Posts Tagged ‘DMV Music’

From the Icon himself:

Now I’m sure you don’t wanna hear a boring ass write up or something from anyone else explaining this project besides me so I’ll give you exactly what you want… 2007 I took a leap of faith and decided that I was gonna pursue music full-time with little to no experience in the music business. My goals have been to connect with teens like me who’ve been abused (physically & sexually) and give them inspiration by showing them that no matter how rough life can be, you can channel your energy into something that is positive and prosper. Over the past few years I’ve release[d] a number of projects that represent different stages in my life reflecting on what I’ve experienced and ICON is no different…” (Nike Nando)

SNN_ILOTF_ARTWORK

Nike Nando – ICON: Lord Of The Flyy
Tracklist:
1. Kingdom [Prod. Drew Beats]
2. Super Nike Nando II [Prod. Nike Nando]
3. Glow (Feat. Cayan) [Prod. Drew Beats]
4. Put Me On [Prod. Nike Nando]
5. Majin Vageta [Prod. Johnny Juliano]
6. The Low Down [Prod. NightRyder]
7. Caught In Lust (Feat. Dugee F. Buller) [Skit]
8. You Don’t Own Me [Prod. Sparkz Beats]
9. StarFox [Prod. Nike Nando]
10. Luh Me Doe (Feat. Rolls Royce Rizzy)
11. Hillfiger (Feat. Cayan)
12. M.O.B. [Prod. DeuceTheMusic]
13. What It Takes (Feat. Prince Akeem & Valleo) [Prod. Friendzone]
14. There She Go (Feat. Robbie Celeste) [Prod. Robbie Celeste]
15. Story Of My Life (Feat. Pop Smoothe) [Prod. Just Misfit]
 
Executive Producer(s)
Nike Nando x DeuceTheMusic
[Audiomack]
[Livemixtapes]
Social Media
Follow Nike Nando on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube!

 

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.

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Why Wale? This is a question I ask myself every time I hear something negative in hip-hop news regarding Wale. I mean, the guy isn’t exactly a gangster rapper, so why do people continuously tempt him to push wigs back or what-have-you? Why does Twitter love to troll Wale? Why does most of the DMV throw salt his way whenever he speaks? The following include some theories on “Why Wale?”, as in “why is Wale a target for so many?”

1) He’s been dubbed as being from D.C., but isn’t exactly a D.C. native.

Let’s start off with the “obvious” one. Wale, when he was first getting buzz, was credited as being from D.C., but attended school in PG County, Montgomery County, and so on. This, like many artists from the DMV (Bossman, Logic, Fat Trel to an extent, most go-go bands, etc.) is more a fault of publications not knowing that the DMV is a diverse area. In other words, there’s more to the area than D.C. and Baltimore. Wale’s from Gaithersburg, he got some buzz in PG, he appropriated D.C.-centric music (go-go) to help create said buzz, and people (read again: reporters et al) decided that he was from the district. Granted, Wale, early on, did little to assuage this fallacy and correct it. For that, one can argue he’s a bit wrong. But, it’s not all on him–nor should it be.

2) Wale is outspoken, which leads to “s-s-s-s-shots fired.”

Aside from being a Seinfeld enthusiast, Wale is probably one of the most opinionated guys in hip-hop not named Speed on the Beat (shameless plug). These opinions, at times, rub people the wrong way. When you consider the many, many, many diss tracks that have been released over the years to Wale, you notice a trend. Many of these tracks revolve around, simply put, “he said, she said BS” that Wale might’ve said to someone or someone might’ve said to him or about him. Few of these beefs have legitimate reasons behind them. By legitimate, I’m talking more “business” reasons, and let’s just leave it at that. I’m not a beefmonger.

3) Wale is outspoken, which leads to people trying to get to him.

Wale’s name and image is cannon fodder to trolls and gossip sites. From linking him to Ka–I mean “La Reina” to provoking him to almost pop off on some dude at a WWE show in D.C., people love to push his buttons. It’s probably because he’s an outspoken guy and lets everything said about him get to him in some way. In some ways, it seems as if he’s got a “me against the world” complex. I’m just speculating, guys. Don’t send the goon squad.

Wale’s got to learn to let cooler heads prevail. He’d probably avoid some of the strife he receives if he learned to chill. Wale, people know you love to voice your opinion. People will use that against you if it means they get to brag to their friends that they were the one(s) that pissed Wale off and got him to rant on something. Heck, look at The Gifted‘s intro. The guy on there started off as a Wale troll. Wale got wind of it and, in a moment of self-parody, decided to include the guy on his intro. If Wale is able to do that more often, trolls and such wouldn’t be as quick to go off on him. Unless, of course, Wale loves to troll the trolls by acting upset.

#ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm.

Now, Wale, as a human being, has the right to respond to negative vibes. I just wish he’d not resort to responding every time.

4) Wale doesn’t put everyone on from the DMV.

Let’s be honest here. If you’re in the DMV, chances are, you’ll run into someone trying to rap/sing/produce/model/what-the-[bleep]-ever. With that said, it’s flat-out impossible for one man to put an entire city on his back, regardless of what rappers tell you. It’s even more impossible when that one man, again, isn’t exactly from the city people want him to put on his back. In this case, I’m taken back to a Jay Z line from the track “Do U Wanna Ride” from Kingdom Come.

“I put my [ninjas] on, my [ninjas] put their [ninjas] on…”

Translation: you can’t depend on every person from your area to help you out. If I did that, shoot, I’d still be waiting on K-Swift to play J dot Speed songs in her mixes in heaven. Artists, if you want to get on, you’ve got to, nine times out of ten, get yourself on. Not everyone can, will, or is obligated to, help you do that.

5) Some believe he looks at himself as the “best in the world” (no CM Punk).

If you’re good at something, you should be proud of it. Granted, “being proud” shouldn’t include getting ready to spaz on Complex editors because they didn’t include you in their top-50 list, but you should be proud of what you do. Some don’t like that, possibly because they’ve failed in some way, and will dedicate their lives to pushing the buttons of those who’ve done something (goes back to #3).

The list goes on, but I’ll stop at five because I’d rather not take up too much space/time.

It can be argued that Mr. Ralph Folarin brings some of this stuff upon himself because of his temperament. He’s a guy that, if carried, will try to joan on someone twice as hard. In some ways, the relationship between Wale and his victims/trolls is symbiotic in nature. They troll him, he trolls back, someone gets angry, then the figurative shots are fired. I wouldn’t suggest he’s doing it because he’s “sensitive” or whatever. It’s more of a “damn, maybe I’ve said too much” situation sometimes. But, as is the case with social media, once it’s out there, it’s usually out there to stay. So, because it’s out there, someone will continue to press the issue, until it gets out of hand. In short, it’s more than likely that Wale’s “rampages” and so-on are brought on by his (over?)use of social media, his outspoken nature (including to people who are just as, if not more, outspoken), and the fact that trolls love to push buttons. Combine all three and you’ve got a perfect storm of [tomfoolery].

So, why Wale? In the end, it becomes not a question of why, but why not?

Until next time and my apologies for potentially rambling,

Speed on the Beat

(Apologies in advance for potentially tooting my own horn)

“Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first…”

In celebration (I think) of one of my newest tracks released from Death of the King, the Daniel Bryan-shoutout-heavy “Do Better,” (lyrics NSFW) and the BIG K.R.I.T.-helmed “Week of K.R.I.T.” I started thinking about my first (recorded and distributed rap) song. Quite frankly, I have only one way to describe it.

It sucked. Hard.

Many artists, they will hold that first song in such a high regard, even if it was horrible? Me, being the perfectionist I am. I used to pray night and day that I could forget that first song. It was a simple enough sort of thing. At 15 or 16, I decided to start rapping after doing the singing thing for a while (gaining and losing deals in the process for a myriad of reasons). I had a crush on a girl by the name of Treeka (yes, the Treeka mentioned in, and shares a name with, my song “#TREEKA”). I wanted to make a song about the whole thing. So, I wrote some gobbledygook lyrics to the “Song Cry” instrumental (See, that Jay quote in the beginning comes back up) and decided to record them.

“I used to liken you Kim to my Eminem…/But we weren’t a couple, not now, not then” is how it started out. And from there, it just descended into a sad sack of 48 bars of wallowing in teenage self-pity of a chick I couldn’t seal the deal with. If you’ve never heard this song, thank your lucky stars. The track was atrocious, but it allowed me a slew of feedback (although breath control still manages to creep in from time to time; I blame my body’s make-up), some internet buzz (back in the early-to-mid-2000s, “emo rap” began to pave the way for the Drakes of the world, as it showed that not every artist had to be “bodying n****z” and all that jazz), and even some buzz. For a split second, I became akin to the William Hung of Internet Hip-Hop.

No disrespect to William, but no one wants to be The William Hung of Anything, even though he made his mark (and kind of trolled music while he existed in it). I wanted to be taken seriously, even if hip-hop wasn’t exactly my career path. So, I took all that advice I’d received and started cranking out songs that were, at the least, vast improvements on “Treeka Song Cry” or whatever-the-heck it was called. One of which, a “tribute song” for my high school’s graduating class over the “Roc Cafe” instrumental, acted as a very unofficial theme for our class (song’s lyrics–specifically the intro–are somewhat NSFW). After that? Well, the rest was history. I became known as “J dot Speed,” then “King Leon,” then (hopefully) finally, Speed on the Beat. If it weren’t for that horrid Treeka-pining song way back in the day, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today.

Hmmm…maybe I love my first song more than I let on.

As a bonus, check out Big K.R.I.T.’s latest #WeekOfKRIT track “Wolf On Wallstreet” (lyrics are NSFW, but it’s still a VERY solid track; K.R.I.T., in my mind, does no wrong)

Until next time…and I promise I won’t always talk about myself.

-Speed

Greetings and saliva, folks.

Hope your hangovers are recovered and your ready for some real spit (see what I did there?), because it’s time for Speed’s Wishlist for Hip-Hop in the Upcoming Frame of Time.* I used to do these annually on one of my older blogs, but that site was lost in The Great AOL Disintegration of the Mid-2000s. So, without further ado, here are some talking points that, if followed, can only bring peace and awesomeness into the world of hip-hop.

First, can we stop trying to sound like Chief Keef, Future/Rich Homie Quan and/or Migos? I mean, come on! I get that music is one of those things that goes by the philosophy of more is better and “if it worked for them, it’ll damn sure work for me because I’m better and more real than them.” But, if I’ve got to sit through one more faux-sung, over-AutoTuned track about trapping, thots/t.h.o.t. (a word/acronym that must be sent to pasture–and soon), and the lot with that “Karate Chop” flow, I swear that I’m going to start throwing chairs. And we all know what happens when people throw chairs (Ed. Note: link contains a use of “the n-word”). Now, I can’t lie. If I’m in the club, and I’ve had a couple…ummm…sips of Sprite, I don’t want to hear Immortal Technique, Nas, or Lupe. Heck, I don’t even want to hear my music when I’m partying, so everything has its place. But, get out their lane, random up-and-coming rapper 217291.

Secondly, I’d love to hear a female rapper (sorry Jean Grae, there is still a socioeconomic need to differentiate between male and female rappers–even if I don’t necessarily agree with it) to drop bars without referring to their sex or referring to themselves as female dogs (keeping it PG here). I know that people try to “reclaim” words and re-purpose them as strong, pro-cause terms, but I still can’t see much too “awesome” about being a dog. Maybe I’m missing something.

Ya...don't say, Speed?

Eh…nah. (Had to bring this one into ’14)

Third, can we stop the Drake jokes? No, this one has nothing to do with some upcoming news I’ve got for everyone the fact that I’m also writing for Boi-1da.net now. It’s more so that the jokes are repetitive and dated. It’s like watching an episode of Two and a Half Men. On repeat. For a year. You can see how that may make a person go all Robot Chicken (Ed. Note: Viewer’s discretion is advised as this video is from the show Robot Chicken). Better yet, if we’re gonna do Drake jokes, it’s like watching Degrassi: The Next Generation for a year and only getting to watch the episode where Jimmy gets shot. Yes, I watch(ed) Degrassi. In high school, and oddly in college, it got me into some…great situations. Now, some people, like Big GhostFASE and the like, they made their name off calling out some of the more…ahem…emotive rappers out there, and that’s awesome. But, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to/can do it as effectively.

This. Must. Stop.

This. Must. Stop.

Fourth, can conscious rappers get off their high horses? If there’s one thing that gets my goat more than anything, it’s that sort of you-know-what. I mean, seriously! It’s bad enough when Fake Deep Twitter talks about stuff they don’t fully comprehend. It’s even worse when you’ve gotta listen to entire albums of that gobbledygook, which brings me to my next point.

DOUBLE SEGUE!

DOUBLE SEGUE!

Fifth, can rappers get back to, oh I don’t know, rapping?! Between Joe Budden giving out relationship advice, Lupe tweeting books, Kanye “ranting” but kind of making sense, and so on, I had a headache. We get it. You’re bored and have down time like regular people, so you want to do something random. That’s cool. That’s great, actually, if it’ll keep you out of jail. But I want more music, guys and girls. Get to that, then we can talk about your extracurriculars.

Sixth, and this one is kind of local. DMV artists, let’s try to make history by having a year where we all get along and don’t start beefing over “he said, she said” tomfoolery. Because honestly, almost no one outside the DMV knows who any of us are. Heck, people have found out more about Wale through who he’s wanted to punch in the mouth at Complex than his music. Let’s not even get started on the Baltimore hip-hop scene (and yes, there is one. And no, it doesn’t just have Baltimore Club Music heads in it). If we, as an area (and don’t give me that “I’m bigger than DMV” shtick when people in the DMV the block where you stay have no idea who you are), can actually put our heads together, get off our self-imposed ego trips and actually make, oh I don’t know, music…we’d get somewhere. Beef’s are a real part of life and not everyone will love everyone else, regardless of how much easier it’d make things. But, for the love of apple pie, at least try.

*changed from “year” on request of those that are in the “it’s just a year” camp. Even though, you’ve gotta admit: focusing on just one year is a bit corny.

Hear ye, hear ye!

The No-Fi King has an announcement for all to take into consideration. As this is potentially the last post of the year from me (Christmas is next week and the week after that is New Year’s Day), I’d like to first give a huge e-high five to Arteest for allowing me the chance to write on this blog–and reminding me that I can voice witty opinions without four-letter words. My mom can now read some of my thoughts…if she, you know, understood “that damn interwebnets” and/or had a computer.

She was born pre-Korean War.

Anywho, as promised, here are the winners and losers of 2013 (in hip-hop). Some of these choices will be controversial, some will probably get me death stares and/or threats when I walk in the street. But, let me remind you that if I’m thinking it, there are probably many others who are thinking the same doggone thing. Losers and winners are not exactly based off of lyrical content or anything–more so who’s had the worst year (or who had a great 2013, but will probably fail because of their 2013, if that makes sense). Also, my apologies for the male artist-skewed list.

Losers:

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2 Chainz: Say you’re a thirty-something rapper who’s had many setbacks but finally get on to a degree. You achieve success, fame, recognition–even have white people know who you are. And then, you go from being the guy who had a Comeback Season more fawned over than Blake Griffin’s, to a failed comeback by doing the following:
1) Being arrested in Maryland for drugs
2) Being arrested (again) for weed and promethazine
3) Being robbed near a “marijuana dispensary” in San Fran at gunpoint and becoming a laughingstock (note: being robbed itself is not funny, nor is violence. However, the video of this incident is just…sad)
4) Being pulled over for a traffic light–and then being cited for drugs and guns and…
5) Having an album drop and then having said album drop from peoples’ conscious almost a week after its release.
Now, Mr. T*** Two Necklace is still, obviously, doing his thing. But, these actions have most certainly placed him in the loser category.

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J. Cole: Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Cole went gold! How did he have a bad year?” Well, let’s see. His “response” to “The Almighty ‘Control’ Verse” was brushed off as being “in-character,” “Let Nas Down” was potentially one of the most pandering songs in the history of modern hip-hop–even though it does touch on absent father syndrome. On top of that, Cole’s album was forgotten about in a similar fashion as Chainz’s. Sure, he outsold Yeezus, for a bit. But, aside from “Crooked Smile,” most people probably couldn’t name a song off of Born Sinner unless they listened to the whole thing and/or were fans of Cole. I enjoyed the album, but I’m just stating facts. Plus, he seems to look like he’s about to break down and cry 9.68 times out of ten. But, I mean, he’s potentially getting married to his college sweetheart. For that, I’d typically move him to the winners’ section. But, overall, he’s taken quite a few L’s this year.

Wale-sad-2

Wale: Mr. Folarin, I want to say this in advance. I don’t think you are a bad person. I actually enjoy a lot of your music. Hell, “Dig Dug” was the first song I heard when I stepped on UMD’s campus, so your music was always a part of my young adulthood…and stuff. I do think, however, that you’ve allowed your ego to surpass your talent. It happens. Kanye is an example of this (we’ll get to him later). But, at least with Kanye, he’s got clout to back up his behaviors. You, at this point, don’t exactly have that same cushion to fall back on. That’s not me being a bitter indie artist or an overly-critical music blogger. Based on your catalog, mixtapes included, you have less room to go all “Phuket, Thailand” every time someone says something that upsets you.

With that said, where do we begin regarding your fails this year? Your hissy fit (and eventual self-depreciation) over the Complex article list where Juicy J’s album was declared better than yours? You (apparently) deactivating your Twitter after Sace f/k/a Southeast Slim got at you on “Forever Hitter Quitter?” The Gifted being, aside from 2-3 songs, inferior compared to Ambition? It seems this year, aside from bringing Fat Trel to MMG, Wale’s wins were supplemented by losses. And, honestly, it’s damn sad–not even because he’s a local dude (who maybe allowed part of his hometown story to be fabricated a bit), though. It’s because he doesn’t seem made for fame, but he still seemingly feels like he’s got an obligation to put out stuff. So, until he leaves the drug of success alone, we’ll have to deal with his antics just like our next loser–unless he grows a thicker skin. It’s imperative, Wale, for you to grow a thicker skin before this game eats you alive. But, before we get to the next on our list, I’ve got to give a giant F*** You to Complex for taking this whole thing and turning it into a “look at this ni black rapper guy, he’s making us scared so we’re going to belittle him even more than we already have” freak-show.

At least when I did it above, I still have hope that Wale could grow as a human (more on that later).

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Kanye West: Enough said. Save me the psychobabble, and the “he’s circumventing black thought through embracing white people” crap. The guy lost this year. Yeezus sucked. Nothing he did was profound. Get over it.

Hii-Fivver

The Return of the Hii-Fivver

People Who Thought Kendrick/Drake Would Grow Into A Large Beef: It’s almost 2014, people. Large-scale beefs don’t happen anymore. If they do, they’ll pretty much be limited to Twitter beef and a couple of “it could be a diss if you think about it hard enough” shots.

Gucci+Mane+Gucci

Gucci Mane: Umm…yeah. Gucci, I’m not a fan of yours, but I hope you’ve gotten your [stuff] together.

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Lorde: Now, this is probably going to turn some heads. First of all, I’m listing Lorde because whatever she does after this first album, it’ll forever be compared to the first time we were introduced to her (for most, this was “Royals”). It’s a similar situation with Lady Gaga. Critics (and some fans), however, always seem to go back to The Fame when looking at, for instance, Artpop. Granted, Artpop wasn’t epic, but it wasn’t Born this Way. Lorde will probably suffer from this more because, at seventeen, she was able to talk on some things (most) adult acts shy from–which brings me to my second point.

Secondly, Lorde’s made my list of losers of 2013 because when you really look at her work, it’s not all that profound or deep. It’s simple stuff that doesn’t address a problem, but glosses over it, opting more for catchiness and self-degradation. Let’s focus on the (now-overplayed) “Royals.” It comments on consumerism, the divide of New Zealand’s classes, and so on. But, what some may miss in Lorde is just as much a part of the problem that she’s speaking on as anything. To simply put it, she can sing, but the lyrical “depth” isn’t worth anything. My almost three-year-old was able to, in preschool-speak, decipher the meaning behind it. Put away the pitchforks, people. I’m just stating my opinion on her.

Honorable Mentions: Miley Cyrus (too easy) and R. Kelly (Seriously, Kellz. No one wants to hear you singing about how much you want to marry the…yeah…).

And now, for some winners:

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Beyoncé: She’s not exactly hip-hop, but she put out an album that’s–at the time I’m writing this–gold with no promotion, no buzz, and no sort of conventional use of her resources. She went all DIY indie rap artist (DOUBLE shameless plug) and dropped it randomly and told people to go get it. And, well, they did. Now, whether or not you think it’s really the “puppet masters” buying copies or not, the album did numbers that no album has on iTunes. That’s saying something about your win percentage right off the bat.

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Wale: How does Wale, a guy who I kind of ripped into earlier get a winner’s sticker as well? Well, rest assured, I wasn’t coerced into it (although I am, however, still waiting on my signed copy of Ambition) or anything crazy like that. He’s starting to, even with his “Wale Moments,” show (tiny increments of) growth, as mentioned above. The “I Got My Tool” Instagram showcases a lot more of the Wale that he doesn’t exactly show in his music. Perhaps if he did allow himself to have more fun musically, he’d be able to get more recognition/media attention. That’s not to say, “Hey Wale, make an album about selling coke and such,” but more a “hey Wale, everything doesn’t need to be so thought-provokingly serious all the time.” I mean, he’s still highly “sensitive,” but there seems to be hope. Plus, Wale has aided a couple DMV cats to gaining more mainstream recognition. Whether or not he could/should do more is another argument entirely, but more people know about, say, Fat Trel than they did last year.

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About ten years ago, this delusion would’ve been truth for most underground rappers. For some…it still is. We see you, but we will not say anything.

Indie rap: Call it the Macklemore Effect (ugh…and I say “ugh” because a few years ago, it would’ve been called the “Tech N9ne Effect,” but now “everyone” is heralding Macklemore as their unthreatening rap savior), but more people are starting to look outside the radio for good music. Not all indie rap is good, but at least with a variety, people can choose what works for them. Artists from Tech N9ne to yours truly have dropped projects this year and again, while the quality may sometimes lack the “big dog” feel, the heart’s still there. Gone are the days of the pasty nerdcore rapper and the wannabe thug on dial-up posting songs on Soundclick. Heck, gone are the days where people used Soundclick as their go-to for underground rap, but that’s neither here nor there really. Now? Indie rap is being taken quite seriously. You have indie artists appearing on “Top Ten” lists that aren’t just online.

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Big K.R.I.T: Sticking with the indie rap idea, KRIT’s King Remembered in Time album/mixtape was better than a lot of peoples’ albums. I consider it indie because, even though K.R.I.T has a deal with Def Jam and such, he put this one out on his own a la 2010’s K.R.I.T wuz Here and all but delivered a bona-fide sequel to that classic. Plus, K.R.I.T’s been getting around these days, with collaborations, touring with Talib Kweli and Macklemore, and just a slew of other stuff. I’d like to say that the sky’s the limit for Mr. Live from the Underground. If he continues, K.R.I.T could take over that Southern Wise Man spot left open by the departure of Pimp C and the reduced workload of Big Boi and Andre 3000. Either that or he’ll continue to just make good-a** music. Either way, we all win, and that’s what’s important.

[Safe for Work GIF Not Applicable, apparently]

Danny Brown: I’m not a huge fan of the guy, and I’m not really a fan of “let’s do drugs and do crazy [stuff] rap,” but Danny Brown deserves a win based off the fact that this guy’s been through hell (some of which, he admits, he caused himself).

Honorable Mentions: The Weeknd and the DMV music scene

And that, my friends, is how you do an end-of-year list. You take some good, some bad, some meh, and you actually think about what made each thing the way it is/was. Hopefully, I haven’t bored/offended any of you in the past few months I’ve been working with Arteest and the blog. If anything, I hope you’ve learned something, you’ve been entertained, and you’re able to grow from my mistakes, miscues, and thoughts. If I’ve bored or offended you, feel free to contact me on Twitter to rant and rave about it. Barring anything amazing happening, I’ll see you guys on New Year’s Day with my list of Hip-Hop Hopes For 2014. Same #TWIHH time (2PM EST), same #TWIHH station.

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Random sidebar: my mom worked at the Baltimore School of the Arts while Pac attended. She, apparently, thought he was headed for great danger if he didn’t change his ways.

You may remember him from his NycRapp video that debuted earlier this year, but Brain Rapp switches it up and showcases his solo flow on the Koja Nc produced single “Shine”. After months of performing and fine tuning his “Feels Good” project which debuted two months ago, Brain Rapp provides a visual for his mellow, laid back single by filming the entire video himself solely on an iPhone. I appreciate this song and the video because it takes us back to the core of what hip-hop is, low-cost artistry that tells an honest story through lyrics and captivating visuals. The fact the video was shot solely on an iPhone illustrates not just how far technology and music has come since the early stages of hip-hop, but also showcases Brain Rapp’s multiple talents as a writer, rapper, director, photographer, and editor. Other up-and-coming artists should take notes from this guy. He is living by the motto, “If you want something done right. Do it yourself.” And one thing is for certain, if Brain Rapp follows that motto throughout his career he will surely “Shine” for many years to come. Be sure to follow Brain Rapp on his social media: Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud and check out the video below!

“Shine” was the first single from Feels Good. Soon after its release I got the invite to perform at A3C. I wanted to shoot a video for it but I wanted to do something different. Instead of using the DSLR to shoot, I opted to make it more organic and shoot the whole thing on my iPhone. Using my first experience at A3C to tell the story of “Shine” was fitting because the song is all about gaining exposure, stepping into the spotlight, and letting people know that you belong there. – Brain Rapp

Happy (Day After) Cyber Hump Day. Looks like I’m pulling triple duty this week, with my usual TWIHH post and part three of the (Not-So) Social Media series over at SpeedontheBeat.com (Caution: Part Three of the series is highly NSFW. Viewer discretion is strongly advised). But, I hope you’ve gotten your fill of stuffing, turkey, ratchet beatdowns and Twitter thirsting after that one young’un chick who seems/seemed catfishy is supposedly from the University of Maryland that had people in a tizzy about a week or so back (Hi Reyna).

Apparently, this is the safest for work photo existing

Apparently, this is the safest for work photo existing of her.

For this one, I’d like to go a bit personal and talk a bit about an event that impacted me and my approach to music. Yes, for those who forgot, I also do record and produce music under this lovely little moniker.

During my early years at UMD, I wasn’t DK, Dee Redd, Eyedeal or any of them. I was little ol’ J dot Speed, the kid that popped up randomly at Juke Joint, performed, then left to do sociology homework at McKeldin. Like a ninja, I came on stage, killed it, then stealthily sneaked out (except when I didn’t and made a complete fool of myself, but that’s how I learn). I wasn’t in it for fame or money or anything. I just had good music, and I wanted to share it. Even though I found a couple of gems in that year, I wasn’t even trying to be a talent head hunter.

I had less studio options than I do now. So most of the time I’d write something down in class, run back to Centerville 5 North, write “ON AIR” on our dry erase board, and record. Sometimes, I’d even have pow-wows with other artists, potentially trying to craft another song or a collabo. These collabos usually didn’t go anywhere, except for one time when my friend Dre and I decided to do a song together and perform it at Juke Joint. These were magic times for me. I mean, even after the fact that I’d been signed a few times growing up, I was still able to find joy, peace, and harmony in music. I was able to voice opinions I held dormant with music. I was able to speak to the world and heal it through my glitchy, uber-no-fi songs. I was able to make nothing but friends through it all.

Until everything went south.

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Ikey (left) with J-Roc at Maryland Day 2007

While working on that Dre/Speed collabo, our mutual friend Ikey (yes, “Green Card” and “Coming to America” Ikey a/k/a Ike da Kid) was also working on projects with a friend, J-Roc. We’d all play our stuff to each other, and would perfect our respective segments and samples based on critiques. Now, somewhere in the midst of this, Ike and J-Roc performed a song entitled “Made Men” at Juke Joint. It had a line that went something like “My name is J-R, to the OC and I’m a boss, ballin’ up in the VIP.” I thought it was kind of cool, so I took the phrasing of the line to craft the following for a track entitled “I Got ‘Em”:

“My name is J-D, to the O-T/And son I’m a boss, what you supposed to be?”

I didn’t think anything of it (though I probably should have–look at Can-i-Bus and LL as an example of re-purposing lines starting beef), until I performed the song at what I like to call “Speed’s Maryland Day Meltdown.” At Maryland Day 2007, going on right after Ikey and J-Roc was me. So, here I was: 5’7, in a white Orioles fitted, shades–which I eventually beamed at someone in the audience, trying to be “cool”–capris, and a durag (Fashion Gods and Common Sense, forgive me) spitting lyrics. The first song I performed was “I Got ‘Em.”

Ike and J-Roc left the event after the first verse, and I got a couple of “ooohs,” but not of the “kill ’em” variety. Because of this performance, I’m pretty sure that I’m still banned from stepping foot near Stamp and McKeldin Mall during Maryland Day. I know I was barred from Juke Joint for a couple of performances. Walking back to Dre’s dorm in Easton, I ran into Ike and J-Roc and I congratulated them on their performance.

“Good job, y’all. You guys doing anything later? Dre and I may head down to South Campus. I think DJ [Strawberry]’s people are doing something, so I heard.”

All I got was icy stares scalding enough, they’d make heat melt. Ike and J-Roc walked away as I looked back at them, dumbfounded.

“What’s going on,” I asked the group I was with.

“Well, Speed, you did just diss the [stuffing] out of Ike and Jeremie,” one of them said, somewhat laughing at what’d just transpired.

“I did? How,” I asked, completely oblivious to the fact that my homage and re-purposed line came off and came out exactly like sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-shots fired.

Over the next month-plus through the end of the semester, there was a feeling of animosity in the air. Any cliché you can insert about the tension, it’d apply. Friends chose sides (the second time that happened among our group of friends that year). People got offended. Threats were fired off and glances exchanged. But, there was no music being made.

Until that damned “Cannon” remake. Now, I’m the type of person that will congratulate a person for dissing me. I’ll say “yo, dude. That bar was crazy. I didn’t think you’d go at me like that!” I’m just crazy like that. And, looking back six years later, that ish did kind of go in, except when it devolved into bar after bar…after bar of “Speed, you’re short” jokes. But, for the first time, I was taken aback and legitimately pissed off by the amount of foolishness that’d risen from a line that was initially meant as a kudos for a good bar.  So, naturally, I fired back with something out of Game’s playbook, a 10-minute track where I just spazzed even more than Ike and J-Roc had. This went back and forth until the end of the semester.

For two years, Ike and I didn’t speak. I eventually removed the disses I’d dropped because J-Roc got killed and I, you know, didn’t want to speak ill of the dead over some BS rap “beef.” Eventually, Ike and I kind of reconciled–or at least stopped being so “damn dawg” about the fact that things went down as they did. It was funny how it happened. It was a random day during our Senior year. We were both in McKeldin and I happened to just say “screw it” and say “Hey, Ike. Man, my bad for all that. We were young and hotheaded.” And that was that.

So how did all of this impact me to become “The No-Fi King,” you’re probably wondering. Well, it gave me an even tougher skin. Realizing that people may get offended by things I said, I became more aware of what I said, how I said it, and who I said it to. Essentially, the Ike “beef” made me grow up musically and personally. That horrible Maryland Day debacle made me realize that I had incredibly bad anxiety issues and no amount of pre-gaming before a performance would alleviate them. Heck, they’d probably make them worse. So, future performances, I approached them soberly and without any craziness. And if I hadn’t been lyrically challenged by Ike during the beef, I probably wouldn’t have continued to do this music thing. Because I’ll be honest: to me, Ike was probably the most lyrical cat at UMD during our tenure there. So, while I’d beaten up on children before in battles, Ike represented the first man I’d battled/beefed with. And, at that point, I hope I pushed him to do the same.

Six years later and we’re still both making noise in our respective areas, though. So, I guess I did what he did.

Hailing from Reston, Virginia hip-hop artist Blue Fiveone presents his latest visual for Paint the City BLUE, a single painted with his Tupac cadences and Frank Ocean style crooning backed by a rock/rap fusion sound courtesy of his band Blue County. You can find this single and more on The Blue County EP! Check it out and be sure to follow Blue on his social media: Tumblr, Facebook, TwitterInstagramSoundcloud, and Youtube.

Check out Paperboy Prince of The Suburbs’ visual for The Paper Route classic “Goregeous Prince George’s”. Paper steps out of The Office to show us some of the finer things Prince George’s County, Maryland has to offer. Check out the video below and be sure to tell all of your friends about “Goregeous Prince George’s” by sharing this link and tweeting the hashtag #ThankYouPaperBoy! Also, be sure to follow Paper on his social media: Tumblr, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud and DatPiff.