Sunday, October 25, 2015

Album Review: A South Bronx Tale by A.B.E.

Ah, good ol' A-B-E.

As a 2nd time around through the blog, I should probably recap his amazing single that was posted on here almost 3 years ago. Since then, Abe The Profit has made a name for himself. He started a crowdfunding campaign, working with a grammy nominated producer, and toured with a supergroup known as the The Peace Poets. This is but only a few stories of the self proclaimed prophet.

The man (through the last encounter as I remember) had an amazing knack for telling deeply moving stories that shook your foundation as a human being. His words were clear imagery. Tales of being bullied, stuck in hard financial times, or struggling with the goals you hold deepest in your heart can relate to nearly all of us. It's the real world situations you hear in the bars that convey the deepest vulnerabilities of the artist. It's more than another hip hop album: It's a testimony, a confession, and a memoir.

"Like Dat"

Opening on a high note, we are seated in a NYC subway with no named destination next to some preaching passengers while waiting for locomotion. A couple piano chords make their way while the developing strings rise and short stories of childhood crop up. Abe channels his frustrations and concerns with his earlier life discussing in detail how he was bullied. It's not just about the action in this story, it's about the future it caused. He finishes off one of phrases like this: "Guess what I grew up b***h, to be kinda like an athiest...but occasionally I pray for a hell to put you kids. Light up the stove, tell Satan to blaze you in."

It's dark, it's raw, and it's only the first 1:30 mins in. He goes on to explain his splitting family issues, suicidal thoughts, and monetary dilemmas. The song, explains line by line, how you can't possibly know someone from a first impression by illustrating his own history.

"For The Kids"

Bustling in with a little bit more swing, this song is for the kids (I dunno if it's actually for the kids). Abraham asks you to question what you know referencing Christopher Columbus as a mass murder and Obama as a shady lawmaker. It's a bold step for the first 40 seconds of the song, but, it's downright catchy; it doesn't stop there. He goes on to talk about social slang through the eras and takes a stance on the jailing system. It's chalk full of good advice, such as "do the right thing even when nobody lookin'" and "get drunk, smoke a fatty, forget everything you learned..."

I'd play this for my kids.


Ever feel like that one person observing the room, rather than just enjoying the moment? An aching feeling like you're set apart from your peers and family? That one person being spotlighted on a dark stage? A-B-E touches the heart strings with a groovin' yet more depressive beat this time and it's odd considering the last track was so upbeat. There's a range to be noticed here. Both the dark and the light moods being represented. Sometimes it's the lyrics, sometimes it's just the composition but at some point I've felt pretty connected to this album.

"Memory Lane"

Don't know if this was intended but this tune is reminiscent of 90's west coast hip hop. Different from the rest of the album so far, this track feels like something you'd listen to on a highway coast drive however, as heard from the lyrics, "...growin' up in the gutter bring, if you had nice rings you had to watch for bloods 'n crips. They jack kids for sneakers and jackets..."

Not to be a narcissist but most times, you remember the bad times easier than you remember the good times. It's much easier to criticize someone than to praise them. You remember those things. They get stored somewhere in your brain and who knows what can trigger it. I guess that's the memory lane. Remember this album is basically designed to be an autobiography.

"Where I'm At"

Being real is where it's at, I'll answer that question right off the bat. As a music artist, observing other music artists on a medium where I can listen to various artists around the world and write about them: You can tell who really wants the, the whole album's concept to make sense and tell an vivid story to the listener. At the beginning of the song he goes into a "call and answer" phrase between an older rapper and a millenial. The two collide and ultimately, there's no answer. It's the story of someone who's gone through hardships and someone who was born with a silver spoon.

(That subway as a running gag is actually quite hilarious.)

"If I Die"

You know how I was saying this album is a confession? This song embodies that.  From the beginning we hear an emotional phone call. The crackles add all the more intensity as the piano swells in. Soon enough, we hear Abe talking about his family, all the best of memories and them being the influences that now personify him. His friends and crew are all added. Like someone who just won a grammy, all of the people on that list are now here. This is a giant thank you note to his loved ones and cherishing those who are currently in his life.

Just recently I spoke to A-B-E about the beginning of the song, and what special meaning the voice clip had: "So that was actually my younger brother's voice. He left a voice message for my mom, greeting her and asking her for her blessing. He says that he heard she wanted to speak with him, and that he was home now so she could give him a call back when she got a chance. He finishes by saying he loves her and says good-bye."

"Real Wit Yaself"

As I've already covered this song, I'll just put a link to my earlier review. Always liked this song quite a lot.

"Getting Twisty"

You're in a club, the women are on the pounce, you pregame with some Jim Beam and you are turnt up. As the party club tune of the bunch, this song lets loose and the game changes. No longer are you in the middle of a childhood memory or in a troublesome bind. You're partying and chillin' with your friends, the harsh realities of life become faded and what was once negative turns positive. The drums, short vinyl scratches, and the electronic lead really remind me of Gin and Juice.

"Work It Out"

Breaking up is never easy. Both partners struggle and their ideals conflict. Sometimes you just gotta let it go and figure out a way to deal with your own problems on your own, for yourself. It's both parties fault or neither. More than that, it's about the social outcome, the family finding out, and maybe dealing with outward pressures by your peers and colleagues.

It's the "he says, she says" same ol' story, that leads to an inevitable decline in interest, which breaks the bonds to which both commit. The name of the game is compassion and forgiveness and having now been in a long distance relationship for 5 years now, the struggle is real. It's a mixture of missing, longing for, and growing together across 8,500 miles of land between us. This song tugs the heart strings for those who've been in, are currently in, or are longing for a mysterious significant other. I recommend it.

"Speak My Truth"

Sax, rhodes, 'n claps. As one of the more jazzier jams in the bunch, the song acts as a 2nd confessional moment in this album. He puts out his heartfelt feels towards his youthful years with pride and positive reinforcement. From all the things mentioned in "Like Dat", this feels like the opposite. It's just as much of a story but with happy endings. Instead of suicide, he has something to live for. Instead of leading those on a dark path, he becomes an embodiment of the light. Unlike infomercial televangelists, Abe spreads his faith to lift up those beneath him. I really like when rap is positive like this, it's something I'd be able to show just about anyone. Some people like crunk, some people like gangsta but with the vibes A-B-E is putting out, it's like the Nintendo Wii: It's for everyone.

"Chocolate Pomegranate"

If "Work It Out" was the ending of a relationship, then "Chocolate Pomegranate" represents its initiation. "You make life feel like it could never be painful..." The saying love is blind, isn't far from the truth: You don't truly know the feelings past what your hormones tell you in the beginning. It takes time to know someone. The song tip toes around the points of love from the start, and by the end it's as if years have passed and the relationship became solidified.

"No Better Feeling"

The ending to all great stories need an anthem. Like the 80's music montages in Rocky, Abe emphasizes his accomplishments, pushing past the obstacles that have pinned him down. I wonder if this was actually the last song produced on the album. In one of the messages he sent me, he said this: "...I wrote most of the album in a couple months, but it took about 3 years to raise all the money to register the trademark, purchase all the instrumentals, copyright, & all that jazz."

More than the rest of the album, this song conveys a sense of relief. A goal that's been accomplished, a person who's made amends, someone who made it somewhere and surpassed expectations, beating bullies who were pretenders.

"A South Bronx Tale" is an in-depth look into the life of an artist. Being from the city, making his way up the chains of command in the realm of hip hop couldn't have been harder yet, A-B-E's verbal assault of moral payloads within each beat never ceases to amaze me. It's inspiring to see how far the man has come since we last spoke. I couldn't believe it'd be 3 years since last hearing from him.

We all grow up. We all gather new experiences and sometimes it's necessary to "archive" the old ones. Otherwise, you just become overloaded and congested. Abe did an amazing job telling a story of his own; whether it was the good or the bad that came with maturity, there was passion behind it. The drive to make music equaled his joy of life.

This album releases on Nov 13th. Find out more here and join in for the launch party:

I give this album a 9.8 out of 10.

Thanks for reading.

- DjjD

Abraham Velazquez | A-B-E | Abe The Profit:


The Peace Poets:


Mixing and Mastering Done By: Mikaelin "Blue" Bluespruce
Edited By: Enmanuel "The Last Emcee" Candelario

Friday, October 2, 2015

Album Review: Trap City EP by Marvelous Southstar

'Trap City' by artist Marvelous Southstar (Marlon Carter) is a 7 track EP filled with a nice blend of contemporary hip hop/R&B laden beats. His smooth style paves the way with effortless fluidity combining rich vocals and polished beats. In my perspective, this album is both definitions of "trap" meaning the way the album is laid out, it traps you, captivating you to listen. Then from the first song, "Trapped" you are seized by a song that...incorporates trap. Very creative way to get your audience listening.

Some of my favorites:


Actively talking about what seems to be his life, Marvelous displays intense verbal rhythmic uniformity by conveying straight forward facts that pertain to: ability and sustainability or adaptation to recreation; sometimes spirituality to self-identity. The roots of this song are buried in what seems to be a cloud of despondency; it strikes deep because most (if not all of us) have felt the urge to break free. Set aside to concerns of monotonous everyday life, unshackle yourself, and be independent. Standing on your own two feet, being prepared for whatever life brings...that is what this is about. A liberating feeling but not without a sense of responsibility.


At 0:28 the lead synth drops into a clean 4/4 beat with a heavy bass (808?) complimented by an airy hi-passed pad. The drums drop out about a minute in and the artist takes center stage, professing feelings about a girl, talking about finances, giving a moment to the fans, and going back to talking about his girl. It's a simple, catchy tune that could get anyone moving in a club, but to really explore the emotional depth of this song, would require a new paragraph entirely.

His song brings up a point: What is worth your time? Concentrating on what we deem most valuable can cost what little moments of reconciliation and pleasantries we have in this world. What if you talked about how being focused on your life and wife has impacted your own stability, financially or emotionally? What consequences have you faced from being in a position where multiple things you care about repeatedly cause distress? Maybe I'm looking too deep but the song doesn't explore very many avenues in lyrical imagery. The song has a very defined structure and, being concrete in its arrangement, it allows one to "zone out"But the story-line, seems very general.


Everyone has problems and it'd be far from the truth to claim otherwise. Some deal with it in ways that tend to lean to the dark side (depression, anxiety, crime, etc) and others are more productive and creative. With relationship problems, there are two sides to every story. Each view could contradict dramatically from the other and with this song, we are allowed to hear exactly that from "call and answer" verses placed well between each chorus of the song. The beautiful vocals of Kagey Constance is quite a nice addition. It's a creative technique that really won me over and I believe more so than the vocals, it's the surrounding dark atmosphere that completes this track for me. A favorite for me. Recommended.

With a decent amalgam of decidedly favorable tunes, "Trap City" brandishes a swift yet cold Rapier onto the battlefield of UK Hip-Hip/Rap. His style is rapid yet subdued, providing a cornucopia of combos to achieve victory and claim a shot at the spot on top of the leaderboard. However, some of the sounds are re-used as intros and even though it's only a short clip you'd be surprised at what your brain remembers. It's a small issue on an otherwise swell journey. I enjoyed this album. You should listen to it. Thank you.

I give this album an 8.6 out of 10.

This album can be purchased either on iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify!

Thanks for Reading!

Marvelous Southstar:


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Single Review: "Polka Dot Dress" by Stained Glass Studios

Stained Glass Studios, is it a band? Is it a supergroup? Is it a glass blowing factory? The name simply poses too many questions for one to solve. It's simply too big a mystery for me. Or is it? Lead by Mike Antonio Jr. and Curtis Gruver, this new single advocates one's longing for a relaxed, happy, and cool life.

This song promotes the simpler things in life by its audible representation itself and while the name might not imply that (maybe?): the general structure, soft vocals, and casual nature of the percussion pushes you along a seemingly positive and serene journey. Remember years ago in a time where you thought about nothing, and looked up at the stars while eating some KFC? Yeah, it's kinda like that.

At 0:02 seconds in, you'll feel like you dropped something off of your desk. Until 0:25 the song is very reminiscent of 90's ska punk, with the quick guitar plucks followed by the bass. If you like bands such as Slightly Stoopid, Sublime, hell even The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, you'll find your head bobbing soon enough.

The music video is a trip, not as in a psychedelic one. The song spans 4:20 but, the clips that make up the video can't be more than 4-6 sec long per shot. So the video tells a tale of a party but it's done so in a way that matches up with the song; it makes you feel like you were there. Plenty of close-up shots on this have been either: slowed down, sped up, clipped, repeated, lightened, cropped, and otherwise mutilated. But? It works and works well.

Stained Glass Studios is a new band to watch out for in the future. This might be a first time endeavor but it's a strong one. It's one that really strikes an impression to those who listen close enough. If you've heard it more than 5 times, listen 5 more. Spread the word, fight the power! Peace out.

Stay Classy

- DjjD

Stained Glass Studios:


Monday, August 24, 2015

Single Review: "They Don't Put it Down Like You" by Yourz Truly ft. JC Collins

As stated on his Soundcloud:

"Rapper , singer , songwriter Quartez L. Binns better known as Y.T (Yourz Truly), started out as a R&B artist and would later go on to prove to be multi-talented as he took on Hip Hop as a freestyle rap battler, showcasing his lyrical skills during his high school years. Known for his diverse style and musical creativity, Yourz Truly is the first artist to be released on the indie label FaSho Records based in Atlanta."

Yourz Truly aspires to break out of the typical facet of hip-hop/R&B based with new and innovative beats meant for the dance floor and beyond. Whether your listening in your car or blasting in a cubicle at your workstation, "They Don't Put it Down Like You" is sure to get your body movin'; while I'd like to hear (and see) more freestyle raps from this young artist, with the two tracks currently present on his SoundCloud, his potential is very good for the future. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

At the start of the song, we have a mellow synth followed by some minor sounding chords. The song progresses nicely into a chorus and the main line of the song "They Don't Put it Down Like You". By a minute in, you realize this is a chillin' on the couch type of song. It's not overly complex and it doesn't need to be. The lyrics compliment the 16th hi-hats, and the bass accommodates the ample room left for the short but sweet piano plucks.

The song is very well written and the overall theme is one of love and respect. The song provokes a strong emotion for objectiveness, implying the other party (for which the song is about) is one of a kind. Hence, "They Don't Put it Down Like You". R&B is a strong genre for these particular "feels" and this song definitely nurtures those feels. Much like the conclusion of many video games, movies, or novels, you want the struggling hero to succeed. It is the classic tale of the underdog looking to seek out and obtain his goal.

However, as much as I like this song, as I stated before, it's not overly complex. If you're looking for a track that has a variation of time signature, a change of key or a turn of tempo...this might not be for you. The track very much maintains a stagnant feel, but it is one of a catchy nature.

This is a great song and I highly recommend you be on the lookout for Yourz Truly. His style is unique, his flows fresh, and his beats tasteful.

I give this track a 9.3 out of 10.

Thank you for reading!


Label Homepage:

ahem...yours truly,

- DjjD

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Album Review: 'Steampunk Cybercrunk' by Dataphiles

Dataphiles, a resident of South London, is an independent music producer, sound designer, and self-proclaimed Reaktor mangler. Utilizing an astounding amount of textures, Dataphiles manages to create a very unique sound amongst electronic artists. Blurring the lines between conventional traits of digital audio workstation productions, it's quite apparent through sounds used, this artist is a lover of music.

As stated on his Bandcamp page:

"Steampunk Cybercrunk is based on the concept of two realities colliding: the alternate past of infinite opportunity that is Steampunk and the laser laden, futuristic but dystopian world of Cyberpunk. It combining elements of electro-swing, dubstep, house and classical music to create a fresh approach to the electronica EP."

While I do feel this album does represent two different worlds of audible nourishment, it feels much more vast than that. Each track feels like a strong representation of influence, even if it's hazy on where it came from or how it functioned in the grand scheme of the album's tone. Which truly makes me think that even the slightest, shortest sample picked up by our senses can create the most dramatic of differences in how we perceive audio in any given space or time.

"Beep Beep Baby":

Bell ringer? Electro-Swing is in the house. If you're a fan of Parov Stelar, The McMash Clan, or're going to dig this. The chopped up brass contorted with sidechaining basses and all manner of unusual percussion make this a delightful groove that doesn't take much effort to jive to. And while it does progress and add variety to the percussion throughout the tune, it doesn't really introduce much melodic variation. Subtle diversity enumerates growth in a artistic expression and while I do feel this is a tune meant mainly for the dance floor - and not at an isolated location in a garage - hearing it as a critic/nit-picker: the inclusion of a key change might've worked well at 2:45 after the breakdown.

"Remember Me":

Emphasizing a much darker, minor tone, "Remember Me" reminds me of early Unreal Tournament music. A driving, murky tune that accentuates mellow yet distressing hints of general eeriness. It's hard to pin down a mood for this one, honestly. It's like if Nine Inch Nails mixed with Maniacs of Noise. Not much else to say about this one, I can dig it!


Oh yes, breaks. Breakbeat. Breakwinning more like it. I love breaks, everything about them gets me hyped up for something. This song, introducing - as you might have guessed - a synthesized harp, creates a familiar yet distant approach to a genre I cherish greatly. Good chopping on the drums, the disjointed breakdown (at 2:04) really adds an uncommon rhythm to this style of music. Reminiscent of a good friend of mine...this song hits a soft spot for me, and is my favorite track on this collection. I'd gladly listen to this song over and over and over.

"Waltzing with the Devil":

Being the longest track on the EP, it's no surprise that it also features the most amount of variation of any track. So here's my narrative take on this track: A robot, a self aware robot named B0b was slumping his way across the dystopian, futuristic city of Kwan Loong, when he came across a hooded figure on the side of the street. The hooded figure began talking to B0b, but when he couldn't understand (not being programmed to understand English), the hooded figure began playing a tune on his fiddle. With excitement, B0b walked with the stranger, understanding very little of this magical talent when the hooded figured handed the fiddle to B0b, and struck a deal saying, "My power could be yours, if your free-will is bound to me." B0b looked at the stranger and glared back at the fiddle, analyzing the hooded figure's lip movement to the electromagnetic pulses emitted by the fiddle and suddenly figured out the intention. In an instant, the robot had gained all he needed recreating a history of all the previous notation that had been played by the hooded figure, and handed back the fiddle...walking off into the distance.

A very pleasant and original tune, this one.

This is certainly one of the more original albums to head in my general direction. I'm always happy to hear something new but I'm obligated to review accurately. The general production of this album is good: There is no clipping and all tracks remain sonically cohesive. The tracks serve as a platter of unique resonance and for the most part, it would be enjoyable to everyone who doesn't wish to listen with a sense of constructive criticism in mind. While I would've preferred a bit more headroom in "Harpsix" to widen the sound of the track, that does not make it a bad track. Production and arrangement are two very different things, and if the world listened more closely to the two elements presented in most digital'd be a happier place. Or not.

Regardless, this is an album that is worth listening to, in my honest opinion. The potential for this artist can only grow from here and I anticipate hearing his future endeavors!

Thanks for reading!


I give this album a 8.4 out of 10.

Follow Dataphiles:


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Album Review: Finding My Home by Postać

Hailing from Buffalo, NY, Postać debuts on the DjjD blog with his new album titled, "Finding My Home". Having 8 years of musical experience with various instruments, this artist released a 10 track collection of the deep, chilling tones of icy coolness. As I write this, it's snowing outside at a chilly 28 F, this album fits more than you might realize. It may not be the largest album I've ever reviewed, but man, the tracks really hit the spot for me.

"Finding My Home," really sets the foundation aesthetic for the whole album. A nice intro, complimented with a wide yet glassy pad which in turn introduces all of the floating, delicate melodies surrounding the percussion which, despite it's simple texture to the song...totally works in this case. Is your house an igloo? There's such a crystalline glow about this song, it's hard to describe but, imagine someone tapping on tuned, transparent wine tasting glasses and that's about as close as I can get to a description. This is great and it also, reminds me of another song, who is from a really good friend of mine. I could, see a collaboration happening.


Only getting better from there, the next track, "The Clock Keeps Ticking", really emphasizes the glassy feel from the first but somehow manages to represent a total change in structure and mixing. Now I could be wrong, but it feels like a lot of time when by between the production of the first track and the second one, there's a vast improvement here. Things feel much wider and thus...envelopes the listener more.

I took a few moments to ask Postac his background in music and ask if there was anything he'd like to say to his fans:

"Postac is from Buffalo New York.

Postac started in middle school as the creator, lead singer, and guitarist for the punk rock band Tripod Black. The band dissolved shortly after perusing a B.A. in Music Industry where Postac honed his musical skills in classical guitar, jazz, and classical composition.

Postac has been writing and composing music for a little over 8 years.

Greenday was the band that inspired Postac into music with their album American Idiot. Music from the 80's and 90's from the U.S. and Europe (having lived there for 3 years) has been a huge influence, so artist like Peter Shilling, Coldplay, Dido, Roysopp, to name a few have been heavy inflences. Also music from Kenai Kawai, Philip Glass, Baden Powell, and Charlie Parker have been inspiring and influential."

You know when I started this blog, I wanted to find music I could relate with. I wanted to find artists that could challenge my perception as a critic to find better qualities in instrumentation, arrangement, and whatever else. The goal? It'd be as much of a learning experience for me as well as a promotional advantage for whoever I'd be writing about. I'd be gaining new insights for different types of music and how artists ebb and flow across a digital or analog workstation while it might help them out to be exposed to the people I've met, who might read this blog.

Most times, it's a really easy process. Pure honesty here folks. You take a few tunes, you listen to them over and over until you're singing them in your head without help from speakers/headphones. You judge, you decide, you make several inquisitions and you piece together the results of what you've appreciated or disliked from your pros 'n cons chart.

This album, "Finding My Home" relates to those paragraphs in a way that's kind of existential. Music is freeing, yet the more you travel down the path of a composer/producer, the more away from "home" it feels like. This album is definitely one of the best I've had the pleasure to listen to in 2015 so far. It's chilling, soothing, unique, and it provides classy production.

Thanks for reading!


I give this album a 9.3 out of 10