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, September 26, 2011

Album Review- J. Cole- Coleworld: The Sideline story

J. Cole, Drake, and Wale are like the new holy trinity of hip-hop, all three being hyped and promoted each by another of hip-hops current heavyweights. Wale and Drake both dropped last year and Cole has been sitting on the shelf for a while, dropping highly respected mix tapes but his actual album release was much in doubt. With little fanfare compared to the others, September finally saw the release of Coleworld: the Sideline Story.

The album starts with "Dollar and a Dream III" where Cole goes in and does a lot of rapping, and while he doesn't suck, at the end you don't get anything other than general 'I'm gonna get money so my momma can retire' rap which has its place but doesn't make a statement off the bat for the album.  "Lights Out" is about
dealing with a woman who is just trying to get into bed while Cole wants to deal with the real issues in his life. On "Sideline Story" Cole talks about being overlooked and slept on by everyone.

"Lost ones" is a pretty good song as Cole goes back and forth with a girl he has gotten pregnant about whether or not they should keep the baby and the issues surrounding that. Missy Elliott makes a surprise appearance on "Nobody's Perfect" which isn't about anything in particular at all, though the second verse is once again about getting it in with a woman. Meanwhile " Never Tell" is another confusing song where in the middle, Cole references his absentee father as a reason for cheating ways. Cole shows his arrogance on "Rise and Shine" where he gets aggressive talking to the haters. The same thing is basically the topic in "God's Gift".

"Breakdown" is the best song on the album and coincidently it's the last track, as his first verse best sums up all of the complaining throughout the album about his lack of a father and the second about his mother. "Can't Get Enough" with Trey Songz is about how Cole can put it down in the bedroom. I'd rather forget about the single "Mr. Nice Watch".

Look, J. Cole is a good example of why everyone who is capable of being a rapper shouldn't necessarily be a rapper. The album is solid but it is very boring and a lot of the attempts that an artist like Drake does at singing seem forced into this because that is what is popular right now, sort of like R. Kelly using auto tune. The problem with J.Cole is he never develops a compelling story, as he attempts too many times to play up the fatherless young man aspect. It feels like a case of me getting what I asked for because he takes the needing a daddy issue way too far. His best two songs are natural and subject matter that isn't forced in "Lost Ones" and "Breakdown". More of an example of this new generation of rappers with false angst and forced drama it reminds me of a ABC Family melodrama where at the end it's overly forced to be the perfect situation of doubt to success. Cole is a guy who should have finished school and could make a good executive somewhere instead he settles for being an average rapper who lacks the passion to truly be great.

Rating: 2/5


Simply put this post is about an artist who was one of the next in line to blow around the time when Jadakiss was coming into his own and 50 Cent was beginning to get his shine on. Ironically, considered the next Shyne, Mysonne was on the sure fire path to stardom. Unfortunately, a jail stint put his career on hold and I for one thought this guy might not ever surface again. He got out and a couple of years ago, I thought Mysonne had gotten passed over by the game and that his time had passed. I mean he came back with the same late 90's talks of gangster exploits and reality rap but by now you had to relocate to Miami or Atlanta to make it in the game with a style like that.

Mysonne has persevered though and through the internet, World star hip-hop, and social media, has managed to rebuild a following and quite possibly, his career. His lyrics have gotten better probably because he actually does seem to have principles and while he may talk the gangster lifestyle, it has lost its meaning and weight with so many lame dudes getting into the game touting the same virtues and things that people like Mysonne and Maino actually have survived.

Now a couple of months ago, I posted a rant, speech, or whatever you might want to call it, from Mysonne about Lil' B and people of his ilk. Now Mysonne does have things he can improve on including being a more well-rounded mc and getting some polish but as far as content, right now he is in the zone where he really needs to be, keeping it real, speaking on his experiences, while trying to not just glorify his thugging past.

Let me know what you think about Mysonne. Is he coming back or just trying too hard to hold on?

Top 55 of all time? - The Final Chapter

So now we have my top ten and actually this section is probably anti-climactic when compared to the previous sets of ten. I know there have been some shocks and surprises along the way and I will have taken bumps and bruises and my share of criticism but every list is like this. Here we go, the final top 10:

10. Kanye West - Now I hate Kanye's personality and his outward arrogance. However, I cannot deny that College dropout was a classic, his last album was pretty close and Late Registration was no slouch. Now Heartbreaks and 808's was an example of his hubris gone wrong but Kanye opened the door for the non-thugs to enter the game and be successful. His production is generally top notch and he has above average lyricism and most of the time can say some slick lines though he can also fall victim to that Lil wayne type arrogance of saying anything, and not just in public situations either.

9. Nas - Nas sort of fell off with the past two albums with too much material and not enough editing down and solid concepts, but who can forget songs like "I Gave you power" and "If i ruled the World". The thugs poet, Esco made many mad with his often terrible selection of beats and sometimes confusing ideas but his rap skills are undeniable. The flow was smooth the lyrics were there and during the mid 90's he was battling Jay-z for the top spot in the rap game and maybe if his beat selection was better things today would be different.

8. Scarface - I can say I was a little bit late to the Face party but he did for Texas what snoop did for Compton. built it, put it on his back and painted a vivid picture of the Houston lifestyle. This was all before he began to deal with Defjam and dropped several hot songs with Jay-Z and Five-Mic classic album "The Fix". He also signed Ludacris to his deal and paved the way for everyone from Young Jeezy to Rick Ross to even come up from the South.

7. Snoop - Speaking of people who represent an entire area. Snoop is the best thing to come out of the West Coast rap wise. However, he did disappear for a few years while signed to No Limit Records. He cam back and made hits but has had an uneven recording career since then. No Matter, he has had more endorsements than anyone else shilling for Pepsi and Malt Liquor companies at the same time as well as Cadillac and numerous clothing companies. Hell he also penned two of the most influential West Coast albums, or albums period in "The Chronic" and "Doggystyle".

6. Ice Cube - Cube is not my favorite rapper, I don't feel as much of his earlier stuff because it was so hard West Coast sounding but Ice Cube could be the most important figure in West Coast rap history. He wrote a bunch of the NWA records, was the first to break away and leave and dropped classic albums all while developing a political tone to his voice that artists try to copy today. His music has  helped to create everyone from Snoop to Eminem to 50 Cent just from humble beginnings. Then there is his film career which only is second among rappers to Will Smith as his hits and influence are huge.

5. LL Cool J - I know niggas not feeling Ladies Love Cool James anymore but mr. Smith has been an incredible force in hip-hop for 30 years now. He put Def Jam on his back to create it and crushed many a rapper in his day. He made his first comeback at an age where Soulja boy is still making hot garbage and created the hip-hop love song and gripped a hold of it for years. He is a solid actor and pitchman and in moderation, can make some decent music. He may not be able to muster up the ability to knock out full length discs like he used to but I wouldn't sleep too much on L.

4. Eminem - Who would have thought that this White boy from Detroit would end up being so nice. While a lot of black people pretend they can't relate to him, Em is one of the most brutally honest and real rappers that has ever existed. He doesn't rap about his riches, though he has them, he talks about his life, not the life he wishes he had or the one you wish you could have. His first three albums were very solid and showed growth that accompanied his age and time around mentor, Dr. Dre. Recently, he has started to find himself again after going through trials and tribulations with substance abuse. Buts just listen to his music and the extended similes and metaphors he uses to describe whatever it is he happens to be talking about.

3.  Tupac - Between Pac and Big could be a toss up but I'm an East Coast fan at heart so Pac falls in at 3. Pac i would credit with bringing in the "Un-lyrical" era. See Pac was able to relate to people because they felt he was saying things they would say exactly how they would say it. Now he was a poet, and an excellent editor as you can see by what bars he took from these unreleased songs that made it into finished products. That is what made him being so prolific a positive attribute. His wide range of positive and uplifting material far outweighed his sometimes controversial image and more volatile recordings.

2. Biggie - The Notorious B.I.G. has had one of the most lucrative post-humous lives ever. His life and death spawned a movie and two albums recorded well after his passing as well as the critically acclaimed double LP that he was set to release when he was shot down in LA. Biggie was the pinnacle of East Coast rap, putting Bad boy on his back and helping to create the media mogul Sean John Combs as well as being majorly influential with the current king of Hip-Hop Jay-Z. His line also includes the Queen Bee Lil' Kim, Lil' Cease, Faith Evans, and Charli Baltimore. Big has some of the most memorable verses ever put down on wax and his progression from album to album was evident.

1. Jay-Z -  Jay is quite literally the perfect rapper. He has witty lyrics, a varied flow and the ability to transform himself and show up on any type of track. He can craft solid albums and album tracks as well as make wildly successful singles. He has the longest relevant tenure of any rapper ever, so while Too Short and LL may still be around, none of them have the power in hip-hop like Shawn Carter. His every move impacts urban lifestyle from his choice of vehicle (4.0 or 4.6?) to his choice of attire and alcoholic beverage of choice. Since the end of the 90's there has been no one more successful than Jay, better than Jay lyrically, nor more consistent than Hov.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Top 55 of All Time? - Part 6

Finally, we're into the money now with the top 20. I just think I need to remind everyone that this list does include notable historical hip-hop icons such as Slick Rick, KRS-One, and Rakim just to name a few. Understanding this, there would be a lot of movement of the top 25 or so but this is how it stands here we go:

20. Cam'ron - I feel bad because I almost forgot about Killa Cam. This dude is one of those guys people love to hate because he is unapologetic and down right ignorant in his rhymes at times but you cannot deny his wordplay and skill. There is no one outside of Ghostface who has created more slang out of thin air than Cam. He also blew up the mix tape scene, created the Dip set which spawned Juelz Santana and Jim Jones. He also has had several hot albums the best of which was "Come Home With Me" but before that he was also a member of Children of the Corn with Mase and Big L. A hustler who was also a heck of a basketball player he embodies the spirit of the hustler to the fullest extent.

19. Ghostface - Speaking of creating slang, number 19 is GFK, also known as Toney Starks or Ironman is the most prolific recording artist out of any of the members of the Wu Tang Clan. He drops an album almost every year or 18 months and most of them are better than you would think though Defjam hasn't done anything to promote him in ages. His last joint was all cross over joints that he pulled off exceptionally yet still no radio. Ghist is what Meth could be if he really worked at his craft.

18. Big Pun - Pun could have been one of the greatest rappers ever bar none if hadn't faced the untimely death due to his obesity. A cautionary tale for watching your health, Pun had a monster flow, gargantuan vocabulary, and a sharp wit. He also made good songs and inspired Fat Joe to step his game up. Capital Punishment is a classic and I will call it the best alum ever from the Bronx.

17. DMX - X is one of the greats because his first three albums were so serious he has created a legion of die hard fans who wait with baited breath for the moment that he can stay out of jail an dbe able to record more of the hard hitting street lyrics that made him famous. Songs like "Stop Being Greedy" and "Damien" don't come along every day, and neither do artists with his energy and connections to his fans.

16. Busta Rhymes - Busta Buss has been around since the early 90's and has gone through a couple of different incarnations.While with Leaders of the New School he was more conscious; As a solo artist an energetic party starter who was considered fun and animated but who wasn't taken as seriously as he desired; Now Busta has undergone a more serious gangster focused changed but has continued to batter beats wherever they happen to cross his path. Though he has been through almost every major label, he has continued to record and drop gems.

15. Lil' Wayne - Weezy F. Baby has also been around since the end of the 90's though most people only really know what he has put out since he began the Carter series of albums which came on the heels of the dedication mix tapes. Wayne was always the young one with potential and he began to show it after the majority of the Cash Money label departed. Wayne can rap, he has bars and punchlines but since he began using them he has forgotten how to write an actual song and the lack of ability in doing that, and until he learns to not throw in being a Blood suddenly into every verse he won't be going any further.

14. 50 Cent - Let the controversy continue and I rank the rapper everyone loves to hate from Queens ahead of the South's great hope but there is good reason. Number one, Fif is a better rapper than he is given credit for and number two the way he decimated Murder Inc., while simultaneously building his own brand was remarkable. Also, his G-unit series mix tapes set the new standard for self-promotion and Get Rich or Die Trying is a certified classic.

13. Will Smith - Wait until they get a load of this one I thought as I wrote down this name. Let's run down Will's accomplishments musically, massive hits, "Parents Just Don't Understand", "Girls are Nothing But Trouble","Nightmare on my Street,"Boom Shake the Room", "Summertime" the official every year summer anthem. Then there is the fact his acting career makes every rapper jealous, the number one actor in the game who starred in a hit tv show and creates opportunities not only for himself but for his entire family. His pull in any industry is matched by none who started around the time he did. Hell, he even was able to make the last solid movie themes such as "Men in Black", and "Wild Wild West". His last single, "Switch" should have been a number one single and he did it with humor and wit which are all lacking from hip-hop these days. Name the last time a rapper was actually funny. You may not want to admit it, much like rocking BK's and Hammer pants, but Will Smith has definately done his thing as an artist in hip-hop.

12. Andre 3000 - This member of Outkast is undoubtedly a fire emcee. If you need a hot verse in a tight spot you could do worse than put your money on 3 stacks, formerly Andre Benjamin. Even better is the fact that he has gotten better with time. While he was never wack, you can track a steady progression that is more natural than Wayne's sudden rise. Even today, when he decides to spit, he kills everyone on whatever track he happens to decide to bless with his presence. He shows up enough to remain relevant yet is exclusive enough that his bars are an event.

11. Common - The man once known as Common Sense has a long history in hip-hop. He is Andre 3000 with more consistency and regularity. While the results when he gets around Pharrell are unfavorable and he has dropped a couple of questionable albums (Universal Mind Control and Electric Circus) he has also dropped some certified gems like Finding Forever, Be, and Resurrection.He remains politically savvy and retains his ability to be popular while still using a jazz inspired poetic delivery that is like a more refined Talib Kweli. Every time I hear a Kanye beat, I just wonder what could Common do on that. Don't think he's a punk either, just look at how he took on Ice Cube and the West Side Connection with "I see the Bitch in Yoo".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top 55 of All Time? - Part 5

We're getting to the end now and this next set is going to get us all the way to the top 20:

29. Bizzy Bone - Look a lot of people haven't followed a lot of Bizzy's work when he isn't with the rest of his Thugs-n-Harmony brothers, but they should. When listening to Bone without Bizzy, there seems to be something lacking and that's because Bixxy is the heart and soul of the group. Some people can't always catch him with his frequent fire cadence and harmonies but there is a lot of pain and messages within the solo albums of Bizz. One of the more prolific underground solo artists out now, Bizzy is definately worthy of a top 35 spot.

28. Joe Budden - Joe is my favorite current rapper, a good lyricist who can tell stories and who speaks to the personal experiences of his life with no fear. His first album was mishandled terribly but just listen to any of his ten minute long songs and you can't say he isn't spitting his heart out about whatever topic he is on. This is a bit high when you look at the album sales and impact of some of the guys behind him but this is one of those personal bias spots. He also helped move rappers into the internet era and made some classic mixtapes and carried on the freestyle mantle on Clue tapes that Fabolous once held.

27. Rick Ross -  I am no fan of the Bawse but right now he is ruling the game with an iron fist. Though his subject matter leaves something to be desired, Ross does actually know how to rap and has a nice flow. He can pick tracks and give his current fans just what they want. I can also admit he can be very descriptive with the luxury lifestyle he has come to represent to today's hip-hop listener.

26. Twista - Even the Guiness book has recognized Twista at some point. Before Kanye this was the biggest name to come outside of Chicago other than Common. His records with group the "Speed Knot Mobstaz" aren't widely known as is his stuff pre-Slow Jamz. But much like some of the regional Southern acts, Twista's impact isn't just about his lyrics, it's about holding down his area of the map when no one else was. After Slow Jamz he was able to drop 3 decent albums even with his rapid-fire flow being the main style, it doesn't really get old and he does his thing on every feature.

25. Prodigy - The Mobb Deep rap vet is over 30 places ahead of his group mate Havoc. He has been the main rapper on countless 90's era classic rap hits and had major success with Murda Muzik and his own solo debut HNIC. Though sometimes he goes over the end of a bar with his flow it always seems to come back around and work out anyway. He has also had beefs with the West Coast and Jay-z amongst others. Hav has always been respected in the gangster rap genre.

24. Fabolous - Fab has a buttery smooth rap flow and some sharp punchlines. He also has had major success with singles and airplay. Features, he kills it as well as freestyles. Albums are another story. He has never managed to put together a full collection that was worth listening to and that's always frustrating but that potential remains, much like teams that keep taking chances on Vince Carter.

23. Talib Kweli - Kweli is extremely consistent, dropping solid albums every 18 months or so. While he doesn't have the success with making singles, Talib Kweli maintains his positive subject matter and spices in the political and social commentary expected of a "backpack" rapper. While he isn't comfortable with that term he actually represents the best of what they could be considered if that is a genre of sorts.

22. Method Man - Meth is actually under rated as a lyricist. Going back to listen to his last couple albums will show some improvement but it's too little too late in his career. Early on he contributed to Def Jam dominance and helped the Wu Tang Clan take over with his perfect for the radio delivery and voice. He also had singles as well as songs that maintained the hard core rap roots of the Wu.

21. Ludacris - Luda is a beast on the mic. He is damn near untouchable when on top of his game. He is one of the few rappers at his best using a unique topic to set up a song because most drift off to other topics but Luda remains focused. So intent on proving himself, Ludacris will do a song with any rapper that the streets or anyone else considers "better". Name an artist from TI to Nas to Eminem to Jay-Z to Jeezy and he slaughtered just about all of them with nary a sweat, yet Luda still can't get respect. The 'Rodney Dangerfield' of hip-hop finally put up a dud with his last album and has tried too hard recently to leave his mark on DJ Khaled collaborations.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 55 of All Time? - Part 4

Part 4 of my series and countdown of the top 55 (56) rappers in my all time list. The last edition ended with Big Boi of the illustrious group Outkast at number 37 so let's continue.

36. Ja Rule - He is definately not the best lyricist to ever enter the game but he was the top artist from 2001 until 2003 or so until a beef with 50 Cent derailed what was a successful career. His debut album was full of ultra-solid material and his sing songy cadence made his subsequently released singles the bastion of urban radio. Those albums were also solid even though Ja never really had a bunch of lines that made you rewind the song, you never really skipped through them either.

35. T.I. - Clifford Harris started off rather weekly in the game, signed to Arista and dropping a pop targeted single that featured Beanie Man. Few of the songs on that album reflected the TI that we would come to enjoy with the release of 24's. Much like Ja Rule, Tip relies on his flow and delivery to get his point across and is ultra relatable which is why he has done so well. Lyrically there are many better artists but few have matched the ability he had to make solid songs and good albums, only time will tell if he can pick up after missing pretty much two years while being incarcerated, again.

34. The Game - Before The RED Album dropped, Game would have been lower on this list but this album showcased the potential he showed when he first entered the scene more than anything he has done to date. The best at being a national act from the left coast since Snoop, Game recent;y cut back on the name-dropping metaphors and similes and really got some good lyrics rolling. His ability to create songs wasn't just a product of the 50 Cent/Dr. Dre/Interscope machine either.

33. Black Thought - One of the most underrated in the game, Black gets over shadowed by many rappers because he is one member of The Roots, the hip-hop band that is the most well known around the world. Though many people only recognize ?uestlove, Black has held the group down on the mic for years, shining even more when performing without co-rapper Dice Raw. While the amount of material from Thought may be less than many of the others on this list, there is much more high quality and the few features he has done have all been worth it.

32. Foxy Brown - Inga Narchand aka the Ill Na Na may not have written all of her rhymes over her career but until we know who was writing the majority she will have to get credit. The West Indian princess first blew up trading bars with Jay-z before standing next to Nas and AZ in The Firm and dropping several decent albums on her own. Feisty, she still has 'beef' with fellow BK rapstress Lil Kim but it really isn't a competition when it comes to trading bars. Just listen to "Broken Silence" to hear the real Inga pour it all out on the track.

31. Redman -  The original rap about nothing guy, Reggie Noble is widely loved by smokers everywhere. Dare iz a Darkside is an Easy Coast hardcore rap classic and the Sooperman Luva Series is epic. An unofficial member of the Wu, Redman might be the most unlikely of all rappers to have had a movie and television show which he co-starred in with Method Man. That should let you know how popular he is even though he may not have the most recognizable catalog. Some know him, some don't but just seeing his energy brings back some serious 90's memories.

30. Mos Def - Mos is one of the most eclectic artists ever. He can play guitar sing a little bit and can be a brilliant actor along with a serious activist. He is another in a line of guys with great potential as a rapper if they would just take the time to concentrate and do it. It's hard to tell a talented guy to stick to one thing just because you would love to see him excel at it but that's just what it is with Mos. Thus everything he does is appreciated that much more.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Iggy Azalea

So I was looking at one of my ignant blogs and I ran across an artist by the name of Iggy Azalea and honestly I'm torn on this one. First it's not really my kind of music, now she isn't a bad rapper but she isn't good and from what I see she's just a gimmick. but here- check these out now:

Now this last video is her single from what I gather and this West Coast artist has potential but too much of the established bs is going on with her already for me to support it. First her crew/label is called D.R.U.G.S. and while I don't know what that stands for, it's a lame attempt to be hood-fessional.  The other thing is the kids in the video doesn't make sense nor is it even cool.

Now this could be sold but she doesn't quite pull off the sexy look completely. In the video her stare looks blank and you can see she was tired of being in the sun. I think there will be some sort of future for this chick if she can be promoted well and develop a personality and continue to smooth out her delivery. It's all about growth and not falling into the same old cliches that are starting to show themselves.

Top 55 of all Time? - Part 3

I stopped off with an odd number because having like 11 or 12 posts for this might be a tad much suspense but I'm back with part 3 of the countdown.

43. Eve -  The pitbull in a skirt blew onto the scene with Ruff Ryders and threw down the female rap gauntlet. The last in the golden era for female rappers, Eve's first album was pretty good and the subsequent two solid but not great. She had the ability to make solid songs and hold her own up against the heavyweight guys of the double R camp. However she hasn't released any music in years and she could have because she was pretty good when she was on her game.

42. Lupe Fiasco - Lupe was highly anticipated coming out but he is signed to Atlantic Records aka the worst label for Rappers in history. When they're not pushing albums back, they're doing the worst marketing plans ever. That is neither here nor there now, because Lupe is generally well above average as a rapper and pretty good as a song writer. However sometimes he tries too hard to be that guy and loses a lot of followers in the explanation. He also is an attention whore and goes about it in the manner of Kanye but he isn't important enough to pull it off which negates what could be a really good amount of influence in the game.

41. Fat Joe - Joe Crack was pretty nice in the 90's when he first came out. Then Big Pun died, Joe moved to Miami and became a new artist to some and redundant to me. Joe is solid and has a decent catalog and an ability to make hits, pick beats and make street bangers. But when you've been in the game this long you should show some growth at some point, instead he faded out lyrically like 5 years ago and hasn't done anything worth noting other than try and beef with 50 Cent.

40. Raekwon - The Chef has had some lyrical darts in the past. The purple tape is a top 5 rap album of all time and Immobilarity, was underrated and under appreciated at its time. Since then Rae has had trouble conjuring up that same magic in Cuban Linx 2 and more independent solo and Wu Tang drops. He still can trade sharp barbs but his style has gotten a bit stale with time.

39. Lloyd Banks - Banks is a beast. His freestyles are on point and his first album is what Fabolous should have done the first time around. He has punchlines, a decent flow but his voice sometimes sounds strained. He is also probably the hardest worker in G-Unit, constantly putting out projects though before last year, he seemed to be done. He has come back and hit us more focused than ever and seems to be actually working at it now. Banks is one dude whom you could listen to spitting hundreds of bars.

38. Beanie Sigel - Even though Sigel pissed me off when he said he felt sorry for those who worked for rap because it was so easy for him, I couldn't help but bump his first album. It was true street hop from beginning to end with the exception of the lead single which wasn't even him, it was Jay-Z. Other than that Beans has shown an ability to paint vivid pictures of the street life he hasn't been able to escape. Jail time robbed him of time during the mid 2000's transition period which he sorely needed to continue his momentum. His collaborations with Jay-z and Scarface are hip-hop masterpieces of emotion, lyricism and rawness. He was the pit bull for the Roc as evidenced by his attacks on both Jadakiss and Nas when they went at Jay-Z. Too bad he wasn't able to turn his jail time into anything remotely as introspective as his first two albums.

37. Big Boi -  Sometimes the forgotten member of Outkast, Big Boi aka Daddy Fat Saxx was more of the stronger member of the group at first. While he is solid and better than a lot of rappers, standing next to Amdre 3 stacks can make many a MC seem stale. However if you listen closely, he often has some good things in his verses. Sometimes it's the speed of the flow while other times its the fact he is more talking about street life with a larger perspective than the more common trap rappers today he still gets slept on. Hopefully he can stop reaching when being featured on the newest generations songs and remain in his own persona which he does extremely well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top 55 of All Time? - Part 2

So in part two, I will continue counting down but let me also clue you in as to why some of your afvorite current rappers aren't in this countdown. I know someone is going to say Drake is better than Mase, why isn't he on the list? The reason is simple, he hasn't done nearly enough to prove himself to me as a critic and a fan. One half assed album does not get you onto the top 55 for me. My intent is to have people with a track record and blend both their lyrical ability, song writing capabilities, and impact and influence which with some is going to be greater than others. So no Nicki Minaj won't be on here though i would rank her higher than Drake, neother will Big Sean, Ace Hood, or a lot of these other new cats you all seem to think are nice.

50. Jadakiss - He may keep calling himself top 5 but for me Kiss is lucky as hell to even still make the list. If he talks about his coke that needs to be weighed on whale scales I'm going to throw up. He also has a monotone delivery that masquerades as a trademark flow and boring punchlines and a boring demeaner when delivering them. More of Jeezy in his prime which was right around All About the Benjamins dropped, Kiss hasn't done anything impressive in years. When you routinely get outshined by the likes of Fat Joe and everyone else on DJ Khaled remixes I can't deal with you. Hell when Wacka and Ace Hood are outshining you, it might be time to hang it up.

49. Nelly - The St. Lunatic is definately not the illest lyricist but on occasion he is able to spit out some funny lines like on "Hot in Herre". Nelly's biggest thing is the fact that he can make a hit song without trying but it's his album fillers that fall way off. Unforutnately, he took time off and things just haven't been the same since, although listening to his last album, the same song writing abilities do remain.

48. Big L- Leonard Coleman is the first of my early 90's not well-known outside of a certain circle guys I have on the list. Hinestly, I would have ranked L higher if he had more time to record but he was killed before he got a real chance to shine. his NY contributions and influence put him on my list because if you listen to Jay-z back in the day and Big L you would wonder who was who. "Ebonics" and the "98 Freestyle" were two of the shining examples of Big L's wit and ability and also the beginning of the change for Young Hova that we know today. He also was at the time the best guy in Chilren of the Corn, a group that also included Mase, McGruff, and Cam'ron.

47. AZ - AZ is an old school kind of cat whom is slightly slept on but some of that is because of his own doing. He has a superb flow and that NY smooth gangster mentality style that was appealing in the early to mid 90's. One quarter of the Firm which also included Nas, Foxy Brown, and Nature, AZ has put out several solid albums but has never had a song that was as big as Sugar Hill. The knock I would have on Sosa, is that he sacrifices content and lyricism for flow sometimes in an effort to maintain what he is known for. Then at the times he is trying something different, it doesn't always work out for him.

46. Sheek Louch - The most unheralded member of The Lox, Sheek is also the most apt to have you scratching your head at his lines sometimes. However, I also find he is the most well rounded and creative with his bars. He also seems to be more authentic and less concerned with cultivating and keeping a certain image when compared with Styles and Kiss. My favorite Sheek line "You Like watermelons, big but crack easy"

45.  Cassidy - I don't know why this guy hasn't gone farther than this but Cassidy could have easily been a top rapper in the game. Maybe it was failed leadership by Swizz Beats but this dude always has hot singles and decent songs on his album. Sometimes he gets too punchline happy, but it happens, and most of the time he maintains a good balance between making songs and just straight rapping, much better than that of Wayne. Now he seems like his personality sucks but that isn't my problem, thats his. Right now he is facing another murder trial so his career is probably done but his three albums are solid listens if you haven't heard them. Oh yeah, and he made Freeway say "put on a beat". One of the funniest moments in Battle history.

44. Royce da 5'9 - I've heard more from Royce in the past two and a half years than in the previous 5 and it has been very uneven. Royce's first album got killed in label purgatory but he has come on as of late. A street rapper with serious lyrics, he can get too caught up now in showing he really is as nice as Eminem. At his best, he throws out some quality metaphors with a flow that is decent enough to catch, at his worst, he is a better than average Eminem clone who tries to stuff too much into every bar. If he could really find that balance and get a consistent set of songs he could be on the rocket ship to stardom since he and Em are back together, opening up new avenues for him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Luke has advice for Wayne, Drake and Ross....

So some of you who commonly peruse hip-hop blogs have probably read up about this by now. Of course, any comment that has Wayne or Drake's name in it is going to make a big splash. This tidbit I received courtesy of Mocradio.com and some excerpts from an interview they had posted. Here are the relevant quotes:

“H*ll, Forbes magazine just named Hova the highest-earning rap star. Others on the list include P. Diddy, Kanye, Lil Wayne, and Eminem, another guy I think is right up there with Jay-Z. Eminem raps his a** off on every album he’s put out,” Luke said in a blog posting. “In fact, aside from Jay-Z and Eminem, there are very few hip-hop artists who can really claim the title. In the ’90s, you knew Tupac and Biggie Smalls were the absolute best in the game. Those guys dropped verse after verse without their buddies rapping on their tracks. Nowadays you have too many hip-hop male performers doing collaborations with guest rappers. A Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, or Drake album will almost always have some other artist showing up to rap every five minutes.” (Miami New Times)

“Carol City native Ross has certainly evolved into a h*lluva lyricist. But he needs to do a song on his own that will stand the test of time like Biggie’s “Juicy” or Tupac’s “Dear Mama.” The same can be said of Lil Wayne and Drake. I’d like to hear those two cats produce an album without a guest appearing on songs,” Luke added. “Don’t get me wrong — Lil Wayne’s lyrics are out of this world. But you can’t just do one verse per song and then call yourself the greatest. That’s bullsh*t…If Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, and Drake want to take that title from Jay-Z and Eminem, they need to carry albums on their own.” (Miami New Times)
Luke makes some good points with his statements. The majority of classic albums have very few features and have artists totally exposing themselves in some way and totally zoning out making songs that all come together with another to tell a complete picture. A recent example of this is the focused effort Ace Hood just released. While it isn't a classic album, he held it down mostly by himself and really put in the effort. None of these top three artists right now have managed to make a full album that resonates truly into the souls of listeners. 
The other main issue is a lack of focus on songs and progression on a track when you're only doing one verse or maybe two, especially when the song isn't about anything at all. Drake for the most part kept his album to himself however nothing really was about him on the effort, the songs were all impersonal and general whinery about being famous. To be honest features can be good but when used judiciously like seasoning on food, not poured all over everything all of the time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Top 55 of all time? - Part 1

So NC-17 wants me to post my top ten Dead or Alive rappers so he can pick at my list with a stick and drive my blood pressure up. Hard to believe I haven't done anything like this in these years I've been doing this blog. So before I get into what is actually going to be a top 55 breakdown from my perspective, I probably need to give a clue as to how I'm coming about with my selections.

First of all these are artists whom I feel have an influence on me and how I perceive hip-hop to this day, so while there are people like Slick Rick, KRS-One and Rakim who are hip-hop Gods, in my own personal hip-hop growth, they did not play as large a role in defining what I like listen to and think about when I listen to rap music. If you're going to be mad because no list can not include Big Daddy Kane or Kool G. Rap then leave right now because they aren't on here because while doing this ranking I felt like I was shorting them in placement however, at the same time I couldn't find myself being able to defend moving them up the list because they just don't resonate the same with me. That was important, that every opinion I put up, I can back up and feel confident about it. For someone of my generation, I feel like in general the top 10 should not change drastically unless there is someone who is a big fan of some of the aforementioned guys like Slick Rick or Kane who would bump someone down. Without further adieu, let's get started.

56. Havoc- The "lesser" half of Mobb Deep is more known for his production than his lyrical ability. While he isn't the sharpest of lyricists Havoc does provide solid bars with no highs or lows. I could never in many a year come up with a Havoc quotable but yet his is still better than both halves of CNN so he deserves some mention, albeit at the back of the list.

55. Young Jeezy- The Snowman is not a lyricist at all, but he did bring his own brand of street rap to the game and open a door of sorts for plenty of other Atlanta rappers to bring out their trap star lyrics and get some shine. The good thing about the snow man is that he does mix in attempts to be political as well and carry on the mantle of the likes of Ice Cube and bridge the line of street savvy and political. In rap, Jeezy is more known for his gravelly voice and ad-libs than any actual verses.

54. Ol' Dirty Bastard- Ol' dirt Dog was extra influential if for nothing else than his outlandish behavior. Fromtaking mTV to pick up food stamps to embarassing Carson Daly, Dirty did his thing all the while performing with the likes of Mariah Carey. Lyrically dirt just said a lot, and I mean a lot of stuff but he made the most out of his outlandish statements. Bars were probably the best overall on his post-humous release as opposed to what he did while alive. Memorable, but not overall the most lyrical.

53. Xzibit- A surprise for some because Mr. X to the Z was one of the hotter artists from the West Coast for about a three year period. He also starred on Pimp My Ride courtesy of some of the best management in the business but his short term impact was pretty decent. More of a straight up lyricist, his debut album had a gem in the single "Papparazzi". X also benefited from underground respect and ended up affiliated with Dr. Dre for the height of his career and dropped songs like "What you see is what you Get" and "DNA". Many people slept on X and thus his overall impact has him this far down on the list but if this was just on lyrics and ability to spit I would have him higher as "best" but he is still one of my personal favorite artists to listen to.

52. Trick Daddy - You might think I'm digging here but Trick always put out some solid albums with decent singles and good lyrics. He was an admitted thug yet he still loved the kids. He's sort of like a more country and ghetto version of Jeezy. In fact his popularity opened the door for the rest of the Miami movement which includes Ross and Khaled. Unfortunately, he has been left behind by the movement but I still respect the music he has put out.

51. Mase- Yes Murder Mason Betha and Pastor Mase is number 50. He put out three album two of which were mediocre or below but the flow was there and the singles ability remained strong because "Breathe, Stretch, Shake" was indeed hot fire. His first album packed from front to back with bangers and his smooth flow was the stuff of legends. His early freestyles on Clue tapes were crazy and the buzz before his album dropped was like Drake's was. Mase is my number 50.

Friday, September 9, 2011

When I was Seventeen- that year in hiphop

So i blogged about how the MTV show "When I was 17" panders too much to the younger generation by having artists who haven't accomplished much and who aren't much older than their listeners. I don't think it brings anything to the culture to hear from someone your same age who remembers the same things you do in the same way with little time between to even reflect on it. Hell, the artists I came up with my age I don't need to hear from really because I was there. I heard the same songs and already get it, unless they have some truly different realization that has happened since that time period which would bring a new understanding to their situation.

While writing I needed to look at see what songs and artists were popping when I was 17 to really be able to compare. Yes, my age is going to have something to do with my perception, however, the game was much stronger in 1999 when I was 17 even though there were more major studio releases. There was also much more quality control and there weren't as many random people with dsl and youtube accounts building some random name for themselves and not having as much content or skill but just using social media to make themselves. This was a time when a mix tape was actually that.

Let's look at the albums from that year that I remember being in heavy rotation:

Ja Rule's first album wasn't the biggest in terms of singles but it did establish him and got him started on a huge run that lasted until late 2003/2004 when he was the "Lil wayne" of that era.

Bleek was the next coming if only he could have developed. He had the Def jam Roc-a-fella machine behind him and had hell of energy. This video is so 90's big baggy jeans, chicks not really dancing and not strippers at that!

This album was such fire that people started asking if the Mobb had gone commercial. Maybe it was the Hype Williams directed video or maybe the fact that you could not deny the classics on this album. With music like this why would I ever listen to Plies or even a new Fat Joe record?

Feeling more neo-soul. Mos Def dropped his gem of a first solo album and unfortunately has been much less consistent since then.

Also in 1999 The Slim Shady LP, Terror Squad ( one of the most underrated albums ever), Pharoahe Monch. Nas dropped two albums Iam... Nastradamus which were at the height of his hip-hop "battle" with Jay-z for the defacto number 1 slot, who released Vol.3 the life and times, and the long awaited Chronic 2001 from Dr. Dre. I would put 1999 against any year ever in terms of quality hip-hop that was released.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Involvement- Get Some

Now I have posted several times about how today's hip-hop artists are bullshit when it comes to what they do in the community. They can talk about how they want to inspire, even complain about Barack Obama yet all I see is video at the strip club or popping bottles in the wood paneled studio with blunts being passed around but very rarely do you see them doing anything remotely positive.

Now a lot of people hate 50 Cent and think he's just a bully or attention whore - well most rappers are the latter- but Fifty is putting some of his money where his mouth is with his new movement. While I am going to say he could probably get to his goal on his own, at least he is going forward with a plan to actually make an impact and do something.

Hopefully the website will indeed be more than just a holding page in the near future to help and promote this effort. I also would love to see some of his contemporaries either start or contribute to this goal of feeding 1 billion kids or just do something and make it public. Let everyone know that we all can do something to help and make things better for someone else

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When I was 17....

So I'm checking out this When I was 17 from MTV where you have artists talking about what happened to them at the age of 17. For me I am watching three people who aren't even stars at this point is the first problem I have with this show. These three in this episode haven't done anything in the game to make themselves stand out. Watching this also gets me irritated because it affirms what I have seen from these artists in their short time in any sort of celebrity light: Tyler the Creator is a jackass who just wants attention; Big Sean some dude who doesn't have a personality, just an average dude trying to live off of high school fame; and Kreayshawn is the realest one but even she doesn't have any real reason for her assholery.

I would like to see MTV stop just catering to young people and do more to give some history and backstory to them about hip-hop in general if they're going to do this. Have Nelly on there with Tyler and throw in someone who was a minor player like Nicole Wray or something. The point is when you're doing something like this you need to tie it in with the past. for someone to say "A Milli" was their inspiration in high school is crazy, it's not history it's not a throwback, it was freaking 2009!

Part of the biggest issue I see with hip-hop and it's growth or lack thereof is shows like this. Too many outlets pander to the younger demographic and don't showcase the progression of hip-hop the same way they do with rock groups. You can still hear young rock fans talk about the Stones or Hendricks or what they all brought to the game. In hip-hop no one cares that Lil Kim was the first Barbie, they just know Nicki is hot now.

When I was 17 Ruff Ryders Volume 1 came out and getting it a day early was some hot shit. Guerilla Warfare also dropped and it was the real golden time for the original Cash Money and DMX dropped his second album of the year in December. Hell Eve, Foxy Brown, and Charli Baltimore dropped albums and Eminem dropped the Slim Shady LP. That was some shit at 17 when you talk about being influenced. This leads me back to the MTV episode, it's not a bad show, but to have it based around people who haven't done anything  yet reinforces this "I'm special because I say so" attitude too many young people have today. You want to be special, make something out of yourself but I'm not patting you on the back just for existing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Worst line from The Carter IV

So I found another post through various sources about the Carter IV, but more specifically the 60 worst individual lines on the album. Since a lot of dudes like Wayne now this is a pretty good assessment of what he has been doing in the past few years. See a lot of people tell me I should like Wayne because they say I like lyrics-which is true, but the problem that I have always had with Wayne is his lack of context. With almost any other artist who just put out an album you wouldn't be able to just pick out 60 random bars because so many of them are interconnected. Wayne on the other hand, is at the forefront of a generation that says any and everything with no unifying theme.

If you look at my album review of the Carter IV and get to the summary at the end it would be evident about how I feel. Lyricism doesn't mean going punchline after punchline with nothing to bring them together, if that were the case, Canibus and Cassidy might be two of the best rappers of all time. Hell the Grind Time battle rappers would all be millionaires by now, but that's not the case, you have to be able to make a song. Even worse, there is the fact that when Wayne does have a hot line or two, he has sprinkled so much garbage around it, you can no longer appreciate what he did previously. In "6'7" the line that had everyone talking was:

"Real G's move in silence like lasagna." 

While that one line gets some excited (while others debate over whether or not the 'g' is actually  silent) there are plenty others that are just extra simple or just plain out right wack.

"Swagger down pat/ Call my shit Patricia" (From "6 Foot 7 Foot")
"Weezy F. Baby/ And the 'F' ain't for fear" (From: "Nightmares Of The Bottom")
"You don't want to start Weezy/ Cause the 'F' is for finisher" (From "6 Foot 7 Foot")
"Weezy F./ For 'Fuck you'" (From "How To Hate")
"The 'F' is for 'Fuck yourself'" (From: "Nightmares Of The Bottom")

"You faker than some titties/You get titty-fucked" (From "Intro")
 "Eat her 'til she cry/ Call that wine and dine" (From "She Will")
 "Just sit on my grill/ That's that tailgate for ya" (From "So Special")
 "I make her come first/ Then I follow the leader" (From "So Special")
 "Been fuckin the world/ And nigga I ain't come yet" (From "John")
 "I tried to fuck the world/ And couldn't even get aroused" (From "President Carter")
Aside from just being flat out lame at times, he also covers too many of the same things over and over again. Look how many times he talks about wanting to "fuck the world" and he does it on multiple songs on the same album which take away the meaning. Look I;m all with the punchlines, some of my favorite artists use them but they put them into context.
If you have never heard Joell Ortiz you need to. Look at Eminem's style where he stretches out one third of his verse with similes to describe one singular item. Take for example Ludacris where he will take one theme and hold it for an entire song. A lot of the newer generation considers that too simple, but it's much harder than it looks to keep a song compelling than it is to just randomly spout off on different topics in between.

I don't know if it's all the syrup or the fact he records too much for his own good but it seems as though Wayne is on the other side of that hill that resides at the top of the game. Starting with the ill-advised rock album until now there has been a gathering of momentum that he isnt really that nice and it's only a matter of time before Baby, Gudda-Gudda and everyone not named Nicki Minaj on Young Money will be in trouble.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Album Review- The Cool Kids- When Fish Ride Bicycles

I'm a fan of the sound the Cool Kids have, but I must admit most of their songs aren't about anything. Unlike most rappers today though they have an identifying sound that you can rock to. Their outlandish style is a throwback to the days of Redman and the Def Squad.

The album starts off in the normal Cool Kid fashion with some serious throwback bass beats made for the old school whips with big boxes in the back on both "Rush Hour Traffic" and "GMC's". The flows remain tight and they actual flip their words better than before while sticking mostly to the topics of whips and how the music is going to bump in them. The duo attempts a different sound vocally on "Freak City" with mixed results. The single that was released a while back is the head knocking "Bundle Up"

"Sour Apples" features Travis Barker as a return for them being on his album but the track isn't as good. "Boomin" featuring Tenneville has a weird funk/ late 90's feel to it and it fits with TCK but it probably won't be widely received positively. Fittingly, Ghostface is the featured guest on "Penny Hardaway" which has no subject to speak of but the bars are plenty decent and the beat isn't the best or the worst. Bun B gets "Gas Station" started off on a good foot with the simple part of the beat before the hook comes in and takes the song to another level. on "Swimsuits" the kids hop on something that sounds different and speed up their flow. The hook is handled by "Mayer Hawthorne" and could be a song that works on top 40 radio if given the chance. The crew track "Roll Call" features Asher Roth Boldly James and is some true underground shit. the final song on the lp is "Summer Jam" with Maxine Ashley and is merely alright.

I'm not a fan of "Get Right" as it conjures a not so fond retro memory. "Flying Kites" is about smoking weed of course and the beat is once again a little weird possibly but the song still works. "Talk of the Town" is rambling over a slow beat and doesn't do too many favors for the group as they tell a story of coming up.

Overall the Cool Kids are a decent little group but they will never be considered the best. They're like a hipster "Mobb Deep" for the new generation. At times their own peculiar sound works very well but some of the attempts to step out of that box don't come off so well. "Talk of the Town" could have been better but the all over the place delivery makes things hard to follow. The beats overall bang for the most part especially at the beginning with the heavy bass lines. Check it out if you have the time.

Rating: 2.5/5