Bombay Bicycle Club’s A Different Kind of Fix only dropped two days ago but that hasn’t stopped my iTunes from already having it on repeat five times in a row (it would probably be a higher number, but a girls gotta go to class). Each track flows so seamlessly to the next that by the time the album finishes it feels like you’re still on the first song without anything feeling redundant in the least. The front running track seems to be Lights Out, Words Gone featuring bouncing guitar, etherial vocals, and steady cymbals. This might be my favorite album that Bombay has released so I would catch it now so you can say you heard it first (we all wanna be first, right?).
Little known New York five-man-band Caveman has crept into the music scene with Thankful, a jam that seems to be the perfect precursor to fall. Originating only in January of 2010 it is next to impossible to find enough of their music to satiate my desire to listen to them all day. Luckily, Thankful is a song that you can put on repeat and it doesn’t get old. The hollowing percussion paired with irresistible guitar gives me hope that their LP debuting on September 13th is going to be something none of us will want to miss.
XXX makes for a nasty listen. It’s a death spiral of drugs, alcohol, and sex and yet the title actually refers to the roman numeral. Danny Brown just turned 30. Inebriated fornication is hardly a new topic for hip-hop, but XXX takes a startlingly dark tone. “Die Like a Rockstar” is the album’s thesis. Brown compares himself to deceased entertainers, his cartoony cadence making him sound truly deranged. “Bruiser Brigade” is the backdrop to a night of belligerent drunkenness and “Lie4″ is the same, but with hallucinogens. The project requires cracked, this-is-your-brain-on-drugs beats and Skywlkr, Brandun Deshay, and Paul White rise to the task magnificently. XXX is an outburst from an artist who can’t call himself a young man anymore and one of the best rap albums of the year.
“Purple Thoughts” will appear on P. Watts’ Element of Surprise. It also appears on KD’s Trill Azz Essentials and Scotty’s Summer Dreams mixtape, the latter of which is produced entirely by DJ Burn One.
Yeah, that’s a lot of mixtapes and a lot of Burn One. And between Summer Dreams and The Ashtray (Burn’s instrumental album), it’s been A LOT of guitar lately. “Purple Thoughts” has the effusive, organic vibe that has become Burn One’s trademark, but I wouldn’t mind more beats in the vein of “Renaissance Gangster” or even “High Five,” just to keep things interesting.
I expect underground producers are attracted to the live band setup because it’s a privilege not available to every kid with stars in his eyes. But the first Burn One beat I ever listened to was “What Was I Thinkin’”. It was great because of the juxtaposition of a Wu-Tang beat and a Cash Money expat, not because of any feat of beatmaking prowess.
But here I am rambling while I probably should be honoring the days of summer by blasting “Purple Thoughts.”
Only a group of exceptionally cool rappers can take an expression most commonly tossed around by your 45 year old office manager (a man named George whose stomach pops out from between his suspenders and stops by your cubicle to say stuff like “Workin’ hard or hardly workin’?” #officelyfe) and make it the rallying cry at the heart of a late Summer anthem. And while George’s knowledge of hip-hop begins and ends with seeing Nelly perform at the Superbowl in 2001, he can probably get behind “T.C.B.” because he’s all about feeding his family.
The track mercifully doesn’t sample or reference its namesake in any way. It’s stone cold pimping with a focus on financial security. Mookie Jones, Jackie Chain, and Big Sant limit the flashiness so the song is more accessible. It’s more about making money than having it, which today’s audience will appreciate especially and generally makes for better rap music. The beat leaves wide open spaces between booms and takes a few listens to feel right.
The personalities are great. Half-Korean rapper Jackie Chain is fun and charismatic and never tries to use his race as a gimmick (Remember Jin? Anyone? Bueller?), unless you count his name, which according to his MySpace bio, he picked up in jail. Mookie Jones is the quiet one who raps like he just woke up from a nap but deftly skirts the black hole that is whisper rap. Then there’s Big Sant, best known as Big K.R.I.T.’s sidekick, but worthy of much more than guest features. Heavy and gruff, he stomps onto the track without a trace of Jackie and Mookie’s flamboyance. The Southern Lil Fame.
Buy pants with bigger pockets, because with “T.C.B.” as your soundtrack, it will be hard not to get paid. George knows what’s up.
Danger Mouse has inevitably been a part of what seems like every other musical project over the past few years. Recently (but not too recent, this project was five years in the making) he paired up with Italian composer Daniele Luppi to create Rome. Needless to say I love it. One of my favorite tracks is Black which features Norah Jones showing off the darker side of her vocal abilities.