Category Reviews

All Amerikkkan Bada$$ – Joey Bada$$

Jozif Badmon the rude boy is back with his sophomore album, All Amerikkkan Bada$$. Joey Bada$$ is a 22 year old Brooklyn rapper who’s been gaining some serious attention since his debut mixtape “1999” released back in 2012. Since then Joey has been growing in popularity through the release of his first studio album – B4DA$$, along with numerous collaborations. Recently Joey finished his tour with fellow 2013 XXL Freshman Schoolboy Q and has been dabbling in the fashion industry along with co-starring in the USA network television show “Mr. Robot.” The long awaited AABA has finally released and Joey proves why this album was well worth the wait.

All Amerikkkan Bada$$ is an exploration into the mind of Joseph Virginie-Scott in regards to the socio-political state of our country and not only his place in it as a rapper, but as an African American man. As we see racial tension rising with every news report, rappers like Joey use their spotlight as a platform to express thoughts and opinions on these matters. On the song “For My People” Joey asks his audience “Tryna stay alive and just stay peaceful… so hard to survive a world so lethal… who will stand and be our hero?” This emotionally sung hook provides a perfect example for the tone of this album. Joey doesn’t preach that he will be the hero that changes the ugliness of the world, but poses the idea that a hero might be needed based on the problems he sees around him. Problems such as racial profiling, especially by the police who have been the center of attention in recent years due to the controversial use of lethal force against numerous African American men and women. In the hard-hitting “Rockabye Baby” featuring Schoolboy Q, Joey attacks the racist mindset of many Americans and the ease with which police have killed unarmed black men. He also makes sure to send a special shoutout, “And if you got the guts, scream Fuck Donald Trump!” The message of this album is clear and spread out consistently from song to song – that Joey is taking a stand against the discrimination that his Black brethren have faced and wants to inspire his people to stand with him.
Sonically, this album is similarly consistent to his messages, keeping his production crew relatively local with beats from long-time collaborators and Pro Era associates Statik Selektah, Kirk Knight, and Powers Pleasant. The overall vibe of this album is relatively mellow, with smooth jazzy instrumentals and low-tempo beats to allow the spotlight to stay on Joey’s lyricism and message. However, Joey comes through with some of his most experimental sounds yet such as the lead single released prior to the album, “Devastated” a high energy party anthem with an outstanding message; previously earning Joey his first Gold rating for a single. Joey also provides a powerful and hard hitting possy-cut alongside other east-coast rappers Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, and Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies. This is just one example of the many great features included on the album such as the previously mentioned Schoolboy Q, Styles P, Chronixx, and J.Cole (who’s catching Cole features on their album??). This album has everything a Joey Bada$$ fan wants, intensity and energy, lyricism and top notch flow, impressive production and flawless features, and most importantly an inspiring and uplifting message; something that is not always included in rap albums of today. Joey Bada$$ has come such a far way since his days of sample based mixtapes; and his journey as a rapper and figurehead is not even almost complete.

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Moh Lhean – Why?

Moh Lhean marks the triumphant return of Why? After almost five years since their last full length release Why? still occupy their own sonic space and defy easy categorization. Certainly their strongest album since Alopecia, the most exciting part of this release is that it finds front man Yoni Wolf with a refreshing new outlook on life. All of Why?’s previous albums were connected lyrically by cynicism and “TMI” but on Moh Lhean shock value and self depreciation is replaced by honest introspection and a wistful sense of wonder. This is also the bands first fully home recoded album since 2003 and the production is incredibly clean and lush. As a whole there is a feeling of rejuvenation running through these tracks.

The opening track “This Ole King” begins with an acoustic guitar and an atmosphere that swells into a crisp drumbeat and counter melody. Yoni enters with his distinct nasally voice and tongue twisting abstract lyrics. Instantly it is notable how much prettier his voice sounds than we have been accustomed to. The chorus hits with a tambourine and addition of female backing vocals in a way reminiscent of old songs like “Good Friday”. The interplay between the voices here is unique and very catchy and the lyrics are memorable. “This Ole King” is a great opener and sets the right tone for the whole album.

The next two tracks are both stellar and make for a great run of songs. The chorus in “Proactive Evolution” is similar to “This Ole King” both featuring the back and forth between male and female vocals and the song ends with trippy layering of bits of speech. “Easy” is certainly a contender for best song on the album, the piano sounds beautiful and the arrangement is dreamy and captivating with voices, woodwinds and synths swirling around seamlessly. The chorus is one of the catchiest on any Why? album.

After the impressive streak of the first three songs there is a quick interlude with pitch-shifted vocals that flows effortlessly into another excellent track. After here the album starts to lull. There is a short instrumental with squiggly crackly synth and four more good songs. Nothing is wrong with any of the songs but after loaded first half nothing stands out as a highlight.  The arrangements and percussion are diverse and complicated throughout and the songs all flow together making for an engaging and enjoyable listen. Even if it is top heavy Moh Lhean is a great album that leaves you ready for their next release.
By: Brandon McKie

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Sofar Sounds Chico

In this dawn of a public age, I think we all take the gift of intimacy for granted. Whenever something cool is happening right in front of us our instinctual reaction is to grab our phones and document it. This was never how life was experienced in the past, but it is our current status quo. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, and I’m definitely not one to pass judgment on the cultural implications of mass social media (especially since I’m an actively participant.) But, I do know that when people come together to create a special intimate moment together it is like a breath of fresh air I didn’t even know I needed.

Sounds From A Room, or as conveniently abbreviated as SOFAR, has been putting together beautiful intimate shows all around the world. The secret to their success may just be that, a secret. They never reveal the location of the show until shortly before it begins. Attendees also don’t know who they came out to see until they are literally playing. It sounds strange considering we’re used to huge international marketing campaigns for massive music festivals. Even the smallest bands do the most they can to promote. SOFAR has captured something special that no PR firm can pay for, word of mouth.

I was told about this event from one of my fellow interns at KCSC. As I arrived at the address I was given about an hour prior, I was a little confused but definitely excited. I walked into the backyard of a beautiful home in Chico. The yard was decorated with twinkling lights all around. Soft music and excited chatter filled the air of the space. Blankets were thrown out across the yard along with various stools and chairs for people to snuggle up on this cool March night. It was announced right before the first act came on that this was supposed to be an intimate and quite show. Little to no phone use and no talking to the people around you. Everyone who was there was to take a break from all that, sit back and just enjoy the music.

Each act that came out was an absolute pleasure. MAWD started the show with her eccentric and bubbly energy and beautiful voice. Her poppy folk music set the tone for the rest of the artists we were to shear that night. Next up was Kyle Williams and his tiny guitar. He began every song with a touching story and followed with an even more touching display of his amazing acoustic talents. Last, but definitely not least, was the hilariously charming John Craigie. His dry, simplistic humor was complimented by his simplistic approach to the guitar and harmonica. His relatable jokes made the whole crowd laugh and his folky tunes kept everyone’s ears occupied.

All in all, it was such a special moment between music and the people there to appreciate it. SOFAR captured the lost art of intimate moments and served it right to everyone in that room. I think the best aspect of the whole event was that people were there just too genuinely enjoy music. There were no headliners and no special effects. Just a small intimate crowd and some songs from a room.

Written and reviewed by: Taylor Kurupas

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