Brooklyn’s Walking Dead

stereogum.com

The higher high.  The chase.  The glory.  Spilled guts and empty forties everywhere.  Roll that shit, light that shit, smoke it.  These words could serve as the liner notes for a night alongside the Flatbush Zombies, a Brooklyn crew making major waves in the independent NY hip hop scene.  Young, black and gaudy, the Zombies unabashedly abuse narcotics somehow making Curren$y’s weed odes seem low key.  Their Pharcydedness will have you scratching your heads because their love for trees comes second only to their passion for rhyming.  And god damn they can spit.

Their cryptically titled debut D.R.U.G.S (which stands for death and reincarnation under god’s supervision) is one of the most solid releases I’ve wrapped my head around all year.  The drug references come a mile a minute, but the substance is substantial. “Mary, Nothing Above Thee” is a stoner banger with sinister bars from MC’s Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice bolstered by pitch-perfect production from Erick Arc Elliott. Juice opens the ferocious “Laker Paper” with a verse of Three Stacks proportions if Andre had been on a thirty hour acid bender and locked himself in the booth with a 3 foot bong and a shotgun.  It’s turned up, yet mellowed by copious amounts of screwed vocals and hashish clouds.  Meech is an equally polarizing MC.  At times he’s A$AP smooth, borderline endearing, but in a breath he’s barking like Pac on the hood of a squad car.

They’re brash and over the top.  They’re young and dangerous.  They love weed.  Their impressive debut puts them in the running for the “next big thing” prize. My hunch says the Flatbush Zombies don’t give two shits about leading any revivals or representing the new face of anything. They’re too busy crafting imperfect art on their terms whether you push download or not.  Pass the grinder.  They’re smoking like it’s legal.

Grab the tape at www.flatbushzombies.com.

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Forget Me Not

notvtonight.bandcamp.com

I still have a serious soft spot for punk and hardcore music.  Even though I rode the 90’s hip hop wave to help me forget I lived in small town USA,  punk rock kept me from getting too complacent.  That’s the saving grace of punk.  It’s meant to fill you with the spirit of rebellion.  A kid like me found the exact same thing in hip hop.  The irony is, I never let one drown out the other.  To this day I’ll go from Quicksand to Nas without skipping a beat.  NYC’s No Tv Tonight is a fantastic reminder of why I was drawn to melodic, dizzying rock and roll in the first place.

No Tv blend genre lines like a MXPX/Bad Religion hybrid.  The melody is there but the edge is razor sharp.  Their debut EP, American Excess, is a welcomed burst of energy.  The band seems to walk a careful tightrope between personal confession and the ills of society.  Lead man Jaime Marcelo commands attention whether he’s singing his heart out on “Your Finer Flaws” or shredding his vocal chords on the punishing “Science”.   The most exciting thing about No Tv Tonight is their infancy.  Just three songs into their voyage and they come across as a weathered band used to slugging it out on the road 150 days a year.

The man in me wants to read a book after getting ready for tomorrow’s work day.  The punk kid wants to turn American Excess up and pull a no show in the morning. Pick up the EP for two bucks at www.notvtonight.bandcamp.com.  Follow on Twitter @NoTvT.

Lord$ Have Mercy

datpiff.com

Love or hate the pretty motherfucker, A$AP Rocky seems to make good on his promises.  He delivered a stellar tape with last year’s LiveLoveA$AP, a project sold strictly on word of mouth and a few cameos.  And since he’s been hyping a full on project from his crew.  Last night saw the web drop of Lord$ Never Worry, the first proper release from the A$AP Mob.

The tape is exactly what you should expect from this stylish young crew.  There’s some substance, some filler and some heavyweight punches.  Like their leader, the A$AP Mob comes hard like there’s something to prove.  The tape carries that chip on its shoulder from start to finish.

Like most high profile releases, the features are impressive.  Rocky and Jim Jones creep on “Freeze”, brought to eerie life by Clams Casino.  Danny Brown and Gunplay lend heavy hands to “Coke and White Bitches 2” while newcomers Flatbush Zombies freak out on the fantastic “Bath Salt”.  More importantly, the Mob show they can stand alone, with or without Rocky.  Ant, Twelvyy, Ferg and Nast each take turns in the spotlight, and none disappoint.

New crews seem to be a dime a dozen these days, yet staying power is the issue.  Unlike Tyler and company’s Odd Future, who chose to bombard you with shock and awe, the Mob balances skills and style like a young, more fashion forward Wu.  All in all, there’s nothing about the Mob we haven’t seen before.  The clothes, the weed, the lean, it’s best in show.  But they do possess an ace up their tailored sleeves, a sure fire chart climber in Rocky.  I have a feeling this is only the beginning for the Mob.  With his flair, prospering shouldn’t be an issue.  Never worry.

 

Change Your Mind

silive.com

What you listen to in the car is similar to a bumper sticker.  The sounds radiating from your idling ride at a red light provide an auditory glance into your inner gears.  Think about it.  If you pull up next to some dude banging his head to Pantera, or a car full of kids listening to Katy Perry, you immediately toss out some sort of judgement.  Remember the scene in Office Space when the unassuming nerd is sitting in traffic rapping along to his favorite “gangster” rap?  You judge.  Don’t act like you don’t.

Lately, I’ve been tuned into a Brooklyn (by way of Jersey and Rhode Island) three piece called Lame Drivers.  Some websites call them a crass clash of The Replacements and a younger, more lean Guided By Voices.  And while I hear blissful moments of guitar pop and flashes of angry punk, I hear bits of 90’s Touch and Go noise bands and the slacker vibe of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr.  Heavyweight name dropping aside, Lame Drivers are gorgeously all over the map, as their moniker suggests.

Their recent release, Crusin Classics 2003-2010, is a sprawling career collection that gives you a true taste of the Lame in all its glory.  The tape-quality demos are there in all their cheap-fi classiness.  The pop glimmers and the punk crackles.  All in all, it’s a collection worthy of a listen.  More importantly, one that deserves discussion.  A band this talented and versatile deserves some shine.  You can stream and purchase the record at www.lamedrivers.bandcamp.com/album/cruisin-classics-2003-2010-vol-1. Turn it up.

Nomadic Culture

visionsofmusic.files.wordpress.com

There is a rich history to Harlem’s mysterious rhythm.  Home to Big L, Biz Markie, Immortal Technique and the historic Apollo Theater, there’s a nationalistic air to those who call Harlem home.  Street smarts counterbalance style while substance on the mic is an absolute necessity.  MC/Producer Nomad is among the new crop of talent continuing to carry Uptown’s legendary crown.

Raised on a rugged diet of Kool G. Rap, Raekwon and MF Doom, Nomad’s take on the game is a focused balanced between street sense and the quiet cool of a jazz DJ.  His recent project, the leftovers, is a showcase meant to broadcast Nomad’s double threat abilities on the mic and behind the boards.  At times he attacks the track like Havoc of Mobb Deep and in a blink lays back and vibes like a young Q-Tip.

Leftovers feels like an amuse-bouche.  His upcoming fall release, Pulp Fiction, will be Nomad’s proper introduction to the world, a full plate piled high for our rabid audio consumption.  The lyricism is here.  The style is evident.  Most importantly Nomad breathes and bleeds NY.  And you all know how we feel about that.  Get your hands on his work at www.fightkilldie.com.

Right Minded

Facebook.com

“I’m gonna be like, the nigga that was greater than Jordan, but nobody ever seen him play.”  Those simple words encapsulate the sentiment found throughout XRAY3D by Left Leberra.

I actually dreaded writing this post.  Not because it doesn’t deserve the coverage. Not because I couldn’t think of the right words.  I’m not bashful when it comes to discussing the music that moves me.   My apprehension came from the fear that I wouldn’t convey the proper feelings of this body of work.

Left is an MC with stream of consciousness flow that takes shape in his soul.  His fear is that we won’t get it.  Our fear is that we’ll relate too much.  He’s content to watch from the window while the rest of you posture up for instagram shots.  Little does he know, we feel what he feels.  This so called “style movement” currently sweeping the internet and Twitter by storm isn’t real life and Left Leberra knows it.  He dives thirteen tracks deep on XRAY3D creating art in that dark space the masses don’t bother to explore.

Left Leberra rhymes over spacey beats courtesy of Northern Lights stuffed full on a diet of sticky green and anti-depressants.  His rainy day flow begs listeners to look inside themselves and face the reality of the struggling youth in America.  Most importantly, he’s an artist with a knack for songwriting, crafting quality and placing it above quantity.  What I love is that Left doesn’t care if you get it.  In fact, he’s ok with the fact that you probably won’t.   Download his work at www.leftleberra.bandcamp.com.

 

Relaxation Techniques

Justin $tash courtesy of facebook.com

Relax. A simple word meant to calm the nerves and wash your soul with inner peace. But what happens when Relax becomes the motto of an empire? The mantra for a generation of skateboard kids with heads full of promise and the tendency to do as they please? The result is Urban Relaxation, the 2007 brain child of Floridian designer Justin $tash.

Urban Relaxation is a streetwear brand originally designed for skaters but has branched out to the young fashion-forward hip hop world. The designs smash your senses with images of urban life, splashed with the presence of famous faces from our cultural and social consciousness. When asked about the motivation behind such an aggressive brand $tash replied, “music inspires me everyday. I can’t go a day without listening to it.” With a DIY approach and a minimalist aesthetic $tash claims, “the brand is all about being yourself and not giving a fuck.”

But who really rocks Urban Relaxation? The answer is simple, “We target skateboarders, but Urban Relaxation is for anyone who is relaxed.” The public agrees and the response has been overwhelming. The brand makes a statement and reaches over twenty-five thousand followers a day on Twitter. New designs are discussed by fans and followers daily. $tash is confident in the push from social media suggesting, “twitter has been alright. It allows us to update our fans easier and quicker.” But he feels the company would survive without it , “my company has always had traffic, even before Twitter.”

Music is the motivation behind the brand, and $tash was quick to mention that his current playlist involves anything with the New Orleans sound, including the Hot Boys, Lil Boosie and the No Limit crew. That left of the dial mentality has pushed the brand to the edge creating controversial designs featuring images of the late Easy-E and Hitler, sporting the RELAX tag across his sinister chest.

How does the brand justify creating and marketing images that many might deem offensive? $tash doesn’t deny the potential to offend, but stands behind his work claiming, “We’re daring. We do things other lines would never pursue.” That daring mentality and eye for designs that are unabashedly unique have caused waves of rabid fans to visit the Urban Relaxation webstore and spend their hard earned guap on hoodies, tees and hats. To date, the “Relax” products are among the brands highest selling pieces.

What’s next for Urban Relaxation? A Lil B collab? Raider Klvn tees? A solid guess would be anything that turns heads and gets the credit cards swiping. $tash’s response was simple and confident. “We want to take over the clothing industry.”, Well said young man. www.theurbanrelaxation.com is the spot to spend some bread and check out the blog. Cop a piece and support the RELAX movement. Woosah.