24 September 2016

SINGLE: Common ft. Stevie Wonder - Black America Again

It's getting to the point where it feels like the same ole song and dance.  Cops pull a trigger and kill another nigger, WHITE America continues to turn a blind eye to the injustices against us.  They would much rather bash Colin Kaepernick for protesting, without understanding that these killings are THE EXACT reason he refuses to stand.  It's not rocket science, we are being executed and absolutely nothing is being done about it.

But that's all a part of the master plan, right?  Numb society to these injustices and the genocide continues completely unchecked.  Luckily, we continue to have strong black people with status continuing to step up to raise awareness, in an attempt to translate this very simple issue to the tone-def masses.  Regardless of how much they continue to tear us down, powerful music is the ONE thing they will never be able to take from us.  Hopefully, these continued efforts will eventually begin to permeate the mass conscious.

To help promote Common's upcoming album Black America Again, Stevie Wonder joins Common on the powerful track "Black America Again," which is coupled with a video similar to Ty Dolla $ign's "No Justice," and Scarface's "Mental Exorcism" from last year.  The song and accompanying video are yet another disturbing, yet necessary display of the pain our community continues to endure after each life is snatched away from us. 

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21 September 2016

SINGLE: Game - Pest Control

One of the many great things about writing for BITM, is that we don't have to report on all the hip hop TMZ news out there. We didn't have to flood our posts with other site's obligatory Drake/Meek "beef". What we do do (ha..), is comb through all that noise out there, and use our forum to highlight topics that interest us. So this morning I came across this Game track. I have vague recollections of reading article titles mentioning Game going at Meek (as well as seeing "this is what you look like when Game disses you out of nowhere" memes). I have no idea why Game decided to jump in the anticlimactic Drake/Meek drama, nor did I have enough interest in looking it up to add to this post. My assumption was that since Game is dropping his 8th LP, 1992, in October, he wanted some extra pub for that. But after peeping that track, I have come to two conclusions. 1: Game decided to remind the world what a diss track sounds like, and that he can craft diss track like the best of them (remember the Game/50 beef? when emcees actually make diss tracks? good times.). This track went WAY harder then I expected it to. 2: For whatever reason, Game REALLY dislikes Meek. This was not a "I need a promo diss" track, this had references on top of references. There was def research done by Game on this one. Oh, and on top of all that, I caught a couple jabs to Beanie Sigel, Sean Kingston and Omelly(?). All I care about from that list is Beans. If you talking about emcees who can swing in a rap beef, the Broad Street Bully is DEF on that list. For months and months I've had to listen to people tell me, "man, Drake is dropping HARD diss tracks". And for months and months I've been wishing for a real rap beef. Are my wishes finally gonna come through? Because a Game/Beanie back and forth sounds good to me. And to clarify, I just want rap beef that stays on wax. Neither I nor BITM promote actual violence.

Peep Game's "Pest Control" below. What uall think? Are uall hoping for Beans to reply ASAP?

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06 September 2016

VIDEO: Rhythm Roulette (Mass Appeal) - Big K.R.I.T.

Here we go with another Rhythm Roulette episode from Mass Appeal's video series that spotlights the art of sampling. This time the series focuses on Big KRIT. BITM regulars know we champion this young spitter, but there are a few out there that might not know this emcee is also a bona fide producer. If you follow KRIT or Mass Appeal on social media, you would have seen both promote this episode that come out in March of this year.

Big KRIT is a Meridian, Mississippi native that has been in the hip hop game since the mid oughts. Since then the emcee/producer has been dropping classic records on a regular basis. His accolades are just as high whether you are talking about his lyrical ability or his skills on the boards. Even though KRIT hasn't reached the commercial success of a T.I. or Ludacris (or all the southern rapper clones out now), he is still viewed as an heir apparent to the southern throne. The King Remembered In Time has amassed a loyal underground following with numbers that only continue to grow across the globe.

While KRIT is a "southern" artist, he is not confined to a specific flow, cadence or subject matter (unlike said rapper clones). His beats also range from the smooth and soulful to bust your eardrums in the club type tracks. KRIT hits up Sweet Melissa Records shop in the ATL to pick his three records to sample. At the studio he shows what the records were: Linda Clifford - I'm Yours, Seatrain - Seatrain and Culture Club - Waking Up with the House on Fire. Young Krizzle builds his soulful melody using the samples and adding his own drums and tempo to the track. With a few chopped and screwed vocal manipulations, KRIT finalizes his beat. But here is where the two headed dragon that is Big KRIT takes the series to another level. As mentioned at the top of the post, most know the Mississippi artist as the monster emcee he is. So it is only natural that KRIT spits on his newly minted instrumental. I think the episode with Large Professor has one of Pro's boys spit on the track. But I think KRIT is correct when he proclaims he is the first to make a beat (in the series) and spit over it. So, fans of KRIT, the Rhythm Roulette series, or just GOOD HIP HOP, peep the video below.

Peep the single "Sticks & Stones" first, then the Rhythm Roulette episode to see the process of sampling in all its glory.

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01 September 2016

BITM Podcast Ep. 2 - New Era of Hip-hop

Over the summer, the BITM squad discussed the Troy Ave shooting, and whether or not glorifying street culture detracts from the appeal of an artist in today's music. We also chopped up the 2016 XXL Freshmen Class, effectively acknowledging that we are in a completely new era of hip-hop. And finally, we discuss how the evolution of the music medium has affected our consumption of music.

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30 August 2016

REVIEW: DJ Khaled - Major Key

Another one.

The Iyanla Vanzant of Snapchat is back with Major Key, the latest in his nearly annual offerings, but this time it's different. Sure, Lil Wayne is on the album, as is Rick Ross, Drake, and Future. That alone might be enough for you to say "meh" and to just wait for the radio singles, right? Bad idea...

In addition to mainstays, we have lyrical juggernauts in the form of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, Busta Rhymes and Jadakiss bowling over tracks. I'm not one to stand in line and hold up a Khaled banner, but this album is diverse, and in the best way possible. How diverse? He's got Meghan Trainor (the All About The Bass singer) on a song with Wiz Khalifa, and it's actually not bad!

I have listened to this album multiple times a day for the last few weeks for two reasons: one, to give you all a fair and informed review, but also because the jawn actually bangs. Khaled has undoubtedly produced the most impressive and complete work of his career, and it shows on the charts because this is also his most successful album to touch Billboard, peaking at number 1 in a variety of categories.

Ok, let's get to the nitty gritty and get the bad out of the way first. As mentioned earlier, there are some mainstays that Khaled probably *had* to put on or their feelings would be hurt. Tracks like "Fuck Up The Club" and "Do You Mind" are in the middle of the album and severely bring down the quality of the scene. The latter is led off by arguably one of Nicki Minaj's worst verses, and it's only barely brought above the surface by August Alsina's crooning. The former is a typical and boring offering featuring DJ Khaled's current plaything, Future, who is featured on four separate tracks, unfortunately. Stay away from those songs, and yes, that includes "I Got The Keys," which is easily one of the worst tracks on the whole thing.

On the good side, however, there are plenty of tracks that serve to drown out the nonsense that is trap-hop. The third song, "Nas Album Done," is enough to wake you up and make you think that maybe, just maybe, Khaled has found the ghost of hip-hop past and brought him into the present. The track gives us two treats, Nas all by his lonesome and murdering a beat, and sworn word by God's Son that his next album is complete and will be released soon. This one is worth repeat listens and Khaled speaks truth when he says "Classic shit, timeless...iconic" at the end of the track, because that's exactly what this is.

The next two songs continue the aural orgasm with "Holy Key" and "Jermaine's Interlude," the former featuring Big Sean, Betty Wright (powerful voice, see about her), and K. Dot. The latter is a singular offering with J. Cole, who definitely has the soul and powerful lyrics to pull it off alone. Both tracks feature the raw energy, emotion, and political drive and ambition that we have learned to love and appreciate from J. Cole and Kendrick, and Big Sean has definitely thrown his towel into the ring to show that he belongs with the New Greats.

Later on, past the Future trash, there is a song that will undoubtedly go unnoticed by everyone. "Don't Ever Play Yourself" is one that you need to look up right now. Yes, right now. Right now. I'll wait for you...ok, you back? Yes, you heard correctly: Jadakiss, Fabolous, and Busta mothafuckin' Rhymes on a track together and that beat is bananas! Actually, Fat Joe is on it too, and he's not half bad. You can't bring your 'C' game to a track with juggernauts like this on a instrumental like that.

Lastly, my guilty pleasure. I love rap songs about love. More so, I love rap songs about how rappers hate falling in love; it's like a guilty irony, as if they're trying to prove to you that they're too good for these hoes...and yet, these ladies keep winding up pregnant (*sips tea*). The #GuiltyPleasure award goes to "Pick These Hoes Apart" featuring a rapper I don't know, a rapper I don't care about, and Jeezy. The slightly melancholy backdrop and Kodak Black's intro actually did it for me, and Jeezy's hook brings it home. The ad-libs are a bit much in hindsight, but it's a catchy tune, and another anthem for the rapping misogynists.

Overall, the album is a solid effort and worthy of its commercial success. Khaled did more than drop "another one" with Major Key, he actually stepped his game up. If you haven't peeped this entire work, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Worth multiple listens: Nas Album Done, Holy Key, Work For It, Don't Ever Play Yourself

Worth skipping every time: Do You Mind, Fuck Up The Club, Ima Be Alright

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22 August 2016

SINGLE: Frank Ocean - Solo (Reprise) ft. Andre 3000

Well, really it's just Stacks by himself on this brief, yet dense, interlude.  After being completely underwhelmed while sampling Frank Ocean's new album Boys Don't Cry Blonde on iTunes last night, I came stumbled across a surprise about halfway through.  I'm glad I stuck it out because to be honest, time has only been kind to 2011's Nostalgia, Ultra, Frank's lesser known mixtape that is far superior in quality to his debut album Channel ORANGE.  After sampling half of Blonde, it was starting to just sound like the same ole same ole again.  That is, until Hip-hop's savior Andre 3000 literally came out of nowhere on "Solo (Reprise)" steamrolling the minute-long track with more quotables and stray shots than your brain may be able to process the first go-round.  The line that is most likely to strike you instantly is toward the end when Stacks appears to blast a certain Canadian,

 "After 20yrs in, I'm so naive I was under the IM- / pression that everyone wrote they own verses / it's comin back different and yeah that shit hurts me / I'm humming and whistling to those not deserving / I stumbled and lived every word was I just working way too hard?"

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14 August 2016

NEWS - West Coast Perseverance

Longevity is something that all artists strive to achieve.  In most cases, if they put in the work necessary and continue to produce quality content, chances are they will eventually reach that plateau.  Nipsey Hussle is someone I believe is finally living up to his namesake.

Nipsey’s consistency after fully dedicating himself to music has been phenomenal.  His most recent milestone of note has been releasing the “Crenshaw” mixtape for $100 and then following up with “Mailbox Money” for $1000 the following year.  Now that seems way out-of-pocket but, both projects sold out in a day!  As an independent artist, that feat is amazing.  Not only did he choose to sell these two projects for a ridiculous amount, but he also made back 100% of his album sales!  This is pretty much unprecedented in today’s world. Though there were limited copies of both albums, his fan base is strong enough for copies to sell out at these prices. 

Even though we don’t have the West Coast King’s long-awaited for album Victory Lap yet, he has been on a tear lately.  Falling in line with the theme of his brand, he has been on a 16 week marathon run dropping nothing but quality music.  Call me biased, but I believe the majority of people would agree that the tracks he's released so far are of album caliber.  The discipline that Nipsey has displayed throughout the past few months has been impressive, and will soon prove the summer is indeed his.  Beginning on April 25th of this year, the Westside Crip initiated his takeover.  This late Spring/Summer reign consists of 16 tracks and 4 music videos without including his many guest appearances on other artists tracks.

For those of our BITM readers who aren’t privy to Nip, now is a good time to get familiar.  Nipsey Hussle is a well-gifted and well-versed emcee to the core. His knowledge of the game is displayed through how he moves and the business decisions that have earned him notoriety from the Forbes List.  With lyrics like, “Nip the Crip that flipped the blueprint that Hova laid” or “I study rich niggas moves like they my homework,” it’s easy to see that he is about ownership.  Nipsey being an independent artist and having full control of his masters just adds to his repertoire of success.  A big announcement is supposed to be given to fans this Monday on the 15th of August (which is also his birthday); and more than likely the announcement of his up and coming album, Victory Lap. Be on the lookout for a review from us here at BITM!

Nipsey's 16-week Marathon Monday's release record:

1.  Nipsey Hussle - Thug Life Feat. Young Thug * Apr 25, 2016                                       
2.  Nipsey Hussle - Ocean Views * May 2, 2016
3.  Nipsey Hussle - Basic Instinct Feat. G Perico * May 9, 2016
4.  Nipsey Hussle - The Field Feat. Bino & Young Dolph * May 16, 2016
5.  Nipsey Hussle - I Do This Feat. Young Thug & Mozzy * May 23, 2016
6.  Nipsey Hussle - Status Symbol 2 Feat. Buddy * May 30, 2016
7.  Nipsey Hussle - Down As A Great Feat. Kirko Bangz * Jun 6, 2016
8.  Nipsey Hussle - Question #1 Feat. Snoop Dogg * Jun 13, 2016
9.  Nipsey Hussle - Ain't Hard Enough Feat. Mozzy * Jun 21, 2016
10. Nipsey Hussle - Full Time Feat. Mitchy Slick * Jun 27, 2016
11. Nipsey Hussle - One Hunnit * Jul 4, 2016
12. Nipsey Hussle - Picture Me Rollin Feat. OverDoz. * Jul 11, 2016
13. Nipsey Hussle - Clarity Feat. Bino Rideaux & Dave East * Jul 18, 2016
14. Nipsey Hussle - I Don't Stress * Jul 25, 2016
15. Nipsey Hussle - Shell Shocked * Aug 2, 2016
16. Nipsey Hussle - On The Floor Feat. Cuzzy Capone * Aug 8, 2016

Check Out Nipsey Hussle's "Question #1" Video feat. Snoop Dogg below as well as his "Picture Me Rollin" video.
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12 August 2016

VIDEO: Joey Bada$$ - Devastated

A few months ago Joey Bada$$ dropped the single "Devastated" to the surprise of many fans. Mainly because it's a more melodic offering than we are accustomed to getting from the Brooklyn emcee. And while Joey isn't "just" a conscience emcee, he does usually create thought provoking and introspective tracks. But with "Devastated", Joey gives us an overall concept that is far more playful then we are used to.

The video places Joey performing with his Pro Era camp in a football stadium, a small parade and on a rooftop with the crowd below him. The visuals supplement the feel of the single well and create a more cohesive track. While we at BITM champion the Kendricks and K.R.I.T.s on a regular basis, we def want to make sure you don't sleep on Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era family. If you've been bumping this track on your summer drives, peep the equally energetic video below.

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03 August 2016

VIDEO: Mac Miller - Dang! ft Anderson .Paak

Mac Miller is currently set to drop his fourth LP, The Divine Feminine, on September 16th. His first single "Dang!" dropped a few days ago but the video made it's debut yesterday. The feel good track features the young star Anderson .Paak on the vocals. Not much is known about the other nine tracks on the album, except there will be features from Kendrick Lamar, CeeLo Green, and Robert Glasper (along with "and more"..per a Rolling Stone interview). But we can assume the rest of the album will continue with a female heavy theme.

With "Dang!", this normally conscious and introspective emcee is able to transfer those skills to profess his love to his girl. The Pittsburgh emcee also navigates the more macro theme of the universal ups and downs of relationships. Alongside .Paak, Mac Miller tries his hand at a more melodic delivery. The Canadian producer Pomo is more at home in his electronic element, but provides a groovy funkadelic instrumental for the track. Overall, you get a track with very little weak areas.

Peep the video for "Dang!" below, and keep an eye out for The Divine Feminine later next month.

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28 July 2016

REVIEW: ScHoolboy Q - Blank Face LP

It's no secret that 2016 has been another down year for hip-hop.  We are sitting uncomfortably within a completely new era of music led by a younger generation of uninspired trash.  The essence of true creativity is on life support and there is no need to continue to duck and dodge this fact.  Anyone looking for confirmation need look no further than the 2016 XXL Freshman list chock full of hot bumsauce.  We can waste time pointing fingers at who is responsible for the two-syllable-flow era we live in, but it really doesn't matter because there's a good possibility that it's here to stay for awhile.  Even street-centric artists have been shoved into a corner, with no one to blame but themselves for their overall lack of introspection and style.  So ScHoolboy Q's ascent to becoming one of this era's illest rappers in spite of his contemporaries should come as no surprise.  With his fourth studio album Blank Face LP, Q has effortlessly solidified his position within the culture by doing nothing more than remaining consistent.

You'll quickly notice improvement in ScHoolboy Q's flow and ability to tell a story on "Lord Have Mercy," where he takes you on a brief journey comparing the typical pitfalls of running the streets to how his life and relationships have been affected by fame over the years.  He speaks on how he chooses to meet his demons with a blank face to show that he is unphased by anyone from his hood that tries to tear down his success.  On the surface, this may seem like an excessively used topic in rap, but Q's clever ability to paint a vivid picture within such a brief window (1:44 to be exact) is nothing short of amazing.

"Shakin these broken hands and, meet em wit Blank Faces / Snake eyes keepin my back achin / Dirty habits of rappin and being savage / Still hangin wit niggaz that can't do nothin but cause damage / Guess I'm being a real nigga like I'm 'posed to be / but being real never once bought the groceries / and, Top told me Keep rappin, you'll make it hopefully." 

Gangsta Rap may sound like a played-out label these days, but Blank Face LP is a vessel of preservation for that long-lost art of storytelling due to the majority of Q's work paying homage to the big homies he grew up on.  "Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane" features an assist from Jadakiss whom Q juxtaposed his own career with in a recent interview stating that much like Kiss, he felt like an underdog despite still having a healthy catalog of great music.  "Dope Dealer" finds ScHoolboy Q aligning himself with E-40 who has been an ambassador for collaborating with artists from this  generation for several years.  Naturally, the groovy side of Q makes a few appearances as well throughout Blank Face LP on "WHateva U Want," and "Overtime," which may be the only two songs on the album that even come close to sounding like radio material.  Luckily, no compromises for the sake of appeal were made on any of these funk-infused tracks.  "Big Body" is the perfect blend of old and new LA flavor, with Tyler the Creator crafting a beat that recaptures that early 90s west coast bounce, and Kurupt and Daz Dillinger from Tha Dogg Pound absolutely slaying their verses.

While every song resonated with me in some way, I found myself revisiting three tracks in particular most often. "JoHn Muir," "Neva CHange," and "Black THougHts" provide a certain level of ingenuity and sensibility that shakes the soul in a way that I haven't felt in years.  Top Dawg label mate SZA's soothing contribution to "Neva CHange" was definitely a welcome change of pace.

It's really tough to find any weak spots on this album.  There's a good chance that every track will eventually take root and begin to resonate with you at some point.  It may be safe to say that Blank Face LP is at least Q's most cohesive project to date, but on the flip-side it still lacks that thunder found on most of his previous albums.  Luckily the omission of the typical radio-worthy banger doesn't detract from the overall body of work.  Blank Face LP is the type of album that long-term careers are built upon.  To quote local artist JDVBBS "In a time where artists are constantly throwing curve balls in hip-hop, Q pitches this shit straight down the middle and nails it."  While a cyclone of rap debris continues to revolve around them, TDE is like the eye of the shitstorm, managing to remain cool calm and collected while continuing to crank out nothing but impressive albums.

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