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 mixtape round-up is all over the place this week. Rap-wise, there’s a resurgent legend, some Raider Klan, white boys from Queens and Alabama, and a Gucci disciple. In-between those, there are powerhouse dance sets provided by Slava, Spooky, Capracara, and Little Dragon. If none of that does it for you, how about 20 minutes of drone?
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TALES FROM THE UNDERGROUND
Say what you like about Spaceghostpurrp’s sprawling crew, the Raider Klan are a surprisingly resilient bunch. Despite an unceremonious splintering earlier in the year, they’ve had a uncharacteristically prolific few months, and the majority of the drops have been almost unfeasibly good. It feels like Purrp and his associates still feel as if they have something to prove, and that’s a good thing.
Tales From The Underground is the outfit’s latest collection, and again it’s anchored around their nostalgia for a sound that drifted out of the public consciousness well over a decade ago. Their passion feels entirely genuine though, and the tape might be their most coherent selection to date, eschewing the collective’s penchant for scrappy, hastily put together weed mumblings in favour of deep, dark and dense vignettes.
Purrp handles the production for the majority of the tracks, and sounds fresh and invigorated – it’s not really that he’s doing anything particularly different, but his newfound focus is stark and obvious. We’re still treated to the usual selection of half-speed soul samples and chattering 808 rhythms, but everything just feels slightly more polished, and thankfully not in the same was as Purrp’s flawed and castrated 4AD collection Mysterious Phonk.
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DARK ARTS MIX
The Software producer/artist captures some of the club ferocity of his debut Raw Solutions on this 45-minute set for Dazed Digital. From the dembowed grooves of moombahton to straight-ahead ballroom beats to dark shadowed R&B, Slava bounds through his MP3 collection with an unpredictability that in lesser hands would be distracting. Rather, everything works, from slowing Jhené Aiko into the familiar bounce of Eve and Gwen Stefani’s ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind’ or sliding from Terror Danjah gremlin grime to Rizzla & False Witness’ ‘Baile Tra’. Loads of bootlegs and edits we’d love to get our hands on (who is Black Daylight exactly?) make this one a keeper.
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THAT’S MY WORK 2
Since dropping an album as Snoop Lion, Snoop has been mostly been going by his main moniker, proving that a dog doesn’t always need new tricks if the old ones still entertain. He returns with another volume of That’s My Work, a surprisingly-solid collection of new tracks and collaborations. Acting as the tape’s star and master of ceremonies from a reverb-heavy studio in the sky, Snoop is at his best when reaching back for smoked-out G-funk, whether it be the laidback ‘Bad 4 Me’, the trunk-rattling ‘Passenger Seat’, or the gun-totting ‘Let The K Spray’.
The dee-oh-double-gee tries on a variety of hats without straying from the pocket: he plays rap game elder-statesman on the political ‘Because I’m Black’ (as DJ Drama samples Syl Johnson’s song of the same name); he re-teams with his sons as the Broadus Boyz on the Blaxploitation-sampling — if confusingly titled — ‘Ball Til We Ball’; and he recruits fellow veterans EPMD’s Erick Sermon and Method Man for the bouncy-if-forgettable ‘Let Me Explain’.
When Snoop lets his proteges shine, it’s a mixed bag: Iza weaves a bit of neo-soul silk, but Daylyric’s sexplicit ‘Take Your Time’ is cringeworthy. As for the main man, ‘Groove Thang’ proves that AutoTune doesn’t work for everyone, but previously-released ‘Fadin’ still has us excited for that collaborative album by Snoop and Dam-Funk. Who knew that 2013 would be the year that Snoop Dogg reasserted himself as a hip-hop living legend?
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Spooky’s long been one of grime’s hardest working exponents, and if this mix shows anything at all, it’s that he’s still spending every waking hour perfecting his craft. You might notice from a brief glance at the tracklist that Spooky produced or remixed almost every track on the selection, but this can’t be seen as simply narcissism – simply put there are very few producers who approach his level, and nothing proves that more than the mix itself.
Honestly, the first run of tunes should be all you need if you’re still on the fence, and by the time we’ve gone from the explosive ‘Gladiator R.I.P’ to Slew Dem’s scene destroying ‘Playground’ (which was produced by Spooky, of course) there should be no doubt in your mind that Spooky is a national treasure worth sticking next to the crown jewels. Proper.
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OJ DA JUICEMAN
RETURN OF DA JUICEMAN
OJ Da Juiceman was one of Atlanta’s litany of rappers caught in the shrapnel blast following Gucci Mane’s recent meltdown. While his exact allegiance couldn’t really be confirmed, he seemed to be one of the few who didn’t exactly have anything exactly negative to say about big Guwop, and it’s hardly surprising. Gucci gave OJ a crucial early platform, and while they might have grown up together, there’s no arguing who’s had the most visible ascent in the years since. Return of Da Juiceman then feels like a necessary statement of intent then, and a reminder that with Gucci behind bars the old 1017 posse can handle business on their own.
The tape isn’t a giant leap for the rapper, you can expect to hear the usual barrage of bass-heavy ATL rollers and memorable chants, but it’s a surprisingly well-pruned selection. Where its predecessor Juice World 2 was a relatively lazy selection of slithering Zaytoven-produced crawlers and hastily produced trap, there’s a sense that Return of Da Juiceman, like its name suggests, is OJ’s attempt at once and for all shaking the 1017 shackles. He just about manages it, too – he’s never been as brash or as compelling as his old compatriot, but OJ’s resolve is steely, and sometimes that’s all you need.
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R$N EARS EXCLUSIVE BANJEE BOY REALNESS MIX
DFA/Unknown to the Unknown veteran Capracara delivers a mix that lives up to its title: an hour-long sashay through house music — be it 90s throwback, tribal, or vogue flavors. The London DJ/producer digs deep for ballroom favorites by Todd Terry, Joey Beltram, Robbie Rivera, and Tenaglia/Deep Dish collaboration NYDC, keeping the beat alive with new club heat from his contemporaries on Night Slugs and the rumbling Matrixxman/Mykki Blanco one-off ‘God Created The Beat’. Walk to this.
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ACTION BRONSON & PARTY SUPPLIES
BLUE CHIPS 2
The Queens duo re-team for a project along the lines of last year’s Blue Chips, and fans of the larger-than-life rapper know what to expect: dexterous, silver-tongued rhymes over a collection of dusty, “I know that song!” samples and throwback boom-bap beats.
At this point, the Bronson-Ghostface comparison is apt but lazy: the similarity in flow and style seems less important now that Bronson has established his voice and character. His (increasingly scatological and orally-fixated) lyrics find rich imagery in familiar places, as Bam Bam narrates his way though gourmet kitchens, classic rides, satin-sheeted beds and courtside seats.
Yet there’s something about the way he reels off rhymes that is just exhausting: you may marvel at something like “It be the novelist, bare-handed choke a hippopotamus / I need to go to Drug-Dealing Anonymous / Cheerio ship-flip like Rey Mysterio / Me laid up with big money be the scenario” — but not for 19 tracks. When Bon Appetit runs down your food references, things might be too overwrought.
The same goes for Party Supplies: the samples are well-selected and the beats knock, but with a huge wink to the audience that is tough to ignore. ‘Contemporary Man’ ironically flips through the radio circa ’84 (‘Sledgehammer’, ‘Sussudio’, ‘Jack & Diane’, etc.), the unfortunately-titled ‘Amadu Diablo’ flips Tracy Chapman’s ‘Give Me One Reason’, and the previously-released ‘It’s Me’ is practically ‘Under the Sea’. Keeping with the mixtape’s loose basketball theme, there’s also Allen Iverson’s most famous post-game speech and a Bobby Knight Applebee’s commercial.
As he raps on ‘Flip Ya’ (“Stare in the mirror, I’m a changed man / Never, I’m just executing my game plan”), Blue Chips 2 is Action Bronson and Party Supplies sticking to familiar Xs and Os.
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WW POOL MIX
Richmond, Virginia drone dude Jonathan Lee has been working quietly under the Anduin moniker for some time now, and this brand new mix is a timely reminder that he’s still busily rustling together the creepiest creaks and croaks that side of the Mason-Dixon line. Mysteriously entitled the WW Pool Mix, it collects up unheard live clips, studio outtakes and remixes of Lee’s own productions and it surprisingly coherent for what should be a fairly rag-tag selection. The mood is just right for Halloween – gloriously syrupy and laced with the kind of latent terror that’s all too scarce on so much experimental music these days. Also, kudos for Lee for sticking to his guns and not simply whacking a 4/4 808 kick on the whole thing. It’s only short, but what Lee’s mix lacks in length, it more than makes up for it quality.
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YELAWOLF & DJ PAUL
A timely drop here from Slim Shady affiliate Yelawolf – as his label boss drops one of the most pitiful records of his career, Yela almost makes up for the embarrassing Radioactive with this surprisingly tight collaboration with Three 6 Mafia’s DJ Paul. The productions is predictably heavy throughout – even though Paul might be busy making award-winning barbecue sauce, he still manages to bring beats to the table that would put most contemporary ‘trap’ producers to shame.
Thankfully, this seems to have elevated Yela’s game – he’s all too often technical to a fault, but dialing down the vocal acrobatics and keeping it snarling and Southern is a good look for the rapper. Take it from us, avoid Marshall Mathers LP 2 and grab Black Fall instead, it should slake your thirst for rapid-fire cracker rap for at least another few months.
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GOES TO SOUTH AFRICA
Hard at work on their fourth album, the Gothenburg electro-soul crew took the time to share this mix of South African sounds that have inspired their new work. The result is a lovingly-assembled mix of kwaito, house, and Afropop by everyone from South African heavyweights DJ Cleo and DJ Tira on down. There are even a few cassette and MP3 disc rarities in the tracklist (below), so good luck finding those elsewhere.
1. Do It Blek Sem – Dj Cleo
2. Kuyafiwa – Dj Cleo
3. Ruthless – Dj Cleo
4. Jezebel – Professor feat. Oskido & Dj Tira
5. Mambotjie – TKZee
6. unknown name – Abafana Bovenvane from their cassette SIBALI. label is USM and the cassette no is ZGAL 2080
7. Africa Natives (silly willy) – Mzee
8. Mono T Jam – Oskido & Master Wakes
9. Akhonto feat. Lelethu – Dj Clock
10. Terminator – Dj Gukwa
11. Ndiya Ndiya feat. Zulu Naja – Dj Cleo
12. Track 7 – Dj Christos from Afrodessia mp3 disc1 …. LOL (sorry this is all i got)
13. Djs Manifesto – Oskido
14. Banane Mavoko – Black Motion feat. Jah Rich
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