Author: Lance Saunders

cosmCOSM
Microphone Boutique

Pseudo Recordings
Street: 02.19
Recorded at Deep Red Records Studio by Alex Vazques

Well, for starters … their website is broken. Maybe it’s just under construction while they remove all of the haplessly outdated pictures of Wendy (the former COSM frontwoman). The reason I brought it up is because I don’t think I have ever seen a full-length album produced by the likes of the local electronica-hop legends. I thought I could obtain the facts; no can do. Microphone Boutique is another five-track effort by Daniel Day (Drums) and Amuse (Decks and Electronics) featuring Ramases (rigorous raps) and Ms. Karter (sultry song). Every COSM album is a little different. However, as the chosen arrangement of songs played, I couldn’t tell if I was listening to the same record or not. Microphone Boutique bounced from one vocalist to the other, changing the mood on every composition. But let it be known: COSM conveys a genuine harmony and approach to the music they make; maybe that’s what makes a commendably cohesive EP. Who needs a full length anyway?

The Numbs - NfinityThe Numbs
Nfinity 

Earthburn Records
Recorded by Andy Patterson, Numbs & Rick One
Street: 12.26.06
Numbs = Rotton Musicians+ Kerbloki + GunnarDagoRoosterAfakasiShanty

The Numbs have come a long way since their first release many years ago. With their trademark robotic sound style, this futuristic and hip hop album glorified with the street boom bappish lyrics of the four locals known as The Numbs – unveils their continued growth and strikes a nerve in your music library. They have pure and utter control over their style on every song. Sometimes cold, ever so often mean, occasionally fuzzed, repeatedly rhythmic and smooth proving that this record stands out as one of the most progressive local hip hop albums in a while. There’s a practiced, almost alert ease throughout the whole record. Depth without being deep, simplicity without being Simple and it’s hard not to walk away from Nfinity without a sense of what they are trying to portray,  years of dedication and a mutual love for the music they make.

Image Unavailable

 Mug Shots Present - The Hangover (local compilation) Mug Shots Present
The Hangover (local compilation) 

Mug Shots Muzik
Street: April 2007
The Hangover = Salt Lake Hip Hop + Love Songs + Kill Yer’ Hero

Every MC on this compilation knows the rules when it comes to bringing something new and believable to the table. That’s why I find my self a little disgruntled with the album. It’s a pretty typical looking-glass glance into what’s going on in the local hip-hop scene right now; which could be a good-or-bad thing depending on your taste pertaining to this particular genre. However, throughout most of the album, I was very impressed by clean drums over interesting samples and production that screams “professional.” Local lyricist’s like Bloswick, KnoitAlls, Bomb City, Fizzy Form, Samiam, XV, among others, cut-and-paste verse and vibration to make up this 18-track anthology. Some songs require a sense of humor, while others are genuinely solid tracks taken from local albums that you might have heard before. Note: I write these reviews for free. Send hate mail to lance@slugmag.com.

Ghetto Athlete - Tha Game of LifeGhetto Athlete
Tha Game of Life

MadChild Records
Street: 09.04
Ghetto Athlete = Spencer Beats + Lil’ Wayne + K-9

It’s odd to hear a local Utahn Represent Oakland and the Bay Area, but what do I know? Loaded with dopey-dope ass beats produced by Spencer Bridges, this album stands alone as one of the best examples of Fruit Loops mastery. Predictive rhymes about being on the streets and riding or dying fall somewhat flat, but the rhythm keeps time with the meter. Ghetto Athlete doesn’t chase the beat, he rides it. Songs like “Little Sally Walker” keeps the creep vibe alive and definitely changes the albums mood with an almost morbid ambiance while “Skyway” brings the listener back to reality and speak-and-spell understanding. The only thing I can’t wrap my brain around is the strain towards making sure that every listener knows that Ghetto Athlete is from the west coast, but has “mad respect” for the east coast and the dirty south. Quimby and I can agree, Ghetto Athlete has the skills to make his meals.

There’s a lot of “mash-up” DJs out there nowadays, but not one of them can be compared to the Z-Trip recipe.

[Z-Trip]In the past year, Z has been very goal-oriented. He has a mix on the new Motown Remixed album, a cameo on the new Scratch: All The Way Live DVD, and, now signed with Hollywood Records, he’s ready to spread his musical wings even farther with his debut release, Shifting Gears. All of these projects hit the streets April 19.

SLUG: Are you excited/nervous about the release of Shifting Gears?

Z-Trip: Yes, I’m excited and nervous. Not in an “Oh my god, how’s it going to do?” sort of way, but when you work on something for a long period of time, you get the butterflies before it comes out.

SLUG: Would you say that you’re self-conscious about it?
Z-T: You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t. No matter what people say … I feel good about it.

SLUG: When you did “Breakfast Club” with Murs, was there more play than work, or vice versa?
Z-T: No man, it was definitely more play. When him and I get in the studio, we never get shit done. He’s a super-cool guy and I think we are always going to be working on music together because we click musically.

SLUG: Did you grow up in Phoenix or Queens? Also, what was the reason for your relocation to L.A.?
Z-T: I was born in Queens, moved to Phoenix when I was seven and my parents got a divorce when I was 12. My dad moved to N.Y. and my mom stayed in Arizona. I was constantly going back and forth. New York is where I got turned onto hip-hop. Listening to the radio, taping the songs and bringing them back to Arizona. So I built my name there and I would go out and do gigs all over the world based out of Arizona. So I took that next step and moved to where the “industry” is: L.A.

SLUG: I see that you worked with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington on your new album. What was the object of all that? Was it the gathering of money? The satisfying of an audience? Was it purely respect?

Z-T: It was straight to make a pop tune. No, I’m joking. The reason is that he’s from Phoenix too, and the first time I went on tour with them, I was speaking with him and we both found out that we know the same people. So when it came time to make this record, I reached out to him and it was about making a song with another dude from Arizona. It was just that. It was a thumb to everyone who thinks they know our sound. Both of us are pigeonholed as “the guy who screams” or “the mash-up guy.” I said, “Fuck that, let’s do the opposite of what everyone expects of us.”

SLUG: What programs or equipment do you use to make your beats on?
Z-T: EPS 16 Plus, but I make mostly everything on my ASR 10. Eventually everything gets tracked into Pro-Tools for chopping.

SLUG: Who is your favorite band to open up for?
Z-T: Believe it or not, Dave Mathews Band was my favorite because of their crowd. They are the most open-minded to what I do under the umbrella of hip-hop. Then there’s James Brown, Rolling Stones, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Rush, AC/DC, Linkin Park. I don’t have a favorite. I like them all.

S: What about the Motown Remixed album; what songs did you cover?
Z-T: At first I wanted to do a very conscious, early 70s Temptations track that talks about protesting war. I couldn’t come like that, though. I did a remix of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back;” I had to make it a little more poppy. I’m glad that it’s the lead on the record. I feel everyone did an equally impressive job on the album.

SLUG: When was the last time you were close to having a nervous breakdown?
Z-T: The album advance that went out prior to the one everyone has now was just 90 percent done, working copy to show everyone at the label. Someone took that copy and sent it out before I was finished.

SLUG: Hollywood was ready to take your shit and run with it, eh?
Z-T: Yeah, we almost got off to a really bad start.

With that, I let Z-Trip finish his turkey-tuna sandwich, which was definitely stale by the end of the interview. Check his website,www.djztrip.com, for more info.

TheKnoItAlls
The Knockout Jewelers
Lace Em Up Productions
Street: 2007
KnoItAlls = Facts + Johnny Utah + Briskoner
They got the top down, they are hydroplaning, they rock and talk strong with their egos packed in a punch. If you are familiar with last years release, Kiss The Ring, then get ready for this: Mixtape 1 – A Prelude To Kiss The Ring. I don’t know if the new stuff is really their old stuff or vice versa, but it sounds nice. With beats from Skinwalker, Grizz One, Brisk, Spenzilla, Iggy Chop and Rick One, Knoitalls fill the instrumentals with clever punch lines, one-liners and confident raps. The local producers playful beats compliment Knoitalls lyrics and consist of mostly funky horns, samples, keys and strings in a stylistic way. This album is a definite local hip-hop collaboration addition to the slough of talent in Salt Lake City. So you must learn, you must listen or you must be knocked out.

Krem
Primer
Lo=Fi Product
Street: 04.24
Krem = Qwel + Offwhyte + Liquid Swords
Where the hell did this CD come from? Has there been a super producer hiding under the informal deck of Salt Lake City Hip Hop who is just now choosing to present himself? Has he been plotting and producing with intentions to dominate? If the answer is “Yes”, I wouldn’t be surprised. These Primer tracks, including vocals from Qwel (Typical Cats), descend and diminish into a kaleidoscopic narcosis, enveloping caricaturist boom-bap cadences in layers of genre-defying and experimental coatings of lo-fi. Truthfully, from the look of the cover/album art, that’s exactly what I did NOT expect from Krem on any level. Most of the instrumentals are uncomfortably creased and from the beginning, seem erosive, but tumble into one concentrated pulp. Personally, I think that Primer is a perfect title for this local-modernistic, deconstructive masterpiece.