Ten years ago yesterday, one of the most important hip hop records of the 2000s came out. Madvillain, the combination of MF Doom and Madlib, released the fittingly named Madvillainy on Stones Throw Records. Making use of Madlib’s jazzy, crate digging production and Doom’s stream of consciousness rhymes. The album was abstract, broke down the typical format of hip hop songs, and is completely a unique release.
Ten years down the road, the record still sounds fresh, a quality many classics can claim. What makes this a truly special record is that while others have tried to emulate, nothing else comes close to Madvillainy. The blunted raps on Raid, All Caps, and obviously America’s Most Blunted flow well, but the abstractness of Bistro, Curls, and Rhinestone Cowboy also ground the listener into an altered reality.
22 songs in around 45 minutes is strange for any record (save maybe the most hardcore of punks) but does so in the world of hip hop. The record gets to the point, even if you’re not really quite sure what the point was. By today’s standards, even the more underground rap isn’t quite as adventurous and intellectual as Madvillainy.
The record spawned several singles, two remix EPs, one by Koushik, the other by Four Tet, and a re-imagined version by Madlib himself. While the group has only spawned one new song since, promises of a follow up are clouded by the ever mysterious Doom, who is apparently holding the project up. Since then Madlib has released many, many, many albums, while producing for tons of other rappers as well. Doom has released a few albums by himself and with others, but really nothing touches the legacy of Madvillainy.
Boy, does KZUU have a great new track for you. Assistant music director, Erin, has been jamming to this for two straight days now and is excited to share Tirzah’s new soulful pop song “No Romance”. This is the title track off of her upcoming EP [via Greco-Roman] which is set to release on April 21st, so mark your calendars. Micachu will be producing the beats and Tirzah on vocals to make what they describe as an “emo” 5-track EP.
Stream “No Romance” for days down below.
You can buy Tirzah’s previous EP here.
“Real”, an immediate highlight off the long-awaited and excellent Freddie Gibbs/Madlib collaboration (cocaine) Piñata, is a track that should remind hip hop fans of around a decade ago when Clipse had a fire lit under them after it took Jive four years to release their masterpiece Hell Hath No Fury. Gibbs infamously split from Young Jeezy’s CTE label in 2012 after only a year and obviously things weren’t left on good terms. It still isn’t totally clear what caused the separation, but it’s easy to infer based on Freddie Gibbs’ lack of overall commercial appeal. Just like when Clipse split from Jive for the same reasons, Freddie Gibbs’ poor experience with big-label music has only led to more quality subject matter.
Freddie Gibbs is so likable because he’s spent his career flexing a lot of diversity in the production department. The strictly gangster rapper never moves very far from his Midwest-boxframe Cadillac formula, and while it’s true he’s most comfortable in the chopped and screwed trap lane, he’s worked with plenty of different types of producers. See the Statik Selektah collab if you wanna hear what I’m talking about, but this Madlib project demonstrates this to the furthest extreme. Madlib is at the very least, not the guy you would think of to lay the gangsta blueprint. But again, it works because Gibbs has a hell of a lot of skill and what’s so cool about “Real” is we’re seeing him detail some pretty specific ideas.
The first verse is vintage Gibbs, and it establishes Freddie’s credibility as someone who “niggas heard of, and now all the sudden they back to thuggin” over fast-pased and buzzing Madlib production. The beat changes a minute in, and the bpm slows down so we can pay closer attention to Freddie’s story with Jeezy. He’s pissed at someone he once looked up to, and threatens to “expose you to those that don’t know you”. Rick Ross said that he’s “scared to drop a diss record” and Gibbs take a dozen or so shots at Young Jeezy’s character. In the end, Freddie Gibbs loses nothing and it’s Jeezy in fact that lost a “rare breed” and he’ll never again find “a bad guy like this that don’t produce nothing but evil seeds.”
Stream “Real” below.
Grime, mostly of the instrumental variety, had a hell of a year in 2013. With releases from the likes of Slackk, Logos, Visionist, Murlo, Rabit, Filter Dread, Mssingno, Dark0, and many more, the distinctly UK sound returned to critical acclaim in the wake of the dubstep explosion. Besides just being active and exciting, grime producers fired shots at one another with a very public and prolific battle of war dubs.
Aside from the clash of producers, one label seemed to stand above the rest in grime: Her Records. The label displayed some of the best forward thinking grime and bass music and is based out of South London.
Off the accolades of label co-head of Her Records Miss Modular’s Reflector Pack / Cruzer Edge EP comes Her Records first release of the year with the other co-head Sudanim’s The Link EP. With everything expected, this five track EP is full of the metallic bass, off kilter eski-beats and punishing synths. The opening track, and title track, “The Link” opens like a hip hop beat out of hell, with punishing kicks, erratic percussion, reverb heavy vocal samples and all nasty synth stabs.The second track “Midrift” is just as great, built off airy and playful synths. A Neana mix at the end of the EP turns “Midrift” into a nice 4/4 banger with paranoid synths and schizophrenic vocal samples. “Lightmare”, the third track, opens softly until descending into an arpeggio of rain drop synths and detuned toms. Big and punishing, this seems to be the highlight of the EP, being suitable for the Night Slugs and Fade To Mind camp, with a noticeable nod to Jam City and Girl Unit. “The Thirst” suitably rounds out the original mixes, and sounds almost like what would happen if you ran a trap song through a grime filter then let Kode9 turn it into something suitable for his ever experimental label, Hyperdub.
Be sure to check out Sudamin’s new EP, The Link EP above, and get your hands on the name your price HERVOL002, a compilation from the label, below.
Yesterday the Dum Dum Girls premiered their new video for “Are You Okay” off of Too True on Noisey, along with an interview and behind-the-scenes pics. Written by Bret Easton Ellis, famed author of American Psycho, the 11-minute video is creepy, haunting, and evocative of Too True’s darker, slicker sound.
The video is directed by Brewer, who has done videos for Purity Ring, Alt-J, and Passion Pit, and produced by Braxton Pope, with additional musical score composed by Tamaryn and Drew McDowall, of Coil fame.
Here’s the behind-the-scenes video, in case you’re curious:
As an active surf-rock enthusiast, I was overjoyed upon hearing of the latest release by Real Estate, titled Atlas. Coming off of their 2011 release, Days, Real Estate has enjoyed a fair amount of critical acclaim, even being listed as the best album of that year by our staff members. With their memorable guitar strums and gentle, carefree vocals Real Estate has earned their rightful spot in anyone’s “Summer Jamz” playlist. On Atlas however, the band shifts its mood towards something slightly gloomier. The playful haze of Days has cleared, giving rise to a sound that is more deliberate yet introspective. Atlas manages to accomplish the daunting task that all bands face of maintaining their collective identity while simultaneously avoiding creative stagnation. Keep in mind, this is still the same Real Estate that had us reaching in blind nostalgia back in 2008. Their drifting melodies have only been refined to produce their most cohesive and enjoyable album yet. The opening track for Atlas begins with a melancholy guitar riff, eventually building into the warm beachside sounds that lay the groundwork for the entire piece. The band has always been able to push all the buttons for making catchy tunes and feel-good vibes, and their latest album is no exception. Stream below and enjoy.
Hailing from Boston Massachusetts Lovechild is a hardcore punk band which came into fruition in the summer of 2013. Formerly known as Cerce, Lovechild, play a scornful, grimy, aggressive style of punk that encompasses hints of powerviolence. Sonically the songs are stripped down, fast and boisterous. Their sound will appeal to fans of Early Trash Talk, Dangers, and Raw Nerve.
With this newest EP “In Heaven Everything Is Fine” Lovechild powers through 11 tracks in a short 12 minutes. What this EP lacks in length is made up for in pure raw sonic madness. This EP begins and ends so hastily that the listener is left feeling like they were hit by an oncoming freight train. It is nice to see a modern hardcore band in 2014 playing no filler straight forward aggressive tunes. After listening to this EP a couple of time I can tell that Lovechild is a band that everyone should definitely be paying attention to. Lovechild isn’t reinventing the wheel but when you write songs that are this good you don’t have to. You can download the EP, along with lovechild’s previous demos, for free from bandcamp and if you are interested in buying a physical copy of the 7” the EP is available for pre-order via Mayfly Records. Links below.