Canadian artist Sonreal interview

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Aaron Hoffman walks up into a room and knocks down a
handshake for a warm hug. “Hey, how are you doing?” with a huge smile on his
face. “Are you ready for this? It’s going to be a real fun night.”

Canadian artist Hoffman, who goes by the stage name SonReal,
is incredibly humble—yet still cognizant of his skill. When first asked about
how long he’s been doing music, he responds, “3 years, but you know, like
everything it’s a journey. I wrote my first rap when I was a kid, but I was
lucky enough to get signed and here we are.”

Here we are indeed. We reference SonReal’s elaborate music
videos, which portray Hollywood level quality of budget and casting, and the
artist is all humble smiles. “I’ve always loved acting, I’ve always loved
trying new crazy things. Rappers always try, since the beginning of time, to
look and be cool and I can’t do that. I can’t do that, but I do know how to be
goofy and have fun and that’s what I love about the videos we make.”

He laughs when we asked how he does it, over and over. “I
have an incredible team,” he replies. “I have the same director for each video
who pushes me over and over to get things perfect but it works.

First a rapper, SonReal’s musical aesthetic has progressed
over time, with more melodic vocals intertwining into his albums. The artist
smiles when trying to explain his musical structure but finally expresses
himself with a declaration of love for music. “I just love singing,” he says. “I’ve
always just loved music. You know, when I first started, I just wanted to a rapper. I wanted to rap and that was
what I knew how to do, and I wanted just that. But as time passed and I started
making more music, it was just a natural progression. I would be writing a lyric
and I just wanted to sing, so I did.”

It works well, on tracks like the single, “Can I Get A Witness,”
in which SonReal showcases his vocal range—a range, we might add, we did not
expect the artist to have. In the chorus of the track that has, as the artist
scales higher in octave, we’re shocked, but pleasantly. It’s a distinct switch
from his lyrical verses of rap to the almost reggae chorus he sings, and
unpredictably so. “I like that I’m unpredictable,” he says. “I don’t want
people to ever just get used to what I do or sing or rap. I want to keep you on
your toes, and so sometimes that might mean just singing a whole song on the EP [The Name] with no rapping at all or rapping a love sing entirely. Who knows, but I don’t want
to be predictable.”

And the artist is anything but, as we see him pump it out on
stage, dancing every which way, reminiscent of Chance the Rapper’s stage
presence and Macklemore’s dance floor energy. We see big things for SonReal,
currently touring with Jon Bellion. With a new album out in August, we’re hoping
to see Sonreal make more unpredictable music and collaborate and work with big artists,
making a name for himself.

“Here’s thing,” he tells us, sitting back. “I want to work
with people, I do. But the thing is I kinda just want to make my own music. You
know, I don’t want to ever walk into a room and have to tell you who I am. I
want to get so good, be so well recognized, that someone walks in and says, ‘I
like that guy, his shit’s dope, I really like what he does because he’s
different and unpredictable and does what other people don’t, I want to work
with him.’ It doesn’t matter how I make people feel with my music, whether it
makes them cry, smile, laugh…I want to work with other people.” He smiles and
looks off for a second before back on us. “But it’s not my time yet, I need to
get there first.”

Be sure to take a listen to SonReal’s singles currently out,
and be the first to grab that new album, The Name, August 12.

Ariana Rivera

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Women and Alternative Genders in Rap

Kari Faux

Kari is super self-aware and it shows in everything she makes. She gained internet traction after working with Childish Gambino; he remixed her song “No Small Talk” on STN MTN and she featured him in her video for “Gahdamn”.  Even so, she mocks internet fame on her track “On the Internet”: “Doing the most for a little fame / But one thing remains the same / When you log out you’re still a lame.” Her videos are stylistic and sarcastic too and definitely worth checking out.

Junglepussy

Junglepussy hits on all the subject matter that a strong modern woman cares about – self-love and care, looking good, and keeping lame dudes away from you. Her flow is sexy and smooth yet commanding. Her new album Pregnant with Success is a continuation of her unique style. She also has one of the best Twitter accounts of all time IMO.

Babeo Baggins + Barf Troop

Babeo Baggins is a genderfluid member of the rap group Barf Troop. The group has gained recognition in the press most recently for being seen with Drake and some other members of the OVO crew. Babeo’s latest album Positive highlights their cheeky and playful style. With a flow that reaches lightning speeds, Babeo’s clever lyricism will blow you away.

Mykki Blanco

From the start Mykki’s music has addressed gender, sexuality and queer culture. She’s made a name for herself with her bold, aggressive sound. She’s also made headlines for coming out as HIV positive, being best friends with the OG riot grrl Kathleen Hanna and reportedly pursuing a career in investigative journalism. In any case, she continues to make waves in the rap scene.

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Chloe Hagans



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Annoyance In Opposition To The Appliance

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In my never-ending quest to obtain an acceptable
audiophile-grade setup for my listening pleasure, I listen to a lot of music.
Like, a lot. But whenever I need to tweak something or get new equipment (who am I
kidding? I’m broke), I always return to the same album: Rage Against The
Machine
’s self-titled debut album. This is because the album is considered by many to be
perfectly mastered. This should come as no surprise, since it was mastered by
none other than the OG master-of-mastering Bob Ludwig. I’ve listened to the album so much lately that I decided to do an album throwback on it for all of you beautiful readers. So let’s throw this album
back and relive the glory of the first album to merge rap, metal, and Bernie
Sanders’
ideals.

If you start up this album expecting beautiful vocal
melodies and sweet lyrics about love and happiness, then you should probably
look somewhere else. The polar opposite of Taylor Swift, vocalist Zack de la
Rocha
doesn’t sing. Rather, he raps, and he yells. His vocals are angsty and
emotionally charged, like a drunken high school pep rally. His vocals are quite
the juxtaposition to Tom Morello’s guitar playing, which is technical and
perfectly-executed. Utilizing I-don’t-even-know-what, he makes the weirdest and
raddest sounds ever produced by a guitar. The guitar is so unique and
unbelievable that the album booklet comes with a disclaimer: “NO SAMPLERS,
COMPUTERS OR KEYBOARDS WERE USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS RECORDING.”

Zack and Tom are the two powerhouses of the group, and the
ones you’ll hear about more often than not. There’s also bassist Tim
Commerford
, whose intense and growling basslines lead the songs and cause you
to turn the volume up far louder than is healthy. The importance of the bass is
often overlooked, but without it, it would sound like you’re listening through
a gramophone. But let’s not forget Brad Wilk, the drummer of RATM. Although
seldom talked about, this dude can drum like there’s no tomorrow. The heartbeat
of Rage’s music, Brad fills the album with intense and angry drums that match perfectly
with Zack’s angry vocals.

While everybody and their mother has heard the track “Killing
in the Name”, the album is literally full of classics. Every single track is as
good as the others, with none standing out to me as the clear best. This is
rare, and the mark of a truly fantastic album. I do, however, have a new favorite
track from this album every few days, with my current favorite being “Township
Rebellion” for its lyrics reminding me of the current political and social
climate. Or at least, that’s what I tell people when I want to look like a
sophisticated adult and not just a 19 year old who releases his angst
vicariously through Rage Against The Machine’s music.

Whether you’re about to fight somebody in a fit of road rage
or are consuming food and drink in a lecture hall that explicitly forbids it,
this album is the soundtrack to your irresponsible decisions. Give it a listen,
then another, and then maybe four more. Rage Against The Machine is a national
treasure. Hide it from Nicholas Cage.

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Niles Kyholm



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Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole remix each other’s hits on “Black Friday”

If you weren’t sure what to be thankful for by Thursday last
week, you definitely knew by the next day. And I’m not talking about weak deals
on TV’s or other stuff for you to take home and gift wrap. I’m talking about gift
rap

On Friday, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole each blessed us with a
new song, both of which were called “Black Friday” and both of which were
remixes of each other’s hits from the past year: Cole went off on “Alright” and
Kendrick erupted on “A Tale of 2 Citiez.”

“I’m yelling Mr. Kanye West for president/He probably let me
get some head inside the residence/I’m in the White House going all out/Bumping
College Dropout, God-bless Americans,” Kendrick shouts on his remix.

If that isn’t the best lyric you’ve heard since “To Pimp A
Butterfly,” then congrats, you’re not putting Kendrick on a pedestal like I am.
But I’ll stop when he gives me a reason to.

While Kendrick’s “Black Friday” basically just a four-minute
verse, Cole’s version can more accurately be called a full song. The man loves
hooks – I’ve seen him come up with one on a freestyle. Rest assured though,
Cole’s affinity for singing doesn’t mean he’s lacking bars:

“Cause on the same day a nigga doing different shit/Spit
different flows, hit different chicks/Let my Brixton hoes feed me fish and
chips/Why I do a lot of shows? I’m the shit, that’s it/Got suicidal doors, I
just slit my wrists.”

The craziest thing about Cole’s “Black Friday” definitely
has to be the end though, when he teases something dropping in February before
being cut off by a censor tone. Could that something be the long-teased
collaboration album with Kendrick? The entirety of the Internet seems to think
so.

Coming off critical acclaim for both of their most recent
projects, Kendrick and Cole may just deliver the best collaborative album since
Jay and Kanye’s Watch the Throne in 2012. Because as much as we liked Drake
and Future’s
What a Time To Be Alive, both of their individual releases this
year were much better. 

But could a Kendrick/Cole collaboration possibly be better
than To Pimp A Butterfly? With Kendrick spitting on the same record, Cole is
much more likely to go harder than he did on 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which
was already an incredible effort on his behalf. But TPAB was on another level,
and I don’t think Kendrick would benefit as much as Cole from working together.
Cole could help him improve his singing?

Either way, both “Black Friday” tracks are good enough to
stand on their own and stave off our hunger for the mythical collaboration a
little longer. Let’s see how many times I can replay them between now and
February.

Check out more from Mohammed
Kloub, aka DJ
Mohtorious, on Rainy Dawg Radio every Thursday from 12-1pm! 

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

New Track: “Money Trees Deuce“ – Jay Rock

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Jay Rock’s new single “Money Trees Deuceis a tantalizing release for his upcoming album. The last we
heard from him was the single “Pay for It,
featuring Kendrick Lamar and Chantal. This was all the way back in late October of last
year.

A reference to his feature on “Money Trees” off Lamar’s good kid, mA.A.d. city, this time around
the song is all Jay Rock. At almost five and a half minutes, it offers ample
support as to why the long wait for his next album will have been worth it.

Opening with smooth, dark horns, the beat implies a dim
story is about to develop. The relaxed vibe is decreased slightly with the
addition of a clapping snare as Rock begins his first verse, and the final
layer of subtle bass and drum kick sets the tone for a laid-back but charged
tale.

Rock’s lyrics and steady flow convey a tough story that he
is all too familiar with. Over his three verses, a drug-laced, fatal stumble
towards the all-encompassing goal of getting money unfolds. He raps, “I’m a
locomotive, steam rolling, gotta fight to keep that money stream open”, which
paired with his usual raw inflection, conveys the exhausting toll that this
non-stop grind creates. Rapping about the harsh confines of the ghetto is
familiar to Rock, with songs such as “M.O.N.E.Y (feat. J. Black)”, “No Joke (feat. Ab-Soul)”, and “Life’s a
Gamble” off of his first album Follow Me
Home
all describing in vivid detail where he comes from.  

Towards the end of the grim song, he snarls “Had me snatch
that switch off that branch with some leaves on it, fantasizing bout some money
trees on em”. This line ultimately sums up the toxic relationship between the
chase for money in poor cities around the US, and the violence and damage
caused by this pursuit. The fantasized money tree is whipping those in pursuit
of it with the very branches being strained for.

All in all, “Money Trees Deuce” is a fantastic single from
Jay Rock, proving he is more than capable of finding shade in his own trees, no
matter how unforgiving the environment. If you haven’t listen the song already,
it’s definitely worth checking out.

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DJ Holmes

Album Review: Oddisee – The Good Fight

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It’s always admirable when a hip-hop producer can step in front of the mic and demonstrate serious lyrical and vocal talent. Artists like El-P, Flying Lotus, and Madlib got their starts crafting some fantastic beats before trying their hand at rapping, and each has found success on both fronts.

The latest artist to give it a try is D.C.-based artist Oddisee, who has built up quite a bit of hype in his hometown for his various talents. The Good Fight, his second official LP, is Oddisee’s most expansive and fleshed out release yet, displaying a newfound confidence from the MC. He manages to pay tribute to his city’s diverse musical past while also acknowledging current sounds and styles in hip-hop nationwide.

The most immediately noticeable aspect of this project is – of course – Oddisee’s production. The Good Fight is loaded with jazzy instrumentals that are just off-kilter enough to feel cohesive, but not dull. I could imagine someone like Chance the Rapper or Mick Jenkins sounding pretty great over these beats. Horns and acoustic drums are consistent features on this album, and they both help give Oddisee a discernible and recognizable sound.

I was pleasantly surprised by Oddisee’s abilities as an MC. His confessional and personal lyrics go well with his distinct voice and inflections. This isn’t the most creative or original sounding hip-hop album of 2015, but Oddisee deserves praise for the many strengths of The Good Fight. For example, he dismantles hip-hop’s standard 4/4 time signature by rapping in 5/4 on the track “Counter-Clockwise,” and it’s equally disorienting and impressive.

Where Oddisee could use improvement is the album’s hooks, which tend to feel out-of-place or otherwise pale in comparison to the usually dense and lyrical verses. The vocalists he tends to employ are good singers, but the melodies and lyrics on the choruses aren’t nearly as compelling as the production and verses.

Also, not every track on The Good Fight is a winner. The hook on “Meant It When I Said It” is too close to rap punchline G-Eazy’s “I Mean It” for comfort. I also don’t particularly like the outro that follows the last track, on which an unnamed interviewee sings the praises of Oddisee, comparing him to Blu, while also saying hip-hop has lost its replay value. Self-promotion and braggadocio are important parts of hip-hop culture, but it feels weird and superfluous in the context of this album.

Check out the whole album via the Bandcamp stream below:

The Good Fight by Oddisee

All in all, Oddisee impressed me with this album. The production is consistently fantastic, and I love that the beats come off like updates to go-go, an essential D.C. genre. He’s also an ostensibly talented rapper, delivering some of the best bars of his career.

The Good Fight isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it does seem like a significant stepping stone in Oddisee’s career and path to independent hip-hop success. It’s a self-sufficient record that avoids most of the stereotypes involved with most indie hip-hop. It isn’t a “backpacker” record by any means, and I feel like straight-up hip-hop fans will find plenty to enjoy about this album without knowing much about Oddisee or where he comes from. The Good Fight is an admirable effort that doesn’t overstay its welcome or foster any moments of cringe. Oddisee does his thing, he does it well, and then he’s done.

Jakob Ross is a first-time blogger on the Rainy Blawg. You can find him on Last.FM, Twitter, and Tumblr as well as on Rainy Dawg Radio as a DJ! For more posts like this one, check out his music blog, “Jakob’s Album Reviews”

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

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

Tech N9ne: Aw Yeah? (InterVENTion)

My hometown hero Tech N9ne, the rap god from Kansas City, unleashed his new single, “Aw Yeah? (interVENTion),” which serves as the intro to his upcoming album, Special Effects, due out on May 5. The new album follows up 2014’s Strangeulation, which debuted atop the indie and rap charts, and in the Top 5 on the Billboard 200. 

Until now, Tech N9ne has never released an intro to his album as a single because he prefers to leave the audience guessing about the overall direction of the project. He made his first-ever exception to that rule with “Aw Yeah? (interVENTion)“ because, according to Tech, “the world needs to hear this.” 

It’s easy to understand that sense of urgency when you hear his bars, which touch upon pressing issues like inequality as well as Tech’s irritation with his musical peers. 

The song is opened with low, rumbling whispers that will eventually propel you into an opera/beat ensemble as Tech starts to rap. Check it out.

I’m a long-time Tech fan, but I really love this single because not only does it sound great, but its lyrics also differ from a lot of the other rap and hip hop in the music industry today. I like that Tech chose to write about different social problems that aren’t traditionally addressed in the entertainment industry, such as the events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Libya, Benghazi, Syria, Nigeria and Australia. Tech’s not holding back.

Also, in the middle of the single Tech mentions Jamaican rapper Zuse. Reportedly, Zuse is accompanying Tech on his Special Effects tour, along with artists Chris Webby, King 810 and label mates Krizz Kaliko and MURS.

"All my Technicians who have been patiently waiting for this, get ready for your minds to be blown! We made some dreams come true on this album. You WILL NOT be disappointed. It’s a beautiful thing.” -Tech N9ne

Watch for Tech’s Special Effects to drop in early May, and keep your eyes peeled for his upcoming tour dates.


nilorap

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Artist Profile: Let’s talk about Doja Cat

Whoaaaa, so I’m completely out of my element.

Actually, I was really wanting to share with you another reallyhippie indie, guitar playing artist that “seemed incredibly raw” as I like to
say. But enough of my uppity attitude, we should switch it up sometimes, you know?

Let’s talk about Doja
Cat
.

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I’m not super into hip-hop or rap so when I became intrigued
with Doja Cat, I was a little inspired. Not much is known about her, really, but
born Ami Zindale, she’s an 18 year old singer/rapper and L.A. based. She’s
young and she’s new, but she’s got this weird trippy vibe about her, and I
really just dig it.

This EP Purr! that
Doja Cat has out is relatively new, released in August 2014. It’s got 5 tracks,
and I’m not a fan of all of them, but her sound is just so different and airy and
so blended with soul vibes, I can’t help but like it.

“So High” was a single Doja Cat released prior to her EP, in
April, and is one that definitely gives off the impression of being high. It’s
dreamy, kind of psychedelic with the beats she uses, and her voice is kind of
just this high lilting mystery that pulls you in. It’s not a catchy, boppy
song, but definitely when she sings over and over again “You get me so high/You
get me so high” I catch myself grooving along to her.

It’s good, listen. It’s really trippy.

Okay, so then we continue on to the rest of the EP and it’s
pretty much along this vibe. She has this absentminded, lazy, spacey way of
singing, but once in a while, she dips into smooth straight rap like in “Nunchucks”
get this slower, soul Nicki Minaj
feel to her tracks.

Honestly, I have no idea why I like this, but I just do. I
listen to a track like “Beautiful” and it’s dreamy and mixes her smooth rap with
hippie beats in the background.

I really like “No Police.” She mixes her rap stylings with
some really chill beats, and her overall style makes it one of the best tracks
on the EP. But I also like “Control,” with her slow builds and real, breezy,
echoes that just relax you.

Doja Cat is consistent within her EP and that’s good, but
she’s definitely different. I think that’s what it is. She’s weird. She’s
different, I’ve never really heard anyone like her before and her originality
of mixing soul, rap, and R&B together is intriguing. She mixes her little
cat references into her rap and just randomly purrs or meows in her tracks, so
you definitely can’t escape Doja Cat’s identity. It’s weird. It’s cool.

Or maybe I’m the weird one. Either way, check her entire EP
out here:

Ariana Rivera