Epsom – Vulture Talk

Article by Chuck Trash

When creative pioneers first introduced the synthesizer to the world of popular music, the entire idea of the sound they were creating was heavily rooted in strict compositions, not totally unlike minimal classical music. The idea of having to be musically trained in order to create any type of music has long since been abandoned with so many improvements in the world of technology. Although the world of electronic music has been flooded with cliché melodies and over the top live performances, there are still a handful of extremely talented artists who still make music with the intention that people will pay close attention and fully appreciate the full scope and nuances of the product.

Epsom, a Los Angeles based electronic artist, has undoubtedly mastered the fusing of minimal classical compositions with the sounds of a hard-hitting synthesizer. On his new LP, “Vulture Talk”, Epsom is breaking down all sorts of musical boundaries, creating an atmosphere that is necessary to experience multiple times in order to recognize the enormous weight and depth of this project. At times, these complex and wonderfully written compositions are lined with minimal drums, but never to an inappropriate or unnecessary extent. The drumming instead creates a proper companion to his electric soundscapes. There are heavy echoes of classic drum n’ bass drum patterns across some of the tracks on this record, further adding to the assumption that Epsom has likely studied music in depth and is utilizing his knowledge of the past to create a modern amalgamation of a variety of genres.

On one of the stand out tracks, “Ferragamo,”  Epsom toys with his MIDI, creating a surface melody that sounds like a successful drum n’ bass banger. In a matter of seconds, he fades out the lead synth and drum track into a captivating but minimal synth progression, one that sounds as though it was pulled from an early 2000’s video game soundtrack. Towards the end of the track, he really brings both sides of the possibility spectrum full circle, transitioning into an exhilarating and fast-paced finale with harsh, somewhat ambient noise. The song last about four minutes or so and it pairs well with the way the album begins. The project wouldn’t quite have the same effect without the subtle melody changes near the halfway marks.

At times, Epsom sounds as though he was heavily influenced by another Los Angeles great, Flying Lotus. To build on those early Flylo “Los Angeles/1983” roots, there are portions of this record that sound like they wouldn’t exist without significant electronic pieces by German groups like NEU! & Kraftwerk. Blank Body’s influence cannot be taken for granted either. The project is really complex, and more than anything, it positively reinforces one of the more artistic directions that electronic music has taken over the past four or five decades. Not only is Epsom making catchy, smart and puzzling pieces of work, he’s talented and not afraid to utilize that talent in his music.

Smino – blkswn

Article by Chuck Trash

It can’t be easy being Smino. He first hailed from the St. Louis and moved to Chicago a few years ago to pursue a rap career in what was quickly becoming a hot bed for new music, especially rap and R&B. In almost no time at all, his Zero Fatigue crew started picking up some serious recognition, complete with a feature in Pitchfork’s rising artist series. Keep in mind, all of this hype surrounding his fresh career was based off only a few massive singles, a smattering of EPs, and a couple of feature verses like the one on Noname’s “Shadow Man”. With all of that pressure, it must have been tough to finally release a full-length LP, especially one that spans over 18 tracks and clocks in at just over one hour in length.

Smino turned all of this pressure into musical gems, creating one of the most exciting local record debuts in years. It will likely go down in the history books with projects such as Noname’s “Telefone”, Mick Jenkin’s “The Water[s]”, and  Chance’s “Acid Rap” though he is a St. Louis rapper through-and-through. Smino completely exceeded the expectations of me and many other hack music journalists, it’s amazing. In creating a completely unique sound and then shaping, wielding, and progressing that signature drawl on every track, Smino and his team, have turned each song into a unique listening experience. With this nearly flawless LP, he has delivered an extremely cohesive debut project, despite the fact that each track sounds completely different. The album has great sense of movement, in the literary world it would be considered a page-turner. 

The first thing to keep in mind about this record is that it is long. Although there is an overwhelming  amount of content to digest, take note that every song is jam-packed with substance. Being that there is so much going on throughout this record, it is going to take even the most experienced listener at least several listens to fully appreciate everything going on here. Not unlike some of the current kings of rap, i.e. Kendrick Lamar, Smino has a way with words that truly astounds listeners. Most of the punchlines heard on these tracks are worth rewinding, as they actually push beyond the clever double entendre into many-layered realms of meaning.

Smino has an endless supply of delivery methods, excelling in sing-song formats and in sporadic stanza. Lyrically, the things he says are so nuanced, it’s easy to miss what he says because the non-lyrical aspect of the music is so well-crafted. The production on the record is so consistent to the point that each track flows into the next, creating a ephemeral atmosphere of positive energy behind his effective vocabulary. This is one of those records where it is more difficult to figure out its flaws than it is to point out what the artist did right.

On the final track “Amphetamine” is perhaps some of the strongest work on an already phenomenal record. It begins with Smino questioning his place in life and where his career is headed, it rapidly changes halfway through into a mean lyrical piece, featuring verses from Noname, Zero Fatigue member Bari, and Jean Deaux, all of whom compliment each other generously. This song is not only one of the most ebullient tracks on the project, but also the perfect way to close “blkswn”. It begins with a reflection of Smino’s identity and ends with him flexing with his friends, a beautiful dichotomy. It’s impossible to classify this song as a touch-n-go buddy rap track, or a deeper intellectual rap song—because that’s the thing about Smi, he covers all of the bases.

Buy the album now on iTunes and come see Smino on April 26th at The Bottom Lounge in Chicago.

Supa Bwe – Melodies (Prod. LukeAlmighty)

As fans wait for his highly anticipated project Finally Dead dropping July 4th, Supa Bwe released a new song to hold his fans over until then. Melodies is a song produced by Luke Almighty on which Supa is talks about how he doesn’t want the money he’s getting to change anyone around him and that he is currently living for himself. Check out this song because Supa is only going to keep it up for 24 hours so listen to Melodies above and hopefully Supa will keep it up.

Qari – Love is Going to Find u (Prod. By friends)


Qari has been releasing his most intimate and most influential songs as of late. And this song is definitely something that I needed right now. Love is Going to Find u produced by friends. This just proves that Qari can adapt and do anything. He performed this and many of his other hits on his soundcloud at his performance at SOHO house this past Monday night. Listen to this song and know Love is Going to Find u. Thanks Qari.

 

Playboi Carti – Woke Up Like This (feat. Lil Uzi Vert) (Prod. Pierrebourne)

Playboi Carti finally blesses all of his fans with another new track, Woke Up Like This featuring Lil Uzi Vert and produced by Pierrebourne. Just a hour before Carti dropped another song featuring Uzi. The Instrumental and the amazing chemistry that Carti and Uzi share together just makes this a song that can be played over and over again. No release date for Carti’s debut tape but keep a look out for that and listen to this hit above.

Existential Little Interviews, Vol. 70: ashley ray

ashley ray is a freelance writer with bylines in Vice, The AV Club, and Autostraddle. You can check out her personal website right here.

Is your existence as compared to your nonexistence something which can be justified?

No. My constant struggle involves wondering if everything would be better if I didn’t exist at all. The best we can come to justifying our existence is in the community of others. I know that if I ceased to exist in this moment, my friends would be sad. Of course, if I had never been born in the first place, they’d be absolutely ok in that alternate reality. But, all I have is the reality I’m in now and the people who currently surround me and I think they’re all pretty happy that I exist. I hold on to that feeling.

How do you manage ennui?

Self-destruct. Start over. Burn it all down. I find something in my life and I end it. Relationships, habits, hobbies, jobs, whatever––it doesn’t hurt when everything is ephemeral. I guess destruction is a pretty big response to the ephemerality of ennui, but I’m a Sagittarian and I literally hate boredom more than stubbing my toe. Force yourself to end something and it’ll usually make you start something. My favorite Adventure Time quote is when Finn is freaking out after a break-up. He’s bored and stuck in the house because of a sword storm and Jake is just like, “You’re getting all hung up on imaginary problems. You gotta focus on what’s real, man. You see this cup? This is literally my favorite cup. Now it’s gone forever. So it’s not real, and I don’t care about it anymore.” I just always forget about the part at the end of the episode when he’s desperately trying to get his cup back.

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How do you make earnest connection in a world of instant gratification?

I’m incredibly selective with the people I choose to form deep connections with in the world. It took me a long time to learn that even delayed gratification can lack depth and the best chance we have of honestly connecting with someone is by being honest about what we want when we want it. I am also perpetually single and I’ve scared away nearly every person I’ve dated and a few friends by doing this, so I don’t know if I’d recommend it. idk, maybe just be chill?

Do you think trends are accelerating faster than ever?

Yes and no. I think we’re just regurgitating things faster than ever. Trends are never new, but right now we have the ability to discover our parents’ generation’s old outfits and music at a rate never seen before. We have access to almost every trend that has happened in human history. I hope we work our way through as many of them as we can before trump blows this whole thing up cuz I’m out here knowing I could pull off high-waisted bloomers.

What gives you the right?

Absolutely nothing.

(ardiac


Cardiac has been making music for about four years now. I chatted a little with him while discussing the premiere of his new track. You can peep the track above and the interview below.

How is your music-making practice now as compared to when you first started out? What progression have you seen in yourself? 

I would say I’m a lot more serious about it now than I was when i first started. So I practice and write a lot more now. As far as progress, it’s crazy to see how far a dream can go for anyone. Like I was just a kid that wanted to rap, so rapped. Now it’s cool to see people listen.

What kinda people influenced you growing up?

People that changed the world. JFK, Kanye, MLK, Bill Gates, and other people like that.

how do you want to affect change through your music?

I wanna show people I’m someone who really wants to relates to them. I wanna feel how they feel, and with my music hopefully they can feel how I feel.

Got any big projects coming out?

Yes, I’m releasing my 1st LP “1%” on April 19th. *Sunglasses Emoji*.

So the title “1%” alludes to how I felt starting this project. I had just gotten out off of five years in the Navy. Everything was new and my knowledge of civilian life was kinda low. It was like I was alienated and functioning on 1%, and as the project progressed from it’s beginning in October — I feel like I’ve been learning new things and experiencing more. Which has been rejuvinating me. I’m at about 85% right now (laughs).