Infectious Beats, Hard-Hitting Lyrics Make Free Radicals’ New Album Well Worth Hearing

Courtesy: Free Rads Music

Two years after the release of its then latest album, White Power Outage, music collective Free Radicals has released that record’s companion album, White Power Outage Vol. 2.  Released April 8, the 25-song (yes, 25 songs) record proves itself a successful new offering from the group.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the musical content makes for its own interest and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  All things considered, they make White Power Outage Vol. 2 another positive new offering from Free Radicals.

White Power Outage Vol. 2, the latest offering from Free Radicals, is another positive offering from the group that will engage and entertain the group’s established audiences, as well as a wide range of rap fans.  That is due in large part to its featured musical arrangements.  From beginning to end, the compositions are mostly rap and hip-hop style compositions whose beats are completely infectious. The use of the horns and occasional R&B style vocals cross with those hip-hop elements to make the whole so enjoyable.  There are some full songs and some that are instrumentals tossed in for good measure, too.  Sometimes modern, other times a throwback and others still, a blend of both, the arrangements are comparable to works from the likes of Jurassic 5, Mos Def, and at times, Public Enemy, the arrangements are so funky and friendly to the ears.

The engagement and entertainment that the album’s musical content is sure to generate means, too, that audiences are certain to pay close attention to the record’s lyrical themes just as much.  Throughout the course of the record’s hour-plus run time (one hour 16 minutes to be exact), the themes are all socially and politically conscious.  The group pulls no punches, going after Democrats and Republicans alike, and pretty much all of the powers that be.  It really is content that will appeal to fans of acts, such as Run The Jewels and Public Enemy.  The album’s very lead single, ‘Bipartisan Baby Jail’ goes after Vice President Kamala Harris, comparing her to Donald Trump for comments she made during a visit to America’s southern border, where children were being detained in facilities there.  So right there, the group goes after both sides.  In another song, ‘If You Don’t Vote For Me, You’re Not White’ the group goes after President Biden for comments he made during the 2020 election about black voters and whether they were voting for him.  ‘America’s Blues,’ which comes a little later in the album, is a direct commentary about the oppression that African-Americans have experienced throughout America’s history.  ‘Other Holocausts’ is a direct discussion on the mistreatment of so many minority groups by Americans of European history throughout history.  It is a discussion that many will find uncomfortable, but to that end, it is also needed and just one more of so many hard-hitting topics that fill out the album.  From the Native Americans wiped out by Americans of European descent, to the centuries of mistreatment of African-Americans by whites throughout history, to the killing of innocent people overseas as a result of wars waged by Americans and even the KKK and Proud Boys and their racist actions, the lyrical themes that make up the body of this new record do just as much to keep this record engaging and entertaining as the album’s musical content.  When the album’s musical and lyrical content is collectively considered, the whole of that material gives audiences all the more reason to take in this record.

Working with the record’s content is the production thereof.  The production brings out the best elements of the arrangements and even the vocals therein.  The beats are just subtle enough at some points, and stronger at others, complimenting the vocals and other instruments in each composition.  Whether it be the horns in some songs, or the steady rapping, or the beats themselves, each part of each song expertly compliments its fellow parts throughout.  The end result is a general effect that makes the album just as engaging and entertaining as the record’s content.  When that content is considered along with the record’s production, the whole makes White Power Outage a record that easily makes itself worth hearing at least once.

White Power Outage Vol. 2, the latest album from Free Radicals, is a hard-hitting presentation that is sure to get plenty of attention among audiences and critics alike.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  Largely rap style works, the arrangements present beats that are completely engaging and entertaining.  The lyrical themes that accompany those immersive arrangements add their own interest because of their hard-hitting content.  It goes without saying that the content presented in the themes is true, many might find it militant at the level of Public Enemy.  That is sure to cause the overall lyrical content to be very divisive and in turn quite engaging.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  It just means it will bring that much more attention to the record.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements, ensuring the most impacting general effect.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of White Power Outage Vol. 2.  All things considered, they make the album one of the best of the year’s new rap albums.

White Power Outage Vol. 2 is available through Free Rads Music. More information on the album is available online now along with all of Free Radicals’ latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://freerads.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/freerads

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FK5’s Sophomore LP Was Well Worth The Wait

Courtesy:  Fort Knox Recordings

Courtesy: Fort Knox Recordings

Fort Knox Five put the hip-hop community and the music community at large on notice when it released its debut album Radio Free D.C. back in 2008. Nearly seven years since that album’s release, the Washington, D.C.-based hip-hop group has put both communities on notice once again with its second full-length release Pressurize the Cabin. Seven years seems like a long time between albums, especially between the group’s first and second album. But in that time, FK5 (as it will henceforth be known) has kept pretty busy, releasing no fewer than five compilation records along the way, at least two EPs and a number of singles. So suffice it to say that FK5 never really went anywhere since it released its debut album. It just took some time for it to release this record. The wait was well worth it, too. That is because the group—Sid Barcelona, Steve Raskin, Rob Myers, and Jon Horvath—has released in Pressurize the Cabin a record that is a solid new effort. It takes the sound and positive vibes established in the group’s debut album and utilizes them to make a new ten-track record that has an identity all its own yet is just as entertaining as its predecessor. That is made clear right off the top in the album’s celebratory song ‘Reach (ft. Flex Matthews).’ ‘Whatcha Gonna Do (ft. Mustafa Akbar)’ is another example of how Pressurize The Cabin has built on the success of its predecessor to make it another great release from a group that is one of the hip-hop community’s best kept secrets. ‘Keep It Poppin (ft. Mustafa Akbar)’ also serves as a great example of what makes FK5’s new record so enjoyable. Its solid beat coupled with its overall musical and lyrical side gives it something of a pop/hip-hop hybrid sound that will have any listener just as much on his or her feet. It’s one more way in which Pressurize The Cabin proves itself to be a hit for anyone looking for a break from all of the cookie cutter, bubble gum hip-hop and pop on the radio today. It isn’t the last way it proves this record to be so enjoyable either. Any of the remaining tracks not noted here could each serve as solid examples of why audiences should hear this record. Whether for those songs or the pieces more specifically noted, the combination of each shows clearly why Pressurize The Cabin is a triple threat of a record. It proves in the long run to be one of this year’s best new independent releases, one of the year’s best new hip-hop/rap records, and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall.

FK5’s new album Pressurize The Cabin is a triple threat record. It is fully deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums as well as the year’s best new independent releases. It could even be argued at least as a candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new albums overall with its mix of upbeat music and positive lyrics. This is proven right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Reach (ft. Flex Mathews).’ This piece grabs listeners’ attention right from the beginning with its laid back groove. Having listeners’ attention, Mathews takes the mic to deliver a message that will put just as much of a smile on listeners’ faces. He raps over the song’s groove, “This be the blueprint for reachin’ for the stars/I did it for myself now I do it for ya’ll/I said reach/You ain’t gotta be fly/I said reach/Ain’t nothin’ wrong with touchin’ the sky/This be the blueprint for movin’ on up/For all my folks who got down/Yeah, they know what’s up/I said reach.” Mathews adds in the song’s closing verse, “Work hard, play hard/That’s all I’ve got to say ya’ll/They say the future ain’t real/So live for today, ya’ll.” He also notes at different points of reaching for the stars and of his own determination along with that of the members of FK5. Simply put, the overall lyrical content of this song presents a message of self-determination and optimism versus just being content with just getting by. It is a great message for audiences of all ages. This is especially the case when it is compared to so much other rap and hip-hop available to audiences today. Again, set against the song’s laid back bongo-driven groove, it shows exactly why it was chosen as the album’s opener and why it is also one of the album’s best singles.

‘Reach ft. Flex Mathews’ is a great first impression from FK5 on its latest release. It is an equally great introduction to the group for those that might not be so familiar with its body of work so far. It is only one example of what makes Pressurize The Cabin is among this year’s cream of the crop, too. The album’s third track ‘Whatcha Gonna Do ft. Mustafa Akbar’ is just as solid an example of how much this album has to offer audiences. Whereas the album’s opener is more laid back, this composition will instantly have listeners on their feet. That is thanks to its old school funk sound and equally celebratory lyrics. The song’s musical side conjures thoughts of Parliament Funkadelic with its horns and its guitar line set against its infectious beats. Lyrically speaking, it ‘s just as fun thanks to the simplicity of said lyrics. Akbar and company sing over that so easily danceable musical side, “Time to party hard/Intoxicated by/Gonna set it off/Get a spirit shine/Let the music fill your soul/Now your body wants to let go/Let go/Whatcha gonna do/When we funk for you/Whatcha gonna do/When we funk for you/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up/Let the music get you hot/While you rock from side to side/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up.” No doubt anyone that listens to this song will in fact have their hands up and hips moving to this song. Because of this, there is even less doubt that this song will become just as much of a fan favorite both on record and in a live setting. In becoming a fan favorite it will show in the long run once again why Pressurize The Cabin is such an impressive new release in itself and in comparison to its counterparts in the hip-hop community.

Both ‘Reach ft. Flex Mathews’ and ‘Whatcha Gonna Do ft. Mustafa Akbar’ prove in their own way why Pressurize The Cabin is one of the best of the year’s hip-hop and rap crop. They are just a couple of examples of what makes this record so fun. FK5 kicks off the second half of the album with one more example of what makes it so fun in the fittingly titled ‘Keep It Poppin’ ft. Mustafa Akbar.’ ‘Keep It Poppin’ does in fact keep this record poppin’ thanks to its old school funk/disco hybrid sound driven by its guitar and keyboard lines. The song’s lyrical side keeps things poppin’ just as much as the group sings together, “We keep it poppin’/We keep rockin’ the spots/Some use it for the rhythm and the rhyme/Some use it for the beat keep time/Some listen jus to prove to their friends/That they know every word/So they sing every line/Some listen for the hip-hop, hip-hop/Some listen for the one-drop, one-drop/Some listen for the soul in the funk/And the bass in the trunk.” The group is saying without saying that everyone listens to its music for their reason. While it isn’t noted directly, it is inferred through these lyrics and the song’s musical energy that it doesn’t matter why people listen as long as they’re listening. This is driven home even more so as the group sings later in the song, “Party people on the left/funk/All the people on the right/Funk/Everybody from the back to the front fun/You know we can’t, we won’t stop.” Simply put, the song is just a song that encourages listeners to get on the ance floor and get moving. It is just a great, feel good song that once more will have listeners smiling happily as they dance and sing along. It could even be argued that with its mix of music and lyrics, this song is the highest of this album’s full complement of high points. That is just this critic’s own interpretation of course. Audiences will each find their own favorite(s) throughout the record when they hear it for themselves. Every one of the album’s tracks is sure to be a favorite, too. Taking that into consideration, audiences will agree in the end that all ten of the songs that make up this record make it one whole that is one of the best new hip-hop/rap albums of this year, one of the year’s best new independent albums, and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall.

All three of the songs noted in this review show in their own way that Pressurize The Cabin is more than deserving of being added to any critic’s list of the year’s best new hip-hop/rap albums, independent albums, and potentially even the year’s best new albums overall. The songs not noted here strengthen that argument even more. Audiences new and old alike will agree with this sentiment when they hear Pressurize The Cabin for themselves. It is available now in stores and online. Audiences will also be able to pick up the album and hear it for themselves at any of FK5’s upcoming shows, which are listed on the group’s Facebook page and its official website. Audiences can also get all of the latest news from FK5 on both sites.

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Hip-Hop Veterans’ Debut Collaboration Makes Its Mark As One Of 2014’s Best

Courtesy:  Delicious Vinyl

Courtesy: Delicious Vinyl

Veteran hip-hop artists Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark released their first ever full-length collaboration earlier this month.  The self-titled release comes three years after the duo released its debut EP Another Day, Another Dollar.  Regardless of whether or not the pair decides to re-issue that EP anytime soon, audiences have in its debut full length studio effort a record that any hip-hop fan will agree is one of this year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums.  The album’s opener ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural) is a solid first impression for audiences.  The album’s lead single ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ is just as impressive with its mix of hip-hop and r&b style.  And then there’s the deeply thought-provoking penultimate piece ‘Godzilla or Gamera.’  Between its simple musical side and its seeming social commentary, it’s one of the album’s true standout points.  Taken alongside the other songs noted here Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark’s debut full length shows that should their primary groups—The Pharcyde and Jurassic 5—not release another album (J5 recently reunited for a tour with Dilated peoples, but not much else seems planned past that) the two artists could easily have a bright future making their own music together.

Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark open their self-titled album solidly with what is a solid first impression in the form of ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural).’  The song comes across as an introduction for Tre and Nu-mark as their own artists.  The pair writes about growing up with music and being focused solely on that one thing.  The song’s musical style makes the song even more enjoyable.  That’s because there are so few hip-hop and rap acts that stylistically do today what Nu-mark and Slimkid3 do musically.  Audiences can hear this same style from the duo’s primary groups and from the likes of Dilated Peoples.  But by and large, it seems that so many rap and hip-hop acts today rely more on pop music and electronica as the basis for the songs that make up their albums.  So hearing this old school style (for lack of better wording) as opposed to so much other material out there makes this song all the more a positive first impression for fans whether or not they are familiar with the work of both artists.

Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark make a solid mark with ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural).’  Just as positive a piece is the album’s lead single ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo).’  The song mixes the duo’s well-established hip-hop style with a more r&b style.  The two styles are expertly balanced against the song’s story of a man trying to his best to make his woman happy, but just can’t.  The duo writes in this song, “Listen/Now each and every day/I gave a little bit more/Cause in the game of love/I had the high score/From the dinners and the movies to the things that didn’t do it/But sacrifice is what life is for/She had the big screen/Had that/The diamond ring/Had that…So we kept living like we was on the Cadillac/I wasn’t trippin’ though/I’d never take it back.” This is a man that has tried everything.  But as the chorus states, it was no avail.  The men write, “And I know/And I know/And I wait/And I wait/And she won’t/And she won’t/To this day/To this day/And I know/And I know/And I wait/And I wait.”  The sample from Darondo asks “Didn’t I try” in an almost pleading sense. Listeners can just see a man asking his woman, what can he do, didn’t he do enough, didn’t he try? It’s a solid song that if mainstream r&b and pop stations haven’t picked up on by now, they really should. That’s because it is another great addition to this album.

Both ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural)’ and ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ exemplify the talent of both DJ Nu-mark and Slimkid3 and what makes this album well worth the listen by any purist fan of the hip-hop and rap genres. One more piece that can be used as an example of that talent and ease of listening comes in the album’s penultimate track ‘Godzilla or Gamera.’ There seems to be a certain social commentary in this piece. The song comes across as making a statement about the violence that is destroying so many communities today. That thought is raised as Nu-Mark and Slimkid3 write in this song, “I cocked the hammer but there was nothing glamorous/Caught up in the AM in pajamas like the amateur…we’re in a dark place so let one spark/First one to shoot/Shoulda left that mark/They scatter like a cockroach/I scramble a little close to find the evidence to make us ghosts.” He goes on to make note of thoughts of pallbearers and limousines and people shooting guns. There’s even mention of “the young ones doing crimes for fun” with a certain cynical tone that makes the song’s statement even more clear. It’s good to hear such a socially conscious song especially from a genre that is so known more for objectification of women and glorification of drugs and violence. And set against the strains of the keyboard line and beat, it hits even harder, leading it to stand out even more as one of the album’s key moments. It proves to be one more song that along with ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural)’ and ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ makes Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark an album that every rap and hip-hop fan should hear at least once.

Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-Mark have crafted an album their self-titled release that stands well above so much of the rap and hip-hop crowd. The trio of songs noted here, alongside those not noted, prove in the end that it is an easy contender for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums. Its beats mixed in with lyrics that hit on a variety of topics make it a solid work from start to finish. And regardless of whether or not Jurassic 5 or The Pharcyde decide to ever put out another album (somehow odds seem to be against that), one thing is certain—this album proves without a shadow of a doubt that should those groups not release another album, the future is bright for this duo. SLimkid3 & DJ Mu-Mark is available now in stores and online. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.