Posts Tagged ‘Speed on the Beat’

Before we begin, check out Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage.” 

I love hip-hop. It’s an amazing art form, and it’s so diverse. In light of some of the recent happenings in the world (the situation in Ferguson, MO, the Ezell Ford shooting in LA, the incident in Ohio, the Tulsa police shooting, Robin Williams’ suicide, etc), some have brought up the question of “what can hip-hop do to educate people or cause change?” In the 1980s and 1990s, artists jumped to the mic in droves to speak on messed-up situations with the government and the police (not really mental illness, though; that’s another monster entirely which I spoke on on Boi-1da.net). These days, however, it seems that artists won’t speak on an issue unless there’s something to gain from it (publicity, saving face, etc). Is that indicative of artists being “owned” by their labels, therefore hindering them from speaking on issues?* Or is it just that today’s generation of artists aren’t educated on how messed up these issues are?

I think it’s unfair to say that every artist doesn’t give a you-know-what, regardless of their subject matter. I actually got into a bit of a “Twitter argument” with Lecrae over his semi-condemning of “violent” mainstream hip-hop, due to the idea that even if some music is violent in nature, it doesn’t exactly mean that all hip-hop that isn’t love, peace, and harmony is counterproductive. However, there is a tinge of apathy from the world as a whole–since some tend to devote focus to hot button issues, then move onto the next quicker than you can say “keyboard revolutionary.” Of course, human rights are something that need/deserve to be spoken on at all times. Thankfully, the message is getting across that people can’t just #TweetJustice and expect something to change overnight.

But, you combine this “where’s the next cause?” mentality with a generation that is more likely to turn Trayvon Martin into a meme, you’re asking for idiocy from the masses. Rappers aren’t excused from this. But, as “leaders” of black culture, hip-hop artists have to aid those whom they claim to represent–which is why I always applaud artists who give to charities, or do nonprofit work (or speak on these “real-life issues”). I’m also applauding the artists who have used their voices to speak on and/or out about these tragedies. As always, though, these are just my opinions on the matter. Feel free to tweet me on the matter.

*I will not go into how major label artists aren’t “allowed” to speak out (that’s another post entirely). I just wish that everyone could…put their money where their mouth is (plug, but not a shameless one).

@SpeedontheBeat

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.

(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

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.

Hii-Fivver

The Return of the Hii-Fivver

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

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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.

Pac

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.

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

Apparently, this is the safest for work photo existing

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

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

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

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

Until everything went south.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shameless Plug Alert: Check out my new freeverse over something resembling the “Born Sinner” instrumental. Subjectively, it’s friggin’ awesome.

Now that the music’s out the way, let’s get into the feature presentation.

It’s me, it’s me. It’s the No-Fi King, Speed on the Beat back with entry number two (of over 9000) for Thee Arteest. Today kids, we’re going to talk about a new place for all you youngsters and hip cats to groove at called Terrapin’s Turf, or, Terrapins Turf, or TT. When a place already is trying too hard to make itself trendy right when it opens, you’re probably going to run into some craziness.

People in the DMV may remember a little club in DC called Platinum. It opened to a decent amount of fanfare and included lots of things that’d make you shake your head. Some of these included lots of bros, Middle Eastern women who didn’t even want to think about thinking about a Black guy, and overall douchiness. Oh, and gogo dancers. Lots and lots of gogo dancers. It was as if the worst things about a nightclub and the basis of a booty club rolled into bed and created some bastard child of a convoluted mess of a club. Suffice to say, the place has been shut down since late 2007.

Meanwhile, in College Park (which could’ve have been an album title from either myself or DK aka Wayne Watts), a bar by the name of Santa Fe was about three years away from closing itself. A landmark of sorts in the area, Fe offered an alternative to the Cornerstones, Bents, and Thirsty Turtles (the “original” TT) of the world. Live music, professional DJs, the whole nine. No knocks intended to C-Stone or Bentley’s, because I frequented/kind of worked/paid bartenders’ tuition costs at both of them, but Fe, in some ways, had them beat.

And, then the music stopped. Mostly because of sprinkler system issues.

Fast forward to October 2013. After a slew of rumors, false starts, and even rumblings of a Foot Locker opening up in the Fe spot, Terrapin’s Turf finally opened its doors. And, let me tell you. It’s not Fe, but it doesn’t need to be.

Armed with gogo dancers, a rave-like atmosphere, and that same damn island bar, the atmosphere is amazing. But, it seems that with this new atmosphere, we’re given similar situations to the aforementioned Platinum. I got into the club around 12:45, perfect timing as it was still “zombie time” and it was the grand opening. The amount of people standing outside of C-Stone and Bentley’s easily surpassed the total group in TT. That’s the first alarm of a prolonged death waiting to happen. Secondly, no one danced, or even looked like they were having fun. Like Platinum, it seemed like people were more concerned with how they looked versus having fun. While the drinks were strong, the atmosphere was dead enough to kill a vibe of Kendrick Lamar proportions. Third, while the bar looked amazing and the gogo dancers were hot–some of them, anyway–the vibe carried over to make every second in the place seem kind of life-suckingly horrible. Now, it could just be first week jitters. But, even Looney’s, Barking Dog, and that other sports bar where Vito’s used to be had better vibes, better crowds, and better people. Or maybe it’s just a case of “UMD Can’t Have Nice Things Because They Won’t Really Appreciate Them?” Either way, I give it a year, maybe two, before we’re looking at just another empty spot in Route One, wondering what could have been.

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.