St. Louis Rapper J-Kwon Missing, Label Initiates Efforts to Find Him
March 2, 2010, St. Louis, MO -- In recent months, J-Kwon has been consistently releasing new music for fans on the net, however as the March 23 release date of his self-titled album is upon him, the young rapper has gone missing.
Reps at J-Kwon's label, Gracie Productions, have been unable to reach him in over a month. Friends or associates of the 24-year-old MC are urged to send in tips, and they've set up a Twitter page @WhereIsJKwon to field updates.
"J-Kwon is a big part of the Gracie family, and we are obviously increasingly worried and want to make sure he is ok," says Gracie Productions CEO/President Tony Bucher. "We've already received thousands of emails from fans and supporters who are worried about J-Kwon, and we want everyone to know how much we appreciate the love and support. If anyone has seen J-Kwon or has access to him, please let him know we are worried about him, and to please let us know everything is ok."
Born Jarrell Jones, J-Kwon rose to fame with his 2004 Top 10 hit "Tipsy" from his So So Def/Arista debut Hood Hop. In 2009, he released two projects with Gracie Productions, Hood Hop 2 and Hood Hop 2.5. J-Kwon recently dropped the single "O" featuring producer/songwriter J-Skillz and pop/rock songstress Sally Anthony, and was preparing for the March 23, 2010 release of his self-titled album via One Records on The Orchard before his disappearance.
Fans and friends of J-Kwon are working with Gracie Productions to track the young artist down, and will monitor the @WhereIsJKwon Twitter page until he is found.
Video For Lead Single From The Day The Turf Stood Still Details Gentrification in the Fillmore District
As the March 9th release date for DaVinci's debut album, The Day The Turf Stood Still, approaches, the rising Fillmore District emcee is proud to release the video for the lead single from the album for the song, "What You Finna Do." Shot in black and white and featuring powerful visuals throughout, DaVinci uses the video as a means to drive home the song's message as he speaks on the powerful and hotly debated topic of gentrification, an issue not only affecting his own neighborhood but urban areas across the country. Speaking on his inspirations for penning the song, DaVinci explains, "I was inspired to write this song to address an open ended question to the neglected inner-city communities world wide." The video's chilling depiction follows DaVinci through his home city, or at least the city that used to feel like home.
As the video plays through, it's clear the city that has raised DaVinci is rapidly changing - not only do the corners that provided DaVinci's livelihood now house trendy coffee shops, but the District's illustrious history is being whitewashed as families are being pushed out and neglected with urban renewal. "If you don't have the money to live here in the Western Addition, you have to go," says the vocal sample setting the song's tone as the single begins. To match DaVinci's potent lyrics with equally powerful visuals, the video, directed by Marcus Ubungen, whose credits include Island/Def Jam Records, Nike, and more, was shot at a number of locations significant to DaVinci and representative of the changes affecting the Fillmore community - Lily's BBQ is one of the few remaining black owned businesses in the area, while the Marcus Garvey homes represents one of a handful of public housing projects in the area, known both for raising a number local rap stars and street legends as well as being the destination of many police drug raids. Says Johan Thomas of DaVinci's label SWTBRDS Creative Collective, who assisted in selecting many of the locations for the video shoot, "The video paints Westside in a light that reflect the community at large. Its desolate landscape proves the plight of the many families who have left the community."
DaVinci's new album, The Day The Turf Stood Still, will be available for sale and free download March 9, 2010 via SWTBRDS Creative Collective.
The Fillmore District has bred more rappers per capita than any other district in San Francisco, and although the older generations recall its rich musical history rooted in Jazz, the Fillmore today is rife with drugs, turf wars, and mass gentrification. DaVinci, a young MC raised in the Fillmore, is a prime example of the duality of this area, who at the age of 13 was homeless, hungry, and hopeful for a way out. Explains DaVinci, "My music has everything to do with my environment: from robbing, killing, pimpin' to selling and abusing drugs," he explains about his heavy content. "It's a direct reflection of what my friends and family have been through and are still going through." While his story is similar to many other young rappers upbringings, DaVinci was surrounded by an incredible pool of Fillmore talent and by studying with the greats, he was able to sharpen his skills and aim higher than most, cultivating his story-telling abilities beyond mere drug-and-gun-talk. Growing up in the same 10-block radius as Bay Area rap legends San Quinn and JT the Bigga Figga, DaVinci was content in merely watching the next generation follow in their footsteps, until he received overwhelming praise from his peers from a mixtape appearance, which then prompted him to pursue rap professionally. In 2006, San Quinn welcomed him onto the "Pressure Makes Diamonds Tour" with rap veterans Xzibit and Tech N9ne. Since the tour, DaVinci has kept busy appearing on numerous mixtapes and compilations, as well as preparing his official debut album, The Day The Turf Stood Still. The Day The Turf Stood Still will be available March 9, 2010 via SWTBRDS Creative Collective. Streams:
This song here by Rahzel Jr. (Son of Rahzel of The Legendary Roots crew) is his Brand New Single "Far Away" (Dedicated to the victims of the Haiti earthquake) off of his upcoming "OverAchievement LP" which will be on Itunes, Amazon, & Rhapsody this Spring.
Part II of SESSIONS finds us behind the scenes as RADIx x Statik Selektah x Court Dunn give a backstage pass of the making of THE RETURN music video. This catches RADIx x Statik Selektah x Court Dunn in candid moments as they discuss hip hop, the music video, and hints as to what is coming.Thank you to all the blogsites who have featured the record. Lastly RADIx will be performing live in Worcester, MA @ The Lucky Dog Friday March 5th celebrating the release of THE RETURN. Thank you for all your continued support. SESSIONS II
SESSIONS VIDEO - Behind the scenes look at RADIx and STATIK SELEKTAH making the new RADIx LP. Statik also shows producers how he flips samples. A must see. THE RETURN- PROD BY STATIK SELEKTAH
RADIx Live March 5th 2010 Worcester, MA @ THE LUCKY DOG
"In 2003 Freeway dropped his Roc-A-Fella debut and cemented his position as an artistic powerhouse who fit in with his crew about as fluidly as MC chris at a Mobb Deep show. It wasn't that Free wasn't grimy enough, outside of Beanie Sigel the Roc didn't have anyone grimier, but rather he was an artist who was never destined to make the radio say "play that shit again!" After years of battle rapping his voice and flow had a coarse grain that stripped away any sense of radio friendly melody that might sneak into the passionately terse speed that also came from a background in microphone warfare. It felt more natural to see him side by side with such backpack friendly rappers as Mos Def and Kanye West on "The College Dropout"s "Two Words" than he ever did the Mariah Carey, the all time go-to siren for giving gangster rappers a heart of gold, so it wasn't really shocking to see how well Freeway faired after the Roc exploded. Dude had been on his own since joining and no Jay Z co-sign was going to change the fact that his grind got him further than his label affiliations ever did. "
"It's hard to resist an album with a title like "Covers for Reggae Lovers," but in truth the title was a little misleading. As I first cracked open this album from the famous VP Records imprint, I was under the impression that reggae stars from this century would be covering famous reggae songs from the last century. In other words, "reggae lovers" would be pleased to hear new interpretations of the classics by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, so on and so forth. As it turns out the "covers" in question aren't of reggae classics, and the artists BEING covered aren't known as reggae artists, but the end result is still easily recognizable as music reggae lovers will appreciate."
"The songs are short and sweet, rapidly going through the thrill of first love, the agony of heartache, and the peace of mind that comes from realizing that you were meant to date aliens. "New Love" sees Dillon excited about a woman he meets at a restaurant: "I'm not a catch/but I caught you/Mama even thought that you were the dopest chick I brought through." All is not well in the house of Dillon, however, because by the end of the song, she's disappeared. "
"Just like his prior releases, KaySlay shows how much clout he has in the industry by pairing the hottest artists in hip-hop with the dopest producers. This time around, the Drama King enlists the services of artists like Tony Yayo, Papoose, Lloyd Banks, Jim Jones, Yo Gotti, Bun-B, Twista, Cam'ron, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Joell Ortiz, Sheek Louch, Styles P, Rick Ross and many others. The production is handed by The Dream Team, The Alchemist, Ty Fyffe, Amadeus, Street Radio, Arab Music, Tie Stick, GQ Beats, Green Lantern, E-Dubb (not me, btw), and Money Always."
"The musical difference between Mac Mall's latest and its predecessor manifests itself also in the artwork. While both play on classic Hollywood blockbusters, the cover for "Thizziana Stoned and the Temple of Shrooms" was as realistic as it was absurd, our hero swinging Indy-style through a fungus-infested stone arch, the Temple of Doom, pardon, Shrooms looming in the background. "Mac to the Future" pictures him as Marty McFly getting out of the DeLorean, having just crossed the Bay Bridge, not so much checking his watch in surprise as posing for the artist. It's still an eye-catcher, but from a visual viewpoint the somewhat crude illustration lacks the touch of class I've come to associate with Mac Mall."
"Through emotion and life experiences, artists are compelled to express without limits. It is no different for Connecticut's Mr. Freeze. After the death of his sister, music was an outlet for his passion as he sought out underground and hardcore rap. He gradually learned to shape his writing and rap skills while forming rap group Code Orange in 2002. With the group not progressing, Freeze pursued a solo career and released his debut album "The Red Snow," full of aggression and hardcore elements.
With the birth of his daughter in 2008, Freeze decided to take a turn in his music with a sense of self-reflection and sharing the struggles of being a rap artist. Compiling all of his sentiment and morale, Freeze releases his sophomore album "The Righteous Path." "
"On a rainy summer night back in 2006 there were six twenty-something year olds sitting around a small, circular kitchen table playing Texas Hold 'Em while passing around a bottle of Jose Cuervo. I don't remember that night all that well. From what I've been told not only did I lose about thirty dollars and everything I had eaten in the twelve hours previous to the gathering, I also blacked out in the middle of the street on my way home. However, one thing I remember from that night in sufficient enough detail to talk about it was during the intermission from our poker game, we turned the television on and got to see a quick glance of Obie Trice and Akon on CSI: Miami, performing "Snitch" from Obie's sophomore release "Second Round's On Me." I proclaimed: "oh shit! That's Obie Trice!", but my enthusiasm was not quite understood."
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth :: All Souled Out :: Elektra Records ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Pete T.
"The beats on "All Souled Out" are technically impeccable, but they also contain that inimitable element of soulfulness and expressiveness that makes Pete Rock arguably the world's best producer. Hip hop's detractors have always pointed to sampling as a lazy, thieving practice of creating new music, and although Pete's a heavy sampler, it's hard to imagine those critics having a problem with his methods. For one thing, his knowledge of soul and funk music is so vast and deep that many of his samples are beyond obscure. For those samples that are a little more well-known, he flips them on his trusty SP-1200 in such a manner that they're hardly recognizable, not so much disguising them as breathing new life into them and finding expressive potential that the original artist probably didn't even intend."
"That's 2 failure's and 6 unsuccessful's, including 1 incredibly unsuccessful and 1 very unsuccessful. That almost qualifies as defamation. These entries were either written by someone holding a very personal professional grudge or a particularly dedicated hater. And still, malice aside, the comments are not all that wrong since they are, perhaps unwittingly, based on the underlying premise that Rasheeda is supposed to perform better on the sales front. Why? Because she's from the usually successful south, makes typical, usually successful southern rap and doesn't lack in the looks department. Ironically, the title of her latest album, "Certified Hot Chick" inherently makes the same argument: 'The hotness of this chick is certified, what other reason do you need to pick up this album?!' "
"From the land of the Hart Family Dungeon and the Calgary Flames comes Ricca Razor Sharp, who also goes by the government name Jonathan Stoddart. Stoddart owns 50% of Neferiu Records, which not coincidentally is the label releasing his album "Causeways & C-Trains." Skeptics among the readership will have already written Ricca off at this point, but those who know about the Canadian rap scene realize many of its best artists are self-produced or distributed. In Ricca's case only the latter is true as he has called in outside artists to put his album together musically - Calgary's own SoLeo and Vancouver Island's producer du jour Mantrakid."
Run-D.M.C. :: Down with the King :: Profile/Arista Records ** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series ** as reviewed by Pete T.
"Coming off 1990's slow-selling "Back From Hell," the Hollis Crew saw need for a change in order to keep up with a hip hop world that no doubt appeared to be hurtling forward faster than the speed of sound. But by 1993, the cards seemed to be stacked against them. The first years of the 1990s were filled with legal troubles, health issues, car accidents, and alcohol abuse for the group. Run and D soon became vocal Christians, and Jam Master Jay founded his own record imprint and struck gold producing Onyx. Fearing the worst, Arista even put out the group's first greatest hits collection. Having cemented legacies as founding fathers and invaluable contributors to a worldwide cultural phenomenon, it looked as if the time had come for Run-D.M.C. to gracefully bow. "
RapReviews Artist of the Decade Series - Dilated Peoples
Realizing the decade is nearly up, Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania decided to start a series of special features. The aim is simple: to find out precisely who the "RapReviews.com Artist of the Decade" is - and reward them of course. RR writer Matt Jost has picked up the mantle laid down by Jay Soul and is taking his turn to take a look at Dilated Peoples.
While there were plenty of them in what is often referred to as the Golden Age, post-1994 rap groups have had a hard time establishing themselves as major players in rap music. OutKast, MOP, UGK, Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and The Roots are undisputed, but several who were off to a promising start for whatever reason never quite got to hip-hop legend status - as a group, that is (Tha Dogg Pound, The LOX, Goodie Mob, Capone-N-Noreaga, Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, Nappy Roots, Non Phixion, Company Flow, Slum Village). Some remain contenders (Jedi Mind Tricks, Atmosphere, Clipse, Little Brother), some remain under the radar (CunninLynguists, People Under The Stairs), but there is one group that has struck a particularly effective balance between underground fame and broader recognition - Dilated Peoples.
The LA trio of DJ Babu, Rakaa Iriscience and Evidence has been present for the greater part of the decade, in 2007 however celebrating their new-found freedom from major label patronizing with a release whose visual aspects weighed decidedly heavier than the music, that's why "The Release Party" is not included in this consideration.
"The Platform" (2000) Since a Dilated album had been "Years in the Making," their official debut presented a crew that was well prepared with "a full spectrum of flavors that's robust." After a rather backpackerish beginning in the form of the title track, "The Platform" soon rises to the Y2K challenge. Featuring highly promising Evidence production as well as notable contributions from Kutmasta Kurt ("Work the Angles"), T-Ray ("No Retreat") and of course longtime affiliate and its main beat supplier The Alchemist, the album aims to create an LA sound that doesn't adhere to the '90s templates of gangsta funk and art-house hip-hop. But moreso than the beats it is Iriscience and Evidence who turn this into a highly serious affair. It's almost a little bit intimidating to hear Ev declare, "I go to any extreme for you to hear it." In the long run, the overriding sentiment of earnesty, the strong desire to be taken seriously, had the potential to turn into an Achilles' heel for the group, but for the time being it didn't stifle the creativity of the wordplay-inclined duo. True to its title, "The Platform" offers just that to Ev and Rak (regrettably to a lesser degree to Babu), who saw themselves as "the derivative of what the late '80s and early '90s had to give." One album does not make a Golden Age, but just like this Platform was, as they put it, "built on strong foundation," it would in turn constitute a sound footing for an extended career. (7.5/10)
Cool Songs: No Retreat, Service, Ear Drums Pop, The Last Line of Defense, Work the Angles
"Expansion Team" (2001) Dilated announced their return with the widely noticed single "Worst Comes to Worst," to this day a trademark song of the group and just maybe even an underground rap classic. The "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" sample had been used before, but The Alchemist and DP created the perfect setting for the emotive loop, the song's theme best summed up by the Havoc quote-turned-hook, "When worst comes to worst, my peoples come first." The album that followed, ambitiously titled "Expansion Team," while indeed extending the crew's reach, has to be considered a sophomore slump from an artistic standpoint. You feel the rappers' desire to be more specific and relevant, but they are unable to breathe life into their topics on songs such as "Self Defense," "Proper Propaganda" and "Panic." "We got tension and suspense, theme and variation," Ev boasted on the DJ Premier-produced "Clockwork," but safe for "Trade Money," replete with mature musings on the almighty dollar, and "Live on Stage," their key statement about bringing it to the people, they remain vague and unfocused. And even as Rakaa emerges as the lyrical backbone, for some reason he doesn't find enough time to shine, the thought-provoking "War" limited to a short one-verse track. Compared to the debut, the determination didn't ring as loudly and the music had fewer highlights. Ev also had the following bit of braggadocio to offer: "Only time we been wrong is when we thought we were wrong." They weren't wrong with "Expansion Team," it just wasn't the necessary step to the next level. (6.5/10)
Cool Songs: Live on Stage, Worst Comes to Worst, Trade Money, Heavy Rotation, War
"Neighborhood Watch" (2004) He wasn't yet the fame monster he is today, but when Kanye West produced and rapped on the single "This Way," plus brought a John Legend-led choir along at a time when "Jesus Walks" still echoed on the airwaves, it was clear that the crew, the label, or both, were ready to rid Dilated Peoples of a potentially hindering underground aroma. First single and album opener "Marathon" suggested they were in it for the long run that "separates the weak and strong one." The better grip on song writing was immediately apparent, particularly on the title track, which featured quite a different bird's-eye view on the oft-cited streets than the vulture's point of view of your common hustler. "Neighborhood Watch" is not only the album that introduced funk to the DP universe, it also saw Rakaa and Evidence finally allow their personal life into their lyrics, even though they kept their typical cool: "Born in LA it's hard to get star-struck / Born in LA, so I always keep my guard up" (Evidence). Rakaa imagines himself as a "rap Michael Moore" on "Big Business," where he once again rallies against war, memorably opening with, "I pledge resistance to the grass that hides the snakes of America..." They don't exactly pour their souls out, but "Tryin' to Breathe," "Reach Us" and "This Way" bring them closer to the listener, even as the latter together with the throwback club track "Who's Who" and the Devin the Dude-starring femme fatale tale "Poisonous" might have alienated some hardcore followers. Meanwhile Babu as usual spoke with his hands, closing the album with the Premier tribute "DJ Babu in Deep Concentration." In term of completeness, "Neighborhood Watch" takes a much needed clue from classic LA albums by Ice Cube and Ice-T. (8/10)
Cool Songs: Marathon, Neighborhood Watch, Reach Us, This Way, DJ Babu in Deep Concentration
"20/20" (2006) For album number four Dilated Peoples stuck to their guns, whether it came to the producers (Ev, ALC, Babu, Joey Chavez), the DJ spot ("The One and Only"), or their predilection for part abstract/part actual imagery (optics and weather being their favorite frames of reference). Lyrically, Evidence insisted on their impending success, while Rakaa solidified his status as one of LA's most talented wordsmiths. Ev relied on witty one-liners, most memorably "Don't worry if I write checks, I write rhymes" and "I master rap music every day like Tom Coyne." (Let's also hear it for "When you rhyme all you do is add rock to the block / when I rhyme I shine like Adrock when it (Mmmmhhh... Drrrooppp!)") Iriscience meanwhile shone on the Capleton-assisted "Firepower" and "The Eyes Have It" with veracious, focused lyricism:
"I been a security guard at Guitar Center a food service worker and a telemarketer Dreamin' 'bout goin' to Otis-Parsons or maybe CalArts or even the Arts Center But music was my passion, part of my callin' to hustle year 'round, spring, summer, fall, winter Will stop for nothin', you shouldn't start with us For the people, by the Dilated Peoples, hard hitters"
As their career progressed, one of the most astounding facts about the duo of Rak and Ev was how similar they managed to sound. This streamlining may have come at the expense of developing stronger individual characteristics, at the same time it put them both on the same page, similar to the classic rap duos of old. "20/20" upheld that status to the point where it became routine. Neither did the beats mark any significant departure from their tried-and-true formula, but musically they tightened things further up, preparing themselves for the years to come. (7.5/10)
Cool Songs: Back Again, Olde English, Kindness for Weakness, Firepower (The Tables Have to Turn), 20/20
Miscellaneous Two thirds of Dilated found the time to pursue their solo interests extensively in the '00s. Beat Junkies member DJ Babu put together three volumes of his acclaimed "Duck Season" series, chilled out with Defari as The Likwit Junkies, plus began a production showcase with "The Beat Tape Vol. 1." His partner Evidence has been able to continuously raise his profile as a producer since the late '90s, working with almost everybody in Left Coast hip-hop and contributing substantially to albums by Planet Asia, Defari, Aceyalone and Swollen Members, exposing his naked beats on the "Yellow Tape," "Red Tape," and "Purple Tape Instrumentals." He has also established himself as a solo rapper, which seems wrong mainly because Rakaa failed to do the same, but Ev by himself also lacks that delicate Dilated balance. His solo rap releases "The Weatherman" and "The Layover EP" made the man behind the music emerge, whereas Ev the MC made little progress, unable to escape the label of a rapper who has to try too hard to make an impression. Nonetheless, collectively DP have earned the consideration as Artist of the Decade with plenty of quality contributions to 2K hip-hop. (7/10)
Our returning guest this week on Hip-Hop Shop is Ric Atari a/k/a The Cancer from K4D to catch up on pro wrestling, talk about being a new dad and discuss a little bit of hip-hop! If you like what you hear be sure to e-mail email@example.com with feedback or to get more information about sponsoring the show. Hip-Hop Shop features podsafe music, so give a copy to your friends and tell them to check us out every week at RapReviews.com! PS: Be sure to follow Ric on Twitter too.