hip hop Archive

EP Review: DJ Dallas & SIYAH — Dark Clouds

A new EP from Asheville-based rapper SIYAH (Isa Whitaker) explores faith and family in a style miles away from the gangsta rap of the 1990s. Enlisting talent from the ranks of his own family, SIYAH delivers an impressive 14 minutes of conscious hip-hop on Dark Clouds. Dark Clouds opens with “The Heights.” Like all four

Soul Street Dance: Hip-hop, Storytelling and Music

Soul Street Dance combines hip-hop, storytelling and music, creating a dazzling, high energy show in the process. The two founders of the Houston-based company, Rock Williams and director Javier Garcia both have a long history as dancers. When the company in which they both performed ended its run, the two men knew they wanted to

Ice-T’s ‘Power’ at 30

When considering the work of a high-profile, successful recording artist, it’s often instructive to look at the work they did prior to their breakthrough. Important clues in regard to their creative development can often be identified, and the arc of that development can be more fully understood and appreciated. In hip-hop, one of the genre’s

EP Review: Spaceman Jones and The Motherships — Space and Time

The creative collaboration between Asheville rapper Spaceman Jones and genre-defying outfit RBTS WIN continues to bear fruit. Their first recorded project together was 2017’s RBTS WIN Presents Spaceman Jones and The Motherships. That 11-track set drew from funk and soul, with Jones rapping fluidly over deep-groove, sample-heavy musical backing. The music was as interesting and

Todd Rundgren’s ‘No World Order” at 25

Todd Rundgren has long made a career out of alternatively (and sometimes simultaneously) confounding and delighting his most ardent fans. Resolutely following his muse wherever it takes him, Rundgren is remarkably unbound from commercial considerations; he makes the music he wants to make, how and when he chooses. The result is a body of work

Album Review: Iceberg Slim — Reflections

If I told you that a key inspiration for the slice-of-street hip-hop of Ice-T was an earlier recording artist going by the name of Iceberg Slim, you’d likely develop some immediate preconceptions as to what the earlier iceman sounded like. But I’m here to tell you that you’d probably be way off base. Iceberg Slim

Album Review: The Last Poets – Understand What Black Is

One lens through which one can view hip-hop/rap is as spoken word with musical accompaniment. Though there are myriad exceptions to the rule-as-such, lyrics are often the primary focus of hip-hop, while the beats and melodies (if any) are secondary. Of course that’s not to say that plenty of care and effort don’t go into

Matisyahu on LSD (and Jazz and Reggae)

Musician, rapper and beatboxer Matisyahu arrived at his singular style of music via an unusual route. Growing up a Jewish kid in New York City, he says that the first music he explored outside his parents’ record collection was that of reggae superstar Bob Marley. “I loved the music and everything that went along with

Tank and the Bangas: Big Bang

One of the most intriguing and compelling musical acts to gain recent national attention is Tank and the Bangas. The New Orleans-based group combines spoken word, hip-hop, gospel and other styles into a unique sound all its own. Tank and the Bangas won the prestigious Tiny Desk Contest in 2017, and the group is currently

Natural Born Leaders: Their ‘Time’ Has Come

One of 2018’s most eagerly-anticipated Asheville, NC-related releases is the debut album from Natural Born Leaders. Even in an era of countless cross-genre mashups and hybrids, the music of Natural Born Leaders is difficult to describe, and it resists piegonholing. The group’s sound starts with a relatively conventional rock instrumental lineup: guitarist Rex Shafer, bassist