Posted tagged ‘brown bag all stars’

Chaz Kangas’ FREE album ‘A Personal Reference’ is OUT NOW! DOWNLOAD HERE!

April 1, 2011

Here's the cover!

As I type this, it’s 11:21 PM on March, 28th 2011, year of our Lord. In about a half-hour I will be releasing something that I’ve been working on for almost two years, longer than I’ve worked on any other project, to the cold unforgiving void of the internet. While I’ve never been more confident in anything with my name attached to it*, there is a certain number of butterflies/dragonflies/fireflies in my stomach to match my excitement. Since there may be a number of you who read this site unfamiliar with my musical endeavors, allow me to demystify the previous paragraph and explain that the very Chaz Kangas who has been shocking your eyelids with reviews of the KFC Double Down and Top Ten Lists of obscene rap videos is a rap artist himself and really doesn’t like speaking in third person so let me cut to the chase and say my album A PERSONAL REFERENCE is available for FREE RIGHT HERE:

A Personal Reference

A Personal Reference (Clean Version)

Being this blog is my primary long-form contact with the world, I’ve been going back-and-forth about how I was going to write about it. Strange as it may sound, I’ve never really been a big “talk about my own music” type of guy. I’ve known plenty of people who respond to a “Hey, what’s up?” with a 15 minute monologue about their latest project, but that’s never really been me. While I appreciate their enthusiasm for..themselves(?), I’m well aware that I’m the guy who once wrote 1,000 words on the Street Fighter soundtrack, so I guess my conversational passion falls in the category of everyone’s music EXCEPT my own. Still, A Personal Reference is my baby and I absolutely love reading artists I admire talk about their own work, so on the off-chance anyone actually likes the music I make, I think I owe it to them to explain how these 38 minutes of madness came to be.

I had known Richard (AKA Good Goose) for about a year. His group Menya had become one of my favorite live acts after a few subsequent conversations at different Nyle concerts, decided we wanted to work together. We recorded the first song “Garlic” a week after the Union Square Virgin Megastore, the last Virgin Megastore in the Western World, closed. I had been working there and going down with the ship was a sad process. I was a year out of college and in the five years I had been there seen New York City completely change. Everyone whose ever lived in NYC for any period of time has echoed this sentiment, but it seemed like everything in my life was slipping away really, really fast. When it comes to any art, I’ve always believed a changing man is infinitely more interesting than a changed man**, and the changes over the past two years that Goose and I made this album were among the biggest in my life. I put them all out on the table, made some obscure references about them, a few quick puns, and recorded it, and there you have A Personal Reference.

Here's the tracklisting!

As you can probably tell, I’ve very pleased with the record. The guest appearances, from Mac Lethal disemboweling “Scrambled Eggs” as the Q-Tip to my Mobb Deep, Alaska sending up conspiracy theorists on the political-rap satire “Truth ‘n’ Stuffz” and Homeboy Sandman bringing his special brand of awesome to “I Think, I Know,” I’m as excited to share their contributions as I am my own. J57 and Coco Dame make some fine cameos as well. Caroline Sinders took some incredible pictures of us at an Arby’s and Sneed put together a fantastic layout. My cousin Nick also bought me the Bloodsport t-shirt for Christmas two years prior, and I attribute that to my success more than anything.

That’s all I’m going to say about the album unprovoked. If you have any questions about it, put them in the comments and I will gladly reply. I’m not going to rate the album as this is the one time I might be slightly bias so in the name of my own credibility I’m going to refrain from giving it the world’s first seven out of five rating.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*With the possible excepting being a short film I made in 2002 for my American History class that had Louie Armstrong, Al Capone and Charles Lindberg snowed-in at a cabin they each though they had rented on the same weekend. Yes, I stand by Louie & Charlie’s Cabin Fever to-this-day as the most entertaining way for your children to learn about the Scopes Trial, Prohibition and Sinclair Lewis.

**If you’ve ever see Nyle’s “Let the Beat Build” video (and let’s be real, who hasn’t), when he says the line “my best friend says that music comes from someone in transition,” he’s referring to me. I’m also a “zigazig-ah.”

Homeboy Sandman “The Good Sun” – Album Review

May 28, 2010

'Good Sun?' More like 'Great Sun,' amirite?

All too often when an up-and-coming rapper gets a certain amount of buzz, his momentum becomes a period instead of a comma. Their snowballing careers either melt in a sea of mixtapes without a proper release, or their output becomes a homogenized unthreatening let down where, in an effort to reach more fans, removes everything that made them great. With Queens-born Homeboy Sandman being one of the most unique voices in recent memory, the question of whether or not his eclectic electric eccentricities will continue on his new album The Good Sun is a valid one. Fortunately for us, Sandman is making music for an audience of one – himself, and we’re all the lucky crowd who overhears it.

Homeboy Sandman’s place in today’s New York Hip-Hop scene is that of a meteor that studied the Earth for several rotations, gaining momentum before the moment of impact in early 2007, effectively rendering the stagnant boom-bap dinosaurs as fossils who would either have to evolve or face extinction. He’s become such an accessible and beloved figure not because he’s studied his favorite records, but because he loves them enough to leave them in the past. He isn’t someone who has just heard a lot of rap music, he’s someone who really listened. He understands what makes his favorite records great and why they’re great, and then turns around to apply what he’s learned to his own music. Following two hugely successful underground albums in Nourishment and Actual Factual Pterodactyl, Sandman became the face of a new generation, landing in The Source’s Unsigned Hype and countless other magazines, blogs and media outlets. Instead of this success going to his head and altering his sound toward more commercial affairs, Sandman has instead faced something of an existential crisis and lucky for us he’s put it all on record. I’ve always believed, especially in Hip-Hop, that a changing man is infinitely more interesting than a changed man, and The Good Sun is 50 minutes of socio-studio therapy tackling everything from the food he puts into his body to why people look at him funny. Imagine Resurrection-era Common Sense recording The Marshall Mathers LP and you have an idea of how engaging this record is.

As engaging as the “message” or “content” of The Good Sun is, what puts it over the top as one of the best albums of 2010 is Sandman’s incredible performance. His manta for years has been “flow so dope, don’t need lyrics with lyrics so dope, don’t need flow” and he has both down to absolute perfection. Something of an East Coast one-man Freestyle Fellowship, Sandman is the type of listener who has become an absolute virtuoso of his craft who is still constantly challenging himself, always innovating and making himself better in the process. Sandman has described his writing style in the past as listening to a beat, hearing what Jazz melodies (which he grew up on) would sound best over them, constructing a flow of vocal inflections and then writing rhymes to best match that flow. He approaches every track with his ear first and lets his mouth follow. While he makes it a point to describe himself as “not pop,” the melodies and hooks on The Good Sun are among the catchiest in modern rap music, underground or mainstream.

"The Good Son" is Sandman's most Nourishing album yet.

What’s refreshing about The Good Sun is precisely that a rap album in 2010 can still be so artistically bold and groundbreaking without sacrificing being a pleasant, enjoyable listen. While his aforementioned previous efforts showed shades of this, they were often marred by an uneven sound quality and missteps caused from Sandman getting a little too outthere. On this record, however, Sandman has set some very specific boundaries for himself allowing his experimental energy to flourish within these conventions resulting in a much more cohesive listen. It’s the moments he drifts from this formula that the record’s few flaws surface. Songs like “The Essence” (produced by 2 Hungry Brothers) which has a tremendous beat and great verses is marred by a hook that is too busy for its own good. By that same token, the album opens with the two minute completely instrumental overture “Core Rhythm” (named after the track’s producer) and while it sounds good out-of-context and would make for a nice intro for the album in a smaller dose, its length really bogs down repeat listens. But these missteps are few and far between as Sandman has made a tremendous effort in polishing and perfecting The Good Sun as not just a statement, but a manifesto.

The album closes with “Angels with Dirty Faces” (produced by Grind Time Beat-Battle champ J57 of the Brown Bag All Stars) a touching exploration of the plight of the homeless in modern society that pulls no punches (“Imagine you was dying, nobody helped you / if ain’t nobody listen you might talk to yourself too / turning up you nose holding your nose going ‘phew’ / church, all in the front row, filling the whole pew”) and stands a great example of the Homeboy Sandman aesthetic. While he raises a heavy hand at times, it’s just to face palm the forgotten absurdities of the world around him. The Good Sun is the result of a genuine Hip-Hop fan understanding what makes a rap album great and then putting his own spin on it. With his great ear for production choosing further gems from the likes of Ski Beatz, Psycho Les and Ben Grymm, as well as making the best possible use of guest appearances from Fresh Daily, John Robinson and Daniel Joseph, it’s the type of album that’s the surprise gift rap fans didn’t know they wanted. It’s proof that Homeboy Sandman is The Good Sun that will not be eclipsed.

We give The Good Sun a Four Out of Five.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!