Category Archives: The Mixes

The Mixes: The World Cup Mixtape

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By: Daniel Hodgman

The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.

PAST MIXTAPES
The Mixes: The “Dice Raw” Mixtape
The Mixes: The “Dreamin’ in Color” Mixtape
The Mixes: The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape

The “World Cup” Mixtape

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know full well that the biggest sporting event is taking place this year: The World Cup. Despite the stories surrounding Brasil and FIFA’s actions regarding preparation for this year’s tournament–and believe me, there was and still is a lot of controversy–the fact remains that these countries and squads are playing now and that hundreds of millions of fans are enjoying these games. Today I’d like to share some tunes from countries participating in the tournament and get everybody groovin’ to some worldly music.

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The Mixes: The Dice Raw Mixtape

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By: Daniel Hodgman and Gus Navarro

The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.

Past mixtapes: The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape
Past mixtapes: The “Dreamin’ in Color” Mixtape

The “Dice Raw” Mixtape

Philadelphia MC, Dice Raw, has been in the game for quite some time. He may not be as well known as some other MCs out there but he always steps correct and comes to the table with bars. On August 19th he will release a solo album entitled Jimmy’s Back. This was inspired by Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, which challenges the staggering statistics regarding the “War On Drugs,” the school to prison pipeline and the mass incarceration of African-American males. This is an important issue that is being addressed in academic scholarship as well as hip-hop. The goal of this mixtape is to feature some of Dice Raw’s best moments and highlight his growth as an MC unafraid to drop line after line, to a fearless artist that uses his music to provide critical social commentary.

Gus’ Picks

“The Lesson Pt. 1” –Do you Want More?!!!??!

“I guess you’re believin’ that I’m insane / When I’m taggin’ my name upon the train / I got so much pride, I got so much soul / With lyrics I make niggas stop, drop and roll.”

From way back, Dice is in rare form as he slays this track from start to finish.

“Clones” –Illadelph Halflife

“I train wack MCs, in camps like ex-marines / Why the fuck you think you went home and had bad dreams of horrifying things that your ass never seen before? / You traveled to the realm of Dice Raw / Where the clones get they domes blown with chrome microphones.”

Dude is not messing around with the metaphors on this one.

“How I Got Over” –How I Got Over

“Out on the streets, where I grew up / First thing they teach us is not to give a fuck / That type of thinking can’t get you nowhere / Someone has to care.”

On this one Dice somberly provides the lyrics for the hook, effortlessly complimenting the laid back groove laid down by The Roots.

“Tip The Scale” –Undun

“Gettin’ money’s a style that never plays out / Til’ you end up boxing your stash, money’s paid out / The scales of justice ain’t equally weighed out / Only two ways out, digging tunnels or digging graves out.”

Dice Raw’s development as an artist is on full display as he sings the hook and an insightful verse in which he discusses the challenge of avoiding incarnation.

Daniel’s Picks

“Ain’t Sayin Nothin’ New” –Things Fall Apart

“With CD’s, cassettes, no C.O.D.’s or checks / Straight from the old school, aiyyo Raw’s in full effect.”

Dice Raw’s delivery in “Ain’t Sayin Nothin’ New” is scratchy and scattered, but he keeps supplying kick-punching one-hitters that all the mind is focusing on is his ability to lyrically attack.

“5 Stages of Death” –Reclaiming the Dead

“16 to your back, you ain’t going to make it.”

Most of Dice Raw’s debut record is poor, and that’s not even a big knock against him, it’s just that he’s always been a wonderful piece to The Roots’ records (Dice Raw is to The Roots as Cappadonna is to The Wu). However, “5 Stages of Death” is a very interesting take on songwriting, and it’s here where we see Raw’s imaginative mind.

“I Will Not Apologize” –Rising Down

“Don’t blame the nigga, blame America, it’s all business / Acting like a monkey is the only way to sell tickets.”

Dice Raw throws color-blind racism right at your face without dumbing it down.

“One Time” –Undun

“Cause we all going down just like the subprime / Or a cheap ass half gallon of Ballantine.”

One of the smartest lines I’ve ever listened to. Either we’re going down like the mortgage crisis or a cheap half gallon of alcohol.

Make sure to stay tuned for August 19th and the release of Jimmy’s Back. In the meantime, watch this short documentary from Dice Raw that illustrates the challenges faced by convicted felons and the redemptive power of music.

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The Mixes: The Dreamin’ in Color Mixtape

mixtape_cassette-13651

By: Daniel Hodgman

The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.

Past mixtapes: The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape

The “Dreamin’ in Color” Mixtape

The theme behind this mixtape is that of fulfillment. It’s an ode to the songs that make you breathe and take everything in; it’s an ode to certain tracks that captivate the liveliness of space and illusion; and it’s an ode to those who create masterpieces that impose multiple branches on the tree of a certain song. The “Dreamin’ in Color” mixtape has a lot of themes and variety, but all of the songs are centered on a single track of greatness. Enjoy.

“Down for the Underground” -Lord Finesse

“The same guy gotta maintain my remain fly / That’s here to be, produced and arranged by / Buckwild, Lord Finesse the double-header out to flip cheddar / Stars on the rise like Chris Webber”

Depending on how you listen to the production, Buckwild either reminds you of starry skies or dreams full of Cheshire Cats and the Ace of Hearts. Or, it could remind you of something completely different. “Down for the Underground” is a testament to Buckwild’s skill behind the beats, and to this day he is still underrated. Lord Finesse supplies the track with hard-headed and precise flow, and overall, “Down for the Underground” is that perfect blend of herbs and spices.

“Bluebird” -One Self

“Drinking wine reminds me of what honest is / Making me wonder where the hell the logic is”

As if this track glides on an ice field of groovy bass stabs and twangy guitar riffs, “Bluebird” gives you the feeling of doing anything.

“Gold Soul Theory” -The Underachievers

“Freeze, repeat, rewind, back to the time I was blind / Never, I always incline the Third Eye”

Maybe it’s because this track is soaked with MJ, but “Gold Soul Theory” flies higher than a lot of other new age hip-hop tunes.

“Changes” -Tupac

“Learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers”

If there’s one thing you should know about Tupac, it’s that despite his changing styles throughout his career, he was always able to succeed as a poet. It wasn’t just his lyricism or his cadence that grabbed the attention of millions, but it was the way he presented himself on each and every track. His attitude is something often overlooked by critics, but in reality this is why he stood out. “Changes” may be one of those tracks you’ve heard too many times, but it perfectly exemplifies Tupac’s grit.

“Yoke the Joker” -Naughty by Nature

“I can snap, rap, pack, click-clack, patter-pat-pat / Take that ass to the point you have to ask for your ass back”

After hearing Treach’s opening verse, this song fully takes you.

“Orbit Brazil” -Flying Lotus

“Orbit Brazil” is Flying Lotus doing what he does best. His composition of blips and beeps mixed with experimental percussion and non-regular patterns is odd but fulfilling. The main synth breakdown is purely a takeoff into the outer reaches of space, and while orbiting over Brazil I’d love to blast this.

“Daddy Fat Sax” -Big Boi

“My daddy told me it was mine for the taking”

The pulsing introduction, Big Boi’s presence, the shrieking background synths, the joy. This song gives you the confidence to do anything. Walk into work or class with this blasting and the results will come.

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The Mixes: Keeping a Current With What’s Current

mixtape_cassette-13651

By: Daniel Hodgman

The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes. 

The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape 

The theme behind this first installment is simple, in that all this mixtape focuses on is newly released cuts. However, delving beyond this, the reoccurring theme is that there’s new music being released every day and some people don’t get a chance to listen because of missed opportunities or a lack of the songs output. This mix will feature recently released songs from both popular and underground artists, and although there’s no concept except the fact that these are all new, it should be noted that all of these artists are worthy no matter where we are in time.

1. “Flags” -Reks

“I don’t live for U.S.A. hear me / I die for the theory” 

For years Reks has made a name for himself in the Boston underground hip-hop scene with his conscious themed songs and raw delivery. His upcoming record Revolution Cocktail (July 2nd) is bound to continue spraying his insightful thoughts, and “Flags” is just a snippet of what that might be. From the very get-go Reks slays the track over a rough and buzzy synth backdrop and ambient club-like synth pad. Discussing gang-violence and the glorification of capital, Reks has just about had it, and he certainly isn’t the only one.

2. “We Movin'” -AZ

“I play, check the resume, fuck what a record say / Only a fuse to the fire could only rep this way”

Listen to AZ on “We Movin'” and then go back to his 1995 classic Doe or Die and try to figure out the difference in his lyrical delivery and flow. You want the easy answer? There is no difference. AZ is an MC that has adjusted to the changing ways of hip-hop’s sound–just listen to the production on “We Movin'” and you’ll notice more glossy new age ripples–while at the same time sticking to his 90s roots with his rhyme scheme, cadence and song topics. These are the traits that make an MC timeless, and when considering some of the most influential artists of the last 20 years, AZ has to be on your list.

3. “Graves” -Ugly Heroes 

“Start thinking bout the folks who gotta do this til their graves.” 

Ugly Heroes is Apollo Brown, Red Pill and Verbal Kent, three artists from the midwest who give us music that tells the story of the hard-ridden working class of America. Ugly Heroes wouldn’t be a success strictly on this theme alone, and that’s why this project is so special. On the piano and horn-heavy track “Graves,” producer Apollo Brown makes the track breathe with an addicting beat that throws your ears on a blue collar musical conveyor belt, while Red Pill and Verbal Kent mix rhyme with reason, touching on subject matter that is rarely touched upon. Their self-titled LP dropped on Tuesday and has already climbed up to #17 on the hip-hop iTunes Top 100.

4. “Special Education” -Goodie Mob feat. Janelle Monae 

“I eat nuclear waste and spit atomic bombs / Petroleum explosions my trademark / Bust through clouds and sidecarted brain farts.” 

Ah yes, where would we be without a Goodie Mob reunion? Moreover, where would we be without all of these Cee Lo-related projects coming up? With “Special Education,” Goodie Mob teams up with the ultra-talented hip-hop soul musician Janelle Monae to bring us a song about individuality and self-confidence. What may poke your ears prominently is the production, which ravages the listener with a heavily industrial backdrop full of pulsing bass throbs and distorted shrieks. During the chorus Monae graces us with a come-down of sorts over a twinkling beat before the Mob takes over with their rough plot line verses.

5. “In a Minute” -Sir Michael Rocks feat. Ab-Soul and Da$h

“All you need is a minute / Heart jumping out my chest any minute”

“In a Minute” is a composition of MCs that are all familiar with each other and their place in hip-hop. Sir Michael Rocks (one half of The Cool Kids) teams up with up-and-coming Ab-Soul and Da$h over a Larry Fisherman (Mac Miller) produced beat. “In a Minute” isn’t much but a ganj-soaked song about inevitable youth action, but it’s an interesting look at some popular new-age MCs joining forces.

6. “Billy Butcher” -Oscar O’Malley

“No more accession / Me and her being together just causing tension”

Oscar O’Malley’s performance here is riveting in that every couple of bars you’ll hear him change his cadence. “Billy Butcher” almost seems like a poetic journey over instrumentals in the beginning until Oscar picks up his tempo along with the beat. Adding on to this, as the song progresses you’ll hear him slam detail from a relationship into bars relentlessly and then suddenly flow into a few sung lines. Oscar O’Malley’s versatility here is tremendously engrossing, and if you can’t strictly focus on his content, then focus on his delivery over this boisterous beat.

7. “Dodging Dark Clouds” -MoRuf

“Think I’m bullshitting cause it took an extra year for a nigga to graduate”

“Dodging Dark Clouds” is just one of those songs that reminds you of life. MoRuf’s New Jersey flow reminisces on the everyday grind, college and James Blake, and the beat just flows under light-tapping piano keys and percussion chimes. The surprise comes at 2:15 when the beat plays backwards and MoRuf continues to spit. I wish he would release more material, because he’s one hell of an MC.

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