By: Angelo Gio Mateo, Benjamin De Boer, Chantel Ouellet, Charlie Westrick, Jordan Balls, Josh Silver
Welcome back to the hellhole, everyone. January is a weird month, with everyone pretending they are ready for new beginnings while simultaneously vowing not to leave their beds. Why deny yourself your hibernating tendencies? If you want the best of both worlds curl up in a dozen blankets, plug in your headphones and try these songs on for size. It may not be the new beginning you were hoping for but hopefully these songs will be new to you. Who says discovering new music is not being productive?
– Chantel Ouellet”Thursday in the Danger Room (feat. Kamasi Washington)”
Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels 3 (2016)
One of the highlights of Run The Jewels 3 (2016) is “Thursday In the Danger Room,” with Kamasi Washington on the saxophone. It serves as RTJ3’s “Crown,” bringing some emotion to the record. Both El-P and Killer Mike rap about having someone close pass away—in El-P’s case, by some sort of illness and in Killer Mike’s case, killed for his chain. On the track, both Jaime and Mike put aside their hard-hitting braggadocio for something really special to show that underneath their tough exteriors, they are human beings that feel and mourn like all of us. On top of all of that, Washington’s distorted sax on the chorus sounds like the next step for Run the Jewel’s sound. Surely the standout track on RTJ3.
-Angelo Gio Mateo”RedEye to Paris (feat. Skepta)”
Day of the Dead EP (2015)
Though it’s now a couple of years old, Flatbush Zombies’s “RedEye to Paris” still packs quite the punch. The Brooklyn trio’s inimitable hazed style of production fits perfectly with their slurred flow, as one word seems to seamlessly merge with the next. The catchy hook gives the song a focal point, though it’s their verses where the Zombies shine individually. However, it’s when London Grime MC Skepta enters that the track really comes to life. The staccato harshness of his voice stunningly contrasts with the smooth backing track and the American drawls that came before him. He spits pure fire, daring anyone to try to knock him from atop his throne. The Boy Better Know head honcho and 2016 Mercury Prize winner is on top of his game these days and ranks among the best in the world. Though his album Konnichiwa (2016) was incredible, revisiting this fascinating collaboration from both sides of the pond whets the appetite for any future work, including the production of a rumoured studio session with Kanye West that Skepta will release in 2017.
Outside my window is another building. It has been cut through in section, revealing each room like a dollhouse when the latch has been disengaged and the facade removed in one smooth stroke. The inhabitants behind the glass go about their business, cook, clean, fall in love, dance, eat, enter, exit, prepare, make their beds, fold laundry, pet their cat. Is there a word for this vague feeling? It is brought about by this place, this song, this view; but, can it be distilled? Brought to the fore?
Or is it just a confluence of moments when:
The first note plays
A dog and owner cross the street
Three cars pass, whooshing
A distant jackhammer sounds
Two students loudly banter
A taxi unloads its passengers
A pair of heels clap against the pavement
And you are there, listening.
-Josh Silver”I Serve the Base”
I don’t know much about rap, but I don’t think I’ve related to a song as much as I do with “I Serve the Base.” This song has scathing, acidic synth-lines and refuses to adhere to an actual structure outside of its hook. Future throws shade with lines like, “if bitches wanna be here they’ll be right here” and “they tryna take the soul out of me/they try to take my confidence and they know I’m cocky.” It’s innovative yet sinister, two of the the best things a song can be.
Shadow Boat EP (2016)
If it’s mine it’s not mine? If it’s me (being greedy) it is too
much for them
if me waste knot
if it is mine it’s mine, recording the theater of drowning
hull tugging, bayou conscious
if it is not me it’s not mine, shadow across unfamiliar land
if not mine? want knot
if it is not me taking what I already know is mine and
still gasping (musculature bubbly)
if not mine is not me ‘if it is me,’ then it’s not mine and
if not me, then whose else’s is it but mine
-Benjamin de Boer
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-arts/have-you-heard-volume-ii/.