Bandcamp Picks of the Week 11/22/17

Bandcamp Picks of the Week, as large and in charge as ever

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Rebel Music

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Kabaka Pyramid – REBEL MUSIC

Genre: Dancehall, Reggae

Favorite Tracks: “Ready fi di Road,” “I Alone,” “Prophecy” 

Kabaka Pyramid’s 2011 EP, REBEL MUSIC, is his first official work. Pyramid establishes himself as a blend of reggae and dancehall while lyrically leaning into hip hop with a dynamic message, promoting spirituality and conscious evolution. REBEL MUSIC is very down to earth, avoiding the gimmicks and overproduction that plagues so many of the genres that he touches upon. The opening track, “The Sound,” enters with a strong presence of staccato piano chords on upbeats, a deeply ingrained staple of reggae which reassuringly shows us that Pyramid doesn’t stray far from his Kingston roots. The song goes on to establish his unique presence, with Kabaka claiming that “Me without the rhyme is like weed without the THC / Doctors without the PhD,” again signifying that he will be taking a differentiated approach to the Jamaican-rooted genre. Interestingly enough, the last track of the EP is another version of a song that also appears earlier on the tracklist, “Prophecy,” but without the reggae or dancehall elements—it’s strictly hip-hop. KP shows the listener on this hip hop version of the track that he has the ability to keep up with other MCs if he so desires. Check REBEL MUSIC out here. [Emmett Garvey]

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Gugu Gang

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Stagga and Magugu – GUGU GANG

Genre: Dancehall, Grime

Favorite tracks: All of them

When comparing Stagga’s instrumental work to his collaboration work, his beats on their own feel incomplete. They’re impressive fusions of dancehall, grime, and riddim, but they’re at their best when Stagga’s got someone putting them to work. Magugu serves as a worthy contender on GUGU GANG, his rich, baritone vocals ably coasting over Stagga’s uptempo drum-and-bass loops. “Gugu Gang,” with the repetition of its title making for one of the simplest earworms, sees Magugu touting infallible ascendancy over an erratic bass and whiny looping sample: “They hopes that / I gon’ give up / they no no say / gugu, I got the street on lock.” Stagga peppers in triumphant horns, volleying guitar lines, and bass-heavy electro tides as if he’s testing Magugu, daring him to flow over each new sound he employs.

Repetition being a trademark in the dancehall genre, it’s easy to tow the monotonous line, but Stagga and Magugu keep us on our toes—even if GUGU GANG is just three songs, there’s no doubt the chemistry at play here wouldn’t successfully translate to a full album. The two sonically embody gunshots on “Gunshot,” Stagga providing the pistol through slide-cocking samples as Magugu provides the onomatopoeic fire with his “ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-tas.” Meanwhile, “Rude Gal” pairs a stomp-and-whomp instrumental with gratuitous sexual bravado, (“I make her bed rock / now she scream yaba-daba-doodoo”) that without Magugu’s deadpan delivery and Stagga’s utility of a dulcet flute whistle, would induce eye-rolls. Like two knives filing at the other, Stagga and Magugu sharpen their respective strengths and turn any weaknesses into wins. [Nick Funess]

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