Brandon Soderberg



  • Chance the Rapper / Photo by Gabriella DeGirolami

    Chance the Rapper, 'Acid Rap' (Self-Released)

    There are way too many ideas on Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap mixtape, but that's a good thing. Woozy, collage-like tracks don't stay one way for long, and lyrical conceits are held together by impulsive tangents and "woah, dude" thought experiments. On "Everybody's Something," a quasi-romantic though mostly real-talk evaluation of how and why we learn to care for one another, the 20-year-old Chicagoan mentions that God doesn't seem to answer his calls, imagines Jesus' Twitter account, wonders if he would even bother to follow that Twitter account, and while you're catching up with that Web 2.0 faith crisis, reminds you of his hometown's hallowed blues tradition. Then he zings the Rolling Stones for being mad late on co-opting that stuff.His new mixtape's best moments gain their power from such good-idea/bad-idea indulgences and batty risk-taking.

  • chris kelly kriss cross obituary

    Chris Kelly, Mac Daddy of Teen Rap Duo Kris Kross, Dead at 34

    Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly — who, with Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith, formed the early '90s teenaged rap group Kris Kross — was found dead in his Atlanta home Wednesday, May 1. His cause of death is unknown at this time, but the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office told reporters an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday. Kelly was just 34.An early experiment by Jermaine Dupri, who would go on to a successful career producing youth rap (see also Da Brat, Lil Bow Wow), Kris Kross were fitted with street-pop production and a goofy conceit. Yes, they wore their shirts and pants backwards, but they actually managed to do a whole lot with that.

  • Chance the Rapper

    No Trivia's Rap Songs of the Week: Chance the Rapper Calls Out 'That Fool Matt Lauer'

    Chance the Rapper, feat. Nate Fox & Lili K. "Pusha Man""Pusha Man" is two songs (maybe even three) working off that Kendrick Lamar-specific mix of empathy and frustration from the first-person perspective of a d-boy. The first song's a light chest-beating boast, complete with "nah nah nah nah" taunts, mocking those living the straight and narrow. The second song is more somber and insular, tapping into the existential vacuum that is hustling: "I was riding around with my blunt on my lips / With the sun in my eyes and my gun at my hip / Paranoia on my mind / Got my mind on the fritz." Then, in a surfer drawl that invokes Kool A.D. or some other arch stylist like that, he demands to know where the hell Matt Lauer is when it comes to covering the violence in his hometown of Chicago, and proves that he's adding to the Good Kid, M.A.A.D. city blueprint.

  • Rittz

    No Trivia's Rap Release of the Week: Rittz's 'The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant'

    Last August, Rittz signed to Tech N9ne's Strange Music Imprint. Strange is an independent label that's become massively successful with little assistance from the major-label system. It's often associated with the Insane Clown Posse's similarly DIY label Psychopathic Records and, indeed, there is some crossover, with Tech playing the Gathering of the Juggalos and frequently collaborating with ICP. If you wanted to understand Rittz's approach, too, well, he rests somewhere between Strange and Psychopathic: The dexterous, fast-rap, Geto Boys-loving intensity of Tech rubbing up against the goofball sincerity and the DGAF poor-white-boy-with-a-chip-on-his-shoulder nuttiness of Violent Jay and Shaggy 2 Dope.Consider Rittz's come-up, for a moment.

  • Gene the Southern Child/ Photo by Jameah Sullivan

    Stream Gene the Southern Child & Parallel Thought's 'Artillery Splurging'

    Artillery Splurging, from Muscle Shoals-based rapper Gene the Southern Child and New Jersey-based production bros Parallel Thought, is one of the year's best small-stakes rap albums. In particular, Parallel Thought's flattering though challenging production is very good at providing focus to on-the-cusp-of-great MCs. There's an aggressive, almost ridiculously soft feeling that assists Gene's mealy-mouthed, melody-packed raps.

  • De La Soul / Photo by Robbie Jeffers

    Rap Songs of the Week: De La Soul Get Cranky Gracefully

    De La Soul "Get Away (feat. the Spirit of the Wu)"De La Soul's brand new, totally oldhead track, "Get Away," samples the Wu Tang Forever skit "Intro" (the imminently quotable one that kicks off disc two and hypes up "Triumph") and proceeds to tell listeners what they are already know: Hip-hop sucks right now. At least, that's what you already know if you're checking for a new De La track in 2013, right? There is of course, some knotty levels of history to this song that keep it interesting: On Forever, when the RZA and GZA spoke out against "rap & bullshit," they were referencing the term De La had founded back in 1991, on De La Soul is Dead, so this is a nice nod back, more than 20 years later.

  • Tink & Beautiful Lou

    Watch Western Tink & Beautiful Lou's 'Drawn' Video

    Around this time last year, SPIN premiered the video for Western Tink & Beautiful Lou's "Fancy Schmancy," a lurching Terminator soundtrack-sounding rap with a video that included a stripper pole in the most dorm room-ish of apartments, complete with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles posters on the wall. This March, the duo's collaborative mixtape Mobbin' No Sobbin' was finally released. Worth the wait, it's one of 2013's strangest and best pieces of work.

  • Black Milk

    Rap Release of the Week: Black Milk's 'Synth or Soul'

    This novelty from Detroit producer Black Milk is an all-instrumental experiment in two styles of beatmaking: Electronics that nod to the guys-in-labcoats era of synthesized computer music, and good old-fashioned, always-stalwart soul-sampling. In the hands of lesser producers, this may have been just a cheap hard-drive dump, but Black Milk is one of the most sensitive producers still working in the world of "real hip-hop," today. He seems to be purging his old-head tendencies here, and moving further toward the post-true school underground fusion first perfected on his beat for Slum Village's "Reunion," back in 2004.Better yet, Black's vision for "synth" and "soul" beats gets blurry, so there's not that stark of a difference between the A-side and B-side.

  • From Simon Reinhardt's 'At the DJ Screw Museum'

    No Trivia's Friday Five: An Artisanal Tribute to DJ Screw

    1. Simon Reinhardt's At the DJ Screw Museum: Based on the Donald Barthelme short story "At the Tolstoy Museum," cartoonist Simon Reinhardt (who also runs the rap Tumblr, BASIC FACTS U SHOULD ALREADY KNOW) presents a screenprinted hip-hop dork fantasy that imagines an epic Screw museum with glass floors and giant war propaganda-sized images of the DJ and his pals. Meanwhile, Trae freestyles in the lobby, and syrup-sloshed attendees are whisked away by security. Reinhardt even finds room for some curt rap criticism: "I was listening to the 'Wanna Be a Baller' flow from Southside Still Holdin', the Fat Pat R.I.P. tape...Screw briefly mixed '25 Lighters' into the Original Lil' Troy beat. I was in awe of the song and its menace and mystery"; "Some people found his style annoying or boring...but to me it was vivid and mournful.

  • Juiceboxxx / Photo by Miri Matsufuji

    Watch Juiceboxxx's 'Pump It (Remix)' Video Featuring Antwon, Kool A.D., More

    Juiceboxxx's "Pump It Remix" is an Internet-rap posse-cut event. Antwon compares himself to Congolese baller Dikembe Mutombo and eventually rhymes the finger-wagging NBA center's name with um, "butthole"; Kool A.D delivers one of his deceptively brilliant,  half-assed, super-tight raps (see also, the recent "Hood Party" cut from Fat Tony). Speaking of Fat Tony, he expertly rides a thumping funk-beat change-up, and Issue does Issue, which, well, no one else on the planet can do, really. Finally, Juiceboxxx channels Check Your Head's sunny, silly, punch-you-in-the-face aggression. It's a gathering of people trying really hard not to sound like they're trying.

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