharp, punchy and for a change revels in its own lyricism, something which seems to have ironically been lost from the genres which arose from a cappella street poetry. Throw in Gwali’s more reggae-vibe, vocal interludes and you have the perfect combination of styles, genres and eras.

Continue reading “Call of War – Millytae ft. Gwaii (reviewed by Dave Franklin)”

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From Then Til’ Now 2011 – 2015 – Fabp aka Fabpz the Freelancer (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

FROM THEN TIL NOW 2011-2015 - FABP.jpgThis is the third time I have reviewed a release from this artist in as many months, you can’t deny that he has to be one of the hardest working rappers out there. You would have thought that by now I would be getting quite familiar with his style, his approach, his attitude towards making music. Well, to be honest the more I hear the less sure of where he fits in to the grand scheme of things and this 4 year retrospective doesn’t help to clarify things much.

But that is the sort of artist I like, one who deals in curveballs, swerves expectation and gives you not what you want but what you never in realised that you wanted. This hefty musical tome embraces hip-hop, rap, reggae, urban electro, R&B and more but it is how they are joined together, (w)rapped around each other or somehow brutally collided that produces the goods. It’s raw, roughly woven, roots, underground and lo-fi. You will recognise the building blocks but the finished sonic architecture will make you think twice about what urban music can be in the modern age and more importantly where it might be going.

Spiritual – 4 Wheel City (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

4-Wheel-City-CoverWhilst many rappers and hip-hop artists seem content to sing about personal gain, the glitz, the glamour, the game, of getting the trappings that seem to go hand in hand with the genre, 4 Wheel City find their inspiration in higher concerns. The album title immediately tells us that the writing comes from a deeper and more meaningful place but this is more than an album of devotional music thought. It discusses a wide range of subjects, social issues, political events, persistent day to day problems and universal world concerns.

Proving that terms such as rap, hip-hop and urban music are too broad to really be of much use, Namel “Tapwaterz” Norris and Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez have created an album that neither revels in the past glories of the genre nor simply settles for a commercial route to chart success and a quick buck. Instead they deal with big issues head on, whilst setting eloquent and often elegant words, to music that redefines what those genres can be in the modern age.

Songs such as Burning of the Tiki Torches are particularly powerful, discussing the broad and broken political landscape and calling for unity and Disabled Lives Matter looks at hot topics such as the Puerto Rican floods from the point of view of how it affects those less able to deal with the physical aspects of such a disaster. A song made all the more poignant with a similar storm currently battering the US east coast even as I write this. Leaders of The New World looks at a possible future inspired by people turning away from greed and exploitation and leading by example and Music sees them celebrating the part that creativity plays in their life.

It’s a fascinating album, one that flys in the face of mumbling bedroom rappers searching for a celebrity life-style that seems to have become the norm. It looks the grim reality’s of the modern world straight in the eye and forces the listener to engage in the discussion. It pushes generic boundaries beyond the streets where it grew up and into a sort of provocative urban world music. It is also a timely reminder that music can indeed be a powerful force, can be used as a platform to cause debate, can make the listener both feel and think, two things that seem in short supply in these dark modern days.

Scene and Heard – CCCLXXXVII : Anytime –  SillyKing Denny (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

61C+N-6p2fL._SS500If rap and hip-hop are defined by the lyrical flow and the delivery of the message that lies at the heart of the song, then SillyKing Denny is someone who fans of those genres won’t fail to notice. His ability to blend busy and energetic vocals with some sweet and soulful tones stands him apart form the pack immediately and with the music happy to merely frame his deliveries he builds the perfect platform to promote his talents.

Musically, gentle soul vibes and R&B grooves effortlessly drive the song, soulful and sophisticated rather than the usual bombastic blasts, skittering trap beats and warped electronica that the rest of the pack seem so enamoured with. And it is this mix of early hip-hop, soulfulness and easy accessibility that means that it will have wide appeal. The cool kids on the street with dig its vibe, the old schoolers will pick up on the vocal deliveries and the pop set will love the lazy, lilting  loveliness of it all. Why try to act tough and sing your own praises when you can charm the audience with a song that naturally does that for you? SillyKing Denny is more than aware that this is the way to go.

Scene and Heard – CCCLXXXI : God Flow (No Sucka MC’s 6) – ether.UNLIMITED (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

tmzSbman_400x400Not every piece of music has to start revolutions, similarly not every track has to merely re-invent the wheel, and between the cutting edge and the tried and tested you find ether.UNLIMITED, a blend of old-school, grooving hip-hop, confident street level rap and skittering backbeat vibe. Okay, we have all heard something similar before, sort of, it’s built on a certain familiarity, for sure, and sticks faithfully to the rap canon of cool flow and edgy content but it is also cohesive, glossy, stylish, and sophisticated, as the unique melodies get compressed through a hypnotic and powerful delivery.

So whilst tipping its hat to the past, God Flow pushes out to the future too, smooth electronica fills the space between glitchy trap percussion and the eloquent, top end rap and the end result is a confident forward step into hip-hops bright new future.

And if you like what you hear, you can vote for this track in RhymeStars online rap contest HERE and help shape the sound of the future.

 

 

Never Again –  So Unique (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

banner1We already knew that So Unique was someone not to be crossed, Final Warning told us everything we need to know on that score, and now, as if to drive the point home, she delivers Never Again. If that previous single was seen as a warning that she was coming, that the Florida hip-hop scene and the world at large should get ready, then Never Again shows that she is not going to tolerate being played around by anyone. She is not a girl to get mad, she is a girl to get even. You have been warned.

Revelling in the past is all very well and good but the best music, or at least the most original,  seems to be made as people move things forward. It’s evolution, it’s forward-thinking, it is the way the world turns. So Unique and in particular, Never Again is the sound of the world turning and music moving into pastures new. Yes, you can break the song apart and find very recognisable musical building blocks being used, but it is what they are used to build which is the real charm.

Over a lazy and sultry hip-hop groove she hangs soulful vibes, trippy electronica, deft and razor sharp rap flows and a wonderful use of space and anticipation. What is so clever about her approach at finding new ways forward, new directions for hip-hop, rap and the various urban music threads which lie at the core of this music is that instead of pushing outwards into more tenuous and fractured realms, as some artists are trying to do, she instead looks inward to rap, pop, R&B and even an inherent soulfulness, under its sharp teeth and don’t mess attitude to create her sound. Whereas so many of his fellow artists are trying to create music by blending disparate genres which have no business hanging out with each other into chimeric and unsatisfying new styles, So Unique reunites hip-hop with its pop roots.

The result is the best of both worlds as Never Again drives on a confident, even aggressive lyrical flow and is underpinned by a real old school urban groove, trippy-trappy beats and some equally intriguing and intricate music details, glitchy sounds and strange peripheral motifs.

And that is what this song is all about, it tips its hat to the past whilst shaping the future and it does really feel like a first, a bold step forward, a post-genre style that pushes beyond the rules and regulations, ignores the fickle finger of fashion and has no time for musical guardians and narrow-minded pedants telling it what hip-hop, pop, rap, electronic dance music or any other genre should be about. And anyway, if you did have a problem with where So Unique is going musically, are you going to be the one to tell her? I thought not!

Scene and Heard – CCCLXXVII :  No Sleep Feat. Rf Timbo – Pete Guapeton  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

35986733_2161077480845707_4347285946194984960_nThe real charm of No Sleep is that the music perfectly matches the nocturnal feeling of the subject matter. There is an element of somnambulism about it, as if the listener is sleep walking through a musical dream where ambient hip-hop, pulsing bass lines and skittering beats form the soundtrack. The space left in between the beats, the notes and the lyrics allow atmosphere and anticipation to be just as important as the hypnotic, and often warped, lyrics and the spacious beats and the result is something smoke-like and transient.

Urban music is always looking for somewhere new to go, new territories to explore and rather than push harder into the realm of musical bombast and sonic brawn, No Sleep takes the cleverer move and strip things back into a cloaked and nocturnal blend of cool R&B, rap and almost gothic hip-hop. How cool is that?

Scene and Heard – CCCLXXVI : Strapped Up – Carolina Ty  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

38267339_784571275061997_588297467422834688_nAmerica might be starting to have a conversation about problems with guns, in schools, in white middle class communities and patting itself on the back for making progress but in some parts of society the problems go much deeper and this is what lies at the heart of Carolina Ty’s message. What if guns have become a necessary evil? What if, for some, they have become something upon which your very survival is based? What if the system is against you and the only way to feel safe is to cross the line into a place which invites more danger than it protects against. That is the dichotomy, the battle that is going on in the song.

Musically Strapped Up references those 90’s hip-hop pioneers who were willing to present such debates to a national audience, to comment on the rot and inconsistency in society and do it via confident and challenging raps. It moves with the times too, employing skittering trap percussion and shimmering electronica but the real issue here is that whilst the music that carries the message may have changed to some degree, it’s the same conversation that we have been having, or actually not having, for decades. But Carolina Ty knows that just because nothing seems to be changing, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep raising the questions and what better way than via vibrant and powerful music.

Scene and Heard – CCCLXXV : Cobra CMDR – Paradame  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

ParadameBannrGreen-1024x653The great thing about Paradame is that on the surface of things, her music seems to fit into some fairly neat boxes, exploring soul, pop, R&B and urban music strands. But the more you listen too it the more you realise just how subversive it actually is and that the reason that you didn’t pick up on its outsider qualities straight away was because songs like Cobra CMDR come wrapped in a brilliant sonic trojan horse. It is music which seems to be easily identifiable on the outside but has so many hidden depths and by the time you realise that it has managed to get past any musical prejudices or genre snobbery that might have got in the way.

It is a dark, sultry and edgy piece of sci-fi infused sonics, sitting somewhere at the centre of the perfect storm of street rap deliveries, dystopian pop, glitchy electronica and commercial infectiousness, a song that doesn’t follow the usual template, which is cool and cultish yet which is instantly memorable and clever enough to get a mainstream following with ease.

And visually it does something just as clever too. In many videos the women are just the material trappings of a male music master, not quite as important as the car, the bling, the weed, the money. Even when a supposedly liberating female popster appears to be calling the shots there is still often an obvious undercurrent of them playing a stereotypical image for the music money men. Paradame offers something new. These women are projecting real power here. Yes, they are projecting a sexy and sultry image too, but on their own terms and would you walk into that room alone? And if you did would there be any doubt who was in control?

As she proved on the brilliant Aye! Priori from which this track is taken, Paradame is not about trying to change things from the outside, about creating alternatives to the mainstream, underground scenes or new genres for the sake of it. She is about showing those with more mainstream tastes what they are missing, that music can be both challenging and chart accessible, that music doesn’t have to follow a lowest common denominator to be successful. Clever pop music, it would seem, is back on the menu. I bet you didn’t see that one coming?

Dirty Lil’ Communications – Fabp aka Fabpz the Freelancer (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

DIRTY LIL COMMUNICATIONS (GRAPIC) - FABP.jpgProving that there is a still plenty of sonic exploration to be done in the very broad urban music field, Fabp has delivered an album which thwarts expectations. It’s very easy to see the musical building blocks he uses to create this suite of eleven songs, a gentle, often ambient hip-hop, restrained and spacious sung-raps, reggae grooves, R&B melodies and strange electronic pop hybrids. In that respect he is working in fairly familiar territory but as always it isn’t about the basic materials but what you build with them that counts. You don’t look at the nature of the bricks when you are being beguiled by the architecture.

It’s an album which adds some unexpected elements to the hip-hop/rap music mix. There is an understatement and a wonderful space created by the unhurried and chilled nature of the delivery. Even more surprising are songs like Greatest Artists which somehow come on like a bit of a boast but which are actually dripping with a humble, matter of fact poignancy.

Dirty Lil’ Communications shows that not every song has to be big and clever, has to try too hard to show off and play the role of the alpha male. Sometimes just forging an original path, being brave enough to do your own thing and not follow the musical fads and fashions is its own reward. Fabp isn’t leader of the pack for one simple fact. He is so far ahead of the pack that they barely know how to follow him.

Scene and Heard – CCCLXI: G Code –  Pelle Price (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

lpcppmlghhgaoeopIf the term devotional music conjures images of straight laced artists following the same old templates, of fervent gospel or august choral music then Pelle Price is hear to change your perceptions. For whilst G-Code is very much an expression of his faith and world view, of spiritual concerns over material ones, it is done so in a very cool way.

Fast and fluid rapped lyrics, hard hitting musical dynamics and a track that is simultaneously effortlessly smooth and fresh, exciting and edgy. Everything moves with the times, evolves and changes to represent the world it finds itself and so it is only natural that the modern artist would use the latest sounds and the most cutting edge styles to create the music that best expresses their feelings. And Pelle Price is the perfect messenger for our times, speaking in a language that is relevant and exciting. The sentiment may be as old as civilisation itself but that doesn’t mean that the delivery system can’t be the most effective and up to date.

Change My Mind – DEVMO  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

ii_jjst3qcr0_164b380c6cd82db8I’m always wary around rap, hip-hop, urban…call it what you will… music. Not that there is inherently anything wrong with such genres, of course not,  it’s just that as part of my music writing income there is a place where I am employed to review new, emerging and unsigned music from a more A’n’R point of view. It means that most of it is low budget, most is pretty unreconstructed and most of it is rap. And sadly for every one shinning gem I find, I have to wade through dozens of mumbling, bedroom based, self-aggrandising misogynists blending trap beats with whatever pre-programmed electronica was on the pre-settings of their Casio keyboard. Thankfully DEVMO is everything that is not.

It just goes to show you that even though Change My Mind is constructed using a lot of the same sonic building blocks, skittering trap beats, glitchy and pulsing electronica, fast and flowing rap and edgy and socially poignant lyrical content, it does a number of things that those urban wannabes don’t. It makes clever sonic choices, offers interesting arrangements, uses its imagination and wanders wilfully across the dynamic spectrum. Everything that the aforementioned also rans could only dream of.

Changed My Mind in particular wanders through some dark and sensual places, flitting between and flirting with both the profound and the profane, it bears its soul and throws caution to the wind and Kylie Jenner is a mesh of intense pop textures, futuristic dreamscapes and celebrity adulation. Get My Shit Together is a hip-hop-pop hybrid, all off-kilter dance groove and slick word play. The individual sonic components may be familiar but the way they are put together is astounding. A builder may stack bricks but it takes an architect to create beauty.

In a world where I often feel that rap music has gone down a certain rabbit hole, DEVMO is the Alice that holds a mirror up to Wonderland by showing it how ridiculous it is, just by not following the rules. It pricks its bubble of pretension and self-importance and reminds me that there are indeed artists who represent a bright new future for the genre. You just have to know where to look.

 

Scene and Heard – CCCLVIII : Fashion Man – Milly Tae (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

34258520_1809550765773425_4792166436900438016_nIf hip-hop started on the street corners, the social halls and basement  parties of the South Bronx, it has certainly come a long way both musically and geographically speaking since those formative days. And if those early a cappella battle raps and gang related power plays sit at one end of that timeline, Milly Tae’s Fashion Man sits at the other. Where there was dark and edgy music from the street, now we are offered its slick, effortlessly cool and ultra modern offspring.

It revels not only in upmarket fashion but uptown musical smarts, it runs on a skittering but groovesome beat, trap-rap percussive moves, delicate and beguiling electronica and confident and forward thinking vocal deliveries. This is urban music not just for the here and now but for the future, and the future has never seemed so cool or sartorially elegant.

Scene and Heard – CCCLVI : Let ‘Em Have It – Abstract 90008 & Trap Des (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

avatars-000435394857-7r51mm-t500x500It is nice to know that in this world were a lot of rap and hip-hop has been dumbed down to mumbling bedroom wannabes talking in street tough cliches over the same off the shelf meandering beats that occasionally you can still stumble across something which reminds you of the golden age. Let Em Have It swaggers like an old school hip-hop classic but is nothing if not forward looking, talking in the language of today and adding a real street edge and dark anticipation through the choice and flow of words.  It is sharp, punchy and for a change revels in its own lyricism, something which seems to have ironically been lost from the genres which arose from a cappella street poetry.

East Coast lyrical dexterity meets underlying West Coast swagger, golden age 90’s vibes but laced with the fresh and exploratory sound of the contemporary scene, Abstract 90008 & Trap Des deliver the perfect blend of familiarity and forward thinking, of knowing your place in musical history and being brave enough to write your own chapter. The lyrics are filled with street philosophy and social commentary and land perfectly on the listener with style and confidence and the whole affair is spacious, allowing every word and every beat room to breathe and so work more effectively. A game raising musical slice if ever there was one.

Scene and Heard – CCCLI : All of a Sudden – Day Smoove (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

29067060_1571631816291877_6915047979653005312_oNot every piece of music has to start revolutions, similarly not every track has to merely re-invent the wheel, and between the cutting edge and the tried and tested you find Day Smoove and his latest track All of a Sudden, a blend of old-school, grooving hip-hop, confident street level rap and  skittering backbeats vibe. Okay, we have all heard something similar before, sort of, it’s built on a certain familiarity, for sure, and sticks faithfully to the rap canon of cool flow and edgy content but it is also cohesive, glossy, stylish, but also edgy and raw. Music that knows where it wants to go but hasn’t forgotten where it has come from.

But like any music worth its salt in the broad field of urban music, it is all about the lyrical delivery and Day Smoove makes his point via a strangely beguiling and brilliantly poetic flow. Musically there isn’t a lot between the beat and the vocals, some skittering electronica and little else but it is that space that leaves room for the lyrics to land with the required weight. Anyone who can create this much of an impact without breaking into a sweat knows exactly how music works. Less is more? Absolutley.

Shinobi Tempura – Panda T (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

IMG_2060Hip-Hop has come along way from the street corners and community centres of late 70’s South Brooklyn and whilst musically it still holds on to the same beats and rhythms, raps and rhymes as it has travelled through time and across the world from its difficult birth on those tough streets it has in turn continued to evolve. Like all music bends and bows to other cultures, other sounds, other fashion and the hip-hop of today is a varied and mercurial beast.

Panda T and the Shinobi Tempura is a classic example of the growth of the genre taking in elements as disparate and diverse as Japanese culture, ambient alt-pop, rap, urban dance, found sounds taken from film and media as well as the more expected rapped lyrics and poetic flow. It is not only the best of old school influences and new generic explorations, it is also a deft blend of east and west, of orient and occident, intricacy and directness, the profound and the profane.

Revelling in the past is all very well and good but the best music, or at least the most original, seems to be made as people move things forward. It’s all about evolution, it’s about forward-thinking, it is the way the world turns and Shinobi Tempura is the sound of the world not only turning but shrinking as cultures collide and new music is forged from the heat of these interactions. Panda T pulls together various urban strands, skittering trap beats, hip-hop rhythms , cool rap flows and strange and glitchy electro-groove musical motifs and even a few sultry R&B tones and smooth, late night smokey vibes as well as the references and explorations of Japanese culture.

Ocean View has a really chilled, ambient feel, sun drenched and sassy, effortlessly cool and ultra hip, whilst Ricky The Ruler is built from brooding drama and staccato rhymes. Hulu is an intense blast of word play and Erykah Badu is a confident and groovesome opening salvo.

It’s an album that tips its hat to the past whilst shaping the future and it does really feel like a first, a bold step forward, a post-urban style that pushes beyond the rules and regulations. Ignores the fickle finger of fashion and has no time for musical guardians and narrow-minded pedants telling it what hip-hop, pop, rap, trap, electronic music or any other genre should be about.

And it is this addictive combination of hypnotic vocal delivery and trippy accessibility which really moves the ball forward, breaks out of the comfort zones and offers a new take on an old sound. It is the perfect eulogy for the streets, the hustle, the hassle, the grime and the game, it plays to stereotypical images but it drips with dark reality. If ever rap music spoke of the lives and aspirations of the young urban experience, this is where it is said most eloquently in raps own first language.

Change Up – Ben Green (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

33923415_846622298856242_3112983328249085952_oThere is one line in particular that stands out on this debut from Ben Green, “Don’t go dumb while the world goes stupid, gotta stay above it all keep that bird’s eye view,”  a phrase charged with a lot of relevance to the world today. It could refer to anyone, the everyday person in the street, a message to stay informed and not get taken in by other people’s tricks, traps and trolling.

It could refer to the aspiring artist, a reminder to stay focused and not be distracted by the things which aren’t important in the long run. It could also refer to the big picture, to the games and machinations of the political classes and world leaders getting caught up in their own agenda’s and forgetting who they really work for. Take which ever meaning that works for you, take all of them, that’s the great thing about the fluidity of lyrics and the ability to derive your own meaning from them.

As a piece of music it neatly encompasses where urban music is today. You can hear the echo of hip-hop pioneers and rap originators in its electronic rhythms and trippy trap percussion, the reserved lyrical flow and its late night, ultra cool hazy vibe. All music should push the genre forward, if you can do so whilst making people think then all the better.

Web: BGreenMusic.com

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/benjamingreeen

Instagram: @Benjamingreeen

Twitter: @Bengreen717

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bengreeenmusic/

Reverb Nation: www.reverbnation.com/bengreen7

Millennial Sound – Jackson Whalan (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a0230420296_16What a breath of fresh air. In a world that sees new music scribblers and celebrators of emerging artists bombarded with cliched, mumble rap set to that same trap beat and taking that same self-aggrandising lyrical tough man act in an effort to just gain more views, likes, followers, money, gold, cars, houses… ad infinitum, it is great to come across someone working in the very broad urban music field that really breaks the mould.

And that is no overstatement, no parabolic soundbite that I can’t back up, just listen to the album, its easy to justify such a declaration. Old School hip-hop flow and rap abounds, you know, the sort of deliveries that actually landed with a punch to the brain and are mixed with re-appropriated spoken word pieces, juggled and juxtaposed. The beats strut confidently across the tracks and the groove is the clear king here but it is what is going on behind, beyond and between these structures which is the real charm. Glitchy electronica, classical sweeps, funky basslines, mutant dance and futuristic space noise all weave around the more expected sounds.

And lyrically too there is a lot to like because Whalan has something to say. Subjects move from climate change to conspiracy theory, the power of music, of love, loss and longing, of the world at large and the small stories that fill every pavement and every home. Of hopes, dreams and drama, fear for the future, solace in the past. Even the title is a challenge. We all know these millennials have little to contribute and nothing to say, live in their own little social media bubbles and have few original thoughts, they said so on Fox News right? Well, if Jackson Whalan’s quirky and brilliant collection of sounds and thoughts does just one thing, it forces you to totally rethink that cliched idea. About time.

Scene and Heard- CCCXXII: Longnight – John (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

hqdefaultNot every piece of music has to start revolutions, similarly not every track has to merely re-invent the wheel, and between the cutting edge and the tried and tested you find John and his latest track Longnight, a blend of old-school, grooving hip-hop, confident street level rap and  skittering backbeats vibe. Okay, we have all heard something similar before, sort of, it’s built on a certain familiarity, for sure, and sticks faithfully to the rap canon of cool flow and edgy content but it is also cohesive, glossy, stylish, and sophisticated, as the unique melodies get compressed through a hypnotic singsong delivery.

It’s wonderfully laid back to the point of being ambient and chilled, lazy in a good way and wandering slowly along on a hypnotic and restrained beat that is built as much on atmosphere and anticipation as much as it is on beats and bars. But like any music worth its salt in the field of urban music, it is all about the lyrical delivery and John makes his point via a strangely beguiling and brilliantly poetic flow. There may be more space than content going on in his music but surely that is the art of it. Anyone who can create this much of an impact without breaking into a sweat knows exactly how music works. Less is more? Absolutley.

Scene and Heard – CCCXIX : Trial & Error (ft. Nathaniel) – Gibrilville (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

32214762_1834791889912310_3842437696173637632_nTrial & Error sits at a fascinating crossroads being a track that tips its hat to the past whilst shaping the future and it does really feel like a first, a bold step forward. It goes beyond its run of the mill, mass produced rivals instead revelling in a post-urban style that pushes beyond the rules and regulations. It effortlessly ignores the fickle finger of fashion and has no time for musical guardians and narrow-minded pedants telling it what hip-hop, pop, rap, trap, electronic music or any other genre should be about.

It’s a confessional, of sorts, making no apologies but understanding that we are all people just trying to make ends meet, just getting by, just trying to survive and doing whatever that requires. It plays with R&B grooves, rap flow, trippy electronica, modern hip-hop make-overs and trappy percussion. In this post-genre, post-tribal musical world, this feels like the perfect way forward for urban music.

Scene and Heard – CCCXVIII : Shocking Place –  Drive With Me (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Drive_With_Me_CoverHip-hop and rap are very good at self-aggrandisement, of showing off, revelling in personal gain and glorifying material wealth. So it is wonderfully refreshing to come across videos like Shocking Place and artists like Drive With Me who are about raising social awareness and acts of altruism. It also shows that the artist has an awareness of just how powerful  music and film can be, especially when used together to become more than the sum of their parts.

Shocking Place is an eye opener, a real look into the dark underbelly of modern society, a place where the forgotten and the dispossessed try to eek out a difficult existence, in some cases struggling to merely survive. And with a track that blends old-school swagger and modern sonic exploration, trippy electronica, trap-rap skittering beats and an urgency and angst to the vocals that underlines the desperation of the situation, it forms the perfect desolate sound track to the situation.

An ode to the City of Fallen Angels, to Lost Angeles, a reminder that as much as politicians promise change, nothing does, its a call to arms, but arms that will embrace and bring hope to those who have fallen through the cracks of society. Change comes one song, one video, one gesture at a time. What are you going to do to help bring change? 

Scene and Heard – CCCXIII: Drive ‘n’ Text – Robert Boog (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

robert-boog-72ba569By his own admission, Robert Boog isn’t a natural musician, but he is  naturally a creative soul, as a string of work in literature and movie script-writing will attest to. And like all creatives he knows that it is the idea and the ability to make something happen rather than just the performance which is the key thing. The wonders of the modern age means that you can take your ideas and connect with others, bring in the people and the skills that enable you to get you across the finishing line and very often do it without even leaving your office chair. And that is exactly what he has done here.

Drive ’n’ Text sits at a place on the musical Venn diagram where hip-hop shares space with a dark infomercial, one, as the name suggests, about the dangers of texting whilst driving and narrated from the point of view of death watching on. But whilst being informative, it also cuts it as a great piece of urban music, is delivered via flowing narratives and confident beats, the street-level language making the message even more poignant and the easy groove of the song making it totally accessible.

Not only a great use of a musical platform, not to mention a good tune, it is thought provoking and poetic in a grime and realistic sort of way but more than that it is a testament to the ability to come at such a project as a non-musician and through the power of technology and collaboration to end up with something really cool.

Pow! – Big Toast and Jack Diggs (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Jack-Diggs-Big-Toast-Call-It-On-AlbumAny track that is topped and tailed with the strains of Withnail and I wins my respect irrespective of what they do to fill the space between those soundbites. For these are clearly people of taste and didn’t a wise man once say that there are two sorts of people in this world, those who know it to be the greatest, not to mention most quotable, film of all time and those who have yet to see it. No, well they should have.

Although pursuing their own, separate careers, Big Toast and Jack Diggs have been collaborating on various projects for over a decade and now present Call It On, the full length album which is home to this track. There is something of the Sleaford Mods vibe but only because like them they have re-worked old-school, gritty UK hip-hop sounds, samples garnered from crate digging, studio deftness and an ear for the cool, clock themselves in the same urban anti-fashion and deliver a brutal scatter gun salvo of lyrics and poetic flows.

I guess I make the reference mainly because the aforementioned Nottingham agitators are the best known of the genre but turn a few stones, look down a few dark alleyways, find a few underground clubs and invite only parties and you will find acts like this and a whole wealth of talent that are ready to give them a run for their money.

 

Eye For An Eye – Leon Vic (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

cover_pic_180404031306.jpegRevelling in the past is all very well and good but the best music, or at least the most original, seems to be made as people move things forward. It’s all about evolution, it’s about forward-thinking, it is the way the world turns. Eye For An Eye is the sound of the world turning and music moving into pastures new. Leon Vic pulls together various urban strands, skittering trap beats, hip-hop rhythms , cool rap flows and strange and glitchy electro-groove musical motifs and even a few sultry R&B tones and smooth, late night smokey vibes.

It’s a track that tips its hat to the past whilst shaping the future and it does really feel like a first, a bold step forward, a post-urban style that pushes beyond the rules and regulations. Ignores the fickle finger of fashion and has no time for musical guardians and narrow-minded pedants telling it what hip-hop, pop, rap, trap, electronic music or any other genre should be about.

And it is this addictive combination of hypnotic vocal delivery and trippy accessibility which really moves the ball forward, breaks out of the comfort zones and offers a new take on an old sound. It is the perfect eulogy for the streets, the hustle, the hassle, the grime and the game, it plays to stereotypical images but it drips with dark reality. If ever rap music spoke of the lives and aspirations of the young urban experience, this is where it is said most eloquently in raps own first language.

As a calling card for his forthcoming EP, Forever on Some High, this is the perfect teaser to make you want to explore his world, his attitude and his music much more closely. Urban music, it would appear,  just took a bold step into the future….

Just Drums & I (Pt. 2) –  Cult Cannon (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

28277203_2090819941163141_6200985290961137871_n-1 2.jpgThis takes me back. Remember when you had bands like Credit To The Nation forging their music by crossing into, what was back in their nineties formative years, enemy territory and liberally sampling its classic sound to build a new style of hip-hop. Remember when you had bands like Disposable heroes of Hiphopricy blurring the line between rap and spoken word, exploring the big, wide world yet still talking about the street and the lives of those on it. Well, in many ways Cult Cannon is the descendent of those genre-hopping, musical exploratory, gene splicing bands.

He takes the instantly recognisable beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You, ironically probably  the most middle class, conservative and safe band to have existed, the most finite epitome of “white boys with guitars” there has ever been, and subverts it into an edgier, street level rap-rant. Where as before it was a stadium anthem of near meaningless proportions, it now becomes the basis of something much more poignant. It takes swipes at Hollywood and those celebrities who have fallen from grace, name checks porn stars and blends ideas and attitudes which confuse and collide but always keep you thinking.

But whilst it plunders the past to create its core sound, it also reminds us of one path that hip-hop took before it largely settle down to a life of cash, celebrity and formulaic complacency. Just Drums & I is also a call to arms for the future. Time to break the mould, return to the fundamentals, the beat and the lyrical flow, of having something to say and of having that message relatable and though provoking. And that is exactly what is going on here.

The clever thing about what Cult Cannon does with this song is that he wilfully and with grooviness aforethought crosses boundaries. He combines the familiarity of a rock classic with the flow of his cutting edge rhymes, he brings the past and uses it to drive music into the future, he takes stadium bombast and uses it to drive an underground vibe, he takes a swipe at global events from the street corner. The best music occurs when worlds collide, not when it is forced and over thought, planned to meet market requirements or ticks enough commercial boxes but when it comes together naturally. Just Drums & I is as natural as a walk in the park. At night. In the wrong part of town.

Download Cult Cannon at….

www.reverbnation.com/cultcannon

Social media:

www.instagram.com/cultcannon

www.twitter.com/cultcannon

www.facebook.com/cultcannon

All The Fine Ladies (Live At South Beach) –  Go Go Satish (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

iuWe already know that Satish can deliver the goods in the studio, La Reina Cubana put any doubts to rest with its blend of hip-hop rhythms and Latin sass, lyrical salvos and infectious grooves. But for many the test comes with the live performance, this is after all music whose disparate threads were found on the street corners of South Bronx, Caribbean dancehalls and South American carnivals, backstreet celebrations and DIY party gatherings. It existed in a live setting long before it got anywhere near a studio.

This time around we get to experience Satish, here using his alias of Satish Dat Beast, playing the modern descendant of those past party scenes, a live rooftop performance delivered with his trademark verve and vigour. A far cry from the current wave of bedroom rap mumblers claiming hip-hop heritage but essentially welding outdated cliches to the same electronica backing tracks, Satish proves that he can deliver it live too. This is hip-hop remembering where it comes from and embracing the future, the latin groove being up-dated for an up-town, up-scale, urban audience. A celebration of the fairer sex and a damn good tune that gets people moving and proving once again that Satish is just the man for the job.

Anywhere –  Luke Banter (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

26815272_1842483619127090_5839656478100180206_nThere have been other party prophets through out the years, from Bill Haley’s now seemingly tame all night call to arms, to The Beastie Boys crusade for equal rights for liggers and crashers to Andrew W.K.s fist in the air anthems. And it is in this lyrical vein, and particularly the latter artist, that Luke Banter sets out his stall. He skips his rhymes over an old school, mid-paced hip-hop groove, rather than the aforementioned seat rockisms, one embellished with the trippy electronica and trap percussion of the current climate, but to be honest the song is all about the speed and delivery of the vocal rap, the scatter gun  salvos and the unrelenting bombardment of the lyrical flow. We get it, you like to have a good time!

But there is nothing wrong with celebrating life’s good times, the down time between the reality and drudgery of life and why not just strip things down to what’s important and sometimes what is important is beer, friends, old and new, and music, all night sessions, apple bobbing in a bucket of vodka and just going with the flow. And this is a celebration all right, making its point simply and directly. It is loud, goofy, hedonistic, it does a great job of weaving its sing-song lyrics around the beat.

Then the question comes to mind, is this a parody of the whole mindless party scene? Fight For Your Right was, you know that right? Andrew W.K. isn’t, he’s just big and dumb and loud. I guess it sort of fits in both camps really. If you want it to be a straight down the line party anthem then it can be, if you want it to be poking fun then it can do that too. Does it really matter, just crack open a beer and have a laugh with it.

Actually that’s the long version of what I got from this song. The shorter and more troubled sequence of events is that I put this song on yesterday morning for a quick listen and woke up that evening on a bench outside Union Station with cut lip and two broken fingers, clutching a briefcase full of Taco Bell coupons and a tattoo on my arm that said Diego! Maybe partying is not for me anymore…but there is nothing to stop you indulging, go on…I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

Dark Day Afternoon –  Timothy Dark  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

149993Lead single She Put a Spell on Me is funky stuff for sure. Steeped in 70’s funk ethic, the excessive and effortless groove of 80’s Prince and fusing R&B, rock guitar and hip-hop rap and flow, it wanders between the downtown hustle and the uptown glitz, the urban and the urbane. As a calling card it is certainly going to draw the moth-like listeners to this beguiling flame of an e.p. but once there you realise that it is the eclecticism of this song which sums up this e.p. as a whole rather than providing its signature sound.

That Look is more of an early synth pop piece, existing at the point when the underground sounds were starting to be courted by a wider audience and more commercially minded, somewhere between the cultish, elitist underground of the late seventies and the more accessible and commercial sound of the next decade. Last Days starts in a similar place but delivers funky raps rather than pop rhymes and Performer is the song where all the previous threads come together…and more. It drives on a glam rock stomp, distant, early U2-esque guitars, Bee Gees harmonies, bruising rock-hop grooves and spoken raps, and still evoking the aforementioned P word in all his mercurial majesty.

Dark Day Afternoon is a beguiling collection of songs, playing with the decades, re-inventing, re-imagining and subverting as it goes. The references are great, the premise is brilliant and the conclusions are out of this world. It’s safe to say the boy done good. Good? Make that great!

Scene and Heard – CCLXXII :  Dimension –  GoldenB (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

18882195_1353382098049199_4827997465603745124_nAmbient hip-hop? Cosmic rap? Space-groove? Sure, I’m just making things up now but truly original music requires you to do that and Dimension comes from a truly original place. Okay, you can pick at the sonic weaves and find urban threads, trippy electronica, ambient vibes and late night haze but as always it is how these are put together that counts and GoldenB has found a new angle on blending all of these disparate sounds.

 
So GoldenB may prove to be the master of deconstruction but the main thing that he uses to piece his musical building blocks back together, the musical glue if you like is space. It is the atmosphere, the gap between the beat, the things which aren’t played and the pause between the lyrics which make it all so effective. Many musicians believe the most effective form of communication is to get up front and in the listeners face… or at least in their ears but GoldenB’s Dimension shows that less is most definitely more and that absorbing music by some sort of creative osmosis is equally…no, make that much more, effective.

 

Aye! Priori –  Paradame (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

PrintParadame sounds like the perfect artist for this post-genre world that we find ourselves in. There was a time when music was strangely tribal, that unwritten rules dictated that members of one broad musical base couldn’t be a fan of others. Punks didn’t go to prog gigs, Indie kids didn’t hit the commercial dance floors, rap and goth would cross the road to avoid each other. Thankfully all of that nonsense is behind us and only the other day I found myself sat in a coffee shop opposite a kid in guyliner and a Ramones t-shirt clutching a couple of Steely Dan vinyls he’d found going cheap. I just hope that he was using his laptop to obtain tickets for a Taylor Swift tour but that may be asking too much of the analogy.

Anyway, the point is, this is the world I have been looking forward too for a long time, one where rules, expectations and perceived protocol don’t matter and we are free to explore any musical avenue that takes our ear. This too is the world of Paradame. Hurricane, the lead single and album opener, gently splices electro-pop, hip-hop and futuristic R&B, vocals wander between street corner rap delivers and pure pop and the result is glorious and also liberating.

Whilst songs such as Break This are straighter takes on R&B and soul reinventions for the modern age, it is Wave which really shows the scope of her music, a futuristic and beguiling electro-rap driving along off-kilter dance grooves and a Darkwave soul. Ursula is built on minimal, pulsating music and atmospherics and the fact that album closer, A Thin Line, begins with the closing soliloquy from one of my favourite films, Blade Runner, only makes me love her music more.

Cobra is a fantastic prospect, a skittering sci-fi laced rap built on skittering trap percussion and sumptuous harmonies, odd and otherworldly, punchy yet poised. When most people creating music built on such a groove are talking about their hood and their streets, Paradame prefers to turn things into a galaxy and genre hopping piece of escapism.

Lyrically, she also comes from a clever place. Whereas many people working in such urban infused musical genres tend to use lyrics to evoke cliched aggrandisement about their environment, their ambitions and their material wealth, Aye! Priori is a soul-searching album. Its words and the scenes and scenarios they paint explores the head, the heart and the very soul, personal narratives perhaps but the messages here are universally transferable from artist to listener. An album which is both musically big and lyrically clever! Why has no one thought of that before?

Listen to the album HERE

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