Hero Dog – Mt. Hood [Review]

Hero Dog’s latest album titled “Mt. Hood” is a beautiful collection of short pieces like a gentle rain, with each track feeling like a soft drop of water that soothes the mind and soul. The album can be categorised under the study beats umbrella, but it’s far more than just that. The organic elements that are blended in, add an extra warmth and depth to the already beautifully saturated sound, resulting in a unique and captivating sound that keeps you hooked from start to finish.One of the notable features of the album is how well the sidechain compressors are used to blend the beats with the synth pads, creating a perfect balance between the two. The beats have a lot of power and energy, which is contrasted by the dreamy and ethereal synth lines, making for a truly engaging listening experience. We highly recommend listening to the entire album to fully appreciate its creativity and depth.

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Misha x Evil Needle – chillhop beat tapes [Review]

Misha x Evil Needle’s latest work titled chillhop beat tapes is a genre-blending project that mixes alternative R&B, classic hip-hop, boogie, and future beats into a chill and nostalgic vibe. The drum grooves have a broken, JDilla feeling that gives the music a unique and enticing rhythm and are sure to get your head nodding and feet tapping. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for late-night listening, and the music’s nostalgic undertones add a touch of sweetness to the sound. A beat tape that sounds both fresh and familiar, perfect for winding down and a must-have for your collection. Enjoy below!

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Evil Needle

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Jasper Williamson x Cenk Esen – Medley [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

(J) Our sound in 3 words would be esoteric, playful, and emotive
(C) Experimental – Projectional – Improvisational

Medley feels as an actual medley of numerous songs indeed. What is the story behind it? What is your creative process like?

(J) Medley came to fruition when we had stitched several ideas together from a session we did together in London, at Jomy’s place. We just played together for a few hours with no predetermined direction… just improvising, and we recorded it all. A few weeks later, I started sorting through the session and began picking out the bits that I thought made the best loops, like you would find in a hip-hop sample for instance, and I found about 10. We wanted to share these somehow so we picked the ones that we liked the best and smashed them together, adding a few things on top as well, like the piano solo. So really, Medley is 4 different pieces that we originally had named: Smoke, Jump, Moment 2, and Delicate… in that order.

What first got you into music?

(C) My parents are both serious musicians so that is definitely the main factor… Even when I was a baby and very young, there was always music playing in our house. I would be taken to my father’s concerts and I believe growing up surrounded with all these sounds subconsciously prepared me to get into music.

(J) What first got me into music was listening to cd’s on my walkman as a kid. And playing drums in the elementary school band, where my teacher gifted me a drum kit and I played it with pencils until I got a pair of sticks.

Favourite album of the past year?

(J) Tough question. Two I really love are “Where I’m Meant To Be” by Ezra Collective and “Damage” by Kim Doeon.

(C) There have not been many albums that I was extremely drawn to this year, but I really enjoyed some of the tracks in Domi & JD Beck’s album “Not Tight” (especially the mixing). Have also been checking the band and album Azimuth recently, even though it is a few decades old…

What does hip hop symbolize in your opinion?

(J) To me, hip hop symbolizes self expression and celebration of life. It is also home to a massive range of emotions and perspectives, and it’s an outlet where people can express both of these things.

(C) I feel like hip hop symbolizes the ability the be laid back rhythmically – in a literal and metaphorical sense. The music’s also really open to unique,personal statements that strive for self expression both with lyrics and instruments.

In which state of mind do you imagine people might listen to your music?

(C) I think our music has the vibe to be listened to in any emotional state – whether being upset, excited, joyful, disappointed, melancholic etc… Philosophically speaking, I think the tracks go great with a mind state of contemplation, curiosity about where sounds & art can go as well as being okay with surprises and unexpected turns that the music may take!

(J) I think that people would connect most with our music when they are in a state of mind that is open, self-reflective, and curious.

What is the most useless talent you have?

(C) I am one of the best FIFA (video game) players you can find!! Can also say the same thing about Poker, been very good with the card games since a young age.

(J) I like this question because it makes you realize how many things you can do are actually useful. I am very very good at Mario Kart.. and that’s not super useful.

Thank you!

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MEM_MODS – Harmolodica [Review]

Harmolodica is the new instalment by MEM_MODS a project consisting of  three seasoned touring musicians off the road. The breakbeat infused groove, that feels as time travelling through the 90s, drives the instrumental. On top of that, the track is characterised by the dub flavoured guitars while the added melodica adds the necessary unconventional element to the production. Heavily processed and filled with a plethora of effects, the track will be greatly enjoyed by open-minded music fans who can appreciate a bit of experimentation. Make sure to follow our Spotify Playlist feat. MEM_MODS.

Hot Mustard – Mustard Green

The award winning instrumental recording duo Hot Mustard is back with their latest work titled Mustard Green, a cocktail of funky and jazz hop elements. From the very first moments, the listener comes across with a dusty, trip hop oriented beat which is blended with mellow guitar licks. On top of that the instrumental is enriched with a couple of retro inspired synth sounds adding a vintage twist to the song. Last but not least a naughty, multilayered brass section adds a funky mood to the song. A music project which will turn your routine afternoon into a velvet one. The song comes with a video clip that feels very original indeed and captures the vibe of the song perfectly. Enjoy!

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Patch TK – Jazzhop lofi for a warm and breezy night [Review]

Hailing from Australia, Patch TK delivers Jazzhop lofi for a warm and breezy night, a vinyl-soaked instrumental driven by a tempting acoustic bass line. The delicate arrangement is filled with warm keys and lofi improvisations. A really soothing track to enjoy while drinking a special redbush, and with a hint of vanilla, cup of tea. Enjoy below!

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akilbeatsdenver – Intrinsic [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

healing, energizing, smooth

Each song of intrinsic is titled after a vitamin. What is the story behind it? Tell us a few things about this album.

#musicismedicine is the mantra for the project. music has an interesting and powerful way of helping the brain retain information. i can recite rhymes or sing songs that i was introduced to decades ago. because of this unique aspect of music, and my desire to help healing, i was drawn to the idea of the project being nutritional for the mind body and soul. i imagined conversations around songs by using their title, either sparking curiosity, “where do i get/what’s the importance of thiamin” or subconsciously increasing a desire to be aware of what we ingest, without it being too directive.

Is music a form of healing?

absolutely, in a way that’s very unique, it changes brainwaves, and even cymatics shows that there are physical properties to sound that can create order and harmony.

We really loved the beats in this album, really chill and smooth. We are wondering, which is the best broken beat you wish you had composed yourself?

firstly thank you so much for taking the time to listen, i really do appreciate it. there are so so many, what immediately came to mind was havoc of mobb deeps’ “trife life”. it never gets old and the way the filtered loop of the song “you are my starship” by norman connors creates that muddled bassline is just hypnotic.

What does hip hop symbolise in your opinion?

it’s an expression of the voice of the unheard or unseen, and has morphed over time into the predominant global forefront of culture and individuality.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

bet on yourself, no one is coming to save you, no one has your best interest in mind more than you do.

One last thing we should know about you?

i’m really proud of this project, i am going to continue to create of course! i’m also focusing on placements for movies, tv shows, commercials, content. the vibe of intrinsic is one that i think works well for visual media as background or definitive. i’m excited to see where this journey takes me, i already feel accomplished by being vulnerable and giving a chance for the world to hear my compositions. if someone can listen to intrinsic and it improves mood, or get an extra hour of study in, a couple more miles on the bike trail or finally finishing the dishes and laundry, accompanying drinks by the fire or daydream music on a long drive to the mountains, i will have completed my mission!

Thank you!

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V-Train – Lo-Fi Sensation [Interview]

Tell us a few things about your new work titled Lo-fi sensation.

Lo-fi Sensation is my third album. It contains 10 tracks, each one stand out on their own with unique sounds, beats and melodies. I wanted to have a mix of Hip-Hop and Jazz since there are no rappers on my songs which allows me to be more creative. The album also features the debut of my new Akai MPC One, the latest addition of my studio. You can hear it’s effects though the chopping of vocals and sampled melodies.

Which is the most gentle lo-fi melody you wish you had composed yourself?

I wish I composed The Righteous Way to Go by 9 th Wonder. I always love digging through samples and figuring out how to incorporate them in my music. The way that 9 th Wonder was able to fit a sample so smoothly into a Hip-Hop beat is just incredible.

What is the story behind your name?

V-Train was a nickname when I was in middle school. I used to be a part of the youth in the boys and girls club where I would go to after school and during the summer for camp. One time, a counselor just randomly called me V-Train and everyone has been calling me that since. I decided to use the name as my artist name before I released my 1st album. I thought it was fitting for me ironically because I did love trains a lot when I was a kid.

Have you considered introducing lyrics to your music?

I did have lyrics in the fall on my second album “A Wandering Soul”. The artist was a professional singer, so she put her lyrical talent on that song by my request. Since then, I haven’t considered adding more lyrics in any future songs I have. Lo-Fi Hip-Hop rarely does have lyrics or voices in that matter which is what attracted me to the genre. It’s about the instruments and less about the lyrics.

Is Spotify the music industry’s new Gatekeepers?

I can see Spotify being the musical gatekeeper today, but I don’t know how long that will last. The music industry is always changing so who knows if it will still be the gatekeeper of music

Which book should we read while listening to your music?

I highly recommend reading Dilla Time by Dan Charnas. It’s about the life of late Hip-Hop producer J Dilla and being considered one of the influencers of Lo-Fi Hip-Hop, I can’t think of any other book than this to read alongside my music.

Future plans?

I am planning on creating more albums and singles. I don’t plan on stopping. I also made a website that has my beats store for any rap artist or producer that wants to use my beats. I’m also working on sample packs and offering services like custom beats and mixing another artist song.

Thank you!

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V-Train – Sunset On The BLVD/Sunday Service [Interview]

Sunday Service has a lovely nostalgic vibe. Tell us a few things about it.

Thanks again Hip-Hop Paranoia for asking me this question. Sunday Service samples “Friends Let Me Tell You About Jesus” by the Dixie Aries that highlights the theme of the song of going to church and singing hymns. It is then followed by lo-fi pianos and bass. As a religious person myself, I wanted to create a lo-fi song that contains a religious theme. I found the sample in Tracklib. Tracklib is an excellent website for Lo-Fi Hip-Hop Producers like me who want to improve our craft of sampling music and getting legal licenses to use the samples in our music. With that, they also got a huge catalog of genres to sample from which is perfect for producers like myself to explore.

Sunset on the BLVD is seriously lofi. You have managed to maintain a consistent style throughout your music. How easy though is it to stick to a coherent idea and not be carried away?

It’s easy for me because there’s no other genre that I can really branch out to. When I first started with music, I was doing covers and posting on YouTube. Rock music is more of a team effort and EDM is vast and difficult to navigate for me. I was already familiar with R&B and Hip-Hop music from my late childhood to early teen years so after taking music production lessons, I’ve discovered I had a lot more fun with Hip-Hop production, but I can’t rap and don’t have any connections with rappers. Somehow, I stumbled across Lo-Fi girl on YouTube and discovered Lo-fi music and I just took off from there.

Do you accept the term study beat? Why is lofi used for studying?

I accept the term study beat for the lo-fi genre, but I think it can be used for multiple reasons. I would also accept other terms like relaxing beats, work beats or even jazz beats (Jazzhop or Chillhop). I think there are 3 big reasons why lo-fi is used for studying. There are almost no lyrics to the music which makes it easy for the listener to concentrate or relax. Lo-fi usually has a slow to medium tempo between 80 to 100 BPM which also increases the relaxing mood of the listener. Atmospheric pads and Vinyl record sounds are always associated with Lo-fi music and those sounds bring a certain mood to the listener by having them imagining themselves floating in space with the synth pads or reminiscing on what the past was like with the vinyl effects. In contrast to EDM that is fast and loud, Lo-fi Hip Hop does the opposite making it perfect for study music.

How would you describe your musical progress over the years?

An improvement. When I released my first album “My Quiet Room”, it was liked by friends, family, and people within my community, but it didn’t get much buzz and I was working with limited sounds. Then while I was working on my second album “A Wandering Soul”, I upgraded my DAWs, downloaded new sounds appropriate for lo-fi music and I’ve bought new gear including my new Akai MPC One Drum Machine. With the help of some friends, my music began to spread outside of the community and even in different countries. Right now I currently have almost up to 40,000 total streams on Spotify.

What first got you into music?

I was playing music all my life. After watching my mother play piano at home and at church, I started to follow in her footsteps as well as experimenting with all the different sounds and effects on the keyboard. My parents and teachers discovered that I like to keep a steady rhythm and though I would be perfect for the drums. So I would bounce back and forth between piano and drums. Eventually I would pick up the guitar and bass and things just took off from there.

Do you think there is a true underground hip hop sound today?

Absolutely. Hip-Hop since its conception has always been underground music. Even when it became mainstream and America’s #1 music genre, there are still cats like me making excellent bangers in the comfort of our houses. There’s also a major benefit working underground compared to mainstream like signing to a major label. When you’re underground you have complete control of your sound, and you get all the payments you wouldn’t get if you worked with a team hired by the industry. The underground Hip-Hop scene is a lot more versatile in my opinion which makes Hip-Hop unique. Today’s mainstream Hip-Hop music is mostly created with trap beats and mumble rapping. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the current popular Hip-Hop songs of today, but I was raised in the 90s East Coast era, and I take pride in it. Most of the underground Hip-Hop sounds replicate the sounds of the 90s because I think most producers like myself missed how Hip-Hop was more about the message and creativity rather than making the same beat used by many other mainstream rappers.

What would be your dream performance venue?

I’m not into performing in big venues so I would be content in playing music in a small café.

When not writing music, how do you spend your time?

I love to play pinball. I’ve participated in local tournaments and have gotten some recognition. Currently I’m in the top 200 pinball players in Pennsylvania and I have a best friend who’s #1 in the state. He’s the one who got me into pinball. I also like to play video games to relax especially Call of Duty. Drawing and reading are my other favorite hobbies especially when the topic is Hip-Hop and producing. Currently I think I have over 10 books about Hip-Hop.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

When I went to see Jacob Collier live in a Philly club, I was impressed to hear about this artist from England who is a multi-instrumentalist. After that experience, I’ve listed to all of his albums. I was disappointed that I couldn’t see him in concert this year but I hope he comes back to Philly soon.

Your dream collaboration?

I would like to collaborate and co-produce with DJ Premier if I ever get the chance. I really love his sound. It was and still is the pinnacle of Boom Bap Hip-Hop in my opinion.

Favorite music related film?

I haven’t watched much music related films, but I use to watch a lot of movies about Ludwig Van Beethoven when I practiced classical piano. The movie that stands out to me is Immortal Beloved. I think Gary Oldman portrays Beethoven well and I can relate to Beethoven in many ways in music and life’s struggles. I want to see Straight Otta Compton one day. Maybe sometime during the summer I’ll rent it from YouTube.

Thank you!

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V-Train – Cold World [Interview]

Cold World has very chill organic sound. What is the story behind it?

I created the song using a sample from the song “mélange” by the Casual Brothers and Alya. I was excited because after I upgraded to Cubase Artist, I discovered a method to separate the instruments from the vocals. I decided to use that method on the sample to make it fit in to my song, and I was pleased with the results. Then to make the music more interesting, I included a sax solo near the end of the song as an excellent way to fade out along with the music. I decided to base the theme of this song on my feelings and everyone else’s when we are bombarded 24/7 with bad news from our news outlets. With so much going on in the world, it causes many people including myself to retreat from the world and try to find solace in whatever calms us down. To add a visual emotion that represents the song, I added a picture a I drew years ago of a beautiful woman shedding a tear. The picture combined with the song was a response to the events that occurred in 2020 with the Covid pandemic and the race-riots but interestingly, this single came out around the same time the Russia-Ukraine thing was becoming an issue. I didn’t plan on it, but the situation really reinforced the theme of the song.

Is it an extra challenge to promote instrumental music?

I think that promoting instrumental music is starting to become less of a challenge thanks to the internet and streaming services. Back then, it would really be a challenge to promote instrumental Hip Hop music because Hip Hop has always been associated with rap. I don’t think I can remember any Hip Hop producer that has acquired fame from their instrumental pieces unless they were J Dilla or Madlib. Nowadays with streaming services becoming more available, it opens the floodgates for upcoming producers like myself to get our songs played on different streaming services. Lo-Fi Hip Hop is the perfect subgenre to listen to for simple tasks like working a desk job, doing chores, or just relaxing. Since these tasks happen almost every day, it increases the likelihood of someone playing a lo-fi track while they are doing these activities. A friend of mine told me that he always plays my music whenever he’s working because it helps with his concentration because the songs are instrumental, and he doesn’t have to be distracted by the lyrics.

What is your favorite (analog or digital) synth?

The Roland FA-08 synthesizer workstation is my favorite analog synth because it is my primary tool of creating music. It has 2,000 sounds installed and many more when I connect it to my laptop as a MIDI controller. It also has a list of other cool features like sampling pads, a solo synth that acts like a theremin and an arpeggio and chord option that leads you create your own ideas.

Favourite album of the past year?

Djesse Vol. 3 by Jacob Collier was my favorite album this past year. I admire Jacob Collier as a musician because he is innovating as a jazz artist. He finds a way to make Jazz listenable to the mainstream audience by collaborating with rappers and other artist who don’t have a similar background as him. Despite that, they blend really well to his music, and I think it might create more possibilities for Hip Hop/Jazz fusion in the future.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist so far?

My biggest challenge as an artist has been promoting my music. Right now, as I answer this question, I grew up to 1000 followers on Spotify. Before that, it wasn’t easy because I was a new artist and I had little experience on how to promote music. After I’ve uploaded my first album “My Quiet Room”, they only advice I was given was to submit my music to different curators. While I was submitting my music, I’ve also learned the other challenge I had as a new Lo-Fi artist was that I had little experience with the subgenre. I guess that is why not many curators accepted my album because I would get lots of feedbacks stating that the tracks were too long, the mix was below average, and the music didn’t exactly sound like Lo-Fi. Although it didn’t affect my goals, it did make me consider if I should continue producing. Rather than calling it quits, I took a curator’s advice and found different ways to make my music sound better as I continue to grow as an artist. It paid off because after the release of my second album, I’ve been receiving a lot more attention which increased my followers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Always hold on to Jesus and persevere no matter what. You won’t see success when you first put your mind into your passions but overtime you will learn how to improve and then you will get better and better. As that happens, a lot of people will notice and will reach out to you to help you along your journey. As they do, you will help them out in return and inspire others along the way.

One last thing we should know about you?

I offer my talents voluntary at my local church. I always love to provide assistance in music whenever I can.

Thank you!

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