Jamal Smith a.k.a Poptart Pete doesn’t give his beats out to just anyone, so I was definitely expecting something great when I saw that Smith lent one of his beats to Jalal Salaam. Their collaboration “Nocturnal” didn’t instantly jump out at me as jaw dropping, however, it definitely had me interested so I decided to check out Jalal Salaam’s debut mixtape Mathematics. Like “Nocturnal”, Mathematics took a few listens to sink in and I can honestly say that after having spent a good amount of time with this release that it’s one of my favorite hip-hop releases of the year. Jalal Salaam’s world in Mathematics is steeped in psychedelic cosmology, comic books and afrofuturism. He’s definitely on the same vibes as some of our other favorites like uhlife and Shabazz Palaces. Stream my favorite two tracks from Mathematics below and the entire release after the jump.
Back in 2008, like most aspiring hipsters of my generation, I was obsessed with a brand of high energy indie rock led by artists such as Tokyo Police Club, Vampire Weekend and Born Ruffians. The first concert I ever attended was at a local teen center in the neighboring town which featured high school bands Midi & the Modern Dance and the Seascape. Although both bands found the inevitable end that faces most high school groups, both bands left their mark on my music taste and education. Patrcik Smith, the guitarist from the Seascape, just put out a new EP with his band A Beacon School and it manages to capture all the same energy of indie rock circa 2008 without ever getting bogged down in nostalgia or influences. Much like Teen Suicide did for emo-punk on their EP earlier this year, A Beacon School manages to recapture all that made me love indie rock in the first place without sounding tired or overdone. Most of the success is due to Smith’s highly melodic and versatile guitar playing which bends and evolves dynamically throughout each track. This definitely has me wanting to listen through some older Tokyo Police Club and Born Ruffians again. Stream my favorite tracks below and the entire EP after the jump.
I’ve never really understood the idea of criticizing artists as music culture imperialists. Some of my favorite bands, Talking Heads, Sun City Girls and Vampire Weekend (I AIN’T AFRAID TO ADMIT IT), have been labelled by some critics as “cultural thieves” for their ability to blend world music influences. I can only imagine that if those critics laid their ears on some Flamingods, they would be declared cultural imperialist kings. Flamingods have drenched their music and image in worldly influences ranging from Native American to oriental cultures. While most bands would probably come across gimmicky, Flamingods channel their diverse influences into some of the most exciting indie-rock I’ve heard in a long time. Their track “Quesso” is built upon a huge tribal-tinged drum track and explodes with a burning guitar solo and ecstatic vocal yelping. While similarly influenced bands, Sun City Girls and Animal Collective, have approached their music with deconstruction and experimentation, Flamingods cut straight to the pop and rock sides resulting in upbeat and energetic gems. I’m still unsure of where Flamingods are going to take their music and I couldn’t be more excited to find out.
It’s hard to predict now exactly what is going to become of the dwindling cloud-rap trend, however, a few young artists have been breathing new life into the genre recently. Much like Khalil Nova, Tay Devenny and producer Spacedtime are taking the ideas of cloud-rap in a very interesting and fresh direction. While Khalil Nova was breaking down cloud-rap to it’s most lo-fi, raw and hypnotic, Tay Devenny and Spacedtime are working with a much more cinematic and sensually atmospheric sound marked by crisp and jazzy production. Across their Obulous mixtape, Tay Devenny displays an incredible knack for telling vivid stories demonstrating that there actually is a place for a straight-forwardly emotional rapper in the game. Tracks like “The Melody” and “Run It” show off that Tay Devenny can be melodic with over gorgeously lo-fi instrumentals while “LCN” has him rapping confidently over an old school styled boom-bap beat. Spacedtime gave the production on Obulous a light dust coat and it often sounds like Tay Devenny is rapping from a few chairs over in a poorly lit, cigar smoke filled bar. Tay Devenny and Spacedtime captured something awesome with Obulous and I have no doubt that they’ll only keep getting better into next year.
There is something to be said about musicians who put forward only their music without much else in a scene dominated by image, twitter feeds and facebook fan pages. Katmai has been making and releasing music this way for over a year now without giving us anything more than gorgeously star-soaked tracks. Without any genre-tags, song descriptions or basically any info at all, Katmai is putting the emphasis on the music alone, which is a good thing considering how strong some of these astral noise-pop tunes are. Whether or not it’s intentional, Katmai makes music that is pretty darn hard to blog. It’s impossible to try and sum up their/his/her sound in a catchy hyphenated phrase and each track highlights different aspects of that huge sound. Katmai’s most two recent tracks, ‘Apparitions’ and ‘Rêve D’argent’ are female and boy led pieces respectively with the first being maximalist and electronically-blasting while the later is an equally complex but more restrained and introspective soundscape. With this quality of music I’m fine with never learning who Katmai is as long as the new material doesn’t stop coming.
The M|O|D guys introduced me to Gossamer yesterday and since then I’ve been listening to his debut EP nonstop. Gossamer is the type of artist who even though his sound is crafted almost exclusively using computers, has a very organic sound. He has a way of layering tons of samples and synths into beautifully dark and natural tracks. The Gossamer EP opens up with “seroquelyl”, a pretty atmospheric and ambient track, and then progresses into more straight forward rap-influenced styles over the course of the 4 tracks, while always maintaining a melodramatic tone that I can’t get enough of. Below, you can stream my favorite track off of the EP and hit the jump to stream and download the entire project.
Future-trap may be picking up most of the hype these days but its older cousins footwork and juke are starting to make a revival. Lil Jabba is one of the fresher faces in the underground word of footwork bringing a classic Chicago style to his hometown of Baltimore. Lil Jabba’s take on footwork incorporates lots of bright synth work on top of his meticulously arranged percussion while minimizing the amount of sampling that is usually found in the genre. As a result, Lil Jabba’s adderall-pumped tunes never lock into one solid grove but bounce around from one great creative idea to the next until the song finds its satisfying end. His tracks may not be certified hood classics yet, but Lil Jabba is taking an interesting approach to footwork that will probably only continue to improve and inspire more current musicians to revitalize the genre. More of his recent tracks, ‘Oil’ and ‘Precision’ in particular, demonstrate that Lil Jabba has already been able to refine a sound distinctively his own and he’s set to continue to grow from here. Listen to my favorites below and check out his soundcloud and bandcamp for more.