Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Return Of Black Star

Black Star (Yasiin Bey & Talib Kweli) - "You Already Knew" - Black Star Aretha (Mixtape)

So The Artist Formerly Known As Mos Def and his BK cohort Talib Kweli have finally taken steps toward making their follow up to their highly acclaimed 1998 album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star more then fodder for blog speculation and comment section discussion. After years of sporadic activity as a group I can understand how diehard fans could be hyped about their first release in over 13 years but unlike the other Black Star song that's floating around the internets, this one is as good as the hype would lead you to believe. Produced by Cali beatmaker Oh No, "You Already Knew" expertly flip's  "The Queen Of Soul" Ms. Aretha Franklin's "One Step Ahead" and turns it into the perfect groove for the duo to work that vintage Black Star magic on the listener. Mos is still spitting esoteric gems ("Trans-Atlantic maverick/true and living Asiatic/the organic masters/the cream of the planet"), sprinkling the track with his trademark melodic flow which is balanced by Talib's precise wordplay ("We do it for the glory, the ghetto, the war stories/Soldiers on shore leave who Occupy Wall Street") and wit. The chemistry between the two on "Fix Up" is almost forced when compared to how the two co-exist on this joint. I'm all for any new Black Star music but one can only hope this Aretha Franklin inspired mixtape actually materializes at some point.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chris Brown feat. Justin Bieber - "Ladies Love Me" (Prod. By David Banner)

I wrote about Chris Brown taking his first steps toward becoming a full fledged rapper and watched as he quickly went from doing cool little songs with Tyga to having the first single of F.A.M.E. feature himself sparring with rap heavyweights like Busta Rhymes and Lil' Wayne. Some may have had a hard time buying Brown as a rapper, but I give it too the kid, he not only managed to keep up, I'd say he put in a memorable performance in his own right.

I feel like a proud blogger.

Today Chris dropped his most recent mixtape, Boy In Detention, which was promoted as being his "Hip-Hop mixtape" but features Brown singing almost as much as he's spitting bars. The difference between this tape and "Fan Of A fan" is there seems to be a concerted effort by Chris to prove he's capable of making "Real Hip-Hop"

Breezy ... Real Hip Hop Sh!t from Mechanical Dummy on Vimeo.

Don't front. That was aight.

But this? This is simply incredible. Chris links up with the other singing/rapping Canadian and I think Justin Bieber a.k.a Shawty Mane just murdered Chris Brown on his own shit.

David Banner provides the beat and manages to take the spacey blips and chirps from Diplo & Afrojack's instrumental for "Look At Me Now" and flip them into an elastic concoction that's even more far out then the original. I don't think the crown is in jeopardy just yet, but when you got R&B and Pop cats going harder then cats who actually rap for a living?

Rappers Are In Danger!

At least we have a pretty good idea of what that Chris Brown x Kreayshawn song is gonna sound like (No Shots).

It's gonna happen. I be having the ill visions, God.

Here's the rest of Young Breezy's latest mixtape opus in full...for the skreets, Boy In Detention, with features from Kevin McCall, Swizz Beatz, Dawn Richard, and some other people from Chris's last mixtape with production from 9th Wonder, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Info and Big K.R.I.T. (It's actually just Chris throwing a verse on this song, but this sleeper joint was already kinda crazy before CB jumped on it so it's appearance here does nothing but help. This Berner cat must be ecstatic.).

Another highlight is the No Big Sean version of "My Last". Not sure if this was created after the fact or if it was edited out of the original version of the song for some reason. CB kinda snaps here too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big K.R.I.T. - The Return Of 4Eva

Big K.R.I.T. - The Return Of 4Eva

(Cinematic Music Group, 2011)

A record deal with Def Jam, tours with Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa plus a spot on XXL Magazine's much ballyhooed 2011 Freshmen Class. A lot has transpired in the months since Mississippian Big K.R.I.T. (King Remembered In Time) released his critically acclaimed mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, (a free "mixtape" an oftentimes brilliant collection of hard hitting & sometimes deeply introspective, nostalgic "country rap tunes") & there was a lot of pressure on K.R.I.T. to do it again. For those who thought the first tape was a fluke, stand corrected. BK doesn't disappoint with his latest "street album", The Return Of 4Neva

As with K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, The Return Of 4Neva is entirely self produced, steeped in the tradition of Southern Hip-Hop. But where K.R.I.T. Wuz Here seemed exceedingly urgent, as if K.R.I.T. had but one shot to make an impression & prove his talents, The Return Of 4Neva shows a relaxed confidence & maturity. K.R.I.T. is slowly starting to grow beyond his influences & find his own unique voice, & unique it is. Very few rappers are making music as potent or as relevant as BK. K.R.I.T. has crafted a sound so singularly Southern, comparisons to other genre defining acts like the Outkast, Goodie Mob, UGK & T.I. are not only inevitable, they're justified. K.R.I.T. chose an apt title cause the music on this tape has a timeless quality that captures the essence of Southern Hip-Hop, distilled from the works of the artists who laid the foundation.

I can rave on & on about The Return Of 4Neva & my favorite tracks but I figure the rest of the internets are gonna have a lot to say as well. So 'nuff talk, just download the thing already....

Big K.R.I.T. - The Return Of 4Eva

Sidenote: Yeah, I thought it was a goofy name too, but this guy may actually live up to it.

Below is the video for the first single off of The Return Of 4Eva, "Dreamin'"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cam'ron & Vado - "Girls Cry" (Video)

Killa Cam & V Twizzy flex their acting chops in this clip for "Girl's Cry" (araabMUZIK on the beat) off of the Gunz & Butta LP slated to hit stores April 19th. I keep telling cats, yall sleeping on Cam & Vado. This is that Come Home With Me/Diplomatic Immunity wave right here! Everything I've heard so far is fire & "Hey Muma" (which gets a preview at the end of this clip) & "We All Up In Here" are gonna have radio locked this spring. Watch.

Just a Thought: So that's Cam & Vado, Spitta & Alchemist's Covert Coup & Smoke DZA's THC all in the span of two days? I'm getting my headstash together right now, cause 4/20 is already sounding phenomenal.

No Jumper

A while back, a group of my blogging colleagues decided to pool their resources & form like Voltron & as anti-social as I usually am, the prospect of building with some great writers & taking Hip-Hop journalism to the next level looked like too much fun to pass up. My sporadic posting around here may become even more erratic but I'm going to be dropping gems more often at the new spot so those with a taste for poor grammar & good Hip-Hop, check for me.

No Jumper

"They shoulda never gave these bloggers bandwidth..."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now Playing...

Lil Wayne - "If I Die Today" (feat. Rick Ross) - Tha Carter IV (Cash Money/Universal)

As much as it borrows from Officer Ricky's track, "I'm Not A Star (Part Deux)" would be a more appropriate title for the second single off of Lil' Wayne's upcoming opus, Tha Carter IV. Upon first listen, this Polow The Don produced "banger" comes off as incredibly generic & unimaginative (even for a Polow The Don track) compared to the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League instrumental it's blatantly mimicking. But in today's climate, where every hit song either sounds like "B.M.F" or "Airplanes", Xerox style production is what the fans seem to want, so what do I know? I just write a crumby blog. Luckily, Wayne manages to overcome the lazy concept with his typically sharp (albeit subdued) wordplay. Ross, while not as driven as he was on "I'm Not A Star", still seems energized & the chemistry between the two MC's is what ultimately elevates this song from mixtape throwaway to album single. I don't think "6 Foot, 7 Foot" or "If I Die Today" are bad songs & for any other artist, they'd be impressive. But these are Lil' Wayne singles & in comparison to his past music, there's something missing. The energy is different. I'm all for sobriety, but I kinda miss the maniacal, syrup sipping Lil' Wayne that effortlessly devoured any instrumental placed in front of him. I wonder if he'll be able to recapture that spirit without the double Styrofoam cups.

50 Cent - "Recently (feat. Gucci Mane)"

The latest batch of music
to come from 50 Cent has been more hit then miss; & even though it's not as strong as his mixtape work prior to the release of Before I Self Destruct I'm liking the direction he's been going in. If these tracks are indicative of the sound Fif is going with on his next project, expect the same "aggressive content" of his last album but this go round tempered with a little more of a commercial sheen. As a fan of 50 from the 50 Cent Is the Future days, it sounds like 50 is finally back in the right space to make a return to form. Not that his last album wasn't good, but it lacked the hit records that set the foundation for his first 3 LP's. This latest song is an official collabo with Gucci 2 Times (That "Crime Wave (Remix)" was a patch job & shouldn't really count) & it actually sounds way better then you'd think. No word on who produced this but it sounds like a typical Brick Squad track & puts Gucci in an automatic comfort zone, spitting a verse that rises to the level of his best verse off of the recently released The Return Of Mr. Zone 6. It's 50 who surprises, showing he's still got that "country grammar". Nothing too deep or cerebral, it almost sounds like, dare I say it, 50 was having fun with this one. Curtis is on a roll, hopefully he can keep it up long enough to produce an album that'll get him back to the top of the charts.

Dr. Dre - "Chillin' (feat. Swizz Beatz)" - Detox (Aftermath)

Another in a string of reference tracks from the legendary Detox. I chalked up "I Need A Doctor" as a necessary sacrifice to the Pop Gods & even though I wasn't big on the video treatment for "Kush", I think it's a solid song that sonically picks up right where 2001 ended & that's the same vibe I get from "Chillin'". The beat (a rolling array of spry synths, hand claps & 808 bass drops) is exactly what you'd expect an modern West Coast club record to sound like & even as a reference, it's almost a perfect mix, the hallmark of a Dr. Dre track. On the rap tip, The D.R.E. sounds the best he's ever sounded as an MC, nimbly navigating around the track with a veterans ease. I wanna say Slim The Gangster ghostwrote these verses but regardless, whoever coached Dre on this track deserves a pat on the back. The fact this song leaked decreases the chance of it actually making the finished album but if this is the kind of music Dre is working with, the chances Detox will be able to live up to all the hype it's generated the past 10 years increase ever so slightly.

Max B. - "Blowin' My High" - Vigilante Season (Amalgam Digital)

Vigilante Season may be a little uneven in spots (Full album review on the way) but for die-hard Biggaveli stans (such as myself) it should be an auto purchase. With his lackadaisical flow, mumbled lyrics & off-beat singing, I can see how some just might not "get" Max B., but there are more then enough moments of waviness on his debut to warrant a listen from the uninitiated. As far as this song, I could do without the auto-tune, but it's still Max at his best, care free, extolling the virtues of life as a Gain Green boss over a brooding but bouncy backdrop provided by his favorite producer, Dame Grease. Dame produces all but three tracks on the album & Max over Grease beats is like PB & Jelly on rye, the perfect collaboration. Some other blogger said it best...

"...the production style that was at once cheap, sloppy and relaxed, but extremely melodic — its the beat-version of Max’s rap style."

Vigilante Season was set to drop March 29th but hit the net earlier this week. Support the 'Vel & cop that.

Kevin Cossom - "Ride (Remix)" - By Any Means
Kevin Cossom is the flagship artist on Tmberland protege Danja's record label, N.A.R.S. (New Age Rock Stars) and while his latest project didn't necessarily blow me away, the remakes of Ciara's "Ride", Wiz's "Black & Yellow" & Ye's "Runaway" are as strong or stronger then some of the original songs on the tape. There are a couple new tracks produced by Danja that knock (most notably, "Work") but this remix stood out to me because....
A. I thought the original (Produced & written by Tricky Stewart & The-Dream) was one of the few bright spots on Ciara's last Frisbee album & this version nearly one ups it.
B. KC jacks Ginuwine's flow from "Tell Me Do U Wanna" & I'm a sucker for Timbaland beats & 90's R&B. Sue me.

Action Bronson - "Barry Horowitz" - Dr. Lecter (Fine Fabric Delegates)

Albums like Roc Marciano's Marcberg & A.G's Everything's Berri have been getting alot of pub on the internets the past year. Some have even gone as far as saying the hard laced rhymes & 70's Blaxploitation era inspired production might be the start of some sorta Rap Renaissance in New York. I'm not sure how real this Rap Renaissance is but both artists churned out two of the better albums to come out of New York in recent times & Queens rapper Action Bronson's debut album Dr. Lecter is in the same mold. Yeah, dude looks like the Irish Rick Ross & sounds like Ghostface Killah, & I went into Dr. Lecter looking for reasons to rip him apart; but dude can not only rap, he's pretty good at it too. The Ghostface similarities are still kinda flagrant, but like Big K.R.I.T. (Who gets plenty of shit for aping Pimp C's style) there's enough talent & personality here for Bronson to be able to overcome the comparisons & grow into a style solely his own. In the meantime, joints like "Barry Horowitz" will do nicely.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

R.I.P. Nate Dogg

Nathaniel Dwayne Hale (August 19, 1969 - March 15, 2011)

The greatest hook man in Hip-Hop history. Nate was one of the cornerstones of the early Death Row run & along with Dr. Dre, Snoop, Warren G & the rest of Death Row's roster, helped the label establish their own brand of gangster rap, the aptly titled "G-Funk". With his satin smooth delivery & humorously explicit lyricism, Nate Dogg influenced a slew of imitators (Yeah Butch Cassidy. YOU!) & was the blueprint for today's crop of featured crooners. There'd be no T-Pain, no Akon, or any of the dozens of cats who came on the scene in the years after if it wasn't for Nate making it cool to sing gangsta shit.

That whole Death Row movement was part of the soundtrack to my high school years & singing along to Nate Dogg's part on "Ain't No Fun" always throws me back to those days. Matter of fact, singing along with Nate Dogg on any song can't help but elicit a smile. It just feels good. His health problems in recent years have been well known but I always thought he'd eventually recover & hoped he was able to get back to doing what he does best. Just another example of why we shouldn't take anything for granted because nothing is promised to us.

R.I.P. Nate Dogg
"Nobody does it better..."

BTW - Nate shares the same B'Day as me & my Moms. Leo's rule!

Tribute To Nate Dogg - The Best Hooks In The Game (mixed by matic)

[01] Str8 West Coast Remix
[02] Time’s Up
[03] Like This
[04] Here Comes Another Hit
[05] Space Boogie
[06] Can’t Deny It
[07] Multiply
[08] The Streets (Re-Twist)
[09] Never Enough
[10] What We Do
[11] MLK
[12] Gangsta Nation
[13] The Set Up
[14] Area Codes
[15] Yo’ Sassy Ways
[16] Thugs Get Lonely Too
[17] Too Much
[18] Where I Wanna Be
[19] Warriors Part 2
[20] I Need A Bitch
[21] Lay Low
[22] A L’Ancienne
[23] The Hardest Mutha Fuckaz
[24] 100 Miles And Runnin
[25] Shake That
[26] Smokin Smokin Weed
[27] Holiday
[28] Can’t Be Faded
[29] Ghetto Millionaire
[30] What We Gonna Do
[31] Connected
[32] My Name Is
[33] So Fly
[34] Look In My Eyes
[35] Xxplosive
[36] Real Soon
[37] Hey Y’all
[38] Boss Life
[39] Bitch Please II
[40] Him Or Me
[41] Real Pimp
[42] 21 Questions
[43] From Long Beach 2 Brick City
[44] Bitches Ain’t Shit
[45] Have A Party
[46] Somebody Like Me
[47] ‘Till I Collapse
[48] Been A Long Time
[49] Ooh Wee
[50] Oh No
[51] Black Mercedes
[52] The Next Epsiode
[53] Nobody Does It Better