Whether or not you like him, Spooky Black is primed to blow up (at least on the same level as Yung Lean) and he deserves it. ”Without You” is one of the most interesting pop tracks to drop this year and it sounds even better with Supa Bwe and Sidewalk Kal over it. The boys mostly leave the original intact, only adding their own original verses seamlessly in between Spooky Black’s. Sidewalk Kal is unsurprisingly amazing with a fast paced verse over the slowed beat and Supa Bwe adds some much needed texture to Spooky Black’s singing. The original may be a singular work but it’s hard to deny how much Kal and Supa Bwe add.
I’m on the verge of sleep right now and this is basically exactly what I want to be listening to. ”Softmoon verse” is a dreamy, jazzy piece of r&b infused hip-hop (or hip-hop infused r&b… it’s really getting hard to tell sometimes these days) that will happily soundtrack your mid-afternoon daydreams. I don’t know that much about any of the artists featured to be completely honest but on “Softmoon verse” they all come together in a whirling, gorgeous piece of music that definitely makes me want to go learn more about them.
Yeah, Deity Gang isn’t all dudes. I didn’t actually know that until I had the pleasure of meeting Keiya at the Deity Gang Paxico Take-over a few weeks back. Keiya is not only the sole member of Deity Gang who sings but she’s a fine singer on her own right as well. ”Due Time” isn’t in your face and probably isn’t the kind of song that would have Keiya winning American Idol but I’m cool with that and I don’t think Keiya has any desire to be on American Idol anyway. Instead, “Due Time” is a bite-sized and highly intimate taste of the kind of atmosphere Keiya can conjure with nothing more than her voice and a jazzy beat from the man Jay Curry. Try not to fall in love.
Of all the words we use to describe music on The Up-Turn one I don’t know if I’ve honestly ever used is ambitious. I usually assume ambition in songwriting is for rappers who have already proven themselves to the wider world and no longer need to have the ambition to make it. So while I expect Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar to be ambitious I don’t expect that from up and comers like Sidewalk Kal, Chef the Chef and Tay Devenny (just to be clear though “Paranoia” is one of my favorite songs of the year and I’m incredibly psyched for the music Chef has coming in 2014). Despite my predispositions, “vancouver/Palme” is an incredibly ambitious track. Unfolding over a gorgeous and sprawling beat provided by Lux Natura, Tay Devenny’s vision reaches nearly 12 minutes in length making it the second longest rap song I’m pretty sure I’ve ever listened to. But like the longest rap song, “vancouver/Palme” pushes and blurs the boundaries between R&B and hip-hop with Lux Natura’s beat slow burning like a wood stocked fire place. It’s the perfect backdrop for Tay Devenny to postulate, question, coo and do everything else that makes him one of the most exciting rappers recording right now. When I first wrote about him I claimed that Tay Devenny validated a place in hip-hop for an emotionally in tune rapper and more recently I described him as one of the most softly poetic rappers I knew. After “vancouver/Palme”, Devenny is clearly becoming the rapper he’s always known he could be.
After a few strong singles from Hawk House I’ve been eagerly anticipating how the three piece would approach a proper release. A Little More Elbow Room has absolutely surpassed my expectations with a stunning release of r&b infused hip-hop. The beats throughout A Little Elbow Room stick to down-tempo and jazzy troupes without ever adhering directly to norms of boom-bap, cloud-rap or any of the other buzzing beat styles that have been floating around the blogosphere lately. Instead, the real focus of this release is on their dynamic vocals that bounce between group chants, crooning and rapping. Their lyrics manage to evoke great imagery that usually focuses on their 21st UK lifestyles. I know most people are buzzing over Chance the Rapper’s new tape, but take some time and check out Hawk House.
It’s been a long wait since we last heard from them but we still haven’t forgotten about the captivating sounds coming from UK trio A Yellow Man. They’ve finally ended the silent drought with an official name change to Hawk House and this new video for “Tidal Tendencies”. Like their early standout “3000 Miles of Youth”, “Tidal Tendencies” is a downtempo stunner that operates under a less is more ethos. For three gorgeously steady minutes, the trio take turns laying out deceptively casual verses rounded out by an r&b closer. Hawk House are combining hip-hop and r&b in ways similar to fellow UK natives Young Fathers and I couldn’t be more excited for more music from both groups as 2013 continues.
It’s not everyday that we run across an artist like Sean Cullen, the dude behind SEENMR and founding member of the Young Ho Collective. Sean Cullen is so psyched on music, life and his crew that his personality beams through his recordings and has made his Chinatown Tape one of the most buzz-worthy beat tapes of the year. I had a chance to chat with SEENMR and the bulk of that conversation has been formated for your reading pleasure after the jump. Being the cool dude that he is, Sean also threw together an awesome mix that I highly recommend you listen to while reading this philosophic conversation. Get ready for the Young Ho revolution.