Record Label: Mello Music Group
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Four times a year the seasons change and carry a shift in atmosphere. The spring roars in on the wings of fertility. Summer consumes us with play before the heat fades, leaves change, and the first hints of autumn envelope us in a bold crisp chill. And then it all lays still, like a steady drum beating a silence that envelopes us in calm through the end of our annual cycle – winter. Washington DC producer & emcee Oddisee palpably captures each season’s feel and offers it up in a lively collection of beats, bass lines, vocal layers, and rhymes. Odd Seasons is the culmination of four separate seasonal EPs created over the course of a year featuring some of the brightest names in Hip Hop today. Widely followed by legions of fans as the project was being created, now, for the first time, all four seasons have been mixed, mastered, refined and polished in this deluxe edition of Odd Seasons.
Detroit’s Red Pill released his solo Mello Music debut album “Look What This World Did To Us” earlier this year. The record was striking because of it’s straight-forward, intellectually broken, Bukowski-like realism. The photos were serious, brooding, and the lyrics were heavy and genuine. Enter the Day Drunk EP. Red Pill starts on top of a clock-ticking, mind-mesmerizing, introductory track from UK producer Paul White. After a philosopher-king monologue, the Zen Buddhist meditative chant begins – “Don’t work, just party - you’ll be alright. Don’t try so hard. Just live your life.” But Pill never leaves you insightfully dumb, with lines like “I think we need a new religion / wound up, bound up in submission / getting lost in the mission / false definitions/ be causing derision / all these people talkin’ competition / all these people talkin’ is division…” And then the record gets green lit. You may recognize the next Alex Goose-produced track from Silicon Valley. Red Pill lays hardworking slacker ambition bare in one dumb, drunk, punch over the energetic beat. The song is as ludicrously lavish as Scorsese’s “Wolf Of Wall Street.” The album moves into happy-hour heartstrings unfurling with a song for those who’d rather stay inside, those who, “outside of their mind, don’t know what’s real.” This is for those who can never fall asleep without a helper, “a little gin and seltzer,” as Red Pill puts it. Blu joins the 3 o’clock session, laying bars over an Oddisee-produced, rainy kitchen window thought piece. But, like any good rap savior, Red Pill pulls us back up from the depths with Exile’s upbeat “Porn & Milk.” The Day Drunk EP is a record to wash away the feeling when your cash is gone. Today, Red Pill is on some “love life” shit. Bottoms up. Day Drunk begins now.
Mr. Lif brought hip-hop back in 2002. In an era wracked by warfare and rising economic inequality, the Boston MC helped restore a feeling that had drowned in the mainstream. The album—currently being re-issued by Mello Music Group—was called I Phantom. The message spoke to us all. Inspired by eloquent and irate predecessors like Public Enemy and KRS-One, the rapper born Jeffrey Haynes created arguably the most scathing indictment of life in the Bush era. Originally released on the seminal indie rap imprint Def Jux, Lif’s debut LP was instantly hailed as a classic. The dean of American critics, Robert Christgau lauded its “conceptual ambition [and] detailed knowledge of what it's like to work a job and raise a family", and found it to be "underpinned by an analysis more Boots Riley than Talib Kweli or Steve Earle.” Rolling Stone raved that the album was "graceful" and that Lif was "a rapper as incisive as early-Nineties X-Clan…and far more crucial in these depoliticized times." But the record’s true impact can’t be measured by only critical praise. It’s longevity is more accurately gauged in terms of the hundreds of thousands inspired—the voiceless and disenfranchised for whom I Phantom spoke loud and clear—those sick of their soul-sucking corporate jobs, who gained new strength from Lif’s parables attacking the poisons of exploitive daily existence. “After all those years of being a fan of hip-hop, I knew that when I had a chance to step up and make my own actual album, I wanted it to be special,” Lif remembers. “When I’m writing any songs for any album, I’m always considering what it’s going to sound like in 25 years. I ask myself, am I listening to the aspects of life that are real and true enough to still resonate a quarter century later? I’m glad this still does.” If the definition of a hip-hop classic is a record that defines its time, but also updates the blueprint for the genre to go forward, then I Phantom succeeds on both fronts. It captures the jittery anxiety and woe of the benighted early 00s and also offered a guide for political rap in the post-millennium. Featuring production from El-P and guest raps from El-Producto, Aesop Rock, Akrobatik and Jean Grae, Lif’s first record captures the raw spirit of the first underground boom. More specifically, it distills the intangible rush that surrounded the proceedings. “The camaraderie was also what made I Phantom so special. I would basically go live at El-P’s and my roommate at the time was Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox,” Lif reminisces. “The studio was on the basement level of the apartment and all of us would wake up in the morning, play Madden, and make music. We were just so excited to be building this thing and really wanted to step up and deliver our best work.” The proof is in the Phantom. Lif created a high concept burner that survives the test of time. In Lif’s words, it’s an “exploration of the dynamics of everyday life, and the pursuit of our dreams, in a rapidly decaying society.” In everyday terms, it’s a masterpiece.
Limited edition picture disc, limited to 1,000 copies. Semi Hendrix is the acid inside the headband and the fork inside the electric socket. It’s hard-core hip-hop, furious voltage spiked with funk and soul. It’s political and street, cerebral and reckless. It’s Jack Splash and Ras Kass running roughshod over everything from economic inequality to racist government policy to your girl. The album title is Breakfast at Banksy’s. Consider it the rare soundtrack for the revolution and the party. The duo formed following Splash’s world tour with his underground cult funk band, Plantlife. Upon its conclusion, the 10-time Grammy-nominated producer and three-time winner decided to leave Miami in favor of Los Angeles. For the native Angeleno, this was where it all began. He’d seen incredible success over the previous decade, producing for Cee-Lo, Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, and a slew of others. But he wanted to return to his roots and make a pure hip-hop album, a passion project with no input from industry types. “I decided that if I was going to make true art, then I needed to work with the best of the best…the Picasso of the West Coast,” says Splash. “And everyone who comes from LA knows that it doesn't get any better than Ras Kass.” If you’re unfamiliar with the Waterproof MC, you need to stop reading this and listen to Soul on Ice, Rasassination, and any of the tracks bodied by the Golden State Warriors (Ras, Saafir and Xzibit). Once you’ve done that, you understand why the Carson-bred rap beast is one of the coldest MCs to ever hypnotize an audience. But neither Splash nor Ras has even done anything quite like Semi Hendrix—probably because no one has ever done anything quite like Semi-Hendrix. It’s a warped psychedelic odyssey glimpsed via two brilliant minds in a crooked world. Produced entirely by Splash, the instrumentals recall classic genre-liquefying experiments like DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing and Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde. You can file Semi Hendrix somewhere between Gnarls Barkley and Run the Jewels. Faded acid-washed freak-outs fade out from raunchy comedy clips. There are shredding guitar solos and nimble funk lines. Meanwhile, Ras Kass spits flames about Brooklyn hipsters, greedy record labels, and Capitalist inequality. He interweaves Thomas Paine’s anti-Colonial tract, Common Sense with the rapper born Lonnie Lynn. In the course of four bars, he’ll slip in references to Biz Markie, Star Trek, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway. The intellect is staggering, but never self-serious. He’ll go from talking about squirters to indicting “Stop and Frisk” policy. The sound is kaleidoscopic. Nothing is sacred. Guest spots include Brothers Voodoo, Cee-Lo and Raheem DeVaughn, Teedra Moses, Kurupt, Montego Meli, Alice Russell, Wrekonize, and Jessica. But for all its virtuosity, this is 100 percent raw. If you wanted to know who Semi Hendrix are, the answer is simple: they’re the wildest style.
Album description forthcoming.