Jackin Jill

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I shall not front. This post is inspired by the fact that it’s International Woman’s Day. Fittingly, this track from Mello Music Group emcee Substantial is a part of a dedication album to the illustrious Jill Scott, a woman worthy of recognition on all 365 days frankly. The tribute project is called “Jackin’ Jill“, very witty title indeed. If this track is a good indicator of how the rest of the project is composed, it’s safe to say Mello Music found themselves a goodie with this MC. Substantial has a hell of a back story, one that is punctuated with his battle with cancer, I included that verbiage after the jump, inspiration all around on this joint.

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High End Theory

Angelino’s are stupidly spoiled with options when it comes to live music. There’s hardly a night that goes by in this town where you can’t satiate your appetite for a good live show. Low End Theory surely sits at the very zenith of the town’s hierarchy, the weekly show consistently packs The Airliner. Flying Lotus still regularly attends and this week he brought a few high profile special guests. Not a Mac Miller fan, but Earl Sweatshirt is on a serious come up.

Beats, Rhymes, Life

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1. Freestyles are for mic holders. Rap songs are for just about anybody with a friend who can bear recording them. Mistah F.A.B. has impressed Bay Area hip hop heads for years with his ability to spit relevant rhymes straight off the dome top. Here he is at a recent sneaker head event in the Bay. Fancy word play with a plethora of sneaker references, yes please.

2. The darker the berry….So Kendrick Lamar specifically requested for Brittany Sky to star in his recent music video, Poetic Justice. As Kendrick put it recently, “We had another girl for the lead but I had an idea where I just wanted a little bit of a darker tone [girl] in the video, It’s almost like a color blind industry where there’s only one type of appeal to the camera,” he said. Yeah, and that’s one Eurocentric type, lighter is clearly better in the eyes of countless rappers and their production squads. It’s very apparent her skin wasn’t the only aesthetic feature that got her the gig, it’s not like Kendrick went out on a limb here! And is it just me, or is this a pretty loose definition of a “dark skinned girl”?

britsky3. Fountain of youth. DJ Premier is the rap game’s equivalent of Michael Jordan. By that I mean, regardless of how much time passes, new generations of artists are aware and are very much in awe of the accomplishments of Premo. And just like new ballers still want to rock some fresh new Jordan’s, young cats in the know are looking to work with Premier. Here’s ZIF fave Joey Bada$$ being introduced to the producer extraordinaire, aptly showing the appropriate humility.

4. Ballers want to be rappers. Here’s the most recent example of sport imitating rap, this one brought to you by Kentucky basketball’s most alliterative player, Nerlens Noel. The star freshman who suffered a devastating injury that has sidelined him for the latter part of their season seemingly had some free time and released a song called “Number 9″ with a local rapper and Kentucky fan named Wes Grams. It’s as terrible as Kentucky’s chances at reaching the tourney this year.

5. Finally, it dropped. The album I’ve been hyping not so subtly for months from The Doppelgangaz was released two days ago. First listen impressions are usually the ones that count, and mine was pure enjoyment. This is rap music I’m going to proudly share with all of my non-rap listening friends, not that they’ll listen to it, said rap music is for hip hop fans, this album won’t turn you onto the genre. But if you’re yearning for more than what your favorite major is telling you that you like, start with HARK.

ZIF Video Of The Week: SENA DAGADU: Extra Large feat. M3NSA

My goodness, what a Fokn great video. By now you’ve heard us speak about the illustrious Fokn Bois a few times, whether it be their immigration concerns or their knack for ostracizing Nigerians, their ability to entertain would make General Maximus Decimus Meridius green with envy. I hardly ever come across any project they’re associated with and leave without being thoroughly impressed. As for this video, it features M3NSA and I believe it was directed by Wanlov (so it’s Fokn Boi’d out!), as for Sena Dagadu, my knowledge is limited, she seems to live in Hungary but clearly is Ghanaian. What I love about this video is something that I attribute to much of their material, it simply shines, it engages you and drops you off in happy land. The final shot of the set in Accra is a lovely reminder that in 2013, artists don’t need to be in a major media center to create broadcast quality art.

Overall Grade: A -

The Doppelgangaz X Some Cow Shit

This is my 3rd or 4th public service announcement about this group and their pending release, Hark (March 12th), can you tell I’m excited? I must say this video was “meh” at best, though I can see how for a couple of emcees out of New York this conceptualized well on paper. In my experience with video shoots, I know that location is imperative, and hard to reach locations are paramount. Nevertheless, I haven’t been this giddy about a New York based hip hop release since Papoose. Oops, I hope I didn’t just jinx it.

Overall Grade: B-

Freddie From Gary Talking About Mike From Gary

Freddie Gibbs is from Gary, Indiana, so was the Jackson Family. When I first heard Gibbs, he was in the business of constantly referring to his Gary roots despite his displacement to the City of Angels. I wondered if he was in a perpetual state of internal strife, battling the unrealistic bar that had been set by the Jackson clan decades ago. I pictured him bumping  MJ in his ipod holding a sign saying “Hollywood or Bust” at the local Greyhound station in Gary. Then of course I got swept away by his music, for the record, I deem him to be the most underrated rapper (currently unsigned) with major label appeal out there. His smooth voice is paralleled by his effortless flow pattern which is laced with precision lyrical content. I’ve said this before, but Freddie Gibbs is the quintessential “your rapper’s favorite rapper”, he’s so on point, you’ll forget that he came from a small town in the Midwest famous for birthing Michael Jackson….until now…

Dark Time Sunshine Simplify Video Making

Because when the music speaks for itself, you don’t need more than a couch to make a music video. Dark Time Sunshine has been blipping our radar for the past year or so, Aesop for the past 15. But it’s Swamburger who’s got my favorite verse on this one, got that Mystikal spitfire flow that just demands an energetic reaction.

Good music right here.

Overall Grade: B+

Poetic Justice

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I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the fact that Drake was tagged to feature on this track, or the fact that fans think he “saved” this song (see comments on YouTube). The difference between these two artists is epitomized by the visuals they were associated with in this video. Drake, in a hotel room with a big booty call on the bed, Kendrick Lamar, appearing as a shot up corpse laying on top of his dead girlfriend. Skirt steak and filet mignon.

Overall Grade: B-

Genre Setting by Top Bananas

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Looks like the heat wave that hit Los Angeles today can be applied to its artists as well. ZIF fave Top Bananas drops a remix worthy of starting your weekend off with. I don’t know much about Alex Clare, however, the track has that hard to define sound that has come to define TB’s releases. Apparently this remix was the first track that fit into the genre “FARnB” that was started by the man himself. I’ve heard nothing of this, but considering my appreciation of Top Bananas and his proximity to our HQ, I’ll be sure to ask.

Blog Love (Shit’s Easy)

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Disclaimer, this may be the worst song we’ve ever posted (probably not, but up there). When sitting down with an aspiring artist, discussions often revolve around logistical problems, one such obstacle seems to be ‘getting out there’. What concepts are going to make them distinct enough to get some attention among the masses? Here’s an idea, pick a holiday, make a track about it. I recall sitting down with Singapore Kane and telling him that putting out a MLK tribute track on MLK Day would be a good look, especially in a SEO sense. Well, kudos to artist, Nyemiah Supreme, your track about dismissing love just got some, see, shit’s easy son.

Oh, and I don’t mean to utterly dismiss this artist, I listened to some other material, and frankly some of her tracks sound eerily like Azealia Banks, that’s good, right?

Love (and crap) Is In The Air

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Wow, there is a lot of Valentines themed crap out there today on the interwebs. Blu dedicated a mixtape to the theme and countless others are releasing tracks or thoughts that just ooze ‘love’. This track from The Black Opera gets a little deeper with the whole concept that is love, breaking down the subjective dialogues that occur within all of us when assessing our partners to/that be. This track probably won’t be playing in the background when you’re sitting down for dinner tonight or the festivities afterwards, but then again, who wants to be that guy? Go break the mode, sit down with your significant other, listen to the track, and discuss your own inner thoughts about your own so-called love. While your parents listen to White Opera tonight, why not go Black, you’ve been a rebel since you left the crib, act accordingly.

Ain’t Nobody Trying To Kill Your Vibe (Sheesh)

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I know very little about British outfit, The Confect. Their social media presence seems to want to keep it that way, mysterious stuff. However, I know that their name is short for ‘confectionery’ which means candy shop in British (eat your heart out Fitty). Fittingly they have sweet taste (zing) as epitomized by some of their remix choices, including this King Kendrick banger. British acts with some eclectic flair and an appreciation of American pop tend to do well (see The XX, Jai Paul, Ellie Goulding, Kano), look out for future work hitting your Spotify lists soon.

ZIF Video Of The Week: Quelle Chris – Rat Shit

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Detroit bred, now Cali bound rapper Quelle Chris left some of us puzzled when he signed his deal with Mello Music Group. I can say that I was curious whether they would be able surround Quelle with the right mixture of quality and youthful exuberance. Needless to say that Quelle seems to be enjoying himself. Not sure where this track ends up or if it’s just a random release, however, I’m pleased that somebody went in on the concept of ratchet (nice word play Quelle), that word is getting utterly abused out there.

Let’s Be Frank-N-Dank

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So any given hip hop DJ will laud the utility of some good ol’ instrumentals on vinyl. It allows them to showcase their skills on the wheels of steel without being drowned out by an overzealous emcee. When it comes to instrumentals, J Dilla be the holy grail. So it comes as no surprise that the previously unreleased instrumentals off Frank-N-Dank’s “48 Hours” LP was met with much consumer joy. You can pick up the product in the Stones Throw online store. My concern is the verbiage accompanying the product in the store, here’s some of what I’m talking about:

J Dilla spearheaded a project for two of the most unlikely major label emcees: Frank N Dank. In retrospect it’s not hard to understand why the label shelved and eventually dropped the project.

I get it, I get it. Frank N Dank weren’t The Roots, and they weren’t Mobb Deep. But I was bumping their bootlegs and so were countless others (and this was in Toronto, Canada). Frank N Dank composed of Frank Nitty & Dankery Harv were grimey spitters married to their style and their way of doing things. This ostracized some but made a plethora of hip hop fans ecstatic anytime a random FND track got some airplay. Their involvement in the Detroit hip hop movement inspired a slew of rappers to follow, and gave a vital co-sign to some Canadian artists who now drive luxury cars (ahem, Kardinall & Saukrates).

So please do celebrate this release, Dilla was a genius, and this was one of his finest works. But let’s not use this as an opportunity to subtly blame a couple of uncelebrated dope emcees for causing the delay.