The Year. Interlude – Straight Gangsterism

This guest post is by Seán Mc Tiernan, a guy from Kilkenny who likes hip hop. He’s on Twitter here.

I was originally going to do a big post on Odd Future but there’s probably enough about them written on the internet as it is. Instead I’m going to post some rap videos I really liked from this year and talk a bit about them. Good eh? These aren’t particularly obscure cuts, you’ve probably heard most of them already but I just really liked them and am glad to get an opportunity to enthuse about them. Same goes for the “other music” I’m also going to bang on about. I don’t write about music at all in a professional capacity or even regularly in any capacity so this might be a bit obvious and “fan-ish” but they’re all a lot of fun.

click here to play this ish (the video was good but Glen didn’t want you to see it)

Usually The Misfits and appreciation of them by anyone over about 15 is cause for headbutts and insults (incidentally at age 16, I purchased a pair of Misfits-themed skate shoes which I still wear at summer time). This is interesting and awesome production though, great use of the guitar-and-danzig sample without a “whistle or a bell on it” and not sounding like much anything else that came out this year (aside from ELP’s album, a clear influence). A-1, although occasionally being a bit hammy and strident, is rad on this too. Good concept, well-executed and “I’m half black but I feel like I’m three fifths until i get the other four tenths no peace, bitch” is a Great couple of bars to end a song on. He did a great mixtape of TV themes that’s worth checking out, Sorry about no video, I guess Glenn didn’t appreciate being sampled.

Poor Gangrene. I didn’t see anyone hyping them much this year, even though they had excellent videos and heavy-amazing songs. I love this one the best off their record (it’s my ringtone actually so going by that barometer it is THE BEST SONG EVER). It’s a pity the audience for this was too busy convincing themselves Das Racist invented a type of rap music that’s been going for years (they let me hear ELP rap again though so yay for that and seem as bemused by this opinion of themselves as I am) or getting mad excited about Odd Future. It’s hard to be the dudes who were obviously not for the hip hop crowd but too hip hop for the token crowd either. At least that’s what I think happened. Worth noting that in this video full of traditional Disturbing Music Video things the iphone-on-mouth effect is actually legitimately disquieting and weird. Check out their other videos they put out and cop their album. Alchemist and Oh No played the game perfectly this year. It’s just few actually watched them.

There are plenty of songs to love on bay area legends E-40’s double album Revenue Retrievin’. Lightweight Jammin really isn’t the one to start with either, that’d be any of the the many by 40’s bizarrely talented soon Droop-E. But we’ll get to him. For now, here is the song I danced to the most this year, the one I caught odd stares for rapping along with while walking in town most regularly and the one with the goofiest/coolest video around. Shit. Any video where the man who made the beat walks on, gets chest bumped and then strolls away (take note, Swizzy) is going in the good books no matter what else. Huslah is having the best time here though, both on record and on camera. Rockin’ around hilariously through a serviceable Cylde Carson verse (is there any other kind?) before murdering the track so hard he has to shout his name twice. Brilliant. If only he could get out of prison more often. Oh and of course my favorite rapper, 40 water, manages to make his first verse be about the song itself and still be more gangsteronic than anything else you got at this year. Excellent music for goin’ dumb.

Here’s Meek Mill being particularly high energy and breathless about how good he is, going hard with his high-pitched philly flow. The beat, supplied by Jahlil Beats, is legitimately insane. Seriously, listen to it. I don’t even understand half the shit that’s going on in there. It took me a couple of idle listens to twig how weird the whole thing was. A great song from bizarre materials.

Main Attrakionz should be bigger than they are already. I think they may be about to hit the p4k crowd because they did a bit for a These New Puritans remix project. Their music and muddily mixed vocals truly went to unique places this year, and Legion Of Doom probably traveled the furthest. Taking the Imogen Heap cut-up Lil B made famous to it’s logical conclusion, this is a spastic soundscape of competing tones and vowel-noises. All that along with seriously ill rap shit within. Unmissable.( I wrote about this when they dropped the video and so few people were covering these guys Squadda B contacted me to thank me. That’s crazy and cool of him but hopefully in ’11 he’ll be too busy to do stuff like that.)

Danny Brown fucking murdered it this year. There’s no way to describe what the Detroit emcee did to every single beat he brayed his psychotic shit over. I had to pick two songs from him cause I could have picked ten. He’s got killer punchlines and mind of his own (spends most of his time on twitter insulting people for not listening to These New Puritans) and he’s hungry. Re-up is the first video, off The Hybrid, Danny’s album from this year. The growling chorus is a classic, Brown’s delivery is versatile but it always hits as hard as it possible can. His odd yelps are far more threatening than you’d imagine. And the second is DB’s most well-heard verse of the year, another stomping beast full of weird character detail and hilarious punchlines. It also features the best I-Don’t-Fuck-With-Fame-Whores bar I’ve heard in a minute: “If you never knew me then you’ll probably never know me”. 2011 will belong to Danny Brown I think. If there is Justice. (full disclosure: Danny Brown asked me and the dude I produce with to make a few tracks for him, nothing came of it so I’m not so excited because I worked with him, I’m excited despite not getting to. Just to pre-empt some twitter detectives and do a small humblebrag I guess)

It sounds like hyperbole but it’s true: no one sounds like Young L. The rapper/producer from ex-teenage-sneaker-rappers-but-now-grown-ass-men-party-fiends the Pack( who also have a young based god in their midst) has honed his sound in the years since his initial blowing-up. Now it sounds like the music people were trying to make in 60s Sci-fi films when they went into future night clubs. All hoovers from nowhere and disjointed beeping, hewn into that slap that Cali folks cannot not be hungry for. It’s like he makes rap music, but in Europe. If Europe were in the future and in space. That Tremendo Tron Slap. ( He is a serviceable rapper.)

There was good New York rap in 2010. This guy made it. It also sounds like it was made in the 90s. So if you’ve only really been into Wu Tang up to now (which is totally fine!) this might be some cool new shit to get you eased into listening to other rap music. Macberg is a class album, purchase appropriate drugs for it.

Yeah, hipster-sample-bait all over but if it didn’t deliver the goods, it wouldn’t still be in my head. Sitting atop this ceremonial elephant of a beat is Venus In Furs by The Velvet Underground. But while the source may stagger around, this iteration struts towards a ring, a prizefighter with purpose. And so to do the rhymes, headbutting all-comers and viciously savaging anyone who doubts their power. No resolution will save you tonight.

Last March, if you shouted at me in the street and I did not see you, there was a good chance I was listening to this. I bet you forgive me now right? Man, I did some loon-ass dancing to this the mornings I got up and decided to drink all day instead of doing thesis-work. This.Shit.Slaps. (This technically came out in 09 I guess, sorry!)

This is E-40’s son. He not only raps on this, but he produced the track. As the son of a famous rapper, his music should be horrific. Instead it is startling cool, unique and expensive-sounding. Droop-E always studies, not just chops out, his samples (witness his incredible Bjork-approved Bjork flip on E-40’s Spend the night ). He doesn’t just take the sound, he takes the elemental energy of the song and makes it do what he wants it to. Putting in a bit for his dad to rap over is touching, especially when it is the hardest, most goon shit possible that no one on earth can spit over like E40. How he makes this bit fit seemlessly into the smooth Sade-powered latin vibe of the rest of his song is like watching a magic trick. This is the level you need to produce at to not to look like you’re riding your Da’s coattails. Class video too.

I also hit up some non-rap music this year. Most of it’s been covered elsewhere by people with beards and panopticonic grasps of the critical zeitgeist. I don’t have one of them. But I have noticed some of the things I like have slipped down the giant cracks people have dug in the earth(presumbably in an attempt to mine for new superlatives to use for their reviews of Ariel Pink or whatever). I thought you’d might like to know what non-rap I’ve been listening to. It’s probably all really obvious stuff, but I still relish the chance to talk about it.

I’ll be honest with you, people-who-chiefly-listen-to-guitar-based-music, the fact this came out in January and is not the biggest thing ever kind of makes you a pile of bullshit. Of course, having embarrassingly earnest punx roots, enjoying music that sounds like it is being held together solely by anger and surface tension and liking Rocking The Fuck Out more than the currently popular Being Pretty Boring About Surfing predisposes me to liking this. In fact, bullshit angry recommendations like this that are more insult than anything else are probably exactly the sort of thing putting people off White Lung. Still though lads, get a move on re:this one.

If you, like me, watch a lot of low budget, shitty movies from the 70s that have no right to still be recorded anywhere, you’ll have noticed a couple of things. One of these things is probably that a lot of these moves feature extended musical scenes with music written to sound like hip young bands of the time but actually ended up sounded like nothing at all. This is exactly what this band sounds like to me, except a real band and pretty cool. I’m not even really sure if this is a recommendation.

If you click here you should get to listen to a post-punk band who have given themselves the idiotically ungoogleable name 1981. This anti-people-hearing-your-tunes-attitude is a real shame cause this rips off great post punk music that kind of got forgotten while people were ripping of the two main types of post punk music people seem to remember (“mutant funk” and “angular guitars”, both terms used solely by inept wanksmen with poor quality of expression…you’ll notice I haven’t supplied any alternative terms.).

This kind of reveals me as a person who reads Wire magazine and regularly enjoys soft drugs.How awful. I have a really tedious personal reason for liking this relating to my own rejection of religion, the gap that lack of faith leaves when you’re raised to be a devout catholic and the joy I find in the occasional cracks in the wall of poor concentration that exists within my head. If I related this however, we’d both get so bored it would be a race to see who could smother the other and then themselves with their jacket first. And we don’t want that. Suffice to say, despite this fully being the pretentious shit you may have dismissed this as, this is pretty great. As is the whole album, of the same name.

You’ll see from the title of the video this came out this time last year but the album only dropped for me in February. This is fucking angry and fucking great and you should have plenty of split lips while listening to this band, walking into the bathroom and accidentally rocking into the towel rack. Almost filled my brutality quotient for this year.

Luckily I still had some space in my heart for evil shit, which Black Breath filled amply. Sure I listened to Harvey Milk, The Melvins disappointing album and the weirdly-produced High On Fire album too, but Black Breath was the purest, illest, hard, face-melting shit around. Finally, a good band from Seattle (Dear Hypothetical and Upset Hotpress Reader: this is a bit of a joke)

Becoming aware of music at a time when everyone was pretending they’d loved Garage Rock forever, and I got to see the Dirtbombs supporting the white stripes when I was 12 after winning tickets for a Dublin castle gig off gigantically-soppy, Irish-radio-fuckboy Tom Dunne. As I stood there, completely bewildered in my Nirvana hoodie, I think I got the love for the best type of shouty guitar men seared into my giant, inadvertently-Danzig-fringed face. Every year I must seek out more garage rock shit, and it never fails to disappointed. In ’10, apparently less-arsed than usual, I stuck with Best Show adjacents and shouty-rock stalwarts Hank IV. Good song though, in fairness.

I don’t have a problem with beautiful music, you shouldn’t either.

Rarely have I been more wrong about anything as my announcement on my briefly-existing and fucking doomed blog that Lonelady was the next big thing. I see you don’t like PJ Harvey as much as I believed you all did and I certainly do (yes, I’ve successfully deprogrammed myself from liking most Nick Cave bullshit but can’t seem to free myself from his female counterpart in black-hair-dye-miserbilism). This was some bouncy jazzy shit, all spare space and tension. It was also, yes, a bit put-on seeming and is pretty forgettable. I should have known when I looked to my metaphorical left on the critical landscape and saw Paul bastard Morley marching forward, maintaining steely eye-contact while menacing her with his flaccid Northern Music Means More agenda-penis and then grimly wanking all the joy from her music. If you noticed how I just mocked Paul Morley with a sentence full of the kind of meaningless rubbish he writes, then well done. If you didn’t, that’s perfectly understandable but please don’t think I am some kind of bullshit warlord that peddles sentences like that unironically. I just make it all about me, which is actually worse. Still, Lonelady eh? She should’ve been a contender.

Phillip Jeck makes music that is emotionally affecting in a way that’s genuinely difficult to explain. Here is some of that for you to be getting on with. It doesn’t sound like it comes from an instrument and it’s not immediately obvious where to put it in your head. It’s good to have some stuff like that.

The Ex are an amazing band, going on longer than you or I have been alive and always sounding like a tank made of a thousand tiny gears barreling unstoppably towards an unimaginable climax. Seeing them live is a genuinely trance-like experience and they really do rip it apart like no one else on earth. Few people structure exciting music as bizarrely as they do, fewer still wear their jazz, folk and african musical influence so proudly while also making music as committedly political or as bloody fun. I’m not sure if Catch My Shoe is out officially yet but it’s all I’ve listened to for the past 2 months. I believe in The Ex, I have since I first heard them off soulseek by accident years ago and I will until they or I stop breathing. (they also all wear semi-co-ordinated polo shirts and three quarter lengths, like a weird rap crew which is pretty ace)

And lastly, my favourite band on planet earth released two Eps this year. I enjoyed them more than any other music I heard. This is probably why Nomeansno are my favourite band. If you saw them play the Button Factory, I was front row centre, leaning over the barrier and barking every word to literally every song. Because every time I listen to them, I am reminded someone gets it. And not even some weird, stalker “this music is ME, mahhhn” bullshit that Doors fans say( although I do try to live by the messages in their songs and Rob invents some of the best weirdo characters ever). I mean Nomeansno get the mix of hooks, dissonance, impossibly funky shit, misery, catharsis, amazing rhythmic bounciness and fuck-off vocals better than any group I’ve ever heard. They make it happen every time, what they put out this year (their 33rd as a band) was no different.

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One response to “The Year. Interlude – Straight Gangsterism

  1. this is fucking serious

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