Tag Archives: music

PCP: Bang Bang

Monotony Monday #24 – More Memories

Bang Bang for Your Buck

The short of it: It’s just a dope track with a sweet sample. 

Young Buck’s life has been pretty rough the past few years. IRS raids, shootings, prison, and property auctions are just a few of the hardships he’s faced.

That list doesn’t even include his exile from and eventual rejoining of G-Unit. Of course, that’s a whole issue besides the beef– he’s a dude best known for being a part of 50 Cent’s crew. He isn’t a well-known name anymore in today’s waves of Soundcloud and social media rappers, and, for the most part, he’s a forgotten part of the early aughts scene.

And it’s a damn shame because he made some dope music.

The sample of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” makes a beautiful hook and those little strings just make this track hit that sweet, moody spot. Buck delivers with this serious, unhappy tone that compliments the almost sad brags that make up the reality of a life that can end with a single bang.

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PCP: Ramin Djawadi’s “Paint It Black”

Monotony Monday #23 – Morphing Maniacal Melodies

A Fresh Coat of Paint It Black

The short of itWestworld manage to reinvigorate one of the most tired covers out there by pairing it with near perfect choreography. 

So I just started watching Westworld (guess what’s coming up for WW #23) and holy smokes, cowboy. It’s hard to turn off, partially because of its captivating performances and stories and partially because I accidentally kicked the remote out of reach.

Point is, it’s really good. Some of the scenes are just so masterfully composed that I keep replaying them in my head. The foremost scene that’s been on a loop in my brain is the heist scene.

Everything is just so radical. The quick spins during gunfire, the sweet lines, and, most of all, that kickass rendition of “Paint It Black.”

Let’s be honest though, it’s a song with one too many covers.

From the good,

to the okay,

to the no-one-asked-for-this version.

Point being, this song is very easy to screw up in its application. It’s pretty tired as a song itself; hell, there’s basically an entire game based on the song.

So when the heist scene rolls up and those woodwinds and horns start swelling, damnit, it makes sense that it costs $40,000 a day to stay in Westworld. Rodrigo Santoro’s handsomely scarred face and killer black outfit make him the outlaw of everyone’s dreams, especially when backed by Djawadi’s composing. Everything in this scene just works so well. It’s got me unironically humming that “dun dun dun dun dun dun” every second I’m not watching Westworld.

 

PCP: Before the Storm OST

Monotony Monday #21 – Moody Maybae

Life is Strange, Music is Strong

The short of it: Capable of bringing your heart to its knees with just a chord, this soundtrack is hella good.

I’m not shy about the fact that Life is Strange is my favorite game (or that Dark Souls is my second). Life is Strange brought me on this incredible journey of love and loss with the single question of “If you could go back, would you?”

Before the Storm continues its atmosphere, with teens facing these problems so much larger than themselves, while dealing with all the social and emotional pressures of becoming an adult.

Daughter is wonderful. They were great on the original Life is Strange as part of the soundtrack, and their work with Before the Storm as the soundtrack is amazing.

From Daughter’s ambient title screen track to the kickass (but fictional) Pisshead, this soundtrack is damn near impeccable. It perfectly recreates the atmospheric moodiness of the original while adding in a bit of a punk edge for Chloe.

I can’t tell if it’s a good thing or not that this music instantly puts me into this weird funk, but it’s not gonna stop me from having it on a (time) loop.

PCP: Dethklok

Monotony Monday #10 – Most Metal

Dethklok: Timeless

The short of it: Parody that outdoes its source material is rare. Not only does Dethklok successfully mock the quirks and ridiculousness of metal, it outdoes most metal bands in terms of talent and performance. 

The pilot episode of Metalocalypse portrays Dethklok as the world’s most popular band, with legions of fans willing to die to hear the band play.

Three albums (more or less) later, it’s actually understandable why their animated fans would go to the brütal slaughterhouse that is a Dethklok show.

The band is effectively just Brendon Smalls playing with himself. And the result is some of the funniest jokes about the genre delivered through genuinely great metal.

Pretty much every track manages to both kick ass and bring a grin to your face. You’ve got songs like “Dethharmonic,” with these gorgeous, orchestral strings backing this shuddering riff and it’s just beautiful.

And the song is just about not wanting to pay taxes. It’s funny on the surface level, but, like all of Dethklok’s music, makes this grander point about how dumb most metal lyrics are. Even though Small’s got wonderfully clear vocals, other metal bands’ muddled screeches and snarls disguise the utter inanity of most lyrics. And Dethklok is both pointing that out and saying that it’s actually fine– the pretentiousness and elitism that riddle the metal community are as silly as the eighteenth reference to Satan in a three minute song. If it sounds good, it’s good. If it sounds metal, it’s metal.

Dethklok, as a band, is impressive. Dethklok, as a comedic avenue, is impressive. Dethklok as a single man’s project is indescribable.

Well, maybe not.

It actually just takes three words.

Metal. As. Fuck.

PCP: Raleigh Ritchie

Monotony Monday #7 – Music n’ Missandei

Raleigh Ritchie: A Raleigh to Really Rally Behind

The short of it: With a charming mix of melancholy and joy, Raleigh Ritchie’s music is almost always an airy delight. It’s downtrodden indie pop that plays with the genre as well as Jacob Anderson plays the Unsullied leader. 

Roughly four years ago, I downloaded a “Best of June 2013” tape from Sunset in the Rearview. It came with a bit of a melancholy tune by Raleigh Ritchie, who I assumed was just another British sadboi musician that’d never get the acclaim he deserved.

Three years after that, I was screaming at my TV, begging for my favorite secondary Game of Thrones character, Grey Worm, to escape his near-deadly encounter with the Golden Harpies. As soon as he emerged in the third season, I knew he was going to be on my “Please Don’t Die” list.

Lo and behold, it turns out Jacob Anderson is just brilliant as pretty much everything he does.

With the pseudonym of Raleigh Ritchie, Anderson creates ballads of hopeful heartbreak. His music is painfully honest. He gently sings of his sad dreams and struggles, his fantasies and nightmares, everything from his luckiest stumble to his worst mistakes.

It’s absolutely delightful hearing him bounce over the noisy sounds of tracks like “Cowards” before powering over the simplistic piano tune of “Stronger Than Ever,” (my personal favorite).  Everything’s brilliantly and uniquely produced, but they’re all outshone by Anderson’s crooning and lyricism.

I’m more than familiar with the sad said of indie pop and the evolutionary successor to emo, where every girl is a beautiful devil and every fault is your own. But Anderson uses these incredibly human and tender stories of how scared he is of, well, the scariest non-scary parts of living. Growing old, changing, losing the ones you love, he manages to encapsulate them all in songs that never hit preachy or whiny. His versatility with handling the most common of fears is as stunning as the visuals in his videos.

Everything just fits so well in his music. His consistency and experimentation should clash, but they’ve yet to do so. His versatility keeps him afloat, even in the face of the most challenging music possible: Dan Harmon’s freestyling.

Man this dude’s great.

PCP: Big Quint

Watching Wednesday #4 – WOOH WOOH

BIGQUINT INDEED: Big Ain’t Big Enough

The short of it: Big Quint’s genuine reactions manage to amplify and simplify the high and low points of albums. His emphasis on what sounds good is a different kind of review with the same value as the kind that picks apart ever snare. 

Big Quint’s a murderer.

Two chairs lost their lives trying to support Quint’s ample frame as he bounced along to the newest hip-hop– Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the latest to snap the legs of a chair.

Quint’s channel is a pretty straightforward reaction channel– not my favorite kind of content, but it’s one that has its place in the annals of YouTube. He gives an intro, reacts to the music, cuts about halfway for a snack break/monologue, then resumes, before giving his final opinion on the album or track.

Fortunately for us, Quint’s truly just a fan of music. He’s honest with his opinions and genuine with his reactions; his reactions are often his first time listening to an album. Unlike other reviews or reactions from more technical critics, Quint lets his ears do the thinking for him. If it bangs it bangs, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.

Every month or so, I revisit his reaction to J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, an album I already loved before watching Quint’s reaction.

 

I do the same with Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo; every once in a while, I use Quint’s videos to remind myself of how damn good these albums are. I enjoyed them when I listened to them, sure, but for Ye, I had trouble digesting it after all the Taylor Swift nonsense and some of the worse lines on the album (bleach).

But then there’s Quint, bouncing along, chuckling at the dumb stuff but still vibing out to the beautiful production and braggadocious lyrics.

I guess it’s just a reminder of how wrapped up in ourselves and society we can get, and how we can subconsciously make ourselves enjoy things else. Yeah, we need critical analysis and discussion about the finer points of music and artists. But at the same time, man, why can’t we just lose it when we hear that drop on G.O.M.D or Father Stretch My Hands? Thankfully, we got Quint to remind us to snap and shout along with dope music.

PCP: clipping.

Montony Monday #4 – Midcity Madness

clipping.: ndstrl n mzng

The short of it: clipping. is what I think Death Grips sounds to their fans. It’s industrial with melodic sensibilities; Diggs’ lyrical ability and adaptable flow make him on of the most underrated MCs in the game. 

The one sound that makes every working person’s skin crawl is the breeching sound of an alarm clock.

And clipping., made of rapper Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame) and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, turns it into a pulsing song where his voice darts between each blare of the alarm. He begrudgingly credits the painful wake up for the 9-5 as a way to survive but twists the drudgery of an office job as the struggle of the street hustle.

clipping.’s beats are often minimal, allowing Diggs plenty of room for his particular method of storytelling. Every description is oddly fascinating, a mix of simple and esoteric. His street stories are humanizing potrayals of the broken souls lost in poverty. He tells tales of murderers and arsonists, gangsters and dealers. They become whole people, compete with their flaws and desires that create their criminal behavior. Every single one of these characters is so vulnerable, a side of the most vulnerable population that is rarely used well in stories.

All of this is backed by simplistic, often pulsing beats where the most common sound is arguably bursts of static. These beats don’t ramp up to complicated climaxes; instead, they maintain their constant thumping as Diggs effortlessly follows along. The hooks often see a slight transition of a slight upwards pitch or a slowly rising bassline, but they never overpower or challenge the vocals. Instead, the two interweave to form a single musical force. Every clipping. song is a harmony of dissonance, with discomforting sounds blended into melodic stories.

clipping. is absolutely deserving of the period at the end of their name- they’re the high point of the experimental hip-hop movement.

 

Top Two Tuesday: QuESt and Boogie

Top Two Tuesday is a weekly effort to recognize two artists who deserve more attention, respect, and praise in the music world. This week is a mix of two almost similar artists that I discovered almost five years apart. They’re also almost described as another artist, although that’d almost ruin any true description of them. Almost.

The best part is both of them are currently working on their respective albums– something I’m more excited about than my own future.


High Voices, Higher Intellects

QuESt

A squandered opportunist who hasn’t squandered a single beat. 

Image via @YesIAmQuESt

I was introduced to QuESt back in my backpacker days with “Gambler” off of his first project, Fear Not Failure. I promptly forgot about him.

That was a mistake.

I recently rediscovered him with his latest project, Searching Sylvan. I let one song come up on shuffle and left it. Then I listened to the entire tape in its entirety. The production was wonderfully melodic and well done, especially for an underground rapper. QuESt has this unbelievable power to spit over any beat– his voice is strange and high-pitched, but he uses it to keep pace with the production to tell stories and recite poems. He does have his certain style that he seems comfortable with– what can loosely be called Americanized grime. His production has heavy inspiration from both dubstep and DnB; the impressive thing is that he never fights it. He works with shuddering synths and deep bass so well you’d think it’s in his blood. QuESt is the hungriest rapper I’ve ever heard.

Sylvan is a loose narrative of a period of his life in his town of Miami and the struggles he faced as a person, a musician, a son, a friend, and a citizen. He plows through quick tempos to shout his frustrations as a “struggle rapper” in the aptly titled “Struggle Rapper,” then turns around and bounces through disappointments in “Erase Me.” The interludes and skits, including one from Tupac, are both personal and relatable– QuESt manages to give the listener a view of Miami from his perspective without dominating the narrative.

This is where the terrible comparison starts.

Searching Sylvan is like a more human good kid, MAAD city. Where Kendrick discusses the city of Compton and the struggle of everyone there, QuESt goes deeper into his emotions and personal reflections and painful struggles of a man trying to find his dream. Don’t get me wrong, gkMC is still my favorite album of all time– but there’s something staggering in Sylvan. 

Listen to:

1. Struggle Rapper

2. Erase Me

3. Automatic

4. The Memories

Download:

1. Searching Sylvan

2. Fear Not Failure


Boogie

A man whose thirst for success is matched only by his criticism of thirsty-ness. 

Photo by Jack Wagner for LA Weekly.

Boogie punched his way into my ears with Oh My (produced by Jahlil Beats, who has made some of my absolute favorite Kevin Gates beats). For someone who is just barely breached the scene, Boogie is terrifyingly polished. He’s mastered his flow and style almost immediately. His content is far from your expected, “I’m going to come up and be the best, I’ll call out these other rappers!” Instead, he has a way of reflecting and critiquing the life around him. His raps aren’t intimate as much as they are friendly– he talks like a friend on the corner, looking at life and his city and calling out what troubles him with a certain degree of quiet wisdom.

Thirst 48, arguably my favorite title of anything from the past few years, has this beautiful, consistent tone that Boogie takes full advantage of. The skits and interludes, including one from Tupac, are brief and offer a little bit of insight into what Boogie sees. He never changes from this personable, laid-back mood, even if he’s going off over brass or atmospheric echoes. His songs invoke vivid images of LA streets in the summer.

This is where the terrible comparison starts.

Boogie is like an LA Chance the Rapper (odd, seeing how he’s older than Chance). He’s confident on sing-song melodies and he’s just as confident on bangers (re: Oh My). He’s not afraid to change his flow or break it entirely. Now my only concern is that Boogie sticks to killer raps and doesn’t lose himself to sing-song nonsense.

Just kidding, there isn’t a chance he’ll go in any direction but up.

Listen to:

1. Oh My

2. Bitter Raps

3. Save Me

4. Let Me Rap

Download:

1. Thirst 48

Top Two Tuesday: Kevin Gates and Future

Top Two Tuesday is a weekly effort to recognize two artists who deserve more attention, respect, and praise in the music world. Who better to start with than my two favorite artists, including the one who reassured each of us that, You Deserve It?


The Melodic Marauders

Kevin Gates

Louisiana rapper and honest-to-a-fault talent.

Image via kevingat.es.

Gates is a master. He’s my favorite rapper– not just from Louisiana or the south, I mean ever. He’s a weirdo, his PR is less than great, and he’s done some pretty bad things. But he’s so much more than that. His music is painfully honest from the get go; there’s no need to hide in introspective songs to reveal his feelings. Every song is pure like that (using pure in a very strict sense, dude’s into some freaky stuff). The point is, I’ve never gotten a deceptive vibe or even a hint of falsity from his music. There is no behind-the-curtain Kevin. He exists wholly in his melodies and verses, be they from his 2007 mixtape Pick of Da Litter (one of my favorite mixtape titles, up there with Boogie’s Thirst 48 and Big Bear’s Doin’ Thangs) or his most recent release, Luca Brasi 2.

His music is powerful at points and silly at others. He has a song about Twilight and a song about attempted murders. Both of them are fantastic. His hooks are usually flawless and his beat selection nearly always compliments both his sing-songy styles and his hardest verses.

I don’t call him my favorite rapper lightly. There aren’t many rappers that have their best songs in both their first release and their latest.

Listen to:

  1. I Don’t Get Tired (#IDGT) ft. August Alsina
  2. Satellites
  3. Angels
  4. Wylin

Download:

  1. Stranger Than Fiction 
  2. The Luca Brasi Story
  3. By Any Means
  4. Luca Brasi 2

Future

The sing-songy future of hip-hop.

Future honestly doesn’t need any more recognition– he’s a monster. Those two serve as more than just a lame hyperlink joke; as a musician, Future has evolved brilliantly. He got his initial recognition with the high-pitched, crooning hits from his debut album Pluto and the follow-up, Honest. I never took him seriously when he first blew up (I was still in my terrible backpacker days), only occasionally guiltily indulging in hits like the aforementioned “You Deserve It” and “Turn on the Lights.” Long after I had put down the backpack and the pretentiousness stuffed in it, someone linked me to “Throw Away” off of Monster. I downloaded the mixtape immediately and, after a few listens, knew it was my number one project of 2014. He’s embraced the killer croons/hooks of his older stuff while exploring a darker vibe and production. His honesty and melodies, much like Kevin Gates, are unbelievable. It’s rare for me to revisit someone’s work after burning myself out on it– I can’t seem to do that with Future. He’s locked himself in with some of the best producers in the game, and he knows it. His recent stream of projects are individually fantastic; as a series, with little time between them, they are seemingly unmatched. Even though I just got finished listening to his most recent project, I’m already tapping my foot for his upcoming tape with Mike Will Made It. His stream of quality work and consistency mean he’s going to be an industry leader for a long, long time. And I could not be more excited.

Listen to:

1. Codeine Crazy

2. After That ft. Lil Wayne

3. March Madness

4. Just Like Bruddas

Download:

1. Monster

2. 56 Nights 

3. Beast Mode