Beats, Rhymes, Life


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.

La Coka Nostra Minds Their Own

Europe is like 5-10 years behind us when it comes to our music, films and everything else we collectively pile together as pop. Ironically, for this reason they listen to a plethora of dope hip hop. While we’re stuck trying to figure out which 16 year old millionaire is worth our 10 dollars on Itunes, European clubs stay busy booking groups like La Coka Nostra. DJ Premier has had a busy week dedicating his appreciation to “older” hip hop as well, having just released that Bumpy Knuckles track, this video shows how relevant classic hip hop can be when it gets cosigned and laced by Premo. This track features Slaine and Ill Bill ripping into the highly transparent world of social networking and how little they care about your so called life. Amazing how refreshing a punch in the face can feel.

My Universe featuring Vinnie Paz

DJ Lethal and ILL BILL handle the majority of the production on Masters Of The Dark Arts, though they also enlisted Statik Selektah and get contributions from Vinnie Paz, Sean Price, Thirstin Howl the 3rd & Big Left as well as Outerspace, Q-Unique & Jaysaun on 2 bonus cuts.   Masters Of The Dark Arts will hit proverbial stores on 7-31-2012 and be released by the illustrious Fat Beat Records.

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Bumpy And Premier [Video]

Remember when lyricists could also be the hardest gangster you could cite on the spot? Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles was/is that dude, a man known for being able to ride a Primo beat with the best of them whilst kicking you in your proverbial face for not listening. That’s the thing about DJ Premier though, his beats are obviously trademarked, everyone knows a Primo beat when you hear one. It’s the reason why young rappers on the come up still pay respect and cite the OG beatmaker anytime they get asked “who do you want to work with?” For the most part, Primo has avoided such collaborations, focusing more on mega superstars in other genres (Christina Aguilera or Limp Bizkit) or keeping his work within the family (Big Shug, Blaq Poet, Singapore Kane). This song is off the new album The Kolexxxion.  Most of the beats on the album (all produced by DJ Premier except “Word Iz Bond”) are beats that were rejected by other artists, this one was too late to make Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3. Rejection never sounded so sweet.

Singapore Fresh

Singapore Kane – Get Fresh Specialist

Another distinct track from Singapore. The beat is from a cat called Purpose. Which is ironic, because right now my concern is that my favorite rapper needs some. I like the line about spitting super lyrical but they looking crazy individuals. Singapore Kane is a crazy lyricist, I wish that DJ Premier would just lace this cat with an album. Premo and Singapore, you could call it, “Premier Kane”, you know, like fishscale.

Saluting Guru

I think everyone expected it to happen, but despite “Guru’s” good bye letter, DJ Premier couldn’t help himself from doing something in remembrance of his long time partner. I can tell you that I couldn’t be happier. The two have made so much amazing and influential music together, it’s only right that Premier gets to honor Guru. The mix is actually an MP3 of last friday’s episode of Premier’s Live at Headquarters radio show on Sirius radio, and it is really ill. While far from a “best of” mix, or a comprehensive retrospective of his career, the show features some great classic Guru material, a few unreleased sound bites, as well conversations with Premier himself, Guru’s nephew, the creator of Gang Star, Big Shug, and a 30 second call from ZIF’s favorite Bostonian, Singapore Kane. Well worth the listen, especially to gain some insight on the overall situation from somebody other than that bitch who refers to himself as Solar. I think it’s safe to say that when the vast majority of Guru’s fans think back over his catalogue and what it’s meant to them, very few, if any tracks involving Solar will come to mind. If you think I’m wrong, name me one memorable one. Fuck it, name me one quality one. Anyways, that’s why it’s great to hear Premier’s opinion, and the tracks that he wanted to play. Interestingly enough, only one coincides with a song I included on my Thank You Guru post.

DJ Premier – Guru Tribute Mix

On a related note, this is the second stream I’ve heard of DJ Premier’s Live at Headquarters radio show, and I must say it’s gotten me to wish I had Sirius radio so that I could catch it more frequently. I respect and look up to Premier so much in regards to music, from the beats he makes, to the samples he chooses to make those beats, to the vocal samples he scratches in his choruses, to the songs that he includes in his mixes, that it’s an incredible opportunity to hear him speak frankly and play music that enjoys on a regular basis. Luckily for everyone who feels the same way as I do, and doesn’t want to waste money on a bunch of other bullshit channels that they could give two fucks about, you can download each show at: Pretty legit if you ask me. Thank you Guru for a careers worth of priceless gems, and thank you Premier for continuing to be an undeniable shining star in this fickle and short-sighted genre/culture/community that we call Hip-Hop.

ZIF Video Of The Week: Joell Ortiz – Project Boy (Prod. by DJ Premier)

Joell Ortiz is the quintessential example of under-appreciated. No where in the rap game is there an emcee who can seamlessly transform into such a diverse array of persona’s and characters. Joell continues to prove to ZIF that he is not just a throwback emcee from “NY”, but a lyrical spitter from the hood. We got you Joell, appreciation served.

So…this is happening!

It is literally the hip hop equivalent of the Thrilla in Manila. The fact that this bout is taking place in Japan makes me think, why bother with the advertisement? Clearly this will be the most exclusive hip hop show of the year in the Land of the Rising Sun. The infamous Liquid Room will be hosting the event, catch a glimpse, it’s the closest any of us are getting to that show.

Guru Is In Trouble

Questlove confirmed rumors today via Twitter. Guru of Gangstarr acclaim is in a coma, our prayers are with the legendary emcee. Scope some video of Guru touring Slovakia or Slovenia or something Eastern a few moths ago (below), he does not look healthy. I’m assuming some cats knew this was coming. Stay tuned for details.

Friday Free Joints

Bambu – Smog City’s Own (with Diz Gibran)

DJ Webstar ft. Jadakiss & Serani – Tipsy (Remix)

Estelle ft. Kardinal Offishall – Freak (Produced by David Guetta)

JD Era ft. Saukrates – Time (Produced by Pro Logic)

Joe Scudda – Trunk Rattle Remix ft. Naledge, Freddie Gibbs and Mistah F.A.B.

Smiley The Ghetto Child (Produced by DJ Premier)

Louis XIII or E&J’s? A Review of Obie Trice’s Special Reserve

* shout out to Duck Down Records for the advance listen

I’ve never been to Detroit, but I imagine it being colder than a polar bear’s toe nail (god I love Mac Dre) and quite a decrepit place, largely due to the United States’ inability to maintain it’s position as a manufacturing power house. Yet while business and happiness may be dead in the D, often times death breeds new life, and that is the case with Detroit’s Hip-Hop scene. While the Hip-Hop community has never embraced Detroit like it did with New York, L.A., and Atlanta, the hardships of living in a forgotten city has produced some of the illest MC’s and producers to ever touch the mic or MPC. Off top, people will mention Eminem, the whole D12 click (R.I.P. Proof), Royce, Slum Village (R.I.P. Baatin and Dilla), Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, and Black Milk. Yet someone who rarely makes the list these days, despite going platinum in 2003, is Obie Trice. After blowing up way bigger than could have been expected with his debut album Cheers, Obie’s career quickly took a turn for the worse. In 2005, while driving, he caught two bullets including one to the dome, 2006’s Second Round On Me received minimal press and did poorly in stores, and in 2008 he ended his professional relationship with Eminem’s Shady Records. It was a long fall for Obie, but in 2009 he hopes to ascend a few rungs up the ladder with his newest LP, Special Reserve.

Despite a continuation of the drinking themed titles, Special Reserve is a step in a new direction for Detroit’s Well Known Asshole. Unlike his previous two albums, which featured production from some of the hottest beat makers at the time, Special Reserve is a result of Obie solely teaming up with MoSS, someone practically unknown to the public, yet the first producer to sign with the legendary DJ Premier’s new label, Works of Mart Entertainment. Additionally on Special Reserve, Obie takes the path less traveled and has zero features from other MC’s. Who knows if this is a result of lack of funds, or a desire to prove himself, but either way Special Reserve is a great way for fans to see how the past couple of years has affected Obie, as well as get an early glimpse of someone who arguably the most respected producer of all time has given the stamp of approval.

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More flows than Rosebud got hoes

The world had to pretty much fall apart in order to inspire Guru to work again and another 4 months for this video to drop. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t have to freeze over in order to get him and Premo back together on some Gang shit. Oh and in case you slept on the Version 8.0 Lost & Found LP, here’s a few highlights off of it. I’m  relatively disengaged by this album, though it is by no means toneless.

Guru ft. Solar – After Time

Guru – Divine Rule

Guru ft. DJ Doo Wop – No Gimmick Shit