Thursday, April 12, 2007

Demo Round-Up: Back in Effect


Welcome back to GLmag’s Demo Round-up. Every month we receive loads of promos from artists on all levels of the game. Folks on major labels, large scale indies, regional cats, and bedroom producers. What this feature focuses on are the low key releases from artists who are grinding hard for their careers. Acts who you may have never heard of, but nonetheless deserve attention despite not having big money backing or 6-digit promotional budgets.

This month we’ve got a triple threat selection of homegrown Hip-hop from Yung Mars (Bay Area,) DJ Sid (Miami,) and Pro & Reg (B’more)

Yung Mars
Self Titled
Self Released 2007

The term ‘Live Hip Hop’ took on new meaning when The Roots entered onto the scene, and since then, they’ve unknowingly helped spawn countless groups who fuse live instrumentation and Hip Hop vocals. Some groups get it done right, while others struggle to keep the fusion fused. Yung Mars’ freshman debut falls in the former category. Supported by an impressive roster of musicians including three bassists, two saxophonists, one pianist/Rhodes man, and a vibes player, Mars has deftly assembled an organic Hip Hop group that could easily back Parliament or Roy Ayers. The perfect example being the track “Califunk” with its chugging guitar riff, live drumming, high pitched synth lines, and talk box interludes. “Bailar” sports a Latin-influenced rhythm and a hook sung in Spanish, while “Run with Me” has a Caribbean style beat complete with vibe runs and dancehall hand claps. Lyrically, over the course of the album, Mars’ flow becomes a bit monotonous but that fact is often countered by potent subject matter. Mostly introspective, he touches on sociological and political ills while never getting bogged down with the insurmountable task of living in today’s world. With guest DJ shots from DJ Powder and Teeko (of 4onefunk,) Yung Mars’ debut is worth tracking down even if Leonard Hubbard isn’t on your best-of shortlist.

Pro & Reg
Bricks 2 Bmore EP
Pro & Reg Records 2007

Coming off the success of their “Bricks 2 Bmore” 12inch with its guest shot by Tame One, Pro & Reg have teamed up with DJ Addikt for this EP of 2007-by-way-of-1993 Boom bap. With all but three tracks produced by Reg, the overall sound benefits from this aural cohesion. Although I doubt he would consider himself the best producer on the mic, Reg is far from a slouch. Pro on the other hand is everything his name implies. Honing his skills on the battle circuit, his insistent wit and flawless delivery serve to sell each track’s theme. This is best heard on Pro's solo track “Let’s Go,” a club banger with an unlikely organ accompaniment. One facet of Reg’s production that stands out is his use of samples in conjunction with new school drum sounds, which give his beats an old school feel and a new school bump. As far as lyrical content goes, Bricks 2 Bmore runs the gamut with everything from battle/boast cuts to conscious rap tracks. “Real Ain’t Always Right” satirizes the tall tales spouted off by your average gangsta rapper, while “Old School Rules” finds Pro & Reg deftly exchanging verses enough to make Run DMC jealous. Clocking in at just over 45 minutes and 10 tracks, Bricks 2 Bmore is more like an LP in the 1993 sense, all heaters, and no filler.

DJ Sid the Apocalypse
Buttafly Tunez
Self Released 2007

Nowadays, when anyone mentions the Miami music scene we automatically conjure up images of WMC techno parties, Trick Daddy with his ‘dro in the wind, 2 Live Crew booty shots, and Craze wrecking the wheels of steel. So to say the least, it was a welcome surprise to receive DJ Sid’s recent album, Buttafly Tunez. An all-instrumental, self-produced affair, Buttafly Tunez is more reminiscent of a dubby, Funky Porcini or DJ Cam outing than anything you’d expect from Miami. Tracks like “Jazz Me” and “Lt. Uhura” feature insanely large drums with complex programming to match. “Her Name Was Sparrow” and “Your Eyez” emit a mellow, heartfelt vibe, while “First Contact” sounds like a soundtrack to tumbling forward in space. Towards the end of the disc, Sid ventures into soulful and downtempo house territory, upping the tempo but keeping the chilled vibe on lock. I personally have an affinity for jazzed out, spacey instrumentals, so each of the album’s 19 tracks went down like water. But even for the uninitiated, DJ Sid offers enough sonic variations to keep even the most ADD afflicted individual’s head bobbing.


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