Strangely Arousing – Rain

By 44faced on Aug 10, 2020 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

“Rain” is the first single off Strangely Arousing’s upcoming EP. It is a unique blend of reggae/dub and hip-hop that can only be described as the love child of a threesome between RHCP, Sticky Fingers, and Fat Freddys Dub, and it has a message about being selfless, and the progression into socialism to ensure everyone has enough.

Lush production with a wide range of depth, fat punching kicks, rock-like snares and shimmering cymbals, as well as deep and full piano with eerie synth and electronic work, subtle trombone and trumpet licks smoothing in-and-out, and vocals that span wide like the instruments blending in a middle point between reggae and hip hop emceeing, Strangely Arousing display instrumental, vocal, production, and engineering prowess as they musically communicate a high unified energy through their careful attention to detail and ability to build on a masterful flow.

About Strangely Arousing: Strangely Arousing is a five-piece progressive reggae/ska band from Aotearoa, New Zealand, effortlessly blending other genres and styles of music to create their own unique sound, laced with brass, synth, dub, and guitar. Strangely Arousing straddles the line between the bizarre you know you love and and the weird you don’t know you love yet like old pros. Whether you come to marinate in dubs and bass, or simply to melt into a puddle on the floor, Strangely Arousing offer a new wave of music inspired by New Zealand’s legendary hip-hop and reggae dub forefathers.

Stream Strangely Arousing – “Rain” on Spotify:

Optimus – Who Am I

By 44faced on Aug 02, 2020 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

Who Am I is an album by Optimus, which expresses what he has been through in the past five years. It also gives a vision, with every track, of how he lived his live up until now. Optimus describes himself as an artist by being driven, and that he strives forward for his kids, showing them to never give up on a dream, no matter what your age is.

Who Am I spans 13 tracks, for over 41 minutes, including a short introduction in “Probation” before the album’s title track, “Who Am I,” hits in epic orchestral fashion: strings stabs and choir shouts coupled with hard-smacking boom bap beats underlie Optimus’ lyrical statement track that peels away layer after layer about his life.

Each following track highlights different aspects of Optimus’ being and shoots from different angles of mood and perspective, but it is all held together with a special glue that runs consistent throughout the album: a feeling of perseverance, striving on, and constant motivation.

The instrumental counterparts of orchestral elements add a characteristic bigness to Optimus’ sound that provide a perfect mood accompaniment to the driving energy that Optimus brings to the rap world.

Two out of the 13 tracks, “King of Rap” and “Eating Good,” include features by Travis Gero, who adds a different flavor into the mix, albeit strengthening the general atmosphere of confidence that builds throughout the album.

Optimus’ Who Am I is an album to put on in the morning to get a boost for the day, to motivate our striving forward to discover our dreams, and to give the energy to push every next harder rep at the gym. Optimus successfully communicates dedication, discipline, hard work and the motivation to progress throughout the album, definitely a solid effort carved in audio that acts to give stamina and tenacity to its listeners.

Stream Optimus – Who Am I on Spotify:


Kevin Toqe – Shadows

By 44faced on Jul 10, 2020 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

Kevin Toqe’s “Shadows” radio edit has all the nuances of a professional production, together with the powerful emotion of an R&B/pop anthem, while also setting off on an experimental tangent in its structural songwriting scope.

A tranquil synth-pad soundscape filling in the mid- and background audio space opens up the scene for a subtle-yet-confident R&B vocal entrance of Kevin Toqe. From an ambient calmness, Toqe drives in a four-to-the-floor kick at around thirty seconds in, and continues building up the energy through additional instrumental and rhythmic layerings at about fifty seconds, dropping into a sparse bridge section at around 1:10 to 1:30, and then climaxing into a short hook after a minute-and-a-half into the song.

After the hook, Toqe once again drops out the beat completely, holding the pace with his continuous vocal outpouring over an ambient sparseness, and the song interplays between verses, bridges, and two more hooks that further express the climactic energy from its preceding sparse sections.

Toqe successfully weaves together production complexities into a simplistic vibe that any person could vibe to.

In terms of the song’s content, Kevin Toqe explains: “Shadows is a calling. It’s about being comfortable with obscurity and comfortable with being known. It’s learning to trust God’s protection in a world that can feel like a jungle of cynicism and fear. Living in His shadows is a place of protection and a place to thrive.”

About Kevin Toqe

With his unique and soulful blend of folk-R&B, Kevin weaves lyrics into a solid groove with depth and texture. He’s a singer, songwriter, and producer who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kevin, who is 50% Albanian and 100% Alopecian, now resides on the Central Coast of California with his spicy wife and two children.

Stream Kevin Toqe – “Shadows” (radio version, and music video of “Shadows At 25th Street”):

Salvatore De Nardo – Tempo

By 44faced on Jul 08, 2020 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

“Tempo” is the latest single by Salvatore De Nardo, a new German/Italian singer, songwriter and producer, originally from Naples, Italy, and currently living in Frankfurt, Germany. 

“Tempo” is driven by a passionate piano ostinato and a delayed or echoing rhythmic guitar lick. The song soon reveals Salvatore’s full-yet-subtle, and sweet-yet-manly voice, and then gradually unfolds more and more instrumental layers—delicate cymbal splashes, ethereal synthesized pad strings, and a rising flute—leading into a climactic chorus that adds a bold kick in the drums, and a fuller layering of pads and guitars. The chorus comes after a significant bridge section build-up, after nearly one-and-a-half minutes of the song, successfully guiding the listener into its climax.

After the chorus, “Tempo” continues with additional drive, helped along with more hi-hat, snare and synth pad involvement. If the initial build-up to chorus was a rather long one, the second time around, Salvatore reels in the chorus very quickly after a verse, and then leads out the track.

“Tempo” displays a very careful and subtle treatment of all instruments and voice throughout, both in performance and production. The music video equally is done very tastefully, showing how genuinely and passionately Salvatore performs the voice for the song. In Salvatore’s words, “music is my passion”… and it definitely both sounds and shows.

“Tempo” is a very emotional song that was self-composed, written and produced. The song is about older generations / older people who are neglected in everyday life because they are excluded from society, because people are too old and nobody really cares about the elderly. The song is also about the older people going back to the past every day in their thoughts and thinking back to their memories, because the old people have no choice but to remember the past in order to recharge their batteries and live on.

Stream Salvatore De Nardo – “Tempo”:

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Thom Bullitt – Roses [Album Review]

By 44faced on May 02, 2020 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

Sometimes, music comes along where it feels as if the instruments are strumming away at an inner emotion, and where it feels that the kick and bass are beating the heart, and that the voice penetrates straight through the ears, through the mind and heart, and then send shivers through the entire body.

As much as we try to break down the elements of those songs, they escape us, because there is a more powerful and enveloping emotion that is at play, which lurks behind and beyond the intellect that tries to make sense of it.

This is the situation I’m faced with when approaching Thom Bullitt’s new album Roses.

I don’t want to write down some genre titles, because having it shelved like that in your brain would provide an incorrect context and would do the album no justice. However, common themes to literally any human being, whether living in the outback or in the heart of the urban rat race, conglomerate in Thom Bullitt’s lyrical outpourings: finding ways to deal with life’s problems, seeking motivation to keep moving forward in life, relationships gone bad, and dabbling in a bit of drink and drugs.

The album opens with a solemn and calm “Cutting Roses,” where a lightly distorted guitar establishes a introspective repetitive motif, with embellishing atmospheric tinkles, bends, and sweeps, setting the scene for an edgy kick and 808 and punches straight in the center. “Cutting Roses” bleeds the pain of detachment, alluding to the artist’s reflection on a broken relationship.

The second track, “Angels Cry,” ups the tempo, toning up an epic ballad with a passionate female hook. Bullitt displays his rapping prowess throughout the verses, opting for a tone where he excretes what is on his heart in a raw fashion.

“Back in the Saddle” is the album’s third track, pulling the tempo back, for a “boom boom bap” undertoned anthem instrumental track, with string build-ups to the hook capable of lifting your chest. Together with low piano drones sounding throughout, the lyrics suggest come back and associating with friends, already more aligned with a motivating voice to keep going, but also threaded with statements that suggest the opposite, for instance, in the hook, “I’m coming back from the fire, and I’m burning down.”

“Wasn’t Enough” is a blend of outback and urban, with a mellow acoustic guitar riffing throughout together with piercing 808s, and Thom Bullitt builds on the higher-tempo energy of the instrumental to pour out his feelings of regret, as if the same emotion relates to people in both scenarios.

The last three tracks of the album show “Town Car Muzik II” continues Thom Bullitt’s deluge of feelings through a cultivated rap style over a sentimental sound pallet that leads to explosive full-stringed hook sections. “Bad Motherfucker” is Thom Bullitt’s self-affirmation, doing what rappers have done since its beginnings—finding ways to boost himself up, and pumping the self-esteem. “MMF (Lit)” ends the album on a high note, arguably the album’s most optimistic track, where Thom Bullitt flows verses about how he lives his week between an unexpected male R&B hook that illuminates, and you could say, summarizes, the deeply emotional experience that one is left with after listening through the album.

About Thom Bullitt: Born April 1, 1994 in Houston, Texas, Thomas Rodney Oates, Thom Bullitt was raised not on Hip-Hop, but Rock & Roll, Blues, and Pop. He moved to Oklahoma in 2004 which is when he discovered and fell in love with Hip-Hop. He released his latest EP in September of 2019 titled Roses, which features a more Country Rock influence than his previous endeavors. During his career, he would become one half of the Oklahoma City based group Bacardi Gang, and still carries that mantle today along with his own lifestyle brand ILLNEZZ – accompanied by the catchphrase LIVIN IT. He plans on releasing his next EP, The Cooler King Vol.2, in 2020.

Stream Thom Bullitt Roses on Spotify:

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KF Greatness – Mark of the Beast

By 44faced on Mar 05, 2020 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

KF Greatness, 21-year-old rapper from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, continually fuels his music with a relentless drive and hunger of the come up, and it’s no different with Mark of the Beast

Following the artist for the last few years, I have seen no backing down on his output. He has the formula for success, i.e., determination + discipline + hard work, as well as raw talent and a very natural sound, as if he’s been rapping for dozens of years, and it’s just a matter of time before the opportunity arises and KF Greatness experiences an exponential boom of success.

“Superstar” places his vision of greatness at the front, illustrated clearly in the song’s hook:

“24/7, I’m working hard,
I want to be the next superstar,
niggaz hate me because I’m going far,
these niggaz still trying to up the par”

It acts like a self-affirmation, something every upcoming artist could use, but probably especially much more pertinent when you need to find that self-drive in an environment like Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The second track, “Can’t Sleep,” discusses the struggle of trying to make it in the game. KF Greatness shines his stream-of-consciousness blended storytelling style in the verse conjuring numerous images of his life along the overtone of a yearning to break through to a level where music fills his entire life, including getting paid for it professionally.

“Stupid,” featuring Shotta Gee, is the third track on the release, adding a different perspective to KF Greatness’ striving to the top, where through a discourse about the mistakes and experiences with women, he lays down, in his honest and down-to-earth way, how music remains as a consistent source of inspiration and progress, and no girl can stand in the way of that. It might not be the main message of the song, but just a few words throws this gem out from within the stream: “I’m not that dude who’s paying tuition, I’m stacking the bread, I’m focused instead, and chasing the blues, avoiding the reds.”

“Bigger Picture” opens up the vision KF Greatness sees of living his dream, where basically music and money match to provide for himself and those dear to him. Another affirmation-style track showing how KF Greatness is keeping his dream alive in his music, and it’s waiting to spark aflame in this way.

“Never Lost,” a hip hop ballad with a catchy rap hook:

“I never lost, I only learn to do better,
I got to capitalize on every single letter,
A different breed, but they label me the same,
The same game, but with me, I’m thinking change”

Once again, KF Greatness makes hunger for success his direct theme—”I gotta make it, I gotta succeed there’s no other options”—showing how he’s giving it his all to rise up the rap ladder to success, and with his history of output to date, it’s clear that we’re discussing a real hunger with real direction. “Different Route” explains the different way of life that targeting rap as a career and lifestyle brings about, and how no matter what the surroundings say about that road, KF Greatness maintains his decision, direction and goal to make it up that route.

“Menace” is a unique lyrical banger, with various layers of repetitive rhythmic motifs running across the vocals and throughout the synth, bass and drum parts of the beat. Shotta Gee, the track’s featured artist, continues the motif that KF Greatness establish from the hook through the verse. “Effort” is an image of the future with a dream partner KF Greatness pictures to himself, fitting into the vision of the future that KF Greatness has been establishing throughout his other output.

“Day Ones Remix,” which features MC Money and Deezy Dee, is my favorite track on the release. A mix of chill and epic, with deep reverberated piano layers filling out a sonic tapestry where each rapper adds a different flavor to the track, precisely in the point in the release where some different taste works perfectly. It also arguably has the catchiest hook on the release, “All of my niggaz, those are my day ones, all of my friends, those are the fake ones.”

“Ambition” closes the release with decisive statement from KF Greatness to the rap world about what he plans to do with it: to take the game. There is a purposeful tenaciousness that rides throughout the song, a strong ending to a release that rounds out KF Greatness toward music, his life and making it to the top of the rap game. The more KF Greatness’ years and releases pile on, and seeing an ever-growing hunger build more intensely within, it’s just a matter of time now before some click happens and KF Greatness’ name takes off throughout the rap world.

Stream KF Greatness – Mark of the

Marans – FYGA

By 44faced on Dec 22, 2019 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

Although I don’t understand Italian or French, I understand a unique party vibe when I hear one, and Marans’ “FYGA” is just that. A superimposition of melodic-percussive digital steelpan attacks, chordal piano stabs and occasional orchestral synth hits, mixed with enveloping trumpet licks, weaving tropical a feel upon a four-to-the-floor, full-bodied kick made to shake subwoofers, chests and bootys as it drives the pace throughout the song.

However, all that pulsating and enveloping soundscape serves as an accompaniment to the elegant, soothing and manly voice of Marans, who with a deep-yet-RnB-esque quality, flows and weaves through the musical elements with a blanket that beds the listeners ears and heart.

Starting off in Italian and switching to French, Marans lays out lyrics about a girl he met in Milan, and tells the story of a trip he would have liked to have taken with her. The emotion of opening to the opposite sex with a desire for connection is felt throughout, and the track lives both on the level of partying and dancing, as well as on the level of listening and contemplating. Of course, Italian and French listeners would get the added advantage of the story itself, but even without the language, the musicality lives and breathes from the ears straight to the heart.

Stream Marans – FYGA:


AQUA72 – Smooker feat. Ra-P

By 44faced on Dec 08, 2019 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

AQUA72’s “Smooker” (feat. Ra-P) is a solemn, calm, atmospheric cloud rap masterpiece, with enough reverb echoing snares and samples to turn heads of even the loyalest dub fans. Scratchy record samples merge into a water-wavy backdrop setting the scene for boom-bap-esque hard smacking drums and a melancholic low-range piano ostinato repeating throughout. AQUA72 and Ra-P lay down a smooth array of verses, auto-tuned to perfection, paddling along with the splashy-smacking interplay of the drums, bass, piano and samples, and between the enveloping ambience of the noise layer and the broken piano chords, together with the moist splatters of reverberated stabs, plus the in-your-face clinks and smacks of the kick, hats and snare attacks, producer Liquid Beats soaks the listener into a diffusive motion of multiple contrasting elements fusing together into a single immersive whole.

Stream AQUA72 – “Smooker” (feat. Ra-P) on Spotify:


Legendz GC – Money feat. Prince Ink [Review]

By 44faced on Aug 04, 2019 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

The self-taught singer, rapper and musician, Legendz GC’s latest single “Money” captures talented lyricism together with good vibes and positive energy. 

Legendz GC has an uncanny ability to sound at home on a beat that is both party and chill at the same time, produced by STZ. Legend GC’s artistry is accentuated by his collab with Atlanta rapper, Prince Ink. Their teamwork on the track are like the constant and the variable in an experiment: Prince Ink holds down “the constant,” i.e. a repetitive melodic motive that loops around and around, entrancing the listener into the flow, and then Legendz GC comes in as the “variable,” changing up the vibe with higher energy pushing-and-pulling, up-and-down energy in his vocal attack. Legendz GC’s vitalizing energy coupled with his genuine and fun lyrical twists of wordplay, which he attributes inspiration back to hip-hop trailblazer Jadakiss, sound one with STZ’s beat: the vibraphone synth running calmly throughout the track, blended with a visual juxtaposition of the street life coupled with the high life on a beachfront property, alluding to the idea perhaps that getting money doesn’t detach the rappers from the streets—it only adds to it.

Check out the official audio of “Money” by Legendz GC feat. Prince Ink, produced by STZ:

Like, comment and subscribe to his channel to stay up-to-date when Legendz GC drops new music, with more coming soon:

About Legendz GC: Shaun Gordon, known by his stage name Legendz GC is an artist from Montreal, Canada. Legendz GC hasn’t limited himself to Canada’s borders, and has been spending much of his time state side (particularly ATL) honing his craft. The self-taught singer, rapper, and musician has committed himself full time to professional development and building his brand. Legendz GC has a sound that has a very lyrical feel and is composed with the sole intention of putting out good vibes and positive energy. Legendz GC draws his inspiration from his childhood and exposure to family members and individuals he looked up to. Legendz GC is lyrically inspired by Hip-Hop trail blazer Jadakiss, but demonstrates his versatility as an artist with his ability to put out Reggae, Trap, and RnB tracks, in addition to Rap. Legendz GC has recently completed projects with: Jimmy the Rocket, Chromazz, Prince Ink, and Grammy Award Winning artist Louie Rankin.

These Keyboard Leads Will Make You Go Woooow!

By 44faced on Jun 10, 2019 in Music , Reviews - 0 Comments

When P. John Livingston turns on one of his many keyboards, you can expect a virtuosic display of sensitivity, touch and feel to encapsulate your senses as he takes flight on his leads. Pure love of music and dedication to communicating a joyous flow fill P. John Livingston’s many keyboard-based tracks on his YouTube channel. Here are a few to go over:


Depending on the keyboard it could be either a MIDI distorted guitar sound or a brass sound (I’d bet on distorted guitar), but within a couple of bars, it becomes clear that no matter what the sound he’s using, P. John Livingston has got that special knack that separates the great musicians from the ordinary ones: that his technical mastery of the instrument becomes his toolbox to simply enter into a zone of joyous energy that he wishes to communicate through his beyond flawless keyboard lead extravaganza. This song is sung by his wife, who also shares that flow with him, and after just a few seconds, P. John Livingston and his wife sweep you into a flight of harmonious intensities and interplays.


Taking off where the first song finished, P. John Livingston adds an impressive display of control of the pitch bender wheel in his leads on “Aadhiyil Vaarthayaha Iruntha Song.” If the keyboard sound only mirrored a real distorted guitar, then you could close your eyes and think that you were listening to a great lead guitarist bending those strings. As a demonstration of this technique, this video holds much interest, however unfortunately the song gets cut off in the middle of its playing.


Oh, the joy of music! Wonderful connection between husband and wife on one hand, outstanding technical display of keyboard lead mastery on the other. In “Deva Kirubai Endrum Ullathu,” P. John Livingston switches from brass to distorted guitar, as if he picked up a guitar a few bars into the song, and continued to hover around the vocal intervals in such an amazing complementary way. The beautiful aspect of this song is in how, although such a legendary keyboard lead player playing so many notes and rhythms, that P. John Livingston also knows how to complement a singer, giving the singer the role they need to have, while filling in the keyboard role with such impressive fills.


The harmony of the spheres sings and plays with such joy, optimism and enthusiasm in the song, “Anantha Thuthu Oli Ketkum Song” by P. John Livingston and his wife. The seamless, effortless-looking demonstration of keyboard lead wizardry through distorted guitar and brass effects together with the beautiful singing of P. John Livingston’s wife makes me simply want to get out of my chair smiling, dancing and clapping hands. Despite the undeniable expertise on the keyboard that’s brought to the front in the titling, the sheer happy and pleasurable energy of the whole music is really what excites me more, with the lead playing being a major part of that. There is some encouragement by commenters requesting better production quality. Indeed, it would be good. But the rawness of the display of simply plugging in and letting go has a raw joy central to music’s main function in the world, like an Internet version of walking past people playing music and lighting up the atmosphere with joy. It should be an inspiration to everyone who is an upcoming musician and artist to not be afraid to simply plug in and record, that often the over-produced sound can actually miss out on what is captured in the raw moment.

Listening to more of P. John Livingston’s music, I don’t really have much more to say. In summary, the technical and musical virtuosity is all there, and he knows how to make it serve the more important factor of the energy that the music enlivens. It’s simply a joy to listen to and watch these videos P. John Livingston uploads on his channel. I will place a few more tracks here for your enjoyment, but go and subscribe to his channel to get all his updates:

Subscribe to P. John Livingston Piano Classics »

And here are the other tracks!…




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