Jay-Z & Rhapsody Recreate Album Artwork Commercial

One of the dopest commercials I've seen in a while, B3 leaked earlier today and a review is on it's way.  Rhapsody will premier the album plus two bonus tracks on September 8th

Jay-Z - "A Star is Born" feat. J. Cole X "Hate" feat. Kanye West

The latest leaks off of B3.  In the past, Jay has always outshined his proteges (see Memphis Bleek, Beanie Siegel) on his tracks, but J. Cole is different and beats Jay on his own shit.  Not the classic track I was expecting though.  I'll let you judge for yourself.  "Hate" maybe the best Kanye track I've heard in a while and returns to his pre-Gay Fish style.  On another note whoever is running Jay's marketing for the album should be taken out back and put down.  Seriously, the tracks that they've chosen to leak have been very sub-Hova and have continued to decrease my interest in B3.  I'll still buy the album the first day because Jay's one of my favorite artists, but I'm hesitant about it.  Again, I'll reiterate that's unfair the expectations put on artists like Jay-Z and Eminem because we expect them to outdo their previous work, but with a entire catolog of classic works, we will continue to be dissapointed by albums which in reality are of respectable quality.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Notorious Noah

Donny Goines - "Dream Awake" (Prod. Nastee)

You knew I wasn't gonna leave you without the perfect way to start your morning.  Check the best song I've heard all week courtesy of this NYC emcee.

No matter what, Imma make it to the top,
I'm here now, I'm just waitin' for my shot.
And one day you'll believe I'm great,
But right now I just dream awake.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Narcoleptic Noah

Joell Ortiz - "Hip Hop Remix" Feat. Jadakiss & Saigon

The insomnia is hitting me pretty hard tonight/this morning, which I guess benefits you people as I'm going to hook you up with a few more posts.

Joell Ortiz is one of my favorite new school emcees.  He doesn't waste time with Auto-Tune or skinny jeans, he just spits with everything that is traditional hip hop.  Some call him the re-incarnation of Big Pun (Ortiz, like every other Puerto Rican New York emcee, will always be compared to the legend), but Joell Ortiz will some day be a legend in his own right.  After his Aftermath disaster, Ortiz released the 2007 critically-acclaimed The Brick and Ortiz is my favorite emcee in the hip hop supergroup Slaughterhouse.  I first heard Ortiz while playing GTA IV last year and this song immediately caught my ear.  I think you will definitely enjoy it.

Also, I will be eternally grateful to anyone who can hook me up with an explicit version of this track.

Hate It Or Love It: A Hip Hop Analysis Of Drake

Check out this illuminating article on the marketing and politics of Drake by HipHopDX's Edwyn Huang.

Naughty By Nature - "Hip Hop Hooray" x "O.P.P."

As far as hip hop groups are concerned, you have to slot Naughty by Nature right up there with De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.  The New Jersey group was an amazing pop/rap crossover and was a staple of 90s age hip hop.  Their 1991 debut self-titled album (other than Independent Leaders which was released under the name The New Style) includes classic hip hop tracks "O.P.P." (which makes use of a Jackson 5 sample) and "Ghetto Bastard (Everything's Gonna Be Alright)," "While the chorus of their 1993 anthem "Hip Hop Hooray" may well make it the most recognizable and celabrated song of the early 90s.  The thing that made Naughty so special, was their goofey, non-chalant personas and rhymes that still managed to address social issues (as evidenced on "Ghetto Bastard").

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Naughty By Noah

"Hip Hop Hooray" "O.P.P."

Snoop Doggy Dog - "Gangsta's Love" Feat. Nipsey Hu$$le x "Gin And Juice"

In the world of hip hop, Snoop Doggy Dog will always be that cool, lovable uncle everyone has who is stoned ALL THE TIME.  Seriously, Snoop without weed is like N.W.A. sans Ice Cube or Tom Cruise without the crazy - it just wouldn't be the same.  As of late, Snoop has been on the downslope of his career.  Although The Bluecarpet Treatment was one of the better albums of 2006, it was sandwiched in his discography by two almost laughable albums, R&G and Ego Trippin'.  Still, you can't hate Snoop.  It would be like hating Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, it's just not allowed.  I like this track (released on Wednesday), because it shows that Snoop is still able to spit like the Snoop Doggy Dogg of old, while "Gin And Juice" is simply one of the greatest tracks in hip hop history.  Off of his standout debut album, Doggstyle, "Gin And Juice" should be recognized, if not memorized, by any self-respecting hip hop head and has a hook that is one of the most referenced lines in hip hop history (With my mind on my money and my money on my mind).  Enjoy.

Peace, Love, & Snoop,

"Gangsta's Life"

Jay-Z - Myspace Today Interview pt. 1

MySpace Today meets Jay Z Part 1

Shawn Carter may be one of the most articulate people, rapper or not, on the planet...

Donnis - [Update] Diary of An ATL Brave: Presented by 10.Deep

I hadn't heard of Donnis before a couple weeks ago, but I'll trust the 10.Deep co-sign as they've put out mixtapes by Kid Cudi and Wale before.  The Mixtape is mixed solely by DJ Benzi and Mick Boogie (so you know it's going to be dope).  Delivery-wise, Donnis reminds me of fellow ATL rapper T.I. with better lyrics, at least on the song "Country Cool."  Cuts include "Beginnings," "Gone," and "Over Do It," but the mixtape is solid top to bottom.  UPDATE: If you haven't downloaded this mix yet, I urge you to do so immediately.  This mixtape is possibly the best blend of pop/party/lyrical depth that I've heard in a 12-track mixtape.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Wale - "World Tour" feat. Jazmine Sullivan

It's been a long time coming for Olubowale Victor Folarin.  The DMV emcee, better known by his stage name Wale (pronounced wah-lay), has been releasing classic free mixtapes since 2006, including three of my favorites, 100 Miles & RunningThe Mixtape About Nothing (an ode to Wale's favorite show, Seinfeld), and Back To the Feature (a mixtape which, as the name implies, features guest apearances on each and every track...Wale manages to outshine an impressive list of artists that includes Talib Kweli, Black Thought, J. Cole, and Royce Da 5'9").  Earlier this year, Wale joined J. Cole, Rihanna, and Melanie Fiona by signing a distribution deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation.  Wale's first album, Attention: Deficit drops in October.

KnowMads - "Saturdayzed"

I realize that I featured this Seattle trio and the album that garners it's name from this song with my first post, but I felt that this song needed appropriate re-emphasis.  At the end of the day, this song is just a fun, humorous certified classic (party) song.  If you like what you hear, I definitely suggest copping their first two albums, which they released for free and can be downloaded here.  As I mentioned before, KnowMads is more than just party tracks (though they do make the perfect party songs) and supported good hip hop by purchasing their third album, The Rooftop (available on iTunes and Amazon).  Enjoy.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Knowmadic Noah

Freddie Gibbs – midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik

When people think of crime in this country, they stereotypically point to the big cities such as New York, L.A., Atlanta, and Chicago as areas where crime is most rampant.  What people fail to see are the forgotten industrial cities of America such as Gary, Indiana, cities once reliant on production, often of coal and, in the case of Gary, steel.  With the decline on these industries, unemployment rose and with it, crime has grown out of control.

Freddie Gibbs is a living testament to this sad truth.  A resident of Gary (a city that also gave birth to the Jacksons), Gibbs comments on the decay of his city on “Murder on My Mind,” rapping that “I’m fresh up outta city where most niggas broke/Sixty percent unemployment, why you think we selling dope?”  Gibbs is one of the few emcees in the game today that is able to effectively convey the often overplayed and repetitive Gangster Rap genre.  It is easy to see that Gibbs draws much influence from legends like 2Pac, OutKast (the title of this mixtape is a nod to their classic debut album), and Houston groups UGK and the Geto Boys.  Gibbs’ voice and delivery reminds me a lot of a young Scarface and at the end of the day this mixtape reminds me a lot of Scarface’s classic 2002 album The Fix (if you don’t own a copy of The Fix do yourself a favor and cop it immediately).

As far as this mixtape is concerned, apart from the DJ Skee tags, I definitely recommend the free download (link below).  Gibbs’ is a rising talent as is evidenced by his lyrical prowess and flow.  Through his voice, we are able to bear witness to the struggles of middle American city life.  Though it has some slow points, the good more than outweighs the bad.  Cuts on the album include “Talkin’ Bout You,” “Midwest Malcolm,” “Boxframe Cadillac,” “Sumthin’ U Should Know,” and the gritty, desprate “Just Tryin’ Ta Make It.”  If you like what you hear, you can cop his prior mixtape The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs).

Peace, Love, & Gangsta Rap,

K. Sparks - "Blind Man" X "Let Me Fly" f. Julius Francis

Today's post comes courtesy of the Queens emcee K. Sparks.  I'll be the first to admit that I haven't heard nearly enough of this artist as he deserves.  Sparks has evidentely been around for a while, releasing four mixtapes and three underground albums.  After hearing these two absolutely beautiful songs, I definitely plan on checking them out and suggest you do as well.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

"Blind Man"

"Let Me Fly" (feat. Julius Francis)

Jay-Z - "Reminder" (Prod. Timbaland) X (Bonus) "Brooklyn's Finest" feat. The Notorious B.I.G.

Props to NMC for the premier of this track.  Sounds like yet another classic Jay song subpar Timbaland beat that even J-Hova can't salvage...I'll let you judge for yourselves.  I wasn't that big a fan of the Drake track, but I'll wait to judge B3 until I actually hear the album.  Can't wait for the track with J. Cole...

Update: To salvage this post, I've attached a certified classic Jay-Z track that the hip hop heads who have followed his entire career.  "Brooklyn's Finest" is off of Jigga's seminal album Reasonable Doubt (an album that I personally hold to be the greatest hip hop LP of all time).  I feel bad picking this song, because I really feel that Doubt is meant to be experienced as a total.  Even though the individual songs are amazing, it's one of those rare albums where the total is greater than the sum of its parts.  I picked this song because it displays a young Jay-Z still able to hold his own against Biggie, arguebly the greatest of all time, in his prime.  And it's not as though Biggie goes easy.

I personally believe that "Brooklyn's Finest" may actually be the example of Christopher Wallace at his finest.  The song is one of those rare, classic collaborations in hip hop history and sounds as though each rapper feeds off of each other (even though Biggie, in actuality, recorded his lyrics a couple months after Jay).  I like to compare this track to Jay's track "Renegades" with Eminem because a lot of people claim that Em killed Hova on his own shit, though I feel that they both provide two of the best verses of the career and are on par with each other.  Just my opinion though.  Tell me what you think.

Peace, Love, & Hova,
Notorious Noah

Raekwon - "Catalina" feat. Lyfe Jennings (Prod. Dr. Dre)

New track off the Chef's upcoming album (dropping September 8th).  This one's produced by the good Doctor.

So far it's shaping up like OB4CLII > B3

A Hip Hop 101 Aloha

I guess this post is a hello and and a goodbye.  I'm headed back East to NYC for my second year at school (so drop me a line if you're in the city).  So, even though it's not where you're from, it's where you're at, I'm kind of inbetween right now, so I'm going to drop you two tracks from artists from both of my homes.  The first is by Seattle's KnowMads.  It's called "Home," the opening track off of their sophomore album, and one of my favorite songs about going away/coming home.  The second track needs no introduction as it is Nas' classic "N.Y. State Of Mind" off his debut Illmatic.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
NY-Bound Noah


Drake - Forever f. Eminem, Kanye West & Lil Wayne (prod. Boi-1da)

I'll let you decide for yourself on this song...couldn't pass on this collab...tell me what you think

Smells Like OOF!

(Sorry to all my readers, I meant to get this up last night, but got back later than anticipated have been packing to head back to school.)

Today’s Seattle hip hop scene owes everything to the Blue Scholars.  For nearly a decade after Sir Mix-A-Lot won the 1993 Grammy for “Baby Got Back,” Seattle’s hip hop scene suffered a long standing drought (this wasn’t helped by city officials who banned all-ages hip hop shows).  Though some local artists such as Boom Bap Project and Grayskul gained some notoriety in the underground scene and signed with Minneapolis based label Rhymesayers, it wasn’t until the Scholars-led local Mass Line label started to garner national attention that the Seattle hip hop scene exploded.

Although today’s 206 hip hop scene has diversified from the conscious sound of that marked its resurgance, the next generation of Seattle emcees that includes the likes of Dyme Def, Grynch, Fresh Espresso, and KnowMads, must recognize that much of their future success is owed to those that came before them.

I’ve been a huge fan of Blue Scholars since I was a freshman at Garfield (I am now legally obligated to give a shout out to the Class of 2008).  I was drawn by emcee Geologic’s profound, labor conscious lyrics backed by Sabzi’s amazing beats and glossy production that draws influence from jazz to ska to local rock and has become a staple of Blue Scholars and Common Market albums.  With each release, from Blue Scholars to The Long March EP to Bayani to yesterday’s OOF! EP both members of the group have evolved artistically.  Geo’s lyrics have become more intricate and Sabzi miraculously keeps on finding ways to top himself.

The result of this artistic growth became evident again yesterday with the release of their latest masterpiece OOF!.  Though short in length (six tracks and six instrumentals), this EP is the best work top-to-bottom even surpassing The Long March EP (I’ve already explained the reasons I love EPs and shorter albums)…the simple fact is that every song is a classic.  The album itself represents a break from typical Scholars material.  While they maintain their blue collar mentality, Geologic goes back to his origins in Hawaii to offer an image of the islands not seen by to the mainland or vacationers.  Meanwhile, Sabzi backs him up with beats highly influenced by local music.

Those of you who have been following the Blue Scholars will recognize the lyrics off of the opening track “Bananas” as the spoken word piece that Geo did for Songs For Eating & Drinking earlier this year (I haven’t decided whether I like the a capella or Sabzi-backed track more, but both are amazing: There's a whole lot of cheddar at the top now/ But fuck tryin' to climb up, let's bring the top down).  Next up is HI-808, an ode to island life (check the video), followed by my favorite track on the album, “Coo?”, a track which makes a nod to the past and sounds much like the old school hip hop that Geo references in the song.  The album finishes strong with more party-oriented (but still amazing) tracks “New People,” “Hello,” and “Cruz.”

Anyway you look at it, OOF! is classic material and proof that the Scholars are finally gaining mainstream prominence.  Today OOF! hit #2 on iTunes for Hip Hop/Rap, behind only Eminem's Relapse.  I highly recommend copping it (let's make it #1) and I’ve included my favorite Blue Scholars track from each of their releases thus far.

Peace, Love, & OOF!

"No Rest For the Weary"

Bobby Creekwater - "The Day I Got Dropped"

I dropped the incredibly dope "Hello World" by Bobby a couple weeks ago.  As far as the lead single off of his upcoming The Day It All Made $ense (dropping August 31st), I'll let BC explain it:

Song is straight fire, BTW.  Link below.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Necktie Noah

J. Cole - "Back To The Topic" Freestyle

Fresh off the presses, it's new J. Cole...so you know it's gonna be hot!  Look for your boy with Hova on B3 dropping 9.11.09

Gerald Walker - "Ready To Go" x "To Bob Ross With Love" feat. Gym Class Heroes

Before I call it a night as far a blogging is concerned.  I just received this new Gerald Walker song that I thought all of you would appreciate.  Definitely some more high quality from the Wisco artist who is quickly becoming one of my favorite up and coming artists in the game.  The Atmosphere line cracks me up.  Gerald Walker's Evening Out With Your Girlfriend drops September 8th (fo' free!!!).  Mark your calenders.  UPDATE: added the Gym Class assisted-track to post as a bonus, it's from a while ago, but it's still good.

I'm livin' by the words that Atmosphere told,
Now When Life Hands You Lemons, Go And Paint That Shit Goooold!

"Ready to Go"

"To Bob Ross With Love"

Inverse - So True EP

There are many regions that have generated numerous hip hop greats, but only two, New York and Southern California (namely Los Angeles) can boast that they are Meccas of the genre.  While NYC has produced legends Biggie, Jay, Nas, Mobb Deep, Black Star, and countless others, LA boasts an equally impressive list with the likes of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, N.W.A., Snoop, and 2Pac (via The Bay) to name a few.

Inverse is yet another group to follow in the steps of their SoCal forefathers.  Emcees Toby and Tunji come from diverse backgrounds.  Toby is a white jewish boy from LA, while Tunji was raised by Nigerian parents in the Bay Area.  Despite their different upbringings, Inverse have been making dope music since '01 and have collaborated with the legends KRS-ONE, Big Daddy Kane, Pete Rock, CunninLynguists, Brother Ali, and Little Brother (Tunji also drops a verse with Geologic of Blue Scholars on Seattle emcee Grynch's classic "Smoke And Mirrors"...check out Grynch's FreEP Chemistry here...).

I have to admit, I've been sleeping on this group more than I'd like to own up to, but I've been a big fan of this SoCal duo ever since first hearing their January 2dopeboyz-featured So True EP [Update: the linked page is no longer available, so you can find the FreEP embedded below].

I've always been a huge fan of EPs.  It is nearly impossible for an artist to make a classic LP as putting together a 14 or 15 track album without filler is a difficult task even for the most talented artists.  With shorter albums such as Nas' classic debut Illmatic or EPs like the Blue Scholars' The Long March, artists have less room to put in a bad track or two and the results are often albums that you can listen to front-to-back all day long.

This is definitely the case with this six-track EP as every track borders on greatness.  The songs I'd like to single out on the EP are "Rise & Shine" and the Deacon of CunninLynguists assisted-title track "So True."  "Rise & Shine" has become one of my favorite hip hop tracks of all time.  Everything is simply perfect, the soulful sample, the verses, the production-everything lines up for this track to make it undeniably powerful and beautiful.  The same goes for the title track.

At the end of the day, Inverse is one of my three favorite up and coming groups (the others being Dyme Def and Fresh Espresso) and if you like what you hear on So True and see on the equally dope video of "So Far," I highly recommend copping their 2008 release So Far (The Collection).  Definitely make note of the name in the upcoming years.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Kyle Lucas - "Passing My By 2009" feat. Jon Hope, Sean Falyon & Donny Goines

Not the best Kyle Lucas...his verse is good, I'm just not feeling the beat that much.  Still, sub-par Kyle=Better than nearly anything else out there.  Enjoy this track that didn't make the cut for his upcoming mixtape It's Always Sunny In Marietta.  As a bonus, I've included one of my favorite KL joints, his remix of Metro Station's "Control" (co-signed by the band).

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Kyle Lucas - "Passing My By 2009"
(Bonus) Kyle Lucas - "Control (Remix)

Raekwon - "House of Flying Daggers" feat. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah & Method Man [Update: Full Version]

For those of you not familiar with classic Wu-Tang, Raekwon's 1995 solo debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... is a classic East Coast Mafioso rap album (perhaps only surpassed by Jay's Reasonable Doubt as far as Mafioso albums are concerned).  As was a common theme with many of the early "solo" Wu releases, the album heavily features guest appearances from other Wu members/affiliates and the gritty, ominous production of RZA-circa the early 90s.  Just like nearly every first round Wu album, it's simply a classic with a dearth of songs from "Incarcerated Scarfaces" to "Knowledge God" to the classic Wu collaboration "Wu-Gambinos" (I call my brotha sun 'cause he shine like one).

Hip hop heads worldwide have been eagerly anticipating the sequel to this album, OB4CLII, since it was announced back in '05.  The oft-delayed project has frustrated Wu-Stans as label issues with Dr. Dre's Aftermath put the album in danger of never seeing the light of day.  Luckily for us, after the nearly eternal wait, OB4CLII will be dropping September 8th (next month is going to be amazing for hip hop between this, The Blueprint 3, M.O.P.'s The Foundation, new Brother Ali, Bone Thugs, and Kid Cudi). The album is hyped as bringing back the old gritty, raw Wu sound that I love so much as showcased by this track (download below).  September 8th is quickly approaching people.  Get Hyped!

Inglorious Bastards: Better Than The Holocaust?

(Photo courtesy of Seattle’s Guild 45th and The Stranger.  I’ll let you form your own opinions of the image)

(I typically won't post film reviews, but I felt like this film warranted it as it touches on many of the same themes of hip hop, namely the basis of human emotions.)

I finally got around to seeing Inglorious Bastards last night and it didn’t disappoint.  In vintage Tarantino fashion, the film was filled with the over the top violence and dark humor that we’ve come to expect from him and, like his masterpiece Pulp Fiction, opened the door for philosophical questions of what it means to be human.

The Holocaust was one of the worst tragedies ever to befall humanity.  An example of ignorance and hate taken to the extreme, the Holocaust and WWII tore Europe to pieces costing countless lives and irrevocably changing our image of hate.

Macklemore – “Air Jordans (Live)” Video

I’ve been a huge fan of Seattle rapper Macklemore ever since I picked up a copy of his 2005 album, The Language Of My World.  Ever the conscious emcee, Macklemore is a beautiful lyricist who you can truly tell thinks carefully about each and every bar he lays on a track while not being afraid to address controversial issues.  On the first track of The Language Of My World, “White Privilege,” the emcee acknowledges the benefit of his own skin color while questioning if it is in fact his participation in the genre that is killing it  (I see so many people lost who really try to pretend/ But am I just another white boy who’s caught on to the trend).

Macklemore shows his humour on such tracks as “Fake I.D.”, “Ego,” “Penis Song,” and “Remember High School,” as well as the verse he drops for The Physics’ “Good,” but the tracks that I typically associate with Macklemore deal with deeper issues both in hip hop, society, and his own life.  On the Evan Roman assisted “Contradiction,” Mackelmore questions how best to display the different sides of himself as both a sexist, boastful drug user and a conscious rapper who treats others the way he would want to be treated and who wishes to be a role model to the kids that listen to him (We have a flame, your fire’s ignited by sound/ Are you building the empire up or using your fire to burn it down?).

Other issues Macklemore addresses include society’s treatment of the homeless (“City Don’t Sleep”) and his general love of hip hop (“The Magic”).  Perhaps my favorite Macklemore song is “I Said Hey,” a beautiful ode to hip hop music.  I won’t talk about this song because I’ve attached it below and no words I can write will do it justice.

This video is part of an ongoing series by Michael Hebb and Chase Jarvis called Songs For Eating And Drinking which features several very talented Seattle-area musicians (the rest of the videos can be found at their website).  This is my favorite video in the series thus far (followed closely by the one featuring Geologic of Blue Scholars) because Macklemore uses the simple idea of a pair of Air Jordans as a lens to view the changes both in his own life and in hip hop culture.  It is perhaps the best spoken word piece that I have ever witnessed.

Do I stand for change, or will I stay in my box?
These Nikes helped define me, but I’m trying to take mine off.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

"I Said Hey"

Mick Boogie – Mixtapes/Mash-ups

Danger Mouse changed everything.  With the release of the DJ's beautifully produced The Grey Album, a 2004 mash-up of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and The Beatle’s The White Album, Brian Joseph Burton legitimized the mixtape as a genuine and beautiful art form.  Although The Grey Album was released for free, it solidified Danger Mouse’s commercial career as he went on to produce with the likes of the Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, Dangerdoom, and Beck.

Drake – “The Search feat. Saukrates”

I’m unsure what to think of Aubrey Drake Graham.  The Toronto Rapper/Singer/Actor, better known as Drake is an unbelievable talent, but it’s what he has chosen to do with it and will choose to do with it that scares me.

Drake has the potential to be great and has already started to become a proven commercial commodity with hits like “Best I Ever Had” (the video for this song is absolutely ridiculous) and “Successful.”  But on his debut mixtape So Far Gone, Drake often relies to heavily on Auto-Tune and I am hesitant as to how the influence of Lil’ Wayne and often-collaborator and Gay Fish Kanye West will affect him.

Will Drake turn into a solely mindless pop artists like the company he is keeping (“Unstoppable,” “Digital Girl”), or will he continue to put out songs like “Say What’s Real” and this song with Saukrates that is one of the best I’ve heard in the past month (Drake murders this track, particularly on the first verse).  Drake has such great potential as a singer/emcee/lyricist, but I've seen a lot of emcees with great potential squander it in search of money and fame (See said Gay Fish).  Check it.

Brainstorm (Dyme Def) - Say You Will (Kanye Cover) [Video]

I recently rediscovered this video from Dyme Def member Brainstorm.  The thing I like about this video, courtesy of 800LB, is that it's beautiful in it's simplicity.  It isn't flashy, and only involves Brain rapping while a projector displays images in the backdrop.  Unlike the more costly that distract you from the lyrics, this video only further emphasizes the lyrics all the more (I have a hard time thinking of the lyrics of this song with out the visual of the video).  Coming from Seattle, I appreciate the closing seconds with the Kingdome demolition.  As far as the lyrics go, Brain kills it.  Easily better than Kanye.  The only version that I think comes close the be remix by Drake.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

The Saurus vs Madness Pt.1 [Video]

My man just hooked me up with this classic rap battle....
Check it.

The Fugees – “Ready or Not”

As far as Hip Hop lore goes, few garner more respect than the New York trio The Fugees.  Composed of emcee/singer Lauryn Hill, emcee Pras Michel, and singer/emcee/producer Wyclef Jean the group brings a unique blend of Reggae, R&B, & Hip Hop and are a staple of any 90s hip hop head’s collection.

The Fugees released two albums during their original run of 1994-1997.  Lauryn Hill went on to release her critically acclaimed and commercially successful The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998) (I have the utmost respect for this incredibly multi-talented artist who is, unfortunately, an oddity in a genre that is stereotypical viewed as misogynistic).  Wyclef Jean went on to have success, releasing the classic The Carnival (1997), but his career has gone downhill ever since he stopped being himself and started trying to be the next Bob Marley.  Michel decided to focus on acting and soundtrack recording, finding success in “Ghetto Superstar.”  Unfortunately, despite a reunion from 2004 to 2007 that featured a critically acclaimed performance in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2006), no new Fugees album was released and the group split on bad terms.  In August 2007, Michel was quoted as saying that, “Before I work with Lauryn Hill, you will have a better chance of seeing Osama Bin Laden and Bush in Starbucks having a latte.”

This hip hop classic comes off of the defining 1996 Fugees LP The Score—an album which is a member of the ever prestigious and even more exclusive collection of albums that have received 5 Mics in The Source.  This track, a remake of The Delfonics’ “Ready of Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love)” that samples Enya’s “Boadicea,” is perhaps my favorite Fugees track and is instantly recognizable nearly anywhere on Earth.

Fresh Espresso – Glamour. [Review]

I finally got around to copping this 2009 album two weeks ago and I haven’t been able to put it down since.  Though I was familiar with P Smoov’s other group Mad Rad, I’m sorry to say that I had not heard any Fresh Espresso before seeing them open for Dyme Def at the Mural Amphitheater a couple weeks ago.  Though that venue wasn’t the best location to showcase their music (which I feel is more suited for a dark, enclosed club or bar), I was still intrigued and picked up a copy of their debut LP.

Naturally, FE sounds like Mad Rad as P Smoov provides his glossy production as well as singing/emceeing to both groups, but Glamour., also represents an evolution in P Smoov as an artist since White Gold (2008).  Though the P Smoov production on that album is undeniably powerful it could be argued that it was too good, often overpowering the lyrics of the group.  With Fresh Espresso and Glamour., P Smoov teams up with Seattle-via-Bay Area-via-Michigan rapper Rik Rude, an emcee who I feel better matches P’s production.  When Rude goes hard, P turn’s up the heat to match him (both production-wise and lyrically—it should be noted that he has improved in this aspect as an artist as well).  The tracks that result include “Diamond Pistols” (a certified Kickdrum Anthem), “Vader Rap” (a track that samples Styx’s “Mr. Roboto”), and “The Lazerbeams,” but when Rik Rude decides to bring it down, Smoov follows right with him (something that at times was missing on White Gold).  This concoction results in some of my favorite tracks, “Something New,” “Right Here,” “Show Me How You Do,” and “Gigantic.”

FE is the perfect blend of pure, smooth, unadulterated hip hoppery.  At the end of the day Glamour. is one of the best albums I have heard this year and reminds me of ATCQ meets Dyme Def meets The Physics.  As much as I like Mad Rad for being a goofy, hilarious assembly not remotely resembling the prototypical rap group, I love Fresh Espresso for harkening back to the classic hip hop duos like Black Star and OutKast, while still maintaining their own unique sound and style.  As I’ve said before, I won’t typically push the purchasing of music on this site, but Glamour. warrants the exception.  I guarantee that you will be happy with the purchase of this album that I have a feeling, a few years down the road, we will look back on this album as a classic debut.  If you live in the Northwest, you can purchase it at most stores, otherwise you can find it here.

"Diamond Pistols"

"Right Here"

Souls Of Mischief - "93 'til Infinity"

New Posts starting...now:
Simply a classic song, from the Oakland, California group that doesn't get enough credit as it is.  The title track off of their 1993 debut album, this song is one of the most covered songs in hip hop history and has been remade by the likes of Kidz In the Hall, J. Cole, and PH and Kyle Lucas.  The jazzy-sample of Billy Codham's "Heather" will be recognized by any hip hop head worth his/her weight in vinyl.  I won't say any more about the song as I'll let the Souls of Mischief speak for themselves...

Asher Roth and Ludacris - "I Love College Remix"

(I don't think I've ever see a photo that better matched a person's character)
I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate Asher Roth.  I would say that I am annoyed by this sideshow attraction.  Still, I'll give him credit, "I Love College," one hit wonder or not, is still a classic party song and the Luda verse almost makes me feel better about myself for listening to Roth (but then again, I nearly always love Ludacris guest verses).  I thought it would be appropriate as many of us, including myself, start to filter off to our assorted schools.

Even though I didn't finish,
I need my balls tossed like I'm at the line of scrimmage,
Blue 52, said 'Hike' on you hoes,
Eating everything in sight, like a dyke on you hoes.
-Chris "Ludacris" Bridges

Dyme Def - Sportn' Life Promo CD

Just found this old school Dyme Def promo CD (circa 2006) and thought you guys would appreciate it...
It's only three tracks (of which, "Get Down" is on their debut Space Music), but I love it because it finds the group at a more raw point in their career, yet the tracks are still undeniably powerful.

Hannibal King - Eating Cornbread On The Millenium Falcoln

Short post today.  I've got to go places...I've been been waiting for this mixtape to drop since I heard "Let Me Ride" last month (a song that reminds me a little of Cam'Ron's "Hey Ma" and Nelly's "Ride Wit Me").  The NYC producer doesn't actually rap on the mixtape, but the guests are dope as is the production (even the artwork/name cracks me up).  It's short, just over half an hour, and definitely worth checking out.

Mad Rad - "Donut Truck"

While hip hop has a tradition in political activism and low riding alike, there has always been a subculture in hip hop that refuses to take itself seriously.  From the Beastie Boys (with the exception of a few choice tracks off of To The 5 Boroughs) to old-school Busta Rhymes and Ol' Dirty Bastard (check the classic ODB assisted Woo Hah Remix video) to the Bay Area hyphy movement (R.I.P.Mac Dre).  These groups aren't as much concerned with proving how "hard" they are or changing the world with song as they are about just having fun with their music (a quality which is admirable in and of itself).

Enter Mad Rad, a trio from Seattle that represents an evolution in the hip hop of the Emerald City.  Up until the last couple years, the resurgence of hip hop in the Seattle-area had been dominated by conscious-minded artists such as Blue Scholars and Common Market, but as of late several subcultures of emcees have begun to diversify the Seattle hip hop scene.  Artists like D. Black and Fatal Lucciano have helped to develop a gangster rap subculture in the upper left (though these two artists aren't particularly great examples as MCs) and groups like The Saturday Knights, Mad Rad, and Fresh Espresso have helped evolve more of a party rap sound, while groups like Dyme Def remain unclassifiable.

PH (The Artist Formerly Known As Pumpkinhead) - My Era (No Skinny Jeans Allowed)

I'm sorry to say that this is the first work I've heard form PH (I obviously haven't been as up on my hip hop knowledge as I'd like to be).  This mixtape features the Brooklyn MC (who's been around since the mid-90's) and other current underground artists rhyming over classic 90's instrumentals from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Onyx, Nasty NaS, and Souls of Mischief.

The boy brings some lyrical heat and comes close to matching if not exceeding the original artists.  The first five tracks are hot, particularly his remake of Nas' "Halftime," which those of you who, like me, know every word to the original will recognize how closely he stays to the original lyrics while still reinventing the classic.  For the fifth track, Kyle Lucas drops by to assist on the remake of the classic Souls of Mischief song "93 'Til Infinity."  The mixtape gets a little sluggish at tracks six and seven, but PH picks it back up again with an amazing first verse over Erule's classic West Coast gem "Listen Up."  My favorite track off of the mixtape might be the remix of the classic ATCQ "Scenario Remix".  The last five tracks finish as strong as the first five started, ending with the slow-tempo, yet heavy hitting J Sinnastah-assisted "Walk in New York."

For those of you that are fans of Golden Age hip hop, this 2dopeboyz.com and DJ Haze co-signed mixtape is a must have.  Hit the link below for the download link.

Jay-Z - The Blueprint

Few artists can claim to have released one classic album.  Shawn Carter is perhaps the only solo emcee who can justifiably claim to have recorded three classic works.  Over the past 13+ years, the words 'Jay-Z' and 'Hip Hop' have become synonymous.  J-Hova's 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt is widely considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of all time and everyone recognizes The Blueprint and The Black Album (the first album I memorized every word of) as classics.  The thing that keeps us coming back to these albums time and time again is Jay-Z's ability to throw together diverse song styles (both subject and production-wise) and still have the songs flow seamlessly into one another.  The reason why I can listen to these albums all day long as opposed to albums like Legend of the Liquid Swords or When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold isn't because the songs on those albums aren't of a high quality, but rather because they all sound the same (something that takes its toll on the listener by the 4th or 5th song in).

Hova's 2001 album is an undisputed classic.  The Blueprint, released on September 11th, sold over 426K in the first week despite being overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks (Jay would later boast on "The Bounce" that "Rumor has it, The Blueprint, classic, couldn't even be stopped by Bin Laden") and is a nearly perfect album.  The album begins with the applicably named "The Ruler's Back," a great intro track which sets the stage for the classic battle track "Takeover."  A lot of people only remember this heavy hitting track (over a sample of The Doors' "Five to One") as the song that escalated the beef between Jay-Z and Nas.  Though this track helped revitalize Nas' career (which had slumped following the release of his second LP to the point that many thought that this track would end him.  Instead he responded with the lethal "Ether" and the classic Stillmatic) and brought Jay back to his Reasonable Doubt-lyrical prowess, many people forget that the song completely destroyed Mobb Deep emcee Prodigy's credibility.  No pun intended, but since Jay-Z Infamously burned him on Takeover, the Queens MC just hasn't been the same.  The album then drops into some more pop-oriented songs like "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" over a Jackson 5 sample, "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Jigga that Nigga."

Though these songs are more pop-oriented and meant to move more units (the man is a businessman after all),  that doesn't decrease the lyrical content as is the case with many other pop singles of today.  Next up comes the hard hitting "U Don't Know" and "Hola' Hovito," a swagger filled ode to himself over spanish guitars.  This is followed swiftly by one of my favorite tracks of all time "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)," a classic track over the R&B Bobby Blue Band sample (this track along with "Takeover" is just more proof that Kanye West will always be a better producer than lyricist).  This is followed by two of Hov's more introspective and apologetic tracks, "Never Change" and "Song Cry" (a song where he apologizes to a former girlfriend for the wrongs that he had done her and laments the fact that his songs are his only true emotional outlet.  "I can't see'em coming down my eyes, so I gotta make the song cry.")  The album finishes strong with "All I Need," the Eminem-assisted "Renegade" (a classic track the has some of the best verses of either emcees' career.  A lot of people claim that Em killed Jay on this song.  I think they both murder this track), the soulful "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" (another great Jay song), and the hidden tracks"Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)" (one of my favorite tracks from the album) and "Girls, Girls, Girls pt. 2."

Anyway you look at it, The Blueprint is about as close to perfect as any album gets.  If you currently do not have it in your music library, do yourself a favor and go and cop it immediately.  B3 drops September 11th.  Get excited people!

Eminem - "The Warning"

On another note, pop stars should never attempt to diss accomplished battle rappers.  In response to Mariah Carey's "Obsessed" (a catchy track taken out of context, but an incredibly weak diss track).  While Carey's song charted at #11, it doesn't really attack Eminem at all.  Eminem's track on the other hand was never meant to chart and instead goes straight for the jugular and absolutely crushes Carey and Nick Cannon, while throwing in a little self-deprecating humor along the way. Personally, I think the song is better than anything he put on Relapse (other than maybe "Underground") and hope this is a taste of what is to come on Relapse 2.

Eminem- "Infinite"

The best emcees let us view multiple sides of their persona through a wide variety of songs.  The best artists aren't one-dimensional.  They don't purely battle rap (Mobb Deep, DMX) or generate pop hits (Diddy if you can even consider him a rapper rather than a cancerous growth on hip hop).  Likewise, the best rappers don't solely write songs complaining about the state of hip hop (Macklemore, as much as I love him) or party anthems (Asher Roth along with most other one-hit wonders in the game today).  If you look at Jay-Z, he isn't considered one of the best rappers of all time solely for his battle raps ("Takeover"), pop hits ("Hard Knock Life," "Dirt Off Your Shoulders," too many to list), street hits ("No Hook," "What More Can I Say," "Dead Presidents"), or the songs which catch him at his most introspective ("Regrets," "Song Cry," "Moment of Clarity").  He is known as one of the greatest rappers ever, not because of these individual songs, but because of the depth of his catalog and his ability to create a wide variety of hands down classic songs.

J. Cole - The Warm Up

I have to confess that I've been holding out on you guys a little bit for the duration of my posts thus far.  While I've been meaning to get to J. Cole, I've been hanging onto this gem and I'm still unsure as to why.

J. Cole is the next big thing.  Hailing from Fayetteville, NC, this emcee reminds me a lot of Reasonable Doubt-era Jay-Z (a huge compliment considering that Hov's debut album is my favorite of all time) which is perhaps the reason why Shawn Carter signed him as the first artist to his new Roc Nation label after hearing his song "Lights Please."  Cole is a very smart rapper, he graduated from St. John's University Magna Cum Laude, and it shows in his intricate lyricism and wordplay.  He matches his amazing studio tracks with some of the best freestyling ability that I have ever heard (see his Shook Ones verse as well as the "Water Break Interlude" off of The Warm Up).

As far as mixtapes go, his June release, The Warm Up, is as close to perfect as they come.  I love pretty much every track, particularily "Welcome," "Can I Live," "Just To Get By," "Lights Please," "Royal Flush," and "Heartache," to name a few.  I don't dare say it because the hip hop gods my smite me where I stand, but his version of "Dead Presidents" might be better than Jay-Z's original.  Tell me what you think.