Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I don't know about some of you, but for me, winter signals a shift in the kind of rap I want to hear. In the spring and summer, I'm a bit more inclined to listen to tales of workin' the slab, bendin' corners, chasin' hoes and all that fun stuff. The music feels warm and appropriate for the time of year. But as soon as winter rolls around, all I want to hear are crime tales from abandoned urban youth. A couple years ago, right before finals, I distinctly remember only listening to Hell on Earth, The Infamous, and Hell Hath No Fury for a couple weeks straight. Obviously the weather alters my mood. After reading about Tray revisiting The College Dropout five years later, he inspired me to go back to a time when I thought Kanye was a rapper that I could connect to. That's not to say I ever thought he was the best, but let's be honest; I'm not from, nor have I ever had to run the streets. So listening to some guy who comes from a fairly well-educated family rap about topics that matter to him was pretty affecting to me. But now that I'm older, those skits fall way, way flatter than i remember. Maybe it's because I am also a college graduate without a drug habit or a job at the Gap.
Anyway, along with the change in weather, there's a big event (in my mind) coming to Cambridge in a couple weeks: M.O.P. at the Middle East. In anticipation of that, as well as my hunger for riot music in the winter, I've been listening a lot to First Family 4 Life. It's not as clean in execution as Firing Squad, which has Premier as executive producer, but this thing is pretty tight. I've written about "4 Alarm Blaze" before, but thinking back, I have a hard time figuring out what is really the standout track on this album. Firing Squad, for me, has a couple clear standout tracks: "New Jack City," "Anticipation," "Brownsville" and "Downtown Swinga '96." FF4L lacks the standalone "signature" track of the album (maybe "Handle Ur Bizness"), but they're all so good it doesn't matter. Premo gives Fizzy Womack and Berkowitz five great beats, and the ones by Laze-E-Laze and Fame are great too. In terms of rapping, these two break no new ground, and you know that is true with any M.O.P. song. But these two have more passion in their voices than most; I can always feel their hunger and borderline desperation. The guest list is pretty on point, too: Tef, Jay-Z, O.C., Heather B, Guru, Freddie Foxx, and Treach. Besides Guru, all have great, energetic performances. Thinking about Guru being sleepy reminds me, why isn't "1/2 & 1/2" on this album, or a Gang Starr album for that matter? I know it's on Full Clip, but there is no excuse for either party to omit such a gem.
Getting back to business, whereas Firing Squad is a really well constructed album that builds up to its best songs then allows you some time to soak it all in (an hour of Fame and Danze yelling at you/threatening fake-ass gangstas can get a bit too intense at times), FF4L feels like a collection of the best songs that the Mash Out Posse had made over the course of a year. If you have a chance, totally pick this up.
M.O.P. (prod. by Premier)- Breakin' the Rules
M.O.P.- Facing Off
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Since my roommates have been gone this past week, I have had a lot of time to myself recently. So, besides doing the usual running, reading, etc., I've also been watching TV. Actually, I broke out the second season of Chappelle's Show that my dad got me for Christmas two years ago. This week was the first time I had watched any of those episodes since they aired 5 (!) years ago. I don't think I can describe how committed I was to this show. When it came out my junior year of high school, for whatever reason, I was incredibly amped. To give you some perspective, I had really only seen Dave Chappelle in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Nutty Professor, and heard all my friends quote Half Baked without actually seeing the movie. So given how unfamiliar I was with his work, there was no reason for me to care so much. But every week, I was hooked and would talk about, quote and reenact skits with my friends Thursday mornings. This may seem odd, but this week I've spent some time thinking what about this show appealed to me so much. It wasn't the humor, because like I just said, I didn't really know that guy's sense of humor like I think I do now. Then I realized something about the television shows I had watched as a kid with my family. Save for a few (like In Living Color or The Chris Rock Show), many were about black families and how they dealt with life. That's great and all, but kind of distancing for someone high school or college age. Also, given that Dave Chappelle is one of the few black comics who grew up in a pretty diverse environment (between Yellow Springs, Ohio and DC), his point of view made a lot of sense to me as someone who was and has been essentially one of the only black people in his classroom/office space. Also, the inclusion of musical guests who appealed to my sensibilities at the time made the show feel like even more of a personal connection between me and this random 30-something guy. So with that little introduction, I thought I'd share some songs I thought of while watching the show that aren't by Prince or Rick James. Besides, my favorite sketch is the World Series of Dice.
Youngbloodz feat. Lil' Jon- Damn!
It was very obvious the opening line "They callin' me, to come back to the street" spoke to him since he quoted it a few times before going into those Lil' Jon impersonations. I cannot tell you how annoyed I got from people at my school asking me to impersonate Dave Chappelle impersonating Lil' Jon. As a wise man (who deserves his own post) once said, white people. In defense of that picture, I go running in the cold of Boston... but with tights on. Also, what happened to these guys?
Black Star- Thieves in the Night
Just based on how many times these two were featured on his show, it's obvious Chappelle loved their music. Hell, he does the intro for Kweli's "Quality." He used to have an iTunes celebrity playlist, but they took that shit down. I remember this one being on there and he quoted the line about the yacht and a slave ship. You know it, I do too, so there's no real need to be precise with it.
DMX- Get At Me Dog
Like any rap fan with a smidgen of goddamn sense, Dave Chappelle loved DMX in some way. I own Belly. There's no reason not to like this song; besides, it includes a reference to Optimus Prime.
Happy new year, by the way. I'll try and get back to posting regularly and writing about topics of consequence soon. Which means I need to get back to a record store or search my hard drive. I'm on it.