The term “freestyle” gets thrown around a lot nowadays in hip hop and is frequently misused to refer to “freedom of thought” or simply “free form” such as unstructured, free verse poetry. However, rapper Thuggizzle freestyles in the true, authentic sense in that he raps without pre-written lyrics. He simply delivers lyrics off the top of his head on the fly. Creating coherent hip hop songs in this way is a kind of a lost art and has always been seen as a metric of credibility. So it’s great to see Thuggizzle embracing it. His new jam,Get Cha Hustle Up has a smooth flow and makes creative use of vocal layering. The backing music consists of a synth driven, groove-shakingly danceable beat of light drama and medium intensity. It’s a solid release with better production than what you’d expect with most indie hip hop songs. The song mixes 90′s style musical artfulness and authenticity with contemporary production values and futuristic flavor.
Well, this sort of thing is right up my alley. Indie, DIY, avant garde cover art and great overall aesthetic. Close Enough to Fix is an EP released by Color School, an indie rock band from DC. The sound is classic garage pop but with a bit of a twist. Camille Miller’s vocals are delightfully perfect and add a bit of folkish sparkle to the mix. The members of this band are longtime veterans of underground music going back to at least the eighties, (having played in groups such as Velvet Monkees, High Back Chairs, Young Caucasians, Dream Kitchen, The Dispensers, Revellaires.) Their experience shows. The songs are peppy, polished and well written….really just beautiful. The lyrics are lightly romantic and genuine. The album actually reminds me a lot of 90s indie albums in that the recording isn’t dressed up with a lot of unnecessary effects and processing. It sounds very clean and authentic, and the musiciansmanship on here speaks for itself. In fact, the track Own reminds me of the sort of song they would have used as the theme song / intro in early 90s teen tv shows like “California Dreams.” Listening to this EP has actually made me want to check out some old releases from the bands these guys were in.
In a Minute is a single from Mobile, Alabama based hip hop artist, Brazil Hill. Though In a Minute is classified as a hip hop song, it should be noted that Brazil Hill does more than just rhyme when she delivers her lines, she sings. She has good vocal timing, which helps the sound pop and bounce neatly. Lyrically, the song chronicles the strain and genuine longing involved in long distance relationships, something that should resonate with a lot of people in the internet age. The song’s romantic content combined with the melodic vocals and groovin back beat make this a solid all around release.
Because I Turned You Down is a new single from vocalist Sarah May, who can actually sing. Her smooth voice charms the listener even as her straightforward lyrics give a thorough scolding to the male target on the receiving end. The fact that there’s minimal music only serves to reinforce the confidence in Sarah’s delivery. True to the theme, there’s nothing to obscure May’s voice, and her singing is good enough on its own to carry the entire song without any tricks or production gimmicks. That’s not to say the entire song is done a capella. On the contrary, the song kicks into high gear revealing a club worthy, danceable beat and dialed up vocal intensity. A brutally honest song that’s bolstered by authentic musical merit.
Edward St. Martin’s new track, Lullaby combines classical elements with pop to create a symphonic ambiance. The orchestral into sets the tone for high drama as the song transitions into a sparkling, dreamy synthpop escapades. The best way to describe the sound is cinematic. The dynamic female vocals emotionally engaging backing music conjur up powerful visuals in one’s imagination. This song feels like it should be part of a soundtrack of a movie we haven’t seen yet. Lullaby maintains a certain softness while turning up the emotional intensity. It’s a worthy pop song that breaks away from contemporary mass market music cliches and goes off in its own unique direction.
One of the more creative releases I’ve come across is HELLTOWN’s faerytalesaretoorealtobear. This surprisingly avant garde jam blends hip hop with indie alternative music to create a truly unique sound. If you just casually heard this song playing somewhere, you might assume it’s just emo coffee house music, but if you listen closely it’s actually hip hop which is adapting a certain aesthetic. The song is slightly creepy but in a good way. The romantic undertones present themselves as a kind of sick love, a madness screaming for more. This is one of the better hip hop songs I’ve had the chance to review. It’s kind of a shame something this artful will likely be relegated to obscurity, but hey that’s the real sickness of the world we live in.
Waves is a deep house / electronic track from music artist, “MusmeD.” Though it’s electronic music, it has a very organic, instrumental feel to it and doesn’t sound mechanical at all. Waves is actually a pretty descriptive title for the song. The hypnotic beat and soothing vocals make this experience the electronic equivalent of listening to the ocean through a seashell. It’s not quite synthwave, not quite vaporwave but represents an electronic “wave,” brimming with deep ambiance all the same. The vocals on this song are incredible and take the track to another level, but even as an instrumental, Waves could still stand on its own.
According to MusmeD, he’s currently working on his debut album of electronic music, while also mixing and mastering for a number of artists in his spare time.
Rapper Nick Nittoli (whom despite the name… may or may not actually be Italian) has a new release out, called Gimme Da Money. It is a fairly straightforward and pointed song. Frequently repeating the title mantra, Nittoli maintains a laser-like focus on what it is he’s after, throughout the song. He wants money. The song gets a deeper truth in that really money is what matters, and too often people are willing to accept flash and style as a substance for something they actually need. Nittoli won’t accept this con. He flat out states that he wants money, and isn’t interested in any BS. He’s also also a pretty solid rapper with a good sense of timing, and the song itself is quite catchy. The repetition works here, and I found myself humming this tune a few hours after listening to it. It would actually make a great subliminal motivational recording for aspiring entrepreneurs. Just pop this bad boy in the tape deck when you go to sleep and wake up the next morning ready to secure those bills
Hip hop artist “K Tuck’s” unmistakably southern background clearly plays a large role in his musical endeavors. His latest track, Larry Bird Pt 2, makes good use of K Tuck’s southern drawl and laid back delivery, creating a larger than life persona that’s almost instantly likable. Like most good rappers, he mixes casual seriousness with unexpected humor, peppered with pop culture references (ie Mr. Miyagi, Rocky etc.) He even takes a moment to dish about his own underwear. The musical backing for this song is incredibly chill, almost hypnotic. It almost reminds me of the darker music from 70′s Burt Reynolds action movies like Gator and White Lightning. True to the actual content of both the track and the video, Larry Bird Pt 2 is a kick back song, ideal for sitting in a backyard drinking 40s with your bros. Aside from being a mischievously clever poet with a knack for catchy pop lines, K Tuck has a decent stage presence and a charisma about him. You get the sense that this dude is laid back, low drama and throws a good party.
Set to appear on their upcoming EP titled Somewhere in Between,Wrote You a Song is a recently released single from Netherlands based band, “The Limiters.” The sound falls somewhere between alternative and adult contemporary rock. Had I listened to this song without knowing where the band is from I would have never assumed they were from the Netherlands. It could easily pass for American rock ‘n’ roll. Frontman Leslie Warendorff has the kind of vocals that were made for this style of music. His voice has a subtly refined ruggedness to it which combines with some exceptional singing ability to create a warm and gritty rock sound. Wrote You a Song is ultimately not boxed in by genre and will appeal to a wide range of listeners. It features high level performance and production quality while retaining the artistic credibility of an indie song.