Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Thursday, Oct 17, 2013
Downtempo maven Vanessa Daou offers a sampling from her upcoming release.

A New York Times review of Chinese writer Can Xue’s work asserted that reading the author’s fiction is like “running downhill in the dark; you’ve got momentum, but you don’t know where you’re headed.”  Such a sentiment could be said of Vanessa Daou’s newest work; much of her recent explorations with club culture incite the chancy, dangerous thrill of experiment. Daou has already made a name for herself with her astonishing mix of spoken word and electronic beats on her six previous albums. Her voice, an eerie, peculiar sigh which brings a yielding and sensual warmth to her sultry grooves, is equally noted for its unbridled femininity. 


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Thursday, Aug 29, 2013
Italian rapper Luche ratchets up the dread on the martial beats of "Chi Non Dimentica".

Ominous military snares sound a call to arms in which Italian rapper Luche takes position front and centre on “Chi Non Dimentica”, a track from his debut album L1. Barely containing the sense of panic and urgency that grows slowly over the course of the track, the minimalist beats march relentlessly forward as the rhymes find a spine-chilling calm in the hurricane’s eye of the song. Featuring rapper Franco Ricciardi, “Chi Non Dimentica”, seems to be a strange and disturbing rumination of religiosity and death, further expanding upon the inherent sense of dread in the song. Luche’s pained vocals resound like a distress call from the expanse of a vast ocean on the chorus and nearly get lost in the eerie, ethereal grind of the descending piano scales. 


Tagged as: hip-hop, italy, luche, rap
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Friday, Aug 16, 2013
Iran's top rapper aims his lyrical barbs at his country's second-rate MCs -- and does it with style.

Persian rapper Erfan has built a career on controversy. Having explored topics deemed taboo in his native Iran (where his music is illegal), he has often run into trouble for his outspoken views and his music has been tied up in political red tape. Outside of Iran, Erfan has lived much of his life in the US, continuing to write and make music, despite the fact that most of his fanbase resides in his home country. Inspired by a mix of world politics, Sufi poetry and hip-hop acts like Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube and Wu-Tang Clan, Erfan set out to become one of Iran’s first proper MCs, pulling from as many disparate musical influences from either side of the globe.


Tagged as: erfan, hip-hop, iran, persian, rap
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Friday, Aug 16, 2013
Over a massive Forest Swords production, Barbadian/NYC rapper Haleek Maul spits typically nasty, lightless bars that bode well for whatever release this ends up on.

The recently resurfaced, always showstopping English producer Forest Swords turned in a huge, dubbed-out, ferocious lurker of a beat that trumps anything from 2012’s Haleek Maul/Supreme Cuts collaborative LP, the superb Chrome Lips, so Maul naturally stepped his game up in response. He offers to be “the cure for your myopia,” boasts that he “black[s] out on these vixens like [he’s] livin’ in ellipses,” and while “ashes to ashes / you actin’ / get blasted” doesn’t read as exceptional on paper, it certainly sounds mean in a hook. The beat remains the undeniable star here, but Maul sounds so natural over it that an extended collab à la Chrome Lips seems only natural at this point.



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Thursday, Aug 15, 2013
Italy's young upstart offers up a smooth, funk-infused groove on "Quello Che Mi Resta", a pensive hip-hop number that strolls rather than swaggers.

Italy’s Nemi is not exactly a newcomer on the indie hip-hop scene in his home country, but he’s only just breaking ground as a singular talent with his brand of laid-back, Italian hip-hop. The first single off his new EP, 11, is tailor-made for coastal lounging. With all the elasticity and sweetness of a soft caramel chew, “Quello Che Mi Resta” is a European confection of warm, lush funk and steady, relaxed grooves, never stirring beyond the fuss of a gentle breeze.


Tagged as: hip-hop, italy, nemi, rap
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