Mainstream hip hop returned with a full court press of releases in July, all promising to be album of the year worthy. Big Boi shut the haters and jive-ass labels down by luring fans off the Andre bandwagon and hitching them up to the thump of “Shutterbug” coming out his candy-painted whip. Rick Ross' Teflon Don is good, but that doesn't make him any less of a fabrication rapper and former corrections officer. Curren$y's long-delayed Pilot Talk is audio dope and on par in production with the Big Boi record, but our boy Spitta's smoked-out delivery is too sleepy to be the top creator in July.
El-P and Camu Tao, Central Services EP (Definitive Jux)
We say: This month goes to Central Services' Forever Frozen In Television Time. A collaborative record by El-P and Camu Tao (who died of lung cancer in 2008), Central Services was recorded without concern for sample clearance or the proper discourse of hip hop. Camu's panoramic paranoid wild stylings is at its most fully-realized under the freak-funk of El-P's sinister production. It was recorded in 2005, but it could have easily been recorded inside Philip K. Dick's re-animated head.
Best Releases of July 2010
Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
We say: Jive told Big Boi his solo record was a piece of art, but they did not know what to do with it. Our final opinion is that Jive are some jive-ass turkeys that should fold as a label.
Best Coast, Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)
We say: So here's the thing. Bethany Cosentino is a sweet girl and a gifted songwriter, and she has written her one song and will continue to write it for many albums to come. It's a song we fell in love with from the start, but importantly, it's her voice that keeps us listening to its many variations, regardless of the recording quality or style that surrounds it.
The Books, The Way Out (Temporary Residence Limited)
We say: This is The Books we loved and missed with precious found sound samples so strange and hilarious you wonder if they just got their own nephews to say this shit.
Indian Jewelry, Totaled (We Are Free)
We say: After the 40 minutes of Totaled, I'm finally ready to admit that it's my own pessimistic nature that keeps me from admitting that this is the work of more than just les Enfant terribles from below the Mason-Dixon line; it's some of the best shit out there.
Mahjongg, The Long Shadow of the Paper Tiger (K)
We say: Mahjongg are the sponge of the Chicago dance scene. Their new record will get the pedestrian Talking Heads and afro-beat comparisons, which are warranted, but it goes deeper than that.
Curren$y, Pilot Talk (Roc-A-Fella)
We say:Curren$y entered my radar after a few collaborations with former No Limit Soldier Fiend that sounded as though they were produced by Truth & Soul. Since those gems, I've been on alert in the control tower, trying to track down information on his upcoming record Pilot Talk.
Lower Dens, Twin-Hand Movement (Gnomonsong)
We say: Instead of taking her skills to the bright lights of Brooklyn, or joining up with some of her all-star friends for her next record, or signing to a major label, or worse yet, an “indie” funded by corporate branded dollars, Jana has teamed up with some local (and very accomplished, even if they're not household names) musicians, to create a well-rounded group effort for the label she's called home since 2005.
Kane Pour, Wasp in the Silver Orbitstream
We say: Sometimes you've been up all night not because you wanted to be but because the demons were yipping at your hind legs through the witching hour, and now that it's day and you're hiding from the light lest you vanish into thin air, diaphanous reams of Kane Pour sound silt is the only thing that keeps you from going completely bat shit hater on a crappy dance track or something. (We recognize this probably didn't come out in July.)
E. Super, A-Side (Hellfyre Club)
We say: Focused on crafting cosmic space funk, the debut Side A is Low End Theory ready with its heavy blip and Daft-ish robot rock.
Solid Melts’ Summer Compilation 2010: An Empire of Fun
We say: Solid Melts, a Lawrence, Kansas label with tapes under their belts from the likes of Expo 70, Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, and a handful of other midwesterners, just announced a wide-open summer sampler that pulls from across these great United States, with 25 tracks from recent faves C V L T S, BFFs Coasting, New Joisy's Julian Lynch in destructo mode, Philly's Hermit Thrushes, names that remain only legends to us (Back To The Future The Ride!) and even better, total mysteries (Yuppies are pretty sick!).
Void Vision, “In 20 Years” 7-inch (Blind Prophet Records)
We say: While most of her contemporaries are dwelling in utterly cold and macabre waters, Vari brings a joyously dour sound on her debut outing, channeling the melodiousness of synth-pop minus the self-indulgent cheese.
Friends Records' Friends and Friends of Friends cassette
We say: Friends Records recently released a cassette that features quite a few reps of this weekend's Whartscape camp, and regular favorites on the Friends Records roster.
We say: We've been a big fan of Beko's delectable taste in music for their regular single series, and now they've cobbled it all together into their first official cassette compilation.
Starring, Wife of God
We say: Starring are a group of talented musicians who also can be found in Talibam!, Skeletons, Pterodactyl. In the past, we've referred to them as innovators of some niche kind of prog music.
Greenhouse, Electric Purgatory: Part Two (Weightless)
We say: Blueprint is still a shit-talking extraordinaire on tracks and he's brought Illogic along for the hazing of wack emcees.
High Wolf, Ascension
We say: Witness “Solar System Is My God”, where, as goes the title so goes the track, in that High Wolf thinks big, but not too big – no universal exclamations or massive dark matter noise explosions – just tribal drums beat for the eight or nine or 10 planets revolving around our own G-type main sequence star, and some synth shimmers mirroring the passage of light blasting each orbit with clarity.
Noveller, Desert Fires
We say: While she's played with Cold Cave and Parts and Labor, Sarah Lipstate conjures ambient washes and walls of texture with her solo project, Noveller. Read her story about a cat here</a>.
We say: Parallel Pyres, a.k.a. Josh Frank, came to life over two continents and three countries, starting at his parent's place in Beijing, growing at his college place in Montreal, and finishing off a first album in Taiwan for good measure.
Freddie Gibbs, Str8 Killa No Filla Mixtape
We say: Did Gangsta Gibbs just make the rest of July's stellar rap releases obsolete? [No. –Ed.]
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Semi- Marxist Like Us (FMLY Records)
We say: Not that his music was dirty before, but the two songs on Philip Seymour Hoffman's first vinyl pressing, a 12-inch called Semi-Marxist Like Us are scrubbed clean, first with soap and water than with a toothbrush, then with sandpaper, a file, acid, then a special pH-balanced bath of atom-scrubbing Mr. Clean so that every double hydrogen and oxygen molecule is humming at its proper speed and the whole thing zooms out to an unadulterated cycle of agua pura.
Telephoned, Keep Their Heads Ringin' Mixtape
We say: As the genres of dance and hip hop continue to collapse into a pulsating heap, Telephoned is throwing a party at the venue dug out in the bottom of the massive pile.
Jason Urick, “This Is Critical” 7-inch (Fan Death Records)
We say: There's something high and holy about the melodic entrances into this slow moving underwater beast, like the angels are blasting their vuvuzelas at the gulf oil spill and parting the waters so that we can see the monsters that have gestated beneath. Or call it one way to cure your constipation.
Koes Bersaudara, Koes Bersaudara 1967 (Sublime Frequencies)
We say: The re-releasing of obscure nuggets from 1967 is always a welcomed event. The two most popular albums from Jakarta’s bands of brothers, Koes Bersaudara, Guilties and Djadikan Aku Domba Mu, are seeing the light of day once again as Koes Bersaudara 1967 comes out through Sublime Frequencies.
Lionshare, Share Holders R.E.P.O.R.T. Vol. II EP
We say: Not since Cage's Agent Orange/ Radiohead 12″ in '97 have I heard another rapper try to flip the sounds of The Clockwork Orange motion picture soundtrack. Enough time has passed for Lionshare to drop “Clockwork” and not step on Cage's toes.