Archive | April, 2012

on my boombox: reptar, “body faucet”

18 Apr

My knowledge of Reptar can be attributed almost exclusively to All Things Go and their first monthly extravaganzas at U Street Music Hall. (Which, coincidentally, the 13th iteration of said monthly extravaganza is going down tomorrow night). I was there to see Penguin Prison and RAC, but when I first arrived, I was blown away at the energy brought by the first act- not to mention the Rugrats reference in their name. When I researched Reptar a bit further after the show, I was shocked to discover that this band that had everyone singing along had not, in fact, released a full album.

That will all change with the release of their debut LP, Body Faucet. If the singles are any indication, boy do we have a winner on our hands- these dudes are on fire. I can’t stop listening to it, particularly to the single “Orifice Origami.” But everything I’ve listened to has been strong, and I can’t emphasize the sheer level of fun that these guys bring to their music. They’re one of the few bands who I can listen to at work, and suddenly forget where I am completely as I bop along to the beat and am suddenly transported to a righteous house party in my head. The Reptar world is one of carefree simplicity and joy, and I love that they in no way take themselves to seriously in that regard.

Case in point, “Orifice Origami.” Have a blast.

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two bars three stars: fat trel, “nightmare on e street”

17 Apr

I would normally feel slightly guilty for not reviewing a highly anticipated new mixtape until a few weeks after it drops– however– when said mixtape was slated for release in fall 2011 and has been endlessly hyped for far longer, it’s hard to feel badly about dragging my feet a bit.

Nevertheless, this wouldn’t be a DC music blog worth its chops if I didn’t write about the rapper/social media phenomenon known as Fat Trel. Homegrown in Northeast with the hood mentality to prove it, TrelĀ  is hailed by some as the first messiah of DC hip hop. As I’ve mentioned on the blog previously, it is an oft-debated travesty that, despite all logic, DC has failed to produce a legitimate hip hop super star since… ever, really. (Unless you count Wale and his phony Maryland bullshit, which I don’t).

Now, not everyone (myself included) is fully convinced that Trel will live up to this hype. However, one can’t deny that his flow, street cred, and overall commanding presence are 100% legit. He’s overly aggressive, beyond graphic, immature, and somewhat goonish, but he is undoubtedly an excellent performer with booming delivery that immediately draws your attention. His rhymes are smart and some of his wordplay recalls early Lil Wayne cleverness, even if his subject matter is limited (drugs, hos, guns, repeat).

All of these hints of greatness paired with untapped potential made Trel’s most recent mixtape, Nightmare on E Street, one of the most anticipated releases in recent DC music history. Controversy surrounding Trel’s management and legal troubles delayed the release countless times, which only seemed to amplify the hype. But on March 26, the public finally got to listen to the mixtape Trel’s been tweeting about ~100X a day for months and months. With this extensive piece of work finally in our hands, it seems the only conclusion anyone can come to on Trel is: the jury is still out.

Nightmare displays those same moments of genius that make Trel so intriguing, along with some exciting, well-executed collaborations with big names from the national scene (Big K.R.I.T., for one). However, it is also frustratingly unedited (22 tracks and 1.5 hours long- forreal?!) and at times unfocused. Trel tries his hand at too many different directions, with some clear missteps along the way- most notably toward boneheaded swag rap, such as in “Benning Rd.” (an ode to hood life) or “On Top of Your Girl” (no explanation needed).

Less-than-stellar tracks are inevitable, though (especially among 22 of them), and there are clear gems on this tape; my personal favorites include the menacing, Big K.R.I.T.-produced “Swishers and Liquor,” as well as the “Devil Inside Me.”

My ultimate recommendation, however, for those who are new to Trel: check out his previous tapes first, especially 2011’s April Foolz. They will give you a clearer view of what (we think) Trel is all about. Then listen to Nightmare, but don’t let it make up your mind one way or the other. Then, do as the rest of us are doing: wait and see what he does next. We might have a real superstar on our hands.

“Rollin”

 

“Swishers and Liquor”

weekend roll out: frank ocean, whip appeal (SBTRKT remix)

13 Apr

Happy weekend, yall. I’m sad to report there’s a little less bounce in my step this morning. See, normally by Friday morning my weekend show schedule is pretty; not today. See, I normally never let the jam masters known as Lotus come into town without seeing one or all of their shows. However, I bojangled on buying tickets and now the Saturday show at the 930 club is sold out. What to do, what to do.

However, my Friday buzz was mostly recovered when I found this track. Love Frank Ocean (of Odd Future fame). Love SBTRKT (yet another 930 club regret- but hopefully catching him on the festy circuit this summer). Love SBTRKT remixing Frank Ocean even more. Gold on gold = gold.

Roll out-

Frank Ocean, “Whip Appeal” (SBTRKT remix)

on deck: yellow ostrich at black cat

11 Apr

Sometimes, I am skeptical of bands for no reason. I have a love/hate relationship with many music blogs, and often when I see a band popping up on the blogs that I consider too hipster for their own good, I immediately assume I will find the band boring.

Sometimes bands that fall into this category don’t thrill me upon first listening, but upon second and third revisiting I hear them with new ears. Maybe my musical IQ just isn’t high enough to understand the greatness behind bands like the XX and Devotchka right away, because I gotta tell ya- I considered those guys snoozeville for a long time. But I’ve since come around.

Such is the case with Yellow Ostrich. I didn’t dislike them at first, but I didn’t feel compelled to listen more (well, to be fair, they only had one album to explore at the time). I felt neutral but unexcited by them, kind of how one might feel about drinking a Yuengling. You don’t want to rave about it/jump up and down/tweet+Instagram it, but it goes down just fine.

However, in the world of Steph, Yellow Ostrich upgraded itself to microbrew status last month with the release of their second album, Strange Land. GD, for a relatively unknown group from Wisconsin (/now Brooklyn), these guys are turning out pop gold. Seriously, listen to “Elephant Man,” and tell me if you can’t sing along to every word after three listens.

Also note the endearing album title- Alex Schaaf, the band’s only permanent member, spent two decades confined to small-town Wisconsin before setting his sights on Brooklyn to pursue his music career. Strange land, indeed. That history very much displays itself in Yellow Ostrich’s sound, which is all at once earnest, honest, optimistic, hip, and romantic. It’s a pleasant head-bopping experience with juuust enough edge to keep it interesting.

See them tomorrow at Black Cat!

From The Mistress, “Whale”

 

From Strange Lands, “Marathon Runner”

weekend roll out: andre nickatina, “conversation with a devil”

6 Apr

I openly admit that 90% of my musical knowledge is not due to my own research, but gleaned from culturally aware friends. If I hadn’t been lucky enough (/smart enough) to surround myself with supremely cool (/nerdy) audiophile friends from a young age, I’d be nowhere.

However, if there’s one genre where I’ve learned more from the internet than my friends, it’s rap. In that regard, Datpiff is my best friend. I’ve had a few key contributors to my rap collection over the years, but more often I’m the person pushing rap among my friends, not vice versa.

Luckily, that’s changed a bit recently, as I’ve made friends with a kid who fills some big white space in my rap/hip-hop knowledge: west coast rap. If my overall rap knowledge is average, my west coast awareness is barely mediocre. This kid, however, knows what’s up. Actually, that’s a huge understatement; he pretty much knows everything about rap, but he also has excellent taste. I know that the stuff he hypes will always be strong.

Enter Andre Nickatina, a rapper from said friend’s neck of the woods: northern Cali, specifically the Bay Area. Little did I know that not only has Andre been performing under the name Dre Dog for nearly two decades (he debuted with The New Jim Jones in 1993), but he is also considered a local legend in San Fran. His catalog is crazy extensive and rife with solid gold gangsta rap- straightforward rhyming with some funkified beats where necessary. I’m posting the song that I can’t get out of my head above all others, but there is so, so much good stuff where this came from.

My name is Nicki, but you can call me Dre- what up? Roll out.

Andre Nickatina, “Conversation with a Devil”