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Monday, August 29, 2011

My Thoughts on Hip-hop shenanigans at the VMAs

Okay so in between the boring parts of True Blood I caught some of the VMA's and by now I am done with award shows. I feel like they're pompous and just so the same people can have their egos stroked rather than truly awarding ingenuity and pointing out things that the masses might have missed while they were busy in their respective shells.

First thing- anyone who really like this Tyler the Creator and Odd Future is a clown and sucks. I understand people want to be extreme and be controversial but generally it needs to have something behind it for it to make sense. These guys strike me as Lil B, attention starved kids who say outrageous things to get looked at but they aren't about any substance. I can't respect that. It's one thing to dislike Bruno Mars but the cursing and ridiculousness is what bothers me. Never mind the fact that the nominees for VMA's did nothing to make their actual video stand out or be original. In fact one of his co-nominees, Kreayshawn was involved in something we didn't see at first but got a glimpse of today courtesy of worldstar hiphop and its assortment of trash.

So apprently the Boss Rick Ross was really hurt by something Kreayshawn said about him last week. That's fine, he can catch an attitude but he figured he would approach her and her little entourage at the show. Not only is this MTV you idiot but it's fucking Kreayshawn. You lose goon points again and gonna make me go back to Officer Ricky for shit like this.

Chris Brown can dance his ass off but that's all he did and after a while shit got real boring to me. After all he did those exact same moves in the last three videos and the jumping back and forth was exciting the first time but like a Family Guy skit, went on way too long for my liking. It was also incredibly self-indulgent but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever seen.

Congratulations is in order to Jay-z for finally impregnating Beyonce. It's about damn time he got the receipt. I'm not a Beyonce hater or lover but I am a realist. Jay z is also my favorite rapper of all time but I do not approve of the relationship he has with Kanye. It made me sick to my guts that Kanye is hopping around patting him on the back instead of Dame Dash. You may not agree but that whole entire 'break up' had a lot of shady shit involved in it. Also that performance of "Otis" was fine but nothing extra special. I'm at the point in my life when just the idea that Jay-z decided to show up is not enough to make me scream "YOOOOOOOOOOOOO" at the top of my lungs and jump up and down pounding people on the back. Especially when he is promoting a half assed album wearing a child's medium hanes t-shirt and some damn buttahs.I'm pretty sure my grandmother has the shirt Kanye was wearing too.

Then we get to the bane of my existence when it comes to live and award show performances, Lil wayne's sorry ass. I understand he's popular and brings a lot of energy to the show but he is disrespectful every single time by seeming to use more and more foul language. I am old school in that I think if you're going to perform you need to be friendly to the viewing audience and do music that can be performed without missing half of it. I hate the fact they keep letting this guy not only perform, but close out shows. Then he has on zebra pants...smfh. But i guess it is my age showing. Every time I watch an award show I get disappointed overall, and especially the hip-hop artists because that's the genre i am most invested in.

one last thing-not a Knaye or Hype fan but All of the Lights finished second to Super Bass? wtf?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Independent Music Spotlight

So I know a lot of independent guys send me their music and my e-mail is exploding right now with unread stuff. I do try to get through it all though it just takes time with work and the major label releases amongst other things. Here is a long overdue post though for you guys trying to make it and get to the level of the Big Sean's and Drakes. I know it isn't easy.

I am pretty sure I wrote about Young Nate before. He may not be the best lyricist that I have ever heard but he isn't bad and is a very polished artist. He has good charisma and a professional sound. I also think he can make good songs and this is probably the second one that I have heard that could make it into the rotation. Click Here to hear some of his music including "What We doin" which is a nice joint.

My second artist that I will present is Al Nyce whom I found about from the Who Got Next Campaign. A Brooklyn rapper he is also pretty polished and is more lyrical and conceptual from the music that I have heard so far. New single, "Alternate Reality" reminds me of the creativity that 50 Cent brought with "How to Rob" so many years ago. He also has a song called "Pontificate" with a video I grabbed on Youtube so check it out here:

Third for this edition is going to be Mr. Encore of Victory League Music.  This song which was the single from a mix tape is called "Vibe With It" and is a throwback mid-tempo hip-hop song that fits in with the end of summer/fall period. I like his rap voice and his flow is just slightly different than what you might consider the average. Give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Check each of these guys out and tell me what you think about their music and refer this to others f you think they'll like it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Album Review- Lil Wayne- The Carter IV

Some albums you just know what you're going to get before you even press play on the first track so you're not really disappointed when you don't get that goose bump from something being ill, you just shrug and keep it moving. I've felt like that with a lot of albums recently with two exceptions, the Carter 4 isn't one of them. I haven't been a big Wayne fan for years and this album is a shining example of why. The highly anticipated post-incarceration album is finally coming out next week and the leak is already the talk of the town.

The Intro for the album is just what you expect from Wayne, straight bars and punchlines, which is fine after all, it's just the beginning, but the original Carter at least had a theme to it of sorts. "Blunt Blowin" has Wayne doing a Drake impersonation to start the song and while Wayne does have lyrics and punchlines for days, this song's verses have nothing to do with the hook, explaining what exactly a "Blunt blowin' polo draws showing, I don't give a fuck nigga" really is. The production on the song is top notch and the album has bass overall but it isn't as enveloping as the past couple have been.

"Megaman," "6'7"" with Corey Gunz, and "John" with Rick Ross are all pretty much the same songs. Heavy beats with a lot of bass, greasy swagger talk with lines that don't relate to the titles or come together as cohesive songs but they all have some decent parts with bars taken by themselves. "Noghtmares of the Bottom" is an attempt to have a reflective yet happy piece about making it but wayne strays too much and doesn't focus on connecting to the main idea and the third verse is all over the place. The latest single, "She Will" features Drake and is going to be a favorite in the strip clubs and once again the protege stands out because he more relates to the topic and his voice is slightly less annoying. T-Pain does his thing on "How to Hate" where he and Wayne talk about the thing that made them say they hate a woman.

I would expect a song with a hook like that on "Abortion" to be about haters (once you hear it you'll understand) but instead Wayne goes back to being unfocused in every way. John Legend handles the hook on "So Special" where though Wayne is vulgar he puts together his most complete song. "How to Love" is the pop single and apparently people will listen to anything but I guess its just like "Whatever you Like" from T.I. a few years ago. "President Carter" is slightly more focused but it's just another song.

Meanwhile, "It's Good" which features both Jadakiss (lol give up already) and Drake, has garnered a lot of attention as Wayne takes the chance to throw shots back at Jay-z over Baby's money. Odds are Jay will respond next year sometime subliminally as is his custom. The highlights for me are the interlude and outro neither of which actually feature Wayne. The first interlude has Tech-9yne and Andre 3000 who both do better than Wayne on the album. The Outro has Bun B, a rejuvenated sounding Nas, Shyne, and Busta Rhymes. Now of course with today's albums everyone has a deluxe edition which has "Mirror" featuring Bruno Mars who is on fire right now and who carries the song way more than wayne. The other song is "Two Shots" which is like most of the album.

I have never felt Wayne couldn't rap but he isn't a true artist. He still cannot focus on a topic and when he has good hook ideas the verses never relate back. All he is about is fucking both women and the world and telling you how he's gonna murk you and gets money. If this is what you like it's what you get but Wayne has gotten comfortable and lazy with his music and its getting stale really fast.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Album Review- Royce da 5'9- Success is Certain

So fresh on the heels of the Bad Meets Evil reunion album with Eminem and the signing of his group Slaughterhouse, to the Shady Records imprint, Royce da 59 is releasing another studio album, "Success is Certain". Now I have had this for a few weeks but in the aftermath of the much overhyped Watch the Throne I had to go back and get a good listen on this one.

The album starts off with "Legendary" which features Travis Barker and if you heard the hip-hop album he released recently, then you're familiar with the sound of the song. The next song is the recently released single featuring Eminem-"Writer's Block" where Royce does a lot of fast rapping but it never feels cohesive although the point is to show how lyrical and original he can be. It's more about the flow and overkill on the beat that brings it down. Meanwhile on "Merry Go Round" Royce talks about his ups and downs and back and forths in the industry, but the song feels too gimmicky.

Royce hits his stride on the first street single "Where my Money" which fits him with the production style and his rap style on the track feels more organic. "On The Boulevard" is another example of where Royce can shine and this song features Nottz and Adonis. Kid Vishis is the guest artists on "ER" which is an energetic rap song about the rap game. "I Ain't Coming Down" talks about several topics such as Royce's past mistakes and haters.

"Security" is a sort of concept track about the beef and relationship with Proof and Royce during their brief period of beef. The verses are kind of weird and the hook is too but it works in the context. Premier handles the production on "Second Place" with his classic sound as Royce once again brags. "My Own Planet" has a two-step track with a mid-2000's atlantic records type of sound to it as a secondary single and features the only Slaughterhouse feature by Joe Budden. The final track "I've been up, I've been down" isn't the best representation of Royce. He reverts back to using a lot of phrases more 'because he can' than because they sound good.

Overall this is a fairly uneven release from Royce. Too often he seems to be still trying to show forgiveness for his past beef with Eminem and doesn't do enough to establish why he should be listened to going forward. In the early parts he is overwhelmed with trying to add extra lyricism that doesn't necessarily fit in as much with his flow and style and is being forced into a Marshall mathers-esque mold. when he does get back to being himself he does fine even if there isn't so much that is exceptional about what he brings to the table.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, August 19, 2011

Album Review- The Game- The R.E.D. Album

The Game is one of the more polarizing figures in rap music. Everyone pretty much knows that he has skills but the way he name-drops is annoying to many people. He has also had his share of controversies and contrived beefs with everyone from 50 Cent and his own label to Jay-z. While his last album, L.A.X., didn't fare well, he is back to reclaim the title as the best from the West on the mainstream market today.

The album starts with an intro by Dr. Dre which is designed to tell the story that the record progresses through, but the first song, "The City" is a certified banger where Game spits some of the best bars with the most feeling since the Documentary was released. It also features Kendrick Lamar who also does a good job explaining his inspiration behind spitting. The track "Ricky" is serious, using samples from Boyz in the Hood as Game re-tells his own tale of growing up in Compton intermixed within the relationship of the movie. The beat by DJ Khalil might be the best production of the year overall. Personally, I could do without the hook on "Red Nation" which is done by Lil Wayne, but Game mixes his flows well and puts out an otherwise solid track thats an ode to his affiliation.

The West Coast feel is prevalent on "Drug Test" that features Snoop, who has the best verse, Dr. Dre and Sly with the traditional funk bass lines, the only thing missing is the late Nate Dogg. Wayne is also sampled on "Martians vs. Goblins" that features Tyler the Creator who does his thing, but Game is too busy trying to mimic the horror-core artists style to really establish his own thing on the song but it isn't a bad track. Drake lends his flavor to "Good Girl Gone Bad" where Game spits about his respect for women while Drake tells them that he will be back after he messes with the bad girls.

Average songs for me are "Heavy Artillery" with Rick Ross and Beanie Sigel (where they find him at?), though it does have a good beat, "Paramedics" featuring Young Jeezy, " and "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly" where once again Game tells of how he got shot, only this time under the guise of being interrogated. His flow is boring and the story is the same thing we've heard on four albums so it gets old fast. Big Boi and e-40 also show up on "Speakers on Blast."

In the potential singles category there is "Hello" which features Lloyd but it isn't anything too special. Mario (again Game digs up guys who've been gone for a while) and Wale co-star on "All the way Gone" which brings a different dimension to the album but truly Wale and Mario might have been better off as the song just belonging to them. Frequent collaborator Chris Brown handles hook duties on "Pot of Gold" the inspirational song of the album. Luu Breeze is the hook master on "All i Know" a solid album filler. The album ends on a slightly weird note with "Mama Knows" which features Nelly furtado and "California Dream".

The Game is officially back with a solid album that has top-notch production throughout. Most songs retain the West Coast feel without being too far left for the mainstream, but he does suffer from having too many features on the album as usual. He also tends to try and rap like whatever artist he has on a track instead of bringing his usual thing to the equation, or switching his flow on a solo song. The album is probably two songs too long and his repeated use of "red bottoms" is this albums crutch. He also manages to minimize his name dropping and change how he does it so it isn't too corny. That aside it is a very good album, maybe not the Documentary but you can only have your first album once. This puts Game back on the top where he should be.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, August 15, 2011

Was Ol' Dirty Really better than Lil B?

So I post to my twitter that I'm listening to ODB's Nigga Please album and my resident asshole @8plus9 aka NC-17 creator of Black Girls Are Easy replies with "but he ain't as fire as Lil B". Now I know he just says random shit out of his mouth- or in this case- his keyboard, but i did have to get to thinking about it, especially while listening to this ridiculous yet classic album.

To be sure the Old Dirty Bastard made his share of absurd headlines, especially going onto mTV right after the release of his Return to the 36 Chambers album and take the camera with him to pick up some damn food stamps. He also admitted to being burned like 7 times and having a whole gang of kids. The ODB was literally so off his rocker you didn't know whether to applaud his realism or go hide his ass somewhere. You also wondered why out of the Wu was he one of the members at the forefront of their movement. The answer was easy, he had Charisma. now they call it "swagger" but that's just what it was.

I don't like Lil' B at all, I don't see where he has any musical talent-I'm probably just old-but he does have charisma. I think ODB had an innate ability to create above average music and his outlandish personality just added another dimension while I would say Lil B is more of a character and less of an actual artist from what I have heard.

I know- I'm not making a good argument with these Ol' Dirty videos, but unlike Lil B he grew up in a more unstable environment and was obviously an alcoholic and drug addict for his adult years. While he was known to do ridiculous things like rename himself "Big Baby Jesus" and "Osiris"- all at the worst times for those televising him I might add. I wish I could find that clip where he told Carson Daly to call him that-dude had the worst look of panic on his face ever.

I know part of this is age bias, but you're not going to tell me that Lil B is trying to do more than just shock as many people as possible by saying the things he says and his actions and manner of dress. Music for him, and some of the better new rappers that have come out, is secondary to style and fashion.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Watch the Throne- another opinion- by guest Archie

Now this is the text from an e-mail one of my homies sent out regarding the latest Jay-z and Kanye release and hopefully this will be the last time that I have to address this album for a while. Here it goes:

Ok, here it goes... Jay Z (he removed the Dash... LOL). Jay's idea of lyricism is beginning to expire. You can almost predict what he'll say and how he'll flow on a track. His content speaks of high-end districts and fashion. These are things that the average listener can't relate to. He continues to thank Marcy and the drug game for getting him to where he is but that's been 20 years ago and no longer applies to his level of success. My opinion... I'll just stick with Reasonable Doubt, Blueprint 1 and 3.

Kanye killed Jay on most of the songs. My guess is that he being the producer, knew how to create his music. I HATE the new Kanye sound. The songs are drwan out with chords and random sounds that become nerve wrecking.

It's a Kanye album featuring Jay Z. I give it 1 star or 1 mic (thanks to Otis...). It's boring. I was hoping for a Blueprint 1/ College Dropout collabo. It's more like Kanye's world and Jay is buying up all the land in it.

These two stars (can't call them rappers after this one) had the power to change hip-hop. That's my BITCH?? Really?!! Dude, you're 40+ and you're "bitch" is Beyonce. I think most of your listeners would not mind if you called her your lady. I'd give you a pass on that one!

I was hoping for music that I could play at a 30 and older swaree but I got an album with two old heads trying to keep up with the likes of Rick Ross and the Young Money gang (the new lead poison for black kids).

If this is luxury rap, I'll stick to the homeless hip hop.

Album Review- Ace Hood- Blood, Sweat, and Tears

I am one of Ace's biggest detractors. I have never liked him, never saw his purpose and have felt he hasn't ever defined himself as an artist yet DJ Khaled continues attempting to shove this guy down our throats. I even compared him to Young City-who by the way- decided to drop videos this week just as Ace Hood releases his album and gets ambushed by the Jay Z and Kanye watch the throne album. I might just have to take back some of my bad words about Ace after this though.

We all already know about the serious beat that was "Hustle Hard" and the remix which both make the album the latter with Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. I even think the video wasn't that bad though conceptually it was extra simple, the good thing is that Ace is talking more on his level and not on that of a Rick Ross. The album starts off with the strong T-pain hooked "King of the Streets", the hook and song all together is actually hot. However, the beginning falls victim to bad album ordering and repetitiveness early, "Go N Get It" is Hustle Hard with less bass and "Errythang" with Yo Gotti is more of the same old thing. In fact it sounds like one continuous song which is never good.

"Body 2 Body" is the newest single and features Chris Brown in a formulaic rap/r and b collaboration. Kevin Cossum is on "Memory Lane" with Ace Hood as he reminisces on the people who were down before the fame came. "Letter to my Exes" is a more in depth and personal song to the women who did Ace wrong than I would expect and it has a variety of emotions expressed through out it. "Beautiful" is probably better than Body 2 Body with the way it sounds and it also features Kevin Cossum so you should expect to see a video for it. Ace does another good job on "Lord Knows" where he gives a better insight about the path he has taken to get to this point. "Bitter World" has Ace trying to show different perspectives about how the world is bitter and can do you wrong. "Spoke to My Momma" is more in the same vein about what 'hustling hard' is and where its going to get him.

Overall this is the album Ace Hood should have made two years ago, and though it does end up getting repetitive somewhat by the end of it, its better to be repetitive with something behind your words than to just talk the same old hustling tales with no reasoning behind them. Its obvious that while there was a point things were hard, at 24 and being in the game since 20 he hasn't had much time to really add and have those down periods extended. Not that I would have wanted him to, but it is nice to get some insight into  him as a person. There are two feels to the production and that is part of the issue as well as Ace delivery always being one where he yells at the top of his lungs. While the aggression can be good, controlling that and coming with a softer tone could really enhance a song. I must admit, I am impressed with this release more so than that of some others that have come out this week.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, August 8, 2011

Album Review- Watch The Throne- Kanye West and Jay Z

I knew it. The album I was least excited to hear is out and its every bit of the self indulgent narcissim that I expected. While there are always going to be shining moments when you have two artists of this caliber, there is also potential for disaster when you have two superstars who have in the past displayed a tendency to do whatever they want with no one saying nary a negative word even when it would seem necessary. The best thing was that the two could drop the album randomly to prevent bootlegging and get sales based upon their name recognition.

The album starts off well enough with a funky track for "No Church in the Wild" which features a hook by Frank Ocean. Jay has obviously taken some style from Rick Ross as the manner of his description sounds vaguely familiar at points. The song really isn't about anything, but Jay and Kanye can talk about nothing better than most rappers because while their verses don't relate to one another, they're not bad, but there is way too much of the hook. "Niggas in Paris" is the requisite Kanye and Jay ball to another level track but Kanye fails to deliver and is over shadowed by the slightly overproduced track. Then there is "Otis" which has been out maybe two weeks and has been used more than the In the Club beat was.

"Gotta Have it" has Jay and Ye going back and forth over a sample more annoying than the 'A milli' beat as they talk about how they need that money. "Lift Off" which is early in the set is possibly the worst song ever to feature Jay-z vocals, and yes that includes 'Sunshine' from volume 1. It also features Beyonce and has Kanye doing his rendition of singing. The verses on "New Day" are pretty good as they both send verses to their unborn sons but once again the sample is way too loud and repetitive which is odd since it is produced by The Rza. Jay takes the time to describe how fly Beyonce is on "That's my Bitch" and Kanye is busy describing his romance with Amber Rose. I have to ask really though, "Thats My Bitch" after a dozen albums Jay couldn't have a better title? After all of the explaining he did in his book.

Swizz Beats produced "Welcome to the Jungle" where Jay gets off on a old school throwback track (Kanye is there but Jay greatly overshadows him) as he spits in the memories of himself, Pac, Michael Jackson and others, and I am vehemently against Swizz ever being heard on tracks he produces. "Who gon' Stop Me" isn't about anything and the worst part is near the end of the song Jay seems to be stumbling over the beat at times. "Murder to Excellence" has a decent concept and the best overall verses and cohesiveness of the album, though it sounds like Kanye is recycling samples from his last album. Frank Ocean handles the ridiculously long hooks and pre-chorus' on "Made in America" which could be a good song but fails under the weight of over-production. This is a case where simple could have been better. The album ends with "Why I Love You" with Mr. Hudson handling the hook on the pop-rock-rap track where Jay talks about how he has love for the same people who want to bring him back down. It actually sounds like leftover angst from the Blueprint 3.

Look most people are going to eat this pretentious drivel up because they'll feel awkward for criticizing something that will be so spectacularly successful on the popular level. However this album is massively over-produced with too loud samples that are too repetitive and have too much going on. Most of the verses are about nothing in particular, though you get less about just tossing money than with most other artists. This still isn't up to the standards just recently set by Kanye on his latest album which was a gem and Jay-z as recently as Kingdom Come and American Gangster. The biggest problem I see with the album is that there was no filter to tone things down at any point and thus the result is a muddled and middling album that doesn't reflect their talents although consensus based on reputation alone will probably trend otherwise.

Rating: 2.5/5

Album Review- Black Rob- Game Tested Streets Approved

Black Rob has been through hell and back. He has been signed to Bad Boy, been to jail a couple times, and battled serious illness. Through it all he has persevered and remained one of the few artists who can seemingly make a decent single yet keep it real. with a gravelly voice BR is back an on Duck Down records, an underground NY powerhouse of street mc's with his latest release.

"Welcome Back" and "Boiling Water" are straight forward rap songs from BR with strong production and verses that touch on a variety of topics. The best part is that the joints sound 100% official without a hint of pretensions that so many of today's artists have from the streets to the radio."Bumpin" sounds like a throwback to the recent Bad Boy sound for Black but the hook is sub-par. "Can't make it in NY" is a different type of ode to his home city as Black talks about how he has made it in the rotten apple as well as a description of the populace in general.

Black gets more introspective on "Showin Up" where he talks about how he can talk to the people and relate to them because of what he's been through and his realness. The lead single is "Celebration" which is a great end of summer cookout song in  classic hip-hop mold. "Wanna Get Dough" is more of the general 'teach you how I get down' songs, with a hybrid east coast/southern beat with a mean bass line and simple lyrics. The same can be said for "Get Involved" where Black uses simple bells and drums beat to talk about how he gets down in the clubs across the nation.

BR uses another left over Bad Boy beat on the weak "Sand to the Beach" about leaving his broads at home when he goes out. "Made me a Man" is another 'I'm the real Tough guy' rant. "Fuck em" and "This is what it is" are both generic songs that don't really set themselves apart from anything in the Black Rob catalog. "Up North This is What it is" is like a continuation of the previous song, with the aspect of being locked up added to it. "No Fear" has the only feature on the album with Sean Price but it falls right into line with the rest of the album.

Overall it's nice to hear Black Rob back recording. I always thought he had an excellent rap voice and his flow and style are decent and sound better when contrasted against the background of southern rap these days, however, he lacks variety and the direction that Puffy provided him in the past. Too much of the album is the same topic and rehashing of what he has done with more creativity on his previous Bad Boy releases. The production is top notch for an independent release with decent variety with nothing feeling too out of place.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Hope MGK doesn't get screwed...

But he just signed with Bad Boy. Now I have love for the old Bad Boy Entertainment and what it used to be. However, over the past 7 years things have gotten worse and worse.I don't even know if they've put out an album in the past two years, and if it was, it was just Janelle Monae. I remember seeing the new face of Bad Boy in one of the hip-hop magazines and I even posted about it but it's been so long since then that I can't even remember. All I know is Red Cafe made the wrong choice in staying with Puff even if it was his last shot.

For those who don't know about MGK or Machine Gun Kelly, he is an artist from Cleveland, maybe the first since Ray Cash in like 2004 to be able to get some national spotlight. He is also going to be like the third white rapper ever attempted on Bad Boy and the track record isn't good. Positives, MGK has an actual story and people relate to him and love the dude like he's Eminem. He is somewhat established on his own and has some skills and a sound. I can support the kid I just hope Bad Boy does better than it has and he doesn't disappear like so many promising new talents.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where are the albums?

Hip Hop might just be dead in a way. Though there are more 'artists' (to use the term very loosely) than ever, there seems to be a lot less in the form of quality and quantity of albums for consumers to snap up...or not. There are thousands of unsigned artists and independent out there and believe it or not, labels still hand out deals. What doesn't happen is albums dropping. Let's look at hip-hop's major releases in the summer of 1999:

Now there is a new mix tape almost every day and I will admit that most of these function as some sore of album for most artists but it leads to the question, why not just make an album if you're putting all of this production into a mix tape? Call it what it is, an album and get it into the retailers. For all of the promotion and videos that are used to support mix tapes, you would be better off calling it an album and getting credit as such.

Even more frustrating is the artists who are signed to major label deals. Why haven't I seen a Young Dro album in like 5 years? It's not like there is any competition for sales. There once was a time when there was at least one hot album a week released in hip-hop. Now every label seems to be "waiting for the fourth quarter" to release artists like Jay-z, Kanye, or Eminem. Everyone wants to rule the fourth. If your company is in a deficit going in to the last part of the year, guess what, you're probably still going to be screwed by trying to save your major release, especially since everyone else is doing the same thing.

This is part of why there isn't a new star and you have "old" rappers like Jay-z and Lil Wayne who has been around since the the late 90's who are still running the game. The network for creating stars has changed because there are no true reliable sources for who is hot. DJ Clue tapes used to be the barometer and maybe a Funkmaster Flex tape or two. Then you could have a Mase or The Lox feature on songs that are going to be on the radio to get mainstream penetration  and you knew and respected what was going on. Now, there is so much cronyism and media niches and sub-niches that it is almost impossible to know who to support.

Part of this is because the labels aren't putting money behind anyone on multiple formats. Some of this is because there are so many ways to get exposure that they don't know what to put a focus behind. Here's a hint- all of them. You have to spend on internet, radio, tv, and magazines and the artists has to share some responsibility for viral marketing. The trend has to be more involvement by the label, not less as has happened. Look everyone isn't going to be a star or have the perfect ratio of earnings to money spent but we have got to be able to have albums for people to actually buy if sales are going to rise.

Monday, August 1, 2011

JoJo or Diggy which Simmons is heir to the throne

So a lot of people watched Run's House, I saw maybe 10 episodes over the series' run so I am familiar with the family. While much of the early attention was focused on Rev Run's daughters, more recently, Diggy has become the family's star, surpassing his older brother JoJo whom everyone knew wanted badly to be hair to the family legacy in hip-hop. Much of JoJo's problem comes from his struggles with an image of being raised with some privilege yet trying to be grounded and street as his uncle and father were.

Younger brother Diggy has a more natural rap flow and seems to be better with words and has the preferred look for stardom. Upon hearing Dig's early work, JoJo became sort of a joke because the younger Simmons is more talented. Not helping were JoJos equally wack homies, his weed arrest, and the fact that even Uncle Russell seemed not interested in helping the boy.

Videos like this don't help where JoJo talks about his money while driving a freaking Firebird T-top. If that's what you're pushing-be that person. Now he seems to be aiming to be a true underground artist and go with the grimy hood-rapper look.

Diggy has all of the money behind him. He is signed to Atlantic, doing tours with tween sensation "Mindless Behavior" and getting Verizon commercials. Getting all of the push due to JoJo mostly because of his looks. When it comes to verses, Diggy doesn't have very much content, not like it matters anymore and he is actually a little annoying.

As if his voice wasn't annoying enough he is singing in auto tune on the hook. Look, it's crazy the production values behind his projects to date as compared to JoJo and I wonder how intentional is that when neither one of them is that good of a rapper. Both have serious flaws in their game but it looks as though Diggy will have the more successful career, especially in the short term with all of the money behind him. Do you think either of these guys has a chance in hip hop?


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