REVIEW: Ghösh – Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em / Beelzebub (2020)

Is this America’s answer to the UK’s notorious Grime school? If so, I’m along for the ride.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em is weird, truly. Ghösh brings the “Rap Rock and the Jungle” in a sort of inverse Pop Will Eat Itself fashion. Sonic aesthetics that seem strange and out of place at first meld together better and better with each listen.

The single’s samples blur your surroundings as they spin by. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em is an Atlantic hurricane of grime and grit, ecstaticized by its EDM elements and delivering Rock and Industrial aggression. You can feel the electricity in the air.

B-side Beelzebub is perhaps the most American song I’ve ever heard (in a good way). It may be difficult to see anything that’s not more overtly political (such as leading track Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em) as encapsulating the current American cultural milieu, but someone may need to show their grandkids this song in about 50 years and lay it out for them. Right now, it’s the Nu School’s world, and we’re just living in it.

For fans of: Machine Girl, M-Beat, The Crystal Method

Like Ghösh? Give these a listen: Wiley aka Eskiboy, Pop Will Eat Itself, this Techno remix of WAP…

REVIEW: King Kashmere – Soul Calibur (2021)

He’s back!

Iguana Man is back with his first solo material since 2010’s Galaktus LP! He hasn’t been sleeping though. With projects like Strange U, Gawd Status, and features galore, Kashmere is seemingly busier than ever.

Work ethic not wasted. Kashmere has refined his sound over the past decade, and it shows on Soul Calibur. His delivery is stronger than ever and displays the calm control only an MC two decades deep could. Soul Calibur is a beautiful work of music and it makes me excited to listen to hip-hop again during a period of my life in which I’m too glum to get into much of anything.

Soul Calibur’s instrumentation was produced by Alecs DeLarge and brings the criminally smooth lounge sound. Vibraphones, flutes, snappy snares and kicks; it’s perfect. Watch the music video, then go cop this bad boy on Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify.

For fans of: Kool Keith, Strange U, Danny Brown

Like Kashmere? Give these a listen: Third Sight, Organized Konfusion, buddy.not.bud

REVIEW: Wun Two – The Fat EP (2012)

If you’re approaching the album for the first time, The Fat EP may not seem as fresh as it did in 2012. Since then, Wun Two’s previously signature lofi style has been copied ad nauseum. The hip-hop meets ambient sound of ‘lofi beats’ has become synonymous with low effort imposters and white guys shopping at Muji, but maybe that’s unfair.

At least lofi beat making had a lot to offer. It’s been accessible, easy listening in our modern age of anxiety. The Fat EP acts less as an album of songs and more as one larger ambient whole. Songs fade in and out, neatly cropping the vocal tracks being accompanied.

It’s 24 minutes of jazzy boom bap hip-hop, drenched in the fuzzy warmth of an old 45. Relatively subdued and nonabrasive in its sonic qualities, The Fat EP‘s hyper-repetitive beats lure the listener into a relaxed state. With nearly all focus on atmosphere and sonic aesthetics (tonal qualities), lofi beats stretch from their hip-hop roots towards ambient meditation.

So why Biggie? While his delivery is notoriously smooth, his lyrics may be the furthest thing from soothing. Biggie Smalls is front and center for the whole ride, yet The Fat EP couldn’t be less about him. We can run through the accreditation of Biggie Smalls, but that would be missing the point. The Fat EP is a delivery system for the sonic aesthetics and emotions Wun Two wishes to get across.

Most tracks on the album work as short interludes or sketches of sonic ideas. Remixes of Machine Gun Funk, Big Poppa, and Dead Wrong are all under 2 minutes. The vocal tracks of Big Poppa, Suicidal Thoughts, and Dead Wrong all appear twice with different backing tracks, yet feel fresh on their second run through.

Suicidal Thoughts is perhaps at its most emotionally potent in its first incarnation on the album, ‘suicidal.thoughts’. Losing all credibility with the hip-hop heads of my youth, I’ll go ahead and say this is my favorite version of Suicidal Thoughts to ever appear. Same goes for Party And Bullshit (party.n.bullshit), which would have made for a more emotionally potent closer than the weaker second incarnation of Suicidal Thoughts.

It’s everything you need from the lofi beat scene in one convenient package, sans boredom.

For fans of: People Under The Stairs, Madvillain, DJ Shadow

Like Wun Two? Give these a listen: Funky DL, Amerigo Gazaway, Jehst

The Best Hip Hop Collab That Hasn’t Happened (Yet)

Forget the Judgement Night soundtrack (I wish I could), what the world needs is collaboration between UK hip-hop greats Strange U and American industrial dub maker skintape (stylized in all lowercase).

Strange U

Strange U is Kashmere (MC) and Doctor Zygote (producer). First coming on the scene with EP #2040 in 2014, Strange U’s ability to take humorous imagery (The Cake is A Lie, Falcon Punch) and incorporate it seamlessly into the dark world they create is incredibly rewarding. Doctor Zygote’s minimal sci-fi beats pull from a wide variety of source material ranging from Dragon Ball Z to Throbbing Gristle. Strange U’s world is completely their own, but you know who would make a great addition?

skintape

Often overlooked from other regional scenes, North Carolina’s skintape pulls from industrial metal pioneers Godflesh as well as beat projects like The Bug and Scorn. skintape also took a lead role in creating Cenobites, an instrumental industrial hip-hop album created with electronic musician Badrich in which all sounds on the album are derived from the Hellraiser horror movie franchise.

Strange U and skintape’s fondness for industrial source material, dystopian sci-fi sound design, and their shared disregard for rap game antics would create a killer album. It’s the hip hop collaboration we need.

On second thought, the Sonic Youth / Cypress Hill team-up on Judgement Night wasn’t too bad.

First linked up top, we recommend Darren Paltrowitz’s article for Please Kill Me, JUDGMENT NIGHT: THE SOUNDTRACK THAT BLEW UP POP MUSIC

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