Smokin’ Shorts: ZOOM Dance Parties at the End of the World

By Hank McCoy

By Hank McCoy

5 min read

Little Simz – Drop 6 

Drop 6 released on May 6 by Little Simz is a 13 minute five track power move by Little Simz that is here to energize your quarantine.  She recorded the project in her home under lockdown and thank god she did.  Tracks like might bang, might not has Simz delivering her rapid-fire bars over a sparse hype track that exudes that London Grime swag so familiar from her earlier work.  

I first caught the vibe that Little Simz was putting down on wax when Kendrick Lamar shouted her out back in 2016.  Her debut album Stillness in Wonderland was a bomb that cracked the souls of the hardest backpack kids, they couldn’t help themselves, they were stuck in love with the lyrical style and prowess of Little Simz.  That style’s on full display with the track one life, might live off her Drop 6 EP.

With the world stuck in their bedrooms, it’s been interesting to hear projects that artists are releasing recorded in seclusion, Drop 6 is an example of how creativity hits no matter where you are.  It takes a special type of artist to grab those ideas and press them to a record. 

Tijuana Panthers – Pull The Chute

When you listen to Pull The Chute, the new EP from Tijuana Panthers, you get a peek into idyllic Americana, 50’s perfection.  Everything was looking bright and all the darkness was swept under the rug where it would stay until people started eating acid and mushrooms in the desert, then they started to wonder what the hell was under the rug?  Tijuana Panthers have come up with a good times rock project that is perfect for drawing on the walls of your bedroom or maybe throwing a quarantine dance party through ZOOM.

A song like Phone Girl has Tijuana Panthers pulling their garage rock card out revealing the connection between the lo-fi simplicity of garage rock and the styles of the 50’s brought about by hot rodding and beatnik bravado.  The Long Beach, California rockers exude the west coast with a track like Socks La Vida…Tijuana Panthers manages to surf through these genres to produce a wacky and fun experience with Pull The Chute.     

Freja The Dragon – Long Gone Girl

I don’t know who the hell Freja The Dragon is and that is my first mistake.  The Stockholm singer/songwriter has released her Long Gone Girl EP and the record is a titan.  I will never walk around unaware of Freja again. I promise. The production on the record is a mix between 80’s pop and modern electronic dance, plus throw in some interesting percussion choices and you have the future of Swedish pop music.  

The cover of Long Gone Girl alone should make you want to put this EP on repeat.  Freja reminds me of Curtis Mayfield or some other imposing musical god on the cover.  The title track is a beast, however so is Cut Me Loose and the rest of the tracks on the project.  Give It All Up is one of my faves probably.  She takes the feeling I get from groups like Phantogram and The xx and goes to another level with it through her songwriting.  

Grip – Halo

There’s no shortness of bangers on the new EP Halo from rapper Grip.  It’s a modern day boom bap ode to a global pandemic from the Atlanta rapper. Grip has been known to drop concept records like we used to get from artists like Masta Ace (see Snubnose LP).  His rugged lyrical appeal laced over soul samples is the vibe hardcore rap heads are constantly on the lookout for.  Producer TU! is responsible for these glamorous beats.  A track like Cassius is a reminder of the big production records of producers like Swizz Beats.  Grip doesn’t hold back on Cassius, there’s no hooks, no come down, only swift strokes with the bushido blade to prove his album Snubnose was no mfing coincidence.  

The drums on the track Randy Watson along with Grip’s raw flow, is a janky collaboration that has a beautiful vocal sample that runs on a loop in the background that I can’t get enough of.  Every track on the record is built around a different soul sample that isn’t simply chopped up into oblivion, but used like the best of them do.  The samples breath on the track and it lends to the emotional context of the album.  The five track EP comes in at 15 minutes in length.  The perfect digestible size for an unrelenting project like Halo

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