Not sure how to kick things off with a little ditty post intro after such a hiatus…
I’ve spent some time immersed in the musical makings of a few rising rap artists and am excited to share a few of them with you.
Sadistik, Vigilantics, Bear Witness, Upgrade and Astronautalis are just a few of the mold-morphing artists currently ripping any pre-existing rapper template to shreds.
Armed with prophetic parables of universal awareness, a few landmark lyricists are leading the hip-hop redux. With self labeled search-and-destroy and hippie-hop music, rising indie rap artists are reaching audiences on an enlightened level of intimate expression and iconoclast introspection through emotional candor and raw delivery. The brave new world of hip-hop is flourishing with lyrical foliage, fertilized with creative integrations of hardcore, post-punk, reggae, classic rock and soul.
“Amass a massacre pupils adjust the aperture
My castle’s Dracula brutal with just vernacular
Hands are tarantulas scapulas spread my angel wings
Halo rings are bullet holes I made to sing” –Sadistik. Honeycomb. Altars.
Sadistik has always made it a point to collaborate and tour with the best artists imaginable, but this last show… the Altars Tour II with Vigilantics, Upgrade Hiphop and Nacho Picasso… perfection. Sadistik was incredible. Altars may even becoming my favorite album. He played the best possible set list and everything about seeing him perform made the trip worth it, especially discovering Vigilantics.
Rafael Vigilantics commands the stage with an infectious and reluctantly optimistic energy, dissecting a dystopian history of tortured train rides, Texas stabbings, an accidental kidnapping, lost love, gambling and card-table murders, with a lot of drinking. With proud confessions of vulnerability, Vigilantics paints piercing pictures of danger, disaster and desire. His transparent transgressions are presented with an infectious charm that leaves you rooting for him to prosper in the painted portraits of hijack and treachery.
The Vigilantics discography draws a vivid picture of a tormented victor, a hopeful “huntsman” who warns of his ferocious flaws while firing lyrical weapons. His exquisite delivery is often dosed with simultaneous combinations of hardcore, punk, pub-rock and R&B, integrating sounds reminiscent of the Clash, Suicidal Tendencies, Iggy Pop and Frank Ocean. Debut album Bury Me Standing was released in 2009 and quickly embraced in the punk community. The tracks “No Friends” and “Sex Magic” present powerful, palliative portrayals of hard-core punk, the kind of songs that revive sleeping memories of warehouse parties in the late 90’s.
Sophomore album The Orgasm of a Ghost was released in 2011, where a talented dichotomy is discovered with “Everyday” and “Dreaming.” Rafael’s raspy voice remains delightfully raw, yet surprisingly melodic. Elements of ’80s goth, English post-punk and soul-rock co-exist in the orchestrated blend of sway worthy hooks and upbeat bass progressions. Lamenting lyrics are strung through irresistible dance rhythms to take you on a journey of Motown, R&B and Tears for Fears-esque turmoil that succeeds in breaking your heart while moving your feet.
2013’s The Spade Tapes is an incredible exodus that takes you deeper into the driving force of the artists dedication. “Different” and “Not Here/Rainz” reveal a rise in synthesizer sightings, slow jams and lust-ridden lyrical landscapes. Inventive collaborations with the angelic Rebecca Tafline give Vigilantics the bandwith to paint harrowing scenarios with heated rhythms of retrospect on this record. Bleeding-heart anthems for outcasts like “A Birds Eye” and “Darkness” have a heart-wrenching edge with first generation hip-hop homage.
The Prizefighter EP, released in 2015, is also home to a few favorites (see “Porch Light” and “My Girl”). The 2016 single “Badman” featuring P.O.S. and Alisa Fidele, “Ramblin’ Bones” and a RAWsession cover of Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” are all rather fire, as well.
Another artist whose live performance stays with you for days, Astronautalis, once served as my segue to discovering Sadistik’s magnetic world of dark interludes. From the first recordings of Sadistik (Cody Foster), you can hear that he is destined for something greater, and he welcomes you to dissect the inner turmoil of that responsibility right along with him.
Such intrepid introspection has seldom been seen since Sage Francis, an artist with whom Sadistik has collaborated, released Personal Journals over a decade ago. A child of the backpack heyday, Sadistik learned from the best the scene had to offer, from the aforementioned Sage and Mac Lethal to the late, great Eyedea.
You can hear Eyedea’s indelible influence on urgent confessionals such as “Melancholia” and the Cage-assisted “Russian Roulette”. That which Eyedea left behind in this world resonates deeply within Sadistik, as he keeps his friend’s message of hope and love in the face of adversity alive, and pays touching tribute on “Micheal”. –FakeFourInc.com
I highly suggest listening to the previously mentioned collaboration of Sadistik with Astronautalis and Lotte Kestner on the “Exit Theme” track from 2014’s Flowers for my Father.
Shortly after the release of The Balancing Act, Sadistik’s father tragically passed. Never one to shy away from heavy topics or keep his personal life personal, Sadistik wrote Flowers for his late father, choosing to treat each song as an update of what has happened in his life since. This is reflected in writing that delves into depression, heartbreak, optimism and the struggle to make sense of the ever-shifting pieces in the world around him. –FakeFourInc
You can’t have a full scale recreation of a music genre without a psychedelic solider leading the way for latch-key gypsies. Lair Bair/ Lawrence Pennington / Bear Witness intricately layers loquacious lyrics to reggae rhythms with spotlights of soul, funk and jazz to build his signature hippie-hop sound. Bear Witness carefully creates intellectual and industrious lyrical adaptations that flow with precision to Bill Withers, CCR and Fleetwood Mac samplings.
With an outlook of realistic optimism that gives his music the ability to make you feel empowered while also guaranteeing a few good laughs, Bear Witness seems to be the indie rap answer to flower power hip-hop. The Bear now lives in Colorado (as prefaced in “Permeate the Air“), but remains tightly knit with with the South FL music scene. Crediting Nik Dee with a majority of the creative support, Bear Witness is anxious to return to South FL for a few upcoming shows.
Fun Fact: If you’re lucky enough to catch one of The Bear‘s shows, prepare yourself for some vintage kazoo gloriousness. In one man’s trash outside of Fort Pierce, FL, in 2013, Lair Bair found the signature treasure that would solidify his hippie-hop sound. That treasure is a 1967 Bath House Brass Flooglehorn by toy giant, Matel. The Bear adds autotune, delay and heavy reverb to achieve the crisp, brassy sound you hear in his kazoo cameos.