Cut Chemist – Work My Mind (feat. Chali 2na & Hymnal)
Friday’s release of “Work My Mind” was accompanied by a release date for the first major release from Cut Chemist in 12 years, “Die Cut.” Cut Chemist is a hip-hop producer who was a founding member of California group, Jurassic 5, frequent collaborator with sampling legend DJ Shadow and producer for latino hip-hop/jazz group Ozomantli. “Work My Mind” feels like a perfect synthesis of the two early stages of the producer’s career. The upbeat, “positive tip” (a name for the more uplifting and less violent lyrics of early 90s California groups like Jurassic 5) feel is undeniably present and the Chali 2na delivery works perfect over this energy. Although the DJ Shadow influence of heavy sampling seems to be fading a bit here, the jumpy and unexpected synth notes sound like a DJ Shadow song, where the listener has no idea what noise is going to come next and all instruments are fair game. The upcoming album “Die Cut” is expected March 2. Because of the long wait until the album and Cut Chemist’s recent inactivity, I expect a lot of singles to be coming out between now and March. If anyone is interested in looking further into Cut Chemist, I recommend the Jurassic 5 album “Power in Numbers.”
Bon Iver – Coming Down
This cover of an Anais Mitchell song has been out on YouTube since 2012, but was just released to streaming services as Bon Iver is promoting its tour. In a catalogue of heartbreaking songs, “Coming Down” sticks out as an especially gut-wrenching one. A piano line out of the heavens is at the center of this song and Justin Vernon’s broken vocals share time with a saxophone solo that equals the singer’s heavy emotional weight. Vernon has mastered the log cabin brass sound, which are strange bedfellows, but he seems to make it work on songs like “For Emma” and again here with “Coming Down.”
Yumi Zouma – Half Hour
This came out of nowhere. It is safe to say that this is the first Yumi Zouma song I have ever heard and what an introduction it was. “Willowbank,” the new album from the New Zealand band, is full of these sparse, ethereal tracks and I am obsessed with their sound. The group sounds like a more pop-friendly version of The XX. Yumi Zouma is a very safe bet for anyone looking for a new indiepop group to check out.
Antwon – What I Do (prod. KAYTRANADA)
KAYTRANADA is my favorite producer currently making music and Antwon sounds like 2009 Kid Cudi on this hook, so I think this song was created in a government lab for me to enjoy. KAYTRANADA is a Canadian electronic/hip-hop producer whose most recent album was 2015’s “99.9%.” That album is unbelievable, but recently he has been producing for less popular rappers who are on the rise. On “What I Do,” the guitar sample at the heart of the song is fantastic and KAY fills the beat with a scatterbrained bassline that is a deviation from anything the producer has done recently. Antwon on this hook is going full Kid Cudi. I am beginning to think Kid Cudi is the most influential rapper of the 2008-2011 period. I am aware of how specific that time period is and how little historical context we have, only being in 2017, but deviations of his singing style and drug-fueled delivery are everywhere these days. Travis Scott, a fellow Kanye disciple, has said that Kid Cudi is a major influence on him and songs like “Drugs You Should Try It” are clear examples of this influence. Antwon taps into the Cudisphere here with fantastic results. I really hope the hook on “What I Do” is not a sample of a Kid Cudi song and I end up looking like a fool, but for now let us all believe it is Antwon singing. While I am here, if any reader is interested by the KAYTRANADA beat you should check out the craziest chopping up of a sample in recorded history with KAY’s “Lite Spots.”
U.S. Girls – Mad As Hell
“Mad As Hell” is very Blondie-sounding and very 80s. I feel like Tony Montana sitting in the nightclub with a million mirrors from Scarface when I listen to this song. I feel like the club owner renovated a fun house and was left with like 100 extra mirrors and just kept them on the walls.
Trippie Redd – Hellboy
Trippie Redd undeniably sounds like Lil Uzi Vert but that is going to become a lazy comparison in the coming years as “crooning rap” has emerged as a mainstream force. With the success of Young Thug, Future (crooning in many, but not all, songs) and Lil Uzi there will be an increase in the sad-singing rap sound and, hopefully, not every rapper gets labeled as Lil Uzi 2.0. Trippie Redd’s hook on here is very catchy and that is all I am asking from him with this song.
Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.