Crystal Castles – Amnesty (I)
If you thought the absence of former vocalist Alice Glass would have a profound effect on Crystal Castles, think again. While positioned as the face of the band (if you’ve seen her live you’ll understand why), producer Ethan Kath has always been the mastermind behind Crystal Castles. With Glass now gone and replaced by Edith Frances, this new version of the electronic outfit continues to push the boundaries of hard-hitting electronic soundscapes on fourth album Amnesty (I).
Across the 12 tracks on Amnesty, Kath continues to incorporate creepy industrial themed electronica with dark, experimental synth-pop, crafting an interesting and at times harsh take on electronic music. Enth is a blistering bass pounding fantasy, Teach Her How To Hunt a torrent of static and washed out vocals, and Concrete a nightmarish rave of screeching vocals and in-your-face electronica. Of course it’s not always an assault on your senses. Kath has always been great at balancing his fevered dark productions with pop influenced singles on previous albums, and Amnesty is no different.
First single Frail has all the hall marks of an underground club hit, with house production intertwined with brooding synths and new vocalist Frances’ hypnotic delivery. Sounding similar to Glass, albeit with a more innocent tone, Frances gives tracks like Kept and the trippy Ornament a familiar feel while injecting her own personality into the music.
Amnesty builds on the legacy of what Kath and Glass started, and if Frances’ is just as animated when on stage as Glass was, then there’s no reason why Crystal Castles can’t keep on being a great act.
Verdict: Quality release.
Master P – The G Mixtape
For the young ones out there, Master P might not be a familiar name, but throughout the late 90s and into the early 00s, the rapping entrepreneur and his No Limit Records label ruled the American hip-hop airwaves. While he’s been off rap’s radar for a number of years, that’s all about to change. The Southern rap legend has been working on a No Limit Records biopic (a la Straight Outta Compton) and looking to recapture his glory years with the release of The G Mixtape.
If you’re a P fan then this mixtape will satisfy all your needs. The always engaging performer enlists an eclectic lineup of producers and guest rappers for 25 tracks of Southern hip-hop beats infused with P’s signature storytelling and catchy hooks. Of the big names present, Rick Ross keeps things gangster on Like I’m 23, Lil Wayne gives a decent account of himself on Money & Power, E-40 continues his recent run of great guest features on No Stoppin’ and The Game makes an appearance on the funky 70s Heaven For A G and street tale Real. P’s No Limit Boys – comprising Moe Roy, Ace B, J. Slugg and Blaq n Mild – a collection of young up-and-coming rappers P is hoping will help rebuild his No Limit empire with, feature on numerous tracks, the best being Made It Out. Of all the features, it’s hard to go past the remix of Usher‘s No Limit. While Young Thug’s verse is unfortunately dropped, to make up for that we get new rhymes from Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, A$AP Ferg, Travi$ Scott and P, making it a contender for the most unusual collection of rappers on a remix you’ll hear all year.
P only contributes five solo tracks to the tape, although they’re all classic P, with the Ice Cream Man dropping rhymes about things such as his career (Too Legit), fake friends and haters (Business) and his status in the game (Can’t Count Us Out) over typical tap beats. Listening to The G Mixtape you’d think P was still one of the most popular rappers around particular the chemistry he has with many of today’s new stars. If anything, this tape proves his credentials and is a great way to introduce himself to a new legion of rap fans.
Verdict: Uhh… Master P is back!
Kur & Dave East – Born Broke, Die Rich
Philly rapper Kur and Harlem’s very own Dave East have teamed up for surprise EP Born Broke, Die Rich. The five track project finds both young MCs on point as they rap about the streets and life on the grind over a variety of beats provided by Buda And Grandz, Dougie, Infamous Rell and Maaly Raw.
Opener Got It finds the two exchanging bars about how real both MCs are over a catchy beat and is followed by the sparse production of Raw’s No Trust, with the hook, “I don’t trust not one of ya’ll,” rapped like mantra the two abide by. Themes of struggling and making it out of poverty and the ghetto are present throughout Born Broke, Die Rich, with Kur and East rapping about escaping the streets on soulful Fallen and brooding Came Up. The final track of the EP is the aggressive Flexing, another track about the hood, with Kur claiming, “Love my hood and I still be in the hood.”
Not having heard much of Kur before listening to this tape, I have to say I’m impressed with his lyricism, and it’s nice to hear someone come out of Philly who isn’t named Meek Mill. As for East, he continues to prove why he’s part of the future of New York hip-hop.
Verdict: Great introduction too two awesome talents.