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Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker The Berry

Never one to be outdone, just as the Grammy’s discussion on social media was being overtaken with Kanye-related memes of his usual antics (albeit it was hilarious). Kendrick, who won Best Rap Song the night before froze everyone in their tracks with his latest track ‘The Blacker The Berry.’ With a tone distinctly opposite of his lead single ‘I’ Kendrick continues to parade around peace, despite attempting to reel in the hard-nosed listeners who loved him for his gritty, aggressive rhymes, which is exactly what we get here. With help on the boards from Boi-1da, with some mean drums to capitalize off of, Kendrick critiques the normalized trends of black America, comparing it with the history books of old showing the hypocrisy’s of everyone involved. The grand statements promote peace while criticizing those who rallied against the current race war yet have been involved in black-on-black crime. It’s a powerful statement for a single, and one we do not yet know if it’ll make it to his album. The chorus boasts Assassin, reggae star previously featured on Yeezus’ ‘I’m In It,’ which could finally push reggae over into becoming the next trend in Hip-Hop. A spiritual, mysterious instrumental outro that’s packed with soul sneaks in to end a brilliantly produced track.

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Cannibal Ox – Iron Rose (Ft. MF DOOM)

It may have been 14 years since their debut album, the only one they’ve released, The Cold Vein, but Cannibal Ox have finally returned to take storm on the underground. On March 3rd the Hip-Hop community will get Blade Of The Ronin, and today they received their first taste in ‘Iron Rose,’ with help from the ever-elusive, yet slowly coming out of his shell, MF DOOM. Rather than returning after a decade delay with a washed out, rusty taste that’s hindered many groups’ returns (talking to you Pixies) the duo of Vast Aire and Vorgul Mega come in full throttle off an engaging beat that plays up on the two’s instinctual ability to rhyme their asses off. The gritty, underground New York sound hasn’t changed one bit, which benefits the group, for long-time fans can return to that era while new heads can relish in the ever-lasting sound of gritty street raps. It doesn’t hurt Cannibal Ox’s notoriety leading up to this album including MF DOOM into the fold of their single, turning in yet another stellar verse to add to his recent repertoire.

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Waxahatchee – Air

The voice behind Waxahatchee, that of Katie Crutchfield, spreads far and wide. Coming off her celebrated 2013 release Cerulean Salt, the announcement of his third LP, Ivy Tripp, set to release this April, was met with the album’s lead single “Air”. Obvious influences are met, down to the Kim Deal comparisons, with The Pixies, a stark, naked, reinterpretation of their radiant sound. Crutchfield’s voice is defiant and forthcoming, unashamed of his mistreatment to a lost love. “I left you out like a carton of milk” she declares as she reminisces of the past. Where the production, featuring riddled guitar riffs, rapidly segmented drum loops, and swelling keyboards, draws the listener in off first listen, it’s Crutchfield’s vocalization that lulls them to its completion, with dashes of lyrical poetry thrown in for good measure. It’s a brilliant blend of calming melodies, honest interpretations of nostalgic events, and emotional highs to match that make “Air” a memorable track. If it’s anything to go by, Ivy Tripp should be too.

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BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – “Ray Gun” (Feat. DOOM)

The highly anticipated collaboration between Hip-Hop/Jazz crossover instrumentalists BadBadNotGood & street legend Ghostface Killah is soon to hit store shelves, giving us our first proper look at how rappers would sound on BBNG’s Hip-Hop-centric, but equally inventive production style. The album titled Sour Soul has already been given its due presence with three previous singles, but the fourth installment of the album’s rollout, “Ray Gun”, features one of rap’s most mysterious figures; DOOM.

The history of Ghostface Killah and MF DOOM has long been etched in stone, with their often-delayed DOOMSTARKS record sitting on the back-burner. But here, we’re shown their near full potential with the help of the nostalgic-doused live instrumentalists gearing away behind them. As per usual when these two come together, the superhero contained with GFK comes out in full force, declaring his excellency and rite of passage to the league of extraordinary. DOOM, as has been witnessed on Flying Lotus’ ‘Masquatch,’ has been doing his thing lately, revitalizing his often-lazy rapping flow for a flash-to-the-past of what once was. At the end of the day though it is still a BBNG record, and, possibly more than anyone showcased here, they show off their talents to the fullest, with a James Bond-esque finale that explosively enters, lingers with blaring horns and shady percussion, before dissipating in the dust. Sour Soul is scheduled for release February 24th.

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Video: Dan Deacon – Feel The Lightning

There’s few artists of the 21st century able to make as fun music as Dan Deacon. The Baltimore native has been churning out memorably catchy electronic pieces for the past decade, and his latest work, the first single off his newest album Gliss Riffer, set to release in February, is no different. One of the most acclaimed electronic artists behind the boards, the technical abilities of Deacon aren’t anything short of amazing. His In The Studio Mini-Doc for Pitchfork is a must watch, a look at the crazed mind of a man obsessed with the technicalities of the mechanical music medium. Fans salivating for more of Deacon’s light-hearted, insanely likable melodies are in for a treat with ‘Feel The Lightning.’

Much like many of the best songs off 2009’s Bromst, Deacon’s own voice, distorted to near-indistinguishable levels, shines as a beacon to alluring listeners intent on numbing their minds and easing their stress. His latest work, 2012’s America, was an epic orchestration of a journey through America using music, but was largely devoid of vocal accompaniment. ‘Feel The Lightning’ reeks of tracks like ‘Build Voice’ off the former, and ‘True Thrush’ off the latter. If Deacon can somehow meld these two works Gliss Riffer may be an album to remember for quite some time. If one’s still doubting Deacon’s cooky, yet masterful work of electronic instrumentation, look no further than the ‘female voice’ in the track, which is his own, manipulated to transcend genders.

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Death Grips – Inanimate Sensation

The allure of Death Grips stems from the fact that their music, especially new songs immediately upon release, sound like nothing released before, and yet they’re all hidden under a veil of similar pretenses. Their first single off Jenny Death, the 2nd half of their final album The Powers That Be, is a wild ride filled with a constant uneasiness that would make “Birds” seem trivial. As a revving engine of rising vocal distortions kick off “Inanimate Sensation”, classic, yet oddly simple, Zach Hill drums take over, highly reminiscent of The Money Store, the band’s most accessible album. But just as one begins to feel comfortable the bass and beat drop out, a commonality by song’s end. See, what the track accomplishes best is the fluid distinction between Ride’s tension-building lyrics and cadences, and the classic Death Grips flair for catchiness. It’s either been one or the other, but here they mold them together.

There’s times when MC Ride is hollering like his chaotic self, with lyrics entirely indistinguishable, while there’s other moments of the rapper whispering, eerily, unnerved, before a secondary verse sees his voice malfunctioning, gravely, and demon-ish. These moments of hectic pandemonium are circumvented by intersecting instrumental interludes that creek, blast, stutter, and gravitate towards anonymity, unrecognizable to anything surrounding them. ‘Inanimate Sensation’ plays this twisted game of never staying stagnant, never knowing what’s to come next, with lyrics that, upon looking them up, seem as dense as the most hard-to-understand messages found on their previous efforts.

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Flying Lotus – Masquatch (ft. DOOM)

Any track featuring DOOM is going to be an event. Now match him with the ever-inventive, producing-savant Flying Lotus and you have a match made in heaven. See “Between Villains” for their latest pairing, part of Adult Swim’s music catalog. Here DOOM finally washes away many fans disappoints with his uninspired, lazy flows of late for two sped-up, beat-blazing verses that breath new life into the two decade-old rapper. This is accomplished in large part thanks to Flying Lotus’ rhythmic production, churning drum loops and atmospheric highs match with DOOM’s trademarked monotone voice. Soaring synth collages signal the end of each bar, as simple, direct twinkling snaps and claps mold underneath DOOM’s brewing voice. For fans longing of the pair’s next mash-up, “Masquatch” delivers in all sorts of ways. Flying Lotus has been the lone producer of late to succeed in rising DOOM out of his slumber to instill fiery unique, lavishly dank, and murky-ridden verses that complement the You’re Dead! producer so well. The track, so perfect for a late-night drive down the cityscape whilst being featured on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack, eerily sways and suspiciously slithers around, bleak, uncompromising, supremely villain-like. If DOOM is still able to pull bars like this there’s no telling where his career can go if he ever so chooses to get it lifted off the ground.

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SZA – Sobriety

Following a string of EP releases, SZA, the sole female hailing out of the TDE collective, is prepping for her debut album A. The first taste of it has been released in the form of ‘Sobriety,’ a dazzling track featuring simmering production that cascades throughout, and features a stellar bass line from Thundercat. SZA details the difficulties she endures with her current life, attempting to stay sober during it all, failing over the shortcomings of love. Where she shines most though is in her voice, luscious and sinful, her ability to bounce from cadence to decadent cadence gives the track a smooth, unwavering feel. Her surreal lyrics, starting with the opening lines “I had a dream last night you gave me a ring, with a fucking castle on it” gives the track a bittersweet vibe, chilling to the sounds of lost love as SZA attempts to cope with it. Her constant reassurance in the chorus, “I’ma be right anyway, better than you, better than her,” brings a resoundingly somber effect to the track, filled with regret, unable to move on, thus accounting for it by making boisterous claims to boost one’s ever-deflating ego. ‘Sobriety’ is a cool track that surfaces internal struggles, matching them with silky-soft, dream-like lullabies.

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Shad & DJ T.Lo – Hang On

Coming hot off the heals of his 2013 release Flying Colours, Shad returns with ‘Hang On,’ a collaboration song with DJ T.LO. The track is the lead single off the duo’s forthcoming EP Boarding Pass. On it Shad, always known for his intense lyricisms and dynamic flows and verbiage, discusses the continued media indoctrination we experience in society today. In accordance with much of Shad’s music, the unassuming, often-times depressing messages, are masked under upbeat, light-hearted sounds and Shad’s vocal delivery. During the track the Canadian rapper spits about the shifting roles between comedians and rappers, the former leaning towards being a more exposing and truthful medium as the latter has relengated to foolishness. All this occurs over upbeat production, with a rapid piano diddy parading itself through. DJ T.LO also enforces a reoccuring vocal sample hooting and hollering in the background, as hi-hats and tumbling trumpets blares after every bar.