An Evening With: QUADRON

Though only passing through town, Quadron is most definitely here to stay. If you still aren’t yet familiar, the band is made of two essential ingredients – Robin Hannibal, the producer-extraordinaire & melodic-heaven-sent vocalist Coco O – both hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark. The Danish pair offer a unique brand of music, one they like calling ‘electro-soul’. It’s actually not difficult to notice their appeal. Coming off their sophomore LP release of Avalanche, they are currently touring around America and Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver, BC) was lucky enough to be along that pathway.

First things first. Nina Mendoza on the decks dropping some tasteful soul, successfully warming up the crowd while the band sets up.

And there she was. The truth that front-woman Coco O. ‘had quite a voice’ was surely not in question Wednesday night, as the crowd went dead silent, speaking her first couple words on the mic. Avalanche’s “LFT” was the opening song of choice for the evening. This was an all-around showcase for Coco’s vocal elasticity. Displaying Adele-esque contralto lows, Amel Larrieux-type highs & maintaining a sultry-effortlessness reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, albeit on a playful party-starter for the ladies. The night continued on that same note, dropping more irresistible grooves, seemingly their theme for the new album.

Coco was engaging the crowd with ease. No script, no choreo.

At my very first listen, it was undoubtedly the female half of the group, who initially caught my ear’s attention. If you’ve ever heard her take

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on the classic Michael Jackson track “Baby Be Mine”, I think I can speak on behalf of both of us that it was possibly the best cover we’ve ever heard of any song. I mean, it’s not that often you’d come across an MJ cover and actually love it as much as its original. Not only did she pay it due-justice, but successfully flipped it from boogie to ballad. And you bet this one was a hundred times more magnificent live. Coco’s foreseeable future for one, is definitely looking good, as she’s already rubbed elbows with some big name artists in studio this past year.

Robin and Coco discovered their union through each other’s heritage. “QUADRON” – according to the Danish culture, is used to describe a person who is exactly 1/4 African – a rarity in their part of the world.

But even if it boils down to the frontwoman for most of their fans, you sure cannot count out Robin Hannibal and his marvelous production. For instance, if you listen to their 2nd single “Better Off”, you’d notice this isn’t your ordinary love ballad – or at least it isn’t structured like one. His arrangements prove that Hannibal doesn’t like to follow the format – which might just explain my addiction.

And sometimes, you might catch band members enjoying themselves..the most!

Now give the drummer some.

Kendrick’s lone feature on the album was simply ‘payback’ to what he ‘borrowed’ from when Quadron were previously known as part of the “Boom Clap Bachelors”. More so payback to Robin Hannibal. You’ve obviously heard Kendrick’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” off his debut album right? So now look up “Tyden Flyver” by the Boom clap Bachelors and you just might notice something. If anything though, to see two very deserving soul and rap artists aide the success of each other’s releases like that is a wonderful thing.

Coming to a close? Don’t let my high come down. Encore.


The Review | J. Cole: Born Sinner LP

Pushing your album’s release date one week forward, to go head to head with Kanye West is a bold and risky move by Jermaine Cole. But when you really think about, and begin to dissect the reasoning behind it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Cole is not yet on the same level as a Kanye West (although his ego may be inching closer to him), but coming out the same day gets the people putting him in the same conversation as one of the biggest and most innovative artists, not just in rap but in music period. Which means more exposure and hype behind the release of Cole’s second solo album, Born Sinner. The first taste off Born Sinner was from the Miguel assisted single ‘Power Trip’. I’ll admit I was sleeping on this track at first until I saw the video. Now

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I’m at a point where this could make my top 5 tracks of the year list. Jermaine really did his thing on this record, specifically on the superbly layered production. These are the type of beats I know and expect J. Cole to produce and you can never really go wrong nowadays with Miguel singing on the hook. Lest we forget, Miguel first stepped into the universal spotlight via J. Cole’s very first debut single, “All I Want Is You”. Which seems like light years ago. Another highlight to me is the Kendrick Lamar/A Tribe Called Quest assisted cut ‘Forbidden Fruit’. If you’re going to use that specific Tribe/Ronnie Foster sample (Electric Relaxation/Mystic Brew), then you better murk it and overall Jermaine delivers some of his best verses on the record. Kendrick is only featured on the hook but it makes me wonder if Cole decided on not letting Kendrick spit so he wouldn’t get shadowed on his own track, a la ‘Renegade’ style with Roc-Nation head honcho Jay-Z and some rapper named Eminem. Again, it’s Kendrick we’re talking about, so I’m not mad at Cole for taking both slots. The track ‘Runaway’ is another stand out for me as Cole gets personal and goes in depth into the pros and cons of having a relationship while being a rap star. Something that relates back to the good/evil, tug of war theme of the LP.

Cole always seems at his finest and most creative when in a space of pressure-less, free-flowing content.

Backtrack to the production for a second, I really wish the rest of the album was on the same level as the single ‘Power Trip’. I mean, I know J. Cole is about his lyrics but to me, the production has to hit equally as hard as the words. And if you’re producing the majority of your record, I would think you would try to supply yourself with more upper-echelon instrumentals OR whittle down your 16-song tracklist. For example, the hard-hitting Hii-Power’d beat he produced for Kendrick. Another note is that the track ‘Cole Summer’, which was released on the Your’s Truly Pt. 2 project could have fit perfectly on Born Sinner. It’s too bad he couldn’t clear the classic Lauryn Hill sample but oh well. In fact, Truly Yours parts 1 and 2, the two mixtapes that served as a prelude to Born Sinner were formidable projects in and of themselves. Cole always seems at his finest and most creative when in a space of pressure-less, free-flowing content. Prior to the release of the album, there was alot of hype surrounding the track ‘Let Nas Down’. On the record, Cole tells the story of how Chicago producer and Kanye West mentor, No I.D. gave him a call after the release of the single ‘Work Out’ and goes on to tell him how the one and only Nas was let down by the lyrical simplicity of the song. Which is ironic because ‘Work Out’ happens to be Cole’s most commercially successful single. What makes this a more signifacant moment in rap history is that Nas released a response to this record entitled ‘Made Nas Proud’, where the legend gives the young MC praise for his artistry and body of work. Mutual respect from an elder statesman and a young prodigy can be a rarity at times, but it’s not hard to see how both of these artists can mirror each other in some regards. Altogether, I’m not mad at this album at all, because it’s better than good. And kudos to the young sophomore for amassing more record sales for Born Sinner to date than its release date rival in Yeezus. I can almost appreciate that Cole leaves himself this gap in where he has clear cut room for improvement on any subsequent projects. Feels like he’s doing a reverse-Illmatic to his career, where fans are left anticipating a certified “5-mic” classic album from the young rapper/producer. Credit is due in that regard when you think of all the factors J. Cole has to consider – the trials and tribulations of fully producing your own record seems like more than half the battle in putting out a studio album. There is a certain growth you can hear from the Sideline Story Jermaine and the Born Sinner Jermaine. The rhymes are more thorough and complex and the beats are solid enough to get the job done. As a full length project, Born Sinner will definitely please his core fans and show the rest of the world why Jay-Z signed him and why Nas won’t be let down this time around.  






An Evening with: Rakim Allah

And there he appeared…straight out of a myth, the god – Rakim. A few nights ago we witnessed a piece of hip hop’s cornerstone take the Fortune Sound stage in Vancouver. Adorned in the adopted garb of urban New Yorkers in the 90s, Ra came on in his oversized Carhartt outfit – black hoodie, black toque, black jeans, black shirt, black leather bomber and what else but Timbs as the cypher completer. In his heyday you might’ve seen Ra sporting something more flashy like his signature giant gold chain, but times have shifted just a little bit. Besides the gold links, his bars, charisma and delivery of the G.L.O.A.T. remain as sharp as ever.

Follow us into TheHOP


Track Review: Joey Bada$$ – Unorthodox (Prod. by DJ Premier)

I just want to take a little time and acknowledge the significance and magnitude of this DJ Premier produced cut by 18 year old MC, Joey Bada$$. I’m all about the essence of this rap shit and anytime something historically important happens, we as heads have to take note and recognize what is really going on. FULL STORY


Thoughts on the LP | Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, m.A.A.d City

This is it folks, Dr. Dre has returned to his happy place. If you have been outside of the eternal loop that is Aftermath Music’s tether pole in the music industry, then you may not have noticed that since Chronic 2001 in 1999, the good Doctor has been trying to follow-up that mammoth of an album with his third and final magnum opus, Detox. However, he did run into an unfortunate series of events that has delayed its progress: Eminem hitting rock bottom in the mid-2000s, 50 Cent’s reputation getting obliterated by The Game, The Game turning into an obsessive, name-dropping, sycophant (see Doctor’s Advocate, an album that had zero executive production by Dre), protégé Bishop Lamont failing to create any ounce of buzz on radio, other West Coast brethren (Daz, Kurupt, Hitman…) falling into the abyss of obscurity, the untimely death of the greatest crooner in the game, Nate Dogg and of course, we cannot forget Snoop Dogg’s utter and total exploitation of himself in the commercial pop realm.



An Evening With: Snoop Dogg At The Commodore Ballroom

Not much can be said about Snoop Dogg that’s not already known. At 20 years in the music industry, he’s a living legend that has been able to stay relevant year after year and decade after decade. You can see the large influence he’s had in hip-hop in artists like Dom Kennedy, A$AP Rocky, Nipsey Hussle, Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa just to name a few. From his classic cadence & flow, to his laid back style, to his weed consumption, Snoop showed America and the whole world what it was to be ‘cool.’

He went from being a drug dealer in Long Beach who was charged with murder to a world-wide known rap star, coaching youth football leagues and baking cookies with Martha Stewart. I don’t know how much cooler you can get than that. Myself and a few other hundred people in attendance were able to witness the Bigg Boss Dogg in action first hand at the Commodore Ballroom.



Track Review: Pusha T ft. Kanye West – New God Flow

First of all let us state the obvious, this track is on some serious rap shit. It wasn’t made for the clubs or the dance floors like Mercy. It’s more for perhaps doing crimes like a robbery or chopping up bricks of blow to wrap up and serve the streets (figuratively speaking that is). With all the coke references in the song, it makes me think these guys were doing bumps at Yeezy’s house, then got so high they achieved that champion “New God Flow.” At least that’s what it sounds like. I could be wrong though.


Track Review: Kendrick Lamar – The Recipe

When news broke out that Kendrick Lamar would be releasing the official single from his Aftermath Records debut on April 2nd, I knew this wasn’t just going to be regular song. Something historical was happening…



EP Review | Hodgy Beats: Untitled

The latest release from the OFWGKTA crew comes from MellowHype frontman, Hodgy Beats. The short but effective 22-minute EP features some superb production from the likes of Juicy J, The Alchemist, Flying Lotus and Thelonious Monk. At first, looking at the unorthodox front cover, I really didn’t know what to expect from the project but once I played it through, I was pleasantly surprised.