Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ride the Wave of the Current Swell

Courtesy - Mike Pepperdine

Going from two guys playing music on the beaches of Victoria, Canada, to having an international fan base, Current Swell is a name that isn't heard too often in the U.S. It is a mystery to me why more Americans have no clue about such a great band that puts their souls into everything they do with their music.

The laid back band has a reggae, folk, and grass-roots feel to their warm and enticing sound that can’t help but draw you in. They sing about their travels and people they have encountered throughout their international experiences making listeners a part of the story. Current Swell is a wave that rolls through leaving their mark from their hard work, love for their music as well as their fans.

Current Swell independently put out three albums spanning from 2007 - 2009 with tracks like "Chesterman's Valley" and "Stomach" making you want to sing along and jam out without a care in the world. Their music and talent put a smile on my face every time I crank up their tunes. As said before, at times I even feel like I had been along for the ride in the exciting stories that are beautifully told throughout each album. It is an honest and real experience for listeners to take part in.
Courtesy - Mike Pepperdine

As the band traveled the world and shared their experiences through the unique elements in their Mike Pinto like sound, Current Swell got back into the studio to create their latest album, Long Time Ago. Simply by the title of the album and the first track, the reminiscence of the band's journeys together as well as their reflection on past experiences is instantly prevalent  Current Swell's experiences and time together has also transformed their sound a bit on the record to where they rooted themselves in the ground at the beach with a little bit of folk, rock, smooth reggae, mesmerizing vocals, and even some indie rock influence.

For example, "Brad's Song" is stripped down raw and filled with emotion and the stories are still there, but in songs like "Get What's Mine," you become consumed by the tracks catchy melody and tone of the vocals. Then the song "Up The Hills" sneaks up with a bite, having an indie and upbeat flow with a chorus effect on the guitar that gives it a bluesy/"Where is My Mind" by the Pixies feel to it. It is awesome to see a band successfully step out of their element.

I have been on the wave that the Current Swell created for years, now others need to come join the party.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Feature: BIG K.R.I.T. Continues to Make Moves Through Music

Courtesy - XXLMAG.com

For those of you who don't know BIG K.R.I.T., open your ears, shut your eyes, and swallow a mouth full of KRIT. He is straight out of the "Dirty South," but no...not Atlanta, not New Orleans, not Houston, but instead, the great state of Mississippi. KRIT has been in the game since 2005 and took his music on with full force by mixing, producing, and tearing up the mic. He had been signed to several labels that thought he had had potential, yet was never given the chance to show the industry what he’s got. That was until his raw and rebellious mixtape, Wuz Here, came out in 2010.

KRIT was initially beaten into the ground by the major labels in the music industry. They gave him the run around, leaving him with a bitter taste and even more determination to prove them wrong. Instead of staying stuck in a cold grave giving up his dream, KRIT told the music moguls to piss off by getting right back to work. He then took on the challenge of promoting himself, producing his own music, making his own beats, finding his own samples, and writing his own raps all together and completely solo. That takes true dedication and passion.

After KRIT finished Wuz Here, he put himself out there by booking shows and allowing those interested to download the album for free, as he waited for someone to realize how talented he really was. Cinematic Music Group along with Def Jam Recordings grabbed it and ate it up. KRIT was signed yet again, but was still a bit hesitant because of his past experiences with major labels. This was a prevalent theme throughout Wuz Here. KRIT dug deep into his hatred of the music industry in many of the tracks on the album. Not necessarily because of what happened to him, but because of how the hip-hop sector of the industry was/is filled with fakes, the need for materialism, and rhymes that make a kindergartener look like a genius.

In his track "As Small As A Giant," KRIT spits, "...while they was writin' books, I was writin' hooks mama. I'll be that nigga on TV, cuz people like Bow Wow and Soja Boy make it look easy. No pun intended, hopin' they get offended. I'm throwin' up if these niggas spittin'. Didn't write it, but recite it like puppets on strings..."

He rips the fools in suits apart and stomps on them, along with the heartless rappers that never seemed to put much effort into their music. His intensity makes it seem as if he was saying it directly to their faces with no remorse. It was time someone took a stand on the state of the mainstream music industry and how pathetic it is.

KRIT played with his clever rhymes that weren’t just about “gettin' money and ho's.” Instead, he put his charged emotions to fight the popular music scene’s state of talentless political bullshit. Mainstream hip-hop unfortunately dumbs down listeners with brainless hooks and large amounts of auto tune. A doctor should look at whoever decided to call that music, immediately.

Another track off the album that really stood out called, "Hometown Hero", KRIT is spittin' the wit yet again. "He say, she say, rumors all day. The rap game is high school and life's a hallway like what clique you in? The Beamer or the Benz? The Bentley or the Lambo, here we go again. Don't sit at my table. VIP I got this. You ain't poppin' champagne after every game, all you know is pop shit..." To put it simply he says how he feels and uses some awesome metaphors to enhance his message.

What rapper has ever compared the music industry to high school? If you really think about it, it makes complete sense. Silly "beefs," who has the most "bling," who is in what crew and has the largest entourage. It is all pointless nonsense, and takes away from music as an art. KRIT continues to speak the truth with every hook and beat dragging you further into his mind. As you listen through the song, as well as the mixtape, this becomes more apparent.

Not only are this album’s lyrics creative, new and intelligent, but the beats he creates are amazing. He was said to have used over 1,000 samples throughout Wuz Here (if you can name them all KRIT said he would give you $10,000 and a pan of brownies, good luck with that...). He flows so well over each precisely placed sample and note, keeping up with himself without any struggle. KRIT's talent for hearing where each sound, sample, instrument, etc. should be placed, makes his beats very original as well as showing just how great of a producer he is too.

He definitely has some Mississippi influences to his music, yet incorporates soul and jazz into his sound, particularly in the track, "Neva Go Back." The guitar sounds so smooth causing all of the elements to fall into place like a finished puzzle. I do wish there was more bass in some of his tracks, but that isn’t what he wanted to do, so I respect it. There is no denying KRIT knows what he is doing, whether it is behind the scenes or getting up on stage for a show.

Overall, Wuz Here is an ambitious and great mixtape that opened doors for his future in the music industry. He deserves the respect and notice, which he has strived so hard for over the years. His relentlessness paid off. Some think of KRIT as the new David Banner. Influenced by him, yes. No one can be KRIT or have the same sound. Wuz Here was the album that dropped a bomb on the music industry and had the labels that brushed him off smacking themselves for not giving him the opportunity to prove himself.

You can listen and download Wuz Here for free online. Give it a listen and make up your own mind about the mixtape that gave his career a jump-start in a new direction.

KRIT’s music has continued to stay unique over the years and humble to those who inspire him, which can be difficult when the pretentious musicians around you put out music that they are told to and then having egos that shows how ignorant and out of touch they are wit h their music. In KRIT's track called “Thank You Kindly,” he shows those that have helped him along the way and stayed with him though the hard times how appreciative he really is by thanking his friends, family, fans, etc. for supporting him and listening to his music. That is quite a humble thing to do and is a quality that not many musicians or people in general, have today.

KRIT’s latest album, Live from The Underground (Chopped N Screwed), seems to be exactly that, "Chopped N Screwed." He bravely steps out of his element in this album, which listeners need to realize because he played around with what we are all used in his music as if he took one out of three hats and turned the one hat completely inside out. However, there’s an effect on his vocals that causes the tone of his voice to drop that seems to be slightly distracting from the rest of the elements in the album that deserves notice. Still, his beats and samples were filled with precise passion and could possibly be considered the highlight of the album. He does a great job of placing everything where it needs to be as usual, but if you are looking for a good start to becoming acquainted with KRIT's style and music, I would wait to listen to Live From The Underground (Chopped N Screwed). 

Courtesy - bigkrit.com
For those that know his music and don't like his latest manipulation to his sound, might want to keep in mind that that he had a purpose for how he produced the record, and why he chose to do what he did. He probably got bored and wanted to have some fun by changing things up, or at least something along those lines. I believe that he made his decisions for this album because he has already developed his style and wanted to chop and screw with it. Again, this is something that isn't seen in other artists' music allowing him to separate from what is expected.

The album before Live from The Underground was 4evaNaDay.  It goes back to the sound and style he initially created. KRIT said on his SoundCloud, “I took the last 6 months to work on this album & it all came down to 4evaNaDay. Instead of visually documenting my day I decided to put it on wax. This is what I go through on a daily basis. It's the Road Less Traveled - K.R.I.T.” This personal statement takes KRIT's second album to a new level, allowing for there to be an emotional attachment that those who listen to the album can reach out and relate to.

KRIT dives into his lyrics by putting his heart, life, and feelings out there for people to connect with in 4evaNaDay. I find this to be beautiful, giving KRIT caring qualities through his music instead of acting like a gangster with a major ego. The lyrics KRIT writes give him that sense of humanity. It is as if he is opening up his soul and mind for people to see, like looking through the binoculars that are his words only to find him on the island in his mind giving us the opportunity to catch a glimpse of who he really is. As usual, his perfectly chosen beats and samples compliment his rhymes, rhythm, and lyrics particularly in the jazz and blues influences throughout 4evaNaDay.

KRIT has also produced music for some recognizable names in the music industry, such as T.I., Ludacris, and Wiz Khalifa. I can’t say that I am the biggest fan of the so called Mississippi/Southern hip-hop sound, but for me KRIT doesn’t quite fall into that hip-hop subgenre because of how he takes his music in a different direction than most artists that qualify for this musical category. 

KRIT has worked extremely hard to make it in a merciless industry that has no problem throwing you in the trash at any time. I find this to be evident in his music. He spits what he feels and shares his life experiences with those who are willing to listen.