Monday, March 17, 2014

Take A Listen: ATlas BLK "BLK Thoughts [INTRO]" Prod. by Co.fee & Analog Candle

 Aptly subtitled "Intro", Boston MC ATLas BLK releases a sample of what's to come from his completed project. We get to take a look into the many random thoughts which course through his brain, probably in a matter of minutes. A true venting record, he manages to touch on everything that can trouble a creative soul: the lack of support from "day 1's", family, his views on his impact in the rap game, etc. And the beat resembles something of yesteryears that conscience all stars like Talib and Common would have LOVED to jump on. Thanks for the submission! Enjoy.

Take A Look: Crimdella "Gamma Crush"

 It was coming up on a whole year since I posted this song and now, finally, the video has been released. I know the turn around for vids in the underground are a bit longer than industry standards, but I'm content with the outcome for the single. To accompany the overall feel of this song, a sound track for a night of inebriation and bad decisions, the video features scenes with the infamous red cups, exaggerated portions of body parts (it's PG I swear) and optical effects evoking dizziness, i.e. the worst parts of being under the influence.I'm not too sure when's his next performance, but you have got to see Crimdella perform this track about a party. Thanks for the submission! Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Speaking Out On the Current State of Hip-Hop. Response to Billboard’s “Hot Rap Songs Chart” 25th Anniversary.

On March 7th, while I was doing my routine research for the site, I ran across a link on my Facebook timeline with the title “‘Thrift Shop’ Is The Best Rap Song Ever” published by Mass Appeal. Curious, and mostly confused, I went to find out if one of my favorite sources for music news had finally turned to the dark side. However, to my surprise and relief, the article summed up what was on my mind as of late: the current state of Hip Hop is in trouble. The article by Mass Appeal was in response to the Billboard’s list “Hot Rap Songs Chart” celebrating the 25th anniversary since the notably respected music source recognized Hip Hop as a genre.

A couple of things infuriated me with this list: 1. Hip Hop is 40 years old, so 25 years meant what? 2. Hip Hop wasn’t born from numbers. 3. Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop” in the eyes of Billboard, in the last quarter century, was the greatest song ever in Hip Hop. After an open discussion via Facebook with my peers on the current state of Hip Hop, I finally addressed her stance in a status.  

“Here's how I feel about the current state of Hip Hop:

I will always be loyal to it. I will always be a fan of it. It will always be a part of my life. HOWEVER, I am disappointed in it. I was watching the Tanning of America series that premiered on VH1 (mind you, it was a "rocDoc" special and why BET doesn't do programs like this, I will never understand) and during the series, there were two key quotes that stuck with me and added to my disappointment and confusion. Legendary lyricist Nas said "Hip Hop comes from people with nothing to lose, so why lie to you? It's raw story telling." And two, from a Hip Hop journalist describing the culture, "it's not like other genres, like rock, which rally's against the system. Hip Hop wants to BECOME the system." Once upon a time, yes. Hip Hop was a thriving movement born out of the civil rights movement to breed ambitious young people who would then continue to up lift others because of the stories they told. Many outlets, like Yo! MTV Raps, Rap City Da Basement, The Source Magazine, centered around exposing talent and most importantly, building an empire on its own. In a book I'm reading now, Hip Hop Inc. by Dr. Richard Oliver and Tim Leffel, it pretty much sums up what happened to Hip Hop once it became a business. It states the business of Hip Hop is not just about selling the black experience to the black community, it "is also about selling the black experience to white America and to audiences around the world." So with the necessity to "make it out of the hood" many artists sought out record deals, which in turn changed up the rap music (the introduction to gangsta rap) and brought the following influences that came: the exploitation of women, gun violence, gang affiliation, and of course drugs. Once the ratings for Hip Hop orientated shows dropped, the TV executives pulled the plug. The mission was no longer about the uplifting message. It was about how to produce the most money.

Hip Hop began as a solid place for minorities to express themselves while being shown they, too, can own a piece of the American pie, by simple building their own bakery. But in recent years, the concept of “battle royal” is all I see and hear in mainstream media today. Author Nelson George in his book Hip Hop America describes these segments of a boxing event as “a gang of colored youngsters gathered in a ring for a blindfolded, no holds barred brawl. There were no weapons except fists, but the physical damage that ensued in the frenzy was monumental. The last man standing won a nominal prize that hardly compensated for the broken teeth and fractured bones resulting from these gang bangs.” And for what? The amusement of white people…The beginning of the show…the appetizer. Hip Hop has went from the message of unity and conscience thought to becoming about materialistic ideologies and how much more I have than you. At least, in the mainstream. But the underground is no better, continuously striving to “break into mainstream” without realizing the influence it has on its own.

I could go on, but my main point is that I'm heavily disappointed in the lack of support within Hip Hop and how the control was given to a higher power so willingly for the all mighty dollar. We as black people are very quick to support those who don't even WANT US SUPPORTING THEM. When the Timbaland boot craze was occurring and the black community was pretty much increasing their profits, do you know what the C.E.O. of Timbaland said? "We don't sell our shoes to drug dealers." Meanwhile, there are PLENTY of designers, some your next door neighbors, who are struggling with a part time job just to invest back and create their clothes and their “friends” ask them for a free shirt? Ticket sales for mainstream artists playing at huge arenas cost almost an arm and leg for just noise bleed seats. Yet the public continues to purchase tickets and merchandise at these shows, proudly supporting even more with social media with the all mighty selfie. They drop an album, which probably has 2 good songs on it. But what happens? Number one spots, gold and platinum records, Grammys, etc. An extremely talented underground artist who’s performing at a local lounge invites people out to support; admission is $10. What happens? No one shows. They premiere a song via their Soundcloud, and have to ASK as a favor for a share. Where did this disconnect come from?

The genuine support and message of Hip Hop was lost once the mainstream business recognized it was able to make money...but make money the way they seemed fit. I mean, is the History of Hip Hop even discussed anymore? Doubt it. But how many albums Drake sells…all over the news. The advancements in technology have opened up doors legends in Hip Hop wished they had when they started the culture. An artist no longer has to have a record deal to get their message heard across the world. So what is the issue? Talented underground stars like Yahiness, Leon Marin, and I.O.D. deserve just as much acclaim as Tyga, Big Sean, and J. Cole. Plenty within the underground are dedicated and focused on producing quality music infused with their essence and stories, yet because they aren’t “Jay-Z”, you will probably never know them. Unless of course, their hype is built tremendously fast, which means a gigantic amount of support, which means attending shows, buying albums, sharing music, etc. But where has that support gone? To the mainstream, which continues to pump out what the public likes and the public, in turn, supports it because it's produced 24/7. It’s a very vicious cycle. But where does the revolution need to happen?

Pioneering rapper LL Cool J said it best: "own the music". I think it's time we own the business and take control. Don't let the foundation of Hip Hop die. The quickest way to give up that power is to believe you don't have any. And all I'm saying is...Lil Wayne can talk about wearing money, the sales of Polo goes up. But what has Polo done for you? #Supportyourown”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Take A Listen: Drew featuring Robert Lux "Plus One"

Former record label executive and alternative adult contemporary singer-songwriter Drew releases her new single "Plus One" off her upcoming debut EP, "The Other Side". This song is a simple conversation between Drew and Robert trying to figure out is the relationship for the long haul. Understanding that she can definitely do bad all by herself, she's willing to add a "plus one" to her life, as long as the relationship is built on honesty and loyalty. Two words that hold the biggest commitments in the world, Drew needs the security and wants it from her friend/lover. The sultry electro infused R&B/Soul beat adds to the hopeless romantics of the message the song is trying to convey, making for a sexy addition to your...well you know what playlist I'm referring to (wink wink). Enjoy!

Take A Look: Radamiz "New York Don't Love Me"

Lyrical assassin Radamiz drops a video to his track "New York Don't Love Me" which lays out every reason why he feels this statement is true. One main reason is the jealousy. His lyrical skills and assembly of bars is untouchable in his eyes and there are rappers, even crews, who can't comprehend why he's so good. So instead of supporting so we all can break the ceiling into mainstream, they take the "crabs in a barrel" approach, causing problems. Sucks right? I mean, why have beef in the underground? Either way, Radamiz understands his purpose and the talent he was blessed with, so he's going to be just fine, New York on his side or not. Accompanied by a beat produced by Electrical Requiem resembling the essence of Hip Hop's yesteryears, this track is dope. Enjoy!

Take A Listen: Various Artists "Welcome to the Dean's List Vol.2 " Presented by Scott Morris & D2LALMMC

The monumental Dean's List Tour is not only a tour, but an organization complete with the basics every aspiring artist needs to catapult their careers. Beginning in October, this tour dedicated to the best of the best underground talent has been making headlines, producing multimedia takeaways for each stop (25+ to be exact) and creating hype and ambition for next year. But of all the amazing things this tour is accomplishing, the most impressive has to be the production of a mixtape. A 15 track compilation mixtape providing music by those who were chosen, out of the hundreds who auditioned, to participate on the tour.

Released this week, the second installment of "Welcome To The Dean's List" is an impressive mash up of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Soul with features from underground artists like Mr. R&B Venor, Butta Cool, Ronnie Brown, and Sitcomlife Brown. Listening to the entire tape at face value, it's really an amazing collection of music, proving my very theory that the underground is truly where the talent resides. And with each track, it's as if you're being taken on a ride through prominent musical eras. After the announcer style intro, the first music track "Money Talks" By Deshawn Supreme is straight up late 80's/early 90's. That beat and the cadence he raps in took me back to where only documentaries display the essence. Continuing on to Ronnie Brown's "Something For The Train" featuring Erica Kane, we're still engulfed in the prime era where Hip-Hop and Soul collided, bring us great music. And you cannot tell me that Venor's "So Much Love" doesn't remind you of SWV's "Right Here". We get to turn up some with Bizzy Bee's track "Death", bars accompanied by a beat reminiscent of a live orchestra or marching band and Adrenalin's "ShowBiz", an affirmation to peers and supporters stating "I'm here" over a heavily percussion infused beat. After a slight commercial break mid-way through the tape, we head back in with the Hip-Pop stylings of Lea Robinson, pouring her heart out about how love would make you stay when you know in every capacity you should leave. In between those times of break up and make up Lea sings about, Dave Al's "Missing You" could be an aspect of the thoughts running through your head when you're apart. Other options to missing someone: you could listen to Butta Cool's club banger "Do It Better" and say fug dat bish, or have a girl's night and blast Tryfe Dolla "Down". The rest of the tape is littered with bars. Karma P "Let A N Work", Frank Knight featuring Conplex & MasterMind "King's Crown" and Sitcomlife Brown "Visions To Reality, close out the tape with a firm stance in the underground, justifying that where the music eventually was birthed from is always going to win when it comes to pure talent and of course, passion.

Added bonus: if you don't want to go through the hassle of skipping through track to track you can jump right to the last track. Dj Blackout provides a one track blend of the songs, perfect for chill sessions, intermissions during shows, background music for dinner parties, etc.

The tour will continue until April and if you like what you hear, I'd suggest you make it out to one of the stops! Check the official website for more information:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Take A Listen: Dynamic Equilibrium "A King's Serenity" Ft. Chakkra Tara & Haile Ali

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference"

Always love a good song that tells the story of an artist, or at else a scene in their life's movie. The "dynamic" duo of rapper Alpha Memphis, and producer MACHIA have created a track that explains the persistent hard work and both subjective and objective view focused on the aim to show the world your Kingdom. In the process of this pursuit, of course, there are problems that act as road blocks, like the struggles of living in the hood, haters, and the decisions that can ultimately be life threatening. But the driving force, or rather the cause of all the results is in accordance with your choices and the ability to understand how it will effect your life, not just temporarily, but for years to come. Everyone does want serenity eventually, and maybe if you listen to this track, you'll be a step closer to achieving it. Also doesn't hurt to listen to this track because the beat is amazing, the background vocals make me feel like I'm floating through the times of my hardships while acknowledging my progression and the lyrics! Just take a listen and enjoy!

Take A Listen: JDVBBS "War Paint"

Going to warn my readers about this song: there are like 2-3 different genres balled into one for this track, depending on how you categorize your music. One of them is definitely EDM...then Hip-Hop, Pop, R&B. Ok, so that was 4 different genres, but it works out. Inspired by a conversation before a night out on the town, JDVBBS (Jay-Dubs) created "War Paint" as a tribute to the cosmetics most women use everyday to enhance their beauty. From Mac to Cover Girl, the correlation is that when women put on make up, they are preparing for "war" i.e. the night out with the girls and it's winner take all. Ladies are on a mission and know exactly what they're doing when they paint their face and it is a sort of quiet competition, almost like a silent auction (the currency being the drinks purchased by the suitors). You and your girls are the army, competing, or battling, for the attention of the guys in whatever setting, decked out in your best dress, shoes, perfume, and of course, your expressive war paint. I want to specifically dedicate this song to my voguers and break dancers. The entire time I was listening to this song, I pictured you talented shape shifters in the middle of some dance floor doing incredible tricks and I'm in some corner with the Home Alone face, in utter shock. Enjoy!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Take A Look: Joe & Box "Boogieman and Weasel" (Official Video)

With their influences being from Outkast, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, & Eminem to name a few, Joe & Box have been added to my list of favorite rapping white guys (after Normal Man, of course). The song was written as their alter egos "Boogieman" who is Box, and "Weasel" who is Joe. As you can tell my the comical nicknames, this track is a banter between the two as they talk about their philosophy "Fuck Being Ordinary" and rep their movement "The Swine Movement". They also delve into the origin of not only their alter egos but how they began rapping in the first place. Line by line, each emcee takes their turn, like an improv duo, in weaving a world where Boogieman and Weasel reside. Fun fact about the video: due to the ridiculous amounts of snow that happened this winter in NYC/NJ, the fellas decided, instead of waiting until conditions got better, why not just use the blizzard as a set. Sure. why not? Adds to the comedic flare of the song. Like if The Lonely Island mated with The Beastie Boys.  Enjoy!


Take A Look: Regg "Flash Bishop" (Official Music Video)

Not going to lie, because I'm beginning to understand people actually pay attention to what I say, but when I first opened this submission and listened to the track...did not win me over. The visuals were interesting (because I always wonder when churches are used, how did they make that happen) but the lyrics weren't keeping me intrigued. But before I closed the window, my inner monologue started and the decision was made to keep watching. The chorus got me, the insertion of clips from The Gong Show was funny, and then the second versus came. I was finally won over. Little did I know Regg of Empire M.A.F.I.A. is a sneaky you the warm up before he demolishes the tracks. Very clever but risky way of getting people to listen, but I can vouch that I stuck around and "it does get better." The promised wordplay, the imaginative metaphors, and nonchalant demeanor in delivery adds up to me being a fan of the solo artist. I mean he literally had me, after a couple of bars like "damn...I was really about to let this one go?". Glad I stayed for the trip through the South Bronx emcee's mind. I'm anticipating the debut  mixtape "Moon's Novocaine II" dropping March 23rd. Once again: #FearThe23rd.

Take A Look: I.O.D. "War" (Prod. by DeathThaKid)

"If you ain't given it ya cardiac, you far from wack, you just anotha nigga tryna figure where the party at..."
 Where do I start? Giving you the visual, while giving you visuals, to bring the lyrics to life. Did I lose you? Sorry...let's try again. I.O.D., along with camera man Ether-Blog of iSpitNYC, has created an artistic entity that is like a visual inception. The basis of the video shows I.O.D. dropping his bars in various simplistic settings: on the street, in the shadows, as a shadow dancing in the night and my personal favorite, around a bonfire. Pay close attention to the scenes with the fire and you can see the young Brownsvillian burning CDs from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Trinidad James and the general label "Your Favorite Rapper". As I.O.D. raps, sometimes directly into the camera, you'll see clips from Pulp Fiction, anime shows, and Mike Tyson's glory days. Every single imagery used in this video ties in perfectly to the overall theme of the track: Hip-Hop Anarchy. Good. I.O.D. is just as sick of it as I am. Expressing his aggravation toward the direction Hip-Hop has gone, he decided to be the change it needs and this debut video, along with this song, is a good step in the right direction. Problem? I'd advise you take caution, based off the chorus..."Try me...and I'll show you." Enjoy.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Take A Look: Read Richarts "RCS (Rare Card Shyt)"

"Niggas busy tryna be man of the town, I'm just tryna be man whoever around - bigger picture"

I love the aggressiveness and affirmation stamped on this track. I love the level of annoyance vented and how everything about this artist is based on an intellectual portal. The video's concept: he is going to make a name for himself either by you hearing him OR seeing him, in person or just by name and he will be different. The idea of using still shots to make a visually strong impact for the message in the song was creative. My favorite part, however, comes at the end of the first verse, where he goes "And I don't look at none of those niggas as competition, I'm thinking much bigger: Drake, Cole, 'n' Kendrick, Niggas dat's really doing it, not niggas still pursuing it...". Besides the excessive use of "nigga", these bars quickly sum up how rappers are simply motivated to reaching certain goals, different ways. He wants to do better and to do better, you should see better. Strive for better by seeing an example of better. How can you honestly be in competition with someone in the same boat as you? Regardless, Read Richarts is shutting Texas down. He has to be because this song give me so much life. Thanks for the submission. Enjoy everybody!