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Currently Browsing: Hip-Hop

Motez with the GoldLink Remix

Unpacking a song takes more than a few listens

The best way to figure out if someone’s gonna like your track is to expose it to them in a few different ways. Not by flooding their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with impersonal self-promotion, but going to where they listen.

I first heard about Motez’s remix of “Palm Trees” by GoldLink when I dug into GoldLink’s catalog two years ago. It was just a good remix at the time but set the seed for something bigger.

Six months ago, I saw the GoldLink remix pop up in my Discovery Weekly playlist on Spotify. After that I started placing it everywhere I listen: resharing it on SoundCloud, playlisting it on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music.

What makes it so special is its longevity – when novelty doesn’t fade fast and nuance unfolds slowly with every listen. When a track you’ve heard at different times in your life becomes a part of your story. I’m still unpacking this one two years later.

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JID

Slick talker

JID’s hit, Never, reminded me of Anderson .Paak, but the Atlanta-based rapper gets compared to Kendrick more often. His rap style may not be as pioneering as the two yet, but he has a finesse with words just as good.

With rap and other forms of rhetoric, I’ve always been less about what you say and more about how you say it. I have to know a rapper’s style intimately before I try to understand what they’re saying. I still may not be getting the knowledge in rap that I do in longer forms of written word – mostly audiobooks & podcasts – but wordplay like JID’s is just as inspiring.

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Rap Finesse

It's not about what you say, but how you say it

There are two types of music people. Ones who care about the lyrics and ones who care about the sound. Ya, you can be for both, but you’re also for one. I’m about the sound. Even with rap, it’s not so much about what they say, but how they say it.

I was listening to a Del a few years back and in one of his tracks I always thought he was saying “phonetical finesse.” Turns out he wasn’t, but those two words since have summed up what I love so much about hip-hop: wordplay.

Rap Finesse is a special playlist because a lot of the artists on here (towards the bottom) are the reason I started caring about underground, independent, and locally-known music. There wouldn’t be a Silence Nogood without ’em.

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Late Night

When you wanna relax

Not only do I listen to music actively more than passively, but it’s usually for a purpose. I constantly think about how the song playing fits in with the rest of the music I collect. And how I conceptualize it as a whole.

I’ve created about a half dozen playlists for relaxing. They’re all primarily beat-driven, but I think they’re even more jazz inspired. Quite a few people have taken issue with me classifying these playlists as jazz, but I hear the inspiration more than ever.

I’d go as far to say many jazz legends would appreciate it, if not be actively involved in creating this beat culture if they were here today. The variance and experimentation these beats makers play around with deserves respect.

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Channel Tres with the funk flare

from DUCKWRTH to his self-titled EP

Channel Tres has hits, mostly with DUCKWRTH. I’ve seen both live a few times and they’re charming as hell on and off stage. Ask my girlfriend. But Channel Tres just came out with his self-titled EP and it’s unexpected & good. My favorite combination.

I may not love it like I love his work with DUCKWRTH, but it’s hard for any artist to top what made them so special to you in the first place. The follow up is a big step, but like all great things, give it time. Tres’s production is my favorite in funk with some synth flare. He changes it up enough from DUCKWRTH to his own voice to keep it fresh. Definitely wasn’t expected.

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You can tell it’s Smino from the start

Whether he sounds like Mac Miller, Outkast, or Danny Brown

I hate PR people. Or at least people who bulk email me about an artist’s latest single. I didn’t ask for that. I don’t want this. I can find it on my own. I’ve been so scarred by it that I don’t trust most people with recommendations, but that’s exactly how I found out about Smino.

I went to Blurry Vision, a first year Oakland hip hop festival, where Smino was supposed to play. A coworker said that I should see him. That was the only reason she was going, along with NxWorries’ first festival show. Smino didn’t end up showing, it happens, but I did listen to him all the way through on SoundCloud. Now he’s my #1 person to see live. Well, behind Bill Withers and a few others.

He has some serious amount of music. He reminds me of a few different rappers from a few different songs. Mac Miller on “Ruby Red”, Outkast vibes on a few, and even Danny Brown in “Home Invaders.” Whatever he sounds like, like Dre said about Anderson .Paak, you can tell it’s him from his first word on a song.

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Anderson .Paak is the nicest guy

And his 'Bubblin' is bangin

Anderson .Paak is probably the nicest musician I’ve met. I got the chance back in 2015 at Hieroglyphics’ annual Hiero Day. I’m pretty awkward with most people, let alone ones I look up to, but he took it in stride. Others haven’t been so kind and that’s why I support him as much as I do. Well, more so because he’s one of the best musicians active right now, and my favorite performer to see live. I think I have eight times now.

He’s been playing ‘Bubblin’ live at his shows, and it sure as hell prepped me for the release. When it dropped it felt like it was another one of his classic bangers. Maybe it will be.

.Paak also released a music video, which always distorts my view of the song, but thankfully in a positive way with ‘Bubblin.’ The man can do no wrong right now.

Make sure to check the rest of his catalogue (before Malibu), especially his song ‘Get Along’ with EOM & Blu.

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Hiero Day 2017

Grown from Oakland

I talked about 2017’s Hiero Day with my manager at work, who use to be on Hieroglyphics’s label. We talked festival logistics, from pricing to setting up stages, and what makes a festival last. The one thing Hiero Day has above any other festival is its community.

Not many rap groups get a day commemorated to them by their city, and in turn make it a day of giving local musicians & artists a platform to show off their work. It’s a festival that’s grown from the area rather than copied and planted into the scene like many other festivals.

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DUCKWRTH

Funk wave to punk rage

I gotta give this to my girl. Not only did she push DUCKWRTH’s music on me, but also made sure I saw him at SXSW. I liked his song ‘I’m Dead’ at first, but after seeing him live I’m been obsessing over everything else.

I usually pride myself on pulling the best songs from an artist’s catalogue, but I pretty much like every damn song of his, especially off his latest album, I’M UUGLY. Back in 2014, DUCKWRTH’s music felt like a futuristic ominous acid trip – like Zion I, Illogic, or Deltron 3030 – but he’s expanded his sound since. DUCKWRTH’s even got a half funk, half punk song, and it works. Especially live with that style he’s rockin.

His live show and music is what’s going best for him right now, but all with the help of DUCKWRTH’s fashion style and graphic design work, which he does all of it. Makes for a much nicer package to promote.

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THEY.

Smooth words/trap beats

They. played at least a few times last year at SXSW, but I missed one because of The Roots fiasco.

They’re kicking off their tour this year and San Francisco is their third stop. I don’t know if I’ll be going to see them in SF, depends on if the lady likes the playlist, but I’ll definitely be seeing them in Austin at SXSW this year.

Especially since the company I work for is hosting them.
See you there?

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