This post will be another beast – a lot of ground I want to cover today: a little bit of hip hop, some jazz, some Indian funk….plus my take on the new Arctic Monkeys, and on the (cash driven, but) very well done Radiohead deluxe reissues that are now out.
Arctic Monkeys – Humbug
What if Josh Homme produced an Arctic Monkeys album? What would you think about that? Well, for those who don’t know, that is precisely what’s happened here. Obviously, this is the hardest and easily darkest album they’ve made. The songwriting is definitely still there and maturing, but the music is definitely a lot more bassline driven. The Homme signature sound is clearly present, i.e. the progressions, drumming, the ghostly/airy effects, etc. On first listen, it’s not as good as the first two album, but I think that my opinion will change because of the grower feeling I have about this go-round. Quality look right here.
Slaughterhouse – (self-titled)
In a capsule, a B level supergroup (Royce the 5’9”, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Crooked I) that’s made a decent album. If you enjoy a straight banger album, specifically in the old school Beatnuts era mode, you’ll enjoy this. Every song tries to top the next one in how hard to bangs. That is the first thing. The second, and more important, item is the group itself. They are definitely talented guys, nice lyrical skill and flows….very witty to boot. I don’t know if any of them will ever “blow”, but then again….it doesn’t matter to me, and it shouldn’t matter at all. Sometimes, you just have to take things at face value. And this is for the lovers of banger-style hip hop. Word to JuJu and Psycho Les (and sometimes Fashion….” We Got Props Over Here!!!)
Various artists – Sitar Beat! Indian Style Heavy Funk, Vol. 1 -4
Ill. I’ve actually covered this album is an old blog I used to run a few years ago, but I’ve been giving it a lot of run (due to some brainstorming on some Mumbai-based movie ideas I’ve had.) So I want to give it some more shine. It’s basically Indian funk from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. If you’re a fan of film, specifically of the Indian variety, chances are that you’ve heard some of the songs, but the tracks weren’t released or are just recently restored. Definitely a revelation. Serge Gainsbourg was – he’s the only NON-Indian among the volumes…that tell you a bit about how big of a deal he was/is. Lots of material for DJs and producers here.
Blitz the Ambassador – Stereotype
Hip hop and instruments, AND the dude is nice. Good shit. It’s not going to be played on any radio station that isn’t located on college campus, or in someone’s basement. That being said, this is exactly what should be getting played – which is starting to become so common, that’s it cliche in my eyes. Back to Blitz – this Ghana-born cat is nice, not Lupe or Elzhi or Blu nice….but very listenable. He’s got a very mature, knowledgeable flow, a person with a valuable world view, which is a nice addition to the hip hop pot. Mix that with the help from his producing partner Optiks, and the instruments of one of my favs, Hynoptic Brass Ensemble (I need to put heads up on these cats ….hmm..I think I just did.), and you have something people should really be paying attention to. Quality album, all the way around and good replay value as well.
Skyzoo – The Power of Words (mixtape)
This is the DJ Drama-less iTunes version. Sky is ill, if workmanlike. I have to admit that sometimes, I’d get a little bored. Not because he’s not dope, but it’s just the tone, I think and the beats weren’t always top notch. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a big name, but for what it’s worth – the mixtape/album is nice, even managing to shine over some of the questionable parts of certain collabs. He’s got some nice co-signs (via Wale, Talib Kweli) and good beats (via 9th Wonder, Jake One, Khrysis, etc.) This is that joint to ride out to the barber shop to and then let it play for a minute, before you go in to get your taper fade right.
Robert Glasper (Trio and Experiment) – Double Booked
I’m definitely a long time fan of this guy, so I’m happy to see more work. The concept of this album is that Rob is double booked for a show with his more traditional “Trio” group at one spot (through co-sign/voice mailer trumpeter Terrance Blanchard). But then he has an engagement at another spot at ?uestlove’s jam session with his larger aptly named “Experiment” outfit, later that evening. It’s a cool little way to get both of your acts cohesively on one album, and it make sense….as he is a versatile jazz pianist. And it completely works.
Radiohead – Capitol/EMI’s deluxe reissues for every album (except apparently The Bends…hmm)(except In Rainbows…which just came out…in Radioheadian scale)
If you do not know me well, know that my favorite musical act PERIOD is Radiohead. I’m not the t-shirt wearing, make it to every concert, W.A.S.T.E board veteran that you would think I would be. I’m just a huge fan of the music. It’s like I enjoy the San Antonio Spurs – my fav. NBA team – but I don’t actually own any gear….it’s just…not that cool to go that far. However, as any other massive Radiohead fan, new music is always welcome any time I can get my hands on it – even if it’s old music. What? Yes…new old music. It’s very obvious Capitol is basically reissuing their albums, en masse, to help with the wavering bottom line. At the same time – this is one cash grab I’m taking full advantage of. All of the reissues feature a ton of dope-ass B-sides, unreleased stuff, and live sessions in various locations, like the Canal + Studios in Paris, or in other international spots like Berlin, or BBC Radio One. The best thing for me – someone who have all of the albums and EPs….you can purchase the stuff you don’t have individually, via iTunes, specifically the live and the BBC sessions. I have to admit….Capitol/EMI sorta deserves a pat on the back – they’ve managed to appease fans, and fatten up the shrinking wallet (and Radiohead’s too….they are probably the biggest winners of all).
Radiohead – Pyramid Song…enjoy, heathens.