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.