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Monday, February 27, 2012

Album Review- Maino - The Day After Tomorrow

So Maino is one of the harder artists to really judge because looking at him he lacks the obvious rap skills to be a success. However, he makes up for that with reality and passion but also has the negative of being from New York at a time when only Southern rappers who have the same style can get exposure. His first album was a moderate success and this one was pushed back some but the next day has come so here is my album review for Maino- The Day After Tomorrow.

The album starts at an ending of the last album as Maino talks over the intro expressing that though he has finally made it, he isn't quite satisfied yet. This leads into "Never Gon' Stop" where Maino raps about trying to get to the next level of success. Part of this is about how his past could bring him down or his lack of typical rap skills, along with the trappings of finally seeing some success. "Nino Brown" has a nice mature track backing Maino as he talks about feeling bigger than the fictional character from New Jack City who has become the black version of the Godfather. However, the hook kind of drags and Maino cops out at the end of the second and third verses like he was in a hurry to get the song over with. Meanwhile "Need a Way Out" with Mista Raja is a throwback to before he was ever on. The beat builds nicely but the chorus could have done something to be more different.

"Unstoppable" channels the feeling of "All the Above" as Maino once again talks about pushing forward despite his shortcomings. The hook and everything works well but it sounds like more of the same. "Cream" features T.I. and Meek Millz as they rap about being about their money and this is one of the songs where Maino's lyrical deficiencies shows up more prominently. "Let It Fly" is a boring Roscoe Dash hooked composition that does nothing more than fill in on some Southern rap quota. The lead single is "That Could Be Us" featuring Robbie Novoa and is a solid quality spring single that should see some spins. "Make that Money" is another generic track that fits the normal album filler mode.

"Heart Stop" sounds like an attempt at radio smash channeling a Rihanna/Nicki Minaj-esque singer as Maino talks about the trappings of his success which include missing time with his son in order to provide for him. "Heaven For A G" isn't the best attempt at another oft-used concept by reality rappers, while "Messiah" has Maino talking about how he is trying to contribute and 'save' hip-hop, unfortunately he tries to stretch out his two and a half verses and falls short of really representing what he is best at; authenticity and realness in hip-hop. "Glad to Be Alive" is a chance for Maino to show is is thankful for being in his position now. "Day After Tomorrow" is more of the same as he tries to expound on his feelings now and the changes that went on in his life.

I will always support Maino however, on this album he tries too often to channel the success and same feeling of "All The Above" with varying amounts of success. He also doesn't reach too far into the emotional bag on this one. I enjoy hearing him talk about how his life could be but I would have liked to have seen a bigger contrast between the depths of his previous life, the trials of his current one, and more elation at the fact he is by all means successful. He shows he can pick tracks and the album is cohesive but it is too one dimensional and by the third play-through it became slightly tiresome.

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Most disappointing rappers of all time

While having a top 10 discussion on facebook and one of the statements of course involved Canibus when LL was brought up. Canibus was one of the nicest dudes to every put lyric to mic however, he is one of the most disappointing because he didn't have anything close to a career. But that led me to think who are the biggest letdowns when it comes to rappers.

1. Jadakiss- a lot of people have Jada in their top lists, not I. Kiss has one of the best rap voices and all of the ability, however, his flow is completely lazy, and his lyrics have taken steps back since he was first coming out in the game. His subject matter hasn't grown up and with all of the fan support he has been able to get he should have been the ascension to the top behind Jay-z for New York rappers. But he didn't.

2. Fabolous - If it wasn't Kiss, it should have been Fab who has the buttery smooth delivery and simple yet witty ability to make real punchlines and fit in on each and every track. While he stars on guest appearances and can spit some heat on "freestyles" his songs have never been the best nor has he ever really shared his personality on the track.

This is a song people seem to like...I'm not sure why.

3. Cassidy - If not those two, Cassidy should have been a top artist in hip-hop. Cassidy had lyrics in buckets, a battle pedigree, video embarassing another mainstream artist, big name production backing and the ability to make some hit singles and get respect, yet it never worked. Maybe it was his propensity for talking greasy while looking like a cabbage patch kid, or the actual murder trial he faced, or the accident he came back from...wait a minute that's all the stuff rappers talk about and make it. At this point I just think it must be his attitude or something because he shouldn't be on the back of a milk carton.

4. Memphis Bleek - If you had the backing of Jay-z and were the first other person on Roc-a-fella you would have expected to be huge. In decoded, Jay tells of part of Bleeks problem, a lack of work ethic after the release of Coming of Age. Bleek was never going to be the best lyrically, but he could have gotten better like lil wayne did over time but didn't. The failure of "Round Here" to take him to the next level marked the end of the road for the hungry BK rapper.

5. Canibis - Canibis is more frustrating because he couldn't even put together one complete record. It didn't even have to sell, it just had to be solid and make sense. Unfortunately, bis packed a bunch of stuff onto his first album and had most people with the "wtf" face. Following that he decided to attack Eminem and by the second song he made from Stans perspective, the WTF face had returned.

6. Obie Trice - A lot of people weren't checking for Obie because of his first single - which i found a little different and humorous- and his affiliation with Eminem. However, the first album was serious and full of solid material for both the streets and the radio. Unfortunately, he didn't gain any momentum from it and his second album was a major disappointment and soon after he was dropped with the rest of the Shady roster.

7. Young Buck - This isn't all of his fault because 50 did submerge him for getting to high off the hog ealry and falling victim to the fame. Straight out of Cashville was a very good album from start to finish and had a good mix of being southern with some northern influences, good singles and solid content. He also stood out on the G-Unit album, but unfortunately, things outside of music brought him down, from taxes to label issues. I still would like to see Buck put together one more solid effort and not just a street mixtape about selling dope.

8. Ma$e - When Big died, Mase assumed the mantle as the artist on Bad Boy. The Lox were embroiled in drama and Mase who had been making noise since he was in Children of the Corn with Cam'ron and Big L dropped Harlem World, ushering in the era of bling. He had mostly hollow content but his flow and bars combined with Puff's direction had people thinking that Bad Boy would never be stopped. However Double up was certified garbage can lid and then mase left to join the church. No problem, but then he came back and while he had a decent couple of clean songs on "Welcome Back" we were left hopeful- at least I was, for a decent rapper with music i could listen to with kids in the car. Finding failure in that, Mase tried to hook up with 50 and revive his murder persona which failed miserably and Betha once again disappeared.

9. Rah Digga - I'm digging in the crates for this one, Dirty Harriet was the only female member of the Flipmode squad and the bets artist other than Busta Rhymes, and it was by a wide margin. She had some real lyrics and punchlines and should have had some better singles and opportunities looking at who she was affiliated with and the strong base support that she had. The bad thing, Busta managed her career to a large extent and she never had a stable label situation to build from and quickly fell out of the mainstream before pulling back from the industry altogether.

10. Mos Def - Mos is always one of those guys I am going to listen for because he has content, he also has ability. He just doesn't have consistency or will it seems to just settle in and make a good album. His ealry work was sparkling if a little rough around the edges but it was fine, however as the acclaim grew and the people clamored for more, he has failed to deliver, putting out half-hearted efforts and just doing too much experimentation and not enough of what was destined to make him a stellar mc.

like lyrics on point but delivery is wtf....

Who is on your most disappointing rapper team?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Breezy, Bobby and Linsanity

February always sucks for hip-hop but since the album is a dying form, things are getting worse so I guess there will be more singles and mix tape reviews and hopefully much more of the social commentary related to the hip-hop world where it is relevant and hopefully to make you think.

So first let's talk about the Grammy's. Good show usual Grammy quality and mass confusion over the Nicki Minaj performance...who is running her career right now? Baby? That song was worse than Stupid Hoe and premiering it at that type of event was a terrible idea, all of the imagery aside was a totally bad move. The idea you're going to be as shocking as Lady Gaga is dumb because it has been done, be yourself. Then her first single "Starship" is unimaginative and boring but it might pick up since it does fit the mold.

Related to the Grammy's is Chris Brown still acting like a whiney little girl again. This is the reason i'm no longer a C. Breezy supporter, for every step he takes forward, he takes two back. Look dog, some people are going to always give you grief for hitting a woman, that's how it is. Rihanna can get back with you all she wants, what happened happened and you have to live with it, unfortunately, just when someone pushes that button which is the barometer of how you have grown or not, you prove that you haven't by responding negatively. If he had ignored the tweets-which shouldn't be that hard, you are a man after all- he would have earned points. But the fact is he didn't and continues to act like a petulant toddler. CM Punk sums it up perfectly.


In other Grammy news Whitney Houston is gone and the world is sad...maybe a little too sad. There are a lot of phoney people because no one was looking out for Whitney over the past decade or so. She is by far the greatest pop singer of all time and no one will ever be able to take that away from her, her legacy will remain for that always. However, I will not be a person who pretends as if the unfortunate things that happened in her life did not occur, because they did and it is even more important to use that as a lesson and grow from it. Whitney used drugs, they destroyed her golden voice and reputation, those are the facts just as the platinum records and great songs are.

One of the things I liked about Whitney was that she was always supportive of Bobby Brown and never really threw him under the bus to a huge extent as she could have done when they separated. Her family on the other hand, was not such. For such a group of "Christians" they seemed to be needling and trying to push his buttons in an effort to make him feel and look bad. Dude has his share of problems but many icons like him have had them, just look at Mike Tyson, another guy who was taken advantage of because of a lack of knowledge and an abundance of talent.

The final thing I'll address is the Jeremy Lin insanity that as taken over. Dude came out of nowhere to become a sensation and possible star for the Knicks who were in need of a spark. Unfortunately, within the discourse about him and his play there was an incident where a headline was taken out of context and someone was fired over alleged racism. After arguing with people about the absurdity of being so upset about this over the weekend, I was able to catch the replay of Stephen A. Smith on First Take who echoed my sentiments more appropriately than I could have so I will allow this to take over for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

I've brought this up before because I truthfully believe we are becoming too sensitive about every single thing so any small thing becomes a huge issue because no one is willing to back down off of the ledge of ridiculousness once they get up there. Everything isn't racist, some things just are what they are and maybe you should just err on the side of chilling out rather than spazz out and we could actually make some progress.

Monday, February 6, 2012

M.I. A-hole?

So I'm late on this slightly because I didn't really see the initial incident while watching the Superbowl. All I noticed was the seconds late blurring by the production crew then the backlash on the news this morning. Now of course, just as I didn't think Janet's nipple was a big deal, I don't really think this was one either for the most part but there are small things that lend themselves to larger issues that i take exception to. I understand MIA is supposedly a rebel and represents the counter-culture of the moment, but her actions were reckless, selfish, and foolish.

The Super bowl half time show has never been a ground breaking event but it does serve as a sort of lifetime achievement award. The most memorable one to me was of course Micahel Jackson at the Rose Bowl. Side note- look at the stadium, no suites just regular seats with everyone together.

Honestly, since the Janet Jackson fiasco, there was a concerted effort by the NFL to tone down the performances, going with classics like Springsteen and Prince. Last year the Black Eyed Peas were able to get the gig and incorporate Usher bringing some younger flavor to the show but it was still very tame which it should be, it's the Super Bowl not an HBO special or club date designed to push the envelope. This year Madonna who has a new album coming out got the nod and put on a decent show, involving Cee-Lo, Nicki Minaj and the aforementioned MIA. Unfortunately, being as though there were three people of color on stage who all represent the same younger generations and style of music. For many people watching MIA represents hip-hop. What her actions did was prove what many people already thought about the hip-hop community, that it is ignorant. When you wonder why newer more exciting artists aren't doing half time look at MIA.

Now another perspective being overlooked is the poor people who work in the production booth who work for months on the half time show and now will be remembered for this one stunt. It isn't fair to them nor any of the other people who worked and prepared for this to have their memory marred by this woman's selfish act.

Look, I don't get MIA and don't particularly like her music or her style and this doesn't help a person like me gravitate towards her or even want to understand her. For her, what was the point of the middle finger? Why would she betray the trust of Madonna and the people who watched her practice? What is the context of this nonsense? Moreover what is it you don't give a shit about and why is that cool? That may the bigger issue for me, how many people agree with her and just no longer care or give a damn. Why is that the new generations attitude? Things are bigger than just you and your little ego. The world is much larger than you are.

Look political messages should be made. You should stand for things but there is a time and a place and I find that too many people today look at themselves and feel that any and everywhere is the time to make a stand. Kanye has done it twice and both times though I find him personally wrong, I was more bothered by the setting and place in which he did make his statements. The way I see it, a whole generation of people are busy feeling that they are important enough to make any wild statement and have the public run with it. Build your respectability by having a strong simple and well-thought out message. After doing that, just be smart about when you're going to promote your agenda and make a statement.

I'm not saying I have to agree with everyone but at least be able to support your position and be smart about it. Just talking for the sake of talking isn't a good idea. Be aware and use your head. They say any attention is good attention however I have to disagree because I won't ever support this young lady ever myself and she won't even get the chance to earn that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

if Nas was a 90's baby

A Message from NC-17

Hip Hop isn’t dead, it’s just outgrown the crib rap purist wanted to chain it to. Rap music is our music. It’s the struggle of the Black American, the rise to fame, or the play by play of the parties thrown. Brothers and Sisters gave way to Niggas and Bitches. Fight to power gave way to Tear Da Club Up. It’s evolved but it’s not that different from where it started. Rap was created less than 15 years after Dr. King was assassinated, of course there were an equal amount of political messages as there were BBQ in the park records. But It’s 2012 and the civil rights movement isn’t as fresh so we’re not going to have that balance between “party” and “political”. Most Black people born in the 90’s have never experienced racial inequality or had a police officer f--k them over just because.

The problem for this hip hop generation is no longer with white people or the police, it’s with other black people hating on them, their boo’s cheating on them, and the pursuit of money. There are a lot of things we as a people could complain about but the president is Black and dudes sell drug more often to afford studio time then to take care of their family. To spell it out for you—This isn’t the crack era. If Nas Was Born in 1991 he couldn’t have made illmatic. Mobb Deep would be deemed too boring if they came out today. Jay-Z would never have been pretty looking enough to get 1 million Youtube hits let alone a deal at Def Jam. This generations NWA would be more into Skateboarding than gang banging. The world has changed and as much as it pessimist would like to say, “we still haven’t overcome” the fact that a calling himself Soulja Boy got rich off a cellphone video posted online is proof that real opportunity exists in America for anyone to make a dream come true. There is no more New York State Of Mind, it’s an Atlanta State of Mind that says, get money, get high, and make it rain on these hoes.

Why is today’s rap music all about bragging and exaggeration? Why is everyone fake? Why doesn’t anyone rhyme about reality? Because people today aren’t honest with themselves, everything is falsified. Method Man did a video on the back of a bus, no shape up, no makeup, no light skin girl in his lap. He was saying, “this is where I come from, yeah we poor, but we don’t care cus this is who we are”. Go on Facebook and look at the things the average 19 year old writes. He’s popping bottles, rocking black gold, and talking about going to the auction to buy a benz. In reality he’s using a stolen wi-fi signal, drinking a beer that he stole from his uncle, and getting rides in his mom’s corolla. No one wants to come out and admit they’re from “the slums of shaolin” anymore they have to say, “I have a loft on Staten Island”. Go to Youtube and look at the $500 videos from wannabees it’s all white backgrounds, rented cars, and big booty hoes. 90’s babies unlike 80’s babies didn’t get the memo that it’s okay to say you come from the ghetto for purposes other than street cred. Exaggeration and lies has become the reality because they grew up seeing Diddy throw his Rolex in the sky not Biggie on his stoop rocking the tight jersey. So what music do would you relate to if you were raised in this matrix? 2 Chains who’s riding around and getting it or MC Dirt bag who’s going to say my mother’s on drugs, I can’t afford a car, and I sell dime bags of weed? MC Dirt bag may be telling their story, but 2 Chainz is telling the life they want to live, so crank it up.

Aside from the generational gap that’s happened I think Rap music has simply evolved to something that’s no longer urban. Kurt Cobain hated Pearl Jam because they took what Nirvana did and made it more poppy with “coherent hooks” and “cleaner guitar riffs” while maintaining most of that dirty Grunge feel. Today’s Rappers have Pearl Jam’d the industry. Rap music is no longer dirty, it’s clean. It’s so clean that White Girls in New England can play it, but still dirty enough that their Moms won’t let them listen to it in the Prius. It’s still edgier than Pop because of the profanity, but accessible enough to win Grammys. Hip Hop purist may not like that the social messages aren’t there, that the rhymes don’t really rhyme, and that it’s better to have a funny hook then a Primo scratch, but its evolution. 

There will always be older guys who still rap like 1994 or younger cats who want to be honest and put their life on wax, which means there will always be something for everyone. The masses however have and will continue to listen to rap music the same way they listen most genres, as escapism that’s fun and something they can dance to. For Rap to go back to the silver age of the 80’s, the golden age of the 90’s, or the platinum age of the Early 2000’s means it’s not moving forward. And if it’s not moving it may as well be dead.


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