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Friday, May 31, 2013

Kanye West - New Slaves

So i'll probably end up with some hate messages because I'm about to un-dick ride some of you from this Kanye New Slaves joint. I finally sat back and listened and checked the lyrics (thanks youtube) and of course, being Kanye the song should be studied and scrutinized, I mean that's a testament to his ability to be provocative and his skill level. First of all, the theme is about being caught up in consumer culture and being the new slaves. A working class of young predominantly black youths who while not kept in captivity, are used by a rich class.

The song is fine, but I want to examine it because Kanye is an artist trying to say something. Now he talks about the perception all us blacks want the same things, fine clothes, jewelry and nice cars and to a large extent for him to paint it as if it isn't hip-hop culture doing this. Just look at himself and plenty of the other artists he considers friends, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Birdman, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz. All of them promote a lifestyle full of these same things he wants to have us point the finger at the elite for assuming we desire. It would seem to be true when artists like Talib Kweli, Common, and Wale struggle to remain relevant when talking about actual subject matter that affects us daily. This is not to say all of the music we hear needs to be socially responsible, but why and how is it Kanye can get such recognition for a song like "New Slaves" when Wale's "Shades", "DC or Nothing", Nas' "Daughters" either get minimal play or ignored totally. We all have a part to play in this and it bothers me when people try to point to someone else for these perceptions when we reinforce the stereotypes every day.

Now he also talks about those of our community who are constantly saying he is in the New World Order or Illuminatti because he is successful. I have to agree with him here. These kinds of statements are a distraction from real issues that we could solve and an excuse for the hard work he has put in to get to his position. I cannot take that away from him. Corporate prisons are terrible, but can we focus on doing the things that will keep us out of the penal system completely and on doing positive things?

The entire part about the paparazzi and such made me yawn because for someone whose life is built on having people look at him I don't want to hear you whine about the attention. You know how come some celebrities don't have these problems, because they chill out, do normal things and have learned to accpet they will be looked at and don't spazz out at random instances. They want you to spazz so then they have a new story. You know, we know it yet you fall for it, you're the dummy. Corporations...controlling Kanye, because they are tying themselves to you and you tying yourself to them for the money and support they bring but you don't want to take their wants into consideration? Fine, don't have any sponsors for your show cause they aren't doing it for kindness, they do it for exposure.

But those are more personality issues I have with Ye. He wants his cake but no one else can even have a piece of theirs.The only other issue I have with the song is his lazy points when he talks about the Hampton Spouse and the Blood on the leaves portions. The repetition seems incredibly lazy to me when in music you have a chance with each line to either explain your position or add some extra depth to it and Ye is perfectly capable of doing such. it's a good song and hopefully going to lead to another excellent album from Kanye and I appreciate the point in today's climate but there are I have some slight issues with this song overall. What do you think about New Slaves?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Independent Spotlight

So this week's first artist goes by the name of Young Markk and I actually stumbled upon him while looking for cover's of Chris Brown's Fine China. I got to a youtube link for him and to my surprise, dude was rapping. And he spits for real, but it's almost just like Kendrick Lamarr with the speed and lyrical potential though he does have a different cadence.

Now I like the potential he has with his weekly freestyle series but the one issue i have is that with his verses I would like to see him have a theme or subject that differs from the original in these which would truly show me his talent as a lyricist and potential to create songs on his own that i would want to hear. Hopefully He keeps it up and takes some time to make these verses more precise.

Another interesting project I have recently heard was by an artist named Def Soul and his "Spike Lee Project". This is a concept album based upon some of Spike Lee's films which was created by sampling some of the music in each film and where the artist Def Soul spits rhymes to that attempt to capture the spirit of and summarize the movies from which each song is based.

It's not a bad idea though I think lyrically Def Soul lacks some finish and polish with some of the songs being a bit too straight forward and rough sounding. I'm not a big fan of the sound and feel myself but I can definitely see J. Dilla fans really getting into the sound sonically. I would say this is something to check out for being different and having an actual direction instead of being random songs. Make sure you click that link above and check it out.

The third artist this week I can't say i'm feeling that much but i do commend him for his efforts. Brooklyn born rapper Vitiate also sent in some music, his newest single "Trading Deadline" with B-Rhymez starts off slightly promising the beat isn't that bad and he has that rapid fire mutli syllabic flows but he and B Rhymez don't stay on beat all of the time and this is one of the worst hooks I've heard in a long long time. It's lifeless and trite. However, the other song I received was more interesting just because of the subject. Vitiate apparently suffers from Autism and his song "Awe-Tistic" is all about dealing with it.

If you get a chance, check out these artists and drop a comment below to tell us what you think.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Do The Billboards respect hip-hop?

I can't even lie and pretend like I knew that the Billboard Awards were even coming on. As I have grown older a lot of these award shows have lost meaning for me. Grammy's, VMA's, hell the BET Awards still bother me because they go too far to cater to what I think is nonsense and buffoonery and many of our artists don't seem to take them seriously. Really when is the last time you saw someone wear a suit to a BET award show that was the celebration of gospel? (No, Steve Harvey doesn't count).

But let's get back to Sunday's Billboard music awards, where the rap category was the firts award of the evening and gotten out of the way early on. I don't even think that the show was full;y on before Nicki Minaj was walking off-stage with an award. I'm fine with it because Billboard marks sales and spins but they didn't even get to the first commercial break before I had no reason to watch the show. Then Shania Twain was the presenter, and while her wrists were ridiculously blinged out, it really did seem odd. They couldn't have at least asked Brad Paisley to do it?

Now beyond that, let's take a quick look at the candidates which is what really threw me for a loop.

Drake - Makes sense
Nicki Minaj - Makes Sense
Flo Rida - Really?
Pitbull - Seriously
Psy - WTF!!!

So you're telling me that to get Psy worked into the award show they had to slide him into the rap category? I get it, he can shill Pistachios, rap fans don't watch the billboards so we can throw him in and get the award out of the way early and no one will know. We know, we all saw this nonsense, it's disrespectful. Just looking of this is crazy. Maybe I'm wrong though, so here's a question, do you think Psy is a rap artist?

side note- the Miguel Meme is hilarious.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Album Review- French Montana- Excuse My French

For the past three years you could not have missed French Montana even though he didn't have an album out. The Moroccan product has been all over with worldstar videos and his own Coke Boyz DVD's and who can forget the Mac n Cheese mixtape series. Then he linked up with Akon, connected with rick Ross and MMG and eventually signed a label deal with Puffy and Bad Boy. This album has been long awaited as a chance to bring NY some mainstream success, though French doesn't rap like any New Yorker, save his friend Max B who is currently incarcerated. After some delays, French Montana is finally here with his debut album "Excuse My French".

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Album Review- Eve - Lip Lock

Femme fatale Eve was once the hottest female rapper to on the earth. She was the sole female on Ruff Ryders and was known for serious lyrics and a subtle sexuality that wasn't oversold like with Lil' Kim. She turned all of this into modeling and acting gigs which culminated with the TV show "Eve" which ran on the WB for a couple of years. Since then, she has been off the radar thought a couple of years ago the new album buzz began when she released "Tambourine" but the album never developed. Finally, on her own, Eve has released her new independent album "Lip Lock".

To bring herself back, Eve's first track is the self-titled "Eve" which features Ms. Kitty on the hook. It's immediately apparent that Eve's hiatus hasn't mellowed her any as she comes out aggressively to remind everyone just who she is and the beat bounces too. "She Bad Bad" has a kind of annoying hook thats an attempt to be catchy and might garner spins with a simple beat. Again, Eve comes with a hard delivery telling you why the men want her. The 'single' of the moment is "Make it Out This Town" which features Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship and represents what Eve  has managed to balance in her career, topical, strong subject matter that doesn't come off as preachy. This song is perfect for all formats of radio and ready for a video and is extra uplifting.

"All Night" with Claude Kelly and Propain is alright for an attempt at a club song. Dawn Richards handles the hook on "Keep Me From You" where she sings nothing can keep Eve away from her lover like being together like hip-hop. The chorus is slowed down but the main verses are very uptempo and fit for the club circuit in top 40 spots. Meanwhile, "Wanna Be" featuring Missy Elliott and Nacho is in the hate it or love it category as they sample a bit of the people's court theme and add a serious drum for the uptempo song that reminds me of something Eve might have had in the Double R days but Eve drops only one verse and Missy kind of weirds the track out with a manipulated vocal.

"Grind or Die" isn't bad but it doesn't stand out and the chorus is kind of annoying. "Zero Below"  has Eve speaking on how she feels about her position in the game. She is still feeling that she is as sharp as ever and has no love for anyone else. "Forgive me" is forgettable as Eve raps about why a woman's man man wants her. "Never Gone" is a good song and features Chrisette Michelle in a song about perseverance. Another feature earlier in the album is that of Snoop Dogg on "Mama in the Kitchen" which isn't about anything. The final track is the "She Bad Bad remix" which features Pusha T and Juicy J and Push doesn't do bad here.

Honestly, a lot of artists disappear for a while and come back with less than stellar results. They don't have a head of steam and have trouble defining a sound, Eve avoids these issues and puts out a solid effort especially to handle independently after having major label support for the past few years. Some of the songs are too pop and may not have a true topic for Eve to focus on but the production is top notch and the album sounds cohesive. While she doesn't have too many strictly hip-hop tracks, Eve's rap style helps to maintain the integrity she has accrued over the years even when aiming for a more universal sound. Fans will love what Eve brings to the table even more than others.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Independent Spotlight

One thing I have been trying to refrain from doing is respond negatively when someone sends some BS my way through e-mail asking for a feature. I have always felt saying nothing said a lot but I've decided to start changing that. Now my aim isn't to crush as many people as possible, but to provide feedback to as many people as possible and an opportunity for the people who read this blog to be exposed to something new and just maybe be on the early edge of some of these things.

First off is a new video from a dude I had on here before, Brad Russell. He is a talented rapper from Maryland . In the vein sort of  as artists like Lecrae, Brad Russell keeps his verses clean and has an underlying theme of respect, learning, and the word of God though he isn't preachy. Check him out and let me know what you think.

Now, in contrast to Mr. Russell there is Third Mind, from New Jersey who sent me something that is supposed to be a mix of hip-hop and electronic that I cannot deal with. I was specifically sent their song "Peter Frampton" which sounds like trash can lids being beat and not in a good way. Even worse was the fact that lyricists GRMC and Scribe were all over the track in and off-beat in various ways and lyrics that were run of the mill and unoriginal. There was way too much going on on all of their other songs as well

Submitted via our Facebook Fan Page is a song from Jay Newz called "Rock To This" which is somewhere in the middle of the previous two songs. It isn't anything spectacular by any means but it is a solid song just in time for the summer, made perfect for the cookout time of year. A West Coast native I could see more from this young artist as he continues to develop. In fact listening to some of the other songs from his The Fly Ones Mixtape does show some promise so go grab it and check that out as well. Click here for his website.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Album Review - Talib Kweli- Prisoner of Concious

Talib Kweli is an enigma, stuck in the middle ground for years he has straddled the line between becoming mainstream and remaining underground. Outspoken and very prolific on Twitter, The New York emcee is back with his new release, Prisoner of Concious.

The album starts musically with "Human Mic" starts with a decent track as Kweli goes in rapping and touching on his normal topics of social awareness, how he can spit, and the fact that the game is lacking when it comes to content these days. As usual, Kweli's flow is going to be a turn off to some and the beat sometimes competes with his vocals for clarity. "Turnt Up" channels the late 80's with a 'remake' of Paid In Full though I loathe the hook the verses are straight and its some chilled material. Miguel handles the hook on "Come Here" where Talib aims to tell the ladies how he's going to love them but his vocals seem to clash slightly with the tempo and vibe of the song but it's just who he is. Not that it's a bad song.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recent release reviews....Los, J.Cole, Freshmen 10

So I will start off with a guy who has been grinding for a few years, Los aka King Los from Baltimore. Now he is sort of like Wale, he may have skills but his personality can be lacking. One of the original members on Puffy's hip-hop version of making the band, after the second iteration failed, he was brought back into the Bad Boy fold which can be a good thing or a really really bad thing depending on how you see it. I mean no Bad Boy artist has blown up since Puff started rapping himself. Los shows his lyrical ability on some of these tracks like "Burn Slow" which features Wiz Khalifa and he raps alright on the song but it's still not all that tight conceptually.


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