Exile’s greatest strength is quaint, jittery loops set to the ruminations of a talented niche of local rappers, but he takes a few excellent detours on his new mixtape, a collection of new and old tracks. The unexpected Bun B feature is one such excursion, a helping of syrupy, buzzing funk and “Mic Jackson” by Dag Savage (a collab rapper Johaz) is huger and more anthemic than usual for Ex. There are reliable appearances by Fashawn, Co$$ and of course Blu. The sooner that Blu realizes that his most memorable work is with Exile (and vice versa), the better. Intro to the Outro is an hour-long reprieve from the usual deluge of crap.
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.
Knxwledge’s Hexual Sealings LP (think about it… done? OK) starts off with a remix of Musiq Soulchild’s “Be Friends” that isolates the neo-soul elements and butters them up nice. An equally suave Darien Brockington remix follows. Much of the new disc from the Philly beatmaker falls under ‘grown and sexy,’ but it would be a mistake to brand Hexual Sealings as just neo-soul. Knwxledge can’t resist minimalist remixes of Nas’ “Book of Rhymes,” J Dilla’s “Let’s Take It Back,” and Andre 3000′s verse from “The Art of Storytellin’ Part 4.” A remix of “Heart of the City” pointedly cuts Jay off at “Where’s the love?” The common thread is organic, addictive beats that give each acapella a second life, often a hot and sweaty one.
Releasing your mixtape without an animated cover in 2011 is like releasing it on an actual tape and selling those tapes in the parking lot of Home Depot. LA Da Boomman is ahead of the game with his new mixtape Boomin’.
Donwill celebrated his birthday by releasing a free EP. Explains Don,
i guess i should actually say something about DPPLGNGR huh? long story short it was recorded mid to late last year after i found out about this guy named suff daddy and was put in touch with his label (mpm) thanks to the homie jon kim. i went back n forth with them via email for a while then the conversation just kinda stopped. i waffled about releasing it and finally decided that it was too good not to share. the songs are relatively old and they deal with my lows and highs and everything in between. the title comes from just becoming a whole different person over time, sorta like a doppelganger of yourself. that feeling that you get when you look in the mirror and dont really know the person looking back at you even though they look just like you. our lives change us incrementally on a daily basis so after a few jarring experiences one day we all lose who we were to become who we are. thats life right? you change it or it changes you.
Donwill, Von Pea, and Ilyas of Tanya Morgan release music whenever they feel like it, but it’s never just a stray track. All of their releases, no matter how off the cuff, are fully realized projects and none of it sucks. Maybe it’s quality control, or maybe they’re just unerringly talented. We’re a few days late, but go wish Donwill a happy birthday.
In anticipation of the release of his debut album, Co$$ released Sleepwalking, a mixtape of completely original material. So he basically dropped an extra album’s worth of material. What a guy. Watch the video for his single “Spaceman” below and check back for our interview with Co$$. Before I Awoke drops June 21.
French producer Astronote sounds like he could be from Detroit. His beats have that hard-to-define knock and he works with the best of the Motor City’s lesser knowns like Finale and Magestik Legend, both of whom spit acid on his new album Weapon of the Future. Listen to the choice cuts below and the whole thing here. Previously: “Big Trouble Little China.”
Even though JR Mint looks like Mac Miller’s stunt double, the Canadian rapper mostly sidesteps frat rap topics, with the exception of a great smoker track produced by MoSS. He’s an able enough rapper who really shines when he has the right beat (Super Mario World sample?!?). Download the whole album here and listen to the standout tracks below.
Blu released a new eleven track project called jesus on Tuesday. Most artists would have preceded such a release with months of teasers, leaks, interviews, music videos, and behind-the-scenes clips, but Blu posted a link to the project on Twitter without any explanation.
He didn’t even link directly to the album. He posted a link to a thread on the KanyeToThe.com forums which then links to a Bandcamp page where you can stream the album or download it for ten dollars. All of the text on the page is lowercase. The artist field just says “b”. The given release date is June 1, 2011 and when you try to view the lyrics for each song, there are cryptic descriptions like “lucky left e .” and “r a g g i d y.” The only concrete description is “production by alchemist, madlib, hezekiah, knxwledge, nathan & g o d lee barnes,” but it doesn’t say who produced which tracks.
It’s not entirely clear what jesus is. Is it an EP? An unreleased album? A mixtape of loose tracks? When were these songs recorded? I’m not even sure how you’re supposed to write the name. It’s annotated as “je s u s ” on Bandcamp but the cover says “jesus.” I can’t include the little triangle symbol, because WordPress keeps displaying it as a question mark.
Blu fans are used to his oddball web presence. He does stuff like this all the time. Maybe Blu thinks this discreet approach affords him a cool mystique. Maybe he’s too lazy to hype a project for three weeks before he drops it. Maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he thinks eschewing a promo cycle emphasizes the music, which I’ve ignored for four straight paragraphs.
They call themselves “the Texas Wu-tang” and the claim isn’t entirely without merit. There’s a wide range of talent in Austin’s League of Extraordinary G’z collective. It consists of eight guys spread across three groups: Da C.O.D, Dred Skott, and Southbound. The common thread is precise rhyming and sample-based beats, but members might rap like Big Boi, Bun B, or Phil Da Agony. Highlights include two great Jake One-produced tracks, a weeded Jackie Chain cameo, and a “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sample that surprisingly doesn’t suck. But the whole thing is great and it’s clear that these guys are just getting started.