The Flock: Hip-Hop and Soul – Hendrix Harris, Deacon, The Hashassins, DNyse, AV, MastaPiece, Nostalgia, Radioplay Reach

Guys, we are so sorry about the hiatus. We’ve been active with the podcast and interviews, but had to pump the breaks on the blog for a few days to handle real life business. We are back on it though, and we figured the best way to get things back in motion is to have an infectious hip-hop flock.

Let’s go.

*Click on the artists name to go to their website*

 

Hendrix Harris – New Chains

From the second the song starts and you hear that slick little riff, you know it’s going to be one smooth ride. What follows is four straight minutes of what’s easily going to be one of the smoothest things you’ve heard this week. Hendrix flawlessly switches between three different voices: his normal register, his falsetto, and his rap voice. I honestly can’t tell you which one I enjoy the most.

Fuck. I usually try not to get meta with my writing and act as polished as possible. I was doing research on Hendrix, and I just got blown away. I knew I had heard the name and been impressed with his stuff before, but I couldn’t place it. The reason I couldn’t place it is because the song we posted of his before and this song are worlds apart. Are you ready for this? He also does this song.

You can find the blog post here.

That’s versatility. To go from a smooth track that lands more in soulful r&b than hip-hop in one song, to head busting chopper rap in another is absolutely absurd.

 

DEACON – Negritude

You guys know we like to dig into lyrics on the blog, but sometimes we shouldn’t be the ones to discuss the lyrics. With this song, you can put a broad brush across the canvas when trying to figure out what the song is about, but the root of the song is better than anything we could ever come up with. We are painting in large strokes while DEACON is as specific as da Vinci.

DEACON says, “Negritude is a word I discovered on my travels whilst in Los Angeles. I stumbled across an establishment called “Psychiatry – An industry of Death Museum”. Whilst exploring their numerous accounts on the history of mental health practices, I found their section on Racism within psychiatry’s earliest stages. “Negritude – a term used by Benjamin Rush (Founding Father of American Psychiatry) defines “blackness” as a skin disease akin to leprosy, thus deeming segregation a “medical necessity”. The song is my way of flipping that idea on its head, and claiming negritude as the “funk” inherent in the soul of the music. If you don’t want to catch the funk, you better turn off that radio…”

As you guys know, I love digging into a song and figuring out what it means to me personally, but when it’s something this heavy, I like to leave it to the artist.

One interesting line is when they’re talking about ring around the roses, an allusion to the children’s song, Ring Around the Rosies. I don’t want to get into the etymology of the lyrics of the song, but a very common thought as to the roots of the song is that it talks about The Great Plague of London. This is a really cool easter egg in a song about black people being a plague. The lyricism throughout this song was on point for me.

 

The Hashassins – C’Mon

William Wallace (best rap name ever) and Sincere make up the hip-hop duo, The Hashassins. Sometimes a flow and beat come across our radar that is so smooth that we have to stop and take notice even if the lyrics typically aren’t our style. First off, don’t get me wrong about the lyrics, they’re clean. We just usually focus on things that are a little left of center, and the lyrics to the song are pretty straightforward. They’re witty, the cadence is nice, and they change up the rhyme scheme, but they’re talking about very similar ideas that a lot of hip-hop focuses on.

The beat and their flow are both so good that they elevate this song to another level, separating it from similarly worded songs. The piano chords at the beginning combined with the turntables let you know you’re about to be in for one hell of a ride. I’m not talking crotch rocket ride, I’m talking slow-rolling Cadillac with the top down, cruising down Main Street.

DNyse – Now Until Forever

Most hip-hop artists think they can sing, but very few can actually make it happen. DNyse has some pipes. He has this crazy mixture of singing and speaking straight to your soul.

A song about chasing your passion and making stuff happen through action and perseverance, Now Until Forever is a song that anyone who is on the cusp of pursuing something great should listen to. It’ll give you that bump you need to get you moving in the right direction.

 

AV – The Rising Son

The chorus you hear throughout this song is something that you’d hear in a movie as the gladiator steps into the arena, and that’s exactly what AV makes me think of with the lyrics to The Rising Son too. A chesty and bold rapper, he has an aggressive cadence, and doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind.

What does it mean to put her before you 
What does it mean to have faith, to be loyal 
What does it mean 
to rise up for your queen 
Rise up for the teens, lying dead in the streets 
Politicians giving in to they greed 
Make a speech for a fee worth retiring 
You think they could afford to be inspiring 
Placing blame on a groups backfiring 
Blame them blame them, they complacent 
No matter where they stationed, our space taken 
Grab em up, line em up, get em out 
You don’t belong here, show your proof if you brown

With a hook that hits hard, strong lyrics, and a tough flow, the Montgomery Sisters really bring it back to a more digestible level with their beautiful harmonies, making this a song that is making its way onto many of my personal playlists.

 

MastaPiece – Endless Night pt. 1

This song is the song that’s perfect for literally any part of a night where you are wanting to party. Pregame? It lets you know the expectation for the night. Heading to the second spot? It implores you to pick a spot you haven’t gone. Get into something new. Everyone on the cusp of calling it a night? This is the perfect rally song. Seriously. This song fits every part of the evening.

A three piece collective out of Houston, Texas, MastaPiece is turning heads in a major way. Not only are these guys hip-hop artists, but they are notable artists in everything from acting to design. These jacks-of-all-trades have a great future in art ahead of them, they just get the luxury of picking which art(s).

Nostalgia – Alone

Soulful crooning isn’t usually what we share on the blog, but there’s no way we were going to pass over this one. This Australian vocalist is essentially The Weeknd of the Eastern Hemisphere. With a similar sound to some of the most popular artists of today and a music video that had me wondering what was going to happen next from the very beginning, this is the song that would be playing in an adult version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Stick around to the end for a Shyamalan-esque twist.

Radioplay Reach – Big Money

Radioplay Reach hits us with the song, Big Money, a hard flowing song that was written behind bars in memoriam of a friend who lost his life. The words drip with emotion as he laments the loss of a friend while realizing that this loss only fuels his drive to be successful.

With a heady beat and honest lyrics, Radioplay Reach has a familiar hook in a totally new package.

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Video of the Day: Sea High – “Luv.”

I love the visual style of this video. Parts of it remind me of those old flash videos on NewGrounds.com and part of it is a genius multimedia project that combines pictures, live drawn art, and movement. It’s really beautiful. The other really essential element to this song is the lyrics. Let’s dive into what makes them so effective:

“And I’m ever grown in a wood of gold
And I can’t be told when to call or fold
And I’m always talking and I can’t shut up
And I’m awful flawed but I’ve mastered stuff
And I think you’re cool.. you’re.. you’re.. you’re really nice like”

The whole song mixes a sense of poetry (as you can see in the repetition and anaphora) and conversational tone ( as you can see with the seeming stutter). This gives the song an understandable but simultaneously complex and abstract vibe. The whole first half of the song seems to be a listing off of shortcomings or anxieties, while the last half is a thank you letter:

“And it’s you that was constant you killed my concerns
It was you that was constant you killed my concerns
You should know you resurrected my trust
It was you that was constant this love is a must
(Spoken)
And if you were my only fan I’d never stop making music,
And you’re the only one pulling me through this
And I really should be saying this out loud but I can’t and
For now I’m just a ghost I’m just a phantom … ”

This whole section seems like it’s leading into a love note, but then we get the subversion of that at the end, and we see that he hasn’t said this to this person at all. He’s just a “ghost” or a “phantom”. I also really like that we get that classic movie moment in the video, when it ends with a girl picking up the phone trying to connect, but he’s already gone. It’s a very relatable theme of Unrequited Love (which we did a podcast episode on).

 

Bio: Sea High is a multi instrumentalist rapper and singer-songwriter from Ireland, using homegrown beats made by himself and O’B1 from Off Key Collective, a grassroots label that they co-founded

Sea High takes hip hop and uses it to convey abstract, conceptual themes of love, hate and everything inbetween.

LUV. Is an unsent message to a special someone that takes your breath, words and worries away.

 

-Caleb

Want to hear more music? We’ve added this song and more to our August TOTD Spotify Playlist. 

TOTD: Caicos – “Promised Lands”

“Sands fallen through hands
Make new promised lands”

This song from Caicos is a really interesting look at opportunities and change. The image of sand shifting through fingers, like if you picked up a handful at the beach, is a nice metaphor for many aspects of life. I can’t say I necessarily have the right interpretation, but here at B-Side Guys, we like to give you our take, with the thought that art has two important pieces, the artist and the observer. So, the line that is repeated above to me is talking about the things that slip away from you, and that you think at the time is a tragedy. Maybe a relationship doesn’t work out, maybe you lose your job, etc. Given enough time, those opportunities missed, can make “new promised lands” that take your life in directions that you couldn’t imagine back when you were trying to hold onto a handful of sand.

“Arms and ears
Mouth in gears
Rewired and sore
But well enough to get
One foot out the door
Prepared for what had met
Me at the threshold
Between the new and old”

I think this section really emphasizes what I said above, when he describes “the threshold between the new and old.” Even though you’ve grown comfortable with the way things are, nothing lasts forever, and to continue, you’re going to have to adjust, and maybe even go through some growing pains :”rewired and sore, but well enough to get one foot out  the door.” As someone who has had several major life changes that on the surface sounded like a negative, but ultimately turned into a positive, I really love the message of this song and the stoic philosophy it relates.

Bio:  Alex Frenkel was one of the principle songwriters in the New York-based band Gospels ( http://www.nylon.com/articles/song-premiere-gospels-sleepwalkers https://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/discovery-gospels ) and is a collaborator with Gabriel Garzon-Montano (appearing on a couple of tracks on his recent LP out on Stones Throw Records).

He is in the process of completing three of his own records to be released under the pseudonym Caicos. The first of these records is called Promised Lands, and is out on veryjazzed records/Frenchkiss Label Group on August 10th. The title track from the forthcoming album is the second single.

-Caleb

Want to hear more music? Check out our August TOTD Spotify Playlist.

Don’t forget to check out our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, etc. Here’s our newest episode: Episode 17: Idols

 

TOTD: Emily Brown – Beautiful Baby

If you’ve listened to the podcast/followed along with the blog for at least a couple of weeks, you know how much we love this song. We’ve had a live interview with her, her music was on episode 17 of the podcast, and now I want to do a proper review of it. Caleb and I are both better at writing our feelings than articulating them in conversation, so to give this song the credit it is due, we had to bring it up one more time.

This is one of the most interesting tracks I’ve heard in a long time. The lyrics are both empowering and poignant, giving power to women everywhere while evoking a sense of regret and introspection from the men in the audience. Before we go any further, I want to make sure you’re tracking what the lyrics mean.

“Beautiful Baby responds to an old love song by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer called ‘You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby.’ It speaks to the heartbreak and disillusionment of women who have been infantilized or treated with lightness in highly emotional relationships.”

As a woman, (which I’m not, and luckily we had an interview with her that kept us from mansplaining too much, that is going to be posted as a bonus podcast episode this weekend) this is the kind of song that gives you support and aids you if you’re in a relationship where it feels like you’re treated as more of an accessory or lesser-than. As a man, it makes me think about past interactions and relationships, and makes me a little sad. I was a different guy than I am now, especially in high school. I can’t recall a time where I knowingly treated a relationship or emotions lightly due to the fact that the other party was female, but I definitely can’t rule it out.

It is easy enough to have an unhealthy power dynamic in a relationship, but when that power dynamic stems from a sexist ideal that women are cute little butterflies that don’t have real thoughts, goals, dreams, beyond however they relate to yourself, that’s more a reflection on your worldview than on the relationship you are in right now.

-Seth (with a small assist from Caleb, whatever part you didn’t like, it was Caleb)

You can find this song and more on our August TOTD Spotify playlist.

We also premiered this song for the first time on our newest podcast episode.

New Release Friday: Luke Sullivan Jones, Curly Chuck and TyC, Caolifhionn Rose, Shoot The Duke

These are our favorite new songs of the past couple days. Every song has been released within the last 48 hours, so you can tell your friends about not only new artists, but their new songs that they’ve never heard.

ARTISTS LOOK HERE: Caleb and I have started a Facebook group that we want to turn into a place for artists from around the country to find likeminded bands to fill shows out, find shows, and really just a community made by artists to talk about the industry. If you’re interested in joining that, CLICK HERE.

Luke Sullivan Jones – “A Fire from the Dark”

“You don’t feel like yourself
You’re swallowed by the pain
Buried deep inside
Some things have to change

You can spark the flame
You can start again
A fire from the dark”

This song is so empathetic and hopeful! It does a great job of describing how hopeless and lonely life sometimes can be, but it encourages you to start the flame again in the dark. From a musical perspective, I really can’t get enough of the strings in the background of this song, and the interesting vocal style of Luke Sullivan Jones. This is a song that I can see myself listening to a ton this winter when I haven’t seen the sun in weeks, and I’m starting to get down.

“So tear it all apart
You’ll find your way through
Don’t wait for the world
To come and rescue you”

Bio: Luke Sullivan Jones is an independent Folk-indie artist from the UK. After the successful release of his EP ‘Through the Satellites’ two years ago, he has further developed his sound to find a unique voice in a ever evolving, yet crowded, genre.

Curly Chuck and TyC – “Get It”

How many of you checked to see if your phone was ringing when the song first started? I did too, and I’ve heard it like 10 times now. I also love how it sort sounds like parts of the beat throughout. The reason it “sort of” sounds like that is that TyC sampled all of the original Mac OS sounds, including the horns which came from the Mac “delete” song.  I also had to share this song because of how incredible his change ups in flow are throughout the song. Keep a look out for their debut EP, “Get It” is the first track, that’s going to be coming out later this summer. You better be sure to….get it.

Bio: Cleveland native, Curly Chuck has been quickly making waves on the underground scene for good reason. XXL recently said “he has the sound that can make his career go from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye.” He’s had a very busy last few months finishing up two EP’s, and spent the last week with Currency, so we can definitely expect some big things from him soon!

TyC, also from Cleveland, left Berklee School Of Music to tour with the band Carousel. A writer first, he picked up production on the road and has been honing in ever since. His single “BW/U” already has over 115,000 plays on Spotify and his last video featuring Curly Chuck, “GET DOWN” has over 35,000 views on Youtube!

Caoilfhionn Rose – Awaken

I would watch this video with no music for how beautiful the landscapes and scenes are. Luckily, we get to pair it with some beautiful music that actually sounds like it’s being sung from one of those echoey mountain tops. It seems the main message of this song, is to go outside and see the world. It’s the cure to most of what ails you. As someone who went on a 40 day road trip last summer, I have to agree with the assessment. Everyone should do their best to find a way to travel, especially in the spectacle of nature. It’s possible to do on a budget, google it. If you were like me, and didn’t know what Caoilfhionn meant, it’s a name that is described as: Derived from the Gaelic elements caol “slender” and fionn “fair”. This was the name of several Irish saints.

“So go outside
Pick the flowers in the park
Feel the sunshine
So go outside
Awaken to the world you can hear all new sounds

Don’t get left behind
Pulled down by the roots of your mind
See the new dawn on the horizon
See the colours of life again

Awaken to the world you can hear all new sounds”

If I was standing in the middle of any of the landscapes that are shown in this video, I think I’d have to be singing “go outside” at the top of my lungs too.

Bio: Caoilfhionn (pronounced Keelin) Rose will release her debut album with Gondwana Records in Autumn 2018 and ‘Awaken’ is the title track. The song is about noticing nature and everything around you, about taking a step back from your problems and going for a walk outside.

Shoot The Duke – Cash

Ah man this song is so incredible. This is a perfect example of how to properly emphasize raw vocals. They aren’t out of tune, they just peak into an emotive state that can’t be replicated by overly polished ones. This reminds me a lot of a mix between Shakey Graves and Kaleo. The song itself is about just what the name suggests, money:

So give me some money, oh let me have some cash. I promise I’ll give it back. One day at a time. ×2

I get up at the brink of the day. I apply for jobs but they all just send me away. Sorry son but you need more experience. How can I get some experience? I didn’t know I needed any to work in Morrison’s. Come on now, make my day.”

I guess more accurately the song is about the frustration between making and keeping money, especially if you are an artist:

I go outside to play some guitar, policeman comes to tell me no you can’t do that. He gives me a fine so I sold my guitar away.

I lay down to get some sleep. Policeman comes again, he’s bothering me. Get off the floor boy, you ain’t worth a dime.”

I think on an individual level, the story is really nice and relatable, but I also think it’s an appropriate metaphor for how a lot of modern society treats artists, or anyone who doesn’t want to be an entrepreneur or work in a cubicle. There is an emphasis on “contributing” to society, without an acknowledgement that art and philosophy are equally important pursuits for humanity. Ultimately, the song ends with a haunting image of a frustrated man robbing a store for money. After being told the things he is good at/passionate about are worthless in a monetary sense, he is left with very little choices for how to proceed in a society that doesn’t seem to value him at all. It’s a really interesting look at the fringes of modern capitalism, and who gets left behind, and why.

-Caleb

Looking for more music? Don’t forget to check out: Our Newest Podcast Episode

You can also find all these songs and more on our August TOTD Spotify Playlist.