Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

A week or so ago, I decided to, for the first time in forever (no Frozen), check out HipHopDX to see what they had to offer. While perusing through the troll comments, I saw Fat Trel had released a couple new freestyles. I listened, and they had some quotables–most of which unfit for the site (if you want to hear it, click here. Be forewarned that it is NSFW). But what really shocked me was a comment on the song. Some dude made it about appearance rather than verses, saying that because “[Trel] look like a monster” (sic), he couldn’t rock with him. This, of course, brings me to this week’s TWIHH discussion.

When did it become about looks versus artistry? Is this a modern social construct based on the (oft-quoted, but often-misappropriated) “feminization of the black man” theory. Or has appearance been just as much a part of hip-hop culture as the graffiti, turntables, and bars?

As far as I can remember, artists have attempted to distance themselves from the pack. Often, that’d involve some sort of image, some sort of look. Some artists reflected what they felt was gangster culture while others reflected afro-centricity. Artists such as LL Cool J made a career out of showing how much more attractive they were to people when compared to, say, an ODB. Heck, LL made a career out of showing his chest to his audience and he is still one of the most-respected artists (even though he’s had his miscues).

So, for someone to say “oh, hip-hop’s gone soft; it’s homoerotic now because dudes are commenting on how a guy looks” is flat-out silly. I’ll agree that the focus on looks has become more intense over the years, with commentators teetering between critique and general creepiness and artists wearing skirts as fashion (a la Young Thug). But, at the core, hip-hop has always been about looks (and marketability). Perhaps now, since we’ve been brainwashed (somewhat) by reality television, social media, et cetera, an artist’s appearance is becoming more prominent in regards to how they’ll be perceived. But again, it’s always been about a look. If you look different, people will want to know more about you (even if it’s in a “WTH are you doing this” sort of way). But inversely, an artist must still look a part.

Artists are, typically, groomed (either by their surroundings or by their team) to look a certain way to fulfill a role. In the case of a Fat Trel, you wouldn’t expect him to appear in a video in skater shoes, clean-shaven, with a big cheesy smile. That’s not the image he represents, nor would it be a believable image. And then listeners would call him fake. This brings me to another point.

Hip-Hop is, in some ways, a stereotypical art form. I’m strictly talking appearance here.

As an artist, I’ve spoken on this once before, as I’ve been stereotyped as being a “college rapper” a la Asher Roth because of my demeanor and dress. It’s one of the reasons why I tend to stay out of the “spotlight,” per se. I’d rather let the music speak for me and then have people see me and say “whoa, that Speed guy looks like that but he speaks on real issues. Kudos.” If I went about it inversely, I’ve been told that I probably wouldn’t be heard, because I’m a shorter guy with a mental illness (shameless plug) who prefers bars to clubs and a Corona to Patron. And that’s even before people got through the “no-fi” approach.

So what can we, as artists and listeners, bloggers and critics, do?

Open our minds, plain and simple.

After spending years on rapping hiatus, NYC bred foodie, University of Maryland alumna, veteran Undergrounduate, and Hip-Hop freestyle phenomenon Lex Rush is gearing up to release her debut EP; but she needs your help. Lex is asking for donations and contributions to help pay for mixing and mastering of the many hits she’s compiling for your listening pleasure. Check out her Indiegogo and listen to some of my favorite songs and freestyles featuring Lex below and be sure to donate to help this project come into fruition. The campaign ends July 7th and trust me, Hip-Hop needs this project!!!

 DONATE HERE!!!

 

 

DONATE HERE!!!

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!

 

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.

Reason number one for why you should see this installment of the Transformers series: Who wouldn’t want to see Optimus Prime riding a fire-breathing Dinobot as it rampages through war-torn city streets in an attempt to save humanity? Reason number two: Explosions! Reason number three: Mark Wahlberg. Reason number four: Because you want to see if Michael Bay takes the whole Transformers story-line any further from the cartoon and deeper into “WTF?!” territory. Reason number six: You just have to hear Optimus yell, “Audobots! Roll Out!” one more time. Well, no matter your reason, check out the trailer below and if it gives you another reason to watch, be sure to check it out in theaters on June 27th, 2014.

An automobile mechanic and his daughter make a discovery that brings down the Autobots and Decepticons – and a paranoid government official – on them.” [IMDB]

Capture

E-Mail Recipients and Smart Phone Users may view the trailer by clicking the image above

In Christopher Nolan’s latest film Matthew McConaughey gets the opportunity to save humanity by travelling Interstellar. Not too much is given up about the plot of the film in this trailer, which to me is a good thing. But, I am curious to know just how much screen time will be given to McConaughey’s interstellar journey versus time spent on character and plot development. Lest we forget about Contact, another space travel film starring McConaughey alongside Jodie Foster, that spent all of about 5-10 minutes in actual space. Needless to say, no matter the extra-planetary duration, I am highly intrigued by the sole premise that, “Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here.” Interstellar premieres in theaters November 7, 2014. Check out the trailer below.

“A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.” [IMDB]

E-Mail Recipients and Smart Phone Users may view the trailer by clicking the image above

Live from Bethesda, Maryland. It’s This Week in Hip-Hop, hosted by The No-Fi King K.I.N.G., Speed on the Beat!!!

 

Ok, so let’s get this show on the road. I can’t believe that I missed this one, but 2 Chainz dropped a new album/mixtape (the words are so interchangeable these days, so shrug it), Freebase, recently. The above track, “Trap Back,” shows what you can expect from this collection. Unfortunately for my working people, I couldn’t embed the MTV edit of the track. So bask in its uncut glory–with headphones on, of course. Chainz dropping bars over somewhat oddity-laced beats in a way that some consider more “experimental” than before. “Trap Back” also showcases a more lax 2 Chainz than what we’ve seen in recent times. The bite’s still there, but the bark’s subdued and lends itself to more of a “let’s go get messed up and do dumb things” type of vibe. In other words, the track and most of the tape is what we’ve considered “Happy Ignorance.” While the rest of the tape is more “typical” Chainz, it’s not a bad thing.

Rick Gonzalez-Between The Stars-hnhh

In other news, rapper-turned-actor-turned-rapper Rick Gonzalez dropped a new collection (note: In lieu of the words “mixtape” and “album,” I’m going to start referring to them as “collections”) Between the Stars. It’s like a combination of Blu and J. Cole with some grimy beats. He’s got some dope bars and an ear for beats, but his flow is stilted at times. That’s a problem that I’ll always have with a lot of these non-“mainstream” rappers. They’ve got it all down pat, but the flows can be cures for insomnia. But, I mean, not everyone has to be 2 Chainz. Check it out at the link below.

Rick Gonzalez – Between The Stars

Hip-Hop Fail(s) of the Week (So Far)

In light of “that video,” I’ve decided to bring back my TWIHH Fail of the Week award. We’ve got a few to pass out this week. First, in case you haven’t heard, will.i.am got kicked out of first class on a United Airlines flight (kinda) and then ended up having a pilot request a selfie. For that, I’ve got to give a joint FotW to will.i.am and United. Why? Well, United attempted to brush the whole thing under the rug with a press release, referring to will.i.am as just “the customer.”

Our second FotW goes to Jim Jones and his “2 On” remix. Now, I rock with Jim Jones at times, but he’s showing much rust in his once-impregnable armor. I’ma let you finish, Jim, but OB OBrien and Drake have the best “2 On” remix of (possibly) all-time (at the moment). Mercifully, Jim’s remix clocks in at just under a minute.

Until next time, guys. Stay tuned for my “Worst Summer Songs” list coming soon.

SqueezeDontTease

Click Artwork Above for Full Event Details

Mark your calendars folks!

Delegation Music and Electric Squeeze join forces for a live Hip-Hop and EDM party that’s sure to keep the DMV moving ’til 2AM.

SATURDAY, JUNE 7th (9:30PM – 2:00AM)

ZEBA BAR (3423 14th St Northwest, DC)

21+|FREE

Yogi Nando, DJ DimLit (of Sounduo) and The Delegation Music Collective

Presented by Electric Squeeze

Artwork and design by LoveTagLA

In the 2014 Sci-Fi action film Lucy, Scarlett Johansson stars as an average woman turned superior, ass-kicking phenomenon after unintentionally being gifted with the ability to use 100% of her brain capacity. Needless to say, “…interesting things begin to happen.” At first glance the film appears to be a combination of Colombiana (2011) and a bit of Push (2009) and Crank (2006) packaged into a premise that makes Limitless (2011) seem pretty…tame. Will Scarlett Johansson harness her some of her Black Widow (The Avengers, 2012) energy for this physically demanding role or will her power performance prove to be  less than believable? Check out the first trailer of Luc Besson’s (The Fifth Element, 1997) latest directorial effort, Lucy below and if you like what you see be sure to check out the film in theaters on August 8, 2014.

An involuntary drug mule, with a surgically implanted cargo, is assaulted causing the package to leak. This leads to her slowly ramping up the percentage of her brain she can use, resulting in abilities people dream about.” [IMDB]

All E-mail Recipients and SmartPhone Users Click The Image Above to Watch the Trailer

All E-mail Recipients and SmartPhone Users Click The Image Above to Watch the Trailer

Wale-sad-2

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