Sunday, May 22, 2011

20 Facts, Beliefs, and Random Thoughts (May 21, 2011)

1.)    So, my good people, the Rapture did not happen. No, we are not dead. No, the Earth is not destroyed. No, God has not come back for his people. Plus, the way some of us act on a daily basis, I don’t think very many are going back. And yes, that includes luminaries like Kirk Franklin and Bishop Eddie Long.

2.)    Sir Michael Rocks has one of the most underrated mixtapes out there on the world wide web. He truly demonstrated his ability to rhyme over beats that aren’t made by Chuck Inglish. The other underrated mixtape? Pac Div’s Mania. I don’t care how many downloads they have. People aren’t talking about them enough.

3.)    Killer Mike (or Mike Bigga) has to be one of the most underrated artists in hip hop. His fan base is strong and his musical message is even stronger. People need to start recognizing that this man is going nowhere…as long as he doesn’t think about retiring. Meanwhile, buy Pl3dge.

4.)    If the Heat do make it to the Finals AND win the championship, it will be the first time a team would have one the NBA Finals without a worthwhile bench. I’m sorry people, but their bench production is unsavory. Check the history. All NBA championship teams had a formidable bench. Especially the Detroit Pistons of 1989 and 1990.

5.)    Arnold Swartzenegger, or whatever his last name is, had an affair with the hired help. Even produced a preteen child out of it all. Oh, and it’s a woman of color too. Hey, as they always say: once you go black, you never go back.

6.)    Speaking of being black, Satochi Kanazawa stirred up a lot of mess from his blog posted on CNN. It noted that “Black women are less physically attractive than other women”. This helps me realize one thing: if it sounds retarded, there is a chance that it is. And the people that were upset by it: what’s the purpose? People will be people, and people are generally stupid.

7.)    Elzhi released Elmatic. I thank God every day that Nas released Illmatic. Why? Well, for one it is the seminal piece of hip hop for NY from the 90’s. Another thing is that if there was no Illmatic, there would be no Elmatic. Plus, if Elzhi released Elmatic with no reference or inspiration, he would be declared hip hop royalty right now.

8.)    I’m not sure I like magazine reviews right now. Killer Mike’s Pl3dge got a three mics from the Source. Elzhi only got an XL from XXL magazine. Some of these reviews tend to low ball the artistic movement and compositions at times. This is part of the reason why I do music reviews to this day.

9.)    Macho Man Randy Savage died recently. People need to honor the legend that he was. Whether it was the wrestling, the voice, the charisma, or the Slim Jim commercials, people need to recognize his significance to sports and popular culture. Salute!

10.) I purchased a copy of Maybach Music’s Self Made Volume One. I have to admit two things about it: a.) The album is pretty damn banging. b.) Rick Ross has some of the most hilarious choruses out in hip hop. I see why people like him. His choruses are slick talk drenched in tomfoolery.

11.) Thinking about hip hop music, I am still trying to find out what happened to Scaramanga Shallah/Sir Menelik and Godfather Don. I swear to you, their days with Kool Keith/Rawkus/Hiphop underground will be some memorable stuff.

12.) The dopest R&B males out there right now: Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia Ultra and The Weeknd’s House of Balloons. No, it isn’t your common R&B music, either. Its real music. Irregular, profane, and always sexy for the ladies. Even when the chicks don’t get it, they love it.

13.) Curren$y is flooding the internets with music nowadays. With Covert Coup out already, Weekend @ Bernie’s coming and multitudes of over projects on the way, is there going to be anyone out there more prolific than Spitta this year?

14.) Felonious Munk is the future. If not, then at least he’s relevant and got something to say right now. You people need to listen to him.

15.) Bad Meets Evil is coming soon. That is, an ep with Eminem and Royce Da 5’9. Since it is an ep with those two rhyming, it is safe to say that they will be crucified if it is anything short of high quality music with no filler material. Their reputation precedes them. Anything short of “a great album” may be considered a flop.

16.) Nas is recording a new album. It has been hinted that he will be influenced by artists such as Odd Future, Lil Wayne, Drake and Frank Ocean as influences. Wait, I’m confused. Isn’t Nas a veteran in the game? You don’t need influences. You need to sit with one producer and bang out some heat. Find Premier, please.

17.) No Strings Attached is a hilarious movie. GREAT SCOTT!

18.) Cassidy needs to stop violating probation. While he is at it, can he come with some digestible and tangible music at the moment? Come on, Barry Reese!

19.) I wonder if Nelly is going to return to his hit making ways or will he become a ringtone artist. Then again, I’m not really sure I care since he is still a millionaire and I am not.

20.) Consequence is not with GOOD Music anymore. I am beginning to wonder whether or not his career will ever exceed the premise of “that cool dude that rhymes”. His situations have always become shaky after a while. Is it the company that he keeps or is it his overall aura hindering him?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reign of Independence Pt. 2: Mixtape Madness

Waka Flocka Flame was making some sense when people lambasted him a year or so ago.
Some may remember the comments. Others may have forgotten faster than Usain Bolt’s metabolism. Waka made a note of “lyrical rappers not making money” and “he didn’t care about putting an album out”. While there are plenty of examples of lyrical rappers being well off, he did make a point with having an album. “Oh, Let’s Do It” was a radio/club hit at the time. Plus, he was generating plenty of show revenue. Therfore, there was no real need for him to have an album.

Why? Well, Waka Flocka was pretty much a mixtape artist.
Oddly enough, mixtapes did not start off this way. Mixtapes were always a mixture of songs from different artists, hence the mix in mixtape. Also, they were perfect mediums to promote a DJs mixing and blending skills. If you weren’t a DJ, then a “pause mixtape” was made. Luminaries such as Kid Capri, Red Alert, Doo Wop, Tony Touch, DJ Spinbad, and DJ Screw were considered formidable in their own craft of blends, mixes, and flipping freestyles over instrumentals. Therefore, the mixtape was a promotional tool for both the DJ and any artists blessed to be included.
Oh, did I mention that mixtapes were sold for profit? Nowadays, that is a rarity (more on that later).
The mixtape medium has been very beneficial for artists and DJs alike. DJs are tastemakers in hip hop. So, people tend to gravitate to their artistic cosigns. Artists, however, benefit from the push and promotion of their music. It gives them an outlet to test their music amongst the masses. Thus, the mixtape is the beneficial factor of DJs and artists career wise.
Yet, mixtapes usually consisted of a mixture of artists. Still, two different factions helped propel the artist based mixtape: Dipset and 50 Cent (G-Unit).

Dipset, the Harlem crew led by Cam’Ron, hit the hip hop scene hard with their Diplomats Vol. 1 mixtape series in 2001. With seminal hits such as “Oh Boy”, “Ambitionz of a Killa” featuring Daz, and countless freestyles, Dipset celebrated plenty. They celebrated Cam’Ron’s revitalized career. Also, there was the Dipset signing to Roca Fella Records. This eventually led to much hulabaloo in hip hop (fashion trends, executive positions, off shoot crews, unnecessary beefs, etc.). In the end, the Dipset reign all started from a mixtape.

Meanwhile, 50 Cent took the mixtape world by storm. Starting off with the DJ Whoo Kid assisted 50 Cent is the Future, the ironically entitled mixtape blazed unseen trails for him and G-Unit. 50 Cent went from blackballed undesirable with bullet wounds to commandeering hip hop manipulator. After that, it was all uphill. Subsequently, he signed to Shady/Aftermath, destroys Ja Rule’s career, sells insane amounts of Get Rich and Die Trying, runs G-Unit Records, starts a clothing line, gets his own Reebok gym shoe, invests in Vitamin Water, buys Mike Tyson’s mansion, and does other business related things.
Plus, he was involved with Vivica Fox, the cougar supreme.
Many other artists followed suit with their own mixtape madness. The caustic thing about this change in music is that a number of the more successful artists come from the south with an association to DJ Drama.

T.I., right after his fruitless stint with La Face Records, restarted his career with In Da Streets series with his crew (P$C). DJ Drama eventually became a signee to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label. Young Jeezy, fresh off his underground album Come Shop With Me, stepped up to the plate. He hit a homerun with the release of the DJ Drama assisted Trap or Die, bringing in rave reviews and hood love. Lil Wayne, working hard to progress from his “wobbly, wobbly” days, released his Dedication series with DJ Drama. With a combination of street sense, focus, and crafty lyrics, these emcees pushed the mixtape game towards a new plateau.
That new plateau is something that was not expected: the free mixtape used to rival the bar coded album.
Once again, DJ Drama is partially responsible for the free mixtape movement. In 2007, in a brash attempt to cut down on piracy, the FBI cracked down on the mixtape trade. DJ Drama was considered a main culprit. He got arrested on charges of a felony violation of the Georgia RICO laws [1]. It put him in a peculiar situation. Yet, he still recovered with his same drive and sensibilities.
With all pun intended, he even put out a song called “Feds Taking Pictures”.  
This new mixtape format has only helped the artist. If an artist REALLY wants to test the market, they can release a mixtape. Sometimes, they are pushed by a DJ. Other times, they are not. Regardless, an artist can easily make a living through shows and merchandising off of a free composition of music.
Many may not like the route that mixtapes are going. However, artists and fans alike have to recognize the significance of this musical movement. Drake and Wiz Khalifa serve as perfect examples of the proliferation of artistic power through mixtapes.

Drake’s rise was meteoric in measure to other artists. The Canadian DeGrassi alum flexed both rhyming muscle and singing/song writing ability on So Far Gone. It had him flipping between hood observer, to pop artist, to even late night crooner to loose and drunken strippers. From that point, he had a smash single “Best I Ever Had”, more songs, more mixtapes, shows, features, and a seminal platinum album Thank Me Later.
By the way, So Far Gone was slimmed down and re-released as an EP. It went gold, selling in excess of 500,000 or more copies. If that isn’t the proof of artistic power, I don’t know what is.

Wiz Khalifa’s story has a different approach. Signed to Warner, he only released “Say Yeah”. It was a more pop friendly single. Working his way out of the deal, he went dolo with his Rostrum team. After releasing Deal or No Deal, he pressed hard to create a buzz for Kush & OJ. A creative juxtaposition of cannabis flavored rhymes over imaginatively sampled production, Kush & OJ propelled Wiz to the stratosphere. From there, his rep only grew into a successful Waken Baken Tour, a new Atlantic contract, a multiplatinum single “Black and Yellow”, a million and two cosigns, and the release of Rolling Papers.
R&B artists are recognizing the mixtape movement and following suit. Trey Songz has released numerous mixtapes to promote his brand of R&B. He has even used the moniker of “Prince of Virginia”. Raheem DeVaughn has also hit the mixtape scene with furor. He has released many mixtapes, such as Heemy Taught Me, Jackin’ For Beats, and Mr. February a.k.a. March Madness. Chris Brown’s present album Fame would not be where it is if it wasn’t for the hits “No Bullsh*t” and “Deuces”, which came from his In My Zone mixtape. Influentially, even R&B artists are using the mixtape to give their careers a boost.
The mixtape game is here to stay. Whether it remains to be a free piece of music or a composition readily built for monetary consumption. However, hip hop uses the mixtape format far too much to promote artists to generate a buzz and appease the fans. There may be some naysayers to the fact that artists put out free music. Yet, the artists are consistently reaping the benefits. Also, the fans aren’t complaining. It looks to me that the mixtape game is a win/win for all involved.
‘Nuff said and ‘Nuff respect!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reign of Independence Pt. 2: My Low Budget Album is Better Than Your Big Budget Album

The year 2011 is starting off strong with its quality of hip hop albums. Saigon finally releases his Just Blaze produced, multi-year old album The Greatest Story Never Told. Raekwon unleashed Shaolin vs. WuTang, a long player that harkens on the sound of the Rza circa 1993. Pharaohe Monch gets the assist from Duck Down on W.A.R. (We Are Renegades). In addition, Cunnilynguists released Oneriology to the adoration of their worldwide fan base. It is only April. Yet, there are at least four albums demanding respect and critical acclaim.
The ironic thing is this: they are all independent albums.

Saigons’s album was released on Suburban Noize, known for its “greener artists”. Raekwon, with EMI distribution, was released on his own ICEH2O label. As mentioned before, Dru Ha and Buckshot put out W.A.R. Oneriology was released through QN5. Four great albums released to rave reviews under minimal budgets.
So, one may wonder about the major releases that has been anticipated this year. Well, we can look at two of those albums right now: Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers and Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers.
Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers has been talked about enough by me. No more words need to be given for my dislike of it. Rolling Papers, however, is a different story. Wiz’s lyrics remain intact and the album is good. Yet, there are still some glaring differences between this album and his highly heralded Kush & OJ. The production on Rolling Papers is more “industry friendly” and less organic/experimental. Some of the songs are especially made for mainstream appeal. In the end, it can be said that some of the major label albums sound really “commercialized”.
Honestly, any hip hop listener shouldn’t be surprised by what they have witnessed.
Independent albums have the benefit of allowing artists to do what they do best: be them. In many cases, independents want to capitalize on the artist. They want the artist to make their music the way they make it. Independent sign artists to be themselves, not a concoction of a musician predisposed for super download sales and background IKEA soundtracks. In reality, it makes more sense to expand on what exists and not change the musician or the music.
The habit of independents making excellent music is nothing new. In the south, Rap A Lot was a long standing representation of great music. 2 Live Crew was independent also. Even in the west coast, many artists (Too Short, E-40, Mac Dre, the vast majority of the Bay Area, etc.) came up independently. Respectively, the independent route was the way non-New Yorkers made a living and succeeded.
Yet, just because New York and LA has major label offices does not mean that they never fostered their own independent movements.
The most notable independent movement for non-commercialized hip hop music showed up  full force during the late 90’s. Three labels come to mind: Rawkus, Fondle ‘Em, and Stonesthrow.

Rawkus was the most visible and successful commercially. Fondle ‘Em served as a boutique label for Bobbito Garcia. He liked certain unsigned artists and released their music. The same can be said for
Peanut Butter Wolf’s Stonesthrow. Although not a boutique label, Stonesthrow was a full independent force. The label would release seminal music from old funk artists, forgotten about songs, crate dug treasures, and hip hop artists that made music that they liked. With fervent focus, the late 90’s built a movement of music based on making music without caring what people thought.
The only label that tried to be commercial was Rawkus, which brought about its eventual demise. Then again, I knew things were going downhill when EL-P preferred sleeping sodomy to working with the label again.
So, why is being independent so much of a choice for today’s artists?
For one, it tends to not be a choice at all. In today’s musical climate, A&R (artist and repertoire) work is limited. As well, most labels sign artists that create their own buzz and music movements. Many major labels, due to decreases in profits, do not give the same advance money they gave in the past. Thus, artists today have to work for themselves or build teams around them. This tends to force artists to be more knowledgeable of the footwork needed for their own careers. In turn, present label practices make artists fend for their own success.
The second reason is the need for some experienced artists to thrive. There are musicians that are seasoned vets in need of career sustenance. They may have fallen out of favor with labels. However, they still have fans and still demand tour money. So, they can either let their careers die or keep working. Like any enterprising person, they choose to keep working.   
A third reason depends upon the dwindling sales of artists. Albums are not selling CD’s like they used to. Having an album that very few people may even buy is not cost effective on a major label. Independent situations usually bring better per unit money for artists. With that said, why go to a major label when your chances recouping your money are getting slimmer?
The last reason deals with technological advances of the medium. Technology has been the gift and curse of the industry. It has given fans faster/easier access to music. Yet, it is a significant part of the reason that sales are dwindling. File sharing allows fans to get music at the ease of a stroke across the keyboard. What many artists have done is kept releasing free music and mixtapes to gear them for an impending album release or just to build a following for successful touring and merchandise sales. Also, many artists don’t need major channels to get their music on internet sales sites. An artist can as easily contact I-Tunes or have a CD Baby account and be on all the respected digital download sites. In the end, technology has opened artists to the opportunity of truly controlling their sales careers.
If this has been a lot for you to read, consider this equation:
Past independent examples + need to survive + technological advances= more independent functioning.
Major money and major music are not synonymous anymore. Artists are finding themselves creating music with half the monetary hassle. They can also make their kind of music and master their own fates. The state of the music industry has only made independence more feasible. Thus, it remains to be seen how major labels will function in the future, if they exist as they once have.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Weeknd....High For Becky Vision.

The Weeknd's mixtape, House of Balloons, is a nice synthesized adventure into avante guard R&B.

As usual, he keeps it atypical with the visuals for this song......

Because I can't load the video on my blog.....

Smoke here!

And that is all I have to say for this banger. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gucci Mane arrested...again.

DECATUR, Ga. - DeKalb County Police say Radric Davis, also known as Gucci Mane, was arrested by the DeKalb County Fugitive Squad Friday.
Davis was arrested while visiting his probation officer at the Georgia Department of Corrections Probation Office on Sylvan Road in Atlanta, say authorities.
Davis is charged with battery, a misdemeanor but as a result of the arrest will be also charged with violating his probation. Davis is on probation for previous unrelated charges.

See what he did this time.

Smoke DZA Talks T.H.C. & Ralph Lauren Video

Man, where is that THC album coming out, fam? For real, though? The fans are clamoring for more of that Dza goodness, man. You gotta keep it going, right? Rrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiight!


Once again, Gangsta Gibbs has done it again. Video is pretty dope...and bleek at the same time. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wale & Black Cobain - 4 A.M.

Ralph Folarin goes in as usual. It is sad that it takes Waka Flocka and Ricky Rozay for this man to get his deserved props. 

Emilio Sparks ft Smoke DZA & Den 10- “CloudKickin”

Okay, so Smoke Dza...where's the mixtape at, homie?

I been waiting on that THC for a while, dog. Just keeping it real.

Ray-Ban Vision remix- A Trak

Which features Donnis, Pill, Danny Brown, Cyhi Da Prince, and.....ya momma!

Click here for a listen!

Shouts to Rap Radar!

Adult Swim x Black Dynamite

The prolific blaxploitation spoof that sent waves through the underground is coming to Adult Swim..

as a cartoon!

You already know somebody is gonna love this. Me? I'm the automatic draw in this equation.

Details coming when I get more info!

Angel's Prayer- Lil B

Straight off the mixtape, Illusions of Grandeur, come this freestyle.

Anybody else notices that his pronunciation of "grandeur" sounds like "grain-jer"?

Gotta love this guy, even when you wanna hate him. Suckas.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reign of Independence Pt. 1- Lupe's Fiasco

In my ominous, humbled opinion, Lasers sucks.

The most disgraceful thing about it all is that it has less to do with Lupe and more to do with Atlantic.

Lasers was supposed to be Lupe’s crowning moment. After releasing seminal hits with his first two long players, fans were clamoring for the third to be a masterpiece. Between his mixtape full of other artists’ tracks ripped to shreds (Enemy of the State) and a Soulja Boy response single (SLR), greatness was expected. Additionally, he was selling a single on I-Tunes. That single (The Show Goes On) eventually went gold. Thus, it was expected that Lupe would do what he is known for: complexity laced beautiful music.

Did he do that? No.

In fact, he went the route of irony. His album cut-turned-video “Dumb It Down” was his declaration of artistic independence. If Atlantic was the British, Lupe would be considered a leader in the Boston Tea Party. Rarely has a hip hop artist, on a major label, noted that they would do it their way. This type of action only came from your Jay-Z’s, Tech-9’s, and (hilariously) RA Da Rugged Man’s. With that song, Lupe had more juice than Bishop.

And just like the end of the movie, Lupe’s artistic momentum fell a ledge.

Why the big change up? Atlantic wanted to fix something that was not broke.

Artistically, Atlantic was not being intelligent. Lupe has a solid fan base of at least 300,000-500,000 guaranteed fans willing to buy his album. He can create a gold single. He can collaborate with almost any artist he feels the need to. He can even snag endorsements and get worldwide recognition. In the end, Lupe is productive enough to be the artist he chooses to be.

Which begs the question: what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened: Atlantic got greedy.

Due to the envisioning of dollar signs, Atlantic wanted more. They wanted more albums sold. They wanted more digital downloads. They wanted more radio spins. They wanted that Black Eye Peas money. However, they didn’t read the present memo: most hip hop heads don’t really care for the Black Eye Peas. Commercial music lovers clamor for them. Hip hop heads are still looking for the group that made “Falling Up”.

If anyone was observant, the warning signs were apparent quite early. Two artists serve as perfect examples of Atlantic messing up a good thing: Saigon and Apathy.

Saigon’s Atlantic relationship can be seen as rocky at best. Although he was signed under the Fort Knox imprint (Just Blaze), he still ran into drama with the label. Being shelved, he ended up in precarious artistic situations (beef with Joe Budden, beef with Prodigy, putting out subpar material, and losing momentum). Eventually released, Saigon found a label home with Suburban Noize Records. Repackaging the album, he put it out amongst a skeptical public.

After purchasing/hearing the album, it became perfectly clear that Atlantic was NOT the label for Saigon. With all intents and purposes, Saigon probably has one of the best (if not the best, depending upon public opinion) albums to come out. And this is material that is 3-5 minimum years old.

Apathy, on the other hand, has a whole different story. Signed directly to the label, Apathy never released anything for them. Ultimately, he got fed up and left. Afterwards, he has released a slew of material and is gearing up to put out Honkey Kong. Nifty title, if I say so myself.

The Apathy story is far from over.

In an interview with posted in December of 2010, he noted that Lupe needed to “jump ship” and “go cake off your own s**t independently. Or go with somebody who completely gets Lupe Fiasco like Kanye West’s label or some s**t like that.”

The problem with major labels is that their business model is dysfunctional. Before, labels made money off of album and single sales. However, sales have decreased over the years. To make up for lost profit, labels now have 360 deals. That way, if you are a newer artist, they make money on everything you stamp your name on. This includes concert sales and merchandising.

Industry wide, veteran artists cannot fathom signing such a deal. This deal is especially ludicrous when major labels do LESS to promote and market their artists.

Another problem with major labels is that they did not take advantage of the digital download movement. When file sharing became popular, many execs either ignored it or chose to fight against it. Napster, a downloading forum, went through litigation hell (shout out to Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning). Even people were sued for file sharing. All of this hard work was all for naught. Physical sales have diminished percentage wise year by year. In fact, hard copy album sales peaked at 785.1 million units in 2000. In 2010, there were 236.2 million units sold. Yet, I-Tunes sales have increased year by year.

Oh, and did I mention that labels are losing like Charlie Sheen in the negative zone?

Then, there is the issue of free music. Many hip hop artists are technologically savvy. Some are opting to go the mixtape route to be heard. Others give out free music through free EPs (free(ep)s). This can be troubling for labels because they don’t make any real money. Also, too many mixtapes tend to be more musically sound than their album counterparts. In addition, there are artists that could care less about selling an album. Those artists have concert shows, endorsements, and merchandise to sell. Last, there are no labels for some of those artists to share in something they did not help acquire.

Lupe is going to be okay. His album is moving units. He will do shows and generate income. He will have side businesses to make money. Yet, his Atlantic contract is a hindrance. They either need to respect his artistry or set him free. He has too much of a fan base to deal with such. Lupe needs to leverage himself into a better situation.

‘Nuff respect and ‘Nuff said.

The Lebrons

New animated short show starring The Lebrons.

Can you smell....the capitalism all over it? Just pay attention.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April just might be Rapsody Month.....

For the continuation of this dope emcee's reign on Twitter (she has been very popular as of late), here is her new song with Mac Miller and Halo.

Once again, she is presently one of the most refreshing in the game. Period. Only problem is that we gotta wait two whole months to get this beautiful music.

Download here!

Music Reviews for April (part 1)

Its the month of April. Instead of waiting on my homegirl Bda StarChild to publish my work in her magazine, I took the time to put it out there for the masses. These may, or may not, appear in her magazine. Either or, it is all good people. Peep it all out. There is more to come for the month.

Pac Div- Mania!

It is Pac Div time! Looking at the cover for Mania!, I thought that this album would be full of foolishness and debauchery. Pac Div is a part of that “new crew” of young artists from California that do things their way. Well, their way of doing things include making beautiful music. “The Mirror” starts off with a lush piano drop that goes directly into violins, drums, and positive uplifting rhymes. Just when I thought it would be one of those “positive” albums, it throws me for a loop. “Super Negroes” is a cross between modern day braggadocio and old school Rob Base/DJ EZ Rock madness. To classify Pac Div as a group is to understand this: they just want to make good music on their own terms. “Anti-Freeze” sounds like a track that would pound sub woofers in any Atlanta club on a hot Saturday night. “Take Me High” is that punk smooth stuff that Redman was told not to make on “Tonight’s the Night”, except it really is full of fun and debauchery. “Show You” slides in with the R&B chorus over Cali funk, while “Fallin’” gives another reference to chick chasing and dating. “Yet, they still make songs like “Nobody’s Perfect”, which delves into the imperfections of just being human living day to day. To even add to the positive vibes, they have “Saved” and “Somethin’”. By the time “Outro” plays over the speakers, there is an understanding that Pac Div doesn’t want to be pigeon holed. They just make music that people should enjoy. Chalk them up as another every man group that considers all facets of life.

Blood Type- 2 Weeks Notice

Chief and Stepson did something even the Dungeon Family hadn’t done in years. After that, the group free falls into audio bliss. “Lemons” uses a sped up sample for them to reflect on how they “make lemons out of lemonade”. “Sallie Mae” is that ode to owing money on student loans, paying bills, and not even making even with a college degree. More so, it is a song about doing what one should want to do instead of pleasing others. Stepson goes in about marriage and how it manages to not be what it is cracked up to be. He even questions whether the person “jumped the broom or the gun”. Interesting enough, XV (the rapper from Kansas City) produced three tracks. Even more interesting is that those tracks (“I Have Dreams”, “Yung World”, and “I’m Free”) and are bangers. “I Have Dreams” reflects about, you guessed it, hopes and dreams. Even Big K.R.I.T. goes in on the song, referring to how he’s working while the roosters are crowing. “Yung World” is about relationships and how they work/don’t work. “I’m Free” is a song that deals with truth, prejudice, homosexuality, religious stereotyping and hypocrisy. The only issue is that the feature artists (Big K.R.I.T., Smoke Dza, Kendrick Lamar, and Ghost Wridah) give them a run for their money on the mic device. A minor hiccup notwithstanding, 2 Weeks Notice is a perfect piece for those that reflect about life, reality, and the struggle over smooth musical compositions.

Lil B- Illusions of Grandeur

I’m not sure what I should make of this. This is the same Lil B that noted “bitches on his dick cause he looks like Matlock”. However, this is the same artist that just recorded “Base For Your Face”. All I know that with this mixtape, he proves that he can rhyme if he feels like it. “Angels Prayer” allows Lil B to reflect on hatred, jealousy, and his repressed volatile tendencies over Kanye’s instrumental for “Devil in a Blue Dress”. “Baby Baby” is a straight up throwback to 1994 with its hip hop feel. He could probably fall into place with an album of beats from this area. “Cocaine Killer” is a song that lets him be the author of a man that sells drugs and gets high off of his own supply. “Hood Changed” lets him go in on hood life and how it isn’t all good. Lil B says a lot of worthwhile things. However, some may be taken back by his freestyle type of flow. At times he rhymes, other times he isn’t. Someone like me can get into it and respect it. Others may not. What can be said is that he is actually saying something within his raps and that the production is damn good. “How I Feel” is a perfect example of what Lil B can actually prove himself to be: a rapper with much clarity and conscience. “Illusions of Grandeur” and its accompanying remix show the depth that he can bring himself into. He tells the story of robbery, gun toting males being products of their environments and the conclusive actions of bad choices. In the end, this mixtape shows that Lil B is more misunderstood than anything. He likes to have a lot of fun and people see that more than anything. However, when he’s serious, he can be as motivating as your “conscious rapper”.

King Mez x Khrysis- The King’s Khrysis

Alright, so King Mez links up with the Jamla/IWWMG beatsmith Khrysis. Noticing that this is a free EP release, I might as well go over each song. “Reaching Out (Intro)” samples an ill song reminiscent to some psychedelic majestic music from the past. King Mez wastes very few words over Khrysis’s heavy sampled auditory treats. “Nightmare” has him letting loose over more regal type of production. King Mez keeps it lyrical and fluid with lines like “I’m discouraging emcees, that’s another dream dead/Jordan #4’s in the color scheme bred/denim hella stiff with a cuff for each leg/when I’m chillin’, politickin’ on all this bloodshed”. “Shine” is another bangin’ boom bap track enhanced by King Mez’s tough to beat lyrics. King Mez knows he gotta shine, knowing that it’s the only thing on his mind and it’s not part time: it is every moment. “From the South” is that song equivocal to the neighborhood anthem (Raleigh/Durham), featuring Thee Tom Hardy. Actually, it is a very banging track with the scratched chorus to let the listener know where they represent. “Something Missing” lets King Mez let loose about what’s missing from the game: timelessness, relevance, and originality. Ending off this free EP is “King’s Khrysis”, a track filled with warped sounds and old school R&B styling reminiscent to a funk/soul soundtrack. Phonte gets into the madness with lyrics like “as for your opinion/we all got a strong one/I been living with them ever since I made song 1/Back in 99, but for praise I do not live/spit it like Yoda/a fuck I do not give….”. King Mez demonstrated that he can flow with the best of them. Also, he has an ear for production. Let us see if he makes good use of this catalog piece within his grasp.

Childish Gambino- EP

Donald Glover can rap? Okay, for those that don’t know who Donald Glover is, please pay attention. Donald Glover is a comedian known for his comedic acting role in Community, the NBC sitcom. Also, he’s a writer for 30 Rock, also on NBC. But, he still moonlights as a rapper? I didn’t know how to even feel about this one at first. Yet, when I listened to the EP, I was pretty much blown away. Here are three reasons why: 1.) He can rhyme. 2.) He got a confident flow. 3.) He isn’t trying to be something he is not. However, he only has five songs to prove his point. Does he succeed? Yes, he does. “Be Alone” is that emo jam that only Drake could pull off, except Childish Gambino did it better. Referencing his lonliness in an industry and world that actually confuses him and his intentions, he goes in with the lyrics and even the chorus. “Freeks and Geeks” starts off with “Gambino is a mastermind/fuck your bitch to pass the time/mass appeal (a peal), orange rind/smoke your green up, spending mine/the beat is witch’s brew/but beware the shit is potent/ coming on her face, now that’s poetry in motion…” over production that would easily rival many a commercial artist. “My Shine” is another braggadocio lyrical tirade that allows him to be “hard in the paint like I fuck her on her period”. He goes in about people not respecting his skill, not making the XXL Freshman list, and other naysayers that haven’t realized he been rhyming since “Lance was on chemo”. “Lights Turned On” is a song in reference to all the women that actually aren’t good for him. He is pretty harsh towards the females he refers to. Nevertheless, they seem to deserve the negative attention because they are only concerned with “fucking a Gap ad” and “being number 1 in the Pack; Based God”. Last, and definitely not least, is “Not Going Back”. This particular track allows him to reflect on the hatred, or lack of love, he gets. Childish Gambino is actually a pretty damn talented emcee that is tired of people calling him names, not taking him seriously, and making it seem as if he is soft. Funny part is, he is better than the people that probably don’t like him.