Some of our favorite Studio sessions from October came from artists we least expected. Although most of Paste calls Atlanta home, we don’t cover a lot of Southern hip-hop. Although we’ve been lucky enough to welcome a number of international touring musicians, most of them don’t hail from reggaeton/rap backgrounds. And yet, performances by Waka Flocka Flame and iLe, respectively intrigued and entertained us in the New York office enough to name them among the best sessions we saw last month.
Although she’s most recognized for her role in the massive Puerto Rican group Calle 13, which flirts with rap-rock and reggaeton, Ileana Cabra Joglar struts on her own with iLe. Her debut solo album, ilevitable, came out last year and comprises a lovely, embracing collection of contemporary and traditional-sounding Latin music. During her Paste Studio session, iLe talked about the diversity of music on the island and how meaningful it is for her to sing songs her family has written. Watch ilevitablestandout “Triangulo.” —Hilary Saunders
4. Waka Flocka Flame
The Atlanta-via-Queens rapper has been trying to release his third album, Flockaveli 2, for over three years now, but hard-drive crashes and label fights have kept it from public ears. Now, it seems, it’s set for imminent release (maybe). In any case, three songs have emerged thus far (“Big Dawg,” “Trap My Ass Off” and “Circles”), and Waka played two of them at Paste on Tuesday. —Matthew Oshinsky
3. Chicano Batman
Chicano Batman mix psychedelic soul, funk, tropicalia, and oldies on their new album, Freedom Is Free, and it not only foregrounds the soul and R&B elements of the band’s sound, but speaks volumes in this political climate. Watch the band play the title track from the album and two other cuts. —Matthew Oshinsky
2. Vintage Trouble
Vintage Trouble are known for their raucous live shows, where molten guitar riffs and classic R&B grooves pour from the stage like tidal waves. The L.A.-based quartet has been generating buzz on the road for years now, parlaying a groundswell of fan devotion into opening slots for The Who, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Lenny Kravitz and Willie Nelson, among others. (We pegged them as a band to watch back in 2012.) But at the group’s recent Paste Studio session in New York, they flaunted their softer side, putting acoustic treatments on three of their best songs in a show of musical versatility you don’t see from too many rock bands. —Matthew Oshinsky
1. Nai Palm
“I wanted to make something really raw and simple and direct and emotional,” Hiatus Kaiyote frontwoman Nai Palm proclaimed of her debut solo album, Needle Paw, at Paste. Armed with Michael Jackson (that’s the name of her guitar), the singer-songwriter swept through the Studio to perform a stripped-back session showcasing her new sound. Fans of Hiatus Kaiyote, the future-soul quartet that burst out of Australia following their cacophonous debut album, Tawk Tomahawk, in 2012, may be in for a shock. Although Palm’s incredible artistry and emotional performance are ever-present, much of Needle Paw strips away the lush instrumentation found on Hiatus Kaiyote records in favor of just a guitar, a voice, and some light accents here and there. The shift is especially noticeable because several of the songs are reworked versions of earlier Hiatus tunes. Watch her exquisite cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland),” and catch her full session here.