Frank Ocean’s debut album, Channel Orange, releases in a few short weeks. It’s been making the media rounds the past week, and has returned three incredibly important things: 1) It’s the best album of 2012 (review here), 2) Ocean used pronouns like “him” instead of “her”...
After two years of recording, mixing and mastering, Elite’s debut album, Awaken, dropped yesterday. I attended Elite’s release party last night at the Karmaloop TV offices, and he ran through some of his favorite tracks. There’s some outstanding music on Awaken, with contributions and features from J. Cole and Voli. For the most part, this body of work, from conception to mixing and mastering, was done completely by Elite. It’s rare for an artist to even have the technical know-how to do that. Congrats to Elite, and download Awaken below!
This is a freshly released track off of Elite’s upcoming mixtape, Awaken. This song is pretty short and straight to the point, but Elite flows over the beat perfectly. Look out for Awaken, which drops on 11/11/11.
BB friend Elite’s first single off his upcoming mixtape, Awaken, has finally arrived. If you don’t know who Elite is, you should get familiar. He did a lot of work with Ruff Ryders back in the day, and has produced J. Cole’s “Who Dat” and “Return of Simba.” Really feeling Elite’s flow and Voli’s production on this one. Awaken drops 11/11/11.
About a month ago, myself, Stefan, and BB friend Nick Brown headed over to the Bowery Poetry Club to see Voli and Elite perform live. This was one of the first times Voli and Elite have performed, and the first time they’ve headlined a show together. The venue was small, and so was the crowd. For everyone who took the time out to catch these two amazing up-and-coming artists, it was like a private concert. I’ve been saying for almost a year now that Voli is the most mature and advanced hip-hop artist coming up right now. Considering that he’s only got one mixtape sampler out and a handful of singles, his work is leaps and bounds ahead of rappers with the similar sized discographies. This was only this third live performance ever, and the quality of it definitely paralleled his recorded work. His manager Vic did a fine job DJing the entire show, and even sprinkled in vocal effects to match his recorded music. Voli performed with terrific energy, and his imposing size carried over to a heavy stage presence. Eye-contact with the crowd and superb intensity made for a lively set.
Elite has a smaller discography (as a rapper) than Voli, so he performed cuts off his upcoming mixtape. Elite’s flow and smooth delivery have always impressed me. He performed with a little less bravado than Voli, but it was his first live performance (to my knowledge). Once Elite gets into his zone onstage, he’s a true force. Once again, good eye-contact made for a great set, but his ability to navigate from more emotional songs to some real heaters took the night to another level.
Check out some footage of Voli x Elite performing:
After the show, Voli and Elite chopped it up with us. We questioned them on the their rap family, made up of Voli, Elite, J. Cole and Omen. They also discussed learning from J. Cole’s industry experiences/hardships, Cole’s “Return of Simba” record (which Elite co-produced), and their own projects. Watch the interview below:
Be sure to check out Elite’s website to download his music, and follow him on Twitter. Click here to download all of Voli’s work, and visit his Twitter page. Voli will have a new mixtape dropping sooner than you think, and Elite will be releasing Awaken, a project that he’s been working on for two years now, on 11/11/11.
Special thanks to Vic, Voli and Elite. Also thanks to Nick Brown from Syracuse University/Prime Wizard Productions for all the great shots and editing. But A HUGE thank you to my little brother Adam, who edited 95% of the videos and visuals.
They’ll be doing a show together at the Bowery Poetry Club, on Bowery near NYU. $10 Cover, more info here. I’ll definitely be rolling through to check out these two Dreamvillains. I keep on missing Voli’s sets because of bad luck and timing, so I gotta get to this one. Each is prepping new mixtapes, which I’m really looking forward to. Check out Voli’s site and Elite’s site for their music and info.
And we’re back for another week of Justin and Stefan’s Sampling Sessions. This week we have a new track produced by J. Cole and Elite, and a Styles P classic produced by Swizz Beatz.
Our first track today is J. Cole’s recently leaked “Return of Simba.” J. Cole leaked it last week as another warmup single for his now finished, but still mysterious debut album. Cole completely blacked out on the beat (“When it come from the heart don’t it feel mo’ iller”)—a beat that has so many complex layers to it.
Elite co-produced the instrumental, and I asked him what songs were sampled for it. He told me that there were about four samples in all. Given all the different instruments and different vocal samples used, this is no surprise. Both Elite and Cole are extremely talented producers, and each did an excellent job at piecing together so many samples to form a smooth, hard-hitting beat. Elite’s sample was Heaven and Earth’s “Let Me Back In,” which serves as the melody to “Return Of Simba.” Listen for the sample at 1:35, where Heaven and Earth’s “la-laa-la-la-la-la-la-laa,” as well as the woodwinds are used. But going back to “Return of Simba,” what Elite did so brilliantly was taking that “la-laa-la-la-la-la-la-laa” and actually flipping it to sound like that crawling woodwind at certain points in the beat (1:26-1:30 in “Return of Simba” for example).
Elite couldn’t tell me what samples Cole used on the beat, but many thanks to him for dropping this sample knowledge on me.
Our second song is the certified weed smokers anthem from back in 2002, “Good Times (I Get High)” by Styles P. Not only was this popular amongst weed-heads, but this was one of the most played songs in 2002, reaching #22 on the Billboard Top 100.
At this time the Ruff Ryders movement was in full effect, with Swizz Beatz leading it with his insane productions. Unlike the current day generic beats Swizzy’s been regurgitating, “Good Times” samples a 1977 soul record by Freda Payne, which is ironically named “I Get High (On Your Memory).” The majority of the sampling from the intro, bridge, and chorus is taken from 0:42-1:05.
Young Simba has grown up. Absolutely crazy track. Cole spits his heart out on this. God damn he needs to drop this album… like NOW! Enough with these singles “for the fans,” although new J. Cole is never a reason to complain.
Here’s the latest track from Elite. We all know him as a top-shelf producer (he worked with J. Cole on “Who Dat” and “See World,” two of my favorite Cole tracks), but he’s got bars too. The drums on this really pop, and the blaring horns are pretty epic. “Sing My Song” is actually the second track off of his upcoming solo MC project. Check out the video below for the first track, “Judas.”