Caleb’s Tracks of the Week: Spragga Benz, Daylight Tone, Cloud Daddy & the Kingston Big Smokes, Pandaraps, Cagework

This is a grab bag of all of my favorite artists from the week. No genres, no themes, nothing. I mean, I guess the theme is that I love these songs.

We try to group artists with similar artists, but the fact of the matter is that most music fans don’t solely like one genre. If you’re like me, there are very few genres that you don’t get into in some capacity. What I’ve found is that a lot of people cross paths with the same people in their musical taste. Seth and I are going to start posting our favorite tracks of the week, and you can start to figure out whose musical taste you like more. Seth and I have a lot of crossover, but one distinct difference right out of the gate is that Seth gets more into the folk scene, and I get way more experimental with what he likes. Some of what he listens to sounds like Elvish chants in the woods to me, and some of what I listen to probably sounds to him like what Michael Caine listened to  in Children of MenYou’ll probably start to notice a trend in these posts at some point. We have a lot of crossover, especially when it comes to hip-hop and emotive indie rock, but there’s a lot of music that Seth and I don’t necessarily agree on. We both know that objectively they’re good tracks, we just don’t subjectively like it as much as some other stuff. Without further ado, here are my favorite tracks of the week.

Spragga Benz – “Spread Out”

I mean the choice here is pretty obvious right? We basically have a short film set to dope music. The vibe created in the video perfectly captures the way the song sounds, from the hookahs, to the sets, to the lighting. I dare you to listen to this song a few times and not start dancing around the 2 minute mark when the break down drops with some crazy synth. I could legitimately see this getting some top 40 style radio play at some point. This fits summer vibes so nicely.

Bio: The début single “Spread Out” is part of a collection of work which sees Spragga bringing a new sound to his repertoire, beginning with a whisper from Spragga informing us that“when di gyal dem hear di voice dem ah jump an Spread Out” – the track premiered in clubs last weekend to critical acclaim.

Spragga has been“chiliagoning”in the UK where he’s assembled a who’s who of British artists to work with on the“Chiliagon”project which diversely features contributions from the likes of Rodney P, Harry Shotta, Doc Brown, Toddla T, Illaman, Killa P and Black Josh along with productions from Zed Bias, Sukh Knight, Cadenza as well as of course Hype and Fever.

Daylight Tone – “Way Up”

Can you tell I’m kind of in a hip hop mood? I definitely listen to way more hip hop in the summer than any other time. A few things stand out to me in this song: 1. The production on this is incredible. 2. The lyrics have a lot of positivity to them. I mean it certainly recognizes struggles as well, but at it’s heart the song seems to be about overcoming adversity, and making your “way up.” I also really like how self aware the song is. There’s a moment where it mentions it’s the “second verse” in a meta way. And it is okay with simultaneously being nerdy, with references to Rick and Morty, and Harry Potter, while also talking about fighting and struggling to make your way through all the noise. It’s really great song full of such a wide range of goodness, that I can’t imagine anyone not finding something they like in it.

When asked about his style he says simply: “this is rapping in reality.”

Cloud Daddy & The Kingston Big Smokes – “Two Things”

Let’s put our trippy shoes on for a second. If you are a fan of Animal Collective mixed with Massive Attack, I have a new band for you. I love how the reverb of the bass synth sometimes feels like it’s “out of time,” but it’s really an intentional echo effect that leaves you feeling disoriented, while smooth vocals crone over the whole track. If you listen to those vocals, you see a pretty straight forward version of what “two things” the speaker says he needs:

“All I want to do in this life,
is suck on a bag (filled with weed).
All I want to do in this life,
is fall in love with you (endlessly).
And suck on a bag

That’s all I need – weed bags, and you.
As long as you’re there, and I’ve got a weed bag in my hand,
everything’s sweet!”

I think we can all get behind that.

Bio: Born in a pizza kitchen somewhere in Sydney, Cloud Daddy and the Kingston Big Smokes is a collaboration between Galen Sultman (Gaelen) and Otto Reitano (CDAD). Their debut release, a double single comprised of “Two Things” and “Elizabeth”, Cloud Daddy & the Kingston Big Smokes presents a novel take on experimental electronic music. Drawing from a variety of influences, the duo’s sound is characterised by a combination of layered acoustic and electronic drums, mantra-esque vocals, techno-inspired synths, and a familiar sense of wonderment.

Pandaraps – “Defibrulators (Dream, Pt.1)”

This song is so interesting to me. I’ve been listening a lot to early Frank Ocean lately, and to me the production on this sounds a lot like that, but then the vocal style reminds me a bit of Hobo Johnson, and some spoken word artists I like too. This song to me is really a song of empowerment. They say they’ve been holding himself back a lot before now, but no more. They also seem conscious of how shallow some “dreams” are.

“You ain’t got to chase your dream

you can chase those pretty things,

but in the end it won’t mean nothing,

but in the end it won’t mean nothing.”

I just love how sincere this track feels from start to finish. We see from the album cover, and in Pandaraps bio when they say: “I’m a queer SF based rapper” that the artist is embracing their difference, in a country that is bipolar about it’s feelings towards anyone who is different. I like how in the first few bars, they have a voice shouting “queer” over the track, which shows how a lot of the world reacts to something they don’t understand, with hate. The track then proceeds to lay out an eloquent message of empowerment, despite all the hate. It’s really inspiring to me.

Cagework – “Simmer”

And last, but certainly not least, Cagework. This is a bit of a changeup from the other tracks, but kind of puts you into my genre tastes, because one minute I’m listening to hip-hop, or trippy indie rock, and then I can switch immediately to grunge or emo (not that mid 2000s emo). This song sounds straight out of the late 90s-early 00s, with bands like Pavement, or Built to Spill. It has just the right amount of grunge sound to it, with distorted guitar and bass, but also the classic Sunny Day Real Estate style riff to it, and just beautifully executed vocals. If you can’t get into full on dance around your house mode at the 2:45 breakdown, I don’t really know if I want to know you.

Bio: Cagework began in Cornwall, in 2016 by frontman Samuel Bedford. Originally a recording project for Bedford whilst he was performing in other groups, Cagework became the main focus for the songwriter when moving to London in 2017. Since then Cagework has come into full fruition as a four piece band, whose blend of melodic indie rock and mournful pop has earned them comparisons to artists such as Built To Spill and Stephen Malkmus. Now joined by James Luxton on drums, James Dyer on bass and Michael Clark accompanying on guitar, the group have proven themselves to be a formidable live act.

The band’s first single ‘Simmer’, released in April 2018, was met with high praise from Huw Stephens, Rough Trade and So Young magazine.

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