The Underachievers – “Indigoism”

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This simply has to be one of the most hotly anticipated mixtapes to hit the Internetz in recent memory.

Since May of 2012, The Underachievers have been whetting our appetites with samples of their debut mixtape Indigoism, which had been slated for release on at least three different dates in the second half of ’12. Whether it was ingenious marketing or whatnot, it got to the point where folks were actually getting testy, wondering if shit was even gonna come out.

Somewhere along the line they caught the attention of Flying Lotus, who instantly snapped their debut up for his Brainfeeder imprint.

As of February 1 all the uncertainty about this tape has been put to rest; and I for one will happily go on record as saying that this shit was worth the wait.

If all of this is news to you, here’s some background:

Ak (left) and Issa Dash are The Underachiers

Ak (left) and Issa Dash are The Underachievers

With ties to A$AP Mob, Joey BADA$$s Pro Era crew, and Flat Bush Zombies, The Underachievers are part of the Beast Coast movement—the spearhead of what is quickly becoming a renaissance in New York hip-hop.

But what distinguishes the Brooklyn-based duo of Issa Dash and Ak from its peers is the way the two MCs pair their straight-up raw lyricism (think of them as kind of like Wu-Tang to Joey BADA$$Biggie Smalls) with overt spiritual motifs (just check the video for “Herb Shuttles” below). It’s a strange juxtaposition of ‘hood and mysticism that actually becomes better and better with repeated listens—of course it doesn’t hurt that all of the beats that they rap over are stupidly great.

The Underachievers – “Gold Soul Theory”

The Underachievers – “TADED”

The Underachievers – “Revelations”

Get it HERE

. . .

“Herb Shuttles”

“Gold Soul Theory”

Captain Murphy – “Duality” Mixtape

For the past six-or-so months, the name Captain Murphy had been appearing on some pretty stellar hip-hop alongside the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and Flying Lotus.

Up until a few weeks ago Murphy remained essentially anonymous prompting much Internetz speculation as to the truth of his identity–was it an alias of Odd Future‘s Tyler the Creator or the aforementioned Earl; some other established MC perhaps, or maybe a total unknown?

The mystery was solved at L.A.’s weekly Low End Theory club night a few weeks back, where Murphy was booked as headliner, and as it turned out, was none other than Steven Ellison, who is much better known as Flying Lotus.

Murphy’s unmasking coincided with the release of his debut mixtape Duality, in what was presumably a kind of oddball publicity maneuver.

Duality is being offered as a free download complete with a grip of original artwork, just in time for the holidays.

It’s classic “mixtape” in the tradition of Quasimoto’s The Unseen or MF Doom’s Operation Doomsday—meaning quirky nonsensical rhyming over sample-heavy, lo-fi beats, spliced with various and sundry snippets of cartoons and video games circa the ’90s.

The production, which is predictably dope, is mostly handled by Mr. Lotus and other Brainfeeder-affiliated artists like Samiyam, Teebs and Jeremiah Jae, but Madlib and Hudson Mohawke/Lunice project TNGHT also contribute.  The surprising thing here is just how accomplished a lyricist old FlyLo is. It’s understandable that he was mistaken for Earl or Tyler.

Get it HERE (and be sure to scope the bizarro visual accompaniment while you’re over there)

Here are a few videos from the album:

And here’s some footage of Murphy and Earl Sweatshirt performing “Between Friends” at the Low End Theory.

Thundercat – “The Golden Age of the Apocalypse”

Oh man, this is the record of the summer as far as I’m concerned (and although most folks are probably gearing up for the fall, here in San Francisco it is officially [Indian] summer!).

Having anticipated its late August release for several months, I “thought” I knew what to expect…

Some background info for you:

Thundercat is the nom de guerre of Steve Bruner, a L.A.-based virtuoso bass player (with perfect pitch to boot).  A veteran session musician, Bruner’s talents have been sought after by everyone from Erykah Badu to the Suicidal Tendencies. He’s played with Snoop Dogg and Bootsy Collins, and most recently he’s fallen in with Flying Lotus and his ever-expanding left-field hip-hop crew Brainfeeder (He played bass on Flying Lotus’ 2010 instellar-opus Cosmogramma).  In short this dude is a monster on the bass guitar.

Still it took me several listens to “get” this record.

Normally, I don’t go in for jazz fusion, but this isn’t your typical jazz-fusion record.  It’s a stunning display of retro-futurism — melding jazz, electro and the leftfield hip-hop sound so en vogue in LA at the moment – an amazingly rich collection of smoothed out summer jams, sprawling as far and wide as the city of Los Angeles.  This is at once club music, cruising-in-the-car music, backyard cook-out music, and headphone music.

Fans of Dam-Funk’s brand of astral boogie would do well to grab this, although “Golden Age” is way further out there than anything released by Mr. Funk as of yet.

The instrumentation is the stuff of next-level: Backed by Flying Lotus who produced the album and 20-year-old composer, pianist and fellow Brainfeeder Austin Peralta, Bruner effortlessly churns out consciousness expanding melodies on an instrument typically relegated to “keeping time.”

I think the fact that this has been lighting up the blogosphere for the past few weeks says it all.  When was the last time a “jazz-fusion” record scored an 8.1 on Pitchfork?

Thundercat – “Daylight”

Thundercat – “Walkin”

Thundercat – “For Love I Come”

Flying Lotus put together a killer mix of non-album Thundercat stuff a few months ago, which you can grab here

Flying Lotus – “Lover’s Melt: II”

Back in May Flying Lotus made a podcast for Stones Throw Records called Lover’s Melt, and I resisted posting it out of some misguided sense that I should only devote time/space to things that aren’t blogged to death all over the rest of the Internetz.

Fuck that shit! Mr. Lotus is an amazing DJ and Stones Throw is a standard bearer for quality and diversity in podcasts. That mix was one of the best things I’ve downloaded this year.

I refuse to make the same mistake twice, so I’m posting this mix here regardless of how many other places on the web it’s sure to be at.

Download Lover's Melt:II

edit: mix is 2 hrs long and file is high quality, meaning it’s fucking huge (300+ megs)

Samiyam new album drops June 28

After a couple of mixtapes, an outstanding EP on the much vaunted Hyperdub Records and a compilation of released and unreleased material, Samiyam is set to drop his first proper full-length on Brainfeeder at the end of this month.

And I for one can’t fucking wait.

I’ve got a special place in my heart for his woozy, off-kilter electro, which hobbles with the swagger of a drunken b-boy — drums pitching forward only to self-correct, snapping back into place. I love those loose, squiggly synths and lopsided, gurgling basslines, as well as the assortment of interesting, lo-fi, sampled instruments he uses to create his jagged motif which sounds thrown together, that is, spontaneous in the best sense of the word.

Here’s a nice album sampler someone posted.

And grab the track he’s giving away via FACT Magazine.

Shit’s gonna be slammin!