AZ – We Movin (Prod. by Statik Selektah)

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People like to refer to AZ as one of the most underrated MC’s of the past two decades, and in the time since his appearance on “Life’s a Bitch” (Illmatic’s only feature) it’s safe to say that the New York rapper hasn’t really gotten half the attention that most expected him to. He popped up on that lame ass Firm album, and he rapped on plenty of Nas’ mediocre LP’s over over the years, but AZ never really got his due — and at 41 years old, it’s safe to say he never will.

Regardless, 1995’s Doe or Die is a classic no matter how forgotten it’s become. Since that gritty debut, AZ’s discography offers a relatively mixed bag. He’s always worked with some great producers and there are plenty of killer tracks to filter through on Youtube, but AZ has never put together another solid long play and again, he likely never will.

But collaborations like “We Movin” with producers like Statik Selektah are exactly the appeal of AZ at this point. Give the man a soulful beat and he’ll go in, like he always has. AZ’s voice has preserved itself remarkably well (the dude still sounds 20 on this track) and his flow has shown no signs of age. “We Movin” is 100 percent smoothness, and AZ tears it up in a way that sounds utterly effortless. Songs like this make me hope that AZ gains a little bit of focus. All he needs is a good beat and that’s pretty much all Selektah ever does — provide good beats. Check it out below.

 

Below are some of my favorite AZ tracks that any fan of hip hop should love.

— Daniel

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Bambooman – “Hollowed EP”

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There seems to be a certain bit of ambiguity with genre names, especially in the world of electronic music. What happens when you have a producer who is equally influenced by the likes of hip hop as they are electronic music? While current trends have us believing this sound is called trap, but not everything in this electronic/hip hop hybrid is made for the dance floor and polluted with snare rolls and “Damn son, where’d you find this?” It’s not surprising that hip hop and electronic music have become bedfellows seeing as both essentially came into existence as music created by DJs. When Frankie Knuckles and The Belleville Three created house and techno respectively, they probably never assumed their sound would fuse with the New York born hip hop shaped by Kool Herc. British producer Bambooman shows us that immaculate mix of both by delivering an EP of chilled out hip hop with surprisingly rich textures.

On Bambooman’s Hollowed EP on Sonic Router Records we see this infatuation with two seemingly different genres play out. While the drum patterns are very distinctly hip hop in nature, provoking a head nod to the slowed down beat. The thing that makes this EP stand out so far from everything else is the textural element. Songs like “Stacks” and “Irish Moss” deliver a very mesmerizing image sonically. In particular some very liquid textures in “Irish Moss” are reminiscent of Balam Acab’s Wander/Wonder. Bambooman is very great at taking your mind on a ride and does an excellent job of creating a whole world in front of you using just a sonic soundscape.

Even without the rough and tumble textures, tracks like “Frost” and “Hollowed” use great work with synthesizers that seem to float above your hear. These synthesizers aren’t misguided though, as everything seems to have it’s place in the mix. Particularly on title track “Hollowed” every sound has it’s place, with no range in the frequency spectrum overpowered or out of place. The ringing bells seem to battle the stabs of the synthesizer, but in the end everything compliments each other in an amazing way.

The EP is bookended by a pair of remixes, on by Zack Christ and the other by Eckoclick. Zach Christ’s remix of “Irish Moss” is more percussively driven than the original and falls into the same vein as the rest of the album and gives probably the most uptempo hip hop moment of the EP without sacrificing the sources eerie textures. The Eckoclick remix of “Sun” on the other hand takes us more towards the dancefloor albeit a still chilled out hazy one. Again retaining the liquid textures and driving clicks the propelled the source forward it adds a thumping four on the floor rhythmic pattern that will get anyone dancing.

Sonic Router has always been known to deliver on weird hybrids of genres with releases from Torus and Hav Lyfe in the past. Leeds based Bambooman continues this tradition by releasing one of the year’s richest and most rewarding experimentation in hip hop and electronic music.

Odesza interview + new song

During Springfest 2013, KZUU was able to bring Odesza down to Pullman to perform. Our RPM director Nick got an interview with the duo (comprised of BeachesBeaches & Catacombkid) before they went on stage. (You might remember them from the “Summer’s Gone” album review we did last year.)

We’re here with Harrison and Clay from Odesza. They are still on their tour, I believe, for their Summer’s Gone album. Tell me, how’re you taking in all the hype and the reactions you’re getting from your album so far? No one will have ever expected it but, just talk to me about it?

Harrison: It was definitely completely unexpected, it’s very unreal. We were hoping that like a few blogs liked us, like a few blogs we followed would be interested but yeah the overall response we’ve gotten has been insane, we didn’t know what to expect, we’re still kind of numb to it because it’s so new and we’re still kind of like as much music as we can right now. We’re working on two EPs right now, we’re like twelve songs deep, so just trying to produce and get better and learn more and hopefully play more shows.

Clayton: I mean, it’s a pretty humbling experience, honestly when we started I don’t we’d ever thought we’d get any of the response we did, it’s pretty of outrageous, but everyone’s been really nice, I mean I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, so figured we’d just keep rolling with it, see what happens, make some more music, and hopefully people like it and just keep going, day by day.

Where have you been so far on your tour, has been mainly just the west coast?

H: Yeah we’ve only hit the West coast, and we hit Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico and a few random spots out there but we haven’t gone too far east.

Are there plans for that?

C: As of now they’re in the works.

H: We got some tours that we’re hoping to jump on for people we really like, and we can’t really say anything yet, but if we jump on them that’d be amazing.

Big names?

H: Yes.

Sasquatch. That must have come as a surprise.

H: That’s a dream come true, we can pretty much die after that show is done.

C: Retire and be done.

H: (laughs) yeah we can retire after that.

Was that just like a call that randomly showed up or an email or was this totally out of the blue or was there kind of some work involved in this?

H: Our booking agent Jay at FlowerBooking, he’s the man,

C: He is the man!

H: He really hyped us, he put down his reputation for us, he pushed us really hard for Sasquatch and we surprisingly got it, so we’re just really lucky and Jay has been awesome to us so hopefully people like what we do there.

Where does Odesza go next in terms of music? We know your first album was great, and you can definitely say you’ve definitely set a sound with that, where does it go from here?

H: I’ll let Clay hit this one.

C: So, the newer stuff that we’ve been working on it’s a little different, it’s not too far different, like the whole sound design and the process of which we go about making the music is pretty much the same, but we’ve been influenced by so much new music in like I’d say the past six months that you can’t go on making music without being influenced by what you’re listening to, so it’ll definitely be a different take on a kind of genre and style that we’ve already kind of solidified. I mean when you’re making electronic music the process is kind of what defines your style. How you go about making music is what defines how the end product sounds and how what you start with, what you build off of, is all very important to the whole thing so we’ve kept that same but kind of taken ideas and new facets of that and kind of just run with it.

H: Yeah, as to what to expect…as far as up-tempo tracks, there’s going to be a lot more up-tempo because once you go touring your realize how people react to stuff especially the up-tempo dancier stuff. I mean people come to the shows most likely so they can have a good time and dance and hang out, and the up-tempo stuff, you see the reaction. I think overall our sound is just getting bigger. We’re trying to add way more layers, make it thicker, just try to get better as musicians in general and just beef up everything really.

You mentioned influences. Were there really many for the first album and now? Can you shoot out some names for example and other things?

H: Oh yeah.

C: I mean, anything out of Motown era, like that soul influence, massive.

H: You’re going to hear a lot of that.

C: Four Tet was a big influence for me for example, all his stuff has been absolutely amazing. Gold Panda, I could go on for a while.

H: Lapalux, the new Bonobo record, it’s phenomenal.

Oh my god, isn’t it good?

H: I’ve been playing it nonstop in my car. Literally, we study that music. We sit there and go “okay so he must have made that clap through like…” it’s kind of ridiculous. Any one of our friends hate us while we listen to music. Flume, his album was incredible. We’ve just been like sifting through soundcloud constantly and making beats after we listen, so it’s just kind of like we take what we really love about other songs and try to incorporate things we like.

Where are you guys actually from? Because there’s rumors of like Bellingham, and Everett and Edmonds thrown into the mix.

H: I don’t know about Edmonds, but he’s from Bainbridge Island and I’m from Redmond, Washington. Both of us went to Western [Washington University] which is in Bellingham and that’s where we met, and that’s where we made half of Summer’s Gone and other half was us just bouncing around from our houses and just kind of finishing it all up.

Cool. We at KZUU really like the more Northwest the better.

H: (laughs)

C: Yup. Pride. Through and through.

Odesza, thank you so much for this little bit, and I wish you guys all the best have a great show –

H: hopefully it goes well

 – I’m sure it will.

The show was a fantastic event, with vibe unlike any other show that weekend. What was especially nice was the performance of many new tracks, one of which was released shortly after the show, specifically their remix of Beat Connection’s “Saola” which is a fantastic summer tune perfect for the hazy warm weather.

All There – “You’ve Changed”

The internet can be a beautiful thing. GTB Records, an internet label whose members share an intensely personal relationship with their relatively small fanbase on Tumblr, have formed a new collective called All There, who will release their self-titled debut album sometime later this year.

All There is a collaborative project between Los Angeles electronic act Copys, hyperactive experimentalist Maxton Stenstrom AKA Infinitefreefall, Florida-based ambient wonderkid Meysell Quintana, and 16 year old songstress Pilot Chmielarczyk. And while their members reside across the entire length of the U.S., the band’s debut single “You’ve Changed” is a masterfully crafted soundscape that almost demands a live presence. Stenstrom and Chmielarczyk’s vocals reverberate and bounce through layers of trip-hop flavored ambient beauty, and each layer of the song blooms and wilts with grace. For a group who composed this entire song from various bedrooms across the country, it’s a promising single from a talented group that may be blowing up radars in the very near future.

Download “You’ve Changed” on Bandcamp now

Bonobo – “The North Borders”

After a couple weeks of weather weirdness, that crisp spring warmth is upon us. The sun is seeping through the clouds one by one. It is also this part of the year where those albums you kind of liked really let their colors shine, or sounds fly rather. Music just sounds better when the sun is out and the weather is perfect. There are many options too, in terms of albums released in the waning moments of winter, May or April. They needed that extra kick. It comes in the form of a hazy spring afternoon, when I finished my exams (oh my, I’m half way done with university already), the rays of the sun dance upon everything, and the weather is clear. This week I’ve digested so many albums that I’ve listened to for the past couple of weeks, but only with a clear mind and a clear sky does one truly appreciate an album. It’s all very exciting considering what’s on the horizon too. However, one is pressed to call such albums (those that seep their way into your brain in terms of infectiousness) “sleeper albums.” They are the ones you listen to on the side, but one day later due to some external factor (or not) you become totally hooked. Hooked beyond belief. It’s not exactly the newest thing, and hardly old either. In fact, I feel terrible for not talking about The North Border” when it came out late March. Maybe time really was all it needed. Like letting wine sit for a bit.

It really is a terrific piece of work. The production of each and every track (no, every minute) on this album is so intricate, so fresh, and it all feels very light in a way, but not in the bad way. Honest. This album certainly seems a lot more beat orientated than Black Sands and Days to Come. It’s structured, but not exactly rigid in that the loops, beats, synths, and vocals are so predictable that it would make for relatively idle album. No, it’s quite the opposite. But the best part is the familiarity one hears with the use of other instruments in the music, ranging from guitars, violins, to something that sounds like a bonang. Same goes for the variety of percussion. It’s not just a kick drum. This is music that is intelligent, mature, and a whole league above much else. And no, it’s not a fully laidback album. Some of the drums pack a punch. The sampling is exquisite as well. On a curious note, “Animals” sounds like something that pogo produce, with that happy-go-lucky-Disney sound. I’m a fan. For the most part, the atmosphere is happy and relaxed. This is the stuff of beach parties, a green field in the middle of nowhere, or a windows down road trip through the desert.

Whatever your plans are for the summer, I urge you to get your hands on “The North Borders” as it will slide its way into your summer one way or another in a way you will be very grateful for. I myself will be saying “Auf Wiedersehn” as I head to Germany for work and study abroad for a year. You’ll be left in the trusting hands of Nick Gruenenfelder. Until next time, take care! Have a great summer!