Saturday, October 26, 2013

Not Necessarily New Music

Music suggestions for people who like good music...
...some albums I've been hitting repeat on in the last few months

Jon Connor- Unconscious State
Been bumping this album since it came out in July.  The features on here will have you saying, wait how come I don't know this guy yet?  Just to name a few.. Talib Kweli, Royce Da 5'9, Danny Brown, Smoke GZA.. But even with such a large number of guest spots none of them outshine him and they all seem to fit in nicely without seeming like too much.  Maybe you have heard of this talented rapper before from his previous mix tape "The People's Rapper" which is all Eminem beats.  He remakes each track in a unique and interesting way.  I especially like "Stan" which he does as a letter to Tupac, Biggie, and fellow Flint rapper MC Breed.  If you haven't heard of Jon Connor yet, a quick YouTube search will keep you busy with his videos for days. Jon Connor has versatility.  He picks a wide variety of beats and is able to rap in a number of different styles, even changing it up mid track, but the best thing about Connor is his passion.  You really believe that he's real and feel what he's saying.  There's a heavy southern influence on this album with a lot of trap- type beats.  Being from Flint, Michigan I think gives him a unique perspective in that he takes inspiration from all parts of the country- tying together east, west, and southern styles, not feeling tied down to represent for any one side of the typical hip hop feud.  Rather, Flint has it's own dark past that he can draw inspiration from.  With this his sophomore album and a great back catalogue of mixtapes to sift through already, I think we can expect that there's much more to come from this man.
My favourites: In My Sleep, Take the World, Rise Up

J. Cole - Friday Night Lights
Basically I can't get enough J. Cole these days.  I listed this mix tape as it's the one I play the most often right now, but I'm also spinning the Warm Up and Born Sinner regularly as well.  J. Cole is a superstar now, and he came upon it in all the right ways.  He's an inspiration to bedroom emcees and producers everywhere.  He did it all himself.  He made his own beats and spit lyrics on them that are not only clever but heartfelt and relateable.  And all this while going to university and graduating with honors.  His heard work and determination lead to him being discovered by Jay Z and signed to his label.  If you haven't heard much of his work yet I wouldn't suggest you start with his first album after being signed, "Cole World" as it's got a totally different feel to the rest of his work and it feels like he's trying to hard to make it commercially viable.  Start with Friday Night Lights and you'll be hooked on Cole for sure.  There's something for everyone here and it's real hip hop that's really easy to listen to.  As someone who is half black and half white he's the perfect one to bring these two sides of hip hop together.

My favourites:  Enchanted, Before I'm Gone, 2Face, Home For the Holidays

The Roots- How I Got Over
This is my go to album for just about any mood.  On a cold winter morning, it can brighten me up.  On a sunshiny day it can make me feel optimist and energized.  It can also match the rain and make me feel broodingly thoughtful.  There's not a lot of music that has this kind of versatility.  This is real bring people together type of music, even people that aren't particularly hip hop oriented to start with.  It ties together many genres of music.  It's hip hop with funk and soul and rock within it. Needless to say this is one of my favourite albums as a whole and I hear their live show is quite extraordinary as well, I'm excited to see these guys for the first time come December.

My favourites:  Walk Alone, Now or Never, The Day, Dear God 2.0

Theodore Kennedy-  Overcoming By Escape
One thing I look for above any other when listening to new music is passion.  The more the artist feels what they are saying then of course the more the listener will connect.  It probably helped that the first time I heard this was with the artist himself, it was the first time I met him, but when he showed us his music he was so incredibly over the top with passion that I couldn't help but be drawn in.  It wasn't to do with any sense of arrogance, in fact he was incredibly modest.  It's just that when he showed us his music he came alive in a way that was incredible to see.  He was so open and so happy to share with us and to see us responding positively.  The music really came to life for me and I can still hear that passion when I play it back now. You can tell that he doesn't make music for any reason but for himself, he does it to face his own demons, and you know he's been through a lot.  This is emotional hip hop, but it's edgy as well, angry.  This is zone out and watch the rain fall music. This is the kind of music that will get you into that deeply thoughtful, reflective zone where you face everything that you've been struggling with emotionally, get it all out by the end of the album and then feel so much better.  You'll have yourself all figured out by the time it's over.
This is the first EP from this artist, released just recently on an equally new local independent label, Newtown Research and Development.  He is only 20 yet he does his own beats and production as well as rhyming.  I feel a lot of potential in this one.

My favourites: Many Nights, Real Right, All Out

Bliss n Eso- Circus In the Sky
If you know me at all then you know I'm a hardcore Bliss n Eso fan.  They helped me to get through one of the hardest times of my life, and it wasn't just their music.  These guys are creatively inspirational and genuinely good people.  Just meeting them left me reminded that art is powerful and there are people in this world that not only want to change it but will.  And it's because I believe in them so much that I have to say this album was a bit disappointing.  Of course the production is beautiful and the beats are epic, but I guess what I'm looking for from them is something more revolutionary.  More songs in the line of "Addicted" and "The Seas Is Rising" but more.  As the top Australian hip hop artists in the game, it's their duty to bring this movement forward.  This album seems to be directed toward a much younger audience, and while it is important to teach kids and show them the way, it's also important to make sure there's something in there for the older fans as well. We're looking for something different, not just clever word play, but world changing lyrics.  The new production sounds amazing, but a couple tracks in their old, grittier style wouldn't go astray either.  All that being said it's still one of the best albums to come out of the country this year, it's just not quite where I know they could be. You know a great idea for these guys would be an OutKast Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below split, two solo albums would give us some great insight.

My favourites: I Am Somebody, Pale Blue Dot, Life's Midnight

                                  Link Me!
Jon Connor - watch this video
J. Cole - preforming with Eminem on Australian tour in February - tickets
The Roots - December 28 Hordern Pavillion, Sydney tickets
Theodore Kennedy- download the EP for free
Bliss n Eso

That's it for now, but stay cool, cool cats! More to come.
Love you all.

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