Where Were You When the World Stopped? is a new EP from Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, Brad Byrd. Blending elements of folk, rock and Americana, the title track is an instant, heartfelt classic. It’s touching and quietly sentimental. The music has an intricate and very personal feel, offering a small, refreshing slice of humanity to contrast the harsh world we live in. One of the songs, When You Need Me is slightly more rocking and features a rich, vibrant mix. It’s peppy, energizing and will just really brighten up your mood. Brad Byrd’s vocals have a trustworthy, reassuring tone. His voice is charismatic while also brimming with thoughtful sensitivity. Musically, this album is nicely polished. It combines the organic, sincere qualities of the classic singer-songwriter genre with 21st century production and contemporary instrumental accents. Where Were You When the World Stopped? is powerful in its tenderness.
Give In is a new single from R&B/Gospel artist, Tyrell Butler on ER the Label. Slated for official release on August 20, 2021, this song is a stylish and creative entry in the genre. One pleasant surprise is that Give In actually incorporates guitars, which isn’t something you hear too often in the contemporary R&B. The guitar tones add a warm, classic feel to the ambiance, which is already melodically rich and colorful. There’s a nice build to the action, which is emotionally invigorating at the song’s climactic points.
Tyrell Butler is an excellent singer. His voice is expressive, and it’s impressive hearing him nail those high notes. As I’ve said a million times before, you just can’t fake it with R&B/gospel, and this guy obviously can sing. The vocal harmonies really drive the energy and are quite moving emotionally. Give In also has a mellow yet danceworthy beat. This song is a high quality and totally professional release. You can’t ask for much more. While you’re waiting for the official release date, you can get ahead of the game by pre-saving the track in the link below.
Tension 3.0 is a single from Soundsex, newly remixed by Decoding Jesus. There’s actually backstory with this track. Originally it was produced back in 2012 as Tension by Chase Wiggs, Jacob Bailey and Miko Franconi under the name of Soundex. The group split up in 2012 but Miko Franconi continued on with the name, and the classic song became a staple for many DJs.
The latest incarnations of this jam are remixes by Let’s Beat Milo Records’ label owner and producer, Decoding Jesus (whom we’ve featured before). There’s the standard mix and a “break beat” mix. As the title accurately hints at, this song does indeed offer a high intensity experience. Featuring a sleak, pulsepounding beat, Tension 3.0 is mesmerizing. It will transport listeners into the zone and dial up the dance floor energy to 11.
It’s the kind of song that’s hypnotic but will wake you up rather than induce you into a deep sleep. Futuristic synths, strategically placed vocal samples, and crisp bass keep the action high throughout. Tension 3.0 also has sensual undertones, balancing a mechanical, deep space ambiance with a more expressive, human component. This is dark techno at its finest. It’s really incredible to see contemporary classics like Tension continue to evolve, shapeshift and reinvent themselves, as they become exponentially interwoven into the fabric of the dance music scene.
Lil Bit of Heaven is a new single from Southern California-based artist, Forces Unknown (aka Fund*Amental). A member of the Smashpop Collective, which also features artists like Recworm, L.O.R.D., Dominic Bowen, and DJ Limegreen, Forces Unknown has been part of the underground hip hop scene for over 25 years and has performed with Wu-Tang Clan, Cypress Hill and a plethora of other iconic acts.
This latest track boasts a surreal, synth-driven backing that’s brimming with melodic appeal. The beat has just the right amount of bass and balances nicely with the enchanting, music. The lyrical delivery is high octane and engaging. Forces Unknown rhymes with a determined intensity. His style reminds be a bit of slam poetry, with its charismatic energy. His voice is powerful, and you could tell people would still listen to this even if there was no music at all.
As the title implies, Lil Bit of Heaven incorporates spiritual metaphors into its message of courage, love and perseverance. There’s actually some really phenomenal singing on this track, which was pleasantly unexpected as I was expecting this to be just a straightforward hip hop jam. The vocals are beautiful and deliciously soulful. Lil Bit of Heaven delivers plenty of action, while somehow managing to retain an insightful and endearing innocence.
Anytime (Feat. Mr. Maph) is a new single from Vallejo-based hip hop artist, M-Dash. An award winning performer with nine albums and dozens of singles under his belt, M-Dash dazzles with his latest track. It features a groovy and ethereal, synth intro that is simply captivating. The song is actually a smooth and somewhat romantic jam that’s ideal for candle-lit dinners with your significant other but still packs a crisp enough beat to get down to on the dance floor.
As per usual, M-Dash’s delivers his lyrics expressively and his performance balances confidence with sensuality. Surprisingly, the song also contains some tropical elements and intersperses some reggae vibes. The vocals on this track are pretty sweet and melodic, elevating Anytime into something beyond a mere “rap” song. Musically, the song has a lot to offer listeners from different audiences. It transcends genres and also has a timeless feel. If I heard this song randomly, I might not be able to guess what decade it was made. M-Dash has definitely carved out his own unique sound, and the ambient blend he concocts here works quite well.
BBL is a new single from well-known hip hop artist, NatStar. This track is slick and has hit written all over it. A lot of songs have meme-worthy or marketable titles, but BBL backs it up with top notch production, good music and a straight up performance. The sonic clarity is excellent. This seriously sounds better than most major label hip hop releases. There’s not not even a trace of anything abrasive in the mix. NatStar’s delivery is tight and businesslike as he manages to rap about the salacious subject matter is a cool and professional tone. He keeps a good poker face throughout the track. The timing with the vocals and the beat is razor sharp. You really can’t ask for much more. BBL is a song that’s dialed into contemporary pop culture, and this jam definitely has the ingredients to take off.
Three-17 is a new EP from North Carolina hip hop artist, Big Dojah. He has released a number of jams since 2019, often collaborating with other North Carolina artists. Songs like Watchu like (Tudda), Guardian angel (B.A.M.B), and Saliva are some of his more prominent releases to date. He is also apparently known for talking about himself in the third person and talking to himself, and freely admits there is a hint of madness to his persona. “Of course I talk to myself, I’m the only one who truly cares what I have to say,” he has been quoted as saying.
His recent release, Three-17, definitely demonstrates he’s focused and professional when it comes to rapping. His stream of consciousness delivery style flows evenly throughout the tracks. You can tell this guy really has a lot of experience freestyling. He’s a natural storyteller, as the lyrics on the opening track 317 Gs make clear, and he gives a detailed version of events relating to a recent arrest. Against the backdrop of a crisp, suspenseful beat, the content is just very engaging and detailed. Free Rio offers another fine example of this, and has probably my favorite musical intro on the album as well. Other songs like Still Barkin have more of a a dreamlike and surreal vibe. Big Dojah brings both skill and a unique personality to this EP. I think we can expect to hear a lot more from him in the future.
Vendetta is a new album from artist, Vendetta. His style combines elements of rock and hip hop. The unique twist though is that the songs also have a haunting and surreal vibe, unlike older blended styles like rapcore. The backing beats are high intensity and have a futuristic, almost industrial quality. Kemini’s vocal delivery is expressive. He spouts his rhymes with passion and emotional intensity, while also occasionally revealing a relaxed side on some of the lighter tracks.
He’s a surprisingly versatile performer, who’s able to transform his vocal style to accommodate the frequent changes in the music. There are a lot of lyrics packed into these songs, as Kemini’s “stream of consciousness” style flow seems to never be at a loss for words. My favorite song on Vendetta is probably Be Like Wayne with its snappy rhythm and witty verses. The most prominent and radio friendly single on the album is probably Cross the Line. There’s a sweet video for this jam that’s slightly psychedelic and artistically edited.
Man On a M.I.S.S.I.O.N. is a new album from Buffalo, NY-based hip hop artist, Kobra Man. You get the idea this is something classic right away with the first track, Basic Instinct. The piano-driven back beat is exquisite and gives the music an almost vintage feel, while the overall ambiance is haunting and hypnotic. Kobra Man’s delivery style is conversational and reflective. It’s like listening to a contemplative monologue or storytelling session. He has a naturally charismatic and attention-commanding flow, and his voice occasionally builds in intensity, corresponding with the climactic points of the songs.
One of my favorite tracks on here is the no-nonsense jam, Fully Equipped. The minimalist beat is balanced by some rather creative vocal effects and a lively performance. Kobra Man playfully incorporates animalistic metaphors to emphasize his ferocity and go-getter attitude. Man On a M.I.S.S.I.O.N. is stylish and original. The title turns out to be very appropriate, as the mixtape remains thematically and artistically consistent throughout. It’s the work of a determined man who knows what he is going for and sticks to the plan.
DROP (Prod. By Skeyez Beats) is a new single from Minneapolis-based hip hop artist, Xay Herron. The backing beat on this track is futuristic and slick, with a nice, crisp bass that’s sure to bump in pretty much any sound system. Xay Herron’s delivery is dynamic and moves along in a rhythmic, methodical fashion. Occasional breaks in the beat help to shake up the song’s structure a bit, adding an element of complexity. The robust bass is balanced by a chill atmosphere and melodic vocals. With its fresh and slightly mysterious ambiance, this is definitely the kind of jam that seems ideal for nighttime drives through the city. Xay Herron has quite a few interesting releases under his belt. I recommend checking out some of those as well.