Here’s a quick roundup of what’s poppin’ in the rap world from the past week. An old school trio responds to a leak of its new album, a rapper-singer deals with the dissolution of his relationship, an upstart artist sets his sights sky high and a seven-man crew laments their struggles make the list this time.
Beastie Boys Fight Leak With Nasty Retort
When the clean version of the Beastie Boys’ forthcoming The Hot Sauce Committee Part Two leaked, the trio decided to get filthy, dirty and nasty by releasing the full explicit version of the album.
The full 16-cut collection is available at hotsaucecommittee.com and shows that the Beasties are still in prime form more than 25 years into its storied career. There’s plenty of vocal distortion, kooky sound effects, obscure samples and lyrical references and captivating tag-team rapping on songs, including “Nonstop Disco Powerpack.”
The more time passes, the more the Beastie Boys find a new way to create progressive, old-school leaning rap music.
Frank Ocean’s New Nostalgia
It’s become a routine road to success for the modern-day artist. Get signed to a major that won’t release their music, get dropped and/or shelved, release music on the Internet and become a sensation.
Such is the case with OFWGKTA member Frank Ocean. His Internet-released nostalgia, ULTRA. album has the ‘Net ablaze, as does his “Novacane” single, which has started getting some radio play around the country.
Like “Novacane,” “Swim Good” has a dark sonic vibe. The latter cut details Ocean’s trying to break away from a failed relationship and fits in well with his relationship-centric music. Given that he sings and raps (and sing-raps), Ocean has been compared to Drake. He makes a clever reference to the Canadian on “Songs For Women,” stating that his girl won’t listen to his music, but will listen to Drake’s. Odds are she’s bumping both.
Julian Stephen Aims For The Royal Treatment
Back in the day, Will Smith was dismissed as being a corny, lighthearted rapper. More than a $1 billion at the box office and tens of millions of albums sold later, rising rappers want to be like the Fresh Prince.
Count Julian Stephen among them. The Queens, New York artist was inspired by Smith’s music, career and success and has named his forthcoming mixtape Prince Charming. Due May 19, the project’s first single is the dreamy “Balloons.”
Urging people to hold on to their dreams, Stephen knows that aspirations have the tendency to drift away, but that people should always stick to them despite any adversity or setbacks. Stephen has clever wordplay, a sense of humor and storytelling ability. It’ll be a tall order achieving what Will Smith has, but at least Stephen is pursuing greatness.
Brown Bag AllStars “Crumble”
There’s plenty of rap that focuses on having money to spare. Those balling on a budget may appreciate the message of the Brown Bag AllStars’ “Crumbling Down.”
The seven-man collective (Emcee/producer The Audible Doctor, emcee/producer J57, emcee KONCEPT, emcee Soul Khan, DJ E Holla, DJ Deejay Element and DJ Goo) is working on its debut album and in the interim will be releasing Brown Bag Season Vol. 1 on May 17. The project’s first leak is “Crumbling Down,” which details the frustration of not achieving your professional goals and how that impacts other aspects of your life.
The slow, wistful beat from Mr. Green gives the group a fitting backdrop to vent. Though clouded in frustration, there’s an inspiring undertone of perseverance that’s needed during dark stretches. Listen up.
For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker
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