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Posts Tagged ‘OFWGKTA’

Martians vs. Goblins, Game ft. Tyler, The Creator and Lil Wayne

 

This week has been a rather prosperous one for music. On the heels of releases from Asher Roth and Common we also have a video release from the other side of the spectrum. Just last night The Game featuring Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne released the video for Martians vs. Goblins.

The track has been out for a minute now and is off Games Red Album.

Although the video was just released and I got to admit, I’m kind of digging it.

Now, I am not really a fan of “shock rap” and I have had mixed feelings about both Tyler and Wayne for quite some time, but when seeing this video you can’t help but better grasp the psyche of these three artists.

The video features Game and Tyler battling it out in a haunted asylum, while Weezy remains absent. The videography is rather impressive and also refreshing since the music video has certainly become a lost art.

Also, be sure to take note how well Game and Tyler flow together. Both artists incorporate that slow laid back style that still delivers hard punches.

Keepin’ this one short and sweet. Check out the video!

 

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Review: Frank Ocean, Thinking About You

Everyone is trying to stand out these days.

Every artist searches for a niche’–something that can make them stand out from the rest. Usually this isn’t a bad thing, but unfortunately artists can get so caught up in their “gimmick” that the focus takes away from their talent.

That being said, it’s very refreshing when an artists just lays down a track that eliminates the fluff–a track where they can just show off their raw skills. No need for crazy auto-tuning or a catch phrase–just performing and showing off their artistic prowess.

I think Frank Oceans new track, Thinking About You, is the perfect combination of talent and simplicity.

Ocean has been taking the industry by storm in the past year and is popping up seemingly everywhere. He has had a guest spot on the Jay-Z and Kanye collaboration, Watch The Throne, he has graced the cover of Fader magazine and will be one of the headlining acts at Voodoo Music Festival in his hometown of New Orleans, LA. His success is definitely well deserved, and his new track certainly tells us why.

In Thinking About You, Ocean is singing to a girl and asking if she thinks of him, because he has been thinking of her–for what seems like forever. Very simple story line, but the emotion held in the track is just so smooth.

The track incorporates a very spacey and mellow back beat–this space is ample room for Ocean to tell a great story about possible unrequited love, heart ache and confusion.

His beautiful falsetto echoes throughout the track “or do you not think so far ahead, because I’ve been thinking that forever” are hauntingly beautiful and really makes the track what it is–simple, raw and powerful.

I dig the track because, as stated before, the focus is on Oceans voice and the storyline. The beat combined with the lyrics create an emotion as well as a story, it’s a wonderful combination that shows off Oceans impressive vocal range. Ocean certainly knows how to use his vocals as an instrument.

This is R&B at it’s finest, but I wouldn’t even label it as R&B. The song combines dashes of soul and pieces of hip hop to just make something that’s beyond labels–just a damn good song.
Check it out!

The Tao of MellowHype

I was always intrigued by the Wu-Tang Clan when they cited Kung Fu flicks as their main influence–old black and white films that were horribly dubbed with laughable special effects.

Each member of  The Wu-Tang Clan actually took their name from their favorite Kung Fu movie character, and they also frequently cited different fighting styles within their tracks.

The RZA, leader of Wu-Tang Clan, actually took his love for eastern philosophy a step further and penned The Tao of Wu, a book that combines street smarts with the wisdom of world religions such as Islam and Buddhism

Now, if you think I am about to make the inevitable comparison between Wu-Tang and Odd Future, I’m not. Yes, they are both rap groups and are both known for their outlandish lyrics and behavior. But instead I want to delve further into this topic of Kung Fu culture in hip hop.

Eastern arts such as Kung Fu and Tai Chi believe in “chi” a primordial energy , that when harnessed, it flows out of you. It is a feeling that takes form organically and poetically.

I think the Kung Fu and Hip Hop comparison is far more than just a “cool” novelty.

I feel as if both cultures believe in harnessing an energy found with in us– and when that energy is harnessed just right–art is formed.

Tai Chi and Kung Fu do this by creating graceful movements– while hip hop artists use that energy to form a poetic and passionate product.

My comparison of Odd Future and Wu Tang comes from their Zen-like flow–a rapping technique that comes unrehearsed and is just too smooth to ignore.

Recently, I did a small piece on Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (Odd Future), a “skate rap” group that are taking the music scene by storm. Odd Future has around 11 members, and splits off into various groups–one being MellowHype which consists of members Hodgy Beats and Left Brain. MellowHype recently released their second album BlackenedWhite, and are currently in the studio working on their third piece that’s due out in 2012.

All sub groups of Odd Future, especially MellowHype, have been praised for their lyric heavy rapping style, which comes as a breath of fresh air in a time where auto-tune and lyric weak rap is filling the airwaves.

In BlackenedWhite, MellowHype takes rap back to it’s poetic and angst filled roots.

Rap started as a way to preach about social injustices–but mainstream rap has some how devolved into songs about clubs and rims.

MellowHype  changes the “rap norm” by combining mainstream raps upbeat vibe with the heavy content that can be found in early rap music. Though, most of all, MellowHype’s amazing lyricism, creativity and use of original instrumentation sets them worlds apart from many artists in the rap game right now.

The rapping techniques of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain are unstoppable. As soon as the verse leaves their lips it takes on a world of it’s own. Their lyrics form images–sometimes pleasant while other times disturbing–though they are always effective and each line is packed with passion and drive. Their use of wordplay is some of the best out there right now–as you can see in the attached track Primo from their new album:

“We spit because we’re sick and irrelevant to you relevant
I’m comin’ down but not from my high
I should live in a plane, shit I feel that fly
It’s a bird in the clouds and the sky’s a plain
Nah ho, squash quote, it’s that gal Mary Jane
She wants to retreat from this packed Swisher Sweet
The taste of it is regular, she make the Swisher sweet
From time to time I gotta dish her kief
Cause when she in agreement wanna leave, I let her leaf” 

Once listening to their flow, you’re hooked. After taking time to hear they tracks you begin to “feel” them as well. You sense that the song is energetic–rather than robotic. It’s very genuine and also fun to listen to. 

Of course the Odd Future duo aren’t prophets or spiritual guru’s, but their style is certainly a testament to the creative energy that can be found in rap music today.

Go grab a copy of their album BlackenedWhite today!

Image Courtesy of Sunset In The Rearview

Frank Ocean- Novacane

Since they both appeared at the same time, it’s natural to compare The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.

Especially since they are both R&B inspired and both sing about similar content–drugs and sex. However, there are nuances that make them far different.

Weeknd seems to fully embrace their high and their deviant behavior–they are aware that it’s a coping mechanism but they enjoy it, and are okay with being the sleazy drug pushers at the party.

Where as Ocean is the cat that seems to be high but doesn’t want to be. He sings songs about all the things he wants to do once the high finally wears off–he mentally takes note of them–he seems to dislike his drug filled ways. His tracks are very introspective and deeper than face value–I dig that.

Novacane is a love story of sorts. He meets a girl at Coachella who came to see the mash up artist Z Trip, while he was there to see Jay Z. The girl is working her way through dental school by doing porn on the side, atleast she’s working, quips Ocean. Her drug of choice is novacane, which in turn numbs Ocean, but not only physically but emotionally too.

“… love me good, love me numb, but when I’m gone love me none.”

The “numbing” of the drugs is, in fact, clever word play.

Not only is he physically numb from the drugs but the song is about the emotional numbing that drugs and societal ideals can have on people.

He takes a hit of novacane from this random girl at Coachella and all of a sudden he is okay that she is a mash up fan who does porn on the side, because hey “at least she’s working”. Completely non-chalant and apathetic.

Through out the track Ocean talks himself into liking the girl, and he justifies his behavior–he is numb to reality and he is numb to his true feelings about her. Drugs and society have made him callous to feeling and even worse–detached to personal interaction.

The intro of the song discusses how every track is auto-tuned with zero emotions, “they are computing all emotions”— he paints this picture of everyone being desensitized. He blames the “numbness” on the girl who introduced him to novacane– the numbness being physical and emotional–but I think it’s deeper than just that.

The girl represents the appeal of sex and becoming famous and after taking a “hit off of fame” Ocean is numb to everything.

He is robotic and only wants more “worldly” things to keep him going, striving for these things has made normalcy near impossible–girls have become conquests rather than people, and life has become stagnant and emotionless.

Ocean is saying that the things society has labeled important, things such as fame, drugs and sex, are taking away from true relationships.

Ocean is subtly urging us to not become numb, and to be alive to feeling and alert to the people that come into our lives.

Not bad, Mr. Ocean, not bad.

Novacane is a simple melody that’s very vocal based, and vanishes abruptly upon the end. The power of the track comes from the small nuances, the quips here and there and it’s lyrical content–a song about drugs– but also one of the most realistic songs about personal interaction on the radio right now.

Check it out, and keep your eye on Frank Ocean for great stuff in the future.

Image Courtesy: Sweet Lyrics

Who is OFWGKTA?

With dark hooks and psychotic lyrics that have been described as a horrific car accident you can’t help but stare at OFWGKTA has snuck into the rap scene, and in a way that only they can, are making a name for themselves.

I have been a bit hesitant to write about these guys–out of fear of misinformation or that I would have to write about them later on during my internship anyway but their presence in the music scene is making this post inevitable.

So, what is OFWGKTA? 

A group of 11 or so self proclaimed skateboard rats ages ranging from 16 to 19. OFWGKTA stands for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, normally shortened to Odd Future or OFWGKTA.

So, who is OFWGKTA?

The leader of the group is Tyler, The Creator. The second most prominent member is Hodgy Beats and the third is 16 year old Earl Sweatshirt who was recently sent to boarding school by his parents, which in turn started an internet phenomenom to “Free Earl”.

Besides the main pack of 11 guys,  the group breaks off into varying sub groups, two being EarlWolf (Tyler and Earl Sweatshirt) and MellowHype (Hodgy Beats and Left Brain).

Tyler, The Creator at 19 signed a deal with XL Records and the group signed a deal with Sony’s RED development agency to start their own record label, Odd Future Records.

The group was recently featured on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.

This is interesting in itself due to the obscurity of the group–they are mainly known for playing at DC Nightclubs and have a lot of their fan base online. The Late Show’s band leader, Roots drummer, and over all industry leader Quest Love was actually the guy to request that the appear on the show.

Their appearance also had industry moguls such as Jay Z and Kanye West watching, and even lead Eminem to give them praise on a few occasions.

So, what’s the big deal?

It’s like Children of The Corn, Clockwork Orange and every other film featuring a dystopian society with anarchist teenagers have formed together to create these guys.

They are beligerent and psychotic but have a vocabulary that Webster Dictionary would applaud, and their psychotic lyricism and violent song content would make even early Eminem blush.

However not all songs are violent and over the top. Each rapper in the 11-some group has their own stylings that they bring to the table, granted each one is equally as over the top as the other, their personalities and rapping styles very much compliment one another.

Some (including me for some tracks) may shy away from the over the top violent lyrics and dark hooks of Tyler, The Creator or the crazed lyrics of some of the other rappers  but it’s hard not to appreciate these cats.

They are young but extremely prolific, their witty lines and multisyllabic rhyme schemes are far more technical than most mainstream rap today. The group also creates their own beats with no samples, granted mixing with samples can be an art in its own right–it’s still a feat that the majority of rappers on the radio can’t claim.

Another point that they are praised upon is that they speak their mind, they don’t try to fit into any mold or genre–they just write what they want to write about. This also shows in the evolution and maturity of their albums and mixed tapes, with their newer content being a bit more serious but still just as wild.

Final thoughts?

Their sound may not be for everyone, but what they are doing is noteworthy. Tyler has often been compared to Kurt Cobain for his disdain of popular rap music today and has stated his reasoning for starting the group on some of his tracks:

“I roll with skaters and musicians with an intuition, I created O.F. cause I feel we’re more talented, Than 40 year old rappers talking about Gucci, When they have kids they haven’t seen in years, impressing their peers, With the same problem, the only way to solve them.”

Also, their “wolf pack” mentality can be compared to groups such as Wu-Tang Clan, a group that also had numerous members with outlandish personalities. Their gritty underground and group based hip hop hasn’t been seen since groups like Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang was known for doing very similar things–having very technical rap with a very “out there” lyrical content, however no matter the lyrics it was always praised for being on point–the same can be said for Odd Future.

Odd Future is certainly different from what’s being heard today–overly looped samples and hollow lyrics– they are fresh and certainly unique with most of their content being a jab to mainstream Rap. Some songs may have an over the top looped sample in which it’s obviously mocking mainstream rap or some songs just may straight up call out varying rappers for lacking depth.

Don’t get me wrong, they are harsh. Some songs just seem a bit too over the top and a lot of people may not dig what they have to offer, but it’s hard to say that they don’t bring a unique product–and as much criticism that they get they won’t care–and they will keep hitting us with the same over the top content that they have been for the past few albums.

So keep ’em on your radar, you may like what they have to offer.

Image Courtesy: We Are Hunted