Marco Polo featuring Artifacts - "Back To Work"
I'm a sucker for nostalgia, but this track isn't some throwback to the past. Sure, Marco Polo plus The Artifiacts were integral during the '90s, but there is definite progression on "Back To Work" The cut opens with traditional scratches, stuttering the name of The Artifacts where the beats and lyrics bounce off one another. Cool metaphors like "I'm speaking tongues like a seance" infiltrate the track, and it's an all around good time. Being from New Jersey, the Artifacts were everything to me coming up. It's good to know that history can repeat itself and veterans like them and Marco Polo can still keep churning out the good stuff for the new generation to check out. - Kathy Iandoli (@kath3000)
The White Mandingos - "The Ghetto Is Tryna To Kill Me"
The White Mandingos are a reason for fans of visceral middle-finger-in-the-air music to get excited again. With a streak of subversive humor, this super-trio featuring Murs, ego trip co-founder Sacha Jenkins and Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer are delivering something fresh while calling to mind an era when things still felt dangerous and unpredictable; an era when Metal, Punk, Hip Hop and Reggae shared the same fans, borrowed each other's artists and experimented with other genres. This was a time when KRS-One handled the intro on Sick Of It All's debut LP, Public Enemy rhymed over Slayer riffs and Ice-T collaborated with Jello Biafra. Much the same way The White Mandingos do on their first single "The Ghetto Is Tryna To Kill Me," bands like the Bad Brains could start with a laidback groove on a track like "I And I Survive" and jolt into the breakneck Hardcore double-time of "Banned In D.C." "The Ghetto Is Tryna To Kill Me's" Jason Goldwatch-directed video is the perfect aesthetic match for the track. The grainy 8mm look highlights "The Ghetto's..." sonic rawness while the rapid cuts, zooms and street footage work with the lyrics, guitar blasts and ending tempo shift. The questions we ask ourselves are also the same. When we see the act of eating fried chicken loaded with sexuality it feels similar to when we hear Murs adopting the punk ethos of "independence and militance" but blending it with the "swag" money-making sensibility of a Fortune 500 company. Is this commentary on how music has been dressed up with lots of T&A while being corrupted by materialism and record company greed? Or is it just fun to watch hot chicks eating greasy food like it's fun to rail against the man while taking his money? It doesn't really matter. The important thing is you watched, listened and started to think. - Michael Sheehan
Blu - "Dre Day"
Dr. Dre was the first Hip Hop artist—besides Tupac Shakur, that I was obsessed with as a teenager. How many kids in the mid-'90s do you know, that were playing World Class Wreckin' Cru albums on the way to sixth and seventh grade (in addition to heavy doses of N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, The D.O.C., and Eazy-E). Anyway, in a week that wasn't really impressive (to me, at least) for new music, it was cool to hear that same fanaticism in Blu in "Dre Day." As a Los Angeles native and somebody with ties to some of loose N.W.A./Ruthless Records-era affiliates, I can only imagine what Andre Young meant to young Johnson Barnes. Blu never wastes a moment to exercise concept, and that's one of the things that makes him great. It's not quite "U.B.R.," but a downplayed treat to those in the know. - Jake Paine (@Citizen__Paine)