Tag Archives: mixtape monday

Mixtape Monday: Wale / Big K.R.I.T. / Danny Brown

Within one week, hip hop fans were inundated with brand new mixtapes from three underground talents. Each tape represents a challenge to the prevailing wisdom about their careers, past, present and future. Wale, despite signing with Maybach Music Group, is still rehabbing his career after his major label misstep Attention: Deficit. Big K.R.I.T. is coming off one of the year’s strongest mixtapes, Return of 4Eva, and expectations couldn’t be higher. And Detroit’s underground sensation Danny Brown released his latest effort on Fool’s Gold for free, blurring the already hazy album vs. mixtape distinction. So, how do the releases match up with expectations?

WaleThe Eleven One Eleven Theory

Despite a definite identity crisis, Wale’s latest presents at least three of his personalities in their best lights. Wale has always been at his best over beats drawn from soul and go-go, and while “Fuck You” might not have Cee-lo on the hook, it finds Wale as excited as ever; the same is true for soul-clapper “Lace Frontin.'” Always somewhat of a head scratcher, his Maybach affiliation appears in orchestral MPC romps like “ChainMusic” and “Bait.”

There are a few too many R&B/rap hybrids for my taste, but bonus track “That Way” is a summer slow jam for the ages. Wale’s sports fanaticism fuels “Pick Six,” “Varsity Blues,” and his take on “BMF,” “Barry Sanders,” while his Jay-Z fixation (“I be feelin’ like H.O.V.A. / when y’all was sleeping on him”) closes the tape. A bit of an outlier, “Ocean Drive” takes Wale from the go go to the dance hall and capitalizes on DC’s tropical trends. Overall, The Eleven One Eleven Theory suggests that Wale is re-energized and ready for this fall’s Ambition; now we just need to see which Wale will show up in November.

Big K.R.I.T.Last King 2 (God’s Machine)

Return of 4Eva was a love song to the golden age of Southern hip hop; those expecting a sequel will be sorely disappointed. Last King 2 is just another mixtape, plagued by the hallmarks of the genre. The lyrical territory is a little too familiar (pimps and hos, grippin’ wood grain, on the corner, etc.) and the beats are a little too paint-by-number. For the most part, neither is handled with the finesse shown on Return of 4Eva.

Guest stars (too many to list here) dominate the tape, so while you get verses from southern legends Bun B, Pimp C, and Slim Thug, K.R.I.T. seems like an afterthought throughout the unfocused proceedings. Still, you could do worse for BBQ / driving music, and this feels like an odds-and-ends appetizer for the main course, next month’s Live from the Underground.

Danny BrownXXX

This is outsider hip hop at its finest. Danny Brown has a polarizing flow that is urgent, manic and a bit off-putting. But with his hipster affectations, tales of drug dealing/abuse, and laugh out loud punchline raps, his talent in undeniable. The production is just as weird as Brown himself, somewhere between Lil B’s based beats and Odd Future’s spooky stalkers.

While it’s occasionally pornographic (“make Sarah Palin deep throat ’til she hiccup”) the title of XXX is a reference to 30, Brown’s age. He’s been hustling (rap and otherwise) for some time now, reportedly getting passed over by 50 Cent because of his skinny jeans. Whatever the reason, this iconoclastic rapper’s moment is now: a grown-up version of Lil B, Odd Future, and Kreayshawn for the WTF generation.

Download: Wale – The Eleven One Eleven Theory
Download: Big K.R.I.T. – Last King 2
Download: Danny Brown – XXX

Mixtape Monday: Kreayshawn / James Drake / Dev79

Kreayshawn X The Bay

This 20-minute tape by El Paso’s Nato Vato Taco mashes the Based Goddess‘ tracks with classic Bay Area beats and verses by the likes of E-40, C-Bo, Luniz, Mac Dre, Dru Down, C.I.N, IMP, and Potna Deuce. The result is equal parts hazy and hyphy, a reprieve from constant replays of “Bumpin’ Bumpin'” and “Gucci Gucci” (the latter of which has been pulled off YouTube for a mysterious Terms of Service violation). At the very least, it will help you with your Kreayshawn fix until Mishka/Clan Destine release Murdered in Memphis (teaser below).

Bombé & Mr. Caribbean – James Drake Mixtape

Another mash-up mixtape, this time blending the music of James Blake and Drake. While not relevant since at least The Grey Album, creations like this capture the zeitgeist like a firefly in a bottle: fleeting, but fun while it lasts. Exploitative? Sure, but the common ground between the two artists puts a new spin on old favorites. Blake’s R&B influence lends itself to Drake’s lazy boy rapping, and DJs Bombé and Mr. Caribbean dig deep into Blake’s catalog for some understated combinations.

Dev79 presents Street Bass Bootlegs

Here’s another angle on rhythm and bass: grimey, street bass remixes of radio rap songs. Everyone from Wacka Flocka to Gucci Mane to Daddy Yankee gets the hood-step treatment. Highlights include BD1982’s remix of Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew” and the 6blocc edit of the Rye Rye / Starkey collab “VHS Go.” I’m increasingly weary of anything resembly dubstep remixes, but Philadelphia’s Dev79 has the low end under control; check out his take on the Travis Porter hit “Make It Rain.”

Download: Kreayshawn X The Bay
Download: Bombé & Mr. Caribbean – James Drake Mixtape
Download: Dev79 presents Street Bass Bootlegs

Mixtape Monday: Big K.R.I.T. and Fat Trel

Last week saw the release of mixtapes from two rising rappers: Big K.R.I.T.’s Return of 4Eva and Fat Trel’s April Foolz. Both artists get to the heart of hip hop in 2011, albeit with divergent styles.

Big K.R.I.T. (an acronym for “King Remembered In Time”) is Justin Scott, a 24-year-old from down south in Meridian, Mississippi (about 100 miles from David Banner’s Jackson home).

Return of 4Eva is pure Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, very much in the Southern G-funk style mastered by Outkast, with hints of UGK and Curren$y. The beats gleam like polished chrome. Soul samples mingle with fresh keys, horns and bass in a refreshing return to a richer era of hip hop production. For his part, K.R.I.T. is crisp and clear, more Big Boi than Three Stacks.

“American Rapstar” is a head-nodder that succinctly pinpoints industry-rap issues: “And they don’t love you till you’re on the ground / Or when you’re maxing out your bank account / …And even if it means you don’t survive the night / But if even if you do you won’t survive the hype / Of an American rapstar.” “Dreamin'” is a down-tempo meditation on similar themes.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/08%20American%20Rapstar.mp3″ text=”Big K.R.I.T. – American Rapstar” dl=1]

The song that burns grooves in your hard drive is “Highs & Lows,” with it’s music-nerd-approved “life ain’t nothing but an EQ of highs and lows” chorus and “I’d Rather Be With You” outro. Any track that references arguably Bootsy Collins’ best song is a winner.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/09%20Highs%20_%20Lows.mp3″ text=”Big K.R.I.T. – Highs & Lows” dl=1]

Lyrically, K.R.I.T. plays in familiar territory, but with his own spin on things. Balancing the stripper tale “Shake It” is the Bamboozle-sampling “A Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism” (K.R.I.T. is all about acronyms, apparently), a conscious-by-way-of-Pac tune.

Return of 4Eva is all killer, no filler. Guest spots by David Banner, Chamillionaire, Raheem DeVaughn, Ludacris, and Bun B are tasteful and not distracting: K.R.I.T. more than holds his own among heavyweights. The future looks bright for this 2011 XXL Freshman.

While Return of 4Eva plays out like a fully-developed album, Fat Trel’s April Foolz is a pure mixtape, for better or for worse. Incessant DJ drops and rewinds distract from the product: Trel’s DC-based trap rap. Like his last tape, the breakout No Secrets, Trel is unapologetic about drugs (dealing and using) and women (sexing and uh, using). Beats are provided by 808 wunderkind Lex Luger and DMV heads E Major and Bassheadz, among others.

“Respect Wit the Tech,” produced by Luger, fits right in with the hitmakers’ other tracks (“Hard in the Paint,” “B.M.F.,” “H.A.M.”) with ratatat rhythms, cinematic synths and gunshot samples. Trel keeps it simple, dropping a chorus built to ride: “I got money / I got power / Got respect with this tech / Got respect with this tech / bust a move and get wet.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/04%20Respect%20Wit%20The%20Tech%20(Prod.%20Lex%20Luger).mp3″ text=”Fat Trel – Respect Wit The Tech (Prod. Lex Luger)” dl=1]

Fat Trel is basically a one-note rapper, but because he hits it so hard yet so effortlessly, he’s the most entertaining and promising rapper in the DMV. This is guilty pleasure rap suited for your next party (or award show riot). His association with Wale’s Board Administration may be over, but a partnership with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music (something he is more well-suited for than Wale) can’t be too far off.

Download: Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva
Download: Fat Trel – April Foolz

Mixtape Monday: Dubstep edition

From the Dubstep Dossier to Future Grooves, TGRI Online is committed to bringing you the newest, cutting-edge sounds in bass-heavy music. Still, we sometimes take for granted the fact that the world at large isn’t as familiar with Rusko, Skream and the like as we are – even if they will be soon.

Seemingly with that in mind, DJ D Painter’s latest podcast – recorded live from Jamaica – is titled “Dubstep for Dummies.” Rather than a history of dubstep, the podcast is perfect for the uninitiated: dubstep of the moment, including remixes of “Forever” and “Womanizer” and a few recent essentials (“Innocence,” Sub Focus’ take on “Hold On”). Quick and to the point, “Dubstep for Dummies” is the perfect gift for that bass-less somone in your life.

D. Painter Podcast 04 track list:

01. Ctrl Z & Freestylers ft. Navigator – Ruffneck 09 (Excision & Datsik Remix)
02. Drake & Eminem – Forever (Nero Remix)
03. TC – Where’s My Money (Caspa Remix)
04. Jakes – Warface 2010
05. Benga ft. Eve – Me N My (Up In The Club)
06. Crookers ft. Kelis – No Security (Rustie Remix)
07. Diplo ft. Lil Jon – U Don’t Like Me
08. Liquid Stranger – Mission AD
09. 12th Planet ft. Juakall – Reasons (Doctor P Remix)
10. Ladybox – Cookies Fly (12th Planet & Flinch Remix)
11. Britney Spears – Womanizer (Borgore Remix)
12. Nero – Innocence
13. Rusko ft. Amber Coffman – Hold On (Sub Focus Remix)

While D. Painter drops the 101, Jess Jubilee’s recent mix for Dubspot is a masters class in dubstep, UK funky and future grooves. The Nightshifter/Flashing Lights basshead mixes in can’t-miss tracks by Ramadanman, Kingdom and Ikonika, along with a brilliant transition from LOL Boy’s “123” to Brick Bandit Tim Dolla’s “Number Advisory.” It’s like a twisted Sesame Street lesson.

Dubspot podcast episode 9 – Jubilee track list:

01. Kyla – Daydreaming (Lil Silva Remix)
02. Dj Shaun – D – ALien Spaceship
03. Mujava – Source of Drums
04. Bambounou – Nappy Head
05. Distal – Apple Bottom
06. Ramadanman – Work Them
07. Canblaster – Clockwork
08. DJ Donna SummerxGucci Mane – Fighter (Jimmy 2 Times Aw Man Blend)
09. R1 Ryders – Hydraulic
10. DJ Bigga – Boeke Anthem
11. Untold – Anaconda (Guarachero Refix)
12. Roska – Squark (Guarachero Refix)
13. LOL Boys – 123
14. Tim Dolla – Number Advisory
15. Blondes – Spanish FLy (Brenmar Remix)
16. Kingdom – Fogs
17. Baobinga – Ride It (Untold Remix)
18. Ikonika – Aqueous Cream
19. Jubilee interview

Mixtape Monday: Mad Decent Monday Edition

If record labels were elementary school students, Mad Decent would have the most interesting “what I did on my summer vacation” presentation. Between quadrupling their annual Block Party and releasing mixtapes weekly, Diplo and family are doing big things before they pack it up and move to Los Angeles. Here are two recent mixtapes from up-and-coming talents on the label.

Like MIA and Santigold before her, Maluca‘s Mad Decent mixtape serves as her entree onto the underground scene. While those two found Wes Gully behind the boards, Maluca’s China Food is expertly mixed by Paul “The Other Pauly D” Devro with a “past, present and future” theme in mind.

China Food fills the void left after we heard the fiery merengue of last year’s “Tigeraso” but not much else from the Dominican chanteuse. Between samples of “Fire” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” are house-inflected tropical tunes like “Jungle Violento” and “Loca.” Devro curates one helluva tape, letting Maluca flex her Kelis muscles on the moody “Hector” and “Flourescent Beige.” Definitely cop this one, for the low, low price of your email address.

Along with moombahton, this summer has been defined by the resurgence of noise pop, especially the sun-soaked and weed smoke variety. Bands like Wavves, Best Coast, and Surfer Blood have led the way with fuzzed-out pop songs that hint at nostalgia and beach vibes. Po Po (brothers Zeb and Shoaib) mine similar territory for Mad Decent.

This summer mixtape, originally recorded for their tour with Sleigh Bells, showcases the experimental garage rock the duo is known for. While most of the tape is noisier and less complete than first single “Bummer Summer,” it’s still a good placeholder until their fall debut drops.

Mixtape Monday: Drag the lake

“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Inscription at the Gates of Hell, or another post about drag and witch house? You decide! Today’s Mixtape Monday takes us to the darkest reaches of the Internet, with new mixes from Salem and the sick folks behind (the NSFW) Put.A.Spell.

Salem’s I Buried My Heart Inna Wounded Knee is a nearly-unlistenable mix of Goth crunk – and I mean that as a compliment. There’s no tracklist, but would one really make a difference? Salem drags and screws tracks until they are barely recognizable ghosts of the originals; mixing in the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” is brilliant. Salem continues to make the i-dose version of purple drank. Their debut full-length King Night is set for a September 28th release, and this mix should stave off the tremors until then.

Put.a.spell (what I’ll be calling the force responsible for these mixes, since they’re only labeled with the quintessential witch house symbol ‡) recently released two equally disturbing mixes, Summus Exussum Ervum and Beasts in Drag.

Summus Exussum Ervum, which roughly translates to “burn the high weeds,” touches on everything cold and industrial. From Throbbing Gristle to Fever Ray, the mix is the perfect soundtrack for your next invocation or ritualistic sacrifice. Compared to Salem’s mix, it is practically Top 40.

Beasts in Drag is more crunk than Goth, relying on drag versions of Gucci Mane and Playboy Tre (from the Adult Swim x Beaterator ATL RMX album), among others. As the mix closes, it fades from GR†LLGR†LL’s gloomy “Lollipop” cover “Slowlickin” to “If You Are But a Dream,” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the bluesman best known for “I Put a Spell On You.” That inclusion alone shows that the musicians behind drag and witch house have a sense of humor, even if it is sick and twisted.

Mixtape Monday: Hip hop edition

Paradoxically, Freddie Gibbs is the future of hip hop because he is its finest throwback. Hip hop is full of backpackers in rose-colored glasses looking for “Golden Age” rappers. Instead, Gibbs’ finds in gangsta rap something resonant to a 28-year-old from Gary, Indiana who has literally fought for all he has. With last week’s release of the Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape and an EP of the same name tomorrow, Gibbs continues to demonstrate why he’s the valedictorian of XXL’s Freshman Class.

The mixtape features unreleased cuts and new heat from the EP. Tracks like “Face Down” and “In My Hood” are unrelenting trap music with Gibbs’ trademark style. On the 90s g-funk of “The Coldest,” B.J. the Chicago Kid plays Nate Dogg to Gibbs’ Dre; on “Best Friend,” Gibbs mans the chorus himself. The tape closes out with “Slangin’ Rocks,” where he goes even deeper into rap history.

The lead single on the EP, “National Anthem,” finds Gibbs in full Tupac mode, even going as far as including a “fuck the world” chorus. He switches between a syrupy flow and a staccato double-time, and as usual, he’s deft at both. To Gibbs, thug life isn’t a choice, it’s a fact of life. Being good in the game – dealing, pimping, killing – is something you do because you have to stay alive. He’s a realist and a pragmatist, and like Tupac before him, he isn’t afraid to get political. A perfect example is the clip for “National Anthem,” where the question is, 250 years later, has anything changed in America?

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Has it really been two years since Ron Browz, Jim Jones and Juelz Santana asked us to “pop champagne?” Time flies when you’re living large, like the rappers on this mix by The Rub’s Cosmo Baker. Baker continues his History of Hip Hop series with a look at 2008, when Weezy was pushing a million units in one week instead of a DOC mop.

2008 was a fun (if frivolous) year for hip hop. Baker expertly mixes the highlights for over 100 minutes of pure bang. No one has swagga like Cosmo, so don’t miss him at U Hall this week for Red Friday.