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.
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'sR 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.
I hate the term Emo Rap. Is that what you call hip hop with a soul that's not hardcore? Is that the label for an artist that blends genres and describes their feelings in life's numerous, highly relateable daily situations? I don't know. But, I like the kind of hip hop I just described. Call it what you want.
Personally though, I've been screaming on the inside for some of that hardcore lately. I've just been tired of everything else. I wanna get that mid-90s feeling back. Not necessarily gutter, gangsta, or backback. But, just something with that something that screwed my face up while driving in the car while at the same time chuckling to myself at the punchlines. I was thinking it was lost. Then I put on Mohammad Dangerfield. The album these two have put together is definitely flying under the radar, but deserves any and all praise it receives from people this year that look for good music.
The same qualities that made artists like Method Man, Redman, The Beatnuts, and Heltah Skeltah so loved in Hip Hop circles is exactly what Hasan Salaam and Rugged N Raw bring to the table as Mohammad Dangerfield. Equal parts humor and hardcore presented with all-around dope lyricism. Refreshing. But, "MoDanger" actually adds an element of depth to their approach; this being their willingness (and ability) to know when to be serious and tackle subjects more personal, historical, and socio-political.
Do yourself a favor and pick up their self-titled album that came out in February. If you have a few dollars to spend on good music then come outta pocket for it as I plan to. Mohammad Dangerfield is going on my 'best of' list for this year, and I'm guessing it'll stay there by year's end. If you've heard it already, share your thoughts. If you haven't heard it (or haven't even heard of them at all before) there's a link to their site below. I'm about to check out the site for the first time myself.
After the announcement of Pete Rock & Camp Lo's collaborative venture 80 Blocks From Tiffany's was announced and a promotional mixtape blending the two artists was released soon after, it got me wondering what happened to the Smif-n-Wessun album that Pete Rock was going to be the sole producer on? That was announced long before the Camp Lo project.
Well, I'm glad to say it has not been shelved. In fact, the album, titled Monumental, now has a set release date (June 28th) and will be released on the label I was just praising on here the other day - Duck Down Records. See the trailer below (damn, the internet has made trailers for albums popular, huh?), and a mention of featured artists below that.
Pete Rock & Smif N Wessun have joined forces to record an entire album together titled 'Monumental'. Album will be released June 28th on Duck Down Music. Monumental is entirely produced by Pete Rock with features from Raekwon, Bun B, Pharoahe Monch, Styles P, Memphis Bleek, Hurricane G, Sean Price & Buckshot. Album Teaser directed by Daydream Film Works for Sundree brand Management.