Oldie But Goodie

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I always feel so left out when Throwback Thursday’s roll around. Don’t get it twisted I appreciate paying homage to the past, frankly, that’s where all the damn gold is. I just always end up having a mental breakdown when I try and pick just one track to showcase, when there’s a plethora of choice, I usually stumble. So, thank you OME, for making this easy. Dope track, dope remix. I’ve said this time and time again, this guy doesn’t make enough music to supply the demand.

StraightFace, Curvy Music

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The beauty of working an ‘underground’ blog is that you get the standard credentials that allow you to interact with successful mainstream artists AND you get a plethora of submitted work from that next generation of replacements, i.e. the underground itself. Recently I came across some music from a rapper out of Athens, GA called StraightFace.  I don’t know much about this cat (his website won’t help you), so I’ll stick to the music here. As this single (below) demonstrates, this artist does not make your father’s sort of hip hop. This isn’t boom bap, backpack, hyphy, trap rap or any other ‘genre’ you have come to identify as hip hop. This music falls outside of the placid margins dictated by industry elites, as indicated by the Tame Impala beat, who’s a self-proclaimed maker of psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock music. Amidst the instrumental debauchery StraightFace is able to lay down some well placed lyrics with depth; a little God speak, a little ‘I still think about that girl’ talk, and plenty of questioning of purpose. I know this sounds crazy town, but trust me, take the path that is off beaten, mix it with a little of your unique creative interpretation of things and you’ll end up with product worth slanging. StraightFace forever? We’ll see, good start though.

S/O to the man himself, he seems to be doing his own PR, which would explain his persistence on Twitter. Keep your eyes peeled for his forthcoming, debut LP entitled Forever, later this year.

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.

Ab-Soul-Ute Gold

Leave it to the TDE team to drop a track that gives me a damn good reason to buck the NYC trend on ZIF. Another reference rich set of bars from TDE’s lead off hitter, Ab-Soul. For the record the fine folks at 2DBZ have got themselves a solid freestyle series going, unlike the effort DJ Booth has been trying to blast for years. Oh, and this might sound weird, but Josh The Goon is my favorite engineer, his mixes are consistently cleaner than your average, this one included. Good work Angelino’s, though for the record Ab-Soul’s not really feeling this track.

 Ab-Soul – Absolute Assassin [Soul Assassin Freestyle Sessions]

Oh, and in other Ab-Soul Twitter news, he just nabbed a feature with J. Cole. Look out for that.

Guild is Good

The word “guild” is totally one of those strange words that looks misspelled every time you write/type it out. Definition wise, a guild is an association of artisans who control the practice of their craft in a particular town. As far as we’re concerned, The Guild is comprised of four ZIF approved producers out of New York City, one of them being the ZIF famous Takstar. A few months ago he told me to look out for some group work he was on, that would be the yet to be released “The Guilded Age”. For now you can and will peep this absurdly listenable rework of one of their tracks by the uber talented Xaphoon Jones. Apparently the Knicks aren’t the only heat in town.

Review: LONGLIVEA$AP Tour

A few nights ago, even more so than usual, Las Vegas was the place to be. As part of the LONGLIVEA$AP tour,  Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues served as the perfect place for pre-Halloween madness with Danny Brown, School Boy Q and the A$AP Mob. So how was the show? Basically it was a visual representation of what one might imagine Satan’s womb to be like: full of hype-ass crazy people rapping; gas masks; black and white, upside-down American flags; light and smoke. Though Rocky  was the star of the show— fittingly so, seeing as how it is his/his mob’s tour— the night was an amazing display of each performer’s strength and personality.

Danny Brown opened up and was dope. Though it seemed like a lot of the Vegas crowd was less familiar with his stuff, he got those in the know ready to flip cars with newer cuts like “Molly Ringwald” and a selection of favorites from “XXX.” Like the blade of a ninja master, he performed song after song after song with laser-like precision. Danny didn’t bother to talk or address the crowd too much though (except for correcting an over-zealous Dopehead upon his thanking of the wrong city).

Schoolboy Q, whom you best believe is chock full-o-charisma, receives the award for most consistent crowd energy. He knows how to get the kids excited and keep them excited. Ab-Soul came out for “Druggys with Hoes Again” and then Danny joined Ab for his “Terrorist Threats” jawn. The lineup of the tour is killer for this. Since all of the artists involved have collaborated in some way, they’re able to bring each other out and really have fun. And if there is anything that a LONGLIVEA$AP show is, it is definitely fun.

Following the first two of three dudes with names ending in a “Y,” Rocky arrived and was ready to melt face. Complete with a straight-jacket-vest(?) and goon mask on, he spent equal time both solo and performing with the rest of his clan. Now, I’ve never been the biggest Rocky fan out there, but something very interesting happened during the show: he made me a bonafide fan. Between telling everyone that they were part of one big family reunion, graciously saluting and slapping his chest whenever spotting a crowd member giving him love or calling a dude onstage in order to break up a fight, this kid has class. Far removed is the image of a painfully cocky youngin’. Somehow, amidst all the jumping around, flying water, helicopter intros/outros and “I’m-the’shit-ness” required to do what he does, everyone in the world can see how real he is when he’s on stage. Unfortunately, things slowed down a lot when him and Twelvy were looking for “just one girl” in the crowd for five minutes (disappointingly for the sole reason of asking  if she would swallow his “cockiness”), but the energy managed to climb again as the show neared its end. Bottom line is that if you get the chance to go to one of the shows on this tour, do it. You don’t have to like A$AP Rocky but by the end of the night, you will respect him and know that you had a really good time in the process.

Post was written by James Shahan, a writer based in Las Vegas with published work in URB Magazine as well as ZIF. 

The Hangover (sans overpaid Caucasian actors)

So I’ve certainly been following the necromantic fancies of NY based rap group Flatbush Zombies. Needless to say we believe that they are a fundamental component of the rap renaissance taking place in New York today. In my opinion this group will do well because they are doing something that is fundamental to being successful with music nowadays, namely, creating a vision and consistently running with it. This “vision” can also be identified as a “world” and you saw guys like Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y do similar things. In the case of those commercially successful acts the illustrated world consisted of flying on airplanes and blazing bales of marijuana. Another example of this type of branding is with Joe Budden, his “world” literally consisted of his commitment to being unapologetic about pretty much everything, fans who could relate to that apathy bought in. Machine Gun Kelly and his youthful “Lace Up” take on YOLO is another prime example. For Flatbush Zombies it seems their world is a hazy place where partying and rapping make love often with the assistance of drugs and plenty of it. It’s kind of like party rap if you were already dead. Surely not everyone will jump on this hearse, but if the success of the aforementioned acts are any indication, I expect the zombies to follow suit.

Download this track here.

You can follow the moaning and lumbering @FlatbushZombies

The Opposite of a Duran Duran Song

There isn’t a rapper over 35 that still brings me joy and relevant music the way P does. (2 Chainz fans, STFU). That being said, this animated equivalent of his album cover (Mic Tyson) is yet another ingenious way to repackage the Duck Down legend.

The album  is out October 30th on Duck Down Music.
Fans can pre-order the Deluxe-Edition Album at iTunes today: http://bit.ly/mictyson

ZIF Flick: Machine – Wow (I Can’t Believe…Demons)

When I was first approached by Machine to check out his new album Selfish Bastard, I balked at the depression rap. For christ sakes, I’ve had a plethora of dark patches, who wants to listen to music inspired by such disenchantment? Unless of course having an honest conversation about emotional distress could be an artistic journey worthy of merit. This is what I found to be true when it comes to Selfish Bastard, an album that encapsulates a moment in time for a man, a very raw picture of an artist. His unique flows and keen ear for beats (check that Denmark Vessey heat L.A.P.T.) make his album more than listenable, frankly if you’re on a treadmill you’ll forget he’s spewing about breakups and jumping off bridges (he doesn’t actually do that). That being said, when I shot the music video I found it eerily simple to jump into that “mode”, the dark cave. The video is a playful interpretation of what it truly means to conceptualize not only the overarching desire to commit the act but the actual logistics as well. There is a comedic element I was hoping to convey, death can be funny, tragically we all know this. As always, we’re queuing up goodness, artists looking for video production hit us up here.

Follow the cerebral vagrancy of Machine @TheMachineRaps

Read an unbiased review of Selfish Bastard over at Mishka & a somewhat biased one at Vice.

#MuhammadShowedMe

Seems like a century ago when Lupe Fiasco dropped the skater anthem “Kick, Push” effectively making him known to every backpacker out there. As the years progressed we saw a hybrid presentation of commercial joints with cheesy features along with serious activism tracks intent on making a political statement (see Food & Liquor and The Cool vs. Lasers and Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album)  Needless to say, his activism has gotten the better of him as his career has progressed, so has his religious piety and its manifestation in his music. Lupe is a Muslim, very much anti-establishment, a vocal Obama critic and hibernates on election day. He recently has gotten a lot of press for his beef with Chicago thuggie Chief Keef and his reaction to it, which was an apparent retirement announcement. That story is lame sauce, I refuse to even link you to it. However, if you are following the events in Libya and Egypt, you’d have heard about the atrociously nauseating film “Innocence of Muslims” for which the violence is currently being attributed to.  The Israeli “filmmaker” responsible for the film clearly had an agenda intent on fanning the flames that currently blaze daily in the Middle East. Well, Lupe took to his Twitter to start a campaign dedicated to showing his fans and others how The Prophet Muhammad impacted him, all tweets were accompanied with the hashtag #MuhammadShowedMe.

The response was…well, overwhelmingly good.

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Friday Free Joints

Big Sean, Jay-Z, And Kanye West- Clique

Freddie Gibbs –  The Hard feat. Dana Williams

Mistah F.A.B. – All Slavery

Beats, Rhymes, Life

1. The first video off the Nas album will be “Bye Baby”, as you can see from the tweet from Tyler The Creator, lots of people considered this their favorite track off the Life Is Good album. Personally, I thought Nas let his feelings about Kelis shape that album way too much, this track included. Certainly listenable though, and the video is likely to be fire.

2. So it’s #TDEFanAppreciationWeek , as in Top Dawg Entertainment home of LA spitters (Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul). The plan has been to relase new music all week long from the Black Hippies, yesterday was Jay Rock’s turn, YOLA!

Be sure to keep that hashtag handy for new TDE material this week.

3. Azealia Banks recently had a photoshoot with UK magazine Dazed & Confused for their September cover. Apparently the pictures were too racy for some, six countries banned the cover. Click the cover to see more “racy” photos.

4. Toronto based rapper K’Naan is known for his global awareness and Somalian roots. His content is extrememly conscious and his poetic flow has been praised for its ability to penetrate mainstream sound, i.e. he gets radio love even though he’s more spoken word than trap rap. In true form, he will be putting out a 32-page, full-colour book, which also has a brief history of the Somalian conflict. K’Naan says “I wanted to write a children’s story that reflects the new immigrant’s sense of family and identity, which can sometimes be lost in translation. In this book, the main character is Wavin’ Flag, a song whose ownership has been long claimed by children all over the world”

5. Rumors finally became fact when Lady Gaga announced that her and Kendrick Lamar had cut a track together titled “Partynaseous”. Considering he just released “Swimming Pools” a track breaking down the dark side of heavy drinking, I am postulating that this will be something in that vein. MTV reported that the track is about “Jakarta”, whatever the hell that means, Indonesia? Gaga enticed Kendrick to talk a little about it on Twitter today. The track is due for release next month. (Good luck protecting that from a leak)

You Should Pump This Shit, Like They Do In The Future

Company Flow kingpin and producer extraordinaire El-P has been making the rounds recently, pushing his Cancer For Cure release as well as his production across the board, including the Killer Mike album R.A.P Music released last month. I would watch the video above starting at the 3:46 mark when he performs his track “Full Retard” which is a personal favorite off the album. The rest of the 7 minute video has plenty of anecdotes as well as some goofing around that Def Jux fans will enjoy thoroughly. Check the full music video as well (after the jump), I find it an educational to see the difference between an artists rendition in a music video versus a live performance. Oh, and here’s an interesting fact from the album, the track titled “Tougher Colder Killer” was inspired by a poem that El-P’s godfather wrote, and here it is:

Message found on the corpse of a soldier.Dear Enemy, I have killed your son.  He had caught sight of me and followed me.  He had courage.  I backtracked and shot him from ambush. He died quickly and with dignity.  In the quiet after, I crawled over to him.  I took him into my arms.  I kissed him.  He is my first kill.  I die with him.  My name is Tom Daly Jr..  Before I came to your country, I lived with my parents, Alice and Thomas E. Daly, in Springdale, Oklahoma.

Sevan Minasian

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Friday Free Joints

Support local artists, this week I included one from LA’s own Sunny Jackson. Happy Memorial Day weekend, leave your respective plantations and live a little.

Dom Kennedy – My Type Of Party

Freeway – Let You Know

GLC ft. Kids These Days – Pimp You (Prod. Blended Babies)

House Shoes ft. Danny Brown – Sweet 

Sunny Jackson – V.S.S.J.*

* Local Artist

Beast(ie) with that mic (RIP MCA)

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courtesy of my good friend over at DA

We all have our Beastie Boys memories, at least those of us born in the late 70’s, early 80’s. I remember thinking they were somewhat done being relevant when I was in high school, and then they dropped Hello Nasty when I was in the 10th grade. It was more than relevant, it was intrepid, it was bumped in my mini disc player at a time when I was addicted to OutKast and Tupac, it was a pleasure to be reminded that I had listened to hip hop for a while, something to be proud of. Adam Yauch died of cancer today, he was 47. RIP sir, you were a worthy harbinger of all things good.

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