It defies possibility that after nearly 25 solid years in the music industry and legendary status, this solo project is Black Thought’s first. The five-track EP clocks in at just 17 minutes and features guest appearances from Rapsody, Styles P, and KIRBY, and is produced entirely by 9th Wonder and The Soul Council. True to the title, he only offers streams of verses that cover politics, history, his own legendary lyrical status and whatever else comes to mind. He doesn’t offer any choruses or hooks either which leaves the focus on Black Thought’s words.
Black Thought spoke with NPR about why he prolonged a solo release in favor of working on music through the Roots.
“It’s always been about the greater good of our organization for me,” the rapper said. “All those solo efforts that I’ve announced, it breathes new life into the awareness of me as an artist. The Roots brand always has to be maintained, and we’re just at a place now where prime-time TV affords us a different sort of visibility and I’m able to kind of take a step back and focus on some of the other creative energy that I still need to get out. None of this is my solo album. It’s just a chance to see me in a different light doing a different thing.”
Check out the tracklist below.
Streams of Thought Vol. 1 tracklist
2. 9th vs. Thought
3. Dostoyevsky (feat. Rapsody)
4. Making a Murderer (feat. Styles P)
5. Thank You (feat. KIRBY)
Finally, a sequel to the legendary African Scream Contest in 2008. Samy Ben Redjeb, who owns the Analog Africa record label, has done another fabulous job in licensing these cuts. The album compiles vintage Sixties-Seventies Afropop from Benin and Togo – a melting pot of styles mirroring Fela Kuti-style Afrobeat from the east, Nigerian juju and jazzy Ghanian highlife from the west, plus American English funk and rock. The music is propulsive and effervescent with the occasional joyous scream. Not to mention the precise, anthropological detective story of the album’s curation is detailed in a beautifully illustrated booklet/insert which makes buying the music old-fashioned way very worth it.
The Los Angeles glam-power-synth-pop outfit, Kitten, released their debut album back in 2014. Now, four years and a new lineup later, they’re getting ready to release a new EP, Pink Champagne. The band is still fronted by the charismatic Chloe Chaidez who sparkles on this album, Kitten has revamping their synth-soaked sound with a force that’s been percolating since their first full-length album. “I Did It!” is energetic while “Abigail” is slow-dance-ready and “Strange Embrace” is a smoky ballad.
The Richmond, Virginia-born soul-pop singer, Natalie Prass’s second album draws on funk, disco, and R&B influences to promote strength in unity. Prass has evolved from the delicate strings that made her indie famous in favor of funk, disco and R&B which no doubt is one of 2018’s minor masterpieces, which you can most certainly dance to.
Veteran Neko Case’s vocal cords and singing voice remain what she is best known for, but on her 7th full-length solo album, both lyrics and vocal arrangements, set up and LP that is well-stocked with catchy tunes with a side of simmering rage. Among its 11 tracks are some of the poppiest arrangements of Case’s career, a few labyrinthine slow-burners and a couple of songs that serve as reminders of her distinctive style. Beth Ditto, k.d. lang, Eric Bachmann, Laura Viers and others reinforce the key point: No instrument is more powerful than the human voice.
Father John Misty aka Josh Tillman’s fourth album under the Father John Misty moniker sounds shockingly simplistic and minimal. This back to the effort was made and conceived over 2 months in a New York City hotel room. Father John Misty’s soft-rock sound remains; however, the music seems a bit solemn reflecting a darker mood.
Jon Hopkins, an acclaimed electronic producer and composer, helped pave a road forward for entire generations of EDM superstars. Singularity is his first album in five years and it feels a little bolder, bigger and brighter than his 2013 breakthrough Immunity, but it’s still weird. The album is a concoction of the harsh beats of tech house with the collaboration of Brian Eno.
The feminist, honest Chicago rocker. Liz Phair revisits her 25-year-old debut ‘Exile In Guyville’ with a box set that includes a remastered version of the album. However, the real excitement is the official version of the cassettes Phair recorded as Girly-Sound, which include early versions of tracks from ‘Guyville’ and its 1994 follow-up ‘Whip-Smart.’ Girly-Sound is the name under which singer-songwriter Liz Phair recorded several self-produced cassettes in 1991. The cassettes were later made available as bootlegs and some tracks have been officially released.
The Mississippi duo, Rae Sremmurd, this three album opus dropped this week is no doubt a nod to Outkast’s groundbreaking Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Set one, which the pair recorded together, replicates the mellow chilled out sounds of their impressive SremmLife 2, but with a bit less success, although tracks like “Buckets” confirm that they’re one of the best young writers in writing hooks that you’ll want to hit repeat a few hundred times. The real prize here is the second disc, Swae Lee’s Swaecation, which finds him flowing with the tropical-pop voice he developed on French Montana’s “Unforgettable” and Jhene Aiko’s “Sativa.” “Winter’s over, let the sun in,” Swae sings on the song-of-the-summer contender “Lost Angels,” while on the standout “Heartbreak in Encino Hills,” producers Mally Mall and Scorp Dezel layer gauzy steel guitars as he gets super deep with his feelings. Meanwhile, Swae’s brother Slim Jxmmi showcases his style on Jxmtro, which offers trap flow (“I’m gonna fuck with the strippers tonight,” he crows on “Players Club”) for the Miami’s set.
The soul singer’s second album is reaching for a future sound that connects his own 60s aesthetic and the sweeping history of RnB music with the present moment.” The album includes a makeup sex ballad dubbed ‘Mrs.’ as well as, an autobiographical narrative ‘Georgia to Texas’ (Bridges’ second tribute to his mom, the first on this album) show how expansive, eclectic and unique Leon Bridges can be.”
‘KOD’ – the North Carolina rapper’s fifth studio album and he is not holding back while he tackles themes like drugs, demons and addiction for the majority of its 12 tracks. Cole is acutely keen to caution his fans, rap peers and society in general about this delicate and deadly serious set of topics. He’s already delivered three separate definitions for its acronymic title – Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed, Kill Our Demons – no one could possibly have a doubt about this projects and artists current hyperfocus.
This decade Cole has emerged as one of the US’s finest rappers this decade. He’s an extraordinarily confident and forthright lyricist with an amazing ear for a hook, a gutsy ability to address difficult subjects and the keen ability to weave compelling stories through his music. Cole creates what he and his many, many fans (including Barack Obama) refer to as his ‘Cole World’. After his guest-heavy 2013 album ‘Born Sinner’, Cole pared down Cole World by releasing the follow-up ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ without any guest vocalists at all. Clearly, his formula worked: that album is still his biggest-selling album to date, while it broke streaming records (just as he’s done once again with ‘KOD’), elevated his superstar status. That album has since gone two-times platinum, and the arrival of ‘KOD’ has been widely expected to continue his hot streak.
Before the release of her new album Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe had a habit of saying in five words what she could have said in one. “Q. U. E. E. N.” apparently stood for “Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicated, Negroid,” but in a Rolling Stone cover story published last week—in which the 32-year-old identified herself as pansexual (or perhaps more clearly, a “free-ass motherfucker”)—she admitted that the working title of the song was “Q.U.E.E.R.” If you listen closely, noted the writer Brittany Spanos, “you can still hear the word on the track’s background harmonies.” I’d never honestly noticed it before, but listening to the song now, I can’t unhear it, any of it—that whispered declaration, the support of the gorgeous voices of the backing vocalists that sing it together in the solidarity of harmony and the pain of the late compromise to change it to a more benign word and attempting to try and scrub the song clean.
Midway through “I Like That,” the 10th song on the revealing Dirty Computer, the curtains part and Monáe steps out and delivers a soliloquy type verse that cuts a direct course, like an arrow into your heart.
I remember when you called me weird We was in math class, third row I was sitting by you Right before Mr. Ammond’s class Cuz my mama couldn’t afford new J’s, Polo Thrift-store thrift clothes, that was all I knew Do you remember? I remember when you laughed when I cut my perm off And you rated me a 6 I was like, damn But even back then, with the tears in my eyes I always knew I was the shit
There is another piercing verse at the end of the second track “Crazy, Classsic, Life,” which finds Monae charting the diverging paths of two young carefree Americans, one a back girl and one a “white boy in his sandals.” “Me and you was friends, but to them, we the opposite,” she raps. “The same mistake, I’m in jail, you on top of shit / You living life while I’m walking around moppin’ shit / Tech kid, backpack, no, you a college kid.” That is the true triumph of Dirty Computer and Janelle Monae herself at this point. A crazy ability to spin vivid personal stories into looming structural critiques of American society. If it were an easy feat, plenty more people would be doing it right now. No doubt she learned some of this from her mentor Prince who helped her with this record yet never got to hear the final cut since he passed away 2 years ago.
Let us not forget to mention Janelle Monáe today not only released her album Dirty Computer but its accompanying 48-minute long-form visual movie, which she’s very smartly dubbed an ‘Emotion Picture.’ The film is packed full of visuals we’ve seen before, along with tracks from the album and some new treats (Monáe’s many outfit changes are one of the many highlights). It’s threaded through with a narrative comparable to anything you will see in a movie theatre, telling the story of “a young woman named Jane 57821 who is living in a totalitarian near-future society where citizens are referred to as ‘computers.'”
This inventive ’emotion picture’ and its flawless execution; as well as, the fascinatingly varied sounds of the Dirty Computer soundtrack…It all cements Janelle Monáe’s position as one of the global music industry’s leading innovators. After this moment it is hard to see Monae as anything other than an iconic visionary, who is able to blend several genres to execute a sound and visual aesthetic that are distinctly and clearly recognizable as hers. Some have called her a legend in the making, but after Dirty Computer, in both film and album form, proves that Janelle Monáe is already seriously close to the GOAT level.
Dirty Computer – an emotion picture (narrative film and accompanying musical album)
Gate 13 is here to make every stoner’s paradise much more enjoyable. Gate 13 is an album sprawling with so many genres, unexpected sounds, and super aggressive bars that it feels like it is a universe of its own. Their first-ever joint album is probably the opposite of what today’s average millennial rap fan expects. After collaborating with Del on his Radiohead Raindays Remixes album in 2011, Amp knew he had to team up with him again for another project. But what started out as an EP quickly evolved into a top-notch album that flaunts their clear musical chemistry.
“We both have unique tastes in music,” Amp says. “That’s why we fit so well together. We can talk about all kinds of stuff. We can talk about punk, the real hood and grimy, and even jazz stuff. When you get two people together with eclectic tastes, you can come up with all kinds of stuff, which can either cause problems or make things go phenomenal.”
As Amp steers listeners through every clever sample and knockout transition, Del leads the way with a sort of battle rap-esque rhymes, flows and punchlines. “I watch battle rap all the time because it’s pretty much the only place that I can get that real street hip-hop feel,” Del says. “Everything else is pretty much diluted for the most part. But through that, I discovered that [a lot of battle rap] is basically comedy or humor writing, and 50 percent of it is wordplay.”
After a vibrant introduction gets us hooked, Del jumps effortlessly from a hypish EDM-based loop to a smooth island-inspired melody in Gate 13’s lead single “Wheel Of Fortune” before continuing on through trippy interludes like “Fly Away” and “Funkrolla 3.0.” Although the genre of each instrumental switches up literally every minute, the Gorillaz collaborator battles and then controls every complex beat he comes across.
“At first I was kind of mad,” Del replies. “I was like, ‘Why did you get rid of the beat?’ The rap came from that original beat. The beat was so crazy that I was like ‘What the fuck? What’s wrong?’ But I was just being biased about what it was before and not being more open-minded. After I got over that, I had to step back and be like ‘Nah, I see what you’re doing.”‘
Despite the melting pot of outlandish sounds, Del often comes across as completely comfortable and totally in his element. Songs like “Sit Ya Ass Down” and “Gravy Train” allow him to deliver his trademark slick bars about fending off haters trying to ride his wave. On the standout “Far Beyond,” Del and Zyme glide over unique drum pattern and funky guitar loop as Goapele blesses the chorus with her angelic voice.
As the album nears the end, the songs only get more off-the-wall. Del vents some obvious frustrations on a dubstep-inspired, funky, cut “Get Some of Dis,” while the closing track “Lateral Thinking” is an abnormal cacophony of trap-like melodies, saxophone riffs and random synths. “I wanted to do things more raw and add the live musician elements because when we do shows and stuff, it would be tight to bring that to life on stage,” Amp says. “I never really seen Del in that type of setting.”
Soon he will: Del and Amp plan to take their eclectic odyssey to major cities across the nation this fall.
“I don’t think I see myself as a political artist, I see myself as an emotional artist,” Salami said. “I think that’s what’s missing. There’s not enough people who are really, really emotionally affected to the point where it could come out in their work. They’re emotionally affected in a way that they can’t process it … to be able to make art out of it … There’s just so much nuance to issues.”
L.ASalami’s newest album, “The City Of Bootmakers,” edges slightly out of the folk territory and more into rock, with flourishes of organ coloring the soundscape, and peppy beats giving a buoyancy to his garrulous lines. Because of, or quite possibly in spite of, the kaleidoscope of these songs, Salami advises listeners to take on the new record with space to find their clarity, or just enjoy them.
“I think people should listen to my music as they’re lying down to go to bed, it probably should be headphones,” Salami said. “But if you don’t wanna risk ear damage, listen to it on the stereo I guess.”
In the course of their career spanning 17 years, 15 albums and countless tours and live performances around the globe, British four-piece The New Mastersounds have carved out a unique space for themselves as world-class purveyors of contemporary jazz-funk. Their particular blend of mostly instrumental, guitar-driven funk and grooves has developed throughout the years to include a rich tapestry of textures that finds their full expression in latest full-length and eleventh studio album “Renewable Energy”.
Recorded in two separate sessions, one in New Orleans and the other in Denver a few months later, “Renewable Energy” expands on The New Mastersounds template while still providing plenty of the band’s trademark sounds. Guitarist Eddie Roberts, drummer Simon Allen, bassist Pete Shand and keyboardist Joe Tatton are joined on this 11-track effort by a number of guests: Sam Bell, one of the founding members of NMS precursor The Mastersounds who also guested on two previous NMS albums plays percussion on most of the tracks. Mike Olmos and Joe Cohen of West Coast Horns once again provide added horn action as they did on “Made For Pleasure” from 2015, while Adryon de León from LA band Orgone contributes vocals on “Gonna Be Just Me”. Uptempo numbers “Tantalus” and “Yokacoka” see the band flexing their playing chops over a tightly-wound rhythm, while “Green Was Beautiful” and “Groovin On The Groomers” are toe-tapping slabs of soul jazz. The band’s cover of James Gang’s “Funk 49” takes the album in a fuzzed-out psych-rock direction with Eddie singing the lead, while the moody Hancock-esque inflections of “Stash” and the sweet mellow vibes of “Swimming With My Fishes” add the final brushtrokes of color to the canvas.
After almost two decades of activity it’s obvious The New Mastersounds are in no shortage of fuel, indeed they appear to have found the formula with which to stay relevant and fresh, running on “Renewable Energy”.
Video teaser for new album
Video for track off new album “Tantalus” by The New Mastersounds
Video for track off new album “Green Was Beautiful” by The New Mastersounds
Video for track off new album “Stash” by The New Mastersounds
ROBERT GLASPER X KAYTRANADA “The Artscience Remixes”
Just a few weeks back Kaytranada made the exciting announcement he’d be sharing a new EP remixing Robert Glasper’sThe Artscience EP. The project is here and in full effect! We couldn’t be more excited to have some new music from one of our favorite artists. Robert Glasper is a legendary pianist who has worked with artists like new Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller,Anderson .Paak, Banks, Q-Tip and more.
The offering comes as a celebration of today’s Record Store Day and places Kaytra’s smooth production touch on Glasper’s jazzy, laidback project. Stream the album below and enjoy!
Two new Elton John tribute LPs arrive this week: “Revamp” featuring pop and rock-oriented artists & “Restoration” composed of country-style covers. Both are streaming via Apple Music and Spotify.
“Revamp” finds pop and rock-oriented artists tackling the piano legend. Elton himself curated all of Revamp, which features Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, Coldplay, Q Tip with Demi Lovato, The Killers, and Queens of the Stone Age. There are also contributions from Mary J. Blige, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Pink and Logic, Sam Smith, and Alessia Cara.
“It’s always a huge compliment when an artist loves your song enough to take the time and effort to rework it,” John said in a press release. “As songwriters, Bernie and myself are thrilled when singers we admire and respect as much as those on Revamp and Restoration choose to add their own unique twist in the process. It means that our music is still relevant and ultimately that our songs continue to reach new audiences. We’re humbled and thank them all for their generosity.”
Both records come ahead of John’s lengthy 300 stop farewell tour.”Farewell Yellow Brick Road” will run until 2021 and include stops in nearly every continent. In addition to the releases, a tribute concert dubbed Elton John: I’m Still Standing A Grammy Salute is set to air April 10th at 9:00-11:00 ET/PT on CBS. Many of the album’s guests — including Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Lambert, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and Cara — will also be part of the live performance. John Legend, Kesha, Shawn Mendes, and SZA are also expected to make appearances.