Tag Archives: dj

Altwire Review: DJ Shadow – The Mountain Will Fall

DJ Shadow made history 20 years ago with Endtroducing… a one of a kind instrumental hip-hop album composed entirely of samples.  And while his later works never quite hit the same heights as that debut, the west coast producer has continued to deliver some of the most unique instrumental albums in the genre.  Shadow doesn’t just make beats, he constructs impressive soundscapes that weave in and out of each other.  He ties them up into a narrative arc without really needing words, and The Mountain Will  Fall follows the same tack.  The tracklist features more guest spots than one might expect, but none of them steal the spotlight away from where it should be: the beats, the music, the tone.  It’s not an attempt to recreate Endtroducing… but Shadow’s motivations seem to come from the same place and its success stems from that more than anything else.

Experimentation and novelty made DJ Shadow a legend and the same things take The Mountain Will Fall out of the realm of beat-tapes and into its own space.  The album begins with a spoken “Hi!” and swelling, ambient synth pads before the beat drops in with a sampled holler and thunderous, wonky drum sounds.  The serenity and calmness of the synths and the beat sheer volume and force smash against each other in confusion and harmony, never sure if it’s a competition and if it is, who is winning.  The whole project tilts that way.  Elements find themselves in strange contrast with other elements, drops land in unexpected places like they showed up early or late.  Most of the time, confusion serves to benefit the overall concept, but not always.

The second track, “Nobody Speak,” which features Run The Jewels, is on of the more out of place pieces.  Not to say it’s bad, it just feels more like an El-P beat than a DJ Shadow beat and it’s the only fully and clearly lyrical song on the project.  The tone and the lyrics don’t line up with the rest of the album, and the following track, “Three Ralphs” is hardly a full composition and serves mostly as a bridge between “Nobody Speak” and the nine following songs.  By track five, “The Sideshow” however, Shadow finds a solid pocket and The Mountain Will Fall, doesn’t lose much steam from there on out.  The track features abundant record scratches, deep brass bass, and a killer break-beat that nods to the sound of the mid 90’s when Shadow was coming up.

The back half of The Mountain Will Fall continues the atmospheric trend with the dark and intense “Depth Charge” and the waves and soft electronic accents of “Ashes to Oceans.”  Each track contains elements that seem outside of DJ Shadow’s normal comfort zone but to his credit, he works them into his more comfortable style effortlessly.  “California” picks up about three minutes in and shows a noisy, aggressive side to the artist that sounds Death Grips inspired.  Tracks like “Mambo” and “Ghost Town” involve that newly popular style of hesitated drum hits and high, fast tempo, clicks.  It’s a new sound for Shadow, but he makes these things sound right at home amid his piano loops and deep house bass.

Enough time and perseverance might surely make a mountain fall to the ground, just like time and perseverance can keep a legendary producer from ever sounding stale.  The Mountain Will Fall is a picture of an artist who keeps moving motivated by curiosity and experimentation.  Consistent evolution is the name of the game for DJ Shadow.  He’s not the same DJ he was in ’96 but he’s still one of the most creative and original music-makers in the business.

Taylor Swift Dominates iHeartRadio Music Awards

DJ Calvin Harris is floating on Cloud 9 right now. He can tell the world how it feels to have Taylor Swift, who dominated the iHeartRadio music awards, acknowledge him as officially hers.

She made the acknowledgement while accepting the “Best Tour” award.

“For the first time I had the most amazing person to come home to when the spotlight went out and the crowds were all gone,” Swift said. “So, I want to thank my boyfriend Adam for that.”

Adam Wiles is Harris’ birth name.

Swift won three awards: “Album of the Year” for “1989”, “Female Artist of the Year”, and the “Best Tour” award.

Here is a list of other award winners:

Song of the Year – “Hello” by Adele

Male Artist of the Year – Justin Bieber

R&B Artist of the Year – Chris Brown

Dance Artist of the Year – Calvin Harris

Best New Artist – Fetty Wap

Best Duo/Group of the Year – Maroon 5

Album of the Year – “1989” by Taylor Swift

Dance Song of the Year – “Where Are Ü Now?” by Skrillex & Diplo with Justin Bieber

Biggest Triple Threat – Selena Gomez

Best Fan Army – Beliebers

Best Tour – Taylor Swift

Innovator Award – U2

Image: Billboard.com

DJ RoboRob – A Few Songs EP

DJ ROboRob

Album Link: djroborob.bandcamp.com/album/a-few-songs-ep

Genre: House/Electro House

I have a mission for you guys. When you listen to DJ RoboRob’s new “A Few Songs” EP, I want you to tell me if you can actually picture that Vodka Penguin he’s talking about on Track 1?

I could. Crazy, right? I have to give it to RoboRob. You expect to have a mental visual on a hip-hop track, or maybe a melodramatic ballad.

Really? On a house song? You can laugh if you want.

swear  I saw that damn penguin!

“Vodka Penguin” and the other 2 songs on this EP, “Leave Me Behind” and “The Mothersound 2” all show why DJ RoboRob is one of our “Beasts behind the Beats”.!

I know what you guys are thinking: “I can only dance for 10 min and then the party’s over?!” Here’s the awesome part about that. When you go to his Bandcamp page,  you can get RoboRob’s 7-album discography for a paltry $24.65!

You can dance a little longer now!

Thank Me Later.

DJ RoboRob’s “A Few Songs” EP is available for purchase now from his Bandcamp profile (see above link). Here is Track 1: “Vodka Penguin”.

 

 

Beasts Behind the Beats Week IV – DJ RadioHead

Website: http://djrhbeats.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/djradiohead

The following events are based on a true story!

April 2015

The night was rainy with a gloomy overcast. Thunder clapped outside in a grand, other-worldly type of crescendo.

The two emcees sat inside of the home studio, listening to beats online.

“I’m not feeling any of these beats, cuzzo,” Ambush Vin said.

“What type of beat you looking for fam,” the red-haired emcee known as Silence responded.

“I don’t know. I’ll know when I…” Vin stopped mid-sentence, as a lightning bolt struck right outside the window. “Damn!”  he jumped, knocking over the coffee he was drinking.

(eerie music starts playing in the background)

“Yo, Vin,” Silence said, “you hear that?”

The eerie choral arrangements and piano sample combined to make a wayward companion to the storm outside. The thunder claps actually seemed to be a part of the melody. The orchestra samples accented the growing tension of the storm.

“This beat was the soundtrack to the perfect storm,” Vin thought, as another lightning strike ensued.  “Force Lightning…that’s it!”

This week I got the chance to talk with the Beast behind the beat that eventually became “Darth Prefectus”,  DJ Radiohead!

DJ Radiohead

 

How long have you been producing and what got you started?

DJ Radiohead: I have been scratching vinyls since 2000 and producing since 2005. The cuts on Outkast’s “Wheels of Steel” started it all.

Do you have any sound or style that you prefer creating over another?

My personal preference is Boom Bap. I grew up on East Coast Hip-Hop. It played a big role in my sound.

Vinyl, Cassette, CD, or .wav?

I always choose to sample from vinyl, but I will sample cassettes and VHS tapes from time to time.

How long does it take to create a dope beat?

A dope creation could take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to 5-10 hours. Every beat is different.

Which do you prefer, creating organically (from scratch) or sampling?

I will always prefer sampling. To me, there is nothing better then finding a dope sample that you had to dig for. I spend about 2-3 hours a week at local record shops digging weekly.

If you could pick any artist out there to produce an album for, who would it be and why?

I would love to produce an entire album for Freddie Gibbs. I’ve always been a fan since I first heard his Mixtape “The Miseducation Of Freddie Gibbs” & really enjoyed his Piñata album produced by Madlib.

Here is a track from DJ Radiohead’s SoundCloud:

Beasts Behind the Beats Week III – DJ RoboRob

DJ RoboRob’s Bandcamp: https://djroborob.bandcamp.com/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/djroborob

This week on Beasts, I had the honor of interviewing one of the most creative producers in NCHH!

No, not the National Campaign for Hearing Health, which is an actual group!

Tip: Keep this group in mind, because you won’t be able to stop yourself from playing DJ RoboRob’s Monday mixes at Mach-shattering volumes...

However, the NCHH I speak of is the Nerdcore Hip-Hop Community. RoboRob is 1/5 of the well known collective, RPG-Unit, (The other 4 are: STaRF, Alpha Riff, King Pheenix, and his wife Starby), and he also produces all of their music.

Not to mention, he also is a hell of a House & EDM Producer/DJ!

Luckily, I caught him for this interview!

I must’ve have caught him in between his transformation from “Robot” back  to “Rob”.

Ouch! Stop throwing the tomatoes already! I get the point!

DJ RoboRob

 

The first question that I am dying to ask is, where did you come up with the name DJ RoboRob? The Rob part is obvious what about the Robo part?

RoboRob: I’ve always had an affinity for robots, androids, mecha anime, synthetic life, AI, etc. Data from Star Trek :The Next Generation was a huge inspiration from a young age. I wanted to bring some of that into my music with the chiptune influence (8bit music) as well. Nothing says robot like the beeps and boops of GameBoy music.

What do you think about the huge explosion of EDM?

In general I love it because it puts my type of music on the map but I hate the term EDM. This all encompassing term is too broad for the multitude of genres and sub-genres that fit into it. It’s like calling everything that has an emcee on it “Hip-Hop” I think with all genres there is about 90% that is just trash but, I feel the market is over saturated with garbage right now because of how popular electronic music has become over the past few years. Everyone wants to be a DJ, play the big stages and rise to fame quickly. A lot of people that don’t know a minor chord from their ass and think they can just pick up tables or open a production suite and make bangers. And a lot of people get away with it because they have money for high profile marketing. I don’t blame the explosion of electronic music though, just greedy people and greed is not what electronic music or any music should be about. Money is fine! Gotta find that balance. (yessh sorry kinda went off on a tangent there.)

Hey, no problem man! The people want to know your opinion! So, tell us about your vision, what motivates you? What makes DJ RoboRob tick?

Creating what I hear in my brain to come out the speakers. Connecting with others without saying a word. Also, if I’m being real, putting food on the table. Trying to find that balance ya know?

It’s interesting to someone with such love for the EDM Genre have a firm footing in Hip-Hop. Were you always a Hip-Hop fan? What was/is your inspiration to produce Hip-Hop?

Was I always a Hip-Hop fan? No. Actually, I couldn’t stand  Hip-Hop because lets face it, a lot of hip hop in the 90’s was cheese. Then I heard “Brother Ali – Champion EP.” After that it was everything I could get my hands on! Immortal Technique, Grieves, Aesop Rock, ATOP, Cunninlynguists, Atmosphere, Del, People Under The Stairs, Ces Cru. If they got something to say that isn’t money, bitches, bitches, money, I’ll listen and it influences me, in one way or another.

What is your favorite album at the moment?

I honestly don’t have one album that is a favorite. Too much good music out there to pick just one, in my honest opinion. I’m also really bad at listening to entire albums in one sitting. If I had to pick one that has been on constant repeat I’d say “Noisia & The Upbeats – Dead Limit.” Just insanely aggressive drum and bass with amazing progression, intense atmosphere, and stellar sound design.

You have a nerdcore hip-hop collective called RPG-Unit that you are a part of and also produce the music. How did this concept come about?

When I started dating my now wife, Shelby, she came to me with the idea behind a Borderlands 2-themed album with 4 emcees doing perspective raps as characters from the game. We hit up our friends (carefully picked, I might add) KPX, Starf, and EyeQ to fill the roles of the characters. I started chopping up music from the game and everything just started falling together. We’ve had a couple people in and out of the group since it started, but we’re a solid core now and it’s been a journey ever since we started.

What are your goals & plans for 2016?

DJ RoboRob & Friends – The Album (working title… bleh) is being worked on right now. Hella collabs with nerdcore emcees and some fantastic producers. Planning to drop it early summer. I am looking to tour in the spring and fall with some con dates sprinkled in the summer season. I have literally spent the last 2 years upping my production game, and I’m ready to get out on the road and make people move.

Thank You RoboRob for the insight and stellar interview! Here is the link to an EXCLUSIVE preview RoboRob gave us just for this interview called, “Vodka Penguins”!