Monday, December 28, 2009
I was young. Really young. But, I wanted to be like my big brother, so whatever he was into I was into basically. He gravitated towards hip hop, and I followed. The start of Yo! MTV Raps didn't hurt either. In fact, the show probably played a large part in bringing hip hop to a lot of people. We watched it all the time. We used to record videos on VHS tapes and watch them over and over again.
I got my mom to take me to the mall up the street from us one night. There were two music stores in it then - Record Town and Camelot. I think I went to Record Town that night. I don't think you could find even one music store in that mall today. This is where I bought my first hip hop cassette: Tougher Than Leather by Run D.M.C. I still remember her letting me unwrap it and put it in for the ride home in her new 1988 Pontiac Grand Am. I remember turning it up to hear "Run's House" and "Mary Mary". I listened to that tape over and over again.
1988 was a good year for me as far as hip hop goes. The tapes I have from that year that I bought in the store are as follows (and I included a video from each below)
Run D.M.C. - Tougher Than Leather
By the way, this video is from the movie Tougher Than Leather. I have never seen it. If anyone could get me a copy I would be eternally grateful. I doubt it would be nearly as enjoyable as it would have been when it came out, but I still wanna see it. This is probably my favorite song on the album.
Big Daddy Kane - Long Live The Kane
I still know every word to this song (and pretty much every other one this album).
Kid 'N' Play - 2 Hype
Some may laugh now, but these guys were mega stars when I was little. Great entertainers, and they actually rhymed together, which I liked. Plus, House Party is a classic. No one can argue that.
EPMD - Strictly Business
EPMD was and is my favorite duo of all time.
So, that's my collection from 1988. Don't get me wrong, I heard a lot of other MCs that year. My brother had some tapes, we watched the videos and listened to the radio (which at that time wasn't a complete joke) constantly. But, these are the ones I owned and listened to over and over and over again.
Friday, December 25, 2009
After a few of these verses go up (or even right after the original, lately) a lot of the sites I go to for music start getting bothered that everyone has to go in on the same beat, and the track gets old really fast. I guess that can be true. That was definitely the case with the beat that seemed to start this negativeness for a lot of people, "A Milli" - I personally didn't like the beat much in the first place.
All in all, I kind of like the beat-jacking practice though. It keeps things interesting. It keeps the competition going. Competition doesn't have to be in the form of a diss track. It can just be taking the same beat and trying your best to outdo everyone before you (and set the bar too high for anyone to come after).
My favorite collaboration tracks usually come in this form too. Unless there's a deeper concept that the artists are exploring together, I'd just prefer every one of them be a "Brooklyn's Finest" where each is trying to prove that they're the best MC. Friendly competition. Nothing wrong with that. It keeps MCs on their toes. It's why you hear so much talk about people getting "murdered on their own shit". Some take their guest appearances seriously, and make sure they bring their 'A' game. If the host doesn't rise to the occasion they can end up getting embarrassed on their record. Competition's a big part of hip hop. It's one of the things that makes it great. So, for me at least, I hope MCs keep blacking out over each other's beats.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Today Tanya Morgan is in a giving mood - call it the Xmas spirit. They have released this mix of the samples used on their album Brooklynati - in all likelihood my choice for album of the year, which I will decide some time soon after the holiday. Sorry for the spoiler.
I like how it stays in line with the theme of the album. It;s like you're rolling through Brooklynati listening to the local radio station. Enjoy the mix!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Among the huge amount of new music I have to listen to lately, one 7-track mixtape I keep going back to is Lupe Fiasco's Enemy Of The State. I've said it before - this shit is nuts. Below is the verse Lupe spit over the beat for "Say Something" by Timbaland. There's a lot of clever shit in this one. Seeing it in writing even made it more apparent as there were a few things I had missed in my multiple listens.
It's funny, until recently I didn't even realize that Timbaland recorded his own verses for the song. I had a version with Drake only. Then Lupe dropped his verse. Then I found a blend of the two of them on the same track, so I was banging that for a while. It was only a week or so ago that I saw the making of the video for the album version of the song and heard Timbaland's part in the background. He had a story around it and everything. Who knew? Anyway, read Lupe's verse below.
Uh, Opus of a ghetto boy who grew into a project man
Brewster Place, he used to stick his scissors in the sockets damn,
clear that Project Runway, 'cause this is where my rocket lands,
ain’t got no problems, Houston, I A.K.A. then rocket land.
Events recent that lit a fire under him like pots and pans,
rockets and I (eye) up in the sky like helicopter cams
And you down there in the traffic jam
from here I’ve seen a bunch of fake shit like avid wrestlin' fans
Came up from the bottom of the eye exam...ZOOM
Now I’m like the biggest G off in the room,
still hard to see me like the truth on TV
or the roof from the sidewalk, I don’t flo' (floor), I ceiling
My mama said they need me...
'cause, I’m made from the best stuff on earth like Snapple Tea Leaves,
they glass is half full so I spit into them like Celie,
no longer G, now you can C (see) me
but your letter's still under my sea like seaweed
C and G but nothing bout me C-G, It’s all real, none of this is green screen
"Shut Up and Let Me Go" just like The Ting Tings,
I’m feelin' like a Mac, standing around a bunch of PCs.
I’ve rocked it from the shouters to the soccer moms,
try to stop what’s going on
you’ll see the back of my hand like the tops of palms,
I’m balling like the tops of pawns,
circle of influence getting bigger like the ripples on the tops of ponds.
Short-footed and War Headed like the tops of bombs,
Domino-in n****'s, delivery is Papa John's, Little Ceaser‘s, uh,
burning down your Pizza Hut
Plaque collection building 'cause, I don’t brush my teeth enough,
yeah, crack is wack and reefer sucks, you might think this deep as fuck
but this like my weaker stuff,
they ask “Is this his day-to-day? 'cause this is like a week to us”
Mic is shy and speakers blush, I is shy (Chi) and he is up,
I correct, me is up - no we is up - cause its like two of me
and each of us, rappin' acid, eat this up,
A-Town down, peace is up, New York to East Coast is tough,
West Side ridin', lot of n****'s salty 'cause,
'cause I be overseas and tough.
Everything seamless, WorldStar never seen this,
NahRight gotta stream this, motherfuckin' genius!
Brave and fly, you backbone-less and wingless,
bunch of chickens on the strip, I’m coming for they fingers...
till what they throwin' up is meaningless
Chilly Chill you seeing this? This didn’t make MTV’s list
Finish fingers, eating wrist, feedin' frenzy and shit,
Succotash stuffering, Chicken-Frikasee'en this
a beat eatin' media blitz,
pace is getting feverish, pain is growing Seaver-ish,
these the peppers Peter picked,
things are at their easiest, Real Compton city G’in it
but I’m from Chicago...house lights, bravooos!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"Daykeeper" is a great song, and the vocal layers on it really stood out for me when I listened to the album Leave It All Behind. It's actually probably my favorite track on the album, so I'm happy that it was the one to get the Grammy nod. Let's hope they win. See the description and then the video below for a pre-acceptance speech, of sorts.
“We have prepared a short video (with the help of our frequent collaborator Matt Koza), that describes the FE story and gives an overview of our journey from random obscurity to fully independent Grammy nominated artists. Consider this our pre-Grammy acceptance speech…lol. We encourage all of you to pass this along and spread the word, as we feel our story is a big inspiration to artists everywhere. Every once in a blue moon, the good guys do win.”
Also, if you haven't seen the video/heard the song he did for the New Moon Soundtrack called "Solar Midnite", here it is:
Monday, December 14, 2009
If you saw my post a while back about Elzhi's album The Preface, you know that I think he's among the top lyricists out right now, no question about it. He supposedly has an album in the works called Elmatic, and I have no doubt it will live up to that title and be nothing short of amazing.
This past Friday, Elzhi released The Leftovers Unmixedtape for your enjoyment. Here's the rundown of what to expect straight from his website.
The Leftovers UnMixedtape is exactly what it sounds like: A compilation of one of the game's most talented Emcee's unreleased and featured works. Whether it's a promo joint from a few months back (eLZhi and Black Milk - Deep), a feature from another artist's project (Danny Brown - Contra feat. eLZhi), or just a rare gem from years past (eLZhi and DJ Dez - Living), these Leftovers would have passed for a fresh cooked meal if you didn't know better. It's raw, uncut, unmastered, fresh from the studio and ready for your ears. No DJs, just eLZhi and his comrades, your speakers and you. Without the Leftovers UnMixedtape, most of these songs would never have seen the light of day, so consider this a gift, and come get your grub on!
The link below is to Elzhi's website where you can download the unmixedtape in full or track by track for free, or you can choose to support by buying a physical copy.
I'm not familiar with I.B.E., but he's got a free mixtape called The Feel out now, so I'm about to be. Link is below the video.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I looked in my inbox today and was happy to see an email from Duck Down Records giving me a link to an EP that their artists Kidz In The Hall are giving away.
Here is what they had to say in the email:
This Holiday Season Kidz In The Hall are treating their fans to an early gift in the form of a free album entitled The Professional Leisure Tour presented by L-R-G. The 13 track freEP features all original music from the group which was mostly recorded last month on the road during Kidz In The Hall's National US Tour.
The Professional Leisure Tour is a prelude to Kidz In The Hall's next studio album, Land Of Make Believe, currently scheduled for a March 9th, 2010 release date. Today, "Jukebox," the lead single from Land Of Make Believe, is available at iTunes & all digital retail outlets.
I'm a fan of Kidz In The Hall (although to be honest, some of their stuff takes a few listens to grow on me - like their last album, for instance), so you know I followed the link immediately and downloaded it. I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I would assume it's good shit. Plus, it's free. If you like what you hear, then think about buying the single on iTunes to support. And, look out for the official album next year. Free music is a great way to motivate me to spend my hard earned money the next time around. Such was definitely the case with Atmosphere. Damn, Duck Down has come back in a big way in the last couple of years, huh?
Link is below. Enjoy!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
It bothers me when artists re-release an album with a couple of new songs and expect people to buy the thing all over again. A few other artists have done this. Jay-Z pulled this dick move a few years back by re-releasing Blueprint 2 as a shrunken version of itself with two added songs called Blueprint 2.1. In pretty much everyone's opinion including mine, he could have done this from the beginning, as there were a handful of tracks that we all can agree could have easily never been heard by anyone without complaint ("As One" anyone?). But, now I'm supposed to buy an album for 2 songs? I'd be especially pissed if the internet didn't exist. But, since it does, I am just annoyed at this type of thing. Eminem is next in line with Relapse: Refill. Refill contains 7 "new" tracks previously unreleased. Or, at least, previously unavailable when purchasing Relapse. So, I listened a few times and here's my quick take on it track by track.
"Forever" - Everyone's heard this song by now. It's been floating around for months, and while Em's verse is the one everyone was anticipating, and is not surprisingly the best verse on the song by far, it doesn't feel like it's his song. It feels like he's just being featured on it. It feels out of place on this collection and was probably an afterthought included only because of the attention it's been getting due to the lineup (and his verse).
"Hell Breaks Loose" contains more of the Relapse style, but is clearly a cutting room floor-type song, complete with Dr. Dre sounding ridiculous while spitting Eminem-penned lyrics in full Eminem style. It came off sounding really awkward. When Dre's on a song with Em he should really have someone else write his lyrics. There has to be some kind of contrast in style and delivery, or it just sounds dumb in my opinion.
"Buffalo Bill" is an interesting psychopathic song, probably just as strong as the ones that actually appeared on Relapse. I guess some have to be forgone, but this is fucking nuts. And, the Yoda voice keeps the humor in it.
"Elevator" is a good song, not a great song. Kind of a celebration of success. His rise is pretty amazing when you think about it. He did grind for a while. Say what you want about his whiteness - you may have a point, but still, he paid his fucking dues.
"Taking My Ball", the song that was exclusive to the DJ Hero game for what? A month?, is kinda funny. The wordplay is undeniably dope. But, the song comes off as just average though.
"Music Box" is a song I could see being on the original Relapse. Another Psychotic narrative, but I think this one is better than "Buffalo Bill".
"Drop The Bomb On Em" - Well goddamn this song is sick and there's no other way to put it. I'm loving this one.
Overall, like I said before I'm still annoyed that Slim and his label decided to repackage an existing album that was just released this year with some new tracks, pretend they are doing it "for the fans" and expect them to pay for it. If it's for the fans then just leak the shit on the internet, and let the fans have it. In my opinion, as far as the flow and the way he puts words together, Em is at the top of his game and making lesser MCs look foolish. Concept wise, at times I think he just goes through the motions sometimes and should be much further along at this point in his career. But, we'll see what next year's release of Relapse 2 brings.
This collection definitely doesn't suck. I actually think it's pretty good. It just feels like several of them have similar styles to what ended up being on the album that was released. Meaning he picked what he thought were the best ones, and these were left out. For a reason. So, I don't think it's right to put the album out again with these added and expect people to buy. It is worth the listen. I just don't think it necessary or ethical to charge for it, so I wouldn't say it's worth the purchase. Relapse 2 probably will be.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Greenhouse is MCs Blueprint and Illogic. Both are from Columbus, Ohio. I can vouch for the talent of both. And not just from recordings. I saw Illogic perform twice with Ill Poetic - once at the Gypsy Hut in Cincinnati when I just happened to be there drinking, and more recently when they opened for Brother Ali et al. on the Fresh Air Tour at Skully's in Columbus. Blueprint is signed to Rhymesayers and performed at Scribble Jam 2008 in Cincinnati. Also, there was an encore of sorts at the Ali show a couple of weeks ago where Blueprint (whom I saw in the club earlier) jumped on stage and performed a couple of tracks. We ducked out as Ali was seemingly ending the show though, so I didn't get the chance to see it. But, both have good stage presence and can rock a crowd.
I'm not going to get into the syle of these two because this is a free EP, so just fucking download it and listen. What do you have to lose? It's only six tracks, so you won't even lose much time. You do have to pay attention to appreciate it though - meaning this is some progressive hip hop shit right here. So, take a break from what you're doing while you listen. I like this EP a lot, and it has me ready for a full-length (and a new album from Blueprint which he promises is coming soon too). I think most will like it too. A link to the site is below. Click on "Download Album". It asks for an email address, so they can give you updates. No big deal. They're trying to build up some direct marketing contacts. You can always opt-out if they get to be too much, or if by some chance you don't like the music. Enjoy! And if you download, say thank you and give feedback.
"Waiting on a record deal is like waiting for FEMA"
UPDATE: If you liked the freestyle above, check out another one Kam did over Marco Polo's "Oh Really" beat from KRS and Buckshot's album.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
And by the way, "Takeover" > "Ether"
I definitely like his beat choice for the most part, and I like his unique flow. No one spits like Freeway. He doesn't stick to the typical rhyme scheme. His is very unusual. He kinda rhymes words together when he wants to - doing things like saving the last line in one bar for rhyming somewhere in his next few lines rather than in the current one. The rhymes come though eventually. I don't and can't listen to it non-stop, but I like it. Some people don't. The criticism that was given me was just for not liking Freeway in the first place not the quality of this specific mixtape. Which brings me to my point.
The Beat Made Me Do It is not a good mixtape, or a good representation of what Freeway can do musically. Not at all. I had the chance to listen on Sunday on my way to watch football. I was very disappointed. While people that don't like Freeway would say I'm dumb for having higher expectations in the first place, I stand by the statement that he has been putting out a lot of quality music lately. This mixtape is not an example of that though. A lot of dumb songs with weak rhymes and annoying beats. There were a couple in the begining that I liked - it got off to a decent enough start - but, it kept going downhill, and by the end was at rock bottom. If looking for some better stuff from Freeway I'd check out The Calm Before The Storm mixtape. I think Freeway will be able to redeem himself early next year with the album he's doing with Jake One called The Stimulus Package on Rhymesayers. Let's hope so.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
I've been waiting for the chance to see Brother Ali live since I heard The Undisputed Truth in 2007 and started seeing footage of him performing. So, when the Fresh Air Tour was announced this summer featuring Toki Wright, Evidence (Dilated Peoples), DJ BK-One, and Ali I knew I had to go if it stopped anywhere close to Cincinnati.
Last Saturday, November 14th was the day I had been waiting for for months. I drove up to Columbus with my wife and met some friends for the show. We arrived there about an hour early, expecting to have to deal with some kind of crowd. There wasn't one. We walked into the bar/club to meet our friends, and there were maybe five other patrons there. If it wasn't for some light activity on the stage behind the half-drawn curtain and a poster inside advertising the date of the show I would've thought we were there on the wrong day. We sat there for a while and then I asked the bartender about the will-call where we were supposed to pick up our tickets for the show. It didn't look like there was one, and I was right. There wasn't. There is just a guy that shows up to sit outside and let people in - and he wasn't there yet. She later told me that he wouldn't be there until 9pm....funny, since the show is advertised as beginning at 8pm. That fact though didn't seem to matter to anyone but us, as no one else had even shown up yet.
Now I've noticed that there is a vicious cycle that tends to take place at hip hop concerts - at least the ones I've been to. The show never starts on time...ever. Because they are always behind, people now wait until late to show up. Because people are late to show up, the crowd is not filled out when the artists arrive. So, they don't want to take the stage to a scene of a half-filled venue of people just milling around and talking. It looks bad, and uninspiring. So, the show takes even longer to get going, and the cycle continues.
Shortly after 9pm, the venue owners further displayed their incompetence at hosting events, as they took out a notebook with names, a hand stamp which turned out to be an easily replicated black smudge, and asked everyone in the bar that was staying for the show to step outside and get in line to show their proof of purchase and I.D. or pay for a ticket. There were no tickets, by the way. Needless to say I am now confident of my ability not to pay these idiots next time they hold an event there. Unfortunately, this would take money away from the artits in most cases.
As we sat in the front of the building watching people outside while we waited, in walks Evidence, followed by Toki Wright, followed by Brother Ali. They stood in front of us talking to some people, so I got up from my seat and took the opportunity to meet them. I shook hands with Ali, told him I liked the new album and was excited for the show, and he thanked me for coming out. I also got to meet Evidence. So, that was cool. It's nice when these MCs you admire are approachable and gracious for your support. Everyone, but Ali actually sat at the merch table for a while before the show and during the other sets. BK-One sat there talking with people and selling records and t-shirts until it was time for him to take the stage.
Because my wife is pregnant, we took the opportunity to go up to the balcony they had in the club to view the show with out getting deep into the crowd. Normally, I would've maneuvered as close to the stage as possible and enjoyed it with the other fans. The opening act was Ill Poetic (of Cincy) and Illogic (of Columbus). I've seen these two in Cincy before - both are talented MCs, but after waiting two additional hours for things to get started, I just wanted to hear The Rhymesayers and was kind of annoyed that we'd be waiting even longer.
Once they finished, BK-One (who handled all Rhymesayers' sets) took the stage with Toki Wright. Toki had a tough job. The crowd had filled out by this point, but it wasn't nearly as packed as I thought it would be in there. Toki had to do his best to get the audience into it after a long wait with his songs which many people in attendaence might not have heard before. But, his experience as a hype man, stage presence, and delivery had everyone feeling him quick. Toki performed several songs from his album A Different Mirror (I recommend it to everyone - it's great) and got a great response. But, just as he was wrapping up his set, BK's laptop went dead, halting the show. After almost an hour of waiting, I was about ready to say 'fuck it' and ask for my money back on the way out the door.
Finally, they got things working again and Evidence took the stage with BK behind him to quickly offer an explanation and start his set. I was surprised by how quickly things got back to the same level they were at before. I'm not a big fan of Evidence myself, but there were definitely quite a few people there who were excited to see him. And, the performance he gave was great. He took total command of the crowd as he performed solo and group records including Dilated's Kanye-assisted hit "This Way". And everyone was into it. Especially the bald guy in all black a few rows back from the stage who was dancing and throwing his hands up with everyone else like he belonged in the crowd. It was Brother Ali! I definitely have a new respect for Evidence after seeing him live. I put The Platform on my iPod when I got home (an album I bought in stores years ago, and was kinda disappointed with) to give it another listen.
Next, Toki came back to the stage to introduce Ali. Ali took the stage and apologized for the hold up, before announcing that we were gonna have a party up in there not 'see a show'. He then went right into "The Preacher" from US. Ali obviously had the crowd from the start and his dominating stage presence made it all seem effortless. He was genuinely loving the experience of sharing his music with his fans. He ripped through song after song from US, as well as some notables from his older albums - "Room With A View" and "Forest Whitaker" from Shadows On The Sun, "Truth is", "Uncle Sam Goddamn", "Walking Away", "Take Me Home" from The Undisputed Truth and more.
About halfway through his set with his voice clearly strained from the 40+ shows they had done so far on the tour, Ali left the stage to BK-One who cut up a track from his brazilian-themed hip hop compilation Radio Do Canibal (another great album that I talked about in previous posts). During the performance he had a screen behind him that showed some original videos to go along with the music at times - two memorable ones were for "House Keys" and "Forest Whitaker". The latter was made up of a collection of people (including Ali and his wife) who one by one held a sign in their hands displaying one of their shortcomings, and later turning the sign over to reveal how this fault of theirs is actually a gift that helps make them who they are. Ali performed for well over an hour and gave us all what we were there to see: one of today's best MCs at the top of his game, sharing his life with us in song form. By the end there was also no question in my mind that he brought the right people along with him for this tour - especially BK-One who's passion shows on his face the whole time he is on stage. The Fresh Air Tour in Columbus, despite a few mishaps, kicked ass and is another very memorable hip hop show, uh, party, for me.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Would you look at that? Just when I think 50 Cent can't get any more pathetic he goes and proves me wrong. Damn. He will literally do anything to get attention short of making good music won't he? Sad...just sad. "I Go Off"?? I wish he'd just go away. Not Beans though. As far as him, I just wish he'd finally make a good album. Something tells me it won't come from a G-Unit deal though. M.O.P, Mobb Deep, Mase...
IllRoots provides the link below. Comments??
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
One of my favorite things to come from the internet as far as hip hop goes is collections of original samples being made available to regular hip hop heads like myself. I know that some producers hate this because they like to keep some of those records secret (after all they did the hard work of diggin' to find that perfect sound), but dammit I can't get enough.
From albums replacing each song on a specific album with their corresponding sampled record(s) to collections by crate diggers like DJ Neil Armstrong, DJ Muro, and Lord Finnesse, being able to hear these songs in their entirety (instead of just the obvious ones - everyone's heard "Footsteps in the Dark" or "Between the Sheets" by The Isley Brothers for example) really makes the fans appreciate the art of sampling by certain producers much much more. This does not come easy at all for hip hop producers, and I think these collections really make that much apparent. And listening to a track by say Ahmad Jamal or David Axelrod (or someone more obscure or just simply not thought of along with the hip hop genre) and coming across that one part of the record that was turned into a completely new record for an MC to rhyme to is simply amazing. It makes listening to hip hop generally more fun in my opinion. Additionally, these sample collections make me aware of some great music that I would have never heard before (accept in the samples).
For more on this topic, see earlier posts about 9th Wonder, DJ Premier, and others on here. And if you want some sample collections, let me know and I'll see if I can point you in the right direction.
I don't know how everyone else feels, but I always find these kinda stories interesting.
I really don't care about his new label venture personally. My pessimistic attitude based on past MCs doing this (virtually all of them who've attained any kind of success) leads me to believe it will only lead to more mediocre music (at best) being released when all anyone really wants to hear is the label owner spit verses. But, who knows? Maybe he'll prove me wrong in the future. Maybe I'll also be proved wrong about this album being way too overhyped to ever live up to what people are hoping for. We shall see very soon. Despite my doubts, I'm hoping for the best. A great new album by The R would make my year (and everyone else's I'm sure).
Also, look below for the tracklist to the upcoming album, The 7th Seal. He's keeping some stuff secret, but this is what I could gather as far as producers and guest verses. What do you think?
1. How To Emcee (Prod. DJ Slyce)
2. Walk These Streets F. Maino (Prod. Needlz)
3. Documentary Of A Gangsta
4. Man Above (Prod. Nick Wiz)
5. You And I
6. Won’t Be Long (Prod. Jake One)
7. Holy Are U (Prod. Nick Wiz)
8. Satisfaction Guaranteed
9. Working For You (Prod. Jake One)
10. Message In The Song
11. Put It All To Music (Prod. Poppa Pillz)
12. Psychic Love (Prod. Nick Wiz)
13. Still In Love F. Busta Rhymes
14. Dedicated (Prod. Nick Wiz)
Anyone heard either/both of these albums yet? I have. They kinda suck I'm sorry to say. And I would consider myself a fan of 8Ball. I was hoping for much more. When I was growing up 8Ball & MJG were one of my favorite duos. They put Memphis on the map and paved the way for countless talented MCs (and even more untalented ones) out of the southern states. I grew up listening to these guys the same as I did artists like Scarface, 2Pac, EPMD, Spice 1, UGK, A Tribe Called Quest, and countless others. But, after listening to these two volumes of work I think I just may stop bothering to pay attention.
Volume 1 On The Grind begins disappointingly and never really gets any better. Throwaway songs about strippers and candy-painted cars and annoying skits with nothing but random phone messages. Seriously? Have people not yet figured out that no one wants to listen to an interlude with a guy playing his voice mail messages? What a waste of time this is. And, by the way could a club song get any more generic and awful than telling girls to "shake what your momma gave ya" in the hook? You're still saying that, huh? Couldn't think of anything else? Anything at all?
Volume 2 Derty On Purpose offers a little more than the first album does, though not much. At least the pointless 'Checkin Messages' skits were excluded this time. The last track "Karma" was good I will say. But, in addition to having all of his untalented boys spit a verse on each song, most of the songs are as boring and unoriginal as what is found on the first disc. One notable example is a terrible stripper anthem over a sample of Jodeci's "Freak 'N' You" called "Dollaz". And it's too bad. 8Ball & MJG both deserve much better at this stage in their career. Their deal with Bad Boy should have given them the right exposure to earn a group platinum plaque and cemented them as two MCs that still maintain relevance today. It didn't happen, and I haven't heard any music from them since that impressed me.
I know my tastes have changed and my brain matured since I was bumping On The Outside Looking In and On Top Of The World regularly in my tape deck. I know this. There's an argument to be made that a listen today might be more enjoyable for nostalgic reasons than other measures of a great hip hop album (we will see soon as I do just this later this week). But, fuck all that. 8Ball & MJG could rhyme their asses off. And I liked them for their style, their flow, and their stories. Their overall sound provided by Suave House was something I hadn't heard before. But, today it seems like 8Ball is content with following the current trend of popular southern rap music. A trend he helped start of course, but that others have bastardized. Both volumes are full of generic southern club beats with no soul to them. The topics are what those with no range of life experience would stick to. And, at 8Ball's age can he really claim this ignorance that short changes his fans? There's hardly any substance here at all and it's disappointing because 8Ball should be one of the ones leading the way - not becoming another sheep to try and sell a few more records. I'm not saying he has to change his style or adopt some kind of a conscious message. But, is it too much to ask for a little creativity?
Monday, November 9, 2009
UPDATE: Here's a little something extra. A video for Buckshot & 9th Wonder's track 'Go All Out' from The Formula. Charlie Murphy is featured telling a 'True Hip Hop Story' about how he invented "Backpack Rap". I can't believe I didn't come across this until now, but it's fucking hilarious!
Ok, not a whole lot of new info on the upcoming Reflection Eternal project here, but just seeing it is getting me pumped up for them to come back. I hope I'm not getting my hopes up too high here. But, I'm expecting great things. Interview is by Distortion 2 Static.
UPDATE: Just for fun, I've included the song that introduced me to Talib Kweli initially. Well kind-of. Let's say it made me take notice. This is "The Manifesto" from Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1 produced by DJ Hi-Tek. I believe this is the first time they appear as Reflection Eternal. The compilation was released in 1998 and was definitely one of the most played albums by me that year. Obviously, being from Cincinnati I already new of Hi-Tek from his work as part of Mood. Their album Doom released in 1997 actually featured Kweli. But, like I said this song made me really take notice of Kweli's skills. This is not a music video - just an image while the audio plays. But, audio is all you need.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Also, if you haven't heard Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero, there's a nice cover of this song on it.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Sean Price: Kimbo Price (A Prequel To Mic Tyson) - Sean P never disappoints. So, if you are a fan of the way he walks the line between hardcore and humorous I'd be sure to pick this one up before Mic Tyson drops. P!!!!!!!!
Masta Ace & Ed O.G.: A&E - Arts & Entertainment, Ace & Ed, I'm not sure what it stands for now that the television station stepped in to cause problems with the project. The album gets off to kind of a slow start, but once it gets going these two veterans are off and running. Songs like "A's & E's" and "Little Young" provide a platforms for Ace & Ed to play to their lyrical strengths and prove them to be a truly dynamic duo. Some songs are just average, but I think this is worth tossing in the iPod for a few months.
Sha Stimuli: My Soul To Keep - After some amazing mixtapes (including 12 in 12 months) that made me a fan Sha finally dropped this studio album. Right now I'm a little underwhelmed with it. The sound of the album was so similar track by track that it got a little boring. This isn't helped by the fact that Sha never really switches up his flow. There is some serious subject matter here, and he clearly has a vision for this album. I just think it could have been executed better. Oh, and "The Smelly Cat Song" would have fit better on one of his mixtape and should have been excluded from this project. It didn't fit at all with the rest of the album.
Crooked I: Mr. Pigface Weapon Waist EP - 7 tracks (6 songs) and Crooked I has released some of the best gangsta shit from the west I've heard in a long time. The beats are hard, the rhymes are hard, and the cover cracks me up every time I see it. The whole sound just screams out west coast hip hop. On this EP, Crooked does what Game wishes he could.
Freeway: The Calm Before The Storm mixtape - So, Freeway is an MC you either love or hate it seems. I've always been a fan. He disappointed me for a short while, but is at the top of his game right now with several projects in the works. This tape is an indication of what to expect on those projects and is well worth the listen. No one can match Free's delivery which I'll just simply describe as unorthodox, and if you like his style, you will like this mixtape like I do.
Kam Moye (AKA Supastition): Splitting Image - Anyone who's heard Supastition rhyme before knows that he can be a fucking beast. But this album, while still lyrically dense goes in a more personal direction. Because the subject matter is, as he puts it, 100% of himself, North Carolina emcee Supastition has decided to drop his moniker for this album and go with his name, Kam Moye. After listening, it's easy to see why. Kam delves into a lot of different issues and parts of himself on this unbelievable new release. I can't remember ever being impressed with Kam like I am with this album. Full of honesty and depth, as well as great rhymes, Splitting Image has some of the best hip hop I've heard all year. As he said himself on the opening track 'RE: Born', "I'm heavy, I don't mean physically, I mean lyrically". Trust me when I say you will not be disappointed with this album.
DJ Jazzy Jeff: He's The King, I'm The DJ - It's always nice to hear a collection of MJ music, and Jazzy Jeff does a great job putting it all together with some hip hop influence (meaning those hip hop records that used MJ's music). This is a quality mixtape.
Kid Cudi: Man On The Moon - The first time I listened to this I was bored to death. So, let me do you a favor and let you know up front that this is a down-tempo album all the way through. It does not pick up really at all. So, wait until you're in the mood for something a little slower and less hard hitting. However, make sure you are also in the mood to really listen. There are some really interesting songs offered on Man On The Moon, and Cudi knows how to speak on his type of track. I liked a lot of the lyrics, and the melodies pulled me in after a while. I wasn't a fan of Cudi before - I heard a mixtape earlier in the year, or late last year that I thought was horrible (though I may revisit it now) - but after giving Man On The Moon a second chance I am starting to change my opinion. I don't think that fans would be receptive to Kid Cudi if Kanye West hadn't come first with his own sound and then co-signed him, but I'm glad he did. This is a different sound for hip hop. It's not always what I'm in the mood for, but I'm glad it'll be there when I am.
DJ Revolution: Class of '86 - I'm not sure if this came out this year or not, but I just came across it. The title describes it - a collection of the best music from 1986 with Rev on the turntables. What else do you need to know?
Idle Warship & Mick Boogie: Party Robot - Nice to have a full mixtape from the Warship - especially a free mixtape put together by Mick Boogie. Talib Kweli, Res, and Graph Nobel make up the collective known as Idle Warship, a group offering dance music with a soul. Who says party music has to be simple and unimaginative?
Chace Infinite: I Would Have Killed This mixtape - Not sure what I think of this yet either. Here, Chace rhymes over beats that his Self Scientific partner DJ Khalil produced for other artists. Some you will surely recognize, some you may not. While Chace is definitely a talented MC, I don't agree that he killed every beat he spit over on this mixtape. There is some quality material here though.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
In the spirit of things (kind of) here is a video of Exile and DJ Day playing around with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" for an audience. I saw it yesterday and thought it was pretty dope, so check it out and tell me what you think.
Also, if you haven't heard Exile's work on Fashawn's debut Boy Meets World (he produces the whole album), it is a MUST LISTEN...seriously.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Apparently this went down before or after the taping of the BET cypher they did (see it here if you haven't already http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlw3WIct0Qg). It's cool to see a great MC openly praising another great MC's work like this here. Word for word though?? Damn.
My top ten list is pretty damn cluttered, but Black Thought belongs on there. Tell me that after seeing this shit, you don't want to immediately pull out your "Rising Down" CD and give this joint it's 200th + listen. No need to get up. The video link is posted below.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Royce Da 5'9" Feat. Phonte - "Something 2 Ride 2"
Saigon Feat. Grand Puba - "Who Can Get Busy"
Slaughterhouse Feat. Pharoahe Monch - "Salute"
KRS-One & Buckshot Feat. Pharoahe Monch - "One Shot"
Krs-One & Buckshot Feat. Talib Kweli - "Oh Really"
Now, what is it that all of these songs have in common? Anyone? Give up?
They are all "featuring" some of hip hop's best MCs, yet each one of them stop short of having an actual verse delivered by the guest. What the fuck is going on?!?!?! Why have these artists on an album in the first place if it's just to record a hook? Do these names read like a list of background singers to you? Me either. Me either. And, I'm tired of getting excited about a new track just to be disappointed when the end comes without a verse from someone of, say Pharoahe fucking Monch's caliber. I thought one was bad. But, two features like this from him with no verse in a year's time. Are you fucking kidding me?! There's no reason for this. It makes me want to return the CD on principal alone. It's fucking false advertising is what it is. We the fans have been cheated.
So, to all MCs that I have respect for that are planning on releasing an album in the near future - please, please, please - respect your fans, and respect the artists that you work with for your album - ask them to bless you with a verse. This isn't Nate Dogg you asked to record with you afterall. It's Grand Puba. Act like you fucking know.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
"Pump It Up" original video. Sorry, embedding was disabled on this one, so here's the link.
I'm digging the concept of this album. It works throughout, and the vocal samples that were used as characters in the story were clever; Guru, random Harrison Ford lines, and a track delivering the main character rejection after rejection from hip hop's best.
In a year without a concept/story album release by Masta Ace (though I haven't heard the A&E collaboration with Ed O.G. yet to know the form that that album takes) it's nice to have something like this from another MC.
And Esoteric does a great job putting it all together as Seamus plans a proposal, is robbed, and goes on a mission to get revenge while simultaneously trying to make a living off of his music. A lot of creativity here - not the least of which is the exploration of the joy experienced with man's best friend on the story's anchors.
On a side note, speaking of Masta Ace, he fittingly makes a real appearance on Saving Seamus Ryan.
Definitely give this one a listen if you like albums with a plot to them. It's one of my favorites this year.
Monday, October 26, 2009
If you are a fan of Gift of Gab like I am, then you've probably heard that he has a new album dropping soon entitled Escape 2 Mars (cover pictured above) - let's hope for a new Blackalicious record soon as well. Here goes a new track off the album featuring the likes of two other favorite MCs of mine (and hopefully of most) Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Brother Ali (both of whom have new material out this year as well). The song's called "Dreamin'". Each MC takes his own approach to the concept, which is fresh. And, the song is great all around. I'm still trying to grasp everything Gab has to say though. I got lost in his flow a few times. The link's below. Comment on it if you listen.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Sage Francis - Sick Of Wasting... - Sage is a really talented, but underrated lyricist ranging from the political to introspective to ridiculous - but, all delivered with lyrical depth. Honestly, I don't really listen to him that much either. He's the kind of MC you really have to be in the mood for. Good stuff here though.
Fashawn - Boy Meets World - This album is a must listen. Newcomer Fashawn (you may have come across some mixtapes) offers a really solid debut full of well thought out material and real life experiences - not some made up alter-ego shit. Listening to this will leave you amazed that he's only 20 years old. It's a really personal album. Produced in it's entirety by Exile (that's enough reason to listen right there) this is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of the year.
Royce Da 5'9" - Street Hop - My expectations were extremely high for this one from Royce, but I'm a little let down. It wasn't the undeniable classic I was hoping for. Not to say that Royce didn't deliver at all. He's definitely one of the best MCs out today and proves it on here, but after a couple of weak songs, and several good ones that I've heard already (don't release a four-song EP if you're just gonna slap those on the album - we'll wait), Street Hop left me wanting more - and not in a good way.
Cormega - Born & Raised - If you like Mega, you'll like this. This is a great album full of what you'd expect from him. Production by everyone you could want. Preemo, Pete Rock, Large Pro, Khrysis, Havoc, Nottz, and more. Songs that are raw and hardcore, but full of substance at the same time. Plus a final track featuring a handful of legends. Don't sleep on this one.
Tab-One - The Tabloids - Member of NC's Kooley High, this album is definitely worth checking out.
Amen - Queens Boulevard - As some of you can tell from the title this is Entourage-related. I believe this is the second of a three part series. I have the first, but I can't remember what it's called right now. Anyway, Amen can rhyme, and this album has some quality material. A producer going by the name of Johnny Drama is a bit much, but whatever. The music's good.
Download The Right Thing - This is a nice collection of what Duck Down Records has been up to recently. Listen to this with tracks from most of the BCC, Marco Polo & Torae, Kidz In The Hall, Skyzoo, Blue Scholars, and more and see why the label's resurgance has been a blessing to hip hop. P!
Diamond District - The Diamond Exchange Mixtape - The LP will drop soon, but this is a pre-album mixtape. I don't remember hearing anything about this group effort before I came across this collection, but the group consists of Oddisee, XO, and YU.
Camp Lo - Another Heist - While they'll probably never create something of the same caliber as Uptown Saturday Night, this is a welcome change from their last couple of releases (that mixtape included). I'm liking this one a lot.
Krayzie Bone Presents: The Bum Keef G - It's nice to hear the Bone members once in a while, and 4 of 5 are featured prominently on this album (Flesh=Yes; Bizzy=No). Aside from that, the album was mehh.
People Under The Stairs - Carried Away - Some new music from one of the funnest groups in hip hop. Not much to say specifically after 1.5 listens, but it makes me think that I should probably be listening to these guys more often. "Trippin' At The Disco" is on repeat in my ipod...And the video is classic. I'll post it later if I remember. If not, just YouTube it.
Ares - A Red Eye Smokin' - Detroit continues offering up good hip hop with this album from MCs Slautah and Alius Pnukkl.
Mr. J. Medeiros - Friends Enemies Apples Apples - From the seemingly most productive member of The Procussions, this is another album of great songs by Mr. J. If you're not familar with him, you'll be glad you gave him a chance.