FEED YOUR BRAIN

by Mike Vinti

Flying Lotus, alongside Shabbaz Palaces and Thundercat, released their first single on Monday of new project WOKE. Featuring George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic, it’s a typically psyched out, funk laden cut, overflowing with strange samples and squelching synth lines.

Since the release of You’re Dead! last October, Flying Lotus’s profile has been growing. No longer merely the preserve of open-minded hip hop heads, he’s broken out to become a critical darling and gained lucrative mass appeal, having produced tracks on Kendrick Lamar’s latest LP To Pimp a Butterfly. Flying Lotus is also the founder, and head of, record label Brainfeeder, a collective of musicians from around the world specialising in experimental electronic music and hip hop, with a heavy jazz influence.

Brainfeeder has provided a home not just for Flying Lotus’ pet projects such as WOKE, but for some of the most challenging and boundary pushing artists currently recording. As its founder’s profile grows and grows, now is the perfect time to explore some of the other artists on its roster and their releases over the years.Continue Reading

HOW SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT MISOGYNY IN RAP?

by Mike Vinti

Between Spotify releasing data showing that hip hop is the most widely listened to genre of music, and the imminent release of Straight Outta Compton: The Movie, rap has been in the news a lot recently. With the spotlight firmly on Dr. Dre & Co., and in light of a fantastic article for Gawker by journalist and MC Dee Barnes, detailing the abuse she faced from the former NWA member and how women were excluded from the movie, questions have begun to be asked about the treatment of women in hip hop.

In many ways these questions are long overdue. As with many other genres, women have been all but erased from the popular narrative of hip hop’s history, and many rappers still use misogynistic language today. The latter of these is the most frequent, and most generalised, complaint levelled against hip hop and rap, and has been since the genre reached mainstream popularity. Continue Reading

THE WHITE BOY’S GUIDE TO GANGSTA RAP

by Mike Vinti

Since its inception gangsta rap has been a thorn in the side of the establishment. Brash, violent and loud, its explosion in the late 80s and 90s tore up the rule book of hip hop and reshaped the genre in its own image, introducing the world to the harsh reality of life on the streets of black America. With the cinematic release of ‘Straight Outta Compton’ a week away (August 15th) it only seems fitting to look back at some of gangster rap’s greatest and explore its legacy thirty years on.

Gangsta rap is hip hop’s bratty younger brother, fed on the social conscious rhymes of early hip hop but filled with the anger of a generation excluded from the yuppie party of the eighties.  Like punk before it, its church is broad, ranging from the smooth, sun-drenched rhythms of G-Funk, to the hard edged, sample heavy boom bap of Wu Tang Clan. Frequently criticised by those on the left and the right for glorifying violence and misogyny, scapegoated for the prevalence of crime in black communities, and beloved to many a hip hop head, the story of gangsta rap is the story of poverty in America, as relevant to this day as it was back in ’86.Continue Reading