Conspiracy // Junior M.A.F.I.A. 

Genre: Rap

Release Date: Aug 29, 1995

Since they all met as childhood friends by way of The Notorious B.I.G., Junior M.A.F.I.A was pitted for success under Biggie’s wing, who organized and mentored the collective. Their only studio album, “Conspiracy”, was released in 1995, but the group, unfortunately, disbanded just two years later following the death of Biggie Smalls. The project helped jumpstart many of the members’ careers, notably Lil’ Kim, and it is fascinating to look back on a time where everyone was just getting started and performing under the astonishing leadership of a youthful Notorious B.I.G.

The pinnacle of the popularity of this crew are “Conspiracy” tracks “Player’s Anthem” and “Get Money”. Besides providing a platform for Lil’ Kim to showcase her talent at the highest level, the songs also stand as the finest representation of the group’s cohesion and the beauty of this collective. While the hits of the album like “Back Stabbers” are dominated by Lil’ Kim, the pinnacle of the project and Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s run came when the crew shared mic time equally. 

“Realm of Junior M.A.F.I.A.”, a track without Kim, features thumping beats and verses from all other members of the collective and finishes strongly with a superb verse from Biggie himself. While their time together was short, Junior M.A.F.I.A. rose to the top of the rap game with “Conspiracy through the conception of hip-hop classics with sensational young rappers and elite mentorship. 

Stars are the Light // Moon Duo

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

Release Date: Sep 27, 2019

Since their formation in 2009, the Portland-based pair starring Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada have released seven studio albums under the name “Moon Duo”. Their sound has always aligned with psychedelic rock featuring repetitive rhythms and tones of dubbed improvisation. But on “Stars are the Light”, the duo hints at themes of 70s’ disco-funk and strange futuristic electronic music. “Stars are the Light” is the group’s shining treasure, and at just eight songs and 40 minutes, the project is packed with gorgeous guitar composition, strong drum support, and otherworldly instrumentation. It’s truly an instrumentally diverse album given the length.

Over the years, Moon Duo has become a familiar name in the realm of psychedelic rock. While the group experiments with new sounds on “Stars are the Light”, the song “Fall (In Your Love)” keeps the group’s style grounded to their roots. With splendid guitar melodies and lyricism, the airy “Stars are the Light” shows the range of psychedelia that Moon Duo has enacted on the album. The track is electronically advanced and as the album-titled song, it exhibits the theme and purpose of the project.

“Lost Heads” combines the lightness of “Stars are the Light” and the weight of the bass and drum support of “Fall (In Your Love)” to create the peak of the project. With engaging lyrics and memorable instrumentation, Moon Duo perfectly curates their sound on this track. As their seventh release, “Stars are the Light” gives compelling insight into what an established band can achieve when expanding the limits of their designated genre. 


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