14 June 2018

The End of Mo'Nique | B-Sides Podcast


After the podcast, the fellas decide to delve into the recent (old as fuck) news about Mo'Nique not being offered her supposed 'just due' with Netflix.  We discuss her achievements as well as her pitfalls and why she may never experience another ounce of success in this business. Listen as the three of us rip into Mo's entire career in less than 20 minutes.  



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12 June 2018

REVIEW | Pusha T - Daytona

King Push. We've been waiting for Pusha T's third solo studio album since his 2015 LP, King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude. Most knew what to expect on Daytona given the VA emcee's pedigree and GOOD Music affiliation: DOPE features, Kanye beats, and ALL THAT cocaina flow. After a gang of push back dates, we finally got the release date on April 19th. And apparently the album wasn't "finished" until the 23rd of May, two days before the Friday 25th release. If you knew all that, cool. If not, now you know. But honestly all the behind the curtain moves don't mean a thing if you don't produce. So how did King Pu..Daytona do? Let's get into it.

Since this joint is only 7 tracks long I'm gonna do the review like this: review my two favorite tracks. The "Santeria" instrumental is probably my favorite. But the second I heard it, I had a moment of déjà vu. After some OCD investigating I was able to crack the case. "Santeria" samples Soul Mann & the Brothers' "Bumpy's Lament", from the SHAFT album. Lil' Kim sampled the same instrumental on her Hard Core track, "Drugs". The Clipse used that Lil' Kim instrumental for the track "Ultimate Flow", on their mixtape We Got It 4 Cheap, Vol. 2. Boom. Case cracked (ha, that's just a taste of what my brain be like when I get lost in Hip Hop). "Santeria" is a very vulnerable and introspective track from Push. At the core, it is Push talking to his slain road manager De'Von “Day Day” Pickett. De'Von was the one who made sure everything ran like clockwork on tours. Push also says that he is the one that made sure all tour members said a prayer before each show. All lose of life is tragic, but when someone is taken before their time it leaves a stronger imprint on those who are still present. This track gives us vivid bars that paint images of anger, vengeance, pain, and sadness. The word Santeria literally means "worship of saints". This Afro-Cuban religion was born out of the slave trade era. Parts of this religion believe in communicating with ancestors/deities through trance, animal sacrifice, and sacred drumming/dance. With this song, Pusha T is communicating with another "saint" of his. You throw in a choir-type "hook" (more of a refrain) in Spanish, and you got one of Pusha T's best songs. Ever.

"Infrared", the final track on the minimal album is chock full of metaphors and double entendres. But I know y'all just want me to talk about that Pusha T/Drake beef. Here's the breakdown.  In 2006, The Clipse released Hell Hath No Fury and the track "Mr. Me Too". The duo claimed it wasn't aimed at anyone specific, but Lil Wayne felt otherwise. Inception. In 2012 Push dropped the single "Exodus 23:1". This was his "I don't kill soloists, only kill squads" track that went IN on the whole YMCMB camp. This time openly directed at Wayne, but this time at Drake as well. Wayne hit back hard with..some tweets. But after that, Wayne responded directly with "Goulish". I know I'm biased, but that joint was meh. Drake jumped in the beef with a few subliminals on "Tuscan Leather" (off of 2013's Nothing Was The Same). In 2016 Push replied with a few bars on the "H.G.T.V." track. Later that year Drake came direct at Push (and Kid Cudi) with "Two Birds, One Stone". Enter Daytona, and "Infrared". Push said this was his direct reply to "Two Birds". Push went at Drake addressing the fact that he uses a ghostwriter, Wayne's record deal, and Baby/Birdman stealing money from his YMCMB artists. Drake replied with "Duppy Freestyle". I ain't gonna lie, I was impressed. This was a Pusha T/Kanye diss (but mostly Kanye?) that went at Pusha T's credibility as an ex-drug dealer, that brought up Pusha T's fiance (in my Jay-Z "Takeover" voice: NO!) and that Drake feels Push is washed up and can only sell more records if Drake's name is attached to it (and of course a bunch of Kanye stuff). Push came back with Jay-Z's "The Story of O.J." instrumental in the form of "The Story of Adidon". Push GOES HARD (pause?) addressing Drake's alleged child with a porn star, Drake's mother and father, his upcoming Adidas deal (which was going to be named "Adidon", after his son Adonis), his producer Noah “40” Shebiband's MS, and Birdman again. Drake apparently has another diss track ready that would "end Kanye", but OG mogul J Prince stepped in to make sure this was as far as this beef went. Not gonna lie, I was definitely one of the people that wanted this to keep going on wax. I could list an impressive number of beefs that "went too far" lyrically to make my case, but as of today this seems like the end of this installment of Drake v Push.

Since May 25th (Daytona's release), the GOOD Music collective has had a hand in FIVE albums dropping every Friday. Push was the front runner, followed by Kanye's 8th solo album, a Kanye/Kid Cudi album, Nas' 12th solo album (if you count The Lost Tapes), and Teyana Taylor's second LP KTSE. Since Kanye is taking the lead on all production, it was his decision to make all the albums 7 tracks long. I heard an eight track (Psycho?) was cut last minute. Personally, I think Push has great success with 10-12 track albums (both his solo albums were that). So I would have preferred to have a few more tracks on the Daytona album. That being said, IF you are going to gives a petit four (Google it) it better be flawless. Overall this is top shelf Push. And while I still believe this "new Kanye" is who he is now, I have to give him a tip of the hat for production. Just the production. You can tell when there is a truly collaborative effort on a project. And this is one of them. I've literally had the album on repeat three times in a row and you can't feel a break in the flow of the album. Push is who he is. VA been known, but its up to the rest of Hip Hop to see where they will rank him among the kingpin spitters. Y'all already know where he at with us. VA stand ALL THE WAY up.

Peep the "Ultimate Flow" track, "Exodus 23:1" video, and "The Story of Adidon" track below. Couldn't find that free YouTube joint this time. Matter of fact, go support it for real. Joint was like less than $10.











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07 June 2018

BITM Podcast Episode 5 | La Di Da Di Da


FULL EPISODE.  The BITM Trinity chops it up about several recent albums as well as discussing the race to the bottom with gimmicks plaguing the music industry.  Finally, we analyze the apparent shift in talk radio, and the desperate measures some stations have been taking to remain relevant.




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31 May 2018

The Bisquick Bandit | BITM Podcast


In this segment, The Niftian, stayfly, and TwonJonson discuss the shift that's happening within urban media from talk shows on the radio to podcasts.  More specifically, we dive into the short-lived beef between relative newcomers Desus & Mero and DJ Envy, and discuss how important it is for a show to be self-contained these days.  




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23 May 2018

Flops & Gimmicks | BITM Podcast


Listen as TwonJonson, stayfly, and the DIEGONITE himself, TheNiftian attempt to make sense of the existence of Tekashi 69 while analyzing the tactics it takes to make a dent in the industry in 2018.  TheNiftian and stayfly lead the way with their topics in this clip.

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16 May 2018

Black Panther | BITM Podcast


In this clip, stayfly and Twonjonson debrief from their interview with professional producer and engineer AL-Tee Williams before jumping into discussing several albums of 2018 from artists including Logic, Jericho Jackson, PRhyme 2, and Skyzoo.  We also spend most of the topic choppin it up over both the Black Panther movie and soundtrack.



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09 May 2018

AL-Tee Williams | B-Sides Podcast


I'd like to introduce the newest addition to the BITM Brand, the B-Sides Podcast.  The range of content you have to look forward to will be anything from interviews with guests to me and my boys just shootin the shit across a myriad of topics.  Our first episode is with the CEO of The OPP Group INC, AL-Tee Williams.  He is an engineer / producer / musician from Atlanta with over 30 years of experience in the game and takes us on a journey through his career as well as offers advice for up and coming engineers who are serious about getting into the business.



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13 April 2018

VIDEO: Jay Royale - The Iron ft B.E.N.N.Y. The Butcher

We got another raw Hip Hop joint for y'all. And to no ones surprise, this one comes from Maryland. Jay Royale has been FLOODING the streets lately with street singles and killing every feature he gets his hands on. We got the video for "The Iron" straight from the source. This joint is the first single off of Jay's upcoming project, The Ivory Stoop, dropping late May/early June. Finally getting around to it, so let's go.

The Ray Sosa produced single is a callback to that grimey NY/mid-90s era sound. The ominous drums and piano instrumental evoke those Mobb Deep/CNN/Wu Tang classics tracks (joints like Mobb's "Street Life" come to mind). I thought that cuts from DJ Grazzhoppa were an ILL Conscious staple, but now I see that Jay got this secret ingredient in his repertoire too. Once again DJ Grazzhoppa caps another track off with dope scratches. His cuts contain Nas bars from the single "Triple Threat" (if you ain't peep that, do that soon) and sounds like a bar from M.O.P. or Scarface (not really sure either way, holla if you know though). Jay Royale hits you right off the bat with his authentically vivid street bars. His flow on this style of beat is perfection. Handling the second verse duties is Buffalo vet, B.E.N.N.Y. The Butcher. The lyrical chemistry these two spitters have is front and center. When Jay Royale pairs with ILL Conscious, we know there's a bond there that allows them to create classic tracks. But both MD emcees are HEAVILY influenced by the Golden Era. Specifically from the NY area. So the fact that pairing Jay and Benny gives you a track like this shouldn't be that surprising. The transition from Jay to Benny is a smooth baton transfer. The personal touches each emcee puts in their verses allows the track to be cohesive yet individual. It is sort of a an oxymoron. Both men are clearly products of their respective experiences, but there are also overlapping themes that tie them together. I guess you could just chalk that up to both being "East Coast" emcees.

The decisions made with the music video further compliments the overall final product. The black and white video has a grainy quality to it. The sort of look you get from those those vintage 35 mm films (not a film expert but I think that's right, or some other number variation): rounded edges, ratio dimensions that are closer to a square, and with grainy and solar flare "imperfections". Of course all of this is done intentionally. The visual technique gives the video that old documentary feel. Combining that with lyrics about street life solidify the overall vibe of the track. You get an idea of what Jay Royale is capable of with a polished track like this. If this track speaks to your soul, than stay tuned as we see what else Jay got prepared for the rest of The Ivory Stoop.


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06 April 2018

REVIEW: ILL Conscious - The Prerequisite

If you are new to the blog, you might be asking "what up with this late ass review?". I know The Prerequisite dropped February 19th, but the reason is twofold. One, I ain't cop it til mid March (I was actually reviewing Jericho Jackson and didn't drop that til the 16th). And two (the reason why ALL of our reviews drop "late"), because we like to live with each project. On average I probably listen to each LP, EP, or mixtape at least a dozen times front to back (at home on laptop, in headphones at work and gym, and through car speakers). So now that we are all caught up with how we get down, on to ILL Conscious. The Baltimore native has been active in the game since his first mixtape Bloody Conscious Vol. I in 05. ILL had my curiosity with a few tracks that were sent to me from previous projects, but it was "The Narrative" single off of The Prerequisite that really caught my attention. Off the strength of one single, I was ready for the rest of the album. So how did ILL Conscious do with the remanding 9 tracks? Let's jump into it.

All emcees should know how to curate an album. In our last podcast, the BITM squad talked about the Black Panther soundtrack. Kendrick Lamar is the perfect example of an emcee that knows how to piece an album together: beginning, middle, and end. And of course it all starts with the first track. The intro track is just that, the first shot you have to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself to the public. The Marshtini produced track "Capital Investments" sounds like an early Wu joint (especially the last 15 secs), with cuts from DJ Grazzhoppa. ILL hits you with an array of clever metaphors and a sophisticated flow. While the tropes of a "hood/street" track are present, ILL is able to elevate the subject matter with his approach. I said in my review of "The Narrative" track that ILL has an AZ heir about him, mostly in his cadence and a bit in his flow. But the way ILL attacks this track reminds me of a Raekwon, with his seasoned vet-like vocabulary. You are going to hear word play that you've NEVER heard before. Doing that in a track like this shows not just true talent, but knowledge of self and the culture. ILL Conscious knocked this one out the park. Enough said. Next.

I try to stay away from reviewing featured artists. If you clicked on an artist's name, I assume you are here for said artist's review. But ILL gave me no choice. More on that later. The second track "Foreign Relations" is produced by Hi Cee and features DJ Dacel (on the cuts?) and Papitas Freestyle. The jazz infused track sets the stage for ILL to hit you with conscious and braggadocio bars that solidify his place among the bonafide spitters. Next up is Papitas Freestyle. I've NEVER heard of this dude before. The Chilean emcee contributes the hook and the second verse. ALL. IN. SPANISH (and this is why I had to talk about this featured artist). Papitas Freestyle has a Joey Bada$$ flow to him that compliments the track well. Both emcees have verses that are DOPE, but I got to give ILL a tip of the hat. It's a BOLD move to have your hook and half of your track in another language. The first thing an ILL Conscious fan (the dude that put me on) said to me was, "I have NO idea what this guy was saying". As someone who understood what Papitas Freestyle was saying, I gotta say this is one of the best Spanish verses I've ever heard. And just verse-wise, both these emcees created one of the best tracks on this album.

Speaking of Joey Bada$$, I had to get into this track. "Vibe Vibrations" is produced by Wisdom Beats and samples "Summer Nights" by Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes. Joey sampled this song for his intro track to 1999, "Summer Knights". This is another jazz/blues instrumental that fits so well with the overall sound of the album. Yung Miss provides smooth vocals that accompany the mellow track. ILL Conscious is able find these pockets where he hits these melodic patterns that make your face ugly. This is going to be one of those tracks that you bump in the whip on a perfect spring day. Windows down. Bangin'. Well, that is if we ever get actual normal seasons anymore in the DMV.

I'm not going to get into "The Narrative" joint again. But trust, that is a stand out track. Peep review for it here, and the video below. When I link up with the BITM squad we always discuss the current state of Hip Hop. From the outside looking in, it appears that rappers today need a gimmick. You need them likes, or you need to be trending. You need to Kool-Aid your hair and teeth, tattoo dumb shit on your face, and mumble your way through a strip club beat that your IG followers can turn into memes. It's almost rare to expect a rapper born in the 90s or oughts to not be a product of this hyper social media world. But there is one segment of the Hip Hip community that still gives me hope. Whether you call them underground, independent, or local artists, it is this group that might help repopulate the emcee pool. Before Cole or Kendrick dominated the mainstream landscape, they were independent. They didn't have to go through the marketing team of these conglomerate machines to decide what their image should be. Or what they should say and how they should say it. Hip Hop weeds out the pseudo gangstas and fraudulent personas. ILL Conscious is who he says he is. How do we know this? Listen to the music. He is a clear product of the Golden Era. Specifically that mid 90s New York sound. You don't get compared to AZ, Raekwon, Pun, or L unless you show and prove (the Chef and Big L comparisons are mine, but I've seen others make the AZ and Pun one). The Golden Era had many defining traits, but one that gets overlooked was its intellectualism. These emcees were SMART. They were philosophers. Many were self taught. You can't fake that. To carry on that tradition you have to come correct all the time, or don't come at all. If you hear ILL Conscious, he sounds like he was bred in that environment. But if you listen to him, you see that connection is much deeper. Many people can mimic a cadence, but many can't structure and string words together to create that authentic track. And we ain't even talk about the instrumentals. ILL Conscious hand picked the perfect beats to create a cohesive body of work. The features also compliment his style well and add to the atmosphere created by great production. By this point in the review I try to see where this artists/project fits in the current climate. I can see ILL Conscious going the way of a Joey Bada$$. There might be a "hit" or two, but most of the music will be for the culture. True Hip Hop heads will support all his movements and ILL will continue to produce authentic timeless music. If ILL continues to pay homage to the great emcees before him, we might be looking at a gang of tracks where he actually teams up with said greats. I'll let y'all daydream what would be your perfect pairing. But til then, go COP The Prerequisite and support the emcee ILL Conscious.






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16 March 2018

REVIEW: Elzhi & Khrysis - Elzhi & Khrysis Are Jericho Jackson

Hip Hop has four main pillars: rapping, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti art (I know there are synonyms for each pillar, but I'm going with the Zulu Nation's wording). The mainstream influence that Hip Hop has can primarily be attributed to the music pillars: the emcee and the DJ. Yes, all four pillars form like Voltron to give us the true essence of Hip Hip culture, but the global entertainment reach Hip Hop has is because of the music.

I've said on multiple occasions that there is a certain magic that a project has when it comes from one emcee and one DJ/producer. The late 80s/early 90s gave us classic duos like: Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Eric B and Rakim, Gang Starr (Guru and DJ Premier), DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, and more (didn't feel like researching, we know there are more). The late 90s and oughts had a few gems as well: Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek), Madvillain (MF DOOM and Madlib), Murs and 9th Wonder, Blu and Exile, and Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El P) (again, we know there are more duos). I'll make one more point before this review completely gets away from me (too late?). A few years ago Royce Da 5'9" and DJ Premier formed their emcee/DJ group, PRhyme. They are actually dropping their second project today (hope to hop on that joint next). Even though it really doesn't matter, I feel there is more..commitment(?) when you name your group. So when Elzhi and Khrysis revealed that they were forming the group, Jericho Jackson, my curiosity was peaked. Actually, my expectations were SKY HIGH. My expectations were not only based on their individual pedigrees, but also the climate of recent pairings (ie, PRhyme). So how did Jericho Jackson fare? Let's go.

The intro track "World of Illusion" features a minimal piano melody with words from British philosopher Alan Watts. The speech he gives is a metaphor for information processing. You can lose yourself in your own thoughts. People who are overwhelmed with thoughts, are not able to live in reality. Instead, they live in a..world of illusion (well played Elzhi/Khrysis). The following track "Overthinking" takes the baton from the philosopher and into Elzhi's current state of mind. This track appears to be a therapy session (actually, a few tracks feel this way). Elzhi has had a few personal and professional trials the last couple of years. This track allows him to heal while contemplating over lessons learned. Elzhi works through his emotions in a sort of "book of rhymes" style. He deals with: politics, record contracts, family, fame, acceptance, social media, fake friends, street life, self awareness, hope, doubt, religion, love, revenge, and regret. Technically, the Detroit spitter is in top shape. His flows, delivery, cadence, subject matter and metaphors are all flawless. The track ends with Alan Watts predicting our current environment (I think this speech, and his intro speech, must be from the 50s or 60s). He states:

And all so called civilized peoples. Have increasingly become crazy and self-destructive. We confuse science, words, numbers, symbols, and ideas with the real world. Most of us would have rather money than tangible wealth. And a great occasion is somehow spoiled for us unless photographed. And to read about it the next day in the newspaper Is oddly, more fun for us than the original event.

The aptly named final track, "Thank you", is a beautiful and complex approach to a subject that has been touched on by many artists. Elzhi's vocals and Khrysis' SOULFUL beat are enough to make this track a stand out. But the way Elzhi navigates his way through ups and downs is masterful. The balance of how his life went vs how it easily could have gone creates an intriguing duality. His destination is important, but the journey is what made him the man he is today. Elzhi acknowledges that without his family, friends, and fans none of this would be possible. Again, not a world changing discovery. But this track Elzhi and Khrysis create is a perfect bookend to an entire album that is full of depth and emotion.

Since New Year's Eve, we've been teased with the Jericho Jackson project. Last month we got the first single "Self Made" (which is DOPE, definitely a track that has a bit more "grime" than the rest of the album) and the follow up track "Listen". Khrysis curated the entire album with a neo soul infused canvas for Elzhi to work with. The 9th Wonder disciple has clearly elevated his beat game to another level. No club bangers. Not a problem (for me). But if you need one, then go listen to Lil...Rainbow Head? The Soul Council alum is a perfect evolution of the 9th/ATCQ/Raphael Saadiq-type sounding beats. Can't wait to see what he has cooked up for the sequel. Oh, and dude got to flex his pen game in "Talkin' Bout". But of course when it comes to lyrics, we all came for Elzhi. Since his solo debut in 08, many Hip Hops were waiting for him to take his place with the top emcees. Elmatic in 2011 (damn, I swear that JUST came out) added fuel to the debate. But a DELAYED album Kickstarter (with lawsuit threats from fans that pledged money) revealed that the emcee had been dealing with depression. From that darkness Elzhi was able to give us an extremely introspective album, Lead Poison, in 2016. Really until we heard a few months ago about the Jericho Jackson project, we had no idea when we'd see him again. As I stated above (somewhere up there), my expectations where high for this one. I'm a fan of all things Jamla, and Khrysis has been on a steady incline for his whole career. And I've been a fan of Elzhi since his Slum Village days. I can gladly say that these two artists did not disappoint. This album is EXACTLY what you expect and want from this duo. We've said it before, there are some DOPE ASS LYRICISTS out there. You just gotta dig for them. This album isn't going to push 21 Savage numbers (I saw his name pop up recently, that is the extent of my knowledge of dude), it ain't gonna be poppin in the clubs, and it probably won't hit the airwaves (maybe on an XM channel somewhere). But if you want those straight up BARS and BEATS, you need look no further. I hope this is the project Elzhi needed to get better, get healthy, and get back to taking his place in the upper echelon of emcees. Peep video for Jericho Jackson's first single below. 






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