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.

Poetic Justice

Video

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-

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

Video

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.

Ab-Soul-Ute Gold

Leave it to the TDE team to drop a track that gives me a damn good reason to buck the NYC trend on ZIF. Another reference rich set of bars from TDE’s lead off hitter, Ab-Soul. For the record the fine folks at 2DBZ have got themselves a solid freestyle series going, unlike the effort DJ Booth has been trying to blast for years. Oh, and this might sound weird, but Josh The Goon is my favorite engineer, his mixes are consistently cleaner than your average, this one included. Good work Angelino’s, though for the record Ab-Soul’s not really feeling this track.

 Ab-Soul – Absolute Assassin [Soul Assassin Freestyle Sessions]

Oh, and in other Ab-Soul Twitter news, he just nabbed a feature with J. Cole. Look out for that.

Corporate Spray Cans Equals Doom?

Scion (aka Toyota’s youth brand) is sponsoring Hot Sugar’s Midi Murder. BET sponsored the Kendrick Lamar led TDE tour last month. So by now you should know, corporations are back on the investment wagon when it comes to hip hop. Nevertheless I was taken aback to see this interview of Doom by Adidas, let alone the footage that he gave them of him bombing this random wall in London. Dude used to be media shy, now cats be selling their personal day to days for a lifetime of free gear. Mask makers beware, Doom is evolving. Oh and that random wall is not so random, it’s actually the SAW (Shoreditch Art Wall), read more about London’s artistic murals at http://www.londonartwall.com.

My sister thinks he is overrated…

…but he is one of my favorite new rappers, coming up and getting respect: Kendrick Lamar. So I was wondering what kind of F**cking Problems K.dot had.
To be fair, I only listened to this track once.

But when you listen to this song, if you listen really close, with like, your third ear (similar to your third eye, but located inside of your brain)…you can hear in the background chicks singing on the chorus & throughout, “dirty dicks, dirty dicks, dirty dicks.” This song & songs like it just make me think of disease these days. My face was in a tight ball signaling yucky disgust the entire time. If you have a f**cking problem, you probably also have a problem with your dick dripping (not pee) every once in a while and those are NOT the kind of problems you want women thinking of when you are some dude rapping on a track, right?

Can’t imagine liking the A$AP version better, but who knows.

xoxo – Lady T

Opinions are like A-Holes, Everyone Has One

My homie Jamar Thrasher is a good guy, with what seems to be a positive mind set, a strong education and motivation out the Yin-Yang. So when I saw this open letter to Kendrick Lamar in my inbox, I showed the man respect, and proceeded to read it. It’s essentially a response to Kendrick Lamar’s decision to stay out of politics, at least the political machine that has been propped up by corporations and the Old Boy’s club since a bunch of “fathers” got together and wrote our apparent destiny on a piece of parchment with a quill pen. Those who know me, know that I’m a firm dissident when it comes to the two-party system that has plagued this country. The concept of choosing between two evils is one that many do not find appetizing. The notion that minorities must participate in the status quo to make a “difference” reeks of “settling”, unless one believes that there was any inherent desire for the architects of our system to actually desire change, that change being the redistribution of goods, liberties and opportunities in an equitable manner. Call me racist, but I don’t buy that a system set up by privileged country club regulars was ever intended to do anything but ensure their long term monopoly on both political and social power. So do I find it appalling when rappers like Kendrick Lamar decide to opt-out of this said debauchery of a political system? Absolutely not. However, I do appreciate the reason that Jamar employs when it comes to role models and its importance when applied to successful minority artists, I just don’t think that it necessitates political involvement. Additionally, I appreciate the fact that we live in a country where differing opinions can be thrown around without a Gestapo like agency showing up at our respective doors boasting cease and desist grins. On that note, here’s Jamar’s extremely well written thoughts.

Dear Mr. Kendrick Lamar,

I want to address your recent comments regarding why you do not exercise your right to vote. You cite contradictions and lack of control of world events and affairs as reasons not to vote. You have a right to your opinions, but your statements were foolish and dangerous.

Now that you have been pushed into the public spotlight, you are burdened with being a role model; whether you are tactful and responsible in your new role is up to you. You have an influence and reach that is phenomenal: Your music is on the top music blogs, you have fans all over the world, and most importantly, you deliver meaningful messages. When you are a rapper, it’s almost certain that you are a trendsetter. People, the youth especially, will follow and listen to your every word and some might emulate your behavior.

In 2012, voting and politics are “cool.” Elections, especially presidential elections, have become mainstream events; they have even become more closely associated with hip-hop culture. Jay-Z, Diddy, and Young Jeezy have all asserted messages in their music urging their fans to vote. In 2008, hip-hop was instrumental in improving voter participation in election campaigns, motivating young people to get out and vote.

According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau tracking voting trends in presidential elections, voters ages 18-24 were the “only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout in the most recent election, reaching 49 percent in 2008, compared with 47 percent in 2004.”

If timing is everything, then your words do a disservice to the disenfranchised communities of America, especially now, during an election year. This seems odd, especially since your music paints vivid pictures of the issues plaguing the world, specifically poverty issues.

In your seminal work, “Section .80,” you rap, “Everybody can’t drive Benzes so I make it my business to give them my full attention.”

When people aren’t getting the attention they deserve from politicians, they have to demand it.

Politicians have a job, and at the end of every term, they are faced with reelection. The two main resources politicians need to create a successful campaign and win an election are money and votes. In disenfranchised communities, there might not be money, but there are votes. Voting demands attention from the top.

For years, community organizers have developed strategic ways to get people to vote. One way is by having community leaders (like you) get the message out about the benefits of voting.

Many times, people stop believing in the American Dream when it seems like it is unattainable, but by voting, they have a say. People in low-income communities can vote for candidates who have an interest in raising the minimum wage, for example.

Even if you do not vote, please encourage your listeners to do so. Voting is a right community members must exercise to have a say in how their communities operate. If communities do not make decisions about their communities, someone else will make these decisions for them.

Vote for the black citizens who were, at various points in history, threatened, intimidated, maimed, raped, and killed for wanting to vote. Vote for the women who fought tooth and nail during the suffrage movement to cast a vote. Vote even for people in other countries across the world who are still revolting and rising up against tyrant political systems to get a chance to get their voices heard.Vote for the people who cannot vote: the mentally ill, the incarcerated, and the youth who are not old enough to vote.

Music educates people, and as a teacher, you must be cognizant of the lessons you are teaching.

By not voting, you further exacerbate and make definite your claim that you have no say in how the world is run.

Thank you,
Jamar Thrasher

———–

Jamar Thrasher received his undergraduate degree in political science and communications from the University of Pittsburgh.  He is currently a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College for Public Policy and Management. Thrasher is also a partner at Kennedy Blue Communications, a communications firm based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Contact: jamarthrasher@gmail.com or @jdthrasher on Twitter.

Kendrick Lamar: Drank It Up

Clearly a dope video for a fire track, we in LA couldn’t be prouder of Kendrick. He is quickly carving out a spot for himself at the very zenith of this rap game. However, I have the same question/complaint that the #1 ranked comment had on this video. (Below)

I mean seriously? Also, the Coachella performance video of this song will be premiering today on 106 & Park.

Kendrick Lamar Doesn’t DO Power Circles

Yes, this video is primarily a visual capsule of what it means to ride the Rozay money train. This track has been featured on my workout mix, so you know I respect the verses. Kendrick Lamar has that zenith verse, also, I find it rather respectable that he wasn’t compelled to appear in the video. Then again, he’s not MMG family so perhaps that was intentional, use em and abuse em Ricky. I don’t think this track will have the traction that I’m a Boss had last summer, oh, and Wale just doesn’t look genuinely comfortable in this group. I’d take that Top Dawg roster over Maybach anyday though, Ab-Soul and KD versus Wale and Meek? No brainer. Anyways, consume as I know you will, clones.

Friday Free Joints

Calliko ft. GlC – Cruisin (prod. by Big Head Beats)

Dark Time Sunshine – A Walk In The Park

Gunplay, Stalley, Wale, Meek Mill, And Rick Ross-Power Circle (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

House Shoes-Nails (Feat. Quelle Chris And Guilty Simpson)

Rapper Big Pooh-The Love (Feat. Alexis Jones)

Talent Couture-Percocet and Adderall

Friday Free Joints

Kendrick Lamar ft Dr Dre – The Recipe (Remix featuring Twista)

LEP Bogus Boys-Showtime

Meyhem Lauren – Peruvian Desserts (ft. Action Bronson and Roc Marciano)

Reks-Shotgun (Feat. Jon Connor And Venessa Renee)

Usher-Hot Thing (Feat. A$AP Rocky)

Kendrick Lamar Emphasizes The Recipe: Women, Weed, Weather

Kendrick Lamar pairs up with Dr. Dre to state the obvious about moving to Los Angeles.

Women, weed and weather
They come for
women, weed and weather
for the women, weed and weather
From all around the world for the
women, weed and weather

Kendrick Lamar – The Recipe (Feat. Dr. Dre)

Nardwuar v. Kendrick Lamar #SXSW

For people with Canadian backgrounds, Nardwuar is by no means anything new. I remember this dude late night on Much Music, his interviews were always random, his timing impeccable, but most importantly the awkwardness, that’s what really made his interactions with the famous so damn lovable. Kendrick handles the human serviette admirably.

(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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