There was a time period between 2011 and 2012 when it seemed as if XV was right on the cusp of stardom. After signing a deal with Warner Bros. Records, and a string of successful mixtape releases (Zero Heroes, Popular Culture, Squarians Vol. 1) that saw his star rise higher than ever, it seemed as if all the right pieces were in place for the Kansas native to finally make that giant leap from Smallville to the big stage. Then 2013 came and went without much of a peep from the talented rapper, and the momentum he’d been steadily building just kind of fizzled out into a blip on the radar.
That’s not to say we’re not excited for new material from the gifted emcee, but it’s going to take a tremendous effort to get back to the stage he was at in his career. Madness Begins is definitely a step in the right direction. Composed of 8 tracks of new material, the EP serves as a refresher of what Vizzy can really accomplish when he puts pen to paper. We won’t go so far as to say that this is one of his best projects, but it solidifies his standing in the game, and lets us know that despite his brief sabbatical, XV hasn’t lost a step.
Madness Begins is just the first effort in a five volume #MarchMadness Free-Play series that’ll see new releases to coincide with different legs of the college basketball tournament. If it all goes to plan, this could be just the boost Vizzy needs to get his career back on track, as we all anticipate his long-awaited The Kid With The Green Backpack album.
Melrose Refresher (prod. by Childish Gambino)
My Town (prod. by Zuki & Jay Beatz)
Everyday Life (prod. by The Awesome Sound)
Whats New (prod. by Big Jerm)
Yellow & Green
Electronic duo Ghost Twins are gearing up to drop their debut album Never Fear Total Failure next week, and TMN has the pleasure of premiering the latest track off the album “Yellow & Green.” Don’t worry, these aren’t the creepy, killer ghost twins from The Shining, but rather two up-and-coming lads from across the pond.
Formerly known as Crushing Blows, spouting guitar-driven, indie rock tunes, Ghost Twins have moved into a digitized world of synth and electronica. The echoing vocals and ghoulish waves of synth that engulf Ghost Twin’s post-industrial “Yellow & Green” leave you with a haunting, floating feeling of mystic bliss.
Never Fear Total Failure will be available to download on Ghost Twins’ Bandcamp next Tuesday, March 25, with a vinyl release on April 14.
Drake ft James Fauntleroy
Girls Love Beyonce (YOGI Refix)
When I reached out to the YOGI boys for the exclusive content portion of the month, I was over the moon when they sent me their unreleased refix (as they call it) of Drake’s ‘Girls Love Beyonce’. And can I just say, did they make quite the fix to this already pulsating song. In their interview last week, the guys told me that one thing to making a good remix is making it sound nothing like the original and to put an artist’s own sound and feel into the song. Needless to say, that is exactly what they did. Adding their own unique sound and feel, YOGI added a mix of deep electronic beats combined with their own blend of Drake’s vocals to add an addicting element to this song. Not only do girls love Beyonce, but girls and boys will definitely be loving YOGI after listening to this deep, seductive, and creative refix.
Side note, the boys ‘Burial’ featuring Pusha T is now available to buy worldwide and pre-order in the UK.
The Way I Feel
Chicago’s Bestfriends may have released this buzzy-addictive piece of dance-pop a few weeks back, but as their forthcoming EP Refine inches closer to release we realized we hadn’t yet published their single “The Way I Feel” and had done a disservice to you Ninjas in the process. From the onset we were reeled in as a towering synthesizer emanates a contorted sea of arpeggiated keys which act as the tune’s fishing pole, while the simple and hooky seven line chorus is in turn the bait for which us fortuitous listeners are able to sink our teeth into. At first listen, it may seem a bit frenetic in structure, but “The Way I Feel” carries more than enough poppy sensibility to attract droves of plays from all walks of sonic backgrounds. We dare you to try and not scoot a little to this one. Stream Bestfriends’ “The Way I Feel” above.
With their third album, Nikki Nack, set to drop May 6, tUnE-yArDs have shared “Water Fountain,” the first full track from the album. The brainchild of Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs follow their critically-acclaimed sophomore effort w h o k i l l with their latest release.
“Water Fountain” is a perfect mess of organized chaos that only tUnE-yArDs could bring. Mixing elements of Afro-pop, folk, funk and everything in between, tUnE-yArDs somehow manage to turn their clamoring combination of anarchic audio into a smooth shower of pleasing pandemonium. While receiving a heavier studio treatment than tUnE-yArDs previous songs, “Water Fountain” is filled with classic clanking, foot-stomping beats, and “HEY HA” chanting that makes tUnE-yArDs so much fun to listen to.
Unlike most public water fountains, this one will have you coming back for multiple refills.
tUnE-yArDs Nikki Nack is out May 6 via 4AD.
Chance The Rapper
Save Yourself First (Social Experiment original vs.)
Chance The Rapper and James Blake surprised us all last year when they teamed up for a hip-hop infused remix of Blake’s “Life Round Here.” Now that the pair are rooming together, the Windy City native has decided to release the verse that didn’t make the final cut. This version is far more subdued than the one that first saw the light of day, and plays closer to the tone of the Overgrown original. While the uptempo nature of the previous remix almost made it sound like a celebration of life, this tune is far more heartfelt and reflective, allowing Chance to show off his vocal chops and really dig deeper into what life around the streets of Chicago really means to him.
Chances are this won’t be featured on any projects in the near future, but given the frenzy with which the young emcee has returned in the last few weeks, you’ve gotta think an announcement of some sort is on its way soon.
The Underachievers break their recent mute 2014 status with a dope new track for our listening enjoyment. The Ryan Hemsworth-produced single “Incandescent” is something a little different from their previous body of work. The rap duo make their return to the webs with a dark, moody vibe and gritty, menacing lyrics to match. Paired with some heavy drum work and harsh keys, the underground crew try to come hard with this new sound. Signed to Flying Lotus‘ Brainfeeder imprint, you can expect the Brooklyn group’s debut album, Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium, later this year.