Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bet your bottom dollar you'll be spittin' over rhymes.

It's hard to do something like this without repeating myself, and I also realized I don't have some of these songs, though I think that may be a good thing. These songs disturb me, but it's all love like tennis. Anyway, let's get this started:

Diddy- The Future

Two years ago, when the rap blog world found out Pharoahe Monch had written 2(!) songs for Diddy, we were all in shock. After "The Future" leaked, the response was even worse. Personally, I think this thing is great. It just proves Diddy could never command respect using the power of speech. He stumbles over his words, making a potentially great line like, "this is the man who provided more jobs for Blacks than Armed Services" into some silly goose shit. It doesn't hurt that Pharoahe didn't even attempt to write a real song for this guy. "Early, I skip breakfast/ A nigga be on his grind like he needs new brake pads?" He's had better days. But hearing Diddy sound so convinced the Monch gave him the gospel, it's hard to to enjoy. Especially when he yells towards the end, "Fuck with me now!" "Hold Up" is another Monch/Diddy gem.

Download "The Future"

Cedric Ceballos- Flow On

This may not seem like a collaboration, but the song was produced by Warren G (you can hear him in the second and third verses). This thing is too great. If you ever get a chance, check out B Ball's Best Kept Secret, Patrick introduced it to me last year and it has some gems. What the hell is the "Ba, ba, bababa?" When is LeBron going to release an album, I'm sure he has a bunch of bad king similes and metaphors in a notebook somewhere. Though he probably saw what happens when you say, "step to me with faggot tendencies, you'll be sleepin' where the maggots be."

Maxwell- Fortunate

This is the only decent song out the bunch, and for whatever reason, I was reminded of it recently. R. Kelly's lyrics are serviceable, but it's really sold by Maxwell, remember, that guy who covered that Kate Bush song? This came out for the soundtrack to Life, which also had that K-Ci and JoJo song where they sang the word "life" for about four minutes. Yea, this was much better. Also, where has the R-ah been recently? I heard him singing about his lemonade on the remix to "Customer," but since then he's been AWOL. These two should get together again, it worked the first time. Or Maxwell could do what Bilal does now, and become the budget Anthony Hamilton on rap hooks, and he was the budget Nate Dogg. Well, Maxwell did do some song with Nas on Street's Disciple (do they hang out?), so I guess that would make him like D'Angelo.

I really wish I had zshares of all these suckers, so if anyone can help, I'd really appreciate it.


It's been a while since I posted anything, and I really have no excuse. It is not as though I am in school getting ready for finals or packing up my stuff to go home for the winter (yet), I was just at a loss for things to discuss. But that is normally how the end of the year goes, so I don't feel so bad. With the end of 2008 come "best of the year" lists, and those can be found (so far) if you go to the websites of Noz, Weiss, Doc Zeus, and Tray. My list falls somewhere between all of them, but I will wait a while until I come up with anything. Real quickly, I never knew there was a West Coast Remix to "Drivin' Down the Block," who are those other guys?

After being reminded of "Party All the Time" by Tray, I think this is appropriate

Talk about a weird collaboration, which sounds like a good idea for a post. A taste of what is to come: The Future. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Since I don't want to get a letter from Google, I will just direct you to this, the uncut video of Jadakiss' "Knock Yourself Out." I didn't know they made an uncut version, and I am completely dumbfounded by what I just saw. Wow, that was wrong on many levels. I am completely speechless. The years 1997-2002 were very good/forgiving to rappers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

All you hear is tick and pow.

First of all, I didn't know you could chop and screw videos. I also think it's a bit of a bad idea. Anyway, last week, on my way to work, I realized that my Air Force 2s, having had them for close to three years, were just too old to cut it anymore. The rain will help you realize something like that. So, taking Monique's advice from a couple weeks ago, I went looking for the shoe store Bodega. Man, what a place. A coworker of mine has also shopped there and recommended it, but what no one told me was that the owners of the store liked to make shopping a huge experience. To get to the actual shoes, you had to pass through an automatic door that looks like it is covered with grocery items. I felt like I was entering the batcave or something. Once you pass the door, though, it's a real upscale place in the vein of Ubiq in Philly. I got some nice shoes, Clae Mcqueens if you are curious. Anyway, it was an interesting experience to see all those hipsters, and I even found Underground Hip Hop, though I didn't look around it at all. Let's get down to business, shall we?

G-Side- Speed of Sound

Regardless of what Tray has to say about the lyrics not really matching the beat, with a song like this, it works just fine for me. I should really check out their new album, since it seems like all rap blog trolls have been waiting a while for it. Also, B.o.B. should really try and hook up with the Block Beataz if he wants to keep up his space rap persona. At this point, they're certain to be cheaper than whoever Grand Hustle employs.

B.o.B. feat. T.I.- I'm Dat Nigga

Speak of the devil, he came off pretty well with this one. When does T.I. plan to serve his sentence? If it were to simply loom over him and he started making great songs with up and coming artists, I would not be upset at all. Of course, it is a shame that it took the fear of prison to light a fire under his ass. I also checked my Google search: T.I. does not pop up. Work on that, Clifford.

Pharoahe Monch & Shabaam Sahdeeq- WWIII

Yea, Shabaam got destroyed. There's really nothing more to say, it was a federal crime for sure.

Busta Rhymes- So Hardcore

All this recent talk of post-lyricism and "Arab Money" takes me back to a time when Busta was my favorite rapper, which was about eleven or twelve years ago. He just seemed to be having more fun than anyone, regardless of whether he was making sense. And most of the time, he wasn't. This is the lone Jay Dee contribution from When Disaster Strikes and in my mind, it's a doozie. I apologize about the skit at the end.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bent nickels down your way, don't trip

Back when I was in high school, I took the bus every morning and the bus driver would always have the radio tuned to Power 99. Sometime in my junior year, I heard Freeway's "What We Do" and was really grabbed by him. I knew him from that one verse on "1-900-Hustler" but this was his first single and considering he has guest spots from Jay and Beanie Sigel, he ripped it. Lines like, "when the sneaks start leanin' and the heat stop workin', then my heat start workin'" or "if my kids hungry, snatch the dishes out your kitchen" made what he was going through sound much more urgent than the usual sell crack/grind/paper chase talk. It sounded like that album was Free's only shot at a way to make a decent living, and if it didn't work out, he would go to any length to provide for his family. I think his dynamic tempo and barrage of words and details can be too much for some people, but luckily for me Free was in town to do a show. Since he's not homegrown or huge, the turnout wasn't great and that was disappointing. I know if this show had been scheduled at, say, the Trocadero in Philly it would have been pretty nuts. But Boston isn't the most rap-friendly city; I've never seen people more enthralled by UFC fighting than by an act on stage. Regardless of the patrons there, I was kind of surprised at how business-like the show was. When I hear Free's songs, I imagine concerts that are really emotional for him and he does all (and only) the gripping stuff. For example, I could have done without "Take You To the Top" and for most of his set, he only did his opening verse, then a quick snippet a cappella. I would have loved to hear "Baby Don't Do It" or all of "Free." So in honor of Freeway's perpetual grind in his songs, and my lack of hot water, here's what I'm rocking to this week:

Freeway feat. Faith Evans- Don't Cross the Line

The thing that has always stood out to me about Philadelphia Freeway is how Free is completely unapologetic about showing his love for Biggie and Snoop. The album is littered with Big quotes ("red boxers so my dick can breathe") or comparisons to DPG as well as doing songs with Snoop or Nate Dogg, whether or not they fit the album's tone. This song is no exception, but it finds Free at his best rapping like he needs to get something off his chest over a nice Just Blaze beats. As a quick sidenote, why would JB not work with free to devote his time to Saigon? Freeway's a great rapper with a unique style, while I can't recall a line by Saigon. Not to mention Free has actually been able to get his music out to his fans and develop a following, while Saigon complains on myspace. But what do I know?

Bohagon- Sing the Blues

If you never check out BLVD ST, you need to do so right now. Apparently, Bo's appeared on a gang of Lil Jon and Trillville songs, but I neglected to check those out, and I am quite fine with that. The only songs I know that feature Bohagon are "If It's Bumpin'" from Bubba Sparxxx's first album and an unreleased Jim Crow song. Noz, ever the champion of mistreated rap acts, caught up with Bohagon for the Fader a couple months ago, and hopefully we'll get to here more joints like this. This was produced by OutKast affiliate Mr. DJ, and BLVD ST has a great running series of unreleased songs produced by him. It's not some crazy, outer-space beat that might work for 'Kast, it feels like something in the vein of "Big Dreams".

UGK- Belts to Match

If you've ever heard "Tough Guy," you know that a UGK/Organized Noize collaboration makes for a great song. You also know that it means the song end up on the soundtrack of a terrible movie, in this case The Wood. While some wonder why Jive can't get their act together, I wonder why Bun and Pimp never added these songs to Dirty Money since they were both recorded before the album came out. In some ways, I see how Organized Noize and OutKast sound out of place compared to the beats of UGK, but it's a risk that should have been taken. Bonus track status at the very least would have been OK with me. This beat sort of reminds me of an upbeat version of "Spaghetti Junction" while Bun, Pimp and Smitty sound like they're doing a sequel of sorts to "Pinky Ring."

Cam'Ron- Killa Cam

Come on, he's the realest since "Kum Ba Ya."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fun at the thrift store

Since I am finally getting adjusted to my new home in Boston, I figured this weekend I'd try and find a used record store that I could frequent whenever I felt the need. Last summer, when I was in Seattle, this worked out pretty well. I lived right around the corner from one and got Deliverance, Still Standing, Ain't A Damn Thing Changed and at least one non-rap album, I just forget off the top of my head right now. I've heard so much about how Boston is a great music town, so it seemed obvious to me that there would be plenty of used record stores all over the place, especially since I live pretty close to BC.

Not so. On my first outing to find records, I came up with basically nothing. Imagine that, there are no used record stores in the hipster section (however small) of this city. All I was able to find were two cassette singles: 3rd Bass' "Pop Goes the Weasel" and Kriss Kross' "Jump." They really helped with my Halloween costume at the very least, but I rarely want to hear much from either of those groups. Anyway, I was at a party on Friday night with a friend of mine, and instead of mingling (like any good young, single person) with the other guests, I read the recent city guide put out by the Weekly Dig and saw an entry about the thrift store Diskovery. What a great find that was. I got some great stuff for only $4. Here's the stuff I could upload really easily:

Jim Crow- Holla At a Playa (Single)

What. A. Find. And it was free. There's really nothing more to say that I haven't mentioned before. I will say I'm disappointed that the Trackmasters remix only comes edited. Luckily, the Polow remix has the same verses but keeps most of the elements of the original beat. The switch when Too $hort comes in is pretty slick, too. It's no "Throw Some D's," but it's a cool early look at Polow's skills.

Holla At a Playa (Polow Remix feat. Too $hort)

Rahzel- Make the Music 2000

I cannot tell you how many afternoons I wasted as a kid with my brother playing NBA Live 2000 and hearing "All I Know" and Naughty By Nature's two biggest songs (if you have the game, you know). I also remember seeing him on MTV's "Direct Effect" with Sway and thinking he was the coolest guy around. Probably because he was a former member of the Roots. And he could do a beat like "If Your Girl Only Knew" while doing the vocals at the same time. Gimmicky? Yes. But a great gimmick nonetheless. In hindsight, was he even a part of the Roots after their first album? All the skits on the later albums I have say "vs. Scratch," even though Rahzel has tons more personality and talent. Why he left is something I'd be curious to know, as well as how he got beats from Pete Rock, Scott Storch and Marley Marl. I'll give it a better listen and then offer my thoughts soon. The nostalgia value alone of remembering my great seasons playing as the '98-'99 Kings made this find way worth it. Free .99 as well.

All I Know

Monday, October 27, 2008

Like my name was Stone Cold Austin

Wow, does anyone remember this? Apparently, Informal Introduction is getting the anniversary addition treatment. Record labels were just giving anyone a deal six years ago, damn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From '88 to right now, I was never broke.

Let me start by saying this is not a post like last week. I didn't scour the internet looking for an album that, while it had a sizable impact at the time of its release, faded into obscurity quickly afterwards. No, Mr. Man and Boo Bonic do not deserve that sort of dedication. Let's be real: these guys sucked. Lame voices, lyrics and just an overall unoriginal aesthetic makes it hard for me to tolerate these guys much. The main reason I'm paying them any attention is because they're from the Delaware Valley, and Power 99 will support any artist that comes out of there, even Ness from Da Band with his (terrible) single "My Hood." I remember being on the bus in high school and hearing "Cross the Border" at least once on the way to Princeton. The beat wasn't great, and the lyrics certainly didn't bring much to the table, but over and over again it'd get burn. I like the song mostly because of nostalgia, so imagine my surprise when a) I learned there was a remix and b) it was really, really good.

Both songs are produced by the Neptunes, and the "Cross the Border" remix has a completely different feel than the original. Gone are the cheesy fake Mexican guitars and offbeat horns on the chorus. Instead, we have a keyboard sound similar to "Superthug" paired with some great, vintage 'Tunes drum programming. This is easily one of their best beats.

One would think all this effort would get wasted by two lame and thankfully forgotten MCs (how they got so much support from the Neptunes near their peak, I will never understand), but there are all new verses and guest spots that steal the show. The first is Pusha T on the second verse. It's obvious he'd come a long way since "The Funeral," slowing down is flow while keeping the writing crisp. It serves as a good preview of what was to come on Lord Willin'. The second one is Fabolous. Someone should have told him early on to stick with this if he wanted any sort of status in the rap world, as songs like "Baby" and "Tit 4 Tat" just aren't doing it. It's not as good as "Breathe," but it's only one verse. Besides, any halfway competent rapper sounds golden next to these two clowns.

Here is the "Cross the Border" remix.

Here is a 2002 Clipse freestyle from Rap City over the same beat, and I think the origin of "Eghck"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wrecking ball nuts.

If I told you there was an album released in 2000 that featured production from the Neptunes on four songs and Earthtone III (which is just OutKast and Mr. DJ) on another three songs, you probably would not believe me if I said it had been pretty unfairly overlooked over the course of time. Especially considering it went 3x platinum and spawned one of the biggest hits of the year, and one of the other singles featured OutKast. Yet, such is the case for Mystikal's Let's Get Ready, even though everyone knows the song "Shake Ya Ass."

During the time of this album's release, my understanding of Mystikal's previous musical output was mostly limited to songs like "It Ain't My Fault," which besides Silkk the Shocker, was pretty awesome. Imagine my surprise when, before starting high school, I heard and saw the video for "Shake Ya Ass." It was a totally different sound compared to what I had heard from him previously, and the video didn't hurt either. Ultimately, I figured that the album would find Mystikal back to his old No Limit ways with features from amazingly awful rappers. I was very wrong.

Obviously, anytime you get production from late 90's - early 2000s Neptunes for almost a third of an album, your bound to be interested by the beats at least. Thankfully, it is more than the beats that are engaging. Kind of like Backbone, Mystikal has a very dynamic tone of rapping, it's just that, unlike Mr. Fat Face, The Braids knows when to accentuate his phrasing at the right point. This works really well with the Neptunes' off the wall production, so that even when Mystikal spends an entire verse naming family members on "Family," it's hard to stop listening. I wanted to know who came next.

What really surprised me about this album was how weird and insular it is. Though "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger" work alone and in the context of the album, they don't really represent the tone that Mystikal seemed to be going for. It's not so much that it is a personal album as it is a definitive portrait of Michael Tyler as an artist. While someone like Brandon Soderberg is talking about post-lyricism and its roots in the verses on Andre 3000, Mystikal is forgotten in all this talk. He will change is tone of voice at will, rap about seemingly weird and random topics with a bunch of tossed off punchlines, and then come back with some emotional punch, like "Murderer III" where he finds and deals with his sister's killer.

Though the songs with the Neptunes are all really good, Mystikal really shines on production from collaborator KLC and Earthtone III. Just listen to "Neck Uv Da Woods," which would have sounded right at home on Stankonia or "Mystikal Fever," which sounds like a precursor to the great "Pussy Crook." It's a shame he got locked up, because after hearing this album, he sounded like he had enough energy and support from the right camps to make even more great music.

Click here for The Braids
Click here for Mystikal Fever

Thursday, October 9, 2008


There are a few songs I've mentioned that are pretty great, though I realize not everyone has the time for "___ zshare" searches on Google like I do. So let's try this out. Do enjoy.

Backbone feat. Cee-Lo & Joi- Lord Have Mercy

Jim Crow- Big Dreams

O.C. feat Organized Konfusion- You Won't Go Far

Big Gipp- History Mystery

Diamond D, Sadat X & Lord Finesse- You Can't Front

Friday, October 3, 2008

Trying to ball like Liberace

You guys already know I enjoy the lost rap trio Jim Crow. So of course, I am happy to be led to Jim Crow's unreleased third album, Bandits. I think what I enjoy most is the idea that a rap group named Jim Crow did a song with a white, Southern rapper (Bubba Sparxxx). And the file has the original version of the Off the Yelzebub classic, "Holla at a Playa." I'm sure I will have something to say about the album soon, as well as Bubba's first joint, depending on time.

Also, if you've never heard "You Won't Go Far," a soundtrack cut by Organized Konfusion and O.C., please do so now. It's from the New Jersey Drive soundtrack (Vol. 2), a movie which is probably more famous for "Benz or Beamer" by OutKast. In true OK form, these guys create a vivid picture of car jacking, it's thrilling and kind of scary at the same time. They're committed to their roles on wax, so it's worth checking out. It's also a really interesting contrast in tone to "Benz or Beamer," since 'Kast use a smooth, relaxed beat compared to the hard-hitting snares and piano in "You Won't Go Far," which I assume is produced by OK. It is sort of reminiscent on O.C.'s "Constables," also done by Prince Po and the Mighty Pharoahe Monchichi. Both are great songs, focused on the process of stealing a car, but the tone the two groups take makes for all the difference in the world. In someways, they highlight the differences between the aesthetics of the two regions at the time. I'm rambling, just listen to the songs. Here's the OutKast joint. Also, take a blue pill while I'm here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I come through swervin'

Rap music is just as much about the image as the substance. Everyone likes to talk about the shirtless thugs that have supposedly ruined hip hop, but collectives like the Native Tongues are just as guilty of using their image and public persona to get their message across. Think about a group like Slum Village: if it were not for beats that sounded like the next phase Tribe and their matching hobo dress, would anyone on Okayplayer seriously defend an album that has the chorus, "Fellatio interference, promiscuous Homo sapiens?" The granola gang was tricked by the way the group marketed itself. The Dungeon Family took advantage of each member's unique/foolish sense of style to craft albums that could range from misogynist or violent to highly spiritual. And the listener would never really be made uncomfortable by the change. Of course, the production of Organized Noize (like Slum's Dilla) had a lot to do with this. And this brings us to Mr. Fat Face 100, Backbone.

It is hard to say why I felt Concrete Law was a bit underwhelming. I am hesitant to say that it was the production. I know if a lot of these beats had been for Goodie Mob or OutKast, I'd say that this was at least a really great listen end to end. It's not that Backbone is particularly bad at rapping, either. Quite contrary, he is rather competent. Instead, his image and the approach he takes to his songs simply do not match. Watch something like the "5 Deuce 4 Tre" video, and he seems like someone who is focused on his grind and "on the come up," as they say. And if you were to simply read his lyrics, you would get that same impression. Like fellow DF member Cool Breeze (who Noz did an XXL post on a long time ago), Backbone's lyrical focus is the trap and it's effects on how he views the world. If the album had quite a few songs like "Slump" or "I Refuse Limitation," this would be absolutely wonderful news. Sadly, there is only one song like that here, "Lord Have Mercy," with Cee-Lo. It is truly a great song. Elsewhere, the emotional weight of the verses gets lost amongst inappropriate beats, meaning they convey a sense that the trap is a refuge, or Backbone's very annoying habit of emphasizing the wrong syllable and raising the pitch on that syllable. It can make for an awkward listen, especially if he is trying to be serious. A party song? Sure, go ahead. Why none of DF told him this, I will never understand.

Besides the single and the aforementioned song with Cee-Lo, there are some other highlights. "Believe That," which features the beat from the opening skit on Aquemini, is pretty great. I guess it doesn't hurt that Gipp and Slimm Calhoun are there to help him out. It's also odd that neither Daddy Fatsacks nor Chamelio Salamander make any sort of appearance. A damn shame, really. The Youngbloodz make an appearance, though they are the only Attic Crew members to do so. It would have been really interesting to hear Backbone and Jim Crow go back and forth, as I think they have a lot in common in terms of how they approach their songs and their personal styles. I can dream I guess.

Here's Noz's DF retrospective/overview, though his Cool Breeze piece is lost (forever?).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It goes oak, leather, rims and tires.

You'll never hear or read me claim that Backbone is actually a good rapper. His voice is weird and off-putting in large chunks, to call him a writer would be a cruel joke to many rappers and other musicians, and his sense of rhythm when he's rapping is just bizarre, what with all the odd pauses and non sequitur lines that come in the middle and end of his verses. For this reason, it's not hard to imagine why I have never really checked for Concrete Law, his 2001 solo debut. He also has an inane obsession with the phrase "5 deuce, 4 tre" (good song though, check it out). Given all my problems with Mr. Fat Face 100, he seems like an odd choice for a blog post. But like I mentioned on No Trivia, Backbone is like the Superb of the Dungeon Family. It's easy to confuse his voice with other, better rappers, but his verses can such great fantastic moments, but I would never be able to tolerate a full length from him. That said, Backbone is twice the rapper Superb wishes he could be, even if Yayo thinks he wrote Supreme Clientele. With all that said, here are my favorite songs that feature Backbone:

Big Boi feat. Backbone- Dubbz

This recent link from Sir Lucious Left Foot is the first we've heard from Backbone since... what, Even in Darkness? Lines like, "the whip super stupid, it ain't got no brains" are the very reason I both love and loathe him at the same time. When I first heard the song, I couldn't believe Backbone was on the track, as he sounds even more nasal than normal. I've never really expected him to blow me away with his rapping skills, and this is a car song, so he just has fun with it, making his style so easy to soak in.

Goodie Mob feat. Backbone & Big Boi- Get Rich to This

I am sure some people think I am a moron for liking anything on World Party, but this one came out right after those great videos for Aquemini and Cool Breeze's "Watch for the Hook," so any Dungeon Family was all right with me. Again, Backbone doesn't really have a point to get across, and neither does the song, so you can enjoy your champagne campaign with it. And his mention of E-40 got me tangenially thinking of the reason why he never really blew up, besides the obvious characteristic of his pretty mediocre rapping. Everyone in DF had some weird personal style that came across in their videos, but Mr. Fat Face was always pretty conservative in his dress (40 Water, on the other hand, always stands out). Maybe he just seemed like some random Southern rapper, rather than a member of the A's premier rap collective.

OutKast feat. Backbone & Big Gipp- We Luv Deez Hoes

Don't lie you love it, and if you don't, you like this song a whole lot. Honestly, his style would have worked very well with Jim Crow on their first album. He and Cutty Cartel both have thick accents and exude style, as that's all they've got. Again with the awkward pauses in the middle of his verses, but the laziness works here. Hoes don't deserve great verses, do they?

OutKast feat. Backbone & Cool Breeze- Slump

Easily one of his best verses, and one of the first where he mentions "5 deuce, 4 tre." His accent and slow pace makes him sound world weary here, and it works great within the context of this song. It's like his verse is sort of a prologue for the other two verses: Backbone explains what he's doing and going through and the reasons for that choice (if it was one), Big Boi offering a note of caution about the lifestyle (sort of like that "next to the hood" concept Brandon Soderberg talked about), and then in the final verse, Cool Breeze takes us back to the trap to the mind of someone looking to get out. Great way to structure a song, and Backbone really delivers in the first song that's not a sort of rowdy party starter.

Goodie Mob feat. Backbone- I Refuse Limitation (Sadly, there's no link for this song. Your loss, sorry.)

His best verse by far. It's like "Slump," but he sounds even more tired from selling drugs and living a dangerous life. It's really short, now that I think about it, so there may be a tie, but something got into him back in '98 that seems to give these verses a sense of urgency and claustrophobia, even though he raps so slowly. Good to have him back after almost ten years. Here's hoping he gets back into the mix, though I may be the only person who decides to pay attention.

NOTE: I found Concrete Law, there will be more Backone to speak of shortly.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Boston.

Sorry I've been gone so long. I've been moving (to Boston), and in the stress of moving with the help of my parents and starting a new (and my first!) job, it seems I've come down with shingles. Which, as you might imagine, is very pleasant. Getting a condition that normally affects people over 60 when you're 22 is a great way to start post-college life. This time, I absolutely promise a post very soon on music. But nothing really current, as it just goes back to the old stuff eventually. And I'm out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I-I-I-I ain't tryin' to leave my old lady

Contrary to what some may have thought, I am not done blogging at all. Like I wrote earlier, being at home takes away any inspiration I may have to write. Luckily that should all change in a couple weeks when I get to Boston. In the meantime, why is no one talking about this song? I will concede that Fonzworth has no business in front of a microphone, but he's damn sure better than Diddy. More importantly, a member of Outkast is on the song, qualifying it for any year-end lists. Sadly, it only exists as a video, as I have yet to hear it compete with "Out Here Grindin'" or "Bust It Baby Pt. 2" on the radio. It's a shame, because if people like dancing, in my mind this kind of beat is perfect. I'm also surprised Mr. West didn't try to get a verse on this beat. Seeing that kind of restraint from him is rare nowadays, though much appreciated. I'm sure once there's a remix, I'll regret that statement.

Robin Thicke's "Magic" is great. Sadly, the video is f-ing atrocious. Please, Robin, don't ever dance.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nene, Daddy's back.

Yea, I saw it.

It always feels weird to write posts in my old living room. I'm in a completely different state of mind when I am in NJ, and it is hard to get motivated to write anything while I am here. But, since I don't start working/move for another month and a half, blogging will be a good project to keep me busy in my ample downtime. Yesterday, I officially moved out of college, and on the way back home, besides listening to one the CDs I made for Off the Yelzebub, I caught some of the local radio station for the first time in months. There are a few things that stuck out to me that I figured I'd make quick notes about:

Noz has his own thoughts on the matter, but I actually kind of like the beat to "A Milli." The first version I listened to had Corey Gunz, who made Mr. F. Baby look lazy and boring. There was some other version with the line "it's nap time/ I'll holla back at you at snack time" which was cute, though I can say I do like the version now with the "what's a goon to a goblin" talk. But, while I was driving past Lincoln Financial Field, I heard "A Billie," Hovie Hov's take on the beat. It's horrendous, simply terrible in my mind. He needs to stop with the "rrrrah, rrrah" thing that he started on that Lupe song from Food and Liquor, "The Pressure," which was so disappointingly underwhelming. The Jadakiss version is worth it simply for the lines "tight shirt, tight pants, all these Homo sapiens" and "Closed casket, leave nothing but legs for them." But somehow, Wayne still sounds the best over the beat, probably because they're both annoying as hell after the first 30 seconds and then I start to zone out.

Bun B's on the remix to "Get Silly." So is the 40 Water. One of these guys fits in my mind, though I may be wrong. Oh, and Polow easily had my favorite verse, given that I've heard the song twice now. Jermaine Dupri should never be allowed near a microphone for reasons that should be obvious.

Busta + Linkin Park = f-ing terrible.

I promise that a write-up of Dirty Money is coming soon. I just need to actually think about what I want to say. Should be easy with nothing else to do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Call me Purdue

Some quick notes on the great personal narrative, "Killa Season," Cam'Ron's movie from a couple years ago that was released on DVD (I think). I saw it almost exactly two years ago with the actual founder of this blog, Jason, and another friend. Of course, I was very drunk as it was senior week so I only remember a few pieces of it. But, Patrick and I watched it again yesterday. First off: this has to be the longest movie (about 2 and a 1/2 hours) about a rapper's life ever... no homo. Any casual readers know I don't use that dumbass phrase, but as this is a movie about DipSet, it's only appropriate. Anyway, on to the highlights:
  • I never need to see the process of how mules transport drugs into and around the world. Maria Full of Grace was enough.
  • I can't figure which situation offends me more: a little girl being shot or a little girl's face being spit on. Somewhere, R. Kelly was smiling when that scene was filmed.
  • Let's take over the block.
  • Don't have sex with crackheads. They'll only take your money... and go to community college and clean their lives up and thank you in a very special way.
  • Michael K. Williams (Omar of the Wire) has the greatest cameo ever. It's a beautiful performance, no homo.
  • Though he hasn't put out a (relevant) compilation album in years, Funkmaster Flex still has paternal-like control over all rappers, especially a guy who says he gets the computers 'putin'.
  • Let's take over the block.
  • Don't claim to be hard or tough, no homo.
As you may be able to tell, TT is back. I have nothing but time on my hands, so in between laser tag and sleeping I'll try and get back to writing some more stuff. I've been out of the loop for the past three weeks or so, please excuse me if I am late on a few things (like Noz losing his job). There's a new muxtape up, since the site crashed a little while ago. There are a few songs I want to post, but the site can't accept them, so check them out here and here. I have a few thoughts on albums I've been giving a lot of burn recently, but I need to get back into the flow of writing, so please be patient. As soon as I'm ready, I'll give it to you raw. No homo.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Man of the year.

I want to do hoodrat things, too.

Monday, May 5, 2008

More or less Lindros

Sorry if posting is infrequent over the next 2 weeks or so; finals beckon, and the idea of graduating is rather enticing. Patrick sent me the newest installation of Prodigy's sage-like musings. Check it out here. He also recently started a muxtape, though I still hate that name.

The above pic is from a recent Off the Yelzebub field trip from Saturday night. Wale came to Haverford last weekend, and while I tend to avoid those kids (like Mr. block-off-access-to-girls-with-a-toll-booth-arm), the show was pretty tight. Big shout to the little singing guy with the shades, they were lovely. Apparently, the Philadelphyinz played afterward, but we missed them. Wah, wah. There are more photos here (kind of).

Monday, April 28, 2008

In the club with dirty foot bitches

Finally, there's a video for this masterpiece. There's a new muxtape up as well. The end of the semester is here, and I was drained, so it was hard to choose a broad selection. Sue me. Also, I couldn't upload the "Drivin' Down the Block (Remix)," which really upset me. Our last show is on Wednesday, and we'll be reading the greatest interview ever along with playing some classic joints. Be sure to tune in.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe

The beginning of 1994, Rudolph Giuliani took office as the mayor of New York City. Running of the position that incumbent mayor Dave Dinkins was soft on crime in a city that was increasingly lawless (which was actually untrue), Giuliani was elected mayor with 49.25 percent of the vote. After taking office, Rudy worked with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to decrease crime. They focused on a Broken Windows approach to eliminate crime, cracking down on what I'd call "quality of life issues:" graffiti, those guys asking to squeegee your windshield, etc. The two also instituted CompStat, which watchers of The Wire may know and have their own opinions on. Giuliani also was responsible for getting the reducing the number of homeless people in NYC... by simply moving them somewhere else. As you might imagine, some of these people would end up in jail due to breaking these "quality of life" laws. He also displaced a lot of people because of his approach to urban reconstruction to reshape Times Square and even boycotted the opening of Arthur Ashe Stadium, and more generally the U.S. Open. To be succinct, Rudy Giuliani was a bit of a douchebag.

You may be reading this and think, "what the hell does this have to do with anything?" Giuliani's presidential run was a joke, and he's been out of office for almost six and a half years. Well, I just downloaded M.O.P.'s First Family 4 Life and it struck me that the guy was pretty hated by rappers, for good reason. And rappers tried to communicate why the guy sucked so much to their listeners, proving once again that these guys are smarter than Bill O'Reilly or whoever would have you believe. So I want to thank the former mayor for making rap music just a bit more insightful during his two terms.

One of these songs is on the muxtape I posted a couple days ago, the Extra P remix of Organized Konfusion's "Stress." Pharoahe and Prince Po were pretty aware guys on their first album, and Stress kept that theme going, but the things they said can sometimes feel like general complaints. Well, pair those complaints with an explicit reference to the new mayor of NYC and things start to make some sense. Pharoahe's pretty quick with the reference: " Yo it's the verbal assult weapon with words uncanny/ You can fool me but I cannot fuck with Rudy Giuliani." That may not mean much on its own, but paired with Large Professor's image of old high school friends homeless or Prince Po questioning NYPD's harassing him because he's young and black, that line sums up inner-city life in New York under Giuliani. The poor and minorities were of no use/dangerous, especially young people, and they needed to be kept in check any way possible. Of course, the easy solution is strong police force, breeding resentment amongst some pretty smart rappers.

Another good example came out, like the "Stress (Extra P Remix)," the same year Giuliani took office, Nas' "The World is Yours (Q-Tip Remix)." I've always wondered how much OK and Esco hung out during the early days before writing for Diddy or "Oochie Wally," because it seems like they do similar topics in different ways. OK does "Stray Bullet," Nas does "I Gave You Power." Organized does "Invetro," Nas has "Fetus" on The Lost Tapes. It's tempting to say Nas is a biter, but he's doing a different take on the same concept (rapping as a gun, not a bullet) and telling a different, though no less interesting tale. Anyway, I'm digressing a lot. Nas is pretty clear how he feels about the new mayor in the second verse of the remix: "Change the flow speed, I'm getting vexed, Giuliani is six six six." What amazes me when I hear the song is how the "six six six" line is offbeat, which is rare for Nas, especially around the time Illmatic came out. It's tempting to say he felt the message was important enough to say regardless of rhythm, but I won't make that leap. What is awesome, is how brash both he and Pharoahe are in their vocal disapproval of a mayor who has been in office no more than five to six months, when these singles were released.

The most surprising reference to me is by the Firing Squad (cla-clack! salute) on "4 Alarm Blaze," posted above. Songs like this make me so happy because they complicate the "hardcore gangsta rap/soft serve ice cream rap" dichotomy. Talking softly does not make you a smart rapper, you need some flash of insight. And bust-your-shit-open energy. This song came out during the start of Giuliani's second term, March of '98, and Fizzy Womack gives it to you as only M.O.P. could: "In the history of crime and rap we some the baddest/ Word to the mommy, any fool try me/ Get hit wit the lami, FUCK Giuliani!!!!" Can I get a witness?!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hooray for the internet

Since I will soon be away from a radio booth, I need to figure out a way to share music with people semi-regularly, because it is just so much fun. Seeing as we here at Trenton Takes always try to stay ahead of the curve, I present to you a muxtape. I have no idea how often I'll update it. I'll do the best I can, but don't expect anything like our show. Although, there will be one song that's a bit... unnecessary.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Put up your bootsees man and pull out your buckets

E-40's always been a bit strange to me, though I am nowhere near being familiar with all his work. It's not like he takes himself so seriously that it's easy to dismiss him for being terrible, and it's not as though he's some lyrical genius either. There's also his voice, which depending on my mood is terrible or an incredible device. Though never let it be said that the man does not have a sense of style. From "my fedi's on the injure list" to "Mustard & Mayonnaise," the man can sell the stupidest phrase and make you want to say, "Hey, where's my yay-per?" That's partially what was initially so surprising about "Ham Sammiches:" why are Gipp and Daddy Fatsacks hanging out with this dude? But he oozes charisma... and he used to have a Lord Jesus Perm. For further proof, here are some of his aliases: TKA (Tycoon Known As) Charlie Hustle, E-Bonics, 40 Fonzarelli, The Ambassador of the Bay, The Ballatician, 40 Belafonte, E-Pheezy, Fortywata (40water), E-4-0, Mr. Flamboyant and Earl Poppin’ His Collar Stevens, and I am sure there are others. Of course, for all that mustard and mayo, there's at least one "Gimme Head." If Noz is to be believed, Charlie Hustlini has an album coming out this year called The Ball Street Journal. While I don't know if I would listen to one of his albums in full, as his style is a lot to handle at times, I imagine there will be something to blast in your scraper, you smell me?

You also have to appreciate his homage to a Seattle classic.

I was lurking aroung Metal Lungies, and apparently Masta Killa is a vegetarian. Let that sit for a little bit.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I never slip, I never fall

So last year, in the wake of Polow Da Don's takeover of pop radio last year, Noz did a quick post on Polow's previous group... Jim Crow. Just let that sit for a while. I remember in high school seeing one video by them, "Holla at a Playa," and I must admit that I kind of liked it. In some ways, I thought the name choice was clever. Just to be clear with anyone who is not familiar with rap, these guys are very clever and want to make an impression so that you continue to follow their musical output. Why else use a "K" in "OutKast," add an "e" to "Pharoahe" or name yourself after Mussolini or Manuel Noriega? These guys are marketing themselves all the time. While you may say, "the music should speak for them," when people have similar styles or are biting your style, you have to stand out in some way. That said, you could make the argument that a Southern rap group called Jim Crow, made of three young black men, is just trying to get by on the provocative nature of their name. That's a fair point, but then why did that one song get stuck in my head? If they're cruising on history, I should just recall every so often that a few dudes from Atlanta had the nerve to name themselves after legalized segregation and oppression. Instead, I have a much more complicated situation: I actually enjoy some of these songs.

There's another issue going on with their name. As we all know, rappers (and really all musical performers) love to perform in character. With a name like Jim Crow, these guys allow themselves to say what could easily be the most offensive, stereotypical, ignorant comments and lyrics that have ever been released for public consumption. Or they could remake songs from "Dumbo." But, as these guys are loosely affiliated with one of the great rap crews ever, the Dungeon Family, what you get instead are just some guys rapping about life in Atlanta. Let me just be clear and say they are nowhere near the level of the Dungeon Family, though they have their moments. Sure, they've made songs with Too $hort about baby mama drama and the nonsense they get into last night, but think about more serious rap groups and their attempts to be lighthearted. Flavor Flav, "Mind Sex," or "Sunshine." All three of these artists are revered by critics for the depth they show on albums while ignoring the aforementioned examples of crap. I think there is something to be said for remaining consistently ignorant for an entire hour. At least when they try to get "DEEP," you find this closer look at the artist engaging as opposed to a cash-in attempt to score women in headwraps.

So what is a rap fan to do? I'm not inclined to reject these guys outright as I don't support censorship and I genuinely find some songs enjoyable (though "Hot Wheels" is a reach). However, simply being a black person who isn't ignorant of the past, oh, (at least, I'm shaky sometimes) 400 years of history, it's really hard to openly admit that I own an album by a group called Jim Crow. Of course, Dick Gregory wrote a book called "Nigger," though I have yet to read. I still get the feeling he tried to get some point across, while Mr. Mo, Polow and Cutty Cartel sound like a Southern Souls of Mischief/Goodie Mob mashup but without the lyrical finesse of each. Basically, I have to keep my enjoyment of their songs to myself... which I just failed to do. At least I'm not in the position Patrick could find himself in if he said to me in public, "Did you hear that new Jim Crow?!!"

Anyway, I somehow found their first album, Crow's Nest from 1999 online and like I said, if you can get past their name (a big "if," I know) it's a pretty good album. The production is pretty tight, though the lone Organized Noize contribution, "Crow 5," is the weakest cut on here in my mind. Odd, since this was a year after Aquemini and right before Stankonia. Obviously, Antwan and Andre get first dibs. Thankfully, they don't try to justify their name choice, as they would have failed miserably at that. Instead, they put together pretty competent raps. They're all jokesters, and Polow's verse on "Throw Some D's" actually borrows from the song "Can We Do This." It's a pretty smooth album, all truth be told, though when thinking about what was coming out of ATL at the time, they sound just ahead of the 2000-2003 DTP/Youngbloodz sound. Had they come out after "Southern Hospitality," maybe they would have blown up. Of course, they also have the name Jim Crow, with a logo to boot.

I know I've managed to offend someone with this post, probably someone I'm related to/knew growing up/Patrick. I also really hope I don't read this later and say "I defended Jim Crow." Well, Noz did it and he's white, so what could be worse?

Friday, March 28, 2008


I want to give a quick shout-out to AaronM of Metal Lungies. I got an email from him a few days ago asking about "Ham Sammiches and Coup Devilles" and he said he read the sight, which is something I always appreciate. Enjoy the song.

One of the people I get my ideas from, Doc Zeus, has a post up about "hipster rap." He names acts like the Cool Kids, the Knux, Mickey Factz and Kidz in the Hall. Like I said in the comments, the only one that makes me a bit suspicious of that classification is Kidz in the Hall. I feel like the idea of a hipster, while very abstract, when it comes to music is based more on the media outlets/venues/etc. an artist is associated with. For example, the Cool Kids were offered to release their Totally Flossed Out EP on the label of M.I.A.'s ex-boyfriend, Diplo. They also went on tour with her last year, and are labelmates of Lady Sovereign. Check their video for "Black Mags" for more proof of their hipsterdom. All that said, I like their music.

Kidz in the Hall is a bit trickier in my mind. I'm not trying to destroy Doc Zeus' argument, becuase I agree with him for the most part. These guys do have a throwback aesthetic, but where some of the other groups I mentioned are self-referential and seem to isolate themselves from the "common" rap world, K.i.t.H. are immersed in it. They're signed to Duck Down Records, first of all. They openly acknowledge and embrace music of the past and its context, which I think is a clear distinction between them, Wale, etc. and more obvious "hipster groups." Also, redoing "'93 Til Infinity" and releasing it as a single shows to me that these guys are trying to reach out to a certain section of the rap world. The Cool Kids' appeal, in the eyes of their common fan, seems more like, "Ha, remember when that look was cool? Totally ironic." While I said on "Not a Blogger" that being a hipster is related to the media outlets groups associate with, I also think a sense of immediacy, that the things that informed the current state of the music don't matter and can be recontextualized in any way is a defining characteristic.

Ultimately, none of this really matters as rap fans are fickle enough to put an end to wack shit on their own (for the most part). Since trying to define a hipster is so difficult in the first place, I won't waste too much energy trying to stereotype a group of people who try to reject any type of categorization. All I know is sometimes, I really can't stand them and I definitely know one when I see one.

In related news, I look forward to seeing a video for this, though "Get Busy" should be the single.

Prodigy has a blog on there is no need for ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME. Here's a little snippet for you:

That said, anyone who has a problem with the captain on this ship will get thrown off the deck on some Capt. Morgan, "Muppets Treasure Island" stuff with the quickness....PEACE....BDING...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Take a voyage to Atlantis...

Thankfully, we are broadcasting any and everywhere thanks to the internet. That means, good folks, we are podcasting. Do yourself a favor, pick up a copy and keep yourself updated. I found "Ham Sammiches and Coup Devilles," the greatest rap title ever, and it's a good song, too. I shouldn't have to tell people about "Royal Flush", but if you don't know, pick it up here. Patrick sent me an email with this subject line:

i just listened to royal flush 4 times in a row

That's basically how I feel, and hopefully you will, too. 2008's shaping up to be a pretty good year for rap just based on this. But combined with We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 3, Rising Down minus "Birthday Girl", Wale's chances of blowing up, and the prospect of a new Devin the Dude tape, this could be lovely. Of course, "Lollipop" ruins any sort of momentum the year had. As long as Lil Boosie's talking about how his dog exploded, though, I think we'll be fine. Which reminds me, and I know people have been saying this for a little while, but I've come around on B.o.B. Any new rapper with lots of hype is something I tend to be skeptical of, but his writing is unique enough that he sounds like he's a mix of older Southern acts, just up to date with his generation. Especially "Left Field." I look forward to more of his stuff.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Owe me back like 40 acres to blacks

The ever-reliable Doc Zeus has a great post about the three videos the Roots have released in anticipation of their new album. Speaking of which, the album art hit the internet on Friday. A quick Google image search tells me the image came from the Raleigh News and Observer in 1900 in response to fears about "Negro rule," what seems like a a sensationalized version of black populism. I will say it's a daring move, and sort of reminds me of KMD's Bl_ck B_st_rds and if Nas's album sees album shelves anytime soon, it could be an interesting year for rap in terms of intended statements by artists. What's odd is that the KMD album was originally shelved as the cover art was deemed too controversial, and I can't say that's something I can argue with. But how is it that now the Roots and Nas are going to be able to get away with images/words that are just as inflammatory? Well, an easy answer is that no one buys albums anymore, especially rap, so the little advance money some artists are given now they are able to use with free reign. That's not to say that there is not the occasional From Nothin' to Somethin', but it seems like rappers that don't really have the ability to score a pop hit are getting a bit more freedom to do as they please with major label money. The examples I'm thinking of are Freeway, Ghost, Prodigy, the LOX, etc. Kind of interesting that a lot of these guys are older rappers, but I'm sure there are exceptions that I'm just not thinking of. The other could be that we're in what a friend of mine so dryly calls a "post-racial society," so those images don't mean as much anymore... But Al Sharpton wanted Esco's head on a platter late last year.

So why aren't the Roots getting any flack? Because they're smart rappers, they would never say anything ignorant, and ?uestlove is probably trying to make some general point anyway. I might've believed that back when "The Next Movement" and "You Owe Me" came out, but now, I am not so sure. The Roots have always been heralded as a rap group thinking outside of their little corner of Philly, though you'd never know it from Thought's raps. Until the last album, Black Thought always sounded most concerned about the happenings of his corner and wanted the listener to understand his world, a place that gets neglected too much. Sure, the cover art of TFA had broader concerns, but the album is pretty straightforward rap. No New World Order, just the 5th dynasty. The Tipping Point did have a young Malcolm X on the cover, but it also was a giant concession to the market. Rising Down sounds like a pretty claustrophobic piece of work so far, but judging from "Get Busy" and "75 Bars (Thought's Reconstruction)," I am not too sure the cover art is some metaphor ?uesto wants us to soak in. I've heard the title track, and it does have this greater focus, but I am not so convinced that the album art and music go hand in hand. That said, I like the cover... a lot. If this album shapes up to be cohesive and focused (and without "Birthday Girl"), that sense of impending doom of the Negroes right around the corner will be a perfect addition to my CD collection. Also, how can you hate artists teaching history through their advertising? Just get rid of Patrick Stump.

Now, if the Roots can do something like this, why can't the N, the a, to the s-i-r? Well, there's his legendary beat selection, his supreme arrogance, and his general knack at pissing people off. Yet I really want to hear this sucker. Hip Hop is Dead was actually pretty good, save a few indulgences, and while most hated the 30's detective accent, I found it pretty novel and definitely something that stuck with me. If Nas can find someone to keep his album on track and focused, then I think we should keep our ears open; Nasty can still put together some tight lines. If his appearance on Ice Cube's "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It (Remix)" with Scarface is any indication, if you give the man a topic, he can easily riff on it effectively. It really just comes down to the beats. That's anyone's guess, as this asshole will literally buy any crap out of a Casio. I know he's going to let me down, but I feel like he knows how much of his respect rides on this album. And not from the mainstream media, but from someone like Premier, whose opinion matters to him (I'd hope). A while back, Brandon Soderberg called Nas out for trying, and failing, to make an intellectual point with the title of this album. Fair criticism, but why not hold the Roots to the same standards? They've been "the next (blank)" for a long time now; you either break through or not. Time to show up or shove off, for the both of the, I say.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring break

I am exhausted, but a couple things first. Erykah Badu is crazy. "A mythical creature," huh? And here's a bit of an event for you.

Friday, February 29, 2008


I'll be honest, I had never really heard of Pharoahe Monch until about the year 1999 or 2000. I had heard "Simon Says," but it didn't really get enough play on the music video stations I was watching to learn it. Then came "Oh No!" with Mos Def and Nate Dogg. I loved the video, there was nothing to it, which let me focus on the rapping. And it was so awesome. But I had no real sense of how good all of it was, especially this Pharoahe/Pharoah Munch or whatever. And for a long time, that was the extent of my collection of songs by Monch. Once I got to college, a good friend of mine who was way more knowledgable about rap (and sort of got me started in listening to it more intensely) once played for me "Drop Bombs" off Stress: the Extinction Agenda. It was only an interlude, but the vague reference to the Vietnam War sort of caught me. Then he played "Official" and "Rape." After "Rape," my mind was blown. Besides Nas's "I Gave You Power" and a handful of other songs, I had never heard a concept so well fleshed out. That's not to say I wasn't creeped out a bit, because I certainly was, but I had to hand it to Pharoahe, he had gall. Later that year, doing my first radio show by myself, I ran out of songs to play on my playlist and looked in the library for something. I found the first Organized Konfusion album (but didn't realize Pharoahe was in the group, somehow) and popped in "Fudge Pudge." I took the CD back with me and listened to it a bit, but I still didn't really pay much attention.

Then, this past summer while I was in Seattle, Pharoahe's second album, Desire, was released. I read a review by Noz, and had downloaded "What It Is" and was loving it even though it was painfully short. I went back to that first OK album and just listened to it over and over. I found more to like from both Prince Po and Monch the more I listened. Then I was able to download Internal Affairs. I just could not stop listening to the way the man not only put words together that looked cool when read, but said things in a way totally sold the image or thought he wanted to convey. Early in the school year, I finally got Stress, and I simply could not stop. Every verse is different, yet somehow a unique style manages to to creep through. Because he never assumed one personality, unlike other MCs, listening to Pharoahe I saw him change from someone threatening to kidnap and decapitate you to a guy simply concerned with how things sound together to being reflective. There's just too much to the man. HOW DARE YOU QUESTION HIS TRENDSETTING, LOOK AT WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE TABLE.

But seriously, this guy is extra nice. Sometimes it's scary to realize he was 19 when he did "Prisoners of War." And while some rappers got tired of bitches and switches and hos and wanted to talk about time traveling, Pharoahe (and Prince Po) simply did it. It's really a shame he only has two solo albums, and more of a shame that the rap climate is such that there is constant turnover to the point that now even OutKast seem outdated on Gangsta Grillz: The Album.

In other news, Lil Boosie is apparently a rising star. And Weezy had a "positively historic" concert in Newark last week. No comment.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Michael Jordan's my cousin

This takes me back to a couple years ago when I was at the Duke lacrosse camp and my brother was at UNC's b-ball camp. Such a stupid, stupid song, but so funny.

The Phoenix has a column about hip hop's relation to the rest of mainstream America. It makes some good points, but I sometimes wonder how much hip hop has become apart of most people's idea of music that is representative of this time. Yes, a lot of people like OutKast (and by that I mean "Hey Ya!" for the most part), but even the biggest rappers like Jay-Z don't have that same hold over an entire generation that acts in other genres have. Even a American Idol album is more of an event than any rapper that has been around for any sizable amount of time. I can't wrap my head around why this is, though if you read Hip Hop Matters you'd have reason to believe Soundscan is responsible for the bastardization of rap. Here's something to consider:

All three of these albums are out of print, and these are the obvious examples. I think you'd be hard pressed to find well-recieved albums from different genres that are out of print. I haven't checked that, so I don't know how strongly I want to stand by it, but I doubt Bobby Byrd's singles can't be found anywhere. No respect, I swear.

The Phoenix column is also notable for referencing a sequel to Bring It On.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Best line on the album? 'L'chaim,' of course!"

I would like to make it clear that I am not necessarily endorsing this man. After seeing Angela Davis speak, you'd be skeptical of anyone with power, too. I just find it amazing/bizarre that he enjoyed (and publicly admitted to enjoying) "American Gangster." Could this be due to its "concept album" status? The real test would be to ask Mr. Oprah, Obama, and Eric B. how he feels about "I Gotta Dollar." However, I've also read somewhere that he might be a fan of Public Enemy and "Success" is his favorite song on AG. Who knows.

Happy belated Valentine's Day. I hope you celebrated like Raekwon, who told the NY Daily News:
It's a special day. It's a day to understand the person who means the most to you. I'm the type of dude who may be in a helicopter over the city having sex.
Hopefully, WSRN's computer will be working this week, so we can have podcasts and webcast to our adoring fanbase. If not, I may just record the shows in the studio and put them on DC++ for Patrick and myself.

And in honor of Black History Month, I'll leave you with Sister Souljah's riveting words. We're at war, that's what she told you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tomorrow 9-11...

We are back. It's Valentine's Day on Thursday, so it will be fun to say the least. The webcast is down right now, so you'll have to literally tune in to listen. The podcast may not go up for this one, which is a shame. Blame the management.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Honest to blog.

This picture is a little over a year old, but I just found it last night and find it hilarious. I think Luda's shirt speaks for itself, but when paired with Young Baracka Obama Taking Office, I can't help but be tickled. This also seems like a giant slap in the face to Oprah, who loves BHO but ridiculed Luva Luva on her show after "Crash" came out. I think it's pretty obvious from his expression that Ludacris is thinking the exact same thing.

I've been sick this week (103.3 degrees, to be exact), so I haven't been in the mood to write anything, so hopefully this will spark me to get some work done. After reading a lot of reviews about the "Juno" soundtrack, which range from favorable to not so kind, I started to realize that in the small world of independent film, there are very few movies that feature hip hop (or really anything that is not "indie rock") as the bulk of the soundtrack. This isn't so surprising, since a lot of rap acts aren't held in universal esteem throughout our generation and the music is still relatively young compared to other genres. There's also the problem that a lot of rappers today use the first-person in their lyrics, as well as mention their names, so it's a bit hard to set some sort of mood when you hear "First Family!!!" in the background. But, I guess "Entourage" has been able to accomplish this to some extent, but a) they only use the most recent songs and b) those songs are really only used for a party setting. If Marky Mark is the executive producer, I don't understand why he can't bring a bit more versatility to the show's soundtrack when it comes to hip hop. He did feature Saigon, I know... but he's lame, and he's a publicity hound. Sorry. There have been good hip hop soundtracks (though for bad movies), but there has yet to be the day when a compilation of all types of rap is the defining characteristic of an independent film that's a critical hit. Honestly, I am not even sure that is possible, given a probable cultural disconnect between someone like Richard Roeper and, well, me. It just strikes me as odd that this hasn't happened yet.

Supposedly, Kanye is performing Sunday. But who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?

Friday, January 25, 2008

It go down like Frazier/ I ain't talkin' Kelsey Grammar

There's been a lot of talk about remixes/posse cuts of late (here, here, here, and here). Brandon Soderberg and I threw around the idea of making TS, Baby, Weezy, Jeezy and Rick Ross some giant group since they all can only last about one good verse anyway. It would be like Hell Hath No Fury on steroids; nothing but gun/crack/money talk that is so incredibly hollow and cliche that it would be hard to actively dislike it because of its outlandish nature. On No Trivia, I compared this idea of an album to a lame version of "Heat," but I think some combination of "Casino"and "Scarface" is more appropriate since these guys have such an affinity for Miami, bright colors and pretending that they are these wild outlaws who will do whatever it takes to live out their version of the "American Dream." Of course, given their egos, something like this would never work, and all the songs would use the same Vangelis/Michael Mann synthesizers to make lines like "What you talkin is irrelevent (relevent)/Shit'll leave a hole in a elephant (boom)" sound like grandiloquent boasts meant to send chills up your spine anytime you see Ross in something like the "Speedin'" video. In short, it'd be fun for a few songs, but kind of a disaster for rap music as a whole. It would also have a lot of DJ Khaled, which would only serve to remind the listener every 3 1/2 minutes how epic the album is.

Moving on, I am going to have to disagree with Noz about these guys not making posse cuts. I struggle to understand how Khaled may be calling up is famous (hardly talented) friends and getting verses in exchange from airtime is different from Marley Marl, an actual radio DJ/producer, calling up is famous (quite talented) friends and getting verses from them while they, by the simple fact of how good their songs are, get airtime. Maybe it's that these songs, by and large, are pretty terrible. While I'm inclined to agree, the fact remains that these dudes got together and made a song, and have done it enough times to look like their loosely affiliated. In my mind, that's a posse. They just mostly suck at all the basics of MCing.

There are some other points Noz has I would nitpick, like the 3 MC rule, but I don't want to sound like his entire post is baseless, plus he has a tape deck-only Scarface playlist up over at Cocaine Blunts. As soon as I figure out how to record from computer to tape, I am so on it. Anyway, I'm glad Breihan resisted the urge to enjoy any song from that camp, I know it can be difficult for him. Quick note, for those who weren't paying attention, Patrick and Breihan have many of the same speech patterns and a similar voice. Except, listening to the podcast, the Village Voice associate editor is hard to tolerate, though I guess that shouldn't be a surprise by now.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

TT is back.

This is a new one: Scarface has the "Song of the Day" on NPR's website. I could see them using one of the Okayplayer usual suspects talking about positivity/"black power"/etc., but instead they chose a song against monogamy. This has caught me off guard to say the least, but I'm happy that the non-hip hop media is writing about rap as music criticism, as opposed to the recent talk of the decline of sales and its effect on the rap business. That song gets stuck in my head all the time, I should check out that album soon.

I was on vacation traveling to Texas and Chicago, and now I am back, finally. This is a bit old, but I remember reading this in my friend's room a couple years ago. Here's a choice quote about Bun's approach to rapping:
BB: Well, the first thing I do is I try to listen to whatever rapping is already on the track. I listen for cadence and melody to see how the track’s already been written, and to make sure that whatever flow or flows I decide to run with, or patterns or melodies that I decide to put into the song, that they’re not already in there. Then I try to see if there’s a different part of the subject matter that I can talk about. If there isn’t, I try to see if I can analogize it, break it down, flip it another way. If that can’t be done, the best thing I can do is pretty much out-rap the guy. And when I say out-rap the guy—say, if he uses ten syllables in a line, I’m going to use fifteen. If he uses fifteen, I’m going to use twenty, twenty-five. If he’s rhyming two or three words within two bars, I’m going to rhyme four or five words in two bars. I’m going to out-skill you.

Here's another one with ?uesto, and if you search the site, there's a lot of other great interviews. Why so few hip hop magazines don't try to get these great interviews is beyond me. Especially since the people writing the interviews in The Believer write for all of the hip hop publications.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008