L'Orange has slowly been making a name for himself over the last few years with a series of releases, most notably The Mad Writer, which featured smoky-soul, J Dilla indebted beats. Aside from occasional guest-spots, they remained largely instrumental affairs. The few guest spots he did have included MCs like Has-Lo and Blue, who made perfect sense to spit over his dusky beats. When I heard he was making an album with Jeremiah Jae, I was taken aback. Jae, whose debut album I discussed here, made albums with quasi-industrial, manic beats. Think Death Grips on Quaaludes, only good. So, when I first listened to The Night Took Us In Like Family, I had no idea exactly how to gauge my expectations. How did it work out? Rather excellently, I'm pleased to report.



L'Orange handled all of the production, and Jae's syrupy drawl of a delivery turns out to be a perfect counterpoint for his style of production. It also helps that L'Orange seemed to take a few cues from Jae, adding slight hints of weirdness to each track. The end result is a grimy album filled with vivid imagery, one the draws you in closer with each listen. The album itself is a concept album, a gangster noir-tale told in five parts, using samples from old gangster films to fill in the details. "Do My Best To Carry On" sets the tone for the album, with its boom-bap indebted beats that are warped and twisted into something else completely, old samples sounding like they're coming from some dusty phonograph layered and woven throughout. The L'Orange dirty soul comes out in full-force on "Underworld", with a piano-driven beat carried along by a warped sample of a chipmunk-voiced female lounge singer adding a haunting quality to the song.



The songs also venture into some dark territory, which is to be expected from an album telling this type of story, with the funeral-dirge beat of "The Concrete Some Call Home" and "Kind of Like Life" being the two most prominent examples. There are also jazz-indebted tracks like "I Was Invisible Nothing" and grimy gangsta beats like "Kicking Glass" to keep the entire affair from ever becoming redundant.



There are only two guest-spots, leaving almost the entirety of the rapping duty to Jae. This works in favor of the album because Jae is a very capable rapper, and it helps make the story being told all the more engrossing. The two times the reins are handed to someone else are on "All I Need" (featuring Gift of Gab) and what could have been the album highlight, "Ignore the Man To Your Right", which features Homeboy Sandman. However, the album highlight is the penultimate "Starry-Eyed Balcony Walkers", with horns and organs giving the track a cocky, menacing tone. It's a huge track, and as of this writing my current favorite hip-hop song of 2015. It also helps draw the story to a perfect close. I won't tell you how it ends, as it's well worth taking the time to listen and get wrapped up in the world it creates. While you're at it, you'll be treating yourself to one of the finest hip-hop releases of the year.

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(Note: this is a review I had written for this album when it came out. Next week I will be reviewing a new album by L'Orange and Jeremiah Jae, so I decided to put this up as a precursor)



Experiments, no matter how well intentioned, don't always end well. In fact, sometimes when they don't work, they end in disaster. While the stakes in experimenting with music obviously don't carry the weight of life-or-death, they can end/derail a career very quickly. I'm sure Chris Cornell had nothing but good intentions when he was making Scream, which was the definition of "disaster". The shadow of that album hung over him for years, even up to today. So it takes a brave soul to push limits as much as Jeremiah Jae does on his debut album, Raw Money Raps. Moving from Chicago to LA and signing to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label (after the two became friends online a half decade ago) certainly helps his chances of success, since Brainfeeder is a typically outside-the-box label as is, but even by those standards this album is really out there. However, Jae is a legit talent, and for the most part the experiments work.



The album makes its statement right from the opening track, "Guns Go Off". With a chugging, twitchy beat produced by Jae (who did a majority of the production on the album), the vocals sound like they're drowning in the beat. This is a common thing on the album, and something that works both for and against it. Jae's lyrics are abstract--and very good--but the beat suffocates them on a lot of tracks. This invites two things, which bring us back to the "work for and against" part. One is frustration, and the other is curiosity. Frustration due to not being able to easily make out what he's saying a lot of time, and curiosity because it makes you want to hear what he's saying, which leads to closer listening, and this is an album that requires it in many ways. It's an album that begs to be heard through a good pair of headphones.



All of this isn't to say that Jae doesn't show that he's adept at creating more common-sounding hip-hop at certain points. Tracks like "Greetings", "Money And Food" (which takes large swipes at radio hip-hop), as well as two album highlights--"Seasons" and "Cat Fight", play it slightly safer. The former still lowers the vocals, but the structure of the beat is more accessible. I've seen other reviews bag on "Cat Fight" (which was produced by Lotus himself) as being too much like Madlib, but I fail to see how that's a detriment. Using chipmunk-distorted soul samples, it's easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.



Obviously, his technique doesn't always work. But aside from one track, "Guerilla (Evolution Pt. 1)", they're all interesting enough to keep your attention for multiple listens. Essentially, they're the kind of tracks that could be skip-able depending on the kind of mood you're in when you hear them. Either way, it's an album that deserves to be heard, especially by fans of weird hip-hop. And while it definitely isn't going to be an album for everyone, to those it is for it's quite a revelation, and one that gives a lot of excitement as to where Jae can go from here.

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There's this overwhelming idea in art--and especially in music--that once someone reaches a certain age they begin to fall off, creatively. That once you reach a certain age, it's time to hang it up, or risk embarrassing yourself. Now obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. I don't think anyone is going to suggest that Tom Waits, for example, needs to step away from the piano and give it a rest. But in hip-hop, these examples barely exist. It's unfortunate that in a genre that was defined by its innovators, some of whom got their starts at a time when hip-hop was considered nothing more than a flash in the pan like disco, with no lasting power, that it seems that after a short shelf-life rappers are expected to be put out to pasture. The Roots have somehow avoided this trap, however, and they've done so by having one of the most consistent discographies in hip-hop.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, "Well, yeah, but what do The Roots have to do with this?". Well, the Money Making Jam Boys is a super-group of sorts, and one of the members is none other than Black Thought. It also features fellow Philadelphians (and frequent Roots collaborators) Truck North and Dice Raw, as well as Sugar Tongue Slim, Peedi Crakk and P.O.R.N. And after 20+ years of making music, even Roots side-projects have that intensity and creativity that has helped keep them relevant after all this time.

The tape comes out swinging with "500 Horses", featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff (!). The song is a small departure from The Roots sound, with a beat that sounds like something prime-era RZA might have made. Everyone spits their bars as though they have something to lose, and not that this is a throwaway project done for fun, which is the way the entire album feels. "Tear it Down" moves back into familiar-sounding Roots territory, which is obviously not a bad thing.

Stylistically, the album tries a lot of different sounds. There's the aforementioned RZA style. some Roots comfort food, some New York boom-bap (Day Job, Look Funny), and more in this tape. It's a mixtape in the truest sense of the word. It lends it’s production points to long time Roots producers, Khari Mateen, DJ Bear One, Questlove, Frank Knuckles and a few others. The album is divided into to two projects. Hard hitting rap classics and party anthems to keep you moving your feet.

The larger problem at hand when a project like MMJB is simple, it’s too much to dense lyrical content to consume in a simple listen through. Each song features the ensemble cast intentionally looking to out rap, out write and out style eachother on wax. The end result is rap lyric fans dream of potent quotables and bad mother fucking things to quote. “We play hard, we stay high, we work hard, never say die. We kill everything never say why. Don’t fuck with us n***a keep your day job.” © STS. from Day Job.

One might think, naw Icy, this project isn’t that tough. But, you’d be wrong. Each song is a new nugget of punch you in the mouth aggression all while wearing Lanvin sneakers, because with Money Making Jam it’s a magical affair of verbal pugilism. An affair that will leave you senseless and gasping for air to process what you just heard. No dumbed down antics, no chance for you Cornball rappers spitting all those stale raps and Dice Raw sounded like a Hellcat.

The focus on the project is each emcee gets 3 attempts to get their best bars off, if you make the grade you make the grade. Even Peedi Crakk remains this, lyrical genius, you can’t see him but he can see the Venus. Crakk can see the future, and for you, nothing changes. For you that might be strange but for them, it's how it goes. It's relentless lyrical murder from Black Thought who has 500 Horses in his Panamera Porsche and he’s lyrical sharp shooter like he in the US Armed Forces. The Jam Boys are set to turn you sons into orphans. If there is one word to describe this project it would be Relentless.

By the end of this relentless lyrical assault, you are sweaty, confused, filled with the fear that you are an inferior emcee. That your lyrics will never produce a Yacht that comes with a car. Yet you find yourself grateful that you took this verbal ass whooping from the finest Emcee’s that came from the land of Illadelph the land where the killers dwell. How does one even stand a chance? It’s simple, stay sleep while the Jam Boy Magic does their dirt and find yourself whimpering until you find your new day job. Because these International Playboys came to lay down the law, and you stand no chance to resurface again. Quality material never fades, gets old or is ever too late to discover the beauty of a piece.

#StayIcy


Editor side note. This project review could easily go on for 30 pages. The fact that this video has less than 4,000 views 4 years after it's launch lets me know, ya'll like staying schleeeep. Do yourself and your ear drums a favor. Listen to this project and stop bothering Black Thought about a solo project. Ya'll slept on this, why should we give you another mattress to do back flips on? This was co-written by written by Eric and Icy Mike. He's an animal on founding this overlooked series. Sugar Tongue Slim drops his project with RJD2 on May 5th. You can buy it on iTunes. Truck North & DJ Bear One Drop #BlackDaniels this upcoming May. Truck North will also be releasing a few in the next couple of months.

We have come to the point in the year where we transition our wardrobes from coats and scarves to jackets, shorts and shades. Summer is that you? Not yet, well at least we can spring forward into come cooler clothing. Since you've already rid your closet of unneeded items and donated them(click here to learn more), its time to put that empty space to use. Yes you can get a refill, but how about we shop local this time around.  Some may think, shop local, i do that all the time, who travels to shop "insert Kanye shrug". Shopping local is supporting the local and independent retailers and boutiques in your respective city. In Chicago, there is a grand opportunity to put your dollars right back into your city. But it is really deeper than that. Choosing to shop ouside the malls, the big box stores, you have the opportunity to find unique pieces for your wardrobe. Thats right! You're going to be unique. That blazer that everyone has,;it'll be everyone but you because you chose to by that vintage blazer for half the price. It's actually pretty awesome. You create a bold new look, while supporting those who were bold enough to take an idea into reality. Lets take a look at a few shops in Chicago who are doing it right.

J Toor is located inside the 900 N Shops building housing Bloomingdales and there well known retailers. What makes J Toor standout is that it is a Chicago based brand offering gentleman bespoke clothing options. In a time when much of fashion trends are very Itailian and Japanese driven, J Toor offers a collection that is American and English inspired. For the discerning gentleman, a fitting session with one the stylist here is a must. 

Haberdash is another destination for the gentleman who wants a complete wardrobe.  Haberdash has been a stable in Chicago menswear since 2005. The company now has 3 locations, offering ready to wear or off the rack items along with a dedicated store for bespoke clothing. Its about classic style when you walk through the doors. Here you will find classic brands and clothing and accessories from the new brands making bold moves.  Haberdash is proud to bring you many American made brands like New Balance, Shinola, Baldwin Denim and Allen Edmonds. No matter how you classify your style, there's no doubt that you can find unique items to add to your closet. 



Originally housed in the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago, Leaders set up shop in River North and has been a powerhouse in Chicago Fashion for years. Leaders is the go to store, for what some deem "urban" fashion. The fact is this: Leaders is for the people., all people. You can spot anyone from high schoolers to the family man sporting  Leaders clothing. Its often a stop for entertainers to come and grab something uniquely Chicago. From the latest sneakers to coveted signature hoodies and hats, with an item out of this store, your style shows who is leading and not following the masses. 

 Over the years, thrifting has become all the rage. The good people over at Market Supply in Pilsen have essentially curated an eclectic collection of vintage items for resale. From vintage sneakers to classic Filson and Levi products, Market Supply is your stop to gain a signature piece for any season. 


What happens when you classic menswear merges with urban street style? You get Sir & Madame. This store encompasses  a unique collection of vintage and contemporary inspired clothing. You can always be sure to find out some of the newest styles inside Sir & Madame. Sir & Madame also offers a branded collection. Often in limited availability, everything from tees, hoodies and jackets become coveted items in the store and definitely must buys. The store will sometimes host pop up  shops to showcase new releases for clothing brands.   

Face it, it would be nice to have a walk-in closet full of clothes. There's something to be said about having options. On the other hand, it's been said, quality over quantity. At Independence you will definitely find quality pieces to add to your wardrobe. Featuring American made items, Independence is all about classic pieces that you can wear for years. Housed in the same location is Oak Street Boot Makers. Based in Chicago for over 20 years, these boots are designed in house and yes made in America. Liberate yourself from simply buying tons of clothing that may not stand the test of time. Head over to Independence and make the investment to choose quality. 

The Silver Room has the goods. The Silver Room is infamous for selling locally and independent made items.  At any given time you can find a selection of clothing, shoes and bags.  The jewelry is where its at. Items for all and accessories that are trully one of a kind. With a recent relocation to the Hyde Park neighborhood, it will be interesting to see what else the Silver Room has in store for the new location.

The great thing about shopping with independent businesses, is that they are extremely hands on with their company and really have all the answers to the questions you're dying to ask. Whats trending this season? Can I wear brown shoes with a black suit? When is a pair of skinny jeans, too skinny. Shopping local becomes shopping with the experts. These are the people who are passionate about what they do, and meticulous about what they offer to their clientele. When you spend your hard earned money, don't you want to feel like its going somewhere well deserved? 
So, now that you know where to go, its time to go shopping. Will you continue to follow the pack or will you stand out and make a statement? Gianni Versace stated " Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live." 

Tag you fashion and style finds with the hashtag #flairBlvd . You'll be able to see where people are heading for their wardrobe refits and even get inspiration for your various #ootd "outfits of the day".

Happy style hunting. 



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Join me as I leave my Mark on food, fashion and more at MarkMyWords-Chi.com 


Trackstar the DJ (of Run the Jewels) and longtime cohort Feekee (AKA Wafeek) present #NeonBlack from their new project Animals. #NeonBlack is the first visual endeavor from Animals and offers a heavy dose of comedic relief, cynicism, and high-speed lyricism balanced by an Office Space motif. If Animals is all about putting your friends in a position to prosper then #NeonBlack is all about taking advantage of that opportunity. It's about more than shining a light on the unseen, it's about showcasing that light shining within.
Animals fully releases on Wednesday, April 29th.



Editor side note. Wafeek has been putting out material for years and took some time off from rapping to life.
Stay Icy


Something you should know about myself is that I am a consumer of fine things, albeit food, cigars, clothing and especially music. I can't always keep up with detailed reviews about all the ins and outs of all of these songs and or videos. However I recognize that their needs to be some context to some of this amazing material that is constantly being released.

Many of these artists are repeats on this page, also if you were completely unaware I have been working in the music industry for quite some time and it can appear that I show absolute favoritism. In which you would be correct, I favor dope material. The cover photo is Peter Cottontale whom is the keyboard synth rabbit wizard of Chance The Rappers band call The SOX. They happen to be exceptionally talented group of people.

Having been a contributor for this site for over a year now, I have been able to watch the audience grow as well as the people that have been featured grow. I too have become increasingly more busy now that I am managing Roots Crew Affiliate member Truck North. This has been a wonderful journey of growth and rise in this industry. As always I specialize in showcasing next up and on the rise talent and sometimes people I know in real life and want to promote.

Call it favoritism, call it insider trading, call it what you want, just know you can call all this #IcyApproved and do your homework, I've been working with greatness for years.
#StayIcyMyFriends

Follow Icy Mike on Instagram to see all that happenings of a young nerd in the City Of Wind.
















Is it April already? Well it is time to spring forward and embrace the sunshine, the milder temperatures, and let go of the many layers of clothes holding us hostage over the winter. What will we do with those extra layers? Some of us will pack them up while others will simply find a way to see what we can rid from our closets. While some will take to the nearest trash can, I encourage you to donate your unwanted clothes (choose any of the places listed here). Its always in season to pay it forward to someone who might be in need. 

There might be those reading who are quite fine with the size of their wardrobe. Then you might be in the wonderful position to give something even more valuable: time. Many people donate their money, others give their unneeded or underused valuables to charity. There is a great opportunity to show up and show out, where all you need to do is be present.  Volunteering often only requires you to be available for a set amount of hours; training or simple instruction is usually given upon arrival. So where do you start? You can search online for opportunities or even head to many of the volunteer databases like Volunteer Match and One Brick . Below you can find a few noteworthy organizations, some of which I contributed to.  

Donating and volunteering is not just giving back , but it is often an investment into the future of someone else. Open Books is opening doors and minds to children and adults alike. Open Books is a literacy program servicing  children across Chicago. What do they do: Open Book goes into the schools for 1 on1 mentoring with students. The program also invites students to their home office for literary field trips. On the field trips, students get hands experience writing poetry ad short stories. How can you get involved? Open Books has a small staff, so volunteers like you and me are quite essential. Volunteers are trained to work with students at their respective schools or those who come to the Open Book campus. If timing doesn't allow you volunteer with the children, don't worry, there are other ways to get involved. The heart of Open Books are their book stores. Donated new and used books are sold to the public and all proceeds are used to fund the program. There are numerous ways to get involved so check out their website here. Open Books is just one of numerous programs set up with a focus on children. Cabrini Connections, a program originally rooted in the Cabrini Green housing development has been running since 1992. The program's goal is to help students succeed in high school and continue that success into college. The program is always looking for mentors who have the time to pair with teens. Take a look at their website to learn more about Cabrini Connections.


Food drives are a popular way to get an  entire community, school, or team involved with volunteering. The Chicago Food Depository is a non profit that many are aware of. They are not alone in their fight against hunger. #HashtagLunchBag, has literally taken the streets by storm. Hashtag  began in Los Angeles in 2012 and using the power and influence of social media, Hashtag has inspired people all over the country to band together and provide meals for those in needs.  How do they do it?  It's really quite simple. Organizers announce the staging ground over social media and the people (you), come to gather for meal prep. Once food is bagged and ready, volunteers hit the streets and hand out lunch bags to those on the streets and at shelters.   For those unable to make it to the staging or delivery portion, you can make a monetary donation to help with the purchase of food. To see if your city is involved, just check out the website.  There are groups that not only serve those in need but also educate them. Check out the following organizations: Inspiration Kitchen, Common Threads, Purple Asparagus, and Share our Strength. All of these organizations are focused on educating children and adults on how to prepare healthy meals while also supporting the fight against hunger in needed neighborhoods.

Remember, you're doing something that will help others, but your service can also benefit you. Many companies encourage worker to participate in outreach. Talk to your manager or HR department about company sponsored activities. Some companies also will compensate you with "hours worked" on your timecard. If you're donating money or goods, your contribution can also be tax deductible. 

You don't have to rely on existing organizations and groups to facilitate outreach. All it takes is time, a few people and a desire to help. It is amazing what just a few people with big hearts can accomplish. Organizations like The Simple Good started with just three people and has grown to a encompass a full network of supporters. It's not hard to believe that many of the groups mentioned above started out simply with the desire to  of one or a few people wanting to do good in their respective communities. You can create the resources or contribute to existing programs. Most importantly than how is that you just do!

Have an event or volunteer opportunity coming up? Participating in outreach activities? Just want to share your favorite non profit organization or volunteer service? Tag  and Share it with everyone using the hashtag #DoGoodChi.

Inspired yet? Then GO DO GOOD!

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The Legendary Roots Crew affiliate Truck North and longtime collaborator G.O.L.D DJ/Producer Bear-One leak "Black Amsterdam" the first release off their new project as Black Daniels! Both of Money Making Jam Boys fame drop this unapologetically Philly Rap Noir single. As Truck says, "they won't know whether you jumped or you got pushed" Black Daniels is here to assault your audible sensibilities.

Bear One gives us this super aggressive opening as a sonic kick to the ear drums and senses to let you know what you are getting yourself into. Truck North delivers a noir prose of Rising Down essence, angry, yet refined rage filled with raw aggression borderline contempt. This is the opening sequence to this lush black and white sonic art album. Black Daniels is slated to be launched later this Spring.


#StayIcy


You'd be correct in assuming that a hip-hop project from Portishead's Geoff Barrow would be nothing if not ambitious. But just look at the track listing on this album. That's right, there are forty-one tracks. There are thirty-five guest spots, not including the two producers besides Barrow involved. And the whole thing can be listened to in just under seventy minutes. Now, let's talk about ambition. While admirable, ambition doesn't always equal success. And when it doesn't land properly, it can have embarrassing results. Luckily, Barrow has been making music long enough to harness ambition and make it work, and it's never been as evident as it is on this album.



Enlisting the help of Stone Throw's Peanut Butter Wolf, Barrow enlisted the help of MCs of various styles and abilities. Some are old-school veterans (Dead Prez), some are modern MCs with a lot of clout (Guilty Simpson), and some are artists most people have never heard of (M.E.D.). All of them bring their A-game when it's their time to shine. Since the songs here clock in at around two minutes (and quite a few at just over a minute), most only get a few bars to make their mark, but they really step up when it's their turn. Look at opening single "Fitta Happier", in which Guilty Simpson and MED each get one verse to spit, and take full advantage of their limited time. Over the Arizona marching band covering "The National Anthem" by Radiohead, they do justice to the incredible sample, and come together to create one of my favorite hype-tracks in recent years, all without an actual chorus. In fact, most tracks don't have a hook of any kind. And yet the album is a breeze to listen to. It's almost 70 minutes of people straight-up rapping.



The album itself, with its scattershot, all-over-the-map style (due to both the various MCs and the production itself), almost comes across as a really great mixtape more than an actual album, but the quality of the tracks help keep it feeling like an actual piece of music. Influences vary, from the grimy Alchemist-style tracks like "Big Cat", "Jobless", and "The Turk". Some RZA-like, scarred soul-samples, as heard in "There It Is" and "I Like To Dance", to the Prince Paul funk of "What Chew Want" and others. That isn't to say the album itself if overly-derivative. Again, with 41 tracks, there's plenty of room for songs that have their own distinct sound and style, and there are many to be found in the mix.



The sad thing is, with the talent involved, this album should have been huge. Stone's Throw's fanbase is large and rabid, and with Barrow's involvement it had huge crossover potential with the indie rock heads who would otherwise never have given it a second glance. And it's such a high quality album. Yet, for some reason, it came and went quietly. I doubt we'll see another project under the Quakers' name, but I remain hopeful. And if you're reading this and haven't heard it, give it a listen, and give it the attention it's so deserving of.

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This review is a little late being that this album came out in late 2014 but better late than never. Being a rapper coming from a city like Chicago is hard enough, your inevitably going to be compared to some pretty big names such as Common, Twista, Rhyme Fest, Lupe Fiasco and of course Kanye; even if you have a style all your own. This is probably the biggest disservice that could be done to most up and coming rappers, now add being a Self proclaimed "Hella shy" 20 year old to the mix and you'll get an Idea of what rapper Saba is going through.

If you don't know who Saba is let me give you a quick run down. He's a 20 year old rapper from the west side of Chicago. He's been called  one of "the cities rising stars to look out for" by the Chicago Tribune. Comfort zone is his sophomore mixtape, Saba explained how being shy and quiet was holding him back and this album is his way of not only stepping out of that comfort zone but is also what Saba himself described on "the interview show" as a way to get things off of his chest. You can really feel that with songs like 401k, united center and (my peronal favorite) Scum. You get one of the most descriptive and in depth views of the struggles of many youths today trying to make due with what they have for the future.
 At the beginning of this review I mentioned how comparing artists can be a disservice but I feel like I have to at least mention Chief keef and I'm not the only one; Saba gives Sosa a quick nodd in 'Scum'. They come from the same city (Saba from the Westside and keef from the Southside) and there close to the same age (Keef is 19 and Saba is 20) but the similarities might just end there. With rhymes from 'Macaroni time' like "I see 1s and 5s in your bankroll right now But unh-unh you ain't flexin' boy you need some exercise..." and "Couple bucks for these bitches, let me slap them on they ass..." keef seems like he isn't struggling like he once was. Saba has a different approach to his style with lyrics like "For a fortune we'll change, can't afford to eat with change, real pain our tummy growlin', they money pilin', my mommy poutin" we can still feel his hunger to make it and reach the top though it would be much easier to try and be a carbon clone of Chief Keef. One style isn't better or worse than the other in my opinion they're just different. In fact that's what makes this mixtape so good, Saba embraces how different his perspective is. In time zone he just flat out says it "Cause I never wanted to be like them". Saba speaks more on seeing people like Keef and how he always had the option to act that way. He said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune how other rappers may talk about "drug deals or something like that...." but his raps are "a front porch kind of perspective."
"


 Saba has an ease with his lyrics that make you question his age . He's aware opeople receive it as shown in 'westside bound' when he says "Drop a tape and they lovin' it, It's in my genes my blood denim". He really got me with "Animal beats so I Dr. Doolittle them My pseudonym is GYM I stay working it out Killing the fear and the doubt". With lines like this I can definitely say we hope he keeps on "working it out" if he's putting quality this out nf his skill and how ow who knows what kind of gems he'll be spitting at 25.


 The quick references to burnout the video games, cat dog and Mace Windu were great and played well to my nostalgia of an early 2000s childhood. These one liners are easily missed in otherwise heavy content but never feel forced or out of place. That with some very soulful yet uptempo beats and a comprehensive range of flows make this mixtape a really easy listen. The number one selling point for this is that it's totally free on Saba website. Why wouldn't you download this project is beyond me. The mixtape is available now at /http://www.sabapivot.com/ for free and let me know your thoughts down in the comments.

Editor notes from Icy. David Castillo is our newest member to the Star Pulse family, he is an avid Foodie, music connoisseur, and all around good gent. This Saba project has been a favorite of mine for almost a year. I want to show that it does not matter if you are first or next to last to a review, but more that a project like this is a Chicago Classic. No hype, no gas, this project is great from start to finish. Saba is the complete Alternative Rapper and the next up out of Chicago's damn near endless amount of talent. Seeing that today is election day in Chicago, go vote for Saba!

Steamed Snow Crab with Old Bay and Drawn Butter.

Think of your favorite food.
I’ll bet it doesn’t involve a fork and knife.
Barbecue baby back ribs, fried chicken, chicken wings, a juicy burger, pizza. These are all meant to be consumed with your hands; the way God intended. Conveniently, the above named dishes are ones you want to get in your face as quickly as possible. Why bring cutlery into it? I believe that eating food in this manner brings you closer to it, literally and figuratively. Also, they are incidentally foods you eat with friends and family. You wouldn’t order chicken wings on a first date. Maybe you would, but you’d be an idiot. You’re gonna get messy and you’re gonna look stupid. That’s why you put down a whole mess of ribs with your buddies while you hook down cheap beer, your faces all slathered with sauce, your buddy Chase laughing with meat in his teeth and nobody letting him know, because who gives a fuck? Today we’re going to cook another great fork-less, group oriented dish: steamed crab.
What you’ll need:
-today’s newspaper
-1/4 lb. salted butter
-2 lemons, quartered
-Old Bay
-lobster crackers
-5 gallon stock pot
-1 cup water
-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
-3 lbs. snow crab clusters


I’ve always enjoyed eating crab. Like most shellfish, it’s naturally sweet, and when cooked properly, very juicy. Growing up a Southerner, however, I wasn’t made aware of Old Bay seasoning until I got to hang out in Maryland and eat crab with those folks. They lay brown paper over long picnic tables, set out apple cider vinegar and drawn butter for dipping, then dump bushels of whole steamed blue crab right onto the table and everyone just digs in. Even though the crabs themselves are already SMOTHERED in Old Bay during the steaming process, several containers of the stuff always make their way to the table. Now I never cook crab without it.
Obviously, this will be on a much smaller scale, but the same cooking technique will be applied. Most grocery stores, especially in central parts of the country, will carry previously frozen crab legs. While fresh product is always superior, these crabs are flash frozen, ensuring they’re damn near as fresh when thawed later as they were when they came out of the water. However, you never know how long they’ve been sitting in the seafood case at your local market. Most companies like Whole Foods and Fresh Market are very responsible in their handling and selling of shellfish, as they’re well aware of the dangers of consuming bad seafood. Just to be safe, talk to the fishmonger. Has it been frozen? If so, how many days has it been thawed? If the clusters look brown and dried out, don’t go for them. If they smell exceptionally fishy, that’s a deal breaker as well.


This is such a simple, speedy dish to cook that you’ll want to have everything laid out before you even start the crab. If the weather is warm, simply set the butter in two ramekins or small bowls on the porch for an hour to melt. If you’re more pressed for time, place them in the microwave, covered in wax paper (you do not want exploding butter) and cook for 45 seconds. Cut your lemons. Instead of cutting them in traditional quarters the way you would to serve with iced tea, slice the ends off, then cut around the center where the seeds live, much like you’d cut an apple. Cover your dinner table with newspaper. This makes cleanup a fucking breeze, which is what you’ll want after you’ve stuffed yourself with crab and butter and hopefully several beers, you goddamned glutton. All you gotta do is roll it up when you’re finished. Set a bowl of butter near each end of the table. Dump small mounds of Old Bay on the table next to each diner’s place, along with a lobster cracker. Scatter the lemon slices around the table. In the stock pot, combine the water and apple cider vinegar and place on a burner on high heat. Rinse the crab of any ice or debris. When the contents of the pot is boiling, place the crab legs, one cluster at a time, in the pot and cover liberally with Old Bay. Once all of the clusters are in the pot, cover with a lid and set a six minute kitchen timer. Now is the time to tell everyone to grab something cold to drink and sit down. When the timer goes off, carry the pot to the table, minding not to burn your Aunt Jean on the head, that is unless she’s hassling you about finishing your English degree, in which case, just give her a good scald and act like it was an accident. Using tongs, pull the clusters of goodness out of the pot and place them on the table.
Be selfish, you’ll wish there was more when it’s gone. 

As always follow Chef Kurt on Instagram.
Thanks to The Honest Thief for the photos!


Due to the fact it was released in such close proximity to the cultural sensation of 2015, To Pimp a Butterfly, as well as the fact that Sony apparently botched the roll-out he had planned, Earl Sweatshirt's I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside arrived with less fanfare than expected. In many ways, though, this fact fits perfectly with the album itself, which is so deeply personal it at times feels like it was created for Earl and only Earl, as a way to cleanse his own soul. It also happens to be his most mature release to date.

The main complaint that I've heard about this album is that it's too bleak, too down. That it sounds like Earl can't even be bothered to be there. And the first thing that came to mind upon hearing this complaint was...Sufjan Stevens. Now, before you close this review and write me off as crazy, let me explain. Stevens' most recent album is called Carrie & Lowell, and it deals with the recent death of his mother, whom he barely had in his life while she was alive (side note: it's also a totally stunning album and I can't recommend it highly enough). It's a sparse, tender album, and sonically it's a radical departure from his previous album, the sprawling electro-folk freak-out The Age of Adz. And I heard similar complaints upon the release of the first single. That it was a step backwards, that people missed the bombasity of Adz. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, when asked about the choice to go so small for this album, Stevens explained "This is not my art project; this is my life.". And that's exactly how I hear to I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside when I listen to it.



Earl himself has stated that this is his first release he himself is totally behind, so the argument that he sounds like he doesn't want to be there doesn't hold water. This is an album about depression and sadness, and albums that come from a place like this can manifest themselves in many ways. If you listened to Pinkerton and didn't pay attention to the lyrics, you'd would have no idea you were listening to something that is absolutely, uncomfortably personal, and assume it was simply a fun, upbeat album. Sometimes they come out that way, and sometimes they come out like I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, an album in which you would make no mistakes that what you were hearing came from a bad and dark place.

The album opens somewhat innocuously, with the most "upbeat" track on the album, "Huey". It's also one of the shortest, and from there things don't come easy. "Mantra" follows, setting the tone for the rest of the album. The beats on this album are gorgeous, though all of them sound very scant, very desolate. Sonically, it sounds like they're coming from some sort of underwater place, as though the beats themselves are drowning. Anyone who's dealt with the feelings associated with depression will understand why this was a fitting choice, aesthetically. Even the first single from the album is called "Grief", and it opens with the line "Good grief, I've been reaping what I sow". Despite his anger at the rollout, which seemed to stem more from the fact Sony didn't seem bothered by their screw-up, I don't think Earl was concerned with sales.



The album also threads the needle perfectly between EARL and Doris, sounding like a weird combination of the two, while still feeling like the next logical step to take artistically after Doris. The beats themselves are like a hybrid of the two albums, and the lyrical bleakness harkens back to EARL, only instead of depending on shock-tactics to convey this, he instead relies on the maturity he was finding lyrically on Doris. It tackles his depression head-on, and at no point does it come across as simple navel-gazing, it's all brutally honest. Earl is sad, still haunted by the death of his grandmother, and he depends on Xanex and alcohol to cope. None of this makes for an easy listen, but it is a rewarding one.



For only having 10 tracks and clocking in at 30 minutes, highlights abound. "Faucet" slinks along with a warped production, a plinking synth layered over top. Closer "Wool, which has one of the few guest-spots in the Ying to Earl's Yang, Vince Staples, comes closer to early Odd Future than anything else on the album. However, it's also an album in the classic sense, and it should be digested as a whole. Earl kept the guest spots to a minimum, so basically for 30 minutes it's just you and Earl, as he dumps his problems and everything he's feeling on you with raw honesty. It's not an art project, it's his life, and it certainly isn't going to be for everyone. But if you're the kind of person who likes this kind of album, as I am, it's one of the best releases of the year thus far, and one that gives a lot of hope for what Earl has in store for the future, now that he's completely shed any pretense of making music anyone but himself.

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