The first time I heard “Blood In The Cut” was at a festival last summer. K Flay ended her set with a brand new song-a bold move for any live show. It was completely different than anything else she played that day, leaning much more toward the rock end of the spectrum, but somehow it fit.
Ever since hearing that song I’ve been waiting on the edge of my seat for this new album to show up. It was preceded by another single, “Black Wave,” which only raised the level of excitement in my mind. Every Where Is Some Where feels like the music finally catching up to what she’s been trying to do since she was mixing it up on her own when I saw her open for Passion Pit in 2010.
It’s interesting to hear trap beats mix with driving guitars, synths and drums that would feel perfectly at home on a Nine Inch Nails record. The sound brings an added level of depth to the desperation that permeates the album. Much of it is spent searching for something to fill the void of a lost love.
On “Champagne” she sings “I feel it, I want it, I need it, I love it, I’m looking for something to make me feel nothing.” Sometimes numb is all you can feel because it’s better than dealing with the hurt and anger inside-it’s not healthy, but we all do it. The fast-paced delivery of the lyrics on this track are a manic expression of all those feelings trapped in our heads.
The album gets more upbeat in short intervals, with songs like “The President Has A Sex Tape” (timely) and the ode to familial love “Mean It.” These little bursts of distraction from the demons in your head are what propel you toward recovery. In this context, they move the album from being a little too one-note.
Every Where Is Some Where is easily one of the best things I’ve heard this year. You can listen to it on Spotify or Apple Music, but you’re best bet is to just buy it here.
I don’t think I need to say too much about Styles P. The Lox, Ruff Ryders, D-Block Records, now he’ got a collaboration coming out with Talib Kweli and is currently opening on the Sevens Tour, where I caught him last night. Over 20 years into his career he still brings the energy to his live show. He even got off the stage and did a mini-set in the middle of the crowd. (Check out a short clip of that here)
Talib Kweli is, without question, one of hip hop’s greatest ambassadors. His music has a message of social justice and peace, he’s constantly collaborating with up and coming talent, and he has the talent of the best MC’s minus the arrogance. His shows are always a good time because they’re less about him and more about the love of music.
Last night at Metro in Chicago he played his now famous version of Eleanor Rigby and talked up the greatness of Paul McCartney, paid homage to Sean Price and J Dilla, brought out GLC to do “Drive Slow” and Niko Is for a couple songs, and talked about his good friend Kanye. This last bit was my favorite moment of the show.
Always one to speak his mind, Kweli said that he loves Kanye. Kanye’s given him a lot in his career with producing and features, so Kanye helped him provide for his family. But, Kweli said, when you stand next to Donald Trump, something’s wrong. He said the same of Steve Harvey before making a plea for unity and calling on the audience to do everything they can to stop the racist regime from ending our democracy.
With the help of DJ Spintelect, we traveled through the history that Talib Kweli has helped create. From Black Star to his more recent collaborations, including some of the latest Javotti signees K’Valentine and Space Invadaz. He sent some love to Bob Marley and the reggae pioneers that inspired the beginnings of hip hop. If you’ve been to a Kweli show, you know that there aren’t a lot of songs played all the way through to completion. It’s more about the feeling, so it bounces around as a medley of songs that all come together to tell his story.
Chicago has enjoyed a decade of music coming from the inner-city kids that grew up surrounded by violence and discrimination. Some have approached it with cynicism, while others have tried to add some light where there’s already too much darkness. K’Valentine falls in with the latter, spinning a positive vibe and “we can do it” attitude in her lyrics.
Thankfully, K’Valentine doesn’t use as much of the drill production that plagues so much of Chicago’s rap scene. It pops up here and there, but it’s used wisely. Instead of coming off like every other local rapper, she shoots for fresh sounds that draw you in rather than blending in with everything else.
Signed to Javotti a few years ago, Here For A Reason is K’Valentine’s first full-length LP after a series of mix tapes. She does her best to make her reasons clear, and after just a couple tracks I think you’ll see how she’s earned her spot on such an impressive roster.
K is trying to become the latest female to gain notoriety out of Chicago, with Tink and Noname being a couple of the more famous to achieve some fame. I’d put her skills above theirs, and the potential for greatness is certainly there. She has a great ear for melody and a flow dripping with confidence and knowledge of craft.
The track that really made itself stand above the others is “Atlanta.” It’s only negative is the intor featuring a voicemail returning a missed call. It’s a bit muffled and doesn’t add anything to the feeling of the song, which is one of deep love and yearning. She plays with tempo and bounces between rapping and singing, performing both solidly with ease.
Here For A Reason is a great introduction to a rising talent. If you’re a fan of rap and hip-hop, you’ll want to get on the K’Valentine bandwagon before she blows up. Talib Kweli has her opening his current run of shows, which stops in Chicago on Thursday February 2 at Metro.
The album is currently without release date, but should be out relatively soon.
I was already sold by the headline: Talib Kweli protege K’Valentine…Say no more-I’m in. The Chicago native has been working on Kweli’s label Javotti for a couple years now, and she’s about to drop her debut full-length Here For A Reason in March. Before that she’s on tour with Kweli and Styles P, hitting Metro on February 2nd.
K’Valentine released her first project six years ago, and spent the time since honing her craft as an MC. In 2014 she put out the well-received mixtape Million Dollar Baby and followed that with appearances on Javotti tapes that also featured Big K.R.I.T. and Curren$y. Check out her latest single below.
All the best songs come from real life. Fun, sugary pop songs are great to dance to and drive around blaring to annoy old people, but music that you truly connect to has to come from a place to which you can relate. That’s why so many of The Beatles songs still hold up-universal themes with which people find connections (“Octopus’s Garden” not withstanding).
Des Moines rapper MaZoo lays it all out there for us on “Earth,” her latest single. She doesn’t sugarcoat her past or try to paint a favorable picture of herself-she’s just honest. Whether you like it or not doesn’t seem to be of much concern to her. The point in all this is that everyone has problems-whether they are physical, emotional, existential-that we need to deal with every day.
In this time of hatred and bigotry around the country, I can’t think of a better way to start the healing than for everyone to say “Hey, I’m a little messed up and you are too, but that’s ok. Let’s figure this out together.”
Chicago’s own Jeremih hit the main stage yesterday to play some tracks off his latest record Late Nights. He got the crowd jumpin’ with some “old shit” and then brought out Chance The Rapper to the delight of all.