Hip Hop

Magna Carda

Unless I'm entirely mistaken in my drunk memories of seeing bands in Austin when I wasn't really plannin' on it (you know that happens a lot in this town), I first heard Austin hip-hop group Magna Carda when I was vending used books at the now-defunct but formerly-the-shit goods market the Wonder Sale back in early 2014. I was stashed in a corner of a backyard off Cesar Chavez amongst a fuckton of real ATX folks vending real ATX-made objects right by the table where the sponsored and free Shiner was kept (of three types, though one was that not that great non-bock plain Shiner shit you see here and there). Regardless of my own band-hearin' experiences and whether they are real or entirely dreamed up on 10+ Shiners worth of imagination, Magna Carda is definitely a crew I've seen live at some point, and they're also defintely one that kills it straight dead from the hip-hop perspective. In fact, they just picked up a residency at the sadly soon-to-be-defunct Holy Mountain (Remember when Beauty Bar closing was a bad sign? Yeah, shit is worse now.). They've been releasin' some damn fine hip-hop lately too, like the coolness defining "Banger Jones" that takes some diamond-sharp rapping to instrumentals that kinda sound like somethin' you'd hear in one of those lava-and-ghost Mario levels in a way that is solid all the way from one piece of the production through to the whole rest of the track. Go see a live-produced Austin hip-hop group that's as killer and grassroots as it gets July 9, 16, 23 and 30 at Holy Mountain, a bar that's going the way of the buffalo on October 1, before Austin music just gives the fuck up and moves to California in retaliation.

   

Plato III is the "Only Rapper Alive"

One of the bright young stars of Austin hip-hop has just recently followed up a heavy quality first track (which we liked a lot) with a second, dropping “Only Rapper Alive” a couple weeks ago. Like a pink-hazed dream of a song, “Only Rapper Alive” features some glistening warm production from Eric Dingus, one of the co-owners of Dream Sequence Records and a Texan musician whose tracks regularly pull down 40k+ listens on SoundCloud. Now, metrics don’t make a track good automatically, but that’s tremendously more than most popular groups in Austin ever get. Hell, quick math says the average number of listens on Dingus’ last 10 posts on SoundCloud is exactly 57,212.3, a number that is higher itself than most decently well-known Austin acts get across their entire online catalog.

For a rapper with two tracks out, Plato III is also pulling down both big numbers and big attention himself. This big response from the net is interesting considering Plato’s firm and well-thought-out stance as something different than and a bit critical of most rappers (what a lot of his two existing tracks are about), but really it’s not surprising at all considering his obvious talent for wordplay and musicianship.

A jazzier-affair than career-opener “Natalie Portman,” “Only Rapper Alive” is somewhat of a stream of consciousness style rap, with Plato talking through his own and some other possible perspectives on life and everything from money to fame to strugglin’ to survive to death itself and the afterlife. There’s a lot of info to process in this one, but the gist is that Plato is a deep thinker who sees through the facade of the entertainment industry and the self-absorbed modern life, but who is also not just hating on those things and instead offering a balanced and mature perspective that’s all wrapped up in really pretty, catchy music. And we’re damn into that.

Get on our cultural plane and watch for new Plato III with us at his Facebook here, and put some Austin talent in your ears below.

   

CAPYAC and the Smoothest Music in Austin Right Now

Later this week we've got a piece droppin' on our latest Artist Poll tiers Slooom (that's the "people who tied" kind of tiers btw, not the stacked thingies), talkin' about their drip-beat beautiful new video "Honey," but as a bit of a prelude to that, here's a new track by CAPYAC, the other big project from (the producing half of Slooom) Delwin Steven Campbell along with Eric Peana. This track is called "How I Feel" and it takes that classic and classically reworked "Feeling Good" hook and turns it into silky fun sexfunk glory. That's future sexfunk glory, if you want to get specific about it, and "How I Feel" is an immediate hip-mover with its quick-picked melody and bright organ backbone folding right into a big, hip-hopped, chopped-up song that you do wanna get down to. We've already known that CAPYAC has that true smooth funkdisco thing, like they vampired it right outta the 1977 Bee Gees, and CAPYAC obviously also has their modern elements of beat construction and electronic instrument-use right on point too. However, with "How I Feel" it's just been real good and confirmed- we now also know that, undoubtedly, CAPYAC is making the sexiest, smoothest music in Austin at this moment. Thank you CAPYAC for being so clear in your claiming of the throne. It's nice to have questions settled so easily.

   

NYC drummer Skoota Warner releases sophomore hip hop record 'Vignettes'

Legendary NYC drummer Skoota Warner has played with everyone from Santana to Biz Markee, and “Vignettes” is his second solo album. It features DJ Logic, Hot Tuna, and, in the new single “Still In Love,” the famous freestyle juggernaut C-Rayz Walz. The drumbeat is dusty and raw, the kind any MC would love to slay, and C-Rayz crafts an intimate narrative crammed with brilliant lines like, “Why would I listen to lies. . .when you are the truth that I envision?” The album speaks to Warner’s eclectic tastes and styles. This video will speak to your heart. - BrokeMC

   

Artist of the Month Nominee Highlight: Malik the Rapper, Producer and Video Game Creator

We’ve been waitin’ to post this one y’all. Malik is a rising, top-quality Austin hip-hop artist that we brought you a bit about not too long back, and he’s also a nominee for our Artist of the Month, primarily because he’s on a goddamn high octane productive roll right now.

As part of said roll, Malik has been firing a veritable arsenal of creative endeavors out at the world, so far including the following:

A solid as hell single — “On My Own,” which we profiled in March
A mixtape — The Prerequisite, dropped last month and which has amassed over 6000 listens across its 8 solid tracks in that time on Soundcloud (that’s a big deal, most of the bands we post here barely get that in a year)
A fucking video game — The Chase, a pixelated chaser based on a dream by Malik and out for iOS and Android for absolute free
A soon-to-be dropped music video- “Breakaway,” from the new album and released July 5
An upcoming album — The Principium, primed and ready to be launched at the world on July 12

 

 

It’s rare for a local artist to drop even a couple things at once, much less content at this breakneck rate. I mean, who drops a damn video game as a musician? It’s a pretty simple runner game, but The Chase has a great style of pixelly desert goodness, and it also serves as a way to get an early listen to some of Malik’s music from the upcoming album. Produced with game creator and composer Emily Meo, The Chase is without a doubt one of the most creative and engaging ways to reach an audience that we’ve ever seen from any musician, much less a local one.

When it comes to the music, Malik is riding quite high at the top of the list of up-and-coming local hip-hop artists. His commanding baritone flow and deftness on the wordplay front ride over dynamic production (his own) that creates songs that mesh pop elements and true rap like it’s not a hard thing to do at all (it is). Malik uses his voice as more than just a word-purveyor, turning his bars into a percussive instrument like the best rappers do, but he never neglects the content. Malik also never slacks on making the beats something fun to listen to, as opposed to focusing too much on the words, and the result is track after track of unique sounds and perspectives on life that you just wanna keep listening to.

It’s frustratingly common for a young hip-hop artist’s early work to go too heavy on one single front while neglecting others; maybe the beats or the song structure are killer, but the rapping is weak. Maybe they’re too pop, or, on the other side, too heady or aggressive over a whole album. There can be too much focus on the rapper’s ego and not enough real, quality perspective, or there could be too much of the same sound from one track to the next. In these cases, there’s usually one good track and the rest is a bunch of fluff to fill out an album.

But not with Malik. Malik’s music makes no rookie mistakes. It’s damn enjoyable music from one track through to the rest of the entire mixtape, it’s good from beat to voice to structure, and it presents a picture of a young man who has worked to become an expert at every layer of hip-hop music, and whose shit you like and you want to hear more from. That is as rare as it gets for a young artist, and it’s why we’ve nominated Malik for Artist of the Month (that, and his insane productivity of late).

You can get a listen goin’ on The Prerequisite mixtape below, find his game in the Apple and Android stores, and you can get more Malik in yer ears on July 12 when The Principium drops. You can also vote to the right, if you think Malik deserves some e-recognition for his fine, hard work. Get listenin’ Austin music heads.