February

A haiku:

February flew

These the tracks that got me through

Blink 182

(blink 182 is not featured in this month’s roundup, rhyme simply too good to resist)

Another month has come and gone. This month’s featured tracks include a few new discoveries and some old favorites.

  1. “Anti-Matter” by King Geedorah (feat. Mr. Fantastik)

It’s the mf legend, MF DOOM. This track comes from the 2003 album Take Me To Your Leader, released under DOOM’s alias King Geedorah. DOOM assumes this alias in connection with the underground NYC collective Monsta Island Czars, of which he left in 2005. A number of  MIC members, including MF GRIMM (as Jet Jaguar), can be found throughout the album. The project instantly received extremely high praise, and has maintained relevance in the 2010s. In 2014, eleven years following its release, Complex named Take Me To Your Leader “one of the “Best One-Producer Albums of the 2000s”. Track 8, “Anti-Matter”, was the album’s only official single. The featured artist Mr. Fantastik, who can also be found on “Rapp Snitch Knishes” on DOOM’s MM.. FOODforever remains one of hip-hop’s greatest mysteries. Fantastik’s identity is still a point of great contention, with Reddit threads as recent as 2018 keeping the decade long speculation alive. (Give this thread a look. The passionate fan testimonies make it easy to get lost in the rabbit hole.)

I found this track a few months back, but revisited it recently and cannot get enough. For me, “Anti-Matter” was the gateway into the world of MF DOOM, a bit ironic considering it is not under his familiar known title. This song is everything I love about early 2000s rap. It highlights the period of DOOM’s career where his signature sound began to take shape and really solidify itself.

2. “i was all over her” by salvia palth

Wellington-based New Zealander Daniel Johann is the man behind salvia palth, a play on words of American poet Sylvia Plath. Johann, who has released music under multiple titles including his current name Adore, 1996, explores themes of teenage angst and vulnerability on the album melanchole. The 2013 project, Johann’s only project under this alias, features melodic guitars, lo-fi percussion, and layered vocals that perfectly compliment that moody melodies. The super-smooth guitar pairs flawlessly with the song’s irregular percussion, successfully setting the mood before the sulky vocals begin. It was the vocals that instantly caught my ear. The layers don’t harmonize in a way the ear is used to hearing, but I think that is what makes it so captivating.

3. “Quiet Dawn” by Archie Shepp

“Quiet Dawn” is the finale track of jazz musician Archie Shepp’s 1972 album Attica Blues. The song serves as the intro track to GOLF WANG’s Autumn/Winter 2018 lookbook (below). Tyler’s visuals and musical accompaniments with each new line never fail to get my heart racing. Like! The vision! The attention to detail! It is always there! It is constantly blowing me away! This Archie Shepp track shines so bright, the bold piano laying the ground work for the many unique layers that follow. After the lookbook dropped, I could not get this song to leave my head. As I began to research, this Shepp dude is legit y’all. Like, damn! Working closely with the likes of Cecil Taylor and the legendary John Coltrane, and even becoming a professor of African-American Studies at SUNY in Buffalo, New York, 81 year-old Shepp continues to play music and guide younger artists under his own record label, ArchieBall.

The album title Attica Blues references the Attica Prison riots of 1971. Stephen Davis of Rolling Stone praised the project beautifully, saying it was “not just a masterpiece of protest: […] it is more a politico/religious experience, an appeal to higher human consciousness to, for God’s sake, help us out of this torment.” This song is incredibly playful, its arrangement perfectly complimented by Waheeda Massey’s charming, almost childlike vocals. Going to need my local jazz bar to start playing some Shepp, ASAP.

4. “BILAP” by Trippie Redd (feat. Chief Keef)

Another timeless classic! No sarcasm there, like this song truly is such a gem. Producer Chopsquad, known for his melodic trap beats, enlisted frequent collaborators Trippie Redd and Chief Keef in 2018 for one of the summer’s best Soundcloud hits. At first, naive to extent of Chopsquad’s musical talents, I assumed the track’s theatrical piano melody was a sample. After some digging on Reddit, I stumbled upon what may very well be my new favorite Instagram post: Chopsquad absolutely dominating the keys while Trippie Redd sings in the studio. Chopsquad is a master on the keys and the mind behind other hits like Trippie Redd’s “Topanga”, which the duo performed live on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. In comparison, I personally think “BILAP” is a more unique track, with many of Redd’s fans arguing it as his most underrated song.

5. “ICE BOY” by Corbin

Formerly known for 2014’s unironically beautiful “meme track” “Without You” under the name Spooky Black, singer songwriter Corbin Smidzik is more than the white kid in the durag. In September 2017, Corbin released his latest full length album Mourn UNDER Shlohmo’s WeDidIt label. “ICE BOY”, the album’s first track, samples “Intruder” from Peter Gabriel’s Peter Gabriel 3: Melt, released in 1980. Corbin’s signature, sorrowful croon returns in a way that feels universally relatable, earning gloomy tweets from angsty teens nationwide. The song’s atmospheric, dark synth lays the groundwork for Corbin’s deeply emotional and authentic performance. Time to revamp that one playlist you cry to. You know the one, don’t lie.

6. “Liquid Glitter Wild” by B. Slade

A track that initially was nothing more than a new discovery in the world of sultry R&B has turned out to be much more interesting than I thought. You know when teachers and professors stress the importance of knowing things about an author (birthplace, era they lived in, familial relationships, etc) that might give insight to the motivation behind their works? This is one of those situations. “Liquid Glitter Wild” is by artist B.Slade, formerly known most famously as Tonéx.

Tonéx was one of Christian music’s brightest stars during the late ’90s/early ’00s, receiving six Stellar Awards (first and oldest televised awards show honoring Gospel Music) a GMA Award (honoring Christian music), and two Grammy nominations. After taking over as a pastor when his parents passed away, rebranding himself multiple times, and facing a number of other trials, B.Slade left the church and gospel music. Soon, under his new name, he came out as gay and began to release indie R&B music that includes sexual themes, themes lightyears away from those that made him famous. Soon enough, B.Slade’s unapologetic truths on sexuality were condemned by conservative Christians who “excommunicated” him from the community. Comments under “Liquid Glitter Wild” on YouTube include things like “Don’t let the devil the devil destroy ” and “I pray for your return to the Lord”.

Aside from the history and controversy, this is simply an excellent track. It’s that feel good type of track. Sultry and smooth, it showcases B.Slade’s tremendous vocal range. He abandoned an established career for something he is truly passionate about, and it seems to have paid off.

7. “Them Changes” by Thundercat

Ahhh, another classic. I am waiting for this album to get old and I wholeheartedly believe it never will. Musical mastermind Thundercat birthed a timeless treasure with his 2017 album Drunk. Working closely with artists like Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu, Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, and Travis Scott, Thundercats is no stranger to most music lovers, whether they recognize his name or not. Drunk, his third studio album, boasts an impressive 23 tracks and features from Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar.

“Them Changes”, the project’s 15th track, features Thundercat’s insane funkadelic bass skills. This song, and the album as a whole, creates a dynamic scene that showcases Thundercat’s musical talent and carefree sense of humor.

8. “Stay Away from My Baby” by Banes World

Shane Blanchard, aka Bane’s World, gives us a wavy love song from a protective lover in the track “Stay Away from My Baby” from his 2016 album Drowsy. The 22 year-old hails from California and gained a substantial fanbase with the song “You Say I’m in Love”, released one year after Drowsy. “Stay Away from My Baby” has that psychedelic beach rock feel, reminiscent of artists like Jacob Ozawa and The Growlers. While the original track matches the album’s overall vibe with its slightly distorted vocals, the song’s live version (below) showcases some serious vocal chops that cast the song in a beautifully different light.

9. “New World Order” by Flatbush Zombies

Yet another old favorite! The Flatbush Zombies should need no introduction, taking the rap game by storm particularly after the release of their debut studio album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, in 2016. The single “New World Order” is the latest drop from the Brooklyn based trio since their second album, Vacation in HellI enjoyed the track since it dropped on Halloween in 2018, with its grimy and eerie vibes that match the spooky season. After having the chance to see the song performed live at Camp Flog Gnaw the following month, the incredible performance made me fall further in love with the track. The Flatbush Zombies consistently bring such high energy to all of their live shows, and the crowd did not disappoint either (this set had some of the wildest moshing of the weekend). Months later, I still queue this track up when I want to be transported back to that sea of madness. That moment at the start of Zombie Juice’s verse, “Ain’t no rivalry, ain’t no hide and seek, Bang bang, rather you than me“, followed by those gunshots, then that beat drop? Wild.

10. “I Can’t Comfort You” by Cows Cabbage

California based band Cows Cabbage consists of members Aidan O’Donnell, Justin Kass, and Maxton Shulte. With O’Donnell’s guitar and lyrics, Kass on the drums, and Shulte’s bass and production skills, this trio is going places. While I originally was running their latest EP, Taste of Love, on loop via Spotify, a quick search on Soundcloud unearthed a treasure chest of archived tracks. I was first exposed to O’Donnell’s solo work last year with the track “Bubsy’s Crying”, a collaboration with SimpleSib, demonstrating a wonderfully unique marriage between guitar and electronics.

Cows Cabbage has tracks on Soundcloud dating back three years, tagged everything from #PsychadelicTrance to, more recently, #PsychadelicEmoRock. Tracks like “Sad Touch”, “Patience”, “SLOOCH MOUTH”, and “I Can’t Comfort You” boast incredible instrumental talent and impressive production. “I Can’t Comfort You” fits perfectly into that indie playlist for long drives to the beach. In my playlist of the sort, a number of songs are categorized by repetition, but this track does not give your mind a moment to wander. There is always something new for you ears to discover, whether it be another layer of vocals, the chorus’ skillful bass, or that unreal percussion at the song’s conclusion. I have sent this track to a number of friends, all agreeing that Cows Cabbage is destined for stardom. For the three people that read this blog, do your thing! Put these guys on the map!

One thought on “February

  1. Pingback: June | ALX

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