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Wednesday, May 25, 2005 

How I Fell In Love With H.E.R.

"People talk about Hip-Hop like it's some giant livin in the hillside comin down to visit the townspeople. We are Hip Hop." - Mos Def

You know you’ve heard this story before yet you’re compelled to listen to it again. You’re certain you know the plot so well that you can accurately predict its ending. Bing! That seems to be the theme of today’s Hip Hop assertions. But, before you activate your depressive “Hip Hop sucks” persona, savor the good news because it‘s not what you think it is. Once upon a time everyone who was lucky enough to walk beside Hip Hop in the alley, sit next to Her in class and hear Her sensational whisper in both ears, cherished the culture like a tall glass of ice-cold water in the summer. Good or bad, memories are all we have left from that era.
Pick any music fan 18 and older and inquire about their earliest memory of Rap music. That simple question is likely to elicit claims of being in tune with some of the most prolific MC’s from the 90’s era.
“I grew up listening to Eric B & Rakim” and “Das EFX and EPMD was the shit back then”. There are many things wrong with such structured responses, but I’m only interested in one. The fact that it’s structured. You can perceive me as utterly self-righteous if you wish, but I don’t have to please the next person by modifying the truth about my choice in Hip Hop or lack of one. (Back then, Lt. Gen. Radio dictated to music listeners most of the time).
Although, A Tribe Called Quest’s masterpiece Low End Theory is blasting through my stereo as I write this, I only became acquainted with their unique music in the late 90’s. Naughty By Nature, Heavy D and the Boys, and Fresh Prince controlled the airwaves in ‘my time’. I remember standing in front of our box-like black and white TV watching rap videos for hours. It was much more pleasurable mainly because I had no sense of urgency as a child. I always wondered why everyone else was in such a hurry. Fools! They went about every task with the ferocity of 100-meter sprinters at the Olympics, and missed out on the plush entertainment right in front of their ears and eyes. More essential than that sense of relaxation, was the sonic inducement Hip Hop imbibed in me. The drums reached out from the speakers, grabbed my head and bopped it rhythmically; the lyrics, though 'meaningless', possessed an infectious melody that weaved itself into my 10 year old mind forever, and the dress code was shiny and hip in my child’s eye view(keep in mind that this was way before Jesus Piece made a forceful ascension to our necks).
I still love Her but now that ‘they” have taught Her to be more materialistic, She’d rather ride in an H2 Hummer than walk beside me in the alley. She doesn’t like to sit next to me in class anymore, because she prefers a more exclusive seat at the awards show. Much more significantly, her sensational whispers have been contorted into borrowed lines and gibberish. Oh how I miss Her.

Uncommon Sense

Video of The Day:

The Corner(Live Performance) - Common (*props to P.F.P.)

Throwback Joint of The Day:

Resurrection(Large Professor Remix) - Common

Saturday, May 21, 2005 

6 Feet Deep

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How many people recognize the artist in this photo? Not many.

Underground(adj.) - sunken, buried. (ii)done or acting in secrecy; (iii) pertaining to anything that is experimental,…unconventional[Webster]. Whoa! Is the so-called underground movement in Hip Hop really buried in a style so experimental that it has to be carried out secretly? Hell no! Why then have we chosen such an ugly word to describe their unique contributions to the world? Much more important than “why” is what this tag , underground, often attracts to those who choose to go by it. While preparing for this article, I looked up synonyms of the word “underground”. The results stamped a look of concern on my face: secret covert, under wraps, hush-hush, surreptitious, undercover, concealed, below ground. Rap fanatics will be quick to argue that it’s only a word which may not necessarily reflect the typical features of underground Hip Hop. Valid argument, but I highly disagree. Why? Elite members of the underground movement such as KRS-One, Common, and Masta Ace for instance, have all failed to get across to the wider audience(below ground) even though they’ve had decades to do so. In most cases, their retail material is not easily available (concealed), and most importantly they alienate themselves from the media(surreptitious). (You’ll come across 1000 2Pac albums before you find one by Masta Ace, O.C. or K-OS).
Yet when you get acquainted with this “undercover” music genre, you’ll readily admit they’re the most creative, passionate, and skillfully endowed individuals in the history of Hip Hop (unless your uncle is Bill O‘Reilly). The “underground” artists, most of whom also qualify as “back-packers“(that’s another story) always back up their music with a message. If such substantial lyrical enlightenment, be it political or philosophical, fail to reach as many people as targeted, then the purpose is ultimately defeated. That’s another reason why underground is such an ugly word. Every now and then, you’ll stumble across an “underground” MC who spews mediocre songs with production that screams “nobody’s going to buy it anyway”, but the vast majority of under-appreciated artists even in other genres are possibly the most talented lovers of the art. By eliminating the word “underground” from the Hip Hop Dictionary, they’ll be able to receive the much-deserved appreciation.

Listen to KRS-One's latest album "Keep Right"

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 

Stuck In The 80's

“Bring it back,” “Old school is better than new school...” “They don’t do it like they used to…." Those are the expressions of depression that saturate the tongues of Rap fans these days. Hip Hop heads are stuck in what I call the “back-in-the-days-mentality”. An artist’s 1st two albums are automatically the only ones worth buying as far music-listeners are concerned. In fact, this assertion is even a legitimate viewpoint. Artists in general tend to slack off after the first hard-earned effort on their projects. But, that’s not always the case. The few outstanding ones that strive to attain the much elusive consistent form, sometimes go unappreciated. OutKast, for instance, has never released any underwhelming CD in my humble opinion. Yet, I’ve heard people clamoring for the "old OutKast" (even on this site!).
How could we forget the dynamic influences on music and art in general- substance, modern issues, lifestyles, culture and society. Artists evolve in accordance with these vicissitudes of life. Public Enemy was the shit when the KKK was a humongous force to reckon with. We were in desperate need of that music - that message. These days, cultural integration is almost at par with the continual racial polarization. Times have changed. So, dropping another “Fear of A Black Planet” would be easily perceived as stale by the so-called old-school heads. Even the staunchiest fan would be quick to profess that the artist who makes such music is stuck in the 80’s. So why do we applaud the oldest records and despise everything else?
Maybe, it’s the fact that after 1 album, or in rare cases 2 albums, rappers only talk about money, rims, and hoes. Not necessarily. A rapper’s personal growth is easily misconceived as depreciation. Soon after Illmatic dropped in 94, it became the yardstick for measuring all NaS albums. The street tales, and poetry exhibited on Illmatic were reminiscent of the state of society at that time. The disparate I Am…and God’s Son, on the other hand showcased the artist’s maturity; good or bad.
When such endeavors are greeted by feelings of disappointment, pop-rap and anything else that brings in revenue becomes the code of the day. Fans almost always exhume misconception towards experimental efforts even when it’s not mainstream(Phrenology, Electric Circus,The New Danger.,etc). As a result, money-hungry labels engrave their feet on the blaxploitation process to make up where real music falls short. They win, we lose. Appreciation or lack of it would only force the powers that be to continue to steer us in the path of degradation.

In Rotation: Curtis Mayfield - Superfly for all you old school heads! Enjoy.

Rhyme of The Day:
"I'm so ahead of time my parents haven't met yet" - Big L

Sunday, May 15, 2005 


Phat 5 Joints of The Week - 15/05/05

5. Diamonds - Kanye West: This track would have been long gone by now but my weblog tracking device tells me y'all fell in love with it already.

4. Dear Summer - Jay-Z : Young Hov pickin' up where Big K left off.

3. Night Riders - Boot Camp Click(9th Wonder Rmx)

2. The G Code(Chopped&Screwed) - Geto Boys : This is what it sounds like on the southern airwaves.

1. Temperature - Zion I ft Talib Kweli : As the name implies, this joint packs more heat than the oven door.

Ol Skool' Joint of The Day:
I Got 5 On It(Rmx) - Luniz f/ Dru Down, Richie Rich, E-40, Shock G & Spice 1

Albums In Rotation:
-Capital Punishment - Big Pun
-Sleepers - Rapper Big Pooh
-Connected - Foreign Exchange
-The Foundation - Geto Boys
-The Big Picture - Big L

Rhyme of The Day:

Mo' money, mo' problems, but it's worse when you're
broke -

Jadakiss ("What Up", The

Thursday, May 12, 2005 

50 Albums You Must Buy Before You Die

In this booty-rap era where Hip Hop has made an ugly transition into disposable arts, going to the record shop has become a pain in the ass for many reasons. No wonder bootlegging is at an all time high. Good albums are rare to find, much more excellent ones. You'll find a new breed of dinosaurs before you find a flawless CD with a very high 'replayability' value. That's why I've delved into a stack of records spanning over a period of 30-plus years to bring you the best of the best. Take a cue from my friend Jason who often refers to a print-out copy of this list, especially when deciding what albums to purchase.

50.The Listening - Little Brother
49.Long Live The Kane - Big Daddy Kane
48.Mecca & the Soul Brother - Pete Rock & CL Smooth
47.The Sun Rises In The East - Jeru the Damaja
46.Run-DMC - Run DMC
45.40 Dayz and 40 Nightz - Xzibit
44.De La Soul Is Dead - De La Soul
43.AZiatic - AZ
42.It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot - DMX
41.Things Fall Apart - The Roots
40.Licensed To Ill - Beastie Boys
39.No One Can Do It Better - D.O.C.
38.ATLiens - OutKast
37.Quality - Talib Kweli
36.2001 - Dr. Dre
35.Capital Punishment - Big Punisher
34.Do You Want More?!!!??! - The Roots
33.Black on Both Sides - Mos Def
32.The Infamous - Mobb Deep
31.Radio - LL Cool J
30.The Slim Shady LP - Eminem
29.Mos Def & Talib Kweli are BlackStar - Black Star
28.Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A.
27.Doe or Die - AZ
26.Aquemini - OutKast
25.Liquid Swords - GZA/Genius
24.The 18th Letter - Rakim
23.The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Lauryn Hill
22.Doggystyle - Snoop Dogg
21.By All Means Necessary - Boogie Down Productions
20.Strictly Business-EPMD
18.The Fix-Scarface
17.Criminal Minded - BDP
16.Midnight Marauders - ATCQ
15.The Chronic - Dr. Dre
14.Daily Operation - GangStarr
13.The Great Adventures of Slick Rick - Slick Rick
12.The Score - Fugees
11.Reasonable Doubt - Jay-Z
10.Death Certificate - Ice Cube
09.It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Public Enemy
08.36 Chambers(Enter The Wu-Tang)
07.The Low End Theory - A Tribe Called Quest
06.Ready To Die - The Notorious B.I.G.
05.Me Against The World - 2Pac
04.The Diary - Scarface
03.Paid In Full - Eric B. & Rakim

02.Only Built 4 Cuban Linx - Raekwon
01.Illmatic - NaS

Monday, May 09, 2005 

Weekend News, Free Mixtapes, and A Contest


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A 2nd Black Star album might be in the works shortly, according to sources. The two ill lyricists incinerated their mics on Bright as the Stars which surfaced in underground circles recently. A collective record is just what the Hip Hop community needs in order to forgive Mos and Kweli for their mediocre individual performances on Beautiful Struggle & The New Danger respectively.

This next piece of news started as a rumor based on a DVD. But, it has been confirmed through a press release that one of the best mixtape DJ’s in the game has been ejected from his label. Green Lantern was forced to walk away from Shady Records for intimating Jadakiss with information regarding his brouhaha with 50 Cent. The Evil Genius is now said to be a free agent, but, Interscope will still release his upcoming album The Invasion. Read the exclusive interview here for more details.
Good news for conscious Rap fanatics - your #1 politically charged crew, Public Enemy is back. Their brand new entry, Rebirth of A Nation is due out as early as this August. Rebirth boasts appearances by dead.prez, MC Ren, and one of my favorites, Immortal Technique.

The LOX and their D-Block affiliates have inked a deal with Koch Records. This new marriage with the underground label will give birth to a D-Block compilation album, and Sheek’s sophomore LP, After Taxes. But that’s not the news; After Taxes promises a surprise line-up that includes Redman, Cam’ron, Lil’ Scrappy, and wait for it….P. Diddy!

The essence of this contest is to appreciate the readership on this blog. The rules are simple:
List your 10 favorite Hip Hop acts: 5 solo artists, 5 groups. That's not all; I've compiled a list of 10 artists as well which is safely hidden from all ye hackers in my closet. The list that turns out to be most similar to mine will win this contest. Now, since you've ran your eyes all the way to the bottom of the page in search of a prize, I'll gladly end your quest - the winner will receive a free Rap Essential mix CD put together by yours truly. Simply reply in the comment box of this post to qualify. This contest will end on May 12th, 2005. Please be sure to include your email in your entry. Good Luck!

Speaking of free music, enjoy this rare and unique package courtesy of Soul On Ice.
Hip Hop Mixtape 1
Hip Hop Mixtape 2

Friday, May 06, 2005 

Phat 5 Joints of The Week (05-06-05)

5. Introduction 2 Tha Illest - Custom Made: Let's hope Pillow Talk is cooler than the rest of the west.
4. Night Riders - Boot Camp Click(9th Wonder Rmx) : A taste of delicious Hip Hop. Teaser to the upcoming triplle threat.
3. Politics - Royce da 5'9" ft Cee-Lo : Royce is back! Nuff said.("Everybody wanna fill Jay-Z's shoes")
2. The G Code - Geto Boys : Mr. Scarface breaks it down for those who forgot the code-No snitching;"We don't talk to Police..."
1. Diamonds - Kanye West ("The Roc is still alive everytime I rhyme")

Old Skool Joint of The Day: I Can't Get With That - Jay-Z (his first ever record)

Thursday, May 05, 2005 

The Wrong Part About Idolizing Dead Artists

According to Jadakiss, “dead rappers are selling more” than the ones living. True indeed. Listening to “Still Dreaming”, a song that blends old vocals of past gone artists like ODB, 2Pac, B.I.G., Eazy-E, Big L, etc, I’m constantly reminded of the exaggerated relevance of deceased rappers in today’s popular culture. As my interest in the song piques, I observe a baffling source of appeal - it's not Big L’s impetuous flow, not Pac’s incisive lyrics, not Biggie’ s intimidating voice; it’s the common factor that they’ve all kicked the bucket. Imagine the effect an entire album by a deceased artist has on the average music fan.
Eight posthumous ‘Pac albums later, and millions of copies of Biggie’ s classics sold, Hip Hop seems to be enforcing the same advice to the next generation - to forever appreciate those we’ve lost, regardless of quality. Many Rap websites refer to Big Pun as the Greatest of All Time. Pun is definitely a top 10 'lyricist' but I refuse to rank him far above Rakim in any way. Tons of Rap forums have crowned the talented Notorious B.I.G. the King of NY and Hip Hop in general with no respect whatsoever to NaS,Kool G. Rap or KRS-One. Eazy-E is a household name in the U.S and there‘s no arguing that people in Soweto are familiar with Tupac Shakur, but I doubt that many Hip Hop loyalists here in America have even heard of Gift of Gab - who is easily one of the most creative artists that hails from the West Coast. If we toss Lauryn Hill as much props as we do Left-Eye, maybe L’ Boogie will return to the game very soon with some gems for our listening pleasure.
Nay-Sayers will be quick to profess that I’m all for disregarding the significance of our fallen heroes, but, my argument is a very comprehensible one - marketing appeal should be more about recognizing good music , than appreciating the artist behind the music, dead or alive. Paying homage to those we’ve lost in the game will forever be a part of the culture. In fact, it’s an essential part of history meant to enlighten the younger listeners. However , it should never be the sole priority etched in stone, while living and equally proficient artists compete with ready-made material from our deceased soldiers. There’s no right way to do the wrong thing.
“They say they never really miss you till you either dead or you’re gone” -
Jay-Z (December 4th)

Sunday, May 01, 2005 

Albums That Will Shape 2005

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Kanye West - Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
Guest List:
John Mayer, GLC, Consequence John Legend, Keyshia Cole
Release Date : Late June
Reason 2 Anticipate: We get to watch Kanye argue his way to the top for a second time. Plus, there’ll be another dime in one of those videos that follow. Oh and the gold chain that accompany every major release these days.

Little Brother - The Minstrel Show (Atlantic)
Guest List: Joe Scudda, Yazarah, Elzhi(Slum Village)
Release Date: Quarter 3 or 2005
Reason 2 Anticipate: Big Pooh promises to awaken us like a spring mattress. 9th Wonder has been labeled the Pete Rock of our generation, and Phonte’s “tailor-made” flow is still intact.

Custom Made - Pillow Talk (Custom Made)
Guest List: Mobb Deep, Jedi Mind Tricks, Inspectah Deck
Reason 2 Anticipate: There’s always a mystique factor about a relatively unknown group with sparkling prospects. Every West Coast MC has been on the same mission for the past 8 years - to resurrect the West. This lyrical powerhouse is doing it with a unique approach - they strip their sound off the conventional heavy bass line, and focus on catchy hooks and dazzling lyrical content, laid over jazzy beats.

Common - BE (Geffen)
Guest List: John Legend, Bilal, Kanye West(as if you didn’t know that already)
Release Date: Late May
Reason 2 Anticipate: Comm is supposed to tell us how and why he fell in love with Erykah on this record. And since he calls it 'feel-good music', it's supposed to help relieve symptoms of depression.

Styles P - Time Is Money (Ruff Ryders/Interscope)
Guest List: Talib Kweli, Jadakiss, Sheek Louch,(the usual suspects), Mario Winans, JE
Release Date: May 24
Reason 2 Listen: D-Block is set to unleash their 125th official 50 Cent diss song on SP’s album. The Ghost is expected to float all over the record in what’s possibly the more versatile of his two solo efforts.

Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told(Fort Nox/Atlantic)
Guest List: Saigon, Saigon, & Saigon
Reason 2 Anticipate: Sai got “the bowtie flow; he’ll bring it to your neck” Although, Alchemist and Scram Jones are slated to bless Saigon’s project, it’ll be interesting to see how he can maintain his razor sharp lyrical edge over club-ready Just Blaze production.

Sean Price - Monkey Barz (Boot Camp)
Guest List: 9th Wonder, Buckshot, Steele, Ruste Juxx, Flood.
Release Date: May 26
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Reason 2 Anticipate: “'l'll send your ass to heaven, muthafucka ask about ‘Pac” His combination of wit and lyricism make the craft look so easy. His style is like a manual “Hip Hop 4 Dummies”

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Buckshot & 9th Wonder - Chemistry (Boot Camp)
Guest List: MC Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh, L.E.G.A.C.Y., Joe Scuddah
Release Date: May 24
Reason 2 Listen: We can’t get enough of these 100% 9th Wonder records; So far, they’ve all successfully gone plastic. But those collabos are diamond to Hip Hop heads. Monkey Barz and Chemistry are the 2/3 of the Duck Down tripple threat this year. Hi-Tek and Steele complete the cypher with Smif 'n' Wessun Reloaded slated for a late June release.

Fat Joe - All or Nothing or Things of That Nature(Atlantic) or whatever he decides to go with next
Guest List: Nelly, Mashonda, Mase and Eminem, All Terror Squad affiliates, dead or alive.
Release Date: May 24
Reason 2 Listen: To find out what the final album title will be. Also, Joey will attempt to protect his NY Crown - the one he won last year for “Most Improved Rapper”

AZ - Final Call (Universal)
Guest List: Tony Sunshine, CL Smooth, Rell, Ron G
Release Date: Never
Reason 2 Listen: AZ’s non-stop flow, “Magic Hour”, another “Quiet Money” song, and the fact that fans will discover new ways to sleep on him again.

Other Highly Anticipated Albums of 2005
The Roots - The Game Theory (Geffen)
Canibus - Mind Control (Babygrande)
Canibus - Hip Hop 4 Sale (Babygrande)
Crooked I - Mama's Boy Got A Gun (Treacherous)
OutKast - 10 The Hard Way(Arista)
Stat Quo - Statlanta(Shady/Aftermath)
Obie Trice - Murder City(Shady/Interscope)
Cassidy - Personality Change(Full Surface)
Joe Budden - The Growth(Def Jam)
Afu-Ra - State of The Arts

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