Eminem - "I'm Back" (prod. Dr. Dre & Mel-Man)

As much as I like his Eminem-side, Marshall Mathers' Slim Shady persona is always that indulgence in which I feel no guilt about listening.  Both sides of Em are equally talented but are intended to offer the listener two vastly different experiences.  While Eminem is the man himself, one who has a lot of issues and is capable of recording deep, beautiful, introspective songs like "If I Had" and "Stan," Slim Shady is a hyper-polarized, cartoonish parody of modern American culture.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "My Oh My! (Fly Away Dave Niehaus)"

This was a pleasant surprise as two of Seattle's budding stars pay a touching tribute to the biggest figure in Seattle sports history. I still get chills every time I hear Niehaus' ALDS Game 5 call and this song was no exception. It's strange to think of the upcoming Seattle summers without the city's narrator. Neihaus provided the voice of my childhood. My Dad was never the warmest person, but Mariner's games were always the love that we shared in common and could bond over. More than Griffey, more than Randy, more than Edgar, Niehaus was the man who made that possible and for that I will be forever grateful. R.I.P.

Previous: Macklemore - The Town (Sabzi Remix)"

Boom Bap Project - "Welcome To Seattle" (Prod. Jake One)

I'm always surprised that Boom Bap Project is virtually unknown in their own hometown.  The trio of DJ Scene and emcees Karim aka Nightclubberlang and Destro Destructo were some of the forerunners of Seattle's hip hop renaissance at the beginning of the last decade.  BBP dropped their Jake One-produced debut, Circumstance Dictates, in 2001, three years before the first Blue Scholars release.  They then went on to sign with legendary independent label, Rhymesayers Entertainment prior to the release of their sophomore album, Reprogram, in 2005.  Despite their success on a national level and performing with the likes of Eminem, Mos Def, and The Roots, BBP tend to get little love in Seattle other than from 206 hip hop veterans.

Lloyd Banks - "Start It Up" f. Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Ryan Leslie & Fabolous

I typically don't go out of my way to listen to Lloyd Banks tracks, let alone post them on this site.  It's not that he's "too pop" or "gangsta rap."  I appreciate both of those subgenres when done right.  The few songs that I have listened to by the former G-Unit member's song, while not aweful, they've just lacked much substance.  That being said, when a friend recently passed along this song, I simply couldn't resist posting it to the site.

Heiruspecs - "Something For Nothing"

Man, I wanna see everybody jumping,
We can't let y'all get something for nothing.

I have to get back to writing a paper, so I only have a limited time to procrastinate.  In the meantime, enjoy this Jurassic 5-esque classic of this Twin Cities group's 2004 release, A Tiger Dancing.

Heiruspecs - "Something For Nothing"

Big Boi - "Daddy Fat Sax" x "Last Call"

For one reason or another, many hip hop heads have always considered Big Boi to be living in the shadows of fellow OutKast member, André 3000.  Not to take anything away from Three Stacks—as far as rhymesayers go, he’s as innovative as they come—but I’ve always viewed Big Boi an equal member of the groundbreaking duo and actually consider his half of the group’s 2003 double album, Speakerboxxx, to be better from a hip hop standpoint than Dré’s The Love Below.  While André has always been more in the vein of a male Lauryn Hill and is really the only artist other than Hill who can pull off singing and rapping, Big Boi has always kept the group grounded in hip hop sensibilities.

Brother Ali - "Faheem"

I love this song. It’s beautiful, touching, and speaks to me on multiple levels. But I can’t listen to it anymore. I have a hard time listening to this song because, even three years later, it still brings up too many bad memories of my parent’s divorce. 

It’s a testament to the power of music. Music can evoke memories of days long past. Memories of people you have shared a bond with. Memories of first kisses or family holidays or simply being around cherished friends. We innately connect our memories to the music that provided the backdrop for the events as they took place. Hearing the same song again can place one back in those memories and trigger the emotions (good and bad) felt at the time.

J. Cole NYC Ticket Giveaway

Who wants to go see on of the best up-and-coming emcees live?  Jay-Z's protégé, J. Cole, will be rocking the Highline Ballroom in NYC on December 5th along with K. Michelle, CJ Hilton, and Sean Garrett (show info here).  The concert is sold out, but your favorite hip hop blog is giving out a couple of the remaining tickets for free.  The first two people who e-mail me with the correct answers to the following questions will lay claim to the tickets:

Dyme Def - "For The World" | "Rebel 2 The Grain" | 3BadBrothaaas Mixtape

The closing track to one of my favorite albums of all time, "For The World" is perfect wrap-up to Dyme Def's Space Music.  Produced by Bean One, I have to hold this track right up there with "LetitBe" as one of the Seattle trio's best songs.

XV - "Undeniable" x "Right Above It"

Quick post as I have to put the finishing touches on an essay.  It's been a while since Vizzy was last featured on the site.  Part of that's my fault for not being able to post as frequently, but a lot more of it has to do with the (hopefully) momentary drop-off in the quality of the Wichita emcee's music.  His latest mixtape, Vizzy Zone, was about as horrendous as 2009's Everybody's Nobody was superb.  While nearly every song on his previous project was accompanied by excellent lyricism and crisp production (of which "Undeniable" is a perfect example), Vizzy Zone felt like XV was trying to a little too hard to be the next Drake rather than realizing the appeal of his musical style as is.  As a result, nearly every song proved to be skippable and leads this author to be a little hesitant in his anticipation of Vizzy's Warner Bros. debut, The Kid With The Green Backpack.

"Right Above It" restores some level of faith in the listener.  The Drake/Wayne beat is hard to deny as is, but XV's freestyle takes it to another level.  It will be interesting where XV takes his sound for TKWTGB.  Will he maintain his artistic integrity or be pressured by his major label to alter his sound?  Only time will tell, but for now we can still enjoy these excellent tracks from an immensely talented up-and-coming emcee.  Props to Meka.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Wu-Tang Clan - "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber, Pt. 2"

A couple days ago, I took the time to listen to 36 Chambers for the first time in about a year and immediately was reminded of why the album ranks as my second favorite of all time (behind only Reasonable Doubt).  This author had only made three trips around the sun when Wu-Tang released their magnum opus in 1993, but the purely raw sound that pervades the album truly stands the test of time.

Xzibit - "Paparazzi"

People (this writer included) tend to forget that, before he was a reality TV staple/internet meme/ridiculous personality, Xzibit was a halfway decent gangster rapper.  I'm not saying that he was on the same level as Ice Cube or Scarface (he tends to make up for his average lyricism with an intense delivery that would make DMX proud), but he definitely had some hot songs.  "Paparazzi," off of his 1996 debut At the Speed of Life, is probably my favorite X track.  What I really like about this song is it's contrasting elements.  One would think that the slower, eery instrumental (which samples Gabriel Fauré's "Pavane") would clash with Xzibit's hard-hitting cadence, but the two build off each other and produce results that are undeniable.  Enjoy.

Sabzi - Beatballs

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving/Thingstaken.  I know I've had about as much Turkey/Mashed Potatoes/Gravy to last me until next year.  Something that I regret not doing more often on the blog is posting more instrumentals (a shortcoming that I hope to rectify moving forward).  While it is fair enough emcees get a lot of credit for hip hop songs, it is important to recognize that the producer is an essential half to each and every song.  While it is an emcees' intricate wordplay that will keep you coming back to a song over and over again, often it is the crisp instrumental that will draw you in to begin with and, when on cue with an emcee's delivery, can transform a good track into one that is anthem-worthy.

KnowMads - "DoitFortheLove"

To be completely frank, I hated the last album put out by the KnowMads.  I could overlook the arrogance that the group had in naming their latest work Seattle, but what I simply couldn't get past was that, for the second straight release, a group that had showed so much potential on their first two albums had failed to improve, and actually had regressed.  While the production has improved (though the skits tried too hard to imitated Wu-Tang and others), I found the content to be repetitive and very indicative of their age (which, even as a guy around the same age, gets repetitive).  But the most glaring hole came in the lyrics and rhyme schemes which were at times stale and and other times down-right lackadaisical, often relying on "white boy rap" (aka just rhyming the last word of each bar, and sometimes not even making the effort to do that).

It's more than acceptable for artists to have a down album or two.  At the end of the day, Nas won't be remembered for I Am... or Nastradamus (or his tone-def singing on "Street Dreams"), Jay-Z won't be remembered for The Blueprint 3, and Em won't be remembered for Recovery.  Instead, they will be remembered for their multitude of classic albums.  I consider the Knowmads' first two albums to be underappreciated classics (so much so, that I featured them on this blog's first post), and I consider "Sunrise" to be a timeless, beautiful track, but the simple truth is that they are not on that level yet and can't afford to take huge steps backward.

I don't write this post as a "hater" that I will likely be accused of (funny how that word is often thrown around in an attempt to deflect honest criticism).  If you follow the blog, you've probably noticed that I generally write mostly positive things about the music that I post.  I don't post songs I don't like and can't, in good faith, place my seal of approval.  You'll be hard pressed on this site to find the latest Drake (though some of his older material sneaks on from time to time), Trey Songz, or Waka Flocka Flame.  If you want that kind of music, there are plenty of other sites that feature it.

So when you read this post, realize that I have no beef with anyone.  As a supporter of Seattle hip hop and good music in general, I wish the group nothing but the best.  I simply have a distinct problem with a young group that displayed so much talent on their first two releases and is shying away from their potential.  There is still plenty of time for KnowMads to turn it around and, if this song is any indication, they are in the process of doing just that, but the group has to continue to take risks to grow instead of remaining complacent.  At this point, the group has to realize that they are at a crossroads.  They can either shrink from the challenge and be remembered in their circle of friends for what could have been, or they can step up and take their place among the leaders of Seattle's next generation of rhymesayers.

KnowMads has the potential to go as far as they want with their music, but it is now there choice of where they wish to take it.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

P.S. Props to fellow Garfield grad, Tim Willis for co-directing this dope video.

Lupe Fiasco - "The Show Goes On" x "Be Somebody" (w/Fort Minor, Tak & Holly Brook)

Funny how whenever I want to procrastinate, I seem to always post Lupe.  Anyway, "The Show Goes On" is the first official single off of L.A.S.E.R.S. (apparently, "I'm Beaming" doesn't count/didn't make the final cut).  New Lupe is always welcome, but it's especially hard to argue with the Kane Beats instrumental, which samples and interpolates Modest Mouse's hit "Float On" (off 2004's Good News For People Who Love Bad News).  It's about time that Atlantic is putting out this album.  Word is that it will be pushed back until March 8, 2011 (as opposed to December) and evidently Lupe has been done with it since at least last summer.

I know I'm a couple days late on posting this song, which is why I'm throwing in a bonus (you knew I wasn't going to leave you out to dry).  In addition to the explicit version of "The Show Goes On" (which was harder to find than you'd think), I've included this hidden gem off the special edition of Fort Minor's 2005 album, The Rising Tide.  Gotta love that crisp Mike Shinoda production.

Zion I - "Many Stylez" (f. Rebulation) X "Temperature" (f. Talib Kweli)

Zion I absolutely murdered the Brooklyn Bowl last night, putting on one of the best shows I've ever witnessed (probably only topped by being front row for Lupe opening for Wu-Tang at Bumbershoot '07).  Anyone who wasn't there, definitely missed out.  I also had a frank conversation with the group's tour manager, who feels that their upcoming album is better than their magnum opus, 2005's True and Livin', which many (including this author) hold to be one of the best albums of the past decades.  If that's the case, Atomic Clock, set to be released on November 9th, may well border on classic status.

Pharoahe Monch - "Simon Says"

Simon says, "Get The F*#% UP!"

I admittedly haven't listened to nearly enough Pharoahe Monch.  But a guy on my floor recently hooked me up with this track off his 1999 debut, Internal Affairs, and I haven't been able to stop bumping it.  As if the Godzilla sample wasn't hard enough, the lyrics and chorus are ridiculous, making "Simon Says" a must have for any fan of underground hip hop.  Enjoy.

J. Cole - "I'm Coming Home [Demo]"

It's a shame that this is evidently a reference track for Last Train To Paris.  This would probably be the radio hit that J. Cole's been waiting for to really blow up.  Instead, we have to wait for Diddy to jump on and ruin it.  So it goes.

J-Dot had yet to disappoint and the Jay-Z protégé's highly anticipated debut, Cole World drops later this month/early December.  He also has a show coming up in New York on December 5th (if you want tickets, I recommend buying early).  Props to Shake.

Zion I - "Act Right" | Atomic Clock Stream | East Coast Tour

In celebration of the Bay Area duo's latest offering (dropping November 9th), I figured I should post one of my old favorites.  Even a lot of Zion I fans haven't heard "Act Right," which was released on the group's Break A Dawn, their 2006 album that was exclusively released in Japan.  For those fans out there of west coast hip hop, this is a legendary underground group that you absolutely must have in your library.  Zion I has consistently put out great albums since their first official full length LP, Mind Over Matter, back in 2000 and I expect Atomic Clock to be no exception.

Speaking of Atomic Clock, the group will be holding a full album stream online starting at 6:00 EST tomorrow (details here).  Additionally, the group is making a rare east coast tour starting tonight in Providence and ending on November 7th with a set in North Carolina.  For those CU students still in New York over break, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to attend their show at the Brooklyn Bowl on Monday (11/1) as it'll only set you back $5 and the cost of a round trip subway.  East coast shows by quality groups from the Fresh Coast are far too infrequent, so you should definitely take advantage of this occasion.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Blue Scholars - "BUTTER&GUN$ (Loyalty II)" x "The Ave" x "Big Bank Hank"

Quick post tonight, as I have to get back to writing one of my two major paper due this week.

Nelly - "Ride wit Me" (feat. City Spud)

It's impossible to hate this track.  "Why," you ask.  Must be the money.

Jay-Z & Coldplay - "What If We Cry?" X "Lucifer and Friends"

We used to use umbrellas to face the bad weather,
Now we travel first class to change the forecast.

There's no getting around it.  DJ Mick Boogie and sidekick Terry Urban are men of genius.  While their late 2008 remixtape of Adele's 19 was superb it is Viva La Hova that will forever remain the duo's magnum opus.  The 2008 mix up, which mashed-up songs from Jay-Z and Coldplay's respective discographies, still holds as my second favorite remixtape of all time, behind only Danger Mouse's legendary Grey Album.  These two tracks in particular provide us with further evidence of why the mash-up, at it's best, is a truly beautiful art form with the new instrumentals providing new meanings to the songs as a whole.

That's That Mixtape, Vol. IX

It's been nearly six months since I released my last tape.  Since that time, finals and summer internships have kept me from updating the site with any frequency.  Although I've started posting more frequently as of late, it is this tape that marks the complete reboot of the site.  In order to mark the return, I've gone back to my bread and butter with this tape, compiling a ton of classic tracks that have been in heavy rotation on my iPod/walkman for years and mixing in some newer songs from old and new faces.  The result is a mixtape that flows really well and a product that I feel is one of my best tapes yet.  I hope that you'll give it a listen (hit the jump for the tracklist/download link).  As always, I appreciate feedback regarding my music selection and recommendations on artists that the site may be missing out on.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
The Notorious N.O.A.

Champagne Champagne - "Soda & Pop Rocks"

It's surprising that more Seattle hip hop fans haven't heard of Champagne Champagne.  The trio of emcees emcees Pearl Dragon and Thomas Gray and DJ Gajamagic has quietly put out two of my top three favorite tracks released out of the Emerald City over the past ten months.  The problem is that they often don't get they're proper due as both songs came as guest artists on other emcees' albums.  The first, "Kings," came on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' critically acclaimed Vs. EP, the latter, "What You Asked For," was released on State of the Artist's Seattlecalifragilisticextrahelladopeness.

J. Cole - "The Last Stretch" x "Villematic"

It's been a minute since we checked in with young Mr. Cole, but the boy from Fayetteville, North Carolina has been putting in work, releasing a series of jaw dropping songs in the lead up to his debut album (dropping on October 26th).  These two tracks are no exception as J. Cole demolishes each instrumental, dropping one-liner after one-liner.  The first samples Dirty Money's "Angels" and sees Shawn Carter's protegé celebrating the one year anniversary of his critically acclaimed mixtape, The Warm Up.  The latter samples Kanye's "Devil in a New Dress" and will be the title-track to an upcoming mixtape (an obvious allusion to Nas' classic debut that escapes no one).  Both tracks are further testament to J-Dot's skill as a rhymesayer and why many consider him to be the best new emcee around (perhaps only rivaled by Wale).  Hearing these songs makes me drool just thinking about Cole World.

Peace, Love, & J-Dot,

"The Last Stretch"

The Roots - "Doin' It Again" x "The Fire" (feat. John Legend)

While new artists Drake and B.o.B have stolen the spotlight this year from a commercial standpoint, the best album top-to-bottom, in this writer's humble opinion, has been "How I Got Over."  While the title track clearly stands out, all fourteen tracks contribute something to the project and the result is a cohesive meeting of jazz, soul, rock, and, of course, hip hop.  As always, Black Thought provides us with some of the most intelligent, intricate rhymes while ?uestlove proves once again why he's one of the best producers in the game today.  The following are two of my favorite songs off of the release, but the album as a whole is definitely worth picking up for those with the financial means to do so.  Roots fans have further reason to be excited as the group isn't done for 2010.  The group is collaborating with the legendary John Legend for WAKE UP!, an album that will be released on September 21st and can be pre-ordered here.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Chiddy Bang - "Opposite of Adults"

From Will Smith to Beanie Sigel and TLC to The Roots, Philadelphia has always been a hip hop hotbed.  The latest act bursting onto the national scene out of the City of Brotherly love goes by the name of Chiddy Bang.  The pair of nineteen-year-olds, Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege and Noah Beresin, (aka Xaphoon Jones), first met at Philly's Drexel University and have thus far released electronic hip hop with a pop twinge (in the same vain as B.o.B).  The duo often samples popular "alternative" tracks to epic results as is best displayed by this song, which samples MGMT's "Kids."  Chiddy Bang's debut, The Preview, drops on October 11th and will certainly be a project to look out for in the near future.  If you like what you hear, I've linked the group's 2009 mixtape, The Swelly Express, which has more of the same.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Chiddy Bang - "Opposite of Adults"
Chiddy Bang - The Swelly Express

Blue Scholars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis East Coast Tour

Seattle hip hop fans who happened to travel to the Northeast for college/employment/homelessness, this is your chance to rejoice.  Next week, the Blue Scholars and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will be making tour stops in four Northeast locales.  I've linked the facebook page for the New York event (since it's the one I will likely be attending), but you can find information for all four dates here.  I've probably seen the  Blue Scholars eight times since freshman year of high school and they are consistently one of the best live acts I've seen (and rumor has it that they are close to releasing a new album).  As for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the emcee-producer duo released my favorite project of 2009, The Vs. EP, and I have heard nothing but good things about their live performance.  For the New York date, the groups will be performing with local NYC act Outasite.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Brainstorm (Dyme Def) - "Thank You"

One of the most talented Seattle artists in the game today, producer/emcee Brainstorm drops off this cut off of The Celestine Prophecy, which theoretically drops on Friday.  Good to hear the Dyme Def rapper going in on this lyrically-laced track after the relatively subpar Sex Tape.  Can't wait to hear CP.

Peace, Love, & Dyyyyyyyyme Def,

Skee-Lo - "I Wish"

I wish I was a little bit taller,
I wish I was a baller...

Not much explanation is necessary for this song.  The title-track off of Skee-Lo's 1995 debut is simply a classic hip hop track.  I'm sorry that I've been absent lately, but I plan on posting 1-2 times/day consistently now that I'm back in school, so look forward to it and keep your eyes and ears out for That's That Mixtape, Vol. 9, coming in the next couple weeks.

Kanye West - "The Glory" X "We Can Make It Better" (feat. Common, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli & Rhymefest)

Other songs such as "Stronger" and "Can't Tell Me Nothing" may get more attention, but "The Glory" has always been my favorite track off of Graduation.  The uptempo song pretty much speaks for itself.  With production that harkens back to older Kanye stylings with the sped-up sample of "Save The Country" by Laura Nyro backed by the soulful gospel choir, the song provides West with a background over which to best rhyme about his favorite subject--himself.  The uplifting, self-celebratory song sees the talented West begin to compare himself, not only to his peer group, but witnesses him vault to a level few reach in the genre.

Common Market - "Re-Fresh"

The first time that I heard this song, I was hooked.  Five years later, the blaring trumpets of Sabzi's instrumental and the smooth, effortless wordplay of RA Scion still serve as a beautiful reminder of why I first fell in love with Common Market's music.  The first track off of the group's self-titled debut album, the golden age sound of "Re-Fresh" sets the tone for what was likely my favorite album of 2005.  While the passing train at the beginning of the song alludes to the intro on Nas' groundbreaking Illmatic, the next fourteen tracks back up such lofty comparisons.

Nappy Roots - "Good Day" (feat. Gregg Street)

I picked this song because it has a similar feel to my previous post.  With the chorus of children and piano sample, "Good Day" provides a lighthearted backdrop to any summer soundtrack.  The lead song off of The Humdinger, this 2008 song is probably my favorite song by the Georgia/Kentucky/Oakland group Nappy Roots.  Enjoy.

Ma$e - "Welcome Back"

It's been quite a while since I posted and my summer internship/training/relaxing has admitidley led me to neglect the blog.  I apologize to everyone out there for my absence, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of posting (and have a lot of quality music to catch up on).

I figured this song would be applicable for this post.  I've never been a fan of Ma$e, but The Movement's production and sampling of the Welcome Back Kotter theme song on this track is undeniable.  The song served as the title track to the Harlem emcee's 2004 album, which represented Ma$e return to rap after a five-year absence for religious reasons.

So welcome back to old readers and hello to new followers.  I'm sorry for leaving, but I'm back and will be posting as often as my schedule allows.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Sol - Dear Friends, Vol. II

The first thing one notices when listening through the latest offering from this twenty-one year-old Seattle emcee is the refined sound throughout the project.  Productionwise, Solzilla's latest features laid back synth-based instrumentals reminiscent of the backdrops on J.Pinder's Code Red FreEP, released earlier this year.  Unlike Code Red, which featured production from the likes of Seattle legends Jake One and Vitamin D, the Seattle's next generation of producers, Ill Pill, Jack The Ripper, Smile Future, and DJ Green take the helm for the production on Dear Friends, Vol. II.

As far as the emcee himself, Dear Friends, Vol. II represents a huge artistic group for University of Washington junior.  While the first incarnation of the series saw Solzilla at times outmatched by guest artists like Grynch, Vol. II sees him holding his own against fellow next generation Seattle artists J.Pinder and Grynch as well as 206 legend Geologic.  The content addresses pretty much what you would expect from a twenty-something college student, discussing one-night stands ("Not The One") and love of the reefer ("So Damm High," "Spliff Remix"), but also addressing the short 15 minutes of fame that artists receive in the genre ("Cruise Control").  Even the tracks that address the prior subjects prove to be fairly conscious and don't sound like one-diminsional pop songs in any which way.

At the end of the day, Dear Friends, Vol. II is a cohesive project that is a major step forward for Sol as an artist who is sure to be a leader for the next generation of Seattle hip hop.  Hit the jump for the download link/tracklist:

Symmetry & Ryan Lewis - "Feel Right"

This song is listed as "Hip Hop/Rap" in my iTunes library along with the other eight songs off of Symmetry and Ryan Lewis' self-titled 2009 album.  While other songs on the Rhode Island emcee and Seattle producer's album such as "Make Me Yours" and "Back And Business," have more hip hop elements (aka rapping), "Feel Right" transcends genre categorization with synth-heavy beats, an eerilly catchy melody, and a rock drum beat topped by a stirring chorus.  The result is a song that sounds like Franz Ferdinand meets Muse meets MGMT meets Kanye West and provides us with further evidence of Mr. Lewis' brilliance as a producer.  If you like what you hear, I highly suggest downloading the entire album (link above) as well as his critically-acclaimed project, The Vs. EP, which he recorded along with Seattle emcee Macklemore and was one of my favorites of 2009.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Knowledgeable Noah

The Freshmen - "Dreamin' California"

First that I've heard of this Bay Area trio, but I'll be tuning in more after hearing this track.

Kanye West - "Power" (feat. Dwele)

Detroit soul singer Dwele assists on the first single off of Mr. West's Good Ass Job.  It's not "All Falls Down" or "Jesus Walks," but the King Crimson sample goes a long way and it's one of Yeezy's first sans-autotune songs in a while.  Props to 2dopeboyz.

Alicia Keys - "Unthinkable (I'm Ready) [Remix]" feat. Drake

I'm not a huge Drake fan.  I view him as a fairly one dimensional entertainer who only raps about women, money, or why no one respects him because only rhymes about women and money.  For the most part, he's the Britney Spears of rap, a former child actor who has been molded into a product to be shoved down the throats of American preteen girls everywhere.  Before those of you who have followed Drake's career speak up, I'll admit that The Comeback Season was a solid effort, but with the material he has released since So Far Gone, it is clear that we will likely never see that Drizzy again.  That being said, every now and then he puts out a decent track, such as this adlib over Alicia Keys' single off of her critically acclaimed 2010 album, The Element of Freedom.  Drizzy's only on the track for about fourty-five seconds, but he should be given credit for not blowing it.

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Beatnick & K-Salaam Remix)

The NYC production team of Beatnick & K-Salaam present us with a very different and interesting remix of the iconic Nirvana song.

Peace, Love, & Kurt Cobain,

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Beatnick & K-Salaam Remix)

The Roots - "Dear God 2.0"

The legendary Philly hip-hop band remakes Monster of Folk's "Dear God" for this lead single off of their upcoming How I Got Over (dropping on June 22nd).  Hit the jump for the tracklist.  Props to The Smoking Section.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Previous: The Roots - "Act Too...The Love Of My Life" (feat. Common)

PackFM - "I F*cking Hate Rappers" (prod. Tonedeff)

Anyone who ain't rappers, lets have a show of hands,
'Cause there's too many rappers, not enough fans.
Used to be about the posses, crews, cliques, and the clans,
Now these little young boys thinkin' they the f*ckin' man.
They the reason fans only gave Lupe a chance,
'Cause they thought "Kick, Push" was the name of a dance.

Brooklyn emcee PackFM brings the heat on this title track off of his 2010 sophomore album and follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2006 release, Whut Duz FM Stand For?  Pack goes after everyone, but particularly calls out the legendary Common.  In a recent interview with HipHopDX, Pack explained the diss:
Remember "The Bitch In Yoo?" Common was getting at Ice Cube real hard for switching his whole style up to whatever was the flavor of the month and for being in movies. Look at Common now.  I think Common is a talented writer, but he's shown that he's not above flippin' the script for the sake of relevance.
On another note, I apologize to my readers for my complete lack of posts during the past two weeks.  This semester was particularly difficult for personal reasons that I won't go into, but I've needed the time at home to decompress (mostly via videojuegos and hanging with my ladyfriend).  But now I'm back and I intend to get back to regular posting over the next couple days.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Sol - "Not The One" (prod. Jack The Ripper)

The first leak off of Northwest emcee Sol's upcoming FreEP, Dear Friends, Vol. II, which will set to be released on May 21st.  Hit the jump to see Solzilla's promotional video for the project.

Hi-Tek - "Music For Life" (feat. J Dilla, NaS, Common, Busta Rhymes & Marsha Ambrosius)

I'm dead tired and I've got one last final tomorrow morning separating me from freedom, so I'm going to make my one post of the night count.  This is perhaps my favorite song off of one of my favorite sophomore albums of all time.  Like most other producer-turned-rappers' projects (*ahem*...Mr. West), Hi-Tek's Hi-Teknology 2: The Chip at times relies to heavily on guest artists, but the Cincinnati artist holds his own on this final track despite solid efforts from legends Nas and Common.  "Music For Life" is beautiful from top to bottom and even manages to sneak in a cameo by the late, great, J Dilla by way of the saved voicemails at either end of the song.

Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,

Hi-Tek - "Music For Life" (feat. J Dilla, NaS, Common, Busta Rhymes & Marsha Ambrosius)

Freddie Gibbs - "The Ghetto" [Music Video]

I've said it before and I'll likely say it again: Freddie Gibbs reminds me of Tupac Shakur.  It's not just that the XXL Freshman has a similar voice and delivery to revered hip hop martyr, the two also share a similar content to their music.  Both use gangster rap as a tool to display the struggle, the beauty, and the emotion of lower socioeconomic life in modern America.  Gibbs may not yet have the pedigree of Shakur and it is unlikely that he or any other rapper ever will, but the Gary, Indiana native is still a very promising emcee who is the first young rapper I've heard in quite some time who has taken the subgenre of gangster rap back it its roots as a political tool.

For those of you who have not yet done so, I highly recommend downloading the tagless version of midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik I've attached the radio edit of this first single off of Gangsta Gibbs' upcoming Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape. If someone could hook me up with the explicit version I would be eternally grateful.  UPDATE: Brought this back up to the top as I recently came into possession of the dirty version by way of Fake Shore Drive.

The Physics - Three Piece

It's been a while since we heard new music from this Seattle trio.  Despite rumors of another project to be released at the end of last summer, we had to settle for the High Society FreEP, released way back on the first day of July last year.  I say settle as if that were a bad thing.  In truth, High Society ended up being one of my favorite albums of last year, but ten months later, you have to be slightly disappointed that the talented Emerald City group has only managed to release these three additional songs in that time frame.

Now that I've got that off of my chest, let me present the latest from South End natives Thig Natural, Just “Justo” D’Amato, and Monk Wordsmith.  Three Piece only clocks in at just a hair over twelve minutes, but is amazing even in its brevity.  Assisted by Maniac B of The Stay Hi Brothers and backed by DJ Nphared production, "Coronas On Madrona" looks to be one of the anthems of the idyllic Seattle summer.  Next up, the soulful "My Place" presents a sound reminiscent of previous Physics releases ("Back Track," "Slicka This Year").  Finally, supported by Justo's crisp production, "Jet Set" concludes the set with a song centered Monk Wordsmith's daily white collar life and the ways in which it effects his own and others' perceptions of his hip hop.

J. Cole - "Show Me Somethin'"

Another quick study break... This track originally showed up on the pre-Warm Up mixtape, American Dreamin': A History Lesson On J. Cole, which was a DJ Tay James and J. Tinsley-hosted project containing many songs that had either previously been on The Come Up or were set to be on Cole's breakout 2009 mixtape.  This is one of the tracks that was on neither mixtape and about a week before the release of The Warm Up, Tinsley released this DJ-free rendition.  For those of you J. Cole fans who have yet to hear this emotional, uplifting song, it is a must download.  It doesn't display Cole's most intricate rhyme schemes, but he doesn't mess around and the self-produced instrumental combines with the inspiring images invoked by the Fayetteville, North Carolina native's natural storytelling in a way that is vintage J. Cole.  "Show Me Somethin'" demonstrates further proof of why, at least in this blogger's humble opinion, Cole is the best up and coming emcee in the game today.  Hit the jump for the lyrics.

Peace, Love, & J-Dot,

Kanye West - "School Spirit"

Remember when Kanye only dressed preppy like a douchebag, but was generally not an asshole?  Sigh...  Anyway, there's nothing I can do to prevent the upcoming onslaught of finals, but I can still voice my political dissent through Yeezy's 2004 track off of The College Dropout.  Hey, if I fail, I can dropout and be a superstar producer/rapper/douche...though that would require me to like fishsticks.  Maybe I'll just become a full time blogger.  I've heard that's a fairly lucrative and glamourous profession.  SMH.

Epsilon Project - "Mics On" x "Inspiration" (Prod. Kev Brown)

I'd like to take this moment to introduce you to Epsilon Project.  EP is a collective of three emcees, three emcee/producers, and one deejay out of Oxnard, California (a community of just under 200,000 approximately sixty miles west of Los Angeles that is also home to underground legend Madlib).  The group has been making music together since 2004, and their 2007 full length debut, Raising The Bar was met with positive reviews with the group's sample-heavy production being favorably compared to that of Slum Village in their prime.  EP is in a similar position to the one that Seattle's Blue Scholars found themselves in a few years back.  Like the Scholars, Epsilon Project has been grinding in their hometown for sometime now, but has only recently started to gradually accumulate national attention due in part to an exceptional live act that has gained exposure while opening for established acts such as Ghostface, De La Soul, and KRS-One.