Just how do you get ahead of the competition in the mainstream dance-pop market? That’s the trick isn’t it? Pitch a sound and a style that is too radical, too out there and whilst you will pick up a few new fans from the fringes and underground scenes, you risk loosing the main target audience. Create a sound which is too similar to the centre of the fashion curve and you risk being lost in the noise of the competition, or worse brandished a copycat act trading on a sound already associate with more established artists.
The clever thing about the enigmatic A.C. is that whilst he very much appeals to the late evening, high – octane dance groove set, he also manages to bring something new to the sound. That the song is infectious goes without saying but with its wonderful use of dynamics to shift the pace and control the mood, it displays a subtle and supple quality that many of his peers lack. Put it this way, in a busy club land district of the hottest scene in town, with music blasting from the venue doorways out into the night time streets, the streets filled with the young, hip and fashionable, this song is going to be the one that draws the coolest movers and shakers to that club’s dance floor. Some music hooks you, some is addictive, Too Good For You is nothing less than contagious.
Rig Veda is a talented artist with a forward-thinking approach to electronic music. His sound is lush, atmospheric and dense, focusing on creating stunning melodic patterns and sophisticated rhythmic layers. Rig Veda’s recent release is an EP titled “Hymn In The Cut”. The project actually features five original compositions, which highlight the artist’s diverse approach, stretching out towards different creative direction. The sound of these tracks make me think of artists as diverse as Flying Lotus or Jon Hopkins, just to mention a few.
The mellow, haunting atmospheres of these songs certainly make for a fully immersive listening experience, taking the audience through a sonic journey, where many unexpected elements collide tastefully and beautifully. From swirly synth arpeggios to pad drones and cool drum samples, the songs on “Hymn In The Cut” are all about creating deep and far-reaching sonic ambiance to get lost in! The stunning cover artwork of the EP is an example of classy, tasteful visual minimalism,and it certainly fits well within this particular musical context.
I seem to have been bombarding recently with whole raft of bands that fall into the broad hip-hop/rap spectrum and who claim to be really pushing the boundaries of what the genre can be as we move forward into a new era. Most, however, have been the sonic equivalent of dropping a hand grenade into the middle of the listener’s expectations and then trying to rearrange the debris into new and pleasing shapes. Sure, you really shake things up, and then some, but you also find that the result is normally, well…a total disaster.
LouKnew has a much more consistent approach. Insanity is the sound of urban music being intensified, inwardly focused, distilled to its essentials and then used to build a dark rap meets dystopian hip-hop sound…now there’s a new concept. The beat and bounce of the music has enough groove to satisfy the mainstream but it is the back streets that he wanders, collecting unexpected musical details and re-appropriating other genres that make him stand apart from his chart-focused competition. He blends trippy electronica, pulsing beats and bass lines, found sounds and fairly progressive structures into his dark urban groove.
A lot of modern hip hop production is homogenous. Beats may vary but they remain at the same tempos, with the same swing and syncopations. Kylerr has just the track to shake things up with Black Rose. Produced by Lord Rico, this song provides an almost seasick amount of sway in a slow, soft track that will have you feeling all sorts of ways. First of all, it’s hard to imagine someone not moving to this. That isn’t to call it a dance track. Far from it, we’ve got a song with some dark themes surrounding the pains of love.
The drums still feel tight and just about ready for a trap set, but the bass boasts a vintage aesthetic in a mostly open feeling mix. The openness isn’t emptiness though, it’s breathing room. This is a song that ruminates in itself. It’s disheveled and it’s broken and it’s maybe had too much to drink. To describe a song like this as opposed to an artist is definitely a good thing. Kylerr is a versatile front man for presenting a mixture of moods and this song embraces a sort of isolated feeling that often gets lost in hip hop playlists. Black Rose stands out in the bouquet and that’s a very good quality.
Music makes us feel things. It distills emotions in ways that we can’t always communicate. Combined with direct lyrics, it can hold layers of text and subtext that dance around each other in otherworldly ways. Torenzo is an artist familiar with the hustle of life and the determination that it requires to keep going. Gotta Stay Strong is more than a fairly straightforward set of lyrics. It’s a delivery with impact. It’s a beat that plays gently in your ear. It’s a song that understands and respects the listener for connecting through struggle.
Torenzo understands that a big part of being the voice of his music means vulnerability. He allows us to communicate as if he’s in the room with us, and this is a fantastic method of making a song special. This isn’t a song that you can be alone with. It’s a dialogue between what the artist and listener are feeling. This could inspire people, or at the very least let them know that they aren’t alone. Every now and then, this is the most important thing an artist can do with their music. Gotta Stay Strong is the reason we love music. We need to feel each other in dark times and this song reaches out to take the initiative for us and begin the conversation.
Clarity is an apt title both thematically and literally for this track. Literally because the clean, cerebral production makes every layer of this carefully crafted late night tale a joy to listen to.
Thematically because Dane has put down in words something most of us will experience at some point. Drunkenly realising that it just isn’t going to work with that girl.
Perhaps this is a recurring theme in Dane’s life, “thank god I was faded” hints at a defensive edge to the track. Which would be right. The track moves at a consistently slow pace, never releasing some of the tension it builds.
It’s a jaded, late-night slow burner that would be at home at any afterparty once the concotion of drugs and booze have sent everyone “down the rabbit hole”.
Hopefully the themes this track brings up aren’t too relatable but if we are being a bit “jaded” then I would say they are.
Sometimes it takes a few listens to a song before you can fully formulate a full opinion on it. Other times, you can feel a song as soon as the first notes pump from the speakers. Slow Down by DEE WP is the latter and it doesn’t disappoint once the song gets going. These are powerful verses from a thoughtful voice and a beat that brings you along for the ride even if you’re not feeling the heavy vibes contained.
With a gorgeous string outro, this song shows the power of thematic instrumentals in a way that we don’t always get to see outside of the greats and some of hip hop’s classic artists. Here’s an artist who isn’t here to brag to you, but humbly delivers a message with remarkable talent. Without much flash, it’s possible that this song could get overlooked. We need to remember the power music can have when we’re alone. When the party’s over and lying in bed and we want to connect with something, DEE WP is the kind of artist that should come to mind. Look him up when you feel a need to Slow Down.
Have you ever met someone who can’t vibe with a party without a 40 in at least one hand? Meet the leader of these people, mid Twelve. Now your pre-gaming set can have its own audible bottles with the song 40. Produced by Alexx, this song combines deep kicks and tight snares with just enough atmosphere to keep you entranced without getting seasick.
Mid Twelve is an artist who isn’t trying to rap too quickly or sing too dynamically. He’s cool and collected through his verses, even while delivering threats of violence to those who’d step at him. This is an artist who moves through and explores a theme and what better theme to dive into than those magical bottles that make the night worth having for so many people. After hearing this song, grab a 40 and hit repeat. You’ll want to be in the spirit in the way it’s meant to be heard. This isn’t product placement, but it still feels vaguely effective. Advertisers, this artist is doing the work for you! Hit up mid Twelve and give credit where it’s due. I may need one myself after writing this…
Some performers simply try to provide some entertainment to their audience. Others, on the other hand, really love to share a deeper meaning through their art.
This is certainly the case of Ace A Caped Crusader – an artist with a really special and unique approach. His recent release, Tasnim’s Interlude, is more than just a rap song. In fact, it could be easily described as a spoken word track. The melodies, provided by a beautifully textural background track where electric guitars and percussion interact, is all about providing a lush and atmospheric backdrop for this artist’s compelling voice.
His lyrics are personal, insightful and inspiring, going for a soothing, smooth, yet powerful vocal tone. On Tasnim’s Interlude, Ace A Caped Crusader set out to show off his insightful lyricism and visionary word flow, going for a very mellow, yet vibrant rhythm expanding and evolving throughout the track.
On this song, the artist exposes himself with no fear of revealing his most intimate side or deeper feelings. This is a perfect example of what happens when hip-hop and poetry come together, making for a creative, personal and emotional musical journey.
Music about music is a tradition of popular culture. In hip hop, music about the musician is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. To allow a look past your persona and be vulnerable can ruin your image as a badass, a gangsta, a force of nature or whatever deity Kanye West is sitting by the pool with. For Blak Ace, we’re treated to a reminder that inspirational messages tied into vulnerability can bring a greater sense of character in a powerful way. My Passion is a track that’s about music and the musician. The relationship between art and artist doesn’t have to be abstract. It doesn’t have to focus solely on struggles and sorrows. Black Ace finds that music is worth whatever it takes and is willing to give himself to it for the sake of the life music gives back. Moreover, this song encourages others.
Anyone who can’t get past the notion that hip hop is about selfishness, aggressiveness and general thuggery needs to open their ears. Blak Ace is not the first, nor will he be the last, to understand that music has power and that power can change people. Spreading messages of following ones dreams and living their passions to the fullest doesn’t sound like the bad influence scapegoat that hip hop has become to so many parents. In fact, one of the best qualities of My Passion is that it teaches pride in oneself and belief in a time when people aren’t always ready to follow their dreams. Today, we need more artists like Blak Ace.