Waka Flocka Flame, Zaytoven, Big Bank - Brick House Boyz:
Once upon a time, there were three little pigs that built a brick house so well that not even the big baddie wolf could huff and puff it down. This isn’t a fairy tale, and it doesn’t take place in Storybook Land. Nah, this story takes place in Atlanta and these piggies go by the names of Waka Flocka, Zaytoven, and Big Bank, ready to hold up the entire trap industry with their new mixtape, Brick House Boyz.
For many of you familiar with the brick squad, the rigidity of this album should come as no surprise. Zaytoven, our architecture, smoothly lays down the blueprint with his production skills and bone-chilling piano riffs that we all know and love. Flocka, the contractor, directs the teams as he lays down the law with his deadpan bars, building this house brick by brick. Big Bank, our interior designer, adds the final touches with melodious lines and hard raps to remind us that solid structures can also be beautiful.
Waka Flocka attacks the net right off the bat in “Bloggers” as he criticizes how the internet can use one piece of information and turn it into fake news. Fans have not heard Waka be this introspective since the song “F*** This Industry” off of Flockavelli. Other tunes like “Cold In the Streets”, “30 Round Clip”, and “Kick a Door” discuss Waka’s frustrations with friends, loyalties, and separating real ones from fake ones.
If you’re looking for quality trap music, look no further. And be warned if you ever try knocking on the door of this brick house— these pigs will not let you in, not by the hairs of their chiny chin chins. NATASHA
RIYL: Waka Flocka, Gucci Mane, Chief Keef
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 8
DJ Taye - Still Trippin':
DJ Taye’s “Still Trippin’”, released on Teklife, the record label founded by the late DJ Rashad, is an incredibly forward-thinking, innovative addition to footwork. Taye, born Dante Sanders, is a 23 year-old Chicagoan who met Rashad and DJ Spinn when young, who promptly invited him to join the Teklife crew and mentored him.
The bones of the record resemble the origins of the genre, but the layering, edits, and rapping especially set him apart, and show that footwork can and should break out of its origins in Chicago. Honestly, even though the genre originated in Chicago, I can easily see myself listening to “Still Trippin’” while driving on the 110 in LA in the evening.
If I could describe this record in a word, it’d be “sharp”. Taye’s rapping is throaty and enunciated, and there’s no ambiguity about what he wants to say. On Smokeout, he spits: “took a hit of this now you a choking hypochondriac / now stay away from the bars but I’m low-key an insomniac / had to cut that chick off cause she di’int know how to act / I still got my soul intact, ain’t nobody hold me back.” His rapping features deep, searing undertones that ride the beats and facilitate the progression of the record, just as the record chronicles his personal experiences growing up in the Southside of Chicago.
The production shines through, too. Keeping true to the origins of footwork as a style of dance, Still Trippin’ is undeniably a catchy, head-bobbing album. My favorite beat on the record is definitely Trippin’, which makes me feel like I’m on a futuristic dancefloor. Some tracks thump, some drone, and some are downright eerie—but all of them match the rapping excellently. Others stand well alone, like Closer, where vocal samples supplement a gentle but fast-paced guitar-reminiscent rhythm.
Still Trippin’ is a big progression from the sometimes-esoteric beats and elements toward footwork that’s a bit more accessible and universal. I sincerely hope Taye can bring the genre to the forefront of deeper experimental and electronic music circles. CONNOR
RIYL: DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn, Jlin
Rec Trax: 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14
Ben Frost - All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated:
Ben Frost is working very hard at the moment. In the last year, the man has put out an opera, a television score, a film score, an album, and just this week yet another release of new music.
Over the years, Frost seems to have found a happy middle ground between the harsh noise he release on Solaris and Aurora and the soft, ambient tones of Tim Hecker, Brian Eno, and his scores for media. All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated is a sonic treat that fits nicely in the middle of those worlds. It is dramatic and non-complacent, yet not sonically over-intrusive. It makes for a great night time listening if you don't mind being put a little on edge. CAMERON
RIYL: Clark, Tim Hecker, Evanescence, April Fools, etc
Recommended Tracks: 1, 5, 6
Digable Planets - Reachin’ (A Refutation Of Time and Space) (25thAnniversary Reissue):
When hip-hop fans reminisce about the ‘90s and talk about alternative or conscious hip-hop, groups like De La Soul or A Tribe Called Quest are often mentioned. A group that contributed to the genre, while expanding the jazz-rap subgenre, is Digable Planets. They dropped this jazz-inspired album in ’93, which held the hit single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” that earned them a Grammy Award in ’94.
Digable Planets consists Ishmael Butler aka "Butterfly", Craig Irving aka "Doodlebug", and Mary-Ann Vieira aka "Ladybug Mecca."
This record was reissued on vinyl for its 25thanniversary and included a blue/purple blend vinyl or a gold vinyl as buying options. It also included liner notes and lyrics for the first time since its ’93 release. The album itself was mainly produced by Digable Planet’s lead emcee, Butterfly.
When I first heard the album, I remember liking the laidback sound, the mellow mood, and the subject matter that differed from ‘90s New York street raps. After listening to it again ten years later, I appreciate the production a lot more. I now recognize the samples from Kool & the Gang, Herbie Hancock and Curtis Mayfield.
Digable Planets operate as a trio of music lovers that present their own take and mix to hip-hop, while sampling music from the ‘70s. As stated on the “Summer Madness”-sampled track, “Jimmi Diggin’ Cats”, they’re “paying good respects to the masters” – Jazz, Funk and Soul musicians. That’s the purpose of hip-hop, to reinvent music through sampling and paying respect to the past.
The record is filled with jazz-backdrop interludes and starts with, “It’s Good To Be Here,” ending with a skit where Butterfly introduces his bandmates. “Pacifics,” is a bass-laden track that captures the essence of New York in the mornings and makes you feel like you’ve traveled to the East Coast through Butterfly’s observation. The horns, the funky guitar, the piano in the backdrop, compose one of their singles, “Where I’m From” (I would highly recommend to check the music video as it vividly captures the New York scenery in the 90s). “Jimmi Diggin’ Cats” is about paying homage to Jimi Hendrix, Black Panthers, and funk/soul musicians of the ‘60s and ‘70s that laid the groundwork for black musicianship of the 90s – hip-hop artists. “La Femme Fetal” is Butterfly’s thoughts on abortion, female rights, and America’s treatment of downtrodden people.
This album is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoons, or for an early morning commute to school or work. An essential album for any hip-hop head or vinyl collector who’s interested in rap music and is familiar with A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde or Souls of Mischief. If you love A Tribe Called Quest, this album is similar to their music with a different flavor. Any fan of Jazz, Funk or Soul music will love this style of rap. As Doodlebug said on “Where I’m From”, the music is: “Food for thought, so get a buffet plate/The lyrics are so fat you might gain weight.” ANDRES
RIYL: A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Souls of Mischief, De La Soul
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14