El Presidente


The Dream Team hails from East Stroudsburg, PA.  There are a ton of hungry crews out there…but ambition barely explains this movement.  The team consists of stellar mc’s Aj Suede, Teck, P.Sportie, Fate, singer Ashley Johnson and the founder himself, I-Money.  They smell blood in the air…and they’re coming for the weak.  The Dream Team is young, proud and stacked with diverse talent.

May 28th saw the release of I-Money’s debut, Dreams To Reality.  The record throws you into the fast lane of this nineteen year old mc’s hustle packed to the brim with big dreams, major swagger and expert features from his teammates.  Money’s living fantastic, and he’s ready for take off.  His relaxed flow, delivered with a permanent grin, beckons comparisons to Harlem giants Big L and Camp Lo’s Sonny Cheeba.

What’s surprising about this record is that it’s a debut.  It boasts a balanced cohesion in its production and sequencing that some artists don’t find in an entire career.  It feels more mature than it should be, and that’s due to the nature of this fast-changing industry.

New artists are handling their production in-house, booking their own tours and with a high-powered laptop have the best A&R money can buy.  Complete creative control allows fantastic crews like the Dream Team to establish their brand on their terms.  Whether it’s flipping LeAnn Rimes vocal samples on “How Do I Breathe” or tweaking Cool J. classics on “Doin It Well”, I-Money delivers line after line with staggering bravado.

You can grab a free DL of Dreams To Reality at dreamstoreality.bandcamp.com Go get it.


The Product Of His Thoughts


Besides being a twenty-one year old microphone phenom (ask Heems) from Queens, Big Baby Gandhi is a small part of a massive movement.  It’s refreshing as fuck to watch New York City hip hop surge and trend-set once again behind independent acts who are carefully rooted in reality and believe their craft is equal parts skill and image.  As contradictory as it may seem; weed, solid instrumentals and lookbook photo shoots have helped this crop of new voices rise to the forefront of the urban American consciousness.

Big Baby Gandhi’s mixtape No1 2 Look Up 2 is a lesson in everyday living.  Climb into his whip and push the disc into the deck.  As you circle the neighborhood you’ll hear stories about life, dreams, bottles and broads, but most importantly, you’ll hear a young mc dripping with talent he’s not even close to mastering quite yet.

There’s an obvious arrogance here that’s undeniable and the goods are displayed on tracks like “Been A Villain” and “Boogie Nights”.  The Chippy Nonstop feature on “All Over These Titties” splashes the project with a bit of that bouncy Bay Area twerk sound.  The tape is ambitious and solid from start to finish.  As I finished watching the Nas Behind The Music a few minutes ago, it dawned on me…Queens is as relevant as it’s ever been.

Double Edge


How can it be that I miss The Blood Brothers?  Sometimes all I want to hear is the formulaic chaos of bands that seem to be having seizures on the mic.  That noise bomb isn’t readily accessible today.  Where’s the Jesus Lizard when I need them?

Digging through a few old crates this evening, I stumbled across a band from Austin, TX, The Fatal Flying Guilloteens, that I’d honestly forgotten about.  The first twenty seconds of “Onward Electric” from their terrific debut, Get Knifed, reminded me why I owned this disc in the first place.

These dudes are Iggy minus the lip gloss.  It’s a couple of drunk Texas kids beating the shit out their instruments in a sweltering, moldy basement.  Shellac without the fancy mics.  And it’s fucking tremendous.

Picking Up The Slack


“I’m just an art school grad with a God flow”, claims ShowYouSuck, the Chicago mc with a love for dense instrumentals and pepperoni slices.  And so began my love affair with his newest project, One Man Pizza Party 2: Mo Slices Mo Problems.  His tongue in cheek moniker is a head scratcher being he’s got depth and style by the boutique bag full.

Mo Slices is a fully realized record packed full of quality moments.  Outright bangers like “Blue Lobster” draw from the heavy, boombap of the 90’s while “House Of Yes” reveals Show’s human side, the side that too many rappers cloak behind gimmicks and bags of money.  Show’s more content to wander his own mazes while delivering a smooth flow full of pop culture nods and subtle boasts.  Check “Yesterday’s Clothes” for a splash of that Chicago hubris.  Mr. West, take notice.

Is it me, or are  today’s young, hungry independent rappers serving the chart-toppers one verse at a time?  I’m just saying…

Soul Brother


Kendrick Lamar’s been busy booking world famous features.  Compton’s Jay Rock keeps the streets in a choke hold and Schoolboy Q seems content to spark blunts and share bottles with the ASAP mob.  Things are happening at a break neck pace for California’s Black Hippy crew.  All the while Ab-Soul, the last of the pack to put on, quietly fucked around and dropped the most cohesive project of the entire bunch.

Ab-Soul may be the most withdrawn Top Dawg Entertainment brethren and the least “ghetto” hailing from Carson, California but he’s arguably the most talented member of the crew.  Born in raised in a family owned record store, he’s been around dusty crates his whole life and is certainly well-versed in the art of the word play. Citing crafty and clever heavyweights like Eminem and Jay-Z as influences, Soul packs his verses with a careful balance of punch lines and metaphor.

Most importantly, like his mentors Shawn Carter and Marshall Mathers, Ab-Soul effortlessly contorts his cadence to fill any sound space he’s blessed with.  That beat-chameleon quality pulls the stitches of his debut Control System tight.  The record feels flawless and unpredictable, two stellar qualities for a rookie release.  Big things coming from this young man…

This one feels real…I love that kick drum.

I’ll Have Another


Everest came to me because of my love for playoff sports.  We’re consumers at heart, aren’t we?  When better to advertise for cold beers than the NHL playoffs?  So for the first time (and presumably last), thank you Corona.  New music by way of the commercial…halleluiah television.

Everest comes off with seemingly natural power and ease.   Not surprising since they’re fronted by Russell Pollard formerly of Sebadoh, Folk Implosion and Earlimart.   2010’s On Approach displays Pollard’s proficient songwriting, but the record never caught fire.  The sounds are all over the place.  The gloomy mood of “Let Go” is a once off-thing of beauty as the record feels packed with solid folk gems meant for slow tipping on a front porch rocker.

Hearing the album for the first time reminded me of Blind Melon’s debut.  Remember the bee girl?  The song was catchy as hell…but the rest of the album hinted that the single was a purposeful touch of warmth meant to draw you in.  Next up is June 26th’s release of Ownerless.  I’m betting on a steady dose of  sweeping pop music sweet enough to make James Mercer blink a single jealous tear.  Major touring and beer commercials have a way with the magic song pen.  But this stuff has heart, and that’s not just the cold lager talking…

Sex and Violens

Tonight’s darling lads call themselves Violens (pronounced vy-lens) and hail from Brooklyn by way of Miami.  They play synths and slimy bass like the soundtrack from the sleazy bathroom coke scene in American Psycho. Violens easily could have been playing as Don Johnson leaned against the hood of a white IROC while taking long, calculated pulls from a Winston as the closing credits rolled against a post-card perfect Florida sunset.

Instead, settle for these jams pumping from a 160g classic as you pump the pedals of your vintage ten speed.  Fans of 80’s new wave who long for something terribly nerdy yet secretly hip will rejoice.  Either way, it strikes a chord.  But that’s not to say it doesn’t hold its own in today’s crowded sound space.

For every second of throwback flair found on their terrific debut Amoral, there’s a minute or two of scrappy, rhythmic songwriting to remind us that Violens take pride in their nostalgic neon backdrop.  This band seems as equally schooled in metal as they are in 60’s garage rock.  There’s a heady music pedigree here, and it glimmers.  It’s a touch of Moz, a touch of The Cure…and I can’t get enough.  Their second record, True, hits stores tomorrow.  Buy and support independent music.  I’m ordering the vinyl.