Archive for September, 2014

RIVAL EMPIRE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Rival Empire is sexy satire juice. They do funky stuff to the brain, and I like my brain funky.

It would be fair to say the band happened by accident. Matt (vocals) and Steve (all electronic instruments) started mucking around with music in college, and before they knew it, Tim (rhythm and lead guitar) joined the mix, and the muck became a weird, wispy magic.

Their sound`s a collage of commentary: poppy synth spliced with Ronald Reagan clips. They mix repurposed lyrics and minor compositional melodies from Phil Collins, Fleetwood Mac, and Michael Jackson (dancing around the dangerously blurry lines of the Copyright Act), and the result is a dance floor full of yum. Best of all, the lyrics are peppered with a brilliant, conscious wit, one that deconstructs the silliness of society.

Some of the message may be missed by the greater populace, but no matter what, we`ll all have fun.

VISION THE KID & TRU

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Rap’s hit and miss for me. It’s hard to relate to a musician when they can’t film a music video without exploiting a woman’s ass. Yet, even observing from outside the scene, I sense an evolution. Seems hip hop artists are relying less and less on hackneyed formulas, and exerting their energies on what matters: the fucking music.

Vision The Kid is evidence of this. Voted best local Minneapolis rapper by Vita.mn, he’s now teamed up with acclaimed producer Tru.

I listened to Somewhere In A Dark City (2014) from beginning to end, and felt I was transported into a dark urban opera.

It starts with a sundering stream of spoken word. Vision The Kid’s lips make tremendous movement, with or without a mix. All tracks following ride a hard rush: heavy, throttling.

This is music; this is talent. Lush, creamy, lines that crush n’ slice, with enough varied tone to keep me piqued (quite a feat- I lose interest quickly).

The lyrics are aware, observational, unblinking, and emotionally attuned. Somewhat predictably, my favourite bits would be any of the tracks with dark, sharp, poetic prominence: All Goes Away (ft. Lizzie Fontaine), Somewhere In A Dark City (the title track, obviously), and The Streets at Night, the spoken-word intro that had me hooked. (Fyi: there are two other spoken word tracks on the album -an interlude and outro- and they’re awesome.)

I especially like how clearly this is a duo effort. Though Tru may not strictly “perform”, he’s with Vision The Kid at every step. Together, they walk strong.

All in all I deem this a complicated, mature release, lending a lot of intelligence to an otherwise visceral art.

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