Tag Archives: mixtape

The Mixes: The Dreamin’ in Color 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 “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

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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. 

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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Album Review: “Acid Rap” by Chance the Rapper

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By: Harry Jadun 

“Balancing on sporadicity and fucking pure joy. Nightly searches for a bed and I just came off tour with Troy. But I can’t complain I got some motherfucking business. How many lab partners have I fucked since I got suspended?” -Chance the Rapper, “Good Ass Intro” 

Coming off of his 10 Day mixtape, which was inspired by a high-school suspension for weed related activities, much was expected of Chance the Rapper for his recently released mixtape, Acid Rap. Judging from his unorthodox delivery, outrageous ad libs and funky instrumentals that are tethered down by hard-hitting percussion, it’s clear that Chance has graduated to harder drugs for his newest work of art. The listener benefits from this, as it allows Chance to delve deeper into his mind as he explores many different topics, from crime in Chicago to watching orange Nickelodeon VHS tapes as a child. Chance takes us through a trip, poetically painting vivid pictures of life as a burgeoning rapper from Chicago.

Chance’s unique style was introduced to us on 10 Day but he has refined it for Acid Rap, in which his recipe for success calls for many different genres and inspirations. Here he blends aspects of acid jazz with samples of Kanye West and Tupac; moreover, he throws in clever word play, a little bit of Spanglish and even a Russian accent. Cue in his Lil Wayne-esque raspy, flawless off-key singing, and sprinkle his trademark “igh” ad libs on top and the final product is a quirky and delicious meal for listeners’ ears to feast upon.

It’s clear that Chance is proud of where he comes from, as he name-drops just about every significant rapper, landmark or business in Chicago. He doesn’t forget to bring his Save Money crew along for the ride, and features fellow Chicago artists Vic Mensa, BJ the Chicago Kid, Noname Gypsy, Lilli K and Twista. As a man of his city, this builds up his credibility as a Chicago native as well as a reliable voice for what is happening in the Windy City.

When hearing a story, the listener must never forget where the tale is coming from. Fellow Chicago rappers, such as Chief Keef, glorify the violence that plagues the streets of Chicago, which is commonly referred to as Chiraq due to the amount of homicides that has now exceeded American troop casualties in Afghanistan since 2012. Chance the Rapper, who dropped out of college to pursue a rap career after his good friend was killed in a stabbing in 2011, provides a different viewpoint. Throughout Acid Rap, Chance tells the story of Chicago through the eyes of a humble, down-to-Earth 20-year-old who lives in a city that’s in way over its head. Never is this more prominent than in “Pusha Man,” which starts out with Chance as a local drug dealer boastfully rapping about threesomes and drugs. The song then slows down, presenting us with the red pill that is the harsh reality of living in the streets of Chicago: “I’ll take you to land, where the lake made of sand, and the milk don’t pour and the honey don’t dance, and the money ain’t yours.” Even though he wishes he could be “Captain save the hood,” he admits he roams around the city with a gun on his hips, not to contribute to the violence, but to protect himself. Later on “Acid Rain,” Chance admits that he “trips to make the fall shorter.” It is this brutal honesty about himself as well as his surroundings that makes Chance such a lovable character.

Acid Rap also provides Chance with a stream-of-consciousness diary to explore his thoughts and reflect on his life, seemingly discovering himself bar by bar throughout the mixtape. His vibrant images and deft wordplay allow him to convey complex thoughts and feelings with ease. On the ultra-relatable “Cocoa Butter Kisses” Chance reminisces on his childhood when he watched Nickelodeon, and can’t help but hate the monster he has become, “wiling off peyote like Wiley the Coyote… Put visine inside my eyes so my grandma would fuckin’ hug me.” Throughout Acid Rap Chance takes listeners along for the rollercoaster ride as he grows up as a rapper and human being.

Although the topics that Chance takes on are very intense, he never fails to keep it light and fun, providing the listener with an odd sense of optimism that’s infectious upon listening to his charismatic flow. On the interlude, he relishes the smaller things in life that we take for granted. On the outro, he channels his inner Kendrick Lamar and uses a recording of a phone conversation with his father to show his love for his family. At times like these, Chance reminds us that he is still a kid, naively optimistic in a city under a dark shadow of doubt.

Of course, Chance takes some time to pat himself on the back for all of his achievements. On the playful “Favorite Song” he teams up with superfriend Childish Gambino and provides the listener with some witty, English-bending bars. He half-heartedly compares himself to the Miami Heat, metaphorically compares LSD to Lake Shore Drive and says fuck you to his high school faculty. All is good in the world of Chance the Rapper, who has transformed from a suspended high school student to the feature of magazines and blogs in less than a year.

After listening to Acid Rap, it’s hard not to agree with Lilli K on the introduction when she sings, “Even better than I was the last time, baby.” Chance the Rapper has improved as a rapper over the past year, and provides us with a vivid trip through his thoughts and feelings. Luckily for us, on “Chain Smoker” he lets us know that this isn’t his last work of art: “I ain’t tryna go out at all, got a lot of ideas still to throw out the door.”

“Cocoa Butter Kisses (feat. Vic Mensa and Twista)”

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