Stream: Action Bronson & Earl Sweatshirt – ‘Warlord Leather’

Earl Sweatshirt and Action Bronson are fresh off monster releases this week.  Bronson’s Mr. Wonderful is the project fans have been waiting for; larger than life, full of hilarious twists, and enough NY shit talking to remind us exactly where all this started. Earl dropped the tremendously dense I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, cementing himself as the reason anyone gave a greasy fuck about Odd Future in the first place. Today, the Alchemist digs through his lost gems to give us “Warlord Leather”, a three minute verbal slap box.  Bars galore, enjoy.

Making His Lane: Surf School’s Adrian Lau

Brooklyn based Adrian Lau is busy building a solid fan base spitting over Harry Fraud’s textured beats. He’s steadily forging into new territory in 2015, while remaining true to his historic borough roots. Sure, you can’t swing a dead cat in NYC without hitting a rapper, but this kid is grinding and worth the spins. Adrian recently spoke with SGH to talk Backwoods, linking up with Fraud and Surf School, and the awkward truth about social media.

Shiny Glass Houses:  What have you been working on since the release of Dinner At Wo Hop?

Adrian Lau: Dinner at Wo Hop was a tape we put together to get ready for the project me and Harry have been working on since last year.  It’ll be ready in a month or so.

SGH: I hear a new school twist to your work, but you still have one foot rooted in the sound that made NY rap legendary.  Do you think there’s a specific palette you have to work from since you’re a Brooklyn rapper?

AL: Not really. That’s just the sound when me and Harry (Fraud) work together. It’s different with every producer.  Harry just brings that side out because he’s really good at making those classic sounding beats sound new and clean.  The beats we’re working on now are not as “New York” sounding.

SGH: How did you link up with Harry Fraud and Surf School?  What’s it like with him in the booth?

AL: Harry just worked near my crib and one of his engineers, my boy Russ, would bring me through.  Everything just came together naturally, I had just started making music, so he helped me develop over the last few years.  There is definitely a vibe of constant work in his studio, which is good because some people treat the studio like a club house, and that’s not always the best environment for me.

SGH: You put out quality visuals.  How do you bring your ideas to life?

AL: Honestly, I leave it in the hands of the director.  I make sure that I’m working with someone who thinks outside the box, and if I fuck with their work then I trust they’ll make a good video.  A lot of the videos don’t have treatments, they are shot guerrilla style in public, and we usually get in trouble. Especially if Will Lucas is directing.

SGH: Projection is a dope project. It feels like a proper full length.  Is it necessary these days to drop “albums”, or have we reached a point where full lengths can be free as part of a marketing strategy?

AL: I think albums will always be essential, but there needs to be a proper audience to release it to.  I’m still building my base, and making my lane, so in the meantime I want the music to be free so as many people can access it as possible.  The album is like the college thesis, I guess.

SGH: Social media is the new PR, no need for fliers or hand to hand CD passing. How valuable is promotion these days? What’s the best way to get your work into our hands?

AL: Honestly, I’m the worst with social media (laughs).  I never liked taking pictures and rarely tweet, but obviously I do what I can since it’s necessary.  At the end of the day, you’ll have the artists that came up because they clicked on social media, you’ll have the artists who came up because they made great music, and everything in between.  Everyone’s journey is different.

SGH: There’s plenty of quality rappers out there, but not all can pull off a live show.  What’s your approach to performing?

AL: Zone out.  I get a little nervous before I go on, but never when the music comes on.  If you can’t perform live I can’t fuck with you.

SGH: “Under Control” feels like a live music experience.  Take me through your writing process.

AL: That was the first song where I was like “OK, I’m gonna make a non-rap verse and kinda half sing through it” (laughs). I was listening to Tool and Led Zeppelin a lot that day, so I was inspired by the rock and roll feel which is why I put the distortion on the vocals.  Definitely one of my favorites off the tape.

SGH: Papers, blunts, glass pieces? What’s your preferred vehicle for taking flight?

AL: It goes back and forth between Raw papers and Backwoods these days (laughs).

SGH: Last but not least, and customary around these parts…what’s your drink of choice?

AL: Jameson all day.

–Massive shout out to Adrian, Harry, and the rest of the good people at Surf School for making this happen. Be on the lookout for Adrian’s new project coming soon. For now, grab his music here, and keep up with the label here. Follow them on twitter/IG @AdrianLauNY and @SRFSCHL.

Upcoming Release: Action Bronson- Mr. Wonderful

Action Bronson’s incredible rise has been marked by his balanced ability to rap and to memorize with a massive personality. It’s impossible to ignore his magnetism. He’s funny, full of shit, and spits head scratching bars that are equal parts clever and insane. He seems to exist on an entirely unique plane, where “sometimes his only friends are drugs and the cannoli”.

Mr. Wonderful is Action’s major label debut full of self righteous gems. You’re front and center in Bam Bam’s world, whether you like it or not; riding shotgun and wading through heavyweight banter from his cousin/hype man Big Body Bes, fellow Queens MC Mayhem Lauren, and a show stealing verse from Chance the Rapper.

Action’s legacy is yet to be determined, but with efforts like Mr. Wonderful it’s plain to see he’s right where he belongs. He’s making music on his own terms; dodging and countering real life issues that might break a lesser man. But this isn’t any mere mortal we’re talking about, it’s Bronsolino. Love it or leave it, Mr. Wonderful is another monumental early release of 2015. Pick up your copy today.

New Music: Heems- Eat Pray Thug

Das Racist either made sense or you missed it by a mile. Regardless of their fast food name dropping semi-hit, joke rappers they were not. Himanshu Suri (Heems) went the way of the mixtape following the fizzling out of Das Racist, dropping two great projects while remaining largely under appreciated outside the blogs. What’s surfacing now is the true mind of the son of Indian immigrants who studied at Wesleyan after witnessing the Twin Towers drop from his posh Manhattan private school. The jokes are nearly stripped away and the imbalance of adult life bubbles to a head on his first proper solo release, Eat Pray Thug.

Heems turn the dial inward on Eat Pray Thug to reveal the pressures of being a young brown American in a post-9/11 world. The results are haunting on tracks like “Flag Shopping”, “Al Q8a”, and the poignant “Patriot Act”; a song that comes off as a spoken word confessional detailing 15 years of paranoia and fear. Mix in heartbreak and irresistible humor and it’s obvious that Heems is capable of channeling a Springsteen-like capacity to translate life to music. Trade a guitar and the swamps of Jersey for a microphone and the ethnic melting pot of Queens and suddenly the blurred picture of Himanshu Suri’s life begins to focus.

2015 has already seen some massive hip hop records. Eat Pray Thug should not be overlooked.

 

Watch: Yelawolf- Whiskey In A Bottle

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April 21st marks the release of Yelawolf’s highly anticipated sophomore record, Love Story. Since his Shady debut he’s put out a handful of worthy singles and tapes, toured on the strength of his cult fan base, and dropped a few guest verses here and there, yet no proper follow up.

Tonight, I’m stuck on the visuals for “Whiskey In A Bottle”, which sound and look like a call to arms for this Alabama loner. He knows that first record tanked, and he’s here to make things right. He’s joined by Slumerican pals DJ Klever and Bones Owens while they ride through town, down drinks, and get ink. Time well spent is never time wasted…

Listen up…

Kendrick Lamar: Hip Hop’s Atticus Finch

Courtesy of NYTimes.com

Kendrick Lamar isn’t a savior. He’s not hip hop’s last great hope or a wise old sage, responsible for ushering black consciousness into the light for impressionable minds worldwide. He’s a rapper from Compton. A rapper who found such massive success with his commercial debut, good kid, m.A.A.D city, that he afforded himself the luxury of making any type of sophomore record he damn well pleased.

Lamar isn’t content to cash in quite yet. Instead, he spends the majority of his fantastic new record, To Pimp a Butterfly, stuck in a mode of full on introspection.  He’s recognizing the flaws that being rich and famous have brought to his surface, and clearly struggling to make sense of the man he’s become in light of this wild success.

Creatively, things have never been better for King Kendrick. The record is a jazzy, free flowing opus; a dazzling display of funk flourishes and fuck you stomps. His wordplay, both playful and ferocious, is that of a man looking to be truly heard rather than garner praise. Yet, mentally he seems torn.

Race and racism in America haunt the record as a recurring theme, triggering connections to the album’s title and Harper Lee’s classic novel. Like the mighty father of Scout and Jem, Lamar is fighting a case he can’t win. For every kid he helps realize a shred of value and self worth, a hundred are lost to the mindless, violent turn up of his chart climbing contemporaries. And he knows there’s nothing he can do but step forward and make the type of record that draws attention to the plain and simple fact that black lives matter.

Where good kid took us deep inside Lamar’s Compton ride along, To Pimp a Butterfly is focused on the harsh world around him. This creative shift points simply to the true maturity of an artist who continues to rise above his peers with each and every move.

New: Modest Mouse- Strangers To Ourselves

Waiting to hear Modest Mouse’s new record, Strangers To Ourselves, was sort of like waiting for a perpetual no-show Santa. By the time the big fella finally dropped off a gift eight years later, you couldn’t possibly care less.

This record is a natural continuation of 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, and its formulaic approach does little to stand apart as anything brand new. Eight years worth of stewing over new material feels tired, as the band wiggles its way through more anti-disco rump shaking and angled, jittery riffing. Sure, there’s a few gems sprinkled throughout, but wading through the filler is exhausting.

Maybe the mediocrity of this record will relight the fire in Isaac and Co’s engine, and they’ll remember how important their band was somewhere around 2000’s The Moon & Antarctica. Around that time they crept out of the drug ripped daze of their noisy past and started rallying around wacked out anthems that both terrified and inspired kids to abuse guitars. Unfortunately, Strangers To Ourselves is aptly named. Big budget, big label, and bad for business.