Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Defcee Unveils A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 with Beats from The Alchemist, Drake, Goodie Mob, Group Home, Nas & Rick Ross (Machine Wash Music)

"J.I.D. Saba, and Defcee have been the best rappers of 2018. It's not even close," Chicago emcee Lamon Manuel (@LamonManuelFCLA) recently proclaimed on Twitter. Defcee is a fellow Chicago-based emcee, also, known as Adam Levin, who has been ferociously rapping and actively releasing music since 2007; at the tender age of 17, Defcee self-released his debut album, One Eye Open. It was soon followed by 2011's The Panama Sessions and Out from Under EP's, as well as a full-length entitled Selves fully produced and mixed by Moses. Then, four years later, Defcee released his next project, 2015's Damn Near Grown, which featured appearances from Saba, Noname, Sev Seveer, goldenbeets, and Otis Brown Jones III, as well as artwork by Dewey Saunders. Defcee's most recent guest verse was on GrownUpRap-premiered "Babel" from Curly Castro's forthcoming Backwoodz Studioz album, TOSH, alongside Collosoul Structure & ELUCID, as produced by Wrecking Crew head honcho, Zilla Rocca. Now, nearly four more years later, Defcee has returned with his next neck-snapping sonic offering: A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 on Machine Wash Music.

"With A Mixtape As God Intended, he makes his mark with a display of lyricism that's miles above most of what's out there now. Creating music that instantly makes a connection with the listener is something he's incredibly good at and he delivers that with food for thought in spades," Machine Wash Music writes within a mixtape-announcing email. "This mixtape both serves as a preview of what's to come and an early warning for The New Year. Defcee is here," it continues. A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 is structured similarly to an old school hand-made with a variety of original and widely-recognizable beats from Modern Rap Radio; with "The Basic Caveman Foundation," "Twenty-Four AM In Chicago," "Three Sixteens," Rivals' "Forty, Jr." "Sixteen In The Dungeon," and "Thirty-Six Months" on "SIDE A" and "Vigil," "Sixteen In The Dungeon," and "Five Courses" appearing on "SIDE B" (you can see the full tracklist below.) Defcee's A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1 is now available from Machine Wash Music digitally, as well as on super-limited edition cassette tape. Defcee is currently working on a two separate projects with CRASHprez & knowsthename as defprez, as well as as 2019 full-length entitled Unlegendary entirely produced by goldenbeets.

@defcee's A Mixtape As God Intended, Vol. 1

0:00 - "The Basic Caveman Foundation" (Produced By: goldenbeets) / includes an excerpt from Sean Price, Buckshot & 9th Wonder's Sway In The Morning interview with Sway & Heather B. released on November 27th, 2012

1:35 - "Twenty-Four AM In Chicago" (uses the instrumental for Drake's "4PM In Calabasas" Produced By: Allen Ritter, Frank Dukes & Vinylz)

3:00 - "Three Sixteens" (uses the instrumentals for Rick Ross' "Santorini Greece" Produced By: Bink!, Nipsey Hussle's "Clarity" Produced By: Lamar "Mars" Edwards & MIKE & KEYS, and 6LACK's "PRBLMS" Produced By: NOVA)

6:01 - "Forty, Jr." - Performed By: Rivals (uses the instrumental for "Hold You Down" Produced & Performed By: The Alchemist)

9:06 - "Sixteen In The Dungeon" (uses the instrumental for Goodie Mob's "Goodie Bag" Produced By: Organized Noize)

10:02 - "Thirty-Six Months" (uses the instrumentals for Group Home's "Interlude," "Outro" & "Up Against Tha Wall" (Getaway Car Mix) Produced By: DJ Premier)

12:12 - "Vigil" (Produced By: WHOLESQUAD)

13:32 - "Sixteen for Our World" (uses the instrumental for Nas' "The World Is Yours" (Remix) Produced By: Q-Tip)

14:46 - "Five Courses" (Produced By: knowsthetime)

Monday, December 10, 2018

ialive Returns with "Little By Little" from Upcoming Self-produced Full-length DON'T DO NOTHING Mastered By C$ BURNS (Cold Rhymes Records)

Donovan "ialive" Phillips is a self-described "Rap-singer-songwriter/beat aficionado/musical collector" hailing from The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ialive has released numerous collaborative and solo projects over the years, but hasn't released a tried and true "solo" album since 2015's Awake In The Snake Hole. However, in recent years, he's released collaborative projects with both Darko The Super as The Hell Hole Store and TIMEWAVE ZERO with Height Keech, as well as Four to The Floor 1-2 EP's with Cody Cody Jones... just this past week, ialive announced his long-awaited third solo album, DON'T DO NOTHING, which will be dropping on Height's Cold Rhymes Records Friday, January 11, 2019. DON'T DO NOTHING was fully produced, recorded, and mixed by ialive himself at The Green Gem in Philly with mastering done by Vinyl Cape's own C$ BURNS. On the most recent episode of THIS COLD RHYMES PODCAST, Mister spoke with ialive and premiered the first single, "Little By Little," from DON'T DO NOTHING.

Just a few days later, its companion music video was quietly debuted on Cold Rhymes' Facebook page. It was directed by frequent Zilla Rocca/Career Crooks collaborator Bob Sweeney, who, amazingly, shot the whole music video backwards. "The hardest part of working on this video was figuring out how to do everything backwards. Not only was @ialive moving backwards, but all of the camera moves had to be shot in reverse, as well," @sweeneybob wrote on his Instagram page last week. "Little By Little" is about as inexplicably Philly as it gets with on-screen allusions to Rocky, Wawa Hoagies & Chocolate Milk, those classic Philly Pretzels AKA "One-twisted Jawns," and much, much more. C$ BURNS boasts: "My dude @ialive is combining Indie Rap with some cool organic Psychedelic sounds, sung hooks, and a super-solid flow. This new record (mastered by me!) is definitely doing something new with Rap," which makes it seem like DON'T DO NOTHING will sound similar to last year's Height Keech-produced TIME WAVE ZERO. ialive's DON'T DO NOTHING is currently available to pre-order from Cold Rhymes Records with The Hell Hole Store III, supposedly, coming fairly soon, as well.

"We shot backwards so we could flip the motions of everything else. I wanted the world around me to be moving backwards with me moving against it to metaphorically represent the feeling of struggle and banality. I often feel the strain of existing, as an artist in our society can seem like an uphill climb or as if you're moving backwards in the world. Aesthetically, I think it adds a surreal and uneasy feeling; a feeling that things are slightly off and in turn giving it a unique look that can't be achieved any other way."

- ialive on "Little By Little" (@ialive_)

Friday, December 7, 2018

James Mercer & Danger Mouse Return with First Proper Broken Bells Single "Shelter" Since 2015's "It's That Talk Again" (30th Century Records)

Broken Bells (@broken_bells) have been teasing something since about August with cryptic black-and-white in-studio Polaroid-esque photos, some dated as far back as 7/26/18. Broken Bells is, of course, the collaborative duo of James Mercer & Brian Burton. Mercer is the long-time frontman of The Shins/Flake Music and Burton is also, known as super-producer Danger Mouse; who has worked with everyone from MF DOOM (DANGERDOOM) to The Black Keys, A$AP Rocky to Parquet Courts, and likely, most famously, as Gnarls Barkley with Cee-Lo. Since initially forming in 2008-09, Broken Bells have released two full-lengths, 2010's Broken Bells and 2014's After The Disco, as well as a 2011 EP dubbed Meyrin Fields and a number of non-album singles. Honestly, we, here at The Witzard, personally, favor Broken Bells' self-titled 2010 debut, but their entire cannon of music is phenomenal! Lest we forget, Broken Bells courted a then-relatively unknown Christina Hendricks (Good Girls, Mad Men) to star within their 2010 Broken Bells LP stand-out "The Ghost Inside"'s phenomenal space-themed music video/short film.

It's a near-perfect amalgamation of both James Mercer & Brian Burton's separate "solo" endeavors: a bit of Indie Rock/Pop from The Shins, some Hip-Hop from Danger Mouse's Grey Album era, and of course, a bit of melody and Experimental tendencies, and a dash of Prog/Space Rock, for good measure. Now, after a few weeks-worth of mysterious build-up, Broken Bells have officially returned with this first single in nearly three years, "Shelter." While there has been no proper announcement in regards to Broken Bells LP3 (yet!) one has to wonder if "Shelter" and 2015's post-After The Disco non-album single "It's That Talk Again" will, eventually, end up appearing on Brian Burton & Danger Mouse's third as-yet-to-be-announced collaborative full-length. Danger Mouse is currently working on yet another mysterious project, apparently titled LUX PRIMA, with Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and frequent Broken Bells collaborator Jay "J-Zone" Mumford. For now, however, Broken Bells' latest single, "Shelter" is currently available on their assorted channels, as well as digital streaming platforms through Brian Burton's own 30th Century Records imprint.

South London Beat-maker Charles Edison Unleashes "Electrifying" 9-track Filaments - Season 1 EP (Remix Challenge Announcement)

Aside from being an extremely talented beat-maker, emcee, and producer, South London's Charles Edison is simply, a phenomenal human being. He, like all of us, has his vices and admittedly, had a substance abuse problem, but seeked help through treatment and is now celebrating over two years clean and sober. Earlier this year, The Witzard partnered up with Charles Edison on the one-year anniversary of his Waking Up EP/sobriety. Together, we cooked up a comprehensive track-by-track breakdown of Charles' Waking Up EP, paired with the moving story of his journey to a completely clean and sober lifestyle. It's a truly inspiring story and we've already received a plethora of phenomenal and equally inspiring feedback since initially publishing. Just throughout the course of 2018 alone, Charles Edison has self-released his Everything Is Fine EP and long-rumored Beats from The Seventh Floor beat album, as well as a special Beats from The Seventh Floor EP with John Memorex from Beat Tape Co-Op. Now, out of nowhere, Charles has returned with one final release for 2018: a 9-track EP entitled Filaments - Season 1.

It's a thematic sequel, of sorts, to his 2014 electricity-charged releases, Bitstorm EP—including "Light Up The Night"—and Lightbulbs full-length. Not entirely unlike his previous string of releases, Charles Edison's Filaments - Season 1 EP features a wide array of beats reminiscent of J Dilla, Kanye, Madlib, Gorillaz, The Streets, and DOOM. Fully produced, mixed, and mastered by Charles Edison himself on The Seventh Floor, Filaments - Season 1 is fittingly described as "warm, hazy, and familiar; like a drunken hug from an ex." Aside from Charles' electrified hand-crafted beats, Filaments - Season 1 features one lone guest, DJ Jabba The Kut, on the Ones & Twos throughout "What We Do." Charles Edison's Filaments - Season 1 EP is currently available on Bandcamp and like-minded digital streaming platforms. Honestly, we, here at The Witzard would really like to hear some sharp-tongued emcees or even producers, multi-instrumentalists, singers, etc. do their thing on some of Charlie's complexly layered beats. If you're interested in doing so, please, send your completed submissions to The Witzard at sharpcheddar856@gmail.com or @Charles_Edison himself on Twitter. Happy Holidays to all and best of luck to our potential remixers!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Witzard Presents: John Morrison's 93-song BEASTIE BOYS BOOK (Influences, Samples & Rarities) Playlist & Exclusive Mini-breakdown

"I'm a huge Beasties fan and have been since I was a kid. Coming out of Hip-Hop and crate-digging culture, I'd always find records like The Moog Machine's Switched-On Rock (1969) and Led Zeppelin IV (1971) that The Beasties had sampled. As I was going through the BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, I noticed in a few chapters, they'd talk about the mixtapes that they'd make and trade with samples, skits, weird Jazz records, and stuff. I remember a great interview that Wax Poetics did with The Beasties years ago that mentioned these tapes, as well. I figured I could make a playlist equivalent.

The early chapters of the book are fascinating to me, as well. They really capture this culturally-rich time in New York in the late 70's/early 80's when you had early Hip-Hop like DJ Jazzy Jay and The Zulu Nation playing at The Mudd Club, as well as No Wave/Post-Punk bands, like Sonic Youth and Arto Lindsay's DNA playing Punk clubs and art galleries. The mixtape aspect of their history is really fascinating to me because it seems as though, they'd make tapes that corresponded with the albums they were working on. Kind of a way of pulling together whatever was influencing them, at the time. I have a similar process when making music, which I may have stolen from them."

- John Morrison (@John_Liberator)

I. Treacherous Three - "The Body Rock" (1980)

"Throughout the BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, Mike D & Ad-Rock speak highly of this song and for good reason, it's perfect! Besides being an incredible group, The Treacherous Three are significant because stylistically, they represent a bridge between the original "routine"-based MC'ing style of groups, like Cold Crush and the more "lyrical" styles that would come later. They were a big influence on The Beasties and pretty much everyone else who came out in the 80's and early 90's. Its also, worth noting that "Body Rock" was produced by Erol "Pumpkin" Bedward, a drummer/multi-instrumentalist who is considered by many to be Hip-Hop's first super-producer."'

II. Bad Brains - "I" (1982)

"In high school, I used to review records for Punk 'zines, so I have a little bit of knowledge about Punk's development as a culture and musical style. That being said, Bad Brains is a mystery to me. Like, I know where they came from, but I don't know how they came about, you know? This sh*t is still so next level, 40 years after the fact.

I heard H.R. lives in my neighborhood now, but I don't know if that's true. A couple years ago, I went to BBQ/Punk show and the host announced that H.R. would be joining the band to play a few songs and people got hyped and starting chanting "H.R...... H.R..... H.R...." but when the guy grabbed the mic, he turned out to be some other dude and not H.R. at all!"

III. Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe - "When The Levee Breaks" (1929)

"Everybody knows the famous Led Zeppelin song that The Beasties sampled those massive drums for their song "Rhymin' & Stealin'" but not a lot of people know the original "When The Levee Breaks," which is credited to a Louisiana-born guitar virtuous named Memphis Minnie. The song was recorded in 1929 and just goes to show how many deep and old connections come alive within Hip-Hop through sampling."

IV. Luscious Jackson - "City Song" (Supernatural Mix) - 1994

"I've been a huge Luscious Jackson fan and this song was my introduction to them. I remember being at my cousin's house and seeing the video for "City Song" on MTV. There were these beautiful, hip grown-up ladies playing this Funky music and it blew me away. Back in the mid-90's, anything that was abstract or alternative sounding with samples or breakbeats on it was bound to be at least someone cool (Beck, Forest for The Trees, Whitetown, Land of Loops, etc.) I included the Todd "T-Ray" Ray remix because he's kind of an unsung figure in 90's Hip-Hop. He produced a lot of dope, grimy tunes for Artifacts, Kool G. Rap, Cypress Hill, and more."

V. Beastie Boys - "And Me" (1998)

"This is, arguably, my favorite Beastie Boys song. I remember hearing it when it came out and being struck with the feeling that I had been transported into a deep emotional space. It's an incredibly complex production for it's time, the synths sound like farfisa's and the drums sound like chopped and pitched up Amen breaks. It's quirky and futuristic and stylistically, it fits in perfectly with all of the music The Beasties were releasing on Grand Royale, at the time. Ultimately, "And Me" is some B-Boy sh*t, but it's more than that kinda like The Beasties and Hip-Hop itself."

John Morrison is a Philadelphia-based DJ, producer, and writer (Red Bull Music Academy, Jazz Right Now, Bandcamp Daily, etc.) His debut Instrumental Hip-Hop album, Southwest Psychedelphia, is a cosmic, psychedelic trip through a day in the life in his Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood available now on Deadverse Recordings. John is currently working on his follow-up, Memorabilia, a remix album centered around childhood and nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Favors Are Bad News:" A Comprehensive All-around Breakdown for Zilla Rocca's Future Former Rapper (Producers, Emcees, Etc. Edition)

"I first met Zilla, barely out of college, downing bottles of malt liquor and idiotically, drunkenly throwing them into darkened stairwells at his old Catholic high school in South Philly. He was aligned his former crew then, one half of a Rap group called Clean Guns, attempting to start a fledgling label in an underground climate that seemed inhospitable and rebarbative to anyone trying to figure out what Boom-Bap would sound like 20 years in the future. Zilla could always rap and produce, but he hadn't found a voice or character that allowed him to channel what eventually reached its (27-inch) zenith on Future Former Rapper—believe it!

Starting with the 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers project, he's refined an aesthetic akin to Raymond Chandler raised on Raekwon, splitting the difference between James Ellroy and Guru sneering at rivals that they're paranoid because they're sons like Elroy. One of the reasons why I started POW was to offer a wayward station for the weird and original artists who didn't necessarily fit into prevailing trends or gimmicks. Zilla was too young for the Def Jux era, but arrived before Griselda, closer to the lost generation that emerged with Ka and Roc Marci, who offered righteous paths that illuminated the wrong routes that people long had been running. Future Former Rapper is as South Philly as a cannoli; it's skeptical and caustic, obsessed with creative mortality, poignantly written and filled with the perfect amount of poison. It understands that the future is always informed by the past and the desire to correct those irrevocable mistakes therein."

- Jeff Weiss (POW Recordings)

001. "Detroit Diamonds" (Prod. By Messiah Musik)

Messiah Musik: "I believe, Zilla originally reached out to me about this effort back around 2014, after Armand Hammer's Furtive Movements dropped. I was glad to hear we were mutual fans of one another and happy to help with the soundscape for this. I can only take so much credit for this one... but I found it extremely fitting that Zilla chose it, since it's a running track in the tradition of a lot of great Ghostface Killah joints; "Big Girl" from the album Fishscale, being a personal favorite. Goes without saying that Zilla laced this one and I was impressed/honored that it was used to kick off Future Former Rapper."

002. "Microwaved Vendettas" (Prod. By Small Professor)

Small Professor: "This beat was originally slated for [Wrecking Crew's] Wu-Tang Pulp (2012) however, Zilla told me at the last second that it wasn't going to make the cut, but I'm glad that it found a home here."

003. "Now You Can't Leave" (Prod. By steel tipped dove)

steel tipped dove: '"Now You Can't Leave" is a beat I sent as [part of] a beat pack to Zilla. He told me it kinda centered the album and he built out from there. That sh*t BANGS! I really love that song! Zilla killed it and the whole album!! I hope tons and tons of people hear it!!!"

004. "Gunshot Jazz" (Prod. By Zilla Rocca)

Zilla Rocca: "With "Gunshot Jazz," I had both the beat and song done previously for projects that either never dropped or were rejected. As I was arranging the album, I didn't feel the need to inject a lot of my own beats into the album, but whatever beat I chose, it had to be a BANGER. I was going back through my beats and felt like this joint would be strong enough to hang with the other producers. And it reminded me of the first 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers album, The Slow Twilight, we did in 2009, sonically. So, I wanted to touch on that style on Future Former Rapper just to cover all of my bases with styles I've flipped over the years. I found the rhymes and hook in the stash and they fit perfectly. Plus, the title, "Gunshot Jazz," was a line I said on the first song on the last Shadowboxers album that I always wanted to use again. So, it all fit together perfectly."

005. "Make The Sickness, Sell The Cure" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By William J. Sullivan)

William J. Sullivan: "I met Zilla at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where we both attended college. At the time, he was in a group with my best friends, Noah and Starkey ("Name on the Buckle.") This was probably around 15 years ago. After that, we just clicked as friends under music, not just Hip-Hop. I was heavily involved in the Philly Metal & Hardcore scene, at that point, and Zilla was a walking Rap encyclopedia, so it was very interesting to make music together.

I believe, I started the beat, while I still lived in Brooklyn and I could never find the right vocal to fit, so I shelved it for a while. Later, I was working on a project of my own and sent him a bunch of the ideas I had, one of which was "Make The Sickness..." He liked it, so I said that him and Castro could do whatever they wanted on it. After a few e-mails back-and-forth, they were done the vocals, I switched up the arrangement a little bit and that was that.

Production-wise, I wrote and tracked everything in Logic Pro. NI Battery, BFD3, Heavyocity Damage, and EastWest RA handled drums and percussion, all kinds of weird Virtual Studio Technologies for keys, NI Massive on bass, and I played/tracked most of the string parts at my current space in California. I used Kontakt for the cello and bass parts because pitch shifting my violin sounded awful. Looking back, I wish I tried to use a bow on an electric bass... next time, I guess. Lastly, I believe, this version of the song was mixed in Pro Tools.

It wasn't until the album was almost done that Zilla told me "Make The Sickness..." was on it. He then, told me Starkey had a song on it, which got me really excited. It's rare to go this long in the music industry and work with people you are personally so close to. At least, it's a rare opportunity for me. I always dream about the day me and all of my old friends get together and freely make some sh*t like we did when we were younger."

Curly Castro: "This was a Hell of a blade to sharpen. Bill being a long-time friend/collaborator of Zilla's, the work was a long time coming and way overdue. Bill deals with original compositions and self-made instrumentation, which leads to BOOM-bastic results. I remember Zilla wasn't feeling my Caribbean-styled hook at first, lol, but I said, "TRUST MI, NUH-man!!!!" And he did lol and now, we have an immortal banga."

006. "Three Romans" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By steel tipped dove)

steel tipped dove: '"Three Romans," I sent as part of a beat pack and was so stoked to hear he made a joint with Curly Castro over one of my joints 'cause I'm such a fan of both of them and I love the way the song tells a unique and true story. [It's] so awesome and tells a story in a really cool way."

Curly Castro: "Zilla went to Roman Catholic high school and that school has a star-eyed lineage in terms of players it produced. Zilla took on the fates of three particular Romans: Eddie Griffin, Rasual Butler, and Marvin Harrison. I took the title in an idyllic sense and talked about three "Romans" I followed coming up: Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, and Charles Smith. I detailed the tragedy that was [The] Knicks vs. Bulls in the 90's."

007. "Favors Are Bad News" Feat. Armand Hammer (Prod. By Disco Vietnam)

Disco Vietnam: "I'm just trying to get busy and Zilla Rocca is just like me: he's not doing this for any other reason, but to do it. I've been sending him beats for years and years and we have threatened to collaborate a number of times, but anyone who has recorded anything knows: all finished songs are miracles. When you make a beat you're happy with, you want the whole world to hear it as soon as possible. I made this beat 10 years ago. I don't remember how I made it or why, but I sent it to Zilla and he planted it deep within The Earth, where it drank the acid rain. Zilla is my favorite type of artist: self-sufficient. He's been doing this a long time and even though the album is called Future Former Rapper, I don't think he's going to stop. What did I sample? That's none of your damn business and I'll thank you to stay out of my personal affairs."

ELUCID of Armand Hammer: "Wow, I've known of Zilla, via The Internet, through music for 10+ years. Haven't ever thought about that. Long time, G! There isn't a real story behind the ask for us to get on the song, but we agreed. I've made a few other songs with him, as well. Just a real mutual respect for each other's craft."

008. "All of My Day Ones Got Day Jobs" (Prod. By Messiah Musik)

Messiah Musik: "This is something that has been in the vault for a while. It was the first joint we collaborated on that Zilla sent back to me. Believe it was pretty soon after we started sharing tracks back-and-forth. I've been eager for him to share this—think it came out so dope! Just a really original concept that I recall him saying he wrote during his honeymoon. To me, it really compliments the overarching themes of the record. The little intro piece was a late addition that was another beat I shared way back. Hope everyone digs this as much as I do."

009. "Drunk History" (Prod. By Ray West)

Ray West: "I can't really recall when I, actually, met Zilla. I think, it just came from both of us on the grind and recognizing each other's music. We have been going back-and-forth about things, I been sending him some tracks here and there. When he told me there was one he wanted for his record I was all in. The beat was made on an E-mu SP-12 Turbo. Very minimal approach... lo-fi filtered sample and percussion."

010. "Enemy/Stranger/Friend" Feat. Sid Sutra & Serengeti (Prod. By steel tipped dove)

steel tipped dove: '"Enemy/Stranger/Friend," I sent as part of a beat pack and it's the first time I've ever gotten to work with Serengeti, who I've been a fan of for so so long and the way Zilla hits the damn beat on this one is crazy. I've been a fan of Geti's for yearrssssssss and this is the first chance my music crossed over with his."

Zilla Rocca: "On "Enemy/Stranger/Friend," I had that title in my notepad for a while after hearing how Buddha said that's why all people are to each other until we practice compassion. And then, everyone is our friend, even someone who hates us. Likewise, my other spirit animal, Dame Dash, did an infamous interview with The Breakfast Club, where he said something similar about how you're an enemy to someone who has no integrity and tries to do harm to you, but you're a friend to the people that you're protecting. In my own life, I never wanted to be an enemy to someone else, but that's just how things have gone the last 8-10 years with people I was either really close with or artists that don't even know me, but wanted to attack me based on something former friends would intimate about me.

So, that song is directly about those people—it's pretty emotional and aggressive, in retrospect. I was holding onto a lot of that stuff and keeping receipts in my head, knowing I would unload on all of those people within a song. Adding Sid Sutra was key to that because he's one of my favorite cats from Philly that can do so many styles and he was struggling at that time with the education system that constantly tells teachers they need to do more with less. Getting Serengeti was pretty late in the process—he's been a peer and a favorite of everyone I hang with for a long time. He added some levity and comic relief with his verse at the end kicking some classic Kenny Dennis sh*t over the beat from steel tipped dove."

011. "Name On The Buckle" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By Starkey)

Starkey: "I met Zilla back in college. We were both at Temple. I think that I was, actually, the teaching assistant for one of his production classes, when I first met him. He was working on a project called Crooked Soul and I was asked to be involved to produce some tracks, mix, etc. At some point, I along with another friend of ours, Noah Goldstein (who went on to work with Kanye West for years and is now, SVP of A&R at Columbia) became members of the "group" and the sole producers. I also, ran laptop duties at shows while Noah DJ'ed/scratched. We all kind of went our separate ways then, with Noah moving out of Philly. I was focusing on doing Starkey productions, as well as running Seclusiasis and Slit Jockey.

"Name On The Buckle" came together in a pretty weird way. Zilla hit me up and said he was working on a new album and was interested in me providing a track. I sent him a track which I thought would work nicely for them. However, in the time between when I sent it and when they had a chance to write and record it, that track ended up being snatched up for another project. If you check out the 18+ track "Agents" from their album, Collect (2016) you'll be able to hear the original beat that Zilla & Curly recorded the track to. So, I basically, imported the vocals into the session, muted all the production parts, and built the song from scratch... like you might start a remix. I actually, really like working this way. I've done it a bunch over the years. Usually, I'll re-build parts of the track, but this was the rare instance where I re-built the entire production around the vocals. I think the track turned out cool."

Curly Castro: "This is Zilla and I at our serrated oblivion best. Soundtracked by the intergalatic-famous Starkey, this was another long-time comer. Zilla & Starkey were in their first Rap group together, once upon a time. Interestingly enough, this was not the original beat, but it was the one The Rap Gods intended. Zilla & I went strait Morlock Massacre on this beat. We always want to show our versatility, when it comes to Wrecking Crew and I believe, we did with this Starkey sonic artillery. Also, anybody familiar with a family of Atoms, might recognize the hook. Salute, Mega!"

012. "Stop Biting Zilla Rocca, Part II" Feat. Curly Castro (Prod. By Small Professor)

Small Professor: "This was a song I made originally for a Bandcamp release that Zilla fleshed out into a full song. More Wu-Tang influence, unintentionally."

Curly Castro: "This was a necessary mantra for Zilla and for the entire Wrecking Crew as a whole. We noticed folks deliberately biting some styles we spent years refining and developing. So, basically, we are saying "we see you" and "we raise you," pun all the way intended. Salute to the pre-cocoa brovas. In closing, this was one of Zilla Rocca's most important projects to date. It's some of his best work ever crafted. And it's his most revolutionary effort, as well. This coming from your friendly neighborhood re.Bel himself."

013. "The Best Part of Every Day" (Prod. By Small Professor)

Small Professor: "One of the best things about Zilla's music is how much he puts his family in there. It was cool and an honor to open and close this album; Zilla Rocca, what a great guy!"

"Peace, world. I've known Zilla for going on 10 years now? Whenever he released Bring Me The Head of Zilla Rocca (2008) that's when our symbiosis started. I was applying for membership within his imprint, Beat Garden Ent. and he was not only The President of BG, he was a d*ck lol, but we navigated those murky waters and now he is the best friend I have on this planet. He is my A-Alike in this Rap sh*t, my parallel. I trust him with my life. We combined forces and left all other allegiances to form Wrecking Crew with Small Professor & PremRock and we are better men for it. Friends first, Hip-Hop third, NBA fandom second. Zilla told me early on about Future Former Rapper and his initial plans for the record.

I was very hesitant to participate and taken aback, at first. Future FORMER Rapper, means eventually, your boy is going to leave you in this game for more responsible pastures. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for my friend, but being the elder of The Crew, I knew what his "retirement" could ultimately mean. Zilla, THANK GOD lol, evolved his idea into an aesthetic purely for this album and a good touchstone for his Hip-Hop life moving forward. And so, we got to Wreck. Zilla informed me that he wanted an "art-imitates-life" vibe for the record and me, being his best friend and best man at his wedding, I would have multiple appearances. I would be Ghost to his Rae rocking Cuban Linx & Bulletproof Wallets, The Truth Enola to his Posdnous, while the Stakes stay High..."

- Curly Castro (Wrecking Crew/GRIFT COMPANY)

*BONUS* Kyle Tierce for Memetic Supply Co. - Art Direction:

"I've done a number of covers for Zilla, since we first linked up in 2011. His projects are always a lot of fun to work on because he really trusts my visual instincts and his whole Noir-Hop aesthetic has a bunch of in-built imagery to play with. For Future Former Rapper, he had an initial concept he wanted to work from, where we've got this image of a kid sort of trying to flee from a physical embodiment or manifestation of the city. I put the cover and a back panel together using my usual combination of vector art with analog and digital collage. When it came time to do the pre-release singles: "Favors Are Bad News," "Enemy/Stranger/Friend" & "Name On The Buckle" he just told me to let loose on the artwork and do something dope... so, I used the original album cover to kind of inform a base aesthetic, then, worked on expanding it with some different motifs.

My goal was to keep each of the covers distinct, while making it clear that they were all part of the same overarching project or collection. Finally, I even got to bring the whole process full-circle, taking some of the gestures from the singles—like the muted black-and-white collage elements, brown and cream backgrounds, torn edges, abstract geometric figures—and bringing them back to the original album cover to create an alternate version for the upcoming cassette release. In the end, I was really proud of part I got to play; it was a pleasure (as always) to work with Zilla on such an excellent album, especially, one with this kind of personal significance for him and I'm honored he trusted in my abilities enough to put the Art Direction in my hands."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

MENORAH MASHUPS: crazy chanukah mixes & mashups (a dj BC compilation) Featuring dj BC, DJ Flack, FAROFF, ATOM & Voicedude

dj BC is a notorious Atlanta-based/Boston-bred mash-up artist, DJ, and producer known "on the streets" as Bob Cronin. He's the resident DJ for fellow Bostonians Big D & The Kids Table and is likely, best-known for his three Beastles (The Beatles & Beastie Boys) mash-up albums: 2004's The Beastles, 2006's Let It Beast, and most recently, 2013's ILL SUBMARINE. In fact, the latter was most recently re-issued for the very first time on super-limited edition tape for Cassette Store Day 2018. Sunday evening, for the first night of Hanukkah, "dj BC's super-group" TheBeastles @letitbeast's Instagram page posted a seasonally appropriate Yellow Submarine menorah with the tantalizing caption: "#HappyHanukkah from The Beastles! @mcaday #beatles #beastieboys @realdjbc check out dj BC's Chanukah album - link in bio!" Soon after, dj BC himself messaged me with a link to his 2015 compilation, MENORAH MIXES: crazy chanukah mixes & mashups. Keeping in line with The Beatles/Beastie Boys & Hanukkah theme, below, you'll hear "So What'cha Want" (Israeli Radio Promo) a hidden track from The Beasties' 1995 Root Down EP credited to then-Israeli radio DJ and emcee "Eyal (Deep) Friedman" AKA Quami De-La Fox.

Although, I had, somehow, never heard of MENORAH MIXES, it appears as though it's just one of Bob Cronin's many festive-themed releases; past stocking stuffers include SANTASTIC I-IX, a very Re:Composition CHRISTMAS By dj BC, and Big D & The Kids Table's Wicked Hardcore Christmas, which are currently all available to stream or download on Christmash.com. MENORAH MASHUPS' Soundcloud page readily lists its unleavened ingredients, AKA samples, as: "Frank Yankovic & His Yanks, Gwen Stefani, House of Pain, Frank Zappa, Amsterdam Klezmer Band, Pa Brapad, several iterations of "The Dreidel Song," several iterations of "Hava Nagila," South Park, a dash of Chingy, Three Weissmen, Craig & Co. Alan Sherman, Pudie Tadow, and two seconds of Black Eyed Peas." In addition to not one, but TWO versions of dj BC's 2011 smash-hit, "Challahback Girl," MENORAH MASHUPS features Hanukkah re-works from like-minded mash-up artists DJ Flack, FAROFF, ATOM, and Voicedude. A seemingly newly re-upped version of MENORAH MASHUPS features 8 tracks—one for each night of Hanukkah!—as well as an extra track, for good measure, dj BC's Gwen Stefani-flipping "Challahback Girl" - Original Instrumental (A Hava Nagila Remix.) Happy Hanukkah from The Witzard, B-boys & B-girls!!!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Leonard Charles Joins Forces with The King of The Boogie Leroy Burgess for "NINE LIVES" (Wonderful Noise/From The Crate Records)

Jeremy Toy is an extremely talented singer, song-writer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer hailing from Auckland, New Zealand. Toy has an Indie-Pop/Shoegaze band called She's So Rad with his wife, Anji and also, moonlights as "Basement" Funk originator Leonard Charles. Although, he's been recording and self-releasing music as Leonard Charles for quite a few years now, his 2016 Basement Donuts album is what really first pinged on our radar; an expansive 31-track album, Basement Donuts is a stylistic re-imagining of J Dilla's magnum opus and final record, Donuts, on its 10th anniversary. Charles has since released an unofficial cover of Madlib, M.E.D. & Blu's "The Turn Up" and ALL NIGHT LONG EP with Reggie Blunt & Jellphonic, as well as one-off collaborations with fellow Kiwis, Team Dynamite and long-time Dilla affiliate, Guilty Simpson. Leonard & Guilty first teamed up for "BREAKING OVER YOU," which was premiered right here at The Witzard last year and they are currently wrapping up a proper 2019 full-length attributed to The Leonard-Simpson Duo AKA LSD. Somehow, amidst all these genre-eschewing collaborations, as well as a year-long recovery back to good health following a hit-and-run accident, has returned with "Nine Lives" alongside The King of The Boogie himself, Leroy Burgess.

An esteemed singer, song-writer, keyboard player, and producer, Leroy Burgess has spent nearly half a century meticulously "crafting and performing hits, deep cuts, and cult classics with unmatched energy, emotional fervor, and commitment to sincerity in song-craft and expression." Burgess has either performed alongside or recorded music with the likes of Black Ivory, Larry Joseph & Science, Aleem, Phreek, LOGG, The P.A. System, Universal Robot Band, Cassius, High Frequency, Bumblebee Unlimited, and countless others. "Inspired by a video of a Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) workshop with [Leroy] Burgess, [Jeremy] Toy took a chance and contacted him with a view to co-writing and recording a song together," states part of a RBMA press release. It appears as though Leroy Burgess instantly connected with a particular Leonard Charles instrumental entitled "Basement Funk Mix," which quickly morphed into "Nine Lives." Digitally released on Jeremy Toy's own From The Crate Records in conjunction with Red Bull Music Academy, Leonard Charles & Leroy Burgess' "Nine Lives" will soon be issued on 12-inch vinyl through Japanese imprint, WONDERFUL NOISE PRODUCTIONS. "Nine Lives"' Main Mix is backed by an Instrumental Mix, as well as Charles' aforementioned "Basement Funk Mix" and a cascading dance floor-ready remix provided by Frank Booker & Julien Dyne.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Diabolical Doctor Strange & Swiss Beat-maker Sauce Jacqson Join Forces As STRANGE JACQSUN for Beat Album (Dreamzone Records)

Villainous producer and founder of The Guerilla Godz crew, The Diabolical Doctor Strange AKA Solomon Strange AKA Solomon Caine, has returned with his first full-length project since 2017's The Friday Night Philosopher. This time around, Solomon Strange has joined forces with Swiss beat-maker and producer Sauce Jacqson to form STRANGE JACQSUN. The Diabolical Doctor Strange & Sauce Jacqson's STRANGE JACQSUN project has been mysteriously teased on their social media accounts for a few weeks now, with today's date, Friday, November 30th, being curiously referred to as "the third quarter of the moon phase." Honestly, there's very little to no information online concerning either Solomon Strange or Sauce Jacqson and even less regarding newly-minted STRANGE JACQSUN. Although, the bulk of Doctor Strange's scattered discography has been self-released under his own Guerilla Godz banner, as well as Canadian imprint, Makebelieve Records. Sauce Jacqson, on the other hand, has released the majority of his music on his own Neuchâtel, Switzerland-based imprint Stay Suave Music, in addition to a number of labels based all across the world... and the galaxy.

STRANGE JACQSUN is a staggering 28-song "Enlightened" Hip-Hop beat tape-style album collaboratively concocted by both Sauce Jacqson & The Diabolical Doctor Strange. "Members of the cult," AKA STRANGE JACQSUN, fittingly describe the contents of their co-produced tape as "ancient knowledges in a forgotten and forbidden language played by futuristic instruments." STRANGE JACQSUN is peppered with sparse features throughout from Guerilla Godz's own Ari Yusef & Ab Souljah, as well as L'Expert & DJ Eagle. 100 limited edition copies of STRANGE JACQSUN are currently available on cassette tape (or "Membership Stones") from Dreamzone Records, while supplies last. The Diabolical Doctor Strange & Sauce Jacqson have also, promised to make digitized copies of STRANGE JACQSUN available for "specialized libraries and erudits" because, of course they have! Below, I've included STRANGE JACQSUN's Space Release from their press-sent Space Kit because... you really just have to read this thing in full! STRANGE JACQSUN are playing an album release show with Sebb Bash at Escape 032 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland at 7:00pm on "the third quarter of the moon phase."

The work of two alchemists from back then, when the when was not, became a true quest for a whole community. Throughout ages, the quest became a cult, worshiping the many faces of the invisible huwoman. This being of light only comes in the darkest days. It happens where there is nowhere and what happens is not allowed to be spoken of. Wait for The Black Dawn and look at your reflection in the fourth face of an onyx stone, the gate will then open. Some lost souls have brought back a tape, but never could tell what didn't happen... For booking, requests, or Membership Stone, please, wait until the next Black Dawn—November 30th, 2018 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

- STRANGE JACQSUN (Space Release)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Star Slinger Returns with 20-track Sample-based Instrumental Hip-Hop Album Home Is Where We Start From (Bandcamp/Jet Jam)

Star Slinger is one of the many recording aliases of "hairy music producer/DJ" Darren Williams. He's currently residing in Ljubljana in The Republic of Slovenia (Central Europe) but originally hails from Nottingham, UK. Williams has actively been recording and releasing music as Star Slinger since 2010 and quite honestly, was one of the very first artists, I believe, I ever covered here on The Witzard. I can still vividly remember hearing Star Slinger's lushly-orchestrated Volume 1 and Remixes 2010, both released online—Bandcamp was still in its earliest stages—over the Summer of 2010; the latter, featuring unofficial Electronic/Hip-Hop remixes of Deerhunter, Small Black, Rollerskaters, Alpine, and FIVENG tracks. Over the course of the past 8-9 years, Star Slinger has either worked with, remixed, or collaborated with Blackbird Blackbird, Childish Gambino, Dawn Richard AKA D∆WN, Ellie Goulding, Kilo Kish, Lil B, Reggie B, Sam Sparro, Stunnaman (of The Pack,) Teams, and Three 6 Mafia's Juicy J & Project Pat. Star Slinger describes his music as falling somewhere in-between "the fringes of Hip Hop, Electronic, and Dance music" drawing influence from Kanye West, J Dilla, The Avalanches, Armand Van Helden, Kenny Dope, Brian Eno, and Aphex Twin. Star Slinger has released music with D∆WN & Hundred Waters on Skrillex's OWSLA imprint and was personally selected by A$AP Rocky to open all shows during his 2012 European Tour.

Earlier this year, in addition to a slew of singles and remixes, Star Slinger released a 5-track collaborative EP with Laura Penate as Stranger ThAngs, as well as an album entitled First Love Music with vocalist and song-writer SCALLY. Now, Star Slinger has returned with a 20-track album called Home Is Where We Start From, quietly released just before Thanksgiving. Upon its release, Home Is Where We Start From was made available on a Name-Your-Price basis on Star Slinger's Bandcamp page for a limited period of time. The 20 track collection was entirely produced and created in the comfort of Star Slinger's own home. "My bed was never far away, which meant that I made it really organically. It just felt like a really homey project to me; despite their being Club bangers on there, it still feels like a homey album," @starslinger wrote to The Witzard within an Instagram message. "It was made on a lot of afternoons. I would also, break up the days by jogging for an hour to podcasts and reading on my Kindle. One of the books I read on the Kindle was by psychotherapist D. W. Winnacott called Home Is Where We Start From," Star Slinger continued. For Home Is Where We Start From, Star Slinger, somehow, sampled everything from 50's vocal groups to Jazz standards to Psychedelic Rock, as well as the infamous King Krule Interview episode of The Drunken Slinger Podcast and even his my 5-year-old daughter's voice. Home Is Where We Start From is now available on Star Slinger's Bandcamp, as well as like-minded digital streaming platforms.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"BALTIMORE HIP-HOP DESTRUCTION" Group @soulcannonband Unveil Funk-tastic Self-titled Third Album (Mailing List Review)

First and foremost, major shout-out to Soul Cannon for sending out FREE Bandcamp download codes to everyone subscribed to their mailing list over the weekend. While their latest self-titled album has been on our radar for a few weeks now, we have to admit, that complimentary download code was really what it took for us to delve head first into the album just this past weekend. Now, with that out of the way, this brand spankin' new Soul Cannon album is phenomenal! Eze Jackson's Twitter page (@ezewriter) describes him as the "Frontman for @soulcannonband. Reporter for The Real News Network. Host of The Whole Bushel." Eze has been steadily making and releasing music since 2007, if not longer, and his most recent project is a string of 008 weekly Soundcloud singles dubbed #StashHouseSundays. In addition to Eze Jackson, Soul Cannon also, includes Matt Frazão on guitars/electronics, Jon Birkholz on keys/electronics, and drummer Charles Wilson. Although, Soul Cannon's most recent self-titled album still features drum fills throughout from one-time Soul Cannon drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell.

Soul Cannon self-describe their genre-eschewing sound as "Experimental/Hip-Hop (from the future)" and "BALTIMORE HIP-HOP DESTRUCTION what's up?" While Eze, Matt, Jon & Charles readily describe themselves as "93% real juice, 7% ABV, and all-natural*," obviously. I would, however, personally describe Soul Cannon's sound, as heard on Soul Cannon, at least, as something sonically similar to Rage Against The Machine, Phony Ppl, and the Beastie Boys with a bit of their own unique flair thrown in, for good measure. Just this past week, Soul Cannon partnered up with Dominican Republic-based online publication VENTS MAGAZINE to premiere the music video for "Hospital Records." "Socially, lyrically, and physically, it's always about pushing the limits with our music. Sometimes, we write things we can't play yet because we always want to do more and be better," Jon Birkholz told VENTS MAGAZINE within said video premiere. Soul Cannon's current and upcoming shows are listed on the Events section of their Facebook page. Soul Cannon's self-titled third album is now available to purchase on their Bandcamp page, as well as all reputable digital streaming platforms.

Monday, November 26, 2018

DC to Bmore: Lace Berriez & Jumbled Join Forces for 90's Boom-Bap-leaning YOU BEST NOT MISS EP (Harford & Reckord Tapes)

Lace Berriez is an emcee and producer hailing from the Northeast quadrant of Washington, DC. For musical inspiration, he readily draws from Soul, R&B, Funk, Jazz, and of course, DC-rooted Go-Go. Since 2017, Lace has self-released a staggering 5 albums and EP's, as well as countless stand-alone singles, on his own Bandcamp page. Lace Berriez's latest 7-track EP, YOU BEST NOT MISS, was produced by Baltimore-based producer and The Witzard mainstay John Bachman AKA "DJ" Jumbled. "Growing frustrated with the slow pace of return projects, Jumbled reached out to Twitter saying he needed rappers to feed beats to; Lace Berriez Responded and the email exchanges began," reads Lace & Jumbled's EP press release. Although, they've only met in-person once at a 2016 beat event called DATBEET #2, Jumbled & Lace Berriez stayed in touch online and ultimately, created this Funky little Boom-Bap-leaning EP together. It appears as though a number of music videos from the project should be coming fairly soon, as well.

Stylistically, YOU BEST NOT MISS draws from Jumbled's as-yet-to-be-fully-realized "Green Room phase," as well as 90's Boom-Bap, buttery smooth string and Soul samples, obscure vocal samples, and even Buffalo-bred Jazz-Fusion band Spyro Gyra. However, YOU BEST NOT MISS, overall, is reminiscent of Wu-Tang Clan, early Action Bronson, and Madlib & MF DOOM's MADVILLAINY's cartoony bounce; plus, if Jumbled & Lace Berriez were going for a 90's Boom-Bap-evoking sound, that's definitely been achieved here! In a year chock-full of EP's—or EP touted as full-length "albums" and vice versa—Lace Berriez & Jumbled's YOU BEST NOT MISS EP is definitely one of the strongest examples of an Extended Play, in my humble opinion. It appears as though Lace & Jumbled were already aware of this, though, as their EP press release reads in part: "the cover art was created by Jim Ventosa, in an effort to place Lace Berriez near the top of the emcee "deck" in DC." YOU BEST NOT MISS is currently available to stream or download from Lace Berriez's Bandcamp page. Limited edition cassette tapes are coming soon on Jumbled's own Harford & Reckord Tapes.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Record Store Day Black Friday: DJ Nu-Mark's "Zodiac Killah" 7-inch Feat. Method Man, Dan Ubick & Money Mark (Hot Plate/Fat Beats Records)

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving Day Weekend/Black Friday to all of our trusty readers out there and Happy Record Store Day Black Friday to my fellow crate diggers! Full disclosure: I'm pretty sure one of the first CD's I ever bought for my Walkman was Will Smith's 1997 solo debut, Big Willie Style. Regardless, it was definitely one of my earliest brushes with Hip-Hop/Rap, which ultimately, changed my life! A few of my earliest favorite Hip-Hop albums I discovered on my own were Atmosphere's Seven's Travels, Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill & Paul's Boutique, Wu-Tang Clan's Enter: The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers,) and Jurassic 5's Power In Numbers. The latter has always had a special place in my Hip-Hop-loving heart and I would soon, go on to discover DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist's heavily-bootlegged BRAINFREEZE, Chali 2na & Roc 'C's Ron Artiste' super-group, and Jurassic 5's "last" album, Feedback, released in 2006. However, after a few years apart, Akil, Chali 2na, Cut Chemist, DJ Nu-Mark, Marc 7, and Soup AKA Zaakir, decided to reunite in 2013 for a round of shows across the globe and have since unleashed a number of new singles.

Earlier this year, Cut Chemist let loose his long-awaited sophomore album, DIE CUT, Soup has re-emerged as Fullee Love with an album entitled FREE, WHITE & 21 produced by Nicholas Eaholtz AKA Nick Green of The Internet, and Chali 2na released his 10-track Instrumentality EP. DJ Nu-Mark scored a big gig as the in-house DJ for Jensen "Hot Karl" Karp & Ben Winston's The Late Late Show with James Corden spin-off, Drop The Mic. It's hosted by Wu-Tang swordsmen Method Man and Stephen Baldwin's daughter, Hailey Baldwin. DJ Nu-Mark & The Katz provide cuts between celebrity battle raps, throw to commercial breaks with his top-notch DJ skills, and created a fresh "Drop The Mic Theme Song." For the past few years, DJ Nu-Mark has been painstakingly creating and released monthly zodiac-based Zodiac Tracks, which he mixes together directly from vinyl and uploads to his Facebook page. "It was a trip to get a cold call from James Corden's office to DJ Drop The Mic with Method Man as the host. My Zodiac Tracks vinyl mixes were a big factor in [the] producers picking me for the show," DJ Nu-Mark told HIPHOPDX during a 2017 interview.

"They were familiar with my production and knew I'd be able to create the theme song. Anyone who really knows me understands how much I like comedy, so it was an easy "yes" for me," Nu-Mark continued. Now, for Record Store Day Black Friday, DJ Nu-Mark has returned with his first taste of new music since ZODIAC TRACKS Season 2; for "Zodiac Killah," Uncle Nu recruited his Drop The Mic co-star, Method Man, as well as Dan Ubick & Money Mark. Meth, of course, provides sharp-tongued rhymes, as always, somehow, touching on all 12 zodiac/astrological signs in just under 2 minutes! Dan Ubick of Breakestra, Connie Price & The Keystones, and The Lions fame provides bass, guitar, and background keys; while Money Mark—whom you might know from his work with Beastie Boys, The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs or Handsome Boy Modelling School—provides his trademark Funky fresh keys throughout "Zodiac Killah." DJ Nu-Mark & Method Man's "Zodiac Killah" is now available SOLD OUT on 7-inch vinyl through Hot Plate Records, as distributed by Fat Beats. Although, it's available digitally on all major streaming platforms with Main, Clean, Inst. & Acapella versions of "Zodiac Killah" included, as well. It appears as though Slimkid3 (The Pharcyde) & DJ Nu-Mark AKA TRDMRK are planning to unveil some sort of follow-up to 2014's Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark... Just keep an eye on UncleNu's YouTube channel on or around February 1, 2019 at 1:00pm!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Aesop Rock & TOBACCO Re-emerge As Malibu Ken & Unveil Grotesque Rob Shaw-directed Music Video for "ACID KING" (Rhymesayers Ent.)

Fresh off an extensive Fall US tour with Nine Inch Nails & The Jesus & Mary Chain in support of Black Moth Super Rainbow's latest effort, Panic Blooms, multi-instrumentalist and producer Thomas "Tom" Fec AKA TOBACCO has returned with Malibu Ken; both a collaborative effort and newly-formed rapper/producer group with long-time touring mate and world-renown emcee Aesop Rock. TOBACCO & Aesop Rock, actually, first worked together on "Dirt" from Fec's 2008 anticon CD/DVD F*cked Up Friends. Later that same year, Aes & Tom "worked together" again on a mash-up/remix project called The Hood Internet vs. Tobacco & Aesop Rock "featuring" Breeze Brewin, Cage, Mr. Lif, The Mountain Goats' frontman John Darnielle, Zaid Maxwell, Camp Lo, Rob Sonic, and El-P. The Hood Internet's Aaron Brink & Steve Reidell implemented a similar style on 2010's The Hood Internet X TOBACCO X Felt, remixing tracks from both TOBACCO's Maniac Meat with Slug & MURS' Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez, which was produced by label mate, Aesop Rock. Remarkably, both Aesop Rock & TOBACCO have, arguably, had the greatest successes of their careers, in recent years: Aes with his three collaborative 2015-17 LICE EP's with partner-in-rhyme, Homeboy Sandman and TOBACCO with 2017's Ripe & Majestic (Instrumental Rarities & Unreleased Beats) out-takes comp. and this past year with Black Moth Super Rainbow's aforementioned album, Panic Blooms.


Around September through November 2007, Aesop Rock went on "a massive, two-month North American tour," as then described by XLR8R with Rob Sonic, DJ Big Wiz, Cage, Blockhead, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and The Octopus Project. It was right around the release of Aesop's critically-acclaimed None Shall Pass (2007) as well as Black Moth Super Rainbow's Dandelion Gum, Blockhead's Uncle Tony's Coloring Book, and Rob Sonic's Sabotage Gigante. Although, F*cked Up Friends had still yet-to-be-released, one would almost assume TOBACCO & Aesop Rock would have treated their fans to a live version of "Dirt." Now, roughly 10 years later, Aesop Rock & TOBACCO have reunited to form Malibu Ken and will unleash their debut self-titled full-length on January 18, 2019 on Rhyemsayers Ent. Just yesterday afternoon, we were unknowingly treated to the first audiophinic taste of Malibu Ken by way of "psyche-warping" teaser single, "Acid King." Malibu Ken's progressively repulsive animated "Acid King" video was directed by frequent collaborator Rob Shaw with character designs/art direction from James "GUNSHO" Quigley and 2-D animation from Jesse McManus. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO Are Malibu Ken is currently available to pre-order from Rhymesayers' Fifth Element web-store in either die-cut gatefold LP, CD, and digital formats.

"TOBACCO and I have thrown around the idea of doing a project together since we first toured over a decade ago. I find his production to be something special and always wanted to see what I could bring to it. We recently found time to record some songs and MALIBU KEN was born. I brought a few stories to the table, but also, did my best to let the production dictate the subject matter throughout. We hope you like the soup... Huge love and thanks to anyone checking this music out. It means the world! Love you, @maniacmeat."

- Aesop Rock (@AesopRockWins)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

@simpsonsXcore Speaks with The Witzard On Tastefully Re-designed Punk/Hardcore & Ska Cover Homages (Interview & Spotify Playlist)

It's a fairly simple, yet effective concept: "your favorite Punk, Hardcore & Ska albums, but with four fingers." That, in fact, is the mantra of Instagram page @simpsonsXcore (formerly @MillionsOfDeadSimpsons) whose creations can also, be found on Facebook & Twitter. sXc has tastefully re-designed both classic and contemporary Punk, Hardcore & Ska albums. The Witzard has been Following @MillionsOfDeadSimpsons/ @simpsonsXcore's Instagram since roughly September 2017 and to be completely honest, it's one of our favorite accounts!

We recently had an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive interview with SimpsonsXcore, which has been lightly edited for general clarity. Make sure you Follow @simpsonsXcore's pages on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for regular updates and side-by-side comparisons. Additionally, SimpsonsXcore was kind enough to put together a last-minute 20-song Spotify playlist consisting of their favorite Punk/Hardcore selections from 2018 exclusively for The Witzard.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
The Simpsons & Futurama Die-Hard

I. What made you decide to start re-imagining Punk/Hardcore album covers and posting them on your now-defunct @MillionsOfDeadSimpsons Instagram page?

It started as a Thread on a friend of ours' Facebook Wall. It was, initially, just posting band logos on top of screen-grabs, like Homer with the Rasta beanie next to a Sublime or No Doubt logo. They started to get a little more intricate as the Thread went on and from there, the concept was born. This was only ever meant to be a small joke amongst friends hahaha!

II. How do you typically go about selecting bands/albums covers to Simpsons-ize? Once you've selected an image, how do you decide which characters or scenarios to use?

So, we only like to do albums that we actually enjoy. The first bar: is this an album we like listening to? From there, are there any puns/references that match up with the band or album name? If no clever wordplay arises, then, is there a visual gag from a famous [Simpsons] scene or meme that makes sense with the existing artwork? The albums that make sense to do get whittled down from there. There are tons of albums we love that just don't lend themselves well to this niche medium.

III. What's your relation to the Millions of Dead Simpsons Facebook page? Now, what prompted your recent name change to simpsonsXcore (@SimpsonsXcore)?

Initially, another friend of ours was involved in that aforementioned Facebook Thread. The friend made the Facebook page jokingly, after the name Millions of Dead Simpsons was thrown around, parodying Millions of Dead Posers, which was obviously, parodying Millions of Dead Cops (MDC.) We made the MDC cover with Officer Wiggum and they threw it up as the profile pic. We made an [Instagram page] under the same name because they didn't have an Instagram account, at the time.

The mission of the two pages was different, though; we were only posting our own covers, which were actual replications of existing real albums... the FB page was very much more tongue-in-cheek with lots of sh*t-posting, though, they were posting our work, too. Eventually, due to exposure through VICE/Noisey (shout-out Dan Ozzi!) Epitaph Records and bands themselves re-posting covers, both pages grew and grew. It became confusing for people who would reach out to us regarding the [Millions of Dead Simpsons] FB and visa-versa, so it was decided that a re-brand was in order. We kinda liked the idea of having a name that wasn't a direct reference to an existing entity, so we changed!

IV. Now, how do you design each @SimpsonsXcore cover... did I see you typically do them right on your iPhone 7?

Not typically, exclusively! Hahaha, we use a suite of apps on an iPhone 7S. Most are free, one costs us about $5.00 a month. We've had to get creative in obtaining some of the things we want... but the specific apps we use are a little secret, hahaha. They're all on The App Store, if anyone wants to give this a go, they should play around and find ones that work for them!

V. What type of feedback have you received thus far from the participating bands, artists, or labels?

Feedback has been amazing! Bands we've looked up to for years have reached out to say "thanks." One mentioned that this was equivalent to getting a Weird Al parody of one of their songs, which is like the ultimate compliment. Knowing that not only music fans are enjoying this, but the musicians themselves, as well... it's just such a good feeling. We never expected to get here, but want to keep doing it as long as everyone is having fun.

VI. Thus far, which album cover has been the most difficult to Simpsons-ify? How about the easiest to re-design, so far?

A few have definitely been more challenging. The Magrudergrind cover was certainly ambitious, at the time. Someday, we'll probably revamp some of the older ones, as our standards have gotten a bit higher, as we've gone along. The Blood for Blood cover also, caused us to have to adapt and think outside of the box. The most rewarding one to pull off (and one we feel, is under-rated) is Minutemen's Double Nickels On The Dime with Otto on the cover. The easiest ones to pull off are generally, the ones that are mostly text-based, like Descendents or Man Is The Bastard, though, sometimes, tracking down just the right font is the hardest part.

VII. How did your newly-enacted monthly Instagram FREE album give-album contest in collaboration with Epitaph/Hellcat Records start? I would imagine it's pretty great to have the label(s)' support!

Epitaph reached out to us, after re-posting a few things. They've been great! We started the contests back in April or May and are slated to run through the end of the year. They had us tour their HQ last time we were in LA and have been very supportive. Shout-out to Matt & Brandon! They're the ones who actually ship the records out to each month's winner! They've been massive, in terms of our audience growth.

VIII. What we're some of your personal favorite Punk/Hardcore releases of 2018? Have you SimpsonsXcore-ized any of them?

Gouge Away, Birds In Row, F*cked Up, IDLES, Drug Church, Culture Abuse, Frontierer, and American Nightmare have put out some of our favorite releases of the year and we've covered a few of them! We try to keep it a good mix between contemporary releases and classic stalwarts.

IX. Are you currently working on any "top-secret" SimpsonsXcore-centric art or collaborative projects?

We have two more Epitaph give-aways this year. We'll just have to wait and see what 2019 has in store for us! We'd definitely like to do some more T-shirts.

X. Who were your personal favorite musical guests on past episodes of The Simpsons? What Punk/Hardcore acts would you, ideally, like to see animated into the show?

To be honest, we've been watching recent seasons almost out of obligation, but there haven't been many stand-outs recently, in terms of musical guests. There are numerous acts it would be fun to see in the show—it was great getting a quick Mighty Mighty Bosstones cameo in the Boston episode a few seasons back—but it's almost better, if that doesn't come to pass; leaves more room for us to bring those cross-overs to life ourselves. We'll see what happens, though, with Simpsons becoming a Disney [intellectual property] now. 🍩