Thursday, December 15, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, Dec. 9-15

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. All Hip-Hop this week as the year begins to wrap down, with artists taking shelter, if only for a moment, in a hibernated state. 

Madvillain - Avalanche

To my eyes, there's no question MF DOOM is the biggest troll in all of Hip-Hop. Not that Dumile likely even knows what that means, but the legendary rapper plays by his own rules, created off this enigmatic cartoon character he lives through. He decides when to do shows, promotes albums that'll never be released, even some rumored to be awaiting press, and is stuck out overseas in the UK like an villain whose been exiled. So even though his presence may be building recently, with guest verses on Sour Soul, Blade Of The Ronin, Every Hero Needs A Villain, Bad Neighbor, Wildflower, Fishing Blues, and Feature Magnetic in the past two years, my only thoughts are that it's a ploy, a ruse, a tease. A true villain will never give fans what they want. And that continues here with 'Avalanche.' Initially, it seems as if this single, under the all infamous Madvillain moniker, is a sign of huge things to come. However, any true DOOM fan would know not to get their hopes up. We've been duped once again.

Why? Well, 'Avalanche,' a single released on '45 alongside a Madvillain action figure, was created, at the very least, over six years ago. Its relevance couldn't be any less credible. So no rapid Hip-Hop community, stop furiously typing the last line ("waiting for the date to drop the tape like bait"), as if it's some indication to a reveal in the near future. Six years ago, when 'Avalanche' appeared in snippet form on a Stones Throw mixtape, DOOM and his followers were already in the exact same tug-of-war game we are now in 2016. Nothing has changed. No tape, apart from the painfully stale and embarrassing collaboration with Bishop Nehru (NehruvianDOOM), has been released. Oh, I was supposed to talk about the song? DOOM's mystery is so profound that it slips me sometimes. Being that 'Avalanche' isn't an official lead single to a new album and merely a bonus for those buying a figurine, there's nothing inherently special about it. DOOM raps in his classic mealy-mouth, while Madlib loops faded 70's samples as he's prone to do. The match is still made in heaven, but 'Avalanche' isn't the best example of that.

Injury Reserve - Keep On Slippin

Injury Reserve came to my attention last year, with a record (Live From The Dentist Office) I was initially hyped over (after a slick album cover and the promise of Jazz Rap mixed with Abstract Hip-Hop). The result was anything but, stumbling on the same regurgitated Hip-Hop tropes that made their debut anything but interesting. In fact, it's best moments, those least reflected upon, were those towards the end when the trio quietly recessed into the confines of the aforementioned tropes ('ttktv,' 'Falling'). And guess what? By all accounts, their latest single, for their latest album (Floss, out today) is exactly this. Slow, meandering, atmospheric, and mixed with a breadth of ideas that, while failing to adhere to a single theme, still makes for more intriguing a collection of material than anything on Live From The Dentist Office (excluding 'Falling').

This is especially surprising to fans of me, given the prominent Vic Mensa feature here. Why? Because I'm not particularly a fan of his work, if my review of There's Alot Going On is anything to go by. So, combining his vapid form of Pop Rap and Injury Reserve's disappointing hype was sure to lead to a poor outcome. However, 'Keep On Slippin' doesn't try to conform, and actually finds Mensa in a similar headspace to his moment in the spotlight on Kanye West's 'Wolves,' which is still my favorite work of his. The song starts quaint, with some slight autotune singing, that presents things in a respectable manner, taking its time to grow, manifest, and ease you in. I was worried right about now, as it seemed entirely different from Injury Reserve's previous work, that I was just waiting for it to go downhill. While it does slightly right as Mensa opens his rapping mouth (for a verse that's painfully lacking in creativity), the trio more than holds up their end of the bargain to make for an interesting track that has me back on the hype train, if only for a moment.

Serengeti & Sicker Man - Impress A Girl

Three singles have now been released from the forthcoming Serengeti and Sicker Man collaboration, Doctor My Own Patience. For those accustomed to Serengeti's rapping world, like myself, these three offering's have been different, even by the Abstract rapper's standards. Simply put, he's not even rapping, and to declare this a Hip-Hop album, based on what we've heard thus far, would be wrongdoing. The last time these two collaborated on the emotionally wrought Saal, Serengeti effortlessly merged his Hip-Hop sensibilities with that of spoken word monologues and scarce singing to make an album that was uncomfortably sad. 'Impress A Girl,' while hidden worries linger underneath, is more melodramatic.

This fits the tone of the two previous singles, 'Boy' and 'Doctor My Own Patience.' Here, Serengeti's own feelings aren't fighting against Sicker Man's production so much as conforming to it. Right now, as it stands, Doctor My Own Patience falls somewhere between Indie Pop and SynthPop, with an assortment of synthetic instrumentation being used to dazzle the sights under Serengeti. 'Impress A Girl' does this by rapidly building in ferocity, until the penultimate chorus takes the track to its threshold. As for the quality. While I certainly appreciate Serengeti taking this step, I fear, without a tactful component of physical manifestations of sadness and relational upheaval, Doctor My Own Patience may fall under your typical Indie Pop release, albeit with a slight helping of dashed hopes and dreams. In other words, the three singles, while good, don't seem as engrossing as Saal's brightest (or darkest) spots.

P.O.S. - Lanes

Next month P.O.S. is set to release his fifth album, Chill, Dummy. It's also set to be his first in five years, the longest stretch in his career, dating back to 2012's We Don't Even Live Here. Now you may ask why, and the answer will be quite succinct. Immediately after releasing the aforementioned album, P.O.S. had to cancel its grand roll-out tour due to concerns with two failing kidneys. A few months passed and, after finding a donor, he had a successful kidney replacement. Suffice to say, the lack of music in the meantime is fair. However, as the always thriving underground Hip-Hop scene in Minneapolis is prone to do, P.O.S. has been giving away a trove of singles this past year in anticipation of his full-length release. So while the latest single, 'Lanes,' may fail to break the two-minute mark, the four other singles surely did its bidding, including the still fantastic 'Sleepdrone / Superposition.'

On 'Lanes,' and the majority of singles released other than 'Waves,' which was a rather sad attempt at Trap, P.O.S. has found himself submerged in his Punk roots like never before. The songs are aggressive, fast-paced, and find P.O.S. rapping in a gnarled singing voice that wouldn't seem out of the ordinary in some dingy basement packed to the brim with sweaty fans and musicians. 'Lanes' is no different, ignoring typical song structure for a short piece that's still divided in two segments, segmented entirely by a quiet dip to black, if you will, before raging back with a chorus brand new. The song even gives P.O.S. zero time to become acquainted, as he fills the entirety of the song, even its first second. Obviously, 'Lanes' isn't some grand track, given the time limits, but the sheer ferocity is quite appealing, even though this aggressive, somewhat watered down form of Hardcore Hip-Hop isn't my typical style.

Yung Lean - Crystal City

Being that we've had an incredibly slow week for loosies, a given considering the year is wrapping up, I had to reach into unusual corners to find six songs. So no, this is not a loosie. However, it was released on an eight-track LP with no warning, so I'd say 'Crystal City' still counts. And being that Yung Lean's latest record, Warlord, wasn't particularly a favorite of mine, you can see how desperate I am to find interesting tracks to speak about. Why choose 'Crystal City?' Well, I don't have time to listen, and review, Frost God, the album on which it appears, but the track might be the most notarized, as A$AP Ferg comes through to help the Swedish meme rapper out. Not out of the ordinary for the zany Ferg, as just last week the A$AP Mob member teamed up with Lil Yachty for the rambunctious, and utterly hilarious, 'Terminator.' As per Yung Lean's shtick, there's not much humor to be had here, even if the rapping quality lends itself to mockery. But the song does fill itself with the cold, atmospheric tundra his Sad Boys have been utilizing from the start.

This sonic zone is one utterly defined by the group, as you can sense their production style a mile away. This makes A$AP Ferg's appearance even more peculiar, especially how he's able to work upon it, if at all.seen from miles away as a clear Sad Boys work. What makes 'Crystal City' interesting is that, for arguably the first time, someone outside that tight-knit group is tackling this aesthetic. For his verse, Ferg keeps his cool, flowing as if the beat was your prototypical Mob beat. This is a pro and a con, as the verse is competent, but lacks creativity. Plus, when Ferg and Lean team up to offer some back and forth lines, the result is rather bland and even, at times, awkward and forced. Of course nothing new by Lean's standards, or even Ferg's for that matter, 'Crystal City' doesn't have content worth investing in. Your standard braggadocio raps are on display here, flaunting their stuff, with lots of fluff. However, even though 'Crystal City' isn't good in this sense, and really Lean's rapping sense, the aura the song gives off is intriguing enough to keep it afloat. Production isn't revolutionary like 'Kyoto' or 'Hoover,' but it's a solid banger from the Sad Boys. 

Murs - Colossus

Last I saw Murs, former member of the now-defunct LA underground collective Living Legends, he was breaking the world record for rapping 24-hours nonstop. Quite an impressive feat, to say the least. Otherwise, as a former backpacker growing up who knew no better and repped underground outfits like the Living Legends, I haven't really listened to much Murs since that group, and its founding members, including Grouch, Eligh, and Sunspot Jonz, split paths. I have approximately zero albums from the group, or sub-groups, as these were the days single tracks littered my iPod, a place they still rest now. It's nice to reflect on the past, but with Murs, he's still making moves today. One tidbit I didn't know was that he joined Tech N9ne's record label, Strange Music, in 2014. A solid move on his behalf considering the legion of followers Strange has. This not surprisingly made his latest album, 2015's Have A Nice Life, his most profitable to date.

Now, Murs has returned for 'Colossus,' the lead single off his newest album, 2017's Captain California. Unfortunately, it seems, I haven't missed much. Clearly taking much from Strange Music's more aggressive, Hardcore Hip-Hop artists, 'Colossus' finds Murs in a lane I'm not accustomed to. The beat is hard, unwavering, and typical, while Murs' lyrics are too, boasting about his wealth and lavish affairs. Not something I'd expect to hear from a man of humble roots with a group that focused on conscious street rap. On 'Colossus,' he really seems out of his element, trying to be someone he's not. Time spent with Tech N9ne and the like have surely been the primary reason for this transition, and I'm hoping, since this single was released on the deluxe edition of Tech's latest album The Storm, that the sound we're hearing here is not representative of what's soon to come on Captain California, and was rather fitted pandering. We shall see soon, but for now, 'Colossus' is nothing more than unneeded filler.

No comments:

Post a Comment