Showing posts with label b. dolan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label b. dolan. Show all posts

Sunday, March 31, 2019

video review: 'this was supposed to be fun' by epic beard men (sage francis & b. dolan)

Okay, and this ruled too - enjoy!

Next up... man, I really want to finish off that Trailing Edge episode for the quarter, but Billie Eilish is right around the corner afterwards, I promise - stay tuned!

album review: 'this was supposed to be fun' by epic beard men (sage francis & b. dolan)

Not going to mince words: this was one of my most hotly anticipated hip-hop projects of 2019.

And if you're familiar with Epic Beard Men from their killer EP Season 1 last year - or hell, from any of the solo projects of Rhode Island MCs Sage Francis or B. Dolan - you'd completely understand why. Hell, I'm a little stunned why there doesn't seem to be more hype within the hip-hop underground: stellar MCs with expressive delivery that helped lay the groundwork of emo rap, delivering a collaborative project off a really strong EP that's sure to be rife with progressive and activist politics in an era where that is more the rage than ever, if there's a moment for this duo to be dropping an album, it's now! And while the EP had primed the pump, I knew that the full album was probably set to solve my minor gripes with that project, giving more room to modulate tone and incorporate a broader subset of acts and production to lend the project diversity. And considering they picked up Slug from Atmosphere, Wu-Tang affiliate Blue Raspberry, and Yugen Blakrok, whose great sophomore project dropped earlier this year, it looked like all the pieces were in place for this to work - so no more wasting time, what did we get from This Was Supposed To Be Fun?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2018

There are years where I struggle with this midyear list, sometimes in years overloaded with quality that force me to make some painful cuts, or years that are a little more scant I'm stuck with what seems like a smaller list... and still have to make painful cuts. 

And thus it feels odd that building this 2018 midyear list is perhaps one of the easiest I've ever assembled, and since I'm not about to assume I'm getting good at this, I'm genuinely curious why that might be. I will say that outside of hip-hop, other genres don't seem to be having an exceptionally strong year - great albums in rock and country and metal but few that really went over the top in terms of quality, and I'd argue pop has had it even worse. But more than that, even the records that just missed the cut - Beach House, Iceage, Parquet Courts, Against All Logic, and especially Phonte - while they were truly terrific releases, I'm not precisely torn up that they had to miss the cut, as they all have a considerable shot for the year-end as my tastes evolve and change. 

So given that this is my fifth list like this, you know the rules: the albums and songs have to have been reviewed in 2018, and while I'm fairly certain you'll all know what's going to top this list, I'll add that there are songs from The Trailing Edge that have a chance to wind up in the individual songs, because there really were some incredible cuts there. So let's not waste any time and start with...

Friday, March 16, 2018

video review: 'season 1' by epic beard men (sage francis & b. dolan)

Yeah, I know I'm late to the punch with this one, but I'm thrilled to cover it all the same - definitely check this one out, you've got no excuse not to!

Next up, let's head towards a country return long in coming - stay tuned!

album review: 'season 1' by epic beard men

It's hard for me to get excited about a lot of mainstream hip-hop these days. Of course that's not saying that it's all bad or that we don't have artists who stand out, but when even Kendrick phones in his verses and the #1 song on the Hot 100 is a Drake song that I still don't think I could remember if I tried, it's not exactly a good situation. And then I see artists like XXXTENTACION and 6ix9ine who feel so damn one-dimensional and I'm left thinking about the artists who paved the lane for emo rap but who could still turn in with aggressive production and bruising wordplay...

And enter Sage Francis and B. Dolan, two Rhode Island MCs known for spoken word poetry, thorny, hard-hitting bars, and the sort of raw, vulnerable subject matter that most MCs would never dare put on wax. Both of these men have made my year-end lists - Sage Francis with Copper Gone and B. Dolan with Kill The Wolf - and considering their long-running friendship and mighty beards, I knew it'd only be a matter of time before we got a team-up of some variety. And yeah, it's just a free eight song EP, but considering it's not much shorter than that upcoming XXXTENTACION album with eighteen songs, I'd prefer to hear from the genuine article in this scene first, even if again I'm a little late to the punch covering it. So all right, what did we get on Season 1?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

video review: 'kill the wolf' by b. dolan

And I'm glad to have this out of my system. Tough review to write, but definitely worth it.

And next... whoo boy, the descent into the abyss... and unfortunately not the Chelsea Wolfe kind, although that's coming too. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

album review: 'kill the wolf' by b. dolan

Let's talk a little about poetry.

Now you'd think this would be a concept that gets discussed more frequently in hip-hop culture, but it's a lot less common than you'd think that you could describe rappers as poets with a straight face. Putting aside the technical considerations - which tend to be fluid with poetry anyway - that label, fairly or not, tends to imply a level of writing sophistication that hip-hop can occasionally fall short of, especially in the mainstream and especially nowadays with the greater focus on production over lyricism.

But if you start digging deep into the underground, you'll actually find a fair few artists who have an established background in a more literary circle, and it shouldn't surprise many people that a few of these poets I'd also identify as some of my favourite rappers, like Dessa or Sage Francis. And if you want to go even deeper, you need to talk about B. Dolan, rapper and spoken word artist from Rhode Island, affiliated with Sage Francis and who broke into the scene in 2008 with the harrowing and absolutely fascinating record The Failure. And for a hip-hop traditionalist, The Failure is far from an easy listen - the beats and production is minimal, much more focused on the words themselves, and when they are there it's abrasive and nasty as hell. And yet the bars themselves earn that harrowing production, an incendiary record targeting politics, religion, and philosophy with naked abandon that chars everyone in its path, including B. Dolan himself.

And thus it's not exactly surprising that his 2010 record Fallen House Sunken City was a slightly more conventional hip-hop record in terms of its construction - still politically charged, still with abrasive and nasty production, still with fiery and intense wordplay... but I dunno, it didn't quite have the same unbelievable moments of visceral intensity that came with songs like 'Kate' and 'Joan Of Arcadia' and 'Skycycle Blues' with the sole exception being the haunting story track of 'Marvin' about the death of Marvin Gaye. Worse still were the elements of conspiracy theory nonsense creeping into his material on tracks like 'The Reptilian Agenda' - yeah, I appreciate the shots at Cheney and Bush as much as anyone, but that Illuminati horseshit is patently ridiculous when a far more dispiriting and honest explanation is that people are lazy, stupid, overwhelmed, or incompetent, stuck in venial sins than grand conspiracies - think The Wire instead of House Of Cards.

But even beyond that, I was in the mood for some hard-edged politics, and right now, rap has all the more reason to get political, so how does Kill The Wolf turn out?