Brandon Soderberg



  • Ask Kevin Gates about his cavities.

    Kevin Gates, 'Stranger Than Fiction' (Bread Winners Association) Review

    Kevin Gates' sprawling February mixtape The Luca Brasi Story ended with "IHOP (True Story)," an Iceberg Slim-style storytelling rap about how even a meal at a busted breakfast chain can contort into a grim setting for revenge. Backed by nothing but a light, percussive smack — presumably, the rapper himself slapping his chest as he aggressively delivers the story — Gates implicates himself in the crime, with a mix of blunt reportage and too-much-to-bear regret: "Back was turned the whole time, little brother ran up and murked him / Issuing him two to the dome and worked him with the chrome / Until this day, I can say I set him up and he gone."Stranger Than Fiction, the Baton Rouge MC's latest pathos-soaked take on radio-friendly street rap, begins with "4 Legs and a Biscuit," a similarly breathless tale that uses food to ground sudden eruptions of violence in the quotidian.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Mario & Nicki Minaj's Mature Rap & B Ballad

    Rap Songs of the Week: Mario & Nicki Minaj's Mature Rap & B Ballad

    Clams Casino, "Drowning"So yesterday on Twitter, Geoff Rickly, he of epic New Brunswick screamo group Thursday, contrasted the ongoing Weeknd/Portishead sampling debacle (the former sampled the latter without permission, then denied it) with a much more heartening case of appropriation: It turns out that the tumbling-inside-itself vocal from one of Clams Casino's most claustrophobic tracks is a freaking Thursday sample (from "This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb," to get specific), and it only took two years for anybody to realize this, including the original vocalist himself. "I was already a fan and someone pointed it out to me," Rickly wrote. "Was happily surprised." Us too.Droop-E ft. Kendrick Lamar, "Rossi Wine"Droop-E released the Hungry & Humble EP this week.

  • Roach Gigz

    Roach Gigz and Iamsu! Spit Hot Fire on 'It's Lit'

    Bay Area rapper Roach Gigz acts as a kind of bridge between the rubbery rap of the the hyphy movement, and the more moody, minimalism of ratchet, or function music, which is slowly but surely taking over the radio right now. Roach's anthemic raps are catchy and he's an expert at sketching out a simple effective image in a way that's just askew enough to still be captivating. Listen here to the weird thrill in his voice as he describes something as simple as driving down the street in a new car. Guest Iamsu! sneaks in with a typically tossed off yet compelling and confident verse. He swirls his nice guy voice around the instrumental, becoming more in concert with the drums as he goes along.

  • Trayvon Martin

    Back to the Grill Again: Trayvon Martin in the Court of Public Opinion

    Within days of Trayvon Martin's killing at the hands of neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman, the 17-year-old's story became, in part, a story about how he looked and what he was wearing. This continued during George Zimmerman's trial, which ended on Saturday with Zimmerman being acquitted of murder, as well as manslaughter. Martin had been reduced to a handful of anecdotal sketches: He was wearing a hoodie; he was suspended from school for smoking marijuana; he posed for a photo sporting a grill and trying to look tough for the camera.

  • Asaad

    Rap's Most Slept-On Releases of 2013's Second Quarter

    Asaad - Cold Blue Highlights: “27,” “Next Megabus,” “Burn Tha Church/Family” RIYL: Earl Sweatshirt, Grande Marshall, Mike Leigh's Naked Nothing about this Philadelphia rapper makes sense: He's an awkward street-level spitter (in the mode of Meek Mill), who does a pretty sturdy Auto-Tune robot whine (in the key of Future), and has one of hip-hop's most virulent PR-killing, self-destructive streaks (see, the Tupac-banging-Biggie cover of his single “Boss Status”; plus his ongoing one-sided feud with Pusha T). And this cobbled-together, multiple-personality rap album has a Tim & Eric-esque cover and some of the most squishy boom-bap splat production going right now. Despite Asaad's publicity-grabby moves, his penchant for searing insight and unsentimental honesty isn't there to shock at all. It seems like it's all that's keeping him from going over the edge.

  • Doley Bernays

    Hear Doley Bernays' Devastating 'Till We Fall'

    Bronx rapper Doley Bernays, like so many of New York's savvy MCs right now, remains true to the city's teeth-gritting spitting tradition while also embracing styles from the outside world. On "Till We Fall," he somberly delivers real-talk honesty ("And I ain't saying sell drugs, but I'm saying it's faster/ And I ain't saying use guns, but I'm saying they'll back up"), but tempers it with a bigger-than-his-block worldview that finds a sliver of hope in acknowledging just how screwed up things are ("More shooters than doctors," he raps, frustrated).Produced by MP Williams of ReeLife (co-producer of A$AP Rocky's "Ghetto Symphony"), the maudlin beat waddles along. Half-inspirational, half-desperate piano and skittering, gut-punching drums capture the complexities of hustling.

  • Rap Songs of the Week: Jay-Z Resigns Himself to the Reality of Miley Cyrus Twerking

    Rap Songs of the Week: Jay-Z Resigns Himself to the Reality of Miley Cyrus Twerking

    Jay-Z "Somewhereinamerica"This track has the hoppity-hop-honk horns of Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and the polite piano-plink-plonk of Kanye West's Adam Levine of Maroon 5 collaboration "Heard 'Em Say," and Jay-Z isn't so much rapping here as he is talking pretty fast. Yet, it's still one of the most inspired tracks on Magna Carta Holy Grail. Mostly because it ends with Jay declaring, "Somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is twerking," on some absurdist alt-lit poetry-type shit. Some are reading it as a "diss" to Miley, but it seems more like Jay-Z, after a laundry list of his successes (implicitly symbolic of the possibilities any disenfranchised American could attain), shrugging because, nevertheless, the child of a mullet-rockin' country goofball from the '90s is a cos-playing rap-video stripper on YouTube.

  • Jay-Z: More Revealing as Tweeter or Rapper?

    Jay-Z: More Revealing as Tweeter or Rapper?

    On Tuesday, Jay-Z took to Twitter to answer questions from fans.

  • 'Kilt II' Deluxe Cover Art

    Hear Iamsu!'s Minimalist Monster 'Designer'

    Rappers and producers tend to heap a lot of praise on themselves: "best rapper alive," "G.O.A.T.," more Steve Jobs-ian ones like "visionary," and, in the case of Kanye West well, "a God." That's all part of the game. But Richmond, California's Iamsu!, a soulful sonic architect of ratchet music, has perhaps landed on the most apt descriptor of his strange take on immaculately produced, for-the-club hip-hop: designer."Designer," a statement of purpose for sure, takes '80s anime-style orchestration, pairs it with druggy effects, and then adds a lurching, stop-start style of rapping that proves just how aware 'Su is of every change-up in his beat. And he delivers head down, humble knowledge that so many of his rapping peers forget to include: "Raised in the Rich where you don't make it out / But if you believe that, then won't make it out."For a little while, Iamsu!

  • 'Run the Jewels' Cover Art

    Rap Release of the Week: Killer Mike & El-P's 'Run the Jewels'

    Run the Jewels, the new one from Killer Mike and El-P, may lack the ambition of Mike's R.A.P. Music (which flat-out gunned  for No. 1-noise-rap-classic It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back), but that's probably a good thing. Mike's realer-than-real-talk rapping and El-P's "What would a P.K. Dick novel sound like?"-like production remain, but the goal is something less cohesive and more raw-nerve fun: Two guys trading verses, trying to think of mean-mugging couplets and terse declarations about how fucked-up everything is, over inward-gazing Carpenter-drenched electronica.

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