Month: April 2013

Songs in the Key of My Life: The Significance of Stevie

Haylow discusses the importants of Stevie Wonder and his album “Songs in the Key of Life”.

Banda Black Rio – “Mr. Funky Samba” (1977)

On the closing track of his 2009 opus The Ecstatic, Mos Def flows over a latin beat that presents an interesting contrast to the bleak hip-hop and middle-eastern influenced sounds on the record. Going in over a mostly-unadulterated break Ghostface style, the artist currently known as Yasiin Bey maneuvers over a raw cut that sounds fresh over 30 years earlier after its release. The sample source in question is Banda Black Rio’s “Case Forte”, a tune from their debut album Maria Fumaça.

One of funkiest outfits ever to emerge from Rio, the band infused traditional Brazilian rhythms with soulful grooves influenced by their Black American counterparts a little further north. The aptly titled “Mr. Funky Samba” is no exception. Like all of the tunes on Maria Fumaça, it’s an instrumental groove that can stand beside the oeuvre of soul-funk legends like Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, and George Duke. Check it out, but be warned: this Second Spin is guaranteed to make you move.

Words by @BrotherHayling

Tyler, The Creator – Treehome95 featuring Coco O & Erykah Badu (2013) (Audio)

While the media eviscerated Rick Ross and his proclivity for addressing that life which he is not actually about (in this case, rape), the world casually overlooked one of the true purveyors of all things problematic.

Tyler, The Creator is the Lenny Bruce of hip-hop. Everything he says is controversial, and yet, I imagine twenty years down the road, we’ll be saying “What was the big deal?” Lost in these discussions defined by progressive rhetoric and contrived outrage is the fact that the kid can really rap. You don’t have to like the content to respect the talent. And on his latest album, Wolf, Tyler, The Creator once again reminded us that he does this quite well. In mentioning his contentious past, it’s important to note that there has been a marked evolution in his lyrical content, as well. While still outspoken in his own right, the Los Angeles-rapper engaged an intriguing level of self-reflection throughout the entirety of Wolf. I’m not talking about that superficial rage he’s often posited in his work. This is wholly developed emotion. It was more than refreshing and deserves praise within itself.

But I don’t want to talk about Tyler, the rapper, anymore. Most of you have already formed a conclusion about him and I doubt I can do much to persuade you. It is what it is.

What is less subjective, however, is his talent behind the boards. Any casual listener can hear the influence of Pharrell, but Tyler has morphed that organic compositional style and taken it somewhere more ominous. If the Neptunes scored my beautiful, dark, twisted nightmares, they’d probably sound like beats from this guy.

But again, if there is one word to best describe Wolf, it would be “growth.”

Because on Wolf, this happened:
Tyler The Creator – Treehome95
Before last week, I would have said that this was probably a selection from a new project starring The Internet. It’s got that sort of mellow vibe that’s become a part of their electronic soul identity. This isn’t “French!” and it’s not quite “She.”

“It’s just different.” (c) Shawn Corey Combs

The insertion of Coco O (of Quadron) and Erykah Badu is attractive within itself, but at the core of it, “Treehome95” is a buoyant melody-driven composition with tinges of jazz sensibilities. In other words, it’s not something I would have ever expected from Tyler, The Creator.

To that end, I think we’re talking about someone that is far more talented than, even I as a fan, could have ever imagined.

The maturation process of Tyler, The Creator puts him amongst the strongest performers in hip-hop today. On a song in which lays down not a single 16, he makes his loudest statement today. He’s an undervalued commodity in the game and sooner than later, we’ll either catch up or get left behind.

Written By: Paul Pennington