Tag Archives: Music

When in Rome…

Big+KRIT+BIGkrit 300x208 When in Rome...

In New York, a young college student wakes up to get ready for work.  He lives on campus, but his job is in another borough.  Leaving his dorm, he walks a couple of blocks down to the subway to take metro.  During his commute to work, he spends most of his time walking and riding the train.  Earphones, in his ear, he listens to an assortment of rap songs with hard drums, samples, and airy beats that give leeway for the emcee on the song to speak to him.  During his long commute, he wants to listen to every detail.

In Texas, a group of guys are getting ready to go out for the night.    One of the hot spots around town is a local club where most of the fun happens outside in the parking lot.  Groups of people ride slow, cruising the parking lot like an amateur car show is taking place.  The prowess of the ride, from the rims, to the sound, is what’s on full display.  The group of guys gather in an old Caprice that looks like it was made in 2011, but was actually made in 1987.  As they make the commute from the freeway to the club, they listen to an assortment of raps songs with 808 kick drums, soulful samples that sound like 70’s band covers, heavy bass, and catchy melodies for the songs’ choruses.  The sound is the soundtrack for the night.

In California, a group of guys are riding around.  The California weather is just perfect enough for the driver to let the top back on his Impala.  Riding past palm trees, shops, and pretty women, the prowess of the ride is what’s on full display.  Blasting from the stereo is an assortment of rap songs with funk samples, heavy bass, and catchy melodies.  The music is aggressive, yet laidback. 

What am I getting at?

The culture of a region dictates the type of hip hop that is popular in that region.

As far as hip hop goes, not one coast or region is necessarily better.  Good music is good music.  But maybe the cultures of our regions influence the taste for that region.  On the East Coast, people don’t spend as much time in their cars.  Everything is always on the move.  When things finally do slow down, then it’s a time to take in everything around you, including the music.  In the South, we spend most of our time in our cars.  It’s one of the reasons why Southern music and West Coast music have such similar sounds.  Both of our cultures are laidback.  ]

This doesn’t mean that Southerners prefer beats over lyrics, or that East Coast listeners need everything to be deep.  It doesn’t mean that West Coast listeners have a particular preference.  I’m of the mindset, “To each his own.” 

I just know that when I’m on my way to kick it, I want to listen to something with heavy bass, an 808 drum with a kick harder than Habanero, a hook that sets the mood for the debauchery I’m about to get into, with misogynistic lyrics that aren’t outright vulgar, but poetically intertwined with the music in such a way that it’s tastefully vulgar. 

And I want you to hear it from a block away.

How do you like the majority of your music?  Do you prefer catchy or deep lyrics?  Do you prefer wittiness or something that draws emotion?

New Music Friday

newmusic New Music Friday

We’re all familiar with the Alicia Keys’s, Jay-Z’s, Beyonce’s, and Ne-Yo’s of the world.  But what about the up-and-coming artists?  What new artists are out there who have a serious buzz?

Today’s post is dedicated to new artists you may or may not have heard of.  Some you may recognize.  Some you may not.  However, like Lil’ Wayne and Lauren London, I’m here to put you up on that New-New. 

J. Cole – He is the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s Rocnation label.  He hails from Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Kanye built a buzz off of being a college dropout.  J. Cole graduated with a degree from St. John’s University.  Check him out: www.jcolemusic.com

Melanie Fiona – She’s Guyanese.  She can sing.  She can actually sing live.  Her album is nice with sprinkles of island flavor in it.  Check her out: www.melaniefiona.com

607 – He’s in the Guiness Book of World Records for creating the first rap verse to make sense when read backwards and forwards.  He’s a hybrid of sorts, can freestyle, battle, and make great songs.  Check him out: www.myspace.com/607

Suga City – Hailing from Arkansas, this rap duo recently earned a spot on the popular Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare video game soundtrack.  They are definitely not your stereotypical southern mc’s.  Check them out: www.myspace.com/sugacity

Bridget Kelly– I heard her sing at a Jay-Z show recently.  She was filling in for Alicia Keys, singing the hook for Empire State of Mind.  Man, did she KILL it!  I haven’t heard any original material from her yet, but I’m waiting.  I do have her Twitter page.  Check her out: http://twitter.com/TheycallmeBK

That’s just a short list for now.  What other artists out there are we sleeping on?  What do you think about those mentioned above?  Share names and links to their music if you can.

2009 BET Hip Hop Awards: The Cipher

betmain 2009 BET Hip Hop Awards: The Cipher

I don’t really eff with BET, but the hip hop awards was last night… and I effs with hip hop!

Today’s post isn’t about the actual awards show.  It’s about the actual ciphers.  There were 3 segments in the show where BET took a mix of known and unknown MC’s and just let them freestyle.  This year had some of the bigger names than in year’s past.  The following is a review and ranking of each MC:

Segment #1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihg0lIte8Bw

Nikki Minaj – Yeah her body may be made of more plastic than Angel Lola Luv, but she actually held her own… and she went first in the cipher.  You can tell she’s been hanging out with Lil Wayne a lot b/c her lines were metaphor and punchline heavy. 

Buckshot – He wasn’t on my radar before hearing him, but he held is own.  He had a chance to shine, but came off as decent and mediocre. 

Crown Royyal – This dude has a nice delivery.  He was different.  But it’s sad when Nikki Minaj is still in the lead after these two guys.

Joe Budden – He went in!  He killed it!  Hands down, Budden spit the best out of all the MC’s on the segments.  If you listen to end of his verse, he was going at Jay and possibly Wayne. 

Segment #2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzexmttYxhM

Wale – Wale aka MC Mediocre aka The Rap M.Knight.Shyamalan quite possibly had the worst flow/freestyle out of all the MC’s… in all segments.  I think he rhymes in iambic pentameter.  Flow was lackluster, lazy, and I think the African cat who spit after him made more sense than he did.

Nipsey Hustle – He had a solid freestyle.  He brought that good West Coast flavor.  And he was waaaay better than Wale.  Dude looks like Snoop’s long lost son.

GSan – He spit in native African tongue… and he made more sense than Wale.

KRS-One – KRS actually freestyled… and you could tell it!  I think he had the 3rd best freestyle, but that’s not taking anything away from him.  He killed it too!

Segment #3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJS2P2B7dsE

Mos Def – Mos held it down.  Flow was nice, but you just knew Eminem was lurking waiting to kill it. 

Black Thought – I expected more from Black Thought.  He got a little off-beat at times, and Mos was still winning after Thought was done.

Eminem – Seeing how Em just recently re-emerged on the scene, I know a lot of people were eager to see if he still had it… and the white boy still has it!  His flow was crazy.  At first listen, it would seem like he was just stringing word together to rhyme… On second listen, he was going in! 

My rankings are as follows:

1st place – Joe Budden

2nd place – Eminem

3rd place – KRS-One

4th place – Nikki Minaj (sad, I had to put her over Mos)

5th place – Mos Def

Everyone else was… Ehh!

What say you?  Which MC had the best “freestyle” (Let’s face it… we all know most of them had pre-written rhymes)???  Who disappointed?  Who went hard?

The Blueprint 3 Review

jay z blueprint3 cover The Blueprint 3 Review

It was supposed to be released 9/11/09, but the release date was bumped up to 9/09/09.  So now that it’s here, what do we make of Jay-Z’s 11th studio album?  To sum it up, it’s no classic… but it is a great album.  Let’s get into a track-by-track breakdown:

1. What We Talkin’ Bout – I don’t like to throw the term, classic, around loosely… but this is a classic intro.  Jay’s flow is on point.  The beat grabs you immediately, setting Jay up perfectly to go in.  The lyrics are even more compelling as Jay let’s the listeners know on this track that the subject matter of his music has changed.  He’s a grown up now.  Deal with it. 5/5

2. Thank You – The beat is okay.  Overall, this isn’t the greatest song in the world.  But Hov’s last verse literally saves and makes this song.  4/5

3.  D.O.A. – The reception to this song when it first dropped was mixed at best.  I think Jay does his best Biggie impersonation on this one.  Jay ended the throwback jersey trend with one line.  He dedicated a whole song to the auto-tune trend.  The jury’s still out on whether he succeeded or not. 3.5/5

4. Run This Town – This song is a great collabo.  I like how Jay switched up his flow on this and approached the song at a different angle.  And of course you can’t lose with Rihanna on the hook.  Too bad Kanye murdered him on the last verse.  3.5/5

5. Empire State of Mind – I’m not from NY, but if I was from NY, I would be pleased with Jay’s ode to the Big Apple.  4.5/5

6. Real As It Gets – This is a banger.  Great beat.  Jeezy on the hook and he’s goes hard with his verse.  Perfect complement to Jay on this one.  5/5

7. On to the Next One – This song had to grow on me, but it’s become one of my favorites.  “N*ggas want my old sh*t, buy my old album… I don’t get dropped.  I dropped the label…”  Then he goes on to brag about having Oprah chilling with him in the projects.  With Jay being a rapper, and Oprah’s not-so-good-rapport with rappers, Jay gets a +1 just for accomplishing that feat. 4/5

8. Off That – Worst song on the album.  I seriously think Jay just got a throw away Timbaland track meant for Justin Timberlake or Nelly Furtardo, then threw Drake on the hook just because of Drake’s buzz.  I think he should have let Drake spit on this one, but why risk getting killed on your own song by a rookie? 2/5

9.  A Star Is Born– Very creative song.  I like how Hov pays homage to his peers in hip hop on this one.  Guest rapper, J. Cole, held his own too. 5/5

10. Venus Vs. Mars – Of course you have to have a female joint, right? I like Jay’s approach on this one.  Good concept and his wordplay is good on this one.  But it’s mediocre. 3.5/5

11. Already Home – Along with track #1, this is one of the best songs on the album.  Kid Cudi (who has to possess some kind of talent… I’m just not sure what it is yet) actually fits in and does a good job on the hook of this song. 5/5

12. Hate – This song is… different.  Hov and Kanye go back and forth on this one and actually pull it off.  Their flow and word play on this song is crazy.  And of course Kanye adds the laser sound effects to his flow.  You just have to hear it. 4.5/5

13. Reminder – Nice beat.  Horrible hook.  If you lose the hook, then this song could have been a 4. 3.5/5

14. So Ambitious – Nice laidback, Pharrell track.  But this is no Allure. 3.5/5

15. Young Forever – At first listen, this sounds like Beach Chair off of Kingdom Come. The content is decent, and it’s a relevant song being that Jay is almost 40 years old.  His last verse sounds like he copied Lil Wayne’s signature, slow roll, flow.  3.5/5

Overall, this is a pretty good album.  It’s not a classic.  It’s not horrible.  It’s just good music.  I give it a strong 4/5.  You can pick and choose your favorite tracks, but there are more good songs than wack/mediocre songs on here.  I think this was Jay’s first step in a new direction.  He is giving us a “blueprint” of what his music is going to sound like… more mature subject matter, mixed in with hints of his old self, and more risk-taking.