Scattered vocals over electronic bleeps and bips are often the recipe for musical cohesion. Here 8PRN crafts a melodic twister of a beat that comes and goes at a moments notice and always seems to want to float away. It grows and morphs, breaks down and blends with the vocals, by the end they are seemingly one.
Francesca Belcourt is the owner of this voice and she works with this beat like a pro. She sings a verse and then scats an assortment of sounds, all in line with the trickery 8PRN continues to lay down. While probably an affect placed upon her voice in post production, the hollowness present and relative lack of depth to her notes is haunting and bound to keep ringing in your head.
The visuals released for the tune capture their magic together, featuring 8PRN on the mpc like machine and Ms. Belcourt with headphones on singing her song. Sharp cuts and overlays provide a perfect graphic display of how the elements of the song intertwine so well.
Burn One has steadily been creating his own lane with the country rap tunes he crafts and the numerous up and coming artists he places his stamp of approval on. If you are unfamiliar, google the name and take a chance on anything you see he has been involved with. Chances are you won’t be disappointed.
Just in time for A3C his production partners Ricky Fontaine and Walt Live released their debut LP as iNDEED. While the band is credited as Ricky and Walt’s group, the project is really a demonstration of what exactly the 5 Points Music Gang is developing with Burn playing overall producer for the project and Professor laying down the bass lines present.
iNDEEDface is a heavy listen and an incredibly fun one. It’s filled with Ricky’s atmospheric guitar work, Walt’s funky keys and enough layering of it all with samples and other live instruments to keep you intrigued for multiple listens.
First playing the record while cooking breakfast it was an incredible sonic introduction to our time in Atlanta. Crafted in the backyard of a neighborhood not unlike Capitol Hill in Seattle or the Haight in the Bay, these guys create out of a house that feels as though it just breeds these grooves.
While this collective has been tightening up it’s chops together for over a year now, iNDEEDface is definitely the introduction to a larger, evolving sound in line with but deeper than what you might be familiar with from Burn. He told me Pink Floyd was a big influence on the creation of this record and while it’s firmly hiphop funk, if you know anything about what Pink Floyd did in the studio to finish their songs you will hear what he means in the level of detail paid to these extended jams.
Aside from just being instrumentalists, Ricky and Walt are also adept at singing and rapping, or more preferably a mixture of both, depending on how the song called them they say. They aren’t afraid to let their instruments speak for them however, venturing into uncharted territory for hiphop lacing songs with guitar and key solos, breakdowns and build ups that call to mind, well, nothing. After almost two decades a band has finally found a way to merge rap with instruments and not come off like a knock off of the Roots.
They dedicate their lyrics to that which they know. You will hear lots of cause for celebration and after hanging out in the studio with them for a few days it’s clear that their lives are fun filled and easy going just like the music they make. While it’s easy to dismiss raps about girls, drugs and hanging with the homies, the environment from which this music came appeared incredibly organic and honest. They aren’t presenting anything that isn’t them here.
They called in a host of guests, some people you will know if you are familiar with the team, some unknowns but probably not for much longer. Scotty has a tremendous verse on one of the more powerful and thoughtful songs in “Crown Royalty.” If the title calls to mind an old Cody Chesnutt tune wait till you hear how they utilized his work. Rittz is here, as is SL Jones. Richellecornbread pops up multiple times to lend some female vocals to the mix on an assortment of songs, some featuring exclusively her and others seeing her play the background to an emcee.
The title was inspired by the faces people tend to make in the studio in response to the music. Indeed, the music is face-melting fun. While far and away from what you probably expect from Atlanta, all I hear is Lyrnard Skynard mixed with Mannie Fresh. Keep it playing, let it sink in and marinate your mind. Before long you will be screaming yagger and yowzers too.
Southern hiphop will never be looked at the same by me again. After a week in Atlanta it’s clear to me exactly how much a part of the industry the city is and I feel like I have a slight understanding of the culture and community there that embraces this music I’m dedicated my life to learning about and documenting.
Upon my arrival there were two albums from southern-bred artists I downloaded and kept in rotation when at the condo. The first was from Big K.R.I.T.’s partner Big Sant. While K.R.I.T. hasn’t done the most to win me over, his production has always been inspiring and I can’t hate on his memorializing of classic music from the region he calls home.
Sant got the download from me strictly off the fact I was in the south, I didn’t really know what to expect aside from his booming voice I’ve gotten familiar with on previous releases from his partner. Thankfully he doesn’t attempt to rest on the reputation K.R.I.T. may have aided him in developing.
MFxOG is a beautiful mix of southern soul and grit with just the right amount of classic era boom bap to keep those of us who crave a little bit of what NYC delivered with this art form in their music. While K.R.I.T. does pop up here on three beats and one guest verse this is clearly a different individual and props to Big Sant for making sure to present his project as his voice.
Content wise he doesn’t stray too far away from what you might expect. He speaks to the haters often, he brags about how he carries himself and how serious he is in life. His money and grind are treated almost as after thoughts, as if he is so southern it’s just a given that he stays hustling and stacking that paper.
Of course there is the song about his Cadillac. Featuring a very laid back Kickdrums production “Cadillac Music” is the epitome of riding music seeing him flex about just how clean his ride is and his motivations for keeping it that way. This is an album for the whip.
Guests are minimal on this album, allowing Sant to show off his personality and the things that matter to him. He does call in a few favors – it is a rap album after all – and while only a few of the names might be familiar (K.RI.T., Phonte, Jackie Chain) they all handle their business properly.
“TCB” or “Taking Care of Business” sees Sant joined by Chain and Mookie Jones to express how they get their money and what’s going to happen to you if you fuck with said paper. The hook reminds me of a sentiment Shabazz expressed, although in a much more blunt fashion here as they just scream, “Words don’t mean a thing.”
“Rap Nigga” is the posse cut for the project and it’s a powerful jam featuring a dusty beat that feels restrained yet intense. Before the bars start, a voice is heard berating the south and Atlanta specifically. While Sant reps the crooked letter state, it’s a unification thing I suppose and he emerges onto the track proudly proclaiming he “raps nigga.” King Mez, Tito Lopez and Phonte fall through on the track as well, all keeping the lyrical level high and honest, repping for their roots and expressing their love for the “kings” of this hiphop shit. Just cause things move slower down south doesn’t mean they aren’t on the level.
Big Sant may have emerged as a hanger on, riding the coat tails of a larger, affiliated star, but he proves with MFxOG that he isn’t just family put on, he is his own man and crafted an album demonstrative of his skills and dedication to the craft. With the rain and winter fast approaching it’s the perfect record to keep in the ride and cruise too.
All good things must end. Rarely does that ring true for me but this morning it sure feels right. The week has been a whirlwind of adventures as you could probably tell. After the shows ended the environment was definitely different however hiphop never really stops in this city.
On Sunday night only blocks from our condo was an Organized Noize tribute show featuring a whole lot of acts none of us had heard off. Burn One and his crew were in the building however so we decided to go check it out. We arrived in time for a few of the no names who did nothing to make me remember their names and then SL Jones took the stage. If the night before I had been disappointed, here he came correct owning his set beautifully. Scotty took the stage shortly thereafter and had the room turnt up. He premiered a new track as well and I can’t wait to be bumping it.
Monday saw the last of my fellow venturers depart. Time to go it alone. I went north for a lunchtime conversation with Burn cruising well north of the city and seeing a suburb far and removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. He cited this as a big reason for his residency there. We ate at a restaurant he worked as a servers assistant at years ago. We covered some ground and the weekend provided some interesting talking points. Stay tuned.
From deep in the north I drove deep to the south to connect with Will, a young emcee I profiled in the One Time @ Bandcamp days. He runs with the Thumbs Up crew, which also happens to be the name of a highly regarded diner chain here we ate at in the morning. He informed me their was no relation. He took me on a ride around his neighborhood, telling me we were in SWATS, College Park and on Campbellton Road. It was an eye opening ride.
Next up was a video premiere for “All Gold Everything” by Trinidad James. A name that has been buzzing as of late, I’d chosen to ignore his tape. I showed up to a theatre with a massive crowd in front of it. I ran into Fani and Curtis, along with a few other Two9 associates. Inside I saw Ricky Fontaine of iNDEED and he informed me they were backing up James for his set. I didn’t know a performance was on deck.
By 10 pm the theatre was damn near at capacity, easily 300 people. As Trinidad came out he took a seat with Maurice Garland and an interview took place. It was a cool concept and executed perfectly. I was unaware that Trinidad James was about as unknown to myself and the rest of the world as he is to most ATLiens. He reps the south side, but shouted out every hood. He was proud of this nine to five and shouted out his momma. He was honest about his drug use and lack of trap experience.
He rocked a short set and then launched into the video. It was cool to see on a big screen and the crowd’s participation throughout it felt right. As it ended he asked if he could run it back one more time and a tremendous applause was the response. It seemed like Atlanta has a lot of love for him.
After conspiring with Fani and Curtis, it was off to La Fonda – a local Mexican restaurant, for margaritas and “the best queso in town.” It wasn’t bad. In between family like ribbing from all around Curtis and I chatted about Two9, his solo work, the future, shows and deceased friends. We rode out to Reese’s crib to put something in the air and I witnessed NevaBitch rap in person.
As is the theme in the A, late nights and early mornings. My final day here, time to clean. With the condo looking fresh I whipped Curtis to his moms so I could snag a Pass the Ammo tee and then cruised out to Lil’ 5 Points where I had to get a little southern digging in. Scooping a Cal Tjader and Eddie Palmieri record, two Axelrod produced Lou Rawls gems and the deluxe edition of the new Flying Lotus album it felt like a good trip.
I had one final Two9 member to sit down with. Perhaps one of the more unknown members of the team, Alkebulan and I had a great conversation on my last trip down here and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t leave without getting some perspectives from him.
He invited me out to the studio he recently got a job at, it turned out to be a Grand Hustle compound, run by the guys who make up FKi. We took a seat in one lab and discussed his role in the crew (engineer, producer, emcee), his name, his output, the future and his northwest ties. Before I took off he played me a selection of jams off his upcoming work and it only reinforced the every expanding sound Two9 is going to show the world they are capable of delivering.
As I drove back to the condo, I stopped at a park and snapped a few pics of local graffiti. I saw much while out here but was never in a position to document. While none of these were the most mind blowing of work, they reminded me of home and showed off something real to me.
When I think about this trip, all I can think about is how much of the city I covered. I don’t have any kind of grasp of direction here, or where exactly I was but it certainly felt like I traversed to many different sides and zones as they are called. I saw a lot, somethings expected and somethings not. Shouts out to all the artists who allowed me to invade their lives and personal spaces for the past week, it was educational and amazing. Till next Atlanta, keep it ratchet. Keep it turnt.