The Lusciously Savage Big Boi [Album Preview]

big-boi-4My favorite Outkast rapper should be your favorite Outkast rapper. Said rapper is dropping his new album on December 11th, I’ve been giving it a thorough listen prior to officially reviewing it. For those of you who can’t wait for the album or my review (guffaw, guffaw), you can check Big Boi on Jimmy Fallon tonight performing a track with Little Dragon (who are featured on 3 tracks on the album). And here’s 3 tracks off Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors for your listening pleasure.

apple of my eye

upbeat track which sounds a little like a volkswagon commercial, indie crooner on the hook, Big Boi’s composition as usual is unique, funny thing is this track sounds more Andre 3000 than classic Big Boi, big band feel

Thom Pettie featuring Little Dragon & Killer Mike

Killer Mike is a must feature on any future Dungeon Family product. The Little Dragon connection was a wonderful suprise, this combination flat out works!

Higher Res featuring Jai Paul & Little Dragon

Speaking of surprises, a Jai Paul feature!!! WTF! Dude is one of the most played artists on Spotify and he’s dropped like two tracks ever! This co-sign proves what we already knew, Big Boi was not given enough credit for his musical prowess in regards to Outkast’s sound.

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The Guild: The Guilded Age [Review]

Let me be the first to declare my bias, Takstar is my boy, and I’ve always been a fan of his music, casual and professional. Ok, now read my lips: The Guild is dope. This eclectic group of familiars (Dun Dudnik, Takstar, Sean Blaze, Yuri Beats) from NY/Philly put together a complex sound here,  it’s instrument heavy with some samples that take you back to your favorite rainy college day memories. The track “Beach Bitch” stands out, some solid play there, not sure who’s playing what, but sounds crisp. They get some somewhat cliche raps out of some unknowns, That Kid CG sounds oh so NYC on “Space Children”, and Big Baby Ghandi gets the pseudo-celebrity nod and delivers a random but punch line heavy set of rhymes that he is literally reading off his pad. No, it’s not the rappers that make this hip-hop (can I call it that?) album stand out. It’s the fact that all of these guys are clearly in tune with their own sonic creativity and are first and foremost skilled musicians. Sheet readers if you will, dudes that probably stretched out their early years of music lessons while you were too busy moving on to Pop Warner or whatever. Admittedly, I felt at times this independence seemed to clash on this project, leaving you somewhat uncertain if there was a mandate or theme to this project. But that’s to be expected from a battery of brains, and overall you are left feeling pretty damn special about stumbling across this group. Peep “Gaytara”, this is that music is eclectic shit (someone call KCRW, STAT). The end of the album is packaged tight with a haphazard NBA reference and oh look a solid remix from the highly lauded Xaphoon Jones. Get this and tell your friends, you’ll probably be that guy who told them about this. Shit is free yo. Here!

Munch on Monch’s Bullet [Review]

Speaking like a President from the bullets point of view, Pharoahe Monch lays down this beautifully produced and perfectly political banger. In the midst of feigned excitement over 2 party politics, this first single can give hip hop fans confidence about the platform of the Pharoahe’s anticipated album PTSD.

For Pharoahe Monch fans, the single ends the story of this personified bullet  begun with the tracks Stray Bullet and When the Gun Draws (video below).
During a time when I can’t seem to get the voices of presidential hopefuls out of my head due to millions of dollars in campaigns and constant news coverage, it is nice to be able to play tracks like these loud and hope the beats get stuck to drown out the propaganda. Been a fan of Mr. Monch and his anti-establishment stylings since the days of Soundbombing & will be happy to check the full album when it drops. Until then, show your support by purchasing the single on iTunes.

Follow the man on Twitter @pharoahemonche

Kisses & Bullets – Lady T

Denmark Vessey – I’d Rather Be Makin Bread [Review]

Twenty seconds into the first track I realized I’d been nodding my head like a bobble-head doll and I haven’t heard a verse yet. Yes, Denmark Vessey can craft a dope beat, those of you unfamiliar may want to check out his production for Danny Brown or Quelle Christopher respectively. Denmark’s production is in many way quintessential Detroit material, I don’t know how to phrase this perfectly, but it sounds like he actually has a band at his disposal. Lyrically, I like how he keeps things low-key, he’s not trying to convince you to change your political affiliation or to buy into a movement, he lets his beats drive the track and invites lyrics along for the ride. On the previously released “Murder feat. Scud One” steel drums punctuate the static sound of vinyl spinning setting up a stripped down but eclectic canvas for the two emcees to spit about pretty much anything. Again, I must emphasize, when listening to this, it’s pretty much impossible to not bump your head to the beat. Rhythmically this EP is like French butter, the following track, “Stress”, clashes big band with classic hip hop, horns meet vinyl scratches on a classic boom bap beat. If there’s anything to Denmark’s music that makes it uniquely his, it’s his commitment to experimenting with simplicity, these are clearly beats he enjoyed making and he’s not looking to tarnish it up with overbearing lyrics about how swagged out his crew can get at your favorite watering hole. Denmark Vessey is paving his own path all while maximizing on the opportunity that Dilla created for soundsmiths from the D. I know he’s not making the kind of dollars that inspires envy, but we sure are pleased that he’s making beats.

Follow the whereabouts and sounds of Denmark Vessey @DenmarkV313

Cop the extremely affordable EP for less than a Subway footlong here.

 

H.W. – Wall Papered Exit Wounds [Review]

If you’ve listened to rap music for the past 15 years or so you’ll know that the criteria and qualities we attribute to the genre has dramatically changed, almost on an annual basis. You’ll also know that under the rap umbrella, there are countless genres with respective sub-genres. Okay, that being said, when listening to Hazardous Wastes aka H.W. I struggled to find a genre I could neatly place him in. Off the bat the Boston-based emcee starts his latest album with an emotionally laced narrative over a classic serenity beat, so I think emo-rap, right? A couple of tracks later on “Brutally Beautiful” H.W. spits another impassioned monologue about love and its inevitable crossing with ugliness. I’m a fan of the beat, a haunting vocal sample with the highly talented Emoh Betta providing some well placed cuts, this is a good hip hop track, and I’m still thinking emo-rapper. Ah, the next track, “Hello Stranger”, is a journey down relationship memory lane (Melissa is it?), H.W. rides a whip-friendly cruising track, not sure why but this reminded me of SkyZoo, more dope cuts from EB. Okay, so that’s pretty much the first half of the album, and I’m inundated with emotions, so why the discomfort with placing him in said genre? Well, I looked up the definition for “emo-rap” online and found this: “For rappers, ‘Emo’tions are a vulnerability in the armor of dominance.”

See, after listening to this album I can tell you H.W. puts his vulnerability out there, manifested through his emotions. However, there is no chink in any armor here, this is what his music is about, in life we struggle, we overcome, we evolve. That’s what this album is about, and that’s why I’m more comfortable calling him an emcee than a “something” rapper. His wordplay on the album is witty enough to catch yourself smiling to yourself a few times, and his passion is inspiring at the very least. He shows a lot of pride for his hometown Boston on the last track “This Old Town”, specifically expressing his undying commitment to not simply disembark from it. He successfully connects the listener to that experience, making it a bit of a small town anthem for that proverbial kid rapping in front of his computer thinking about how much better other cities may be.

Overall, this 7 track album is not going to redefine your relationship with any genre nor will it sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before, there is familiarity here, this is still vintage hip hop. But it will introduce to an intelligent wordsmith with a life that he doesn’t mind genuinely sharing with you, that’s worth the listen alone.

As far as purchasing goes, H.W. has smartly packaged the download with a product bundle, for $17 you get a shirt of a typewriter with lyrics from the song Faded Memories, along with a 11×17 Poster designed by Hyphenate (Hyphenate.me). The poster is actually pretty dope, and you can check EB modelling the shirt on the Bandcamp.

Follow the wherabouts of Josh aka HW on Twitter, @joshhw.

Bluku Bluku, And Other D Double E Noise (Review)

Having spent the past few weeks in the Commonwealth I figured why not take a listen to a Canadian artist and review it . Well, that was easier thought of than done, sorry Canada, I’m not saying that there are not legitimate artists here, but your rappers are hurting now, and no, I will not listen to Classified. If you just peeped that Classified video, I’m sure we can say that I’m not completely unjustified in my harsh dismissal of the Canuck rap game, but it did result in me looking eastward across the Atlantic, where I stumbled across one of my favorite emcees from when Grime was God and Dizzee Rascal was the coming of Christ, I’m talking about D Double E. The Newham General has entertained club crowds for years, generating blood thirst from the thuggies attracted to his gun clap no-nonsense, whilst simultaneously wooing girls close to stage with his unique intonations and quite frankly, a little cheek. He has recently dropped a new EP titled Bluku Bluku, and yes Dizzee Rascal is on the project, track one in fact.

Bluku! Bluku! (feat. Dizzee Rascal)

The track is only seven tracks, and thankfully D Double E demonstrates more value on the rest of the project than his shared spotlight with Dizzee. To me the first track is a deference track, one where D Double E delivers a safe performance remnant of countless Rinse.FM freestyles, this always happens when a cleanup hitter is in the batters deck (sorry cricket fans). Dizzee brings it though, surprised to hear him on a hard beat like this, he’s been doing that funky house/pop thing so well [insert sardonic emoticon]

Lyrical Farda

Is D Double E the lyrical ‘farda’ of all of Grime’s children? No Timmy Westwood, assuredly not, but he does kill this track, specifically his ability to ride this beat with dead on delivery, his infamous emphasized tonality very much in play. Every bass hit is like a ballista, quickly followed with a powerful spear of lyrics, as he then slips into one of his better hooks.

Put Your Money On It

This track has a hook worth playing back just to hear the man fit all those damn words into it, but apart from that, I think this one was slippin’ a bit. Punitive repercussion, no DL link provided here for that one.

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DJ Shadow gotta rokk, but not until September.

As the beat resonates, flashing from one ear bud to the next like the monotone on a child’s piano, I realize, Shadow is serious, he’s got to rock. Enter the sampling, ah, his personal strength, Shadow has made a living digging in crates in black holes passing off as record store basements. I’m listening to this track:

I Gotta Rokk (LP Version)

It’s the first track off DJ Shadow‘s EP, which is nothing more than a preview of some tracks featured on an LP titled The Less You Know The Better set for a September 5th release. The EP features three singles off the LP, and some remixes of the three. My personal choice is the remix for “I’ve Been Trying”, aptly called:

I’ve Been Trying (Various ‘I’m Done Trying’ Mix)

The cornucopia of sounds varying from DNB to Low End Electro reminds the listener (me) that Shadow is literally a museum of sonic knowledge. I listen to his music and all I can think is Library of Congress, a bounty of sporadic, spicy and diverse sounds. He mentioned on his website that this will hopefully stave off demand until the LP drops on September 5th, but if anything this wets an appetite, I call these releases “spring rolls”, I’m ready for my chow mein.

Here’s one more roll:

Def Surrounds Us (LP Version)

Doggumentary Flies Air New Zealand [Album Listen-A-Long]

In preparation of listening to this not yet released album, I suggest you bring two things: some weed (obvs) and an extremely open mind regarding the plight/development of Snoop D Double Gizzle. This album is Snoop’s 11th studio album, which is a congratulatory achievement, however, hold your applause for this album. This album was supposed to be titled Doggystyle 2, which I would have preferred, primarily because it is likely that he would have had to pay some tribute to the first album and fans from that era, whereas this album appears to be another stab at maintaining contemporary relevance. Listen, and if you disagree, feel free to buy the album starting March 29th.

Toyz N Da Hood Ft. Bootsy Collins

The Way Life Used To Be

My Own Way Ft. Mr. Porter

Wonder What I Do Ft. Uncle Chucc

My Fucn House Ft. Young Jeezy And E-40

Tracks 1-5: Well, track 3, a classic west coast beat, ride to S-L-O bumping this shit, classic modern Snoop. Track 4, back to that old school shit, the album is too flip floppy already for me, this song screams 1994. Track 5, pure Jeezy, not a Snoop track, he sounds forced on this one, and yes, a little old.

In a collaboration with Air New Zealand’s mascot, Rico, Snoop has decided to take his promotional tour for the album to one of the smallest markets in the world, hmmm, sensible?

Listen to the rest of the album, post JUMP! Oh, and my favorite tracks are 3, 16-19.

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(O)verly (D)edicated To Screw [Album Review]

I’ve always been a fan of chopped and screwed music. Although since I’m not from Texas, I have met practically no one else in existence that shares my liking of slowed down hip-hop. I think this could largely be due to the fact that although the music is a Southern phenomenon, a lot of Southern hip-hop is probably not best suited for the slowed down treatment. For one, the biggest draw to Southern rap is that most of the beats make you want to knock someone the fuck out. If they slow them down to the pace of a tortoise, all that aggression is lost. Then add to the fact that a lot of MC’s who get their music chopped and screwed unfortunately have simple ass rhymes, and slowing those down adds even more attention to the fact that practically no time or effort was put into writing the lyrics. With that in mind, I have been arguing for a while that chopped and screwed needs to spread it reaches further within hip-hop for it’s full potential to be explored. While a lot of club bangers shouldn’t be slowed down, it could have an interesting effect on more laid back instrumentals, a lá Dr. Dre’s “Exxplosive”. Similarly, while there is no need to over emphasize the lyrics of Young Joc, what about slowing down the bars of some truly complex MC’s? What would it sound like to hear Bone Thugs, Tech N9ne, early Outkast,  and even a Percee P or Jurassic 5, at a rate in which the average ear can fully recognize and appreciate the words being spat? My guess is that a lot more hip-hop fans would be converted to the chopped and screwed trend.

Well, finally we have a way to judge my hypothesis. This weekend, OG Ron C and DJ Candlestick, some of the originators of Texas’ Swisha House label, released a free chopped and screwed version of Kendrick Lamar’s most recent tape, (O)verly (D)edicated . This came totally out of left field for me. For one Kendrick isn’t a Southern MC, so you don’t expect Southern DJ’s to choose his project out of the immensity of quality music that has been released recently. Also, his style is so different, and more straight ahead hip-hop than most artists who get screwed. Yet on the other hand, after the release of OD, and the news that Kendrick is the new lyrical apprentice of Dr. Dre, it seems the whole country is starting to recognize how much of an incredible talent he really is.

Opposites Attract (Tomorrow W/O Her)

With that in mind, I think this project has mixed results. I don’t  want to get into a full on review of the merits of each song, because you can get that from my write up of the original OD, that I did when the project first came out. Instead, just looking at the effect of being chopped and screwed there are some ups and downs. At it’s best, hearing some of Kendrick’s most complex rhymes slowed down a few bpm’s allows you as a listener to fully catch and comprehend the meaning of his words. On songs like “Ignorance Is Bliss”, his flow is so crazy that I would get sucked into focusing on the cadence, but wouldn’t fully appreciate the meaning of the words being rapped. Yet when it’s decelerated, the average listener is able to absorb and appreciate that the message is incredible as well. Additionally, on tracks that have a more subdued mood like “Opposites Attract (Tomorrow W/O Her)” and “Cut You Off (To Get Closer)”, the decrease in tempo seems to enhance the reclusive and contemplative ambience that the music exudes. The first time I listened to this tape I was driving in the rain, and the slowed down version of these tracks seemed to match the aura of a cold and lethargic rainy afternoon in the city perfectly.

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Evidence Don’t Need No Love [Album Review]

 

Note: I meant to post this review a while back, but got caught up with the holidays. So while it may be a little dated, the project is dope enough that it more than deserves a post from me and a listen from you.

Despite a huge push from the media, I’m not excited about the Beatles’ move to Itunes in the least bit. For one, I hate buying music off of Itunes. Besides the fact that it takes all the fun out of digging, what happens if my computer/hard drive get’s stollen or destroyed? From personal experience, it’s much worse than getting a couple CD’s stolen or scratched. Secondly, I already own most of the Beatles catalog, and if you call yourself a fan of music, and you don’t have a ton of The Beatles, well that’s just embarrassing. They’re only the most culturally important musical group of all time. Without having to list all of the accomplishments that they had, and the insanity they caused while together as a band, take a moment to realize it’s been 40 years since they broke up, and they’re still all over T.V., the radio, getting written up in practically every major publication (whether dedicated to music or not), they have their own god damn video game, and the list goes on. Ridiculous.

Yet, there’s also a part of me that feels like I should look on the bright side about this. In a time when popular music seems severely lacking in creativity, it’s good to be reminded that there is still a fan base that genuinely appreciates innovative and quality musicianship, to the extent that they’re willing to actually pay money for it. Additionally, our recent, extremely toned down version of Beatles mania has already inspired other musicians in a tangible manner.

This month, Evidence of Dilated Peoples, and Twiz The Beat Pro, released a free, Beatles inspired project, entitled I Don’t Need Love. Much like the famed Gray Album mash up, I Don’t Need Love features a pairing of one MC and one sample based producer, utilizing strictly Beatles samples. Yet while the Gray Album was essentially a remix project from Danger Mouse, this album is an actual collaboration between Evidence and Twiz. Additionally, while Danger Mouse limited himself to just The Beatles’ White Album, Twiz took advantage of the entire Beatles catalog. The result of which turns out to be one hell of a release.

The thing that impressed me the most about this project was the production by Twiz The Beat Pro. Since Evidence himself is an ill and seasoned producer, he has a great ear for beats, and all of his albums have dope production whether it’s provided by himself or his homies. Yet at the same time, one would guess that if he was going to do a one MC, one producer project, it would most likely be with one of his high profile friends like The Alchemist, DJ Babu, or Sid Roams. Yet instead, Ev took a chance on a relatively new guy, and it paid off. I was first introduced to Twiz’s music just a few weeks ago when I was reviewing Copywrite’s The Life and Times of Peter Nelson. In that review I wrote that I was surprised by Twiz’s ability to stand out amongst veteran beatsmiths  like RJD2, Khyrsis, and !llmind. After this project I would say his ability to provide top of the line production has been proven once again.

Because (Produced by Twiz The Beat Pro)

From start to finish, Twiz provides Evidence with straight ahead bangers. On tracks like “Because” and “Think’n Bout Thinking” ft. Fashawn, he’s able to combine Paul, John, and George’s ethereal vocal harmonies with heavy drums and thick bass lines to create genuine head nodders. Then when it comes to dealing with The Beatles classics, he’s able to let his creativity loose, and turn those tracks into something completely different and brand new. On “Let The Beat Flip”, if I didn’t have the background knowledge that every track would sample The Beatles, I most likely would not have been able to recognize the usage of elements from “Eleanor Rigby” (obviously that’s not considering the introduction). On the flips side, his transformation of “Come Together” into “Frame Of Mind” doesn’t attempt to hide the sample, yet still creates a song that stands on it’s own and sounds novel. This is a case in which knowing where the sample comes from enhances your opinion of the beat. While I see the stagnancy of the “Lines Of Cocaine” instrumental as Twiz’s one misstep, it is more than compensated for when Twiz is able to consistently provide hard hitting tracks like “If They Only Knew”. His work on this project, combined with what he did for Copywrite’s album, is enough to make me look forward to purchasing Twiz The Beat Pro’s collaboration album with MF Grimm, as well as to actively keep my eye out for future music involving his production.

If They Only Knew (Produced by Twiz The Beat Pro)

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Netta Brielle – Love, Pain, & Music [Review]

Although Hip-Hop and R&B have an inseparable connection to each other, it’s interesting to note the differences in how acts from each genre are talked about, presented, and judged. One of the biggest distinctions that I’ve noticed over the past few years is that in Hip-Hop, for better or worse, MC’s and producers can never escape from having a public identity that is attached to the region from which they came from. Despite doing music for Nas, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Eminem, Young Buck, Scarface, Big Pun, Busta Rhymes, Raekwon, Devin The Dude and tons of other people from all over the country, Dr. Dre will always be considered a West Coast producer with a West Coast sound. It doesn’t matter what he does musically anymore, that’s just how he will forever be perceived. The same can be said for the above MC’s: despite working with producers and rappers from every coast, everything Jay-Z does is New York from top to bottom. It’ll never change, that’s just part of his identity. Yet that is not the case for R&B singers. Nobody has ever accused Beyoncé or Usher of having a Texas sound to their music. Personally, I think that a lot of this is due to the fact that rappers endlessly talk about where they’re from in their music, but unless your Alicia Keys singing a hook on a Jay-Z track, singers don’t really sing specifically about their home towns. In my opinion, this gives them a more universal appeal that has allowed artists like Mary J Blige to blow up across the world (she doesn’t have a single album or song title that mentions New York).

Not surprisingly this same phenomenon exists in The Bay. While our rap is so oriented specifically to where we’re from, and often times people in Northern California are fans of mediocre MC’s solely due to the fact that they rep the Bay hell of hard, there doesn’t seem to be any regional pride attached to our singers. As a result often times it is completely over looked that the Bay Area has had and continues to have a thriving R&B scene that has garnered millions of fans world wide. Most people (some even in The Bay Area) have no idea that En Vogue, Tony! Toni! Toné! (and thus Raphael Saadiq), or more recently Keyshia Cole and Goapele, are all from Oakland. This is largely because for the most part they don’t mention where they are from in their music, which has kept them from being put in that “Bay Area” box.

I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this issue. On the one hand I take genuine pride in where I’m from, and I love to see talented people do the same, but on the other I think undying loyalty to our region is pretty uninteresting and not relatable to the rest of the country/world, and therefore is a large reason why truly talented rappers never make it out of the Bay. I guess for me, if you’re from the same general vicinity as I am, and you are genuinely talented, I’m going to rep you whether you rep our home or not.

That ridiculously wordy introduction is relevant, because today I’m writing about Netta Brielle’s newest mixtape Love, Pain, & Music, which she is giving away for free at her bandcamp page: www.nettabrielle.bandcamp.com. For those not in the know, Netta is a bay area R&B singer that balances her universal appeal and the influence of where she’s from better than most. While you won’t hear her belting out odes to her home town of Berkeley, she does utilize the talents of many of the best local producers The Bay has to offer including: Traxamillion, Bedrock, and Money Alwayz, and you will find her doing remixes to local favorites like The Jacka’s Traxamillion produced hit “Glamorous Lifestyle”, singing hooks for local MC’s like Oakland’s Fly Street Gang, playing the lead role in Erk Tha Jerk’s video for “The Perfect Mistake” , and doing a grip of shows at local venues like The New Parish. That balance, matched with her exceptional voice, if combined with a drive to get her music heard throughout the country, could make her one of the only bay area R&B singers to break into the mainstream yet still be repped to the fullest at home.

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Copywrite: The Life and Times of Peter Nelson [Review]

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.

Confessional (Produced by Rob Stern)

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The New Kanye West Album Is Doper Than Your Coked Out Moms! [Listen-A-Long]

Album got leaked. Same thing as Cudi, no free downloads here. Cop it on Itunes/Amoeba or don’t, fuck it, he gets all his money from peripheral marketing anyways.

Dark Fantasy

Epic track, personal favorite. You ain’t got no Yeezy in your Serrato?

Gorgeous (feat. Kid Cudi & Raekwon)

Another dope track. This is the only track with useful features. Raekwon and Kanye should happen more often.

All of the Lights (Interlude)

I prefer the ‘lude to the track.

All of the Lights

I really though Kanye was above Rihanna at this point, her vocals make this track sound of this world, not planet yeezy.

Monster (feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver)

Nicki is the only verse that matters. Fuck Hov is getting lazy. smh.

So Appalled (feat. Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz & The RZA)

This track was leaked early, Pusha T impresses me the most here. Another lazy ass Hov verse.

Devil in a New Dress (feat. Rick Ross)

The Taylor Swift apology track! One of Yeezy’s best verses.

Runaway (feat. Pusha T)

Kanye’s vocals are agitating periodically on this track, overall track is fiyah. Pusha T, really pushing his personal envelope. I heard people now consider him a Top 5 rapper. Smh.

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The Quintessential Kid Cudi Leak [Album Listen-a-long]

Nowadays the fact that an album gets leaked is no longer worthy of journalistic coverage. The cover story regarding piracy is an issue of how premature the release was and whether the product upon release will speak for itself and manifest itself in positive sales figures. For Kid Cudi, this leak for Man On The Moon 2: The Legend of Mr Rager is huge, anything leaked out of G.O.O.D Music is huge. The bigger the artist, and the more anticipated the release, will drive blogger cattle right into harvesting mode, whom usually are too busy reposting to give you the luxury of making the ultimate decision in the music industry today; should I buy this album?

ZIF is not going to let you download any of the songs on this album, not because everyone else does and it’s essentially specious to do so, rather, we want you to have this choice, to buy or not to buy. Let’s get into this and hopefully you can make an informed decision.

Scott Mescudi Vs. The World

A little poor mans Kanye for my taste. Though the Cee Lo hook will make this massively appealing, you’re welcome white people.

REVOFEV

This is on some sing-a-long shit, think Phil Collins meets an urban hipster. Dope track. Secretly.

Don’t Play This Song

So far my least favorite beat. Not enough content in the flow to justify the horrible harmonizing attempt by Mary J. and Cudi.

We Aite (Wake Your Mind Up)

Live track. Interesting, but not different. On some light rock shit, think a Coldplay track.

Marijuana

Ironically, this is not a 420 friendly track. IMO. But it is dope. IMO.

Mojo So Dope

The pace of this track is a walking pace. One swaggerific walk though. Reminds me of every track on 808 and Heartbreaks.

Ashin’ Kusher

NOT A FAN. Think Mickey Factz meets Borat meets Cudi. Not a good look.

Erase Me

Cudi exposes his comfort on light rock (Weezer?) instrumentals. This is by no means a shocker, y’all heard about his upcoming rock album right?

Wild’n Cuz I’m Young

“No piggy, you can catch me when I’m high, no biggie” Cudi’s verses get exposed on this stripped down track, no flying colors, he passes though.

The Mood

The sampled laughter becomes overly agitating to me. Girls might like this though, hipster girls, on some The Cars shit.

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Young Gully – The Grant Station Project [Review]

Before I get into the review, I want to say that although I am far from a fan of the 5-0, there are times when I do feel sympathy for them. They are hated by practically everyone until the moment that they are needed, and that sucks. By no means would Iwant to live a life like that. I also believe that just like any profession, there are good police officers and there are bad ones. There are good and bad doctors, lawyers,accountants, CEO’s etc… So why wouldn’t that apply to cops? Still with that being said,the police in the Bay Area (and Oakland specifically) have a long history of brutality and excessive force, corruption, and general illegal action. That doesn’t mean that I condone and am in favor of someone like Lovelle Mixon, who killed three Oakland cops and injured two others in 2009. Yet at the same time, I do get outraged when I hear about incidents like that which happened to Oscar Grant. And I strongly believe the policeofficer responsible deserves the strictest punishment.

For those of you unaware of what happened to Oscar Grant, let me give you a quick recap: On New Years Eve, leading into 2009, BART Police (the police department responsible for the local Bay Area train system) responded to reports of a fight on a train returning from San Francisco. At the Fruitvale stop in Oakland, a group of police officers detained Oscar Grant (it is still unclear if he was actually part of the fight) and a few other suspects. Long story short, during the detaining, while two police officers were holding Grant face down on the ground, which included a knee on the back of his neck,despite the fact that Grant showed very little, if any sign of resistance, Officer Johannes Mehserle pulled out his gun and shot Grant in the back once. Grant died soon after. In the modern era it is no surprise that this, and another officer punching and kneeing Grant in the face while calling him a “Bitch Ass Nigger” was entirely caught on cellphone cameras. Mehserle claims he was reaching for his taser, and in the confusion ofthe event, accidentally drew his gun. Which has always led me to the question, even if this was true (which I don’t believe), what was the purpose of the taser? You had two police officers in the process of cuffing a man laying on his stomach. In my mind, that is far from indicating any need for a taser. To conclude this horribly sad tale, Officer Mehserle was only convicted of involuntary manslaughter, which pretty much means the court took it as an accident. At minimum Mehserle could be sentenced to 2 years (which means with good behavior he could get out in less time than Plaxico Burress got for shooting himself in the leg), but at maximum, due to the fact that a gun was involved inthe murder, he could receive 14 years. Needless to say this entire incident has been devastating, destructive, and divisive for the local Bay Area community.

I recounted this horrible event because it is necessary background to appreciate the newest release from Young Gully, one of, if not my current favorite Bay Area MC. As the title and cover suggests, The Grant Station Project, is an album dedicated to Oscar Grant. The music struggles with the events that took place that night, and the overall feelings it brought out about the endless war that goes on across the nation between the police departments and residents of low income communities. It is available at whateverprice you wish on Gully’s Bandcamp page (http://younggullyyh.bandcamp.com/album/the-grant-station-project), and all proceeds go to the family of Oscar Grant, so I strongly urge you to go and cop it. Musically it’s dope and really powerful, and financially, the money (which can be as little as $1) goes to a legitimate cause.

Throughout Young Gully’s recent career, he has continuously shown that lyrically and content wise, he is more than just the average street rapper. Additionally, while he has shown an ability to address serious issues in a thoughtful manner such as on tracks like “The End” with Chris Tha 5th off of his Tonite Show with DJ Fresh, and “I Love Where I’m From”

off the first of his Hustla Movement mixtapes,nothing in Gully’s catalogue has matched the music on The Grant Station Project interms of social commentary and inquisitive thought. People often talk about the social power that music has, but it seems like over the past 10 years, that power has rarely been used for anything other than influencing consumerism. The Grant Station Project is one of the few musical explorations that focuses on an issue that affects the masses world wide (police brutality by no means is limited to the U.S.) and begins a debate. From start to finish every song is packed with observations, emotional reactions and questions, all having to do with Police relations. Gully verbally paints the picture of the interaction between the police and his community, and then asks the listener how this could not be considered a serious problem that not only needs to be recognized, but addressed with intentions of genuine improvement as well.

Here I Am

After those words, I’m sure a lot of you may be imagining a Dead Prez or Immortal Technique esque album, and luckily for many, and unfortunately for many others, this is not the case. The Grant Station Project, isn’t really radical, revolutionary,or filed with conspiracy theories. I believe the success of the album largely lies in the lack of these characteristics, which to many are very alienating. For example, “Here I Am” is a track full of observations about the realities of the way people in Oakland, but really globally, are treated by the police force, in addition to the thoughts and mentalities that a lifetime full of these observations creates. There’s no talk about the illuminati, or white people trying to get rich off the poor, or burning down the white house; just the observation that Cops are shooting and harassing everybody, whether innocent  or guilty, with impunity, and for those not wearing a badge, the result of that is distrust at best, and utter and complete hatred at worst. “Black Killa” continues the above sentiments, but in a more inquisitive tone. Over a really dope and soulful organ heavy sample, rather than direct his questions at the listener, Gully speaks directly to the police. It’s his way of demanding an explanation from the boys in blue for the fucked up ways that they treat people. “What If” features Frisco’s Roach Gigz (one of the Bay Area Freshman 10), and continues the line of questioning, this time asking the police to consider being in their victim’s shoes.

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