Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Let 'Em Talk To Ya: Review of Dope Kid Danny's "Euphonious" Beat Tape

Dope Kid Danny's Euphonious Beat Tape is a chill and vibey but still straightforward collection of crisply produced new beats. They feel canonical in the sense that they have warm familiar melodies and concepts but also totally new in their craft and style.

"Let Me Talk To Ya" opens up the collection with a G-Funky guitar loop laid over claps and shouts atop a very chill hip-hop beat. "Can't Let Go" is a catchy and beautiful mournful lover's track that's really nice to blaze and drive to. Danny toggles between boom-bap and newer double-time styles.

"Private Party" is a funky banger, "Day Dreaming at Night" is exactly the pensive relaxing beat one would think it would be. "Boardwalk Convo" makes me want to take my girlfriend to Redondo Beach at night.

Over and over with these songs, a very entertaining maxim holds true: Danny illustrates his concepts in a narrative with these beats. "Along for the Grind" sounds like a montage of hustlers in training, "Scrapin'" is later in that same movie with the characters lowering their hoopties to the ground. "You Screwed Up" has the hungover ringing of being reminded of your folly along with undeniable bass driving the point home. "Me and My Shadow" hints at the producer's depth ominously in a hard coda.

His sound pays homage to old school funk hip-hop but also newer-style drum syncopation and electronic sound. The sound tells a story of a young Latino dude driving through So Cal cities, living his sincere life. It does all this but it's also a chill tape, indeed full of euphony.

The best beat tapes are an album in themselves while also reminding artists of what a good idea it is to collaborate with a given producer. Dope Kid Danny has hella I.E. hip-hop credentials from his work with Faimkills, Noa James, Curtiss King and many more- with Euphonious he tells his own sonic story, join him for it.

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.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Video/Single "Air Device (La La La)" from West Coast Avengers' RasJosh Beats & Tanjint Wiggy

New single and video for the upcoming Inland Imperial LP out now!

Produced By RasJosh Beats , raps by Tanjint Wiggy

Video featuring BMXer Garrett Acker

Mixed, mastered, song art and video by New Culture Media Group

Song available 8/13/17; video drops night of 8/13

The Inland Imperial LP coming 8/24! Pre-order now!

More WCA crew at westcoastavengers.com

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Region: Inland Empire Music Mixtape by Ital Santos featuring you, probably

No new review or video round-up this week, a lot going on BUT check out this recent iTunes mixtape by Inland Empire staple, Ital Santos featuring Trizz, Cam Archer, King Dice, Slick C, Kidd Dryden, Kordisepz + me, Curtiss King, Noa James, Ireplenish, CJ Simmons, Cam Gnarly, Yung Miss, Young Sincere, Dzyl5k1, Santos himself and more!

Back next week, but in the meantime while you're on iTunes, peep my new single (shameless, I know) !

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, August 2, 2017

His Turn: review of Hvlloween's Grey Day

Hvlloween and Sufok8 of Grey Entertainment give voice to the bad ass shitty attitude having kids of the I.E. so many of us observed growing up. I've always noticed the Grey Entertainment Squad, since they were posted up at benches rolling doobies at Maya's at Sunny Days and Vibes shows in Corona. Soon after a few such shows where I saw them kill it with horrorcore styles over boom-bap rhythms, I checked out their music- specifically that of Hvlloween and Klown.

Their music was dark but always energetic; a creative mix of violent I.E. fantasies and working class aspiration. The beats simple but not basic, hard-hitting but not too busy so the rap styles always took center stage. Hvlloween, himself the founder of Grey entertainment, is a scrappy and seemingly perpetually young looking tanned Asian-American Riverside native who is perfectly aware that he doesn’t look like what the average hip-hop fan would describe as a tough cat or a killer MC so he spends all his waking energy proving them wrong. His work is always imbued with the animal ferocity of someone with something serious to prove.
In those days, I was peeping them on their SoundCloud accounts but earlier this year I noticed Hvlloween pushing a fully studio-polished solo LP called Grey Day which I just got the chance to fully digest in recent weeks. Now with another Grey up n’ comer “Sufok8” riding shotgun instead of the noticeably absent Klown, Hvlloween’s impeccable grind is paying artistic dividends. The sparse evil sounding beats have more texture and mixing love put into them, Hvlloween’s horrific predilections now serve as a stylistic lens for his painfully honest depiction of Riverside life among paradoxically easily discouraged strivers.

Hvlloween’s never lost touch with his aggressive fantasist roots, his bars full of drive-by fantasies, offers to scrap and bodies being dumped in shallow creeks but imagine if you would, blending that kind of language with the perseverant life view of self-help gurus like Tony Robbins and Rhonda Byrne. This understanding that only feeding yourself positivity while refusing to give up will breed success is the new element to Hvlloween’s music and that infuses Grey Day with a much more nuanced worldview than the 2014 era Grey Entertainment works.

For every song like "Not on my Level" and "My Turn" where Hvlloween self-explanatorily explains how other MCs are not on his level and that this year is "his turn", there are songs like "Dab About It", "Keep It Pushin'" and "Hope it Works Out" where he sincerely mourns friendships and the potential of lost proteges. It's justifying his negativity, revealing more of his inner-life.


Yes, he’s spitting vicious venom at traitor friends throughout the record but he’s honest about that coming from a place of hurt, honest about his concern and doubts about his loved one’s life choices. His acid only comes after what must have been earnest attempts at salvaging relationships- or not, who knows but the songs tell a familiar and engrossing social story with distinct and unafraid sonic dressing.

Songs like "Anyway" and "Faded" showcase the extent to which Sufok8 and he have become a solid tag team of MC viciousness; particularly on "Out the West" where they use recurring phrases that seem to be updates of N.W.A and Dogg Pound cadences like "another bottle will numb it" for '100 Miles n Runnin' and "out the west, little homey what it is" for "Daz Dillinger's "What It Iz". I remember Sufok8 looking young as hell at SDAV shows and Hvlloween telling me he was next. His many appearances on the record show his flow and growl have grown. "King Me", "Dopest In The I.E." and more explain what keeps Hvlloween hunting for something more in life than the grime you hear in so much of his records: the desire for greatness, the willingness to hustle and make the best of an artistic life. With production from Hvlloween himself, Ac3 Beats (on the particularly lush banger "Keep it Pushin" and another), Cutta Chase, MBIII and more, the record is a more than worthy culmination of the pain, bile and growth Hvlloween's and the Grey Entertainment catalog leads to. 

There's more at work than just the blending of horror and emotional journal proclivities- even the commitment to quality rap styles in single and double-time, over boom-bap and newer production styles shows a dimension of I.E. pedigree to their genre leanings.

I admire their proletariat honesty, from funny lines like "smoke the fire and I love it/smoke a little higher than my budget" to the admission of feeling like music dreams are going nowhere at times, to feeling like relationships were failures- the more honest it gets the more relatable it is because the truth is all independent artists experience the trials and tribulations detailed here in gory exaggeration and relayed loudly by a seasoned creative who masterfully presents here his particular portrait of a frustrated but unbowed artist with his sweat on his brow and a shovel in hand.

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, July 26, 2017

It Was The Realest Shit He Ever Wrote: Review of Ital Santos' Decem

Ital Santos, the artist formerly known as Jynxx, recently released a well-curated collection spanning the first ten years of his career called Decem. Meditating on it a few times over a few months makes me think deeper on his double album The Transition. I always thought of the title as referring to the time in his life and his mindstate while creating the album but now I realize much of his career reflects the transition that West Coast Rap itself was going through in the first decades of the twenty-first century.

The music community in Cali was going through a Transition that Ital correctly identified- transitioning away from the dominance the 90’s held, transitioning out of losing 2pac and more broadly, moving beyond the Gangsta Rap narrative that had been dominant up through the late 90’s and the end of the century. Ital never lost sight of the idea that older cats go through these things for the benefit of the youth, so that they don’t have to.

You can hear the cultural Transition throughout Decem. The older tracks bristling with a little more trigger-happiness and aggressive masculinity. Their pre-track shout outs sound Death Row-style and Yasin, a frequent Santos collaborator on the earlier works, throws down hard bars over powerful and grimy boom-bap. The later tracks are more chill and even stoner-hippie in their wizened observations and wisdom. Noted posi-gawds like Noa James show their earlier more gangster side on older tracks from the collection too: again, the Jynxx / Ital Santos Transition reflects the larger cultural shift, here is a musician who has been here for all that. Songs in between like an addictive R & B number, "Black Brown Soul Revue" sung amazingly by CornBreeze near the end help show Ital’s diversity and vision.

The record's given me a new appreciation for how Ital develops choruses- 'Realest shit', 'Crisis', 'All for the money', 'Rain Check' and plenty more show his understanding of the interplay of the sung soul sample and the rapped refrain but more importantly they are catchy and give his music an enjoyable momentum.  More recent tracks include standout performances from Slick C, D'zyl 5k1 and of course a frequent Ital collaborator Mando the DJ on the cut.

Santos shows us his part in local lexicon development with tracks like “the 9”, and the collection’s standout almost-closer “The Realest Shit I Ever Wrote” on which he says "I got friends but sometimes I feel alone." The whole song is a bluesy soul slapper which encapsulates, I think, Ital's desire to shed light on the struggle of people in the I.E. This record commemorates a decade of him doing exactly that, through different collaborators, different eras and personas of the self, just trying to give the I.E. the kind of musical shading and texture so many other hard-up communities have had in the past. He's been busy in this last decade and I look forward to what he produces in his 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, July 19, 2017

The Reason That The Party On Smash: Review of The Combine


    2 years ago I couldn’t have told you an I.E hip-hop record like The Combine existed. Unapologetically modern but also relentlessly smart and positive, the album plays like the coolest Inland Empire pep rally Hollywood could create. Triune delivers baritone bars and E.Q sings tronical fried R&B smoothness on their crisply produced collection of sports-themed anthems, seemingly custom-designed for Friday night PS4 sessions and ESPN.

The wholesomeness and conventionality of the value system at work here is a different experience for me. Triune’s high school (and mine!) scores a dedication on “Alma Mater”- E.Q’s endless high school references “asking for hall passes”, “salutatorian” etc. keep the song light on its feet, more concerned with humor and cleverness than putting people down like a lot of other baller-boss hip-hop does. Triune spits poems about real grown-person love that are both beautiful in their painting but honest in their portrayal of a man.

“Draft Day” is a great role-playing exercise and metaphor for the day young athletes learn they’ve been selected in the draft as well as one of the album’s catchiest tracks. Both E.Q and Triune start simply and build up to ridiculous styles by the end of the piece.
“Pretty Thangz” cleverly uses basketball lingo to describe a stable of lovers competing for elevated status, “she tryna win a ring…”


"Going Going Gone" is the group's baseball anthem with one of the album's catchiest choruses and a beat that won't quit, creating a catchy middle ground between a hip-hop banger and a stadium organ anthem. "Game Winner" is another highlight, reaching a remarkable emotional height at the end while the chorus crescendos over some of E.Q's strongest foundation harmony vocals. "Vacation" and "Like a Winner" are chill sexy odes to relaxing with a lover in which both vocalists, particularly Triune, describe tropical and luxurious escape scenes vividly. On "Carpe Diem" a track whose unqiue and epic beat I love more every time I bump it, both of the album's stars make clear they haven't forgotten where they came from as they discuss the challenges of growing up for themselves and the future generation.

E.Q. weaves between hip-hop and R&B seamlessly, his facility with lingo and MC braggadocio while structuring songs recalls Nate Dogg while at the same time sounding totally modern and of his era. Triune is an unpredictable and versatile MC who, to use the album’s milieu, knows how to play on a team but also how to score points solo. Sometimes he's very direct and sometimes he's one of those Godfather rappers with whom the more he says the less you’re sure of what he’s really thinking. Together, The Combine make collaboration sound easy. From what I hear, they’ll be doing this forever. 

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, July 12, 2017

Recent Video Round Up with Viva Mescal, Skinny Trillions, Hvlloween, Muds One, 18Scales, Cam Archer

Gonna try to do a monthly round-up of videos from the past year and more recently that I got a chance to catch and want to share.

Viva Mescal - Cherry Of My Blunt
Muds One does immense justice to one of my favorite Mescal songs here. Stay peeping content by Soul Providers and East of the River crews. This is a really biased thing to say but I feel like EOTR is one of the only crews besides mine that really goes out of its way to credit beatmakers. Mescal’s latest project here 

Skinny Trillions – go to sleep foo
Who couldn’t help but be inexorably drawn to the stubborn and almost inscrutable weirdness of Skinny Trillions’ new video series?

More Trilly here 


Hvlloween - Dopest in the I.E.

I can't lie about how often I find myself shocked by the gutter-ass shit the founder of Grey Entertainment has to say but I find his work hard, dark, unique and ever defter in it execution. I like his consistency and that he reps the I.E. to the teeth. His latest project linked here

18SCALES – No Potassium
More from Muds One, had to get a repost of a piece of one of the latest projects from the superdope superduo 18 Scales in…


Cam Archer - On The Way
The first video from Cam Archer's upcoming Spirit Gunner LP shows that dude can sing choruses and boom-bap with the best of 'em. Filmed in New York City, Coca crisply rides a chill and bassy Nabeyin production. Detailed write-up and links to Cam's last project 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.