British duo The Herbaliser released their seventh album, There Were Seven, in 2012 after a four year hiatus. It was an excellent album, and very well received. As they toured, though, they came to realize just how much the way musicians connect with each other had changed. As they traveled and performed, they connected with a myriad of fans and fellow musicians that they had first made contact with online. This remix project was born as they came to know a new generation of producers, deejays, emcees, and other musicians.
Are we really on album 12 already? It feels like just yesterday that I was picking up album #7 from L.A. mainstays People Under The Stairs, and even then I couldn’t believe they were already up to that many albums. That’s what happens though, when you have a duo with very little drama, a clear sense of what they want to do, and a strong work ethic. It’s been fifteen years of quality hip hop now, and Thes One and Double K don’t show any signs of slowing down.
It’s been an interesting path to get to K.Flay’s debut full length album. Over the course of the past few years, K.Flay had made a name for herself based on some stellar SXSW performances, a lot of touring, and a number of EPs and mixtapes. The goods were there, though – it wasn’t just hype. She had developed a unique sound, blending hip hop with an industrial/alternative rock style to make a style of music that was unique, yet easily accessible. In early 2013, she released West Ghost, an EP that announced her departure from the Bay Area for Brooklyn.
Since the release of his 2011 album, Boesoek, Dutch producer Coco Bryce has been on a creative tear. That album was one of the best instrumental full lengths of recent years, and his follow up, 2013’s Club Tropicana, continued to expand his sound. His music brings in a myriad of styles of hip hop, dance, and skweee, but he always manages to filter them through his own unique voice. With his latest effort, an EP titled The Lover, we get a short, focused effort that will stay in your head for days.
Jellyfish Brigade is the Portland duo of emcee Lucas Dix and producer Jeffrey Acciaioli. While this album marks the debut full length release for the duo, this project has been a long time coming. Dix grew up in Wisconsin, but moved to Portland with his friend and musical partner, Gavin Theory, to pursue their artistic endeavors. Unfortunately, though, Theory had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the music of Hives Inquiry Squad never got to see its full fruition.
It’s been six years since we last got a solo album from Boston emcee Akrobatik. It’s been a hell of a journey for the underground veteran, who we very nearly lost to heart problems a few years back. He’s been determined to release another album for the better part of a year, shopping around his music to different labels, and even launching a failed Kickstarter campaign. It was weird to think this emcee, who had been one of my favorites while working in college radio in the early to mid '00s, was now on the outside looking in. Was it just a shift in the music industry?
Last year, Doomtree artist Dessa dropped her sophomore solo album, Parts of Speech. It was an excellent release, landing in our Top Ten of 2013. The album featured a lot of varied material, as she continued to expand her sound from her first album. It ran the gamut from aggressive dance/hip hop tracks like “Warsaw,” to slow and intimate storytelling and singing on tracks like “It’s Only Me.” One year later, we get to revisit a small sample of the album, now reimagined and remixed by the likes of The Hood Internet, Budo, and Youngblood Brass Band.
Hugo Kant is a producer from Marseilles, France who has been releasing music under that name since 2011. In that short time, he’s been very busy, releasing two albums, two EPs, and a bunch of remixes. With his latest album, Kant gives us a look at a wide range of music, and continues to both expand and refine his style.
Earlier this year, we were treated to the outstanding Yasiin Gaye: The Departure (Side One) from Amerigo Gazaway. There was a lot to like about the album, but one of the best parts was that the title promised that there was more to come. Fortunately, we only had to wait a couple of months for the next volume to drop. The Nashville producer has been making a name for himself over the last couple of years, and he continues to prove that he’s not just some copyright criminal (like some record labels would have you believe).
With very little fanfare or buildup, Massachusetts emcee Alyssa Marie has just dropped her second full length album, No Parades on Easy Street. She caught our attention with her debut album, HeartBeat, released two years ago. With her sophomore effort, she continues to build upon the foundation of her first album.