Computer programmer by day, Fecr-i Ati moonlights as a one-man hip-hop band of sorts. The 20-something Turkish rapper has been experimenting with music in his time off from work and has come up with some pretty imaginative results. A trained musician from a very early age, Fecr-i plays a wide variety of instruments including violin, flute, darbuka (a Middle-Eastern drum) and his personal favourite, the baglama, a Turkish stringed instrument heard here in this track, “Kalkmaz Kir”. A flashy hip-hop number given a Turkish makeover, “Kalkmaz Kir” also takes a cheeky swipe at bhungra, calling all arms to the dancefloor. Described by Fecr-i as a song about rising above those with bad attitudes, his guttural raps betray an almost mischievous swagger as he ploughs through the walloping beats with agility and force. It’s hard not to submit to the gravitational pull of the seductive, muscular rhythms and there’s much to love here, from the Turkish funk that runs through the Punjabi-inspired chorus to the mess-with-me-and-die attudinizing by the rapper, who is really just smirking underneath the fury. Undoubtedly blasting out of every bachelor’s sports car in Turkey.
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Hot Eskimos turn the magic and confused beauty of the Sugarcubes’ most cherished number into a sublimely lush jazz rendering that brings the song’s most furtive emotion to the fore – one of deep sadness. “Birthday” has had a number of reinventions over the years, but no artist or band could ever capture the raw, unspoiled beauty of Björk’s voice, jubilant and vicious in equal measure. The band give the song that was primed for a jazz reworking an atmosphere of swirling colour and shape, with piano scales sliding around an at once steady and fractured rhythm, and the drums and upright bass creating a cadence of tension and release. Like the original, Hot Eskimo’s version is rich with ideas and a musicality that could only have been sparked by an imagination brimming with wide-eyed wonder and a desperate need to be fulfilled. Just see if you don’t laugh… or cry.
When we previously looked at the new material coming out of Jonna Lee’s iamamiwhoami project, we found that her synth side project had evolved from experimental film whodunnit into something much more succinct, poppy, and remarkably catchy. “Goods” was the final track off of Kin, iamamiwhoami’s first official album, and it was funky, emotive, and really, really fun. We called it “The Most Inexplicable Song of the Summer Candidate You’re Ever Gonna Hear”, and even now, that statement still stands.
Yet diving deeper into Kin reveals just how well constructed and multifaceted this project is. After several listens, the whole thing begins to feel like the best Bjork album that Bjork never made: sonically daring without sacrificing song structure or emotive impact. The songs are very good and the corresponding film for the disc (feature wild choreographed numbers with a bunch of mop/Wookie creatures) is a miniature epic in its own right; but at the end of the day, there is one other track that stands out strongly from the rest.
Insane Clown Posse have been getting, strangely, popular again.
Although the face-painted duo have never truly gone away, their mainstream profile has been increasing year after year. Whether it be Saturday Night Live parodying their overstuffed infomercials for their annual Gathering of the Juggalos, their inexplicable collaboration with Jack White, or, perhaps, their lyrics about quasi-spirituality (including a claim that “there’s magic everywhere in this bitch”) being endlessly ridiculed, the duo have managed to work their way into the national conversation now and then, although often in a wildly negative light.
Monday saw the premiere of Green Day’s newest single, the public’s first taste of an audacious album trilogy that will see its first installment, ¡Uno!, hit stores in September. As a longtime fan (Dookie and Nimrod practically soundtracked my high school years), I’ve had mixed feelings regarding the trio’s more ambitious post-American Idiot undertakings (increasingly ponderous music videos, a second rock opera LP, an honest-to-God Broadway musical). It’s laudable that Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool are so intent on broadening their stylistic palette and challenging themselves creatively so far into their career, but the manner they’ve gone about it has felt increasingly stuffy and po-faced with each new “We’re an Important Band now” gesture. Luckily, Armstrong was quoted by Rolling Stone last month as saying, “The last record got so serious. We wanted to make things more fun”, which was a much-welcomed comment to hear after years of plodding ballads like “21 Guns” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends”.