Monday, 21 November 2011

Hollow Pigeons - Birthdays [2011]

Artist: Hollow Pigeons
Album: Birthdays
Label: n/a

Hollow pigeons is the moniker of Ryan de la Cruz, a prodigious beatsmith hailing from Toronto. Building on the successes of his first EP, Letters to Kiko (2011), Birthdays mixes the reverb-washed sounds of dream pop with skittering hip-hop beats, amidst other influences, some more prominent than others.

Birthdays is full of the nostalgic sounds of youth; all of the sights, sounds and smells condensed into a four-track EP. The whole listening process itself is not at all unlike looking back at the days spent in the playground at school and at house-parties getting drunk for the first time. All of these memories fade into a haze, just as Hollow Pigeons' beats have already begun drowning in the swampy depths of the brain. Any sense of these events as temporal and spatial go straight out of the window and are replaced by only the thin glossy film that envelopes them.

In this way, Birthdays is this film that is impenetrably wrapped around the body of our memories, any omitted memories simply filled in by reverb, giving a pleasantly ethereal sheen to the days of our youth and washing over the moments we'd rather forget. But anyway, a birthday should be about celebration! And there's plenty of that here. The joyous "You(th)", probably my favourite track from the record, sounds so gloriously happy that the beats sound like a train almost ready to shake itself off its tracks, the vocal sample dances around unable to help itself from playfully pitch-shifting around the place while the hi-hat fades and pans like it's running in circles around the room. Meanwhile, "Lullabye" shows a completely different side to Hollow Pigeons, without unsticking itself from the cohesion that the EP displays; it is the soundtrack to running outside into the snow naked, lying on the grass on a cool summer night getting bitten by midges or swimming in a river in the spring darkness. It doesn't get much more euphoric than this.


1) 1996
2) You(th)
3) More Affection
4) Lullabye


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Curren$y - Pilot Talk [2010]

Artist: Curren$y
Album: Pilot Talk
Label: DD172

While I'd bet that a lot of this blog's followers have already heard this record, I feel it's almost my duty to enlighten those who haven't yet been blessed by the sounds of this hip-hop masterpiece. I like to think that I'm a person who doesn't just carelessly throw words around, and I genuinely do think that this is one of the most solid and cohesive examples of a great hip-hop record that I've ever heard. Every aspect of the record works incredibly well; Curren$y's rhymes are simply unparalleled by any other MC, while Ski Beatz offers up some of the freshest, crispest beats one could ever hope to hear. If you can listen to the first three tracks of Pilot Talk and deny that they form one of the strongest openings to any album, then you are on a very different page to me musically.

I suppose the first point to talk about with any hip-hop record is the lyrical prowess of the MC behind the project and Curren$y consistently delivers pure quality on Pilot Talk. One of the most interesting aspects of Curren$y's lyrical style is his unique use of phrases and expressions that can only really be understood after hearing several of his mixtapes. From unusual observational expressions of everyday things to really abstract metaphors, Curren$y effortlessly creates a dictionary of his own, personal language (or "Pilot Talk") that reveal new details and meanings on every listen. Subtle humour is also peppered throughout Pilot Talk, and Curren$y's delivery alone has often had me laughing out loud at his understated wit and, at times, bombastic sense of humour. While there is a plethora of examples that I could give of Curren$y's best lines, there are so many highlights that it would be more productive to get your teeth into Pilot Talk (and ideally his other mixtapes) as soon as possible to unravel the complexity of the Jet lingo.

During his already long career, Curren$y has been involved with a number of labels, most notably Master P's No Limits and Lil' Wayne's Young Money and during this time he has spitted over a variety of beats. Having heard this record first and subsequently delving further into his history, it really hit me that Curren$y's partnership with Ski Beatz on the Pilot Talk series (the third installment being in the pipeline at this time) is as close to perfect as I have heard in a producer-MC relationship. Ski backs Curren$y with smooth and polished beats, which range from the huge brass sounds of "The Day" to the heavy-hitting steel drums of "Audio Dope II" and the stadium-sized riffs of "Example", Ski offers variety while managing to keep a certain languid quality throughout, making Pilot Talk a really cohesive effort.

To finish, some words from the Hot Spitta himself:

"Tearing through the city, snatching bitches, top of the building, King Kong ain't got shit on me."

Jets... Fool.


1) Example
2) Audio Dope II
3) King Kong
4) Seat Change (featuring Snoop Dogg)
5) Breakfast
6) Roasted (featuring Trademark & Young Roddy)
7) Skybourne (featuring Smoke DZA & Big K.R.I.T.)
8) The Hangover (featuring Mikey Rocks)
9) The Day (featuring Mos Def & Jay Electronica)
10) Prioritize (featuring Nesby Phips)
11) Chilled Coughee (featuring Devin the Dude)
12) Address (featuring Stalley)
13) Life Under the Scope