George Michael - Freedom (Back To Reality Mix)
"I didn't think he'd do 'Freedom,' but then... BAM! second encore!" And if you get that one, Big Nerd prize for you! You get to touch my $160.00 ticket stub! This isn't the version Mr. Panayiotou closed his big American Airlines Center show with last Sunday, but it is an interesting one for the collection. Hopping on a dance trend about a dozen years ahead of everyone else, George takes the mash-up route for this mix of his hit single from 1990, mixing it with bits of Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, and Sinead O'Connor.
ABN feat. H.A.W.K. - Down In Texas
This week's release of the highly anticipated (at least in my head) re-teaming of Z-Ro and Trae for their first album-length Assholes By Nature project in five years has proven to be another strong Houston contender for consideration on any short list of rap albums of the year. An album of rolling trunk bangers and thug life tales that strongly recalls the glory days of West Coast G-funk, It Is What It Is is a strong dose of street medicine for hip hop's current Lil Wayne overdose refreshingly bereft of crossover pop appeal. Here, the titular Assholes raise the late H.A.W.K. for an unusually bleak example of the required Texas Rap Album Song About Texas.
Primal Scream - The Glory Of Love (Single Version)
Britain's greatest drug monkey survivors not named Keith Richards will be releasing their ninth studio album later this month, and unlike most new Primal Scream records, this one doesn't find them chasing a new sound like a pack of speed-addled David Bowies. If anything, Beautiful Future is an amalgamation of all their previous sounds with nods to clubby bliss-outs, tooth drill techno, Stonesy roots rock, and white boy swamp funk sitting with surprising ease next to (and occasionally on top of) each other. Trading dystopian paranoia for love-stoned good times, this lead single is one of the more straight forward guitar pop songs Primal Scream has ever released and an obvious fruit of the producer's chair being shared by Paul Epworth (Bloc Party and every other neuvo post-punk band) and Peter Björn and John's Björn (who it seems brought his hand claps along).
Kid Cudi - The Prayer
Another month, another 10 Deep sponsored mixtape from a blog rap Next Big Thing. This time the brass knuckles logo and commemorative t-shirt go to Cleveland's Kid Cudi, who, strangely enough for the genre, has actually released physical product prior to this in the form of his Day 'N' Nite single for A-Trak and Nick Catchdub's Fools Gold label (also home to blog rap crush object Kid Sister). I must admit A Kid Named Cudi isn't as consistently interesting and clever as Wale's 10 Deep collabo, The Mixtape About Nothing, but I would still 100% rather listen to it than the new G-Unit or Jim Jones & Byrdgang albums. On this track, Kid Cudi heads straight for Pitchfork's G-spot with the first rap tune (I feel I am pretty safe to say) built around a Band Of Horses sample. Download the mixtape for free or buy the t-shirt/CD party pack here.
Emynd - Oogum Boogum
Known by many in a certain segment of the hipster DJ community for being the official scourge of the white-ification of Bmore club as much as for his White Tees & White Belts party in Philadelphia, Emynd has finally taken his crusade to club mecca and released Philly 2 Bmore on the godfather Scottie B's Unruly Records. A release truly worthy of the Unruly seal of approval, Emynd showcases a number of the trends currently falling under the "club music" umbrella, while always staying true to the scene's more hard-edged underground roots. Even his hipster-bait 80s track turns Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" in to a Lil Jon-laced head bustin' anthem. The EP's highlight for me, though, is this slightly sweeter take on Brenton Wood's 1967 soul staple "Oogum Boogum Song," which already has club classic written all over it. Buy individual tracks or the full EP here.