Review: The Hood Internet Mixtape Volume Seven

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When The Hood Internet made The Hood Internet Mixtape Volume Seven available for free download this Tuesday, the release cemented the duo’s status as one of the hardest working mashup groups out there. In addition to the seven albums that compose their main The Hood Internet Mixtape series, Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell have created an original album titled FEAT, a mixtape for Anatomy Magazine, two mixtapes for Brooklyn clothing line Mishka, and a 2012 year in review mixtape for music blog Hype Machine, all since 2007. One would be justified to wonder if the boys from Chicago can produce so much work and still maintain enough motivation for a new release to be, simply put, good, and the consensus is that Volume Seven is a mixed bag. After several spins it is obvious that The Hood Internet cut some corners on this one, while still plainly showing that they are masters of the craft.

The basic Hood Internet track formula is simple. Take the vocals of a rap song, the artist of which is semi-to-extremely well-known, and lay it on top of the instrumentals of an obscure-to-relatively well-known indie band, and cross-fade into the next song. A fair mixture of clubbangers and indie hip-hop artists show up on the rap side, from Ca$h Out, Drake, Juicy J, and 2 Chainz for the former, to Action Bronson, Danny Brown, Frank Ocean, and A$AP Rocky on the latter. The indie rock backgrounds come from favorites like Purity Ring, Crystal Castles, Tame Impala, Divine Fits, Dirty Projectors, and STRFKR. And while notable names pop up in abundance, small details nitpicked at me throughout the album.

As I listened to “Turn on the Happiness” and “Gangz A Make Her Dance”, something sounded too smooth for the songs, too right, like I was listening to them with their original instrumentals, even though I knew that was not the case. Eventually I realized the connection I was trying to make – both songs were featured on the most recent mixtape they produced, the Hype Machine Best of 2012 Zeitgeist. Granted, the mixtape was not distributed by The Hood Internet, so technically they hadn’t released it themselves, and Mixtape Volume Seven is twenty-five tracks long, which is a lot of minutes of music, but I couldn’t help but feel like reusing the tracks was cheating just a little bit. “Pesobedear” is a decent track, but it curiously uses a song from A$AP Rocky’s 2011 Live.Love.A$AP, when there are a number of better tracks on Long.Live.A$AP, which was just released in January. And as an additional, admittedly petty complaint, I noticed that “Cashin’ Goods” used the censored version of “Cashin’ Out”, and for what reason I cannot fathom. It’s surrounded by songs that use NC-17 rated language, so I really can’t even guess at what the explanation would be.

And yet, when The Hood Internet wants to shine, they know how to shine. “Gooo in Paris” is an irresistible dance number, merging Watch the Throne’s number one single with an infectiously catchy backing from TNGHT. “See Youth” would be a great song regardless of vocals, as it features instrumentals from Santigold’s incredible 2012 album Master of My Make-Believe. Ironically, the best track on the mixtape has to be “Won’t Fuck Us Over 2.0”, a remix of an original track by The Hood Internet, originally featured on FEAT. The elegant dance between Annie Hart’s singing the chorus of The National’s “Mr. November”, weaving in and out with the rap verses by BBU, is simply a thing of beauty.

7/10 – The Hood Internet Mixtapes aim to be your soundtrack for the summer. While I don’t think Volume Seven will have enough staying power to last me all the way to the end of this summer, it certainly gives me enough faith in the group to keep me looking forward to Volume Eight.


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