Welcome To The Game


Isaiah Rashad’s in a unique situation.  The Chattanooga, Tennessee rapper is the newest member of the TDE family, which may be equal parts a blessing and a curse.  Seems you can’t go a day without hearing the chatter about Kendrick Lamar.  Be it the “Control” verse, reactions to it, diss records about it, writers breaking it down…only a matter of time before the talk mutes the art.

It’s nice to see some of that attention shift to the newcomer.  Rashad’s hometown pride is all over his first official release, “Shot You Down”.  Set in a housing project with boarded up windows and overgrown grass; the domino game is heated, the OE tallboys sweat in the sun, and the Caddy rims are gaudy and shining.

His flow is more Jay Rock than K. Dot, which suits me fine.  His cadence shifts as quickly as his mood, giving us a slight glimpse into the mind of a young man whose sole priority is killing the mic.


Glass Half Empty


Deer Tick’s forth studio album, Negativity, is a bummer.  It’s sad and somewhat stoic, but in no way a step backwards.

2011’s raucous Divine Providence found front man John McCauley staring into the crowd with bloodshot eyes, barking for an informal conference at the bar.  2013 brings us a new Deer Tick record, with the same wild man at the helm; yet this time out he’s at home with a bottle of scotch and a humming amp.

McCauley’s had a tumultuous last few months, dealing with his fathers incarceration and the dissolve of his engagement, so it’s no surprise that Negativity lives up to its namesake.  The tunes are turned inward, channeling the energy of a man feeling the effects of a hard charging lifestyle. 

“The Dream’s In The Ditch” is an anthem for packing it up and moving on.  It seems McCauley and Co. understand that you can find hope in waving the white flag.  Like Springsteen when he crafted Nebraska, Deer Tick is confronting the turning points we can’t escape, while writing some of their strongest songs to date.

Bucktown, USA


Smif N Wessun’s Tek and Steele have been doing things the Brownsville way since they debuted on Black Moon’s ’93 classic, Enta Da Stage.  Since then we’ve seen a name change, a legal battle, a return to their original moniker, and a handful of records including the excellent Monumental with Pete Rock in 2011.

Next up is the EP Born & Raised.  The first single, “Solid Ground”, pairs the Brooklyn duo with Junior Reid, and the Patois is a true return to form.  Summer is long gone, but this one is certainly meant for windows and tops down.   Fuck the police never sounded so smooth.


From The Westside With Love…


Dom Kennedy flat out grinds.  And after five free projects, he’s crafted the record that will certainly cement him as one of California’s most talented rising stars.  Get Home Safely loosely follows the life of a young spitter working hard, forming bonds, making records, and seeing the world.  His focus shifts, and his vision blurs, but ultimately his main priority is to make it back to Los Angeles.

Dom doesn’t run circles around the mic.  He’s not cramming his verses with punchlines and double time flows.  He keeps it conversational, and that every day simplicity is part of his appeal.  Like a young Snoop, he’s got a story to tell.  He’s seen LA and knows the ins and outs of west side living, yet he’s not boxed in by violence or blue flags.  Dom Kennedy simply calls it as he sees it, and in the meantime he’s cementing the OpM (Other Peoples Money) brand with every release.

Get Home Safely is on constant rotation around these parts.  It’s the sound of an artist coming of age, comfortable in his skin, regardless of the expectations and boasts of “Kings” and “Gods”.  It’s Dom being Dom, the best since Bobby.

Strange Tidings


Albert Hammond Jr. hasn’t put out a solo record out in five years.   Playing guitar for the Strokes isn’t an excuse either, because they only write, release, and tour when festival season comes around.  So where has Albert been?

The AHJ EP is a concise, playful, four song set that gels a bit more than 2008’s perplexing Como Te Llama, and infects you like the first time you heard “Reptillia”.  It’s mood music for your vampire weekend, without the bros and upturned collars.  A brief yet telling glimpse into the mind of a talented songwriter.

Put this on, stay up late, and do bad things.  Just make sure you’re up for work on Monday.

Dropping Gems On Your Melon

via Veeay

via Veeay

East coast hip hop is unmistakable.  There’s something about Guru, Premier and Wu Tang that fills me with an indescribable sense of pride.  Today I bring you Veeay, a Pennsylvania MC who embodies the timbs and baggy jeans ethos of ’96.   He rhymes over beats that pay homage to the classics without sounding like a badass swinging for the fences.

Recently, the Temple University scholar spoke with Shiny Glass Houses to school us on his fantastic tape Speak Easy, smoking with the gods, and how he approaches the art of murdering the perfect beat.

SGH: How long have you been rhyming?  Speak Easy sounds like the end result of someone who really studies and loves the game.

Veeay: I’d say I’ve been rapping for about 6 years. I didn’t really start recording  until I was around 18, but I was always writing low-key though.

SGH: Your tape flows, I really appreciate the beat selection. How do you pick the sounds that end up songs?

Veeay:  Everything is mostly spontaneous on how I’m feeling that day in the studio.  I’m definitely picky with drums though; everything stays true to my early hip hop influence for the most part. But when I recorded Speak Easy I didn’t really intend on making it have a nostalgic feel to it.  It wasn’t until I cut 3-4 tracks.

SGH: How much does the east coast influence you? I hear a lot of gritty 90’s NYC in your work.

Veeay: Definitely. I grew up on early Nas, Jay, Gang Starr, etc. I remember first getting hype on DJ Premier beats when I saw Josh Kalis’ part in the DC video, because me and all my homies skated back then.

SGH: If you could smoke with two rappers to pick their brains, living or dead, who would they be?

Veeay: Probably someone I see as a true connoisseur like B-Real from Cypress Hill and Snoop because those dudes are the real OG’s to the whole smoker scene before it became a fad. They probably get the best OG too.

SGH: What’s the next chapter?  You’re pretty DIY right now, but the next level seems to be a few minutes away.

Veeay: The tape is still moving so people are just catching wind of it. But as of now, I’m just starting to get more shows in and out of state.  I’m just trying to stay independent, keep pushing music and visuals out, and trying to kill the blog game because I know that’s key being an indie artist.  Hopefully form a tour with my homies The Bakery Boys soon enough, that would be epic.  Go peep them if you haven’t.

SGH:  I appreciate your time, and I have to ask… what’s your drink of choice?

Veeay: I’d say Bombay and Simply Lemonade or any of the other flavors they got out now.  In terms of non-alcoholic shit, probably green tea or water.  ——-

Stream and download the tape at http://www.datpiff.com/Veeay-Speak-Easy-mixtape.484623.html.  Veeay is officially on the radar.  The kid’s ill, write nice with the pencil.

What’s In a Name?


Last February the Stone Temple Pilots fired Scott Weiland and sued him.  Weiland’s fuck you came in the form of a countersuit.  The remaining members of STP decided they weren’t done making records and hired Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington to steer the ship.  Rock and roll drama at its finest.

Their new EP, High Rise, sounds plenty cohesive considering the band has been together less than a year.  “Same On The Inside” is the sound of stretching newly hatched legs, while “Black Heart”  feels grimy as ever, boasting the trademark sneer STP perfected over the past twenty years.

STP was always the oddball of the grunge boom.  Great pop chops blended with just enough heroin chic to keep their punk points.  The sound was always hard to pin down, but Weiland’s antics too often kept the focus off the great music they were creating.  Here’s to a future without the tabloid fog.