To hate or to congratulate, that is the question, I guess—but whatever your take, Blue Scholars' OOF! EP is killing it on the iTunes charts and in real life. Good luck getting your hands on one of the 808 physical copies made, but hit Caffe Vita if you're feeling lucky, punk. To me, OOF! is the most comfortable and loose I've ever heard either Geo or Sabzi, brimming with personality and warmth.
Their comrade RA Scion has a new project cooking right now with always-on-grizzly local producer MTK (you hear "Bang Bang," the Havoc and Lloyd Banks cut he just did?), together known as Victor Shade. Who? "Victor Shade is to the Vision (the android Avenger, to all my non–Marvel Comics geeks) what Peter Parker is to Spider-Man," RA explains. "My wife's brother, a dedicated hiphop and comic enthusiast, attributed to various friends and family a superhero identity; mine was the Vision. Never really put much thought into it until his passing, and what I discovered later really affected me—this album, like much of [Common Market's] Tobacco Road, is inspired by him."
While most listeners are used to RA Scion rapping over Sabzi's instrumentals, RA tells me, "(MTK and) I have talked about working together for years—he's a talented beat maker, and I love his style. His Slavic work ethic is like the icing on the Cupcake Royale." Chuuch. Speaking of, those spiritual and personal themes RA is well known for in his previous work are also quite present in the Shade. RA explains: "The inherent duality in the comic world parallels that of the spiritual world, whereby the superhero represents the infallible manifestation and the alter ego is beautifully human. The effort to reconcile two vastly different identities... this is the underlying theme of the project, and of course it has real-life applications." But you, and I, want to know—what does it sound like? Here's your chance: Victor Shade are rocking the High Dive on Friday, September 4, with Grynch, Born Anchors, and the Redwood Plan for Ear Candy's birthday bash ('sup, Travis!).
Kublakai sent me his new EP, Lights for the Dark Nights, all produced by his boy Slouch. Yes, another free local rap EP—a format I quite like. I realize a lot of y'all started buying CDs when Drag-On had a career and that those $18 rap albums tended toward extended, 70-minute bowel movements, but I personally love the brevity and cohesiveness of the EP, as it really encourages a fine-tuned suite of music. Plus, who wants to hear most rappers for that long anyway? That said, Lights is easily Koob's best work, best songs, best flow, period—even if he said that I would "shit all over it" on the blackout braggadocio of "Insanity Reigns" (I guess I'll know I made it when I can make a whole mixtape of local rap songs that name-check me). There's just as much musical growth documented here as there is personal growth, by turns meditative, rowdy, and emo-as-fuck, but always dead honest in a way that most awkward-with-self full-disclosure rappers can't manage. So go to www.kublakai.com and get it.