Apollo Brown & Ras Kass
“H20” (feat. Pharoahe Monch & Rakaa Iriscience)
“Stay low-key like midget door knobs/ Stay above the law like Judge Judy giving blowjobs”: it’s been over 16 years since the Waterproof MC, Ras Kass, spit these fateful lines. At least one well-publicized label dispute, numerous arrests and several disappointing albums later, Ras is back to re-stake his claim as one of the purest lyricists alive. And fortunately, he’s finally found the beats to bring out the beast in him, thanks to Detroit producer Apollo Brown.
Due out October 28 on CD/iTunes and November 11 on 2xLP, Blasphemy marks a true return to form for the first man to ever make multiple seven-minute philosophical-dissertation-style rap songs. While there may not be another one of them on this upcoming album, there are myriad rewindables and thought-provoking head nodders, beginning with the first single, “H20,” which finds Razzy and HRSMN affiliate Pharoahe Monch trading verses that turn the old cliche “back in the day” upside down and inside out.
Don’t Get Too Weary
Figured I’d be getting that awful feeling in my stomach while also laughing uncontrolably when I first heard about KidBeat, but KidBeat turned out to be a funky instrumental hip-hop procuder, and not a smarmy child in a beige trench coat. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess.
Anyway, BeatKid just popped off his new album, Don’t Get Too Weary, on Rochester, New York based label digdugDIY, and you can grab one of the limited copies of Don’t Get Too Weary right here. And, if you’re so inclined, you can score a Walkman out of the bundle deal digdugDIY is running. Warning: headphones are NOT included with your purchase, so be aware, ya inquisitive and acquisitive goon.
Kero Kero Bonito
ケロケロ is the sound frogs make in Japan. Bonito means “beautiful” in Spanish. Depending on who you ask, London’s Kero-Kero Bonito might make insufferably chirpy and saccharine music, or they might have tapped into the mainline of the internet and are gracious enough to beam their DAW discoveries into our jaded little domes via SoundCloud. If you ask me, I’ll tell you straight up, “I love this shit.” KKB come off as the spiritual descendants of (the recently revived) Cibo Matto, whose gleeful omni-pop / leftfield hip-hop classic Viva La Woman! still gets me to SHUT UP AND EAT on the reg. If Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda seemed to exist in an alternate universe back in 1996, rapping in broken English about knowing one’s chicken and eating carrots together, today’s mass culture has so fully embraced the 萌え by way of its Kyarys and SOPHIEs that KKB’s hyperactive celebrations of video game expertise and sleeping in late fit nicely into our schema. We live in a time when this band can generate substantial buzz via multiple media outlets, and for that, I am down.
So what tropes does Intro Bonito, the trio’s debut mini-album, throw at its listeners across its half an hour duration, like a large display of items available for purchase at Tom Nook’s store? The kitchen sink, man. On the production end, arranged by two dudes named Gus and Jamie: Mario 64 and Chrono Trigger samples; hi-fi synth solos pounded out over MIDI slap bass tones; trap hi-hats and 808 kicks (obviously); sudden square wave chord progressions; willfully tinny preset drum tones; obligatory cat (ニャーニャー) and dog (ワンワン) sounds; pitch-shifted vocaloid melodies. MC/vocalist Sarah ties it all together with her stream of consciousness toasting, code-switching between English and Japanese on the fly during any given verse, baring her fixations (the park, pets, gaming) one track at a time. Her idiosyncratic vocal style, flitting from detached monotone raps to chanting exuberance, demands a shedding of all pretense on the part of the listener. If you want to hang out at her party, you have to be able to reciprocate her 可愛過ぎる vibes. But, for all the cutesiness on the surface, Sarah’s lyrical content proves to be more nuanced than naive in its treatment of stereotypes (“It’s often said / I should get some girly hobbies instead”) and expectations of feminine behavior (“Child producing machine / That’s what nature has designed me to be”).
Intro Bonito is out now via Double Denim records. Challenge them to the video game of your choice at your own risk, even if you’re an android.
How To Dress Well
“Repeat Pleasure” (A. G. Cook Remix)
Remember hearing the first How To Dress Well track and feeling like you were listening to the next step in music? And then this year he pops off his third album What Is This Heart?, and your immediate reaction was, “THIS fucking guy doing the same thing, again?” Then PC Music comes along, A. G. Cook starts slaying all ideals of progression in music, makes the sleaziest and crispest sugar-pop, and then recognizes an opportunity like remixing “Repeat Pleasure” into something WAY more.
Granted, the remix couldn’t be possible without that typical How To Dress Well touch, but “Repeat Pleasure” should have been produced BY A. G. Cook, or the entirety of What Is This Heart? produced by PC Music associates, on the whole. Like, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t a fascist, but shouldn’t people who’ve made the same album over and over look for their level-up moment immediately and/or eventually? How can you actively be within the arts as a “professional” without listening past your own nonsense? Isn’t this how regurgitation begins? #babybirdR&B
A. G. Cook changed how I listen to music about a year ago. Beyond that, I expect music now to be on the same playing field as PC Music. Not exactly glitzed and randomized as collective fronts sonically, but definitely utilizing psyche-breaking atmospheres that build a love-or-hate-it world within all listeners. Is this music funny? Can I appreciate the time it took to make this track? It’s like comparing the entirety of Yeezus’ lyrics to the instrumentals. Or the dynamic between creativity and what makes money. Which wins?
FUCK YOU, A. G. Cook has, JUST DID, and will continue to obliterate minds until the next-best-thing comes about. Maybe that next-best-thing is an in-collaboration A. G. Cook-produced How To Dress Well album. We just want what’s best for ourselves in the end, no?
Somehow, I managed to make an .mp3 of How To Dress Well’s “Repeat Pleasure” (A. G. Cook Remix), which is streaming below:
“Climb Up Eh”
FELICITA IS BACK. Like “Doves,” “Climb Up Eh” is another infectiously malleable track that was initially previewed last year — over a year ago, actually — and is now confirmed for Felicita’s upcoming Frenemies EP. You can almost taste this one. The track has its own webpage here, including links to order Frenemies as a yellow 12-inch with a custom plastic sleeve or as a glow-in-the-dark, translucent yellow drawstring bag. Don’t sleep on these limited goodies, or you may find yourself without a yellow 12-inch with a custom plastic sleeve or a glow-in-the-dark, translucent yellow drawstring bag!
Frenemies, the inaugural release for Gum Artefacts, is out October 13.