Tag Archives: rap

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 

 

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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 

 

Azealia Banks

WomEn in HIp hOP

Azealia Banks

Check out the archives from Venus Radio‘s latest show (all the best music by all the best women for all the best listeners), cuz guest DJ Rachie Hall came in and helped spin and hour’s worth of lady MCs. Listen to it here and check out the track listing below:

  • Queen Latifa Feat. Monie Love-Ladies first
  • Bahamadia and Rah Digga-Be ok
  • Psalm One-Rapper Girls
  • Angel Haze-6’7
  • Cstraps feat. Tospino-Swagalicious
  • Muthoni the Drummer Queen-Mikono Kwenye hewa
  • Tiyiselani Vomaseve-NaXaniseka
  • Unique -War Talk
  • Azealia Banks-L8R
  • Lioness feat. Lady Lashure and Amplify Dot
  • Rainbow Noise-Imma
  • Sima Lee-Trust Nobody
  • Hurricane G.-No More Prisons
  • Keny Arkana-La rage
  • Shadia Mansour feat. M1-El Kofeyye Arabeyye
  • Anita Tijoux feat Invincible-Sube
  • Yoon Mi Rae- ?
  • Isis- Ask a woman

Tune into Venus every week from 12-2pm every Thursday on CKUT 90.3FM or ckut.ca.