A four month hiatus? Damn, I’m slacking after spending all the time getting this new website up. I’ll blame the marriage-industry complex taking up most of my time as I’m about to get married in like two weeks. Having to plan and pay for a wedding has led me to believe that kids shouldn’t go to grad school, they should just become wedding planners or wedding vendors. That business is straight cash homie. OK excuses aside, here are a few rambling thoughts:
Sum Ish I Wrote -
Common’s new album Nobody’s Smiling is the most accurate title for an album this year, because most fans won’t be smiling after listening to this mish-mashed/meh record. This website is named after a Common song, “Sum Ish I Wrote”, so obviously I have an affinity for Lonnie. When I learned Common was releasing a new album featuring NO ID production, I automatically gave the record high expectations. Resurrection is a Hip-Hop classic, and Common’s latest with NO ID The Dreamer, The Believer wasn’t half-bad. The lead singles which featured Vince Staples like “Kingdom” got me hype, but the record simply doesn’t deliver. It’s like he is trying to be “Chiraq”, conscious, and grown and sexy all at the same time. The album lacks a theme or grabbing music, which is disappointing considering the emcee and producer behind the project. Common will always be the boy, there are a few cool tracks, but I can’t say I’m feeling his new record as a whole. Can someone convince me otherwise? As a PS, Vince Staples is the boy and mirks his verses on this album.
My favorite part of the Solange / Jay-Z elevator fiasco was the fact that Beyonce was in the elevator the entire time doing absolutely nothing. I wonder what was going on in her head at that time. Maybe she was thinking Jay-Z deserved the blows thrown his way for philandering done on his part. Maybe she was thinking about how the pyramids could have been built by man when each stone weighs like 10 tons (illuminati?). Either way, seems like the family Knowles has moved on from this event. My only hope from all of this is that it gives Solange’s career a boost, because of the three, she is making the most interesting music. If you don’t agree, I dare you to name 5 songs from Jay-Z’s last album.
The worst “controversy” of this year is the Hot 97/ Peter Rosenberg vs. Chuck D beef centered around Hot 97 and corporate radio’s poor radio rotation. Chuck D said that Hot 97 should dedicate more air time to local artists. Here is why that’s a losing argument – Hot 97 isn’t a indie radio station, it’s a limb of a corporate entity. They are trying to get VH1 money with reality shows and play shit mainstream labels give them. They dont have a choice. I know Peter’s taste in Hip-Hop, it isn’t what he plays on the morning show. But, saying Chuck D trolling wasn’t a good look for him and I’m happy Peter apologized and all that shit can be put to rest. Lost in this useless argument is the fact that we as fans dont need radio stations like Hot 97 to do anything. We have the ultimate radio station – the internet. Spotify. Soundcloud. Countless blogs with links. This isn’t the 80′s when fans needed radio to introduce them to a diverse array of music, there are so many opportunities to find different music so easily now. Sure this diaspora will favor only certain artists getting huge through mainstream radio, but as a fan, my only goal is to find music I like. Whoever benefits the most isn’t my chief concern. Using the radio to find new music is like using a boat to travel the Atlantic, it’s just outdated with all the new technology out there.
2014 has been a weak year overall for Hip-Hop. By this juncture there is usually a few Hip-Hop LP’s that compel multiple listens weekly. Perhaps I was so mad at Common’s record, because it could have filled that role of “jewel of the year.” What are the best Hip-Hop albums of the year? For me, probably Freddie Gibbs / Madlib and Isaiah Rashad attempt to fill that void the best. Madlib’s beats on Freddie Gibbs LP are immaculate, and the record flows pretty damn well with Freddie being one of the only emcees able to ride Madlib’s beats properly. While I went bonkers over this record at first, it has slowly fell out of rotation. I still dig the Isaiah Rashad album, as it reminds me of old Outkast. His flow and choice of production are super refreshing, and he has quickly become my favorite rapper on the TDE label. But what else can you consider as a great rap album in 2014?
I bought the Skyzoo/Torae collabo LP off the strength of their name, but the album ended up being kinda…boring? Sometimes I think Skyzoo thinks he is Whitney Houston or Mary J Blige the way he drops this monotonous, repetitive choruses. Both emcees rip tracks, but I dont know, the album doesnt command me to keep bumping it. Everyone else in NY (See A$AP) seems happy ripping off the South’s production and flow. Whenever I listen to Hot 97 I feel completely out of touch with all the high-bpm/ heavy 808 knockin’ shit that reminds me of old Rap-A-Lot. I guess that’s what the kids like these days, but kids these days suck anyhow. Kids these days drink less and do less drugs than back in our day, and they appear to gravitate to weaker emcees repetitively rapping about drugs, violence, and sex (YG, Chief Keef, Big Sean, French Montana, Yung Lean, Wiz Khalifa, so on and so forth). If I want party rap, I’m moving with Future anyhow. I’m a pretty particular listener, so I dont expect the mainstream to deliver great albums for fans like me. But we had Kendrick Lamar a few years back, Kanye’s joints, Chance the Rapper last year, etc – this year seems especially weak in this regard.
I suppose The Roots album is good, but it’s good music and doesnt feel like great Hip-Hop. Black Thought barely has any strong verses on it, and feels closer to a Raheem DeVaughn/Bilal album than anything else. Black Thought RIPS this track with Statik Selektah, Royce da 5’9, and Action Bronson, and that passionate lyricism is missing on the new Roots album. I blame Jimmy Fallon.
If it’s not Hip-Hop, I find myself listening to hella St Vincent, Mayer Hawthorne, and Chromeo. But, I’m absolutely craving boom-bap these days. The buzz behind Your Old Droog’s EP was based on him sounding very close to Nas but lost in that buzz is the fact that this guy dropped one of the best rap EP’s of the year. The guy’s flow is great and I love how he trolls fans by referencing Nas constantly. Do yourself a favor and check this if you haven’t already.
When it comes to Hip-Hop, nothing is better than a fantastic performance live. I was lucky enough to catch Nas’s first illmatic show with an orchestra at DC’s Kennedy Center. It was probably the best concert I have ever been to, with Nas rapping the entirety of illmatic with a full orchestra backing. It was a two hour show (!!) featuring the classic record and other classic joints (I lost my mind when he did his verse from “Live at the BBQ”). I hope Nas can take this show on the road, because every Hip-Hop fan deserves a chance to catch this performance. I just rolled with my fiancee to a De la Soul show in DC which was mad fun thanks to De La’s incredible energy. Energy is the difference between a good show and a great show, and you couldn’t tell De La Soul are in their 40′s with the way they were hopping around on stage imploring fans to wyle out with them.
From a record sales perspective, Iggy Azalea has been killing it. “Fancy” is a super hit. As is that song with Ariana Grande. She can rhyme (sorta) and has great party beats behind her (“Work” is legit), but I wondered how the mainstream would accepted a white, Australian chick who sounds like she is merely copying a southern black girl’s accent. America at first didnt care and has propelled her to star status. Now it seems the summer of Iggy may be reaching a fall, as artists are starting to point out that perhaps she is giving less of an homage and just copping styles to make sales that only a white performer could do. Iggy is attractive, a white person, and therefore becomes a more palatable rap artist for the mainstream. That ruffles feathers. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Eminem was a beacon for criticism, and he never switched up his accent to sound different. Iggy doesn’t need the more race conscious people behind her to make her money, but if the chorus of discontent is loud enough, it’ll drown out all of her “do dats.”
Apparently John Boehner is suing President Obama for using expanded powers. President Obama may have violated the Constitution with this executive actions, but for the most part, he made these actions because Congress was more indignant than the unattractive cock-blocking friend of a girl you are trying to hit on. There doesnt appear to be a real purpose to this other than trying to mar President Obama’s presidency. It seems that the House GOP is more interested on shitting on President Obama than actually coming up with ideas to help the country. You actually see these idiots blame President Obama for the recent plane attack disaster in Ukraine. Delusional fucks. Not just because you cant blame President Obama for everything wrong in their world, but it’s because trying to mar President Obama’s legacy is a losing battle. In a decade or so, every major city will have an Obama Avenue, Obama Elementary, etc., just like JFK or MLK, JR. Has he done as much as them? Probably not, but his status cannot be understated. Also look at his objective record – he’s the first Black President. He rebounded the economy after GWB, passed some form of health care reform, and killed Osama Bin Laden. You can’t take that away from him, no matter how many lawsuits you bring against him. You can definitely shit on him for the NSA and drones, but America doesn’t remember the details, only the big picture when it comes to leaders. Clinton is revered right now and he copped a beejer with a big ass grin while President just like 20 years ago. The GOP powers that be are trying to take shots at the future legend so their kids dont have to hear about President Obama in such a positive light, but it’s too late for that. President Obama is like LeBron, he already got his title and history will reflect on him positively absent a real error on his ledger.
Riff Raff is a pretty terrible rapper, but god damnit, I can’t deny the illness that is “Introducing the Icon.” That beat is FIRE and Riff Raff is hilarious.
I really like Blueprint’s Respect the Architect. I forgot to shout this out earlier in the column, but you can cop it at your own price at Blueprint’s website. I definitely recommend a purchase, this album is dope.
Ok, that’s enough ramblin’ for now. Hopefully I’ll get a post before ye olde nuptials, but then again I disappeared for months.