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Friday, June 10, 2016

[Article] The Celebration Of Mediocricity

As many of you, my loyal and trusted readers, know for the last year or so The Lost Tapes have gone from a site with multiple updates daily to somethimes only 10 updates a month. I intend to get back on track with some more dope compilations and such (like the recent Freddie Gibbs one that I think came off realy well). The reason is that I've been totally immersed in the musical world of jazz and it's many offshot styles - many people think jazz and they think some lame big band BS but that's about as accurate as thinking that all hip-hop is equivalent to trap music. So one of the reasons for my lack of interest (add to that a new full-time employment) is the hundreds of incredible Hard Bop, jazz-rock, BeBop, Modal records and funk jazz albums that I've purchased over the last couple of years. 

But the more important reason, and which I think it's fitting to discuss in an article of this type, is the total watering down of Hip Hop as an artform over the last few years. There's so many times I've seen a Trap video or something remotely popular like a Rick Ross song getting heavy airplay and bringin in the big numbers and being absolutely disgusted by what I call the celebration of mediocricity (a term that I've borrowed from the great Mtume as you can see above). An estimated 90% of all aspects of commercial Hip Hop today features laughable excuses for musicians, whether we're talking about the "producer" or "the rapper". There's no virtuosity in putting together one of those beats, and there sure as hell ain't no virtuosity or skill involved in putting together half-assed rhymes celebrating the killings of young black men through direct violence or through the spreading and selling of hard drugs that ultimately destroy the nation and keep the people, especially black and poor, down. At the same time the music video has become a parody of what started out as rappers wanting to flaunt a little after growing up with nothing. Today you see a ridiciolous amount of flashing money stacks, expensive bracelets, watches, the pouring of expensive champagne and what not. It's like these peoples lives and talents are so empty that their only hope is that their blind followers might catch the sparkle of that blood diamond and want to achieve the same level of "success". Capitalism at it's finest right there. The main problem with this is that it has created a generation of a so called music scene where the majority of artists are not in it for any love of art or anything even appraoching it. They are in it for the money and the fame, and it's translates to their unimaginative wack tracks. Plain and simple. The celebration of mediocricity, indeed.

But this is an old argument and I know that most of you who read this site agrees, but there's another problem at hand which I think might upset a few more people reading this. Hip Hop, the genre as a whole, has become stagnated. Reading the above paragraphs about the commercial wackness I know many will automatically say "but you're just looking at the wrong place, there's tons of underground rappers killing it right now". Indeed, there's plenty of underground and not-so-underground rappers putting out pretty decent music at this time. They got their dope little beats, spit some cool darts, but more often than not it lacks any true originality. And this is a huge problem. Without naming names there are so many groups around today that I might listen to their new stuff and be like "yeah, this is cool, these cats can flow". But what it comes down to is that I've heard it all before, and done much better too. Back in the '80s and '90s, the real greats had their own styles, their own lane of creativity that were distinctly theirs. That is largely missing today; so many try to recreate the boom bap vibe and flows to give the fans that stuff they've been craving for years, but I've heard the beats done better if at least not just as good on projects before. Projects that is much dearer to my heart and who I'd much rather revisit. The same goes for the emcees - a lot of new(ish) MC's are nice with the wordplay and flows, but who can you name that has the instant recognizabilty and charisma of a 2Pac, a KRS-One, a BIG, a Ghostface, a Jeru The Damaja, a Posdnos, and so on, and so on. It's like why listen to the next best thing?

The most important aspect of this is that for any music to continue to thrive and stay relevant it needs to elevate, and continue to improve and change. The past is already there, and with albums like "The Chronic", "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..."; "Illmatic", "ATLiens", "Soul Food", "The War Report", "The Diary", and so on. that classic style has already been perfected. Many of the original artists are still churning out good music, but to me they have more nostalgic value than having me truly blown away in the manner i was when Ghost came back resurrected like Jesus with "Supreme Clientele" in 2000. But as I've said before there's plenty of perfectly good Hip Hop out there but if we don't get more creative artists who care as much about the art and virtuosity of creating an impeccable product we're in for some big trouble. I loved Hip Hop since the first time I heard it - never in my life had I so identified with a culture and a music that truly spoke to my soul. And throwing on "Word... Life" I still get that feeling so Hip Hop music will be a huge part of my life for as long as I live. I just hope there will continue to be many more great albums released over the years. Luckily there's been at least a handful this decade. But there's very few albums from this decade which has that effect on me. 

Was Nas prophesizing when he boldly stated that Hip Hop was dead in 2006? No, I don't believe so - I can only hope that this is the genre's weakest moment before a proper turnaround takes place where eventually real, young artist will come back to the forefront. For me the two most important artist working in the Hip Hop field today, and this might be blasphemous to many of y'all, is Kendrick Lamar and KanYe West. Kendrick Lamar proved with "G.O.O.D. Kid, Madd City" that he was not only a virtuos technical emcee (and that is something else, if an emcee isn't among the best in some respect - why the fuck would I chose to listen to him?) that could compete with the best of the old school cats we so cherish, and he had modern music on there, he had boom bap music on there, but it was all seamless, and the way he told a story had the listener on the edge of his seat. All in all, it was fine art. And then came, "To Pimp A Butterfly" which not only avoided the sophomore jinx, it absolutely crushed it - trust me when I say that this album will be held in the same regard as many of the other classics mentioned previously in this post. From start to finish there's nothing that shouldn't be on there, it's extremely well thought-out from start to finish, from lyrical concepts (much of it very complex, requiring several listens), to flows, theatricals, excellent beats, and a very fresh originality in the music. We've heard combinations of live instrumentations and samples before, but never like this. "Butterfly" is like "There's A Riot Going On" for 2015. Lamar is a true artist, not just an emcee, but someone who cares about the art of Hip Hop, someone willing to push boundaries and elevate the state of the music and as I said that is exactly what we need.

But what about Kanye West then? Does he truly qualify as a groundbreaking artist in the same vein? In my opinion, yes he definitely does. He has a tendency to dissapear so far up his own ass all too often the last couple of years, which puts his musical output in an unfair light (both "Yeezus" and "The Life Of Pablo" had some horrible decisions). But what makes him so powerful as an artist is that he is truly passionate about his music and cherish it as art, not as a museum piece but as somehting living and breathing that represents a time and a place. And just like Lamar he dares to experiment like crazy which shows an unflinching willingness to go beyond his comort zone to try to find new expressions..This is an imporant feature of all genius musicians - had Prince, Sly Stone or Miles Davis been afraid of what the critics might think of him, they would not have revolutionezed the music world as many times as they did. To me Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" and Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" is for the reasons stated above, as well as their pure musical bliss, extremely important albums that should be seen as a template for artists for the sake of the elevation of Hip Hop. 
Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying we need records that sound like those two particular albums - I'm actually saying the opposite, we need more artists with unique styles but the common denominator need to be to expand on a stagnant genre. I'm equally impressed by Roc Marciano's "Reloaded" album and Freddie Gibbs "Pinata" LP with Madlib if we're talking about this decade (for my top 5, throw in eiher Nas' "Life is Good" or MF Grimm & Drasar's "Good Morning Vietnam" trilogy as well). But those albums as well had something that was far from the celebration of mediocricity I've been ranting about. Both Gibbs and Marciano (as are Nas and Grimm) are naturally born artists (coupled with years of training in writing and spitting) and their voices and subject matters are extremely captivating while their respective albums are cinematic and creative to the max. Add to that that they are full bodies of work, well thought out from start to finnish and present the listener on a journey inside the mind of the respective artist. 

The album is unfortunately somewhat of a dying trend in this iTunes microwave fast food consumer music world which is a shame. A single can of course be a banger but a single in the context of an excellent album that builds on it is something else entirely. And I don't fuck with the whole mixtape thing at all anymore. That's another thing that perhaps more than anything has enhanced the celebration of mediocricity. What I mean by that is that it has allowed artist to constantly put out three or four good songs mixed with all types of weak stuff that would have been better left on an harddrive. It needs to be a real special favorite of mine to even consider listening to a mixtape in this day and age for me. What happened to the classic EP? 5 tracks of the absolute best an artist had to offer, no filler, just straight heat. And for the record, I will always love Hip Hop and only wish to see it thrive and continue to grow but these are problems that I feel the need to discuss - pleace comment. Over and out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Being that I'm a jazz fanatic and all around avant garde head I think I got something for you here that you might appreciate. Bill Laswell was originally a jazz bassist with some wicked ideas who in 1979 formed his group Material together with fellow free spirited musicians Michael Beinhorn (synthesizers), Fred Maher (drums) and Martin Bisi (co-prduction and engineering). Not too many years afterwards they hooked up with musical legend and genius Herbie Hancock who had found himself in a bit of a slump with is last few records such as the ill-fated "Feets Don't Fail Me Now". He needed something radical, something that could reach the youth, and Laswell and his band thought he knew the right ingredients. So they started to work on "Furure Schock" which also featured excellent turntablist Grandmixer D.XT and the equally impressive guest musican Pete Cosey; the psychadelic guitarist in Miles' last 70's outfit who could've easily gave Hendrix a run for his money. With it's single, filled with modern syntheiszers, Herbie Hancock's virtuosity and ear for sound and Laswell's production capabilies, not to mention Grandmixer DXT's excellent turntable wizardry - heard for the very first time on a commercial single, and on an MTV single nontheless; "Rockit" is a monumental achievement in Hip Hop music and it was also the fhe first Hip Hop music video ever played on MTV. Material and Herbie Hancock would continue collaborating for a couple of more years, delivering "Sound System" and "Perfect Machine" before calling it quits. But thanks to Laswell's help he had pretty much saved Hancock's at one point failing career.

The band Material kept churning out material however, both as asolo artists and as producers of other peoples records Bill Laswell also did controversial remixes of original master tapes of Miles Davis, Bob Marley and Carlos Santana album which are actually a lot better than some might have you believe. But while Material's final album as a group was released in 1999, Laswell has continued with different groups and solo acts, but it's this final Material album that I want to discuss here today considering the immense Hip Hop homage this album is filled with. Check this....

Grandmixer DST (at one point he changed from his original D.XT so no it's not a typo) is all over this eccentric LP, and so is guest emcee Rammellzee who released several singles back in the early '80s and in 1988 dropped the album "Missionaires Moving" as part of the band Ghetto Vets. Kool Keith and Kut Masta Kurt pop up on the headnodder. Flavor Flav and DST collaborates on "Burnin'". Something very strange however is that Juggaknots appears here with their song "This Morning", here with its production credited to Laswell and Material, yet it's the exact same version as the one that appeared on Mr. Len's album the very same year. Very strange, but it's an outstanding joint nontheless - but someone need to ask either Len, Laswell, Breeze or Lady Heroine to clear this up. Prince Paul right hand man Scotty Hard appear on a joint and Bernie Worrell has some killer keyboard lines on "All That Future" At least for me, the real treat, on an album full of treats is the ambient, almost psychadelic "Temple Of The Mental" featuring Killah Priest in full "Heavy Mental" mood. Matter of fact, Priest is rhyming over a sitar and some tabla drums in a fow very similiar to the hypnotic title track on the aforementioned debut. Don't sleep on this record, even hardcore Kilah Priest and Kool Keith fans doesn't even know of it's existence! You can buy the album from iTunes or Amazon but I uploaded a three track sampler for y'all which I'm sure will make you want to cop this rare gem.

01. Killah Priest - "Temple Of The Mental"
02. Flava Flav & Grandmixer DST - "Burnin'"
03. Kool Keith & Kut Masta Kurt - "Conspiracies"


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

[Freestyle Session] Prince Rakeem, Teach & Tony D in 1991

Laze, the man behind RawDealRadio (a site which comes highly recommended) has a great collection of rare gems from old radio shows and what not. Recently he dropped something that will have fans of the Wu-Tang Clan and early Naughty By Nature salivating. Recorded on June 27, 1991, for a collecge radio station the theme is a promo for Tommy Boy as it showcases some of the new talent on their roster. Remember that this is before either Treach (or Naughty By Nature) or RZA (who was still going by Prince Rakeem by this point). 

Perhaps the most interesting thing here is Rakeem's revelation that he already has completed eight songs for his Tommy Boy debut which was supposed to be coming out soon. It's unclear whether or not the three songs from his original EP is included in that number, but my guess is that only the title track ("Oh We Love You Rakeem") would be considered an album cut. RZA has talked many times about how Tommy Boy tried to change his sound and image to have more crossover appeal so it's probably for the better that the album never happened. I can't say I wouldn't be tempted to listen to a bootleg of that unreleased material though. Either way this is a historic show, and a huge thank you goes out to Laze and Raw Deal Radio . I also want to give a shout out to Brandon of Crates Of Jr. for putting me on to this bomb and peace to Lost Tapes reader Daze for correcting me on where this show came from. The good stuff is on Side B and Side C of Laze's cassette recording, especially Side C has the real heat.

Check out the tracklist and a full stream of the three sides ripped by Laze from 103.3 WPRB Princeton.


THE UN - "The UNderstanding"

Oh shit, it's not every day a brand "new" (or rather unheard) track from the hardcore hip-hop quartet The U.N. The group consisted of high school friends Roc Marciano, Dino Brave, Mic Raw and Laku and after being "discovered" by Pete Rock who helped to put them on and get them exposure by both featuring them on his "PeteStrumentals" album as well as releaseing their two joints "Cake" and "Nothin' Lesser". The Hip Hop world took notice and they were managed and backed up by legends like Q-Tip, Alchemist, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Oddisee and in 2004 they signed the first Hip Hop deal on Carson Daly's (of MTV fame's) new independent label - imagine that. Either way the record stands as one of the finest hardcore hip-hop albums of its era, and any unreleased music from it is highly appreciated. 

Now Scott Free who used to be an intern at LOUD Records back in its heyday and worked on classics like "The Infamous..." and was also an exec on "U N Or U Out" has unleashed an unmixed and unmastered joint that didnd't make the album called "The Understanding". But we take what we can get right, and this is a dope joint so turn this mother up LOUD!! Produced by Rob "Reef" Twerlow.


More D.I.T.C. heat for us heads never sits wrong; Milano might have missed out on the recent D.I.T.C. Studios album but he has kept busy dropping heat rocks like the DJ Skizz produced digital single "Closer" / "Gotta Do It" that proved that the BX underground vet hasn't lost a step. Here he again hooks up with DJ Skizz a long with guest ecee J Bux for "Loyalty", utilizing samples and themes from the classic "Donnie Brasco" flick with Al Pacino and Johnny Deep. Milano we need a new album ASAP! Oh and in case you, like me missed it, check out Milano and Skizz take on one of the bangers from Adrian Younge's "Something About April II" called "38 Snub Nose Freesttyle". Word on the street is that Milano is about to put out an EP enitrely produced by DJ Skizz and Marco Polo so let's keep our fingers crossed!

TORII WOLF Ft. DILATED PEOPLES - "1st" (DJ Premier Remix)

Dilated Peoples and DJ Premier has been a combination to count on since at least 2000:s "Expansion Team" LP with the incredible "Clockwork", and since then everything this quartet has touched has been gold (including solo exursions like Preem's work on Evidence's "Cats & Dogs"). "1st" isn't strictly a new Dilated Peoples / DJ Premier collaboration though, but you get new verses from Ev and Rakaa over new brilliance by the Preemster. In fact "1st" is a single from Torii Wolf, a singer-songrwriter from Wantangh, New York. Not only is Wolf a unique character who defies musical boundaries, but she's also scheduled to be the first female artist to get her entire album produced by DJ Premier. Take that with a grain of salt though, because were are the NYG'z album? Where are the Nick Javas album? Where are that Nas album? Where are the Pete Rock / DJ Premier album? And so on... Well, let's just hope for the best, because it would be dope.

Anyway, Premier remixed Wolf's first single "1st" a while back and now they got Dilated Peoples to jump on it and the results are quite outstanding. Check it out for yourself; personally I absolutely love the somber piano keys, the trademark scratch and the chemistry between the three vocalists!

DISCOURSE Ft. AG - "Testimony"

I admit I am not at all familiar with Discourse but he has both produced this new AG banger called "Testimony" as well as directed the music video. Just like with his many excellent verses on the new D.I.T.C. album, here The Giant once again proves why he's one of the illest emcees of all time. Album coming mid-summer 2016 so be on the lookout and keep an eye on Close Cartel

Also check out the first single off the "Megalomaniac" proejct, once again featuring a heavy guitar driven beat, a thumping drum and bass combo and some well placed cuts. The rapper here is a UK emcee (or is he Australian) called Lazy Grey, who doesn't hold a candle to AG if we're being honest with ourselves.

Monday, June 6, 2016

MILES DAVIS / EASY MO BEE - "Blow" [New Orleans Hip Hop Remix]

Hell let's continue on this jazz trip here at The Lost Tapes with a very rare official Easy Mo Bee remix of "Blow" from Miles' final '91 album "Doo Bop". Throughout his entire career Miles never stood still, he always wanted to get involved with the stuff the young black kids listened to. Just listen to "On The Corner", "Big Fun''s "Ife" and tracks like "Calypso Frelimo" . But in early 1991 when Hip Hop was what all the hip urban radio stations was blazing Miles had a feeling he could do an excellent take on that by himself if he just had the right collaborators. He asked his friend Russel Simmons to gather up some contenders, one which was Easy Mo Bee whose work with The Genius and Big Daddy Kane really impressed him, one was Sid Reynolds, one was Public Enemy/The Bomb Squad. 

Mo Bee's audition in Miles' Manhattan apartment was filled with producers, and in his own word he beat the competition through his perfectionism - "I'm a guy with an SP-1200 sampling drum machine and an Akai 950 rack sampler. What I do is I call it creative samping, not just plain looping like a lot of the guys do. I get really, really intense with my sampling. It has a lot to do with harmonics and everything has to be in tune". In other words Mo Bee came at it from a musician's point of view rather than the regular joe with a sampler and a bunch of records. "Blow" was originally a joint created for The Genius (he was also a huge fan of GZA's "True Fresh MC"), but whose gonna turn down one of the most prolific musican of the last five decades?

"Doo Bop" received mixed criticism when it was first released, the jazz purist saw it another case of selling out (which it certainly wasn't), while some hip-hop purist was dissapointed that Mo Bee had given him rather too smooth and soulful hip-hop beats instead of the hardhitting neckbreakers. I can't find the interview new, but Mo Bee's answer was firm in that that was the type of sound Miles wanted for his album - the type of beat his horn would mesh best with, and he was most certainly right. "Doo Bop" is in fact a very underrated album - the main thing that marrs it is the two or three songs featuring horrrendous rapping by Mo Bee and his group R.I.F. Why the hell wouldn't he ask Kane or GZA do the honors? Anyway the long out of print 12" single of "Blow" features a much rougher and harder version of the song which might give you an idea how Miles would have sounded if Easy had given him his hardcore beats. It's definitely a nice piece, so check it out up top and also peep the DJ Vlad interview where the legendary producer reveals that "Doo Bop" is the greatest feat of his career!

DJ Skizz Ft. Your Old Droog - "Listen to Jazz"

Following up on my review of Robert Glasper's dopeness that is "Everything's Beautiful" here's some more beautiful Jazz/Hip Hop fusion for your ears. DJ Skizz is one of the illest doing it on an underground level at the moment if you ask me, and here he hooks up with Your Old Droog over a jazzy beat to remind listeners of the greatness of the one and only music that's at least equally dope as the Hip Hop we all love. I must admit I used to have a bit of a problem with Your Old Droog considering the constant Nas comparisions, something that was very easy to make, but the more I hear from him the more convinced I am that he's actually a dope emcee that's partly very influenced by early Nas and partly born with a very similiar voice and vocal inflictions. Eith way with a track like this beautiful "Listen to Jazz" I definitly have no hard feelings!

[Review] ROBERT GLASPER / MILES DAVIS - "Everything''s Beautiful"

I've been a huge fan of Miles Davis for about 10 years now but for the last year or so I've been on a trip like crazy; almost exclusivey listenig to him (or at least jazz, but more Miles than any other jazz artist), which is why The Lost Tapes has been sort of lacking lately. I've been buying rare box sets, buying his regular albums and pretty much listening to everything he recorded between 1945 and 1991 until my collection now contains about 120 CD:s. Without a doubt Miles was the king of Jazz, but that word was also something he absoutely despised meaning that it was a white-man's word trying to box in black people and their music into. Sure at one time he played BeBop with Charlie Parker, Hardbop with Coltrane and his first great quintet before basically throwing out the rule book and abandoning chord changes in favor of modal transitions with his so called second great quintet (with Hancock, Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Wayne Shorter). But it was from 1968 to 1975 that he discouraged his old school fans by leaving what people had come to expect from jazz artist when he started incorporating electronic instruments, playing top-notch jazz solos over heavy bass vamp more influencced by Sly Stone, George Clinton and Hendrix than by Dexter Gordon. The music from this period STILL sounds ahead of his time. Don't believe me? Pop in "Agharta" or "Pangaea" in your disc player, or "On the Corner" and "Get Up With It" and marvel how ahead of time this cat was already back then. This period (1968-1975) is mostly the era that Glasper has focused his sampling techniques on in building a new album from so it doesn't hurt to be aware of the original LP:s, although it does stand on its own legs as a legit album as well.

But first a word on jazz in the 2000s - is it dead, or does it just smell funny to quote Frank Zappa? As a hardcore jazz fanatic, Robert Glasper is one of the few artists I feel actually has something new to conribute to the genre and keeps it alive. From his accoustic trio piano recordngs on Blue Note to his fusion records with his Experiment band there has always been powerful and original music there (can't forget his excellent contributions to records by Q-Tip and Yasiin Bey amongst others either). There's a few others as well; I was extremely fond and proud of Kamasi Washington's "The Epic", an ablum that I feel can match the great explorative classics of the late '60s and early '70s. Of course both Glasper, Kamasi Washington, as well as bassist Thundercat, alternative producer Flying Lotus, saxophonist Terrence Martin, trumpet player Josef Leimberg,  played a large part in the creation of 2015's best album, Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly". And also read this great article about the album and it's heavy jazz and hip-hop fusion and why it works so well. Again, huge props to Kendrick for daring to make a modern jazz/funk album in 2015.

So not with that out of the way, let's get back to "Everything's Beautiful", a phrase spoken by Miles during a previously unhead session chatter. Glasper was given access to Columbia's original unedited tapes from Miles' 50's, '60's and '70's session, but unlike the similiar deal Madlib received from Blue Note for his brilliant LP "Shades Of Blue" this is not a remix album per se at all. Instead Glasper has created an original album heavily built around Miles samples that might work best as an homage to one of his musical heroes. And as such it mostly does it's job really well. To be honest, I was slightly intimitated to listen to this project at firstconsidrering my enormous respect for Miles and his legacy, and though I'm a big fan of Glasper I must admit I was a bit worried how it all was going to work out. After all there's been a few shitty Davis remix EP:s over the years (and I'm not talking about Bill Laswell's joint). Luckily, I needed not to worry at all - for the most part this is an excellent homage that I think Miles, who was always with the new black/"hip" involvements in music, would truly like. 

The project came to fruition as director/producer of the "Miles Ahead" movie, Don Cheadle, asked for Glasper's services in laying down the score for the film which was soon to be released. The jazz pianist and producer, being a fan of the man for years, didn't hesitate but once the score was finished he felt unfulfilled - hence the concept for "Everything's Beautiful" was born. It's billed as a collaboration between Glasper and Miles, which is certainly is not. As I said before it's more of an homage; in an interview Glasper talked about his vision for the proejct was to sample various parts of Miles and build tracks around that - and we're not talking about his unmistakable trumpet sound, in fact there's only one or two songs that actually make use of that beautiful trumpet sound. Many tracks are simply jazzy hip-hop that might sample Miles voice from unreleased studio rehearsals, others might be built around a sample from one of his sidemen's performance on a classic Miles record as is the case of the beautiful "Violets" (featuring an amazing performance by Phonte) who makes use of a Bill Evan's piano sample from "Blue in Green" (1958). Still this is not a put down, because the album is actually very good although with it's multiple guest and little Miles it feels more like another "Black Radio" LP, which is not a bad thing as it's just as good as it's two predecessors. If not even slightly better - the spirit of Miles has that power. 

To me, this is an album that you can play from front to back but my favorite joints is the introduction "Talking Shit" which goes into "Ghetto Walking". They are connected as the intro features the Miles part of the rehearsal of the excellent "Ghetto Walking" (recorded for "In A Silent Way"; considered for "On The Corner"; but ultimately not released until 2001 on "The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions"). One of the most revealing lines here is how Miles tell his drummer (Joe Chambers) to play “some kind of pulse that goes on all the time, that doesn’t sound like ‘ting-ta-ting’” — a disparaging nod to a swinging ride cymbal pattern — in favor of a loop that “doesn’t break, and it doesn’t sound corny.” Already back then he was looking for a hip-hop type of beat, something he woul continue exploring on "On The Coner" (1972) and to full effect on "Doo Bop" with Easy Mo Bee right before his death. Therefore it sounds great when Glasper, who's acting much more like a producer than as a pianist on this LP, adds a banging hip-hop drum pattern to the original "Ghetto Walkin'" music and it sounds blazing hot - especially with an excellent performance by Bilal over the music. Speaking of singers, Miles always made instrumental music for 99% of his career but "Everything's Beautiful" features a wide array of singers and rappers like Illa J, Erykah Badu, Phonte (who I once again must give props for his amazing performance here), Georgia Anne Muldrow and even Stevie Wonder turns up to give his respect on the beautiful album closer "Right On Brotha". The only one who actually played in one of Miles' bands on both stage and is guitarist John Scofield thouh he is left with one of the weaker tracks which feels like a missed opportunity.

Without a doubt the best song on the album is "Mayisha", one of Miles' last songs before his semi-retirement in 1975. Glasper's production and sample library of the original master tapes captures the essence of the track without making a carbon-copy of the track in question. Add to that the beautiful vocals of Erykah Badu and most importantly she actually gets a chance to duet with Miles wah-wah infused trumpet, and it sounds like they were in the studio together laying it down together. I'm sure Miles would've loved Erykah and would be proud of this joint. Even Glasper comes out from his proudcer chair to lay down a little solo. This is terrific music and would work as a great introduction to any of the three artists for the uninitated. The Georgia Anne Muldrow / Glasper rendition of "Milestones" is pretty damn fly too to say the least.

It's not a perfect album by any means, but when you got the name Miles Davis in the title and marketing promotion you have uneccessary pressure on you. I might have loved it had been released a simply a Robert Glasper album because I have really liked his output so far and this is no exception. So buy it, but don't expect a Miles Davis album, but as a Robert Glasper it's probably a 4/5 album. But with the presentation as a joint collaboration I can't give it much more than 3/5; 3.5/5 absolute tops. But it's the music that counts, right, so I'd still recommend it but I stand by that it was a bad marketing move. You can stream the album via Spotify below to make up your own mind. If you dig it as much as I do - purchase a copy on iTunes or Amazon.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

[Instrumental EP] 9th Wonder - "Zion"

9th Wonder has been on my radar since his excellent work for Jay-Z ("Threat"), Sean Price ("Heartburn"), The Little Brothers and then some, and though he has dopped some hit and misses throughout the years he's definitely's producer you need to check out on his credentials alone. His latest project is called "Zion", and just like excellent instrumental hip-hop artists like K-DEF, Klaus Layer and Flying Lotus to name a few. 

And good news for instrumental hip-hop heads like myself, the 36 track hefty "Zion" is just the first volume on a lot of upcoming 9th Wonder instros to come. ""I hope to release every beat I’ve ever made over the next few years, ... Some unfinished, some ideas, some of my favorites, etc. They can’t just sit around, so this ZION series will be used for that. I’m letting them all go." 9th wold Mass Appea Magazine recently. So what you're waiting for, press play below, close your eyes and start banging your head.


[Comp] FREDDIE GIBBS - "Volume One: The Guest Spots"

Last week I saw Freddie Gibbs perform  a blazing 90 minutes set ar KB (Kulturbolaget), Malmö, Sweden. No hype-man, only a DJ at the back and his mic presence was nothing short of incredible. A true emcee if I ever saw one - with no bling and other stuff distracting from the music Gibbs gave his best performing in only jeans and a white Tee, and the setlist was absolutely terrific. The Gary gangster performed outsanding versions of some of his best tracks from "Pianta","ESGN", "Shadow Of A Doubt", "The Miseducation..." and some of his iller guest spots. Since I am, even in this day and age, an album guy, I didn't truly get into Gangsta Gibbs unti his modern day classic "Pinata" (2012) with Madlib. While Gibbs gruff voice and gangster mannerism and thuglife boasting isn't really nothing new, he does it with same conviction as 2Pac and legends of that stature and there's never a case in which you don't believe him. Then you enter his current muical partner Madlib which he did the entire "Pinata" album with and the marriage between 'Lib's sunny soulful, chopped up sample goodies has never been attacked by an emcee in such a manner before - making "Pianata" a truly original album that will be regarded as a classic a couple of years from now. 

The night included material from his early mixtapes, his mini-albms, his two real LP:s and then some, and through the years Gangsta Gibbs has popped up everywhere as an impeccable guest features on some hard hitting beats by the likes of Alchemist, Just Blaze, Statik Selektah, Madlib (including the cherished B-sides from the "Pinata" LP) and more. There's no denying that Gangsta Gibbs is one of the more interesting and original artist to emerge out of this decade, having released an album with Madlib that's about as dope as "Madvillain"was in 2004. Gibbs is also one of the rare breeds who's at home with a multitude of different styles - he can get busy over soulful, obscure sampe chops, banging West Coast bangers, NY bom bap type beats, Trap beats and then some. I can't think of any other artists who can handle that entire range of modern hip-hop with that kind of authority - another aspect that makes him one of the greatest doing ir right now. And this live concert was ample proof that Gibbs is not only a great studio artist but an all-around great artist, both on and off stage.

Following the combination of "Pianata" and this outstanding concerts there was no doubt i my mind that there was time for a Freddie Gibbs compilation here at The Lost  Tapes, something I've been meaning for a long time anyway. This 20 tracks compilation mainly focuses on Gibb's guest spots, a few B-sides and remixes from the Madlib sessions, as well as the single "Freddie Soprano" which is just too dope to sleep on. It's very likely you'll find a Volume 2 here @ The Tapes in a couple of week or so, but this is the real deal so turn out, tune in and DROP OUT.... and don't forget to TURN IT wUP!!

01. "Freddie Soprano"
02. "Deep" (w. Madlib)
03. "Cocaine Parties in L.A." (w. Madlib)
04. "Home" (Ft. BJ The Chicago Kid) (w. Madlib)
05. "Scottie Pippens" (Ft. Prodigy & Alchemist)
06. "Till Three Angels Come" (Ft. Prodigy, Domo Genesis & Alchemist)
07."Pimp Hand" (w. The Purist)
08. "Clap" (w. Mr. Green, Chill Moody & Apollo The Great)
09."Break It Down" (w P-Money & Fashawn)
10. "Make It Out Alive" (Ft. Statik Selektah & Termanology)
11. "The Return" (Ft. Danny Brown)
12. "God Damn!" (Ft. Reks)
13. "Who's That" (w. Apollo Brown & Maffew Ragazino)
14. "Gunnin' For The Throne" (Ft. A-Villa, elZhi, Naledge & Vic Spencer)
15. "Illegal" (w. Ski Beatz)
16. "Terrorist"
17. "Bugatti Bullet Holes" (w. Vanderslice)
18. "Built For This" (Ft. Method Man & StreetLife)
19. "Carry On" (Ft. Joey Bada$$ & Statik Selektah)
20. "Remember" (Ft. SEAN PRICE)