Hip Hop

Fishing Blues (CD)

On their seventh studio album, Fishing Blues, Minneapolis hip hop duo Atmosphere creates a mood that is looser, drunker, and more relaxed than ever before. They capture what it feels like to be an adult stuck in arrested development. Atmosphere's rapper, Slug, is resigned to the fact he is now an adult with kids and he relishes in it. The beats are goofy and rely on instruments that feel more at place on an indie rock album. Masterfully put together by producer Ant, guitars twang like Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western soundtracks, moog synths skip around on ska rhythms, and the drums are real drums, not drum machine samples. All distinctly weird choices considering the current state of hip hop. "Ringo" is steeped in adolescent restlessness as he makes a whole song about his own immaturity. He cracks jokes about getting too drunk, dealing with a beer belly, and getting too crazy to the point of self-destruction. And to drive the joke home, he repeats "Everyone loves seeing a falling star." As self-deprecating as music gets! "No Biggie," which feels like a lost P-Funk jam from the '80s with piercing synths and shredding guitar, is the yin to "Ringo's" yang. While "Ringo" relishes in immaturity, the criticism of his own navel-gazing behavior and the people who bring him down are as clear as day. If you feel like you are out of step with hip hop today, Fishing Blues might be the remedy.

Read more
The Mountain Will Fall (CD)

On The Mountain Will Fall, DJ Shadow’s first album in five years, the groundbreaking hip-hop/electronica producer proves he’s still one of the most forward-thinking artists in the game. The atmospheric, instrumental title track opens the album with dreamy, futuristic vibes before launching into the funk-inflected “Nobody Speak,” which features Run the Jewels. German ambient/modern classical composer and producer Nils Frahm makes an appearance on “Bergschrund,” where spaced out washes of sound meet hyperactive textures and beats. The LP finds Shadow pushing the limits even further on his own original compositions, but of course half the fun is guest appearances from the previously mentioned artists, as well as avant grade electro dude Bleep Bloop, bass-heavy experimentalist G. Jones, and bright young UK jazz trumpeter Matthew Halsall.

Read more