Saturday, February 28, 2015

America's #1 Rap-Singer, Action Bronson Super-slam Dunks on Godzilla & Assorted Madness in "Actin' Crazy" Video (VICE Records)

"Kanye, Mark Ronson, Lana del Rey, and Kid Cudi collaborator and hit-making super-producer Emile Haynie has finally unleashed his debut "solo" album, We Fall, after nearly 24 years in the music industry..." is roughly how my Emile Haynie "Falling Apart," his creation which features vocal assistance from Brian Wilson and Miike Snow frontman Andrew Wyatt, piece would have likely started, until I suddenly hit a brick wall with its overall direction. I'm sure Haynie's star-studded album is great, but I just simply lost interest in writing about it; although, maybe a We Fall-centric piece will materialize itself and grace the pages of The Witzard in the not-so-distant future. Enter: a typically slow, bone-chillingly cold Friday afternoon, at which my attention was forthwith reverted towards America's self-proclaimed #1 Rap-Singer, Action Bronson's latest Noah "40" Shebib-produced single, "Actin' Crazy." Its official VICE Records-sanctioned video treatment plays out somewhat like an MTV making-the-video look at a movie set or in this case, Bronson's relatively low-budget green screen-aided "Actin' Crazy" video set.

"What a weird and wild world he's conjured up for himself, laying somewhere between Dr. Evil's mountain-top volcano [lair] and a game of NBA Jam," as okayplayer fittingly describes it. Action Bronson can be seen sailing through outer-space in a slim-fit rocketship, rowing what appears to be some sort of feathered/snake-like viking vessel, piloting a laser-mounted shark (à la his "Actin' Crazy" single cover), slam dunking a miles-high shot on Godzilla, and landing a staggering 10-10-10-rated cliff split, all the while, being lint rolled by two beautiful women between takes. It's truly the perfect zonked-out end to a record headline-setting week; wherein Bronson unleashed a Boogie Nights-referencing MR. WONDERFUL album trailer co-starring producer buddy Party Supplies and Danny "Little Pete" Tamberelli of The Adventures of Pete & Pete fame, quietly debuting Oh No-produced album track "Only In America," and unofficially announcing a currently untitled cartoon show, as well as season #2 of F*ck, That's Delicious coming to cable TV in the near future. I would expect the latest webisode of FTD, which is rumored to feature Chef Mario Batali, to premier at some point ahead of MR. WONDERFUL's soon forthcoming March 23-24th release date.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ben Lee & Squeak E. Clean Recruit Zooey Deschanel, Ben Folds, Sean Lennon & more for "A MIXTAPE FROM BEN LEE" (name-your-pri¢e)

"This album began as an exploration of songwriting. I decided to write songs for different voices, and invite these singers to perform them. My dear friend Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean) offered to produced the record I had conceptualized, and we began working on the collaboration in earnest in 1998," Ben Lee recently wrote in a long-form message on his newly-launched Bandcamp page. A MIXTAPE FROM BEN LEE is more of a "mixtape" in the loose sense of the term; leaning more towards the direction of a 90's radio-to-cassette mix(ed)tape, rather than a modern-day Hip-Hop loosies promotional collection. Spiegel self-describes the 11-track project as "the first album that [he] ever produced over 10 years ago," which boasts vocal appearances from Zooey Deschanel, Empire of The Sun frontman Luke Steele, former The Bens bandmate Ben Folds, Sean Lennon, Azure Ray, The Cardigans songstress Nina Persson, and Gelbison, amongst a wide-spanning array of talented friends and performers.

"I should have kept better notes during the sessions, but I know you can hear Eric Gardner, James Valentine, Rusty Logsdon, and Alfredo Ortiz amongst many others [throughout the mixtape]," Ben Lee half-jokingly notes. It would seem as though Ben Lee & Squeak E. Clean continued to diligently work on A MIXTAPE FROM BEN LEE for the next 6-7 years (until about 2005), "but [when] life moved [Lee] in other directions and distractions," its progress was temporarily shelved and put on hold; although with Lee's recent move to the big leagues, Warner Bros. Records, it would appear that his label execs helped resurrect their A MIXTAPE FROM BEN LEE sessions to coincide with his forthcoming album, Love Is The Great Rebellion. Ahead of its premier track, "Big Love," expected to be released as a Record Store Day single on April 18th, A MIXTAPE FROM BEN LEE is currently available at on a name-your-price basis with all proceeds accrued going to The Q'ero Project, a foundation "which supports the basic needs and development of The Q'ero people of Peru."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Put Your Pants Back On: Stones Throw's Resident Recluse, James Pants Re-emerges with "Artificial Lover" (Savage)

"I just emailed [Peanut Butter Wolf]: "Would you like to go record shopping?" And I couldn't believe it, but he wrote back and said: "Sure." So, his show [in Austin] happened to be the night of my prom, so I took my date to his show, her name was Cindy Huckabee. I took her to the show and I met Wolf and was still wearing my tux and we just kind of hung out for the next few days," James Pants lamented to Red Bull Music Academy concerning his first chance meeting with Stones Throw label-head, Peanut Butter Wolf. Pants' debut album, Welcome (2008), which garnered famous fans such as Tyler, The Creator, Gary Wilson, and Mayer Hawthorne, more or less helped spearhead what I'd loosely refer to as Stones Throw's post-Jaylib "outsider artists" movement. James Pants' first album in four years, Savage, was reportedly "inspired by Martin Denny flourishes, royalty-free breakbeats, Gary Wilson, and Hamburg's infamous Golden Pudel Club" and was solely recorded using MIDI and Yamaha Porta-sound PSS-480 equipment and compiled as an indirect homage to The Residents' Commercial Album; "a 14-track record made of sonic vignettes that sounds as good on a stereo set-up in the Amazonian jungle as it does coming through laptop speakers" (as I'm assuming Savage sounds, in comparison).

Along with the album's press release announcement, Stones Throw additionally "leaked" Savage track "Artificial Lover," which sounds vaguely reminiscent of Pants' "Left-field, Abstract, Electro, Disco"-classified debut, Welcome. While compiling nearly 100 tracks for possible inclusion on the album over the past four years, James Pants has become something of a home-grown web-master, in his own right... sporadically uploading his unfinished creations onto; "Instead of laboring months over one song, I like to move quickly onto the next," Pants simply explained. Ahead of Savage's forthcoming April 14-15th release, Stones Throw recently uploaded a 6-track "best of" James Pants collection to their Soundcloud page, conveniently compiling a mini-playlist culled from Rhythm Trax Vol. 1, Seven Seals, New Tropical EP, James Pants, and now, Savage. Roughly nine months ago, James Pants "paid a visit to the Red Light Radio studio for [the above] Converse Red Light Session and wowed everyone with his performance of the excellent new track "Artificial Lover," which at the time, wasn't attached to any sort of formal album release.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

9/11 & Heartbreak: Heems & Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange - "Home" (Megaforce/Greedhead Records)

"When Dev [Hynes] was 'Lightspeed Champion', he had a little-known rap MySpace called 'Ni**a Bullshit' (2010). This was when we first started talking about a collaboration," rapper Himanshu Suri (professionally known as Heems) recently revealed to Rolling Stone concerning his latest collaboration with singer-songwriter/producer, Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange. "I wrote some of the lyrics in college at Wesleyan, some before Das Racist in Bushwick, and most of it in my engineer Daniel Lynas' old studio with Dev [Hynes] in Dumbo," Heems continued. "Home" was adequately described by one anonymous writer as "Dev provides fluttering guitar-work while Heems opens his chest cavity, removes his still-aching heart, [and] drops it on the floor in front of you;" the subject matter throughout Heems' forthcoming major label "debut" EAT PRAY THUG has been self-described as "much more personal than [Himanshu Suri's] previous work, Nehru Jackets and WILD WATER KINGDOM (2012).

The majority of EAT PRAY THUG's contained material was written and recorded in-between Bombay and Brooklyn during Heems' self-imposed exile from around 2012-14. Suri's long-rumored commercial "debut" will finally see a world-wide release this upcoming March 9-10th on Megaforce/Greedhead Records and will reportedly feature appearances from the likes of Hynes, Rafiq Bhatia, Gordon Voidwell, Harry Fraud, and Boody B. Along with "Home," Heems decided to let loose yet another, albeit non-album, track titled "Tell Me a Poem," which he says fully materialized "in 30 minutes after a show in Bangalore." It appears as though the record execs at Megaforce Records weren't too receptive to the original mix of the Burning Deck-produced track and essentially, "felt like it was filler" material; Rolling Stone additionally premiered a new secondary mix of "Tell Me a Poem" late Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Action Bronson & The Alchemist Recruit Philly-based Guitarist Curt Chambers for "Terry" (MR. WONDERFUL pre-order)

Just about one month ahead of his VICE Records "debut" MR. WONDERFUL, Action Bronson has unleashed a fourth track from the album; "'TERRY" PRODUCED BY @Alchemist, [PtHILLY'S OWN] CURT CHAMBERS ON GUITAR, @ChauncySherod WITH THE SOUL AT THE END = PERFECTION." It's the latest pre-release single VICE has strategically "leaked" from MR. WONDERFUL, which was preceded by "Easy Rider," Party Supplies duet "A Light In The Addict," and "Actin' Crazy," as well as non-album track, "Big League Chew." "Terry" reunites Action Bronson with his Rare Chandeliers (2012) producer buddy, The Alchemist, who hand-crafted a "jazzy, diminished chord walk with a prime boom-bap shuffle" as okayplayer poetically puts it. "Life's ironic and it's simple / Smoke good, f*ck, eat, drink, / Drive a nice car, wear all green mink," which has been forever embodied on "Terry"'s vibrant Freako Rico-designed single artwork (along with the rest of the album's packaging).

"The whole album is a stand-out. I don't care about individual songs, I'm trying to make a complete, classic project," Action Bronson previously lamented to British publication NME early last summer. "This is just rap. I'm not trying to make people think I'm some sort of scientific wizard or inspirational poet. F*ck that! It's just happy, funny, rugged, rough rap." While @ActionBronson promises, "OF COURSE, THERE WILL BE VINYL, CD, AND CASSETTE. POSTERS OF ALL ARTWORK READY-TO-HANG. ALL KINDS OF SH*T," MR. WONDERFUL is currently only available for iTunes pre-order; but to sweeten the already plentiful $8.99 deal a little more, they've decided to throw in instant downloads of "Terry," "Actin' Crazy," and "Easy Rider" upon pre-order(s). Bronson's self-descriptive MR. WONDERFUL will become available world-wide this upcoming March 23-24th by way of VICE/Atlantic Records.

Monday, February 16, 2015

SNL 40 & Adidas Present: Kanye, Sia & Vic Mensa - "Wolves" (dj-windows98 mash-up)

Not only did he appear within a self-satirical SNL 40 Wayne's World sketch dealing with last weekend's Album of The Year winner Beck's near GRAMMY's acceptance speech-shattering events, Kanye additionally performed an emotional three-song medley towards the end of last night's 40th anniversary primetime special; Kanye appeared on stage, laying sprawled out across the stage floor under a dimly lit/low-hanging ceiling set-up performing "Jesus Walks" into a microphone dangling above his head. West slowly arose for the second segment of his medley — a fragmented chunk of his recent genre-blending collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney, "Only One" (suspiciously sans McCartney). For the third and final portion of his SNL 40 performance, Kanye was joined on stage by former Kids These Days emcee Vic Mensa and mysterious "Chandelier" songstress and in-demand producer, Sia for a dark, brooding animalistic performance of "Wolves."

The Cashmere Cat & Sinjin Hawke-produced track was previously debuted at an Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost fashion show late last week in New York and it's supposedly "TRACK #1 ON KANYE WEST'S NEW ALBUM;" the keen-eyed fashion journalists at Complex seem to have noticed that the minimalistic, tattered outfits worn by both West and Mensa appear to be from Kanye's forthcoming Adidas collection. It would appear as though "Wolves," along with "Only One" and "FourFiveSeconds," will likely be featured within Kanye's long-rumored and seemingly still untitled Born In The USA-magnitude Yeezus follow-up, which may or may not end up being co-produced by Paul McCartney. While at press time, G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam have yet to issue any form of official "Wolves" audio, dj-windows98 aka Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler has released a surprisingly well-made Kanye/Beck mash-up dubbed, "Jesus Walks, Loser," which seems wil'ly appropriate considering recent events (ha — this indeed, is great!)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mark Ronson Recruits America's #1 Rap-Singer, Action Bronson for "Uptown Funk" Remix (Columbia Records)

"WOOOOOOOOO, "UPTOWN FUNK" REMIX BLASTIN' OFF RIGHT NOW ON @HOT97 [WITH] MY BROTHER @MarkRonson," @ActionBronson exuberantly Tweeted Thursday morning, not long after his Freako Rico-designed, Bloodsport-inspired MR. WONDERFUL cover artwork made its debuted across The Internet. "Uptown Funk" is quite arguably the most instantly recognizable track culled from Ronson's New Age Soul-Funk chart-topping "solo" album, Uptown Special; in recent weeks, it's bombarded daytime/late night TV, countless movie trailers, numerous commercials, and radio waves nation-wide. Mark Ronson painstakingly decided to cut out "Uptown Funk"'s lush extended intro, which okayplayer reports took some eight hours to create, to properly retro-fit Action Bronson's newly-appended replacement verse.

While Ronson, Bronson, and Bruno Mars' genre-blending collaboration may seem like a head-scratcher to the average listener, it should make perfect sense to long-time Bronson supporters, like myself; a couple years before Blue Chips, Party Supplies boldly crafted a handful of off-kilter tracks wherein Action Bronson effortlessly managed to rap over Justin Bieber and Peter Bjorn & John-centric beats!!! Bronson weaves a semi-kosher rhyme about "pillow fights with Dominican mothers" atop a few newly-added scratches, which Tom Breihan somehow managed to trace back to Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz' 1998 East Coast Hip-Hop regional smash, "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)." Although in any case, "Uptown Funk" (Remix) just might be a little taste of what Action Bronson & Mark Ronson have cooked up together for their rumored Billy Joel-sampling MR. WONDERFUL track, which is set to arrive world-wide on March 24th. And if you've been living under a rock for the past month or so, Mark Ronson's flawless Soul-Funk-drenched "album of the year" contended, Uptown Special is now available for your listening pleasure.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stones Throw Music Library, Vol. 3: Guilty Simpson & Oh No - "Ghettodes" CD-R (Now-Again)

THE SIMPSON TAPE is actually not Guilty Simpson & Oh No's first collaborative project, contrary to popular belief; "This past year [2010], around the same time Madlib was creating his remix of Guilty Simpson's Ode to The Ghetto for his Madlib Medicine Show #1 release, we had Oh No remix the tracks as well, using samples from the Now-Again catalog. Oh No's collection, Ghettodes is not meant as as 'album', but you put [all] 14 tracks together, and you might as well call it that." Stones Throw quietly "leaked" a number of Ghettodes tracks out to savvy crate-diggers between 2008-10 including The Whitefield Brothers-sampling "American Nightmare," "Piglets," "Futuristic," "What to Do," "Y'all Scared," "Dreads," and "Killer." Just the other day, while I was perusing through Now-Again/Stones Throw's Discogs label pages, I stumbled upon "Stones Throw Music Library, Vol. 3: Ghettodes," which then led me to Stones Throw's somehow still working 5-year-old download link.

It's really a shame that the 14-track (non-)collection was never properly released "to the masses" because Oh No's Soulfully-accented beats really compliment Guilty Simpson's grizzly hard as nails rhyme schemes, which "show Detroit-based Simpson in a new - and of course, still grimy - light." Guilty Simpson & Oh No's working relationship has seemingly continued to flourish over the years; the rapper-producer team reportedly recorded a suspiciously shelved remix of Madlib and Simpson's OJ Simpson LP, which only yielded "Ultimate Athletes" (New Heights Remix), and their limited edition 5-track THE SIMPSON TAPE EP concocted for last year's second annual Cassette Store Day. Stones Throw further alluded to the fact that there's reportedly a Guilty Simpson x Quakers (aka: Geoff Barrow) full-length currently in-the-works, slated for a 2015 release, upon the cassette tape's roll-out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, ?uestlove, Herbie Hancock & Adam Blackstone - "Thinking Out Loud" (GRAMMY's Super-group)

Aside from a series of pretty lackluster mismatched performances and Kanye's attempted hi-jacking of Album of The Year winner Beck's spotlight, the only legitimate stroke of "real artistry" at this year's GRAMMY Awards came from Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Herbie Hancock, ?uestlove, and legendary bassist Adam Blackstone. Sheeran's GRAMMY-assembled super-group performed a spirited live rendition of his latest x single, "Thinking Out Loud;" making best use of recent Late Late Show hosts guitar playing-talents, The Roots drummer/bandleader's "chops," and the classically-trained Jazz pianist's gentle stroke of the ivory keys. It seems as though Ed Sheeran and John Mayer (both reported exes of Taylor Swift) have put aside whatever differences they might have had, effectively becoming "the weirdest friends ever," to paraphrase Leslie Mann from The Other Woman. I, for one, would definitely not mind hearing a John Mayer Trio-esque full-length album from Ed Sheeran's GRAMMY super-group, which actually seems pretty plausible, considering Sheeran and Mayer's new-found musical friendship.

Fun fact: John Mayer & ?uestlove affiliation in fact dates back much, much further than most of you might ever imagine... way back to Dave Chappelle's barber shop "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" sketch/social experiment (2004). "Thinking Out Loud" then seamlessly segued into an ELO performance, which Ed Sheeran was suspiciously absent for opener "Medieval Woman," but soon re-emerged to join Jeff Lynne and the band for "Mr. Bluesky." By night's end, "Thinking Out Loud" rapidly rose to the No. 1 spot on the charts, even though the academy neglected to present Sheeran with a much-deserved award(s). ATTENTION ALL PHILLY-BASED "SHEER-FANS:" The red-headed Folk-Rock wonderkid himself will be making an appearance right outside of Fairmount Park at The Mann Center this upcoming May 26th (on-sale Feb. 27th). Fingers crossed... The Legendary Roots Crew drummer/bandleader Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson will grace us with his presence!!! ha. While his GRAMMY-nominated x and its "A-Team"-featuring predecessor, + are definitely worth picking up, I myself would strongly recommend checking out Ed Sheeran's 4-track The Slumdon Bridge FreEP recorded with Alabama-bred rapper, Yelawolf.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Jethro Tull meets Death Row:" Your Old Droog Unleashes Rock-Themed KINISON EP (Soundcloud Download)

"Last year, a mysterious rapper named Your Old Droog came out of nowhere with a self-titled mixtape. He sounded so much like Illmatic-era Nas that people thought it really was Nas, rapping under a Clockwork Orange-inspired pseudonym. Well, no, as it turns out, Your Old Droog is just some white guy from Coney Island," Stereogum "Hip-Hop Head In Chief" Tom Breihan wrote in a recently penned Your Old Droog-centric piece. Following a whirl-wind year, which showcased two 2014-issued releases, Your Old Droog [LP], critically-acclaimed Your Old Droog EP, and a handful of non-album singles, Your Old Droog unleashed an 11-track Rock-themed KINISON EP late Wednesday afternoon. It's littered with inventive Rock "N" Roll samples ranging from Johnny Cash to the Beastie Boys ("Pass The Mic") and at least 40+ cleverly inter-woven references including Sam Kinison, Pornos for Pyros, Rage Against The Machine, and Sonic Youth (track titles); in addition to lyrical allusions to Blind Mellon, Crash Test Dummies, Neil Young, Misfits, The Clash, "Jethro [Tull] meets Death Row," Faith No More, Lisa Loeb, and countless wide-ranging artists.

KINISON EP is really one of those borderline "Rap-Rock" projects that most rappers would likely make sound completely contrived and undeniably corny, but Your Old Droog is such a naturally talented green-horn emcee that he makes it seem so effortless and you can genuinely tell he's a fan of the artists he's rhyming about. It's like I was telling my wonderful girlfriend and resident proof-reader earlier tonight, Your Old Droog is quite easily the most talented rapper I've heard in about 10-12 years... well, aside from America's #1 Rap-Singer, Action Bronson. "It's not like something we planned. I was mentioning a lot of people from the Rock world in my rhymes. It was like, "Yo, I think I gotta tie this thing around, 'cause it's happening too much... Pornos for Pryos... it's like a dope way of saying your sh*t is fire." Your Old Droog recently lamented to Rolling Stone. "It's kind of like useless trivia, so I'm making use of it. I just [have] a memory for useless sh*t. I remember Meredith Brooks; I don't know why."

F*ck, That's Delicious Presents: Action Bronson Unleashes Alchemist-produced Mr. Wonderful Loosie, "Big League Chew" (VICE Records)

'"Did I do a perfect dive?" is such a popular debate (well, I'll give it a 9.3). I'm the hottest shit since B2K... I got an old soul and young legs. I'm like a good horse," Action Bronson effortlessly rhymes on his latest Alchemist-produced non-album track, "Big League Chew," which premiered during the eighth episode of his MUNCHIES/VICE web-series, F*ck, That's Delicious (Roasted In Santa Monica). "This is just another one they're gonna shoot down because it doesn't have a f*cking hook. It doesn't have anything that they're looking for, the radio... f*ck that, if this was '96, it would be hot," Bronson begrudgingly laments during the episode, which additionally features appearances from actor-turned-rapper Simon "Dirt Nasty" Rex, B-Real, Big Body Bes, and apparent FTD super-fan, Chef Mario Batali. @ActionBronson went on to further describe "Big League Chew" as a "CUSTOM-MADE SONG FOR THE LAST EPISODE OF THE SEASON [OF F*CK, THAT'S DELICIOUS];" The Alchemist-produced track's creation can be seen about mid-way through the 23-minute episode, while Bronson lets some seasoned cauliflower slow cook upstairs. Action Bronson's long-awaited VICE Records debut, Mr. Wonderful will finally see a world-wide release this upcoming March 23-24th; It's rumored to feature sharp-tongued rhymes from Meyhem Lauren, Big Body Bes, Chance The Rapper, Chauncy Sherod, and Blue Chips 1-2 cohorts Party Supplies, along with genre-blending production work from Mark Ronson and Noah "40" Shebib.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Stones Throw Records Presents: Tuxedo & J.Rocc - "Do It" (Flaunt Edwards Edit) FLAUNT EDWARDS WAS HERE

"Tuxedo is Mayer Hawthorne & Jake-One. The mysterious Flaunt Edwards (AKA J.Rocc) has taken their track "Do It" to his chopping block, and here's what emerged;" Not entirely unlike his Stones Throw label mates Madlib, Quakers, 7 Days of Funk, and Folerio, J.Rocc secretly moonlights as Disco-Funk-indebted DJ, Flaunt Edwards. Although, his sparse alternate discography only includes a few highly sought-after releases: Flaunt Edwards Was Here, a smooth 5-track collection of Soundcloud-issued edits and two seemingly untitled 7-12"s on Puff Puff Records (2013). "Do It" (Flaunt Edwards Edit) marks J.Rocc's first thinly-veiled remix creation unleashed following a nearly two year-long break. It's a Funk-drenched extended edit of the premier pseudo-single from Mayer Hawthorne & Jake-One's Tuxedo Funk EP/Tuxedo's "debut album, [which] will be released on Stones Throw a month from today, March 3, 2015." Ahead of their long-awaited 12-track debut LP, Tuxedo recently let loose a Yuletide Funk cover of Paul McCartney & Wings' holiday classic, "Wonderful Christmastime," as well as their formative "inspiration" mixtapes, Shoot The Duck Vol. 1 and AR Music.