Shigeto (Live, Detroit)
Le1f (Live, NYC)
Mess Kid (DJ, NYC)
Shigeto’s body of work has grown over the last few years to the tune of several EPs on Moodgadget as Shigeto and with A Setting Sun, a pair of EPs under the alias Frank Omura (another family-name reference), and remixes for Worst Friends, Praveen & Benoit, Tycho, Mux Mool, Charles Trees, A Setting Sun, Beautiful Bells, Shlohmo, and more. The Semi-Circle EP will be his first release with Ghostly International; the full-length Full Circle is on the horizon. Semi-Circle is a fiercely independent work of art, nominally indebted to instrumental hip-hop but, like Zach, straddling many worlds at once. Cool shades of ambient music, stuttering early IDM, dubstep sub-bass, and jazz melodicism color Shigeto’s palette, which he wields with a painterly attention to detail.
As Ghostly International hits its 10th anniversary, Shigeto is one of the first of a wave of young artists who grew up influenced by the label’s early output. And again, names come into play. “Putting out this record on Ghostly isn’t just ‘getting signed,’ for me,” says Zach, “it’s becoming part of a family, an influence that I’ve respected forever. That’s Full Circle.” Let’s just say the feeling’s mutual.
In a world full of rappers claiming to be one of a kind, Le1f (born Khalif Diouf) is a real deal original, a fascinatingly complicated personality full of seeming contractions. He’s a Manhattan native who studied ballet and modern dance, and eventually earned a degree in dance from Wesleyan before returning to the city to become a rapper. He’s an out and proud gay MC whose style is rooted in Tunnel bangers from a less socially enlightened era of hip-hop. He’s a producer who’s responsible for the beat behind Das Racist’s “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”, a fashion icon promoting a “hoodrat Tumblr aesthetic,” and Internet personality on a transcendental quest to become a living digital avatar. “The fabric of my life is a sexy fucking textile,” he brags on “Yup,” from his debut mixtape, Dark York, and obviously that’s no joke.
Since its release in April on Heems from Das Racist’s Greedhead Music imprint, Dark York, and its addictively giddy, 5kinAndBone5-produced lead single “Wut,” has made Le1f a media darling. The Fader, Spin, Pitchfork, Gawker, and a horde of tastemaking blogs have held him up as an example of the direction hip-hop’s evolving towards. Even more recently the video for “Wut,” which prominently showcases Le1f’s prodigious twerking skills, went viral, which indicates that there might be a much bigger audience for his entire artistic package than even his most ardent fans might have suspected. The cool thing about this story is that since we’ve never heard it before we don’t know how it’s going to end.