Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Witzard's Week In Rap: "Prime Cuts" from A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, Giovanni James, Guilty Simpson & Massive Attack (January 24-30th Ed.)

Let's face it, there are a lot of great (and not-so great) Hip-Hop tracks, music videos, albums, mixtapes, EP's, etc. released on a weekly, if not even daily, basis; a person like myself, who single-handedly runs what I would deem a moderately "successful" publication, whilst working a 9-5, manipulating a relationship with my wonderful girlfriend, family, and friends, and leading a generally hectic existence, there isn't always time to cover every Hip-Hop release I would hypothetically like to within an average week's time. Hence, I've decided to enact a weekly "The Witzard's Week In Rap" (still a working title) column akin to Stereogum's 5 Best Videos of The Week or Status Ain't Hood, which will hopefully, be published every Friday or Saturday night. It may or may not include songs/videos that I have/hadn't exactly had the chance to cover throughout the course of the week prior and will generally showcase five companion short, yet explanatory write-ups listed in no particular order or ranking. EDITOR'S WARNING: Every week from now, through, up until, and maybe even after February 11 16 will likely feature a selection from or somehow related to Kanye's soon forthcoming WAVES (formerly SWISH) or "weekly" G.O.O.D. Fridays series, if he ever gets back in the swing of a rigid Friday release schedule... so, if you wouldn't exactly categorize yourself as a fan of Mr. West or his often zany related antics, I would suggest you steer clear of this very column for at least the first few weeks.

- Matt Horowitz, Editor In Chief

A$AP Rocky quietly released Pharrell-produced "Hear Me" and a full-length version of his Drake "Wu-Tang Forever" Amix nearly one day before unveiling his Antiports-animated "JD" cartoon-esque video. It's seemingly a reference to the undeniable, timeless cool of 1950's heart-throb James Dean. While "JD" appears within last year's critically-acclaimed ALLA, "Hear Me" and "Wu-Tang Forever" may very well end up on a forthcoming A$AP Rocky mixtape tentatively titled COZY TAPE (FREESTYLES), judging by AWGE's recent "JD"-reminiscent single artwork. Although it's only a brief 2:03-minute clip, "JD" manages to evoke a unique effect, which I would imagine was apparently achieved by filming live-action footage that was then seemingly "painted over" by animators Antiports.

"Whoa, @earlxsweat killed this Thomas East flip [of "Slippin' Around"] from our "Loving On The Flipside" comp," @nowagain founder Egon exclaimed following the release of Earl Sweatshirt's "WIND IN MY SAILS." It was suddenly uploaded to his hilariously-titled important_man464 Soundcloud page Tuesday afternoon without any prior murmur of warning along with "SKRT SKRT" and Kanye-sampling "bary." Earl seemingly decided to simply re-use the beat beneath Captain Murphy's menacing "Children of The Atom," which was produced by The Alchemist and shouts out "otis the god" [Madlib] and "flylo the god." Alchemist cleverly built "WIND IN MY SAILS" around a sample culled from Eugene McDaniels' anti-Thanksgiving ode "The Parasite (for Buffy)" and the aforementioned Now-Again-released Thomas East composition.

The Witzard was already established nearly six years ago now, way back when in 2009-10, and one of the first artists I self-discovered and started communicating with was Harlem-based R&B crooner Jelly Jells, who then reverted to his given name, Giovanni James, around 2012. He's been largely inactive in recent years, aside from making Mad Max-esque "defurbished" cell phones and hand-made leather-bound Butcher James cases; that is, until Friday afternoon when he premiered two new tracks and a self-directed short film for "Shame On You" at The FADER. Their premier-accompanying piece bills James as a "Rockabilly Rapper," a rather interesting sentiment, to which I wouldn't wholeheartedly disagree. "Plenty of people in the world need shaming right now... I have my personal reasons for writing it, but would rather let the listeners' own life narratives dictate the meaning for them," Giovanni James told The FADER concerning his mysterious sources of inspiration.

"["Firewater" is a] feature I did recently. Got his info from someone over at Stones Throw. Happy to do it because features can be hit or miss, but his beat was sick with a powerful drive to it. Dope producer," Guilty Simpson wrote within a statement exclusively sent to The Witzard. "[Dan] Carey's beat is a murky, sinister jaunt layered thick with warped synths and dense drums. Seemingly, there is little room for any vocal to cut through the swampy low-end depths," Stereogum wrote within a premier-peppered piece. Mr. Dan said he reached out to Simpson through Stones Throw with the warbly, 808 drum-laden King of Rock-reminiscent "Firewater" beat and figured "there was no way I thought I'd get a reply." Carey has previously worked alongside Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Chairlift, Tame Impala, Fatboy Slim, Yeasayer, and most recently, Bat for Lashes' Psych-Folk side project with TOY, Sexwitch.

"[Massive Attack] released an iPhone app this morning called Fantom, a "sensory music player" that actively remixes pieces of music based on the user's heartbeat, location, local time, and movement," The Verge wrote nearly two weeks ago, which at the time, seemed largely unrelated to any form of new Massive Attack material; although, it was soon revealed that The Fantom contained fragments of tracks titled "Dead Editors," "Ritual Spirit," "Voodoo In My Blood," and "Take It There." Pitchfork noted that the alter credited an appearance to "thaws," which was soon revealed to be fellow Trip-Hopper Adrian "Tricky" Thaws, who last appeared on a 3D & Daddy G-penned track eons ago in 1994. Fast forward to this past Friday, January 28th: Massive Attack quietly unveiled their first long-form collection of new music in nearly six years, 3D-produced Ritual Spirit xxXX EP accompanied by their brooding, cinematic Hiro Murai-directed "Take It There," which stars Deadwood and Eastbound & Down (Kenny Powers' brother) actor John Hawkes.

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