samurai shotgun’s white supremacy clapback

Rise up for what’s right!

Every new release from Tampa’s Samurai Shotgun is like a mini revolution. Their latest single, “Eye See Red,” is a powder keg of punk rock and hip-hop. Frontman Mateo shreds the notion of civility with a call to “clap back tenfold” at white supremacy. DJ Qeys continues to bring some of the best scratch work to ever share the stage with a distorted guitar, while the rhythm section keeps it anchored. “Eye See Red” is practically a manifesto. This is the shit you march in the streets shouting.


If you missed Samurai Shotgun at this weekend’s AFROPUNK Fest in Atlanta, here’s where you can see them next.

petite noir and danny brown make magic on “beach”

Petite Noir is an artist who take his time. Though it’s been three years since his last release, the debut album La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful (which itself was years in the making), “Beach” makes it clear that the wait was worth it. The South African artist born Yannick Ilunga calls his sound “noirwave,” a genre of one and utterly unmistakable. It is full of spacious guitars and synths, propulsive percussion (equally rooted in post-punk, hip-hop, and the diversity of his homeland’s traditions), and Illunga’s haunting voice drenched in reverb.

“Beach” features a guest verse from the Detroit MC and AFROPUNK fave Danny Brown, who transforms the vibe without taking it over. (The track also features a haunting vocal by new artist, Nukubi Nukubi.) It’s an unexpected collaboration, but their radically different energies compliment each other and bring out the best in each other. In short: “Beach” is like nothing else and it is everything.

“Beach” appears on the new visual EP La Maison Noir due out October 5th. Pre-order it via Bandcamp.

open mike eagle takes an ax to anxiety on “relatable”

Over the past decade, Open Mike Eagle has charted a course as among hip-hop’s preeminent chroniclers of tiny anxieties and micro aggressions. He is, in a word “relatable.” But where is the line between writing about the bullshit minutiae of daily life and being complicit in your own exploitation for the entertainment of others? That’s the question in his latest single, the masterfully meta-meta “Relatable (Peak OME).”

“Relatable” turns OME’s microscope back in on the Project Blowed MC and ends up with a hall of mirrors. Over a beat that’s both introspective and driving, he drives a wedge into the conflicts of his public persona. Lashing out at critics, interviewers, fair weather fans, and, most pointedly, himself, the song is focused one moment, and grapeshot the next. Like the best of Open Mike Eagle’s music, it’s a whirling inner monologue about trying to exist in the modern world—both peak OME and hella-relatable.

“Relatable (Peak OME)” is from Open Mike Eagle’s forthcoming What Happens When I Try to Relax.


rapper hassan wants to know ‘can i be black?’

West Coast MC Hassan Hamilton has been wooing crowds with his distinct flavor of humor-infused, punchline-packed rhymes since the tender age of 13. The rapper distinguishes himself from the pack through his willingness to verbally go where no MC has gone before, illustrated by his latest single “Can I Be Black.” The looping old-school hip-hop beat plays second-fiddle to Hassan’s socially commentary rap that poses questions like “Can I be Black and throw a barbecue in the park, go for a swim and maybe sell some water when it gets hot?”


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🚨HERE IT IS🚨 I’m back with arguably one of the most important songs I’ve ever written and recorded!! Everyday it seems more and more evident that it’s almost against the law to be Black in this country. Whether we’re getting harrassed and having the cops called on us by complete strangers while minding our business, the constant police brutality, the stereotypes, the economic disparity, and the complaining from the opposition whenever we protest social injustice and inequality, you name it.. it almost seems like we can’t exist in our skin anymore. And I wanna know why? Produced by the lovely and talented Queen of Northtown, @amyvoorhees, I finally decided 2 ask the question that myself and millions of others in this nation would like 2 know.. CAN I BE BLACK? Like, share, hate it, debate, do what you feel. But most importantly, listen!!! LINK IN BIO!! Available on other streaming services as well!! #RapIsFun #fatblackandawesome #AmyVoorhees #DTLV #northtown #tradevoorhees #canibeblack #blackexcellence #love2all #fuckracism #HipHop #instamusic #indie #diy #supportlocalart #supportlocalmusic #instagood #instadaily

A post shared by Hassan Hamilton (@hassanhiphop) on Aug 27, 2018 at 12:27pm PDT

Hassan weaves through the Black experience in America in each verse, filling each bar with realities relating to colorism, police brutality, anti-black media coverage and the harmful stereotypes that feed into systemic oppression. “Too independent to be liberal, to dark to be conservative” is the perspective that Hassan raps from, offering his views on the importance of who sits in the White House as well as Black-on-Black violence.

The song is 3 minutes and 21 seconds of hand-waving, finger-snapping truth, leaving us with one burning question:

Can we be Black?

Can I be Black? by Hassan

trumpeter ambrose akinmusire + kool a.d. go deep

There’s a lot going on in “a blooming bloodfruit in a hoodie,” the first piece released from trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire upcoming album, Origami Harvest. There’s the interplay between pianist Sam Harris and the strings of New York’s Mivos Quartet, that might make you wonder what sort of new-music ish you stepped into. There’s an insistent, spiritual groove courtesy of Marcus Gilmore‘s drums, and Akinmusire’s horn, which at times sounds pliant as a sheet of wind and at others, rides the rhythm. And in the center, there’s grand verse from Kool A.D., once of bratty rap crew, Das Racist, sounding eloquent and poetic, trying to balance a lot of non-jokey stuff while still having fun. Often all these things happen at once. The result is beautiful and heavy—which is not unexpected for a track named in recognition of Trayvon Martin‘s murder by the coward, George Zimmerman.

“a blooming bloodfruit in a hoodie” is the opener on Origami Harvest, an album that has all the making of a masterwork from the musician best known by heads for his trumpet’s graceful lines on Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly closer, “Mortal Man.” This one too has the feel of a personal epic, and Akinmusire says much. “Origami refers to the different ways black people, especially men, have to fold, whether in failure or to fit a mold. Then I had a son while writing this and I thought about these cycles repeating: Harvest.”

The Oakland-born trumpeter says that the album came out of a question posed by Judd Greenstein, who runs of experimental Ecstatic Music Festival in New York: “What’s the craziest idea you have?” Akinmusire replied that he “wanted to do a project about extremes and putting things that are seemingly opposite right next to each other.

“I was thinking a lot about the masculine and the feminine,” he continues. “High and low art. Free improvisation versus controlled calculation. American ghettos and American affluence. Originally, I thought I put them all so close together that it would highlight the fact that there isn’t as much space between these supposed extremes as we thought, but I don’t know if that’s actually the conclusion of it.”

Ambrose Akinmusire’s Origami Harvest is coming out on Blue Note on October 12th.

new shabazz palaces film returns to ‘quazarz’

Though the Shabazz Palaces’ ground-breaking albums, Quazarz Vs. The Jealous Machines and Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star are now over a year old, they continue to be a source of great creativity for America’s pre-eminent hip-hop afro-futurists, and for their Black Constellation collective.

Exhibit A is this new film by Nep Sidhu made around the Jealous Machines closer, “Quazarz on 23rd,” and a sequel to last year’s film for “Welcome To Quazarz.” According to the Toronto-based, multi-disciplinary artist, the loose narrative is about  “A Being from the Quazarz [who] rises from the Black Constellation System Scramble ® but still finds himself lost tonally and sonically amidst earth’s recent offerings. In receiving Bhai Vir Singh’s response, by way of a familiar female form, he journeys to ready himself to meet her on H.E.R. terms, by way of cleanliness, and a non-deity based ritual. Far from superstition, this is a ceremony that has no place for fake cathartic release. An indigo drenched reflection in drum awaits his understanding of himself.” Got that?

“Quazarz on 23rd” features Michael Singh (in the role of “The Soul”) and Allix Thompson (as “Mother Nature”). It includes work by Michael Reynolds (editing and analog optics); Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Noel Chaput, and Reynolds (VHS cinematography); and Alex McLeod (animation).

Exhibit B is a sculpture/pinball machine: On September 22nd, Sidhu will be unveiling new work at the grand opening of Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Art‘s first exhibit “Believe.” For Shabazz Palaces/Black Constellation stans, among is a Palaces-inspired “Quazarz Pinball Machine w/ Leisure & Surveillance Enhancement Console” (pictured above). “Believe” is scheduled to be up through January.

new jpegmafia video salutes baltimore’s bell foundry

It’s always a good day when there’s new shit from JPEGMAFIA. The new video for “1539 N. Calvert” is part requiem for legendary Baltimore music hub, The Bell Foundry, and part celebration of the community that grew there. The space was shuttered in 2016, with the city disrupting a vital hub of Baltimore’s music community. It’s a song and video that stand on their own, as well as a reminder that these spaces are lifeblood, and their loss is irreplaceable.

It can be impossible to put into words what spaces like The Bell Foundry mean to the crew of misfits that call those spaces home, something fragile and life-giving. JPEGMAFIA puts it like this: “The Bell Foundry doesn’t exist anymore but no one who was a part of the community there will ever forget it. This video is the best recreation of what we experienced there, but in reality, there is no way to convey that on screen, I wish I could put what I feel for The Bell into words but I’m not that smart I guess.”

JPEGMAFIA is headed on the road on a decolonizing Reverse Christopher Columbus Tour. Dates and tickets are at

kaytranada and mick jenkins unleash “delicate flows under heavy metal bars” in new single

Mick Jenkins is building all kinds of anticipation for his coming album ‘Pieces Of A Man’ with Kaytranada-produced track ‘What Am I To Do’. Kaytranada gives classic soul, new life with his off-kilter rhythmic experimentation, giving Jenkins an old-school flair to compliment his smooth yet powerful flow.

“Because I’ll be screaming black, they’ll beat me to blue,” is just one of the hard-hitting lines dropped by Jenkins. The easy brilliance of the flow paired with gripping punchlines displays a symbiosis between the musical pair that makes this track feel effortless.

interview: lighting the spark of revolution, rapper bobby sessions tries to change the world with a record

As long as there’s been an underground and a mainstream, the trajectory for most underground artists has been to tone it down once they finally reach the big stage. But Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions isn’t most artists. On his Def Jam debut, he doubles down with a powerful, dense, political record. The unwieldily titled RVLTN (Chapter 1): The Divided States of AmeriKKKa is an uncompromising heavy record that looks back to the golden era of political hip-hop with a new fire. We recently spoke to Sessions about the revolution and RVLTN and how political music keeps the fire burning.

This a pretty big departure for you from your previous records. Was there an event or a moment when you realized this new record needs to be a lot harder and a lot more incisive than you’ve been before?

There wasn’t an individual or specific moment that I can pinpoint, that’s just the nature of the records we were crafting at the time. I’ve had similar content in the past, but sonically the music needed to match the content. And I wanted to make sure we did it this time around now that I have this new platform.

I feel like it’s pretty unheard that an artist gets signed to a larger label like Def Jam and then changes their sound to be less pop and more aggressive. Did the label back you or did you have to sell them on the idea?

We went into the new year with a plan, and we explained our plan and they were with it completely. I’m real big on clarity. I think artists could have more freedom to do this if they had a clear, concise vision for what path they wanted to take. We explained very clearly what we wanted to do. We felt that it fits into what Def Jam has always been. They put out acts like Public Enemy. They were on a similar path that I’m on, and we just felt like it made a lot of sense.

What did you say to them to convince them that “I know you signed me with Grateful but I want to do something harder?”

We said “this is the vision.” The art needs to reflect the times. I’m not in the business of complaining about other artists not speaking on certain things when I have the opportunity to do so and I think this makes a lot of sense with what Def Jam has always been, and they said “cool let’s go.”

You had put out “Black Neighborhood” before on LOA. What was behind the decision to bring that back?

We felt like the record is a timeless record. And now that we have a bigger audience and a new platform this was the time to re-release that record and introduce that song to a lot of new listeners.

How did the relationship with Killer Mike come about?

My manager J Dot Jones had a personal connection with Killer Mike and his team. We knew that he wanted to make this move for quite some time. But we wanted to make sure that the timing was right, and everything was good with the universe. A few months ago that timing lined up and it was amazing experience to see him come in to the studio do an interview upstairs, finish the interview write his verse in his head on the spot, and then perform at American airlines center right after that. Very honored that he would bless my record.

When a lot of people record political music, it tends to be a little generic, or at least non-specific. I think it’s really popular right now for an artist to record political-sounding music, but it’s not really about stuff. Maybe they throw in a “fuck Trump” or say “we” instead of “I” or something, but you listen to the track and it’s not really about issues the way that some of yours are. Do you go in with an idea in mind for what issues you want to tackle in a song?

Well, for all the music that is under my RVLTN series I take a look at society and I’m reporting the news. Hip-hop is not about tiptoeing or what you categorize as being generic. A lot of people are tiptoeing around issues, and when they speak out about something they kind of want to throw a stone and hide their hands. That’s not the era of hip-hop that I grew up listening to and I wanted to continue that tradition. I see a lot of things happening in society that are disturbing, and I’m reporting them and I’m being raw and uncut with how I deliver that news. And RVLTN is a space for me to get all those thoughts off and people understand the context of why they’re being said.

You talk about the era of hip-hop you grew up listening to. Who would you cite as your main influences?

My main influences overall are Jay Z, Eminem, Tupac, Kanye West, and Pharell. As far as speaking out about what’s happening—my social commentary side—I would say Tupac. He was very unapologetic with his opinions, he observed society and what he saw and he spoke about it freely. His message wasn’t watered down or censored for his own personal gain or an attempt to get some type of commercial success, and I want to treat art the same way.

Photo by Jeremy Biggers

When you talk about revolution what do you mean? What in your mind does that revolution look like?

It starts with taking the chains off your mind; the shackles between the ears. I think a lot of us are walking around like we’re free, but we’re still held back by our beliefs and our opinions about ourselves and what society can ultimately become. So the aggressive nature of this Chapter 1 is designed to get you shook; designed to get you disturbed or angry or happy—whatever emotion it needs to be—but an extreme one to get your mind moving and you decide for yourself how serious are you about making a change internally. How serious are you about improving your community, about speaking out about the wrong things about your community, and highlighting the good things in your community, and what are we gonna o to fix those things.

For me I’m using my platform I’m going out in the community, and talking to the kids; letting them know that despite all of these things you can still be successful. But we have to be honest and not think that if we ignore all of these problems that they’re gonna magically go away. They’re not gonna go away. In fact, they’re gonna keep spreading. So I’m stopping the bleeding before it continues to spread and I want to inspire everybody to get up and do something about it. There’s only so much I can do as an individual. But if all of us individually make the effort to make the world a better place then collectively we can get the job done.

On the record you ask “what are you wiling to do?” What do you see as the steps that need to be taken in order to move forward to a more just society?

I think the first step is honesty—and unfiltered truth. We need to be honest that a lot of us live in bubbles. Most of us only know about hat’s going on next to us. So we have to be honest that people live a different reality outside of my bubble—outside of the bubble that I’m currently living in. And the next step is to have honest unfiltered conversations between people from different bubbles so we can really educate ourselves about what’s going on in all of these different realities. And step 3 is take action. Whether that’s us educating ourselves on our history on the good and bad of our history to see what good things from our history we can build on in the future, and what negative things we need to erase. And step 4 would be persistence; to make sure all of us have the right habits of how we treat people and how we exist with one another. And then I think the job will complete itself at that point.

You describe the record as Chapter 1 in a series, where do you see the next chapters heading?

I can’t reveal that part! But Chapter 1: The Divided States of AmeriKKKa is about identifying what the problem is and then once we get into Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 you’ll see more story lines evolve. The tones will change. Every chapter won’t be the same. This Chapter 1 is me letting out that rage that a lot of us have suppressed for almost 500 years, and identifying exactly what the problem is. People have to stay tuned to the series once you get into Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 to see what messages you have to pull from and the story down the line.

As an artist that makes work that’s explicitly political, what do you think is your obligation to the activist world?

I feel like it’s not every artist’s responsibility because there’s different ways we all can contribute to the revolution, so to speak. As an artist, if you are capable of speaking out on these issues, you have a responsibility to do so. Thinking about the last 40 to 50 years, the revolution has always had a soundtrack. There’s always been a soundtrack to it. Music has been a great way to introduce people to politics and to being aware of what’s going on in society. Everybody doesn’t watch the news. People don’t want to go to seminars and conferences, so music is that first step.

If I can get you bobbing your head and get you thinking about things that you never think about—or didn’t even hear about—then that could spark you to start researching more about what’s going on in your community. It could spark you to start educating yourself about the history of this country and why things are fucked up. We know things are fucked up, but a lot of times we don’t know why. And music is just that nudge to get you interested in the idea of being aware of what’s going on; being socially conscious. I think that’s the relationship that music has with activism.

There’s a lot of things in my life where I wasn’t interested in learning about them until I heard it in a song. That’s why so many kids say “we were raised by Jay Z” because Jay Z taught us this lesson or that lesson even though we’re going for the entertainment of the song. I think I have the ability to make political songs or socially aware songs entertaining. So to not make that music is disrespectful to my community and disrespectful to my gift.

You talk about how the revolution has always had a soundtrack, which I absolutely fundamentally agree with. What would you say are your top 5 songs of that soundtrack? Like if you’re making a mixtape for the revolution what would you put on it?

That’s a great question. I would go “Fight the Power,” Public Enemy. “Alright” by Kendrick. “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” from James Brown. “Fuck Tha Police” NWA. And my “Politics” record off Chapter 1.

That’s a bold move to put yourself on that list!

Haha yeah. I had to throw that in there.

Is there anything else you want people to know about what you got going on or what’s coming up?

Just to stream my latest EP, RVLTN: Chapter 1, and be on the look out for following chapters down the line.

a bombastic mix of distorted bass & drums drives alt. hip-hop trio’s house of whales new single “colors”

Chicago’s House of Whales 2014 self-titled record has remained in steady rotation over here. It was a bombastic mix of distorted bass, driving drums, and frontman Rico Sisney’s hard-hitting vocals that demanded attention.
4 years later and Sisney is back with a radical new direction for the band and a new line-up. Though the jagged edges of the band’s debut have been replaced by infectious synths and a joyous horn section, Sisney remains a force behind the mic. This latest single is a summertime ode to Chicago, destined to be played loud wherever cool drinks are in supply. “Colors” prominently features Chicago scene mainstays like a guest verse from ShowYouSuck and Sidewalk Chalk’s Horn Bread, as the band tries to flip the narrative on their hometown to a celebration of Chicago’s beauty and vibrant creative life. Check it out below, and stay tuned for more from House of Whales coming soon.