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.
Like last week’s spectrum-hopping round-up, this week’s is a similarly diverse crop: slow-mo R&B, Atlanta and Chicago best-ofs, a cloud rap beat tape, a timeless grime team-up, and — what else? — yet another tape from Gucci Mane.
Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 1/11)
Cold was always going to be the weirdest mixtape of the week, but to be quite honest it’s quite a restrained listen given James Ferarro’s quirky canon. Further plumbing the depths of slow-mo R&B after the initial flirtations of his Bebetune$ side-project, Ferraro takes the spacious auto-tuned sex jams of Drake, Jeremih and The-Dream as his Gospel and preaches the word with the mania of a zealot. It’s R&B, sure, but as-viewed through bad prescription lenses; obscuring things that shouldn’t be blurred and shining a bright light onto elements usually left well alone. Ferraro’s heavily processed ramblings carry the record, and although his vocal talents make Future sound like Morrissey, there’s something unshakably endearing about Cold that makes it hard to resist. Album highlight ‘Sentinel’ sounds like SND remixing Trey Songz – what could possibly go wrong?
DJ Spinz Presents HPG 2
Lava-hot producer DJ Spinz’ last HPG mixtape was a veritable who’s who of the Atlanta rap scene as it stood last November, with Gucci, Trinidad Jame$, Rocko and Future sat up against the lesser known Rome Fortune and more. Its sequel takes a similar route, and while a few of these tracks (Rocko’s ‘U.O.E.N.O’ and Rome Fortune’s ‘Get The Guap’ to name a couple) have appeared before, having them in a ‘best-of’ lineup like this only serves to accent the sheer energy in ATL right now. There really aren’t any duff tracks, and it falls to Rome Fortune to provide the album’s highlight yet again with the Dun Deal-produced ‘The Truth’. Other heavy-hitters are Future’s synth-drenched ‘No Love’ and August Alsina’s The-Dream-indebted ‘Get Ya Money’, but HPG 2 is really a rare example of a tape that can be listened to from beginning to the end, and in a startling display of good taste it’s an economic 45 minutes long. DJs out there might also be pleased to know that the tracks are all at 320kbps too… WOOF.
Hood Life 2 Headliner
As far as the world of Club music is concerned, Baltimore reigns as its classic home, Jersey remains committed to making it weird, and Philadelphia is an amped-up also-ran, never quite able to recapture the glory of its Hollertronix days. The exception to the rule is DJ Sega, the Philly mainstay who is keeping the city’s hyperactive strain of Club music alive. His latest mixtape isn’t revelatory, but it’s a hell of a ride: Sega cuts up everything from Cruel Summer to the Django Unchained soundtrack, flips Trinidad Jame$’ inescapable ‘All Gold Everything’, and mixes in some Bmore heavyweights (Rod Lee, DJ Booman, DJ Technics) for good measure. The Mad Decent affiliate even takes on a few Diplo projects, remixing bounce track ‘Express Yourself’ and Major Lazer’s ‘Original Don’.
LIL B ‘THE BASED GOD’
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thug)
We’ve lost count of exactly how many mixtapes Berkeley rap outsider Lil B has unleashed on the world, but we’re guessing must be at least nearing the big five oh. This is all without a single major label record, and at this point it’s worth wondering if he even needs to pander to a major at all? B operates in his own bubble, sounding as much at home on the Keyboard Kid produced Detroit techno-sampling ‘Choppin Paper Up’ as on the street-primed trap-isms of ‘Roc’ and this is a rarer gift than it might appear. He’s never going to be reliable, and his releases are by their very nature patchy as hell, but for sheer value there’s only one Lil B.
Roller-Rink Boogaloo Mix
In another celebration of the forthcoming Pleasure Principle weekender, Numbers digs deep in the vaults for this mix by electro obsessive EDMX aka DMX Krew. He’ll be playing a boogie selection at the Weekender, and this nearly 75-minute mix of “classic 80’s disco boogie” previews that set. Admonishing listeners to jam it, pop it, bounce, rock, skate, and roll, the mix lives up to its title, flashing back to the days of roller-rink disco, weaving through tracks by The System, Pointer Sisters, Morris Day (and The Time, naturally) before ending with Loose Joints’, uh, seminal ‘Is It All Over My Face?’.
Beat Tape #1
Javier Escareno’s debut tape might owe more to Clams Casino than Clams himself does to Imogen Heap, but there’s still plenty to sink your teeth into despite the reverence. At only 21 years old Escareno shows a real aptitude for the melodic, cloudy sounds that made Clams’ productions with Main Attrakionz stand out so far from the crowd, and he injects this with a Houston lilt that’s impossible to ignore. While he doesn’t rep his home city as much as many of his peers, there’s a patient slowness to his beats that separates him from the club-poised West Coasters and the NYC retro revivalists with ease.
ELIJAH & SKILLIAM AND NEWHAM GENERALS
Rinse FM, March 24
How had this not happened until now? On their Rinse show, Grime’s reigning tastemakers Elijah and Skilliam joined up with D Double E and Footsie of OG grime duo Newham Generals for a set reminiscent of last summer’s Butterz/Hardrive shindig. Over beats by a grime-time roll-call of Terror Danjah, Rustie, Champion, Deeco, P Jam, Joker, TNGHT, Footsie, Swindle, Preditah, Flava D, Virgo, Royal-T, Faze Miyake, Starkey and more, the ever-versatile MCs go hard for about 40 minutes, handling whatever the Butterz pair throw at them with sneering ease.
This Is Noise 005: Chigeria
The Chicago-via-Nigeria (hence ‘Chigeria’) polymath shares a mix of his current home’s progressive underground, flipping through his Rolodex (does that reference even work anymore?) and collecting tracks by astral beatweavers like Supreme Cuts, Mister Lies, Sichmang, and The-Drum (along with their JODY side-project, of which The GTW is a member), footworkers DJ Earl and DJ Nate, and rap upstart Tink. It may only be 40 minutes long, but it’s a testament to the genre-defying brilliance of Chicago’s post-everything renaissance.
GUCCI MANE & PEEWEE LONGWAY
Money, Pounds, Ammunition
While Gucci’s recent legal troubles might end his Lil B-like streak, we’ll still have his fifth mixtape of the year. After teaming up with Young Scooter and Young Dolph, Gucci enlists Brick Squad signee PeeWee Longway for his latest tape, and as can be expected, the results are decidedly mixed. The majority of the beats are handled by newcomers Dun Deal (who co-produced Future’s recent single ‘No Love’) and Presidential, a previously-unknown producer who hits Mike WiLL-esque heights with tracks like ‘I’m Dealing’. However, the highlight here is the woozy drug anthem ‘Breakfast’, featuring what may be (considering their recent falling out) the last pairing of former BFFs Gucci and Waka Flocka, at least for the foreseeable future.
Prelude to The Answer
Wu-Tang DJ Mathematics has never been the most visible of the Clan’s throng, but as one of the founding members he’s as much a part of their lore than any of their more recognizable sons. Prelude to the Answer is mostly a promotional affair, serving as a hype-builder for mid-April’s The Answer, and sadly that’s exactly how it sounds. It’s Wu by numbers; you can barely move for dusty drums and soul samples, and while there are plenty of guest spots from his Clan buddies, it feels as if the best tracks were saved for the proper album. As it stands, Prelude to The Answer is simply a taster, and it sounds as if Mathematics might be missing the point of what a mixtape should really be in 2013.