» LATEST FEATURES
LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
Let's begin this edition of Glaciers of Ice in the South - Memphis, to be precise. Memphis is certainly not new to the world of hip-hop, but it has most recently gained the attention of the mainstream with the Oscar-winning coupe by Three 6 Mafia this past year for their Hustle and Flow theme song. Another Memphis star, Yo Gotti, has a new LP and mixtape out that serve to showcase the blipped-out production and grimy tales of gangsta life that dominates so much of the music from the Dirty South. Gotti's sophomore release for TVT, Back 2 Da Basics, and his mixtape collaboration with DJ Drama, I Told You So, let this gritty-voiced emcee shine. For those uninitiated into the world of rap music from the South, don't expect any Outkast-style freakouts here. Although it is certainly not stankalicious, in many ways Gotti's sound is as bizarre and alien as anything leaking from the corners of Andre 3000's mind. Check out the exceptional single, "Gangsta Party," a collaboration with Bun B and 8 Ball laid over a sick, soul-sampling beat. A remix of the song appears on the mixtape, this time featuring Young Buck and Allstar. Scott Storch shows up to add some production star power on the rich, horn-laden "That's What They Made it Foe," featuring Pooh Bear. Another new release from Memphis, and perhaps the superior of these two, is Da Musicianz' self-titled debut, also for TVT. The group consists of D-Roc (Ying Yang Twins) and his brothers Mr. Ball and Da Birthday Boy. Executive produced by Mr. Collipark, this is a record that doesn't take itself too seriously, sticking with lyrical topics of strip clubs, dancing the "crazy man," and sex. Nevertheless, the beats on this collection of bangers are completely twisted, and you can hear these quick-witted emcees having a ball as they spit, making it easy to enjoy the libidinous sense of humor that dominates Da Musicianz. Check the tracks "Bust it Wide Open" and the remix of "Go Dumb."
Enough with Memphis, back to NYC we go... Smiley the Ghetto Child's new album, The Antidote (Amalgam Entertainment) is out now, featuring production from Showbiz, Green Lantern, The Grouch, and Smiley's longtime friend and collaborator, DJ Premier (Gang Starr). Smiley's story dates back to Group Home's classic Livin' Proof, which, according to his press release, he "helped orchestrate" (whatever that means). His career stutter-stepped when he went to prison for a while, but he's out of the joint now and seems to be pushing full-steam ahead with this new release. And what are the results? Well, there are definitely some standouts here - check the ominous "Bodychalk," which opens with a sample of a French version of Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," and "The Wake Up Call," a sure thing thanks to Premiere's always on-point production. The rest of the record has its highs and lows, but overall, Smiley proves himself a capable emcee who doesn't need to compensate for his own shortcomings with a slew of guest appearances.
Looking for some more mixtape fun? Two bundles of hotness recently hit the streets - DK's King Me (730 Productions) and Lupe Fiasco's Touch the Sky (Mix Unit). DK, a Baltimore-based affiliate of the Purple City crew, hits with his first mixtape, hosted by DJ Kay Slay and Shiest Bub. Highlights include the Kanye West-produced "If Not Me Then Who?" and "Mercenary," featuring the 730 Paperboyz, along with "Smoke LA," which employs a Fugees beat. DK's full and throaty voice sounds kind of like Jay Z minus that close-to-cracking quality Hovah seems to always have, and I'm anticipating good things to come from him. You've probably heard Lupe Fiasco's excellent single, "Kick Push," by now. And you're probably waiting, breath bated, for his debut, Food and Liquor. Until the food and drink drops his mixtape, hosted by DJ E Nyce, should tide you over. I've not been able to remove this from my car stereo; it's just that nice. Rhyming over a slew of secondhand beats you'll no doubt recognize, Lupe barely takes a breath as he rhymes and rhymes and rhymes and rhymes... You get the picture. From his take on Kanye's "Diamonds are Forever," here titled "Conflict Diamonds," to the ridiculous 4-minute verse of "Twilight Zone," Lupe sets himself up to be the Second Coming. The only letdowns here are the songs he doesn't rhyme on - two tracks by members of his crew, Geminii and Shayla G. Edit those two cuts out and then play this mix over and over. Even the track with Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park) is good, but that's cuz Ghostface makes an appearance there as well.
After traveling back and forth from his hometown of Detroit, Michigan to NYC to beg meetings with the RZA, the Wu's newest soldier, Bronze Nazareth, was asked by the Abbot himself to join his production group, Wu Affiliates. Since then, he's produced tracks on RZA's hit-and-miss Birth of a Prince and contributed a track to the Think Differently compilation, among other ventures. Bronze's debut, The Great Migration (Think Differently/Babygrande), is the work of someone who grew up idolizing the Wu of yesteryear, and he's determined to bring back the eerie, soul-sampling beats and hard, concise lyrics of the Liquid Swords and Cuban Linx era. Joined by Timbo King, Killa Sin, Sean Price, and a few others, Bronze proves his worth both both on the mic and behind the boards.
As for the smaller faces: Doujah Raze is back with Past Presence Features (Trilogy/Raptivism), a solid record graced with guest spots by rappers both classic and current - check out "Fahrenheit," a collaboration with A.G. and Sean Price. Doujah's flow is understated and nonchalant, but this album quietly creeps up on you after several listens, due to the solid beats and the removal of any unnecessary filler. Miami's Basic Vocab (JL Sorell, Mental Growth, Tony Galvin) deliver The General Dynamic, another pleasant surprise, due in large part to Galvin's buttery, soulful beats. Though they're far from gangsta, Basic Vocab delivers their rhymes without entering the overly-breezy territory that some so-called "conscious" rap enters. Finally, instrumental hip-hop records can be either really entertaining or really boring, and two that nudge themselves over to the listenable side of the fence are out now: E.Moss' Beatboxes at Dawn (The Consumers Research and Development Label) bridges the gap between funk and futurism, as he turns a simple bassline into a cut-up experiment ("Back to the Edit") or slows things way down, only to bring in plucked strings and bombastic drums that liven things up ("Chopin Beats and Droppin' Brahms"). Blue Sky Black Death's two-disc set, A Heap of Broken Images (Mush), is the much more atmospheric and artier of the two, although the second disc borders on straight hip-hop, featuring Poor Righteous Teachers, Sabac Red (Non-Phixion), A-Plus and Pep Love (Heiroglyphics), and Guru on the mic. The instrumental tracks made by this team of producers (Young God and Kingston) are aptly labeled "dark" and "brooding" in their press release, a gloomy and many-textured vision of hip-hop brought to life.
That's all for this month. See you at the end of June, and until then... e-mail with thoughts and insults, and send me yer shit! I'll listen to it. Glaciers is ghost like Casper.
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.
See other articles by Jonah Flicker.
» MEDIA DOWNLOADS
» GOT STICKERS?
--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.