23 June 2016

REVIEW: Domo Genesis - Genesis

Regardless of what you may think about the Odd Future collective, it's evident that the group is bursting at the seams with raw talent.  Most of these cats have been honing their craft while waiting patiently in the wings for their time to shine.  From Casey Veggies and Frank Ocean, to Earl Sweatshirt and the soulful R&B band The Internet, Odd Future has birthed some of this era's brightest stars.  Unfortunately, the antics of front-man Tyler the Creator paint their image in such an awkward light that it often taints the credibility of anyone associated with the group.  But make no mistake about it, Domo Genesis is one cat off this label that should absolutely be taken seriously. He has been sharpening his blades since his 2010 mixtape Rolling Papers, and has been dropping subsequent mixtape releases and collaborations nearly every year since.  On March 24th, 2016, Domo hit us with his inspired solo debut studio album Genesis.

This man is the perfect example of an artist who climbed the ranks properly, and didn't waste time flooding the market with trendy radio singles in an attempt to stay afloat.  Instead, Domo has been establishing a fan base his own way, while infusing the sounds of his idols into his music.  He stated that he is influenced by Nas, Mobb Deep, MF Doom, and even Wiz Khalifa, all of which are evident on the LP.  Genesis jumps right out the gate with its soulful groove on "One Below," which is also one of its standout tracks.  It begins with a somewhat drawn-out redundant tribute narrated by his mother, whose contribution may have been more appropriate on an intro-lude.  Even so, it's nothing but feel-good vibes once the song hits its stride.  There's a point toward the end where the beat reaches its climax, then smoothly transitions into the next track "Wanderer."  It's one of those true 'head-nod-shit-that-make-you-break-yo-neck' type moments that I found myself rewinding to often.  It's also a testament to the amount of work that was put into this project, both lyrically and from a production standpoint.  It shows that Genesis is no lazy effort, and the quality heard on these two songs are maintained throughout the majority of the 12-track album.

If there are any major missteps on Genesis, it's the tracks that are reminiscent of that dark weirdo Tyler shit that I can't stand.  "Questions" isn't a terrible song lyrically, but the production just makes my fucking skin crawl.  The other throwaway track is the heavily featured "Go (Gas)."  The song features Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, and Tyler the Creator himself.  So naturally, the song sounds like it was ripped straight off one of Tyler's early albums.  Shit is wack as fuck.  It's almost as if Domo felt the need to include an obligatory OFWGKTA type track just to rep the squad.  I just personally don't agree with the decision.  It's unnecessary, and more than anything, these songs interrupt the flow of an otherwise fantastic album.

Luckily these minor speed bumps don't ruin the listenability of Genesis as a whole.  Things immediately pick back up with the final six tracks, which display the same creativety found on the first half of the album. "Coming Back" ft. Mac Miller, his lead single "Dapper" ft. Anderson.Paak, and "Brotha" are all bangers.  Even songs like "All Night" which teeter on the edge of cookie-cut at times, still rock due to how he takes the eerily simplistic beat and destroys it.  There were several times throughout Genesis where I sat back and thought to myself, "Why am I JUST now hearing about this cat?"

Domo Genesis is fairly gifted with his flow and delivery, which is a breath of fresh air amidst his contemporaries.  Even though this is technically his first legit album, this man is no rookie to the game.  He has an understanding of what great music should sound like without resorting to any established comfort zone, and I believe that type of approach is what the game needs moving forward.  Genesis is an excellent example of how to remain creative in a landscape where it may not be as cool to do so anymore, while at the same time producing a body of work that has the potential to be timeless.

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16 June 2016

TRAILER: "All Eyez On Me" Biopic

With the overwhelming success of the "Straight Outta Compton" biopic, fans as well as entertainers both in and outside of the culture wanted to see more of music and hip-hop history on the big Hollywood screen. With unity and so much speculation an even bigger push was made for a Tupac biopic since we already received one for Biggie (Notorious) and of course N.W.A. Through effort, we have arrived in June of 2016 with a full trailer! The trailer looks absolutely amazing so without further a do here it goes!
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14 June 2016

SINGLE: Logic - Flexicution

After a couple of months of teasing the hip hop nation with snippets for the single, Flexicution, we finally get the full track from the MD emcee. With a hard beat from producer 6ix and vocals from his wife Jess Andrea, Logic hits us with braggadocio bars and an aggressive flow. Logic bodies the beat, and flips his flows like a veteran. I can't find an album or mixtape that Flexicution is promoting, so I assume it's to get people hype for The Endless Summer Tour (June 28 - August 5). Or it could just be to kick the summer right off.

Either way, peep Logic's new single below, and the exclusive video where Logic drops snippet on his tour bus.

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VIDEO: Masta Ace - Young Black Intelligent (Y.B.I.)

Back in May Masta Ace dropped his 5th LP, The Falling Season. And yesterday we finally got some visuals to go with his second single, Young Black Intelligent. Conceptually the album is a narration told through the point of view of a teenage Ace, while at Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn.

The video follows two friends living in the hood. They try to stay out of trouble, but they are surrounded by people who do not. One of the friends keeps his nose in the books and in sports. And of course, trying to talk to girls. While on the way to school, he is jacked for his headphones. Days pass and the other friend decides to pack a gun into his backpack. He confronts the guys whole took his friends headphones. But before he could pull the gun out, his friend stops him. This story could have gone in a very different direction. Ace says stories like this happen regularly around his block. In one second, one decision could affect the rest of your life. During this time period, while Ace went to school and later college, many of his friends ended up in jail. Many of whom are just getting out now. Chuck D caps off the track with some strong words to the youth. Overall, a strong visual to go with a strong track. We salute you Masta Ace.

Peep video below.

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13 June 2016

REVIEW: Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

Chance the Rapper is an interesting artist to me. He has tracks like Sunday Candy, Acid Rain and Angels (the last of which is found on this mixtape) that I feel should put him near that Kendrick/Cole tier (not THAT near, but definitely closer than a..let's say Fetty Wap). These tracks showcase his phenomenal range as a hip hop artist. Lyrically clever, and melodically graceful, Chance is able to experiment with a vast array of sounds, even though his hip hip career is only about 3 years old (his debut mixtape 10 Day dropped in 2012). But he also suffers (well, my definition of suffer as it pertains to hip hop artists) from feeling the need to mimic the popular sound of today's hip hop. So his tracks with Lil Wayne, Future, Young Thug or Future (or even Kanye) all have he same sound and cadence. A high pitched, auto tuned, strained vocal cord sounding, intangible mess. But I will say that while I can't tolerate 5 seconds of that sound from other rappers, Chance can actually hold a melody so it isn't quite as bad. So how did the 23 year old Chi town emcee do on his third mixtape?

First off, the Coloring Book mixtape can easily be mistaken for an LP. The production is top notch, most of which is shouldered by The Social Experiment, a group of musicians that include: a trumpet player, producers, a composer, a drummer and a rapper (Chance). The foundation of their sound is a neo-soulful, jazz infused, eclectic mix that could trace its roots back to ATCQ. But there are a few tracks that sonically reach another level as they take strong influences from the gospel genre. Religious themes are found throughout Coloring Book, but How Great is by far the most reflective. Chance states that this is his favorite track off of the mixtape (mine too), because of its strong connection to his grandmother. How Great was recorded a few weeks after his grandmother's passing. His cousin Nicole sang How Great Is Our God (by Chris Tomlin) at the service and Chance was understandably moved. Chance invited his cousin to sing on the track, which made it even more personal. But if that wasn't enough, Chance was able to get an elusive feature from Jay Electronica. The Muslim emcee is able to perfectly complement Chance with the overall Christian theme of the track. Songs like this, and Blessings show a maturity in how Chance is able to tackle subject matter that is incredibly complex and sometimes polarizing.

But this is also why young Chancelor is so intriguing to me. He is so gifted lyrically that when you add his musical aesthetic, there is something very special there. Since Chance's style is so malleable, he sometimes picks up the flow and cadence of those he raps with. So a song like Mixtape, featuring Young Thug and Lil Yachty (who the hell is this!?), plays a color by number type track from beginning to end. Each rapper sonically impersonates the other, and all sound like they can't hold a melody and have lost there voice the night before. But as I mentioned above, since Chance can actually hold a note without auto tune, he is the most tolerable. And here is the crux of my feelings about him. If you ask me, "do you like Chance?" I say, "Yes?" Because I feel he has the potential to move up the emcee pyramid. He doesn't need to dumb his lyrics/flow down to placate the prevalent generic hip pop (not a typo) sound. The Coloring Book has tracks that hit strong PEAKS musically, but it also has "meh" songs that are mediocre for his talent. And I am not just hating on party songs. Tracks like All We Got, All Night and Finish Line Down are more light hearted songs that are a great listen. And even after saying all that, I feel great about Chance's future. Yes, this mixtape had peaks and valleys for me, but he will find a balance as he grows into the emcee he is meant to be. Overall, if you're a Chance fan, you'll like this latest mixtape. And the same would go for those who want something new, Chance's hip hop spectrum is as vast as they come. I look forward to see what the young Chi town emcee has planned for this next project.

Peep video for Angels below. Also, fun fact, all of Chance's mixtapes (this is his third) are painted by a Chicago artist. The Coloring Book's cover was painted from a picture of Chance holding his newborn daughter.

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07 June 2016

SINGLE: Drake - 4pm In Calabasas

Drake has been on an absolute tear in recent months.  Well, at least in terms of the quantity of content he has shelled out, with countless collabs, remixes, and his 4th album Views selling over a million copies in its first week.  But we don't care about sales here at BITM.  They mean absolutely nothing as it pertains to the quality of the product, and in my humble opinion, Views was nothing special.  So when I heard that Drake dropped a "banger" which took pot shots at Budden and Puff, I was more than a little skeptical.  After giving it a few spins, I can say that this is the Drake I prefer...but I was still left yawning because it sounds like the same old Drake.  Am I buggin?

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SINGLE: DMX ft. Styles P - Still Scratching

As the DOG continues on his comeback tour, we are seeing more and more signs that DMX might be on the way back to being his old self again.  Truthfully, he is still not quite there yet, but the energy he is showing on this track is promising.  The assist from Styles P almost makes this feel like a classic Ruff Ryder era banger...if only X could get his cadences together.

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21 May 2016

BITM Podcast Ep. 1 - Microwave Raps

After years of planning, we are proud to present to you the Best In The Mix Podcast.  We heard your requests and are finally joining the wave and delivering a new outlet for you to enjoy our perspectives on hip-hop.  This first episode discusses the rise and fall of the culture within New York, the importance of authenticity, as well as what led to hip-hop shifting from being anti-establishment, to a completely consumerism based culture.  We hope you enjoy it and spread the word, as we are just getting our feet wet and have much more in store for the future.

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17 May 2016

VIDEO: Rhythm Roulette (Mass Appeal) - 9th Wonder

So this is a series that I've been wanting BITM to highlight for a while now. And even though the crew is shifting some resources to make this podcast happen, we want to make sure we keep giving our day ones that hip hop uall come to expect from us.

Since Nas purchased Mass Appeal (which started solely as a graffiti magazine) in 2013, the Queens Bridge legend has been expanding the imprint into a label that provides multi media for all hip hop heads. One of their video series is called Rhythm Roulette, which is described as "an innovative look into spontaneous beat-making and producer culture". The premise of the series is: they choose a producer, have them pick 3 records while blindfolded, and have them make some beats sampling the records they selected.

A few months ago the highly anticipated 9th Wonder episode premiered. The NC native hit up The Record Crate in Raleigh to pick out his records. His three records where: Charly McClain - On Tour, Jermaine Jackson - Jermaine Jackson [Dynamite], and The Temprees - Lovemen. 9th ended up making three soulful beats. And if that wasn't enough, Jamla's first lady Rapsody stepped in the booth and dropped a few bars. I've probably watched this episode a dozen times, and I've caught something new every few times. So, if you're a true hip hop head, someone who is interested in beat making, or just a 9th fan, peep this joint ASAP. And if uall like it, let us know and we can dig through the series and highlight some more producers.

I am also adding the first Rhythm Roulette episode with Party Supplies.

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VIDEO: T.I. - Dope ft Marsha Ambrosius

It's been FIFTEEN years since T.I. dropped his debut album I'm Serious (take a minute to stop feeling old...). And since then, the Grand Hustle capo has been on a meteoric rise to fame. No one could have guessed back in 01 that the rubber band man would not only make it on the big screen, but also star in a successful family reality show. While we patiently await his 10th LP, The Dime Trap, the self proclaimed king of the south blessed us with a second single.

The single Dope credits the good Dr. [Dre] with the production, and features Marsha Ambrosius on the vocals. The G-funk heavy instrumental samples Aaliyah's Rock The Boat. The video uses the west coast vibe as inspiration as it takes place in the year 2020 in LA. Tip flows with a melodic cadence that fits the track like a glove. The layed back bars compliment the DNA of the instrumental and begged to be blasted in your whip with the windows down.

So while we might not be getting that "spring-summer" time feel from the weather (at least not in the DMV), Dope provides the perfect track to kick start those good vibes.

Peep video below.  And just in case you can't peep video (since it's on Tidal's player), I am attaching the single on YouTube.

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