Posts Tagged ‘Jay-Z’

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.

This week in hip-hop saw yet another salvo fired off in one of the longest-running quasi-feuds in hip-hop. After Drake, in a Rolling Stone interview, called Jay Z’s many, many, many references to Basquiat, Warhol, and other visionaries–a word thrown around way too much for way too many people, but that’s another post for another time–“wack,” Jay fired back on Drake’s own Soulja Boy’s song. Judge for yourself, but as is typically the case, the lyrics are pretty NSFW. Although, we do get an appearance from hip-hop’s resident hermit, Jay Electronica–that’s coming from a Jay Elec fan, by the way.

Since at least 2007, Jay and YMCMB/CMR have traded bars with each other. Honestly, I enjoy the “shots” because it takes hip-hop back to those old-school days when Big and Pac were still living–or even when Fiddy went at everyone. You know, the days when rappers weren’t afraid to just throw shots at each other in a competitive nature to keep their competition on their toes–and their own buzz up. As long as it creates some “DAMN! REWIND DAT!” moments, without, you know, the fisticuffs of a Source Awards or something I’m all for the back and forth. It doesn’t seem to really be anything more than friendly competition at this point–unless we start getting “Control”-like responses from people.

Man, that song got on my nerves.

*****

Cole Alexander Hates Drake and Loves His Rap “ignorant, ratchet, and ghetto.

This is Cole Alexander, guitarist for Black Lips, a rock group out of Athens, Georgia.

cole-alexander-black-lips

I’ve never bothered to listen to Black Lips that much. I remember they had a song on the Scott Pilgrim movie soundtrack and had a sort of southern punk vibe to them. They’re the type of band hipsters love, as evidence by Alexander being chosen to talk to A.V Club about his “hatesong.”

Here’s the thing: there isn’t anything inherently wrong with a white guy liking “ratchet” rap. That’s fine and dandy. People are allowed to like what they like. What is kind of crappy about Alexander’s opinion is that it places a white, male gaze on a genre created by “minority” artists. That, plus his whole, “white people now usually don’t have to deal with racism, so they allow blacks to make racist jokes as ‘payback’ for their ‘white guilt’ and stuff” diatribe on Macklemore, whom he seems to channel in the above photo. I’ve got two sets of three words for this guy, but I can’t say them on here. So…Why The Face?

I guess I’m going to have to bring back my “Fail of the Week.” Also, Modern Family FTW.

*****

Elle Varner Doesn’t Want Anyone to “See [Her] Tonight”

Back when Elle first came out, I had a bit of a Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW) going for her. She, musically, had that Chrisette Michelle thing going for her, but “cooler.” Now while her debut didn’t move the numbers some predicted (honestly, it was epic, but still had a lot of boring and/or misguided moments), it was a decent debut. Her second album, slated for a late-2014 release, seems destined to silence doubters–or die tryin’. This song captures her “Only Wanna Give It To You” vibe, splashes it over a song about rejection, and succeeds. It, in some ways, sums up her first album in about five minutes. “I’m attractive and relatively famous, but I still get antsy about being rejected. And when/if it happens, like anyone else, I get kind of sad about it. And when I get sad, I may shed a tear or two…and I don’t want people seeing that because they see me as strong and powerful and stuff.”

 *****

Indie Spotlight of the Week, “Art in Reality” by True God of #TeamDAR (Prod. by Speed on the Beat)

(Lyrics NSFW on both of these) Yes, yes, I’m tooting my own horn on this one. Sue me. The first track I’ve worked on myself since my own #MoneyWhereYoMouthIs, it speaks on True’s journey through music and music’s state as a whole. It’s a pretty awesome track that utilizes a slightly unexpected sample. Also, this:

(Sorry, Arteest, my dude. I had to. Everyone, #SupportIndieMusic)

Until next time.

-Speed

 


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.

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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.)

Greetings, all. It’s been a while–or at least, it feels like it. In the past week or so, a lot has happened in the world of hip-hop. However, instead of creating another post on Lil’ Boosie’s release and the ramifications of celebrating his release, or a post on his track with C-Murder, I’ll direct my attention to two more big happenings this past week or so.

boosie1

Sorry, Boosie. Not today.

Pharrell dropped G I R L. Yes, the album with possibly the most catchy song this side of “The Macarena,” the 24-hour-video-inspiring “Happy.” I went into this album with low(ered) expectations. Why? Well, as much as I love Pharrell’s music–and I love his music–I find sometimes that his production overpowers his lyrics (rap and otherwise) and makes the lyrics seem somewhat simplistic in comparison. This album, in some ways, is no different. It focuses more on the production than, you know, “deep” songs. But, that’s what makes it work.


(Spotify stream of G I R L. Songs are pretty safe for work.)

G I R L is, well, songs about and for women. Women aren’t complicated, regardless of how much men try to make them seem. In some ways, I’d compare it to John Legend’s album from last year–only because both albums were conceived and released around the time that both artists were tying the knot. Plus, they’re both solid albums that deserve to be checked out. However, where John Legend’s somewhat syrupy musings still draw you in because of his conviction, Pharrell’s falsetto wears thin from time to time. Plus, as mentioned, the production values, while amazing, overpower the lyrical content (or lack thereof, at points). But, as I said, it’s not all gloom and doom for this album. I loved Pharrell musically flipping conventional thoughts of women on their head. For instance, with the song “Gush,” it starts out like one would expect it to. I won’t go into many details (let’s keep it PG-13 here), but you probably know what I’m getting at. And then it switches into more of a sensual, almost Prince-like feel. Pharrell isn’t a lyrical genius on this one, but he accomplishes so much.

Overall, I’d recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of not-so-heavy soul-pop music and a fan of R&B that probably won’t get played while a dancer is twerking in front of you. I just wish that Pharrell didn’t use the word “bae” in one of the songs.

On the more gritty side of things, Rick Ross released Mastermind, an album that, in some ways, spits in the face of Freeway Ricky Ross’s lawsuit against The Grunting One. I mean, the intro track pretty much says “hey, a ‘mastermind’ can take other people’s experiences and get rich off them.”


(Spotify stream of edited version of the album)

My gripe with Rozay’s music is that Ross has a few subject topics: drugs (selling and using), sex, and violence. Oh, and money. Lots and lots of money. What made God Forgives, I Don’t an almost classic album is that he spat every bar with conviction and power. Even though it was way past album one, he still sounded hungry. On Mastermind, it seems that even Ross doesn’t really believe what he’s speaking. He sounds bored almost. The production is still pretty solid, but that’s expected. It’s “M-m-m-maybach Music!”

At least Ross teams up with The Weeknd for a pretty decent track, “In Vein.” Considering Ross’s history with date rape-like lyrics (the “UOENO” bar wasn’t the first time) and Weeknd’s history of making music that sounds like he’s under the influence of a few molly’s and whatnot, the song creates an uncomfortable vibe. It’s Weeknd at his finest, honestly. And that’s what keeps Mastermind from completely failing: guest appearances from artists such as Scarface, The Weeknd, Kanye, Jay Z, a reunion collabo with Jeezy, Mavado, Lil’ Wayne and more.

Listen for the guest voices and don’t expect Ross to break new ground.

Until next time.

-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 salutations everyone. For this edition of “#TWIHH,” I decided to switch things up.

As I perused through my email recently, I noticed I’d received a notice about a new Master P song. My first instinct was to laugh maniacally at the thought “hmm, I really wonder why Master P continues to put out music years after his popularity fell to the wayside?” I mean, it’s not like he’s flat broke completely hurting for the money (legal troubles aside). Ultimately, I put my thoughts aside and began to listen to the track, “We Poppin’,” which featured Eastwood (formerly of Black Wall Street Records) and everyone’s favorite Auto-Tuning rap-sanga not named Teddy Pinnedher***down (that’s still a nickname I shake my head over), Future.

To be honest, I found myself bobbing along with it with the screwface a couple times. As you’ve probably seen, it takes a lot for me to be like, “Yoooo! This ish cray.” on the first listen. For it to come from a Master P song made me curious about what he’s been doing since Romeo left USC and started appearing in ICDC College commercials his last full-on mainstream release (aside from the following video).

While the original Ice Cream Man hasn’t been as workaholic musically as he was, he’s actually put out some decent stuff over the past couple years. Sure, some of his verses are on some “so bad, it’s good” stuff (like “Brick to A Million,” featuring Fat Trel and Alley Boy). But, when he gets on a roll, he still puts out halfway listenable music. This is more than I can say about some of our…younger artists. Now, I’m not saying he’s putting out classics. But, his reemergence still begs the question: Is age really nothing but a number in hip-hop these days?

If it is, throwing down, in the musical sense, really may be nothing but a thang (RIP Aaliyah). If we look at some of the biggest acts recently, a lot of them are elder statesmen. MCHGYeezus, and other albums by some of these elders haven’t really been the greatest collections, but they’ve still been able to drum up numbers and fans. Some of this is based off the familiarity factor alone. If we have an option between Artist A (who’s dropped three CDs) and Artist B (a newcomer with a few mixtapes to his name), we often go with Artist A. But, familiarity alone can’t keep an artist relevant. It can sure as hell help, but familiarity alone isn’t enough.

master-p

The second part of the puzzle is the (idea of the) element of surprise. Part of the fun of a new CD from a vet is wondering what will be pulled out of the proverbial (and cliched) hat next. Will they retread bygone eras and familiar topics for a new generation (Master P, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, etc.)? Will they recreate themselves as a party rapper who finds himself featured on songs with Bieber (Juicy J, 2 Chainz) or a Mafioso-like BAWSE (Rick Ross)? Will they come out of jail overly hungry, but still deliver a song that’s not exactly the greatest work they’ve done (Lauryn Hill, DMX, Mystikal)? Will they make complete fools of themselves in trying to connect with the younger generation (Will Smith with “Switch,” LL Cool J with “Baby”)? Will they put over a new(er) talent (Jay Z in his “Mr. Carter” and “Light Up” verses–even though he kind of buried both Wayne and Drake on their own song)?

The possibilities, even the sucky ones, are almost endless. And that’s what makes seeing a Master P return to music interesting (even if he never really left). It’s also what makes hip-hop interesting, for as many times as people say it’s a young man’s game, the veterans still make noise.

As promised, my DJ alter ego @BmoreSupplier’s #SearchingForAuroraJolie2 mix. Turn it up to 11, but in your headphones. This one gets dirty. And explicit. And…sexual. It’s a raw mix. Why not incorporate more of…well, you know.

Now that the shameless plug’s out the way, let us get into This…Week…In…Hip-Hop! (Halloween Edition).

No, I’m not going to talk about how scary it is that we live in a world where Tech N9ne can get on a track with Lil’ Wayne, call it “F— Food,” and have it reach heights most people never will. That song, I’m slightly ashamed to admit, is one of my favorite tracks from All 6’s and 7’s. Nor will I talk about my favorite sexy costumes as originally planned (hint: It’s the one with the miniskirt and the boobage-enhancing half-shirt). No, it’s time for…some of the worst Halloween (or “scary,” for the hipsters) rap songs in history. Now, I could have gone the easy route and said “best,” because that’d just involve me listening to some horrorcore and then slapping on that one Will Smith song at the end and saying that I survived until the next year.

The Fat Boys are iconic. They’re amazing. They, in Krush Grove (when I randomly saw it as a five-year-old), made me want to beatbox and rap. But, in 1984, they appeared on the original Nightmare on Elm Street soundtrack. Let’s just say that the end results were…headshakingly bad. There is no way in hell you’re going to tell me that hearing Freddy Krueger bust a rhyme doesn’t make you forget that he’s a character that kills and tortures children through their dreams. At least Will’s version didn’t have Robert Englund droppin’ knowledge.

Word.

This song almost makes me sad that Miami Booty Bass (or even early to mid ’90s B’more Club) was ever a thing.

((WARNING: This is the Uncensored version of the song and video. Not Safe For Watching at work!!!))

My logic behind listing Kanye West’s “Monster” is two-fold. The video is insane, but the verses really have nothing to do with the video–at all. So, a song that many rap bloggers call a spooky Halloween song is only spooky if you’re watching the friggin’ video. Other than that? It’s standard late-2000s Kanye West. Secondly, the video isn’t scary, more-so just demented. It’d be like calling the Saw franchise a psychological thriller when compared to, say, Memento or One-Hour Photo.

This is “Airplanes” meets “mid-life crisis” meets “slight references to borderline personalities and depression.” My God. Not every Eminem song is supposed to be scary, nor is every song supposed to be “Stan.” But, this song, non-scare factor aside, is what makes me afraid of MMLP2Heck, that may put it on the best scary songs list, then.

I’ll probably be hit in the head with a couple of Faygo bottles, but almost any ICP song can be on this list. In the tradition of the last two entrants on this list, I’ve posted a song that has nothing to do with scariness. It’s scary that this song makes absolutely no sense. What I learned from it is that magic is real and dogs and cats aren’t–or something. The logic behind “Miracles” is like giving your three-year-old free rein to try to explain where people go when they die. It’s not pretty and only funny if you have a pretty messed-up sense of humor. Luckily, I’m a master of the black (comedy) arts, so hooray!

JayZ_MCHG_InstagramContrary to initial belief, Sean “Jay-Z” Carter has been awarded a platinum plaque by the Recording Industry Association of America for the unprecedented Samsung Electronics Co Ltd digital purchase of one million albums. Initially it was said that Nielsen and Billboard were not going to include the $5 million bulk purchase in their records or chart listings because, “…[They] don’t count free-to-consumers (albums).” But, in a twist for chart topping supremacy the RIAA has awarded Jay-Z platinum status, taking the digital download and bulk purchase deal from Soundscan fiasco to recording industry legitimacy. What this means is that Magna Carta Holy Grail went platinum before it was even available for purchase by mass consumers. Jay-Z said it best in the Samsung commercial, “We need to write the new rules.” And that is exactly what the RIAA has done. Score one point for Jay-z, zero points for Nielsen. For more insight into the thought process behind Magna Carta Holy Grail check out the four-part interview of Sean Carter himself on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club below.

Since Samsung’s billion dollar loss to Apple after their highly publicized lawsuit and counter-suits over design patents, Samsung has been on an all out war against the late Steve Jobs’ tech monster. I have been watching their Apple thwarting efforts in the recent months and weeks since then and I must say Samsung is definitely proving itself to be a rightful contender. They’ve had numerous television ads bashing the iPhone and countless promoted tweets on Twitter to get people energized about their crown gems, The Galaxy series. But, their biggest and possibly most notable move to date has been their purchase of one million copies of Jay-Z’s latest album titled, Magna Carta Holy Grail. For those who don’t know, it came as quite a surprise that the Jigga Man (Jay-Z) would release a new album this year, let alone on such a historic day as the fourth of July. One thing is for sure, the marketing machine behind Samsung is well oiled and gearing up for greatness. Their ad which debuted during the NBA Finals features super-producers Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin, Swizz Beats and Timbaland crafting beats and drafting plans for the album with Sean Carter himself. As an enthusiast of marketing and advertising strategy and a lover of hip-hop music, I found the symbiotic relationship between the Hip-Hop Mogul and the electronics Goliath very groundbreaking and alluring. Not simply by the level of skill and talent being displayed in the commercial, but the ingenious plan of allowing one million Galaxy owners to stream the album for free 72 hours before its official release date. Whoever came up with this marketing idea has definitely honed in on pop-culture and buying triggers.

Since the debut of the commercial I have already seen tweets about people purchasing Samsung Galaxy phones just to get the listening exclusive of the album. And at a hefty $5 million price tag, Samsung is definitely monetarily dedicated to moving units of its own and garnering more buzz around its brand. My only question is not if the purchase will be lucrative. Samsung can afford to dish out or lose a few million for the right to exclusivity. My question is whether the pre-sale of one million copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail will be included in the Nielson Soundscan numbers? I only ask this because this is the first of its kind. I don’t see why they wouldn’t include the Samsung purchase numbers. Granted, Samsung didn’t purchase hard copies. But, in the digital world it can’t be too hard to count digital copies for phones. Right? And, with that said, if the one million copies ARE included in the Soundscan numbers, that would grant Magna Carta Holy Grail platinum status at an unprecedented two and a half weeks before its debut and before anyone has even heard the project or seen the track listing. Well, the new slogan from the commercial IS “…write the new rules.” And it seems the two are having no problems doing it.

Sidenote: With the $5 million price tag, I can’t help but allude to the fact that Jay-Z lost a bet and had to pay $5 million to get out of his contract with Def Jam almost five years ago. That distinct number resounds in my mind. Coincidence? Or a subliminal shot at Def Jam? You decide! Check out the commercial below and let me know your thoughts on the new album or the strategic efforts of Samsung.

Capture

The American Dream Deferred

There was a time many years ago when college was the definitive answer to the unemployment problem. In this era, those who received a degree were pretty much guaranteed the opportunities of a new life. Enduring the four years of gruelling exams, hours of studying, and typing page upon page of papers meant that you were equipped with the know-how and the drive to succeed at life. And for the prospective employer the receipts (degrees) that showed these qualifications and efforts did enough convincing to get the jobless a job and be on their way to living “The American Dream”. But now, many years later, college costs are at an all time high and the corresponding debt accrued by ignorant ambition daily bleeds the lifeblood out of the economy. In the year 2013, “The American Dream” seems to rapidly escape the minds of new graduates and the unemployment troubles of the past have returned. This is my perception of what I refer to as the college nightmare or The American Dream deferred and here is how it begins and my advice for prospective and current college students.

The Beginning

As students in high school many of us are trained by our parents, friends, and society that upon completion of senior high, college is the next step toward success and inevitably a bright career. As a high school student, I too was taught this fantasy that college makes things better, highly increases your chances at getting the job you want and prepares you for the real world. In my mind college really was the only possibility presented to me as a post high school grad option. Although, I was given the military/college ultimatum, I knew I was NOT going to the military. That was absolutely out of the question. So I decided to apply for college during my senior year. I only applied to a few, because in my mind the University of Maryland was where I really wanted to go. When I received my acceptance letter to UMD, I began thinking I was on the right path to fulfilling my destiny. Expectations boiled over and emotions burst onto the scene faster than the time it took me to open the letter. Within that moment I felt that dreams really could come true. Of course, at seventeen we do not realize our own naiveté. Nor do we foresee the hardships, the struggles, or the possible derailment that is likely to follow.

During my collegiate career I spent six years studying in two schools and after finally conquering all of the B.S. of life within that time frame I graduated with an A.A. and a B.A. Yet, I still didn’t know my place in the world. A lot happened in my six-year quest to receive the beloved receipt that would whisk me away to some faux land of clarity and opportunity. During my freshman year as a seventeen/eighteen year old male in college, the maturity it took to overcome distractions and remain focused just wasn’t yet developed. This contributed to a lot of misdirection, unused diligence, and time wasted during the first third of my college experience. And I definitely was not the only one affected by life’s surprises. Many other students I knew had undergone transfers, dismissals, departures, and delays. I’ve been told the new national average undergrad career is five years rather than four. And if that is true, it’s for good reason. The college/university system is built on deception, misperception and disconnection. Don’t worry I’ll explain.

Deception

As previously stated, the greater majority thinks that college is the only way out of economic struggle and the path to financial freedom. This ideal is a fallacy and also a tactic used by recruiters to get more people into their schools so that they may fulfill their bottom line. I know what you’re probably thinking, “But what about the public schools? They don’t make any profit.” My answer to that is, all colleges need money. They need money to pay their staff, fund their sports programs, build their state-of-the-art academic facilities, and so on and so forth. Most public colleges and universities have high overhead costs so it’s in their best interest to accept as many students as possible to cover these costs. How better to attract more students than by making college seem as if it’s the only option for a person to further their career and enhance their life? So they post copious amounts of statistics about how college graduates inevitably make more money than non-college graduates and they glamorize the college experience. The schools job is to repackage The American Dream and sell it to you in the form of a four-year commitment at a price in upwards of $100,000 dollars and this is just the public school system. Don’t get me started on the for-profit schools (Strayer, University of Phoenix, etc). Those are the most nefarious faux educational systems known to creation and most of them aren’t even accredited. Path to financial freedom? I think not. The interest on the loans us college students take out end up costing us thousands more dollars over our lifetime and all college loans MUST be paid in full. Not even filing for bankruptcy can curtail loan debt. Clearly Sallie Mae and the major banks don’t care about your education.

Misperception

Because of the belief that higher education will result in higher paying jobs, many young Americans and more recently older Americans are attending colleges and taking out high loans to pay for it. This wouldn’t be an issue if the types of jobs available for college grads paid enough to balance out the costs of these loans. This is where one of the biggest, if not THEE largest problem extends from. As a recent graduate (class of 2011), I have experienced the job dilemma. Companies are less willing to hire college students because many of us don’t have the 4+ years of real world experience they want in an employee. Here’s where it gets tricky. If I spend four to six years in school how can I get the 4+ years of real world experience the prospective employers seek? And I know many of you are saying, “What about internships?” Here’s the issue with those. As a first timer in college with parents who didn’t go to college and don’t possess prior knowledge about the inner workings of the institution, many of us are not guided or counseled on the importance of internships until our third and in many cases fourth year of Undergrad. So, those “3-8 years” of experience many prospective employers are looking for are not on a recent grads resume.

Disconnection

The largest problem shared by the collegiate system (colleges, book distributors and writers, prospective employers, and loan lenders) is that those in control of the system are disconnected and detached from the common man or woman. For the common man or woman college is a privilege. A privilege that many are not privy to due to a lack of necessary economic resources. What this means is that many people (the common man and woman) really can’t afford college so they depend on loans to help supplement their financial inability. The colleges are disconnected from the people because they continue to raise costs EVERY single year despite the fact that people with degrees in a lot of cases are not getting their money’s worth when it comes to employment. The book distributors and writers are disconnected from the common people because they continue to charge outlandish prices for textbooks that they know the students need, but really can’t afford. Prospective employers are disconnected because they don’t understand the logistics of college in today’s world. Loan lenders are disconnected because to be able to constantly harass people about their late or incomplete payments, or their inability to pay, they have to be heartless and inconsiderate. They are also disconnected because they are in bed with the schools. As long as the schools continue to increase their cost of attendance every year, more graduates will be indebted to the banks and the banks will forever have the financial slavery they want that keeps them in positions of power. So how do we remedy the situation? How can we solve these issues to not just improve the students situations, but the job industry and the entire economic system in America?

Reality

What most people fail to notice is that college is not pertinent for success. I am a strong believer that there is power in education. But, most who attend college do not go simply to gain more knowledge. The expectation and the driving force behind many students’ presence in an academic institution is that college will lead to higher paying jobs and a better life than the person who doesn’t attend. I am here to say that assumption is incorrect. Many of America’s billionaires, millionaires, and simply well to do citizens either never attended college or didn’t finish. This is because while college has the ability to create growth, it also has the uncanny ability to stunt it. While college has many positive features and capabilities, it isn’t for everyone. In many ways, college teaches us how to be good employees, not good bosses. It lacks the necessary tools to educate students on how to be great leaders and be independent of the larger systems. For the student who doesn’t know what they want out of life, in some cases college has the power to show you. But, in most cases it leads you in a particular direction that might not always follow your optimal path.

If Mega Millionnaire Jay-Z, Multi billionaire Richard Branson and others like them went to college who knows if they would have possessed the same drive, picked the adequate time, or even pursued the right interests that have led them to their level of wealth and success. And after most students graduate, they’re so busy trying to figure out how to pay off their loan debt they end up getting a job for that sole purpose, rather than pursuing what they really want to do. Necessity has the ability to seamlessly subdue even the most creative and strong-willed. So, what should someone do before considering attending college.

Suggestion

Prospective students should know that college is for the person who knows the career path they want to pursue in life and feels that college will help get them there. They should be sure college is right for them, be certain of their career focus, and never lose sight of their goal. If they feel unprepared they shouldn’t go until they feel prepared. If they ever choose to go, they should take advantage of any networking and internship opportunities from the minute they arrive to the minute they depart.  If while they are there they discover what they want to do is no longer within the confines of the college, they should leave and pursue their passion. Those who are uncertain about college should experience the world and all it has to offer first. This will help them deduce or create options for themselves. It’s never good to rush into decisions or situations. Should they choose not to attend college, they should use their time wisely. Unlock the person they really are. They shouldn’t allow others to steer them in the wrong direction and always work to discover their true purpose. The moral of this essay is to not waste time, money or ambition. Anyone can be a worker, not everyone can be a boss. And whether a person wishes to start their own business, has dreams of being in the entertainment industry or wants to establish themselves as a writer, all of these things can be achieved without college. It just takes a prepared mind with the ambition and persistence to pursue those goals. We live in a new era. College does not guarantee you “The American Dream” will come true. Live for what you truly want to do. Do you have what it takes to break the mold? Do you have the gusto to pursue your dream? Only one way to find out.