Brandon Soderberg



  • The Field, 'Looping State of Mind' (Kompakt)

    The Field, 'Looping State of Mind' (Kompakt)

    Sample-slicing producer Axel Wilner followed up the mini-Moroder intensity of 2007 debut From Here We Go Sublime with 2009's Yesterday & Today, a much-too-considered-for-the-dance-floor sea change that wasn't quite beautiful enough to stand on its own. His latest nods back to his earlier style ("It's Up There," "Arpeggiated Love"), but even when it does ease up and get all contemplative (the syrupy, modern-classical groove of "Then It's White," enigmatic album-ender "Sweet Slow Baby"), the results are even more immersive than the stuttering microhouse rhythms on which he built his reputation originally.

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    J Cole's Starry Eyes vs. Phonte's Long View

    Phonte Coleman, one half of electronic R&B duo the Foreign Exchange, and formerly of defunct Durham, North Carolina, rap group Little Brother, declares at the start of his solo debut Charity Starts At Home: "I do this all for hip-hop." Then he pauses and laughs, "I'm lying like shit, I do this for my goddamn mortgage." The album title makes clear that lofty goals like changing the world, one conscious rhyme at a time, have been replaced with something more practical.

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    Blowfly: Hip-Hop's Dirty, Weird Uncle

    According to the costumed, foul-mouthed parodist Blowfly, he "invented" rap music almost 50 years ago. He reminds viewers of this fact throughout Jonathan Furmanski's documentary The Weird World Of Blowfly (in select theaters, and streaming on Amazon and iTunes), even dissing some early rappers (he refers to Kurtis Blow as "Kurtis Blow Job") while receiving co-signs from a couple of legendary MCs. Ice-T calls Blowfly a "master" and Public Enemy's Chuck D praises the filthy Miami soulster's trangressive comedy as "futuristic," even citing it as partial inspiration for "Fight The Power." Since the late 1960s, Blowfly has been creating filthy versions of popular hits -- Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" became "Shittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" -- and that certainly had an impact on the evolution of rap, but it doesn't add up to inventing a genre.

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    Track by Track: 'Watch the Throne' Pt. 2

    The second half of Watch The Throne is where the album really starts to come together, and where Jay and Kanye's rapper-rich provincial worldview begins to fall apart. The production gets darker and more emotive, and the rhymes, song by song, shift from boasts of wealth (with the occasional poignant, political aside), to a more wizened focus (inner-city violence, the paranoia fame creates, and a nagging sense that things are pretty bad all around). All the while, the Throne further an argument for redemption through capitalism that seems more dubious as the album goes on.Go Back and Read Part 1: Tracks 1-6>> 1. No Church in the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean)2. Lift Off (feat. Beyoncé)3. Niggas in Paris4. Otis (feat. Otis Redding)5. Gotta Have It6. New Day7. That's My Bitch8. Welcome to the Jungle9. Who Gon Stop Me10. Murder to Excellence11. Made in America (feat.

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    SPIN's Track-by-Track Take on 'Watch the Throne'

    Jay-Z and Kanye West's collaborative album Watch The Throne is finally in stores. August 12 also marks the day that the painter Jean Michael Basquiat died, 23 years ago. It's an oddly appropriate time for a money-grubbing, deeply considered, pop-art rap album full of shiny, expensive message-music to drop. When it was released on iTunes Monday, with the reality of the United States' lowered credit rating sinking in, plus the riots in England, Watch The Throne was criticized by many for being tone-deaf and out-of-step. But despite Jay and Kanye's wealth-signifying shout-outs, their swaggering, money-burning attitude is delicately woven into an affecting, pointed exploration of success that's freaking massive and also a lot of fun to listen to. This week and next, I'll explain why, track by track. 1. No Church in the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean) 2. Lift Off (feat.

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    Kreayshawn's White Girl Mob & The N-Word

    Rule number one for white rappers, and shit, man, white people in general: Don't say the n-word! Just don't. Not exactly sure where this white-rapper compulsion to utter "nigga" comes from, but the latest violator of what should be a pretty obvious rule is V-Nasty. She's a member of the White Girl Mob -- a group that revolves around Oakland MC Kreayshawn, who's responsible for the viral hit "Gucci Gucci," which is nearing nine million views on YouTube. Kreayshawn has stated that she doesn't use the n-word in her raps (although she did tweet it), and according to a rant on her Tumblr, intends to separate herself from V-Nasty: "[V-Nasty's use of the n-word] has taken a huge toll on what I been trying to do and what I been trying to push.

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    Kanye and Jay-Z Debut Epic, Reflective Album

    There was a mysterious Eyes Wide Shut feeling to Monday night's listening party for Kanye West and Jay-Z's much-anticipated Watch the Throne collaborative album. After handing over any and every device that could possibly record audio or video, an excited clump of writers, rappers, models, and nebulous industry types filed into the Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York's Museum of Natural History for an hour and a half of sipping champagne, waiting, noshing (shouts to that potato-pancake thing with maple syrup or something on it), and more waiting. Then suddenly, everyone began climbing a staircase and moving towards an elevator, which took us to a dimly lit museum floor (illuminated only by TVs showing a Watch The Throne documentary).

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    The Rap on Kurt: Hood Pass 4 Life

    In April, prankishCanadian video interviewer Nardwuar the Human Serviette handed Lil Wayne a copy of the book Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind and asked about Nirvana's influence on the rapper. "When I was young, they had a television station called the Box," Wayne recalled. "And you used to call the station and order a video, and 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' used to always be on, and you had no choice but to get into it from there." As Nevermind became an undeniable phenomenon and Cobain a reluctant grunge poster child, the rapper born Dwayne Carter was in elementary school, pondering Nirvana's cryptic, mumbled songs and developing his own oblique, free-associative style. But this type of '90s genre crossing wasn't odd; it was the experience of an entire generation.

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    The Best Rap Songs of the Year... So Far

    Cities Aviv, a Memphis rapper pretty much ignored by the blogosphere, called his debut album Digital Lows (available for free on Bandcamp). That phrase, "digital lows," sounds like a pop medical term for the feeling one gets during hour three of Tumblr page-downs or the 416th Facebook photo of an ex you've stared at instead of closing the laptop and going to sleep. Or maybe it's the overwhelming feeling that happens after you've thought long and hard about hip-hop and the Internet and tried to break down a hype machine that bounces from Odd Future (are they still cool?) to Kreayshawn, briefly pauses to celebrate the release of a Big Sean album, and then claims that someone named SpaceGhostPurrp is the dude about to blow. Tuesday night, I got an email from a guy who claims the beat for Lil Wayne's "How To Love" was stolen from him. First of all, dude's beat was not jacked.

  • Curren$y, 'Weekend at Burnie's' (Warner Bros.)

    Curren$y, 'Weekend at Burnie's' (Warner Bros.)

    The third sturdy release in six months from this weeded-out New Orleans wordsmith is simply more casually compelling hip-hop from the dude who does stoner rap better than everyone else. Further separating Curren$y from similarly hazy underground types, though, is his impeccable taste in beats ("Televised," "Still") plus a slow-burning intensity. "I could kill a man, but I'd rather kill a bass line," he half-threatens on "This Is the Life." Even for-the-ladies track "She Don't Want a Man," with its noirish story-tellingand near-New Age beat,is far from crossover.

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