lovecrisisjapan asked: did you seriously call spaceghostpurrp's beats "hollow"? that's absolutely blasphemous
They have this reedy, lo-fi quality to them. I didn’t use “hollow” to mean insubstantial or bad; I just think that they actually have a cavernous, hollow sound to them.
Lewis and his Blog July 2012 Mix
I returned from Spain a little too late last night to write this up yesterday, but late is better than never. Here is the latest installment in my Monthly Mix series — a 10 track recap of last month’s best new music. Stream this month’s installment below via 8tracks, and check out last month’s mix, as well as all the other mixes from this year, at the “Monthly Mix” tag.
1. The Mountain Goats - “Cry For Judas”
Just over a year after the release of their last album All Eternals Deck, The Mountain Goats are gearing up to release their new full length Transcendental Youth on October 2nd via Merge. Boasting a boisterous horn arrangement recalling Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Love’s “Alone Again Or,” lead single “Cry For Judas” is an exuberant exultation of self confidence in the face of doubt. “We are the ones who don’t slow down at all,” John Darnielle sings. With 15 studio albums under his belt as of October, Darnielle seems to be speaking the truth.
2. Fang Island - “Seek It Out”
Although Fang Island’s new album Major bears a more traditional sound than their mathy, intricate 2010 s/t, it’s no less joyous and resonant. Long standing live show favorite “Seek It Out” finally saw a release on the new record, and it stands out as a clear highlight, with distinctively brash guitars and a great singalong chorus. Major is out now on Sargent House.
3. Frank Ocean - “Sweet Life”
Frank Ocean has had quite a month, and it all kicked off with the surprise release of the “Sweet Life” single in early July. Upon its release, channel ORANGE proved to be something much bigger than any one single (or two, counting the lengthy “Pyramids” released in June) could suggest. Still, “Sweet Life” stands out in retrospect as the album’s singular summer jam, a cool, buttery slice of retro-futuristic R&B that is irresistibly fun on the surface but deeply troubled underneath.
4. Passion Pit - “Constant Conversations”
In his own awkward white boy way, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos explored similar territory to Frank Ocean on a handful of tracks from his emotionally wracked new LP Gossamer. “Constant Conversations” is one of the very few moments on which his creative approach succeeds, mostly because his forced lyrics and awkward overshares are covered up by the track’s silky smooth R&B atmosphere. On the whole, Gossamer has turned me from a passive Passion Pit fan to someone who’s not really much of a fan at all, but moments like “Constant Conversations” make me wish it hadn’t. Gossamer is out now on Columbia.
5. Wye Oak - “Spiral”
Baltimore duo Wye Oak veered from their well-hewn brand of guitar pounding on their new single “Spiral,” instead venturing into some disco-influenced electronic territory. True to its name, “Spiral” twists and twirls around over a looping guitar line, anchored by electronic beats and livened by Jenn Wasner’s reverberating vocals. This is the sound of a band having fun with a new sound, and it’s a pleasure to experience. “Spiral” is out now as part of Adult Swim’s singles series.
6. Aesop Rock - “Crows 1”
Aesop Rock’s new album Skelethon is excellent largely because of its intimate and personal nature. Aesop produced it himself, and the album features almost zero credited features. Still, even though I like the DIY approach, I can’t help but think that one of the album’s best tracks is the one that does feature another artist. Kimya Dawson’s rambling hook on “Crows 1” perfectly contrasts with and complements Aesop’s visceral flow, and adds a dark atmosphere to this highlight track. Skelethon is out now on Rhymesayers.
7. SpaceGhostPurrp - “The Black God”
In the bizarre and entertaining world of 2012 cloud rap, SpaceGhostPurrp exists as something of a villainous character. His beats are cheap, hollow, and tossed-off, while his raps are slow, dark, and mysterious. His image is similarly eerie. Even though there is a lot to dislike about the guy, I still find myself oddly compelled by his work, specifically the chilling, mantra-like track “The Black God,” which appears on his new record Mysterious Phonk. That album is out now on 4AD.
8. Daughn Gibson - “Ray”
Daughn Gibson’s debut album All Hell is a curious affair that probably couldn’t have come out at any other time. It’s part synth pop, part folk, with a heavy dose of country influence. He doesn’t always pull it off, but when he does, the results are fascinating. “Ray” recalls The Magnetic Fields’ country experiments on The Charm Of The Highway Strip, but with updated production. All Hell is out now on White Denim.
9. Samuel Bass - “The Gritty Smoke”
Samuel Bass is a teenaged singer/songwriter from Connecticut, but to unknowing ears, he could be a grizzled old man from the Yukon. His new album The Gritty Smoke is a shockingly mature debut, perhaps best represented by its haunting title track, which opens the record. For Bass, folk music is just as much about atmosphere as it is about lyrics, and “The Gritty Smoke” crafts a dark and dusty world of its own with eerie electric guitar, harmonica, and an omnipresent train whistle sample. Pick up The Gritty Smoke for free on bandcamp.
10. Joie De Vivre - “High School Me Would Have Been Pumped”
Joie De Vivre’s tale is a familiar story: Emo band puts out a great record (2010’s The North End), starts to get recognized, breaks up, and then reunites shortly thereafter. The only part of their story that is unusual is that they released another great record post-breakup. We’re All Better Than This is the name of the album, and of the many great songs present, the melancholically titled “High School Me Would Have Been Pumped” is probably my favorite. Of all the bands aping American Football these days, Joie De Vivre might be my favorite, just because they’re so unapologetically misanthropic. We’re All Better Than This is out now on Count Your Lucky Stars.
That’s it for this month! Check out all previous Monthly Mixes HERE and stream July’s mix above.
SpaceGhostPurrp - “The Black God” (Official Music Video)
Yesterday, Kanye West and Pusha-T released a new collaboration on Kanye’s website entitled “New God Flow.” Pusha-T delivers the first line — a typically prideful boast that would have felt perfectly at home on Kanye’s landmark 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
“I believe there’s a god above me, I’m just the god of everything else,” he spits.
After hearing that line and subsequently listening to the rest of the song, I was immediately brought back to a couple months ago, when a certain rapper of considerably lower commercial stature released a track that broached similar themes with a much subtler approach.
That rapper’s name is SpaceGhostPurrp, and he’s been kicking around the underground hip-hop circuit for some time now. I first heard of him a couple years ago when I met The New Yorker’s culture writer and former New York Times hip-hop critic Kelefa Sanneh, who championed his lo-fi beats and murky flow while digressing that he probably wouldn’t ever attain the level of buzz of his contemporaries such as Odd Future, who were just starting to become well known at the time. Spaceghost’s crime, Sanneh lamented, was that he was “too weird” for mainstream or even crossover rap success.
After listening to Mysterious Phonk, the new full length album from SpaceGhostPurrp, I can certainly agree that he’s weird, although this record is a little more streamlined than his earlier material. Much of SpaceGhost’s appeal lies in his weirdness, however, and the ways in which he openly defies standard hip-hop tropes and cliches. Although SpaceGhost frustratingly spends much of his time on Mysterious Phonk rapping about the various ways in which he likes to have sex with women, every once in a while he manages to transcend that familiar plane and reach something really fascinating that I haven’t yet heard from any of the other cloud rap luminaries in the scene right now.
Along with its accompanying music video, “The Black God” is one such track. The high-contrast clip forms an eerie complement to its stuttering, syrupy beat, produced by the rapper himself himself, and SpaceGhost’s droning, distorted vocals. His flow is slow and distant, reminiscent of A$AP Rocky’s, although SpaceGhost’s lyrics are much darker and his imagery more refined. He spits largely in abstractions, proffering a kind of Bizarro version of Lil B’s spacey, self-help truisms while maintaining an uncomfortable sense of impending danger. His music and persona is scary not in the way that the gangster rappers of the 1980s and ’90s once were, but rather in the way that David Lynch films are — subtle, uncanny, and just distorted enough from reality to put the listener or viewer on edge. And unlike Pusha T and Kanye, he’s not afraid to be more than a little sacrilegious. Ultimately, that’s refreshing.
Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpvcxxGhxztPvrrp is out now on 4AD. Watch the clip for “The Black God” above.