Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I should be writing my lab report right now, but I just spent way too much time reading way too long entries about way too much of nothing. If you think you can handle it, read this then this then this then this to wrap it up.
Friday, October 24, 2008
In its short three years of existence, the "Cipher" series has gained quite a bit of recognition as the solely reserved non-industry segment on the BET Hip Hop Awards. On the surface that's all quite apparent. While it's sad that grouping legitimate emcees in a celebration of the true foundation of rap is relegated to a few two minute segments yearly, I'm obviously happier that BET puts them together rather than not. And all praise for DJ Premier scratching every year.
BET Cipher Series - feat. Everybody
But I still feel I'm watching an eerily sold out product even though I enjoy every single addition to the series. It seems that BET makes this the annual equivalent of "Saturday sinners, Sunday morning at the feet of the father." (c) Talib Kweli
It's like the producers are trying to make up for all of the garbage they flood the masses with every single day by putting together a cut that'll have all the hip hop heads celebrating. Here are a few reasons why I so strongly get that vibe in elaboration after I've just got done bobbing my head and cheering.
1. Rappers are prominently featured that BET could absolutely not care any less about.
There was a big debacle that I remember awhile back about a Little Brother video being blacklisted from the station because their video was, infamously quoted, "too intelligent." Fans were in a big ole uproar over it, especially since The Minstrel Show was just such a monstrously dope album altogether. But when the next year came around, Phonte got a lead spot in a cipher. A more recent and even quicker-responding example is Q-Tip, whose video was also disgustingly quoted as being ... "different" as a reason for why it wasn't on online polls to be put on 106 & Park. And guess who gets a closing cipher appearance before his album even drops?
2. Nothing wrong with international rappers, but interlingual?
There's just something about a rapper spitting in Japanese while the dudes around her "ooh" and "uh" as if they're hanging on every punchline. For me personally, it's hard enough to pay attention to Dizzee Rascal's heavy accentuation, much less the aforementioned Hime or the French Flo or K'naan slipping into Somalian. Unless Fuse TV is on the brink of buying out BET, these artists have no chance of ever getting another two milliseconds on the station. And I'm serious, Willy Northpole was sweating Hime's tanka usage.
3. Hurricane Chris got a spot in there ...
Yeah. I know everybody's waiting for next year's Rakim-Lady Sovereign-Soulja Boy spit down.
Now I just gotta say it again, I absolutely love these cipher segments! But you know when something seems a little too good to be true and you just know the motives behind it are in no way honorable? I can't complain about the final aired product, though. I'll suffer through an I-don't-know-why-everybody's-bigging-upping-him Ace Hood verse if it means there's gonna be a Lupe, Rhymefest, or Jadakiss to come correct afterwards. Maybe if BET replaced Rap City with some form of a Cipher show that actually showcased real talent on a regular basis then I'd shut my mouth and actually enjoy the thing.
... and so concludes another masterpiece
Thursday, October 23, 2008
This post is dedicated to any and every song out there that made you pray on your pillow that night a collabo album would be in the works and be released at least in the next ten years by the artists that just got together. These are in no particularly symbolic order of any kind. These are automatic download links!
Nas - Black Republicans (feat. Jay-Z)
Why it worked: This was the result of one of those beefs that made you question the get-over-ability of any given hip hop beef. But it was so timely. I was one who got goosebumps the morning I checked all my rap blogs and they each had headlines involving Jay's concert where he brought out Nas announcing to the world that NY's golden children were putting aside their differences. After the obligatory Def Jam joint album rumors that neither exactly shot down, this track finally made its way to the world. The epic-ness of any supposed-to-be epic track can quickly be achieved by an epic sounding beat, and the kings of NY milked it for everything it's worth back and forth for an entire 58 seconds before the actual lyrics come up. And this is one of those that actually felt like it was jointly birthed between the artists as each rapper chimes in with adlibs and doubled-up chorus vocals. Success. As was the pun-intended follow-up.
Jay-Z - Renegade (feat. Eminem)
Why it kinda worked: Back in '01 you'd be hard pressed to find any two more commercially viable rap artists with as dedicated a following and critical love. And on the unfortunate release date of 9/11, Blueprint was pushed further into a realm of cultural lore. The main detraction is ... um ... why did Em so insist on being behind the boards for a long stretch and why did Jay chose to take that beat that he didn't exactly outstandingly shine on? It became the prodigal "killed on your own ish" punchline example. And the original had Royce in Jay's place, so why exactly didn't he come harder? Truth be told, neither was too impressive lyrically on those awkward snares and depressing back orchestration. But epic is what epic does. Whatever that means.
50 Cent - I Get Money (Forbes 1-2-3 Remix feat. Diddy & Jay-Z)
Why it didn't work: Did anybody really like the original? It just happened to be the least worst of the fourteen pre-album singles that Fiddy dropped around the same time and it had a semi-respectable Audio Two sample. And plus, no one exactly praises 50 or Diddy for either they or their ghost writers' lyrical prowess. Even Jay-Z seemed bored when it got around to his verse, only quipping "in case y'all forgot, New York is still mine" to spark a bit of controversy amongst an all NY cast. But ... it's just not enough for anyone else to really care about. I kinda actually did want it to turn out alright. Kinda. I shoulda known better.
CRS - Us Placers
Why it worked: Because it came almost literally out of nowhere! And off a pre-Graduation Kanye mixtape that would have been a virtual throwaway without it. And while I'm not always the biggest fan, Pharrell went in on the closing verse. This brings up dreams of the old Jay, Ja, and DMX super group talks (that I kinda don't wanna hear thinking back on it). And the Thom Yorke sample just fits. I'm not asking any hip hop heads to convert to indie rockdom, but it just feels good and every "uh" and all of Lupe's "and they love it" achieve a real atmosphere. If the album ever makes itself for real, who knows what could happen? I don't.
Bun B - Swang On 'Em (feat. Lupe Fiasco)
Why it didn't work: With all the talk of the glasses-toting Chicago emcee about how he came up more on UGK and NWA than A Tribe Called Quest, this was the chance for Lupe to let his performance speak for him. He was getting a track on a huge album by a Houston legend to exercise his gangsta, South-tinged material. But what came out of it was a chopped and screwed pile of uninteresting. It just wasn't any fun. It wasn't any kind of intelligent. It wasn't any kind of hood either. It dwelled in the middle land of Lupe not knowing how to write balancing either extreme of rap, equalling an unappealing verse to either side. Bun was Bun, but not enough to rescue it.
Kanye West - Barry Bonds (feat. Lil' Wayne)
Why it didn't work: Why does Kanye let anybody else in the world get a beat on his own tape? Especially a plodding, yawn-inducing one from Nottz? Unfortunately we've found that Wayne often brings the worst out of Yeezy (though I don't exactly hold that judgement on the "Lollipop Remix"). He becomes trapped into a monotonous cycle of swagger braggadocio that's redundantly redundant. It happened on "Swagga Like Us", too, enough that it has the world praying that the Nas & 3K variation exists just to save the mess. Was anyone that excited to hear Kanye out-do Wayne on his own braggy punchline lane that he's made popular?
Jay-Z - Hello Brooklyn 2.0 (feat. Lil' Wayne)
Why it didn't work: Why this track about this subject? Wayne on an ode to Brooklyn? Why couldn't they wait the tiniest bit longer to allow "Mr. Carter" to be the one and only Jay-Wayne collabo? I like the bass it rattles off in my car, but the song isn't convincing in any other way whatsoever. Honestly, it's a humungous blemish on American Gangster as a whole. And the Beastie Boys yelling at me randomly? Sigh.
OutKast - Mighty "O"
Why it worked: While this may seem out of place, let's not forget the always persistent break-up rumors by Georgia's resident rap legends. Especially those that were coming out in the way-too-long gap between Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and Idlewild. This song was the first leaked single from the latter album and featured crazy intricate 32's by each rhyming partner. Both were up on their lyrical hardness and differential cohesiveness. Both unapologetically insulted those in the media and the fans for keeping up rumors that both parties denied. Whether or not you liked the Prohibition era'd movie (if you ever went and saw it) and it's accompanying soundtrack, this track yelled from the mountain tops that Andre was not to be done with the art of rhyming and he would stay bar for bar with Big Boi on his own terms.
Obviously I can't hit on every major joint venture between timeless artists, but what are your favorite hits and misses with big time collaborators?
... and so concludes another masterpiece
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I enjoy all meaningful hip hop music more than I could ever explain to you, but never did I know an incredibly intelligent track could be so fun. I guess that's what you get with an always lyrically on-par Talib Kweli when he had an old Kanye beat tape before he was a household name.
Monday, October 20, 2008
... and so concludes another masterpiece
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
So my computer's been down for a while cuz I left my power chord back in the Ville, but I'm good now. And none of my posts got deleted while I was gone! So here's the first ode to my favorite women on the planet.