Song Of The Day
Listen: HAIM - If I Could Change Your Mind (Cerrone Funk Remix)
Just when you think the Haim sisters couldn’t be any more perfect, along comes legendary French disco producer Cerrone to rework and even improve on one of the best singles of the last twelve months with a big fat bassline, some Stevie Wonder horns and Rodgers-esque guitar chops. It’s incredible. Long may the disco/funk revival continue.
I know I wasn’t the only one who was devastated by the news last year that Das Racist would no longer be releasing music. Just driving by a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell was almost enough to bring tears to my eyes. Luckily, a fraction of the group lives on through Kool A.D., although of course his solo project is more personally influenced than another Das Racist album would’ve been. His flow pattern is still the same, but shows more of who he is as an artist. And that’s nonsensical, chill and slightly underground.
On his own, A.D.’s sound shows that he was one of the stronger components of Das Racist. But when each beat is catered to his flow, it shows his versatility. The mixtape starts off sounding kind of reminiscent of early ’00s underground hip-hop, before taking a slightly trippy electronic turn on “Tight”, thanks to production by Toro Y Moi (in my opinion, it kind of sounds like Death Grips, but less frightening). The Bay Area native’s heavy west coast influence shows up throughout the album; the Kassa-produced “Look” sounds like a nod to the late Mac Dre and Too $hort, while the “Special Forces” beat would fit in comfortably on a Lil B mixtape. Toro Y Moi makes another production appearance on “The Front”, and the pairing of the two makes an excellent combination; there’s a perfect natural chemistry between the two, and it shows itself in beautiful samples and well-matched lyrics. The other highpoints come thanks to A.D.’s longtime producer Amaze 88 being behind contributing to a handful of tracks, and gets shouted out as his A&R on “Life & Time”. Talib Kweli makes an appearance with Boots Riley on “Hickory”, which has the makings of one of those fun summer-time songs, but thankfully it doesn’t go the Will Smith route. Overall, Word O.K. is simple but intriguing; it shows Kool A.D.’s artistic evolution and showcases his personality in the best possible way.
Despite being a member of Das Racist, Kool A.D. isn’t a stranger to the solo artist path. Word O.K. is a great piece to help him truly establish his identity outside of the group. Of course, he’ll probably always be linked to Das Racist, especially if his Wikipedia page has anything to do with it. This mixtape separates him from his group identity and makes you want to get to know him more as a solo artist. Although I’m sure he doesn’t want to completely detach his name from his Das Racist days - after all, the success from it helped to launch his career and helped mould him into the phenomenally chill rapper he is today. Yet in the music industry, there’s always an evolution of artists, whether solo or as a group. For those trying to establish some sort of solo identity after being in a popular group, you’re held to a different standard. And after a while, you want to be known for your individuality, hard work and whatever else you want your music to say.
I’d say that Kool A.D. was successfully able to break away and show his strengths as a solo artists with this mixtape. It’s as if he was trying to tell the world “I’m Kool A.D., and I shit on other rappers, Das Racist or not.” At the same time, it fills the void that Das Racist left in my heart. It just might be better off this way. Every artist needs room for growth, and this was the right path for him to take to hone his own sound.
It’s amazing how much artistic growth SZA (aka Solana Rowe) has managed to do in such a short period of time. She doesn’t seem new to the music game at all, which is ironic for being Ivy League educated in marine biology. I imagine that this natural musical ability didn’t just manifest out of the blue — it had to have come from somewhere. Regardless of where the secret of her talent lies, Z is the perfect compliment to SZA’s growing catalogue of glitter trap greats. It’s sexy, bass-heavy, melodramatic and soulful. Except this time, there are more indie and electronic sounds added to the mix, not that it’s unfitting or anything. She never seems to do anything the same way twice. And this is a good thing — she keeps you on your toes in an elusive pixieish way.
"Sweet November" has Rowe slipping into the guise of an jazz crooner with a modern twist, giving off an old soul vibe over a Marvin Gaye sample. “Childs Play” takes the infamous XXYYXX “About You” sample and pairs it well with a melancholy verse from the usually hype Chance The Rapper. TDE labelmate Kendrick Lamar makes an appearance on “Babylon”, an eerily sexy track as heavy on bass as it is emotion. Even softer sounding cuts like “Julia” and “Warm Winds” are dripping with soul and suffering, adding to her authenticity. You’ll probably never hear a poppy, sunshine-riddled track from SZA; her music is intentionally haunting and brooding, perfect for angsty creative types (like myself). The electronic and indie influences shows up in “Green Mile”, which sounds like an ingenious mixture of Animal Collective and The Cranberries, with a splash of hip-hop. She’s nothing more than completely honest in all of her work, finding an outlet for years of being sheltered growing up in an Orthodox Muslim home. SZA also isn’t afraid to stray away from traditional song-writing patterns, evident in tracks like “Ur”.
Different seems to work for her; you’re always left wondering what she’ll do next. Z is another instalment of a three part series of EPs, appropriately titled S, Z and A. The second instalment is admittedly darker than its predecessor, but this darkness doesn’t always translate to sadness though. If anything, it’s more of an honest look at relationships, emotions and life in a way people often shy away from for fear of seeming cynical. Call it what you want, but it works beautifully for her.
New: How To Dress Well - Repeat Pleasure
It’s only been two years since Total Loss dropped but Tom Krell is already moving on to Album #3. The record, entitled What Is This Heart?, is out June 23rd (or June 24th if you’re in the US), and will feature previously released track “Words I Don’t Remember" and this newie "Repeat Pleasure". Those acoustic guitar strums are straight out of early ’00s R&B, which is a damn good sign.
Twitter Bio of the day: The real life Tony Stark is finally on Twitter, and his account bio is suitably droll. Now, let’s see if we can get him to follow us on there…
When Childish Gambino and Chance The Rapper strolled onto the rap scene, I feel like they started to fill a void in hip-hop that we weren’t even aware was there or needed to be filled. There was something about their brand of high energy, danceable, semi-sung, hood-influenced, somewhat dramatic hip-hop that made you want to listen, despite any of your preconceived notions. Their sound dug its way into your mind, set up shop and kept you hitting repeat for the next week or so. But with those two as the only visible faces for the sound, we were left to wonder — who was next?
The answer has come about in Virginia-based rapper Goldlink. It should’ve come as no surprise to me when my roommate suggested that I listen to him - she’s a rabid fan of both Gambino and Chance. Goldlink is young, charismatic, dramatic and, as Tom Haverford will be pleased to find out, knows how to make a banger. The God Complex is a nine track introduction to the artist that will make you want to dance and move from start to finish. It’s a blend of sounds that finds a little bit of something for everyone, from trap to dance rhythms that’d fit perfectly in clubs, to hip-hop and everything in between (he appropriately refers to this sound as future bounce).
Goldlink is reflective of a restless and reckless generation, while being catchy and energetic; I’d chalk his appeal up to youth and drive. Amidst all of the things that makes him an ideal listen for younger crowds, he incorporates a lot of classic hip-hop, R&B and jazz samples to attract older listeners. He has a good understanding of rhythm and cadence, enabling him to be versatile in his beat selection. The mixtape is less than thirty minutes from start to finish (clocking in at about 26 minutes to be more exact), with none of the tracks making it to the four minute mark. “Bedtime Story” features a sample from fellow Virginia-native Timbaland’s “Drop”, pairing it with a classy jazz sample and an upbeat drum pattern, whilst the skittish electronic sound of “How It’s Done” is reminiscent of Odd Future members The Jet Age of Tomorrow. The slowest points you’ll find are the initial moment on the intro track “Ay Ay” before it transitions, and the closer “When I Die”, which takes an unexpected sober turn as Goldlink talks about all of his last wishes before crashing his car and abruptly ending the mixtape.
Goldlink is captivating, has the ability to draw you in before the first beat drop and overall, more than you’d ever expect. Because of its short length and great consistency, The God Complex is worth listening to the whole way through each time. Production by a few small names (Louie Lastic, Fingalick, JFK Jaylen!, McCallaman, Lakim and Teklun) keeps the mixtape interesting throughout its entirety. The worst I can manage to say about it is that it’s just so damn short - I was almost disappointed when it was over. But all good things always come to an end. The end of the mixtape just meant it was time for me to search for Goldlink’s back catalogue and anxiously await whatever is next.
Game Of Thrones’ fourth season opens with a callback to one of the closing images of Season 1: Eddard Stark’s greatsword, Ice, the one used to decapitate him, being melted down and reworked into two new swords for Tywin Lannister’s son and grandson, scored by the now instantly recognisable “Rains of Castamere” (which over the last year has become the show’s own “Imperial March”). Gone are the days of the Starks of the North, Season 4 is all about the lions of the Lannisters. It’s a testament to Game Of Thrones that on its 31st episode, the title music still sends most fans into a frenzy of excitement.
As I’m sure all of you remember, Season 3 ended with about half of the original cast mutilated, scattered and in some way or another, bashed up. None of them are magically fixed or revived, so you must learn to live with it. While the debut season could been seen as a political thriller, the second season a war drama, and Season 3 was a “behind enemy lines”-type espionage story, Season 4 looks set to be firmly in the mould of “buddy cop” genre, with the duos of Brienne Of Tarth and Jaime Lannister; Arya Stark and The Hound; and to a lesser extent, Tyrion and Bronn. Not to suggest this season’s going to have any of the levity of that brand comedy - far from it - but the dynamic between the aforementioned pairs is much the same - particularly Arya and the Hound, who would look set to be the season’s highlight, if it wasn’t for the major new introduction to the cast.
Oberyn Martell is the first Dornish character to be introduced by name and there’s no doubt that he’ll soon become a fan favourite - with his venomous distaste for Lannisters, his bristling vengeance, not to mention his swift introduction as another queer character in the show alongside Ellaria Sand, his paramour from Dorne.
Episode 1, titled “Two Swords” has firmly surrounded itself with the settling dust from Season 3’s finale, all talk and little action (save for the tense tavern brawl finale). It bodes well, though, with Jaime and Cersei Lannister reunited to trade barbs at one another, Oberyn Martell to soliloquise of future revenge, Daenerys cursorily flirting with the recast Daario Nahaaris and Jon Snow eulogising the late Robb Stark.
Season 4 is looking promising on virtue of this opener, with characters very firmly set on their path for the rest of the season, particularly Arya who looks certain to become an pint-sized agent of vengeance, and Oberyn Martell, whose role in King’s Landing and all-round bad-boy status will be the high point of the series for many. Hopefully.