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.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

So y'all Mad at Iggy Now huh

I remember when no one knew who Iggy Azalea was and she was just like thousands of other rappers, and that is white and female to make it even more narrow, and now she has finally broken through. Hell even as of last year there were serious questions if the album would ever even see the light of day because she was in label disarray. It could be seen easily that she might just fade away like so many others. However she was big international even without an album, with singles that popped and made it to the top overseas easily. Yes, we could possibly attribute that to her skin color and the fact she isn't an American because those things do hold some sort of weight but she still lacked the success on these shores.



So what exactly are people offended by when it comes to Iggy? In my opinion it's that she is winning. When she was on the brink of failure the past couple of years no one was worrying about whether she was authentic or a real representation of hip-hop. No one questioned her as a credible artist until she finally broke through and became a chart topper this year. But why would they anyway? Is it her content? In that case then 90% of today's artists would fit that criteria because all they talk about is the same things, the trappings of success and luxury.

At least Iggy has some type of unique story. She came to this country at 16 to pursue a foreign dream that she had wanted for years. Most of you won't even go to a new place to eat because you're scared of how the food might taste and you don't like her because of her story? I don't understand how sometimes the rules change so arbitratily when we talk about rap music. We are truly worldly and global now, influencing people of all ages from all over and then when they become a success we try to say why they don't deserve to be here.



I generally love the Combat Jack show but I was listening to the beginning of his latest episode with Freddi Foxxx and Reggie Osse aka Combat Jack kind of went in on how he was at a Complex Mag roundtable discussion (which i'm searching for) and that she isn't a credible rapper. I respectfully disagree with Combat because you have to define what is credible. What makes someone credible. There is nothing I have seen her present that seems to be artificial or made up in order to be popular. Conversely a lot of rappers brag on selling more drugs and holding more guns than they have ever done in reality. Does that make them credible? Is it race? Is it Gender? Is it that she is being marketed to the pop market now and not the urban market? Thats the question I ask people when they are quick to knock Iggy. I have never even heard this term used until now.

That's probably the most frustrating part to me that there is this inconsistent standard placed upon certain people and that Iggy is now being reversely singled out kind of how Eminem was. It's this whole idea that Hip-hop is black music, and yes like many other forms of expression it was almost uniquely ours and more than most others it still remains that way but things change. She isn't the best rapper, she isn't the best female rapper, she just exists but she fits in a fun area that isn't bothering anyone but how it is more or less credible than anyone else I can't see. Nelly fit into this lane when he dropped. Flo Rida is settled right into this area as is Pitbull. Honestly it feels like a rejection of mainstream success, the way we used to call people who got massive radio play commercial, like someone wanted to say no to the radio if they chose to play their music. Everyone wants to have success, there are just varying levels of it. I'm not sure what she has done to make her less credible nor who that is in comparison to  in the first place. We have to look more into this issue because it reeks the same way as the "realness" debate which makes no sense. In a world where Puffy can tell you he doesn't write his lyrics there is no longer any way I can really look at anyone else and ask if they are credible.

By the way if you don't already - Go listen to the Combat Jack show. There is a wealth of great podcasts over there that we definitely need to be taking advantage of.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Independent Wednesdays

Artwork 1 photo WilliamRoseArtWork1.jpgSo I fall off from time to time but know this, I will be back. First off I heard a new joint from William Rose II called "Keep It Real". I listened to this joint about four times before even looking at the short bio and seeing that this was another local Baltimore artist. I was impressed by the content, skill and production - which was by Vanilla.


Only 17, he exhibits a high level of skill for someone so young. He also spit over the Dead President's track and did not embarass himself as could be done easily by being focused. All of his songs have the 90's vibe but it isn't too underground, it has a bit of polish to it that reminds me of a young Nas or for the newer generation J. Cole. For those who know the obscure, think slightly Ali Vegas only without the NY accent.






While we back at home in Baltimore, I have to go ahead and drop the new visual by my dude Japiro, also over the Dead Presidents track. This was off of his project "2" which remade the Reasonable Doubt soundtrack around the theme of his two sons being born a few weeks ago.






If you're free tonight He will be performing at Mex at the Powerplant tonight along with VIP Gutter.






From Dallas, Texas T-Shawn doesn't really sound like an artist from Texas on his new single, "so High" which isn't about smoking as you might expect but it's about some fly shit. The hook is perfect with the beat and the flow is on point. When I hear a song like this I imagine it should easily fit into someone's roatation.  The production by Grits N Gravy is worth noting too. Several more of T-Shawn's songs have that production and they all sound really polished as well. T-Shawn can rap and he has the fast rap style but you can tell he is still refining his voice, working toward being compelling yet maintaining his own lane where he isn't getting to be too "gangster" or too "corny". Go hit up his soundcloud after So high and let me know what you think.

Finishing up in Texas is Tre Crowell from Houston who once again is shattering the idea of what a Southern artist sounds like. With a definite east cost sound, Tre is an artist I think could have a very long future. In fact this is one of the best independent Wednesdays I remember in terms of these kinds of artists who are less 'gangster' but still reality based. Tre has some serious flow as he demonstrates on both "Vintage Flow 2" and "At the podium". At the Podium mixes classic production and flow I can't place but if you grew up when I did and miss some of those rappers- Tre will satisfy that. If you are from the DMV area and ever hear of Gods'illa, I get a similar feel to them from this artist. I can't see the audio mack player but hit this link and listen asap!.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who needs to win

So my Boy NC-17 was in town this week and we went out to eat and while out he asked me who it was I wanted to win in hip-hop right now. Who do I think should be leading the game right now, and I must say it was a question I was pissed off at not being to answer at the time. Of course the entire next day I thought about it and here is my list of folks I think are underrated or should be moved to the top of the game and be the folks who get the accolades and the love.


B.O.B. - Bobbie Ray isn't a new artist but I think he is slept on. His latest album, Underground Luxury was definitely a sales and PR dud by his lofty standards but the quality was there and he had depth and fun as usual. He is often overlooked and I think as a rapper he is very comparable to Drake only not as ratchet in a lot of the music he makes.


Wale -  Folarin has his share of detractors and haters but the dude makes good music and can really rap. He might have to come to grips with the fact his following may never grow as large as someone like Meek Mill whom he is better than in every way imaginable but it will be passionate. He just ahs to stay the path and control his anger.



Don trip - I think a lot of people would be surprised that Trip is one of my favorite dudes right now. Honestly everyone needs some ratchet int heir life but he is more than just a thug who can spit. He has depth to him and while he has punchlines that can be simplistic at times, his passion and desire come through in his music.



Big Krit - Beyond Mt. Olympus I like Krit. He has a good mix of trap/reality rap, lyrical skills, and introspective perspective. He is like a way better David Banner who seems to be a bit more authentic than David as well. He has such a variety of music it's hard to pin him into one area or style.




Gunplay - Now I can admit I didn't like Gunplay at first. But he has grown to be tolerable as he has continued. Honestly he isn't that serious as a rapper to me but he is who he is and when compared to say Waka Flaka I prefer to listen to Ross' protege. In fact it reminds me of the guilty pleasure I took with listening to Tony Yayo and his struggle bars.

What was crazy is that while doing this I was trying my damndest to think of East or West Coast artists that I felt deserved to be included but right now no one is standing out more than some of these southern rappers who represent a variety of styles. It is my unfortunate duty to tell you, the South is winning.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

50 Still runs NY

So I am still around but I'm searching for topics a lot cause it's not a lot exciting and I owe it to my readers to not just quote the same stories. rumors and gossip that is already floating around. Once again i'm back talking abut Fitty cent though and it seems a bit strange. I mean it was well over a decade since 50 was the biggest thing out of NY and it's crazy to think he has created more buzz from the big apple than anyone pretty much since then.

Let's look at things, first there are his instagram videos and myriad of interviews which are always entertaining and interesting because he will indeed say what is in his mind. I do think he might have been trolling us with all of his talk about how he wasn't ready to reunite with his G-Unit brothers. In a way I feel like this was in motion before he even went on his publicity tour where everyone was asking him about the Unit and it became obvious that the crew was missed. Just look at the response they got at Summer Jam. It was epic.





Now 50 is breaking out his old formula and using the internet and new independent situation, mixed with his celebrity is a great chance for success in the new era of music.Already the Unit has pumped out new singles and a video, 50 has dropped one album and announced another, and while not as hyped as during the G-Unit era, things seem to be getting pumped. I mean what other NY artist is even getting any burn or attention on anything close to these levels? Even the artists who were recently supposed to be hot like Troy Ave and Asap Rocky fail to get this amount of attention




For as much as he is hated, 50 is still a lightening rod and you have to keep an eye on what he is doing. Unfortunately this says something about the new crop of rappers from the city and their inability to really build any sustaining buzz. Whether or not G-Unit can actually continue to build and win again is to be seen but it seems as though right now they are on the right path and no one is standing in their way as even a speed bump.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Album Review - 50 Cent - Animal Ambition An Untamed Desire to Win

50 always manages to create enough buzz around one of his releases to draw attention to it. Even things that don't work out well like his pitch at Citi-Field going massively awry brings attention to the Queens rapper. It's still amazing this guy can go from Good Morning America to having a melee behind him on stage at Summer Jam yet still remained untouched and have his hands in dozens of different ventures. Hell, even his jabs at Floyd Mayweather from the TI altercation helped bring some attention to Fif. Thus it's only right that after the talk of the Summer Jam stage that his album is ready and available for the public.



This album review starts at the beginning the first song "Hold On" which immediately reminds me of one of the tracks that could have been on  Jay-z's American Gangster album only stripped down slightly more. It has the normal 50 lyrics but it's straight. I'm not sure if I like the title track, "Animal Ambition" where Fifty talks about what he has in his pockets now. The beat isn't bad but I'm not sure if I like it. The hook is the same way, it seems odd but not out of place. On "Pilot" he uses a more sped up flow that he hasn't really used in a while but the song is marginal at best to me.




Trey Songz makes an appearance on "Smoke" which has a dated production sound which isn't going to really help the project. The track during the verses sounds much better than the portion beneath the hook. "Don't Worry About It" is talking to the people trying to count whats in your pockets and features Yo Gotti. Jadakiss and Kidd Kidd join on "Irregular Heartbeat" which is some typical gangster rap over an extremely simplified and bass heavy beat. "Twisted" featuring Mr. Probz is another track that seems like it is a bit older in the sound on the hook which seems like it's trying to get a funky Dre feel to it.




Kidd Kidd is also on "Everytime I come Around" a typical yet forgettable track. "Winner's Circle" sounds more like an Eminem style big pop track that could be a crossover single and it features Guordan Banks. It's not too big or over the top, it works actually and fits with the theme of the album and maybe should have been the last song. Instead, it is followed by "Chase the Paper" with Prodigy, Styles P, and Kidd Kidd. Its a standard NY style hip hop song. Real solid though, but not the 'album ender' I would think on the non deluxe version. There is also "Hustler" which also sounds like something leftover from the massacre.




Bonus tracks include "The Funeral" which took me back to Get Roch or Die Trying as 50 describes the scene at a hood funeral in great detail. "You know" could have stayed unreleased as far as I'm concerned, and "Flip On You" with Schoolboy Q.

Overall 50 is at the point where he will have a few hits or misses and be wildly inconsistent as he tries to find the new formula for success while maintaining what is his signature sound. It's alright and not worse than a lot of the new material coming out these days but at the same time it isn't great or classic by any means. At the end of the day 50 can probably continue to meander on in this manner for the next few years but it feels like a comeback may elude him sort of like it did Nelly in his last time out. At some point the formula becomes old and catching that lightening in the bottle won't happen again.


Rating: 2.5/5