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by PopMatters Staff

5 May 2016


Emmanuel Elone: “California Love” is what you get when you mix one of the greatest West Coast rappers with West Coast’s greatest producer, and then bring in funk legend Roger Troutman for safe measure. On this single for his double album All Eyez on Me, 2Pac’s verse is an ode to the state that raised him, the same one that gave rise to NWA and the G-Funk hip-hop that Dr. Dre both created and mastered. Twenty years later, Kendrick Lamar, who actually was at the shooting for the “California Love” music video as an infant, continues to carry the West Coast torch that refuses to die out. On “m.A.A.d. City”, Kendrick raps about his life in Compton (particularly Rosecrans) and how he almost died when he smoked his first blunt that was laced with Angel Dust. It’s similar to much of 2Pac’s catalog, with a social message that’s carried through a gritty, G-Funk banger. Like 2Pac did in his heyday, Kendrick Lamar is revitalizing and evolving West Coast hip-hop, and one can only wish that 2Pac were still alive to see it all unfold as it has. [10/10]

by PopMatters Staff

5 May 2016


Emmanuel Elone: When “Only You” started, I didn’t think that I was going to like it. The rattling hi hats were bland, and it felt like this song would just be another boring trap beat. I couldn’t have been more wrong. An epic horn section (the same ones on Vic Mensa’s “U Mad”) comes in, and then a vocal sample begins to weave its way around the banging production. Neither are gaudy, but both are tasteful, with enough musical twists and turns to make such a large scale trap instrumental flavorful throughout the whole song. However, while it’s good to talk about a song’s elements, “Only You” needs to be listened to in order to understand it fully. It slaps in the best way possible, and is one of the few songs that showcases trap music’s true potential. [9/10]

by PopMatters Staff

5 May 2016


Photo: Ana Pinto Lorez

Multi-cultural Brooklyn band Butcher Knives cooks up an eclectic genre stew of punk energy with band members from places like Morocco, Israel, Colombia, New York, and New Orleans. Their sound will thrill fans of Gogol Bordello and the Clash as they blend Eastern European music with punk, rockabilly, and psychobilly into a sound they like to call “gypsybilly”. Butcher Knives’ latest video celebrates the immigrant experience. They tell PopMatters that “‘American Dream’ is not only the story of a day in the life of the everyday immigrant, but a story of the dissolving ‘American Dream’ ideals on which this country was once based on.” Butcher Knives’ sound is irresistible with the swirling accordions, the blend of cultures and the raw, passionate energy of the music.

by PopMatters Staff

5 May 2016


Chris Ingalls: Xiu Xiu bring their characteristic experimental noise to a Twin Peaks soundtrack tribute. As expected, a weird band paying tribute to a weird director works pretty well. Everything is pretty laid-back and ambient until the noise factor grows and about two-thirds into this epic, it actually becomes melodic, in a shoegazey kind of way. It’s definitely something you need to be in the mood for, but they do a nice job. [7/10]

by PopMatters Staff

4 May 2016


Chris Ingalls: A collaboration between these three terrific singers (Neko, k.d., Laura) is sure to please a respectable swath of music fans. Everyone wins. The song is extremely well-crafted, sounding like some classic from the minds of Jimmy Webb or Bacharach/David. All three are in fine voice, and Lang in particular sounds as good as ever. [9/10]

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