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Song of the Day #157: Sweatpants

Childish Gambino – Sweatpants

I feel like I’ve slowly grown into Donald Glover’s rap persona, Childish Gambino. A good friend who’s knowledgeable on hip hop recently said to me that he likens him to a Drake who can’t sing or rap as well, but I see it a little differently: he’s clearly not singularly focused on rap or the rap lifestyle, but he has oddball charm to spare.

On his most recent album, Because the Internet, which Sweatpants appears on, he was songwriter, producer, and performer. Outside of being a singer, rapper, and record producer, he also has acting, standup comedy, and television writing careers.

Read about Childish Gambino on Wikipedia or check our Sweatpants on Rap Genius.

Published on May 15, 2014
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Song of the Day #156: Rebel on Roots Corner

Tippa Irie – Rebels on the Roots Corner

Last night a UK reggae MC named Tippa Irie performed in Chengdu at a local performance venue called Here We Go. Although I listen to a lot of reggae, I had never heard of Tippa Irie before – judging from the people I’ve spoken to and Wikipedia, it seems that he was most well-known during the 1980′s and 1990′s in England. His performance was very good though, and it’s been a few years since I performed as an opener when the legendary Jamaican record producer Clive Chin came to Chengdu on tour of China. Before that one of my most memorable reggae performances I’ve seen was Jah Faith & Family Tree at Dub Club in Echo Park, Los Angeles.

Of all the songs that Tippa Irie performed last night, this one (“Rebels on the Roots Corner”) was easily my favorite. Brilliant production by Mad Professor on this track.

Read about Tippa Irie on Wikipedia

Published on March 3, 2014
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Song of the Day #155: Land of Lords

The Underachievers – Land of Lords

These days I’m always looking for modern hip hop produced in an esoteric, nostalgic, distinctly East Coast style. Underachievers fit that criteria perfectly.

If you didn’t know, The Underachievers are a Brooklyn-based rap duo founded in 2011 who embrace the 1990′s sonic palette of NYC hip hop. They’ve only released a pair of mixtapes but both are laced with this style of sample-heavy, boom bap, jazz-oriented music. First studio album coming in May 2014, which I’m looking forward to. Almost as much as Action Bronson in 2014.

Read about The Underachievers on Wikipedia.

Published on February 27, 2014

Trouw & Minilogue in Amsterdam

I arrived in Holland yesterday morning after a 17 hour flight from China. I drank coffee all day to stay awake during the day but decided that I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go to a legendary Amsterdam club since it was Saturday night.

That club is called Trouw, built out of an old Dutch newspaper factory in East Amsterdam. Last night Minilogue, Swedish techno duo, were performing there before next playing in Tokyo.

After visiting Trouw and seeing Minilogue I emailed Nemo and he sent me the Youtube links below which introduce them both. They’re below, too. All of this was new to me until yesterday.

About Trouw

Whenever I visit a new international super club I always measure it against the super club that I first developed my DJ senses in: Nation in Washington DC, which hosted Buzz . In contrast to Nation, Trouw is singularly focused on techno music. From when patrons begin to come in the club at 10pm until the crowd thins at 5am, techno music pounds through each of the two massive industrial areas of music.

Trouw featured on Slices, including a lot of beautiful footage of the space:

About Minilogue

Before yesterday I had never heard of Swedish techno producers Minilogue. They made enough of an impression to be unforgettable though, on stage surrounded by an amazing amount of live production equipment with wires running everywhere. They begun playing at 2:30am in the industrial basement room of Trouw.

Their stage setup didn’t look too far away from the image below, taken in their Swedish studio.

Minilogue

Their music is described by them as “hypnotic” and it is certainly that. Being a techno novice, their entire set sounds like a single 2-hour long song to me with subtle twists and turns in long, smooth movements.

Here’s a recent Youtube clip produced by Ableton about Minilogue’s setup:

Published on February 9, 2014
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Song of the Day #154: After the Disco

Broken Bells – After the Disco

American indie rock band Broken Bells released their second studio album today, a follow up to their 2010 self-titled debut album. I’ve been listening to this and Beck’s new album Morning Phase on repeat for several days now. I can already tell that these are going to be two of my favorite albums of 2014 – they’re both amazing.

Read about Broken Bells on Wikipedia.

Published on February 4, 2014
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Song of the Day #153: Melody Day

Caribou – Melody Day (Four Tet Remix)

Caribou - JiaolongOne of my favorite albums last year was Caribou’s “Jiaolong” (pictured at right). This remix from Fourtet combines the best of both artists’ unconventional take on modern music and produces something warm, analog, and not very electronic sounding at all. Released on the Secret Love 6 compilation album on Sonar Kollectiv late last year.

Read about Caribou on Wikipedia.

Published on December 23, 2013
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Song of the Day #152: Sweater Weather

The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather
The Neighbourhood

Album cover art

The Neighbourhood is a 5-piece American band from Los Angeles, famously described as “dark pop”. They played at Coachella this year for the first time, just before releasing their debut album titled “I Love You.”

I haven’t heard many recent bands that sound like The Neighborhood – what I like in particular are the dramatic tempo changes, which are often half-time, like 2:25 into Sweater Weather posted above.

The popularization of this kind of rhythmic variation is becoming increasingly common, which has modern roots in electronic music. Sub genres like dubstep and trap (which are offshoots of drum & bass and hip hop, respectively) have especially propagated this rhythmic trend. I’m happy to see it become more common in genres outside of hip hop and electronic.

Published on November 15, 2013