Thursday, May 26, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, May 20-26

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. We got some new Indie darlings, Hip-Hop legends, and Gangsta come-ups.

Jenny Hval - Female Vampire

This chick is on a tear. Jenny Hval treats her release schedule like an Atlanta rapper touting his mixtapes, except with a little more forethought at pre-planning. Her latest, and just announced Blood Bitch, set to drop September 30th, will be her fourth LP in that many years, each one, in my opinion, better than the last. Her 2015 release, Apocalypse, girl sought to encompass Art Pop's trending experimentation whilst explaining life in America to a foreign feminist. All of her LP's come equip with a glue that molds the tracks together. On Blood Bitch that'll be through her own veins, or more specifically the process of menstruation in which Hval sees incredible importance. 

In that regard 'Female Vampire's' title is hilarious and ironic, but the track itself is neither. Her intent was to draw more from monster flicks of the 80's, intertwining this fantasy with her own reality, thus resulting in a work that's cinematic but entirely personal. On 'Female Vampire,' Hval takes more from her earlier days where Metal was the predominant genre. It isn't here, but the lingering after effects sure are, as the haunting beauty of the production finds itself so thanks to progressive percussion and devilish multi-layered vocals. It doesn't soar as high as Apocalypse, girl's lead single 'That Battle Is Over,' but 'Female Vampire' touts Hval's talents easily and succinctly through facets that weave throughout each other.

Heard about this YG but haven't checked out his work yet. Besides his most famous single 'Twist My Fingaz,' which I thought was pretty good, I haven't heard him, and it's not a surprise why not. He's Gangsta Rap personified, down to the smallest of details. Which, ironically enough, makes him appealing cause he fills a niche most aren't. Gangsta Rap, for better in my eyes, is dying, and the only ones holding it afloat are artists that are incorporating other subgenres in the mix. Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs, and Flatbush ZOMBiES come to mind. Therefore YG, being endowed in the genre, actually makes his music quite interesting.

'Why You Always Hatin?' is a great example of that. It's so 90's, so P. Diddy-centric, infusing Gangsta Rap with an element of Pop. It's catchy, fun, and plucked right out of E-40's Bay area two-steps. For the hook, he's got Oakland lead femcee Kamaiyah to snarl and mumble her way across the title, keeping in line with that G-Funk vibe. And then, as a stark contrast just for his notoriety and voice, Drake enters for a verse midway through. It's not half bad, but it's damn near impossible to ignore his odd placement here and just vibe, as this is certainly not comfortable territory for the Toronto-based emcee. YG finishes things off with a solid verse, nothing special, but the whole piece is rather fun so why not dig it?

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - First World Problem

In the congested Neo-Psychedelia scene, Unknown Mortal Orchestra stands out for being able to bring in a much needed Funk element. The structures are less experimental, more upbeat, playing on humanities inability to refrain from dancing with music that's chaotic but orderly. 'First World Problem' takes this to a whole new level, forgoing album-centric formalities that were found on Multi-Love for a sound that's highly-refined and focused. There's no bridges, pre-hooks, intros or outros, the final product is simply two short verses surrounded by a repetitious, but highly-infectious, hook.

Unfortunately, that hook does constantly remind you that the featured content of the song is first world problems and a girl who struggles with them. Lead singer Ruban Nielson presumably wants to attract this girl but him being a "loser" is hindering that. So, basing a song off a meme with lyrics that aren't anything more than corny isn't a good look, but damn if it isn't intoxicating. Unknown Mortal Orchestra knew it too, dragging out the hook for minutes, filling out more than half of the track with just those four bars. It's a quality throwaway, as a contributor to a future album though, well that'll remain to be seen.

P.O.S. - Wave

Um, P.O.S, what is this? After the super-conscious, eight-minute posse cut 'Sleepdrone / Superposition' you'd expect something of a similar quality, just smaller. Instead, we get P.O.S. riding the wave wave, you know the thing Kanye West, Drake, and Wiz Khalifa are all about right now. Hell, the chorus here even sounds like Drake's 'Feel No Ways,' off Views. So I suppose, since P.O.S. has been an underground Experimental figure for the past decade or so, this is, in fact, more experimentation for him. It's him being braggadocios with a heavy hand of self-motivating lyrics sprinkled on top.

Is it good? I mean, no. And not really because P.O.S. doesn't effectively convey the hardcore Trap image, but because that image itself is rarely good to begin with. I mean this is the dude who made some of the most poignant and evocative commentary ever on Never Better simply regurgitating content I can hear on the radio. It's also far too cluttered, with forced autotune backing vocals that are just irritating. For the track he gets rather unknown Minnesota emcees, Sophia Eris and Moncelas Boston, to pump out fast flowing verses that are actually somewhat on point and, honestly, better than P.O.S.' output here. Strange track that conflates the direction the born-again emcee will take on his next project.

Clams Casino - Blast

It is no question to many that Clams Casino stands high on the list of quality Hip-Hop producers, essentially bringing about the Cloud Rap movement with his spacey beats that looped female vocals and added static to the background noise. This level of detail he brings is why many are also disappointed in his lack of contributions to the genre as a whole, responsible for a handful of the beats to some of A$AP Rocky's best songs, along with appearances with Lil B and Danny Brown. He's an elusive figure, whether he wants to be or not, and has yet to collaborate in entirety with any one artist. Hell, the guy still only has one EP under his name.

That'll change soon with the recently announced 32 Levels, his debut album. Features are mute, if any at all, but lead single 'Blast' quickly refreshes listeners on why we cared in the first place. His lush soundscapes are unparalleled in Hip-Hop today, with a touch delicate enough to pinpoint exactly who it is making the beat, and that right there is always the most important thing with becoming an acclaimed producer. 'Blast' works on many levels, contorting hazy female vocals around Wonky hi-hats similar to Baauer's work, but with a dense, intricately-layered backbone that sports bass, crackling acid rain, and the devilish ad-libs of an unidentifed male voice. An all-around stellar lead single that has everything going for it and then some.

Amidst the chaos of Kanye West's Life Of Pablo rollout Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey, was prominently displayed on West's site in the form of a phone call from his hideout in South Africa. Intense turmoil surrounded his citizenship in the country, including an unrecognizable passport, allowing the country to ban him for the next five years, which forced Bey to contact Ye to get his message out, which included a swift exit from music and show business following 2016. This was the last we heard from one of Hip-Hop's founding fathers, but now he's back with 'Dec. 99th / Tall Sleeves,' presumably a single to his final album, and overall it's fairly good.

A large part of what makes 'Dec. 99th / Tall Sleeves' notable is the place in which it was created. Still living and recording in Cape Town, Bey's home since 2014, the music is undeniably focused on South African sounds, unusual to most still following him in America. Interestingly enough, the other half of inspiration this track takes from is the Internet, as Bey's clearly remained in contact with the outside world. The sounds are retro-futuristic, with beaming synths masked as electric guitars darting over Tribal sounds; shakers, finger-snaps, and some added ambiance. 'Dec. 99th / Tall Sleeves' toys with rudimentary structures as well, featuring just one verse, which does lead to its main fault, which is when Bey goes off-script, failing to add anything interesting in the down period.

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