Rob Knepper


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Daily Hype Indie

Ride On (EP) – Cydeways

May 17, 2016

Ride On (EP) - Cydeways

Free Download | Ride On (EP) - Cydeways

With summer in full swing, many of you might be on the search for new reggae bands to put on the playlist. Cydeways is a reggae trio based in Santa Barbara with East Coast roots, and their newest EP “Ride On” came just in time for the warmer months.

Compared to their previous releases, “Ride On” demonstrates a significant growth in the quality of their writing, performance, delivery, and mixing. As far as reggae music goes, the tracks are well orchestrated and far from formulaic. Clean guitar and horn parts occupy the mid-range, funky bass lines sit in the pocket, and (what sounds like) live tracked drums carry the rhythm. Also, I’ve noticed that many independent bands cut of this cloth seem to have lazy lead vocals, but I was very impressed with how good of a voice their lead singer, Dustin Parks, has.

If you’re looking for a warm down tempo soundtrack to your day, throw on this EP, roll down your windows, and let the good vibes roll. And as always, if you like what you hear be sure to keep up with Cydeways on Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter to show some support and be the first to cop their latest drops.

Daily Hype Hip-Hop Indie

Sweet Talk – ACADEMY & Quinn XCII

April 6, 2016

Sweet Talk - ACADEMY & Quinn XCII
Free Download | Sweet Talk - ACADEMY & Quinn XCII

Between the tribal drum pattern, the bouncy marimba lead line, and the melodic hip-hop vocals of ACADEMY’s newest collaboration with Quinn XCII produced by AM.PM., its’ hard to put a finger on what would be a good comparison – but I’ve landed on describing it as a blend of Kygo, Vacationer, Aer and Chance the Rapper (sorry Quinn, I know you get that one a lot).

Full disclosure, I was the producer on this track, so obviously I’m going to be excited about its release. But bias aside, it was awesome to see a larger team of people work on a song together, each focused solely on what they do best. All in all there were 6 total people involved in this production, whereas the typical indie SoundCloud track is often limited to one or two people on the team. Quinn’s been a significant figure in the indie-pop/hip-hop realm, teaming up with Ayokay on two EPs in a row now (my favorite single from him thus far has been Full Circle). So having this indie-pop prodigy join up with two “summer-rap” artists was the right call.

“Sweet Talk” is the second installment of ACADEMY’s series of singles and should be on constant rotation for anyone gearing up for summer. They’re set to release their third full project, “The Future Isn’t What it Used to Be” sometime this summer, only a year after their second project, “The Beat Generation”. Follow ACADEMY, Quinn XCII, and AM.PM. on SoundCloud to stay tuned for future tracks similar to this one.

Daily Hype Indie

PCB – Pink Slip & Rahn Harper

March 27, 2016

PCB - Pink Slip & Rahn Harper

Free Download | PCB - Pink Slip & Rahn Harper

Racking up 100k streams in only two weeks, the odds are good that you’ve already heard this beachy banger from Pink Slip and Rahn Harper — but for those of you that haven’t, let’s change that. Pink Slip is a beat-prodigy that’s dropped numerous trap/future bangers at only 19 years old, while Rahn Harper is a solid vocalist coming out of Chicago who blends R&B and hip-hop in his writing – so them linking up was bound to produce something sick.

This single has a killer mix of summer vibes in Pink Slip’s typical future trap production, mixing synth bass and pads with the warm Rhodes progression that carries the melody. And since he has a substantial background in drums and percussion, intricate drum parts are always a notable element in his work. Over the beat, Rahn hits that popular blend of hip-hop flow and soulful singing, along with an admittedly catchy hook about the infamous spring break spot in Florida. In short, this track bangs. Be sure to follow Pink Slip and Rahn on SoundCloud to catch more individual releases. And when you check out the track, wait for the drop.

Daily Hype Hip-Hop Indie

Panoramic – ACADEMY & Jackson Breit

March 24, 2016

Panoramic - ACADEMY & Jackson Breit

Free Download | Panoramic - ACADEMY & Jackson Breit

Last week, ACADEMY kicked off their springtime delivery of summer anthems with their first single of the year, “Panoramic”. In 2015, ACADEMY released a series of singles back to back leading up to their previous EP, The Beat Generation, in which they substantially stepped up their production and overall aesthetic to a sound that really nailed the reggae rap style. This year, they’re taking it a step further, with a bigger team of producers and several features, including Jackson Breit on this single.

The track kicks off with a trumpet lead reminiscent of 70s Motown laid over a big pseudo-tribal pop beat. Evan raps his verse, John sings the pre-chorus, and then they join together in a loud hook anthem proclaiming, “when I die I want a panoramic view.” This hook actually reminded me of MGMT’s earlier famous tracks from our high school years, which was an awesome style to blend into the surf-rap vocals preceding it. Jackson Breit keeps the good vibes high through verse two with his signature blend of singing and rapping – if you dig the small glimpse of his style you get here, check out his other classics like Sunny Side or Looking Better.

Rumor has it that ACADEMY is set to drop another collab with Quinn XCII sometime in the coming weeks, a track that carries the same tribal summer vibes as this first single. Throw ACADEMY a follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to keep up with the duo as they go on a North East tour in the coming month with Breit as well as William Bolton – and be sure to catch a show if you’re in the area.

Spring Tour Dates:

3.18 San Diego, CA

4.9 Arizona TBA

4.19 New York, NY

4.20 Philadephia, PA

4.21 Boston, MA

4.23 Portsmouth, NH

Daily Hype Indie Mixtapes

Solidus – Quinn Lewis (EP)

March 4, 2016

Solidus - Quinn Lewis (EP)

FREE DOWNLOAD | QUINN LEWIS - SOLIDUS EP

We’ve written about the Australian-native, Nashville-based alternative artist Quinn Lewis a few times before, but at the end of last year he dropped his first EP and it is well worth paying attention to. Overall, the sound is coastal, ambient pop that is slightly reminiscent of John Mayer’s early days but with electronic production and occasional trap/808 drum samples.

The first track, “Raining Today”, is carried by a simplistic drum loop with chill guitar licks and some marimba accents. The second track, “On N’ Off”, is probably the EP’s highest energy track, combining acoustic guitar and piano with what sound like trap/808 drum samples. The last two tracks, “Slow it Down” & “Gone,” feature female vocalist Ashley Leone adding verses and killer harmonies to these more melancholy tracks.

Quinn is a great vocalist, but what’s even more impressive is that these tracks are also pre-dominantly self produced (with the help of Noah Hunt). Quinn also recently released a badass live music video with Amplify Entertainment Group to an older single which you should check out here . Be sure to keep up with him on SoundCloud, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for future releases.

Daily Hype Hip-Hop

Agent-of-Shag – WONDR (Music Video)

March 3, 2016

Agent-of-Shag - WONDR (Music Video)

Free Download | AGENT OF SHAG - WONDR

We’ve written about one of these Nashville rappers before with the single off his solo mixtape and the EDM collab I did with him this summer, but now Ryan James is officially joining forces with Nick Morris and Mike Lohmeier collectively WONDR. They hit the scene hard with Roses last week, an announcement track for their debut single “Agent-of-Shag”.

Agent-of-Shag is an infectious track with an even more entertaining music video. The track is both a banger and groovy, with an Austin Powers theme running through it that would seem odd in a hip-hop track but is actually incredibly hilarious. Their verses don’t have a single lazy moment, keeping the track at full energy as they rap about making sick tunes, partying, and seducing women. Directed by Edgar Evan, the video work is also anything but boring – the primary shots take place in a roller rink, hot tub, and party bus, with what seem to be about 60 different lavish disco-themed costumes. The boys went all out on this one.

If you like what you hear, be sure to check out the other tracks on their SoundCloud and keep up with them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for future releases (I heard a rumor that a debut mixtape is in the works – keep an eye out for that).

Daily Hype Hip-Hop

Best Man Speech – Dylan Owen + Tour Announcement

February 29, 2016

Best Man Speech - Dylan Owen + Tour Announcement

Free Download | Best Man Speech - Dylan Owen

Dylan Owen is a one of a kind artist with paralyzing levels of brilliance and potential to his work. Most of hip-hop seems to promote the illusion that expensive alcohols, pretentious venues and promiscuous habits are the most important elements in life. Dylan’s approach, however, focuses on what actually matters – fighting depression, appreciating the mundane in our day-to-day experiences, and loving those around you in legitimate, unsexy ways.

I’ve been following Dylan ever since he dropped the Sheeps, Beats, and Jeeps freestyle back when I was in high school. Shortly after, he put out the Keep Your Friends Close EP, in which he showed us his skillful lyricism over semi-acoustic beats and established his trademark of poetic story telling and unapologetic honesty. I honestly didn’t think his music could get any better after KYFC.

He was then quiet for several years (aside from another freestyle, a single, and a remix) until this past summer with the release of “There’s More to Life”, his debut album that far surpassed his EPs. Make time to listen to this album from start to finish, because it is a breath of fresh air. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be “The Best Fears of Our Lives”, a track that confronts the anxieties sinking in after our years of innocence fade.

The storyline he’s shared through this latest album continues in “Best Man Speech,” the single he dropped today that’s devoted to his older brother. The instrumental’s slightly melancholic personality embodies the duality of the memories you share with your brother, some blissful and some difficult. In catching up with Dylan, he told me: “[my brother] was my role model growing up and I wanted to release this one as a personal tribute to him and how he helped to get me where I am now with music.”

Dylan is now bringing his journey on the road with his first solo tour, hitting several major northern cities in the coming month. Check the dates below and be sure to catch one of these shows if you’re nearby:

March 1    –    Boston, MA (Middle East Upstairs)

March 12  –    Philadelphia, PA (Tralfamadore)

March 24  –    New York, NY (Nuyorican Poets Café)

April 1       –    Burlington, VT (Monkey House)

For future releases and shows, keep up with Dylan Owen on SoundCloud, Twitter, and Facebook.

“My grandfather said this country beat a Great Depression, and so can you.” –Dylan Owen

Daily Hype Hip-Hop

Never Again – Sound Proof (Prod. Electricks)

February 19, 2016

Never Again - Sound Proof (Prod. Electricks)

Free Download | *SOUND_PROOF_-_NEVER_AGAIN*

The Nashville-based R&B trio Sound Proof recently appeared on the scene with their live mash-up cover video, and only a few weeks later have dropped their first single, “Never Again”.

With the aid of Nashville producer Adam Stecker,Sound Proof combines key elements from R&B, hip-hop, and trap with the harmonies of an a’capella group. The production is reminiscent of many chiller G-Eazy tracks, featuring deep percussion and warm synths with plenty of high frequencies cut out to make room for the vocals. Over Stecker’s beat, the three vocalists of Sound Proof – Chris Lee, Ethan Jones, and Matthew Mahfood – alternate taking the lead through the verses and hooks, each complimenting the other with crisp harmonies emphasizing certain lines. In the second verse, Ethan sing-raps several bars, a signature sound of this decade’s hip-hop scene.

Overall, the track takes a new twist on classic R&B vibes and it’s well worth checking out. Though this group has only been together for a handful of months, it’s clear that their chemistry and style are going to make waves in the mainstream scene. What more, I know some of these fellas personally and can guarantee that their impeccable work ethic, contagious energy and all around humility are going to take them to great places.

Be sure to keep up with Sound Proof on Facebook, Soundcloud, and Instagram as they continue to put out more great tracks.

Daily Hype Electronic Hip-Hop

Wavy – Dom Hurley & CVM

February 17, 2016

Wavy - Dom Hurley & CVM

Free Download | *DOM x CAMM - WAVY*

The guys over at Amplify Entertainment Group have been using their AV talents to make awesome live music videos of younger Nashville artists for almost two years now. These acts are often acoustic acts, however, so we became intrigued when we heard they were releasing a hip-hop Single Session with Belmont students Cam Bryant (CAMM) and Dom Hurley (DOM). “Wavy” is a collab these two released over the summer, but the video brings the personalities to life while merging live instruments and vocals with the produced midi elements. At the core of the track is Dom’s melodic piano progression and Cam’s natural-flowing clever lyrics. Supporting these elements is what sounds like a pitch bended vocal sample, which adds some tasteful ambience to the track. The best part about the live video, compared to the original, is the horn section that enters during the drop. Over this drop, DOM plays around on an 8-bit lead while a saw pad supports the horns. CAMM comes back in and slays it again on verse two, which builds to a pretty hyped ending verse.

Keep your eye on both of these young artists, as they’ve already both put out lots of awesome work and I’m sure that there are many great releases in the future as well. In fact “Higher Learning”, a full mixtape from CAMM, is set to release sometime in the coming semester. Be sure to keep up with CAMM on Soundcloud, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to hear about upcoming releases, and do the same for DOM (Soundcloud, Insta, Twitter).

Daily Hype Electronic Indie

Don’t Look Back – Ben Phipps (ft. ASHE)

January 17, 2016

Don't Look Back - Ben Phipps (ft. ASHE)
Free Download | Don't Look Back - Ben Phipps ft. ASHE

What amazes me most about Ben and Ashlyn’s collaboration is the originality amidst its simplicity. This down-tempo single is reminiscent of their first deep house release together, which charted on HypeMachine. Many producers nowadays seem to overcrowd the beat with lots of flashy melodies and synths, but Phipps tends to stick to a warm Rhodes piano, minimalist worldly percussion, and a plucked bass line that dances in and out of the kick’s steady rhythm.

Ben Phipps’s production style proves that quality of instrumentation supersedes the quantity of instruments or melodies. Additionally, minimalizing the beat lets the vocals cut through the mix effortlessly. Nashville singer ASHE’s chill airy voice carries the lead melody above the low-key beat, and unlike many deep house singles we hear these days, the lyrics are actually captivating. Her degree from Berklee College of Music is clearly paying off. Despite an entire ocean separating Sweden and America, these two seem to have found a notable chemistry working with each other – we look forward to hearing more of this ambient vibe they’ve settled in to. They’ve offered a free download, but support on iTunes or Spotify if you’re a true fan. Be sure to keep up with Ben Phipps on Soundcloud, and do the same for ASHE while you’re at it.