With each passing week, listening to the deluge of mixtapes, radio shows, and live sets from electronic producers and hip-hop artists alike becomes an even more insurmountable task. Quality offerings can fly under the radar, either added to our ever-growing “to listen” list or — more often than not – disregarded all together.
The first two editions of this new feature leaned heavily on overlooked rap tapes, but this week sees offerings from across the musical spectrum, from The Haxan Cloak to Hit-Boy (and yes, two more releases from the irrepressible Gucci Mane).
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys to turn the pages (page 1/12)
Wrong Choice Mixfile for Versus Tokyo
Fade to Mind’s resident bootleg aficionado presents a free-wheeling mix, in conjunction with an Tokyo Fashion Week. The “mixfile” starts strong (that Nguzunguzu/Samename/Nicole Wray mash) and proceeds to get weirder (a Slipknot-kissed Rihanna bootleg), harder (Diamond and Waka’s ‘Hit Dat Hoe’), and deeper (‘A Message’ from new talent Kelela).
THE HAXAN CLOAK
Open Deck Session
With his second album under The Haxan Cloak moniker due out via Tri Angle next month, Bobby Krlic stops by NTS Radio for a two-hour Open Deck set. The classically-trained artist mixes a wide-range of influences (Thomas Bangalter, Autechre, Wu-Tang Clan, etc.) through the unsettling filter of The Haxan Cloak.
This one’s a bit special – while Treble Clef might still be pretty much exclusively known for producing defining grime instrumental ‘Ghetto Kyote’, this hour long mix is proof that there’s way more to the producer than creepy strings and sparse beats. A collection of tracks he produced over the course of the last nine years, there’s a musicality to his productions that’s rarely heard in the genre as he easily blends piano, horns and those signature strings with the more traditional, expected grime soundset. It’s relentlessly heavy from beginning to end, and makes us wonder why the producer isn’t more of a household name at this point.
Hit-Boy Presents HS87 – All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of
Hit-Boy Presents HS87 is the ‘Niggas In Paris’ producer’s attempt at a ‘crew compilation’ record following in the footsteps of FreeBand Gang’s F.B.G. The Movie and G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer. It just about works too, and to be quite honest it’s nice to have a producer at the helm as the thing that stands out the most is simply how pristine and well realized it sounds. Hit-Boy’s winning formula is sprinkled all over the tracks, and while he’s never been the greatest rapper (his Kanye-isms range from the awkward to the flat-out comical) he’s ably assisted by Travi$ Scott, 2 Chainz, K. Roosevelt, Audio Push and Kent M$NEY, all who stop things from ever getting too stale. Unsurprisingly it’s the near flawless production that elevates All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of past most other tapes this week: who’d have thought that a concept, some coherence and a bit of mastering would make such a difference?
Paris La Nuit mix
At just over a half-hour, consider this short-but-sweet mix from the Pelican Fly boss a warm-up before a night of clubbing: a bit of Mike WiLL (Ciara’s ‘Body Party’), plenty of Pelican Fly remixes (reworking Cashmere Cat and Richelle), and some Teklife (DJ Earl and DJ Manny) to close things out; Zed Bias & Terror Danjah’s ‘Iceberg History’ is a grimy change of pace.
Trap Back 2
Dropping a whopping two mixtapes this week, Gucci is worryingly prolific right now (he’s now up for four for 2013 so far…) but somehow he’s managed to retain a shred of quality. Trap Back 2 is a damn sight more interesting than February’s Trap God 2; it’s hardly consistent, but then at the rate he’s machine-gunning tracks it’s a wonder there’s even a single hitter in there at all. Production comes from the usual suspects, with highlights coming from Gucci’s go-to-guy Zaytoven and Mike WiLL Made It, who manages to get through two entire tracks without ever reminding us of ‘Bands A Make Her Dance’. Travis Porter-featuring ‘That Pack’ especially makes the mixtape worth a punt, showing exactly what Gucci does best; dark, unshakably obtuse Atlanta rap.
GUCCI MANE & YOUNG DOLPH
On EastAtlantaMemphis Guwop recruits Brick Squad affiliate Young Dolph to act as his foil, and for the most part it’s successful. Like the stand-out Free Bricks 2 before it, the presence of another rapper seems to eke the best from Gucci’s personality, and backed with a bevvy of productions from trap originator Lex Luger, right-hand-man Zaytoven and Waka affiliates 808 Mafia there’s plenty of meat to sink your teeth into. The highlight for us would be ‘Get it Back’ that pits Dolph’s gruff drug raps over an almost dreamy electronic backdrop from Terentino & 808 Mafia. Cloud rap it ain’t.
Lil Ghetto Boy
Ex-No Limit soulja Fiend had a new lease of life when he was ushered into Curren$y’s Jets crew, but it was at the expense of his frenetic delivery, which inexplicably morphed into a husky crawl almost overnight. He might still not get much of a chance to let loose on Lil Ghetto Boy, but it’s still a pleasure to hear Fiend doing his own thing without interference. Occasionally there are sly nods to his roots, but for the most part this is a distinctly Jet Life affair with fellow affiliates Smoke DZA and even Curren$y himself popping up for guest spots. You don’t have to try to hard to guess the tape’s production style, but to be honest in the tidal wave of producers desperate to rip off Young Chop’s snap, it’s a small mercy to get to hear a tape so unshakably horizontal.
JAY R NEUTRON
The Qween Beat producer fuses ballroom beats with his hometown Baltimore club sound. Unsurprisingly, the frenetic styles go hand-in-hand, with ‘Ha’-crashing ‘The Cut Up’ and ‘YUNGNEUTRXN’ next to Bmore refixes of radio favorites ‘Suit & Tie’, ‘Started from the Bottom’, and plenty of Rihanna. If you missed it the first time around, Neutron also includes the ‘Harlem Shake’ remix that he crafted with Qween Beat boss MikeQ.
TURRBOTAX® Mix 001
The long-running Brooklyn party gets in the mix series game with an hour-long set by resident C-Sick. It’s a mid-tempo jaunt through the new-school house and techno that usually soundtracks a TURRBOTAX party, including tracks by Huxley, 5kinandbone5, Daphni, and fellow residents Contakt and Mayster. We’ll be adding this mix series to our watch-list.
Recently ushered into Future’s FreeBand Gang, Baltimore rapper Test (formerly TestMe) has dropped Green Light as his mission statement as a FBG member. It’s partially successful, but does very little to establish the rapper as a solid voice in his own right. Typically the tracks featuring better rappers (such as Rocko on ‘Put Dat Play Together’) are the album’s high points, and even Future can’t save the lamentable ‘Gotta See It’ that also features a sad post-Thong Song Sisqo. It’s a very mixed affair; if you loved F.B.G. The Movie and simply have to have something new to listen to, then we’d give a very tentative recommendation.