Roll that rap over soul loops like that? It’s just how they do in Baltimore. As was recently noted in these very pages – B-more rapper 810 has been on the verge of dropping LP Supply & Demand for a while. Well, the wait is over, and you can check 810’s fresh flow and the slick beats of producer buddy Mydus in the following link:
FREE DOWNLOAD – 810: Supply & Demand LP
810 – Myspace
For all those jonesing the long-awaited Cool Kids LP When Fish Ride Bicycles (the status of which is still ‘soon come’) – try this mellow slide-guitar backed roller from Chi-Town’s Skooda Chose where he invites Cool Kid Mikey Rocks and old hand Twista to help him kick back with some rhymes…
FREE DOWNLOAD: SKOODA CHOSE feat MIKEY ROCKS (The Cool Kids) & TWISTA: Loungin’
Skooda Chose – Myspace
The Cool Kids Myspace
Man, if my band was called Shaolin Temple Defenders and I had a single out entitled Let Yourself Go that’s exactly what I’d do. I’d have superfast percussion, put the wah-wah pedal in overdrive and knock out a lo-fi video featuring loads of rapid-fire editing of battling monks and fast shaky zoom shots of a manically cackling kung-fu master, who would arrogantly flick his long wispy beard and then screech something like, “Your monkey style is no match for my southern crane technique!” But then French band STD (on reflection, not an abbreviation they want to encourage) are not my band and display a restraint I could never muster. Thus, Let Yourself Go is a functional enough piece of Breakestra-alike funk (albeit with slightly irritating scat-vocals) while B-side Southern Bug-A-Loo is a speedy little hammond and piccolo shuffle.
Out now on Soulbeat France
Listen to – Shaolin Temple Defenders: Let Yourself Go
Shaolin Temple Defenders – Myspace
Louie Barletta’s new signature shoe – clean lines, no fuss and an old-school look. The blue and the black come in suede, the white runs with the full grain leather. Plus Duffs have wisely gone for the cup sole and avoided the vulcanised alternative so beloved of skate shoe companies of late. Honestly. A vulcanised sole. You might as well get a bit of rubber tape and glue that round the edge of your shoe to hold everything together. Oh wait – hang on – that is a vulcanised sole. When’s it out? No tengo ninguna idea. Soon come…
(Read monkeyboxing.com review of Cut Ups, Bruck Ups & Muck Ups Vol. 2 HERE
Ah the mashup – refuge of the lazy DJ/ Producer or inspirational genius? It all depends on whose doing it and what the outcome is like. In the case of J Star and Nice Up DJs Shepdog and (on one track) Moodie, it’s the latter. Those who keep their eyes glued to the relevant new release pages of their favourite online record stores may well recognise the greater portion of the cuts on offer here from successive 7 and 12” releases over the last few years and if they possess a pulse will probably have snapped up a lot of them. They’ll also be familiar with the recipe. Take one classic vocal stem (usually off a hip-hop track but possibly off a dancehall or decent pop track) and graft onto the instrumental of another (usually a rocksteady or reggae track but sometimes a hip-hop track) always obeying the rule that the one does not come from the same genre as the other.
Thus we have Skankin’ In The Way of Control with Gossip singer Beth Ditto getting a rocksteady workover, as does Nas’ The Virgo and shortarse rapper Skee Lo’s I Wish. Craig Mack’s posse-cut Flava In Your Ear also gets a piggyback from Root’s Manuva’s Witness 1 Hope and Damien Marley gets to sing Welcome To Jamrock over Dead Prez’ Bigger Than Hip Hop. The collection also includes No Diggedy – basically Black Street’s No Diggity astride a reggae rhythm – J Star’s four year old grenade that really blew up the reggae/ hip-hop mash-up sound in a big way. There are a couple of exclusive new tracks (including Limb By Limb – Cutty Ranks on vocals and DJ Premier on beats anyone?) presumably to entice those who actually bought the vinyl singles though, naturally, there isn’t room on here to include the entirety of the J Star/ Nice Up back catalogues. Still, the Vol. 1 tag on the end of the title is promising and I sense a volume 2 in the offing. Oh yeah – and you get 14 sound effects including sirens, reggae toaster vocal drops and that 70s arcade game thing that (appropriately enough) sounds like a bomb dropping. Hear me now!
Listen to – NICE UP & J STAR: Cut Ups, Bruck Ups and Muck Ups Vol. 1
Nice Up – Myspace
J Star – Myspace
Here is a timely reminder (as if it were needed) that Adidas drop some of the dopest footwear in existence. It is also a reminder that the fact that you produce dope footwear is not a guarantee that you will produce dope clothing. I first saw pics of the kicks below last summer, so you just know that Adidas have already got a summer and autumn 2009 range in the starting blocks and probably a winter 2010 one too. There are a couple more colourways on the new look Adidas Skateboarding site in blues and whites which suggest they might have twigged that subtlety sells better than some of the more ‘experimental’ (read uglier than the back end of the back end of a particularly garish bus) colourways of recent years. As for the Gonz stuff, he clearly feels that 1989 was a real high point in skate fashion. As someone who remembers what say – Christian Hosoi and Mark Antony Gator were wearing at the time I can clarify that the only way in which the words ‘1989’ and ‘high point in skate fashion’ would come together in the same sentence is in the sentence ‘1989 was not a high point in skate fashion.’
Guitar and horns on the off-beat? Vocals with real soul? Yup it’s the authentic sound of Jamaican ska – and we all know where that comes from don’t we? That’s right. Barcelona. Well – it does now anyway. Crazy Catalonians The Kinky-Coo-Coos have been dropping tunes for over five years with enough authentic skank in them to make you think a long-lost piece of Studio One history has been found mouldering under a pile of junk somewhere, dusted off and given a proper release. This four-tracker mixes up ska and rocksteady with both vocal tracks and an instrumental. Should you be in any doubt of the the band’s credentials you only need to check the ska-bomb of Something’s Got A Hold On Me or the slower more rocksteady influences of On Monday, where not-so-secret weapons – vocalists Gemma and Leire – quite clearly run tings.
Listen to The Kinky-Coo-Coos – The Mean Machine EP
The Kinky-Coo-Coos – Myspace
Less a question than a statement, Ya Need A Funky Band is some supercharged latin-funk based breaks from Leipzig label Frequento Sunsetsoul. In reality more a single with three remixes than a true EP – Basement Freaks’ original version steals the crown. In a nutshell, salsa percussion gets all jiggy with a rhythm guitar and bass in a threesome that continually threatens to build to a climax but manages to hold itself back from the brink with Sting-like self-control. While this is going on, Greek funk-daddy Quasamodo mumbles stuff vacillating between exhortations to dance and explaining how you’re going to feel if you do – which apparently amounts to feeling like “You’ve just been fucked by a funky band.” Well…quite. Dancefloor gold.
Released February on Frequento Sunsetsoul
Listen to – BASEMENT FREAKS: Ya Need A Funky Band EP
Basement Freaks – Myspace
Frequento Sunsetsoul – Myspace
It must be admitted – Keep It Hid – the debut solo venture by Black Keys’ guitarist and singer Dan Auerbach – isn’t a million miles away from the sound of The Black Keys. Mind you, if you grant that there are four key (groan) elements to the ‘Keys sound – Auerbach’s tortured blues howl and blistering guitar playing being two and the others being Patrick Carney’s syncopated beats and lo-fi production – and then we accept that the first two weren’t likely to be absent on an Auerbach solo effort and acknowledge that Keep It Hid features lo-fi production and some not-un-Carney-like beats – the similarity shouldn’t come as a revelation. Apparently you can take the man out of The Black Keys but not The Black Keys out of the man. Not that I’m complaining you understand – for here is yet another album packed full of richly evocative swampy, garagey, bluesy rock.
Arguably mellower than the average ‘Keys release, the LP kicks off with country-ish (I said ‘ish’!) lament Trouble Weighs A Ton before heading towards more familiar ‘Keys territory with the roadhouse stomp of I Want Some More. Much was made of the influence that Dangermouse might have over the ‘Keys sound when knowledge of his production on last year’s Attack & Release was announced and yet, if anything, it is this LP which sounds like someone has taken the envelope of The Black Keys sound and pushed it a bit. There’s the heavy breaks that underpin the bayou-groove and desolate pleading of The Prowl (“I see you walking out the door/ Trading looks with other men/ But I’m the only one you need/ And I know just where you’ve been”) and the super reverbed tremelo guitar effect on Heartbroken. Then again, on the minus side, there’s the rather pointless ambient noise of Because I Should.
It also needs to be said that the middle of the album does have something of the oppressive quality of lying awake at four a.m. trying to make sense of it all and failing – however positive the ”Don’t be afraid…” refrain of songs like When The Night Comes. That said, the mesmeric quality of Auerbach’s axemanship and his voice goes a long way to mitigating any excess of lyrical thematic misery. Penultimate track Street Walkin’ is a slice of riffage which, with it’s heavy use of wah-wah, traces the sound of melodic rock with a groove back through The Screaming Trees all the way to Led Zeppelin and it’s also on a Zeppelin tip that the LP ends with Goin’ Home a folky-sounding thing that tails off to wind chimes.
Keep It Hid possesses a lot of the doleful moodiness that makes much of ‘Keys LP Magic Potion such a trial to listen to but compensates by having better tunes and a more varied sonic palette. It is true that Auerbach’s still letting the ladies get him down a bit too much but hey – at least they’re inspiring him to write classic music and with a sonic-vision like his – you’ll be mostly very happy to hear him moan.
Released 10 February on Nonesuch.
Listen to – Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
Dan Auerbach – Myspace
The remixer of this track by ‘supergroup’ Mongrel (consisting of members of Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles, Reverend & The Makers and rapper Lowkey) might be called Styalz Fuego but there’s no fire in his style in this hideous house version. According to the press release, Will White of The Propellerheads called it a ‘belter’. But then you can’t trust the judgement of someone who, when they were mildly famous back in the late 90s, seemed to use the same breakbeat on every bastard track – indeed – this would suggest he has all the judgement of an Icelandic banker. You don’t have to take my word for it though – you can download a 320 kbps DJ quality mp3 of it here:
Hit From The Morning Sun (Fuego ’96 Bulls Remix)
The Mongrels debut LP Better Than Heavy is out soon…
Mongrel – Myspace
Styalz Fuego – Myspace