#GuelphMusicClub: Top 5 Songs of 2014, Pt. IV

Happy 2015!

I don’t know about the rest of you but my holidays were jam-packed.

Got nowhere near seeing¬†every person I had hoped to…

things there's never any time for: hair washing, studying, getting into Stanford, etc.

Things there’s never any time for: hair washing, studying, getting into Stanford, etc.

Nevertheless, here we are entering the new year and I have yet to wrap up my latest installement for the #GuelphMusicClub.

So, let’s get on with it then!

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kimbra

How many of you are familiar with New Zealand’s, Kimbra (@kimbramusic)?

Those of you who are were most likely introduced to her as the featured artist on¬†Gotye‘s (@gotye) Record of the Year¬†(2013), “Somebody that I Used to Know“, otherwise known as one of the most irritating songs of all time.

But don’t expect more of the same when it comes to her own material.

The Kiwi has shown a knack for the experimental since the beginnings of her career, pumping out genre-bending compositions that make her a tough artist to pigeonhole.

Dipping her feet into everything from jazz to indie-rock to disco and just about everything in between, her chameleon-like abilities¬†tend to result in projects that¬†avoid establishing any one particular “comfort zone”.

And yet, when it comes to her latest record, the Golden Echo, what else can you refer to it as except for a fucking fantastic pop record?

Kimbra - the Golden Echo (2014)

Kimbrathe Golden Echo (2014)

When you take a look at its all-star cast¬†of songwriting / feature collaborators, Kimbra‘s eclecticism becomes immediately clear and¬†apparent.

The likes of Daniel Johns of Silverchair (@Silverchair) fame, Matt Bellamy of Muse (@muse), Mark Foster of Foster the People (@fosterthepeople), Thundercat (@Thundercat), Bilal (@Bilal), and John Legend (@johnlegend) all receive credit for their contributions.

If you get into the deluxe version, the diversity expands even more so with Jonas Bjerre (@jonas_bjerre) (!) of Mew (@mew), Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (@ORLProductions) of the Mars Volta (@themarsvolta), and Ben Weinman (@dillingerescpln) of the Dillinger Escape Plan all showing up by name in the liner notes.

And though they were left off of the album, she even collabed with Flying Lotus (@flyinglotus) and Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors (@DirtyProjectors) during the creation process.

Not to be overlooked, the production quality on this project is bar none.

Overseen by the famed Rich Costey (@RichCostey), the album also contains the fingerprints of top names such as Fraser T Smith (@FraserTSmith), Dave Tozer (@DaveTozer), Matt Morris (@MattMorris), John Hill, and Keefus Ciancia.

She displays an ear-to-the-ground credibility by enlisting Mystery Skulls (@MysterySkulls) as well as (in my opinion) one of the most overlooked producers in rap, M-Phazes (@Mphazes), to handle a portion of the board work.

In spite of the impressive roster, it is Kimbra and her boundless vocal range that shines and subsequently dominates your attention here.

Whether she’s being fun and upbeat or soft and sultry, the huge¬†and often dreamy melodies¬†captivate while you travel¬†through her¬†tumultuous pop journey.

It should also be noted¬†that she¬†herself is credited as a co-writer and co-producer on every track which is doubly impressive considering she is rubbing elbows with a who’s-who of the industry.

A truly unique talent, Kimbra turned me into a big fan of hers in 2014 and I can’t wait to she where will be going next.

My no. 2 song of 2014 is “Miracle“.

Awesome video, too.

Kimbra¬†‚Äď “Miracle”
from the album, THE GOLDEN ECHO  (2014)

I’m rising up. Sometimes, I want to get away. And from the moment I met you, I’m ready to fade. I ran into a brighter day.
– Kimbra, “Miracle”

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Crate Diggers: Back on the Map Edition

It's baaaaaaaaaack!

It’s baaaaaaaaaack!

Well, look who it is!

Crate Diggers has returned.. and I have been sleeping!

My bad as it appears that fuse (@fusetv) has taken to posting the full episodes on their own website, with only the teasers being released through their YouTube channel from this point forward.

Given that this development went completely over my head, there are three entries in the series that have dropped since the show went on hiatus.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the free version of WordPress only supports a handful of sites when it comes to video embedding, so from this point forward, I will have to embed the teasers and post a link directing to the episode.

Crate Diggers 2014 gets underway by sitting down with three bona fide underground legends.

Let’s have at it.

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First off, we are privy to a sit down with Chief Xcel (@ChiefXcel), the DJ and producer for the Blackalicious (@blackalicious_) crew.

His collection is so massive, he has now taken to collecting storage units and hiring interns to sort through his crates.

Blackalicious are prepping for the release of their comeback album, Emoni, scheduled to drop very soon.

In my opinion, Nia is one of the best rap albums ever. I would love to hear a return to that sound.

Expectations are high regardless.

To see episode no. 35 in its entirety, click below:
Chief Xcel on Crate Diggers

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In the next episode, Crate Diggers meet up with DJ Qbert (@DJQbert), he of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and the world famous Rock Steady Crew.

This episode is an entertaining one. In particular, I really dug getting to see his comprehensive picture disc collection.

Qbert has always been a fun dude and it really comes across in this episode.

Enjoy it!

To see episode no. 36 in its entirety, click below:
DJ Qbert on Crate Diggers

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And to conclude, we have the most recent episode with Domino (@hierodomino) of Hieroglyphics (@HieroImperium).

Quite a thoughtful episode, as Domino keeps things old school, speaks upon his pride in the 93 ’til Infinity album, and reveals that the infamous Dante Ross (@DanteRoss) was responsible for his introduction to Del the Funky Homosapien (@DelHIERO).

We also get an impassioned speech pertaining to the value and integrity of vinyl as an audio format.

To see episode no. 37 in its entirety, click below:
Domino on Crate Diggers

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Great start to the new year!

Really looking forward to getting back into the groove of catching a new episode every Wednesday.

To check out the full Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter Р@Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: DJ Scratch

djscratch

Yesterday marked 11 years to the day since the passing of Jam Master Jay.

It’s wild that it’s been that long.

R.I.P.

How fitting, then, that Crate Diggers was able to catch up with DJ Scratch (@DJScratch), he who was introduced to the world via the legendary JMJ.

In fact, fuse (@fusetv) released a teaser video with an exclusive outtake that highlights the friendship and respect between the two DJs.

RIPJMJ

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I was privileged to see Scratch perform with a freshly reunited EPMD in NYC at the 2007 Rock the Bells festival.

Peep my shitty video which predates the superior smartphone camera technology of today:

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Each episode of Crate Diggers is special in its own right but every once in a while, they manage to link with an artist who is sitting on an extremely impressive collection.

When you see the amount of red and blue vinyl he has from the 70s and 80s, it really is mindblowing.

I didn’t even realize they were pressing coloured records like that back then!

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Dude has LL Cool J (@llcoolj) test presses, possibly the most ridiculous Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) I’ve ever seen, as well as acetate discs (or dubplates or lacquers or whatever else you nerds wanna refer to them by) so rare that there can’t be any more than a handful of people in the world lucky enough to be holding these pieces within their collection.

Of course, he also has 45s for days and gives viewers a friendly reminder to step their 12″ single game up!

I don’t wanna spoil too many of the surprises as this episode was a real treat and Scratch comes across as a very informed and humble dude.

And extended props to Crate Diggers itself – programs like these will be vital in maintaining and extending the lives of the vinyl and digging cultures.

Pearls of wisdom at the end of the episode as we become privy to a choice conversation with Grandmaster Flash (@DJFlash4eva).

Learn somethin’.

Take a look at episode no. 34 below:

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To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter Р@Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: Rjd2

rjd2

I have mixed feelings about Rjd2 (@rjd2).

Like most fans of underground hip-hop at the time, I was blown away by Deadringer when it dropped back in 2002.

Looking back, the early-to-mid-aughts could be regarded as something of a “golden age” for indie rap and Rj‘s debut album is arguably one of the most influential records to ever emerge out of the genre of instrumental hip-hop.

At the time of release, Definitive Jux were leading the scene, having garnered universal acclaim for introducing the likes of Mr. Lif (@therealMrLif), Cannibal Ox (@CannibalOx), Aesop Rock (@AesopRockWins), and for launching the solo career of label founder, El-P (@therealelp).

So the success of Deadringer really can’t be overstated as it allowed for other producers to get their own solo deals and release their own instrumental albums rather than the standard beat tape.

Without laying that groundwork, there wouldn’t have been a lane available today for guys like Diplo (@diplo) to build an empire with the stature of Mad Decent.

(I certainly could not have pictured dude hawking BlackBerrys back when I purchased Florida in ’04).

Nevertheless, Rjd2 would go on to become one of the most in-demand underground producers for the rest of the decade.

At some point, he must have gotten bored and it began to show through his own work almost immediately.

Since We Last Spoke showed a steep decline in quality compared to its predecessor and Rj began making disparaging remarks about his own back catalogue as well as rap music as a whole, referring to it as “moron music”.

At the time, the lines between indie rock and indie rap were beginning to blur and it appeared as if he was no longer satisfied with being a mere producer. Rj now saw himself as a singer / songwriter.

That’s cool and all but that epiphany resulted in one of the shittiest albums I have ever heard in the Third Hand.

Artistic expression is something I will always support, even when I’m not personally into it, but to piss all over everything (and everyone) that brought you to that point was a real turn-off from a fan standpoint.

I even got into a Twitter conversation about it with DJ Mekalek (@djmekalek) of Time Machine who concurred:

*** Ed’s note: if you aren’t familiar with Time Machine, please believe that Slow Your Roll is one of the best rap records of the past decade. Also, check out last year’s Vicious Experiments (free download). These dudes are way too slept on.

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moreisthanisnt

Back we are to the present day and Rjd2 is attempting to reclaim some of his past fanbase by creeping back onto the hip-hop scene with his latest release, More Is than Isn’t.

I’m not convinced. A lot of this shit sounds like a re-tread. Like a Diet Coke¬ģ version of his former self (with extra¬†SPLENDA¬ģ).

Personally, the only track I’m really feeling is the collaboration with Phonte (@phontigallo).

The rest pretty much sucks.

Despite all of this, a beat nerd is a beat nerd and this is still a great episode.

Rj shows off a lot of unusual pieces within the crates but reveals a different side from most producers with his atypical organizational methods and general disinterest in collecting.

He even makes reference to a musical crisis he experienced in the late 2000s which may actually explain his brief flirtation with cardigans and white snobbery.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit even though I lost the majority of my interest in this clown many moons ago.

He’s still got stories, at least!

Take a look at episode no. 33 below:

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To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter Р@Jasonrnewman

Bowjia Officially Drops BALLOONIVERSE

bowjiatrees

The wait is over.

Bowjia (@Bowjia) have officially released their debut album, Ballooniverse.

As predicted, it doesn’t disappoint.

The production duo have been kind enough to make this a free / PWYC release, though I encourage you to push a few dollars their way if you’re able.

The record is available for download through their Bandcamp page which gives you the option to grab the files in the format of your choice.

You can also stream Ballooniverse below in its entirety:

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Long-time supporters of the group may remember that Bowjia put out a “soft launch” of the album in early 2013.

This early rendition of the record featured a different tracklisting from the new official release.

Let’s compare:

EARLY RELEASE

ballooniverse1

OFFICIAL RELEASE

ballooniverse2

As you can see, the tracklist has been refined and we have been blessed with three brand new tracks in the form of “Hold Me Close (feat. Mallory)”, “New Tropics” (which we premiered exclusively back in June), and “In Your Nature”.

You already know we love Bowjia here at the PRISM and have big expectations for them in the very near future.

Grab the album, pass the links around, spread the word, and share this post if you’re feeling the beats!

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Being that the guys in Bowjia are quite technologically savvy, they made the wise decision to sell their record on a customized 2GB USB drive during their early 2013 soft launch rather than pressing up a bunch of worthless compact discs.

Smart. Current. Why aren’t more musicians doing this?

I was lucky enough to cop one at the time and it’s very slick.

bowjiaUSB

The good news is that more of these flash drives have been made available for the official release.

Contact the group directly to purchase one of these exclusive items while they’re hot.

They won’t last!

bowjia.com
facebook.com/bowjia
twitter.com/bowjia
youtube.com/bowjia
soundcloud.com/bowjia
bowjia.bandcamp.com

Crate Diggers: the Gaslamp Killer

gaslampkiller

It is always a pleasure to see a Crate Diggers episode approaching 20 minutes in runtime.

The series is gaining some serious momentum and the line-up of guests gets more impressive with each month.

In this latest installment, fuse (@fusetv) links up with L.A.’s own,¬†the Gaslamp Killer¬†(@GASLAMPKILLER).

For the uninitiated, the Gaslamp Killer is one of the better eccentrics in hip-hop today, in terms of his personality and his production style.

He released one of the top albums of 2012 in Breakthrough.

And he nearly died of internal bleeding last July after a horrific scooter accident.

The man is now without a spleen.

Signed to Brainfeeder (@BRAINFEEDER), the record label founded by fellow weirdo, Flying Lotus (@flyinglotus), we become privy to a collection that is very international and filled with a diverse array of rare cuts.

We even get to see a few one-of-a-kind FlyLo test presses.

This is another gem of an episode so don’t waste any more of your time reading this trash.

But shout out to Donald tho.

Take a look at episode no. 32 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
And follow series creator, Jason Newman on Twitter Р@Jasonrnewman

Crate Diggers: Evidence

evidence

Back again one time with a fresh episode of Crate Diggers coming hot off the press.

Truth be told, at one time in my life, I regarded Evidence (@Evidence) as one of my favourite producers.

I still remember when Dilated Peoples (@PeoplesDilated) dropped the Platform.

At the time, the internet was just beginning to pop off and Dilated were making the transition from underground to major label.

Expectations were high, as right around this time, cats like Black Eyed Peas (@bep) and Jurassic 5 (@jurassic5) were cracking the mainstream with their modern takes on old-school flavoured, traditional boom-bap.

But while the aforementioned were toying with breezy funk and soul samples, Dilated went straight gutter on the beats.

Ev handled about half the production, a still up-and-coming Alchemist (@Alchemist) sat behind the boards for a few tracks, and they even got some joints from two of the most underrated rap producers from the 90s – Kutmasta Kurt (@kutmastakurt) and the god T-Ray (@venicefreakshow) – the latter of whom is now taking pleasure in being the star of his own freak show reality program instead of making dope records!

I mean, this guy has won a few Grammy Awards, for fuck’s sake!

Either way, the Platform will always hold a special place in my heart and it still stands up to this day.

I started losing interest in Dilated by the time they released Neighborhood Watch. They seemed to hit a period of stagnation; aside from the odd standout, the records were starting to feel like retreads.

Saying that, it has now been seven years (7!!) since their last record together and I have high hopes for their comeback album, Directors of Photography, due out on Rhymesayers (@rhymesayers) sometime in 2014.

Also, the downtime has blessed us with some amazing solo project from Ev as the Weatherman.

Not to mention that he and the Alchemist have a collaborative album due out by the end of the year.

This is another terrific episode. We even become privy to a choice story involving JAY Z (@S_C_) and a pre-fame Kanye West (@kanyewest).

Evidence is one of those rare producers who appear to have no particular rhyme or reason when it comes to organizing their vinyl.

Some of his pieces are in straight up bad condition. It makes me a little uncomfortable.

In any case, he certainly knows what he’s doing with all that wax. Enjoy this one.

(According to the schedule, October is going to be a great month with new episodes focusing upon the Gaslamp Killer (@GASLAMPKILLER) and Rjd2 (@rjd2) dropping on the 2nd and 16th, respectively.)

Take a look at episode no. 31 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.

Follow fuse.tv on Twitter – @fusetv
And series creator, Jason Newman@Jasonrnewman