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.

Ab-Soul Freestyles For Beats

First of all, this comes across as a genuine freestyle, a phenomenon rarer than dodo sex. More importantly Ab-Soul‘s flow exemplifies his appeal, laid back wit coupled with a sense of humor that appeals to a diverse demographic.Who wouldn’t love the references? Couple Excerpts:

I run with a couple G’s/ these shoes ain’t Gucci, you spent all your money on Louie/ and still ain’t getting no coochie

I used to play Ninja Turtles on Nintendo, Now I paint like Donatello and stick hoes

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.

Kendrick Lamar – (O)verly (D)edicated [Album Review]

Note: This article was written a ways back, but right before I was ready to send it off I came down with some of the worst strep throat I’ve ever had. 103 degrees type shit. So anyways, to my understanding some of this, mainly in regards to the free vs. for pay version, may no longer be accurate.

When I first heard The Kendrick Lamar EP, it brought me a revival of faith in hip-hop like I had not experienced in years. His flow was so complex, and his content was so genuine, progressive, thoughtful and full of insight, that it more than satiated my intellectual desires as someone who lives music all day everyday. Yet to balance things out, Kendrick was clearly someone who was hood, and didn’t blatantly criticize the way people get it in streets. I’ve always thought that this balance was way too rare in rap. It always seems to be that an MC has to be either a super thug, the pimp of all pimps, a revolutionary, or a snobby brainiac, with little in between. Yet The Kendrick Lamar EP perfectly seemed to depict a multidimensional man, who has gone through a lot of formative life experiences. Then to think that this all came from a rapper who I had never heard mentioned once (I didn’t realize he used to be K Dot upon the first couple listens), gave me some humility and hope. I realized that no, I don not know about every dope MC in existence. And that yes, there is a new generation of MC’s who make the type of music that I want to hear rather than what suburban teenagers want to listen to. So it goes without saying that that EP quickly sent Mr. Lamar to the top of my list of artists of whom I was excited to see and hear progress.

Obviously I was thrilled to hear that he was coming out with a new project. I even went as far to buy it off of itunes, even though it was available for free download as well, and I loathe purchasing MP3’s. I appreciate Kendrick’s music enough that I really wanted to support him, and for less than I pay for lunch on some days it seemed like the right and easy thing to do. Yet before I get to mention any of the music, as a consumer and a fan I must say that I feel like Kendrick Lamar has done me wrong. When you offer a product for purchase and simultaneously for free download, if someone is going out of their way to give you their hard earned money rather than just get it for free, at the absolute very least they should receive everything given to those who chose to simply download that product. In theory, it should actually be the other way around; they should get more than those who took advantage of the free download. Yet in this case it was the exact opposite. Most importantly, the free version offers 3 songs that the for pay version does not. And on a smaller scale, the free version offers a secondary image with production credits and contact info, while the itunes version does not. This may seem minor to many, but to me this was a disgrace. It’s almost like asking people to not buy it, and laughing at them if they do. If I’m going to take the time and risk to bust out my credit card and send that information through the ultra sketchy internet to make a purchase, why should I have to do more to get all of the intended content that comes with that product? It just seems stupid and poorly handled.

Now that I’m done with that bitch session, I strongly urge you to download the project, FOR FREE, here.

The Heart Pt.2 ft Dash Snow

Overall this project is on a much more dark, depressed, and somber tip than The Kendrick Lamar EP. Yet when (O)verly (D)edicated is good, it is far and beyond what most other hip-hop artists have to offer. On the other side of the coin, when it is average, it’s  not very memorable. Lets start with the successes. Content wise, Kendrick continues to bring that balance and honesty that allows him to stand out from his peers, all the while continuing to make his flow more precise and complex. “The Heart Part 2”, which features Dash Snow and was produced by Roots (REF), is a great example of this. I’ll let the music speak for itself, but you can’t tell me that by the end of this track he didn’t just black out and fucking GO OFF on the instrumental. Str8 bodied. Same goes for “Ignorance Is Bliss”, which is produced by Willie B. The flow is impeccable and the content is exactly what Kendrick does best. He typifies how shit goes down in the hood while also explaining his personal life in contrast.

R.O.T.C {Interlude} ft Bj The Chicago Kid

Yet if I had to decide between my two favorite tracks it’s between “R.O.T.C.” ft. BJ The Kid and produced by Jairus “J-Mo” Mozee and “Cut You Off (To Grow Closer)” produced by TaeBeast. “R.O.T.C.” is one intense verse about the choices many have to make on a daily basis. Do you grind out life and do things the right and legitimate way, or do you take penitentiary chances to get some serious bread? And if you stay away from a life of crime, how do you deal with the fact that society doesn’t seem to want to reward you for making that decision? It’s some real shit delivered with unmistakable passion. While “Cut You Off (To Grow Closer)” is probably the track that deals with the most universal subject matter on the entire project. Everyone has spent time with someone that you truly care about, but always seems to be bringing you down in one way or another. It’s never easy, but sometimes you just need a break from that shit. And in this track Kendrick expresses those feelings through rhyme in a more clear, understandable and relatable manner than probably if you were to just have a conversation with somebody about it. This is the type of song that I expect that I will listen to for years and still find that it has an equal impact as when I first heard it.

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Great Song, Worthless Video: Kendrick Lamar’s “I Wanna Be Heard”

If you read my review of Kendrick Lamar’s FREE solo debut, The Kendrick Lamar EP (If you’ve been sleeping, peep game here), then you know how much I’m into his music. The album was a great introduction to who he is as a person as well as to his ridiculous talent as an MC. Flow, content, concepts, punch lines, delivery, etc… There’s really no essential quality that he lacks.

Recently he released his 4th video from the The Kendrick Lamar EP, for lyrically my favorite song on the project, “I Wanna Be Heard”. Unfortunately, the video doesn’t come close to matching the caliber of the track. For some reason it’s only of the first verse of the song which is really lame (even though it is the best of the 3). Additionally there isn’t really anything to the video which bums me out. I grew up in an era when music videos had concepts and were entertaining as shit. If you were doing nothing but rapping in different locations, at the very least the locations were cool to look at. Not on a messy bed and in a nondescript ally. Still I’m a big fan of his music and want to contribute to it getting heard by more and more people, so without thinking twice about it, I’d watch and post the video if it was of him just taking a dump or eating some cereal.

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