2014 has been as tumultuous a year for metal as it has been for Oberlin and the world at large. Formerly rigid classifications have been bent backwards and broken, warped into positions a chiropractor wouldn’t even dream possible. This lack of regard for convention has allowed metal genres to shake off some of the stagnancy of the early 2010s, and has paved the way for seemingly disparate elements to synergize in unexpected harmonies, culminating in some of the most compelling metal music that’s ever been produced. Below is a list (in alphabetical order) of the most intriguing records metal workgroup has looked at over the course of the last year, dominated by Profound Lore and Relapse Records. Links to listen to album or song streams are available in the respective album titles:
Anna Rose Greenberg, co-Traffic Director and host of “Germaniacs” interviewed Jürgen Engler of Die Krupps, legendary German industrial/electronic band who, incidentally, wrote the song “Germaniacs” after which Anna Rose’s show is named – hear Engler talk about the difference between American and German music, his favorite music, his new label, and more.
Before the CMJ Top 10 tomorrow, enjoy this list of very new releases to check out. We typically do things around here in multiples of 5, but I couldn’t resist tacking on one special release on the end.
1. Mary J. Blige – The London Sessions [Ed. note: She’s been around since 1992, but she still manages to sound fresh and interesting and just, well, really good.]
2. Lord Raja – A Constant Moth [Ed. note: Electronic artist from New York]
3. Girlpool – Girlpool [Ed. note: Duo of teenagers from L.A., just guitar, bass, their voices, and some killer songwriting.]
4. Oceaan – Veritas [Ed. note: Producer from Manchester, U.K.]
5. Abelardo Barroso y la Orquesta Sensacion – Cha Cha Cha [Ed. note: Re-release of an incredible Cuban group from the 50s.]
6. Parquet Courts – Content Nausea [Ed. note: The extra 6th album is Parquet Court’s second full-length of the year!]
There continually remains a negative understanding of southern rap, as it is largely constructed as void of quality lyricism, radio-friendly, nonsensical, and ultimately simple. Within this sentiment, certain are deemed transcendent of the sub-genre, with Houston based UGK and early-to-mid Lil Wayne not only catering to a larger demographic, but garnering critical acclaim and praise throughout relatively all outlets. In the last few years, Big Krit has been placed within the rare Southern-but-respectable rapper paradigm, with his 2012 release Live from the Underground earning rave reviews and building suspense for any future major label release. Two years and a mixtape later, Big Krit released Cadillactica on November 10.
The intro to Cadillactica, “Kreation,” sets the tone for a different Krit experience; the southern drawl remains, yet the production is more electronic and noisy, vaguely similar to Pusha T’s My Name is my Name or a tapered down Raider Klan release. Essentially, Krit is trying to produce an expansive sound and illustrate his evolution as an artist, which he does moderately well. In particular, the eponymous track “Cadillactica” is a highlight of the first half of the album, with Krit rapping quickly and confidently about his motivations over a futuristic, synth-driven beat by DJ Dahi.
The first half of the album remains strong with the track “King of the South” serving as a catchy yet guttural experience with Krit boasting: “Kick that south flow that you can’t get. Try to fuck the world but my dick won’t fit. My bitch like ‘Krit, motherfuck they feelings. You wanna be king, gotta claim that shit.’ I’m talkin’ ’bout off with they heads.” In execution, “King of the South” serves to be the end of side a, with the second half of the album returning to Krit’s southern roots.
The remaining productions are full of twangy soul and funk driven instrumentals akin to an 8ball and MJG or Scarface record, which theoretically contrasts Cadillactica’s aims; the album plays as an experience attempting to transcend southern rap, yet through production and lyrical content fails to do so. There is a definite attempt at shedding southern stereotypes, and results are mixed. Krit’s lyricism is fine, but suffers on occasion as it comes across as a formulaic, conscious attempt to produce these vivid, yet obscure, poetically driven verses. In a noticeable attempt at a refined lyrical experience, Krit declares on his opening track: “These hands of mine can hold the weight of planets. Allow me to use the hues of lunar cools to paint a canvas. Of explosions and vibrant emotions that we know we could. Explore the outer most with no risks. Even though we know we should. You are the ocean, I am a mountain.” This isn’t to say that Big Krit’s lyrics are bad by any means, it just doesn’t feel quite natural. The same can be said for the productions, as the album lacks cohesion, problematically weaving from electronic synths to funk, without ever truly settling down.
Big Krit is a victim to success. As all of his previous releases have received general acclaim, a newfound pressure is present; Krit has been good, consistent, solid, occasionally great, and as a result, expectations have risen. Cadillactica is another step, but it isn’t groundbreaking. In this sense, Krit fails to fully escape the “southern rap” moniker he holds, and although Cadillactica is worth a few listens, it doesn’t reach the hollowed territory of a transcendent southern-turned- classic rap album. Essentially, the album strives to be Outkast’s Stankonia or Speakerboxx/The Love Below, yet plays like Idelwind.
WOBC is super excited to announce a new partnership with The Grape, Oberlin’s alternate student newspaper. Every other week, the Grape will feature an article about a show on WOBC. In the weeks between issues of The Grape, we’ll still feature a show of the week on our website. The inaugural spotlight, authored by Sam Hume, focuses on Jackie Milestone, pop director and host of “Movies, Sounds, and Tracks,” airing Tuesdays, 10-11 pm.
As part of the Grape’s mission to be the ultimate source of alternate news, we cover a wide range of the different artistic and cultural experiences on campus. Both to provide you, dear reader, with valuable insight on the many goings on in Oberlin, and more importantly, to help spread awareness about the many great artists on this campus and their varied crafts. From their lair atop the roof of Wilder, the people of WOBC asked us, in our dusty basement at the Grape, if we were interested in publishing a series of spotlight articles on their many wonderful DJs and hosts. The answer was, of course, a yes. For this edition’s WOBC spotlight I chose to focus on Jackie Milestone, who DJ’s Movies, Sound and Tracks, a show that focuses on music in film (and it airs every Tuesday from 10-11PM, give it a listen!).
Jackie, a junior, is a veteran WOBC DJ, having been a part of the program since she was a first semester freshman. She is now one of the station’s pop directors, a far cry from DJing a show from 3-4 Sunday morning. Similar to class and housing registration Freshmen get last pick when it comes to time slots, “paying their dues,” to the station. Though according to Jackie, “It’s just part of being in the station, I find doing the show[s] so much fun that it just pays off.” And rightly so, you have to crawl before you walk after all. When she started out, Jackie’s lineup was mostly folk rock from the 60s and 70s though through the semesters she has branched out to new things.
“I like [the show] that I have now because it allows me to pull from basically anything.” Jackie’s music choices are eclectic, though of course each show follows a central theme. Two weeks ago the theme was Disney. Though I did enjoy Disney movies in my youth (like many other youngsters) I had thought my appreciation for them had dropped off. Listening to Jackie’s show while frying some tofu, I found myself appreciating the breadth of the studio’s work. From the Jazzy lyrics of the Jungle Book to lines more reminiscent of the Blues from Robin Hood. Of course the Lion King’s fantastic soundtrack by Elton John took the cake (at least for me). Jackie “love[s] dabbling in all sorts of different genres.” Some shows have been dedicated to those “cult classics” we all know and love while others focused on certain genres like 80s pop rock.
Not all WOBC is chatting on air or dropping some sweet tunes; some of Jackie’s “middle years” were taken up with work groups. At WOBC work groups are open to people even if they don’t have a show and give some relief to aspiring DJs who might not be able to make their precarious times. The groups are divided between Studio B, who handle recording, and various genre work groups that go through and listen to all (seriously, if you haven’t you should check it out some time, WOBC has a shitload of cool music and they get more all the time) of the music that comes into the station deciding which of it is worth keeping. According to her this year has been, “a little more organized and focused…people seem to be really on top of their stuff.” It definitely shows.
Part 2 of International Workgroup’s playlist – a real Japanese pop star, a virtual Japanese pop star, an up and coming British singer of Ghanaian & Nigerian descent, and a legendary Malian singer with a U.S backing band.
1. Kyari Pamyu Pamyu (Japan) – Pon Pon Pon
This video is everything.
2. Hatsune Miku (Japan) – Sharing the world (“live” on David Letterman)
22nd century J-pop meets 20th century American TV.
3. Lola Rae (Nigeria’Ghana/UK)
There will be dancing.
4. The Sway Machinery featuring Khaira Arby (US and Mali)- Gawad Teriamou
Khaira Arby, also know as the Nightingale of the North hails from Mali.
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