The Starting Five (5/1/14)

Here at Bonus Cut our mission is to focus on hip-hop culture, current events, community building, independent artists making a difference on all facets, hip-hop education, the four pillars, unity and love. We have stressed time and time again that “new hip-hop music releases” isn’t our goal, and it never will be, but there are still instances where there’s an important hip-hop cut that can’t be ignored.

On that note, we will be sharing some projects that we feel deserve attention. Whether for their cultural impact or musical fluidity, these are songs we’ve stumbled upon at some point in our lives that shouldn’t be passed up.

GUS’ STARTING FIVE

Apollo Brown – “The Warning”
Thirty Eight, Apollo Brown’s newest instrumental project, was released just this week. As explained in its description via Mello Music Group: “Tinged with revenge and regret, shrouded in thick tendrils of hollow-point smoke, the songs have all the makings of an epic gangster tragedy. They’re also great when paired with anything Raymond Chandler.” This could not be more true of the sixth track, “The Warning.” This epically smooth track blares with brass and seems that it could accompany a montage of some no-good wise guys rolling around in a Cadillac in 1940s Hollywood looking for trouble. Whatever that trouble is, it best be warned.

Thurz – “Riot”
This is the seventh track from Thurz’s L.A. Riot. Full disclosure, this track does indeed feature Black Thought and I’m pretty sure y’all already know how I feel about the talented Mr. Trotter. As to be expected, Thought lays it down over an organ infused beat that lends itself perfectly to his raspy flow. In all honesty, Thurz is ready to go as well with lines like: “I’ve been tellin niggas I’m a terrorist/ A biopsy might show you what the weapon is.” It’s just a good time with some good rappers.

Chance The Rapper – “Juice”
Ah! I enjoy this track because it is just so smooth and it just makes you want to move. There is also something to be said about Chance’s flow and how well it works with the vaudeville sounding piano riff and in your face proclamations of “Juice! Juice!” If you can listen to this joint without needing to move your body, figure it out. Oh and as he says, “Do you realize everybody in the world fuckin hates the Lakers?” Truth.

Nique Love Rhodes – “Hey Love”
I have had the honor of interviewing Nique on two different occasions. Both times we had very in-depth conversations about femininity, community engagement, African-American history, gentrification and the way these things play out within the localized context of the Detroit hip-hop community. Not only is she up on all these issues, she is an incredibly talented MC that makes quality music. “Hey Love” keeps live with a song about falling in love and how great that feels. This is accentuated with the Brazilian style groove that is being laid down. Nique Love Rhodes, remember that name.

Jahshua Smith – “Panthers”
From his Black History Year: Installment Two, Jahshua (FKA JYoung The General) enlists raps from the perspective of Huey Newtown, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense. The beauty of this track is that he enlists the help of One Be Lo, Mae Day and J.A.E to rap as Bobby Seale, Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver, some of the other founders. What is created here is a track that portrays what the Panthers actually stood for and were about. Some of these things were self-defense, education and community empowerment in the face of federal and state governments that were manipulative and highly racist. What becomes clear is that the legacy of the Panthers lives on and continue to inform how we might empower our communities in the present.

DANIEL’S STARTING FIVE

Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric – “Savagely Attack (feat. Ghostface Killah)”
Remember when Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric released CZARFACE? I still think it was slept on.

Madlib – “Slim’s Return” 
I remember vividly the first time I heard Madlib’s Blue Note cover/improv album. It was a mind-boggling experience, and I can safely say that it was one of the biggest reasons I started digging through jazz crates. Here Madlib covers and concocts jazz joints with a hip-hop flare (as if we didn’t already know the connection between the two) and Slim’s Return shows a steady slew of hard-hitting percussion, background strings, bouncy bass rhythms and a beat to vibe to. It’s not the album’s highlight track, but it’s the one that gets it off the ground.

Dana Hall – “Black Mountain” 
Here’s another jazz cut for you, and it’s strictly jazz. Dana Hall is a music professor at DePaul University’s School of Music in Chicago, and along with that, he also releases elegant music in his spare time. His quintet consists of trumpeter Terrell Stafford, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Rodney Whitaker and Tim Warfield, Jr. on the saxophone. Dana himself is behind the drum kit. “Black Mountain” is a tight rhythmic blast of energy, with exploding drums, zig-zagging sax rings, hard-tapping keys and a chemistry where you can feel each musician working off of each other.

Slum Village – “Fall in Love”
“Don’t sell yourself to fall in love with those things you do” 

Castle – “Orientation”
Have I mentioned how much I hate dead-end jobs? Well, instead of listening to me, just listen to Castle’s “Orientation.” These are the kind of jobs you hold when you’re in college, when you’re in-between jobs, when you need money and when nothing better surfaces. So basically, these jobs are everywhere, and they’re company-oriented without any fairness to the employees. “Will you guys screw me on availabilty?/ I have class in the evening and I’d like to have the energy/ To stay awake in class and even have time to study/ But it’s fine either way cause I desperately need the money.”

 

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