19 November 2014

REVIEW: Stalley - Ohio

Of this group, this member (low-key) may be respected the most simply for not being pompous or too deep into the mainstream music industry. Maybach Music Group’s Stalley released his long awaited debut album Ohio a few weeks ago, ceasing the rumors of Ross not being as focused on him as the other members of MMG. Stalley was seen as the Jay Electronica (solely based off of a tedious album release), after having a 3 year wait for a signature drop. However, the Ohio native did drop a major mixtape in 2012 Savage Journey To The American Dream, and Honest Cowboy, as a quiet release last year. Regardless of the wait, it is nice to see Stalley’s patience pay off.

Ohio starts off with it’s self titled acronym “Welcome to O.H.I.O. (Over Here I’m Original).” As nothing but more than a intro, Stalley shouts out separate cities in Ohio and lets them know they can put their money on him. As the LP develops Stalley lets listeners know what his neighborhood(s) in Ohio are about. This whole album is very laxed and mellow. Being from the midwest and very close to Motown, Stalley has a lost of jazz and band instruments on his tracks to give this project its own individuality. To add to the project, there aren’t a lot of features and we as listeners get to hear Stalley as an artist and the pictures he paints. The only bad track of the 12 on the album, which is also one of the features, is “One More Shot” featuring Rick Ross & August Alsina. The song is absolutely horrendous, and the credit is owed to the whining of Mr. Alsina. Aside from the terrible vocals, I don’t think this song could have been much better. As the designated “ladies song” on the album, it barely has any affect to the project as a whole. “Navajo Rugs” is a track that will make a blemish like “One More Shot” obsolete. This track features the renown De La Soul. As one of the better tracks on the album, this song is about entering the mind of Stalley, Posdnuos and Dave. Each verse is woven like tapestry with each artist. “Navajo Rugs” is a great track that all true fans of hip-hop will like especially with classic verses from De La Soul.

It’s no secret that of the Maybach Music Group Empire, Stalley is the one that is least checked for. Should this be viewed as a travesty of talent? Or should this be a weight lifter for him? With him being the lone wolf of the group, Stalley does not have to worry about the pressure of dropping a project and has the availability to exercise his own creative space as an artist to produce great albums like Ohio. This by far is Stalley’s best project, and with it being his debut album he couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. His previous mixtape, Honest Cowboy, seemed very dull and did not make a statement to me. I believe Ohio will overshadow his previous project with ease.

While having a dope debut album, I don’t think Ohio will make too much noise among the hip-hop community. Stalley seems to enjoy his solitude and it can be deduced from his career and how much you hear from him whether it is the tabloids, blogs, clubs or anything. Stalley is not a in your face type of MC, he simply gives you the music and disappears like smoke. If this project is to break through on a higher platform it will be the fans and bloggers to give him the acknowledgement he deserves.

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18 November 2014

VIDEO: Royce Da 5'9 & DJ Premier - Raiders Of The Lost Art

The last quarter of the year has been a strong one for hip hop, with noteworthy singles and albums from both mainstream and underground emcees. Rapsody dropped another 5 Tape effort, DMV's own Logic came into the game with a solid debut and BITM favorite Big K.R.I.T. stayed true to his style and gave us another classic. Another highly anticipated album to wrap up the year will come from Royce Da 5'9 and DJ Premier. The duo will come together and release PRhyme on December 9th.

Complex put together a promo documentary that follows each artist in their respective states. Bun B narrates brief bios on both emcee and producer. The documentary briefly touches on Royce's alcohol addiction and Preem's struggle before linking up with Guru and forming Gang Starr. Of course the similar formula (duo with emcee and producer) used for PRhyme will draw comparisons to Gang Starr. Especially since Preemo will be the main producer in both duos. But I think Royce is lyrical enough (and different enough) to stand on his own and give us a completely different album.

Peep documentary and tracklist below.

2. Dat Sound Good ft. Mac Miller & Ab Soul 
3. U Looz 
4. You Should Know ft. Dwele 
5. Courtesy 
6. Wishin’ ft. Common 
7. To Me, To U ft. Jay Electronica 
8. Underground Kings ft. Killer Mike & Schoolboy Q 
9. Microphone Preem ft. Slaughterhouse

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16 November 2014

REVIEW: Big K.R.I.T. - Cadillactica

There's something about artists who are true students of the game that heightens anticipation for their next project. Big K.R.I.T. is someone who truly takes pride in his work and manages to capture that soulful southern vibe from the glory days of the Dungeon Family. He is the little brother of the south who is making a serious case for himself in becoming its next king. Every project he releases is in a league of its own, and his second studio album Cadillactica is no different.

The album kicks off with "Kreation," where K.R.I.T. talks about his creative process. Cadillactica in itself represents an uncharted planet that exists in K.R.I.T.'s mind where he goes to create. It is the planet where the Cadillac that crash landed on earth on the cover of Live From The Underground came from. As obscure as it sounds, this concept allows his music to be free and fearless, while still embodying that soul and funky "Cadillacmuzik" we've come to expect from him. Each song on the album is, in essence, him populating the planet. Five tracks in, the album really begins to hit its stride with his third single, "Soul Food" featuring the legend, Raphael Saadiq. It's songs like these where K.R.I.T. truly shines as an artist. When he's not making trunk bangers or defending his ability to rap with the best of them, K.R.I.T. hits this zone where his inspirations come out in his music. The smooth, soulful sounds he has mastered on previous mixtapes and his first album are taken to the next level on Cadillactica. From "Pay Attention" and "Mind Control," to tracks like "Mo Better Cool" and "Angels," there is no shortage of that relaxing vibe his music gives you.

Cadillactica still maintains a level of balance, though. There's a stigma that is automatically attached to rappers who come from where he is from, but he lays all negative stereotypes about southern rappers lacking lyricism to rest on tracks like "Mt. Olympus" and "King of the South." On the latter, some would say he is taking shots at the king of the past 10+ years, T.I., but it's far from a diss record. It's more of a reminder that being from a certain region doesn't automatically define your ability or creativety. On "Mt. Olympus," which was originally written as a response to Kendrick's "Control" verse, K.R.I.T. portrays himself as the rap god he feels that he is, and is atop the mountain kickin it with other gods in the game. His cadences and wordplay on these songs are some of the strongest displays of lyricism from anyone in recent years. Simply put, the man is just a beast.

The problem is, the game isn't necessarily built for cats like K.R.I.T. anymore. He continues to crank out quality projects every year, yet will probably never get the respect that is way overdue at this point. Maybe that is a symptom of him having the same manager as Ludacris, or the fact K.R.I.T. is simply a victim of being born 10-15 years too late in a game where his sound isn't as appreciated as it should be. Hopefully word of mouth and the internet will be enough to allow this great album to reach more than just his core fans, because the radio surely won't help. All in all, this is a very worthy follow-up to Live From The Underground, and any fan of hip-hop needs this in their collection.

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13 November 2014

SINGLE: Ghostface Killah - Love Don't Live Here No More ft Kandace Springs

Next month (December 9th) Tony Stark himself will drop another conceptual album, 36 Seasons. The album will accompany a graphic novel, the same way his last album Twelve Reasons to Die did. This story is set in the present and will feature GFK as a hip-hop superhero, "who returns to Staten Island in search of personal retribution and on a mission to save his community from corrupt authorities and urban decay." His first single, Love Don't Live Here No More, dropped this week and features up and coming R&B songstress Kandace Springs.

The instrumental is a call back to the simple soulful sounds from the late 90s, early 00s. The track follows Ghostface as he heads to his girls spot after doing a 9 year bid. Once there he finds his lady, Bamboo, living with another dude. Since this is the second track off of 36 Seasons, I would assume that from here he goes on to become the super hero vigilante the city needs.

So uall know your boy will cop this (really after hearing this single I am looking forward to the rest), and if you want to do the same go here. But at least peep the single below.

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12 November 2014


It has been three years since Marshall Mathers and his Shady 2.0 crew reintroduced themselves in the 2011 BET cypher. Eminem, Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf easily spit a collective performance that will go down as one of the best group cyphers in recent memory. Later this month Em will drop the Shady XV compilation album to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of Shady Records. In promotion of this milestone and album, Mr. Mathers released another cypher featuring the 2.0 crew again. Ain't much to say, the collective bodies yet another cypher. Visually they switched it up by having the individual emcees spit from their respective regions.

Peep video below.

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06 November 2014

VIDEO: Kendrick Lamar - i

I know you've heard this song a few hundred times by now. Especially if you been watching any NBA games (as it is the official song for the association). We even posted the single when it dropped over a month ago. Well this week Mr. Lamar provided the visuals for the first single off of his next LP, i. This song has set the stage for K Dot's third studio album (Section8.0 is considered an album even though it was only available as a download). Peter Rosenberg has said that the few tracks he has heard are as good (if not better) than gkmc. He said, "Kendrick Lamar somehow has developed even more, gone to another level. He’s talking about Black righteousness. He’s talking about Africa. There’s social commentary." 

The video is another strong visual narrative to accompany the single. Kendrick starts off in a club where a fight is about to break out. A man in a white suit breaks it up and Kendrick leads the crowd into a line dance. He leaves and walks through the streets and leads different groups of people with the same dance. He meets Mr. Biggs himself, Ron Isely, who drives him back to the club/lounge. 

So while we wait for early 2015, peep the video below. 

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03 November 2014

VIDEO: Joe Budden, "Ordinary Love Shit"

Joey is back with another one! In the fourth installment of his "Ordinary Love Shit" series, Mr. Budden waxes philosophical on the topic of love and the heartache, and break, that it causes. Whether the song is a sad and desolate tribute to the amazing roller coaster ride that has been Joe/Tahiry or simply a grown man's ode to emotional destruction, the fact remains that this is yet another banger with classic and sharply creative wordplay (pay attention to the 'ballplayer' lines). 
The song is off of Joe Budden's latest offering, "Some Love Lost," which drops November 4. The video, just released, was directed by Walu and shows Joe in an dimly lit and enclosed room, surrounded by his words, his rhymes, his thoughts, and the occasional haunting presence of some thick vixen with no face. The video is simple, and yet descriptive, as Joe speaks to his former (and interestingly unnamed) love about the pitfalls they encountered and what led to the degradation of their relationship. No, this isn't "Pump It Up," and it shouldn't be. Joe is easily one of the craftiest emcees in the game, and not simply because of his being able to last since those early radio days, but also because he is one of the few out now that still knows how to tell a story, a story that will draw you in and make you listen. The video is great because it isn't flashy, but it compliments, which is what a music video is supposed to do. Complement the song, not overshadow it. Joe is sitting in a chair for the vast majority of it, simply speaking his mind, and yet, I could hardly sit still or stop watching. Peep!

-The Niftian

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