Archive for the ‘Music Review’ Category

Greetings all,

As promised, I’m dropping my review for the Fly Rebel Society’s newest collection reFRSH (finally). For those who are unfamiliar with the collective, check out some of my previous coverage of them.

 

The first track, “reCAP,” serves as an introduction and, well, a recap of who they are (Lega-c, Ryda Black, Cooley, TeeJay, and godlymC), what they bring to the game (five distinct, but well-meshed sounds) and why listeners should pay attention to them. The next two tracks from the collection, “Wake Up” and “Introverts Theme Song” feature some sick jazz-rap production. Perfect for that smoking session (that I don’t necessarily promote, but if that’s you, do you), both tracks still drop some gems of knowledge and overall dopeness. One sampling of lines that stands out to me goes as follows:

Need more ‘Good Times’ ‘fore I’m cancelled/
Need to clear my head like a sample/
Dismantle each beat, I’ve got problems I can’t handle
[Shoot], with the Scandals, I don’t watch TV unless I’m on it…

That group of lines in some ways summarizes the album as a whole: fun rap, emotional rap, and retrospective rap all in an hour-plus collection.

From the jazzy Tribe-like flows, listeners are blown away by bass and bravado-heavy tracks such as “Grind,” jazz-meets-heavy-rap tracks such as “She Hearts Raps,” and tracks that fans of artists like J. Cole will rock with such as “Rearview.” This project has a song for every type of listener. Also, with FRS, listeners are given a cohesive group that shines individually and collectively. reFRSH is no different from this formula, considering there are “solo” tracks and posse cuts, and both shine just as bright as the previous track. Overall, the collection has something for everyone, and is a great early summer release. The only grievance I can think of is that the constant switch between styles may take some listeners by surprise. But, at least it’ll keep listeners on their toes.

#SkiesAintSafe.

K. Michelle vs. Perez Hilton and Iggy Azalea (Or Something Like That)

iggy-azalea-billboard.com

Now, I usually try to stay away from gossip and the like. But, since it does deal with some things I feel are big issues in music, I’ll speak on it.

For those who missed it, K. Michelle got a bit heated about Iggy’s southern rap flow (and subsequent Australian accent). Perez came to Iggy’s defense, which sparked a war of words, including some not-safe-for-work terms and suggestions. Now, I’m not a big fan of Iggy Azalea. Big KRIT warned us about impostors jacking Southern ways and appropriating them for their own use. Secondly, Iggy’s got some moments, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before from a slew of other artists. But, she’s a character, exaggerated for “Joe Listener” to both identify with and laugh at/with. With that said, I’ve got to ask a few questions:

  • Should we be mad at Iggy for adopting a Southern persona?
  • Should we be mad at executives who feel that parading a woman from Mullumbimby playing the role of Southern pop-rap-meets-gangsta-rap princess as “authentic” is the right thing to do?
  • Or…should we shut up and enjoy her brand of pop-rap–or turn it off if we don’t rock with it?

Honestly, I’m a bit “ugh” or what-have-you over her appropriating what she views as southern culture. But, by the same token, she’s not representative of Southern culture as a whole (just one eschewed subset of it). And, if listening to Iggy Azalea can introduce a legion of teenyboppers to “real” Southern artists and “real” rap, I’m cautiously, for it. Notice, however, that I removed race from the equation. Yes, part of Iggy’s appeal is that she is a blond white Australian woman who raps like Diamond from Crime Mob. But, these days, I’d like to have a conversation about a black person and a white person without their race being the reason why I’m discussing them.

Maya Angelou Passes at 86

maya-angelou

I know, I should have saved this for another post, but I’d rather not overwhelm people with Speed musings. Dr. Angelou’s impact on myself and artists worldwide can never be measured. I could take up pages upon pages upon pages gushing over Dr. Angelou’s amazing gift(s). However, I’d like to talk a bit about her late 1950’s album Miss Calypso (which, unfortunately, you can’t find using typical means and either have to buy from third-parties or stream from YouTube). Considering a lot, it’s a pretty unique find. It’s both haunting and just “cool” to hear/see a different side of such an esteemed person. Haunting because her poetic voice shines through and makes even a “simple” calypso song resonate and “cool” because it’s Maya Angelou singing.

Chuck Brown lovers have to appreciate her cover of the song Chuck covered himself, “Run Joe.” While I prefer Chuck’s cover, it’s amazing to hear Dr. Angelou’s voice do this song justice.

 

Until next time guys.

As it nears that time of the year when sundresses and bikinis run wild in my immediate line of sight, I’ve begun thinking of some of the best and worst songs to vibe to during these late-spring/early-summer months. But, then I remembered something. “Best Of” lists are as boring as watching a two-hour long adult film  never all that fun. So, pardon the cliche, but let’s go through the best of the worst. As always, this is just my opinion. I can be wrong…but I’m pretty sure I’m not on most of these.

Sisqo – “Thong Song” (not to be confused with this “Thong Song”)

(I’m sure you may’ve tried to block the video out of your memories, but it’s somewhat NSFW. I mean, it’s a video and song about thongs…)

It’s ok, guys. I’ve sung along to this song and thanked it in middle school for creating awkward “freak dancing” moments being a song people wanted to dance to. But, let’s face it. It sucked. The beat, an interpolation of Wes Montgomery’s jazz cover of “Eleanor Rigby,” a Beatles song, was overly dramatic (but introduced me to the sampled track, below, some years later).

Plus, it gives me a reason to post a YouTube link to this slightly absurd Beatles cartoon.

Now, back to Sisqo. The lyrics were simplistic, even by today’s standards of catchiness (“Dumps like a truck, truck, truck…baby move ya butt, butt, butt” isn’t exactly avante-garde lyricism). And the premise of the song and video make it seem like Sisqo’s some sort of omnipotent, platinum-haired pervert. Granted, the video also showcased Sisqo crowd-surfing /walking on people all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style, which was a thing for Sisqo. But overall? This song deserves to be locked away in a room and never let out. NEVER unleash the dragon again, Sisqo. Even though this song was (technically) released Y2K Eve (December 31, 1999), it managed to linger for about two years-plus after that. Now, it pained me to list a Sisqo song because Dru Hill. But, yeah…no.

LFO – “Summer Girls”

Now, first and foremost, let me pay my respects to the lead singer of this group, Rich Cronin, who passed in 2010 from leukemia-related complications. But, this song did one of these two things. Either it:

1) made it possible for hipsters and suburban America to accept Lil’ Wayne’s stream-of-consciousness lyricism when it was at its lowest point(s) or…
2) It was a free-form homage to a romance that was catchy as all hell but still neglected to make much sense. “Chinese Food makes me sick” had absolutely nothing to do with anything with this song. At all. Ever. But, for whatever reason, this non-sequitur filled-song became one of the biggest summer songs in 1999. It even got a few spins on 92Q Jams in Baltimore–and not even as a joke. Eminem, as he tends to do, lampooned this song in a couplet from “Marshall Mathers.”

Chingy – “Right Thurr”

Practically for the same reasons as Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” even if Chingy actually put more thought into the lyrics. Maybe. “Gimme what you got fo’ a pork chop” raises a few eyebrows, along with “she should pose for Sports Illustrated,” considering women of Chingy’s description tend to be ignored by mainstream media and chastised. But, maybe that’s just my biased male gaze talking. Anyhow, the track also gets points off for having a chick orgasmicly moan during the chorus. It adds nothing except some uncomfortable vibes when listening to this track.

Trina – “Look Back At Me” and Khia – “My Neck, My Back”

Speaking about uncomfortable vibes, how either of these tracks got radio play is beyond me. Now, I’m all for empowered women, sexuality, and all that fun stuff. But, the lyrics to both these tracks make me giggle and shake my head more than they make me want to engage in not-safe-for-work activities. Also, goofy, demented voices telling me to do not-safe-for-work things isn’t a turn-on. And, no…I won’t post the videos here. You want to hear the songs, you seek them out. Just make sure your headphones are in–or you’re in a very liberal place in terms of gratuitous sexual content, like a strip club or the comfort of your own home. Or, you know, not at all. Ever.

Trey Songz – “Dive In” “2 Reasons”

Plus, this cover screams "alcoholic."

Plus, this cover screams “alcoholic.”

You’ll notice I chin-checked “Dive In” out of this spot because it wasn’t that bad. And the way it led into (now, my least-favorite Trigga song) “Panty Wetter” was pretty cool. “2 Reasons” gets the spot because it was completely unneeded. In 2012, every rapper, singer, producer, baby mama and so on had a “let’s get messed up and get into some stuff” track.This track replayed “Say Ah” and “Bottoms Up” with a bit more bluntness. Plus, the album version of the track, for (I guess) “maturity’s” sake, replaced “ladies and the drinks” with “the female dog word.” I’m not chastising him for his kind of off-color choice of words, but more so that, like the song itself, it wasn’t needed. Chapter V, however, was a decent album.

Mariah Carey – “We Belong Together”

Now this one, it’s more of a personal choice (my sixteen-year-old self says “Hi Treeka”) it isn’t a bad song by any means. In fact, it’s possibly one of my favorite Mariah Carey songs. However, a breakup/pining-for-your-ex/the-person-you-can’t-have song plopped right down during the onset of spring isn’t the best song to play at a barbecue in August. But it was–and immediately sucked the life out of everyone. It’s the equivalent of playing “Man in the Mirror” at a bar/club after last call. Anyone who’s ever been to R.J. Bentley’s in College Park during the years 2006 through 2012, you know what I’m talking about.

Mariah Carey – “Thirsty (feat. Rich Homie Quan and solo version)”

meandmariah

You’ll notice that, as with the “Dive In”/”2 Reasons” situation, Mariah’s newest song usurped another track. I’m going to be as nice as possible. Mariah Carey is awesome. Rich Homie Quan is cool. Hit-Boy makes epic beats (“Backseat Freestyle” was one of my favorite GKMC tracks). But, for whatever reason, putting them all on one track came up way short. The song is literally “N****s in Paris” rehashed for Mariah to trot out one of the most overused slang-originated terms this side of “thot.”

It seems that everyone’s learned the error of their ways, as the RHQ version has been all but replaced with Mariah making it all her own. Neither version does it for me, though. It comes off as almost parodic the way Mariah’s talking about some guy who’s thirsty (Mariah either has stalkers out the wazoo, or she’s one of the most conceited artists alive. This is a woman who’s had a song called “Obsessed,” which was basically “Thirsty” sans possibly lifted chorus and with Eminem sneak disses). But no doubt about it, this song will be trotted out (see what I’m doing here? No? Ah well…) as the “curve” anthem of Summer 2014. And I, for one, will be turning the channel/station/downing several shots at the club/bar when this song comes on.

At least her track with Wale is cool.

Greetings, all.

Monday, I was informed by my handler over on Boi-1da.net, the lovely Erin Ashley, that Jay Z dropped a DJ Khaled song (and that we were prohibited from posting about it because of the Drake barbs, which makes absolute sense. It’d be like me posting a True God diss track on my page). But, I decided to listen to it myself. I mean, it couldn’t be that bad, right? It’s new Hov! New Hov always disgraces everything!

“They Don’t Love You No More,” featuring Jay, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, and an auto-tuned French Montana, is, to put it lightly, a cluster****.

On this one, Jay? You may need to take that L back for a little.

On this one, Jay? You may need to take that L back for a little.

I like the artists featured. Meek and Rozay usually hit on all cylinders. And many of Jay’s “dumbed down” bars usually trump what’s hot on the radio. But, the track just comes off as an attempt to recapture the catchiness and anthem nature of “Started from the Bottom.” Perhaps that’s because of the topics covered in this epic. Or, maybe it’s the fact that “SFTB” and “TDLYNM” both feature production from OVO signee and affiliate Mike Zombie.

Jay’s verse in particular stands out to me. Granted, Jay can probably end my career thrice over with the push of a button, but that doesn’t mean he gets excused for lazy couplets. Examples of such include “Got hella options, like a college team/Hit these bootleg n***** with the Heisman.” It ain’t “rocket science” Hov that we’ve grown used to, which brings me to my question.

Even though he’s still doing big things, has Jay lost (lyrically)?

Listening back to some of his latest projects, especially MCHG, he still has moments of greatness. The title track of that album still gives me goosebumps, even when I skip over Justin Timberlake’s chorus(es). But, it seems that Jay’s gotten comfortable in his crowned spot, rehashing what we’ve grown accustomed to from him (gun talk, richness, his taste in fine art, et cetera). There’s limited growth at this point, perhaps because he’s pretty much done it all.

You know how a one-hit wonder continuously tries to recapture that glory? Jay’s beginning to come off that way. But from some, he’ll forever receive a pass due to the legacy he’s created. This is kind of like the man Jay’s often compared to, Michael Jordan.

But even MJ knew when to walk away, even if he still had the fundamentals down pat.

I have all the respect in the world for Shawn Carter as a businessman and an artist. But it may be close to the time for him to walk away from the mic. But, that’s just my opinion. And like mics these days, everyone has one. 

Turk Drops a New Mixtape

Well, that’s something I didn’t think I’d say again. But, in 2014, we’ve got a new collection of tracks from Turk, The Da Real Thugga From what I’ve heard (I’ve only given it a once-through), Turk’s still got it. It is, however, kind of weird that the EP has the radio edits on it as well as the uncut versions. Be sure to check out my brother True God and the rest of #TeamDAR interview Turk over on TeamDAR Radio (accessible by clicking the logo below; interview considered NSFW). In it, he clears up the rumors of Turk dissing Young Thug among other questions.

#TeamDAR Radio Interviews Turk

#TeamDAR Radio Interviews Turk

Lil’ Jon Lives!

Lil’ Jon, your favorite crunked-out DJ/rapper/hypeman has found new life as, well, a DJ/rapper/hypeman (this time, with more of a trap-hop dubstep-influenced feel). His newest track, the “Turn Down For What?” remix, is, as a good friend of mine said, “happy ignorance.” It makes you want to just, you know, do wild and crazy stuff, but not kill everything within a ten-block radius. We need more “happy ignorance” in rap. Can we get a new album, Lil’ Jon? The streets world needs one more crunked-out tape. (Track has some NSFW lyrics, especially French Montana’s verse)

K.R.I.T. Iz Here (to climb “Mt. Olympus”)

As long-time followers of me know, I’m a big Big K.R.I.T. fan. Heck, his music inspired me to do tracks such as “Death of The King,” the title track from the upcoming Death of The King album (double shameless plug alert; NSFW as well).


So, when I heard his newest track, “Mt. Olympus,” my eyes legitimately lit up and I had the screw face on the whole time. The first single from Krizzle’s Cadillactica album, “Mt. Olympus” goes hard. And when I say it goes hard, I mean it goes hard. Considering he pretty much eviscerates “Control’s” impact on him and rap in a few bars, it’s safe to say K.R.I.T.’s not playing around. I think that these few bars sum up the feeling of the track, one where The King Remembered in Time is making sure we remember him, in spite of some listeners downplaying so-called “country rap.”:

“God could physically come down and say ‘he the greatest/
My favorite, y’all should listen, he have potential/
To outlive the heatwave I’ma send through this mother[…]/
And rebuild for a whole ‘nother other culture’/
And that wouldn’t be enough…”

(NSFW track)

Man, it’s been a busy week in hip-hop. And I didn’t even get to Lord Jamar talking about blacks and the need to buy the Clippers from Donald Sterling. Since I’m sure Mr. Sterling’s remarks will still be in the news, perhaps I can save that for next week.

Greetings, all.

So, after last week’s WCW-influenced cluster-you-know-what, let’s switch some gears here.

August Alsina’s proper debut Testimony dropped this week. To be honest, I’d somewhat forgotten about Alsina’s ghetto gospel-tinged tracks since “I Luv This S***” didn’t get as much play as I thought it would thought that his style was a bit too gritty for R&B. I mean, Tha Product 2 was a beautiful mix of real life themes and hip-hop-based bravado. It’s like someone took The Weeknd’s honesty, took the “fun” from it and added in the story of, for instance, a Yo Gotti (who Alsina worked with, coincidentally enough, on Testimony). So, I put Alsina on the back-burner, because as much as I looked forward to his full-length debut, I feared it. Why? Well, tell me the last time an R&B album that wasn’t really a traditional R&B album, but instead steeped in hip-hop, came out as well as it should have.

And no, Kiss Land doesn’t count. That album was on another level. Plus, it wasn’t exactly “steeped in hip-hop.”

Testimony begins with “Testify,” an atonement of sorts. It sets the mood for the album (so-called real n**** s***” sung over strip-club-friendly production) and acts as Alsina’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro. But, after lofty expectations from the intro, the album stays in neutral for a lot of the sixty-one-or-so minutes it exists. It doesn’t steer too far from familiar topics and doesn’t really offer that much more insight into this young man’s life. Essentially, if you’ve heard Tha Product or its sequel you’ll have heard this album. That’s not to say it’s not worth a listen. It’s a solid full-length debut and he’s improving in his songwriting…and not relying on four-letter-words to get his point across all the time. Just don’t expect anything “brand new.” I still recommend you check it out though, especially the Pusha T-assisted “FML.”

(Album stream is the edited deluxe version on Spotify.)

 

On another note, of course, it’s the 20-year-anniversary of Illmatic, the GAWD CD. I’ve nothing to say about this except, if you’ve never heard this CD and call yourself a rap fan, I feel ashamed for you and your family. The XX edition features some remixes of the original album (mainly three remixes of “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”) and is pretty cool to see this CD hasn’t exactly aged horribly, as even the boombap feel has started to come back (thank you Joey Bada$$ and more). I think it’s safe to say that Nas has not–and will not–lose with this one. If you put out an album that’s still heralded as a classic twenty years later–and still inspires artists to drop some bars (shameless plug), you win.

(Album stream below is NSFW; edited version not available on Spotify at the moment)

 

To stream Future’s new album Honest courtesy of MTV.com simply click the album cover art below. Unfortunately it is unsafe for listening on your office speakers, so you may want to plug those headphones in if you’re at work. The album is surprisingly good. Although, as with Alsina’s album there isn’t much new ground broken, but it keeps you intrigued. I mentioned this on Twitter, but Future’s Dungeon Family heritage is starting to shine through with this one, as it’s a great mix between turn-up anthems, lover-man Auto-Tune rap-sung songs (although “I Won” is a bit too pandering for my taste) and hood stories. In some ways, it complements Alsina’s Testimony perfectly, as one tells the story of the young man trying to make it (Testimony), the other tells the story of the older man who’s already made it, but still sees the world as ripe for the picking (Honest).

vibe-future-honest-cover

Wow, three thumbs up in one week. Either I’m losing my touch or music’s starting to just get better.

Until next time.

-Speed on the Beat


nas-bye-baby-video-600x450

Our topic in hip-hop this week is Nas and the belief that he’s, to put it lightly, a perennial loser at life. I got the idea, admittedly, from a recent post on HipHopDX on Nas’ opinions on “tanning” in hip-hop (that’s another post entirely) and the way commentators tried to eat him alive. I never thought someone who:

*has been nominated for several Grammy Awards (though he’s never won one)
*has gone platinum on several albums (though none after 2002’s God’s Son)
*has battled Jay Z and lived musically to tell about it (even though, y’know, Nas hasn’t gone platinum since around the time of his beef with Jay–even with the critically acclaimed Hip-Hop is Dead album)
*has been in the game for twenty years–and doesn’t look too corny on stage and
*has one of the best hip-hop albums of the decade so far with Life is Good

would be considered a loser, but here we are.

For some reason, hip-hop commentators love to single out Nas for almost everything he does–and slap a big, fat “L” on it. That is not to be confused with hip-hop legend, the late Lamont “Big L” Coleman. Big L was never a loser, because he struck men quicker than lightning. But Nas? If you let the internet–and several blogs even named after jabs at Nas (such as, well, smartenupnas.com) tell it, Nas has as much luck as the Detroit Lions or the 2013 Houston Astros. But where does it all come from?

nas-lost

Byron “Bol” Crawford, an influence of mine, said in an interview for his book on the subject that Nas lost because of everything after Illmatic (shiny suits and crucifixes with Diddy, “Oochie Wally,” Kelis, not being featured in Def Jam: Icon as a playable character, etc.). Typing “why Nas lost” into Google treats you with a discussion from Boxden with Thirteen Points on Nas’ Losses. If they had one more, they could have matched Woodrow Wilson’s reasons for why World War I was good and bad for…the world. Granted, Wilson called for peace and the internet seemingly calls for Nasir’s head every time he opens his mouth, but you get the idea.

There are a few reasons why he can be seen as a loser that I, personally, could ascribe to (if I were in Camp Nas-Lost-A-Lot).

First, let us discuss his constant “switched demeanor” (I know that bar referred to Mobb Deep. Don’t try to troll the untrollable) and bouncing between revolutionary Nas, street Nas and “let’s make songs for the club” Nas. However, let’s take a look at pretty much every memorable hip-hop artist, even Immortal Technique to a degree. GOOD artists don’t/can’t stick on the same subjects for the length of their careers, lest they become Soulja Boy (Sorry, Boi-1da.net fam; Soulja is still pretty one-trick to me. He’s made some decent songs, but most of his verses still revolve around swag) or someone. Even LL doesn’t just rhyme (lyrics to both songs NSFW) about getting women and their undergarments in a bunch, even if that’s what he’s known for (that and also being punchline fodder for perceived missteps; that’s another post as well).

Plus this is one of the only non-shirtless LL photos I could find.

Plus this is one of the only non-shirtless LL photos I could find when searching “LL Cool J and Nas” on the Google.

For others? It may be the fact that, after everything was said and done with the Jay beef, he eventually worked with–and under Jay. But, let’s be real here. The average rapper, regardless of how “conscious” and against the system they are, they’d rather be signed to a major label than do what I do and release everything–and I mean everything–independently. Note, of course, that I said “average,” because there are rappers that prefer the DIY method. As much as I sometimes dislike saying this, if you want your message to be heard, sometimes you need to go mainstream then lure them back into the “realness.” Or, at the least, get mainstream’s help.

Hi Macklemore.

Others still could even argue that Nas loses because he had one undeniably “classic” album, Illmatic. At under 40 minutes, it did what most albums these days can’t do in twice that time.

"It ain't hard to tell..."

“It ain’t hard to tell…”

Keep in mind that most of these grievances, especially this one, are also brought up in Jay Z’s “Takeover.” “Takeover,” in some ways, acted as a launchpad for anti-Nas sentiments shared by some of my hip-hop blogging/commentating contemporaries. That doesn’t make ’em any less true, though. I am a Nas fan and I respect what he’s done for hip-hop. But, other than Illmatic, Nas often comes up with stellar concepts (HHiD, the N-Word/Untitled album, his double CD, even Life is Good to a degree) that tend to fail to deliver on their promises in some way that ends up damaging the album. For the purposes of this conversation, let’s look at Life is Good.

015

Life is Good saw the return of Illmatic-era Nas (obviously older and more worn). It featured boombap beats, soul samples, Swizz Beatz, Noah “40” Shebib drums, and Amy Winehouse. It was a great album. It was a summertime banger. It still gets played in my phone from time to time. But saying it’s the rap version of Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear? That is a bit off-the-mark. For starters, while both albums deal with musical icons after divorce, HMD showcased Marvin’s pain, anger and confusion regarding his divorce proceedings with Anna Gordy. LiG touches on the disintegration of Nas’ marriage in a few spots. One of those, of course, is the cover. Secondly, HMD is, in some ways, the culmination of all of Marvin Gaye’s different musical–and personal–entities over his career. He showcases the broken heart, the burgeoning/potentially recovering addict, the confused star-crossed lover, and the revolutionary all in one. Nas, on the other hand, showcases a little introspective thought toward his career and his situation(s). Throughout most of the album, he’s telling stories. But he’s not telling his story.

Essentially, Nas is the street poet. He’s the voice of the generation. He’s one of the God Emcees. But, twenty years in, he still often shuts listeners out of his own life. To me, this is one of his fallacies. I’m not saying everyone has to talk about shooting everyone else. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I mean that Nas is a great artist and a vivid photographer of inner-city life. But, he (often) doesn’t allow anyone to turn the camera around on him and that tarnishes his legacy in a sense. So, all in all, Nas should not be considered a loser, per se. Never that. However, he can–and rightfully should–be considered an artist that still doesn’t give everything that he should artistically, as he’d rather present scatterbrained efforts that attempt to tell everyone’s story.

And besides, he’s lasted longer than most “Nas Lost” commentators could in music. That’s got to be worth something, right?

(Editor’s Note/Disclaimer: I’ve attempted to address a problem/concern in the hip-hop community–hence the title putting emphasis on the “WHY,” not the entire question. I’m asking–and attempt to answer the following: Even with his follies, why can/should the man be considered a loser? This is not a post on why he IS a loser? I hope you’ve read through, taken away points, and begin to form your own opinions. Also, I ask that you don’t take to insults and baseless accusations just because I’m speaking on something “uncomfortable.” We’re all adults here; name-calling is juvenile. If you’ve an opinion on what I’ve written, please spark a dialogue with me. I’m not afraid to be told I’m “wrong,” as long as there’s proof with it. Finally, let me reiterate the following: I am a fan of Nas’ music and what he’s done for hip-hop. So, my comments are not based in “hate” of Nas, but more of an analysis of his music and the “facts” presented. Thank you for reading and peace be with you.)

(For part one, click here. This is also probably a post Lord Jamar won’t like. Or maybe he will. I don’t know. )

eminem_zps67e24207Once upon a time, a man named Marshall with drug, drinking, and daddy issues (not to mention mommy issues) became a rapper named Eminem who made women swoon by rapping about doing horrible things to them and their families. The “white honky devil” (his words, not mine) made a killing in hip-hop, almost Elvis-like with his approach–except Eminem was better than some of his black counterparts. Elvis, in my opinion, was never better than any of his contemporaries. But, that’s another rant for another time entirely.

Ever the equal opportunity offender, everyone became target practice. Well, almost everyone. You’re not going to hear him rap tongue-in-cheek about, say, Trayvon Martin. He’s a “devil,” but not completely stupid–or Rick Ross. Anyhow, fast forward to today, the day after the world ended. To those not named Stan, I’m referring to the day that Em’s MMLP2 dropped. As an Eminem fan, I’m happy that he’s still alive from the whole addiction thing. Secondly, I give his music a chance before I completely say that his stuff sucks. Therefore, my thoughts on “Love Game” and the like from Part One of “The Death of Marshall” weren’t just for unwarranted shock value.

(This is the uncensored deluxe edition of the album)

 

Marshall "Eminem" Mathers in 2013, ESPN

Marshall “Eminem” Mathers in 2013, ESPN

But, here? It looks like my initial thoughts were halfway warranted. I hoped that Em and his camp learned from the mistakes of Recovery. Taking everything that’s made the past couple Eminem albums almost un-listenable (kind of corny similesdouble-time flows with no real reason, pop-friendly hooks/beats/lyrics/messages, dated pop culture references, songs with a million words in them with over 9000 fan-made meanings, but really no real meaning, etc.), Eminem here has created an album that will face a Yeezus type of hype.

The first few weeks, we’ll hear everyone say that it’s GOAT-caliber, then after that? Nothing, aside from uber-fans having eargasms over it and ignoring everything else, saying that anything other than MMLP2 means you love Future songs. Sidenote, that new Future/Miley/Mr. Hudson song isn’t my cup of hot tea, per se. But, it could put Future (even more so) in the ears of those that listen to Top 40 pop-rap and stuff. So, just as a forewarning. If you don’t like Future, you’ll probably have to deal with him in a Flo Rida/Pitbull sort of way for a bit.

Macklemore sez: "I influenced Eminem? Time to pop some tags!"

Macklemore sez: “I influenced Eminem? Time to pop some tags!”

Cynicism (and naked Alien-Miley) aside, MMLP2 lacks a lot of the plot development Eminem songs were once known for, instead opting to go over 9000 words per second. The album does have some highlights, such as the “Cleaning Out My Closet”-like “Headlights,” which almost sounds as if Marshall took a page from that other popular white rapper of today. Except, you know, Eminem uses that page to talk about his parental issues, not same-sex love and his happiness about his two uncles. The second standout track for me is the Jamie N Commons-aided “Desperation,” mostly because it’s the closest Eminem has come to going completely Kid Rock to date. It’s bluesy and embraces Eminem’s self-professed “White Trash Party” roots in a way unseen in his music thus far.

stanAnother highlight, in my opinion is Stan: Part Two–I mean, the intro track “Bad Guy.” This song deserves a segment of its own. Now, technically, it’s part three of the Stan saga. But, that’s only if you count Tunechi Tuna Fish‘s spin-off song “Anne.” And, most people don’t. At all. Ever. The song is almost worth a portion of the price of admission, just because it answers a lot of questions regarding the wax-made mythos of Eminem–and some of his real-life issues. If you’ve never listened to an Eminem song, but want a good starting point, “Bad Guy,” in my opinion is for you. It talks about literally everything you could want to know about the journey he’s taken since starting his career.

But, for every “Bad Guy,” we get a “Love Game.” For every “Monster”–which for what it is, is at least better than “Love Game” and “Not Afraid” from Recovery–we get “Beautiful Pain.” Now, “Beautiful Pain” isn’t a bad song per se. Sia’s vocals are hauntingly beautiful, but after “Monster,” “Love the Way You Lie,” “Space Bound,” and so on, it’s overkill. And overkill, as mentioned, is an overdone problem in this potentially overrated album.

So, in short, Marshall’s dead (maybe for good this time). And while this album wasn’t as stripper sweat as I thought it’d be, its good moments are outweighed by its bad-to-meh moments. If you’re an Eminem fan, you’ll either love it, be saddened by the decline, or just say “…at least it’s not Relapse.”

Matthew Mitchell: He's just as off as Stan, and with good reason.

One last note, be sure to check out my brother True God’s efforts to expand the #TeamDAR brand. While I try to keep my own endeavors out of the pages of Thee Arteest, only because I don’t want to abuse it, True’s efforts not only revolve around building a brand. They are also focused on keeping his family together and promoting change in the world. Check it out.

#TeamDAR: Moving the Movement and Making A Change — Indiegogo

Ok, guess who’s bizzack, even though you can’t smell the crack on my clothes. Nor do I have to relapse on hoes. Thankfully, of course. That’d just be messy. It’s the No-Fi King back with another edition of This Week in Hip-Hop on Thee Arteest!

In the same week that Diddy says that hip-hop’s gotten too soft, Ja Rule talks about his love of prison cheesecake. No, that’s not some sort of euphemism. He really made cheesecake in prison. The game done changed, Sean. People don’t want to see gangstas or “hard” music. Hell, they barely want to see artists go at each other. People’ll say they do (see: “Control”), but when the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan, the internets go crazy for a bit and no one else really responds (or if they do, they don’t come correct). For instance, with “Control” and that TDE Cypher, they’ve got people hyped up–for now. Most artists have forgotten about “Control” as, while it said a lot, it still didn’t say much–in a long-term sort of way. Inversely, and I’m not championing the kid, but someone like a Chief Keef comes out talking about “bang-bang kill kill” and people are ready to call him the scourge of the earth. But, wait! I thought that’s what you wanted, more “realism” to counter the backpackers and such.

lupe-krit

Anyhow, before I have to take this to my own blog, looks like Lupe’s going to get some Cadillatica for his new album. Big K.R.I.T is slated to appear (in some way) on Lu’s Tetsuo and Youth. Now, long-time followers of me know that I have my reservations about Lupe, but this could very well be a dope combination–especially if K.R.I.T actually spits on the track as well as produces it. Now, some of you may ask, “Weren’t KRIT and Lu on the same song before?” No. As far as I know, and as far as The Google’s told me, they appeared on separate versions of Trae’s “I’m On,” but not on the same song (aside from some random Soundcloud remixes).

Suffering from Success, or “How I Made the Same CD Twenty Times”

DJ Khaled has released another monstrocity I mean hellacious I mean weedpl–OK, you know what? They say if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it. DJ Khaled released another CD this week. If you liked his other work, you’ll probably still find something on this one you like–unless you’re tired of hearing the same people do the same song for the umpteenth time. If you grew tired of his mixtape-albums back before LeBron won a championship, then you should stay away. Stay far away. I know, “Speed hates Khaled but loves Jean Grae’s album. He’s such a snob.” No, I’m just a fan of good music. Khaled and his team have been doing, legitimately, the same song since I was in high school. I don’t care if the song’s talking about guns and butter, the socioeconomic decline of middle-class Black America, or watching a stripper do pole tricks. Just make it good, and I’ll give it a chance. That’s all I ask of music, is that it actually try to be good. Even if it fails, even if it sounds more no-fi than anything I’ve put out, even if it flops–just try. That’s what gets me about the Khaled album-tapes. There’s no sort of effort anymore to even try to make it good.

Well, I’m out until next time. Hopefully, this time next week I can actually be on a full episode of #TeamDARRadio.

Written by: Michele Amira Pinczuk

Edited and co-written by: Arteest

Welcome to the first list of its kind – the top “DC chillin,” “VA chillin” and “Moco chillin” MCs. Selection for this Hip-Hop hot list is based on mixtape quality, swag as an MC, and poetic justice in the content of their songs. OMG! This is some serious DMV MC geography! The MCs on this list have all put out thebomb.com mixtapes in 2013 and many of them have been featured on each others mixtape at some point. Although Go-Go had long eclipsed our local music scene, these five talented artists are proving why Hip-Hop is becoming a permanent fixture in the DMV.

1. Wale – Hot Track: Bad feat Tiara Thomas

This Maybach Music MC is bringing the DMV to the forefront of Hip-Hop. Although he is a member of Maybach Music Group, his flow and sound are more like Black Hippy with Soul Train sounding hooks over hipster hot instrumentals. His most recent album, The Gifted has hits like “Bad” featuring Tiara Thomas sporting hooks that are smooth like tahina and reminiscent of Kanye West’s College Dropout. As a DMV born Hip-Hop heeb (hipster term for Jewish), I personally love his mixtapes More About Nothing and The Mixtape About Nothing, sampling Seinfeld on nearly every track, which makes me want to plotz (to burst, as from laughter in Yiddish).

Sidenote: A few years ago he started The Board Administration, a DMV-based record company that gets hype for go-go bands and puts out the latest Black Cobain and Wale mixtapes.

2.  Tabi Bonney – Hot Track: One More Time feat Phil Ade

Tabi Bonney is the DMV’s Andre 3000. He puts the funk in his DC based Hip-Hop with tracks off his mixtape like “She Parties”, “One More Time” and “Need a Girl”, featuring go-go band TCB. Bonney needs more hype than he has in the game. He marches to the beat of his own mixtape, which is deserving of a lot more airtime.

3. Black Cobain – Hot Track: Glorious

With the swagger of a hustler and the namesake of Kurt Cobain, Black Cobain is on the come up. His latest mixtape contains tracks like “Shootas” with a hot dance hall vibe, while on tracks like “Glorious” his flow is reminiscent of Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up.”

Sidenote: He is an artist on Wale’s The Board Administration imprint.

4. Phil Ade – Hot Track: Every Bag

On Phil Ade’s newest Tupac inspired mixtape, he said he “made it cool to be from Maryland.” Ade isn’t new to the game, but he’s always bringing the “new new” to the game even with his 2013 summer swag mixtape R.O.S.E.

5.  Shy Glizzy – Hot Track: If I Want To 

Shy’s nasal voice, sing-song swag and chill gangsta flow is creating hype in the DMV Hip-Hop scene. After he jumped into a twitter feud with Chief Keef, his recognition skyrocketed by releasing the Chief Keef diss “3 Milli“. This track has garnered close to two million YouTube views since its release in May of 2012. Much like 50 Cent in his hustler years, Shy is a hustler and has been creating hype by getting into beefs. Shy might be using the Ari Gold (Entourage) / Kanye West mantra of “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. He “is ’bout that life.” His track “Southside” featuring fellow DMV MC Wale has garnered some radio play in the DMV as well. One thing is for certain, this hipster is on the come up and on his way to making more moves in the world that is Hip-Hop.

Follow Michele Amira on Twitter: @NiceJewishSwag


This week in music has kind of been like this. And I’m a huge Daniel Bryan mark. Better things will come, I hope.

It’s me, it’s me. It’s the guy you probably love to dislike to a certain degree, Speed on the Beat back with another exciting (perhaps) entry on This Week in Music. It’s a doozy of Chris Brown-Pinky proportions (link features some Pinky twerking and stuff)–if that’s your sort of thing. Pinky’s body goes from halfway skinny to hyper-thick to losing control (in either direction) randomly. Here’s one of the only safe-for-work photos I could find. It (obviously) doesn’t show the body.

Anyway–before Arteest revokes my contributor status for rambling about pornstars (I’ve always been more of an Aurora Jolie fan myself)–Paris Hilton has released the CDQ version of her surefire Grammy hit Kim Zolziac-esque “Good Time” featuring Weezy F. CoochieMonster (and the F is for “no one really effin’ cares anymore”). The song sounds like what you’d expect, so pretty much the same song we heard in 2011–Top 40 EDM-influenced pop–but now with a Tunechi Tunechi Tuna Fish verse that refers to having sex in a myriad of ways. Just like their other collaborations. At least we get to see Paris in a bikini. That’s still a thing, right?


Anyone? No? Ok, then. Moving on.

The “Cousin Terio” meme seems to not be going away, at least if HipHopDX-featured song “Ooh Kill ‘Em” by J-Doe has anything to say about it.  As much as I probably shouldn’t like this song–y’know, because I blog about music, therefore I must be some sort of music snob–it’s goofy as hell, brain-rotting, but infectious. I think it works better in a “why so serious?” way versus Meek’s use of the meme.

MA$€ (I assume that the Euro is to show that he’s international and trendy–or something) seems to be pissed (potentially rightfully so) over this track. I don’t know what’s worse–the bastardization of the legacy of Biggie and Pac, or this convoluted mess of a song? Personally, I’ve got to say that the song itself is worse. For starters, you’ve got Swizz Beatz and Diddy ad-libbing through the whole damn thing like this is something from 1999. The beat knocks, drums-wise, but it sounds like your typical MMG beat.

For all the “backpackers,” Papoose decided to hop on that song that’ll make Lorde rich, but she’ll probably denounce when she’s 25 as some sort of label BS and go all Miley Cyrus on people, “Royals.” The song won’t go away, nor will Papoose. Thanks Kendrick, for making him relavant enough to post on DX again. No, that’s not “shade.” I’m serious. Believe it or not, I rock with some of Papoose’s stuff.

Aside from that Nipsey Hussle tape, we have new album/mixtape releases from Danny Brown (shoutout to The Diamondback for the review, so I wouldn’t have to. #Terping), Killa Cam, and Game. So, there’s something for everyone.

And finally, in our indie/not exactly mainstream spotlight of the week, we’ve got Baltimore Club (sorry, I’m from B’more originally. Club music will almost be referred to by me as “Baltimore Club,” even if it’s Jersey Club. No disrespect intended; it’s just a force of habit) producer DJ KMillz. Listen to his “All Me” Jersey Club and his “I Be on It” Jersey Club mixes, especially.

Here’s hoping next week goes like this, I mean the Stone Cold aspect of it…:

Ok, before you go off calling me a hater, I just want to forewarn you that I actually do usually like Drake‘s music and have been listening to his sound evolve since his first mixtape Room For Improvement. With that said, I’m not too fond of three of his four latest singles: “5 AM in Toronto“, “No New Friends” and “Girls Love Beyoncé“. The mediocre beat combined with Drake’s lackluster monotone rhyming in “5 Am in Toronto” makes for a less-than-memorable musical experience.  Although the tagline to his recent release of “No New Friends” is sure to replace his so very annoying 2012 motto YOLO (You Only Live Once), Drake’s verse is sub-par and his harmonizing “No New Friends No No New” repeatedly is honestly quite annoying. On the bright side the production doesn’t fail and Rick Ross owns the beat and does the song a little justice so it isn’t a total bust. Moving on to the main song of discussion: “Girls Love Beyoncé”. At this point we all know that Drake loves r&b. If his freaky obsession with Aaliyah didn’t tell you, his constant attempt at singing on his songs should. It is this failing singing attempt combined with the semi-depressing lyrics of the song and the buzzwordy title that makes me dislike everything about “Girls Love Beyoncé.” I’m sure that just as girls love Beyoncé they will love this song because it speaks about a lot of emotional want-to-be-in-a-relationship mumbo jumbo that so many women on twitter tweet/complain/obsess about. And I’m certain they are his key demographic and the inspiration for writing the song. I mean, even Drake said it himself at some point, he does it for his b*tches. (Yes, he uses the B-word in his music…quite often actually.) But, as a true hip-hop enthusiast I think I am just tired of his constant singing efforts. He should just leave the singing to James Fauntleroy and stay in his rapping lane.

untitled

It also doesn’t help to think that this song is gimmicky and honestly, inartistic. Naming a song “Girls Love Beyoncé”and then not even mentioning the icon in the song or explaining why girls do, is like me picking a buzzwordy or controversial title for a blog post and not elaborating on it. It’s meant to draw people in and I feel like at this stage of his career he doesn’t need to do that. His name alone should speak for itself. But, I guess he’s just following the lead of his attention whoring muse Beyoncé, a woman who is at the plateau of her career, making insane amounts of money and highly revered by some of the most influential people in the world, yet she still dances half-naked at every opportunity she can and continues to sell sex and her appearance more than her talent. (In my opinion). With all of that said, on the positive side, the song is catchy as hell due to the fact the hook is taken from a Destiny’s Child song that all of us already know, James Fauntleroy’s great harmonizing on the hook and the beat is just one of those beats that gets stuck in your head. My final word of the song is that it isn’t terribly dreadful, but it isn’t amazingly artistic either and it makes me wonder how his junior album “Nothing Was The Same” will fare when it is released later this year. But, don’t just take my word on this song. Click the YouTube video below and rate it for yourself. And as always let me know what you think. Am I being too harsh? Too judgemental? Or am I telling it like it is?

A great “Girls Love Beyonce” guitar remix cover

Click this to hear a Great Chopped & Screwed version of “Girls Love Beyonce”