Reviews

Q-Tip – The Renaissance

Thursday, November 6th, 2008 | News, Reviews | 1 Comment
Q-Tip - The Renaissance

Can he kick it again?

Yes he can… after 9 long years, Q-Tip a.k.a. the brother Abstract, has hit back with another solo album entitled ‘The Renaissance’. Q-Tip continues to reinvent himself as well as the benchmark for lyricists throughout the world and has taken his place on the world stage as one of the fathers of modern Hip Hop. Giving so much to the Hip Hop scene through various solo projects, groups including A Tribe Called Quest and more recently The Standard with friend and collaborator Common, & a string of hit features from the late eighties, the mere mention of Q-Tip’s name is enough to interest this fan in this new release, but if that’s not enough, he’s brought along some awesome collaborations on the album including D’Angelo, Norah Jones, & Raphael Saddiq to name a few. Speaking to www.okayplayer.com this week Q-Tip explained the 9 year pause between solo albums… “I think I can speak for myself, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo when I say that we make music when the spirit is with us. We are a lot who are very observant as well as introspective. We paint intense, colorful pictures, so it takes time.” If it was anyone else comparing  themselves to these amazing, iconic, soulful artists I would just laugh at their arrogance, but it’s not anyone else, it’s Q-Tip, and no-one belongs on your lips in this context more then he does.

Q-Tip Gettin Up

Having re-united A Tribe Called Quest this year for the incredible ‘Rock The Bells’ tour, Q-Tip has dispelled the rumours that they are set to reform permanently on this album with his track ‘A Tribe Called Quest is no more’. Heart breaking although it may be, at least we can continue to bump fresh music as he continues to create his own style of jazz infused, introspective, old school hip hop. This pioneer has paved the way for hip hop to be enjoyed by all walks of life, meshing with so many artists of as many genres in his partnerships over the years, and ‘The Renaissance’ seems to offer the same diversity and creativity as always, opening up the doors even further for hip hop as it fast becomes a dominant force in the music industry.

Q-Tip - Let’s Ride (from his debut solo album Amplifier)

You can check out more of Q-Tip at:

www.q-tip.com

www.myspace.com/qtip

…bs

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People Under The Stairs – FUN DMC

Monday, October 27th, 2008 | Reviews | 3 Comments
People Under The Stairs - FUN DMC

Who says Hip Hop needs to be political to send a message? How many Hip Hop performers can you say truly advocate the feeling of ‘fun’? I’m sure there are a dozen you can name off the top of the dome and this writer would probably agree. But no one does it for me like Double K and Thes One, aka People Under the Stairs (PUTS).

For the last 10 years, Hip hop has been truly blessed with two of the hardest working MC’s/Producers/DJ’s on the planet. Just like the first paragraph states, these guys are all about fun and that feeling will resonate while listening to any of their 6 albums, especially the latest joint, ‘FUN DMC’. PUTS have successfully illustrated a Hip Hop based memory book of the good times which we can all relate to.

This album (FUN DMC) is an album full of tributes, not only to their heroes but tributes to what makes life worth living. From BBQ’s to video games to having a baby, PUTS have laid out another classic feel good album full of smooth production laced with witty lyricism. They also keep some inside references for the seasoned hip hop veteran by putting their own spin on classic lines and samples from the likes of Busta Rhymes, Beastie boys, Dre & Snoop etc.

I think the best tribute of the album is to Australia (NZ gets a mention too) on the track “The Wiz”. My favouritism stems from my bias as a Kiwi living in Australia which I’m sure you understand. Double K summed it up with “Shout out to my Kiwis, The whole Southern Hemisphere, LAX can wait, yo mate I’ll take another beer”. Fuck yeah!


People Under The Stairs – The Wiz

Without padding this review out with superfluous quotes and track info, I’ll leave you with this. If you are looking for an album to play this summer that captures the essence of a party, makes you wanna dance and reflect on how good life is, then you’ve found a winner in ‘FUN DMC’. You can always rely on People Under The Stairs to deliver a fulfilling array of tunes, characterised by the old school hip hop aesthetic, that you’ll play again and again and again….

You can check out more from People Under The Stairs at:

www.myspace.com/peopleunderthestairs

…Will

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Kia Ora – Kora

Monday, September 29th, 2008 | Reviews | No Comments
Kia Ora - Kora

Last Thursday night in Melbourne, we were lucky enough to finally see one of New Zealands leading bands, Kora, perform at Hi-Fi Bar. With a reputation as a must see live act spreading thoughout Australia, New Zealand, and more recently Europe, and having listened to the music they have been releasing over the last 6 years, we were intrigued as to how they would live up to the expectations we had.

It’s worth noting the callibre of artists coming out of New Zealand, especially in their live performances, when considering their reputation as one of New Zealand’s best. The bar has been set in more recent times by such a strong aray of NZ’ers such as Fat Freddy’s Drop, Katchafire, The Black Seeds, Olmecha Supreme, Che Fu, and countless other musicians. Set to this backdrop this comparison was always going to be difficult to deliver on… but deliver they did.

From the cheeky, playful performance they brought to Hi-fi Bar, it was no surprise to learn that some of Kora’s members have studied performing arts, with as little as the raise of an eyebrow causing the audience to erupt into screams all evening. These four brothers (literally) and “one token white guy”, as they described themselves, kept the mojo flowing all night, even into the second encore the audience demanded.

Kora live in Whakatane

Even in Australia’s music capital, Melbourne, it’s unusual to attract sell out shows on a Thursday night, but this prominent live venue in the heart of the city was stretched to it’s 900 capacity, including the 16th step where we were chilling out with our champagne (apologies to the guy we spilled a little bit on… twice… sorry bro).

Our group, which at the beginning of the evening was filled out with Kiwi’s, Aussie’s, Americans, Dutch, and English, among others, united at the close of the evening to sing the crowds obviously favourite track “Politician”, only re-enforcing the universal appeal which has recently seen them receive offers from Europe and further abroad.  We all left the concert with a new must see group, hoping that the recent success won’t take away our opportunities to see them locally on Thursday nights if their fan base continues to grow at the rate it has been.


Kete Aronui – an insight into Kora

They talked the talk,

They walked the walk,

and they brought us comfort…

You can check out more of Kora at:

www.kora.co.nz

www.myspace.com/koraroots

…bs & Miss Peti

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YaHeard? Paris Wells interview

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 | Interviews, Reviews | No Comments
YaHeard? Paris Wells interview

If you haven’t heard the name Paris Wells yet, then prepare to be blown away. Having just released her brilliant debut album, Keep it, as well as already building a strong following for her powerful live shows, this hugely talented Melbourne local is getting ready to take the world by storm. The album is a fantastic array of infectious pop anthems laced with everything from jazz, funk, disco and soul, highlighting her sublime versatility. We here at Very Good were lucky enough to have Paris lend us some of her time to answer a few questions, check it out.

Hi Paris, thanks for taking the time to do this for us. First things first, tell us a little about your background; who is Paris Wells and what influences her?
Well I’m actually half mermaid and half human. My childhood was in Maroubra NSW and my teens in Melbourne Bayside. Aside from my continuing emotional journey with relationships both romantic and platonic, my influences are 60 folk, 70’s disco, 90’s hip hop and great rock bands like Razorlight, Zombies etc.

The new album is sensational, how has the response been so far?
Why thankyou! Critically I am greatful for the reviews, Dan from Rolling Stone gave it a real honest review an I agreed with everything he said. Fans have picked up on it on all different levels which is great. To have girls approach me with what each song meant to them and how it helps them is an amazingly rewarding feeling! The whole response gives me so much encouragement to back this record up with an even better second album!!!

The album is really dynamic mix of genre’s; from the disco-inspired “Firetruck Man” to the soulful and jazzy “Tender”, is there any style that you particularly prefer? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Sonically we were aiming for a modern/vintage fusion of sounds. Ryan and I choose my musicians carefully along with microphones and synths etc. We both have a strong relationship with beat culture and I wanted to keep that consistent in the songs. Lyrically it speaks for itself and for myself, my heart is on that album for the world to see.

The versatility on Keep it indicates that you would be likely to gel with a wide range of artists across a handful of different genres; are there any artists or groups in particular that you would like to work with?
Dream Collaborations 101:

Damon Albarn
Jamie Lidell
Cassius
Mike Patton
Goyte

Recently your live shows have gained quite a reputation, what do fans get when you’re on stage?

All of me with clothes on but sometimes no shoes. And a huge sound!

Any plans for more shows soon? Coming into summertime, you’d be looking at a festival or two perhaps?

Shhhhhh you will have to wait my friend…..

Your sound has been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones and Alice Russell, how does this sit with you? Are these artists that you respect musically?

They are three of the most amazingly gifted vocalists in contemporary popular music, just to buy them a coffee would make my day let alone be compared to the likes of them. Amazing!

RHyNo of True Live has obviously been a factor in your success, what does he bring to your sound? Does he produce the whole album?

Yes Ryan and I are a team. My sound that the public now know is a hybrid of our tastes combined. I think he expressed himself in KEEP IT just as much as I did, he is super proud.

How was the experience of supporting Justin Timberlake on his Australian and New Zealand tour? Did he teach you how to bring sexy back?

No we were already dead sexy excuse me….Justin is the greatest, there is no stopping him.

Any final thoughts?

Fat kids are really hard to kidnapp and crabs shouldn’t be tied up in restaurants, tasty but they should at least get to swim before hand.

Thanks for your time Paris

“I’d step out of the rush for you”- Fat Freddy!
Peace. x

Paris Wells – Dat Du Dat
Keep it is out now, support local talent and pick it up from your local music store. And keep an eye out for Paris live somewhere near you over summer, we’ll do our best to keep you informed, you do not want to miss out.

You can check out more of Paris Wells at:

www.myspace.com/pariswells

…cracked

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YaHeard? Binary Star

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 | Reviews | 3 Comments
YaHeard? Binary Star

Back in the early years of high school I wasn’t much of a hip hop fan, bar the Snoop Dogg and Ice T cassettes i had dubbed off my friends older brothers. But after being introduced to the likes of Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples and Gangstarr, my interest grew. Enjoying the underground side of things, I sought more artists like these and managed to stumble across something that well and truly tipped the scales for me, one of the dopest underground albums of all time; ‘Masters of the Universe’, released in 2000 by Binary Star. Jam packed with clever metaphors, punchlines and rhymes that need to be studied, this album is a shining representation of what underground hip hop is. Uh.. hang on, what underground hip hop used to be, I should say; they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

After meeting in prison, MC’s Senim Silla and OneManArmy (a.k.a OneBeLo) recorded and independently released their debut album, Waterworld. Only about 1000 copies were pressed and distributed in 1999, and in the following year it was remixed, remastered, and re-released, as ‘Masters of the Universe’. Despite only selling 20,000 copies, the album received wide acclaim and would be high on the list of any respectable underground hip hop fan. Unfortunately the two split after this was released, citing creative differences, and have never reformed. However, both artists have released solo material in recent years (Senim Silla – The Name, The Motto, The Outcome, OneBeLo – S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M) and feature on each others albums.

Although the strength of this album lies in its MC’s, the beat on the first track, “Reality Check”, is mesmerising. Strings blast out of the speakers followed by a piano loop that builds with an ominous presence, before it fades and lets the beat rock just long enough for them to flip it, laying down lush piano and harps with OneManArmy unleashing his first verse. And this verse is a great reflection of what the rest of the album offers; OneManArmy dropping countless witty punchlines and rhymes that will have you nodding your head (”Rodney King ain’t ever felt a beat like this”, “I’m bad to the bone but X-ray’s can’t even see this”). “Conquistadors” is up next with its simple but effective bassline and cracking snare. The duo exchange metaphors and battle raps enthusiastically, Senim Sillia setting the tone from the first lines with “Feel the rhapsody, fill this joint to capacity, Senim grab mics with pitbull tenacity”. He keeps the ball rollin with the first of his solo tracks on the album, “Slang Blade”, where he rips it for two and half minutes straight without a hook over one of the best beats on the album

The two MC’s have fun on “Binary Shuffle”, bouncing along over a pretty simple bouncing beat with them chanting;

“Do you want to hear about the money we got? (oh no!)
Talk about the people we shot? (oh no!)
Bragg on the clothes we wear? (oh no!)
Do you think what we saying’ is fair? (oh yea!)
Do my crew rock the mic for days? (oh yea!)
Do my crew keep it live on stage? (oh yea!)
Do Binary Star got the flow? (oh yea!)
Don’t these wack emcees got to go? (oh yea!)”

A track that starts off like that is always going to appeal to me, and its especially refreshing listening to it in this current hip hop environment. “Fellowship” sees Athletic Mic League and Decompoze “rock heads like Mt Rushmore” with the dynamic duo, in another head nodding beat with a funky bassline. Decompoze and Senim Silla shine on this track, both ripping their verses to shreds. The title track, “Masters of the Universe”, sees the duo rapping together as “The Two-Headed Dragon”, weaving in and out of each others rhymes at a quick pace. Yet another track that is full of memorable lyrics, you’ll need to listen to it several times before get it all.

One of my personal favourites is “Indy 500″, which only actually features Decompoze. This track is a salute to the underground, where Decompoze rhymes about making it big but staying independent and true to why you’re making your music.

“All we need is beats and rhymes to go and spark it,
As long as we got the underground yo, we got a market,
I don’t need a major to tell me how to run it,
cause my goal’s to win the Indy 500″

The track starts off with a sample from a movie that really sets the tone, before Decompoze enters, just speaking about the industry at first, until a gritty beat drops over a superbly mellow piano loop. Easily one of the best tracks of the album.

“Honest Expression” has Silla and OneManArmy deliver a dope commentary on keeping it real as an underground hip hop artist and staying true to the artform instead of telling lies just to sell records. The track starts with a fantasticly appropriate martial arts movie sample about “Honestly expressing yourself”, before the two MC’s come in together and lay down some of the most refreshing rhymes of the album:

Senim Silla:

“Dig – I’ma put it on the table,
I ain’t a thug nigga and playa, I ain’t playful,
I’m just Senim Silla, a man without label,
Standin’ on my own two just tryin’ to stay stable,
Speakin’ what I know to only what I’m able”

OneManArmy:

“I ain’t hardcore, I don’t pack a 9 millimeter,
Most of y’all gangster rappers ain’t hardcore neither,
Whoever get mad then I’m talkin ’bout you,
Claim you fear no man but never walk without crew”

I love hearing tracks like this, hip hop artists making hip hop for the right reasons. And doing so with a precision and skill that sees them easily capable of mocking those who are abusing the art form for its payout.

I’ve listened to many dope hip hop albums over the years, but I consistently struggle to find music that can match up to this. I could write all day about each and every song, as they are all pretty damn good, and all feature the trademark metaphor-heavy rhyme-style that will have you rewinding to catch lyrics often. Even after eight years in my possession, it still rates high on my playlists. OneManArmy and Senim Silla have an amazing chemistry, and through their creative wordplay and raw honesty they have created a true underground hip hop classic.

Anyway, times up.

Do hip hop a favour, don’t sleep on this if you haven’t heard it.

You can catch Binary Star at:

www.myspace.com/4003715

or at OneManArmy’s record label

www.subterraneousrecords.com

Peace

…cracked

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