Damn, as I mentioned last week, I’ve sadly been sleeping on Wale! All these months have passed (after first hearing…err….seeing the name “Wale” and his track “Nike Boots” appear as one of Cocaine Blunt’s “Top Tracks of ’07″) and yet I’d never even put forth the effort to even check his free mixtape “100 Miles and Runnin” or one single track from Washington D.C.’s finest. Now, after pumpin’ Wale’s latest collection of work, “The Mixtape About Nothing” for the better half of the week. I’m here to tell you that I’m a believer!!! Not only is this 10 Deep presentation one of the best “mixtapes” that I’ve heard in minute, it’s definitely one of the best “albums” as well. Even though Kanye’s received flack from alot of heads as of late, he was also one of the first cats to not only be accepted by the mainstream, but also the underground claimed him as one of their’s as well…appealing not only to the cat on the corner slangin’ from 9 ta’ 5, but also to the backpacker attending Community College on the day to day.
“The Mixtape About Nothing” sounds more like an “album” than a “mixtape”. Choosing to bring new material to the table, than just a bunch of “freestyles” over familiar beats…well, there may be a few exceptions, Wale spits over The Roots’ “Star” for the appropriately titled “The Star” (BTW, could anyone please tell me if the beat that introduces “The Star” has been used already, I think that it’s my first exposure to it, but I’m not quite sure) as well as Jay’s “Roc Boys” for “The Freestyle (Roc Boys)”, but that’s about it. Highlighting D.C.’s signature “Go Go” sound on many of the tracks, Best Kept Secret does a fine job of backing Wale’s surprisingly (if you’ve never heard ‘em before) introspective and thought provoking lyrics. I was truly blown away after hearing tracks like Wale’s “Sucka’ Ni*ga ’08″, “The Kramer”, “The Crazy” (those damn “Go
Go” drums again…I see you Chuck Brown!!) and “The Artistic Integrity”. Even the often mimicked Method Man and Mary J. Blige classic “You’re All I Need” gets a nice face lift on “The Remake Of A Remake”. Bottom line, in my book at least, Wale is that dude who can also possibly give mainstream hip hop a “face lift” as well…similar to the way Kanye did it. Too bad it’s taken me this long to find out!! Get the free download at 10 Deep
Next up, we have this crazy, distorted, noisy album that arrived earlier this week virtually outta’ nowhere as a free download. Donwill, 1/3 of the underground favs Tanya Morgan, along with producer suhBurb has been grindin’ out “Suburban Sprawl”, a project that was believed to originate in early 2006. According to Donwill: “suhBurb would send these 15 minute long mp3 beat tapes to us and they would flow like an album. I remember the one that originally sparked the idea was the “Brazil Beat tape” (sounds like a porno now that i think about it) and when i had heard it i liked so much of it that i jokingly suggested to him that i would just write verses, two track it and release that. A few emails, AIM conversations, phone calls and years later and we are both proud to present to you “Suburban Sprawl”.
Donwill also added: “Some of you may have heard the demo’s of the songs from “Suburban Sprawl via (Donwill & Illyas’) “Beat Thieves 2″. Some are featured on “Mixing In Action” and some were passed on by me to my several sets of second ears either out of boredom, frustration or i just wanted a critique on what they sounded like. The thing to understand about the demo’s of these songs is that those were the sketches that i submitted to suhBURB. The versions in the linked .zip file are the fully realized final creations. Loud, distorted, tinny, crunchy or strange; call it what you may but the one word that sums the collective body of work up best is intentional. Not enough people challenge themselves while making music, let alone the listener. After all there is no grand prize or award for making it to the end of an album, only an opinion and hopefully a glimpse into the time the artist spent between inception and release. This is our snapshot, hopefully the images are focused enough for you to see what we captured.”
Man, I hate to speak so highly of two albums in the same breath but this collective effort between suhBURB and Dowill is bananas! I don’t know who this suhBURB cat is and I’d never even heard of him prior to the release of “Suburban Sprawl”, but who ever he is…he is hella’ talented! The production on this album is Radiohead meets Jimi Hendrix meets J Dilla, but most importantly it’s original. I haven’t heard anything quite like this all year! Don’t be mistaken, Donwill is a proven emcee in his own right, but “Suburban Sprawl” has been a very pleasant surprise as it received heavy rotation on the Ipod this week. If you have been sleepin’ on this release as well, be sure to peep it HERE. Also, I won’t hesitate to say that “Surburban Sprawl” is also one of the better listens of 2008 thus far.
Wow, score “When They Reminisce” a late pass with this one! If you’ve never heard Deep Rooted’s “The Second Coming” your missing out! I will warn you though….I’ve always been a sucker for old soul samples and trunk rattling bass knocks (see: Ill Poetic, Pete Rock, Nicolay, Illmind, Khrysis and on occasion 9th Wonder) along with an “R & B chick” on the hook. All that can be found (matter of fact there are soothing vocals…compliments of Brea that supply the hook to nearly all 17 tracks on “The Second Coming”) on “The Second Coming”. While I know very little about emcee Mr. Brady & DJ/Producer Johazz, they must have been doing something right for the likes of One Be Lo, Oh No, Planet Asia & Abstract Rude (whom all make appearances on the album) to co-sign them. If you only listen to one track from the album make it the One Be Lo featured “Break Of Dawn”. With it’s breezy production and a scene stealing verse from 1/2 of Binary Star this song truly represents “feel good music”. On the other hand, if your one of those dudes that stays angry at the world for a better portion of the day…bypass this one, for this album is the perfect soundtrack to those beautiful mid-summer evenings that our commonplace during this time of the year. Just beware, because even with me I found the “R & B hook” quite redundant around the album’s closing. Still, it’s good enough for W.T.R.’s stamp of approval. Check out the OneBeLo featured cut “Break Of Down” below.
“Break Of Dawn”-Deep Rooted f. OneBeLo
Out of sheer curiosity, I downloaded ThinkLoud’s “Uncommon Perspectives” from the now defunct (but know re-christened “Konstant Revoloution”) “Highing Fly” a week or so ago, and you might as well go ‘head and add this album to my “list of pleasant surprises” for the past week. This complilation of sorts includes 16 tracks of exclusives, remixes and previews from the Thinkloud label that provide you with a preview to some of their upcoming releases later this year. Whether it’s the third album of houseartist Lars vom Dorf (which this CD was packaged with as a “sampler) , a see behind the sound of Dub-Hop project Kobolski or maybe to even introduce you upcoming neo-soul artist like Miles Bonny (who drops the smooth “Sing Your Song” or Reggie B this album boasts a wide array of talent. Also along for the ride on this sampler are Maryland’s own Kev Brown and Oddisee who deliver an idea of their sound from ThinkLoud’s “Sidewalk” EP via one of the dopest cuts of the year “Sidewalk Jazzin” (peep the DivShare link below). With “Sidewalk Jazzin” Kev & Oddisee not only revisit Hip Hop’s “golden era” lyrically but also with the Native Tongue-ish’ production. Also, take a look at SMAGRADEN, where Jeannine & Laszlo show up with a nice progressive, abstract neo-soul track. Even though some of the artist deliver lyrics in their own “native tongue” on the tracks, you won’t ever get lost in the shuffle as the majority of the album features incredibly dope production to keep you tuned in….even if you can’t interpret some of the lyrics. Definitely worth checking out. if only for “Sidewalk Jazzin” and the “Intro” (see below), which features and ill guitar lick and is one of the illest beats this year…..too bad, it’s less than two minutes long and is just an “intro”. Since this album is a “sampler” per se, I don’t mind hooking you up with a “shared link”
“Sidewalk Jazzin”-Oddisee & Kev Brown