The mixtape has been with us for several decades now. It was born out of cassettes personally made of our favorite songs which we would pass around to each other for a myriad of reasons. The book/movie High Fidelity is a true reflection of the old way of these tapes. We would make compilations for a potential or actual significant other. We would construct tapes of music to expose other people to new sounds. The metal scene of the late, late 70/early 80’s grew leaps and bounds because the dedicated fans would mail off tapes made of underground artists they had in their city to people in other cities (or countries), hopefully for reciprocation. This was something that was completely exciting and almost exclusive 100% of the time.
With the creation of CD burners and the internet, this practice hasn’t died. It has instead morphed into something completely larger than life it seems, especially in the rap and hip-hop worlds. It seems that the mixtape and rap were created for each other in the way that they have been married, quite successfully, for decades now. Artists have found a perfect promotional tool in a world that is completely dominated by image and short attention spans. Mixtapes have come to serve as a constant reminder to the general population that the artist is still here and is still being active.
At times this can be counterproductive to the genre because it has been literally flooded Old Testament style with this medium and it’s difficult to sift through the dirt to find the gems. But, when those gems are found, the successes that can come from them are parallel to none (reference 50 Cent and Lil Wayne’s success due to their mixtape production). Not only are mixtapes great for the national and international scenes, but they work wonders for the local scene that the artist finds themselves in.
It took me a little while to really understand the mixtape as such a large focus of so many people, but once I was able to disarm myself and realize that you can’t look at a mixtape as you would an album, I began to get it. The mixtape is about exposure, plain and simple. Cohesion is not necessary. Original beats is not necessary. What is necessary is that the music be potent and something that will create a spark of interest in that artist by those who may listen to it.
That brings me to today’s rap/hip-hop review of a webtape (same principles of a mixtape, it’s just not actually pressed) by a Milwaukee rapper named Ka$h, who is a flagship member and co-founder of the Umbrella Music Group.
KA$H – KA$H AS BLACK BAUER, BLACK BAUER SEASON ONE
The title and theme come from the seminal television series 24, which help to create an air of immediacy around this project. The idea that time is limited is intriguing because it leaves little room for deviation. It’s almost like constructing something based on Edger Allen Poe’s principle that a short story should maintain a constant feeling throughout the entire work, not relying on a rollercoaster ride, but simply setting the tone right away and then keeping it up.
This web/mixtape does that very successfully, whether it was the intention or not.
I found myself anxious to listen to the next track almost as soon as the track I was currently listening to began (albeit I got caught on the song Dem Boys for several listens and almost convinced myself that I didn’t need to go further because of how lethal of a track it was/is). I’m glad that I didn’t skip around and that I took the whole project in because almost every track deserves a complete listen so that you can feel the true hunger of Ka$h the emcee.
With more braggadocio than the average music I choose to listen to in my free time, I found myself mean mugging along with the tracks, absorbing the style of Ka$h himself. To add more street value, Ka$h touches on his weed selling days, and even shows maturity about it in reference to his new life as a father and adult.
The crowning moment of the project for me is the song Real Life featuring Prophetic and Roni. It takes me back to a time when rap was just about laying it out on the table and then walking away knowing that the cards you just played were better than anybody else, but you didn’t need the pot in the middle because you do this for the love of the game.
Overall, I was very impressed with this as a web/mixtape and it is something that could be taken to have an album formed out of it in the future.
I suggest you download this free project from Ka$h if you like rap/hip-hop that is a little more heavy on the streets.
http://umbrellasup.com/blackbauer.html <—- Go and get it!
THE TRUSTY KNIFE – THE TRUSTY KNIFE
Pop music has come a long way since the concept of “pop music” came into the world. What passes as pop now is nowhere near the pop of the past. So many new sub-genres have been created to explain the music that people produce if they choose to make original pop influenced music. We have alternative pop, neo pop, post pop, retro pop, power pop, garage pop, etc.
Today, because I’m feeling particular feisty, I am not going to allow myself to take the cheap way out and describe The Trusty Knife’s sound by breaking it down into sub-genre classification. The approach that I’m going to take with this review is to explain to you what I see and hear when listening to this music.
When the album begins, I immediately imagine myself in a room filled with late 20/30/early 40 something year olds. Musical purists that like dark plastic framed glasses on their faces, thrift stores; people who support their community as much as they support their friends in their endeavors (whatever they may be). These are your Eastsiders or your Riverwesters. Your Bayviewers. They recycle. They have a small garden in their backyard, or want one. They wear Capri pants…the men too, and they even dance unabashedly to the music that they enjoy regardless of how much they’ve had to drink.
What I feel from this album is immediate warmth welcoming me, almost as if it’s nodding at me with a smile even though I’m a complete stranger. The sounds say to me, “Hey, it’s cool that you’re new…everybody is new at some point. Stay for a beer and just enjoy some music that is created and played by people who really enjoy constructing something for you to listen to.”
I hear melodies and lyrics that are catchy so maybe I even join in the dancing. This scene is becoming more and more infectious as I get further into the album. The bluesy riffed, yodel infected groove jam Ditch The Chops has me looking around the room for a moment to see the crowd swaying and completely captivated by the musical patterns presented to them. However, as soon as it begins, it’s almost as quickly over and the dancing once again begins to a new track.
I am thigh deep now into this party and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Any pretensions that I may have had when walking in are completely gone and I’m reacting to the band as if we’re old friends. Song after song comes on and the strength of the writing, playing, singing, makes itself more and more present.
At the conclusion of the party, there is a sense of happiness that it was attended and not skipped. However, nobody wants to stop partying, so the band strikes up its instruments once again, not tired or weary from the gig it just played but completely energized at the fact it gets to play again.
This is what I see and hear when playing this album, and if you listen closely, you just may hear and see this as well.
Pop music fans, seek this band out. I’ve been told that they are amazing to see live, something I hope to experience soon.
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