Listening to the deluge of mixtapes and free mixes from hip-hop artists and electronic producers alike is often an insurmountable task. That’s why we scour Datpiff, LiveMixtapes and beyond, separating the wheat from the chaff each week.
Producers of the world unite: this week was an especially good one for DJ mixes, ranging from futuristic club sets by DJ Slow and Sinjin Hawke, to Vladislav Delay’s exemplary experimental work, to party-ready mixes by Todd Edwards and DJ Haus. On the hip-hop side of things, newcomers from vibrant scenes in Chicago and Atlanta hold it down.
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AS THE WORLD TURNS SLOW CHAPTER 1
Pelican Fly’s DJ Slow mints his new DJ Screw-referencing As The World Turns Slow series with this excellent hour-long opening chapter. Those familiar with his style shouldn’t be surprised, but it continues to amaze how adept the Belgian selector is at melting together seemingly disparate rap, R&B and dance tracks into an eerily coherent soup of sound. In Slow’s world, Oneohtrix Point Never’s ‘Chrome County’ is perfectly birthed from PARTYNEXTDOOR’s underrated ‘Make A Mil’, and Coon Daddy & DJ Godfather’s ghetto-house anthem ‘See U No Mo’ is equally suited sidling up next to James Ferraro’s sickly ‘Rata’. Slow’s inventiveness and persistence pays off, and there are few other DJs with the same ability to mash together such an eclectic set of tunes without it sounding irksome and itchy.
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Sasu Ripatti can be a moany sod, but at least his recent Facebook outburst was responsible for an absolute corker of a mix. Ripatti is producing some of the finest music of his career right now, but just as he was confined to obscurity back in the Mille Plateaux days, he now languishes in a self-imposed exile thanks to his dedication to vinyl at the expense of digital. It feels like an illicit treat then that Ripatti, in his frustration, has put together this streaming mix of recent studio recordings, and trust us when we say it’s as essential as almost anything in his catalogue.
The long-form explorative nature of Ripatti’s early Vladislav Delay material is still present, but these new tracks are well trimmed and economical without losing any of the grit and grind. It’s also remarkable how original this stuff is – after a period of awkward records spurred on by his time in Berlin it feels like Ripatti is back to producing material that is absolutely impossible to mistake for anyone else. He’s a true original, and this 40-minute mix is about as good as modern experimental electronic music gets.
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ROAD TO GLORY
Saint Millie is a part of the Treated Crew, a collective of rappers, producers and DJs that has been described as Chicago’s answer to Odd Future. On Road to Glory, Millie’s warm-up before a proper album, the MC has one eye on the Golden Age and one on the future. He’s also comfortable with whatever his producers throw at him, and Road to Glory is all over the place, stylistically — a welcome reprieve from the rash of one-note mixtapes we see each week.
The tape kicks off with the soul-sampling ‘Have Mercy’, a modern flip on vintage Kanye; elsewhere, ‘Dream 312’ is an 808-heavy throwback about getting out your dreams. The best offerings cross region and time with ease: ‘Already Know’ is a chopped-and-screwed H-Town tribute that feels like something on Acid Rap. Likewise, the Thelonious Martin-produced ‘Young and Dumb’ flips “turn up” rap into druggy left-field fare, as an Auto-tuned Millie deals with youthful regret.
Millie is at his best when antagonistic, whether playful (“hit game som’ nasty, with my feet on the desk / A&R talk crazy put my feet on his chest”) or nihilistic (‘No Damn 2.0’ begins with Bishop’s speech from Juice and turns the ‘Funky Worm’ sample into a horror soundtrack). As he closes the tape with a freestyle over Nas’ No ID-produced ‘Stay’, he sounds ready for what’s to come: “I’m gonna be here for a while.”
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MIX FOR I-D
Barcelona-via-Montreal club producer Sinjin Hawke hasn’t released a DJ mix in almost two years, and it’s a testament to the prescience of his singular sound — the synth-laden soundscapes, with a ballroom ferocity — that songs that appeared in that mix (like his collaboration with DJ Sliink, ‘Gas Pump’) still sound futuristic. Since appearing on Pelican Fly’s all-killer Feathers EP, no one has been busier than Sinjin Hawke: along with remixes of ghetto trax legends DJ Funk and DJ Assault, he’s also collaborated with Just Blaze, Gangsta Boo, L-Vis 1990 and more. His hour-long offering for i-D chronicles his impressive year, and offers a glimpse at what’s to come. Along with an unreleased collaboration with MikeQ and an edit of ‘Bring in the Katz’, don’t miss offerings by TekLifer DJ Taye and Jersey club youngins DJ Kiff and DJ Problem.
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Standing well up at the front of the “new instrumental grime” pack, Slackk isn’t afraid to share some of his knowledge. Last year’s monthly mixes were crucial if you wanted to stay ahead of the game (you can download all of ‘em in one handy zip here), and it looks like he’s set to keep the tradition alive in 2014. February’s selection doesn’t offer many surprises but kicks like a mule. Slackk has hand-picked all the instrumental grime you need to worry about, and this isn’t a collection of weedy third tier Soundcloud drops, it’s sickeningly good dubs from the producer’s legion of associates, from Mumdance to Visionist. If you’ve got any interest in the scene this should keep you on the straight and narrow for almost an hour, which is more than any of us can rightly ask for.
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Dally Auston is a member of the SaveMoney collective, alongside Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa and Caleb James. His latest offering, the EP/mixtape Westside, is a monochrome concept piece about life on the west side of Chicago. Producers OnGuad, DocDaMindBenda and Hippie Dream turn old-school orchestral samples into bangers that are mounrful, haunting, and always hard-hitting.
From traphouse tales like ‘Party (Whatchu Kno)’ to inverted stripper anthems like ‘Bounce’, Dally Auston often comes across world-weary with a raspy immediacy reminiscent of Gunplay. The tape is heavy on blustery street rap, but Auston is no slouch as a lyricist: lyrics like “Horses on my linen shorts, posing front of centerfold / Model shit, Polaroid, paint a picture, Salvador” tease a ease with imagery that isn’t always apparent on the tape. “They ain’t neva seen it glow like this,” he raps on closer ‘Problems’, and it’s true: releases that don’t break under the weight of heavy concepts don’t always sound this good.
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DUMMY MIX 197
Todd Edwards shouldn’t need any introduction on these pages, and his if his influence on the course of dance music wasn’t enough already, he’s still keeping himself busy working on a brand new album which is due to drop this year. This brand new selection for Dummy sounds as if Edwards has reached a point in his life where he can let loose, and he blends old and new cuts effortlessly. The mix kicks off totally unexpectedly with Luke Vibert’s soon-to-be-released ‘Double Dipped Acid’ and then careers into twitchy house, slippery garage and Edwards’ own unmistakable productions. We don’t call him Todd the god for nothing.
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You might remember Atlanta’s Miloh Smith from her starry turn on Rome Fortune’s Beautiful Pimp cut ‘Bitches on the Track’ or her appearances with Two-9, but now she’s back with her most substantial statement to date. Pulp Fiction begins with an unsettling sample of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but quickly switches rails and sidles into Smith’s effective hybrid of rap and R&B. There aren’t a huge amount of surprises here, but Smith can effectively straddle the Venn diagram linking Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Tinashe and Erykah Badu without sounding as if she’s trying to squash too much in at once. The Childish Major-produced ‘White’ is an easy highlight, pairing Smith’s moans with Major’s now-familiar chippy electronics. Elsewhere ‘Church’ (which features guest verses from CyHi the Prynce and Marian Mereba) finds Smith on particularly fiery form, spitting with the intensity of a pre-Dirty Gold Angel Haze.
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RINSE FM SPECIAL
DJ Haus shares his hour-long Rinse FM special, an admittedly “rough and ready” set of hands-in-the-air rave throwbacks, ghetto house, squishy bassline and whatever else strikes his fancy, as long as it gets your body jacking. There’s no tracklist, but I did recognize the sinister techno of DJ Funeral’s ‘Took The Night’-meets-‘Flash’, ‘Shutterbug’, and his collaboration with DJ Q, Trumpet & Badman’s ‘Love Keeps Changing’ — two tracks that give you an idea what to expect here. If this is as advertised — “the just of what’s coming up on UTTU this year” — than Unknown to the Unknown is going to have a helluva year.
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Chicago’s I.L. Will is the “I” in M.I.C. with Mikey Dollaz and Lil Chris, and the prolific rapper seems to drop a new tape every few months. Problem Child benefits from Will’s rapid-fire flow, strong production, and a few well-placed features from the likes of Lil Durk and Sasha Go Hard. Will typifies Chicago’s contemporary rap scene, walking the line between Chiraq-inspired street rap and easy-going bop tracks. While it may not have the exuberance of something like Sicko Mobb’s Super Saiyan, there is a touch of bop’s technicolor jubilation on tracks like ‘Love Foreign’,‘No Manners’, and ‘Momma I Made It’. Songs like ‘100 Rounds’ and ‘Murderer’ provide exactly what you’d expect, and while Will is adept in either mode, Problem Child is a bit bi-polar.
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