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Mixtape Round-up: Waka Flocka, Omar-S, Kevin Gates, Maya Jane Coles and more

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.

Well, not every round-up will be as strong as last week’s, but this mixed bag features highlights from house stars Omar-S and Maya Jane Coles, way-underground rap act Gene the South Child & Parallel Thought, and superbly-named Raider Klan newcomer Muff Lucid — strong efforts that outweigh uneven releases by rap vets T.I. and Waka Flocka.

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GENE THE SOUTHERN CHILD & PARALLEL THOUGHT
ARTILLERY SPLURGIN’

Teased by B-sides compilation Higher Caliber from a few weeks back, Artillery Splurgin’ is the latest full-length from Alabama rapper Gene the Southern Child and producers Parallel Thought. One thing that’s noticeable right from the beginning is how unusual it is these days to have a unique vision from the beginning to the end of a record. It used to be that a single producer or production unit (DJ Premier with Gang Starr, The Ummah with Tribe Called Quest) could pull together a rap album and keep it coherent, but in the days of scrappy 20+ track mixtapes it’s becoming far rarer to find. Parallel Thought keep things on the level from beginning to end, adding an endearing horror-drenched backdrop to Gene’s Southern rhymes and keeping a firm grip on the fact that the record’s supposed to played in its entirety.

Artillery Splurgin’ isn’t afraid to look to the past to go forward, and while Parallel Thought might drag a number of their samples from rap music’s past, there’s never a sense that you’re listening to a record that’s lost in the anal retentive world of the backpack golden age revivalists. A decidedly fresh album, it’s one for El-P fans looking for this year’s answer to Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music.

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OMAR-S
XLR8R MIX

Now here’s something a bit special – an hour-long mix from one of Detroit’s most reliable champions, Omar-S. The shadowy proponent of low-key 313 house has long been a staple on these pages, and with a killer new album on the shelves now in the shape of Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself, there couldn’t be a better time for a fresh mix.

The Detroit legend skips from genre to genre with the ease of an old hand, drifting from old disco and electro pop into speed garage and house and not missing a beat. It’s gripping stuff, and it’s a pleasure and a treat to hear Omar-S mixing for fun rather than simply mixing for the floor.

Stream/download the mix over at XLR8R.

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DG YOLA
NEVA GON STOP 2

Atlanta rapper DG Yola’s had a weirder story than most; barging onto the scene in 2006 with the massive regional hit ‘Ain’t Gon’ Let Up’, Yola was incarcerated in 2009 for shooting his cousin in a family altercation. Now free (and back on good terms with his cousin), the rapper has decided to follow up up his ’08 tape Neva Gon Stop with a second installment, which for some reason even features his aforementioned breakout single.

Quite unexpectedly, the record is pretty damn good and while it’s helped a lot by the clout of some killer bass-heavy production from Zaytoven and others, its Yola himself that tips it over the edge. His unashamed Southern flow harks back to a time when Atlanta simply didn’t have the selling power it does now, and his unchecked, manic personality is just a joy. Funnily enough given its ATL focus, Neva Gon Stop 2 doesn’t sound at all like the autotuned club bangers of Future or Rocko, or even close to the gut-churning trap of Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame – rather it’s a smart and timely look back at a style that’s fallen out of fashion for one reason or another, and that’s a damn good reason to pay attention.

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KEVIN GATES
EVERYBODY’S SWORN FAVOURITE

London party rap obsessives Southern Hospitality present this mix of the best of Kevin Gates, the Baton Rouge rapper who is one of FACT’s rappers to watch in 2013. This hour-long mix is a great starting point for those just discovering the new talent’s heart-on-sleeve, love-and-drugs tales. Breakthrough mixtape The Luca Brasi Story is well represented, as are earlier efforts (Gates has been percolating in Louisiana’s mixtape scene since 2007), like standouts ‘Satellites’, ‘Wrist to Work’, and his feature on Pusha T’s ‘Trust You’. Living up to their name, Southern Hospitality is even offering the mixtape as a split-track version.

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LOGIC
YOUNG SINATRA: WELCOME TO FOREVER

The 23-year-old Def Jam signee releases his fourth mixtape to significantly more ears than ever before, thanks to his recent XXL Freshman designation. The kid can certainly rap, but he doesn’t as much wear his influences on his sleeve as he knits them into an amazing technicolor dreamcoat. As he raps on ‘Feel Good’, “My life is in Maryland, my heart is in Chicago,” and lyrical and stylistic references to early Kanye and Kid Cudi abound. There’s also plenty of Drake, as Logic spends plenty of bars dealing with his biracial identity issues.

Still, Logic isn’t a Golden Era revival act: with production from the likes of C-Sick, Kevin Randolph, and Key Wane, the mixtape is an organic blend of College Dropout-era Kanye and contemporary, Drake-and-40 haziness. Guest spots are scarce (thankfully), with Kid Ink and Trindad Jame$ lending a hand on ‘On The Low’, Jhene Aiko adding a woman’s touch to the hook of the moody ‘Break It Down’, and — most surprisingly — The Boondocks voice actor John Witherspoon showing up on a pair of Granddad-esque skits. Chicago legend No I.D. will executive produce Logic’s debut album, and he produces the orchestral ‘Man of the Year’, which flows nicely into the Adele-sampling ‘The End’. The latter closes the tape with Logic’s M.O.: “I’m givin’ everything I got, so, yeah, it better be my time.”

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MUFF LUCID
BLACKLAND BAKERY 2

The Brooklyn newcomer is a member of SpaceGhostPurrp’s Raider Klan, which should give you an idea of what to expect here: Memphis doom-and-gloom reinterpreted by a new generation of rappers. The finest moments chop-and-screw samples both familiar (MJ’s ‘Lady In My Life’ on ‘For Da Dime’) and more obscure (Project Pat’s ‘Out There’ on ‘Lucid Vision’), and the entire effort has the tape-sampled uneasiness of SpaceGhostPurrp’s early work: even though he’s not credited, his influence looms large.

At 22 tracks, it’s easy to get lost in the codeine-sipping goth vibe, but there are some surprising turns: the bass-heavy ‘Mystical Wisdom’ is vaguely exotic and ‘Thru the Dark’, featuring Raider Klan vet Ethelwulf, takes haunted house ambience to a new level. These Raider Klan mixtapes generally work better as mood pieces than as collections of singles. Blackland Bakery 2, unsurprisingly, is no different, but now we have another Raider Klan member to keep tabs on.

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PROBLEM
AIN’T NOBODY HOTTER THAN ME VOL. 1

Compton rapper/writer/producer/engineer Problem is some kind of rap renaissance man, and following up his duo of Welcome to Mollywood tapes he continues to shine a spotlight on a distinctly LA sound. Problem’s learned from the best, and his tenure writing with E-40 and Snoop has given him the kind of swagger as a rapper you need to step from the background into the fore.

Ain’t Nobody Hotter Than Me Vol.1 is a relentless selection of genuine West Coast club rap, and Problem takes the skeletal strip club vibes of the near-forgotten jerkin’ sound and reframes it for 2013. It’s a smart move, and the rapper sounds confident and at ease getting lyrical over his team’s (and his own) spacious beats. He’s not bringing a great deal to the table, but if you’re after some bullshit-free straight up foot-sliding dancefloor rap music this is the tape for you.

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HUSTLE GANG
G.D.O.D (GET DOUGH OR DIE)

T.I.’s Hustle Gang brings together a crew of Southern rap also-rans (Young Dro, B.o.B. Trae the Truth, Shad da God, and Travis Scott) with Tottenham grime MC Chip and Aussie ex-pat Iggy Azalea. But the guest list doesn’t drop there: French Montana, Meek Mill, Young Jeezy, Doe B, and more offer verses, as well. Sonically, expect plenty of big, menacing trunk-rattlers from a handful of Lex Luger disciples, which unfortunately gives the tape an anonymous feel.

There are some fun moments: the crystalline title track, the shifty, FKi-produced ‘Here I Go’ (featuring Mystikal), and Jeezy going in over the G-funk of ‘Only N Atlanta’. In the end, G.D.O.D. is so overwrought that it makes G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer look like the picture of restraint. When every track is a posse cut, the effect is lost — especially when rap-guitarist B.o.B. is littered throughout the tracklist.

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MAYA JANE COLES
BBC RADIO 1 ESSENTIAL MIX

The preternaturally-talented DJ/producer returns for her second Essential Mix, and the two-hour set is a journey through the recesses of house music. Coles previews her forthcoming debut album with ‘Everything’ and closes strong with the one-two punch of her remix of Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Blue Skies’ and Knox’s ‘Fault’. MJC dug deep for this one; the tracklist follows.

The Poet – “Rain On April” (Yves Le Groove Mix) [OT Records]
Joe Stawarz – “Suiteb” [Soma Quality Recordings]
[A]pendics Shuffle ft. Blakkat – “Heavy Burdens High” (Safeword Remix) 6.32 version [Adjunct Audio]
Deep Guys – “Roomba” (Oceanic Mix)
Francesco Rossi – “Paper Aeroplane” (Original Mix) 7.18 version [D:vision]
Linus Quick – “There shall be light” (Mike Mass Remix) [Wayward Music]
Black Dynamite – “Mother’s Love” [Fear Of Flying]
Anonym – “I Can’t” [Vakant]
Jordan Lieb – “Dreams From The Ghetto” [Superfreq]
J. Wiltshire – Closer [Hypercolour]
Nick Galemore – “Pt. I” [Kindisch]
Maya Jane Coles – “Everything” ft. Karin Park (I/AM/ME)
Rodriguez Jr. – “Satellite” [Mobilee]
Nana K. – “Old’s Cool” [Red Eleven Recordings]
Weltenwandler – “Departure” [Electrophil Records]
Mad Us – “Hypnoze” (Luca Bear Remix) [Armonia]
Riva Starr & Rssll – “Absence” (Adam Port Remix) [Snatch! Records]
Marbert Rocel – “Small Hours” (Daniel Stefanik Remix) [Black Label 88]
Paul Ritch – Asteroid (Original Mix) [Quartz Rec]
Juliano Silva – 1000 Miles (Original Mix) [EON5]
LPZ – Council Fonk
Deetron – “Out Of My Head” ft. Ovasoul7 (KiNK Vocal Mix) [Music Man Records]
Alex Piccini & Marka – “Suite Yourself” (Original Mix) [Amazing Records]
Gianni Amoroso – No Matter How Far” (Original Mix) [Morning Mood Records]
Sivesgaard – “In The Night” (BLOND:ISH Remix) [Eklektisch]
Frederick Alonso – “96” (Tech mix) [Stab Recordings]
Paul Mad – “Undes” (Alex Piccini remix) [Deep Beep Records]
Ella Fitzgerald – “Blue Skies” (Maya Jane Coles Remix) [Verve]
Knox – “Fault” [Last Night On Earth]

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WAKA FLOCKA
DUFLOCKA RANT HALFTIME SHOW

Waka Flocka has long been one of rap’s most divisive figures, and with this latest tape he looks to at least silence one section of his haters. Showing a desire to explore more than simply the boot-knocking trap he’s made his name with, Waka manages to go a little retro with DuFlocka Rant Halftime Show.

A blend of low-key jazzy, sample-based tunes and slightly more horizontal takes on his usual Atlanta strip-club anthems, it might be the most restrained record Waka’s ever put his name to. Sadly, Waka is nowhere near as engaging when he’s not shouting befuddling nonsense over beats that sound like they’re about to wrench your spine out. Tracks like ‘Just A Sample’, ‘Way to the Top’ and ‘Whole Wide World’ sound at best like weak versions of offcuts from Jay-Z’s The Blueprint III, and at worst second-rate Wale yawners.

It’s not all bad news though: Young Thug yet again shows why he’s Brick Squad’s brightest hope with a star turn on the woozy 808 Mafia-produced ‘Come Around’ and Waka is back to his shouty finest on the massive ‘Seen A Lot’. Worth a look then, but proceed with caution.

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