KENDRICK LAMAR, TAME Impala and Grimes have all had their moments. Well, not really, because they’re all incredible artists who are going to have many other “moments”, but they’ve had their moments in Pi. Actually, they haven’t ever really been in Pi, but not because we don’t like them; no one needs another write up on Visions and how its merging of so-called trashy chart pop and experimentalism is totally representative of how open we’ve all become to previously shunned forms of music in 2012. We’re coming at you with some new shit; instead, y’all are gonna get a simple list of records that came out this year and were dope but were sadly overlooked by many.
Lil Ugly Mane − Mista thug isolation
Ugly Mane was one of my favourite rappers of the last two years. Shawn Kemp, his production alter ego was one of my favourite producers of the last two years. Neither one is getting enough love. As Lil Ugly Mane, his Mista Thug Isolation tape ups the ante in every way from Playaz Circle. In his new record Ugly Mane has managed to broaden his horizons, while still maintaining the same combination of experimentalism and old school Memphis Triple Six sound that distinguishes his music.
Recommended tracks: Lookin 4 Tha Suckin has to be one of the most interesting, innovative and enjoyable tracks of the year. Breezem Out and the amazingly titled Bitch I’m Lugubrious are also highlights.
Bell Witch − Longing
Bell Witch’s Longing is crushing, despairing, heavy, slow and at times surprisingly beautiful. Even if the idea of twenty-minute doom tracks, or metal/dark-ambient in general doesn’t appeal to you, you should give this a listen anyway, it’s surprisingly accessible.
Recommended tracks: Longing (the river of ash)
Evian Christ − Kings and Them
In 2012 Joshua Leary AKA Evian Christ came from nowhere (well actually, from near Liverpool), dropped this and got picked up by Tri Angle. To be honest, this is probably the least overlooked release on this list, but it deserves more recognition than it has got so far. If you like sparsity and bass and chopped up Tyga vocals and amazing dance music then listen to this.
Recommended tracks: Thrown Like Jacks
Vince Staples − ShyneColdchain
Vince Staples is another MC who needs more love. Since his track-stealing appearance on Earl Sweatshirt’s “epaR” back in 2010, those who took note have been thirsting for more. 2012 saw an answer to our collective prayers as Vince released two mixtapes, ShyneColdchain Vol. 1 and the also great Winter In Prague with producer Michael Uzoworu. ShyneColdchain is pure gold. Vince spits cold, cold bars in a voice that was made to rap.
Recommended tracks: 102, TriggaWitta Heart and Taxi
DJ Rashad − Teklife vol. 1: Welcome to the Chi
Why does everyone in the UK love garage, grime, dubstep and deep house but give no love to footwork? There are some enthusiasts of the spastic genre which originated in Chicago here and there, but we’ve yet to see a footwork track reach gun fingers in the air status at most clubs. Anyway, this release is madness and DJ Rashad and a host of guests (including frequent collaborators DJ Spinn, DJ Manny and Gant-Man) will make you lose your shit if you aren’t lame. I promise.
Recommended tracks: Just listen to Don’t Drop It on some good-ass speakers.
YUU − Timetimetime&time
This is some future shit. Bass, skittery beats, footwork rhythms, acoustic instruments, lo-fi vocals and YYU’s oddly titled timetimetime&timehas it all in a confusing but thoroughly current package that could only have come from the post-internet generation. Released by Beer On The Rug, who have a bunch of really cool forward-thinking music coming out these days (check out Mediafired).
Recommended tracks: Your Hands
Windy & Carl − We Will Always Be
Windy & Carl are a couple/musical duo from Michigan, who in their own words are “still very much in love.” Their latest album is called We Will Always Be. Isn’t that cute? However, their music isn’t cutesy at all, its just really beautiful and you will totally bliss out to it and stuff. They’ve been making great ambient music for a long time and this is another quality release.
Recommended tracks: Spires
Macintosh Plus − Floral Shoppe
Another release from Beer On The Rug, Macintosh Plus makes weird, post-internet jams from weird, twisted windows 95-y sounds and strange, chopped and screwed funk. The songs are great, the artwork is like woah and the song titles are like WTF??? Seriously, they’re mostly in Japanese/Chinese, one track is the Chinese word for maths and one is a bunch of Japanese with ‘420’ in the middle of it. What’s not to love?
Recommended tracks: リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー. This track is too hot.
Chris Cohen − Overgrown Path
Overgrown Path is a rare breed of album, you can listen to it all the way through without having the slightest desire to skip anything. It’s a perfect album. Chris Cohen has worked with Deerhoof, Ariel Pink, Cass McCombs and many others, but on Overgrown Path he creates a sound, which is entirely his own. It’s catchy but deceptively complex, lightly acid washed psych pop. At thirty seven he’s hardly kicking off his solo career early, but here’s to hoping he keeps playing music for a long time to come.
Recommended tracks: Caller No. 99