"ScHoolboy Q is a known factor by now but on the off chance you've somehow never heard of him before he's a quick primer. Q was born on a military base in Germany, and since his parents divorced before he was even born, his mom named him Quincy Matthew Hanley and allegedly gave him a brand new last name at random. Even though he's been a California kid for as long as he can probably remember, Q spent a couple of years of his young life in Texas after mom returned from Europe. Eventually he settled on 51st street in L.A. and once he was old enough to roll with the O.G.'s in his neighborhood he was a 52 Hoover. Years of small time petty crimes and run-ins with the law were to follow even as he "stayed legit" to a degree by finishing Crenshaw High and going to community college afterward. Thankfully Q's talents as a lyricist and performer, first discovered when he was 16 years old, would eventually lead him away from a life of struggle to a life of musical hustle once he linked up with Top Dawg Entertainment. Sure he's had the same share of petty charges any popular rapper seems to get (marijuana posession and the like) but he spends most of his time recording, touring and stacking chips these days. Having a daughter in 2010 was also undoubtedly a good influence on him and you can see and hear her on Q's "Oxymoron" album. As his popularity has continued to incease thanks to hits like "Hands on the Wheel," "Man of the Year" and "Break the Bank" he's also made bigger connects in the industry outside the Top Dawg family, as witnessed by Kanye West on "THat Part" from his latest "Blank Face LP."
Depending on the day or time you could call Jon Bellion a singer or a rapper, but TBH in 2016 I've gotten used to a large part of the genre being interchangeable anyway. It seems to me in the 1980's and early 90's there was a definite anti-R&B sentiment in hip-hop ("Rhythm & Bulls@$t") but that seems to have all but vanished. I think if push comes to shove when I look at the career track of Jon Bellion, he started out as more of a rapper in his mixtape days, but on songs like "New York Soul (Pt. II)" that old hip-hop swagger comes back through loud and clear. The largely self-produced Bellion has hidden depths within his upbeat swing. "Guillotine" with Travis Mendes is a pop single, no question about it, but the name hints at the sharper edge. "There's bones in my closet, but you hang stuff anyway." Ouch. It's the kind of song you can dance your cares away to without really having to think about the message, but it makes me smirk to listen to songs like this from Bellion. He's crafty, he's sneaky, he's just a little bit subversive. Guest appearances are pretty minimal on "The Human Condition." In fact the only one I can think of other than Mendes is the Blaque Keyz on "Weight of the World." I don't think I'd want one on tracks like "Maybe IDK" though. It's a soul-searching journey for one, where Bellion is questioning his own behavior past and present, trying to evaluate whether or not he's on the right path in his life. The funny thing is he CAN'T decide or figure it out and ultimately concludes "maybe that's okay."
"By now you know the deal with drill. It's the signature hip-hop sound of Chi-Town for the 2010's, with prophets like Chief Keef, G Herbo (Lil Herb) and Fredo Santana leading the way into the darkness. The music is much like the hardest enclaves of Chicago - unrelenting in their bleakness and nihilistic outlook. You can hear all of this encapsulated in the title track of Lil Durk's "Lil Durk 2X," produced by Cassius Jay and Zaytoven. The AutoTuned sung vocals and crisp background drums might briefly fool you into thinking it's an upbeat song, but when you pay attention to the words it's clear Durk came up in a war zone and war is all that he knows. Even though drill has developed into a regionally specific style and sound, it's not hard to hear the influence of Southern trappers like Gucci Mane on the scene, and collaborations like Future appearing on "Hated on Me" are both natural and expected. In fact there are virtually no surprises in terms of cameos on "Lil Durk 2X." He doesn't hit us with anything out of left field like a song with ScHoolboy Q orKiller Mike, but his fans aren't asking for that anyway. What you have to respect about drill rap, even if you're not a fan of it personally, is that the rappers in the scene are relentlessly producing exactly what those who love the music and live in the same neighborhoods as its biggest stars want to hear -- and "My Beyonce" with Dej Loaf is exactly what they're asking for. C-Sick's track and Durk's duet might be the 2016 equivalent of Ice Cube & Yo-Yo's "Bonnie and Clyde Theme." It also might be the furthest outside of traditional drill that the album reaches and not just geographically (Dej hails from Detroit) in that it advocates a romance worth living for instead of a life where there seems to be little hope on the horizon. "
"Joseph Rose (a/k/a Joe Ro) is a Battle Axe Warrior affiliated emcee who appeared on Madchild's "The Little Things" among other tracks. On "Become What You Are," the opening track of Joseph Rose's "True Colors," sets out to advocate for hip-hop that's color blind, ignores geography, and sets a common bond in the elements of the art and culture. Maybe 20 years ago as a college student I could have seen things as being that easy. That's not to say Joseph Rose is naive or ignorant - rather it's to say you can't just end racism simply by declaring you don't believe in it. Anyway let's move on and give "Joe Ro" the benefit of the doubt on other tracks like "Know Which Way to Go." And using those Battle Axe connections to the fullest, Joe Ro gets Pro Logic (OVO) to produce and Rob the Viking to record his single "Pour You Out." Connections also gave him enough of a budget to film a video and put it out to support his short 31 minute album, which officially drops next Tuesday (August 23rd). If I learned anything from his previous appearance on "The Little Things" it's that Joe Ro is a self-declared ex-addict who wants to spend the time he used to chasing paper in that life to MAKE paper and take care of his family a couple of generations beyond his own. Hints of his past still pop up on songs like "Only Way Is Up" though when he talks about bagging up the work and says "hopefully I get out before I go to the pen." He also sounds the despair of that lifestyle, talking about his feelings of suicidal depression, and even if the flow isn't a revalation musically his honesty is lyrically. That's what makes it hard to have a "meh" reaction to a rapper like Joe Ro. It's like he enrolled in Hip-Hop University and got a passing grade in every class, graduated with a degree in how to emcee, and immediately went to work punching the clock. "
I tried something new last week! The format of "Who Sampled It Better?" was simple - every edition posted features four famous hip-hop breaks along with two songs that sampled it prominently. You could play the clips here then pick the song you think looped it best on Twitter. I promised that after a week passed I'd do a follow-up revealing the results and adding my own thoughts on the choices...
... and one week later that time has come!
1.) Roy Ayers Ubiquity - "Everybody Loves the Sunshine"
Your choices: Brand Nubian's "Wake Up (Reprise in the Sunshine" and Erule's "Listen Up."
And the winner with 56% of the vote is...
* Brand Nubian - "Wake Up (Reprise in the Sunshine)"
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm actually shocked it was this close. I thought Brand Nubian was the "hip-hop classic" and that Erule's track was very good but also relatively obscure compared to the fame of the Nubians. Just a few votes could have swung this either way - it might be closer than the 2016 Presidential elections in a few months!
2.) Isaac Hayes - "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic"
Your choices: Dr. Dre's "Puppet Master" or Public Enemy's "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos."
And the winner with 100% of the vote is...
* Public Enemy - "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos"
EDITOR'S NOTE: This one is a clear cut win for the Bomb Squad and Public Enemy. Now I'll put P.E. in the same "hip-hop classic" category as Brand Nubian above, but while some voters were willing to take a risk and consider Erule as a worthy contender, nobody stepped out and gave Dr. Dre a chance. It may be argued that "Puppet Master" isn't a BETTER use of the sample, but it's still a damn good song! Sometimes when you go up against a legend though you GET DUNKED ON.
3.) The Isley Brothers - "Between the Sheets"
Your choices: Da Brat's "Funkdafied" and Keith Murray's "The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World."
And the winner with 67% of the vote is...
* Da Brat - "Funkdafied"
EDITOR'S NOTE: It's nice to see Shawntae Harris get some respect from the voters, although at least one voter on Twitter mentioned that "Jermaine Dupri did it better" and put it entirely on her producer. I'm not sure that's fair. I love both tracks but there's something about Da Brat's personality and delivery that deserves just as much credit for making this beat fire. Honestly if they went up against Mr. Wallace they might have been killed like Public Enemy did Dr. Dre so this was a "fair fight."
4.) Dazz - "Brick"
Your choices: Dana Dane's "Cinderfella Dana Dane" and Ice Cube's "No Vaseline."
And the winner with 86% of the vote is...
* Ice Cube - "No Vaseline"
EDITOR'S NOTE: In hindsight "Cinderfella Dana Dane" had no chance going up against what might be the most vicious diss track in hip-hop history. Is the loop by Sir Jinx and Cube really that much better than what Hurby Luv Bug did for Dane though? To the degree the vote was this much of a slam dunk? I submit that the voters ultimately gave Cube the nod because (ironically enough) of its FAME as opposed to simply being the better use of Dazz, but I respect the choice they made all the same.
You know that De La Soul drops a new album this week right? It was originally launched via Kickstarter back in March 2015 and in no time flat reached the $110,000 funding goal. I do mean NO TIME FLAT y'all - it took about 24 hours. There are a lot of passionate De La Soul fans out there.
I'm one of those fans. I've seen De La in concert several times and I don't ever think I could see them live enough. If I had the time and money I'd own every single they ever dropped on vinyl, original print run and not re-issue, but I don't think that's meant to be (I Am, I Be). What is meant to be though is this top ten list celebrating the long awaited album finally dropping in stores and for all of us thirsty Kickstarter backers who wanted more than just a sip. Honestly limiting it to ten doesn't even do De La justice but it forced me to make hard choices and I do love a good challenge. Here we go...
1.) De La Soul - "Me Myself and I"
2.) De La Soul - "Ego Trippin' (Part Two)"
3.) De La Soul - "Stakes Is High"
4.) De La Soul - "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)"
5.) De La Soul - "Oooh"
6.) De La Soul - "A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays"
It's time for another edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #389 is called Want Some More? Support These Artists! Today you'll hear new material from Two Lanez, Esohel, Red Pill and more! Follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new podsafe free show - like The Drunk Train from Adam Bernard.
* Esohel - No Turning Back
* Red Pill - Gin & Tonic
* Cambatta - Blessing From GOD
* Chris Prhythm - Jet Plane
* Funky DL - The Rhapsody
* Buddah Baby - Rock Star Energy
* KB The General f/ Produca P, Tonn 3D - Right Now
* Two Lanez - Want Some More
MAP: Rising artist Chi'Codez has been making a lot of noise online and he is here with his latest visual release titled "Watch Ya Mouf". His fans are loving the visual more and more as it is now over 300,000 views on YouTube.
Matt: Rich Nice’s The A&R Room features appearances by Sir Michael Rocks, Tuki Carter, 3D Na’Tee, Famsquad, Megan Rochell and many others and will be released on 8-26-2016 courtesy of Boutique Beats/Penalty Records.
Audio: Shabaam Sahdeeq - "Limitless" (prod. DJ Doom)
Dean: Limitless produced by Dj Doom is another leak single from the Album (Timeless: of the collection) that S.S has been slow cooking for a while of that pure boom bap hip hop that he is known for. It is something new to hold you down till the album drops entirely top of 2017.