Saturday in Der Rath: No Bird Sing w/ deM atlaS & Max Meridius

No Bird Sing Cover Photo

 

* The start time of this show has been pushed back from 9:30 to 10 PM.*

If you’ve spend any amount of time with me (on the blog or in *GASP* the real, live, actual world), you’ve probably figured out that I’m slightly obsessed with midwest hip-hop. So naturally, this Saturday is an exciting one for me.

No Bird Sing is making their triumphant return to Madison, this time playing at Der Rathskeller after opening for Dessa at the Sett this past fall. They’re a socially conscious hip-hop group consisting of a drummer/producer (Graham O’Brien), a guitarist/producer (Robert Mulrennan), and an emcee (Joe Horton), repping the FIX Artist Collective out of Minneapolis. Most recently, they’ve been on the road with Atmosphere, Strange Famous labelmate Toki Wright, and the newest addition to the Rhymesayers roster, deM atlaS (more on him later), on the Welcome to Minnesota tour, where they got the chance to exhibit their unique style to packed houses across the frozen north.

Their sound, “ranging from stark minimalism to lush expansiveness”, cuts through crowds with an intense, concentrated power that makes people shut up and listen. Their newest album, Definition Sickness, dropped November of this year, featuring guest spots from FIX cohorts (Kristoff Krane), SFR artists (Sage Francis), and other acclaimed Minneapolis musicians (Aby Wolf and Sadistik).

And speaking of acclaimed Minneapolis musicians, deM atlaS. After signing to Rhymesayers this fall and immediately joining the Welcome to Minnesota tour, he’s generated some considerable buzz, and for good reason. After dropping his Charle Brwn EP in early 2013, everyone took notice of his fast paced, wildly energetic delivery and lyrics describing his feelings of kinship with cartoon character Charlie Brown.

UW’s own Max Meridius will open the show up. Check out his newest single, Heir on iTunes, or Olympians, a cut from his upcoming Elysium mixtape, featuring campus favorite CRASHprez.

Call it a brain trust, call it a party, call it a rap show, but whatever you call it, you’re going to want to get to the Ratheksller on Saturday to see of some of the midwest’s best hip-hop. Show starts at 10 PM and as always, IT’S FREE.

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Saturday Night at The Sett: Taylor Bennett w/ Mick Jenkins and Saba

All the press indicates that Taylor Bennett is going to be hip hop’s next big thing (as soon as he graduate high school). And it’s no wonder-this wunderkind is the Chance the Rapper’s younger brother.

While Taylor Bennett’s vocals bear a striking resemblance to the acid rapper, his lyrical themes take on a slightly more aggressive tone. Listen for yourself:

Here are a few things you should know about Taylor:

  • He’s from Chicago, and his older brother Chance helped take care of him for a few years when their father moved to Washington D.C.
  • His mixtape is available for free (click here)
  • He’s releasing a new album later this year called The Taylor Bennett Show.
  • He looks just like Chance: download (2)
  • Of course, he’s listed in the Top 21 Rappers Under 21 list

Mick Jenkins is a fellow Chicago rapper. His music is incredibly raw and lyrical:

His mixtape is also available for free (click here).

Saba is another Chicago rapper, and a member of Chicago rap collective Pivot Gang. He’s also featured on the Chance the Rapper song “Everybody’s Something”:

The show is free, and it’s going to be sick. There’s no reason not to come and party with WUD Music and the next Chicago rap prodigy, Taylor Bennett. The show starts at 9:30. We’ll see you there!

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Sound of the Funky Drummer

Hip-hop owes Clyde Stubblefield a debt of gratitude–as well as millions in royalties.

It all started with a classic James Brown tune, a loose jam that sounded almost impromptu, but given Brown’s infamous perfectionism, was probably very well rehearsed. After a long series of nonsense lyrics and improvisations laid over a smooth, honeydew groove, Brown told his group to “lay out and let the drummer go,” which may have been music’s version of “let there be light.” For a brief moment, it was as if the waters of sound had parted to reveal the pure essence of funk. Even the Godfather himself was in awe. “The name of this tune is the Funky Drummer.”

About two decades later, the sound of the Funky Drummer would reemerge as the backbeat for hip-hop’s golden age. B-boys breaked (broke?) to the beat, MCs freestyled over it, and DJs sampled it over and over and over again. Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim, N.W.A., Biz Markie, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J–the list goes on for miles and includes just about every name in hip-hop’s hall of fame. The Funky Drummer break is one of if not the most sampled beat in music, and one could make the claim that it has been more important to the genre of hip-hop than any rapper or DJ.

But what of the Funky Drummer himself, Clyde Stubblefield? In the 44 years since he laid down his historic beat, Stubblefield has not received a penny from the myriad artists that have profited from it. This is not necessarily a legal matter–as a session drummer, Stubblefield was never entitled to royalties–but it is troubling nonetheless. Stubblefield has now lived in Madison for over 40 years; until recently, he had played weekly shows with his band at the Frequency. In 2009, Stubblefield was hospitalized with kidney failure, forcing him to go on dialysis. Although royalties would help pay his medical bills, Stubblefield has said that the lack of recognition hurts more than the money. One thing is certain: whether it comes in the form of a check or a shout-out, it’s about time that hip-hop gave the drummer some.

Here’s five examples of the Funky Drummer break in action:

“Funky Drummer”

The original James Brown number was first released as a single in 1970, but it wasn’t put on an album until 1986, shortly before it was rediscovered by the hip-hop community.

“South Bronx”

Boogie Down Productions made this foundational diss track as a counter to MC Shan’s “The Bridge.” One of the first of many important hip-hop tracks to employ Stubblefield’s break.

“Lyrics of Fury”

Probably the most conspicuous usage of the Funky Drummer came in this furious battle track from Eric B. and Rakim. The greatest rapper of all time goes toe-to-toe with the beat in a way that only he can.

“Fight the Power”

Chuck D evokes the “sound of the Funky Drummer” right from the start of this iconic track. Public Enemy was possessed by the break, also sampling it on “Bring the Noise” and “Rebel Without a Pause.”

“Mama Said Knock You Out”

LL Cool J’s ferocious don’t-call-it-a-comeback comeback track puts Stubblefield’s break into overdrive. Like Public Enemy, LL utilized the Funky Drummer multiple times; it also features on “The Boomin’ System,” another stellar track from the same album.

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Remember, no matter what genre you’re into, WUD Music has you covered. Like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter (@WUDmusic) to stay up to date on all the artists and bands playing the Rathskeller, the Terrace, or the Sett each week.

Saturday in the Sett: Dessa w/ No Bird Sing

Dessa makes her triumphant return to Madison after an album tour that’s brought some of the lowest lows and highest highs of her career.Dessa

When Doomtree emcee and brilliant, whiskey-swigging lyricist Dessa played in Madison last spring, she had yet to release her most recent album. Though that show consisted mostly of well-loved tracks from her previous albums, A Badly Broken Code and Castor, The Twin, the enthusiastic fans in attendance were teased by some new songs as well, leaving everyone with the sense that the upcoming release of Parts of Speech was going to be something special.

And whaddya know, we were right. Since that show, Parts of Speech finally dropped, charted at #72 in the U.S., was universally adored by listeners and reviewers from The Current to The A.V. Club to Mezzic, and the subsequent album tour sold out shows all across the country. Along the way, the crew’s van was robbed in Buffalo, NY and though they lost almost all of their equipment, they promptly experienced an outpouring of monetary support from their fans ($33,000 via Indiegogo in less than a day) to replace everything. And through all of this, they did not miss ONE. SINGLE. SHOW. This woman, this band, is a MACHINE. Check out this video of their one day, statewide tour of Minnesota (that’s four cities in 24 hours, folks), and just try to tell me that you don’t agree.

I don’t think I need to spend much time singing Dessa’s praises in this post (not to mention that I already did enough praise-singing to last us all a lifetime in my post from last April), but I will say this: There are few artists out there right now that work as hard or as passionately or with as much incredible skill as Dessa does. Listening to her music is an experience that affects every fiber of your being because you feel every single ounce of joy and pain that she pours into her music. Her whole ethic is pretty much summed up in this line from the song ‘Fighting Fish’, off of Parts of Speech

I didn’t come looking for love/ I didn’t come to pick a fight/ I come here every night to work/ And you can grab an axe, man, or you can step aside.

No Bird Sing, a trio of artists from the FIX Collective that also hails from Minneapolis, will open the show at 9:30. Weaving intricate guitar melodies and snare hits with stormy lyrics, their brooding, intense sound incorporates elements of rap, punk, and electronic, while still maintaining perfect cohesion. Check out ‘Don’t Think’, off Definition Sickness, which drops on November 12th.

Dessa, No Bird Sing, and the rest of this indie-rap extravaganza wrap up this leg of the tour at the end of the month, so grab an axe (metaphorically, as The Union tends to frown upon real weapons) and join us here on November 2nd. 

The Sett,11/2, 9:30 PM, FREE

Friday Night at Memorial Union: Oddisee w/ Klassik and Coby Ashpis

Tonight (Friday, the 4th of October), we’re featuring an artist that has found their niche.


Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, or Oddisee, as he’s known, just released a new mixtape. It’s called Tangible Dream. About the tracks, Oddisee says, “These rhymes were written in economy class seats, these beats were produced on long bus trips & these songs were recorded in airbnb apartments.”

Oddisee has found success on the fringes. His music has a chill vibe with a very obvious influence from early east coast rappers like Tribe Called Quest.

Check it out for yourself: here’s a stream of his latest work.

We’ll also be featuring some local flavor at the Union tonight.

Klassik, of Milwaukee, perfectly complement’s Oddisee’s chill vibe, bringing his own relaxed and lyrical style to the stage. So grab a pitcher, sip slowly, and nod your head to the hypnotic and trancy bass lines of both rappers.

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But don’t miss the opener. He’s from Madison. Coby Ashpis is his name, and here’s a live video of him:

Saturday Night on the Terrace: El-P and Killer Mike w/ Despot, Kool A.D.

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Tonight, WUD Music is presenting what is arguably the biggest rap show it has ever produced on the Memorial Union Terrace. Rappers El-P and Killer Mike have both gained mad respect over the years in the alternative and dirty south hip-hop scenes, respectively.

El-P is a former member of the underground group Company Flow, has produced music for a plethora of artists, and is the co-founder, owner and CEO of New York record label Definitive Jux.

Killer Mike has been in the game since he met Outkast rapper Big Boi in his college years, and has been on the grind ever since. While releasing six solo albums, he was also featured on a handful of songs in the early 2000s, most notably Outkast’s Grammy-winning single “The Whole World”.

Tonight, these decorated MCs come to you as a newly formed hip-hop duo, Run the Jewels. Their self-titled album can be downloaded for free here, and trust me when I say it is more than worth the time spent to acquire it. Clocking in just under 33 minutes, the duo brings 10 tracks with unique, hard-hitting beats and verses that seem effortlessly crafted. When El-P’s faster staccato bars mix seamlessly with Mike’s smooth dirty south flow, it leaves the listener more than satisfied. But my words alone can’t justify the album. Listen for yourself.

El-P and Killer Mike will be supported by Despot, a New York underground rapper with over a decade of experience, and Kool A.D., a former member of the New York group Das Racist.

Saturday, July 20, 8:00PM, Memorial Union Terrace
Admission: FREE

Friday Night on the Terrace: Sidewalk Chalk w/ Psymun, Damacha & K.Raydio

Now, I’m a big proponent of “don’t judge a band by its YouTube comments,” but you can’t argue with the one of the highest voted comments on Sidewalk Chalk’s music video for Water Song: “I like the part where it starts. I disliked when it ended.” So says the comment, so sayeth we all. 

Sidewalk Chalk is a hip-hop group unlike any you’ve ever heard before (unless you happened to be at the Terrace around this time last year). Their unique combination of an old-school live brass section and jazz singer with a new-school emcee creates an entirely new and refreshing sound that it’s pretty much impossible not to groove to. Throw in a tap-dancer who views himself as a piece of living visual art to compliment the band, and you’ve got a party. This octet aims to conquer the world and encourages listeners to do the same with their determined (but never heavy-handed) lyrics about social activism and leaving your mark on the world. 

Sidewalk Chalk’s most recent visit to our fair city comes as they’re touring the world in support of their album Corner Storeavailable via iTunes. Additionally, the well-established band has years of musical experience up their collective sleeves that extend far beyond the scope of this album. The entire band has shared the stage with De La Soul, Company of Thieves, J*Davey, ?uestlove of The Roots, and Action Bronson. As if that wasn’t enough, individual members of the group have acted as musical director(s) for Brother Ali, toured with Jazzanova, sung in the Armed Forces, and played behind Buddy Guy and Talib Kweli.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Sidewalk Chalk has been lauded with praise, named “Best Hip-Hop Act in Chicago” by the Chicago Reader, and can count Lupe Fiasco among their many fans. And considering all this, it’s no wonder that Sidewalk Chalk loves performing live, and that live crowds love them right back. During shows filled with dancing, freestyling, inspiring messages, and occassionally even writing new songs right onstage, they continue to pick up new fans wherever they go.

Supporting Sidewalk Chalk is a veritable crowd of up-and-coming artists from the Twin Cities, all of whom are currently working with each other. Psymun and Damacha have an album together, SSV3. One of its last tracks, Hyperghost, gives you a good preview of what to expect. Psymun and K.Raydio also have a collaborative full length album coming out soon, and you can listen to their first single from it, Flight, here. To further confuse things, the song Flight is currently on the SSV3 album and everybody is collaborating with everybody. This trifecta perfectly completes a night so jam-packed full of Midwestern talent that you’ll hardly be able to see Lake Mendota behind it all. 

So come on down and spend your Friday night with some of the best in the biz. We guarantee that you’ll like the part where it starts, and dislike where it ends.

Friday, July 19th, 9:30, FREE

Monday Feature: Revelry is Coming

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You know a weekend is going to be great when you’re already anticipating for the week to be over on Monday at one in the morning. Whether you’ll be attending the annual Mifflin Street Block Party, hitting up capitol square for the weekly fresh market, or kicking back and watching a Star Wars trilogy (preferably the original one), there is no shortage of funtivities available for Madison citizens this first weekend of May.

And while all of these funtivities are respectable means of entertainment in their own right, I want to highlight the weekend event I will be attending: Revelry Music and Arts Festival. DISCLAIMER: I am in no way being prompted to write this feature by any member of WUD Music. I chose to write this feature because it’s music related, it’s Madison news, I love music, live concerts are awesome, and I want to give those that are or may be going a small preview of what they can expect out of the musical talent at the festival. So let’s get to that. I am going to give my short, unarticulated opinion of the artists that were highlighted in the wonderfully crafted video below. Here goes nothing.

Toro y Moi - Contrary to what your initial reaction may be, Toro y Moi is actually one man. And he may be one of the chillest men I’ve ever heard on a track. For starters, he combined both the Spanish and French languages to create his stage name. It doesn’t matter as long as it translates to English easily (Bull and Me) and sounds cool, right? Beyond this, his calm vocals and looped electronic beats are combined to him consider him a part of the genre known as chillwave. It doesn’t get any more chill than that.

Hoodie Allen - One of my close friends has been a Hoodie fan well before the Revelry lineup was released, and since its release I have hopped on the bandwagon hard. His All American EP was only $5 on iTunes, and provides eight solid tracks that exemplify his catchy music and smart lyrics. In addition, his newest mixtape Crew Cuts is on his website for free! Outside of his music, the former Google employee and UPenn Sprint Football player has collaborated on comedy videos with CollegeHumor that are just too funny to only watch once.

Phox - This seven-piece band from Baraboo, Wisconsin utilizes instruments that run the gamut of sounds, resulting in songs that are most often whimsical, but can also be hectic and heavy. No songs particularly called out to me, but there’s no doubt that the band is unique.

The Mowgli’s - While the only music I could find of theirs was the five songs from their Love’s Not Dead EP, this pop-rock octet has an established pedigree with a recent performance at SXSW 2013 and a scheduled performance at Lollapalooza 2013. Their eight-person chorus is extremely catchy, and “San Francisco” is an irresistible summer jam. 

Chance the Rapper - Chance the Rapper is definitely a different sounding hip-hop artist, with a significantly higher voice than your typical MC. His second mixtape, Acid Rap drops tomorrow, so hopefully Madison will be receptive to his new material come Saturday.

Delta Spirit - This band has a strong alternative rock sound, and many of the songs I listened to have the feel of a live show even though they’re master tracks. I trust that their live performance will be nothing short of a great display of musical talent. In addition, they have a song on the official first volume of The Walking Dead soundtrack, so I am sold.

Julian Lynch - Chill, instrumental, and articulate all at once, Julian Lynch’s music gives off good vibes. With a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology (!?) from UW-Madison, I think concert attendees will give the former city resident a warm reception.

Oh Land - Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Nanna Øland Fabricius serves as singer, songwriter, and producer, for her music. Pianos and an extensive palette of electronic sounds make for a plethora of experimental tunes for Oh Land to sing over. It will be interesting to see how her music translates to a live performance.

So there you have it: A preview of the biggest acts that Revelry has to offer. It would seem that there is a little something for everyone in the festival’s first installment, and I couldn’t be more excited. Here’s to the joys of live music, summer, and the continued success of this festival for years to come. Revel on.

Friday Night in the Sett: Dessa w/ First Wave Performers, Co-sponsored by the Campus Women’s Center

DESSA

Guys, I have a confession to make. I am more than a little bit obsessed with the artist I’m currently writing about. Some have called it a Level 3 girl-crush…Whatever. Basically, THIS is the blog post that I’ve been waiting for. Friends, WUD-ians, countrymen, lend me your ears. I’m going to tell you a tale. A tale that begins far, far away in the land of Minneapolis.

Dessa’s unique combination of musical talent and smart, biting lyricism first arose from participating in slam poetry competitions in college at the U of M. While living and working in Minneapolis after graduation, she befriended members of the Doomtree rap collective, and when they discovered her incredible talent for writing, they  asked her to join the group. She has since gone on to basically conquer the world, releasing four albums with Doomtree, writing and publishing a book, developing her own lipstick color with The Elixery in Minneapolis, and releasing two solo albums with one more, Parts of Speech, on the way on June 25th. Parts of Speech is being hailed as Dessa’s best work yet, with a wealth of different genres, beats, and instruments weaving together into a beautifully cohesive album that has critics falling over with pure excitement. The first single, Warsaw, was described by one reviewer like this: “The track boasts a beat like Azealia Banks playing Pacman, which provides a background for our emcee’s confident, hypnotic flow.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. You can listen to that here.

Dessa’s style is truly exceptional. It’s rare to encounter a rapper who makes amazing music without conforming to the genre’s stereotypes, but she accomplishes it, refusing to be put exclusively into the box of “singer,” “rapper,” or “writer.” She’s not shy about calling out the sexism and hypocrisy present in the world of hip-hop, with lyrics like “I found your steel ladder/Now your ceilings don’t matter/Check me out now I got glass floors.” Dessa will make you think. She will grab you by the collar and make you listen to her lyrics. She will change how you think of women in rap music.

She is what I listen to when I’m blissfully happy, and what I listen to when I’m so angry that I want to punt strangers through the Camp Randall goalposts. Dessa is an incredible artist, and a role model for women everywhere. Not just those in the music industry, but all the women who deal with sexism and stereotyping in their lives and work.

Of course, this night would not be complete without the incredible talent of an all-female group of First Wave performers, in honor of this event’s co-sponsorship with the Campus Women’s Center. For those who don’t know, First Wave is a multicultural coalition of artists who are also students here on campus. They perform spoken word and hip-hop, polishing their skills and showcasing their talents all across campus, the city, and the country. Anyone who has seen First Wave in action before knows that they consistently put on an energetic and passionate show, and will be the perfect intro to a night full of strong women with mad talent.

And as a final quick plug, the Campus Women’s Center does amazing work on this campus, and we are very proud to be working with them to put on an incredible show that honors and promotes female artists and their accomplishments. This show is going to be ridiculously awesome. Get there.

Friday 4/19, The Sett, 9:00 PM

Here’s some videos, to get you pumped.

Freddie Gibbs FREE Ticket Distribution

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In light of what happened at the Joey Bada$$ concert last weekend, we want to make sure our crowd has the best experience possible. So, for the upcoming Freddie Gibbs concert on April 27 in Union South: The Sett, we will have a free ticket distribution.

UW Madison students, faculty, staff and Union members will be able to pick up two tickets at the Vilas Hall Box Office, beginning on Thursday, April 18. You must show your ID, but you are allowed one guest with your tickets (meaning, of the two tickets you pick up, one can be for someone who is not a student, faculty or staff member).

Tickets will not be sold online or through phone calls, they must be picked up in person at the Vilas Hall Box Office. At the concert, you will exchange your ticket for a wristband upon gaining entrance to The Sett.

Vilas Hall Box Office hours:

Weekdays 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

GO GET ‘EM (…when they go on sale)