Marcus Moore joins the Breaks this week for a column featuring a beat tape from producer Tone P, new music from yU, a culture-examining project from Wes Felton, and your characteristically ridiculous Yung Gleesh video.
Even More About Nothing
D.C.-based producer, occasional rapper, and frequent Wale collaborator Tone P has amassed an impressive resume since his days as a member of the production team Best Kept Secret. Earlier this week, he released a collection compiled from that career: The Beats About Nothing.
The project features 19 of Tone P’s best instrumentals, including his obvious work with Wale, as well as placements on the MMG compilation albums and a random up-tempo gem from Harlem-bred singer Teyana Taylor.
The Beats About Nothing is unsurprisingly Wale-heavy, so it kind of serves as a look at the evolution of the rapper’s sound. It includes cuts from his most recent release, Festivus, and journeys to the days when “Bait” ignited the club scene. Much to my delight, it includes the brilliant percussion of “Ice Cream Girl,” which gave Wale a little mainstream boost when it appeared in an episode of Entourage back in 2007.
This is also a collection of a portion of Tone P’s body of work. It also feels like a premeditated warning that he has more music up his sleeve. Of course some of it is going to be with Wale, but who knows who else he’s been working with?
Time will tell. Listen to the beats below. —Julian Kimble
Did you see D’Angelo’s Saturday Night Live performance the other night? During a rousing performance of “The Charade,” his background singers wore T-shirts with slogans “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” adorned across their chests. There was a chalk outline on the stage and raised black fists at the song’s conclusion. It was a powerful statement that took place on national TV. It seems the tide is shifting toward the political in popular black music, which opens the door for other musicians to create insightful hip-hop and soul.
Enter Wes Felton, a veteran Northeast MC/singer, who’s long created thought-provoking soul that challenges conventional wisdom. But instead of talking at you, Felton tackles issues while remaining very much in the now. On his impressive new mixtape, Black is Once Again Black, Felton examines black culture as a whole, riffing on its successes and shortcomings while pointing a finger at America at large. He doesn’t waste a moment: “Power to the people, I use that term loosely,” he rhymes on “Resolutions,” the tape’s opening track. “They yelling ‘catch Assata,’ y’all screaming ‘free Boosie’/Brothers getting choked over loosies.”
Of course, Felton takes issue with the culture’s exploitation, but he doesn’t absolve black people who facilitate it. “Incantation On T.V.” examines how reality TV destroys strong black characters: “What in the world are y’all thinkin’/Basketball wives, always drinkin’/This is the shit y’all grown used to?/All females wanna fuck a producer?” In all, Black is Once Again Black is a cleverly orchestrated project that’s one of his best. Stream it below. —Marcus J. Moore
Don’t Be Afraid of Yung Gleesh’s Latest Video
Yung Gleesh’s videos always offer strong images that contend ably with his music. This might do some artists a disservice, but for one as animated as Gleesh, it only strengthens both. “My Dog,” his latest, features the D.C. rapper and his friends with an assortment of weapons. Gleesh’s playful nature keeps the video from being completely menacing, and credit goes to director Will Hoopes for tapping into that balance. (Also, yes, there are dogs present.)
Is it aggressive content? Absolutely, but fear not: no animals (or humans) were harmed during the making of this video. Gleesh will also embark on a 10-city tour which, to little surprise, does not include a D.C. date. —JK
yU and Nottz
What else can be said about yU that hasn’t been said already? He’s an incredibly dope lyricist with an almost unmatched technical gift. He’s a low-key producer whose forthcoming instrumental album, Culture > Couture, should be on your list as one to check out. So any new yU music is always a good look. Below is a new track—produced by Nottz—from Mello Music Group’s forthcoming Persona compilation. On “Homicide,” yU unpacks a tale of deception and violence over a jaunty composition. It breezes by quickly, but is lively enough to keep your attention. —MJM