Sunday, June 30, 2013
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Friday, June 28, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Louis wore Boxers ?...of course!!
Good to know I'll have a plan on Valentines next year..lol
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
In 2007 a great friend from Brooklyn NY, turned me on to a mix tape entitled "The Come Up" by an up & Coming MC named J Cole. Now my homie knows I'm an extremely critical listener when it comes to this Hip Hop thing but alas I gave it a listen & was impressed. I had my quips but overall I felt like the dude was talented and had potential. The big question was, could he follow up. Well, The Warm Up soon followed in 2009 & the young producer/MC has continued to follow up and rise to the occasion again & again.
A lot has been made of J Cole's boasts of competitive sales with Kanye West. Both artists albums have hit the retail shelves on the same day. I will not even attempt to compare the two albums or artists but I will say the levels of talent between the two are complimentary. You'll do yourself & your ears a service if you cop both. With that being said lets get to it,
The First track is Villuminati, which starts with a Choral arrangement "I'm a Born Sinner but I bet I die better than that"! This intro sets the tone with Cole spouting "sometimes I brag like Hov'" before diving head first into the string driven, up tempo track. Overall I like this song. Its different in a way that most intros are so over dramatic and drawn out nowadays. Instead J, chooses to start the album off, uptempo with no theatrics. He uses clever word play to get his lines out & his point across i.e.: "Pac had a nigga saying fuck Jigga, fuck Biggie, I was only like eleven so forgive me" "A decade later I'd be all up in the city, trying to get Hov to fuck wit me, with a burnt cd with the jams that was up in my hand, when he said he didn't want it, it was fuck him again"
You can understand why so many folks relate to J Cole from lyrics like these. Nothing is more real in life than dissing your boss. But it takes serious sack to divulge these sentiments on records about a boss who's arguably the biggest name in the genre. Gotta love Hip Hop.
The second song, the "Wheres Jermaine Skit" is brief with more choral vocals & an early musical prelude to the Third track : Forbidden Fruit, a rehashing of the classic Tribe Called Quest sample used for Electric Relaxation (Mystic Brew by Ronnie Foster). With Kendrick Lamar riding shotgun, this song keeps the tempo up from the intro, as both MC's trade witty lyrical barbs. Songs like this can be hit or miss. Most folks born after 1982 will think "Hey thats cool!, they used that old school joynt" but for those of us born anytime before 77', if you touch any of the songs that practically defined our formative years, you could be committing career suicide. Fortunately J & K.Dot come thru like a modern day continuation of Tip & Phife.
Everyone should appreciate the humorous skill displayed over this track.
Chaining Day: This track is easily one of my faves, probably cause I'm a sucker for soulful tracks with deep melodic basslines. "My guilt heavy as this piece I wear, they even iced out Jesus hair…my last PIECE I swear" You can see where this ones going. Overall there is a theme to each song which is great. This is great thoughtful penmanship over a slowed down minimal, melodic track.
Ain't That Some Shit : Taking things into a totally different direction. I almost feel like this is more of a lyrical exercise. Over a bounce track reminiscent of early Timbaland ( think Big Pimpin )
Crooked Smile featuring TLC : A more formulaic concept song directed at the young misguided young ladies & haters. Overall the message is positive & well thought out, lyrically but I can't help thinking sometimes that this is a deliberate attempt to move vaguely into "message music" territory. Don't get me wrong, songs like this one are definitely needed but I expected just a tad bit more depth, particularly in the final verse.
Let Nas Down : Seriously, I don't even know where this idea came from but this track has already grown legs, wings & lungs ( Nas has already written and recorded a response entitled Made Nas Proud)
Heres where J Cole shines though, in ways that the "Game" annoyed his audience with constant references to the greats, J tends to approach things differently. Borderline tirade, with a hint of humble pie smothered with reverence & respect. "Long live the idols may they never be your rivals". You can be great only if you can recognize greatness before you. This song & track do a great job of acknowledging the treasured opinions of our mentors.
Born Sinner featuring Fauntleroy : The ever maligned title track. In my years as a musical snob, I've found that the title song on most Hip Hop albums is usually forgettable. This song kinda fits the stereotype.
I guess its the track that doesn't appeal so much to me ( sue me, I make beats, whatdya expect! I'm a critic! ) The first choral arrangement recited in the albums opening line is the basis of this song. The highlight of the track is the a cappella ending with the choir singing this line in refrain. I appreciate the message of the song but I thought the track was too understated. Simple piano driven arrangement with really chaotic drums. Kryptonite for my ears.
Land of the Snakes : This song falls short musically where Forbidden Fruit excels. Using a rehashed version of Outkasts' classic Da Art of Story Tellin. This is more of a concept that could've been left alone. We've heard this before and I think J could stand to move his listeners in a more original direction. He has too much talent as a producer to rely on old ideas to carry a concept. Keep it Moving
Power Trip : The downtempo first single that seems to have captivated his audience. This screams of the "Drake effect ", you know the Drake Effect, right? Where you do a subdued borderline dark musical arrangement, slowed down, directed at the fairer sex with a catchy hook " Would you believe me if I said I'm in Love…blah blah blah." Doesn't really matter what i think though cause this songs already a hit and its probably a big reason why Cole will sell at least a couple hundred thousand copies of this very album.
Mo Money : My favorite song, period. Why? Cause it sounds creepy & the drums are hard, plus money is the root of all evil and I love to hear a great lyricist paddle the subject against the wall, effortlessly. Matter of fact I'm listening to it for the 387th time. I'm obsessed, I'm hypnotized & yes I'm B-Money, I'm so Money, Mo Money! ok lemme calm down….
Trouble : Slowed down, heavy in the bottom, By the time this song comes along you've forgotten that this is the popular sound of the moment. More choral arrangements throughout the song & chorus. I can live with this one. Overall the best rhyme ever, "but I got dumb as shit hangin round these rappers cause they dumb as shit". Hmm witty…lol!
Runaway : Another great joynt. I love this record. Great lush musical arrangement. Laid back tempo & vibe with a bit of bounce to it. J goes in on this record too. You can tell from the inflections in his voice that he's really into this one. The hook's tone will remind you of Mos Def's "Umi Says". A lot of great elements combine to make this song a standout. I feel like this is where Kendrick Lamar has advanced a lot farther than most.
He undertands how to embrace an entire sound and exploit it for the duration where as artists like J Cole will work to experiment with different sounds per song.
She knows : This is a perfect example of my prior point. This song features Amber Coffman singing an eery falsetto, inaudible hook. I like this record but for some reason it just doesn't seem to fit compared to the comfortable vibe established in the previous song.
Rich Niggaz : Opens with one of my all time favorite instruments, the Harp. Pretty much had me at hello with this one. This song definitely fits the mold. Laid back with an aggressive drum arrangement. For some reason J is one of the best at flipping lyrical forays over the bounce format. Alas, still no Jay Z feature but its all good though, this album delivers. You can listen to it over and over and its very easy on the ears. Production goes from sparse to lush and J adapts his flow to both, seamlessly.
Overall I rate this album higher than his debut. A good & simple barometer for an ever growing artist in an extremely fickle genre. I say "Born Sinner" is worth every penny of your hard earned money. Its good music from a good dude who happens to Rap pretty good. What more do you need nowadays…..?
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I'm gonna keep it short; it aint that deep. Kanye offers up his latest album, "Yeezus", just in time for the summer. Like most people, I downloaded from a link last week, and listened thru it one good time. Since i'm not a 'twitter cool kid', I decided my opinions on the leak, on the day of the leak, were not really necessary; there were plenty of snap judgements and half cooked critiques being issued. upon my first listen though, ...I came away with 7 songs that tugged at my heart strings enough to make my head nod, foot tap, crack a smile, and/or make that "who pooted?!" face. After purchasing and listening again on the official drop day, I came away with the same feelings. That's not to say everything else was horrible though. I'm fair; either I like something, or it's not quite for me. But anyway, since the whole social media world has already gone off the top rope about every detail of the project, I'll just give you the play-by-play of the tracks I liked, then hit you off wit the good ol' "sandwich method", overview, to wrap it up. Fair? Aiight. ...
First track that I really liked was "Black Skinhead". I watched him perform it on SNL, but you know how performances of new, unheard songs can go. Upon hearing the recorded version, I really liked it. Aggressive militant march music, is how I'd decribe it. The drum rhythm is undeniable, that distorted electric guitar-like bassline is tough. Kanye's delivery is intensely entertaining, his bars hit like potent jabs to the face, and the yelling/adlibs were a good touch on this one.
"I Am A God". ...Ok, so the bars are nice; he gives us a few quotes to tweet & retweet. The beat is interesting, and definitely serves as a great canvas for his hook, verses, and screaming. Yeah; we finna talk about the screaming. So, ... he starts screaming, right? Which totally stops my light head nod dead in its tracks. But I'm fair. The song title is "I Am A God", ... and if I were a rapper, that was a god, that shit could get crazy, and maybe even make me wanna scream in the middle of my songs. So yeah, I didn't let that completely throw me off.
"New Slaves" is dope. The beat is pretty minimal, and didn't do much for me, but it didn't seem like it was invited to the party to be the show stopper. Ye ripped it; is there any debate on that issue? Dude definitely stained up the Hamptons on this one, along with some other lyrically ill shit. The switch-up that happens later in the track is cool, I guess. I would've rather heard him rip that too, you get what you get with Ye.
"I'm In It" is dope, to me. It kinda drags in the beginning, and you're hoping the beat will eventually do something a bit more entertaining and comfortable, and at aboutin, shit happens. I guess you can credit Mike Dean for giving it that bounce that makes it fun. Just to keep it funky, I think I kinda wanted more moments on this album like this one. Bars and beats that you could definitely bump in a playlist of similar ...My bad; getting ahead of myself. Lets continue.
"Blood On The Leaves" was one of the only song titles I kept hearing and seeing people talk about before I could get a chance to download/listen. From the first second when it started playing, and again when that horn comes in, ...I could see why. Mike Dean strikes again? Probably. The whole feel of the track is potent. I'm good on the autotune though. Not because I'm one of "those people", but because honestly, he hasn't to this point really used it in an innovative way, and it doesn't really make his singing any better, in my opinion. But anyway, it's a cool track; I ain't mad at it.
And then "Guilt Trip" comes in, all nice with the fluttery synth arp, bassline, and with Kanye singin; which had me a little worried because I like my Kanye rapping. But the beat comes in, and he gets to sing-spittin, and once the hook comes in, I'm diggin it. Definitely a nice vibe. On this one, you got an all-star cast of talent helping and/or adding an ingredient here and there. Anytime you get Kanye, S1, Kid Cudi, and Mike Dean on one track, you can expect that if nothing else it will be sonically pleasing, and well orchestrated. This one was all those.
"Bound2" is my favorite. Not because its a dry sample track, giving us "that old Ye" people cry and beg to hear each song, but because of the song itself, the bars he's spittin, ...along with the soul in the sample, ...damn; I guess this is "that old Ye", huh?! Uncle Charlie (Wilson) comes thru and does his thing, which again doesn't take away from, yet doesn't quite do anything for me, and then the sample comes back and gives you a lil bit more of what you really want, and then its over. Yep!. ...
Overall, this is another dope piece of work to add to his total body of work. Ok, OK: here's maybe 2-5 more Kanye tracks you can add to your personal list of "Kanye songs I like" playlist. People complained about the mixing/levels/etc., but I had no trouble with it. It had a rough, loudness to it. I'm good with that. But yeah, I guess if the fate of the world depended on how well this album sounded, then hey ...Whatever man; it ain't that serious.
I do feel that Kanye may have let his fans down a bit by not coming with one or two "radio" or "club" songs that folks and their young ins could chant the hooks to as they walk thru the house/workplace/school yard. When all of these other artists are out here dropping albums and mixtapes that are entertainingly competitive in their respective genres, you kinda hope that your guy/girl/group "comes wit it", and helps to win over some of the other artists' fans, thus validating your proud fanship. Kanye went for more artistic, rather than universally entertaining on this one, which left a lot of real fans and casual fans wanting a bit more.
I'm a fan. I've been a Kanye fan since the late 90's/early 2000's. If Kanye is Yeezus, consider me a disciple that has won souls and converted non-believers. I'm not the president of the fan club or a "stan" though. I give people a little bit more than base-level respect, and understanding. Though I don't know Ye personally, I could understand him making one album, out of many, that he'd pretty much express himself creatively through yelling and loud, industrial, aggressive, beautiful noise. And he references Michael Jackson quite a bit, ...and Mike was all about the expression of emotions and creativity through just damn yellin, ..., ...But yeah, ...Pick the couple of tracks you like, and keep it moving. He'll more than likely come with more albums as time goes on, that will have a different theme/feel/texture/etc., which will give him more chances to impress your socks off and maybe, just maybe even win you over enough to earn your blessing, and dollar. And if not, c'mon; it isn't like dude AINT got hits, dawg. Have a folding chair.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
From the Wall Street Journal : Interview with Rick Rubin concerning production work on Yeezus album w/Kanye
By John Jurgenson link :http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/06/14/the-inside-story-of-kanye-wests-yeezus/
Though he has no limit of artistic self-regard, Kanye West is quick to credit his collaborators. This week, the rapper named some of the personnel who helped shape his anticipated album “Yeezus” (due Tuesday), revealing that Daft Punk had produced a handful of songs and that Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon appeared with Chicago rapper Chief Keef on a track that almost didn’t make the album.
Perhaps the most crucial (and last-minute) contributions came from producer Rick Rubin, who has midwifed albums for everyone from Beastie Boys to Johnny Cash. With just weeks to go before “Yeezus” was due, West recruited him to finish tracks and help give the album a cohesive sound.
At a semi-public “Yeezus” listening session in New York last Monday the rapper told the assembled crowd, “It was good for me to go to the god, Rick Rubin, and play him my sh–, ask him questions, and allow him to take this project to an entirely new level.”
Rubin is credited on “Yeezus” as an executive producer. We asked the producer to describe his role, and here’s what he had to say via email, less than a week after West submitted the completed album to Def Jam.
When and why did you join the “Yeezus” project?
Kanye came over to play me what I assumed was going to be the finished album at three weeks before the last possible delivery date. We ended up listening to three hours of partially finished pieces. The raw material was very strong but hadn’t yet come into focus. Many of the vocals hadn’t been recorded yet, and many of those still didn’t have lyrics. From what he played me, it sounded like several months more work had to be done. I joined the project because after discussing what he had played for me, he asked if I would be open to taking all of the raw material on and help him finish it.
How would you describe the new sound he was driving for, and how you did you help him arrive there?
He wanted the music to take a stripped-down minimal direction. He was always examining what we could take out instead of put in. A good example would be the song that became “Bound.” When he first played it for me, it was a more middle of the road R&B song, done in an adult contemporary style. Kanye had the idea of combining that track with a cool sample he had found and liked – I removed all of the R&B elements leaving only a single note baseline in the hook which we processed to have a punk edge in the Suicide tradition.
Can you recall a scene from the sessions that might help people understand his method in the studio?
We were working on a Sunday [the same day West attended a baby shower for girlfriend Kim Kardashian] and the album was to be turned in two days later. Kanye was planning to go to Milan that night. Five songs still needed vocals and two or three of them still needed lyrics. He said, “Don’t worry, I will score 40 points for you in the fourth quarter.” In the two hours before had to run out to catch the plane, he did exactly that: finished all lyrics and performed them with gusto. A remarkable feat. He had total confidence in his ability to get the job done when push came to shove.
Where does “Yeezus” put him in relation to hip-hop and the broader music culture?
He is a true artist who happens to make music under the wide umbrella of hip hop. He is in no way beholden to hip hop’s typical messaging musical cliches. Hip hop is a grander, more personal form because of his contributions, and hopefully his work will inspire others to push the boundaries of what’s possible in hip hop.
To what extent have you been involved in the rollout of the album? I’d like to hear your thoughts on his “no strategy” method of promotion, for example declining to release an official video or a single.
He is pure in his art and in a form where so many choices artists make are often the result of business consideration. Kanye chooses to let his art lead. He didn’t want a premeditated commercial (single) for his album as he looks at it as a body of work. I like it anytime an artist follows his own vision of a project and doesn’t use the cookie cutter template expected of most artists. Kanye proceeds on the road less traveled and I applaud him for it.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
One of my favorite personal YouTube channels right now and for the foreseeable future is "westfesttv", which is home to the big homie Snoop Dogg's(@SnoopDogg) ever-entertaining and informative "GGN"(@doublegnews). With close to a half a mil YouTubers currently subscribing, and close to 200 mil views on a total of 806 videos, Snoop Dogg's official YouTube channel has been a flourishing success since it's 2008 arrival.
I decided to use one of the recent episodes which features an interview with new Taylor Gang artist, Berner(@berner415), as he drops in on GGN to flex some freestyle skills as well as his knowledge of, and passion for the world's best produce, as well as his "Cookies" from the Bay area.
A cool idea from a cool dude who makes some pretty tight music. When the homie Trifeckta says post some hotness It's definitely gotta happen. Get a taste of what it's like to get into the mind of an artist & work to craft something that will be immortalized in song.