Tag Archives: Among the Rocks and Roots

How Raekwon’s “Purple Tape” Spawned a Label of Soul, Hip-Hop, & Expansive Noise Rock

Purple Tapes

Nineties hip-hop fans often call Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… “the purple tape,” in reference to the limited purple-colored cassette copies of the album that were released in 1995. The phrase has gone on to signify any item of unimpeachable quality; Pusha T recently boasted that his latest album Daytona, “is my purple tape.” That idea of striving for perfection also inspired the name of the Purple Tape Pedigree music blog, which has successfully morphed into the PTP record label.

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The Best Albums of Winter 2018

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The first three months of the year have already given us an abundance of great records—arguably more than one roundup can possibly include. The 25 albums on this list contain a whole universe of sounds, from pummelling drone to rollicking indie rock, from thought-provoking hip-hop to Spanish synthwave. These are the Best Albums of Winter 2018.

Read last year’s edition of “Best Albums of the Winter”

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Grey Wulf’s Harsh Noise Ventures Through The Dark In Search of Light

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I met Abdul Hakim-Bilal, aka Grey Wulf, in territory familiar to both of us: a crusty, Angela Davis-poster-splattered, anarchist community center in the middle of West Philadelphia. His band was setting up while I was DJ’ing; as they plugged in, the sound of a dirgey guitar ripped through the soundboard. I looked over and a wiry, tall guy with dreads and an army coat was fiddling with knobs, ready to wreck. “This should be good,” I thought, and I wasn’t disappointed. Hakim-Bilal’s band Among the Rocks and Roots proceeded to smash through a set of chaotic, thundering noise, part wooly Viking incantation, part Afro-Indigenous ritual, that left the space even more damaged than it was before they took the stage.

It’s Grey Wulf, Hakim-Bilal’s solo project, though, that seems particularly relevant now, in these politically unprecedented times—as Grey Wulf, he speaks to even darker, weirder edges of music and culture, conjuring fringe dreamscape-cum-apocalyptic death marches. Take the song “Fated Grips Around the Neck of Destiny,” where Hakim-Bilal wraps the listener in a cocoon of impossibly beautiful sounds, only to reveal a more sordid, darker core beneath. Grey Wulf walked those edges of beauty, danger, and reality with us in a conversation about place, carving out space, and finding a light in the dark.

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