Remembering Phife Dawg, plus new work from A K Paul, MeLo-X + Little Simz, Golden Hour and Lil Yachty
A K Paul: Landcruisin'
R&B producer Jai Paul is treading the road less traveled; armed with only two official releases ("Jasmine" and "BTSTU"), he's been able to wield the hype and keep a loyal fanbase on their toes for years. He recently set up the mysterious website Paul Institute with his brother A K Paul, another producer who's worked with NAO and Jessie Ware. Fans gave up their cellphone number to hear A K Paul's new single "Landcruisin." A lot of car revving sounds, sexy guitar licks and triumphant, swelling brass synths—this is the future-pop song behind all the babies being born nine months from now.
A Tribe Called Quest: Electric Relaxation
Phife Dawg (aka Malik Taylor), a founding member of one of hip-hop's seminal groups, A Tribe Called Quest, has died aged just 45 years old. The Queens-born rapper formed Tribe in 1985 with his childhood friend Q-Tip (aka Kamaal Ibn John Fareed), later joining forces with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and sporadic collaborator Jarobi White. The group—with strong ties to De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and Busta Rhymes, among countless others—is widely known as one of the most artistic and trailblazing throughout hip-hop's colorful and inventive history. Phife (whose lyrics oftentimes refer to his short stature) was a lithe and clever rapper; his witty and occasionally cheeky lyrics were smattered with puns—with some of the best found in "Buggin' Out" and the stunning "Electric Relaxation." Diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, Phife (a self-proclaimed "funky diabetic") received a kidney transplant from his wife almost a decade ago. An influential and proficient artist, the Five Foot Assassin has left the legacy of a giant.
MeLo-X feat. Little Simz: FFFS
Brooklyn-based producer MeLo-X pairs so well with rapper Little Simz (fresh UK import Simbi Ajikawo who's been building her own formidable empire) in their track FFFS, which now gets a video treatment to match its astral, "free-fallin" vibes. Experimenting with shadowed outlines and projections, "FFFS" comes off of MeLo-X's 2015 EP Curate, a mixed bag of dreamy synth-driven tracks that worm their way into the ear.
Golden Hour: Goth Easter
Portland, Oregon DIY rock trio Golden Hour are celebrating the holiday weekend a little differently than most. In the music video for "Goth Easter" (off of their EP Don't Be Cute), they host a fun-filled day for those clad head-to-toe in black; activities include the long-distance PBR toss and a good ol' plastic egg hunt. It's an awesome track as well—there are echoes of Karen O that gave us goosebumps. Or maybe it was the gigantic Easter bunny watching from inside the house.
Lil Yachty + Quavo: No Hook
"We made a song with no chorus," half-sings red-haired rapper on the rise Lil Yachty, trading verses back and forth with Quavo (member of Atlanta-based hip hop trio Migos) in the simple, unhurried track "No Hook." Though the Autotuning can be excessive, sometimes you're in the mood for cake with lots of icing. Lil Yachty (who modeled at Kanye West's Yeezy Season Three unveiling in Madison Square Garden last month) recently released his first mixtape "Lil' Boat," which actually boasts an awesome album cover: Lil Yachty, fisherman style, standing on a little boat.