REVIEW: Various Artists’ “All Your Friend’s Friends”

 photo AYFFK_cover_zps9d9f95e2.jpg While All Your Friend’s Friends (K) has been promoted as a glimpse of Olympia, Washington’s hip-hop scene, there is much more than just hip-hop. While the hip-hop side ranges from nice and dope to some of the best nerdcore rhymes around, the other styles on here range from nice pop to some surprising soulful tunes, and I say it’s surprising only because I didn’t expect it. The artists range from Barfly to Free Whiskey, XPerience to Saints Of Everyday Failures, and a diverse range of people like Zikki Carr, Jesus Chris, Gold, Smoke, The Chicharones, Candidt, and Miz among many others. If there’s one name that some may be familiar with, it would be Onry Ozzborn, the Seattle MC who has years of experience behind him so by getting involved with the OlyWa group, perhaps it will be a chance for all (and I do mean all) of these artists to shine in their own right. If the idea of hip-hop from Olympia may sound peculiar, remember the first time you heard music from the city and eventually got into it for its full, unique beauty. Think of that with this hip-hop comp, which is very much more than hip-hop, which is not a guise to cover up any insecurities about what they create.

(All Your Friend’s Friends can be ordered from Amazon below or directly from K Records.)

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REVIEW: Factor’s “Woke Up Alone”

 photo Factor_cover_zps51789e39.jpg Personally, I never liked the term “alternative hip-hop”. Things at one time were just good and bad, then it became hardcore vs. everything else, and that “everything else” was considered weak. Then it became gangsta vs. everything else, and with that came East Coast vs. West Coast. While I respect originality in hip-hop, the genre classification seemed more about separation than making music for a common cause, or it became a matter of “my means is better than more”. These days, if you’re not a mainstream artist, you’re not a part of the spectrum, which means you’re going to be ignored and forever a niche, which I find to be bullshit. That may not be why Factor called his album Woke Up Alone (Fake Four Inc.), but with the cover image of a doll lying on a bed next to a coffin, one could say that it not only represents our fears of dying alone and rolling into a convenient grave, but what hip-hop has become in the last 15 years.

Parts of Woke Up Alone sounds very mainstream and could easily pass off as something that a group like Linkin Park would end up doing. Then you have a track featuring vocalist Jean Boots called “Carry Over” and it may sound like something you’d find on a Handsome Boy Modeling School or Lovage album, where you know it doesn’t belong but you figure “it’s music, why shouldn’t it belong?” “Give Up” has a well known break beat sped up and made more intense with the rap flows that seem as if it’s about to roll off the tracks, but never does. The bpm is faster than the norm, and while you almost expect for it to be smoothed out on the Teddy Riley R&B Big Daddy Kane tip, it is actually… funkier? Yes, it is funkier than the known/norm, and that’s good.

Woke Up Alone sounds like those varied hip-hop albums from the early to mid-90’s, when artists will willing to throw everything in the bag to see what came up, from weird and not-typical samples to ways of rhyming that may not be traditional, to the topics that were not about being on and on til the like break of dawn, or busting caps in asses. As the song goes, you could get with this or you could get with that, and while getting with this is beneficial, sometimes you want to turn the other way to see what you come up with, and that’s what Factor has done. He relied on the trusted formulas, but then added his own two cents until he realized he had a coin jar to throw on the table.

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REVIEW: Sixo’s “Free Floating Rationales”

Photobucket The term “alternative hip-hop” has been floating around since the early 90’s to describe the type of rap music that may not be hip or part of the current mainstream. Me’Shell NdegeOcello proudly said in the booklet of her 1993 debut album that “the alternative to hip-hop is silence”. It may sound big headed to think that, but while I know and understand the different variations of the music, sometimes all that is needed is simplification of what is heard, which may bring more people into hearing what is being presented. As Sixo, Scotty Trimble is someone who has done things differently in his career, although one has to wonder if it’s the music they’re listening to or the different MC’s that come across his tracks. Free Floating Rationales (Fake Four Inc.) is a mixture of tight instrumentals and vocalized tracks. On the vocal size, if you like the works from the Anticon crew, cLOUDDEAD, Reaching Quiet, Wordburglar, or Jesse Dangerously, these tracks will definitely be pleasing to you as they are funky, quirky, and nerdy when they have to be. Ceschi and Hologram Dagger contribute to “Blind Coats” and the sound could have easily been something from the Latryx catalog. The superfresh LEIF (kolt) gets deep and dope with the very nice “Rocker John” and as for the Anticon influnce, my online godfather Sole supplies some words of wisdom in “Government Bonds”, continuing on fighting the good fight he has done over the years to let people know about the deceit being passed to the general public as being “for the people”. Moka Only delivers a bag with some unknown substances to Sixo and comes up with “Paper Pathway”, and anyone who has been a Moka fan will not be let down by this track. The instrumentals here could… no, should be taken by many of today’s top notch MC’s and turned into some great music. Just make sure Sixo gets paid for it, okay?

Sixo: one of my favorite producers out now, teaming up with MC’s who are some of my favorite rappers of the last few years. This may very well be your hip-hop dream lineup and if it isn’t, reconsider your agenda. This is just damn good music, and while the hip-hop Illuminati might cry blasphemy because they feel this style of music is Illuminati to hip-hop, all I can say is fuck them. This album is far better than the constipated shit that’s stuck up the industry’s anus and being passed off as the real shit. Yeah, it’s shit alright, but not this.

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