Image Hosted by

Friday, April 29, 2005 

Phat 5 Joints of The Week

#5. My Control - Canibus
Fresh off the shores of the military, Bis is back! "My control" chronicles the master lyricists's fluctuation in the game since God first threw him at us in the late 90's. His insatiable hunger is unmistakable here. The only thing that'll keep heads wondering on this song is the bouncy 80's production and Canibus' crispy delivery.

#4. Introduction 2 Tha Illest Function - Custom Made
What this CA group refers to as an actually the summary of dopeness. A sparsely orchestral instrumental serves as the background for unadulterated lyrical exercise. This single from Custom Made's upcoming Pillow Talk CD which will include appearances by Mobb Deep and Jedi Mind Tricks, is nothing short of a teaser.

#3. Cold War - Joe Budden
On "Cold War" Joey spits enough heat to give the listener a tan, unleashing his conscious side over a flagrant beat. If all the material on his sophomore album are on this pedestal or higher, then we have a solid CD in the making.

#2. Sunshine to The Rain - Miri Ben Ari ft Scarface & Anthony Hamilton
Miri's euphonic sound is the reason real heads have been awaiting the Hip Hop Violinist album since 2004. Kanye's protege not only has an irresistible appeal in the Good Music department, she also has a knack for recognizing talent, both new and established; Scarface dissects this song lyrically, while Anthony Hamilton flexes his vocal muscles.

#1. Diamonds - Kanye West
Remember when Kanyeezy went to 106 & Parks and said he saves the best beats for himself? Well, he wasn't frontin'. Mr. College Dropout is back with the most infectious song on the Hip Hop continent. Diamonds touches on Kanye's landmark debut and the Roc-a-fella split. He couldn't have chosen a more appropriate title.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 

BE - Common

In Rap’s crowded field of play, a breath of fresh is as elusive as the winning lottery numbers. Then comes a familiar name, Common, parading a paradigm of excellence via an unfamiliar route. BE is not his defense against those who argue that he went ‘soft’ because of Erykah Badu, it’s his insightful teachings on inconceivable love (Faithful). He’s not refuting those who claim the windy city has nothing special to offer, he’s clinching the place of “Chi-City” on the map(“They ask me where Hip Hop is going, It’s Chica-going”). BE is not Comm’s come-back LP, it’s the assertion of his legendary status.
Be“, the track-opener is like the thesis of an essential term paper, paving the path for the rest of the album, and offering lyrical purity on the way: “The chosen one from the land of the frozen one/Where drunk nights get remembered more than sober ones//”. The rapper formerly known as Common Sense then perches on “The Corner” with the Last Poets on his side, where he observes and documents street eccentricities over Kanye West’s hard-hitting percussions. One of the reasons Common still commands respect in the Hip Hop community is that he understands the fundamentals of the game. Testify”, the storytelling track needed to make BE the complete package, is a palpable case of a hustler who pays a steep price for his woman.
Common arrays his musical growth throughout BE, combining accessibility with lyrical prowess, without a scintilla of commercial compromise. The airwave-admissible “Go” is a carnal discussion blessed by Kanye’s unconventional melodic tinge. Jay Dee‘s riveting guitar licks are gently kissed by the humble insight on “Love Is”. The up-tempo jazzy horns on “Real People” signals a brand new Kanye sound and a nonchalant broadcast personality on Comm’s part (“I be showing niggas lives like UPN”).
Not since College Dropout has Hip Hop witnessed feasibility, coherence, and rawness in a single bundle. BE is impeccable by all standards. According to Comm, "BE means to do without trying hard. BE is about being natural". Common is not only teaching this concept, he’s practicing exactly how to BE.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 

The Thin Line Between Loyalty and Stupidity

After watching frivolous rap battles unfold randomly like the flu virus, I've resorted to viewing diss records differently. Moreso, I've noticed a trend that only kicked off in the late 90's. Something Rap fans are aware of, but barely ask questions about. Even when we ask, the answer is always a mystery. Is it right to inherit beef from another rapper simply because you represent the same crew or label? Why? Why not?
First, let me clarify the term "inherit". There are mainly three forms of inheritance: you inherit a battle in the line of attack(Chino XL, Mobb Deep, and the entire East Coast came under fire because 'Pac said so), as an act of self-defense(Busta Rhymes got involved in his first and only rap war because Ja Rule called him out on "Loose Change"), and finally, the most common form of inheritance is what I call a 'declaration of loyalty'. Listen to "Doe Ray Me" and "Like Toy Soldiers" off Eminem's "Encore" CD if you still don't understand this last form.
Speaking of Em, his involvement in the Irv/Ja saga may be deemed as utterly legitimate because The Inc's Prince of R&B (Rap&Blues) hauled a bulky insult at Eminem's 2-yr old daughter. Wrong! Just one painless research and you'll discover how Slim actually brought the battle upon himself. Remember that awful soundtrack to an equally mediocre DMX movie, Cradle to The Grave? Now, recall Em's lyrics on "Go To Sleep" I figured most of you sold the CD on ebay so I went the extra mile: "I'm ridding you, all of you, Ja, you'll get it too!" Sounds like first strike to me. Keep that in mind everytime you listen to "Like Toy Soldiers" where Slim claims that he inserted his head in 50's boiling pot of soup because JaRule said "Hailie's name on a song". The song Em was referring to(Loose Change) was preceeded by "Go To Sleep" back in '02.
Fast forward... 2005;
Battleground: New York City
Opponents: 50 vs Fat Joe,Jada, NaS, and everyone else that's better than his entire click put together. Notice that Jadakiss, and only Jadakiss replied to first. Only when the G-Unit Chief attacked Jada's affiliates in later songs and interviews did D-Block reply as a team. Styles P's promise of a diss record on his upcoming Time Is Money album, and Sheek Louch's stabbing solo reverb "Clickety Clank" - the direct opposite of G-Unit's zombie-like display of loyalty.
I don't remember 1000 label-mates getting involved with the battle between Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J or even Common vs WestSide Connection. Nowadays, rap artists desperately seek publicity under the tired pretext of beef. D-Block's approach is indicative of legitimacy and dignity, while the G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath camp reminds me of battery-packing robots moving in accordance with the demands of a remote control. Please, pause that!

Sunday, April 24, 2005 

Trouble in The Roc-a-fella Camp: Is Jay-Z to Blame?

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIn case you're still living in Rap's stone age, the Rocafella trio of CEO's Dame "Loud Mouth" Dash, Kareem "Invisible Biggs" Burke, and Shawn "BIG Biter" Carter have officially parted ways. The Reason? Pesos, of course. The purpose of this article is not to straddle any of the aforementioned young Black entrepreneurs. I intend to do what many analysts, and writers alike have failed to accomplish - throw some neon light on the situation. I invite you to be the judge of this sad case of betrayal, mistrust, and believe it or not, irreparable insult.
Why do I even bother? Why does Riz, the great gospeller of Underground Hip Hop take such riveting interest in a mainstream label like Roc-a-fella? My answer to that question is as obvious as Freeway's goatie: In the last ten years, The Roc has made exceedingly positive contributions to Real Hip Hop. Not only did they arrest our ears to sizzling rhyme-slingers like Beanie Sigel and Kanye West, they also introduced the world to the propane-flow of a young Jay-Z, who will forever be remembered for creating a landmark Hip Hop album, Reasonable Doubt. Image hosted by
That's the good side. Unfortunately, Jay-Z will also be remembered as the man who abandoned his friends in pursuit of diamonds. But, the question Rap fans are either too forgetful or just blatantly lazy to ask is the same one Jadakiss has been asking since 2004 - WHY? What's the motive? A friendship of over a decade arrived at a dead end because all three parties contributed both positively and negatively.
Dame might have thrown his 300-and something pounds weight behind most of R.O.C.'s rap stars, but he also spit in Jay's face when he appointed a VP(Cam'ron) behind his co-CEO's back. Regardless of what the identity of that VP may be, the usual code of conduct demands that you have a bit of professionalism left inside your brain, enough to at least co-sign with other CEO's.
However, code of conduct is something that The Roc Family have distanced themselves from, as if it were leprosy. Take for instance Jigga's selfish dealings: allegedly refusing to feature on singles to help promote other artists, pushing his own line of sneakers and film production, and eventually yanking the name "Roc-a-fella" away from the other two who helped build the so-called dynasty.
As for Biggs', I don't know any Rap fan with the faintest recollection of his contribution to Roc-a-fella or even Hip Hop in general. Fancy that for an eulogy! Do not confuse my honest disposition for cruelty. Biggs' life is a strong affirmation of my lifelong theory - inactivity is the twin sister of failure. He might have made inputs in aspects of logics and A&R projects, but when it came down to decision making, he was always considered the "me, too" personality, a legacy he's carried into his recent partnership with Dame as the co-CEO of DAME DASH MUSIC GROUP.
Roc-a-fella's split is deeper than it looks on the surface. It only takes understanding to know why huge partnerships, like a major river, starts off smooth but winds up in disparate estuaries. Image hosted by

"Understanding is seeing things for what they really are, not what they
present themselves to be" - AZ

Saturday, April 23, 2005 

The Most Essential Rap Elements

How can you tell if one MC is superior to another? When can you safely say that a Rap artist has attained legendary status? If you know what Real Hip Hop is all about then you'd be able to answer all these questions and many more. Hip Hop is a culture based originally on graffiti, DJing, and Rap. There are hundreds of micro elements that make the art form digestible. But, I'm going to give you a list of the ten most essential elements, without which a rapper is nothing short of a yapper. More interestingly, I'll give you my favorite MC in each category. Before you proceed, locate your pen and paper and get ready to take notes.
1.Flow & Structure: The ability to create a smooth rhyme sequence that makes a song interesting to the ear. Favorites: Big L, Jay-Z.
2.Charisma: Poise. The ability to exhume a great deal of enthusiasm, enough to command a respectable following. Favorites: NaS, KRS-One.
3.Accessibility: An unrestricted connection between an artist and a fan, fostered through songs. If you can relate, then most likely the song is accessible. Image hosted by
Favorite: Lauryn Hill
4.Realness & Street Credibility: When believable tales match actual lifestyles or experiences, then we have a credible artist who keeps it 'real'. The antithesis of a 'fake'. Favorites: 2Pac, Scarface.
5.Rhyme Scheme: The original pattern or style peculiar to a rapper. A rhyme scheme could be 'simple'(Kanye West) or 'complex'(Big Pun). Image hosted by
Favorite: Kool G. Rap
6.Lyrical Prowess: Intelligent rhymes that tug at the medulla.
Favorites: Rakim, Black Thought.
7.Imagery & Concepts: Metaphors, similes, storylines that not only entertain, but also paint vivid pictures("I'm Picasso with words"). Favorites: Canibus, GZA.
8.Punchlines: Compelling lyrical missiles that hit right on the most important target - the ears. Image hosted by
Favorite: Jean Grae
9.Beat: dum-dum-ka. Gully beats represent the raw facet of Rap; Soulful beats signify depth and insight, fancy, 'tinkerbell' beats scream "commercial" Favorites: DJ Premier, Pete Rock.
10.Voice & Tone: Tone must possess enough melody and rhythmic inflations to engage the listener's ears. In other words, the difference between Freeway and Q-Tip.
Favorite: Slick Rick

So there you have it. The Most Essential ingredients required to make Hip Hop delicious. Feel free to comment on tonight's list. Also, I won't charge you any fee for creating your own list, or duplicating mine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 

The New Face of Propaganda

"We write...about wrong 'cause it's hard to see right" - Common
Image hosted by

When was the last time you read an article heralding MC's that have improved their skills lately? Have you ever seen a rap page entitled "Congrats! You've Stepped Up Your Rap Game"? From Vibe to Murder Dog, to the so-called leading rap mags, XXL & The Source, controversy and shock new have become the crux of urban journalism. Why? Controversy sells, duh? Truthfully, a small portion of it would help maintain the balance in the good vs evil setting of modern day society. But, when such negative ramblings become our only available information, then it spells comic like the WWF they've compared rappers to. No wonder NaS set music magazines ablaze(literally) early last year.
The outlets that claim to be preserving our culture turn out to be a huge part of the blaxploitation process. The Source affirmed this point in the most recent issue of the diminishing Rap magazine. The Hip Hop writers bashed Chuck Taylor aka The Game and 50 Cent comparing their alleged 'beef' to the fake acts of the WWF. It's not the bashing that I find disturbing. It's the fact that Rap magazines have stopped reporting issues from the observer viewpoint, gradually immersing entire publications in political subtleties. The art of reporting should always be upheld with impersonal perspectives. Even the underground Hip Hop community's last hope for 'realness' XXL lies on the polar end of these destructive publications, indulging in 'dick-riding' and aiding publicity stunt by average pop-rappers who blindly chase after SoundScan.
I'm still looking forward to the day atop 5 lyricist like Canibus(referred to as "that little fucker" by XXL), Talib Kweli, or a living legend like DJ Premier or The Roots will grace the cover of a leading Hip Hop journal. Instead of paying attention to aesthetics and those that pour their hearts into the skillet of near-perfection, all I've seen is recycled covers and lop-sided features in today's magazines. Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Image hosted by
Let's go back to the basics. Let's return to the backbone of craft that is Rap. If all we see is dollar signs everytime we fill a blank paper with ink, then that's all we live for. Truth is the real nurturer of conscience.

Sunday, April 17, 2005 

"These Are My Confessions"

There's something I've been dying to get off my chest, (and no it's not the "S" on my chest).
I call it my confessions because it's an issue a Hip Hop purist like me would dare not admit. It's almost like a taboo to admit that I slept on some of the dopest albums in the Rap circuit. These albums are so raw that they poked me till they woke me up like a spring mattress. You know you slept too, so don't front like your doo-doo don't stank! Well, I'm wide awake now, so "clearheadedly" I present to you
My Top 5 Previously Slept-on Albums:
  • Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe Pretty Toney Album (Ghostface Killah) - Innovative. Sonically inducive, and entertaining. Skip the flurry of canarl skits. Favorites: Metal Lungies, Be This Way
  • Rip The Jacker (Canibus) - Rap's New Testament in Lyricism and Storytelling. Enigmatic. Favorites: Genabis, Poet Laureate II
  • Starchild (O.C.) - Feel-Good music at its climax. Exceptionally smooth. Favorites: Evaridae(ft Pharoahe Monch), The Professional
  • A Long Hot Summer (Masta Ace) - One of the most entertaining concept albums ever. Favorites: Beautiful, Show Me Some Love
  • 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up(Gift of Gab) - One of the finest moments in underground Hip Hop. A masterpiece. Favorites: The Writz, Way of the Light Image hosted by

Thursday, April 14, 2005 

All Hail The Queen

Image hosted by

As I make a left turn on Fountainview, the adjacent street from my work place on Richmond, my maroon red Nissan Sentra wags its tail, as if to the beat of the tunes blasting from my speakers. My friend and colleague AZ holds his breath and pays intense attention to the ear-grabbing song desperate to find out how the song ends before the ride ends at work. Jean Grae's charismatic voice rings from the box: "This whole driving got me buggin' Seein' visions,...They say the'll relocate me to hell, put my mama in jail, I dumped the caddy for a black Impala, Then I sped off East..."

In an industry largely dominated by the males and/or half-naked females, there's no existing category for an artist like Jean Grae. She'll neither dumb down her lyrics for mass appeal nor will she take off her clothes for record sales. Commercial viability doesn't even exist in Jean's vocabulary. Skill and raw Hip Hop is all that matters. She commands the mike better than 90% of the present day MC, and combines wit with substance. With enough punchlines to fill up a planet, JG's immortal powers are unstoppable.

From her underground debut, Attack of the Attacking things to her most recent effort, This Week, Jean's impeccable lyrics and conversational-flow convey a unique style that is lacking in modern day Hip Hop. The difference between this Jeanius and other rappers who whine about the state of Hip Hop is that she presents herself as a remedy to the deteriorating art, rather than just complain about it. On her classic track, My Crew, she spits: Rap's dead
"Rap sucks, But thanks to ya'll for Killin' it/Grillin' it down//And spillin its guts and fillin' it Back up with trash/.Wait up I mean cash //But aint the two synonymous With media politics?"

While everyone from Jay-Z & NaS to Fat Joe is striving for the New York's virtual throne, Jean Grae is already a queen in her own right. A queen greatly hailed by some of Hip Hop's finest lyricists including The Roots, Skillz, Talib Kweli, and 9th Wonder of Little Brother.

As her tragic tale "Destiny: Chapter One" continues to play, I'm reminded that her reign has just begun. There's no end to the story she's telling, well at least for now, because the next turn would lead us directly into the parking lot of my workplace. Verse 3 remains a mystery to AZ as he heads for work hoping to listen to the rest of the song as soon as he gets off work.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 

Hip Hop & Profanity

My 10-year old cousin knows all the "cuss words" in existence yet he'll pee on himself before letting any one of those s-words, or n-words crawl out of his mouth. He listens to Hip Hop diligently (well, the urban radio's version of Hip Hop). Forget the political arm of this intense debate. FCC apart, is it morally correct to expose children to raw rap songs? Would you, as a die-hard Hip Hop fan, play the unedited version of Cypress Hill's "How I Could Just Kill A Man" to your 8 year-old's hearing?
There's no right way to do the wrong thing. Children under 15 years of age are in the most fragile period of their life. That's what I like to call the "Grooming Phase" usually characterized by habit-forming. Like a sponge, most kids in that age range would absorb the most dominant nutrients you have to offer, unfiltered. So, it would be absolutely detrimental to their psyche to expose kids to music, and movies containing strong images, visual or verbal.
Of course they'll later find out for themselves that their most adorable favorites like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre once made violent songs filled with descriptions of misogyny and death threats. Later, when they're probably old enough to understand. Notice my choice of words:"descriptions of...". In other words, I'm not arguing that such songs were portrayed actual lifestyles of these hardcore rappers. I'm merely saying that such details should be left for the older audience.
Most adults are mature enough to sift the truth from the reality, while very few 'youngsters' even understand the difference. If video games are carnal enough to corrupt young minds, then there's no arguing the fact that violent music is sure to dissensitize a frail mind after much exposure.

Saturday, April 09, 2005 

50 Most Influential Hip Hop Heads

50. Onyx
49.Ras Kass
48.DPG/Snoop Doggy Dogg
47.Arrested Development
46.Black Star
45.Da Beatminerz/Black Moon
42.The Roots
40.MC Lyte
39.Schooly D
38.Big L
37.Leaders of The New School
36.Big Daddy Kane
35.Melle Mel
34.Geto Boys (Scarface)
33.LL Cool J
32.Big Pun
31.Wu-Tang Clan
30.Main Source/Large Professor
28.Public Enemy/Chuck D
27.De La Soul/Digable Planets
26.Common Sense
25.The Notorious B.I.G.
22.House of Pain
21.Bahamadia/Roxanne Shante
20.Biz Markie/Grandmaster Flash
18.Pete Rock & CL Smooth
17.The Sugarhill Gang
16.Grandmaster Caz
15.DJ Marley Marl/Juice Crew
14.Kool G. Rap
13.A Tribe Called Quest
10.Kool Moe Dee
09.Slick Rick
08.KRS-One/BDP/Scott LaRock
07.Tupac Shakur
06.Rocksteady Crew(Crazy Legs)
05.Rick Rubin/Russel Simmons
04.Doug E. Fresh
03.Rakim (Eric B. & Rakim)
02.Afrikaa Bambataa (Zulu Nation)
01.Kool Herc


The Game Vs 50: Did We Fall For Yet Another Hoax?

The beef between 50 Cent and his protege, Chuck Taylor aka The Game may have been another attempt to coy Rap fans. Obviously, the so-called fracas materialized into record sales for the G-Unit General (The Massacre was certified platinum in its first week).
50 Cent blazed through the doors of Hip Hop by taking corny shots at Hip Hop heavyweights and celebrities in general, his first major tutorial in "Publicity Stunt 101". He then went ahead to publicize his near-irrelevant brouhaha with Ja-Rule and Irv Gotti before scoring another one with the Game recently.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the friction is symbolized in this picture of Game and 50 making out. Image hosted by

Friday, April 08, 2005 

Beanie Sigel: The B.Coming

Image hosted by
After cultivating intense anticipation for The B.Coming, Beanie Sigel finally adds a remarkable album to Hip Hop’s roster. Touching on diverse issues, ranging from endogenous assertions (Look At Me Now) to lack of appreciation from opposite sex (Bread and Butter), against all odds (and evens), The B.Coming has managed to put Beanie's transformation into perspective .The album opens with the Heavy D-laced mixtape hit, “Feel It In The Air” where Beans spits classic heat on the subject of distrust, “I read between the lines of your eyes and your brows; your handshake ain’t matching your smile”. Guest appearances, comprise mostly of the usual suspects, State Property: impressive performances by Freeway(except his trademark off-key crooning) & Young Chris (I Can’t Go On This Way), a lousy Peedi and an invisible Twista on the sonically repulsive “Gotta Have It”, the energetic pairing of O & Sparks on the cinematic “Tales of A Hustler II”. But it’s the appearance by a rejuvenated Redman on the high-octane “One Shot Deal” that really stands out. Besides Reggie’s veteran voice , “It’s On” embodies another powerful collabo bundled in Jay-Z’s bow-tie flow(surprisingly lost in the bonus tracks section). Mack Mittens trades rhymes with his mentor affirming his ferocity, “I’m a live-wire…run to hell with gasoline draws on” while Hov spits bragadoccio and masterfully name-drops his trio of Roc favorites: “ Philadelphia Freeway and I’m back without leaving…..If my life is a movie, then Sigel be the sequel, we bring it to your door with Bleek peeking through your peak hole”Although, The B-Coming is dogged by a superfluity of guest features, Beans manages to drown every track with his emphatic flow, taking more than just a fair share of 16’s throughout the album. What really hurts this album is creative compromise for crew loyalty( “Gotta Have It”), and occasional bland production ( “Flatline” ). However, The B.Coming weaves street lamentations with spiritual philosophies ("Lord Have Mercy") , and is easily Beanie Sigel’s most accessible and engraving album till date.
The B.Coming - Beanie Sigel : 4/5


The Resurrection

Like the similarly titled song by Common, the resurrection of Hip Hop is here. Many have lamented over the death of this hugely exploited culture but I beg to differ.
Stay tuned into this site for more!

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Listening to

Blog Fam

Blogroll Me!

The Rap Up RSS/XML

Subscribe to The Rap Up

Add to My AOL

Add to Google

Subscribe in Bloglines