Austin hip-hop

What does a good album rollout look like today?

Most artists can’t just drop a surprise record, so Confucius and Fresh review press strategies for making a bigger album impact before discussing why the majority of blog site era rappers never made it. Hear that, an Unpopular Opinion on New Edition’s Ralph Tresvant, plus Hip-Hop Facts and the most recent headlines.

Will Austin blow up because of Rap & R&B?

In this edition, Confucius and Fresh debate what genres will continue to put Austin on the musical map before discussing why the South in general is so dominant. Get that, Hip-Hop Facts, Confucius’ reaction to the latest headlines, and an Unpopular Opinion on lyrical positivity in the latest episode.

Do Ghostwriting Allegations Hurt Drake’s Reputation?

With the big beef behind us, how do ghostwriting allegations hurt Drake’s status among the GOATs? Hear what Confucius and Fresh have to say on that, plus Jay Electronica’s prospects on being the greatest rapper that never was and an Unpopular Opinion The Alchemist’s ranking in the world of production.

Has Hip-Hop done a good job of making women feel safe?

After reacting to Apple Music’s recent “100 Best Albums” list, Pause/Play producer and co-host Miles Bloxson joins Confucius and Fresh to talk women’s safety in a genre once run by abusers. Catch that alongside Hip-Hop Facts and Confucius Reads the News, plus an Unpopular Opinion on the modern equivalent to What’s Going On? in this episode.

When Did R&B and Hip-Hop Become One?

After a quick postmortem on the Drake-Kendrick beef, Confucius and Fresh dissect how R&B crept into Hip-Hop’s sonic sector. Get that, an Unpopular Opinion around Kendrick’s de facto influence on the West Coast’s relevance, plus Hip-Hop Facts and Confucius’ reactions to the latest headlines right here.

How Important is Weed to Rap?

Over the 4/20 weekend Confucius and Fresh hash out marijuana’s impact on hip-hop, the latest shots against Drake, and why the OGs aren’t always right. Hear that along with Hip-Hop Facts and Confucius’ take on the latest headlines.

J. Cole’s Apology /  Kendrick vs. Drake

It’s a two-parter of Kendrick Lamar clashes: J. Cole’s public apology and Drake’s ongoing affronts. Hear how Confucius and Fresh feel about the beef, Hip-Hop Facts, the latest headlines, and an Unpopular Opinion on hip-hop’s “health”.

Faaris: “Taken Not Given”

As our ever-evolving hip-hop scene steadily expands, so does the representation of nations, cultures, and identities from its contributors. And for some truly refreshing cross-cultural flavors that have made their way into the ATX hip-hop melting pot, look no further than Faaris.

Brought up in a Pakistani household right here in Austin, Faaris brings a perspective not often recognized here in Central Texas. In the short time since he’s been making a name for himself (dating back to just 2021), Faaris has shown a skillful strive for variety, as heard on his 2023 LP Change of Scenery. But his standalone singles are what have propelled Faaris’ collective streaming numbers into the millions.

And this weekend we’re getting what’ll probably turn into another streaming heavyweight. Almost picking up where Britney Spears’ “Toxic” left off (sans mainstream appropriation), “Taken Not Given” puts a more authentic voice over those South Asian strings and Drum and Bass-style beat. Besides being an absolute banger, the lyrical braggadocio of “Taken Not Given” grounds itself in a clarion call for the historically conservative creatives of India and Pakistan to get with a more progressive program. And at just shy of two minutes, “Taken Not Given” begs for several repeat listens, no matter what tribe you call your own.

The Drake-Future Feud / Sex Appeal

Confucius and Fresh cover the latest rap beef before weighing the importance of sex appeal in the modern era. Hear that, Hip-Hop Facts, Confucius Reads the News, and an Unpopular Opinion on industry politics.

SXSW Plans / The Hard Early ’00s

Find out what Confucius, Fresh, and KUTX have coming up for SXSW and decide whether or not Nelly’s first three albums came up in the “hardest’ era. And in between Hip-Hop Facts and Confucius Reads the News, feathers get ruffled with Fresh’s Unpopular Opinion around the recent wave of women in rap.

Act II: Album of the Year? / Rappers in Politics

Will Beyoncé’s upcoming Act II score the Queen her first “Album of the Year” Grammy? What role should rappers play in political discussions? And does Houston need to share more of its legacy with the rest of Texas’ hip-hop hubs? Find out what Confucius and Fresh have to say in this latest episode.

Sweet Limb: “Meditate” (feat. Norman BA$E)

No matter how talented an individual vocalist is, the addition of live instrumentation can really elevate a performance to the upper tier. Like can you imagine if Rage Against the Machine was just De La Rocha spitting over pre-recorded tracks with a DJ instead of their legendary full-band energy? Us neither.

So we’re not really going out on a limb when we say that Austin four-piece Sweet Limb has a pretty swell thing going for them. The project started off over a decade back as a solo outlet for singer/rapper Chris Robinson but really took off post-COVID when Sweet Limb branched out to include bass, drums, and keys. Thanks to Robinson’s seasoned Frank Ocean-esque verbal skills, killer grooves that fuse multiple styles, plus the intentionality of their arrangements and proven understanding of dynamics in live settings that’s gotta pull plenty of new listeners, Sweet Limb’s been getting some admirable streaming traction just from releases over the past couple months alone.

Well, just in time for a few unofficial SXSW appearances over the next week (this Sunday afternoon at LuxeArt Agency, next Monday at Coconut Club, and next Thursday at Full Circle Bar) Sweet Limb released their first full-length Thank You For Not Snitching last Friday. Clocking in at a hair under half an hour, Thank You For Not Snitching packs ten tracks of black talent you’ll wanna tell everyone about, made in collaboration with local scenesters like KUTX favorites Ben Buck, Breadcouch, and Norman BA$E, who lends his production chops to the LOW KEY EP holdover “Meditate”. Like an alternate Persona 5 composition recut to capture a jazzy, placid Austin aesthetic, “Meditate” is a great way to clear the mind going into another work week on the verge of South By.

Officially the Best Radio Show

After so many consecutive nominations, Confucius and Fresh reflect on their first ever ‘Best Radio Show’ Austin Music Award before discussing why longtime Austinites are jaded to good opportunities. And in between Hip-Hop Facts and Confucius Reads the News, Fresh dishes a particularly Unpopular Opinion on why the music industry actually doesn’t need to change.

Free Hamze: “nothing4granted” (prod. Sekko)

Valentine’s Day’s not just for the couples. No, there’s an extensive list of local events offering RSVPs to love fools, lonely hearts and relationship-skippers alike. Among that full house of options? Austin’s very own Free Hamze.

Originally enticed into the genre by the Arabic incorporations of Mos Def and Lupe Fiasco (and the early/mid-2000s sound they helped proliferate), this Lebanese-born rapper’s really been blazing up an electic reputation since releasing his debut record Green Alchemy back in Summer 2022. Aside from his sword-surpassing penmanship and complex flow cadences, Free Hamze’s also somewhat of a bleeding heart, having founded the pro bono endeavor Sahar Studios and begun developing a 40-acre sustainable desert community. And while music is unmistakably Free Hamze’s brightest guiding light, principles of relentless liberation, of (true to his handle) freedom in any form, definitely inform Free’s impressive drive, which continued last winter with FREETAPE 3: Survival of the Realest.

So if you’re already falling in love with the idea of feeling Free Hamze’s heat tomorrow night, make it a date and drop by Electric Lounge 7PM then – followed by Kizzy Zeniba at 8 and Space Goonz at 9. But if you’d rather stay home and feel too cool for this Hallmark holiday, sub out a bottle of prosecco with a fresh production from Sekko that came out last Friday, nothing4granted. Hazy guitar chords, sensually subtle drums, and laid back lyrical triplets steal the show on this new sentimental standalone, one that easily elevates Free Hamze over the cookie cutter “mumble rap” slurs of his contemporaries.

The 2024 Grammys / Professional DMs

Confucius and Fresh recap their likes and dislikes of The Grammys and break down how to best approach them for music consideration. You’ll hear some great Hip-Hop Facts, fun takes when Confucius Reads the News, and an Unpopular Opinion about the impact of media inspired by the 2005 film Havoc.

Breadcouch: “WAIT” (feat. Ben Buck)

We’re struggling to find the exact quote, so maybe we just imagined it, but we’re pretty sure Notorious B.I.G. said something along the lines of, “Ready to Die was 10% skill and 90% the chronic”, alluding to his lauded lyricism. And while we don’t advocate for substance use as a sole source of inspiration, we do appreciate how much a quick smoke session can convince a lyricist to get comfortable and let the beat play as long as it needs. Because when an un-rushed set of free-association bars have spent enough time in the oven, they often come out hotter and fresher than your run-of-the-mill one-take freestyle.

That brings us to Austin’s Breadcouch, who’s been baking his eccentric brand of alternative hip-hop/R&B since 2020. The multi-genre fusion of Breadcouch’s boundary-less beats really lends itself to the versatility of his vocals, which switch between rapping and singing for evenly-toasted slices of bedroom soul-pop, electronica, trap, boom bap, and even indie rock, all from the same, surprisingly-cohesive loaf. And although you could sample a few brief crumbs from Breadcouch’s expansive catalogue and label his style as “wordy” or “busy”, we respect the grains of brevity that Breadcouch brings to his hooks.

Case in point: a new tune featuring fellow Austin rapper-producer Ben Buck, “WAIT”. They’ll both be performing at Hole in the Wall tonight for the Speaker Bump Social, so smoke ’em if you got ’em, and let the hazy wordplay, sativa-scented samples, blunt-ready bass, and doja-derived drums of “WAIT” whisk you through this showery Wednesday.

2024: Year of the Austin Breakthrough?

Confucius and Fresh kick this week off by weighing the odds of an Austin hip-hop/R&B artist breaking out into the national mainstream before tackling the latest from everyone’s favorite controversy-maker – Lil Nas X. Get all that, Hip-Hop Facts, an Unpopular Opinion about hip-hop’s hatred of Drake, and Confucius Reads the News in this edition.

Ranking Wu-Tang’s Solo Albums

After a quick back-and-forth about musician work ethic versus entitlement here in Austin, Confucius and Fresh honor Raekwon’s 54th birthday by ranking the first run of solo albums from Wu-Tang clan members. Hear that, Hip-Hop Facts, Fresh’s Unpopular Opinion on the state of integrity in hip-hop journalism, and the first installment of Confucius Reads the News for 2024.

Retr0grade: “No Hook, No Name” (feat. BoomBaptist)

From Scott Storch to Mike Dean, The Alchemist to Murda Beatz, and far too many more examples to list here, it’s clear that having a white producer doesn’t negate the impact of a strong black voice in hip-hop. Here in Austin we can point to Song of the Day favorite RuDi Devino, who’s spread his butter-smooth bars over Ruler Why’s beats in SubKulture Patriots, Bronze Whale’s backing tracks in 5-D, and the P. Sugz/Potion productions of CAPYAC.

But aside from a few solo installments, one of RuDi’s biggest roles recently has been as the vocal half of synth-and-sample-driven duo Retr0grade. True to their handle, Retr0grade isn’t strictly stuck in the old school; instead it’s more of an ever-moving, modern hearkening back to some iconic hip-hop heyday sounds. And when it comes to that combo of classic and contemporary, of synthesized and sampled, of instrumental and vocal, those who’ve stayed in the loop on local productions know damn well that BoomBaptist is a comparable curator.

Well, just in time for this chilly MLK Day, Retr0grade groove grower Tommy Fuego just laid down some much-appreciated heat with the piping-hot sample chops and hypnotic drum programming we’ve come to love from him. For the first verse of “No Hook, No Name” RuDi tackles the offense, defies Nazi flags, and ultimately aces the interview with a Common-evocative cadence before BoomBaptist blesses the second half with his own tabernacle of lyrical boasts. It might not be the most societally-minded song you’ll hear today, but we’d like to think Dr. King would agree that this brief, bangin’ snapshot of racial harmony rips heartily.