Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Megatron Don

I've long been a fan of Just Blaze, who I consider to be one of the top producers in Hip Hop. Most know him for his scorching beats, having worked with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Fabolous, Cam'Ron, and The Game, but many are unaware of his background as a House/Dance music DJ. Lately, Blaze has talked of returning to his roots in Dance music, and is looking to release some music on popular House music DJ A-Trak's label. Recently, he posted a video of a remix that he did of the A-Team theme song. It's a cool video of a genius at work, so check it out.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Do Right And Kill Everything

The more opportunities I've had to listen to Drake's music, the more I've grown to appreciate him as an artist. Although my first impression of him came from "Best I Ever Had," songs like "Forever," "Fear," and "Successful," have shown that Drake is more than just an R&B crooner who raps once in a while. In fact, he is one of the stronger up and coming MC's, who's not afraid to try something different. Case in point with his newest single, "Miss Me." The beat is anchored by a dope horn-driven sample, and the song is absent of a catchy hook- something that is usually demanded by record labels these days. Since Drake's signed to Young Money, as far as I know he has no A&R's to listen to, and is free to do as he pleases. I applaud him for releasing something this unconventional as a single, rather than releasing a tired radio single that is no different than anything else.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Behind the Boards Pt. 7: Swizz Beatz

I'm a huge fan/critic of Swizz Beatz. No question the dude has laced some top-notch artists with heat, but for every banger I hear, I feel like he releases a couple beats that I would classify as mediocre, or dare I say... "wack." Nonetheless, Swizz deserves to be acknowledged for the numerous hit songs that he's crafted, as well as the dope "NYC-keyboard" tracks he's done. In an era when sampling was popular, Swizz threw the industry a curveball and created tracks using keyboards such as the popular Korg Triton, among others. The difference was, where other "keyboard producers" crafted songs that were cheesy or sounded like pop music songs, Swizz was able to get the grittiness out of these same keyboards, and create some of the hardest beats NYC had heard. Take a listen...

1) DMX- "Ruff Ryders Anthem"

When Dark Man X came onto the scene with "Ruff Ryders Anthem," it set the tone for the rest of his career. His debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot is one of the best Hip Hop albums of the '90s, and one of the "hardest" as well. If you didn't know what DMX was about before "Ruff Ryders Anthem," you most definitely knew afterwards. "Anthem" was Swizz' first big hit, and he instantly became the go-to producer in the Ruff Ryders camp.

2) Busta Rhymes- "Touch It"

It's hard for me to choose what my favorite Busta song is since the dude has hits for days, but "Touch It" might be top 3 for me. Swizz sampled Daft Punk's song, "Technologic," and created an amazing hook, and programmed some hard-hitting drums to craft one of my favorite songs of 2006.

3) Jay-Z- "Money, Cash, Hoes"

Nothin' better than a little braggadocio from Jay-Z, and "Money, Cash, Hoes" is a perfect example of that. Jay spits over Swizz' cascading synthesizers, and DMX even stops by to lend a hand. When this was released, no other producer was doing beats like this. A straight up keyboard beat, that happened to have the dirt and grit that NYC rappers were looking for.

4) Styles P- "Good Times"

Wanna talk about a classic song? "Good Times," or known by most people as "I Get High," absolutely bangs. With the Freda Payne sample for the hook, it's easy to figure out what this song is about, but it helps create an unforgettable track.

5) DMX- "Party Up"

The definitive DMX song. Period. I still don't think I've heard a song that gets me as hype as "Party Up." I remember the first time I heard this was back in the day, watching TRL. All I could think was "this DMX guy is crazy." Eleven years later, it still keeps its spot as one of the rowdiest songs in Hip Hop history.

6) Beyonce- "Check On It"

Officially released as the official song for the 2006 movie The Pink Panther, Swizz gave Beyonce an infectious beat, and brought in Texas-based rappers Bun B and Slim Thug to help add a little street cred to the track. It ended up reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and was a chart-topper overseas as well.

7) Cassidy- "I'm a Hustla"

By sampling a line from Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," Swizz made this one of my favorite songs of 2005. "I'm a Hustla" was the first song by Cassidy that I gave a serious listen to, and it didn't disappoint. The beat is heavy, and Cassidy spits some straight battle raps.

8) T.I.- "Bring 'Em Out"

While it's not my favorite T.I. song, "Bring 'Em Out" is still a noteworthy song. It reached #9 on the Billboard charts, and was yet another Swizz-produced song that sampled a Jay-Z song, although this time it was "What More Can I Say."

*Excuse the dude dancing in this video, but it's the only one I could find where the embedding wasn't disabled.

9) Jay-Z- "Jigga My Nigga"

"Jigga My Nigga" is probably my favorite Jay-Z/Swizz collaboration. It was featured on the Ruff Ryders' first album, Ryde or Die Vol. 1. I still can't believe they never made a video for this- anytime this song drops, people go crazy.

10) DMX- "Get It On the Floor"

Although I wouldn't put "Get It On the Floor" in the same category as any of the previously listed DMX songs, it's still dope. Swizz definitely helps to create a raucous atmosphere saying, "if you don't wanna party then your ass gotta go." When DJs drop this at clubs, it usually sets the place off.

Honorable Mention: Beyonce- "Upgrade U," Eve- "Scenario 2000," Eve- "Gotta Man," Ruff Ryders- "WWIII," Jay-Z- "Coming of Age (Da Sequel)," The L.O.X.- "All For the Love"

Top 5, Dead or Alive

I'm a little late posting this, but here goes the new Jada mixtape The Champ Is Here Pt. 3, co-hosted by DJ Drama and DJ Green Lantern. So far, it's one of my favorite 'tapes of the year, right behind Trap or Die 2. I'm real pumped for Jadakiss' new album Top 5, Dead or Alive which reportedly has production from DJ Premier as well as some other NYC heavyweights. Hopefully, it'll be much better than The Last Kiss which, quite frankly, was lackluster at best. Be sure to check out "Top 5 Dead or Alive," "You Will Remember Me," and "Who Shot Ya," which are my favorite joints on this mixtape.

I'm Confident, I'll Take It As A Compliment

It's no Green House Effect, but Asher Roth is still having fun with his music. While there are plenty of songs on his newest mixtape, Seared Foie Gras, that I would never give a second listen, there were at least five tracks on here that are worth keeping in rotation. Some of the highlights include tracks featuring Talib Kweli, Ryan Leslie, and Pac Div, as well as production borrowed from some of the industry's most talented.

One of those tracks, Muddy Swim Trunks, just got the visuals to go along with it. The video itself plays off the title of Asher's first album, Asleep In The Bread Aisle, with him walking through the grocery store.

You can check the video out here:

Take a listen to a few select tracks that I was really feeling.
Hellafaded ft. Pac Div

To check out the whole mixtape, download it here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It Feels Like I Made It

Done studying, and I finally have my last exam tomorrow. I'll tell you this, it's been a long week, but I feel like I made it. And now that my obligations at school have passed, I'm back to the music. A track off Big Sean's Finally Famous seemed to fit so well.

The track, Made It also features fellow newcomer Drake. Not only do you get a great Drake hook, but he hits you with a verse right off the bat. Big Sean finishes off the song in G.O.O.D. music fashion. The production was done by WrighTrax alongside Kanye West. I'm curious to see how the album turns out, dropping sometime later this year.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Study Jams

Finals week, baby. The last thing I should be doing is posting instead of preparing for my exams, but we all need a break sometime. With finals in mind, it's always nice when you find some music that you can just put on and get to work with.

This week, I found myself turning to a couple different artists and mixtapes to get me through this last week of school. One of my favorite has been Dilla Jawns. This was a mixtape that The Legendary Roots Crew had put out on Dilla's birthday.

The Roots are literally so talented that I could listen to a whole album of them just playing. It's not always about the message that is relayed, but it's about the music. The Crew understands this and exhibit the bands musical talents by recreating and reinterpreting some beats created by the late, great producer J. Dilla with their time-tested, live instrumentals. If you're not familiar with Dilla, he was one of the most talented producers the industry has seen, working with the likes of Common, The Pharcyde, and A Tribe Called Quest.

For those of you who still have exams, enjoy this amazing bit of studying music. I can just throw it on in the background and truly enjoy it without being distracted from my work by any lyrics. I envy those who are done for the year, and you, too, can enjoy this compilation.

Download Dilla Jawns

It's Gonna Be A Hot Summer

Due to an absurd amount of work the past couple weeks, I've been unable to post anything. Well, what better way to make a comeback than to post the new DJ Drama-hosted Cam mixtape, Boss of All Bosses 2.5. I haven't had the chance to listen to this yet, but hopefully it's in the same league as Jadakiss' Champ Is Here Pt. 3 (which I will post for those that don't already have it). Hoping for it to be as hot as Jeezy's new 'tape, Trap or Die 2, is asking a bit much as that's undoubtably the hottest mixtape of the year so far. Nonetheless, I'm sure Dram F. Kennedy and Cam have put together some quality material.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Doctor Who Cried Detox : Not So Patiently Waiting

The clever guys over at The Real have most recently put up a video they made that put's a little commentary about Dre and the whole Detox situation.