The Play B-Sides Guide to Hip Hop and Rap on Daytrotter.com

 

 

If you’re familiar with Daytrotter.com, it is probably because of the extensive coverage of the independent rock, folk and Americana scene. Daytrotter has established itself as one of the premiere tastemakers in this space, contributing to breaking bands like Dawes, Bon Iver, Mountain Goats and Deer Tick by featuring early sessions of the groups.

What you might not be familiar with is the impressive coverage of Hip Hop and Rap by Daytrotter. These sessions get lost in among the more visible or “buzzworthy” sessions by the Fleet Foxes, Andrew Bird’s and Timber Timbre’s of the scene. It’s as if while no one was looking, Sean Moeller has amassed sessions from notable and diverse artists from the so-called “Underground” Hip Hop genre and is certainly worth a closer look. So, I present The Play B-Sides Guide to Hip Hop and Rap on Daytrotter.com! This is a list of the sessions I’ve found on Daytrotter, each with a short write-up about it.

Looking at the list below, you get a sense of how in-tune with the Underground Hip Hop scene Moeller is. In fact, three of the acts he recorded are featured very prominently in this month’s Spin Magazine in a feature titled “The Changing Face of Hip-Hop” on Underground Hip Hop (G-Side, Danny Brown, and Main Attrakionz). But, more than that, we have some names that have been on the scene for a long time– producers Kid Koala, RJD2 and DJ Spooky and Tricky all turn in impressive sets, but also Lateef the Truthspeaker, and Aesop Rock as well as a surprising meetup with Naughty By Nature and Minneapolis Wunderkinds Solid Gold. Speaking of Solid Gold, a lot of the hot Minneapolis Hip Hop Scene is represented in Doomtree, P.O.S., Marijuana Deathsquads and Brother Ali.

I’d like to point out that typically the term “Hip Hop” is used these days to mean both DJ/Producing and Rap and I also tend to use the term to mean both, but since this list includes sessions with producers and M.C.’s (and combinations) I’m making the distinction. A very scholarly dissertation on hip hop is Jeff Chang’s “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of The Hip-Hop Generation” and I heartily recommend this to anyone interested in this music and culture. According to Chang, initially, “hip hop” was used to describe the culture surrounding three things: b-boy/breakdancing, DJ’ing and graffiti. Once M.C.’s took center stage, this idea changed to what we know today. It would also appear that graffiti as an artform has moved from it’s initial exclusive ties to hip hop culture. And, as far as breakdancing, well…

So, put on your headphones, sit back and take a tour of Daytrotter Hip Hop and Rap!

BTW: While you’re enjoying this treasure-trove of music, please consider paying a couple of bucks a month to support the efforts of Daytrotter who make this possible– and you get some bonus video and higher-quality downloads as a result.

(in alphabetical order- click on artist name to get to the session)

Aesop Rock An early session– 2008 by Definitive Jux artist Aesop Rock around the time of his None Shall Pass album. This is one of my favorite Hip Hop sessions on Daytrotter.

Astronautalis Minneapolis native Charles Andrew Bothwell performs as Astronautalis. Nice flow– reminds me a bit of Buck 65 (who really should do a Daytrotter, dontcha think?). He just wrapped up an extensive tour in support of Tegan & Sara. Tegan helps out on Astronautalis’ new video “Contrails.” One to watch, I think.

Brother Ali From Minneapolis via Madison, WI and signed to P.O.S.’s label Rhymesayers. According to a press bio, he’s influenced by classic hip hop and specifically KRS-One, who I think Ali’s style reminds me.

Busdriver Twitchy, frustrated spitting– vocally and musically. Busdriver at times seems to remind me of Mike Patton (Faith No More).

Curumin While not strictly hip hop, Curumin’s approach to his craft are well-steeped in that esthetic. Being signed to Bay Area massive Quannum Records helps a bit, too. Brazilian electronic goodness. Read my interview with Curumin here.

Danny Brown One of the artists featured prominently in the aforementioned Spin article. Brown’s slightly tongue-in-cheek nervous yelping seems reminiscent of Biz Markie with a bit more smutty bent.

DJ Spooky aka “That Subliminal Kid” turns in a brilliant set, bouncing and fresh. His other hobby is scholarly writing about symbolism and semiotics and I’m left pondering how his use of signs informs this set.

Doomtree Minneapolis’s other home of hip hop next to Rhymesayers is Doomtree. This is a set with multiple MC’s so we get 16 tracks. Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Cecil Otter and SIMS. I guess we assume that Lazerbeak did the beats? Learned about this group just ahead of the Gayngs Affilyated show where they performed as a group set on the main stage and as solo sets. The group just released their second album as a group titled No Kings that is shaping up to be a critical success.

Grieves This is an early (ish) recording of Grieves who is now part of the Rhymesayers label and apparently runs in the same circles as Mac Lethal, so it makes sense he shows up on a Daytrotter session. This 12 minute smooth rant is pretty great. The late DJ Jimmy Hands from Fort Collins on the turntables.

G-Side G-Side is part of the Huntsville, Alabama hip hop scene that is based around the Slow Motion Soundz record label that is also featured prominently in the Spin issue. Out of all of the sessions on Daytrotter, this one is one of my favorites and I’ve listened to it a dozen times in the last week. You can hear the hunger of a group trying to break. Plus, some really great beats– the use of strings on “Came Up” is brilliant.

Kid Sister Spitters of the fairer sex aren’t represented heavily on Daytrotter, but Doomtree’s Dessa and Kid Sister from Chicago are both MC’s I’m a fan of. This is a really fun session and Kid Sister is able to take the attitude and finesse that Fergie embodied on “Glamorous” (and never achieved again, IMO) and run. “Right Hand Hi” is a real trunk-rattler (if you’re into that kind of thing) Worth repeated listens, seriously.

Kid Koala Koala has been on the scene since the mid 90’s if you can imagine that– as long as I have been following the turntablist phenomenon, he has been a staple and is as important a figure in that space as Mixmaster Mike, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and Q-Bert, in my opinion. An interesting session as he recreates his beat-juggling manipulation of “Moon River” like he did during The Hard Sell tour opening for Shadow and Chemist.

Kimya Dawson & Aesop Rock For Aesop Rock’s return to the Horseshack, he is in support of Kimya Dawson, who is likely best known for her band Mouldy Peaches and the Juno soundtrack. This collaboration resulted in tracks on Kimya’s album Thunder Thighs, but it seems that none of these songs made it on that album. I’m compelled by the idea of this session, but I’m afraid it doesn’t quite live up to the promise. Maybe it’s just a little early in their work together?

The Knux Another brilliant session on Daytrotter– sounds like the Strokes if they were fronted by MC’s. These cats are on Interscope– why they aren’t more exposed, I have no idea.

Lateef the Truthspeaker One of the original artists on the seminal Bay Area label Solesides along with DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Blackalicious that would become what is today known as Quannum Records. I hope that this is a sign that we’ll see Lyrics Born or Lateef’s project with LB Latyrx in for a session.

Mac Lethal As I write this Mac Lethal is blowing up all over the place for a video he shot recently of himself rapping and making pancakes. I saw Mac Lethal at the first Daytrotter in 2009 at West Liberty and wasn’t very impressed– at least with that particular live show. I’d like to see another attempt at bringing other genres of music to the barns– but maybe it just isn’t the venue for that music.

Main Attrakionz This Oakland duo was also called out in the Spin article. The production by Green Ova brings a mellow atmospheric vibe to the works.

Matisyahu Matisyahu melds his traditional Hasidic Jewish spiritualism with Raggae music and rap. Matisyahu has been gaining exposure steadily over the last few year since his brilliant and groundbreaking Live at Stubb’s.

Marijuana Deathsquads Originally formed as the backing band for P.O.S., the band has ventured into it’s own and has a reputation for over-the-top improvisational live shows.

Naughty By Nature featuring Solid Gold An interesting pairing as a result of both acts playing RIBCO on a shared Daytrotter-presents bill. Solid Gold, who provides the instruments, is quickly becoming the next-big-thing from Minneapolis with some helpful boosting from their participation in GAYNGS. NBN brings some inspired MC’ing. Would love to see this partnership fleshed out into a formal release, but I’m afraid this magic intersection is a one-night-stand.

P.O.S. Stef Alexander– better known as P.O.S. turns in an early Daytrotter session from 2006 around the time of his sophomore album. Mike Mictlan from Doomtree collective on beats. A fun, and loose session. Minneapolis represent.

Reggie Watts If you aren’t hip to Reggie Watts, it’s time. Every work is improvised on the spot and produced by looping the layers. Mindblowingly cool and typically funny stuff in the funk/soul tip.

RJD2 RJ turns in a fantastic mix. I’m a sucker for his stutter beats.

Shabazz Palaces As buzzworthy as hip hop gets in the indie space– Seattle collective Shabazz Palaces is the first hip hop act to be signed to SubPop. It makes me happy that Ishmael Butler was once in Digable Planets, because Shabazz Palaces is cool like that.

Soulcrate Music Wow, hip hop from Sioux Falls, South Dakota? The Midwest is shaping up to be bringing some really compelling hip hop and Soulcrate Music is a collective to watch.

Theophilius London An oddly short session. “Flying Overseas” gets a great treatment and remix in this session. I agree with the poster who commented that there should have been a couple of other songs.  But, we get what we get.

Tricky Oh, Tricky. You had me at Maxinquaye but not much longer than that. After the bizarre love triangle with Bjork and Goldie, I sort of lost track. However, this session is really great, showing why he was a big deal to begin with. Worth checking out, for sure. The cover of the XTC “hit single” “Dear God” is amazing.

Yea Big & Kid Static From Chicago– kind of “nerdcore” or whatever that genre that Childish Gambino seems to fit in. The cover of “Thank You For Being a Friend” is pretty funny, if disposable.

Upcoming Show : The Play B-Sides Guide to the Gayngs Affiliyated Showcase

The super-mega-conglomerate quinvicatet known as Gayngs released their debut record in 2010. Titled Relayted, it was quickly praised by critics and fans and made quite a few year-end best-of lists. A seemingly impossible feat for an album with– by anyone’s estimation– having way too many cooks in the kitchen and a formula based on 70’s and 80’s soft rock.

Nonetheless, it is a great album and it works due to the singular vision of Ryan Olson: the court jester, band leader, and love train conductor. He is both the “Space Cowboy” and “Maurice” and capably speaks of the pompatus of love.

As if pulling off an album with 25 members wasn’t enough– Ryan gathered all of them for a pair of shows at First Avenue on the Friday following the album release that thematically was “The Last Prom on Earth” complete with limousines, balloons, prom formals and prom portraits. By all accounts it was one of the great live experiences last year. There were no promises that the band was going to ever do another show.

But, it was announced last Fall that a much smaller touring version of the band (a mere ten members) was going to do a quick nine-date run of the East Coast and Midwest culminating with a high-visibility shows in Austin for the Austin City Limits Festival. That tour was received well with a stop on Jimmy Fallon as well as a quick Daytrotter session. Unfortunately, there was some kind of mixup with the tour bus company which caused the band’s gear to end up in Nashville the night before their big ACL appearance and caused the band to cancel. But, it looks like Gayngs will be making up for their missed appearance by making it back to Austin in March for a few gigs at SXSW. The band will head out in the spring and summer for some other festivals and West Coast dates in June.

Gayngs is going to perform a “warmup” gig of sorts for SXSW next Sunday by completely taking over First Avenue Mainroom, The 7th Street Entry and The Record Bar with a lineup of “Affiliyated” bands starting at 6:30PM. In other words, this event will be a festival of 15 or so bands that have a connection with the members of Gayngs!

What we get is a kind of who’s who of the current Minneapolis music scene. I wasn’t familiar with all of these bands, so I did some research, and here is a kind of Guide to the Gayngs Affiliate Showcase.

The first observation I have is that while this might not be the 25-member lineup of Gayngs that played The Last Prom on Earth in May 2010, we should get a bigger version of Gayngs than the 10-person one that toured last fall!

Bands Playing The Mainroom:

Gayngs : Duh. Supergroup that is headlining the showcase. MySpace Facebook Website Twitter Vimeo Daytrotter Session

Doomtree Collective : Minneapolis’s premier hiphop collective with members that contributed to Relayted including P.O.S. and Dessa. Looking forward to hearing the other MC’s– especially SIMS, whose Lazerbeak-produced album Bad Time Zoo has been getting a lot of spin for me. There will be individual sets performed at The Record Bar as well (see below). Website Facebook MySpace Twitter

Solid Gold : It’s safe to say that the core of Gayngs is really Solid Gold since it was the initial collaboration of Ryan Olson and Zach Coulter and Adam Hurlburt of Solid Gold that started the project and they are the core part of the Relayted band. If you listen to Solid Gold’s music, you hear the shared DNA of both bands– Solid Gold has a penchant for 80’s rock and synths– just check out their slowed-down take of the Kenny Loggins Top Gun smash “Danger Zone” on their Synchronize EP. Website Facebook MySpace Twitter Daytrotter Session Daytrotter Session with Naughty By Nature(!!!!)

Megafaun : The first recruits into the Gayngs Army were North Carolina-meets-Eau Claire group Megafaun– the obvious connection being Joe Westerlund who is the one from Ryan Olson’s Wisconsin home town. I’m really loving their latest EP Heretofore– kind of a glitchy atmospheric, vocal harmony Americana. Website Facebook MySpace Twitter Daytrotter Session

Leisure Birds : The garage-psych band Leisure Birds contributed two members to Gayngs- Jake Luck and Nick Ryan. Leisure Birds released their debut album Copper Scroll for the label Totally Gross National Product in October 2010. MySpace Facebook

Alpha Consumer : Alpha Consumer seems to be known more for backing other musicians (Dosh, Andrew Bird) than for their own music– although they have released three albums. Michael Lewis from Alpha Consumer provided saxophone for Relayted. MySpace Facebook Twitter

Mystery Palace :   Mystery Palace is one of Ryan Olcott’s (formerly of 12 Rods) projects that center around his circuit bent music. Mystery Palace records for Totally Gross National Product. MySpace Facebook

Bands Playing the 7th Street Entry:

The Entry ends up being a showcase of bands on Ryan Olson’s record label Totally Gross National Product.

Har Mar Superstar : Wow– well, this should be interesting. I didn’t have an opportunity to see Har Mar Superstar when he was living in Minneapolis– he has moved from being an oddity to being completely embraced for his utter distorted personal view. I love his distinctly 80’s sounding Minneapolis funky sound, though. He recorded a cover of the George Michael classic “One More Try” with Gayngs last year. Click Here to download this from Stereogum. Website Facebook MySpace

Slapping Purses : Slapping Purses is the one-man electronic noise + electro beat of Jason Power. Promises to be loud and abrasive. If you’re into electronic glitchiness and beats, this is the act for you. Also on Totally Gross National Product. MySpace Facebook

Marijuana Deathsquads : Marijuana Deathsquads is Gayngs head honcho Ryan Olson’s other going music project. Marijuana Deathsquads started as a backing band for P.O.S. At the core of the group is essentially Minneapolis hardcore punk band Building Better Bombs also fronted by P.O.S. The lineup of Marijuana Deathsquads changes as they bring outside artists to collaborate with them. I guess you could think of MD as an early template for Gayngs. Records for Totally Gross National Product as well. Currently doing an in-residence with Har Mar Superstar in L.A. at Spaceland. Website Facebook MySpace

Spyder Baybie Raw Dog : Another act from the Totally Gross National Product stable. A spaced-out M.C. I guess you might say. MySpace

Moonstone Continuum : Progressive electronic music. Sounds like 70’s bands like Tangerine Dream or Kraftwerk to me. I liked the couple of songs I sampled on their MySpace page. On Totally Gross National Product. Their self-titled release comes as a 150g vinyl LP with digital download and a 23-page book of works by their “Lunarian Minister” M. Mikah Mackert. A really out-there release to be sure. MySpace Facebook

Albert : Analog synth music by Minneapolis musician Albert Elmore. Elmore has been releasing music via his website bbpwc.com since 2004 and encourages reuse and sampling through Creative Commons Share Alike Licensing, which is great. He also performs under a few aliases including Jon Jacob 3, Never Say DJ Fred Equipment and James St. Murder Laden Mitten Wonder among many others. His new album – a compilation of works dating back to 2004– will be released on vinyl on March 15th on Totally Gross National Product. Website Twitter Interview with MPLS.TV

Radical Cemetery : I couldn’t find much information about this band other than they had a DIY 90-minute cassette release last June in a limited run of 100 titled Stoned Minors.

Performances at The Record Room:

DJ Sets and Doomtree Solos : I think this has the potential to be a really interesting set of performances. I’m really digging the MC’s and producers in this collective. Sims, Dessa, P.O.S., Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, Lazerbeak.

The Gayngs Affiliyated Showcase is presented by the City Pages blog Gimme Noise. Tickets are $20 and Doors are at 6:30 PM on Sunday, March 6th. This is an 18+ show.

Click Here for the First Avenue page on this show with information on how to purchase tickets.

Gayngs 2011 Tour Dates (from Consequence of Sound):
03/06 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
03/11 – Austin, TX @ Stubbs
03/13 – Denton, TX @ 35 Confederate Festival
03/17 – Austin, TX @ SXSW / Mohawk
03/18 – Austin, TX @ SXSW /Lustre Pearle/ Dickies Party
04/15-17 – Indio, CA @ Coachella
05/28 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
05/29 – Quincy, WA @ Sasquatch Music Festival
06/01 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
06/04 –  San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

Gayngs Fall Tour Dates

In early April, Sherry and I were in the Twin Cities visiting relatives and I managed to get a trip to the Mecca of Records known as the Electric Fetus. While I was flipping through their used vinyl and discount bins an unfamiliar soundtrack was playing overhead. Sherry asked me what it was, and I wasn’t sure but I was as enthralled as she was with the very mellow and groovy music. At one point I found myself singing along with one of the tracks, “You don’t know how to ease my pain, you don’t know…” I asked the guy behind the counter, “Is this a cover of Godley & Creme’s ‘Cry’?” He replied that the thought it was and said, “we’ve been playing this all day and I never noticed that!” He went on to tell me that it was a kind of “Minneapolis Supergroup” called Gayngs (I had to look at the “upcoming releases” board to see how it was spelled). Well, I promptly scoured the file sharing repositories for a leak of Gayngs album titled Relayted and found one. The album quickly entered my regular rotation until it’s release date on May 11th when I  purchased the gorgeous 2 LP vinyl in a white gatefold sleeve.

Gayngs is a 23-member (or should I say “participant?”) band/project assembled by Ryan Olson who had an epiphany of sorts waking up one morning to the strains of 10CC’s softrock mega hit “I’m Not In Love.” It was then and there that he decided he wanted to record an album of a similarly-inspired sound. One that would allow them to use all of those cheesy synth patches any self-respecting musician should stay away from. The beginnings of the album started with Ryan and Solid Gold members Adam Hurlburt and Zach Coulter. Over time Ryan added other members to the band drawing from friends and girlfriends until the assembled cast grew to 23. All 23 members don’t play together on any one song on the album. Other notable groups who donated members include Bon Iver (Justin Vernon, Mike Noyce), Megafaun (Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Joe Westerlund), P.O.S., Leisure Birds (Jake Luck, Nick Ryan) and Roma di Luna(Channy Moon Casselle). The album delivered by this large union of musicians is surprisingly singular in vision given all of the participants– which can only be a testament to how Olson managed the proceedings.

A couple of weeks ago we had a family get-together and my relatives from Eau Claire, WI showed up with a present for me– a copy of Relayted on CD and a copy of the May Vita.mn magazine with an article on Gayngs with a focus on the band leader/arranger Ryan Olson. Apparently my aunt is good friends with Ryan’s mom! It turns out that my aunt and uncle went to The Last Prom on Earth show at First Avenue in May and had a great time! Of course, this was a show that Sherry and I had debated on going to, but couldn’t make it and had been kicking ourselves about. Well, thankfully the band will be bringing their 69-beats-per-minute antics to a quick run of dates at the end of September and beginning of October cumulating in a visit to the Austin City Limits Festival on 10/10. While the Last Prom on Earth shows had all of the members of Gayngs, the touring version will only have 10 members— notably without the women but showcasing new arrangements and new material!

TOUR DATES
09/29/10 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
09/30/10 Chicago, IL – Metro
10/01/10 Toronto, ONT – Phoenix Theatre
10/02/10 Boston, MA – Paradise
10/03/10 New York, NY – Webster Hall
10/04/10 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
10/05/10 Washington, DC – Black Cat
10/07/10 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
10/10/10 Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Festival

Click Here for Gayngs website

Click Here for Gayngs MySpace

Click Here for Gayngs Facebook Fanpage

Click Here for Gayngs Vimeo Videos (a must-see, frankly)

Click Here to download “The Gaudy Side of Town” (an edit) from Relayted

Click Here to download “Faded High” from Relayted


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