Thursday, June 26, 2008

HanSoul: "Imagination"

In high school I wanted to be HanSoul so bad.

I had the same hair and clothes he had in his video, and I wanted to master the same dance moves he and his crew showed off in the below video. And of course I had those Girbaud overalls he was rocking. Actually, I still have them.

Anyway this video reminds me of the time in my life when my biggest worry was if I should get a fade once or twice a week. (I settled on getting one twice a week during basketball season and once a week the rest of the time.)

I even chose my DJ name (DJ Hand Solo) because of this guy's stage name.

Apparently HanSoul has gone the pious route and now makes Christian rap music and spreads the word of Christ wherever he goes.

I have been searching all over for this mp3 so if anybody has it please leave it in the comments section!

Big shout out to Temple University and Philly.

Mini Me Shows Off His Mini Me

When all else fails, "leak" a home made sex tape to the media to boost your visibility.

At least I'm guessing that's the approach Vern "Mini Me" Troyer took when, just as his new movie is tanking at the box office, a sex tape of him and his ex girlfriend turned up online.

Of course, broke the story:

"Yes, that's Mini-Me Verne Troyer in a sex tape shot with his former live-in girlfriend at the couple's apartment. A third party has snatched up the tape and although no deal has been made, we hear dealer Kevin Blatt, who brokered the deal for Paris' video, is entertaining a $100k offer from SugarDVD to distribute the nastiness. We would have thought the tape was worth at least ONE BILLION DOLLARS."

Viewer discretion is advised because of the abnormally deviant situation depicted in the video.

Hi Haters, He's Back From Hiatus!

Raekwon is like Jadakiss, to me. Hardly any of their rhymes sound bad, but that's because their voices are so unique and they have mastered the art of flowing beautifully.

But then you hear their albums and actually listen to their lyrics and find yourself wondering "how did a person with all this talent put out this terrible product?"

This is precisely what has maligned Raekwon for the better part of the past decade. Aside from a few bright spots as a featured guest on random songs, his career has been in the toilet since releasing one of the best Hiphop albums ever created.

He's been pressured into making a sequel to that album, and at one point was working with Dr. Dre to produce the album -- a move that many of us east-coasters found to be curious and a borderline desperate move that may very well tarnish the original album's legacy.

In fact he's been working on the Cuban Linx Part II for about four years, with no results. The whole thing is reminiscent of Dr. Dre's infamous "Detox" album, which was announced seven years ago but has yielded no music for public consumption.
Let all the hating on Raekwon cease! Raekwon is back!

So just when I had all but given up on Rae -- especially after hearing his recent foray into R&B -- a new track from AZ's new mixtape to be released in August surfaces featuring Rae and some guy named Charlie Rock.

My first thoughts were to ignore it but AZ is one of the best and most consistent rappers ever, and since I enjoyed his last album so much I figured it wouldn't hurt to check this track out.

I'm glad I followed my instincts.

After a crazy 16 from AZ and a forgettable verse from Charlie Rock, Rae brings it home with his unmatchable flair and ease on the mic.

Rae's recent renaissance actually started a couple of months ago when OutKast's Big Boi leaked a single from his upcoming solo album. The song featured Andre 3000 and Raekwon, both in rare form with excellent verses.

But I thought nothing of it since Andre is routinely great and Rae is reliably unreliable. But with the release of AZ's song I'm hoping the real Rae we all know and love is back for good.

His verse -- rapped in classic Wu-Tang slang and style -- from the song follows (as best I could interpret it...), as well as a link to the AZ song after that.

"Put on ya thinking caps,
Sold the dro off the bat.
I gotta get high
The Enzo's swole and it's fly.
We hold paper, player
The feather in my hat is plush
If it falls, I gotta shoot down ya medals.
Titanium rum
Drunk at the Gucci outlet
Put it ya mouth, b*tch, yum.
You know the chasers and the baseheads
Those my friends
I had to sell when the case fell to pay my rent.
They said all them n*ggas in the crib cook
Bag up blocks of coke
Go to jail and listen to Kim.
That slow motion sh*t
What? We crooks,
Good jooks,
Catch us on the block with Cazals and Tims.
From my mans, Ray Blends,
Call him Rayful Eds.
Stick a church man, burn him and skate on rims.
We the 90s,
N*gga, rewind these lime weeds,
My Guyanese mossies smoke buds and cleanse
Big gems.
New glocks,
The stocks is in.
Catch me on the block cockfighting with hens."

The Secret feat. Charlie Rock & Raekwon - AZ & DJ Absolut

The Today Show Misidentifies Jay-Z

Here is a prime example of why journalism will always be met with a slanted eye from the skeptic public.

Every newsroom of every major media outlet is severely lacking in diversity, and normally the editors are majority Anglo.

And if there is some color making the decisions, they seem to be drastically out of touch with the people who look like them and overly eager to continue to try to identify with the folks who do not look like them. (See Milton Coleman for more on this.)

And now The Today Show, NBC's prized morning news show, has shown the glaring deficiency of diveristy that obviously exists in their newsroom.

NBC's Lee Cowan did a piece on Barack Obama being on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Cowan then talks about Obama's musical tastes, saying that the Democratic Presidential nominee "describes his iPod as a mix of everything from Stevie Wonder to Jay-Z."

As Cowan said Stevie Wonder's name, video footage rolled of Stevie performing, doing that recognizable movement with his head and neck while singing.

Then Cowan says the name "Jay-Z," and then an image of rapper Joe Budden mysteriously appears on the screen before Cowan continues on with the story. Yeah, I'm scratching my head on this one, too.

You mean to tell me that NO ONE in the entire NBC newsroom knows what Jay-Z looks like? Even worse, Matt Lauer has interviewed Jay-Z on The Today Show before! Did Lee Cowan not see the edited piece until it rolled? That's unlikely but possible.

But for a network that has so much coverage of celebrities, there is literally not one single plausible excuse for this mix up.

Do you think the same mistake would have been made if they mentioned, say, two Jewish celebrities? And if they did we already know a correction and apology would have been issued immediately. That's not anti-Semitism, that's reality.

Looking at the picture above there is obviously a clear difference between how the two rappers look.

This is similar to how Sarah from The Real World Hollywood came out of nowhere and venomously said her roommate Nick looks like Charles Barkley.

I bet the minority college graduate -- who is trying to advance in the business but is assigned to sorting mail downstairs -- could have helped the ignorant person who put this piece together get it right.

And still, despite all of that, there was no correction or apology or clarification issued after the piece was finished.

The ironic part is that the focus of the story is on the first African-American to lead a major party's Presidential ticket. Imagine if they had rolled footage of Roy Innis instead of Obama.

Sad thing is there will be no outrage over this. This may have been an honest mistake but they most likely came about making the mistake because of archaic hiring practices that keep the decision makers very ivory while the bottom feeders stay decidedly ebony. It's not a coincidence.

Here are some anonymous comments from a minority journalist's e-mail list that I subscribe to:

"Are you f-ing kidding me!?! WOW!"

" Sad. Just sad. I know Joe Budden is happy for the publicity though. He has been M.I.A. for a while."

"When was Joe Budden in Rolling Stone? A full page photo? I got issues with that ;-), but seriously, this is not a good thing, but it just shows once again, mistakes happen. This one, however, could have easily been avoided."

"You know I "listened" to that package, but I don't remember looking up from my desk to watch. Unfortunately, that's what most people are doing now-a-days, too. Even though TV news is a visually based format, most people are so busy now that they only "hear" the stories we put together. I AM surprised no one caught that before it aired though! WOW!"
All of this lends too much credence to the popular saying that white folks think all black folks look alike. The video of Lee Cowan's piece follows.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Crooklyn Dodgers Reunion in BK on Saturday

Celebrate Brooklyn and the Lyricist Lounge are presenting a 90 underground Hiphop extravaganza on Saturday in Prospect Park.

Hosted by two of the original members of the Crooklyn Dodgers, Buckshot and Special Ed, the concert will feature other Crooklyn Dodgers alumni Masta Ace, O.C., Chubb Rock and Jeru the Damaja.

Also on the bill is Masta Ace's new group eMC, a four man crew made up of Ace, Wordsworth, Punchline, and Ace protege/Milwaukee emcee Stricklin. They just a few months ago released "The Show," a very good conceptual album about a Hiphop group on a low-budget tour.

Jungle Rock Junior, the reggae-influenced artist formerly known as Chip-Fu, from the 90s group Fu-Schnickens, completes the show's roster.

And it's all $free.99.

No word on if the Crooklyn Dodgers 3 team will make an appearance, but it couldn't hurt! Jean Grae better be in attendance, at least, retirement be damned! I will give Memphis Bleek a pass for being absent if he promises to stay home and practice writing rhymes, something he obviously hasn't done much of since the summer of '96. I'm pretty sure Mos will be too busy to even know about the event but that would be a good look if he showed up. Especially seeing that it is Brooklyn, the place he pays homage to in every one of his rhymes. Mos might be overseas filming a movie, getting his money, though, so I couldn't blame him for that. We need some new music from him soon! But I digress...

I confess to never loving the first Crooklyn Dodgers effort, but the song was everywhere that summer. It''s still debatable if Q-Tip produced it or J. Dilla.

I think it's pretty curious that none of the three Brooklyn anthems were produced by Brooklyn beat makers.

Here are videos for all three installments of the Crooklyn Dodgers, in the order they were released:

Nate Dogg: I Don't Replace Them, I Chase Them

OK, I'm noticing a pattern here -- Nate Dogg habitually gets arrested for wilding out on women.

And after hearing about his arrest on Monday, I see nothing has changed.

You would think a man who is fresh off a stroke would see life from a different perspective and approach every day without that same reckless abandon that keeps him in trouble. But if you thought that then you were wrong.

Nate was charged on Monday with making terrorist threats and driving with a suspended license. But this arrest, like with many of his past criminal incidents, has to do with a woman. And a deeper look into the situation reveals that immediately before the arrest he was actually chasing his ex-girlfriend on a California freeway, driving recklessly and making menacing threats toward her the whole time. She called the police, who apprehended both vehicles and arrested Nate, who obviously shouldn't have been driving in the first place. He pleaded guilty Tuesday morning.

And it's not a coincidence.

In June 2000, Nate was arrested at his home for both kidnapping his then-girlfriend and being a felon in possession of a firearm. In that incident he "allegedly" held his ex against her will, assaulted her, and then finally set her mother's car on fire. He was charged and booked for arson, making terrorist threats, and domestic violence. A gun was found on him during is arrest. I guess when he made bail he went and threatened his ex again because all charges were subsequently dropped except for one -- the gun -- and incredibly Nate, the felon, only got three years of probation and charged a $1,000 fine.

And just three months ago Nate pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence, aggravated trespassing and battery stemming from a 2006 incident when he broke and entered into a house where his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend just happened to be. Nate then took that opportunity to punch the new boyfriend in his face several times before deciding to leave. In that case he was sentenced three years informal probation, which included mandatory completion of a domestic violence/batterers treatment program and not owning a weapon for 10 years.

If I weren't such a lazy researcher I would list some more examples, since we all know there must be more. This type of behavior doesn't just happen to manifest itself starting eight years ago for a man who was already into his 30s at that point. I didn't even list the random drug and gun busts that will help keep this man under California legal supervision for decades to come.

I love his songs and his voice -- he's the new era T.J. Swan for real! -- but if there was ever a time to fall back and chill, this is it! He makes Mack 10 look like Mother Teresa!

Pharrell on the Cover of Paper Magazine

Superproducer and Virginia's favorite son Pharrell Williams graces the cover of the new June/July issue of Paper Magazine, which has a nice little feature on Skateboard P and some of his passions beyond the music.

Pharrell discusses his obsession with high fashion when the interviewer asks about his huge bag he has with him -- the same bag he is seen flaunting on the magazine's cover.

"Don't call it a murse," he says, pulling out his second look from the gargantuan purple croc Hermès tote, which he has accessorized with another Jacob keychain, this one covered in yellow diamonds to match the bag's gold hardware. "It's not a man purse. It's my travel bag." A custom-made Haut a Courroies to be exact, the bag that inspired the smaller, obsessively collected style that was named after British actress Jane Birkin. Williams declines to say how much he paid for it because that would be "tacky," but when pressed, admits that it costs as much as a high-end Mercedes. He has six of them in various colors. And another on order.
Frightening to think he has that much disposable income that he can pay the amount is costs to buy a top notch Benz for a damned hand bag.

It's a decent read, and it's online now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NYT: Obama is Pissing in the Wind

If what The New York Times is reporting is true, then Barack Obama is setting himself up for a big disappointment.

When it comes time for Election Day and all the American Muslims who are registered to vote do not cast their ballots for the Democratic candidate as a response to how Obama is not paying them enough attention or courting their votes, he will realize his mistake.

I understand it's a touchy situation considering Obama is often mistaken for a Muslim. Not to mention his middle name is Hussein. But to shun the Muslim community entirely makes him no better than George W. Bush, who will be forever defined by his hate/fear of Muslims.

From today's article:

"While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations — unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts — have been ignored. Last week, two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by campaign volunteers from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit.

After the episode in Detroit last week, Mr. Obama telephoned the two Muslim women to apologize. “I take deepest offense to and will continue to fight against discrimination against people of any religious group or background,” he said in a statement.

Such gestures have fallen short in the eyes of many Muslim leaders, who say the Detroit incident and others illustrate a disconnect between Mr. Obama’s message of unity and his campaign strategy.

“The community feels betrayed,” said Safiya Ghori, the government relations director in the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

The article goes on to refer to a Pew Research Center poll that found that 10% of registered voters believe Obama is a Muslim.

If Obama doesn't get his act together he will lose votes from both Muslims who feel alienated as well as the populace who do not wish to vote for the Muslim that they believe he is.

It is very telling when America's first Muslim Congressman, Iowa Democrat Keith Ellison, says that “A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way.”

Jayson Blair He is Not

London's Times Online is reporting that a Macedonian journalist committed several murders and then reported on them for his paper, Utrinski Vesnik.

But these weren't just murders. They were grisly, demented murders of a sexual nature.

The Times Online reports:

Vlado Tanesvski, from Macedonia, is accused of raping and torturing four elderly women before strangling them with a telephone cable, wrapping their mutilated naked bodies in plastic bags and dumping them at various waste disposal sites. He then visited the victims’ homes to interview their families for his reports and kept close contacts with detectives and prosecutors working on the case.

“The victims were killed with a monstrous brutally. Their bodies were butchered with knives and their skulls were shattered. He would insert blunt objects in their genitalia, in once case it was a bottle of after-shave,” Ivo Kotevski, a police spokesman in the former Yugoslav republic , told The Times.
If there is one silver lining to this story it is that unlike Mr. Tanesvski's DNA, there were no traces of plagiarism and that aside from actually committing the murders himself, the ethics of journalism seem to have been upheld.

Uncle Murda Videos, By Popular Demand!

Because of the incredible, nonstop feedback we've been getting following our initial post on Brooklyn's own Uncle Murda, we here at have decided to bless you with some of the gullyest video footage of our favorite Uncle.

Enjoy the machismo, bravado and sh*t-talking!

Shaq to Kobe: Tell Me How My Ass Tastes!

Anybody who knows anything about rap music knows that Shaq is a true Hiphopper, representing for the culture any and every chance he gets.

6 albums, two platinum and two gold. That's better than many established rappers's careers.

So it was no surprise to find Shaq live on stage freestyling the other night. What was a surprise, however, was when, during his freestyle, he came out and dissed Kobe for not being able to win an NBA title without him. That was a jab. Shaq was only warming up.

A few bars later Shaq goes for the KO blow when he rapped that Kobe snitched on him and is the reason why he's getting a divorce. Shaq also denied in the rhyme that he ever paid his would-be mistresses to remain silent about their trysts.

The crowd can't believe what they're hearing when Shaq encourages them to sing along with the hook that he creates on the spot for this impromptu song: "Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes!" By the end of his rhyme, he has the whole crowd singing the hook all on their own. Even the irrelevant and random rapper Corey Gunz can be seen on stage next to Shaq having a good laugh at Kobe's expense.


Star Trak's Last Hope?

Star Trak Records at one time seemed more like a family of artists who all seemed to be on the same wave length, always performing together and working together and churning out some of the best Neptunes production to this date.

Kelis, The Clipse, The Neptunes and N*E*R*D were all in full swing, all still somewhat new, and touring like crazy.

But now that Star Trak roster has been seriously decimated. The now veteran acts I spoke of above are all on separate labels and hardly work with each other anymore.

Kelis futuristic sound has been traded in for a smoother, more refined and traditional approach to singing by Robin Thicke.

The Clipse's grimy yet witty coke raps have been replaced by newcomer Charles Hamilton's more playful and carefree rhymes.

And peripheral yet vital Star Trak affiliate Roscoe P. Coldchain devoting more time to staying out of jail than staying in the studio, it would seem the last of the originals are Chad and Pharrell, and Shay.

But what about Fam-Lay, Norfolk's finest who we first heard on The Clipse's debut album in 2002? Let's not forget about Fam, who has been putting in work over the last year releasing a mixtape as well as leaking a number of tracks to the internet for his hungry fans to grab up.

His style is decidedly country but with a hustler's mentality. Not exactly the most original approach, but considering who introduced him to the masses, I guess it's only right that he's guilty by association.

Here are a few of his outstanding tracks, in no particular order, that need more recognition:

No Time For No's Feat. Pharrell & The Clipse: This beat is crazy with Neptunes sounds galore and a sick bassline, but Malice gets takes the crown as he goes on about how he's so busy and important that he just doesn't have any time in his life for a woman that will tell him "no" in any capacity. He starts his verse off by singing the first couple of bars:

"I just wanna have relations...
Without complications...
With no expectations...
Strictly for sport b*tch,
But this ain't no court, b*tch!
More like Courtyard Marriot.
Oh, the canary rock?
Well that's the worm on the fish hook.
Soon as the bitch look, the b*tch hooked.
Accurate description, it's like fishin'."
This song is going on two years old now and it would have rocked from the clubs to the jeeps with ease.

I'm told to be on the lookout for Fam's new mixtape, tentatively called The Dirty Way.

Da Beeper Song Feat. Pharrell: This one sounds like something straight out of Slim Thug's vault of Neptunes beats. Fresh organs with a deep 808 over a bouncy beat. Another slept-on gem. No real quotables here but Fam steps his style game up and flips and ill flow throughout the song that's worth noting.

Fresh n' Drivin' Feat. Pharrell: Noticing a trend here? Yep, it would seem that Fam can't make a hot song without Skateboard P. But to Fam's credit, he is not the only artist to fall under that category. This song is heavy on the Neptunes synths and comes off as a cool summer song, and while some might say Pharrell wails on the hook, others with trained ears will admit that his wailing complements the song perfectly and was just what it needed to be complete. Anyone would have sounded dope on this song, so of course Fam shines.

Recently Fam seems to have gone in a different direction musically with the release of his latest single, "War Music," on which he just can't find the beat, so he comes off as a bit rhythmless. To his credit, the beat is wack anyway, but Fam still has some decent rhymes and you can see his growth as an emcee.

Now is the time for Pharrell and Chad to step in and bless this man with beats and cash in on his talent while the southern rap market is still lucrative. Fam opened up for N*E*R*D when I saw them about 3 years ago and he had a Lil Jon song and everything, and even that never got released!

This can probably be attributed to record label drama, as he was signed to Def Jam a few years ago, so, sadly enough, I expect him to languish in Joe Budden obscurity for the remainder of his rap career. I hope he proves me wrong, though.

Here are two other random but decent Neptunes-produced Fam-Lay tracks:

Head Bussa Feat. Pharrell
Git Busy (B Side of Fresh n' Drivin)

Imus Needs More People

Don Imus, clearly going full steam into panic/damage control mode, announced this morning on his radio show that his comments yesterday about a football player's criminal past being somehow related to his race were misunderstood and taken out of context.

For 100% clarification, I will print the brief exchange between Imus and his loser sidekick who shall remain anonymous:

Imus: “What color is he?”
“He’s African American.”
Imus: “Well there you go… now we know.”
24 hours later he's singing a brand new song. The Puff Daddy remix:

"What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason," Imus said Tuesday. "I mean, there's no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once."
Too late. Pacman Jones is pissed -- and seizing this opportunity to finally play the role of the victim after he's been cast as the evil villain for that past two years. In an ironic move, Pacman was quoted as saying "I will pray for him." I wonder if Pacman was praying the day he decided to made it rain in a Vegas strip club with more than $81,000 in cash, inciting a riot that resulted in a triple shooting. But I digress... is reporting that there will likely be no consequences for Imus. Big surprise.

Monday, June 23, 2008

DJ Premier's Latest Hits

Why oh why do people younger than I sleep on DJ Premier?

This guy is a standard-setter, and has been ever since he came on the scene in 1989 with his incredible scratching ability.

It wasn't until a couple of years later that he refined his sound while also redefining what is now that classic New York City Hiphop sound -- boom bap Hiphop music.

Now he has a sound that is both instantly recognizable and while impossible to duplicate.

And after what seemed like a couple of years off from rap to get that money from Christina Aguilera, it seems that Premo is back in a major way in 2008.

In no specific order, here are my favorite DJ Premier-produced joints of 2008 -- thus far:

1) Real N*gga Quote - Rhymefest: Equally as much a political statement as it is an examination of the N word, Premo outdoes himself on this beat with his vintage sound. It's really kind of a throwback when you consider the addition of Malcolm X vocals over the last part of the track. Quotable:

"That's why I say f*ck 'em all
Hillary, Jesse Jack even Brarck is involved
When police beatin' that ass
None of y'all will do a damn thang.
But you can raise $100 million for a campaign?
Homey, ya better explain!
I'm in cell with a n*gga that look like Ving Rhames!"
2) On the Rise Again Feat. Haylie Duff - Kool G Rap: No doubt this is an unexpected collaboration, but it works. Classic Premier drums, a sick strings loop, minimal bassline, and ridiculous scratching on the hook with Duff's vocals as the perfect complement. G Rap is still living the fast life, and he kills it with top notch crack raps. Quotable:

"My main alliance was cocaine giants
N*ggas had more material than Lane Bryant's
Had the block flooded with customers and clients
They had the metric system down to a science.
Up and down the strip in the gulliest whips"
3) Criminal Minded 08 -- KRS-One: Starting off with Premier verbally dedicating the track to Scott LaRock followed by the Blast Master singing in the same cadence from the original version of the song, before the first drum hits you already can feel that this one is special. We haven't had a KRS-Premo collabo in years, so I'm glad they didn't half step when recording this. You already knew Premo would hold up his end of the bargain but I wasn't sure if Kris would come with that boom bap rap or that holier than thou mumbo jumbo that alienated much of his original fanbase. Over a crisp, sinister Premier beat, KRS doesn't disappoint, aiming his hatred at the everlasting sucker emcee. Quotable:

"Yo Premier, why these rappers so soft?
Their corny ass raps be making me doze off!
When I spit lyrics, I step farther/step-father, like ya other dad."
4) Just (remix) -- Mark Ronson Feat. Alex Greenwald & Blaq Poet -- I know I sound like a broken record, but this is Premier at his best! A remix of a Radiohead song, and also a remix in the true sense of the term, Premier uses the original song's horns and vocals and adds his boy Blaq Poet (from Queens rap group Screwball) for a ridiculous 16 bars about a guy debating on taking his life. Quotable:

"You can't take it, take a razor and erase it.
On the 15th floor lookin' at the pavement.
Just do it, don't think, go 'head, fly
Might do it on the first try, just die.
Just forget it, you ain't been sh*it your whole life.
Do the world a favor, do it to yourself twice.
Get some pills, a gun, or a sharp knife.
Goddamn, you can't even do this right.
Too much stress, too much pressure.
F*ck the world, the note's on the dresser.
Smack my boss, and kiss the kids.
Let my wife know that she's a cheatin' ass b*tch.
And just take that leap
And hope you make real big mess in the street
As the world goes on not missing a beat
Don't do it to yourself, don't listen to me!"
Here are the rest of my favorite 2008 Premier joints:

Big Shug - Like a Muhf*ckah: Premier experiments with a new, slower style while still maintaining that sound we all know and love him for. Of course, his scratching is ever present on the hook. Shug isn't the best emcee but he puts together a somewhat conceptual song regarding the emphatic street colloquialism, "like a muhf*ckah".

Little Vic - The Exorcist: I know nothing about this rapper except he's decent on this basic Premier beat. But there's something about dude's flow (his lyrics are not spectacular) over this easy-going, bouncy beat. And when you hear Premier cut up a line from an old Lords of the Underground song, you're hooked. This song gets better and better every time I hear it.

Reks - Say Goodbye
: This Boston emcee has been doing his thing on the low for the past few years, snagging features with much better rappers and producers than he deserves to be with. And this song is no exception. But as always, Premier brings out the best in his collaborators. And Reks follows suit with bar after bar, steady spitting, going in and out and over and under the beat, owning it. The haunting vocal sample over Premo's drums is the final deal maker.

Ya Dayz R #'D (Remix Feat. Lady of Rage, Freddie FoXXX & Royce Da 5'9): The original was great, but Preem remixes this song something vicious, and then adds real rappers Freddie FoXXX & Royce -- who steals the show with lines like "I let the record do the talking for me like a Preem hook" -- along with Lady of Rage, who always seems to pop up out of nowhere and make a random appearance every few years, like this one. She has good timing to jump on this one.

That White - Fat Joe: I get sad when I think about the direction Fat Joe's career has gone in, knowing he will never make another Jealous Ones Envy, or even another Don Cartagena for that matter. But every now and then he returns to his DITC roots and gives the streets a good, solid banger. Pause. Hot classic Premo as usual, this time with Fat Joe ignorantly praising the Almighty for the existence of cocaine.

My Thoughts - Freddie FoXXX: I'm actually guessing that this is from 2008, but that's when I first got wind of this magnificent beat with cinematic strings and a simple piano. Premier's drums are softer than usual, but very appropriate for this track. And FoXXX talks his usual sh*t, just letting us in on the many tings that go through his head at any given time.

BONUS: Jadakiss - From then Till Now (DJ Premier Scratches) (Produced by The Alchemist

Don Imus: Take 2

Not that we needed any further confirmation, but apparently after a zillion years of being a radio personality/shock jock, Don Imus -- the ancient, shriveled up white supremacist that he clearly is -- still hasn't figured out the meaning of the term "politically correct".

And that's an understatement.

While discussing the oft-maligned career of pro football player Adam "Pacman"Jones, Imus's perennial racist itch obviously needed to be scratched when, after hearing of Jones's six arrests in the past 12 months, he needed to know Jones's race. Because, of course, using Imus's logic, race determines the presumption of guilt or innocence.

Imus's response when finding out Jones is black? "Well, there you go. Now we know."

Now we know what? This dude is wild for the night! Less than two years after making a national spectacle of himself due to his racist comments, he's right back at it! Without hesitation! Take that, darkies!

I guarantee he'll get another slap on the wrist and maybe be banished to his radio station's bastard network, but he will remain on the air until he dies. The powers that be have already made that painfully clear.

To Imus's defense, my fellow black journalist,'s Jemele Hill, was just last week temporarily suspended following the publication of her column, laced with heavy hints of anti-Semitism.

However, the difference is that the cynic in me can apply the law of semantics to Hill's words while I cannot make the same claim for Imus's words.

Does it mean that I'll see him there if I hope that he rots in hell?

Heartbeat: Madonna vs. Pharrell & Nicole S

So it seems my secret Neptunes sources have blessed me with an alternate version of a Neptunes-produced track called "Heartbeat" from Madonna's new album Hard Candy.

The new version features Pharrell singing in an alarmingly extra high falsetto with the beautiful Nicole Scherzinger providing the backup vocals.

Both versions share the same lyrics.

I prefer the version with Pharrell and Nicole S just because the music, while very similar to Madonna's version, has much less of that European dance music feel to it that all but consumes Hard Candy.

I wonder how many more random Neptunes demo tracks are lying around the Star Trak studio with gems on them like this, the Res joint and the Latrelle song...

Which one is better? You be the judge.

Madonna - Heartbeat
Pharrell Williams feat. Nicole S - Heartbeat

Curtis's Lawyer: "To My Knowledge, [50] Has No Guns"

In an interesting turn of events following the case of arson at the home of 50 Cent's ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, a temporary restraining order was issued against 50. Apparently Shaniqua, 50's ex, suspects 50 was behind her home being torched, which happened not long after 50 took legal action to have her evicted from the Long Island mansion, which he owns.

50, in turn, hit Shaniqua with a $20 million defamation lawsuit saying that she was making baseless and reckless accusations against him.

And if all that madness wasn't enough, 50 has now been ordered to turn over all his firearms to authorities while the investigation into the arson is conducted.

Strangely enough, after making a career based on guns and violence -- including the exploitation of the fact that he was shot nine times in 2000 -- 50's lawyer Brett Kimmel has surprised us all by saying that 50 has no guns to surrender!

That is amazing considering that even on his latest mixtape which came out Friday he brags about how many guns he owns and how he has mastered using them. 50 even postures up a storm with guns and bulletproof vests in his mansion's garage while filming the video for the song Funeral Music where he attacks rapper Cam'ron.

N*E*R*D Interview

Interesting how when asked about the Drum n' Bass influence on Seeing Sounds Pharrell and Shay decidedly disagree with the interviewer and instead declare that the album pulls from a myriad of genres and that Drum 'n Bass is but one of them, downplaying it's undeniable presence on the album.

Pharrell also confirms my suspicions -- that Seeing Sounds was made specifically with the concert performance in mind; the music is tailor made for rocking stadiums, arenas and nightclubs alike.

This album is growing on me more and more daily. Word on the street is that Spaz (yes, the song from that Zune commercial...) will be the next single.

Friday, June 20, 2008

2 New Hell Rell Songs

Hell Rell, one of my favorite rappers (who also happens to be one of if not the most scary-looking rappers ever) is setting up to release his second studio album, "Black Mask Black Gloves: The Ruga Edition." (Ruga refers to his AKA Ruga Rell, an allusion to his favorite firearm.)

Hell Rell is another of those bullying rappers I tend to show support for. He acts and talks so tough but with a face like his I doubt anybody is going to test him, so it's hard to determine out how real his words are. I do know he spent some time in prison, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

So far two tracks have leaked, and both are decent. The new album's artwork pales in comparison to the artwork from his first album, "For the Hell of It."

Hell Rell: Get Ready
Hell Rell: Think of a Problem

And for good measure here is one of my personal favorite Hell Rell rhymes, from the song "Yall Don't Want War" off the mixtape "Streets Wanna Know." It gives a way better description than I can of the type of person Hell Rell fancies himself as:

Yo, I went from, drastic measures to drug measures
Coke price high like my mom's blood pressure
Beatin' a n*gga half to death, that's a thug's pleasure
You up north writin' your girl all types of love letters
'Baby when I get out, me and the streets is through
When I come home it's just about me and you.'
I'm in the cell next to you like, 'you sucka for love!'
When I get out I'mma pump me some drugs
Recruit me some thugs
Have these n*ggas pitchin' in the streets
So hungry they got saliva drippin' from they teeh
And yeah I'm feedin' 'em so they can listen to me
You stick a n*gga up, we call it fishin' in the sea.
We use a b*tch for the bait
Throw her in the water
Wait for a n*gga to hook her and then his ass is a goner
My life is based around bricks of marijuana
I teach these lil' n*ggas how to get rich on the corner."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

50 Wins Again! RIP to Young Buck

"All is fair in love and war."

A couple of Google searches for that quote yielded the following results:

The cliché, "All is fair in love and war," implies that people can suspend the law or the rules in special circumstances.

Behavior that is unpleasant or not fair is acceptable during an argument or competition.

Personally, I agree with the quote. And obviously so does 50 Cent, who yesterday leaked a phone conversation with Young Buck that he taped unbeknown to Buck.

On that tape, Buck can be heard acknowledging to 50 that he owes 50 a lot of money and that he hadn't been doing anything at all to try to pay 50 back. At one point 50 forced Buck to admit that he had just been sitting idle in his house doing nothing to try to generate revenue -- revenue owed to 50. (On a side note, when do we finally refrain from referring to Buck's hometown as Ca$hville ever again?)

To be sure, Buck was literally whimpering to 50, claiming that he is "confused" because he wasn't sure of his role in the G-Unit army. (For the record Buck's image is still present on 50's Web site and Buck will still be featured on G-Unit's new album T.O.S. (Terminate on Sight), which comes out next month.)

To add some perspective, Buck has been running wild the last few months spewing anti-G-Unit venom for anybody who cared to listen. So 50 decided to kick Buck out of G-Unit. The public expected this to happen so it seemed like no big deal.

That is until Buck yelled "F*ck G-Unit!" on stage at a recent concert. Video footage of that show spread across the Web immediately, and I can only imagine what 50 thought when he first saw that footage.

Actually, we don't have to imagine because we already know what 50 did.

The question that everybody wants to know is which came first -- 50 taping the conversation or Buck dissing G-Unit live on stage?

To me, that question is irrelevant considering 50 Cent is Buck's boss. Regardless of what 50 may have done to or said about Buck, Buck is supposed to take it on the chin and keep grinding (pause). But for Buck to get up on stage and bite the hand that feeds/fed him is irrational at best.

So whether the crying and sobbing and whimpering came before or after has nothing to do with anything. It's the principle of the matter.

Think about it like this -- if you're having problems with your boss are you going to chide your boss in a public forum and not expect any ramifications?

Regardless 50 has been burnt in a similar fashion before with rapper The Game, and like he says on the phone call, he would only have himself to blame if he let that happen to himself for a second time.

In the day and age of the infamous Summer Jam screen, everybody needs to watch their backs and not supply the enemy with enough ammunition to ruin your career, which is exactly what I believe happened with Buck and 50.

Buck has already responded to 50 with a new song, but even if it was a Dr. Dre track with Premier scratching on the hook (alas, it is not), it's too little too late from Buck.

Industry rule # 4080, record company people are shady.

My guess is Buck was never into A Tribe Called Quest when he was growing up.

Bonus: Buck's mea culpa in the form of a song, The Taped Conversation (50 Cent Diss).

East New Yaaahk!

Of all the new up-and-coming rappers there is one person who intrigues me the most. Not necessarily because of the lyrical skill and content but because of the total package he presents, pause.

I found myself overcome with the same level of intrigue (but not interest) back in the late 90s when a certain rapper from Philadelphia named Beanie Sigel emerged on the scene. To me he wasn't the greatest rapper I ever heard, but there was something to be said about the level of disdain and hatred in his voice that was aimed at any doubters -- hell, make that anybody, period. Anybody who questioned Beans was immediately met with fists or gunfire, or both, but always resulting in at least a permanent maiming, and at most a vicious death. That was his story and he stuck to it.

Hiphop has always had "the bad guy." The bully. He has always played a vital role in Hiphop, especially as of late with the popularization of using beef as a marketing technique to potentially increase both artist visibility and album sales. But with Suge Knight's recent downfall and Beanie Sigel trying to stay out of jail while battling obesity and addiction to prescription drugs, it has become apparent that there is a void that needs to be filled. Immediately.

Enter Uncle Murda.

Murda possesses all of the aforementioned characteristics and qualities, and then some.

For a relative newcomer to the industry he has a fear of nothing and no one. Everybody is a potential target, but he usually saves his harshest comments for the NYPD.

And after being signed to the Roc with a hefty co-sign from fellow Brooklynite Jay-Z (Jay has since moved on...), Murda seemingly couldn't be stopped. Literally.

Many speculated that a dispute with rapper Papoose resulted in Murda being grazed by a bullet in the head -- only for Murda to release a song the very next day called I Ain't Dead, where boasts about how he can't be touched by the streets or the police, a constant theme in his lyrics:

"Some b*tch ass n*ggas was shootin' at me the other day
They guns was pointed at me but they was lookin' the other way
These kids be so scared
They think they want beef but they really not prepared.
They think they did something
These clowns don't understand
They got they hood hyped like
'Yo we just killed Murda, man!'
They all hype now,
They adrenaline runnin'
They don't even realize
That they didn't kill nothin'!
You think y'all some dons
Y'all all in the same lobby
They shot up the car and they think they got a body!"
To let him tell it Uncle Murda was already a legend in the streets, a Brooklyn bully who shoots people for fun in between claims of never having been arrested once. (At least not for murder or gun possession...)

Armed with his signature catch phrase of "East New Yaaahk" -- a shout out to his stomping grounds, East New York, Brooklyn -- at the beginning, at the end, and all throughout his songs, Murda steadily released mixtape after mixtape and found himself with a heavy buzz in the streets.

Please don't take that to mean he is a superior emcee who possesses all the necessary tools needed to be a complete rapper. While his flaws are evident (vocabulary, word play, concepts, to name a few), his voice and flow more than compensate. His lyrics are a bit on the basic side but there aren't too many different ways to explain how Murda will bring a human life to an abrupt end. But still he is effective, and also provides comic relief whether he knows it or now.

For instance, on his song "Faggots" -- about fake gangsters, not homosexuals -- Murda lets us know that he'll "turn a gangsta into a dead faggot". But wait, there's more:

"N*ggas wanna scheme on me
Get they guns up and try to put they teams on me.
I used to roll wit ch'all
I know how y'all move
I'mma put holes in y'all.
Deep? Of course not. Threatening? Yep. For Uncle Murda, mission accomplished.

Murda also advises people not to sleep on him as both a rapper and a homicidal maniac on the Intro to his Hard to Kill mixtape:

"You can hate but can't front on me
Without having a gun
I make n*ggas run from me
They're like 'what up?'
I'm like 'what up, son, we can get it poppin!'
His man's like 'chill, son, I think that n*gga got it.'
Then somebody screams out 'Murda's got a gun!'
N*ggas lookin' at they mens like
'Run n*gga run!'
I scream out 'bang bang' niggas think I'm shootin'
Damn Uncle Murda got some powerful music!
They say he sounds like 50,
He sounds like Biggie.
To me
That sounds like I gets busy!"
His production isn't the best but it is definitely effective and appropriate considering the subject matter for most of Murda's material. On "Runnin' the City," Murda explains on the song's hook how everybody who thinks they run New York needs to fall back and acknowledge that Murda has effectively taken their places immediately:

"Tell Hova that Murda runnin' the city now
Tell Diddy that Murda runnin' the city now
Tell Russell that Murda runnin' the city now
Tell 50 that Murda runnin' the city now."
In the song's first verse Murda wastes no time demonstrating how fake thugs crumble in his presence:

"I done shot many men
Many men fear me.
Even gangstas,
When I come around, get leery
Then I step to 'em
They like 'what up, son?'
I'm like 'what up, muhf*ckah, you see my gun!'
Then them dudes start stuttering, like
'Wh-, wh-, what you talkin' bout?'
Then we rob them n*ggas
They like 'what's this all about?'
'My man heard you talkin' slick
Yeah, that's what happened.
Now we violatin' y'all
For acting like it can't happen.
Joke's on y'all, you see all the chicks laughing?
Then we take 'em to the back
And let my little man clap 'em.'
My little man hit 'em all up in they fitted caps
I told them to tell Biggie I'm bringing the city back!
That in a nutshell is classic Uncle Murda. He has stories for days about how he stays beating the odds in street shootouts and how he ducks the law and scorns the police. Call me crazy but it's refreshing to hear a rapper who doesn't focus on money and women exclusively; or a rapper who isn't overwhelmingly positive and optimistic while paying respect to his Africa heritage.

Murda makes no excuses and is who he is: an unabashed ignorant thug who will kill you in a heartbeat if you don't comply with his demands. Unlike the same claims made my many of his contemporaries, I believe him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tanya Morgan at Fat Beats

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I want people to come out and support an underground rap group (with a funny name...) that has been paying dues for years now, along with making quality Hiphop music.

Rappers Von Pea, Donwill and Ilyas are Tanya Morgan. Don't ask me the origin of the name because I still don't completely understand it if. But to be honest when I first heard of them I thought it was nothing more than a gimmick.

But after listening to their Sunset EP (2005) and their Moonlighting LP in (2006), I had a change of heart. Quality music with quality rhymes and lyrics, as well as rappers with a good sense of humor and the ability to not take themselves too seriously -- always a refreshing characteristic.

Von Pea and Donwill are the two lead rappers while Ilyas (aka the Malik B of Tanya Morgan) plays a peripheral role and rarely makes appearances with his group mates. Von is clearly the most lyrically talented of the three, as his rhyming style seemingly comes so easy to him that his raps come across as effortless. Donwill is a close second in terms of talent but first in terms of heart and passion -- he has a number of flows but is at his best when spitting fast, precise bars. (Ilyas isn't really worth mentioning as he is far from the focal point of the group. Sadly, he is the dead weight that will make sure this group never rises to the top.)

They will be making an in-store appearance tomorrow, June 17, at the famed Fat Beats record store on 6th Avenue between 8th and 9th streets, right above Bagel Buffet.

They'll be signing autographs for folks who buy their new EP -- which also comes out tomorrow -- The Bridge. Check them out. Below are two of their most recent mixtapes.

Donwill - SuhBurban Sprawl Mixtape

Tanya Morgan - Tanya Morgan Is a Rap Group Mixtape

Another Neptunes Reference Track

My trusty sources have uncovered a demo track of Justin Timberlake's very Stevie Wonder-sounding song "Nothin' Else," performed by R&B singer and former Star Trak affiliate Latrelle.

I had never heard this before but apparently it was ripped from Justin's DVD "The Making of Justified" where Pharrell has Latrelle demonstrate for Justin just how the song should be sung.

I kind of like the Latrelle version better than Justin's just because normally I prefer to hear women sing, but also because the music is a bit more raw with various Neptunes sounds here and there that cannot be found on Justin's album version.

And of course no Neptunes demo track would be complete without hearing a frantic Pharrell in the background ranting and raving about how incredible the song sounds.

Latrelle's album, Dirty Girl, Wrong Girl, Bad Girl, was schedule to be released on Artista in April of 2002 but got shelved because of contract issues as well as the fact that her entire album leaked online well in advance of the release date.

Latrelle - Nothin' Else (Justified Demo)

Latrelle - Dirty Girl, Wrong Girl, Bad Girl LP

Throw Some D on Kobe!

This photo says it all.

Paul Pierce has effectively shut down the Kobe scoring machine.

How many times during The Finals have we seen Kobe at the top of the key, dribbling like a possessed Rucker Park refugee, looking pretty but going nowhere quickly, only to turn the ball over or miss a deep jump shot taken in desperation as the shot clock winds down?

Yes, the Lakers won last night.

Yes, Kobe scored 25 points.

But it was anything but a convincing win. Kobe went 8-21 from the field. That's just about 36%. In case you're keeping score Kobe is shooting 49% from the field for the entire playoffs and shot 46% during the regular season.

In the conference finals he shot 53%! And that was against Manu Ginobili and the Spurs!

But for this series he's shooting 42% from the floor and 77% from the free throw line, when he shot 90% from the line in the conference finals.

So clearly something has changed. And that thing is the smothering defense Paul Pierce has played against Kobe.

All season long Kobe has faced every team's best defender, and all season long he burned those defenders on his way to averaging better than 28 points per game while playing in all 82 regular season games.

Is he tired? Maybe. But I doubt it. I just think Doc Rivers and his assistants have scouted Kobe better than anybody else and had Pierce and the rest of the Celtics more than ready and that preparation has paid off big time, even if they lost last night.

And while I had my doubts about Doc Rivers' coaching ability, those doubts are no longer, as he has for all intents and purposes out-coached Phil Jackson.

But it still comes down to personnel, and while the Lakers are much better with Gasol than without him, they are still missing Andrew Bynum more than they care to admit. Until Gasol learns how to finish in traffic while being fouled this Lakers team will only go so far.

I know that's easy to say with the Lakers down 3 games to 2 with the last two games being played in Boston, but there is still time to turn it around. There is time for someone to get in Gasol's face and force him to grow some balls. The question is if Gasol will listen, as well as learn. Seems doubtful.

The Lakers may very well win the next game but Boston's championship is inevitable. Thanks in large part to Paul Pierce.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Um, Celtics in 6?

The Lakers went from classy to ashy in about 12 minutes last night.

Kobe played last night like most of his teammates played in Game 3.

The Celtics have figured out a way to either stop Kobe's offensive firepower. Period.

Not only was Kobe off from the very start, but he was even missing open looks.

And when Kobe went to what's been his bread and butter this season -- the vintage Michael Jordan spin move fade away baseline jumper -- Paul Pierce was right there waiting for him, arm extended, blocking the shot right back in Kobe's face. Then moments later on a Celtics fast break, Kobe jumps and P.J. Brown of all people threw it right down on Kobe's head (as the picture to the left demonstrates).

The crowd was stunned. I was stunned. Celtics fans rejoiced. Next thing you know, after having an 18 point lead at the half, the Lakers get outscored by 16 in the third quarter and never recover, ultimately losing by 6.

I am still a Kobe fan but either he needs better teammates (all Lakers starters scored in double digits last night) or he needs to step up the way an MVP is supposed to.

So like a good bandwagon fan, I am switching my allegiance mid-series and predicting the Celtics win in 6 games. I think the Lakers will win the next one just off GP, but they're done for in Boston, even if it comes down to a seventh game.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Writer or a Biter? is reporting this morning that some washed-up boxer, clearly grasping for straws at an obviously very desperate point in his life, is suing the Jiggaman for $88 million, all in the name of the infamous "whisper" style of rap that Jay started using right around the release of the Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse. This mystery man wants us all to believe that he and he alone created the "whisper rap" style.

For those who were able to attend Jay's "Blueprint Lounge Tour" got to hear Jay fine tuning and ultimately mastering this new phenomenon known simply as "whisper rap". However, it isn't so much a whisper as it is just lowering the volume of one's voice while still enunciating clearly. Jay seemed to use it to emphasize certain lines, not necessarily as a style throughout an entire song, though.

With that said, most Jay-Z fans have known for years that Jay did not come up with that style of rhyming on his own. But we never heard of this loser, who claims he gave Jay his demo tape back in 2001. (On a side note, why did it take him 7 years to file this suit? I'm skeptical already.)

We have, however, heard of the Young Gunz, a teenaged rap duo formerly signed to Jay's Roc-a-Fella Records. Comprised of Young Chris and Young Neef, they achieved moderate success from the two albums they released.

But more importantly, if you ever listened to those Young Gunz albums, or to the many mixtape verses supplied by Young Chris, then you already know who pioneered the infamous whisper rap style. And his name isn't "whatchamacallit" who is trying his best to dig in Jay's pockets, which Forbes just confirmed got much fatter since June 2007.

Regardless of its origin, I'm eager to see hat happens from here on out, considering Jay may have to answer for this in one way or another. If not in court then in the media, or in rhyme.

I'm sure some new jack rapper will try to use this as a topic to get at Jay on wax since beef seems to work better than demo tapes when it comes to jump starting a rap career.

I also want to see if Young Chris cares to comment on this. Ultimately I'm sure Jay will make this little pest go away emptihanded, but I think regardless of the outcome one thing has clearly been established: Jay-Z did not create that whisper flow, which doesn't necessarily place an asterisk next to his name on the list of greatest rappers of all time, but it does bring back up the ugly rumor that Jay is a biter. Not a good look for everybody involved.