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.
For the first time in 4 years, the Queen of Pop has released an all-new album that has everything: tracks with hard dance beats, pop sensibilities, and loving ballads. The album begins with a great track, Girl Gone Wild. She recently released the music video for it; can we say fierceness? It’s sexy, sensual, and contains men dancing in 6 inch heels; and they are getting it! Absolutely love it!
What surprised me about the album were the songs that talked about her personal life. I Don’t Give A featuring Nicki Minaj talks about her current life, without her former husband Guy Ritchie and all of the problems that come along with divorce. Minaj’s verse towards the end is amazing and goes well with beat. Minaj kills it when she says towards the end “There’s only one Queen…and that’s Madonna…B*itch!”
Another track, Gang Bang, is racy with a hard dance beat. She sings about shooting her lover dead, in the head, and I rather enjoyed the pure anger of her rant towards the last minutes of the song. So raw and passionate, it kinda makes me wonder what she would do if she was in a room alone with Mr. Ritchie?!
The only featured artists on the track are M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj (unless you want to count a remix with LMFAO). I love both of these artists. They have done amazing things with their careers and it’s nice that they get recognition from such a legend. Give Me All Your Luvin’ is not my favorite track but it has grown on me, especially since seeing the Super Bowl performance as well as the music video. During the video, I felt I was having flashbacks of watching her MTV VMA performance with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
The slower, synth-string based Falling Free is a favorite of mine. It is simple, elegant, and comes in with harmonies at just the right time to give you that surge of bittersweet sadness. Masterpiece is also emotive with the common theme being how hard it is to love someone so beautiful and pure; how loving her “masterpiece” has helped and hindered her own growth.
This EP has everything. At times, she seems to be channeling her characters of yesteryear; I’m A Sinner reminding me of something to be found on her album Ray of Light; or maybe an extension of Beautiful Stranger from her album Music. Turn Up The Radio and Love Spent sounding like something from her Pharrell-produced album Hard Candy. I’m Addicted sounds like it should be a bonus track on Confession On A Dance Floor. This is not to say that these similarities weaken the album, they just happen to be some of my favorite albums of the past 15 years; the works of Madonna that have affected me the most.
All in all, I would recommend this album. It is solid. It is so multi-faceted that every song is pure pop perfection. But would you expect anything less from the Queen of Pop?!
“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.
Albums coming out soon!
Dave Jones: The Bell Recordings 1971-72, April 24
The Monkees:The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees, May 1
Glenn Fray: After Hours, May 8
Santana: Shape Shifter, May 15
Earth, Wind & Fire: Now, Then & Forever, May 22
Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Americana, June 5
Joe Walsh: Analog Man, June 5
Paul Simon: Graceland (25th Anniversary Edition), June 5
Rush: Clockwork Angels, June 12
Concerts in the Denver Area
Snow Patrol, Fillmore Auditorium, April 27
Clay Walker, Grizzly Rose, May 11
Rammstein, Denver Coliseum, May 20
Jane’s Addiction, Fillmore Auditorium, May 29
The Guess Who, Hudson Gardens, June 3
Daughtry, Buell Theatre, June 7
Big Head Todd and the Monsters with Barenaked Ladies, Red Rocks Amphitheater, June 9
Three Dog Night, Hudson Gardens, June 10
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hudson Gardens, June 17
Heart, Hudson Gardens, July 8
Joe Walsh, Hudson Gardens, Aug 19
Albums worth taking a listen too, I was surprised.
If you like old style Big Band toons you might want to take a listen to this wonderful album. I only think about Seth as the man who does Family Guy and those things. He has a wonderful singing voice.
This new album by Lionel Richie has country flare. Each song has a different country artist singing with Lionel. People Like Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffet and others give a new spin to the old tunes.
Recently Davy Jones passed away and I started thinking back on the fun music from the Monkeees. The Deluxe version of this album has features different versions of the songs not previously released and some other surprises. It’s fun to listen to old classics.
The new album from Shinedown is now getting worn out at my place. Hard to stop playing this one over and over, but then again I’ve found that to be the case with most of their music. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.
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.