Monday, November 30, 2009
I've had just a couple things up on the Baltimore City Paper's Noise blog lately, a review of the new Architects Recording Studio mixtape Street Radio Vol. 5, and a live review of the Sugarhill Gang @ Rams Head Live, although it's since come out that apparently it was a fake version of the Sugarhill Gang with only one real member, which explains why the show sucked so bad.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
AK Slaughter - A Personal Matter EP
AK Slaughter is a rap duo, comprised of Emily Slaughter and Aran Keating, that I first learned of last year when they released this, their debut EP, and Raven Baker wrote a City Paper feature about them. But I didn't really get a chance to hear their music, outside of their contributions to the Height With Friends album, until this summer when I saw them at the Baltimore All-Rap Round Robin show, where they really stood out as one of the most entertaining acts. And more recently, someone from their camp reached out to send me this EP and their new mixtape, so it's cool to finally get more acquainted with their music, which is kind of openly comedic and playful (3 of the 8 tracks on here are skits), with a lot of battle of the sexes trash talking bouncing off of the whole boy/girl dynamic of the group. And of course, the way they combined their names to make the group name sound kinda gangsta is funny as hell. It's a little over the top and obnoxiously cutesy for my taste at times, but at the same time I respect that they're in their own lane and doing what they do pretty well.
AK Slaughter - "Tomorrow" (mp3)
This track cracked me up, definitely convinced me that Emily Slaughter needs to be added to the growing list of dope female rappers in Baltimore.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Vision - Still (B.M.W.B.)
Vision is a real prolific MC that I've posted about a couple times on here before, and this is the album he dropped over the summer. Vision makes that kinda terse, no nonsense street music that I respect more than I enjoy, never switches his style up but hasn't really evolved or improved noticeably either. Now and then he does say something really honest or comes up with some really vivid imagery in his lyrics, though, I could see this record growing on me. Guest appearances on the album include Ogun, Speilberg and Mr. Slick. You can download Still at allbmorehiphop.com/vision.
Vision - "Change Nothin'" (mp3)
This is the single that Vision said he was shooting a video for, and I think it's a good choice, definitely the standout track on this album.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Claire Hux - Black Is The New Wet (Morsy/Unruly Records)
This has been out for a minute, but I saw Phylicia Rashad doing a Jenny Craig commercial on TV and thought "oh yeah, I need to post about the new Claire Hux mixtape." I probably came across pretty harsh the last time I wrote about their stuff, and it hasn't grown on me a lot more, but I could see how people could like this, it is pretty entertaining at times. I think the combination of falsetto singing, 'clever' sex raps, and Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails samples is kind of a bad look, personally, but it does work on some level as dumb hipster fun. You can download it at clairehux.com.
Claire Hux f/ Ced Hughes - "Roll That (DJ Class & Fully Fitted Edit)" (mp3)
As was the case with the last Claire Hux mixtape, my favorite track is a beat jack from a Baltimore club classic, in this case DJ Class's "Roll Dat Shit."
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sonny Gunnz - "Free As A Bird (mp3)
Today marks one year since the death of Baltimore rapper Sonny Gunnz, see SonnyGunnz.com or my review of the tribute concert in January for more info.
Here's the excellent new video for "Hood Report" by Tha Scholars.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
810 - Supply And Demand
810 is an MC I first heard on The Black Sunn's projects who sent me some of his stuff recently. He's kinda working in the same vein as Black Sunn, kinda classic headnodding cratedigging hip hop, but one thing I like about 810's stuff is that he's got all these slick '80s pop/R&B samples that get chopped up into something more hip hop. This is an album he released in February, he just dropped a new project earlier this month that I haven't checked out yet.
810 - "Bill Gates" (mp3)
This song, like a lot of the tracks on the mixtape, was produced by Mydus.
Friday, November 20, 2009
This week I have a piece in the Baltimore City Paper about the Rapdragons, a new hip hop duo I saw at the All-Rap Round Robin, a few months ago, which was actually only their 3rd show ever. They're playing at the Windup Space this Saturday, and their album is available for download on Ltdcomp.com, but what I'm really excited to hear is their next record, Featuring Baltimore, which is going to be all samples of Baltimore bands with Baltimore rappers guesting on tracks with them.
(photo by Rarah)
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Mario - D.N.A. (J Records)
Mario's last album Go! from a couple years back was a really good record, but it didn't really spin off any big singles like his first two albums, so I was wondering where his career was headed and whether Baltimore still had a R&B star really representing in the mainstream. As I mentioned in a Splice Today piece I wrote recently about musicians in reality shows, I thought dude going on "Dancing With The Stars" was maybe signaling the end of his music career. But then he came back big over the summer with "Break Up," which really I think was annoying as fuck, one of the worst hits of the year, but good for him that it got him back on the charts, and the follow-up single "Thinkin' About You" is really good. This definitely isn't his best album, but it's got some good tracks on it and really I think he's easily one of the best R&B singers in his age bracket out there, still.
Mario - "I Miss My Friend" (mp3)
This is one of my favorite tracks and damn, it was written by Babyface, that's big.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
A couple months ago I posted the first video from ScholarMan's next album, Free Spirit Of A Troubled Soul, due out January 2010, and here's the second, "Reap, Sow."
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Ogun - "Ever Since I Saw You" (mp3)
Fresh off winning a Baltimore Crown Award, Ogun just released the first single from his upcoming album Count Me In. DJ Excel produced "Ever Since I Saw You," and it's kind of a revamp of a song of his own, "All Nite Long," which was one of my favorite Baltimore club tracks of last year. So it's cool to hear a new version of that beat with Ogun on a club track for pretty much the first time ever, as far as I know (not counting the song with Blaq Starr, which wasn't very club). Ogun's also opening for the Sugar Hill Gang on Wednesday.
(photo by by Tya Eyeni Anthony)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
PenDragon - HomeRun King (Team Arson)
I talk to PenDragon pretty often and always check for his music, but between having a baby and everything else that's been going on, I've been really slow to catch up on this mixtape he released on his site over the summer. I mean, the mixtape has a baseball theme and here I am posting about it after baseball season, and after Drag dropped another mixtape, 24, in the past couple weeks, so I gotta claim a late pass. Anyway, it's got his remix of DJ Class's "I'm The Ish" that I posted a few months ago, and the song "Beat It Up" that he shot a dope video for, along with a lot of new stuff of varying quality, with guests including Real 2 Real, Tha Profitt, and Jae Poet. I'm not sure why but this isn't really hitting me like I Got Hits 4 Cheap did, a few good tracks but there's some stuff that just has weak beats or awkward hooks or something detracting from it. Plus, I keep warning Drag to stop throwing around the word "king," both because of how played out that word is in this city, and because it keeps bringing to mind the phrase "drag king," which isn't really a great mental association for him to have.
One thing you may notice is that the Government Names logo appears on the back cover of this mixtape. And while I realize that artists acknowledging blogs on mixtape artwork is pretty commonplace these days, and I have always been pretty supportive of Drag, my logo showing up on his project, right by the logo of his actual label, puts me in an awkward position, as a critic that would like to write about his music, but wouldn't review this in, say, the City Paper because that logo could give them impression that there's some official affiliation or business relationship there, which would be a conflict of interest. Plus, say I don't like someone's mixtape enough to want to write about it, why wouldn't I want my logo on it, y'know? It's lose/lose for me. Drag actually put my logo on a previous mixtape last year and I let it slide, but after he did it again and another rapper followed suit more recently, I had to let him know that's a bad idea. So just for future reference, please don't do that, I wouldn't want my brand stamped on anything I'm not involved with personally on some level.
PenDragon - "Rain" (mp3)
Drag recently shot a video for this track, which is co-produced by J. Dauma and samples "Raining In Baltimore" by Counting Crows. And I won't lie, I fuck with that song, August And Everything After is a jam.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here's the video for Ty Gudda's "Life I Lead" featuring Miss Cream. According to the YouTube description, the song is on his Freshman Year mixtape, but it sure ain't on my copy.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Skarr Akbar - The Street Album B4 The Album (Akbar Enterprize)
One area of Baltimore rap that hasn't really been doing much for me lately is kinda aggressive hardcore street rap, which is a shame because I think that's one of the things Baltimore does best. There seems to be a good amount of new blood and excitement but really, I don't have to name names but for the most part I don't think many people are doing it well, a lot of people that just straight up can't rap for shit. So I'm glad that Skarr Akbar, one guy you can always trust to do that kind of music right, is still making records constantly. This is one of the more recent ones up on allbmorehiphop.com/skarr, might be my favorite from him since The Epidemic, lot of self-produced tracks on here. The only question I have is...what is the album this is before, and what is it called and when's it coming out? I mean damn, Skarr can drop a hundred mixtapes, and might, but I hope he drops a real real album one of these days.
Skarr Akbar - "What U Doing" (mp3)
I like the whole old school vibe of this one with the beatbox percussion.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Baltimore Scene held the Baltimore Crown Awards at 5 Seasons on Sunday, and I decided to stay home with my son that night, but I ended winning a "golden pen" award to match my "best blog/website" award from last year. So thanks to them and the voters, and congratulations to the other winners, full list below:
Hip Hop Artist of The Year: Mully Man
Poet of the Year: Taalam Acey
Vocalist of the Year: Chyna Doll
Band of the Year: Soul Cannon
Mixtape of the Year: Comp "The Man with the Hand 2"
Photographer of the Year: Kelly Connelly
Graphic Designer of the Year: Skarr Akbar
Blog/Website of The Year: www.allbmorehiphop.com
Studio of the Year: Architect Studios
Manager of the Year: EC (Frank Lewis)
Promoter of the Year: Tay Tay of Tayland Promotions
Under the Radar Awards: Tonio from da top
Most Likely to Succeed Award: Mully Man
Best New Artist: Black Sunn
Best Live Venue: Rams Head Live
Best Poetry Venue: The 5 Seasons/Warm Wednesdays
Best Hip Hop Venue: Club Reality
Golden Awards: Awarded to artists that take it beyond being artists and use their talent and energy to contribute to the scene/community
Golden Mic: Ogun
Golden Pen: Al shipley
Golden Stage: 5th L
Special Appreciation Award: Ahk of 88.9
Special Contribution Award: Lisa Stant
Baltimore Legend Awards
Inductees to The Baltimore Hall of Fame
(Joining: Fertile Ground, Labtekwon, Taalam Acey, D Chase, and Ogun)
Mr. Wilson (RIP), K Swift (RIP), Vicious V, Sonny Brown, Lo Key, Brown Fish, Comp, and Skarr Akbar.
Wye Oak - "Dance My Pain Away" (mp3)
Mickey Free - "That I Do" (mp3)
Splice Today, a great site that I've been doing some writing for, recently released its second compilation album for free on the site. Baltimore Does Baltimore, Part 1 is, as you can probably tell from the title, a collection curated by Zach Kaufmann of Baltimore musicians covering songs by other Baltimore musicians, mostly people from the indie rock scene. However, there are two tracks on here that worthy of noting here on Gov't Names, and both involve Wye Oak, who are probably my favorite band in Baltimore of the past couple years. On one track, rapper Mickey Free (of Height With Friends and the Baltimore All-Rap Round Robin) remixes Wye Oak's song "That I Do" and adds a verse to it. But the really exciting thing is that Wye Oak themselves worked up a cover of Rod Lee's stone classic "Dance My Pain Away." On the face of it, a mellow rock band covering a Baltimore club song is the kind of thing that might easily make me cringe; rock artists doing tongue-in-cheek of covers of raunchy rap songs have become a really awful annoying cliche in the past 10 years, and it kinda irritates me that Kaufman references one, Ben Folds's "Bitches Ain't Shit," when describing Wye Oak's track. What they do with "Dance My Pain Away" is a million times better than that, and totally respectful of the original song, which has a lot of melody and pathos to begin with, and I think them just being from Baltimore probably gives them the right understanding of it and club music to pull it off. Plus I'm really just excited because there is probably no person in the world who loves both Wye Oak and "Dance My Pain Away" as much as I do. Baltimore Does Baltimore, Part 1 was mastered by my friends at Mobtown Studios, by the way.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Who Got Next, the latest Baltimore hip hop DVD that I'm apparently going to be on is having a release party next weekend -- they just taped my interview yesterday, and I think for once I actually managed to say some shit, hope it all comes out well.
Bossman f/ Scola - "U Already Know" (mp3)
Bossman's finally got a new single out to follow up "Break Me Off," featuring Scola formerly of Dru Hill. Video coming soon, getting played on 92Q right now.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
DJ Bless f/ Wordsmith - "Heavy Metal Mics" (mp3)
Wordsmith - "Braggin' Rights" (mp3)
Here's some new music from the ever prolific Wordsmith, a DJ Bless-produced track featuring him, and his own new solo single produced by Rafpak, from the Overdue & Underrated mixtape dropping on December 7th. His album with Chubb Rock, Bridging The Gap, is on iTunes now but is finally getting a national release in stores on November 17th (although I've seen copies in the Sound Garden here in Baltimore already). Also, Wordsmith is performing at Heavy Hitters 7 this Friday.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Cutthroat - "We Are God (live at Mobtown Studios)" (mp3)
My good friends at Mobtown Studios in Charles Village have been doing a series of 'microshows' over the past year, with Baltimore musicians giving intimate performances for an in-studio audience. And a couple weeks ago Cutthroat from For The People Entertainment became the first hip hop act to do a microshow, with live musicians backing him up on guitar and percussion and keyboards. And it came out really well, I think they're excited to get more hip hop in the mix in the future if anyone else is game for something a little different. Here's one of my favorite songs from that night, but you can download or stream the whole set at the Mobtown site. Catch FTP opening for Raekwon at Bourbon St. next week.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
This is NME's video for the songs "Going Hard" and "B More Careful," never heard these cats before and it's kinda low budget but I like it, although the contrast between the two songs is so dramatic it's almost funny.