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.

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-

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+

ZIF Video Of The Week: The Black Opera: “Fxckin Problem” [Video Dramatization]

I love this video, from concept to delivery, the conscious minded Black Opera put an ironic spin on what truly constitutes a “Fxckin Problem” in our society. It’s tracks like this that make me wonder how far sound minded rappers like these guys are from mainstream appreciation. Considering the disinterest in content, the beat’s certainly been embraced, and they sound damn good over it. Yes, better than A$AP & Co.

Here’s the message that accompanied the video, for the slower cats out there, the first message is laced with irony and insincere wit. They are both the from the same source.

“Fxck what the title say tho…This aint that earthy ass conscious Black Opera shit cuh. This that ratchet ass swag shit cuh. This that Black Opposites shit my nig! Woo! Trill level just passed 3000 and rising. My nigga Andy MADD behind the camera and shiiiiit. We poppin pills and clockin mills. We trynna make that Illuminati money my nigga. WE DEM ILLUMINATI  MONEY NIGGAS!! HAA! Now that’s REALLY shining bruh!! Soon as we get rich enough to get away with lip syncing at the inauguration my nigga…SOON AS!! We gone deck the studio walls out wit all gold errything….nigga fxck yo MacBook, we gone have wallpaper made from real gold cuh. Woo! With blood diamond studs my nig!! Dead Ass. Real niggas only, no fxck boys allowed. We all got fxckin problems, but if you got a fxckin problem with us you can get handled just like the nigga in the video, Biiiiitch!!”
In times like these, Dark Comedy is no laughing matter. So with all jokes aside, we wanted to put a satirical spin on A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problem” in order to address current events and issues. Events and issues that include the school shooting in Connecticut, gun control, mental health, and America’s prescription drug addition amongst others. RIP to everyone that lost their lives in the Newtown, CT school shooting and the innocent lives lost everyday in these streets and around the world.

Spit on this video, Alexander

I hate to pigeon hole and overly simplify, but here’s another prime example of a Bay Area lyricist redefining the role of ‘conscious rap’ in Century two-one. (Yes, I’m looking at you Rey Resurreccion.) From what I can recall, Alexander Spit has been doing his thing for a minute, I’m talking Myspace era stuff. His on the verge status has been quietly picking up steam in ’12, his addition to the Decon Records outfit certainly helped. This video is DIY gold, and is off his upcoming Full length LP – A Breathtaking Trip to That Otherside, due for release 1/29/13. Just another reason I hope the Mayans were wrong.

Premonitions About Mauling Hot Sugar

Dear New York City, stop shoving absurdly rich music down my throat! This Midi Murder EP is making respectable waves in taste-maker circles, and Hot Sugar is still on the cutting edge of his own self-made cliff. As for this track/video, I remember when young Haleek Maul was touting the fact that he’d be opening up for Hot Sugar on some sets a few months back, I penciled in a future collaboration then. Call me Nostradamus, ya bish.

It’s That Time Of Year

I know a part of the problem is that I am slowly becoming a curmudgeon, being an 80’s baby now has its archaic qualities I suppose. But for Christ’s sake, this is the same guy who once laced Goodie Mob with hooks so ill, The Deadliest Catch crew wouldn’t have known what to do with them. Now he’s pasted in a Santa outfit spewing holiday jargon with a bunch of Muppets. Ugh, tack this up on the dartboard along with Andre 3000’s non-stop pursuit of the perfect Gillette ad and Dr Dre’s undying effort to push Dr Pepper. It’s that time of year I guess, where puppets and Muppets sell music and everything else under the sun. If you’re going to go there, go there, like Kid did.

The Opposite of a Duran Duran Song

There isn’t a rapper over 35 that still brings me joy and relevant music the way P does. (2 Chainz fans, STFU). That being said, this animated equivalent of his album cover (Mic Tyson) is yet another ingenious way to repackage the Duck Down legend.

The album  is out October 30th on Duck Down Music.
Fans can pre-order the Deluxe-Edition Album at iTunes today:

ZIF Flick: Machine – Wow (I Can’t Believe…Demons)

When I was first approached by Machine to check out his new album Selfish Bastard, I balked at the depression rap. For christ sakes, I’ve had a plethora of dark patches, who wants to listen to music inspired by such disenchantment? Unless of course having an honest conversation about emotional distress could be an artistic journey worthy of merit. This is what I found to be true when it comes to Selfish Bastard, an album that encapsulates a moment in time for a man, a very raw picture of an artist. His unique flows and keen ear for beats (check that Denmark Vessey heat L.A.P.T.) make his album more than listenable, frankly if you’re on a treadmill you’ll forget he’s spewing about breakups and jumping off bridges (he doesn’t actually do that). That being said, when I shot the music video I found it eerily simple to jump into that “mode”, the dark cave. The video is a playful interpretation of what it truly means to conceptualize not only the overarching desire to commit the act but the actual logistics as well. There is a comedic element I was hoping to convey, death can be funny, tragically we all know this. As always, we’re queuing up goodness, artists looking for video production hit us up here.

Follow the cerebral vagrancy of Machine @TheMachineRaps

Read an unbiased review of Selfish Bastard over at Mishka & a somewhat biased one at Vice.

Pull Ya Pants Up

“It’s disrespectful showing your butt off,” said Amor, a fourth-grader at PS 92 on Parkside Ave. “I’m always seeing boys, girls, rappers, singers — everyone is sagging out.”

When Amor Lilman was 7 years old he received a verbal lashing from his dad for galavanting around the Parade Grounds playground in Flatbush with his jeans well below his hips. He quickly turned his life lesson into some bars worth spitting. The catchy hook caught the attention of his friends and family.

“Think that you swaggin’ cause your pants saggin’ — Pull ya pants up. Pull ya pants up.”

One thing led to another, and two years later he was invited to perform during the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series, held in Coney Island and at Wingate Field in Flatbush. That parlayed into a meeting with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, momentum then carried young Amor into this music video (Marty makes a cameo, he is the suit with the cheeseball grin).

Sagging has been around since I was letting it all hang out in the 5th grade, it was called Kriss Kross. The idea that it is a social problem worth dedicating time and funds to combating, that may be an overreaction by conservative parents and over zealous city politicians. Needless to say the American jacket in the video was ‘well-placed’, sort of screams for an appearance on the Today Show or Anderson Cooper doesn’t it?  Okay, I’ve effectively criticized a song by a child under 10, time to take that off my bucket list.

ZIF Video Of The Week: A$AP Mob – “Bath Salt” (feat. Flatbush ZOMBiES)

Putting NY back on the map seems to be a perpetual mission for all rappers calling the Big Apple home. Of course there are those that say that the city never dropped off, those people would be liars. A$AP Rocky and his Mob mixtape have grabbed the attention of the nation, what better way to start repping the city than showing off the electricity of the eclectic minded group Flatbush Zombies. Hello New York, great to see you again.

Then and Now

Remember when T.I. was just a regular neighborhood “Rubberband Man”? Yes, at one point and time T.I. was on Main street, the purpose of this video seems to be to show how he is going to “go get it” regardless of time, place and circumstance. That all may be true, but unless this album (his 8th studio album) “Trouble Man” pops off, seeing him walk around palatial sized properties and splashing around in Olympic sized pools is simply not going to cut the cheese. Check out some of the reported recorded tracks off the upcoming album, release date was pushed back, late 2012.

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We Are Farmers, Not Rappers?

Three Loco may be the most contrived “musical” act out there. The group features comedians Andy Milonakis and Dirt Nasty aka Simon Rex along with viral candy rap sensation Riff Raff. The group is releasing a record via Mad Decent on September 14th. The album is likely to feature plenty of Diplo production if not in its entirety altogether. This track featured a little double dip of Diplo, chopping up the “Farmers Insurance” jingle and then actually dropping a few bars at the end. His bars are horrendous, but honestly it does make you think, how much top notch production will be essentially wasted away on this album.  You can’t have your cake and eat it Mad Decent fans, Diplo cannot produce for everyone on that label, including this jokester act and maintain sonic quality across the board. The artist roster over there is well known, plenty of quality, here’s hoping this viral act/album is a one off.

Cop their three record sampler for free here. I guess.

Behind the scenes footage of the shoot.

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.

Never Cry Wolf

The new video from Dark Time Sunshine (comprised of Onry Ozzborn of Grayskul (Rhymesayers) and producer Zavala) is an example of music videos evolving to meet the demands of an ever increasingly impatient consumer. This video is more Twin Peaks than Cash Money video shoot, a fact customers appreciate, including us. Also, heard that Open Mike Eagle will be joining their tour with Aesop Rock, that tour just went into warp drive.

Follow these outside the box thinkers @DrkTimeSunshine

Cop their latest project, ANX , here.