23 June 2017

BITM Podcast Ep. 3 - The Industry Vs. Lil Boat

It's been a long time coming, but we are back at it again with another episode of the BITM Podcast.  This time we dive into what motivates an artist to make music, by way of a heated exchange between Joe Budden and Lil Yachty on Complex's morning show "Everyday Struggle." We also touch on a couple of notable albums of last year, with the intention of leading into projects from 2017 before descending into a nonsensical drunken stupor and completely losing focus yet again LOL, smh...


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20 June 2017

NEWS: RIP Prodigy

This is crazy. Still don't believe it. The 42 year old Queens emcee just passed away today, June 20th, 2017. The legend had a career that spanned almost a quarter century. But most know Prodigy as one half of Mobb Deep. Nothing much we know now. We know Prodigy has battled sickle cell anemia most of his life. And that he was on the Vegas stop of the Art of Rap tour with other Hip Hop legends.

All we have now is his catalog with HITS like: "Quiet Storm", "Shook Ones", "H.N.I.C", "Win or Lose", "Drop A Gem On 'Em", "Hell on Earth", "Get Away", "There That Go", "Hold You Down", "Mac 10 Handle", "Blood Money", "The Illest", "Extortion", "Back At You", "It's Mine", "Trife Life", "Bang On Em", "Survival Of The Fittest", "The Learning", "Eye For An Eye", "Thug Music", "Temperature's Rising", "The Realest", "Peer Pressure", and of course "Keep It Thoro" (and WHOLE RACK of other songs I'm probably missing). Rest in peace dun.

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15 June 2017

VIDEO: Mac Lethal - 27 Styles of Rapping

So I stumbled across this video today. No idea who Mac Lethal is. No idea he's a rapper. No idea he's a YouTube star(?). But like most things I post, I like to provide some background/history. So here we go. Mac Lethal is a 35 year old independent artist, radio and television host, and author from Kansas City. This dude has an EXTENSIVE catalog that consists of four LPs, seven EPs, and twelve mixtapes that span about 16 years. His YouTube page has well over half a million subscribers and the video below garnered over one million views in less than a week. If yall want more info, Google him or peep his YouTube page. You will definitely be entertained.

Now on to the video. This dude shows AMAZING control of cadence, flow, word play and accents (ha, except for the UK accent). The video isn't really "27 styles" of rapping since he goes into specific artists. Artists are not styles. I guess you can make an argument for that. But you can definitely look past that to get the "Old Kanye" vs "New Kanye" style. On the surface this video is meant to be entertaining and funny, but you get some Hip Hop history in a format that is mainstream friendly. This dude has a lot of talent to pull this off, so take a second and make your day better with this joint.

Peep video below.

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09 June 2017

VIDEO: Apollo Brown & Skyzoo - On the Stretch & Bob Show

At the end of last year, Skyzoo dropped The Easy Truth. The album features Apollo Brown on the beats with Sky taking on the emcee duties. We've mentioned that Skyzoo has two projects planned to drop this year. This has your boy HYPE. But while we wait for new singles to drop (soon hopefully), we got some visuals for a single from Sky's last joint. The track "On the Stretch & Bob Show" is an homage to The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show. If you know nothing about that, peep the documentary Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives. But if you can't get a hold of that, this is the basic rundown. Robert “Bobbito” Garcia and Adrian “Stretch Armstrong” Bartos hosted a radio show (The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show) on WKCR-FM, from Columbia University in New York. The show ran from 1990-1998 and featured freestyles, demos and interviews from Hip Hip legends during their unknown/unsigned periods. If yall want a post that goes into the history of that show, hit us up in the message boards and we can make that happen. 

The single "On the Stretch & Bob Show" reenacts what an episode would have been like if Skyzoo went on The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show. It starts with samples of Stretch and Bobbito from previous shows and edits them in a way that sounds like Skyzoo went on the radio show and dropped a freestyle. For the video, Skyzoo gets help from five kids who act out the scene the song creates. Not only do we get a kid Skyzoo and Apollo Brown, we get mini Stretch and Bob, and a little girl who is recording the session on a VHS camcorder. So we get a your normal high definition clips cut in between grainy and choppy clips from the camcorder. The overall feel is authentic and definitely pulls at those nostalgic strings. It makes me want to watch the Stretch and Bobbito documentary again AND run through Sky's catalog on a road trip. Track is dope. Lyrics are dope. Video is dope. 

Peep the video below. 

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VIDEO: Talib Kweli & Styles P - Nine Point Five ft Sheek Louch, Jadakiss & NIKO IS

In April your boy dropped the review for The Seven, the tag team EP that united Hip Hop vets Talib Kweli and Styles P. Last month they dropped the visuals for the single "Nine Point Five", which features the rest of the mighty LOX squad and NIKO IS on the hook. While the album didn't see that much commercial success, it definitely garnered critical acclaim from Hip Hop heads nationwide. To see what I thought about The Seven EP, peep the review.

The documentary style video follows Talib and Ghost as they embarked on their The Seven Tour. We get clips from concerts, radio station interviews, down time on tour buses and behind the scenes footage. "Nine Point Five" is one of my favorite tracks on the EP simply because of math. You get one track with four of the strongest lyricists in the game. The longevity of all the emcees is a testament to their pen game. And not just that, but to be dropping gems in today's Hip Hop landscape shows their ability to change and adapt. They all do this and at the same time never sell the fans short when it comes to lyrical content.

Peep the video below.

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VIDEO: Big Boi - Kill Jill ft. Killer Mike & Jeezy

About a month and some change ago, BITM's own jet setter Irish Ninja posted the single "Kill Jill". The Big Boi track assembles a monstrous SOUF trio by tagging Killer Mike for a verse and Jeezy for the hook. If yall peeped Irish's post, you know the instrumental for "Kill Jill" is a straight shake the concrete head banger. The video has the standard Hip Hop video tropes (whips, chicks, jewelry), but adds that Big Boi flare with a freaking lion, kings throne (like Game of Thrones type), and throws in Asian influenced visuals to wrap it up. 

"Kill Jill" is the second single from Big Boi's upcoming album Boomiverse, dropping on June 16th. We might get another track before then, but if we don't, Big Boi definitely did himself a favor by releasing this joint. With a single this strong, you can only expect a solid effort from the vet.

Peep the video below.

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24 May 2017

SINGLE: Nas - On The Road Again

American Epic is a three part music documentary by PBS that focusing on music in America during the 1920s. I plan to peep the series after the third installment drops on May 30th. If you are a fan of American or music history, I def recommend you check it out too. I will add the American Epic trailer below. But if you are on our site, you want that Hip Hop. So here we go.

Nas was invited to the documentary to record “On the Road Again”, a song from the Memphis Jug Band. The band recorded this song in 1928. Nas lends his vocals to this (almost) 90 year old song but does not change the original lyrics. But when you hear the single, you might think it is a contemporary track (I know I did). Nas even says, 'When you hear me saying it, you might think I wrote it, because it sounds like something today". When I first heard the track, it reminded me of "Bridging the Gap". That single was from Nas' Streets Disciple, and featured his father (a jazz musician).

So peep the single below. It is very cool to hear music that has a century of history but brought back to life again through Hip Hop. I am also throwing up two trailers for American Epic, the second features Nas and the recording of "On The Road Again". AND I found the original version of the song with the Memphis Jug Band. Knowledge son.

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01 May 2017

REVIEW: Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

Fifty five minutes of fire, that's what Kendrick Lamar's latest offering is. His approach is nothing new, but the presentation is lyrical genius, as expected. He comes in like a spaghetti western, with a gunshot and controversy, and ends it pretty much the same way. In between we get love, religion, an insight into how he thinks and feels on the before mentioned topics, and views on the current sociopolitical climate in America as seen through "Kung Fu Kenny's" eyes.

If you're a hip-hop fan, then you've no doubt heard the lead single "Humble (fun fact: that track was originally intended for Gucci Mane)," a trap record produced by Mike Will Made It. That's just the beginning of the All Star producer credits, however, as 9th Wonder, Alchemist, and DJ Dahi (I Don't Fuck With You by Big Sean) earn listings as well.

The album switches back and forth between rugged and smooth, with both Kendrick's delivery and the production making the listener swap between hard 90's era head knocking and calm and passive swaying in a smoke filled haze. The content is still edgy, however, no matter which track you're on, and we're treated to even more insight into Kendrick's mind and past. Although there are many differences between this and previous albums, DAMN. is yet another journey into what has made K. Dot arguably the greatest rapper of this generation. He expresses himself and opens up on damn near every track, so much so that it's hard to pinpoint just one.

One thing that is easy to state is that Kendrick won't be pigeonholed, enlisting pop mainstay Rihanna on the pleasantly polished "LOYALTY." It's radio friendly, as expected, but no holds are barred with lyrics like "You can tell your nigga he can meet me outside/ you can babysit him when I leave him outside." It's obvious that this isn't the same Kendrick that was getting jumped two albums ago. He's brash, he's raw, and he's unapologetic.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, he steps away from what you would expect and has U2 on "XXX." The track starts off by lulling you into a false sense of comfort for almost two dozen seconds before DJ Kid Capri shakes you awake with his intro (he's all over this album, but not in the annoying way that DJ Clue was back in the late 90's, early 00's) and then it's off to the races. Two and a half minutes in and Bono is rocking you back to Earth safely. The lyrics, still potent, are delivered in an almost sing-song downtempo jazz vibe.

Speaking of song breaks, that happens often on this album and I love it. There are 14 tracks, but with mid-song changes in the production, it almost feels like there are 20 songs. The breaks are sudden usually, coming directly before or after a hook or chorus, but they seem so fitting. If you haven't listened to this album in its entirety yet, don't expect to sit still for too long whilst listening.

My absolute favorite part of this instant classic is that Mr. Duckworth can have the most blazing lyrics ever, all laid like crunchy nougat over the smooth caramel that is a track like "FEAR." The Alchemist produced this gem and to hear the instrumental, you'd think it was an old D'Angelo spot or late 70's R&B song. Instead it's Kendrick Lamar, yet again spilling horrible truths from his past, but making it stick with intent and making you desire to hear more and more.

Each track title is capitalized on the track listing, and rightfully so. Each title is a quick glimpse into the content of the song and each one deserves to be punctuated exactly as it is with a period after it because each and every song is a statement. The only song that is arguably misnomered is the very last one, "DUCKWORTH." This tells the story of the potential disaster that could have been, the storyteller letting us know how close we were to never having a Kendrick Lamar signed to Top Dawg Entertainment. I won't give too much info, but I will say that once you "get it," the reaction should have you go...DAMN. Yes, this album is oh so appropriately named.

Every song on this album has charted on the Billboard 100 and it's the largest album debut for 2017 and it's obvious why. We have the Big Seans and the Drakes, but no one's skill has been as anticipated as Kendrick's. He gives us the real, the raw, the introspective, the smooth, and the complete. He's as classy and as skilled as many of his forebear's storytellers. This is as complete of an album as you can possibly hope to gain in this generation. I never thought I would say this about any album after 2005, but I literally have no complaints about DAMN. Do yourself a favor and listen, truly listen, and enjoy every song on this album. You're welcome in advance.

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26 April 2017

REVIEW: Talib Kweli and Styles P - The Seven

Seasoned vets Talib Kweli and Styles P set to bring us the perfect conscience/street blend with their The Seven EP. Most Hip Hop heads probably had the "wait, when did these two get together to make an album!?" reaction. Really, you would have only known about this collab if you keep up on Hip Hop news like that, or if you follow the emcees on social media. But there is really one reason why most people ain't even know about this project. And that was the release date, April 14th, 2017. Or how it is known now, the day Kendrick Lamar broke the internet (again). I wouldn't expect these two emcees to flinch and switch up their release date to avoid coming out with DAMN., but damn. No one knew Kendrick would drop another classic level project, but most expected it. But as they say, steel sharpens steel. And Talib and Styles are cut from that cloth that welcomes competition. With a 7 track EP, The Seven (ha, I see what they did there), one expects a cohesive project with no throw away songs. So let's see if these emcees came correct.

The track "Nine Point Five" is produced by Marco Polo and sets the stage for lyrical assists from the rest to the LOX clique and Talib Kweli's emcee, Niko Is, on the hook. Had to Google him, dude is an emcee from Brasil. Aight then. Talib and Styles get the lion's share in terms of verse length (which makes sense, it is their EP), but Jada and Sheek round out the track with top notch bars. The street knowledge track touches on many social subjects but still remains a hard track. After all, the "9.5" is a reference to the Richter Scale (and the largest earthquake every registered was a..say it together..9.5).

But the track that got the most repeats from me was "Let It Burn". I'm sure the beat had a lot to do with that, it did come from 9th Wonder protege Khrysis. And keeping it in the 9th family, we also get LOCO bars from Jamla's first lady Rapsody. My ONLY complaint is that Chris Rivers is relegated to hook duty. This young emcee is a MONSTER, and I feel his feature is squandered by not letting him lay down a verse. That being said, his hook is of course great. I was gonna say, "Talib and Ghost KILL the track, but my favorite verse came from Rap". Then I would have copy and pasted the bars. Talib and Ghost DO kill this joint, but all three emcee's come SO CORRECT that I can't single out a bar or two to highlight. This track is an embarrassment of lyrical riches. I'll just leave it at that.

2017 is giving us an unprecedented mix of quality projects from old and new school lyricists. So it makes sense that these Hip Hop teachers ain't trying to get shown up by the students. The Seven is Talib and Ghost's answer to the majority of Hip Hop that is concerned with commercial success without honoring the culture. Talib Kweli says, "As hip-hop grows to the point where many rappers have become caricatures of themselves, myself and Styles P remain a part of a group of MCs that still consider the culture in every decision we make. [We are] the last ones left." Talib Kweli and Styles P might not have known that this year (so far) would produce a slew of "new school" emcees flooding the streets with quality projects. But they definitely knew the expectations from Hip Hop heads, once they heard these two vets were linking up. But it is really THEIR expectations that drove this project. They don't just want to make a "hot" track, or a hit radio single (this EP is definitely devoid of ANY radio single). The torch that they continue to hold is meant to shine a light on the Hip Hop that has fallen to the wayside. Whether it's a "conscience" or "street" track, these teachers know it's all about knowledge. And the wisdom that these lyrical goliaths drop with this gem is invaluable today. So for those enjoying the lyrical resurgence this year, definitely add The Seven to your rotation.

And peep the ENTIRE EP below!

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25 April 2017

AUDIO: Big Boi feat. Killer Mike and Jeezy - Kill Jill

       What's good people? I haven't been through here for a minute............I got nothing for that. What I do have, however, is this new Big Boi track I came across a few days ago that is getting heavy rotation.  Kill Jill showcases Big Boi and Killer Mike, two of ATL's finest, while Jeezy handles the hook. The production on this is some fire. (Real talk - I need to know who did that beat, because that shit knocks) This is the second release off Big Boi's upcoming Boomiverse album. If this track is any indication about how good the album will be, then I'm about that life. Check it out below.

~Irish Ninja