Thanking A Tribe Called Quest…


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A Tribe Called Quest is known for being both legendary and innovative for their epic contributions in hip-hop. Since releasing their last album 18 years ago, many fans feared that the group would refrain from ever releasing new music. This seemed especially true with the unfortunate passing of Tribe’s master rapper and co-founder, Phife Dawg, in March. New music from ATCQ seemed highly unlikely then, until the recent release of their sixth and final album, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service. The album not only reminds listeners of their classic 90s style, but also reinvigorates the group’s collection of work without using nostalgia as a crutch. There are tons of songs on this album worth listening but I have picked the moments that have most impacted my experience the most with this new ATCQ body of work.

The album starts eerily with, “The Space Program”. This recalls back to the essential beginnings of Tribe. The song is organized and arranged specifically to flow and blend the past of jazz with the intergalactic noises of the future. Jarobi rhymes “We takin’ off to Mars, got the space vessels overflowin’/What, you think they want us there? All us ****** not goin’”. Though the lyrics concern traveling to space and landing on Mars, the song is about the future of hip-hop and staying relevant while from an older generation of this genre. Tribe is stating that although they are not based in the new generation of hip-hop, they encourage the future of the genre and are reminding all listeners of their style and skills as artists.

Along the journey listeners are given powerful messages. On “We the People…,” Q-Tip’s hook specifically calls out the political ridiculousness of Donald Trump while also predicting a false vision of a Clinton victory this recent election. The most impressive collaboration from Tribe is their partnership with Jack White and Elton John for “Solid Wall of Sound,” while “Ego” serves as a both vulnerable and passionate confession.

“Dis Generation” uses a sample of Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie”. The most exceptional moment in the song is when Q-Tip refers to Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole as “gatekeepers of flow/They are extensions of instinctual soul.” Tribe continues throughout the album projecting wise messages in a form similar to Yoda projecting wisdom to young Jedi.

“The Donald,” is a homage to Phife Dawg and how he will not be forgotten, while also stamping the late MC’s strong influences and contributions to the album.

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service serves as another A Tribe Called Quest album that has gone right. This is not an album that demands closure or legacy. The work actually seems as though, in a perfect world, the group will band back together and Phife Dawg will magically come back to life and continue working on another album and eventually go on tour. However most times music lovers cannot get what they want, and this may be one of those times where we have to be okay and accept that this is a magnificent and epic ending to the group’s extensive line of work. I mean we could not expect Jarobi and Q-Tip to continue without Phife Dawg. So for now, and for always we will have to accept this beautiful last gift and thank them for their service…

The Black Ships, “Dead Empires” Album Review


BLACK SHIPSThe Black Ships are a four-piece alternative dark indie garage rock group from Saratoga, New York. The band shows-off how New York is the new breeding ground for American dark romance in regards to music.

The Black Ships are named after the American ships that landed in Japan during the 16th and 19th centuries. Their new album, Dead Empires, is the second release by the ensemble, and did not disappoint or fall into the, often occurring for alternative indie bands, sophomore slump. The album starts with an infectious beat, being an energetic track that sounds close and relevant to a 80s’ college radio station. The Black Ships use this energy throughout the rest of the album.

Unlike most dark alternative albums, the bass is one of the main components in the work. The bassist begins with a cheery and catchy hook while the synthesizers gradually step in and set a fantasy dream-like atmosphere. There is not much that sounds “modern” in a technical sense about Dead Empires, however there does not need to be when the sounds of the past translate so well into the pieces of art.

The guitar aesthetics of the music, echoes “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but with vocals more similar to Echo and the Bunnymen. On Track 4, “When the Rain Falls” the Black Ships go into full fantasy mode and almost completely bury the lyrics in synths and distorted guitar riffs, while creating a dark indie-goth atmosphere as well. Track 4 specifically reflects the early 90s’ music scene in and around London, where Stereolab, Lush, Blur, Suede, Elastica occupied the ears of dark alternative indie enthusiasts everywhere.

Though slow and dreamy tracks are heavy within this album, Dead Empires offers other sounds as well. Tracks 3 and 6, “Sea of Cortez” and “Sarin” have a fast rapid pace making the songs work to keep the sleepy listener awake, even on the latest of nights. While these tracks vastly contrast from their atmospheric counterparts, the album still feels as though it relates as an overall piece of art.

Usually artists will apply more gentle songs towards the end of an album. While there is nothing incorrect of such, Dead Empires does the opposite. John Gill’s vocals sound vastly like Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan and the guitar riffs echo Joy Division. The Black Ships are aiming right for the opaque heart of the listeners by mixing dreamy atmospheric hints and tinges to the Pretty In Pink soundtrack. Though album includes dark and light sounds, the balance used in composing this art is appealing to the indie-alternative band’s audience.

Though the album begins with a burst of energy, while gradually slowing down almost becoming fatigued, the end involves a highly intense track ready to revitalize audiences. Dead Empires is not only pieced together in a mosaic-type method, this album has an organized balance that allows the listener to consume the sound. The Black Ship’s newest album Dead Empires is definitely for the fans of music on the lightly dark end of the spectrum with some synths and heavy bass thrown in.

 

Tune in to kssu.com every Tuesday to listen to, me DJ SoulForce on the Zen hour from 2-3pm for your alt/indie fix!

Album Review: Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up


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So-Cal native, Colleen Green, is back with I Want To Grow Up. Her sophomore album follows her record Milo Goes to Compton and manages to capture the fear most have in the realities of growing up.

Greene is known for making lyrics that in melody sound sweet and kind, but when focused are deep, much similar to the way Lily Allen creates songs.

With massive repetitive drums and synth guitar Green’s, “Deeper Than Love,” conveys how truly and intensely claustrophobic she feels or felt while writing about the struggles of growing up. The song is an example of themes and ideas all young people are guilty of participating in: the concept of a society that is engrossed and obsessed with fast pace and technology; rather than facing responsibilities of adulthood such as bills, careers, home owning, and taxes. She unleashes each fear as though there is a reflection to take on.

Through a few of Green’s music on this album such as “Wild One” and “Some People,” the summertime-ready melodies draw obvious similarities to the sounds and mixing of Best Coast. However the lyrics are what truly contrast Green from Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. Rather than whining and dwelling on a love of the past for an eternity, Green handles her issues in more mature of a fashion. Green focuses on improving her self and moving forward, instead of waiting fir someone to save her life. She is expressing how to be her own hero.

I Want to Grow Up concerns the aspirations and hopes for a stable future without definitely guaranteeing a happy destiny to all. The album also tells the brutally honest truth, which is that everyone’s real conflict when they’re young is primarily created within themselves. In, “I can do whatever I want,” Green rages on about the ridiculousness of society and their obsessions with growing up. Her advice in this track is that there is evidently no rush to do so.

Green is tired of being immature, insecure, irresponsible, careless, and selfish. She wants to reassure not only her audience but to her self that she will organize her life and be content with how it ends up. In “What’s going to become of my life,” Green howls the opening track of I Want to Grow Up, as foreshadow for the album as a whole. The track is shouts out a call to acceptance. Instead of being a teenage adult, Green is willing to accept the accountability of adulthood. I Want to Grow Up in a way is a love letter from Green to her self to move forward and away from the painful and agitating experiences in her life.

At the age of 30 Green fully acknowledges that this album is not a method of telling the world she has nothing else to learn. The album unfolds that Green is fully aware of the teaching she still needs and it proves she is also opening her self to learn and become responsible, even if she does take a juvenile approach to situations at times.

Tune in to kssu.com every Tuesday to listen to, me DJ SoulForce on the Zen hour from 2-3pm for your alt/indie fix!

Jake Bugg: Shangri-La Album Review


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At only 19, Nottingham, England native singer/songwriter Jake Bugg, exudes talent far passed his years. From his music, listeners will hear sounds relative to the melodies of Bob Dylan, Oasis, and the Arctic Monkeys. While achieving critical acclaim from his first album,  his second album, Shangri-La, further supports Bugg’s promising career ahead. Despite whatever obstacles he experienced through his mid-teens his worldliness only makes for better content within his work and work ethic.

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