Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
See what he did this time.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Okay, so Smoke Dza...where's the mixtape at, homie?
I been waiting on that THC for a while, dog. Just keeping it real.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
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 hiphoopdx.com 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.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
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.
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.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Excerpt from the article:
According to sources close to The Post, Rifkind—known for signing Wu-Tang Clan, Big Pun and Akon, among others—is close to making a formal offer. But in order for him to meet with the young up-and-comers, crew leader Tyler, the Creator demanded: “If you are serious about the meeting, I want Randy’s Donuts, swivel chairs and a megaphone.”
Hahahahahahahaha! Now THAT is how you negotiate, people!
Read the rest here!
New Videos for Old Songs:
What is the Point, Really?
Well, I’ll be John Brown! Nice and Smooth got a new video out. I am so amped to listen to what fresh new music this old group has in store. Maybe it will mainly be a Greg Nice joint with Smooth B looking cool in the video. Or maybe it will have some old school flavor. Whatever the case may be, I know that it will be ill to see overly grown men show these youngsters how to make real music.
And then I saw the video.
Do not get me wrong, the video was dope. It contained images of regular everyday happenings with street scenes. Not all those shiny suits, jiggly women, expensive cars, and precipitating of dollars from the sky. Instead, we get a throwback jam with new school scenery. Then, like a Tyson punch upside Lil Mac’s head, it hit me: this song is old.
I mean really, really old. Like over twenty years old.
This song is off of the old album with “Funky for You”, which was by far one of my favorite Nice and Smooth songs. Actually the album is self-titled Nice and Smooth. Greg Nice and Smooth B was signed to Sleeping Bag Records, a New York based independent that also housed acts just as Just Ice, EPMD (pre Def Jam), and Mantronix. This was before they moved onto RAL (Rush Associated Labels) and started to become better known hip hop stalwarts with gold sales and movie features. This is a song from the album that practically started their careers. In turn, they made a video for a song from the beginning of their careers.
All of this would be uncanny if they were the only artists partaking in this “old to the new” visual recapturing of the past. Luckily, they are not.
There are more artists taking part in bringing the “old to the new”. RA the Rugged Man created visuals for “A Star is Born”, a song that details his ascension and dissension within the ranks of hip hop lore and major label bliss. Saigon made a video for “Color Purple”, a diatribe that goes against the insanity of gang affiliation and color coordinated thug life. Prince Po made a video for “Right to Know” which questions life, existence, and humanity. Boot Camp Click released the posse cut of sorts “Hate All You Want”, giving people a taste of what was really hot off of their past album together. Queensbridge gives double the love from Cormega on “Rapture” and Prodigy on “Genesis”. Therefore, these new videos for old songs are not a new concept.
Yet, many would question is this something that should be happening? I say “Of course, you idiots!”
First of all, this is a sheer way to decrease and obliterate the “disposable notion” of hip hop music. Too many times, there are instances in which people will reminisce about old artists of the past. Too many times people will question “Remember when this song came on?” Too many times there are situations in which artists are forgotten because we, as hip hop culture enthusiasts, do not make a connection between the past and the present. Too many times, older artists complain about how the newer generation knows nothing, or even cares, about the past. Yet, we all recognize that this aberration of a musical situation has to end. What better way to do this than the reintroduction of music through videos?
This new trend (if it can be called that) is a win-win for three main figures in hip hop: the artists, the fans, and the video producers.
The artists win because it gives their music a breath of new life. So many different songs and hits go undiscovered because people either forgot about them or did not pay attention. However, within today’s computerized, instant-oatmeal news on the hour society, one can find what they want and need at the click of a button. Many artists deserve recognition. They deserve recognition for their music, their work ethic, and their brilliance. Putting out videos for old songs helps them reconnect to a younger audience, helps the older/truer fans revitalize their feelings of nostalgia, and maybe even push up their album/single sales (if/when/how their old music is available). In this digital age, it only makes sense for an older artist to promote older and overlooked music.
Also, the fans get to win out for themselves. The fans win out because they actually get to experience musical situations that their parents/siblings/grandparents (yeah, I know) experienced or what they might have missed out on. As mentioned before, many older artists feel that the younger generation overlook the importance of the old school. However, that is partially due to lack of a connection to the past. Too many times, there are situations where knowledge is not passed down. Many younger listeners don’t understand where samples come from, lyrics are borrowed from, or what influenced this present day of music. Older music can serve as self-serving history lessons that educate. The younger generation can be educated on how music was. Also, they can become educated on how music truly is. Last, they can become educated on how this music can even evolve. In short, fans win out by gaining knowledge of their own ever changing culture.
Video producers can capitalize off of the fact that they are going to get plenty of work. In the past, music videos were quite expensive. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, hip hop videos became quite the expensive affair for some artists, even commanding upward to the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to make. Nowadays, videos are not even close to being as expensive. Quality cameras don’t cost that much. Also, editing software is either inexpensive or people find pirated copies of it. So, many people are either finding cheaper ways to make quality videos or they are doing it themselves. Since it is easier/less time consuming to make a video, more auditory visuals are being made. With this influx of videos being made will only increase the income of those video producers that make quality product with very little turnaround time.
Watching this Nice and Smooth video, I realize that they took a necessary step to solidify their musical reputations. The group did something that all artists (new and especially old) need to do. Nice and Smooth helped pave a way of making the past relevant again. Personally, I think that more artists need to follow suit. They should promote their old music that they know is of august quality, yet still unheard and underrated. Keep the present aware of the past so that the new generation can understand their present and make better decisions for the future. Each one, reach one, teach one.
‘Nuff respect and ‘Nuff said.