The Red Giants
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The Red Giants

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


According to the media, hip hop as a musical genre had its golden age almost twenty years ago. It's a depressing thought. If a movement has already reached its peak where else can it go? The answer - obviously - is corporate. Yet a slew of young producers are bubbling under the radar, following the path of recent high profile crate diggers such as Kanye West and 9th Wonder. With the aid of digital technology the underground playing field is wide open and skilled emcees can bounce over retrofitted soul samples until they're blue in the face. The Red Giants, consisting of Cincinnati producer Brickbeats and Atlanta (via Cincinnati) emcee Jermiside are the latest team to flip rare grooves into street sounds and end up with some solid results.

The Red Giants show their influences from the jump off. "Soundgazing" begins with a sweet vocal hook from long ago, wrapped up in static hiss and crackle. It's an embrace of the analogue sound that's been turning up on albums since The Listening and the beat has strong ties to 9th's trademark snare and kick drum combo. Jermiside spits it straight, combining intelligent brags with pop culture comment and with the addition of the scratching on the bridge, the track ticks all the required boxes. Not that there's anything wrong for that; there's just enough variation on this album to keep it fresh.

Between the Street Fighter slogans on "Magnificent" and the Isley Brothers snippet in "Do Ya Thing," The Red Giants show their willingness to plunder any source for material. The latter track's tight drum line and trumpet blasts sit comfortably alongside Jermiside's lyrics, devoted to his comrades in the burgeoning underground rap scene. As an example of this rare unity, Von Pea drops a verse on "Illustrious Brothers," no doubt returning the favour, as Brickbeats produced half of Tanya Morgan's debut Moonlighting. The track builds up wandering keys and a dirty guitar riff against a stripped down chorus and it's a welcome departure from more summertime soul snippets on "They Say," "Satisfied" and the nostalgic "Oneder Years."

There is a tantalising example of what happens when Brick leaves his soul inspired comfort zone at the back of the album. "Beautiful Day" resembles a Stevie Wonder cut from his synthesised days, combining that trademark funk sound with jingle bells. It's a smooth summer jam that Jermiside rides with apparent ease, dropping lines that evoke the smell of barbeque grills in the neighbourhood. The ATL-based emcee is on point for the duration and he could segue effortlessly into the Living Legends crew.

The Red Giants album proves that there is an abundance of talent in the underground that has the means and motivation to make good hip hop. What it also proves to highbrow critics is that the soul-centric sound these producers swear by is becoming a touch formulaic, a sign of artists living in the past instead of pushing the genre forward into a new golden age. They're missing the point. Hip hop's 'golden age' was defined by dope beats and dope rhymes, in which case The Red Giants are at the forefront of rap's resurgence.
- Voodoo


Embrace. It's what we look forward to upon going to the airport, to greet someone we have not seen for years. We respect family, we respect where we come from, and where we're going. The embrace, apart from everything, means everything.


One should shake off the shingles and prepare to embrace Jermiside & Brickbeats. Not so much in the physical sense but in the musical and emotional sense. Upon hearing Jermiside say, in the chorus to "Soundgazing", You hear them speakers pumpin', that is my salvation/You hear them sounds pumpin', hip-hop's the foundation/my soul lost and found, scroungin' in a foul nation/but Im'ma live to the fullest, my style's soundgazing, you realize you were meant to hear that, the journey is over, and you're home. Embrace.

I hate to bring up any cliches, but to me the music on The Red Giants (Rip.Smash) sounds "true". Before there were ever issues about the music, which hybrid was this, which region was that, you just listened to the music, knowing that just because it was rap music, just because you were a hip-hop fan, that it was a guarantee it would be great from start to finish. This is what this is, not a return to what once was, but the light shining on what is and what has always always been. In other words this is, by all means, 100ip-hop. It's not old, it's not new, it's there, and will always be there. Like family. Embrace.

What holds me to this album is how good it is from start to finish. They're bragging at you without doing it, meaning that Jermiside can write and wants to share that with you, but he's going to let his words and flow do its thing. He knows he can do it, he also hopes you'll like it. If you don't like what he's doing, you're not even factored in when it comes to compiling statistics. If you like it, welcome to the club. He comes off as humble, and I'd like to think people want to hear that in an MC. Because that's what he is, an MC, not just someone who saved enough to buy something more than a Radio Shack mic. Brickbeats, well, production heads will take one listen to this and know exactly what he's doing. He does borrow a few pages from the Kanye West book of production, in terms of using a few sped up samples, but in the last four years who hasn't? Rather than stick to that technique, there are other styles which may make people look at the liner notes a bit. "Is this 9th Wonder?" Nah, that's Brickbeats you're listening to. These two work great together, yet one can also sense what could come from both of them in the future. Jermiside could make any track lovely, and I am certain a lot of people would benefit from having Brickbeats on their side. This is easily one of the best albums of 2006, and who wouldn't want to have that in their collection? That's right, go to the record store and hug the section which says The Red Giants. You might look like a fool, but then go hug the cashier, especially if she's cute.

(You can order The Red Giants over at CD Baby.)
- John Book


In one of our recent staff discussions (wherein we reduce whole subcultures into next week’s semi-witty site slogan), Clay Purdom admitted that, as a hip-hop fan, he’s having trouble moving past 1996. I imagine that The Red Giants might sympathize, at least a little. Emcee Jermiside actually flows and schemes out his cadence, which sounds like an increasingly novel concept these days. On the first track proper, producer Brickbeats lays chopped drums in a 4/4 with emphasis flat on that last 4, takes his soul sample and strings, alternates his end-tweaks on every bar, curls elements on the hook, and it’s so 1996, I’m wearing baggy pants and rocking a Bulls jersey. As such, The Red Giants is an almost completely anonymous slice of nostalgic undie-hop. As such, it’s also completely listenable. I’m getting old, and must heed older-than-me Aaron Newell: “Hold on to what hip-hop you can.”

This album’s not fresh, it’s cheese, and that reads like something Jermiside might rap in a tossed-off millisecond, which is part of why The Red Giants is so enjoyable, slash needed by us fogies. Big Pun’s long gone, boys. By laws of poetry, this many similes per stanza is English murder of the first degree, but by laws of “old skool” hip-hop, it’s just murdering the mic, which is all good and righteous. Jermiside works the wordplay, the convoluted references, the silly cleverness, punchlines to punchlines, and I just thank God that I get to listen to breath control again. Jerm effortlessly fits as many as forty syllables to a bar, every jot and tittle enunciated so crisp you can see the spit, all delicately sandwiched between two tiny, polite inhales. T.I.’s “What You Know” may end up the year’s biggest rap hit, but part of that will be because even grandma can sing along. It’s why Atlantic probably won’t make “I’m Talking to You” a single, as worthy as it might be, and it’s why you don’t hear more rappers mixing moderate and long meters under one measure, as on the Red Giants’ “Do Ya Thing.” That shit don’t pay.

Of course, technical criteria mean little when the vibe’s stiff, but Jermiside’s smooth-and-sticky enough to sound like Common covering K.M.D. Don’t believe me, that’s fine, peep the downloads, read the writtens: “What’s the time? I said ‘Hip-hop,’ and it’s as if I had a phony leg / Sippin’ fake old red, with homies at the pony keg / Hitting scott nine with cheese coneys, on the reg / Takin’ my memory to MPEG, 40 megs / Spittin’ thirty four rhymes, there were four chords there / 1994, saw Biggie splashdance for his fare / Since then, I’ve bent up more tracks than a poor spare / I see my niggas in a Ford Taurus / Coarse hair…”

Makes you think about when every single verse was an amusement park or a photo album or an 8mm reel, and rapping was just the contemporary urban form of the oral story tradition. Damn. And all of that effect would be lost if the music wasn’t some beautiful beat throwbacks, which it is, almost too perfectly so. I want to hug Brickbeats for his slavish dedication to samples, samples, above all else, samples. You know how Cool and Dre love to use rapid 808 trap taps on-and-off for syncopation of their drums? On “Illustrious Brothers,” Brickbeats achieves a similar effect with channel-panning of what sounds like bicycle bells. I clap my ass off. The metrically dynamic “Do Ya Thing” starts by baring Brick’s subtle foundation that makes it all possible, four-stroke stutters of the kick starting and stopping the drum line (thus becoming its middle, as well). It’s a beat that offers an emcee a lot of possibilities, and Jermiside takes full advantage, but what really sells the thing to the casual listener, along with most of the other songs on the album, is Brickbeats’ unimpeachable (if safe) use of gold standards, shit like horns and chipmunk technique and peppering croon snips.

Tried-and-true to a fault, The Red Giants offers no shortage of played-out song concepts presented in just the style you’d expect them to play out in, once again. Hip-hop archetype about hip-hop music as salvation (“Soundgazing”); brass bombast brag track, complete with Street Fighter II sample ("Magnificent"); moody orchestra loop with muted horn = emcee sad at ghetto and corruption, course (“Good Morning America”). But when Jerm and Brick try to step out the stylistic boundaries even just a little bit, like on the tropicalia of “Pair-A-Dice Island” and the discordant keys of “Beautiful Day,” it doesn’t really work out for them, the songs not comfortable enough to be effective and not different enough to be, you know, interesting. Though there’s not one bomb on The Red Giants, these few relative and losing risks occur in the second half, making the album feel a little frontloaded.

But that’s kind of 1996, too, right? Or kind of hip-hop, period. Get old enough, and even infirmities find their place.

Chet Betz
April 6th, 2006 - Chad Betz


Jermiside & Brickbeats
The Red Giants
Rip.smash | 2006

Anticipation is a muthafucker. Longing for an album and then finding out that it’s nothing like you were waiting for is a bitch. Satisfaction is far away when your favourite rapper and producer come up with something beneath average. Far more satisfactory is when you get up in the morning, find a CD in your mail box, pull your eyebrows and think 'what’s this?', then put it in your stereo and find out that this is actually a pretty great album. For some reason you play it again and again and come to the conclusion that good albums often come from an unexpected corner.

'The Red Giants' album is such an example. Never ever have we heard of this duo, Jermiside and Brickbeats! Not in a million years. Although they both have issued a solo album and come from hip-hop semi-capitals Cincinatti and Atlanta. Unbiased and with a blank mind we started to listen and let the good vibes in. Good vibes aroused by soul samples, mesmerizing the listener, and lazy funk drums, makin your head bounce at the same time. The music is mind-relaxin, the rhymes are incentive at times but freestylishly lush otherwise. Jerm tags sharp lyrics to a multi-layered, silky sound canvas. This kinda reminds us of the first time we heard People Under The Stairs; unknown, fresh, oh so underground and lots of vibes sampled.

Yes, this album sounds pretty Left Coast and Jermiside sounds like he could enter the Living Legends crew in a minute. 'You hear them speakers bumpin? That’s my salvation. You hear them sounds pumpin? Hip-hop’s the foundation.', Jermiside rhymes in 'Soundgazin', a soulful opener with a tight bass pluck and a mesmerizing soul sample. 9th Wonder and Kanye West are not far away; 'Do Ya Thang' has a sped-up voice sample and solid programmed drums, while 'They Say' and 'Satisfied' follow the same concept but yet sound different and oh so good. In order to stay not too inherited to the 9th or Kanye legacy and keeping the album from soundin too monotonous, Brickbeats added an amalgamation of tunes; 'Pair-A-Dice Island' is straight Acapulco rhythm, 'Jealousy' and 'Cowards Course' is darker, string-loaded with a heavy bass drum and 'Beautiful Day' is straight up electro-funk.

And so 'The Red Giants' is a pleasant surprise to us. There’s a lot of resemblance with other artists, you can easily tell the influences, but through this background, they manage to create a style that will entertain every rap fan, soundin oh so smooth to the ear.
- CPF


Discography

Jermiside & Brickbeats "The Red Giants" CD
Brickbeats "Moonlighting" (Production)
Jermiside - NP45 Volume One 7"
(Grand Scheme Recordings,2003)
Jermiside - The Biology Of Kingship CD
(Grand Scheme Recordings,2003)
Brickbeats - Ilwil "Knuckle Up" Production
(Neblina Records, 2005)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"The Red Giants are the newest dynamic duo in Underground hip-hop, consisting of Atlanta-based emcee, Jermiside and producer/dj Brickbeats (Cincinnati). The two hip-hop aficionado's first crossed paths in late 2003 as Jermiside was making his rounds promoting his self released debut "The Biology Of Kingship" as Brickbeats was providing his golden era influenced backdrops for numerous rap acts in the Tri-State Area. A year later, after recording a hand full of well received songs, they decided to combine forces for a full-length release called The Red Giants. Recently Brickbeats' production talent has appeared alongside such artists as 9th Wonder (Jay-Z, Destinys Child) & Khrysis on Neblina Records' Definition:Hip-Hop Compilation and has also served as the soundscape for half of Tanya Morgan's critically acclaimed "Moonlighting" meanwhile Jermiside has shared the stage with artists such as Nicolay, Darrien Brockington (Foreign Exchange) ,Tanya Morgan & been making appearances on countless mixtapes and collaborating with various artists such as Ill Poetic, Von Pea, Ilwil, Shameless, Blayze McKee, Skee Tha Sergon and others. There self-titled release is now available on Rip.Smash Recordings."