Hip Hop

Cha’Keeta B Interview

The fun kicks off this week on an interview with Austin’s Cha’Keeta B to talk women in hip-hop and her upcoming EP Where the Wild Flowers Grow. After that Confucius and Fresh talk about  accountability when it comes to violence against women in music, the baffling ambassadorship of Lil Yachty, and more.

Click-Clack: “Welcome To Texas”

By design, the world of hip-hop is full of braggadocious personalities. But even the most prolific boasters can get tripped up by a perfectionist approach. Take for instance Austin rapper-producer-brandmaker Eric Mikulak, better known by his creative handle Click-Clack. Back in the early 2010s, alongside his role as frontman for rap-rock outfit Karmatron, Click-Clack used to crank out tracks nonstop from his home studio, sometimes writing, producing, and recording up to three tunes from scratch in a night. And the scorpio that he is, there’d typically be a roisterous social media presence before and after each new single release. Of course, as the genre’s evolved over time, Mikulak’s only matured, and it’s safe to say that making hip-hop entirely on his own is no longer a challenge. So while the confidence is rightfully still there, Click-Clack’s shifted focus towards fine-tuned, full-length collaborations with a rolodex of producers from across the globe, and entrusted mixing-mastering duties to other industry pros. As a matter of fact, Click-Clack just shared his second LP of the year, Hypercritical, last Friday. At just shy of a dozen tunes, Hypercritical offers yet another candid look into Mikulak’s complicated mind, flaws, insecurities, and all. Seven of the eleven enroll at least two outside producers in a sprawling sonic tapestry draped behind Click-Clack’s idiosyncratic verbal formulas, including “Welcome To Texas”, which enlists olly and fr4ud for a two-minute chop-heavy chipmunk soul masterpiece.

Tribe Mafia: “Take Me” (feat. Erik Goca)

It’s beyond satisfying to hear a homegrown Austin artist not just outside the local city limits, but in a piece of media that gets global reach. And while it may be impossible to top White Denim in the official Nintendo Switch trailer, we gotta give it up to Tribe Mafia for their recent induction into the world of film. Following a formidable debut in 2016, this Austin-based hip-hop/R&B duo’s dropped at least an EP’s worth of singles each year, save for an understandable lull between their March 2020 LP Teepee Gang and last Valentine’s Day’s “Sound of a Heartbreak”. But now, on the other side of the pandemic, Tribe Mafia’s once again in tip-top shape and sharing their gifts at an impressive rate. And it’s not just a matter of quantity over quality; no, these songs could only be sourced from two well-seasoned sonic shaman. And there’s proof in the pudding! One of Tribe Mafia’s latest and greatest found its way not only into the trailer for My Partner, but as an emotional centerpiece of this groundbreaking queer artistic accomplishment. So even if you haven’t seen My Partner yet, if you take a minute to sit black, close your eyes, and let the Erik Goca-featuring “Take Me” paint a picture behind your eyes, you’ll quickly pick up on its intrinsically provocative cinematic pop character, not unlike Swae Lee and Post Malone’s Spiderverse “Sunflower”.

Daniel Fears: “Say Something”

Here at KUTX and Song of the Day, we try to be as dutiful as we can in providing both an accurate representation of the Austin Music Experience and great tunes. But honestly, all talent aside, for some local artists we often have to dig around to find something that’s actually airwave worthy. Daniel Fears, on the other hand? He’s done a damn fine of delivering his fair share of bar-raising originals to Austin’s ever-growing musical accoutrements.

And that’s a big part of why we named him our July 2021 Artist of the Month, right around the release of his debut EP Canopy. Based on its towering soul-R&B-hip-hop caliber, Fears has understandably been flying high off of Canopy over the past couple years. Now that doesn’t mean downfall is in the cards for Daniel Fears anytime soon; no, the consistency of Fears’ artistic drive is still deafening to this day, even if his dynamics of choice are more subdued. Well, following a pair of standalones in 2022, and hot off a Mongolian tour providing brass for Gina Chavez’s band, Daniel Fears sets course clear of mediocrity once again with Enough.

As the title implies, Enough achieves an infectious equipoise of emotional vulnerability and seductive self-esteem thanks to Fears’ faultless falsetto, kaleidoscope of sonic influences, and recognizable calling card of production techniques. On Enough‘s lead single, “Say Something”, there are some clever threads ranging from D’Angelo, Sly Stone, Bobby Womack and even Musiqsoulchild in its final moments, none of which could’ve landed if not for Fears’ top tier backing band. Between a liquid guitar groove, spacious snaps, hypnotic bass, atmospheric keys, and of course, Daniel’s Frank Ocean-esque vocals, safe to assume “Say Something” may just leave you speechless.

Hip-Hop’s Golden Age?

Confucius and Fresh talk to Austin hip-hop pioneer Tee-Double about his career and how it feels to be one of the honorees at The Austin Hip-Hop Awards Sunday, September 17th from 2pm-5pm at the Austin Central Library.

Then they debate whether or not this is the golden age of hip-hop.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about why Cardi B’s verse didn’t end up on the final version of Ice Spice’s “Munch,” how LL Cool J and 50 Cent almost made an album together,  what the connection between Warren G And Pimp C is and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that Drake is a bit of a clout chaser.

Confucius talks about Mitt Romney’s announcement that he will not run for reelection, the release of El Chapo’s wife from prison and more on Confucius Reads the News

Did Capitalism Kill Hip-Hop?

Inspired by a recent article in Defector, Confucius and Fresh discuss the impact of capitalism on hip-hop. Then they talk about Puff Daddy’s decision to give Bad Boy artists their publishing back.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about who wrote Dr. Dre’s “The Watcher,” what Chamillionaire and Paul Wall did before they were famous, the connection between Shaq and UGK, and more.

Fresh States the Unpopular Opinion that Mac Miller’s 2016 Divine Feminine album was the album that Drake should have made that year.

Confucius talks about Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s divorce, the push in Texas to criminalize traveling to get an abortion, the Ken Paxton Trial and more on Confucius Reads the News.

United We Stand?

Confucius and Fresh talk to Austin R&B artist Mélat about her new music, her experience in the Austin music scene, he collaboration with Austin FC, and how she ended up singing with Matthew McConaughey. Then they discuss how united the hip-hop community is in Austin.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about the connection between New Edition and Eddie Murphy, why Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” track listing kept changing, why there’s no video for Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn’s Finest” and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that Chad Hugo is the unsung hero — as opposed to the real genius — of the Neptunes.

Confucius talks about last week’s racially motivated shooting in Jacksonville, Mitch McConnel freezing at a press conference,   and more in Confucius Reads the News.

 

 

Hot Boys and Girls

Fresh and Confucius talk about the impact that this year’s record heat is having on live music in Austin. Then, inspired by Asian Doll’s comments about not wanting to rap at 30, they debate the merits of older rappers.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about how Andre 3000 lived in Austin, why Dr. Dre turned down opportunities to work with Michael Jackson and Prince, what Missy Elliot song contains Beyoncé’s first solo outing and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that people don’t actually separate the art from the artists, but instead just decide what bad behavior they will or won’t tolerate.

Confucius talks about Trump’s mug shot,  the recent Republican Party presidential debate, the Biden Administration’s new student loan repayment plan, and more.

Examining the skills gap in a post-pandemic workforce

Border Patrol agents say Texas efforts to address migration are disrupting their work. Troopers say complaints are overblown.

We’ll have an update on the state’s wildfire risk as the dangerous pattern of hot and dry conditions continues.

How one Texas school district spent the the summer addressing safety concerns.

Reports of a concerning trend in the workforce: new employees that just aren’t ready to do the job.

There’s bipartisan support for rolling back some environmental regulations to speed up the production of U.S.-made semiconductors.

And we’ll hear from Kiana Fitzgerald, author of the new book “Ode to Hip-Hop: 50 Albums That Define 50 Years of Trailblazing Music.”

Jump On It!

Confucius and Fresh talk to Austin Hip-Hop artist and activist NOOK Turner about Jump On It Week,  July 30-August 6th.

Then they discuss what support looks like for black endeavors in Austin.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about how Bun-B feels about Jay-Z using his bars in 99 Problems, How DJ Screw’s mom inspired him to sell mix tapes, what happened when Sinéad O’Connor featured MC Lyte on a song, and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that Lil Baby is overhyped.

Confucius talks about the recent confirmation that the US Government has alien biologics, Mitch McConnel freezing during a press conference, chaos in the DeSantis campaign, and more in Confucius Reads the News.

RDC World talks Dream Con

Confucius and Fresh talk to Mark and John from RDC World about Dream Con, the anime and gaming convention they’re throwing  July 28-30 at the Austin Convention Center.

They also talk about why hip-hop artists like Lil Baby and Lil Durk are canceling their tours lately.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about how Webby, not Plies, was the original artist on “Shawty,” the real reason Ice Cube left NWA, why George Clinton was inspired to write Atomic Dog, and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that Wale is the most underrated rapper of a generation.

 

 

 

Grace Sorenson Speaks!

Fresh and Confucius talk to Austin R&B singer-songwriter  Grace Sorenson about why she got into music, what it’s been like to work with BLK ODDYSY, and what she has on the horizon. Grace will be playing KUTX Summer Jam on Friday, July 21st at Stubbs Indoors as part of Hot Summer Nights.

They also discuss a comment Kee from Austin’s Wave Tribe made on Fresh’s show New Fresh City show — the idea that Austin doesn’t have the culture to back up a street rap scene.

You’ll also hear Hip-Hop What Ifs about what if Lil’ Wayne had left Cash Money early on, what if 50 Cent had never been shot, and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that 6lack has not made a good album since Free 6lack.

Confucius talks about the SAG-AFTRA strike, Ron DeSantis poll numbers, Tom Brady and Kim Kardashian’s romance, and more on Confucius Reads the News.

Velvet Rut (Austin, Texas) (prod. Karavelo)

Austin brands itself as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and for damn good reason; think about the thousands of players who fill our hundreds of event spaces over the course of any given month. But that artist multiplicity and venue ubiquity entirely within our city limits actually makes breaking out of the ATX “bubble” and gaining traction in other locations extremely difficult, even for those who’ve built reputations as tireless performers and songwriters.

Take for instance an outspoken member from one of Austin’s most fruitful family dynasties, Ben Buck. As a creatively voracious rapper/producer/beatboxer/cassette presser/event coordinator who’s been a major staple of Austin’s hip-hop scene for the past decade (who recently earned his own official day this past April), Ben’s bucked around long enough to find out that all that hard work does make him a god in the eyes and ears of locals, but unfortunately not too far beyond that. But for someone who clearly gets their biggest highs from gripping the mic on their favorite stage instead of staying at home and losing sleep over unsatisfactory streaming traction, this young Buck still excels when things are in his own hands.

Case in point: the Ben Buck Birthday Bash 7PM-2AM happening tomorrow night at The 13th Floor, featuring a hand-picked lineup of wholesome friends and heavy-hitting collaborators. The show precedes Ben’s next LP, The Back Burner ’23, a nine-song joint effort between Buck and sample-based beatmakers ranging from Austin’s Butcher Bear to New York legend Statik Selektah, plus two remixes of the album opener. Overall The Back Burner ’23 scorches with a gritty old school feel whose varied influences can be traced to all three coasts. On top of its status as one of the most poignantly honest songs written about the Austin scene we’ve ever heard, “Velvet Rut (Austin, Texas)” totes bemoaning homegrown references, a pensive vibraphone instrumental from Vancouver producer Karavelo, and a mellow-yet-aggressive verbal flow that’ll make you wanna blasts past the stanchions and blaze up the second you’re indoors.

Shout Out to the Women

Confucius and Fresh debate whether or not women are saving New York rap, and try and figure out if hip-hop fashion is better now than it was in the past.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about what R&B girl group passed on the Britney Spears hit “Baby One More Time,” the time Lloyd Banks almost signed with Kanye’s “Good Music” label, what Case is really saying at the end of “Missing You” and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that artists actually do need exposure.

Confucius talks about the Sriracha shortage, the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action, and the implosion of the Ttan submersible on Confucius Reads the News.

 

Blakchyl: “White Tee Shirt”

Among the many lessons we’ve learned from classic rock history, something that stands out against to current trends is the polarity of solo offshoots. Ozzy’s exit created flak within Black Sabbath’s massive fandom, David Lee Roth’s departure from Van Halen led to the havoc of Van Hagar, and Sting’s egress from The Police still hurts for some. But aside from the occasional social media beef, most hip-hop heads will turn their heads with eager ears to hear a contributor to a beloved collective break out on their own – even if it’s just to assess their intrinsic talent. On top of that, Austin’s rap scene plays less of a cutthroat competition and more of a supportive cohort. So imagine the excitement that was spurred at the start of 2019 – two years after Austin outfit Mindz of a Different Kind shared their last LP BORDERLINEZ – when MDK heavy-hitter BLakchyl dropped her debut EP On Paper. BLakchyl followed it up that same fall with the Tåsi collaboration East 10th before graduating up to her feature-laden full-length H02d in the pandemic’s early days. Last October BLakchyl introduced us to yet another collabo – this one with Nez Tha Villain – entitled G.E.N.I.U.S.. Throughout it all, MDK’s been close by and more than willing to hop in-studio with BLakchyl, no matter that it’s technically outside the ensemble’s umbrella. Today, as she continues to navigate the intersectionality of Queer Black womanhood in Central Texas, BLakchyl boldly steps into the world of singing with her sophomore solo EP Call me sometimes. This ambitious album precedes a live appearance 5PM next Wednesday at Waterloo Records for THE DROP and what we hope is the next big springboard in BLakchyl’s still-burgeoning career. The brief, R&B-beveled brilliance of “White Tee Shirt”, whose fabric seamlessly stretches between autotuned hooks and breathy verses, at least earns BLakchyl some extra respectable stripes in this promising solo ascent.

No Austin Without Us

Confucius and Fresh talk to Jonathan “Chaka” Mahone about DAWA, the Black Live Music Fund, and the Sonik Frootz showcase at Antone’s.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about how ODB made it on Pras’ song “Ghetto Superstar,” the weird way Montel Jordan got signed to Def Jam, how Erykah Badu’s song “Honey” became a single, and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” is a very overrated song.

Confucius talks about the disappearance of the Titan submarine, the House of Representative’s vote to censure Adam Schiff and more on Confucius Reads the News

Culture Wars of Austin

Confucius and Fresh discuss why hip-hop and R&B don’t get the respect they deserve in Austin. Then they talk about the most important albums of the last 10 years.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about how Rihanna’s ANTI was almost produced by Travis Scott, what superhero Janet Jackson almost played, who Janet’s “Let’s Wait a While” was really about, and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that the Black Eyed Peas are the biggest sellouts in hip-hop.

Confucius talks about the Supreme Court’s decision that Alabama’s voting maps need to be redrawn, the staff strike at the Austin American Statesman,  how CNN fired their CEO and more on Confucius Reads the News.

 

Black Sheep Optimists: “Questions and Lies”

Our Saturday night specialty show The Breaks does a great job of highlighting Austin hip-hop. But naturally, stuff is bound to slip through the cracks, especially when it comes to events before broadcast. That brings us to Austin three-piece Black Sheep Optimists, who’ve been bending genre norms since the start of the pandemic. The trio dropped their debut EP Book One in that uncertain summer of 2020, a four-track tour de force of trunk-rattling ’90s-style beats, rapid-fire rhymes that seamlessly tie braggadocio and introspection together, and two top-tier collaborations from right here in our local community – with KUTX favorites Kalu James and Jackie Venson.

Subsequent BSO singles have veered into more modern sonic territory, with a higher level of production to match their earnest ugly-duckling-turned-alpha-underdog aesthetic. But the spirit of collaboration is still alive and well, as heard on last September’s joint with Kaylin Karr “Lost Boys” and a new single that just came out today. For the latter, the fellas have teamed up with certified Austin shredder Matt Muehling for a four-and-a-half-minute mad dash ahead of BSO’s upcoming sophomore record Book 2.

So shear into the weekend with “Questions and Lies” and take part in the Black Sheep Optimists’ flock this evening at The Hive off Menchaca if you can. “Q&L”‘s live instrumentation gives its looping drum break a ton of extra weight, deft flirtations with vocal effects pump up the already-lurid lyrics, the chorus is nothing short of epic, and Muehling’s nimble guitar work will have you making some serious stank face throughout. Just don’t flatline til the tune’s over.

Do Austin Artists Deserve Opening Slots

Fresh and Confucius talk about whether more touring shows should feel obligated to put Austin artists on their bills. And they debate the importance of deep cuts on albums.

You’ll learn Hip-Hop Facts about the story behind Ginuwine’s “Same Ol’ G,” why Aaliya’s “Come Over” almost didn’t happen, what record Tina Turner holds, and more.

Fresh states the Unpopular Opinion that Snoop Dogg’s “Doggiestyle” is better than Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic.”

Confucius talks about Ron DeSantis botched presidential campaign announcement on Twitter Spaces, the movement on the deal to raise the debt ceiling, what’s been happening during the Texas legislative session and more on Confucius Reads the News.

 

Bourgeois Mystics: “Gentrification of Planet Earth”

One of the biggest obstacles to a longstanding passion project is that when you get sidelined by the harsh realities of life, sometimes it’s too tough to keep creating. And amidst skyrocketing housing costs coupled with the deficit of live opportunities in the immediate aftermath of COVID, actively gigging with a band while living within Austin’s city limits simply isn’t the way it was ten years ago.

That brings us to Bourgeois Mystics, an art-funk hip-hop collective who first got together in 2014. Amplified by each individual opulent alter ego, this eclectic sextet has spent the past decade wowing crowds with high-energy, theatrical performances and upbeat originals that steer way clear of taking themselves seriously. Yet in 2023, splitting the bill six ways with some members already residing in satellite cities, the actuality of exorbitant rent prices and getting the gang together in one room is nowhere near as feasible as it used to be.

As such, Bourgeois Mystics have made the tough decision to go on indefinite hiatus. But as an Austin staple with as lively as theirs, of course they’re going out with a bang. This weekend Bourgeois Mystics release their second (and for now, final) full-length Gentrification of Planet Earth. While Gentrification finds the semi-fictional figures on 2017’s Eureka! now transformed into hideous Kafka-esque monsters and cartoonish song titles replaced with thematic, feature-laden fireballs, the zany energy that makes Bourgeois Mystics so great is well intact. The LP drops on Friday and Bourgeois Mystics commemorates the end of this era with a farewell show 9PM that same evening at The Parish with openers Lena Luca and Cilantro Boombox.

So while you plan out your pre-game for Gentrification of Planet Earth, dig into the album’s title track, one that sounds like Technotronic, !!!, and The B-52’s split a sack of high-grade salvia, downed some disco biscuits, and giggled their way into this fine-tuned piece of “funk-n-gunk” greatness. True to its name, “Gentrification” districts this three-and-a-half minute dance mania off into clearly defined individual sections for the funkiest piece of gerrymandering you’ll hear this year.