Demo Reviews: Best of 2014

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Well, what a year it’s been.
I can’t believe I reviewed all the demo’s and I’m still here to talk about it. I figured a disgruntled artist woulda got me by now…or perhaps I’d take my own life to avoid having to keep reviewing demos. Either way, i’m still standing!
This is not about that though. This is where we get to see the cream of the crop. These are the best demo’s of year. If you’re curious how they got chosen, it’s simple.
I based it on my personal ratings and fan voting. If both coincided on some level, the song made it to the “best of” stage. Sometimes a song would get low votes but a high grade by me or vice versa so I just used common sense to pick which songs got in.
Now, i need you to vote on the best one. There is a rap category and an Instrumental category. Vote in each! The winners get a sloppy blow job from me. Just kidding. They might get a tweet or something though. Which is pretty much an internet version of a sloppy blow job.
So check them out!

Rap Songs:

Artist: Galactic Brethren

Song: Time Bandits


A nice understated beat. A good variety of rap styles. This one won’t blow you away but it’s undeniably solid. Sure, some of the rappers are better than others but that’s how this all works. This one also gets points for how it’s put together. Well recorded and not just dudes rapping over a loop. it’s a legit song.

Artist: Aralass

Song: Cloudcatchers


Can’t help but see this name and think of Arli$$ from HBO.
Anyway, This is a great example of some mellow minimal stuff.
The break between verses is a bit long for my taste but, if you’re a person who’s into scratching , it’ll be your shit.
The first rapper is definitely the stronger of the two but the second guy doesn’t bring it down too much.

Artist:Mic Capes

Song:Never stop


This was the song I gave the highest score to of all the demos of this year.
it’s funny cause , listening to it now, it’s definitely good but not that great. It’s well made, well recorded and well executed. That said, it’s not exactly blowing my mind. I guess it just goes to show how effective covering all your bases can be. I must have been in an especially pragmatic mood the day i reviewed it. That said, there is really nothing wrong with this song and that in itself is a rarity for these demo reviews.

Artist: Dead the poets

Song:Xanax colored cadillac
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This is just a likable, drugged out joint. The first rapper , to me, is one of the better dudes you'll ever hear in these demo reviews based entirely off his presence , voice and overall swagger. The second dude is solid too.
The beat is a pretty simple loop with some small changes but it is perfect for the kind of song they made.
After re-visiting all these, this one might be my favorite of the year.

Artist: MicP

Song: Going spam in Lala Land


This one got in more for the beat than the rapping. Not to say the rapping is bad. it’s pretty good, actually. But this beat is my shit. the rapper does a good enough job over it to make it stand out as one of the years overall best demos.

Artist: Diogenes Ft. Barfly

Song:Pistols at dawn


This is the opposite of the one above. It’s more about the rapping. The beat is solid but , ultimately, not particularly interesting. The rappers are seemingly high as fuck but it’s working for them. While it’s flawed, they are a few better choices away from making a really dope song.

Artist: Lucid optics

Song: Mind of psilocybin


This one got a lot of votes. I liked it enough but wasn’t that into the rappers voice. He can rap well and the weird ass beat definitely works for me. It’s a bugged out song. i can see why it got the votes it did.

Artist: Matt Black

Song: Champloo


Very well made all around. So much so i questioned if the beat was actually made by them or not. Well, no one said it wasn’t so I assume it’s an original. That’s dope. The rapping is secondary here but still good enough to keep the song going.

So, which is your favorite?

Instrumental:
Artist:Furbie Cakes

Song: Vacation Trees


Nice mellow vibe. Distinctively european sounds. Like, I could hear it in coffee shops.
The horn line is dope.
More than anything, it evolves nicely and doesn’t drag too much.

Artist: Geovybe

Song:Groove with me


This is more a right up the middle instrumental track. Soul samples, chops, and some good break downs. It’s solid all the way around , if not particularly original.

Artist:Agrume de Cerveau

Song:Looking for the magical toad


This is probably my personal favorite instrumental track. It’s just really well done and interesting. It’s not perfect or anything but i really like where he went with this. It’s definitely a song where you start somewhere and end somewhere else.

Artist: Geniusenis

Song:Every Generation


This starts off just sounding like a melancholy rap track but flips into some somewhat EDM shit. I typically don’t get too into that kinda stuff but he does a nice job with it. Sure, it’s just some simple chops but it’s well executed.

Artist: Mental Effector

Song: Naive


This 100% got in due to fan votes. In my review i more comment on how it’s good but not really my cup of tea. Well, apparently it was your cup of tea. That early 80’s r&b steeze is dope and definitely on display here.

Which is your favorite?

Demo reviews: Best of 2013

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Even though it’s already 2014, I’m not forgetting to cover the best of the “Demo Reviews”. These are the top songs I received over this year. I chose them based on my own ratings and how many votes they got. I also split up voting into instrumental and vocal categories. As I’ve said before, I’m always gonna be more a fan of the rap demos but, that said, I got some good instrumental stuff this year for sure.
I was considering doing a “Worst of…” demo reviews but I don’t think there’s enough room on the internet for that. So, a “best of” it is!
So, here it is, the cream of the crop. I posted them all as I originally reviewed them. Vote and lemme know who you think had the best demo of the year. Last years winner, Dinosaur Burps, won nothing but I did rock their album in my Ipod a decent amount, so that’s something!
This years winner? Who knows what’s in store for them? Maybe a trip into one of my I-tunes playlists? The sky is the limit. But seriously, there’s some good stuff in here and it does remind me why I even bother doing this column. Even though it’s 85% hell, that 15% of decent stuff does help me maintain faith that music isn’t dead yet.

The top instrumental demo’s of the year:

Artist: Pistol V
Song: Reyes


That was pretty dope. Really well layered and it evolved nicely. A couple of the drum sounds didn’t fit the vibe of the rest of the music but, really, that’s me splitting hairs. Well done.

Production:7 out of 10

Vocals:n/a

Listenability:6 out of 10

originality:5 out of 10


Artist: ShakeySuperfly
Song:Mini-Boss


That was a spastic little journey but packed a lot in just a minute plus. Listening to this, I feel as though it may be over my head. It’s crazy (in a good way). Tight little edits with seemingly tons of different sounds jammed together. It works well. So, while it’s not for me personally, I could definitely see some serious edm music nerd types losing their mind to this. Definitely high originality points on this one.

Production:6 out of 10

Vocals: N/A

Listenability:5 out of 10

Originality:7 out of 10


Artist: The Bins
Song: Hold on


This is very well made. After a week of submissions of some fairly low quality bedroom recordings, this one seems professionally mixed. The vocal samples are really dope. The transitions are all really smooth. Beyond all the technical aspect, this is a successful feel good song. While that can also be seen as being a little corny, pulling that off is no small feat. Definitely feels like an Avalances song.

Production:
6.5 out 10

Vocals:
n/a

Listenability:
6 out of 10

Originality:5 out of 10

Artist: Skeleton Zoo
Song:Devil’s Lettuce


The devil’s lettuce is weed, right? Totally brooooooooo. This is is actually pretty cool and interesting. It’s got a zaniness to it that i can definitely appreciate. It’s like a deranged circus. In fact, I kinda like this one. It’s rare i get something that I’d consider “original” but this is certainly that (at least to me)

Production:
6 out of 10

Vocals:
n/a

Listenability:
6 out of 10

Originality:6.5 out of 10

Artist:Wax Triptych
Song: Moonlight Vibe


Well, this is pretty good. Great layering. It moves along well and keep evolving as it goes. Definitely hear the RJd2 influence in here for sure. I gotta say , it’s just nice to hear someone in this demo review section make a beat with multiple sample sources (I’m assuming it’s from multiple sources) and actually have everything blend perfectly. My only knock on this is that the main drum break used is extremely played out but, even that get chopped up a bit to nice effect. Well done.

Production:7 of 10

Vocals:
N/A

Listenability:
7.5 out of 10

Originality:4.5 out of 10

So, Which do you like the best?

And now the demo’s featuring vocals…

Artist:NOWON
Song: Evil Ego’s Pt 1


This beat is pretty interesting. I don’t know if I like it or not but points for originality. The rapper sounds kinda like johnny Depp in “fear and loathing in las vegas” which is actually sorta cool. He’s got elements that are really good but still needs some work. Definitely promising all around but not quite there yet.

Production:5 out of 10

Vocals:5 out of 10

Listenability:5 out of 10

Originality:6 out of 10

Artist:Low Top Lee
Song: Shuriken Speaking


This is really solid. The beat is strong and just when I thought it was getting annoying with the horn stabs, they threw a change in there.
The rapper is pretty good too. good voice, nice presence. I dunno if I’d wanna hear a whole album of him but that’s really just me nitpicking. Good job.

Production:6 out of 10

Vocals:6.5 out of 10

Listenability:6 out of 10

Originality:5 out of 10

Artist: Vernon Bridges
Song:Over the Weather


Dope beat. Nice layering, good changes and the mood is really cool too. The first rapper sounds like a less retarded Lil Dap (I mean that as a compliment).

He’s got one of those lisps that works.
The second dude is pretty good too.
It reminds me of a demo I’d hear on stretch and Bob’s radio show in the mid-90′s that I would lose my shit over. Except this will seemingly age better. Really good stuff here. I’d put this in my top five all time demos I’ve received.

Production:6.5 out of 10

Vocals:6.5 out of 10

Listenability:7 out of 10

Originality:4 out of 10

Artist: Windmills
Song: Truly yours


Whoa, hey there double-time guy! This rapper definitely can flow his ass off. He actually sounds comfortable in the pocket doing the fast rapping thing. Very solid. The beat is well made and has a nice melancholic feeling to it but it’s ultimately kinda boring. My one main issue with this is the hook. It’s mixed way too loud and I don’t know if it works that well in the context of the song. It doesn’t ruin the song or anything but it just sounds slightly out of place. That may just be cause of the mixing though.

Production:5 out of 10

Vocals:6 out of 10

Listenability:5 out of 10

Originality:4.5 out of 10

Artist: Humpasuar Jones
Song: The lamentations


Pretty good. It’s well produced, well mixed and the song is put together nicely. The rapper is solid too. Kinda reminds me of J-zone a little. At least in his voice.


Nothing really negative to say about this. I mean, both the beats and rhymes aren’t blowing me away but it’s simply a very solid song, front to back.

Production:6.5 out of 10

Vocals: 6 out of 10

Listenability: 6.5 out of 10

Originality:5 out of 10

Artist: Suddle
Song: Stellar

https://soundcloud.com/suddlenuance/suddle-stellar-wip

Shout out to this dude for not allowing people to embed his song. Get it together, bro.
This beat is dope. Straight up. It’s solid all around.It’s got a 90′s vibe to it but without sounding like it’s pandering to that era. Cool, subtle layers and changes. Definitely one of the best rap beats I’ve ever gotten.
The rapping is okay. He’s 100% capable and has a nice presence. While he doesn’t exactly set himself apart from most other decent rappers, if all his beats are like this, it won’t matter.

Production:
7 out of 10

Vocals:
4.5 out of 10

Listenability:
5.5 out of 10

Originality:4 out of 10

Artist: Ayentee
Song: Time Line


The beat is dope as fuck.The rapping is good. It definitely is one of those rap songs that’s tipping it’s hat to some 90′s hip hop. No new ground being broke here but it’s nothing if not solid.

Production:
6 out of 10

Vocals:
5.5 out of 10

Listenability:
6.5 out of 10

Originality:3 out of 10

Artist:Steezo Feat Himp C
song: Blunts and Bacon


This isn’t bad at all but I had pretty high hopes for a song called “Blunts and Bacon”.
This is actually pretty good. It’s a well crafted song with some good raps and even a decent hook. To be honest, the thing that jumped out to me the most was the dope vibraphone chop on the hook. Loved that shit. 
While this may not be something that i’d come back to a bunch of times it’s certainly a very strong demo.

Production:6 out of 10

Vocals:5.5 out of 10

Listenability:6 out of 10

Originality:4.5 out of 10

Artist: Rezidue Ft. Legacy and Misk
Song: Above average


Above average indeed! Slightly.
This is dope. I like this beat a lot. The little subtle short sounds that bleep in really are a nice touch.
The rapping is solid. Nothing game changing but certainly very listenable. There’s a Wu-tangish quality to it all but that’s not exactly a bad thing…

Production:6 out of 10

Vocals:5.5 out 10

Listenability:5.5 out of 10

Originality:5 out of 10

So, which demo did you like the most?

My top ten songs of the year

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It’s been a great year for rap. Like, the best year in a LONG time. At least 5 classic albums have come out and countless others that ranged from great to really good. In honor of this year, i figured i’d throw my hat into the “year end list” ring and tell you all my top ten favorite songs of the year. Keep in mind, they are not in order. I don’t think I could make a list that official but, hey, this is better than nothing, right? Okay. i hope you agree with me about some of these cause it would be a bummer for you to be that wrong.
Also, I made a point to not have more than one song by any given artist. I could have had a few repeats in here but figured it would be best to spread the love…after all, the worlds supposed to end tomorrow, right?

Cold facts: KA

KA made the perfect winter album. Not since the mid 90’s has an east coast artist come with an album so perfectly suited for grey skies and northface jackets. This was the first song i heard from his awesome album “Grief Pedigree” and it left it’s mark for the entire year. Even during the summer when it didn’t even make sense. Anyone who’s ever been on a new york subway alone at night should be able to relate to this song.

All smiles: Mark Spekt and Kno

Every now and that someone makes a feel good song that’s not even particularly positive but it still gives you that feeling. this is that song for 2012. Between the beat and Spekt going to town on the rhymes, it’s pretty much just one of those songs that hits on all angles. Not that it will give it any credibility but I definitely rocked this heavy when i was running on the elliptical this year. It made that bullshit tolerable , which is a feat in itself.

Rent party revolution Taco neck remix): Open Mike eagle

Not gonna lie, I really wanted to put his song “5ree thinkers” here but there wasn’t a proper youtube link…Luckily for me, this song is also one of my favorites so I don’t even feel that bad replacing my initial choice. Regardless, Open Mike Eagle has one of the more productive years in recent memory (second only to
Homeboy Sandman) and his quality has not lagged. This is a great remix that totally overhauled the song, bringing new life to it. But, seriously, check out the “5ree thinkers” joint. Not only does Mike kill it but Hot Sugar may be the best new producer out there right now.

Bible on the dash: Gunplay

I made a poll about Gunplay a few months ago to get an idea where my readership stands on him. Much like i expected, a decent amount of you weren’t into him and wrote him off as a typical gangster rapper. Unfortunately for those people, they were very wrong. I know it’s opinion and all but this dude is simply too dope a rapper to be denied over some petty shit like his topical range. He possesses every facet that makes an MC dope…I feel bad for those of you who can’t see it. Anyway, this song is awesome. It’s actually one of his more “introspective” joint…if that type of Gunplay song even exists.

Original: Mystikal

This song got more run by me than anything else this year. I’m a huge mystikal fan and he delivers so hard on this. From the second I heard the first line come out of his mouth the first time i heard the song to yesterday when i bumped it in my Ipod it’s sustained it’s awesomeness. I could do without the Lil Wayne verse but , luckily for me, it’s at the end so it’s easy to skip.

Duck hunt : billy woods

In a year of incredible albums, billy Woods “History will absolve me” is probably one of my favorites. This song was like his call to arms. Woods got a lot to say and he says it unlike anyone else. This song reminds me of a new and improved version of what smart rappers were doing in the early 2000’s. Also, the beat is fucking nuts.

Gopher guts: Aesop Rock

It’s hard for me to really judge Aesop song cause I know him so well…but this song…goddamn. The first time I heard it it gave me chills. I don’t know if that’s BECAUSE I know him or simply because it’s just such a powerful song. Whatever it is, he hit on something that is highly uncommon in rap. Even more uncommon is that he did it without being even remotely corny or forced.. People talk about shit being “deep” but this is that for real.

Tek to a mack: Roc Marciano

It was hard to pick one song off this album. It’s an album full of great songs that are all pretty similar. Roc is a cocky asshole and I mean that in the best possible way. The beat reminds me of a Michael Mann movie and Roc’s vivid imagery just fits perfectly. That said, this could have been any number of songs from his new album “Reloaded”. And by that , I mean you should go buy that shit right now.

The miracle: Homeboy sandman

Sometimes, you just wanna hear a dude rip shit. This song is just Homeboy Sandman going for his relentlessly. It’s one long verse over an ever changing back drop that just seems to go on and on. People don’t make songs like this very much anymore and it’s too bad cause it’s like a calisthenics course for rappers. There are not many people rapping right now that could do it like Sandman does on this track.

Mighty morphin foreskin: Captain murphy

Hey! Captain Murphy is Flying Lotus! Okay?!?! I love this shit. It’s as close to Mavillian as anyone is going to get anytime soon (including MF Doom). Who knew Flying Lotus could rap? In fact, part of the reason it’s so good is cause you kinda get the feeling that he’s doing it just for fun. Remember when people made music cause it’s fun? Those were the days.

Honorable mentions:




Demo Reviews: THE BEST OV DA BEST

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So, I’ve been doing these demo reviews for a while now. It’s been a somewhat painful yet enlightening experience. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve vacillated as to whether I should continue with this (as it’s one of those things that takes a lot of time to write to, typically, mind numbing results) But, every now and then, a good song will pop up and make things worth it (kinda)
The year is coming to a close and I figured it might be fun to have a yearly winner of “Demo of the year”. So, I’m taking the winner of each poll of the past 12 Demo review columns and putting them up against each other. I will also give a brief recap of what I thought of that song. Keep in mind, there are the songs YOU voted to win for those weeks. I often woulda picked something different. But I’m don’t rule with an iron fist so I leave it up to the people.

So, vote and lemme know who #1 is. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE! The prize? Eh, I dunno. A pat on the back? Who fucking knows…
Also, a few of the original links given didn’t work so I’m afraid those got disqualified. Sorry to those people. Trust me, life will go on. because of that, I threw in one extra that I kinda liked and felt people slept on. Only cause I remembered it months later and that in itself is a feat with these demos.

Artist:Black and friendly

Song:Young Heavy soul food


http://youngheavysouls.com/track/young-heavy-soul-food

This one is pretty fresh in my mind as it was from two weeks ago. It’s cool. I like the beat and it has a nice listenability to it. The rapping is fine (even with the white voice. Whattup friendly!!). More than anything though, this is a well conceived , put together and executed song which is a much harder to pull of than people realize.

Artist: El Topo

Song: Bite the bullet


http://soundcloud.com/el_topo-2/bite-the-bullet-stbb209

This is one that coulda been really great if the producer had just had better drums. The musical elements are fresh and well done but those drums…hard to get past, in my opinion. But hey, what do i know? You guys loved this one so there must be something to it.

Artist:Dinosaur Burps

Song:WV Bruder Alles


http://soundcloud.com/big-river-records/wv-bruder-alles-1

For my money, this is EASILY the best demo I’ve ever gotten. I don’t wanna sway the voting cause when I spoke so highly of it before, a few butthurt people came out trying to nitpick it due to my positive response. As if this column has been a gold mine for great music. Whatever is clever but the fact remains that this is literally the only demo i’ve ever received that ended up on my Ipod. The beat is dope and the rapper is not only skilled, but kinda clever ,all while not taking himself too seriously.

Artist: Funny Death

Song: First Love

http://soundcloud.com/funnydeath/first-love

This is one of those rare instrumental tracks I get that i can actually tell is a step above the rest. It’s just really well done and has a warming vibe to it. Even if it’s not something I’d personally bump, hats off to the dude who made. Which is an ill thing for me to say, cause I never take my hat off.

Artist: Mixmaster McDiffitt

Song: Sunburn

http://soundcloud.com/mixmaster-mcdiffitt/the-blos-sunburn

What a weird and interesting track. This beat is very dope. The rapping is okay. I can see why this won it’s week though. It’s got a hypnotic quality to it for sure.

Artist: Getulio, The Old Gorilla

Song: All day and all night


http://getuliotheoldgorilla.bandcamp.com/track/all-day-and-all-night
I remember this one. It stood out as it seemed like a polished and well thought out piece. This is what “trip hop” used to be. Very well done.

Artist: GDP

Song:Quintuplets

This is from back when I accepted youtube clips.
It got that old CO-flow before el-p’s solo career vibe with rapping that closely resembles Big Jus. Not a diss , as both those things are good. I recall this not being exactly up my alley (I’ve never been crazy about beats like this) but still a dope song nonetheless.

Artist: Night:Light

Song: You should leave me

http://soundcloud.com/nightlightuk/if-you-should-leave-me

This is okay. I dunno…must have been a slow week or something for this to win. I mean, it’s not bad at all, it’s just a little repetitive. The break a 2:56 is dope though.

Artist:Atari Blitzkrieg

Song:Think Twice (Krohme’s Sld Rnnr RMX) feat. Rapper Pooh, Motion Man and Breez Evahflowin’

http://atariblitzkrieg.bandcamp.com/track/think-twice-krohmes-sld-rnnr-rmx-feat-rapper-pooh-motion-man-and-breez-evahflowin

This is one of those tracks that felt a little like cheating. It had a few established guests on it and that usually goes a long way. The rapping is solid…duh. They are professionals. The beat bangs as well. Nothing we haven’t heard before but it’s just a solid hip hop track. Dope beat + good raps = success. It’s really not that complicated. I’m shocked it’s so hard for some people to figure out.

Artist: Strangers

Song: Lounted in the basement


http://strangers312.bandcamp.com/track/lounted-in-the-basement-prod-jota-ese

This is the extra I threw in. It’s deeply Madlib influenced , almost to a fault, but it’s a very enjoyable song. The beat is pretty…umm..whimsical? Whatever, it’s dope. And the rapping fits perfectly with it. Figured I’d use my executive power to give it a second chance.

Now, tell me who you think had the best demo of the year…