Show Review: Noname and Ravyn Lenae Slay at The Crocodile

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I saw Noname perform at The Crocodile this past Wednesday. Ravyn Lenae opened for her, and needless to say they were both incredible. I had been anticipating this concert for quite some time now (I ordered the tickets in November), and the night had finally arrived.

First things first, I had also bought meet and greet tickets for my lovely girlfriend in an effort to blow Valentine’s Day out of the water. For the most part I think it was a success. She was excited to meet Noname, as was I, of course. Unfortunately, we both had different reactions to talking to her in person. She was so nervous that her mind started racing, asking Noname-whose real name is Fatima-question after question. This was a godsend, because I was so nervous that my mind drew a blank and stood there sheepishly, only mustering the courage to introduce myself and say “yes” a few times. 

After a photo op with Fatima, it was time for the concert. Unbeknownst to me, there was an act before Ravyn Lenae. Local Seattle rappers Nyles Davis and Mo Money got the show started, but not exactly as I had expected. Noname and Ravyn Lenae’s musical styles both exude peacefulness and don’t try to be in your face. Davis and Mo Money were both accurate reflections of what rap is becoming: repetitive lyrics over bass-heavy beats. Their music reminded me a lot of Lil Uzi Vert, my least favorite rapper in the game right now. Mo Money also got really sweaty and it was flying everywhere, so that didn’t help his set improve.

Finally, the time came for the actual concert to start, and Ravyn Lenae came out. And let me tell ya, her voice was jaw dropping. I knew it was good when I listened to her music on Spotify, but it was probably even better live. Each song she performed had multiple vocal inflections where she would change the note while she belted out a single word or sound. My previously hefty expectations had been exceeded somehow and I was witnessing an angel on stage. 

Lenae also took the time to explain the meaning behind each song before she performed it. I had listened through her Moon Shoes EP multiple times, but had never taken the time to thoroughly listen to it and pull the meaning from each song. I found myself listening much more intently, trying to connect the lyrics to the explanation she had given just a few minutes earlier. Also, she put the mic in front of my girlfriend to sing a part of a song, but evidently the pressure was overwhelming and she could only sing for a split second before laughing it off. To be fair, I would’ve done the exact same thing, and Ravyn probably would’ve gotten the whole crowd to make fun of me because I can’t sing as well as her. That may have been why she did it in the first place.

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Lenae’s set ended after about 45 minutes and it was time for the headliner, Noname. Her debut album Telefone was one of my favorite albums of last year. It was meaningful, perfectly produced, and it introduced me to a female rapper that I actually enjoyed (sorry not sorry Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea). Noname’s band was the first to come on stage, performing a few minutes of smooth instrumentals before Noname came out to open with “All I Need”. To my relief, she sounded exactly like she did on Telefone. The live band was a great addition; Davis, Mo Money, and Lenae all performed over recordings of the instrumentals to their songs (Davis actually rapped over recordings of his songs with the rap recorded too, so he didn’t have to work as hard). Noname performed Telefone in its entirety, as well as her verses for Mick Jenkins’ “Comfortable” and Chance the Rapper’s “Lost”. Ravyn Lenae joined her on stage and they performed “Forever” together, which was easily the best moment of the night. Noname’s discography still has some growing to do, because she ran out of music to perform after half an hour. Despite the short set, Noname was excellent on stage and had the audience captivated the whole time.

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The concert as a whole was great. The surprise openers got the concert off on a sour note, but Ravyn Lenae and Noname more than made up for the openers’ slip-ups. Both either performed exactly as in their recordings or far beyond what I had expected. Once they expand their discography there will only be more demand for them to go on tour again, and I look forward to when that day comes. Check out each artist’s music below.

Noname – Telefone

Ravyn LenaeMoon Shoes EP

Nyles Davis

Mo Money

Archie O’Dell

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

Juicy J Changes Lives Over Course of Emotional Night

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Oscar winner Juicy J wrecked my soul at The Neptune Theater last night. Oh yeah, yes, it’s true, Juicy J and Leonardo DiCaprio have the same number of Oscars.

Project Pat brought out Nasty Mane and they performed some
booming bass music with predictable yet catchy lyrics.

Belly came out next. Never heard of him before. He does boast a bit of a belly though, which could point to the origins of his stage name. His
real name, according to the internet, is Ahmad. Further perusal of the internet
reveals that Belly was born in Palestine. Diversity! Yay!

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Okay, that’s enough with the facts. Here’s more opinion:
Belly’s set was damn good. I now follow him on Spotify. His song with Travis
Scott bangs confirmed.

Then the stage was empty for a while. Anticipation hung in
the air thicker than the sweat—and there was a butt ton of sweat.

Juicy J is a distinguished dude with an enviable career—Three 6 Mafia
and an Oscar then a TGOD comeback with Bandz a Make Her Dance then a really
good album and now mixtape after mixtape of roof rattlers.

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Anyways he stormed on stage, scarf draped over his head just like my mom wears a dupatta. Instantly I declared him my newest role
model. My list of role models was 29 pages long on Microsoft Word. Now it is 30.

I’ll be honest—I don’t know that many Juicy J songs. But
that didn’t stop me from leaping around like an electrified monkey. Bass on The
Neptune’s speakers exploded my brain into dripping mush—Beautiful. I still
haven’t recovered. At one point Juicy played a bunch of Three 6 Mafia numbers and
I knew the words so I screamed them and it was great.

Times like those, watching awestruck as an Oscar winner
screams down at you “YOU SAY NO TO DRUGS, JUICY J CAN’T,” you wonder what life
is really all about. Because maybe, just maybe, all you have to do is keep doing
your thing—whatever that thing may be—and you’ll eventually win.

Juicy J, legend, you inspire me to be the best possible me. Safe travels.

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

Dark Sunglasses – An Electrifying Event at Showbox SoDo (Show Review)

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RAC lights up with a live band at ShowBox SoDo on Tuesday, Nov. 24th

Light keyboard filled the air and a soft beat emitted from the over-leveled speakers. With only half the room filled, the music blasted through the Showbox, piercing the silence until the crowd settled into the sound. The first opener, filous pulled out his guitar, bowed his head slightly and riffed over a reverberating female vocalist. The two instruments together, a midi setup and fx-ed guitar sounded like a chorus of chilled-out house music.

“Hey Seattle,” the beanie-sporting artist spoke before returning to his instruments. A faint cheer could be heard from the bar in the back.

Not phased by the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, Filous strummed along to dance-worthy tracks. Smiling all the while, the casually-dressed multi-instrumentalist switched between MIDI controllers, keyboards and his various guitars. As he slammed on the bass, the crowd swayed and lights flashed before us.

Filous introduced himself as an artist from Vienna. Over a few spouts of laughter, he further explained his adventures at Jack in The Box before playing his next song, “Coming Over” – a synth-heavy sound featuring the same summery guitar riffs that had been heard frequently throughout the set.

Light lyrics sprinkled throughout the song and the line, “All I can think about is coming over” repeated into a somewhat-tropical instrumental chorus. The hook brought many to the dance floor and the strobes shimmered among us. With all of his talents, I got to wondering why the microphone was placed so properly as if it’d be used whilst playing. All my questions were answered in a single breath as Filous pulled out a harmonica for his last track – blowing us away with his breath-induced harmonies.

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filous wowed us with flawless multi-instrumentalism

After a short break, two musicians approached the stage. Both on drums, the two multi-instrumentalists represented the Portland-based Karl Kling. Arpeggios filled the air and a dimly lit duo sang indulgent lyrics over two sets of electronic instruments. A light up set of tools stood adjacent to a traditional drumset as the two musicians harmonized with one another.

We moved our bodies back and forth and a few other audience members joined us. Although I wasn’t there alone, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of standing that took place during this show. Of course, I could chalk it up to the fact that we were watching an opener, but since this is my last post for Rainy Dawg Radio, I thought I’d mention something that’s been bothering me since I moved into this city and began participating in the music scene:

Why don’t Seattle Concert-goers ever dance during openers?!

Their music is good. The dance floor is ready! If anybody has an answer to this question, myself and all of the touring artists in our area would like to know… Synced beneath the falsettos as the two men expressed themselves among a sea of careless Seattleites. Catchy riffs soared beneath existential lyricism as the band showed off their chops, from drums to loops and electric guitars, the multi-talented Portland band never ceased to amaze us.

Yet most of the audience remained unfazed while my date and I swayed just the same. Harder now. Deeper now. The harmonies seemed to strike nearer than before. Perhaps the volume kept increasing but something about the atmosphere above us kept me present as the fog filled the air and the band requested a dimming of the lights.

“Alright Seattle. This is dance time,” Karl attempted to work the crowd. But only a few cheers could be heard in response as many audience members lingered in the back – bobbing their head to the rhythm instead of shaking what their mamas gave them.

“So dust of your regrets” Kling sang, “Cus there goes the day again. Born into this world.”

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Karl Kling sported two drummers and a sounded like Death Cab in a dance club

80s melodies and melancholy choruses led from one song into the next as the opening set came and went. During their last song, “Careful” the duo smiled as they witnessed some energy beginning to emit from the evening’s underwhelming attendees. As Big Data prepared their set, I prayed for a miracle that the dance floor would pick up.

Fog filled the air and screams rang out in support of the surreal visuals that began to appear so subtly behind a coordinated set of electronic musicians. A robotic voice could be heard from the pumped-up speakers and the band members began to move in tandem to a static beat. Almost inaudible, a set of muted vocals began to sing the opening lines of “Dangerous” and the crowd finally moved in-tow to the enthralling rhythm.

The two vocalists played off of one another flawlessly. Each computerized run ran into the next as the lights glimmered among us. The music enticed us to engage as Big Data entertained with alluring visuals above driving drums and guitars; all the while the two frontmen acted as conductors of the crowd below them.

Bobbing their heads back and forth to the ephemeral sound of their own creation, the crashes and clangs of the live instrumentation filled the set beneath layers of enchanting lyricism. All the while, the audience followed along in a daze, drunk in the sound of a presented simulation.

References to a computerized system filled the breaks between songs until the word, “Imagination” broke the sequence, “Your simulation is now complete.” The robotic voice complimented our enthusiasm as the lights reflected off the band-member’s florescent sunglasses.

As the lights continued to dim, the combination of the visual and musical performances pulled us in to a videogame-like trance – complete with the sounds of dial-up modems and mid-2000s internet references. Throughout the set, Big Data did nothing but entertain as our eyes reflected the shimmering stage above us.

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With flashing lights and surreal digital visuals, Big Data drew the crowd ever-closer in a existential haze

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Members of the other bands and backstage crew joined the band as they repeated their hit track, “Dangerous”

The crowd cheered and familiar faces replaced the physical places of Big Data’s digital revolution. Karl Kling and André Anjos (RAC) stood left and right of a headband-wearing frontman. Behind them, Pink Feathers (aka Liz Anjos) rocked out on a keyboard while a full-sized drumset stood lit and elevated above.

We moved in waves as the live band played covers and originals frequently associated with RAC’s collection of (re)mixes. Hiding behind a telecaster, André occasionally sang along and smiled all the while Pink Feathers and Karl Kling led the upbeat performance. The collection of Portland artists did not disappoint as the crowd sang along to their favorite tracks. From Odesza to The Postal Service, local hits were met with more energy from the audience as the four-piece band reworked popular songs with their disco-inspired beats.

“Hollywood” and “Let it Go” were met with thunderous applause as André stepped out into the center to wail over the beat with his electric guitars. The foursome played off each other splendidly, cracking jokes and smiling along to the energy brought from playing their songs live.

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André Anjos leads his live band, shredding along with a pulsating performance

After seeing RAC in the past and wondering when he would break out from behind his turntables, I was inspired and impressed by the entire performance! Altogether, the variety of bands made for an excellent combination of Portland sounds that was able to break through the ever-famous Seattle Freeze.

Check out Pink Feathers, filous, Karl Kling, Big Data and RAC on their respective social medias and don’t forget to check out RAC’s website for the latest and greatest from the Portland music scene!

For more on RAC and his eclectic sets and sounds, check out my interview with him right here!

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DJ Desman

Show Review: Shlohmo in Seattle

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I’ve
been a Shlohmo fan for years now,
so I bought tickets to his show as soon as he announced a tour. That was way back around
the start of the year.

I whiled away the months
leading to the show by revisiting his impressive discography. I’ve long
considered his Laid Out EP to be a
masterpiece.

In March, Shlohmo dropped his new album, Dark Red. The
album was a stunning departure from his previous releases. But it still had all
those classic Shlohmo elements, like menacing basslines and warped notes.
Definitely an album worth checking out.

Shlohmo’s electronic
music isn’t the dance-y kind. His music reminds me of dark basements and scary
nights and pain and zombie apocalypses. It’s pretty great. That’s why I was
surprised when I started dancing at the show. Everyone was dancing. It was
probably because Shlohmo’s basslines were even more immense on Neumos’s bumping sound system. Shout
out my ear drums for not exploding.

I love it when electronic
artists bring out a band. Shlohmo brought out a drummer and a guitarist and
also occasionally wielded a guitar himself.

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The light show was crazy
intense. The lights and the music complemented each other beautifully, surging
and receding in harmony. At times, shrouded by the spotlights, Shlohmo seemed angelic.

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He mostly played cuts off
his new album, but didn’t forget fan favorites like Places and Later. Later is my favorite Shlohmo song ever.
I cried sweet tears of joy when it came on. Well, maybe not. Nonetheless, I was
super happy.

About an hour into the
set, Shlohmo and the band just ran off the stage without warning. “Is that it?”
I wondered.

Hell no. The lights flared
up and Shlohmo ran back up on stage. He grabbed the microphone and reassured us,
“That was a joke. This is real life now!” He played us one last amazing song.
Then, unfortunately, it was over.

My one beef with the show
was that the two openers, Purple and
Nick Melons, had sets that lasted
about an hour each. That’s a bit long, as openers go. I was restless, standing
on sore feet waiting for Shlohmo to come out. But the openers were pretty tight
so it was cool I guess.

Definitely a night to
remember.  

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Pranav Shivanna

New Track: Allen Stone – Upside

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I first heard of Allen Stone back in 2013. He was a last moment replacement for headliners Capital Cities at our Dawg Daze concert, Fall Fling. I wasn’t too thrilled about this development. I’d been looking forward to jumping around and screaming “safe and sound!” over and over again.

Nonetheless, I went to the concert. It was free, I had nothing to lose. I’m super glad that I went. Allen Stone did not disappoint at all. He danced around the stage frenetically, channeling his inner funk to put on a hell of a show. He had me non-stop swaying to his swanky tunes. Stone banished all my regrets regarding Safe and Sound.

Stone has come a long way since the fall of 2013. He’s now signed to a major label, Capitol Records, and is about to release his third album, Radius, on May 26th.  

“Upside” is the latest single off of Radius. The song’s funky guitar riffs and sudden keyboard notes pair well with Stone’s pain-filled voice. The Stevie Wonder influence is plain to hear:

The song laments a love lost, “Your love has no alibi/Still I fuel my appetite,” but also kind of celebrates it, “And I forget the pain it caused/It’s better to have loved and lost.”

Musically, “Upside” is deceptively upbeat. I can’t help but bob my head every time I listen to it. And I’ve listened to it plenty. The hook is cleverly catchy and easy to sing along to, “It keeps turning me upside down/It keeps pulling me underground.” I see this song becoming immensely popular at his live shows.

I really dig Stone’s brand of soul music and can’t wait to hear whatever else he has in store.

You can check out “Upside” here or pre-order Radius here.

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Pranav Shivanna

Purity Ring – Another Eternity

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In 2012, Purity Ring’s debut LP, Shrines, garnered critical acclaim for its surreal take on synthpop. The record was focused and dark, with eleven fantastically produced tracks each adding to the overall occult aesthetic. Another Eternity departs from this spooky brilliance in favor of a brighter and poppier sound, while thankfully maintaining the great production values of the first album.

Unlike on Shrines, Megan James’ voice takes the front seat on Another Eternity. While the heavily processed vocals of the first album make a return on a few tracks, such as “Dust Hymns” and “Stillness in Woe”, they’re as a whole overshadowed by James’ more memorable melodies on songs such as “Heartsigh” or “Sea Castle”. MIDI vocal samples are also featured throughout the record, but are rarely the focus and serve as more of a tool in Corin Roddick’s instrumental arsenal than the lead voice.

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With less of an atmospheric vibe and brighter vocals, Another Eternity takes a step towards the mainstream and, seemingly sensing this, Roddick has slotted in elements of popular house music throughout the album. At the same time, he tries to maintain some of the weirdness that made Shrines the hit that it was. The result is what occasionally feels almost anti-EDM: A lone siren and percussion roll in “Heartsigh” among the otherwise synthpop instrumentals or a build up to a drop that never comes in “Dust Hymn”. On first listen, these sounds are jarring and feel out of place, but they quickly meld into the overall tone and are barely noticed on subsequent listens.

Aside from the house influence, Another Eternity’s instrumentals are fairly similar to those of Shrines, albeit brighter, and that’s a good thing. They’re every bit as polished as those on Purity Ring’s debut LP and leave little to be desired.

Though Another Eternity is a departure from Shrines, it is every bit as memorable. A change in tone this drastic is sure to divide the fanbase, but Corin Roddick’s fantastic production values ensure that this record sounds great and maintains a sense of cohesion between Another Eternity and Shrines. All in all, Another Eternity does well to avoid the “Sophomore slump” that is all too apparent in indie bands today.

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Garrett M

Coming Up: Toro Y Moi – What For? (Album Preview)

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Earlier today, Toro Y Moi surprised us all with a track we never expected! “Buffalo” (available on SoundCloud below) premiered on The Fader this morning along with a few insights into TYM’s creative process:

When I started writing this song I was experiencing a bit of writer’s block and this song was what pulled me out. As soon as I wrote it, I knew it would set the tone for the entire album.

And so it did. Comparing this track with TYM’s last release from this album, we can hear similar vibes of snares and solidarity. Both “Buffalo” and “Empty Nesters” rely on a driving rhythm beneath insightful lyrics. ‘Cause you love it all / ‘Cause you’ll find a way / To keep on… Check out the video from the January release below:

Stay tuned (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for more coverage of Toro Y Moi’s latest endeavor! I am excited to see what other singles are planned for release before the album (tracklist below) drops in April!

What For? (Expected Release Date: April 7, 2015)
01 What You Want
02 Buffalo
03 The Flight
04 Empty Nesters
05 Ratcliff
06 Lilly
07 Spell It Out
08 Half Dome
09 Run Baby Run
10 Yeah Right

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DJ Desman

New Track: Blur – Go Out

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Lunar New Year’s celebrations don’t typically include a ‘90s Britpop band announcing a new album at a Chinese restaurant in London. But that’s exactly what happened on the first day of the holiday this year, with Blur revealing the title of their eighth studio album, The Magic Whip, and sharing the first song from it, “Go Out.” So gong hei fat choy to all the Britpop fans out there, I guess.

Hopes for new Blur album have been floating around since their reunion in 2009 and were further fueled by the release of a few new singles in the years since. Such hopes appeared to be confirmed with the news that the band recorded fifteen new songs during their 2013 Hong Kong tour, but singer Damon Albarn was quick to quash any overly optimistic thoughts by suggesting the sessions would end up as “one of those records that never comes out.” The members of the group seemed busy enough with other projects anyway, such as recording solo material, making cheese, and writing a musical based on Alice in Wonderland.

Few were expecting the surprise announcement of The Magic Whip, including possibly Blur themselves. But after polishing up the Hong Kong tracks, the first Blur album in twelve years was ready to go, with the recording location inspiring its cover and announcement location.

The first track to be revealed, “Go Out,” sounds in line with Blur’s later material. The noise of those post-Britpop albums is present here, though that’s not to say that there aren’t any hooks: the chorus, with its vocal hook, has already wriggled its way into my head. Meanwhile, Albarn’s contemptuous lyrics about “the greed go-getter con” show that he hasn’t grown too much more complacent with modern life since the ‘90s, when he sang about it was “rubbish.” On the whole, “Go Out” isn’t too wild of a departure for Blur, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to say that about the entire album. After all, Albarn has branched out quite a bit in his work with Gorillaz (and countless other projects), as has guitarist Graham Coxon with his own solo music. It’ll be interesting to see what other directions the band will take on The Magic Whip.

In keeping with the Hong Kong theme, the lyric video for “Go Out” features gratuitous Chinese and, for some reason, an ice cream recipe. You could maybe try making it yourself while you wait for The Magic Whip to come out on April 29th, and you can pre-order it in your format of choice here.

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LeAnn Nguyen

Jarryd James – “Do You Remember”

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Almost a month ago, Jarryd James (broody-looking guy in above photo) released his debut single, “Do You Remember”, confirming his status as an artist to keep an eye out for in the near future. 

The track is a lovely mixture of genres–a little bit indie, a little bit electronic, a dash of folk. James, who is from Brisbane and is currently opening for Angus & Julia Stone on their Australian tour, reminds me a lot of James Blake and James Vincent McMorrow. Vocally and lyrically, he is definitely on par with both. 

That falsetto. 

The gentle riff that begins this song is catchy and calming, and James’ breathy, soulful voice on top of the deep, rhythmic percussion that kicks in is enough to make anyone feel at peace. I dare you not to sing along when the chorus rolls around for the second time.

It seems unfair to be left hanging after such a great debut, but I strongly suggest following Jarryd James on Soundcloud and/or Twitter to stay posted on what’s to come–if this single is any indication, it’s going to be unreal. 

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malz

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