The new album from renowned underground performer and Hodgepodge artist Austin Antoine does not disappoint. Produced, mixed and mastered by the talented Mister-he and sporting a gorgeous cover by Amy Lee, You’re Very Welcome opens with a sense of narrative foreshadowing, teasing the listener with things to come. Vocal processing, lush production, anything goes. You know we’re sonically referencing heroes here, just as the opening monologue suggests, but you’re not sure which ones. Is this Andre 3000 at his most spacey? Gambino at his most theatric? We’ll see.
Wasting no time, Antoine’s first full track is the classic banger, self aware on several levels. We discuss the artist’s place in the scene; we’re assured the artist is young and strong, connected but humble. The rhymes flow, the chorus bangs, the beat bumps. This track knows what it is, and Antoine wants everyone to make sure we know where we’re at.
With Streets of Broken Dreams, Antoine starts to throw the listener some curves. This beat swings pretty heavily, and one can almost imagine some old music-man with white gloves, a cane and skimmer hat, airing out biting sarcasm as if the suffering performer’s woes are just another part of the show.
As the album progresses, it seems like Antoine starts to introduce this crazy new idea where he’s more than “just” a rapper. He’s a performer, and he’s got the pipes to prove it. I love when an artist has put some real thought into their track order, and it’s no accident that the hints of Austin singing toward the end of the woo-me track Summer Days leads into the astoundingly soulful interlude, Kelsey. Contrapuntal, a cappella melodies sung entirely by Austin take us deeper down the rabbit hole, exploring into what hip hop means besides some dude rapping over beats. With You’re Very Welcome, Antoine is taking the listener through a lesson in first impressions. Every artist has a journey that transcends genre, and few albums I’ve heard capture that concept as well as this one.
Got a problem with his singing? Unless you’re Nas (or even then, maybe) you better get over it. That’s the message in Rahzel/Aaliyah, a raw callback track that says, who gives a shit? Austin knows where he’s coming from, and he knows he can freestyle circles around anyone who steps to him. How many rappers out there can use the words “Guinness World Record” in their list of accolades? He’s been killing it for years, but this album is a new step for Antoine. He has accomplishments to back up his confidence. Listen to POWER!!, and tell me you’ve heard anything like this before. Just like with the intro, we know this style is coming from somewhere, from Austin’s heroes, but amalgamated into that dope freshness that speaks for itself. Hell yeah he likes video games, and hell yeah he’s watched Dragonball Z, and hell yeah he can rap like a beast.
You’re Very Welcome represents the new breed of artist. We don’t know if it’s hip hop. We don’t even know if it’s a record. It’s a work done by an individual who is navigating this strange new experience of becoming a performing adult with integrity amidst peers who don’t remember a time without email. Austin has really captured a moment here, and demonstrated tremendous personal growth in a truly relevant release.
I am very excited to announce my amazing new band Madapple will be performing TWO SETS for our inaugural performance at the super cool Sassafras Salloon in Hollywood! The show is FREE and goes from 9-midnight, and it’s in the part of Hollywood where parking isn’t completely impossible. Hope to see you there!
A new video from choreographer Lindsey Lollie and dancer Jordan Saenz with music by me. Every sound you hear is sourced from samples of Lindsey reciting the three title words and manipulated using things like EQ, resonators and about three tons of delay. Enjoy.
“There’s no difference between good music and good comedy. It’s entertainment. And entertainment is suspension of time and space, so that you realize your true nature, which is spaceless and timeless.”
Rarely seen video of the prophet himself on a tiny public access channel in Austin. He had just had his big break, a standup routine he filmed for David Letterman, censored from the episode. He had announced his retirement from American comedy clubs. At the time this video was filmed, he had known he had cancer for nearly five months. He never mentions it.
Taken from the new(ish) Daft Punk record Random Access Memories, I did a cover of Lose Yourself To Dance using just a delay pedal and Whammy pitchshifter. Also sweet dance moves and interior decorating.
Multi-faceted artist Saba Alizadeh has created a piece that combines his unique visual aesthetic with sound and theater, and the result is a stunning, politically charged work with heart-wrenching subtlety.
I am a half-Arab who looks American. Saba is an Iranian who looks Arab. And in this experience, I am struck by the powerful marriage of visuals and experimental sound to arrive at the piece’s central theme. He sits in full protective gear, complete with surgical mask and safety goggles, and gets to work. As the piece progresses, the lights turn off and a wonderful dance of light and sound commences. We watched him build the thing ourselves, but still the context is inescapable. He hugs a lamp to his chest, using light sensors in his circuit to tune it to the drone, and makes it sing.
Don’t think here about modes, harmony, pitch, or meter. Do think about structure. Think about an Iranian holding a bright light to his heart, and what it means when we realize that the context of that performance, simply because he is an Iranian on U.S. soil, is… different. And art exists to point out differences in a way that makes them not.
The piece ends with darkness and the familiar Morse code plea for help. Some people might hear a bunch of squeaks and bleeps and might even scoff at calling this music. But, as for this reviewer, I nearly cried.
Saba will be performing at Seyhoun Gallery in West Hollywood on Wednesday, October 30th at 8 p.m.
This summer I’ve done a couple of sort-of-almost-professional beatboxing gigs, and I loved it so much I’ve been inspired to do a few videos on my YouTube channel. I hope to do these on a regular basis from now on. Here’s this week’s video, a cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean using only a microphone and a Boss DD-20 Giga Delay. It’s gotten over a hundred views already, which is awesome. If the interest keeps up, I hope to create a real channel, with subscribers and consistency and everything. Enjoy!
As it is Claude Debussy’s birthday, I thought I’d share some music I find soothing, in my own way. What you have to understand, though, is that people are just born with differently wired nervous systems. When they want to wind down or reenergize, different people will go to classical, or coffeehouse, or chill lounge, or even Coldplay. I just happen to be soothed by loud music with a groove. It seems to help if there are metallophones involved. Cut up vocal samples, too. If you notice any particular trend, seriously, let me know. But for whatever reason, these songs all occupy the same musical space in my soul. When I need it, these are examples of what get me and my particularly atypical nervous system when I need them to.
I’ve linked each video with a little description, and at the bottom of this post is an embedded YouTube playlist that will play them in the basically arbitrary order in which I thought of them. So come back to this post whenever you need it, weary traveler. Make a cup of hot tea and rest your feet by fire. Then jam the hell out. Enjoy.