Thursday, April 15, 2021
Arts + Culture Music Local Listen: Mndsgn, Nappy Nina, Nick Andre, more new...

Local Listen: Mndsgn, Nappy Nina, Nick Andre, more new releases

Laidback Bay Area rap, post-punk to die for, wavvy mellow funk, more from Cali artists


The concentration of musical ability that runs through the Bay never ceases to astound. A dazzling array of musical expression keeps our ears buzzing 24/7 as we listen to projects from large and small labels, and self-released sounds. We decided to start a column featuring the SF Bay Area’s vast assemblage of talent; here’s Local Listen.

Fake Fruit, “No Mutuals” (Rocks In Your Head Records)

Man. I’m always down for post-punk, but damn it’s a good time for post-punk.

While we wait for that New Long Leg project from UK sensation Dry Cleaning to drop in April (I’ve heard it and it’s worth the wait), Oakland’s Fake Fruit, headed by Hannah D’Amato, has that beautiful timing. Here she sings quizzically, getting her point across to the dumb question-giver. Pushed rhythms allow little wiggle room for droll excuses. D’Amato sings seconds before and after the tempo, as if she’s calling a Warriors game in disgust, while cut-and-dry angular guitar lines zoom through soundscapes in the background.

This band is so dope. Like that one friend none of your other friends can stand cause they always tell the truth, and some folks are not built for 24/7 truth. Yeah mang, that’s Fake Fruit. According to their  Bandcamp liner notes: “Fake Fruit distill Pink Flag era Wire, Pylon, and Mazzy Star to expound on the absurdity of modern life. Front woman Hannah D’Amato leads the group through three minute clap backs of minimal, moody post-punk.”

Sign me up.

Nick Andre feat Lil B, Zion I & Casual of Hieroglyphics, “Life is Awesome” (Slept On Records)

From difficult times, some of the best art continues to be created. Listen. If somebody told me Lil B, Zion I and Casual, for one, would be on the same track, and second, it’d be a sleepy banger from the mega-talented producer Nick Andre… well. I’d advise them, don’t play with my emotions.

“Life is Awesome” is a steady reminder why Bay Area Hip-Hop can still stand strong wit every damn body. Mellow, addictive but still lethal, Casual sums it up best: Life can feel like a fairy tale/and sometimes it gets very real.

Andre co-founded Slept On Records with friend Eric aka E da Boss from Myron & E and the Pendletons as an outlet to release music they were making with friends. They released a series of 12″ and 7″ records featuring Gift of Gab, Lyrics Born, Bicaso, and more. ” Waiting On You” is still a classic. 

“We then both signed to different labels, E went to Stones Throw and I did a record with MUSH,” says Andre. “We held on to the label and we’re able to keep our distribution and have used it as an outlet to be able to release our music on our terms and keep total control.”

Nappy Nina [ft Stas Thee Boss and JWords], “The Real Tea”

Oakland raised Emcee Nappy Nina BEEN putting in that work and this posse up track with Stas Thee Boss and producer JWords ( a fave producer of ours around these parts) proves determination can conquer any style of flow. Always a fan of what Nina has coming next, we see you and salute!

Mndsgn “Hope You’re Doin Better” (Stones Throw)

Inspired by soundtrack music, samba, exotica and ’70s-’80s library records, Mndsgn—a proven beatmaker vocalist, songwriter, and arranger—comes back with a new album and single that blows in that wavvy mellow funk. “Hope You’re Doing Better” the first single from Rare Pleasure, scheduled to drop June 4th, is a hand-worn patchwork AOR groover that will make you summon your own inner emotional rescue panda.

With assistance from Swarvy on bass, guitar and as Musical Director for the sessions, Stones Throw label mate Kiefer Shackelford on keys, drum work by Will Logan, the blessed percussion of Carlos Niño, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on strings, and accompanying vocals from FousheĂ© and Anna Wise, according to the label press release, Rare Pleasure has that phantasm, drawing on Mndsgn’s time as a breakdancer, combining all the different types of rhythm, showcasing a full range of bump that will make you want to groove.

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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