This week’s Sunday segment defies the norm, with an out-of-genre inclusion from the Grammy Awards a week ago. We also find a Hip Hop remix, with an evolved member from an early ’90s Jazz Rap outfit, making some of the best music of his career. Lastly, a Southern mainstay snuck under the radar with a powerful mixtape track, featuring one of their contemporaries.
Battles featuring Shabazz Palaces – “White Electric Remix”
Only a few months after I first started drumming I got a one year subscription to Modern Drummer magazine as a gift. One of the few parts of the magazine that didn’t make me feel like quitting the instrument was a section where drummers listed the albums that were most influential to them. The one I remember most was John Stanier’s from one of my favorite ’90s bands Helmet. While most other drummers had chosen obvious – but still completely foreign to me – LPs from King Crimson, Zappa and The Mahavishnu Orchestra – John Stanier included The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. The unfortunate thing was that on a rhythmic level there couldn’t have been a band more unfriendly to a Hip Hop collaboration than Helmet. (I’m not counting their track with House of Pain on the Judgement Night OST.) Thankfully one of Stanier’s later projects the experimental Rock group Battles which also includes Dave Konopka of Lynx and Ian Williams of Don Caballero – begs to get the Hip Hop treatment.
This week marks the release of the second in a series of “Drop Gloss” 12-inches that remix tracks from Battles’ strong 2011 Gloss Drop album. Included is the Alchemist‘s take on “Futura” and this dusted out version of “White Electric” from another 2011 favorite of mine, Shabazz Palaces. A dream collab for fans of both groups, the whole track starts straightforward enough – by Shabazz standards – with Ishmael Butler (f/k/a Doodlebug of Digable Planets) dropping bars on top of the remnants of previous bars thanks to liberal helpings of delays and reverb. The track then devolves into flanged vocals and glitchy digital sounds vaguely resembling the original rhythm. Rather than build again into the ending cacophony of the original all that’s kept is a sample of the high guitar picking partially swallowed by the percussion heard on last year’s “Black Up.” More for your shopping cart… – Michael Sheehan
Listen to “Electric White” by Battles featuring Shabazz Palaces
Nappy Roots featuring Aleon Craft – “Gotta Git It”
I’m a big fan of organ music. Booker T. & The M.G.’s, Billy Preston, Spencer Davis Group. I love when Hip Hop uses organ, say, in like Freeway‘s “Line ‘Em Up.” I say that to say that in the early ’00s, I never gave the Nappy Roots much mind, besides the fact that “Awnaw” was one monstrous organ-backed Rap single in its day. In the last four years though, I’ve come to understand how vital, as well as how slept-on Nappy is. 2008’s The Humdinger remains one of my favorite LPs from that year, and this group, like OutKast and Goodie Mob, did a fantastic job incorporating back country images with a deep understanding and musical backbone of golden-era Hip Hop.
Last week, “Gotta Git It” nearly went under my radar, in part due to wack cover art from Drank N’ Dank’s Dripped Up mixtape that it comes from. However, along with dues-paid rising star Aleon Craft, Nappy uses this moment to make an album-worthy song about pushing ahead and pursuing one’s passion. Admittedly, I was deeply let down by last year’s Nappy Dot Org, despite a strong single and early fanfare, but records like this are why I believe that along with (another Kentucky-tied group) the Cunninlynguists, the Nappy Roots are terribly undersung in the Southern Hip Hop landscape. – Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)
Listen to “Gotta Git It” by Nappy Roots featuring Aleon Craft
Adele – “Rumour Has It”
An unconventional Slept-On Pick, I know. However, the balance of comments attached to this song in our Audio Section led me to want to write about it. Besides being an incredibly strong single (21 is a great album, by the way) the track is arguably R&B. When Amy Winehouse passed away (and even before that), there was a gaping hole in music where her specific style used to live. Adele is continuing in Amy’s footsteps, crafting what white male R&B singers are known for as “Blue-Eyed Soul,” only eye color (and skin color) has nothing to do with it. Hip Hop has embraced Adele for a while – Lil Wayne sampled her on “Sorry 4 the Wait” plus Tyga on “Reminded” . This song “Rumour Has It” is big on its own, though. Thunderous bass intros the song, while Adele’s full-bodied voice holds notes longer than most rappers’ mixtape cuts. She’s sassy, she’s soulful, and she doesn’t give a fuck. For the most part Adele gets respect from the room – long before her Grammys sweep. Others though tend to listen with their eyes, the biggest foul in the music game. Adele is probably crying all the way to the bank, but nonetheless her song was slept-on at this site. Don’t sleep any longer. – Kathy Iandoli (@Kath3000)
Listen to “Rumour Has It” by Adele