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.
Calling all rappers: where are you? Sure, the round-up features straight-up hip-hop from Atlanta loudmouth Peewee Longway, supergroup Slaughterhouse and a few newcomers, but the halls of Livemixtapes and Datpiff have been quiet recently. Thankfully, Delroy Edwards, Natasha Kmeto, Micron Diamond and Rook Milo are here to keep rap and R&B weird with a handful of delightfully warped mixes.
THE BLUE M&M
The rising Atlanta rapper and Young Thug running mate follows last year’s Running Round The Lobby with the bewilderingly/lovingly-titled The Blue M&M, a standard-issue dispatch from Atlanta that gets by on Peewee’s charisma and playfulness. While he breathlessly throws down the gauntlet on ‘African Diamonds’ (“Shit on my wrist make ’em go crazy strong / Lookin’ like he got beat by Moses Malone / fugazi Cubans in your Cuban link / boy, your jeweler must be making diamonds at home”), he charmingly proclaims himself the “chief of the symonym [sic]” on ‘FRFR’.
Migos (and especially trendsetter Offset) looms large on the whole tape, with a seemingly endless supply of triplet blasts and sing-along chants (‘Documentary’, ‘Sneakin N Geekin’, ‘Ola’, etc). The Blue M&M is also the rare 20-plus track mixtape that tacks its best tracks on the end. Peewee teams with Thugger on ‘Juice’, gets weepy about the downsides of dealing on ‘Took Chances’, and does some melancholy ain’t-got-shit storytelling on ‘Energy Kit’. There’s even a lovey-dovey, falsetto-flirting track in ‘Situation’, and it’s good to see ‘Servin Lean’ rescued off Gucci’s World War 3: Lean (no matter how you feel about featured guest A$AP Rocky).
SLOWED DOWN FUNK VOL.1
It’s pretty hard to make any kind of splash with a record of screwed and chopped Southern sounds these days, especially when OG Ron C and his Chopped and Not Slopped crew are pumping out tapes by the dozen. It hasn’t stopped son-of-Hellboy Delroy Edwards from throwing his hat into the ring however, and we have to admit Slowed Down Funk Vol. 1 ain’t half bad at all.
Anyone who managed to clap their ear drums around Actress’s woozy recent full-length Ghettoville should be in for some familiar sounds here, but Edwards sticks to his guns and doesn’t allow himself to embellish the concept too much. Rather, this is an entire slab of half-speed funk and Southern rap samples, and while it’s not exactly breaking any new ground, it’s immensely listenable.
Portland artist Natasha Kmeto impressed last year with Crisis, and her mix for Ssense explores the same type of woozy, bass-blasted and R&B-inflected electronica of her debut LP. An adventurous hour-long mix of R&B, trip-hop, footwork and more, Kmeto finds sensuality in D’Angelo and Jeremih, Four Tet and Jamie XX. Hero’s “Soaking Wet” remix of Kmeto’s ‘Deeply’ lives up to its title, and mixing an edit of Sade’s classic ‘When Am I Going To Make a Living’ into Jerome LOL’s more contempoary ‘Always’ is a moment of tempo-shifting brilliance.
The mysterious Chicago rapper who calls himself GOD emerged earlier this year, as if taking Kanye’s ‘I Am A God’ pronouncements to their logical conclusion. His full-length debut The Bible (naturally) is a collection of grim and grimy street rap dotted with darker elements: horror score melodies, industrial accents, gunshot SFX and bits of Chicago news reports, and so on. In that way, it’s closer to the work of GOD’s diametrically-opposed Atlanta counterpart The Devil than Yeezus-influenced (and fellow Chicago outsider) Ibn Inglor.
Unlike The Devil’s Violence mixtape, however, The Bible never lives up to its lofty concept. GOD emerges from the ether on the eerie ‘Genesis’ with lines like “What’s a non-believer to a god? / N*gga that’s a dead man,” but the rest of the tape struggles to find cohesion. His rat-a-tat flow is crystal clear but his lyrics often lack substance (“real n*ggas don’t cry tears / real n*ggas bounce back / like round ball”). But there’s a promising talent here (that can make the most of this ballsy gimmick) — let’s hope he has more to say in the New Testament.
After the lackluster response to their overhyped Shady Records debut, it would be easy to assume that Slaughterhouse would have lost hope. Here they are with a new tape though, and it sounds as if Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5’9” and Joe Budden aren’t ready to throw in the towel yet.
It’s unclear whether the ten tracks here are offcuts from the mooted third album Glass House, but they show Slaughterhouse at their best in a while, and the foursome sound no better than when they’re assisted by beats from Rhode Island’s AraabMusik. The producer contributes two productions to House Rules and they stand head and shoulders above the rest, cutting through the awkward retro “real hip-hop” fetishism and injecting a very necessary air of sincere weirdness.
Rising through the ranks at London’s Rinse FM, Monki went from being a lowly intern to grabbing a prime-time slot before being snapped up by Radio 1 for their In New DJs We Trust run of shows. Now she’s something of an old hand, and has thrown together this trunk-rattler of a mix for the gang at Thump, and we’re not complaining one bit.
Pitched as a warm-up for her massive summer appearance in Ibiza, it’s about as far from your traditional Ibiza set as you can get, full of slithering low end and attitude. It’s more likely to bring back hazy memories of the Ayia Napa days. How times have changed.
Laura Couture is no stranger to this column, and we couldn’t resist including her latest blend, which according to the Soundcloud tag is packed with “lots of Drake.” Haters don’t need to worry though – what Drake there is (it’s really not much) is chopped and screwed beyond repair.
Elsewhere Couture blends a wealth of obscure mixes of tracks you probably know in some form or other – Schoolboy Q’s lonely album highlight ‘Studio’, Katy B’s stomping ‘5 AM’, Tinashe’s ‘Vulnerable’ and of course Beyonce’s ‘Drunk in Love’, because we all know that no mix would be complete with at least one nod to lady Bey (got that, Beygency?).
When we spoke with Montreal dreamweaver Kaytranada last year, he mentioned crafting beats for his brother as The Celestics. Supreme Laziness is their debut effort, and their self-described influences (“Madvillan and more. but mostly madvillan.”) should tell you what to expect here: rearview boom-bap with an eye each on the Golden Era and the alt-rap era.
For his part, Kaytranada sticks to the dusty samples and throwback grooves that he’s toyed with on beat tapes and elsewhere. There are a few diversions, with ‘Lazy Supremacy’ relying on funky bass and skittering trap rolls, and ‘Kill’ is particularly jumpy and off-kilter. His brother Louie P’s flow is a wordy jumble of references and punchlines (“I had to push it back like Lebron’s hairline”), but while he has a lot to say, he hasn’t necessarily found the best way to say it.
Before checking this hour-long Truants mix, we weren’t really sure who Rook Milo was, but we’re glad we found out. He’s a young Canadian producer with a penchant for druggy, filtered rap and R&B. Yep, I know what you’re thinking, and he does indeed know Ryan Hemsworth, but where Hems’ selections usually border on the twee, Rook instead keeps things cold and somewhat unsettling.
There are no videogame soundtracks here, and while we are treated to a strange rework of t.a.T.u, Rook keeps things on a level with cuts from Waka, King Louie, Little Pain and Travis Scott blended with unreleased self-produced gems and a variety of unusual remixes. There’s something happening over in Canada, and we don’t mind it one bit – did someone say post-Drake?
4 A.M. ETERNAL MIX II
Washington, DC multitasker Will Eastman keeps busy, whether DJing, producing or running the esteemed U Street Music Hall, and his latest mix was recorded at the subterranean bass temple in the 4 am afterglow of a Tensnake set. “Years ago, I made a crate for “Last song of the night” tracks to use to close out my sets,” he writes. “As time passed, this genre tag has become the playlist I go back to over and over again to listen to on my iPod.” He’s assembled a set out of such songs, romantic, seductive and mysterious house and techno that is “perfect for a 4 a.m. vibe; perfect for going out into the streets in bliss after a great night out.”