Mixtapes of the Month: March 2014
There was a time when mixtapes were loose collections of songs not good enough to make an album. Those days are over. In 2014, an age where artists recognize that the road to stardom is paved with free music, mixtapes have become full, original bodies of music in their own right. But all that free music also means discovering something truly worth your time can be harder than finding a needle in a digital haystack. That’s where our friends at DJBooth.net come in. Their “Mixtapes of the Month” series narrows down the last 30 days (give or take) to five projects guaranteed to ensure the month’s best work doesn’t pass you by. So without further ado, here are five new ones for your tape deck, desktop or iPhone.
Jamla, Jamla Is The Squad
Who is the squad led by a legendary producer with a deep roster of talented, hardworking and quality-oriented emcees? Jamla Is The Squad. What a coincidence, that's also the name of the new compilation album from indie label, Jamla. Led by 9th Wonder, who's worked with everyone from Jay Z and Kanye West to Duke college students (he is a professor there), Jamla kicks of the year with an album that showcases their full range of talent.
Former Pulse on Who's Next feature, Rapsody is the frontwoman for the label. She's all over it, but there's much more to discover. Emcees like GQ (a former UNC basketball star), Actual Proof, Heather Victoria, Add-2 (the newest member of the team), and plenty more who are just as talented as Rapsody, and all of them show it here. Those who enjoy no nonsense, straight up hip-hop will love this album. With dense, thoughtful and eloquent flows along with impressive, soul-sample heavy production (most coming from 9th and Jamla/Soul Council producer Khrysis) and some legendary guest spots from Talib Kweli, Pete Rock and more, Jamla Is The Squad is a hip-hop head's dream, and a nightmare for any other label who has to follow them.
On their self-titled sophomore album, Boston-based pop duo Aer showcases a breezy, bubbly style that will have you wanting to put on some sandals and have a cookout. For all you hip-hop heads out there, they might be a "pop" duo, but that doesn't mean they can't rap when properly inspired. In fact the hip-hop based songs “I'm With It” and “She Loves Me” (which is quite funny to boot) are the perfect blend of the two genres. So sit back in a beach chair, grab a fancy drink with an umbrella, catch some rays, and get ready for the fun, feel-good, hip-pop that Aer has to offer.
Phil Beaudreau, ETHER
In hip-hop speak, the word "ether" has a dark, mysterious etymology rooted in Nas' famous Jay Z diss track. To "ether" something means to completely turn it on its head and leave it spinning. For example, it would be appropriate to say Phil Beaudreau ethered the music industry with his appropriately-titled ETHER. Though the album was produced by Grammy Award-winning Dawaun Parker (who's one of Dr. Dre's right hand men), Beaudreau recorded, performed and arranged these songs in their entirety; the most important obviously being the "performed" part. When it comes to his vocals, the best way to describe his sound is eclectic. Though his fluttering crooning is heavily rooted in R&B, Beaudreau toys with jazz, pop, rock, soul and maybe some new genres he invented. The end result is a flavorful, airy, feel good album that will leave you wanting more. Stream ETHER on DJBooth.Net.
The Incomparable Shakespeare, By Any Dreams Necessary
What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and By Any Dreams Necessary is the sun. Sorry, for that, but we just couldn't resist a Romeo and Juliet reference when discussing The Incomparable Shakespeare. Now, by his name, you might think the New York emcee is Incomparable, but he does remind me of someone: the OG Shakespeare. So he isn't writing sonnets and soliloquies, but the penmanship he displays would make his namesake proud. Though Bill never rapped, I'm sure even he would be moved by the passion and fire in the emcee's voice, and might even be jealous of his story telling too (as evidenced on A Love Story). You don't have to be a 16th century playwright either — anyone can enjoy the way The Incomparable Shakespeare pours his all into each cut, making the 10 cut effort a must have for music lovers who love listening to to people who love making music. I think Shakespeare would be proud of that wordplay too.
Allan Rayman, Indrid Cold EP
Let's play a quick word association game, shall we? We say talented, multifaceted Toronto crooner...you say? No, not Drake. Well, ok, we guess that counts, but we had Allan Rayman in mind. After garnering a serious buzz last year with a undeniable intoxicating sound, the Canadian looks to launch himself an express trip to stardom with the Indrid Cold EP. Though it's only a five song effort, you will surely get some bang for your buck (it's free anyway) thanks to it's endless replayability. A low-key and mellow project, Rayman showcases the raspy crooning that made him one to watch, but he also flexes some hip-hop muscles with a surprisingly brisk flow. In just five short songs Rayman makes proves he is worthy of the buzz and really sets himself up for a big year. This is just the beginning, so hop on the bandwagon while there is still room. Stream Indrid Cold on DJBooth.Net.
March 24, 2014 via Pepsi