Finally something useful for a change. Samplified, a music production company produces sample packs (loops, sounds, etc) to assist musicians in making music. Their latest sample pack, Lo-Fi Hip-Hop & Drum Kit Pack ‘Lost Sessions’ (Production from legendary lofi producer ‘Fat Jon’ and sound engineer/designer ‘Meeke’) delivers pretty much exactly what the name suggests. It features some choice analog sounding, deep cuts complete with subtly crackling tape hiss and all the goodies you want in Lo-Fi samples. While this pack is advertised primarily for hip hop, upon listening to it the pack seemed to me to have plenty of genre crossover appeal. The surreal, often eerie, synth driven ambiance of many of these samples and loops would be suitable for a wide Variety of EDM and vaporwave-like projects. Regardless of what you plan to use them for, buying one of these packs can save you a lot of time you’d otherwise be spending poking around google and youtube collecting weird snippets of random stuff.
Time is a artfully complex new reggae/dance track from DeepJahi. The word “time” is actually an appropriate title for this song as DeepJahi showcases an incredible knack for musical timing. He delivers the lyrics with such precision (within a complex framwework) that one is immediately impressed. It helps that he combines this skill with actual singing ability as well. His voice is all around easy on the ears. Time manages to blend elements of both reggae and synth to creating a satisfying ambiance. The production on this track is excellent. From an audiophile perspective, sonically it’s one of the best produced reggae tracks I’ve ever heard. This song is smooth and crisp all the way around.
Roc Kartel’s new jam, Crazy Moniqua is intriguing in that it is a hip hop song but contains subtle elements of other genres like synth and even rock. One can almost imagine the background music being combined with different vocals for a completely different style of music. Roc does this song justice though with his laid back yet charismatic delivery and what appears to be a genuine reverence for the subject matter (Moniqua.) It’s just hip hop enough have cred with those audiences but still catchy and “pop” enough to appeal to normies. The video for this song is simple but very well done and professional. Rather than waste time on expensive exotic sets, Roc Kartel creates a character driven narrative which engages the viewer/listener. Nothing distracts us from Moniqua, even when we are focused on Roc, he always brings our attention back to her. It’s a pretty solid single from an up and coming artist, who’s probably one or two lucky breaks from a hit song.
New York Soull is the latest album from an artist, “Indie Soull” (real name Mutch Katsonga.) It features a number of NYC live performances as well as some recording sessions. The soulful acoustic minimalism combined with the organic nature of these recordings gives the album a very intimate feel, as though you’re listening to someone performing right in your living room. I mean that in a good way, since there’s nothing amateur about this music. It has the mark of a veteran, well-traveled performer whose paid his dues playing the coffee house circuit, and can pick up and play at the drop of a hat. Some songs like Glow have an earthy, 60′s folk vibe, and Indie Soull is actually a pretty decent vocalist. My favorite song on this album has to be the acoustic driven Sunshine and Storms, which is an absolute masterpiece.
Dario Tartagni’s Music Inspired By the Lord of the Rings is just that and more. Taragni, a composer from Rome has put together an entire album of symphonic music inspired by the Lord of the Rings story / franchise. Some of the tracks even feature voiceover narration. What’s incredible about this is just how amazing it is. This is not some hobbyist attempt at musical fanfiction. The quality of these recordings and the beautiful complexity of the compositions are of such a high caliber that they rival the music of the actual mega-budget film itself. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing a version of the movie which replaced the original soundtrack with Tartagni’s music. Putting this together had to have been a real commitment and labor of passion. Epic doesn’t even begin to describe it. I would recommend this album not just to fans of Lord of the Rings but to anyone who appreciates symphonic music.
Hip hop artist J7 (short for Judah7) has a lot of projects cued up. His song, VIP is set to be released in January 2019. Also he has a mixtape coming out in January (pictured above) and a single for his official album is dropping in March. J7 began as a poet and later became a battle rapper, eventually converting his poems into songs.
You might think someone this busy would cut corners on quality and rush things. However, with VIP J7 demonstrates that he’s a very capable rapper. The song comes across as smooth, well structured and professional. I’ve noticed that “battle rappers” tend to be very impressive, because they’re quick on their feet with improvisation and able to perform under pressure. VIP has a crisp sound, like it just popped right out of the toaster oven. J7′s delivery is dialed up but cool and sleek, set to a darkly groovy beat backdrop. This is a solid song from one of the hungriest and most prolific young hip hop artists I’ve covered in a while. This dude is also a fashion designer, actor, model and “illuminated speaker.” The music speaks for itself.
Love is Gone is a new single from a pop artist known as Junior. As the title suggests, the song is a relationship narrative, that deals with the protagonist lamenting over a breakup with his girlfriend and reminiscing about the good times. The video even features some great shots of the protagonist wearing vintage Tommy Hilfiger and cooking dinner for / with his girlfriend.
Singing to some well chosen synth beats (Bowdown by Mantra) Junior comes across as a worthy pop vocalist. His dynamic voice manages to live up to the production quality of the video (which is very professional and clearly had a decent budget.) Junior’s vocals could hold their own against probably any pop singer currently on the radio. He really manages to carry the whole song, and you start to forget there’s even a beat at all. What makes this a decent pop jam though is that it’s catchy. After only a couple listens I felt like I would recognize this if I heard it while in a clothing store or something. Junior just needs to find a way to get this video to a few million views, and this should set him up nicely for his next release.
The Ghost of my Father is the 2nd album from artist, Trey Wonder. The sound is very organic, with punk and psychedelic musical influences. Some songs are mellow and emotive while other tracks like Building Up and My New Spine are peppy and vibrant. Trey’s vocal and musical style reminds me a bit of Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground. He even sounds like him somewhat.
The lead song Microbe has over 30k streams on Spotify. It’s one of the more creative and avant garde songs on the album. Trey occasionally breaks into (subtly humorous) spoken word interludes, at one point busting out with “I’m not saying it was aliens, but it was probably aliens.” Trey definitely has a knack for writing genius lyrics and composing them into an unexpectedly cohesive narrative. The guitars on Microbe have a warm and vintage tone, delightfully clangy. Microbe is just he right length, too. It leaves an impression as a mini avant-garde epic, which doesn’t ramble on too long or overstay its welcome. This is especially good since it is only the first song on the album.
The Ghost of my Father has a lot of variety and is a great example of what can be accomplished when a punk musician matures and starts experimenting artistically.
Close To The Ground is a new album from Barcelona based artist/producer, Plastic Teardrops. Set to be released Jan 1, 2019, the album features a trip hop oriented sound, influenced by artists like Massive Attack and Portishead. The music is brooding and darkly ambient, occasionally evoking some wonderful David Lynch vibes. The mix of indie acoustic/electric guitars, synths and loungy vocals creates an eclectic, chilled out atmosphere with moody hints of underlying tension. My favorite song on here is probably There is No Escape, which could best be described as a combination of a John Carpenter movie instrumental soundtrack, Bjork and late night acoustic coffee house music. Close To The Ground is just a really well put together album, produced and performed at a level far beyond what’s expected of most indie music. When I was a kid, a common question when you meet someone was “What kind of music do you listen to?” Usually people preferred only one style. Since people now grow up being exposed to and influenced by many different genres of music, we see more and more artists concocting these creative blends. This album is an example of it being done successfully.
Miami based Hip hop artist, RawJxw’s new jam Rawcula is something else. Set to a backdrop of Draculian thematic elements, the slow and methodical beats combine with his quick witted delivery to create a unique and darkly effective track. Rawcula is appropriately titled as the lyrics are often unpredictably humorous in a very and raw kind of way which will leave the listener laughing uncomfortably throughout the song. The tone is very ominous and low key, but one thing that’s apparent is that this guy can really rap. His ability to maintain precise timing while delivering in short quick bursts is impressive. He also has something many indie rappers lack, which is his own distinct sounding voice. I feel like it would be easy to recognize if I heard it again. That should help this guy stand out. Rawcula does a great job creatively incorporating the dracula gimmick into a talented hip hop song for maximum effect.