Max Bell doesn’t remember what he ate for breakfast.
I don’t know what it is about Stones Throw, but somehow they always end up surprising me. Maybe Peanut Butter Wolf is a genius (it’s definitely up for debate)? Maybe Stones Throw scours Los Angeles and the rest of the globe for quality music using the machine from Willy Wonka that helped find the golden ticket. Or maybe the artists who end up in the Stones Throw factory do so because they know that Peanut Butter Wolf — who is to fedoras what candy-coated purple suits were to Gene Wilder and Cam’ron — knows what he’s doing. They know that every artist already on the label is making the music they want to make.
The latest Stones Throw signee who meets my criteria is 20 year-old Chicago producer/MC Julian Malone. You might remember him as the guy with the basketball and the big fro dropping the first bars in the BRKF$T Club’s impressive five minute posse cut/video, “The Fellowship.”
Julian and his 2008ighties cohorts have been quietly releasing videos for a little over a year. Granted, not all of them are as good as “The Fellowship” (below the jump), and not all members of the group have Julian’s charisma, style, and technical ability. But many come close, exhibiting the strengths that coalesce on said posse cut. Calez even had a write-up on XXL.
But apart from the videos and collabos with other BRKF$T Club members, Julian also dropped a proper album (don’t worry, it’s free) in conjunction with 2DopeBoyz and RubyHornet in February of 2012, Enemy: The Times and Loves of Julian Malone (download below the jump). It spans 19 tracks and really gives you a sense of Malone’s versatility, as well as his ambition. And apart from his solid, yet still developing voice as an MC, it displays his willingness to stray into less traveled sonic territory (see “All Love,” which samples Zoo Kid a.k.a. King Krule) while drawing from his hip-hop influences (see “Git Sum,” his reinterpretation of the Outkast/Goodie Mob classic “Git Up, Get Out” , or the Weldon Irvine “Morning Sunrise” sample on “Note To You,” which you might recall from Jay and Bleek’s “Dear Summer”).
And though Julian and the BRKF$T Club are no Chief Keef and GBE, a cut like “2Deep” (below) shows that Julian is capable of combining some of that sound with his own, making a tamer, more focused lyrical analogue to what many have deemed Keef’s punk rock approach to/style of rap.
But above all, it’s Malone’s latest tracks, “7Milli” and “Give A Eff,” that bode extremely well for his upcoming Stones Throw endorsed mixtape, Diff.rnt. The former features a near perfectly integrated and poignant vocal loop (I believe it’s saying “Go underground young man”) over stock boom bap drums and some of Malone’s best rhymes (“Any nigga in my shoes would probably be worse / I demand some props for keeping composure through all the dirt”). The latter is a murky, laid back affair that allows for you to dig on each of Malone’s bars, as well as feel what seems to be his ethos on the hook : “I’m taking my time/ I made up my mind.” If this is what it sounds like when he takes his own advice, Diff.rnt should be another Stones Throw offering worthy of the label’s stamp.