Tag Archives: Quelle Chris

Cavalier’s “Private Stock” Speaks to Hip-Hop Through Many Different Voices

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Photo by Emily ‘EJ’ McCartney

Cavalier is one of those MCs who’s name doesn’t need to be prefaced with the city he’s from. Or the city he’s living in, for that matter—the Brooklyn-raised artist moved to New Orleans shortly at the beginning of 2015. But if the transition has informed his style, it’s been in subtle ways.

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The Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2017

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As the year comes to a close, it’s time to engage in the time-honored tradition of rounding up its essential releases. Over the course of the last 12 months, Bandcamp was home to some of the most thrilling, creative, and innovative albums in hip-hop, with MCs embarking on lyrical flights of fancy over beats that skew experimental, but still keep it funky. Presented in alphabetical order, here’s your 10 hip-hop sure shots for the rap year 2017.

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Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017

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Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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The Best Albums of 2017: #20 – 1

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The wait is over. These are the 20 Best Albums of the year.

Last year, the Bandcamp Daily staff put together our first “Best Albums of the Year List,” 100 albums we felt defined 2016 for us. At the time I remember thinking, “This is tough, but it will probably get easier as the years go on.” Now, one year later, I’m realizing that I was wrong. The truth is, the world of Bandcamp is enormous, and it contains artists from all over the world, in every conceivable genre (including a few who exist in genres of their own invention), and at every stage of their career. The fact of the matter is, any list like this is going to fall short because, on Bandcamp, there is always more to discover. Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available. The albums that made this list, though, were the ones that stayed with us long after they were released—the ones we returned to again and again and found their pleasures undimmed, and their songs still rewarding. These are Bandcamp’s Best Albums of 2017.

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A Walk Through The Avant-Garde World of ‘Art Rap’ Music

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Illustrations by Daiana Ruiz

Coined by Chicago native Open Mike Eagle in the early aughts, “art rap” was originally a reactionary phrase, one that responded directly to the subgenre of “art rock” and implied that the standard set of sonic or lyrical conventions did not apply. On another level, it was a way to distinguish his music from the music that fell under broad and nebulous labels like “hip-hop” and “underground rap,” which are sometimes embraced by rappers and listeners who believe that anything that doesn’t explicitly champion “real hip-hop” is, well, you know—the opposite.

“Having studied the history of American pop music and black music, it’s appalling where we are now,” Eagle told L.A. Weekly in 2010. “That’s why I wanted to give my music another term, something to differentiate itself from the pack. You can’t call everything ‘hip-hop.’ I was listening to rock music, and it struck me that a lot of the rock I liked was called ‘art rock.’ I started wondering why they had a genre where they can do whatever the fuck they want to do, and rappers are scorned if they don’t have enough machismo.”

Today, art rap is even a tag on this website. To sum it up (albeit reductively), art rap is avant-garde rap music that is antithetical to terrestrial radio station playlists. (That’s not always the case—records by artists like Kendrick Lamar certainly push the boundaries of rap.) More broadly, the subgenre has some identifying characteristics, including but not limited to: left field, forward-thinking production, unconventional song structures and cadences, songs written from the perspective of fictional characters, explicit and protracted engagement with social and political issues, and absurdist metaphors and similes.

From the description above, it should be clear that labeling a song/album “art rap” does not mean that it’s only that. Nor are any of those characteristics necessarily new. The list of art rap forebears is long, spanning from west coast jazz-rap progenitors Freestyle Fellowship to one-time Def Jukies like El-P, Aesop Rock, and Cannibal Ox. The list below features 12 rappers whose output—either recent or career-long—meets some of the above criteria. Most, if not all of them, have worked with at least one other rapper on the list in some capacity. This overlap was not intentional, but its existence affirms the artists’ aesthetic kinship, the reality that art rap has always been and will continue to flourish.

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The Best Albums of Winter 2017

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Welcome to the first of our seasonal round-ups of the best albums on Bandcamp! Every three months, the Bandcamp Daily editorial staff will be combing through the stacks to present our favorite records of the year to date. This inaugural installment of our Quarterly Report also kicks off a new feature on Bandcamp Daily: 7 Essential Releases. Every Friday, we’ll highlight six albums we loved from the previous week, plus one older record you might have missed. And so, without further ado, here are our picks for the Best Albums of the Winter.

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The Best New Hip-Hop On Bandcamp

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Now that the winter weather is finally starting to show signs of ending, it seems that many of your favorite artists spent the season holed up making some fantastically weird hip-hop music. From dark, unnerving soundscapes to West Coast lyrical flights of fancy, here’s a round-up of March’s essential hip-hop releases.

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Album of the Day: CohenBeats, “Daily Affirmations”

Over the course of several years and multiple releases, producer CohenBeats has made a name for himself by sculpting multifaceted beats with a Middle Eastern focus. A native of Tel Aviv, Cohen rose to prominence as one-third of local trio Cohen@Mushon. When he moved to Los Angeles in 2011, he connected with scene stalwarts like Gaslamp Killer and SamiyamOn his first release since 2015’s collaborative electronic soul EP The Weight, with singer KerenDun, Cohen stays true to his formula, manipulating drum patterns and catchy foreign melodies with panache.

On Daily Affirmations, he gets an assist from a small number of savvily-selected guests. Rising star Quelle Chris turns up on the title track, and his introspective rhymes are the perfect fit for the song’s nocturnal soul ambience. Hopeful as always, the quirky wordsmith waxes poetic on the importance of sticking out the good fight: “You think the shit ain’t worth it/And then you catch a message from somebody like ‘You gave my life a purpose.’” Elsewhere, on the pimped-out “Money Fast,” Quelle collaborator Denmark Vessey spits a confident flow from his usual left-of-center perspective.

Cohen’s unique sampling style makes the album’s 22 tracks feel seamless and cohesive. “Mushon’s House” pays homage to the low-pitch vocals and dance rhythms made famous in Chicago’s club scene. On “Us vs. Them,” Jeremiah Jae and his Black Jungle Squad comrade Oliver The 2nd spit emphatically atop meditative spiritual chants. “Places/Spaces” is full of smooth R&B, the kind you’d hear on late night Quiet Storm radio.

Throughout, CohenBeats avoids the monotony that hinders so many bedroom beatmakers, fusing sounds from his homeland with skillful percussion. Taking cues from Madlib and J Dilla, he makes excellent use of obscure sound effects and random audio clips, giving Daily Affirmations the feel of an old-school beat tape. By putting his own spin on a host of samples and source material, the producer is able to draw on his influences without recreating what’s already been done.

Jesse Fairfax