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What matters in the world of popular music.

Posts tagged “hip-hop

07 – Interview: Kat Dahlia

On this episode of the “Hear! Hear!” and Now Podcast, I have the opportunity to speak with Kat Dahlia, a 22-year-old pop / hip-hop songwriter who’s already made waves with last year’s viral hit “Gangsta.”

Dig beneath the surface and it’s easy to hear her disappointment with those in her generation who remain content bragging about accomplishments which in the end mean little. This, juxtaposed against her own family struggles as a first-generation Cuban-American growing up in Miami, sets her apart from most in the genre.

With a mix of fun party songs and more serious looks at the world in which she lives,one thing is clear: Kat Dahlia has something to say coupled with the drive to take over your pop landscape. Listen up, she’s coming to a city near you and there’s the chance to get in on this thing from the ground floor!

For a list of upcoming tour dates and to get a copy of her Seeds Mixtape, you can visit katdahlia.com

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ARMED THROUGH TRUTH: Calle 13’s “Multi-Viral” a call-to-arms in a disinformation age

Not every band has the balls of Puerto Rico’s Calle 13. Most bands don’t come close.

But it takes a special brand of righteous courage to get out there with a message this intense, packaging an ear-catching blend of incendiary rock with a message of moral certainty in an age where we often can’t trust anyone, particularly media gatekeepers. Yet they don’t stop there. The song is built around multiple languages, featuring Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Palestinian singer Kamilya Jubran, and even with barely a rudimentary understanding of the Spanish language (and no understanding of Palestinian) the underlying message comes through loud and clear.

From NPR:

Speaking to the group’s lead singer, Rene Perez Joglar, on the phone recently, he told me the goal of the song was to discuss how “media is controlling everything, even people’s minds, everything. Here in the U.S. it’s worse, it’s like a bubble … It’s important to have the right information, and you are not going to get that from one newspaper or one TV show. You have to look for that. In order to get the full picture, you have to read a lot and look for yourself. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a war that you think is a good idea, but it’s not for a good reason.”

If you’re still hiding within that media-protected bubble prior to listening to “Multi-Viral,” prepare to have it burst spectacularly.

Calle 13 has proved through the last decade to be the most daring Puerto Rican band of its generation in any genre, and this single proves they’ve got no plans to give up the fight. From the assassination of Puerto Rican independence activist Filiberto Ojeda Rios by the FBI to their vitriol toward the Vatican, nothing’s off limits. Still, there’s always the understanding that there’s more to the band than simply pushing limits. As Alejandro A. Riera writes on his blog culturebodega:

You could tell there was something special about Calle 13. Here was a lyricist/vocalist (René Pérez Joglar “Residente”) who could actually rhyme (unlike so many reggaetón stars) and could use the tools of poetry to create vivid images in the listener’s imagination, and a musician (Eduardo Cabra “Visitante”) who is as much a musical omnivore as David Byrne.

Yes, the band has graduated well beyond the shock-rap which built their reputation early (see “Atrevete Te Te”) and picked up the mantle of righteous indignation laid down years ago by Zach de la Rocha. And those who appreciate protest music where the message and the music are equally worth hearing — and sharing — would be remiss if they ignore the music of Calle 13.

Indeed “Multi-Viral” deserves to become precisely that.


DREAMS UNDETERRED — Jabee’s “Dreams” a thoughtful example of hip-hop at its zenith

Quietly putting Oklahoma City on the hip-hop map, Jabee’s “Dreams,” at the heart and soul of his album Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, which is an example of meaningful hip-hop at its zenith. Chuck D of Public Enemy can already be counted as a supporter, suggesting that Jabee’s subtle thoughtful hip-hop has the distinct potential to change the world. “Dreams” in particular focuses on the dreams we all share, big and small, and the ability we have to overcome circumstances to ensure they become realized, not deferred or deterred. Give this one a listen, I think you’ll agree this is a message worth sharing.


“Hell Yeah, Fuck Your Life” — Chi City puts the viral in underground hip-hop

Press play on this one by Southside Chicago rapper Chi City and let the incredible beat reel you in. One listen and I’m ready to share with the world, while blasting the chorus to everyone in earshot: “Hell yeah, fuck ya life!” Though hard-edged, the message is clear. You want riches, fame and respect? Work like a dog for it, put in the time and then maybe you’ll hit on something that sticks. Until then, don’t expect Chi City to cry any tears for you. The track’s got all the hooks needed to worm its way into any hip-hop playlist and stay there. Can’t wait to hear what else these guys come up with in the new year.


FRESH FRIDAY: Chris Clarke’s “Beads” equals shiny, ephemeral pop-hop you’ll want to share

Beads
Great name for chicks
I know a jealous sapphire
And an amethyst
And if she’s a square
I can work with her
But I prefer my joints to be circular

This one’s not to be taken too seriously, but damned if it won’t stick in your head, the ultimate pop-hop throwback. All you need’s a phat beat, some shiny beads, plenty of Snoop Dogg-sized blunts and you’re ready for what Chris Clarke brings to the table. “Every time you see me I got some fresh-assed clothes and some beads. And some weed,” he raps early on, before seriously breaking it all down for us: “I got rare beads, prayer beads, square beads and player beads.”

Word.

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Download “Beads” for free here. Or check out the entire album on his Bandcamp page.


Australian hip-hopper Dialekt’s “Fortress” is a perfect swing for the pop-radio fences

Australian hip-hopper Dialekt has a lot going for him, particularly on his solid single “Fortress.” First off there’s the hook, which echoes but doesn’t carbon-copy the piano-tinged flair of “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna. Then there’s the chorus, sung ably by Xy Latu, which is as memorable as anything you’ll hear from Mikky Ekko or Gotye, a perfect ear-worm which does as much to demand repeat plays as does Dialekt’s rapping. That’s the clincher, though, is that this kid has serious flow. At first I wasn’t convinced — the first verse sounded a bit too much like B.o.B.’s work on “Airplanes” — but when he really gets going during the second verse, it is immediately clear there’s more here in the vein of Macklemore than anything else in pop-versed hip-hop.

No guarantee he’ll hook our ears with anything else, but “Fortress” is a solid first swing toward the fences. I could hear this song getting plenty of top 40 radio-play, and the video’s professionally produced, with a distinctive look. Start it at the two-minute mark if you’re not interested in the pseudo-story presented by the video, which in the end is just a chance to get Dialekt to light a few giant flares and let a helicopter spread color around him as he raps. What matters is that the quality of the song speaks for itself. This is everything pop programmers salivate over. Will it be enough to break Dialekt here in America? I’m going to bet yes.


Waiting For My Kingdom To Come: Dubby’s “Game Of Thrones” showcases MC’s strong flow

Dubby (Team LoKo) — credit: http://hiphopspeakeasy.com

Pennsylvania rapper Dubby (a.k.a. Caleb Joyce) is set to put Gettysburg on the map as more than just a Civil War mecca. The kid’s got serious flow, as illustrated by his video for “Game of Thrones,” a track which reminds me rhythmically of Brother Ali, and his ability to speed up and slow down his delivery while maintaining a steady flow. “Collapse the diaphragm / This is a test / Breathe / Stretch / Shake / Mace / Puff / Pass / Rough / Patch / Sandpaper shit / That’s a must have / Pick people for my team who can buff that!”

Collapse the diaphragm
This is a test
Breathe
Stretch
Shake
Mace
Puff
Pass
Rough
Patch
Sandpaper shit
That’s a must have
Pick people for my team that can buff that!
You picked a dude that can jump and that runs fast
That overlaps the one runner who comes last just to run laps
But I’ma pick the dude that was humbled
By having defeated his demon
Look for the heart and never the pride

Sure, the things he says take some mental gymnastics to decipher at times, but the hook is there behind the concept. “Game of Thrones” showcases Dubby as a guy on the way up, looking to build his team from other hungry rappers of his ilk, and once he gets that throne, there’s no one going to take it from him. “I’m just waiting for my kingdom to come,” he sings on the chorus, and by the end of the track you’ll believe — even if just for a moment — that success will eventually find this kid. That kingdom’s gonna come and you heard him here first!