[House] A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation (T4PES X Nick AM Edit)

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ATCQ
Electric Relaxation (T4PES X Nick AM Edit)

Remixing A Tribe Called Quest is a tall order. You’ll need to bring your best, but as it turns out, Nick AM and T4PES did exactly that. These two managed to flip a hip-hop classic into a bounce-riddled house tune that would be difficult to distinguish from a KAYTRANADA edit. It feels like a completely natural progression, doesn’t overshadow the original, and maintains the funk that ATCQ has been priding themselves on for just about three decades now. Some may be hesitant about remixing staples such as this, but there’s no need to sweat because this duo simply smashed it. Enjoy a free download, get grooving immediately, and as always, RIP Phife.

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[Hip-Hop] Kaiydo – Jumpin (Prod. By Josh December)

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Kaiydo
Jumpin (Prod By Josh December)

After dropping a song that even Kate Hudson was bumping, Kaiydo is setting himself up for a massive 2017. You may know him from “Fruit Punch”, but his new tune flips the script yet again for the versatile young artist into a slight throwback sound that’s once again orchestrated by his partner-in-crime, Josh December. It comes as no surprise that he’s already playing festivals like Governors Ball, and this kid has nowhere to go but up from here. Throwing on “Jumpin'” at your next party is a guaranteed win, and if you missed out on his Colors & Sounds project, you’ll want to catch up immediately. Keep your week moving in the right direction with new Kaiydo and be ready for his debut mixtape Kartoons on the way!

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[Hip-Hop] Charles Jane LaFlare – 50 Shades of Jane

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Charles Jane LaFlare
Fifty Shades Of Jane (prod. Johnytiger)

There’s a new wave moving through Miami, a one-of-a-kind cut “50 Shades of Jane” courtesy of a first-class future music odd couple – the braggadocious R&B singer/songwriter Charles Jane LaFlare and the grungy, admittedly anti-social beat architect Johnytiger.

Though their collision on this track is potent, these Magic City natives appear to come from disparate backgrounds. Johnytiger gets out there on production, filtering wrecking guitar chords, 808 drums, and wide, low synthesizers through a grunge aesthetic. In fact, Johnytiger plays guitar with the durable hardcore band I Set My Friends On Fire. We were delightfully surprised to hear him cook up a saucy wave beat for LaFlare, an up-and-coming glamorous R&B cat who can really turn a phrase.

“You know I’m a savage / Why you flexing on me like you think you have it?” asks LaFlare. We’re not, you have it, guy. The back end of the tune gets dirty, with the white noise dropping off and LaFlare rhyming assertively over pure bass and drums, with a sardonic sampled vocal leading the track to its conclusion. I can’t remember hearing high-pitched, higher energy, innuendo-laced R&B rhymes over an electronically constructed quasi-rock song before, but I’m damn glad I heard it today.

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[Album Review] Kiante Robinson – Love For Rap, Rap For Love

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Kiante Robinson is up next from New York with his first mixtape Love For Rap, Rap For Love. With authenticity and lyrical precision, the young Bronxite presents vivid tales and relatable tribulations from his life, along with a few ill boasts and party jams. In the new horizontal musical culture, it’s becoming slightly easier for a kid with skill and drive to get recognized in the rap game without the patronage of a major music label. Mr. Robinson, whose tape is out thanks to Gold Expectations, shows ample amounts of both.

Right off the rip, Robinson demonstrates his poetic prowess while offering advice only a fellow NYC youth could understand.

This that mood music / when you gettin’ pushed, homie, this that pull through it / I made this for that kid sittin in the school clueless / you ain’t gotta know what they know, that’s from a true truant

This tune, “Intro”, sets the tone for the tape – complex rhymes that ultimately relate simple truths. Kiante encourages his listeners to follows their dreams, use their minds, and rap for love, not for attention. He’s rapping about what he knows, not what’s popular or cool, and that’s what makes this tape so cool. The kid radiates realness. In a rap game where hot new artists spend so much time talking about and cultivating their image but can barely freestyle, “Love For Rap” is as refreshing as a bottle of beer from a bodega on a summer day.

The beats, more lo-fi boom-bap than 808 trap and covered in stylish samples, give the tape a vintage vibe. He pays respect to the greats, memorializing Phife Dawg at the beginning of “Move Along”, and naming a tune after Lauryn Hill. The final track, “#Win”, makes use of a classic soul sample “You Can’t Blame Me” by Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Burr, again paying homage to the past. “I wanna see my community win … if you fall, pursue it again.”

The tape’s first single, “Greatest of My Time” is rare braggadocio from someone who “don’t like to brag a lot”. That single has racked up over 2.5 million plays on Soundcloud. With Kiante’s words flowing like water over a true head-bopping beat, it’s easy to hear why this cut is finding favor. With little marketing or promo, no major record deal or co-sign, Kiante is simply showing and proving. A quick lyric from “Move Along” helps to illustrate the community Kiante comes from.

Always close to the cliff, but no big step off / it’s hard growing up watching all the rich get more / takin’ his and yours to make the kids less poor / bad parents but we ain’t jealous of the kids next door

The triplet rhymes run throughout the album. His syntax spills out so quickly sometimes that one needs two or three plays to get the full spectrum of what he’s saying.

The sheer density of his lyrics stands out in a hip-hop scene which has been putting greater and greater emphasis on intricate production and catchy hooks. Passing on these trends, he reminds us of Dave East, another true MC with lighting quick lyricism out of New York City.

“There’s something deeper in the music / but you gotta listen to find it,” Kiante says on “Level Headed”. That’s just how we like it, Mr. Robinson, and we’ll be listening for a long time to come. Grab your free download of this fantastic hip-hop music here.

’Intro’
’Soon As We Enter’
’Kiante Robinson – Poetry (Featuring Taina Rain)’
’You, You & You’
’Dreams’
’Intermission’
’Kiante Robinson – Greatest Of My Time’
’Move Along’
’Level Headed’
’Kiante Robinson – Lauryn Hill’
’Kiante Robinson – #Win’
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[Trap] Ekali & KRANE – Akira

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Ekali & KRANE
Akira

THIS is how you kick off a new year. Ekali and KRANE have already established themselves as household names in the ever-changing genre of trap, so seeing them join forces on a monstrous collaboration is cause for celebration.

“Akira” is a marvel of melody and powerful percussion that utilizes the unique and outstanding aspects of each producer’s best qualities in a manner similar to the recent RL Grime, Skrillex, and What So Not smash, “Waiting”. One could even argue that these two might have just upstaged those legends on their new tune, but that’s for you to decide. Either way, “Akira” is going to be getting a LOT of festival play over the next couple of months without fail.

As for the rest of 2017, “Akira” is a strong way to start, and we’re certainly hoping for the possibility of more from Ekali and KRANE in the future. Do yourself a favor and grab the free download while you can!

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[Album Review] Azad – A Very Emotional EP

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We can’t help but appreciate the honesty shown by Azad on his newest EP. From the project’s title down to its most negligible lyric, the Los Angeles-based performer offers up straightforward thoughts and sensual energy in this classy hybrid of R&B and hip-hop, A Very Emotional EP. The record features a ton of material for an EP – verses laid out with consistent, adept flow, hooks highlighting his soft, lilting voice, all couched in excellent instrumentals from an all-star cast of producers. We’re grateful the singer/songwriter took enough time away from his label Mind Of A Genius to bless us with this compilation.

From track to track the EP tells a familiar but timeless story. First, serious longing and heartbreak. Then, introverted analysis leads to a return to confidence. Finally, it’s baby-making time.

“Enough of You” lays out the pattern that each song takes. Azad’s rhymes, sometimes styled more like freeform poetry than rap bars, tumble out towards in the verse towards a chorus that sounds like many a softer cut from Drake or J. Cole. The deep beat comes courtesy of Sango, Atu and Dpat, a trio which literally made great waves together in 2016. “Special” reminds one of The Weekend’s best tracks from 2016, but with more hard-edged lyricism in between the shiny hook. Catch the creative homage Azad pays to one particularly influential rhyme sayer in the second verse.

The talented Millz Douglas from East Baltimore holds it down with a great beat on “Godesses”, the type of pocket beat that offers a prime platform to a rapper, and Azad slides right in. The next two tracks, “Trust” and ‘Grind on Me” are produced by Jonathan Marquez, whose guitar samples refresh the soundscape. Trust is difficult to achieve, and the absence of it seems to be driving much of Azad’s emotional turmoil. Azad has a special ability to tell detailed, true stories in verse, especially on “Grind On Me”. Love songs are common, but it’s rare to hear an honest, productive, real discussion of relationship troubles packaged in smooth verse over the kick and snare. Only a few in the game do it well, and Azad puts forward his best effort on this cut.

Stwo from Paris offers my personal favorite beat on the compilation with “Ready”, a boom-bap dripping in bass with a kick that sounds like a heartbeat and a snare that is deliciously minimal. The lack of glamor in the instrumental makes room Azad’s smooth, soft flow. “Teach me how to love I never learned how / it’s like every house I ever built gets burned down.”

After such an emotional EP, “Sweet” is a perfect capitulation. The raunchy lyrics and braggadocio fit perfectly into HUCCI‘s big-ass booming beat (Strictly!).

A Very Emotional EP is a very strong effort from Azad. It’s exactly what an EP should be – a thoughtfully-curated series of stellar instrumentals, each one employed carefully by the songwriter to tell a different part of his emotional tale. Few artists rhyme with the complexity and sing with the catharsis of Azad while keeping it so real with the subject matter. With all the new-age R&B out there, it can be hard to find the durable cuts. A Very Emotional EP is full of them.

’Enough Of You (Prod. By Sango, Atu & Dpat)’
’Special (Prod. by Patrick Collier)’
’Goddesses (Prod. by Millz Douglas)’
’Trust (Prod. by Jonathan Marquez)’
’Grind On Me 2016 (Prod. by Jonathan Marquez)’
’Ready (Prod. by Stwo)’
’Bonus Sweet (Prod. by HUCCI)’
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[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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