Archive for the Hip Hop Category

NEW J.COLE

Posted in Hip Hop with tags , , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by JB

Alright. You know how this works. I post every once in awhile when I feel like it, and I hear something that I really want to talk about. Would be cool if I did this more regularly, but we’ll see.

So some new J. Cole came out yesterday. “LOST ONES.” It’s a dope song, and probably will be on the album in the fall. Unfortunately, it was an unauthorized leak, so it was taken off most blogs. But you can still hear it on youtube, if you haven’t had the chance yet. Anyways, this is a great song. THIS is the J. Cole I love. The lyrics, the great storytelling, and the real heart that comes through the words. The beat is pretty simple. Nice, but lets the words speak for themselves. And the words are powerful. Listen to it and tell me I’m wrong.

THIS is the J. Cole I hope I hear on the album. Who Dat? and some of those other songs are nice, but this is the kind of J. Cole music that I love. “Lost Ones” kind of reminds me of my first favorite J. Cole song, “Lights Please.” It’s got the same masterful storytelling knack that got me excited about J in the first place. Also, both songs use a relationship as the setting, but both hint at deeper issues, and use that setting to talk about those issues without sounding corny or preachy. They’re really interesting songs, “Lost Ones” a bit more powerful just because of its subject matter. But I’m telling you, this is getting me even more excited about the album. His last mixtape was nice, but not as nice as I was expecting. I hope he’s been saving the joints like this for the full album.

And I like the way he spoke through both people on “Lost Ones.” It made the song even more balanced, thoughtful, and provoking. Lets him show both sides, the concerns and anxieties of both, without picking a side until he says his piece in the last verse. That whole back and forth between the man and the woman brought to mind another classic hip hop song, “He Say She Say.” Man, I really loved that song when it came out. Loved the whole album actually. But that song was nice. How each verse subtly changed depending on perspective, some may say it was lazy writing, but I thought it was good music. And the way they talk to each other during the hook? Damn, that song was/is classic hip hop IYAM.

Finally, just because I feel like talking about more good music, this song has a few similarities to Blu’s “Good Life.” The first verses are especially similar as both rappers take similar approaches to the topic. I love that Blu song, and Exile’s production, but as of today, I like J. Cole’s new cut better. That’s just a deep, touching song. The lyrics are on point throughout and the song only gets better as it goes on. “Good Life” is still great, and that first verse has some really nice lines, but as a total product, J. Cole’s song is just more powerful.

Well anyways, that’s what I think. Which of these songs do you like the best?

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Lupe Fiasco- LASERS refracted (review)

Posted in Hip Hop with tags , , , , on March 7, 2011 by JB

Over the last month, a lot of news has come out about Lupe’s new album LASERS. After a long fight with the label just to get it released, Lupe warned that he’d be “embracing hypocrisy” on this album. Like a lot of so-called “conscious” rappers before him, Common I’m looking at you, Lupe has had a hard time moving from conscious hip hop to radio rap, whether this move was desired or completely forced is a whole other question. So now after months percolating under the pressure to stay true to himself and the label’s crack-head addiction to ringtone rap and club bangers, we get this strange, contradictory piece of work, Lasers.

After a few listens, it’s an interesting record that seems to be in conflict with itself. You have a few decent storytelling joints and conscious songs like Till I Get There and All Black Everything, in other words classic Lupe. Then you got those deep songs like Letting Go and Beautiful Lasers. The dark imagery and electronic soundscapes perfectly complementing each other. (Little Known Fact: You know that digitized, sterile sound juxtaposed with raw, human lyrics that Kanye’s been obsessed with lately? Lupe’s had that down for a while.) So again, classic Lupe. And I LOVE Words I Never Said. Political, controversial, deep, and all of it pounding on top of this dark digital beat.

Complain about the liquor store but what you drinking liquor for?

Complain about the gloom but when’d you pick a broom up?

Just listening to Pac aint gone make it stop

A rebel in your thoughts, aint gon make it halt

If you don’t become an actor you’ll never be a factor

It’s just the other half of the album that’s a bit harder to figure out. I Don’t Want to Care Right Now and Out of My Head are songs obviously aimed at the Top 40, and are pretty mediocre radio songs to be honest. But it’s in these songs that you can almost feel that hypocrisy stewing within Lupe, battling against his more creative, more true-to-self tendencies. Even in these songs, there are moments when Lupe seems to suddenly recognize the contradictions and tries to snap back to his usual self, even if for just a few seconds. Take a look at these lines from I Don’t Want to Care Right Now.

Don’t leave 48 you’ll find a killer in the first floor

It was me boy, to commercials

Feeling out of place like PETA at a fur store

So I left with a couple dozen fur coats

Like he said, he’s trying to embrace the hypocrisy. Although I’m not convinced of his success, the experiment is interesting in itself. Lupe has publicly said that he has lots of mixed feelings about this album because of all the fighting with the label and because of the compromises he had to make. Of all the songs, he’s suggested that The Show Goes On was the biggest compromise, the song he had to do if he wanted a release date. And of all the songs, this is my hardest song to evaluate. Loving it one moment, and hating it the next. Because come on, the song is cheesy as hell. It’s a nice beat, but it uses an INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS Modest Mouse sample, and worse than that, they based the hook on the sampled song. It’s such an obvious cash grab, a desperate plea to the radio stations. “Please play me.” It’s like that runt on the court always begging you to pick him for your team. (Well truthfully, that runt was me, but let’s not get off topic.) Plastic music. It’s a song that has no real heart. But then right when I’m ready to dismiss it completely, I remember how Lupe almost subverts the whole thing. Almost.

Have you ever had the feelin’ that you was bein’ had?

Don’t that shit there make you mad? They treat you like a slave

Put chains all on your soul and put whips up on your back

They be lyin’ through they teeth, hope you slip up off your path

I don’t switch up, I just laugh, put my kicks up on they desk

Unaffected by they threats, then get busy on they ass

In those six lines, Lupe almost turns a label-forced radio song into a song about fighting major label, mainstream music oppression. Of course, that doesn’t make up for the rest of the song which is pretty uninspired, but he’s got these little deviations, these Freudian slips, hidden in almost all the vapid radio songs. And at the very least, that keeps things interesting and keeps things Lupe.

When all is said and done, it’s not a bad album. The record’s got four or five great tracks. Conscious and clever as ever, and that’s more than you’d find on most other CDs. It’s only when you realize it’s Lupe rapping that you start to feel disappointed. With such high expectations, it was almost guaranteed that he’d fall short. Lupe tried to make a record that was for him and for the label, an album that spoke to real people and also the people at Billboard. Was he completely successful? Definitely not. But good luck finding another record as radio, as conscious, and as conflicted as this.

Feels like I never left

Posted in Hip Hop, Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 2, 2010 by JB

That’s a lie. I’ve been gone for awhile. And it feels weird coming back.

Don’t really have an excuse. Was in China. With garbage internet and lots of blocked sites, I just took a 2 month break. And then when I got back… well I went on hiatus I guess. Not sure how often I’m going to start posting right away. I’ve already replaced my blogging time with other pointless pursuits, so I’m going to have to shuffle around my daily routine. But we’ll see, I’ll get back to posting regularly soon enough.

Anyways, sorry to any one who was reading this. Wasn’t right to just stop posting without any notice, but hey, that’s how the internet works. There’s no way anyone kept checking back after the weeks and months of nothing new. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back some old followers and find some new ones. Anyways, here’s some sweet gems I found on 2DB last week.

Superfast Jellyfish– Gorillaz feat. Gruff Rhys & De La Soul

I know some people don’t like this song, but I don’t know, I think it’s great. There’s a MF Doom vibe going on, and that bass line is killer. The beat and chorus definitely have that crazy Gorillaz sound. Not to mention the great song title.

Stylo– Gorillaz feat. Mos Def & Bobby Womack

This song has been leaked for even longer. I don’t like it quite as much as the other song (maybe because of my MF Doom/J Dilla background), but it’s still pretty cool. Kinda like switching the channel from an old kids cartoon to an 80s music video. A completely different sound compared to Superfast Jellyfish. The one similarity is that bangin’ bass.

I take it back, this song is just as good. That 80s techno groove + Bobby Womack vintage soul + Mos Def. You can’t go wrong. By the way, check out the cool music video. Something tells me this album is going to be sweet. Be on the lookout on March 9th for Plastic Beach.

Twenty Two– Wakey! Wakey! feat. Theo Martins

Another song that isn’t quite Hip Hop, but even so, I just like this song. Cleo Martins does a nice job, and in my mind the collab completely pulls off the hip hop/indie pop fusion. It’s still basically an indie pop song with some hip hop flavor, but it works. Checked out the Wakey! Wakey! album, and no other song on the album really compares to this (though Square Peg Round Hole is pretty cool). Dope song all around.

We’ll see when I get around to posting again. Hopefully not too long.

New days, new classics from Blu & Exile

Posted in Hip Hop with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by JB

Meant to post a couple days ago, but I got a dang paper I needed to write. Finally finished it, but it’s too long. I gotta figure out some way to shorten it because I got 2 pages 2 much.

My Life In Hong Kong

I got big plans this weekend. Going out and clubbing tonight. Haha. Ever gone clubbing in Hong Kong? It’s pretty cool. They play a lot of US stuff like Sean Kingston and Pitbull, so I’m dancing to stuff I know. And all the Asian people are friendly and it looks like they’re thinking, “Hey! It’s a white guy!” So tonight should be cool. Tomorrow I got a sweet biking trip planned in the New Territories, which might be exhausting, but it’ll be worth it. Then Sunday I got dim sum for lunch and going to Macau Casinos at night. This is it. The weekend. Last weekend in Hong Kong before I fly to Beijing. It’s gonna be bananas. Haha. Unfortunately, I also got a lot of homework I need to do by Tuesday. Dang it. That’s what I get for procrastinating I guess.

First, here’s a track I caught on FH. It’s nothing super original or different, but damn it just sounds good. Archie Eversole and Ray Lavender made a radio song done right. The hook’s all smooth and milky like Hershey chocolate, and Archie goes hard. Guilty pleasures if you know what I mean.

Keep Winning– Archie Eversole feat. Ray Lavender

Another song I heard earlier this week was the new single from Cunninlynguists, Running Wild. It’s a dope song. Dope beat, dope verses, dope hook. Nothing else to say. I love Southern Hip Hop. I usually don’t like Southern Rap, but it’s different with Southern Hip Hop, i.e. Goodie Mob, OutKast, Nappy Roots. I LOVE Southern Hip Hop. I hate to admit it, but I don’t listen much to Cunninlynguists. I’ve always heard good things, but I’ve just never gotten into them. I’m gonna look into this, a shame that I’m sleeping on a real Southern Hip Hop group.

Running Wild– Cunninlynguists feat. E-40 and Evidence

Though I love Southern Hip Hop, the last couple years most of my favorite Hip Hop has come from one place, Southern California. Blu, Exile, Freddie Joachim, Son of Ran, TiRon, UNI, Pac Div, etc… Last week and now this week two Southern Cali HH albums are coming out. Both are great, and if you haven’t listened to much music from Southern Cali, you gotta educate yourself.

Sene

This came out last week. Sene’s A Day Late and a Dollar Short, entirely produced by the one and only Blu (AKA GODlee Barnes). I just listened to this thing in its entirety, and it’s a unique album. Sene is a talented emcee, and Blu gives hims some crazy beats to work with. Now, Blu doesn’t produce as well as he spits, but he’s definitley a competent beatsmith, and he’s made some really interesting soundscapes. Some of these beats are what I call ultra-retro. It makes retro sampling sound like future sounds. You don’t normally hear beats and songs like this. A simple, unique, honest Hip Hop album. If you want to hear classic Hip Hop with a unique feel, check this out. Recommended. 4/5.

Here’s some tracks leaked over the last couple weeks. This is a fun, up-tempo song which perfectly exemplifies current Southern Cali Hip Hop. Good vibes and dope verses.

Please Don’t Rain– Sene feat. Kissey Asplund

This is my favorite of the leaked tracks and one of my favorites on the album. Another example of SCHH. Productions, vibes, chorus. Fun times on a sunny day. That’s the only way I can describe it. Perfect chillin, summer, driving music. Roll down the window and let the moment seize me if you know what I mean. Too bad summer is pretty much over. Well maybe for you guys, it’s still nice here in Hong Kong. Haha.

WonLover– Sene

Now this is what I was talking about. A really unique song, in my mind at least. Some ultra retro sampling which lays the foundation for a dope song. Like the rest of ’em, this is a song I can relax and smile to. California is where Hip Hop lives and breathes. If you like all of this, definitely check out this cd and support some real artists. When I first heard these, I was starting to get this “Below The Heavens” feeling. Once I heard the whole thing, it wasn’t quite so(ul) amazing, but definitely worth your money and time.

everydejavu– Sene

Fashawn

This album is amazing. I really liked A Day Late and A Dollar Short, but I LOVE this album. At least now. I’ve only gone through it a few times, but I’m really feeling it right now. Fashawn’s new album, Boy Meets World, is coming out this Tuesday. The cd was entirely produced by Exile, so that should be enough for you. You should cop this the second it comes out. The production is really good, that shouldn’t surprise you. But Fashawn completely holds his own. He has some real, serious ability. Each time Exile brings out a doper beat, Fashawn crafts an amazing song. Honestly, this is one of my favorite albums this year. Hands down. I’m not going to say Best Album of the Year or anything, because it’s not like I’ve heard every album this year, so how can I can say that? But it is one of the best I’ve heard. You need to buy this. You need to hear this. 4.5/5.

I want to let you hear some of these tracks, but I got too much respect for this album to leak anything before it comes out. Maybe next week.

I still remember the first couple times I played Blu and Exile’s Below The Heavens. In my opinion, it’s a modern classic. I loved that cd, and I still play some of the tracks constantly. Afterwards, I started listening to more Exile because he’s an amazing producer. But at the same time, I always thought of Below The Heavens as more of  a Blu than Exile accomplishment. It’s just the classic emcee bias. I heard Johnson & Jonson, and it wasn’t as good, but it was enough proof to me that Blu was the major force in Blu & Exile. But now hearing Fashawn’s new album, I don’t think that way anymore. Exile is at least just as talented and just as responsible for the masterpiece that is Below The Heavens.

Both guys are crazy talented, and this week you got a chance to cop projects from both of them at the same time. Be sure to support some real artists.

Hong Kong

Posted in Hip Hop, Uncategorized, Videos with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by JB

Hong Kong

Well, I’ve been hanging out in Hong Kong for about two weeks. It’s been pretty sweet. Lots of good food. Saw Chinese opera, which is really weird. Marched in a Human Rights Parade. Went to a Mid-Autumn Festival Carnival. Saw a big Buddha. And of course, I went to an Asian karaoke joint. Haha.

Classes have actually been pretty good too. Really interesting and not too much work if you know what I mean.  I might post some pictures eventually, but I’m warning you, I’m a pretty bad photographer. I’m not some wildlife photographing bird watcher person. Most of the time I forget to bring my camera places, so this girl in our group takes all the pictures. Maybe I can ask her to send me some.

I told you it was big.

I told you it was big.

Well, anyways, because I’ve been busy doing HK stuff, I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve been waiting til I found something really worth posting, and in the last week a couple things caught my eye. First is this sweet song from Ghettosocks. I never heard of Ghettosocks before, but apparently he’s a dope mc outta Canada. He’s got a new album, Treat of the Day, that’ll soon be on itunes. If it sounds like this, it’s definitely something worth buying. I also saw the video (produced by Pardis Parker), which I think is equally dope. A friend of mine said it was corny, but whatever, this is classic hip hop through and through.

Just a good song. I love story-telling rap. I think the death of story-telling rap is a big part of the decline of mainstream Hip Hop. There just ain’t stories anymore. That’s a generalization, but it’s basically right. Stories don’t have as many clever (or not clever) one-liners, and sometimes the songs just aren’t as easy to dance to. Maybe that’s why those songs don’t get play anymore. For whatever reason, you don’t hear lyricism and creativity like this on the radio, and I think that sucks. Here’s the song (courtesy of 2DB).

Don’t Turn Around– Ghettosocks feat. Edgar Allen Floe

Radio Do Canibal

Here’s the other awesome project I’ve heard about in the last couple weeks. The album, Radio Do Canibal, just came out today, or yesterday (this Hong Kong time is tricky). It’s a concept album with all production based on Brazilian music, which is dope. Everything I’ve heard has been awesome, so I gotta feeling this is gonna be a real solid album. I’ve also heard from others that this album is very good, so you should definitely check it out. A video from the creator himself BK-One explaining the project…

One of the tracks I caught on the world wide web a couple days ago. (I read this thing that said “world wide web” is an outdated term and shouldn’t be used anymore. Screw that.)

Philly Boy– BK-One & Benzilla feat. Black Thought

And take a look at this song. Phonte, Brother Ali, the Grouch, Black Thought. You can tell that this cd has an incredible line-up of emcees. One more reason to check it out.

Oh, and it’d be wrong to end this post without mentioning the coolest Brazilian song of all time:

Dang I can’t find a video of the best version. Just audio will have to do.

The Girl From Ipanema

And now…

Posted in Hip Hop, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2009 by JB

… the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. This is my final week of summer. The last few days before I go to China. I promised myself I’d try to learn some Chinese this summer, and I did absolutely nothing. It’s pretty terrible. Someone told me that Hong Kong will be alright, and even Shanghai should have a fair amount of English speakers. But it still sucks. I should’ve learned some Chinese. Damn it. Too late to worry about it now. I think I’m going to buy a phrasebook or something tomorrow. Also, I may not make another post for awhile. I’m probably going to have to settle in and get everything figured out in China, so that my delay my posting. I’ll also probably want to spend sometime away from the computer and around China. We’ll see.

Cyanide and Happiness

I knew some guys on probation. Luckily, I’ve never been stabbed by any of them.

Abstruse Goose

This is an awesome comic. Funny, true, and also kind of sad. We’re all dumb cows off to slaughter to be ground up and eaten by someone bigger and stronger than us. Kinda sucks.

SMBC

Haha. Just like the last comic. Funny, true, and seriously depressing.

Rubes

I wish I was that lucky. If I was a dwarf I’d probably be Dopey. Or maybe Cokey, their crackhead cousin. Remember to click the pics for more comics.

Here’s a cool music video I saw. It’s the DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix of Peter, Bjorn, and John’sStay This Way.” The verses were provided by Big Pooh, Chaundon, and Phil Nash. The minimalist animated video was made by Myk Dawg. This song is pretty sweet. I’m not a big PB&J guy, but this got turned into something cool.

First I got some tracks from Ghostface’s upcoming album Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry. I’ve really been feeling all these leaks, and I think this album is going to be awesome. It’s coming out in two weeks, and I’d cop it… if I wasn’t in China. Maybe itunes, but I hate not getting a physical cd in my hands.

Ghostdini

First is “Let’s Stop Playing” with John Legend. Legend’s one of my favorite soul singers, and he shines on this song. Meanwhile Ghostface waxes poetic to a lady that he’s interested in. Really great song.

Let’s Stop Playing– Ghostface Killah feat. John Legend

This song is a bit less smooth and romantic. Ghostface brings the energy and proves (once again) that he does more than just talk to girls. The beat in this song is especially sick. The keys and horns samples are outta this world.

Guest House– Ghostface Killah feat. Fabolous and Shareefa

And here’s two new songs I caught on 2DB. The first is an unreleased track that didn’t make it on Kid CuDi’s album, which I just bought today. The album’s good. I really like it. It’s not exactly hip-hop, since he only really raps on 3-4 songs, but it’s good music. It gets a little emo sometimes, but it sounds dope. This track is pretty good as well.

I Hear Them Calling– Kid CuDi (prod. by  Eminem)

And this is a new Alicia Keys track. Alicia Keys is one of my favorite artists. I saw her in concernt once… and I kinda fell in love. She’s amazingly talented and makes beautiful music. Not to mention she’s pretty beautiful herself. Well anyways, this song is great. Not my favorite Alicia Keys track or anything, but I’m sure it’ll grow on me.

Doesn’t Mean Anything– Alicia Keys

I wish time would slow down…

Posted in comic, Hip Hop, Uncategorized, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2009 by JB

Not much to report on my side. Did a little homework, but not nearly as much as I need to. I hope these last two weeks drag out because I got lots of work to do and I’m dreading the start of classes and more work. On the other hand, I can’t wait to go to China. We’ll see how it goes. Some great comics from the past week…

Rubes

Reminds me of a few kites I know.

Secret Asian Man (off of DCR)

Haha, that’s completely true. It sucks how Asians and Latinos can never get leading roles. I understand they aren’t a majority of the population, so I wouldn’t expect them to get a lot of the roles. But still, there’s gotta be more than just kung fu roles available.

F-Minus

I feel the same way dude. I feel the same way.

Mike Luckovich (off of DCR)

I can’t believe Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion. That’s crazy. As long as Mickey doesn’t screw up the comics and the characters I don’t mind too much. It kinda sucks that Marvel is now part of an even bigger media conglomerate, but if we can get some cool new movies outta this deal, I don’t mind.

I heard about this video today, and I had to check it out. If you just watch it as a parody of old-school rap, it’s pretty funny. Rashard in particular kills his part. I wish Durant would have stole the show because he’s one of my favorite players, but he couldn’t match Lewis’s swag. That doesn’t matter much though because Durant is (or will be) a better player than Rashard Lewis.

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images. Credit where credit is due.

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images. Credit where credit is due.

Damn, I can’t wait til the start of the NBA season. Right now I’m more excited about football, but once the football season winds down, the NBA will be my life. After the Bulls, the OKC Thunder are one of my favorite teams. It’s mostly because I’m a huge Kevin Durant fan (since his dominating days at Texas). But it’s also because that team is super young and super talented. They could really be something in a couple years, so it’s cool to just watch the beginnings of a new powerhouse. Durant improved incredibly from his first to second season. It seems unlikely he’ll be able to improve by as much as he did again, but as long as the team overall improves it won’t really matter. With his ability and stat line, he could make the All-Star team if OKC can stay above .500. We’ll see if they can in a few months.

Here’s a real smooth song I heard on Flawless Hustle.  It’s off of Ghostface Killah’s upcoming album Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry. Raekwon has set the bar really high for new Wu releases with OB4CL2, so I wonder how Ghostface will respond. This song uses a pretty obvious sample, but it works. It’s weird, because in my mind the original song is both cool and lame. Add Ghostface and some delicate rhymes, and you got a dope song. The sample in the verses can be a little distracting, but overall this is nice.

Cruisin’ – Ghostface Killah

Just wasting time and caught myself watching this again on Freddie Joachim’s blog. Song isn’t new in anyway, and neither is the video, but it’s dope, so I’m going to re-up it anyway. TabOne, Charlie Smarts, and Rapsody all totally flow with the vibe, and the beat and video perfectly fit together. Kooley High is too high.