Tag Archives: hip hop

Obnox Return with a Niggative Approach

Obnox, Niggative Approach (5/30/2017, 12XU)

Obnox is the musical alter ego of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lamont ‘Bim’ Thomas (pictured).  Having released five long-players under this moniker in the last 3 years, the word ‘prolific’ seems apt.  I must admit that new release, Niggative Approach, is the first one I’ve fully sat down with – and now I’m both damn glad I did and in a hurry to dig deeper into the earlier material.

The title might be a wink and a bow to Detroit hardcore godheads Negative Approach (whose singer, John Brannon, makes an appearance on the album’s intro and outro), but the album is far too diverse, dense and interesting to damn with the faint praise of a hyphenated ‘punk’ or other descriptor.  Frankly, there’s so much going on in this record, it can be giddily overwhelming.  Jazz, psych, garage, soul, blues, punk, funk, r&b, hip hop, Beastie Boys, Funkadelic, Rudy Ray Moore, Kid Congo, D’Angelo, Shabazz Palaces, Sun Ra, War, Curtis Mayfield, MF Doom, sky high riffs, heavy funk bass, kick drum grooves, eye of newt and a partridge in a motherfuckin’ pear tree – all this and more await across the album’s 14 tracks (excluding intro-/outro).

I found it best to just strap in, give in, and let it all wash over me, repeated listens bearing ever sweeter fruit.  The spy theme raga of “You”.  The hot, humid synth feel of “Hardcore Matinee”.  The wide lapel groove of “”Beauty Like the Night”.  The diamond amidst the rough of the beautiful “Carmen, I Love You”.  Exhale.

Niggative Approach is out now, on 12XU.  Monitor M. Thomas’ (social media) movements on fbook and the twitt.  No tour dates as yet, but here’s hoping.

Highlights include: “Audio Rot”; “Afro Muffin”; “Carmen, I Love You”; “You”; “Niggative Approach”; “Beauty Like the Night”.

Frank Moka Shares a Hook with a Message on “Nation Time”

Frank Moka, “Nation Time” (self-released)

Frank Moka is a Dallas-based percussionist who, as a member of The Funky Knuckles, has played with artists like Erykah Badu and Stanley Clarke.  His new track, “Nation Time”, is a tight blending of hook with message; groove with theory.  Starting off like the feel good hit of the summer, its glistening, sunny piano chords and straight, snappy rhythm making you wish you had that cabriolet, the lyrics kick in and demand your attention – “now you got your shit together/what are you gonna do?” the opening question/salvo.  While the song continues to feel airy and light, weighty topics abound:  race, (comm)unity, police brutality, misogyny – the message is woven, and it’s impossible to ignore the pattern.  With a title that seems to reference Amiri Baraka and/or Joe McPhee (I don’t know if it is intentional), this should maybe not be surprising.

On his SoundCloud page, Moka describes the song as “a Hip Hop/Pop track with a very powerful message”, and he is being understated.  Along with other new artists like Jamila Woods, Frank Moka shows that songs with undeniable hooks need not also be vapid.  Points can be made while the groove moves you – open the windows, drop the top, and spread the word.  In addition to SoundCloud, you can follow Frank Moka on fbook and the twitt.  Here’s hoping for more from him soon.

New Music: Jamila Woods, Heavn

Jamila Woods “Heavn” (Closed Sessions)

Jamila Woods is a Chicago-based poet, educator, playwright, and community activist.  As if that weren’t enough, she’s also a singer possessed of an airy, languid voice that is the centerpiece of a fantastic new track, called “Heavn”.

Woods enters cooing modified lyrics from The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, calling for a “trick” that “makes you love someone”; that “makes the winters warm”.  The response is a paean to the joy of lasting love, free of (and in the face of) societal constructs and restrictions.  Taking a hand, Woods leads a dynastic journey to a past where “great-great-great-great-great-great” grandparents “didn’t need a ring or a broom” to make their love eternal, the refrain “I don’t want to run away with you/I want to live our life right, here” providing comfort.

The track is a welcome throwback to the early days of the so-called ‘neo-soul’ movement, at the intersection of spoken word and hip hop.  “Heavn” glides along a looped, propulsive tribe vibe instrumental sampled from The Roots’ Dilla Joints cut, “Eve”, the mix reminding me of personal favorites like Ambersunshower, touching down via a prolonged outro.  Transportive.

“Heavn” looks to be the title track of Wood’s forthcoming, debut record on Closed Sessions.  Can’t wait to hear more of this.  You can do the following thing on fbook, her site, and SoundCloud.