SOME STUFFS: Lessondary to release their first album in June

Lessondary will be dropping an album on June 24th and you may be thinking “who the hell is Lessondary?” Thank you, Robin Harris, I’ll tell you. They are a hip-hop collective that welcomes the two members of Tanya Morgan (Donwill and Von Pea), Ilyas Nashid, Rob Cave, Che Grand, Jermiside, Elucid, Aeon, and Brickbeats. You may have heard them individually or in other musical functions but this is actually the first Lessondary album. It will be called Ahead Of Schedule and you can hear a track from it below, check out “Introducing…”.

FREE DL: Megaran’s Jermiside, MPRESS and Professor Shyguy’s “Ready Or Not (Chip Remix)
Megaran takes his love of video games and 8-bit music into creating a new version of The Fugees’ “Ready Or Not” by turning it into an 8-bit masterpiece, with all Enya melodies intact. It’s not a direct cover, it’s all new lyrics but the instrumental, you should be familiar and the classic “buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta” line is not present but the song holds up brilliantly. The song is being offered with the “Name Your Price” option at Bandcamp, but show support if you like it. The song also features Professor Shyguy, MPRESS and Jermiside.

AUDIO: Von Pea & The Other Guys featuring Jermiside, Che Grand, Aeon, Spec Boogie, ILWIL aka Ilyas, Donwill & Elucid’s “Connect Four aka Lessondary”

Von Pea has another song done with The Other Guys and this time he’s welcoming in THe Lessondary for “Connect Four”, which features Donwill, Ilyas, Spec Boogie, Aeon, and Jermicide in a song that may be one of the best you’ve heard (or will hear) in 2014. Do not deny its greatness.

REVIEW: Pete Marriott’s “#REALHIPHOP”

 photo PeteMarriottRHH_cover_zps2fc972c2.jpg It is an album Pete Marriott has promised to make for years, always talking about putting together this and that, bringing different rappers and singers together but never quite making it to the point where he felt happy to put his stamp approval on it as a whole. After releasing a small handful of songs on an individual basis, the stamp of approval has made itself known and he is calling it #REALHIPHOP (The BRKLYN Collection). This is not only Marriott’s brand new album, but it is a statement of what he feels is hip-hop as it is and should be, the type of music that moved a generation and a world to become what it is today.

With contributions from Jermiside, Mr. Man, Da’ Lord Supreme, DVS Jackson Esq., #REALHIPHOP may sound like a throwback at first, especially with the opening song that sounds like someone went into the archives and pulled out an unnoticed gem. When things get kicking with “Bring It On Right”, featuring Otomatik, there’s a certain feel and vibe that is sensed, you know it’s going to feel good and you do not doubt the incoming force that is headed to the ears. You hear the bumping beats, the meditative drone of what sounds like a combination of vocals and synths, the twisted mix of beat textures that show Marriott’s music is not just about one thing or the other, it’s about everything and putting in your all and going for broke, all your effort into what’s good because the bad is not acceptable. Then there’s “Nice Redux”, which immediately reminded me of Too Poetic/Grym Reapera and Lakim Shabazz with the kind of lyrical flow that takes me back to 1989 and before, when being rhythmic was not just understanding the beat but understanding vocal tonality and how that could tell a story as well. You might hear some keyboards that may remind you of Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” but the madness being heard is all Marriott, and every layer just sounds… right.

It’s the kind of album that understands its influences and rather than pay tribute to them, you can say this is just a continuation of the feelings originally felt, where you may have heard a horn sample, a blend of vocals, or just the right combination of drums and percussion that made you go “wow, this takes me back” or “this feels like the goodness of what this life has to offer”. There is nothing like a verse, a chorus, or a passage in a song that makes you forget about the bad times, and #REALHIPHOP is very much a good time album, even when you hear metaphors about murdering fraudulent rappers with killer rhymes.

While Marriott has organized an album that is meant to capture a certain feeling, it is not about being stuck in one corner or the other. Just as certain albums are timestamps of what was going on, #REALHIPHOP comes off like a mirror to let people know what they left behind and why the music is not something you should ever forget. As Sly Stone once said, music “is not a fashion in the first place, it is a feeling”, and while a feeling or vibe is not something you can hold, it is something that is understood and must be shared, even if describing it may seem difficult at first. The album is very much a showcase of the production and musicianship Marriott has done for decades, and whether it’s driving down a gritty street at 4am or watching a family picnic on a Sunday afternoon, those things are captured because they are not only understood, but is translated as best as possible within the music heard in these thirteen songs. For those who are doubters, #REALHIPHOP is the proof you never thought would come to fruition, and the proof sounds quite nice.

REVIEW: Dumhi’s “The Jungle”

Photobucket Dumhi remains one of my favorite hip-hop groups out there, but then it became known that the group was not only a functioning collective, but a project from the mind of Rajan Jugran. In other words, Dumhi can be a two-headed beast at any given time, and one of those heads may branch out to reveal three, four, or twelve more heads atr any given time. It’s my of saying that when it remains to be a group vibe, Dumhi is a unit of people. When it wants to be a means of musical exploration from one man, Dumhi is one man.

First off, I want to apologize to Dumhi as a whole for the delay in this review. The album arrived at a time when a number of other albums were coming in, to the point where I felt I was being bombarded with new music. Yes, I realize you guys are saying “Book, we’re fucking Dumhi, you’re our boy, put us on the top of your listening pile and make us a priority.” I know, and again I apologize. But now that I’m listening to the music, looking at brick buildings and barbed water, and hearing how they are a perfect fit, and I now regret delaying my Dumhi intake.

The Jungle (self-released) looks like a serious album, you don’t place a photo like that on the cover to make people think “oh, this is a happy album”. The tone is somber and dark, perhaps just like the times we live in. While not a concept album, there is a running theme, that of how life and the surroundings we live in feel more like a jungle, and the jungle seems to be getting bigger and more wide spread. Has that jungle always existed? Were the schoolyard jungle gyms a microcosm of what we were going to grow into, or just a middle finger from our parents as a message which reads “ha ha, you on your own now, son”?

With the help of such MC’s as Elucid, Random, Reef The Lost Cauze, Burke The Jurke, Jermiside, and Che Grand among others, they tell a story that may sound different from afar, but they connect in the way they all talk about the struggle to live, breathe, and comprehend in the early 21st century. When Raj/Haj slips in an instrumental interlude, it feels like incidental music from a 70’s film, and maybe that’s the point: to show that some of the things being explored in movies we watched during our youth is now our reality, and the connection to those old stories remains. Maybe we can find solutions in those old stories by telling the current stories, and thus Dumhi continue to be storytellers for today and the generations to come. The Jungle is perhaps what we want it to be, what we deny, but it also allows us to figure out why the jungle exists, or does it exists? Just like racial slurs and living conditions, can people break out of the jungle in order to find something better, or is it always about a vicious game of survival in a concrete jungle? Or are the oppressors in it for the game to watch animals prey on each other? While The Jungle doesn’t get heavy in a political context, it does touch upon it socially, to put up a mirror for us to not only see what we don’t want to see, but hopefully to reflect back at those who don’t think those conditions exist. Perhaps it means reconditioning mentalities, or reconditioning those who do not feel those conditions can or should change.

Perhaps it is deep after all. To be continued…

SOME STUFFS: Dumhi’s “Indian Summer” EP

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Critics you can die slow/excuse me for the morbidness? Fair enough.

Legally, this 11-track recording clocking in at 28:50 is a “short album”, but in a modern context you could say it’s half an album, so let’s call it an EP.

Technicality aside, Indian Summer is the brand new EP from Dumhi, a group whose music I have been enjoying and admiring from afar, and have stated so in reviews throughout the years. I always went out of my way to state that these guys are a group of individuals who love to smoke and party, and occasionally share that in their music. They always championed themselves as devoted and dedicated writers and lyricists. With Indian Summer, Dumhi show an incredible amount of growth and maturity, and for anyone to show this in hip-hop at a time when the music is packed with fly-by-night “talents” is a rare occurance, but I want to celebrate this.

The production of Haj has developed into something that is enjoyable to listen to with or without vocal tracks, he’s the kind of producer you want to hear and analyze to find out what breaks he uses, where the string samples come from, and then to wrap it up in a package that makes this a perfect “resume tape” for any and all artists? It’s not just the same old beats, you may hear a drum break that is filtered on the thin side, with the bass boosted and then a farfisa enters and is then chopped in a unique way, everything is organized very well, the type of organization that production nerds will raise their hands up for to celebrate the goodness.

Then you have the MC’s. On this album we have Mash Comp, Shameless Plug, Vex, Flud, Che Grand, Jermiside, Donwill of Tanya Morgan, Al Mighty, John Bap, and Random, so you have the core of what Dumhi is all about plus friends and close associates that essentially make the group look like a hip-hop Fishbone or Graham Central Station. In the downtempo vibe of “Mathmatical Fractal Flow”, Vex seems to be on another mental not quite grasp, for you hear the song sounding very laid back and yet he’s rapping in a number of different textures every two lines. It’s not the same-song cha-lang-a-lang, it kind of sounds like some of Andre 3000‘s lyrical schemes without getting too heady or freaky. I’m sitting listening to this song and after every two lines my smile kept getting bigger, I was thinking that this is the kind of thing that makes listening to hip-hop so great.

What a concept, huh, *listening* to hip-hop?

Dumhi are a group that you should listen to, mixing up twisted tales without fear of slipping in an obscure reference too and cracking some inside jokes. As Shameless Plus tells listeners he’s about to take listeners back and give them a smackdown in “One Week In August” , Mash Comp goes for his when he uses superheroes as metaphors to big-up his Dumhi nation while condemning what he calls “chalkboard rappers”. There are so many great verses and 1- or 2-liners worth talking about, and yes I’m basically saying that if you love wordplay, Indian Summer is a lyrical feast. Fuck an 8 Mile, this is what will inspire you to become a rapper, maybe make you reevaluate your style (or lack of it).

Dumhi have grown into powerful artists, with a confidence that equals the collective talents involved. It’s a level of maturity I wish all artists would stay around long enough to discover for themselves, and I hope that by Dumhi reaching this level, it will mean a continued supply of audio nickel bags for these guys.