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Hip Hop

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Best Bay Area Songs 2016

Written by Guest Editor: Stefan Aronsen of SF Intercom and Balanced Breakfast Industry Meetup

As an avid concert-goer and music promoter, I listen to a lot of music from Bay Area bands. However, I don't find myself listening to very many albums! I realize my being a music enthusiast that doesn't listen to albums might be considered a contradiction. Shouldn't a promoter of bands also promote full albums? The problem is, most fans don't listen to full albums, why should I be any different? Thus, instead of promoting people to listen to music in a way that they are uncomfortable with, I am choosing to promote a system that works.

Full albums can be intimidating for bands to produce. I regularly advocate that bands release singles instead of waiting to release music until they have enough songs to fill an album. The following is a playlist from 10 bands that released awesome music in 2016.

Fantastic Negrito - In The Pines
Many people discovered Xavier Dphrepaulezz and his band Fantastic Negrito when he submitted his song Lost in A Crowd to NPR’s Tiny Desk Competition in 2015 and won. However, my first introduction to him was as a guest speaker at Creative Mornings. The way he talked about his life, his songs and his goals made me want to listen to his music. While Xavier has had his roadblocks in the past, it seems there is no stopping him now.

CON BRIO - Paradise
I hadn’t heard Ziek McCarter’s band Con Brio before I saw them live at the North Beach Festival in 2014. I was blocks away when I first heard the exciting sounds of his band. As I got closer I was drawn in by his energetic performance. Did you know he does flips on stage? I didn’t until I heard him speak at SF Music Expo about how he originally joined Con Brio. With this new found knowledge I can’t wait to see them live again.

HEARTWATCH - Never Let You Go
How long have you been listening to Claire George’s band HEARTWATCH? Perhaps you were a fan when they were called The Tropics? Either way … you know them now … so you must be aware of their exciting sound. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform live at BottleRock, The Independent and Claire solo at OB Music & Art Festival. Never heard of HEARTWATCH? Listen now and find their next show near you.

The Y Axes - Umbra
Do you love science, video games and nerdiness all wrapped up and delivered in an indie space rock style? Hopefully the answer is yes. If so, check out the high energy vocals of Alexi Belchere and her band The Y Axes. Since they formed in 2011, the band has come a long way in finding their sound and look. I was first introduced to the band in 2013 at a Balanced Breakfast meetup. The band’s guitarist Devin Nelson showed me a picture of his band, since then half of the faces in that picture have changed. With Devin and Alexi changing their bandmates they also created a more mature sound.

Kendra McKinley - Fine As A Vine
When Kendra arrived in San Francisco, a friend suggested she check out Balanced Breakfast. She quickly made many friends, played shows and recruited band mates. She managed to take her solo looped sound and progressed it to a full sound. She sounds amazing on the stage at The FIllmore or in the woods at DIO Fest.

Down and Outlaws - Lay Me Down
I’ve seen Peter Danzig and his band Down and Outlaws at a lot of theirs shows in San Francisco. I got their band patch at their show at Noise Pop 2016. I wear it proudly on my every day sweater. Though I’ve seen them plenty of times in San Francisco, my favorite experience is still spending time with them at SxSW 2016.

Panic is Perfect - Turn Back Into Stars
Managed by Guerilla Management, the same company that works with Con Brio, Mike Hoffman and his band have finally made it to the festival circuit. For many bands being selected to play major festivals like SxSW, Live 105 BFD Festival, and BottleRock is a major goal and a sign of success. Get ready for some more exciting shows from Panic is Perfect in 2017.

Dangermaker - I Won't Let You Down
I love spending time with the members of SF band Dangermaker. It doesn’t matter if it’s an intimate conversation at Mutiny Radio with lead singer Adam Brookes or being at a live show watching bass player Neko Fuzzmonk’s hair blow in the wind like a supermodel.

Battlehooch - EVERYDAY
If you haven’t met a member of Battlehooch, you must not like local music. With 6+ members in the band, they are larger than most Bay Area bands. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the members of a band, thus my friends would often joke that they were in Battlehooch. Would you be able to know if they were telling the truth?

Abbot Kinney - It's the Middle of the Night
If you’ve been to LA you might know the landmark in Venice, California called Abbot Kinney Blvd. Hailing from Los Angeles, lead singer Jared Swanson has brought more than just a landmark name, he has also shared a lot of his industry knowledge with our San Francisco friends. Over the years a lot of bands have relocated from SF to LA. Abbot Kinney is a reminder to local bands that we have a scene and you can be discovered and experience a lot of success here in the Bay Area.

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Mood Music: Maze Koroma - "Even Though I Can't Keep Up With You"

Maze Koroma has been on our radar for years. Assuming you haven't been sleeping on the young rapper's talents, he's likely on all of your radars, too. The EYRST and Renaissance Coalition lyricist has recently translated what he's seen in pop culture and the digital age into a triad of hip hop and electropop based projects that could soundtrack the movie on millennial life. 

He'll be playing some of his conceptually appealing extended plays, including the recent TrackList EP, tonight during this month's installation of Mic Check. St. Johns/Chi-town rap vet Vinnie Dewayne is also playing the monthly hip hop showcase thrown by McMenamins, StarChile, WE 96.3, Pabst Blue Ribbon & XRAY FM  at the White Eagle Saloon

Tickets are $7 and the show starts in just a few hours at 9pm, so come get your much needed monthly dose of hip hop.

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Aaron Abernathy serves up soulful R&B on new album "Monologues"

Aaron Abernathy could be the future of R&B. With soulful vocals, angular synths and soaring guitar leads that could have been snatched straight from a Prince album, the DC-based artist's latest album, Monologues, is a a funky R&B album that you don't want to skip over. The DC-based artist sets his compelling instrumentals against poignant, smart lyricism, yeilding songs that seem to honor past R&B sounds, but have their eyes set to the future. Check out Aaron Abernathy streaming below.-Olivia Sisinni 

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Aminé Puts Portland Hip Hop on the National Map

*photo courtesy We Out Here Magazine

For the longest time, Portland has obviously been either a barren land for hip hop, rap and r&b, or one where the few bursts we see go fairly unacknowledged or get shut down. Despite a whatever Buzzfeed listicle or Google search turning up repetitive results, our town is known on a national level more for its propensity for indie and less for its abundance of lyrical bars. While acts like Cool Nutz and Illmaculate will forever be beloved household names in the PNW, Aminé has rode the radio waves into the cars of people across the country.

Aminé has had a cult internet following for a minute but his name started massively popping up about a year ago, boasting the flurry of Ethiopian culture, hip hop and electronic found on his two mixtapes. The Benson High School graduate need not prove himself more, as the mad catchy chart climber "Caroline" has been evidence enough.

Whether the muse for "Caroline" will be present or not is unknown, but Aminé will be taking the stage at the Roseland (originally scheduled for the Hawthorne Theatre and Wonder Ballroom) tomorrow. Tickets to the all ages show are sold out so if you weren't able to snag one, you can blast Aminé tracks on his Soundcloud for your own at-home concert experience.

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New Music Video: "May 7th" (Feat. Moor Mother) - NAH

The new video for NAH's "May 7th" pulses with a horror-movie urgency, as the track's eerie soundscape is effectively complemented by the gritty black & white backdrop. Directed by Gabe Coffey and NAH, the single features fellow rising experimental Philly artist Moor Mother, and can be found on his rad new LP Michael. The prolific sound sculptor has also wrapped up this 2016 with three more releases in Untitled Works 2016, Enduring, and Garbage Crap so you have plenty to dig into this holiday weekend! (Photo by Phil Rudich)

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