Source: Mel of the Outfit, NoiseyA Guide to Dallas Rap ; Listen for free at bop.fmMel, from Dallas rap group, The Outfit, curates his list of the top 24 Dallas rap groups that matter right now. There are some great finds here -- Topic, Crit Morris, and Johnny Cage are from great to good -- and there are also some artists that I never want to hear again -- Dustin Cavazes, namely, but whats most interesting is how the scene is a microcosm for the larger rap world -- a dash of hipster rap, a pinch of street, a bit of frat rap bullshit, and then a dabble of crossover. Anyway, if nothing else, it was enjoyable to read the story behind "My Dougie":
Its an old story, but its still amazing both how persistent and subjective the "album" experience is at this point. Young Thug Leaks and Loosies 2015 is effectively a fan-curated playlist culled from Young Thug mixtape cuts, b-sides and singles that is published on a free, user-generated playlist site that is owned by a major urban media company (Complex). Still, it has nearly 140K plays, which is more than most albums these days, and definitely more than almost any playlist on a major streaming site. I was discussing this with a friend the other day, but the album is an artificial construct, and the common, underlying logic behind either a playlist such this one, or a proper album like The Barter 6*, is that its an extended collection of songs. By this logic, albums are merely officially curated collections of artist tracks. Still, theres a (false?) expectation of coherence when it comes to an album, an expectation for the artist to make a statement, whether that be aesthetically, politically or *The caveat is that The Barter 6 isnt itself a proper album, according to Thugger himself, but a teaser for his proper album,
Source: ComplexFor those of you not attuned to the fast-moving tastes of rap blogs, most of these names will ring unfamiliar to you. And to be frank, theres nothing wrong with that, since these up-and-comers are in their woodshedding phase. Boogies The Reach has drawn critical acclaim and a deal with Republic/Interscope, while fellow UMG signee Post Malone seems like the proverbial industry plant. Nef the Pharoahs "Big Tymin" has dominated the San Francisco Bay Area all summer; and D.R.A.M.s "Cha Cha" has inspired countless Vine memes and a thinly-veiled Drake homage. Good hunting.
Click here to add to Spotify playlist!The Bomb Squad are one of hip-hop’s greatest production teams, and on Public Enemy’s 1987 debut, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, they established sampling as an art form. As the record turns 30 this month, The Bomb Squad’s intricate approach to beat construction remains as relevant as ever, demonstrating how important reference and quotation were to the development of Public Enemy’s politics and to hip-hop in general.Starting out as an opening act for fellow New York hip-hop outfit Beastie Boys, the early incarnation of Public Enemy heard on Yo! Bum Rush The Show more closely resembles a party-starting posse in the mold of Run-DMC than the fight-the-power force they would become. Though the specters of white supremacy and drug culture loom large in songs like “Rightstarter (Message To A Black Man)” and “Megablast,” lyrically speaking, Chuck D was not yet so overtly topical, focusing instead on interpersonal conflict. However, the intertextuality in The Bomb Squad’s sampling style revealed a more subtle approach to expressing Public Enemy’s worldview.Rather than simply sampling a song’s hook, each track was a dense tapestry of source material, charting the group’s constellation of influences and situating hip-hop within a larger spectrum of styles, from funk to thrash metal—“Miuzi Weighs A Ton” even juxtaposes Tangerine Dream with a disco beat. This cultural melding extends to Chuck D’s rhymes, which quote everyone from Syl Johnson to Aretha Franklin to Kurtis Blow.The Bomb Squad further bolstered their productions with live instrumentation. Though Chuck D would eventually regret writing the song, “Sophisticated Bitch” features a noteworthy highlight: a guitar solo courtesy of then-unknown Vernon Reid, whose band Living Colour had yet to break out into the alt-rock world.The righteous indignation for which Public Enemy is now known may mostly be absent there, but it wasn’t far behind. The militant “Rebel Without A Pause” was released as a B-side to “You’re Gonna Get Yours” later in 1987, and it would alter the group’s course forever. But even if Yo! Bum Rush the Show reminds us that Public Enemy didn’t arrive fully formed, its 30th anniversary presents an opportunity to appreciate the group for their sonic innovations, and in this playlist you’ll hear how The Bomb Squad laid the roots of a revolution with the sounds of the past.
In this recurring playlist, The Dowsers Mosi Reeves gathers new sounds and styles from across the hip-hop diaspora. Some are familiar, and others are personal favorites, but all reflect the state of rap as it is lived now.Every year brings a new culture war, and the dog days of 2017 have found us arguing over the alleged criminality of rappers like Xxxtentacion and Kodak Black, and whether listening to them amounts to tacit support. On their new projects, both men acknowledge their controversial reputation—and perhaps even ask for forgiveness. Elsewhere, Action Bronson rehashes his old Blue Chips mixtape formula, and makes a decent retail project in the process. And if you can’t be bothered with the drama surrounding the "lamestream," then there are vital indie voices like Milo and his densely literate art-rap.
Despite its reputation as the No. 1 music-industry disruptor of 2019, Lil Nas X’s honky-hop hybrid “Old Town Road” owes a great deal of its success to an age-old formula: the promotion of the chorus from cleanup hitter to leadoff batter. Although its usage has gained considerable traction in the streaming era (when shortened attention spans demand that artists engineer their tracks to elicit love-at-first-click), you can find examples of chorus-verse-chorus songwriting throughout pop history. This playlist provides a brief history of songs in which the first verse is secondary, chronologically charting how the practice has evolved over time. Back in the days of Elvis and The Beatles, it was an instant invitation to get up and dance to the devil’s music. For iconoclastic rockers like Neil Young and The Clash, it was a means of putting their social messaging front and center. At the height of hair metal, bands like Bon Jovi and Twisted Sister put their shout-along refrains up front in anticipation of engaging with their arena-size audiences. And as hip-hop and R&B have become the dominant forms of pop music in the 21st century, it’s becoming increasingly common for artists in the former camp to lure you in with hooks steeped in the latter.
Astrology’s pretty ancient, but we’re here for it as a modern-day cultural phenomenon—horoscopes and astrology memes are delightfully prevalent on social media, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a millennial who doesn’t know the ins and outs of their sign. But, whether or not the zodiac has any actual impact on our day-to-day lives, it’s definitely affecting our listening habits every month with this ongoing playlist series in which we corral our favorite hitmakers born under the current sign.“Allow me to reintroduce myself—my name is Hov, H-to-the-O-V,” opens rapper JAY Z on his iconic The Black Album standout “Public Service Announcement.” The line, now engraved in hip-hop’s lexicon, is one that speaks to the fiery essence of Sagittarius, the astrological sign that dominates the sky from November 22 to December 21. Like JAY Z, whose 50th birthday falls on December 4, people born under this sign are said to be bold, confident, and optimistic. According to astrologers, Sagittarians can be spontaneous and adventurous in nature—and potentially restless or irresponsible when out of balance.From Britney Spears to Taylor Swift, DJ Khaled, Janelle Monáe, and Miley Cyrus, some of this generation’s most daring and bright musicians were born under the Sagittarius sun. To celebrate the zodiac fire sign, symbolized by the centaur as well as the archer, we put together an era-spanning collection of hits and classics for your Sagittarius music horoscope, including Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle,” Sia’s “Chandelier,” Teyana Taylor’s “Rose in Harlem,” Billie Eilish’s “everything i wanted,” and more.
Welcome to a history of the Grammys’ greatest misses. The first Grammy Awards were given out in 1959, and obviously the organization has doled out well-deserved honors to countless awesome artists since then. But let’s face it: It’s a lot more fun to home in on the mistakes that this august assemblage of music-industry pros has made in terms of legendary artists they’ve snubbed for decades. So here’s a handy tally featuring some of the most glaringly obvious omissions from the Grammy rolls. Note that if we’d made this list in 2019, it would have also included Tanya Tucker, who won her first Grammy in 2020 at the age of 61, no less than 47 years after her first nomination (yes, she started young). And note further that we aren’t counting Lifetime Achievement awards, which are bestowed as opposed to being won in a competitive context.Looking all the way back, the Grammys actually missed a big one straight out of the gate. The first awards ceremony occurred in May of ’59, three months after Buddy Holly was killed in the infamous “The Day the Music Died” plane crash, and both of his solo (i.e., non-Crickets) albums had been released in ’58. You can probably tell where this is going. Many of the artists who shaped the ’60s didn’t fare much better—Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and The Grateful Dead, for instance, remain in the non-Grammy pile to this day. The awards missed their share of ’70s heroes as well, from ABBA to Bob Marley and beyond. (For the latter, it didn’t help that the industry did not have a reggae category until 1985.) So how did the Grammys do when hip-hop and New Wave were in the ascendant? Well, ask Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Depeche Mode, or The Cure, whose (surviving) members have presumably given up on waiting for the call. The Notorious B.I.G. and Nas can tell you there was some catching up to do on the hip-hop side in the ’90s. And country superstars like Dierks Bentley and Martina McBride have their issues with the institution too. In fact, when you step back and see how much titanic talent has been given the cold shoulder by the GRAMMYⓇs, it sort of starts to seem like a badge of honor.
This post is part of our program, The Story of Kendrick, an in-depth, 10-part look at the life and music of Kendrick Lamar. Sound cool and want to receive the other installments in your inbox? Go here. Already signed up and enjoying it? Help us get the word out and share on Facebook, Twitter, or with this link. Your friends will thank you.Kendrick Lamar’s albums are holistic, meticulously crafted meditations on the idea of blackness in America; they’re novels disguised as albums, and one gets the sense that every couplet and every bass lick has been labored over. All this is great, but sometimes you just want to hear Kendrick rap. This is what made his untitled.unmastered outtakes album from 2016 so enjoyable, and also why his guest verses are always so charming. The span of artists on this playlist reflects the central tension in Kendrick’s own music; the transcendent, post-electronic jazz of Flying Lotus nestles beside the rickety soul street reportage of Schoolboy Q. Navigating the space between those two poles is Kendrick, who moves forward and raps his ass off.
The ’90s have never sounded better than they do right now—especially for modern-day indie rockers. There’s no shortage of bands banging around these days whose sound suggests formative phases spent soaking up vintage ’90s indie rock. Not that the neo-’90s sound is itself a new thing. As soon as the era was far enough away in the rearview mirror to allow for nostalgia to set in (i.e., the second half of the 2000s), there were already some young artists out there onboarding ’90s alt-rock influences. But more recently, there’s been a bumper crop of bands that betray a soft spot for a time when MTV still played music videos and streaming was just something that happened in a restroom. In this context, the literate, lo-fi approach of Pavement has emerged as a particularly strong strand of the ’90s indie tapestry, and it isn’t hard to hear echoes of their sound in the work of more recent arrivals like Kiwi jr. or Teenage Cool Kids. Cherry Glazerr frontwoman Clementine Creevy seems to have a feeling for the kind of big, dirty guitar riffs that made Pacific Northwestern bands the kings of the alt-rock heap once upon a time. The world-weary, wise-guy angularity of Car Seat Headrest can bring to mind the lurching, loose-limbed attack of Railroad Jerk. And laconic, storytelling types like Nap Eyes stand to prove that there’s still a bright future ahead for those who mourn the passing of Silver Jews main man David Berman. But perhaps the best thing about a face-off between the modern indie bands evoking ’90s forebears and the old-school artists themselves is the fact that in this kind of competition, everybody wins.
It may be that 2019 was the best year for ’90s metal since, well, 1999. Bands from the decade of Judgment Night re-emerged with new creative twists and tweaks: Tool stretched out into polyrhythmic madness, Korn bludgeoned with more extreme and raw despair, Slipknot added a new drummer (Max Weinberg’s kid!) who gave them a new groove, and Rammstein wrote an anti-fascism anthem that caused controversy in Germany (and hit No. 1 there too). Elsewhere, icons of the era returned in unique ways: Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor scored a superhero TV series, Primus’ Les Claypool teamed up with Sean Lennon for some quirky psych rock, and Faith No More’s Mike Patton made an avant-decadent LP with ’70s soundtrack king Jean-Claude Vannier. Finally, the soaring voice of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington returned for a moment thanks to Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton, who released a song they recorded together in 2017.
Taking a look at the playlists for my show on Boston’s WZBC might give the more seasoned college-radio listener a bit of déjà vu: They’re filled with bands like Versus, Team Dresch, and Sleater-Kinney, who were at the top of the CMJ charts back in the ’90s. But the records they released in 2019 turned out to be some of the year’s best rock. Versus, whose Ex Nihilo EP and Ex Voto full-length were part of a creative run for leader Richard Baluyut that also included a tour by his pre-Versus outfit Flower and his 2000s band +/-, put out a lot of beautifully thrashy rock; Team Dresch returned with all cylinders blazing and singers Jody Bleyle and Kaia Wilson wailing their hearts out on “Your Hands My Pockets”; and Sleater-Kinney confronted middle age head-on with their examination of finding one’s footing, The Center Won’t Hold.Italian guitar heroes Uzeda—who have been putting out proggy, riff-heavy music for three-plus decades—released their first record in 13 years, the blistering Quocumque jerceris stabit; Imperial Teen, led by Faith No More multi-instrumentalist Roddy Bottum, kept the weird hooks coming with Now We Are Timeless; and high-concept Californians That Dog capped off a year of reissues with Old LP, their first album since 1997. Juliana Hatfield continued the creative tear she’s been on this decade with two albums: Weird, a collection of hooky, twisty songs that tackle alienation with searing wit, and Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police, her tribute record to the dubby New Wave chart heroes (in the spirit of the salute to Olivia Newton-John she released in 2018). And our playlist finishes with Mary Timony, formerly of the gnarled rockers Helium and currently part of the power trio Ex Hex, paying tribute to her former Autoclave bandmate Christina Billotte via an Ex Hex take on “What Kind of Monster Are You?,” one of the signature songs by Billotte’s ’90s triple threat Slant 6.