He Is Not The Shame

facebook.com

facebook.com

F. Virtue is a Canadian born, NYC based artist from the Fameless Fam collective, an internet-based record label that believes in keeping the music in the hands of the people.  He’s been rapping since his teen years, but has recently garnered attention for his brash, honest lyrical content and his tremendous new album, We Are Not The Shame.  F. Virtue is an openly gay MC in an alpha-male dominated genre; a beautiful juxtaposition in an ever-changing world.  What drew me to his music is the fearlessness by which he creates and delivers his message.  He graciously took some time to chat with Shiny Glass Houses about his journey thus far.

Shiny Glass Houses: Music is often born from a hunger to create, what experiences inspire you to rap? 

F. Virtue: These damn feelings. Suffocation, stress, anxiety, nostalgia, happiness, love, heartbreak, cities, lights, and oceans make me make music. 

SGH: I can remember thumbing through my parents records as a kid, and landing on Some Girls by the Rolling Stones.  It was unlike anything I’d ever heard.  It wasn’t just the sounds, it was the entire package that shook me.  What records from your past changed the way you saw things?

FV: Late ’90′s underground rap. The content of the songs. The concepts of the records. The labels and crews. The anticipation for records to drop (leaked downloads weren’t a thing). Waiting for tours to come through my city. The mystery, and lack of photographs. Scribble Jam. Overcast. The whole eruption of Anticon, Def Jux, Rhymesayers, and Living Legends… I was so young that the albums shaped my way of viewing the world and developed my thoughtfulness. I’m thankful for that.  

SGH: Hip-hop culture has been at the forefront of style and creativity for two decades.  Do you think style has replaced substance today?

FV: Yes, but it doesn’t bother me. A lot of these “cool” “fashion” kids care about the hit factor, making hyper-sexual hot songs, writing cute brags, and strange, dark, yet vapid stuff. But I like it. Everything has it’s place. I need it to dance and drink to. But I also need my serious MC delivering some deep shit, just at different times. Yes, there are less wordy rappers in the public eye than in the late 90′s, but again, I don’t care. It all comes in waves, it all serves a purposes. I dig it all.

SGH: There’s a cold sense of homophobia within the culture, although it’s started to lighten up of late.  Is your lifestyle something you feel you need to defend in your bars?

FV: It’s important for me to share my lifestyle and experiences in my music because there are kids out there who need to hear these things. For example, when I was in high school I wasn’t out and I dated girls to feel “normal.” I was always depressed after house parties because my friends would have all these epic hook-ups and life changing experiences while I would spend my night avoiding intimacy, drinking, smoking, and wishing I could go through the same things. I was always on edge. If I put that story in a song, I could help kids in the position I was in feel more confident knowing they aren’t alone, and that it gets better. I never thought I would ever be this comfortable or public about it, but I am. And it feels great. And everyone deserves this kind of happiness. 

SGH: If you could do drunken karaoke with any celeb/artist/historical figure, dead or alive, who would you choose?

FV: I don’t do karaoke.

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

FV: Gin.  Gin all day.

Be sure to check out the Fameless Fam movement at http://www.famelessfam.com/. Follow F.Virtue on Twitter @famelessvirtue, and grab the fantastic We Are Not The Shame record here… http://www.famelessfam.com/?p=37794.

Here And Nowhere Else

billboard.com

Dylan Baldi was a saxophone major in college.  Then came Myspace, some fake band pages boasting very real songs, followed by the one man show he called Cloud Nothings.  Persuaded to recruit a full ensemble to bring the songs to life, Baldi pressed on with his new band in tow, and cranked out some of the most intuitive, blistering rock and roll Cleveland had seen in quite some time.

Cloud Nothings newest offering, Here And Nowhere Else, is slightly less factious than 2012′s Attack On Memory, yet is every bit as frantic.  There is an odd balance of power and grace in Baldi’s howl which dials up the frailty of Jeremy Enigk combined with the whiskey and broken glass charm of Saint Cobain.

The songs on Here And Nowhere Else are Baldi’s attempt at punk rock perfection.  The noise rings at the right moments, and the chorus’s are bashed out with jarring regularity.  Problem is, it’s simply smarter than your average 4/4 punk stomp.  Forget the time signatures and forget my bare bones synopsis.  Just put this record on and fucking turn it up.  Raw power for the here and now, and my early favorite of 2014.

Yasiin Gaye: The Departure

okayplayer.com

Nashville Producer/MC Amerigo Gazaway has a gift.  He’s able to conceptualize collaborations that otherwise would never see the light of day.  Fela Soul blended the rhythms of Kuti’s pioneering march with De La’s classic flows, resulting in one of the most clever mashups I’d heard since Z-Trip bugged my head out on Uneasy Listening.

Last month saw the release of Yasiin Gaye, the next installment of Gazaway’s “Soul Mates” series which allows for Marvin Gaye’s stripped down and rebuilt classics to lay the foundation for Yasiin Bey’s (formerly Mos Def) classic verses.  There’s something magical about bringing true hip-hop and old soul together on the same track.  Producers have been pillaging the crates for golden samples for two decades, but this is something entirely different.

Yasiin Gaye is contemporary art constructed from re-imagined classics by two heavyweights of sound.  Unfortunately, the Recording Industry Association of America hit Gazaway with an order to remove the album from his site, but be a bit crafty.  You’ll find what you’re looking for on the World Wide Web.

Pure headphones music for a long night with nothing but the cracks in the ceiling to admire.  You’re welcome.

 

Today’s Classics

The Men have spent the last few years making the glorious racket we need to fuel our rage filled nights.  Sure, they buried some melody in there, and slowly revealed their fine tuned chops; but what we got were a few painfully heavy records that kept the mainstream at bay.  So be it.

Then came 2013′s New Moon, a record that somehow channeled the brooding discontent of Wilco and Bob Dylan with the angst and edge of Fugazi.  It was some sort of alt-punk-country shit show.  And I loved it.  The compass started spinning, and I had no idea where this band was headed.

Tomorrow’s Hits finds The Men settled into their true niche.  They’re not wallowing, filling their guts with whiskey.  They’re simply The Men on the tiny stage.  A few dusty amps.  An old piano.  A couple of beer drenched mics.  The Replacements of the here now.  Somehow, these noisy Brooklyn fuckers have managed to wrestle the bar band crown from The Hold Steady, and are ready to fight to keep it.  Only in America.

Simple Common Sense

stereogum.com

Rapping, making movies, starring in Western themed TV shows…in my book Common does no wrong.  The more I hear from his upcoming record, Nobody Smiling, the more I get excited.  Production handled by No I.D.? Common spitting relevant raps via his weathered view with an attitude like it’s 1994?  Yes please.

“Made In Black America” matches Com next to Ab-Soul, and it’s pure fire.  Both emcees gamble with a stream of consciousness flow, proving that even loosely constructed verses from these two basically shit on whatever you downloaded from Datpiff this afternoon.  Common is coming, and he’s bringing that classic sound with him.  Old heads, rejoice.

 

The Beautiful Swamps of New Jersey

spin.com

Over the course of three albums, New Jersey’s Real Estate have captured the somber pop of Death Cab For Cutie without throwing a noose around your neck.  Atlas highlights the bands expansion from a trio to a five piece.   It fleshes out their spit-polished jangle, giving front man Martin Courtney a chance to dig deeper lyrically; harnessing both the frailty of Band of Horses and the nerdy bombast of Built To Spill.  Not an easy task.

Atlas sounds like a Sunday at home, complete with a few chapters in a good book and some unannounced day sex.  The sort of twenty four hours that come when you need a battery charge.  And there’s nothing wrong with that type of love.  Grab your dark rimmed glasses, Wall Street Journal, and a coffee…then press play.  Embrace it.

ShowYouSuck is The Make-Out King

Make-Out KingThe numero uno Dude Bro strikes again with the visuals for “Make-Out King”.  Regardless of whether you’re in a Taurus or a Lambo, this one is all about steamy windows and heavy petting.   Show’s knack for relatable rap keeps him light years ahead of the competition.  He’s been low-key making some of the best art in America for the better part of three years.

The production on “Make-Out King” was handled by The Hood Internet and Javelin, layering gnarly synths over an 80′s guitar riff that would make Def Leopard proud.  The clip itself, directed by Maxim Northover, is stop motion animation in all its awkward glory. Lil Yung Polka Dot goes Tim Burton, whatchu know about that?  Head to http://www.showyousuck.com/ and get familiar.