Knxledge

There are a lot of guys that try to make this kind of music. Legions of MPC (er-Fruity Loops)-wielding crate diggers trying to find that perfect obscure soul sample to flip into a beat. And everyone inevitably evokes J Dilla or Madlib when describing this sort of endeavor. Press releases want you to know this is like a Jay Dee track, or that is Madlib-inspired. Music writers are probably even worse with the lazy comparisons. And the producers themselves? Well most would probably welcome being called the next Dilla or the next Beat Konductor.

So, at a certain point, one just get kind of desensitized to it all. I used to be really into “beats,” but it all got so eff-ing predictable—just a copy of a copy of a copy of someone raiding J Dilla‘s vinyl collection.

Enter the Knxledge.

Pronounced Knowledge (the ex is actually an oh), this guy has been on the scene for a while now, but this year he’s really blowing up with a slew of high profile production credits (including Kendrick Lamar’s opus To Pimp a Butterfly) and an absurdly dope long-player called Hud Dreams released via Stones Throw Records.

He’s got a ton of stuff out—srsly, a metric shit-ton of stuff—but let’s just talk about that album. It’s laid out like a mixtape with the beats (usually under 2 minutes) running into each other. There aren’t a lot of crazy production tricks or studio gimmicks here, just a really good ear for sampling and a (obviously) deep crate digger with an intuitive flare for rhythm. These tracks sound effortless, sloppy even, but in the right way if you get me? They’re busting at the seems with the DNA of obscure soul, doo wop and jazz, all chopped into swaggering boom-bap that recalls the golden days of yore.

One final point to consider, because I am going to place this in it’s rightful lineage: How many of knock off Dillas can say they signed to Stones Throw, the label that actually put out all that seminal Dilla and Madlib? Exactly.

But, why take my word for it, give it a listen yourself:

Here’s a sick video of him jamming some beats live in the basement:

And here’s the first single from the man’s R&B project titled Nx Worries.

Also, dude is putting up new beats on his Soundcloud like daily, check it out:

Tuxedo

That old adage about it being better to do one thing well, holds true with music in that its pretty much always preferable to pick a simple idea and nail the fucking shit out of it than to try to “push the envelope” with a bunch of half-cooked ideas.

Tuxedo, a collaborative project from vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mayer Hawthorne and hip-hop producer Jake One (who has produced for everyone from G Unit to MF Doom to Brother Ali) is definitely not breaking any new ground, but with songs that are this fun, who cares.

The duo’s eponymous debut, released last month via Stones Throw Records, is a homage to the late-‘70s/early-‘80s heyday of the West Coast funk—that same influential sound that informed a generation of G-funk ‘90s gangsta rap.

Basically it’s a smoothed out collection of electrified disco boogie, full of synthetic melodies, squiggly Funkadelic sounds and ridiculously, get-stuck-all-in-your-head hooks, that fans of Chromeo and Dam-Funk will be all over, and a soundtrack that will surely heat up some parties/dance floors as the weather gets nice.

And here we have some Christmas boogie for that ass

Also, there are a bunch of killer DJ mixes over at the Souncloud page if that is your kind of thing.

Get it here

The Stepkids – “Sweet Salvation” Video

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that this is far from the first time we’ve posted about these guys. Their signature blend of smoothed-out throw-back soul and vintage psychedelic rock—imbued with just a touch of WTF?— hits all the right spots. Of course, the always immaculate production doesn’t hurt either.

This video is a couple of months old, but it’s so fucking fresh it deserves it’s own post; there’s really no two ways about it. It reminds me of the Beastie Boys for some reason— probably because there are three of them and they’re wearing lab coats and shit at the beginning.

You can grab the Sweet Salvation EP over at the Stones Throw shop.

They’ve already booked a few tour dates for this summer including Bonnaroo, plus there’s a new album forthcoming via Stones Throw. so definitely watch this space.

Here’s a taste from said new album.

And here is a random remix of one of the jams from their 2011 self-titled debut:

“Legend in My Own Mind” (Dave the Producer Remix feat. Percee P & Krondon)

Jonti – “Sine & Moon (The Album)”

This South African-born, Australian-based singer and multi-instrumentalist, whose debut album Twirligig was criminally omitted from a certain blogger(*ahem*)’s favorite albums of 2011 list, has a unique sound that is really difficult to pigeonhole. It’s “pop music” (to use the term very loosely), which manages to be as daring as it is delightfully idiosyncratic.  

“Lost Machines”
(taken from the album)

The songs that comprise Sign & Moon originally appeared as an installment of Stones Throw’s  venerable podcast series, but they are now being offered separately as a proper album.

It’s a bizarre, though thoroughly satisfying, offering characterized by Beach Boy-style vocals, and various influences as disparate as disco, hip-hop, ’60s garage rock, glitchy electronica and jazz-fusion. This is astral, psychedelic lounge music for the new year, and, quite simply, it kicks ass.

Or to put it another way: I would gladly pay good money for music of this caliber, but I can get it for free… and so can you.

DOWNLOAD: Jonti – “Sine & Moon”

Also:

Check this video for “Firework Spraying Moon from last year’s  Twirligig, which is out now on Stones Throw Records)

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)