REVIEW: Yeezus – Kanye West

Yeezus - Kanye WestKanye West
Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam; 2013

Score: Recommended (with sweet and sour sauce)

Buried at the end of “Last Call”, the final track on The College Dropout, is a nine minute long interview-style recording of Kanye West recounting the crowning events that lead to his eventual signing to Roc-A-Fella Records. In retrospect this segment is probably the most captivating part of the rapper-producer’s debut album. Here was a measured, sane, Kanye speaking in endearingly giddy tones about meeting his idols — Jay, Dame, Cam, Kweli — for the first time ever. This moment symbolized the Spring of West’s pop career, a season in which his only crises were ones of the physical world: stacking enough paper to cop a Pelle Pelle and some J’s; moving sight unseen from Chicago to an apartment in Newark, New Jersey; finding enough time in his rapidly increasing work schedule to finish mundane tasks like assembling Ikea furniture. “Last Call” was Kanye at his most relatable. His most normal. His most likeable.

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NEW MUSIC: Detroit Revolution(s) – Clear Soul Forces

Click album cover to download.

I often reserve Fridays for posting music not related to my hometown of Seattle, WA. So here’s what’s got me bubbling today:

Detroit upstarts Clear Soul Forces released their official official debut album a couple of weeks ago. Detroit Revolution(s) is the quartet’s refined, polished full-length collection that best highlights the miraculous lyrical achievements of Wimpy, J-Roc, E-Fav, and Ilajade. I first caught wind of this crew here and then said more about ’em here.

CSF is light years ahead of other similarly-aged crews, at least from a technical skills standpoint. Their flows dip, dive, swerve, and veer with ease like a Ducati on the 520 bridge. Lyrical substance-wise, Detroit Revolution(s) elicits a mere “Meh.” Most of the tracks are reserved for rapping about rapping and getting their weight up in “the game.” But what a display of lyricism! If you’re looking for something fresh and shiny to rock to this weekend, I wouldn’t look any further than this.

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DOWNLOAD: Indigo Children: Tales From The Other Side – Kung Foo Grip

Click album cover to D/L.

New shit from Kung Foo Grip. The six-track EP, Indigo Children Tales From The Other Side, was produced entirely by Giorgio Momurda. It’s available now at KFG’s Bandcamp page for whatever you’ve got in your pocket.

UPDATE (3:51 pm): Here’s what I wrote (or will write) in my weekly column over at SSG Music tomorrow:

Kung Foo Grip is comprised of MCs Greg Cypher and F is H (or, FisH — see what he did there?). Hailing from the pristine land of suburbia known as Kirkland (that’s on the east side of Lake Washington, across the pond from Seattle for those that don’t know), this duo is on the come-up quick in the Pacific Northwest rap scene. On their latest release, Indigo Children Tales From The Otha Side (get it here), they invite producer Giorgio Momurda into their circle who quickly uses the EP’s six tracks to push the crew’s sound into the swirl of ambiguity that is hip-hop’s current fashion.

The video for “FVCKV9TA5″ above is a good example. Over Momurda’s controlled chaos of muted harmony, screwed vocals and video game explosions, KFG show off the lyrical dexterity first honed in many a Seattle cypher while bringing a dose of much needed energy and (ahem) color to their town’s otherwise dozy, monochromatic cul-de-sacs. “Esrever Ni” (or, “In Reverse”) meanwhile slides in somewhere between cloud-rap and dubstep. With a glut of rap currently coming out of the Puget Sound, Kung Foo Grip is on the shortlist of groups worth paying close attention to.

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DOWNLOAD: Beg Borrow Steal – RA Scion

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RA Scion and his new hair dropped a fresh three-track EP and accompanying short film/music video. Beg Borrow Steal is available for download and viewing, here. I wrote about it in my weekly column, “The Home Row Keyed,” over at SSG Music. Click on over to read more.

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REVIEW: Take Care – Drake

The neighborhood of Forest Hill is a quiet, idyllic enclave in the central section of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. The district’s broad streets and leafy sidewalks are bordered by expansive single-family homes and an impressive collection of stately mansions that trend more toward Sotheby’s auctions than the pedestrian listings of Century 21. It was on these well-maintained municipal arteries that a young Aubrey Drake Graham presumably rehearsed a very early form of his now widely recognized helium-pitched MC flow, a style that has earned him various musical accolades and an equal number of less shiny endorsements from skeptics earnestly questioning the validity of dude’s lofty position in the rap game…

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REVIEW: Relax – Das Racist

The primary goal of those truly astute comedians who center their acts around observations on on race and racism is to extract some degree of deeper understanding from their audiences. For them, there is no greater offense than crowd ambivalence. The disappointment in audiences’ failings is the reason Dave Chappelle divorced a fifty million dollar contract and fled to Africa to save his sanity. It’s the reason Chris Rock’s early stand-up routines were philosophically based in a contemptuous rage for the world and many of the people sitting before him. And it’s the same reason Das Racist (composed of three well-educated men of color) allow themselves to fall into lackadaisical stage performances at shows where, it’s important to add, the audience is typically composed of white, college-aged males who are all too eager to repeatedly chant the chorus to “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” but not consider why the song is so devastatingly funny. If Das Racist concerts were frequented in the majority by folks of color, it’s certain you would see an entirely different display of the trio’s very substantial rap skills rather than the lampooning they derive from the attendant status quo.

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REVIEW: NoYork! – Blu

As far as underground rappers go, Blu represents near perfection. Ever since Below The Heavens, his 2007 collaboration with producer Exile, West Coast kids rocking Jansports and Vans have used the MC’s albums like warm blankets, Golden Era-type soundscapes perfect for draping over themselves during chilly winter nights on the Pacific Ocean. Blu has been at the center of the next wave of the underground Cali rap tradition, the same one that celebrated crews like The Pharcyde and Hieroglyphics have carried since the early 1990s…

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