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.