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, January 31, 2011

The Missy Effect

Now I've been meaning to get to this for a while just because I think it's kind of sad/funny. We all know Missy is a hip-hop icon and probably the biggest female hip-hop/pop act of the late 90's early 2000's. Everything she touched was hot like fire and her connections to Timbaland made her an even hotter commodity. Not the best rapper, she could make songs and maximized her potential by partnering with good people on both sides of the equation. The one thing she hasn't been able to due is craft or carve out long-lasting careers for people whom she took on as artists.


Lil Mo is currently doing her thing as a radio DJ in DC but it seems like it was ages ago when Superwoman came out and was the hottest thing in the streets. However, even before that, she came out showing her impressive singing skills and possibly too much of the Missy influence with her "5 Minutes" video from the "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" soundtrack.



I remembered that video forever and couldn't find it for a long time. She came off a bit like a Missy clone but she did make her own way with powerful vocals and collaborations with everyone from Roc-a-fella to Murder Inc., even doing a stint with Cash Money, but her career never hit those highs that it should have for a talented singer.


Nicole Wray had a decent little first album, sold a few copies but never achieved the success that Mo had. Eventually, she resurfaced with Roc-a-fella right before the demise of that record label and is still trying to get a foothold. Periodically I see something with her name on it.



Now her sophomore album never released however, I do have it somehow.



Gina Thompson wasn't exclusively on Missy's album however, this only single I ever heard from her was a Missy product:


Tweet is one of my wife's favorite artists and one of the many talented people whom started with Missy whose face could be on the back of a milk carton. Her debut album while not the biggest seller, is critically acclaimed as well as was her second. More recently, as posted on this very blog last year, her daughter is now trying to make it as a singer, hopefully she can make up for the ground her mother never got to cover.



and yes I love this video.

Not to mention, the group which Missy was a part of when she very first hit the scene, Sista, with Brand Nu.




It's safe to say Missy has always been surrounded by talent in all capacities, but dealing with her is almist as bad as dealing with Puffy. The one thing is that people actually will remember you and you will get a shot to succeed. With that I'm sad to say good-bye to Jazmin Sullivan who is going to go and take a break from recording and the industry. I have this feeling we won't hear from her again. These things tend to go in circles...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Keepin it Real Goes Wrong

So I'm trying to get some inspiration to get my blog on and i see this tomfoolery over at the "death of hip hop and urban culture" World Star Hip-hop. In the following clip- this interviewer does some things wrong that all of you who want to be personalities in the industry should pay attention to. The 'artist' Nefu da Don - I know, who cares right?, screws up on multiple occasions too. check it out and I'll add my commentary after.



So first thing if you want to be a personality or an interviewer you have to know what kind of guy you want to be. Either you gonna go along with the artists just to make them feel better, or you have to go hard and speak your mind at all times like CthaGod from the breakfast flakes. This guy doesn't know what he wants to be and you can tell because throughout the entire first part, he is waiting for the set up. He knows he's going to try and spring one on Nefu and I can see where he's just readying the bomb drop the whole time and can't focus on his questions. He also doesn't seem genuine and is letting this dude intimidate or push him around. See where Nefu asks if he is feeling his music, he's not but he lies and says he is. Be real and be yourself, don't be afraid that if you kiss their ass you won't be invited in because if you get the real stories and quotes, you will have the power. Remember that.

Nefu's problem is that he thinks he is more than what he is. He isn't prepared to even answer questions about his own work. He wasn't sharp at all and then when the bomb drops, he reacts very wrong. He spazzes out and tries too hard to carry the interviewer. The great part is that the camera man does what he is supposed to do and keeps rolling and no one looks at the red light or ushers him out. All of this "violated" shit is nonsense, that's the game, you not Jay-z, no one gonna cater to you. You should have answered it by just saying I'm not going to address that, like the professionals do.

However, even worse, was all of the apologies from this dude doing the interview. That's your job, ask the questions that people might be wondering about, although I have no clue what this whole shit was about, because none of these people are relevant. The thing is though, if you gave your word you have to abide by that, if you knew it would be sensitive, yet you wanted to ask, you should have never said anything about it before hand which, legitimizes Nefu's anger. It was already decided that whatever this silly ass subject is, wouldn't be part of the interview and  you tried to pull a slick one. Props to cameraman for getting out before they realized that tape was still running though.Gotta love that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Quiet Season..

January is a really dead season for hip-hop and while there have been some things to talk about and possibly discuss, there hasn't been too much to get excited over. But fear not there is a new update from me, as I take a look at an artist who sent me something a couple of weeks ago who goes by the name of Lerix.

You can check his EP here: New Heights

Now he has rhyming skills as do most of the guys who send me things but he has slightly more charisma and character in his flows. He also is very clear and manages to avoid being overly convoluted and trying to stuff too much into one song at a time. On this EP, the beats also have a good variety of sounds, unlike most underground EP's which tend to come off sounding like muffled J-Dilla compilations. for an example, check "Hustle Hard" which features Shane Eli and Thirsty Mcgurk.

However, the biggest downfall is that like most underground or independent artists, there is a lack of topics or variety beyond how good Lerix and company is at actually rapping. More attention to telling some sort of story or tale within the progression of the EP would be great and should be considered for a future release.

All in all, I liked this set of songs which is why I chose to write about Lerix out of all I have received lately. He stood out and thats always a good thing. Hit the link, and check it out,a nd then scroll down a couple of posts and hit up the Perfection mix tape from my man Japiro.

Monday, January 17, 2011

This is really what it's come to?

Now I'm perusing Worldstar for shit tot alk about since January is like no album month or something and along with the usual trash they have of course two women kissing-nothing unusual but I said let's see what this Amber Rose clip is about...I know, I'm part of the problem.



Now the thing that shocked me about this is that they have all of these cameras following them. I can understand maybe a couple of stragglers, but the gaggle of papparazzi is of an insane amount for two people who actually have done nothing to earn it. What are their talents? Being born with decent shapes? This is asinine and as a country overall there is way too much of this.



What I'm getting at is are these really the people that we should be following around and asking these silly non-relevant questions like what are they doing tonight? What party are they going to? Why aren't we supporting and promoting successful women entrepreneurs who aren't just walking around showing their asses? Maybe a woman like:

Tracey Travis, CFO & Senior VP of Finance Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.
 
 She may not look like Amber Rose who people think is some type of fashionista, and while she may not be the head designer, she ultimately has the final say on many of the decisions made at Ralph Lauren. You see the big problem is that we keep perpetuating these stereotypes that in order to be successful and black you have to be in entertainment, sports, or just plain luck from being cute enough at the right place and right time. Everyone wants to be seen on MTV or BET so they can be talked about and claim to have haters. How about working to success and following people who actually have some type of skill instead of showing young girls that being an airhead is the fastest way to success.
 
I posted early in my blogging days about how parents need to watch their daughters with these days of constant internet access, cell-phone, and webcams, and the thirst for attention and immediacy that posting a video dancing to Travis Porter on Youtube will bring. Long term goals need to be established and the following of these allegedly ambitious video vixens whose goals almost always extend to the medium of fashion and perfume and acting to varying degrees of failure needs to be eliminated. Your career highlight should not be the cover of King or Black Men's Magazine, not to completely knock these women, because there are a lot of legitimate models out there, but how many of these women actually make a mark or dent that is memorable?
I know it's not just hip-hop that has screwed up priorities, but if you're really all about the money and promoting the money and the idea that nothing is as important as getting money like most people in the industry claim, then why is there such an emphasis on people who don't really have money or pull? Too much of our time is based around presenting the image of something that we aren't instead of just becoming that very thing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Independent Music

My Man Japiro just dropped a new mixtape and you can get it right here:


http://divshare.com/download/13751101-76b

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Rhymefest is better than David Banner

I actually should have touched on this before, but Rhymefest is a Chicago rapper who also has a decent education and is very politically active and motivated. David Banner, talks a lot of shit all the time about how things need to change, is college educated, yet whenever he is asked about taking a leadership role, ducks away from the pressure.



Rhymefest however, whose real name is Che Smith, is now running for alderman in the 20th ward of Chicago. I don't even know what his political platform is, however, the fact that he is putting the mic to good use and getting behind the statements he makes given his elevated platform. If only David Banner would man up and do the same instead of trying to hang on to the thug bandwagon.

For more info. about his campaign, head over here: Friends of Rhymefest

Monday, January 10, 2011

When hip-hop was pure...



Battles like this were a common occurrence in the hoods where the entire culture developed. Now as Hip-hop enters it's 30's you see less and less of this within the mainstream and the "B-Boy" is relegated to underground status and rec center battles on liberal white college campuses and the more Asian areas of California. That's right, niggas don't dance no more regardless of what the latest 'craze' from the South telling you to snap and roll says.



Now there are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, it just isn't "cool" anymore. At some point, as hip-hop grew, there were more people who couldn't dance than those who could, and just like that, what once was a staple, became outnumbered. The other reasonable conclusion I can make, is that a mix between the people who couldn't dance, people, who wouldn't dance, and the hustlers, there was an unintended conspiracy that downplayed the ability of those who could dance most likely, to get at the females who were undoubtedly in attendance at impromptu street battles. Once it became that females were more interested in the guy who drove the nice car, would spend money on her, and didn't spend his time practicing his dance moves because he was busy getting money-shit changed. I can also say that some of the b-boyers probably brought it on themselves by refusing to be productive men and cut back on the fruitless dancing and growing up but thats most likely more because of the lack of steady income.

The other thing, and we have touched on this before when it comes to lyrics, the hip-hop culture is more about people who can do "real" things instead of fantasy like dance, and scratch records, and actually spit bars. That is just unfortunate that in our communities we can't let ourselves go and escape into some fantasy unless it's about being the next Godfather. As people who had less skills came into the fold and struggled to find a place next to those who do have the talents, they realized to just simplify those accomplishments by just reiterating how "real" they were. It's like beating your boy at Madden and he says 'Can't beat me for real though'; WTF does that have to do with anything? So now we have generations who don't appreciate the skill it takes to do anything more than the fucking Dougie.



Here is a shout out to all those keeping the dream alive now, the 'corny' white boys at your local college campus who break dance and listen to  little brother instead of playing Beer Pong and those Filipino immigrants who use hip-hop to make new friends in new places after they move.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Skillz proved once again internet fans ain't shhhh....

As we all know, Skillz is the official artist who does the wrap-up every year. What started as something for a bit of fun for him, one of the illest ghostwriters who the younger generation doesn't know, has become fully expected by the hip-hop community. Now he took to his twitter on new year's eve and told the eagerly awaiting public that they would have to wait because he had a paying gig and he wasn't about to be late or miss that for a song that no one had ever paid for. Some people were upset, but that was the tip of the iceberg...For when the song did drop, Skillz sent out a link for an itunes download at a whopping 99 cents!







I know he had plenty of angry tweets though some fans did reply that it was only 99 cents and for everyone else to stop being cheap. That Skillz put his work behind it, had studio time and mixing done and didn't really get any benefit from it, I highly doubt anyone books him to perform the wrap-up, meant he was entitled to get paid for it. I don't have a problem with that, but it does highlight the obvious disconnect between hip-hop fans and artists, especially those with a large internet presence.



About 3 years ago, Queens MC Cormega, who was once part of the Firm along with Nas, AZ, and Foxy Brown (for the uninitiated) made the statement that internet fans, while supportive ain't shit because they don't actually buy records. For the most part, he is right apart from a really small core who are true fans of particular artists, no one is going to download an album for free, then go and purchase the same album. Internet fans are some of the most voracious supporters of the non-mainstream acts that exist. Just look at the ground support for Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Black Milk, and Little Brother. However, when it comes down to it, the numbers don't come close to adding up even in the sense that they have a smaller fanbase. The reason, their fans take to the internet and tend to be more computer savvy and thus able to trade and give the sometimes hard to find music to one another.
 

Unlike one of Skillz' supporters insinuated, it's not about being a cheapskate, it's the simple fact of that matter that the music can be found so easily, and their is a rush to get it first, that it's just not going to be paid for. There are plenty of sites that provide music leaks including, blogs, forums, message boards, and probably even e-mails and tweets. It's not personal, I bought "From Where?" but back then I had to. There was no other choice. Now there are so many outlets that in an industry that moves so fast, by the time a song might be actually available for download on itunes, the consumer has moved on from that to the next one. Even if you remember, are you really going to spend a dollar on a song you don't even like that much anymore, or one that you have already listened to 30 times. You don't need the second song, and the artist looks like he ate earlier he should be alright. It's not right you can say but it's what the industry has devolved to and that's the fault of everyone, from fans, to labels, to artists.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Staying in the lane that's best for you...

Now a lot of guys are clamoring to make it in this industry because it seems easy when you see the Wacka Flocka's and Gucci's of the industry on Worldstar flashing diamonds and having half naked strippers running around in a shower of (fake) 20's. It's easy to under estimate what it takes to be more than a niche artist these days. Hell, anyone can have a hit now a days, but too many people would be better off getting their money behind the scenes and not exposing themselves to the public. Case in point:

Sean Garrett:

this guy has the worst singing voice ever. I have never heard someone who sounds this bad and whiny. I would almost pay him to never let his voice be heard again. Now dude seems like a decent writer which is fine and you can have a really good career doing that and never have to deal with the 'celebrity' of things.


The Dream:

To me he is the nightmare, the biggest of the really bad singers who is forever off-key and has an absurdly annoying voice. His songs are also generally boring, using the same cliche lyrics and not much emotion. I could do without him, but he can write well enough to carve out a career, i just don't need to see Mr. Thumb. He doesn't even look like a damn star.





Kid Cudi:

Somehow he was allowed to record and release a second album which is even worse than the first one. He seems like he puts together good music and create good songs but not be able to carry it out on his own. His two albums are probably the worst things I have ever heard from someone who was so seemingly talented. Much like the two mentioned beforehand, it seems like he is trying too hard to make up for the physical talent it takes to pull off being a musician.


Now of course, all of this is my opinion but none of these guys has ever done enough to wow me over because they pretty much suck.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Retaliate



Now I don't want to seem like I'm being an advocate for violence especially in light of my post about Suge Knight, but this song by Maino is one of the hardest songs I have ever heard. I really feel like Maino is going to murk a dude on this joint and that's what strikes me about this song. The problem is that of all the things in the world, our artists can only feel this type of emotion in this manner and that's sad. But whheeew, this shit gives you the nasty face.