10. “Sun God” – Doc Singe f. Branesparker of Freestyle Professors
Found On: “Kiss Of The Beast” (Ascetic Music)
Damn, damn, damn, one of the most instantly gratifying and appeasing tracks to us old headz who can’t seem to let go of the “Golden Era” was Doc Singe’s “Sun God”. With the lyrical reach out from Branesparker of Freestyle Professors, “Sun God” could have found itself higher on this list had I heard it a bit soon than the start of December. Boom Bap is alive and strong!
Confidence. The name can refer to several ideas and concepts. Apply it to the world of beat-making and you have a term that exudes high standards and carefully composed compositions. What a fitting name for a hip hop producer who has just that! When Confidence was around 16 back in 1993, his brother decided to cop some Technic 1200’s the first summer he started working. If you couple that with hundreds of hip hop records, the beginning stages of Confidence’s career was about to take off. After dabbling with scratching for a while, sampling came into the picture. Bob James was a big influence and after copping one of his albums, “Heads,” the sample game was next in line. From there, it was all about a 4 second Gemini sampler and some records/drum breaks to get an understanding of how hip hop music was produced. This would provide Confidence with the framework on where he is today.
At the end of 2010, Confidence released a 16 track remix album of 90’s classics. This album was received with open arms and garnered a lot of attention from people far and wide. With over 6,000 downloads and features on KevinNottingham.com and 2dopeboyz.com, Confidence’s work is finally getting the praise it deserves. One of the biggest breaks for Confidence came in 2011 when he linked up with the CEO of Ill Adrenaline Records who has a recording artist by the name of Beneficence. He put out one of the top underground records for 2011.
2011 was the year of Rashad & Confidence. Rashad linked up with Confidence online after listening to one of his remix tracks off of Recon. From there the two discussed doing more than just recording a track. A classic was in the works and after numerous months of putting in work and crafting masterpieces, “The Element of Surprise” was made. This epic record hit worldwide November 29th, 2011…Distributed through Fatbeats and put out by Ill Adrenaline Records. As of January 2012, The Element of Surprise is the #1 seller for December on Undergroundhiphop.com receiving a Five Star review from listeners worldwide. Recently I caught up with Confidence to touch upon his recent acclaim, influences and future projects, ‘Con is a good dude man….
Eric: So why a producer? Why not an emcee? Also, who were some of your
earliest inspirations that led you into production?
Confidence: I’ve always considered myself musically inclined. My parents forced me to play piano when I was four. At the time, I didn’t know that would lay the foundation for where I am today. Emceeing was cool, but I was always drawn to the music first, then the lyrics. I still am to this day.
Coming up in the 90’s there was a lot of inspiration to draw upon. I’d say some of the earliest influences were the music of EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Gangstarr, Beatnuts, Diamond D, Lord Finesse among plenty of others. The beats and the rhymes all influenced my love of the music which carried me into the production side of things.
So it’s the start of another year at Bloggerhouse and what a wonderful way to start it off, than with a debut release from a artists who has been making features and writing songs for longer than Bloggerhouse has been around. The wonderful Mina Leon has an upbeat energizing attitude complimented by a soulful voice with a passion for music. Although Mina Leon is very serious about her music, as you can see from the pictures below she also likes to have some fun. With her debut solo release “Running Red Lights” dropping today I was fortunate enough to get some time to chat with her so that she could tell us a little more about herself, her music, and her future.
Bloggerhouse: Whats up Mina, why don’t you give the readers who may not know who you are a little bit about yourself.
Mina Leon: Sheesh…this is always the hardest to answer! There’s so much about me that I want people to know! But I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest Condensed version: I’m a singer/songwriter from DC but currently, I’m based in Okinawa, Japan where I spend most of my time working as a songwriter for other artists and do a lot of feature work on everything from Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Rock, and I’ve most recently been working with artists in the EDM realm. For the other 99.9% of my life, I’m a VERY proud mom of the awesomest little girl in the universe…but that’s all she’ll let me say since in her mind, she’s far from little anymore. She gets embarassed easily, so I’ll stop there. *giggle*
BH: I know songwriters don’t like to kiss and tell, but from a feature standpoint who are some of the artists you have had the pleasure of working with?
Mina Leon: Oh man! The list is very long. But I’ll stick to my favorite features I’ve done: Ollie Ox Grill’s “Glass Coffin”, Hus Kingpin’s “Dreams”, K-Beta’s “Come Closer”, Tese Fever’s “Extraordinary”, The Real Jay Mills’s “It’s Only Love”, and Maria J’s “Cell Block Tango”… I told you the list was long! There’s so many more but those are the ones that stick out the most.
BH: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you want to work with ?
Mina Leon: Oh yes! I would love to work with Eyerone, Pro’verb, Mary-eL, Common, Adele, Res, again…this list could go on and on but I’ll stop there.
BH: So how long have you been making music?
Mina Leon: I’ve actually been making music for over 14 years now and I’m blessed to have been able to for this long…I hope it keeps on keepin’ on!
BH: Oh wow so you have been doing the music thing for a while now, why did you wait so long to put out your solo album?
Mina Leon: To be honest, songwriting and arranging are more so my passion than actually singing my material. Something about hearing a song I’ve created being interpreted artistically by someone else, I guess. The process is actually really dope to experience. Since that’s my main focus, that takes up a lot of my time. But so many people I’ve worked with encouraged me to write and release an album of my own, and I simply followed their advice…Hence Running Red Lights was born.
BH: Well that’s respectable, tell us a little bit about Running Red Lights, was this a conceptual album, what was the inspiration for it.
Mina Leon:Running Red Lights isn’t a conceptual album at all. I just wrote songs about my life and specific events that touched me a certain way. So really, each song is a concept all on it’s own. There’s nothing really cohesive about the records when you put them together because IMO, life doesn’t really work that way. We each have a plethora of experiences that don’t necessarily make sense when you jumble them all together, but individually, you understand why those things had to happen at that exact moment, in that exact order, for you to continue on your path. That’s why I chose the name Running Red Lights: because my life, my music, my passion continues to drive me when everything else just seems to be at a standstill (the intro to the album explains this in more detail). So as cliche as it sounds, the inspiration for this project really was in essence my life, in real life. I just really hope everyone enjoys hearing it!
BH: Thats pretty amazing, so it seems that Running Red Lights is not only your debut album but its also an album that lays it all out for your listeners about who you are. Was it hard to make the switch from letting someone else musically interpret your writings to having to make the interpretation yourself?
Mina Leon: Well I’ve always had to musically interpret my writings as far as reference tracks go…then the artists take that and run with it…so there was no real transition, in that respect. Since they were personal, I just kept them for myself to share with the masses.
BH: How would you rate your first solo album experience?
Mina Leon: An emotional rollercoaster. So many things run through my head that it’s hard to pinpoint just one feeling. I’m happy it’s done, I’m pleased with my work, but I am also nervous about how it’ll be received… it’s crazy how many feelings there are.
BH: Are there any plans or talks for a follow up album ?
Mina Leon: Of course, I plan to have a follow up album…but not quite yet. Currently, I am working on a collaborative project with Tese Fever called “Soul Danger” which I am VERY excited about. She is an amazing lyricist and I am honored to be working with her on a full-length project. Scratch that, ECSTATIC.
BH: Well Ms. Mina, i do appreciate you taking the time to chit chat with me, do you have any last parting words for our readers?
Mina Leon: Well thank you, for supporting indie music and taking the time to talk to me! I had fun! And to the readers: Spread love, folks. It’s contagious.
“Set It Off” f. Pace Won
Well, it looks like Doc Singe’s outstanding LP, “Kiss Of The Beast” will serve as our first official review of 2012, even though the album was actually released right around Thanksgiving. Of course, score me a late pass with this goodie box, yet again! Regardless, when I first heard the LP, thanks to an official “put on” from fellow Golden Era lovin’ brethren, JAZ (of Cold Rock Da Spot), I was instantly awestruck. However, it’s safe to say that my adoration of ”Kiss Of The Beast” has toned down a bit after about the 12th listen, there are a few notable weaknesses, but it’s say to say that the debut LP from French producer Doc Singe is a true testament to Singe’s knowledge and “way around” the SP1200.
The instrumental project is something else that really gets me going. Sometimes when I’m at home, or just laying in bed, I just want music, not some weak 16 bar emcee spittin’ some nonsense. That’s when a well done instrumental project comes in handy.
But the instrumental project was one that suffered as my curiosity took me into other musical genres (still on my Brazilian Tropicalia and psych rock kick). That coupled with the fact that I wasn’t involved with The Scrunchface Show this year, which introduced me to a lot of instrumental projects (almost too many) and that my correspondence with Eric and former BH contributor, Dart Adams, was a lot less this year as well. I’m sure Dart will have plenty to enlighten me on when he sees this list.
This year, my list is kind of split into two different types of instrumental projects. We have some that work just as well, and in some cases even better, on their own standing, as purely instrumental project. Then we some very well could be classified as “beat tapes” but damn dope ones at that. An instrumental project has to have something to catch my attention, otherwise it just ends up being background music. Nothing wrong with that, but I can also use the cars driving by outside my place if I just wanted background music. I do have a few projects I meant to get around to that I have sitting on my computer (I’m listening to the Jansport J project right now as I type this, which is pretty damn good), but for the most part this year, I stuck to artists I already had an idea what I was going to get.
The young Providence, Rhode Island producer, Falside has grown in leap and bounds over the past several years and Snare Conditioning is a shining example of that. The instrumental opus is a nice blend of hard edged beats that show an attitude, some jazzy on the down low type of playings, mixed with some more experimental joints thrown in to keep it interesting. It’ll be interesting to see where the young beatsmith goes to next.
19. “All I Think About” – Apathy f. Action Bronson
Found On: “Honkey Kong” (Dirty Version Records)
Cleverly utilizing the vocal hook from Jodeci’s mid-nineties smash “Freak ‘N U”, producer Vanderslice along with the lyrical gymnastics of Apathy and Action Bronson (damn, do these two have great chemistry, or what!?) created one of the year’s more playful, tongue in cheek anthems.
Better late than never, here is the first single off Ms. Mina Leons debut solo album “Running Red Lights”. This is a classic feel good track that’s good for all seasons. I also had the pleasure of being able to chance to sit down and talk to Mina, so look for that interview on Monday. In the meantime check out the track New Day below and let her know what you think over on twitter @M1NA_L30N.