Author Archives: Ash El Gamal

[Hip-Hop] Conrad Clifton – Nitemare (feat. Knesecary)

Conrad Clifton
Nitemare (feat. Knesecary)

Brooklyn producer Conrad Clifton first caught our attention with a dynamic remix that found a beautiful balance between elements of dreamy pop and hard-hitting trap. Often times, SoundCloud discoveries of that nature can lead to a dead end–many producers prove to be one-trick ponies, others seem to have struck lightning their one and only time. The most delightful cases, though, occur when a producer surprises you with both quality and sonic diversity. Such has been the case thus far with Clifton’s subsequent glimpses into his upcoming debut album, Beautiful Tragedy.

On his latest single, Clifton showcases yet another facet of his production talents with the help of Texas emcee Knesecary. “Nitemare” grows out of an eerie loop that leaves just the right amount of room for the vocals to glide between the cracks. As Knesecary’s rhymes get more complex so does the production making for an enveloping, mischievous build. Conrad was kind enough to give us some insight into how the song came together:

Most of my songs come from searching through random virtual instruments, and when I came across this echoing plucked string sound effect, it immediately felt like something you’d hear in a scary movie. For “Nitemare”, I literally built the whole track around it…I’ve known Knes for years, ever since I lived in Texas around 2000 – and we did a lot of songs together back then, but I’m really glad I was able to highlight his talent here. He translated what the music was saying with the perfection of a seasoned vet, and the craft of a true lover of Hip-Hop.

If you’re digging this tune, make sure to pre-order Beautiful Tragedy, which drops on April 28th. The release will also be the first on his label, Infinity Pool Recordings, which in his own words will focus on “forward-thinking Electronic music, and Hip-Hop.”

Related items:

[Music Ninja Radio] Episode 76: Gorillaz, GoldLink & K-Dot

C7J78ZWVsAALqsYMusic Ninja Radio is a podcast recorded and broadcast live on San Francisco’s BFF.fm  every Friday from 4-6PM PST. 

ash.
Music Ninja Radio #76: Gorillaz, GoldLink & K-Dot

 Soundcloud || Spotify || Tracklist

Last week was a massive one for new music with both Gorillaz and Kendrick Lamar announcing upcoming albums. Episode #76 includes singles from both alongside a diverse mix of genres spanning electro-soul, indie pop, far out hip-hop and forward-thinking house. Other personal favorites from this episode include a dreamy remix from Conrad Clifton, summer-ready cuts from GoldLink‘s new album, Nite Jewel‘s effortless latest single & Djemba Djemba‘s future house take on Jnthn Stein.

Related items:

[Music Ninja Radio] Episode 75: The Return of Disco Dom

C7J78ZWVsAALqsY
Music Ninja Radio is a podcast recorded and broadcast live on San Francisco’s BFF.fm  every Friday from 4-6PM PST. 

Music Ninja Radio
Episode #75: The Return of Disco Dom

 Soundcloud || Spotify || Tracklist

With Ninja Dom back in the house, we ran down a few new hip-hop releases before closing out the show with an hour and a half of dance music. Standouts from this episode include selections from Smino‘s impressive debut, a Phil Collins-sampling loosie from Chris Malinchak, Ross From Friends’ latest lo-fi house masterpiece and a couple soulful productions from Jessie Rose‘s farewell project. Vibe with us above!

Related items:

[Music Ninja Radio] Episode 70: New Year, New Vibes

artworks-000195689243-uj5hic-originalMusic Ninja Radio is a weekly podcast recorded and broadcast live on San Francisco’s BFF.fm  from 4-6PM PST every Friday. 

Music Ninja Radio
Episode 70: New Year, New Vibes

 Soundcloud || Spotify Playlist  || BFF.fm Archive & Tracklist

This week we were ambushed by quality music across genres and, in this episode we share just a few of our favorite discoveries mixed in with some slightly older cuts you may have forgotten about. Oh, and also, brand new music from Jamiroquai! Continue reading

Related items:

[Hip-Hop] Frank Leone – Hometown Heroes (feat. FEMDOT)

FRANK LEONE
HOMETOWN HEROES (feat. FEMDOT)

The shit-stained footprint left by recent events has been looming heavy in the music world. Musicians, as they have been known to do, are using their unique medium to birth subversive, socially-charged anthems to reflect the times. However, just as with any music, certain songs resonate with each of us individually more than others. For example, “Drowning” by Mick Jenkins can bring me to tears but it may have a completely different perception in another’s eyes.

Earlier this week, I found what may be my favorite work in that vein–Frank Leone Femdots “Hometown Heroes.” Often times in rap collaboration, verses feel competitive but, in this case, the two Chicago emcees complement each other flawlessly: each telling a different story and the same one simultaneously. While the lyrics truly do express the burden of oppression, it is the recognition that it is a shared one that makes it so poignant.

As an Arab-American raised in a Muslim household, I was personally moved by FEMDOT’s verse, but Frank’s opening verse only crystallizes further in the context. The song’s ability to encompass women’s rights, LGBT rights, the abhorrent prison system and fear of immigrants presents a truly united front–showing that the youth really are aware and ready to act for change.

It’s a bit easier to show than tell in this case, so I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite bars below.

call another little boy a faggot, i’ma beat your mouth in – Frank Leone

I couldn’t love this more–the redirection of perceived anger and aggression within rap music subverts stereotypes without even trying. Straight from the heart. 

Shit, our president is orange…and I’ll be God damned if I’m registered for not being Christian -FEMDOT

Yet another defiant declaration against something that is inching, faster than I’d like, towards reality.

Check out what Frank had to say below and give it a spin above. If the song hits 10k plays, he’ll be putting out a free download so make sure to share if you’re digging it!

 The song is a left brain reaction to our country’s public change of face through both a rural white & black Islamic Chicago lens.-Frank Leone

 

Related items:

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

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!

Related items:

[NEW] The xx – On Hold

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.

Related items: