A blog about hip-hop, rap music, its trends, and an overall thought about the music an culture, without indulging in gossip. A real set of opinions and discussions, not based on the popular sentiment, but examining and challenging it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I don't like mixtapes pt. 2

Okay, I might not have been clear in my first post about the dislike I have for the current mix tape. I understand that it is a promotional tool but a large part fo the problem is that there are too many of them which are by artists trying to make it or D-boys looking to cleanse some dirty money. Number one is that most of these so called rappers now just suck. Honestly, you have to have a story to tell in order to be an interesting artist and most of these guys don't. I'm tired of the same old trap boy stories.

That brings me to another annoying thing about these so-called mixtape DJ's. Half of them aren't real DJ's in the first place. Aspiring producers/ A&R's get their friends/main group together and throw anything on the disc and push it into your face. They don't even have good names for the mix tapes. Clue was always creative and came with something that made his tapes stand out. now you get:








Notice the trend in having a "series". It was alright the first time when you drop something with a common theme, but all of these are the same shits. It's not like a group of angry rappers called 'disciples of X' it's the same 10 rappers and most of the time the same damn tracks. It sounds like one long boring ass song.

Then back to the unsigned artist using a mixtape as a "Street album". Back in the days, If you showed up on a Clue tape you got some notice. However, that wasn't it, you had to be featured on Doo-Wop, Tony Touch, Kid Capri, Kay-Slay, multiple times and not be on some bullshit to be taken seriously. Joe Budden's entire career is based on his Clue freestyles as is Fabolous. The Lox; DMX; Mase all made their names being listed on mixes alongside artists like Biggie and Nas whom you already respected and would listen to. What in the sam hill hell is going to make me pick up:







This last one has the nerve to say Special edition. How do you have the special edition of a mix tape? This is a great example of Hip-hop growing up and yet the bad part about it being exploited at the same time. Even street rappers are going for the gimmicks to try and swindle you out your hard earned three dollars using the best photoshoppers and the offer of unreleased bonus tracks. Isn't this supposed to be a mixtape? How are there bonus tracks? Honsetly if you have as many records as Pac, you should do like he did and hide them until something happens and people wnat to hear even your crappy music.

Which leads to another thing, stop rapping so damn much. Sit back, write a verse, yes actually put that shit on paper, and then evaluate it and decide is this the best that I can do? Too many people these days just want to put anything down and go with it. Few people are that nice and I doubt you are one of them. Secondly on this issue, you are not Lil' Wayne so forge your own identity, he dropped 12 mix tapes in a year and it doesn't mean you should do the same damn thing.


Honestly, I could go on and on about these new mix tapes but then I would just get called even more of a hater. I'll stop here any questions, tweet me twitter.com/remmy1881 or drop a note right here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Music from across the Pond



I get a little bit of e-mail asking me to review music but not that much. I'm not that big yet. I get to it all eventually, I'm always a little pressed for time but I did get around to checking out a song sent to me by BPM (Boys Playing Music) from the UK. Normally listening to music from overseas is odd because of the accents; nothing personal, it just always seems to hit the ear oddly. This 'single' though is very listenable, sort of like Estelle can be not only tolerated but jammed to. That's two major hurdles, overcoming an accent and making a solid single. Shouts out to BPM, here is their myspace myspace.com/boysplayingmusic and twitter if you want to follow them twitter.com/bpmallday




I don't think I've ever posted my twitter on here so if you want to follow me hit up twitter.com/remmy1881

Here is the link to the song: http://www.zshare.net/audio/7174092939c9ac1e/

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nicki Minaj and Lola Love, the new Kim and Foxy?

I was watching a "freestyle" by Ms. Lola Love and the thought came to me that she is more of a Foxy Brown clone when compared to miss Nicki the Ninja who has honed the Lil' Kim image to a T. Remember this?




Now I know all the fellas out there my age definately remember seeing this image. Hell half of the albums Kim sold were off of this picture right here:




Kim and Foxy were the polar opposites of the same chick back then. Kim was the neighborhood whore whom everyone knew but still wanted to deal with anyway. She was about her business and had honed her sex game to the point she could get what she wanted. Her identity was Superhead before we even knew who the hell Karrine Stephens was. Foxy on the other hand was a sassy and street smart young lady who only dealt with boss type dudes who had something in their pockets.




Let's take you back to the mid-90's for a couple of minutes:






Man that was classic. Those were the days. At the very least these two women had created their own identities which reflected the hood a little bit more than the Queen Latifah's and MC Lyte's that came before. Now Nicki and 'Lola Monroe' are the latest incarnations of them with slight differences. Nicki is more street than Kim was and Lola has a little bit more sex appeal than Foxy did; showing obvious nods to both ladies.









Only time will tell if they can make a lasting impression on hip-hop. Personally I haven't been that impressed with either of them but Nicki seems to have regressed, and Lola, though she sounds more like a female Rick Ross every day, is progressing ever slightly. None of them can mess with Eve in her heyday however.



Thursday, January 21, 2010

I don't like mixtapes

This post is about a sore spot I have with the new rap industry, mix tapes. Now This isn't at anyone specific though I have listened to a few mix tapes recently, this is a problem that began in the early part of last decade. Mix tapes aren't mixes anymore, they are el cheapo albums which is why I refuse to buy them unless prodded by the wife when we are out and she is feeling sympathetic. I'm going to break down why.



You see DJ Clue was probably the king of all mixtapes in the mid to late 90's. His joints were always the hottest with the best freestyles to jump them off and the greatest leaks and exclusives. Getting a mixtape back then was a pure experience that would keep you in touch with what was about to come out. Being from Baltimore and before the internet explosion getting a Clue tape was a real event at one point.

Things changed around 2000 or so when both 50 Cent and Cam'ron and his Dipset crew both took the art of the mixtape in a new direction by basically jacking all of the hot songs of the time and re-doing them in their own way. For G-unit and 50 Cent it was a great move. The Dips took more of the approach that today's artists favor and made a "street" album with original tracks from unknown producers and pushing the music as such. For the time, it was ground-breaking.

Now the mixtape is like the Old Navy Outlet store and your nearest 'Mills' location. It says one thing but when you get there you're not getting the deal that you expected.



Now; you get mixtapes that are just ways to promote and alocohol or product being hawked by the artist. Remember the s. dot carter mixtape? It wasn't bad but it wasn't genuine, it was a marketing stunt. Or you have a rapper who does a series where nothing actually stands out then they drop an album which doesn't sell then come back with four more mixtapes you get for free. Why am I going to buy your cd if half the things you might say are given out already.

Listen to the lyrics from this vintage Clue freestyle:


As far as unsigned artists go, I can't buy the mix cd with just you and your crew because most of the time there isn't enough skill there to hold my attention for the entire time. I'd prefer the classic compilation of songs from a variety of people and it needs to be readily critiqued. Too many producers of mixtapes are lazy and just throw anything on them and drop some DJ samples on them and call it hot. You can't be afraid to tell someone that their song doesn't make the cut. In the end, I'm just not impressed by these non-mixtapes anymore so sorry.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Freedom

Shout out to the Clipse and their latest album "Til The Casket drops" here is a video for "Freedom". I'm not feeling the close-up shots of the mouth but eh whatever:




While I am at it, I was watching tv yesterday on MLK day and i turned to MTV Jams and saw Gucci Mane's "Lemonade" video. I thought about this guy, NY Oil and the song he dropped called "Y'all should all get lynched". While I dont agree with him in entirety, I get the point and think we need some more controversy that goes against the grain in hip-hop. If you missed it, this is the video version i like because it is more graphic.



Let me say this, I don't think Gucci should be lynched, I actually like him and think he has a lane...Plies, now that's another story...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rappers going to Jail




So That's Lil' Scrappy's "take" on rappers getting locked up. I think i somewhat understand what he is saying about guys doing things that are outside of their character and getting locked up doing things that an alleged 'Boss' would not get his hands dirty with.

However these recent arrests haven't been surprising events looking at the artists. The T.I. arrest was at least surprising because he was out copping an arsenal of ratchets. It wasn't even the fact that he was buying the guns, the fact that he got caught actually in the act of making the purchase. Had he just been caught with them it wouldn't have been so ridiculous.

However, we look at Gucci and he just did time and got out less than a year ago. To violate for smoking weed, which is damn sure obvious from looking at his videos and using cocaine is no surprise at all and is rather sad. Then you have Boosie who was on House Arrest and had some type of situation that resulted in him now having to go to actual jail for four years. This is some bullshit. How many times should we keep making excuses for these dudes when they screw up beyond what we as normal individuals would do.

Look at Lil Wayne. He has no reason to actually be the one carrying a pistol yet he did and got caught with it. Was he really that desperate for street cred? Prodigy has been down for a while, Mystikal, C-Murder, Shyne just got released, Da Brat doing a bid. Is this cool or the new way to go?

The problem is two-fold. One there are too many rappers and the criminal element is taking over the industry. Second, these guys do not realize how blessed they are to be in a position to be an entertainer and have their voice heard by the masses. They really have to respect the game and stop wasting the chances that they are given.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

That Hip-Hop I Live for




Lol yo Onyx still has the feel after all of these years. Sometimes we need to have some angry music to balance out the happy-go-lucky stuff that you hear most of the time. It also has some real feeling and emotion behind it unlike the falseness from a Rick Ross or Lil Wayne.

Now Fredro has been kind of annoying lately with his wack ass tales of the industry but the fact they have the idea that they are going to reach out, grab you, and make you recognize them as opposed to the whiney-emo shit with which we are becoming accustomed to. I just wish more dudes would just make music and stop talking in videos and on radio interviews.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Honorable Mention

In my last post I talked about the top 5 albums of the last decade. I know there are going to be people who feel like my list wasn't the best it could be. I decided against doing a top 10 for one reason, it's wack. Sometimes to really see the cream rise you have to eliminate things and if you look at the list, those albums really had a significant impact. In the interest of extending this and taking a look at some really good albums who just lacked the panache of the top 5, here are some honroable mentions, not in any particular order.


Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 (2005)



Now I feel that Jeezy is one of the worst artists ever when it comes to lyrics. He has one subject and no depth yet somehow he managed to truly create a movement. This album had impeccable production and obviously hit its target in the heart of the streets. More importantly, he inspired and led the way for today's Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman, Lil' Boosie, and more.





Finding Forever (2007)

L

This album by Common is typical of his career. A little gem amongst the more commercial fare available. The production of Kanye West helped to propel Common close to the next level of stardom where he has been long ignored as one of the best mc's in the game. This one included the heartfelt single "The People", and the sexy "I Want You". Throughout a well-paced album Common manages to show that he has varied topics and sides while keeping his calm demeanor intact.



The Truth (2001)

Beanie Sigel burst onto the scene and truly made Roc-a-fella records look unbeatable. The Truth was 14 solid tracks of straight lyrical fire. From the title track to "Raw Uncut" to "Remember them Days" Sigel showed that at the time, he was the voice of the people in the streets. He was the dude on the corner to Jay's kingpin and you just knew that everything he said was authentic.




The Documentary (2005)

The Game was the West Coast savior du jour when he was released and unlike the others that had come out between the days of Death Row and that point in 05, Game had just that, game. With a great marketing plan and the assistance of the hottest artist in the world at that time, the Game managed to create an album that was decidedly West Coast but that had an East Coast appeal. "Hate it or Love it" and "This is How We Do" got the radio cranking and Dre's production did the rest. Though you could hear that he was still a bit raw lyrically, relying on name dropping for his best punchlines, you knew the Game had the "it" factor.





Back for the First Time (2000)




Ludacris was already well known as a radio DJ and made the successful transition to an independent artist. From that set of actions he was signed to Defjam and blew up. The hit jingle "What's Your Fantasy" introduced Ludacris to the world and got us used to him hitting us with creative singles year after year and solid albums.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Female M.C.'s - Deadly Venoms

What happened to the Deadly Venoms? Man these girls could spit fire. I understand they were in the Wu Tang Mold so they turned folks off at the jump but damn they were doing it. Shout out Deadly Venoms. Where are you now?


Friday, January 8, 2010

Top Artists of the decade

So after looking at the best albums, It is only right to just give a little attention to the top artists of the time period. Not much to say other than the sum total of their work over the period is taken into consideration along with their actual skill and influence over the hip-hop community.

1. Jay-z

lol it's a no brainer, since 1995/96 Jay has been constant on the scene and while we can debate the actual quality of his albums as they come out, you cannot deny that he is the most consistent out of all of the other rappers when it comes down to the high quality of his discs. This is why he is on his own scale of success. Not to mention his business accomplishments, launching roc-a-wear, a record label that saw it's heyday in the first half of the decade, to his newest label/distribution ventures. Without a doubt, Jay is the biggest artist hip-hop has ever seen.



2. Kanye West

From his albums to his outbursts no one personality is more polarizing or well-known that Kanye. He has the ability to crossover, and the broad appeal that takes him out of the range of hip-hop. From his fashion to his sound, Kanye has grown to a superstar icon from relative obscurity growing up in Chicago. The guy no one wnated to hear rap has every opportunity at his disposal.




3. 50 Cent

As little as 2 yars ago, Fif was the biggest thing in hip-hop with the ability to carry corporations on his back. Look at his deals with Reebok, his movies and acting, book publishing company, and his shrewd investment in Vitamin Water. He might be the one guy whose business acumen you cannot deny. Then there are the 'negatives', he destroyed Murder Inc.,Fat Joe, almost killed The Game's career, and had a hand in banishing Cam'ron to Florida. More recently, even while 'taking the L' 50's name and fame is what led to Rick Ross' rise to fame. When artists are struggling to hit 100k, 50 does 150 in a week and it is considered a flop. That tells you about expectations.



4. T.I.

The king of the South doesn't have the lyrical ability of Jay or Kanye but he is probably on par with 50. After almost flaming out listening to LA Reid, Clifford Harris took his career into his own hands, established Grand Hustle, and brought 'Tip' to the masses. Several arrests and jail stints have not derailed his popularity nor did a verbal ass whooping at the hand of Ludacris which all show his styaing power. T.I. introduced us to the other side of Atlanta rap that isn't Outkast related and ushered in the era of Trap Music.



5. Lil Wayne

The fifth spot needs to go to Lil Wayne just because of the way he has come on to close out the decade. While I prefer the pre-Carter Wayne, the masses cannot be ignored to a certain extent. His sales success in the age of internet and bootlegging cannot be denied. Neither can his work ethic, taking the efforts of 50 Cent and The Dipset to the next level, Wayne put the flame to his career by dropping songs by the dozen after the defection of Mannie Fresh. That along with the break-up of the Hot Boys and the sudden demise of No-Limit had everyone thinking that Cash Money was on the brink of failure. Wayne proved them wrong and is the biggest thing next to Jay-z for the second half of the decade.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A quick hit...

I don't normally put a lot of music out there from local or unsigned artists because I don't like to be a dream killer and break some people's music down. Most people don't like or want to understand criticism, they just want someone to tell them how hot their shit is and to force feed it out to people who rely on me for the truth. In 2010 I hope to be able to do more with artists who are not in the mainstream but I don't know just yet.

To the point my man Japiro over at I Compose Hits put this up a couple of days ago. This is a song from an artist named Beuse Wayne called "Shoot a Nigga". I know, I know, but just listen to it and you'll understand why it's titled and what I like about it.

Deuce Wayne Shoot a Nigga

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Top albums of the decade

So i am officially back from my winter sabbatical and i really didn't realize that this was the end of the decade until people started trotting out accolades for it. It got me to thinking, especially when you talk about the best albums of the past 10 years. I found that it wasn't even hard to come up with an initial list and no it doesn't include Lil Wayne. In fact, it doesn't even have an album that came out after 2004. Without further adieu:

1. The Blueprint 2001

The Blueprint was iconic for several reasons, number one it showcased Jay at the height of both his lyrical and popular appeal, contrary to what radio and best buy say now. The BP1 was the pinnacle of Jay's career with him both attacking the other top New York MC Nas on "The Takeover" and teaming with the best lyrical rapper Eminem on "Renegade", Jay proved that he could go toe-to-toe with his peers. He also dropped "Girls Girls Girls" and "Song Cry" while simultaneously bringing in the soul movement and future star Kanye West.



2. Get Rich or Die Trying 2003

50 Cent roared into this game with his first album which set the bar so high for himself that he was destined to have disappointment afterward. Sales aside, this album was great because it took you straight into the mind and mentality of Curtis Jackson. Thus the great disruptor was born. 50's brand crushed at least one record label and countless other careers as he started on one of the quickest upward arcs in hip-hop history.


3. College Dropout 2004

Kanye came into the game as an unheralded producer and single-handedly changed the sound of the entire industry. When he finally got his chance to get behind the mic he presented "Through the Wire" which sampled "Through the fire" and became an unlikely hit. Following that, Dame dash gave the go-ahead for the solo album and hot on the heels of 50 Cent and his gangster-rap revival came this album which took some of the focus off of the streets and opened up a new arena for artists who weren't as rugged or as rough as the previous 3 or 4 years. He also brought a new style of dress to the game which has influenced the likes of Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, to the new skinny jeans boys who can trace their style lineage directly to Kanye. Songs like "Jesus Walks" and "The new Workout Plan" were all out of the normal mold yet propelled Kanye to the top and created the monster we have today.



4. The Marshall Mathers LP 2000

Eminem is another artist who broke with tradition, being a white rapper who was neither a gimmick nor a rap and rock hybrid, he came with flows and lyrics out the ass. While his first album established him as a wacky mc, this second album took a more serious approach to his life and offered explanation of why he seemed to be so crazy. "Who New", "Marshall Mathers", "The Way I am" and "Stan" were all reason why this was an epic album.



5. Stillmatic 2001

Of all the albums on this list, this one is the best when you break it down song by song and lyric by lyric. Unlike the others, this one was less of a ground breaker on it's own as much a reactionary one. The ignition for it being the scathing response to Jay-z's "Takeover"; "Ether". But it wasn't just the beef either, this album also featured the old head who needs to grow up song "Second Childhood", "One Mic", the Prodigy/Cormega diss, "Destroy and Rebuild", "Got Yourself a Gun" and just song after song of hot lines and the best production ever put together on one Nas album.




The thing about a trying to pick the best 5 albums is that they have to have a bigger impact than just having lyrics unless, like in the case of Nas, these lyrics and songs are just about composed perfectly on multiple levels. The other four albums on this list had an impact that went well beyond traditional hip-hop merits but they all crossed over many of the usual lines that were already expected.