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Showing posts from December, 2015

The Witzard's Year In Hip-Hop: 12 Months-worth of Stone Cold Rhymin' Featuring Guilty Simpson, Travi$ Scott, BBNG & Ghostface, Kendrick Lamar, The Lions, Action Bronson & Pusha T (2015 Top 10)

Now, I wouldn't exactly go ahead and bet my life on it, but I'm almost positive the first Hip-Hop album I ever bought with my own money was Will Smith's squeaky clean, parent-approved Big Willie Style (1997) and after that, I believe it was the slightly less embarrassing and arguably, far more genre-shaping Power In Numbers (2002) by recently reformed Los Angeles six-piece Jurassic 5. Hip-Hop, as you well know even if you just remotely follow this very publication, is by far one of my all-time favorite genres, along with Hardcore Punk and Indie Rock. Throughout the five or so years I've been single-handedly running The Witzard, I believe I've done a few of these Best of... or year-end lists (most recently, in 2013). While there were a handful of undoubtedly great Indie Rock, R&B, Punk, etc. albums released throughout the course of 2015, I've decided to compile a Hip-Hop-centric Top 10; with that said, here are a few cross-genre honorable mentions worth a sp…

The Force Awakens: Radiohead Frontman Thom Yorke Unleashes Scrapped James Bond "Spectre" Theme Song on Christmas Morning (self-released)

While they may be a little out of my typical wheelhouse of head-nodding Hip-Hop or fist-clenching Punk Rock, I've always been a casual fan and long-time admirer of Radiohead's rather unique aesthetic and business tactics... name-your-price In Rainbows, Kid A, OK Computer, I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, The King of Limbs, Amnesiac, and COM LAG (2plus2isfive). Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and his band mates have seemingly always attempted to employ an underlying Hip-Hop feel and have a mutual respect for the genre as a whole; Philly-bred Tonight Show band The Roots sampled them on Game Theory stand-out "Atonement," as did Kanye, Pharrell & Lupe Fiasco's short-lived super-group Child Rebel Soldier (CRS), and even Portishead founder Geoff Barrow & Katalyst went as far as to revamp "Fitter Happier" on a Guilty Simpson & MED-asssisted Quakers cut. Yorke has even managed to work alongside the mysterious masked villain himself, MF DOOM, on a n…

Fux with The Tux-mas: Mayer Hawthorne & Jake-One Unwrap Tuxedo's Groove-soaked Yuletide Disco-Funk Jam, "Holiday Love" (Amazon Prime)

"Happy Holidays, everyone. All the best Christmas songs were written by Jews, and Chanukah songs suck. This is my favorite Christmas tune, sung over the Vincent Guaraldi instrumental," New-Wop crooner Andrew Mayer "Hawthorne" Cohen wrote in a particularly tongue-in-cheek gentile-slamming 2010 mini-Stones Throw press release accompanying his sparse "Christmas Time Is Here"Peanuts-assisted cover. Just a few mere years later, Hawthorne and his Disco-Funkateer partner-in-crime, Jake-One quietly unveiled their first slice of post-Tuxedo Funk EP era material; a jittery groove-soaked rendition of Paul McCartney & Wings' 1979 Synth-Rock yuletide favorite, "Wonderful Christmastime." Now, just days ahead of the soon forthcoming 2015-16 holiday season, Tuxedo have unwrapped a completely original, retro-futuristic holiday standard titled "Holiday Love." It appears exclusively within Amazon Music's recent holiday-centric compilation, I…

Alex Goose Remixes Madlib & Freddie Gibbs' Piñata & Talks Forthcoming Work with Donnis, Foreign Air & Rodes (The Witzard Interview)

Greenhorn producer, song-writer, and composer Alex Goose has somehow already managed to log studio time with everyone from Weezer to up-and-coming Fool's Gold emcee Donnis and even had an ill-fated opportunity to work on Jay Z's famed Blueprint 3, which miraculously, ended up being one of his earliest career-defining moments; "In the spring of 2009, an A&R affiliated with Roc [Nation] got in contact with me. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to submit various tracks for Jay-Z's long-awaited Blueprint 3 album. Unfortunately, none of them made the final cut... This is what the Blueprint 3 could have been," Goose told okayplayer on the eve of his aptly-titled The Blueprint 3 Outtakes.

Six years later, Alex Goose has unleashed his next "solo" project under the creative umbrella of my former interview subject, Egon's Now-Again re-issue and found records imprint. Egon recruited Goose, who has recently produced radio-friendly hits "Thank God f…

G.O.O.D. Music President Pusha T Unleashes Puff Daddy-produced Hula Dancer-rattling "Crutches, Crosses, Caskets" Ahead of King Push: Darkest Before Dawn (The Prelude)

"How many times, Pusha T, did producers say to you, "come to the studio right now or we're gonna give this beat to Jay Z?" Nardwuar The Human Serviette politely asked Pusha T during a 2013 post-Canadian show interview. "Well, one time.. and that was for the "Grindin'" beat and that was Pharrell Williams... and he's supposed to be my best friend. Right? But this guy actually threatened to give the "Grindin'" beat to Jay Z, if I did not come to the studio right then and right there. I actually came, and I'm glad he did because that record was groundbreakin' for me, Pusha T exuberantly quipped. One 1/2 of early 2000's Virginia Beach-bred Coke Rap phenoms, Clipse, Pusha T – otherwise known as the newly-elected President of Kanye's re-launched label, G.O.O.D. Music – is gearing up to unleash his long-rumored 2-part King Push album; part one, titled Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude features production work from a lengt…

Saturday Night Live Presents: Chance The Rapper, R. Kelly, Jeremih & Purity Ring Beatsmith Corin Roddick's "Somewhere In Paradise" (chanceraps.com self-released)

"Just premiered "Somewhere In Paradise" [featuring] @Jeremih & @rkelly on @nbcsnl. Go get it for FREE at chanceraps.com," @chancetherapper exuberantly Tweeted just mere minutes after his hyper-energetic Saturday Night Live debut; reportedly the first performance of its kind for a 100% unsigned independent artist during SNL's 40-year tenure. "Thanks so much to Chris [Hemsworth], the entire SNL cast, Lorne Michaels, and Phil Hynes for a great week. Hope to be back soon," Chance continued following Hemsworth's closing credits sign-off. Founder and creator of Chicago-based Hip-Hop publication Fake Shore Drive, Andrew Barber shared a list of "every rapper to play SNL in 40 years," which includes major label-backed heavyweights like Run-D.M.C. Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Beastie Boys, OutKast, Pharrell/N*E*R*D, Nicki Minaj, and Kanye. "From the moment Chance stepped onstage for his first performance on SNL, it was clear the audience was in f…

Ray St. Ray, The Singing Cab Driver Presents: "WRONG SIDE OF ENOUGH" from Forthcoming Concept Album, FUTUREMAN vs. THE WRONG SIDE OF ENOUGH

"It started out as an attempt to write an early Bob Dylan kind of song, but as I wrote it, I heard Tom Waits in my head. It ended up sounding like a cover of Talking Heads covering Waits and Dylan, I think," Ray St. Ray somewhat unsurely wrote in a batch of exclusive emailed pull-quotes sent directly to The Witzard; although, it's a rather bold, yet befitting description of The Singing Cab Driver's zany Cabaret-leaning "WRONG SIDE OF ENOUGH." "Over the last 40 years, our future was stolen by corporate interests. Now, too many people are on the wrong side of enough. I feel strongly about this. It's what my concept album, FUTUREMAN vs. THE WRONG SIDE OF ENOUGH is about," Ray's email passionately continued. I initially heard about the infamous Singing Cab Driver a few months ago through my friend, crate-digger extraordinaire, and Now-Again Records founder, Egon. He spoke of one particularly interesting Madlib-accompanied late night Chicago c…

Charles Bradley & The Budos Band Deliver a Riveting, Hyper-emotive Soul-Funk Rendition of Black Sabbath's "Changes" (Dunham/Daptone Records)

Daptone Records' own revered Soul-Funk crooner The Screamin' Eagle of Soul, better known as 67-year-old Charles Bradley, a former James Brown impersonator who once went by "Black Velvet," is hearing up to unleash his third studio album this upcoming April 1st, 2016, Changes. Bradley's Menahan Street Band, The Budos Band, and The Bullets-assisted album is the proper follow-up to 2013's Victim of Love, and his debut No Time for Dreaming two short years prior, Changes takes its name and overall running theme from a similarly-titled Black Sabbath Vol. 4 track, which Daptone exclusively released as a Record Store Day 7-inch back in 2013. Interestingly enough, Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach's recently-premiered Psych-Rock side project The Arcs features three rotating members of The Menahan Street BandNick Movshon, Homer Steinweiss, and El Michels Affair founder Leon Michels – who spearheaded a retro-futuristic Funk-leaning sound, which undoubtedly influenc…

Top Shelf Premium Vintage Presents: Your Old Droog & DJ J Hart's 1990's-reminiscent "Off Top Freestyle" (Your Old Droog Records)

Let's just go ahead and be completely frank here, Jewish-America's biggest "claim to fame," if you will, is undoubtedly either Frat-Rap turned Conscious Hip-Hop posse, Beastie Boys or Adam Sandler's slightly-dated four-part "Chanukah Song" series; until the fateful second night of Hanukkah 2015... when Broooklyn-bred Ukrainian-American emcee Your Old Droog (Russian for "friend") unleashed his latest haphazardly-released non-album loosie, "Off Top Freestyle." Recorded in collaboration with Lower East Side vintage clothing store and quasi-recording studio @topshelfpremium, DJ J Hart-produced "Off Top" was filmed directly onto VHS tape at what would appear to be a retrofitted replica 1990's Modell's; "somehow, Your Old Droog managed to walk through a Modell's fitting room and ride a time warp back to the Clinton years when we were all playing Number Munchers, watching Snick, and eating 3-D Doritos," okay…

Yahoo Music Premiers Former Chester French Frontman D.A. Wallach's Soft Rock-leaning "Long Way Down" Hang Gliding Adventure (Harvest Records)

"That image just came to me as a bit of a non [sequitur]. I was imagining being camping with a girl who had underestimated the amount of kerosene to bring. Just a sliver of the sort of forgiveness and empathy one must have in a relationship," prolific singer-songwriter D.A. Wallach recently explained during an emailed interview for this very publication on the eve of his proper debut record, Time Machine; with the specific song fragment in question being "Long Way Down'"s poetically-worded non sequitur, "girl, if we run outta kerosene, don't say I never told ya... might be embarrassing, but I'm still here to hold ya." Time Machine is, quite frankly, without a shadow of doubt, amongst the most note-worthy albums released throughout 2015, alongside a rather unlikely cast of characters including Detroit-bred emcee Guilty Simpson, Action Bronson, Run The Jewels, Mark Ronson, and Stones Throw's premier Reggae act, The Lions. Nearly three year…

DJ Zane Lowe & Stones Throw Present: Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge's Nxworries Silky Smooth, G-Funk-leaning "Link Up" (Beats 1 World Record)

Heralded as a greenhorn rapper-producer project that's "shaping up to be easily the best thing on Stones Throw in [recent] years," despite the fact that they only have a mere two released tracks under their belt; Nxworries (pronounced: No Worries) have managed to hone in a unique sound that could characteristically be best described as the missing link between George Clinton's ground-breaking Parliament-Funkadelic and N.W.A. & Snoop Dogg's G-Funk sub-genre of 1990's West Coast Hip-Hop that Clinton himself unknowingly helped inspire. Once distilled down to its R&B-leaning Hip-Hop core, Nxworries is essentially a sparse Jaylib-indebted "2 turntables and a microphone"-style project consisting of New Jersey-bred beatsmith Knxwledge and Dr. Dre's latest protégé, LA crooner Anderson .Paak. "He was a big part of me finding a sound that I was looking for and a tone that people are more familiar with now... when I started working with [Knx]