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Currently Browsing: Hip-Hop

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 are all definitely 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, if not be actively be involved in creating this beat culture. The variance and experimentation these beats makers play around with should be admired by all.

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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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Rap Finesse

Hip hop is expanding in sound & style

We haven’t done a list on hip-hop for years. In 2015: Adam Vida, Anderson .Paak & Goldlink were our hope to revive hip-hop. As much as our love for them have grown more than many, our focus has still been with dance & soul music.

We did collect fifty songs with emcees that got talent. More for their cadence and flow than lyrical depth, but with one usually comes the other (not always). These emcees more than ever before come from different backgrounds with all types of styles and sounds. We’ve even got some from the UK.

I bet the next one in two years will have even more countries.

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Goldlink: Got Rap Game

Part three of the best MC's

Last year three MCs got me loving rap again. A-1 (Adam Raps) was first, and shortly after Anderson .Paak and Goldlink. I’ve highlighted the first two before, but Goldlink is doing as well now as he did back then, so I thought I’d highlight him now.

Fall in Love is my favorite of his and it’s only been out for a month. Rarely does a song live up to its hype when three great musicians get together on it, but Kaytranada & BadBadNotGood work well together with Goldlink’s style.

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Hiero Day 2015

Annual festival in Oakland

Hieroglyphics is a hip hop group out of Northern California. Each year they celebrate new hip hop talent with their own festival in Oakland on Labor Day. I got the chance to cover their show this year and even though there were over a dozen quality performers to see on each stage, I was there for one.

It took me over three hours to get to Hiero Day, public transit wasn’t doing so well. When I got there the temp had to be hitting on 90 and everyone was looking for shade to sit in. But I had to find Anderson .Paak. The main reason I was there.

I caught him right before his performance on the Third Eye stage. I ran up to him like a giddy fool and blathered about my love for his music. When I realized how foolish I was sounding, his manager assured me that they all felt the same way too. We talked a bit longer about other LA emcees, I actually told him the only other one that could compete with him was Doja Cat. He got a kick out of it.

His performance on stage had just as much character as his music, along with the short time I talked to him. The day was a highlight I’ll be holding on to at least until next Labor Day.

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