A week or two ago, we introduced Better Days, a painfully honest track from up-and-coming Los Angeles based emcee Azad Right. Today, he dropped Growing Apart, which uses a sample from fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar.
First and foremost: Azad was a stranger to me before I heard Better Days earlier this month, but I feel like I’ve learned more and more about this dude every day since. One reason being is that Azad doesn’t hide his true feelings or emotions in his music, something lost in today’s hip-hop. From life, love, heartbreak and all the way back, he puts it all on the line.
Download it, play it, share it, do something with it. And – follow Azad on Twitter to get all his latest music and show information at @AzadRight.
Skeptic Goodbye is the first recording project from Massachusetts band You Won’t.
The band’s clever songs touch on universal themes like time, movement, and pop culture- making references to Back To The Future, 80′s fashion, and the idea of the “American Dream” to tie their listeners to the songs and give them replay value. More than that, though, the songs are statements about today’s ideals; set to music through melody, drumline percussion, clapping, and acoustic guitar. “It’s just an illusion babe” sings vocalist Josh Arndouse (who’s voice draws references to both Bob Dylan and The Tallest Man On Earth) on the single “Three Car Garage”. The sentiment sets the mood for the rest of the album, allowing retrospective tracks like “Who Knew” and “Television” to shine in ways they couldn’t achieve on their own.
Musically there isn’t a lot of flashy instrumentation going on. When you do hear synth/guitar leads they’re more to illustrate feeling than show off talent. It’s more likely that the songs exist to compliment the lyrical content rather than dazzle fans- but the ideas are concise and never fall short of real entertainment. Overall the album flows really well, and seems to get better with each listen.
Skeptic Goodbye will be released through Old FLame Records on February 14th 2012.
South African electronic artist St Lucia has had one of his hit tracks, ‘We Got Wrong’, remixed by none other than Xaphoon Jones, one half of Philly rap duo Chiddy Bang. Taking a leaf out of chillwave’s book, this reworking is glitchy, with joyous handclaps delivering a contrasting rhythm. Add in some vibrant vocal samples and powerhouse synths, and you have ‘We Were Wrong’ gone dancefloor filler. Let this tropical-infused track warm you up this winter. Watch this space for more from St Lucia and his forthcoming record on Neon Gold.
F.A.Q. released a remix of Gramitik’s Itz Over from Street Bangerz Volume One this week. The slow, soulful instrumental makes me want to do what Gramitik admits is one of his favorite things to do: smoke weed. Not normally a fan of tracks with no lyrics or verses, but this smooth rendition caught me off guard and before I knew it I was clicking replay. As for my disdain for remixes, dare I say, “Itz Over”?
Late last year we came across one of the most wonderful dubstep remixes of Lana Del Ray’s “Blue Jeans” from (at the time) an obscure up and coming producer called PatrickReza. PatrickReza’s enthusiasm for creating powerful well-structured dubstep basslines, along with his attention to melodic detail took us utterly by surprise. What came next, is quite honestly something we will note in Music Ninja History. PatrickReza’s powerful yet-equality-soothing rendition of “Midnight City” by M83 automatically set him apart from the rest. The tasteful build-ups, none overbearing drops and the delicate balance to not cross over onto the brostep world has given his music immunity in the dubstep scene, with only 18 years old.
This brings us to what you have seen (or are about to see) at the very top of this post. New York/San Francisco-based content creation/production company Bodega director Jimmy Diebold has teamed up with PatrickReza to match “Midnight City” with the visuals it deserves. Between each beat and every wobble, they light up the Seattle night paying tribute to the Seattle Seahawks and their home stadium. Diebold explains, “I wanted to create a piece that was an architectural appreciation and provided a sense of place, but also captured the raw energy and excitement of what happens there.” An interesting marriage between lights and music makes the Seattle stadium come alive in this midnight city.
We proclaimed that Skrillex, by virtue of doing a remix on Levels, in fact killed the already overplayed track. We have seen more remixes of Levels in 2011 than people wearing chuck taylors. Yet, time and time again, the melodies in Avicii’s masterpiece of a house anthem just keeps coming back. If Skrillex did in fact kill the track, then prepare to see it rise from the dead, as a wonderful zombiedisco track that producer TheFatRat takes to the Next Level (pun intended).
South African hip hop trio Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for “The Answer”) first appeared on the scene in 2009 with their debut album $O$. They became a viral phenomenon after the release of the video for the album’s first single “Enter The Ninja”, teaming up with cinematographer Rob Malpage. With the first video the band introduced themselves, their music, and their Zef style to the masses… and got so many hits to the Die Antwoord website that the host couldn’t handle it and the site was shut down. The band became a sensational internet meme that boosted their sales and got them signed to Interscope records. It’s been about two years since they’ve released anything new and the world can’t help but wonder what they’ve been up to.
Ten$ion is the answer.
Recently the band has left Interscope records after refusing to succumb to a more generic sound and release anything “wack”. Die Antwoord’s sophomore effort is set for release February 7th on the band’s own Zef Imprint, which begs the question: what could they have been doing that even Lady Gaga‘s label (Interscope) couldn’t handle it? I have had the opportunity to preview the album, and am actually really happy that the band stayed true to their roots. Instead of transforming their sound into something more marketable to the American hip hop market, Ten$ion feels almost like a continuation of $O$ with only minor changes.
As the album starts it is immediately clear that the group has put enormous effort in maintaining the energy and momentum they found through $O$ while simultaneously maturing their sound. Each song moves flawlessly from track to track, skits included, and never falters in delivery. The band has elected to include nine actual songs on this record, which means that every song earned its placement in the track listing, and every one is as over the top as its predecessor. Songs like “I Fink U Freeky” and “U Make A Ninja Wanna Fuck” are prime candidates for singles and make this record shine like Ninja’s jewelry. Considering DJ Hi-Tek’s hard hitting beats, Yo-Landi Vi$$er’s creepy vocal melodies, and Ninja’s incredible flow, Ten$ion is unforgettable… and damn catchy.