Tag Archives: Nerdcore

The Epitome - Still Trill

The Epitome – Still Trill [AltWire Review]

The Epitome obviously has beef with all of us. 

The Kansas City native and frequent Ish1da collaborator, just dropped a Super Spirit Bomb onto the favorite platforms of every music streamer.

I challenge you to listen to Still Trill and disagree. 

Disclaimer: Neither myself, nor AltWire, condone the events that took place in Universe 7 during the Kid Buu saga. The destruction that took place, with effects that still linger to this day, is nothing short of a catastrophe…

…just like the remnants of recording studio that The Epitome recorded Still Trill at. 

I really hope that it wasn’t a home studio. 

All proceeds from the sales of this album will go towards The Epitome Build-A-Home fund.

Meanwhile, as we sleep, and The Epitome starts his home-hunting quest, Still Trill begins by urging us to “Wake Up”.

Wake Up features Ish1da and Canadian emcee Ekaj. It serves as a much-needed wake-up call to those of us who are still 9 to 5’ing it. 

Ish1da sums up the feeling of that struggle and his coping method on the hook:

Wake up, wake up can’t take another pay cut/

Lookin like I’m motherf—ing Brock when I be blazed up/

Lookin like the third division captain when I’m paid up/

Wake up, wake up can’t take another paycut

Still Trill has a combination of great lyrics, melodies, and yes, Nerd Bars & references that is rarely found in today’s independent Hip-Hop. It’s as if this album was designed to be a lean manufacturing technique, designed by Six-Signa Black Belt The Epitome, to automate the psychic industry.
It knows when you want to be energetic, it knows when you want to be laidback, and Still Trill knows when you are ready to turn up.
My favorite tracks on this album are:
  • Old Me featuring Kadesh Flow & VInyl Richie – On this track, The Epitome finds himself  reminiscing  about his former self, while recognizing how far he has evolved. In the end, he decides that he is a better person and says, “F— the old me!” I also love the jazzy accompaniment at the end of the song.
  • and Scott Summersa lit anthem that lights up the atmospshere, just like its namesake’s optic blasts. Hopefully, this one gets a video!

Still Trill is Shakespearean, in the fact that it is a Midsummer Night’s Dream for everyone who is looking for a soundtrack to play, while bending blocks or skirting the main street on the hottest day in recent memory in their hometown.

Still Trill is definitely The Epitome of that classic heat.

Listen to Still Trill here:

LEX the Lexicon Artist – “Raging Ego” Review

At some point in its short history, Hip-Hop became extremely diverse.

Back in the day, that means the late 80’s and 90’s for our readers who call Wiz Khalifa a throwback artist, Hip-Hop success was largely limited to artists who had “street-credibility.” Sure, there were artists who slipped through the cracks. Fresh Prince was probably one of the most notable artists who found success in Hip-Hop without compromising who he truly was.

Perhaps Will Smith held a crystal ball that could peer into the future. Or, maybe artists like himself and Shock G were actually Dungeon Masters from the 2010’s who traveled back in time, utilizing quantum mechanics to build a time machine to travel through dimensions to the late 1980’s to plant the seed of diversity in Hip-Hop. A place, which still exists because time is actually a dimension, and space is relative to time, meaning we’ve been bamboozled into thinking that time is a measurement.

Which brings me to the topic at hand…

LEX the Lexicon Artist

LEX is originally from Taiwan, but lives in Oakland, California. She considers herself to be a Nerdcore Hip-Hop Artist, but after listening to her new album, Raging Ego, it’s hard for me to place a label on the high-energy femcee.

This album does a great job of blending multiple genres together. If there was an alternative title for this album, it would be: Raging Gumbo – “a mix of styles, lyrics, and production that no one would expect to sound so great together, until you hear it and your ears craving for more of this delicious flavor.”

The album begins with a song whose lyrics stay true to the egocentric theme of the album, “Peep Game”.LEX sets the tone for the album by spitting game in a confident tone:

Ladies and gentlemen and nonconformists/

Please, direct your attention to my performance/

Now train your line of vision on me like the eye of Horus/

And you shall find that my metaphorical dong’s enormous

However, “Peep Game” also contains a motivational message for people who are frustrated and feel neglected by the very individuals they are trying to reach. As LEX says, “Confront your enemies by telling ’em to peep game”. Don’t be fooled by LEX‘s self-label of her album as a Hip-Hop album. This album is filled with Indie, Punk, and Rock overtones. A track that stands out as such is the Mikal kHill-produced“Psych Major”

On “Psych Major”, LEX the Psychologist informs her listeners:

I know exactly what you want, I know exactly what you need/

I know exactly where you’re from, I know exactly what you mean/

What?

Cause I’m a Psych major and I’m a mind-reading machine/ 

(Remind me not to attempt to fabricate anything while talking to LEX…’cause she’s a mind-reading machine!)

Other tracks like “Sales Freak” take a fun tone, as LEX, in true Oaktown fashion, touts her skills as a hustler and saleswoman who can make you “put your wallets in the air and wave ’em around like you just don’t care.” 

My favorite track on the album is “Mistakes” produced by IncooperativeThe irony of this song is genius, considering that it’s on an album called Raging Ego. LEX admits her mistakes, while apologizing for them at the same time:

I’m sorry to all the kids that I tormented/

Who never thought their childhood bully would be repentant/

I can tell you I will never know how much it hurt/

Would it make you feel better to know I got what I deserved?

I had to replay the song three times to actually listen to the lyrics, because her flow on this song rode the melodic production by Incooperative so well. I love a track that can incorporate the structure of classic Hip-Hop, and “Mistakes”does exactly that.

LEX is in her own lane with Raging Ego. Even if you aren’t a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, this album will have replay value for listeners across all spectrums. It’s creative and diverse and the Lexicon artist shows off her skill and versatility on the project with confidence.

Do yourself a favor. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, put your ego to the side, and buy Raging Ego. WARNING: You’re going to buy it sooner or later anyways, when you go to a LEX the Lexicon Artist performance.

Don’t be surprised when your wallet is in the air.

Raging Ego releases June 6th, 2018. You can pre-order the album on Bandcamp HERE.

 

Ish1da – AK-47 Ronin

The Review of a Rogue Samurai

Listen to and purchase AK-47 Ronin at ish1da.bandcamp.com  It is also available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon Music.

What is evolution?

The dictionary defines evolution as the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.

In the musical dimension of the multiverse, evolution has just been re-defined by AK-47 Ronin.

I reviewed Ish1da’s first album, Hood Hemingway, 2 years ago. I thought it had the makings of a classic album then, and I still consider it a classic now. An artist’s inspiration is always his most memorable album. THAT album is the weathered cornerstone that everyone walks past and nods, even though nobody is there.

Respect.

Respect for the words that turned fans into lifetime friends. An adoration for the music that made you figure out what the logo for “repeat” looked like on your car radio.

But, eventually, an artist’s goal is to achieve growth. There will be some traditional Hip-Hop fans who won’t appreciate the motive of this album. This album will appeal to a much wider swath of fans than Hood Hemingway did. The production on this album is on point and updated to trends that we hear today. That’s why this album will appeal to today’s streamers.

AK-47 Ronin displays an evolved Ish1da. Well, given the theme of the album, maybe evolved isn’t the proper adjective to use.

AK-47 Ronin is illuminated by an ascended Ish1da.

Just in case you don’t understand what I mean by “AK-47 Ronin is illuminated”, let me put it into Nurban terms.

It’s lit.

The first thing that’s obvious is that Ish1da and his team are ready for war. Listening to the intro, AK-47 Ronin, I could picture the squad in a smoky ’05 Impala, on the hunt for rappers who oppose this modern-day Otaku revolution. This track describes the expectation of the street samurai:

Born under a red sky, child of tha Ainu/

Your soldiers don’t respect you if they won’t die right beside you/

This track sets the tone for the album. This album showcases a man at the crossroads. Behind him, lies the traditional Hip-Hop loving community that raved over Hood Hemingway. Ahead of him, lies an unknown path. This path is full of rivals, both known and unknown. But, is Team Ish1da ready to wage a battle against the unknown? What about the clandestine rivals? As Ish1da says on “Tha Code”:

Bring the hate and Imma cleave it straight/

Susanoo to a fu—- snake/

You all fu—- fake, you wouldn’t bust a grape/

Live and die by the blade, I only trusted fate

For the most part, the features on this album are dope. However, I have to be honest. There were a couple of features that I felt were just “placeholders”, not because they weren’t quality artists, but because their lyrical content didn’t quite match the theme of the song.

But, my focus is on the overall value of the album and not a critique on a guest feature. One of the songs with guest features that really stood out to me was “Next” (feat. Nostic the Poet & AGenius) Nostic the Poet seems to be chasing a divine intervention, but at the same time speaking the thoughts of everyone trapped in this life of seemingly few choices:

I don’t wanna die though, who’s gonna watch my kids

My verses are hollow if I don’t practice what I spit

If my temporal decisions hurl me into the eternal

I’m aiming for the cross and hope I miss the inferno

Of course, Mega Ran gives us an expected barfest on Yojimbo (produced by RoboRob). He and Ish1da compliment each other well, which is a testimony to the versatility of both artists.

On another note, it seems as if Ish1da and The Epitome are 2 halves that make a whole whenever they are on a track together. This is no different on Yagyu Jubei feat Bun3 and The Epitome. They should make a joint album together at some point in the future!

The rest of the features that round out the album are: Amy, JaqKel, Jurel, the Deity, Mystic Elder Maikis, Mike C, Domineko, Zieg Amimura, EkajDaVerbal Miraje, Diggz Da Prophecy, Walter West, Kryciz, & Scott SK Miller

My favorite song on AK-47 Ronin is “Kofun”.  There is only one way to describe this track: REAL AF (excuse my French):

If I die in here tonight it’s their truth to tell/

I stomped myself up in my neck and hung myself up in my cell/

It’s simple for you to sell, just be a safe white rapper/

I say f— tha police, black lives matter/

I hope Ish1da pushes this song as his next single. The production by Kora does an excellent job of setting a melancholy tone that makes you really pay attention to what’s being said. This song needs to be heard everywhere. Not only in urban environments, but also by our suburban counterparts who feel secure at night, like there’s not a real war going on a couple of miles from your safe abode.

Back to that evolution thing. I don’t know if he meant to this album to showcase the versatility of what some would call Nerdcore, but AK-47 Ronin did exactly that. There will be some Nerdcore fans who won’t understand or appreciate the “Nurbanism” that artists like Ish1da represent.

But, I truly hope every Nerdcore artist pushes this album as hard as they would their own. Why? Because AK-47 Ronin is one of the sub-genre’s albums that isn’t exclusively for a niche audience. Yes, I did receive a review copy. But, I’m also purchasing the album as soon as I post this review. I’m going to bang the hell out of it in front of all of my non-Anime loving, not-Nerdy-at-all homies. When they ask me, “Who is this,” I’m going to say, “Nerdcore & Otaku Artist Ish1da”.

Then, maybe they will want to hear YOUR Nerdcore album next.

 

Review Grade: B

Metrics (on a scale between 1 – 10)

Lyrics: 9.5

Production: 8

Quality: 7

Replay Value: 8

Total: 32.5 (81.2%)

 

The Breakdown: While AK-47 Ronin is a lyrical jewel, and the production was lit, I felt the quality of the mixes could have been better. Honestly, the quality isn’t bad, but there are some points on the album, most notably “7 Samurai” where it was apparent that different quality microphones were being used. I’m sure the engineer worked his magic, but the inequality is still apparent. And with the powerhouse features on that song, it should’ve had the potential to be in my top 3. The good news is, the quality wasn’t lacking so much that I couldn’t listen to it again. I felt as if I could put my favorite songs on repeat and just let it ride for the week. In fact, I did exactly that!

I honestly don’t think this grade is fair to the effort that Ish1da put into making this album. But, my goal is not to tear any artist down, but to give an honest critique that will be full of options for the artist to consider. I want to hear the perfect album. Then, I want to review it.

That would be the perfect day…

Check Out Ish1da ft Mega Ran – “Yojimbo” produced by RoboRob!

 

 

 

Ish1da X The Epitome – Ojii-Sama [Prod by KenKen KillT iT]

Who is Ish1da?

What?! A rapper named after an anime character?

Nerd!

What is the first thing we think of when we hear that word?

Many of us see the stereotypical image of a skinny kid with oversized glasses, a LOTR (Lord of the Rings, sheesh…norms!) pocket protector clipped onto a sweater vest, and a Star Wars Edition X-Box One controller hanging out of the side pocket of his cargo pants.

What if I told you that, at some point in the last 20 years or so, that nerds evolved?  In fact, nerds not only evolved, but society finally realized that being a nerd was about more than fandoms and quirky kids with eccentric habits. Being a nerd was also about having your own unique identity and interests.

It also helped that those same nerds revolutionized the technology that began to define our world. Now, just like the Borg from Star Trek, which is often considered a “nerd show”, we began to assimilate the citizens of Earth!

In that case, Nerdcore artists, Ish1da and The Epitome are residents of The Cube.

Hailing from Kansas City, MO, the rappers are both hardcore anime fans. Don’t let that fool you though. Ish1da spits some serious lyrics and gets gangsta on Ojii-Sama.  He even shouts out deceased Kansas City rapper Fat Tone:

“I’m a tell you like Fat Tone told me/

Everything around me, ruled by Ojii”

This song destroys the image of Nerdcore as a lightweight & outdated sub-genre. Nerdcore is obviously here to stay, and it’s also obvious that it’s “lit”.

Now, show some respect to the Ojji-samas.

Photo Credit/Edit: Ekaj DaVerbal Miraje

 

 

 

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”!

 

Album Review: The Yavin 4 – Intergalactic Rock n Roll

Album Link: theyavin4.bandcamp.com/

Fact: Here’s an interesting tidbit for all the Star Wars n00bs reading this. Yavin 4 is the moon where the rebel base was located in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope!  

I knew immediately that The Yavin 4 would be in my playlist. First of all, I’m a sucker for classic rock. Secondly…the band’s name is The Yavin 4. Self-Explanatory, right?

Sigh. I forget that most of the world are mere Star Wars fans.

The Yavin 4 and I have one thing in common, we LIVE in that galaxy far, far away. I could tell they were also residents by the title of the first song, “Red 5” , on their debut album “Intergalactic Rock N Roll“. It was a noble gesture to start this album off with a song named after Luke Skywalker’s call sign during the Battle of Yavin. The Alliance’s first strike in the Galactic Civil War could accurately describe the Yavin 4’s first album.

A Victory.

However, we have to remember that Red 5 was also the call sign for another famous Skywalker.

(cues heavy breathing)

Yes, this album has a dark side! My inner Sith begins to shiver in anticipation. I hear my new theme song. Damn, that’s a bad ass lead guitar! Listen to that accompaniment behind it! I can feel my Force lightning begin to charge. Then all of a sudden I hear, “Kenoooobi”

I’m jealous. This awesome song that makes me want to kick ass is an ode to a Jedi?!

My robes are brown my hair is a wizened white/
The force is with me, I’m a Jedi Knight/
I fought in the clone wars, and I kept the peace/
If you strike me down my powers only increase

It’s obvious that Jedis also don’t fear death.

This is a classic concept album that I am surprised I hadn’t heard until a month ago. What really stood out for me on the album were the way the lyrics were like each song title’s adjectives:

Boots strapped tight, blasters set to kill/
If it comes to that, then you know I will/
Jetpack fueled, the trap is set/
If you think you’ll escape, then I’ll take that bet

Even Carbonite-encased Han Solo could tell you who is the subject of those lyrics. The sound quality of IGRR was good. Jason Bambery did a great job mixing this album. I had fun listening to the parody songs on this album. On “Han Shot First”, they capture the smuggler’s thoughts when confronted by Greedo in A New Hope:

Greedo never had a chance/
It’s no fun with a price on your head/
And a walking carpet is your only friend/
A smuggler’s life is so much harder/
When every bounty hunter wants to turn you in

One downfall of this album is it’s gonna fail to reel in the younger demographic who aren’t Star Wars fans. I am a Star Wars nutcase so I love the character references on the album. Or, maybe it’s selfish of me to want to build more interest in my favorite fandom. Turn the millions into billions!

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away from Tattooine…

The Yavin 4 is an excellent band and I think that people would be willing to give them a shot based on their talent alone. I could see the replay value going much higher amongst Star Wars virgins if there were a couple of tracks that focused on introducing people to the Star Wars Universe. However, I don’t think The Yavin 4 is too concerned with that.

When I talked to band member, Benny on Facebook he told me that they were “lifers”. In other words, true to their roots. The roots that serve as the foundation for the tree of Rock and Roll.

It’s rare to find a group with that type of dedication to their genre these days. Rock stars sound more like pop stars. Pop stars trying to convince people that they are actually R&B artists. The Yavin 4 is only trying to convince people that they’re the best at what they do. I can respect them for that.

May the Force be with you guys, to Yavin 4 and beyond!