Friday, March 11, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Mar. 5-11

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. Lots to get through this week, spots from underground comebacks, Emo long-livers, and flash in the pan remixes.

Yoni & Geti - Lunchline

Yes! Two absolute legends in Abstract Hip-Hop, Yoni Wolf and Serengeti, coming together for a collaboration concept album about the life of a married couple going through struggles? Sign. Me. Up. It's not so much the concept that's interesting, it isn't, it's more the fact that two abstract rappers are looking at such a simple concept that entices me. And lead single 'Lunchline' shows me why, abstaining from normalities by still loading the song in dense lyrics and side-swept messages typical of their style. This duality of normal people struggles discussed by weird rappers could spell greatness. 'Lunchline' is orchestral, like a Broadway show brought on by beats, strings, and background vocals. 

The second Serengeti starts his verse, with these large, hovering strings and swooning synths, it immediately takes me back to why I loved Sisyphus, with linear storytelling using intricate wordplay. While Yoni isn't present rapping here his production work is, with building drums towards the end that beam in and out of the wild strings and indecipherable dialogue. Color me insanely excited for this one. 

Travi$ Scott - Uber Everywhere Remix

Travi$ Scott insists this is an original, it's not. Before this track I hadn't heard Madeintyo's 'Uber Everywhere,' and I gotta say, after one listen of his version, released this past August, that still stands as the superior version. Much of the originality, personality, and superfluous humor that arises out of Madeintyo's version is left out here, with Scott just regurgitating much of the lyrics he created. If there's one thing I can compliment the Houston rapper for it's introducing me to the original, a small ghetto Pop anthem that creeks into unchartered territory in regards to sub-genres of Hip-Hop. This is not Trap. And while Scott's version makes it trappier, the aquatic atmosphere of the beat still distances the track from typical Trap. 

Another aspect of last year's 'Uber Everywhere' lost here is its particulars. There's little semblance of traction here, no low's to offset the alluring production. He keeps the low end, cause he has to, and pierces the synths to annoying levels, with nothing left to boot. Ad-libs fill the brim of both versions, as is expected, given the breadth and space between the lazily rapped flows, and while Scott's almost always on point in that regard, Madeintyo defeats him once again, even if it's the fact that he's new to me. The soft, cat-like "skrt skrt" is hilarious and adds to the ludicrous nature of the track, something Scott forces, like he's shoe-ing in to the latest trend without actually understanding the nuances.

The World Is A Beautiful Place - Even More Forever

Gotta admit, this style is my least favorite when talking about The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. You know, where lead single Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak recites past encounters, sometimes so trivial, with unnecessary emotional quibbles. It made up the majority of tracks on Harmlessness, with all the ones masked by intriguing production techniques being the best. 'Even More Forever,' a clear B-side from that album and single off their Long Live Happy Birthday EP, is just that type of track. If the first half, with his vocals being the priority, dominated the track then we'd be having a different conversation, but thanks to some passion bubbling under the instrumentation 'Even More Forever' works in downtrodden nostalgia without becoming too overly cliche. 

I adore how the song begins and ends, with a simple guitar riff that carries lonesomeness with it. And while percussion kicks in, with drum rhythms and a second guitar melody, that riff drags the song onwards and keeps the bullied momentum. As each instrument begins to kick into gear, building layers upon each other and themselves, that guitar keeps everything swaying evenly. I believe a third guitar enters the fold at some point in time, it's too complicated to tell. Not a bad thing mind you, The World Is A Beautiful Place understands measures and patterns, knowing never to over-encapsulate a song, squashing each individual piece to worthlessness. Each musician brings life into their grim world, pulsing through their expertise like miniature-Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Domo Genesis - Dapper

It's been a while Domo Genesis. There's been a ton of hoopla about OFWGKTA and their dissolution, but the writings on the wall show that the collective had been, and still are for some artists, experiencing turmoil from the creative differences. Tyler, the CreatorEarl Sweatshirt and The Internet are doing just fine, but then there's Hodgy Beats who can't commit to a style, Mike G. who can't release anything as a whole, and Domo who has been silently trying to redefine himself. Oh, and Frank Ocean who, while you might assume he's crystal clear with the greatness of Channel Orange, hasn't released anything since, with the four year mark creeping up ever so quickly. But thankfully for the stupefied stoner of the group that time has come, with Genesis, his official on-the-scene album, coming soon. The lead single 'Dapper,' with Anderson .Paak coming now. 

Oddly enough, this is not the direction I saw Domo going, but it's one I appreciate and respect. There's a clear sense of maturity here, and near self-titling your album with your shadow looming over the cover means that a jump might be made. There is one clear worry I see with 'Dapper' though. It's an Anderson .Paak song, through and through. You know how every song Chance the Rapper is featured on sounds eerily like his own work, with the actual artist replicating it to fit his style? That's what 'Dapper' is, sounding 100% like an outtake to Malibu. Now I like Malibu, so I like this song, but it leaves Domo, an artist who clearly wants to reroute his style, in unclear footing.

Taking Hip-Hop into darker, more foreboding places around the turn of the century, Dälek was in a place of his own. Through more boasting, outright musicianship acts like clipping. and Death Grips have taken this hardened tone to wider audiences, but Dälek was by and large the first. El-P was in the scope sure, but his sound, by Dälek's standards, were far too commercial oriented. That's just how left field his music was, veering sometimes on the edge of Drone. After seven years being distant from the game, Dälek has returned for another album, entitled Asphalt for Eden, set to release in April. 'Guaranteed Struggle' is a precursor of what to expect. Thankfully for fans of the New Jersey rapper, he's maintained the grizzled ferocity that dominated his older works. Maybe a bit too much though. 

While 'Guaranteed Struggle' is Industrial in its primal form, so was his works in the mid-2000's. So what makes this single stand out from his other songs? Well, not much. There's carrying synth drones dominating the background, overwhelming drums and bass engulfing the foreground, leaving little room for Dälek to actually make his voice rise. Whether by decision or unintended, his voice is swallowed by the beat, so much so that it's difficult to hear what he's saying much of the time, and that's on top of his already gurgled rhyming style. Maybe they're not important, they're likely just emphasizers to the emotive dissonance, but they're once again typical of Dälek. It's a good song, don't get me wrong, but I've heard it before. Many times. Let's hope with the new album new sights and sounds can find their way into his twisted visions.

It only makes sense for P.O.S to come back into the limelight, following a tenuous struggle with a kidney transplant, with a near nine minute single featuring every artist who's worked with him in some regard over the past few years. Allan KingdomAstronautalisEric MaysonKathleen Hanna, Hard-R, Lydia Liza, Lizzo, and Nicholas L. Perez are all listed as features, and you can see why. Most appear during the quirky, albeit haphazard chorus, that continues plodding P.O.S' difficulty, and much of the underground's, with formidably catchy hooks. It's too simply and with seeming associates coming together to sing it, without much focus on the melody, it kinda flops, and whenever it appears I just wait for the next part of the track to kick in. 

And thankfully there's a lot of parts, with P.O.S rightfully dominating most. Lyrically, he takes a look back at the years he's lost. The content seems split between his battle with the self, undergoing the surgery, and his battle with the community, looking upon the Black Lives Matters movement and all those lost with similar skin to his. Initially I was a bit sluggish on the idea of him rapping about Mike Brown and Eric Garner, having the years 2014 and 2015 doused in Hip-Hop comments on the whole movement, but then I realized the last time P.O.S put out music was in 2012, long before our country went headlong into this nation-wide protest. I'm fine with him making a comment on this in that regard. The production behind him in most sections, teetering on Industrial but nestled in his Punk roots, takes looming bass thumps and scratchy noise to insinuate coming riots effectively. 

As for features, my man Astronautalis appears and doesn't disappoint, coming from the perspective of a white hypocrite living in lavish off the struggles of those not in his shoes. It's a safe, and smart, place for him to make a comment on the movement, by playing the role of the aggregator. Allan Kingdom, whom I've heard of but haven't listened to his music, does a satisfactory job sprucing up the content, and Hard-R, who I've definitely never heard of, takes his time in the eye light seriously and boasts some beefy lines with definitive aggression. None of these guys last more than eight bars though, a strange decision to say the least, but one that makes sense given P.O.S' return to our sights.

Clark - Cyrogenic

Yawn. I was never much of a fan of Clark. Granted, I only checked out his most recent work, the self-titled Clark, but that only showed me how general and plain his IDM is. The Industrial edge brought in some interesting moments, but they were too far and in between to muster any kind of conceivable worth. Following up that LP with another, The Last Panthers, expected to release next week, hot on its heels. I'll check out that album when it does drop, but my expectations aren't high, and lead single 'Cryogenic' doesn't sway my opinion either way. 

I question why exactly this was released on its own in the first place. I have nothing against ambient quietly hidden away amongst the brush fires of the bigger songs on albums, but standing on its own as a single is quite a weird experience. Distant strings, tossing the baton back and forth between each other, lead the sound here. It's very delicate and harrowing, building precariously over the course of the near three minutes, but that's about it. There's nothing else to it. As a way to gain momentum for your latest LP, 'Cryogenic' is not the way to do it.

Father - Why Don't U

All I know of Father is he's the dirty Trap artist. And I mean dirty. His most famous song, 'Look At Wrist,' abstains from copious amounts of sexual innuendoes but everything after that fact has been engrossed with euphemisms that are incredibly blunt. The title of his debut album, Who's Gonna Get Fucked First?, should be a pretty strong indicator at who we're dealing with here. And the first single, 'Why Don't U,' to his follow-up, I'm a Piece of Shit, continues this trend, using mellow Trap to match his continuous lust. With him is Abra and iLoveMakonnen, two who've worked with him before, the former crystalizing Father's vision of a sexually-obsessed temptress in the chorus, the latter providing verse support with his peach fuzz vocals. 

Don't know whether it's intentional but the hooks makes me feel physically dirty. Hearing Abra sensually question "why don't you love me daddy?" on a song with the artist named Father is just, weird. Having it repetitiously going through my head does not help the cause. And yet, I hate to admit it, it's catchy, even if most of that comes from the beat which thumps and pumps with a bass that slaps. It's like the Trap version of Salt 'n' Pepa's 'Push It.' Thankfully ILoveMakonnen is here to provide contextual support with his falsetto rapping/singing that's comical even if he doesn't realize it. I'm slowly becoming more and more accustomed to his voice, appreciating it for what it is, even though the others on this track derail it with obscene bluntness.

Elzhi - Two 16's

It's taken a long, long time but Elzhi's follow-up to his renowned 2011 release Elmatic is about to drop. Lead Poison has been met with controversy with this album, launching it on kickstarter years ago and being very close to taking the fans money and running. Low and behold, right as lawsuits begin potentially springing up Lead Poison comes out to nullify all anger. Two handfuls of singles have dropped in anticipation of the LP, the latest being 'Two 16's,' a track that takes the repetitive nature of Hip-Hop tropes and makes it incredibly obvious. The song, as stated by the title, is two 16-bar verses, told of highly personal stories, centered around a single, simple chorus that seeks to reiterate exactly what this song is. 

Elzhi even states it at the beginning. "I know y'all just wanted two 16's" he states, before kicking off the first verse. Both verses detail loss, one from the perspective of a father missing his daughter's upcoming birthday because of his death, the other from the eyes of a pregnant mother who misses her baby's first words while serving time in prison. Elzhi is somehow able to take stories likely told for decades in Hip-Hop and make them real, assigning names to those who endure these decisions, spitting with his classic, storied flow over production from Karriem Riggins. But then again, as the title suggests, there's nothing much else to this song. I have no problem with this, but appearing smack in the middle of an LP will be kind've odd.

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