Courtesy of Dreamville

TEST SPIN | J. Cole – KOD

“KOD. 3 meanings. Kids on Drugs
King Overdosed
Kill Our Demons
The rest of the album I leave to your interpretation.”

J. Cole tweeted this on April 19 prior to releasing his new album, KOD. The rapper’s fifth LP features 12 songs, all of which fuse to tell a succinct story about what I believe is the culmination of addiction and pain through technology in 2018. What is most interesting about KOD is that it is an exploration of many types of relevant pain in 2018.

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Travis Karter: Saving Lives with Every Rhyme

I have always believed that hip hop saves lives. As Kendrick Lamar once stated in an interview, “People live their lives to this music.” Hip hop is a form that allows marginalized members of society to express themselves and let other marginalized people know they are heard. This, I have always known. But not until I heard the name Travis Karter did I come to understand that hip hop music has the ability to quite literally physically prevent people from dying. After hearing his newest album Phase III, there was only one way to understand this rising star’s intentions, to have a conversation with him.

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TEST SPIN | Bazzi — COSMIC

“You so fucking precious when you smile,” sings Bazzi on the opening lines of his breakthrough single “Mine” which was released in October of 2017. The song rose to prominence in early 2018 after being featured in a Snapchat filter as well as on a recent playlist curated by Taylor Swift. The song has been streamed millions of times and has peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Largely due to “Mine” and an endorsement from Apple Music granting him heavy promotion, the 20-year-old Michigan native Bazzi’s debut studio album COSMIC had become one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2018. And its arrival has not been a let down.

X Ambassadors performs at the inaugural Cayuga Sound festival at Stewart Park, September 23rd, 2017. (Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor)

X Ambassadors and Young the Giant to Headline the Second Annual Cayuga Sound Festival in Stewart Park

X Ambassadors and Young the Giant will headline the second annual Cayuga Sound Festival in Stewart Park. This year, however, the festival will last two days as opposed to the one last year and will take place September 21 and 22. Other artists performing will include Matt and Kim, Sofi Tukker, Talib Kweli, Buddy, Morgxn, Knew, Lady D and the Shadow Spirits and Cornell’s very own No Comply. More artists remain to be announced. X Ambassadors are the curators of Cayuga Sound Festival and were formed in Ithaca.

Courtesy of Third Man Records

TEST SPIN | Jack White – Boarding House Reach

To prepare myself to listen to Jack White’s album Boarding House Reach that was released last Friday, I did a few things. First, I listened to some of his popular songs from his previous band, The White Stripes, such as “Seven Nation Army” and “We’re Going To Be Friends.” Those songs had a familiar comfort, as I recognized their tunes. My next step was to listen to “Servings and Portions from my Boarding House Reach,” a collage of the songs from his upcoming album. I was struck by the stark contrast between the predictable and rhythmic music of The White Stripes and the erratic, almost manic energy of White’s personal collage. Just like a photo collage has pictures messily taped together with scribbles of dates and places, the album collage felt like different parts of each song were just taped together… but somehow it kind of worked.

Courtesy of Max Roberts

Too Many Zooz at The Haunt

A house and EDM band composed of a baritone saxophonist, a trumpeter and a drummer might be unexpected. Last Wednesday night at The Haunt, however, Too Many Zooz defied conventional musical expectations and did so. With screaming trumpet melodies from Matt Doe, evocative dance moves from Leo P and heart-pounding beats from The King of Sludge, Too Many Zooz brought a large EDM festival ambiance to an intimate Ithaca venue. Too Many Zooz is a self-defined “brass house” trio consisting of saxophonist Leo Pellegrino, trumpeter Matt Doe, and drummer David “The King of Sludge” Parks. I had a chance to sit down with Pellegrino before the show and learn about the band and how they got their start.

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In New York He Milly Rocks: Playboi Carti at Cornell

Mike Floss was the catalyst to the night, starting off with a high energy set that featured heavy R&B beats, influenced by popular artists such as Travis Scott and Lil Uzi. Arriving in Ithaca from Tennessee, Floss brought his innovative and unique sound, inspired by the regressive rap culture prominent in Nashville. Sporting the finest of urban street wear, Floss took the stage in a black and red tracksuit with an embroidered head scarf, belting out his “Freak of the Week.” Floss’s sound radiated throughout Barton Hall, as his opening track surely set the tone for a high energy night. About midway through his performance, Floss pointed to a section leftward of the stage that just wasn’t keeping up with his energy level. He laughed and said, “Don’t worry though.

Courtesy of Def Jam

TEST SPIN | Logic – Bobby Tarantino II

From the release of his debut mixtape Young Sinatra, Logic has been dropping the jaws of listeners with his fast-paced lyrical acrobatics. His discography includes three studio albums and seven mixtapes consisting of a diverse collection of bangers and vibes, each packed with jumbles of tongue-twisting talent. Drawing on inspiration from directors like Quentin Tarantino and artists like Jay Z, Logic writes concept albums that tell stories in which science fiction meets street and emotional vulnerability meets eye-rolling confidence. On March 9, Logic released his newest mixtape, Bobby Tarantino II, as a follow up to 2016’s Bobby Tarantino. The original Bobby Tarantino was widely criticized for its lack of a coherent concept, its simplicity and for the aloof, braggadocious version of Logic that it presents.

Weird Al’s New Tour Rocks Ithaca

Growing up as I did (with a father who loved to constantly relive his glory days), I listened to Weird Al a lot. I watched the music video to “Trapped in the Drive-Thru” a million times, played “Virus Alert” on my iPod shuffle and knew all the lyrics to “EBay.” My dad listened to the classics, reminisced about listening to Weird Al on Dr. Demento’s radio show and told me over and over again the story about how, when he was in college, he and Weird Al got lunch together. So when Weird Al’s Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour came to The State Theatre, obviously my dad and I got tickets. I’ll admit, while I’ve listened to a few of Al’s more recent singles, I hadn’t truly listened to him since the days of my iPod Shuffle. The tour was also self-described as “scaled-down,” featuring older, original songs rather than parodies.

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TEST SPIN | Camp Cope — How to Socialise and Make Friends

Camp Cope’s sophomore release — How to Socialise & Make Friends — is a session beer of an album: best enjoyed in one sitting. In 2016, the Melbourne-based trio blew up with a self-titled debut that introduced listeners to their jangly strain of indie-rock. The band then jam-packed the ensuing two years with performances, tours and new music. They released a split with Philly trio Cayetana, toured with emo luminaries Against Me! and Modern Baseball and reached a larger audience with performances on Audiotree Live and triple j. “I feel like I’ve lived 10 lifetimes in the time that I’ve been in this band,” drummer Sarah Thompson told Stereogum in a February interview.