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Music Review on "Eight" by Extra Kool

Eight by Extra Kool
Another album review for you right before it's release! ~

This record came across to me from another artist from Denver. His name is Extra Kool and his style is indeed pretty cool. He is also from Dirty Lab Productions like the album I reviewed last week from Time & Ephelant and Time actually makes an appearance on this album as well.

This album “Eight” has the feel of a man struggling to hang on to hope and become great...Maybe. For you will see in the album, “becoming great” is not what he is striving for. It begins with a lone ranger type feel of a Clint Eastwood cowboy with a look in his eyes that says he has seen too much. The album begins to really dig deep into what brings some of his sorrow about on “Rabbit Ears” which features beautiful textural vocals from Church Fire. But honestly, what Extra Kool really seems to want to deliver with this album is something for the “wounded heads” to ease back to, relax their minds and just enjoy the kool.

The main glaring criticism I had with this album is the way that it was mixed, it made the vocals a bit hard to hear and were sometimes overpowered by the instrumentals. The production and flow are nice though and remain so throughout the album. Key tracks for me were: “Phantoms” featuring Onry Ozzbron, “Rabbit Ears,” “Herbert West Starter Kit” and “I Already Knew That.”

Listen here!

Ephelant & Time - How To Sew Wounds With Words

Before I jump into the music review here is a quick bio for you to get acquainted to these independent artists:

Stephen Vining (Ephelant) produced all of the music for the album and is also an actor most known for his work in the Walking Dead where he has played some of the most notable walkers such as the Water Walker.

Chris Steele (Time) is the rapper on the album who has done songs with with Kool Keith, C-Rayz Walz, Xiu Xiu, Factor, Jake One and Sole, and engineered/produced a track for Common on The Dreamer / The Believer. Steele is also a journalist and has written articles with Noam Chomsky.

Seth Tobocman, who is a political comic book artist known for his books such as War in the Neighborhood, World War 3, and Disaster and Resistance, made the album cover.

"I'm not a solution; I'm a symptom of the broken.
As long as someone is asleep, then none of us have awoken.
I didn't write this for the ears, I wrote this for the hearts.
I didn't write this for the ends, I wrote this for change to start..."

Begins Time on him and Ephelant's new album "How To Sew Wounds With Words" which opens up with an ethereal spoken word song titled "Under A Complicated Sky" which introduces us to the introspective and poetic feel of this album. The needle then threads all the way up beat though as the complicated feeling of falling we are lifted up into an exciting freefall on "Falling Up." Here we are treated to the effect of falling up as Ephelant delivers a solid upbeat production and the use of circularity in the sound gives the wavy and airy effect of flying.

The album then gets a bit darker from here with "Letter To A Hostage" where Time compares addiction with being a hostage with Stockholm syndrome, with the help of a soulful sung chorus from Giuseppe. This is an important song about how we all sometimes fall in love with our crutches. And just like Ruff Ryder veteran Eve once told us, "Love Is Blind," thus making it hard for us to see these crutches as bad habits that are hurting us.

From here, Time gets deeper and more personal while tackling subjects of the horrors of the victimization of the homeless, poverty, personal depression, family strains, alienation, and looking at the bad parts of oneself. The vocals lent from Church Fire are absolutely beautiful and gives the epicenter of the album that crucially needed emotional edge. I might add that this part of the album is reminiscent of Sole's "Selling Live Water."

Especially on the titular track and then on "The New Scum" and if there is 'single' on this alternative and highly introspective album it would be the latter. And this is not a single in the pop sense, but in the hiphop sense, I mean hiphop culture, music for the the lower class, outsiders, disparaged, and marginalized. "The New Scum" has Time going metaphor to metaphor with lyrical onslaughts on current events, world change, the environment, and so on.

Finally the album ends with a buildup of paranoia matched by personal traumas and the craziness of our current world on "World War Me" and then closing with another spoken word etherealness in "2:15 am" where this story is sewn shut like a tight thread.

The two songs on either end of the album are done in the spoken word manner. The two tracks in in from there are the more upbeat sounds production-wise. Then the songs middling in from there, "Letter To A Hostage" and "The New Scum" are claustrophobic feeling with hard hitting drums with lyrics about more specific things than the outside tracks. Weaving closer to the center still, the songs "Foreclosed Ghost Story" and "My Shadow" are more personal still and also more stylized to Ephelant and Time's unique artistry. Then the titular track “How To Sew Wounds With Words” being of course the epicenter and the most personal on this album, and thus the one that is also a bit more detached in understanding Time as he gets so introspective on the song; but like a thread as we untie what they have sewn for us, perhaps will start to open up clearer with more repeated listens...

This album releases tomorrow on 7/26/2016 so make sure you go get it and listen so you can too Sew Your Wounds With Words

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and join our email community to keep updated with more very soon to come releases and more! #BlackSheepShepherd #GrowthOfCulture #SpreadLove

DJ Pain 1 and Sole Nihilismo Audio Album Review


Sole and DJ Pain 1 take a big step in a new direction from their last album together

Sole has been one of my favourite artists for awhile and I've became a big fan more and more so I'm not going to give a normal review and pretend like it isn't biased. Anyways I only want to do reviews on albums I like because why waste my time on something that isn't positive for me? So for each song segment I'm going to give one of my fave lines from the song that really hit home for me and talk a little about the style of the song and overall message and just share some of my insight I've had into the album so far, because I believe you need to become your own art expert anyway. So I'm not going to give any trivial scores or anything, I'm just going to talk about the art, which in my view is what a review should be about anyway.

So it gets into it showing you the urgency of our times. Even the name of the first song “Generation Fucked” shows the cry for our generation to take action now or else its too late

fave line – Be happy if you never had to learn to rip a motherfucker off or watch your best friend get shot by the cops

DJ Pain 1 and Sole kept their ear to the street on this album, each song really takes away from whats hot right now among the kids and takes that high energy and minimalist style into something fresh and relevant with a message

While the verses may come across a bit longwinded for this type of song for those who aren't used to Sole, the feature from Church Fire offers enough energy to keep the track high octane enough. This first track brings you into the record with so much energy and just love it.

The second song “Too Small To Fail” An anthem for the DIY type of hustlers.
What's cool to me about this song is the level at which Sole is able to take very introspective thoughts and apply them across an image of capitalism. It is a real assault on that Get mine fuck my neighbors mentality that is constantly sold. The scratches and boom bap style of drums from DJ Pain 1 really bring Sole's lyricism to the forefront.

Last line of the song is an ill punchline
Fave line – Work hard and get ahead, its a fuckin fairy tale
You ain't gotta rule the world; if you're too small to fail

I love this line because its a big middle finger to the pyramid scheme everyone is killing each other over to be more successful than one another and its just like, yeah yall go rule the world, I got everything I need I got my whole world right here which is dope. Why struggle for someone elses picture of success if its already in your mentality ya know, they can't take that from you

So stubbornly taking that blind faith into the next song “Capitalism is tearing us apart)”we come into a mix of hardcore rap with one of those rock ballads everyone can sing along to, which is like an anarchist's pop song. I hadn't heard of Decomposure before this, but his great singing had me go look him up. So quick sidetrack - Shoutout to Decomposure, I gave a listen to North Carolina and I'm very impressed so far so check him out.

fave line – A shared power that grows selfless
Means I'm only free if anyone else is

Reason being I just relate with this line so much, it's something I've been feeling and preaching for awhile and if you lived enough life I feel really exemplifies why Capitalism is indeed tearing us apart

“Flood”, no pun intended but this is the song where it really allows you to start sinking into the world of this album. The song is really held up by DJ Pain 1 on this, he crafts an increasingly inventive track here, which keeps your head knocking and allows you to finally have a slightly more laidback feel here while Sole recalls back to some of his more abstract days in his poetry on this one.
Fave line – “They wanna whitewash Martin (King Jr) and misquote (Stanislaw) Osada...”
up to to where it says - “let's build, not be sold”

That whole breakdown is like a movie of mental slavery and then progressing into a film of the workers taking the freedom back, it's a beautiful segment. A true cry for change before the Flood

“Extinction Event” hasn't grabbed my heart as much as the other tracks yet. I love the melody to this one and I dig how dark and personal Sole gets here. But for me, I also feel like the beat isn't dark enough to match the subject matter of the song. It's still a great song though, and the lyrics here give a lot of insight worth your listening, even if just for how honest this song is.

Fave line – You can have it all – If you learn to eat shit

This line just shits on the plastic niceness and the bs illusion that the media constantly feeds as being what should be desired fame and wealth.

“Hostage Crisis” the next track hits that nice blend of bringing that dark ethereal style of Sole with the heavy hitting bangers DJ Pain 1 delivered on this album. The feature from Chris Hanna gives this song that extra edge to really help craft this into a beautiful piece as a whole album and not just another great song from Sole & Pain 1.

fave line – where the vacuum is closed, all we produce is debt

Just a crazy illustration to our economic system

“National Bird” comes in with a funky guitar groove that will have you rocking along all the way through this one. Sole comes heavy on this one giving punchline after punchline like he's trying to bring the system down to its knees with hardcore bars. This is the epicenter of the album, in that it really exemplifies the new style they were aiming for on this album and where the revolutionary rhymes of Sole and precisely crisp production of DJ Pain 1 come together so solid it makes you feel like 'It Will Take A Nation Of Millions' to hold them back.

Fave line – You will never see a city the same, only a sociopath remains unchanged
And they wonder why we smoke the weed out?

This song right here, This is what new school Public Enemy feels like! And just how Public Enemy will never be obsolete, neither will this one...So let's light the matches!

“My Brand” is a tongue-in-cheek type song, where you recall the détournement that Sole had touched on in Nuclear Winter. He even makes the hook mockingly repetitive here. DJ Pain 1 does a great job of balancing those smoothed bass chops and catchy simple club type loops with creative synths sprinkled throughout.

fave line – God is a cop, I am an empty vessel
Waiting for someone to fill me up

Cus its so damn true
“Self Destruct” At this point of the album you are really into this revolutionary cry for change now and are ready for what this song throws at you. Its deceptively complex, with a simple pop sound, but with many different sounds at work in the instrumentation and each phrasing of Sole is delivered much slower, but with much gravity. What I dig about this song is the purpose and directness.

fave – When you were born and they first wade you
First thing they did was put up your hands
I won't tell you to put your hands up
Cus' I'm not a fucking dictator

It's both potent lyricism and wickedly funny

“Walk On The Plank” they take a bold change up and get into a funky vibe with Pain 1 bringing out a style derived from Raggae and Dub music that I haven't heard from either of them. But this is not experimental, this is a solid track with an awesome feature from Jah Boogie. Jah, we are One

fave line – My fave line is the test-tube line, and its really because its one of those lines that have another meaning for me personally then the actual meaning of the song. Theres this really inside joke, my mother always called me a test-tube baby so the line just tickles me in a very metaphorical would make no sense to anyone but my mother and I kind of sillyness.

So anyyyyway as we feel the powerful chant from Jah Boogie to hold on strong in these trying ending times, our spirits are lifted and ready for the cathartic “Exodus” with an awesome feature from none other than Fake Four artist Ceschi Ramos! For those of y'all that remember some of their previous collabs like that great song

Fave line – so hard to pick a favourite line on this one, because the cohesion of song between these artists is on such another level, but I'm gonna have to go with

Life aint shit, but holding your loved ones close
And having their backs when it matters most
We were raised to walk alone
So when they say you don't need a crew
It ain't true
Just don't roll with cowards
And you'll be cool

Because there is so much I can take away from that and hold on to as solid values to take forth in life

The bonus tracks “Our Words” and “Battle Of Humans” I had listened to already quite a bit before the album came out as they were released as kind of momentum for the album. They both adhere to the theme of the album Nihilismo well, but they sound a bit more nihilistic in nature than the songs that made the cut. They make for great bonus tracks and are solid in their own right, but what really makes Nihilismo so amazing and such a critical album is it's ability to go beyond that and offer a real narrative and challenge to that nihilism and hope in the revolution against capitalism. So if you're into that, if you are starving for some real music with a message and not some pseudo-political drivel placating to the masses then definitely give this a listen. I'll tell you this, this is not basic edginess like Beyonce sitting on a cop car while admitting she's black (I know big news flash to white folk); this is heartfelt hiphop music building a real dialogue on the harshest realities of our time.

Cat Power Sun Review

Hello Growth Of Culture faithful, if you are new here, welcome to "Why Weird Is The New Cool" :-D

I am very grateful that Cat Power liked my version of Good Woman

So with her recently on my mind I wanted to share with you the review I had wrote awhile back on Cat Power's latest album "Sun"

Now that I have a blog all you fine people can read it :-)

Cat Power Sun

Track-by-track review of Cat Power - Sun - her latest album:

I was thinking of maybe doing one of those youtube video reviews reading it aloud. Let me know what y'all think?

With Cat Power's latest album “Sun” she stands up and screams “No More Pain And Agony,” with a very convincing and soulful force. Moving away from her slow, melodic analog instrumentation to a more vibrant electronic sound, this album may at first glance alienate some of her more stubborn long-time fans. However, if you give it a real discerning listen I guarantee that you will see the joyous and triumphant feeling this record can give you.

The opening song “Cherokee” can be seen as many things. It can be seen as her letting go of her depression, it can be seen as a rebirth for her, but most of all it is a declaration of her heading into the light and out of the darkness. It introduces us to the new, free Cat Power.

She continues to live free in the light on the title track "Sun." You can already tell here that this album is going in a way more electronic direction than her previous albums. While many artists are riding the wave of the current success of electronic music, Cat Power never uses this ostentatiously or pandering for younger audiences. Each element is chose purposefully and they are used creatively to highlight her new happy emotions and vigor on this album.

“Ruin” is the type of song that makes you want live. Go out, go adventure! It has a very natural feel good groove that can easily make this anyone's “go get 'em” anthem that they listen to every morning.

One could argue that “3,6,9” might be not dig as deep as the rest of the songs on this album. It doesn't carry as much emotional weight as some of the other songs, nor is the melody as intricate. It does however offer a chance for you to relax on the album. This song has familiar country swing to it and the chorus is catchy enough. Hey, she's feeling good on this record, she's allowed a pop song or two that is there merely to just put a smile on your face. Even her mistakes are perfect this time around. ;-) No, but seriously, it is a fun song.

So after the filler track she gets heavy right back again and delivers some of her most ponderous lyrics. “Always On My Own” is so pithy, it allows for many questions. Is this about an ex-lover where there was distance? Is this song about wanting to live selfishly without God or His wishes? Whatever the case, we can see in this song the hurt of her living alone before and her eyes-forward living freely attitude of now.

On “Real Life” Cat power argues for living your dreams. Yes, it will be a struggle, but there is nothing wrong with fighting strong. In the final verse,
“I met a teacher, he want to be a dreamer
I met a sister, she want to meet her maker
I met a poet, he want to be a joke
I met a dog, he just want a bone”
she manages to cleverly balance the struggle of not being what you want to be with a cute and humorous remark that kind of says, 'hey, it may be a struggle, but at least you're human,' while also working as a double entendre for guys who just wanna bone.

“Human being” is so powerful and soulful it might bring you to weep. The song ranges over all sorts of the human condition. The first part touches on social injustice and suppression, followed by crying out for everyone's basic human rights, such as life. It is a long overdue plea that
“See the people on TV get shot in their very own street
People just like you, people just like me”
is an absolute societal failure and tragedy. The song remains positive and hopeful throughout and she delivers some of my favourite lyrics from this album in
“You've got your own voice so sing
You've got two hands, let's go and make anything
We all got rules we all have to break
We all have to make those mistakes”
It shows the human condition in such an empathetic way that we see that WE are ALL in this together and if we do stand together, we can make it.

“Manhattan” might be my favourite song on this amazing album. It was the first one that really hooked me hard and made me listen to it again and again. It highlights the rest of the tenacious, bold warrior-spirit that Cat Power carries on this album. This song can give solace in that it's deceptively overt about an indiscretionary cheating ex-lover. The poetry runs way deeper than that though. The song is also inquisitive of the listener and/or maybe Cat herself. How much have you shelled your heart and lived in that deception in secret? Have you tried to be your own Manhattan, when you couldn't be?

“Silent Machine” is a ferocious song. It seems to be about faith, then it is torn on religion (not that the two can't be mutually exclusive). The best thing about this song is its atmosphere. It manages to be a little dark and moody without being too sad and manages to be fun and catchy without being too poppy. The ambient layering of backing vocals only give it more flare and attitude and are creative enough to give those of us who want to hear many nuances with something to keep our ears preoccupied.

“Nothin' but Time” is boastfully exuberant. This song has seen some life and weathered the storm. This song shows the hardships of being who you want to be and challenges you to never give up on yourself. This song challenges you to be a super hero and go for it all in life.

The final track “Peace and Love” ends us with a more brash style than we are used to hearing from Cat Power. It is intense and full of attitude. This song is not the peace and love where everyone is content and takes no action; this song is about peace and love in the movement for progress. This song offers the peace and love of the future we must fight for. Listen to this album and use its power to go rule the world. Go be your dream. In this showing of the human condition, we as humanity will all rise and stand up for what is right.

I'm not going to lie to you, this review is a bit biased in that Cat Power is by far one of my favourite artists. But I wouldn't put my word on it if I didn't believe in it. This album showcases what I love about her just as much as any of her discography could. She creates an entire world, each album distinctly different stylistically, each their own; and each time she offers an insurmountable despair and how to succeed over it. Cat Power is consistently triumphant despite the greatest odds against her. On this album “Sun” in particular, she rises out of the darkness of her past and into the light of truth in the now.

Thank you for reading beautiful people and don't forget to subscribe!

Kxngo KO new single "MMMX (SwingFlex)" Review

New Music Single MMMX (SwingFlex)

With the ease of availability for artists to get their music out via the internet through avenues in the likes of Soundcloud, Soundclick and so many more the internet has become inundated with new artists and the competition to stand out above the crowd and be heard is fiercer than ever!

So how does one stand out in today's crowded market? Well of course, first of all your music has to be great. But that doesn't cut it, there are plenty of great artists out there. You have to be creative, you have to learn how to market well, and you have to give the people a reason why they should listen to you as quickly as possible before they move on to the countless others.

As an example I would like to introduce an artist I found a few days ago. He goes by the name Kxng KO and he comes out of Boston, Massachusetts. His creativity of infusing styles from EDM, Trap, Soul, and Dance music comes together with a polished professional sound.

In his words he describes his single “MMMX (SwingFlex) as “A TrapRap, Soul Infused dance ballad inspired by the theory of genetic reincarnation” You see that? The description is short and sweet and grabs your attention so that you are intrigued to what that could be about so that you listen. How can a dance ballad be inspired by the theory of genetic reincarnation? I had no clue, but I wanted to find out.

The song mixes revolutionary cries of homage to Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X and makes it pop and relevant with well executed simple but hard-hitting drums and a catchy background melody that strings the many elements going on this song together.

Fellow artists if you want to stand out in this highly competitive world of music, take some notes from this new single by Kxng KO. Make your own unique sound and make it polished and high quality. If you don't take your art seriously, why should anyone else? Be able to briefly catch the attention of your listeners. And work hard, there are too many great artists out there for you to rest on your laurels, you've got to work harder than the other great artists.

Also, use whatever you may have that is unique to you that you can connect with your listeners with. Because at the end of the day music is about human connection. Maybe you and your listeners both like gaming, or hiking, or pet bunnies? Or maybe you are also a great writer and you can start a really cool blog ;-)

Stay beautiful Growth Of Culture Community!
And you can find Kxng KO's new single here:

∞ ♥ ...