Music, What makes you happy?

Hip Hop

Azealia Banks

For those who don’t know me, I am a big fan of dance music: techno, house, electronic, even dubstep. It started when I was in high school, listening to the electronic music showcases on local radio stations late at night. Now that I’m older, it’s nice to see DJ’s I’ve been listening to for years get notoriety by the mainstream. One of those DJ’s is MachineDrum.

From the Land of Two Rivers (Eden, North Carolina) this artist emerged from the soils of the South to become a major player in electronic music. Since the early 2000’s he’s been creating sick beats that range from ambient to drum & bass, glitch to hip-hop. So imagine to my delight when I heard that he had decided to work with an up-and-coming artist from Harlem on several new projects: Azealia Banks.

Now don’t get it twisted, Ms. Banks is no a stranger to electronic music. In the past she has worked with heavy hitters like Diplo. Last year, she released the single 212, which sampled the tune Float My Boat by Lazy Jay, but her releasing tracks with MachineDrum had me more excited than usual because let’s face it: this girl can rap.

As a 90’s baby, she cites Destiny’s Child and Aaliyah along with countless other female MC’s, such as Lil Kim and Remy Ma as influences on her style. It definitely shows. And in a rap game dominated by Nicki Minaj, it’s nice to have some variety. Her newly released EP is titled 1991, the year of her birth. The title seems to coincide with the idea of a new birth for Banks since she signed with Interscope/Polydor Records earlier this year.

Straight out the gate, 1991 grabs your attention with the first track of the same title. MachineDrum’s beat is reminiscent of 90’s house music; the prominence of syncopated synth basslines. Banks’ rapping creates an “icing on the cake” situation. She is so smooth and is even featured singing on the track. Once you hear her belt out “NY rose me, Most High chose me…” you’ll soon discover how catchy this tune is, and how hard it will be to get it out of your head.

The other tracks on the EP come highly recommended as well. Van Vogue has Banks boasting her need for a crown and how she’s got Rapunzel style, a reference you never hear in music. Liquorice follows the same styling as 1991 with a strong house beat. The EP even features 212, the track that gave her the most recognition.

All in all, this EP is a definite must-have. The beats are banging, Banks’ rapping style is on point and they both come together in four playful, clever and overall jamming tracks. If your interested in more of the instrumental side , peep MachineDrum’s SXLND EP. Props to these two for releasing such a solid project.

– Romero H

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Romero Reviews Clutch City

Clutch City

“Clutch F’n City!” It’s time to get it poppin’ with this Florida-bred and raised duo. Prime 8 and Rich Small have been making music for years as solo artists as well as in different groups, but it wasn’t until last year they decided to come together and perform. Now the duo are becoming the face of Southern Hip-Hop in Florida, co-creators of their own record label, Clutch City Records, and are on the fast track to stardom.

One of their stand out tracks is Ewww. Produced by their exclusive producer July, this rock-tinged track is boasting star power, gold chains and watches with the lasting impression that “everything I do is Ewww!” to their haters. Rich Small starts the song out with a mean 16 spouting, “consistent, persistent, I’m g-shock hate resistant” which I really enjoyed hearing due to its syncopation with the beat. The way he flows is smoother than his partner in crime, Prime 8, who at times I could do without.

Prime 8’s flow at times reminds me of fellow Southern rapper Shawty Lo and at other times a bad Lil Wayne; probably due to him sampling Steady Mobbin’ on their mixtape. I think he does best when he’s being featured or when he sings the hook.

I think one of my favorite tracks by Clutch City and Clutch City Records is Get At Me, with July taking the reins as main rapper. The beat is enjoyable and many of the rhymes are clever (except the one about making someone’s ass a Lunchable!).

All in all, I think these guys have the right mindset to keep making good music. If I’m ever in Orlando, I’ll probably go to one of their concerts. Their beats are solid and wish them nothing but the best in the future.

– Romero H


New contributor Romero gave his review of Common’s latest.

Common: The Dreamer / The Believer

From what seemed to be a hiatus from Hip-Hop with no end in sight, Common is back to his roots with his 9th album, The Dreamer / The Believer. I’m not going to lie, I was a tad apprehensive about listening to it; I mean, it’s been a while since his last album, Universal Mind Control, was released, and that was a far cry from the earnest and self-empowerment from previous works. But I was surprised.

The album begins with the track, The Dreamer, with Common associating encouragement with dreams of Hip-Hop and his daughter. The track even features Maya Angelou, who recites a poem of the importance of being aware of one’s history. Other tracks feature Nas, John Legend and staying true to form, his father Lonny. They profess inspiration through childhood dreams and self-awareness in a culture of violence. Besides the optimistic tracks are sprinkled songs about get-loose lustiness. Sweet and Raw (How You Like It) especially talks about trolling the clubs in search of booty.

The entire album is a prime example of a “one-producer only” mentality. Created in conjunction with fellow Chicagoan No I.D., each track has beats derived in 70’s soul placed with pleading females singing the chorus, creating a feeling that you should bob your head rather than the foot-stomping bangers dispensed by his contemporaries. This comes as no surprise; many true Common fans will know that No I.D. has produced some of his earliest works.

With what seems to be the right tools to create a meaningful, successful album (Common’s poetic flow and free reign, the production magic of No I.D.), has this classic artist created something to be revered? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see this album as an artist returning to his 90’s roots, but because of the monopoly of No I.D. tracks, it begins to sound repetitive. Part of me wonders what it would sound like if he had enlisted the likes of Kanye West or Cee Lo Green.

All in all, it is good to see Common back to his true craft, writing/rapping. This album seems to be a coming home, or reconciliation for him. It’s not Be, but on the plus side, it’s not Universal Mind Control! Let’s just hope his next album doesn’t fall short like this one did.

-Romero H


Mil-1-lion…rap with emotions.

Insightful, raw, upcoming talent. Looking for more in the coming years.
Meet Mil-1-lion.
Well, for me it started when my dad bought me a tape called bible break when I was 6. This was the first time I heard hip-hop and from that point on I was hooked. I started writing songs shortly their after.

With no way to record myself I decided to store all of my songs till I got old enough to buy equipment but as the years passed I started to have a love for something else in life that was basketball. Basketball became my life as I entered my teen years and lasted till I blow out my knee. I took this really hard because I almost forgot about music by this point-I mean I was so set on be coming a basketball player it was blinding me that I had other passions in my life.

By this time I’m 18 I dropped out of high school and was starting to rebuild that lost love of music again. It took a few year to decide that is was what I wanted to do not because it was a hard choice but I knew the road to making a living off of music is hard road to travel. Once I decide to do this I was going full out I started creating tracks for me to rap on and started save money to get equipment.

Now in my early twenties I was looking forward again and everything was full go for music I was meeting people that I still work if today. I would spend thousands of hours online looking for any info on how to create and produce music. During this Time I also moved back home to Cincinnati, OH because my grandma got sick and then it happened something that just crushed me to pieces. One of my biggest supports in my life was my grandma and in 2001 she died from cancer. I was so angry so mad at GOD for taking her that for the next 10 years I gave up Rapping. I felt that the main reason for me doing music was gone so why even try anymore but GOD on the other hand had a different plan.

After this I just filled my life with meaningless things just to pass the time, I end up getting a managers job at a restaurant for a little while but it didn’t work out and I quite. During this time my uncle at the age of 40 started going to college and tried to get me to go for over a year but I keep telling he I got a job and I didn’t need college. Well after quitting my job I ask my parents if I could move back home to go to college for music production.

So I went to college for 3 years and figured not I really didn’t need it. All of my professors would always ask me why am I in college for music production when I am already doing producing music? They told me these things after hearing the tracks I made for project and told me to just go find a record company and sell them my tracks.

Finally after loosing my house and mom getting laid off I ended up in Tennessee with my great family. And I stated “moving on” not only about my grandma but about I lot of issues I was dealing from my past this is where the Artist came back because I need a way to release what was trapped inside of me. All the emotion and feeling that I kept bottled up all those years I realize I had to let go because progressing in my life will never happen if I don’t release the issues I have. So this is where the Album comes in I haven’t set a date for its release just yet hopefully by May if all goes well. For those who have never heard my music you can listen to it over at reverbnation.com/mil1lion and all song are free downloads. I also would like to thank heishort for putting on her blog thank you so much and I will let people know about your blog GOD bless. M1n I’m out.

Thank for taking the time to talk about your passion. Good Luck!


Broken Tongues……Denver Group with flair.

Floating around the Denver scene I came across this fun group.They list themselves as Alternative/Hip Hop/Jazz/Funk/Progressive.
Their new album Crooked Skyline is available from their website, but I asked them to give me a moment of their time to introduce you to them.

How did you get started, little history bio basically?
Greensleeves: Greensleeves and Zach are brothers who formed the band in 2007 right before they moved back to Denver, Colorado from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Their previous band was breaking up and the brothers decided to take the opportunity to move in a new creative direction. Then in 2008, Loose Change and Greensleeves, both Smoky Hill High grads, met through mutual friends and shared common interests in music. Greens was an engineer at CCM Studios and Loose Change came in to record an initial version of a song he’d just written called “Sunrises” (a current version is on “Crooked Skyline”). The two really vibed so Greensleeves proposed having LC join the group. The three began writing and performing around Denver, but after a couple of shows in early 2009, the three of them realized that they needed to add live instruments to take it to the next level. So they took out some craigslist adds in the Denver area seeking Bass and Drums. Both, Erin and Donny responded and auditioned. The rhythm section, with Zach on guitar, Erin on bass and Donny on drums, formed a nice pocket while Greens and LC scratched and rhymed over vamps. We knew we had something going so the five of us started jamming together regularly. Meanwhile, CC and Zach were working together downtown for a media/music/production firm. They too saw common ground in their musical interests and goals, so Zach invited CC to audition. She killed it and we added her shortly thereafter. Thus, six members. We’ve now been together as a six-piece for just under two years and we just released our debut album titled, Crooked Skyline, which was engineered by Greensleeves at CCM Studios. Be sure to give it a listen, it’s very dynamic and unique. We are very proud of it.

What or who inspired you?
Greens: I would say that we are inspired by lots of things in general, whether it be an emotion that needs appreciation, a situation that deserves attention or just about anything that’s relevant and provokes interesting thoughts. As six members our musical interests and motivations certainly differ, yet keeping an open mind to anything I think is what really helps us find new paths and approaches to song-writing and performing and being people. That’s why we love live-hip-hop as the nucleus of it all, bc it allows us to explore and mix anything we want. I also try to make it a point to find inspiration and motivation in things that are otherwise disagreeable to my opinion of that thing. Whether it be a song or artist I don’t necessarily care for or a crappy weather-day, I think it’s more about being aware of the inspiration that’s always present than dictating where it is and isn’t. I seem to get a lot of random, yet good ideas while doing manual labor too… so does that make it mindless, or mindful work then? haha

Loose Change: My inspirations are very rooted in hiphop culture from the bboys to the graffiti writers. Being friends with some of the best around (RTD, DF Crew, ATT) only makes me want to excel in my area. I’d like to think my style is a melting pot. Inspiration is so hard to pinpoint it could be listening to music and having a great idea or it could be dunking your fries in some ketchup and something just happens to pop up. Everything and nothing is inspiration. I tend to like looking for the dark irony in situations, ’cause, tell ya the truth, I usually like to use the sadness or doubt I might have to express how I feel.

What instruments do you play and who manufactured them?
Loose Change: MC
Greensleeves: MC, Turntables (Technics 1210s & Pioneer DJM 400, Serato), MPD 32 (Akai digital sampler w/ Reason), Macbook Pro, Percussion (shakers, etc)
Christie “CC” Chambers: Vocals, Percussion (djembe, shakers and tambourine)
Zach Warkentin: Guitar (PRS McCarty hard-tail, Vox Tonelab SE, Fender Deluxe amp/speaker)
Erin Angel: Bass, Keys (Fender Jazz Bass, M-Audio Axiom 49 with a Macbook Pro and Logic Mainstage)
Donny Broussard: Drums (Pacific Drums)

What do you listen too?
Greens: Well, we listen to a lot of things! My brother and I grew up on classic rock, funk, jazz, hip-hop, rap, old soul and RnB, metal, comedy albums and everything in between. Remember the Adam Sandler albums? Or when Metallica made great music? Classics! CC grew up on the rock n roll, folk and jam bands,Donny grew up on Bourbon Street, so he’s got that cajun in him, and Ian’s always had a pension for lyrical MCs and hip-hop culture. Personally, I’ve been getting into a lot of the collage-artists and dub-step lately like Bass Nectar, Bonobo, Wax Tailor and Pretty Lights, while I’ve always admired artists like Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, EWF, George Clinton and P Funk, The Roots, John Scofield, Beastie Boys, Atmosphere and the whole Rhymesayers crew, Quannum Projects crew like Blackalicious and Latyrx, Common, RJD2, Beck, J5 and Ozomatli, Cut Chemist, DJ Shadow, Greyboy, Kid Koala, QBert, BK-One… I also really get down to that 90s hip-hop like Big-L, Wu-Tang, Tribe, Lost Boys, Brand Nubian and De La Soul… the list could go on for a while. Hell, as an audio engineer I have country clients, tejano bands and gangster rappers too! We all love music and I think there’s appealing qualities in any of its forms. So long as there’s soul in it, I suppose. I also listen to a lot of KUVO and enjoy the big bands, jazz, and afro-cuban styles. My brother Zach certainly listens to a lot of that and Im sure he’d throw out a few names like Wes Montgomery, Brad Mehldau, Rafael Sadiq, Roy Hargrove, Coltrane and Miles, as well as Mars Volta, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, etc.

LC: As far as certain artists go I would say people like brother Ali, buck 65, living legends, visionaries, I’m really in to that northwest style like sand people, classified, sweatshop union just to name a few. I love the innovators like Wu-tang, or tribe and de la soul there are so many I could write a full page. People always say I like everything when speaking about genres of music. Well I don’t. I can’t stand country music. I also have a strong dislike for techno or house. It’s weird but I got a strange love for 80’s music, maybe because it was primarily up beat even when the content was not.

What makes you happy? or sad?
Successful performances and making awesome music makes us happy while loading and unloading gear makes us sad…

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Greens: I like just being active in life. I hate being stagnant and inactive. I need to be doing something whether it be a project or just a leisure sport. I love snowboarding and volleyball, drinking good beer, working on musical side-projects and practicing instruments. Smoke ‘n a pancake, bowling, air hockey, bocci ball and corn hole make for entertaining drinking w friends…

LC: In my spare time I love to keep active play bball, hit The gym, write pretty much whatever makes me happy besides making music.

If you could do anything you wanted what would it be?
Greens: Have a lengthy career making music! No delusions of grandeur or fame, just money to live and do what I do best. I’d also love to tour the world and play sold out shows to people with different native languages. Like, being really popular in obscure countries. That’d be pretty rad.

LC: If I could do anything I want it would most likely be traveling around the world playing music, also owning a clothing store (community service apparel). I would love to have multiple stores all over the country and the world to spread a vision my partners and I have been working very hard on.

Anything else you think people don’t already know about you that you want to share?
Our new album, Crooked Skyline, is ON SALE NOW at our website (www.BrokenTongues.com) and it’s the best live-hip-hop since the Roots! Also, Erin Angel and Greensleeves have a music side-project under the name PRESTOdigitist. We have 3 new eps coming out in the spring of 2012 featuring all sorts of styles ranging from Pretty Lights and RJD2, to Lady Gaga (the good shit) and Jay-Z. We also lease and sell exclusive beats and instrumentals regularly in pretty much any genre.

Also, Loose Change owns a really dope boutique clothing store in Denver, off Broadway, called Community Service Apparel. They offer limited edition clothing and great deals on urban gear other stores will not have. Links to all are below. Oh yea, and we have really good night vision and acute hearing.
Check them out!!! Thanks again for your time all.
www.BrokenTongues.com
www.facebook.com/BrokenTongues
www.ReverbNation.com/PRESTOdigitist
www.community-serv.com