Review: Masai – Almost Home

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While listening to the 15 tracks that make up Almost Home you are getting to know the artist behind the music as if he’s there sitting next to you on a park bench, casually bearing his soul to you, while also making you laugh and carefully listening to what you have to say. That’s Masai, as I’ve come to know him.

For some unfortunate reason, such a personable artist-and-listener interaction and consequential intimate relationship feels rare in today’s music scene, in both local and international examples. In this particular release, emcee and writer Masai created an album that in theory, is all about him, his life and his experiences, and in its outcome, it is actually not only about him, his life and his experiences. He takes small details and turns the focus on the larger picture, all with the collaborative help of over a dozen reinforcements.

Almost Home joins releases Almost Gone (2007) and Almost Back (2010), bringing Masai’s trilogy of solo albums full-circle. The release date of Almost Home, today, February 13, 2013, marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of his mother and serves as a tribute to her life. The album overcomes hardships and grief, displaying strength, honesty, perspective, growth and depth, which are core themes of hip-hop and life, in and of itself.

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KC’s Music Monday: Masai

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Masai, local to the 518 and member of super-group Against The Grain, is releasing the final installment in his trilogy of solo albums, right in time for tax season. We’ve still got another month of listening to Turbotax ads on Pandora until the album drops but I figured I’d let you preview what I’ve been listening to now.

“Almost Home” is a 15-track high calibre line-up featuring collaborations with a generous handful of other talented area rappers, producers and musicians including MIRK, JB!! aka Dirty Moses, Sev Statik, Knowle’ge, KassCrook and also members of his own collective, Against The Grain.

In advance of the February 13 release, Masai has made two tracks available for streaming.

“Circles” is a clear favorite of mine (of what I’ve heard so far, that is.) The track features Mike Arson and the two go back and forth about the competitive nature between rappers, of commercial and underground influencers alike, conceptually running verbal circles around it all. The motif of circles is prevalent throughout the song and the chorus has been doing laps in my head since I heard it.

Side note: I nominate this song to be included in a chapter I read in a hip hop book yesterday, which compiled a list of the top mentions of “sweaters” in contemporary rap music. Pretty random and interesting list which included lyrics from Biggie, Kanye West and Pusha T. Listen for it.

The second track is “February Pimpin’ (Tax Money)” and features JB!! aka Dirty Moses, with PJ Katz of Pig Food Records on the production duties. This track will get stuck in your head if you welcome it. Not only do I love the satire but the song itself is done well on all counts. I seriously hope there’s a music video in the works because that’d be fun as hell to witness. From the artists directly, “The song satirically takes a look at how materialism and consumerism, combined with poor decision making, can influence urban workers who foolishly spend their income tax returns.”

If you like what you hear, make the album yours!

Review: Kite Person’s “Tonight We Run”

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It’s a good week for Kite Person. Today marks the dropping of his debut EP on Sub-Bombin Records and this Thursday, Kite Person will be performing for free alongside Elsphinx, The Black Ships, Party Horn, Rally and DJ Mercy at the Fuze Box. Don’t you just love when things happen in a nice, chronological order?

Tonight We Run is a collaboration between local musicians and producers Kite Person and Rawhead, both of whom call home to the Sub-Bombin roster. These two working together makes perfect sense with a very complimentary combination of distinctive vocal stylings over ambient electronica beats. Their first time working together was supposed to be a one-off single that ended up leading to a full seven-track EP. You know, lock two creative souls in the studio and see what happens. I’m not mad about it.

At first listen, I was a bit surprised. Sub-Bombin has consistently featured a lean towards quality hip hop and downtempo instrumentals and this release just goes to show taste-making is just as adaptive and open-minded an art as anything else. (In fact, I believe I said something along the lines of, “why didn’t anyone tell me this was gonna be kinda weird-in-the-good-way?”) Regardless, it fits in its own place.

Kite Person features subtle tastes reminiscent of Phantogram, Of Montreal and maybe even Ariel Pink, while also appealing to those who gravitate towards experimental electronic production. Kite Person could easily perform both on bills comprised of indie bands or of forward-thinking DJs or perhaps be the linking thread between the two genres. It’s upbeat, easy-listening that doesn’t lose its voice or point of view in its experimentation.

The lyrics and vocals alike are both a bit whimsical in nature that helps inspire an element of visual storytelling that would translate quite well to a movie soundtrack or what have you.

You can preview the song “Know Yr Rites,” courtesy of Sub-Bombin and download a digital copy over at the label’s store. Listen and get excited for Thursday.

KAB picks: “Know Yr Rites,” “Hipster Fatigue,” “Squadron Dogs”

Bacon Festival to be held September 2nd in Hudson

Bacon. Festival. Put together, those two words are enough to put bacon fanatics into some kind of weird bacon-fueled frenzy I’ll never fully understand.

I’m by no means a hater – I’ll indulge in a practical serving at brunch occasionally – but I can’t help but question cultural motives of people who freak out about bacon, similar to this Death & Taxes article titled, “No one is actually obsessed with bacon.”

Regardless, bacon holds its rightful place high on the list of staple breakfast foods (and anytime, really) and upstate NY has deemed it worthy of its own festival. And it’s happening in Hudson, one of the quaintest towns in our area and always worth the drive.

This year’s festival, (whose press contact dubbed himself as the ‘token vegetarian’), is being held on September 2nd and tickets are available online here. Additionally, $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to the local food bank in hopes to raise awareness and help fund solving local hunger issues. Tickets are also very reasonably priced, and are currently only $8 in advance.

A festival wouldn’t be complete without music, and the Bacon Festival will feature local acts Rambin Jug Stompers, Red Haired Strangers, Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, the Lucky Jukebox Brigade, Eastbound Jesus and (of course) Unexplained Bacon.

As you can assume, the festival will feature vending of dishes, products and crafts, all themed around or featuring bacon.

You can find more information about the fest here.

Pro tip: Head over to their Facebook page for information on how to win 2 tickets tonight at the Empire State Food Festival taking place tonight in the Plaza.