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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Artists I'd rather hear freestyle...

Listening to as many artists as I have in a while has shown me one thing, just because you can rap, doesn't mean you make good music. Being a good rapper and making good songs are totally independent of one another. For example, Nelly makes good songs, but he can't rap worth a damn. Canibus could rap and 'freestyle' his ass off but as far as songs, eh, not so much. See rappers have ill metaphors, flows, and 'punchlines' but when forced to try and contain them in a topic, they normally struggle and try to force more of the things they are known for where they don't fit.



It seems today, that more than ever there are less songs and more mix tapes on original beats. Whenever I listen to albums like the recent Teflon Don, or one from Lil Wayne, all I hear is endless verses that could go on any song. While they may have some hot bars, none of the songs have verses that truly are unique and make them into coherent songs. I'm going to talk about some of these guys now.

1. Fabolous- I don't really want to rank people but Fab is probably the biggest waste of album space ever. The new model of itunes, singles, and EP's benefits Fab greatly as he has never actually made a complete album worth listening to. Most artist's first albums are the second or third best. Fab has never reached the potential he showed early on Clue tapes or what he still shows on freestyles and songs about nothing. Even his singles are mostly lame and ridiculously formulaic.




2. Lloyd Banks - Banks is actually one of my favorite rappers. He's like 50 Cent with less 'gangsterness' and more lyrics. Fif can be blamed for not being the one to help craft more songs for Banks, though he also just fell into the trap of the change of guard in album purchasing, promotion, and what was popular. His first album is what any of Fab's albums should have been so he is no where near as bad as Fab, but I just like hearing him spit.



3. Papoose - Now I wasn't thinking about him at first but I heard a freestyle and was like this is why NY fell in love with him. Dude can be a beast but he seriously over thinks his actual songs and his "hood knowledge" always pisses me off. The affiliation with DJ Kayslay didn't help in his career either.



4. Joe Budden - Budden is one of my favorite rappers but he has the Nas syndrome. his album tracks are always just terrible. He also leaves all of his emotion on mixtapes and freestyles. The Green lantern freestyle was serious, the G-unit diss-fire, the Ransom diss records- ridiculous. If he could ever pick some decent beats he would be dangerous for real.



5. Jadakiss - One of the most over rated rapper of all time dead or alive. Yeah i said it. Dude says the same thing on every song, the only thing that would make it slick was to do it on beats other people have made hot. He doesn't even do that many freestyles but the Lox used to and that was his highlight.



6. Corey Gunz- I never want to hear Corey try to make another song again in his life. As of right now, I haven't heard anything resembling a concept that makes sense and he doesn't really know how to control when to go in and when to take it easy and let just the lyrics to carry the weight. He is a guy who always seems to try too hard and on his songs so far none of them have worked. Being on Young Money is not going to help.



Who are some other artists who can spit or rap but who cannot make good songs?

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Guest Blog- Why I don't Listen to the Radio

Okay, so today's blog is brought to you by a new friend of As is Hip-Hop, Bea Lesaca of Hard Knock radio. Hopefully, there will be more to come from her in the future.


Has Hip Hop Stopped?
Turning on my radio used to be an exciting experience. I remember before being eager to switch on the stereo & put it on blast, very eager to listen to new Hip Hop jams about to hit the airwaves.


Those were the days...

The Hip Hop that we hear and see being delivered by the media has drastically changed. Aside from the candy coated packaging dripping with money, champagne and hip hop honeys, the message has long deviated from the significant ideas Hip Hop had before.

And it is not even the artists’ fault, (even though we’d like to think it is). I know they seem like they’re the top dogs in the game and maybe they are in some way, but beneath that facade is a “suit” who runs everything ;With a one track mind set to making as much profit as they can, the creative voice of Hip Hop artists will either me limited or even sometimes, shut down. No wonder why many people claim that Hip Hop has died, without even going to heaven.


It’s actually pretty sad but with the loss of creative license, what we get are pre- approved rhymes guaranteed not to piss anyone off. I’d like to think that record companies have checklists that they use before allowing a rapper to record a song with categories that exploit the human need of the younger generation to be rich, powerful and desired. And because the majority of the youth are like lambs that need to be shepherded, one by one they get brainwashed into believing that this is what Hip Hop is only for.


Personally, I try to convince myself that this is just an awkward phase Hip Hop has to get through to end up defining itself. Better yet, think of Hip Hop as a teenager, groping its way to adulthood.  Funny right, but it’s the cold truth. Let it learn from its own mistakes making it stronger and more sensible for the future. It’s a long shot but as Hip Hop is a living and breathing entity, it can go either way.

Although with this issue, let’s keep in mind that not all rappers and hip hoppers are sell outs. There are still those who live Hip Hop in its genuine form, encouraging people to get on the “real action”. On that note, maybe Hip Hop hasn’t really stopped. It just might be that it is currently on pause, waiting for someone to press play.


Bea spends her free time thinking of hip hop and the history of rap music. Check out her latest post on rap video girls at hardknockradio.com.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Album Review- Fat Joe- The Darkside Vol. 1

So flying under the radar even more than usual, is Fat Joe who seems to feel the need to release an album every year. This time, it is titled the Darkside Vol 1., so this seems to be the first in a planned series. Unlike precious releases, Joe doesn't even have a big single to help at least get some promotion for the album.

Joe starts with the dark production to go in with the theme on the Intro were he does his normal bragging things about how ill he is, how he bags bitches, and how he moves crack and can rap. He does manage to take a shot at 50 as he says "We gonna throw a party when Curtis Die" to end his verse. "Valley of Death" has one of those beats I would like to see someone who is track-challenged like Joe Budden or Nas end up with. "Rappers are in Danger" is Joe's shot at proclaiming how ill he is but the song is stale as he says the same things on every other joint and every album and cop-outs like "You niggas more pussy than dykes is" are not convincing, I hope that wasn't in pun's rhyme book.


Neither was "Money Over Bitches" which also features some random ass rapper. The track on "Im Gone" rocks with a good East Coast sound and is an example of what his album filler tracks actually should sound like at this point but it is one of the few highlights. "At Last Supremacy" could have really been a hot track if Joe had done something in the past 6 years other than dick-ride Rick Ross and Lil Wayne where he could have really summed up some things. Having Busta on the 'hook' talking greasy makes it look even more cliche. "Heavenly Father" with Lil' Wayne on the hook is average at best, and "If it Ain't About Money" wastes a chance to have a Trey Songz hook.

Rico Love is on "No Problems" which of course has a banging beat but isn't about anything. "Kilo" might be the best song on the album and it features the Clipse and Cam'ron talking about that white. Now, let me say this, I don't ever expect Joe to stop talking about crack but the point is you cannot make 3/4 of 12 albums about selling dope, especially when you were going away from that until you realized other people were doing it successfully. "Slow Down" with Jeezy is an underground banger mostly due to the beat but Joe holds the track down.

You see Fat Joe still ahs the right to talk gangster, but he has been in the game way too long for the main subject matter of his album to be how real he is. I get it Joe, you've been screaming about your realness for years but by now it's boring. Fat Joe may be more lyrical than 50 Cent but he has less swagger than Ross and so get lost in the shuffle especially when you have guys like Fabolous and Red Cafe lurking around. To be honest if he could Executive produce a Red cafe album or a Fabolous album they would at least be assured of having banging tracks even if the subject matter would remain lacking. Once again, Joe doesn't even scratch a surface of his ability or his illustrious life and career and drops an album with great production but disappointing quality. For someone who is a veteran and should have reached legendary status, it's a disappointment.

Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Album Review- Curren$y- Pilot Talk

So if you're from the South you miught just have heard of Curren$y who was at one time, signed to Cash Money records. He was featured on one of those lil Wayne albums and apparently has done his thing on the mix tape circuit. Curren$y, whose alias is the Rhyme Spitta, more recently had hooked up with Dame Dash to help out the fledgling career.

For some, it's a long awaited studio album, though for most people, mix tapes are just as good. Pilot Talk starts out with "Example" as Curr intends to show his lyrical ability and let you know what to expect on the album. "Audio Dope II" has a decent enough beat though it is the most energetic song on the album and it says something. The album is full of sleepy sounding records, like "King Kong" while 'Spitta' has his chance at a bragging rap song. "Life Under the Scope" might be the only song about something at all, with Curren$y rapping about the TMZ type culture we live in, even throwing in a reference to an early season of the Real World where Tammi gets David kicked out. (that stood out because that's when the show was actually real) The current video in rotation for Curr is "Breakfast" which is about.....i couldn't tell you.



Features range from Snoop Dogg on "Seat Change", to Mos Def and Jay Electronica on "The Day" where they each take turns describing a random day in their environments. "Chilled Coughee" features Devin the Dude, Mikey Rocks spits on "The Hangover", and Nesby Phips is on "Prioritize". More underground rappers featured are Stalley on "Address", Trademark and Young Roddy on "Roasted", and Smoke Dza and Big K.R.I.T. on "Skybourne".



This is another album where I find myself with a lack of words because there is a lack of things going on in it. The beats are very laid back and mellow and Curren$y's voice doesn't help. The album has no true direction and in fact is one of those "smokers albums" where a guy just raps and if you're high, you can deal with it. For me, it's a wasted opportunity as he does have promotions going for him such as the MTV's Fab 5 mention.

Rating: 1.5/5

Monday, July 19, 2010

Album Review-Capone n Noreaga- the War Report 2

What's with rappers and doing sequels to albums? These aren't movies dog. Anyway, if there is any group who seems set up more to disappoint you by doing a sequel to their initial success, it's CNN. Although when you think about it, the follow-up to the original war report, The Reunion was a banger as well.


Attempting to bring back some NY flavor from the mid-90's, CNN start the album with "Pain" a classic East Coast banger talking about the problems going on in the hood. Capone's verse is especially resonating. "My Attribute" is about things that represent each of the rappers but it's bogged down by the song structure. "Favor for a Favor" has excellent production as well though I'm not sure how the verses relate to the hook. "Scarface" isn't too descriptive about the trappings of luxury from dope, that's Ross' domain, and CNN approach it from a more hood perspective. The duo also talks about the guys from their hoods who have been murdered on "Obituary". "Brother from Another" is one of the best songs they have made as each talks about their relationship together and the way they share their respective parents as an extended family. "Live on Live Long pt. 2" is a retrospective on the career of Capone N Noreaga as well as a play on one of the most fondly remembered songs from the debut album.


Avery Storm makes rounds to sing on "The Corner" about ....the corner and corner life. Nothign new but it works with CNN. Musalini resurfaces along with newcomer Imma Thug on the ultra-cliche (even for Capone n Noreaga) "Thug Planet" but the track and raps to harken back to the Queens heyday. "The Oath" with Raekwon and Busta Rhymes is another classic track where Rae and Busta rip the simple beat. on "With Me" with Nas, the verses would have been better without the lame and boring chorus. Raekwon is also on "The Reserves" a decent song where the artists flow over the beat, as well as being on "Dutches V Phillies V Bamboo" a Wu-tang type song that seems dated. "Bodega Stories" is a solid track as well with the Lox and CNN taking turns spitting about the Bodega. Faith Evans resurfaces to bring the nostalgia to it's peak on "Hood Love" as the duo expresses its love for the hood.


Overall, the album is a solid trip back to the 90's. It of course, does not really bang with the original although it is much better than I would have anticipated coming in to this album. Though they don't show any growth or true depth, Capone and Nore give you what you want and expect from them. It would have been wonderful to have this album with some of the stories and emotions they used up on their solo efforts or more about how their success has changed their views on growing up in the hood and those previous life experiences. If you're a fan of CNN or you're trying to get that old era feeling back in your system though, it's worth a listen or two.


Rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Album Review- Stat Quo- Statlanta

Now for a few people the name Stat Quo might ring a bell as he was once signed to Shady records under Eminem and seemed to be destined to be the label's representative from the south. Label Politics and other issues kept that from happening but he didn't disappear as some people who leave the major labels tend to do. Stat is back with the official debut, still titled "Statlanta"

From the beginning of the album, Stat sets out to let you know that he isn't the average ATL rapper with "The Beginning" an intro with a more soul oriented beat as opposed to the normal bass driven rhythms of artists like T.I. and Gucci Mane. "Success" is a song about how Stat is destined to make something of himself, a concept that sort of puts accomplishment into the role normally reserved for "hip-hop" or a generic track about a female. "Catch me" is a song about changing up the way you're living in case things go wrong. "What I Like" falls short as a song about the freaks, and "Dedicated" does as well as the obligatory 'love' song. "Penthouse condo wraps up the album nicely.

Features include Talib Kweli on "Allright" which is examining what is going on in the world today. "Space Ship" with Esthero is a stretch, but "Lie to You" with soulster Raheem Devaughn is a creative song about the lies Stat tells to a potential woman he meets somewhere. Marsha Ambrosius handles the chorus on "Welcome Back" where Stat goes in for those who thought he went somewhere. "Cry" with singer Brevi is a emotional song about a black girl lost. Not an original concept but Stat does well by the idea and is helped by the track and chorus. Though my favorite song is "Ghetto USA" with Antonio McLendon singing the chorus.


You may think this review falls a bit short on depth but trust me, that's no indication that the album does. Stat is one of the more polished and well-rounded artists. You have to wonder what he could have done with major label resources and one or two decent Dre or Mr. Porter tracks but controlling his own destiny seems to be working for Quo. The album is a breath of fresh air compared to the new crop of rappers, while not as sleepy as Little Brother, he manages to convey a serious image and blend it with decent lyrics and good imagery. What Stat says, you know he sees.

rating : 3.5/5

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Singles Review

Here is something else I want to do more of, just talk about what new songs are popping up. Honestly though, I won't be providing links because I don't want to get into those issues. If you want to find it, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to.

First up today/tonight is a new song from Fat Joe featuring The Clipse and Cam'ron, "Kilo". I know how original for these guys right? Honestly, I'm not a fan of crack rap or Fat Joe at this point but this song is hard. The beat is a solid, new Southern sound and Pusha T and Malice of course put down a solid verse. Fat Joe isn't bad either although he always seems too loud on the track and doesn't ever "fit" in. Cam of course does his specialty and comes across the most believable as a drug dealer for some odd reason... lol Rating: 3/5


Fabolous also has a new joint (though it sounded unmixed) with my boys Rock City (PTFAO) ccalled "One Life". As usual Fab has some decent punchlines and this is the type of song he should have had on that wack ass album he dropped last year but honestly, I get more excited by the Rock City appearance and they make the song for me. Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Album Review- Rick Ross-Teflon Don

Another year, another Rick Ross album. much like a release from Plies I know what to expect yet cannot help but feel a little disappointed after listening probably because I want to feel about Ross the same way the masses seem to feel about him. After dropping the Albert Anastasia EP about a month ago as a precursor to this 11 song (yes 11 freaking songs) LP the long awaited date is just about here.


The easiest way to break this down is to start with the single, "B.M.F.- Blowing Money Fast" which is the typical Ross fare and features 'street rap' veteran Styles P. Ross does what he's known for doing, talking abouty moving weight, driving fast cars and tossing money just like street icons Big Meech and Larry Hoover. The beat knocks but unfortunately when listening in album order, it sounds like an extension of the song before it, "MC Hammer" which also features Gucci Mane.


More typical fare is "Super High" which has Ne-yo on the hook as Ross spits about how big of a star and success he is. Trey Songz drops a hook and verse alongside of Puffy on the Bad-Boy-esque "No. 1" (part of the problem is Puff rapping about moving white). Drake and Chrisette Michelle lend vocals to "Aston Martin music" (I know so original) though Drakes verse somehow didn't make the album though the songs sounds like something that was cut from Thank Me Later.


Cee-Lo is on "Tears of Joy" where Ross seems to try and allude to the fact he is  thankful to be in the position he is in however he doesn't seem able to leave the "Boss" persona at the door long enough to reach into the depths that Cee-lo's hook does. "I'm not a Star" sounds like a Jeezy track as Ricky does his normal rapping about how in fact he is a star. The best three songs are "All the Money in the World" which goes against every thing Ross has ever rapped about as he details the few things that money is not enough to replace for him; "Maybach Music III" which features T.I.,Jadakiss, and Erykah Badu and is probably Ross' best verse lyrically; and third, Free Mason featuring John Legend and Jay-z who blows away yet another rappers entire album with his guest appearance.

Honestly, the album is very cohesive and probably too much so as it sounds like one long song with the exception of No. 1 which could be the worst song on an album that is solid but not spectacular. Obviously I'm going to be in the minority as most people are happy enough with the subjects that Ross covers on a regular basis. For me, I still don't know who this guy is, much like Fabolous, Ross is not a fully rounded character but a caricature and fantasy much like Tony Montana. That reference is more likely to impress those who enjoy this music but it isn't meant as a compliment. To be considered an heir to Biggie, Ross would have to add sometime of feeling or context as a motivating factor. Instead, he skips straight to the top without detailing the struggle or any fears/pain involved in getting there. Ross could be a great rapper but instead he settles on merely being better than people like Jeezy and that's what makes me even angrier because small steps could take him to the next level where he might actually be great.


Rating: 3/5

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I got hoodwinked

I was looking for the Trey Songz performance from this year's BET awards and I clinked on a link that turned out to be a hoodwinking, but I will give the artist, a harmonica player named Bad News Brown, the benefit of the doubt because he is a harmonica player.



Honestly, he's not doing a Miri Bin Ari (where is she by the way?) but he does have a unique skill that is much needed to add some other life to our sometimes stagnant hip-hop community.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Album Review-Big Boi - Sir Lucious Leftfoot the son of Chico Dusty

So Big boi sort of finally does his own solo thing and I'm pretty sure Atlantic records (where Outkast is based as a group) isn't happy just because they fear a drop in the group's equity and want another album from the duo. For fans of Kast, it provides a small tideover until an actual Outkast album does drop. For Big Boi, it provides and opportunity to prove that he just isn't dead weight tied to his partner a one Andre "3 Stacks" Benjamin.

The album has a familiar feel if you listened to Speakerboxx from the duo's split album. A hint of soul, a bit of funk, all mixed in a southern gravy. The album starts off with "Daddy Fat Saxx" which is an introduction of the entire Big Boi persona if you haven't paid attention to it. A mix of some political savvy and street smarts over the typical uptempo beat that Mr. Patton prefers. "Back Up Plan" has scratches like Outkast song Jazzy Belle while the Boi raps about setting up a back-up for the hotel room in case the original plans fall through. "Theme Song" has a Roger Troutman and Zapp-esque hook as Big Boi gets his mack on yet again.

The majority of the album has features which include Vonnegutt on "Follow us", and Sleepy Brown and Joi on "Turns Me On" the type of song that Big Boi does so well. "You Aint No DJ" features Yelawolf who ignores the topic and just raps. Jamie Foxx lends his vocals to "Hustle Blood" which has nothing to do with hustling at all. "For Your Sorrows" features idol and icon George Clinton along with Too Short and Sam Chris as Big boi brags about his hood credentials in a way. B.O.B. and Joi guest on "Night.Night", and "Shine Blockas" features Gucci Mane and a remix is also included with Project Pat and Bun B as well. "The Train part 2" is just lame and features Sam Chris again.

"Shutterbugg" featuring Cutty is a very catchy single in the vein of "The Way She Moves" and should see significant time for pop radio play although it hurts that it is a solo song from a purely marketing perspective.


 The next single, is "Tangerine" which features T.I. and Khujo from the Goodie Mob. There is also the street single, "General Patton" which is the strongest song on the album as Sir Lucious speaks as a leader of the Southern movement over a crazy serious beat.


Overall, the album is typical for the more street half of Outkast but it has some serious uneven-ness. The concepts lack cohesiveness and the beta selection, while typical, features too many attempts at singles and not even chances for Big Boi to stand out and establish himself and his lyrics. The album manages to fall short of expectations after the unheralded and slept on "Speakerboxxx" half of the last Outkast "album".


Rating: 2.5/5

Conspiracy Brothers

Now I don't like to even acknowledge some of these people because the problem with conspiracy brothers is that they normally take things too far and connect a lot of stuff that doesn't go together with obscure theories. Check out the latest from "Professor Griff".



Now if you listen through all of the nearly 20 minutes of this nonsense, you will get to the point I feel is at the heart of the matter. Look at his comments about Nas, and KRS-1. The idea that Krs is now getting to do commercials and have a wider range of opportunities because he is an unwitting pawn is absolutely absurd. Then there is the fact he says he was supposed to be the sacrifice for Public Enemy but he survived it and thus his house was burned down as a message.

Let me say this now, Nigga please. Who are you? You are not anyone important so no one believes you anyway. The biggest problem is you can see he was kicked out of the game and is trying to strike back out of bitterness. That's the problem with a lot of guys like this, they are looking for someone else to pin their failures on. Man up, be responsible for the fact your career isn't squat. Everyone who is being successful isn't because of a blood oath and selling their soul.

I'm rambling a bit but this type of conversation is dangerous because it feeds into the mind of a weak person who isn't motivated or who hasn't had success by giving them someone to blame. It feeds the insecurity of a person and allows them to feel good about wallowing in mediocrity and ignoring the hard work that others put in for success. The other troubling thing is that this Illuminati seems to be in every aspect of our lives yet someone like Griff only focuses on hip-hop. Why don't we look at the facets that actually affect our lives like businesses and political action.



Wait, I'm sorry, Griff does, in the form of Sean John clothing and tight jeans like those seen above. Now it's one thing if he just said that kids wanna look like Puff and dressed extra slim and form fitting. Nope, he has to go the extra mile and say that it's not that, it's electronic chips (rfids that are used for inventory management any business owner could tell you that maintaining proper inventory counts is important, however, it isn't widely implemented in individual items as of yet) and quick thinking salespeople who go and swap tags are what is changing fashion. I mean if you ask for a 42 long (who under the age of 40 does that anyway?) and they slide you something else and say this is what it is, you just go along with it. I know I have never just taken a pair of jeans home if the fit didn't feel right so I don't know what kind of sheep ass friends Griff has but he also says that the trend for fashion is becoming more feminine (possibly but not for his reasons) and jailhouse, because urban entertainers have always been the ideal portrait of masculinity.


I think you get the picture. I could go on about how when P.E. came out Chuck D.'s jeans weren't baggy. The baggiest pants were Hammer pants and he was unquestionably the king of marketing at the height of his career. I guess the Illuminati didn't like hip-hop until Jay-z started blowing up and Pac got killed because Pac was the key of course. He was going to expose the illuminati because no one else would.


Wait, this is the book that Griff had...and there is a white man who wrote it....it all just doesn't make sense. Stop worrying about who is "stopping" you from being successful and why other people are and focus on creating a plan for yourself and actually working. Don't buy into the hype, stop, listen, and think things through because according to the things griff says, the only thing missing from my life to make me illuminati is a damn music video.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I am King...



If Puff put as much time into running his damn label as he does in making cologne commercials then someone at Bad Boy might just be successful.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fifa anthem....

Now I know a firend of mine who is going to be extra pissed because he doesn't fuck with Kells since the entire statuatory rape situation came down with no jail time for Kelly. The crazy part is that he is still this popular that he could get the commission for the World Cup theme song. While it's not I believe I can fly, it's not that bad at all but can I really forgive and forget about him pissing on a teenager and then acting confused as to whether or not he would do it again? Nah, not I but some of you might.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Dream is corny...(NSFW)

Now I go check out what this fool is doing because it says "album trailer" which makes me go wtf. How do you do a video trailer for an album? I understand wanting to do something for promotion, but how about a music video with songs from the album...hmmmmmm. Take a look and hopefully you're in a safe environment because this trailer includes titties.



So The Dream decides that he is going to have a cliched group of thick bodied women getting topless and bagging up his cd's like they are crack...That's so original that it hasn't been done 5 or 6 times in the past year by rappers. Oh I get it, singers haven't done it so it's original for r and b.

Honestly, this is why I don't respect you or your music Dream. You do silly shit like this and talk about you're retiring. Good riddance, I don't think anyone is going to complain that another run of the mill with obvious ass ideas singer is gone. Such impressive new songs and concepts like "Panties to the side" and "All Black Everything". This new r and b is bullshit point blank because if you're being that straightforward then I don't need you to sing. I can say "Pull your panties to the side" my damn self. Singers are supposed to be poetic and express things in a way I can't. I cannot wait until this thumb looking dude retires.