There are four different types of summer albums: the one for the beach, the one for the party, the one for falling in love, and the one for breaking up. Honeyfitz–Western Massachusetts’ oddball sweetheart–found a way to tick all four boxes at once with his debut album, I Don’t Need Tennis Lessons, I Need A Therapist.Read More
A piñata’s no fun without a bandana. Take the blindfold off and we know exactly what’s going to happen — thwap, hooray, yum, stomach ache. You might as well just go to the store and buy some candy straight up. But, you see, a piñata isn’t about the candy – it’s about the experience. It’s about the risk. It’s about the absurdity. It’s about the stories. It’s about the choice to keep your bandana on when you could just take it off and see.
Madlib threw on the instrumental for buoyant comeback single “Crime Pays” and Freddie Gibbs immediately stopped him. “Pause that shit, hold on, I gotta tell these motherfuckers a story.” He recounts a moment when his baby mama grilled him for selling drugs and hitting licks. His response? “Crime pays, crime pays.”
Gangsta Gibbs went on to rap the first verse acapella while The Beat Konducta scratched in zany chops and the crowd blurted out crux words. The three voices intertwined tightly without collision, conversing, communicating, alive.
The essence of Bandana lies within this simple observation: Freddie calls Madlib “Otis” — not “‘Lib,” not “Quas,” not “The Loop Digga,” and not once “Madlib.” Instead, he says “Otis” and enunciates every letter like a frustrated parent addressing their misbehaving child.
Let’s say Freddie Gibbs was a lo-fi hip hop head. It’s hard to picture, I know, but bear with me. He’s got an SP-404 tucked under his arm, every edition of Knxwledge’s Wrap Tapes in his Bandcamp library, and an unknowing resentment toward Chester Watson for taking all of the best lo-fi beats. Fuck it, he’s got cargo shorts on too, why not. Lo-fi Freddie praises Madlib for the expansive technical and stylistic innovations he’s bestowed upon the art-rap landscape. ‘Lib is a god to him and his peers.
But Gangsta Gibbs isn’t interested in lo-fi micro-nuances. Gangsta Gibbs likes energy. Gangsta Gibbs like attitude. Gangsta Gibbs likes havoc. If lo-fi Freddie made an album with Madlib, it would be predictable – hiss, crackle, boom, bap, and on to the next. But Gangsta Gibbs is a loose cannon – you don’t know what to expect. If he misses the piñata and whacks a spectator, so be it, it’ll make for a wild story. And when he does hit the piñata, that shit is going to be crazy.
People think a lot of different things about thrift store employees. Some believe they wash the clothes, some believe they steal clothes, and others think they get first dibs and take the best stuff before customers even get a shot. Find out the truth about thrifting - straight from the employees themselves.Read More
“20S DRIZZLIN” is the first song to leak a millennium early, since ChipSkylark is living in the year 3018. Take a glimpse into the future of the homogenized present through the eyes of New York’s most deadass underdog.Read More
Chester Watson’s “Project 0” is the beacon of hope that lo-fi hip hop so desperately needs.Read More
Exile is the budding of the future for Bladee, and therefore underground rap as wellRead More
They’ve made some great music. They’ve made some mediocre music too. This here is special. On 1998 TRUMAN, BROCKHAMPTON taps into a level of cringe that I prayed they never would.Read More
“PROM / KING” is essentially Saba’s rap eulogy for his cousin Walter, who was murdered on Feb. 8, 2017. Usually, when someone writes an obituary or a eulogy, one chooses landmark moments in the loved one’s life to summarize their spirit and legacy as much as possible. Saba scrapped this rubric and made his own.Read More
Mariami fuses urban soul, modern RnB, and Indo-European melody to create empowering music that comes straight from the heart. Her lyrics hit home, her voice heals you, and her vibe is invigorating. Mariami is an alumnus of Emerson College and a previous in-studio guest. Her 2017 album Vortex is full of silky, intimate anthems that intertwine acoustic and synthetic production with grace. I sat down with her to talk about her various writing processes, her experience as a Georgian Immigrant in America, and her ardent cultivation of her uniquely versatile skillset.Read More
It is no coincidence that emo has found its way back into hip hop. This is not just because trends recycle every decade or two, nor is it due to an up-spike in heartbreaks or late-night sneak-outs. It’s because goth-rap has a former emo icon, behind the scenes, quietly pioneering the way.
I’m talking about Adam McIlwee, otherwise known as Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Back in 2005, McIlwee co-founded the legendary pop-punk group Tigers Jaw. Until his resignation in 2013, he was the infectiously dissonant voice of longing for millions of teens and pre-teens alike. After he left, the band moved on, but McIlwee seemingly fell off the map.Read More
Peter sat quietly, holding his guitar, waiting for people to settle in. When the shuffling ceased, he scooted forward and strummed a single chord. It rang out. He pulled his mic closer, and said, “That’s a chord I love.” The set began.
When it comes to Boston multi-instrumentalist Peter Campanelli, personality and craft are one in the same. His music is raw but meticulous, and deliberate but emotional. His face contorts while he sings, and his inflection oscillates between mousy and monstrous. I got a chance to interview Peter, and he walked me through his process, his roots, and his peculiar mind.Read More
Watercolorsunshine is a Folk musician with a knack for radical reinvention. Recently, he released a heart-wrenching banjo cover of Swedish Promcore artist Bladee’s tumultuous autotune banger, “Destroy Me.”
The original song is cloaked in rumbling 808s and lined with snappy trap percussion. Bladee’s vocals are doused in autotune and reverb. His music is entirely one of a kind, but if there is a trace to any influences, my guess would be glitzy Dance music from the early 2000’s.
Watercolorsunshine’s cover of “Destroy Me” is fundamentally dissimilar to the original, but both songs radiate deep longing and are beautiful in their own ways. Instead of high-pitched autotuned wailing, you find a rich and delicate delivery, and instead of sub-bass, you find melancholic harmonica. The leading banjo performance is pendulous and gentle. Overall, Watercolorsunshine made a heartfelt, rustic, and momentous ballad out of, well, a Bladee song.
In the art world, ‘fake’ is one of the worst things you can call someone. This is especially true among musicians, and in Hip Hop in particular. If there is legitimate proof that a rapper does not live the lifestyle that they claim to live, their career will come crashing down and their fans will disown them. It’s as simple as that. But somehow, Michigan rapper and underground titan, Bones, is a rare exception. He frequently switches between vehement threats and miserable self-deprecation, sometimes in the same verse. Each Bones album is packed with as much hate for others as hate for himself. Since his self-declared flaws and shortcomings blatantly contradict the thick-skinned persona that he often boasts, Bones overtly exposes himself as a fraud, a fake. Remarkably, his fans don’t seem to care. In fact, Bones’ transparency is the very reason they love him.Read More
If the indie genre was a supermarket, Makeup Girl would be the off-brand cereal that expired two years ago. Yes, Frosted Fakes may be cheaper than the real deal, but people trust their Frosted Flakes and are happy to pay twenty cents more for quality that they can count on. Plus, those Frosted Fakes have been sitting on that shelf for way too long to still be edible - they don’t have a chance. And if mom or dad comes home with a big box of Frosted Fakes, little Jimmy is going to be pissed. He wants his name brand Frosted Flakes and will accept nothing less. He’s not going to waste his one sugary breakfast for the week on an inferior product.
What can make knockoff items appealing, though, is when they are offer something different than the original. Just making a watered-down version of something successful is never a marvel or a feat; and that’s exactly what Makeup Girl does.
On their recent Something New EP, the Washington D.C. natives reel out predictable song structures, basic chord loops, and cliched lyrics. Makeup Girl is the Frosted Fakes and Mac Demarco and Homeshake are the Frosted Flakes. The wailing, nasal vocals on tracks 3 though 5 blatantly mimic Demarco’s signature inflection. But Makeup Girl’s vocalist lacks the personality that Mac Demarco radiates. Similarly, tracks 1 and 2 copy Homeshake’s simple and clean production method with smooth chords and drums that sound like they were syncopated automatically from a GarageBand stock setting. Very few musicians can pull this off. One thing that makes a successful attempt at incorporating ironically crappy drums is when the other instruments shine effervescently, making it clear that the percussion is intentional. With Makeup Girl, I can’t tell if the drums are ironic or not because the other instruments’ performances are just as dull. For their next project, I hope the band develops more of an identity, takes more risks, and creates a sound of their own.
While 2017 has hosted a fruitful comeback for early 2000’s Emo music, we may not be ready to revisit 2009. Big Greg’s new single, ‘You Can Have It All’ is an uncomfortable reminder of how corny, formulaic, and predictable mainstream Hip Hop was eight years ago. With unmistakably Drake-esque “yeah”s, Lil Wayne’s love-song rasp, and an instrumental that sounds like it didn't make the cut on T.I.’s Paper Trail, Big Greg comes with a track so middle-of-the-road that it’s cringy.Read More
Frequently mislabeled and painfully slept on, Chicago rapper Lucki is doing something really unique. Between lean sips and eye flickers, he is crafting incredibly witty bars that can take dozens of listens to catch. This is for a reason, too - no other rapper has challenged their listeners to train themselves to uncover dexterous lyrics across polyrhythmic flows, while sounding like their on the verge of a Percocet overdose.Read More