So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 10 – Joe Freshgoods

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Joe Freshgoods has become one of the most visible cultural figures in Chicago as a streetwear designer. A co-owner of Fat Tiger Workshop alongside other Chicago streetwear luminaries, Joe went from West Sider with the idea to sell an “I Wanna Fuck Rihanna” beanie to the entrepreneur behind Chance’s tie dye hoodies, the Obama-approved “Thank You Obama” collection, and a wide range of frequently ripped-off style innovations. He spent time managing rapper Lucki Ecks, has been profiled by Fader & covered in GQ, and in his own words, “kicked it at Vogue with a durag on.” He’s also been–against his protestations to the contrary–a DJ, whose legendary parties at East Room often ended with audiences lined up down the block and spilled out into the streets.

Part 1 is a mix by David and Charne.

Find Joe Freshgoods at Twitter, at JoeFreshgoods.com, and Fat Tiger Workshop.

Part 1: David and Charne’s Mix

 

Part 2: Joe Freshgoods Interview & Mix

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So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 9 – Brent Rambo

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Vine auteur (UKNOHOWIMROCKIN), meme artist, troll, producer, and aux cord DJ for the ninth episode of So Many Shrimp Radio, Brent Rambo is known for his work with Chicago rappers like Warhol.ss and Famous Dex, and for being himself.

Charne was out of town for this episode, taped April 2, 2017, so David & BrentRambo discussed his background and mainly listened to music as Brent took us on a musical adventure with tracks off the smartphone, careening through an unpredictable selection that reflects his off-the-wall sensibilities.

You can find Brent Rambo on SoundCloud or Twitter.

Part 1: David’s mix

Part 2: Brent Rambo interview & mix

 

So Many Shrimp Radio Episode 8 – DJ Victoriouz

DJ Victoriouz

Season 2 of So Many Shrimp Radio begins with episode eight. We’ll be dropping subsequent episodes every Monday until Season 2 is complete!

The first part is a mix from David and Charne. The second stream is an interview and live DJ mix from the legendary DJ Victoriouz. DJ Victoriouz is a Chicago-based mixtape DJ known for hosting tapes like 2012’s Back From the Dead for Chief Keef, I’m Still a Hitta by Lil Durk, and scores of other street classics reflecting the aesthetic perspectives of the Chicago area, a city which shows a Southern orientation but retains its own particular cross-regional identity.

This is the sound of souls working under the orange glow of sodium lights, the music of strip clubs far from the city’s architectural feats downtown. This is music that reflects a world well past the 95th Street termination of the CTA Red Line, an American cross-roads of musical influences which sounds as contemporary and urgent as any in the United States. Victoriouz offered one of the best DJ sets in this show’s short history, a selection of records (at the time, many unreleased) mainly unknown to his audience.

Around 25 people piled into David’s living room for this episode, and Victoriouz was an unusually careful listener, gauging the room’s reaction with every selection and adjusting in the moment. If you’ve wondered what, exactly, a DJ host *does* co-signing a mixtape of another person’s original material, it’s clear how Victoriouz earned his reputation when you see him in a live setting. With a sensitive ear for music, DJ Victoriouz offered one of the best sets we’ve heard to date.

Part 1: David and Charne’s mix

Part 2: DJ Victoriouz interview & mix

So Many Shrimp Radio Special Live: Lululand Release Party

In anticipation of the immanent release of So Many Shrimp Radio Season 2 (Coming in November), Charne & I are releasing a special episode we did live from the release party for Lulu Be.’s Lululand EP (Apple/Spotify) earlier this month. We spoke with Lulu Be. and her producer Lanre during the party at Classick Studios on October 13th, and you can listen in below. (Recorded by Chill.) If you stick around til the end, you’ll also hear a brief interview with Lulu Be.’s DJ, DJ KO.

Stay tuned, though: the long-awaited Season 2 of So Many Shrimp Radio is incoming, sooner than you think, including episodes with: MC Tree G, Joe Freshgoods, DJ Victoriouz, SqueakPIVOT, DJ King Marie, and many more.

We’ll also be starting recording for Season 3 soon after it launches; invitations will go out in the coming weeks.

David & Charne

peep show

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Lil Peep performed at Subterranean in Chicago last night, the first date on his first headlining tour. It was sold out well in advance, though Subterranean is not a huge venue; it wouldn’t surprise me if this were a strategic booking to get him concert legs for bigger stages in the future, and to foment hype. There was no opening act. It was also an all-ages show, and the vast majority of fans in the building had black x’s drawn on their hands. The bartenders looked bored.

The crowd, though, was very not bored. He descended to the stage from the second floor wearing a patterned shirt matching his skin tone, making him look shirtless before he was shirtless. The crowd knew the words to almost every song, and when the DJ killed the sound, filled the space with his words. Songs like “Girls” and “Beamer Boy” were rapturously received. In adopting rock’s textures, many of his songs pull back from hip-hop’s typically dynamic production, but the crowd enthusiastically bounced along regardless.

The bouncers, sternly overseeing the show like overworked parents, perpetually shined flashlights into the audience, occasionally kicking out teenagers for shoving. Peep ended the show singing along to Blink-182’s “Dammit.” I bought a tour t-shirt, which smelled kind of funky, as if it had been stored in the trunk of someone’s car alongside packages of uncooked sausage.

I don’t want to spend too much time in concert recap mode, because concert recaps are boring. But it’s worth mentioning that the show did draw something out of songs like “Crybaby,” which I’d never really appreciated until I could hear how it connected in a live setting, where wistful teen fans fall respectfully silent to let the stoned sad SoundCloud John Frusciante vibes linger.

My real purpose here is to say: Lil Peep is good. Not only do I like him, I think he’s making music that is genuine, refreshing, well-executed and emotionally real.

A good sign an artist is taking off is that everyone tells me who I should be listening to instead, and all of them recommend different people—none of whom really do what he does, or fill his niche. The smartest thing Peep figured out—which so few of the SoundCloud brethren with whom he’s often compared have—was to drop the Lord Infamous-derived flows that long ago lost their utility to convey menace, and instead embrace post-Sosa melodic stylings.* Peep just made the connection to pop-punk pioneered on records like “Love No Thotties” (& picked up by Uzi Vert) more explicit.

And he did so with a fully-felt appreciation for emo as the raw material to flesh out his world. This isn’t a genre I’m super familiar with, although I gather that some of the backlash to his Pitchfork feature was emo fans mad he’d been decreed “the future of emo.” I don’t know enough to say whether he qualifies as emo, although he’s obviously a fan of it, but I think he does qualify as rap music. Not only is his most frequent collaborator Lil Tracy the literal son of Ish of Digable Planets/Shabazz Palaces and Coko of SWV (do you get more of-the-culture than that? Here they are posing with Tommy Hilfiger, unearthed via Reddit). Not only was he brought into the game as a member of Schema Posse, a group formed by Three 6 Mafia producer J Green (see: DJ Paul “Cocky”). But its formal framework is hip-hop’s, and any attempt to remove him from that lineage only serves to marginalize the genre that made him.

Aside from arguing he doesn’t make rap music, critics have argued his appeal is “ironic.” Even people who seem interested in his work take this tack; Drew Millard called it “stupid” in a piece for Vice that otherwise feels like an endorsement. I still don’t understand what is meant by “stupid” or why music should be “smart”; that Peep’s aesthetic touchpoints aren’t critically feted & instead reach to derided mall punk / emo / “trash culture” forms suggests an inner artistic confidence, rather than a lack of intelligence. Resisting or ignoring inculcated, insular notions of “good taste” is a good way to make your work distinctive…and is artistically smart.

Irreverence towards “good taste” does not need to signify an ironic attitude towards art, and unlike the fake-enthusiastic Yung Lean fandom of a few years back, I don’t think his fans—again, mainly teenagers and two age-ed music writers (thanks to the Chicago Reader’s Leor Galil for the plus one)—are remotely interested in indulging in his music for the comical juxtaposition of a white person making rap music.** If anything, his music strikes me as quite sincere anyway: the lyrics have a straightforward earnestness that is decidedly populist. It is Cool music, but in a way which could translate as easily to a trailer park in flyover country as Brooklyn (if not moreso, judging by the handwringing I’ve seen in allegedly hipper corners).

When I expressed confusion to a friend about the kneejerk backlash after Pitchfork deigned to take him seriously, he suggested “the well is poisoned”—it has felt quite like that. A “Problematic”-stigma has overtaken any mention of Peep, as if his experience of hip-hop was somehow less authentic or more appropriative than, say, Mac Miller’s. If anything, I find his incorporation of rock music’s textures and emo samples and lyrical themes creates a more original—and more universally appealing—energy than Mac’s Lord Finesse remake or Odd Future-esque solo release. Or for that matter, G-Eazy’s Drake-lite, or Yung Lean’s thin Lil B emulation.

At the show, there was no fake-enthusiastic ironic meme action. Instead, teenagers sang his lyrics like they were their own emotions made real, or as if they were coming from the sensitive boyfriend they wished they knew. I’m not trying to deflect criticism of his work in the real sense; glorifying cocaine use is not a net societal positive, nor is romanticizing depression, and understanding what it is that appeals about his work is deserving of a measured analysis. But good lord—how is this different from the entire history of popular music? Has the conversation really become this basic?

* “To me, Chief Keef is totally punk rock. Like, the melodies he uses on his album– it’s like he’s not even rapping no more, he’s just singing. You could swap those synths and keyboards with guitars and fucking crazy drums and he’ll be a rock star.” —Danny Brown to Pitchfork, 2013.

**On a personal level I’m lightweight offended anyone would get that from my appreciation of rap music—I’ve been dismissive of Post Malone, Spooky Black, Yung Lean, et al from jump, whose appeal I’ve felt was relatively one-dimensional. Anything that attempts to connect through simple irony—that veil of “knowingness” that suffocates all other emotions in an effort to telegraph smug superiority—is anathema to me. Irony is a useful artistic tool but terribly one-dimensional as a worldview.

u don’t hear me doe

I could swear I remember watching DMG’s ‘u don’t hear me doe’ on The Box as a kid, or at least at one time I remembered that. Memories are memories of memories now. This song also appeared on Scarface’s The World Is Yours, leading to lots of mislabeling in the Napster era, but Face doesn’t appear on this record at all—just a bit of Rap-A-Lot cross promotion. Contra the video caption, as the opening four seconds say, DMG was from St. Paul, Minnesota. This originally appeared on his album Rigamortiz, about which I have little to say despite having heard it multiple times.

I’m really posting this to draw attention to the tie-top beanie he sports in the video. I’m surprised in the last five years of ’90s retromania that they never made a reappearance in any popular forum. 2Pac was definitely the rapper who sported them most often, as seen here in the “Gotta Get Mine” video (which I definitely saw on The Box).

This song has a timelessness both musical and material. This might strike some readers as blindingly obvious, but 2Pac’s continued relevance is shared by few artists; he seemed to recognize the heart of the matter more quickly than everyone else, and his ideological fixation—rather than narrowing the creative possibilities—allowed him to withstand the billowing winds of trends. Certain lines stand out as more or less relevant to certain eras—”only underground funk pumping out of my trunk” feels especially resonant today.

Warren G produced this record; I like how it sits in a funky space between West Coast and East Coast, that squawking saxophone giving a jazzier vibe than you’d typically hear on say a Twinz cut.  In 5th grade, I had a tie top beanie that was black & yellow striped. They sold them at Walgreens, I’m pretty sure.

Es Todo

Swagg Dinero is the brother of Jojo, an aspiring rapper who was killed in 2012 in the midst of a high profile YouTube beef with what was GBE. Dinero was recently released after spending over a year behind bars on federal gun charges, but his return is marked by a seeming seriousness and musical maturation that suggests he could make an impact given time and focus, provided he can stay out of trouble.

His “First Day Out” record and his collab with Vonmar are both worth hearing as well. “Es Todo” is the most obviously creative, as it’s rapped half in Spanish. Its low-key musicality is a refreshing contrast with the more brash drill style of an earlier era, suggesting thoughtfulness and control rather than aiming for force and shock. It’s still harrowing, but shows an interest in narrative detail rather than blunt force, as on the behind-the-walls details of Gucci remix “First Day Out”: “Wake up and brush my teeth, wait they fightin’ already/ it ain’t even eight AM and the environment’s deadly/ Ain’t no bangers up in here so grab a knife or a rock/ is you with it or you ain’t, just keep a lock in your sock.”

See also: P. Rico’s “Back Down”.