29 April 2014

Pioneer Series: DJ EZ Rock

Hip hop has lost a legend, a legend in DJ E-Z Rock (posing on the right side of the main pic), born Rodney Bryce, one half of the famous duo responsible for “It Takes Two.” The song, a verifiable hit from 1988, has been sampled numerous times and shot the two to superstardom. Although E-Z Rock was stymied from producing in the industry due to clearance issues with the title track, he eventually reunited with Rob Base on an album in 1994. That album, Break of Dawn, didn’t do well commercially, but it didn’t matter: Bryce was already a platinum selling producer.

Bryce passed on reportedly on the 27th of April at the age of 46. His untimely death has not yet been given a conclusive ruling. BITM will keep you updated as details emerge. This truly is a loss to the hip hop community as one of our pioneers has passed on too soon. Our thoughts go out to DJ E-Z Rock’s family and friends. May be rest in power.

Enjoy the history lesson and pay your respects in the comments below.

28 April 2014

OUTKAST: 20 years of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

As the name would imply, the "golden era" of hip-hop is considered the pinnacle of hip-hop as an art form. If you were lucky enough to come up around that time you probably agree that hip-hop has not seen a lyrical high as it did since the mid 90s. And 2014 has been serving as a steady reminder of how extraordinary the decade truly was. Both Nas and Mobb Deep have celebrated the 20 year anniversary's of their most iconic albums. And over the weekend this milestone was reached by another pair of hip-hop kings. Outkast dropped their classic debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik on April 26th, 1994. They have not had an "Illmatic week" like HipHopDX put together for Nas. They are not dropping a new album around the anniversary date like Mobb Deep did with The Infamous Mobb Deep. But MySpace did put a page together for their Throwback Thursday series. They stream each track with comments/reactions from hip-hop emcees: Big K.R.I.T., B.o.B., Bubba Sparxxx, David Banner, Freddie Gibbs, Gangsta Boo, Rittz and Trae Tha Truth. It was remarkable to hear each track and see how it affected each emcee. The album has stood the test of time and will always been known as an eternal classic for southern rappers and rappers worldwide. To be so young and have such a cohesive album is incredible. The album is hip-hop perfection. From the lyrics to production to the skits/interludes, the album is a spotlight on Atlanta hip-hop and southern culture. So, if you haven't heard this classic album, shame on you. Make your next move to cop Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and hit repeat all day long. 

Click link to view MySpace page with album stream and emcee reactions.

How OutKast’s ‘Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’ Shaped These 8 Rappers

25 April 2014

The Tape Deck: But Not Really.......


 So the Tape Deck label was the closest one I could match for this one right here. Cats are constantly reminiscing on 90's hip hop. While I am definitely a proponent of the current state of hip hop as a whole, this video clip right here is a shining example of why some just aren't letting go of the 90s. After watching this, I can't blame them either. When the first (and as far as I'm concerned, real) run of The Arsenio Hall Show aired it's final show, some of hip hop's then shining stars: Q-Tip, Yo-Yo, CL Smooth, Fu-Schnickens, Das-Efx, and Guru to name a few, came out and performed a song written just for him. If you watched Arsenio back in the day, get ready to remember this one. For those who don't know Arsenio but know their hip hop history, then get ready for a geek moment. Arsenio Hall was a staple in late night talk show, and the love he got in the end was more than deserved. Check it out.

REVIEW: Pharoahe Monch - PTSD

20+ years in the game and Pharoahe Monch is still one of the sharpest lyricist out today. His fourth solo studio album (and second indy joint) PTSD is a thematic follow up to his indy debut album, W.A.R. (We Are Renegades). Monch said, "The W.A.R. album was like, I'm going to battle against the machine, I'm doing this independently. I'm putting some things out that I learned and I'm going to expose about the music industry." And if you follow any news about veterans (or have people close to you who have gone oversees), you know that often the unfortunate aftermath of war is the mental and physical consequences. Monch has dealt with depression and battled with asthma, and on top of this has fought against the status quo of the business side of hip-hop. Thankfully he is now in a place where we get a Pharoahe Monch that is as confident as ever. Did PTSD live up to the intricate subject he chose? Let's find out.

Pharoahe Monch has had a requiring narrative that he has chronicled throughout his career, solo and with Organized Konfusion. In the duo's 1994 album, Stress: The Extinction Agenda, he featured the first track in the saga. Stray Bullet featured a younger more aggressive Monch, painting a raw hood introspective narrative. With images of playgrounds and apartment hallways, he tells tales of innocent bystanders falling to stray bullets. The bullet doesn't discriminate or care how old you are.  His second solo album, Desire, gave us the follow up track to the bullet series. In When the Gun Draws Monch gives us another layer of the gun violence problem. He creates a more personal track that focuses on the issue like children who live in homes with guns. This is not just a street corner problem. It has spread to the suburbs and white america. In the second half of the track Monch touches on famous gun deaths like JFK and public figures who were taken before then could make changes in world. Finally, Pharoahe ends the trilogy with DamagePharoahe Monch tackles multiple gun issues and perspectives. He comments on hip-hip rappers who flash guns in music videos. They want to be cool but are not prepared for the consequences. This third installment presents a demanding bullet, who is insane yet in control. The bullet is in full control of its factions and will not waste stray bullets without purpose. After seeing unspeakable horrors, the bullet is more aggressive and assertive. It has welcomed its title as "murderer" and will fight to make sure it's influence stays supreme, especially making sure gun laws stay suppressed. Monch finishes the saga with the most dangerous bullet yet. It is deranged and warped under its own power, but unaware of its own mental instability. He sums up the track with one last verse, "See there is no need for conversation when we are discussing the bullets point of view."

I ain't gonna feature more tracks like I normally do. I think this track alone is strong enough to peek the interest of any Monch fan. And hopefully bring this lyricist to new ears. The growth of Pharoahe Monch is organic and genuine. With his fourth solo project, we get a more emotional and personal look into the emcee's soul. He is vulnerable but not weak. The ingenuity to build upon W.A.R. and still have an album that could stand on its own is remarkable. We get the classic intricate, though provoking lyrics and wordplay you expect from a Monch album. His social commentary is eloquent and intelligent from beginning to end. Even his features were few and deliberate, paring with Black Thought and Talib Kweli to gives us tracks full of substance and skill. Production is also top shelf. 2014 is panning out to be a good year for hip-hop. Hope the trend continues, and with PTSD in the headphones, think it will.

23 April 2014

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo

Normally when talking about Top Dawg Entertainment, you think of Cali considering all of its artists were born and raised there. As of 2013, TDE signed two out of state artists, SZA and Isaiah Rashad. SZA reigning from New Jersey and Isaiah from Chatanooga, Tennessee. Rashad basically just hopped on the scene with no warning at all. He toured with Juicy J, Joey Bada$$, Smoke DZA and other in 2012 but no known previous projects. Regardless of his rise to the scene, he made a good enough impression for Top Dawg to want him on his label.

I’ve been under the influence that Isaiah Rashad’s mixtape Cilvia Demo recently came out and I had only been behind a week or two, I was terribly wrong. Cilvia Demo released this past January and did not make any noise, or at least no one I knew or any social networks buzzed about it to my knowledge. This tape is Isaiah’s introduction to the world so like many other artists, he is talking about his story.

Cilvia Demo is a dark and ominous mixtape. Rashad visits his haunted past of his father not being present and leaving while he was a small child. Prior to his departure, Isaiah’s father was an alcoholic which Rashad says he inherited. While coming up Isaiah used to cut himself and even tried to hang himself at a playground that he describes in the tracks “Hereditary” and “Heavenly Father”. Isaiah Rashad does conclude that he does want to get better and not be anything like his father (Thank God). Other tracks like “R.I.P. Kevin Miller,” “Banana,” and “Shot You Down” are just straight vicious. “Shot You Down” is my favorite track on here due to Schoolboy Q’s homicide that took place. Jay Rock also spit a very hot verse it just doesn’t overshadow Q’s verse.

 Cilvia Demo is a great introductory tape for Isaiah Rashad. This is a very heart felt tape that can relate to Eminem’s Marshal Mathers LP. I am still upset I didn’t hear of this mixtape until last week. Better late than never I guess. Dope mixtape and I definitely think this deserves a legitimate listen. 

Twitter: @_KJTheGreat @BestInTheMix
E-mail: Kjohnsonk14@gmail.com

18 April 2014

Listen Up: Wick-It The Instigator - Live Vinyl Mix

     Greetings from Iraq kinfolk. It's your boy Irish Ninja here and I'm gonna keep this one short and sweet. This cat you may or may not have heard by the name of Wick It The Instigator recently dropped a live hip hop vinyl mix in response to the number of shares he got for it on Facebook. This mix is 45 minutes of turntable magic that will get you in the mood for whatever you are getting into this weekend. I'm telling you, this man spun some serious 90's hip hop mixed in with a lot of feel good funk. So go ahead and hit play and let this get you ready for whatever you are getting into this weekend.  If you have no plans, then dammit if this mix won't make you change your mind. So hit play and turn it up. Seriously, do it now! Definitely make sure you share this with anyone you can; I'm sure they will thank you. You can check the jump here or head over to our SoundCloud page for the FREE DOWNLOAD. So, what are you waiting for? Get to it!


14 April 2014


Causing a recent uproar from basically any and everyone who has laid eyes upon his “Only you can prevent a wildfire”  styled hat, is Pharrell, who released his sophomore studio album Girl in March. It doesn’t seem like it’s only his second album right? Being in the game so long with a qualified and potent resume like his overshadows a short list of solo projects. The forever youthful Mr. Williams shows he still has plenty of gas in the tank and can still make great music. Pharrell is nothing shy of greatness when it comes to music and his ability to create it. Aiding in his amazing sounds is his smooth vocals. If you have a tailored ear to anything involving Pharrell you can detect the sound that is related to his previous projects with The Neptunes and N.E.R.D but nothing identical. Being a fan of his sound, I enjoy hearing his stamped style while still being able to enjoy new developments and ways to manifest them differently. 

GIRL is a composition and ode to beautiful women, specifically the woman that Mr. Williams loves. “Marilyn Monroe” and “Brand New” exemplifies the love that he has for this girl (pun intended) and how she makes him feel. Both of these tracks are beautiful and great tracks to listen to. It’s music that will make you feel happy (outside of his inescapable single). Following up from In My Mind, Pharrell flaunts his knack for being one of the best when it comes to bringing a diverse sound on a track and making a complete hit out of it. Though there are tracks of pure bliss, don’t think Skateboard P won’t switch it up to a freak one like “Gush”. P brings out the adult side but keeps it subtle. 

The everlasting Pharrell created another masterpiece. GIRL is an amazing album to have in your catalogue no matter who you are. This is an album you can play from front to back and not even have to think about pressing the next button. The only case where you probably wouldn’t want to listen to it is if you just recently ended your relationship with someone you love, seeing how this is project is a ballad to someone special. While having a new album, there are tons of traces of Pharrell’s previous tracks and interactions with past works that he has incorporated into this new project. The only two features come from Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys, which are both brilliant fits for the both of them, especially Alicia Keys. A truly harmonic album, that can make anyone happy makes this piece so much better. I don’t think Skateboard P will ever lose his touch. 

Twitter: @_KJTheGreat
E-mail: kohnsonk14@gmail.com

Coachella: Nas (+ Jay Z & Puff)

Unfortunately the legendary Outkast had issues with their Coachella show. Technical issues made the experience less than optimal..and the crowd was unworthy. In an ongoing BITM email thread our own TwonJohnson ranted that the "young rich [expletives]" did not deserve to be blessed with the god emcees that performed at Coachella. And his sentiment is shared with the internet world with many people angry that the audience was just there for Hey Ya and had no knowledge of classic noncommercial Outkast tracks. This is a topic for another day..but unfortunately this is the business side of hip hop that make it the global enterprise it is now. But onto good news. 

Nas is dropping his Illmatic XX album tomorrow (April 15th)..the 20 year anniversary of his classic debut. He has been making the rounds on Real Talk with Bill Maher and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. And this culminated with his Illmatic performance at Coachella. He runs through the entire 10 track album (really 9 songs)..with the addition of Made You Look and One Mic. But he didn't stop there..the God Son brought out Hova for Dead Presidents and Where I'm From..and Puff Daddy (Puff again..right?) for Hate Me Now. The audience was engaged throughout the performance and Nasty Nas did not suffer from faulty speakers or other mechanical problems. As my BITM brethren said..it was a good weekend for hip hop. 

12 April 2014

OutKast Cochella 2014 Reunion

In light of 3000's recent victory in BITM's Hip Hop March Madness bracket, we are blessed with a small reminder of why Andre is still ahead of the pack. Reunited as OutKast to rock the stage at one of music's biggest events, Andre 3000 and Big Boi run through several of their classics from back in the day. This footage may not be up for long so get it in while you can!

Hip Hop March Madness: Championship

After weeks of pissin each other off because (insert favorite artist) didn't make it to the next round, we here at BITM have finally narrowed it down to two artists. Who knew Eminem would edge out Tupac? And Stacks over Nas? You all probably think we're wildin, and if so feel free to visit articles on previous rounds to share your thoughts versus our own analyses. But without further ado...


stayfly:  Honestly..I ain't even think we'd have this final match. I guess that's what March Madness is all about. But..at least we co-signed by the great Kendrick Lamar (from the feature verse of the year, "Control"): I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time/ Bout who's the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas/ Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of y'all/ New [dudes] just new [dudes], don't get involved." Here we go. 
Marshall's style is a unique addition to the gumbo that is the art of rapping. He will def go down as one of the greatest figures in the game. But I don't want to beat a dead horse with my comments..I just can't say he is the greatest emcee (from the 80s until now). As great as SOME of his albums were..I can't sit back and listen to every track. The MMLP was probably the album that I hit repeat on the most. The balance he found on the album was perfect. And that is where I feel he struggles. As much versatility as the kid has..he struggles with keeping himself in check. Which is why I will beat this dead horse: Em is consistently able to create great songs when paired with another great emcee. One emcee that has the versatility but is able to keep a strong balance is Andre Benjamin. It is kinda hard to put Stacks in this convo since his solo discography is just The Love Below (and you could argue this as a solo record). But the range he was able to find is amazing (made sure I ran through TLB before writing)..it has the essence of a hip hop album with an amalgamation of many influences from multiple genres. It is not just a country dude singing the hook (like Headlights for Em). Stacks successfully blends his style to fit each track like a music chameleon. Even though it isn't his more lyrical offering..it is the most creative and unique. But if it is lyrics you want..there is no better catalog than that of Outkast. And if you need to hear Stacks sans Big Boi..peep any of these features: Green Light, Throw Some D's remix, The Real Her, I Do, Lookin For Ya, Interlude, Party, Pink Matter, Sixteen, What a Job, Walk It Out remix, Royal Flush, 30 Something remix, Sorry, The Art of Storytellin Part 4, and International Players Anthem (I Choose You). His verses just keep getting better..and the diversity of the artists he works with and the themes he touches show he can flow like water through any track. And if we doing the rap battle thing..Stacks is probably the best equipped to take on Shady. There isn't any flow..or style (within and outside of hip hop constraints)..that Tres Stacks can't own. His longevity speaks volume..and his impact as 1/2 of the almighty Outkast put Andre 3000 over the top for me. TRES STACKS.

Ra'z Al Ghoul: I'm not going to beat a dead horse. It's nothing else to be said for me. 3 stacks get on tracks and destroy in which Angel named an arsenal of them. Em nice but like Angel said, he is at his best when on a track with another great artist. It's the Battle mentality Em has in him and probably just what we as Detroit natives do, we're better in competition. Outside of features and ciphers I don't really rock with too much of Shady. 3 Stacks got my vote.

TwonJonson: Yeah there really isnt too much more that needs to be said from me either. Both Em and Andre 3000 come wit off the wall wordplay but what sets Stacks a couple worlds beyond Eminem is his ability to be creative with his subject matter. This dude just never runs out of ideas man. He's even taken basic cliche situations and flipped them in ways you would never imagine a rapper doing it. And no matter how big his legendary status grows, he ALWAYS raps about shit that anyone can relate to, unlike EM. Andre 3000 is just the greatest rapper to me. The man was more than a decade ahead of his time, much like Hendrix, but the game still has yet to catch upto him though. ICE COLD for the crown.

The Niftian: We already know who I am voting for, and I know I am in the minority, but I am going to offer my rebuttal anyway. Andre 3000 is an amazing emcee, and his lyrics never fail to wow me. His content is pure and heartfelt, his subject matter is relateable, his delivery is flawless. He's truly a boss among bosses. However, his STYLE is what fails to give him the 'W' from my side of the camp, at least when compared to Eminem. I could never take anything from 3 Stacks, but when we talk about actual battling, Eminem would fly circles around Andre. Could Mr. Benjamin get in some great lines? Of course! But they wouldn't be enough for someone of Em's caliber. Slim Shady is damn near literally made for this type of shit, and no one has been able to dethrone him. To say that he does his best work when coupled alongside another artist is bullshit! Yes, you can look to songs like Renegade as an example, but one must know that Renegade wasn't even meant to be a Jay-Z song in the first place. What Em spit on that track was BEFORE S.Carter came into the picture. That's classic Eminem all day. The days of crazy ass, bubble gum Marshall Mathers are gone, and in that place has risen an artist more skilled, more polished, more daring, and more brash. Em has finally laid the stupid Ken Kaniff shit to the side and decided to demolish rap once again with sword, shield and microphone. He finally takes the craft seriously again, and it's not too little, too late because he is STILL a badass. His content makes more sense, and he has finally embraced the humanity that is Marshall. He doesn't get off on raping his grandmother or cutting his ex-wife anymore, but instead can knock you upside the head with lyrics that are actually realistic! Andre is a god emcee, yes, but he can't take on Eminem. And that's saying something, because no one I know in their right mind would push Andre to the side as a singular artist. The fact remains, however, that 3000 would be left out in the ice cold if he ever stepped to Detroit's Champion. EDGE: Eminem aka King Marshall

Irish Ninja: There can only be one. While this is a battle I would definitely pay to see, there is no way Em can take this now, not with the emcee he has become. I'm not hating on him for evolving as an artist, or whatever it is he did. But there is no way the current Em can take 3 Stacks. While technically Em can make a verse sound good with speed and cadences, Andre has a way of putting shit together that gets you hype and then when you decipher it later, you realize that the verse you thought was dope went deeper than you imagined. Real talk, if we were talking about Slim Shady that dropped that first EP or the first Marshall Mathers joint, I'd have gone with Em all day. As wild and crazy as his rhymes would have been, he'd have come with some off the wall shit that would have been perfect in a battle. The current state of Eminem would be battling an MC that hasn't changed steps since day one. Em would be coming at Andre like an attack dog, but 3000 would be responding like the dude that breaks and trains dogs. Classic example is the verse that 3 Stacks spit on the Walk It Out Remix. Andre shitted on all them cats to the same beat, but his shit was so hot it stayed on the track. There have been a fair number of cats that have taken shots at Eminem, whether the shots were subliminal or direct. I think there is a reason why you don't catch folk talking sideways about Mr. 3000, and that's why I think he shuts Mathers down for the win.


Andre Benjamin himself probably wouldn't even want the crown over the talent on this bracket. His humility, despite being heralded as a god in this game, is yet another feather in his cap that has allowed us here at BITM to place him atop rap's elite. The ultimate test is longevity, but no other artist in history has ever been able to do it the way Stacks has. He helped craft albums that were decades ahead of their time. So much so that the more the game catches up to him, the more they respect his nearly impeccable resume. While other artists struggle to remain relevant and typically fall off in 4 years, Andre 3000 has spent more than 10 years trying to escape the limelight and the label of being one of few that could save hip-hop,  all while consistently climbing fan's lists of all-time favorites without the help of any proper album (save for the Idlewild soundtrack). He is living proof that eccentricity and having a unique style coupled with the ability to seriously rap will stand the test of time when executed correctly. Andre has been blessed with the ability to accomplish this and more with little effort on his part. All of this plus the fact he has not dropped in album in years and is still considered (one of) the best in most people's eyes is what earned him the crown in our tournament.

Let us know your thoughts 
@BestInTheMix @TwonJonson

10 April 2014

The Tonight Show: Nas + Q-Tip + The Roots

The BITM crew try to make sure that what we post has some sort of significance to the hip hop community..or least is meaningful to us. Which is why we don't post every rumor and music video that comes out and is trending at that particular moment. If we do post multimedia or newsworthy news  (don't know how else I coulda said that)..we make sure we provide our individual pov..background..and perspective.

Say what you want about Jimmy Fallon..but the dude loves hip hop. From his time hosting Late Night to being the new face of The Tonight Show..we have seen more hip hop with him than any other (white) late night show host. From interviews to musical guests..Fallon appears to genuinely appreciate hip hop. Even his now famous History of Hip Hop bit with Justin Timerlake take us on a musical timeline through some of the best (sometimes not) hip hop songs from the 80's to present. But his greatest contribution is giving the legendary Roots crew a chance to get some face time with America on a nightly basis. While they mostly just play background music..every now and then they get the opportunity to play with a musical guest. Gracias to my boy for sending me this link..featuring Nas doing a live version of The World Is Yours with Q-Tip and the Roots! To see a 90's noncommercial emcee doing a live track FROM the 90's on THE late night show is nothing less than amazing and exciting. At least that's how I feel..what uall think? Link to video below.

The Tonight Show: Nas - The World Is Yours ft Q-tip & The Roots

REVIEW: Mobb Deep - The Infamous Mobb Deep

Last week Mobb Deep blessed the golden era aficionados with their 8th studio album, The Infamous Mobb Deep. The BITM Match Madness has kept us busy the past few weeks..so I did not get a chance to post a review when it dropped. But it did allow me to give the LP a few more spins than I normally would. And with my additional reflection..I can say with no equivocation that the Mobb is back. Almost 10 years since their last G-Unit debut album (remember that?)..Mobb Deep manage to inject something into the hip hop world that was scarce..authentic raw rap. When it comes to hip hop groups from the 90s that made their own lane and successfully stayed relevant (not necessarily commercially relevant..but uall know that's a mute factor for me)..look no further than Prodigy and Havoc. Longevity in the game is a herculean task for most..but to do that while essentially repping the "underground sound" (sans the GGGGGGGG-G-UNIT..album) is incredible.

The intro track Taking You Off Here is a Havoc produced banger..plan and simple. If it ain't broke is the phrase that keeps playing in my head. Havoc lays down an instrumental that could have gone on The Infamous or Hell on Earth. Both emcees dip their lyrics in the fountain of youth and give us the same poignant raw lyrics we are accustomed to. The track is a cautious reminder to all the old and new heads in the game. Mobb Deep lay down lyrics that project the bravado one must have in the emcee fraternity and acknowledge that the new kids who think they hot are just getting "cornier and cornier".

All a Dream has an old school instrumental sample that is also inspired by Biggie's "It was all a dream" line from Juicy. And who did they get to feature on the track? The Lox! That alone made this the single I needed to hear asap. Having all of these hip hop vets on the instrumental made it the strongest track on the album. If you were to take each individual emcee's verse..you have strong bars that flow perfectly and thematically. But stringing them together cohesively make the track that much stronger. Each emcee gives their own perspective of day dreaming. But flip the idea by realizing that their reality is the same as their fantasy.

If you are a Mobb Deep fan..this album will further affirm that 90's hip hop heads still have viable options when looking for new music. Overall this is a conceptually cohesive album that delivers with the production and lyrics. The only track that is out of place for me is Henny. It samples Havoc's instrumental for The Learning (Burn) off of the Infamy album. The track comes off as a lazy attempt for a radio/club hit..hence the Mack Wilds..French Montana and Busta Rhymes features. Even the track Low which also features Mack Wilds on the hook..takes on the topic of the girl on the side..but still works within the overall context of the album. 

But what makes this album truly unique..from Mobb Deep or any album in hip hop since..is the second disc of the LP. Mobb Deep went digging in the crates and found tracks previously unreleased commercially. We get 14 tracks that have classic tracks with alternate verses, freestyles, interviews and brand new tracks from the early 90's from the hip hop duo. It's like finding your old NES with a working Contra in the system. So if that doesn't make you want to cop the album now..at least stream a few tracks below.


Tracks featured on SoundCloud stream: Taking You Off Here, Say Something, All a Dream, My Block, Henny, Conquer, Waterboarding, and Get It Forever.

07 April 2014

Hip Hop March Madness: Final Four

Here we are, just one step away from the championship! Can you feel the energy? Can you feel the heat?! It’s the 2014 BITM Hip Hop March Madness Final Four! I don’t know about you, but I am HYPE! Without further ado, let’s get it started!

Irish Ninja: Yeah, before I even get into my reasoning behind my vote, I'm letting you know that Eminem takes this one. Through this whole tourney I have been heavy about skills being a major factor where you guys have been bringing impact, classics, and tenure into play. Here we have two cats that have had serious impacts on hip hop, both have classics under their belts, and damn if these dudes don’t both hold some sort of royalty position. I really can't see anyone REALLY thinking Pac is gonna take this one. 2Pac is a legend, we all know that, but he is not gonna be trading bars with Eminem, I just don't see it. Real talk, I'm sure Em would have battled Pac's hologram if it was possible. I can easily see 90's heads voting for Pac.....and they'd be wrong. Eminem, the legend killer.

Twon Jonson: Yeah this one is easy for me. It's no longer about legacies and impact anymore to me, although Eminem would hold his own in that category also. This is down to who would slay who in an all-out freestyle battle. Eminem is just on another planet when it comes to battling, and there are very few that can see him on that level. While I still prefer to bump Pac's music, Eminem easily destroys Pac.

stayfly: Toe to toe in a Smack DVD (remember those?) I am sure Marshall would destroy Pac. Eminem probably also has the total sales numbers in the 'W' column as well. And as I mentioned before, Shady Records and Shade45 have had a huge influence in hip hop culture. Dude is a hip hop robot (in a good way) and could probably change his style/flow to fit any feature or instrumental. But when it comes to subject matter the convo switches up for me. He IS capable of very introspective lyrics and themes. But they are very personal and make it hard to relate to (for example: I don't hate my mother and don't need to come up with insane ways to kill her all the time). He mostly focuses on HOW to say things and make them sound clever instead of WHAT he is saying. And I don't want to say his cadence or rhyme pattern and syllable manipulation are gimmicks (like Twista or Weezy or Kanye lately) because they are not. But after awhile it feels like. I get it: you can concatenate words in a new way. Which is why I also feel that his work is consistently better when he has a good lyricist to keep him in check like a Royce or a Jay (Renegade!). Enter Pac. It has been argued that Mr. Shakur is not the greatest lyricist and I can't argue that in its totality. But when it comes to the total emcee package, Makaveli is victorious. Pac was not only able to elevate his emcee status through his lyrics..he was able to elevate the culture. When I was younger it angered me to no end when people would say hip hop was just noise and explicit lyrics. But if I bump Dear Mama..aint a head who couldn't relate and feel the emotions that track evoked. Everything Pac said you could believe. He could affiliate himself with anyone..connect with the street thug's eternal hustle..as well as the young woman's yearning for equal treatment in her professional life. It is impossible to use one aspect of rap to pin these two hip hop monoliths against each other. If its a freestyle battle..Slim Shady for the win. But what about the street anthem..the socially conscience track..the vivid emotional narrative? Let's not forget about how ahead of his time Pac was with Me and My Girlfriend and his mastery of a track housed inside a giant personification. NO ONE could get that track in one listen without being told about it first. Now many emcees use this technique..but none will have a single that will have the effect that Pac had. No? Go to ANY bbq and bump this track..see what happens. Pac is too multifaceted to be confined to one criterion..and his impact too great to just brush off. TUPAC AMARU SHAKUR.

Irish Ninja: Yo Angel....the only question I'd have is how far ahead of his time was Pac? Are we talking like 2006, 2007, 2008? Or even 2012? I really get what you are saying and why you are running with Pac like that, but as far as street anthems, socially conscious tracks, and vivid emotional narratives? Come on homie, Em had those in spades. Now where street anthems, I can only mostly point to guest spots, but he was killing conscious tracks and  emotional narratives. Granted, they were from a different perspective, but being socially conscious doesn't necessarily point to the uplifting of a group out of a stereotype. It can be shining a light on parts of society that occur that society may not be conscious of (1st MMLP). And as far as emotional narratives, are you gonna tell me that the shit he was spitting about his moms, his baby moms, and his daughter wasn't emotional? It may not be shit some of us ain't familiar with, but that doesn't make it an less emotional. Even when Em was coming from his strangest places, you could here he was bringing an emotion with it, even if that emotion wasn't necessarily a positive one. 2Pac set the bar for being real in his rhymes. Em met the bar and raised it, real talk. 2Pac showed what it meant to be a great MC, Eminem met that standard and then kept it moving forward.

stayfly: This is what my breakdown is. As much "emotion" as Em can write with..it is not as relatable as Pacs. I just come from where NO ONE would even consider this a match. And Em has had WAY more missteps in his career than Pac. Due to drugs or whatever. He has A LOT more throw away tracks. Now that I got satellite..I hear some whack ass tracks. Even now he has tracks that make you scratch your head. I think his potential is not fully executed..but I feel Pac used all his emcee skills..and I'm sure if alive he woulda kept on growing. When Pac died that's as close to shedding a tear I came to for an artist. Like NBA MVP voters sometimes say..you really see a players value to the game when they gone (injured mostly). And you felt Pacs lose.

Ra'Z Al Ghoul: Pac/Eminem- I think stay is right as far as the battle and Smack Dvd goes, Eminem would destroy Pac. That's his habitat and what Eminem came up in. Battling was his profession at one point at time. Em's Freestyles are ridiculous and he would rap circles around Mr.Shakur. Even now, Em's approach on songs especially a feature when he is competing puts him on "Slaughter mode", I can't think of a feature Em hasn't slayed. As far as careers, Mathers has sold. Though some albums may not be as good as some he still has a catalog to back him up. Pac has an extensive catalog as well. His influence on the culture was ridiculous. Even the young, dumb and fickle fans of Hip-Hop/Rap can quote at least 5-7 Pac tracks, Half of an album in most cases. Even caught up in this popping molly, "turn up", and "shoot this nigga" mentality, the youth still remembers and he lives on through them. Though Pac will be forever young I think Eminem still takes the victory with his versatility in lyrics AND his career.

Irish Ninja: Em's got a bunch of throwaways because Eminem has had a long enough career to have them. I getting ready to say something that I'll probably catch much shit over......Tupac had some shitty songs. Not speaking ill of the dead, every artist makes tracks, or albums, that suck. But when Pac died, shit was different for him. Everything this cat did became an automatic blueprint and anyone who said anything bad about any of it was burned at the stake. I wouldn't be surprised if there are heads out there that have Tupac in their lists and don't even know why. Ra'z hit that shit on the head with that forever young idea. When talented cats die young, it's easy to look at everything they did and recognize they had more to give. If he was still alive, I can only wonder if all the tracks people pine over know would still get attention.

stayfly: i agree. but not this case..and not for me. flip that..em gets a lot of hype bc he white (boom..race card!). he is VERY talented..but if was just another black dude..dont think hed have the success he has now. especially with the suburban demo he has. you have your one criteria..battle..who wins. for me not so much. for i rather ask..play one of these dudes at a bbq..pool party..club..whip..who is gonna connect with a wider demo? pac.

Ra'Z Al Ghoul: I agree with stay. Lol that race card is a mutha fucka. Pac would definitely get more love hands Down.

Irish Ninja: So wouldn't you say Eminem made a big impact because he showed that a white kid could hold his own and surpass many that thought he didn't belong? And if he was a black dude, I bet he'd have done just as well because you still would have had a rapper that a bunch of suburban kids could relate to. I'd even up the ante and say no matter what his skin tone was, if Em would have came out rapping about what he was rapping about, he was destined for big success anyway. It would either be a conversation like we are having now where the race card (aka the Big Joker) gets pulled in, or it would have been a conversation about this black kid rapping about what people considered white problems and how he owned where he was from. The same can't be said for Pac. if Pac was white and dropped an album called Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z., he would have been shot a lot sooner. If we are gonna keep the race card in play, then you'd have to equally admit that 2Pac was successful because he was black and rapping about the stuff he was rapping about. At a club, bbq or wherever, Pac gets more love over a wider, older, demographic. Younger demo? I think you'd have more people pulling for Em than you think.

stayfly: Not to beat the white thing..but I don't see Em being bumped at any social gathering where the majority are minorities as much as Pac..at any age demographic. Even my bro (who is 22...23?) and his large group of friends ain't really following Em like that. I think there aren't as many people pulling for Em as you think..def not over Pac (Keenan?). And we have examples of black rappers who can technically do what Em does and even rap about similar subject matter. Like a Tyler..or even a Tech N9ne..and the latter of which MANY people don't have on any top 10 list. Ems color DID have an impact on his total success bc it made more accessible. Tech is saying some shit too..but not many people are kosher with a black dude who paints his face. Or that other young rapper..who wears white contacts (forgot his name)..but they have many traits that made Em "stand out". I am gonna assume I am not having Pac and Em piss in a magic fountain and switch bodies and have them go on with their raps and compare that. IF Pac was white..and as conscious as he was..he would NEVER come out with album titles like that. He couldn't rap about the same topics bc his life would be dif. Im a fan of Mac Miller..but if he started talking about pushing keys and capping cats..joint would be chicken nugget fake. But thats my point..its Pacs life that gave him the subject matter to create these intricate themes that mean more to me. It aint Ems fault (like it isnt Kdots fault)..that Pac came up WHEN and HOW he did. Just the facts. 

Irish Ninja: I mean, you have cats doing it now, but when Eminem first started, seeing a black rapper rap about shit like that would have been more of a rarity, so I stand by that argument. I was reaching a little with the album reference; but in the same breath I think if he was white he may not have even have had the same outcome to some of the situations he faced. The race card works both ways in this one, please believe! I have to call shenanigans on the whole not as many people pulling for Em; dude is like one of the most successful rappers ever. Not successful white rapper, not successful black rapper, successful rapper. And Pac was more revolutionary than conscious. This is the same dude that made the track Hit 'Em Up and started it off screaming, " Yeah, I fucked your bitch!"

Ra'Z Al Ghoul: Another big ticket with Em and his success which goes with the race card is him NOT saying "nigga" within any of his songs adds to his success. But Stay is right. Tyler does the same exact thing Almost. He has a fan base but he still hasn't had the success like Em did.

stayflyI think he was both conscious and revolutionary with his lyrics. He had goals he wanted to achieve with his music. And being both puts him head and shoulders above most emcees. 
And yes..like most emcees..Pac has some throw away tracks. But that's bc they were boring (lyrically or production wise) or were just whack. With songs like Puke and Fack..you can't tell me Eminem had anyone to blame but himself (I could probably come up with many other tracks..Puke came from my coworker..and looked up Fack bc I just heard it the other day)..he choose the conceptual tone to take. Its like hes the M Knight Shamalan (?) of rap..he can gives us sixth sense..but his last joints had some wtf questions to it. And if MMLP2 aint come out..you cant tell me he has been getting consistently better (or staying good).
Ha. Ummm..dam Ra'z..if thats what you like..thats what you like. I do give kudos to Marshall for proving he aint THAT crazy and dropping the nbomb. I think Hopsin is the other dude I was thinking about..and there are many underground cats who have that same wit and lyrical ability that aint get NO shine. 

The Niftian: This one is difficult for me, because I'm a huge fan of both of them. Tupac had the fiery temperament to rock a crowd and still had the knowledge, street smarts and wisdom to bring it to you raw and correct in a way that would open your eyes to unsees issues. Eminem isn't anywhere near being the street poet that that Pac was, but his lyrical dexterity is unrivaled. Eminem can rock any beat, any flow, and any style with ease. Eminem can take your style and really make it fresher. It's crazy how alike these two emcees are, and yet so different. Tupac can easily defeat most emcees on the mic with his know-how, his strength of flow and his powerful attitude. This is what translated to sales and everlasting fame. Eminem is the only artist in rap history who has achieved the same status, in my opinion. The difference is not just in sales translations, but also in worldwide appeal. Some would argue (some in this thread already are) that Eminem's sales and appeal are a direct result of his race, and this may be so. But the point is that hip-hop is on a level unforeseen because of him, and he isn't another Vanilla Ice. Eminem sales because he is that damn good. He can dismantle a track and link his flows to the tiniest snare, ripping you apart with 32 bars of teeny tiny lyrical razors, or he can ride the bass and slap another emcee all over the cypher with puns and deadly metaphors. Tupac is the artist of a culture of people, and that culture (gangster rap) is coming to a close. Eminem is the artist of a lifetime. Put the two head to head in ANY type of conditions and Eminem comes out on top in every single one, with the exception of street poetry. But even then, Eminem has pressed his own stamp on the culture, with such monumental tracks like "Sta." Eminem spent the majority of his career trying to obtain Tupac status. Well, he's passed him. EDGE: Eminem

Winner: Eminem


Irish NinjaAndre 3000 vs. Nas - Oh wow, we really have to do this one, don't we? Dammit. Real talk, these are two totally different type MCs. Nas definitely has that staying power, but he has had a couple missteps like we discussed previously. Andre has his game so tight where people are just happy to hear a verse from him and I don't see as many missteps like with Nas. What that means to me is Nas would have the stamina to go for the long battle, but Andre would have the lyrical strength to end the battle before stamina even became a question. And I don't see where Nas would be able to come at 3 Stacks with any real disses that would cut deep like he did with Jay-Z and Ether. Andre would have too much ammo to hit Nas with, and would sound too fly while he was doing it. Andre moves on to the championship round.

TwonJonson: Damnit this one is tough. Both of these dudes are in the upper echelon of hip-hop's elite; some would even consider them at the very top. But someone has to lose right? Both of these artists came into the game with classic albums full of some of the most complex and clever cadences and rhymes I've ever heard in my life. And while Nas has managed to maintain a steady career, I can't help but point out the fact he is not a better rapper now than he was in 1994. Andre 3000 on the other hand did nothing but get better and better as his career went on. Back in 94 if they were to battle I would probably give it to Nas. But 20 years later they are both in two different leagues lyrically. That's not to say that Nas sucks, but look who he is up against! Stacks' flow is NUTS! I've never found myself rewinding a verse from Nas before because it went over my head, but 3000 consistently makes my fuckin head spin with the shit he spits most of the time. Andre 3000 moves on to the championship round. 

stayflyNas v Stacks: Full disclosure..as mentioned before..ima go Nasir until he loses..or wins it all. It is hard to argue that Andre Benjamin is anything less then one of the best emcees in the game today..or the last 20 years. Outkast HAS to be on everyone's top 5 hip hop groups list. We (BITM) have even been questioned as to how we can have a south bracket without Big Boi. To me this is just yet another point for Stacks. Big Boi is easily one of the greatest emcees from the south. But as in all groups..there has to be the alpha emcee. Andre was able to evolve the most out of the group..and really out of any emcee that I grew up following. He was the futuristic alien to Big Boi's funkadelic pimp. And it worked. And his greatness was even more apparent when they "split" and Stacks was on EVERYBODYS feature. No matter who else was on the track..Stacks was top billing. Of course there is no growth unless your lyrical content evolves..as well as your rapping techniques. And in both areas Andre is a lyrical chameleon. No track is impossible..and no topic is irrelevant. I know that I..and the majority of the hip hop world..can't wait for that Outkast reunion album. What can I say about Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones that I aint say yet? His catalog is unmatched. No one has a cooler flow. Nas can destroy you lyrically and still be laid pack with a cigar in one hand and a cognac in the other. I actually think that he is stronger now than ever. Now that he is past his need for commercial success..the trials and tribulations of his mother passing..a crazy baby mama..and unfortunate extremely public wedding/divorce. Mr.Jones is comfortable in his own skin (I know I used that line before..ha..and I think it was for Stacks too) and knows what he wants. He wants to do music he enjoys. So we get the grown folks Cherry Wine..the speaker on blast The Don..and the father anthem Daughters. Nas can even give us the throw back flow in his feature of the conscience vet Common's Ghetto Dreams single. Nas was able to keep his essence as an emcee intact and true for over 20 years. His lyrics are mature and his verses are eternal. When he chooses to..Nasty can hit the complex metaphors like no other. But he can do this and more while still keeping the tightest thematic structure in the game. Close your eyes and there is no sense that he leaves out. Don't believe me..peep Undying Love. Want more? How about a song that literally starts at the end and goes backwards in time in a perfect story..peep Rewind. What more can I say..he never sleeps cuz sleep is the cousin of death. NASIR JONES.  

Ra'Z Al Ghoul3 Stacks/Nas- Andre 3000 is definitely in my top 10. I love Outkast and Andre is one of the coolest rappers ever. Andre's lyrics can't be matched. He can rap to anything about damn near anything. His style on tracks and different flows have been perfected and I don't think anyone can adapt to a track like he can. Once again, his presence on a track can draw attention from everyone. Everyone wants to hear a Andre 3000 verse, and when he drops that 1 verse a year, it is most likely top 5 of the year. However, this very reason is hinders him. When will 3 Stacks dropping some material? There isnt even a verse for me to put up. He doesn't have anything current for me to go off of. Nasty Nas showed us with his "Life Is Good" release that he more than possesses the capability to make an album as potent as "Illmatic." Nas has definitely elevated through his career to get to where he has today. Nas embodies the meaning of an MC, he is "The Don." I see Nas is being as timeless and forever living as Pac is. Nas' storytelling and lyrics Is an audio book. The story telling ability and lyrics in his songs like "World's an Addiction" is why I have Nas coming out as the victor.

The Niftian: Nas is awesome. Andre 3000 is more awesome. EDGE: Andre 3000

Winner: Andre 3000





02 April 2014

Have You Heard? : acquaintance. UPDATE

   So I'm gonna take a quick breather from getting my feelings hurt in our March Madness tourney to drop some info on y'all. Remember a while back I hipped you to a nasty mash up artist by the name acquaintance? No? Well I did, go back and check the piece here. A few days after the post went up, everything just up and vanished. I told you as soon as I heard something I'd let you know what's up. Consider this a kept promise. I was fortunate enough to carry on a brief Facebook conversation with the man himself and long story short, he needed a break so he pulled everything down and chilled for a bit. He has recently started putting his previous work back up on SoundCloud and YouTube, but this time around he says the only tunes he's gonna be throwing up will be the ones he has the visuals to go along with. He went on to say that if he does make more mash ups in the future they will all have visuals to go with them. I'm not gonna lie, when he said "if" I wasn't feeling it, but he says he'll more than likely keep making music, it will just be longer between releases. This guy was dropping crazy amounts music in a short time frame so I can definitely dig that.

     And there it is. Like I said last time, you need to get familiar with acquaintance. This dude is the truth. Follow him on Soundcloud, like him on Facebook, and peep the visuals on YouTube. This is like a second chance for those of you that missed him the last time. Consider yourself updated.

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