the stand4rd – the stand4rd [Album]
Minnesota’s hot, humid summers and snowy winters offer sprawling vistas year-round for its growing group of creators. What sets the state apart from so many others with a continental climate is its underdog status in the rap world — save for Rhymesayers, anyway. the stand4rd, a formidable foursome comprised of exceptional talents (angelic vocalist and internet sensation Spooky Black; soundscape specialist Psymun; nonchalant rhymer Bobby Raps; quirky visionary Allan Kingdom), is poised to pull national attention under the guiding arm of Canadian producer-engineer-manager Doc McKinney.
The quartet exceeded high expectations with its self-titled debut, following a Fader feature, video-of-the-year contender and amusing DJ Khaled cosigns with what will likely go down as one of 2014’s finest projects. Maybe these guys have it easy here: I immediately compare any four-person group to Slaughterhouse. Kingdom and co. can’t best Budden and friends at rapping about, you know, rapping, but they can certainly craft a cohesive record that seamlessly balances and blends personalities.
The woozy ambience of “Decisions” grooves along to Spooky’s flawless falsetto and Kingdom’s croons, which are equally impressive and enjoyably odd. the stand4rd finds the intersection of self-indulgent ticks and classic sensibility. Click that download button and gift your ears a refresher.—Alex Siber
You can download the album here.
Domo Genesis – Under The Influence 2 [Mixtape]
While I’d call into question the need for three minutes of rambling to kickstart a mixtape, Domo Genesis‘ Under The Influence sequel sets a smoky mood without fail from the jump. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best moment here comes toward the tape’s end, when Odd Future coconspirator Hodgy Beats rolls through and earns an accomplice-to-murder charge for spazzing over the Left Brain-produced bass-strumming of “Sundance Kids.”
Two songs earlier, on “Full Moon,” Domo delivers a gravely hook that pays homage, if only implicitly, to Kid Cudi’s influential moon-man music that influence a considerable subject of the millennial generation. Left Brain, versatile as ever, gets the job done with low-lying drums and simplistic piano chords. You can see stars shining overhead as the instrumental progresses, and Genesis even supplies a generous shoutout to Ludacris’ “Move Bitch (Get Out the Way).” Dude’s piecing two worlds together like it’s nothing.
“Let the beat play, I’mma feel my swagger a little more,” Domo demands on the hilariously titled “24 Hour Spitness.” The oft-imaginary conversation between rapper and studio engineer has surely run its course, and yet there’s a a grain of truth here: Genesis, gifted hip-hop artist he may be, survives off something intangible, a cool confidence that makes every release of his a project to look forward to—lex Siber
You can download the mixtape here.
Mr. Yote & Yungeth Dre – Frank & Stein [EP]
Left-field artists Mr. Yote and Yungeth Dre joined forces for a spooky new project, Frank & Stein, that thankfully remains listenable even after all the Halloween BS has ended. There’s nothing wrong with listening to gully/grimy/gritty hip-hop during any other time of the year, right? Of course, and that’s just what we have here on this free EP. The beats are dark and sometimes kind of creepy, and the same goes for the raps. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that cats like Yote and Dre would have been a perfect fit on late ’90s/early 2000s labels like Def Jux, but it’s worth repeating here. These guys deserve your attention—Andrew Martin
You can download the EP here.
Hot Sugar – Skeletons [Compilation]
Longtime Potholes favorite Hot Sugar recently teamed up with the folks at BitTorrent to give away a bunch of his material. Basically, his Skeletons project is a collection of the beats he made for rappers and vocalists over the years. So, then, without those vocals and raps, we’re left with just the skeletons, right? Get it? Of course you do, but what you may not get (yet at least) is that Sugar’s instrumentals are better than most and beyond-worthy of your time. Not only that, but you’ll hear a goofball cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” a cut that samples Carly Rae Jepsen’s annoying-as-hell “Call Me, Maybe,” and plenty of other oddities on here that more people need to know about. If you haven’t listened to Hot Sugar before, use this as an introduction and then watch this video of how he makes his beats.—Andrew Martin
You can download the compilation here.