Still young, the Estonia-born, Central District-repping, Los Angeles-residing Avatar Young Blaze has been both wildly prolific and steadily improving. And on his latest project, Danny Darko, there are still weed anthems ("Smoke Somethin''), gun tracks ("Kalashnikov"), and the same ear for top-notch beats from Araab Muzik ("28 Days Later") and Jake One ("North Pole"). But the vibe is more mature and refined--not overly polished, but almost definitely the best music one of Seattle's best gangsta rappers has made yet. He might still pack heat on the day-to-day, but Av seems to be past his street-soldier days and on to the beachfront-cabana lifestyle.
One of the most captivating moments of the mixtape happens on "Skylark," when Av swags out the originally haunting track borrowed from Sabzi's M?DE::IN::HEIGHTS project, inadvertently giving the Blue Scholars producer what might be his first bona fide gangsta jam. But the award for most exciting bit comes from the long-awaited collaboration with fellow 206 street-minded rapper Fatal Lucciauno on "Black Bandana." Over a soulful beat from Mike Myers, the duo is more reflective than aggressive, while lamenting those lost to steel bullets and iron bars and, ultimately, remembering that they've got to keep their priorities straight.
For his release party, Avatar is joined by Dipset's producer extraodinaire Araab Muzik--who, while far from the inventor of MPC sample chopping, is talented enough with the instrument to have his face on the New York Times' story about it.
Araabmuzik took familiar beats -- including his own for "Salute" by the Diplomats -- and dismantled them, then improvised off the themes, playing furious fusillades of sharp drums, shrieks and all sorts of sounds programmed into the machines. He played them like drums, with force. He played them like a piano, with dignity. And then, as if giving out at the end of a long sprint, he stopped, stepping away from the machines as the room caught its breath, and grabbed a Red Bull for fortification.
HG's doors open at 10 p.m., and $10 gets you in the doors and a copy of the album.