Brandon Soderberg



  • BJ The Chicago Kid

    BJ the Chicago Kid: R&B Young Lion Spans Soulful Styles With a Spiritual Passion

    Who: Recent Motown signee Bryan Sledge, an A-student of '70s soul with a defiantly confessional hip-hop streak, as heard loud and clear on last year's ambitious Pineapple Now & Laters. "My aggression comes from hip-hop," he explains, "even the way I pronounce my words." And he's learning from the best, most emotive MCs, too, frequently collaborating with Kendrick Lamar, and stealing Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's 2012 single, "Shame." His stage name, BJ the Chicago Kid, shows his dedication to a talking point—a hometown that shoves him into city savior role. "What's being displayed [in the media] is only the negative," he says. "There's so much good going on in [Chicago] that's not being portrayed." Example?

  • Gucci Mane in 'Spring Breakers'

    No Trivia's Friday Five: Rating Gucci Mane's 'Spring Breakers' Performance, Chief Keef is Free

    This the first installment of the new Friday Five, a weekly rundown of five things that made rap music really interesting this week. Bentley's Verse on ST 2 Lettaz's "Wasted Youth": Ex-G-Sider ST 2 Lettaz's solo album G: Growth & Development certainly delivers on the promise of both growth and development. It finds the Huntsville rapper branching out a bit, mining an interest in early '90s boom-bap — though it is thankfully cut with the Block Beattaz' dirty South molly stomp — penning a honest-to-God relationship rap, and continuing to wrestle with the reality that an Internet rap career can crumble any minute. He sounds comfortable and hey, good for him. However, G lacks the post-rock sprawl of G-Side (and ST's excellent 2012 EP, R.E.B.E.L.); that song-to-song lots-of-feelings build-up that defined the group.

  • Gucci Mane

    Rap Songs of the Week: Gucci Mane Can Act, Gucci Mane Can Sing, Gucci Can Do Anything!

    We're changing things up. From here on out, look for our weekly round-up of the best rap songs on Wednesday. The "Friday Five" will focus on the five most exciting rap things of the week — be it a mixtape, a guest verse, a music video, or some World Star Hip-Hop debacle too incredible to not acknowledge. Stay tuned.Fat Tony feat. Kool A.D.

  • Dead Wrong: 16 Years of Picking Biggie's Bones

    Dead Wrong: 16 Years of Picking Biggie's Bones

    As of today, it's been 16 years since rapper the Notorious B.I.G. passed away, after he was shot and killed in Los Angeles. The murder that has yet to be solved, which is infuriating. Hip-hop has moved on, grafting endless tributes to one of the greatest to ever do it, learning something resembling a lesson about off-the-mic beef, and most importantly, locating endless ways to dig up his corpse and cash-out a little bit.The three biggest "Biggie's dead" products (George Tillman Jr.'s biopic Notorious, and the posthumous albums Born Again and Duets: The Final Chapter) aren't included on this list because they mostly just freeze the rapper in time. What's far more interesting are those moments when hip-hop — or better yet, some canny, obnoxious, occasionally well-meaning outsider — takes something from B.I.G.

  • Tree/ Shady Blaze

    First Spin: Rad Reef's 'New No Wave' Compilation

    Released by Rad Reef, the Bay Area collective fronted by producer/rapper/video director/pot advocate Zachg, New No Wave culls together Internet rappers and beatmakers like Little Rock's Pepperboy, Lil B favorite Keyboard Kid, fast-rapping Main Attrakionz pal Shady Blaze, Austin weirdo Western Tink, and many, many more. And despite the multitude of rap personalities bouncing all around on this compilation, it legitimately feels of one piece. It's a survey of hip-hop's oddballs with one thing in common: They don't fit anywhere else and they're pretty cool with that. There are plenty of bloggy rappers gaming the system and organically (but totally not organically) breaking through on one level or another, but what could anyone really do commercially with a Tom Waits-voiced screamer like Tree or the Odd-Futuristic Miami Tumblr maniacs Metro Zu, anyway?

  • Macklemore

    Macklemore on 'SNL': This Guy's Not Going Anywhere

    This season of Saturday Night Live has brought a couple of genuinely compelling performances. There was the usually bugged-out Kendrick Lamar slowing things down for “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and then smooth-jazzing “Poetic Justice;” and Justin Bieber, who is gunning for Justin Timberlake's spot, doing an acoustic version of “As Long as You Love Me,” and “Nothing Like Us” with a futuristic old-timey microphone.

  • The Foreign Exchange

    First Spin: The Foreign Exchange's 'The Last Fall (Focus... +FE Experience Remix)'

    The Foreign Exchange began as an online collaboration between rapper Phonte Coleman and producer Nicolay Rook, then a budding producer in the Netherlands. 2004's Connected was ambitious (check out the Bing Crosby sample on “Let's Move”), though in-the-pocket underground hip-hop project. Since then, though, Nicolay moved to the States and the Foreign Exchange evolved into a brooding art-soul project; alt-R&B before such a thing really was getting any attention. Meanwhile +FE Music, the Foreign Exchange's label has expanded beyond the group, putting out projects from future R&B-er Yahzarah, wizened rapper Median, soul eccentric Zo!, singer-songwriter Jeanne Jolly, and others.

  • Louie V Mob

    No Trivia's Friday Five: Master P's Louie V Mob is Fantasy League Rap Come to Life

    Did you watch Life Is But a Dream, the Beyoncé documentary? Of course you did. Well, there's an interesting sequence of events in which  Beyoncé, who is so famous that she's supposed to start pushing that whole self-made myth, instead addresses the still-ridiculous reality that women make less money than men. Obviously, that affords men way more resources and ways to control how women are presented. Around the same time in the documentary, you get to hear Bey stridently but politely tell her crew that they are fucking up big time. Not long after that, you get footage of choreographer Frank Gaston Jr. freaking out at the dancers for not gluing their hats to their heads to hold them in place. It's a moment of contrast, a subtle one really, that presents someone being cool, calm, and collected, and contrasts it with a moment of candid frustration.

  • Nicki Minaj

    Nicki Minaj on 'American Idol,' Week Six: Minaj vs. Iovine

    Let's just get this out of the way because at this point, the show is in full-on competition mode and these contestants actually kind of matter. Wednesday night's show narrowed the women contestants down to Tina, Kree, Angela, Amber, and Adriana. Thursday night's show gave us these dudes, in the end: Devin, Charlie , Elijah, Curtis, and Paul. Okay, the actually interesting stuff.You really can't underestimate how important Nicki Minaj is for American Idol, this year. She's the only breathing judge, and just when you you thought that fact couldn't become more palpable, Jimmy Iovine entered the picture.

  • Mykki Blanco / Photo by Timothy Saccenti

    Mykki Blanco: New York Rapper Echoes Tricky, Riot Grrrl, and Master P

    Who: Mykki Blanco, real name Michael Quattelbaum, is a fast-rapping MC who reaches the wigged-out heights of Lil Wayne at his mid-2000s creative peak (the manic "Riot"), taps into the chant-rap fury of Atlanta clubs ("Virginia Beach") and does it wearing a wig and women's clothing. "Drag kind of, like, polarizes people's minds," Blanco says, "Once you put that into [a performance], they don't see anything else." Quite simply, "Mykki Blanco" is "a stage name," no different than Dwayne "Lil Wayne" Carter, or ex-corrections officer William Roberts transforming into coke-rap superhero Rick Ross.Just Another City Kid: On the mixtape Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss, released last month, blazed-out rhymes combine with off-kilter dance production from Sinden, Brenmar, and Gatekeeper with just enough of the snaps, claps, and grind of the radio.

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