The Breaks is loaded this week as Marcus J. Moore returns to lend his insight. The end result is everything from Yung Gleesh dancing in a carryout to new music from Gods’Illa and Substantial.
An Active and Generous Week for Wale
With the spotlight on him following the announcement of Festivus, a collaborative project with DJ A-Trak, Wale took advantage of the moment by releasing some new music. On “Miracle On U Street,” he revisits the sounds of his early career as producer Tone P creates an uptempo go-go swing for him to glide over. With random references to Scandal and sports (“It’d be ill-advised to try and fight the homie/When I own the ring, all the titles, and the fuckin’ promotion”), it’s Wale at his most comfortable and efficient. Toward the end of the track, Wale acknowledges that it won’t even be included on Festivus. If his disposable music is this good, it’s a strong hint at the quality of both Festivus and The Album About Nothing. —-Julian Kimble
Diamond District Returns (Again)
After five years of relative silence, the rap trio of Oddisee, Uptown XO, and yU—aka Diamond District—has come back in a big way. In October, the group released March on Washington, its long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s In the Ruff. A month later, yU and producer SlimKat78 dropped People of Today, a soulful assessment of widespread peril and social ills. In 2015, yU plans to drop two LPs: the instrumental Culture > Couture and the solo In the Listener’s Stance. Odd’s finishing a new solo album, The Good Fight, and XO—with longtime producer AB the Pro—will drop EALU (Everybody Ain’t Like Us) in the near future.
This past Tuesday, Diamond District quietly released a new remix album featuring some heavy-hitting producers, including Mello Music Group labelmates Quelle Chris, L’Orange, Apollo Brown, and 14KT. Sonic virtuoso Black Milk remakes March on Washington’s “Ain’t Over” into a rainy Soulquarians number. British composer Paul White, known for his esoteric take on world music, turns “Bonus Flow” into a cavernous stomp of echoed vocals. Not only does the remix LP give more life to March on Washington, but it also pushes the group’s lengthy absence into the background. True listeners stick around if there’s something good to offer. A certain Richmond native taught us that. —Marcus J. Moore
Visto’s On Fleek
I’m kinda old by mainstream standards, so it took me a while to know what “on fleek” even meant. (It means “on point,” right?) While I can’t—won’t—say it in regular conversation, local singer Visto makes it sound pretty damn cool in his new video, “On Fleek Tonight.” On the song, produced by Kid Cannibal, Visto layers a ventilated EDM bounce with vocal modulations. From its all-inclusive video clip to the track’s syrupy ethos, “On Fleek Tonight” evokes warm feelings of peace—which, given recent incidents of police violence against black people, is sorely needed. If you’ve followed Visto for a while, you’re not surprised by the good vibes; he sees everyone as hippies and wants everyone to unite under a smoky cloud of love. If you’re new to the Visto bandwagon, “On Fleek Tonight” is a great introduction, a track that could springboard the singer to national prominence with the right promotion. —MJM
Cornel West Theory
I’ve awakened to overnight Twitter mentions from Tim Hicks, a rapper from the Cornel West Theory, in which he’s sending new music to check out. Sometimes, it’s music that flips Aretha Franklin or portrays mainstream rap as a minstrel show. Other times, it’s a collection of b-sides with one of my favorite rap songs of the year on it. No matter how abrasive, the tracks are always worth a listen and the imagery smacks you in the face. There’s no shortage of real talk on “I’ll Die for this Shit,” a hard-edged new song that challenges the status quo. Featuring soul duo Les Nubians, the crew once again chastises mainstream rap and its players. As usual, Hicks wags the finger at skinny-jeaned MCs, scoffing at them with facepalming condescendence. Not everyone can pull this off, of course, but it works for the Theory, since they can just flat-out rhyme: “Every song is the same shit nowadays/These muh’fuckas done forgot about the slave ships … But y’all wanna party/Don’t you know we at war, and your sister next door is dirt-poor?” Word has it the Theory has completed its forthcoming album. No word yet on the release date. —-MJM
Grown Man Rhymes
There’s a sea change happening: No longer is it OK to spit bullshit for a quick buck. Now, you need to discuss real things, no matter how personal or controversial. That’s the premise driving Gods’Illa and Substantial’s new song, “360 Degrees,” featured on HipNOTT Records’ Bandcamp page. Composed by local production crew the Other Guys, the rappers muse about grown-man happenings atop a methodical soul melody. The beat is enough to evoke deep reflection; Ace, Powerful, Substantial, and Truth cap it with inward-looking judgement. Gods’Illa is putting the finishing touches on its new album. Substantial—with his Bop Alloy collaborator Marcus D.—just released Winter Breaks, a holiday-themed EP. Stream “360 Degrees” below. —MJM
Who Knew Wasabi Could Be So Entertaining?
Much to my delight, Yung Gleesh shot a video for one of my favorites from his most recent mixtape, Cleansides Finest 3. During the Will Hoopes-directed “Wasabi,” Gleesh turns the carryout into a five-star restaurant, the perfect visual for MallDidIt’s off-kilter production. It ends with Gleesh dancing, capping off perhaps his most bizarre and hilarious video to date. —-JK