"According to Stones Throw's press release for this album, the title refers to a personal resolution from Homeboy Sandman: "Mistaking kindness for weakness is a weakness I need to have more kindness for." This is typical of the Queens rapper's penchant for wordplay. It's an admirable stance that he takes, but not one that necessarily applies conceptually to the album. However even if this is just the latest collection of songs from Homeboy Sandman there's nothing wrong with that. That's because an array of Sandman's frequent collaborators provide excellent production. A couple of recognizable names that Sandman hasn't worked with before also don't disappoint; namely, Large Professor and Edan each show up accompanied by their own unique style. It's like Edan never left on "Talking (Bleep)" as he laces Sandman with a characteristically weird beat, whose warbling vocals sound like they're sampling the purposely unintelligible parents from the Peanuts television specials. Homeboy Sandman brings an equally off-kilter flow that only a rare few could pull off. Homeboy Sandman's vocals haven't been mentioned yet, but it's essential to note how stellar they are. I say vocals because it's the combination of lyrics, flow, and inflection that make him stand out. Sandman has no shortage of well executed concepts, but maybe his best asset is actually the endlessly inventive ways in which he constructs each verse; it's the delivery not the lyrics that impress in the above quote. The aforementioned collaboration with Large Pro called "It's Cold" is no less impressive.The former Main Source producer doesn't work with just anyone, so this is an affirmation of what we already know: Homeboy Sandman is a great emcee. This song calls for a different style than the track with Edan, so Sandman keeps his flow in the pocket and focuses more on rhyming. Unfortunately, this track is marred by a hook from Steve Arrington that doesn't fit the vibe. It's especially jarring that the hook is so playful when the rest of the song is in earnest. I'm not sure what the thought process behind this might have been, but even this cannot dampen the fire sparked by the meeting of Large Pro and Sandman."
"There's something I forgot to mention the last time I reviewed Adlib's album "The Highway" - there's more than one Adlibout there. One is Minneapolis born and Los Angeles bred, a member of Global Phlowtations, and has also released albums under his birth name of Thavius Beck. He's not to be confused with the Adlib we're reviewing here, who hails from Allentown, Pennsylvania and rolls with artists like Slaine and Madchild. It's probably not a surprise he wound up distributed by Battle Axe Records at some point. It's a natural progression for an emcee with those friends and credentials. One area the two Adlibs might relate on though is ganja, given that recreational marijuana is legal in California (if you're over 21). Adlib has certainly gone out of his way to state his advocacy on "Rebel Hippies (Light It Up)," even sampling from Bob Marley's famous speech: "Herb is a plant. I mean, herb's so good for everyt'ing." Marley also implied that government/authority doesn't want you to smoke herb because "it makes you rebel," hence the name of the song. Here's a little of what Adlib himself has to say on the subject. That really shouldn't come as a surprise if you're familiar with him though since his last album had a song called "Rolling Stoned" and he's already been on a "Rebel Hippies Tour" at various venues even before this album's release. What might be surprising though is how much he and Ren Thomas look like urban truckers on the "Work" video, repping in their Philadelphia Eagles gear while rapping at what looks like an abandoned factory in front of a semi cab."
"Although the course of history forces many a popular artist to confirm to prevalent tastes, established genres like blues, rock or jazz offer a career option that lets artists do what they're best known for and hopefully best at. Playing into their hands is the fact that their fanbase advances with them in years, people who love them for what they do and are grateful that they haven't abandoned it yet. They play in a league of their own and even calling it the senior division won't diminish their standing. And if they're truly lucky bastards, what they do is so compelling, genuine and timeless that they continue to garner new fans, some born long after their initial breakthrough. American rap acts have had a hard time prolonging their careers substantially. It remains to be seen whether some rappers will be able to succeed the likes of Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, or the Rolling Stones in terms of extended longevity. Gang Starr would have been viable candidates, before unfortunate and then tragic circumstances befell the duo. A Tribe Called Quest just recently took a shot at it with promising prospects despite or because of Phife's death. A few others seem to have a somewhat stable future ahead of them which a chance of rejuvenating their fanbase. But while individual careers don't last particularly long, the musical movements they are part of often endure. This is quite obvious in rap music's East Coast branch, where chopped samples are still a common sound. Other regions developped their own characteristic sonic styles. Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta all have a rich history that ultimately propelled southern rap to the top, and so does Memphis, via seminal groups Three 6 Mafia and Eightball & MJG. II Tone has been a visible part of the Memphis scene for over 15 years, his most pivotal role being that of co-founder of Black Rain Entertainment together with the late Mafia member Lord Infamous. His solo debut dates back to 2000 ("In Too Deep"), and he executive-produced all Lord Infamous releases on their label. You wouldn't be wrong to expect a certain sound from II Tone, but what you might not expect is such a straightforward old fashioned album. "New Direction: My World Overcometh" is sure to remind listeners of rap from the south circa 2005-2010."
"Up early in the morning, dressed in black
Don't ask why? 'Cause I'm down in a suit and tie
They killed a homie that I went to school with (damn!)
I tell ya life ain't s--t to fool with
I still hear the screams of his mother
While my nigga laid dead in the gutter (s--t!)
And it's getting to my temple
Why is that the only time black folks get to ride in a limo?
It make me so mad I want to get my sawed off
And have some bodies hauled off
But no, I pay my respects and I'm through
Hug my crew -- and maybe shed a tear or two"
I'm a life long gamer from long before the term "gamer" even existed. In fact the entire business of video games was so new when I was growing up people couldn't even agree on the semantics when portable systems like the Nintendo Game Boy were launched. Were games not displayed on a monitor or a TV screen a "video" game as such? Should they be called "portable" games instead? When accessories such as the Super Game Boy came out the definitions only became harder. Now you could play your portable games on a NON-portable system hooked up to your television. While these debates raged on amongst consumers and writers, I was simply content to enjoy my first (and to that point only) Nintendo system in the Game Boy - up until the point it was stolen anyway.
For those few years that I had the Game Boy though, my love of Nintendo's games grew on a deeply personal level. Before I had always had to rent a Nintendo for the weekend just to play a few games (and subsequently try to beat them in just a weekend if possible), or get a friend to let me play theirs, and you can believe I had a mental address book that not only had checks next to who had Nintendo but what games they had. Of course kids as we all know can be assholes. I had one friend who would always insist "When I die it will be your turn" and then would proceed to play The Legend of Zelda. Two hours later I'd still be waiting for "my turn." He knew what he was doing, I knew what he was doing, but I had to sit there and go along with it. Such is life. My GOOD friends would pick a two player game like Contra where we could run and gun together - but I digress. With a Game Boy I never had to wait for my turn. It was ALWAYS my turn, and best of all, as long as I had a power adapter or charged battery pack, I could play anywhere I went (to the dismay of some of my teachers).
Once personal computers were powerful enough to emulate systems like NES, Super Nintendo and Game Boy, college was LIT for me. I would eventually get a Sony PlayStation and skip about a week of classes playing Final Fantasy VII, but up to that point I was revisiting an important and up to that point unfulfilled part of my childhood. I was playing the games I never got to own, the games I did own but never got to beat (robbed before I could finish them), and the games I had only heard about but had never even seen before. I even bought a clunky Gravis GamePad just so I could play emulators while using something resembling an authentic Nintendo controller.
Ultimately I would go on to collect hard copies of those same games I had been playing thanks to stores like FuncoLand, but Nintendo gave us other opportunities to play them via Virtual Console on the Wii, the 3DS, and the Wii U. At first I was completely down with this since I liked the convenience of being able to play these games on my consoles any time I wanted without pulling out a cartridge out of my collection, but over time I became disenchanted when these games did not port from one system to the next even though your Nintendo login did. You had to buy them all over again even though Nintendo could easily see you had purchased them before. The Wii U offered a small workaround in that you could do a "system transfer" which would blank your Wii, but even then you'd have to run them in a "Wii emulation" sub menu instead of from the home page of your console - hardly a smooth process. If you wanted the convenience of immediate access, shelling out the money was your only choice. Even the process of transferring itself is a chore.
Here's the deal - as a lifelong Nintendo fan I've already fully committed to the Switch. I've got a launch day system pre-order, a set of pre-ordered games, and all of the accessories I could need. I'm already excited about the concept and have been from the jump - a true hybrid of their portable and their console lines - giving you the power of home console gaming with the convenience of taking it with you wherever you want to go. There are some concerns about the battery life in portable mode (possibly as low as three hours for Zelda level games) but that could still be enough for casual gaming sessions with friends, and if you were going to play something in depth like Zelda you'd probably want to dock the Switch to your TV anyway. That doesn't kill my buzz.
On the other hand, if Nintendo expects us all to shell out for classic/retro/old school games for a FOURTH time just because we've made the switch (pun intended) to their latest system, I'm not too thrilled with the prospect. I get it from a business standpoint that you make a buck wherever you can, and they certainly can by delving into their nearly 40 year history of video games from arcades to home consoles, as well as licensing games from other companies to play on what's essentially an authorized emulator. At the end of the day that's all the Virtual Console is - a front end for an emulator. In fact in some cases they simply recycled already available ROM data (the code on cartridges emulators used) instead of taking the time to dump their own intellectual property properly. I don't fault them for selling what's their own right to sell, but it seems awfully lazy to let the home enthusiasts do the work for you.
Here's my bottom line for this whole editorial - I've bought some of these games well more than four times now. I bought a physical hard copy (cartridge), I bought a portable copy (GameBoy Advance), I bought a Virtual Console copy (Wii) and I even bought a compilation with the games grouped by manufacturer or character (Kirby's Dream Collection on Wii, Mega Man Legacy Collection on 3DS, et cetera). I'm not saying there's no chance I'll ever buy a collection again if it's not well enough packaged. After all the NES Classic Edition was a good value - 30 games for $60 in one box. The problem is Virtual Console games aren't priced that way. Unless they're on sale even 30+ year old NES games are $4.99 and up. You can only justify owning the same game in multiple formats until you finally say to heck with spending any more money on it. The Nintendo Switch NEEDS to reward the loyalty of their customers, especially those who stuck by them through the relatively lackluster period of the Wii U, and make previous Virtual Console purchases available for a free download on the new system instead of having to buy them all over again. Are they likely to do that though? Probably not.
It's time for another edition of The Hip-Hop Shop. Episode #414 is called UNITY Against Evil. We have new material from Chuuwee, Mpulse, Oddisee, Syck Flow and more! Follow us @RapReviews so you never miss a new podsafe free show.
* Chuuwee - UNITY
* Jus Smith - SmithStyle
* Mpulse - Skylines
* KJ The Artist - Destroy the Competition
* Yung Dark - She Liked It
* Hitemup f/ Jazze Pha - Wait a Min
* ReP - Here I Am
* Oddisee f/ Toine - NNGE
* Syck Flow - Breathe Right
RRP: CaLiCo is an American Hip Hop artist that was railroaded by a failed education system and stumbled into the hands of the law. Through those experiences, he leaped beyond the negative and redefined himself.
T.S.: Director Mohammed Gorjestani says, “The Boombox Collection: Zion I” is the second film of the “Boombox Collection”, a cinematic and intimate portrait and performance series peering into the minds of the pioneers of “working class” hip hop. Artists who have shaped our attitudes and perspectives of the world for nearly 20 years. Artists who have been steadfast in their choice not to rap about “money, power, and bitches,” and instead share their knowledge, wisdom, at the cost of mainstream acceptance. These are artists often referenced and revered by mainstream artists and influencers.