Monday, February 27, 2017

Dr. Quandary, Humpasaur Jones & Louis Mackey Announce World Around Records Are Closing "Digital Doors" with Label-spanning We Are World Around Vol. 6 (Comp. Breakdown Part I)

I'm currently working on ironing out the fine details for a premier of a Zilla Rocca remix of CURTA's "Rap Trope Questionnaire" (or CURTA ZR remix), which should be making its digital debut here at The Witzard shortly. While emailing back and forth with Zilla, Jake & Brent, Zilla nonchalantly mentioned he had a track on a compilation released by "the guys from this label I rocked with for a while, World Around Records;" said compilation was uploaded just one day prior on Valentine's Day and was fittingly titled, We Are World Around Vol. 6. Zilla further detailed that "World Around was based out of New England and put out some good, spacey East Coast Art-House records over the years, if you're not familiar with them" within his initial email. As a matter of fact, the deeper I dug into We Are World Around Vol. 6 (WAWA V6, for short), I realized that while I hadn't previously heard of the label, I previously had worked with a number of the artists on their latest compilation: DJ Manipulator, Thirtyseven aka Hump Jones aka Justin Bolard—one of World Around's Founders, Es-K, who recently released Building Bridges with General Steele, Zilla Rocca affiliate Curly Castro, and of course, Zilla himself.

I decided to email a handful of the artists I had previously worked with, in an attempt to get a few artist statements for some sort of planned label feature... which quickly turned into the massive label-spanning piece you now see plastered across this space in two parts. It's really been a true pleasure getting to know World Around Records' Founders Dr. Quandary (Kyle Tierce), Thirtyseven/Hump Jones (Justin Boland), and long-time label mate Louis Mackey (Michael Raso), who took over Tierce's duties as Creative Director when he left in 2012 due to personal and health-related reasons. "After a solid decade-long run, with its remaining artists focusing on their own personal endeavors, World Around closed its digital doors at the end of 2016, leaving behind an archive of over forty albums, EP's, and compilations, as well as a number of singles and side-projects, many of which are still free to download." It's been great getting to know Kyle, Justin, Michael, and their crew of extremely talented artists and while it's sad to hear that World Around is shutting its digital doors, it's amazing to hear one last collective hurrah across We Are World Around Vol. 6. I'm looking forward to see and hear what this talented batch of of rappers, producers, musicians, and artists have in store for the incredibly unsuspecting world next!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Crate-diggin' Sonic Tour Guide

1. Places&Spaces "Alive"

"Places&Spaces is a new group by myself and Zooki, a long time friend. We made our first song together in around 1993-1995. Can't even remember. But for the last 20 years, we haven't done anything together and lost contact. We met again together in 2016 at some beat-making sessions run by a mutual friend for another project that's hopefully, to be released sooner or later. We decided then, to make some beats together under the name Places&Spaces; the name comes from the Donald Byrd album with the same name, which we both really love. So, here we are now, with our first release on the final [We Are World Around] compilation. We have already about 30 beats ready and we have planned to release these in the coming months.

Here are some links about our past, when Zooki and I first worked together in 1993 and 1995. Back then, we were in a group called 3TP (short for Three Tree Posse). By the way, the raps are in Swiss-German."

- Patric (Naturetone)

2. Stypes "Act2"

"Beat for the comp. was produced by incise... think our first song over a Quandary beat was 2008, "A Love Supreme." I rock my World Around T-shirt regularly. One of my favorite rappers is Louis Mackey."

- Aaron "StereoAaron" Curran

3. Daimyo "Souvenir"

"'Souvenir" was a sort of musical anomaly for me. It came out of nowhere and was made quickly; one sitting, to be exact. It popped into existence about two years ago, during a brief creative sprint in which I also made another couple of tracks, "Harmack" and "Lament." As of late, I haven't been making beats as much as I probably should, so it's quite rare when a sprint like that happens. I ended up forwarding it to Steph Pockets and we drafted a rough take with her vocals. Unfortunately, nothin' ever happened with the draft and it still hangs in the balance."

- Daimyo

4. Dr. Quandary "Mosaic Chamber" feat. Curly Castro, Thirtyseven & DJ Manipulator

"This is one of those songs that went through a half-dozen iterations before it made it out. I think I made the first version back in 2011 or 2012? The samples and the vibe were totally different when I started. I revisited it for a project I was working on in 2015 and passed it to [Curly] Castro and Thirtyseven, who I knew had wanted to work on something together for awhile. They both killed it, but once I had their vocals in the track, I decided I hated the beat, [so I] totally scrapped it and built up a new one from scratch. It still felt like there was a little something missing, so I hit up DJ Manipulator to round it out with a scratch chorus. Since it never really had an official title, Thirtyseven randomly christened it "Mosaic Chamber" and the rest is history. The project it was originally slated for got caught up in production Hell, so rather than let such a dope cut gather dust, I thought the World Around comp. would be a perfect place for it."

- Dr. Quandary (Kyle Tierce)

"Well, the song was a long time bucket list goal, of working with ThirtySeven aka Humpasaur Jones aka Rorschach's Mask's favorite rapper. I have always wanted to cut a record with the pharaoh, and He & Quandry & World Around Records made it happen. I was drawn to [World Around] Records initially by their specific aesthetic. Any underground operation who holds themselves accountable artwork-wise, is an operation after my own heart. Memetic Supply Co. has worked on my partner-in-crime's (Zilla Rocca) releases, as well as my own. And I am forever grateful. Salute to World Around Records for helping expand a Brother's platform and for helping extinguish some of my Hip-Hop Life goals. Intelligence is not a Handicap. And World Around takes that phrase as self-evident. Rest in Freedom, WA."

- Curly Castro

"'Mosaic Chamber" is just an old-fashioned banger, but that's been my main interest lately. I've needed to work with Curly Castro for a long time and hope to do more in the future—dude is one-of-a-kind. Been a DJ Manipulator fan for a while, too. He's got a great production approach, in addition to the turntable skills. I haven't really processed World Around, so I don't have any final statement on it. The fact it even happened is still sufficiently surprising, I can't even process the fact it's over yet. We were doomed, it was stupid, and I had a great f**king time!"

- Thirtyseven/Hump Jones (Justin Boland)

"How I got involved: Quandary is a real good friend of mine. Aside from being a dope producer, he’s one of the best graphic designers of all time. He’s done a lot of album art for me and we always keep in touch. A while back, he sent me the track and asked me to bless it with some cuts, so I had to do it for my homie. The cuts came out dope... I met Quandary through Zilla [Rocca]. I saw the artwork he did for one of Zilla's singles and fell in love with his work."

- DJ Manipulator

"Recorded Thirtyseven's [vocals] the night after me and him attempted suicide, unintentionally, by weapon's grade champagne. I had just landed a new job that paid considerably more and wasn't squeamish about dropping money on fun. The sum total of him delivering that verse and one other we recorded that day made up the bulk of us being vertical that day."

- Louis Mackey (Michael Raso)

5. Penumbra "Funk Break"

"As far as the track itself... my track was #5... "Funk Break." As with most of my beats, this was thrown together in the wee hours of the morning. It was originally intended to be used be a crew of B-boys. They do live shows on Church Street in Burlington, VT and they were going to use it as part of their show, so I wanted to create something that reminded me of an old school breakbeat and this is what I cooked up. This is definitely a departure from my normal production style, but I enjoy getting out of my comfort zone and producing things that aren't quite so predictable. The mix is a little rough, but I am not a professional engineer, nor am I a perfectionist, so everything I do is a little rough. I've come to sorta embrace that as my trademark. I've been doing production work for 8-9 years, but really only got in to mixing in the last 3-4 years and it has certainly been an adventure opening up that can of worms. Anyway... it has been an absolute honor and a pleasure getting to know these guys and having them welcome me in to their fold. It's a great feeling after years of hard work to get some recognition from other producers and artists that you look up to so... I am very pleased to be featured on the farewell compilation."

- Penumbra (Caleb Teske)

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO CONTINUE READING PART II OF THE WITZARD'S EXCLUSIVE WE ARE WORLD AROUND (VOL. 6) COMP. BREAKDOWN featuring words and insight from Dr. Quandary & Louis Mackey (Sword & Pine), Zilla Rocca, Waldo from Cincinnati, Es-K, Adam Kadmon, and Louis Mackey with an introduction from former Creative Director, Co-founder, and beat-maker Kyle Tierce (Quandary). We Are World Around Vol. 6 now available for unlimited streaming and download at Bandcamp!

Dr. Quandary, Humpasaur Jones & Louis Mackey Announce World Around Records Are Closing "Digital Doors" with Label-spanning We Are World Around Vol. 6 (Comp. Breakdown Part II)

Creative Director Kyle Tierce (Dr. Quandary) with some final words on World Around Records: "One of the things we had always really enjoyed putting together, and which had also always been hugely successful, was our annual We Are World Around compilation series. Starting in 2010, we made it a tradition to kick off each new year by releasing a collection of new material from our roster and our extended family. We'd invite the whole gang, as well as whoever else we might be digging or working with at the time, to throw down some exclusive music, which we'd then weave together to create a tracklist. It was always amazing how well they would come together—in hindsight, they always sounded pretty polished and cohesive, even though they weren't pre-planned in terms of theme or whatever.

We Are World Around, Vol. 6 wasn't any different. Within a couple days of emailing everyone, we had already received something like seven tracks, so we were well on our way to having a full compilation on our hands. One of my favorite things about this one, in particular, is how well it reflects the growth and history of World Around. The long-time roster members are there; old friends like Stypes and Curly Castro showed up; we had appearances from newer friends like Penumbra, Es-K, and DJ Manipulator and on top of all [that], you can see old faces moving in new directions, like with Naturetone's new production duo Places&Spaces. Overall, I think everyone came entirely correct and the compilation plays like a dream. One thing I had really hoped for when we decided to shut down this decade-long experiment in Hip-Hop weirdness was that we'd be able to go out on a high note and I think we can safely say we did."

6. Sword & Pine "Smile When You See Me"

"Louis Mackey and I have dabbled with co-producing tracks for awhile now, but we had only ever put out two collaborative beats—the double-single "White Nights & Black Days." I have a folder full of half-finished stuff he's passed on to me, so for the compilation I decided to pull out one of those and see if I could build a full-length track with it. I down-pitched his original samples, chopped some new pieces, wrote a bass part, added some additional drums, layers and vocals, [and] then, structured it from there. I'm really happy with how it came together. "Sword & Pine" is a name we've kind of bandied about for years unofficially (it's a Twin Peaks reference)—we decided to bust it out on this, so we could start separating our instrumental stuff from the material we're releasing as Louis Mackey & Dr. Quandary, where he raps and I make the beats."

- Dr. Quandary (Kyle Tierce)

"I sent the stems of this to [Quandary] a while ago. I couldn’t get the tempo or the resolution right. He lowered the tempo, re-arranged the sh*t out of it, added vocals layers, more samples, harder percussion, and now, you have what you hear. One of my favorite tracks on the album and I can hardly lay claim to a bulk of the production."

- Louis Mackey (Michael Raso)

7. Zilla Rocca "Alive & Paid" feat. Nex Millen

"I made that beat probably 10 years ago as a remix for Nas' "Hate Me Now." Everyone who ever heard the remix, wanted that beat for themselves—at least two other rappers did full songs to it. However, I too being a territorial rapper/producer, wanted a piece of the action, so I hopped on it and asked Nex Millen, my long-time homie from Philly, who is a DJ/producer/emcee, as well, to dice up Nas' vocal for the hook to keep the vibe going from my original remix. When Quandary reached out to me for a submission to be included in the final World Around compilation, I thought "Alive & Paid" would be dope because it's a bit aggressive and braggadocious. My previous contributions to World Around compilations were usually contemplative and subdued, so I thought it would be better to go out with a bang!"

- Zilla Rocca

8. Waldo from Cincinnati "Walk Tall"

"Well, World Around reached out to me a while back about doing a song or two with them, actually it was Kyle, and so we did a track—not even sure which one. Then, we did a little remix for a [Humpasaur Jones] and Louis Mackey track that turned out really dope. I ended up asking if they'd carry an EP I was working on called Yonder Works (And Then Some), which they obliged. They did artwork, mastering, all that Jazz. So, when they asked if I'd do a track for the final comps. of course, I agreed. Awesome dudes over there. They genuinely just want to help artists get some more recognition. I already had the track made, but the Jazzy, fuzzy tone of it kind of fit what we'd done in the past and it seemed like a nice, positive-sounding beat to use as a send-off. So... there it is."

- Waldo from Cincinnati (Scott Gafvert)

9. Es-K "Funnel Cake"

"This beat, "Funnel Cake," was made after a drive back from one of my NYC music trips. I had thrown in one of my favorite Beastie Boys CD's, Paul's Boutique and one thing that always catches my ears with that CD is the fact that there are so many changes in the drum sounds throughout the beats. This one isn't so drastic, but it's from a batch of tracks I did where the verses and hooks etc. have different drum sounds or breaks being used. Another one from that same night is: "DecibLoops" from Millennium Jazz Music's Take 5.2 with Dave Brubeck remix comp. and you can hear I threw in the Beastie Boys sample shout out haha. Thanks again for the support!"

- Es-K (Robert Ronci)

10. Adam Kadmon "Love You"

"What I got from Kadmon: "Haha, [well] thanks, I'm glad you (World Around) will put it out there for those weirdos even in a weird community—I think that's romantic. Makes me smile." He went on to comment that he's always liked the mellow attitude we have in respecting his approach to music: "I love the loose track format most, I've never loved Hip-Hop more than exchanging loose tracks.'"

- Adam Kadmon, via Michael (Louis Mackey)

"Re: Kadmon,
The dude is a legit mystery. Lou [Mackey] is probably in touch with him the most regularly and even that is Hella sporadic. Every now and then, he'll send us a whole bunch of songs, running the gamut from instrumental piano pieces to self-harmonized Doo-Wop quartets to Lo-fi Hip-Hop masterpieces, most of them never more than two minutes long. When we reached out to him about the compilation, he hit us back with about a dozen songs—as usual, they were all dope, bizarre, and experimental. We chose "Love You" because it's kind of a rarity for Kadmon to work with samples these days and it was the best fit for the overall vibe that was developing for the compilation. That's about all I can tell you."

- Dr. Quandary (Kyle Tierce) on Kadmon

11. Louis Mackey & Elder Orange "Half-Forgotten Memories"

"Matt [Fire aka Elder Orange] hit me with the parts of this (he’s the real architect of the piece) and I laid the drums over it. It’s on some Piero Umiliani, Amalfi Coast, only-see-the-beauty-in-a-terrifying-world type steez. In my opinion, it sits in your brain like a glass of Veuve."

- Louis Mackey (Michael Raso)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Edmonton's 2009 Poet Laureate, Rapper-producer & Writer Cadence Weapon Returns with Ferocious First Single In Four Years, KAYTRANADA-produced "My Crew (Wooo)" [eOne Music Canada]

"There's a sense of personal freedom that's unique to Montreal and "My Crew (Woooo)" is a representation of that feeling... It's a song about defying the labels that people try to place on artists. Is it Underground? Mainstream? Conscious? Trap? Who cares, as long as it sounds dope," rapper-producer, acclaimed writer, and Edmonton's 2009 Poet Laureate Roland "Rollie" Pemberton (Cadence Weapon) wrote within a recent statement sent to EXCLAIM! Cadence Weapon is finally back in full form, after taking a nearly 5-year break following his last full-length album, 2012 Polaris Music Prize-nominated Hope In Dirt City. Pemberton made a few short-lived attempts at a proper comeback: first, with 2013 Jarrell Perry-assisted non-album single "When It's Real" and then, seemingly teased a temporary re-branding as "Rollie" throughout 2015 with Summer Cool Music Two comp. submission "Come See Me" and a featured appearance on "Deadline" from Techno-House producer Robert Robert's Not Self-Titled EP alongside Félix Noé. It appears as though, mere hours before unveiling KAYTRANADA-produced "My Crew (Wooo)" Thursday afternoon, Cadence Weapon logged into Genius to personally break down a few of his more complex, multi-layered lyrical schemes.

I personally enjoy this particular line and accompanying lyrical break-down best, so far: "Acting like Beefcake Brutus when typing on your computer" [Since the advent of The Internet, trolls and creeps have hidden behind a veil of anonymity to transform into Internet Gangsters and talk a bunch of sh*t online. Beefcake Brutus is an old school WWF wrestler. No matter what someone says in the comment section, it's unlikely that your average troll looks anything like Beefcake Brutus behind their computer.] To help celebrate the release of his first single in some four years, Cadence Weapon additionally uploaded a fittingly-titled My Crew (Wooo) Spotify Playlist showcasing, as he described, "a few of my favorite songs of the moment, along with my new single "My Crew (Wooo)'" including Future, 2 Chainz, Vince Staples, Kodak Black, Wiley, and Rae Sremmurd, along with 20 additional hand-selected tracks. It appears as though Cadence Weapon is still actively working on his proper follow-up to Hope In Dirt City, which he described as "very in-your-face [Super] Rap" to EXCLAIM! very early on in his creative process back in May 2013. I reached out to Cadence Weapon via Soundcloud Messager about a month ago, who personally told me he had "just finished making a remix for a Canadian Pop artist and I've nearly finished a new album, which will definitely come out sometime this year!"

Thursday, February 23, 2017

3 Feet High & Rising: Jazz Pianist & Beat-maker Kiefer Evokes Herbie Hancock, J Dilla & Vince Guaraldi On Debut Sinlge, "Kickinit Alone" (Stones Throw/LEAVING RECORDS)

"Californian keyboardist and beat-maker Kiefer (birth name Kiefer Shackelford) drops his debut LP with enough Jazz piano chops to transform LA's Low End Theory into a smokey speakeasy. Catch Kiefer crushing the stage NOW in the touring Mndsgn LIVE trio (Ringgo, Swarvy & Kiefer). Kickinit Alone is available now exclusively through our partners at Stones Throw Records. World-wide digital and cassette release March 3rd, 2017," reads an album-announcing statement uploaded to LEAVING RECORDS' on-site blog Wednesday. Kiefer's only prior studio appearances were on LEAVING label mate Swarvy's "Spam Grease" from his Electronic/Soul-Funk album Elderberry and "Akasha (Piano)" from Mndsgn & Nanna B's collaborative Akasha 7-inch from Stones Throw & LEAVING RECORDS sister label, Akashik Records & Tapes.

Along with the album release announcement, Kiefer unleashed title track, "Kickinit Alone," which in my humble opinion, sounds something like a classic Vince Guaraldi Peanuts composition with Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock on keys and an MPC breakbeat compliments of J Dilla; ahead of Kickinit Alone's album announcement, LEAVING RECORDS previously uploaded an additional Prince title-evoking teaser track, "U R What U Repeatedly Do." Kiefer's personal Soundcloud page included roughly 20-30 song sketches and demos about two weeks ago, but has now been reduced to a mere 10-track assortment, which still offers a unique view into the keyboard-playing beat-maker's mind during the album-making process. Kickinit Alone is currently available for pre-order on vinyl and digital download from Stones Throw with vinyl pre-orders expected to ship by May 5th. Kickinit Alone, however, will become available digitally and on cassette next Friday, March 3rd—including a LEAVING RECORDS "cassette-exclusive hidden bonus bootleg Jazz track."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Height Keech Announces Brooding New Album MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN Revamped from Unending Blaze, Vol. 1 EP & Unleashes "DEAD RIDER RIDE ON" Single (Cold Rhymes Records)

"Mind Moves The Mountain is the eleventh album from Baltimore's Height Keech. Reflecting on 17 years of DIY touring, the record asks what happens when your dreams lead you into parts unknown; what's down in the lonesome valley from the Folk songs? What happens when you venture out there and never come back?" Baltimore rapper-producer Dan "Height" Keech cryptically wrote within a recent emailed statement. Mind Moves The Mountain is actually parts 1-3 of a planned and since-abandoned EP trilogy, which started with Height's Unending Blaze, Vol. 1 EP and an accompanying nation-wide tour, which was released at the top of 2016. "After one EP and one tour, I realized this was all wrong. I sold out of my small run of CD's quickly (which is a good thing), but I sensed that my concept of a EP trilogy hadn't really made a dent in people's minds. I got this feeling that I was going to go in circles (literally and figuratively) to do this whole thing two more times—burning up money and time and mileage in the process—and that I would end up right back where I started," Height continued. Unending Blaze, Vol. 1 and its two abandoned companion EP's have since been fully re-envisioned into a cohesive "vinyl full-length," which is fittingly titled after Unending Blaze's lead-off track, "Mind Moves The Mountain."

Just this past Monday, Stereogum premiered the first official single, "Dead Rider Ride On," from Height Keech's newly-announced Mind Moves The Mountain—this excluding Unending Blaze, Vol. 1 EP/album tracks "Mind Moves The Mountain," "Gold Rush," "I'm Sure (Lights On)," and "Do The Always Change." Mind Moves The Mountain will be released on Height's own Cold Rhymes Records this upcoming April 25th; Bandcamp digital pre-orders come with an immediate download of "Dead Rider Ride On" and "VINYL PRE-ORDERS COME WITH A DOWNLOAD CODE FOR THE TOP-SECRET STRANGE LOOKS BONUS EP," as well as "Dead Rider Ride On" digitally. It's also worth noting that in addition to his musical output, Height runs a monthly podcast called Height Zone World, wherein he interviews and chats with fellow rappers, producers, and rising artists. New Height Zone World episodes are uploaded every Monday and generally include awesome Golden Age Hip-Hop album cover-evoking artwork designed by self-proclaimed "1/4 Amish cartoonist" Mike Riley (@itastesound). Height Zone World Episode 101 coincidentally, features Height chatting with recent The Witzard interview subject Darko The Super and his partner-in-rhyme, ialive about their forthcoming Return 2 The Hell Hole Store. I have to admit, Height sent me an advanced copy of Mind Moves The Mountain and I've only sat with it for a few days... but man, is it one brooding, cohesive album!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Jumbled & Dwell (Bully Preston) Unleash Family Guy-sampling "Bully Kong" Ahead of ROTTEN TONAL ANGER CLINT.'S 40TH BDAY BASH! at Baltimore's The Sidebar (Friday 2/24 at 9:30pm)

"Are you havin' a bully day? I'm havin' a bully day! Is everyone havin' a bully day? Bully! Bully! Yes, bully!" Peter Griffin's great-grandfather Turn of The Century Take On All-Comers Griffin proclaimed during a boxing match with a kangaroo within a 2007 Family Guy episode titled The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou. John "Jumbled" Bachman, Baltimore engineering teacher by day and cartoon-loving beatsmith by night recently utilized the aforementioned bit of Family Guy-culled dialogue and expertly turned it into the introductory sample for "Bully Kong" from his newly-minted rapper-producer group, Bully Preston with long-time collaborator Dwell. "Bully Kong"—billed as "[the] new single from the Bully Preston project"—serves as the second release from Bully Preston, preceded by fittingly-titled "Bang The Bongo" from Jumbled's recent Action Shots EP; Jumbled & Dwell first worked together on Harford and Reckord #002 Keep Diggin' (2009) on which Dwell recorded, mix, and even rhymed on "8 Million Stories." Dwell then went on to appeared on "You Already Know" from Monster Jam, Napalm Def's "Underground" and "If You're Feeling Me (Then Follow Me)" Live from Our Only Escape Vol. 1, "Give Praise" from Our Only Escape Vol. 2, "Train of Thought" with salk. from [I wish it was longer], and a mysterious 2011 Pre-Bully, BULLY Track, "'llatio single."

Jumbled additionally urged me to actively spread the word that there were two more note-worthy singles from Baltimore artists released Monday, Feb. 20th in tandem with "Bully Kong:" Height Keech's Stereogum-premiered "Dead Rider Ride On" from his forthcoming MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN and Drew Scott's self-produced "Porcelain" featuring fellow Baltimoreans Hemlock Ernst AKA Future Islands frontman Sam Herring, Eze Jackson, and 83cutlass. It appears as though some sort of proper Jumbled-helmed Bully Preston release is currently in-the-works or nearing release—be it a mixtape, EP, or full-length album. "Bully Kong" was unleashed just in time to whet fans' appetites who might be considering attending "ROTTEN TONAL ANGER 40TH BDAY BASH! come celebrate 40 years of clint's life, failures & f**k-ups!" this upcoming Friday, Feb. 24th at The Sidebar in Baltimore. It's being billed as "grindcore and beats and rhymes" from local favorites JSAKABITB, Bumfeeder, Drugs of Faith, Neck Breather, Durian, Castration Rite, and a Bully Preston-centric headlining set from Jumbled, Dwell & salk. (Clint himself). Anyone interested in potentially attending Clint's 40th Bday Show have been asked to RSVP on John Bachman's Facebook Event page, readily invite their closest friends and mortal enemies, and are urged to arrive at The Sidebar prior to the show's 9:30pm start time for a fun-filled night of Grind/Metal, Grindcore, Powerviolence, Bmore Hip-Hop, and birthday festivities at 218 E. Lexington Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Witzard Premier: Nashville-based Acoustic/Alternative Rock Duo Heatseaker's "Keeping Secrets" Music Video (Bree Lefler & Shannon McArthur)

"'Keeping Secrets" is actually one of our favorite songs from this project. The lyrics portray the struggle of being in a toxic relationship and trying to come to terms with that reality and let go. Our goal was to use the stripped down version of this song to really draw the listener in on a deep level. Needless to say, we’re both so exited to finally be releasing this!" Heatseaker wrote within a recent emailed statement; one half of Heatseaker, Bree Lefler, wrote to me after I published a review of The Mountain Goats' frontman John Darnielle's "The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All The Other Jedi & Eats Their Bones," which was jokingly written (and ultimately, released) following a lengthy Twitter conversation with Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. Lefler is joined by seasoned singer/song-writer Shannon McArthur. Bree Lefler and McArthur first met when he co-produced her 2015 Bree Lefler EP along with Aaron Sprinkle and she later went on to open for Shannon's band, The Riflery at venues such as New York's Pianos NYC.

Bree Lefler then moved from Colorado down to Nashville this past summer, wherein she quickly re-connected with McArthur and they collectively decided to "[take] on the endeavor of creating an acoustic duo with a unique Alternative Rock sound"—hence, forming Heatseaker. Bree Lefler told me that she produces all of the music videos for Heatseaker and her partner Shannon produces all of the audio; "Keeping Secrets," which we're exclusively premiering here at The Witzard, is Heatseaker's third release from a planned EP/album. "Keeping Secrets'" music video, like its recent predecessors, was produced by Bree Lefler with additional audio production handled by Shannon McArthur. Lefler filmed Heatseaker's "Keeping Secrets" music video this past winter within Nashville's Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway and cited some of their greatest sources of inspiration as Dashboard Confessional, Augustana, Coldplay, and Copeland. It was preceded by ALT DIALOGUE-debuted "Battle" and Music Creates Us-hosted "Yet," all of which will likely end up re-appearing on Heatseaker's forthcoming debut release.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Parquet Courts & Bun B Unleash Perfectly Grimy Indie Rock-Rap "Captive of The Sun" Remix White Label 12-inch with DJ OG Ron C & DJ Candlestick B-side Edit (Rough Trade Records)

"I was riding in my friend Drew's black Honda Civic down Major Drive, past the soccer fields in Beaumont, and he was playing UGK's Ridin' Dirty, which I recall as an enlightening moment. It was the first time I had heard the Underground Kingz (UGK) on CD, or any Houston Rap that wasn't on the radio. I experienced a true epiphany, realizing the beauty at the core of Houston Rap music... Not long after that car ride, I bought Best of UGK (2003) at Best Buy. The opening track, "One Day," samples The Isley Brothers' "Ain't Been Good to You." The hook is: "one day you're here and then, you're gone." When it's slow like syrup, it sticks with you." Parquet Courts (sometimes Parkay Quarts and PCPC) frontman Austin Brown is a "Big Money" Texas native himself, who over the years, has made his love and admiration for Houston Rap pretty apparent; Brown even penned a piece for Talkhouse about Houston Rap—"a 260-page book of color photos by Peter Beste and oral histories collected by Lance Scott Walker, featuring faces and voices from all over the Houston Rap community: rappers, DJ's, producers, business people, and family members. It's an endearing account of a previously unexposed history, of an outsider art that threaded its way into popular Rap music, but never got mainstream recognition."

Austin Brown now lives in New York along with his fellow Parquet Courts bandmates Andrew Savage, Sean Yeaton, and Max Savage, who have released five full-lengths, two EP's, Live at Third Man Records, and countless side projects since initially forming in 2011. Parquet Courts' latest and arguably, most critically-acclaimed album, Human Performance was issued last April on Rough Trade. It even went as far as to receive a 2017 GRAMMY Awards nomination for Best Recording Package, which it ultimately ended up losing to David Bowie's final RCA/Columbia Records album, Blackstar (★). Parquet Courts, along with members of PC Worship and Eaters, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert one fateful night in July 2016 to perform Human Performance stand-out "Captive of The Sun;" albeit, a slightly beefed up and slowed down rendition with an appended verse from UGK founder and Houston Rap legend, Bun B. It appeared as though all involved had a genuine good time and it was said that Bun B even became a Parquet Courts fan, after being introduced to their music by Nardwuar The Human Serviette at a DJ Khaled show, of all places!

Austin Brown later made reference to "Captive of The Sun" (Remix)'s distant lineage to Rap-Rock during a Beats 1 interview with Matt Wilkinson: "Rap music and Rock music don't have a great history of working well together. There have been a lot of failures on the way to combining Rap and Rock. But this was, I feel, a really great combination and everything worked really well"—seemingly making reference to often lauded late 90's Rap-Rock compilations, like Judgement Night Soundtarck and Loud Rocks! Parquet Courts & Bun B's long-rumored "Captive of The Sun" (Remix) was finally released on Rough Trade today, Friday, Feb. 17th. Its white label 12-inch version is additionally backed with a Chopped Not Slopped Remix by legendary Houston DJ's OG Ron C & Candlestick. Parquet Courts' frontman Austin Brown even compiled a "Nice & Slow" Spotify playlist, to celebrate its proper wide release—under the guise of Young Doc Gooden—showcasing 15 of his personal favorite late 90's-early 2000's Houston Rap selections.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Anderson.Paak & Knxwledge Make Their Late Night TV Debut As Nxworries with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson-assisted "What More Can I Say?" Performance Video (The Tonight Show)

"Following the release of their debut album YES LAWD! in October, Nxworries makes their TV debut with a live performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night. The duo [performed] their song, "What More Can I Say?" off of YES LAWD! backed by a string quartet arranged by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. The performance can be viewed online on NBC's website now," reads a fragmented chuck of a Wednesday morning press release I received from Duncan Will at Orienteer (formerly Liberal Arts and Life or Death PR). Anderson.Paak & Knxwledge made their collective late night TV debut on a special Valentine's Day episode of The Tonight Show alongside Ice Cube's Fist Fight co-star Charlie Day and socialite Kendall Jenner. I have to admit, "What More Can I Say?" was entirely unlike anything I had ever previously seen on late night TV; playing out more like a live-shot music video than your run-of-the-mill pre-recorded late night performance. Anderson.Paak started out sprawled across a living room-esque couch in what very well could have been a pair of pajamas, while an unknown female stomped on stage and swiftly threw a pair of panties (seemingly not hers) onto his chest. She begrudgingly sits down alongside .Paak on the couch as Knxwledge begins to artfully build "What More Can I Say?'"s back-beat on an MPC anchored by The Notations' similarly-titled 1973 CRA Records single, "What More Can I Say?" backed by a Miguel Atwood-Ferguson-helmed string section seated behind the elaborate scene.

Not even a mere minute into Nxworries' riveting performance, a second white-knuckled woman (maybe the owner of said panties) rapidly marches her way in and throws a drink right into Anderson.Paak's face. He adamantly attempts to sing his way back into their good graces for the remainder of "What More Can I Say?" to no avail—until Knxwledge rises from his chair, hands each woman a red long-stemmed rose, and saunters off into the distance with both of them! Anderson.Paak remains on the couch head in hands, seemingly befuddled, and doesn't even manage to break character, as Jimmy Fallon excitedly announces, "YOOOOOOOO, Nxworries! YES LAWD! is available now," amidst a ripping and roaring crowd. Knxwledge's latest Hip-Hop standard-remixing release, WT​.​PRT10​.​8_ is currently available for streaming and downloading on his personal Bandcamp page, along with 78 additional like-minded releases; Anderson.Paak, fresh off a politically-charged 2017 GRAMMY's performance with A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes & Consequence, recently announced a proper full-length with his trusty backing band, The Free Nationals "droppin'" at an unspecified date later this year. Anderson.Paak & The Free Nationals are currently preparing to head out Bruno Mars' gargantuan 24K Magic Tour opening for 33 of a whopping 85 continent-spanning dates between 03.28-06.15.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"High School Hero" Darko The Super Announces Second Album of 2017, Rock Sample-based Apocalyptic Bastard & Already Dead Tapes Pre-order (The Witzard Interview)

Just about two months ago, my friend and frequent collaborator Darko The Super sent me an early Ruff Draft of his upcoming Rock sample-based album, Apocalyptic Bastard. I must say, it's a surprisingly accessible and dare I say, commercial album from the charismatic rapper-producer who released a whopping 10 full-length albums throughout the course of 2016. Apocalyptic Bastard contains samples and interpolations culled from the likes of Twisted Sister, Loverboy, Tears for Fears, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Slaves, They Might Be Giants, Steve Miller Band, Men Without Hats, Wheatus, and Comfort Food, in addition to countless others, and originals from All These Fingers and BLKrKRT; to the best of my knowledge, since December, it's been sent around to De La Soul producer Prince Paul, The Fabulous Downey Brothers, Wheatus, and Zilla Rocca. It seems a bit odd to say, looking back now, but over the course of the past 4-6 months since I first met Darko The Super—despite countless Twitter DM's, collaborative write-ups, a few EXCLUSIVE The Witzard premiers, late night email conversations about Punk Rock in Hip-Hop, and even one Darko-penned guest post—this is my first full-fledged published interview with Evan Souza. Darko and I spoke about Apocalyptic Bastard (now available for pre-order), his forthcoming Return to The Hell Hole Store with Philly rapper-producer ialive, and his recent All Proceeds to ACLU-fundraising Don't Call The Brain Police, amongst plenty of additional gripping, white knuckle-inducing topics. So, feel free to sit back, relax, and enjoy listening to Darko rhyme over a potentially uncleared sample of Wheatus' 2000 hit, "Teenage Dirtbag," while you still can! Darko The Super's Apocalyptic Bastard will be unleashed upon the terribly unsuspecting world this upcoming Feb. 24th on Already Dead Tapes and pre-ordered cassettes are expected to ship within four days of its releease.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Your Twisted Musical Tour Guide

I. What was your inspiration behind Apocalyptic Bastard album opener “Take My CD?” I hate to say, but I’m all too familiar with the notion of a struggling “rapper” hustling his CD on NYC street corners... but I have to admit, nothing I’ve ever been hawked has been anywhere near as great as Apocalyptic Bastard!

After a set with ialive during our second Hell Hole Store Tour, a fellow musician from one of the previous acts introduced himself and told me how much he liked our set. I thanked him and asked if he wanted a tape, he flat out said "no;" which I understand, but sorta threw me off. Usually, people will say they don’t have any cash, in which [case,] I give them one anyway for complimenting us. His response and other experiences doing shows and trying to sell my albums was the inspiration behind that song. It’s self-deprecating, ['cause] I can’t even give these away sometimes.

II. Darko, would you care to briefly walk us through your typical beat-creation, rhyme-writing, and recording process attached to Apocalyptic Bastard?

I create everything with a software called Mixcraft. My typical production process would be to load in the song I want to sample; then, listen through it and choose the parts I want to use. Create the drum loop or find a break. A lot of it has to do with time-stretching. I then, loop everything by copying and pasting. I leave it like that until I write and record my lyrics. After that, I arrange everything to my liking, by deleting or adding certain parts. I’d like to thank Ruben Gallego for playing drums and synths on a couple songs for this album. He was a big help. When it comes to writing, sometimes I may have a topic or idea I run with, but mostly, it’s a stream-of-consciousness thing. Recording vocals is my least favorite part of creating music. I’ll go through as many takes as I need to get it done. Some songs, I’ll have to give up on and come back another day. I don’t do demos. The first time I can get it recorded and feel as though it works, I go with it. Like most of my albums, I mixed and mastered Apocalyptic Bastard myself. If you don’t like the sound quality, feel free to blame me.

III. What might you likely list as a few of your greatest sources of influence and inspiration during the creation and recording of Apocalyptic Bastard? How did they ultimately help shape the album’s overall sound?

A big influence on the production of this album is Charles Hamilton. I’ve always been a huge fan of his beats and after recently watching the documentary on his life and career, I revisited his albums I listened to in high school and that inspired many of the beats I made for Apocalyptic Bastard. My view towards sampling changed from finding obscure records to using well-known songs and making them my own. Another big influence was the Punk artists I was listening to through the Bandcamp app. I used the Discover feature to search through the "Punk" genre and sub-genres to find some of the songs I sampled for this album.

IV. I know you previously told me that Apocalyptic Bastard is your first full-fledged Rock sample-based album; with that said, would you care to walk my readers and myself through the albums contained sample sources, interpolations, etc?

Some of the artists I sampled are Twisted Sister, Isotope Soap, Loverboy, Tears for Fears, Beck, Lost Trails, Slaves, They Might Be Giants, The Grow Fangs, J Dilla [sampling] Men Without Hats, The Garden, The Spits, Mark Mothersbaugh, Wheatus, Steve Miller Band, The Offspring, The Soronprfbs, and Forget The Times.

V. How would you say Apocalyptic Bastard differs from your whopping 10 U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART/Already Dead Tapes albums released throughout 2016?

Apocalyptic Bastard is far superior, faster, stronger, and more lethal in every way.

VI. The early “rough draft” of Apocalyptic Bastard offered to writers, friends of writers, fans, etc. on your Facebook page a couple months ago included 14 tracks and the final Already Dead Tapes version has 15. What can you tell us about the album’s latest addition, "Doctor Giggles Eats Rubber Pickles?"

For Christmas, The Little Saint Nick had gotten me a USB tape deck and duplicator. One of the first tapes I played was Comfort Food’s Waffle Frolic, which I had traded for with them back in June at Already Dead’s Summer Camp. It glued my wig on tight and inspired me to write. I planned on sampling the song "Rubber Pickles," but soon realized it was too perfect as-is. Doctor Giggles was a name I heard in Fathed’s guest verse on Kool Keith’s "Run for Your Life" from Dr. Dooom 2.

VII. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake: you had an endless supply of duckets (read: cash) to make a hypothetical million-dollar, no holds barred version of Apocalyptic Bastard—who would you ideally recruit to be featured within?

Well, I’d definitely get that Exile feature, as well as Serengeti and Kool Keith, which is something I wanted to do, if I wasn’t so broke. I’d hire The Garden Twins to collaborate and be studio musicians for the album. Have Mike D of the Beastie Boys as Executive Producer. I’d hire Richard Kelly to direct music videos for each song. I’d pay Gears of War to make me a playable character. I’d release the album on vinyl with a hologram of Elaine Benes [Julia Louis-Dreyfus] dancing along. I’d buyout the venue The Fire to have my release show and then, a ceremonial demolition. We’d tear it down to build something useful. Any millions I [had] left, [would] go directly to Buzzy Linhart.

VIII. What can you tell me about Apocalyptic Bastard’s two outer-Darko, sample-less productions, "The Day I Beat Yao Ming" (All These Fingers) and "God, F**k America" (BLKrKRT)?

Well, I’m sure they sampled to make those beats. All These Fingers is a good friend and happens to be one of the greatest producers of all time. Each time he releases a new beat-tape, I write a few songs while listening, one of those songs happened to be the Aaron Carter & Shaq-inspired "The Day I Beat Yao Ming," my favorite NBA player growing up. During the holidays, I was looking to sell my Yao Ming autographed basketball to have more money for gifts. So, that was heavy on my mind and came out in my writing. BLKrKRT is another long-time collaborator and a very supportive individual. I asked him if he’d like to do a release with U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART and a week or so later, he sent me Okinato Black, his brilliant new lo-fi instrumental album. My favorite track was "3,000 Worlds," which I used for "God, F**k America," a song I wrote the night of the Presidential Election results.

IX. I know it’s probably a little late to assemble a year-end list, but what were some of your personal favorite releases of 2016?

I absolutely love the Mike D-produced album Take Control from Slaves, which came out last year. Also J Dilla’s THE DIARY. Testarossa by Yoni & Geti was incredible. Already Dead Tapes released over 40 albums in 2016, so that’s 40 or so more great albums from last year. Moka Only released 12 albums, so there’s 12 more. Pimp to Eat by The Analog Brothers. Revenge of The Pukes by The Pukes. Some albums that came out in previous years that I listened to a ton in 2016: King of Hearts by Camu Tao and haha by The Garden. All the songs were previously released, but if you count Da Supa Spic by MyGrane McNastee, then that, too.

X. If you had to pick one single piece of music to add to The Library of Congress’ rather expansive Complete National Recording Registry to best represent your legacy thus far, which track would you choose?

If I had to choose a song from Apocalyptic Bastard, it would be "Can’t Wait to Die," a song I truly spilled my heart on. I did once call into the suicide prevention lifeline and was put on hold. Choosing a track from my whole catalog, one that sticks with me is a song titled "Bob" [from Take Me to Your Computer] because it shows how I deal with having to come to grips with reality and also, my thoughts on society’s norms.

XI. What can you tell me about your recent NPR Tiny Desk Concert submission of "Mellow Yellow 2" from Return to The Hell Hole Store with ialive? What made you guys want to send one in and did they decide to pick it up for their series?

That was all ialive's idea, I just went along with it. I doubt we’ll win, but we'll find out in March. It was fun to do regardless of the outcome. That was the first time we performed "Mellow Yellow 2" and I’m a bit more confident in my memorization skills after getting this song down. Return to The Hell Hole Store will be a very entertaining listening experience; I feel, we really let loose with that album!

XII. I know Apocalyptic Bastard has just barely been released, but what do you plan to release next, Darko? Is your fabled Return 2 The Hell Hole Store album with fellow Philly-based rapper-producer ialive nearing completion?

Return to The Hell Hole Store will be released through Already Dead Tapes in the coming months; putting the finishing touches on it now. I’ll have another mixtape, before or after, possibly titled Don’t Call The Brain Police that I’m working on now, as well.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Eric Biddines Unleashes @TheInfamousJC-directed Slow Jam "Rushing Forever" from The Local Cafe Just In Time for Valentine's Day (Juggernaut Sound Productions)

"In "Rushing Forever," it starts me trying to impress this girl with my game. We thought it would be cool to incorporate tennis because they have the love term "and... sometimes relationships can be a back-and-forth thing." Obviously, from my reaction at the end, I didn't win her over. I then take her to the park for a little... one-on-one picnic that seems to break through. There's an hour glass showing my impatience and some clips in the woods during the final performance where she's... showing resistance, but in the end, we find each other and walk off... "Rushing Forever" is produced by HulyOnTheBeat and I actually recorded this six years ago."

Palm Beach rapper-producer Eric Biddines wrote the above statement within a series of texts he sent me over this past weekend. Biddines released three albums and two EP's-worth of material on his own planetcoffeebean label imprint between 2010-12, before signing with Juggernaut Sound Productions to unleash planetcoffeebean 2 (2013). Biddines then teamed up with London-based beatsmith Paul White—who had previously worked with Danny Brown, Homeboy Sandman, and Open Mike Eagle—to collaboratively record and release critically-acclaimed 2015 albumGolden Ticket on Lex Records, under the artist name Golden Rules. "Eric Biddines makes approachable Future-Rap, grounded in real emotions and the Southern Rap tradition. Alternately singing and rhyming over an ebullient, piano-laden Nu-Disco beat, Eric Biddines embraces his inner romantic on "Rushing Forever,'" reads parts of AUDIBLETREATS' latest press release. "Rushing Forever" stems from Eric Biddines' most recent solo release, The Local Cafe; "[an] album in which Eric Biddines [brings] you along to get an inside perspective of his community and upbringing. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and relax to the Southern tunes of your neighborhood country kinfolk. The Local Cafe really is a fun-loving, storied listen, which features recent singles "Peeuurrnn" and "Whole Trunk," with an underlying spoken word-esque Southern Hip-Hop-reminiscent sound I would best liken to a mix between OutKast emcee André 3000, Big K.R.I.T. and Stones Throw's R&B crooner Anderson.Paak. The Local Cafe is currently available to download, stream, and repeatedly enjoy from Eric Biddines' Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Apple Music, Spotify, and assorted like-minded digital retailers. Biddines himself even designed the construction paper-cut "no name, no gender, no race, no bills" coffee-drinking alien seen across The Local Cafe's album cover and corresponding singles.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Leon Michels Unveils Newly-reformed El Michels Affair with Lee Fields, Lady Wray & The Shacks Songstress Shannon Wise for Return to The 37th Chamber (Big Crown Records)

"I don't know how y'all see it, but when it comes to the children... Wu-Tang is for the children! We teach the children! You know what I mean? Puffy is good, but WU-TANG IS THE BEST!" sharp-tongued Shaolin prince Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB) once proclaimed during an impromptu 1998 GRAMMY's acceptance "speech" during Shawn Colvin & John Leventhal's "Sunny Came Home" Song of The Year win. It also appears that Wu-Tang is for aging 40-something suburban Hip-Hop heads that can still hang; as is the case with El Michels Affair's forthcoming Jazz/Funk/Soul-tinged Wu-Tang Clan covers collection, Return to The 37th Chamber—otherwise known as the pseudo-follow-up to their critically-acclaimed Enter: The 37th Chamber (2009). El Michels Affair is fronted by multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, founder of newly-formed Big Crown Records, and former alumni of Soul Fire, Misty/Daptone Records, and now-defunct Truth & Soul, Leon Michels. El Michels Affair's past members and players have included Homer Steinweiss, Michael Leonhart, Nick Movshon, Sean Solomon, Thomas Brenneck, Todd Simon, Toby Pazner, and Aaron Johnson. However, it's currently unclear who exactly plays on Return to The 37th Chamber, in addition to Leon Michels himself. Michels and his assorted band mates have previously played and recorded along with Action Bronson, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Amy Winehouse, Ghostface Killah, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Lily Allen, Aloe Blacc, Jay Z, Steely Dan, Dr. John, Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach's The Arcs, Bruno Mars, Eric Clapton, and Michael Bublé.

This time around, Big Crown founder and bandleader Leon Michels decided to recruit a few vocal assists from within the label's roster: frequent collaborator Lee Fields, Lady Wray, and The Shacks songstress Shannon Wise, who previously performed on El Michels Affair's 2016 "Strange Boy" 45. Following El Michels Affair's April 2016 7-inch release of "4th Chamber / Snakes," as recently as March 3rd, the Wu-Tang-loving Soul-Funk collective unleashed Lee Fields & The Shacks-assisted "Tearz" backed with a jarring re-interpretation of Raekwon's "Verbal Intercourse" on a funky fresh slice of 7-inch wax. "Producer and bandleader Leon Michels recorded the album completely analog, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing, giving Return to The 37th Chamber it's own hazy sound. Adding to the unique fidelity, the record is laced with Psychedelic flourishes, "John Carpenter" synths, Heavy Metal guitars, triumphant horns, and traditional Chinese instruments that make up for the lack of the Wu's superlative vocals. From start to finish, it’s a dark trip that walks the line between RZA's timeless Hip-Hop aesthetic, and the Cinematic Soul [El Michels Affair] has become known for," reads a fragmented chunk of BIG CROWN's latest press release.

Return to The 37th Chamber's vinyl version not only features optional standard black wax or translucent yellow vinyl, Big Crown Records are offering four exclusive hand-painted covers limited to 100 copies/cover and are only available at their BCR Web-store; "the originals were painted on two sewn-together flour sacks in Accra, Ghana by Heavy J & Stoger, two artists who are legends in the Ghanaian Mobile Cinema scene and regular contributors to The Deadly Prey Gallery's collection in Chicago." Return to The 37th Chamber is currently available for pre-order from Big Crown in either standard LP, colored vinyl, or CD formats and are all expected to ship by or before April 3rd, ahead of the album's April 14th wide release. "Tearz / Verbal Intercourse," "4th Chamber / Snakes," and The Shacks-assisted "Strange Boy" 45's are all currently available from Big Crown Records, as well, for the wax-loving completest. I don't want to reveal too much, as it's still in the earliest stages of development... but I've recently been speaking with Leon Michels himself and a few of his Big Crown Records associates about setting up a potential emailed interview to be ultimately, be published coinciding with Return to The 37th Chamber's April release. I would assume that's something someone like you might be into, so stay tuned for further details!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"Movin' On Slackers Like They Know No Joke:" Career Crooks Emcee Zilla Rocca Channels Raekwon On "Faster Blade Redux" from Ghostface Killah's Ironman (The Witzard Premier)

"Ghostface [Killah]'s Ironman is still my favorite album in all of music. And Raekwon is one of my favorite rappers ever, so I wanted to take a stab at his solo cut off Ironman and pay direct homage, since Raekwon has had a big influence on me as a writer of visual Crime Raps [over] the past 3-4 years," Philly emcee Zilla Rocca wrote within a recent email sent to The Witzard. Zilla's "Faster Blade" (Redux) expertly flips RZA's Persuaders-sampling Raekwon cut from Ghostface's 1996 debut, Ironman. Not entirely unlike Zilla Rocca's recent Son Raw-produced "98 Avirex Flow," "Faster Blade" was uploaded to Wrecking Crew's SoundcloudZilla's Philly-based collective formed with fellow rapper-producers Small Professor and Curly Castro. Like much of Wu-Tang Clan's discography, "Faster Blade" takes its name from 1982-83 Hong Kong Martial Arts Action film Faster Blade, Poisonous Darts, which is referenced within Raekwon's original lyrics and furthered referenced by Zilla's own Soundcloud artwork. Zilla Rocca really manged to squeeze a staggering amount of bars into "Faster Blade"'s roughly 2-minute run time and delivers some hard-hitting, multi-layered rhyme schemes like:
"Movin' on slackers like they know no joke / You know how we do, we do ski masks never seem to find (evoking Raekwon) / Proteges wanna reach out and try to kill me... check them movies from Guyana like Paperboy Atlanta—a local rapper sittin' in the slammer... sittin' still just like a Buddha out in Bermuda pushin' Pusha T and Future continuous slammin' lentils in my mental... and all the workin' folks love us, like Trump loves Russia / Resisters, the repercussion / Fake chiefs spot 'em like Cascade, their sh*t is masquerader. Faster blade!"

It's currently unclear where "Faster Blade" and it's 90's-referencing counterpart "98 Avirex Flow" may ultimately end up, but they might end up being re-released on some sort of mixtape compilation in the near future. Zilla Rocca and his fellow beat-making Philly cohort Small Professor are gearing up to unleash their proper full-length debut as Career Crooks, tentatively titled Good Luck with That; Career Crooks' past works can be previewed on their recent pre-album mixtape, Sin Will Find You: The Collected Works. Anything I Touch, I Bruise Vol. 2: The Superior Foes of Zilla Rocca, a collection of remixes over a bunch of tracks from his fellow rapping friends, who "appear courtesy of friendship, good booze, and mutual respect" is currently available on Zilla's Bandcamp page on an extremely generous name-your-price basis. Zilla Rocca's frequent partner-in-crime's latest 31-track appropriately-titled Prince Jawns is currently available for your unlimited streaming, FREE downloading, and non-rapping pleasure from Small Professor's Bandcamp page, along with 20 additional like-minded releases.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Witzard Proudly Presents: DJ Manipulator's 6-track Breakdown of His Hip-Hop & Jazz-fusing "Jazz Is Everything" (mix) & Herbie Hancock Remixing Cover Art (Jesse Racusen)

I'll keep this intro rather short and sweet, as this one's pretty self-explanatory and cut and dry... while watching the Atlanta Falcons honorable attempt at a Super Bowl LI Champion trophy last night, I saw this rather intriguing @2DopeBoyz-premiered DJ Manipulator (@dustymanip) mix prop up within my Twitter timeline. Its Herbie Hancock & The Headhunters Head Hunters re-appropriating cover artwork is the first thing that caught my eye (I've been obsessed with "Watermelon Man" ever since RS500). After a brief, yet highly informative listen, I decided to write a quick email to the self-proclaimed "DJ/Producer/NERD Contact'"s Twitter-listed email contact, which ended up being his manager, Derek "Kas" Kastal. Long story short... Kas quickly got me in touch with DJ Manipulator himself and we decided the best form of "attack" might be some sort of playlist of "Jazz Is Everything" mix breakdown; by around 1:00 am, DJ Manipulator had emailed me a breakdown of the striking Jesse Racusen-designed cover image and "a breakdown [of his] 6 favorite joints off the mix," which you can now, thoroughly enjoy down below while listening to his comprehensive 30-minute "Jazz is Everything" mix. DJ Manipulator's Hip-Hop & Jazz-melding mix is currently available for streaming and FREE download from his Soundcloud page, along with a complete 20-track playlist. DJ Manipulator's "2 Drums"-featuring Stranger Than Paradise album should be expected sometime this year.

"This mix really began with the artwork. I had the idea for the cover about a year ago; I was [listening] to Herbie Hancock & The Headhunters' Head Hunters (1973) and was always intrigued but the famous yellow Goli mask on his head and though, "what if you were to see the same mask, but in a different setting?" Around the same time, I was looking through my crates and saw the cover for Brand Nubian's Everything Is Everything (1994) and the two just connected in my head. Just imagining three guys in a car wearing the Goli mask and one of them is getting ready to roll a blunt. That sh*t was funny to me, but also made sense. Flipping a Hip-Hop album for a Jazz project was just another version of flipping a sample to me. I contacted my good friend Jesse Racusen [who] I've worked with before on previous album covers and he made my idea come to life."

6 Favorite Tracks Off "Jazz Is Everything" (mix) & My Connection with Them:

1. Amahad Jamal's "Swahililand"

Amahad is genius and this track was the perfect way to set off this mix. Aside from being the sample for De La Soul's Stakes Is High (1996), the piano on this is pure beauty.

2. Eddie Henderson's "Inside You"

I remember finding this record during a digging session; so smooth! This track was was sampled for Jay Z's "Coming of Age" from the Reasonable Doubt album (1996). It's still one of my favorite Jay Z songs to this day, so I had to throw the sample in the mix.

3. Ramsey Lewis' "Tambura"

The break on this join is bananas! I used this part of the mix just as an excuse to cut sh*t up. Had fun doing it, too!

4. Laboratorium's "Szalony Baca"

I got this joint at a record show in Providence, [Rhode Island]. Before the show, I never saw this record before. When I got home, I was blown away. This song puts me in a dream-like state. It's so dope!

5. David Matthews' "Sandworms"

Way back when I first started digging for records, David Matthews’ Dune was one my Holy Grails. The legendary Large Professor used this sample [on] his classic, "The Mad Scientist." One of the illest bass lines of all time.

6. Herbie Hancock's "Stars In Your Eyes"

I had to put a Herbie joint on here. It's kinda funny though. It might be the least Jazzy joint on the mix, but f*ck it. It's funky as Hell and one of my favorite songs of all time.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Your Old Droog & RATKING Emcee Wiki Unleash What Happened to Fire? EP with Production from Black Milk, RTNC, Statik Selektah, araabMUZIK, !llmind & Tony Seltzer (Letter Racer Download)

"Today, New York-bred emcees Wiki & Your Old Droog are sharing a new collaborative EP. What Happened to Fire? is a 5-track joint effort that demonstrates a chemistry between Wiki & Droog that could only come from both artists growing up in New York City; narrated by found samples of Kool Keith, the focus of the EP for Wiki & Droog was having fun while putting down the best bars possible," read a press release I received late last week from Nick X Dierl at Orienteer (formerly Liberal Arts and Life or Death PR). What Happened to Fire? EP was recorded in tandem with an art installation under the same name, which ran at Romero Gallery in late 2016. "What Happened to Fire? was recorded at Wiki's Chinatown apartment as the installation was being formulated and displayed and the art that accompanies the EP contains imagery from the gallery." Your Old Droog was compared to Nas early on in his career and was even believed to be some sort of new-found alias Nasty Nas may have been launching around the time of his 2014 Your Old Droog EP-LP. Since his last two EP's KINISON and The Nicest, Your Old Droog has released nearly an entire album's-worth of non-album loosies produced by Jonwayne, RTNC, Marco Polo, Alchemist, Oh No, Black Milk, and a number of freestyles over Kanye, Seinfeld, and DJ Hart beats.

Although, I've never listened to RATKING before What Happened to Fire? EP, Wiki does sound a lot like yet another New York Golden Age Hip-Hop legend: A Tribe Called Quest founder Q-Tip. What Happened to Fire? EP evokes the same Beastie Boys-reminiscent 2 MC's & 1 DJ vibe as fellow New Yorkers Homeboy Sandman and Portland transplant Aesop Rock's critically-acclaimed Lice and Lice 2: Still Buggin' EP's. Your Old Droog & Wiki managed to recruit an impressive who's-who of Alt. Hip-Hop producers and beat-makers including Black Milk, RTNC (with assistance from Droog himself), araabMUZIK & !llmind, Statik Selektah, and new-comer Tony Seltzer. Your Old Droog & Wiki first appeared together on a "Complex City Cypher" last March along with A$AP Ferg and GRAMMY-nominated Jazz musician Christian Scott. Your Old Droog is currently gearing up to unleash his long-awaited Your Old Droog EP-LP follow-up PACKS this upcoming March 10th, which will feature Heems, Danny Brown, Edan, Chris Crack, and comedian Anthony Jeselnik. Wiki will additionally appear within Droog's PACKS and rumor has it, he's currently working on his proper album-length follow-up to his 2015 debut mixtape, Lil Me. What Happened to Fire? EP is currently available for streaming and FREE download from RATKING's "NYC Music Collective" Letter Racer.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

3 Feet High & Rising: Band of Bearded Brothers Cellar Door Moon Crow Unleash Rollicking Single "Whistler" from Upcoming Blues Rock EP (Bandcamp, self-released)

British Rock 2-piece band Cellar Door Moon Crow mysteriously found and Followed The Witzard (@SharpCheddar856) on Twitter a few months ago. Their Facebook About section simply lists a brief, yet fitting, mission statement:
"Band ~ Beards ~ Brothers
Goodwin brothers Phil & Tommy.
Sheffield, UK"
and their accompanying Biography section contains a similar refrain: "Band ^ Beards ^ Brothers," as well as their Bandcamp page. There really isn't much else to be known about twin brothers Phil & Tom Goodwin, aside from the fact that they make infectious, down and dirty Rock "N" Roll—all entirely written, recorded, produced, and mixed in-house by Cellar Door Moon Crow (CDMC) themselves. CDMC's Bandcamp page often tags their musical output as "British Rock, Rock, Blues Rock, two-piece band, Sheffield" and I would best liken their sound to a stylistic mix between The Black Keys, Third Man Records founder Jack White, Icelandic Rock band Kaleo, rising Austin-based Blues Rock guitar virtuoso Gary Clark Jr. and Stone Temple Pilots. Cellar Door Moon Crew's latest stand-alone single, "Whistler" is their fifth release, which will likely all be compiled onto an eventual EP to be released later this year. "Whistler"'s companion music video was produced by CDMC, recorded at Fat Elephant, and directed by Loki Films; it's a bit of a scantily-clad affair, due in part to tatted Punk Rock Go-Go girls and an aerial aerobics routine taking place atop a dimly-lit, smoke-filled concrete concert space down below. "Whistler," which is delivered in a kind of fast-paced sung... almost half-rapped manner, quite similar to fellow countrymen Arctic Monkeys, is currently available for FREE download from Cellar Door Moon Crew's Bandcamp page, along with "Forgiveness," "Tightrope," "Backlash," and a rather interesting Led Zeppelin/Sia mash-up cleverly titled "Zepia."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Mountain Goats Frontman & Wrestling Aficionado John Darnielle Pens "The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All The Other Jedi & Eats Their Bones" for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi Director Rian Johnson (rcjohnso Soundcloud)

"I was joking around with Rian Johnson on Twitter and I was saying how there’s an urgent need to speak out about the many deeds of the ultimate Jedi who wastes all the other Jedi and eats their bones. Rian agreed, and told me to get to work, that the story must be told! So, I wrote the song and recorded it with a little help from my kids, who you’ll hear excitedly jumping in and out of the room while I work. Enjoy!"

The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle charismatically wrote within the band's on-site blog upon the Monday Jan. 30th release of "The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All The Other Jedi & Eats Their Bones." It all seemingly started when Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson Tweeted "Excited (and relieved) to finally share this!" along with a link to an article dubbed THE OFFICIAL TITLE FOR STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII REVEALED; @mountain_goats (Darnielle) promptly replied, "my five-year campaign to sell Rian on the title "The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All The Other Jedi & Eats Their Bones" has come up short" to which Johnson enthusiastically quipped, "WRITE THIS SONG." Now, for a little bit of necessary backstory... The Mountain Goats and Looper director Rian Johnson go way back! Johnson's 2005 film Brick features a self-recorded song titled "Brain Hammer" attributed to The Hospital Bombers Experience, which makes reference to "The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton" from The Mountain Goats' 2002 album, All Hail West Texas. As legend has it, when John Darnielle noticed the thinly-veiled reference within Brick's closing credits, he immediately contacted Rian Johnson, who soon after directed music videos for The Mountain Goats' "Woke Up New," The Life of The World to Come live performance film/DVD, and an unreleased stop-motion treatment for "Wild Sage." The Mountain Goats' latest professional wrestling-themed concept album, Beat The Champ (2015) is currently available on Merge Records; Darnielle however, has seemingly written and recorded a Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne & Randy Rhoads-themed follow-up that may or may not ever see a proper release. John Darnielle's second book, Universal Harvester: A Novel will become available this upcoming Friday, Feb. 7th on Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

"[Alright], so, I see that while I was doing a phone interview, some of you noticed this already but you may remember on Friday... I was joking around with @rianjohnson about his big Star Wars news, and the joke was "have you then rejected my song?"... whose title, at that point, just an of-the-moment joke, was "The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All The Other Jedi & Eats Their Bones." ... @rianjohnson responded, right here on Twitter dot com: PLEASE WRITE THIS. Who am I to turn down the guy who directed [Breaking Bad episode] "Ozymandias?" ... not me, not this guy. I set to work immediately. It is important that the world learn the truth of this Jedi. But where to host? ... I don't know if y'all know this, but a lot of people are into Star Wars. So, I wrote to @rianjohnson, and I'm like, here's the tune, right... and he's like, "Should I put it on my Soundcloud?" and I'm like, "rest up, do that on Monday!" ... so, here's the song. Enjoy!"

- @mountain_goats (John Darnielle)