Quinn XCII Speaks On New Track Straightjacket [TMN Interview]

Quinn XCII
Straightjacket

You wouldn’t think the temperature is starting to drop when listening to Quinn XCII’s music, including his recent single “Straightjacket.” This vocalist/songwriter has seamlessly melded electronic, hip-hop, soul, and pop and brought heat to everything he’s touched this year. His singles and EP’s have landed him a tour with Louis the Child, #1 spots on HypeMachine, over 40 million plays on Spotify, and regular spins at Top 40 radios around the country.

The single, produced by The Wiild, is a buoyant tune that floats just in between hip-hop and electronic, a skill that Quinn has mastered. The simplified melody keeps focus on the lyrics and the story behind them telling a relatable story that some, if not all, of us may have experienced when dealing with love. We were excited to catch up with Quinn and ask him more about his year and the single.

TMN: What got you into music? Have you always been a singer?

Q: I can remember being a fan of music since I could walk and hearing my parents play it around the house. That, and I was always into creative writing. It wasn’t until my freshmen year of college, though, that I really put the two together and started writing my own content and sharing it with friends. At the time it was actually more indie-rap stuff, but then I started focusing on singing and things started to evolve into my current sound.

TMN: Detroit is a huge hub for music and art in general, has growing up in Michigan influenced your music in any way?

Q: Definitely. The older Detroit music I feel has strongly shaped my writing in terms of melodies. Motown, du-wop style melodies that have that ear-candy quality about them has always attracted me, and I think have definitely crossed over into my own music.

TMN: A lot of your work is in collaboration with ayokay, did he help with “Straightjacket” or did you work with someone new?

Straightjacket was actually produced by The Wiild, a very talented producer from Australia who works with a lot of the pop acts out there. ayokay and I are still working very closely on my new music though, he’ll be producing majority of my next project again. We live together and have a studio in our house so we’re constantly writing new things together – it’s a really creative environment.

TMN: Almost a year ago you released the Bloom EP – Is “Straightjacket” just a single or can we expect something more after this? Another EP or LP?

Q: Straightjacket is the first song from my upcoming debut album. We’ll be releasing a few more singles from the project in the coming months and then we’re expecting to have the full album out by Spring/Summer of 2017!

TMN: Any specific inspiration behind Straightjacket?

Q: The idea behind Straightjacket was really about shedding light on the girl that has secrets, more bad ones than good. She acts a certain way in public and in front of your friends, but behind closed doors is a bit of psycho and can’t be contained. The two-faced mentality was very appealing to me to try to put into words and narrate.

TMN: You were on tour with Louis The Child, what was that like? What would you say was your favorite stop?

Touring with LTC was amazing. They’re both super talented guys and it’s really inspiring to see them at such a young age connect with people the way they have been. I’d say my favorite stop on the tour was in Minneapolis.. All the stops were amazing but that show has stuck out to me since getting off the road.

TMN: How would you sum up your 2016? Any specific moments stick out in particular?

Q: I signed with Columbia Records over the summer, which has definitely been one of the most memorable moments of the year. I’d say 2016 as a whole can be summed up as a big stepping stone for both ayokay and myself. I think we really made a big stride in our careers and are finally beginning to get placed on the platform we’ve been striving for. Now it’s just a matter of how much we want this to continue, and putting in the work is what will dictate that. I’m ready for it.

TMN: What’s 2017 looking like for you?

Q: 2017 will include the release of my debut album, a lot more touring, festivals, some really cool collaborations, and hopefully a lot more.

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[Electronic] Artifakts – Hustler

Artifakts
Hustler [Free Download via Philos Records]

“Hustler” is the most recent release from the “ever-evolving hip-hop project” known as Artifakts, the musical mantra of Garret Meyer from Milwaukee. This cooler-than-cool, six-minute jam session may be the greatest work yet from this highly-capable producer. A sturdy funk bassline and drum break form the backbone of the song, while piano keys flutter above this foundation whimsically. Resonant samples from what sounds like a string quartet take center stage, followed by a saxophone sample. “Don’t you Know By Now?” a vocal sample repeatedly questions. The mix moves along modestly in this manner until an unexpected drop makes way for a wobbling space-age synthesizer.

Hip-hop was once made by collaging an infinite array of samples, and electronic music by manipulating drum machines and synthesizers often past their breaking point. Both of these once rarified techniques are more accessible to producers today. Those like Artifakts who take advantage of this embarrassment of riches can provide us with sublime soundscapes which simultaneously sound like they’re prepared in the past and flung backward from the future. Meyers is organizing so much musical material on “Hustler”, showcasing his skills for sampling and synthesis and creating a tune with tangible texture and warmth. Pick up a free download from Philos Records here.

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[Hip-Hop] James Lanning – Until 21 (feat. Michael Christmas)

JAMES LANNING
Until 27 (Feat. Michael Christmas)

James Lanning made his first salvo into the ongoing struggle for notoriety in New York hip-hop with the gutsy single “One” in March, 2016. The music video, filmed by the rapper himself, saw James climbing and teetering on top of Big Apple skyscrapers. Combined with his thick lyricism and daring flow, the audio-visual combination was a feast for the senses. Now the driven and introspective rapper is back in a big way with “Until 27” featuring a witty verse from the talented Michael Christmas. “Until 27” is the first single off Lanning’s upcoming debut album Another Day Wasted out December 16th on Onamazu.

Off the bat, this beat slaps. Producer glocque pairs the lo-fidelity of a classic hip hop beat with low-end bass manipulation from the realms of dubstep or glitch hop. This unique backdrop is well-suited for the unorthodox, rapid-fire lyricism of Lanning. He stays in the pocket, and with this beat there’s some wonderfully spacious room for him to rhyme. “You don’t like me? I don’t like me neither / He might be Eazy or he might be Bieber,” Lanning starts in, alluding to his crossover appeal or perhaps some inner tension. Michael Christmas’s verse is a splendid addition to the track, rounding out the ironic tune with a bit of humor. In a city of almost 9 million people, and probably about 15,000 rappers, Lanning is wisely flexing a fresh and unique sound to distinguish himself.

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[Secret Ninja Pass] This Week at Beta – 12/1 – 12/4

Winter weather is finally here! Along with snowboarding, sledding, snowball fights, and schnapps-spiked hot cocoa, we can also look forward to a winter stacked with top-notch talent at Beta Nightclub. Per usual, we’re making it incredibly easy for you to get off your couch and head down. Why’s that? Because we’re hooking you up with free entry.

Here’s how:
– Head to the front door and enter the club before 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Get there before 9:00 on Sunday
– Show this post to the cashier (Valid for 21+ only).
– The deal is valid for FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY this week.

Porter Robinson & Madeon DJ Set - 12/1
’Porter Robinson & Madeon – Shelter’
Dirtyphonics / Dubloadz - 12/2
’Skrillex & Alvin Risk – Try It Out (Dirtyphonics Remix)’
’Ookay – Thief (Dubloadz Remix)’
Ceelo Green - 12/3
’Semi Hendrix feat. CeeLo Green – “Sex Pistol”‘
Sonny Fodera - 12/4
’JAHKOY – Still In Love (Sonny Fodera & Lauren Faith Remix)’
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[Hip Hop] MOORS – King

“There’s a young man named ‘King’, petrified fields smell of evaporated blood, bullet shells as rocks,” begins Keith Stanfield on “King”, the most recent single from Long Angeles duo MOORS. The poetic rapper and actor who co-stars in Donald Glover’s television show “Atlanta” is half of the musical project MOORS. The other half, Hrishikesh Hirway, founder of songwriter’s podcast Song Exploder, supplies the soundscape on King” with a tense, militant-moving beat.

Keith Stanfield told us he finds inspiration in the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, Langston Hughes, and Johnny Cash. Like these men, Stanfield records his thoughts with adept poetic maneuvering and a split-open, raw delivery. The song deals with distress, disaster and development within the artist’s life, and by proxy strikes a nerve deep within the consciousness of American history.

Stanfield’s internal and double rhymes strike hard and fast. He describes a past where he would “run with the goons subtle and smooth / Untouchable troop / Gutter platoon.” A history of violence left the singer with a plagued mind and vacant soul, and after growing through a history of violence the lines of morality become blurry and even non-existent. The young King asserts the gold within his inner self, which he will continue to manifest and bring forth amidst a harsh reality in which forces of evil are arrayed against him. Among such pressure, “don’t be surprised when I don’t know how to act,” Stanfield asserts. With “nothing to lose” a “thug on the loose” is “bringing a truth back”. The rapper’s literary prowess continues to shine through with double-entendre’s like “fuck a copper we goin’ platinum”. Though the truth of self-empowerment and self-knowledge runs through the lyrics, it’s a dark and at times despairing poetic picture which Stanfield paints on “King”. More than anything else, it’s an honest picture – of his life and the lives of others who struggle through oppression both physical and emotional, whether originating from the penal system or from one’s own harsh memories.

The assertion of self-worth within “King”, the reminder to find the gold inside yourself, is potent and timely. It’s some of the most striking work yet from a group named after the powerful African Muslim empire of the Middle Ages. We look forward to more material from this exceptionally creative pair of artists.

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Dope Music Village – You’re Welcome [TMN PREMIERE]

It takes a village. That’s the mantra that this DC, Maryland, and Virginia-based collective are using as the catalyst behind their creative endeavor. And, from what we’re seeing and hearing from their first album together, You’re Welcome produces a cohesive vibe that has us bobbing our heads, tapping our feet, and looking ahead into the rest of our long weekend.

Dope Music Village, aka DMV, is comprised of three unique artists, each of which brings their own individualistic creative visions to this project. The name is a play off of two things: the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia), and the village centers that make up their hometown of Columbia. Together, it’s setting the framework for what Nature Boi, Brian Rapp, and Ezko are crafting.

In 2015 we formed a collective known as Dope Music Village. We have adapted the motto, “it takes a village” because it reflects our ethos when it comes to our music scene. Everything we do is collaborative and inclusive. When we put together shows we partner with other collectives and groups instead of keeping everything in house. Our website even features other local artists who we think make good music. We truly believe that a rising tide lifts all ships. – Brain Rapp

Musically, this trio covers a broad breadth of hip-hop and R&B influences that span across nuances of multiple decades. What drew us in at first was an advance listen of “Venting” which features Liqui. The pronounced percussion, fluttering brass sample, and organic vocal harmonies call on associations of legends like De La Soul and Jurassic 5. Yet, as classic as the beat and flows feel, the production brings it forth into current times, blending the best of both worlds effortlessly. It’s the perfect addition to kicking the night off, maybe spouting off the chorus as you get cleaned up and ready to hit the town.

Other tracks provide a more modern, bass-heavy, trap offering, yet still carry the DMV originality throughout. “Hands and Bands” boasts a heavy 808 kick, window-rattling bassline, quick rolling hi-hat hits, and verses that will have you primed and ready for an epic night out. Should you find yourself at late-night after party, this will serve as the perfect soundtrack. Conversely, if you head home with someone who caught your interest instead of going to that after party, maybe you’d prefer to round out your evening with “Ms. Amerykah Badu,” which features a silky smooth beat and evocative lyrics worthy of a permanent addition into your bedroom playlist.

Wherever this weekend takes you, you’re now set up with a tasty set of tracks to cover any situation you should come up on. Whether it’s smoking out at home, or hitting the clubs with your fam, Dope Music Village has you covered. Make sure to show some proper support by picking up You’re Welcome on Bandcamp.

’Dope Music Village – Feel It’
’Dope Music Village – It’s Been Lit Ever Since’
’Dope Music Village – Hands & Bands (feat. Stef Is Dope)’
’Dope Music Village – Inhale Mary’
’Dope Music Village – This Is It (feat. Liqui)’
’Dope Music Village – Ms. Amerykah Badu’
’Dope Music Village – 5011 (feat. S.U. The Clique)’
’Dope Music Village – Venting (feat. Liqui)’
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[Album Review] Uyama Hiroto – Freeform Jazz

Sometimes an album catches you off guard, rising from nowhere and roaring into your ears with new sounds and ideas. Such an album grows on you over time, and eventually can reorient what music and sounds you thought you liked. Freeform Jazz, released on November 1 by Japanese producer and multi-instrumentalist Uyama Hiroto for Roph Recordings, is such an album. Emotionally rich, culturally diverse, and technically brilliant, it’s the artist’s third full-length release, his first since 2014’s Freedom of the Son, and it appeared with little to no fanfare or publicity in the United States.

Little information exists about Uyama Hiroto online, but he could first be heard playing the saxophone and clarinet in the music of deceased Japanese beat legend Nujabes, whose blend of jazz and hip hop was known for its technical precision, immaculate sampling, diversity of influence and melancholic vibe. Though Nujabes, real name Seba Jun, passed away in 2010, Uyama Hiroto has been driving forward the Japanese jazz/hip-hop sound and style, which itself has roots far deeper than Nujabes. Hiroto’s prior releases are excellent, but they don’t stray too far from Nujabes’ work. Now, high artistic risk pays off with a high reward on Freeform Jazz, which elevates his own sound and the Japanese jazz style to even higher ground.

The beautiful artwork on the album’s cover is representative of the musical elements which make the album so magical. First, like the painting, the music is rooted (although not exclusively) in prior Japanese musical tradition. Pentatonic scales and warm, emotive piano phrasing saturate the record, and recalls the work of 1970’s-1980’s jazz piano player Ryo Fukui. Constant melodies from the xylophone mix with the piano to establish a backdrop which sounds the way a Japanese maple garden looks in the autumn. This wash of colorful sound can be most clearly heard on “Yamato Damasii”.

’Yamato Damasii’

The album’s cover has a certain liquidity to it, a fluid rearrangement of the traditional horseman image which looks as if it’s being reflected in water. Similarly, Hiroto filters his acoustic material ever so delicately, resulting in music which sometimes sounds like its being played in a glass of water. Listen to “Skipper” for that effect exemplified.
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