Archive for January, 2007

Saturday Morning Soundtrack


Saturday Morning Soundtrack

Instinctual Template Download
Unoticed Download
Rope Burn Download
from Saturday Morning Soundtrack (2006, Fill In The Breaks)
Buy at iTunes Music Store

In this cooperative experiment of twisted samples, intermingled lyrics and fridge worthy themes Ecid (Fill in the Breaks), Impulse (Fill in the Breaks) Capaciti(Hecatomb) and Kristoff Krane (Abzorbr and Face Candy) have given birth to a severely rare form of hip hop resulting in the creation of a never expected project to be, tagged with the name, “Saturday Morning Soundtrack”.

It occurred one day to Ecid, founder of the record label, “Fill in the Breaks,” to piece together a project where he could supply himself and three other MC’s, who he though were worthy of collaboration, with his own hand picked beats. It just so happens that all three people that he proposed his plea to decided to go out on a limb, before all of the members even met each other. After assessing first impression Kristoff, Capaciti and Impulse all agreed that this would be worth there time and they began, that following Saturday. It didn’t take long before these four individuals managed to merge their self-absorbed lanes into one unpaved road that anyone would be hesitant to walk down alone.

With Ecid’s desperate attack wrapped in sincerity, Capacities heart-driven persuasion, Kristoff’s flimsy intention vibes and Impulses outbursts of piercing touch this group winds up generating noise that is bound to lure listeners toward a destination that is unknown to their ears.

Ecid, the one responsible for gathering this group of individuals states: “We wanted to make an album that would be stripped down, honest and simply put, “free,” free in the sense that it wouldn’t be restricted by any boundaries whether that be writing, rapping and or beat-wise.”

There first and only full length record, “Saturday Morning Soundtrack,” contains everything from pretty and colorful to bouncy and anxious, but regardless of what style is delivered, one can always sense the degree of care and concern imbedded in this assembly of explorers.

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Mikial – AIWA (As I Was Always)


Mikial

Im Honest Download
Keep It Raw Download
from AIWA (As I Was Always) (2006, Mikial Music)
Buy at iTunes Music Store

On the streets of Oakland, home to fast cars and fast living, he is known as the sharp witted lyricist “Mik Diesel”. Fueled by theology and intellect, Mikial has surpassed most on the raceways of lyrical improvisation, better known as the fine art of freestyling. He has been blessed with the opportunity to work with Muslim artists like ElevenFiftyNine, Kumasi and M-Team, but also reached beyond our horizons to make music with Rza, Busta Rhymes, Battlecat, RassKass, and Cali Agents. A truly accomplished underground emcee, Mikial describes his own music as “thought provoking” juxtaposed with “grimy hip hop”. It’s no wonder how he managed to work with some of the best, even so early in his career. And without a doubt, Mikial has intentions on making his music a life-long ambition.

Music, however, seems to run in the family genes and Mikial isn’t the only prodigy. His mother was a Gospel singer, which Mikial feels influenced personal decisions to fully represent Belief and Worship in his own music. Likewise, his uncle produced Bay Area legends Digital Underground, who originally promoted Tupac Shakur, another one of Mikial’s artistic influences. When I asked Mikial who his favorites were, he answered, “Tupac. His story alone seemed so amazing aside from his music.”

And Tupac’s tales of triumph aren’t his alone; Mikial has endured similar struggles that are passionately presented in his songs. “My music represents my lifestyle and that’s an everyday struggle,” he stated during our interview. He was born in a small town in Michigan, later moving to California in the eighties where it all began for his life as a musician. Indeed, the eighties were formative years for Hip Hop altogether, as a universal culture. All through that time artists were still using the most basic skill an emcee had to possess- the ability to freestyle and rap “off the dome” as Mikial frequently puts it. “I think its my personal gift to make music…and it’s sad that politics have affected hip hop where emcees are afraid to freely express themselves without some type of benefit other than creating beautiful music,” Mikial commented. The benefit he is referring to is a financial one, which seems to be the motivation for most “rappers” today. The desire to make a statement, while demonstrating skills, has been replaced with the desire to become a notably wealthy icon in pop culture.

Mikial’s most recent album Halal 2.1 was produced by and released through ill Product, a local label ran by Dominic Agatep. When relating Mikial’s ambition, Dominic said, “Mik is a beast. This guy would be in the booth recording every day and every hour if his schedule allowed it. If he’s not recording with me, he’s making songs with someone else…he’s a “natural”. Even though he has an amazing talent, he remains humble.” Halal 2.1 was completely and miraculously unrehearsed, “I was given the opportunity to release halal rap, which means pure, lawful and clean…what’s amazing about this album is that I freestyled the whole EP, with the exception of one song.”

I also asked Mikial if this album would serve as a comeback for the art of improvisation and questioned as to whether or not he feels that freestyling is an abandoned convention, “No, I think that freestyling is still relevant to real heads. What Halal 2.1 will do is raise the bar for creativity in freestyle records, because people (do) freestyle songs, but I’m the only one to freestyle a whole record.”

When some of Mikial’s fellow Remarkable Current artists were asked to comment on his abilities, Ensahbanor of Mujahideen Team and Kumasi gladly responded. Ensahbanor explained that Mikial’s style is “lyrically deadly” and elaborated that, “The art of delivering a freestyle is part of the culture, many people are not really involved or care about the culture. Most people are in the game today simply for the money.” Ensahbanor has been afforded the opportunity to record with Mikial too, on the cut ‘100 Bullets’ featuring Mikial, Ishaaq Nur, and Kumasi, describing it as a “powerful combination”.

Southern California’s Kumasi has a slightly different take on the art itself, affirming that any such gift comes only from Allah (God). “This is something that is a gift from our Lord. Freestyling, for some, is allowing ALLAH to flow through you…this is not about rap, it is about servitude and obedience.” And Kumasi is most certainly correct in proclaiming the realities of God given talents, which both he and Mik Diesel possess. (Yahsmin M.B. BoBo)

Bay Area Goodies: Mavrik


Mavrik

Walk Around It (feat. DJ Platurn of The Oakland Faders) Download
This Music (feat. Bishlam Bullock) Download
from About Face (2007, Skoman Productions)
Buy at RealNetworks / Rhapsody

Mavrik distills the essence of hip hop through both banging beats and realistic lyrics. The duo, comprised of Loren “Tallswest” Tolman and Yohannes Skoda, bridges together diverse influences that include not only the rich tradition of Bay Area hip hop, but also those of the East Coast, Kenya and India. Combining for well over a decade worth of experience in the culture and lifestyle of hip-hop, influences include: A Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre, Digital Underground, Rakim, Nas, Wu Tang, E-40, Al Green and Marvin Gaye to name a few. Mavrik has performed alongside The Crown City Rockers, Lunar Heights, Ill Adapted, Feenom Circle, Felonious, Shotgun Wedding Quintet, Digital Underground, The Gift of Gab, International Loose Cannons, Stymie and the Pimp Jones Luv Orchestra, The Wylde Bunch and Raw Deluxe. The music uses both beats and the negative space around beats, creating a unique sound that stretches the musical boundaries of hip hop. The lyrics reflect the varied experiences of both artists, making Mavrik universal in sound and story.

In a time where more and more people are seeking truth and honesty along with skill and ability, Mavrik’s first full-length album, About Face, musically meets these needs. About Face is a cohesive album that gives a fresh perspective on today’s hip hop landscape, applicable to its listeners every day life. Mavrik’s raw nature proves that authentic art also makes the best art. The cinematic album demonstrates the duo’s ability to touch their listeners – to make them move, both internally and externally. While some songs, such as “Here We Go,” both humorize and humanize the every day challenges people face, other songs, like “Surrender feat. The Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) and Jennifer Johns,” carry the listener through a dark schizophrenic journey that leads ultimately to the realization of hope. Throughout About Face, Mavrik invites people both identify and find new meaning within themselves, sparking new light on the darkness while accentuating the positive aspects of life – and never misses a beat.

2007: Test of Time – ERU


ERU

Arm Up Download
Slums Download
Test of Time Download
from Test of Time (2007, Required)
Buy at iTunes Music Store

ERU is an artist born from the fires of seventies soul and the birth of pop in the eighties. His musical influence is his mother. ERU’s mother was a renowned female DJ in the world famous Inland Empire (Riverside, San Bernardino, Rialto, Fontana CA) in the seventies known as “Simply Merl”. To quote the humble ERU “Moms use to DJ these massive parties and I remember she’d let me sit under the table while she was doing her thing. That’s when I knew music would be a part of my life.” He recalls “I can even remember as far back as preschool when I was into listening to that “Off The Wall” album by Mr. Jackson.”

Strikingly peculiar of the character of aspiring artist Eru (Earl Henderson born 3/25/1978) did not consider himself to be an emcee until the late nineties when he heard people quit talking to the people in their rhymes about issues that mattered and started talking about how they were down to exploit people to get whatever. He ended our insightful conversation with a question that left a stain on my mind, he asked, “What ever happened to groups like Three Times Dope and X Clan the people who were using the art to lift the people?”

As we spoke on a more personal level ERU uncovered his perspective on hip hop artists by saying, “I always held emcees in the highest for the power they inherently possessed along with their explosive potential to wield more influence because of their ability to package life’s most vital situations into 3 minute conversations that are entertaining.” He continued saying with a child like glee, “People forget that in the mid to late eighties on to the very early nineties it wasn’t like everybody understood how to emcee. So when you did hear a freestyle or when you did see someone rhyming then they were either exceptionally good or they were very garbage on the rhyme.” Further more he spoke and concluded by saying, “Now everybody has a rhyme but that’s great because it shows how many people hip-hop has touched. So I guess you can say that my style of hip-hop would be that of a radical deconstructionist. Meaning I know we can’t go backward but we can make sure that what’s ahead of us is worth the time to listen to and ponder.”

I Have A Dream – MLK


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I Have A Dream Download

ON THE DREAM OF FREEDOM (1963): “So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed . . . that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”

Common – A Dream


Common

A Dream Download
from Freedom Writers Soundtrack (2007, Hollywood)

Check out Common’s new single “A Dream”, produced by Will.i.am for the upcoming film, Freedom Writers. Im really diggin’ this one on the super positive hiphop tip. Peep the video too!

Talib Kweli & Madlib – Liberation (Free Album)


Talib Kweli & Madlib
Liberation
Download Here

Happy new year 2007. 10 SONGS. FREE ALBUM…Brought to you by Blacksmith and Madlib Invazion. Talk about starting the New year on the right foot.