New Music Friday, Dec. 9, 2016: Hip-Hop from Hodgy, Rock from the Legendary Neil Young

Lots of hip hop this week, topped by Hodgy of the Odd Future collective and yet another strong release from perennial rock legend Neil Young.

Hodgy – Fireplace:TheNotTheOtherSide

There hasn’t been a game changing hip-hop release on the order of Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 To Pimp a Butterfly, but there’s been more solid music across the board this year, and this Odd Future member has put out another one. Gerard Damien Long’s debut as Hodgy (fka Hodgy Beats) doesn’t explode the envelope with jazz and skittish beats. He’s not challenging the status quo. Except he is. Post-election (there will be a lot of post-election rumination) every voice from the outliers (which, as we’ve seen, is everything but the white hegemony) is a voice worth hearing. Though all things being equal – or not equal, as the case most certainly is – some voices are more immediate. Hodgy’s is one of them. He’s liberal with the n-word, enough to make the white middle class nervous, but not so much to fall on deaf ears. Even the most steadfast race-baiting douchebag will understand. That’s the subject of the dominant “They Want,” and it filters down through the rest of the tracks whether they’re about the daily struggle (“Laguna”) or the search for enlightenment (“Kundalini feat. Salomon Faye”) or  whatever it takes to get us through.

Cole – For Your Eyez Only

This North Carolina native has been on the verge since his 2011 debut, and though Forest Hills Drive was a step up, he still hasn’t broken through. It’s possible that his fourth release, 4 Your Eyez Only, could put J. Cole over on the evidence on a few pre-release tracks, yet his worldview may still be too insular and parochial to make much impact. Time will tell. (“Winter Schemes”)

Tech N9ne – The Storm

With 32 songs on the Deluxe edition, and only one skit in the bunch, Aaron Dontez Yates aka Tech N9ne shoots a big wad on his seventeenth record. Some of its hits the bullseye; some of it wobbles and lands; some of it misses and congeals in a sticky pile. (“Get Off Me feat. Problem & Darrein Safron”)

Dec. 99thDecember 99th

Alt-hip hop debut from Mos Def and Ferrari Sheppard that rests just to the left of the mainstream. (“Local Time”)

Post Malone – Stoney

Singer-wrapper Austin Richard Post’s studio debut is equal parts hip-hop, rock, and whatever else strikes his fancy. It’s of the moment, for sure, with hints of weird experiments to follow. As much as I enjoy this, I’m really looking forward to those. (“Go Flex”)

Måns Zelmerlöw – Chameleon

This Swedish singer does what all great Swedes have done since ABBA: makes unapologetic and vastly insignificant pop music. (“Glorious”)

Various Artists – La La Land (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Award show queens take note: the race for best song will be a showdown between Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Moana songs and these from the Ryan GoslingEmma Stone throwback musical. With all due respect to the Hamilton auteur, our heart belongs to those beautiful Crazy Stupid Love kids. (“City of Stars”)

Old Gray – Slow Burn

Super short sophomore effort from New Hampshire screamo outfit. (“Everything Is in Your Hands”)

Future PEERS – Future PEERS

Toronto quartet lived in L.A. for five months and turned into this jumpy alt-rock outfit. Fans of Future Islands and The Strokes take note. (“Craft”)

Various Artists – SING (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Whether the movie is a big animated turd or not makes no difference, because the soundtrack is inspired. Come on: cute animals singing pop tunes? You know you’re going to love it! (“Faith feat. Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande)


Neil Young – Peace Trail

In a year unprecedented for the deaths of rock legends, it’s a tonic that this guy is still alive and kicking. Who can tell at this point if his 37th album is a keeper or not? But let’s give him this: he does whatever the hell he wants regardless of commercial fortune. He’s a killer live performer that slayed the audience at this year’s Desert Trip festival, basically stealing the festival from The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and other legends. And he’s more passionate at 71 than any college-age performer or general human being you’d care to mention. About the earth, mostly, which goes back to 1970’s After the Gold Rush or before, when he was raging against the systematic destruction of nature when global warming or climate change wasn’t even a phrase. He was right then; he’s tragically right now. And he’s still warning us all of our ignorance. Bless him for his vision, his endless cache of melodies, and his tenacity. Oh, and for this fantastic late career record which will ultimately end up in his personal best Top 10 when all is said and done. (“Peace Trail,” “Show Me”)