The Black Vibes website is reporting that Baatin, famed as a member of popular rap group Slum Village, died yesterday. The passing of Baatin comes right as B had reunited with remaining SV members Elzhi and T3 to record "Villa Manifesto" for a September 22nd release date. SV had just released the single off that album "Cloud 9" with former Floetry member Marsha Ambrosius. Baatin a/k/a Titus Glover was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, all of which contributed to his previous leave of absence from the group. Talib Kweli had this to say on Twitter: "I'm at a loss right now. Hi-Tek was set to dj for Slum Village tonight. RIP Baatin. More influential than you can imagine. Slum Village forever." We'll bring you more details when they are available.
You may remember from the review of The Official Hip-Hop Trading Cards that the RR team was mystified as to why Caktuz..?13 would have a trading card. As it turns out we got a response to that question from none other than Caktuz..?13 himself, and we've reprinted it below.
A diamond in the rough, Caktuz..?13 is a witch’s brew of talent. An accomplished author by the age of 18, he wrote and illustrated his 1st graphic novel noir ‘Futprintz’ for The American Red Cross. As the 1st urban graphic novel focusing on AIDS Awareness, the book, was heavily distributed all over the US and reprinted many times after. Since then Cak..?13'z writing has advanced into screenplays, novels, animation, and storyboard production for commercial and theatrical scripts. Cak..?13 was commissioned by the legendary Melvin Van Peebles to illustrate the feature film adaption of his most recent movie Confessions OfA Ex Dufus Itchy-Footed Mutha. His 2009 induction into the The Official Hip Hop Tarading Card Company's 1st inaugural collection left hip hop fans & industry incumbants baffled as to why they would honor an indie artist whose never held a major deal...in short, "who is Caktuz..?13"..."why him?"
A political prisoner for a crime he did not commit, Caktuz..?13 gave 8 yrs. of his youth to an unforgiving prison system. Never defeated, only inspired, he has since become a rising indie recording artist on his own AMAS Multi-Media label, having worked with such artists as Bilal, dead prez, Boot Camp Clik, SA-RA, The Dey, Brand Nubian, M.O.P., Michael K Williams aka Omar from HBO's Emmy Nominated The Wire, & many more. The grandson of James Brown protege', early soul music legend Johnnie Scotton, Cak..?!3 is a Carolina blues man by blood. His 1st album, the critically acclaimed 2 Hevi 4 Heaven, set Caktuz..?13’z place in the industry as a musical and genre innovator. Creating his own ‘Carolina Bluez’ sound & weaving live performance art into his stage shows.
From music to gracing the Broadway stage with the legendary Melvin Van Peebles, his DRX performance art group raised the energy of the show. Donning the the Musical Director seat, Cak..?13 created & managed Wheat Bread Radio for the lifestyle brand Wheat Bread’s media division, as well as the release of it's 1st album, Bread Breaks Vol.1 & 2. An album executive produced and mixed by Cak..?13.
This country strange fruit is an award winning graphic illustrator/designer, working with virtually all the top designers, such as Ecko, Apple Bottoms, Parish, Timberland, Rocawear/Shady Ltd. Having laced celebs such as Wendy Williams, Queen Latifah, Spike Lee, Chris Brown, & Melvin Van Peebles with his work he has undeniably become heavily sought after by Hollywood. Many corporate clients, such as Smirnoff, DC Comics, TBS, Pepsi, Wal-Mart, have called on Cak..?13 by name.
His on air charisma landed him into the acting spotlight. Cak..?13 or his distinctive voice have appeared in a number of film and television efforts, including his mentor Melvin Van Peebles’ new film, The Eddie Black Story (formerly tittled Deceptz), the controversial semi-biopic on the infamous NYC street gang The Decepticons, & even more films in production now. All this and still more to come. Caktuz..?13 is the poster boy for a multi-media revolution.
RapReviews.com "Artist of the Decade" by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania
I have, realising that this decade is nearly up, 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. Expect everyone else to follow our lead.
Why start the process so early? Well, there is an awful lot to get through. We won't just limit it to the Artist. There will be Album, Producer, Song, Live Act... And that is just the RapReviews staff. We will also have an open public vote like last year – except a LOT bigger this time.
Whilst some will always complain that it won't compare to the 1990's, this has still been a very busy decade. It started off in a blaze of glory for The Neptunes, who dominated the charts in a near-Motown fashion. Then came the Nas/Jay-Z beef, which also ushered in the production careers of Kanye West and Just Blaze. Outkast went crazy, and went diamond. 50 Cent translated his mixtape success into astonishing sales figures and a run of hits that is practically unrivalled in rap. Kanye then launched his assault on the throne with a sequence of LP's that would impress almost anyone. Last year, Lil Wayne took his messiah persona and made history once more, whilst practically tearing up the rulebook. This is all without mentioning 99% of the rappers out there, plus the highest-selling hip hop MC of all time, Eminem.
But, dear Reader, establishing ONE artist/group/album that defines the decade, that DESERVES the crown, that we will look back on in years to come and think, "Yeah, that was a worthy choice..." – this is going to be a difficult process. It could even hinge on an album released before the end of 2009. Imagine if "Before I Self-Destruct" has five mega-hit singles and is a stonewall classic. Imagine that the "Blueprint 3" is as good as the original one! Imagine that "Relapse 2" is another "Marshall Mathers LP" or that Kanye completes his "College..." sequence in stunning style. Hell, what if Nas did an entire album full of J Dilla beats and called it "Dillmatic" or something? Imagine that...
This was the opening decade of a roller-coaster 21st century. I am the proudest of Brits, but without doubt, America has been turned upon its head, the epicentre of global drama. The highest-selling rapper was white, traditionally Caucasian sports such as golf and tennis have been dominated by black athletes and, most astonishingly of all, there is a Black President in the White House. Some of my closest family friends had their house swept away in the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, whilst the then-President Bush did nothing. You might think those to be clichés, but this is a decade that our children will ask us about. "Really, Dad? You remember 9/11? You were out in the streets celebrating Obama's victory? Where were you when Michael Jackson died? What the hell is an iPod? What music did you listen to back then?"
When they ask that final question, you had better be prepared.
Artist of the Decade - Common
It all started so well for Common. His decade begins with an absolute classic – "Like Water For Chocolate" – that was so good, it is probably, along with "Illmatic" and more than the other heavy-hitters, the biggest influence on me, full stop. But Common developed a worrying trend, with his pantheon always sequencing disappointing LP/great LP. That continued into this decade, and, as such, being a Common fan is a lot like being a Nas fan. You know you will always love him as an MC, but you had better be prepared for some disappointment. Couple that with his growing obsession with Hollywood, and it seems that a complete move away from hip hop, in all but name, might just happen.
"For now I appreciate this moment in time Ball-players and actors be knowing my rhymes..."
That line, from "The 6th Sense," was an unhealthy precursor to his career this decade. He seemed in awe that really famous people liked his music. Who the fuck cares? Nas knows that he influenced everyone, but he takes it in his stride. You almost get the feeling that if Common was ugly like the rest of us, he would progressed further as a rapper without the distraction of the silver screen and famous friends... Still, his voice – certainly one of the most naturally blessed voices in hip hop history – and his lyrics always tended to prevail. Let's look at his albums in the Noughties, with unofficial scores that have the benefit of hindsight...
"Like Water For Chocolate" (2000) Such a stunning effort from start to finish, if a touch long. Lyrically, it is exceptional. Vocally, perfect. The combination of an emerging J Dilla (then known as Jay Dee), Questlove, the Soulquarians, DJ Premier... Needless to say, the music was incredible. But, perhaps, more importantly, the subject matter was interesting. He stuck to his guns, and delivered "knowledge" – but not in a cloying, preachy way. There is just so much depth to this album, and, if truth be told, this is probably Common at the absolute peak of his powers. Rap doesn't get much better than this, and this is the album that Jay-Z referred to in "Moment of Clarity" when he said that truthfully, he would like to rhyme like Common Sense. (10/10)
Cool Songs: The Light, The 6th Sense, Geto Heaven, The Questions, Dooinit
"Electric Circus" (2002) Sometimes in music, the name of an album enters the rap dictionary, if you will. It can be a good thing, like "he was on that Ready to Die shit" – or it could, in the opposite sense, be more like an "oh dear, he has had an Electric Circus-moment". Needless to say, Common's hip hop fan base did NOT take kindly to this LP. Ironically, the hipster press liked it more. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, but there is no doubt that this was a disappointment. Musically, it signalled the end of the Soulquarians – it was all downhill from this moment on. Lyrically and conceptually, Common was, for want of a better phrase, led astray. It isn't a BAD album. It just didn't work very well. There is nothing wrong with an artist wanting to experiment, but be sure you can follow it through. (5.0/10)
Cool Songs: Come Close
"Be" (2005) After his "Electric Circus-moment" a lot of people thought that Common was finished. But, to his credit, Kanye West was not one of them. He took hold of his former idol and together, they modelled a comeback album based on "Illmatic." With nine beats from West himself, and two from J Dilla, this was a short burst of sunshine and clouds. It also, thank goodness, happened to be practically perfect in every way. Lyrically, heads were initially disappointed but actually, Common was fantastic – it just took a while to sink in. Musically, this may well be Kanye at his soulful best, and the result flies by. Although not as fascinating or deep as "Like Water For Chocolate," this album was probably much warmer, more accessible and, in the end, easy for ANYONE to like. (9.5/10)
Cool Songs: Pretty much the whole album
"Finding Forever" (2007) Artists like Common sometimes feel trapped by their success. After "Like Water..." – which was well-received critically and commercially – he tried to go completely the other way, and got bollocked. Then, after his return-to-form, he did the opposite. Common (and West) took the template of "Be" and, perhaps in fear of creating another "Electric Circus," just replicated it, almost to the letter. The end result is that, although it is a superficially likeable album with some good music and lyrics, it is, beneath the surface, a shallow, hollow even, and pale imitation of his previous effort. For an artist that trades in soulful, emotional music, this was empty, with Common on autopilot. Of course, the death of his close friend J Dilla could not have helped – and there were still a few moments of quality – but this was still a real disappointment to many. As another critic cleverly put it, this was a Be-minus. (5.5/10)
Cool Songs: The People, I Want You, Southside, The Game, So Far To Go
"Universal Mind Control" (2008) A shocking abomination of an album that started life as an EP, and should have stayed as such. At least with "Electric Circus" Common thought he was doing the right thing. With "UMC" goodness knows what was running through his head. It wasn't even enjoyable as a meaningless experience. It was a groupie sex moment from a rapper that wants to be an actor now. "Disappointing" doesn't even begin to cover it. (3.5/10)
Cool Songs: None
Notable Guest Appearances: "A Dream" (from Freedom Writers OST); "Love of My Life" (Erykah Badu); "Get Em High" (Kanye West); "My Way Home" (Kanye West)
Adam B: "I really don't have anything fancy to say about this episode of The Adam B Experience other than it's freakin dope, so listen to it! All the cool people will be talking about it tomorrow. You wanna be cool, right? Then listen! Hit me up with feedback at AdamB@RapReviews.com." The Adam B Experience is 100% PODSAFE and TOTALLY FREE for listeners at RapReviews.com - no worries about downloading or sharing this show. Tell your friends to check out ABX right here at RapReviews.com!
Hip-Hop Shop is the precursor to K4D every week on Sunday night. Episode 41 features new material from Mr. Dubblup, Soulico featuring Axum and Lyrics Born, the Brown Bag AllStars and more! If you would like to sponsor Hip-Hop Shop please send an e-mail to email@example.com for more information. The Hip-Hop Shop is 100% podsafe so distribute to your friends and tell them to visit RapReviews.com!
* Brown Bag AllStars - Get Ready * iCon the Mic King f/ Awar - Fall From Grace * Mr. Dubblup - Dismiss Yourself * Pseudo Slang - Yes Doubt * Random - The Bailout * Ric Atari - Better Alone * Soulico f/ Axum & Lyrics Born - Put 'Em Up
Artist: Trick Daddy f/ Ice Berg, Murk Camp Title: Why They Jock Label: Dunk Ryders Records
The only single released so far from the upcoming "Finally Famous: Born a Thug Die a Thug," Trick Daddy is back to his roots as the gangster poet of Florida. "What do the future hold? Man I don't know/I just do it keep it hood, and clean it for the radio/Keep on my hater shades, blockin out they hater ways/And keep gettin paid while them broke haters hate." Without Trick Daddy there'd be no Flo Rida, no Plies and no Rick Ross - that's just real talk. Trick moved the Florida rap scene beyond Miami bass and brought a country grammar to rap even Nelly could envy. He may not be as wild as when he first started out but he hasn't gone soft either, and Mizzle Boy's track would fit "Thug Matrimony" or any other album in Trick's catalogue. That catalogue is owned by Slip-N-Slide though, so it will be interesting to see if Trick can push this single and album to mainstream exposure on a much smaller label. Like an old pair of Timbs, Trick Daddy never wears out and just keeps on stompin'.
I have a lot of respect for Streetz & Young Deuces. This group started making noise three years ago out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin - not traditionally a town known for hardcore hip-hop - and have milked every little bit of publicty in trades like The Source and Ozone to inch their way towards the mainstream. S&YD are not overnight celebrities by any stretch - they've hustled HARD and put out a lot of singles to radio and club DJ's to get known. Unfortunately as much as I respect their DIY hustle "I Got Mad Flavor" just doesn't represent their best work. Instead of relying on their own unique sound, producer Young Nova borrows a page from the playbook of GS Boyz and Soulja Boy - a page that should have been torn out and shredded. The drum beat sounds incredibly computerized and fake and Atari 2600 games have had better melodies. Rhyming "altar" and "oughta" annoys me too, as does the unfunny line "you got Clay Aiken money - yeah yo' shit not straight." It would actually be more clever to say "get your money straight like Elton John" and let people ponder the obvious contradiction, but unfortunately for S&YD there's nothing clever, amusing or noteworthy about their "Mad Flavor" here. That's a shame because this group has much more to offer.
Artist: Lil Boosie & Hurricane Title: Bad Azz Hurricane Label: Asylum Records
For a song that's only three minutes long to begin with, it's a shame that Lil Boosie and Hurricane waste the first 20 seconds with non-instrumental machismo that would have been more interesting to a beat. Speaking of beats, producer Gus (no first name or last name - just GUS) is competent here but by no means mind-blowing. His track treads the careful line between bounce, club and crunk without firmly commiting to any of them - keeping the melody to a few notes while adding enough extra layers of keyboard orchestration to keep it from becoming totally stale. The "money thang" here is nothing new though, nor is bragging about "canary and blue diamonds on me." Does anyone think there's a significant portion of today's "swagger" aritsts who are grossly out of touch with the real economy? If not they're just playing the stereotypical role the audience expects regardless of whether they have the wealth they're bragging on. Of the two featured here only Boosie has shown the potential to say and do more, but by sharing a track with Mr. Ay Bay Bay he seems to have been dragged down to the latter's mediocre and cliched level.
Great female emcees are hard to find. Actually great emcees, regardless of gender, are hard to find, but it’s always been especially tough to find a dope lyrical lady. Hopie Spitshard, who hails from the Bay Area, is one of the few I would put in that class. I was put on to her in a very roundabout way. Last month I did an Artist Of The Week feature on Kaz-well and when I was making sure his MySpace link worked I noticed Hopie as one of his top friends. The combination of her look, her name and her association with Kaz-well made me click on her and I’m really glad I did (hey, MySpace does still have a use!). We got to talking, and Twittering, and she sent me a copy of her full length album, The Diamond Dame, to check out. I was impressed, which is why this week I caught up with her to find out about the history of Hopie, how being a part of two minority groups in Hip-Hop affects her, and why what she does in the bedroom is a subject you’ll never hear her rhyme about.
Hello universe!!! I've spent the last couple months doing a lot of self evaluation and growth. It was sparked due to some circumstances and trials I was facing but it ultimately ended up being beneficial. With some situations in life, no matter how difficult they are, we either allow them to rob us of our purpose, passion and personality - or use it to strengthen the foundation of who we are. I've found myself operating with more clarity then I've had in a long time. I'm reading more, exercising more, being more patient and taking life one day at a time. Below are some pretty exciting updates, check it out and hit me back with your feedback.
1. After being on hiatus for almost two full years - I'm bringing back Hiphop IS Music!!!! I had to close the first chapter, and I was literally considering closing down the label permanently. The label was actually very successful right from the jump - but the surrounding circumstances in my life made it to much to handle. As a 24 year old man who didn't graduate high school I was touring with James Brown, running a label, preparing for my first child, paying bills on my first home and managing an increased income of over 7 times what I made in any previous years all at the same time. With a lot of things in my life, I"ve had to learn the hard way. Just sort of jump in the deep end and starting paddling my arms until I learned how to swim. I feel like I have the confidence and humility to continue approaching the record label, even if we remain operating on a small scale. So with that... our next release is right around the corner!!!! The first official solo album from Sojourn (of Future Shock) titled "Sojournalism: The Summer Articles" will be dropping September 1st. Rather then giving you a bunch of info about the record, I'm going to provide you with a link that includes a free mp3 download of the single, the album cover and a text document with the track-list and press release.
Download the file, pass it to your friends, post it on your blogs and all that fun stuff. For press, radio and tastemakers - email me directly and I'll provide you with a link for the entire advance!!! The release date is September 1st 2009. If you'd like to carry this album in your store then hit me up now so that I can prepare your order!!!
2. I will be hosting and performing at the National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam on July 29, 2009. The NFB Youth Slam is the most dynamic gathering of blind youth ever and the largest mentoring program for the blind in the country. This five day leadership academy inspires and engages blind youth in science, technology, engineering, and math subjects. On July 29, the event will feature a talent show with performances from NFB Youth Slam participants and a special guest MC--Braille! Learn more about the National Federation of the Blind at http://www.nfb.org and follow the NFB Youth Slam on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/NFBYouthSlam Location: NFB Jernigan Institute 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore Maryland 21230
This is a huge honor for me and a step I'm excited to take as an ambassador for Braille literacy. You can read more about the event at the link below.
I have sizes S-XXL. the cost is $20 (U.S. Shipping included) and you can pay using paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending check/money order to
Bryan Winchester 18485 sw stepping stone dr. #64 beaverton, or 97006
4. A quick CloudNineteen update. I have continued giving out CDs at all my concerts and by the end of this month we will have reached 15,000 units given away so far. This is halfway towards our goal of 30,000 total. Pretty insane. I definitely feel inspired to start working hard on my next album "Audibly Enhanced Dreams" right now. Hopefully I'll have some new tunes to leak in the next month or so.
5. Two final notes. Me and Nikki just celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary. We plan to start traveling together a lot more, and we both just got new 3G Iphones. So yeah, cool stuff. haha. My tour schedule is rocking for the rest of this month and August. Check out tour dates at braillehiphop.com
also, check me out on twitter. www.twitter.com/braillehiphop - I don't really follow folks yet but if you wanna follow me I'll lead you down as many rabbit trails as possible.
Oh - and before I close out I want to say thank you to my local church community Solid Rock. I feel more connected then ever before, they have walked with me through the last couple months and I'm excited to serve there. You can check them out and even listen to some podcasts at www.ajesuschurch.org