Friday Favorites 8/14/20

Happy Friday Everyone! As many of us are adjusting to a new schedule, whether it be classes, work or both, I hope you all are finding time to do things you enjoy. For me, that means music! This is a playlist  of songs I’ve had in heavy rotation recently that I think others will enjoy too. What follows is a short rundown of the tracks in the playlist:

  1. “PB Jam” by Tkay Maidza: one of my favorites off of her new release, Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2. I love the mood the funk bass and g-funk whistle create on this track. If you like this song, check out my review of the album!

  2. “Agüita” by Gabriel Garzón Montano: GGM is a man who wears many hats. However, “Agüita” is his first time wearing the hat known as hip-hop. With a relentless flow, this one is catchy even if you don’t speak Spanish. Check out my review of his 2014 release, Bishouné: Alma del Huila!

  3. “The City” by Jockstrap: This is one that you really have to experience for yourself. It begins as a heartfelt ballad backed by only a piano. Halfway into the song, however, things get… should I say… chaotic. Stuart Holmes on Youtube aptly describes it as “Regina Spektor meets Aphex Twin.”

  4. “Rollin’ (feat. Society of Soul)” by Dungeon Family: I would be hard pressed to recall the last time I heard a funk/hip hop song in 6/8 time. If one of the vocalists on this track sounds familiar, it’s because of Dungeon’s Family’s ties to Outkast.

  5. “Oh Shit!” by Black Haus: Greensboro’s Black Haus describe themselves as “Four unapologetic black men making music together in a time when bands are dead.” This attitude is on full display on “Oh Shit!”, which is a two-minute flash of blistering punk fury.

  6. “Green and Gold” by Takuya Kuroda: Ya like jazz? On this track, Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda builds a solid foundation on a simple motif. From there, he lets his instrument do the talking.

  7. “Mirage” by Chris Keys, Quelle Chris, Earl Sweatshirt, Denmark Vessey, Merrill Garbus and Big Sen: This one is a posse cut for the abstract hip hop fan, complete with a lofi piano loop and emotional group vocals. If bittersweet is your thing, you’ll love this one.

  8. “Really Love – Live from Spotify NYC” by D’Angelo and the Vanguard: This is a live extended version of one of my favorite songs on Black Messiah. It features extra soloing on the Spanish guitar, check it out!

  9. “walking in the snow” by Run the Jewels: Killer Mike and El-P team up for some scathing commentary on the state of America in 2020, touching on topics of police brutality and the school to prison pipeline.

– DJ Mango

New Album Review

Review: Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2 by Tkay Maidza

Tkay Maidza is a Zimbabwean-Austrialian artist who is no stranger to the underground scene. Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, her third studio release, is an enticing smorgasbord of distinct flavors. In just 8 tracks, Tkay flexes her range as not only a singer but rapper as well, covering trunk-knocking hardcore hip-hop, silky alternative RnB and everything in between. With 26 minutes of runtime, the project plays more like an EP than an album; however, this works to Tkay’s benefit because LYWW2 is all killer, no filler.

My first experience with her was through her track “Awake”. Though it was released as a single in 2019, it fits into the tracklist of LYWW2 like a glove. Originally, I tuned in for JPEGMAFIA’s solid feature, but I stayed for Tkay’s commanding presence on the microphone. With its eerie synth lead, distorted bass, and confrontational lyrics, “Awake” is a banger to be sure.

Tkay reaches into pop rap’s bag of tricks in “You Sad”, which is accompanied by a quirky music video. The result, with its cheery guitar loop and vocal harmonies, is an earworm of a song about boys who simply won’t stop calling. To the ears, this track is diametrically opposed to “Awake”, and the fact that they are found on the same album is a testament to Tkay’s versatility as an artist.

Overall, Tkay Maidza has proven herself a force to be reckoned with on Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, A collection of tracks that are all refreshing in their own right. I would recommend this project to fans of Princess Nokia, Kari Faux, and Leikeli47. Listen to the album.

Favorite tracks: 24k, Shook, Awake, PB Jam

– DJ Mango

Band/Artist Profile

Slept On: Gabriel Garzón-Montano

To French-Colombian multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Garzón-Montano, genre has never been a consideration. This is apparent in his laundry list of musical influences that range from Stevie Wonder to Jeff Buckley to Radiohead, and is reflected in his small, yet impressive discography that draws from styles of funk, soul, R&B and reggaeton, to name a few. After listening to his work, I am frankly surprised he hasn’t reached a wider audience. In fact, you may have heard GGM’s work already and haven’t realized it yet: his track “6 8”, featuring his fragile voice cradled by soft piano chords and patient percussion, was sampled in Drake’s hit “Jungle”. H.E.R’s cover of the same song earned him a Grammy nomination as a songwriter.

His 2014 EP Bishouné: Alma del Huila was his introduction to the world and contains “6 8”, the song that put him on the map. All instruments and vocals were painstakingly recorded to tape by GGM himself to achieve a warm, organic sound. “Everything is Everything”, with its syncopated vocal harmonies, funky bassline, and addictive chorus, speaks of solidarity in the face of universal suffering – easily one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in the past few years. Another highlight is “Keep on Running” which features plunky piano stabs and woozy organs, on top of which GGM sings about the dangers of running from one’s problems.

2017 saw the release of GGM’s debut studio album, Jardín. As a concept album, many of its tracks contain recurring motifs of fruits and plant life, giving the project a strong sense of cohesion. Standouts include “Fruitflies”, which showcases GGM’s vocal prowess, and “Crawl”, whose rubbery bass and backing vocals serve as a callback to Bishouné’s funk sensibilities.

Gabriel Garzón-Montano has proven himself to be a gifted singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, all at the beginning of his career. I can’t wait to see what he does next!

DJ Mango

New Album Review

ALBUM REVIEW: Weight of the World by MIKE

ALBUM REVIEW: MIKE – Weight of the World

BEST TRACKS: What’s Home ½, Allstar, Plans

FCC violations: every track

For the uninitiated, MIKE may appear to be just another artist capitalizing on the hazy lo-fi sound that has pervaded the underground hip-hop scene. While the album certainly embraces this aesthetic – its instrumentals are chock full of obscure loops, pitched vocal samples, and compressed drums – to say that Weight of the World is just another alternative hip-hop project would be a disservice. What sets MIKE apart from his contemporaries is his knack for delivering dizzying flows and his ability to convey emotional gravity in the mundane.

As I said before, Weight of the World does not shy away from lo-fi sensibilities. Every track features a sample so distorted that even the craziest of crate diggers would be hard-pressed to identify it. Out of time drums complement these woozy loops and leave plenty of room for MIKE’s weighty, baritone voice, which he uses to spit bars built upon dizzying internal rhyme schemes. This album’s consistent sonic palette conveys a sense of unity, so much so that Weight of the World feels like a 35 minute-long rap song with dozens of beat switches.

And speaking of raps, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on MIKE’s lyricism. Through his flows he paints fragmented pictures of isolation and melancholy. He raps with an emotional intensity as though he carries – to reference the album title – the weight of the world on his back. With bars like “I need somethin’ fast, somethin’ that’ll cut the traffic/I know nothin’ lasts, prayin’ that don’t bust the sadness” or “The only thing that I inherited was blockin’ help, it’s part of pops’ concern/Remember cringin’ at the mirror, I was not myself, that’s still a lot to learn”, it’s clear MIKE is no stranger to his demons.

Weight of the World is a record whose charm may not be entirely apparent in the first listen. As such, it does require a degree of patience to enjoy. However, when you stop and listen, you’ll find that MIKE certainly has a lot to say.

I recommend this album to fans of introspective, experimental rappers such as Milo and Earl Sweatshirt.

DJ Mango