Chicago continues to be a hot bed for good rap. Rap of all varieties. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I’m a big fan of Tree. He raps and makes beats, coined the phrase “soul trap” and has been consistently making good music for years now. Well, he’s got friends. Todays example is Giftz.
A little rougher than Tree. A little wilder. Where Tree seems like the wise older dude from block, Giftz is a younger dude he chills with who might duff you out if needed. Still, musically, the “soul trap” sound is there and I really think that’s a winning combination.
Check him out:
Here’s some older stuff. One with Tree and the other with Freddie Gibbs.
Hey, you guys remember Stitches? He’s the guy who made the generation defining song “Brick in yo face!“. I wrote about him when that song dropped cause, well, it was insane. I wasn’t even mad at him. It was like wrestling rap. Since then, he’s put out tons of videos but he has never been able to recapture that cocaine in a bottle. Yesterday, I saw this video and it got me thinking…
Okay, let’s ignore that he did a song dissing Tyga and his child girlfriend. Let’s also ignore the means in which he disses him is telling Tyga he fucked his child girlfriend before him. The logic is staggering. Forget that. What I wanna discuss is Stitches Liberal usage of the N-word.
Now, there’s a few things we must know first…Stitches is of Cuban and Greek descent. I’m gonna go ahead and say he’s more Greek than Cuban and that sliver of Cuban he’s got in him is there just for street cred. I could be wrong but it’s a hunch. But, the fact that I’m even bringing it up is what I find so interesting. At what point does street cred begin, racially? I can only speak for NYC but dominicans and Puerto ricans have been using the N-word with no issues forever out here. No one bats an eye. It’s very much a “product of the environment” situation. I’ve knows tons of white dudes who grew up on those very same neighborhoods who had that word deeply infused in their lexicon. I’m not one of these intellectuals who will argue that that word , when used in those contexts, still carries the hate and disgrace of it’s harsher “er” ending cousin. While it will never be my place to use that word, I also don’t think it’s a black and white issue (No pun intended). Granted, as a white guy, it’s not really my place to say anything about this but it’s 2015 in America. Things are not the same as they were even 20 years ago. We’re a homogenized nation in many way. I’m in no way saying racism is over (Lol @ that) but, on a strictly cultural level within the spectrum rap music, who gets the pass to say that word freely?
I think what is so funny to me is that people will start to argue like there are rules for this. Like “Well, he’s half dominican and grew up in queens so it’s okay”. To me, that’s what makes this whole thing so ridiculous. People start campaigning for the right to say the word without being judged and using their scattered ethnic heritage as a means of defense. I honestly can’t say that’s right or wrong but the fact that it happens speaks louder than the argument itself.
The honest answer to “Who gets a pass?” is one that I don’t think people wanna hear. It’s “whoever wants to say it”. You or I may not approve but that person is gonna do it anyway cause, well, they can. Until someone actively gets them to stop, they can say it. And, even then, they probably won’t stop. Weather they be black, Puerto rican, Asian, or 1/4 cherokee indian. It’s simply too engrained in some people. Doesn’t make it right or wrong, it just makes it a reality. The only people who can truly police language are themselves. I think it’s for that reason I’ve never gotten offended by hearing people say it in rap songs. Sure, my ears perk up and i am shocked when a white dude drops an N-bomb on wax. But my reaction is more “Whoa, that dude has some balls on him” than being offended or outraged. Again, not really my place to feel either way too strongly about that. White males. We don’t really have the luxury of being offended…we’re kinda the worst.
With all that in mind, we all have our own opinions on this phenomenon. Who gets the N-word pass? I wanted to do a poll about it cause I feel like there may be a generational gap on this. My generation has always taken issue with it, especially in rap music. While it’s safe to say all white rappers who grew up in 90’s probably went through a “n-word” heavy stage, the majority of them actively kept it off record or learned that , perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to freely use that word in general. I can’t really speak on how the younger generation views it cause, well, I’m not them. So, here are two polls…One for people over 28 and one for people under. Please only answer for your age group. Let’s see if there is indeed a difference in generational think toward this topic.
You can pick more than one answer if you wanna be difficult about it. 28 year olds and older
It’s been over fifteen years since Dr. Dre dropped his last album. Since then, he’s become a billionaire headphone mogul and , seemingly, been lifting all sorts of weights. He’s “produced” a few songs here and there but, for the most part, he’s been fairly removed from the current music scene.
For years, people have been talking of his new album “Detox”. “It’s almost done!” was something that would pop up every few years to be followed up with nothing. While this sort of delay on an album is common to music, he’s more Guns a Roses than Despot or Jay Electronica cause he’s one of the most famous producers in rap history. He is basically our Quincy Jones. Thing is, if we’re both honest and have been paying attention the last 15 plus years, Dre isn’t exactly making beats anymore. It’s fairly well known that Dre has been using other peoples tracks for a long time now. Similar to what Kanye does. It’s truly taking the role of a “producer” in the rock and roll sense. A person who sits back in the studio and oversees. A Rick Rubin type. They may not create the music but they make sure it comes out the way it needs to come out.
Now, I could easily be talking out my ass here. I don’t know for a fact that Dre hasn’t been tapping pads on his MPC for 15 years. I’m just going off what I hear. But, if what I’m saying is true, it makes this delay even crazier to me. Surely, someone NOT creating the actual music could have put together an album of hand picked tracks and rappers in under 15 years, right? Well, apparently, “Detox” got scrapped cause Dre didn’t like it. He didn’t want to give his fans something less than the highest quality. Which is cool cause , say what you will, the dude has never half assed a project in his life. Thing is, now this new album comes out in like 3 days…why not just call it “Detox”? Perhaps he decided to scrap it entirely to get a fresh start and even out the wild expectations. That’s fine. Weird, but fine.
So, his new album “Compton” drops August 7th. It features tons of guests.
Here’s the track listing: 1. “Intro” Dr. Dre
2. “Talk About It” feat. King Mez & Justus
3. “Genocide” feat. Kendrick Lamar, Marsha Ambrosius & Candice Pillay
4. “It’s All On Me” feat. Justus & BJ the Chicago Kid
5. “All In a Day’s Work” feat. Anderson Paak & Marsha Ambrosius
6. “Darkside/Gone” feat. King Mez, Marsha Ambrosius & Kendrick Lamar
7. “Loose Cannons” feat. Xzibit & COLD 187um
8. “Issues” feat. Ice Cube & Anderson Paak
9. “Deep Water” feat. Kendrick Lamar & Justus
10. Jon Connor,”One Shot One Kill” feat. Snoop Dogg
11. The Game, “Just Another Day” feat. Asia Bryant
12. “For the Love of Money” feat. Jill Scott & Jon Connor
13. “Satisfiction” feat. Snoop Dogg, Marsha Ambrosius & King Mez
14. “Animals” feat. Anderson Paak
15. “Medicine Man” feat. Eminem, Candice Pillay & Anderson Paak
16. “Talking To My Diary”
Some familiar names. some less than familiar. I’m curious who the co-producers are cause that’s really where this album will fail or succeed. But , listen, I’m an old rap fan. To me, Dre will always be somewhat relevant. I grew up on his music. But, even with that in mind, I can’t help be a little skeptical of this album. It’s just my nature. But I’m more curious of what you think. You’re most likely younger than me. You most likely love some songs Dre has created (dudes got more classics than most record labels). But I wonder if the news of a new Dre album and tracklisting like the one above does anything for you guys. Well…tell me!
You can vote for more than one answer.
It’s been four years now. Maybe five. Asap Rocky has been around THAT long. Feels like just yesterday people were hitting me up on twitter like “Dude, how mad does it make you that he stole Aesop’s name!?!?!”. Oh wait, that was yesterday. You people need a hobby.
Anyway,four years ago I wrote a post about ASAP Rocky and how his music is somehow good against all logical hip hop snob thought. He hit a nerve. At the time, I was referring to his first mixtape, After that, I can admit I kinda lost interest. He released his major label full length and it just didn’t grab me. I’ve never been “Eh, fuck that guy!” but I wasn’t really into it so it just kinda evaporated into the background like so many other albums tend to do.
Well, he’s got a new album coming out. Honestly, when I saw this clip pop up I almost didn’t even check it. The list of “guest” names alone annoyed me. Not that I have a problem with Mark Ronson, Miguel and , umm, Rod stewart. It just seemed like too much. Well, I listened too it. I’m reminded that Mark Ronson is a really good producer. I’m also reminded that Rod Stewart had some joints back in the day as this song does not feature him as much as sample him. Is that what’s going on now? We sample people and they get credit like they recorded the song again? I have no issue with that. it’s just funny to me that that counts as a “feature” nowadays.
But I digress…let’s talk about this song. As far as I can tell, it’s a banger. I love the beat. Rocky does what rocky is gonna do. He raps about nothing very well. He’s the seinfeld of rap. Well, that may be giving him way too much credit but you know what I mean. The only part of this song I think is pointless is Miguel. It’s like they threw him on at the end as a favor or something. Perhaps they recorded him just in case they couldn’t clear the sample and , when they cleared it, they were like “Well, shit…we got Miguel singing already…we should probably keep it, right?”
Whatever the case, I’m sure many of you have already made up your mind about this song before even listening to it but do me the solid and check it out before you vote. It’s only fair. I like it and I was sure I’d never care about another ASAP Rocky song again. Life still does have some surprises , guys.
So, what do you think? You can vote for more than one option.
You know, I spend a lot of time answering questions here. It’s not cause I’m self involved and want you guys to focus on me all the time, I swear. It’s cause I need content for this blog and getting people to contribute is a great way to generate that. But, now, I wanna know about you. Here’s a 20 question poll. The answers are all multiple choice and completely anonymous. They range from simple to somewhat personal. It should also be noted that you can choose more than one answer for these questions. I realize human beings aren’t black and white so hopefully that capability can fill in for any options I might overlook. So, please, indulge me and let me find out about you, the reader of this godforsaken blog. If nothing else, I can really pin point my readership after this. Please answer honestly cause jokey answers will just defeat the purpose of this all.
Phew…that was exhausting but I feel like I know you so much better now.
Listen, I’m not up on new music. I follow some new hip hop but, outside of that, I might as well be 70 years old. I simply don’t pay attention to most other genres. So, the other day, I was hanging with a buddy and he had music playing in the house (shout out to Marley Carroll). A song comes on and my ears perk up. This is literally the only way I discover non-rap music nowadays. I ask some questions and he tells me it’s a remix of another song. He then plays me the original and I’m like “What the fuuuck?!?!” cause the two versions are so completely different. As someone who does remixes, this song didn’t just get remixed. It got turned upside down and flipped into an entirely different genre of music.
At first, I preferred the remix cause, well, it’s simply more up my alley. It’s was like an old soul/motown song. That’s kinda my shit. But, as I listened more to the original, I fell in love with that too.
So, I’m curious to see where you guys stand.
The Song is “Seasons (Waiting for you)” by Future Islands. If you’re aware of new music, you know it well. Everyone I’ve mentioned it to has rolled their eyes to me like “Uh, yeah, loser…that song is old. Where have you been?”.
Here’s the original:
It’s just a really catchy 80’s sounding synth pop joint. The dude has a cool voice and the emotion in the song is palpable. Then you hear this version:
That is the BADBADNOTGOOD reinterpretation. Hearing this for the first time, it blew my mind that the singer wasn’t a 70 year old black dude.
As I always do when I like something new, I fall deeply into an internet wormhole learning about that group or song. What I uncovered was that the lead singer, Samuel T. Herring, was 40, which blew my mind cause I support late in life music success. However, that was debunked. I was off by a decade. Oh well. I also discovered he’s an amazing live performer/a crazy man on stage.
But even more than that, in what is the shock of all shocks, this dude fucking raps. WHAT!?!?! Under the alias Hemlock Ernst
So, what I wanna know is, which version of “Seasons (Waiting for you)” Do you prefer? Poll time!
It’s rare that old rap heads get excited about new rap nowadays. It’s even more rare when that excitement is a rapper who might actually be relevant in todays musical landscape. When I first heard Jay Electronica, my initial reaction was “What’s up with this corny name?”. It sounded like an EDM producer from a third world country. But when I heard the raps, I felt something I hadn’t in a long time. There was something about Jay’s voice, flow and lyrics that took me back. They made me get the same feeling I would , back in the day, after I would buy cassettes at Disc-o-rama on west 4th street. I’d come home , Throw down my book bag, put a tape into the cassette player and just let it run. While it played, i’d meticulously go through the liner notes. Reading the production credits, looking at the artwork and checking the shout outs to see who this group/rapper knew. This was a time when i was a teenager and everything was exciting. Especially rap music. Flash forward 20 years and it’s a different story. I don’t listen to albums like that any more. I can’t. I got shit to do. At best, I’ll throw it in my Ipod and walk around with it and catch he whole thing over the course of a few weeks. Even then, I’ll get 20 seconds into a track, decide I’m not into it and skip it. Between aging and technology, it’s simply a different ball game.
So, when I heard Jay Electronica (this was probably 5 years ago at this point), it hit a nerve. He was a rapper who was clearly from my era of rap fans (IE he was old) BUT he had an edge that didn’t make him sound like a revivalist. One song in and I wanted to know everything about him. Since liner notes were not an option, I turned to the internet which is like liner notes for earth. A little research and I found Jay had a few mixtapes (which I quickly downloaded). He had enough material to really dig into. One would almost think , at that point, you were dealing with a prolific artist. And that’s a funny concept once you get familiar with Jay Electronica.
Since that time, it would appear Jay has hit a wall. Not of creativity but of production. After dropping stellar mix tapes and loose tracks in short period of time, he finally got the attention he deserved. Puffy, nas and Jay-Z all were knocking on his door. He did songs with two of them eventually. Word was he signed to Defcon records. Then word was he signed to The Roc (Jay-z’s label) and that’s where the trail went cold. Electronica started to become the Andre 3000 of underground rap. Every fan begging for an album…or even a song, but nothing. Every now and then, out of nowhere, he’d drop a song that would remind us all of why we desperately wanted new material but, as quick as that song would come, he would vanish into thin air with only a faint promise of “The album drops soon, guys…”.
There was even gossip going around. He was with Erykah Badu AKA the hip hop baby factory but then he was supposedly having an affair with a married woman from the insanely rich Rothchild family. There was talk of him being a drunk and having a terrible work ethic. All the while, he was supposedly working on his solo album “Act II: Patents of Nobility” for Roc nation records. There was even a leaked tracklisting that may or may not have been real. Then I heard that the album was done, Jay-z loved it, but was sitting on it cause it didn’t have any hits. Which seemed counterproductive to anyone familiar with Electronica’s music. He’s not a guy who makes hits. He’s a tried and true rapper. Trying to milk him for success isn’t in the cards for him. He’s a dude who will much sooner have 20,000 devoted fans than 1,000,000 people who’ve even heard of him, like one song but really have no opinion o him outside of that.
So, with all this push and pull, Jay’s fans are seemingly left in a strange position. It’s like an abusive relationship. We love this person but they just keep disappointing us. For every gentle kiss on our forehead, there’s a back handed slap to the face and the door slamming behind them that follows it. My question, for fans of Jay, is it too late? Can he still make an album that you want to check out? Personally, I’m a forgiving person and , more than anything, the quality of the songs he’s released has no waned. He may drop one song a year but I’ll be damned if that song isn’t great.
So, last week, a new song of his leaked “Road to perdition” and, surprise, it’s really good.
Here that it:
Road to Perdition http://www78.zippyshare.com/v/OrWNPEb1/file.html
Also, I put together a folder of some of my favorite songs of his so, to the uninitiated , this could be a good starting point for you: http://www78.zippyshare.com/v/cw02YdXU/file.html
But I ask you, Is it too late for this guy? Answer the poll (you can pick more than one answer, btw)…
I got mixed feelings about this one. Well, not personally. I know I like it. But I have a feeling most of you might not feel the same way. I’m basing this entirely on past “yay or nay” rappers I’ve posted who rap a certain way about certain things. Basically, the less nerdy the rapper, the less you guys seem to like him. In the case of Tacoma Washington’s Ugly Frank , he is not that nerd. but he’s also not really a get the partty started thug either. Not even close. He’s a quick fire , talk shit about his bitches , mention his cars type of relentless kinda rapper. He’s part of a group called ILLFIGHTYOU and he recently released his first solo ep called “The Bobby Hill EP”. http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/ugly-frank-bobby-hill-ep-new-mixtape.112308.html
Beats wise, I found his music to be somewhere between synthy cloud rap stuff, G-funk and some double time southern type style. Whatever it is, it’s interesting when coupled with his pin point flow. Here are some examples…
1994 , to many, is the greatest year of rap music of all time. Some of our most beloved classics dropped that year, often on the same day. However, not everything that came out that year was a 5 star album. If you’re old like me, you might remember “Basketball’s best kept secret”. It was an album that featured current (at that time) NBA players such as Jason Kidd, Shaq, Gary Payton and a host of others, getting their rap on. I’m proud/ashamed to say I’ve now owned this album for 20 years. Not only that, I actually listened to it (then and now). Even by “basketball players rapping” standards it’s pretty bad. I think what leapt out at me the most about it was the heavy west coast bias of the production. That probably has to do with them not wanting to use many samples but , still, it always surprised me. Another thing that jumps out is that, while 90% of the songs have a positive/mellow air to them, my man J.R. Rider came through with a straight up gangster joint. Curses beeped an everything. I bring this album up cause I recently saw a video of New York Knick Shooting guard Iman Shumpert rapping. As always, I was ready to laugh at it but, you know what, he wasn’t THAT bad. I’m not sure if this is my brain adjusting for the curve of “Rapping basketball player” or if he actually isn’t terrible. Whatever it is, it got me thinking about the history of rapping basketball players. A few have made waves beyond just random videos and mixtapes .Shaq is probably the most “successful” as , not only did he drop multiple albums, I believe one of them went gold. Allen Iverson got a lot of heat for his shit talking raps and Kobe is Kobe. So, I wanted to pose the question to you , the reader, which Basketball player/rapper is the best…OF ALL TIME! I’ll give you the options, take a listen and then vote. I realize this is kinda like voting for “favorite place to get a paper cut” but I’m curious what the consensus will be. This is actually one of the rare times on this blog where I honestly don’t know myself so I can’t exactly try and lead you to an answer. So, here are the nominees. I’m sure I will forget a few decent ones but, gimmie some slack, I’m my own research team and I’m very lazy.
6)Iman Shumpert (Shump comes in at 1:55)
7)Ron Artest/Metta World Peace
Phew. That was tiring. For me, I’d say it’s between Shumpert, Stephen jackson and Iverson…but what do you think?
This one is a bit of a mystery.
All I know about him is he comes from Brooklyn and he kinda sounds like Nas. Now, this is not to say he’s biting Nas. It’s his voice. Can’t really control that. But I searched around the internet and came up with nothing about this guy. Aside from his age (24) and his home (Coney Island) he’s managed to pretty much stay off the grid. Well, all that aside, he can rap. In fact, he can rap very well. The Nas thing will probably hang over his head (Much like the ghostface thing did with action Bronson) but if he keep coming with songs like the one below, hopefully, all that noise will fade.