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)