Wednesday, June 28, 2017

REVIEW: How Revenge Tastes by DevilGod

DevilGod, the waifish demon LA transplant from the I.E., is a modern stark lo-fi hip-hop Bowie or  Marilyn Manson or both- a mad diva crossed with a deranged child constantly learning there’s nothing really stopping him from pushing boundaries of sexuality and progressive grimy gross-out rap further and further which each project he drops. As he shapes his worlds his stark honesty reflects the world around us and his latest project How Revenge Tastes is like a cultural hodgpe-podge of influences, peripheral and direct, that feels modern, natural all while being less apologetic than ever for his misanthropy and nihilism. 

The opener to the newest DevilGod EP reminds me of Tool and Chico-based rapper Nsmokiee in its rasp and dark jamminess.

The second track, “Lord of the Flies”, reminds me of Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock and the short song interludes on Beastie albums like Paul’s Boutique but with an even harder edge and darker. He’s investing more in production and tracks like “Pervert” benefit from it- it’s lo-fi boom-bap but it’s also rock and horrorcore and new.  The scarier he gets the more comfortable he seems. Visually and on an auditory level this EP also reminds me of ICP in its constant reaching for the intense, the visceral, and the gag reflex. Though I’ve come to expect weirdness from his work, I can always appreciate his pushing himself to farther out reaches. That said, it doesn’t feel contrived- it just feels like he’s still looking for himself. What a treat for listeners of today, that someone’s personal journey can be such a gothic archaeological dig.

“Extra Credit for a Failure” reminds me of his older work in its successful attempt to be millennial anxiety manifested. On it, he takes a chance and gets candid about how he feels about existence generally, taking off the Joker mask if for just a second. 

“Paranoia” reminds me of electronic dance mixes and Oingo Boingo with its jittery insect rhythms and a not unwelcome taste for the gross parts of life we usually sweep under the rug so to speak.
I’d be lying if I said I thought DevilGod is where he is going but his journey is hella interesting- to me there’s no doubt that he has journeying yet to do and beasts yet to slay.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for JooseBoxx, youth hip-hop writing instructor with CHORDS Enrichment Youth program (chordseyp.org) and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com.

Monday, June 26, 2017

NEW VIDEO: ILL SMITH- HOCUX POCUX

ILL SMITH "HOCUX POCUX" AVAILABLE NOW FOR PURCHASE AT ILLTHESMITH.BANDCAMP.COM ALSO STREAMING LIVE ON SOUNDCLOUD (@ILLTHESMITH) 

CHECK THE OFFICIAL VIDEO AND SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE!!!

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER AND IG @ILLTHESMITH

PRODUCED BY FATFINGER BEATS

video shot by: JEREMY AMBERSON edited by @kinghavok

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New video "Look Out!" from RasJosh Beats & Tanjint Wiggy from the West Coast Avengers crew featuring Joaquin Daniels

RasJosh Beats and Tanjint of the West Coast Avengers Crew have linked up with Joaquin Daniels for a new nerded out video!

Shot and edited by Ryan Haynes at the WyrdCon Long Beach Comic Con Afterparty and Big Rob’s Showcase626, it brings to life the boom-bappy single from late last year! 

Shout out to NewCulture Media Group who mixed the song, Dean Baker for all his production work, and WCA’s Mr.Sham for appearing in the video as Shampool! More WCA at westcoastavengers.com!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

LIVE FAST: Review of King Dice's Shalu Avenue

“Live Fast. Die Young. That’s the song that the choir sung.”

It’s been a couple years since King Dice dropped a full length LP so I had to take my time digesting when he dropped the sequel to Red Mahogany Drive- “Shalu Avenue”. Many of us have brushed with the harsher realities of Inland Empire life, myself included but cats like King Dice have lived it. All his work speaks with the voice of someone who has been there. This experience leads him to warn other youth about the path they choose and to instruct kids in music when he’s not working on his own. Dante’s Theme finds Dice talking about how real death is in Moreno Valley over a sampling of the melodies from “Gangsta’s Paradise”.

“Reminisce. Feelin’ tipsy. Doin’ 90 on the sick-sick-sixty. Highway to Hell. “

Moments like the above lyric from the same song make this the most novel-like Dice album I’ve yet to hear- he’s not just going to give you surface level narrative, he’s trying to share his feelings and inner life in these works too.

Like Red Mahogany, there are many songs which are like sequel update cover homages to older songs: "Dante’s Theme" for "Gangsta’s Paradise", "Top Dawg" for "Who Am I?", "Heavy Crown" for "What’s So Different?"
On Red Mahogany, “What’s Going On?” was an homage-update of the Fugees “Fugee-La” and Dice continues this practice to an even higher degree on Shalu Avenue. I realized recently that part of what is appealing, deep and timeless about his interpolations is that it is like the jazz tradition- to attempt to master the classics and show your audience your familiarity with them that they may follow you into your original ventures. Dice almost always distills what was musically appealing about the original, modernizes it and then makes it his own.

“Oroku Saki” and “Kaiju” are this album’s superb contributions to the canon of nerdcore hip-hop, one from the point of view of Shredder from Ninja Turtles and the other a reference to the monsters of Godzilla and Pacific Rim. "Oroku Saki" and "Heavy Crown" have been the ones I’ve seen Dice perform in the lead up to the album’s release and the time since and they both are great encapsulations of the album’s spare, precise, addictively melodic and deceptively chill vibes. These two songs, along with Top Dogg all sample songs from the 90’s and to me this is an extension of the nerdcore aspect of his work: we reflect what we studied as we grew into our own. For many of us in the I.E. that was just as much 90’s hip-hop as X-Men and Ninja Turtles and other nerd media.  In his master-crafting of love letters to the eras that shaped so many of us, Dice claims the mantle and promises to rock.

"Oroku Saki" is also a great example of Dice's mastery of limerick and evolving style as a poet and MC. He could easily be a 4/4 killer like a lot of cats out there. Instead he experiments with stop and go double time for much of the album, putting pregnant crime-boss pauses between his statements, adding ominous emphasis. On "Oroku Saki" he plays with this swing of triplets that is distinctive and deft. His aphorisms on "Dante's Theme" are haunting and timeless. His growth as a writer is to the extent where his songs say more while having seemingly less words than before.

Dice's tight production and the crisp sound to this record highlight the balance Dice has found. “She’s Wavy” is an erotic exploration of a lover like an ocean, “Rain” is a gorgeous R&B 90’s throwback. He brings this plus his warnings to the youth, his homage to 90’s nerd culture and his benevolent reign in the Inland Empire. The record has lots of replay value, I've been addicted to it lately. Dice's lyrics are deep but unpretentious, revealing their layered meanings with each listen. All this and the record bangs, addictively, smartly and musically. To invert a phrase, when the King comes at you, ya best not miss.

My previous thought on King Dice’s nerdcore style here.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for JooseBoxx, youth hip-hop writing instructor with CHORDS Enrichment Youth program (chordseyp.org) and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Feast of Friends: review of Noa James’ Peace of Cake EP







As critical fans of popular music, we get annoyed when artists who’ve covered a lot of ground don’t find new ground to cover. Noa James does not disappoint with his latest project, the Peace of Cake EP. His embrace of his own weirdness is as charming as it’s ever been as the Orca’s evolution continues to unfold before our very eyes. With each album, Noa sheds a bit of the growl that marks his earlier works. It’s a bold move, one that comes from love and confidence growing.

This and Mescal’s new Weird Turn Pro are the most atmospherically consistent albums I’ve heard this year, both albums emanating a chill knowing from song to song. I admire that Noa James goes out on a limb with his own brand of posi-waves, influenced by but on different wavelength than fellow I.E. contemporary Cam Gnarly.

Each song is a recipe for a different kind of cake with ingredients like self-love, confidence, and other positive abstract concepts. It doesn’t sound like any other album I’ve ever heard, the closest cousin to such a concept in music that I’m familiar with would be found in rock albums by bands like The Fiery Furnaces and Tool. The Cam Gnarly song on the record has a different slower almost darker feel and shows growth and diversity from each of them. The Faimkills collab “Better than hate cake” might be my favorite Faimie song, undulating between experiment and familiar modern hip-hop song. The last song on the album, “Cake Buffet” is the barsiest I.E.-est song I’ve heard from James or anyone in a while and again- feels boom-bappy but new and experimental at the same time.



Producers like Ca$h Only of New Culture Media Group, Aye Brook and more contributed to this album’s trippy banquet of bangers. Kudos to a successful artist not just sticking to their comfort zone, to pushing their own envelope and backing up their ideals with their music. I say this because in person for the last couple years Noa James has often talked about the ideas he is putting to work here in the Peace of Cake EP and the follow-through is refreshing. The ideals give him a message of love worth sharing and the chill production and sense of music make it all work. The artistic pay-off and uniqueness of this project has me quite curious as to what he’ll be talking about on later projects and what stage of butterfly metamorphosis we’ll find the Young Orca in next.


Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for JooseBoxx, youth hip-hop writing instructor with CHORDS Enrichment Youth program (chordseyp.org) and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What They Said: Looking back at ECP's No Free Lunch Mixtape 1 year later


EnglishClass Project’s No Free Lunch is both a mixtape and an album and better than most of both. The West Coast Avengers and I have a saying, “everybody nerdcore now”. More so than just a snarky dig at the broader mainstream culture turning onto nerd content these days, what we mean by that is much new art, including that which we make, is about the other art we grew up on. Influence has always been part of the artistic cycle, from the beginning of time, but the modern era has seen this become explicit in a way reflective of “nerd culture” in the sense of people being experts of things they are fans of.

ECP are hip-hop nerds. They know what a hip-hop album should sound like, they know the classics. They know what kind of skits and outros they like on rap albums, they know what impresses them about rappers, they know what they like in beats and what sounds professional to them. Even the references on the record make it sound like it’s all a sequel to “Rap: The Movie”, when CL Hos drops references to “Jerome’s Niece” as if there’s no one listening to the record who hasn’t heard “One Love” by Nas.
They are here to give you what you need, in its purest most expert form. They are, to quote their lead single “marvelous at the art of this”. Oddio is the most straight-ahead MC in the crew but even his schemes, flow and lyrics are clever, tightly executed, top flight MC shit. Thesis is the guns-blazing dirty genius of the squad, bringing his Eminem-influenced Whittier-originated hysterics through the lens of a pop culture geek madman. CL Hos has a deep voice and smooth flow that delivers his killer west coast chilled but still highly cerebral lyrics, each verse impossibly topping his last one. Finally Adversity is the accent king- a jack of all trades MC who can sing choruses, rip 16s, rap in a southern or reggae accent, and low-key keep up with all of Thesis’ frenetic intensity as well as Hos’ masterful rap assassinations. Oddio holds the record together with his profesh rap styles, recording, mixing and engineering studio work. Guests like MaiSelph bring boom-bap mastery and flavor on time every time.

About a year ago, Gad Zooks talked about how this mixtape checks off all the boxes of a classic hip-hop record and he’s totally right. That said, lately as I listen to the collection I can’t help but think how different it is from the hardcore 90’s boom-bap rap albums that influenced its creation.
I’ve noticed as aggressive as the raps are, the vocab and the intellectuality are both products of a culture that values intellectual rap more than it did in the 90s (yeah I said it) and the result of a lexiconical arms race that indie artists have happily embraced in the last 15 years or so. Consider ECP as Marlon Wayans in Don’t Be A Menace, aiming a torpedo at that ass, asking “Do. We. Have. A. PROBLEM??”

More than that, songs like Roll Model, which discusses an attractive lover who rolls up blunts, are how ECP talks about women, not Adversity’s proliferate shouts of “bitches” and “pussies” which are clearly instances of him talking about other men and sucker MCs. The crown jewel on my point is the post-modern warm piano inflected boom-bappery of “What They Say” which was the song that introduced me to ECP. I had heard Thesis and was amazed to learn in those days that he had not one but two crews plus full of people of comparable talent. “What They Say” has ECP discussing existential ennui, working class struggle, thoughts of suicide and just plain old melancholy. As much as I love their mastery of golden era hip-hop, it’s these instances of their minds stretching beyond the normal that impress me to the point of never forgetting just how special this squad is.

So Zooks was totally right to say they made a classic hip-hop album, but I would argue that balancing classic hip-hop style with their lyrical and emotional innovation is a big part of why No Free Lunch, 1 year later, is still looking well on its way to classic status.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for JooseBoxx, youth hip-hop writing instructor with CHORDS Enrichment Youth program (chordseyp.org) and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at tristanacker@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Dark Tower (Official Trailer)



Stephen King's sci-fi/fantasy/western The Dark Tower has finally gifted us a trailer. Idris Elba stars as The Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as the main antagonist; The Man in Black. this will be the first film of the eight part series. Are you familiar with the series? Are you excited to see it brought to life? Check it out below and let us know what you think...