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Jus Biz by Diverse

"Diggin' my music is more than just biz."

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A friend of mine from Chicago told me about Diverse and a few others from Illinois. Been listening to ’em all lately, and although Diverse wasn’t my overall favorite, Jus Biz has been one of my favorite singles so far. Diverse just hasn’t put enough out yet for me to really grasp his sound. My first thought of him was that he sounded a hell of a lot like RA Scion from Common Market. It may not be as apparent in this song as in others, but their voices are damn near close. Other than that I really like Diverse’s rap style, he’s got real character. He often collaborates with RJD2, Prefuse 73 & Madlib, so you know his beats are gonna be quality, definitely including this one. Tell me what ya think, and check me out on twitter ’cause I need more followers! :D

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[audio:JusBiz.mp3|titles=Jus Biz]

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European Comfort by Gota Yashiki

(Better than) just elevator music.

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Another goodie from Gota! One of my first posts was Gota’s All Alone, and now I come to you with his second, European Comfort. It may not be as good as All Alone (in my opinion), but it’s got a nice calming tune that’s perfect for an elevator… or better! I’ve gotta say, one of Gota’s best abilities is combing instrumentals in such a fluid way. He’s what really got me into this new style of jazz… well, him & DJ Okawari… and I guess you could throw Nujabes in there too.

I’m actually trying to get into more current jazz (like Gota), but it’s proving hard to find what I like (it’s always difficult getting into new genres). And I’m finding with nu jazz or acid jazz (or whatever you wanna call it) that a lot of it does remind me of elevator music, boring and repetitive (unlike Gota). So, if you have any suggestions, please oblige me. Also, tell me if you’d consider this elevator music, now that I’ve engrained it into your head…

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[audio:EuropeanComfort.mp3|titles=European Comfort]

She Said by The Pharcyde

"I'll give you the world if you want."

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This is my 2nd posting of The Pharcyde (1st post). I actually should’ve posted this one first, but at the time I was really into Runnin’. Anyways, I’d have to say that She Said is in one of my favorite hip-hop classics. Ever since I started listening to it (been a while), it’s always had that uncanny ability to bring out all those damn emotions in me (particularly when inebriated); and not just in this song, the Pharcyde do it consistently, emanating passion and soul throughout their music, which sadly isn’t found in hip-hop enough these days. If half the rappers had what these guys did in the 90’s, you wouldn’t need me to go digging around through endless shit to find “real hip-hop” (but that’s what I’m here for). Give it a listen and light one up (if ya got it), it’ll make it all the better ;)

Best part @ 2:53 – goddamn does Tre Hardson lay down some of the best rhymes I have ever heard in a song.

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Concentration by Quannum (feat. Jurassic 5)

Educate the young, dumb, deaf, and blind.

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If all the best artists collaborated in one song… well, this would as close as it gets. Comprising of all the MC’s from the Quannum collective, including Lyrics Born, Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truth Speaker, etc plus they managed to get Jurassic 5 to feature, as well! It may be a little dated, just over 10 years old, but the damn thing still could be considered ahead of most hip-hop today. With a simple, yet funkalicious beat produced by DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist & whoever else, it’s another keeper for the collection. I’d point out my favorite parts of the track, but there are so damn many!… okay, i’ll point out one – go to 3:12 (love the voice, love the rhym). Give a shout out to your favorite part and as always tell me what ya think…

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[audio:Concentration.mp3|titles=Concentration]

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Empire Ants & Broken by Gorillaz

Plastic Beach: a virtual vacation (with a few bumps along the ride).

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Started listening to Plastic Beach about a week ago. My first thoughts were similar to that of Demon Days, sounds good but nothing stands out. It seems like with Gorillaz, at least in my case, you need to give their albums a few listens to really feel their sound. Well, after a few listens I found some keepers, unfortunately not as many as in Demon Days.

Stylo was the first single from the album, released at the end of January of this year. Though it’s not my favorite, it’s among the better ones, some others being Superfast Jellyfish, On Melancholy Hill & Plastic Beach. But we aren’t here to discuss those, we’re here for the best (of the best), and those would be…

Empire Ants (for one). The song is split in two, the first half with vocals from 2-D (or Damon Albort in reality), with some pleasant, dreamlike instrumentals; and the second half with vocals featured from Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano, with a beat that’s straight 80’s XTC (or is that just me, I didn’t live through much of the 80’s). The song takes you to another reach, typical of Gorillaz. It’s my #1 pick, followed closely by Broken.

Broken is a little like the first part of Empire Ants, in that it has a pleasant & smooth sound (other than that, not so much). What I particularly like about this track is its soul-striken lyrics, instead of the usual drug induced ones (those can be fun too, though). They really capture the heart …or maybe that’s just my sensitive side… Anyways, it’s a well thought out track, and good for the those times of heartache … actually, that may not be the best idea (but listen to it nonetheless).

Finally, I just wanted to touch (a little) on some of the tracks that aren’t worth listening to: Sweepstakes (gets stuck in the head, and not in a good way), Some Kind of Nature (sorry Lou, ya just don’t do it for me here), and Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach (Snoop I expect much more with a beat like this). The other tracks on the album are fairly good, but I haven’t warmed up to them quite yet. Tell me what you think, and let me know what your most/least favorites are

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[audio:EmpireAnts.mp3,Broken.mp3|titles=Empire Ants,Broken]

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Feather by Nujabes

"Lettin' my soul take me away from the hurt and despair."

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As promised (from the last post), here is Akin & Cise Star featured in another classic beat from Nujabes. This may not be my favorite of his (that would be Blessin’ it), but it’s one of many in which he combines classical, jazz instrumentals in an elegance all his own; and of course slaps on a few talented MC’s to go with it. Although I’m not one who critically analyzes lyrics too often, this one has some soul searching lyrics. I guess, this is just more proof of Akin & Cise Star’s vocal talents, not to mention the talents of Nujabes.

As always, post your thoughts, follow along on Twitter, and give back some love.

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Elephant Rome by CYNE

"Creativity my deity; I worship uniqueness."

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I first caught Cise Star & Akin (MC’s for CYNE) on a few tracks from Nujabes. I was pretty damn impressed by how well they incorporated their voices into Nujabes’s sound, mainly because of their substantially differing backgrounds. I’ll actually feature one of the songs in my next post, so look out for that.

As for Elephant Rome, I wouldn’t say the beat is on par with what Nujabes produces, but it’s still fresh & on key. Both Cise Star & Akin take their rhymes and layer it on the beat with precision, but Akin seems to do slightly better job than Cise. He just seems a little more natural with the tune, where Cise is out of sync at times during his chorus lines. Other than that, it’s a great track that’s kept with me for a while; though i’ll admit I don’t listen to it as much as I use to.

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[audio:ElephantRome.mp3|titles=Elephant Rome]

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Nightlite by Bonobo

"Come let's bring light to the night of need."

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I consider Bonobo a rare talent. Not only does he resonate such an affective sound, but he is consistent at it. With a lot of musicians I come across, their albums usually consist of a fair amount of good tracks, but a greater amount of mediocre, unmemorable ones. Reasons for this vary, but it usually has to do with the record labels attempt to hurry and/or manipulate the album for monetary reasons (I love to blame them). But I’m not here to criticize “big business”, I’m here to commend unrecognized talent (or what I consider to be), so let’s get to it…

Nightlite features Bajka who appears on four other tracks from Bonobo’s most recent album, Days to Come. I wouldn’t necessarily consider her a singer, nor a rapper, but possibly something in between. Whatever you call her, she’s a poet (maybe that’s what you call her) that can harmonize with Bonobo’s beat beautifully. Some of my favorite tracks on Days to Come include her vocals (this being one), and I’m sure I’ll feature a few others in the near future. As for Bonobo’s beat, it’s a cool, 8) downtempo night in Paris (or reminds me so). Wonder if it’s inspired by classic French music

I also just downloaded Eyesdown off Bonobo’s website, which is the new single from his upcoming album, Black Sands. The expected release date for the album is March 29th of this year. Check it out if you’re into Bonobo’s sound; I’m guessing it’ll be something worthwhile (like everything else of his). Let’s just say it’s the most anticipated album (for me) in March. Well, actually Plastic Beach by Gorillaz is, so I guess it’s second.

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[audio:Nightlite.mp3|titles=Nightlite]

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Loyalty by Blue Scholars

"While the record goes round, stand up or fall down."

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I don’t need to say much for this song, it speaks for itself, especially the video (in the full article). But i’ll say a few words (it’s what I do best)… First, I gotta say, look at Sabzi in the video bumpin’ to his own beat, what a balla! (haha) He’s got to be one of the best producers out today. Producing with two soulful MC’s, Geologic in Blue Scholars and RA Scion in Common Market, as well as a host of other side projects, the guy really spreads his talent far. If I could be taught under anyone, it would be him …or Rob the Viking of Swollen Members …or K-Murdock of Restoring Poetry in Music & Panacea (i’m not picky, any would do :p). Just listen to this damn thing, and experience why the Blue Scholars, among many other Northwest artists, make their place the hip-hop scene. Oh, and post a comment or I won’t know what y’all think of Blue Scholars. And then i’ll never post any of their material again! 8-O

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Go to Sleep by Swollen Members

"So we can meet again."

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I’ve recently had a falling out with Swollen Members. Our relationship hasn’t been doing so well lately. Mainly because of their new album, but prior to that they’ve been one of my favorite groups. Swollen’s got a style all their own, blending Mad Child’s intense, high paced rhymes & Prevail’s cool-headed wit with Rob the Viking’s innovative, dark trip hop beats. The group is originally from Canada, which brings up another reason why I love ’em… they’re of the few Canadian rappers I know that don’t have the, although humbling, annoying accent; I hear enough “aboots” here in Minnesota, and it makes me laugh if I hear it come out of an MC. Another cool lil’ factoid about ’em is, among maybe a handful of others, Swollen has taken their music and independently created a successful business out of it, which I give them mad respect for.

The reason I chose Go to Sleep as my second feature from ’em (the first found here), was because of Barbie Hatch’s stunning voice in the chorus, and a stellar beat by Rob, as per usual. In fact, check out a feature I did of Rob’s, Go for Mine, on his solo-album, Beats to Pillage and Conquer by, found… wait for it… here! (a classic beat, literally)

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[audio:GotoSleep.mp3|titles=Go to Sleep]

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