Archive for the ‘Hip-hop’ Category

AtM – “A Night Like This”

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Tonight (2/18) we have a stack session with a St. Louis hip-hop duo you should know by now– AtM (pronounced "atom"), whose mixtape "A Night Like This" dropped last August, are one of the more well-known local hip-hop acts in this city, and if you don't know them yet, then now is the time. Tune in at 10pm tonight for something very special.

 

You can get the mixtape here: http://atmmme.bandcamp.com

Their soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/a-t-m-3

Upcoming shows: 

2/21: w/ G-Eazy at Old Rock House 

3/2: at The Demo

In the meantime, here's something that resembles an album review.

cover

 

    If I had a time machine, I can think of about a thousand things I might try to do with it, but one of them would involve going back to the starstruck conversation I never thought I'd be having in March of 2012, with a well-known rapper, who asked me what I knew about the St. Louis hip-hop scene; to which I reluctantly told him if there was indeed someone or something spectacular coming out of St. Louis these days, I hadn't heard it yet. 

    As it turns out, there was (and still is) something spectacular here, and if I hadn't been living under a rock at the time, I would have said to keep an eye out for A Night Like This, AtM's first mixtape, which dropped last August. I would have said what I shouted last October at the Gramophone, drowned out by the noise of a crowd, when I first saw AtM live: "These kids can actually rap."

    Amir and Malcolm have a natural and comfortable vocal pairing; they bounce off each other with ease. Sometimes their music plays a fluid game of compare-and-contrast: frenzied/calm, smooth/jagged. A Night Like This starts off with the kind of track that punches you in the face– "Year 1," backed by a beat of epic proportions, a sweeping Michael Franco production that throws you headlong into the tape, and as Amir rips through the first verse, it's obvious that AtM is not playing around. They're lucky enough to have several instances of Michael Franco's production on here; sometimes the only word truly capable of describing Franco's standalone beats is "gorgeous." (Michael Franco, another St. Louis musician, is one half of Franco-Hill, and if you catch an AtM live show you could easily be blessed by their musical backing. The other half, Jeff Hill –also AtM's music director– is unbearably talented on the drums; you'll hear him referred to as "The Best Drummer in St. Louis." The music they make as Franco-Hill is incredible and their chemistry is unmatched, but that's another review altogether.)

(It's just like this, no need to fight it/ Invite it/Try me out, you just might like it)

    It's no surprise that when AtM breaks out "That Woman" at a live show, the crowd can't help but sing along with the hook of what is probably their most well-known track– it's a rich soulful song with a complex set of verses, and the beat is downright irresistible. Probably the most interesting thing about A Night Like This is that it retains a unifying sound while the actual experience of listening can be all over the map– "Hero Troubles" is relentlessly emotional; "Odd Motivation" is dark, soulful, oddly rhythmic; "You Take Up 95% of My Brain" is far more lighthearted– like "Time Machine," it's catchy as all hell and solidifies these MCs in my mind as two twenty-year old men who deserve serious credit for the music they make, and deserving of the affections of various unnamed women they're rapping about. Amir and Malcolm's flows can blend seamlessly with all different types of beats, but they also work well with a range of topics and emotions; listening to this mixtape will make you want to know them, and by the end of it, you'll feel like you do, to some degree.

    This is hip-hop that takes itself seriously, as hip-hop should. The music feels genuine, heartfelt. These boys are young, but I don't bring that up for the usual reasons– they don't try to cover subject matter that's beyond their scope. Their content is age-appropriate, but handled with a surprisingly tongue-in-cheek sense of humor– the everyday struggles of young men are illuminated by a remarkable maturity, and it's obvious they have room to grow, both for themselves and their music. In this case, that's a good thing.

    It's the plague of young MCs (think Joey Badass) that no matter how talented they are, they've either got nothing to say or lack emotional maturity, and eventually end up spitting what sounds like the same old verse, packed with nifty little jokes and similes. With AtM, this is not my concern– like all young men, they have emotional depth and complexity; unlike all young men, they're good at talking about it without sounding corny. Their talent isn't wasted on clever throwaway rhymes and regurgitated attitudes and attributes drawn from raps of old; they use their considerable abilities to create something new. Listening to A Night Like This, you are made to understand that creating music is a thoroughly personal process, not merely producing something for others to consume–whether you're scribbling or spitting or just sitting with the music and spending time with it, it is a process that involves growth and furthering your understanding. You can tell that their next project could very well sound completely different from A Night Like This but still sound like AtM, and that by then, they will have matured somewhat, without falling off. 

    St. Louis has been hungry for this, for kids who can actually rap. And they have been here for twenty years, calmly waiting to blow up. 

 

 

follow them on twitter

-NG

Some ‘Best Of’ Nonsense

Thursday, May 6th, 2010
EDAN – BEAUTY AND THE BEAT (2005)

I guess I’m a few months late to the best-of-the-decade superlative party, but fuck it. In the aughts hip-hop got soggy as shit – the music hit the mainstream like never before, and it definitely suffered because of it. However that’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of great output in the last decade, and we saw great albums from the likes of Binary Star, Ghostface, Mr. Lif, and particularly groups outta California like Blackalicious, Jurassic 5, People Under the Stairs, and the whole Stones Throw stable of artists. But then we also saw the rise of Edan, a triple-threat MC/DJ/producer from Boston. I don’t know if his second album Beauty and the Beat is the “best” album from the last ten years, but I certainly think it’s the “coolest.” Edan is a very good MC, and he scratches well too, but the production on this album is just insane. Boiled down to a few words, this is “psychedelic hip-hop,” which I of course mean in the best way possible. This is innovative stuff: he successfully meshes hip-hop with something reminiscent of a Krautrock sound and maybe like early Funkadelic’s trippy rock. Running only 34 minutes, it flows together beautifully. If there’s any justice, this’ll go down as a classic.

A taste:

Miracles…damn….

Thursday, April 15th, 2010
DAMU THE FUDGEMUNK – HOW IT SHOULD SOUND VOL. 1 & 2

This is a collection of previously unreleased instrumental beats from Washington D.C. producer Damu the Fudgemunk.

In my opinion, this is the best hip-hop producer to emerge in the last couple of years. (I say that in terms of straight-up hip-hop beats, as opposed to more hybridized hip-hop forms, like you see in guys like Flying Lotus.) This man continues the finest traditions of crate digging, layering dope soul/funk/jazz samples with all the technical skill of Pete Rock or Premier. His beats are absolutely good enough to be listened to as instrumentals, the sign of any truly dope producer, and are intricate enough to keep you listening and not come off as repetitive. In addition to all the really dusty samples, he has the unique talent of taking recognizable samples used by his 90s predecessors and flipping them in totally new ways. So you get that “oh shit, I know that!” factor but it’s still very fresh at the same time. For some reason, Damu hasn’t absolutely exploded in the underground. (I asked Sadat X if he knew this guy, and we was like “Damon Fudge-who?” and I was like that’s really depressing.) Changing his lame-ass name would certainly be a good start towards fame.

A taste:

mixed bag

Monday, February 8th, 2010
DARONDO – LET MY PEOPLE GO (2006)

Luv N Haight released this compilation of rare 70s soul tracks by this dude Darondo, and we thank them for that.

DJ CAM – MAD BLUNTED JAZZ (1995)
The name really says it all. Cam sorta belongs to the downtempo genre, but this first album (both studio and live tracks) is really just some nice jazz/hip-hop stuff.

MAGNUM – FULLY LOADED (1974)
Funk, soul, psychedelic, etc. Love that album cover.

Together At Last

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
WU-TANG VS. THE BEATLES (2010)

I don’t know who this Tom Caruana character, is but he puts Danger Mouse’s “Grey Album” to shame.