Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Hip Hop of 2011

Happy 'End of 2011' everyone. It's been a long, trying year for me. Things are always better than they could be though. This is a list of the music (released this year) that served as my life's soundtrack.

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
Mohammad Dangerfield
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
Random Axe
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

Hasan Salaam - Music Is My Weapon EP

After the greatness that was the Mohammad Dangerfield project earlier this year (read about it HERE), I think it's safe to say that my ears are open to anything Hasan Salaam &/or Rugged N Raw are a part of. This especially goes to a philanthropic project aimed at helping the world through music

Salaam recently put out an EP titled Music Is My Weapon which you can purchase on his website 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.

Murs - "'67 Cutlass"

Have you heard Murs' joint project with Ski Beatz, Love & Rockets Vol. 1, yet? If not, I suggest you check it out (as well as Murs' back catalog if you're not familiar - Ski's too, for that matter).

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

Jingle Fucking Bells

Well, would you check these two fucking weirdos out?

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

Common Premiers Video On AMC

After about two listens, I can say that I like the new Common album, The Dreamer, The Believer. It's definitely an improvement over the last two he put out. I wouldn't say he's going back to his roots or anything like that. The Common of old seems to be gone. Well, maybe just with the overall sound, not so much the lyrical content or approach.

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

Undun - Short Film

Directed by Clifton Bell, this video offers us a visual interpretation of 4 songs from The Roots' new album Undun. While the story is told backwards on the album, this film depicts the events chronologically. I'm looking forward to the possibility of a full movie for the entire album eventually...this is a good teaser though.

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

My Thoughts On Heavy D

I was starting to post some thoughts on Twitter last night. But, they were coming too fast and my signal was choppy. Plus, there are much more important people to me that all of you want to hear from more I'm sure. D-Nice had some good anecdotes. I'm sure Hev's cousin Pete Rock did too. I'll have to check today. Apparently, Heavy D's last tweet of his own read "Be Inspired". Those are good last words, I think. Words which serve to encourage others.

I was in my wife's car yesterday afternoon, and one thing we had talked about was Heavy D's appearance on Law & Order: SVU recently. Literally ten minutes later I got a text that he had died. It took me by surprise. I know the size was in his name, but Heavy D wasn't really all that heavy anymore. When people are young (he was 44) and healthy it's hard to imagine them dying. And, 44?!?! That was surprising too. I think his first album came out in 1987. That would have made him 20 at the time! He always seemed older to me though. Maybe because I was so young when I started listening to his music.

I first heard Heavy D & The Boyz on a song called "We Got Our Own Thang" off of his second album. I didn't have the album. I had the 2nd volume of the Yo! MTV Raps compilation, and it appeared on there. I was a very young kid, but I loved his rhyme style, and the way he said "diddly-diddly-dee". It was fun. It was something I would practice too. In the early 90's, Hev started popping up everywhere. He did the theme song to In Living Color (if you're not from that era just know that EVERYONE watched that show), appeared on Yo! MTV Raps (which I watched religiously back then), appeared as himself on A Different World and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and had an actual role for several episodes on Roc that I'll always remember. 

I ran out to buy his 1991 album Peaceful Journey largely off the strength of his personality, and the lead single "Now That We Found Love" featuring Aaron Hall. I remember he wore a black jumpsuit that looked like a garbage bag in the video - this was years before Missy wore something similar in her video. I'm not saying it was fashionable, but it was memorable. I listened to this tape over and over and over again. It was this album that helped me understand a little more about how Hip Hop came together with DJs, Producers, MCs, and samples. I also got to know who Pete Rock was, and how great it was to hear a 'posse cut' with a bunch of great rappers on the same song. "Don't Curse" is still my all-time favorite. Raw beat. Dope verses. The song is infectious to this day. And, Big Daddy Kane was my favorite MC at the time. So, to hear him on a Heavy D song made me like Hev even more, I think. While Heavy D clearly shined on the album, he brought in one hell of a supporting cast including K-Ci & JoJo (way before they broke away from Jodeci), Aaron Hall, Kane, CL Smooth, Grand Puba, Q-Tip, and Johnny Gill which rounded out the Uptown Records sound he was putting out there.

Heavy D had a light, fun, and soulful approach to Hip Hop even while others were getting more and more street. He didn't try to keep up with trends. He, well, had his own thang...going on. He hardly cursed (and encouraged other MCs not to on "Don't Curse" to show Hip Hop haters that they could do it, even if they didn't always want to), and that made older people accept him, and thus, be more accepting of Hip Hop too. He was able to express himself anyway. Imagine that. 

Now, I won't sit here and say he was the greatest rapper to ever pick up a microphone. He wasn't (though he was underrated). But, he had style and personality to match his unique talent. He had skills. He was nonthreatening and genuine. He positioned himself as a lover with many songs on each album about women (not bitches) and it worked. He drew people in and pushed Hip Hop culture forward. He developed new talent ("Heavy D and Who!?!?!?"), produced great songs (Beanie Sigel's "Feel it in the Air" is amazing), became a serious actor, and began to record some decent reggae music as well.

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. 

R.I.P. Heavy Diddley-Diddley- D

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tanya Morgan - Whatever That's Mine

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.

R.I.P. Joe Frazier

Word to Joe Frazier, got to do what pays ya!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jean Grae is a Jenius...You Idiots!!

Check this out because Jean Grae is fucking awesome. Definitely the best female lyricist I've ever heard, and definitely up in the running with any male MC you could name. She's fucking amazing. If you haven't heard 'Cookies or Comas' you're really missing out on some great Hip Hop this year. 'Cake or Death' (hopefully) coming soon - but, I do not have the attention span of a gnat, so I'm still enjoying the rest of her catalog!

Action Bronson Makes a TV Appearance

What do you all think of Action Bronson? I got into him for a while. That Dr. Lecter album is pretty nice. Haven't felt some of his stuff lately - a joint called "Muslim Wedding" and a feature on MarQ Spekt & Kno's album for a song called "Roadhouse" had me underwhelmed. I tweeted about it, and he found it and retweeted it. I'm not sure why. I guess some people think it's funny to retweet negative comments about themselves - Kweli and 9th Wonder come to mind. And, some others probably hope their "yes men" fans will defend them publicly. I did get one guy respond with "you buggin'!" Yeah, whatever. It's my opinion. But, some people latch on to someone and suddenly feel like they can do no wrong.

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

Talib Kweli at Occupy Wall Street

This is too dope not to post up here. It's nice to see that our best and most loved and appreciated street poets in this Hip Hop genre are still out there spitting that real shit and representing for the average hard working people of this world.

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

New Hip Hop Releases From North Carolina

This week saw the release of several notable albums that are sure to be on the top of a lot of people's 'Best Of' lists at year's end. And, another cool thing is that three of the artists are from North Carolina. That's something when a single state can dominate a week with three highly anticipated releases. Of course, I'm talking about 9th Wonder, Phonte, and J.Cole.

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. Tracklist for Master of Ceremonies

I just saw this tracklist posted up on a few sites for SP's latest. I've seen a few different dates in October, but it's looking like the 4th is it now. Honestly, I care nothing about the features aside from track 6. Though, Pharoahe just may end up doing the hook again, which would be disappointing to me - not that "My Life" isn't dope.

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

The Academy Ft. Royce da 5'9", Bronze Nazareth, Sean Price, & K-Solo - "Let's Go"

Holy Shit!!!

I just got through listening to this track 5 times in a row. I couldn't stop spinning it back over and over. So many quotables on this one. It was released about a month ago. I had it in my iPod, but must've overlooked it until now. Whoa.

I dig the summer anthems, the jazzy loops, and the feel good Hip Hop that comes with the season. But, when the weather starts to turn, I need this raw street shit in my ears again. There's nothing like it. This track, "Let's Go" hit me in the perfect mood.

Royce. Bronze Nazareth. Sean Price. K-Solo (yea, I know. WTF?). This song comes off The Academy, a project being headed by Kurupt, and featuring a who's who of capable MCs from all over. Click HERE to read more about it.

The great thing about "Let's Go" is that each MC brings his A++ game, knowing they need to put in work to compete with the others. That's something you don't see all that often anymore. Too many MCs give away their weaker verses for compilation projects (save for Statik Selektah and DJ JS-1's material). This is Hip Hop competition at its finest right here.

Can't say I noticed K-Solo much yet, but Bronze Nazareth definitely held his own with some clever bars that have single-handedly restored my faith in Wu-affiliates. Of course, the shine really comes from Royce and P, as they had me skipping back again and again. This song is without a doubt going on my top favorite songs of 2011. Hip Hop always needs music like this. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Money Mayweather Loses at Hip Hop

This fight should be getting underway now. Maywether v. Ortiz. I'm not watching. If someone I knew was ordering it I would watch, sure. But, I don't feel like shelling out the $$ to watch another challenger (even if he is a champion) likely go down at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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

Blackroc 2 Trailer

I kinda like the whole trailers-for-albums-like-they're-movies thing. It adds to the excitement a little, makes it interesting again for the Internet age where we don't often hold the liner notes to records and thumb through them studiously for the names and samples involved in its creation.

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

Tanya Morgan - We Bad

I probably post more TM stuff than anything else on here. It's nice to have such a dynamic group coming from (in part) Cincinnati. Heard today that the group is down to two now - Donwill and Von Pea. Apparently, Ilyas is keeping busy with solo music and some other projects that are taking him away of the group for now.

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

Consequence - Comic Book Flow

Consequence's Comic Book Flow comes to visual life in this video from Movies on Demand 3. I like this. And, I like the MOD series a lot, so far. Consequence is highly underappreciated if you ask me. He's been dope since Beats, Rhymes, & Life.

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, bout you just do it?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Outkast - Jazzy Belle

There's really no reason for this post. I was just singing it too myself this morning. The remix w/ Babyface too. A lot of people don't seem to know that one. Outkast is unarguably one of the greatest Hip Hop duos ever. Even if they're not your personal favorite, I think you'd have to give it to them as the greatest just for the influence, consistency, and originality they've displayed. They've had an amazing career full of great music and, like I say about De La, Zero Bad Albums.

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

Tha Death Row N-Mates - Tragical

Stuff like this makes me really miss Nate Dogg. Someone tell Rage she doesn't have to do the Afro Puffs thing anymore though.

More From Kweli Live in Cincinnati

Below, are some shots I took from the side of the stage (-if you have some to share I'd love to see them). The Square was so packed it was hard to move through the crowd and up in front of the security gate where I belonged. Haha!

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

Video of Talib Kweli Live in Cincinnati

Just logged in to add that +1 button and thought I'd throw up these video clips from the Talib Kweli concert on Fountain Square last night in Cincinnati. There will be more pics and stuff posted soon. I was right next to the stage thanks to a friend.

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

Watch The Throne Documentary

Kanye West & Jay-Z: Watch The Throne Documentary from introspective on Vimeo.

If you haven't seen it yet, the video above is a mini-documentary, featurette type thing for the Watch The Throne album dropping early August. It doesn't look completely finished to me, so I'm betting this is just a preview of a bonus DVD that goes with the album or something. There's some cool footage of the recording process and them hanging out in Sydney, Australia.

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

New Cella Dwellas!!!: I Put It Down

What? A new Cella Dwellas song?!? The 90's are back! Ha!

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

Black Milk x Jack White - New Music

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

Donwill - "Breathe" Video

I was talking about Tanya Morgan on Twitter today. So, even though I started it to talk about Von Pea, here's a video from Donwill off his solo album, Don Cusack in High Fidelity (btw if you haven't seen the movie High Fidelity with John Cusack yet, put it on your Netflix list).

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.

Lil' Wayne Fans Hate Lil' B

So, the self-proclaimed, and young people-that-don't-know-any-better believed best rapper alive Lil' Wayne put out a new mixtape the other day called Sorry 4 The Wait. No need to apologize to me, sir. Trust me. I've been fine. The tape features a track with the latest both loved and hated rapper, Lil' B.

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

Talib Kweli - How You Love Me

MCs have to hear Talib Kweli and think to themselves that they need to step it up. Kweli is pushing forward on amazing levels, trying different things and taking chances with his music while still keeping the raw rhyme style and progressive lyrics he's known for in tact.

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.

Hip Hop To Dance To

I know I'll get varying opinions on this stuff. But, here's some dance shit for you. The visuals are cool for each. Tell me what you think of the content.

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.

Hip Hop Videos Worth Watching

Here are a few videos I found, or that found me on the Internet lately that I think are pretty cool and worth checking out.

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

In With The New: Dom Kennedy's Latest

There's a lot of young new artists in hip hop lately. It feels like more than ever, probably because of the ease with which anyone that wants to record and post their music can. The ones that don't get lost in the pile are the ones that use new media as their most valuable tool to be successful, and use it to their advantage while working their ass off to promote their shit.

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.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apollo Brown - Tao Te Ching

Nice little vid was delivered to my inbox the other day for Apollo Brown's track off his instumental album, Clouds. Probably the strongest beat on there too. Watch below, and then click below that for a free download of Odissee rocking over it to speak on the new nation, The Republic of South Sudan in a song entitled "The Times". Lyrics are included on the page as well.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some Older eLZhi

I brought this post from 09' back to the top since eL's getting a lot of attention for his ode to Illmatic, ELmatic. Just want to remind everyone that he's been putting out quality music for a while. Make sure you get a hold of this album if you haven't already. And, if you're interested, do a search on this blog to find some words about his 'Leftovers "Unmixedtape"'

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

Kweli On Colbert

Talib Kweli had a good appearance on The Colbert Report last night where he did an interview and then performed "Cold Rain" with Res off Gutter Rainbows.

Below is the bonus performance from - of course, it's "Get By".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Toca Tuesdays With Skyzoo

A real freestyle from a real MC right here on Tony Touch's radio show. Sky starts off by giving a little info on his writing/recording process and how he keeps his skills sharp. The Great Debater is out now for fucking FREE. So, if you haven't gotten it yet, you're a fucking idiot. HA!

Females Can't Spit?

In a recent excerpt from what I'm assuming was a wack interview (judging by Vlad's inability to move a conversation in any direction at all) Sean Price said he doesn't fuck with ANY female rappers. He later acknowledged Rah Digga and the legendary MC Lyte.

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?
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Great Hip Hop Songs - Biggie's 'I Got A Story To Tell'

To me, this is one of the greatest Hip Hop songs ever. It never gets old. Never. It's just that fucking perfect. Some of you may have read Complex Magazine's piece with Buckwild a little while ago where he ran down a bunch of his favorite tracks from his looong and storied production career.

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

Chace Infinite, Ryu, & Ras Kass - High Enough

Hmmm...Well, now that I see my last post, I guess I got a theme going here. Unintentional from my end, of course. There just happen to be a lot of videos coming out for good weed songs lately. Now I'm waiting for visuals for Fashawn's "Weed Nap".

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.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Supporting The Best

As you can tell from the description of this blog and from most of the content, I believe it's important to support those artists whom you deem worthy of your hard-earned money. Whoever that may be. I try to make recommendations based on what I've heard, to encourage people to both explore the hip hop music scene more deeply, and to show some support to MCs that you want to continue making music.

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.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

This Is A Warning

Jay-Z's "Threat" is the song that really seemed to catapult 9th Wonder's career. I first heard of 9th when he remixed Nas' album calling it God's Stepson. Not long after I became a fan of Little Brother (starting with The Listening) and it seemed like a pretty major thing for him to have a song on Jay's album.

"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

Tanya Morgan - Without Hands Ft. Che Grand, King Mez, Skyzoo

Damn...just click below to watch. A must see. Not sure how TM keep pumping out good music on such a regular basis. Oh, yea...TALENT & DRIVE. Same goes for the features.

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

Stic - The Workout

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 ( 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

Thoughts on Goblin

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

'The Great Debater' Album Trailer

I've been busy moving my career along the last few weeks. So, please forgive the lack of updates if you follow.

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

Self Scientific EP

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.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

John Public

No not the guys that sang "Live & Learn". That's Joe Public. Ha.

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.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

That's Why I Got Gang Related

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.
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