Tyler, the Creator – Cherry Bomb

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Much like himself, Tyler the Creator’s fourth album Cherry Bomb is a complex being. At times, it is intricately layered with serene production and backing vocals. However, it can also be a distorted, messy affair that lacks structure, or the finesse that we have come to expect from him. He has never been one to make music for anyone but himself and this seems to be the main motivation behind Cherry Bomb, an album that he can listen to. The main problem is that while he is an incredibly gifted musician and producer, not everyone has the same ears as he does.

After a barrage of subpar, bass heavy tracks (‘Buffalo’,’ Pilot’), ‘Find Your Wings’ welcomes a different side of Tyler, one we have briefly glimpsed before but never properly met. The smooth jazz horns, piano and chord patterns fully represent him at his best in terms of production. Very few musicians have such an ability to induce euphoria, but it is a quality that he has down at a t (no pun intended). Even the choice of backing vocalists is exceptionally varied. The odd combination of Toro Y Moi and Charlie Wilson expand the sound of ‘Fucking Young/Perfect’ with beautiful delivery behind Tyler, as he voices his desires for a younger woman. Sure there is the odd jarring note and the subject matter is questionable, but it is a Tyler the Creator song after all.

The temporary lull in tempo and aggression that is ‘Find Your Wings’ is directly counteracted by the vicious title track. It is one of a few songs that are intentionally muffled or over distorted. He may be the type of artist to have a reason for everything but there are more than a few moments where you find yourself questioning the methods to his madness. Album closer ‘Okaga C.A’ builds itself on off key melodies and vocals and never feels like it fully realises any of its potential, which is somewhat scarce to begin with.

The most prominent guest spots come in the form of Kanye West and Lil Wayne on ‘Smuckers’. Tyler is perhaps the only person who could not only unite these two on one track, but to also get the best out of them while doing so. On paper, it could have been a mismatch, but he knows what he wants from featured artists. It is not additional attention or to beef up the track list or expectations and sales in the process. It is to further the song in the direction he feels it going. A quality that is all but lost in music these days.

It is hard to deny that Cherry Bomb as a whole is very scattered. He may wish to replicate the music that he listens to, but who says that NERD, Death Grips and Stevie Wonder make for a particularly good combination. Well Tyler, does and sometimes it makes for a completely immersive and captivating track. Other songs are forgettable due their chaotic harshness and bad mixing. Cherry Bomb will most certainly serve as a tool to keep people guessing as to what we will hear next from him, if nothing else.

3/5

-Ross Logan

Hank Shocklee (The Bomb Squad), the Sugar Club Dublin

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Hank Shocklee is one of the members of Public Enemy associates and producers, the Bomb Squad. In the late 80s their chaotic and attention grabbing sound helped to influence and shape hip hop as we know it today. Since ChoiceCuts were able to book him for a DJ set, it was no surprise that a Q & A would take place also, considering the wealth of knowledge and experience that he has garnered over the years.

Before this could take place, the audience were treated to a screening of Prophets of Rage. This BBC documentary about Public Enemy details everything from their early beginnings to the controversies that eventually led to their downfall and demise. Opposing sides of stories are told, from the militant perspective of Griff to Flavor Flav’s colourful outlook on past events. The documentary also served as a basic introduction to P.E, allowing for the more detailed and exploratory questions to be kept for later on.

The Q & A, which was hosted by Olan from All City record shop, went into everything from early sampling techniques, to the equipment used, to what it was like to have so many musicians working on one project. Some producers are known for being introverts who become almost obsessed with their craft, but Hank is as outgoing and enthusiastic as they come and still stays dedicated. As expected, he is full of stories. My favourite being about Flavor Flav’s previous job of driving a bus full of children with cerebral palsy. Certain anecdotes would seem unbelievable if they hadn’t had come straight from someone who was there to witness it all.

Unfortunately I had to miss his DJ set. Coming one of the most influential producers of all time, we can assume it was great. The Q & A section of the night was most definitely the highlight. It is rare to come across a night as informative or inspiring. Due to the crowd’s reaction, we can hopefully expect more night’s like this with hip hop’s elite.

-Ross Logan

Ghostpoet, the Button Factory Dublin

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Despite the downtrodden nature of many of his tracks, Ghostpoet had no problem entertaining the Button Factory with vigour and enthusiasm while opening his current tour in Dublin. His past experiences of touring have paid off and gifted him with an obvious prowess for performing. For a set that runs well over 75 minutes, his smooth voice and high level of charisma never falter. While he may be the main attraction for the night, the accompanying band contributes just as much to the show as he does.

Each member of the band is as professional as they come. They amplify the sound of older tracks (‘Cash and Carry Me Home’) achieving a much bigger sound than the original recording. His keyboard player/backup singer assists him with a serene and reserved quality to her vocals. She replicates the voice of the female role on his current album, Shedding Skin, with a haunting perfection. It is often the new material that provides the most enthralling moments of the show.

It feels like there is an unspoken bond between him and his audience. One that allows tracks like ‘Sorry My Love, It’s You Not Me’ and ‘Yes I Helped You Pack’ to be performed with compassion, despite the deeply personal subject matters. He bares this weight with no burden, trusting in the crowd to be as receptive as they are. It’s clear that he is comfortable being at the helm of the show, always controlling the pace but never undermining the importance of musicians joining him on stage.

While there may be a slight reluctance to his showmanship at times, he is clearly thankful of the position that he is in. After an encore of ‘Lines’ he jumps into the crowd to embrace his fans. He makes an impression on everyone from the diehards to the casual gig goers, humbled by the full venue for a Wednesday night. A turnout like this can be expected with a truly personal and intimate showing like this from one of the U.K’s most unique artists.

-Ross Logan

Artist of the Month: Dah Jevu

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Dah Jevu are a relatively new act based in Dublin. The two emcees, Bobby Basil and Tafari Pesto provide an insight into the abstract and alternative side of Irish hip hop. They’re debut video, ‘Hawks of Nepthys’ has already racked up almost 15,000 views on YouTube. The intriguing, gritty video was edited and shot by Hugh Mulhern.

Having already supported Smoke DZA and Jay Electronica this year, along with their full live band, Dah Jevu have a busy few months ahead. I’ve seen them a handful of times now and it is an energetic and one of a kind set. Life Festival, Electric Picnic and BARE In The Woods festival are just a few of the places you’ll be able to catch them this summer and we highly recommend that you do. We briefly spoke to Bobby about their live show and what the future holds:

How did the live band come together?

“It was mostly people from my old school and others that we knew.”

Will they help with production in the future?

“At the moment it will be mostly for the live show, but there is a track coming out at the end of the summer with them on it.”

Which was a better performance for you, Jay Electronica or Smoke DZA?

“There was a lot more people at Jay Electronica because Whelan’s is a bigger venue. It felt like a tougher crowd which made us work harder. The sound is better in Whelan’s too so I’d probably say Jay Electronica.”

What is your favourite thing about performing?

“For me, the more people there the better. It’s like a form of stress release. I can be uptight before we go on but that goes when we start performing.”

Last time we talked you said you wouldn’t release a project until the right amount of hype is there. Do you think you are any closer to that now?

“No I don’t think we’re going to release an EP anytime soon. We do have two music videos coming soon though. I might go to London before we release an EP.”

What has been the defining moment for you so far?

“I’d have to say the Hawks of Nepthys video. It made a lot of people aware of who we are and got us where we are now.”

Dah Jevu Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dahjevu?fref=ts

-Ross Logan