Monday, August 27, 2012

A World We See

Tru-ID and Graves33

From 2011, the stylistically-endowed Tru-ID teamed up with production master and all-around b-boy Graves 33 on this 8-track album.  The sound presented is a big departure from Tru-ID's debut album Stranded, or from his work with Ricky Pharoe.  This is due mainly to the maturing of his craft and the like-minded production from Graves.  Stranded was an epic, cinematic record, full of signature Reigncraft studio drama.  A synthetic orchestra accompanied him on that release, and his styles were intense, bombastic, and rapid-fire.  His subsequent release with Ricky Pharoe was a relatively subdued one, with both production and styles toned down a notch.  Tru abandons the emcee acrobatics even further on this release, placing the focus on storytelling and getting his point across; of which he proves to be just as much a master as he is with spitting.  The melancholy, multi-textured beats of Graves compliment him well here, creating a sense of sophisticated melodrama as opposed to Reigncraft's all-out war.  Graves joins in on vocals on one track, as does AudioPoet.  Great music from the Northwest, as if you didn't know by now.

Tru-ID and Graves33

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ETS: Medicine Men

Ethiopian Tattoo Shop, By Edward Hays

This is a rare treasure:  A document of a singular moment in time, fueled by wild creativity with the force of a pressure cooker.  Beauty made under the gun.  Phreewil, Nathan Wolfe, and Graves33 wrote and recorded this album, inspired by the book by the same name, in a matter of weeks.  Each track represents a different story or parable from the novel, and therefore the songs play out in a connected fashion; not linearly, but philosophically.  Raw and brilliant work, at times jaw-dropping in its psychedelic urgency.  Despite the other-worldliness, this is not some Piper At the Gates of Dawn, "Listen To What the Flower People Say" sort of album.  This is vehement and craving,  conscious of it's mortality.  Which makes the hurried and inspired beauty found in each song all the more poignant.  Phreewil noted that this is his favorite contribution to music, and although I'm not familiar with all his work I would be duly impressed to find another such passionate, metaphysically-connected contribution to the art, from him or anyone else.  Quite generously, the ETS crew opened their doors to several of their friends for contribution, including Asun/Suntonio Bandanaz, Leland Jones, Tru-ID, Milo, Khanfidenz, Audiopoet, and Page1.  Amazing work.  From 2010.

Ethiopian Tattoo Shop

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kingdom Crumbs

DIY Demigods

The debut album by Cloud Nice's Kingdom Crumbs is the long-awaited culmination of the Cloud's experimental and forward-thinking sound, image, and attitude.  Not so much a collection of songs as a loosely-knitted tapestry of impressions, Kingdom Crumb's debut LP plays like a song-cycle from the Mad Hatter; whimsical and random, but with elements a little edgy, and sometimes dangerous.  Inspired insanity!  With songs that rarely stay fixed in place for long, the album constantly morphs from style style; from sleek, Chic-influenced soul, to ambient, dreamy washes of colorful tonality, to tribal chanting - often within a single song.  Production visionary Tay Sean's trademark airy synths dominate the mix, accompanied by clean, stuttering beats and lots of reverb.  Electronic rhythms and patterns fade in and out, sometimes ending abruptly, sometimes derailing, going where the wind takes them.  Emcees Tay Sean, Mikey Nice, Jarv Dee and Jerm masterfully fit every vibe.  With so many talented lyricists it would be hard to keep ego out of the mix, but they do just that, combining their talents in the right way for the betterment of each song and the album as a whole.  With the ever-changing and experimental quality of the record, it comes as no surprise that the three most cohesive (and for lack of a better word, standard) songs are the ones already released as singles: "Pick Both Sides of My Brain" and "The Mezzanine" are two addictive head-nodding, groove-based gems, while "For The Birds" serves as a distilled vision of the album as a whole - sedated and dreamy, with unexpected changes and breakdowns in the music.  However, when placed within the maelstrom of sounds that is the Crumbs' album, these three tracks fit perfectly, bubbling up at just the right moment to link one passage with the next, or to gently wake the listener from a music-induced trance. As a genre this record is obviously difficult to classify.  Certainly hip hop plays a big role - the lyricism and stylistic technique is present, as are the cultural references and the swagger - but other influences are nearly as dominant.  Disco and soul play huge parts, and so does late-sixties-era electric jazz of Davis and Hancock.   The ambient electronic music of Kraftwerk and Brian Eno can also be heard.  Just as evident as the influences is the certainty that this is something entirely knew and unheard of, something that might even not have a name yet.  So I'll call it like I see it: this is evolution.  Check it 
and be amazed.

This has been my most anticipated record release yet this year.  Based on the three singles the Crumbs have released so far, I knew this was some future shit.  And guess what, the album is finally about to drop, and even more exciting is the cats over at have this album for sale right now!  Like, a week before official release!  Ziibra has come together with several independent artists to help promote and sell their music, in a unique way.  According to their faq, ZIIBRA's pricing works so the cost of an album drops incrementally as the number of people who buy it grows. So the more people who pledge to buy the album, the lower the cost is for everyone. You don't get charged until the end of the sale period, when the buyer then pays the final price based on the total amount of buyers.  So hype this!  Get the word out!  Dope record over here!!  Support the Cloud Nice collective by snagging this, the album is more than worth whatever the price will ultimately be.  Check out the debut album from Kingdom Crumbs below, at

Kingdom Crumbs