Carpenters, experimental, hip-hop, j dilla, ragnarok, sole grunt, The Beach Boys, The Whackness

Sole Grunt – The Whackness

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.

kokomo, sax, smooth sax of the week, The Beach Boys

Smooth Sax of the Week

It’s Smooth Sax time again! My weekly post dedicated the the extremely amazing sounds created by the saxophone. Let’s be honest, it’s just a sexy sounding instrument. This week’s feature is The Beach Boys’ 1989 super tacky, yet extremely fun hit, Kokomo. This is just the epitome of an island dweller’s theme song right here. Kokomo, out Jimmy Buffets any Jimmy Buffet song any day of the week (and I can’t stand Jimmy Buffet’s music (sorry Joebags)). Once again, because this seems to happen often, the sax only makes one appearance, and it’s towards the end of the song. However, it is definitely smooth enough to get a featured post. Is it just me or does it seem like 70’s and 80’s music producers would sit and be like, “This song is missing something… Oh! I’ll just throw in a saxophone at the end. Problem solved.” Sure the problem is solved, for you, but it just leaves me wanting more sax.

On another note, who else is super excited about The Beach Boys’ reunion (Brian Wilson included)!?!? This guy is!

Grand Hotel, surf rock, The Beach Boys, The Explorers Club

West Coast Exploration

Today, I was really caught off guard when I thought I was listening to an unfamiliar tune that sounded like a forgotten track from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, only to find out I was listening to The Explorers Club from South Carolina. Their new album, Grand Hotel has a strong vintage west coast sound throughout drawing inspiration from California legends, the Beach Boys and the Eagles. The first track, Acapulco, immediately puts you on a one way plane trip to the west coast and sets the mood for the rest of the album and backs it up immediately with upbeat songs with blaring horns such as Run Run Run and Anticipatin’. The album is full of great pop melodies with perfect vocal harmonies that take you back to the 60’s such as Go For You, Any Little Way, and I’ve Been Waiting. Even with the rehashed vintage sound, Grand Hotel still delivers a fresh pop songs that will have you trying to sing along, even though you don’t know the lyrics.

If you are avid fan of The Beach Boys like I am, you will be a sucker for this album.