Saturday, December 31, 2011
Because the line between albums, EPs, and mixtapes has been further blurred in Hip Hop, I just put together a list of my top 25 favorite projects of the year, an honorable mention list for other projects I recommend, and a list of some of my favorite songs (which I have conveniently included a link for, if you're interested). I try not to be too negative on here anymore, as it's much more productive to talk about the things I like. But, there are a few disappointments that I felt I had to mention as well.
Try not to take the order too seriously. Good is good. But, please feel free to agree or disagree (if you dare. Ha!). And, do what you can to support the artists you like. See ya in 2012.
Top 25 Projects
The Roots - Undun
Talib Kweli - Gutter Rainbows
9th Wonder - The Wonder Years
Money Making Jam Boys mixtape
Big K.R.I.T. - Return of 4Eva mixtape
Atmosphere - The Family Sign
Pharoahe Monch - W.A.R.
Zion I & The Grouch - Heroes in the Healing of a Nation
Skyzoo - The Great Debater
Jean Grae - Cookies or Comas mixtape
Jermiside - Live & Let Live
Kendrick Lamar - Section 80
eLZhi - Elmatic
Cunninlynguists - Oneirology
Fresh Daily - The Quiet Life
DJ JS-1 - No One Cares
Focus - Music of the Misinterpreted
Pete Rock & Smif N Wessun - Monumental
Hassaan Mackey & Apollo Brown - Daily Bread
Evidence - Cats & Dogs
Phonte - Charity Starts at Home
Tanya Morgan - You & What Army EP
J-Live - S.P.T.A.
Other Notables (25 More Ha!)
Consequence - MOD 2
MC Esoteric - Boston Pharaoh
Fashawn - Higher Learning 2
Malcolm & Martin - Life Doesn't Frighten Me
80 Blocks From Tiffany's mixtape
Edo G. - A Face in the Crowd
Fly Union - TGTC
One Be Lo - Laborhood 1
Outasight - Figure 8 EP
Astronote - Weapon of the Future
The Doppelgangaz - Lone Sharks
Bad Meets Evil
STS - The Illustrious (STS is GOLD)
Casual - The Hierophant
Apathy - Honkey Kong
Rapper Big Pooh - Dirty Pretty Things/Fat Boy Fresh Vol. 1 mixtape
yU - The Earn
A-Plus - Pepper Spray
The Away Team - Scars & Stripes
Torae - For The Record
Strange Fruit Project - A Dreamer's Journey
The Black Keys - El Camino
Self Scientific - Songs of the Blackhearted EP
Murs & Ski Beatz - Love & Rockets Vol. 1
M.O.P & Snowgoons - Sparta
Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told - This album got a love, but I think it's bullshit. You'd think after how ever many years it took to get this out he would've come with an undeniable classic. But, I'm denying it. The whole thing sounded thrown together to me, and was overall boring.
Lupe Fiasco - Lasers - Give me a fucking break.
Watch The Throne - No doubt this album was a defining one of 2011. There is some good material on it, but lyrically I think it fell way short of expectations. Plus, "Lift Off" and "Made in America" are two of the worst songs I've heard all year by any artist.
Some Favorite Songs
"25th Hour" - Reks (prod. by DJ Premier)
"AfriKingStyle" - Spec Boogie
"Back to Back" - Fresh Daily
"Beautifully Bad" - Idle Warship
"Black Hand Side" - Pharoahe Monch f/ Styles P. & Phonte
"Chewbacca" - Random Axe f/ Roc Marciano
"Dance Pants" - Recess f/ Donwill
"Daydreams" - Green Street f/ Donwill
"Designer Drugs" - Skyzoo
"Distractions" - Talib Kweli
"Dreamin' - Big K.R.I.T.
"Epic Salutations" - Murs & Ski Beatz
"Fake I.D." - Consequence f. Q-Tip, Large Professor, & Havoc
"Fast Lane" - Edo G. (prod. by DJ Premier)
"For Certain" - Oddisee f/ Diamond District
"I Used to be Vegan" - Zion I & The Grouch
"Kidnap Your Boyfriend" - George Watsky
"Make Some Noise" - Beastie Boys
"I-10" - Murs & Whole Wheat Bread
"One Time" - Rapsody f/ Tab One, Charlie Smarts & Phonte
"Palin/Vick" - MC Esoteric
"Put Some Money On It Remix" - Slaughterhouse f/ The Lox
"R.I.P." - Jean Grae f/ Style P. & Talib Kweli
"Shady 2.0 BET Cypher" - Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse, & Eminem
"The Times" - Apollo Brown f/ Oddisee
"Whatever That's Mine" - Tanya Morgan
"You Don't Like It (So What)" - Jean Grae
Link: Favorite Songs of 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Salaam recently put out an EP titled Music Is My Weapon which you can purchase on his website http://www.hasansalaammusic.com/. Though the title is much more than a metaphor in this case. Instead of explaining the project here, click the video below and hear it from Salaam himself.
Overall, I like the EP. It's 9 tracks deep, and most are pretty good. My favorite would probably have to be "Shining" which features Salaam alongside Steele (of Smif 'N' Wessun), Reef The Lost Cause, and Chace Infinite (the lyrical half of Self Scientific). My least favorite may have to be a track most others seem to like, "AK-47", if for nothing else than its all-too-familiar subject matter. The personification of a gun is about as original in Hip Hop as the personification of Hip Hop itself (as a female), and I'm fucking tired of it.
Listen to a preview on his website or YouTube and support his cause for under $10. Also, since 100% of proceeds from this album go to the village in Africa, consider picking up the MoDanger album as well, and put some well-deserved money in Salaam's pocket. Good Hip Hop needs to be supported.
Since becoming aware of him through his first collaboration with 9th Wonder, Murs has quickly climbed into my favorite MCs list. Here is a video he put online recently for one of the tracks off of Love & Rockets.
"'67 Cutlass" was descriptive enough to paint a clear picture without visuals, but this video, with animated additions, really succeeds at adding some humor to the song.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
For the xmas season, Jean Grae & Mela Machinko team up as the Hellpit Faeries to spread some holiday cheer with a FreEp. And, to top it off they shot this video "It's the Most Fucking Wonderful Time of the Year" with an iPhone. Merry Muthaphuckin' Xmas to all!!!
It's The Most Fucking Wonderful Time - Hellpit Faeries from W.A.R. Media on Vimeo.
Jingle Fucking Bells FreEp
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
That's okay with me though. He had classics, sure. But, if I want that I can listen to those albums. There's no need to repeat it. I like when artists grow and try new things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But, the risk is worth it. The risk is what can end producing something new that works.
I finally watched this past week's episode of Hell on Wheels on AMC, which Common has a major role in. I like the show. Though I thought it was a big mistake for Common to premier (a sneak peak of) his new music video for "Celebrate" right after it ended. To me, it kind of hurt the integrity of the show, and of Common as an actor.
Hell on Wheels after all is not The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (remember when they premiered the video for "Summertime" after that show?). It is a period piece taking place in the mid 19th Century just after the Civil War. The audience spends an hour sinking into that reality only to be jolted out of it, out of the realness of the characters, when Common presents himself in a tuxedo at a present day party scene.
If he wants to be taken seriously as an actor, on AMC, he should just act. There's no need to push the music on people. I think his people probably thought it would be good for him to reach out to the audience of the show who may not know his music. But, this is forced. Just branching out with the acting gets Common's name and image out to these new audiences. After putting himself out there though, it would have been wiser to sit back and let the audience come to him.
All that said, "Celebrate" is a nice song and video, and a good choice for a single. Drop me a line here or on Twitter and let me know what you think.
Monday, December 19, 2011
The more I listen to Undun the more I enjoy it. The story, at first, wasn't completely clear to me. But, it wasn't needed. The songs really have the ability to stand on their own without their larger concept attached. This makes it all the more impressive that The Roots were able to weave in a story. And, it's not just the verses from Black Thought and co. The band's music is thematic in and of itself, and adds to the richness of the story as it plays out.
Definitely take a listen to Undun if you haven't yet. The Roots seem to get better as time goes on, and this album is no exception. They're trying new things and challenging themselves with their approach to music, and are continually producing the kind of work that sets them apart from the rest as the premier band and torch carrier for hip hop music.
The Roots - UNDUN from The Ghettonerd Company, LLC on Vimeo.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Dwight "Heavy D" Myers was a real talent, and to hear his peers tell it, was a genuinely good person. I will miss what he brought to the Hip Hop/entertainment industry, and I'm sure his loved ones will miss the person they got to spend time with during their lifetime.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I had to post this because I haven't been able to stop playing it since I saw it posted an hour or so ago. This is a new song by Tanya Morgan called "Whatever That's Mine" off of their EP, You And What Army, that'll be out November 22nd.
Click below to d/l.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Anyway, I like Action Bronson. I wish him success. And, I'm exicted about the project he has coming with one of my favorite producer/DJs as of late, Statik Selektah. And, by the way, I love that more producers are bringing back this producing an entire album (or close to it) thing.
Below is a video from Carson Daly's show (yea, thankfully the Internet exists, right? I literally know one person that watches the show) where Action talks about some shit and freestyles. He used to be a chef too? Nice. Maybe we'll see him make an appearance on Chopped one day and knock out one of those annoying, pompous judges.
Friday, October 7, 2011
But, the average people have allowed themselves to be brainwashed. Why? Because they're fucking busy. And, they're stressed. And, they need an escape. Bullshit feels like it grants that escape into a world that's more fucked up than our own. But, it's doesn't. And, it sucks too many of our good people into it, and makes them complacent. That's how those in power control us. And, they have. For too long. We trusted this 'representative democracy' to lead us using our will. But, it has failed us. Special interests with deeper pockets than our own took it over long ago.
But, it looks like people are finally starting to rise up, and stand up, for themselves. It's a beautiful thing. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And, the bravery of citizens in other countries has inspired a lot of us here in America. If we keep it up, our elected officials are going to have to start truly answering to us. The true majority.
This right here from Kweli is beautiful...and it almost brings a tear to my eye. Check it out. Occupy Cincinnati is tomorrow. Peace. Love. Share. Change.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
9th Wonder's project The Wonder Years was probably the most impressive to me. It definitely had 9th's signature production sound. But, it also had range. It had depth. He tried new things, and really built on what he has done in the past to make the most cohesive project I've heard all year. 9th hosted an impressive array of talented MCs and singers, and did a really good job of strategically sprinkling in his Jamla artists throughout. What really put The Wonder Years over the top for me was 9th's work with Terrace Martin, whose jazz sax added the perfect element to 9th's musical backdrops. On the negative side, I still have to say that I don't get Mac Miller's appeal. He shows up here spitting rhymes that I find boring and forgettable.The good news is that even though this track didn't hold up lyrically, the beat and vocal arrangement still make it bearable.
Phonte's Charity Starts at Home is another great album from one of my favorite MCs of the last ten years. His flows are dope, his rhymes relevant and relateable, and the beats are always hittin' whether they come from 9th, Khrysis, Nicolay, or anyone else. Te has an ability to understand how words relate to each other which few can match. My complaint with this one? "New Tiggalo, New Tiggalo, New Tiggalo, New Tiggalo". That little saying was humorous the first time or two, but got extremely old after hearing it on every track. It even wound up coming off as a little pretentious in my mind.
The collaborations between Phonte & 9th Wonder on this and The Wonder Years just make it that much clearer to me that Little Brother needs to continue existing as a unit even though the members also pursue music individually. I felt Pooh was missed on these projects and it would have been nice to have them all on at least one track between the 2 albums.
I was also anticipating the debut album from Jay-Z's NC investment, J. Cole, especially since his verse over Kanye West's "Devil in a New Dress" ("Villematic") last year (or, was it earlier this year?). Cole seemed to get off to a slow start on Cole World to me, new tracks that were just ok and didn't really stick out to me were placed in between more well-known songs from previously released mixtapes.I like Cole because he spits like a young guy, but still has a depth to his content that makes him interesting. I didn't see this throughout like I did, on say Fashawn's debut. The deeper layer seemed to not appear until the later part of the album. "God's Gift" and "Breakdown" were solid, but was it weird for anyone but me that he referenced old Bone songs on two songs back to back like he did on these two? Was it weird for anyone else that he sang Paula Abdul lyrics on the next track "Work Out"? All of these things just made the album less than impressive to me. Not to say there isn't good stuff to be found here. I just hope it gets better the next time around.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Styles P. is, in my opinion, the most talented of The LOX, so I'm always interested to see what he puts together. By the way, if you're interested in hearing a collection of some of his older stuff, check out the DJ Kay Slay-hosted mixtape that was put out, shit, nearly a decade ago now. I think it's just called The Best of Styles P. (if not, you'll be seeing an update below tomorrow morning). I still pull it out once in a while. It's a great listen.
What do you think of this tracklist??
1 How We Fly f. Avery Storm
2 We Don’t Play f. Lloyd Banks
3 I’m A Gee f. Rell
4 Ryde On Da Regular
5 Keep The Faith f. Aja
6 Children f. Pharoahe Monch
7 Street Shit f. Sheek Louch
8 Feelings Gone
9 Harsh f. Rick Ross & Busta Rhymes
10 It’s Ok f. Jadakiss
11 Don’t Turn Away f. Pharrell
12 Uh-Ohh f. Sheek Louch
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
I don't think much of Mayweather as a person (of course, judging just by his public image). He seems like a grown child to me. Overly arrogant if only to cover up his massive insecurities. Claiming he doesn't care what people think of him all the while begging to be noticed by each and every one of them. But, the guy can fight. And, if you watch HBO's 24/7, you know that no one outworks him in the gym either. So, the dedication to be a winner has to be respected.
But, one thing I found laughable during the 24/7 series was Mayweather's attempt at being a hip hop mogul. Roy Jones Jr. tried the same thing years ago, remember? Didn't work. Everyone that listens to hip hop and has money, it seems, also wanted to run a label at some point.
The time has really passed for the hip hop record label mogul. That's not the way the business is anymore. The music gives more back to the individual artist for their hustle at networking and utilizing social media to get their work out there. And that change, due to Internet usage, has pushed some of the less creative business-wise (and often less talented musically) out of the game and made room for some that want to push the genre forward with new approaches to the music - the MCs, DJs, and Producers that have Hip Hop in their blood, not loud mouths looking for another hustle.
The bullshit still exists. But, I see the tide turning as labels have less and less control of listener's ears. And, rappers like Flo-Rida being signed after their biggest song is a bad idea. And Ray J? Was he on the show because he's on the label? Another bad move. Even with the help of 50 Cent, who seems to be around Mayweather, uh, 24/7, I think what was shown on HBO is some of the last you will see from Mayweather's Philthy Rich Records...depending on how many of his millions he wants to sink into making shitty club music.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
This one here for the new Blakroc project is doing what it's meant to do, build anticipation. I'm definitely looking forward to most of these MCs contributing rhymes to the Black Keys music. Helluva lineup here.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
It's disappointing. You never want to see members leave a great group. It always tends to happen as people grow and want to try other things. But, more great music will still come out of it, even if they do it separately. Hopefully, this ends up just being a hiatus and he comes back in the future.
I don't really need to reminisce because I listen to Tanya Morgan all the time, but here is an older one for you to enjoy that I haven't heard for a while. It's from 2006. It's a rough, gritty, black & white video with some nice shots of both Cincinnati and Brooklyn. Just what I need today. Directed by Ilyas, actually.
If you're not that familiar with Tanya Morgan, go and look up their catalog. It's a pretty extensive amount of material in a relatively short amount of time. And all quality hip hop. Spend some money on them. They're worth it. If you look back through this blog you'll see tons of their material as well as naming their 2008 classic Brooklynati my favorite album that year.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
It goes without saying that GZA is the king, if not the pioneer of these kinds of songs. Is there a video for "Animal Planet"? Any Wu fans wanna make one with a bunch of footage from animal documentaries? I'd do it myself, but...how bout you just do it?
Saturday, August 6, 2011
I remember back when Cincinnati's local Hip Hop/R&B radio station gave equal time to good music and they used to play it. I had it taped off the radio for a while (the remix). Right after it went off on my radio tape, I remember Aaliyah's "One In A Million" came on. I wonder if I still have that tape somewhere.
Anyway, great song. Both versions. But, does anyone else think Babyface's singing during the verses are reminiscent of Chris Isaak's big song? The one with the black and white video with the model on the beach? Just me, huh?? ok
Thursday, August 4, 2011
It was a great show though. Talib came out when he was scheduled to and ripped through a 1 hour set like the Pro he is. DJ Hi-Tek, Cincinnati native and Reflection Eternal member, showed up to play hype man and spit a few bars of his own ("The Blast"). Kweli did other greats like "Hot Thang", "Move Something", his verse off of Kanye's "Get em High" and, of course, "Get By". Mood member Dante also made a welcome appearance - Mood performed a few weeks before on Fountain Square, but I missed it.
If you haven't seen Talib Kweli live, I have to insist that you seek out his next show. If you're in Cincinnati, you have no excuse. The fucking show was FREE! But, you still get another chance when Black Star performs their album front-to-back next month. Yea, you heard me right. I will be there. You should be too.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Be prepared, the audio is bad. Most unofficial camera phone concert footage is. I plan to get my hands on some better quality video in the near future though. This here will do if you already know the verses well enough to appreciate.
The first clip has Kweli getting introduced by some chick that's on a reality show based in Cincinnati. Don't know her name or anything about her. I think the show is called Queen City. Ands, I'm pretty sure people were booing her.
Second clip has DJ Hi-Tek giving Cincinnatians what they want and helping Kweli out, as he did for most of the show.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
As for the music, I'm still expecting big things even after the two lukewarm singles I've heard. "Otis" just leaked last week. I like the sample a lot, and there are a couple good lines from both Jay and Kanye. But, overall I don't feel like I'm as impressed as I should be. Basically, in my opinion, anything less than groundbreaking is a disappointment, and the rhymes aren't on that 'other level' that they need to be on. We'll wait and see. Enjoy the video in the meantime.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Cella Dwellas weren't a ground-breaking group, really. But, they were a solid duo known for their quality rhymes and New York gutter sound. Their album Realms 'n Reality got a lot of play by me and my older brother when he came across it and ordered it from Columbia House (anyone? anyone?).
Anyway, it's been like 10 years since they've released an album, so let's hope one is coming. This song here is produced by Nick Wiz, the man on the boards for their first album, and more recently known for lending 5 tracks to Rakim's last album, The 7th Seal. After a first listen, the song's not great, but I still want the album. We'll see what they bring to the table.
Any of you that remember these guys, feel free to add a comment, and let me know what you think about them past and present.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Two tracks here from some recent sessions Black Milk did over at White's Third Man Records.
Couldn't bring it over, so just click on the link and head over to Black Milk's website to stream the songs and get the whole back story of the collaboration.
Friday, July 15, 2011
I'm not sure this is the best introduction for those not familiar with Tanya Morgan, But I like it. Hook vocals brought to you by Nicky Guiland.
Excuse my cynicism, but I find this hilarious. Really? Do they not get it? Is it over the heads of Wayne fans that his non-fans deplore him showing up on any of the projects they are excited to hear, and ruin them with his irritating voice, corny punchlines, and often not-so-witty wordplay?
In fact, to me this is the Hip Hop equivalent of Keanu Reeves finally being in a movie with an actor who's as bad or worse than he is, and Reeves fans getting pissed off that they had to watch this other horrible actor on screen.
I'll prove my point quickly with a guest verse Lil' Wayne recorded for a song called "Breakin' My Heart" by the now extinct extremely dope Hip Hop duo/trio Little Brother.
Word up, I say I don't have nothin If I don't have you
Like Sade, you got the Sweetest Taboo
And my game is skin deep like the first tattoo
I gets all in your head just like shampoo
I just wanna fuck with you like rude polices
I don't want a broken heart because I lose the pieces
Hey! Girl don't play with my gangsta
And have the boy blue like the Texas Ranger
And I know cheaters never get crowned
So I play fair like roller coasters and clowns
Yeah! You gotta hold your soldier down
Even when the war is lookin like, it is right around the corner
And you don't wanna leave me believe me
Cause I can turn you on like, a personal TV
It's Young Weezy, I know what you thought
But I'm just here to play my part so, don't go breakin my heart
I think my point is proven for me with this verse. Shut up Wayne fans. They both suck.
Now you get a taste of what the rest of us go through. And, that's nice.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Kweli is an MC I'm proud to support. Which I do. But, he is performing at a FREE outdoor show in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati at the end of the month. Can. Not. Wait. I saw him once in Indianapolis years ago. Right after Quality dropped. It was a good show then, so I'm sure it's even better now. I heard he and Mos were performing Black Star start to finish at Rock The Bells this year. Lucky fucking West Coasters. What's up with a new Black Star album, by the way? Entirely produced by Hi-Tek and 88 Keys? Anyone?? How about it?
Here goes a good video for a song called "How You Love Me" off Talib's latest. Purchase Gutter Rainbows if you haven't yet.
Talib Kweli's Idle Warship gets Jean Grae on this DJ Khalil produced track that will probably appear on the Warship's album. The material I've heard from them so far I've mostly enjoyed. Most of the music is fast-paced, danceable stuff. Talib brings the good rhymes. So, it's Dance Hip Hop that isn't lyrically embarrassing.
Those of you that go to clubs and whatnot, let me know if this group ever gets any play.
Now, I'm pretty sure Theophilus London is going to get played in the clubs. His album/mixtape/whatever I Want You showed his unique style blending Hip Hop, House, Funk, etc. to make his own sound. It's way different, and isn't the pure Hip Hop you may be craving, but I thought it was interesting and gave it several spins over a period of months. The buzz around him has been pretty big, and his sound could be welcomed by the mainstream audience. So, I'm predicting big success for him. Can't say this one is my favorite of his, but the video is funny.
Love the beat on this new Rasco track. Nice rhymes too, of course. Looking forward to another offering from Rasco - and hopefully another Cali Agents project at some point.
Mayday! is a Hip Hop Band from Miami, FL. I've heard some stuff from them in the past and they're really good. Here, they team up with Del Tha Funkee Homosapien for a good song with a pretty entertaining video.
Lastly, here is Atmosphere's latest video off their 2011 release, The Family Sign. Visuals are for "Last to Say", a song about domestic violence being passed down to the next generation. Great editing job on this video.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Music-wise, some are much more talented than others. And, it takes a lot of effort to sift through it all. Thankfully, blogs do a lot of the work for you (me), and make it easier to lock onto what you're looking for.
One newer/up-and-coming MC I've partially found appealing is Dom Kennedy. He kind of hit or miss for me from the material I've heard thus far. His new album, mixtape or whatever, II: From The Westside With Love is no exception. There are some weak points. At least half for me, it seemed. I don't think Dom is the best on the mic, but he has a good flow and brings a personality to his music, and really hits the mark sometimes. I think he's aware of his shortcomings though, evidenced by the line "I got the most game, never said I had the best flows", which somehow makes it more acceptable as a listener. Hopefully, acknowledgement of his flaws does not mean acceptance to him, and Dom continually strives to improve his skills.
He's being himself, and has some talent for making enjoyable songs, so I wouldn't mind seeing him generate a wider audience and represent west coast music in the mainstream. The songs that work on this album really work and are perfect for hanging out in this hot ass summer heat. See what I mean on songs like "Ice Cream Truck", "New Jeeps" and "2MPH". The 3 of these actually happen to appear consecutively on the project and feature other talent that definitely shine on their own like Asher Roth (I said it, and I stand by it on this verse) and Big K.R.I.T.
I'd say go ahead and pick this one up for some good summer time west coast hip hop. Now, I'm about to check out a peer of Dom's who just released some new material...Kendrick Lamar's Section 80.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This is one of many albums that you should definitely pick up if you missed it last year (check an earlier post for my whole listing of worthwhile albums in '08). Detroit's Elzhi, once (and still??) a member of Slum Village (a strangely mediocre group IMO) is simply one of the best MC's alive and rhyming today. This "debut" album entitled The Preface features several other notable Detroit MCs, but it's Elzhi himself who shines throughout this entire project. He seems to never run out of ill lines, and his concepts are original and well thought out. For example, check out the opening to "Guessing Game" and tell me you aren't curious to 'play'...
"Here we go (go) let's play the game (game)/ try to guess the word that I'ma use I'll explain (lain)/ I'ma end at each and every line just the same (same)/ you fill in the blank before I say it, that's the aim (aim)/...I welcome ya'll to the introduction/ to learn how to play here's the instructions/ a couple rules to show you how to gain function/ yo I'ma take a double, take a double syllable and split it down the middle so it's no longer even/ the first half stay the last half leavin'/ so now the end of the line sound deceivin'/ so figure out the word to match before I change the meanin'..."
What follows is an ingenious song idea that is perfectly executed with help from Black Milk's top-notch production, concentrating on what I tend to prefer in hip hop tracks, the drums. Black Milk, in fact, produces all but two tracks on The Preface...yet another reason to give it a listen (BM's solo effort "Tronic" is also one of the best albums of '08). The fun doesn't stop there though, as Elzhi proceeds to offer track after track of superior wordplay by anyone's standards. Few out today can match his talent.
If I had to, I might liken his style to Pontiac, MI's One Be Lo. However, if you've ever heard of One Be Lo, then you have probably heard this album already. The best thing about Elzhi is that he takes the time to come up with original material for his music. He's not satisfied with using the same old topics and trying to survive on punchlines alone (think Fabolous). On this album is an intricate journey through his dreams ("Talking in my Sleep"), an exploratory ode using nouns with names of colors in them ("Colors"), and many many more. And the whole thing isn't even concept-based. Elzhi's got tracks where he just rhymes about how nice he is too - only these songs prove it (see "Brag Swag" - fucking unbelievable). The best thing about The Preface is that it is interesting to the listener throughout. It's original. It's clever. It makes you think. And, it's dope in every way, start to finish.
Listen to Elzhi's album The Preface closely. Trust me, you will be amazed.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Below is the bonus performance from www.colbertnation.com - of course, it's "Get By".
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
It would've been nice to hear why, but, again Vlad is a shit interviewer. P basically just said none of them interest him. Fair enough. One man's opinion.
I, for one, feel females have something important to offer hip hop fans. And, not only female fans. The problem is that the females that make it into the mainstream are usually affiliated with, and overshadowed by, an all male crew. And, the ones that seem to make it into the conversation for some reason, are offering nothing more than predictable gimmicks and shallow punchlines. There's no replay value, and no staying power.
But, I'm seeing positive changes. Save for a few still sticking to the same tired script of weak rhymes filled with sex speak to try to cash in on minds as shallow as their's, there are quite a few women in hip hop today that can truly spit.
Not only do their rhymes bring a wittiness and overall depth that rivals some of their male counterparts (and dwarfs the majority that probably think of themselves as peers), they are making conceptually good songs that explore our world from another perspective. And, that is something that should be of value to both sexes. Today, I can list more females with serious skill putting out music at the same time then I think I ever could before. And, they are making it cool for women to be smart. I appreciate that.
Which female MC(s) do you think could have the gender dropped from their title and just be called an MC?
Saturday, June 18, 2011
He had some interesting things to say about this beat. Mainly that Foxy Brown turned it down (sorry for the rhyme). She said it was wack. Really? Really?!?!? I guess maybe she was having trouble with her hearing around that time because the track is fucking beautiful. Or, maybe she just didn't have the skill to do it justice.
Actually, to be honest, I think Foxy would've sounded pretty dope on this beat back then. She should've nabbed it when she had the chance. Mellow guitar over a boom bap drum pattern. What could be better? Big couldn't help but tell a story to this. The music starts telling a story itself. He didn't have a choice, but to really bring it to life in his own way. Foxy loved the final version by the way. Who wouldn't?
But, Biggie delivered his story here in such a unique way, it still amazes me. And yet, it's so simple. He tells an extremely vivid tale of fucking a basketball player's woman while he's out, who comes home while they're in the act. He thinks fast, pretends he's a burglar, and ends up getting "mad paper" from the ball player. But, the twist is that he calls his friends at the end and tells them to meet up with him because he's got "a story to tell". The last half of the song is him just talking with his friend's, telling the exact story that he just rapped to us.
This song obviously never had the opportunity to be made into a video as the album was released after Big died. But, it really doesn't need a video. The story comes to life in the listener's head like they're watching a movie.
The best part? He's telling his friends the story and says the chick's man came home because the game "must've gotten rained out"!!! Classic Hip Hop right here. Go listen to this song again right now and remember one of the best to ever do it. In fact, just click below.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I spotted this over at 2DopeBoyz today, and the Twitter share from their page doesn't give you a link for some reason. So, here it is for you if you haven't seen yet. Nice combo of MCs for this here. And, it came out great - a fresh execution of a tried and true hip hop song topic.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
I tweeted the other day about going down to one of Cincinnati's locally owned and operated record stores, Shake It Records, and purchasing some local music.
The albums above are what I purchased. Tanya Morgan's 2008 classic Brooklynati, which I listed as my favorite of that year, and J. Rawls' recently released The Hip Hop Affect.
Both of these albums are from musicians that I really respect and appreciate, and have contributed a lot of great music to my life so far. Both TM and Rawls are artists I would also try to support by going to a show. In fact, J. Rawls is scheduled to be down on Fountain Square in Cincinnati this summer. Should be a great show. This is a man that truly appreciates the history and culture of Hip Hop and wants to contribute to its further growth among people and generations. A worthy cause.
So, while I endorse these two records, just go out to a locally owned store and support someone that you like. When you do, tell me about it below.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
"Threat" isn't my favorite track on the Black Album. "Allure" probably is, but there really isn't a bad song on it at all. It's an undeniable classic (as are Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint). He rips it start to finish, and its replay value is huge to me. I've probably heard it well over a hundred times now. Plus all of the remixes that were done after the A Capellas were released, which seemed infinite there for a while. 'Threat' stuck out to me though as especially clever.
It's great because it's making fun of rappers who make threats on wax all day by doing an impression of them, but with a real MC's skill to elevate it above their level. Jay-Z's lyrics, and the way he structures his bars make this song great. And, the added joke on rappers without any names needing to be named makes it classic. Jay has always excelled at doing that though - see the third verse on "Trouble" from Kingdom Come, or his verse over "Scenario Remix/Pump It Up" from S. Carter Collection for more proof. The comedy of this song though is what sets it apart.
It's over the top and funny with Cedric The Entertainer's vocals, and 9th Wonder really did a brilliant job with the sample. There is a reason why this song put him into the much sought after class of producer he is today. It's pretty damn perfect. I'm not sure how the whole song came about. If Jay had the idea for the sample, or he just picked it from 9th. Did they cover this song in the documentary? Haven't seen it in a while. Anyway, instrumental is below.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I like the video too. Shows them all being inspired by the track and by each other while writing their rhymes.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I waited a while to put this on. I kept skipping it on my iPod, waiting for when I was in the mood for some militant, speaking truth to power type shit. Well, that's not what this is. Not even close.
Stic's (Stic.man of Dead Prez) album is called The Workout. It's not a metaphor for anything. It's absolutely literal. This is a workout record. About working out. Better yet, it's about appreciating, respecting, and taking care of oneself. Each song (14 total, including intro/outro) continues this theme where Stic serves as an example to listeners of how to demand more of themselves. His message is to be in control of oneself and strengthen the body (and mind) through discipline, focus, and, for him, being sober and vegan. And, Stic speaks on this without sounding preachy or judgmental, which is a credit to him I'd say. It's not easy.
I've never heard an album like this before. And, I appreciate it. This entire record is the perfect workout music for anyone. I can see people in the gym - lifting, running, boxing - with this in their ears. The words really make you want to move. They make you want to push yourself physically. And, as a side note, I predict we will hear at least one track from Stic's collection on the next 24/7 season on HBO. That's almost a given, especially with their history of using Hip Hop songs as a soundtrack.
The Workout is not only inspiring. It's motivating. And that's even better. Now, excuse me while I do some push-ups.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I was just gonna ignore this album and the rest of the group (writing about it, at least) because everyone is talking about it, and that's just kinda how I am. Usually, I'd rather try to bring some light to those I don't feel get the attention they deserve. I finally decided to sit down and listen to this album though to see what all the hype was about with these guys. Odd Future and their leader, Tyler The Creator, have developed a pretty strong cult-following that seems to be growing into a mainstream presence quickly this past year or so.
Their gimmick seems to be to say fuck everything and everyone and spit lyrics purposely littered with shock value lines to get a rise out of some people, create buzz, and garner attention for themselves. Annoying. Of course, if anyone calls Tyler out on that he'll probably say 'fuck you faggot' because he's an angry kid that can't seem to drop that defense mechanism just yet. His approach is to hate everyone and to reject them before they reject him. This definitely comes through loud and clear on Goblin. Though he's clearly self-conscious and worried about what others think, as evidenced by the three or more times he disses 2DopeBoyz apparently for not liking his music.
Some people have dubbed their sound horrorcore, which, I guess is pretty accurate, though Tyler rejects the label, probably because he doesn't wanna be associated with a failed sub-genre (and trying to bring it back), and that's understandable. I think he's fairly talented lyrically, and his approach to rhyming is interesting to me - though the voice in his head, or therapist or whatever as a recurring theme on the album is not at all original. His flow doesn't rely on corny punchlines that take the word "like" out like it's something groundbreaking either though. And aside from his 'I hate everything' attitude throughout most of the album, there is some honesty in him that especially comes out when talking about his parents - a hard-working young mother and absentee father - which lends a layer of realness to his surface of self-proclaimed madness.
The beats Tyler makes are hardcore, slow, and really stripped down. It's a sound that stands out because it's so unpolished, which, to me, makes it kinda refreshing. It also allows him to rhyme in different ways because his vocals don't have to be a slave to the beat. Now, that's giving him a lot of credit. It could be that this isn't intentional, but rather the best he can do.
After listening to Goblin from beginning to end a few times I have mixed feelings. It's not bad, but it doesn't really have a lot of replay value. I can't see myself pulling out Goblin 5 years from now. To me he kinda comes off like an immature Brotha Lynch Hung (sorry Lynch, I know you're a hundred times better). He spits his crazy thoughts with some skill no doubt, but the self-absorbed teenager throwing a tantrum is always right there in my ear, and it's pretty off putting after a while - it actually reminds me of Stewie Griffin going to high school and trying to blend in with the cool kids ("No, it's lame. Everything's lame").
But, when I think back to myself 10 years ago at age 18, I can't say I gave a fuck about much myself. And, that's probably a big part of what so many of Odd Future's young fans relate to. Someone representing musically how they feel personally at the time. It seems like a weird thing to bond over. But, it's understandable. I probably would have felt it a lot more if Goblin came out when I was in high school. But, while I'm able to enjoy it in parts, this group, and Tyler, is not for me. And that's ok. At least they don't completely suck like a lot of the young acts today that get mainstream attention. They're in their own lane for the time being, and I can say I'm interested to see where Tyler's career goes from here after all of the hype that brought him to this point.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Just saw this while having some time to browse the nets though, and had to throw it up here. Something to look forward to this year. 2011 is shaping up to be a good year for Hip Hop.
Skyzoo's The Great Debater drops June 7th. That's pretty fucking soon! Off the strength of his past work I think he deserves the purchase, so I'll be splurging...hopefully you will too.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Stuck at work now. But, I'll definitely be grabbing this when I make it home. I'm saying up front, don't sleep on this.
Update: Oh yea, this is staying in the iPod for a while...dope music.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Anyway, from time to time I get turned on to some good new music via Twitter. Sifting through bullshit can get tedious, so when I hear something worthwhile it makes the time spent, well, worthwhile.
John Public may be named as such because he's an ordinary guy. A fact he doesn't try to hide on his aptly titled album Re-Gifted: Thrift Shop Experience. Like you may have deduced from the name, Public makes music for his peers who, like me, enjoy picking up gems unexpectedly.
There's no alter-ego here. No gangsta, playa, already-rich-off-drug-dealing-before-rap kinda thing going on. The songs on here are just plain good hip hop; lyrics covering the struggles of our human existence, but all the while balancing it out with acknowledgement of how we all make it through on a daily basis. And we do. Having that balance in life is ultimately how we carry on, and it's displayed well on this album.
Joe Public doesn't overly impress me lyrically...yet. By that I mean his flow is pretty straight forward. No surprises. Whatcha see is whatcha get. But, he is definitely a capable MC with rhymes that are focused and meaningful for the most part. He also knows how to make the music fun and his passion shows through on every track. He's talented. And MCs like him tend to get even better as time goes on, as does their penchant for song writing.
I've listened to this album several times and that's saying something for me during these days of musical abundance. The Thrift Shop Experience is definitely something to check out if you're looking for something new and refreshing.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Things come to my mind randomly. That seems to be the only way I remember most things from my past. Maybe it's that way with most people. I'm not sure. I do know that my wife has a much better memory when it comes to her childhood than me. She remembers entire events. Me? I just recall a snippet here, a snippet there. I'm kinda jealous of that actually. I'd like to remember more.
Anyway, back to Hip Hop. Tonight I was thinking back to the first time I heard 2Pac's R U Still Down? discs for whatever reason. As I remember, without ruining the memory by bothering to check facts, it was released not too long after he died. Maybe a year or so. I was on a trip with my dad and siblings and we were coming back from a minor league baseball game. An evening game. I went to a lot of those when I was a kid. It was pitch black on the road, and I was in the back seat with my older brother. We were in our teens. I was tired of whatever CDs I had brought, so I asked to go through my brother's case. Remember when you had to travel with a portable CD case and a bunch of CDs? Shit, you remember doing that with tapes and a Walkman?
I flipped through and came to a favorite of both of our's since we both first heard/saw his solo record "Trapped" in '91. 2Pac. I hadn't heard it yet because he was hogging it! I put the disc in, and even though it was assembled by others with unreleased material in whatever order they thought fitting, I was taken through an experience. By the time my favorite track on the 2-disc set, "Nothing 2 Lose" came on, I was in a zone. I still remember hearing that opening for the first time; the Ice Cube sample on the hook. Pac started his verse the same time the beat dropped. "The only way to change me is maybe blow my brains out..." Wow. What a way to start a song! 2Pac really had that gift though. He knew how to grab listeners' attention and captivate them. You didn't wanna miss a single word. That was his talent. The ride home flew by for me. I didn't even realize where I was because I was hanging on every word.
That's why I get a little bothered when people today downplay his relevance. True, he was not the most gifted lyricist on the mic as far as wordplay and punchlines. His approach was more direct. It was about the poetry, the flow, and the meaning of what he was saying. He had a real purpose behind what he was saying. You could tell with a lot of his songs that he wanted to use them to reach people. And, he did. I can honestly say that he was truly the voice of a generation. A generation of many. My brother and I did not live a similar life at all to that of 2Pac. But, still he reached me. Still, I related to him. To what he was saying. His message. I can only imagine what those experiencing a similar life to his had felt. But, I think even that was his intention. I think he wanted outsiders to understand people in his position. I think he wanted to inspire those he was speaking to and educate those in a different position.
And, he influenced Hip Hop so much. You can still hear echoes of him in today's Hip Hop from any region. And, my guess is you always will. So, take this post as a reminder to you of just how important 2Pac is to the history of our culture. Pull out some of his stuff this weekend and reminisce.