U.N.I.T.Y. – Queen Latifah x HiFadility

Recently, HiFadility released a new track, U.N.I.T.Y., a flip of the classic Queen Latifah humanist anthem.  We have posted about HiFadility several times over the past couple of years, and we are always excited about new releases because of the unique sound.  In a very pleasant way, you never know what to expect!  In this track, it’s really interesting how this production retains the 90s boom bap sound, and at the same time blends the echo-y 808s and stuttering high hats of trap and a jazzy sound.

HiFadility keeps Queen Latifah’s vocals, continuing his sonic tradition of including spoken thoughts on social equality from notable figures. We saw a lot of this on his earlier works Where The Soul Lies (2012) and C’est La Vie (2012), so it’s interesting to hear how artists evolve their sound and production. Continue reading

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Case of the Mondays: Focus Artist – Courtney Barnett

It’s a little late for a Case of the Monday’s post, but I have to say that I’m a new fan of Courtney Barnett, who performed at the SXSW festival this year. The artist just dropped her new album today, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Her lyrics are incredible, intricate, thought-provoking…and just downright good story telling. Even better, she released the album through her own label Milk Records through indie stalwart Mom + Pop.

One of songs garnering a lot of attention on the album is “Depreston.” Pitchfork writes:

“Depreston” is Barnett’s somber tale of house-hunting in the suburbs of Melbourne, a sad neighborhood with few cafés and visible crime, heavy with an emptiness you can feel in this spacious, mid-tempo music. The song is rooted in a dilemma of all artists—that of finding a cheap place to live on the outskirts, of embracing domestic self-reliance and just brewing your own coffee—but it winds its way into a poignant ballad of memory, death and growing.”

I’m also a huge fan of Avant Gardner, a song from her last EP, and “an autobiographical account of trying to turn a life around through gardening, only to be foiled by a severe allergic reaction.”

For reference, born in Sydney but raised in remote Tasmania, Barnett started playing guitar at 10 and was in several bands before settling in Melbourne, where she enrolled in art school and eventually took a job at a shoe store. “I was good at it but started hating myself,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘This is f—ed corporate shit, selling overpriced shoes to kids who saved up their pocket money.’ ”

In other words, Barnett is the artist that really doesn’t care what others think..which ironically, will probably make people care about her more.

Drake Pulls a Beyoncé and Drops a Surprise Mixtape: “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late”

Drake pulled a Beyoncé last night and dropped a surprise mixtape, but the guy tweeted it right before midnight. Who does that?(!?!) Normal people have to sleep on Thursday nights, Drake. You almost made us miss history.

It’s ok though. Despite the title, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” I think we have time to get ahead of the crowd on this one. Only ~2000 plays per song on soundcloud so far (it’s available on spotify and iTunes as well). I’m going to start working through the songs…I’ll give an update later. P.S. I’m hearing this is just a precursor to an album. Per The Verge,
Continue reading

10 Music Artists to Watch in 2015

Happy 2015 everyone! New year, new beginnings means…

we will all try to lose weight for a few days before giving up.

BUT it also means new music. If you’re like me, you’re tired of playing the same songs on Spotify to cure your “sickness.” And you’re hoping for something fresh, because seriously, you don’t really want to be like Kanye. SO hip-hop junkies, music fest addicts, anti-Grammy category advocates, people who appreciate realness, and really just love to hear everything before the world does (*takes deep breath*) will ALL love this list of top 10 artists to watch in 2015: 

Kat Dahlia

“If Sia, Miley, and Rihanna had a vocal baby, Kat Dahlia’s voice would be it”

dahlia

It’s been a long road for Kat Dahlia and her fans, but after two years of anticipation, her album My Garden will finally be released on January 13, 2015. A pseudocyst found on her vocal cord was the reason Dahlia was forced to take a musical hiatus, cancelling her first US headlining tour, a series of club dates in key cities on the East Coast, and delaying the spring 2014 release of her album. Since then however, she’s fully recovered, and notably, has penned every song on the album (including one in Spanish) with the exception of “Crazy”. If you want to hop on the bandwagon before everyone else, check out her music videos “Gangsta” (below) and “Crazy.” And take a listen to her album which was just released to be streamed on NPR yesterday (you’re welcome).

Raury

raury

Raury is an 18-year old Atlanta native whose music has been compared with the likes of Andre 3000, Bon Iver and Kid Cudi. He dropped his debut project Indigo Child at the end of August, and has already impressed Kanye West. Similar to an artist like Lorde, his sound doesn’t exactly fit into a genre. And quite frankly, that’s what makes him interesting. While some of his lyrics still encompass the marks of a teenager with room to grow, 2015 could be a year he breaks out into the mainstream.

I’ve been waiting, I’ve been sitting thinking ’bout this situation / Like I’m MLK, I’m speaking out against the segregation

I can make it through the gate and open it for all my brethren / I don’t mean to ruffle feathers, n*ggas talkin’, b*tches hatin’

Contemplatin’ every single move you make and study you / Ready boo, n*ggas go through Earth and Hell and Heaven for a story based on Raury / Far important tryin’ to force me to a category

–Raury, “Higher”

Chet Faker

chetfaker

Chet Faker is one of those artists that makes you wonder if the Grammy’s should get rid of music categories altogether. He’s a 22 year old Australian that hails from a set of parents who had different tastes in music, which ultimately shaped his own. “My mum was listening to a lot of Motown…” he describes in one interview, “I think that’s where I got my love for a good hook, a good soul hook…and then my dad would listen to the chilled out Ibiza CDs; all that super down tempo female vocal kind of stuff.” While his real name is Nick Murphy, Chet says his stage name is an ode to Chet Baker and the mood of music he used to play. So who knows what we’re dealing with here…a Motown-EDM infused genre? Either way, it’s fascinating, and his “No Diggity” cover truly speaks to the changing times. He’s popular in Australia, but let’s see if he gains some traction in the US in 2015.

HiFadility

hifadility

HiFadility is an artist that you must watch out for in 2015. He’s a classically trained jazz pianist whose projects blend the genres of electronic and hip hop that oftentimes, will paint a landscape in your head that you can’t describe to someone else. Unsurprisingly, his accolades are countless, from winning Boston’s Next Hot Music Producer Competition in March 2014, to displaying his avant garde jazz and hip hop sound at the Museum of African American history in 2014 for a standing ovation. What makes him especially exciting this year however, is the new project he is set to release in March titled “The Queens”. I’ll let the music speak for itself rather than go into details about the meaning here, but trust, it will be worth listening to.

In the meantime, check out his four prior projects at iamhifadility.bandcamp.com and his production on the track “I Love My.”

Tink

tink

In about a week Tink will celebrate her 20th birthday, and the Chicago-hailed singer/rapper/songwriter will have a lot to toast about. She recently released her second mixtape, Winter’s Diary 2 and has a Timbaland-produced album on the way. In fact, Timbaland compares Tink to Lauryn Hill, and while that remains to be seen she does seem like the real deal. In an interview last year, the artist voiced her opinion on hip-hop: “People expect us, female rappers, to just talk about bullshit [or] sex. People stereotype female rappers a whole lot. They expect us to talk a certain way, to look a certain way [and] dress a certain way. And I’m not with that. When you listen to my songs you hear messages and real stories.” Keep it real Tink, we’re watching.

Sampha

sampha

This one seems a bit ironic to write since many blogs featured Sampha as an artist to watch in 2014. While his popularity has risen from his feature on Drake’s songs (“Too Much” and “The Motion”), along with SBTRKT’s songs “Temporary View” and “Wonder Where We Land,” it seems the world is still waiting for him to make it big. His last EP titled Dual was released in 2013, and it’ll be interesting to see what he has to offer this year – will he become the breakout artist we’re hoping for, or choose to stay on the sidelines and feature on other songs? Only time will tell.

P. Reign

P. Reign is another Drake-derivative (admit it, it’s a thing), with many new fans hopping on his bandwagon after hearing the song “DnF,” which features Drake & Future. The Canadian-born artist is due to turn 29 in January, but has a long road ahead of him if he can continue the momentum. He dropped a much anticipated EP in September of this year, and so far fans seem to love him. Doesn’t hurt that his second most popular song “Realest in the City” features up-and-coming artist PARTYNEXTDOOR (yes, another Drake-derivative).

Alina Baraz

Let’s go way underground for a second, and step into the world of Alina Baraz, a 21 year old Cleveland native. Baraz dropped out of college and re-located to LA to pursue her career in music (why not go all out right?). Aspiring artists should take note: Baraz was discovered by Danish producer Galimatias via SoundCloud after creating the song titled “Drift” over one of his productions. Since then, they’ve released Make You Feel and are expected to release an EP Urban Flora this fall. Her music reminds me of a dream-like sequence, a Michelangelo painting, or as her EP cover suggests – a work of art.

Brika

Raw, soulful, truth. Just a few words that will come to mind when you take a listen Brika’s beautiful voice and powerful lyricism. She’s been featured on this site before for her song ‘Options,’ but she deserves another go around here after the release of her EP Voice Memos in December 2014 (remember those things you used to leave on your iPhone…or maybe still do?). Point blank, much like Sam Smith, Brika could sing “blah blah blah” and it would still sound relatable.

Zhu

Zhu was one of the fastest emerging artists of 2014, but with his debut album set to hit next year, we think he deserves a spot in 2015’s rising stars. His marketing campaign has been genius, to be frank. He prefers anonymity, and while his identity is now known, he continues to perform in the shadows and let his music speak for itself. In just one year Zhu has had a hit single in 10 territories, a US deal with Columbia Records and a booking at HARD Day of the Dead directly preceding Deadmau5. With the soaring popularity of live music shows, especially in the summertime, Zhu is in the perfect spot to sell some records.

Hope you’ve found some hidden gems in this list. If you want to follow what I’m listening to, check me out on soundcloud.

New Song: Brika – Options

I can’t stop playing this song. It’s so good, that I’m going to let the music speak for itself on this one. But in case you’re curious about the artist, here’s a bio from Brika’s VEVO page:

Brika can best be called a product of her unique surroundings. She was born and raised in Miami and despite her eclectic taste, her primary influence is Coldplay. Her music can best be likened to a Pollock painting or a Rauschenberg collage; overflowing with fast, temperamental bursts of creativity, imbued with a daring sense of honesty, and charged with a damning refusal to be categorized or quelled for the sake of fitting a description. Her natural charisma and traveler’s air lend an impulsive and nomadic tone to a body of work characterized by simple, cryptic lyricism and minimalistic production. Thematically, her mind seems attached to a few key fixations (loss, psychology, and the nature of truth), all expounded on in fresh and innovative ways through the power of song. A true iconoclast, Brika is a talented singer-songwriter with enough rawness and accessibility to enthrall audiences the world over.

One of those Days? Take a Listen to Kait Dunton

Every once in a while, you get that feeling of exhaustion. You just want to fall backwards onto the floor, spread your arms out wide like an angel’s arms and slowly whisper, “why me?”

If today’s one of those days for you, then take a listen to Kait Dunton. Kait is an incredibly talented pianist/composer whose music tells a story…and while us millennials have seemed to stray away from the jazz age in favor of something more “electronic”, sometimes — when it’s one of those days — raw music is all you need. Here’s a snippet from Kait’s bio:

KAIT DUNTON is a Los Angeles based jazz pianist and composer. Kait’s music pushes the definition of jazz into new realms with her expansive and richly compositional concept for piano trio and other ensembles. Her love of story and travel imbue her music with a sense of journey and imagination, inviting listeners through her sonic creation of narrative and mood – and on the bandstand, Kait and her trio radiate with musical joy and energy.

My favorite is “Real & Imagined” …

Chance the Rapper Samples the Theme Song from ‘Arthur’…and it’s Beautiful

ONE: I used to love Arthur as a kid. Seriously, he even inspired me to read – which is a tough task when you’re 5 years old.

PLUS

ONE: I also love pianos, and dissonant tri-tones and minor keys…

EQUALS TWO: where 2 is Chance the Rapper’s new song titled Wonderful Everyday: Arthur, featuring the Social Experiment. Listen all the way through because it sounds strange at first. Seriously, I had to pause to make sure I wasn’t listening to two songs at once by accident. It gets pretty epic around 2:00. Epic’s probably not the right word, but you’ll see what I mean.

Doesn’t it sound like one of those songs where you feel like you should be walking along with an angel who shows you flashes of your childhood? Or something?

 

Case of the Mondays – Focus Artist: Jakubi

AYO to Mrs. couch potato, she’s in her own world in the state of San Diego…

 

I’m sure we can all agree that Mondays seem like the perfect time to be a couch potato. But alas, this society of ours dictates that we MUST get up and make a living for ourselves.

That’s why we need music like Jakubi’s newly released ‘Couch Potato’ – to remind us that we can dream of being lazy, sleeping, dreaming….

In all seriousness though, I love this new single by Jakubi, an Australian band that has garnered a strong online following and is set to tour through America in just a few weeks. They uploaded their first track ‘Can’t Afford It All’ to Soundcloud in 2013, and since then, they have over a million plays via YouTube and SoundCloud. According to their kickstarter:

“Jakubi have signed with Melbourne’s 123 Agency and are represented by New Frontier Touring in the U.S. Jakubi’s unique flavour is made up of an irresistible combination of jangle guitars, hip hop beats and sailing synth rhythms. From melding the sounds of a talk box one minute, to reggae-inspired guitar the next – the band’s diversity is reinforced through their infectious, experimental collection of songs.”

Also check out their kickstarter video to learn a bit more about the band. They’re apparently on track to record an EP with a ‘major producer,’ which means…you should probably go see their show while it’s still cheap. I haven’t been able to find their tour dates, but when I do, I’ll be sure to update this post.