Recommended: Que – The 6th Man

Que - Sixth (Truants)

The NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award is given to the player who has been the most important over the course of the season, while not being part of the starting lineup.  They usually move to another team to be the main piece, “a smartass pawn/James Harden”, and can then potentially compete for MVP. During an interview in October, shortly after his 2-Chainz featured single, Que says after great deliberation that he feels he hasn’t made it, before he concisely settles it with ‘Made what?’.

The 6th Man is Que’s third mixtape post “OG Bobby Johnson”, following the 2014 Who Is Que EP which was released on Atlantic. He sets the tone of the mixtape early, his voice strained through a megaphone-like filter which he continues to utilise intermittently throughout. The intro track also has a simple 8 bar loop that never fails to momentarily halt me from typing; as to only mime the melody a couple inches over the trackpad. ‘First time picked up a mic was in 2011, when I got kicked outta school hoopin‘’. He hasn’t been around for long, relatively speaking, and plays around with a few different flows from the animated, OZ conjured “Games” to a Gucci drawl on the closer “Type of Party”. However, it’s the DJ Mustard clone “Emotions” that ends up being the standout track. ‘Playin’ with my money is like playin’ with my emotions, I just want them dollar signs money bag emoji’ is perfect, and Que may have wanted to save it for the inevitable LP, if not for his proven record in hook writing. He continues this on The 6th Man, and it’s this skill that fills us with promise for the upcoming year, perhaps in the hope of more varied features. It’s clear Que is here to move past his earlier hits as soon as possible, even if social media is doing him no favours

Que’s The Sixth Man Mixtape is out now on DatPiff.

Words by Akash Chohan, 31 March 2015. Tags: | Leave a comment

Premiere: Simic – Dust


Irish label Major Problems are only on their fourth release, but they’ve already shown a breadth of ideas and a willingness to flirt with a range of styles across the house and techno spectrum. Following two releases from the Levon Vincent-approved Terriers and the shadowy Compassion Crew, the label eases gradually into 2015 with a 12″ from Seattle-based Simic. The mood is expansive, as each track captures a thrilling, fast-paced groove, while maintaining a dream-like atmosphere — a delicate balance, yet rendered exquisitely. That mood is particularly evident in “Dust”, which we have the privilege of sharing with you here exclusively, ahead of its release on April 6.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 26 March 2015. Leave a comment

Recommended: Ondness – Them Corja


If -ness denotes the quality, state or character of an abstract noun, then what is ond? An abstract abstraction, perhaps. An empty signifier, signifying nothing, on to which the reader can project whatever they so choose. Confounding meaning further is the title of the latest release from Bruno Silva’s ever-busy Ondness project, Them Corja, on Barcelona’s Paralaxe Editions. Corja is the Portuguese for gang, and this bilingual title seems bereft of specificity, in a netherworld between meaning and obfuscation.

“Rod Serling’s Predator”, named after the famed Twilight Zone writer (and perhaps a nod to Silva’s Where To Now? release A Poor Man’s Twilight Zone), feels like a bevy of digital instruments tuning up, an imagined orchestra grinding and whirring into place, its disparate elements dancing about in the mix like a computerised circus. In later moments a wavy, Geogaddi-esque synth line appears amidst the gentle clamour, hinting at melody yet never keen to settle in any particular groove. The beginning of “Ghost Traffic” feels all wrong, as if the headphone jack hasn’t fully been plugged into its socket. A muffled, submerged cash register clanks back and forth setting a tone of confusion and pointless repetition. Fittingly, ghostly bass kicks and incessant drones add to this uncertainty, rhythm again foregone in favour of pause and refrain. Deep air-raid sirens and far-off heraldry lend pomp and anxiety, a kind of dank alarum suggesting imminent unrest. Thrilling, if muffled rhythms finally appear on ‘Skaters’, accompanied by a theme that feels playfully carnival-esque, a strange mish-mash that is utterly in keeping with this unpredictably arranged release. “Evan Parker Shakira” flirts with straight-up drum patterns at the death, yet chops up and echoes their inclusion, samples deftly placed in the mix rather than appearing organically. While these tracks and this release feel whole in their construction, this is a simple manouevre that reminds us of the nature of their assembly. Swirling, delayed winds surround us, melodies hover, bass murmurs, leading us to a jarring conclusion.

Where Silva’s Absolute Elsewhere for videogamemusic featured all the elements above, it did so in a more fragmented fashion, each track focusing on a single point, denying cohesion in favour of the disparate. Them Corja‘s success comes from how complementary these elements are together, the CMYK to Absolute Elsewhere‘s reductive RGB. Simply put, this is the most engaging and intriguing release from Ondness since the beautiful Pelas Margens (The Banks) on the German Noorden label.

Ondness – Them Corja is out now on Paralaxe Editions. Buy here.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 23 March 2015. Leave a comment

Interview: Suicideyear


Since his debut release Japan back in 2012, James Prudhomme alias Suicideyear has come a long way. Japan was a self-released project that started as a vivid dream he had  in the period where he quit smoking weed in his bedroom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It soon circulated the internet and eventually caught the ear of Swedish internet sensation and ‘Sad Boy’ Yung Lean Doer, who proceeded to use the instrumental “CCCXXV” for Hurt – the first single off his album Unknown Death 2002 – and now, three years later, it sees a physical release via Oneohtrix Point Never’s Software label. A lengthy journey – but in between its inception and re-release he’s provided beats for the current crop of rap outsiders who have taken centre stage such as OG Maco & Rome Fortune and Antwon, on top of releasing another LP Remembrance. Whilst his music has been described as melancholic, it would seem he has nothing to be sad about. When asked about the 3 year journey he said it’s real cool to be able to hold a physical copy of it. “It was never just an internet  thing for me, that was just the medium that worked best for me”.

It’s not just his sound that’s grown over the years. His distinct style surprisingly took him to the legendary Berghain and most recently for a show at go-to London venue Birthday’s – which has seen the likes of Yung Lean and Corbin sell out and solidify their careers there. More importantly, he was able  to to his first proper Nando’s experience, one which he describes as beautiful. On the topic of London, grime naturally came up in the conversation as well. “The first time I listened to grime, the accent was crazy – it wasnt anything to ostracise me from it. Coming from the South, a lot of rap music is really different from most of American rap music but now it’s become the standard. It was really cool to see the energy. I feel a lot of people fuck with grime and grime producers more so than some artists because of the energy in the music.” Undoubtedly, the grime scene is in a good place due to its energy, but he says the same can’t be said for the music scene in his hometown. “In Baton Rouge, it’s a crabs in a bucket mentality, there’s no such thing as camaraderie. I have some friends that I make music with, it’s just me and three friends who fuck around and make music.” 

That same sense of isolation seems to be a defining factor in the sound that he’s pioneered, as prior to playing venues like Berghain, Prudhomme mentions that he had never even been to a live show! “During the making of Japan, I’d never been to any shows – one of the first  I went to was a Ryan Hemsworth show in New Orleans and it changed my whole perspective on music. I’d never seen music  live before so it was really crazy to see it – music that i was kind of in the realm of – as opposed to seeing some rock band.”

Seeing your first live show is a milestone in the life on any young person, let alone a producer and the experience has clearly has a deep impact on his forthcoming material : “I really got into dance music over the last two or three years – I’d never listened to dance music before. I grew up on rap and stuff and I’d never given dance music a chance till early 2013. I like a lot of house and a lot of uk shit. I really like Palace (UTTU), he’s one of my favourite artists. In dance music, there’s a lot of room to do a lot of things. It’s a vibe thing.” He previously hinted at more club oriented styles on his Bromance records release and as the many different styles of music birthed in both the USA and UK continue to reach new ears in distant lands, we’ll undoubtedly enjoy the constant revelations of new and interesting interpretations of this ‘vibe’ he’s found.  With grime and more club music reaching Japan, Australia and beyond we’ve enjoyed refreshing and inspiring takes on the music so it was even more exciting when he revealed that he was hanging out with London producer Dark0. When you’ve been so closely associated with an artist like Yung Lean, it can be hard to stand out in your right but and it’s clear he recognises this. “The sad boy thing was kind of ridiculous. They’ve definitely proved themselves. From where we’ve come with our song to now, they’ve transcend just being a meme. I’m all for things that sound good, but when it comes to making stuff  I like to have a point with it. I usually use things that a harder to talk about because it’s easier to make a song about it than talk about it. Vulnerability is a concept I like to use a lot – I like to hear vulnerability in music. I hear it a lot in Visionist’s music – it sounds like pain.”

So if it wasn’t clear before, Suicideyear has a message. “It was a really big project to me when I first made it and it still is. I want people to look at it as punk project not a rap project, like some Jay Reatard,  angsty kick a fan in the face, nosebleed punk! …If that were a genre.”

Japan is out now on Software records as a 12″ LP and digitally.

Words by Koyejo Oloko, 19 March 2015. Leave a comment

Chronicles: Ratking – 700-Fill


Livening the discourse surrounding the health of New York hip-hop in recent years (and concurrently providing somewhat of a chew toy for salty genre purists),  Ratking made their full-length debut a year ago on the XL offshoot Hot Charity. The tripartite of Wiki, Hak, and producer Sporting Life have sidestepped label mediation however, for a new surprise 9-track release entitled 700-Fill, the group’s first offering since the album. The release is assembled as a BitTorrent Bundle; a newly minted media format from the file sharing service that allows the downloading of premium content unlocked by email subscription. Perusing the finished folder kind of felt like gazing at a popped cyber trunk, where you also had the option of copping the instrumental disk and got the drop on forthcoming merch. Here might be where an ignorant “industry vs. in-the-streets” dichotomy could be discussed (and Ratking’s place within it), but because they were willing to drop an album’s worth of album-ready material for free, they do seem grounded and in touch with their fan base despite steep success. As an act touted as conjuring the unvarnished spirit of grimey New York without a gimmicky entanglement with boom bap but instead with a novel chutzpah, this FREE-P sounds familiar.

There are instances of novelty for the group throughout the EP with respect to both sides of the board. Hak returns to form, abstracting his thoughts high above street level with exalted prose when he’s not gracing tracks with a impressive, albeit vulnerable, whispering singing voice (“Eternal Reveal” houses both). Meanwhile, Wiki spits decidedly more forthright compared to his album verses. His wit is still steady: in one head-shaking instance he makes innuendo of the popular half-and-half drink on the bridge of “Arnold Palmer”—“yeah I’m mixed bitch sip that iced tea and lemonade”. At the same time, they still showcase their technical ability through their knack for parlaying one bar into the next, finishing phrases uninterrupted by beat measures and iron-cold imagery. “At the laundry mat/ tryna clean my white t’s, my undies and my Yankees cap/ I ain’t make it back, I made it to the coldest cell that I’ve ever felt”, Hak remembers dead-eyed on hustle anthem opener “American Gods”, which features World’s Fair spitter Remy Banks. Though the odd cop diss seems inevitable from disenchanted New Yorkers, 700-Fill contains less commentary on the sociology of the city. It’s no doubt Wiki’s gnarling vocal timbre that predominates the Ratking sound remembers the angst-laden weariness of So It Goes, but decidedly that’s not what pervades the new project. “Sporting Life” continues to glue things together with tightly tuned drums, and, on the EP, we get a taste of the looser side of his oeuvre (“Eternal Reveal”, “Sticky Trap”) as well as some granular tech-inflected production (“Steep Tech”). The producer’s still at his best when in the vein of Heatmakerz, making “Bethel” cry with manipulated soul and a piercing backdrop mingling over a swung drum program. In some ways, 700-Fill is presented as an exposé of the city, more particularly about loathing a bitter North East winter and, something very immediate, the role (thematic) buff down jackets play. We learn from Ratking that there’s a direct relationship between the amount of feathers on your back and survival.

700-Fill was released March 4 (accumulating over 350k downloads in its first two days available) . Subscribe with your email to download the entire bundle via BitTorrent.

Words by Michael Scala, 18 March 2015. Tags: | Leave a comment

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