Monday, November 7, 2011

[MF] DOOM Opens Up During Recent Exclusive Interview

Eclectic rapper DOOM last week gave fans a chance to catch a metaphorical glimpse beneath the mystique that is his mask during an interview / listening session as part of the Red Bull Music Academy series of music workshops, where he breaks down numerous topics, including his producing and recording processes; touching on the onset of his career; and the creation and maintenance of his multiple rapping personalities.

Although he never removes his mask, fans will be able to know for sure that, despite his sketchy past live appearances, the man speaking in that unmistakable raspy voice is indeed DOOM.

Surprisingly DOOM isn't the most articulate of individuals, which is apparent throughout the interview despite his fluid gift for gab on wax.

The interview is lengthy (an hour and 40 minutes) but for any diehard fan of DOOM it will be time well spent.


Ron Browz Returns With New Album, New Style

The producer-rapper Ron Browz late last month quietly released his latest studio album, The Christening.

The fact that it was released with little-to-no fanfare or publicity only underscores the rumors of Jay-Z black-balling the beatmaking rapper about a decade ago once NaS came out with Ether, the lone black eye on Jigga's curriculum vitae that was produced by Browz and also the reason for his self-bestowed nickname of Etherboy that inspired the title of his previous album.

Gone are the loud, gaudy beats that helped popularize his music a few years ago. Also conspicuously missing from the soundscape is the gratuitous use of the voice-altering Autotune technology that became his trademark with the hits Pop Champagne and Jumping (Out the Window).

Another nice touch -- no more singing for Mr. Browz, always a wise choice for a rap album.

Instead, Browz takes the novel approach of using his own voice, a practice he's been employing more and more over the past couple of years.

Even with the drastic change to the styles that first endeared him to listeners, his loyal fans should be pleasantly surprised that there is no drop-off in production considering his shift in musical approaches.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stop What Ya Doin (Prod. by DJ Premier)
By Apathy, Featuring Celph Titled (Video)

This video for the lead single from Apathy's great new album, Honkey Kong, is long overdue to be posted here.

The proud Connecticut emcee released his third studio album about two months ago and it features expert production from a bunch of unfamiliar names as well as the likes of Evidence and the Beatminerz.

If you want to hear some Hiphop music that is not even close to being watered down with any attempts at gaining mainstream radio play, then I strongly urge you to cop this album NOW.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

NaS -- Nasty (Music Video)

There's nothing I can say about this track that NaS can't say better, so sit back and enjoy the rhymes delivered in classic God's Son style.

The Irony of Prodigy Rhyming on Jay Electronica's New Record

Incredible lyrics and on-point rhymes notwithstanding, my almost immediate reaction to finally hearing a legitimately new song from Jay Electronica was to wonder how Prodigy ever scored the coveted feature for what may turn out to be Jay Elec's lead single for his debut album, which many fans have been waiting on for what seems like years now despite him having been signed to Roc Nation for just under a 12 months.

The rapper who was unable to recover from being knocked off course about a decade ago by Jay-Z's Summer Jam sneak attack, Prodigy has made Jay-Z the lyrical object of his scorn ever since, including as recently as in the writings of his autobiography.

So how then did Prodigy manage to secure a verse on the new Jay Electronica song, which was made possible through Roc Nation, Jay-Z's record label?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Video: Math Hoffa, Double Barrel Feat. Method Man

This artist was originally featured on this blog as part of my "rap [names] is outta control" series, a reference to his seemingly nonsensical stage name.

However, it's the music that ultimately prevails. And he's got a heatrock on his hands with this one right here, courtesy of equally randomly-named producer J. Glaze.

While it's not the most artistic music video of all time, we do get treated to a Method Man sighting, which had become a rarity since the IRS came after him a couple of years back. And Meth, continuing where he left off on 2006's severely slept on 4:21: The Day After, rips it.

9th Wonder, The Wonder Years Album Review

It was hard for me at first to fully digest the continuity of pure genius that is 9th Wonder's new album, what with the steady assault from the Jamla family of artists signed to and affiliated with the superproducer's label of the same name.

I mean, a guy can be forgiven for getting caught up in the dizzying array of releases in the weeks leading up to The Wonder Years retailing in stores and online a few weeks ago.

Like a 2011 version of Killah Priest and Cappadonna -- who released their critically acclaimed, 1998 Wu-Tang Clan-affiliated debut albums within a week of one another -- Median and then Phonte both hit us over the head in consecutive weeks with their own respective triumphant reunions with 9th as well as a return from a rap hiatuses. And then, right on there heels comes this album.

Who would have though that eight years after getting his so-called "big break" by lacing Jay-Z with an album cut that 9th would still be bringing the heat on a consistent basis? I did.

New Raekwon Video: DART SCHOOL

One of my favorite tracks from the Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang album, in stores now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why J. Cole Is Not a Priority to Jay-Z

 As if the lengthy delays after being touted as the next coming by Mr. Carter himself were not proof enough of J. Cole dangerously languishing in Game-like purgatory, it is becoming more and more apparent that Jay-Z has better things to do than foster the growth of his label's new jack rapper.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New DJ Premier Track Featuring Evidence (Video)

Premier can't stop, won't stop.

More of that incredible, inimitable sound and style of Hiphop music that solely belongs to him and nobody, except for of course the artists -- like Evidence -- whom Preem generously allows to kick rhymes over what is more times than not the hottest beat said rapper has ever rhymed on.

He's going on damn near a quarter of a century of consistently laying down pure heat for past, current and future generations of Hiphop -- all with a bunch of records (that he can cut and scratch the holy hell out of), some drum and sampling machines, and one of the keenest ears in all of music. An ear that is cosigned by a diverse cast of characters, which makes it all the more impressive.

Oh, and did I mention he always makes whoever he works with reach their full potential? That's a talent that should never be taken for granted.

However, that's a post for another date. Until then, enjoy the visuals for the greatness that is and always will be a Premier beat. (Check for the Termanology -- a rapper who has also been blessed by Premier -- cameo, too!)

Some of my favorite Premier tracks after the jump:

Monday, August 29, 2011

If I Executive Produced The R.E.D. Album...

By now everybody who was going to check for it has already had a chance to listen to rapper Game's disappointing fourth studio album, The R.E.D. Album.

During the ridiculously long buildup to the album's release -- including a delay of nearly two years and countless songs that he declared would be its lead single -- Game apparently lived in the studio, churning out mixtape after mixtape filled with quality material, leading listeners to believe more of the same would be included on the actual studio album.

However, in this case, the levels of letdown that I am still experiencing with each consequent listen -- it is barely tolerable -- is something I haven't experienced in some time.

With this new album, he completely dropped the ball and released what almost amounts to a throwaway mixtape filled with fake gangsta fluff facilitated by too many attempts at pop singles aimed directly at the radio and video outlets, ignoring his core fanbase who helped him attain his quickly-fading superstar status.

There are too many negatives with this album -- including a misguided stretch of three songs that each feature an R&B singer -- for me to list them all.

Instead, I decided to take a different approach, sifting through his enormous catalog of material released over the past 18 months and culling together a more comprehensive presentation of his songs to form what I believe should have been the retail version of the R.E.D. Album.

In other words, I'm doing what the executive producers for this album (namely Dr. Dre and Pharrell) should have done, ultimately coming up with what I call The R.E.Done album.

Monday, August 22, 2011

NaS & AZ Reunited; Aiming for the 'Throne'?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but when I saw the above image -- tweeted yesterday by the rapper AZ -- my mind was flooded with way more than that, busy contemplating all the implications behind this one photo.

Namely, what exactly are NaS and AZ doing in the studio together?

Are they just working on a song to be featured on one or both of their future albums?

Is this just a mixtape track they're working on?

Did they just happen to be in the same studio at the same time and came together for a chronic break?

Or, the most obviously glaring question -- have they come together to record a collaborative album as a response to Jay-Z and Kanye's most recent effort, which has some Hiphop traditionalists disappointed at its alternative approach?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Vado: Celebration (Video)

VADO : CELEBRATION from wolph creation on Vimeo.

Nearly a year after releasing the critically regarded Slime Flu mixtape, Cam'ron's latest protege, Vado, has released the corresponding video for his song Celebration.

It's a well done video, edited around footage of various Vado interviews in which the rapper looks to be humbled by the accolades thrown at him, a prominent theme within the song's lyrics that indicate a celebratory toast to his impending success is due.

And I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dirty Martini -- Troy Ave Feat. Prodigy: The Guilty Pleasure Edition Vol. II (Video)

If anybody read Prodigy's recently released autobiography, they probably remember the multiple passages in which he remorsefully writes about his negative past and his pledges to change his life in order to set a better example for his family and live a righteous existence.

Well, if his lyrics from this [and many of his other post-prison releases) are to believed, you can throw all of that out of the window.

From the first moment we see Prodigy in the video, his face is flush with his signature fed-up-looking scowl, waving and pointing his right hand around in a gun-like motions toward the camera. Wasn't his three-year bid because of gun possession? But I digress...

Friday, August 12, 2011

An Analysis of Jay-Z & Kanye West's Otis Music Video

New videos are popping up left and right, with Kanye and Jay finally coming through with the visuals for Otis, their first single from Watch the Throne.

If anything, the video -- which shows the two Roc stars laughing and enjoying the spoils of success by driving around a vacant parking lot in a one-of-a-kind Maybach while trading verses -- makes me like the song even more.

With that said, I'm still not sure what exactly the song is about, nor do I understand why two veritable musical geniuses would work so hard on an album only to reward its lead single with a lazy, unimaginative title that, again, apparently has nothing to do with the song's enigmatic subject matter.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Common Debuts Video for Ghetto Dreams

Keeping with the theme of new videos, Common drops the accompanying visuals to go with Ghetto Dreams, his upcoming album's lead single that he debuted early last month. Featuring NaS.

I've already said what I had to say about the actual song but the video helps to put their lyrics into perspective.

Or maybe Common always wanted some video vixens in his videos and this was his excuse to make that happen.

It's tough to tell in which direction Common plans to take this new album but I will admit that I'm intrigued. This is a side of Common we haven't seen in nearly 15 years when he and MC Lyte parodied the pastime of pimping from the 1997 album One Day It'll All Make Sense.

Maybe he had this song in mind when he coined that album title (which, by the way, is also the name of his autobiography, scheduled for release next month).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Music Videos That Deserve to Be Seen

My Sunshine | Blu feat Nia Andrews from aaronisnotcool on Vimeo.

A gang of new music videos have recently been released by an assortment of artists who may or may not get the shine that they rightfully deserve for their particular brands of Hiphop and overall musical contributions to the culture.

As seen above, the rapper Blu (a/k/a B) basks in the enviable southern California weather for the appropriately named My Sunshine, the lead single for his upcoming album NoYork! This is an interesting choice for visuals considering this track sounds nothing like what I've heard from the rest of the album, which is a smorgasbord of different genres of music not necessarily associated with a traditional Hiphop album. Sa-Ra's own Shafiq Husayn is the track's producer. Fun fact: The cute vixen featured in this video was also his DJ during his tour last year.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jay-Z & Kanye Watch the Throne: [Hasty] Album Review

For years (decades even) rap artists have been hard at work pushing the genre’s musical envelope in new directions in hopes of adding on to what can sometimes [rightfully] be perceived as a somewhat stagnant art form.

Despite an ever-diversifying array of Hiphop producers who are seemingly eager to break up the monotony of mainstream rap by incorporating new sounds and styles into their music, it has been the rappers for the most part who are reluctant to test the unfamiliar waters of nontraditional Hiphop production, opting instead for the safety of formulaic 16-bar verses and a hook.

But today’s release of Watch the Throne, the highly anticipated collaboration album from Jay-Z and Kanye West, more than crushes the above stereotype of the lazy rapper and the producer(s) who enables him or her.

More specifically, Jay-Z, the flawless lyricist and revered elder statesman of rap, and Kanye West, the boastful wordsmith and accomplished beat-making producer who is known for bending the rules when it comes to rap, have created as close to a genre-busting masterpiece as we have seen in quite a while.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Album Review: Wu-Tang Clan, Legendary Weapons

One of the most daunting challenges in music is duplicating the success of and allure surrounding a group's critically acclaimed debut album. While it is possible, few have succeeded in this tricky arena.

One of those groups happens to be the Wu-Tang Clan, who arguably outdid their first album with Forever, the double CD released four years after 36 Chambers simultaneously launched nine separate careers well into and beyond the Hiphop stratosphere.

The Wu exploded into a million directions, branching off into clothing, liquor and video games, to name but a few of its lucrative endeavors.

One of those ventures was to launch a series of Wu-Tang Clan compilation albums consisting of Wu-Tang affiliated artists and producers while still featuring the talents of its core members, who, for the most part, would not be rapping alongside one another on these compilations.

This Legendary Weapons album is one of those albums.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Consequence Rages Against Kanye's Machine

While it was some time in the making, soon-to-be former G.O.O.D. Music rapper Consequence yesterday, with the release of his new song (below) that accuses his co-worker, Pusha T, of lyrical forgery, officially declared war on his record label complete with a promissory heat-seeking missile soon to be aimed at his boss, Kanye West.

In the song -- named The Plagiarist Society -- Consequence shuns subliminal bars in favor of a clear and obvious threat, referring to Pusha by his government name: "Terrence ... go take a breather on the terrace before he does something to make his team perish/ 'Cause he ain't nothing but a body shield for that coward from the Midwest/ So yes, you can bet that your boss is next."

For months now Consequence has alleged that Pusha not only copied his lyrics, but also the title for My God, the lead single for his Fear of God mixtape.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Producer AMP Channels His Inner DJ Premier

9TH WONDER presents THE SOUL COUNCIL from Pricefilms on Vimeo.

One of the most basic ways an up-and-coming Hiphop producer can separate himself from the throngs of Johnny-come-new jack beat makers is to carve out a unique sound that is immediately recognizable to the listener regardless of the rapper or singer.

And, as it turns out, another way to do so is by crafting your style around a sound that's associated with a more established producer. Well, for the most part.

If I may (since I, ahem, don't actually know the man), please allow me to formally introduce Amp: one-sixth of The Soul Council -- a collective of producers assembled by 9th Wonder for his It's a Wonderful World Music Group and Jamla Records imprint -- and, more notably, the man who has successfully mastered the art of consistently crafting DJ Premier-style beats.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Uncle Luke Calls Out Wiz Khalifa

A long time ago in what now feels like a galaxy far, far away, the founding fathers of this thing we call Hiphop established an unofficial code of conduct for any and everybody who is an active participant of the musical genre and lifestyle.

Unfortunately over the past decade or so the lines of those ground rues and regulations have been blurred to the extent that at best they are currently unrecognizable, and at worst they are completely ignored.

For example: copying, or, in Hiphop vernacular, biting, is completely unacceptable. This general rule was intentionally vague, applicable to a wide variety activities that include but are not limited to topics such as dance moves and the style in which a rapper performed his or her rhymes.

As the Hiphop nation expanded globally, so did its guidelines, which were, at one time, devoutly observed by most if not all of its devout. Just like "it takes a village to raise a child," Hiphoppers were expected to respond accordingly to instances where members strayed from the rules.

Keeping in that rich tradition, Luther Campbell -- former front man of the raunchy, controversial pioneering Miami Bass group 2Live Crew -- has decided to use his weekly column in his hometown's alternative tabloid to address the relationship between Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

2011 Collaboration Albums Fall Short

Remember all that madness I was talking months ago, hyping up the recent trend of artists coming together to pool their talents and resources to produce collaborative albums?

Well, simply put, I was wrong about them.

For some odd reason I figured that the union of two separate but very talented musical entities could only result in the highest standard for Hiphop music and lyrics. But I was wrong.

Not only did I see it as an innovative, creative outlet for rappers and Hiphop producers stuck in a genre that is slowly but surely becoming decidedly less creative than its pioneers intended for it to be, but, if done correctly, each project had the serious potential to generate more fans and, perhaps more importantly to the artists themselves, more revenue. But again, I was wrong.

Friday, July 8, 2011

NaS Excels Where Common Fails on New Track


Maybe I'm in the minority here but let me first say that I much rather prefer the Electric Circus / Universal Mind Control / Be version of rapper Common over his latest incarnation, which has him exchanging hardcore rhymes with NaS over a banging street track courtesy of producer No I.D.

Let me clarify.

Any rhymes from Common are always soothing sounds for ears sore from the prevailing hodgepodge of random rap music that shows no signs of slowing its invasion of Hiphop. But when he kicks hardcore lines – specifically when he starts off the songs with lines like "I wanna bitch who looks good and cooks good" -- it comes off as forced at best and insincere at worst. Hell, we already know Comm has been linked to some top notch females so what's with these ridiculous demands? But I digress.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Green Was Never 2Pac's Color

The jealousy that 2Pac clearly felt toward so many figures in rap is extra apparent on a previously unreleased song that just found its way online.

Actually, to call it a song is somewhat of a misnomer. "Rant" is a much more appropriate adjective to describe the diatribe spewed over an unremarkable, throwaway beat that is oh so typical of the post-Dr. Dre Death Row Records.

In fact, Dre is a primary target on Watch Yo Mouth, which also sets its sights on dissing the usual suspects -- B.I.G., Puff and NaS -- making ridiculously inaccurate statements such as:
Bow down to Death Row
Fuck what you say
We untouchable now that we done shook Doc Dre
Ain't made a beat in six years but swear she's the shit
Won't get no record sales sucking NaS' dick.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rap [Names] Is Outta Control, Vol. 3

I really have been delaying this latest installment, which provides a doozy in terms of creative, uncreative, and just plain weird and strange stage names for the latest and often not so greatest members of this unique fraternity we affectionately refer to as the rap game.

It's to the point where my eyes have almost reached a state of absolute numbness when they scan over new rap offerings spattered across the latest blogs and other music sites.

But the truly sad part is that many renowned and accomplished rappers and producers that we know and grew up with are collaborating with these said artists; and seemingly have no problem doing so.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quality, Quantity? Sometimes Less is More

LinkNo, I’m not referring to the title of Ryan Leslie’s upcoming album.

I’m talking about the prolific producer Statik Selektah, who for the past few years has been on the rise as an ever-improving, credible and able producer for a number of mainstream and underground Hiphop acts.

The Boston-area native turned Brooklyn resident is responsible for producing 100 percent of three projects from this year alone, as well as four projects from the year before.

In addition, he’s scheduled this year to release two more albums that he will be the sole producer for, which is all in addition to the beats he stays making for a variety of artists, such as the work he put in for Edo G’s most recent album as well as the growing roster of artists signed to his own Showoff Records label.

But what started off as an admirable effort has lately been considerably watered down with Statik’s recent productions, including but not limited to the highly disappointing, stale-sounding collaborative album with Bumpy Knuckles.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sean Price Needs to Get Out More

It's hard to tell whether Sean Price, as seen in the above recently released interview, is truly being honest when he says "I like no female rappers."

Aside from MC Lyte and Rah Digga, the rapper also known as Mic Tyson and Jesus Price matter-of-factly says that there isn't one single female rapper who could hold his attention, citing 90s rapper Boss as a prime example of his distaste for the rapping prowess of his opposite sex.

And indeed, when looking closer into the discography of the rapper formerly known as Ruck, you can't find one instance of him collaborating with a female rapper.

And while that practice is not exactly unheard of in the male-dominated rap music industry, it is somewhat ironic considering all the verses he's spit as a guest for below par, male emcees whose talent level falls well below that of some of their female counterparts.

DJ Premier late last year put out a single featuring a new female rapper.

RapSody down in North Carolina is signed to 9th Wonder's label and is more than holding her own, recording songs with legends like Big Daddy Kane and Raekwon.

Jean Grae, after a short hiatus, is back on the scene, readying a Gangsta Grillz mixtape before releasing her upcoming full length album.

Nitty Scott, MC is making a little bit of noise. Although I'm not really sure if she can sustain it, she's already shown that she can rap and rhyme better than many folks that Sean Price has agreed to work with.

There are a ton of other female emcess worthy of being included in this discussion.

Hopefully this is all some ploy to surprise his fans by collaborating on a song with a female rapper, because it can't do anything but increase his fanbase -- the same fanbase that, save for a hot 16 from Sean, winces throughout the songs that feature him alongside some fly-by-night rap group or soloist on a weak track.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Royce Da 5'9 Finally Has a #1 Album

Detroit rapper extraordinaire Royce Da 5'9, after more than a decade as a professional rapper, will finally be able to say he had an album reach the top of the charts, according to reports.

Of course he needed the help of his buddy Eminem to help attract mainstream listeners by teaming up with him to release the Bad Meets Evil EP, a culmination of a rocky relationship that reunites the two rappers 13 years after their work on a song of the same name from The Slim Shady LP.

And, of course, this EP probably wouldn't have come about had Royce also not experienced a significant amount of success as one-fourth of Slaughterhouse, the critically acclaimed so-called supergroup comprised of perennial underground rappers that gained surprising popularity among the mainstream in addition to the targeted underground.

Royce has had his fair share of classic underground records on his own, achieving a cult following as a result of five solo albums filled with streetwise lyrics coupled with witty wordplay set to banging beats courtesy of some of the biggest names in music, including and especially DJ Premier.

It's just too bad it took the co-sign of Eminem (or anyone else) to get Royce what will most likely be his first platinum plaque earned from an album on which he was a primary participant.

But hopefully Royce can ride the momentum of Bad Meets Evil for the release of Success is Certain, his new solo album with a very timely title.

Below is his new song, Second Place, the lead single produced by Premier for the upcoming project that is due to be released late next month.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rap Magazine Puts R&B Star on Its Cover

Despite the anticipation of a number of rap albums being released this summer, the so-called "Bible of Hip Hop Music, Culture and Politics" has head-scratchingly awarded the cover of its "Summer Issue" issue to an R&B star, solidifying the notion that Hiphop publications are completely out of touch with its readership.

You might have heard that Jay-Z & Kanye have an album coming out. Well, the same goes for Eminem and Royce Da 5'9 and Pete Rock & Smif N Wessun. Hell, even DJ Khaled and Lil' Wayne. But somehow Bonsu Thompson came to the conclusion that the singer Chris Brown was more deserving of The Source's cover than a number of relevant rap acts.

The Source tries to justify Brown's placement on the cover by referencing "his progression as an artist as he dabbles into rap," but he is still an R&B artist who is known more for his singing and especially dancing than for some hot 16s.

And while I agree that most everybody deserves a chance at redemption, and while I acknowledge that Chris Brown does indeed rap at times on his latest album (which isn't half bad), I definitely do NOT agree that a Hiphop magazine is the appropriate forum for this type of coverage.

I especially do not care that this is, according to The Source, Chris Brown's first magazine interview in over a year. The fact still remains that he is not, nor will be ever be, a rapper, which to me means he simply is not worthy of being on the cover of any of its issues.

The one and ONLY exception to that rule is Mary J Blige, who's nickname -- The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul -- was bestowed to her by Diddy, another member of Hiphop royalty. Blige not only rhymed on her classic debut album (that was chock full of classic breaks and beats that are now standards in both Hiphop and R&B), but was also responsible for introducing the LOX to Diddy. So without Mary, one could make a persuasive argument that the world never would have been exposed to Jadakiss, one of the most consistent and greatest rappers to ever touch a microphone. That alone right there gives Mary (and Brook Lynn) an irrevocable lifetime membership to the Hiphop Nation.

I thought that Benzino's departure would restore The Source's journalistic integrity, but the truth is that under the leadership of Dave Mays the magazine provided a much more comprehensive coverage of Hiphop, regardless of any controversy or allegations of misconduct.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pusha T's Keys Keep Opening New Doors

Before Pusha-T's first solo album drops on Black Friday, he is first planning to [re]bless the world later this month with Fear of God 2, a slight tweak of the three-month-old original version that is still getting heavy spin in the streets and on the Web alike.

With tons of positive feedback from the fans, critical acclaim from varying media outlets of note, a fledgling acting career, and, most importantly, a Kanye co-sign, the artist formerly known as Terrar is poised for a debut that could for the first time in a long while unite rap purists and champions of the so-called underground -- who appreciate Pusha for his ability to kick effective flows with serious wordplay and vocabulary regardless of genre or subject matter -- with its formidable hip-pop and down south trap rap counterparts -- who tend to favor swagger over substance. Lucky for everybody, Pusha exudes all of these characteristics, and then some.

And although Malice -- who is no slouch on the mic -- may add depth and introspect where his younger brother favors a flashier style of rhyming, Pusha has been for a long time widely regarded as the better rapper of the two.

Usually when it comes to most if not all rap groups, one or even each of the group's rappers will eventually go solo. But for the Clipse, who have been a professional rap duo since they signed to Elektra around 1996 (their would-be first album ultimately got shelved by the label, only to be re-issued by Star Trak 11 years later), it took 15 years for Pusha to go solo. (Pusha vows there will be another Clipse album.)

What was the hold up? The streets wanted it, and it was the streets who helped Lord Willin' sell more than a million copies. Why not give the streets what they wanted; especially since street life comprised such a large portion of their material?

To Pharrell's credit, Pusha was featured on plenty of other artists' music, including and especially Justin Timberlake's Like I Love You, which was a platinum single on a multi-platinum album that for sure added an extra zero to the Clipse's bank accounts.

And every verse that Pusha to soloist spit on a feature was lyrically and rhyme-wise nothing short of flawless.

And with Chad and Pharrell liberally rewarding their childhood friends with record contracts, people wanted to know where Pusha's solo deal was.

Then along came the 2010 VMAs and out of nowhere Pusha pops up sporting a Miami Vice-inspired salmon-colored blazer, kicking his verse from Kanye's Runaway, delivering a lyrical ultimatum to any female who thinks they can do better without him: "Split and go where? Back to wearing knock-offs? Ha! Knock it off," before offering a friendly reminder, "Every bag, every blouse, every bracelet/ Comes with a price tag, baby, face it."

But don't think just because of Pusha's new found association with Mr. West that he lost any of his edge, as demonstrated on the aforementioned Fear of God mixtape -- specifically whenever he returns to his comfort zone that is his penchant for seemingly endless cocaine metaphors: "Got me looking at the crown from a bird's eye view/ 'Cause I hit the ground running from the birds I flew," and, "They say I talked coke for nine years long/ that means my rap sheet is more than nine years strong/ you niggas woulda thought that I was nine years gone/ but I'm still in the mix like nine ounces and a straw."

However, with celebration comes cynicism, and, in a classic case of the crabs in a barrel syndrome, Pusha's G.O.O.D. Music label mate and rap veteran Consequence has unfortunately taken umbrage at Pusha's position as the next rapper on the label scheduled to release an album.

It will be interesting to see how the working relationship between Pusha and Pharrell evolves, seeing as Pharrell has bit of a pattern of longtime collaborators seemingly eager to work with producers other than the Neptunes -- Kelis, Usher, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, to name a few.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beanie Sigel Concedes Defeat to Jay-Z

Although nearly two years too late, Beanie Sigel yesterday issued an apology of sorts to Jay-Z without actually saying the two words that matter most in this type of situation: “I’m sorry”.

During that time period he released at least five tracks** entirely devoted to discrediting and disrespecting Jay, not to mention doing the same in countless video and radio interviews.

Maybe Beans got himself off the pills long enough to clear his mind and realize what all of us have known all along – it is counterproductive for most rappers to challenge Jay-Z in damn near any arena, but especially in rap.

Or, more probably, Beans finally noticed that his pockets contained more lint than cash, and because of that he is willing to eat crow with a side of humble pie.

This seemingly last ditch effort of appealing to Jay for help/work through a false, disingenuous acknowledgement of his wrongdoing should be embarrassing to Beans. But, then again, Gator never felt any type of shame when he two-stepped for his parents in hopes of getting some cash for his next fix. Could this also be Beans’ song-and-dance?

During yesterday’s interview Beanie also admitted he had an album’s worth of songs dissing Jay, but that he “couldn’t put that out. It wouldn’t sit right with me.”

However, just admitting their existence is reason enough to cast doubt on the probability of Jay accepting this so-called apology. Especially because in today’s digital world, it is more than likely that the material will eventually surface with or without Beans’ consent, since, like with most if not all other new rap music, a studio engineer or a member of Beanie’s entourage probably made copies of the songs in hopes of cashing in on them at a later date. And as well all know Jay would NEVER put himself in a situation to lose.

In fact, the only rapper who ever effectively went up against Jay is NaS, and even the considerable rapping talents of Mr. Jones didn’t disrupt Jay’s steady ascent to the top of Hiphop and popular culture stratospheres, where he continues to rest to this day.

The truth of the matter is that Beanie wasn’t a particularly effective battle rapper when he faced off against Jadakiss and Dipset, so there was no way he could even put the smallest chink in Jay’s armor.

For some reason some rappers who were once down with Jay are now scorned at his lack of involvement in their careers, but the reality of the situation is that their work with Jay far outweighed the effectiveness of their work without him. In other words, these rappers owe Jay. Not the other way around.

But confidence can be a detriment, backfiring to the point that a career will find itself in shambles if it doesn’t rein in and control that confidence that can many times lead to bad decision-making.

It’s not Jay’s fault that Beans squandered most of his earnings on Bentleys and drugs when Jay put him in a position to build a similar type of empire (State Property the group, the film series and clothing line; Pro-Keds) that Jay now rules with an iron fist.

It is unclear what's next on the menu for Beanie. He's said in the past that he has no desire to return to making music but mentioned yesterday he's planning to release a mixtape in the near future.

Maybe now is the time for that long-rumored Beans & Bleek album, since both of their careers are currently on life support.

To his credit, though, Beans did [finally] take the high road and admit the truth of the situation: "Whatever I felt this dude Jay did wrong to me, it can’t outweigh the one thing he did do for me – he gave me an opportunity." It's just too bad that more rappers who have also been supposedly scorned by Jay can't bring themselves to do and say the same.

** In case you forgot, here are the songs in question:

What You Talkin' Bout (Oct. 2009)

I Go Off (Feat. 50 Cent) (Nov. 2009)

How I Can Kill Jigga Man (Nov. 2009)

Think Big (Nov. 2009)

Haters (Aug. 2010)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Racks on Racks: The Guilty Pleasure Edition

My latest musical obsession ironically makes me cower in shame while at the same time uncontrollably and violently bopping my head with that stupid, wide-eyed, grinning visage favored by many of those down south, trill, trapping rappers.

YC (an abbreviation for the name Yung Chris, which is, coincidentally, the same name as another, more talented rapper...) is a baby-faced rapper from Atlanta with a serious summer anthem on his hands, gaining more and more momentum as the warmer months draw closer.

And like every effective rap anthem, Racks conveniently comes complete with its own dance.

The song reminds me of my guilty pleasure from a couple of summers back, so it's no doubt Racks and YC will be a one-hit wonder. Regardless, I'm enjoying this while I can. I suggest you do the same.

And true to the nature of hit rap songs, Racks is starting to see its fair share of other rappers recording their own verses for the track for unofficial remixes. The first that I heard was from Memphis Bleek, but the latest is from Wiz Khalifa, who sounds surprisingly improved in terms of his [traditionally simplistic] style of rhyming:

G.O.O.D. Music up-and-comers Big Sean and CyHi The Prince are supposed to be releasing their "remix" of Racks in the near future, but I wonder if anybody can truly take over the song and make it theirs much like what Lil' Wayne did with Swag Surfin from his popular No Ceilings mixtape.

My guess is there will be at least ten more of these remixes before the summer ends, so check back for the post on who's Racks "remix" reigns supreme.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

South Bronx Street to Be Named for Big Pun?

Last month fans, friends and family of Big Pun gathered in the South Bronx to bring attention to their efforts to have a neighborhood street renamed in honor of the late great rapper.

If approved by the city, 163rd Street and Rogers Place would consequently become Big Pun Place, territory that is already marked with a giant mural of Pun.

Now, while I can admit that Big Pun is probably one of the single most talented lyricists and rappers that Hiphop has ever come across, I can also admit that I don't think that's a good enough reason to have a street named after him.

This goes beyond the allegations that Pun was a wife beater; allegations levied and later backed up by his widow, Liza Rios, who has shared video footage and other proof of Pun's violence against her.

There are literally tons of Bronx Hiphoppers -- including plenty of pioneers -- who have actually done plenty of good for their communities over the past two decades.

Aside from penning and spitting lyrics in the most complex of rhyme schemes, Pun's next best attributes were all scourges of minority communities worldwide: obesity, misogyny, gun violence, materialism, and [over]use of the "N word," which is doubly offensive considering Pun is not African-American.**

Why not name a street after KRS-One, who continues to exude positivity since his debut in 1986?

What about Kool Herc? After all, he is the DJ largely credited with creating Hiphop, and the building in which he is said to have created Hiphop has been turned into a national landmark. So why not name a street in Soundview after him?

Afrika Bambaataa's 1982 single Planet Rock is still a great musical influence for many Hiphop producers, and he is the founding father of the Universal Zulu Nation, a group that took neighborhood gang members and channeled their negative energy to use it for positive means in the community. This group, through one common cause -- Hiphop -- is thriving and continues to unite DJs, rappers, dancers and artists around the world.

The list of other viable candidates to have Bronx streets named for them is a lengthy one; one that down the road might very well include Big Pun. But right now there are others more deserving of consideration before Pun, and that's no knock on him at all. If we're going to honor Pun, we have to honor everything about him, not just his rhyming abilities.

However, if you disagree, you can sign the petition HERE for the street to be renamed.

** This is not to excuse black rappers using the N word to no end. With that said, in my opinion there is only one ethnic group deserving of using this word, and that is the group of folks who it was originally aimed at. It makes no sense for other ethnic groups to fling this word around casually when the history of that word is not their own. More on this later.