Monday, July 23, 2012

Ab-Soul-Track Two

Rap is a great equalizer. Anyone can download Audacity, throw on a beat, and do their best _______ impression (insert favorite rapper here). Starting a rock band is the combination of years of practice on individual instruments; becoming an opera virtuoso takes decades of classical training. That's not to say that being a rapper is in any way easy-a rapper's flow is the product of endless dedication and repetition. But because it is so  "easy" to be a "rapper" the mean product from the rap community is sometimes diluted. Yet when something special comes around it really does stand out in a way that rock groups rarely do.

One such artist is Ab-Soul. Part of the Black Hippy supergroup (along with Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q), Ab-Soul sounds like almost nothing out there. Painfully honest at times (channeling a Slim Shady LP Em) with the storytelling prowess of a young Ghostface, Ab-Soul also just sounds plain jarring at times.  Could be his high voice, might be the flow which seems to change each song..whatever it is it is undeniably unique and intriguing. "Track Two," the literal second track on his newest album Control System is a great introduction to his sound. If you like what you hear buy Control System here.

Download Ab-Soul Track Two

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Masta Ace- Acknowledge

Masta Ace -  Acknowledge from Disposable Arts

Masta Ace hails from Brooooooooooooklyn and has been killing it for decades.  His 2001 album Disposable Arts is a concept album, which chronicles Ace’s flight from the hood to the Institute of Disposable Arts in Up-State New York and the "regular" developments back home.  It is one of my favorite albums of all time because of the nearly seamless narrative about life in the hood while satirizing higher education in America.   The album is packed with JamAndAHalfs and radical verses from Jane Doe, Jean Grae, Punch, and Strck.  There is not a weak verse on the entire album.

The song Acknowledge, is a classic battle rap that, oddly, is the only song on the album that does not flow perfectly in the narrative of Ace’s flight from the hood.  That said, the song is straight fire.  Ace’s bars are accompanied by a weeping violin, which conjures up images of the other rappers’ funerals.   A Gangstarr sample is used as the hook and seems to add authenticity to Ace’s status as a true BIG FISH in the rap game.

The victims, The High and The Mighty, must have really pissed Ace off to make him stray from the running theme.  The High and The Mighty provoked Ace by stepping “up at CMJ and mentioning” his name.  Throughout the song, Ace slashes up the group’s members and their producer.
Ace finishes by saying

“You that cat in the club that gets hit with a bottle
Fucking with me, you’re better off trying to hit lotto
And don’t answer back, cuz this is hard shit to follow
And you can’t spit nigga so you obviously must swallow! Mother Fucker!”

And then Ace asks the proverbial question,

“Don’t you know that the student can’t fuck with the teacher?”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kishi Bashi-151a

The other day, while listening to Kishi Bashi's phenomenal debut album 151a and kicking it in my sweltering Madrid apartment, a visiting buddy of mine commented that, "these guys sound like the Beatles." Although Kishi Bishi is in fact a one-man superband, in some ways he's right. That ought to be a clear compliment; any positive references to one, if not the, greatest band in history should be enough to make any band blush, but such a comparison carries a lot of weight and expectations, along with a kind of "heard it before" attitude. It's like a video game garnering comparisons to Mario or Donkey Kong.

The comparison, more than a sonical evaluation, is most valid if describing the exploratory nature of 151a, a pursuit that defines the Beatles' work, especially in their later albums. 151a exudes the creativity of an artist testing both his talent and skills gained through years of hard work and turning that into nine tracks of something special. Checkout two standout tracks below as well as a link to buy the album.

Buy 151a here

Download Kishi Bashi Bright Whites

Download Kishi Bashi I Am the Antichrist to You

Thursday, July 12, 2012 Mixtape

The symbiosis with continues. AMitch presents a great mix of the best that June had to offer. 

Happy Summer. I was thinking of doing all summery songs but then I was like damn how many times can folks listen to "Swimsuits" by The Cool Kids and Mayer Hawthorne. Probably infinity, nonetheless, you hang out and listen to mellow songs at night even in the summer, right? Okay, me too.

News on Cardboard Smile: We're going to be collaborating with Blah Blah Blah Science coming up (baller music blog). Maybe hosting a show together here in LA. That's exciting.

Download the June Playlist Here. The album cover (West Hollywood Gay Pride Festival) is above and the list is below.

Inline image 3

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Sounds of San Fermines

Screenshot from the TV broadcast. You can see Griff and I under the red arrow.

This is a blog about music. You might think that before facing six one-ton bulls and six equally gigantic castrated steers, I would have had a nice little playlist prepared for my ipod shuffle, an electic mix ready to both pump me and and cool frayed nerves. Yet in those few minutes before facing a situation which every Spanish person I talked to said I was crazy to do (to Griffdawg as well), the farthest thing from my head was listening to one of the many jamandahalfs featured in these pages.

In many ways I didn't need to. There was a beautiful cacophonous symphony all around la Calle de Santo Domingo in Pamplona that Saturday morning. Whispered prayers in a multitude of languages were joined by strangers wishing each other "suerte." People in balconies above were shouting words of encouragement to the half-crazy mozos below. TV crews snaked their way through the crowd, asking the inevitable question of why we were about to do what we were about to do, something we were all asking ourselves at that very moment. All these sounds were soon joined by a group of Brits who asked Griffdawg and I which way the bulls were going to come from, a surreal encounter not even two minutes before the bulls started their frantic run.

The sounds I'll remember most are those of the group prayers in Castellano and Euskara to the beheaded Saint Fermin, the excuse for the week-long party and the reason we were wearing red pañuelos around our necks (to empathize). There was something undeniably calming about seeing the mozos chanting to the idol seated just above the street while waving rolled-up newspapers in unison. It gave a sense of unity. The proverbial quiet before the storm briefly descended upon us right before the first rocket signaled that the bulls had been let loose. That quiet I'm sure was accompanied by screaming thoughts which were soon joined by the beating hooves of the tons of animal quickly narrowing the gap between us.

After running for a few seconds (which felt like a few hours), the streets of Pamplona were filled with very different sounds-the sounds of celebration. The city is infected by a remarkable energy during the festival, an energy which was very very loud. The rest of the day was full of bands passing through the streets, impromptu parades (my favorite was the one where everyone sang the "Spongbob Squarepants" theme song), laughter, and many bottles a-crashing. It was a feast for the ears and the soul. And being a Spanish fiesta, it was a blast.

Look out for us at the 1:58 mark below:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wax Goes Bananas

Honestly the guy Wax is just killin it here. Creativity, wit, steez, this track has got it all. And he doesnt lay off, just keeps rollin for three minutes of straight lava raps. It isnt just quirky lyrics either, the flow and delivery are right on point. He has a uniquely musical style of rappin almost lending a singing quality to the track . But he does have some truly remarkable lines. The Tourettes line openin up the jam is pure genius in my opinion. Im really intrigued about the future for Wax. Strictly a youtube rapper up until DefJam signed him this past year, he was primarily doin the funny guy rapper thing to stack millions of views with jams like "Stalkin Your Mom" and "Orphan Tears". Whether or not he hits his stride in the mainstream Im really lookin forward to hearin whats next. Im hoping for the best though, his wit and humor remind me of Eminem without the animosity, but his flow is unique. Almost reminds me of Wyclef slippin loosely from rappin to singin and back. Anyways I hope you all enjoy it. Bada BladIt!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Albums We're Stoked For-July

I'm a few days late with this, the second in a monthly feature of the best albums to look forward to. With so much music out there, it's always good to know what is coming out when and July looks like a big month. July 17th especially is swinging away with legends like Jimmy Cliff and Nas as well as up and comers like The Very Best and Frank Ocean (whose leaked (?) letter coming out of the closet was the best thing he could have possibly done to increase the hype around channel ORANGE). Matisyahu also makes a surprise appearance, featuring two songs with none other than Shyne, making this list only for the this bizarre fact. The rest of the month has a good mix of some indie favorites like the Dirty Projectors and Passion Pit as well as Heavyweight Floridian Rick RAUWS who wins the best album name of the month hands down. Enjoy the July sun and hopefully the stream of jamandahalfs coming your way. 

July 10th
Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan

Aesop Rock Skelethon

July 17th
Jimmy Cliff Rebirth

Frank Ocean channel ORANGE

Matisyahu Spark Seeker

The Very Best Mtmtmk

Nas Life Is Good

July 24th
Foals Tapes

Passion Pit Gossamer

Purity Ring Shrines

July 31st
Rick Ross God Forgives I Don't

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Deadmau5-Strobe (Special Features Remix)

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) continues to grow at a frantic pace and we're in a situation where someone like Avicii, virtually unknown 18 months ago, is quickly becoming a household name and is preparing an international stadium tour. Something else which has leached onto this fascinating growth is the remixer-producers who take tracks and add their own distinctive touch, often creating jams that just barely share more than a passing resemblance with the original. One such producer is Special Features, a young British producer who has been making quite a name for himself over the course of the last year. Of all his remixes, this jamandahalf "cover" of Deadmau5's "Strobe" is probably my favorite. The equivalent of rock band attempting to put out a cover to "Stairway To Heaven" and succeeding, Special Features takes a Deadmau5 classic and injects an undeniable energy to the original to the point where the two jams wouldn't recognize each other if they were walking down the same street. Check out Special Features here.

Download Deadmau5 Strobe (Special Features Remix)