Friday, April 1, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Mar. 26-31

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. Hip-Hop B-listers continue their run of straw loosies, while Ambient leaders release interesting works.

Kirk Franklin - Ultralight Prayer

Apparently for some The Life Of Pablo is the gift that keeps on giving. For others, like myself, we've moved on until reminded why we should stay. Kanye West's antics of patched-in albums, ceasing to ever finish, has caused a stir amongst music communities, wondering what exactly might come of this audacious approach to promotional release. Video games have patches to fix problems, why can't music? It's a heated discussion that Kanye, frankly, doesn't give one shit about. It's the man who called himself God after all, he can do what he pleases. This time around we get a two-minute interlude of sorts that features no Ye and only encounters the swelling Gospel of Kirk Franklin.

It's called 'Ultralight Prayer,' and as expected it borrows a lot from the song with the similar name opening The Life Of Pablo. His summoning, while not exactly similar, follows much of the same script. Kelly Price adds her soulful swooning to offset Franklin's hardnosed recitation's, and of course, the show-stealer, the choir boasting behind them all, comes in to revel in the Lord's light. But what's most interesting about 'Ultralight Prayer' is a featured part of that chorus absent on the final version of the song. A simple hum. It's used as the backbone here, with nothing instrumental to speak of around it, and yet fills the track with such life that many formal songs, which feature prosaic instrumentation, simply can not attain to. There's a bit of modulation in the vocals too, to give them added texture for good measure. All in all, a interesting segue that I'd gladly accept in place of 'Low Lights.'

Big K.R.I.T. - So Bad

If there's one reason to listen to 'So Bad,' a random loosie from Big K.R.I.T. to maintain interest, it's the bass. Cause damn. Throw a phenomenally hidden beat switch midway throughout the song that makes each half as interesting as the other and you have a quality track. Not sure which half I enjoy more, but what I can say without a doubt is that the chorus is easily the worst part of the track. K.R.I.T. shouldn't be singing, even if he's doing it haphazardly. And he only set the pitch up for me to say that the hook is, well, so bad. Everything besides that is some of his best work in a long time, after two straight projects, King Remembered in Time and Cadillactica, that disappointed.

His lyrics are typical, that's obvious with K.R.I.T. He's an introspective rapper who can flip to beast mode on a dime, giving him the two crucial edges to Southern Hip-Hop. This means to never expect something divine with creativity, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn't mean I can ignore it all together. Then again, this is a loosie, I shouldn't be so critical. For three minutes of free content it's a worthy addition to Big K.R.I.T.'s catalog. Picking apart the pieces, his flow on the second beat is better, but the first beat bests that one for me. His mixing of small, Kanye West backpacker era Soul samples with scatterbrained drums is a match made in heaven when the bass drops. Needless to say both sides are incredibly compact and full fit, regardless of which one you prefer.

Brian Eno - The Ship

Leave it to Ambient's kingpin to release half of his latest LP, The Ship, a month before release in single form on the 21-minute 'The Ship.' Lingering ambience is a tradition for Brian Eno, and 'The Ship' is no different, mixing silence with seduction at every turn, providing sparking edges that play like an alienated world under immense distress. I've always had a hard time accepting Ambient for what it is, the work's of Eno, the few of which I've heard, not sticking to me like they do others. I no doubt see his influence that has spanned across genres far and wide, I just feel, as a critical music listener, there's not much for me to see. 'The Ship,' ever so subtly, may change that.

Now sure, a large part of that is due to the hauntingly evocative vocals displayed in the middle of the track. They're hushed, soothing, yet come complete with a dissonant resonance that takes his immense work in technological platforms and applies them to the human voice. Telling the story of 'The Ship,' these narrative lyrics detach time from place, leaving the track in, essentially, sonic purgatory. What's most interesting for me though, is that while I'm drawn to the voice, I'm still interested in the space that guides him on his path. It's far from quiet, with copious amounts of effects and scenic landscapes gliding by on the calm sea. You can feel fear, hopelessness, peace, or nothingness, the contradictions only emphasizing his greatness at the craft.

For the final portion an alien voice emerges. Hardly decipherable, it's mainly used as a passage to tell you where you are. Drastically changing the tone, the creepy analogue voice really puts to shame all these Electronic artists trying to make 'scary' humanless voices by, essentially, using Siri to guide their direction. Overall a nice, tranquil track that wants me checking Eno's illustrious career, despite how pushed back I am towards it's sheer size.

Spark Master Tape - Tenkkeys

I'd be really curious to see what Spark Master Tape would sound like without the gimmick of his voice. Not that I care who it is, it's likely a nobody who's biggest claim to fame is said persona, but more so rudimentary his rhymes would come off if not for the vocal modifications. It's taken till the release of 'Tenkkeys' to have me wondering that question, as every song before this one has had some form of underground semblance to it. Weird samples strewn about, a peculiar sense of formation, or alternating rhyme flows. 'Tennkeys' though has none of it, coming dangerous close to boring Gangsta Rap territory, and like I said, if it wasn't for his voice he'd already be there.

I'm drawing comparisons to Freddie Gibbs when he's going hard or anyone from the G-Unit click. And while that's not necessarily a bad thing, the production largely focuses on making a banger through celebratory reigns, it also bears similarities to my least favorite song on his latest mixtape The #SWOUP Serengeti, 'Castles & Towers.' The song does grow on you as its duration increases, and that's something that can't be said for many cuts with a sound like this one. Never the less, 'Tenkkeys' doesn't sway my opinion on Silhouette Of A Sunkken City, that is, if it's the expected hype banger cut on the album. If the majority of the record sounds loud and boisterous, count some people in, count myself out.

Big Sean's latest loosie is largely a dud. And, if it truly is a throwaway that won't appear on his surprise announced collaboration album with Jhené Aiko set to release this week, then that is okay. Now Sean has been known to make alarmingly bad songs, 'Get My Shit Together' is not that. The problem arises in just how plain it is. Not striking enough to question if it's good, not explosive enough to awe in it being bad. It's just Big Sean rapping over minimal instrumentation, the bulk of which comes from a piano, similar to his pseudo-intellectual rhymes on Dark Sky Paradise's 'One Man Can Change The World.' The song sees Sean questioning his dedication, gathering his splitting life whilst trying to pick up the pieces.

As with many Sean songs, the lyrics are actually pretty personable. He may have a persona ripe for Pop Rap fodder, but the man is earnest and 'real.' So essentially, I don't have a problem with the content, more so the execution, which seems par for the course with the G.O.O.D Music emcee. While the production does tail off and crescendo at a pace that maintains interest, bringing in some much needed drums just as Sean's attention-seeking began to get the better of 'Get My Shit Together,' it still isn't anything remarkable. Leaving the production to anyone who's not a big name will do that, as Sean works best when the beat, unfortunately, outshines him.

Kid Cudi - The Frequency

First thing's first, no 'The Frequency' is not incredible. On first listen though it certainly seems that way, largely due to just how bad Kid Cudi's recent output has been. Many recognize Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven as 2015's worst album, and they'd be right, it's an easy call. So hearing the name's Mike Dean and Plain Pat pop up alongside Cudi's latest drop got people very, very excited. It was something I invariably predicted months back, when I couldn't possibly fathom Cudi being as bad as he is due to lost talent. He still has it, and hopefully with Man On The Moon III that'll all come back. 'The Frequency' is a good starting point, seeing him meet everyone halfway between his tryhard Grunge and his Hip-Hop roots.

There's still his nasel singing, which surprisingly isn't bad if done over anything besides acoustics. The best part of Speeding Bullet, by far, was its title track, the only track produced by Plain Pat. And while I think that song is better than this, the beat and much needed atmosphere is here. I do feel the song drags on a bit too long, being a smidge under five minutes but feeling like longer due to the slow, grueling beat. Not that that's a bad thing, just would've been better executed had it been two to three minutes, especially considering Cudi essentially repeats his bars from the first half. In between both equal sides though is a ugly detour influenced by Travi$ Scott's recent work. It splits up the monotony rather nicely, with a farty synth stretched under Cudi's screeching vocals. A more concise effort, and as always, more rapping, could lead Cudi back into the promised land.

River Tiber - Illusions

Man, I hate to single out these three cause it's not them but I've just noticed how many featured artists this year are doing it cause of their own soon-to-be released albums. No problem with that mind you, it's a great promotional tool, it's just showing me how many features are done for benefit rather than two artists who are fans of each other coming together. Here we get River Tiber prepping for his debut album Indigo, Pusha T preparing King Push, and Kaytranada anticipating 99.9%. I really don't know where River Tiber has come from and how he's able to get Pusha T on his debut, since I've only seen him do work with Jazz Cartier on Hotel Paranoia, but regardless we're here and Pusha's pushing it.

Speaking on the song's behalf, it's alright. Nothing special, nothing revolutionary, but that's not to say it's bad. Pusha T has one verse in the middle that's middle of the road, River Tiber is doing R&B that's been done before, but is often safely enjoyable. Think JMSN with a tab of Justin Timberlake. And Kaytranada provides his eloquently soothing backbone. I'm not sure if he's that good or takes his time, but either way the care given to each production piece I've heard from him has been impressive. There's slight sounds constantly falling in and out of the background to keep things interesting. Overall an above average piece of R&B with a slice of Hip-Hop.

Tim Hecker - Black Phase

I tried to take on Tim Hecker a couple years back when his critically-acclaimed Virgins dropped. It was another one of those albums where I appreciated what was happening, but couldn't really ingest it properly. For me, this goes without saying for Ambient Drone. I've come a long way since 2013 though, so while I don't remember much from Virgins, 'Black Phase,' another single from his upcoming Love Streams, reminded me in more than one way. It's strikingly pure, disastrously abrasive, and uncomfortably creepy. As a whole, I'm feeling it, even if it is just a single taken out of context on an album that demands it be included.

I think what's making this work for me when Virgins didn't is really, my maturity. I've listened to hundreds of albums since that time, moving beyond my Hip-Hop safe ground, so I know more of what to expect when it comes to Experimental music. Again, it's not like I, or anyone, can put this on in their car and have a pleasant, thoughtless drive. It's not music intended for that purpose, so in a lot of respects it's not meant to be enjoyed. Obviously that's a ludicrous statement I don't mean to the fullest effect, but the direction of thought is where I'm headed. Imagery is in full effect here, and if I can properly convey emotions of where I wouldn't want to be when this music plays, that's good art.

No comments:

Post a Comment