Album Review: Uncommon Nasa – Written at Night

by Dustin

2017-10-10

8/10

To fans of the now disbanded Definitive Jux, the name Uncommon Nasa probably isn’t terribly unfamiliar. As an engineer he had his hands in the release of some of the labels most notably early works. For those unfamiliar, however, he’s also an extremely talented producer and emcee. Staying true to his roots as a musician, Nasa is a bit of a throwback to listen to. His music embodies the sound of New York’s underground scene, and his many releases show a true dedication to his own craftsmanship; however, this most recent project is a little bit different. Written at Night panned back from Nasa as a focal point and took a highly collaborative approach with other artists.

Though unconventional, this approached payed off in spades when digesting the final product.

The theme of Written at Night was relatively loose. Instead of chaining artists to specific topics, the album acted more like a diary of late night thoughts; moreover, there was “lightning in a bottle” feel to this sort of approach which was really quite interesting. The guest appearances often felt rough around the edges, as if the artists caught a wave of creativity in the dead of night and rolled with whatever came out of their pen. This is far from a negative however, and it was a massive part of Written at Night’s charm. It also made the album unpredictable. Even when approaching features with quite distinctive styles such as Open Mike Eagle and Quelle Chris, there was no real way to figure out what sort of direction they were going to take on their respective songs. This unpredictability added a nice sense of required engagement, as if turning ears away from the album for even a moment could result in missing something important.

Uncommon Nasa himself appeared on every song, but his presence was not overly pronounced. This was by design, as (like mentioned earlier) Written at Night was intended to be a collaborative release. Respectably, he kept true to this idea and didn’t force himself into the spotlight on any of the tracks save for the few solo portions at the very beginning. When Nasa did step up to the mic though, he was quite solid. His throwback New York style and enthusiasm toward hip-hop as an artform were evident. His style felt nostalgic, a throwback to the New York underground during the turn of the millennium. Being that this style doesn’t have much presence in rap currently, it was refreshing to hear on Written at Night. He may have a sound that isn’t for everybody, but there was certainly no denying the passion and thought that went into his contributions.

Nasa did, however, make himself very present on the production end of things. Handling every single instrumental on the release. He did a great job given the amount of vocal talent he was producing for. The beats were gritty, and satisfying to listen to; moreover, they were open ended enough to accommodate every artist in a comfortable way. His production wasn’t overly flashy, but it had a character and consistency which kept it engaging throughout the entirety of Written at Night.

Another interesting aspect about this album is that it seemed to gradually get more “out there” as it progressed. While a lot of albums tend to build to a climax, it was certainly a nice touch to have an album centered around late night thoughts and creativity progress in a way similar to the human mental state during the late hours of the evening. This did give the record a bit of a slow burning quality, but also a very satisfying and pleasurable complete listen; moreover, one should expect to enjoy this album more in its entirety, rather than individual songs. It was crafted in a way that lends itself perfectly to a long-form listening session.

At the end of the day, Written at Night was a compilation of likeminded artists coming together to create whatever they felt like creating. It is difficult to fairly score an album with such an open ended concept and variety of voices; however, Written at Night was undeniably solid. Nasa did an excellent job of piecing everything into properly cohesive listen. If you’re a fan of any of the artists on this release there’s probably something for you here. Incidentally, it’s also a good record to pick up if you’re looking for some new artists to dive into. Definitely a highly recommended listen.

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Halloween Goodies: Movies for the Blind, by Cage

by Dustin

mftb

Halloween is always a fun time of the year. The kiddos are out in spooky costumes collecting enough candy to become diabetic at eight years old, young adults are out in costumes slutty enough to make a stripper wince, and everyone is generally just out to have a good time. More importantly for this site however, there’s also a huge array of horror themed hip-hop out there to fit the mood of the season. We’re not talking about struggle-Juggalo horrorcore however. What we want to discuss is the artists that went deeper, combining horror elements with conventional hip-hop to create near-movie like albums.

Welcome to Extraordinary Nobodies’ first ever Halloween Week, where we will have a look at four of our favorite horror inspired albums for an entire week leading up to Halloween (though surely you have figured that out by now).

The first album on the menu is perhaps the least Halloween-flavoured of the bunch, but it’s got one foot firmly planted in the horror genre. Cage’s Movies for the Blind, released in 2002, combined shock rap with New York hip-hop in a way not many had attempted. Though he’s probably most notorious for a short lived beef with rap megastar Eminem, Cage’s first two releases are regarded by many as underground classics. Movies for the Blind started it all, and it’s a record that will leave you feeling utterly disgusted in the best way possible.

Lyrically, Movies for the Blind is the ultimate channeling of rage, drug abuse, and mental illness into bar after bar of tantalizingly shocking lines. Setting the tone is an album opener with Cage expressing an unbridled affinity for PCP and destruction. The album doesn’t quit either, with jump-scare like lyrics woven into even the most New York sounding tracks to keep you on edge. No content is off the table on this record. Murder, suicide, and violence find themselves as staples on what is a freak-show of atrocities. Dips into the norm are rare, but when they do happen it serves as a necessary break from the amazingly grotesque images Cage paints with his words.

Blue collar to corporate blessed the unfortunate,
Like when I put my foot down that bitch still aborted it,
Stuck the canister under my jacket like the lucky one,
‘Uh, sir you can’t leave with that,’ bitch this my fucking son!
(Too Much)

Unlike Hell’s Winter, which saw Cage take a more introspective approach to his music, Movies for the Blind lacks any form of self-awareness. It is an album with an emcee at his most unhinged, unloading rage and hate at anyone who will listen. It’s beautifully executed, and forces you to feel a level of discomfort that most horrorcore albums simply haven’t been able to achieve.

His charisma is also undeniable. It gets to the point that he nearly comes across as a sociopath.

I’m a suicidal failure, look my life’s a failure,
I can’t make it in rap, even my birth’s an error,
Do what I can to catch a quick death,
But I’m meant to be here and that’s the fuckin’ hell I live with.
(Suicidal Failure)

Interestingly, the production on Movies for the Blind is relatively subdue and typical for the underground New York scene at the time. The album featured production primarily by DJ Mighty Mi, but also the likes of El-P, Necro, and Camu Tao (plus a handful of others). With the lineup, it’s no surprise that the sound is so distinctly east coast. Movies for the Blind fools you into nodding along with the gritty production, while throwing lines about suicide and death in your face. The contrast is absolutely wonderful to experience; moreover, the instrumentals are brilliantly cohesive throughout.

Movies for the Blind may not be the ultimate Halloween record, but there are qualities to it that definitely make it a terrifying listening. It’s quite interesting how this album plays out like a series of short snuff films. It’s more disturbing than scary, but it remains as grimy today as it was 14 years ago upon release. Movies for the Blind is also a gem from a time where Definitive Jux and Eastern Conference (the latter of which would release the album) were just beginning to take over the New York underground scene. Whether you’re interested in records from that era, or just looking for something gory to celebrate Halloween, Movies for the Blind remains an underground classic that is wholeheartedly recommendable.

Not for the faint of heart, however.

10 Questions with Detroit’s Fatt Father

by Dustin & Apu

FF

Those in tune with the underground scene in Detroit will recognize the name Fatt Father. He has worked with hip-hop artists like D12, Elzhi, Black Milk, and Sean Price (just to name a few). On top of killing features Fatt Father has carved out a fan base through his solo releases and group projects with Detroit rap quartet The Fat Killahz alongside King Gordy, Marv Won, and ShimE BangO.

We were lucky enough to land a small question and answer session with him leading up to his new album, Veterans Day. Once again, I would like to extend our thanks to Fatt Father for taking time out of his day to do this! We’re a small blog of fans, and it is definitely appreciated!

If you’ve never listened to his tunes, definitely give them a listen (and check out the interview below)!

EN: Who would you say are your biggest influences musically?

Fatt Father: Notorious BIG, Scarface, Royce da 5’9”, The Fat Killahz, and The Temptations. I listen to soooo many different artists and genres of music, my list could actually go on forever but those are a few of my favorites!

EN: I thought “They Know” was fantastic, can we expect more music like that from you and D.R.U.G.S. Beats on Veteran’s Day? How would you describe the sound of the album?

Fatt Father: It gets even BETTER! “They Know” was actually just a warm-up… It is no where near what we’re bringing on Veterans Day! D.R.U.G.S. Beats is one of the dopest producers out there and he’s “Dr. Dre Approved” [laughs], so you know that he’s a beast. The only way to describe this album is “classic”, and that’s what we we’re shooting for. Veterans Day features The Fat Killahz, Kuniva (of D12), Royce da 5’9”, Elinor Wyn, Chordz Cordero, and many more talented individuals.

EN: I know you’ve worked with a variety of different artists like Black Milk, D12, Guilty Simpson, and more, but do you have a collaboration with another rapper that stands out to you as a personal favorite?

Fatt Father: I would have to say “Grime” from my Fatherhood album because it features Guilty Simpson, Sean Price (Rest in Peace), and Roc Marciano. These are 3 emcees that I respect and look up to, so whenever I hear the song it feels like I’m the little brother that finally got the chance to hang out with my big bros and we all did our thing!

EN: Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?

Fatt Father: Scarface! I just feel like Scarface is never afraid to put his heart on the track and I’m the exact same way so I believe that we could create some AMAZING MUSIC!

EN: Can we expect another Fat Killahz release in the future?

Fatt Father: Good question! [Laughs] I actually don’t know. It would be dope, however, everybody’s occupied with life and individual projects so if time permits, I truly believe that none of us would have a problem with making it happen, but until then we’ll just have to wait and see

EN: On the topic of the Fat Killahz, I have to ask: is King Gordy as wild in person as he comes across on record? He’s always seemed to have that rock-star attitude.

Fatt Father: He is absolutely insane but he’s my brother so I’m forced to love him! [Laughs].

EN: Are you and Marv still planning to release music as The Twin Towers? I really enjoyed that Ca’Mon song with Ro Spit when it came out.

Fatt Father: Yes we are! We just have to finish up a few more songs and hopefully it will be released after we both drop our solo projects that we’re wrapping up.

EN: On twitter and in your music you’ve always come across as an incredibly supportive parent. If you could give one piece of advice to all the dads out there, what would it be?

Fatt Father: Take advantage of EVERY moment that you get to spend with your children and NEVER take time for granted!!! I love to see my children smile, so I try to make them happy as much as I possibly can.

EN: I’m a big fan of food, so I thought we could touch on food for a second. What what the most delicious meal you’ve ever eaten?

Fatt Father: I don’t know but I can guarantee that it had bacon on it! Bacon is absolutely amazing and if it was legal to marry it, I would have no problem giving bacon my last name! [Laughs].

EN: One last question: If you had to choose, would you rather eat bacon cheeseburgers or bacon wrapped shrimp for every meal during 2016? I’m a bacon cheeseburger man, personally.

Fatt Father: I would go with the bacon cheeseburger, but I would definitely try to trade in the burger patty for more bacon! [Laughs]

EN: I’d just like to say on behalf of myself and Extraordinary Nobodies, thank you so much for your time. It’s a pleasure to be able to interview you for our site.

Fatt Father: Yo, thanks for reaching out! I appreciate all of the love and support! Check out FattWorld, Veterans Day COMING SOON!!!