Though Netflix’s latest original series – a look back at New York City nascent hip hop and rap culture – has been compared to HBO’s Vinyl for its similar attempts to evoke roughly the same pop cultural epoch, The Get Down approaches its subject matter from a different angle.
My morning earworm – “More” – from the Arabic motif to the percussive drive to Zephyr’s nonchalant vocal, this latest single contains enough vibe to keep you entranced for its 4 minutes plus.
It’s always intriguing to have two opposing ideas build up to a contrast in a music video. And this is why the music video for THELIONCITYBOY’s new single “All Night Feat Sezairi, Mr Boo” works despite the inevitable clunky acting.
The song itself is quite lightweight pop with local crooner Sezairi providing the sweetness but there is a edgy underbelly when you appreciate where THELIONCITYBOY’s lyrics are coming from. It’s a refreshing take on hip hop’s usual concerns about partying and hooking up with the opposite sex.
The video is altogether a different proposition. Ostensibly, it may seem corny and cliched to come up with a horror story before Halloween but it seems that the zombie motif is really a deep commentary on relationships and it resonates when the actress involved is THELIONCITYBOY’s own better half, Aarika Lee.
I mean, that scene where she’s asking her zombie partner why he’s so slow (riding his bicycle at the beach – what a twist on the cliche!) is hilarious. So when the ending comes, it makes so much sense and the viewer is nodding in a knowing agreement. Which is why I have always appreciated THELIONCITYBOY’s work – it lures you in with superficial hip hop tropes but then slays you with a meaningful thought-provoking message.
Here’s an update from The Grizzle Grind Crew!
CONFESSTIVAL X #2ndGGC Anniversary [A *SCAPEmusic Programme]
Venue: *SCAPE The Ground Theatre (2 Orchard Link Singapore 237978)
Date: Sunday 5 April 2015
Doors open at 6:00pm
Indie folk-pop act Gentle Bones will be celebrating with us on stage. Malaysia-crossover pop sensation Sleeq will make a special appearance! Malaysia’s biggest rapper Joe Flizzow will be throwing down his jams while Los Angeles’ top underground rapper Dumbfoundead will be rocking the stage as well!
Yeah, the 200 moshpit spots are redeemed. BUT you still should register cause we are giving out totebags with goodies from our partners JUICE, Nando’s and Fleshimp. The totebags are for the first 500 registered pax who showed up at the show.
Now here’s the fun part! In the 500 totebags, there will be the following:
a. 28 x Bronze Totebags (GGC T-shirt)
b. 20 x Silver Totebags (GGC T-shirt + GGC poster)
c. 1 x Gold Totebag (GGC T-shirt + GGC Poster + 1 Pioneer DDJ Wego MIDI Controller)
d. 2 x Platinum Totebags (GGC T-shirt + GGC Poster + 1 pair of stage view passes – where you and your friends get to watch the entire at the side of the stage!)
For exclusive entry into the moshpit/Meet & Greet session, Workshops and merch giveaways (#2ndGGC totebag), register at: www.scapers.sg/confesstival.
The Grizzle Grind Crew just released its debut mixtape Leaders Of The New Skool on Thursday 19 June via Spotify. The album will be free for download on 30 June via the GGC website.
The Grizzle Grind Crew will be headlining the YFest, a youth festival tonight at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. Check ’em out!
Aysha Amani, the frontperson of infectious Aussie funk-soul-hiphop combo The Amani Consort was so easy and fun to talk to as she (together with keyboards player Gordon Cant) answered my questions about the band – past, present and future. Listen to the audio for the full details! (Sound quality is a little rough but I hope you get the gist of what was going on – lots of laughter!)
We promise to be back with a review of The Amani Consort’s Better Way EP pretty soon! In the meantime, connect with the band over at its Facebook page.
2014 means new albums. Listen at Spotify!
STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS – Wig Out at Jagbags
Ex-Pavement frontman, Malkmus returns with a brand new solo LP. Idiosyncratic songs with quirky arrangements but never lacking in memorable tunes.
Here’s a sweet, catchy and soulful fuck-off song from the ever-smooth Mark Bonafide. It’s pretty short too, clocking in at 2:53! That’s my only issue with “Issues” (ouch!) – I wish I could get MORE of its goodness! Nice interplay with Kim Olsen and Zahidah provides a riveting contrast. Taken from the forthcoming e.p. “LOVE/REBEL” it seems – can hardly wait! Check it out!
New York, NY (March 6, 2013) – Award-winning Singapore emcee Kevin Lester, aka ‘The LionCityBoy‘ announces the release of his debut EP Everything You Love, You Hate via Vertusent/Sony RED on April 2. The first single, “Hear Me Go”impacts mixshow radio on March 19 and is available for download at iTunes today.
Very smooth vibes going on here. Check it out!
Hopeless Records is excited to announce our newest signing, Denver, Colorado’s AIR DUBAI. Their songs “All Day” and “Warning” are now available for purchase on iTunes as a two-song bundle.
Purchase “ALL DAY” & “WARNING” song bundle on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/airdubai
Composed of singer Jon Shockness, rapper Julian Thomas, Nick Spreigl (drums), Lawrence Grivich (guitar), Michael Ray (keyboard/synth), and Taylor Tait (bass), the band’s group appeal lies in its member’s passion for the music they create. A heady mix of hip-hop, pop, soul, rock and electronic, AIR DUBAI exists not to fit into one specific category or sound, but instead to create something new and fresh on each album and even every song. The true magic lies in AIR DUBAI’S live shows; energetic, soulful performances fueled mainly by the faithful fans that come to see them play.
“Signing with HOPELESS was like finding the final horcrux; now we have all the proper materials to destroy it…” – drummer Nick Spreigl.
AIR DUBAI has been voted Westword Magazine’s “Best Hip Hop” band in 2010, 2011 & 2012. They have shared the stage with such acts such as One Republic, 3Oh!3 & Rise Against.
FOR MORE INFO:
No, I’m not anti-hip-hop but I believe in good music. So in that spirit, listen to FlightSch the nom de plume of Singapore producer Muzique. Muzique was signed to new record label After Platinum Records, home to new rap stars like Cory Gunz in April 2012 and we understand that he’s been working in Arizona, Phoenix for the past 6 months, producing for quite a few rappers and RnB singers there. Muzique has re-emerged as a solo artiste known as FlightSch and this is the first single, the rather catchy “Fool For You” – even if hip-hop is not your thang, you just gotta admire the manner in which the beats have been put together. Ace!
Thanks to Willy Tan/Aging Youth for the heads up!
BELIEVE THE HYPE!
In many ways, the story of Pek Jin Shen—or ShiGGa Shay, as the rapper prefers to be known—is symptomatic of the odd complex Singaporeans have towards local music have in general. Ever since he first burst out on the scene in 2010 with a divisive performance on the short-lived Mediacorp production Live ‘N’ Loaded, he’s been dogged by accusations of arrogance and trying too hard to be American. Which is curious, because there’s really nothing more quintessentially Singaporean than wanting to be angmoh. But I digress.
Legendary artist/producer Dr. Dre appeared at the 2011 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on November 29 with rapper/producer Snoop Dogg. It was the first time the pair has collaborated, for a televised broadcast performance, in 11 years.
This appearance kicked off the “Beats by Dr Dre” Asia-Japan tour, a highly anticipated promotional tour of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo spearheaded by Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, founders of the world-class audio brand. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine next visited Hong Kong, to meet fans at an exclusive Apple Hong Kong consumer event before heading to the iconic hot spot, dragon-i, to celebrate its ninth anniversary with Snoop Dogg and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Today – 1st December, Beats joined a press conference in Taipei with HTC Corporation, a global designer of mobile devices, to celebrate their new strategic partnership. Collaborating to pioneer the future of the smart phone industry, HTC and Beats aim to create superior mobile audio experiences for consumers, which will result in a line of HTC devices integrated with Beats’ sound innovations. The Taiwan leg of the tour will also feature a celebrity- packed party at the popular club, Luxy, with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.To wrap up the Beats regional tour, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will head to Japan for their first post-tsunami visit. After meeting and chatting with fans at an Apple Japan consumer event on December 2, Beats will specially host a party at the infamous Le Baron, to be attended by the city’s biggest celebrities and top-tier media guests.
Dr Dre & Jimmy Iovine (NYC 2011) Credit: Kevin Mazur
Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg Courtesy of Beats By Dre: Photographer: Aloysius Lim
ShiGGa Shay – Let’s Roll (Aging Youth)
When local rapper ShiGGa Shay first made waves on Mediacorp’s Live & Loaded programme (as a raw, cocky 16 year old), he was met with derision and fair amount of hatin’. But to his credit, the rapper has persevered with honing his craft (and pursuing his dream). So I must admit that I was quite impressed with him when he turned up at the Noise Auditions last year – less cocky but more assured, he struck me as the ‘real deal’. ShiGGa Shay’s latest single continues his upward development as one of the brightest rappers in our region and there is no denying the sheer potential in his raps and beats on Let’s Roll. Check the lyric video below to see what ah mean…debut album to come soon.
Check out Aging Youth’s website for more information.
Kevin Lester is a man on fire. Not only did the rapper and frontman of the band Sixx release his debut album, Let’s Talk About Kevin Lester, in November last year. but he also garnered enough international attention to be invited to New Skool Rules, a hip-hop conference held in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
We talk to Kevin to find out what went down during his trip, as well as his thoughts for change in the local music scene.
The mainstream strikes back? Well, not really. The major labels have slowly but surely been losing ground as fans continue to rip and download CDs. There may be less of them now but the stronger labels will survive even if they will have to be leaner and meaner in the process. There are still successes out there, that manage to retain certain aspects of musical artistry whilst being commercial enough to justify major label backing. We look at three examples, either released or distributed by Universal Music.
Press release: –
Kevin Lester’s debut album, LETS TALK ABOUT KEVIN LESTER, has been released. The album is available for FREE download at http://www.thelioncityboy.com. At the site, click “Buy Now”, and type in “0” USD to download the song or album for free. It will prompt the fan for his email address, and the free download link will be sent to his/her email.
The album features 8 original tracks, with features by P.Cess of Thaitanium, SonaOne from Kartel Records, Vanessa Fernandez, Syaheed of Bedsty and a few fellow band members of SIXX.
More info here.
[amazon-product alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″]B002US1YU0[/amazon-product]
EMINEM Recovery (Aftermath/Interscope)
The bad boy of rap (oxymoron!) returns with Recovery. Originally intended to be a sequel to previous album, Relapse (and to be named Relapse 2, natch!), Recovery now stands on its own. Although largely consisting of tracks recorded during the Relapse sessions with executive producer Dr Dre, Recovery is more song-oriented than Relapse and contains no skits at all.
There are also quite a few pop numbers on Recovery which frankly do nothing for me but where Eminem’s bad attitude penetrates the slick production haze, that’s where Recovery kicks ass. I mean, how many lyricists can trash talk and deliver putdowns with such poetry and comic effect as well!
Therefore, tracks like Cold Wind Blows, On Fire and Goin’ Through Changes reflect Eminem’s continual resistance against normal and proudly declares his personal manifesto, perhaps best summed up in Not Afraid – “I’m not afraid, to take a stand/everybody, come take my hand/we’ll walk this road together, through the storm/whatever weather” spoken in his own (real) voice.
The music is slick, well-produced for maximum commercial effect but it all serves the words that Eminem spits out with his patented angst. Naturally, as usual, there are a couple of gems and do not require any underlying music to have the desired effect.
“I’ll be nicer to women/when Aquaman drowns and the Human Torch goes swimming” (Cold Wind Blows)
“I put both hands on your throat/I sit on top of you squeezin’/till I snap your neck like a popsicle stick, ain’t no possible reason/I can think of to let you walk up out of this house and let you live/tears stream down both my cheeks, then I let you go and just give/and ‘fore I put that gun to my temple I told you this” (the excellent albeit disturbing Space Bound)
“I’m the thumb tack you slept on son/now here I come screaming ‘a tac!’ like I just stepped on one/low on the totem till he showed ’em, defiance, giant scrotum” (Almost Famous)
And so much more…
Sometimes its hard to take Eminem seriously when you read some of these lyrics but that’s probably the whole point. But then again, even Eminem offers a message of hope in the liner notes –
“THIS ALBUM IS DEDICATED 2 ANYONE WHO’S IN A DARK PLACE TRYIN’ TO 2 GET OUT. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP…IT DOES GET BETTER.”
Check it out!
EMINEM Not Afraid (off upcoming new album, Recovery)
The bad boy of Rap (now that’s an oxymoron, kids) is back with a new album, Recovery, and a new single, Not Afraid, which suggests that Eminem is going all touchy-feely on us, with kubaya-like lyrics and a video that has him flying around like a super-hero! The album should be a doozy (out, 21 June).
TREES ON FIRE Organica (Self released)
Eclecticism. I love it. I demand it. I promote it. But sometimes, at the back of my mind I wonder. Is it a lack of focus? Is it a case of “Jack of all trades, master of none?”. If it’s executed properly it should work right? Like Queen, for example.
Well, this is Trees On Fire’s strength/weakness – depending on your perspective.
This debut album – within the first four tracks – had my head spinning as it began with a U2-channeling rocker (Into The Fire) then turned the tables upside down with a breezy world music nugget (Live Life), urban hip hop jive (Rosa) AND a dance track (Just Because)!!!!
The rest of Organica basically follows this format as the band careens wildly genre-wise and surprising me with their musical choices. That said, my main caveat is that it’s form over substance too many times. The problem that Trees On Fire are dredging out the worst of 80s pop-rock. Y’know, bombastic vocals, cheesy electronics, pseudo-epic arrangements. All they need is the big hair and the pictures complete
So I guess the jury’s out somewhat but given the aforementioned eclecticism, you are bound to find something you may like amongst the 14 tracks found on Organica.
RHETT FRAZIER INC Escape From Dee-Troyt (Self-released)
Can you say “Old School”? Not in the sense of “dated” but “classic” and “timeless”. The kind of music that will always be “hip and cool” no matter what year you may be listening to it in.
“Vocalist and songwriter Rhett Frazier is Rhett Frazier. Drummer and synth whiz Donny Gruendler is ‘Inc.’ Together they form the soulful musical powerhouse Rhett Frazier Inc.” or so the duo’s website informs us.
For once, the hype is pretty much justified as Escape is chock full of 70s soul/funk grooves laced with jazz and even hard rock licks. Frazier is a versatile singer and is able to handle lover-man personas (ala Marvin Gaye/Al Green) with Faultline or hard-lovin’ belters like Am I Grooving U?, with equal distinction.
Despite focusing on R&B soul and associated sub-genres, Escape is an eclectic offering and the diverse moods and atmospheres conjured will suit most tastes. In addition, Escape will appeal to mainstream and indie listeners and that is an achievement in itself.
Free Download – U Can’t Stop
KID CUDI Man on the Moon: The End of Day (Universal)
As regular visitors to the Power of Pop will be aware, I’m not that big on rap. But I know enough about music to appreciate that once in a while, an artist comes along to transcend the limitations of his (or her) chosen genre. Typical hip hop is relatively easy music to make, utlizing stock beats and standard phrasing. The equivalent of aural wallpaper.
That’s why Kid Cudi with his new concept album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, is such a refreshing breath of air! This experimental and distinctive debut album is chock full of left-field sonic ideas and deep concepts. Don’t get me wrong, its still rap but Kid Cudi embellishes his tracks with different rhythms and intriguing progressive approaches.
For instance, Simple As… plays around with spoken word in a manner reminiscient of Kraftwerk, the hit single Day N Nite (Nightmare) is brash with bright keyboard sounds, Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part I) comes across like vintage Barry White disco, Pursuit Of Happiness is full-blown 80s electro-pop with guests MGMT and Ratatat and Hyyear has a smooth loverman vibe that is irresistible.
It’s ambitious and harbours widescreen intent and that is pretty good in my book for someone who is very much rap-phobic. Check out Man on the Moon: The End of Day, even if you hate rap.