Brandon Soderberg

writer

Biography

  • Blu Nottz 'Gods In The Spirit' Album Stream

    Stream Blu & Nottz's Treble-Heavy Epic 'Gods in the Spirit'

    Blu and Nottz are a wild combination. The Los Angeles rapper and the Norfolk, Virginia beatmaker both sit on the curve of where traditionalist-leaning hip-hop (meaning, fervid spitting and knotty, sample-based beats) is headed right now: away from in-the-pocket '90s worship toward something more insular and bizarre. For Blu, it means carving out a singular, circuitous career that since 2007's Below the Heavens with Exile, has zigged when it should have zagged, resulting in unpredictable, often lo-fi projects like 2011's j e s u s that reward lots of listens and exude a kind of hard-headed integrity. Nottz is an attentive sample-chopper in the style of production peers Just Blaze and Dipset soul-screamers The Heatmakerz.

  • August Alsina's 'I Luv This Shit': A Drink-and-Drug Jam With Something at Stake

    August Alsina's 'I Luv This Shit': A Drink-and-Drug Jam With Something at Stake

    Rap and R&B radio is rough right now, guys. When it isn't being squashed from both sides by the blindingly awkward whiteness represented by either suave douchebaggery overstaying its welcome (see Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke) or aristocratic pop-trolling (see Miley Cyrus), it's caught in an endless loop of the same few songs: Jay Z's tepid rap ballad "Holy Grail" and trap fascimile "Tom Ford"; J. Cole's tedious, condescending "Crooked Smile"; and Drake's great-sounding, also condescending "Hold On, We're Going Home." Though every once in a while, if you're lucky, Ciara's still-charged “Body Party” and Rich Homie Quan's brilliantly emotive “Type of Way” pop up.An elegant sore thumb in these played-out playlists is August Alsina's "I Luv This Shit," featuring Trinidad Jame$ and currently sitting at No. 16 on Billboard's Hot Hip-Hop/R&B chart. (It's also No.

  • Chief Keef

    Rap Songs of the Week: Chief Keef's Slurring Smartphone Shout-Out 'Emojis'

    Black Milk ft. Tone Trezure, "Black Sabbath"Imagine an "I got tha' ice in me"-style, 20-tokes-too-many take on D'Angelo's already fairly zooted Voodoo, and you're close to the deconstructed J. Dilla rhythms and sliced-up neo-soul swirls waddling through this druggy vamp from Black Milk's latest, No Poison, No Paradise. You can also hear the D-town techno squelch and throb of Cybotron, and in a ghostly mess of wordless vocals, something like a copy of a copy of a copy of Motown's weary yet life-affirming melodies.

  • Kendrick Lamar and TDE

    Kendrick Lamar's Verse at the BET Hip-Hop Awards Is the Best Thing He's Done This Year

    The BET Awards cypher is, in part, a necessary nod to hip-hop traditionalism, where the ability to rap very well remains a touchstone. But it's also an apologia for the garbage the station airs the other 364 days of the year, as well as emblematic of a strange, recent trend to turn the art of "lyricism" into a marketing tool. By isolating technically adept off-the-dome or ("off-the-dome") hip-hop, it has the effect of, well, ghettoizing lyricism as a niche, a token element of the culture, dragged out for some cred points and nothing else.

  • Hear Shadowrunners' Self-Titled, Self-Loathing Tough Nerd Opus

    Hear Shadowrunners' Self-Titled, Self-Loathing Tough Nerd Opus

    Rapper Himself the Majestic and producer Froskees make up Shadowrunners. They create aggressive, declarative hip-hop usually backed by Memphis-tinged production that connects the sonic dots between the skittering electronics of buck/crunk music and the fluttering synth squeaks of old video games. They're also close pals with San Jose sad-rap teddy bear (with a heart full of hate rapper) Antwon, and Himself has some of 'Twon's vulnerability for sure.

  • Miley Cyrus performing on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon'

    Rap Songs of the Week: Miley Cyrus and Future Fracture Ben E. King on 'My Darlin''

    Crime Mob, "Call It Like You Wanna"Atlanta teen crunk crew Crime Mob arrived in 2004 with "Knuck If You Buck," a pinnacle for punch-you party tracks in an era full of 'em (it was the year crunk broke, after all). Their not-so-secret weapon was the reedy, readied rapping of Diamond and Princess, fast-spitting female rappers who ran circles around industrial-bent beats. The group's 2007 follow-up, Hated on Mostly, let in a little more air without compromising, but it also had to face down an aggro-averse hip-hop world suddenly scared of what the group did. Not to mention that member Killa C was arrested for child molestation in 2005, and Diamond for slashing a woman's face with a knife in 2007.

  • Quelle Chris Super Fuck video

    Watch Quelle Chris' Outrageous, Animated 'Super Fuck' Video

    When Quelle Chris isn't collaborating with Danny Brown (he produced The Hybrid's "Guitar Solo" and a few others, as well as XXX's "Monopoly" and "EWNESW"), the Detroit producer/rapper maintains a strange solo career with one foot in boom-bap traditionalism and the other in puckish, eccentric joke rap. On "Super Fuck," off the upcoming Ghost At the Finish Line, Quelle riffs on alpha male hip-hop. A hard, rubbery bassline and even harder drums (and a parrot squawk) ground an out-there goof off rap about sex-as-workout. So file "Super Fuck" with Quelle tracks like the absurdist "Rat Shit," another goofy take on the "ratchet" phenomenon (and something of a tribute to Ladainian "Hood rat shit with my friends" Tomlinson) or the Fern Gully-sampling "Screw Los Angeles" instrumental, "L.A.

  • Pusha T / Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images

    Pusha T's 'My Name Is My Name' Is Too Ambitious to Fail

    When the Clipse finally dissolved after a decade-plus as critical darlings and major-label hostages (those situations often being synonymous before the Internet Rap Renaissance), felled by the disappointing street/boardroom half-compromise of 2009's 'Til the Casket Drops, the two MCs headed off in radically different directions. Malice morphed into Christian rapper No Malice; meanwhile, Pusha T went for it, linking up with Kanye West as a self-serious cog in the busy G.O.O.D. Music machine. His subsequent solo work (mixtapes Fear of God and Wrath of Caine, plus the 2011 album Fear of God II: Let Us Pray) felt joyless and perfunctory, lacking in his crafty punch-line spark.

  • Takeoff & Quavo of Migos

    Migos Made It: The Aspirational Significance of 'Versace'

    Two months after Drake deigned to remix Migos' "Versace" from the Young Rich Niggas mixtape, pushing the already-buzzing group closer to the mainstream (and inspiring dozens of remixes), a video for the song has finally arrived. The timing is strange and perhaps a little "late" by Internet-scouring rap standards, but it speaks to the Atlanta trio's confidence. Or maybe they just finally scraped up a proper budget to represent this gleefully monotonous fashion-shout-out track?The video for "Versace" is over-the-top decadent: Set in a Jay Gatsby-big mansion, it features an unrestrained tiger (who gracefully runs down marble steps), an oversized chess set, a twerk-joke interlude that somehow crams in the strange spaghetti Western beat to less ubiquitous Migos hit "Hannah Montana," and of course, lots and lots of Versace clothing.

  • Cam'ron

    Rap Songs of the Week: Cam'ron Creepily Aims for Internet Relevance on 'Instagram Catfish'

    Cam'ron ft. Sen City, "Instagram Catfish"Wherein Killa Cam gets Internet topical over a sorta-tropical production (it sounds like something off Le1f's sensuous Tree House) that deals with the very curent and totally awkwarddddd phenomenon of people you meet on the Internet misrepresenting what they really look like. "You lied when you said, 'No filter, baby," Cameron Giles tells the um, disappointing young woman when he meets her at the airport, which nearly qualifies as letting her down easy, right? Then again, it's not actually all that different from the lonely hearts turned self-righteous nincompoops of MTV's Catfish, because pretty much every encounter on that show breaks down when one of the two parties involved doesn't find the other physically attractive and then couches it in some "But you lied to me"-type shit, no?

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