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Posts from the ‘Album Review’ Category

22
Jun

Vintage Track: Hoi’ Polloi “Satisfaction Guaranteed”

hoi-polloi

On August 6, Family Vineyard will reissue the lone LP from Richmond, IN’s Hoi’ Polloi. It’s the debut release from Family Vineyard’s reissue imprint, Folk Evaluation. The album was recorded by some Earlham College students over spring break in 1972. This month, Family Vineyard shared the first single from the LP. Listen to “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and watch a trailer on the release below. If this appetizer is any indication, the limited edition wax (edition of 500) is worthy of a pre-order. The reissue is chocked full of bonus materials: Original xerox insert. Extensive liner notes featuring Patrick ‘The Lama’ Lundborg’s 2003 conversation with the band (expanded with newly conducted interviews), a digital download of the album featuring the original stereo mix of “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and a wealth of bonus material from the band members’ vaults, including rare cuts from Earlham’s annual student-produced “Crucible” LPs and a collection of never-before-heard live recordings.

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hoi-polloi-cover

Vinyl Pressing Review: Hoi’ Polloi – Self-Titled

 

 

 

 

Written by Rob Peoni

15
May

Album Review: Illogic & Blockhead ‘Capture The Sun’

capture-the-sun

Illogic and Blockhead seemed liked a natural fit as an MC/producer team from the time they announced they were working on an album a couple years ago.  Blockhead needed an MC to work with after Aesop Rock became his own producer and Illogic was looking for a producer to help him craft another classic like he and Blueprint did with his 2004 album Celestial Clockwork.  A few years after Illogic first reached out to Blockhead to work on a project, Capture The Sun is here, and it feels like an album from a MC/producer group that’s been together for years instead of a random rapper/beat-maker forced combo.

As an MC, Illogic has evolved over the years.  Thought provoking, poetic word play has always been a calling card, but throughout Capture The Sun Illogic relies less on cleverness and more on sharing hard earned life wisdom and truths.  “Capture The Sun” and “Beautiful Sunday” are back to back cuts that are probably more representative of the album than any other two individual songs.  Neither is overtly religious, but both focus on the power of positive thinking and the importance of seizing the day.  “Capture The Sun” was the first single and features Slug from Atmosphere on the hook.  I previously featured its great video for Thought on Tracks. Blockhead incorporates a couple of great vocal samples (a levitating wail on “Capture The Sun” and a soul refrain on “Beatiful Sunday”) that really drive the songs and help to demonstrate the complex art behind his layered, sample based productions.

Bridges” is less than two minutes long but it packs a serious punch.  Illogic uses one verse to paint a vivid picture detailing his struggle with cancer as a youth, his ability to gain strength through becoming a husband and father, and finally his willingness to burn a bridge with ‘Fess’ (presumably former Greenhouse Effect member Manifest).  Blockhead’s simple infectious beat must have really lit a fire under Illogic because his verse is probably the albums best, opening with the gem “Talk is cheap, but a whisper is priceless/ I choose to take a leap of faith no matter what the price is”.

Blockhead’s production is so varied at this point in his career that Capture The Sun doesn’t sound like it was produced by one person.  His beat for “Justified” might be my favorite of the bunch because of the multitude of samples and shifts that the song utilizes while still maintaining a cool swing.  Illogic and Blueprint trade verses about the role race and racism have on the way the police do their job in America and show why they always make such a great team.  “Atlantis Depth” is another great contribution from Blockhead featuring some great jabbing guitar riffs and a creepy vocal sample that sounds like it’s coming from the depths.  Blockhead’s judicious use of horns on “Atlantis Depth” and throughout the album complement Illogic’s vocals perfectly, they always seem to come in at the right time.

Capture The Sun ends on a high note with the album’s best song “Lighthouse.”  Blockhead’s trippy, morphing beat sets the stage for Illogic to spit another of the albums best verses.  Opening strong with- “Showered in blankets of two dimensional soothsayers/ today’s truth sayers are stick figured visionaries/ There’s a gaping hole in the basket we placed our eggs in/ This explains the constant eggshell walking”, Illogic uses the his verse to gaze outward at the world around him and ask “where will we draw the line to ensure that future generations aren’t ashamed of the legacies we leave?”.  The song is capped off by a truly great appearance from singer/alternative hip hop Kristoff Kane that tails Illogic’s verse.  I’d never heard of Kane before this release, but he’s made me an instant fan with his work on “Lighthouse.”

While the lead-up EP’s that Illogic and Blockhead released last year were recorded at the same time as the songs from Capture The Sun, all of the songs that made the album have a level of polished complexity not found on the EP’s.  Capture The Sun is not a concept album, but Illogic’s spirituality is the bond that ties the sixteen tracks together.  Illogic has always used religious imagery in his music, but he seems more confident and open with his spiritual side than ever before.  Blockhead’s beats on the album sound like soul symphonies from the future.  Already one of the one most consistently great beat makers around, Blockhead’s craftsmanship and attention to detail on every single song on Capture The Sun make it the best produced album I’ve heard in 2013.  Go pick up the album up over at Man Bites Dog.

Written by John Bugbee

23
Apr

Track for Track Interview: Elucid & AM Breakups on ‘For Madmen Only’

Cult Favorite consists of MC Elucid and producer AM Breakups. I reviewed their stellar debut For Madmen Only earlier this year and reached out for them to be the guinea pigs for a new interview format I came up with for Thought On Tracks conveniently titled “Track for Track”, designed to give the reader some insight into the concepts behind each individual song contained on a particular album. They obliged, we linked up over Skype and peeled back some of the layers of the onion that is For Madmen Only.

cult-favorite

1. People’s Temple

Thought on Tracks- Elucid on the first song “People’s Temple” your rhymes sound like they’re from the perspective of a cult leader. Can you touch on the perspective you used to write the song?

Elucid- I just wanted to set the vibe for the album as far as like the concept as the Cult Leader. I mention
Father Divine and Daddy Grace and those are two guys from the New York Area, leaders of large groups
of people in the 50’s for Daddy Grace, and Father Devine was a little earlier on in the 20’s. Also I had in
mind guys like Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre. A lot of the lyrics like “for who so ever believes”
are like bible verses. I was raised a lot of my life in the church so coming out of that, that’s like second
nature to me. I wouldn’t consider myself a Christian now, I don’t go to church or follow those kinds of
teachings, but it’s natural for me to reflect back on that.

ToT- When you say “Fear not you are perfection, would you die for my message, after all that I’ve
invested” you could take it from the perspective that someone is deceiving someone or possibly
helping them out.

Elucid- It’s encouragement, but with ulterior motives there, even evil…With the Jonestown example he
did that so much that these people packed up and left the country…

AM Breakups- It’s scary to have blind faith in anything. I know kids that I grew up with that are Jesus
freaks now and you can’t get a thing in their ear because they are so thankful that someone has done
this for them. It’s a very strange psychology to get into that, it’s almost unnecessarily guilt driven, like
you gotta pay them something back.

2. Technoccult

ToT- The specific word “Technocult”, is that something you came up with? Or where did it come
from?

Elucid- It came from a free write session. (I just thought) these words sound cool together. Technology
and Occult, you can kinda jump off from that, like “Data miners tracking my keystroke/ they offer me
deep throat” thinking along internet lines with surveillance. It included ideas like police brutality as you see in the interlude at the end. I try to have concepts, but I’m not the best with that honestly, I just kind
of let it go.

AM- Which is amazing because your songs are all so conceptual by the time they’re done.

Elucid- I think it comes out of being aware. I read news, watch news, read books…all that makes its way
out via the rap. But I don’t really think about things when I sit down and write, I just go where his tracks
tell me.

ToT- AM, the beat on “Technoccult”, especially the drums, has a thick, almost underwater feel
to it that I feel is representative of the album. Were you trying to create any particular sound or
atmosphere?

AM- (Elucid) really pushed me to do things out of my comfort zone that I’ve never done before. When
we were making it he would come over every Sunday for our Sunday worship. I would play him things
that I had worked on and wasn’t sure about and a couple of them that I didn’t think were worthy tracks,
he said “No, this is finished”. I would have kept going but he made me restrain myself at times.

3. Omega3

ToT- For “Omega3,” which features billy woods, was it something where you already had the concept for the song and asked woods for a verse or how did it come together?

Elucid- We had already done “Freedman’s Bureau” and on that song I was going again with police
brutality and I think he thought “I can fuck with this kid”, so on this record here we went more with the
racism in America type of thing…I was working at this bullshit job and got harassed on the phone and it
turned into that song.

AM- You showed up at our crib right after work that day and were like, “You’ll never guess what
happened to me at work today”.

Elucid- Yeah, so it came out of that experience and when I sent it to (woods) he was like, “Oh yeah, I’m
all about it”. We had just started making the Cult Favorite record and he was like “What is it about?
What’s the concept” and I told him the title came from reading essays from Eldridge Cleaver and he had
a strong anti-opinion of Eldridge Cleaver, so his line (“don’t get it confused like Eldridge Cleaver/ Soul on
Ice, balls deep in white pussy/ still cuts like a knife when he out juxing”) is a little jab at my concept.

4. God Body

ToT- “God Body” is a different song from most of the album, is it about a specific relationship or what is it drawn from?

Elucid- It came from a couple different relationships, being attracted to these similar types of women.

AM- (Elucid) gave me the drum loop, but that’s interesting we haven’t really talked about how on a
couple of occasions it goes from the cult leader vibe the girl/romance thing.

Elucid- Yeah, I mean cult leaders have sex, we like to fuck too!

[All Laugh]

AM- As a whole package I think it’s cool because it exposes the weaknesses, where as other places it’s
much more bravado.

Elucid- I think I brought it in late into the album, I thought “I haven’t even talked about women at all on
this record” so I thought pulling from real life stories it would work.

5. Planet Earth About to be Recycled

ToT- “Planet Earth About to be Recycled” is an instrumental track so AM, I’ll talk to you about this
one. What does the name mean and is there a concept behind the song?

AM- It’s funny that’s the only instrumental on the record and (Elucid) made the whole thing.

ToT- Really?

AM- No, but he played the synth…if you notice on that track it’s the same high-hat from “For all of
These Birds” and then Elucid sat with a couple synthesizers and made most of the tones, he sent me a
60’s rock track that we sampled for the distorted screaming sound, and then he picked all of the vocal
samples. So he basically made the whole thing, I just put an 808 underneath it.

[All Laugh]

Elucid- Yeah it came from a lot of different voices like Khalid Muhammad…Marshall Applewhite…Alex
Jones, who’s nutty and controversial but there’s certain things that he said that I sampled from…Bill
Hicks was on there too.

ToT- Were you responsible for all the vocal samples used throughout the album?

Elucid- Yeah, I did all of that. Even on my earlier projects I did that. AM was the first producer to give
me full reign…he was just really free to work with me in that way, I could even produce my own vocals
and stuff like that, so it was cool.

6. For all of These Birds

ToT- “For all of These Birds” is a big song for you guys, being a single and having a video. There’s a lot going on in the lyrics and the production is great. Just take me through that one.

Elucid- I think “For all of these Birds”, like “Omega3”, came out of frustration with work, “Dressing
better than my boss when what I have’s not what I want/ Still I’m thankful others make it work with
less”. I knew what I wanted to write about once I heard his beat, it just kinda took me there, that was
probably my favorite of the bunch that we recorded.

AM- That’s another one of those tracks where I don’t know if I’ve ever produced something like that
before or if I ever will again…I think Jimmy Da Gent was spinning a Cam’ron song in the living room
at the time and I was like, “Fuck this, I can make my kicks like that” and then it just turned into this
monster.

Elucid- The title is his title from the original beat, I didn’t do anything but add lyrics…I did the whole song
from top to bottom with no stopping and thought it was the best song we’d done.

AM- You can hear him say “gotta switch it off, gotta go from the paper back to the digital” when he
switches from the piece of paper he wrote the first verse on to his phone where he wrote the second.
He did it in all one take and then we all just sat there for a while.

7. Then He Rose

ToT- You follow up “For All of These Birds” with “Then He Rose” which is also as good of song as there
is on the album…

Elucid- That one almost got cut from the record. I didn’t want to put it out…I didn’t think it was that
strong, I thought it was very confusing to people. I thought that way because it was personal to me
in my upbringing. It was like bible verses twisted to fit where I wanted to go with that…I didn’t think
people would be into it…(AM) convinced me to put it on there

AM- It’s important, it’s the counterpart for “People’s Temple”. It shares the “there’s a man at the
pulpit” kind of thing. For me that track has a lot of weird inside stuff going on…The intro sample where
the guys are talking in the studio, that’s Levon Helm from The Band and he had just passed away so I
found this studio outtake where they were talking and I put that at the beginning and Elucid, completely
inadvertently, wrote a lyric in that song that goes “The band played a song, a smile spread across the
audience”.

Elucid- I had no idea that was a Band sample, I’d never even heard of The Band.

AM- Also back in the day Elton John was obsessed with The Band and wrote a bunch of his songs about
The Band including one called “Levon” where he says “(Levon) calls his child Jesus”. Levon had passed
away so it all came full circle with the “Then He Rose”/Resurrection thing and it became this weird head
trip of a concept.

8. Demolition

ToT- “Demolition” was the first song I heard that really got me excited about you guys as a group. Was it one of the first songs you recorded together?

AM- The first one was “No Invitation”, which is truthfully an AM Breakups featuring Elucid track because
that instrumental had been used on my previous album The Cant Resurrection…but I was making (the
“Demolition”) beat and I was super, super stoned. Jimmy Da Gent had dosed me with weed butter, I
was supposed to go out on a date or something this night and it was like me and Jimmy Da Gent and
MC Eleven chillin’ at the crib and Jimmy said like “Yo you gotta make sure that you eat before you go on
your big date”. I’d broken up with a girlfriend of like 2 years, really nervous and the kid fed me so much
weed that I was stoned out of my gourd. Eleven’s sitting on my couch writing raps and I’m just making
this beat because I’m really frustrated and really fucked up and I’m like, “This is definitely for Elucid”. I
burned two CDs, one of regular AM Breakups beats and one with just (Demolition) on it…I came to that
show that you did down in the Village.

Elucid- Culture Fix

AM- I was like “Here’s all these beats you should check out, but this other CD is THE beat that I made for
you”…must have been a week or two later you were like “Yo, I listened to that one that you told me to
write to, and I kinda like it now, I didn’t know what to do with it at first.” That was the second track that
we actually recorded, but the first Cult Favorite track.”

9. Mollywhop

ToT- To me “Mollywhop” is more of a classic hip hop banger, the way the track hits you immediately, Elucid comes through really clearly on the song, what was the feel for making that song?

Elucid- It’s another song that I did not want to include on the record.

AM- [Laughs] We wouldn’t have had any songs on our record!

Elucid- On the hook I was like, “Oh that’s too much DMX” and then again I thought it was too slow and
too dark to do live, but again it just worked, people dig it…This is like the end scene, closing credits ya
know? “Dark shades in the rain, 10,000 yard gains”. This is I’m getting taken down, the Feds are rushing
in, like this is it ya know? It’s me recollecting…The “no knock, no knock” thing that came from these
NYPD laws, they don’t have to knock if they find whatever’s behind your door, if they find suspicious
cause they can just barge on in and mollywhop upside that head.

ToT- AM on the piano parts on there, did you take individual piano notes and stack them together or
was that a sample used on that song?

AM- I kinda give it away at the end of the track a little bit when I let the original sample ride out for
a minute. I guess I shouldn’t tell who it is, but it’s a really well known sampled guy, Busta Rhymes
sampled him for a couple of old 90’s singles and I don’t think anybody in a million years would have
chopped that sample and used it the way that I did because it’s not the way that the rhythm was
supposed to go…but that’s just one piece, that is actually one of the only songs that has synthesizer on
the album that wasn’t from a sample. Both the bass and the twinkly synth that comes in in the second
half are from synthesizers.

Cop For Madmen Only on wax at CultFavorite.com and look out for the full album remix featuring an
all-star list of producers which is dropping later this year.

Interview by John Bugbee