Currently operating out of San Francisco, Texas-born Dominique Leone cites everyone from Claude Debussy to ABBA as his musical influences, and the multi-talented producer/songwriter/singer capitalizes on his classical music background as well. His self-titled debut album is the first for Lindstrøm and Smalltown Supersound's new Strømland Records imprint, and is a collection of intricately arranged pop numbers that appear to utilize every instrument–electronic or otherwise–under the sun. Photo by Jess Halverson.
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Car companies have been incorporating dance music into their commercials for more than a few years, but the Toyota-owned Scion A/V has stepped past those hasty 30 second spots by releasing the music itself. Ghostface Killah lent his "Charlie Brown" track, left off of Fishscale because of licensing issues, to this Scion A/V 12" series, to be remixed by a few hot electro acts. Featured here is the mix from Orgasmic-of Paris-based rap group TTC-who brings some high energy French beats to back the vocals of a legend. Wyatt Williams
Crunc Tesla is another one of those musical Renaissance men who have worked a ridiculous amount of diversity into their careers. He has accomplished everything from founding a record label (Luv Technologies) to making music under many different aliases and touring with names as diverse as Dizzee Rascal and Bright Eyes. He even had a stint with the trombone at one point. His recently released debut album, What's Really Rad, fuses his Atlanta hip-hop roots with B-more bass and electro beats, and features a slew of guest artists.
Glyn Bush has released dub tunes and mixes under a variety of monikers, most notably as Rockers Hi-Fi, though these days he works mostly under the names BiggaBush and Lightning Head. In an effort to keep his different projects under one roof, most everything rocking out of his studio is now released on his own Lion Head Recordings imprint. This Lightning Head track draws heavily from West African music of the mid-70s, not unlike the great Nigeria Special compilations we've been rocking around the office here at XLR8R. Appropriately, "Afro Spot" is named for the legendary night club in Lagos, Nigeria. Wyatt Williams
Jal begins this track with the line "I believe I've survived for a reason/to tell my story, to touch lives." Needless to say, the Sudan-born MC–who served a large chunk of his childhood in a rebel movement known as the Sudan People's Liberation Army–has some heavy topics to impart on his debut album, Warchild. His lyrics touch on the devastating impact of conflict in his homeland, his need to share those experiences, and the lack of responsibility contemporary hip-hop superstars have with regards to being role models. The album's story is, perhaps, not the most easygoing one to tell, but nonetheless an important one to share.
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K'naan, born K'naan Warsame in Mogadishu, Somolia, emigrated to the U.S. in 1991 on the last commercial flight out of his civil-war-torn home. For others, arriving in New York during the early '90s would have made an excellent introduction to a seminal era in rap history, but K'naan already knew how to rap. Listening to CDs sent by to him in Somalia from Stateside members of his family, he learned to imitate New York rap verses and rhythms before he understood a word of English or stepped out of East Africa. Fittingly, his music is informed by a life split between North America and Africa, occasionally taking stylistic cues from Mos Def or Lil Wayne, along with dropping some lyrics in Somali. The Dusty Foot Philosopher, to be released in the U.S. on June 24, features tracks like "What's Hardcore," which offers the violent reality of Somalia as a comparison to the hyperbolic gangster image in American hip-hop. This track, "Struggling," is a melancholy but articulate coming-of-age gem. Wyatt Williams
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