Posts Tagged ‘Kanye West’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Greetings, Earthlings. It is I, the No-Fi King with another “This Week in Hip-Hop.” This week, we will focus on the following: Kanye’s At It Again(?), Lupe’s Story Time, and Paul Walker’s death (yes, Paul Walker has hip-hop connections aside from just appearing with Ludacris).

Now, I know that you’ve all seen Kanye’s dissertations/rants/fails at escaping anti-blackness over the past few days/weeks. Most of which, while funny, have kind of painted a potentially tainted picture of what Kanye West represents and who he is as a person. Kanye has, to a degree, come to represent the angry black male who thinks they know about “The Problem,” but when questioned on their beliefs, they’d rather “revolt” (take note of the quotes on that word) than answer the question and facilitate actual growth. You tend to see this with some pro-black groups these days. But, that’s not what this post is about.

Yesterday, Kanye West put himself in the shoes of one of the Original Rap God(s), Christopher Wallace, by saying that Biggie probably would’ve disliked the beats for “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” as much as Yeezus Khristdashian does. Now, call me the Devil’s Advocate, but I don’t think that Biggie would’ve signed off on a track if he didn’t mess with it even remotely. We know the “story” that Puff pushed Big into making more mainstream songs. But I’m pretty sure that Big was just as cool with it once he saw the money and the buzz it got him for his non-“Juicy” songs. And regarding the beat selection? ‘Ye indicates that he personally disliked them because of their non-ATCQ sound. Now, I like jazz rap as much as the next guy. I’m kind of a backpacker. But, you can’t really dislike those beats and call yourself “hip-hop,” solely off the strength that they’re simplistic enough to get everyone intrigued with what you’re saying. That’s the criteria of a classic song. A decent beat, amazing lyrics, and a relatable situation/story. If that’s not hip-hop, Arteest, I think I should just leave here or change this post to “This Week in Chicken and Waffles” because I don’t know what’s wrong with the world.

Next, rapper/preacher/activist/potentially gifted (no Wale) person Lupe Fiasco announced that he was dropping a new project on Twitter. That project is…a novel…on Twitter, that’s some sort of neo-noire meets otaku meets hip-hop project. Essentially, Samurai Champloo without (pardon the pun) The Cool and more LASERS. When I read the words “robotic Kevlar jellyfish” in reference to faux female anatomy, I knew I was stepping into something…not good and potentially conceived from a scattered brain. Now, I applaud Lupe on trying something different. But, at least make it good. This seems like something that I would’ve written in high school and thought was genius, then got to college and trashed five times over.

But that’s just me.

It's this guy again...

It’s this guy again. Can you just get back to (good) music.

And, finally, on a sadder note (as I’m sure you all are aware), actor Paul Walker and his friend/business partner Roger Rodas were killed this past Saturday when the Ferrari they were driving in crashed and burst into flames. Walker was 40 and Rodas was 38. My condolences go out to those directly effected by this tragedy. On a more music side, the Fast and the Furious series has put a lot of people on to hip-hop in a sense. For instance, before the second installment, I would have never thought I’d see Ludacris in a movie. And then, he appeared in Crash and blew me away. I think his casting had something to do with the fact that he’d shown some potential in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Furthermore, the franchise and its use of hip-hop has allowed for a gateway into the culture. May you both rest in peace. The below video was taken from Tyrese’s Instagram on Walker’s 40th birthday.

And this concludes another week in hip-hop. In light of the whole Paul Walker thing (and some other personal concerns), I want to leave you all with one thought. Live every day as if it’s your last. Yeah, I know that we hear “YOLO” every day, but many don’t.

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!

What’s good in the woods and the hoods? It’s me, it’s me, it’s the No-Fi King Speed on the Beat ready to kick off my first post for Thee Arteest. When I was first approached for the opportunity, it took me all but ten seconds to be all, “well, heck yeah!” Arteest and I go back a couple of years to our undergrad days at the University of Maryland, so I’m honored. But, enough mushiness! I’ll just let my proverbial pen show my excitement on this new chapter.

While perusing through the Twitterverse today, I happened across this whole DJ Quik/Andre 3000 “beef”/rumor mill/random vent session. Now, while I get why Quik’s PO’ed, I’m pretty sure of two things. First, if Quik actually had “the monster,” he’s not Magic Johnson. He surely would have shown signs of it by now and/or died by now. So, while it probably had an initial impact, it’s not the type of thing you need to take to Twitter to rant and rave about. Thanks, Quik, for clearing up a rumor that’s been floating around for years. But, at this point it’s kind of like “WGAF.”* The second is this: I swear hip-hop and wrestling are more alike than Kendrick Lamar and Daniel Bryan supporters want to admit.

Except, of course, without too many running knees to the face. Sidenote: WWE, can you just either have Daniel Bryan win the belt and hold it for a while or move him out of the title picture for now?


I’ll talk more about that on my own page at some point for all of my wrestling fans out there. Now where was I? Oh, yes. Hip-Hop.

Young Buck’s out of prison after almost two years (and Gucci Mane’s headed back in). Here’s hoping he can catch a W for the first time in a while. Buck, to me, was one of the stronger aspects of G-Unit. Even though he didn’t get the shine of 50 or Banks, he was solid. Plus, he was “Southern” but still not “typical Southern” rap. Heck, anyone remember the “Shorty Wanna Ride” video with all its anti-Illuminati imagery? I’m not a believer in that sort of thing, especially how it pertains to rap, but I like when artists think outside the box for videos. That is, of course, to a degree. Can we not have Drake shooting (at) people to something that reminds you of 80s synthpop, Miami Vice/Scarface references be damned? Yes, I know, it’s a mini-movie (another post for another time), but it doesn’t really go too well with the song.

But, speaking of Aubrey “Drizzy Drake Wheelchair Jimmy Champagne Papi Rogers” Graham, his Nothing Was the Same tops the charts this week with sales of close to 700K. Now I’m more of a Take Care kind of guy, but all I can say (without looking like too much of a jaded a-hole–or Big GhostFASE) is this: congrats. Now if I can just get him on one of my songs…

On the independent side, I am actually trumpeting the release of DMV artist True God’s Soul Revival 2 album, which I handled most of the production on. (Yes, Virginia. I am a rapper and a producer as well as an opinionated blogger; check the bio) Objectively, the album presents a man who has lost a lot and is slowly starting to gain it all back, using music as his therapy. Part GKMC, part Nas, the album is revolutionary and militant while still being introspective and retrospective. I will not voice my subjective opinion here because I’d rather not sacrifice too much of my artistic integrity in my first post.

And, finally, on a light note (kind of), we’ve got this:

Until next time, guys and girls.

Speed on the Beat

*I’m making an effort to keep my language PG/PG-13 to show people I can be witty without cursing/being too vulgar.

Money! Power! Respect! These are all words that come to mind when I think of Wall Street. (They’re also the name to the 1990’s hip-hop group The Lox’ debut album…btw.) But, with the release of Martin Scorcese’ The Wolf of Wall Street I can now officially add a few names to my Wall Street lexicon; DiCaprio, Hill, and McConaughey. Coming off his Gatsby trip, it seems Leonardo DiCaprio is taking on another role where he plays a person in power. IMDB calls The Wolf of Wall Street, “The story of a New York stockbroker, played by DiCaprio, who refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, the corporate banking world and mob infiltration.” Although the trailer gives the feel of McConaughey as the puppet master and DiCaprio as the unwilling participant in a game that probably won’t end well (the serious/dark side of the film), the antics that ensue in the office are Hangoveresque and reminiscent of Animal House pranks and Rat Race comedic wagers (the fun/bright side of the film). I feel like this movie will have a great balance of glamour, danger, thrills, and laughs. I mean you put Jonah Hill in a film with Matthew McConaughey as the lead antagonist and there has to be SOME comedic relief in there. I feel that the combination of those two paired with Dicapprio, Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1 – 3), and Martin Scorcese’ directorial leadership guarantees a great film. Sorry if I set the bar kind of high there. But hey, I expect this movie to be good and succeed at the box office. But, I guess we’ll have to wait until it releases on November 15th to find out. Until then, check out the trailer below and let me know if you’re as excited about this film as I am.

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Sexy: Kelly Rowland – “Motivation” Ft. Lil Wayne

Kelly Rowland will forever = S.E.X.Y!!

Weird: Katy Perry – “E.T.” Ft. Kanye West

For once, omitting Kanye from a song would have actually helped.

Cool: Chris Brown – “She Aint You”

Although this video has nothing to do with the song other than the songs use of the Michael Jackson “Human Nature” sample, I think it was a great tribute to the King of Pop.