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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Independent Wednesday

This week I want to start off with an artist who visually didn't fit what I was expecting when I read, female rapper from Canada. The first thing about Skulastic is that she is from Western Canada, not the hot bed which is Toronto. Then she isn't the average skinny blond fashionista that is in vogue. Point black I looked at her and thought about roots and berries. Then she started rapping and talking about smoking weed and I got it.

It's not just image, because the song is very chill and laid back. I can rock with it and I think you should give it a listen. I was just surprised looking at her. She isn't a bad rapper at all and fits into a nice little niche. Her lyrics can use a little improvement if she really wants to be a more hardcore type of lyricist which it sounds like from her production which is somewhat throwback though it is all very clean sounding. Give it a listen below.
Now I also decided to check a message with a song from Maurice "Mobetta" Brown featuring Prodigy of Mobb Deep with Daydreams. This isn't that bad, the music is sick, and Maurice is also a horn player so he brings an additional dimension beyond the lyrics which are alright, but not too outstanding. The energy is there however and Prodigy grounds the song in reality. Previously he released a joint with Jean Grae, and I admit I haven't actually seen her in a couple of years but it was an interesting look. (i mean the song, not her) YRF is a California duo that represents this young hip partying generation and their retro style fully. The song, "Supa Dope Whateva" is fun and summery with a catchy beat and fits the lifestyle they seem to represent. It reminds me a bit of kid-n-play. It isn't bad but beyond the song it won't have me rushing to hear what they do next, but then again it isn't really for me. The group it's for, will buy into it and keep up with them. Check out the video and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Album Review- Goodie Mob- Age Against the Machine

It's been years since Goodie Mob was first on the scene with their classic "Cell Therapy". Since then the group has gone through it's share of issues, from nearly tragic car accidents to the solo career of Cee-Lo Green and his Soul Machine and eventual success with Danger Mouse after forming up to create Gnarls Barkley. After too long, many fans would say, the Goodie Mob has reunited to bless us with their form of social commentary and take us back to Atlanta before the 'trap' era took over.

If you aren't familiar with Goodie Mob, the album brings back a staple of Dungeon Family albums, Big Rube with a more 'rap' version of his usual poetry. Musically, things come crashing together on "State of the Art (Radio Killa)" where the Mob raps about the fact the radio has no substance anymore and that the music is used as a controlling force. If you're a younger listener this might remind you of some Kanye type experimental rock-hop but those more familiar will see this as an ode to earlier works and yet more of the Goodie Mob's trademark eccentricities. Further example of this is the Cee-lo solo vehicle, "Power" where he screams about 'White Power' which I'm taking from the lyrics is the power he has gained from his new power and notoriety which he has turned into earning potential.

 "I'm Set" is a stadium anthem chant type of song with a nice horn backing with the mob letting you know they're good and get respect in the streets or business wise. "Vallelujah" is a song about working hard and overcoming obstacles. It's a really 'big' song that isn't in the trend these days. T.I. lends a verse to "Pinstripes" which is one of those songs where the artists verify their street credentials."Special Education" with Janelle Monae is about finding your individuality in today's hip-hop where everyone is trying so hard to fit in.

Continuing with the eclectic sound is "Ghost of Gloria Goodchild" which reminds me of another straight up Cee-lo song that is co-opted for the good of the group about a woman who bucked what was expected and went her own way. It's not typical but it rocks and not just Cee-lo's hook but what Big Gipp raps as well. "Kolors" has the group getting deeper about themselves and using the theme of color to get their point across. "Come as You Are" is another in a series of 'different' songs. "Nexperience" is another cee-lo starrer that is a rock/soul fusion.

Big Fraze has a short song describing the difference between a black man and a 'real nigga' called "the Both of Me". "Amy" with V as the group talks about their very first white girl. This is actually hilarious because it's such a real song although it does just sound like they remade "Fuck You". "Understanding" with V also on, is about the side piece. The album ends with the conventional "Father Time".

Overall it was a solid album and decent return from obscurity for the Goodie Mob. However, it also shows the influence of the member of the group who has had the most success, even while the group always moved towards some more experimental sounds. The album is very interesting sonically which is more than I can say for most hip-hop these days, yet it isn't too far out there most of the time like Kanye's "Yeezus" album. Yet I wanted more music like Father time which was solid and straight forward to provide the meat of the content."Special Education" is excellent and I love "Ghost of Gloria Goodchild" but some of these songs are only for "when you're in the mood".It's not that it's a bad album, I'm just not sure all of the risks work fully and will beg repeat listens.

Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, August 22, 2013

This is Why NY is losing

So I'm checking worldstar and I see something where Papoose is on the radio and waiting to hear when he says that he is no longer cool with Kendrick Lamar over his 'Control' verse. It's unfortunate because what I see is two personalities who should be studying hip-hop and knowing what the verse was about in Superstar Jay and DJ Self. Point blank, I have said it a couple of times where people getting too caught up with this "King of NY" statement and thinking that people should come in and go at him, including the elites such as Nas and Jay.

Look, this is part of the problem with New York rappers like Papoose and NY media, they are too concerned with this idea of the "King of NY" being a special title that anyone actually cares about. This isn't about that one phrase, this is about the quality of your music overall. It's actually hilarious that all of these NY rappers seem to think they are really special and that the majority of things we care about is this title? It's not a personal disrespect and as well, I unfortunately have to agree with someone whom I was talking to on facebook that a bunch of non-relevant people - like Papoose were going to be coming out the woodwork with attitudes.

Point blank, New yorkers have the same issue that lil wayne has, they think that just saying Brooklyn, Harlem, Bronx, or Queens actually means something to anyone outside of New York. This guy is talking about not playing the song like it means something and Papoose with his weak response thinks he aired someone out and he is never going to be a star. New York, let it go and focus on making good songs. Your swagger isn't going to sell anything for you because no one cares about New York rappers as a whole.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Independent Wednesdays

So This has been sitting for a while but I listened to it and decided I should still say something about this first project from Chicago Rapper Dave Amazin. Let me say this there are a lot of Chi-town rappers coming out with music and there are all so different. Dave is definitely the underground type and this project, "Technicolor Daydreamer" is one of those unique underground type of collaborations as the EP is produced musically by a Baltimore producer, Richard Desire. The sound is different and the lyrics are sometimes good, sometimes not as much but it tends to happen with these more creative efforts because it's hard to get some consistency at times with lofty expectations. Check it out here:

I make it a point to try and not listen to rappers from the UK or Germany because a lot of times I can't relate, their accents annoy me and they mostly suck ass. Now, I was ready to destroy this next artist Yemm, who I am assuming is Scottish from the accent. Unlike a lot of guys, he has some production that is good, includes melodies and his accent doesn't hamper him as much. Check this guy out:

So to end this post off, I have Timothy Rhyme and he sent me some links, one of which was a rebuttal toward fellow West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar. It was straight, but I can say I like dude's style and rhyme scheme for some reason. It's not really conventional but it works. I also checked out another song he made called Shower and Shave which is kind of a feel good, cruising with the top down track so I suggest you check it out.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Album Review- Big Sean- Hall of Fame

Big Sean is one of the most arrogant rappers in the game right now and if you look at his popularity I can assume he has some reason to do such. I have been much less sold on his lyrics and style myself, at the end of the day, skipping over tracks he is featured on consistently. Leading up to this album, Sean is most known for the song "Control" where Kendrick Lamar became infamous for his challenges to the industry. What some might say is one of Sean's verses was totally ignored and it does give a glimpse into why Kanye is backing the young man from Detroit.

The album starts with "Nothing is Stopping You" where he talks about making it and the chance encounter that led to his signing with Kanye and he connects it to a story about a young unsigned cat and how he stops and takes the time to speak to him and possibly inspired him. "Fire" is about how good he spits and his motivation over a full beat that seems to crowd him out of it at time. "10 2 10" has Sean rapping in an incredibly annoying voice and cadence as he talks about how often he puts in work 'like a mexican'.

"Toyota Music" has a simplistic beat and Sean pretty much says nothing though I take it the song is supposed to take things back to when he was broke rolling deep with his friends. The song is a bit too melancholy for me. "You Don't Know" has Sean in his arrogant mode telling a young lady what he does to make her have odd feelings inside of her (as clarified by the chorus). "Beware" isn't that bad as he raps about women needing to beware of what he will do to their hearts. Lil Wayne and Jhene Aiko join him on the track. Meanwhile in a slight departure of his consumption based lifestyle, Sean looks more reflectively on "First Chain" with Nas and Kid Cudi.

Sean reverts back to his normal random content on "Mona Lisa" where he tells us how he can make a chick comething for fucking with him as well as expressing his desire to have a menage with her friend. Pimp talking over the track basically. "MILF" is somewhat tongue in cheek the entire time as Sean raps about having sex with an older woman as Nicki Minaj takes the personality of the woman with a very descriptive yet somewhat disturbing verse as she raps about removing her teeth and gets extra explicit with it. Juicy J also features on the song. "Sierre Leone/Greedy Ho's" is a twist of the classic Kanye song where Sean brags about only having the best, the diamonds and gold; Sierre Leone. It is creative as a hook and theme for the song but it fails to deliver anything different lyrically.

Young Jeezy and Payroll feature on "It's Time". The Miguel crooned "Ashley" would be even better if Miguel didn't drop F-bombs on the hook as Sean has the ubiquitous love lost track in opposition to the large amount of 'swagger' raps he is known for. "World Ablaze" with James Fauntleroy has Sean trying to get deep as he talks about having to claim things will be fine even when it's apparent they won't be.

Other than that there are some bonus tracks but they are more of the same. Big Sean ultimately is even more superficial of an artist than J.Cole and even trying to use soulful production, nothing change and in fact things get even more annoying as Sean's voice is grating and clashes with the smoothness of the tracks. The other issue is that they have too much going on. Subject matter will always be lacking with Sean I can accept that but he isn't anywhere as good lyrically as he thinks he is and to top it off he isn't entertaining or energetic like a Waka Flacka or Gucci Mane. He really doesn't have a place in the game but if Wiz Khalifa, Currensy, and Tyga can find a lane I have to assume that Big Sean is in it as well. Unfortunately it's not one I can endorse.

Rating: 1.5/5

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Drake will "win" thanks to lame responses

Now one of the big things to come from Kendrick verse on 'Control' has been the 'responses' from innumerable sources, mostly centered around New Yorkers trying to get a chance to shine using the 'king of NY' line as the basis for their 'attacks'. On one hand it's always a good thing to hear guys take pride in their music and decide to step it up, however the problem is that they are taking it the wrong way and need to stop trying to make direct disses and start to take a consistent attitude towards excellence in the rest of their music. How does this help Drake? It's actually very simple.

Notice what Young Guru and 9th Wonder come to as their conclusion, direct disses won't work. Here is why it's good for Drake, he can actually rap which pisses people off when he goes on his smooth r and b tip instead of giving out the darts. He can make catchy songs and hooks and he also already has that braggadocious swagger in his style. This means that lines and bars he had already created will be over analyzed to see if there are subliminal shots at Kendrick, and he has the time to go back and tighten up, or record a new track or two for his upcoming album.

Thus he now has the ability to step his game back up and not look like he was overly influenced by what Kendrick just said nor play himself with some weak freestyles of generic rap in an effort to make himself stand out. He also has a name that is recognized widely and respected unlike some of the recent respondents like JR Writer, Papoose, and Cassidy or Iman Shumpert (really?). As much as I dislike Drizzy, he and Kendrick are the only two who seem to be able to come out of this with something resembling a win.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Independent Wednesdays

Some of you are thinking why do I miss weeks, simple answer sometimes I get tired of listening to a bunch of the same sounding songs that some independent artists think are original because it's 'theirs'. look I understand you're trying to put out what you think will fit in and get you shows and clubs, but so many of you are treading over the same ground, even when the song isn't 'bad' it isn't 'good' either. It merely exists. With that let's get into it.

I posted a video from 5 Grand from Philly before and the one thing that strikes me is his voice is so much like that of VA rap veteran Skillz. Content wise, he isn't bad but he is another street rapper probably a step up from Tone Trump in my opinion. check out his "my Philosophy" freestyle.

Now this next song is by Logan P. McCoy and is called "Dirty Dancer" which uses a standard reggae backing track as he talks about a dancer while out. it's alright and the beat carries it more than anything. Logan probably should have really took it to the left and done something different but it seems to be played safe.

So if you remember me speaking a moment ago about generic rap that just fits into the mold of what is the most popular right now, then this next joint will let you know where my mind is at. Marlon Ponce. Point blank you look at this asian kid and you're not going to expect to hear some 'strip club/hood music' thats based in having swag and the drinking and smoking style of rap but that's just what it is. Look I'm not a fan of this, the beats bang, but aren't outstanding. Overall, if you don't really care you'll bump this but this is just boring to me overall though it would seamlessly fit into any rotation or strip club right now.

Look it's not that's he's bad. But i wouldn't call him good either. He pretty much just exists within the sphere of hip-hop. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

King Kendrick

Funny thing, every rapper can say they're on the best on any given song, yet all it takes is one dude to speak the names of his peers and let them know he is out to embarass them on any and every feature, every verse, at any time to get people up in arms. Even when the 'shot' or 'diss' isn't a shot or diss at all. In fact it just served to clarify what has been going on for the past two or three years, when you have Kendrick on a song, he is likely to show you up and put forth more effort than you as you coast on your name recognition. But what am I talking about? well the new song/freestyle from "Big Sean" - lol, with Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica.

If you haven't heard it by now you must be under a rock for real but there it is for your listening pleasure- and it's the clean funkmaster flex radio played version. Now honestly when I first heard it i felt it was the normal solid verse from Kendrick but everyone was so into the actual part where he names names and to a lesser extent, at least for me when he mentions being the king of NY and LA and he juggles both coasts. Like I have said before on twitter and etc, Kendrick is a beast lyrically but the fervor surrounding this is crazy. Let me try to decipher why.

For one thing, the type of aggression, especially direct competition in the face of his peers isn't seen anymore. The 90's were one of the biggest times of competition with the height of NY rappers and some of it probably contributed to the downfall as it left wax and after the build up of the Nas- Jay-z Battle nothing really lived up. Kendrick brings the entire barber shop debate to the forefront when he names his lyrical peers and his intentions to spit fire. It's such a departure from the happy go lucky times in hip-hop now where everyone has money, everyone is friendly and being extra careful not to step on toes that it has created a sense of anticipation. The other significant factor is that Kendrick is one of the few rappers that has brought lyricism to the forefront and gained a lot of acceptance. I like Wale but looking at social media, he is very unloved. J. Cole has a following but just as many people aren't sold on him. Drake can rap, but he is known for his catchy cultural anthems more than his bars. For this generation, it feels like this is the first time they are aware of what seemed like a weekly occurrence.

Let me say this, the first thing I thought of with this was Big Pun. If Pun were alive today, people's minds would be blown like the man in the at&t commercial with the kids. That dude was a beast in all facets of the game and had the same aggression. The Jay-z and Nas issue has been well documented because they were at the top of their games. Beanie Sigel came out hungry, the Roc-a-fella Hot 97 takeover was some of the most serious rap from hungry dudes you will ever, ever in your life hear. You could tell these guys were rhyming to get off of the streets. It wasn't beef it was all about proving yourself like 5 on 5 at the basketball proving grounds. Going into the studio was going to war.

Now, in response we are going to hear misguided shots like the one taken by my dude Joell Ortiz who felt left out and doesn't do a bad job, but it wasn't great either. Problem is it misses the idea that Kendrick is saying put it all on the line with every verse on every track. That's the only way this can be measured, by dudes coming hard and making content and verses that are memorable and make me want to rewind to run it back again. It's not a one day "battle" being waged here. This is a race for greatness. It's like Lebron and Kobe chasing Jordan, you have to put down multiple MVP's and titles to be considered. You have to be consistent and put out bars for months, even years to really to be able to compete with what he's saying. So to all rappers and fans, keep this day in the back of your minds and realize you won't be able to say who 'won' or 'lost' this week on next month even, it will be a time consuming process.

It's crazy, dude pretty much took on the entire industry, and the money is still riding on him over everyone else. If you're under 30 and have never heard Capital Punishment....go to itunes and buy that shit right now if you think Kendrick is killing the game.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Album Review- Crooked I- Apex Predator

Crooked I has been around for a really long time. He was originally signed to Death Row in the Post-Snoop years and after the label fizzled he disappeared for a minute as far as the mainstream is concerned though he was still on the West Coast until reappearing nationally after mixtapes and his inclusion into lyrical powerhouse group Slaughterhouse. While Royce da 5'9 and Joe Budden seem to make the most noise and be seen regularly, Crooked I and Joell Ortiz tend to blend more in the background. That doesn't mean it's safe to sleep on either and Crooked I is out to prove that with his new independent album "Apex Predator".

Crooked starts off spitting with "Yodo" or "You Only Die Once"  where in his first verse he talks about a potential ending for fake rap thugs and gangsters and what can happen to you. The beat is a serious head nodder too and is relatively simple. "Vegas on Biz" is a solid song where Crook shows his ability to paint a very detailed picture while talking about getting business done in the city of sin and why it's a good move both for practical tax reasons and the lifestyle that it affords. K-Young who also featured on the Slaughterhouse album handles the hook. Tech 9yne features on "Let Me Get it" and the flows on here are on point with a rapid tic and it is a welcome change yet it feels perfectly natural.

The title track "Apex Predator (My Gun Go)" has him incorporating politics and news items with street talk in a credible way to describe how he carries himself. The hook is catchy along with the beat. This song is pretty hot as it also straddles the popular 'gun talk' that Wayne and Jeezy use successfully. More introspective is "Nobody Cares" with Tena Jones as Crooked shows he knows whats going on asking if we pay attention and care to whats going on directly around us. "Crowns" is a 'brag rap' with Crooked letting us know about how he runs things but once again he is also very descriptive with his bars. "A Lady Fell in Love" is about the issues he finds dealing with his woman, from infidelity to his woman's reaction to it which I didn't expect at all to hear on this album.

"No Sleep Gang" isn't anything deep or special but it's solid. The 'single' or at least first video I saw was for "Crook 'n Porter" which just has Crooked spitting over one of Denaun "Mr. Porter" of d12's production. "Sumthin From Nothin" is a creative little track which is designed throwback style with simple sounds that can be made without actual 'production' techniques. The bars are also pretty solid. The album ends with "Tell Them MF's We Made It" with Crooked doing just what the song describes to his haters/critics.

The album is pretty short but I prefer to be left wanting more than wondering what happened. I was pleasantly surprised because while I know Crooked I can spit, I would question his ability to put this album together. There are some surprises and he does a good job with weaving in some different topics and directions without getting confused with who he is or straying from his lane. The production is more than solid and he uses different styles of rhyming from similes, metaphors, alliteration all seamlessly without overdoing it. If you like that 'real' hip-hop you should definitely check out Apex Predator soon.

Rating: 3.5/5


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