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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So after a long hiatus from posting, I want to inform all of you that I am back!  Sorry about the leave of absence but there are a lot of albums coming out, I just downloaded Terius Nash's (formerly known as The-Dream) free LP 1977, and the NFL season is just about ready to begin.  Don't lose faith, I'm still here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kickin' it with...whom?

Wale in "TV in the Radio" featuring K'naan from his album Attention: Deficit, "I kick it, I kick it like Olindo."
Hoodie Allen in "Party at the Beach House" from his mixtape Pep Rally, "We doing this for kicks, I'm Matt Stover."  (For those of you not physically dependent on the NFL and fantasy football, see: Olindo Mare and Matt Stover)  I don't have much to say about this, I just found it amusing that not one, but two people have given shout-outs to NFL kickers.  The scrawny looking guys at the end of the bench.  The unidentifiable ones.  The guys whose jerseys aren't in the stores.  Good for them though, lord knows they aren't going to be on SportsCenter anytime soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Best Femcee Alive, Since The Best Femcee Retired

While everybody fawns over Nicki Minaj, and pays mild attention to Lil' Kim in case she ever releases anything worth listening to, I have been following the career of a female rapper about three leagues out of Nicki's or Kim's leagues. Dooming herself to underground success with little hope for a more widespread fan base, she allied herself with lyrical demi-god Talib Kweli and his label Blacksmith Music, and has been releasing top notch albums since her 2002 debut, Attack of the Attacking Things.  If you haven't gotten it by now, I'm talking about none other than Jean Grae.  On June 23rd she released her latest project, Cookies or Comas, as a free mixtape as a prelude to her upcoming album Cake or Death.  (see: Datpiff.com for the download)
Gaining popularity amongst the more informed hip-hop crowd is something Grae has been doing since the 90s, and that trend continues with Cookies or Comas.  Her guest list reads: Kweli, Styles P, Pharoahe Monch, Boogie Blind and Royce Da 5'9".  Her production list includes Boogie Blind, Ski Beatz, and other predominantly underground names.  The closest she gets to anything mainstream, is her remix of Kanye's recent song "Blame Game."  However while the mainstream may never get its hands on this tape, it doesn't mean those who listen won't love it.
Jean Grae is easily the most talented active female emcee, and in my opinion could sit as high as fifth on the all time femcee list (topped by Eve in my opinion, but that's a discussion for a later time), and she seems to know it too.  Unlike seemingly every other femcee, Grae is opposed to raunchy rap, and lets her natural gifts flow both rhythmically and lyrically.  She touches on love, instead of "pussy poppin.'"  Socially critique instead of the club scene.  And fun rap instead of trying to be the most ghetto, or "hard."
One asset that cannot be overlooked in this tape is Jean Grae's humor.  Both in her raps, and in spoken portions of her songs, she has some quotable lines that will make anyone laugh.  Often times at the expense of the stereotypical femcee.  For instance in "I Rock On," she ends her song with "I rock on, and on, and on and on, and we ain't leaving until six in the morning...well probably five, because six is entirely too late."  To end her final song, "You Don't Like It," Grae follows her final line of rap, "gun tucked in the rear pocket, ducking the fuzz" with a mock conversation with a police officer about how she does not actually carry guns, and in fact has not brought knives, or even her fists with her, begging the officer to let her go because she has no weapons at all.  Purposefully poking fun at the widely accepted image of a female rapper, or rapper in general, Grae genuinely sounds like she had fun making these songs, and it puts a smug grin on the face of any self declared "knowledgeable" listener.  A little hipster, I know, but oh so much fun.
Bottom line: don't sleep on Jean Grae.  If you aren't willing to spend any money on her music, at least download the mixtape, it has ample replay value, and is easily in the top three mixtapes of this year, if not #1.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Original Lazy Song

Almost everyone in America has heard Bruno Mars' latest single "The Lazy Song" and seen the clever music video.  Not everybody has heard Sublime's "Burritos" from their classic eponymous final album.  "I ain't gettin', I ain't gettin' out of bed today" sounds a lot like "Today I don't feel like doing anything/ I just want to lay in my bed" doesn't it?  Not to say Bruno Mars stole anything from Sublime, or knock "The Lazy Song," in fact I really like that song and love its music video.  But it's not a novel concept.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Free Vs. Pirated

I am part of a dying breed, an endangered species.  I buy CDs.  I don't pirate any of my music.  I either buy the CD myself, borrow it from a friend, or download a mixtape that the artist put out for free.  There is something so satisfying about having a CD collection, I can't bring myself to download music, even legally from iTunes.  Crazy right?  What's crazier?  People who pay for mixtapes that are meant to be free.  Go on iTunes, look around the hip-hop section, and you will see mixtapes from the likes of Drake, Chiddy Bang, and many others.  Only problem is there is a pricetag.  Then go on sites like Datpiff, and see that the artists themselves have made these mixtapes available for free download online.
So why did I think of this?  The free album of the week on iTunes this week is I Love You (A Dedication to my Fans), the newest mixtape by Jadakiss.  Ignorant people think they are getting a sweet deal, but anyone with half a brain knows that the mixtape is FREE on any hip-hop blog or mixtape site.  That's the point.  Absolutely baffling.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Eminem in the Rap Game

I just listened to "Rap Game" by D12 featuring 50 Cent from the 8 Mile soundtrack again, after a long hiatus.  It's a great song, D12 and 50 have absolutely dirty verses.  But the clear shining point of this track is Eminem's verse (see: Rap Game Lyrics).  
Some excellent excerpts:  "Now put that in ya little pipe and bite down/ Think for a minute cause the hype has died down/ That I won't go up in the Oval Office right now/ And flip whatever ain't tied down upside down."  I believe him.  I really do.
"Can't tell me shit about the tricks of this trade/ Switchblade, with a little switch to switch blades/ And switch from a six to a sixteen inch blade/ Shit's like a samurai sword or sensai." Great flow from line to line, leading to a very clever ending: "I'm this way, still tell that utslay itchbay/ Ucksay my ikcday, 'scuse my igpay atinlay/ But uckfay you igpay."
Dude rapped in pig latin, how many people have done that?  With a C. Delores Tucker reference to boot, I would put this among Eminem's top verses of his career.  Only down side?  Makes me miss the old him.  Don't get me wrong I enjoyed Recovery but that flow, lyrical content, swagger, all gone.  He has resorted to punchline rapping nearly exclusively, the style prevalent in the music of Lil' Wayne.  He may be lost for good at this point, only time will tell.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sean Kingston Injured in Jet Ski Accident

Yesterday, Sunday May 29th rapper Sean Kingston was jet skiing with a female passenger in Miami when his jet ski struck the bridge between the McArthur Cswy and Palm Island.  His passenger was uninjured, while Kingston was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and is currently stable.  My thoughts go out to Sean and his family.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Radio Killed the Hip-Hop Star

If you listened to the radio at all over the summer, you heard the same five songs played about 85% of the time.  And it seemed as if B.o.B's "Airplanes, pt. II" was second only to Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" in radio plays.  When B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray first dropped last April, this was easily my favorite new song at the time.  Then after having it piped into my ears almost constantly, I started to feel the same way Tyler, the Creator does about B.o.B (see: "Yonkers").  However it recently came up on shuffle and I realized once again how much I like that song.  Bottom line: don't listen to the radio too much, and go give some of your favorite songs that radio killed another listen, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Rock the Bells 2011

Rock the Bells is an annual hip-hop festival that hits a few major US cities, including New York City.  I was lucky enough to be able to go last year, and it blew my mind.  DJ Premier, Slick Rick, Rakim, KRS-ONE, Lauryn Hill, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Big Sean, Murs, Immortal Technique, Yelawolf, Brother Ali, and Wiz Khalifa.  Concert of a lifetime.  Couldn't be topped right? Well...the Rock the Bells 2011 lineup was just announced, take a look for yourself:

...I'm sorry, does that say Nas?  and about 10 of the top 50 rappers/groups of all time?  Four stages of some of the best hip-hop you will ever hear...yea...I'll be there.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

RIP Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011)

I don't know if I can take anymore.  Shortly after the loss of hip-hop legend Nate Dogg, on Friday night, May 27th we lost the soul legend Gil Scott-Heron.  Heron was born in Chicago, Illinois, lived for a time in Jackson, Tennessee, and later moved, and spent most of his time in New York City, New York.  Heron worked with and influenced some of the greatest musicians of his time.  In 2001, Heron was imprisoned for possession of cocaine.  After getting into trouble numerous times for the next 5 years, and after allegations that he had AIDS arose, Heron was able to recover from his addictions, and return to music.  His comeback included a critically acclaimed album, and benefit concerts, something he partook in often throughout his career.  Heron died in New York City after getting sick on a European trip.
Heron's career spanned 40 years, from 1970 all the way until last year, 2010.  His accomplishments include 15 studio albums, 9 live albums, 11 compilation albums, 5 books, and 3 film appearances.  However it is what he inspired, perhaps more than what he made that is his greatest legacy. Known as "the black Bob Dylan" and "the godfather of rap," Heron's spoken word songs over instrumentals, such as the timeless "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"  have been labeled as the earliest rap songs ever recorded.  If that wasn't enough, his songs were repeatedly sampled throughout hip-hop, allowing Heron's music to live on in a new generation, who may have never heard of his name.  The list of rappers and producers who have sampled his music includes Aesop Rock, Talib Kweli, Common, Grand Puba, Black Star, MF Doom, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Dr. Dre, The Game, and most notably Kanye West.  
For those of you who haven't had the privilege of hearing Heron's music yet, please take this time to get acquainted with at least his biggest songs (see: "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," "Home Is Where the Hatred Is," "Pieces of a Man," "The Get out of the Ghetto Blues," and "The Bottle")  His albums Pieces of a Man, Free Will, and Winter in America are all well worth buying and should be considered American classics.  
In response to Heron's passing, hip-hop icon Chuck D wrote "RIP GSH..and we do what we do and how we do because of you." on his twitter account.  His sentiment is echoed by all who knew, or knew of Gil Scott-Heron.  The revolution will never be televised.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

#1 Music Video of All Time

"Hold it Now, Hit it" by the legendary Beastie Boys from their debut classic, Licensed to Ill, produced by Rick Rubin.  Best music video of all time.  That is all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Adam's Song

I was just listening to one of my favorite songs, Adam's Song by Blink 182.  While I knew it was about suicide, and its quite a depressing song, I just heard the actual lyrics to one line I had been mishearing all of these years.  The line the way I heard it was "Remember the time I spilled the cup/ of apple juice in the hall/  please tell mom it was not her fault."  So I thought it was about him apologizing for spilling a cup of apple juice.  The actual line is "Remember the time I spilled the cup/ of apple juice in the hall/ please tell mom this is not her fault."  Assuming this is a suicide note confession, he is informing his mother that she did not cause him to kill himself.  Don't tell me that the transition from spilling apple juice to a son's suicide not being the mother's fault is not the craziest transition ever.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On Lil Wayne

I'm just going to put this out there, listening to "John" by Lil Wayne feat. Rick Ross just makes me want to listen to "I'm Not a Star" by Rozay, the song it samples.  Theres really no point for Lil Wayne to have made a worse song, that is basically just an extended version of Ricky's.  Ross should have thrown Wayne on the remix instead, maybe mask him with a Wale appearance even, something to limit the amount we have to hear him in this song.
On a similar note, why would Cool & Dre choose to highlight the difference between The Game's and Lil Wayne's voices in their recent collaboration "Red Nation?"  I enjoy the sample, hook, the verses aren't terrible, and overall it's a good song.  But hearing Game's famously raspy voice and then what sounds like Lil Wayne on helium in the same second is always going to be an awkward transition.  Something tells me that is not actually Wayne's voice, and if it is, use some program to smooth it out because that's just flat out irritating.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is hip-hop getting soft?

A few days ago in class I mentioned the name C. Delores Tucker, only to be answered with 30 blank stares, including that of my teacher.  Not long after, someone asked me if Louis Farrakhan was still alive (and to be honest I was not 100% sure he was myself).  I can't remember the exact story (if someone can find it, either message me or put it in a comment), but sometime last year some reporter heard the Public Enemy song "911 is a Joke" and thought it was about 9/11, ignoring the fact it is explicitly about the police, and was made in 1990.  (For those of you not yet on my wavelength, a small wikipedia summary of the issues at hand will suffice).
The point is: the times they are a'changing, and the revolutionary hip-hop landscape of the 80s and 90s has all but disappeared.  What we see instead is a money machine, with a mainstream developing to placate pop radio demands, and an underground developing just to be different, in an almost hipster irony.  Any of those in the middle (see: Atmosphere) write about love or their childhoods.  While I am certainly not knocking this, and in fact I think is the best hip-hop we have in the 2010's, it is harmless at best.
While I was not alive to experience it, my research into the topic has taught me something about the nation-wide effect Ice Cube's Death Certificate had, for example.  Hell, the popular video game series Grand Theft Auto has caused more of a stir than any hip-hop album in the past 15 years.  I'm not supporting violent, riot inducing music, but there are certainly political, social, and economic issues which rappers have all experienced before making it big, that can be addressed.
But wait, I must be generalizing.  And I am.  Was Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" or Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" making people uneasy?  Not at all, and there certainly was just as much mainstream "hip-pop" in the 80s and 90s as there is now.  But what revolutionary are we listening to today?  What rappers concern themselves with social, political, and economic inequality?  The first thing I thought of was Lupe Fiasco, because of the recent release of his politically-charged "Words I Never Said."
For those of you who don't know, it seems Lupe realized that he had not been explicit enough in his social critique in his past albums, and decided to touch on every political and social issue of the last decade.  From the War on Terror, to education, to his opinions on our president, Lupe cursed his way to an emotional, explicit song expressing his anger about the way things are.  I blame his audience for this odd outburst of frustration, because if they had ever listened in the past, they would have realized songs like "The Instrumental" and even "Streets on Fire"  are social commentary, just in a more subtle matter, which the casual listener won't catch.  But then I was stuck.  I'm sure Lupe does not stand alone, but he certainly does run in a small circle in this respect.  It seems we are at a shortage of revolutionaries, and the image of hip-hop in the media and in the national conscience is hurting because of it.
Now what does this all mean?  What do we do with this knowledge?  Well I don't know.  I am the farthest thing from a rapper, but I do know that instead of the definition of "hard" being determined by how many guns you own, and how well you "hold your corner down," it should be about what kind of impact you have made in the world.  Because really, in 2100, do we want to remember NWA or Ace Hood?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ch-check it out

Looking around the web I recently stumbled upon this t-shirt design, and thought it was well worth sharing:
For those of you unfortunate few who don't get it, read up on your hip-hop history.  In 1995, rapper Skee-Lo released his biggest hit, "I Wish," with the hook: "I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her.  I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat, and a '64 Impala."  Get it now?  The shirt can be bought here:
Skee-Lo I wish t-shirt

Friday, May 13, 2011

How do you know you love hip-hop?

Recently my friend and I were discussing our iTunes libraries, and noticed the music was measured in days, nearing a week and a half (I have since reached 16.2 days) of nearly all hip-hop.  This spurred a long discussion of other signs of our hip-hop obsession, ending in this polished list.  Let me know what should be added, or which points you found most interesting.

How do you know you love hip-hop?
when your iTunes is measured in days worth of music?
when your library has taken up every MB of space your laptop has?
when you've deleted phone contacts to fit songs?
when 99% of your wall to walls are centered on rap radar links?
when your fantasy team names are lyrics?
when you have a song titled specifically ‘sleeping’ and ‘waking up’?
when you own a physical copy of ‘People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm’?
when you own a vinyl of ‘Rappers Delight’?
when you spell 'good' as 'G.O.O.D' and 'album' as 'alblum'?
when you no longer think of good, lasers, or grind the same way?
when 'DWYCK' isn't a random arrangement of letters?
when half your iTunes lacks album covers, not because the music is stolen, but because iTunes hasn't heard of the songs?
when you want to say "that's not new" to literally everyone who talks about a song?
when you know Ice-T isn't a lawyer and you know lemonade is a popular drink?
when it's no longer 'stop, drop, and roll' it's 'stop, drop, shut em down, open up shop'?
when woop woop isn't a celebration it's the sound of the beast?
when one of the best verses you've heard involves a rapper washing his face, getting the file for his fingernails, taking a bubble bath, and using baby powder?
when you steal a 'Judge Asher' sign?
when bongress means something to you, and it is more important than congress?
when your rules for being a wingman come from CyHi and Asher?
when you know who Pittsburgh Slim is?
when you despise Pittsburgh Slim without hearing a single song?
when your new music comes out 3-4 months before it's new?
when you've dropped $100 to see people who haven't released music in 15 years? and will do it every year? but will never skip wu tang again?
when your biggest regret is not seeing Wu Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg perform?
when DJ doesn't make you think of flashing lights and extacy?  when you read that sentence and it doesn't make sense at first because all you can think about is 'Flashing Lights' by Kanye West?  when you put on 'Flashing Lights'?
when you know Kanye was right and Taylor Swift needs to shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down?
when legends are dead at 24?
when it's a quarter to 1 and you're doing this instead of a paper?  when you dont have a paper to do but are still up because too many songs are stuck in your head and you can't sleep until you've heard them all?
when 'rhyme' is spelled 'rhime'?  and 'quick' 'quik'? and 'light' 'lyte'?  and 'easy' 'eazy'?
when you can say 5 different names and mean the same person?
when you appreciate the work of Queen Latifah?  when that sentence doesn't mean movies?
when you aren't convinced weed is illegal?
when you've seen every episode of 'Trapped in the Closet?
when the thing you care about most in your car is what you're listening to?
when you've dropped $250 on headphones? $250 on a car stereo? and more on the music coming through them?
when you know why Diddy is famous?
when you're writing a paper at the age of 17 and Microsoft Word has to tell you the word is 'ludicrous' not 'ludacris'?
when it must be the aaassssss that got you like damn?
when you make this list?

Post #1: The relatively short hello

Hi all,

I'm new to this blogging business, but I figured my opinions are as valid as anyones, and deserve to be heard.  I will mainly be writing about music, specifically hip-hop, and sports, what I think about 90% of the time. I hope you enjoy, subscribe, and comment so I know what you guys think about the issues I post.