Tunji Ige is hip hop’s newest dual threat. He raps and sings. Produces and mixes. Writes and records. His talent is undeniable in a dangerously saturated scene that promises a new digital golden child on a daily basis.
Ige creates with a poise and maturity far beyond his 19 years. Upon first listen his music appears boundless, and that ambition is exactly why his debut, The Love Project, is both a gift and a curse. Even attempting to categorize this record is where most writers will falter. It’s all over the place; feeling entirely vulnerable yet staggeringly calculated. Musically, he’s at his best when the songs are given a chance to roam, and at his most contrived when harping on the ills of being young and caught up in the rat race.
Great art gives audiences the chills. The Love Project is packed with those tingling moments where age, innocence, and bravado simultaneously splatter the canvas making it impossible to predict how far his talents can take him.
J. Cole found his mode. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is a snapshot of total exposure, regardless of the response it may garner from the casual fan. J. Cole isn’t turning up. He isn’t in the trap. He doesn’t care about what to do on a Tuesday. He’s steadied the flow, laced his confessionals with a healthy dose of piano keys, and dabbled in the realm of sing-songy hooks. None of this should wow you, and in that familiarity lies the beauty in Cole’s latest and greatest effort.
Contradictory bravado fuels “Fire Squad” and “G.O.M.D”, but when you dial in it’s far easier to hear an artist in tune with the realities of his world. He keeps a weary eye on social media, and clearly has a nonchalant bone to pick with his pale contemporaries who have crept in to capture those annual golden statues. Cole understands there’s a microscope aimed at his notepad, and he’s quick to dismiss his observations as jokes. Jokes aside, 2014 Forest Hills Drive is both an artistic milestone and a new creative bar set by today’s most captivating story teller.
It felt as though AJ Suede was dormant the past few years. Then a string of 6 new videos popped up late last spring, proving the Harlem by way of PA emcee was simply tucked away diligently working on the follow up to Gold and Water. Patience and persistence pays, as Gold and Fire is one of the best independent releases of the year.
Suede produced the entire record allowing for the space needed to create his digital world. Gold and Fire is layered with trademark blasts of the FREEMINDS Collective, which leans on the heavily bridged gap between the audio and visual worlds. Gold and Fire is the 2nd record in a 4-part series, each inspired by a different style of production. It’s crystal clear that this is a focused affair; no filler, no time wasted, no bullshit. Straight fire.
London’s Fat White Family plays punk rock, but it’s not the frantic, pants shitting racket I spent years studying and loving to death. The Family brings a calculation and tongue-in-cheek snide to their craft that leaves you spinning their new record, Champagne Holocaust, over and over in a feeble attempt to figure it the fuck out. Good luck.
The record opens with the fuzzy “Auto Neuron” and nervously slides into “Is It Raining In Your Mouth?”, the classiest blowjob anthem I’ve ever heard. And like all great punk front men, Lias Saoudi sounds like a hot mess. He’s pure chem trails and whiskey sweat. Champagne Holocaust feels like that first staggering morning after step; the terrifying search for your phone and wallet leading you to the realization that all lucid recognition gave way somewhere near midnight.
There’s more than meets the eye with Fat White Family. This eleven song affair is only the first booze-soaked chapter of what will surely be a career full of wild naked stage parties and gorgeous missteps. I’m in. Grab Champagne Holocaust here, and enjoy your Saturday night.
Harlem MC Dave East is headed for a big year. Fresh off the release of his solid Black Rose project, East finds himself signed to Mass Appeal Records alongside Boldy James, Fashawn, Bishop Nehru, and the mighty collaborative juggernaut known as Run The Jewels. That’s a solid stable of talent, but the crucial element is the man behind the man. Nas is hand picking independent rappers, both established and up and coming, to push Mass Appeal to the front of the line.
East is undoubtedly a New Yorker, but his sound isn’t confined by the grime of the north. There are plenty of trendy moments throughout Black Rose, rounding out a fluent tape that puts the 6’5 MC directly in the lime light. Whether showcasing his affinity for serving razor sharp bars on “The Offering”, or pouring his way through the trapish “Broke”, East proves he is far from run of the mill. Grab Black Rose here. When the east is in the house…
I’m too east coast for my own good. It’s not that I don’t appreciate hip hop from every corner of our country, I just happen to gravitate towards the grittier, gray and blue sounds of the Northeast. Every once in a while I’ll let Dom Kennedy or Nipsey Hussle spin when it comes across the shuffle, but Cali rap has never been a huge priority of mine.
Men Of Many Crowns, the collaborative project between San Diego MC MoodSwingKing and producer/DJ W.Steele has me questioning that bias. Their self-titled release has been on steady rotation for the past two weeks, bridging the gap between traditional airy West Coast vibes and NY boom bap. The sample-heavy production is flawless, paired with King’s champion bars. Don’t believe me? Give “Scandalous Desires” a spin. Spend a few bucks on the record here. Heads will nod. Enjoy.
The audio for A$AP Twelvyy’s “Glock Rivers” dropped this summer. Today, we get the GOLDRUSH directed visuals. The clip takes us to Harlem via black and white slow-mo shots through the fog of a dry-ice invasion. It seems the A$AP Mob got tired of watching New York continue to bubble without them.
The last few weeks have seen big time drops from Rocky and Ferg. That’s all well and good, but “Glock Rivers” is my favorite blast from this camp in a minute. Admittedly, Rocky’s fashion shit is sometimes too much to stomach. Lucky for us Twelvyy is around to rough up the edges. Enjoy.