Pick 'Em Up: Blastah, Imaabs & Sugar Shane

Blastah- Give It Up To Me

I constantly have my ears open for unique productions of club music and "Give It Up To Me" grabbed my attention immediately.  Located in Lisbon, Portugal, Blastah seems to have created his own personal blend of Baltimore and Jersey club in this track.  A classic club beat drives the track while blasting gun shots, bed squeaks, and chopped up vocals accentuate its every unique twist and turn.  "Give It Up To Me" has a comforting way of feeling very familiar while feeling so brand new and rejuvenating all at the same time.

Imaabs- Grafito

"Grafito" is a whole different monster here.  It feels very dark and industrial as an ominous whirring and sounds of "machinery" add intriguing textures to the production.  Imaabs, of Santiago, Chile, seems to thrive in mystery and darkness here as he blends warehouse techno with the hyperactive stylings of Jersey club music.  Techno is usually pretty hit-or-miss for me but I'm so impressed with the way Imaabs expertly integrates that signature bass you'll only hear in Jersey.  If you're feelin' this style, you can hear more on Trax Couture World Series Vol. 2.

Sugar Shane- Kill That Bitch (Promnite Remix)

Sugar Shane's "Kill Da Bitch" in its original form is already a certified club banger, but Promnite's remix elevated the track to critical mass.  If Sugar Shane's stinkeye and super sass in "Kill Da Bitch" wasn't enough of a beatdown, New York-based producer Promnite kicked the joint into overdrive.  "Kill The Bitch" takes on a future club sound at light speed with hints of vogue, heart-pounding bass, and a pitched-down chant that urges you to "go for the kill".

October Faves: B L A C K I E, Cities Aviv, Danny Brown + More


It took me a while to let this dude fully in—probably because I was fanning out too hard on Death Grips for a while. But nonetheless, Houston's B L A C K I E has a contagious agro-approach to his brand of noise rap. When the tape's intro —"Girl In The Front"—hits, the intensity of his industrial production, the "listen up" assertion of speech and the "no bullshit" kind of empowerment doesn't dip throughout the entire project. He's especially on fire on two tracks, " B L A C K I E...is a wasteland" and "Revolutionary Party Vol.2 (Sex, Drugs & Illegal Activity)". The latter is a constant chant of "No time for fear" woven through by more-conventional spitting than B L A C K I E usually delivers over harsh synths. "B L A C K I E...is a wasteland" is the tape's hardest-hitting track; it's a big confessional "Fuck the world" coming at everything fraudulent. As the beat halts for an a cappella, he says, "I get pissed and piss on critics that get rich pitching bullshit with false lyrics/ Leave a lipstick on the tip of dicks of fraudulent major label dipshits with no spirits". It ends with a "LOVE MYSELF, I WANNA HATE THE WORLD." chant. Yeah, it's giving crazy energy. Really, ONLY 4 THE REAL is a firm, "This is how punk-rap is done". Go listen.

2. Cities Aviv- URL IRL

In the last quarter of 2012, Cities Aviv released one of the better projects of the year, on the low, with Black Pleasure. I still have yet to put that record on the back-burner but at the end of September (of this year) he dropped the first single from his Come To Life LP, "URL IRL"—a track that he produced which takes familiar sampling of soul/disco but instead of flipping that into rappity rap, he loops the sample, speeds shit up and makes rap that is actually danceable. To put it plainly, the song is fucking nuts. In what he describes as being a meeting between the digital world and physical being, "URL IRL" is a persuasion to wake up and realize what's really going on.

3. Kelela- CUT 4 ME

I'm just really happy that R&B is back. And no I don't mean back like "the good ole days". There are enough good artists in the genre now putting out quality material to have substantial discourse on the topic, which wasn't the case less than five years ago. We're really on a different wave in the 2010's—even if the better chunk of R&B artists are channeling 90's sexy, chill swag of Aaliyah, Total and R. Kelly. Truth is, they can't duplicate that era, even if that's what may be the motivation for some. Kelela did a great job with her debut album, CUT 4 ME, at exposing her influences all while fitting into a gap that wasn't occupied. Mostly all of her labelmates on Fade To Mind are DJ's and producers that specialize in meshing sounds from all genres and there's no difference in CUT 4 ME, except that Kelela is soulfully crooning over those sounds. "Enemy" sounds like it belongs in a video game or should be played at a rave, sans vocals, but somehow she made a way for it all to fit with fluidity. Here's to more weird R&B! This shit is so good.

4. Danny Brown- Old

What made XXX so good was the insinuation of carelessness throughout the album. At one second, DB was facing blunts and right after that he was giving a guide to how fucked up Detroit is and not far after, he was telling you he wouldn't conform to making radio songs. He did all of this while snorting Adderall. The seesaw effect was incredible; you didn't know what was gonna happen next, which made perfect sense for how his music sounded and how he looked. Old was an uncomfortable shift in pace. This time around (to both show people he could still rap the way he did before Fools Gold and to say "Fuck you, I did it" to those same people) he split his character in two. Neither side is bad; Danny Brown can rap his ass off and his delivery is entertaining enough to keep you engaged, but that becomes more difficult when he's forcing you to absorb only half of what makes him great at a time. The introspective, thoughtful Side A is a good insight into the root of his drug problems but it gets boring when you have to hear ten straight tracks of only that. Same with the wilder, "new" DB on Side B. We all like to drop Mollie and get high but bashing your head on a wall for nine tracks in a row after telling us how doing this shit is ruining your life and killing you, makes me uncomfortble as a listener and quite bored. Maybe that's the point? Maybe Danny is saying fuck everybody. But where will he go from here? My faves are "Torture", "Dubstep", "Clean Up" and "Smokin' and Drinkin'".


I'm not fully proud of liking this song (LOL). Maybe because this dude's name is really PARTYNEXTDOOR and that he's basically Drake's attempt to have his own version of The Weekend signed to OVO, even if that version is a super poor-man's version. Going back to 90's-inspired R&B, this guy is all about reaching for that aesthetic, while still being heavily reliant on autotuning his voice (very now). He's your average Canadian singer that raps/rapper that sings (my assessment of "average" is solely based on The Weekend and Drake) about strippers, dudes who aren't cool as him and all that other passive-agressive jerk talk. But it sounds so good! I don't get it. My iTunes says I've played this song 128 times already and it just came out last week...WTF! Am I bugging?


Wyo Joins Philly's Street Culture & Young Bul Rap w/ Asleep At The Wheel

Wyo is a rapper you could easily skip by but once you realize you did, you'll be pissed at yourself. After listening to a shit-load of Asaad tapes, he became that random guest rapper that was added incentive to even listen to Saudi. Best thing about Wyo is his ability to be Philly as a whole--like covering all grounds that any rap listener would care about: He's not completely get stoned, eat Chinese food on the couch and play Xbox as Grande Marshall nor is he the super shit-talking street rapper that Meek has become, and he's definitely not as all over the place as Asaad. He has throwback Philly grit of a Beans or Freeway that none of those aforementioned new guys can seem to capture with any authenticity yet he still manages to be as compelling and experimental sonically as new wave rap continues to move. When I talked to him on Labor Day he attributed his assortment of styles to being a real person and not spending too much time in the studio; he'd rather spend his time living life so when he finally does get into the studio, he can flow with as much ease as possible. Asleep At The Wheel, the EP he released last week is a mash-up of styles and Wyo is sounding more polished than ever.

From the jump, he does the classic mixtape thing by hopping on Dom Kennedy's "My Type Of Party" beat for "Block Party". It's usually bad news to hop on a beat that's neither a classic hip-hop staple or a currently hot one but somehow for a split second before realizing, "Oh. this is that Dom beat", Wyo has you thinking that this is all original material—which is either a testament to how good he raps on this or how less I've cared for Dom's music these past two years.From there, Asleep At The Wheel is really just rappity rap at its best and nothing else, which is completely fine here. His endless wind is Meek-like on tracks like "Idol Talk (Kill Your Idols)" where he barely takes a breath. The wordplay is on point too: "Golden Era flow, they should put me on vinyl/ This kid need riches, you be bitchy like Nicole, I get bitches like Lionel/ Lions in the jungle get tamed by the bull/ Now the killer lines open got some strings to get pulled". He's Grande-like on the dual track (Something Asaad typically does) "Release a Wy/ Fuqq On Top Of The Money" as he spits for 7-plus minutes over stoner-centric cruise production. He's at his most experimental on "That's What You Get"; the production could easily go to some teenybopper kid but he takes it and goes harder than he does on the rest of the project.

Most of this EP is Wyo taking time out to show how many flows he can properly execute and he accomplishes each try. Getting back to his real-person-ism, taking jabs at phony rappers and ones that can't meet the mark talent-wise is also a big theme here too. Wyo keeps alive something that weirdly gets overlooked in internet rap right now, the ability to rap really well. Every track is a lyrical exercise, which alone is entertaining. That's what makes Chance The Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt and Underachievers all worth listening to right now...they can actually fucking rap. In that same conversation he told me that Asleep On The Wheel, more than anything, translates to him being on autopilot with rap; he's spent so much time in studios sharpening his technical skill, that he sometimes doesn't notice what he's doing, which is why he can fit a package of flows into one song. Since he has that part covered, concepts and ideas is what he has to focus on now. The delivery is there. This EP proves that.

Stream & Download Asleep At The Wheel HERE