Author Archives: Ash El Gamal

[16 To End 2016] Ninja Ash’s Best Of The Year

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As many grievances as 2016 brought, it’d be a lie to say it wasn’t an incredible year of music. Perhaps, that’s how it always works–the best art comes in the worst of times. Music has always been my primary coping mechanism and I couldn’t be more thankful for all the artists that made this year bearable and, quite honestly, pretty damn fun despite it all. These are the songs that soundtracked my best moments and lifted me up during my lowest–I hope they can do the same for you. Happy New Year!

Solange
Cranes In The Sky (Kaytranada Edit)

No song quite captured the struggle of depression in a more captivating manner than Solange‘s ‘Cranes In The Sky.’ Kaytranada‘s edit makes it glow even more.

Moses Sumney
Lonely World

2016 was a well-deserved breakout year for the incredibly talented Moses Sumney. “Lonely World,” with its intense progression, would be my song of the year if I had to pick one.

Autolux
Change My Head

Autolux were easily one of my favorite discoveries of the year and “Change My Head” is them at their most potent–haunting, grungy and catchy with raw, dynamic percussion.

Moderat
Reminder

Moderat‘s III was my favorite album of the year and ‘Reminder’ exemplifies the super-group’s incredible production in both its stark lows and explosive highs.

Mick Jenkins
Drowning feat. BADBADNOTGOOD

This is just a beautiful protest song in so many ways. From Mick Jenkins‘ versatile rapping and singing to Badbadnotgood‘s flawless live instrumentation, it possesses a unique balance and thoughtfulness that few similarly themed songs display. Make sure to check out the entrancing music video as well.

Blood Orange
E.V.P.

This one’s for Prince! Blood Orange couldn’t have given us Freetown Sound at a better juncture.

Kaytranada
Glowed Up (feat. Anderson .Paak)

Two of 2016’s all-stars team up for pure gold capturing Kaytra’s intriguing cadence and Anderson .Paak‘s soulful flows.

Innanet James
Summer Prod. The Kount

Innanet James‘ introduction to the music world comes with this no-fucks-given summer anthem that also highlights The Kount, a candidate for best new hip-hop producer.

Kid Cudi
By Design (feat. Andre 3000)

Kid Cudi, Plain Pat, Pharrell & Andre 3000…yeah, could’ve guess this one would be in my 16 before I even heard it. Can’t stop listening to this one.

A Tribe Called Quest
We The People

A message of inclusion that came when I needed it and from exactly the crew I wanted to hear it from. RIP Phife Dawg!

Rufus Du Sol
Innerbloom

“Innerbloom” is truly Rufus Du Sol‘s manifesto–an epic that captures the essence of their endlessly playable 2016 release, Bloom. This song also spawned one of the best remixes of the year from What So Not.

Kenton Slash Demon
TT

Kenton Slash Demon continue to enamor me with their trippy, textured take on dance music. ‘TT’ manages to feel both ethereal and ready for the dance floor.

Frank Ocean
White Ferrari (Jacques Greene Edit)

The original version of “White Ferrari” may be my favorite track from Frank Ocean‘s emotional masterpiece, Blonde–capturing both its most and least accessible elements. Montreal producer Jacques Greene released nothing but phenomenal productions this year but this remix of Frank takes the cake.

Ross From Friends
Gettin’ It Done

Aside from having the best name in dance music, Ross From Friends flipped everything I thought I knew about house music on its head. “Gettin’ It Done” certainly makes you want to dance but the lo-fi sonics teamed with a masterfully utilized soul sample create a vibe unlike anything I’ve heard before. If you dig this one, check out this mind-blowing live performance from Ross & crew.

Mall Grab
Father

Mall Grab wins the award for my favorite house discovery of 2016 and this take on the sample from Kanye’s “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1” was a staple in my DJ sets this year. While I love Kanye’s version, his cringe-worthy opening line disqualified it from any best of lists.

Billy Kenny
Work Me (Justin Jay Remix)

Werk into the New Year!

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[NEW] The xx – On Hold

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After teasing fans with mysterious clips on their Spotify page, The xx have officially returned today with a stunning new single and an album on the way. During their 3 year hiatus, die-hard fans (myself included) could take solace in In Colour, the debut solo outing from Jamie xx, the trio’s masterful producer. On that project, Jamie got a chance to depart from the somber sound of his band delving deeper into the elements of dance music he had already subtly showcased on The xx’s first two albums. With the help of an incredible Idris Muhammad sample, Jamie xx and bandmate Romy Croft crafted one of 2015’s best songs with “Loud Places,” which held a triumphant, uplifting vibe unlike anything we’d heard from the group.

As I speculated and waited for new music, I couldn’t help but wonder how Jamie’s ‘colour’ might impact The xx’s 3rd album. Today we get the answer with “On Hold”–the perfect marriage between The xx’s heart-wrenching aura and Jamie’s matured sound. While the song features complex, 4×4 percussion, Jamie employs filters and dramatic pads to make room for his bandmates’ signature reverb-ed guitar and heart breaking vocals. As the song approaches its most stark moment, the chorus erupts with an irresistible Hall & Oates sample that oozes pure joy.

At it’s core “On Hold” tells the tale of letting someone go and the disappointment of them moving on, but its potent chorus offers a light at the end of the tunnel–one that was just flickering on their last album, Coexist. 

I See You, the third studio album from The xx, is out on January 13th via Young Turks–you can pre-order it here. We’ll have this one on repeat while we wait.

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[Electronic] Nick Hook – Relationships (Album)

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Electronic music and hip-hop have always had a unique relationship. Despite the fact that they, in many ways, evolved from similar revolutionary production techniques, they don’t always find ideal synergy. Through out his budding career, NY-based producer Nick Hook has continually blurred lines between the two with a taste that proves an understanding of music outside of genre constraints. That versatility is a direct product of his diverse background in the industry starting as a multi-genre guitarist and evolving into a producer who’s worked with Young Thug, Run the Jewels, DJ Rashad, Hudson Mohawke and Baauer among others (and that’s leaving out the star-studded list of collaborators in the rock world.)

Relationships, his debut album, serves as a triumphant crescendo on his ascension bringing in too many collaborators to list in a way that feels far more natural than similarly bold projects. Perhaps the secret falls in the album name–Hook seems to have a genuine understanding of the artists he’s working with: allowing their input without ever losing site of cohesion.

The album carries a steadily wavy, experimental vibe through out from the off-kilter, Makonnen-featuring ballad “All Alone” to Awful Records posse cut “Pro-Choice,” a typically absurd outing for the ATLiens. At the same time, Hook’s not afraid to turn things up with the heavy-hitting Grime cut “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” posthumously DJ Rashad-assisted “+3,” east coast cypher “Live While I’m Livin,” and “Head,” perhaps the hardest-hitting song thanks to 21Savage. All that variation is tied together by the project’s brief, but gorgeous, instrumental moments such as “Forever” and “Evolisontherise,” which features Hudson Mohawke. 

Relationships, which is out now on Fool’s Gold Records, is an ambitious outing that could’ve gone wrong had it not been put together so thoughtfully. Rather, it plays out as a sonic adventure with something for everyone but also the capacity to open minds by placing songs in the right context. Give the whole project a listen below and grab a copy here if you like what you hear.

’Nick Hook – +3 feat. DJ Rashad, DJ Paypal & Nasty Nigel’
’Nick Hook – Pro
Choice feat. Black Kray, Father, Michael Christmas & KCSB’
’Nick Hook – Gucci’s feat. 24hrs’
’Nick Hook – Evolisontherise feat. Hudson Mohawke’
’Nick Hook – Another Way feat. Spank Rock’
’Nick Hook – Forever’
’Nick Hook – Dive For You feat. Junglepussy & Prefuse 73’
’Nick Hook feat. Novelist – Can’t Tell Me Nothing’
’Nick Hook – All Alone feat. iLoveMakonnen’
’Nick Hook – Bhu Hum feat. Damien Hagglund’
’Nick Hook – Live While I’m Livin’ feat. Meyhem Lauren & Superhero Killer’
’Nick Hook – Silk Pants’
’Nick Hook – Head feat. 21 Savage & Bulletproof Dolphin’
’Nick Hook – Need 2 B feat. Rahel’
’Nick Hook – Lovesong feat. Nasty Nigel’
’Nick Hook – The Infinite Loop feat. DJ Rashad, Chino Moreno & Nasty Nigel’
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[House] Punctual – Fix

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Punctual
Fix

Following a debut single that we still haven’t been able to shake, Bristol production duo Punctual return today with the accompanying B-Side. At nearly 10 minutes, “Fix” solidifies the promise heard on “Eva,” expanding on their gorgeously expressive take on house music. A simple piano chord progression kicks off the track and persists through out changing form with the building elements around it. Just as you start getting lost in the atmosphere, the percussion filters in around the 2 minute mark providing an irresistible groove.

While the first 4 minutes would make a strong track on their own, it’s the second half that sets Punctual apart. As the percussion is stripped back, vocals emerge that recall classic house music in a bridge that beautifully builds back into the song’s addicting repetition. Punctual feel like a breathe of fresh air in the crowd of fad-influenced electronic producers–standing out without sacrificing accessibility or simplicity. We’re excited to see what they come up next but the “Eva”/”Fix” EP should hold us over for quite some time–you can grab it here.

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[Electronic] Kllo – Bolide (Lone Remix)

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Kllo
Bolide (LONE Remix)

Australian duo Kllo have been on our radar ever since the release of their gorgeous 2014 debut, Cusp, which found them nestled squarely between cozy R&B and dance music. After spending much of 2015 touring behind that successful project, they returned this year with the Well Worn EP. Their latest work saw the vocalist/production team of Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam further refine their sound delving deeper into various electronic influences. Of the 5 tracks, “Bolide” has resonated the most with fans and for good reason. With a pulsing bass line, subtly-crafted percussion and gliding vocals, it’s a track that envelopes the listener with emotion.

As they continue building momentum, Kllo have commissioned legendary UK producer Lone to take on “Bolide” with phenomenal results. The original’s ongoing vocal chop feeds perfectly into Lone’s distinctive blend of hip-hop and house stylings. While the remix is similarly atmospheric, it employs furious percussion and layered pads–taking it from downtempo to club-ready without sacrificing the most enticing elements.

Give this one a listen above and make sure to check out the Well Worn EP if you haven’t yet. Kllo are currently on the road touring with Rufus Du Sol and NAO–check out dates after the jump!  Continue reading

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[House] RÜFÜS DU SOL – Innerbloom (Lane 8 Remix)

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RÜFÜS
Innerbloom (Lane 8 Remix)

Despite being released nearly a year ago (ages in Internet time!), RÜFÜS DU SOL‘s Bloom remains one of the TMN Staff’s most listened to projects. That impressive staying power has only been multiplied by the steady stream of quality remixes it has spawned. The latest comes from fellow Ninja favorite Lane 8taking on the album’s epic “Innerbloom.” In typical fashion, Lane 8 crafts an atmospheric, melodic tune drawing out the original’s most irresistible parts while leaving the stunning vocals in tact. Although it employs a more standard four-on-the-floor approach, this rendition certainly gives What So Not‘s incredible “Innerbloom” remix a run for its money. Get lost in this blissful tune above.

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Treasure Island 2016: 12 Must See Acts — SF 10/15-16 [Festival Preview]

culrt-fumaam8ayIf you’ve been following The Music Ninja over the last few years, you already know that Treasure Island Music Festival reigns atop our list of best music events in the Bay Area. Rounding out peak festival season, TIMF consistently avoids the repetitive lineups that plague competitors while offering an ideal environment for attendees worn out from over-crowded events. 2016 is an important year for the festival marking both its 10th anniversary and final year taking place on Treasure Island itself as a result of upcoming real estate development. Thankfully it will not be the end altogether for the SF staple, which will be relocating to a TBD destination come 2017 (the SF Chronicle even has a poll where you can vote on where it should be).

With those milestones in mind, Noise Pop have stepped up their already fantastic curation bringing what may be our favorite lineup to date. Our best advice would be to catch as many artists as the schedule permits, be prepared for the rain and stop by the Silent Disco. Although we know and love pretty much every artist on this weekend’s bill, we’ve curated our top picks for each day below. Hope to see some of you Ninjas on the island! Continue reading

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