Brandon Soderberg

writer

Biography

  • 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.

  • Grande Marshall/ Photo by Shanty Dorm

    Rap Release of the Week: GrandeMarshall's 'Mugga Man'

    Philadelphia-born, Fool's Gold-signed rapper GrandeMarshall's new mixtape Mugga Man nods to a number of still-effective, though well-worn rap styles, without narrowcasting, pandering, or just sitting there getting all fat and comfortable on immediate nostalgia.

  • Diddy

    No Trivia's Friday Five: Diddy Performed at 'Wrestlemania,' Enough Said, Right?

    There's a new Jay-Z song out about Cuba or something? Don't even worry about it, though. We've got RiFF RAFF out-Franco-ing James Franco, Diddy hanging out with the wrestling riff-raff, a Drake and Amanda Bynes mini-comic, an Antwon fan shredding on a bass guitar, and the quiet return of Mannie Fresh.1. RiFF RAFF Is Going to Be on a Soap Opera: Is RiFF RAFF seeking the ultimate revenge on James Franco and Spring Breakers for not properly crediting him? Yes, the character of Alien isn't entirely jacked from the absurdist sincerity of Jody Highroller, but the moviemakers' decision to downplay his importance to the characterization is unfortunate.

  • Dawn Richard

    Rap Songs of the Week: Dirty Money Lives On!

    Nice to see Kalenna, the other member of Diddy's Dirty Money project showing up on a radio-ready song with Rich Boy (who also hasn't really gotten the second chance he deserves). And Dawn Richard returns the major-label cast-off favor by spotlighting Eve! Meanwhile, Tyga panders, James Blake gets in over his head with the RZA, and a should-be-buzzing producer, Tony Gardner, puts himself in front of the mic.Dawn Richard, feat. Eve "Northern Lights (Remix)""Northern Lights," from Richard's album Goldenheart, now featuring Eve, is like a gathering of the perpetually underrated. Richard, formerly of Danity Kane and Diddy Dirty-Money, is making some of the most fulgent R&B right now, though it neither codes as "alt" or "mainstream," and as a result doesn't grab that many ears.

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