Monday, April 9, 2012

Billy Joel's "My Life" Re-imagined By The Kickdrums/Machine Gun Kelly

If The Kickdrums aren't on your radar yet, they oughtta be. They're an indie rock group, I guess. Their sound blends with hip hop in a great way though, as the many collaborations with MCs on multiple albums will prove.

I like what the band did here in reworking Billy Joel's hit "My Life". It's interesting. And, while I'm not completely sold on Machine Gun Kelly yet, he holds his own here. Check out both versions below.

Also, if you're really interested you can catch a music video for Billy Joel's "My Life" below. You may notice that the song used at the beginning of the video ("Stiletto" by Joel) was sampled for Kool G. Rap's classic "Road to the Riches".

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Iron Solomon Branches Out With 'Monster'

If you've ever heard Iron Solomon rap you know the guy's got bars. He's been on the battle circuit for years destroying damn near everyone in his path. It was inevitable that he would eventually take the next step and record an actual album. Well, here it is. The album is called Monster, and I guess it's meant to showcase the versatile talent that Solomon possesses, and hopefully be the jump off point to a successful career.

I had my doubts. And, after the first few tracks (Kweli feature aside) it seemed I was right to. The trouble with most battle rappers turned recording artists is that they can't write songs. They brag and boast, diss nobody in particular, and vomit punchlines without any cohesiveness or real direction. The concepts are thin at best, and the hooks are usually a single phrase repeated over and over. What works in front of a challenger while encircled by a crowd of blood thirsty hip hop heads is less interesting for 15 tracks on wax. There's been a long list of MCs that couldn't make the transition.

But, about midway through Monster, Iron Solomon started to find his groove. The battle-ready attitude gave way to a more thoughtful lyricist that actually had something to say.      

Solomon could have just relied on punchlines hoping they would carry an album like they won him battles. But, he played it a smarter way. He knew that shit wouldn't fly and didn't try to force it. He used different rhyme schemes and deliveries throughout, focusing more on alliteration and consonance than metaphors and similes. As a result, Monster delivered much more substance. For that, he should be commended. This isn't the best debut I've ever heard, but Iron Solomon has proved that he's more than just a battle rapper. He's a versatile MC with the potential to be a notable, dynamic voice in Hip Hop for years to come.

Plus, he got DMC on his album. Top that rookies.

If you wanna check out some snippets and/or buy the album click here, or find it yourself. Ha!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Union - Analogtronics

I just got finished listening to this album from French production duo Union. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of their beats from this album. I am, however, a big fan of the MC lineup they put together - Kweli, MF Doom, Rapper Big Pooh, Guilty Simpson, Elzhi, etc.

Here's a video to a track from it. "Time Leak" featuring Talib Kweli and Sly Johnson.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Brother Ali To Release Free Album

"Crab Cakes to Shakespeare". Ha. Nice. The great Brother Ali has a free album to offer up on February 13th. It's called The Bite Marked Heart. Here's a video from it. Song produced by Jake One. Happy Valentine's Day to all of us.

2Pac After Death

For some reason, I pulled out 2Pac's Until The End of Time CD today. Shortly after, I remembered why I shouldn't do that. There's so many corny beats and hooks added on to those songs posthumously it's ridiculous.  It really amazes me what those involved put together, especially considering that for the most part they worked with Pac when he was alive (i.e. Johnny "J", QD3). Although, to be fair, those tracks probably weren't his best songs either.

I don't know how many of you heard the bootlegged versions of the actual songs that Pac recorded, which later became much of what you hear on these albums. My older brother ordered the 16-disc collection from some website shortly after Pac's passing...I'm so thankful. Many were unmixed, and the sound quality wasn't great. But, they were 10x better the way they were. The label should've mixed and mastered them and left it at that (especially not editing out Wendy Williams' name while keeping Jay's, Havoc's and P's - dumb shit). If, for some reason they couldn't do that legally, they should have done it anyway and released them for free. Because these posthumous "interpretations" are an embarrassment to his legacy. That is all.

Note: The pic above is a poster I had on my wall growing up. Well, from age 14 or so to 22.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

De La Soul - "We Made It (Skit)"

New De La. Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present: First Serve. April 2nd. On Duck Down Records.

Goddamn that label has everyone worth talking about it seems.

Here's a video from one of the skits which serves as a teaser for the album. I know you probably don't like skits. Well, just remember that De La Soul and Prince Paul pretty much invented the skit on their debut album to further a theme and turn an album into something more cinematic. It was a bunch of other rappers that ruined it with their uninspired bullshit in years to come.

Who has two thumbs and can't fucking wait for this album??

De La Soul's Plug 1 & Plug 2 present First Serve -- The album out April 2nd. Watch the 'We Made It Skit' from the animated world of De La Soul's Plug 1 & Plug 2 present First Serve. The video follows our heroes Deen Whitter and Jacob 'Pop Life' Barrow from their early days of laying down demos and mixtapes to hitting the big time, signing to Goon Time Records. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Jean Grae Experience

Here is something I've been wanting to post up here for a while. As you can tell from all of the posts about her music, I'm a big fan of Jean Grae. And, I'm not the only one. Jean has a LOT of fans, each one more passionate than the last. And, it's a good thing to see because her music is sooo dope. It sucks to have mainstream nobodies hogging all of the attention because of dollars rather than skill.

I love talking Hip Hop with people on Twitter. You never know when you'll come across someone who appreciates the art the way you do. Aisha Behar is someone I've conversed with a lot, and when I saw some of the photos she took at Hip Hop shows, I knew I had to share them with my circle as well. So, she sent a few my way. Below is a short write up about what it was like for her to be in the audience for a Jean Grae show (a treat I have yet to experience), and some photos she took while there enjoying herself. If you like what you see, you can follow her on Twitter @EeeshISDope. Enjoy.

I mean I really don’t even know where to start. A Jean Grae show is unlike any other show I’ve ever been to. I had the pleasure to catch Jean Grae a few months ago in L.A. at the Airliner when she was touring promoting her ‘Cookies or Comas’ EP. What I liked most was that she makes everyone feel as if we are all friends. In a packed venue, it was still a very intimate show. She even makes sure no one takes pictures during the performance, so that you can actually enjoy the show. 

The majority of the songs were from ‘Cookies or Comas’, but some of the songs were songs I had never heard, off the upcoming LP ‘Cake or Death’. With any other performer I probably would’ve been a little turned off; due to wanting to hear songs that I knew so I could sing along. However, with Jean songs it only makes me even more impatient to listen to ‘Cake or Death’. Shout out to Mr. Len her DJ he is amazing as well. 

She’s a witty, sarcastic, classy, intellectual, asshole. Who brings with a vodka filled water gun on stage, performed the entire time with a cigarette behind her ear, taught us how to two-step, and actually spent time with fans after the show. What more could you possibly ask for? The Jean Grae Experience is awesome! Enjoy the pictures I captured from this amazing show.