No Trivia

Archive for October, 2010

Splice Today: DJ Nate – Da Trak Genious


This review of Chicago footwork producer DJ Nate’s Da Trak Genious was written at pretty much the same time as that Flocka piece from yesterday, so they certainly share ideas and also probably some wonky music-crit adjectives, but I’m trying to develop a dark, dance music thesis about all this stuff, alright?

Twenty-year-old Chicago producer DJ Nate makes footwork music, an even wilder, faster, and out-there extension of juke—itself an A.D.D update on house, the Windy City’s mammoth contribution to dance music. Da Trak Genious compiles 25 of Nate’s tracks, unmixed, but sequenced brilliantly, providing a considerable introduction to this fairly under-the-radar style. That style? A 160-beats-per minute rush of syncopated drums and finely chopped, hyper-manipulated samples…

Written by Brandon

October 7th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Flockaveli’s a Post-Crunk Masterpiece


Flockaveli is a post-Crunk masterpiece that fixes the failures of the angry pop-rap genre best known for raucous, high-energy hits like “Get Low.” That’s to say, the shit on Flockaveli’s actually out-there and horrifying, while Crunk got points for just being relatively rowdy. None of those Crunk songs, at least once it moved from Memphis to Atlanta and for all intensive purpose got incorporated, had Buck music’s menace, the weight of Bounce, or the relentlessness of the Hardcore Lil Jon occasionally referenced as an influence. Notice, “Smoke, Drank,” the Lil Jon production on Flockaveli, doesn’t even try to compete with the energy of the rest of the album, it’s just this weak, synthy thing.

Hold up though. This is not one more contribution to the contrarian rap-nerd echo chamber about how this is some shit you just gotta be on or else you’re clueless “mane”, because that’s not what this album is anyway. This is not a rap album, it’s a dance album. A really well put-together dance record that has the uncompromising spirit and worker-bee innovation common in the country’s many regional dance scenes, who despite their differences, are collectively investigating darker, druggier sonic territory for better or worse: The moaning stumbling juke of DJ Nate and others, Araabmuzik’s drum n’ bass MPC blasts, Moombahton’s slowed-fast grooves, Clams Casino and company’s production for Lil B, DJ Burn One’s Pimp C meets Aphex Twin country rap tunes, whatever the fuck Detroit Techno’s doing these days, the still-living and breathing Jerkin’ movement, Chillwave’s depressive dance style, the stacked-tracked terror of Baltimore Club’s youth scene, Witch-house’s middle-school goth thrills, woozy Huntsville trance-rap geniuses The Block Beataz…to you know, name a few.

Appropriately though, given rap’s ever-increasing fragmentation and Waka Flocka’s anti-social rap style, Flockaveli doesn’t belong to a region or scene, but almost entirely to the two minds behind the thing: Waka and producer Lex Luger. Nothing else sounds like this really. If these dudes were holed up in a studio somewhere, and not guys holed-up in a studio somewhere who’ve made a bunch of hits in a very short time, there’d be some wonky, vaguely descriptive name for what they’re doing on “Bustin’ At Em”–an explosion of guitar shards and stuck together drums–or “Grove St. Party”–all slinky synths fighting with layers of shouts and chants-and it’d be far more pretentious than “post-Crunk.” As it stands, here’s a terrifying, energizing party record that’s available at Best Buy in a musical climate that rarely ever lets stuff like this appear unadulterated in any form other than handmade mix CDs and .rar files. So, rejoice.

Written by Brandon

October 6th, 2010 at 9:03 am

Posted in Waka Flocka Flame

How Big Is Your World? Tim Hecker – “Apondalifa”

leave a comment

“Apondalifa,” has more in common with Tim Hecker’s 2007 10-inch release Atlas or 2008’s Aidan Baker collaboration Fantasma Parastasie than it does last year’s underwhelming, plastic epic, Imaginary Country and that’s a good thing. See, the musical mindfuck of all the post-glitch, proto-hypnagogic noise that came about at the beginning of the ‘aughts is that it bypassed all the typical rewards of a music listening experience. There weren’t build-ups or breakdowns, it wasn’t catchy, and more often than not, rhythm of any kind was absent. The experience hearing this stuff was truly temporal: the music engulfed you and shot out a feeling for that moment and that moment only, and then it moved on. This new Hecker track is like that—rather than reach for “transcendently beautiful” histrionics like Imaginary Country, “Apondalifia” grinds and whirls and eventually gets beautiful, kind of.

Beginning at its breaking point, with an ugly, in-the-red mess of sounds, “Apondalifa” spends its eight minutes letting bursts of noise stick out and do a kind of “solo” before another damaged drone, flickers up and get to stands proud. The base of the song though, is disquieting, guitar. Shambling nylon-string squeaks appear early and ultimately conclude the song and in the very back corner of this soundscape is guitar shredding from what sounds like hundreds of feet away. Another bundle of drones does take over for a bit, but the last few moments—most of what the 7-inch will label “Apondalifa Part 2”–is kindly plucked guitar that loops and waddles until it’s no more. “Apondalifia” doesn’t build-up, it falls apart. Even by Hecker’s usually high standards, this is breaking-apart beauty on another level.

Written by Brandon

October 5th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

On Ryan Leslie’s “Christian Dior Denim Flow” Verse…


Late last week, Kanye released “So Appalled,” and tucked inside of that doomy, gloomy beat is the melody to Leslie’s “Addicted.” You really hear it at the beginning of Jay-Z’s verse. Kanye kinda repurposed it as this triumphant but sad, very 8-bit sounding thing, which totally works, but also made me just want to listen to “Addicted” as soon as possible, you know? A few days later, my local radio station played a Ryan Leslie mini-medley (“Addicted,” “Diamond Girl” into um, G-Unit’s “Bottom Girl”) and I’d like to think Kanye’s quasi-quote from “Addicted” reminded the hits station DJ of this 2008 minor hit, because you know, why else would he play songs from like, forever ago? That’s Ryan Leslie’s Top 40 reputation right now: Pretty much non-existent unless some DJ sticks a few personal picks into on an otherwise, Clear Channel-approved playlist.

This week, Ryan Leslie actually takes part in “G.O.O.D Music Friday” along with John Legend, Pusha T, Lloyd Banks, and Kid Cudi on “Christian Dior Denim Flow.” Of course, everybody’s third or fourth favorite nerdy R & B production genius is the most interesting part of the song. In part, he’s interesting because overall, the song is kinda whatever, but mostly because Leslie raps about as well as Diddy and has the same stuffed-nose delivery as early Common and that is a very awesome and memorable combination. He’s also hitting all the things that make Ryan Leslie so fascinating and emphatically not a superstar. He’s doing his morally serious nice-guy schtick here, breaking down some bad bitch at a club or wherever, but not as a hater, but like a concerned, wizened dad or something: “Man, I can see the flaws through your flavor/Look like Wonder Woman and still need a savior.” That’s very clever and pretty vicious.

From there, R. Les is in lecture mode (“I done seen drugs and money run the whole game”) and his half-raps interact really well with Kanye’s brooding strings, and it comes off like a guy genuinely bummed-out about this kind of stuff no matter how many times he sees it. Like, he’s not yet numb to it all like Kanye, and he isn’t comfortable bemoaning it but still sticking his dick in it like Drake or Kid Cudi, so it’s just a shady, messy scene he doesn’t want to be a part of. Then, the verse totally loses steam (appropriately, around the time he says “titties”) but you know, it’s Ryan Leslie and whether he means to or not, he injects something a little too sincere and heart-on-the-sleeve to whatever he does and that’s enough. One of the sub-sub-sub delights of these “Good Friday” songs is that simple: an answer to the question, who’ll show up and how?

Written by Brandon

October 4th, 2010 at 7:42 am

Living With Yourself: Gucci Mane’s The Appeal


The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted is better than Jewelry Selection, not as good as Mr. Zone 6, and far more concentrated and mixtape-like than The State Vs. Radric Davis. There aren’t a lot of guests (far fewer than The State) and the slightly outside of the Fatboi/Zaytoven wheelhouse production pushes Gucci in interesting, near new directions: Soulja-boy-like sad triumphalism on “Makin’ Love To The Money,” relationship raps meeting up with Four Tet-like backwards weirdness (and some ghetto-tech chants and Ray J?!) on “Remember When,” and the closest Gucci can get to chillaxed yacht rap on the “Haterade” and “It’s Alive.” Then there’s “Dollar Sign,” which is Gucci being very wacky (“I’m so fuckin’ paid I just bought the dollar sign”) and meter-obsessed (“so I keep her, feed her treat her like a diva”), which is exactly how we like him. The Appeal is easily the most head-down, straight rapping-est release from Gucci since From Zone 6 To Duval.

Back when The State Vs. Radric Davis was released, it was common to compare it to Tha Carter III in that it was an exciting, rap-nerd zeitgeist-grabbing, masterful major label mess from a mixtape rapper everybody thought couldn’t deliver. The Appeal though, is like Tha Carter II, which means Gucci’s traveling backwards, away from event music (or his best approximation of it) and back towards just quietly, confidently rapping really, really, well.

This rather modest approach fits well with the loose, concept of maturity and comfort with comfort that permeates The Appeal. A sober epiphany (“I fought the law and the fuckin’ law won.”) on album opener “Little Friend” redirects the song’s Scarface-isms and Gucci’s whole tone shifts to a laugh to keep from crying confession: “I could’ve been a doctor, I should’ve been a lawyer, I got to court so much I could’ve been my own employer.”. That’s a line just dying to be phrased differently and delivered as a boast, but Gucci holds back. “Remember When,” which really should just be a disaster, is a love-song (“I met a girl so real that there’s no need to run no game on.”) and that politely-honest approach continues into “Haterade,” where Gucci, in the middle of a particularly strange, fast-slow, mealy-mouthed verse confides “I ain’t hard to please baby. come choose me.” And there’s album-closer “Grown Man” which I talked about here already. All this quasi-mature talk works because Gucci hasn’t changed his approach to rapping one bit and hasn’t necessarily abandoned the stuff he made his name rapping about (putting “Brand New” and “Weirdo” right before “Grown Man” is sequencing genius) either–he’s just a little more willing to reflect. This is the anti-Blueprint 3.

Written by Brandon

October 1st, 2010 at 7:25 am

Posted in Blueprint 3, Gucci Mane