Wesleyan, in recently years, has churned out almost as many rappers as it has unpaid interns. Most of these rappers are also unpaid, but recent graduates Kill-F (anon '13) and producer Mouthfeel (Dan Nass '13) have turned this paradigm on its head with Isn't it Rich? EP, where the idea of accruing wealth becomes an opaque rhetorical question. After listening to the EP I had to know what exactly "It" was to these two musicians. I sent them some questions, trying to get at the heart of their art, only to become permanently suspended in my search for meaning.Read More
Two reviews?! Why is this? Why not? Aural Wes presents two takes on The Japanese's new EP:
Wesleyan's super-senior/alumni alt-rock band The Japanese (Adrien DeFontaine ’13, Neo Sora ’14, and Dan Moakley ’13) released their Skyward EP last month, featuring three newly-penned songs and a more thoroughly-engineered sound throughout. Skyward is The Japanese's second EP, and was crowd-funded via a kickstarter campaign full of funny things.Read More
Sweeping lo-fi sound waves, made from eerie drones reminiscent of human screams, make up the most recent release from Sophomore rapper Kai Leshne [kai OD]. The beat is remarkably dark and almost atonal with its smooth, ghostly vocals. This is one of the few tracks kai OD has leaked from his upcoming full length release titled Atlantis Campus. The vocals on "zooted" are more spoken than other on tracks, some of which are reminiscent of the Weeknd's House of Balloons. Each has its own unique flair, making this a Wes release to look out for. Stay tuned for Atlantis Campus coming in April.Read More
M. Vaughn would be the king of Wesleyan’s 2-Step/deep house scene, if only it existed. Michael Vaughn ‘16, who producers under M. Vaughn, has gone from posting about Electric Zoo on WesAdmits to producing deep house tracks that are perhaps too subtle and sensitive to be given a chance amidst the tank topped hedonism that takes place on Randall’s Island every September. That is a great compliment, I think. M. Vaughn's new Nafe EP and “FADERD MIX [for Aural Wes]” showcase the “yung” producer’s keen ear for infectious melodies and hooks. Both the EP and mix exhibit Vaughn’s harkening back to groundbreaking house and garage producers like MK and Todd Edwards in his production. Deep house and 2-step have re-entered the underground club zeitgeist in recent years, and M. Vaughn is prepared to set himself apart from the trends with some snark and weirdness strikingly absent from most club CDJs. Just look for him “waiting at your local drop,” begging you to join him in a more thoughtful sphere of ignorance.Read More
At their energetic Eclectic show in September, the Wes-alumni trio Big Tusk—comprised of Sam Long, Howe Pearson, and David Thompson—delivered a number of their new Flood EP’s then-unreleased songs. While the live energy and personality of these great guys is experienced from afar on record, Flood makes up for it with an engaging attention to sonic detail.Read More
Face it, as much as you’ve tried, sometimes it’s hard to consume everything that the internet opinion machine shits out into the “good” pile. What if you missed another single that revives the sounds of r&b radio hits from the early 2000’s because you were busy listening to the other 3000 that came out this year? What about all those weird ambient/screamo/vaporwave records that nobody could possibly listen to more than twice but nonetheless are placed among the best of the year? Why is your favorite white-guys-with-guitars/glasses band listing Soulja Boy among their biggest influences? Why, if feminism in music is in the midst of a renaissance, is Pitchfork telling you R Kelly is cool again? And right next to that blurb on the Julia Holter record? Are you still unsure if you’re technically allowed to listen to overproduced club music that’s been arbitrarily designated as something with artistic merit seemingly out of nowhere? What if you read the wrong blog, and now your friends think you’re an idiot because you don’t understand the post-internet genius of Yeezus?
Don’t worry, the end of the year “best records” list is here, and everything you’re supposed to like/feel/believe/identify-with-based-on-your-niche-market-demographic is in one convenient place. Click through the slideshow below for our selections...
Don't agree? We missed something? WHERE IS DRAKE?
These next three days will be the second-to-last weekend of the semester for concerts. So it's time to HAVE FUN. From massive synth pop to afrobeat fusion, there's sure to be something for you to enjoy. Check out our previews after the jump!Read More
Rapper / poet Rhys Podell '16 has been making waves around campus recently with his many freestyle, musical, and spoken-word performances. As well as being a member of hip-hop / jazz group The New School, Podell has been releasing a few songs of his own under the name Rhys Langston. Aural Wes contributor Alexandra White caught up with Rhys a few weekends ago for some insight into his enigmatic poetic and musical feats.Read More
Get ready for a weekend absolutely stuffed with concerts! From touring hardcore acts to student soul fusion bands, there's sure to be something for you to enjoy. Check out our previews after the jump!Read More
It started out stupid, like every other night. We pre-gamed in WestCo and listened to nostalgic 90s rap. Everyone got too drunk. Nobody wanted to smoke weed or have sex with my visiting friends. What seemed like any night I may have had at college – or at home in Minnesota, for that matter – soon devolved into a sanguine shit show which the student body of Wesleyan may very well remember for years to come.
“it’s weird cause I really only remember after falling through the roof. I vividly remember plastic breaking and then blood everywhere.”
The atmosphere at Eclectic House prior to my friend’s fall was much like every other show this school year. I was surrounded by people whose names I knew but whose personalities I could not actually tell you very much about, telling stories to girls who were almost certainly not interested. On the Eclectic balcony, bumming cigarettes from people who indirectly fund my burgeoning habit in exchange for passible conversation, I was unmistakably in my comfort zone.
“The night up to falling was pretty blurry. I’m on the skylight, I hear a crack, I hear someone say ‘oh shit oh shit oh shit’ and then I hear another crack and see the ground and I think ‘oh shit’”
The idea for this story started when, in a stupor that he has since attributed to “percs”, my friend – the infamous “Skylight Kid” – accidentally sent an email to Aural Wes instead of ‘that band with the long name.’ He later conceded that this move was characteristic of an “idot” (sic). One fifteen-minute-long drug-fueled interview later, I had all of the information I needed to write a semi-accurate facsimile of the time when I passed up that “The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die” concert for a night in the Middlesex Hospital Waiting Room.
The first words Skylight Kid said to me during the interview were “frosty…super frosty…like dairy queen blizzard level frosty” which were apparently intended to characterize his level of inebriation. The more we talked, the more the events of Saturday, October 12th - and the earlier hours of Sunday morning - began to creep back into the kid’s mind.
Another one of my friends (who wishes not to be named) jostled past me and urgently shouted “Code red,” which I naturally interpreted as, "somebody dropped the blunt." Fuck me, right? I would have preferred something along the lines of “your dumbass friend just fell 15 feet through two layers of glass and needs immediate medical attention right fucking now.” As I was not fully aware of the circumstances, I sent a text reading “you guys good?” and finished my cigarette before investigating the incident.
“People all over campus have asked me how it happened. Friends, teachers, deans, janitors and I’m just like… ‘I was drunk’… so yeah I don’t really understand how people ask that question.”
With that explanation, Skylight Kid joined a timeless lineage of wrongdoers for whom “I was fucked up” is a valid excuse for any and all inappropriate behavior. He hit the ground, miraculously landing on his feet. Skylight “noticed a lot of blood” and stumbled into the closest room, taking several steps on an ankle that was later confirmed as broken. He wasn’t in a lot of pain but immediately asked onlookers to “take me to the hospital.”
The first students on the scene astutely chose to call an ambulance. Without disclosing too much information, I can assure you that nobody was in the right state to drive a car. At least one responder’s face stayed in a painted, cartoonlike expression of awe. After sitting down and having some timely first aid performed, the pain finally set in. Skylight Kid was drunk, dizzy and terrified.
“Out of nowhere, this girl started petting my head and that calmed me down so much.”
He remembers it like a dream. My injured friend was met by a sea of unrecognizable heads while getting carted out of Eclectic on a stretcher. By this point, word had already spread. An accident of this nature couldn’t be kept secret for long. My friends and I jostled for Instagram fame and a Public Safety Officer remarked that he “must have been doing it for the pussy.” It’s become a cliché, but this shit was like a movie.
“I had a mental shift in the hospital. The adrenaline went down and I started to realize what happened.”
They couldn’t give him an IV because the ambulance ride was too bumpy. At this point, Skylight Kid was finally aware of the stakes of his fall. He had no head or neck injuries, which seems to be an incredibly fortunate outcome for one stupid motherfucker. When I first saw him in the hospital, my friend looked almost Christlike, his arms strewn to either side of his body like a plea to the heavens. His right arm took the most severe damage from the broken glass, and would receive over twenty stitches and sutures later that night. The rest of my evening was spent alternating between three locales: Middlesex Hospital waiting room, across the street from Middlesex Hospital (cigarettes not allowed within 25 feet of the building) and the Taco Bell on Washington Street (I plead the fifth).
“They didn’t wake me up for breakfast cause, you know, why would I want food? Instead, they wake me up for Percocet.”
We left the hospital at 4 AM with instructions to return at 7. We returned at 7 and were given instructions to return at 9. My pounding headache and the blunt reality of daylight certainly made matters worse. Skylight kid was eventually picked up at the hospital by his grandma, who lives in Hartford and was described as “chill as fuck.” He came back to Wesleyan to pick up his stuff from my room and hobbled around campus like some kind of human Jenga tower, his left arm maneuvering a crutch while his right leg dangled several inches from the ground (the damage to his right arm prevented him from putting weight on it). Skylight kid looked as though he may totter over from even the slightest breeze. The world is a beautiful place indeed.
Weeks later, my friend is back at his ‘prestigious east coast college.’ He was given a scooter to get to-and-from classes, and received a free pair of shoes from Supra by sending them a picture of his bloodied sneakers (with the ridiculous story included). Skylight kid has suffered no long-term injuries other than a slightly bruised ego, which he probably needed. Since that fateful night, the Eclectic balcony has never felt so good.
“All things considered, that was one trill weekend. What actually happened to that blunt though?”
Each week, several Aural Wes contributors write up tracks that they have on repeat. In this edition, the word "friggin'" is reintroduced into our lexicon. Listen to these tracks and friggin' enjoy yourself you friggin' frig.Read More
The Dead Burb aggregation collective seeks to share music amongst human beings and unveil connections and stories that make people more comfortable in producing any kind of anything.
It is new. It is for publication. It is for collaboration. It is for engagement. It is for you.Read More
Tonsil Hockey is a Wes power pop trio consisting of Jason Katzenstein, Zak Malik, and Adrien DeFontaine. They released their EP Good Luck on Tuesday, delivering three well-produced tracks full of crunchy power chords, catchy hooks, and mushy teenage angst.Read More
Let’s Party Hats! Hats! Hats! just self-released their Pain Hurts EP, a 13-minute collection of distorted madness, exacted aggression, and almost-discernable samples. The band is made up of three musicians familiar to many of those on campus who make music and attend many concerts: Adam Johnson ’14 (vocals/guitar), Sean Winnik ’14 (vocals/ saxophone/guitar), and Nate Repasz ’14 (drums). The group has become a staple on campus this year, performing at The Mash, Art House, and soon Eclectic, where they’re performing this Thursday with Diarrhea Planet.Read More
‘Underground Hip Hop’ is a dangerous term. Over the last 20 years, what used to be a practical classification of non-mainstream rap (read: not played on the radio in the time when the radio really mattered) has taken on enough sub-par flak (read, again: Immortal Technique) that it's become a term I try to avoid using. The contents of ‘underground’ rap, however, have remained much the same: it’s hip-hop that a) still isn’t played often on mainstream radio, b) isn’t merchandised/sold through mainstream capitalist channels, and c) is looked down upon or ignored by the average rap listener.
In 2013, ‘Underground Hip Hop’ is analogous to mixtape rap. Aside from some mixtapes that are received (and produced to sound) like official albums, the internet mixtape is a true conveyer of the sub-cultures within modern American rap music. Mixtapes are often rushed and imperfect, sometimes terrible, practically never flawless, but that’s precisely what makes them the most exciting element of current rap. Any given mixtape (or any given song off of a given mixtape) by any given artist can either be revolutionary or entirely forgettable, and oftentimes the mixtapes we find to be forgettable are the ones which influence the revolutionary mixtapes to come.
This column is - or will try to be, at least - an evaluator of modern underground and mixtape rap. I’ll select five songs that I’ve been listening to over the week, make brief judgements of such, and provide the means for you to listen to them. The songs are often messy and imperfect, and my selection of songs like these is entirely intentional and never ever ironic*. Try not to make quick judgements when listening to the music, and go into each song with as little musical bias as you can. Listen to them loudly on good speakers and play them in social settings; yell with them and dance with them. It’s a music created by people having fun for people who want to have fun. Treat it so, and you’ll understand why it’s the most important American genre of the 21st century.
Now, this week’s round-up:
Chief Keef, ‘Love No Thotties’
If this is the only love song Chief Keef ever makes, I’d be both completely satisfied and somewhat disappointed. He’s doing his best Drake impression - muffled girl-on-the-phone and all - aside from the fact that his idea of a romantic relationship is one in which he shows his flown-in-fuckbuddy 100,000 dollars. The beat is typical of post-2012 Keef: it’s ebullient and childish, a mirror to Keef’s disconnected attitude towards ‘Thots’ (That Hoe Over There). Even when his song is based around the most misogynistic conception of a girlfriend you could probably ever have, Keef shows some emotion - ‘If I smoke this blunt girl I’m gon’ forget you,’ he croons, and suddenly the man behind ‘Don’t Like’ is uncharacteristically vulnerable. Not enough, however, to disregard one of his closing thoughts: ‘If I book your flight/Is you gonna top me?’ he asks of his iPhone-companion. Nice one, Keef.
Rich Homie Quan, ‘Another Me’
A brief synopsis of this song: Rich Homie Quan denies that he’s copied Future’s sound while sounding almost exactly like Future. Many rappers rarely ever make much sense, but this level of unintentional irony is something I haven’t seen in a long time (that is, ever since Common dissed Drake for being an overly-sympathetic bitch). In an even more ironic twist of fate, Quan’s song is arguably better (and more Future-like) than anything Future has released over the past year. The song displays Quan in full-force croon-mode - his voice wavers with soulful passion, peaking in emotion at each palpitating 808-thump of the song’s tinkling Southern production. ‘I’m the f(F)uture, stop comparing us,’ he boasts, only to later apologize with a self-remonstrating ‘I can’t help how I sound.’ It doesn’t really make sense, but that’s evidently what’s expected of Quan.
Thaiboy Digital - ‘f e r r e g a m o g o l d’
There seems to be two kinds of people who like Yung Lean and his Sad Boys collective: irony-seeking Lil B fans trying to find a new source of hip-hop absurdism and earnest Lil B fans trying to find something that people will take them seriously about. I’m with the latter, although I’m also unsure that the Sad Boys entirely satisfy either of these group’s needs. With ‘f e r r a g a m o g o l d,’ Sad Boy affiliate Thaiboy Digital has hit the blind spot in-between these two collectives - the song’s production, with its Shlohmo-esque synths and and Mike Will-esque drums, would be noticeably remarkable even to Yung Lean/cloud rap outsiders (read: people who liked J. Cole’s album better than Yeezus), but Thaiboy’s whiny metallic croons keep the song solidified in the semi-absurd lands of internet-hop. I can’t really understand what he is whining about (so I won’t even attempt to analyze it), although that’s also exactly what I want from a Sad Boy song.
Duke Da Beast, ‘Lo Lo’
Even though we all have trap rap to thank for the overall revitalization of mainstream hip-hop, the whole testosterone-charged/pseudo-villainous sound of people like Lex Luger (and his offshoots) has gotten pretty tired. Many intelligent rappers are picking up on this, and the spritely sounds of ‘happy rap’ (think Yung Joc in 2006 mixed with some 2012 Future) are leaking back into the general hip-hop groupthink. Duke Da Beast, a post-drill Chicago rapper, has become somewhat of a master of this sing-songy sound, and his recently released ‘Lo Lo’ serves as a near-perfect example of what’s exciting about rap right now. His bridge - ‘I be flexin/Runnin through a check/I’m off a molly in this bitch’ - climbs upwards along with the song’s sugary beat, his vocal emphatics mirroring the molly-induced ‘I’m-on-top-of-the-world!’ mania of the entire track. If the song stands for anything, it’s the much-awaited shift in hip-hop from dark to light. Noz would be happy.
Meek Mill, ‘Hip Hop’
I generally try to keep a safe distance from any ‘boom-bap’ rap being released in 2013 (If I wanted to listen to boom-bap, I’d listen to real boom-bap like this, not pretentious 17-year-old ‘I’m saving hip-hop’ boom-bap like this. This rant, however, is for another column). The reason why Meek’s ‘Hip Hop’ is good boom-bap is precisely the fact that Meek never does boom-bap, but always does crazy apocalyptic movie-type shit. Instead of trying to be some rapper from 1991, Meek takes his yell-in-the-booth attitude to ‘Hip Hop’s’ sparse beat, creating some surreal cross-generational smorgasbord of excellent rap music. ‘They jealous my album sellin/Jealous that I ain’t jealous,’ Meek raps, and he’s pretty much right about his hip-hop contemporaries. Should’ve taken that deal, buddy.
*Irony, and the tendencies of modern critics to implement it in their evaluations of music, is the antithesis to mixtape/underground hip-hop listening. It requires of both critic and listener that they immediately dismiss an imperfect song as absurd, ignoring the fact that the imperfection may be intentional or add to the overall quality of the music. More about this in later columns.