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.