Archive for December, 2012

#1 Instrumental Hip-Hop Album of 2012: *Cool Story, Pro* by Small Professor

December 31, 2012

On a hazy weekday afternoon circa 2005, during my occasional routine of MySpace “window-shopping” for undiscovered emcee talent to book on upcoming events, my attention was jolted by the name of a young, Philadelphia-based producer known as Small Professor.  My initial reaction, ignorantly misguided by his avatar of a vague, low-res ‘Wheelchair Professor-X’, was, “Okay, so is dude a paraplegic and/or scientist moonlighting as a beat-maker?  [Why else would someone justify such a bold appropriation a hip-hop pioneer’s namesake?]  …Whether an expression of homage or a convenient opportunity for self-deprecating humor, I better hear some BEATS.”

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Within minutes, my apprehensions dissolved in the echoes of Small Pro’s “Jamal Gray” instrumental (first track on the mix from link).  Its sublime harmony was most impressive for how perfectly it catered to Jamal Gray, aka THE LAST EMPEROR, our (coincidentally) mutual favorite emcee.  In the following seasons, Small Pro’s gift for absorbing specific techniques from a pack of influences and retrofitting them to a heavily melodic style.  Turning away from overdone 808’s and synths that suffocate the soul/funk/jazz elements inherent to Hip-Hop music built distinguished resume of contest victories and concept-based remix projects, plus instrumental collections, complete with irreverent titles and eccentric imagery, all of which amassed critical acclaim online for their musical vision and cohesive presentation.

…As the timeless saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  For the forward-thinking Small Professor, the value of a melody is quite the same…  Since the early-2012 release of his Gigantic, Vol.1, MC compilation album, Smalls has continued to harvest his fan base through Bandcamp with a trilogy of sequels to 2011’s reliable Jawns instrumental projects, setting the tone for his latest musical evolution, Cool Story, Pro

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Cool Story, Pro is not a drastic departure from its preceding releases, but it’s much, much more than an arbitrary collection of great hip-hop beats.  Best appreciated when played in its undisturbed entirety, each chapter of the glowingly soulful, 25-track opus is coupled with implicit titles like “She’s The One (I Think)”, “Signs”, and “Get Over It Already.”   The titles, as complemented by the dreamlike ambience, moody drums, and emotional vocal samples that weave throughout them, guide the listener through a kaleidoscope of all the sentiments that highlight the timeline of a romantic experience.  To me, Cool Story, Pro could play as the beginning-to-end cinema soundtrack to a love story that needs no dialogue… and subsequently wins ‘best movie’ at the Sundance Film Festival.

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[PRESS] The Symphony Wins 1st @ BOTB w/ !llmind, Rook & S-1

December 25, 2012

Below the video and links to the official competition set on Soundcloud is the press release I drafted to celebrate my friend, Samik’s victory at iStandard Producers’ Beast of the Beats championship competition in NYC… You can also catch plenty of The Symphony’s latest music through The #BOARDROOM Living Compilation Album.

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THE SYMPHONY on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/#bau-symphony

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Saturday, December 1st:  a five-minute contagion of scrunch-face saturated Rebel nightclub during “Beast of the Beats VI” in NYC as Philadelphia-based producer, The Symphony, showcased an epic, 3-track set of music before a Grammy-winning panel of judges including S-1 (Kanye West’s “Power”), !llmind (50 Cent), and Rook from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League.  When the smoke cleared, The Symphony won first place out of 70 reputed beatsmiths, each of whose resume, at minimum, boasts a first or second place score in one of the many regional iStandard Producer Showcases across the United States.  Aside from generous supplements to his repertoire of production tools and personal supply of Monster Energy Drinks, he was also awarded the opportunity to spend a couple days in the studio with G.O.O.D. Music recording artist, Cyhi the Prynce, in Atlanta.

With the potential of some non-disclosed, A-list collaborations on the horizon, The Symphony anticipates the of release many bigger records in time, trying his hand not only in hip-hop but dub-step and house as well.  Never one to shy from challenging his own musical aesthetic or customs of the industry, he has also been a major contributor to The Boardroom, a “living album” project online that remodels itself in accordance with fan feedback.  Check it out to hear his latest single, “Everywhere”, alongside his Business As Usual Entertainment colleagues PT, DS and 2ew Gunn Ciz, plus plenty of other new music…

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Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools” (Hezekiah Remix) w/ Johnny Popcorn

December 24, 2012

Digital stocking stuffer courtesy of Hezekiah and Dave Ghetto

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http://3crates.bandcamp.com/album/swimming-pool-remix-prod-by-hezekiah

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Uptown XO (Diamond District) – “RUGGED” Video w/ Obi Say, Awthentik

December 18, 2012

Just got this in my inbox… dope as fuck.  Let’s just say it’s appropriately titled.  I miss videos like this; the style/scenery of the shoot reminds me of the old Redman “Funkorama” video, also below.

XO’s upcoming album Colour de Grey is coming soon courtesy of Mello Music Group.  In the meantime, you can cop his pre-release mixtape The Color Gray (featuring “Rugged”) for $7 on Bandcamp.  I grabbed this a couple months ago, still play it in my whip regularly.

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Mello Music Holiday Clearance

December 14, 2012

Despite the massive success procured by Rick Ross and his Maybach Music henchmen in recent years, a significant fraction of today’s hiphop fans relate the iconic “MMG” stamp more closely with Mello Music Group, one of the most thriving (truly) independent hiphop labels working right now.  Not only the long-term home for underground mainstay, Oddisee, who according Shady Records Director of A&R, Dart Parker, “is the first act I’d sign if I were running an indie label,” Mello Music is also responsible for introducing acts such as Apollo Brown, Trek Life and Has-Lo to an international audience…

They’re also one of the few hiphop labels out that still presses vinyl, let alone any kind of physical copies.  Through the rest of December, MMG is having a clearance sale on all CD and vinyl via Bandcamp; visit the link below.  Keeping with the holiday spirit, I’ve also included some great free tracks they’ve given us in the last month or so.  (Having a bitch of a time embedding the Bandcamp player, so I’ve just linked them w/ artwork.

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MELLO MUSIC HOLIDAY CLEARANCE (link)

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