Rick Ross “911” music video.
Nardwuar probably works harder than most up-and-coming rappers; he certainly networks more. If you’re not familiar, he has an eccentric and unconventional interview style where he digs up obscure tidbits from an artist’s past and their taste in music. Really interesting stuff.
Here he is kicking it with Preemo about James Brown, Gang Starr, and his extensive vinyl knowledge. And if you like what you see, check out his interviews with Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y, Action Bronson, and Young Jeezy.
Every now and then you come across a group like K.L.U.B. Monsta that goes out of their way to represent their hometown to the fullest. In this interview, they tell us why it’s important to maintain hometown love and how they have evolved.
CG: How did you guys get your name?
Air Talley: We went through various names for the group. We started off with “Monsters, Inc”; inspired from the movie Monsters, Inc and then we moved to “Monsta”. Finally, Kel and I decided to go with “K.L.U.B. Monsta”. “K.L.U.B.” means “Knowledge Learned Under Birmingham”. However, the “monsta” means that everything we do is vicious; the lyrics, handling the mic, the flow, the performances. It’s not that we’re from the streets, but when it comes to our craft – we are monstas. The “K.L.U.B.” part brings out the concept of how we complement each other and our brotherhood.
CG: You guys complement each well. How did you meet?
Kel: Joshua, Air Tally and I went to the same high school together (Holy Family) and the rest is history. We would freestyle and Air Talley and I would pass raps around to each other. Joshua really didn’t get into music until after we graduated. He [Joshua] got on a couple of songs with us and then we met J. Dotta through a mutual producer. Pretty much after that, we all linked up together.
CG: How important is Birmingham as an influence to your music?
Kel: I think it’s real important. We have a lot of artists make it from the state [Alabama], but not from Birmingham. When you look at the history of Birmingham, dealing with the civil rights movement and the things going on, you can see just how rich our history is. There’s a lot of slang that we use that refers back to our city.
CG: You guys use Tig Knight to shoot your videos and local Birmingham producers. How important is the loyalty to the talent in Birmingham?
J. Dotta: With the status of where we are currently at, it is very important to use Birmingham talent. We have a lot of talent that is being overshadowed by stereotypes. We want to venture out and build on what we have, but loyalty means a great deal to us. We make good music so if someone can help us with our sound, then we can work together. If there is anybody out there that we can help get out there, then we are going to help.
CG: How do you feel about the current state of hip hop in Alabama?
Jousha: It’s growing and has been for a while. There are a lot of talented people here from different genres and with diverse sounds. You can see it range from Alabama Shakes to G-side. It’s a lot of good music here to go around.
CG: The name of the mixtape is Separate but Sequel. Jim Crow was about separation within the South. With you having a unique Southern sound, do you feel like there is a Jim Crow mentality amongst hip hop?
Air Talley: We know that we are different and unique. Our community is yearning for what we bring to the table. When we make a song about the struggle and the Black experience, we’re going to come unorthodox. We knew we were going to fly under the radar, but I feel that we get great reception. We don’t talk about bricks or any clichés; we step out of the box.
CG: How did you guys hook up with DJ Burn One?
Jousha: We recorded with B-flax and he [DJ Burn One] had done projects with him. Because of that relationship, we were able to reach out to Burn and get on Blvd Street.
CG: “Office Space” is one of my favorite tracks off of the mixtape. Do you feel some mainstream artists need to “put in their two-week notice”?
Kel: You got to work to get into the studio. You gotta go out there to get your dreams.
CG: This question is also for you Kels. I have watched all of your videos and looked at all of your group photos and artwork. Why you always looking sad, bro?
Kel: (laughing) Man, that’s just my demeanor. You have to get to know me. I’m actually the comedian of the group. Since you said that, for our next video, I promise that I will be all smile and giggles.
CG: O.k., I’m going to hold you to that. How did you guys feel about getting featured on “Bump in the Whip” section of Dead End Hip Hop?
Jousha: I search different blogs and I have great respect for you guys. You guys have great discussions. The one on Big Krit really won me over. I love what you guys do for hip hop. You do more than post music and help to break artists. We thank you guys for the opportunity. We want to take the time to thank you and all the people who have listened to the new mix tape.
Just a writeup on Royalty to tide you guys over until the official review drops. Solely opinion, not stare decisis.
Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, annoys me to no end as a rapper.
My dislike of his music always confuses me, considering how great his sketch comedy and further acting roles on “Community” and other various shows has been. Glover’s quirky, spastic persona makes whatever comedic soup he temporally resides in boil over in side-clenching excess, and his abilities in a leading role never falter. He’s great… whenever a script and a camera are involved.
Whenever he’s stuck with a mic and his blackberry, well… he’s just a douchebag. I never understood how other people considered his nasally, falsetto register, puerile sense of humor, constant barrage of punchlines and misplaced chauvinism as a great alternative to the normal hip hop routine. Its the exact same thing, he just has the technical ability to put it together.
Sure, if he were playing a character of a raging asshat of a rapper, he would be spot on! He’d be the thinking man’s Lil B, but his frequent bouts of self-pity insinuate how serious Gambino is about what he produces, and quite frankly it gets on my nerves. “Oh no, look at me, I’m a black guy with a college degree, despised by other black guys my age for being myself and misunderstood by everybody else. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.”
Give me a fucking break, the same applies to Tutankhamen, Kunta Kente, Gustavas Vassa, MLK, Malcolm X, Basquiat, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Prince, Black Thought, Drake, Kanye West, Steve Urkel, President Obama… the list goes on.
I do, however, give major props on his consistency in producing his music. That IS his sole claim to unique flavor besides his extracurricular accomplishments. And although I can give or take his singing, it is by many standards very good. Its more of a personal preference, so no harm done unless Drake-level panty-dropping crooning comes into play.
But Royalty really takes my disdain on the chin. The mixtape Gambino put out not only has all the parts I normally groan about, but for some reason I like it. A lot. From the beats to the rhymes to the great features to the Tina Fey, there’s not much here for me to “hate.”
The first thing that caught my attention were the beats. Gambino’s usually on his music theory harpsichord-strings-bird-chirps-and-dog-whistles ish, the sort of stuff that seems more ambitious than necessary, although I commend him for it as said before. But from the sharp repeating two-tone synth and atom-shattering bass on “One Up,” the raspy, triumphant horns of the Hypnotic Brass Orchestra on “American Royalty” to the Parkinsons-riddled sample on “RIP,” Gambino proves that he’s coming into his own as a producer. And yes, its a more appealing sound, but its a post-album mixtape. These beats are designed for vibing and lyrical destruction.
And lets not overlook the inclusion of other people’s production, which adds a nice mix into the palette: there’s the swelling production by Boi-1da on “Black Faces,’ some tried-and-true Ghostface soul by Myke Murda (handled by Pretty Toney himself) on “It May Be Glamour Life” and two friggin’ Beck cuts, one of which, “Bronchitis,” takes unnerving, ethereal production to another level. I consider it as great experience for him; he’s not taking a break, just getting cultured.
So now the rhymes. Oh the rhymes. I think to put it in easy terms, its like he gave me seedless watermelon rap- no pockets of hard, useless detritus to spit out, just cut it open and eat the juicy goodness (pause… what the hell was that?). He sets it off on “We Ain’t Them” with a great recap of his past year: “I’m fuckin’ round with the truth/went to see the Roots/Quest brought me back on stage in a suit,” and then asserts his position as a black trendsetter, I suppose, on “Black Faces”: “League of my own, Swag Geena Davis/only rapper make a 100K on your playlist/nigga talk on twitter but in life they don’t say shit/my rollies so racist, all black faces.” The rest of the album mainly follows suit in him talking more braggadocious verses, but not to the point of cringeworthy eye-rolling. (Remember “She’s an overachiever/ All she does is suck seed”? Yeah, none of that here.)
Aside from “Unnecessary,” where the Black Hippy duo overdo it for me with their new-found nihilistic aggression, Gambino and his guests provide really nice bars. Standouts include the two-track Wu fest with RZA and Ghostface just up and robbing his shit for five straight minutes (and plus, when was the last time we had an actual RZA verse?), Beck’s spectacularly esoteric musings about centrifugal force and whatnot on “Silk Pillow,” and Danny Brown who goes the fuck IN on “Toxic.” Man, his verse is such a rush of ignorance and nonsense, but its so damn good.
Plus, Gambino does his best trying to stay in line with his guests, succeeding the most on “Real Estate,” his six-minute brag about Georgia, where his homies Alley Boy, Swank, and Tina Fey get baseball bats and break fool’s kneecaps while he stands in the background, rubbing his hands Birdman style.
OK I’m exaggerating a bit but… shit was mad exciting.
I probably like this mixtape so much because of how ready I was to hate it. He toned down his self-pity and got deep about real trauma and life situations, like the death of his aunt, his cousin’s AIDS and, if I’m to be mistaken, the upcoming birth of his baby girl. He still brags, but for some reason it feels way more on point and way less bloated that usual, as if he has a more humble core. This is, to me, a dope mixtape through and through.
But I’m aware that this might be the only time I’d say that from his work. Most true Gambino have had mixed opinions about that (mixed meaning “not pleasant,”) and chances are he’ll be back on his nerdy-and-nasty bag of tricks soon. But until then, “we fuckin’ up the hardwood, homie.”
Man… the only reason why I decided to review this mixtape was because of the seductive cover, and that was the high point. Downtown Lights features Ghostwridah, a rapper so immediately similar to other artists, yet stubbornly unoriginal in the process.
He may really care about the abused and downtrodden females on “Lost and Found,” but just like Drake, that still leaves tons of room for using up bitches wholesale on every track before it. While he makes an obscure theological plea on “Father Forgive Em,” just like Rick Ross, any religious references simply become sprinkled atop more carnal fare- “money, hoes, cars, clothes,” as Charlemagne the God puts it on the opening skit.
Even the flows seem oddly carbon copied from other rappers, like the way he uses Drake’s breathless flow from “Look What You’ve Done” on his ode to weed “Smoke It All Away.” And its not to blame Ghostwridah due to his similarities to the YMCMB member (as he’s nowhere near soft and cuddly enough), but its a near-A$AP Rocky level of blatant fundamental scavenging that makes his music feel like such a digital beaten path. If anything, “Smoke It All Away” happens to be his most lyrical song despite involving a worn-out topic, and the song before it, “I’m On,” wins solely for that Alicia Keys sample.
But between how self-obsessed Ghostwridah is about his rapping abilities (and he even points out that he had a punchline in his previous verse mid-rhyme. What?!), how boilerplate his “I’m a former drug dealer who loves his momma, hates the cops, has the city on my back and just happened to rap” backstory is, or just how bad some of the features are, especially Stoney J’s milk-curdling verse, he doesn’t truly leave much value to this project outside of a bump in the whip and some club-friendly instrumentals. Oh, and the album cover’s still pretty nice. It’s just as borrowed, but still.
As a child, I grew up watching Saturday Night Live and In Living Color. These shows helped me understand what parodies, spoofs and satires were. I was also a huge fan of the brilliance behind “Weird Al” Yankovic and his parodies about pop culture and music. However, there was always one rule about parodies…everyone knew it was poking fun at a bigger issue. The irony of satirical videos is that sometimes the viewers can’t distinguish the fact from fiction. In the case of hip hop, I see something similar occurring.
I recently ran across a video called “The Baddest” by an artist named Krispy Kreme. In the video, he boasts about beating people up, grinding harder than Jay-Z, flirting with Beyoncé and bragging about his 400 houses and “mouses”. He does all of this while him and his Mac Miller sidekick is armed with guns while he rocks his trademark snotty nose throughout the video. Surprisingly, this song was featured on Worldstar Hip Hop and has received over 200,000 views. I actually enjoyed the song (yes, I really did) and I commend him for keeping the track clean (even if he didn’t do that for his nose).
After watching the video, I was left with two unanswered questions:
- Is this a true reflection of what hip hop is portraying to its viewers?
- How can a parody video receive more attention than other music videos?
Guns, violence, bragging and “making out with every girl in the world” seem to be a consistent theme in most Billboard charting hip hop videos. Some may say that Krispy’s view is only on mainstream videos, whereas others say that the video doesn’t speak for all of hip hop.
As an artist, I know how much money it costs to produce a project. Purchasing tracks, studio time, gas for road shows and promotions/marketing is a lot of money (if you’re actually working hard…which is another subject). Can you imagine putting all that hard work into a conceptual video and dropping it on YouTube only to receive less than 1,000 views? Imagine how it feels to see someone make a parody of the same video you just did and become a YouTube sensation.
Has society gotten to the point where the satirical aspects of hip hop are more entertaining and respected than hip hop itself? Are artists like Krispy Kreme becoming the standard of what hip hop is? Was the movie “CB4” a prophecy of what was to come in hip hop? I enjoy a good joke, but if this is a future of hip hop, I’m not laughing.
This is a review I wrote for a friend a back when Take Care dropped in 2011. It was the first time I sat down and listened to an entire Drake project. Prior to that I had only heard singles, and didn’t really enjoy any of them except “Over.” If you disagree with me, that’s entirely fine, but at least enjoy the review for what it is.
On November 15, 2011, Drake will place his golden goblet down on his Austrian imported coffee table, slip on his goose down slippers, and descend from the Epicurean city of excess with his latest project, Take Care. The essence of a million virgins shall be stolen by opportunistic frat boys, and the sex-addled minds of women everywhere shall delight in the bounty of wet dream jams that their saint has adorned them with. In a nutshell, Drake shall leave a trail of moist panties and softly broken hearts along the yellow bricked road that is his career.
And excuse me for slightly describing my preconceived disdain for Drizzy’s music- its simply that this new breed of “soap opera rap” (as he himself coined it on the track Headlines) does not wash over my musical palette without him leaving a considerable aftertaste of arrogance and an unnerving bipolar approach to women. Although Drake certainly seems to be a genuine emotional person if not a bit eccentric in his expression (lavender-scented showers, anyone?). Regardless, there was something for me to delight in on this album.
First and foremost were the beats. I am admitting a dearth of knowledge of his previous work, but as far as this project’s case, there seems to have been a conscious effort in acquiring high-quality instrumentals that add to his message, rather than simply provide a backdrop. The track “Crew Love” has a swirling, cavernous feel to it, and this pulsating, glassy sample adds a nice touch. The titular track, which features an underused Rihanna feature, has a dancehall-esque bass rhythm garnished with piano and live drums. While annoying at this point, “Marvin’s Room” still objectively merits from these cacophonous screeching sounds in the background, the swooning synth, and those nice bass stabs.
Despite Nicki Minaj’s presence on “Make Me Proud,” simply put that beat still goes hard (and frankly she was OK). And it took a while for me to come around on this one, but the Just Blaze sculpture on “Lord Knows” has to be one the best commercial beats this year, not to talk of being a great single later on down the promotion line. I love how the initial sample swirls round and round until swelling into an emphatic choral refrain accompanied band-style drums. And the beat goes straight laxative when Rick Ross bosses up the joint. It is truly gorgeous. And even if a beat failed to stand out among the herd, it at least kept with the consistent tone of the album and was by no means crap.
In a distant second were the lyrics. Now, let me preface this by saying that it is damn near impossible for me to critique the numerous sections on the album where Drake sings. Because that would be like a fifteen-year old girl enjoying The Expendables. They’re simply these overdrawn R&B stereotypes inflated to their breaking point and delivered with the sultry voice, crooning women into climax. Slow jam is not a good enough terminology for the concoctions that bears his name. Thankfully, he does not “Drake” on every song, and provides a compelling slew of rap songs accessible by those who want them. He’s got the flow, and on a lazy day, I would let “Headlines” or “We’ll Be Fine” bump in the whip.
The topics he discusses are quite varied, ranging from women, how his fame has attracted women, how he can’t settle down with some women, how he raps for women, and how many women he womens while womenning in Womendom. This cavalcade of sexy time, life’s pleasures, and paper-thin emotional display is to be expected like snow in the winter. But I still cannot shake my innate feelings on his approach. I mean come on, for a guy who wants to save women to also claim that “he can’t trust these hos” or the fact that he like girls who “practice” with other guys, isn’t there something uneven about that profile? He pretends to be the suave sweater-laden rapper who understands women, but then quickly objectifies women when it seems right. Cognitive dissonance is the bullshit I am calling here.
Overall, the album is not really expanding to any new territories save for the production. I suppose if you wanted this album, you would’ve had it by now. If anything, “Make Me Proud” and “Lord Knows” are songs that we can all Kuumbaya to in the proverbial club.
Drake sounds like J. Cole. Or does J. Cole sound like Drake? He did drop his debut an entire year after; its just an observation.
Check out the official DEHH Take Care review.
So, I used to own hundreds upon hundreds of records. A lot were pieces I inherited from my father, which included a bunch of old jazz, soul and R&B records. A lot more were items I acquired myself over the years. From growing up a punk kid, I had tons of 7”s and LPs from all kinds of obscure bands that either I saw live over the years or sought out due to someone’s recommendation. I’m talking about stuff from old Turning Point and Pansy Division 7”s to rare Integrity and Instead LPs. Then, when I got really into metal, I started collecting any and all metal vinyl I could get my hands on. I had stuff from Destruction to Mercyful Fate to old Satan records. (What the fuck you know about Satan, huh?) When I got into experimental and goth, I had records from groups from Christian Death to Sisters of Mercy to a limited edition white Wumpscut LP that I would kill to get back. I, honestly, never really collected a shit ton of hip hop vinyl (I know…weird). I had some standards like 93 Til Infinity, Illmatic and By All Means Necessary, but nothing super rare. But around 2001 I hit a really rough patch in my life and was forced to move into a tiny efficiency apartment by Piedmont Park that had brown water coming from the faucets, a leaking gas stove and about six families of cockroaches residing in the walls. I had to make a sacrifice. Seeing as how I didn’t even have enough money to eat nor did I have enough room to house all of my records, at the time it seemed logical to get rid of them. Believe it or not, storing thousands of CDs is easier than storing hundreds of records. So, against my better judgment, I sold off a huge portion of my collection to survive. And fuck do I regret it.
Fast-forward about 5 years and, once I got back on my feet and moved into a normal sized apartment I started to replenish my collection. It’s nowhere near it was, but it’s decent. I still have about 10 times more CDs than I do records, but I’m pretty proud of some of the rare pieces of vinyl that I own. So this leads me into a conversation I had with one of my good friends who was in town from L.A. this past weekend. My homeboy, Henry, came to town and I had the pleasure of sitting around with him talking our usual shit about movies, people from the past and, most of all, music. He’s really one of the only people that I can honestly sit around for hours and talk music with. It’s also important to note that he’s the guy that really turned me on to true experimental music like Nurse With Wound, COIL and Throbbing Gristle as well as experimental neo-folk like Current 93, Sol Invictus and Death In June. He turned me on to the weird shit and I put him on to hip hop. It just worked out that way.
During our conversation, he started telling me about this group he belongs to on YouTube called The Vinyl Community. I’d never heard about this and was instantly intrigued. From what I understand, The Vinyl Community is a group of people on YouTube that post videos about all the dope records they find. There’s no acceptance process. There are no membership fees. It seems that all they ask for is that you be an avid record collector and that you be happy to show your collection off to the world. I just recently started watching them so I’m no expert, but I’ve seen videos of people who talk about hip hop, metal, folk, jazz and everything in between and beyond. Warning: if you’re a music nerd, some of this shit will make you infuriatingly jealous because it’s stuff you’ve heard about, have never seen and would castrate your first born to own. However, it’s fun as shit to watch.
I’m mainly writing this for all you music nerds out there that really get a kick out of collectables. For all you guys that said “fuck you” when people started selling off their entire music collection in exchange for folders on a computer full of MP3s. To me, there’s no better feeling than looking through a booklet for a new CD with the exception of the feeling of cracking open a new gatefold LP, looking through the credits and checking out the vinyl. Some people enjoy buying jewelry; some enjoy buying sneakers. No offense to my fashion junkies and sneaker heads out there, but I find spending $75 on a Jesus piece that will be out of style next year or $100 on a pair of sneakers that will be completely worn out within 6 months the epitome of stupid. But spending $175 on a piss-rare record that could provide you with enjoyment for the rest of your life? For some reason, that makes complete sense to me.
Shout out to Beezy who started his vinyl collection this past weekend. Maybe one day you’ll be one of these guys.
For info on The Vinyl Community click here or go to YouTube and just do a general search for “The Vinyl Community.”
For my boy’s page, click here. Trust me, if you’re a music nerd you will not be disappointed. You may even learn something.
On May 4th, 2012, Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away.
For some, it was the death of a grand musical artist. Many may not understand that MCA was more than an emcee. In fact, he was a guitarist, keyboardist, and even a video director known as Nathaniel Hornblower. He was also a devout Buddhist that started the Tibet Freedom Concert. In addition, he made sure to take his visions to a grander scale by starting Oscilloscope Laboratories, his film company. In full understanding, it can be easily seen that MCA was a renaissance artist.
For me, however, it was a statement of a genius that wasn’t totally recognized. Many of us do recognize The Beastie Boys for the great things they have done in music. However, they have not totally come to grips with the everlasting effect they themselves have had on the world’s landscape. There are certain popular situations that wouldn’t even exist without them. Also, they have paved the way for musical experimentation and actualization. With further review, I will break down just how deep their musical mentorship goes.
To Be Cleared Like Samples
The Beastie Boys took sampling-mania to another level with the release of Paul’s Boutique. Constructed by The Dust Brothers, Paul’s Boutique is a myriad of eclectic yet funky portions of music from over 100 songs. In fact, the last track on the album samples about 24 songs. With much adulation, sample clearance issues, and notoriety, Paul’s Boutique separated The Beastie Boys from their “frat rap” label. Conclusively, Paul’s Boutique gave inspiration to many artists to make the most of any and every sample that there is to find.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Chuck D and DJ Shadow how they feel about this album.
Quizzically, The Beastie Boys have even become the object of their inspiration. Their song “The New Style” from Licensed to Ill has been sampled numerous times. Also, an eclectic array of artists from Beck to even Weird Al Yankovich has made use of the music the guys have made. The Pharcyde even made a worthy single of sampling AD Rock’s voice on “Drop”, accompanied by an ever-whimsical video. So, it is safe to say that plenty of artists have taken a sample platter of the sample kings’ work.
The Hip Hop Hybrid Kids
After the adventure labeled Paul’s Boutique came about, The Beastie Boys went smack dab back into their rock roots. Check Your Head was birthed from multiple sessions in California that had them playing their own instruments, vibing out, and enjoying the tunes. What came to be was nothing short of sonic goodness. Listeners noticed the carefree rhymes and the instrumental heavy songs. In this musical transformation, The Beastie Boys made it cool to infuse rock fully into hip hop.
Check Your Head not only gained them notoriety, it also birthed more hybrid music later on. If it weren’t for The Beasties, rappers like P.O.S. or groups like Rage Against The Machine may not be as popular. Also, Linkin Park would probably seem like something unfathomable. Many of us acknowledge The Beastie Boys for their over-abundant hip hop influence; still, their rap-rock influence is just as important.
The Beastie Boys have plenty of accolades to go along with their career. However, people need to understand just how profound and impressive this ground is. They could never be considered unsung. Still, the true musical gifts that they brought can be considered to be understated. Thus far, the musical influence of The Beastie Boys has transcended their own imaginations.
Oh, and this is only one part of my dedication to the legends. Stay tuned for part 2.
‘Nuff said and ‘Nuff respect!
Props to The Needle Drop for scooping Ice Cold Water, an EP from Cleveland duo Smoke Screen. The EP sounds just as refreshing as the title, and is awash with dope lyrical content and an eclectic musical tinge on the beats, clearly the result of good teamwork.
That’s not to say that rappers Mooke and Chemist, who also produced all but one track on the project, are bopping and weaving over this thing like The Beastie Boys. Rather, they excel by displaying their own unique styles and complimenting each other’s thoughts. On “Ice Cold Water,’ the first and arguably best track, Mooke kicks off this tag team with a great finger-pointer: “Everybody and they mama wanna get some/everybody want the honey ’til it get stung/but don’t nobody wanna ever roll they sleeves up/they rather party all the time and get geeked up.”
Likewise, Chemist holds up the latter end: “back to the raps, attack tracks with passion/laugh at the cats who wax supreme fashion.” The rap tag-teaming gets even better on “Blur,” where they both detail their psychedelic, almost astral experiences when “cheebin’ on the herb,” or on “It Don’t Stop” where they easily trade off bars about their unyielding torrent of great content.
And the beats, a huge plus from their group collaboration, single-handedly uphold the cool, youthful exuberance that Smoke Screen carries. It’s easy to recognize their conscious effort to produce solid instrumentation that satisfies not only the more free-flowing stylings of Mooke or the aggressive battleground stance from Chemist, but also something that sounds fun and vibrant on its own. The title track instantly hits with a whizzing vinyl scratch and pounding drums, soon followed by a block-shaking bassline.
“The Ave” has an amateurish beatbox break surrounded by whirring synths and a rythmic spark effect. “Smoke and Lazers” touts a sinister, dubstep-influenced beat with a buzzing synth line and a two-tone drum and bass to keep rhythm for Chemist and Mooke’s dizzying wordplay. Each song has a short prologue that lets the track’s feeling seep in before the verses come in, and two tracks, “Blur” and “Smoke and Mirrors,” have an extra instrumental tagged to the end a la Pete Rock that keeps things flowing.
In fact, the album flows, quite literally, like a cool stream. From the backstreet wild style of the introduction to the extraterrestrial essence of the the ending and even on the call-and-response group vocal for the hooks, Smoke Screen knows how to curate a 20-minute that vibes perfectly and feels oh so good. Even though each rapper, guests included, brings his own bag of tricks, it always transitions smoothly without any jarring inconsistencies. When a dude drops a line like “ice cold cinnamon spice but whole heaven with microphone rhythms and pipes with gold lettuce” without throwing off his previous verse, that’s a miracle in and of itself. Ice Cold Water stands as testament that music can have style without sacrificing creativity.