There is no hiding the fact that I’m a rather big Cunninlynguists junkie. Along with Eric, I’ve championed every project they have dropped as some of the greatest music to come out this decade (lead by “A Piece of Strange”), so when my copy of “Strange Journey Vol. 2″ showed up in my mailbox last week, I was more than anxious to check it out. I’ll go ahead and disagree and say that Volume Two is just as good, if not better, than Volume One. The first song, “Imperial,” had been leaked already by my first listen, but I chose to skip over it in favor to listen to the entire project with a fresh ear. It’s a hellva introduction, as Kno hooks up an organ(?) influenced beat that reminds me of an Westside Connection’s “Gangsta Nation”. It’s groovin’ music for sure and nothing short of what I’d expect out of Cunninlynguists. You can’t help at letting your head nod infectiously to the beat. I was kinda of hesitant seeing Freddie Gibbs listed as a guest on the track before hearing it, since I wasn’t all that familiar with the cat. It’s safe to say Freddie (or is it Mr. Gibbs?) adds his own twist the track and do I dare say even improves it. Hot track and one that might challenge the multitude of tracks from Vol 1 to make the Top 100 (or 200) Tracks of the year list.
Preach Jacobs & Denz - Falling
This dude Preach seems to find himself in and out of my musical knowledge ever so often, and I am glad he’s found his way back into my subconscious this time around. One of the few message boards I frequent is The Lawn, the Justus League forums. It was on there that I downloaded a couple tracks from this poster named “Preach”. The songs were great and among my favorites of that year. They also happened to be produced by Nicolay, who at that time was riding high from the Foreign Exchange debut fame. I actually contacted Preach about doing an interview on WYDU in it’s infancy, by nothing ever became of it. From there, I lost contact with him. A year or so later, he drops his album “Graveyisms”, which while dry in some places, was still a good album. Then he disappears again. Until earlier this week, when Kevin Nottingham dropped a video for “Falling” in my inbox.
I’ll admit, I don’t get around to too many blogs these days anymore, so I haven’t seen Preach and Denz (an UK producer) popping up on blogs since earlier this summer, but when I listened to the video, I was taken back. Preach is back with a producer in Denz, and they drop “The Maple Street Sessions” EP. While I haven’t anything else off of it as of yet, the single “Falling”, has been getting a lot of play in the past two days. The beat uses a shrill vocal sample with a high pitch that does wonders over the soft keys laid down. It all allows Preach to provide some thought provoking, which is what he is good at. I’m still getting my bearings on the lyrics (I’m a beat first type of person), but he lives up to his name, but in an entertaining way, much like a poet. This will continue to get play on the iPod/computer/car.
Unlike Eric, I’ve been a fairly large fan of People Under The Stairs since first hearing them early in 2002. They kinda lost me with the “Stepfather” album and I can’t honestly say if I’ve heard the “Fun DMC” album, if I did, I don’t remember much from it. So when Eric posted the exact same song, “Step Off”, I figured I’d give it a listen. This first track hit me like that first drink of water when you are parched. PUTS brings back that old school sound, but have freshened it up a bit from what I remember. Sure, it’s got those old school sounding drums (my favorite) and lots of scratching, but the rest of the production is updated a bit, with as E so eloquently put it, “..overabundance of rock samples, distorted vocals, drum machines..”, and that’s the truth. The vocal sample sounds like it could have come from an old Moody Blues album or some shit. Vocally, Thes and KK sound like they are good and pissed off, it’s this new attitude that made me nod my head and down the hand wavy thing (you all know what I’m talking about) even harder while hitting repeat on my iPod the first time I listened to it earlier this week.
Finale – Pay Attention
Hmmm, “Pay Attention” is a rather ironic song title since I’m posting it up after Finale’s album has been out since earlier in the spring. I was kind of sleeping on this song, but Finale’s “A Pipe Dream and a Promise” is one of those albums that I haven’t really ever put away this year. It keeps finding it’s way back into my iPod shuffle and car CD rotation (yeah, I rock the CDs still in the ‘ole automobile). I’m mainly talking about the actual track “Pay Attention” and not the interlude “Beat The Drums”, which is part of the CD song. I like the drums and all, but if I post this in a year end list, I’ll trim it off. I need to get more familiar with this Slimkat78 dude, who has also done some work with Diamond District and a large chunk of yU’s “Before Taxes”. It’s really the beat on “Pay Attention” that made me, ahem, pay attention. The nice bluesy guitar lick really suckers me in then the thick rolling bass line smacked me right in the face. I haven’t heard a beat this nice a long while. Then once you start getting into Finale’s lyrics, you realize that the cat is nice on the mic. I’m not sure why it took me so long to really gravitate to this song, but there is nothing wrong with this track, nothing at all, so pay attention.
Black River Sound - Grow
I might get some heat for this track, as it’s much alternative rock/R&B song as it is a hip hop song, and maybe that’s why it appeals to me so much. I know next to nothing about Black River Sound, except they are an eight person group, including five siblings (and some rather hot ladies) and they have the live band thing backing them. I have nothing against live bands, but sometimes when they try to mesh the hip hop factor into the music, it tends to fall flat on it’s face. “Grow” doesn’t have that problem. The track starts off with female vocals, that give that it a sound of a female rock group from the nineties such as Luscious Jackson or the Breeders. Not that it’s overly rockish, in fact it’s half sung/half rapped, it’s part of the appeal of the song. Then someone comes in and spits some lyrics, it doesn’t have a guest MC listed, so I’m assuming it’s one of the members of the band. The MC is more than adequate as I’ve heard a lot worse in my years, in fact, the more listen to the song, the more I like the MC coming in and breaking up the singing on the track. Found on the Problemaddicts “Guest List” (a good album in it’s own right) project that dropped earlier this year, “Grow” is going to make me dig for more material from Black River Sound.
The + 1 Track…..
Damu The Fudgemunk & Buff1 – When Winter Comes
But you can read about that here…..