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MELLO MUSIC GROUP

Marlowe

Marlowe

    L’Orange & Solemn Brigham are Marlowe. “An artist afraid to overreach himself is as useless as a general who is afraid to be wrong.” Over a half-century later, the axiom remains true for hyper-kinetic hip-hop innovators, North Carolina’s L’Orange and Solemn Brigham—the hard-boiled duo behind the fun house fever dream, Marlowe. Released on Mello Music Group, Marlowe is a triumph of ambition, a rap bricolage blending prohibition and civil rights-era samples with Asian psychedelic rock flourishes.

    An old soul with original ideas, tapping into the eternal reservoir of Sam Cooke to Ice Cube, Otis Redding to Chuck D, Curtis Mayfield to KRS-One. Over the course of 17 tracks, Solemn hurls sharp darts at counterfeits trying to crack his religion, the onslaught of time, and prevaricating rappers—all while paying homage to those who paved the road for him. He bounces off the beats like a trampoline placed in a speakeasy, doubling up on the vocals, burrowing into dense cryptic tangles of slang and then stretching them out with melodic ease. With dazzling cinematic mise en scene, L’Orange crafts a world that sounds like an old-time medicine show dropped into 90s Brooklyn, with Solemn summoning the holy spirit of Big L. Cymbals crash, drums pound, fuzzy guitars ride out, a bronze rain of horns cascade.

    This is gorgeous celestial dust, high-powered fuel with every syllable meticulously ordained. Marlowe cracked the case, but how they did it can only become clear under deeper investigation.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Medicated
    2. Cold Open
    3. Lost Arts
    4. Eddy Appetite’s House Of Definitely Legal Oddities
    5. Things We Summon
    6. Honest Living
    7. Tall Tales
    8. Demonstration
    9. Tales From The East
    10. Fred Sanford
    11. Not So Paranoid After All
    12. Magnificent Slim’s Friendly Tip Off
    13. The Basement
    14. Mayday
    15. Palm Readers
    16. Gone Believer
    17. Vagrant
    18. The Places We Stay

    Mello Music Group

    Persona

      If the soul of hip-hop belongs to the culture, the skeleton belongs to the independent label. From Sugar Hill to Def Jam, Tommy Boy to Rawkus, Fondle Em to Def Jux, the genre’s best music has been birthed by imprints that brazenly defy the status quo, those who champion fearless artists and always prize quality over commerce. For the last eight years, Mello Music Group has lived by that ethos. If you’re reading these words, you’re inevitably well aware of its ascendance and growing legacy. But more importantly, you know the artists—those singular voices channelling the spirits of the past and spitting premonitions of the future. Boom-bap at its best: evolving and expanding the art form, capturing stories of the struggle, upholding the tradition, and keeping the crooked honest.

      Persona unveils the murderer’s row that is the Mello roster of 2015. Oddisee, Apollo Brown, yU, L'Orange, Red Pill, Open Mike Eagle, Rapper Big Pooh, Quelle Chris. The stars of the present teamed with timeless innovators like Phonte (Little Brother), Blockhead, Ras Kass, Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Oh No, Masta Ace, and Bilal Salaam. The result is something that binds current greats with the pioneers who paved the asphalt. It’s both a historical moment and hard as hell. If most compilations are nothing more than a loosely thrown together collection of songs, Persona boasts meticulous focus. “Requiem” finds Phonte and Oddisee indicting American racism and Xenophobia with fury and precision. On “Homicide,” yU and Nottz leave blood dripping all over the canvas. There’s “Celebrity Reduction Prayer,” where Open Mike Eagle lampoons our Hollywood obsession, our overzealous idol worship over Oddisee’s warm Wonder keyboards.

      But there’s ultimately no need to do the track-by-track breakdown. This is an anthology in the most traditional well-curated sense. Turn here if you want to find the best hip-hop artists of their generation in raw and unfiltered form. The bars are brimstone; the beats force your neck to swivel. Through all the discontent, rays of hope begin to emerge. If you remember the feeling you got when you first heard Soundbombing, stop searching. The slang has changed, the style remains indelible, the latest personas have emerged. The new sound is here.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Word To The Wise
      2. Requiem
      3. Homicide
      4. Dark Comedy Late Show
      5. PNT
      6. Circles Around Circles
      7. No Future
      8. American Religion
      9. You First
      10. Hustle Off
      11. Sometimes I Feel
      12. Darlin'
      13. Troubles
      14. All I See Is You

      The Lasso, Jordan Hamilton & The Saxsquatch

      Tri Magi

        Jordan Hamilton, a cellist equally equipped to perform Bach, reimagine Chick Corea, or bow a Drake top line.

        Jordan Hamilton is a "one of one" instrumentalist who somehow allows the cello to land in new revelatory situations regardless of the composition, genre, mood, or approach.

        The Saxsquatch, a saxophonist bent on twisting his instrument into the singular voice of a beast. Saxsquatch plays with a knowledge of the history/pedigree of his instrument, jazz to rock to noise, but does so with a proprietary blend of the styles that leaves saxophone sounding new.

        The Lasso, a producer who has pulled in everything while refusing genre across his run of LPs on Mello Music Group. The Lasso continues his role as providing diverse and creative landscapes that allow the lead voices of his compositions to become players in their own sonic fate.


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Matt says: Massive new direction for the monumental Mello Music Group as they explore future-jazz and blunted beats via multi-instrumentalist & modern Arthur Russell reincarnation The Lasso. Joined by Jordan Hamilton & The Saxsquatch and lying somewhere between FlyLo, J Dilla & the new sound of London jazz - this is incredible!

        TRACK LISTING

        1. City Of Grasss
        2. Born Tempo
        3. Requez
        4. New Equalydian
        5. Played Thrice
        6. Crimson Drip
        7. To Dust
        8. Three Magi Get Paid
        9. Solar Plateaux
        10. Sapphire
        11. They & I
        12. Aural Floral
        13. Voyager Too

        Skyzoo

        All The Brilliant Things

          Skyzoo hits the legendary Mello Music group for his 7th album, 'All The Brilliant Things'. It is clear from the first bars of 'Free Jewelry' that all of the Brooklyn-based MC's razor sharp wit and impeccable flow is in place, backed with a staggered backdrop of rolling bass and MPC-saturated samples.

          There are moments of more sanguine gospel-tinged soul, snippets of vocal fading in and out of the stereo image, accentuated by fuzzy bass and haunted electric piano, before dropping into a groove that wouldn't sound out of place on the biggest downbeat hip-hop releases of the mid-90's. 

          On 'Something To Believe In' we get a sample from Roy Ayers' 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine', lending a cohesive stream to the staggered beats and galloping percussion but it's on track like 'Culture-Ish' that we really see how the perfectly selected guests fit around Skyzoo's unique lyrical style and wry take on modern life. Wonderfully listenable and brilliantly composed, this is without a doubt his greatest work to date in a VERy competitive discography. 

           

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Free Jewelry 03:47
          2. St. James Liquors (feat. Aaria) 03:59
          3. A Tour Of The Neighborhood (feat. Al Skratch) 01:45
          4. Rich Rhetoric 03:38
          5. Bodega Flowers (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid) 04:37
          6. Something To Believe In (feat. Raheem DeVaughn) 03:45
          7. Humble Brag 03:00
          8. I Was Supposed To Be A Trap Rapper 04:18
          9. Plugs And Connections 02:35
          10. The Scrimmage (feat. STLNDRMS) 03:53
          11. Culture-ish (feat. Karriem Riggins & Monica Blaire) 05:42
          12. Bed-Stuy Is Burning (feat. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble) 05:07
          13. What Money Taught Us (feat. Xiolynn) 04:59
          14. Soft Eyes (feat. Blakk Soul) 04:37

          In feudal Japan, the Bushido Code defined the way of the samurai. It was a blueprint to conduct warfare with honor: a system built upon the qualities of rectitude and courage, honor and loyalty. In the modern world, these historical tenets may seem antiquated, or sometimes even obsolete. But the power of tradition is resolute and unyielding. The art of the rugged drum and the razor tongued rap are timeless. After a decade in the music business, Mello Music Group has witnessed the dealings and promises of the record industry. Running counter-clockwise to the mainstream ethic, Mello has settled on its own code of conduct and value system. Their catalogue is a Hagakare of hip-hop - a practical and spiritual guide to the essence. While the sounds are varied, an MMG release ensures that the art comes first, the artists are religiously devoted to the upholding of standards and values. The musicians swing fast blades and fly the Mello banner with speed and strength. This is "Bushido", the latest Mello Music compilation gathering the current roster and the label’s closest brethren. As always, the core shoguns are present: Apollo Brown, Oddisee, Quelle Chris, L'Orange, Joell Ortiz, Skyzoo, and Homeboy Sandman. The rated rookies brandish sharpened swords: Solemn Brigham, Namir Blade, and The Lasso. The legacy teammates with championship trophies are all present: Open Mike Eagle, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Elaquent, Kool Keith, and Mr. Lif. So are label affiliates, Murs, The Alchemist, RJ Payne, and B-Real. The veteran general rounds out the roster, Stalley, the newest member of the Mello family. This isn’t merely an anthology, it’s a fully formed vision of what hip-hop can be. A meticulously assembled arsenal of past, present, and future. Label Daimyo Michael Tolle, has historically used these compilations as an opportunity to create and build, pair new collaborations, and curate the sound for the coming year. At first, these albums heralded the arrival of a new hip-hop force; now, they serve as a reminder that Mello has expanded upon the proud lineage of seminal indie labels like Loud, Stones Throw, Rhymesayers, and Def Jux. It is a sanctuary of the raw. At its core, the artists achieve a platonic ideal of hip-hop. You can hear the spirit of Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang in a song like “Iron Steel Samurai” -- where The Alchemist conjures a brimstone inferno of crunching guitars and anvil drums, and Quelle Chris drops haikus in blood, dousing sauce on everything like siracha. The label’s ingenuity partially stems from its gift at bridging the generations. Between Kool Keith, Mr. Lif, Murs, Alchemist and B-Real, you have artists who fathered entire schools of hip-hop (Keith might well be the Abraham for every left-field MC ). Similarly, the first generation of Mello artists has defined the otherground of this era. Here, Oddisee, Apollo Brown and L’ Orange, embody the distinguished tradition of Pete Rock and Preemo, Dilla and Madlib. On “Gold Gloves” and “Symbol of Hope,” Open Mike Eagle whimsically balances between comic despair and existential mind wandering, like the last great member of the Native Tongues. While Skyzoo and Joell decapitate microphones with masterful swings. So on the beautiful carnage goes. The album and overarching spirit are perhaps best defined by a moment on Homeboy Sandman’s “None.” Like a long lost virtuoso from the Last Poets, Sandman ponders a question at the heart of the matter. He shrugs his shoulders about the current trends, the ones soon to fade out of fashion with the changing of the season. He sagely muses that there’s nothing wrong with liking a different type of song, grateful for his creative freedom from commercial pigeonholing. “There’s a reason why I don’t got to play along,” he raps. “But how many can do I what I can do? None…” It’s a moment that harkens back to the spark of creation that underpins the label: the rigorous code and idiosyncratic originality. A place that reveres the past, while securing the present for future generations. Something that goes on past the music, a deeper aspiration towards something that Tsunetomo Yamamoto wrote in The Book of the Samurai: “It is said that what is called "the spirit of an age" is something to which one cannot return. Although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus, it is important to make the best out of every generation.”

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Matt says: Immensely strong compilation from the Mello Music Group featuring a smorgasbord of the hottest hip-hop talent. I've been all over Apollo Brown for some time, but there's f-in loads I've slept on from this label. So much to dig into here. Lyrical content's sublime, beats are to die for; production's sick. You need this!

          TRACK LISTING

          A Side
          01. Iron Steel Samurai Feat. Quelle Chris, The Alchemist
          02. Gold Gloves Feat. Open Mike Eagle, The Lasso
          03. One Of The Last Feat. Marlowe
          04. Yours Truly Feat. Homeboy Sandman, Kensaye Russell
          05. No Trouble Feat. Oddisee
          06. Gwan B Ok Feat. Zackey Force Funk, The Lasso
          07. Ta-Nehisi The Vocals Feat. Skyzoo, L’Orange
          08. Symbol Of Hope Feat. Open Mike Eagle, Namir Blade, Elaquent

          B Side
          09. Never Lived Feat. Oddisee
          10. Bane Brain Feat. James Shahan, Quelle Chris
          11. Black Rock Feat. Joell Ortiz, Namir Blade, Stalley, Solemn Brigham
          12. Black Man Feat. RJ Payne, Apollo Brown
          13. Nightmare Feat. Cambatta, Apollo Brown
          14. Rap Feat. Homeboy Sandman, Eric Lau
          15. You To Me Feat. Oddisee

          Oddisee

          The Iceberg

            The prolific MC, producer and musician Oddisee’s album ‘The Iceberg’ is a plea for humanity to dig deeper in search of understanding and common ground. ‘The Iceberg’ is a distillation of stereotypical tropes in hip-hop and beyond, 12 tracks about money, sex, politics, race and religion that appear superficial until his multi-dimensional lyrics unfurl to expose the complexities of individuality and identity; how we see ourselves and how others see us. Deeply soulful, and shot through with jazz, Go-go, gospel, thick R&B and hard beats, the album is a timely, poetic statement.

            TRACK LISTING


            Digging Deep
            Things
            Bult By Pictures
            Hold It Back
            You Grew Up
            NNGE (feat Toine)
            Like Really
            Want To Be
            This Girl I Know
            Waiting Outside
            Rain Dance
            Rights & Wrongs (feat Olivier St Louis)


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