I remember when I got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, it wasn’t nearly as funny, I split my shin and almost cried about it. Planet Asia however is in the business of making my whole experience seem petty, in what’s called a full feature film, we find Planet Asia starring in his first “leading” role, acting that is. From the trailer I’d say this movie will be funny in places it wasn’t supposed to be, but all in all demonstrate how little a budget in the low five figure range will get you in the movie business. It was the soundtrack that caught my eye, with features from Rass Kass, Talib Kweli, Torae and Mistah FAB, I’m betting the soundtracks comes out on top in a sparring session with the flick. Check it.
My initial exposure to Copywrite was not a good one. The first bars I ever heard him spit were two diss tracks towards Asher Roth. While those songs showed that he has a dexterity for rhyming, I just couldn’t hop on board with someone who instigates a beef for the sole reason that they are both white, and one has more shine than the other (deservedly or not). To me, there are so many talented rappers out there that there is no reason to spend time listening to someone who’s personality you aren’t feeling. Despite the fact that I am not an Asher Roth fan in the least bit, the bitterness and jealousy exhibited in those two youtube tracks allowed me to easily erase Copywrite completely from my radar for around two years. Yet over the past month or so, I started seeing his name pop up again, and instead of in reference to some lame ass beef, it was to promote an album that featured some of my favorite MC’s and Producers. The Life and Times of Peter Nelson features Sean Price, Crooked I, Planet Asia, Dilated Peoples, and MF Grimm among others, and is produced by the likes of RJD2, !llmind, Kyhrysis, and DJ Rhettmatic. With a line up like that standing beside an MC, it’s hard not to be interested. Additionally having so many respected artists work with him made me think that my limited exposure to Copywrite didn’t do justice to what he has to offer. There had to be something they saw/heard in him that I didn’t, and after listening to the new album, the appeal now makes a lot more sense.
As the title suggests, The Life and Times of Peter Nelson, is an extremely personal record that pairs top notch lyricism with deep introspection about life, friends, families, relationships, substance abuse, and a slew of other topics. It seems like in approaching this album Copywrite knew that he had a reputation for being an asshole, and he was going to use this opportunity to explain to his audience the shit that he’s been through that has made him that way. He’s not apologetic, but tracks like “Forever and a Day” ft. Middle Distance Runner and produced by RJD2, “Three Story Building” ft. Dilated Peoples and MF Grimm and produced by Twiz The Beat Pro, and “Mother May I” produced by !llmind paint a vivid picture of the difficult and struggle filled upbringing of a white, lower-middle class child, raised by a single mother. Yet the best insight on what makes Copywrite the man he is today has to be “Confessional”, produced by Rob Stern, which also happens to be my favorite track on the album. The melancholy horns and flute in the instrumental set the perfect tone for Copy’s subject matter, in which he addresses the recent death of both parents, the illness of his grandparents, his own struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, and the fact that his personality has lead him into countless confrontations, many of which being physical. It’s one of the most unabashed and open verbal performances I’ve heard this year, matched with the perfect balance of lyricism that stays away from being cryptic so that the stories and points can be heard and understood in their entirety. Yet it must be said that while I enjoyed the candidness of much of Copywrite’s subject matter, there is a ton of the self loathing on this album that has almost become stereotypical of white rappers. The nonstop talk of suicide and wishing he was dead gets redundant. If that’s how he really feels, obviously I fully support him rapping about it rather than actually killing himself, but as a listener the statements about wanting to die get boring and lose their gravity after having to hear about it again and again for nearly an hour and a half.
Looks like San Francisco/The Bay hip-hop is on the proverbial rise. I recall when I was a wee teen, that the only name that I associated with San Francisco was Planet Asia, and Oakland, well that was E-40 country as far as I was concerned. The stylistic disparity between the likes of Forty Water and Planet Asia left me confused and relatively unappreciative of Bay Area rap. Throw in the fact that apart from a Nickatina sighting here and there, I haven’t heard jack out of Nor Cal for a minute. (Ok, we did interview Hopie Spitshard two days ago). I recall Googling “Planet Asia” to take a look see at what I had been missing the past 5 years and stumbled across the Gold Chain Military. The group is more of a collective than a band it seems, bi-coastal at that, but Planet Asia seems to be the spearhead of the GCM movement. The fusion of styles in GCM is their defining quality, it comes across as unforced and the flow patterns don’t clash between the various emcee’s. I can officially say I’m paying attention to the Yay Area again.
When you’re a fan of an emcee, sometimes you have to hunt for tracks. Shit, even when dude is your homie, which I very much consider SK to be. Found this one today, pretty hot off the press, The Closers new mixtape, Bullpen Sessions. It’s only one verse on one track on one mixtape, but it’s pure fiyah, braaaap… Singapore Kane wha!
The underground hip hop scene is thriving in California. By underground I refer to a collection of artists that radio exclusive listeners will be unfamiliar with, perhaps the music is too gangsta or not enough, either way, no radio recognition for the underground. With the economy of the music industry drastically shifting to newer more creative consumption platforms, the underground rapper is beginning to enjoy the playing field being leveled. Tours and sponsorship have once again become the path to monetary success, and that’s one thing that the indie rappers have on lock. California underground kings Strong Arm Steady find themselves in the middle of the resurgence, and have teamed up with MadLib for their next project titled, Stoney Jackson. Check out some early leaks.
Strong Arm Steady-Get Started (Feat.Talib Kweli)(Prod. By Madlib)
Strong Arm Steady – Loose Girl (Feat. The Jacka) (Prod. By Madlib)
This album will feature a myriad of underground bredren, such as: Talib Kweli, Guilty Simpson, Little Brother’s Phonte, and Planet Asia. Strong Arm Steady has worked with Madlib on projects in the past and should find his beats cooked to perfection. Madlib is a master when it comes to tailor-made collaborations, some strong examples include: 2003’s Jaylib with J Dilla and 2004’s Madvillain with DOOM, as well as the Talib Kweli/Madlib album Liberation. This project was spawned by J.Rocc, Madlib’s trusty DJ, having given the Strong Arm gang a fortnight of beats catered for the rowdy clique.
At first glance Fashawn’s story would seem pretty typical. Growing up in Central California, Fashawn, or Santiago Leyva, was typically challenged with temptations of vice and violence. A product of boredom and economic hardship, Fresno is home to over 100 street gangs, and drug use is rampant. Fashawn’s mother was an addict and all the reasons in the world were there for Fashawn to fail at life whilst attempting to succeed on the street. However, rather than participate, Fashawn took an active role in documenting the life around him, his medium to do so was the old ink and pad. After catching the attention of fellow Fresno rapper Planet Asia, Fashawn went on tour, he was 17 at the time. He has since moved to Los Angeles and teamed up with So Cal indie stalwarts such as Exile and Evidence. Yesterday, Fashawn dropped his debut LP, titled “Boy Meets World”, produced entirely by Exile. I’ve been listening to this album for a week and can attest to the following: Fashawn’s new album is sonic excellence. Rap is back in L.A., even if the buck paused in Fresno for a bit. Check out some of the tracks on the LP and the lead music video. My review is after the jump.