Here’s a random tune I felt like sharing. It’s one of the sparkling gems unearthed in Flying Lotus‘ completely free collection of odd tracks from 2013, Ideas + Drafts + Loops.
Over a minimalist drum beat sprinkled with glistening harp runs, Flylo (as his rapping alter ego Captain Murphy) trades verses with an up and coming Earl Sweatshirt and the inimitable, eternal MF Doom (as Viktor Vaughn, of course). All the while, Thundercat floats an atmosphere of wordless coos spiked with live wire bass scatting.
It’s a simple, tossed-off creation that feels no less gripping for being a free bonus cut. If you are a Flylo or hiphop fan in general, you owe it to yourself to download the massive and surprisingly cohesive collection of free tunes. Get it here (Mediafire and Sendspace links included). If you’re more into streaming, the whole thing is up on Soundcloud too. Tracks include Shabazz Palaces, The Underachievers, Baths, Niki Randa, and several pieces that will be familiar to players of Grand Theft Auto V.
There’s even a fantastic remix of Kanye West’s Black Skinhead, incorporating a buoyant Thundercat riff and delicate Radiohead sample. It’s definitely better than the original.
You need to hear this fantastic live band cover of Flying Lotus‘ brilliant collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, the incredible Never Catch Me.
The band is absolutely on point; every player nails his or her part, from the pair of alto saxophonists to the trio of backup singers. Special mention should go to the drummer and keyboardist for really adding that swing. While the rapper is no Kendrick (and no one else is), he pours his heart into the rapid-fire delivery of the song, nailing the cadence and approaching the breathless energy of the original.
Thanks to a tweet earlier today, the whole world gets to enjoy this sublime take on an instant classic song from last year’s incredible You’re Dead. I feel like I haven’t heard a cover version this good in years. These guys show a ton of potential, and I’ll be following their moves in the future.
Who is Kamasi Washington? He’s the guy who made all of the fantastic sax sounds that you loved on both recent (and brilliant) Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar releases. Albums You’re Dead and To Pimp A Butterfly would feel utterly lacking without Washington’s input; his freewheeling tones form the sharp jazz edge cutting through both masterpieces.
This 14 minute tune is but a small piece of the upcoming, appropriately-titled debut album The Epic – it looks to be a sprawling, three hour affair aiming to throw down the gauntlet for modern jazz. In a genre valued for innovation and stratospheric ambition, the traditional live jazz band has been laying in stasis for a couple decades now. Real innovation has come from beyond left field, from electronic artists playing with jazz forms and ideals while never really touching the live band setup. Washington could change that perception.
As Flying Lotus himself put it, “everybody is trying to do the same shit. I don’t want to hear ‘My Favorite Things’ anymore.”
As a hardcore fan of the genre myself, I couldn’t put it any more plainly. This tune, along with a new exclusive song featured on Revive (I hope to have a copy streaming here soon) have jumpstarted my hopes for a new generation of the kind of wildly psychedelic, expansive, weird jazz that sits near and dear to my heart. Fans of later John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and especially Pharoah Sanders are highly encouraged to listen right now.
One last thing: Washington has been featured on this site before, as part of the Miguel Atwood-Ferguson ensemble. The band included Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Rebekah Raff, and Chris “Daddy” Dave, some of the best jazz musicians alive today. Their live take on Drips//Take Notice is one of the greatest live jazz performances recorded in the past few decades, if that’s any indication of this man’s talent.
Kendrick Lamar‘s new album, To Pimp A Butterfly, is out by surprise a full week ahead of time. It’s for sale digitally and streaming in full on Spotify. Click play below. Right now.
I’m sick. I woke up today too ill to even go to work. But then this happened. I’m feeling a bit elevated right now.
I don’t have anything too meaningful to say yet. Here’s a couple comments I made with friends during my first and only listen:
- I don’t care about what anyone else has to say on the first day of an album like this, that’s going to have a lot of discussion flying around. I like to hear it “pure” as can be, I suppose. So uh, after 2 tracks I’ll just say that I’m really enjoying this, and the dark swirl of production tics is reminding me of D’Angelo’s latest (Best of 2014 album by the way), in a really positive way. Old and new sounds mixing for something vintage but not dated sounding, maybe?
- Almost at the end. Loving the thick jazz sound. Not quite jazz-hop in that Digable Planets way, it does remind me of their masterpiece Blowout Comb in a very slight way… which is a good thing since that’s a top 10 album of the 90s for me.
There’s no need for a lot of discussion the moment something as important as this hits our collective ears. Just listen and absorb it. We’ll talk later.
Second listen observations: thinking that this evokes the warm but gritty production of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, the sprawling, psychedelic structure of Shabazz Palaces‘ Les Majesty, and the free jazz embrace of Flying Lotus‘ You’re Dead. It’s no coincidence that all of these featured on my Best of 2014 list. I’m linking it again for emphasis – if you like this, there’s a lot of fun music streaming on that page. This album is hitting me with a deep and immediate connection.
This is a list of seriously amazing music. The best albums released in 2014, no shit. You probably haven’t heard of some of these artists. That’s okay. That’s awesome, in fact. Most of it’s off the beaten path, and it’d be a shame if that’s the only reason you never heard it. My biggest pleasure with this blog is hearing from friends who discovered something that’s become absolutely essential in their lives. I treasure that feeling and only hope to spread it. Enrich your life. Be adventurous, try out some of the music streaming on this page! It’s free right now and you’re definitely not doing anything better!
I know this is late in the sense that most people publish their lists before the year is done, but I couldn’t care less about being first in judging an entire year’s worth of beautiful music. I’d always rather be finished than first.
Every piece of music on this list deserves attention. You’ll probably love some and hate others, because that’s how taste works.
See the Best of 2014 Honorable Mention list for the greatest albums that didn’t quite make the final cut!
[Note: excepting the ABSOLUTE FAVORITES section, these albums are listed in the order I heard them.]
This is a glowing gem known only to those who have burrowed deep enough into the inimitable catalog of jazz legend Alice Coltrane.
“Divine music is the sound of true life, wisdom, and bliss. This music transcends geographical boundaries, language barriers, age factors; and whether educated or uneducated, it reaches deep into the heart and soul, sacred and holy…” – Alice Coltrane
I’m seeing two children hop out of their caskets at a funeral and dance, running for the door. They’re grinning as they look back. I’m grinning as I watch. This is one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced in a while, and it’s the best music video I’ve seen in years.
My heart is full and I’m beaming. This is the definition of life affirming cinema. Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison) and director Hiro Murai have rendered the joy of life on a grand scale, as only those who have lost it may experience.