The Flock: Hip-Hop and Soul – D. Hart, Noah Slee, Tim Harrison, HighKarateJu, The Sir Duke, KB Devaughn, Daygo Fatts, Rafa Selase, Audrey, DemarcoTheMan, Godz Chyld X Jordan River Banks, Psychodelicate

*Check out these artists and every other artist we’ve featured on the blog this month on our Spotify playlist for this month.*

This is a HUGE edition of The Flock. People who love hip-hop and soul are going to find so much good content in this post. What is The Flock, you ask? The Flock is an idea that we had to help fans of a specific genre find multiple bands they love in one post. It helps us provide value to you, the reader, by putting more of what you want in one place. It also helps the artists. Fans of their music come to the page and become fans of other similar artists, growing their fan base more efficiently. It also helps artists connect with other artists who have a similar feel, so they can help each other out, work together, play shows, etc. Our goal here is to help promote artists that we believe in and want to see succeed. The Flock is a great way to help with that, and we’ve seen some really cool things happen because of it. Let’s get into this edition of The Flock.

*click on the artist’s name to go to their page*

 

D. Hart – Get To Know

It took me way too long to place where I knew that background female vocalist from. Not the feature soulful female vocalist, but that delicate, chopped up, “I would like to,” in the back. I was never a Brandy fan, but my sister was. That’s from her track “I Wanna Know.” If someone is using Brandy samples, it’s someone I want to find out more about. It’s not exactly common to use something from her in your new track, but then again, this isn’t a common song. D. Hart’s style is reminiscent of old Jay, and the soulful voice of Empara is a weird and beautiful mix of Noname and Blige.

I love honest rap. Don’t talk about your fast cars and faster spending habits if you’re shooting a music video leaned up against your ’99 Impala. I mean, dream, go big, do all of that, but it seems so phony when you rap about something you know nothing about. D. Hart feels the same way based on the lyrics of Get To Know. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, so let me rephrase that; that’s how I feel, and I respect the lyricism of D. Hart because he’s an honest guy.

I’m an introspective 
ass and 
blast from the past 
cash makes me mad because i don’t have, cant cope with it 
my bank account has been fasting since i opened it 
I go on some loco shit 

He doesn’t try to pretend he’s got a bunch of money in the bank. He wants you to know that he’s grinding, and he’s hustling to feed his bank account. The guy also has some really witty lines, throwing in allusions to politics while (possibly?) taking a jab at the current regime. If you have read or followed along for anytime at all, you know that’s the way to our heart. D. Hart is taking hip-hop back to an era where people wrote truth and did it with scratchy beats, varying cadences, and not novelty tricks.

so I build wall a up and get caught up 
in trumping those who might love me 
yeah i know its kinda ugly 

 

Noah Slee – Stayed

I wasn’t familiar with Noah before hearing this song, and judging from the millions of plays he has on Spotify, I’m in the minority here. Better late than never when it comes to a party like this though. Noah has one of the most interesting and beautiful voices that I can recall hearing in my lifetime. He has a vulnerable falsetto that resonates from life experiences he is carrying with him. I know this may be a bit of reading, but I think that the idea for the video and the idea behind the album are both things that need to be shared.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT:

Stayed’ is a solo, hallucinatory comedown set in Berlin. The music video aims to invoke that particular sense of isolation and loneliness one can feel, even when surrounded by other people. We also wanted to explore the late night/early morning end-of-the-party atmosphere, when things get a little strange. There’s a decelerated, surreal feeling that occurs when you’ve had no sleep and are in the grey area between two different mental states.

I played around with visual juxtaposition to add a subtle psychedelic element to the imagery. Berlin can be very bleak in the Winter, which is when the video was shot, and we didn’t want to let that control the tone of the video. We used tropical plants, human movement/dance and as much colour as possible to create contrast in dark, icy settings.

The project itself was a challenge. The outdoor scenes were shot guerilla-style, in temperatures sometimes as low as -20˚C. We were often working without a crew or a confirmed location. Noah and I spent many nights alone in the freezing cold grabbing whatever shots we could. Other times, our talented friends assisted…making things feel a lot more cosy. 

This collaboration was an experiment for both of us. I’ve always appreciated music videos that can build a new layer on a song without manipulating the song’s original theme. We attempted to create something that highlighted the introverted nature of the song, whilst leaving the lyrics etc open to interpretation. – cobraswan.com 

ALBUM BIO:

Focusing on many life-changing moments, the album put Slee on the world stage while remaining painfully authentic, as Noah comes out as gay, explores the Berlin nightlife, ponders on religion, pays homage to his Tongan roots, and grapples with his artistry across the incredible 17-track body of work.

 

Tim Harrison – Love is a Drug

If you have been following the blog for any amount of time, you know there’s one thing that immediately receives my immediate disapproval when it comes to hip-hop music: aggressive autotune. Sometimes something is so good you have to make an exception to the rule. Tim Harrison, or Analogy, has made a track that has made me open my mind a little bit. This song is so smooth that I can’t look it over. The main thing that pulled me back in is Analogy’s hard-hitting verse at the end, making me pause and reassess the whole track. It causes this beautiful cohesion between Bamm Bamm and Analogy that makes me groove through the autotune instead of grit my teeth. That’s an insanely hard feat to accomplish, and it’s a testament to how good this song really is.

 

HighKarateJu – Hey Dreamer

With a wordy flow and a clear message, HighKarateJu fits almost as much into each line as he does into his name. The content of this song is on point, too. We make it a point to regularly talk about how you need to pursue your passion, live in the clouds, and do whatever it takes to make your dreams happen. While that all is true, this brings up a piece that is often overlooked.  The song tells you that you need to dream, but you also have to put in work too. Dreams without work are going to be dreams forever. You have to hustle and grind if you want to get to the point where dreams become reality. Caleb and I have dreams about our place in the music industry, and they are nothing without us grinding every single day. A really nice track from HighKarateJu to remind us that work ethic beats out an idea 9 out of 10 times. When you have the work ethic and the idea, that’s when you’re a one in a million product.

The Sir Duke – Eradicated and Rise Up

I’m really liking the direction of The Flock so far today. The Sir Duke and D. Hart need to get to know each other. The Sir Duke’s gut-punch lyricism and old school flow matches up really well with D. Hart. Seriously, in my mind, these guys together could sell out arenas full of people longing for the hip-hop of days gone by. We want rappers who have something to say, and The Sir Duke knows exactly what we want.

Guys, I usually break the lyrics down separately, but these two songs are essentially one long song with one of the smoothest transitions. Seriously, I found Eradicated a while ago, and didn’t even realize that it was a new song when it transitioned to Rise Up after the gunshot. I thought it was a hard break and then the telling of the other half of the story when a race has been pushed to the brink of what they’re willing to take. I’m so interested in The Sir Duke as a human being and an artist. The guy is writing songs that could be anthems for black culture. I mean, we’re very careful not to say things that may be misconstrued since we are two white guys, but these two songs are extremely powerful and empowering.

Side note: Rise Up isn’t about any kind of physical takeover or anything like that. It’s more about the fact that a culture with such strong diversity can’t be held down by narrow-minded ideas, and something is going to change. He’s not trying to start a riot. Calm down, Trumpers.

KB Devaughn – For Me

You know how I was talking about loving honest lyricism? Fuck. This song is nasty. KB Devaughn writes one of the best examples of honesty in music that I’ve seen in a long time. For Me is a song that KB wrote while he and his girlfriend were homeless. The song essentially wrote itself one night as KB watched his girlfriend sleep in the car. He writes about the pressure of the situation, the pressure of their relationship, and then made sure she knew that everything is going to work out for them. Maybe it was more a song to himself to let him know that he would work it out. Either way, I can’t stop listening to this track. As someone who lived out of his car for a while, this song hits hard.

Daygo Fatts – Ride Away

If there’s one word to use to describe Daygo Fatts’ flow, it’s “smooth.” This is exactly what we look for in rap even without the lyrics. The guy has the perfect combination of keeping it straightforward while also mixing up his cadence and rhyme scheme. We listen to so much rap every single day from people who want us to check out their stuff, and I’ve had this idea where I want to compile a list of artists that fit what we do. For example, if the beat is too repetitive or boring, send them a link to an artist that we love the beats of. If they’re going for MC lyricism but the lyrics are fairly generic, send them a link to someone who says a lot through their music in that UK b-boy fashion. If they want to create the new school smooth, but their rhyme scheme and cadence are lazy, I’m going to show them Daygo. It’s really hard for artists to send us something that stands out from everything strictly because we get so much music, but when I listened to Daygo for the first time, I literally stopped everything I was doing, and listened to it three times in a row with my eyes closed, lip curled up the entire time. The dude is good.

Rafa Selase – The Revolution Will Be On Facebook and Chasing Demons

Rafa definitely has something to say, and we love it. There’s something very cathartic about listening to him talk about Gil Scott Heron, government corruption, and the pursuit of money hurting the pursuit of man. I usually don’t post the full lyrics to songs, but these have to be shared. Caleb and I talk regularly about the need to have uncomfortable conversations with people who understand something more than you do, and this is the perfect case of that. We’ve reached out to Rafa about doing a live interview, but understand that he is insanely busy. I just feel like not getting his side of the story would be a complete disservice to his music.

As Gil Scott Heron said 
The Revolution will not be televised 

The evolution is a revolution 
The world is changing 
We no longer praying 

We idolizing 
Selfie posterizing 
Troll seeking sodomizing 
Avatar making 
Tumblr rolling 
Instagram snapping 
We some self idolizing zombies 
You playing 
But Google is playing you 
NSA watching 
FBI profilin’ 
CIA strategizing 
Civil Liberty snatching 
But you still playing 
Gil Scott Heron told you 
The Revolution will not be televised 

Beautiful Jill Scott said 
Why you spend yo time hating 
Trolling? 
Instigating? 
Manipulating? 
Why you playing 
The Revolution will be on Facebook 

Facebook will watch you 
like you 
but not love you 
nor believing or 
supporting you 
won’t pay you 
or even hug you 
you staring face to face 
as the Revolution 
takes place 
friending 
commenting 
on nothing 
ignoring and snoring 
as the Revolution takes place 
The Revolution will be on Facebook

Dead presidents 
Dead presidents don’t matter 
When you’re dead 
Dead presidents don’t matter 
When you’re dead 
Most high forgive me 
Lord forgive me 
For chasing dead presidents Dead presidents don’t matter 
When you’re dead 

Lord I know you said 
Seek me and all these things 
Shall be granted 

He didn’t understand what that meant 
He was chasing 
Social validation 
Dangerous spiritual experimentation 
Sexual exploitation 
Trying to escape toxic romantic relations 
Maintaining false expectations 
He was chasing demons 
Demons wasn’t even messing with him 
He was chasing demons 
They say demons are scared of the righteous 
It’s only when we seek the fleshly desires 
That demons have power 

He was a corporate assassin 
Paper chasing 
Ken and Barbie lifestyle 
Lord forgive him 
False reality 
Creating the illusion 
Of perfection 
For who … like a peacock 
Colorful and showboating 
Peacocks look good 
Walk better 
But can’t fly 
Creating a false reality 
Which causes unrealistic expectations 
And Perceptions 
All while trying to maintain control 

Never realizing 
the more you pursue 
This false reality 
The less control you have 

Dead presidents don’t matter 
When you dead 

Lord forgive me 
The he realized forgiveness is a gift 
Unforgiveness is a burden 
He chose to be forgiven 
Blessed are they which do hunger 
And thirst after righteousness 
For they shall be filled 
He prays “lord forgive me, with my whole heart have I sought thee: 
O let me not wander from thy commandments 

Dead presidents don’t matter 
When you dead 

Audrey – Party

This is a “turn out the lights and sink into the sofa” groove, but don’t sink too far, or you’ll find the bodies.

smile like you’re the joker then you hide your bodies in the sofa 
count cards playin poker 
whatever you like 
bacardi with the soda and your gold teeth and your coca 
hot tub and pagoda 
whatever you like

Audrey started out singing the National Anthem at sporting events, but soon realized that there’s absolutely no fun in that (I would assume. I don’t actually no her reasoning.) and soon started making her own music. I love the National Anthem as much as the next guy, but thank god she stopped doing that and gave us groove tunes like this instead.

DemarcoTheMan – Bike Ride

Bike Ride is an interesting track. It’s a single from his upcoming release, Bland Boy, and on it’s own, its a wordy flow that doesn’t break any kind of walls for me lyrically… at first. His cadence and rhyme scheme are something fresh, and they kept me into the song long enough to figure out what the lyrics were about. On their own though, they didn’t exactly line up with what we usually share on the blog.

Spinning revolving
I keep the barrel tucked.
Auto tune and money
you niggas basic as blondie bitches wearing birks.
Lil B the B for bitch i lift the curse.
Know i’m too diverse for you to get a verse.
Cut the verdict my vertic circuit can jump a bus
and probably lift a hearse.
Who said i couldn’t actually spit.
Suck on my dick.
Until the sack is salty like a bowl full of grits. 

This is why it’s important to read into the songs you listen to. On the surface, this seems like another hip-hop track trope where you want people to know you’re better than the guy beside you. What’s actually happening on the album though is that Demarco is battling with the guy beside him. The album is told from two different perspectives within Demarco’s mind. One side is the side of everyday problems and the dark side of Demarco, and the other side is his confidence and his ego. This song is from the perspective of the latter. This is supposed to be a song about being better than the guy next to you, but that’s not what the album is about. He already had the flow, the beat, and the style, my only hesitation was the lyrics. Then you tell me it’s a really smart concept album that talks about the inner-struggle of man and tells stories from different parts of the same brain? I’m sold.

Godz Chyld X Jordan River Banks – Heavens Pt. II (Look Around)

You know how I mentioned us being fans of lyrically savvy MC’s with something real to say? Enter Godz Chyld. With a song that talks about heaven being a state of mind vs being an actual place, Godz Chyld hits with a wordy flow, big concepts, and a really smooth beat that knows it’s place in the background. So many artists try to hide generic lyrics behind a slick beat; Godz Chyld has both. This is definitely a midnight cruising song. Roll the windows down, and let the song take you to whatever state of mind leads to your heaven.

Psychodelicate – Wine

These guys have one of the most interesting tracks on this list. First off, this is their debut. They already have a great chemistry, and are coming up with something really cool. Secondly, they do everything themselves. Writing, beat production, recording, everything.

One thing that can get lost in the flow when new artists start collaborating together is the fact that they sound fairly similar. All three of these guys have very distinct voices, and it makes the track something that works really well. These guys are definitely someone you need to be watching for now, so you can be that guy who knew about them from the beginning.

Side note: The dude with the growly voice had me making a stink face every single time he started on the track. The dude is sick.


As always, check out all of these guys through the links above. Follow them, buy their stuff, see their tour dates, etc.

We also have a Spotify playlist you can check out to see all the artists we’ve featured this month.

Want to add a podcast to your list? Check out ours. 

The Flock: Indie/Alternative Rock: The Dawn Brothers, Nick Di Gregorio, Real Ponchos, Weaver, Magic Bronson, Stranger Sounding, Beachdust

*Check out these artists and every other artist we’ve featured on the blog this month on our Spotify playlist for this month.*

The Flock is an idea that we had to help fans of a specific genre find multiple bands they love in one post. It helps us provide value to you, the reader, by putting more of what you want in one place. It also helps the artists. Fans of their music come to the page and become fans of other similar artists, growing their fanbase more efficiently. It also helps artists connect with other artists who have a similar feel, so they can help each other out, work together, play shows, etc. Our goal here is to help promote artists that we believe in and want to see succeed. The Flock is a great way to help with that, and we’ve seen some really cool things happen because of it. Let’s get into this edition of The Flock.

*click on the artist’s name to go to their page*

The Dawn Brothers – “Sweet Love”

Mm. This song is so smooth, from the walking bass line, to the chunky guitar, to the excellent vocals. This song sounds straight out of the 70s to me, in the best way. It has done an effective job of creating that vibe, and keeping the lyrics simple and relatable:

“Give me your sweet love, honey
I’ll give it right back to you
Give me your sweet love, honey
You know I love you, do you? ”

This song is a perfect summer song for me. It creates a sense of nostalgia like The Sandlot or something. Let me share one more lyrical section, which is my favorite moment:

“Baby won’t you lay your head
Let me take you home to bed
Good night
Twelve feet tall the trees they cast their
Dark and mighty shadows wide, what a sight

I’ve been round your neighbourhood
Sitting on the benches in the park
You knew that I’d be back again
When the evening sky grew dark”

It just reminds me so much of my late teens/early twenties. Young enough to make some fun mistakes, and old enough to have the freedom to do so. Keep a look out for their full album coming out later this year, if this song is any indication, it’s going to be very good.

Nick Di Gregorio – “Misery Has Everything”

This song has a classic message, with a beautiful Sufjan Stevens style package. It seems to be somewhat based on this quote: ““An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport”– Enrique Peñalosa”

“Shelved and branded living on display
Mentally I’m overdrawn buying things I can’t afford,
All our lives appear so ornate,
Could you believe that misery has come from having everything,
Misery has everything.”

We quickly see that the title has to do with middle-class malaise. Or First World malaise. Or whatever you want to call it. It has some to do with a personal level of misery, but the song seems to suggest that a lot of the misery in the world is created by people’s desire to “have everything.” We get an indicator in the chorus when he finishes with: “Could you believe society would fix itself eventually if rich old men began to take the bus.” I absolutely love that image. I think that would be a great way for rich old men to see how the rest of us live, and rub shoulders with the people they often demonize. It makes sense to me, that less misery would stem from that. Nick Di Gregorio for President.

Real Ponchos – “Stranger Days”

What an interesting video. It makes me feel nostalgic for a party in Canada that I’ve never been to. It honestly feels like they just had a party, and a guy walked around panning out on different parts of it. It’s a really nice art piece. Some things that stood out to me: the phone getting blown up with text messages on the counter, the fog machine that wasn’t putting out much fog, the long shot of the girl smoking. There was plenty more, but it’s just a lot of isolated images that really feel authentic. I also found it interesting that in the last minute or so of the video, instead of the camera panning out, it starts to pan in. I don’t know if that’s somehow a signal for the way a party can turn from shallow to authentic as the night wears on, or something else entirely, but I really dig leaving that as an easter egg to try to make meaning of.

Aside from the really cool video, the sound of this band is amazing. The vocals in particularly stand out as something entirely unique, but beautifully haunting. I also really like that the band describes themselves as “psychedelic-country-soul” because I don’t think I’ve ever described a band that way, and yet, it’s a perfect way to describe this group. I can’t wait to see what else they come up with, as this is just single from an upcoming project.

Weaver – “Whatever Seems Less Wrong”

I found the 80s hiding in 2018. From everything to the bright album cover, to the walking bass, to the droning synth. I’m also OBSESSED, with the idea of “whatever seems less wrong.” It’s such a 2018 sentiment. These past few years have been so chaotic on a global scale. It has caused people to question if we slipped into the “darkest timeline” from Community. And in these times, with seemingly no set truth or direction, the best we can do, is “take on, whatever seems less wrong, living in a dying time.”

Moment to look for: 3:30 or so with an excellent musical interlude following by an interesting bridge.

Bio: “Weaver is following up the sucessfull single “Boxes”, which has been streamed over 100.000 times, with an exploding tune called “Whatever Seems Less Wrong”. This is an upbeat nod to the 80s and the perfect soundtrack to any road trip. “Whatever Seems Less Wrong” is the first single from Weaver this year, and we can expect more music from the hard working Swede in the near future.”

Magic Bronson – “Knock It Off”

This song takes us on a trippy ride through the subconscious. It seems both ridiculous, and has these moments of clarity that make the whole ride worth it.

“Cowboys dressed as cops
Telling me to knock it off
They swing their batons
But can’t we all just get along
Blue eyes and bow tie men
Try to steal my lady friend
I know it’s not real
But for tonight lets just pretend”

These Cowboys, dressed as cops, continue to show up in the song. Telling them to “knock it off.” For some reason, that image is so striking to me. I can’t fully decide what to make of it. It seems like a potential statement on who we give authority and a gun in our society, namely, boys who used to play cowboy, and never grew out of the narrative. Or, I’m reading too deeply into it, and it’s just a fun image. Either way, the song itself is and infectious blend of psychedelia and indie rock. Given that they claim they’ll “never write the same song twice,” I can’t see what else they come up with.

Stranger Sounding – “Anything Is Possible”

I couldn’t help but be struck by a mix between a Fleet Foxes vibe, and a 60s analog sort of soft rock track. The thing that really stand out here are: 1. The beautiful melody and harmonizing. 2. The lyrics. Let’s dive into some of those:

“in my place do I push you away when you’re asking me. Anything where I can’t say. Oh I’ve backed my way into details, no fun. But oh it’s so easy for me to get in my own way but I love you please don’t go, my fragile heart has got your mark to last another lifetime in space! I can’t fall now it’s settled in its place.”

I absolutely love “I’ve backed my way into details, no fun.” This line, like many of the lines in the song, aren’t cut and dry. There’s a lot of ambiguity, and personalization to each of the lines, but it does a really good job of saying it with a confidence that makes it feel like Ghandi said it or something. It seems like everyone should be putting tattoos of these one liners on them, even if we don’t full understand the meaning.

I also am struck by how inspiring the repetition of the last line is: “anything is possible, everything unstoppable”

Bio: “This is the second track from a recent tape called Pastoral Memories 1, released July 7th 2018. Each song is paired with a visual art piece that all combine to form a greater work also called Pastoral Memories 1.”

Beachdust – “Cleft”

Everyone knows that we are lyrics first guys here at B-Side Guys, but sometimes there’s just something that pulls you in solely based on the instrumental track. With Beachdust’s, “Cleft,” that thing is the funky guitar riffs. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics are nice, but man, the guitars throughout this song keep every part of your body bouncing. The lyrics are nothing to brush off either. Beachdust makes it a point to tell you as much of a story as possible with as few words as possible, and that’s something that as a poet, I really got into. It’s definitely something I can appreciate as well.

I can’t tell 
Heaven from hell 
It seems these days 
It all feels the same 

They’ll never know 
That pain I hold 
Things I’ll never say 
The past I hide away

I kind of referenced it with an earlier song, but this is the sort of music we need in these turbulent times. It doesn’t try to ignore how confusing and absurd the present is, but we all have to keep living, and figuring it out.

-Caleb

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.

Episode 16: Warmth

Links:

Stitcher

Soundcloud

iTunes

TuneIn Radio

Google Play

Show Notes:

Show Notes:

 

Intro: Elk Bird – “Cheaper than Roses”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gXXOBBD4kE
Skysketch – “Fox Wedding” (waiting on plug notes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAavNC71ksw
Plushgun – “Lukewarm”

https://soundcloud.com/plushgun

https://bsideguys.com/2018/06/01/totd-plushgun-lukewarm/
Leah Nobel – “Good Enough/Coffee Sunday NYT”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAUj6uM0xRk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJpsGB62hO4 (Trailer for the album)
Tilde – “Our Day Won’t Come”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB_TRUQqBnM

Yung Heazy – “Cuz You’re My Girl”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPhGrtwxjAI

Smalfeels – “Pillow Fights”

https://smalfeels.bandcamp.com/releases

 

New Release Friday: Jamie Sloan, Tenjin, Couch Jackets, Helenor, Thumpasaurus, Charlie Phllps, Terrell Morris

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.

 

*Click on the artist name to visit their website*

 

Jamie Sloan – New Orleans Queen

This song is so good on so many levels. It’s the first single off his upcoming album No Fairytale Stories and he says this song is about knowing you’re soul mate is out there but having no idea who or where they might be. Hence the line “I hope I’ll find you soon.” The song mostly lays out this ideal person, and a hopefulness that pervades throughout. He saids, “no fairytale stories, we will make our own.” and “are you lonely like I am?” It’s a brutally honest and optimistic song that I think most of us can empathize with, either currently, or at certain times in our lives. I hope that he’s able to “find her soon”, and I’m so glad to have found this track.

Tenjin – Mama Don’t Know

“Got plenty friends no friend zones, I get benefits…Dental

Man I got a flow to spit coast to coast go boating tits

Then I pose up a photo click

And then compose a prose of cold flows that’ll go with this”

The defining characteristic of this song has to be just how smooth the flow is in the verses, and how fun some of the word play is. The hook repeats, “What momma don’t know won’t kill her,” which of course is a classic line that we’ve all heard before. It’s particularly fitting for this song after all the debauchery described in this song. There’s random sex, drinking and partying, drugs, fighting, and many of things I suppose you wouldn’t want your mom to know about. I really can’t get enough of just how tight the flow is on this song.

Couch Jackets – Don’t Think Just Breathe

Time to put your trippy pants on. This song is Car Seats Headrest meets Pink Floyd and the video adds a layer of Children of Men meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you dig it, they are releasing a full LP on July 27 called Go To Bed. The video itself is such an interesting concept, mixing a strange dinner with the band members, and a constantly changing TV that shows news and chaos. It’s a video that could probably get a full thesis written on it: from the random “Emotional dissonance” that shows up mid breakdown, to the hijinks at the dinner table. I’m not entirely sure what to make of all of it, but I really dig it. Also, the music itself is just phenomenal. It ultimately sounds like its 4 songs in one, with all the key shifts and breakdowns that flow seamless throughout the song. The band describes themselves as “a rock band from central Arkansas making wacky noise.” And I really just can’t get enough, and can’t wait to see what other wacky sounds are on the full album next week.

Helenor – Ocean State

As someone who lives in the “Ocean State”  I have a particularly affinity for this song haha. But really what drew me in was the droney sounding synths and dissonance that gets created by them when the first musical interlude comes in. The second thing I really loved was the lyrics, that seem to suggest a love/hate relationship with the place you inhabit.

“Ocean state is
a state of mind
Older neighbor’s
second lease on life
She named her dog
from multi culture night
Sawed my arm while they took
Paris flights”

This song does an excellent job of mixing the surreal and cynical at the same time. The artist mentioned being influenced by Beck, and I can’t think of someone who does the same thing better. It’s a perfect descriptor.

Background: ““Helenor” is the musical moniker for Boston based visual artist David DiAngelis. The premiere LP “something twice” was written and recorded at home in 2017 as a solo project. Drums were provided by Seth Kasper (Mass GothicChristopher OwensHooray for EarthWild LightAir Traffic Controller) who also co-produced the album. “something twice” is scheduled for release Fall 2018 with accompanying live set.”

 

Thumpasaurus – Flamingo Song

Let’s keep it weird up in here. If you can’t figure out how the video relates to the title in the first few minutes, I’ll give you a hint: it’s all the pink. I love how silly the band members dance around, sometimes acting like a boy band, sometimes just freestyling completely. This is juxtaposed with the lead singer having an emotional conversation with a doll where he seems to be having a break up conversation. I never thought it could make me feel emotional, but when you kind of listen to the lyrics and imagine it being said to an actual love interest, it does get a little melancholy. But the best part about the pace of this song and video, is it doesn’t linger in it. It continues to be absurd, and to meander instrumentally with a walking horn, until you can’t really be sad while listening. Also, I have to share their bio, because there is an amazing karate story in it, overall, they are such a fun band that I will be keeping up with all the future hijinks.

Bio:Los Angeles-based Thumpasaurus are a gang of five superbly-skilled young American musicians taking hugely divergent influences and channelling them into something uniquely Thumpasaurian.  

 

Thumpasaurus offer up their own unique punk/funk stew wherein, hidden in plain sight and sound, you’ll find traces of Zappa, Beefheart, James Chance, Funkadelic/Parliament, Morphine, Devo, Talking Heads and Prince, as well as some rocking heavy metal, free jazz, musical theatre and even some light opera references thrown in for good measure.
Lead singer and guitarist Lucas Tamaren’s alter ego, Sensei Boland, recently achieved web notoriety by challenging the world to bring him something he can’t karate chop. A promotional meme for “Mental Karate” resulted in Buzzfeed picking up on the video & the band’s music being shared by the likes of Alt-J, Shakey Graves, and Rob Thomas amongst others. See here: http://whatichopped.com

Charlie Phllps – Memory

Check out this single from Charlie Phllps upcoming album Pendulum which is due out August 10th. If you are in the New York area there will be a release party at Rockwood Music Hall at 11 pm on that day. For tickets visit  http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1719729

“I could swim
been kicking all along
Has there ever been
a change in a person
Same story now
same story now
I’ve got the staying power of a feather
But you don’t remember
you don’t remember

Is there love in the ditch?
I’m waving my fist
Tell me do I exist, now?”

I love the lyrics here. Especially, “I’ve got the staying power of a feather.” There seems to be a emphasis on memories, being remembered, and offsetting those with how temporary and fleeting everything really is. When you first hear the song, you probably don’t notice how existential it really is, because it’s hidden behind an upbeat tone and vocal style. “Tell me do I exist now?” is the first really moment where you may start to be like, oh, this is saying something real. I always love when a song can have your feet tapping and then blindside you with a deeper message.

Terrell Morris – Field Test

And last, but certainly never least. Terrell Morris has done it again. The mixing of jazzy instrumentals, and smooth flow that isn’t afraid to fluctuate tonality and tempo to emphasize the strongest emotional swings in the song, make this one of my favorite up and coming artists. This song seems to be about that change up from a relationship that is somewhat casual to something that is more serious. The “Field Test” is over, and now it’s time to admit true feelings and vulnerability.

Bio: “Hailing from the west-end of Toronto, To date Terrell has released 3 singles from his upcoming colaborative project titled Molasses. Amassing over 4.3 million plays on The Right Song a single from production duo Free n Losh’s 5th & Ghost EP. Terrell decided to team with them again, bringing on Steph Verschuren (Allan Rayman, Keys n Krates) to handle the creative direction Terrell is on the cusp of releasing his project and cementing his place amongst the greats.”

The Flock: Rap/Hip-Hop: The Abnorm, Joe Quinto, Surreal, Tamara Bubble, Shwayze

The Flock is an idea that we had to help fans of a specific genre find multiple bands they love in one post. It helps us provide value to you, the reader, by putting more of what you want in one place. It also helps the artists. Fans of their music come to the page and become fans of other similar artists, growing their fanbase more efficiently. It also helps artists connect with other artists who have a similar feel, so they can help each other out, work together, play shows, etc. Our goal here is to help promote artists that we believe in and want to see succeed. The Flock is a great way to help with that, and we’ve seen some really cool things happen because of it. Let’s get into this edition of The Flock.

*click on the artist’s name to go to their page*

The Abnorm – “Golden Era”

“I used to want to be Nas, now I’m more like Jay,

I used to want to rule the world until I met Ye.

I used to want to kick knowledge,

now I want to get paid.”

I really appreciate where The Abnorm is positioning himself in the world of hip-hop with these lines. Nas, of course is one of the most lyrically talented rappers of all time, but has hit or miss commericial success. Jay-Z is arguably the most financially successful rapper of all time. Ye (Kanye), has had a ton of success, has even at times “ruled the world,” but he also has struggled with the spotlight, and mental health. The Abnorm seems to be trying to find lessons in all of these figures to build his own career. There’s a classic dissonance between creating “high art” and “pop art”. In the past, he seemed to want to focus more on high art/kicking knowledge, but not he just wants to get paid, because that’s how we ultimately survive in America unfortunately.

The other thing I love is just how beautifully this video is shot. The backgrounds are somewhat run down, abandoned buildings, graffiti laden walls and skateparks, but everything looks so vibrant because of the way it is shot. It’s just a really well produced video overall.

Joe Quinto – “Rehab”

I wish I had heard this song before we did our podcast episode on Addiction. Joe Quinto describes this song as:

“The song is “Rehab”, a juxtaposed track that ties a correlation between being in a toxic relationship and the crippling effects of addiction. Often times, these types of records are slow and sad, but this one is different – it’s fun and it’s funky.”

One line really stood out to me: “What’s another drop in the ocean?” That line really strikes home when thinking about addiction, because at some point it can very much become a situation that feels like bailing out a sinking ship with a bucket. At some point, you just give in to the sinking.

Surreal – “Hello”

On today’s edition of perfect artist names: Surreal. After seeing the video, I can’t imagine a better description, both lyrically and with the trippy visuals and instrumentals. Given the fact that the artist behind Surreal, Jeremy Ian Thomas, has directed music videos himself, including for Odisee. It’s easy to see how his experience has lead to this excellent culmination in his own work. It feels like I imagine floating in space might feel like, with lyrics that are both grounded and transcendent. Surreal will be releasing his first full project, “Hello”, in almost a decade, but it’s clear that he’s been growing and learning that entire time. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Tamara Bubble – “Too Busy”

I know she probably gets this comparison a lot, but the verses on this song sounds so much like Nicki Minaj to me. It’s somewhat of a straight forward party song, but sometimes that’s exactly what is needed when things get too heavy. I thought the style here was very unique, and the delivery itself invited itself inclusion in this list. But then you realize it’s not as straightforward as you might think. When you hear “shots” you might think alcohol, but the artist says there’s some intentional misleading here:

“Tamara Bubble penned ‘Too Busy’ because she sick of gun violence and the fact no one considers the girls caught in the crossfire, running around in high heels dodging bullets, titties flying everywhere. Ladies looking crazy in the shoot out footage!! If we’re the reason you came to the club, why are you shooting up the club when you supposed to be having fun!!!!”

She basically describes it as a response to the classic, “Big Poppa” by Notorious BIG, which of course reminds people to focus on having fun and partying, and not “shooting up the place.”

Shwayze – “God Gives”

I haven’t kept up with Shwayze’s career too much since the “Corona and Lime” days, and I have to say, I love the evolution that has happened. He is a self described “Gemini” and of the two releases he’s released recently he says this song is more “Aaron Smith”, while the other single is more “Shwayze”. Aaron Smith of course is his real name. You can certainly feel a sense of vulnerability in this song. “I don’t want to be single, I know the single me, I’m insecure and I think a woman’s all I need, every morning I need a woman next to me, I just wish that you were next to me.”

I’m really excited to see Shwayze’s career continue to evolve.

Bonus Story Time: Back when Shwayze was playing with Sisco Adler (sp?), he played a show at my college (College of Charleston). About half way through the set, the police told them “don’t play anymore songs about marijuana.” How do I know this? Because Shwayze told us the cops said that, the whole crowd booed, Shwayze played a song about marijuana, and smoked a blunt on stage, then promptly walked off. Baller af.

-Caleb

You can find all of these songs and more on our July TOTD Playlist here.

The Flock: New Release Friday: Mike Xavier, Foresteater, Chris Noah, Callum Pitt, Sean Tobin

*This first paragraph is a copy of a previously written synopsis of the point behind the new section, The Flock.*

We have two goals here with our blog and our podcast; we want to help you find a bunch of new artists that you love, and we also want to support those artists. We came up with a new idea for a post where we take a genre, and give you a few artists within that genre. That way, it helps everyone. If you come here because you love one artist, you’ve got five more that you’re probably going to love now. That helps you load up your playlist with tracks that will impress your friends, and it also helps the artists hit untapped markets and possibly network with likeminded artists they didn’t know existed. Without further ado, I present “The Flock.”

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.

Mike Xavier – “Time to Reflect”

I love when a song says something that we’ve heard before, but says it in such a eloquent way that it reaffirms everything you know. At it’s core, this song is about society, racism, and the difficulties we all face, but Mike Xavier is just so eloquent that it illuminates these issues in a way that is impossible to ignore. Other than Mike’s obvious lyrical talent, something you may not notice unless you are paying attention is that he isn’t just rapping over a track. He has a live trumpet, sax, keys, guitar, bass, and drums accompanying his songs. It really gives this song a fuller sound that you can’t accomplish from beats, no matter how good the DJ is. When asked about his inspiration Mike’s message is simple: “We just got to teach our kids they can change the world,” Xavier raps with his calm though upbeat tone. “They used to tell me, ‘Try them drugs.’ I ain’t never try it.” Mike is a shining example of using art to make the world a better place, and I’m happy to share this as our first track of New Release Friday.

Foresteater – “Unbutton”

“Momma’s shopping at the mall
Daddy’s sipping alchohol
Baby’s watching TV shows
Shoving things up in her nose

Why do the opposites look the same?
Our manufactured outfit came
and is it sincerity
or artificial empathy?

Unbutton my head
Get me out of my head
Unbutton my head please
Get me out of my head”

This song is an anthem for middle class malaise. It does the same thing several 90s movies did by taking a closer look at suburbia and showing the horrors beneath the surface. Sure, money makes some things easier, but it also brings a new set of problems. Having grown up squarely in middle class suburbia, I saw many of the things this song mentions, and experienced the surreal plasticity that it tends to create for those who inhabit these spaces but can’t fully enjoy shopping sprees, keeping up with the Joneses, and the skewed relationships created by making money and materialism such an integral part of our happiness.

Chris Noah – “River”

This song reminds me a lot of some of my favorite summertime music. It mixes pop vocals with some really interesting electronic beats to create an experience that surrounds you completely. Let’s dive into some of the lyrics:

“This state that I’m in, I can do nothing about,
Starting to wear me out, do we need disclosure
Your voice has become an eco in my mind
I don’t really recognize and you still have me reeling

Don’t swim so fast, i can’t keep up, don’t let me drown in your river
Don’t waste your love on someone else, while I’m still here in the picture ”

So it’s a very familiar scenario. The speaker is still in love with someone who is falling out of love with him, and he feels himself being left behind. It’s a really tragic position to be in, and the haunting background vocals as the song builds really hammer home the crescendo of pain that can inhabit these moments where you aren’t ready to move on, but you know it’s not your choice anymore. Keep an eye out for Noah’s upcoming 3 song compilation due in September. He has already won “Debut of the Year” last year at the Annual Latvian Music Awards, and I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.

Callum Pitt – “Away From The Rousing Parades”

This song just starts off so calming and soothing. The mix of the intricate picking and the beautiful vocals take you to a sunny day driving with the windows down.

“There’s a warm wind coming, marching along with a big brass band

I’m waving an outstretched aching hand, so slow”

When these lines kick in, the song transforms into an anthem worth screaming at the top of your lungs. The thing I like most about this song though, is despite how upbeat and warm the song sounds; it has some truly existential moments.

“We search fora meaning before disappearing and hope that our memories survive”

Ultimately the song ends in a conclusion that all we can do is try to find someone to share the time we do have with and hope for the best. It’s a grounded but hopeful ending to a very complex poetic song.

Sean Tobin – “This Midnight”

And last, but certainly not least. Enjoy this single off of Sean Tobin’s new release of the same name. Throughout the song, he seems amazed that he is currently where he is in life, considering some of his past and the way he viewed the world. My favorite word play in the whole song is probably:

“Met a girl one February evening, swore to God there was no God at all,

Sunday came, she was praying for God knows what she done,

guess she was just talking to the wall”

The several switch ups and double meanings in that one line are astounding. Ultimately, the song seems to have a similar message to the one before this: life is potentially meaningless, there are no guarantees, life is short, thank god I have you, let’s enjoy the time we have for now and hope it lasts forever. “Baby, we could make this midnight last, come the morning, our stories will be in the past.”

-Caleb

If you enjoyed these songs, we’ve uploaded them all to our July TOTD playlist on Spotify.

If you haven’t followed us on Facebook, check it out. We have two new live streams that we posted today.

The Flock: Hip-Hop/Rap – Jamar Carr, Makk, NGHTMRE & Pell, Geno Five, Obi Khan, Darien Fields, Rodagues, MRGR

The Flock is an idea that we had to help fans of a specific genre find multiple bands they love in one post. It helps us provide value to you, the reader, by putting more of what you want in one place. It also helps the artists. Fans of their music come to the page and become fans of other similar artists, growing their fanbase more efficiently. It also helps artists connect with other artists who have a similar feel, so they can help each other out, work together, play shows, etc. Our goal here is to help promote artists that we believe in and want to see succeed. The Flock is a great way to help with that, and we’ve seen some really cool things happen because of it. Let’s get into this edition of The Flock.

*click on the artist’s name to go to their page*

Jamar Carr – Nothing New

There’s nothing new under the sun, and there’s also nothing new about us falling in love with a Jamar Carr song. If you aren’t familiar yet, or you’re new to the blog/podcast, this man has been featured on the blog more than any other artist. He is a great writer, has a smooth cadence and flow, and is looking to use his platform as a rapper to bring to light topics that bother him. He doesn’t want to talk about the money, the fame, the cars, etc. He’d rather talk about racial inequality, the economic divide, and the struggles of turning nothing into something and breaking out of perpetuating cycles of poverty in areas of the country that the government has forgotten about. We love bangers as much as the next guy here at B-Side Guys, but it’s a lot harder to talk about from a lyrical standpoint. Jamar makes our job so easy by giving us insightful and thoughtful lyrics that tell the story of a man who is out to break the cycle that this country and that his neighborhood are both in.

I’m a product of my borough
Queens get the money
 And us kings keep it thorough
Demeanor often humble
We only use aggression
If our challenge is oppression 
Otherwise we drop gems
And these words be our weapon
I’m filled with ammunition
Some brothers value money
But I’m driven by ambition
You’ll never know I’m hungry
And for that there is a difference

 

Makk – Empty Bottles

Makk is the Lebanese Earl Sweatshirt. He even has a nod to Earl towards the end of the track. Lyrical melancholy hip-hop is something that we here at BSG absolutely love, and Makk is doing it at a level that can compete with anyone. What I believe the key to his sound is, is the fact that he doesn’t view his songs as songs, but as therapy. He has things he wants to say, or at least write, and this is his way of getting it out. When artists view their music this way, the emotion in their songs is palpable. Andy Hull, my favorite artist on this planet, said something to this effect. He said that he writes his songs not to fill an album, but to empty his mind. Every word has a purpose, and every song has a story. That’s not a direct quote, but it was the sentiment behind his words. Makk is an artist who writes in the same vein.

It’s hard writing these sonnets 
And when I read em I vomit 
I gotta act like I’m modest 
But I just find it ironic 
This fucking mess I made 
Leave it for another date 
working on my mental state 
you see it on my fucking face 
I Hope you all got the message 
This a vocal repression 
This a mental suppression 
But is This is not a fucking song it’s my therapy session 

 

NGHTMRE & Pell – Swiss/Lights Low

Who the hell directed this video? Give that person a raise! The trip is strong with this one. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but I’m saying you should definitely enjoy a little bit of extracurricular activities before sitting down to watch this one.

NGHTMRE brings an absolutely slick track that perfectly compliments Pell, creating two fully formed and complete tracks in a 4 minute period. When Caleb told me about the transition at around the 2 minute mark, I kind of laughed and thought that there was no way there would be two fully fleshed out ideas and songs; I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong. I’m wrong. This song(s) is so well rounded, and it is a perfect balance of producer/artist. Pell puts his trademark rapping style on the track, mixing up his cadence, switching between rapping and singing, and letting his unique timbre come through. NGHTMRE may actually be the feature here though. I’m usually a lyrics and vocals guy, but I don’t remember a song that I’ve listened to recently that made me audibly yell, “Yoooooo.” What NGHTMRE put together at around the 1:04 mark is so cool. For that reason, he gets the nod from me, but these guys both worked really well together and we hope to see more collaborations in the future.

Image result for nghtmre and pell

 

Geno Five feat. Stone Soto – Without You

I’m no cardiologist
But you ain’t got the heart for this

That line is so good. We listen to a lot of music here, and that is a line I’ve never heard before. That’s just a quick note I had to get out before I did the review of the song. Let’s move onto the track.

Geno Five has written a track that everyone has been or will be able to relate to at some point in their life. He has had a relationship end with his significant other, and it was not a mutual agreement. The man misses his partner, and to avoid having it trapped in his head, he wrote a song about it. I love how he starts the song off by saying that he may appear fine on the outside, and he may even try to convince himself that he’s fine, but in the end, his feelings still eat him up inside.

Feels is the only thing that keeps it real
Cause you can fake who you are
and what they see,
But you can’t fake what you feel

With a smooth cadence, a timbre that bounces between silky smooth and perfectly rough edges, and a beat that makes your head bounce and your lip curl, Geno Five has a track that is making it onto playlists ranging from hip-hop lists to breakup lists, which is a pretty hard feat to accomplish.

 

Obi Khan feat. Profesa’ Dibbs & Trippy Trip – The Life

This flock is coming together to be one of the most eclectic lists while still remaining in the genre. Obi Khan brings that MC lyrical flow that’s reminiscent of a smoother Eyedea and Abilities. One thing that is wild about these guys is the difference in their voices. You go from a deep gruff voice to smooth rap that teeters on the cusp of singing. Lounge piano and turntables create a beat behind them that has enough variance to keep you engaged, but never detracting from the main event, the MC’s. This is the kind of song that makes me want to start skateboarding again. Then I remember I was terrible at it then, and I’d definitely break something now.

This is that pharaoh music.

 

Darien Fields – Applesauce

 

With an ethereal beat, off-balance flow, and vocal inflection for days, Darien Fields has something real with his track, Applesauce. He has that perfect blend where he talks on the track, but keeps the flow in line so he can hop back on at any point. The lyrics tell a story of possibly being bumped into a friend zone and being secure in that for now so you can maintain the friendship. The relationship ended, but the friendship is still there. It’s a really neat perspective to write a song from, especially in a genre that is dominated by lyrics about chasing girls, not being happy with the “friend” designation, and being god’s gift to women. Darien’s lyrics are more introspective and honest, citing that it is probably his fault that he is where he is, but he’ll work to fix it.

Squadron full of some goons 
So I’m never alone 
But if I’m honest with you 
I’ll be forever alone, yeah 
I’ve been all the way to space and back 
Spit a waitress rap 
While she was out in Norway 
I ran and lost more weight 
And after all that 
She still wouldn’t take me back 
Damn.. 

Well, I probably wouldn’t either 
Kind of a lost cause 
I wish I didn’t need her 
Wish I could stop, pause and rewind time 
I wouldn’t change a thing 
I just miss the ignorance 
Bliss in the make-believe 

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, standing and outdoor

 

Rodagues – Apologize

This beat is insane. The time signature, the beat, and the flow together are unlike anything I’ve heard before, and that is an absolutely beautiful thing. The beat starts off almost tribal, and takes a sharp left as the lyrics kick in with a deep tone and a cadence that constantly changes. I know at the top of the post we talked about how we look for rap songs that don’t follow the stereotypical lyric tropes of hip-hop. This one skirts that line, talking about how he keeps people that try to fuck with him out of his eyesight, but when you hear something great, you have to appreciate it regardless of the rules you typically abide by. This song is meant to break rules of stereotypical hip-hop and plays on a playground that most artists, regardless of genre, dare to touch. I don’t know Rodagues’ background, but I feel like there has to be some music theory somewhere on his resume.

 

MRGR – Human Being

I saved this song for last for a very specific reason; it tells a message that is applicable across the world. I am someone who goes hard towards my goals everyday, much to the dismay of my family and my brain. This song is a great reminder that you have to take time to breathe. Getting to the finish line isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I know… cheese alert – but it’s so true. Working on this blog is a perfect example. If I was better at pacing myself and took my time to create a steady workflow instead of going 110 and burning out, I would have a much better end result. Luckily, when I’m off, Caleb’s on, and when he’s off, I’m on. A lot of people don’t have that kind of support though, whether we’re talking about a job, relationships, passions, or anything else that can suck you in.

This song is therapy. Lyrically, it is a great reminder that we need to take time to not be a robot and actually behave like a human being, and the beat is so smooth and soothing that it has already been added to my “wind down” playlist on Spotify. With well rounded samples and a flow that fits perfectly in his lines, MRGR has created a track that can seriously pull you out of hard times. Most songs are just songs; this song is more than that.


Alright guys, that’s it for this Flock. Check out all of these artists, buy their albums and merch, and keep track of when they’re going to be in your area.

Also, check out our Spotify playlist that features all the artists from the blog this month.

We have a podcast too. Check it out here.

-Seth

 

The Flock: Rap/Hip-Hop – Ikigai, Ricky Mapes, Charles Edison, Rite Hook & Chris Rivers, Joe P. The MC, Capital Ode, Hoolie Gu, Warm Blizzard, Dreemy Sinatra

*This first paragraph is a copy of a previously written synopsis of the point behind the new section, The Flock.*

We have two goals here with our blog and our podcast; we want to help you find a bunch of new artists that you love, and we also want to support those artists. We came up with a new idea for a post where we take a genre, and give you a few artists within that genre. That way, it helps everyone. If you come here because you love one artist, you’ve got five more that you’re probably going to love now. That helps you load up your playlist with tracks that will impress your friends, and it also helps the artists hit untapped markets and possibly network with likeminded artists they didn’t know existed. Without further ado, I present “The Flock.”

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.

Ikigai – Private School

This beat is so slick. Ikigai keeps it fairly minimal and doesn’t make the same mistake that a lot of hip-hop artists make by trying to cram too much into the beat. The key here is what he does with the pieces that he does add. He plays with offbeat tempos, fades, crescendos, and a number of other tricks to make the track seem just as full as something that uses a lot more instrumentation.

Caleb definitely relates to the lyrics a lot more than I do seeing as how he’s a teacher in a private school, but things translate pretty well to us public school peons. Ikigai comes through with his first official release to tell a story about pressure, insecurity, and fears through formative years of his school career, and implores you to stop caring because years down the road, you’ll want nothing to do with that part of your life.

 

Ricky Mapes – IDWDT

IDWDT is a song that very few people can relate to, but everyone pretends they can. Everyone is invincible until they’re not. When the song started out, I thought we were listening to another rap song that talked about what 75% of rap songs talk about: making money. This song is so much more than that. This is a song about having to do unthinkable things to get out of the neighborhood, being okay with the repercussions of the lifestyle, but also the inevitability of being afraid when you’re staring down the barrel that doesn’t give a fuck about you. With a clean beat, straightforward flow, and brutally honest lyrics, this song is a song that few people can actually relate to, but everyone can groove to.

 

Charles Edison – Waking Up

This is the kind of song that comes along and we are kicking ourselves for not having it on the podcast. We already had our lineup for our “Addiction” episode locked up when we came across this song, and it is the epitome of what we were looking for on that episode. Charles Edison opens up about one of the darkest points in his life:

This track is from my EP of the same name and details my struggle with addiction for 5 years which culminated in hospitalization following a suicide attempt, and a decision to go to residential rehab for 3 months. I entered rehab on the 11th September 2016 and have remained clean and sober since. This track represents the state of my life at the worst point of my addiction.

*Congratulations Charles, and great work on taking the necessary steps to keep yourself clean. A lot of people don’t have that same resolve. In fact, I recently had to deal with a very crazy situation that we will talk about on the podcast because a person doesn’t have the same steadfast resilience that you have. Keep it up!*

The backing vocals are haunting and the beat stays clean throughout, but the lyrics are really what pulls this song together. You can feel the struggle, and appreciate what Charles has gone through.

 

Rite Hook & Chris Rivers – The Motions

This is what a fire looks like. A hard beat, quick flow, and insightful lyrics have moved Rite Hook & Chris Rivers’ song, The Motions, up my playlists very quickly. This is the perfect example of what I look for in hip-hop music. I get people emailing me constantly wanting me to check out their song. A lot of them have a good beat and good lyrics but I really don’t like it for one simple (to identify, not to fix) reason. In rap music, I hate being able to not only predict your cadence, but predict your words the first time through the song. These guys give a master lesson on what it means to diversify your rhyme schemes and cadence throughout the song. If you want to see what I mean, start the video at :48 and listen to 1:15 or so, and then jump ahead to 1:46 and listen for thirty seconds or so. Same beat, but it almost sounds like it could be two different songs.

Also, if you feel like you recognize Chris Rivers, the guy in the red, it may be because he is Big Pun’s son.

 

Joe P. the MC – fear

I love when we get previous artists back on the blog. I feel like it’s like revisiting an old friend. Joe P. the MC comes in with a song that is under 2 minutes, but says more than most rappers and MCs say with 5 minutes of bars. We hear you, Joe. Pouring his heart into every song he writes, Joe P. dives into everything from calling out negative rappers who make money by hating on other people to the feeling of fear that independent artists get when trying to push their music, hoping someone believes in what they’re doing. Once again, he runs that spectrum in less than 2 minutes. That’s insane! With clean and articulate delivery, Joe rattles through his lines at an impressive pace, moving forward at a pace that is unexpected from the mellow beat behind him. Once again, Joe P. hits home with us on this one.

 

Capital Ode – Live Illegal

Once again, this track was a pleasant surprise. When I heard that the name of the song is “Live Illegal,” I thought it was going to be another rap song about selling drugs and getting money. I’ve heard so many songs that follow that hip-hop trope, and it’s something that gets a little boring. Lyrically, this song is what this country needs right now. Capital Ode’s family calls him Ode, but after listening to this song, a more appropriate name for him is Cap (like Captain America) because this is about as patriotic as a song can get. If you’ve hung out on the blog or the podcast for any length of time, you know that Caleb and I aren’t exactly fans of the current administration and the tyrannical decisions it’s making. An immigrant to the United States, Cap isn’t a fan of the administration either, and wants you to know exactly how he feels.

And once I get on, I’ma put on all my peoples
I’m the original
My son’s the sequel
My pieces hitting now
In immigration sitting down with my country of origin written down
And it’s funny how when this was what I was worried about
Niggas would run they mouths
But by the time they figure out
The best rapper in the country’s an illegal immigrant
They gon’ try to send me back even if I’m heaven sent
Don’t understand my accent?
Oh, you do
You say you don’t
’cause you don’t like the way these bombs I’m dropping hit close to home, huh?

I love the line about his son being the beneficiary of his hard work, and how this is a similar thought process that most illegal immigrants go through. Sure, there are drugs crossing the borders and shit like that, but 99% of immigrants come to make a better life for themselves and their family members. Working in restaurant management, I see it everyday. We had a dishwasher who was forced to go back to Guatemala even though he was just making an honest living and sending most of his money back home. It’s absolutely devastating to see that kind of thing happen, and it’s unfathomable that we are a country that is allowing what is currently happening at our borders. Cap is making something really cool here by being proud of his status as a refugee instead of trying to hide it, and using his platform to try and enact change.

 

Hoolie Gu – Make It or Take It

The dichotomy presented here between past and present is so interesting. Hoolie Gu shows us in this video the man he is and aims to become, and then shows us who he had to be to get there. Like Ricky Mapes’ song above, the content of this song is something that I can’t personally relate to, but it is an absolutely riveting story.

Hoolie Gu talks about how everything he did was a calculated move to achieve bigger goals, and even though he may (or may not) have been acting on the wrong side of the law, he did what he needed to do to make sure he was taken care of. He doesn’t act proud of the things he did, but recognizes them as factual and necessary events that took place. I like the honesty and how he says that he took a lot of losses throughout the process. I feel like this is such an important piece of becoming a successful artist, and rappers are notorious for trying to cover up their flaws to present a facade of perfection.

With honest lyrics, a well-rounded beat, and a piano that makes you swoon, Hoolie Gu is the kind of guy you want to cheer for.

 

Warm Blizzard – “The Vibe”

If you look in the dictionary under ‘vibe songs,’ you will find Warm Blizzard’s, The Vibe. This is that ethereal smoke music in its purist form. This is a track that wants to take you on a trip, and I’m buying a one way pass. The video is trippy too, with a green blanket providing an interesting and unique set piece throughout the song. This is the kind of video that you watch when someone thinks that things are about to start winding down. Bring them back into it by showing them this, and then watching building demolitions on YouTube. Trust me. This combo works.

 

Dreemy Sinatra – Feel Alright

I was immediately hooked into this song with the Alina Baraz sample of “Make You Feel” at the beginning. Then this song proceeds to run down an epic lyrical path that describes a worldview that’s both cynical and hopeful simultaneously. It mentions police violence, Flint, Michigan, gang violence, and many other things that are strikingly difficult about the challenges facing the speaker, and our world in general. The hope rises from the self-assured bravado that is carrying the protagonist out of all this chaos. There is still an acknowledgement that this chaos could hold him back, but he’s not going to let it.

 

-Caleb and Seth

Did you know we make a podcast? Well now you do. Go check it out here. We have 14 different episodes, all featuring music you’ve never heard.