I've had a pretty crappy time over the last two weeks, so to cheer myself up I'm doing a completely silly top ten. You'll probably have wanted a hip-hop artist and we'll get back to that I promise, but now for completely selfish reasons I'm going to sing a song about narwhals. Why narwhals? Because they're the inventors of the shish kebab, of course!
On Sept. 8th, 2017 my friend David was one of those 22 people. He had been on a transplant list for over a year. Our friendship dated back to my college days and it had an inauspicious start - he was the classmate of my roommate JT and he'd come over to hang out and play video games. For better or worse my roommate was kind of a slacker. I say "for better" because he was really easy to get along with. We never fought over anything and got along great. I say "for worse" because he didn't take college seriously and spent most of his time playing those same video games. He wound up being my roommate twice, and both times JT got kicked out of college because he didn't keep his grades up. After the second time David and I were both pretty much of the opinion, "Well f--k it we already know each other so let's just keep hanging out." And so we did. Even though I graduated a couple of years before he did, I'd still come back to campus to visit and hang out, and when he moved back to Des Moines after he graduated I'd come visit him there too.
I could wax poetic about all the fun times we've had over the last 20 years, how he gave a toast at my wedding, how he did things that made me laugh until tears rolled down my cheeks, but I already did all of that with his friends and family at his memorial service. I just want those reading to know that I don't think it had to be this way, and some of you may have close friends or loved ones going through the same thing, waiting for an organ that may never come. David's time ran out because while he was waiting his other organs were being taxed to the limit, and once they started to fail he was no longer a viable candidate for the life saving transplant he had been waiting over a year for. It's the deadliest catch 22 possible - you need an organ to live, but they can't give you one because you're too sick. It really f--king sucks in a way I feel is almost completely incomprehensible unless you've been through it too.
Until now I've never put down "organ donor" when I've renewed my drivers license. Nothing could make me feel more like s--t than that. Lord knows I don't want to be struck down by a terrible tragedy - a car accident, a tornado out of nowhere, a stray bullet at a concert, but my fear of death shouldn't also make me keep other people who could use my organs on a waiting list. If something happens to me and I'm already a vegetable with no chance of recovering, couldn't my organs do someone like David some good? I don't know how many people would need to opt in starting right now for him to have not been one of those 22 people a day, but for whatever good it will do I'm opting in the next time around. I'm not pondering what it will mean to me to not have a kidney, a lung, a liver or anything else when I'm gone. My organs don't matter to me at that point. If they matter to a doctor who can save the life of a friend or a loved one, they are welcome to have them. Here's hoping that more people opt in and less people die waiting for a donor. I'm not saying you have to, I'm just saying +I+ have to.
You may not know the name Chuck Brown, or if you do you may think that's what Peppermint Patty calls "good ol' Charlie Brown," but in reality the man born Charles Louis Brown on August 22nd, 1936 in Gaston, North Carolina is "The Godfather of Go-Go" and the driving force behind the sound as it rose to popularity in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1970's. Brown went through a lot of trials to get to that point though. He didn't have a father figure growing up, moved to the D.C. area when he was 6, never finished high school and wound up living on the street by 15.
Things went downhill from there as he wound up spending eight years in prison on what he maintains was self-defense, but nonetheless his conviction for death of a man unintentionally sparked his career as a musician, as he wound up trading cigarettes for a guitar in prison. That decision taught him a skill that he would benefit from for the rest of his life, and Brown lived to be 75 years old. He was not an immediate success, as he worked odd jobs as a bricklayer and sparring partner at gyms for a while, but in the 1970's his musical talent made him and The Soul Searchers a success.
Without knowing it Brown and his band laid the foundation for a generation of hip-hop samples to come, and "Ashley's Roachclip" is one of my favorites because of the diverse number of parts of it that has been used, each distinct from the others but all incredibly funky. Here is the original for you to cast an ear upon before we present the contenders for "Who Sampled It Better?"
There are OVER THREE HUNDRED songs which sample "Ashley's Roachclip" so we may have to do this again at some point down the road. For now though here are four songs for your consideration, and at the end of this post you'll be able to vote for your winner of WSIB.
Rich Homie Quan, Kap G + Project Pat Added to A3C Festival
A3C: Fool’s Gold DAY OFF is taking over the A3C Festival all day on Sat, Oct 7th on the outdoor stage at the Georgia Freight Depot.
Hometown heroes Rich Homie Quan and Kap G, Boston’s Michael Christmas and Memphis legend Project Pat join the lineup of A-Trak, DJ Drama & Don Cannon, Zaytoven, Smino, Kodie Shane, Maxo Kream, Wifisfuneral, Hoodrich Pablo Juan, ManMan Savage, Nick Catchdubs, Kittens, Madeaux and special guests.
Blu and Exile Announce In The Beginning: Before The Heavens, a Prequel to Their 2007 Underground Classic, Releasing October 20th
A.T.: Mass Appeal Premieres New Single "Constellations" as the Duo Prepares to Commence the Second Leg of Their 42-Date Headlining Below The Heavens: 10 Year Anniversary Tour
With his fluid, incisive rhyming style and his intellectual lyrics, L.A. rapper Blu found his ideal aesthetic match in the dusty, soulful beats of crate-digging producer/DJ Exile. Ten years ago, Blu and Exile released Below The Heavens, a contemplative, confident, and wistful masterpiece beloved by critics and embraced by the West Coast underground as an instant classic. Today, Blu and Exile proudly announce In The Beginning: Before The Heavens, a follow-up and companion piece to the classic record. Comprised of unreleased tracks from the original Below The Heavens sessions, In The Beginning captures the same ineffable energy of the original record. Today, the duo shares "Constellations," an organ-driven boom-bap banger premiered by Mass Appeal, featuring some of Blu's best bars of the project: "I'm showin you an older Blu in hopes that you embrace it/like a soldier do with gauges/Motor you through pages that I wrote for you/Laid it in the vocal booth/Press it up and sold it to the places that you go into." With appearances from Aloe Blacc, Co$$, Donel Smokes, Blame One, and others, In The Beginning: Before The Heavens, coming October 20th via Dirty Science/Fat Beats, proves that the Below The Heavens style feels just as fresh in 2017 as it did in 2007.
"We planted the seeds of creativity and grew about 40 plants," Exile says of the release. "We picked the ones that we thought were the best for an album, but that didn't mean that the other flowers weren't beautiful. I'm super happy to re-release [In The Beginning] to people and have it actually get some attention that it definitely deserves. It's amazing."
A former high school basketball star raised by a pastor father who hated rap music, Blu is an idiosyncratic and emotional rapper with a maverick sense of self-determinism. A well-respected producer in the L.A. underground, Orange County native Exile produced tracks for the likes of Mobb Deep, Kardinal Offishal, Jurassic 5, and others before teaming up with Blu for their fruitful partnership. Released in Summer 2007, Below The Heavens received rave reviews from tastemakers and appeared on many year-end best-of lists. The momentum from Below The Heavens led to Blu's signing to Warner Bros. Records, and propelled the young rapper onto the 2009 XXL Freshman List alongside B.o.B, Kid Cudi, and Wale. In 2012, Blu and Exile reunited for Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, expanding the palette of Below The Heavens and showcasing Blu's multi-syllabic dexterity. Separately, the duo continued to make music, with Blu releasing countless mixtapes, most notably York, which received an 8.1 from Pitchfork, and collaborated with the likes of Madlib and Nottz. Exile remains an in-demand producer in the West Coast scene, forming Emanon, a duo with Aloe Blacc, and producing records for rappers such as Wiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg, Big Sean, Fashawn, and Pharaohe Monch.
In addition to the new album, Blu and Exile announce the extension of the Below The Heavens 10 Year Anniversary Tour, which finishes its West Coast leg in Seattle on September 13th. Embarking on September 26th at Beauty Bar in Las Vegas, the 10 Year Anniversary Tour continues for 29 headlining dates spanning from Salt Lake City to Miami. Featuring support from L.A. underground stalwarts Dag Savage, Choosey, Cashus King (fka Co$$), and Pistol McFly, tickets for the tour are on sale now.
Pre-order In The Beginning: Before The Heavens: https://bluandexile.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-beginning-before-the-heavens
Pre-order a physical copy of In The Beginning: Before The Heavens: https://www.fatbeats.com/collections/blu-exile-in-the-beginning-before-the-heavens
Listen to "Constellations": https://soundcloud.com/fatbeats/blu-exile-constellations
Check out the premiere of "Constellations" on Mass Appeal: https://massappeal.com/blu-exile-constellations-premiere/
Buy tickets for the Below The Heavens 10 Year Anniversary Tour: https://thedirtyscience.com/
In 2007, the same year that Kanye vs. 50 Cent in an album sales battle dominated headlines in the mainstream, Blu and Exile were carving their own path with an instant classic. The rapper and DJ/producer duo released Below the Heavens: In Hell Happy With Your New Imaginary Friend on July 17. Featuring soul-infused production with the raw vulnerability of Blu's rhymes, the album began to receive rave reviews by hip-hop tastemakers and underground enthusiasts. In a review penned by 2DopeBoys' Shake for HipHopDX, he gave it a 4/5 and noted that Blu is an "an extremely talented lyricist; clever rhymes, technically sound, intensely personal and witty." Below the Heavens impacted everyone in some way, as it would later end up on many critics' year-end lists from all over the internet.
2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of Below the Heavens. One of the interesting tidbits about the album is Blu and Exile made over 40 songs, with only 15 of them making the final cut. Now, the duo is reuniting for their third release, In the Beginning: Before the Heavens, a collection of the best tracks from the original sessions. "I'm super happy to re-release it to people and have it actually get some attention that it definitely deserves," Exile says. "It's amazing."
Josh: As a result of our upbringing, our appearance, and our perspectives, we all face obstacles that others can't fully understand. This is what makes our experiences unique. "AGAPE" is a public petition for compassion towards those experiencing the trial that we just cant seem to relate to.
Video: Reach Records Releases Episode 3 Of The Vault
K.J.: Today Reach Records releases the next installment of The Vault, an original video series highlighting popular music videos from Reach’s extensive catalogue. Complete with fun facts, trivia, and behind-the-scenes stories from the making of the video, Episode 3 features “Manolo” by Trip Lee.