"There's always been this attempt to divide "the real" from "the mainstream." What those two things are is a nebulous concept which invariably is in the eye of the beholder, which is why where possible I attempt to reject those paradigms. I've always believed that once you create something you intend to distribution to the masses, publishing it is in itself a definition. Put more plainly, the only difference between Aceyalone and Rick Ross is the number of units sold. The only "underground" artist in the modern era is one who records only for his/her own edification and never shares it with anyone. If you put it on YouTube or Bandcamp, you're not underground any more. You might be "independent," but you've been seen. Some rappers actually refuse to see "the light," literally beleving their music will be tainted by more people hearing it. Make art for yourself then. The only chance of being pure is to never publish it or sell it at all. Some heads enjoy being elite. They enjoy thinking they know something other people don't. They enjoy looking down their noses at what's "popular" and holding up their favorite rap artists as being more refined and pure than what's on your playlist. To a certain segment of the audience, it is beneath their dignity to listen to Rick Ross, Drake, Lil Wayne or Jay-Z solely and only based on the fact they are mainstream. You don't have to go to many rap concerts to see this in practice - a Brother Ali fan who snubs Busta Rhymes - and you if you have the temerity to like both. Rap criticism has helped create this atmosphere though because from websites to blogs to magazines we hold up X over Y and say "This is what you should be buying." And while there's value in praising what's good and dismissing what's not, ultimately those judgments should be only a guideline and not a roadmap to your personal taste."
"Ab-Soul has had quite a year. The previous rhyme is an excerpt from "The Book of Soul," which was dedicated to his long time girlfriend Alori Joh, whom committed suicide back in February. In March, he and his Black Hippy crew (which consists of Soul, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Kendrick Lamar) signed a deal with Aftermath/Interscope. And in May, Ab-Soul released his second independent album through Top Dawg Entertainment, "Control System." Ab-Soul is definitely the most unique emcee out of the Californian quartet, as his style is very lyrical and introspective. "Control System" has a very dark feel, thanks to in-house production provided by various members of the Digi+Phonics production crew. The Danny Brown assisted, "Terrorist Threats" is a very paranoid track where the two up-and-coming lyricists trade verses speaking on government conspiracy theories: "I seen images of Hitler in the picture when the Twin Towers dropped." Another one of the album's many gems is "Double Standards," in which Ab-Soul raps about the double standard of male/female relationships. "Control System" isn't an entirely bleak affair however. There are many less serious tracks that perfectly balance out the album and show that Ab-Soul, while not as versatile as say Kendrick, is a pretty well-balanced emcee. "Bohemian Grove" is a nice smooth party track, in which he displays his intricate lyricism over a pretty lighthearted track. "Lust Demons" is another example of Ab-Soul's versatility, as he can make a sexual song, which features Jay Rock and BJ the Chicago Kid's best Marvin Gaye impression (and frankly he nails it), while still being able to make a song as deep and analytical as "Double Standards." He holds his own against one of hip hop's brightest young stars in Kendrick Lamar on "Illuminate" and the drugged out "Mixed Emotions" is equally phenomenal."
"A-Wax has the California hard knock bio you've probably heard before, save for the fact he came from a neighborhood called Pittsburg that's nowhere near Pennsylvania. He did a few years bid in jail, spent his free time writing rhymes, and got out determined to hustle in the rap game legal. He sold albums hand to hand, out the trunk or at shows, and his role models were fellow Bay Area entrepeneurs like JT the Bigga Figga. After grinding for long enough, he graduated to the next level - getting signed to a distribution deal and getting "Everybody Loves Me Chapter 1" available at Amazon.com. He's even got a catchy and colorful crossover song called "Willy Wonka." A-Wax obviously has good connects, because besides getting the sample from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" cleared, he gets some candy sweet cameos on the album. French Montana and Styles P make appearances on "Fly Pelican," and Mistah FAB drops bars on one of the album's best songs - "Been Thru Everything." Other stand out songs on this 12 track release include the electro-futuristic "The Way I Hustle" featuring Luke Bingham (like a Future song, but good) and the Gotye sampling song (another hefty clearance I'm sure) of the same name "Somebody That I Used to Know." "
"Conscious rap has played an important element of hip-hop culture since the early 1980's. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message" was the first conscious rap single to propel the genre into the radio waves and TV screens of mainstream America. "The Message" was able to accurately depict the bleak social conditions of poverty, violence and alienation experienced by many living in the ghetto. This track fundamentally shifted rap music from the hands of deejays who dominated the scene with their scratching and blending techniques to emcees with the ability to express their own rhymes creatively and report what was occurring in their respective communities. San Francisco based rap group, B-Pos (short for Be Positive), has contributed to conscious rap independently throughout the years with the release of several mixtapes and albums. The rap collective consists of emcees D-Wiz, Goodword and Khafre along with DJ Johnny Venetti. Their latest record, "Pos Tapes- The Album," is said to be a "best-of" compilation of their trilogy of mixtapes, "Pos Tapes Vol. 1-3," which were released over the past two years. As a group, B-Pos is able to carry on the tradition of golden era hip-hop at times with a decent combination of consciousness and ability to showcase their technical rhyming ability."
Childish Gambino :: Sick Boi :: Childish Gambino ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"Even though Childish Gambino recently blew up with a major label album, the actor turned rapper had been dropping free mixtapes for years, dating back to "Sick Boi" in 2008. The thing is Donald Glover for whatever reason decided to literally be a SICK BOY on this first album, rapping the entire time like he had a bad cold, tissue stuffed up his nose or both. At the time I just couldn't take Gambino seriously, thinking he was mocking hip-hop and that he should probably not quit his day job as an actor and writer on NBC sitcoms. It was only on his later releases including "Camp" that I turned around on Gambino, and realized he actually takes his rapping seriously. Given that knowledge I decided "Sick Boi" is worth a second look. Having slept on the song the first time, I didn't pass on the dopeness of "Tru Dudes" on the second listen or any of the repeated ones since. A collaboration between mc chris and Gambino is like a nerd's hip-hop dream, but sadly it would only happen one more time on "Poindexter" before the two would part ways for unknown reasons. In fact the longer Gambino has been rapping the fewer collaborations he seems to do, which I find perplexing since they're some of the best tracks for him to cut loose and have fun. You can hear the same thing when he gets down with my man Chaz Kangas on "My Hoodie." "
Frank Ocean :: nostalgia, ULTRA :: Odd Future ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon
"No pun intended, but this is a bit of an odd album. This is the album that really blew Frank Ocean up in a big way. This is the album Jay-Z was listening to when he decided Ocean should sing hooks on "Watch the Throne." The story goes that Beyonce had a bootleg of it playing in the car, and Shawn was just amazed at how good of a crooner he was, and the rest is history. This is one of those apocryphal hip-hop stories that's so good I'm not even going to complain if it's not true, because like most stories that revolve around Odd Future members, the more unlikely they are the better. It's just as likely he was a ghostwriter for one of Beyonce's songs - but again, who cares? Frank went from "that singer from Odd Future" to "that dude on 'No Church in the Wild' I like." He really took off, to the point that "nostalgia, ULTRA" was supposed to get a major label re-release and wind up on store shelves nationwide. Unfortunately it never happened, and the reason why ISN'T a mystery. When he was just "that internet crooner" he and his producer pals freely sampled from various sources it would be cool for Ocean to sing over. He They didn't really go out of their way to hide this fact - the album is called "nostalgia" after all. He sings over Coldplay's song of the same name on "Strawberry Swing." He sings over Mr. Hudson's song of the same name on "There Will Be Tears." Those weren't even the ones that got him in trouble. "
"You can call it "New York to Cali" if you like, but it's more like Queens, NY rap artist Gee Dubs linking up with his favorite producer Mike Cali to release a new album called "AM Shift." Even that needs some clarification though, as Mike Chops produced 3 out of the 13 tracks on this album. SFAIK that's no relation to the ORIGINAL beat wunderkind Chops, but I think that's it as far as clarification goes. As long as we're giving out credits for this album though, Jay.W did the mastering and DJ Djaz provided all the scratches. Speaking of scratching, the album got off to a good note for me on the "Intro" by combining scratches of an alarm clock with KRS-One screaming "WAKE UP!" as he did on the song "Blackman In Effect" from "Edutainment." There aren't enough KRS-One samples in hip-hop these days. Gee has a nice delivery, lyrics that don't embarass me for listening to him speak, a flow that definitely shows some potential. Even though Gee hails from Queens, his vocal inflection reminds me more of Yonkers, being at times a dead ringer for either Styles P or Sheek Louch, and perhaps an amalgamation of the two. Songs breeze by very quickly, with all but one being under 4 minutes in length, and all but four being under 3:20. 2 of the 3 longest songs on the album "Anonymous" and "No Questions" feature his friends in the All City Crew, which explains how they were able to be stretched out."
"L.A. rapper Open Mike Eagle first came on the scene in 2007 as part of Thirsty Fish with Dumfounded and Psychosiz. He came up through L.A.'s Project Blowed, and was also part of the Swim Team. He released his first solo record, the excellent "Unapologetic Art Rap," in 2010. On that album, he attempted to forge his own path in the hip-hop world with something he calls art rap. Art rap is a criticism of both the shallow, disposable mainstream hip-hop and ossified underground hip-hop that is so obsessed with the four elements that it can't evolve past 1995. He released another album in 2011, and has put out several EPs. "4NML HSPTL" is his third solo record. All of the production on the album is handled by Awkward. Even though he's from the U.K. his beats fit in with the glitchy aesthetic of L.A. producers like Shlohmo and Take. The beats are equal parts electro, IDM, and distorted electronica. It's miles away from the sample-based boom-bap that the underground reveres and the pop sheen of mainstream rap. One of the most haunting tracks is "HSPTL." Awkward lays down some lonely, mournful synths, and Mike raps about dealing with recovering from alcoholism. "
Block McCloud & DJ Waxwork "True Lies" Digital EP Out Now!
Courtesy Jerry Graham.
New York, NY (August 2012) – Block McCloud & DJ Waxwork’s digital EP, True Lies, is now available via iTunes. The EP features dirty, clean, instrumental and acapella versions of three tracks off of the upcoming full-length album, Four Walls, to be released August 14 via McCloud’s own Disturbia Music Group.
Tracks on the EP include: “True Lies” featuring Vinnie Paz and Hasan Salaam, “Hallucinations” and “Killer Karnivale” featuring Diabolic and Thirstin Howl the 3rd. Videos for True Lies and Hallucinations are already online (links below).
In addition to these songs Four Walls will also include collaborations with such gritty east coast emcees as Ill Bill, Slaine, Reef The Lost Cauze, King Magnetic, Jus Allah, R.A. The Rugged Man and Celph Titled. In regards to Four Walls’s concept, McCloud explains, “I consider it almost a soundtrack album, all of the music and my lyrics revolve around the central character. He’s a crazy guy who runs a killer carnival and who believes that he was captured and experimented on because he knows too much about the true order of the world. I guess you can loosely say I’m the crazy guy.”
McCloud’s hip hop credits include being a founding member of the group Brooklyn Academy (which has included Jean Grae, Thirstin Howl The III and Pumpkinhead at times), and is now a member of Army Of The Pharaohs (which includes Jedi Mind Tricks, Esoteric, Apathy, Celph Titled, Reef The Lost Cauze, Outerspace and more). Under his singing alias of Captain Hook, Block has also added his voice to tracks by such artists as Sean Price, Method Man, Canibus, Jedi Mind Tricks, The Clipse and more. DJ Waxwork from Germany was an integral part of the Snowgoons production team on German Lugers, Black Snow and others as well as being a well-established live DJ.
Purchase The True Lies EP: itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-true-lies/id550158128 .
The True Lies EP Track Listing: 1. True Lies (Dirty) ft. Vinnie Paz and Hasan Salaam 2. True Lies (Clean) ft. Vinnie Paz and Hasan Salaam 3. True Lies (Instrumental) 4. True Lies (Acapella) 5. Hallucinations (Dirty) 6. Hallucinations (Clean) 7. Hallucinations (Instrumental) 8. Hallucinations (Acapella) 9. Killer Karnivale (Dirty) ft. Diabolic and Thirstin Howl the 3rd 10. Killer Karnivale (Clean) ft. Diabolic and Thirstin Howl the 3rd 11. Killer Karnivale (Instrumental) ft. Diabolic and Thirstin Howl the 3rd 12. Killer Karnivale (Acapella) ft. Diabolic and Thirstin Howl the 3rd
Free Beat Tape - DJ Concept: "Sonidos Para Tu Alma"
Courtesy DJ Mickey Knox.
Welcome. The sounds you are about to hear are inspired by beautiful music. Everything note was created and conceived by DJ Concept with one focus in mind: to capture the spirit of a glorious country. Brought to you by Deep Concepts Media & The Bash Brothers. Please Enjoy.
"The Superfreak Tape: A Tribute to Rick James" - Mr. Miranda
Well, the wait is over, Mr. Miranda brings you his tribute project to the late great Rick James! Been 2 years in the works but it is finally here!!! Production by Jimmy Nelson, Dn3, Hexsagon, Trellmatic, and Mute, guest features from Simone Hines, Buff 1, RoQy TyraiD, and MysticBlu! Miranda pays homage and gives you a musical journey with this sensational tribute! So please enjoy and help spread the love!! "I'm Rick James bitch"!!!
With features by Pace Won, Rah Digga, DU, Yah Yah and Young Zee's son Krash Battle, "One Crazy Weekend" is sure to excite hardcore hip hop fans. Zee uses his signature off the wall, inappropriate style but somehow still comes across as the cool likable guy that he is. I contributed my 'classic' beats that people know me for from albums like "The Only Color That Matters is Green". It makes a great combination.
This mix was done to help promote Digable Planets member Cee Know's new Mixtape "The Expendables".
It is a collector’s item for true Digable Planets fans and features rare remixes of Digable Planets tracks never heard before, plus select tracks from cee know's new mixtape and underground hip hop bangers.
75 Minutes of Jazzy Goodness! *** DIGABLE PLANETS TRIBUTE SET LIST:
We Live in Brooklyn - Roy Ayers Clean Dose - Cee Know Feat Able 9th Wonder (Mckay RMX) - Digable Planets Expendables - Cee Knowledge feat kai chi and reality Jetting - Digable Planets Get Funky - The Beatnuts Heart and Soul - Cee Knowledge feat Eddy Kane Cool like that (Instru) - Digable Planets Cool like that (Shawne Elliot RMX) - Digable Planets Booty Brown Drop - Pharcyde Jazzy Type Flow - Cee Know Hold it Down - 9th Wonder feat Talib Kweli and Buckshot Dog it - Digable Planets Ms Fat Booty (Dj Butcher Remix) - Mos Def All my People Say - Cee Know the Doodlebug feat Mecca Bey Pacifics - Digable Planets U do - Jazz Liberatorz Talking about Jazz Interlude - JL Places and spaces out there - Donald byrd Where I'm From - Digable Planets Lord Jamar Drop
The Time is Now - Cee Knowledge Feat Kai Chi So Far from Home - Jazzanova feat Phonte Nickle Bags - Digable Planets