Less Is More

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In White Men Can’t Jump, Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes at his very best) tries to convince Billy Hoyle (the always wily Woody Harrelson) that although he might be listening to Jimi Hendrix, Billy cannot truly hear him.  An argument ensues, but they were on to something.  Do we actually hear much of what we listen to?

Aaron Jerome wants you to hear his music.  He knows you can listen to it.  You can click a link or spin a record, but it’s the hearing that concerns him most.  Rather than mug for the cameras and answer handfuls of questions regarding life and love, Jerome creates textured, clever electronic music under name SBTRKT.  Subtract the bullshit and let the music stand alone.  I dig it.

SBTRKT’s self titled debut is a testament to turning down and vibing out, and it’s damn good.  He two-steps all over this thing.  The drums kick off beat and the vocals shuffle in and out unpredictably.  Electronic music is my new flavor of late, but SBTRKT isn’t a run of the mill dj.  He samples vocalists or features a singer on nearly every track.  House music tends to pound you over the head with that 4/4 intensity, but the difference here is the song structure.  There’s something to be said for perfectionism, and that mask definitely doesn’t hurt.

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Acquired Taste

Flickriver.com

Love him or leave him.  And with that sentiment, you’re either still reading or you’ve moved on…and I’m not offended.  Mickey Avalon’s gangster-glam is a second short of brilliant.  He’s nothing more than a west coast circus on wax and that’s exactly why I can’t get enough.

Mickey burst on the scene in 2007 with the oddball hit “Jane Fonda”.  Rather than pack his debut record with catchy singles and pop oddities, Avalon slapped us across the chops with a dime bag packed full of sick, sad tales from a Hollywood hustler who happened to stumble on a mic.  He’s not the most talented mc, but what Mickey gives away in form he makes up with style.

Loaded drops Mickey back in his familiar spots… the bar, the backseat and the corner booth with the sweaty leather.  The sex is glossy, the coke is white and the drinks are always doubles.  What you get with Mickey Avalon is a show.  He’s an artist with an act, and if you take it for face value, it’s an out of control blast.

Sharp Like The Peaks

It’s a nice feeling knowing cats like Aj Suede exist.  Believe it or not, amidst the sea of audio shit bombarding the airwaves daily, there are artists among us who value the creative process and take pride in the long forgotten practice of releasing an album.  Mixtapes are a dime a dozen these days.  Unfortunately, all you need is a hashtag twitter hashtag account and a few weak instrumentals.  Almost instantly you can enjoy the fame and fortune a few thousand followers can get you.

Thankfully, Suede isn’t cut from that overnight social media cloth.  He’s a self-reliant artist intent to create music his way, aiming to “make music that people from any race, religion, creed or walk of life can identify with.”  His newest offering, the intelligent and deadly Gold and Water is a testament to his grind.  Not only does Suede murder verse after verse, he created a bulk of the beats himself, allowing for complete creative control.  Suede was gracious enough to answer some questions so we could better understand the stance of the Suede God.

SGH: First off, your record is dope.  For every “national” or “chart” artist covered on this site, there’s three or four posts dedicated to people like you, artists that make real shit because it’s in their blood. And for the record, that Dexys Midnight Runners sample (on “Rose Gold”) is fucking bonkers.

Suede:   The crazy thing about the Dexy’s Midnight Runners sample is that I woke up one morning and started watching pop up video on VH1 classic. As soon as the” Come on Eileen” video came on, I grabbed my laptop and made that beat.  I appreciate that you recognize the art within the album. At first, I wasn’t really planning to do many beats on the record, but as the sessions progressed I ended up using the production in an attempt to create my signature style that nobody can copy, and it obviously worked.  If I would’ve got on other peoples beats it would’ve been a “rap” album instead of an album full of “music”.

SGH: Where and when did you start making music?

Suede: I got my start at rapping when I was probably six or so…this shit is in my blood. My mother raised me on the elements of hip hop, that’s why i try to preserve the culture while still helping it evolve into something that’s completely opposite from the bubblegum shit on the radio.

SGH: What motivates you to create a beat then murder it?

Suede: What motivates me to make a beat and murder it is, nobody has the ability to make these beats the way I make them.  Especially with the limited resources that I have. With that being said, I build a beat up and demolish that shit, because I’m one of the best to do this. When people start waking up from their mainstream slumber, they’ll know that I’m not to be fucked with when it comes to making music.

SGH: One thing that’s perfectly clear is your confidence.  I love the fact that it’s more than bullshit and boasts which are far too common in the hip hop game.  I definitely hear the artistry and the creativity in your work.

Suede: I was never about the bullshit and boasts. I don’t think any rapper in my position has the right to be cocky, especially when they haven’t paid all of their dues, myself included.  At first I was mostly humble and what not, but I was still getting overlooked. I’m still down to earth about this, but I don’t have time to please anybody with my humility.  I do what I do better than most, so I’m going to make that abundantly clear. Especially because I’m more about my music than the flash.  Most people do this so they can be seen.  It’s cool if I’m seen, but it’s more important to me if I’m heard. The purpose of the music is get the point across, mind fucking people and all that simultaneously.

SGH: Who did you listen to while you were coming up to help form your sound?  Since I was a kid I’ve always identified with that dark, harder, east coast sound.  Crews like Wu Tang and mc’s like Nas kept me searching for real shit, which I’m proud to say I still do today.

Suede: My favorite crews at that time were Wu Tang and Mobb Deep hands down.  Their debut albums were raw, east coast to the fullest. My debut may sound nothing like those but it’s still consciously gritty and east coast at its finest, (it’s) the evolution of that east coast sound maybe fifteen or so years in advance. I’m so ahead of my time (laughs).

SGH: What does the future have in store for Aj Suede?  What’s your goal, or mission in this fickle music business?

Suede: As far as the business is concerned, I might just keep it indie (since) these major labels and all that cause too much fuckery. The future of my music is going to be me making the type of music I want, signed or unsigned. The music will always progress as my artistic process continues to evolve.  I’ll do my best to make sure I don’t get too abstract with it, but even if i do, So what?

I just imagine being something like the MF DOOM or Aesop Rock of this generation…one of the most respected underground legends this game will ever see.  Even if my music was to find its way to the radio audiences and what not, I’ll always find ways to make my lines fly over heads.

SGH:  The more I listen to the record, the harder it gets for me to pin down a sound or “label”.  That’s one thing I love about it.  You’re killing verses one minute, then leaning on a dubstep beat to close the record out.  It’s refreshing to hear an artist who works within himself, which becomes a reflection of you. It doesn’t lend to being confined to one particular sound or style.  If you had to describe your music to someone who’s never pushed play, never heard a second of it, how would you do it?

Suede:  I try not to label it so much myself, because once somebody is too self aware of the music they’re making it loses its authenticity. Every time I make a beat I never have any idea how it’s going to turn out.  Some producers have a blueprint for every track, I just let my soul speak.  I’d rather consider it multi- genre so it doesn’t have to conform to the standard of “rap” music.  It is hip hop, but maybe hip hop twenty or thirty years from now. I just try to make music for people that know music.   Not radio shit, not top 40 hits or whatever. Just music, past present and future.

SGH: Lastly, what’s the future have in store?  And I have to ask, what’s your drink of choice?

Suede:  In the future I’m just gonna kill shit, once the right people wake up to the type of music I’m making, we gonna kill shit… have legendary rare shows. Party with models and all that. I’m just gonna keep making good music for my supporters and disrespect my haters on a hourly basis. I plan to shit on alllll my haters…and my drink of choice, Keystone and Pinnacle. ———

Well said young man, well said.  Head to http://www.ajsuede.bandcamp.com and bathe in the Gold and Water.

Tight Rope Walker

Alex Clare, one time boyfriend of “legendary” train wreck Amy Winehouse, is a bit of an enigma.  A co-worker turned me on to him after a brief conversation which revealed nothing more than Clare was great, but in a way that defied traditional labels or genres.  I spent an hour listening to this guy and I’m still trying to sort it out.

There’s immense talent here.  The dude can sing.  He sounds like Jason Mraz after a carton of Camel Unfiltered.  The music is another story.  There’s no one word or style to align it with.  Imagine Dan Auerbach fronting the Gorillaz.  There’s some car-commercial worthy pop, electronic trickery and a Prince cover all balanced with a hearty dose of blues.

Clare’s excellent debut record, The Lateness Of The Hour, is all about dark times in a lonely mind, but luckily the gloom doesn’t outweigh the beauty.  Put your headphones on and try to follow this from track to track as the sound pinballs around the room.  iTunes has the record for eight bucks, so don’t steal this one you cheap bastards.

If It Ain’t Broke…

nahright.com

This week, Harlem’s ASAP Rocky dropped “Goldie”, the first single from his upcoming major label debut, LongLiveA$AP.  A chopped and screwed vocal hook, handfuls of high-fashion name drops and a staggering dose of confidence jam-pack these three minutes and fifteen seconds. Seems like Rocky is staying true to form for his legions of new fans.  In a blink he’s started to carve out a niche for his ASAP crew.  Truth be told, this single is a fucking monster.

Production is handled gorgeously by Hit-Boy, known for his stellar board work on “Niggas in Paris” and Kanye’s recent “Theraflu”.  Club DJ’s will certainly wear this record out.  A 4th grade recorder melody climbs and crashes over a futuristic bass line while the percussion hiccups between strange chants and cheers.  Only thing missing is the sound of bottles popping while glasses clink.  The fresh scent of the young and rich is all over this one…

Giving Chase

hypetrak.com

Jesse Woodard is chasing cash.  Jesse Woodard is Chase N. Cashe.  See what I did there?  Cashe is a double threat producer/rapper coming to us from New Orleans, Louisiana.  Although he hails from one of the most distinctly unique cities in America, Cashe doesn’t necessarily embody the sound of the south.  There’s a hint of southern bounce in his production, but I hear the heavy boom bap of the east coast throughout his newest project, The Heir Up There.

Cashe reminds me of Swizz Beatz, another producer well-versed in the art of constructing a monster track who decided to step behind the mic.  Just like Swizz, the results on Cashe’s record vary.  There are shining moments like “Drug M$ney” and “Daily Routine” mixed along side epic failures like “Take A Look” and the painfully contrived “All In”.

All things considered, Cashe’s future is bright.  His production resume boasts collaborations with Eminem and Lil Wayne, so if all else fails he can always step behind the boards.  This spring, Cashe’s momentum landed him the opening spot on Drake’s Club Paradise tour alongside A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, so exposure shouldn’t be a problem.  Heir Up There is available for free all over the web…support this New Orleans hustler.

 

Head Or Gut?

Baltimore’s Dope Body pummel you with sound.  But once you move past the fuzzy, distorted assault and dissect it a bit, you realize…there’s some melody in there.  Hip hop influence?  Is this a bunch metal kids?  Did someone spike their record collection with LP’s by 400 Blows and Rage Against The Machine?  Do they love Prince and the NPG as much as I do?  I digress.

This is cacophony at it’s finest.  Raw,vicious and creative as fuck.  Noise bands often catch a bum rep, but that’s a misconception.  Homework assignment:  figure out how to make your guitar squeal like that.  Make it sound like hiccups and DJ cuts.  Report back when you’ve got that sound hammered out, and good luck.

Dope Body dropped their debut Nupping last year and 2012 will see the release of Natural History on Drag City Records in May.  Imagine Faith No More dry-humping Shellac in a room full of custom amps and you’re starting to get there….