atypical beast agency

May 26, 2016 3:36 pm

No rapper has had to work as hard to prove his claim to the “Best Rapper Alive” title than Lil Wayne in 2006. Plenty still disagree with whether or not he ever was. His opposition has always been quite loud. For quite some time, he’s been a longstanding figure of derision for conservative leaning Facebook level memers.

Gauging his, or anyone’s, exact spot on the rap pecking order is tedious. There’s no denying his prolific output, or the impact he had on changing outdated perceptions in the music world as a whole. At the very least, he needs credit for that. Also, who would ever want a title like “Best Rapper Alive?” It’s got such a glaring nostalgia/ghost bias stipulation in it. And considering how wide Hip-Hop has expanded in sound and style, this type of ranking feels a little antiquated at this point. None of what I just said matters. Fans will always be arguing about it and rappers will always be deeming themselves the rightful heir to this throne.

And 10 years ago, Lil Wayne confidently staked his claim to it on the paradigm shifting mixtape, Dedication 2. It was a bold claim at the time. That “Best Rapper Alive” sash was usually meant to be around the waist of a New York rapper. Sure, there’d always be a few west coast exceptions, but never a dirty South guy. Even though the South was way past the era of merely having something to say, they still weren’t being taken seriously as actual rappers, no matter how many albums they were selling. By 2006, it lead to some next-level bitterness from the old guard.

New York Rapper bias was strong in the press, too. Before every indie rock-rooted blog treading water for relevance hired 3 black writers to review all the rap content and nothing more, XXL and The Source were the top influencers in the genre. There’s a reason why Chris Rock was able to go into such detail about a watch Twista had on in one of The Source’s issues. Each issue meant something. And during the rise of Wayne’s dominance, what was XXL’s verdict on Southern rap, you ask? It sucked.

*Sidenote: it’s a damn shame both magazines have such a terrible online database for all their old articles.  I know they gave Wayne’s Tha Block Is Hot a Medium, then re-rated it an XL once he got good. There’s just no proof of it anywhere online. And for The Source, it’s kinda reckless for them not to have a better database from a journalistic integrity standpoint, considering their mudslinging past with rappers and how connection-based a lot of their reviews became. Nothing but a 404 page pops up when you try going to their 5/5 mic INSTANT CLASSIC review of Lil Kim’s “The Naked Truth.” Fun stuff, right?*

This is what was up against him and other up-and-coming Southern rappers at the time like Clipse, T.I. and Young Jeezy. To New York rap fiends, none of them were seen as lyrical threats able to compete against guys like Cam’Ron, Jadakiss, Lloyd Banks, Fabolous, or Joe Budden (he’s technically from New Jersey, but still). Each of them were on a different DJ’s mixtape every month rapping over someone else’s beat while trying to outshine the original, or releasing a diss track to keep to a C-level feud going (this one’s a twofer).

Each of the other Southern rappers adeptly infiltrated this world, but Wayne did it better. He was the best equipped to play this odd game of punchline one-upmanship, and was unafraid to go straight at a few of the major east coast figureheads. He obliterated Jay-Z’s “The Game Iz Mine (he’d do this again on Drought 3 with “Dough Is What I Got) and even gave some life to a Biggie sampling beat from that super exploitive Duets album. Then he wound up making a straight-up hit of his own with “Cannon.”

The cherry on top of the Dedication 2 sundae is how unnecessary all of it was for him. He had no other reason to start releasing classic mixtapes other than ego. 50 Cent needed 50 Cent Is The Future to get signed. Papoose would not have become the 1.5 Million Dollar Man without them. And even though they already had a deal, Clipse resorted to releasing We Got It 4 Cheap because the crackers weren’t playing fair (Jive). It was unprecedented for someone in Wayne’s position to suddenly jump into this scene. He already had two of his albums go platinum, and due to a myriad of departures from Cash Money Records, he was also his label’s number one guy. He just wanted to make a statement. It wound up changing the whole game.

Rappers were never supposed to make money from the actual mixtape, but after Dedication 2 actually cracked the Billboard charts, that’s when artists started to see the potential in mixtapes as a true commodity to their career. Without this mixtape, Chance The Rapper doesn’t get a major ad campaign from Apple for Coloring Book.

All of this makes Wayne’s climb to the top so compelling. He forced his way into a conversation that was never meant for him to get a word in, then changed it completely. By toeing the line between not settling for regional tokenism and remaining loyal to his roots, he accomplished what someone like T.I. came up short with.

While T.I. also released a classic of his own in 2006 with King, he kept that claim to royalty strictly within the confines of whatever people consider to be the South. Wayne, on the other hand, never said he was the king of the South. That crown never seemed to be of interest to him. When you’re the “Best Rapper Alive,” that’s all encompassing. Gerrymandering be damned. He still kept his hometown pride. I mean, the city New Orleans has to be mentioned at least 1,000 times throughout this Dedication 2. And the vitriol he felt towards President Bush’s shit job of handling Hurricane Katrina lead to one of his greatest songs ever.

Wayne’s nationalism never wavered while assimilating to, then subsequently taking over the landscape of rap. And that’s crucial, because having a strong tie to one’s hometown has, and always will be, insanely important in rap. Except if you’re from New York. Nobody gives a shit if you’re from New York anymore.

Of the three most relevant rappers out right now, Kendrick and Drake owe a great deal of their identity to their hometown. Drake has basically turned into Toronto’s tour guide as well as the unofficial mascot for each sports team. Nicki Minaj, however, is a Queens native and that’s maybe the 95th thing people think of when discussing her.

As long as there is music to have an opinion on, people will argue about who the “Best Rapper Alive” is. Whether you say Wayne was or was not at some point is something I’ll literally never care about. His impact has already been made whether you like it or not.

Because when you do eventually have the “Best Rapper Alive” argument, there’s no shot that a New York rapper’s gonna be mentioned. That may seem inconsequential after years of this being the case, but when considering how highly perpetuated the allure of a New York rapper was just 10 years ago, it’s truly amazing to see how the mighty have fallen. Lil Wayne played the most crucial role in this dismantling by taking a New York rap staple, the mixtape, and blowing it up.

May 20, 2016 10:54 am

Hailing from Czech Republic, and residing in the electronic dance music hub of Berlin, Fiordmoss produces a haunting strain of electro-pop that culls from folklore, installation art, horror-genre, and avant-garde classical music. It’s the music of nightmares, cold to the bone, veiled in mystery. Each song is a fluid, non-linear progression that pairs Petra Hermanova’s breathy vocal delivery with a patchwork of fidgety sampled beats, synthesizers, and acoustic instruments. Their music draws similarity to other genre-bending traditions rooted in Europe, namely post-rock and post-dubstep, while drawing an easy comparison to Björk.

Fiordmoss is a trans-European collective of drifters bound for unfettered artistic expression. Petra Hermanová and Roman Přikryl were flatmates in Czech Republic when their apartment was engulfed in flames, claiming their musical instruments. Soon after they began recording music, releasing their first EP, Gleise, in 2010. Following a short stint in Madrid, Fiordmoss was joined by Jan Boroš and released their second EP, Ink Bitten, in 2012.  Further sound exploration followed after the band relocated to Berlin in pursuit of dancier grooves with the aid of drummer and electronic producer Jon-Eirik Boska.  Their latest tune “Madstone“, released this past February, recalls an American folklore of a medicinal substance used to draw rabies from victims that have suffered grievous animal bites. The tune will appear on their forthcoming debut full-length album titled Berlin. Fiordmoss are in the midst of a European tour–hopefully a stateside visit will follow.

November 12, 2015 8:00 am

As if I Ever Could Keep a Promise –Mothers 

Mothers is a band from Athens, Georgia, and they hold a very unique sound. Their surf-rock vibe is mirrored by a high pitched yet powerful vocalist. Kristine Leschper has a way of swaying her vocals that reminds me of the front lady of Lightening DustAmber Webber. I find it hard to discover female vocalists who can command a room in the same way I imagine Mothers does live, and she plays killer guitar too!!

The lyrics are so deep and personal that you feel almost every feeling she is describing in such an honest way. This is the type of band you put on after a brutal break up or any other genuine heart ache. But you shouldn’t think that is the only aspect of their music that is important.  They surprise you in their song ‘There is no Crying in Baseball’ with some chant like singing and you might think she is actually scolding you!

The Beasts appreciate their unique blend of genres and their honest sound. We hope you’ll take a listen to their commanding tunes.  Check out their live session at Audio Tree Live!

November 2, 2015 12:02 am

It was a drizzly, damp evening. The Boot & Saddle is a cosey South Philly music venue that bring in a wide range of indie upstarts befitting its intimate setting. Carroll is a Minneapolis four-piece that creates gentle, lush sound collages tinged with swirls of mild psychedelia. The quaint stage a perfect platform to usher in their debut self-titled album and kick off a brief tour of the East Coast.

keys1Carroll are a young band and you can tell. They haven’t gotten all of the nerves out yet, there are some hesitancies, nervous fidgeting, minor nuances in their stage presence. To be fair, I’ve always found the smaller crowds make it tougher to get into your groove. Large crowds are so all-encompassing- insignificant little ants. Smaller audiences are a nerve-racker, brings you back to classroom stage-freight. There’s nothing covering up even the most trivial imperfection, missed note, belting out a line in the wrong key. None of this mattered though, Carrol’s sound mirage was spectacular.

Colorful interlocking guitars. Vibrant vocal harmonies. Swift, punchy drums that gave the music an energetic punch. Waves of deep, robust bass- filling out the hazey soundscape. They played through the highlights from their new album no particular order, and also threw in a few bonus concoctions. All in all a solid set. Each song had a new and unexpected transition, rewarding avid listeners with a fresh dynamic.

This promising new band is traveling across the country to rile up hype for an album they’d put countless hours into, and that passion and genuine love to entertain spews out.  Definitely catch them if they come through your city.

I got a chance to ask Carroll’s bassist, Charles McClung, a few questions prior to their show, discuss the origin of the name “Carroll”, transplanting from the outskirts of Minneapolis to Philly, and the nervous energy associated with a new album. Here’s what he had to say:

So we know the name Carroll is derived from the Iconic Minneapolis hot spot, what brought you to name your band after that?

We named the band after the avenue in St. Paul where Brian and Charlie started the band. In our own way, we made it a hot spot, although I doubt anyone else would consider it such.

I looked up name “Carroll” online, it’s a surname, Irish in origin, meaning “manly” or “champion”…so you guys believe you’re “manly champions”?!  

We would be very hesitant to call ourselves manly champions.

You guys are picking steam in Minneapolis and you’re summoned to record an album out here in Philly. What was that like?  

It’s funny you use the word “summoned”! We definitely learned a thing or two about the art of summoning from that experience; namely, summoning the psychedelic vibes from within!

How does that compare to the Northern Wilderness?

On a more serious note, it was definitely a rad experience to leave the Twin Cities to record in a totally different creative environment out here in Philadelphia. Some of us liked it enough to move out here, actually. Both cities are special places.

Recording tracks in a studio environment versus recording demos out in the woods are very different experiences. I think we have an affinity for both domains, though. Disparate inspirations come into play.

Apparently you guys recorded the album in 18 days–did you guys actually get to check out the city?  Or were you locked up in the studio the entire time?

You can fit a lot into 18 days, as it turns out! We were able to finish tracking and get a feel for the city as a whole during that recording session. Some days were more stressful than others, both in and out of the studio. From Max taking his sweet time dialing in guitar tones to Charles getting lost in South Philadelphia looking at murals… it was a fun time.

Are you looking forward to returning to Philly and playing the Boot & Saddle?  Philly’s a pretty fun crowd, right?!?

Yeah, Philadelphians are a hoot. We actually just peeped Here We Go Magic at Boot & Saddle earlier this week, and we’re excited to get back in there!

How was it working with Jon Low (who’s produced Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, The National, and many more) you must have been absolutely floored.

Jon Low is a wizard. But he’s not the only one. See for evidence.

Releasing a record is a major milestone for any up-and-coming band. Are you more anxious or excited about rolling out your self-titled second record? It sounds amazing by the way- as if my opinion counted for anything.

Thank you so much! Your opinion totally counts, don’t sell yourself short! Although we are generally an anxious bunch, I think that it would be the wrong adjective to describe our view on our record. We’re proud of it and happy that it’s out in the world now.

October 18, 2015 6:51 pm

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 12.44.12 PM

Alexa Chung’s new app Villoid gives us the best of Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and online shopping all in one. Whether you love to hate her or hate to love her, Miss Chung’s new app delivers us an online store unlike any other.

User’s can follow their favorite brands (Burberry, ACNE, ASOS, Chloe), and others much like Instagram. You can then post images of clothes, products or looks (think of the Tumblr reblog) to “style boards.” Here, you can brainstorm different ideas, get inspired and build up your personal profile. Conveniently enough, the app lets you buy the clothes directly in a hassle-free “buy” feature.

“It” girl Alexa Chung is clearly progressing into the world of business and e-commerce after the release of her book in 2013. She recently signed off on Instagram as “Alexa Zuckerburg-Chung” and we can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us!

Written by Alessandra Licul 

Jetlagged With Milosh
October 6, 2015 1:31 am

Milosh is an elegant marriage between original electronic music and an intense personal experience. I am very familiar with making music with your significant other and both the joys and hardships that can come of it. I appreciate the fact that this artist was able to contain and create such a personal experience and add their everyday life to recording. This was present especially in their song “Do you want what I need” where in the band biography on facebook he stated he mic’d himself  “drumming on my wife’s tummy, brushing her skin; edit, cut up and reversed her laughs as we joked over the pure hilarity of it all.”

Often times I cannot relate to electronic music, but then you listen to the sheer personality of the track, and that mentality dwindles quickly. There’s a hint of Animal Collective‘s creativity and obscure recording techniques present.  Just as Avey Tare and his wife used to work together, Jet Lag seems like a long lost psychedelic brother of Avey Tare’s album with Kria Brekkan Pullhair Rubeye but in reverse.

It is very apparent that this artist feels every aspect of the music he is playing and it has been noticed by others as stated by Helene Achanzar in an interview with Rhye that Milosh is a conductor of sorts in his live element.  He is also well known for his band Rhye, who are undeniably emotional as well as felt in the video for their song called “The Fall.”  Every song he puts out cries loving tears and is very thoughtful and diverse. Not a single song sounds like another, which is rare for many bands these days.  Do not get me started on his amazing voice; it is extremely distinctive and surprisingly, he is able to hit notes that would make Mariah herself blink.

In The Ambient Abyss With Mariage Blanc
September 27, 2015 11:39 pm

The first day of fall was the perfect day to put the album No Autobiography by Mariage Blanc on repeat.  The band, from Pittsburgh, P.A. (who is now split between Pennsylvania and Sacramento, California) is the perfect soundtrack for a long drive on a slow Sunday afternoon.

While listening to their song “Silent Nations” I can feel the melancholy overtones pulling me into an abyss of sadness.  The vocals have the similarity of singer-song writer Elliott Smith’s paper thin vocals and guitar picking, with a little more calm in the deliverance reminiscent of Indie pop band Silversun pickups vocal style.


It’s no wonder Craig Ismaili included the album in his top 10 for 2015.  The band’s main attributes seem to be nostalgia and melancholy in the rawest form.  Recorded at Tree Lady Studios, the ambient white noise in the background of the track “Nowhere Town” to the finger picking and sliding sounds of the acoustic guitars in “Stay With Me” ultimately reminds me of a Figure 8 (Elliott Smith) and Bon Iver self titled love child.

Eventually when you’re able to pay attention to the lyrics, they melt your heart as well.  Mariage Blanc is easy to listen to and to fall in love with. They feel like a reincarnation of Simon and Garfunkel’s clever and perfectly placed chorus and lyrics that draw you in on the first listen. Who could even renounce the pain felt when you heard “did your heart break down in June?”  I can tell you that it tore straight through my soul and I can only imagine the energy they put into their live show, so if they decide to come to your town, you best be there. You know the beasts will!

The Dove & The Wolf – Taking The US By Storm
September 24, 2015 9:46 am

Paris-based duo Paloma and Lou have been musical partners for years. The Dove & The Wolf is their most recent project, and their music is spreading across the US like wildfire.


Their self-distributed EP was released back in 2012, only six months after the duo’s formation, and was immediately picked up and highlighted by the New York Times. Now fresh out of college, Paloma and Lou seem to have spent just as much time in the US as their home countries, France and Martinique.

And what’s not to like about The Dove & The Wolf? Their dual guitars blend just as effortlessly as their vocal harmonies. The songs are catchy, yet they possess an ambient and melancholic quality. As they say on their website, their music is “where Crosby, Stills & Nash and Air meet a feminine tenor.” Despite the ambient tints of their music, Air doesn’t really come to mind when listening to them. Take away the electronics from Air and you have nothing, however the stripped-down, acoustic live versions of The Dove & The Wolf are arguably just as good as the multi-layered versions we hear on their EP.

Unsurprisingly, a debut album is now in the works. Judging by their most recent release, a short EP called Words You Said, we could conclude that Paloma and Lou are heading into slightly more ambient territory. Perhaps the influences of Air will be more apparent in their next album. That would be interesting to hear, though I hope they don’t lose their melancholic quality in the process. In any case, I can be nothing but excited.

September 22, 2015 9:30 pm

Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller are the master collaborators who morphed together two greatly artistic minds to conceptualize Faile. Sections of the “Savage/Sacred Young Minds” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum has been splattered all over the Instagrams of Brooklynites since July, and it only resides here until October 4th, so tap into that nostalgia of the graffiti covered walls you saw inside the tiny bathroom of your first Brooklyn pub, and delve into the energy of the artwork inspired by such a staple of NYC grit.

I walked into the drastic blast of glowing colors and neon lights that covered the entirety of the 5th floor Faile exhibit. Now, I gotta be honest, it was the last hour the museum was open and I had prepared myself for a truly ethereal, artful immersion for Faile at a bottomless brunch earlier, so it took my eyes a second to adjust. Once that happened, I was able to witness the awe of this installation. I felt silly for waiting this long to see it in the first place since I had a craving the next day to be inside the room once again. It gave me nostalgic fondness of adolescent innocence; trying to make sense of and understand the world through a perspective of pop culture, digital interactions, and a rebellion whose loudness reverberated off the walls.


The interactivity displayed through pinball machines in the arcade were a perfect provider of the playful noise that encapsulated the down-to-earth, full sensory experience that the Patricks intended to create. It was not just an amazingly modern Warhol-esque exhibit, it was a full-bodied experience that was too small for my liking. The entire damn 5th floor could have been turned into a little galaxy of trippy colors and could have moved the American Identities to the fabric of the streets of Brooklyn itself! (Kidding.. American Identities is great too! Although it would be cool to see them plastered on brick buildings.)

Public accessibility to great art adds to the likability of the Patricks, whose namesake “Faile” came from “A Life” because of their interest to incorporate what every good artist knows all too well. “Look past your failures and you’ll find life.”

Written by Annie Paul 


@dustyrebel FaileArt In Redhook, BK

@dustyrebel FaileArt In Redhook, BK