This blog is back up again and OE is down with it again, so let’s celebrate a little.
It’s a good thing too because their latest album, Band In Amerikkka, is pretty great, easily their most consistent on first listen. It sounds like that album in a band’s when career when they figure out what they’re trying to do. You see different ideas they’ve been messing with before all come together. (I’ve added Dave Maass’s blurb from the CityBeat Great Demo Review into this post).
Check out the visuals above for their second single, “The Omen” with Gonjasufi on the hook. Production by Infinity Gauntlet. You should also do yourself a favor and refresh your memory of their first single, “Welcome“, which is the best song of their career.
I wrote about Mitchy Slick and gang injunctions for CityBeat. Or maybe about gang injunctions and Mitchy Slick. And it’s my first cover story!
Shouts to everyone who helped out. To Mitch for coming to SD instead of me having to meet up with him two hours away in Brawley. To CJ for talking a bit about gang injunctions with me a couple years ago. To all the people I hit up last-minute to fact-check slang, especially those who helped me figure out the real name of 4-5 Park. Shouts to Peter for pushing for the cover.
Charles Mitchell, aka rapper Mitchy Slick, doesn’t exactly feel welcome in his hometown. Despite being San Diego’s most famous rap export, his visit home in April was extremely low-key. He didn’t perform in town. He didn’t announce his arrival. He was only here because he’d performed in Brawley, in Imperial County, the night before. He was just passing through.
Mitchy doesn’t hate San Diego. On the contrary, his music reveals a deep hometown pride. When he meets with CityBeat for an interview at a friend’s condo in Point Loma, he even sports a red-and-white baseball tee with the popular local slang phrase “Yeah Dat!” splattered across his chest.
But Mitchy, who now splits his time between Los Angeles, the Bay Area and other locales, grew up a member of the Lincoln Park Bloods, one of the city’s most notorious gangs. In 1999, the San Diego County District Attorney’s office San Diego City Attorney’s office issued a gang injunction, a measure aimed at curbing gang activity, against a list of purported high-profile LPB members. Mitchy was on the list, and he feels he’s faced police harassment ever since.
“The gang injunction is wack as shit,” Mitchy says. “The police and the powers that be, they know what they’re doing. Not only are they keeping us from doing bad shit—they prevent the ones that’s positive from being able to do good shit.”
Oh shit. I’ve repeated this six or seven times now. The rap game Drew Carey really gets it in. DJ Rybe lays out this bare, understated instrumental. Travisty just puts his verses together real clean.
The title “Black Dolphin” probably refers to what’s supposed to be one of Russia’s toughest prisons. Here, it could be a metaphor for the mental prison that Travisty finds himself trapped in. He bounces around, talking about conspiracy theories before despairing that either he’s too much of a loser to do anything about it or he’s too much of a loser for anyone to believe him. Or maybe both. Either way, you gotta appreciate the detail put into this.
Peace to Bob for putting cool rap shit on his Facebook page and for that tip about Black Dolphin Prison.
Be on the lookout for this week’s edition of CityBeat, which comes out tomorrow. I wrote a story on Mitchy Slick that is like this song in the form of a feature profile. This is one of my favorite Mitchy songs because he gets his politically-charged Ice Cube on here. Despite that, he still does small things that give it his unique character. The way he turns “triv” from a local slang adjective to a verb. The way he slurs “black in the ghetto”. His signature “Klack klack klack klack!” ad-lib. I guess it also doesn’t hurt that he knows how to write a good hook.
Anyway, this comes from Mitchy’s 2005 sophomore album, Urban Survival Syndrome. You can thank Cricet, who produced the track, for the battle-ready tuba and trumpet combination. C-Bo hops on the second track. Because it was the last track on the album, there’s a hidden cut/bonus beat about 4:45 in. Not sure if this is also a Cricet beat but it goes.
Wrote this last week for SoundDiego. Can’t wait for Aki Khalaq & The Soul Prints Blak Prints.
When super left-field experimental producers like Flying Lotus first started buzzing, they were marketing themselves as a “post-Dilla” movement, referring to the late, great producer J Dilla. While I like Flying Lotus and many of his contemporaries, that label always seemed off (and even mildly exploitative). Like yeah, Dilla was great for figuring out cool, wild stuff to do on drum machines and whatnot and those producers took to that. But whatever production tricks he used, he usually retained the warmth of the soul music that he loved with a little bit of humor in the mix too. He made music that sounded both more machine-like and more human at the same time.
Local rapper-producer Aki Kharmicel has exhibited those same qualities in his music lately. Recently, he dropped a video for his song, “NaturalLawOfAttraction,” the second offering from his Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints side project (don’t forget to check out his other video, “Ursmilingface” either).
The song reminds me of the best parts of Dilla’s masterpiece, Donuts. As far as production techniques, he’s got the lo-fi texture and he drops in and cuts off samples in an uniquely Dilla-esque way. But more importantly, he’s got the human element. He “sings” in a wheezing falsetto that could never be mistaken as technically good–and actually it sounds like it’s been altered to be even wheezier than normal. But it’s really playful and charming in a way that would actually succeed at piquing a woman’s interest (you better believe I’m taking notes and you should too!). Then this heavier, screwed-up vocal track will overtake the falsetto every now and then, only adding to the playful spirit with this sort of back-and-forth energy. All of this happens atop a summery sweet bed of tinkling keys and bright strings. The whole thing is just butter.
Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints is the moniker for Aki’s one-man soul group. The project itself is also called NaturalLawOfAttraction. Follow Aki on Soundcloud to keep up with the latest.
This is pandering to the side of me that listens to mid-90s indie stuff like Siah & Yeshua DaPoed. I’m guessing from the title that the instrumental is Dizzy Gillespie?
Anyway, the video’s like a year old. This was from RJW’s JahFather of SoulCal, which is like a year and a half old. If you haven’t heard it yet, I recommend bumping it on a Sunday afternoon and kicking back.
Respect to anyone who has enough courage to bleed on a track. I like how the beat, produced by DeeJay, fits so well. On the one hand, it emulates the drug-induced trance of Karma’s drank of choice. On the other, there’s this sadness or darkness or menace or something in it that reflects Karma’s pained life observations. Maybe Karma could become a Z-Ro or Starlito type of rapper. I mean, not that I’d wish that on him since Z-Ro and Starlito usually seem pretty depressed. But hey, on the upside, if you make depressing art that someone likes, you’re probably helping ease their burden, word to James Baldwin.
I think this is on Bad Karma’s Paradise Thrills album, which is available somewhere. I just gotta figure out where.
Bam Circa 86 steps up the flow on a breezy but lavish beat that Currensy probably would’ve liked to have. He also gets in a good Naruto joke, though he shouldn’t be fronting on Naruto. There are some cool ass ninja fights to be had there.
“Superloaded” comes from Bam’s last release, V.S.O.P. (Versez Sans Oublier Personne), which translates from French as “pour without forgetting anyone.” Produced by One Love. Video by the homie from NBC, Eric Casas. His company, VSLSTS, puts out high quality videos, get at him.
Here’s another piece I picked up with that Kutfather joint. This early collaboration between Blame One and Exile dropped on the Graffiti Kings EP back in 2002 on American Music Corporation, funky alternate name-spelling and all. The promo sticker on the cover touts this EP as a “first of its kind hiphop/graffiti lifestyle album”, which seems like a stretch since I figure a lot of mid-80s hip-hop albums could probably soundtrack the graffiti lifestyle pretty well. And man, I hate the term lifestyle because it basically means you’re just being exploited as part of a market segment.
As for the song itself, Exile/Eksyle lays down this string-laden beat that’s all tension, sounding like a hurried chase (the label lists BPM’s for all songs, which is so god-like; this one’s at a speedy 100.5 BPM). Blame (One) details his own past as a graf writer before he became a rap writer and why he eventually hung up his fat cap.
The Graffiti Kings EP would later give way to the Graffiti Kings LP, which looks a lot more like a Project Blowed compilation than the EP does, judging by the tracklist. By the LP release, the “Eksyle / Blame” credit turned into “Blamexile”. The rest of the EP is kinda forgettable, except for this hypnotic Awol One song.