Tag Archives: hip hop

Concert Review: A$AP Ferg @ Metropolis

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A vodka-stained shirt, a fight, saving a life, sweat, and bruises summed up a night at A$AP Ferg’s Turnt & Burnt tour stop in Montreal. A very youthful crowd packed Metropolis when doors opened at 8pm, and it seemed as though people weren’t just there for a concert; instead, it was an opportunity to post up with their squads to let others know they were in the building. The crowd flaunted its latest fashions, leaning against walls with one foot up intending to stunt on the kids who think they’re cooler. In a way, the environment was tense, but you knew that underlying this subtle competition was the excitement of seeing A$AP Ferg & Co.

45 minutes after the doors opened, up & coming A$AP Mob member Marty Baller took the stage, performing songs from his newest mixtape, Marty G Raw. His eccentric, animated energy coupled with bass-heavy, high bpm songs enthralled the crowd into a frenzy of shoving, jumping, and pure aggression. That standoffish tone that had been so present pre-show had completely vanished. Everyone was in a sort of unison, moving together as one large pulsing mass. Marty Baller delivered as one would expect an emerging artist to: he performed as if he had everything to prove. After his set, one nearly forgot the show had only just begun. After a short intermission, Rob Stone took stage to face a sweaty, revved up crowd demanding more. His set only added fuel to the fire and the energy was intensified. When it seemed as though his set was over, the stage lights faded out until the venue stood pitch black and an excited confusion filled the air. After a short period of silence, the chilling whistle of Stone’s most popular anthem, Chill Bill, pierced the atmosphere and the crowd erupted. The crowd split into two walls, and at the moment the first bass dropped each side collided with the intensity of two sides at war. Bodies were flying, feet were in the air, and arms flailed. It was survival of the fittest in this pit of ear-splitting, vibrating bass and hostility. Following Rob Banks’s set and another quick intermission, I awkwardly thrusted my way towards the front of the stage in anticipation of the final opener, Playboi Carti. At this point, we all desired more sweat and bruises and Carti gave us just that. Decked out with sunglasses and a winter coat, his image reflected the peculiar, youthful style that was so readily displayed by the crowd before the show. Carti’s energy, coupled with performances of his most popular songs, “Fetti,” “Beef,” “Talk,” “Run It,” and “Broke Boi,” reminded us the show had only just begun and that we needed to go just a little bit harder. Moshing persisted for the entire set and the crowd moved as one in every direction squeezing everyone within. Many people lost their balance and fell, forcing myself and others to help them from being trampled; it was a telling reminder that we were all in this together.

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After Playboi Carti’s exit the final intermission commenced, during which many individuals hastily made their ways out of the crowd for some much-needed hydration. There was a small fight and a drink was inadvertently spilled on me, but it was all part of the experience — not to mention fitting preparation for the show’s conclusion.

A$AP Ferg finally took stage at around 11:00 after what had already felt like an entire music festival. The entire venue was illuminated in purple and pink lights from the stage that created a very hazy, mysterious atmosphere. He opened with “Rebirth” from his most recent album, Always Strive and Prosper. He then performed “Hood Pope” from his 2013 album, Trap Lord, singing acapella at one point. Marty Baller also made another cameo when performing “Telephone Calls” alongside Ferg. A$AP Ferg concluded the show declaring it was finally time to get “burnt.” This worried me. I thought I was beyond burnt at this point. More like pan fried and slightly overcooked then thrown to roast in an oven. And in an instant the high tempo, heavy bass tracks of “New Level,” “Work,” and “Shabba” played back to back, squeezing all of the remaining life from the crowd. Upon the conclusion of his set and the crowd’s applause, I felt a sense of relief walking out of Metropolis. I was dead; bruised everywhere. The sweat that drenched my face was now salt making the commute home in the cold rain more bearable. It was quite nice actually. The undying, almost relentless energy of the show made the experience truly rewarding and enjoyable. Overall, A$AP Ferg’s Montreal stop on his Turnt and Burnt tour was nothing short of “Turnt & Burnt”.

– Review by Nathaniel Bahadursingh

Album Review: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service – A Tribe Called Quest

Image result for we got it from hereThe album title was Phife Dawg’s idea. He didn’t really have a reason, but rather thought it had a nice ring; I’ll be damned if it doesn’t encapsulate A Tribe Called Quest’s rather epic journey through the years, as well as the recent passing of Phife, 45, in March of this year from diabetes complications. Their first album in 18 years since the 1998 release of The Love Movement was recorded in Q-Tip’s New Jersey studio, ensuring that everyone working on the album showed up in person to record their parts before Ali Shaheed Muhammad, master of mixing, pieced it all together. MC’s Q-Tip and Jarobi were the main players for the album, with participation from big names such as Busta Rhymes, Consequence, Jack White, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, and Andre 3000, to name a few.

We got it from Here… provides the nostalgic sound of the OG Tribe with some new perspective. As always, ATCQ cleverly disguises darker themes in effortless beats, clever sampling, and an impeccable knack for call-and-response lyricism. The tracks could provide a wildly successful background to a party or spark an idea for a thinkpiece, depending on how carefully the listener pays attention to the messages woven inside the smooth mixes. Here, ATCQ addresses very relevant cultural and political aspects of 2016: racism, Trump’s stump policies, and POC/minority rights. The more universal themes included in the album are related to kinship, the inevitable passing of time, and self-worth. If you really tried, you could reduce We got it from Here… to a tribute album, and in some ways it is: both Phife Dawg and the core four are lauded in various tracks. However, it would be naive of anyone to assume that ATCQ is anything but two-dimensional; all of the tracks are layered with nuanced references to topics both of the heart and of the head.

We got it from Here… begins with a sample from the 1974 film Willie Dynamite before Q-Tip and Phife Dawg start the call to arms in uniform; the race is off. “The Space Program” provides an excellent opener for the 16-track album, with all players present and accounted for. The track ends with a well-known scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971). “A Solid Wall of Sound” features both the vocals and guitar work of Jack White and the vocals of Elton John. The track is a tribute to ATCQ, with Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Busta Rhymes providing a head-spinning deluge of rhymes featuring a good deal of patois slang. “Dis Generation” follows the same lines, with the Tribe discussing and commenting on the events of the passing years.

“Lost Somebody” is a tribute to Phife’s passing, with Katia Cadet providing a bittersweet chorus underneath Q-Tip and Jarobi’s lyrics. The track begins with low bass before moving into a subdued, somber (for ATCQ) ballad-rap. Q-Tip provides Phife’s history; fitting, as the two were close friends growing up. Jarobi pays tribute to the man he knew as his bandmate. The track ends mid-chorus, a clear representation of Phife’s untimely and surprising death. Realistically, Jarobi admitted in interviews that he was simply unable to finish the track. After a short delay a very weird, jagged guitar solo cuts through the silence (thanks, Jack White), but the interlude is unexplained, maybe on purpose. Kendrick Lamar is granted his own verse in “Conrad Tokyo,” and he effortlessly slips into the Tribe call-and-response. The track deals with heavier themes, discussing the current political atmosphere in the USA. The sultry, agitated beat conveys a smooth tension; Jack White’s mysterious guitar makes a reappearance at the end of the track.

We got it from Here… ends with “The Donald,” another tribute to Phife Dawg. His passing is acutely felt in the entire album, between references snuck into a lyric and the dedication of two tracks to his name. It is clear that while the album essentially picks up where the crew left off 18 years prior, this will probably be the last we see of new ATCQ material for a long while. Time is needed to grieve and recalibrate; in addition, much has happened since the last album release. These men are no longer the 19-year-olds that wowed crowds in Paris and across America; they have families and individual careers, and may not be as willing to relive their past lives through constant reunion tours. In essence, A Tribe Called Quest has also been laid to rest with the release of this album. But fans, no need to mourn; the music heard in We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is universal and timeless, and will surely inspire a new crop of aspiring hip hop artists and good friends to continue the music-making cycle.

Album Released: November 11, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

 

Hip Hop You Don’t Stop for If You Got Ears September 2016

 

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If you haven’t heard of Montreal’s Hip Hop You Don’t Stop, you’re in for a treat this month. HHYDS is a powerful initiative that provides positive alternatives for at-risk and underprivileged youth in Côte-des-Neiges and NDG. The project allows people to participate in various activities such as dance, music, writing, and visual art, in the aims to help channel energies into constructive and creative purposes. The organizers of this project have been doing their magic since 2005, and now in 2016 they have agreed to host If You Got Ears for the month of September! You can expect a whole lot of great music, talks, and positive spirits. We’ll be bringing more information on the specific details of the show in the near future. But for now, trust us, it’s going to be amazing~~

Tune in to the Montreal Sessions, every Tuesday from 3-5pm EST

Album Review: Noname – Telefone

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For the past three years Chicago-native rapper Noname kept a low profile and has had fans eagerly anticipating a release from the wonderfully robust MC. Years of talking about a mixtape and making fantastic guest appearances on fellow Chicago artists Chance the Rapper & Jamila Woods latest projects, it’s only appropriate that Noname shines bright and proves to everyone that she is a name worth remembering, regardless of the lack of one. Her debut mixtape, Telefone, exhibits her versatile skills as an artist with bubbly production that’s coated on every track and can instantly fill a room with glee. Her seductive delivery touches upon both heated and personal issues that wedge their way into your thoughts and make you reflect on the kind of atmosphere that courses through the entire tape.

The track “Yesterday” sets the tone for the beautifully inspired project. Noname wastes no time and jumps right into her skillful wordplay that is enchanting and sweet to the ear; there is a lot of content within the song but it’s not intimidating to listen to. It’s rather light with a pretty piano progression that’s supported by harmonious vocals that add to the uplifting effect of the song.

“Sunny Duet” is one of my favorite songs off Telefone. Fellow Chicago artist theMind lends his soulful vocals over a soft melody that satisfies the heart. The track is buttery and smooth with Noname carrying the rhythm of the track in a way that seems effortless. Cam O’bi’s production is glossy and puts a huge emphasis on the kind of feeling that the song is trying to convey – a summer anthem for the lonely and confused.

Atlanta rapper Raury channels a similar flow to that of notorious Outkast member André 3000 on “Diddy Bop” with a wonderfully catchy hook provided by Cam O’bi. Ethereal synths float their way throughout the song and put the mind at ease, as each artist pushes their effort to make us feel like we shouldn’t have to worry about the uncontrollable predicaments that we face in life.

“Casket Pretty” sheds light on a dark issue that surrounds the streets of the windy city. Chicago has been known for its high murder rates, its residents subjected to receiving phone calls about loved ones fatally passing away due to the violence that posses the corners of the streets. Noname elaborates on the idea that black people who roam the streets share the same fate as a corpse in a casket. This is a surreal display of reality presented with a melancholic production style provided by Saba and Pheolix.

Telefone is an incredible achievement as a debut mixtape for an up and coming artist such as Noname. It’s relatable on a surface level while maintaining the integrity for those who can decipher the complex wordplay that’s ingrained in the efforts of the young Chicago artist. The latest project from the stunning MC does a superb job of sedating us to it’s surreal themes while shedding light onto the issues that the citizens of Chicago have tackled throughout the past few decades.

-Review by Michael Eidelson

Album Review: BADBADNOTGOOD – IV

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Five years after the release of their debut album, the Canadian jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD has made a name for themselves as one of the most versatile quartets to enter the music scene. BBNG has evolved plenty; they’ve been touring the world and working on music continuously throughout this past decade. It’s fascinating to hear the evolution unfold and witness into which directions the band is willing to venture. They demonstrate a brilliant idea of what jazz music could sound like if hip hop artists were to tackle the genre. After having covered Odd Future, J Dilla, James Blake and Flying Lotus tracks, and worked on an entire collaboration album with Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah, now BADBADNOTGOOD has released their fourth solo effort appropriately named IV. This album is the band’s most confident and endearing project so far; it exhibits a style that has been crafted by inspired young artists. The production is brighter, cleaner and as engrossing as ever thanks to the talented guests featured on the project.   Continue reading

Album Review: Gesamtkunstwerk – Dead Obies

a0431750848_10“Gesamtkunstwerk” is a German compound noun that translates to “total work of art.” It is also the title of the latest release from local rap group Dead Obies, a wonderful Frankenstein of live tracks edited and enhanced in the studio. Gesamtkunstwerk is still a blend of hip hop, rap, and electronica, but the Dead Obies have shifted their focus from lyrics to production for this album, taking an almost exhibitionist approach to their craft. The process of creation is baldly displayed without compromising the integrity of the lyrics or production; what continues to set the Dead Obies apart from other Quebecois rap groups is their language choice, or rather a lack of one. Self-dubbed “Frenglish,” the members slip effortlessly between English and French with such speed and expertise that the two distinct languages blend into one poetic slurry.

Following the success of their 2013 release Montréal $ud, Dead Obies decided to make their next opus a gift to their loyal fanbase. Teaming up with music improv group Kalmunity, they played at the Phi Centre for three nights and sampled the live recordings, taking performances, the crowd’s applause, and individual audience interviews and mixing them in with recorded takes. This seamless patchwork of live and recorded takes was stitched together with surgical precision by the group-appointed producer, VNCE.

The album is intended to be heard as a whole work, and I would agree with this sentiment. Of course, there are a number of tracks that stand out among the fairly large list. Gesamtkunstwerk leads in with “GO 2 Get,” an explosive opener that serves as an immediate draw. Lamenting the everyday troubles in life to an undercurrent of cheering fans from one of the Phi Centre performances, the track provides an excellent introduction to the overall tone of the album. The six rappers who comprise Dead Obies take turns spitting out lyrics, effortlessly subbing in and out. “Waiting” is a celebration of concert life, lively trap music combining with a sensual bass beat. “Jelly” is more funky, with cooler synth laid over deep bass and remixed rhythmic vocals.

“Explosif” begins with a sample of distant fireworks, then continues with slow, smoldering instrumentals mixed in with varied odes to party and drug culture for an extensive eight minutes. The blend of French/English vocals is particularly noticeable in this track, adding to the mixed messages provided by individual members of the group. “Aweille!” is one of the singles released before the album, and is an aggressive dance track that includes a perfectly catchy chorus of “aweille” (a local phrase roughly equivalent to “come on!”), repeated and remixed. “Untitled” is a jazzy, smooth track that shows off the group’s more sensual side, and approaches something played on a late-night show for slow-wave funk. Towards the latter half of the track, the lyrics dissolve into a live recording, with the members taking turns talking in French to an instrumental vamp and a cheering crowd. “Outro,” the final track on Gesamtkunstwerk, is an instrumental electronic track that smoothly and quietly ties together Dead Obies’ “work of art,” ensuring the transformation from just another local rap album to something deserving of admiration and high praise; rap is just one form of artistic expression they utilize.

Gesamtkunstwerk ultimately serves as a big “thank you” to the Dead Obies’ fans; Phi Centre saw a big turnout for the fairly underground rap group, and allowed them to produce the album well. They gained, then lost, a Musicaction grant funding the production of the album; due to strict Quebec laws governing language, the group did not meet the 70% French lyric quota. However, even as they are continually rejected by mainstream media and their own province, Dead Obies still maintain a loyal (and growing!) fanbase and the quiet integrity of talented artists with a vision. They are dedicated to their craft and to creating the “total work of art” that they feel listeners deserve.

Album released: March 4, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

 

Concert Review: Chance The Rapper

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There have been a lot of issues with Spotify, streaming, and many other aspects of the digital music age lately.  Big name artists have become more outspoken about music corporations and their ability to make money off of someone else’s art without paying them back for it and a lot of people seem to be left in a state of “how do I make money?”  U2’s response was to forcibly download their album onto every iPhone on the planet, which supposedly proved that they were not in it for the money, but left no one particularly happy.  A certain country/pop artist who is not exactly in desperate need of any more publicity had her world famous remarks about Spotify, but in the midst of all this controversy, there’s one particular genre that has truly embraced the mentality that artists do not make music so that “people can pay for it;” hip hop.  From Run The Jewels’ crowdfunded, for-charity remix album to Big K.R.I.T.’s insane datpiff collection (a free mixtape downloading website), many a hip hop artist has taken it upon themselves to put their audience and art in front of their chart placement and moneymaking.  Perhaps at the forefront of this mentality, is the collective Social Experiment ensemble headed by Donnie Trumpet and the one and only Chance the Rapper.  I had a chance to see this group play last week and the amazing results of their live set are rooted in their grassroots, “not in it for the money” mentality. Continue reading

The Montreal Sessions with Yellow Noise: October 20th 2015

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On Tuesday, October 20th, Sam Lu (SierraLima) and Mel Palapuz (DJ Mango Juiiice) from Yellow Noise Magazine hosted the third episode of their Montreal sessions residency. To find out more about Yellow Noise and their mission, you can check out their bio here.

This show included Japanese future funk, experimental tracks (featuring Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean), and an electronic performance by Yao Guai Cave followed by an acoustic set. Originally Yàocavé, (aka yay-o-kah-vay), Yao Guai Cave (yao-gooey-cave) is a Montréal based electro-experimental artist. For a taste, listen to his sweet February 2015 release Fanta-C Plus. 

After a fresh mix from SierraLima with plenty of dance, electronica, and hip hop tracks, DJ Mango Juiiice played a Japanese vaporwave set before welcoming Yàocavé into the studio.

While Yàocavé was his strictly electronic musician identity, Yao Guai Cave described his current music as a mix of everything– pop, house, techno, as well as music from short film he worked on that was accepted by MIX NYC (a queer film festival).

The set opened with a vast electronic soundscape of twinkling synths and distorted cosmic sounds before dropping into a sugary pop groove with bass, beats, and vocals. The electronic music was poignant; as different vocalists sang their individual stories Yao Guai Cave crafted worlds around them, using 8bit and kalimba-esque ornaments, chimes, bass synths, and percussive grooves. Before moving into his acoustic set, the hosts discussed vaporwave aesthetics and artists with Yao Guai Cave, as well as the effects of the internet on gender and ethnic identity. Finally, the show closed with an original, intimate song performed on acoustic guitar.

Tune into CKUT 90.3 FM next Tuesday from 3-5 pm for the final instalment in The Montreal Sessions hosted by Yellow Noise!

-Cyrenah Smith

Album Review: Narcy – World War Free Now

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Narcy is a political activist/hip hop artist with a sound as intriguing as his message. His new album “World War Free Now” is a beautiful addition to the CKUT library that incorporates sophisticated political commentary, Middle-East influenced sounds, and fascinating vocal samples into a unique symphony of hip-hop that captures the listener from beginning to end.

The way in which an MC combines sounds into backing beats is very important in this day and age of hip hop.  The great rappers of the modern era weave their verses into dense pieces of music to draw more interest and challenge the listener’s ear. With nuances such as guitar solos, violin interludes, and catchy vocal hooks, Narcy has truly established himself musically in “World War Free Now” by providing beautiful melodies in conjunction with his high intensity flow.

Lyrically, the album touches upon many different thematic elements all pertaining to the life of Yassin Alsalman (Narcy). Do to Alsalman’s complicated history as an immigrant with roots in the Middle East and North America, the album makes for a very interesting analysis of the world today. “World War Free Now” in itself is a very complex idea. I think World War Free is a comment on how the world is not currently involved in a clear global conflict (at least not quite as clear as World War One or Two), however, the people in charge still marginalize and take control in the same way they always have resulting in a war on freedom of sorts.  With commentary on the use of drones and overbearing police force, Narcy calls out the actions of the United States and other world leaders in the Middle East as harmful despite their positive intentions.  For Example, the United States entered Iraq with the intention of ending terrorism, but in reality the United States took control of the lives of the people of Iraq in a way that did not provide them with more rights or freedom, thus contradicting their heroic rhetoric. This type of political commentary is raised all over the album and the depth of it all adds a great sense of maturity.

One of the Particularly moving pieces on the album is “Tourist.”  Framed by quotes from John Lennon and Angela Davis on the topic of violence, the song discusses the toll that a land “ruled by the gun” has on its people. The speaker feels that they have been forced out of their home and now they cannot find comfort in the world; they have become a “tourist on a star between the moon and the sun.”  The intense nature of the words is matched by their presentation. Narcy elongates his lyrics in a droning fashion and the sound of it all bleeds the despair felt by the people of his homeland.

The only issue I have faced with this album is my inability to stop listening to it. It is a beautiful work of art on all levels that will both get stuck in your head and make you think.

-Review by Donovan Burtan