Today, I have some alt hip hop beats to bump as you creep down the block. It’s tough not to get started on a rant about the current state of commercial hip hop, or that of the engorged underground, which itself seems to be a driving source of lyrical material, so I’ll just get to posting up a few tracks I’ve been playin’ recently.
Onra – The One (ft. T3 of Slum Village) – Long Distance
Onra has been earning a rightful distinction as being among the few post-Dilla producers to carry a splinter of the torch, with his latest release Long Distance, which Pitchfork lauds “Onra did a better Dilla than most who namecheck Dilla do right now.” While not entirely new material, Long Distance acts as a body of work, a portfolio of sorts, for new listeners and those of us who have known about him for the past couple years. Here’s a track featuring T3, the sole-surviving third founding member of Slum Village (consisting of T3, Baatin, and Jay Dee aka J Dilla), the lyrics are incredible if listened to with the right mindset, perhaps something we can all relate to–speculations and regret over past relationships. Now, what makes Onra’s production on this beat so worthy of the Dilla comparison is how little it ends up sounding like something Dilla actually would have made, it’s got Onra’s unique French and 80′s influences. Another contender for album of the year in my book.
Madvillain – Papermill – Adult Swim Singles Program #2
Adult Swim on Cartoon Network (yeah, on TV) has become one of my favorite record labels that’s not even a record label since they started releasing music with Danger Doom‘s The Mouse & The Mask in 2005. Since then, they’ve released landmark compilations with labels like Stones Throw, Arts & Crafts, and Ghostly International, successively. It’s very cool to see TV programming of all things that actually has it’s finger on a different pulse of pop culture, one defined by the listeners and not the big label executives in a board room power point presentation…proper levels of distribution that encourages exploration and discovery, not going with what you hear on TV or the radio being played over, and over, and over again. While we wait like a little kid on the night before their birthday for Adult Swim’s next big comp, they have a free single every week from artists like Madvillain (Madlib and MF Doom) and Killer Mike (see below) and an excellent track from Washed Out.
Killer Mike – Swimming – Adult Swim Singles Program #3
I think the dust has finally settled after Flying Lotus‘ 2010 full-length, Cosmogramma, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still doing all manner of good things, including a beat for this dope track by Killer Mike, who you might recognize from collaborations with Outkast, whose Big Boi has a solo album on the way. Here’s an example of a track with commercial-level appeal that I can get into, not just because FlyLo is on the beat, or I have always dug Outkast, before they were all over MTV and after their acceptance into the mainstream, but because it has the same lyrical pace and drawl of a lot of similar stuff that I couldn’t feel in those other tracks…ok maybe then it is because it’s FlyLo on the beat, at least I can admit it now.
P.U.D.G.E. – Lost Angela – Idiot Box
I met DJ Brandwan while hanging out listening to Percussion Lab radio, and we’ve been casually exchanging music recommendations for a bit now– he recently had me checking out P.U.D.G.E., while I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the release as a whole, I like this track (the those surrounding it). Damned if it doesn’t draw you in if not out of sheer confusion about what you’re hearing, than by the intricate production. It reminds me a little of Koushik or Metal Fingers for it’s textured jumble of sounds and cuts…I can only wonder what the heck is going on here– some kind of argument or telephone conversion, or maybe something sampled from an old television (read: idiot box?), slightly comedic, with distortion, and some sleezed out funky jazz section with dubbed out percussion. The personality here is unlike anything I’ve heard before.