REVIEW: Loden’s “The Star Eyed Condition”

 photo LodenTSEC_cover_zps89a58f50.jpg The abstract samples and synths used on Belgian producer Loden’s The Star Eyed Condition (Circle Into Square/Fake Four Inc.) makes you feel like you’re jumping out of suspended animation and are finding yourself swimming in a pool or stutters. Whether it’s the warmth or the coolness of the water, you are comforted by the fact that it’s water, so you’re comfortable but unsure of where the current will take you. You close your eyes, open your ears, and wish for the best.

If the song that begins “About Busdriver With Colors” doesn’t sound like a urine stream on a Quonset hut, you’re not listening the way I am. Then the song gets thick and funky with Busdriver dropping lyrics about “vaginal lips underneath the leather soles” and blending that with seeing things with such vibrancy. As far as seeing, Ceschi finds himself in “Ceschi Is Seeing Straight” and moves into a direction that is anything but straight and/or narrow. Joëlle Lê, know for her work as Greetings From Tuskan and with Buck65 in their Bike For Three! project, gets a chance to work with a fellow Belgian and go gallivanting in a brilliant song that crosses language and music barriers. Hearing Doseone in “Future Confetti With Doseone” makes me long for what was cLOUDDEAD but he still retains his nerdiness, sarcasm, humor, and dopeness that has always made him who he is as an artist. The album wraps up with “A Letter To A Future Kid From Sole”, and if The Star Eyed Condition makes itself somewhat of an optimistic album, Sole’s track almost moves things in a pessimistic manner. As the title indicates, it’s a message to someone who is too young to be aware of the world, or someone who doesn’t exist yet, offering words of guidance on what to look out for in a big and scary world that will probably be smaller and scarier in the years ahead. He closes the song and the album with the lines ““My only advice is to catch the tone in my voice/and know the spirit lives on, even when it’s strangled and put in a box/you might think you’re alone, but I can assure you you’re not/it’s how everybody feels before a society cracks“. It is then that you realize this isn’t only a message to a future kid, but a goodbye letter to our past and everything it used to mean, when meaning meant something.

It is then when you realize The Star Eyed Condition is an album that is meant to be the optimism of a young child, starry eyed with nothing known but who gives him or her warmth and comfort. It is then you realize the album is the type of album that could not exist on a major label anymore, not with musical freedom being something old people used to do for shits and giggle. The idea that someone in rap music could get down in a non-hip-hop manner seems laughable, even though rappers are doing just that but are killing themselves inside for the paper chase that ends up chasing, biting, and killing them. The album is something that could only be done in electronic music, which tends to tear down walls as a mirror towards the walls being build by many. The Condition of those who are Star-Eyed leads one to wonder if it’s a condition that needs to be treated, or does doing things automatically make you a defect of the once cherished human condition? The sounds here are fun and danceable, but it leads to a moral that involves thought. Like the old song “Find The Cost Of Freedom”, a cost that was buried in the ground, if mother Earth swallows us, do we have to lay our bodies down or dust off the dirt and try to survive in something that seems better to not exist in? Music with thought can be a very good thing, maybe this will be the thought provoker.

SOME STUFFS: Sole becomes WHITENOISE for new project

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Sole has been creating the kind of hip-hop that is meant to speak for the ignored and against the ignorant. Yet there are times when perhaps one should lower the “intensity” volume a bit, and that is what Sole has done with an all-instrumental project that he’s releasing under the name WHITENOISE. If Madlib can create thirty different monikers, and one man death/doom/black metal artists can also have their series of names for each project, why not Sole? The album is called No More Dystopias (Black Canyon), and the first video is a 2-for-1 deal uniting the songs “Fallujah” and “The Military Entertainment Complex”. Even without words, the songs say a lot

Digital pre-orders can be had by clicking here, while a cassette version can also be ordered by heading there. Cassette orders will also have the digital version as well. Digital albums will be sent out on 9/11, while the cassette will reach buyers on or before the September 17th release date proper.

REVIEW: Sole’s “No Wising Up No Settling Down”

Sole photo SoleNWU_cover_zps204486d7.jpg Sole has been someone who has put his beliefs and philosophies into his music and non-music efforts, to the point where it is very much a part of his life, not something that is done for attention or publicity. No Wising Up No Settling Down (Black Canyon) consists of lyrics and music that is not about keeping it real or doing anything for hip-hop, but he’s being himself and only himself, with the hope that his messages can get to the minds of people for the sake of changing their lives and living differently from accepted norms.

Hip-hop is the tool that Sole uses in order to get his messages across. He has utilized different styles of music over the years, or unfolding his words into atypical (i.e. arguably unconventional) ways. One might say that that doesn’t represent hip-hop but again, Sole represents Sole, or Tim Holland represents Sole, and this is how he does it. On the album, he attacks the status quo and finds a bit of an alliance with a respected anarchist in “I Think I’m Emma Goldman” while addressing his dietary needs in “My Veganism”. In some tracks, Sole condemns what many rappers are talking about in their music but essentially states that this is their issue, not his (“I used to battle MC’s, then I realized/I need better targets, and I’m not one to play fight”), but change is necessary. As for what makes him angry, ignorant people are very much in his scope in “People Piss Me Off”, but in the end he is going to do what he’s going to do, and if it doesn’t fit someone’s agenda or plan, he’s not going to waste time on what’s not important.

Sole is very much political as he is a social MC, delivering the kind of content in the music very few are doing today in a mainstream sense, for the people, alongside the people. Even if you don’t subscribe to some of the things he states or is fighting for, his words are worth listening to and analyzing, for he’s basically saying that life can be much simpler if we didn’t make any or all issues so complicated to deal with. Fans of his work with Anticon will love what he does in the backdrop that is “Extremeophile”, but this is a passage of moving forward in the mind of Sole. I know on the album he states that he doesn’t like the praise or favoritism, but as someone who has the mind to compose and the urgency for those words to be said and heard, he does what he does because it is a must for him. He has been against things for a long time, and if that moves us to think about what we show support for, perhaps he has done his job. He may not be Montell Jordan but No Wising Up No Settling Down represents how Sole does it, another chapter in what has already been an interesting life story.

VIDEO: Sole & Goldpanda’s “Extremophile”

No Wising Up No Settling Down (Black Canyon) is the forthcoming album by Sole due out May 1st, and with Goldpanda placed into the mix, “Extremophile” is the music side of this puzzle. The video for the song, being pulled from various sources of found footage, will definitely bring back distant echoes of Anticon while keeping itself modern for now times. I’ve always admired Sole’s love of not going beyond expected limits and norms, but simply doing things his way.

REVIEW: Sole’s “A Ruthless Criticism Of Everything Existing”

Sole photo Sole12_cover_zps41df9f37.jpg The title of the album almost says it all. Sole has been critical of many things in his career, and A Ruthless Criticism Of Everything Existing (Black Canyon) might come off like he has reached the summit, a climax has been reached and he has finally said everything that needs to be said. If these 13 songs are any indication, he is far from being finished with saying something and getting his point across.

On an album that features a wide range of producers and MC’s working with him, Tim Holland is merely getting points across as a means to get to the next step of things he wants to speak about, whether it’s politics, food ethics, or human rights. Musically, the tracks range from hyperactive modern electronica manipulations to full on dope jams, each time offering words of wisdom as if he’s throwing out constant molotov cocktails. With each song, his delivery shows passion and determination, and even when he does a bit of singing, he puts his heart into it and it feels true. He has once again created a soundtrack for those who choose not to listen, they are the deaf ears. For those who are listening, they’re being fed with essential vitamins that will hopefully become the seeds for a better world. Even if you don’t agree with 100% of his philosophies (and you don’t have to), you have to focus on his drive to be no one but himself. He may be influenced by his peers, but Sole is someone who has been on his own path for years. Fortunately, it just so happens many have met up with him throughout his journeys, and I hope the release of A Ruthless Criticism Of Everything Existing will allow him to continue speaking his mind. (Maybe “allow him” isn’t the right way to put it, for I feel he is already thinking of new things to speak about anyway.)

FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: Sole’s “Gun Control”

Sole has never been one to shy away from a hot topic of interest, no matter how raw, and with the shootings of Newtown, Conneciticut still in our minds and daily news cycle, he has touched on the subject of “Gun Control” from a number of angles, from the obvious to the layers that exist beneath what the population may be afraid to discuss. You can read the essay he read to go with the track by clicking to the Soundcloud page for “Gun Control”, but I also think the song speaks for itself.

VIDEO: Sole’s “Assad Is Dead”

Sole has a new album out, which means there will be some lyrics with the kind of courage and messages that a lot of today’s hip-hop, at least in the mainstream, lacks. Sole is not about catering to anyone, but he is about putting quality into the work he puts out there, music or otherwise. This one is called “Assad Is Dead”.

As for that album, due out next week Tuesday, a review of Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing is forthcoming.

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.

VIDEO: Sole’s “Another Anti-Capitalist Anthem”

Sole created a new track this week called “Another Anti-Capitalist Anthem”, which comes just as the United States celebrates its independent day. The track was put together not with the 4th in mind, but it was timely so it seems more than fitting. If the instrumental sounds familiar, it’s based on a track by Lana Del Rey. But I don’t like her. Sole, I like.

SOME STUFFS: Sole ready to release first album in seven years

Considering how much music he releases, the touring he does, and his efforts within the Occupy movement, it might be hard to believe that Sole is about to release his first solo album in seven years. Solo album means “solo proper”, which means a collection of music released under the name “Sole”. The album is called A Ruthless Criticism Of Everything Existing, and as he prepares to have it ready by October, the album is also part of a Kickstarter project, which you can check out by clicking here.

As always, there is a political side in his lyrics that is reflective of what he’s doing in his life, and that mixes up with the social side of things, which of course blends in with how he expresses himself in a hip-hop context. It is and can be more than hip-hop, which is perhaps what Sole has always been about throughout his life and career, but it’s a matter of truly listening and see how that reflects on your life, which of course is much more than the musical circle we sometimes get caught up in. It’s a much bigger world, and Sole is someone who isn’t afraid to cut into existing wounds in the hopes more people will be able to clean up the bacteria that should cease to exist. If he is the only one out there, that’s the reason why he’s Sole, a warrior willing to battle with action and sound.