Yelawolf- Till It’s Gone

Alabama’s own Yelawolf has been tweaking his long-awaited sophomore release for a minute.  Love Story is a record building the type of buzz which could be damaging if it depended on a label looking for singles.  But if you’ve followed Yela’s short rap career you already know that his work from here on out will serve only the man himself.

“Till It’s Gone” (Love Story‘s first single featured on Fx’s Sons Of Anarchy) doesn’t disappoint.  The born on the Bayou swamp-core spirit of the video shoot is suited for True Detective’s haunting title sequence.  Yela’s melodic flow follows the inevitable sting of the rat race; facing the issues of fame, money, and unwanted celebrity head on.  It’s not new rapper-territory, but it’s done here with a flair that is entirely Yelawolf’s.  Keep checking back for more info as Love Story makes its way into our hands.

Different Strokes? Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

Tyranny, the new record from Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas continues the odd journey he began on 2009’s Phrazes for the Young. There’s flashes of 80’s new wave, raw and glammy CBGB’s punk, and distorted vocals that sound like they were recorded with two soup cans and forty feet of string. Tyranny is 180 degrees from what you might expect from Casablancas…making it one of the most exciting records of the year.

It’s a total departure from the robotic precision of the Strokes rhythm section.  There are plenty of razor sharp riffs, but they’re buried under walls of hard drive fall out and pummeling drums. Casablancas reaches deep to deliver his cryptic sonnets backed by a top-notch gang of weirdos who seem fully equipped to match his madness one measure at a time.  Check the eleven minute brain train that is “Human Sadness”, Julian’s most elevated jam to date.

This batch of noise is miles ahead of another phoned in Strokes album.  Tyranny a gorgeous mess, and we’re better off for it.

 

Childish Gambino: STN MTN / Kauai

childishishsih

Donald Glover might never get the credit he deserves.  His short-lived TV/comedian work will cause internet type-casters (sorry bloggers) to forever box him in as the Black buddy of the autistic Indian kid on Community, a show too smart for its own good. Ironically, his efforts as rapper/musician Childish Gambino dwarfs that of Donald the TV star.

Gambino’s latest effort is the sprawling 19 track mixtape and EP STN MTN/Kauai.  The concept allows for two distinctly different records to be played back to back, ultimately coming together in all its awkward glory.  STN MTN is Gambino’s dream; one where DJ Drama hosts and he’s hailed as a king of Atlanta.  The radio stations love him, his name is gold on the street, and he plays the most iconic venues in the city.  The tape opens with a clearly agitated Gambino spilling dizzy bars all over a platinum Ludacris instrumental.  No fucks given.

The record’s relaxed second half is the sound of Gambino fading back to reality on the shores of Kauai.  The EP experiments with the pop and electric sounds he tinkered with on last year’s terrific Because the Internet with influences ranging from the mature(ish) rhythm and blues of Mike Jackson to the funk fun of Timberlake and Pharrell without compromising an ounce of integrity.  This shit only works because it’s the product of an artist balancing his jittery insecurities.  Gambino is conflicted in his own skin and altogether dialed in, dropping him into that space where the best art is squeezed to the surface.

Even during its most trying moments Kauai is wholeheartedly more hit than miss.  Force feeding us Jaden Smith’s stream of conscious babbling is useless, but then again it’s Gambino’s world. If that means we’re subject to a small dose of Smith’s lunacy, so be it.  Play it all the way through and take the ride.

Veeay feat. Boldy James “Play It Cool”

Here’s the second single, “Play It Cool”, from Philly native Veeay’s upcoming release Pieces. It’s a laid back affair featuring Detroit’s Boldy James.  The MC’s trade verses over a devilishly relaxed instrumental from Eardrum.  This one is for Friday evenings after you’ve cashed that check.  Feet up and exhale towards the ceiling…that’s an order.

Kendrick Loves Himself…But We Already Knew This

Kendrick Lamar can do no wrong…at least that’s what the hipster blogosphere wants you to believe.  Well, fuck that.  His new single “i” is the epitome of playing it safe.  Following his verse on “Control”, an unreleased remix carefully orchestrated to shake shit up, he drops the first single from the next episode of the Kendrick saga. And it’s a colossal let down.

From the contrived cover art depicting a blood and a crip gang-signing hearts while their colors fly, to the Isley Brothers sample-heavy cheesiness throughout, “i” is the equivalent of a toppled ice cream cone in the summer sun. You desperately wanted to eat the hell out of that cone, but the powers that be saw it fit to wipe that happiness away.

Pressing play on this one yesterday made me shake my head at that cone splattered sidewalk and wonder what it would have tasted like had the ice cream gods given a shit about my feelings. Love yourself and take a listen.  Comment below if you care enough.

 

 

Your Old Droog Is A Real Boy

This just in…Your Old Droog exists in the flesh, and he still ain’t Nas.  His September 3rd Webster Hall show finally put an end to the drama and the chatter that Droog was in fact Nasir Jones, and he did so with gusto.  This kid is dead fucking serious, and could very well tilt the axis of hip-hop end over end.

Sure the comparisons are there.  Droog’s cadence and breath control are eerily similar to Nas and other hip-hop heavyweights, but what he gives away in familiarity he dramatically earns back in his effortless, gargantuan bars.  He isn’t aping the culture; instead he’s studied the classics in order to hone his craft.

This Droog/Nas debate is the stuff the rabid internet clamors for. Hopefully that nonsense doesn’t dead the facts.  This kid is a phenom, and could be the next great rapper to emerge from NYC. His free EP is chock full of dusty samples and nostalgia so thick you forget he’s in his early 20’s.  Substance over style is what makes a rapper a MC, and Droog’s got the goods.  Lets hope he’s built for this fickle game.

Death Of Print Media: XXL Magazine To Go Digital

XXL

According to the NY Post, XXL Magazine is the next print source to be put to bed after being purchased by Townsquare Media.  While the magazine will exist online, it will no longer print and circulate in its original glossy form.

What does this mean for the culture?  To many, not much.  Digital media has steadily replaced traditional print methods for a decade, but there’s something to be said for grabbing your favorite mag in the airport or on vacation by the pool.  XXL’s notoriety took off after their annual “Freshman List” became a battleground for discussion and debates the past few years.  Let’s hope the reported 11 staff members who will be offered jobs keep their integrity in tact and continue to deliver the niche brand of hip-hop coverage we’ve come to expect over the last 17 years.