Blackalicious

It’s one thing to make enduring records, another still to work with luminaries in multiple fields. Another thing still to treat the rhyme not only as a piece of poetry, but to play with the aesthetics of language in ways that represent the voice as a unique instrument in and of itself. Blackalicious do all of these things,and as evidenced by the reissue of 1993’s Melodica, they have been doing these things for years.Originally released exclusively on cassette, Melodica is being reissued digitally for the first time. It’s a vital document of the group’s progression towards their eventual position as lords of the West Coast Underground, Gift of Gab twisting his words with aplomb, his lyrics more carefree than his later work.Chief Xcel’s beats, meanwhile, tread the same funky, lighthearted waters as many of his left-field contemporaries, but everything on Melodica is coated in a murky scuzz that, somewhat conversely to logic, could place the EP alongside much of today’s weird, lo-fi hip-hop. As an added treat, Melodica contains “Changes,” an unreleased cut produced in part by one DJ Shadow, who joins forces with Blackalicious producer Chief Xcel to offer dusty drum loops and subtle, textured samples that would offer a glimpse into much of Shadow’s later work. In an era where hip-hop devolves into half-baked facsimile with alarming regularity, Melodica serves as a reminder that the true school will always triumph over the bullshit.

From his modest South Philadelphia recording space, emcee/producer/multi-instrumentalist Lushlife has been quietly crafting some of the most inventive and well-regarded hip-hop records of the last several years. On his latest release, a limited-edition cassette/digital offering called, No More Golden Days, Lush explores increasingly eccentric sonic territory, still effortlessly engaging listeners with his undeniable pop sensibilities and classic east coast flow. Clearly the work of an artist interested in conveying feeling through sound, No More Golden Days ebbs-and-flows like a classic DJ blend tape. Lushlife deftly moves from the same hip-hop instrumentals you’ll hear on Top 40 radio, to narcotic arrangements of mid-‘80s synth-pop jams. He recontextualizes modern indie records with an undeniable swagger, and then spits thoroughly over his own jaw-dropping productions.

And while this mixtape isn’t bloated with guests, each featured artist does bring fresh energy to the program. At one moment, Heems of Das Racist trades sixteens with Lush on a mystic-sounding Gang Gang Dance edit, and in the next, former Titus Andronicus member, Andrew Cedermark is crooning away on a Lushlife rerub of OMD’s The Romance of the Telescope. It’s obvious that every millisecond of No More Golden Days is carefully executed to emote precisely what Lushlife wants you to feel. “I guess at its core, Golden Days is built on a sense of Impressionism,” he reflects. “I wanted to make the listener feel certain complex feelings, but also somehow sidestep the direct musical routes for eliciting those feelings. Like, for example, I don’t want to directly remind you of your favorite Rakim or Beach Boys record. I just want to try and use everything at my disposal to give you a little bit of the feeling you got, the first time you ever heard those records.”

Whether he’s flipping tween-pop starlet Katy Perry into a blissed-out whip-banger, or rapping on blown-out Clams Casino instrumentals, Lushlife is seemingly pushing the listener toward some gauzy, autumn night in his mind, with each successive track on this mixtape. So ultimately, No More Golden Days is not simply a work of post-millenial genre-hopping. Instead, its strength can be found in Lushlife’s unique ability to make Dilla, Katy Perry, Slowdive, and Drake feel like they’re part of one strangely, but perfectly-connected lineage.

Tickets Available at the Door

$12, tickets at the door, CASH only!

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Brooklyn Bowl

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Blackalicious with Lushlife, No Bowling Lanes Available Until 8:00 PM

Tuesday, December 10 · Doors 6:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Brooklyn Bowl

Tickets Available at the Door