31 July 2012

Rants: Snoop Lion

Calvin Broadus is laying the Doggfather to rest. There comes a point in an artist's life where they feel like they've accomplished everything they can in the lane that they are in. Dr. Dre claims he will be moving on to scoring the soundtracks and ambience music in movies after he releases his fabled "Detox" album and bows out of the game. Jay-Z still claims that if you want the old Jay, buy his old LPs. When you've acheived the level of success of these legends, what else is there left for you than to find a new lane and start fresh?

The artist formely known as Snoop Dogg announced last night that he is no longer a rapper, and will focus on creating reggae music under the name Snoop Lion.

"With no disrespect to other rappers, but they can't f**k with me in rap," he added.

"I've won every accolade you can in rap, they call me 'Uncle Snoop' in rap. When you're an uncle, it's time to find something new ... I want to feel like a kid again."

Can't hate the man for wanting to branch out. He has seen a level of success experimenting with different sounds in recent years, so it only makes sense to attempt something fresh. His upcoming album under the name Snoop Lion will be "Reincarnated." Take a listen to his first single and let the BITM crew know what you think...

Snoop Lion - La La La

Rant: MMG or MMG?

So I was online the other day and I saw a link to a MMG mixtape. I couldn’t click that link fast enough. When the screen popped up I couldn’t believe what I saw…….damn Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. I was beyond annoyed. I went back and did some research and it looks like he has been using the MMG flag for a minute now.
Pull up a chair and let me school y’all real quick. Maybach Music Group started some time in 2009. The first (real) MMG is Mello Music Group. Mello Music Group started around 2007. Oddisee’s album 101 dropped in 2008. I only mention it because that’s when I started following the label. And it’s not like Mello Music has been sitting on their laurels. If you know: Hassan Mackey, Stik Figa, Oddisee, Apollo Brown, Boog Brown, Gensu Dean, or Diamond District, then you know who Mello Music Group is. If not, then you should click this link, http://www.mellomusicgroup.com, and see what you have been missing.
I’m guessing that Maybach Music is a big deal; one of the perks of being an indie head is I can be selectively aloof. Being aloof didn’t help me this time around though, since now I have to go through my all of my music and make sure that the MMG I currently own talks about things in my price range…..red bottoms not included.

30 July 2012

Hip Hop Made Me Cool: Webisode 2: #EpicFest2012

The second episode of Ms Proper's www.HipHopMadeMeCool.com has been released featuring unseen footage from #EpicFest2012. Featuring such songs like "Mojo (Freemix)" and "Hard" produced by Squid Beatz, episode two also features QH of www.QuinelleHolder.com and yours truly, who share our views about Ms. Proper and the So Proper movement.

-The Niftian

23 July 2012

Bestinthemix.com Meets Thailand - Take 1

     It’s 5:30a on the morning of July 23rd here in Phuket, Thailand and as promised, your resident indie rebel, Irish Ninja, is checking in from Thailand to let you in on this field trip.

     Initially, I had this this grandiose notion that I was going to get here and that music by the likes of Roscoe Dash , DJ Khaled, and  Maybach Music would have just as secure a foothold here as they do stateside. I thought I was going to be covering how mainstream hip hop had reached into the some of the smallest parts of the world and still had people singing along to their lyrics without understanding the words. The whole music is the universal language motif with the American brand leading the way.
     What’s crazy is that where I’m at now, Some American artists are breaking here like Adele, Estelle, and Mark Ronson broke through in the US. The artists I just mentioned are a big deal in their part of the world and their level of fame was enough for them to break out on American charts. Artists like Wiz Khalifa and Roscoe Dash are pretty famous in America but I have yet to hear the clubs put any of their songs into a regular rotation. At first I just chalked it up to the songs not having a fast enough beat or America being ahead of the power curve. But there is so much more to it. Just the overall mood in music here is so much more………I don’t know………….alive, vibrant, more focused on the good and fun in life instead of the violent, paper chase at any cost theme we in America have been accustomed to. Being here has definitely proven how your surroundings are definitely going to influence the art you create. That last line sounds like a basic piece of common sense until you are able to experience it for yourself.

     I was lucky enough to be able to play a mix I put together at a bar that D. Money (my tour guide) and I have been pretty much become regulars at. (Shout out to P. One Bar on Bangla Road!) The mix was a success, but outside that mix, you just didn’t hear some of the songs. Case in point, I haven’t been to America since Wiz dropped Work Hard, Play Hard but I’m sure it is on EVERY SINGLE hip hop station back in the states. Out here, not so much. P. One Bar is the only place I’ve heard that song and that is since I’ve been here.

     This isn’t even scratching the surface of what I have for you all, but let’s be real, the sun is coming up which means it’s time for me to lay it down. This is Irish Ninja, passing out……….

Celebration, b*tches...

Today is The Niftian's birthday. Celebrate, stay nifty, and peep the site! That is all.

17 July 2012

Review: Nas - Life is good


With that being said..this album is of course..amazing. Nas is about to be in the Hip-Hop game for 20 years..this dude still makes sure his delivery stays pristine like he still 17. Life is good garnishes heavy production from No I.D. and Salaam Remi. No Premiere track though..this is a bit disappointing..but I guess I'll keep my fingers crossed for the Nas/Premiere album.

Nas starts off his 10th solo studio album (all of which have gone platinum except for Untitled I believe) with a powerful J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League track called interestingly enough..No Introduction. Nas takes us along a trip through his life: from being embarrassed because he had to get free lunch at PS 111..to syrup sandwiches and sugar water..to coppin his first gun at 15..to robbing a train at 16..and finally to being worth 200 mill surrounded by flat screens and Brazilians. It is almost impossible to tell us the story of your life and do it a different way every time..but this is how Nas continues to be relevant.

Loco-Motive is an old school feeling track with a heavy toned piano ominously playing over a simple hypnotic bass sound. Just another classic "trapped in the 90's" sound..the sound that gave Nas his loyal following. "A soldier coming home/ 20 years old/ with no legs/ saying there's no sense to cry and complain/ so go head."

Another No I.D. track is Accident Murderers featuring Rick Ross. I was definitely scared this would be his attempt at a radio friendly track..especially with Ross. But I must say Ross gave a good verse..and of course Nas keeps his lyrical stamina on brolic from beginning to end. Nas' most famous encounter with death came with the murder of his boy Ill Will.."for my [dude] that got killed/ got hit up/ vodka spills on the concrete/ light a swisha/ we miss ya". And do I hear an Illmatic reference..for Jerome's niece..who got shot in the dome piece (One Love uall...)? "and for that girl who never made it home/ shot in the dome/ how they gonna kill that beautiful sister?"

I think no song really captures the complexity of this "graphic classic song composer" like Daughters. 10 albums deep and Nas is still able to gives us a track that we have never heard before. Of course he is able to vividly paint a perfect picture (do yourself a favor..see the video..very well done) but that fact that he really has no topic that is off limits allows his listeners to connect with him in ways most artists-fans can't. Think this was one of the first leaks, so been listening to this for a min..I could really write a dissertation about it..but I won't..if you haven't heard it yet..do it now.

World's An Addiction features a soulful dark chorus from Anthony Hamilton (it's crazy but it has Michael Jackson's Who Is It vibe to me). Nas writes about hoodlums, guns and paddy wagons..to a billionaire who's into bestiality porn..to a surgeon who can't concentrate because his ex-wife cheated on him. This song tackles the word "addiction" in a such a different light than you expect. And the topics are definitely mature and complex.

The track Stay is a trumpet lined production from No I.D. where Nas shouts out the men doing right but warns them of money hungry women that want to break up a happy home. Later he admits he is seeing a women that has a man but decides to stay for the sex. The next verse Nas switches to the men who want to fight him but he realizes that the outcome would be death for one or both..so he chooses peace.

Cherry Wine has an amazing story behind the music. First is the uncanny synergy that these two virgos are able to accomplish (both were born on September 14th..Nas in '73 and Amy Winehouse in '83) on their first track together. Salaam Remi provides an almost period piece with this production..you can almost see the a 40's style lounge with Amy on a piano with her long gloves and cigarette with cigarette holder..Nas would be in the 3 piece suit of the day surrounded by cigarette girls (yes..I def hit up google for all of this). Amy has been described as an old soul trapped in a young body..this is what made her sound unique and great. Nas is more of the same..but his young appearance is contrasted with the fact that his experiences of a 40 year old man allow him to be at home in this track. There were talks of more tracks from these two musical prodigies..maybe even an entire album..but unfortunately this gem is what we have to be satisfied with.

Bye Baby is a bare-all track that Nas dedicates to his ex-wife Kelis. With his heart on his sleeve..Nas continues to question why they had to split. He recalls the good times..saying it was the highlight of his life..but of course it was not enough. Even though he lost half (money..soul..and heart) he has no regrets because at least he tried (in contrast to men that never wife their baby mamas) and because of the birth of his son..Knight. In the end this song feels like Nas' closure..it was an exhausting ride..with its highs and lows..but in the end Nas took the bitter with the sweet.

Overall this album has few sub-par tracks. One is the Swizz Beats track Summer On Smash. In my opinion it is unnecessary..I guess he wanted that club banger...but The Don is vastly superior in production/chorus/verses. But the good thing is that you get what you expect..another solid lyrical performance from Nas..with probably one of his better produced albums. I didn't review the bonus tracks..but be assured these are all fuego. It is all about evolution. Yes..Nas is still able to give us that grimy Illmatic verse that we still need..but also gives us Daughters. To juggle this duality for so long is commendable..and to do it so well is genius. 

I made a comment to my BITM fam a little bit ago. I was watching the Daily Show with my girl and her nieces..me and girl where laughing at the political/social jokes..and her younger nieces were lost/bored. I never realized before but shows like this are definitely for the older heads. In that same way I feel this album was made with his mature followers in mind (and I don't mean necessarily older..I probably have shirts older than our youngest BITM writer Ra'Z..but if uall don't know by now this kid is light years ahead of his peers). We all can appreciate that Nas has kept true to himself and his fan base. I don't see a millennial baby appreciating this..I hope I'm wrong though. 


16 July 2012

10,000 Page Views!!!

We did it! In just a few short weeks, we managed to cross the 10,000 page view barrier! Some of you may be thinking "big freakin' deal," right? Well, it IS a big deal. For starters, when I was running this site by myself, I was lucky to get 20 page views a week. I went back, got four homeys that would write for me like I would write for them (get the reference?) and bow! damn near 1,000 views a week, if not more. For any bloggers out there, it is all about getting your message out. Why else would we do this? If we didn't want views, we would just type this shit on our computers and leave it there in a Pages or Word document.

Instead, I put my soul out there and thankfully people wanted to hear (or read) what I had to say. I have to give a HUGE thanks to my boys TwonJohnson, SdotFly, Ra'z Al Ghoul and the Irish Ninja: without you it would have taken another four years or more to get here. Instead, we did this shit in a month! Just imagine what the future holds, eh?

For everyone that has supported us over the past few weeks (or months or years), we owe you a huge THANK YOU! Big things are in the plans, including more Pioneer Series, those t-shirts we keep talking about, more #NiftyWorld sites and the RETURN of BITM on YouTube! I'm excited about what we have planned and you should be excited too; we do this shit for you.

Despite the impressive views, we're still in our infancy. If anyone wants to be a part of the team (street team, writing team, promotion team) or even wants to network, then hit us up at BestInTheMix@gmail.com or peep us on Twitter @BestInTheMix. Yes, we're everywhere, damn near, and we won't stop until we ARE everywhere! Again, thank you for your support, but don't stop now!

Run with the Best: BestInTheMix.com
#NiftyWorld--Get on and get right or get left!

15 July 2012

Take-Two Review: Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE

I will preface this article by saying that when I become a true fan of an artist's music, it is solely based on their talent and ability to continue to create great music. An artist's personal life has no bearing over whether or not I will support them. If that was the case, then I would have been done with R. Kelly years ago. One of the most controversial issues with artists is, so long as their music maintains the level of integrity that drew in fans from the beginning, anything that occurs or is revealed in their personal lives is automatically justified.

With some artists, their actions are more difficult to overlook than others. The thing is, some artists are what I consider to be geniuses and no other aspect of their lives would ever outshine their gift. Ocean's recent revelation may have been opportune when considering the fact his debut album is on the way, and any news with this level of shock value is sure to work wonders for his sales figures, but in my opinion he couldn't have chosen a better time. You see, every artist has their own set of tactics to draw in fans and boost sales, but how honest and genuine are these tactics? More importantly, is the music they are trying to promote even worth listening to?

With Frank Ocean's "channel ORANGE" album, the answer is a resounding HELL YEAH, NIGGA! (Excuse my ratchet outburst). Anyone who has heard his stellar mixtape "Nostalgia, Ultra" understands the depth of this man's music, and he continues to bring us that same level of masterful music with his latest project. His current single "Sweet Life," which has been subject to several jokes on radio stations nationwide due to the title, is actually one of the strongest songs on album. You just don't hear R&B like this anymore. From his vocal variety to the jazzy tone and chorus line, this track is absolutely impeccable. "Why see the world, when you have the beach?" It's a different life out there in Cali, and this track as well as several others illustrate the better-than-average lifestyle these youngins live out there.

The truly standout record on this album would have to be the filthy masterpiece assisted by the legendary Andre 3000, "Pink Matter." I don't know if anyone could actually explain what this song is about outside of those who wrote it, or maybe I am simply too dense to crack the code on what these dudes are singing about, but I know this song is what initially drew me to the rest of the album. Frank Ocean illustrates a conversation he's having with someone about their opinions on women, the mind, and the supernatural, while 3000 runs through a scenario he had with a particular female. It all might sound basic on the surface, but once you absorb the lyrics you will understand just how amazing this collaboration truly is.

The most important record on this album is also the one that might be the most difficult to listen to for some. The final track titled "Forrest Gump" illustrates the story behind him coming out. Apparently, his first love was a man, and he re-vistits the memory of that person running through his mind for three minutes. Maybe one day down the line, we as a society will be able to fully accept a gay urban artist the same way we accept everyone else? Maybe this is the beginning of the end of our ignorance as a culture? So even while I struggle to talk about the final track of this album, others who are listening to it around the world are slowly starting to change their views. It won't happen overnight, and it will absolutely take more than a generation to accept the reality that there are several gay and bi-sexual artists out there, but having an album of great music to zone out to in the meantime definitely makes it easier.

13 July 2012

Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange" debut review

This artist is gay, no excuse me he’s bisexual. WHO GIVES A SH*T! He makes great music (emphasize on great). Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange is surely one for the books. If Frank Ocean missed a note on any song (which he didn’t by the way) his lyrical content in each of his songs is mind boggling. I swore I was listening to a Jay-Z song with the amount of depth that the meaning of his songs had. I listened to the album three times when it came out and was still trying to interpret one verse from one song (with repeats included). This album does not have a lot of vocal features but Earl Sweatshirt of Ocean’s OFWGKTA family did make an appearance on here. Channel Orange brings a different sound than what most people are used to, which adds to the success in my book.
I am not going to break down a lot of tracks (due to EXTREME amount of Lyrical content and my amount of incompetence at this point) however; I will review two of my favorite tracks. One of the tracks is called “Sierra Leone.” This song has multiple interpretations ranging from him having sexual relations in the first verse and his daughter in the second to a car throughout the whole song. Some might wonder how a car came about, but I actually heard a very clever way of thinking about it. Another track on this album is called “Super Rich Kids” featuring Earl Sweatshirt. This joint consists of the two artists describing traits and actions taken by a rich kid who is seeking attention. The kid doesn’t have anyone there for him and he wants real love because that is what he is lacking. He doesn’t have any friends and how his dad isn’t there for him.  
This album can be placed in the “Album of the year” as a candidate as some of my colleagues have said and I agree. To make music like this, you have to be on a completely different level, and obviously The Throne recognized this and put him on Watch the Throne. Frank Ocean sang *Church woman voice* his a** off on this album and it sounds like it especially on “Pink Matter.” If I wrote for the Source, I’m pretty sure I would put my hand up for the fifth mic. I definitely recommend buying this album. And as I stated earlier, it’s great music regardless of his sexuality, stop bitching.

Frank Ocean is Gay!

Or bisexual. Either way, big flipping deal. Wanna know how many damns I give about that man's sexuality? I'll give you two guesses and they both begin with zero.

What I *do* give a damn about is quality music, of any genre. Ask anyone in touch and they'll tell you that Frank Ocean is arguably the greatest young talent in R&B today. No shade to Trey or Breezy, but Frank makes a very different type of music for a very different audience.

I listen to Chris Brown when I'm escorting my young cousins around. I listen to Trey Songz when I'm making love to my wife. I can listen to Frank Ocean when I'm writing a new BITM article, though. Don't get it twisted, there is a lot of talent out there that can used in various situations but you'd be hard pressed to say that Frank Ocean isn't submitting some soulful music that is definitely reaching across age and gender lines.

So what if he's bisexual? Did you listen to his music before you knew he was bi? Did you like it? You did? Good! Did you listen again afterward? Oh, you did? Did it sound different? Of course not!

I know our people (read: urban) tend to be fickle when it comes to sexuality. Either you're straight or you're gay and if you're gay, you have to be RuPaul. That's not acceptable, people. I'll ask you this and them ill pack up my suitcase: what makes being gay or bi in hip-hop and R&B any different than being Black in America? Why is it "ok" to judge someone based on their personal preference?

He makes amazing music; the brother has talent; he can write, sing, produce, garner amazing features (PLEASE tell me you heard that track with Andre 3000) and still keep an audience captivated and awaiting his next album or mixtape. So why are we judging him?

When will the petty fears of a Gay Rapper cease?

09 July 2012

Rants: The Awkward Leggings

This post will touch on two topics at the same damn time: leggings as pants and fat people in leggings. You can blame my roommate for this one. It would appear that she has a huge gripe against females wearing leggings in the place of pants. Namely, shirt or blouse and tights...and basically nothing else.

Being a fairly stereotypical male, a good looking woman in leggings or tights doesn't bother me one bit. I love it, actually. Judge me. *shrugs* It seems as if women disagree and see the act as classless. She put up a post on FB yesterday and was met with overwhelming support from women. I want to call bullshit, though, because I see a TON of women doing it. Granted, many wear shirts or blouses long enough to pass their waist, but that's not the argument here.

What I DO have a problem with, however, is big women. Not in general, mind you; The Niftian loves a woman with meat on her bones. But I prefer for a woman to dress for the body she has and not the body she WISHES she had. I know a lot of thick women that will rock the hell out of an outfit and look way better than a skinny chick in something skimpy. Big women in leggings, though? Don't do it. Please don't.

Please, I beg you.

What's even worse? Big women + leggings + underwear you see through their tights. What in the HELL are y'all thinking? Stop embarrassing yourselves with the purple polka dotted panties seen through your sheer tights. It's...ugh! You know what, this goes for thin women, too. Contrary to what you may believe, we men don't want to see your undies...unless we're about to take them off of you. But not when you're walking down the street.

I swear, the fashion sense in this culture is getting more and more ratchet. Maybe Twon Johnson will write an article on his love of skinny jeans next...ha! That's funny because Twon is like 6'3", 215lbs. He wouldn't be caught dead in a pair of skinny jeans. What ISN'T funny is that some of you big dudes would. Lil Wayne has y'all gassed up...

06 July 2012

Best On The Brink: Ms Proper

There are a lot of unsigned artists out there, and BITM wants to tell you about them all. Well, we've got to start somewhere and frankly, I don't see a better person to start with than Ms Proper, the headstrong leader of So Proper entertainment. Born in 1987, Prop, as she is commonly called by industry peers, is the product of a poetic mother who also helps to manage her blossoming career.

Ms Proper has released numerous mixtapes on the Richmond-North Carolina scene, from Addicted To The Game in 2007, The Wake Up in 2009, Proper Etiquette in 2009 to #NoDaysOff in 2011. Each subsequent release garners more respect from industry insiders, gathers more fans of true, unbiased hip-hop and meets with more positive reviews from press like BITM.

Ms Proper has done the damn thing in a variety of avenues, ranging from opening for major label acts like Big K.R.I.T., Jae Millz, Mims and Cyhi Da Prince to being nominated for the coveted Indie Elite Achievement Award and co-hosting her own radio program, Rated R radio. Most recently, Ms Proper appeared on B.E.T.'s 106 & Park as a featured live artist on Wild Out Wednesday.

With all this going on, Ms Proper still finds time to lead her own troupe of extremely talented artists on So Proper Entertainment's label. Be on the look out for talent such as Conci$e, NSane Da Genya Bread Man, E*Klipse Tha Champloo, T Monet and So !LLa. The entire group recently put on a very electric showing at Epic Fest 2012. The fire was bright, the emotion raging as the entire collective put on a show fit for Madison Square Garden. To close out their Prop-tastic set at Epic Fest, Ms. Proper debuted her newest single, Get It Started, now available on iTunes for 99 cents. Exaggeration isn't necessary here at BITM; trust me: Ms Proper and her squad are definitely deserving of signing on someones dotted line. Their energy and skills demands it.

Personally, I suggest you start with her earlier catalogue and make your way forward, but Get It Started is a great jumping off point if you want to see the talent in this young emcee. I came along late with Proper Etiquette but had heard some of her songs previously and was always amazed at her dexterity, range of content and ability to rhyme with the "big boys." Don't take her stature or gender for a weakness: I know for a fact that Ms. Proper can destroy MANY cats in this game, indie OR mainstream. I call them how I see them. Sorry, Wacka Flocka Lame.

From the emotionally stirring Isis to the club thumping Get It Started, Ms. Proper shows the world that she is ready for the stage. If you have the energy, try and keep up; she's proper for a reason.

To get access to all things Proper, check her website, found at http://www.hiphopmademecool.com/ look for her music at http://soundcloud.com/propdabest. You can also find her on Google or tweet her @MsProper. Get familiar!

Coming soon: Field trip!

Here at BITM we are all about bringing hip hop knowledge to the masses, wherever that takes us. With that being said, that nutcase Irish Ninja (yours truly) will be in Thailand for two weeks spreading BITM abroad.  I will be journaling the trip, especially the music side of it. Curious about how it’s going down? Check back to see what happens when BITM & Thailand meet for the first time.

05 July 2012

Review: Childish Gambino - Royalty

Donald Glover aka mc DJ aka Childish Gambino. It's rare to see someone so accomplished be a beast in every single one of his hustles and remain true to what made them. A graduate of NYU, ex-writer for 30 Rock, current actor on Community, hilarious stand-up comedian, singer, rapper, musician, producer, this man has lived a life that most of us could only dream of. When opportunities keep flowing in like that have for this man, it only makes sense to keep the ball rolling.

One thing about being a rapper is that it's a "What Have You Done For Me Lately" type of business. You are only a good as your last project. Which leads me to CG's latest mixtape, Royalty. Leading up to its release, Gambino mentioned the one thing he has yet to release is a collaboration album. When I heard that, it immediately threw up a red flag for me. Would these collabs be with a ton of underground unknowns, or would this mixtape be a collection of coon tunes? More importantly, though, would Gambino maintain his musical integrity when it's all said and done?

The result is a mixed bag. The album kicks off with the single "We Ain't Them," which is classic CG at his best. Original flow, wordplay off the chain, all over the type of beat we come to expect from the brotha. The majority of what follows is a slow descent into the exact same xerox copied trap music true Gambino fans try to avoid. In fact, most folks became fans of his music for that exact reason. He started off as a breath of fresh air who spoke to a crowd of "nerds" who couldn't relate to the hood/trap music that floods the market these days.

One thing I noticed is, most of the songs that have a hood feel to them are the ones where he's collaborating with a hood artist. All things considered, most of these collabs are not all terrible. "Black Faces" ft. Nipsey Hussle is a fairly decent track, but Nipsey's verse is so good that it almost excuses Gambino's attempt at sounding wreckless. The overall message of the song is strong enough though. The next track, "Unnecessary" ft. 1/2 of Black Hippy is another track that is pretty good, but again, it's not a great "Childish Gambino" song. Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul ab-soul-utely destroy their verses. Gambino can't keep up with these cats in content, or punchlines. Nice try homie, but the gap in talent is evident.

The following track, "Shoulda Known," is another classic Gambino track that really works. It's a shame there isn't much more of this honest, personal music on this album. In the last verse, he mentions how he was pressured into putting out a hood sound that people can feel. I suppose this song is his excuse for the way this album sounds as a whole.

I don't know how he got it done, but he managed to land collabs with legends RZA, Bun-B, and even got Ghostface to knock out an interlude track. All of these songs are good, but Gambino fails to shine brighter than his guest stars. Then there's the trash known as "Toxic," ft. Danny Brown. I still haven't figured out what the appeal is with this guy, but he has the most obnoxious rapping voice I've ever heard. I'm assuming Danny Brown surrounds himself with YES-MEN that refuse to be real with him and tell him he sucks. I can't stand the way he raps. This is one of the only collabs where Gambino steals the show, even though his verse definitely could have been a little better.

The majority of the rest of the album is catered to everything CG fans are against. The hood sound is just not something that fits him when we know what he is capabale of, lyrically and production-wise. As a satirical jab at the entire project, Gambino allows his mentor Tina Fey to finish the album off with her own version of a n*gga rant that is absolutely hilarious, and truly necessary.

Royalty is not a bad album by any means. Childish Gambino still has punchlines we've grown to love over the years, it's just sad to see him cater more to the hood crowd this time around. This is the mixtape that you give to friends who are fans of the artist's CG collabs with, but for whatever reason have yet hear anything from Gambino himself. It's a great album to draw in the uninitiated.

Let's just hope he hasn't completely abandoned the rest of us...

02 July 2012

Op Ed: www.HowTheInternetSavedHipHop.com

If you talk to anyone over 28 years old about the current state of hip hop on the whole, you will probably get an earful about: the eventual demise of good hip hop, the good old days of hip hop radio, how hardly any good artists have come out, the Illuminati (whatever the hell that is), pretty much how hip hop sucks now and there is no hope in the long term. Years ago I might have agreed, but with the advent of music sites like SoundCloud, DatPiff, and everyone’s favorite, Best In The Mix (damn right it’s a shameless plug), the internet is poised at becoming hip hop’s savior.
       In hip hop’s beginnings everything was experimental, from the turntable to the MC. The idea of speaking on a beat was unheard of, let alone record scratches and music sampling. Since hip hop was in its early stages then, there was no hit making formula, it was all about what the artist wanted to do and after they finished the album, they put it out and hoped for the best. The album could have been a smash or it could have been garbage, but you had a feeling that most of it was what the artist wanted to do. As hip hop’s popularity increased, so did the revenue it generated. Coupled with the influence hip hop began to have it was only a matter of time before our beloved capitalism grabbed a hold of the trend and transformed it into the cash cow it has become today. By seeing what was profitable and what wasn’t, record labels were able to maximize profit by controlling what an artist released and eventually even having a hand in the artist’s creative process.  This resulted in the inundation of club bangers and trap music. Since these are the types of songs that had become the money makers of their time, it is obvious that this would be the business model record labels would follow. Record labels are businesses, and businesses are in it to make money, period. (No hate in that last statement, just being real.) If you need proof of this timeframe, just go back to the reigns of the following: Dip Set, St. Lunatics, Chingy, Young Jeezy, and Fabolous. I’m not saying they sucked, what I am saying is they are the product of an industry having its hands in the creative process, somewhat akin to letting people be creative within boundaries, “You can make any song you want, just make sure you create some songs that include what we’ve laid out here.” Now it’s understood that if you want to be successful as a hip hop artist, you better have some songs that talk about either the money you have, the drugs you sold to get the money you have, how you are going to spend the money you have, how the ladies find you irresistible because of how much money you have, or any combination of the above. It better sound good in the club too! If you need me to point out the evidence of this, you probably still use cassette tapes and this article is lost on you. The music industry was able to better dictate what would be released to the masses because they held all the distribution power. If the artist didn’t march to their tune or they sounded like they could be a threat to one of their money makers, the chances of their music being released were slim to none.
                As more people began to utilize the internet as part of their everyday lives, musicians began to realize that the internet provide ability to release work that they created without worrying if what they had would be good enough for a label. The internet literally provides free global distribution and allows talent that you may have never heard of otherwise to shine without being suppressed by some executive sitting in an ivory tower deciding what should and should not be released. Need an example? Just go to your iTunes or wherever you store your music and look at all the mixtapes you’ve downloaded. Imagine what you would have paid for those. Better yet, take a good listen to them. Do you really think a label would have put most of that out? NEGATIVE. But somehow, some way, this music that didn’t make anyone any money still sounds awesome. The best part about is, there is so much more out there waiting to be discovered, new artists, new musical approaches and no one to tell these artists that what they are making isn’t good enough. As more people realize they don’t need to buy a major release that sounds okay when they can support these relatively unknowns that blow their minds, the quality, variety, and the soul of hip hop will continue to grow.
                This is not a slam on any hip hop artist or even the industry. If anything has stayed constant, it is the fact that hip hop, like many of its followers, will do what it needs to do to ensure that it continues to prosper by adapting to its surroundings. What the internet has provided hip hop with is the ability to continue forward without having someone limit creativity because it affects the bottom dollar. Labels are not going away, ever. What the internet has done is even the playing field so anyone with talent has a fighting chance.

~ Irish Ninja