Peep This: How Outkast blended Sun Ra, Afrika Bambataa, gospel music and miami bass


Bombs over Baghdad to me is about anticipation, its about all the built up tension that accumulates the moment someone is about to pull the trigger or cum in some cases. This song hit me like a ton of bricks the first time my teenage ears heard it. I thought I had met the Gods of rap, especially considering that the only sound that was hip at the time was the synth driven sound of swiss beatz and his ruff riders crew. This came as one of the most unorthodox sounding spaced out records on charts populated by Britney spears, the Backstreet boys, Eminem and other assortments of early aughts bullshit music. Bombs of Baghdad wasn’t just refreshing it was frighteningly beautiful, futuristic and almost predicted the future in a Nostradamus kind of way. The song is steeped in many important symbols of the southern way. Its steeped in the church as much as it is steeped in the equally religious institution of the strip club. The greatness of Kast really can’t be under-estimated. Who the fuck has the gonads to drop such a strange record as a single. A song that is equal parts church and strip club. A song that is as much a bluesy-hendrikian trip as it is a Atlanta bass music banger. The song has two verses and a long ass guitar solo and a drum machine part that is mad infectious. Now the lyrics are probably proof that in the history of hip hop you will never have an emcee as psychedelic and off kilter as Andre 3stacks and Big Boi. Andre opens with lyrics that show that he has an unorthodox penchant for using metaphors that can only be called tripped out

“Inslumnational”

this wording which is a portmanteau of international and slum creates the sense that he is about to suck you into his world. This clever ability to not merely use words but to create a whole new diction to describe your music is at the heart of black music. Think Parliament-Funkadelic or Sun-Ra you will find a lot of these artists alluded to there music as otherworldly. in the lyrics you find works of vivid visual poetry especially when he says:

“ Thunder pounds when i stomp the ground/like a million elephants and silverback orangutans/ you can’t stop the train”

His metaphors aren’t merely witty or sharp they are other worldly. He rearranges and turns upside down classic ways of rhyming. In this line he alludes to how unstoppable he is by making a metaphor that has silver back orangutans and elephants in the same verse. You have to be on a serious dose of LSD to come out with tripped out shit like that. Not only that but this cat says silverback orangutans which don’t exist. This kind of rhyming doesn’t merely excite but it forces the listener to realize that this artist is dealing with a reality that entirely his own.

Lets not forget that in more ways than one this song kinda predicted the Iraq war and in essence like Stuart Berman said it incapsulated the next decade. Lets also not forget that Big Boi was at his equally pimped out best. I was down south sometime in 2005 and went to a club were this song was played and people lost there shit. Its a song thats more drum n bass circa Public Enemy and Africa Bambataa than it is anything of the 2000 era. It reveals why the fuck hip hop in my opinion is one of the greatest artistic coups ever.

An Africans Guide to the music of Kendrick (The chosen) Lamar


I can’t point out when I first heard Kendrick. All I know is I had moved to a new city, and I was bumping a lot of rap in my new cramped studio apartment. At the time my apartment was armed with a mattress, two studio speakers, turntables and a bunch of records. it  was a desolate and lonely place. But every Friday, after a long day of grad classes. I would explore youtube for new ish and inadvertently would almost always turn my apartment into a space ship. I found myself darting from London’s post-dubstep scene to vibing out to the new school house of cats like kyle hall. I played the music loud and relentlessly often annoying my neighbors and landlords. But in those minutes of musical immersion my room became brighter and my life became a little less lonely. Kendrick’s ADHD slayed me. It was a song that brought about love at first listen.

Hearing ADHD was a crazy experience. The beats had this light hearted touch that hinted at sensations of floating and even in subtle ways pointed to the cloud rap trend which had been populating a ton of blogs at the time. His raps were clear and succinct. Uncluttered by complex terminology, told in a conversational style that avoided the cliche aggression of trap but still had enough energy to get you amped up. Its a song that I had on repeat like crazy. i remember a particularly drunk night walking around the city screaming “Fuck Dat” to whomever would listen.

“Picture of debut LP”

By the time his debut hit, I was completely a convert to his sound, his style and approach. A kid born in the late 80’s like me, he was a product of the same rappers that i grew up loving. He had hints of Andre 3stacks, tupac,DJ Quik, Comptons Most Wanted, E-40, Nas, Lupe Fiasco, jay-z, and a huge dose of west coast swag.

On “Hiipower” he awakens the pan-african thinkers whose ideals helped shape modern day black thought. He creates music that can be called conscious by morons. But defy this term by having an urgency and passion thats gangster but informed by an intelligence thats transcendent.

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His debut album “Goodkid m.a.a.d city” brings about a lot of excitement among those all too ready to crown him the next messiah of rap. The album is built on tightly woven raps that explore themes of teen angst, gang violence, sexual impropriety and  give a glimpse into the world of a man walking in a dangerous world and trying to avoid the traps set up by society.

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On “cartoon and cereal” he goes into his space alien Andre meets Wayne vibe, but he does it on his own terms. He varies his register going from straight talking with an alien voice to sounding strong and authoritative. He touches on subject matter that one needs to unwind to make a sense of.  His accomplice gunplay adds a visceral rawness to the song that makes this a standout non album cut.

In no way shape or form is this cat the first to mine jazz joints for his beats. But Kendrick approaches rap with this unrelenting style of attack that mixes holding back and exploding in equal measure. He can spazz on a song and rap at rapid fire and then straight slow down or if he likes explode on some almost Busta Rhymes/TWISTA shit.

On “Recipe” I was slightly afraid that Dr Dre was going to totally ride Kendricks coattails mastering and producing his albums. But to Kendricks credit he did a few songs with Dre and this to me is the standout. Its a cut that is ok at best but it reminds me of the days it was actually exciting to hear Dre rap.

Skip to about the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 and I hear the song “I” and i get a little worried. He starts to sound like one of those preacher rappers. One of those preacher rappers whose message begins to over whelm the uniqueness of the craft that made them worth listening too in the first place. Yet the beat hinted at experiments with longer songs built around extended jamming and a freestyle fusion jazz style. By the time the time the “Blacker the berry” hit amidst a tumult of issues surrounding police violence in america. I knew kendrick was on some prophetic shit.

The blacker the berry to me is a song that hearkens to the rebel rock tradition of cats like peter tosh and burning spear while deliberately mining the new headlines for topical timely issues of pride that transcend race. Its pure fire, armed with a heavy beat and a sense of riotous indignation at a global system that denies people their fare shake at existing in this world with a sense of pride and honor. Armed with a hook courtesy of assassin its equal parts Ice Cube Americas most wanted meets dead prez.

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By the time the album hits us unexpectedly and abruptly we are given an album thats fiery and bristling with righteous indignation. Its music thats unapologetically sophisticated and raw at the same time. On King Kunta he mines James Brown and DJ Quik in equal measure.

Is he the messiah or rap? I doubt it. I don’t believe in messiahs but he makes music that reminds me that we live in a world were people with certain skin color are still denied the opportunity to fully define themselves. Music like Kendrick’s functions to liberate people from the the walls of prejudice and indifference.

Peep This: An African’s guide to krautrock


Krautrock hit me like a ton of bricks when i first got hip too and heard Can and Kraftwerk. Its music thats heady and futuristic but still informed by a kind of ancient primal-ness.

In a strange way we find the static mechanized throb of a lot of krautrock informing everything from detroit techno to early electro-hiphop. Its a music thats an attempt by a generation of german kids to connect their history with that of the older history of humanity.

Peep Game: Noisey on Eminems Marshall Mathers LP


I first heard Eminem when I was a young innocent sheltered kid living in a mining town in southern Africa. The slim shady LP was explosive and dipped in subject matter that turned all morality and sense of right or wrong on its head. He basically took a huge dump on all the judeo-chirstian indoctrination I was raised on. He did it in a way that combined sheer rap ability with a cartoon like wit that was unprecedented in Hip Hop. Marshall Mathers LP came when I was a relatively mature rap fan  and it was the single give a fuck about Dre that opened an almost two year period when this album was the soundtrack to my adolescent years. If you ask me now i keep this album mostly for memories sake. So reading this noisy article helped me acknowledge the weird way music acts as a totem for periods in our lives. It manages to capture and help us relive how we felt, who we loved, what we hated and what we watched and listened too.

http://noisey.vice.com/blog/eminem-the-marshall-mathers-lp-15-years-later?utm_source=noiseyfbus

Album Masterpiece: Maxwells Urban Hang Suite


I came upon this album way way after it dropped on April 2nd 1996. This was a weird period in the history of R&B an art-form that for many years represented the apex of black american music. In 1996 black music was under the hypnotic control of large major label glossy Hip Hop and equally decadent and empty highly sexualized 90’s R&B. This art form that was created by black, occasionally white and brown men born and raised on either the blues or church music, had evolved into an empty call to vain sexual encounters. In the midst of this decadent emptiness two records dropped by two distinctly different artists, that changed the vanguard. On July 5th 1995 D’angelo dropped the Hip Hop referencing soul epic “Brown Sugar” and then in 1997 Miss Badu drops “Baduizm”. These movements were the soul version of the native tongues movement, an attempt to capture a sound that was organically rooted in the past but grounded in the present. Maxwells Urban Hang Suite, was an album that unapologetically transcended time and space. The album was an adult in its exploration of adult themes about relationships. Yet its beauty was founded on its lack of overt sexuality but is founded on a mature exploration of committed relationships and not hook-ups. The lyrics are respectful to women, while still managing to serenade and in more ways than one excite women. Recently I have found myself listening to and buying a ton of early 80’s soul music by acts as remote as Syreeta, Ladies of the 80s and slightly big names like Patricia Rushen, Roy Ayers and rose royce, I began to realize how timeless this record is and was.

One sound that pervades this album  is the sound of Quiet Storm radio, A sound credited to WHUR-FM in washington D.C an iconic station if ever there was one. The term Quiet Storm is attributed to a song of the same name by  Smokey Robinson.

To this day after a late shift at work, there is nothing more soothing than hearing acts like Luther Vandross, Frankie Beverly & Maze or Anita Baker play as I drive home. This quiet storm sound is all over Maxwells Urban Hang Suite covering it in a unassuming representation of what love and relationships aught to be. This music avoids the cliches  of acts like Chris Brown or any of these other newbies, its music thats sang in a  tone reminiscent of early Toni Tone Tone on records like “Annie May”.

Born and raised in the church as a lot of soul-singers were Maxwell understood how to create music founded on a balance between secular and religious explorations of love between a man and a woman. Its music that is created in a way that  appeals to couples but can be performed in public and not feel too individualized. As a young music geek, my attraction to this album was founded on the musicality on the record. Its built on steamy deep grooves, and drum machines reminiscent on some of Princes’ calmer songs. Its an album that has this pleading quality to it while also being vulnerable. One of the albums I was listening to while playing this was Marvin Gayes “I want you” a record produced with the assistance of Leon Ware who helped maxwell on this the song “Sumthing Sumthin”,

Then you also have the assistance of giants like Wah Wah Watson dropping in all the Wah Wah guitar sounds that gave the album a restrained-funkiness that made it very groovy and adult for urban radio. Maxwells Falsetto reflecting Curtis Mayfield, Prince and Smokey robinson in equal measure, but we cannot deny the Sade influence which came from the golden touch of Stuart Matthewman.

The song that had me losing my mind was ‘Till the cops come knocking” a song that sounds like the product of people whispering sweet nothings in their bedroom. Its pure intimacy is driven by subtle Wah Wah and an ethereal sounding background punctuated by deep bass lines and calm sultry drums.

The album flows sequentially in a  concept built around a relationship that goes from introduction to sexual climax and ends with marriage.

I was inspired to write this when I heard the music of 4aD signed artists Inc who explicitly discussed the influence of Maxwell on there record.