30 May 2014

AUDIO: Yasiin Bey x Mannie Fresh - Let's Go

Maybe it's because I don't know how to stay in America for longer than eight months at a time, but I had no idea Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Mannie Fresh had been in the process of collaborating on any music together, let alone an entire album. The track Let's Go is apparently the second single from their forthcoming album, OMFGOD. (Before you even ask, I have no idea what the first single was. Didn't I just tell you I didn't know these two were putting in work?) While it might be easy for some to dismiss this single and this album, I would have to remind you the last time the East and the South got together to put down some music, the world ended up with Run The Jewels (Killer Mike x El-P). I'm definitely interested in what the final product is going to sound like. Follow the jump here courtesy of Audiomack and tell us what you think.

Or peep below.

29 May 2014

R.I.P. Maya Angelou

Yesterday, May 28th, Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. The world lost a dynamic teacher, brilliant poet and passionate activist. But the hip hop community also lost a mother. Her positive influence inspired a slew of emcees who viewed her as the first "rapper". 

Q-Tip Tweeted that Maya Angelou was one of his "biggest inspirations". Tupac's track Still I Rise was directly influenced by Dr. Angelous' poem by the same name. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou was a poem about the black women's plight in a society that viewed them as not good enough. "You may shoot me with your words,/ You may cut me with you eyes,/ You may kill me with your hatefulness,/ But still, like air, I'll rise." Pac's song was about his personal adversities. He was born into a situation that essentially pinned him against the world. "Everywhere I go [dudes] holla at me, 'Keep it real G'/ And my reply til they kill me/ Act up if you feel me, I was born not to make it but I did/ The tribulations of a ghetto kid, still I rise." 

Other emcees who were influenced by Maya Angelou include: The Clipse, Wale, Kanye West, Digable Planets, Nas, Lupe Fiasco and The Roots. She has recently been featured on albums by Common and Kendrick Lamar, The Dreamer, The Believer and good kid, m.A.A.d. city, respectively. In the opening track for The Dreamer, The Believer Maya Angelou recites a poem at the end of the track. At the end of Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst Maya Angelou guides Kendrick Lamar and his boys into a prayer of forgiveness and appreciation. She ends with, "All right now, remember this day. That start of a new life. Your real life."

Maya Angelou was the voice of the marginalized and disenfranchised. Even when her celebrity grew, she still seemed to stay true to her beliefs and ideals. She has been in the presence of Presidents, received medals and awards, and was just an all around a great example of a great human being. She will be missed. Our condolences go out to Maya Angelous' family and friends.

"I have a chance to show how kind we can be, how intelligent and generous we can be. I have a chance to teach and to love and to laugh. I know that when I'm finished doing what I'm sent here to do, I will be called home and I will go home without any fear."

28 May 2014

REVIEW: The Roots - ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin

It has been three years since The Roots last studio album, Undun, and the crew chose to stick with the concept theme again for ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. Undun centered around one character, Redford Stevens, as we followed his last day in reverse order (meaning he dies at the beginning of the album, and he is alive at the end). The band has said that Redford is an amalgamation of personalities and stories that are familiar to those growing up in Philly and similar communities. The Roots used a singular character to make a broader commentary about the issues facing urban youths. While most have the potential to better their situation, most fall victim to bad decisions and circumstance.

...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is "conceptual" like Undun, but the similarities break apart from there. This is a shorter album (it is essentially an 8 track album). Keeping the album concise was on purpose. The Roots wanted the listener to be able to digest the rich sounds and lyrics found throughout the entire album. And while Undun focused on one character, this album provides multiple protagonists to weave a narrative. Most tracks are lyrically aggressive and the musical arrangements fall between aggressive and ominous. There is a more orchestral tone found throughout the album, at times to provide harmony with the emotion of the track and other times it seemed to purposefully create conflict within the track. The stories focus on personalities who fall under the stereotype of "street" dudes. All products of their environments but none able to see a legitimate way out.

I know I normally break down a few tracks for my reviews, but with The Roots I feel that plan of action would be a disservice. The fact that ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin will probably never go platinum (hope I'm wrong) is probably why I applaud The Roots so much. Even though their albums aren't bringing in Drake numbers, they still compose and assemble some of the best albums created in the past two decades. Maybe it is what keeps them hungry. I don't know. And they are by no means underground. Most people have heard of The Roots in some fashion (even if it's just as Jimmy Fallon's band). But if you go the suburbs or ask a 90's baby (is that thing?), they might be hard pressed to name their favorite Roots track. But going on their 11th studio album, we are reminded what great work is. The Roots always seem to be two steps ahead mentally. The thought and care given to how each track sounds individually and as a collective is brilliant. This should come as no surprise though, especially if you follow each (studio) albums track list. Flip the CD around and you see they kept the continuous numbering system, this album starts with track 171 and ends with track 181. Mind..blown.

26 May 2014


 A while back, Chairman of the Mix TwonJonson hipped me to this band called RDGLDGRN (Red, Gold, Green - get it?) and I've been rocking them eversince. Mixing rock, hip hop, and definite mic skills, RDGLDGRN is definitely a group you want to add to your summer playlists. Last week I got a notification of a new track they dropped called Hooligans. Needless to say I checked the track, and the track is GOOD. Most will easily recognize the sample that starts the song off, but I don't know if it's looped or if the band is just playing sample live. Either way, it's slamming. Add the extra funk they laid over the loop plus Green's flow and you have a track that gets you amped for whatever they got coming next. Click here to check out Hooligans and don't forget to cop the free download. Until next time.........

21 May 2014

In Case You Missed It: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Piñata

Let’s be real, I’m not, nor have I ever pretended to be, a thug. Gangsta rap has never truly been my thing. I do, however, recognize true talent and can appreciate a good story and dope delivery. Freddie Gibbs is a thug, unapologetically. From his tales in the drug game, to gunplay, to just his personal mindset, Freddie is a man that is comfortable with who he is, and could give a shit what anyone else thinks. What separates Freddie from the slew of gangsta rappers out is that Freddie can rap. Not kinda rap, not decent bars here and there rap, Freddie can flow something serious. Freddie has been putting out music for a while now and those that know his name are in for a treat with the Madlib produced Piñata. For the rest of us that are unfamiliar with his abilities, this album will serve as an introduction to world according Gibbs.

What sets Freddie apart from many of his peers is while he is definitely rapping about the drug game and thug life, he isn’t glorifying it at all. He is speaking on it very matter of fact and brutally honest. He even goes so far as to make a few points about his choice in lifestyle that even if you don’t agree with him, you can’t help but understand his point of view. Take the track Real for example. I don’t agree with all of the decisions Gibbs raps about . But after hearing verses like: ­­­­­

  Remember everybody ain't loyal 
 'Cause all the real niggas in jail or deep in the soil
  Dancing with the devil or eatin' fish with the Lord
  Gotta spit it how I live it, I beat the street and report it, nigga                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                               I can't help but understand where Freddie Gibbs is coming from.

Piñata is a definite feather in the cap for Freddie and an impressive addition for Madlib. Madlib has been making his rounds with the roughest of emcees here as of late, to include Guilty Simpson, Bishop Lamont, and Roc Marciano. Something about Madlib’s perfected sound matches up better than imagined when it comes to emcees like these. I can’t explain it, but I can dig it. Madlib’s sound is to a point now that I can’t tell how much is done by crate digging and how much is him producing over top of the samples, but it all sounds dope. Check the track Bomb feat. Raekwon. Maybe it’s all loops and samples, maybe not. Who cares? Shit is hot.

Speaking of hot, the title track Piñata is the damn embodiment of the term “posse cut”. Featuring spots by: Domo Genesis, G-Wiz, Casey Veggies, Sulaiman, Meechy Darko, and Mac Miller; this track gives everyone their chance to shine clocking in at a little over 8 minutes. I don’t know all these cats, but that beat alone makes the track worth a listen. Couldn't find the track for y'all to peep but please believe, it was definitely a good decision in making this song the title track.

All in all, Piñata is a damn good album. If you have easily offended ears, you might want to go ahead and pass this one up; Freddie Gibbs definitely ain’t pulling any punches. His subject matter is gritty, the delivery is greasy, the production is nasty, and the end product is beautiful.  Piñata is easily one of the best albums that will be released this year.  Freddie and Madlib have proven that sometimes kicking knowledge means letting people know what happens on the other side of town.

17 May 2014

Detroit Che - CHE-RAQ (CHI-RAQ Freestyle)

Detroit Che just made her debut on BITM not too long ago and she's back at it. Amidst the Tyga and Lil Durk beef, everyone has took it upon themselves to go off this sick beat, including the Detroit Native. Of all the stabs taken at this track, this is probably my favorite version. It's just another display from Che that she is not playing games with rappers. Along  with the CHE-RAQ, is an older freestyle from Detroit Che off the classic "Grinding" beat. Both tracks are ill, and worth 4 repeated plays a piece. Peace.

15 May 2014

RANTS: The Secret Weapon

It's been a long time coming for Herbert Stevens IV, better known as Ab-Soul of TDE. While the masses have spent the past couple years enjoying the radio-friendly sides of Kendrick Lamar and more recently ScHoolboy Q, many fans of that ilk couldn't name a single song penned by the Black Lip Bastard. As nice as it would be to assume all Hip-hop fans seek out great music on their own or follow artists and movements before they "blow up," the fact is that's simply not the case...despite how incredibly easy it is to visit sites like allhiphop.com, hiphopdx.com, and even bestinthemix.net to get a taste of new or lesser known talent on the urban music scene. The radio is still everything to these types of fans, and if it doesn't sound like Future, Rich Homie Quan, Kid Ink, or isn't produced by DJ Mustard, they're simply not checkin for it.

It's unfortunate, but it's also a welcome challenge for Top Dawg Entertainment. Falling in line with the status-quo has never been their M.O. The CEO, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith has been successful with strategically setting all of his artists up for success on both playing fields without following the cookie-cut blueprint laid out by current chart toppers. The label as a whole prides themselves on this accomplishment, but the hold up of the release of Ab-Soul's major label debut album has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Fans of Ab's 2012 independent LP "Control System" have been eagerly awaiting a follow-up, but have only been treated to a few tracks and collabs here and there over the past two years. Soul has made it known that he has at least two, possibly three full projects completed, but they are sitting on the shelf as Top Dawg has yet to reveal a release date for any of them. At the beginning of the month Soulo, growing as restless as his fans, took to twitter threatening to leak the album himself, which was quickly met with backlash from Top Dawg himself making it seem like there was turmoil within the crew.

Since then, Top allowed Soul to release the title of the album which is called "These Days..." and last night Top Dawg tweeted ""YALL BEEN ON MY HEAD ABOUT @abdashsoul RELEASE DAY…. SINCE YALL ACT LIKE YALL RUN #TDE... IM LETN YALL PICK THE DAY... JUNE 3, 10 ,17 OR 24." The problem with this is, if this is indeed Ab-Soul's major label debut album, where is the music so far? Both Q and Kendrick had a couple songs in rotation well before their albums dropped. Top Dawg said every member of TDE will drop an album in 2014, but why are they taking such a different approach for Ab-Soul?

It would be a shame to mishandle the major label release of one of the most talented cats on the TDE roster. We are in the middle of witnessing Black Hippy rise above underground success one by one, but I always saw Ab-Soul as potentially the biggest challenge for the label. His subject matter goes over the heads of typical radio listeners, so you would think Top Dawg would spend a little time easing him into the mainstream limelight. That is, of course, if "These Days..." is indeed his debut studio album as opposed to another indie release. Either way, Soul's self-promotion has been more than enough for hardcore fans to be on board. And whenever the project ends up being released, best believe the BITM crew will be all over it.

Hit Us Up @BestInTheMix @TwonJonson

VIDEO: Cam'ron - Dipsh*its ft Juelz Santana & Dame Dash

The hip hop world has been teased with a Diplomats reunion for the better part of the 10's. With Cam'ron and Jim Jones ending the fued, all other members seemed to be down. Cam has stayed relevant with his resurgence in the mixtape game with fellow Harlem emcee and newest Dipset artist, Vado. And of course fans still hope for Killa Season 2 to drop sometime this year. Jim Jones step out of Killa's shadow and made his own moves the last couple of years. The Capo dropped an LP, a few mixtapes, started his clothing line Vampire Life and became more of a main stream figure with his appearance in Love & Hip Hop and later spin off Crissy & Mr.Jones (is that still on?). Juelz Santana also dropped a few mixtapes and is scheduled to release the Lil Wayne produced LP, Born to Lose, Built to Win (his third studio album). He also made his rounds on the Love & Hip Hop show with girlfriend/baby mama Kimbella. Don't really follow Freekey Zekey, sorry.

But while we wait for Diplomatic Immunity 3, Killa is set to drop his EP Federal Reserve sometime later this year. His Just Blaze single Dipsh*its has a visual pairing featuring Juelz on the mic and Dame Dash on the......mic? Even though the Dipset movement technically didn't start until the early 00's, they def got that 90's essence to them. Peep this video and let us know if you are still checking for the Dipset reunion.

13 May 2014

VIDEO: Ransom - Shampain ft Jadakiss, Raekwon & Mike Classic

Since the A-Team went their separate ways in the mid 00's, Ransom stayed on his grind through various mixtape projects. Last year he dropped The Proposal with Statik Selektah, which turned out to be a very solid showing for the Jersey emcee. Last month Ran appeared on Kay Slay's single Real Hip Hop with Papoose and Vado (off of Slay's upcoming album, The Last Hip Hop Disciple). Ransom also used April to give us the single Dying Breed, from his upcoming album Pain & Glory. Yesterday Ran dropped a video to accompany his single Shampain featuring Jadakiss, Raekwon and Mike Classic. Ransom has stayed sharp with his lyrical pen. Of course it is hard to compete with the hip hop heavyweights Jada and The Chef, but Ran holds his own in this track and proves he has cemented his place in the hip hop landscape.

Peep singles Real Hip Hop and Dying Breed below!

08 May 2014

VIDEO: Big K.R.I.T. - Mt Olympus

Thought they wanted trap..
Thought they wanted bass..
Thought they wanted molly..
Thought they wanted drank..

Since I already reviewed the single, figure I'd just follow up with the visuals for Mt Olympus.

Krizzle submits a visually charged video to go along with his emphatic lyrical single. He uses shadows, color overlays and negative (photographic) techniques to create the aggression felt in the track. He is frustrated with the game and he lack of respect he feels he deserves. So peep this creative take on K.R.I.T.'s Mt Olympus.

06 May 2014

Local Artist: Detroit Che

Detroit has a plethora, a gold mine even, of up and coming rappers that actually have captured the essence of what the Motor City used to sound like. Prior to the guns, violence, and gangster rap, we had soul in our music. J. Dilla, Elzhi, Slum Village, Black Milk and others was the voice of the city before it became the murderous sound that it has now. We are currently on a brink of a creative era, with Clear Soul Forces being the new pulse that brought the most life and attention back to Detroit, it was only a matter of time before the soul spread through the streets. Ladies & gentleman, boys & girls I give you Detroit Che.

Detroit Che is nothing but rawness. On the mic, she is absolutely nothing like them power puff girl ingredients (sugar, spice, and everything nice), she comes to destroy the track and make you look like you are a novice or just shouldn't be in her class at all. This is not your everyday female rapper that makes the same trash, Che is gritty and far from prissy. She puts on for the city of Detroit and she does it very well. She has mastered the alliteration of words and chopping up syllables and piecing them together. You can not and will not be disappointed with her as an artist. As she states on her "Levels" freestyle, "Fuck that female shit I don't need no slack, no pity none of that shit," and she doesn't. Detroit Che is one of the front runner's for the reclaiming of Detroit's reign in hip-hop. Enjoy!

This is the Noah mixtape in which you can also visit her soundcloud for more individual tracks.

01 May 2014

SINGLE: Big K.R.I.T. - Mt. Olympus

If you haven't heard, Big K.R.I.T. is dropping his second studio album, Cadillactica, later this year (fallish). Without an official tracklist, it is hard to say what will be on the album. But during his "Week of K.R.I.T.", Krizzle gave us: Steps, Wolf On Wallstreet, Lac Lac, Conscious Effort Freestyle, New Agenda and Egyptian Cotton. And earlier this week we were blessed with the single, Mt. Olympus. It is hard to describe the track without using words like fuego, monster, nuts or amazing. The track is K.R.I.T.'s assertion in his lyrical abilities and announcing his presence among hip-hop's upper echelon emcees.

Young Krizzle wants Cadillactica to take him out of his "comfort zones". He has grown lyrically and from a production standpoint that he wants this album to reflect that. Cadillactica is meant to be another "quality" album from an elite emcee. And it Mt. Olympus is any indication of what we can expect, then my only request is DROP IT NOW Krizzle! Please and thank you.

Stream Mt. Olympus below. As well as Week of K.R.I.T. tracks. AND the Cadillactica trailer. OK..that's it.