Friday, February 17, 2012

Electric Relaxation: What I'm Listening To

It's been a while since let's bring back Electric Relaxation to hip you to what I'm listening to.

M83 “Midnight City”

I stumbled on this song by accident, thanks to Lupe Fiasco’s last mixtape. Lupe created a song that not only was a perfect ending calling for justice and shouting out Occupy Wall Street, but gave you optimism that change could happen if we seek it. I had to hear the original just to make sure, I got the same feeling.

I’m a fan of big sounding songs and electro music that captures a grand feeling like MGMT “Electric Feel” or LCD Soundsystem “Dance Yrself Clean”. I loved this song right away and I still can’t get enough. Anthony Gonzalez was inspired to make this song being in Los Angeles and I totally could imagine hearing this song driving down the streets late at night.

It sounds like pure energy and when you hear Gonzalez’ haunting vocals, it lulls you into a sense of calm before the music just overwhelms you. And what’s better than a sax solo? Something straight out of the 80’s yet it doesn’t feel cheesy. It just makes you feel good.

This quickly became one of my favorite songs of 2011 right before the gun (similar to how Dance Yrself Clean became one of my 2010 faves in the last month) and it’s still a fave in 2012 as folks catch up. I'm so glad 

(I did listen to Hurry Up, I’m Dreaming yesterday. It’s gonna take a few more listens cause on first glance, it didn’t have enough oomph and was too dream-like and indie without the groove. Funny thing is Gonzalez wanted that).

B.O.B. “Play the Guitar” f. Andre 3000

First time I heard this, I was curious to hear how B.O.B. would sound since he said he was going back to rapping harder, not the poppier stuff on his debut album. Well I don’t know because I was too busy replaying Andre’s verse.

The song gets high marks for sampling Bo Diddley’s classic self-titled track with his famous beats. It’s natural that Bobby Ray and 3 Stacks would fit on here since both play the guitar and have the light-hearted flows to match it.

B.O.B. does have some ill lines and his usual razor sharp cadence fits the beat perfectly without being overwhelmed. But this all about Andre stealing the show, no surprise. The minute he starts his verse, he runs away with the track literally with lines, double entendres and good advice to show why he’s “Silverback Stacks” – going gorillas and killing this beat.

Every time I hear this, I feel like dancing a jig and covering my face at what Bobby and Dre did on this. So far, it’s my favorite hip hop track of 2012 and shouts to Salaam Remi doing wonders on the beat.

The Fray “Heartbeat”

Full disclosure, I’m not a big fan of the Fray’s lighthearted music. I wasn’t fond of “How to Save a Life” or “Over My Head” cause it sounded like Coldplay-lite yet they did do an amazing cover of Kanye’s “Heartless” that I thought captured the soul and bleakness Kanye hinted at.

But this song got my attention. Maybe it’s the driving music that sounds more rock-oriented than the piano-driven earlier music. Maybe it’s the repeating of “You gotta love somebody, love them all the same.” It didn’t sound like The Fray I remember and I like it.

If their latest album is more of a rocking direction like this, I can dig it. Plus the lead singer said this song was inspired by his time in Africa and meeting somebody who survived the Rwandan genocide. It’s powerful and that urgency comes across in him singing this.

Kendrick Lamar “Cartoons and Cereal” f. Gunplay

I’m a Kendrick fan and dude deserves his own space on here to explain his greatness. If you haven’t heard Section.80, you’re missing out big time. We’re already moving on to his latest gem right here.

This song could’ve been a B-Side on that album cause it fits with his themes of criticizing modern society and how the youth are being suckered into it.  Over a spaced-out beat, Kendrick’s preaching some truth about waking up to reality while reliving memories watching cartoons – something I can relate to in my former life.

“Things we will never learn soon. In this era where we wanna earn soon, That’s an error, you can smell it in the air and everybody’s doomed”

Gunplay also has a powerful, soul-bearing 3rd verse that I’ve come to expect and gladly appreciate from a Southern rapper. If Kendrick is Andre 3000 on this beat (in terms of being spaced out), Gunplay brings it home with talking about living the street life but not glamorizing it.

It’s an excellent song and Kendrick’s hot streak isn’t cooling off.

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