Friday, January 4, 2013

Top 5 Indie Albums of 2012

5. Triple Threat - 'C.L.U.T.C.H.'

There is much to be said about Triple Threat and her abilities but the most simple way to put it is; she's a visionary. After the intro, it's all onslaught. She's taken raw and gritty and polished it over very well. Only a small hiccup or two for my tastes. There is a ton of content in this album and I still discover new things every time I listen to it. 'C.L.U.T.C.H.' is really dope material. Know about it.

4. AC - 'Courtesy of a Nightmare'

This project is amazing! It popped up on me out of seemingly nowhere so it was worked out somewhere in the universe for me to find this. Please allow me to point you to a specific point on the album to display how brilliant this work is: "I Killed the Future President" - Press play and prepare to be amazed.

'Courtesty of a Nightmare' is very high level artistic work and AC is the writer's writer. If you're a fan of Hip-Hop, especially lyricism, this album is a must own.

3. Kokayi - 'Pro Deo et Patria

This is easily the most abstract of the bunch but an incredible experience none the less. Kokayi went above and beyond everything I knew of his music with 'Pro Deo et Patria' and shattered every expectation I had. His ability has earned him a Grammy nomination in the past and I'm hoping that this album earns him another nomination at minimum. Let's cross our fingers for a win! Kokayi is in a class by himself and deserves the industry's attention. He's ridiculous both as a producer and as a songwriter.

2. Cocoa Sarai - 'The Black & White'

My favorite R&B single of 2012 is featured on my number 2 album of 2012. There are so many moments on this album that it is still parked in slot 1 of my car's CD changer. I know pretty much every lyric to every song because I pretty much listen to it every single day. Yeah, I'm a fan.

'The Black & White' is a masterpiece. If you didn't tell someone that this is an entirely independent project, nobody would know that it's not a big budget major label effort. It is that good. Cocoa Sarai is a once in a lifetime talent and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2013 brings.

(No stream of this project. Sorry. Preview and download via iTunes.)

1. Madison - 'Vanilla Sky'

'Vanilla Sky' is a 16 track ode to dreamers - a wildly creative and daring project loaded with some great story telling. What I love most about this album is the emotional setting that Madison delivers. It's young, arrogant, contemplative, lustful, angry... but all wrapped up in desire. Desire to be great.

The writing and production are married perfectly. Each track takes you to the next and back again with no disjointedness whatsoever. The sprinkling of clips from the film Vanilla Sky and it's inspiration Abre Los Ojos tie everything together with additional focus. It's just all around the most enjoyable listening I did last year from an independent artist.

Top 5 Indie Rap Singles of 2012

5. Livewire - "Winning" feat. Joe Budden

Livewire had his biggest record to date with "Winning." This product is a prime example of how hard he works on his craft and his career. He's still rapping the brakes off of a lot artists, signed or unsigned and this track displays that fact well. I had a blast with this song and I am extremely proud and grateful that it premiered right here on

4. D.A. the Future - "I Don't Owe You"

I can't ever forget the streets. "I Don't Owe You" is a craaaazy street record that D.A. the Future BODIES! This is the genuine article right here... aggressive, intelligent and dangerous Hip-Hop. D.A and Vinny Idol are buck nutty for this. Sweet mother of all things gangsta...

3. Saigon - "Blown Away"

I could have picked any number of tracks from The Greatest Story Never Told: Chapter 2 but "Blown Away" really struck me with it's heavy content and creativity. There were several artists pushing to swing focus back to content and lyricism in 2012 and Saigon is one of the most capable of the bunch. It's clear from the music on the album and hearing Saigon speak in interviews that he's much more focused as an artist and no longer willing to compromise for major label appeal. Bravo, brother. Bravo.

2. Soope - "MLK"

I don't really have to say much about this song and video. The power is apparent in the audio and visual. Released for Black History Month last year, Soope proved yet again that he can do anything. It's criminal how slept on this track was.

The saying goes, "Real recognize real." This is almost too real. Stellar work from Soope and Nick Brazinsky. I still get goosebumps at the first chorus. Mee-meep!

1. Ghostwridah - "Skittles & Iced Tea"

The murder of Trayvon Martin was a huge story in 2012. It drummed up much discussion and debate about race relations in America, gun control and shoot-first laws. Ghostwridah took initiative and didn't just lend his 2 cents via social media but recorded "Skittles & Iced Tea" and used the proceeds to support the Martin family in their very difficult and public time of mourning.

This is everything I love about and, more importantly, EXPECT OF Hip-Hop. Trayvon's death hit home for me as I've walked the streets of the town where he died and grew up just a few miles away. This track was Ghostwridah's most brilliant and timely single of 2012. Thanks for your voice.

Top 5 Indie R&B Singles of 2012

5. Jaiden - "Melody" feat. Yummy Bingham

This song just feels so good to me. It's so much fun and the vocal performances are really cool. Jaiden is an extremely talented musician and his song writing ability is top notch as well. "Melody" released at the top of 2012 and I remember it being a great start to my year. Thank you Jaiden and Yummy for setting the tone early.  

4. Baiyu - "Make Believe" feat. Paul Kim

Singer, songwriter, model, Harvard grad, tech guru, video editor, CW's The Next contestant and all around bad ass Baiyu had a very big year. The amount of quality work she turned out in 2012 was absolutely amazing. Of the singles released throughout the year, "Make Believe" was my favorite. This girl is so dope! 

3. Bad Rabbits - "We Can Roll"

I lost my mind the first time I heard this song. It's loud, funky and so very different. Bad Rabbits completely killed it with this track. Their on tour starting in February and I will be stopping in to get a dose of this live. I'm going to need somebody to come with me... to pick me up after I pass out. This track is so ridiculous.

2. Kiah Victoria - "Thinkin' About You"

This song is much better than a number 2 slot, but since it's a cover I'm going to slot it here. I have the utmost respect for Kiah Victoria's ability though. This is Frank Ocean's HUGE single from Channel Orange but Kiah makes it entirely her own. I maintain that she did it much better than Frank. Fight me.

1. Cocoa Sarai - "Raining in my Room"

I had heard this song many times before but it transformed for me one night at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia. Cocoa Sarai spoke about the inspiration for the song when she wrote it and how it took on a different life after the death of her mother. The performance that ensued completely destroyed me. I was reminded of a very difficult time in my life and I spent the next few minutes sobbing like a baby.

After her set, I went back stage, still sobbing, and I thanked her. The thank you was for reminding me of how important music is to my life. This is my R&B indie single of the year. Thanks again, Cocoa.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Moe Pope and Rain - "What You Need" Music Video

Ahhhh, nothing like the sound of cold weather music. This is the sound that shaped my teen years. I had just moved to New York and it was a stark contrast to the life I knew in Florida. Through all of the culture shock, the music of the Northeast helped me adjust.

I guess something in my bones just knew to open this up. Moe Pope and producer Rain are new to my radar but after hearing this track, I'm looking forward to hearing the full project. "What You Need" is drawn from the forthcoming 'Let the Right Ones In', scheduled for release on the 22nd of this month.

Check the video below which is a mashup of some concert/street footage and I also have the mp3 for stream and download.

Malkovich - 'Great Expectations'

Would you give up everything for a dream? I mean everything. All of your possessions? Even your home? That's what Iranian American MC Malkovich did to clear the path for his desire to travel and craft great music.

'Great Expectations' is a very lofty title for an album. Probably especially so for a Rap album. Any artist that has the intelligence to allude to Charles Dickens' work certainly grabs my attention though. Malkovich did just that and I'm thoroughly enjoying the sound.

The blurb read, "Great Expectations is an album about the gap between our dreams and our lives." This is a chasm that I'm sure many of us have known. Some built a bridge and crossed and others just stood at the edge on the wrong side.

The album is authentic Boom Bap material with a host of new producers creating the soundscape. Malkovich is a capable lyricist with a sometimes "slumped" delivery that took a little getting used to. If you don't know what "slump" is I don't know what to tell you other than to get your Parliament/Funkadelic game up. Anyway, it's solid material and will certainly be added to my playlist.

Check the limited time free stream and download below.

Baiyu - "Again"

Happy new year! 2013 is here and an entire world of opportunity awaits. As usual, you can expect me to be here curating the soundtrack to your highs and lows throughout the year.

To kick things off in top form, I have new music from one of my absolute favorite artists, Baiyu. "Again" is the first single released outside of her last project "Hunter." Baiyu is always working and evolving her sound and she's promised that we will get to watch the process more closely this year. How so, you ask? She'll be releasing a new song ever month.

Hell yeah!

Check out the free stream and download of the fantastic new track below.