Sonic nuggets: You’re Dead by Flying Lotus


Flying Lotus: Youre Dead

I got into Flying Lotus when his first album 1983 dropped and  from the off set his sound stood out from all the post-dubstep low-end theory inspired stuff I was hearing. It was also around the time I was listening to a lot of early Chicago and Detroit house. I was also messing with a ton of british dub-step stuff. So Flying Lotus is an artist whose sound was something very near and dear too me from the offset. Not since Dilla’s Donuts did I find myself so captivated by music driven purely by production. On this particular record I was fascinated firstly by the concept of a record that confronts the universally frightening idea of death.

When I first heard the record  the intro already defied my expectations. the intro was cinematic, huge and bright with all its loud and overwhelming sound of chords punctuated by the frantic bass riffs of Thundercat .

Another thing that baffled me about this  record is that it is under a  a mere 38 minutes. Yet despite its short running time, the record manages to weave a narrative that explores death as reprinting a myriad of things and ideas. In a sense it celebrates death and dying not as the end but the beginning of a new stage of existence.

Part of Fly-lo’s genius is that he avoids electronic music clichés by creating soundscapes that are half live instrumentation and half computer programed beats. He manages to allow the organic and programed to interact in a way that sounds organic and fluid.

On this record he keeps songs to a minimum focusing on microscopic concepts that serve to create a larger but abruptly short picture. The narrative goes from optimistically bright on the first 5-songs and then by track, five which is accompanied by an equally capable Kendrick lamar, we are given a verbal introduction to the optimism that can exist within such a morbid fatalistic narrative. On Track 6-things take on an west-coast bounce that is part cartoonishly optimistic, but in a way that’s more black comedy than it is pure joy. On the song Ready Err Not we are introduced to a soundscape that’s sparse but morbid. On songs like Descent into madness we are introduced to a soundscape that speaks to the maddening often-frightening possibilities of the end, it sounds like an acid trip gone wrong. The whole album is a journey albeit a very personal one constructed to say a million things at once while staying decidedly entertainingly frightening and optimistic all at once. His instrumentalists all do a good job at weaving in and out of his constantly bubbling and moving soundscapes. The vocalists on the tracks function merely to hint at ideas and not to point to precise ideas. The album is steeped in jazz but also pays homage to metal and dark Adult swim soundscapes. You have occasional moments of organic erratic drumming all  and the occasional keyboard riff drowning in a sea of beautifully overwhelming but bright mixture of what sound like strings and harps.

As far as musical assists he has Jazz legends like Herbie Hancock on trakcs 2 and 14, and even with that knowledge the albums contributors still contribute purely to fly-los vision. His ability to take his contributors work and make it work towards his vision speaks to his genius as a producer. You also have the work of Kamasi Washington an Ayler style saxophonist whose atonal wails and screams add to the haunting but bright nature of songs like “Cold Dead” and “Moment of hesitation”. I also read that he was listening to a lot of slayer and heavy metal , and its apparent in the contribution of guitarist Brendon Small who is featured on tracks 7 and 10.

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When I heard this record I played the whole record twice the moment I heard it in the middle of the night. I distinctly remember walking around the city the next day listening to this album completely transfixed. It’s an album that always reinvents itself when I hear it, but an album that like music by Alice Coltrane or Sun-Ra is capable of meaning many things all at once.

Rating: I recently invented a rating scale and here it is below

Out of 10 meaning perfect I give this album a hard 8.5

Peep Game: Concerning Violence a film with narrative written by Franz Fanon and Narrated by Lauryn Hill


I grew up and was born in a period of post-colonial ferment. In the 80’s it began to be pretty apparent that the socialist/colonialist experiment had or was failing. We watched the Berlin wall fall and watched as So called third world countries began to strain under the pressure of the end of socialist/communist experiments. As a reaction to that a lot of countries begin to borrow and sell over their state and civic assets begin to sell their assets to private companies. So when I saw a trailer to a movie by Goran Hugo Olsoon who previously impressed me with black Power Mixtape, i was floored when I saw the trailer to concerning violence which had Lauryn hill narrating.

Below I watched an interview with the film maker.

Fanon’s writing is vivid and poetic and manages to deliver a message thats prophetic and anguish inducing at the same time.

More trailers to check out

I would advise if you are interested in this subject matter or are a history buff fuck with this.

Peep Game: The magic of Rick Ross B.M.F (Blowing Money Fast) and how it made my summer


Hip Hop is an art form built on cinematic narratives and these narrative have always held an allure.In my case despite being a naive often conceited  backpacker who hated materialism and misogyny in Hip Hop. I could not deny the allure of certain anthemic joints. Think of mega hits like “Mo Money more problems” or more recently smashes like “Niggas in paris. Songs built on often bloated and often vain egos selling us a live fast die young script of the american dream. A narrative thats at the heart of everything from “Scarface” to “American Gangster”. So think of the summer of 2010 as me and two of my road dogs are in a car driving to Burger king all wearing college laid back attire ( Varsity hoodies, sweat pants and sneakers). All of us look like we have  not slept for days either because we were playing FIFA all night or were coming of off  hangovers from nights of summer party excess. Imagine the first time we heard Rick Ross say “I think I am big beech!! Larry Hoover!!! Whipping work!! Hallelujah!!. We lost our wigs, our minds and all meaning of composure, this song heralded the beginning of our summer.

In these seconds the song in effect takes you to a world were the gangster is celebrated as a kind of folk hero. A true pursuer of the american dream. In this song Ross calls you to participate in his idealized world of Robin Hood-esque criminal heroes, whose hard work and sheer brilliance takes them from corner drug pushers to king pins. Now lets not forget the sheer force of ‘Lex Lugers’ muscular deep brooding bass driven beat. This song screams street anthem, and invites you to the church that worships kingpins named “Big Meech” and “Larry Hoover”.

The song itself is impossible  to danced too, its a song that forces your face to grimace. While you fold and energetically raise your arms let your body menacingly rock back and forth. In these gestures you communicate  the kind of restrained power that would make Don Corleone, the strong silent type proud. All the while  you recite the menacing chorus back to Ross like a congregation in a church, captivated by the ministers captivating sermon.

I have often complained about Ross inability to push a truly heart felt full length album. He has not pushed a classic because you can tell his set the bar at Illmatic meets reasonable doubt type heights. When an artist sets their sights on classic status it tends to drown out there individual brilliance. But Ross is the king of anthems and still remains an artist whose sound often makes my summers events worth having.

Things I fucks with: Tracing the people, places and conditions behind Chicago footwork & Juke R.I.P DJ rashad


Ghetto america, particularly Chicago, is not only about dread locked kids busting raps over hard beats. But ghetto america has always had an electronic component. These environments gave us house and moved on to Ghettotech in Detroit and then this became juke and footwork. Watching this documentary you are given a tour of the city and you get to experience the place that created the intriguing characters that created one of the most innovative sounds to come out of the underground in a longtime.

So after a long night of just working, I came upon this and i sat back and watched this. Watching Rashad crafting a beat, moved me a ton.

Peep Game: Hip Hop Nuggets


Mac Miller begun his career as a cliche-ass, backpacker crawling around in the shadow of larger cliches like Asher Roth and other similar nerds like that Hamilton dude. Then i don’t know if it was hanging out with the odd future camp or the pot over int he west coast, but dude grew some balls, Creating music that was and is bold as it is dripping in a renewed drugged out freedom, that I think makes it all the more nerdy and maybe even backpack, but operates in my alley. Its good nerd but nerdy enough to make fun of its self.

The boy Vince, has this ice cold gnarly delivery, his honest almost to a fault. He never gets super excitable at least vocally, but his music evokes ice cold gangster precision.

I cannot say more about Tyler, in my opinion wolf was one of the boldest releases of the last 5-years.

Peep Game: Crate Digging


I am a recent convert to vinyl and even with that being said. I start fucking with records largely because I wanted to experience what i had been hearing the OG’s talk about for years. Once i started i couldn’t stop and I have stayed the course. Hearing my hero Theo Parrish break down his technique is awe inspiring and intimidating at the same time.

Digital Krates: The Drug Dealers narrative as told by Freddie Gibbs & Mike Dean


The drug dealer runs central to the great characters of the Hip Hop narrative of today. Alongside, pimps, drug dealers are these amoral characters that live outside the law and perform a weird robin hood like function in many a rap song narrative. They tend to be part street preacher part rebel with a cause. No were do these narratives come more alive than under the penmanship of Freddie Gibbs. On production is the legend Mike Dean a man behind some of Rap-A-lots most seminal records and recently has helped carve out the sound of kanye west for a while now.

Peep this: Kaytranada a lesson in authenticity


The post-dills world is populated by beatsmiths crafting music that isn’t created with a vocalist in mind. he spawned many many of the new cats. Not saying beatsmiths never existed before dill but you had dj shadow and all the left field trip hop types coming out of england. But Dilla turns the loop into an art form, then starts making synth oriented beats that were gnarly and stood on their own as manifestations of his genius. So in the post dill world we have a shit-ton of imitators and cliche-ass post dill hype beasts. To be honest very few of these guys rock my world but kaytranada kinda has it down.

He has this beautiful synth sound that harkens to 80’s funk and house but layers choppy vocal sample loops that give his music a whole different feel. I came upon this cat because he is quite the ubiquitous remixer and has that game down to a T.