In this weeks heavy rotation: “Art rap”, house music masters, rising New York stars, an overlooked legend and the passing of a rap veteran. Oh, and Waka Flocka!
Open Mike Eagle – Rent Party Extension
An unfortunately overlooked talent, Open Mike Eagle is a vital part of the new wave of creativity currently shaking up hip-hop. With roots in what would traditionally be classed as ‘Indie Rap’ (though he calls it ‘art-rap’ himself), Open Mike Eagle offers a more inclusive, less aggressive take on hip-hop. On his latest EP, Rent Party Extension, he moves freely between self-deprecation (“you know I can’t dance for shit”) and an oddball wit, and has an endearing presence on the mic. At one point he states he doesn’t want “another typical rapping show”, and you won’t get that here. His choice of lopsided beats and electro-inspired rhythms (he also raps over a Com Truise track) fit well with his decision to approach rap from refreshing new angles. Check out the catchy ’5ree Thinkers’, then download the whole EP for free here.
Waka Flocka Flame – Let Dem Guns Blam ft. Meek Mill
Bow! Bow! Bow! Bow! Bow! Switch your brain off for a while, Waka Flocka Flame’s back on the scene with ‘Let Dem Guns Blam’. Taken from his upcoming album, Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family, it’s closer to the darker material from 2010′s Flockaveli than the party-friendly Lex-Luger hits – the subdued synths and cold piano melody provide a sinister backdrop for Waka and Meek Mill’s murderous rhymes. But this is still Waka Flocka Flame we’re dealing with, and even on a more brooding track like this his energy is just infectious – you’ll be feeling pretty hyped up by the time the hook comes around for the last time. Listen below.
Meyhem Lauren – Special Effects ft. Himanshu and Action Bronson
It might have been easy, at one point, to dismiss Meyhem Lauren as a fairly anonymous member of Action Bronson’s entourage, but that’s looking more and more like an unfair dismissal. He might not grab your attention with as much ease as his larger-than-life partner, but he’s carving out a gully style all his own. Taken from his upcoming Respect to the Fly Shit mixtape, ’Special Effects’ features a smoked-out vocal loop and some nice boom-bap drums, well suited for the three New Yorkers drop irreverent stream-of-consciousness rhymes. Heems’ intentionally loose, humorous flow sets things off in a fairly relaxed manner – the track gains more momentum as Lauren, and then Bronson drop a couple of tight verses. The whole thing’s over in a little over two minutes, at which point you’ll probably play it over again. Listen or download below, and look out for that mixtape this month.
Mosca – Accidentally Ft. Robert Owens
In the past couple of years, Mosca’s earned himself a reputation as one of the top house music producers in the UK. Dancefloors are his priority, but his work is filled with subtle little touches that reward deeper listening. For his upcoming Eva Mendes EP, he’s teamed up with legendary house vocalist Robert Owens, which pretty much backs up his well-deserved status. The track itself is even better proof, though – it’s clearly the work of someone with a deep understanding house music, cleverly assembled from different sounds that build an irresistible momentum. Check it out below.
Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information
So Spin magazine recently published a ‘top 100 guitarists of all time’ article. Seemingly written just to piss of Rolling Stone (they shunned Jimi Hendrix for Skrillex and Jam Master Jay), it also gave a spotlight to many underrated or overlooked artists, including Shuggie Otis. And it’s never a bad time to remind people how awesome Shuggie is. Beginning his career as a young blues-prodigy in his father’s band, Shuggie moved beyond the blues template to craft jazz-inflected soul music. Sadly, Shuggie withdrew from the music scene soon after, only resurfacing for short periods at a time (including a collaboration with Yasin Bey/Mos Def on The New Danger). A master musician, much of his work was ignored for a time – his biggest ‘hit’ came when the Brothers Johnson covered ‘Strawberry Letter 23′ – but he’s thankfully beginning to get more recognition. His blissful arrangements, decorated with subtle jazzy guitar and smooth electric piano were truly unique contributions to soul music (and, via sampling, some hip-hop and R&B too). Check out ‘Inspiration Information’, from the album of the same name.
Beastie Boys – Shake Your Rump
Hip-hop would not be the massive cultural force it is today without the Beastie Boys. But unlike many rap superstars, the Beastie Boys remained positive and inventive throughout their career, and the late MCA, born Adam Yauch, was the source of much of that creative energy.
Relive a classic Beastie Boys moment below.