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The Biggest Rap Albums of 2015 So Far

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What’s up music lovers?! We are officially one third through the year, and music album releases–particularly in hip hop–have been high in both quantity and quality. The amount of ‘surprise’ drops we’ve seen already has been something special, and it can honestly be hard to sift through it all. That’s why we here at WUD Music have done our best to highlight some of the most prominent releases from 2015, with special commentary on our favorites. The following are listed in order of their release. Let’s dive in.

Rae Sremmurd – SremmLife

I heard “No Type” for the first time in a while last night, and it was glorious. A mood booster in any situation, Mike WiLL Made-It’s beats are designed to turn people up. While the duo known as Rae Sremmurd (‘ear’ and ‘drummers’ backwards)  are new to the bigger stage, don’t be deceived. These guys have an energy unlike many of their older rap colleagues, and this album reflects that energy.

Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$

You can check my review of B4.DA.$$ for Jonk Music by clicking this long ass link here.

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Year after year, Drake earns a bit more of my respect. With his shotgun drop of IYRTITL, he has finally been established in my personal lens as a legitimate hitmaker MC. Right from the opening track, “Legend” Drake uses this mixtape-album-hybrid to showcase the most boastful rap I’ve heard in recent memory. It’s confident, carefree, and chock full of lyrics ready for candid use at social gatherings (not necessarily because they’re appropriate, but because they’re fun to say). If you haven’t told someone you’ve been running through (insert your city of residence here) with your woes, you need to stop sleeping now.

Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise

I don’t really fuck with Big Sean (as he doesn’t fuck with me, apparently), buuuuut he appears to have strung together enough songs to have a notable album in 2015.  Features from Kanye, Drake, and Lil Wayne with production credits from DJ Mustard, Boi 1-da, and Mike WiLL Made-it aren’t too shabby either. I haven’t listened to it too much, so I requisitioned the opinion of a friend for this one:

Sam would also like you to know how game-changing the extended version of “Paradise” is. Sean goes in.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (By Joe McAsey)

Everyone has likely heard about Kendrick Lamar’s new record To Pimp A Butterfly, and that it is already in contention for album of the year. Any review that I can give for it would never be able to do it justice, but I hope to pinpoint at least some of the reasons why it could stand as one of the best hip hop albums of decade.

One aspect of this album that makes it so important is its cultural relevance in terms of lyrical content. With an increasing number of publicized incidents of police violence against black people, race has become a huge topic. Any given song off of the album addresses race in some way. You’ll find that Kendrick has quite a bit to say about race issues in society today.

Another interesting dimension of the record is its place in Kendrick Lamar’s discography. After releasing a classic such as good kid m.A.A.d city, it is nearly impossible to follow up and deliver. The album contains a strong funk influence, which reconnects with the some of the roots of black music and black pride. The genre also places Butterfly in a completely different realm from from his previous record. He does not try to recreate good kid m.A.A.d city, although some of the important themes carry over.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the meaning within the album, but if you have not listened to it much or at all, you need to hear it. Even if you don’t enjoy the music itself, the lyrics say a lot about society today. If you are interested in reading more, you can check out my track breakdown off of the first song on the record “Wesley’s Theory.” This track manages to pack the major themes and metaphor of a “pimped butterfly” in under five minutes.

Thanks to Joey for this contribution. You can check out more of his stuff at Cup O’ Joe Music.

Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful (By Brennan Haelig)

Back in March, gourmet chef-turned-MC Action Bronson released his major label debut LP Mr. Wonderful on Atlantic/Vice Records. After just the first few tracks, it’s clear that Bronson wrote the album as more of a cohesive project rather than focusing on individual tracks, even stating that “I don’t care about individual tracks, I’m trying to create a complete, classic project”. Overall the album favors production from live instruments over computerized beats. With production credits from Mark Ronson (of “Uptown Funk” fame) and Alchemist to Statik Selektah, Mr. Wonderful takes listeners on a journey through a variety of soundscapes. Most of the instrumentals are laced with influence from jazz, funk and blues. The lead single “Baby Blue” (featuring Chance The Rapper) stands out as one of the album’s most intricate tracks. Action Bronson tells a story of love lost, and makes his singing debut on the crooning chorus of the track. The album features various interludes and instrumental sections that add a nice flavor to the LP, seguing seamlessly from track to track. The lyrical content encompasses a lot of the same material we’ve heard from Action before, from lavish adventures to boastful metaphors, sprinkled with a fair share of references to marijuana and gourmet cuisine. The project concludes with “Easy Rider”, Bronsoliño’s bad-boy anthem to debauchery and the rock star life (“who gives a fuck? I’m a sinner”). The track sets the mood perfectly for Mr. Wonderful to “ride the Harley into the sunset”, closing out the album in true Action Bronson fashion.

Props to Brennan for this review. You can find him on Twitter.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt
(by Laura Oberwetter)

2 years after the successful release of “Doris”, Earl Sweatshirt is back with the darkly minimal I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. Doris was by no means the feel good album of the year, but it’s amusing samples and features, quick verses, and lighthearted beats are now almost completely gone. I Don’t Like Shit is a deep, grim motion of poignant maturation for Earl.

The opening track, “Huey”, is as lively as the album gets with its carefree organ and bright sound effects. Following the relatively cheerful “Huey” are songs like “Grief” and “Faucet”, laden with somber and distorted noise; the tempos lumber along so slowly that it feels like these tracks could fall apart at any moment. It’s stripped down, letting Earl and his verses take the front seat before wobbling and wavering melodies. The gloomy, bare music only makes sense paired with the lyrics. Earl Sweatshirt isn’t a “pop that molly” lyricist anymore. He talks about self-medicating to cope with the loss of his grandmother, the shadows of addiction, longing for solidarity while surrounded by people he mistrusts, and the trouble that fame and attention have brought him. It’s intimate, almost to the point of discomfort.

Although it’s a move in a new direction from his past work, this may be a more accurate representation of Earl as an artist. In at interview for NPR’s Microphone Check, Earl Sweatshirt says,“[I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside] is the first thing that I’ve said that I fully stand behind”. It may take fans a couple listens to readjust their vision of Earl’s style, but the honesty and effort put into this album is salient, and likely well received. Some artists can’t pull off a dramatic shift in style; evidently, Earl Sweatshirt is not one of those artists.

Props to Lauren her contribution. She too, is on Twitter.

Tyler, the Creator – Cherry Bomb

Announced soon after fellow Odd Future friend Earl Sweatshirt’s album, Cherry Bomb is the most recent “surprise release” we’ve seen. What’s not a surprise is how Tyler’s sound continues to evolve, slowly shifting from internet rap to heavily jazz-influenced pieces. Tracks like “FIND YOUR WINGS”, “2SEATER”, and “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT” showcase Tyler’s jazzy style, while the album’s self-titled track and “DEATHCAMP” show the rapper can still exude the DGAF attitude he’s been known for. It’s wide-ranging project, so it definitely takes a more open mind to enjoy.

Hope this puts y’all on to some new stuff. By NO means is this a comprehensive list, so if you’re looking for more I would check out Wikipedia. Brennan would have you know that list does not include MOD SUN, and I would have you know it doesn’t include CRASHprez. Until next time, enjoy the Hip Hop.

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WSUM and WUD Music Present: The Podcast E01: Revelry Music and Arts Festival 2015

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Saying it was easy to get a bunch of music geeks together to talk about music for a podcast would be an understatement. So here we are, with a collaboration between WSUM, the official student radio station of UW-Madison, and yours truly. Check out our preview of Revelry Music and Arts Festival below, and let us know what you think!

DISCLAIMER: The following was recorded in March of 2015, before many details regarding Revelry Music and Arts Festival were available to the public. Commentary throughout this episode is meant to provide an analysis of Revelry’s Main Stage lineup. Enjoy!

These 5 Fake Shows Will Change Your Outlook On Live Music

Here at WUD Music, our mission is to produce free live concerts on a weekly basis that showcase quality music by local, regional, and national acts. We even book international acts sometimes (see: Mac Demarco)!

Because of the high volume of shows we put on and the smaller venues we book for, we obviously cannot afford to produce concerts at the level of quality everyone’s favorite superstars would expect. Regardless, it’s still fun to to see how much it would cost to make these fantasies a reality.

The following show fliers represent some of the awesome design work our marketing subcommittee has been up to, as well as what we would have to charge for tickets to these uber-intimate concerts that we would all kill to witness.

1. Lady Gaga 

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Lady Gaga has been more focused on her duets with Tony Bennett for the last year or so, but that doesn’t mean one of her solo productions doesn’t still break the bank. Ticket Price: $3,555

2. Kendrick Lamar w/ ScHoolboy Q

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Speaking of “Break the Bank”, how about we have ScHoolboy Q come to Madison? That would be a dope show, but if he OPENED for Kendrick Lamar?! That show would be beyond lit. With the release of To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick is bound to cost a bit more for live concerts, but I sense that many hip hop heads would be willing to shell out the same amount as a weekend at Lollapalooza for a TDE set in a 500-person venue.
Ticket Price: $295

3. Lana Del Rey

Fake Shows - Lana

A favorite of college students at all campuses, somber pop songstress Lana Del Rey would put on an amazing stripped-down set in Der Rathskeller. Just so long as no one tries to run up on stage and hug her to death first. Ticket Price: $688

4, Mumford and Sons

Fake Mumford

The boys are back together! After a break up/hiatus for the past year or two, Mumford and Sons return to prominence with a new album set to release on May 4th. I guess they couldn’t resist making tons of money, as evidenced by another exorbitant admission price for a nonexistent show. Ticket Price: $1,425

5. Taylor Swift

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Oh man. This show might be the most expensive of the five, but based on her impromptu performance at the SNL 40 afterparty, at least we know she’d be nice enough to make it happen if we could shell out the dough.
Ticket Price: $4170

There you have it. Have a favorite flier? Want to know the price of a different show? Hit us up on Twitter (@WUDMusic). You can check out our REAL list of shows via our Facebook events list. We hope to see you at one of our FREE shows soon!

 

 

 

 

VUD Music Presents: A Vednesday Valentine’s Playlist

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Because alliteration guys! The smells of dating culture are in the air, and ve couldn’t help exercising our poor German accents to make a cool blog post about our collaboration playlist vith The Visconsin Union! Check the Valentine’s Day-themed tracks below, and have a Vonderful Vednesday!

Need more Valentine’s Week Music? Local favorite Ben Ferris is curating a special Valentine’s Day show in The Sett at Union South Saturday night at 5:00 PM. You can check you out the full event info by clicking anywhere on this sentence!

Con Shot First: A Star Wars-Themed Interview With Con Solo

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This SaturdayCATCH WRECK affiliates Con Solo and Coby Aships will be performing live beats to round out the second half of a DJ-centric weekend in Union South. Con Solo, for those that know him on Facebook, also goes by the name ‘Brandeaux Calrissian’. Between his spacey sound, an apparent affinity for Star Wars, and an overall mysterious aura, I decided to invite Solo to answer some questions about his music and to get his opinions on arguably the best film series of all time.

Please state your birth name for the record:

Brandon Le Andrew Washington.

Do you identify more closely with Lando Calrissian or Han Solo?

I’d like to think they’re both two aspects of a singular, baller entity.

A Yin and Yang type-thing, or something else?

Like the sun and the moon, occupying the same space, separately. In a state of calm, I lean towards Calrissian in my attempts to always keep a level head. When I perform, more so in favor of Solo. There’s a necessary bravado, and sometimes you have to shoot first.

What is your favorite film of the series so far?

Empire Strikes Back. Its all about that Dagobah force training montage.

Opinion on the prequel trilogy?

While it doesn’t have the nostalgia factor of the original, they made Samuel L. Jackson a Jedi and that’s really all I ever needed.

I’ve always thought Anakin Skywalker acted like a brooding teenager regardless of his age. Which prequel do you think he was the most brooding in?

Probably gotta say Revenge of the Sith, when he starts to turn and has that emo hood on, running around lightsabering kids. It’s especially prominent in the Duel on Mustafar, where he’s all “I HATE YOU DAD” to Obi Wan Kenobi, before the latter ginsu’d his appendages.

Does Jar Jar Binks get the rap he deserves?

Yo, Jar Jar Binks always seemed like a poorly hidden amalgam of black stereotypes.

I wouldn’t disagree with that. He definitely has the distorted version of a Jamaican/Rastafarian accent going on.

Like, come on Lucas. We live in the future, there’s absolutely no reason to have some jabber-jawed minstrel show alien running around getting into sophomoric antics. They should have let me write his character, he’d have been a straight up bad-ass.

COnSOloSHo

Has Star Wars influenced your music in any way?

In a way, it influenced my life at a young age turning me into a lil’ nerd. That eventually took me from sci-fi nerd to space and physics nerd to audio nerd, so hey I guess that works.

As an audio nerd, do you obsess more over the actual quality of the audio you’re producing, or the sonic aesthetic you want to present?

As an artist, no one wants to put out a half-assed product. That being said, I prioritize mood, emotive resonance, and the overall gestalt of each piece before really sitting down to focus on the mixdown. The main goal, always, is to get everyone else to feel what I’m feeling when they hear it.

What is your thought/work process in regards to creating new instrumentals, and how does that differ from your thoughts while performing a live show?

When I’m composing or producing, its more meditative. Zen-like. Alot of time spent in my own worlds, creating. Performing is a different ballgame. Like warring with myself and everyone else for their focus. There’s alot of improvisation that goes into my set, so it all comes down to keeping the crowd (and myself) on their toes and striking the right spots at the right times.

Is there anything special we can expect from the show this Saturday?

I’ve been working on a large amount of new material since I got back from touring and Los Angeles. I’m hoping to bring alot of what I learned along my travels back home for this one. Coby Ashpis and KidA are both very talented artists in their own fields, so I feel like its gonna be generally stellar.

LIGHTNING ROUND

What’s your opinion on the upcoming film?

Looks both so fresh and so clean-clean.

Jedi or Sith?

Jedi, but New Jedi Order era. Not trying to be all Lawful Good all the time.

What color would your lightsaber be?

Green: Jedi Consular. Straight up ass kickin’ diplomat.

Favorite species of the Star Wars universe?

Bad ass Twi’lek ladies.

Favorite line from the series?

Every instance of sexual tension between Han and Leia, and everything Chewbacca says.

Thanks for your time and insight, Brandon.

Ayyyye, anytime. Should be a good one.

WUD Music’s List of Lists #6: The Spring 2015 Lineup (So Far)

This is Mod Sun. (Photo copyright by Evan Dell)

This is Mod Sun. (Photo copyright by Evan Dell)

We’re just over a week away from free live concerts picking up again at Memorial Union and Union South, and we have a solid bunch of shows we’d like to share with you. Save the dates!

Friday, January 23rd in Memorial Union – Raura w/ Xoe Wise
Friday, January 23rd in Union South – Pat McCurdy
Saturday, January 24th in Memorial Union – The Racing Pulses w/ Busy Living
Saturday, January 24th in Union South – F. Stokes
Friday, January 30th in Memorial Union – Saturday Looks Good To Me
Friday, January 30th in Union South – Chicago Afrobeat Project
Saturday, January 31st in Memorial Union – The Living Statues
Saturday, February 7th in Memorial Union – Barley Jacks
Saturday, February 14th in Memorial Union – White Arrows
Saturday, February 14th in Union South – A Ferris Ferris Ferris Valentine’s Day (featuring music curated by the one and only Ben Ferris)
Friday, February 20th in Memorial Union – TV Girl
Saturday, February 21st in Memorial Union – JMSN
Thursday, February 26th in Union South – Cakes Da Killa
Friday, March 6th in Memorial Union – Lust for Youth
Friday, March 6th in Union South – Sidewalk Chalk w/ Kiernan McMullen
Saturday, March 7th in Union South – Wave Chapelle w/ Charles Grant and Max Meridius
Friday, March 13th in Memorial Union – Mod Sun
Saturday, March 14th in Memorial Union – Jake Armerding
Friday, April 10th in Union South – Foxygen
Shows in Memorial Union will take place in Der Rathskeller, and shows in Union South will take place in The Sett. All showtimes are 9 PM, except for shows in Memorial Union in February, which will be starting at 8 PM (it’s a pet project!).
Hope you like the list so far! We will be announcing more shows periodically throughout the semester, so make sure to check back here, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter! Peace!

 

THIS FRIDAY: Dizzy Wright in Union South – FAQs

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Hey there music lovers! If you haven’t heard yet, we are having a ticketed show to end our Fall semester with a bang. Independent rappers Dizzy Wright and Jarren Benton are coming to Union South THIS FRIDAY, December 5th, and tickets are still on sale!

I’m sure a lot of you have a lot of questions about the show overall, so we’re here to lay everything out for you (in FAQ form), so when all your friends are hearing about this show last minute and grilling you with questions, you will have the inside scoop from us and be the cool friend for knowing what the hell is going down on campus. Without further ado, here are the facts:

I hate reading unless it’s on Facebook. Where else can I find this info?

You can join our Facebook event and find most everything you need to know, but the best tidbits are below!

When is this show? Where is it?

Again, this show is Friday, December 5th. It will be taking place in The Sett in Union South. If you need to utilize Mapquest or another service to find the venue, the address for Union South is 1308 W. Dayton Street, 53715.

Wait a second. WUD Music shows are normally $FREE.99. Why do I have to pay for this one?

While we here at WUD Music strive to fulfill our mission of booking great free music every weekend, on occasion we will book an artist that takes a little more out of our budget than average. Selling tickets for these special shows allow us to present the artist to you for a price that is affordable for both you and us.

So how much are tickets?

Tickets are $15 today through Thursday. The price increases to $18 on Friday (the day of the show).

Am I eligible to purchase a ticket?

Tickets are available for purchase by any and all students in the Madison area with Student ID. UW-Madison, Edgewood College, MATC, Madison Media Institute, you name it. Members of The Wisconsin Union can also purchase tickets.

Awesome, I am eligible! So where can I purchase these tickets?

Tickets are available for purchase at the Memorial Union and Vilas Hall box offices. The MU box office is located in the newly renovated West Wing, and the Vilas box office is attached to VIlas Hall and can be entered on East Campus Mall.

You can also purchase tickets online (with fees) at http://bit.ly/DizzyTix.

Crap. I am not a student, nor am I am Union member. But I REALLY wanted to see this show! What can I do to get in?

Fortunately for you, Mr./Ms. Ineligible, there are ways to attend this show if you are not currently a student or Union Member. You can join The Wisconsin Union here, and become a Union Member today! Trust us, there are more benefits to becoming a member than just this show.

Eligible purchasers are also able to buy up to two tickets, so they can bring a guest (eligible or not) with them to the show!

What the hell? I’m trying to buy tickets online and I can’t print them off! What’s up with that?!

Because of our guidelines for who is allowed to purchase tickets, we have to check for student IDs or Union membership cards regardless of whether you purchase in person or online. All tickets ordered online can be picked up at will call the day of the show.

Where is this “will call” you speak of?

You can pick up will call tickets at the Union South box office, which is near the Daily Scoop on the first floor of the building.

Can I purchase tickets the day of at the Union South box office also?

Yes, you can! Remember though, tickets are $18 day of show, so get your rear in gear and save yourself some money! The Union South box office will be open the day of the show from 5:30PM to 10:00PM.

When is Dizzy Wright ACTUALLY going to go on stage?

The doors to The Sett will open at 8:00PM and the show starts at 9:00PM. Follow us on Twitter, to get these details of set times the night of the show. Hope this helped everyone. Thanks for reading!

Wait! What if I don’t like hip hop and still want to see something cool?

Oh, we’ve got you covered. Vinyl Theatre is showing off their indie pop sound in Der Rathskeller in Memorial Union. The show starts with The Millennium at 9:00PM. Join our Facebook Event here!

Again, thanks for reading, and hopefully this answers all your questions. If you have any additional questions, hit us up on Twitter or the Dizzy Wright Facebook event. Peace.