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December 15, 2010

Guide Into 2011: Music

The Drums

by Steve Morrissey

It’s been a long year and 2010 definitely had its memorable music moments. Some good; some amazing; and some moments were downright horrendous. But with a new year just around the corner it’s time to turn our ears towards “the next big thing” or more likely what mass media will try to sell us as “the next big thing”.  But, I’m not going to try and sell you anything, instead, I’m just going to turn you on to some good music and let YOU decide. My pick for 2011 is Brooklyn’s own The Drums.

I first heard The Drums back in late 2009 when a friend sent me a link to the video for their single “Let’s Go Surfing”. I was hooked from the first bars of this infectious catchy song and I craved more. The band’s mixture of guitars, drums and synthesizers recalls the days of 80’s synth pop and the radio was ruled by bands like Joy Division, The Smiths and Depeche Mode.

Following the release of their Summertime! EP, the band started to attract the attention of the UK music scene and the landed on the coveted BBC Sound of 2010 list, and shortly thereafter was booked on the 2010 NME Awards Tour. In June 2010 the band finally released their self-titled debut album and the album landed on the UK, Ireland, Australian and Belgian music charts

But The Drums’ journey has just begun and come 2011 this is band that you’ll be hearing a lot more of and they’ll be hard to avoid. I hate using the term “Buzz band” as it’s a phrase that turns me off and the band is a letdown in the end. Thankfully that’s not the case here. Bands like The Drums are what make me love finding new music. When I find that new band that gets me excited the first thing I want to do is turn my friends onto as soon as possible. Well my friends, The Drums are a band that you not only want to listen to, but YOU NEED TO listen to!

The Drums are on tour overseas but will back to tour the States in 2011. The self-titled album is out now on Moshi Moshi/Island Records.

For more information visit: www.thedrums.com

Joell Ortiz

by John Dixon

“The new member in the argument of who’s better,” couldn’t be a more accurate self-assessment from Joell Ortiz himself. For many of us, pre-Slaughterhouse inception, Joell Ortiz was as random a name as Bernie Madoff was before his Ponzi scheme indictment. Now, Joell is as synonymous with hip-hop as Madoff is with credit default swap. At first listen, he seems to be just another punch line rapper: a glorified verbsmith. But adjust the volume and his and his ingenious concepts, cultural depth, and bold charisma, will resonate deeply.

My introduction to Joell came on the initial Slaughterhouse record that leaked featuring Nino Bless in the winter of 2009. The hardest 24 spit that year blew me away.

“Yall be making up stories the little kids is buying/ I do ever thing my Penn State like a Nittany Lion”

He was nice, but still the next six months were spent trying to figure out who was the best in hip-hop’s new supergroup. At the time, Joe Budden was the most well-known thanks to his Billboard hit “Pump It Up.” Next came Royce da 5’9”, his notoriety notably because of his falling out with Eminem’s hip-hop group, D12. Joell might be recognized if he was standing next to the former two, but Crooked I was a myth. They all eventually proved their lyrical prowess, and Joell was permanently a part of the “Who’s nicest?” conversation. Barbershops littering the East Coast had people swearing personal allegiance to their favorite Slaughterhouse titan.

Until Joell flooded the Internet with freestyle after freestyle, YouTube clip after YouTube clip.

Demonstrating the work ethic of a Chilean miner, shooting and releasing more than 30 videos in the last three years, Joell has also diversified his musical profile in collaborations with Atlanta-based soul singer Novell, Phonte from Little Brother, West coast rapper Blu, and Colin Munroe. Joell has successfully defined himself as an artist, instead of just a rapper —  a notable distinction in today’s music world.

Maybe he’s a generation late, spitting with the ethos of the 90s East Coast. Or maybe he’s right on time, with the public divide of the mainstream and underground worlds, and the upsurge of fresh new talent. His skill set and musical conscientiousness, rooted in the era of Carhart jackets, side-cocked ski goggles, and Hifliger rugby shirts, wasn’t welcomed by the industry in 2003 when snap music chauffeured hip-hop. But Joell told Combat Jack during a PNC Radio interview that the preservation of his craft and integrity started in the early 90s, when Das EFX — from the heart of the Golden Era of hip-hop — was another local BK group at hip hop’s forefront.

“I was putting out 12-inch records [without a deal] on Rawkus records” in 1999, when Rawkus was harboring hip-hop greats such as Black Star duo Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Cocoa Brovaz, Big L, Pharoahe Monch, and Kool G. Rap. Surprised? Before Aftermath,” I spent years just making music. No stress, no deal, just really sharpening my skills. At this point I’m not ready for a record deal.”

In an era when artists have to build their own followings guerilla-style, through mixtapes, appearances and Internet channels, that statement is genuinely refreshing, reassuring the public that some rappers still take their craft seriously.

His first mixtape, Who the Fuck is Joell Ortiz? was released in 2004, followed up with the answer to that question in album form. His debut studio album, The Brick: Bodega Chronicles, which featured Maino, Immortal Technique, Akon, Styles P, and Big Daddy Kane, was released on Koch records in 2007 spawning a specific cult-like following, and the fruits of a European tour. Showing off his lyrical talent on songs like BQE and Hip Hop, the album provided insight to his firm sociological grasp on reality with songs likes “Modern Day Slavery” featuring Immortal Technique. The response was astronomical. Fast forward to 2010, Joell’s blue collar industrial-age work ethic has shown fruitful, releasing an impressive six mixtapes, two solo studio albums, and one collaboration album within a two year time period, making him one of the most talked about emcees of the year. His Hot 97 freestyle-turned-single “Sing like Bilal” and Just Blaze-produced record “Battle Cry” have created much angst around his Free Agent album. While its available on Amazon.com, its official release has been pushed back until 2011 for unknown reasons.

For more information visit: www.joellortiz.com/

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Fashawn

by John Dixon

Most of us stopped waiting a decade ago for Dre to save the West coast. That posthumous, God-touting breath that exhaled from Tupac in the 90s surrounded Dre, casting a generation of fans in constant disillusion, and suffocated a great. No shots, but while a million and one fainted out of their computer chairs at the reoccurring news that Detox had been postponed yet again, an army of Golden State warriors were creating great music. Entering swiftly into the music game via Southern California, the Internets rang with music from Blu, Pac Div, Crooked I and The Game. And still Fashawn managed to separate himself from the bunch.

Born Santiago Leyva, the 22-year-old Fresno rapper bubbled to the top of the global underground scene with sizable followings in the U.S., Germany and the U.K. His debut studio album, Boy Meets World, released in 2009 at 20 years old, is considered a hip-hop classic. Most likely because of the exceptional maturity he shows on the album in his lyrics and its production. Since then he’s released several well-received mixtapes, including Ode to Illmatic, essentially a respectful remake of Nas’s debut album, Illmatic — a brazen move for any rapper. His musical survival after such a move proves his importance. Hip hop fans don’t take remakes lightly, and Fashawn’s move risked his career. Impressively, the mixtape was favorable among critics and fans alike, “As such, it’s difficult to not be skeptical when an MC announces he’s going to make an ode to that record by spitting over the instrumentals. But if there was ever a rapper to do so, it’s Fashawn.” Andrew Martin of Prefixmag.com

A distinctive voice and rhyme style, he isn’t trying to preserve hip hop with his greatest punch line, just tell their stories effortlessly. Humble, but confident. Poised, but hungry. He has mastered tackling difficult subject matter for the masses to digest, while maintaining street credibility. Chalk it up to lackluster record sales, a definitive aspect of being an underground artist, but what can be used as an accurate artistic rubric is his endorsements — who is involved in his projects, featured on his songs, spinning his records, etc. Highly respected veterans providing approbation like DJ Green Lantern, Exile and the Alchemist result in a hip hop tenure ripe with musicianship.

Boy Meets World was produced entirely by Cali producer Exile, automatically giving it a very mature, soulful sound. Not quite expected from a 19-20 year old. He raps about his unorthodox childhood, practically raising himself from such a young age; the painful experience is the backbone of his music. His strong lyrical ability and subject depth settle in with a great musical ear. Remove the hard rhymes, and his debut album is easily a jazz, R&B, funk or gospel album.

To date, Fashawn has released one studio album and 10 mixtapes. His most recent mixtape Grizzly City 3, hosted by DJ Skee, has also been a musical success with singles “Bart Simpson” and “Pass the Cohiba.” He notes this project as just him “having fun” versus the preparation for his eleventh tape, Higher Learning, being a “much more focused and serious project.”

Check out FashawnTV, the 20-year-old’s YouTube Club to stay up to date with his most recent projects, like his clothing line, skateboard deck and commissioned New Era fitted cap.

Big K.R.I.T.

by Tyler Durden

The call of  “who’s next to come from the south?” was heard and answered by Mississippi’s own, Big K.R.I.T. (King Remembered in Time). Never drifting from the smooth woodgrain Cadillac feel that we love and expect to hail from lyricists from down south all while keeping busy over the last five years with mixtape releases and each gaining recognition leading up the success of this summer’s “K.R.I.T. Wuz Here”, being the most thoughtful and introspective of the bunch which led to his signing with Def Jam this summer. K.R.I.T. works both sides of the studio, producing “K.R.I.T. Wuz Here” entirely by himself providing classic-soul sampling Southern head bopping tunes with few even given comparisons to J Dilla. Fellow Mississippi rapper, David Banner even felt comfortable passing the torch down to K.R.I.T., after displaying his versatility and putting his city on his back and back on the map.

Yelawolf

by Tyler Durden

At first glance, you may think “gee, another white rapper” but you being the good person you are, still curious to hear what this dude has to say, you give  a listen and think to yourself “not bad”. This is how you’ve come to appreciate and respect Alabama’s own Yelawolf.

Using the moniker Yelawolf to reference his half Cherokee half Caucasian roots, Yelawolf had a similar but yet different background like most rappers we see merge out of the south. Spending much of his childhood in various location around the south, including Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Atlanta, Georgia, Berkeley, California where he was homeless in People’s Park.

Attempting his skills as a professional skateboarder but fell victim to a injury that put an end to that brought him to where he found salvation in music, releasing mixtapes independently in 2007. Since then he’s appeared on the track “Down This Road” from Bizarre’s third studio album Friday Night at St. Andrews, in Big Boi’s first solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty track “You Ain’t No DJ” which was produced by André 3000 (his declared greatest group of all time), and his most recent appearance is in Paul Wall’s fifth studio album Heart of a Champion track “Live It” which also features Jay Electronica and Raekwon, produced by Travis Barker.

Yelawolf’s mixtape entitled Trunk Muzik 0-60 was his first project with a major label and was released in November under Ghet-O-Vision Entertainment and Interscope Records. Now we sit back and await his debut album expecting to hit shelves in the first quarter of 2011.

WhoMadeWho

by Tyler Durden

WhoMadeWho formed in 2003, with falsetto voiced bassist Tomas Hoffding coming from the Scandinavian rock underground, singer songwriter/guitarist Jeppe Kjellberg from the avantgarde jazz scene (with beard to match), and drummer Tomas Barford – who also records as Tomboy – a rising star of electronic music. They released several 12-inches on leading German disco label Gomma Records including ‘Out The Door’ and ‘Space To Rent’, culminating in their eponymous debut album in 2005, which won them a devoted audience who evangelized about their new favorite band, making it the sleeper hit of the year. In 2009 they released their second album “The Plot”.

As a live band WhoMadeWho are an unforgettable, incendiary experience having played alongside genre bending contemporaries Daft Punk, Soulwax, Hot Chip, Justice and LCD Soundsystem. After touring together Hot Chip asked to remix new single ‘TV Friend’, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age has covered ‘Space to Rent’ after seeing them rattling bones in their skeleton garb. WhoMadeWho gained further popularity when they headlined the Benicàssim festival in 2007 after a delay caused former headliners, the Klaxons, to arrive too late to play their set.

Why do they dress up in skeleton suits when they play live? Why does a band supposedly known for disco punk start their second album with an outbreak of ominous sounding woodwind? And why do they fill their most breezy pop moments with teutonic synths? The Danish trio are difficult to pin down but their music sounds as effortless as it is stylistically and sonically adventurous. WhoMadeWho are on a mission to eschew convention.

White Lies

by Steve Morrissey

Is it January 18th yet?!? I’m antsy, I’m impatient and if I could, I would skip right through the holidays and go directly to the 3rd week of January. January 18th is a date that can’t get here soon enough for me. What’s got me all worked up you ask? Well, that’s the day that the new White Lies album will drop to the world and it’s about damn time!

The band hasn’t released any new music since their 2009 debut “To Lose My Life…” choosing instead to focus all of their energy into touring.  On top of their own headlining tour, the band has been a part of some of 2009’s biggest festivals; and found themselves playing the role of opening act for Coldplay, Kings of Leon and Muse to name a few.

The band first came together in early 2007 under the moniker of “Fear of Flying” and released two double A-side vinyl singles before declaring the band dead in October of 2007.  From the ashes of Fear of Flying came White Lies. Along with the new name came a much moodier and darker sound that fit the mindset of band founders Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown.  The band even spent months getting ready for their first live gig and their wait paid off. Several days after the band’s live debut they were signed to a small indie UK label with publishing rights to Chrysalis Music, and from there the band just took off. The band’s debut not only went number one upon its release BUT they did it at the same time Lady Gaga and Kings of Leon were dominating the charts. Soon the band filled up all of 2009 and 2010 with TV appearances and tours of the US, UK, Japan and the world.

If none of the above has peaked your interest, then how about this? You’re missing one of the best bands to come out of the UK in several years.  Don’t believe me? Buy their debut “To Lose My Life…” add it to your iPod and then sit back and just soak it in.

Everyone has told some white lies in their life, hell, you’ve even heard a few white lies in the past, but you ain’t NEVER gotten lost in White Lies. Till now…

For more information visit: www.whitelies.com/us.html

posted by: Limité Staff
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