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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mike Vick and how he applies to hip-hop

Now when Michael Vick went down for being a dumb ass and dog fighting, black America went into an uproar. "Oh it's just dogs", "Oh they just hating because he's a beast", and comments like that were very common. I was in the minority who felt that Vick was getting what he deserved for screwing up. I also felt that some kind of way the street rules should have applied and someone else begged to have taken the charge, but beyond that, I don't feel sorry for him because he almost punted the opportunity of a lifetime.

Fast forward to this year and Vick's story of recovery is the best in the NFL. From Leavenworth prison to potential NFL MVP and comeback player of the year he has shown all of the football attributes that he never did while in Atlanta. Now some people will complain that the teams keep wanting to change the type of player he is, but in reality by listening to their advice and actually studying his craft and working, Vick has become the dangerous player the Falcons thought they were getting when they drafted him. So what changed and what do fans of hip-hop need to take from it?

The fact of the matter is, and Vick admits this himself, he is actually trying now. He was humbled and actually showed it to the public. From that moment, when he allowed himself to be brought off of the pedestal and turned back into a humble person, he has been able to bring himself to become even bigger than he was before. The sense of entitlement is gone from his public image replaced with that of a man who cherishes the opportunities afforded him.

Now I know a complaint I'm going to get, why should he have to humble himself? Who cares he is a grown man he doesn't have to be humble. It's just people hating on him. you're right, you don't have to do shit in truth, but in order to get certain priveledges, to do something like be a star NFL player, you have to make some sacrifices and as a result, you get millions of dollars. It's not a bad trade-off. This is one thing I want to try and impart to my readers, to those with the money, power, and fame, comes the increased scrutiny and higher expectations of behavior. Stop bitching about it, that's the way it is. So when I hear Drake bitching and moaning about being famous on a record, it pisses me off because he is doing this just to be famous. You cannot be mad because you finally have it.

Now right now, Vick is the hip-hop representative in the NFL. He was a thug who has been rehabilitated and is now dominating. It's a good story, but its not on his terms, those got him in jail. Same thing for raps most polarizing star, Kanye West. For every step forward he takes towards being an actual person, he takes two or three backwards just because he can. Looking at Kanye, people love him because they want to 'agree' with his selfish, arrogant view of the world, and people wish they could afford to be that reckless and annoying. Truthfully, would it be good for everyone to spout off whatever they want without ever having to care about another's feelings? No. Respecting that you might offend someone helps to keep our society actually functioning. Think about how you feel about the office asshole then think, Kanye is the hip-hop office asshole.

Why go in on Yeezy? Dude has a Messiah complex and I'm sick of it. I wouldn't tolerate this person in my personal life so to see him out representing as if we are all like him is annoying. I've said it once and will continue, this guy is still trying to justify his bitch-made behavior like someone should apologize to him or thank him for existing. The only thing he is lucky for is that the public loves a villain just as much as they love the hero. As for hip-hop fans, we need to stop jumping to support someone because we feel they are being attacked or slighted for something they should have been criticized for. You cannot expect to not be held responsible for anything you say. Sometimes you have to man up even when your friends (Jay-z) and fans won't. Why go an apologize to the ex-President then go on stage and downplay it? Because you're not standing up and being a man.

Hip-Hop is going on 30 years old for the most part as a music genre and major influence. At some point, it has to lose some of the adolescent tendencies and start to do some things it might not want to do. Life depends on people doing what is good for the community and not always focusing on one's self. In this case, Kanye might want to be an asshole but he needs to stop acting like a spoiled brat. Hell, I posted earlier on how someone needs to step in and tell Soulja Boy to slow his roll and have an intervention before he ruins himself. He has tattooed himself completely and isn't close to being 25 yet. Where are the leaders who will step in and say enough is enough, you're not going to be making the major power moves looking and behaving in that manner?

Musically, the same holds true. Listening to Kanye's latest album, he may sell units just off of hype alone however, I won't be drawn in to the fallacy that selling a lot makes it quality, the best, or a classic, and this album is none of those. It is inconsistent and doesn't fit together all because Kanye doesn't actively work beyond what he feels is greatness and completeness which is sometimes overdoing it. He isn't studying and dedicating himself as much as he is making confirmations of his greatness. Look, we all know people make mistakes and celebrities, by virtue of their status aren't allowed the leeway and excuses of the average person, but in exchange for that right, they get to be famous and get rich off of that average person. So while you may want to just get a pass, you won't. Just stop trying and be like Michael Vick and become humble and re-dedicate yourself to your task and show us the potential you originally flashed.

Album Review- Kid Cudi- Man on the Moon II the Legend of Mr. Rager

I took some flack for killing Cudi on his first LP and if you're that sensitive about Cudi, then please leave now because this one is going to be even worse and even shorter. Point blank, Cudi may be a creative individual and I can tell he can structure some songs well and could be a decent producer/ A&R/ assistant or something but as an artist he fails. I have determined that some people should remain behind the scenes to have their best impact.

Now being affiliated with Kanye West allows him access to some of the more high priority artists in the industry and explains how this album ended up getting released. I'm not a fan of smoker music because I'm not a smoker so artists who base their style, or fans in that aspect already have a knock against them to me, however, I have been a fan of Redman and I think these guys can make good songs.

"Erase Me" with Kanye West is an example of that but its the 'rock' styled hook and Kanye's verse that make the song. Too many times, Cudi aims for something alternative in sound and just turns up flat. Whether its that his ideas need to be tweaked or he needs to hire a new ghostwriter, something else has to be done.

Look you're probably disappointed by this review but I cannot listen to this and I have listened to every song on a Boosie album and a Plies album but this is worse than any of that.

Rating: .5/5

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Album Review- Lloyd Banks - Hunger For More 2

So for a while it seemed as if the entire G-Unit movement was over, save for 50 Cent holding on to his major label deal. Bansk and Yayo were dropped, Game was pushed back and damn near out and Buck is in contract purgatory. Then Banks hit pay dirt with last winter's "Beamer Benz or Bentley" and got  a buzz going behind him. Finally, after negotiations, he is ready with his third solo album, "Hunger For More 2".

So I always thought of Banks as Fabolous with better albums but worse singles., because Fab's albums are wack yet they are similar artists. This new album begins with "Take em to War" which features a verse from Tony Yayo. Though the verses are solid, they don't go with the chorus at all and you immediately notice that Banks has a different rap voice and flow than before. Same thing for "Unexplainable" with Styles P though it makes slightly more sense. This repeats itself once again on "Home Sweet Home" with Pusha T, but Banks says nothing that relates his verses to the theme of the song and Push once again shows why he is one of the most slept on artists today.

On "Payback" which has a 50 Cent hook, Banks attempts to use the same type of verses to describe how his success is a payback. Nope, it doesn't make sense to me either. Ryan Leslie handles the chorus on "So Forgetful" which is a chick track that features one of the most annoying Casio keyboard riffs I have ever heard. The premise of the song is that he deals with too many women to remember just one. One of the better hook/verse combinations is "Father Time" where Banks talks about he hopes to have enough time to make it where he wants to be. "Celebrity" with Akon is another generic song about how fly Banks is. "I dont deserve you" with Jeremih is decent, but party song "On the Double" sucks.

The three songs that stand out as the tentpoles for the album are "Sooner or Later" with Raekwon which is a typical hardcore rap song, and the singles "Beamer Benz or Bentley" and "Any Girl" which feature Juelz Santana and Lloyd respectively.

I saw someone tweet that this album is Banks' best work to date. That person must be smoking that good stuff. This is not a worthy sequel to Banks' first offering at all. The verses don't show the same hunger nor lyrical sharpness and combined mostly with hooks that don't correlate to a cohesive theme, this album is a real disappointment. While he was able to strike gold with his two singles, the album suffers froma  lack of direction and the mix tape mentality.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, November 19, 2010

Russell Simmons' Butt-Kissing Open Letter

Nowe we must respect Russell with the Hustle as one of the pioneers of this thing we call rap and hip-hop as the guy who took things to the mainstream. He brought us most of our big names through the 90's and has continued as an icon with Phat Farm, his shoe collections and argyle sweaters.

I must almost totally and whole heartedly disagree with him about this shit right here though, Russell up in Kanye's cheeks . I understand we as black folks still feel a need to be protective of our own, however I cannot get with Russ on this one. Yes, Kanye is possibly close to a musical genius if not one when it comes to production and creativity. However, he still could use work with making his works complete with the things that I feel matter the most, having tight verses that are on-point. Too many times on this recent album things don't quite as well as they could quite possibly because of arrogance that one is complete and doesn't need to listen to others. It's not a fact, just based on my opinion through various factors and actions.

But truthfully, Russell is guilty of the same BS I've been complaining about a lot lately, which is men not standing up and taking responsibility and doing things that excuse bitch ass behavior. This guy Kanye fucked up twice and yet people still are trying to downplay it. Look I would not accept that behavior from my kids, nor would I look at my friends in the eye and say it is ok for them to do it so I'm definately not going to condone Kanye sorry. For the umpteenth time, the Bush comment was out of line, based on bullshit, and arrogant. Russell, where were you before during and after Katrina? Im sure Master P and Cash Money could have ordered up some buses and rounded up supplies. I'm quite sure your money-grubbing prepaid debit card hawking ass could have as well.

Maybe if Russell hadn't called the 30 minute runaway video brilliant I might have just shrugged this off, but it reeks of someone who is trying to get into the favor of another person. The video was good, very well shot and the art direction was good, there was a story line of sorts there, but brilliant....gtfoh Russell. Honestly, brilliant, nope it wasn't that deep, earth shattering or about an important topic where I would call it brilliant.  If people like Russell continue to feed the egos of people like Kanye on a constant basis then we will never progress. I know why, because he likes his ego inflated as well but there is a time to get beyond that.

The more you keep excusing bad behavior, the more it will keep rearing its ugly head. Kanye needed to apologize and he needed to do it a lot sooner. Russell you should have said something, should have found a way to show him how to play the game and what to do to actually make a difference. But then again, the only difference Russell cares about is the one in his bank account so I shouldn't have expected more than that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Album Review- Nicki Minaj- Pink Friday

So this is the most anticipated album left to drop this year by far after Kanye's latest. Nicki has barraged us with verses and features for the past two years and to this point, her stock was even higher than fellow Young Money label mate Drake's. Finally, the Barbies can rejoice with the release of Pink Friday.

The second single, "Right Thru Me" is currently in rotation heavy, and while it doesn't have as much lyricism as Nicki is capable of, the song accomplishes its goal of reaching the young women who make up Nicki's fan base. It's all about the female emotion so I accept it. The first single "Your Love," I like better personally though I'm not quite sold on some of the flow during it but its a solid song.

I take the beginning of the album to be Nicki's 'lyrical' section and it is actually the most disappointing. on "I'm The Best" she gets what sounds like a slightly warmed over Mannie Fresh track from the old Cash Money days, and while her flow is steady, she doesn't come with the fire she had on "Monster or All I do is win". "Did it On Em" is probably the beat where she should have went in the hardest but it just seems like she is pulling back, but even more annoying is where she says "all these bitches is my sons" as a 'post-chorus' and it doesn't make any sense. "Roman's Revenge" is hot and she hangs right in there with Eminem, especially on her second verse.

Nicki and Drake share the light on "Moment 4 Life" where she fills the normal Drake role both singing and rapping. Drake's voice is extra annoying on this song though. Kanye actually has the best verse on "Blazin" even though he has some of his normal wtf moments. "Fly" is going to be another Barbie anthem, as it features Rihana on the hook, though the verses are just about how ill she is, and her second verse is one of the better ones on the album. "Last Chance" features pop star Natasha Bedingfield showcases Nicki using the new "semicolon" flow that is so popular these days. The album also includes "Check it Out" which Nicki performed with Will.I.Am at the MTV Video awards this year. This works and should have been out as a video already I would think.

 "Save me" is an r and b song which is pretty cool. "Here I am" is my personal favorite because it is one of the few songs that is about something and actually gives me an insight into who Nicki actually is. The song immediately after "Dear Old Nicki" is an explanation if you will of why her flow and style have changed since she came onto the scene a few years ago.

Now I'm going to catch flack from NC-17 at the very least, the young folks will write me off as  a hater but this album is even more disappointing than Drake's. Nicki is better lyrically and has more personality than Drake and I would like to see more of who and what Nicki's journey was from the old Nicki to this new Nicki that is the queen of the Barbies. For me, that's the thing that holds the album back, she has her singles but it just seems like the entire concept of "dumbing down" your lyrics is taken a notch above because she is way better of a rapper than this. Had she really killed one of those first three songs, the rest of the album might have felt better or had she slid more lyrics and creativeness into songs like "Fly" and "Moment 4 Life" or "Blazin" I would feel better about the direction she has gone in. What this album does show to me is that Young Money while a great promotional vehicle, cannot create consistently good albums, never mind crossing into the territory of great.

I had to add this because this verse on here is 5 times better than anything on her own album and like Mase, her album isn't what it could have been.

While she manages to show more of herself than Drake does, those sparkling moments are few and far between. Now the album will play well in its target demographic, but there is nothing to convince anyone who wasn't already a fan to become one. I prefer her featuring slots to this album because there just isn't enough there.

Rating: 2.5/5

Let's talk Bow wow

Now I was asked to do a review of Bow Wow's latest mixtape, Green Light 3, but I don't review mixtapes. However, listening to it did make me think about how his career has progressed and his standing in the game.

First of all let me say that Bow wow is hip-hop. Yes, he represents or shall I say represented, the youngest of us who wanted some music to listen to. It was unoffensive and had good beats. Of course, he says he was forced into this route, but that's what he was supposed to do, no one wants to hear a gangster 8 year old. However, I can understand his frustration now as he tries to grow up in the game. He has one problem with this, he needs to give it up for a while.

Point blank, Bow has had plenty of huge hits, ghostwritten of course, yet he has learned how to write and rap on his own. In fact, I would say he is very comparable to his Young Money Label mate Lil Wayne when it comes to content and the average lyrics, with one huge exception, Bow wow can't talk about guns or drugs other than his weed habits. Unfortunately, this means he doesn't have any street cred which is necessary for success in the game like he is trying to get it. I mean, the swag rap, stunner talk is very easy for him.

But there is no depth to him as an artist and much of that has to do with him constantly trying to continue his career actively at this time. We cannot believe you because you haven't had the time for a real life to have real things happen in the public's collective eye. Had he taken time off to let himself have a life, he wouldn't have some of these issues. Then when he tries to do a song like "Going Outta my Mind" from the latest mixtape, he could actually have verses that were more than 8 bars. Even still,  if he wanted to be taken seriously, he would take each of the situations in this one song and make a couple of songs about each incident.

The main thing that bothers me about Shad's career arc, is that he doesn't seem to have had strong management and leadership in this turbulent time, part of that is a lashing out because he has been under control for so long. You get things like the move to Young Money, the ridiculous amount of tattoos, the public whining online.

Now this is expected by a lil Wayne who has Baby for guidance, but Bow is too young to have done all of this when he has promising avenues such as the film in which to express himself. He is too focused on being in the same industry that's "hot" instead of doing what is truly best for himself. Like I was saying before, signing to Young Money is a reach to say the least to try and ride the wave of popular public sentiment from being with Wayne, Drake, and Baby, but it looks like the reach that it is. Even if he does relate to Wayne and his lifestyle, we can't buy it. Wayne doesn't have those images of being the cute little boy in the "Bounce With Me" video to live down. Naming an album "New Jack City" when you have never sold not a nickel bag of weed nor have experience in drugs, doesn't make sense at all and that's the problem. Nothing is making any sense to transition this young man to adulthood sort of like Mike Tyson's failed growth (only without the money and the menacing scowl).

Back to the mix tape to sort of find a conclusion to this 'discussion' of poor Bow's predicament. The mix tape is full of generic "I got money" drivel that doesn't have any substance or weight to it. While, Bow wow is capable of doing it, it's just unnecessary and doesn't do anything special. Much like his career post 2005, this collection of songs is mostly empty and while he could have taken his time and done more, he just didn't see fit too, believing that it's enough to get away with the lazy music that his label-mates are used to doing. For Bow wow to ever have any success he is going to have to refocus his efforts on pursuing acting and putting the mic down until he actually gets some content worth talking about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I agree X, F the industry...

So things are heating up in hip-hop as the weather cools. DMX, who apparently isn't in jail for once, gets on stage in Arizona no less, and let's off some steam about the current state of hip-hop.-Note, turn the volume down if there are kids or sensitive adults around.

You know why (once you get part the Jay-z shot), is because X is a real cat. He will always have a market and people will forever wait eagerly for his music even though he has sort of let people down with his last few releases. He's ultimately extra correct about what he says the topic of hip-hop is right now. Unfortunately, the bulk of listeners right now are in denial about their own plight and don't want any semblance of reality. The modern hip-hop consumer is about listening to music that allows them to escape from their lives and feel bigger than what they are in their current lives.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Album Review- Bruno Mars- Doo Wops and Hooligans

Now, this isn't my normal forte but let me say something, this Bruno Mars cat is hot. He has a unique sounding voice that takes me back in the day, and he also has some good music. You need something like this in your collection to change up the pace definately.

"Grenade" is definately a hot song and I can see this as a third single with a video on MTV that grows. The song currently in rotation, "Just the Way You Are" isn't a new revelation, but the building drums and simple piano keys play together well. "Our First Time" reminds me of a mix of an older MJ track with some sensual subject matter, it's not overly explicit and it's rather sweet.

"Runaway Baby" immediately changes the pace to an up-tempo pop-song feel that sounds like a mash-up of some 60's pop and i would guess- the doo-wop sound. "The Lazy Song" is another pop song however, it does have some clever little lyrics about being lazy. "Marry You" takes the same doo-wop sound as Bruno sings about being somewhat reckless and getting married on a whim. "Talking to the Moon" is the required Ballad selection for the album.

One of my favorite tracks of the year has to be "Liquor Store Blues" which features Damien Marley.

"Count on Me" and " The Other Side" round out the album, the latter of which features Cee-Lo and B.O.B. in a song about opposites and Bruno lets loose a little bit vocally. This is another smash hit.

If I was into r and b/pop rating, I would have to say this album is a solid 4 and could grow to be a 4.5 but it is worth having in your collection.

Local Beef...

So a week or so ago, I checked a link on twitter from Bossman where he goes at the biggest artist from the Maryland area, D.C.'s own Wale. I honestly didn't know what the whole thing was about until finally seeing this series of videos:

Now the gist of things is that Bossman feels that Wale getting Hollywood and not representing what he is supposed to and not being the face of the 'DMV' movement. In Bossman's opinion, Wale isn't holding the area down and helping other artists come up. Now I have previously intimated that word on the street is that he is arrogant (Wale) and not really a person who is going to be social with others who he feels he is beter than. I don't have too much to go on because I'm not in the industry but videos like this further enhance that image.

Now, the real point I wanted to look at and address is the idea that when an artist from the area blows up, you have to support them. I talked about it before in a post where I mentioned it's only natural for people to hate when one person finally makes it. If what Boss says is true, then he is 100 percent correct to speak up and say something. In "Off the Record" he ruffled a few feathers I'm sure but he at least stood up for what he felt was the right thing to do and say and not be a kiss ass like so many radio personalities and other artists.

I have in fact, made this point several times that people need to check and balance each other in the game. It's one thing for me to say something, it's another for an artist who is at the same level as another to speak out. It's even more important for multiple artists to come in and back up that artist who initially speaks out. Just imagine if Suge Knight comes out and talks about these fake ass industry Bloods and then you get Jay-z and Snoop to back him up you would actually see a change within the industry.

There are no code and rules anymore because everyone is scared to stand up for themselves. The question was asked to Bossman, why are you doing this if there is no monetary motive or payoff in the end (though these days there is always some sort of money payoff) and his response pretty much says because its the right thing to do. If more people focused on that, the game would be a more solid foundation and enable more artists to be able to have successful careers and true growth. We definately need more artists to be stand up guys.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Album Review- Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Now this is going to be a long one because I feel the need to explain my thought process more in depth in this review because Ye is the most high profile artist to have an album slated for the fourth quarter even though Nicki Minaj and T.I. are both slated for release. Now We should have all seen the runaway mini-movie by now, and we know that Kanye is ultimately an artist and sometimes artistry is misconstrued, and sometimes it misses its mark in addition to having those flashes of brilliance. For me, this album pretty much sums all of that up, though the misses aren't as glaring. The early opinion has been that this is a borderline classic, I would say those ideas are just a bit off.

The album kicks off with "Dark Fantasy" and this is a brilliantly produced track and the intro from Nicki Minaj could set a real tone for the album had it continued but it feels out of place eventually because we don't come back to it. Lyrics and track solid and set things off to a good start for Kanyeezy. "Gorgeous" follows and Kanye raps through distortions and I have to assume that the lyrics are talking about his current life, though the hook and the verses don't give me too much of a clue as to why this is the title of the song. The hook by the way is Kid Cudi and the song also features a verse from Raekwon. Now Ye's verses are actually slick and he takes a shot back at South Park for the 'Gay Fish' episode but looking at the song and the hook they don't really equate.

"Power" which everyone has heard is next, and other songs which by now should be very familiar are "Monster" with Jay-z, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross, "So Appalled" with Swizz Beats, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Cyhi The Prince, and The Rza on their 'swag talk' thing, and the latest single, "Runaway" also with Pusha T. "All of The Lights" which leaked sometime last week, has a bunch of people on it but I have to question why because none of them stand out or bring anything individual to the song and it doesn't have any real catch to it other than being a perfectly fine regular song that will get massive spins. That might be point enough.

People love "Devil in a new Dress" though I'm inclined to be less impressed with that than Runaway which also let me down. This album version has Rick Ross and the soul sample is straight up core Kanye. "Hell of a Life" is similar, a solid track, nothing spectacular in the verses and he grabs that damn auto tune again. "Blame Game" is a relationship song with John Legend, the beat is a simple piano riff but it works well, and Kanye plays both sides of the field in the second verse which pans from left to right to signify the different persons part of the conversation which is something unique. Chris Rock also drops in with a interlude of sorts after the sing which is quite humorous. The album is a down note on the end with "Lost in the World" which sounds like some more leftover garbage from 808's and Heartbreaks. Once again, he uses sick drum patterns but the auto tuning is just so lame and Kanye should have never touched it.

Now that is the individual musical breakdown, but overall the songs by alone could be solid. My biggest problem is that it's a big artistic idea without the full execution. Simply put, adding more Nicki Minaj previews to some songs and changing the track order could have made this into the 'story' I was expecting from the way it started out. Understandably, there will be songs that don't fit into the idea of a dark fantasy for sales reasons but most of these don't actually do anything that is out of the norm. He has like 4 or 5 songs about relationships that are literally run of the mill, the grand imagery I was expecting to be painted through his lyrics isn't there and that is a shame. The album is not cohesive enough to be a classic. How do So Appalled and Monster fit in with the theme of the album? They don't and if this was someone other than Kanye it probably wouldn't be an issue but this is a person who wants to be seen as an artist above all and it just doesn't seem well-executed for someone of his ability.

Now Kanye does do some positive things as far as the album creation. This is not a 'single' friendly album because for the most part, he has just created songs, most of them are well above average and they aren't cut down for the sake of commerciality and he might be the only person who can do that. Several of them are very long and focused on being complete compositions so i can respect that. I can also respect the attempt to do something big. Production as usual is top notch and I would love for Kanye to do some movie scores. What I would have liked to see for this to really represent a 'dark' type fantasy would have been to hear something light juxtaposed with a darker theme on a song or two, or have the light background music and have Nicki move the story along because when this was announced as the title of the album and then the video came out, thats just what I pictured what would happen, so some of my disappointment is my own fault. Let me sum it up this way, this rating isn't a reflection of the songs themselves as much as it is of them as a unified album which I just don't see.

Rating: 3.5/5

Album Review- Nelly- 5.0

Now I knew Nelly had a new single out, then another, but I was truly hoping he didn't do another album. I mean He's good for a single here and there, but his albums haven't been anything to write home about save for those singles. Let me tell you, this album has some subtle hilarity to it.

Nelly's first single is "Just a Dream" and it's a typical crossover hit with Nelly's sing-song flow and his singy hook. I can't knock it, it's simple decent radio music that isn't controversial. His second single however, is "Move That Body" with T-pain and Akon sharing the duties. Typical club fare, the hook is too lazy compared to the energy of the verses which some how are the highlights along with Teddy's pre-chorus. In the pop clubs however, it should work. "Making Movies" could possibly be a single if the album picks up some steam but it might be too explicit.

"Long Gone" is a song telling you what's going to happen if you bring your girl to the club and it features Chris Brown and Plies, though Nelly is actually singing his verses, or yelling them whatever it is, he damn sure ain't rapping. He's taking this crooning to a new level but it actually works in the 80's vein of the sample used in the beat. Plies brings the toughness to the track and it works but I don't know about radio yet again because of it. Nelly's singing doesn't work on "Gone" where he and Kelly Rowland fail to make magic again. Nelly's rapping seems secondary to his singing on the album, "1000 Stacks" literally wastes a good Biggie sample and trust me Puff doesn't help on the song at all.

Nelly takes a shot to become the new Spring Break King title from Flo-rida on "Liv Tonight" with Keri Hilson and that too falls well short of the mark. "Don't It feel Good" is another yawner for me, and it sounds like something the Dream might try to pass off to the pop crowd. "She's so Fly" with T.I. is alright, but reminds me of the boring Fancy which also featured Tip in its feel. "I'm Number 1" for some odd reason features Birdman -seriously who the hell wants Baby on a song without Wayne? Rappers-stop it. It also features the equally annoying DJ Khaled on the hook. The other song that should not have happened was "Broke" with Yo Gotti who is severely limited in rapping ability (and he rhymed wife her with life up..how does that happen?) and put him and Nelly together on a song talking about money is just lazy and annoying and so is the girl on the hook. The album ends with "Nothing Without Her" where Nelly is sing/crying yet again but with success and without auto tune. That makes me really look at this upcoming Last Train To Paris and hope Puff trashes all his singing.

At the end of the day, my first listen through had me laughing because Nelly is singing so hard on this joint. He is really taking it to the next level and while he cannot hit notes, I would take Nelly singing over The Dream and Drake any day. His rapping has always left something to be desired but with an album aimed squarely at pop radio and the tween-barely out of the Teens segment, he can see some success if the album is promoted in those circles. Do not try to force this down urban radio's throats and there can be a hidden gem here in terms of sales. Four songs I really see as being strong, the rest filler that don't fit my tastes.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pretty Girl Rock

Im not the biggest Keri Hilson fan, I know she's talented but when she talks I sometimes look and go wha? But she does have another hit, I like the song for the ladies but even more, I like the video as Keri pays homage to some of the hottest african american female icons of the past century.  Just take a watch and let me know what you think.

C'mon son....

Honestly, I have some stuff I want to talk about regarding Bow wow, partly because someone asked me to. However, this one thing is kind of annoying because he's trying to act like he is some individual who he isn't.

Now, Bow starts bitching because he says he didn't want to be Lil Bow wow...He wanted to be what? a gangster? You were a little boy- someone should have had you acting like a proper young man and do exactly what Jermaine Dupri wanted you to do. I don't even think you know who you are. You want to be what's popular and popping right now, a thug and weezie clone? Point blank you been doing this more than half of your life- that's who the hell you are.

Then the most laughable part of this is that you felt you should have made the top 10 list? Not even possible homie. I will give you some respect but no way you deserve or get that type of love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Album Review- Cassidy - C.A.S.H.

I thought this was a single by Cassidy when I first heard about it but it is in fact, another album. This is a guy who I always thought was underrated commercially and overrated as a lyricist. He has always had potential but always seems to hit the brick wall that keeps him from making complete songs and definately a complete album.

This new album starts off with "Face 2 Face" instead of his normal back and forth between multiple personalities. This was thew first song leaked months back where Cass raps about generic battles between artists whom people consider similar. This joint is lackluster to me because there isn't anything different like LL and DMX. that would be a clash of cultures and styles, The Clipse and the Young Gunz...smh whatever.

"Monsta Muzik" is bad by Cassidy standards as he uses some lame and boring similies, "I'd get you smoked like a jar of piff"...how many times have you used that Cass? "All Day All Night" features The Game and has a lazy beat and the verses that come off reflect it and Game's bars are better than Cassidy's. "Drumma Bass" is a typical Cassidy track, one that could be a powerful club track where Cass' lyrics get slowed down and he struggles to find his own personal rhythm.

Okay, let me run off the trite and corny songs on the album: "Paper Up", "Aww Shit" featuring Red Cafe, and "She Addicted". Mya lends vocals to the formulaic "Girl Like Her". "music in my Blood" has nothing to do with rap itself, just more of what I would term "boss talk" about how ill he is compared to everyone else. Cassidy manages to wake me up slightly throwing a shot at Lil wayne on "Imma G Boy". I would listen to "High off Life" if it were only Junior Reid and not Cassidy who can't adapt his flow to the Reggae beat.The song with the most potential on the album is "One Shot" that has a good beat that could bang in the whip or club and a hook that goes along with it.

The most frustrating thing about Cassidy is that he has always exhibited the potential to have the big singles and be able to have the lyrics to hold down heavier subjects but he has never accomplished on either front for whatever reason. He also has given up on the pledge he took after getting out of jail and surviving his car crash to be more positive. Though on "Peace" it seems like he tries to justify how he can still thug on record or in the streets yet have some relationship with the lord. Overall, Cassidy has some decent beats but his lyrics have become more lackadaisical as he has progressed and this is a regression from his last album.

Rating: 1.5/5

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Women of hip-hop have more balls than the men?

Here we go, in preparation of Pink Friday, I'm going to try and examine some women's issues this month as it relates to hip-hop. Something has jumped to the top when it comes to rap as it stands right now. It seems the only people willing to go at each other, outside of various 50 Cent rants, is the Lil' Kim and Nicki Minaj beef.

A quick synopsis, Nicki is getting accolades and props, Kim thinks young Nicki has swagger jacked her and not given proper respect so she goes on a tirade. Nicki shrugs ignores her for a few months then drops "Roman's Revenge" where she goes in on Kim for the second time (some subtle shots were fired on the All I Do is win remix). Kim responds on stage with this:

Honestly, Kim does have some classic hits but she cannot see Nicki lyrically at this point in her career. She better find some new ghostwriters, I think Canibus might be available for that. However, its not even the actual idea that it might be a good war of words but just to see two artists who are somewhat prolific and well known get into it is what's good. I doubt Roman's Revenge would come out without the beef and Nicki would have no reason to show she can really go in when need be.

There is another trend I touched on before, women are the ones who are acting tough now while the guys are becoming more feminine each day. It used to be females talking about what stores they shopped in and what kind of bags they have, now the male rappers drop more designer names than any of the women in rap.

These days even the upstarts like Keys or any of the other various Nicki Minaj dissers seem to have more heart and pride than most of their male counterparts. There are exceptions, Diamond and Rasheeda, have found a niche trying to be carbon copies of today's Get Money rappers just to get a couple of dollars, but by and large the unsigned females I see on Worldstar any given day, show much more hunger and aggressiveness than these passive ass unsigned guys who are too busy trying to get in good with a Wayne or Rick Ross to risk criticizing or coming across as a hater.

Take Kanary for instance, while I wouldn't say she is the best out, her verses are better than J. Cole's. While right now, there isn't much in the way of exposure for female rappers, it seems to have many of them more motivated to try and force their way into the game and if it means rubbing some feathers the wrong way, they're willing to do it, while these guys are coasting along.

Monday, November 8, 2010

As Is Hip Hop Awards- Album of the Year

I was very disappointed overall with the albums released this year in rap music. They didn't have a great amount of depth to them and too many people have the same concepts- "I get Money", "I ball", and "I'm a Boss", to be taken seriously. However, when it came down to picking the top 5, I did waffle a bit with the order a couple of times. Two of the top five actually came out at the end of 2009 after my rankings from last year and so are for consideration here. So without further adieu:

5. Distant Relatives- Nas and Damien Marley

Here is an album with almost no press, no videos, and no airplay yet it was a very solid effort from the duo. One of the best parts about the album was that Damien pretty much controlled to concepts and production of the album allowing Nas to focus mostly on his bars. While Esco still manages to slip into rap cliche mode, he still provided more of what we want to hear from him.

4. Teflon Don- Rick Ross

This is the second time I have been forced into including Ross onto the best albums though I am reluctant to do so. Let me be honest, Ross has a serious flow, can paint decent imagery and has some of the best production on the planet. However, between the last two albums where is the real growth? I'm tired of "expensive car music" which are just more songs where he just spits his mix tape like verses that have no meaning or unifying theme. However, Free Masons, has Ross with one of his better verses but the length of the LP bothered me as did the total lack of some real growth at this point.

3. Till The Casket Drops- The Clipse

I was never a real big Clipse fan until this album. Always touted for their lyricism, I felt they had a Ross-like lack of depth. This album cleared all of that up and painted the picture of their life that feels more real life to Ross' movie version. The production varied and the duo stepped up their album writing to tell a complete story.

2. The Adventures of Bobby Ray- B.O.B.

My opinion of this one varied from having it anywhere from 5 to number 1. In the end, this album was the second best only because B.O.B. has a lack of actual lyrical, and flowing abilities. He is however, a great song composer and made the album Kid Cudi wished he could have done. He manages to put together a variety of sounds that end up being cohesive, from the hits "Airplanes" and "Nothing on You", to the intro/song "Don't let me Fall" and Radio Disney staple, "Magic". The breadth of the album makes it more than just hip-hop and has me eagerly awaiting his follow-up, as long as it isn't rushed.

1. Attention Deficit- Wale

Wale may be somewhat known as arrogant, and I may be biased because he is from DC and I from Baltimore (and not in a good way mind you), but dude put out a terrific first album. Features mostly fit, though "Looking at Me" with Lady Gaga was a mistake to me, Wale makes up for it with "Pretty Girls" and what might be the best song of the year period in "Shades" where he talks about the light skinned/dark skinned dynamic in the black community. That song itself is worth the album. I don't care for the Bun B feature but the album is certainly hot from front to back. Congratulations Wale, you did a great job.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Asishiphop Awards- Single of the year 2010

This year the singles were once again hard to distinguish and separate the top from the bottom. Unfortunately, though Khaled and Banks both had strong singles, they don't make the top 5 but deserve an acknowledgment, especially Banks who came out of nowhere with Beamer Benz or Bentley.

Number 5:

"Hello Good Morning" - I'm still not gonna buy Last Train to Paris because the beats have been hot on all songs leaked or released but the auto tune portions from Puff are the absolute worst. On this song, the verses by Nicki Minaj and the infectious beat are what made it a success.

Number 4:

"Money to Blow" honestly, the thing everyone remembers is wayne saying "we gon' be alright cause we got Drake on every hook" and its proving true. The best thing to grace Baby's latest wack ass album, Money to Blow had a slick beat and alright lyrics from Drake while preserving the Cash Money swagger.

Number 3:

"Pretty Boy Swag" Once again, Soulja takes an annoying song, trite concept, and somehow makes it into a hit. The beat was passable for me but the actual song structure and lyrics were the worst. At the end of the day, it was a mega-hit.

number 2:

"BMF" Rick Ross had a mega-hit on his hands with the lead single from Teflon Don. The song was bumped on the radio, and in every whip and big truck driving down the street this summer. Everyone was feeling like Big Meech and Larry Hoover.

number 1:

"Empire State of Mind" Jay-z and Alicia Keys performed at the World Series and every award show with yet another Ode to the rotten Apple. Thsi song had everyone in every city pretending they were from one of the boroughs. I only wish everyone could have local pride like this. This single bubbles all through the winter and into the summer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The worst diss ever

by now the talk of the town well laugh actually, is the diss by "King" MC Hammer to Jay-z , "Better Run Run". I'm all for good beef and competition in hip-hop but this isn't that case. See apparently, Hammer was upset by being used as a punchline on Jay-z's verse in Kanye's "So Appalled" as Jay talked about dropping 30 mil a la the bankrupt MC Hammer. So Hammer says he's going to drop some knowledge and expose Jay on Halloween.

that's the best that you could come up with. What the fuck is this bullshit Hammer? Somehow all these bit roles in the various sagas of Tupac that have been attributed to you must have gone to your damn head homie. There is less than rumor in this wack ass song and I have to feel sorry for your kids and the people dancing in this video. The guy who played Jay-z I bet he doesn't want anyone to see his face. Man, I don't want to remember you like this Hammer. So to wash that out of my memory: