Tag Archives: collegeradio

KnowMads Show Review: Vera Project 5/9/15

As a longtime fan of Seattle rappers, the KnowMads have held
a steady place on my iPod for years. They are one of the main groups that got
me into rap and keyed me into what the scene is like in Seattle. So to say I
was excited when they announced a show at The Vera Project last Saturday, May 9th
would be a bit of an understatement.

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The two members of the KnowMads, Tom Pepe and Tom Wilson, have
been working on solo projects and living in different states, so hearing that
they would be doing a show for their new mixtape KnowMadic was a good sign. Their last project together was their
2012 album The Knewbook, and they
have since announced a Kickstarter for the next album, Knew School.

The Knowmads both attended Roosevelt High School together,
and have been making music together since their debut self-titled album in
2006. Their long career growing and producing music together was evident in
their hour-long set. The duo finished each other’s lines throughout the
concert, beatboxed, and even bounced freestyles off each other in between
songs, with the crowd giving them words to rhyme.

Their track list covered many of the songs off Knowmadic, but also songs from their
individual projects and previous work together, such as Seattle and The KnewBook. All of these songs were delivered with a
pulsing, raw emotion as they paced back and forth on the stage dripping sweat.
Pepe changed shirts a number of times throughout the show, but that didn’t help
much.

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The intensity was palpable throughout. The duo built on the
crowd’s energy when performing tracks like “The River Runs Deep” and “Sidewalkers”,
screaming their verses into the mic as their jugulars bulged. Put simply, there
was a vibrant charisma and history between the two MCs up on stage, and it was
something special to watch.

Those on the other side of the stage got plenty of love as well. We were thanked
multiple times for showing up and creating their steadily growing publicity.
The dedicated stans in the front row had many opportunities to recite lyrics
into the mic when Tom thrust it into the crowd, and there were high 5s all around
the crowded Vera Project. They evidently took advantage of the intimate venue.
As my first concert seeing them, it was special to realize firsthand how
dedicated their local fans are.  

The show felt alive, and that says something for these two
rappers who have been grinding since high schools and are still only in their
early 20s. They still have it, just like they always have.

Definitely checkout the Kickstarter for their new album and
donate if you can. Head over to their website to stream their entire
discography, or their Facebook to stay up-to-date. And if my writing hasn’t
convinced you already, I highly recommend seeing them live next time they do a
show!

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DJ Holmes

Album Review: Esoteric Allusions

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Seattle and hip hop. The two are becoming more and more
connected, thanks in large part to the mainstream success of Macklemore &
Ryan Lewis
, but also due to the strong underground careers of the Blue
Scholars
, Common Market, up and comer Raz Simone, and of course our nostalgic
hero the great Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

Enter NOM Pérignon,
1/5 of the hip-hop collective .nuLOVE.

Recently relocated from Iowa to Seattle, .nuLOVE consists of Boycott, producer Jharee,
NOM Pérignon, Booka, and Freakmite. Jharee handles much of the
production on NOM’s solo album Esoteric Allusions, and the other
group members feature on a few of the tracks as well.

NOM Pérignon, aka Michael Westerfield, calls himself an
artist, lyricist, songwriter, actor, and visionary on their website, and listening to the album from cover to cover provides evidence of how these many titles can be rolled together into one person.

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Esoteric Allusions is
a dark album, as the artwork suggests, and it’s expansive lyrics contain many
references to the artists’ grimy upbringing. Yet NOM’s goal here is to educate.
The project opens with “Allusion”, with a woman’s emotional voice proclaiming
“Let me lay down my words in you so you know how I feel/All I have for you are
layers to peel”. Haunting strings grow to a crescendo, and as the drums blow in
and a melancholy sample is added to the beat, NOM beings his first verse.
Buckle down!

Listening to the album it immediately becomes apparent that
NOM is a gifted lyricist, with frequent wordplay and a skilled use of
alliteration harnessed to a confident flow. On the opener he raps “Soul
searching is the sole source of my sorcery”, and tracks such as “Happy
Feelings_Hopeless Protests”, “Ghetto Boy”, and “Crossroads” provide more than
enough evidence for why such musings create a shady art.

Standout “Bucktown
Blues” is an impressive stream of consciousness where NOM relates multiple
perspectives, of both a frustrated girlfriend and a dealer out of options
making one last phone call, and ends with him explaining that he will rise
above and travel “wherever the wind take me”. The beat is indeed reminiscent of
a chilling, whistling wind, overlaid with a clattering snare.

Jharee’s production throughout the album is superb,
complementing the messages the lyrics deliver and fleshing out the murky nature
of the mixtape. Yet all is not depressing on the album. The mercurial nature of
relations with the opposite sex is addressed on “Good Evening” and Find Your
Loving”, with the latter featuring a stellar verse from Chicago native Freddie Old Soul.

At the beginning of the mixtape, NOM raps “I ease on down
the road less travelled/where it’s way less paved and way more gravel”,
illustrating his struggle to find success coming from a position where success
is not the norm. Esoteric Allusions
may be his first project, but NOM Pérignon has made serious progress in blazing
his own path to find ever-elusive success.

There is much to be taken from this album. I am only
scratching the surface as far as the depth of material covered on the 15
tracks, so I highly recommend downloading the album for free here and seeing for yourself what Seattle has to offer up next in the world of rap.

Also check out .nuLOVE’s website for more of their solo projects, along with their Facebook.
And in the words of this promising new collective’s slogan: Stay Gold.

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DJ Holmes

New Track: Earl Sweatshirt – Solace

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Earl
Sweatshirt
is one of the most talented rappers out right now. He
produces a lot of his own beats and flows over them like none other.

Earl is plagued by
depression. He talks about a lot of his issues in his music. His latest album was aptly
titled I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go
Outside.

With Solace, he bares himself like never
before. Earl dropped Solace on
YouTube earlier this week, without warning. He raps about
his sadness and pain with brutal honesty. Solace is a ten
minute voyage into Earl’s stormy mind. I’ve never heard anything quite like it,
simultaneously stark and beautiful.

The YouTube
description for Solace is succinct: “music from when i hit the bottom and found something.”
There isn’t a video to accompany the song. There’s just a plain, pink square
for us to stare at.

Solace doesn’t have a hook. It doesn’t
need one. Haunting instrumentals ebb and flow and transform. Earls three verses
are mostly mumbled and slurry, to good effect. His voice conveys his
hopelessness better than any words could.

Which
isn’t to say that the lyrics here aren’t powerful. Bars like “I spent days
faded and anemic/You
could see it in my face, I ain’t been eating, I’m just wasting away” and “My
brain split in two,
it’s raining a bit/I hope
it’s a monsoon, my face in the sink” are visual and cutting.

The
piano-heavy instrumentals create a dark, claustrophobic vibe. Disembodied moans
mingle with eerie chords. Shrill screeches pierce through, at points. Despite
all the melancholy elements, the beats are as smooth as melted butter. Earl’s production never ceases to impress.

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Earl
is mired in regret and it keeps him up at night: “I done stayed up the whole
night…It’s me and my nibbling conscience.” He misses his dead grandma: “I got
my grandmama’s hands, I start to cry
when I see ‘em/Cause they remind me
of seeing her”

Earl’s
honesty pays off, because Solace is real
and relatable. The YouTube comments section is full of praise for Earl. Some
commenters even thank Earl for Solace. It
“strikes a chord” and “speaks volumes.”

Do
yourself a favor and give Solace a
listen. It’s amazing.

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Pranav Shivanna