Friday, January 28, 2011
Let's rewind back to 2004-2006 in NYC... Saigon was droppin' mixtape after mixtape, and was gearing up to release his debut LP (which is dropping February 15th of THIS year), and a Brooklyn-born MC named Papoose was killin' the scene as well. Pap used to hustle mixtapes outside of NYC-radio station, Hot 97's, office building. DJ Kay Slay got a hold of one and was impressed by the kid's talent. Papoose ended up signing a $1.5 million deal with Jive, but his album The Nacirema Dream was shelved indefintely due to "A&R hell"- essentially, disagreements over the album. Below, I've posted what is Pap's essential song, "Alphabetical Slaughter." He goes through every letter, A-Z, and "breaks it down for you."
Yesterday, a new song and accompanying video leaked off of Wiz's upcoming CD, Rolling Papers. "On My Level," which features O.G. legend, Too Short, is a hot little jam in the same vein as a lot of Wiz's previous material- "I take one shot to the brain, and I order three more shots, I'm goin' in...". All in all, I'm definitely feeling it and lookin' forward to hearing more from Young Khalifa.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
If I have to inform who Drake is, you've probably been living under a rock the past two years. Needless to say, everyone knows the kid is on fire. His debut album, Thank Me Later, was certified platinum and spawned numerous singles including, "Over," "Miss Me," and "Find Your Love," all of which were "successful" (get it?). So when Drake announced that he had already started working on his new album, Take Care, people started talking about what improvements the kid from "Degrassi" could make on his sophomore effort. Drake, himself, has said that he didn't get to put the time and effort into his first album that he wanted to. This time around, he's looking to change that. Drizzy's already hit the studio with his go-to producers Boi-1da, and Noah "40" Shebib. And rumor has it that he's reached out to DJ Premier, Q-Tip, and 9th Wonder as well. The album should be fire, but we're probably gonna be waiting on it for a minute since no release date has been announced.
To hold you over, check out one of my favorite songs off of Thank Me Later... "Fireworks."
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Back in 2009, Blaq Poet, a Queensbridge-based MC (which also happens to be home to NaS, Mobb Deep, and Ron Artest among others), released an album called, Tha Blaqprint, on DJ Premier's label Year Round Records. It didn't sell particularly well, but that was never the point- it received solid reviews and went under the radar as one of the better releases of the year.
His video for "Ain't Nuttin' Changed," the first single off of the album, is about as Hip Hop as it gets. You got dudes from his hood, Poet kickin' rhymes, and of course DJ Premier cuttin' and scratchin' on the decks... you just can't top that.
Not gonna lie, I definitely have a "late pass" when it comes to REKS, but the little bit that I've heard from him has been dope. To be completely honest, I don't have too much info on him but I plan on coppin' his album, Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme, which dropped today. With production coming from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, The Alchemist, Nottz (of Dre's label Aftermath), Sha Money XL (of G-Unit), and Sean C & LV (of Diddy's crew, The Hitmen), this is pretty much a must-buy. REKS shot a video for his single (?) "25th Hour," which is produced by preemo. The beat is too serious, and he drops some nice bars as well.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You," also known as "T.R.O.Y.", is one of the greatest Hip Hop songs of all time. Pete Rock's funky horns, along with C.L.'s lament about a lost friend makes for what Pitchfork Media ranked as the #35 best track of the 1990s. "T.R.O.Y." always finds its way onto lists like "top tracks of the 1990s," and the "best Hip Hop songs of all time," and for good reason. There are few songs that can give a lasting impression, but this one is undeniably classic.
When J. Cole came onto the scene with his two critically acclaimed mixtapes, The Come Up and The Warm Up, people began to wonder who was this fiery, young MC from North Carolina. Having been featured on numerous songs the past couple months, the man has made a name for himself as one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in Hip Hop. He unfairly gets compared to Drake, but to his credit, he's made a lane for himself- he isn't trying to be the cool mainstream rapper/part-time R&B crooner. Instead, he's shown a lyrical dexterity that hasn't been heard from a young MC in quite some time.
A few months ago, Jay-Z signed him to his label Roc Nation and his debut album, Cole World, is slated to hit stores in March. With production from No I.D., Salaam Remi, The Neptunes, and Danja (Timbaland's protégé), Cole World should be one of the highlights of 2011. Below is the video for "Who Dat," which is the street single for his album.
Friday, January 21, 2011
The Bronx duo known as Camp Lo, has released quality music over the years- most notably their 1997 debut album, Uptown Saturday Night. Upon release, it was widely acclaimed, and has since gained a cult-like status. Ski (now known as Ski Beatz), who is known mostly for the cuts he produced on Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, produced the majority of Uptown. Even if you've never heard of Camp Lo, you've most likely heard "Luchini." It's been featured in TV shows like "Entourage," and numerous commercials as well.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
If there is one man who could single-handedly resurrect lyric-driven Hip Hop back into the mainstream, it could be Jay Electronica. The man is a poet, almost prophetic with the way he "paints the picture." His first mixtape, Act I: The Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), was unlike anything Hip Hop had heard in years when it came out back in 2008. But then he released the Just Blaze-produced bangers, "Exhibit A," and the reigning underground Hip Hop song of the year, "Exhibit C." When "C" dropped, all the Internet blogs went crazy... not only was the beat absolutely bananas, but then you've got this guy kickin' rhymes like, "so now I'm back spittin' that he could pass a polygraph, that Reverend Run rockin' Adidas out on Hollis Ave., that F.O.I., Marcus Garvey, Nikki Tesla, I'll shock you like an eel electric feel Jay Electra" .... ridiculous. Jay has been working closely with Just Blaze and Diddy on his next highly-anticipated mixtape, Act II: Patents Of Nobility, and recently signed a deal with Jay-Z's label, Roc Nation, to release his debut album. I'm excited to see what this man can do with a platform such as Roc Nation, because even with the most limited sources imaginable, Jay Elect can make music of the highest quality. Below is the preview for his song "Dear Moleskin," which was supposed to come out a while ago but still hasn't been released.
You probably haven't heard of Slim Da Mobster, but it's a name should get familiar with. Hailing from South Central, L.A., Slim signed with Dr. Dre's Aftermath record label back in 2009, and has been ghost-writing for Dre's upcoming album, Detox. Like many Aftermath artists that have come and gone before him, I expected Slim to bite the dust just like Bishop Lamont and Rakim. However, two years later he's still around, and it appears that we have the first song (at least first I've heard) from Dre's newest protégé. I consider it a near miracle that this song is out because Aftermath is notorious for making music and never releasing any of it.
Slim Da Mobster feat. Xzibit- "Don't Believe You" (prod. by Nottz) [props to nahright.com for the DL link]
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
In my humble opinion, Pusha T is one of the best MCs in the game. Alongside his P.I.C., Malice, the Clipse have released some excellent albums including Lord Willin', Hell Hath No Fury, and Till The Casket Drops. Pusha's dropped some of the hottest lines I've ever heard, most notably, "I move 'caine like a cripple," off of their 2002 hit song, "Grindin'." When news broke that Pusha would be signing a solo deal with Kanye's label, G.O.O.D. Music, I rejoiced as did many Hip Hop fans. Imagining Pusha rapping over Kanye beats, as well as the standard productions from The Neptunes, is an incredible prospect. Although no release dates have been mentioned, we do know that Pusha will be releasing a mixtape in the coming months called Fear of God, and his as-of-now untitled solo album should appear soon after. In the meantime, enjoy the G.O.O.D. music cipher from this past B.E.T. Awards featuring Pusha, Kanye, CyHi Da Prynce, Big Sean, and Common.
As February 15th approaches, I'm getting more and more excited about the possibility of Saigon's The Greatest Story Never Told becoming a classic Hip Hop album. Every track I've heard off of the album has been excellent, and now we have the soulful, "Clap." Armed with triumphant horns and a Faith Evans-laced hook, if this song is any indication of what's to come, we're in for a treat.
Saigon feat. Faith Evans- "Clap" (prod. by Just Blaze) [props to nahright.com for the DL link]
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
"Anything," is definitely one of my favorite Jay songs. When you hear it, it's obvious that it was produced in the same vein as "Hard Knock Life," with both of their samples coming from musicals (Oliver! for "Anything," and Annie for "Hard Knock Life"). This song actually wasn't on any of Jay's albums, it was released on Beanie Sigel's 1999 album, The Truth. I would love it if Jay made another sample-heavy album with producers like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Bink!. Blueprint 3 had some cool samples, but its focus was to build something for this day and age. I have a feeling that for that to happen, the stars would have to perfectly align, but one can only hope. For now, take a listen to one of the more underappreciated Jay-Z songs.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
One of the albums I foolishly left off of the "2011's Most Anticipated Albums" list is Raekwon's Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang, which is the follow-up to his near-classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. 2. For whatever reason, Rae has gone under my radar of late, and I completely forgot about what should be one of the best releases of the new year. Earlier today, Funkmaster Flex premiered the title track off of the album and it is fire. This shit right here is tough as nails- exactly what you'd hope and expect from a member of the Wu.
Raekwon- "Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang" (props to illRoots.com for the DL link)
Here it is... the first single off of Jay-Z and Kanye's collaboration album, Watch The Throne. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed. Anytime you hear that the two of these guys are gonna team up, you expect some music that's gonna slap you across the face, but this is just 'eh.' And Lex Luger... people seriously need to get off this dude's jock, cause this is just getting outta hand. His beats are OK, but not hot enough where he should even be in consideration to be doin the first single for a project like this. Not hatin', just sayin'. Regardless, don't let my opinion stop you from checking this out, it's definitely worth a listen, just not quite as hot as I hoped it would be.
Monday, January 10, 2011
I've always listened to a wide range of music, but of late, I've probably listened to The Black Keys more than any other band, MC, rapper, or DJ. The Keys have been around for a while, but I first started listening to them due to their Blakroc project, as well as the songs they contributed to the soundtrack of Eastbound & Down. Their combination of Blues and Rock & Roll is something the music world has been missing lately. It's great to see them getting some mainstream press, most recently with their performance on Saturday Night Live. "Just Got To Be" is one of my favorite Keys songs, so give it a listen.
Dubstep has really blown up over in the U.K., and here in the U.S. its following is getting larger and larger. Skream, Benga, and Artwork have been at the forefront of this movement. I wrote about Benga a few weeks ago, and you can check that out right here. Together, the three Dubstep maestros have joined forces to create a super-group called Magnetic Man. Their debut album came out back in October, with a sound that is very different than their usual thick sub-basslines. By incorporating more elements of 2step and drum & bass into their music, they've almost created a new genre of music- or at least a subgenre of Dubstep. Below, I've posted the video for their second single, "Perfect Stranger," which has been in heavy rotation for the past couple weeks.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
As I said in the "most anticipated" list with regard to Game's career, he's had his ups and downs. However, one of those ups would have to be the single, "Dreams," off of his debut album, The Documentary. Kanye produced it, providing Game with one of his typical, soulful backdrops. The song is fire, and I still bump it quite often.
Since the previous Behind the Boards focused on Wu-Tang, I decided to continue the trend with my favorite MTV Cribs episode. Back around 2000, the Clan led viewers through their mansion in Los Angeles, and it was absolutely hilarious. You'll see just about everything- dice games on pool tables, push up contests, method man passed out on the couch, freestyles, and more. Enjoy.
Friday, January 07, 2011
Of all the producers I've written about for the "Behind the Boards" series, this one might have been the toughest. RZA, the abbot (leader) of the Wu-Tang Clan is without a doubt one of the best Hip Hop producers of all time, and has executive-produced some of greatest albums ever including (but not limited to), Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., Wu-Tang's Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, and GZA's Liquid Swords. RZA's sound is completely unique- he usually resorts to sampling, but unlike other sample-based producers, his style has a very "Eastern" sound to it. RZA, along with the rest of the clan, grew up watching Kung-Fu flicks such as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, and Shogun Assassin among others. He has since gone on to work in film- he put together the score for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1, and is directing his debut film called Man with the Iron Fist.
WARNING: THIS LIST IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART, ALL THE BEATS ARE HARD... IF YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF JUSTIN BIEBER/BABY KITTEN SOFT, I SUGGEST YOU READ ANOTHER POST
1) Raekwon- "Incarcerated Scarfaces"
Raekwon's 1995 album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., is one of the best Hip Hop albums of all time, and one of my top 10 favorite albums ever. RZA produced every song on the album, and each one positively contributes to the overall package. I can honestly say that there isn't a single song that I would consider to be "filler material," and I usually just let the album play out all the way through. "Incarcerated Scarfaces" is one of the hardest beats of ever, and the drums are just ferocious. I dare you to listen to this song and not mean mug... it's impossible.
2) Wu-Tang Clan- "Protect Ya Neck"
Considering this as one of the standout tracks on Enter the 36 Chambers just goes to show how good this song is. Every song on 36 Chambers is fantastic, if not legendary, and this one might be top three. Wu-Tang brings a raucous energy to this track, and it always gets the crowd hype.
3) GZA/Genius- "I Gotcha Back"
GZA's Liquid Swords, is another classic RZA-produced album. "I Gotcha Back" is filthier than Gary Glitter in Thailand- it's absolutely despicable to think any two people could make a track this hard.
"Kids are slingin' in the lobby, little Steve and Bobby, gettin' paid but it's a life-threatenin' hobby. Yeah, they still play hide and seek... the fiends seek for the crack, and they hide and let the cops peep."
4) Raekwon- "Ice Cream"
The third single off of Cuban Linx..., RZA laces the beat with a ghostly-sounding piano loop, and Ghostface and Method Man make contributions to top it off (pun intended). This is probably one of my top 3 songs off of Rae's album. Meth's hook is too dope, the way he relates women to different flavors of ice cream is hilarious- "one love to my chocolate deluxes, keep ya nails done... one love to my butter-pecan 'ricans for callin' me papi."
5) Wu-Tang Clan- "Gravel Pit"
The second single off of Wu-Tang's year 2000 album, The W, "Gravel Pit" is the kind of jam that makes everyone wanna go crazy in the club. As RZA says in the beginning of the track,"leave ya flowers at home, leave ya children at home." He gives you fair warning, because this song is definitely hype.
6) Method Man- "All I Need"
"All I Need" won Method Man and Mary J. Blige a grammy award for "Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group" in 1996. It is the perfect combination of Wu-Tang grime and mainstream appeal, which is most likely what led to its success.
7) Ol' Dirty Bastard- "Shimmy Shimmy Ya"
There will never be another Ol' Dirty Bastard. The man was 100% real... nothing about him was an act, everything you saw and heard from him was truly authentic. ODB had the most unique and identifiable personalities in Hip Hop until his death in 2004. "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" may seem like typical nonsensical rambling, coming from the king of nonsensical rambling, but the song is hot.
8) Raekwon- "Criminology"
"Criminology" is another all-time great Wu-Tang track. Ghostface's verse is considered by many to be one of the greatest Hip Hop verses ever, and the beat is infectious. This is definitely a standout on Cuban Linx..., which is impressive considering how many phenomenal tracks there are on that album.
9) Wu-Tang Clan- "C.R.E.A.M."
"Cash rules everything around me, CREAM, get the money... dolla dolla bill ya'llllll"
Everyone and their mother knows the hook from this song. You may even know it even if you've never heard the song before in your life. A certified Hip Hop classic right here. There's not much else to say, so enjoy...
10) Wu-Tang Clan- "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F' Wit"
If there was ever one song in the history of music that could literally start a riot, this is it... "If you want beef, then bring the ruckus... Wu-Tang Clan ain't nuthin' to fuck wit'." This song defines what the Clan is all about- gettin' rowdy, and destroying any competition that comes in their path.
Honorable Mention: Wu-Tang Clan- "Bring Da Ruckus," Wu-Tang Clan- "Triumph," Ghostface Killah- "Buck 50," Ghostface Killah- "All That I Got Is You," GZA/Genius- "Liquid Swords."
I'm gettin' stacks while you askin' people, do you want fries with that?
This quote is just one of the many ill lines that Big L blessed us with during his 24 years on Earth. It's unfortunate that so many talented musicians in the world of Hip Hop have passed on. Obviously everyone knows about Biggie and 2Pac, but let's not forget about Jam Master Jay, Big Pun, Ol Dirty Bastard, Proof, and J Dilla among many others. Big L was shot to death in own neighborhood, rumored to be the result of a longstanding drug feud between his brother and a rival gang member.
That said, L's life should be celebrated for the excellent music he made while he was alive. Lifestyles Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, and The Big Picture are both great albums and I urge you to give them a listen if you haven't already. Some other tracks to check out are his legendary "98 Freestyle," "Ebonics," and "Put It On." Below, I've posted the official video for "Holdin' It Down," but unfortunately it's censored, so to get the full effect I recommend you search for the dirty version.
The Game's career has been full of ups and downs. His debut album, The Documentary, was one of the best-produced Hip Hop albums I've ever heard. Yet, his previous albums have lacked the cohesion and focus needed to back his claim as one of the best MCs in Hip Hop. I guess the one thing that is most disappointing, is that there is no doubt that he has the talent to create a classic album.
That's where The R.E.D. Album comes into play. Rumored to be co-executive produced by Dr. Dre and Pharrell, hopefully they can help put the pieces of the puzzle together and create a truly special project. Expect production to come from the good doctor, The Neptunes, Cool & Dre, Timbaland, Bangladesh, Just Blaze, and Kanye among many others. So far, none of the tracks that have been released have caught on, forcing the album to be continually pushed back. Below, I've posted a link to what was the first street single, "Krazy," and the video for the Cool & Dre-produced "Shake." Both are pretty underwhelming, but give them a try.
Complex, which is by far one of my favorite publications, recently released a list of their top 25 most anticipated albums of 2011, which you can read right here.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Lupe Fiasco is without a doubt, one of the most gifted MCs in Hip Hop. However, like many MCs that favor substance over style, his latest album Lasers was shelved by Atlantic Records without a release date in sight. However, after over a year of push-backs, Atlantic has announced that Lasers will hit store shelves on March 8th. Lupe's word-play and storytelling is truly ahead of the pack, and it's great to see him get a chance to continue to show the world his immense talent. "Kick, Push," "Gold Watch," and "Streets On Fire" are always in rotation, and if you haven't listened to his first two albums, that should be on your to-do list. Three songs have been released to promote Lasers, including the Neptunes-produced "I'm Beamin'," "Shining Down," and his most recent single, "The Show Goes On." For now, enjoy the video for "Paris, Tokyo," off of his last album, The Cool.
Dr. Dre has released numerous classics throughout his career. Everyone knows his hit songs like "Still D.R.E.," "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang," "Dre Day," and "The Next Episode," but one of his greatest songs tends to get overlooked. "Lil Ghetto Boy," off of his first album, The Chronic, is one of my all-time favorites. The beat is absolutely incredible, and the story that's told about getting stuck in the hood is legendary.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Q-Tip, the frontman of "A Tribe Called Quest," is without a doubt a Hip Hop legend. With "Tribe," they managed to release three of the greatest albums of all time with People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Low End Theory, and Midnight Marauders. If you haven't heard these albums, you're missing out on some of the best music ever made. For example, Rolling Stone named Low End Theory as the #154 greatest album of all-time, on their "500 Greatest Albums of All Time List." As a solo artist, "Tip" has released three albums to acclaim and success. His 2008 album, The Renaissance was rated as one of the best of 2008, and received a grammy nomination for "Best Rap Album." However, my favorite Q-Tip song is his 1999 single, "Vivrant Thing," which was co-produced by J Dilla. It's extremely funky, and never gets old.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
It's been a long time coming for the upcoming release of Saigon's album, The Greatest Story Never Told. It has long been one of my most anticipated albums, right up there with Dr. Dre's Detox, and it's lookin' like it will drop in stores on February 15th. Hopefully they mean it this time, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that it won't get pushed back (again). You may remember Saigon from his cameo appearances in Entourage, when Turtle tries to manage his career. Sai is much more than a gimmick, or spin-off of a TV show... he's talented enough that Just Blaze signed him as the first artist to his record label, Fort Knocks. "Just" oversaw the album, and produced 9 of 16 songs. With additional production from Kanye West, Buckwild, and Red Spyda among others, and features from Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Q-Tip, Marsha Ambrosius, and Faith Evans, The Greatest Story Never Told is sure to be one of the best Hip Hop albums of 2011. Check out the link below for the title track off the album (which is fire), and the tracklist below...
Saigon- "The Greatest Story Never Told" (prod. by Just Blaze) [props to illRoots.com for the DL link]
1) Station Identification (Intro) feat. Fatman Scoop (prod. by Just Blaze)
2) The Invitation feat. Q-Tip & Fatman Scoop (prod. by Just Blaze)
3) C'mon Baby feat. Swizz Beatz & Jay-Z (prod. by Just Blaze)
4) War (prod. by Scram Jones)
5) Enemies (prod. by D. Allen)
6) Friends (prod. by Just Blaze)
7) The Greatest Story Never Told (prod. by Just Blaze)
8) Clap feat. Faith Evans (prod. by Just Blaze)
9) Preacher (prod. by Just Blaze)
10) It's Alright feat. Marsha Ambrosius (prod. by Kanye West)
11) Believe It (prod. by Just Blaze)
12) Give It To Me feat. Raheem DeVaughn (prod. by SC)
13) What The Lovers Do feat. Devin The Dude (prod. by Red Spyda)
14) Better Way feat. Layzie Bone (prod. by Just Blaze)
15) Oh Yeah (Our Babies) (prod. by Buckwild)
16) Bring Me Down (prod. by DJ Corbett)
I've always thought Slum Village was way too underrated. Their first album Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1, is an underground classic, and the follow up, Vol. 2, is excellent as well. J Dilla (who back in the day was known as Jay Dee) was long considered to be one of the best producers in the Hip Hop world before his untimely passing in 2006. Never to be outdone, T3 and Baatin always brought the rhymes to properly support Dilla's thick basslines and slightly off-kilter drums. If you're not familiar with them, I urge you to do a little research because you won't regret it. In the meantime, I wanted to leave everyone with one of my favorite SV jams from back of the day- "Raise It Up."
Monday, January 03, 2011
Shondrae "Bangladesh" Crawford has been tearing it up ever since he produced Lil Wayne's smash hit, "A Milli." He has since gone on to do records with Beyonce, Kesha, Gucci Mane, and he is currently working on Pusha T's new solo album. However, a lot of people don't know that he got his start as Ludacris' go-to producer for his first album, Back For the First Time. Most notably, he produced the now legendary single, "What's Your Fantasy," and the cult-favorite, "Ho." Most recently, he produced the lead single "6'7'" for Lil Wayne's upcoming album, Tha Carter IV, and it's a certified banger. While he was in the studio, he shot a video showing the making of Weezy's newest single. It's always cool to see the process of putting together a chart-topping song, so take a look...
Although it took a while to grow on me, Drake's album, Thank Me Later, has since become one of my favorite albums of 2010. One song in particular has struck me like no other, and that would be the album intro, "Fireworks." The lush piano chords, along with Alicia Keys' beautiful voice really helped set the mood for an absolutely beautiful song. A few months ago, a U.K.-based remixer named, Deadboy, created a House edit of "Fireworks" that really does the song justice. I've been bumpin it non-stop lately, and I urge everyone to give it a listen... you may find yourself doing the same.