LISTEN: awE naturalE – THEESatisfaction

Photo by: David Belisle

The title of THEESatisfaction’s debut album on Sub Pop Records (due March 27) is stylized to read: awE naturalE. Group members Cat and Stas have universal style in spades, though, so fanciful alphabetic manipulation is unnecessary whenever concerned with this duo.

The record in question is streaming in its entirety over at NPR Music and I suggest you click on over now. The LP is short enough to listen to during your lunch break, but its musical, lyrical and spiritual depths plumb more toward eternity. It’s as obsessively advanced and enlightened as Shabazz Palaces’ Black Up and, just like that triumph in artistic spirit, it was grown in your own backyard, Seattle. Take joy in this one.

Audio Listen

DOWNLOAD: Sticky Rice and Mangos – Illaphant

Click album cover to D/L at Bandcamp.

Having never been an MC myself — unless rapping along enthusiastically to Wu-Tang’s “Triumph” alone in the car counts — it can be difficult for me to determine the real from the fake. I’m talking here about all the wannabe rappers responsible for the endless stream of one-offs and (seemingly) impressive 15-plus track albums that show up in the 206UP.COM Inbox for “my listening pleasure.” That’s partially why The TrackMeet feature was started: to put some of the onus on YOU, dear Reader, to figure it out for me.

Illaphant was one such rapper. The Laotian-American MC submitted a joint for one edition of The TrackMeet, along with a six-track preview of the full-length mixtape featured in this post, Sticky Rice and Mangos. After finally getting a chance to hear the finished product, it’s a safe bet to say dude can legitimately spit. His everyday tales of being broke, living in the SEA and excursions with the opposite sex are pretty standard fare as far as subject matter goes, but the most important thing here is that I stayed entertained. SR&M‘s soulful boom-bap and Illaphant’s engaging spirit on the mic are a promising combination. The impassioned closing track, “The Zs Come Later” (which, by definition, is more spoken word than hip-hop) reveals an artist with much bigger things on his mind than what dominates Sticky Rice and Mangos. Here’s hoping more of that gets explored on the MC’s next project.

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NEW MUSIC: “Super Cool” – Sonny Bonoho (feat. Playboy Tre & Rudi Deville)

Hurricane Irene came and went with nary a disruption in this blogger’s life. Well, if you don’t count being unable to leave the house for about 24 hours a disruption. In any case, New Yorkers persevered as usual.

Now back to regularly scheduled programming: new music from Sonny Bonoho featuring Playboy Tre and Rudi Deville. “Super Cool” (produced by Trox) is the most recent drop from Sonny’s next album, the Jermaine EP.

Audio Listen

DOWNLOAD: The Basics 2 – Kublakai

Click album cover to D/L at Bandcamp.

Kublakai raps hard, parties harder and beats himself up over mistakes he’s made in romantic relationships the hardest. That’s the kind of MC he was on 2009’s Lights for the Dark Nights and the M.O. holds on The Basics 2, his most recent full-length. Full of tribute to the underground rap lifestyle and just life in general, TB2 is satisfying boom-bap from a rapper with well-honed skills and a comfortable self-effacing honesty.

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LISTEN: Robots and Daytons – The BreakLites

Click album cover to purchase at Bandcamp.

Hip-hop and disco have had a long-lasting and fruitful marriage. From the essential breakbeat in “Rapper’s Delight” to Puff Daddy co-opting Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” for Biggie’s “Mo Money Mo Problems,” both genres are fundamentally rooted in soul music, so the fusion of the two has always felt natural.

The BreakLites get it. On Robots and Daytons, the Tacoma trio of John McRae (producer and instrumentalist), Cruel (MC) and The Mayor (DJ) have created a nine-track blast of uptempo, highly danceable, disco/funk rap. It’s enjoyable because of the crew’s unapologetic mission of making pure party music, ensuring their Friday and Saturday nights have a soundtrack strictly designed for popping off. It’s legitimate hip-hop because Cruel’s mic skills are for real (at least on wax) and his freewheeling rhymes about beat writers, being broke and his affinity for gangsta rap, are charming and devoid of self-conscious pretension. Robots and Daytons was a late discovery for 206UP.COM this summer, which is a shame because that’s exactly the season it was made for.

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NEW MUSIC: “The G.O.A.T.” – One Be Lo (prod. by Vitamin D)

“The G.O.A.T.” is the first drop from One Be Lo’s massively anticipated next album, L.A.B.O.R. (Language Arts Based On Reality). While I’ve always severely disliked the G.O.A.T. acronym (Because who can tell, really? It’s so subjective.), I do think One Be Lo is a Great MC and it’s cool having him as an honorary member of the SEA hip-hop scene. Greatest of all is the beat by Vitamin D. It knocks in the way vintage DJ Premier beats used to knock. As far as I’m concerned, this is how all hip-hop should sound.

(Out of) Town Movement Audio Listen

DOWNLOAD: The Revelation EP – J. Bre

Click album cover to D/L.

The Revelation EP is J. Bre’s follow-up to 2010’s Street Signs. J’s straight-forward no-nonsense approach to rhyming was the best part of Signs, but also the MC’s greatest handicap when it came to finding relevance inside a genre populated by novelty lyricists and throwaway punchline flows. On Revelation the rapper finds comfortable middle ground, diversifying his cadence but not losing the authentic steez that separates him from the fakes. Notable guest appearances here include Carl Roe, Grynch, Luck-One, and Justis. Available for the price of three clicks above and below.

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DOWNLOAD: “So Flagrant” – Hi Life Soundsystem

Click track artwork to D/L.

Hi Life Soundsystem’s tribute to SoCal rap circa 1995. Sticky bass that bounces combined with Hi Life’s New Wave dance aesthetic makes for a track something different than what we’re accustomed to. The good folks at Members Only assure 206UP.COM that Langston Hugh Hefner…Love, Weed & Other Vices, the next project from B-Flat, Khingz and Crispy, will be worth waiting for.

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