Aww shit, would you look at that — two installments of Party & Bullshit in one week! I must love you guys. Or I happen to have an inordinate amount of free time this week. Which I guess means I really do love you, if I'm spending my impromptu sorta-vacation rounding up the latest in Nashville hip-hop for ya. I mean, I've got half a series of Star Trek: The Next Generation left, and that shit ain't gonna watch it self. I also have half a bottle of Prichards' Lincoln County Lightning that's calling my name. But I'm here, 'cuz I love you. No, for reals, it's not just pillow talk. Plus, I didn't mention the new Yelawolf record Radioactive yesterday, and it's a record that needs to be talked about.
For starters, our buddies over at Concrete Magazine have a really extensive interview with Yela, plus video from the shoot for this month's cover and interviews with Rittz and Struggle. As always, this is some solid work from the Concrete crew. Next, there's the actual record, Radioactive, which is really fucking good. So good, in fact, that I actually enjoy the Kid Rock and Lil Jon features — yes, I'll be turning in my hipster-cred card later this afternoon — and I'll even admit enjoying them in a public forum. It's definitely Yela's most accessible work to date — radio-friendly and pop-leaning, but not in a way that screams “sellout.”
What we get on Radioactive is a really talented artist who's actually made the jump to a major label and used the demands of corporate music culture to create a rather stunning piece of art that should appeal to the underground as much as it appeals to the 106 & Park crowd. When Radioactive was pushed back from its original release date in September, I feared the worst. I figured the label was going to do something stupid — that's what majors are good at — and ruin yet another great underground rapper.
But Yela came out on top, turning in a record that easily straddles the worlds of above-ground and underground hip-hop, throwing bits of rock and pop into the mix without feeling forced or inappropriate. He reworks Billy Joel AND The Buggles for crying out loud! And it doesn't make me feel stabby! This is a first. But I think that Radioactive's strength comes from Yela ignoring the boundaries between pop and underground music typically imposed by, well, assholes like me. And honestly, I can't complain — I've been rooting for Yealwolf for a hot minute, and if he has to make an album that would (usually) offend my delicate sensibilities, so be it. Whatever the dude has to do to keep making records is cool by me, I'mma listen regardless.
Now, let's get on to some more partyin' and more bullshittin' ...
* Y'all have plans for tonight? You do now. You're going to the AyeVee Showcase at 12th & Porter. And don't pretend like you're going to get anything done at work tomorrow, 'cause you know you're not. If I may quote myself from this week's dead-tree edition:
The Radikalz are playing! This is HUGE! Sure, maybe there's only a handful of people who have even heard of them, but that's about to change. We caught The Radikalz — who wear matching varsity jackets and rap in unison, the way God intended hip-hop groups to perform — back in February, and it still ranks as one of the best sets we've seen all year. We've been waiting for them to resurface. They've been hiding out in the lab working on their album, which is pretty counter-intuitive in today's “throw all of your shit at all of the walls” promotional environment. And speaking of new records, Ducko Mcfli — one of the city's most sought-after producers and a veritable hit machine behind the boards — dropped his solo debut King Duck this past Tuesday, capping off a year of stellar productions and top notch tracks. Rounding out a rather a supreme bill are local college-rap newcomers The Flamingo's, Deacon and DJ Dali Drama.
I actually caught The Radikalz at 8 off 8th last week, and while they didn't wear the matching jackets (bummer), they did get all the way live on the microphone(s). Definitely worth leaving the house for.
* And while we're on the AyeVee tip, The Flamingos just dropped a new mix of unreleased tracks from their stable of producers. It touches on a bunch of different genres — hip-hop, dubstep, bassline, some pretty choice breaks here and there — but might be a bit more consistent, tone-wise, than their debut. The last time I saw them play live, it was a little ... um, rough around the edges, but they seem to be progressing at a pretty quick clip.
* Call It Dope! dropped a new single last night — their first in ... forever? "Band Bang" is a high-energy work up of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U" that's got a Florida Breaks sound with more pop leanings and retro synths.
* Jose and Mary is the new project from local producer/bandleader/rapper Matic Lee. They've got a new album and it's really, really good, but totally not what I was expecting. I caught them at the aforementioned 8 off 8th, and with three guitars and a huge wall of distortion, I figured that the record was going to be less, well, subtle. I was basically imagining something along the lines of Black Oak Arkansas meets Demon Fuzz. But Jose and Mary slip in and out of different sounds — rock, dub, pop, hip-hop, dance — pretty deftly, making for a future-soul vibe that evokes V.V. Brown chillin' with Cymande. You can download the self-titled record here. [Click the pic for download]
If you have any hot shows, dope records or fresh videos, hit me up on Twitter or email music[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.