I once read in a book of quotes, “you never know a man’s character until you’ve shared a bowl of peeled shrimp with him.” I’ve never been sure if the bowl of shrimp represented a metaphor or was really just a bowl of shrimp, but I understood the importance of it. Asking questions and receiving answers is essential when it comes down to really discovering whether or not you respect a person. I’ve been offered to do interviews a handful of times leading up until now, but I never went through with them. I tried once before, and it just didn’t work out as well as I had hoped it would. After I originally featured Brandon Lockheart’s latest single, The Noise, he followed up asking if I’d be interested in an interview, and to add to the enticement, an exclusive advance of his previously unreleased material titled, Shit I’ve Never Said. I took the bait. Now that I’m here writing this, I’m glad that I had agreed. Not only did I get to learn about the man behind the music, I’m able to share with you some truly fantastic hip-hop. Shit I’ve Never Said is a collection of deep thought, extremely personal tracks that Brandon has kept to himself for some time now. This whole experience has really shed light on who Brandon Lockheart is, as not just a rapper, but as a person. Read through the interview below, then make way to the Bandcamp player and listen to Shit I’ve Never Said. You could also scroll down and listen, then read the interview. I’m not here to enforce rules. You’re grown enough. Do whatever you want in whatever order you want.
If you’ve yet to get acquainted with J Dilla’s music, shame on you. Even though Jay Dee’s music is 100% hip-hop, lovers of all genres can appreciate the man’s legacy. So much of hip-hop’s contemporary styles can give thanks to Mr. Yancey. The man was a visionary, paving the way for introducing new sounds to hip-hop. I cannot begin to imagine where the genre would be if Dilla were still here on Earth. His newest posthumous album, Rebirth of Detroit released earlier this week, and it is nothing less than excellent. Who knows how old some of these beats are, yet they sound so forward thinking. That’s the greatness of J Dilla, his music is timeless. Sure you could go back and hear the different phases he went through during his career, but his music still holds up, no matter its age. Jay Dee has been gone for 6 years now, but new music still keeps popping up. Fortunately, J Dilla’s life revolved around creating music, and there are probably countless more instrumentals to be discovered for years to come. Hopefully, now that Dilla’s mom, Ma Dukes, has created Ruff Draft Records, we’ll be hearing a lot more of Jay Dee’s unreleased works more often. Stream Rebirth of Detroit in its entirety below.
A little while back, I did a post on this hip-hop collective, Ragnarok. I labeled them as the “Most Metal Group in Hip-Hop,” and it’s true. Ragnarok’s values are set in overtaking the current mindset of what contemporary hip-hop should sound like, and that’s just metal to me. Their sound is experimental, but comfortable enough to where the listener doesn’t feel lost in new territory. Pulling samples from a wide array of media, Ragnarok’s music is essentially a lot like hip-hop’s early, heavily sampled, beat tape radio shows of the 80’s, but the way their music is arranged is entirely fresh. Much of this sound that Ragnarok has specialized can be traced to Sole Grunt. After focusing on a majority of Ragnarok’s production and some featured spots, Sole Grunt has released his first solo mixtape, ironically titled, The Whackness.
The Whackness opens with a familiar sampling of drums taken from J Dilla’s, highly experimental, Nothing Like This. Just the use of this drum sample properly defines The Whackness as a whole, when you really think about it. Sole Grunt is making a statement choosing to use one of Dilla’s most memorable beats. He is making use of everything familiar to you, and slightly twisting them just enough for you to have to double check your sources just to be sure he really is sampling what you think he is. For example, listen to his use of The Carpenters’ Superstar in Supa (One Check for Loving). The song is instantly recognizable, but there’s something slightly askew with Sole Grunt’s use of it. He’s created a new mood that comes from hearing the sample, completely different than the emotion given by the original version. By the way, FINALLY somebody sampled Superstar! Another excellent example is how Sole Grunt sampled The Beach Boys’ I’m Waiting for the Day off of their famous Pet Sounds on The Whackness’ last track, We’re Into Some Sort of Future (One Check for Coping). That timpani drum pattern is classic, but it now sounds completely new and revitalized compared to its 1966 counterpart.
The Whackness is fantastically littered with references to movies, video games, television shows, and anime. This is where this new generation of up-and-coming rappers and producers are doing things differently than those that have come before. They have embraced incorporating media within their music, not just sampling past musicians, but sampling literally everything under the sun. I’m sure it has something to do with the internet. Probably Tumblr, everything can be found on there. Sure, hip-hop has always sampled from everything, but not quite like these new guys are. A few years ago it was the college rappers who were making names for themselves. Now, it’s time for this new, multi-media style of hip-hop to rise up, with Ragnarok leading the way. The Whackness is free to download, if you pass up on this one, you might as well embrace the name for yourself.