Taking his stage name from an obscure Calvin & Hobbes character, Safari Al first made himself known with a guest spot on fellow Wisconsin emcee Milo's debut mixtape last fall. Earlier this year, he released his own debut mixtape, the excellent Hermitage Academy. He recently took the time to chat with us about getting into hip hop later in life, freestyling, and the scene in Milwaukee, amongst other things.
Emcee PremRock and producer Willie Green have been slowly gaining momentum over the last couple years, trying to find their own space in an always crowded New York scene. However difficult it can be to get that first bit of attention, people will recognize talent when they hear it, and these two have been getting respect from their peers. Nowhere is this more apparent than this remix album. An interesting cross section of producers tried their hand at re-interpreting their music, from the firmly established, such as Blockhead, to the newer voices such as Man Mantis or Has-Lo.
For as great a music city as Austin is, it’s not a great hip hop town. Touring acts will usually get good crowds, but as far as nurturing and supporting local hip hop acts, Austin leaves a lot to be desired. With that said, I was very disappointed to discover a talented producer from Austin going by the name of BoomBaptist right as I was moving out of the state. While his first release didn’t come out until 2010, his latest collection reveals that he’s been making beats for quite some time.
I was first came across Atlanta producer Joules when he collaborated with Adam WarRock and Tribe One on the EP Paper Cutters & Dangling Headphones last year. This year I had the opportunity to see him deejaying for WarRock during his set at SXSW. Neither of these points of exposure prepared me for the instrumental EP he just released, though, a short collection of beautiful down tempo songs. I’d have to say this is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.
Less than a year after One Be Lo released his ambitious LABOR album, he’s come right back with another full length effort. Coming out of the recording sessions of his last record, Lo assembled a production team called The Autocons, who then laid down the foundation for this album. While LABOR was grand and ambitious in it’s scope, P.U.S.H. K.I.C.K. (which stands for “People Usually Show Hate, Keep It Cool Kid”), is much more personal and intimate.
s/s/s is the collaboration of three artists - Son Lux, Serengeti, and Sufjan Stevens. Five or more years ago I would have never thought to put Stevens and anticon. together, but given the musical directions the label and Stevens have taken in recent years, they’re not as far apart as they once were. That said, this EP still makes for a very unique record, and a very interesting blending of sounds, from the orchestral folk-pop background of Stevens, the wry, sarcastic delivery of Serengeti's rhymes, and the bedroom ambiance of Son Lux’s production.
With all the amazing Canadian hip hop that's come our way since the beginning of Scratched Vinyl, it was only a matter of time before a good instrumental down tempo record made it across the border to us. Elaquent is a producer from Toronto who has been making beats for a few years now, and his latest effort reflects his recent commitment to make music full time. The title reflects the wandering journey he took to come to that decision, and listening to this album makes me think he made the right choice.
Lee Bannon already dropped one themed EP on us earlier this year, with the ill-fated Gnarlon Brando record. The production wasn’t bad, but the concept of a soundtrack to a fictional film didn’t pan out. When I saw the title to this EP, I was worried that the same thing might happen again, but Bannon has made it clear that this is EP isn't directly interpreting or sampling the film score of the movie Caligula or attempting to tell the actual historical tale.
Man Mantis had been working as a producer in Madison, releasing his own material, producing for others, and working with the group dumate. Last year, he released the excellent album Cities Without Houses, raising his stature as an instrumental hip hop artist. Last year also saw him relocate to Denver. We caught up with him in a recent stop back through Madison, and discussed his move, collaboration, and the challenge of performing instrumental hip hop live.
Fraction has been making hip hop for quite some time up in Canada, but the Kitchener, Ontario emcee hasn’t really made much noise in the States. Hopefully, this will change with his latest album, Extra Science, done in collaboration with Toronto/Halifax producer Fresh Kils. Kils has been on a tear over the last few years, whether it’s his work as part of the Extremities or Backburner, winning Sound Battle Royale competitions, or producing tracks for numerous artists. The two have come together to make their first full length record together, and it’s a good one.