The song “Shine On” delivers its message in a refreshingly upbeat manner. It’s performed by Darick DDS Spears, Natalie Jean, and Dennis Sy, an unlikely trio, with each coming from different musical backgrounds. They bring it together to create a positive sound which mixes light hip hop with elements of jazz and with a bit of Caribbean flavor. It reminds me somewhat of late 90′s pop classics like Vitamin C’s “Smile,” only with more substantive content. The song conveys its subject matter in a unifying and friendship seeking tone, which should allow listeners to be more receptive rather than feel instantly alienated the way they would with less tactfully presented material. The performers all balance each other very well, and nothing seems out of place. Musically, “Shine On” hooks you in right away with it’s funky and festive intro and is never boring. The only downside to this jam is that it’s just a single. It’s a good one though.
Herman Martinez, a self described singer/songwriter/multi-Instumentalist from N.J, has a new album out titled, “Solopsi Radio.” It was produced by Ahmed Mahmoud. The songs have an experimental quality to them that seem to mix different rock genres, while including obscure samples and defying traditional song structures. The very first song, “Phonic Chronicles” is a good example of this. It’s very hard to classify but still rocks just the same. A lot of the songs vaguely remind me of variations of 90′s indie experimental music. The track “Sculptor” has an alternative feel to it, reminiscent of old school Sebadoh. One element that seems to work really well is the way each song continuously builds momentum. Often they begin with very minimal guitars or quiet samples/noise, but slowly work their way up toward bellowing, blended chaos and a darker, fuller sound. With 11 songs total and nearly an hour of music, this album delivers a great variety of content. I’d recommend this album to anyone who is looking for music that isn’t boring. It leaves you with a great feeling of not knowing what to expect.
An alumni of the Berklee College of Music, Coreena proves herself to be a more than capable performer and songwriter as well. Her upcoming EP, “She, Myself and I,” is set to be released on August 24th. Though she writes and produces her own material, the finished product sounds remarkably professional. Her new EP aspires to be a “conceptual album of her different musical personalities.” The song “Sugar Love Glow” has kind of a mellow, ambient dance quality to it. “Apocalyptic” can be described as a unique mix of 1950s lounge singer vocals with a tribal techno beat backing. I was blown away by all the songs on the EP, but my favorite has to be “Ex-girlfriend.” It is energetic and upbeat, with a synth driven chorus that really carries the song. When it kicks in, you get that feeling like “Yes! I’m way into this.” I recommend you buy this EP when it comes out. This music is much better than anything you’ll hear on the radio. Pure class.
Aside from being an incredibly talented musician, she managed to recover from a devastating brain hemorrhage two years ago. After losing vision and some of her memories, she had to relearn basic things we take for granted like how to walk, read and write. Within a year of hard work and rehabilitation,she was back to being able to play the piano well again.
She recently recorded a new album, “The Captain.” The title track contains uplifting melodies with oceanic ambiance in the background. Though there are no lyrics, the song manages to evoke positive and optimistic emotions. In contrast, her song “Life,” which is just as terrific, harbors a more somber and varied tone. “I’m in love with…” is another gem that builds to a somewhat epic climax. It’s tough for me to say which of the songs I like the best, as they all kind of represent different moods and experiences. Musically they are top quality. I could envision these songs being used as part of a soundtrack to the emotional scenes of a film. Naro has achieved great things musically with this album, quickly making you forget what she had to go through to create it.
Young rapper “Jazz” from Texas has a jam out called summer. The backing has kind of an early 90′s feel to it, which matches the aesthetic of the cover. The beats seem to transition back and forth from tribal to modern throughout the song. Jazz has a very laid back style of spoken word delivery, that’s very easy to listen to. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys mellow summertime hip hop songs.
California group Africali’s “You Don’t Love Him Quite Like You Love Me” has a pleasant 1970′s folk aesthetic. The percussion elements and musical backing contribute to creating a really authentic ambiance. I would love to hear how this sounds on vinyl. It would make an excellent track to relax to on a summer afternoon. You can listen to it here on Soundcloud.
Valley Joe, a rapper from Vallejo, CA has a new single out called, “If I Got Rich.” Like the title suggests, the lyrics mostly about what he would do with the money in the event he accumulated a lot of it. The production is good, and the eerie backing is well chosen. Valley Joe has an assertive style and tone to his delivery, which gets the point across clearly and plainly to the listener. I recommend you check out his music if you are into contemporary West Coast hip hop / NorCal style.
Hailing from Greensboro, NC, Jerrel Moore has a new mixtape out, titled, “Dear Nas.” It seems to be somewhat personal and autobiographical as the songs attempt to convey various aspects of his personality, experiences and outlook to his son(the first sample is one of a baby crying) He has a mellow, echoey kind of delivery style. The production and sample integration seems to fit well. The lyrics are more personal than you would expect from this kind of recording but often interesting and unpredictable. You can check out Jerrel Moore’s mixtape here:
Jreasn, an artist from Buffalo, NY has a new single out titled, “That Way.” Jreasn seems like you’re average rapper at first, but what’s especially impressive about his music is how he manages to avoid falling back on hip hop stereotypes and cliches and is able to create something genuinely new. “That Way” has an artistic musical quality to it which explores the feelings of a woman hurt by the past. The song flows smoothly and has character. It steers clear of the smug aggression and superficialities which are so common in other indie hip hop. Give Jreasn’s music a listen here.
Rich Newly is a rapper from Fontana, CA. His songs have kind of a mellow classic 90′s California style. The beats and samples bring to minds old school analog stuff like Tribe Called Quest. Rich’s song with the best aesthetic in my opinion is probably “Run It.” It’s catchy. The flow is smooth, and the jam has a killer intro.