Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition: I'll say this about Danny Brown, he always knows how to keep things interesting. The Detroit MC has had one of the most peculiar careers of anyone making music today; starting out in jail for drug dealing, struggling as a square peg in 50 Cent's G-Unit cadre, and spending most of the 2010's as one of hip hop's most unique and enigmatic figures.
Atrocity Exhibition is Brown's fourth full length album, following up his ravey and wild 2013 album Old. But while Brown spends a lot of this new album talking about the familiar hip hop trappings — drugs, money and bitches, mainly — Attrocity Exhibition still feels like a major departure for Brown. The biggest shift on this album compared to Brown's previous work is the beats. While Brown has always been a fan of the frenetic, which doesn't change here, on Atrocity Exhibition the beats are more distorted, claustrophobic and difficult than any other Danny Brown album. Brown has said in interviews that the album title was inspired by Joy Division, and the tone of these tracks pay clear homage to the work of the 80s post-punk legends.
Tracks like "White Lines" and "Golddust" show Danny Brown at his most abstract, with drug raps layered all over noisey, dense beats. But this album still has some cuts from the Danny Brown we've all come to know and love. "Really Doe", which contains verses from Brown, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt, is a burner. Brown should probably send Earl specifically a thank you basket, because his 2015 album I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside sounds like it essentially served as the template for Atrocity Exhibition.
This is probably Brown's most challenging release yet, but the manic flows and gonzo rhymes that have come to define Brown's rapping still show up all over this album. So while I wouldn't recommend this album as the place to start if you're trying to get into Danny Brown for the first time, Brown is definitely someone I would consider an auteur. His idiosyncrasies have always led to engaging art, and on this album Brown doesn't sound like he's getting any less interesting anytime soon. JACK
RIYL: Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Rocky, Vince Staples
Recommended Tracks: 4, 7, 8
Local Natives - Sunlit Youth: Usually bands just have a few hits, but Local Natives have a knack for writing a lot of catchy melodies. I was dancing the whole time I listened to this album tbh. All the songs sound cohesive while at the same time sounding unique.
Sunlit Youth is their third album, which comes a few years after 2013’s Hummingbird and 2010’s Gorilla Manor. At times, their latest album is about youth empowerment with bold lyrics like “we can do whatever we want,” but at other times it explores the more uncertain side of adolescence with lyrics like “give me 5 good reasons to trust us with our future” (a lyric I’m sure all college students can relate to) on the song “Fountain Of Youth”. This whole youthful vibe inspired them to host an impromptu illegal free show on top of their practice space in Silver Lake, Los Angeles over the summer.
Their sound on this album is the same Local Natives you know and love, but with a more synth-oriented instrumentation. They add some of their signature vocal harmonies on “Past Lives,” but switch it up with a female vocalist on the song “Dark Days.” Honestly, every song on the album is really catchy. Even their slower songs, like “Ellie Alice” make me want to slow jam. The song “Jellyfish” starts out with a fast-paced beat that kind of sounds like it could be a Death Grips song (“Get Got”), and the beginning of “Coins” sounds like it could be a John Mayer song, but then Local Natives make it all their own. It’s pretty amazing to hear what they as a band can do with such different sounds. They also introduce new sounds into each song, making for a unique and interesting listening experience. ***If anyone on Concerts Committee is reading this, you guys should book them for SpringFest since you have a much bigger budget than KXSC ^_^ woo! CHRISTINA
RIYL: Grizzly Bear, MGMT, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, Vampire Weekend
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11
Elza Soures - A Mulher do Fim do Mundo (The Woman at the End of the World): Disclaimer: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO UNDERSTAND PORTUGUESE TO APPRECIATE THIS OR ANY WORLD MUSIC I ADD ! IT’S GOOD, TRUST ME PLEASE.
Elza Soares is a Brazilian icon, starting her career out of a favela in Rio de Janiero in 1950. Her latest album coming 76 years! into her career. Elza has represented Brazil in World Cups, sang for them in the opening ceremony of the latest Olympics. It’s been a long ride for Elza, and this album is beautifully self-aware of that, at the end of her career she truly is the Woman at the End of the World, one of the last vestiges of musicians who could single handedly represent an entire nation's emotions to the world. Luckily for Brazilians, both Elza Soares and Caetano Veloso have evolved just as Brazil has, they not only represent traditional Brazil but have changed to showcase just how modern Brazil has become.
Elza has never been afraid, how could she, she came from nothing and achieved success on her immensely unique style, a mix of scatt, New Orleans jazz, and an unbelievable rasp that sounds like a woman unapologetically expressing herself in every single note of her singing. Her voice is erratic, never staying still, at times an a screeching train and others a beautiful Portuguese dancer.
This album is a very risky endeavor for Elza, after being Brazil’s sweetheart for over 70 years she decides to reinvent herself, each track as poetic as the next, both lyrically (if you can understand Portuguese) and musically. The instrumentation and vocals are full of grit, each track telling its own tale. The music itself is incredibly modern for a 79 year old Brazilian woman, the title track A Mulher do Fim do Mundo mixes traditional Brazilian samba with piercing classical violin and strobe like synths eventually breaking down into Elza screeching “Eu Quero Cantar” (I want to sing) over and over. Luz Vermelha sounds like Elza is singing with Vietcong playing behind her, it legitimately rocks. The entire album is full of tracks that weave between genres and feels, and as a whole depict a masterclass effort from a woman who has never had anything to lose and never will. RAMIRO
RIYL: Eccentric Vocalists
Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 4
Ka - Honor Killed the Samurai: AKA — the dream of the 90’s is alive in Brooklyn. Word is bond, Ka might be the most slept on rapper I can think of right now. Homie is single handedly channeling the spirit of 90’s East coast hardcore hip-hop right now. If you don’t know about Ka, this fool is nuts. Like some sort of hip-hop super hero, He actually works as a full time fire captain at the FDNY by day, and by night, he’s Ka— screaming “fuck the police”. If you need an introduction, peep Days with Dr. Yen-Lo. Disclaimer, this shit ain’t for everyone, namsayin. I know a lot of people looking for bangers, or really crazy and inventive beats. Weirdo and mumble rap is a thing, and its in, and I fuck with it hard. But if you not really into that kinda shit, it might not be for you. We talking about some real gritty-stripped down, throwback shit. Fucking 90’s as fuck old samurai-movie-sampling shit. This is not somebody trying to put on a show. Instead, we get monotonous, hypnotic, meditating rhymes. Ka mourns and reflects over a youth (mis)spent surrounded by thugs, growing up around violence, drugs. But he makes it clear through and through that this isn’t glamorous. It’s a cautionary tale. Listening to this, I can’t help but be reminded by GZA (in fact, he came up by being featured on a GZA album) or Mobb Deep or a young Nas. “there’s a war going on outside no man is safe from”. Ka embodies that. JAISON
RIYL: GZA, Nas, Mobb Deep
Recommended Tracks: 3, 6, 9, 10
MNDSGN - Body Wash: MNDSGN (pronounced “Mind Design”) is one of many rad beatmakers signed to Stones Throw, and has been on my radar for a minute now (but if you’ve never heard of him, here’s a good place to start). Dude’s got a wide range when it comes to his production style. He grew up playing gospel tunes in church, and was big into in B-Boy culture, to which he accredits the many dimensions of his production style. Body Wash is an exploration of all those influences, as he incorporates elements of jazz, synth-funk, electronica, r&b, and soul.
Body Wash demonstrates a wide range, while remaining cohesive and playable all the way through. Mellow, downtempo tracks like “Tha Origin (Interlude)” are juxtaposed with G-Funk influenced songs like “Cosmic Perspective” and “Alluptoyou,” leaving us with a project that is multi-dimensional and complex. The final track, “Guess It’s All Over,” is one of my favorites from the project, incorporating mellow elements, while still being mad funky. The groove on this project is something real, you guys.
Overall, Body Wash is dreamy and celestial. The production is gorgeous, and the final product is experimental, while still feeling purposeful and clearly thought out. Listen to this at night alone or with someone you care about. ZOE
RIYL: Kaytranada, Knxwledge
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 4, 16
Kaytranda - .001%: Anyway, I know Kaytranada is a french Canadian and all that, but he sounds like he belongs in LA’s beat scene rather than the jazz city. I went to Low End Theory Festival on a press pass over the summer and now I’m having flash backs. The entire mixtape is just a selection of technically well made drum loops with a range of jazz and internet vibes. Its pretty generic stuff, all the vocals have way too much reverb, and the evocation is either of some jazz age utopia or an internet cafe. I guess it makes good music to drive to. CAMERON
RIYL: FlyLo, Nosaj Thing, Taylor McFerrin, TokiMonsta