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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

YOLO - so lets act stupid

While talking about all of these phrases today's artists are coining I ended up leaving out the one that has become the most prevalent in the past few months, YOLO or "Tou Only Live Once" which was coined by everyone's favorite underachiever, Drake. Apparently this is the new motto for  generation of youths. In some instances, it isn't a bad idea.

Most of us African Americans don't like to experiment or try new things because it may seem odd or out of character for 'us'. this is where the idea can be helpful when we talk about experiencing new things or having some different short or long term goals. I would love to see someone say YOLO - Going to get my Master's yay! Or how about 'Decided to get my passport and visit Egypt - YOLO". Those would be the type of big undertakings worthy of the phrase. They would have both the short term benefit of having something exciting at the moment and also provide a lifetime of memories, and possibly set the stage for future success and endeavors.



Instead, what YOLO has come to exemplify is shallowness and recklessness. Going "YOLO" because you're in Miami at Wet Willies and planning to try all of the alcoholic slurpees at once isn't impressive. I mean it's cool if that's what you want to do but that shouldn't be the extent of your ambitions. Another example, "Bout to down this whole bottle of Ciroc #YOLO. Why must we break things down to their most meaningless forms when they could be so much more impactful and far reaching?

Look I know I only live once but every day that I live, I live like I have another. That means I'm not going to mortgage the future for one ridiculous thing today, pace yourself. I also want to remember and share the things I do today so I'm not going to be so reckless as to behave in a manner that won't allow that to happen. You only live once is absolutely correct but the fact is you cannot waste this one life trying to have swag, get fucked up drunk constantly, and have the latest gear, all of the time. You shouldn't even promote the image that this is what you do especially if it isn't true.

I guess in the end my irritation stems from people who fool themselves into thinking they have some type of outrageous lifestyle where something is liable to happen to them so they go to the club scream out this saying and toss their gas and electric money on the bar for a bottle just so they can have it brought to their table with the sparklers. Or the dope boys who are supposed to be in the streets because they don't have any options to support themselves and their families yet at the end of the week they are more beholden to the streets than a normal job because what they just did was toss all of their money on 'Chyna" at the strip club because everyone else was doing it. You only live once so make sure you live your life and not anyone else's and you take stock of just what it is you would like to do. It's only one life but it doesn't have to be a short one because the opposite is true as well, you only die once too.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saigon gets outed - for putting people on blast

Saigon who put out a vastly underrated independent album last year just made the news again for comments he made to SOHH.com about his music in compared to the nonsense that has been coming out recently. Now Sai has been long considered a critic of current hip-hop culture and the direction it has been heading in for quite a while. If you listen to the Greatest Story Never Told, it reflects his ability to be real, talk about how people are living without glamorizing it or making it seem like the way out without consequence.

So when SOHH put out a column and used the quotes from Saigon that in part singled out Rick Ross for his continued glamorization of crack rap, and Big Sean for just being wack, it shouldn't have created much controversy. However, Saigon apparently had speakers remorse and vehemently denied making such comments on twitter, claiming to be mis-quoted and taken out of context. Well after listening- I gotta say - Sai is lying.




Listening to that audio you can easily see that he still harbors frustrations over not being able to get out to the masses while Ross and Sean can be heard loud and clear every day on your favorite stations while his brand of hip-hop has to find alternate channels to get distribution. Honestly, it's not a bad thing because he has made a way to get himself out there with plenty of thanks to the internet and new media solutions. It's great he can still have a career and put out relevant hip-hop that this generation really needs. But he has to stand up for what he says as that is one of the key reasons to listen to a Saigon.

Saigon's entire point is that he is official, he's been there and done it, and seen things which he won't sugarcoat for you. He'll tell you the drug game is a trap where no one wins and he'll also tell you that you cannot trust these preachers to help you cause most of them are out to line their own pockets. He is supposed to speak out against artists like Ross and Big Sean who haven't done anything to add to the culture or help out the community. He shouldn't be playing the PR game and just trying to get along to get along. Speak up because you are a true leader, one who gets the respect of many and who can still be bold enough to go against the status quo to make a difference.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lil Wayne is Hip-hops Miley Cyrus

I know it's been a while but the problem is there just isn't as much to talk about and really reach into a different direction as far as discussion. However a new thought popped up when I logged on to World star and saw like four new videos with Weezy (in which he says absolutely nothing of value). One of these he is rocking his skater gear and showing off his skating skills and rocker style image. I wanted to throw up.

Pretty much at the same time, there has been a slight furor over what Miley Cyrus wore to Sunday's Billboard Music Awards - which I didn't even think about turning on. When talking about it, local radio personality and morning show host, Mickey Cucciella of 98 Rock here in Baltimore wondered aloud what the problem was since she was just doing what pop stars her age do. It got me to thinking and he has a point, most of the reason we have trouble with Miley's new direction and personality is because we have watched her as a Disney Child and how she behaves or lives now doesn't quite jibe with the idea of her we had already created for her in our heads. Lindsay Lohan has the same issue.



Now here is where I have to give Wayne some type of credit for growing up and becoming an individual who was different from when he burst onto the scene as a 16/17 year old (nationally) with the Hot Boys in late 1999 some time. Where is is now is radically different and I would have never foreseen him becoming the biggest name in hip-hop at any point, and definately as dominating as he has been over the last 5 years or so. The skinny pants and jeggings, that's not my style, I'm older and never was that trendy. The skateboarding and the dabbling in rock and roll are all acceptable evolutions in personality and creativity so to a certain extent it is all good. However, one of my largest issues with Wayne is the way he arrogantly pushes himself as an expert because he is fully investing his time into an activity. That doesn't mean your a pro or that you deserve to be taken seriously. For a month in 8th grade I was determined to become some type of boxer but thinking about getting hit changed that. For two years I was working to be a journalist, as a college student, a radio producer, none of that panned out but at the time I could say I was as serious as I could be with limited resources and time.



Now if Wayne keeps up with the skateboarding and really goes and hits the ramps without cameras and an entourage and works and gets the same scars as anyone else learning how to do ollies and kick flips good for him and much respect. However other changes, such as his ridiculous devotion to promoting the Bloods and gnag-banging have got to stop. This is a guy we watched on television, never really leaving the eye of publicity long enough to enjoy some long gang career that he can brag about now. I can't buy or believe this new character he has become. But people who weren't listening to rap until 'The Dedication 3' don't know about 'Block is Hot Wayne'. This is the way they have always seen him so it works and they believe it all hook, line, and sinker. It's like people who know Ice-T as the guy with the phat white woman and on Law and Order but not for his initial contributions to the gangster rap era. People who only know Michael Jackson as the weird guy who called his baby Blanket. There is a disconnect from the beginning to the current career that needs to be fixed so someone with the potential of Wayne can reach it. It's not his fault that he isn't what I want him to be, I'm different, I saw something from the beginning and the bulk of people who are fans came through during the midst of his evolution and said that was enough so he figured it was.

It's hard to watch someone grow up and change, especially if what they turn into doesn't match the vision that you had of them as you watched them progress. At some point you have to accept that for just what it is.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Need a hit song- Nah Just a Catch Phrase

So I've come to the conclusion that you no longer need to actually come up with a good song in order to get 'over' as it would be. In hip-hop today, all you need is to add some new vernacular to the urban lexicon. Put it simply, come up with a catch phrase and milk that joint until the wheels fall off. While this isn't completely a new phenomenon, it has gotten much larger in the past two years or so. Not only is it dumbed down lyrics, but dumb it down to two or three words and you will rake in money hand over fist for at least six months.

Last year, Kanye West and Jay-z dropped 'Watch The Throne' and while it was very anticipated and was a good album overall, one thing has stood out since last year, "That Shit Cray". Just check your facebook and see how many of your friends are saying something is "cray". While plenty of people have sort of debated where and how it originated, one is for certain it is used as a synonym for crazy and I predicted that this would happen as soon as I heard it on the song. now you may not be convinced because after all Jay-z and Kanye are icons.


Let's talk about last year's flash in the pan YC and his "Racks on Racks". Before this song the term "racks" was rarely used, because I know someone is going to tell me they've been saying it for years, but after the song blew up, you couldn't get away from the phrase. Let's look at this week's "worse Rapper Alive" Future whose new single "At the Same Damn Time" is spawning almost daily hashtags (#) of the phrase as people talk about any random thing they do together.


Want to reach back slightly farther, Jim Jones took the term "Balling" to the next level and Soulja Boy made 'swag' into a household term. All benefited greatly from using the phrase which was then incorporated into popular culture. Its not really anything wrong with it, just something i noticed as I wondered why people keep lisetning to this future character. It becomes such a mockery that it then mistakenly becomes part of the everyday speech we have and the artist (used loosely) benefits greatly.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Album Review- B.O.B. - Strange Clouds

Strange Clouds has been out for a long ass time and I didn't even think there was going to be an album. I thought it was just a random song but apparently B.O.B. flew under my radar this time and his newest album just dropped, titled after the hit with Lil' Wayne. Here is my album review of B.O.B. Strange Clouds.



The album opens with a short monologue by Morgan Freeman before B.O.B. goes in over a electronic inspired track with another strong opening salvo about life in general. Part of it is inspirational part bragging but overall the entire song is a great start. "Ray Bands" is a club track with little in the way of overall content but Bobbie Ray does good talking about a chick trying to get him and her style. Meanwhile "So Hard to Breathe" is the required sophomore album song about the trappings of success and juxtaposes being happy to be at a position of fame and stardom with the fact it can be crushing.

"So Good" is the newest single and has been playing everywhere including ESPN's First Take where BOB talks about how he can treat a young lady. Bobbie goes more traditional with his spitting on "Play For Keeps" where he talks about where he is from and what he has got. He sounds a bit like luda on parts of the song. My favorite track is "Out of My Mind" which features Nicki Minaj on a track where they spit on illness with the theme of being nuts for Bob while Nicki talks about her fame.  I'm not that big of a fan of "Strange Clouds" but it isn't a bad song and B.o.b. thoroughly outshines Lil Wayne on this one. "Both of Us" is a duet with Taylor Swift where they talk about struggle from two different perspectives. This is going to be a pop hit.




I can't say the same thing for "Arena" which is a formulaic song created around the Chris Brown and TI features. I mean the verse Bob drops is cool but the hook is a generic one I've heard 6 times this year from Breezy. "Never Let You Go" has a hook handled by Ryan Tedder about holding on against the odds. "Circles" is about B.O.B. talking about a chick he can't get but who stays on his mind, this song has what some would call a gimmicky pre-chorus but it works really good with this track that could be a staple for afternoon family barbecues. Playboy Tre is once again featured on an album on "Just a Sign". Trey Songz is less than memorable on "Castles" another inspirational type song. The album ends with "Where are You (B.O.B. vs Bobby Ray)" where he goes over what critics and friends speak about when it comes to changes in the time since he blew up. Its about dealing with expectations from everyone else.




I was surprised that B.o.b. had an album come out but I'm glad it dead. Hip-hop needed something new and this is another fresh take on the emerging hip-pop, hipster type of genre. B.o.b. mixes the pop sound more organically and varied than say Nicki Minaj who is the only other artist in his type of class within what some would consider a new class of rap music. While fans of trap music won't be checking for this, if you care for diversity in your music collection this album should be in your ipod right after the adventures of Bobby Ray. This is one of the better sophomore albums you're going to hear.



Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The MMG Press Conference

I can admit it, I'm hating these dudes right now because they have shit on lock and it's Ricky Rawse. Dude is huge, every song is the same and there is no substance to his music yet it is very catchy. Funny thing is I cannot believe this is the first time someone has done something like this to announce the albums coming up. I mean I see Ciroc on the back drop so you know Puff is involved but I am very surprised he hasn't done anything like this for his new wack ass Bad Boy lineup.



Yeah, I'm hating these dudes, they announcing mix tape releases like they're albums. I will check out the new Meek Mill joint though. My other question is who the hell are all of these people who are attending this anyway? Really? It's just some damn rap records. Even funnier is the fact that Omarion is signing to Maybach. You want to know what that means, someone else is about to blow up and Meek better hurry up and get that album out because these retread moves always indicate the downward spiral of a label, staff, and a mothafuckin crew.