The Magic Of Music: Sam Lachow

Sam Lachow is a producer, songwriter, rapper, videographer, director, and editor of video and music.

Raised in both Seattle and New York City he’s been making videos since elementary school, and as a seventh-grader began a group called Shankbone. Sam began directing and producing music videos with Shankbone and went on to create videos for various other artists.

 

Then in 2011, Sam released his debut project as a solo artist, “Brand New Bike”. Produced entirely by Sam, the album utilized many live instruments from musicians based in Seattle and New York. The next year Sam released 2 EP’s and produced/directed dozens of music videos from the projects on his YouTube channel, which now has over 7 million views.

I had an amazing chance to attend his show with Rittz when they rolled through the Complex on November 9th to talk about his successes within his music. Check out the interview below!

First off, how are you doing? 

I’m doing so good, man! We just had a really great show at the Complex. The crowd was amazing – it was fun!

Glad to hear that! Do you like Salt Lake City?

I actually really do! I don’t like the weird laws, but it’s a beautiful place. The crowd’s always turnt up.

What inspired you to get into the rap game?

It started out as a complete hobby! In 6th grade, I started a band called Shankbone – it was me and two other Jewish kids because a shank bone is a Jewish dish! Then people started really liking it and that’s when I realized I was good at it. So I just kept doing it and then I went to college in New York, and at the same time, I knew I wanted to make music for a living.

When you got into rapping, were there any musical instruments that inspired you to do what you do now? 

I’m a drummer! I love live music so in my beats, I try to incorporate live music. But I’m not really good at any instrument, so I hire people that are really good at them and I tell them what I want. I was lucky to go to a high school where there was a great jazz band, so I know a bunch of incredible musicians.

Growing up, which artists did you look up to? 

For rappers, I’m a big flow man – lyrics are great, of course, but I’m into the flow. For example, you can’t write a good drum solo. I would say I look up to Notorious B.I.G. and Andre 3000! I also love Devin the Dude, who’s not as known, but his beats inspire me a lot.

Touring with Rittz, how does it feel? How did you gain the opportunity to join this tour? 

It’s not the most entertaining story, but we found out Rittz was going on tour and he doesn’t have a big following up in the Pacific Northwest, but my following up there is big. So we struck a deal with him that if I went on the tour, we would bring a shit ton of people out to the Pacific Northwest shows. Meanwhile, he has a huge following down here, and we had never met, we just talked online! But we decided to do it! He’s a cool dude though! He’s been in the game for a long time and he’s got amazing stories. I’ve been learning a lot from this tour!

Out of all the songs you produced, which one would you say is your favorite and why?

I go by what I still tolerate and listen to because I’ve heard my songs so many times. I love “Dreams of Gold” though because it’s just really good! I remember making it by a collaborative effort and it was a good time in my life!

If you were to give an aspiring rapper a piece of advice, what would you say to them? 

Make sure that it’s a complete passion! It can’t be something you’re doing because you want to become a famous rapper because that’s one in a billion. You have to do it because you love doing it. I would do it even if I wasn’t making a living for it. It would be something I would do all the time. Don’t think about making a bunch of money because fans can tell if you are making real music or if you’re just trying to be a “rapper”.

What was the most recent TV show that you binge-watched?

Curb Your Enthusiasm! It’s my favorite show! People compare me to Larry David a lot because random shit will annoy me. My dad reminds me of, Larry David!

Give Sam Lachow some love and follow him on all his social outlets!

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Album Review – “Revenge” by XXXtentacion

Travis Scott, Lil Pump, Smokepurrp, Robb Banks, Ugly God. Among others, they are driving a new wave of hip-hop which is characterized by lo-fi bass with aggressive lyrics and vocals. One of the leading names in this sub-genre of lo-fi is rapper XXXTENTACION.

Hailing from Broward County, Florida, he shook the game with his hit single “Look at Me.” For that song, many tried to pigeonhole XXX into being nothing but a lo-fi bass artist. His new release, Revenge, demonstrates otherwise. Revenge features many tracks that were previously released through his SoundCloud, but are now compiled into a commercial release. Songs such as “King” and “Looking for a Star” show quite a contrast to the style we’ve come to expect. Yet, “YuNg BrAtZ” and “RIP Roach” still show that xxx isn’t afraid to go hard.

XXXTENTACION opens Revenge with “Look at Me”, which, to fans, is to be expected. It’s his leading single and works well as an attention-grabber, but also serves as a way to show contrast to the following tracks. The first of which, entitled “I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore,” immediately shows this opposing sound. It’s still lo-fi, but the autotune shows XXX’s softer side presented in the form of a hybrid garage-style produced 808’s & Heartbreak and cloud rap.

Continuing to throw the listener through hoops, “Looking for a Star” features a distinctly dark yet tropical back beat produced by none other than EDM megastar, Diplo. Auto-tuned as well, but not over the top and cheesy, his vocals fit well with the song and its Jamaican-ish vibes. 

Moving on, we continue with this leaned out, almost lethargic feeling with “Valentine.” XXX almost seems to be taking notes from early Travis Scott or Yung Lean as he channels his inner sadboy and questions whether or not to continue down his current path, or stop everything and become a better person. The answer presents itself quite clearly on “King,” which starts out very similar to the previous track, dark and airy. This, however, does not last. In almost a hat tip towards his punk rock and heavy metal roots, distorted guitars and thundering drums accompany his screams of “HEY! YOU!” coming seemingly out of nowhere and marks a change in tone for the rest of the album.

However, the next track “Slipknot” continues the running theme of XXX wanting to show his audience that he isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to rapping. Undoubtedly the most lyrical track on the album, it’s definitely his best attempt towards creating an old school hip-hop sound with piano runs and hooks similar to that of UGK and Outkast. XXX is out to prove that he can not only sing and scream, but also spit bars. It’s also the first track on the album to feature other artists, Kin$oul (who’s featured on the track) and Killstation (who sings the end hook).

Revenge returns to the sound of “Look at Me” with “YuNg BrAtZ,” and marks the return of the XXX we’ve come to know and love; Loud, aggressive, and ignorant toward the feelings of others to ultimately bring the album full circle. Not much can be said other than it’s definitely a crowd pleaser meant to whip the audience into a blood-thirsty frenzy.

The last track, “R.I.P Roach,” features fellow Members Only founder $ki Mask, The Slump God who more or less raps over the beat, as opposed to XXXTENTACION‘s hype shouts. Like “Look at Me” and the previous track, it carries XXX’s signature sound of distorted bass and screamed vocals. It also holds our objectively favorite line on the album with XXX essentially calling his haters “rice krispies.”

From top to bottom, Revenge proves that XXXTENTACION is not a one trick pony. As his first major commercial project, the album sets out to demonstrate his versatility and diversity. Only time will tell which direction he will continue, but as far as our opinion goes, we see X continuing his reign of bending genres, generating insane amounts of hype, and blowing out subwoofers worldwide.

SLUG Localized featuring: DJ SkratchMo, Show Me Island, and Rhyme Time

High energy, colorful decorations, and humor follow Rhyme Time wherever he goes. After knowing Rhyme Time personally, and witnessing performances dating back to 2013, I truly see him as a Salt Lake City hip-hop OG. With that said, he is also a very unusual rapper. He’s a middle-aged man with a large afro, extra pounds around the waist, and a most notable appreciation of the unorthodox. This is evident from his 80’s jumpsuit that he wears from time to time, his songs dedicated to a space penguin, and his everlasting love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

If you aren’t familiar with Rhyme Time, you may remember him from his previous moniker, “Atheist.” Which, if you know anything about Utah, is clearly a bold move. Before you judge his views on religion, I want it known that he has collaborated with fellow rapper, JamesTheMormon, so there is proof that he’s not exclusionary in his music, regardless of his difference in religious opinion. I attended this show to witness Rhyme Time’s latest music, but I enjoyed the two other acts, DJ SkratchMo and Show Me Island, as complementary acts.

Show Me Island is a groovy reggae/ska band with trumpets, drums, guitars, and a powerful female vocalist. I was pleasantly surprised by the funkiness of their sound, as I went into this show with no prior knowledge of their music. Watching them perform alongside Rhyme Time and his House of Lewis crew was a much appreciated 180 from the predictable and expected boombap beats and electronic synthesizers that dominate hip hop. They were an enjoyable band that I would listen to again, but my music tastes don’t align with adding them to my playlists. However, if you are really into ska, I would highly suggest checking them out!

DJ SkratchMo started the show with cutting and spinning records of various genres. In hindsight, I don’t remember any noteworthy jams making me excited for him to be on the decks, but he didn’t make me want to leave, so there’s that. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay as much attention to his time on stage, but I have seen him multiple times and his broad taste in music is extremely valuable for a DJ.

Overall, these SLUG Localized shows are excellent events for music discovery and provide a great way to network within the Salt Lake City music scene. I came for Rhyme Time, and was very happy with the additional performances, even if I wasn’t able to pay the most attention to them. I would highly recommend anyone over 21 to check these shows out for a good time, while still supporting your local music scene!

 

If you’d like to check out Show Me Island you can find them at: showmeisland.com
Both DJ SkratchMo & Rhyme TIme can be found at their collective’s website: http://www.thehouseoflewis.com/the-music/

Blackbear – digital druglord

Let me start by saying that I have never listened to Blackbear before his new album digital druglord released on April 21st. The only reason I even bothered downloading it while I was scrolling through my Spotify’s New Releases section was because I’ve seen him pop up on my Twitter feed a few times because one of our old hosts (shoutout the Based Captin) is pretty into him and retweets him every so often. I can usually trust my fellow Drip hosts tastes in music so I gave him a shot, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Before we dive into the actual tunes, I need to mention a few things. I love Blackbear’s aesthetic. I don’t usually like it when artists try to be different with their grammar, but the lack of capitalization and the replacing you with the Myspace style ‘u’ works for this. It makes it feel like there’s something missing, like he rushed through it, but his music is also frantic and desperate, so it fits. I’m also a big fan of artists that can tie everything together. One look at his album art and you know what you’re getting yourself into: drugs and sex. He knows who he is and he doesn’t try to hide it, in fact, he almost makes it beautiful. Plus, if you look at the middle pill bottle on the album art, you can see the Utah Healthcare logo, so shoutout Blackbear for representing the best school this side of the Mississippi.

This is an album about addiction and emotion. It’s a roller coaster ride where you experience his ups and downs. He goes from hating his girl and thinking she’s ungrateful to hating himself and believing she’s too good for him. He brags about the drugs he does, then croons about the dangers of his habits. I love that he’s not afraid to show his emotions, his fear, and his straight savagery. He is all over the place. One hook goes, “I would wish you the best, but you already had it,” while on another he sings, “I know you don’t wanna be that girl that’s f*****g what’s his face.” Blackbear also pulls in some key features. Juicy J’s predictable flow completes the song ‘juicy sweatsuits,’ and the songs with 24hrs and Stalking Gia are two of the best on the album. If you’re looking for an R&B style voice similar to Ty Dolla $ign or PARTYNEXTDOOR but with a better flow and darker and deeper content, Blackbear is your guy.

The production on this record also takes some interesting turns. The album begins with a mellow piano beat that quickly transitions to your classic bass and snare heavy hip hop beat on the second track. There are some songs with a more EDM focused beats and others tapping into Drake’s pop style. The majority of the beats are slow and mellow, as his delivery, perfect for cruisin’ in the car or vibing by yourself.

This is a good album, but it’s not without its’ negatives: namely its’ length. At barely 30 minutes long, I don’t really feel like it’s completed. My other major gripe is that at times it starts to sound like a dirtier version of some of The Chainsmokers anthems. Those things aside, it’s definitely worth a listen, especially if you’re trying to get in your feelings.

Blackbear will be in Salt Lake City on June 3rd at The Complex.

Joey Bada$$- ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$

On We got it from here… Thank you 4 your Service, Q-tip raps, “Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole/ The gatekeepers of flow”. The last three MC’s he mentions made sense to me: Kendrick being the greatest alive, Earl Sweatshirt is the best lyricist of the progressive movement in hip-hop (sorry Danny Brown and Vince Staples), and J. Cole went platinum without any features. Twice. I had listened to Joey Bada$$ a little bit before I’d heard that line and from what I’d seen, his name wasn’t worth mentioning in this list. At that point, A$AP Rocky had done a much better job of representing the beast coast and Brooklyn’s Own was only 21; I needed a larger sample size to put him on such a pedestal. On April 7th, I got what I asked for and then some.

ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is the album Joey Bada$$ needed to launch himself into the rap stratosphere. He’s given himself an identity with this project and personally, I think he has surpassed J. Cole as the penultimate voice in conscious rap. But before I get into that argument, I’ll quickly talk about the beat selection, production, and features: All fantastic. There isn’t a a song on here that I would scrap and I think each track shows a different side of Joey thanks to Kirk Knight and Statik Selektah, among the other producers on this project. As for features, Chronixx and Meechy Darko were amazing. While I think everyone on the project did an awesome job, those two were the only artists on the same level as Joey. Now that’s not to say no one went above and beyond Mr. Bada$$ because there was one artist who absolutely destroyed his feature. Like threw it in a body bag and dumped it in the Hudson. Of course I’m talking about Schoolboy Q on ROCKABYE BABY because that was some vintage, Oxymoron-style Q. The quality of this project was an absolute 10 out of 10 for me but there is one area that I think could use a little work: The substance.

I believe that this album is Joey’s good kid, m.A.A.d city or Born Sinner. For Kendrick and Cole, respectively, these projects cemented these artists as top tier spitters. They were able to communicate their observations of the world in a commercially and artistically successful way that people could relate to. They were bringing up real issues and were story-telling but they weren’t problem solving. As young MC’s, they weren’t going deeper just yet, giving us a look into why they deserved to be voices of a generation. We waited for 2014 Forest Hills Drive/4 Your Eyez Only and To Pimp a Butterfly/Untitled Unmastered to see how the newest, most prominent voices in hip-hop wanted to use their recently acquired fame. I think Joey did a better job than Cole in this first phase of rap stardom. He is starting to see the world as a 22 year old but can he start to lead his fans to the promised land, to a better AMERIKKKA? I don’t know but I’m damn excited to find out.

Score: 9.1

Smino- blkswn

I wanted to give you guys a comparison of Smino Brown to someone else, just to give you a sense of the type of artist he is, but I can’t come up with anyone. There is no one in music right now or that I can think of in the past that has been making the type of music Smino is making. The closest group I could come up with is Outkast but to say that Smino is another Andre clone would be doing him a massive disservice. This rapper/singer out of St. Louis seems to be taking the best parts of rap from across the country and combining them. He flows like he’s from Brooklyn, brings the jazz and soul from the south with his voice, uses the grand production and showmanship that has been coming out of Chicago, and he’s been liberated by West Coast rap, talking about what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. He’s so incredibly versatile on this tape but at the same time staying incredibly cohesive. For a debut album, blkswn is everything I could have wanted from Smino and then some.

That’s not to say that this album is perfect. I certainly have a few gripes here and there. The biggest issue for me right now is that there are a couple songs on blkswn that don’t have that same sort of easy-going way about them. The first one that stuck out to me was “Maraca”. He just doesn’t seem to settle into this track the way he does on the opener and even though there are other songs on the album where he flows a lot faster than on “Maraca”, something doesn’t seem quite right on this cut. I hear it a little bit on “Glass Flows” and “Edgar Allen Poe’d Up” where Smino seems like he’s either a little behind the beat or that he’s trying too hard. Those songs are all at the beginning of the album and as the track list plays, he seems to find his groove a little more, switching in and out of flows like it’s nothing. Personally, there are very few albums more than 15 songs long that I wouldn’t change at all. That seems to be my subjective threshold for LP length so this might just be me but I could do without two or three songs on this album.

With that criticism out of the way, I have to say that about 10 of the songs off this album have been on heavy rotation for me since the release. “Wild Irish Roses”, “Flea Flicka”, “Anita”, “blkswn”, “Long Run”, “Innamission”, “Ricky Millions”, and “Amphetamine” are all on my “favorite music right now” playlist. I also really like the song “B Role”, partly because it bangs and partly because it’s a risk for Smino. An artist as special as this guy could just run with his own sound but he is still trying to push boundaries and find new avenues to explore. I can’t help but respect that and I am excited to see where this rhyme smith will go in the future.

Migos- Culture

Right now, the Migos reminds me of last years Steph Curry. They can do no wrong. They’re just chucking up crazy bars and ridiculous ad-libs that are all swishing. There aren’t many times when an artist will rise to the top of a genre in a matter of months without any objections from their fellow musicians, but the Migos has done that and no one in hip-hop can deny it. And there’s a very distinct reason for that: They have blended new school mumble rap with southern trap-infused beats.

Unlike Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert, the faces of the mumble rap movement and two artists that the Migos have worked with in the past, the Migos put an emphasis on their lyrics. They make sure you aren’t missing out on their punchlines and they take pride in their craft as writers. While, they don’t veer too far from the traditional rap topics of clothes, ice, drugs, money, and girls, their punchlines are classic and that brand of southern vernacular gives them so many options to say what they want to say: “Young n***a poppin’ with a pocket full of cottage/Woah kemosabe, chopper aimin’ at your noggin/Had to cop the Audi, then the top I had to chop it/N***as pocket watchin’, so I gotta keep the rocket” (Migos. “T-Shirt.” Culture. CD. Atlantic. 2017).

At the same time, their beat selection is immaculate and I think the word Culture takes on two different meanings for the Migos: First, I think it’s obvious that they are saying they are the center of the hip-hop world and we’ve been hearing since the early 2000’s that hip-hop is the new rock and roll. They are actively shaping the most popular genre in America right now and that’s incredibly impressive when you think about the other moguls in the game at the moment: Drake, Kanye, Kendrick, and Rihanna are all arguably at the top of their games. This point leads me into the second meaning that I see in this title: The artists that I mentioned earlier have very distinct styles but the Migos pull from some of the hottest hip-hop influences and execute better than the originals. I realized this on the last track of the album, “Out Yo Way”. The hook has those atmospheric synths underneath with a nonchalant, sing-song chorus that reminds me of Drake. The difference is, I didn’t have to hear them whining about some girl that I will never actually know about. The same can be said about a lot of songs on the back half of this album: “Kelly Price” has that signature Travis Scott production, “All Ass” sounds like a Rae Sremmurd song but I can understand the lyrics, and “Brown Paper Bag” could easily be a Future track. Then songs like “T-Shirt”, “Bad and Boujee”, and “Slippery” are obviously original and their most popular tracks so far. The Migos are flexing on rappers right now. They seem to have a complete hold on the game and I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.

Score: 7.7/10