30 July 2015

VIDEO: Mysonne - What's Going On?

There are many pillars to the hip hop foundation. And right now the battle rap or "beef" side is getting top billing. Really the whole Ghostface vs Action Bronson drama is not even worth labeling a beef because no pens are touching paper. And the Drake vs Meek Mill joint would take an entire separate article to vent my reaction. But an aspect of hip hop that I feel gets little to no shine is the social commentary element. From Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's The Message (1982) to Kendrick Lamar's Alright (2015), hip hop has had the power to bring attention to social issues on a greater scale. J Cole's Be Free was a tribute to Michael Brown but also addressed the duality of fearing for ones life from those who have been charged to protect it. A lesser known emcee recently dropped a music video to his Marvin Gaye inspired track, What's Going On?

Bronx emcee Mysonne has been in the game since the late 90s but achieved some notoriety in the mid 00s. He teamed up with the Justice League (no not that one) to march from New York to DC this past April. Mysonne is in New York, but he seems a little to layered to be marching in April. But it is possible that the video was taken from the start of the MARCH2JUSTICE.

Since I've seen this video there has been another person who died in police custody and new police camera footage of another police officer shooting another person in the head. So while the subject matter is depressing and horrifying, it is good to see hip hop use it's reach to keep these issues in the forefront and hopefully start the healing process.

Peep video for Mysonne's track below, as well as original track he sampled from Marvin Gaye.


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25 July 2015

AUDIO: Drake - Charged Up (Meek Mill Diss)

Most fans of the hip-hop know that there has been a recent shake in the culture with the re-occurring "beefs" between artists but no one is dropping tracks. In a competitive field like the rap game, it's a must. Meek Mill and Drake has been the headlines as two of the biggest artists in the game right now. Meek Mill took to twitter stating that Drake does not write his own raps and that his ghostwriter wrote the featured verse on his album for the song titled "R.I.C.O." Instead of addressing his discrepancy with Drake personally, he took to twitter during the VMA's. Drake on the other hand, even with his past of not necessarily handling all his issues on wax, he does this time. Perhaps other rappers can learn from Drake's move and actually you know, rap? Meek Mill's initial response to Drake's track was to tweet. Is it safe to say we can chalk this up as an "L" for him in this "beef" since he would rather tweet than rap? Hopefully he responds soon. Check out "Charged Up" below.

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24 July 2015

SINGLE: Janet Jackson ft. J. Cole - No Sleeep

(first thoughts when discovering Janet finally dropped a new song)
"Aw man...my baby's back." 

(after hearing the first few seconds)

(I think I just destroyed my apartment)

Words cannot describe what I just did to my apartment. Might need some furniture and some new walls. Take that how you will, but just know that I love me some Janet Jackson, good LAWD! You're always pulling for an artist that you grew up on thinking that they'll never fall off, even though you know it's inevitable. Once they've left their mark, you hope they find that spark again that made you fall in love with their music, even if it's just for moment. After Janet's reemergence during this year's BET Awards, I wondered how long it would take for Ms. Jackson to bless us with another taste...and more importantly, would the song actually be GOOD? She's stumbled to make an impact with several upbeat dance tunes over the past 10-15 years but it's been awhile since we've gotten a true classic angelic ballad from her, because let's be real, that's why we love her. In 2008, even though the moment was fleeting, she found that spark again with "Can't B Good," which captured that vibe we had been missing, but no one heard it. The current state of R&B has me wondering if this song will suffer the same fate, but make no mistake that "No Sleeep" is the Janet Jackson we have been missing. Man...just listen to how she says "Cole World." Fckin J. Cole you lucky MFer...
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23 July 2015

REVIEW: Skyzoo - Music For My Friends

Last month Skyzoo dropped his third solo LP, Music For My Friends. Once again Sky weaves intricate reflective narratives, but this time he give us his perspective through the eyes of a young teen. The 15 track (16 if you get it with the bonus single, Falling out the Sky) LP is packed with damn near a different producer per track. Despite the ratio of tracks to producers, the album does not suffer from a disjointed identity. As a whole, the sounds and themes flow effortlessly from one track to the next. Sky also sticks to his formula of not having too many features (or actually featuring more singers than emcees). For this project Skyzoo taps Westside Gunn, Jadakiss, Black Thought and  Skarr Akbar for help with emcee duties. He even scatters voice overs of his friends throughout the album.

The intro (All Day, Always) begins with a young boy welcoming the listener to the album. But the track that made me hit repeat first (multiple times) was Money Makes Us Happy featuring Black Thought and Bilal. The Rvlt produced track (I was not able to find ANY info on the producer, so if uall know who it is let us know) sets a soulful/jazzy foundation of steady drums, pianos and a mixture of other electronic instruments. The "young" Skyzoo is talking to an older Black Thought and telling him what he has learned so far. Money is happiness and he is going to do whatever it takes to get it and keep it. His aspirations are to surround himself with material wealth even if there are physical consequences, "It was money and it was cars and it was habits to keeping both/ It was hundreds and it was scars and they just happened to be close." Black Thought tries to guide the young emcee by telling him that money can change you into someone who you don't recognized and hate. As someone who has had success, Black Thought reflects on how money has caused more problems than solutions, "We want more but need less, desires and requests/ I guess moving constantly at this rapid speed just/ Effected my velocity, then the evil got to me/ And strangely, it [messed] around and changed my philosophy." Before the last hook, Bilal bridges the verse with, "Money/ No surrender now and no restraints/ No complaints/ Lord knows the price will only raise." The last line sums up Sky's message in the track. Money might buy you happiness, but the price will always go up.

Skyzoo has proven time and time again that he is an upper echelon emcee. The Brooklyn artist meticulously curates poetic sagas with a masterful flow. Yes, he can give you a drum and base heavy banger like Suicide Doors (which still is just as strong lyrically), but I feel he truly shines when he gives us genuine introspective rhymes. With Music For My Friends, Skyzoo paints the all to common picture of young kids who are obsessed with mimicking the lifestyle of rappers, athletes or dealers. When you have so much life in front of you, time is not as important. But Sky knows that many lose time that they will never get back. In the end it is all about perspective. Unfortunately money is essential for many things, but the means matter just as much as the ends. A great emcee is able to highlight specific social and individual subjects to spark a conversation. I guarantee that every time you hit replay, you will hear something new. I got my album for the rest of the summer, uall should pick it up and do the same.

Peep Luxury music video below. And album stream!

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21 July 2015

VIDEO: Blu - The Return

Blu recently put some visuals to his single, The Return. The track is off of his seventh LP, Good to Be Home, which dropped in 2014. And while he hasn't been able to recreate the magic of his first solo studio album, Below the Heavens in 07, Blu seems to be back to form with this project. Admittedly this is on that slipped threw the cracks for me. I've heard a couple of tracks (including this one), and if the rest of album stays on par with the production and lyrical level of this single, then Blu got another one here. Below the Heavens paired the LA emcee with his west coast peer Exile. For Good to Be Home, Blu uses the same recipe for success and lets another Cali producer take the reigns of the LP. This time going with Bombay. I don't know his pedigree as much as I would like, but the young beat maker def has my attention.

The instrumental samples The Moments' When the Morning Comes. It is a very soulful track the uses the vocals as instruments, as well as extra layers created by Bombay. The video has a low key west coast vibe to it. With a very layed back Blu spitting a smooth flow as he posts at a corner store and drives around the block. As I mentioned before, if the rest of the album keeps the style and formula as The Return, Good to Be Home deserves a spin from all hip hop heads.

Peep video below, and the original track for When the Morning Comes.

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05 July 2015

SINGLE: Jay Rock - Gumbo

A day ago Jay Rock presented us with the smooth hood anthem "Gumbo," as the world eagerly awaits the release of his sophomore album, which will be his first as a pure TDE artist. Top Dawg's OG has been sprinkling the game wtih reminders here and there that he is still the hungriest in the crew. It's been four years since his Strange Music debut Follow Me Home, and since then we've been getting singles here and there the likes of "YOLA," "Parental Advisory," and more recently the sequel to his good kid m.A.A.d. city collab "Money Trees Deuce." It's anyone's guess when we will get another full project from Jay Rock, much like that other Jay...and that other Jay. But in the meantime we can still enjoy a semi-steady release of hood bangers that are actually saying something uplifting and intelligible, instead of your average surface-level "came-from-nothin-now-look-what-I-got" dumbo trash. Weak Mill, time to pull out that iPhone that you used to read written verses off Sway in the Morning and use it for something constructive. Start taking notes motherfucker.

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01 July 2015

VIDEO: Kendrick Lamar - Alright

King Kendrick is enjoying life after notching another classic under his belt. And we now have the final music video from the To Pimp a Butterfly album (we assume it is the last music video because the norm is three music videos per album). His third single, The Blacker the Berry has had many "official videos" made, but none with the TDE stamp. So it is possible we might still get that. With the singles i and King Kunta, Kendrick has had an underlying theme of unity. In i, even though a fight is about to break out, Kdot does not let it manifest. Instead he takes to the streets and runs with the people through neighborhoods. In King Kunta, Kdot evokes a block party vibe and shows people coming together to celebrate his success. But as we know, the album itself has strong metaphors addressing social/racial inequality and injustice. With the news being flooded with police brutality, it was only a mater of time before Kendrick put his two cents into the conversation. Enter Alright. Before the actual "song" even starts, the video is full of images of violence, intolerance and police brutality. The black and white video has the normal hip hop motifs, Kdot in a crowd of people, fast cars, money, dancing and even a few video vixens sprinkled throughout. But these frames are cut with Kendrick Lamar floating through the streets. Since he has said that being a role model is something he takes seriously, it is safe to say that this is a visual representation of Kendrick being someone who we can look up to. There are scenes where Kdot is rapping on street light posts and people are literally looking up towards him. The videos ends with a police officer "shooting" him down. But even though this moment in history is showing us the worst of society, "we gon' be alright".

Peep the Alright video below, and the music videos to i and King Kunta above (as well as our TBaP review).

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