Genre Setting by Top Bananas

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Looks like the heat wave that hit Los Angeles today can be applied to its artists as well. ZIF fave Top Bananas drops a remix worthy of starting your weekend off with. I don’t know much about Alex Clare, however, the track has that hard to define sound that has come to define TB’s releases. Apparently this remix was the first track that fit into the genre “FARnB” that was started by the man himself. I’ve heard nothing of this, but considering my appreciation of Top Bananas and his proximity to our HQ, I’ll be sure to ask.

Raheem DeVaughn + Frank Ocean = Thinkin Bout You (remix)

368 Music Group presents what I find to be a likeable bit of R&B with this release from Mr. Raheem DeVaughn. If you live in the Bay, he will be on a stage near you this weekend (Jan. 11 at Chrisette Michelle in SF & Jan. 12/13 at Avant in Oakland) & he will be playing the Detroit Opera House for a “Night of Neo Soul” with LaLah Hathaway and more on Jan. 20.

Danny Brown Gets Muggs

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Quick, name two things that absolutely dominated sub-commercial airplay a few years ago. How about Dubstep and Danny Brown? A few years and a whole slew of ‘bro’s’ later we are starting to see that double D action take a dip. Yes, bro’s and hipsters seem to have effectively scorched that earth. Go to a Danny Brown and/or LA Dubstep show, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Having said that, I wish the best for Muggs upcoming Bass For Your Face LP. For the record, I am a longtime Muggs fan, Cypress Hill and Soul Assassins are a big reason I ever fell in love with hip hop. However, this track sounds like a Skrillex track (which is a bad thing, real bad) and Danny Brown’s doctored vocals get lost in the noise. Head first into a bad track guys.

DJ Muggs X Danny Brown – Headfirst

Hope for the best and cop it on January 15th.

Hungry? Here’s a small bite of Paramore for Now…

Paramore has got a little bit for us to snack on now, building an appetite for more to come from the self titled album scheduled for release April 9. Can you get excited about one song in less than 60 seconds? You can decide Now & let them know if you are planning to pick this up later (single on iTunes January 22nd) @paramore.

Ab-Soul Explains That Jay-Z Verse

This was the first track that I heard Ab-Soul on, and how can one not be taken aback by that reference to his lyrical superiority over Jay-Z. I recall two initial feelings, one, I thoroughly enjoyed the track and frankly found the verse about running laps around Jay-Z playful and relevant. Second thought was, I wonder how Jay-Z would respond to this if and when he heard it? Well, apparently his response was to have him explain himself on his YouTube series, Decoded, touche Hova, touche.

Bad Behavior in the Bay

As is often the (ironic) case, the holidays are fraught with bad behavior.  Company holiday parties often extend their invites to the seven deadly sins, where guests slug down alcohol and confess lust or declare their hatred of one another.  Similarly, it’s essentially tacit that New Years Eve is about behaving in a despicable manner, an exorcising of demons of sorts before you finally decide to knock off those fifteen pounds or finally become a vegan.

Even before the holidays this year, San Francisco has had an especially fantastic run of acting in an unacceptable fashion: In the early summer the majestic Golden Gate Bridge turned seventy-five and SF drank itself silly; In Early November, despite hype of a battleground-state shootout, Barack Obama flicked Mitt Romney’s presidential bid into the trash can like it was a flyer that read “GET RICH BY WORKING FROM HOME!!!” placed on his windshield while he was getting coffee and San Franciscans again jovially pranced in the foggy streets; on October 28th, Miguel Cabrera (the AL MVP and Triple Crown Winner) of the Detroit Tigers, struck out looking on a Sergio Romo fastball,  which both contradicted the use of the ferocious cat’s name which Miggy’s team takes its name from and clinched the Giants’ second World Series championship in three years.  The city, again, went apeshit.

Chronicling this barrage of orange & black buffoonery is the newest banger from SF’s own A-1, “Double Dose.”  Along with the song itself, I love the extemporaneous thought process that I assume went into the production of A-1’s latest jam.  This video actually gives a pretty accurate depiction of the organized apocalypse that ensued that night: kids smoking copious of weed in the streets, fires, people dressed like bears clobbering folks dressed like tigers(metaphor is alive and well!) and finally a squad of torpid cops attempting to subdue the joyful scofflaws.

I’ve become a big fan of bad behavior, so long as you clean up after yourself. Happy holidays and may your days be filled with horrendously soul liberating acts of self-indulgence. Be sure to nab A-1’s latest, The Thurl Tape for free.

When All I Want Is Noise

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I don’t know if it’s just me, but after the Newtown tragedy on Friday, I’ve had a difficult time listening to everyone’s thoughts, lyrics, and opinions. Save the noise, drown yourself in music, that was my motto this weekend. I turned to one of ZIF’s all time favorite soundsmiths, Providence based, Falside. The New England connection was a coincidence  but this track (dropped yesterday) helped me forget a little , free and idyllic, classic Falside.

Peep our interview with Falside, back when he was a younger buck.

An Evening With Just Blaze and the Blazettes

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Before I begin let me say two things: first, I think DJing takes an immense amount of dexterity, reflex and an intangible sense of creating natural, yet unique, segues between records.  Second, I think Just Blaze is an amazing producer and an amazing DJ.  In fact, with regards to the second point, Blaze’s collision of buzzing synths and manipulated soul samples were the primary reason for scoping Just Blaze’s DJ set at Oakland’s New Parrish.  His time spent as Roc-A-Fella’s unofficial in-house producer paved the way for other superstar producers, like Kanye West and Pharrell, whose soundscapes would often intercept the spotlight from their lyrical counterparts.  Just Blaze is an awesome producer.  Bangers like Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and Dipset’s brilliantly subversive “Built This City” were often the panache highlights on albums.  The boasts of seemingly infinite wealth from the rappers on Roc-A-Fella’s roster, needed to be housed in belletristic and ornamental beats.  Just Blaze was the master architect behind these structures.

Also feeding the enigma I was paying to see was the fact that Blaze used to wear a diamond-encrusted Playstation controller. He also took the nickname Megatron (the Decepticons’ nefarious leader) long before the Detroit Lions star wideout.  Finally, JB often gloated about his massive sneaker-collections’ balance between quality and quantity.

Along with being aesthetically pleasing, Just Blaze producing a track was essentially integrating a “brand” into the song.  Blaze’s ethos is one that philosophically suggests that you can spend Friday night playing Street Fighter, watching ‘80s-babies cartoons and sucking down junk food. Then, come Saturday, you can rub elbows with exotic-models, ethnicities elusive, while wearing colorful sneakers (because loafers are for squares).  Of course this brand is suggesting a lifestyle which is essentially bullshit and unobtainable but it’s fun to hypothesize, and, frankly, that’s always been the beauty of rap music (or hair metal for that matter).  These hypothetical ideas were really what I wanted to be conveyed through Blaze’s 1s & 2s: Transforming robots, video games, fast-paced, aggressive, geeky rap music.

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In-Flight Movie

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Somebody get more Nocando tracks on Spotify, chop chop. This emcee has been bending my ear since I first caught a show back in ’08 (Low End possibly, back then they sold spiked brownies, so I don’t truly recall). Like many indie artists with ample time and creative license, it’s been hard to keep track of all creations. They seemingly appear out of nowhere and often are accompanied by a great anecdote. I’ll let the maestro describe his motivation for this one.

I flew regularly for 3 years straight. I still fly regularly, just not as much. In these 3 years I took over 250 flights. It sounds glamorous now but it was lonely, I found it difficult to relate to people, I got sick a lot and had a tweekers sleep schedule. Ironically on an International flight to either Japan or Australia I saw the movie up in the air for the 1st time, It made me sad as FUCK! With all of that I managed to make a love song out of it.

Spit on this video, Alexander

I hate to pigeon hole and overly simplify, but here’s another prime example of a Bay Area lyricist redefining the role of ‘conscious rap’ in Century two-one. (Yes, I’m looking at you Rey Resurreccion.) From what I can recall, Alexander Spit has been doing his thing for a minute, I’m talking Myspace era stuff. His on the verge status has been quietly picking up steam in ’12, his addition to the Decon Records outfit certainly helped. This video is DIY gold, and is off his upcoming Full length LP – A Breathtaking Trip to That Otherside, due for release 1/29/13. Just another reason I hope the Mayans were wrong.

The Afrikan Space Man

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Ras G is the #1 ranked astronaut in the Afrikan Space Program. For those of you who can’t peep your favorite cosmonaut at Low End Theory on the regular, it is a must to check in with this new and free EP, download it in it’s entirety here. Also, we are lining up some time with Open Mike Eagle to discuss his movements, including his recent trip with Ras G to Uganda, sounds ridiculously intriguing.

The Lusciously Savage Big Boi [Album Preview]

big-boi-4My favorite Outkast rapper should be your favorite Outkast rapper. Said rapper is dropping his new album on December 11th, I’ve been giving it a thorough listen prior to officially reviewing it. For those of you who can’t wait for the album or my review (guffaw, guffaw), you can check Big Boi on Jimmy Fallon tonight performing a track with Little Dragon (who are featured on 3 tracks on the album). And here’s 3 tracks off Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors for your listening pleasure.

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upbeat track which sounds a little like a volkswagon commercial, indie crooner on the hook, Big Boi’s composition as usual is unique, funny thing is this track sounds more Andre 3000 than classic Big Boi, big band feel

Thom Pettie featuring Little Dragon & Killer Mike

Killer Mike is a must feature on any future Dungeon Family product. The Little Dragon connection was a wonderful suprise, this combination flat out works!

Higher Res featuring Jai Paul & Little Dragon

Speaking of surprises, a Jai Paul feature!!! WTF! Dude is one of the most played artists on Spotify and he’s dropped like two tracks ever! This co-sign proves what we already knew, Big Boi was not given enough credit for his musical prowess in regards to Outkast’s sound.

Ohbliv Gets Tantric [NSFW]

Again, before clicking away on that video, realize it involves some nudity. Albeit some weird barely comprehensible nudity that takes place on a fictitious airplane in the 70’s, but nudity none the less. The video is a promo for the track featured on ZIF fave Ohbliv’s most recent effort, Up. Just another producer under your radar but not for long. If he’s a master at tantra, that would be TMI. But FYI, he is a master of composition, and that fact you can share with your friends.

Big K.R.I.T, Unofficially Royal

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Remember a few years ago when everyone was clamoring to be “King of The South”? That competition sort of fell off when TIP got locked up, Weezy became more interested in pulling off a kick flip and Scarface started eating Jello at his local nursery home. Well, if you revived that unofficial bout I’d take a flyer on Mississippi bred emcee, Big K.R.I.T. One thing you cannot dispute is that he knows how to make music to cruise to. His Live From The Underground LP which dropped this year is a non-stop melodic adventure that provides an ideal soundtrack to everything from an epic road trip to a quick milk run down to your local 7-11. The album has made our shortlist for Top 10 albums of the year, stay tuned for that very official tournament. Another thing I’ve always appreciated is when a rapper produces his own material, that and a good old Slim Thug appearance.

This track will be featured on clothing company SPKSMEN mixtape which drops in four days.