Friday, November 30, 2007
Even though I'm so heated I might have lost my iPod shuffle last night, I gotta give a shout to my homie Lowkey for this link for the preview to Mood Muzik 3 on HipHopDX, which features reporting from Lowkey as well.
Mood Muzik 3 Listening Party Preview
Also, the third installment of the series from Cinnci, Ohio producer Hi-Tek leaked, entitled Hi-Teknology 3. I haven't listened to much of it since this paper is consuming my life and I can only listen to jazz or anything without vocals when I do my class work, but I'm excited just to hear the beats. Though the track list looks iffy on this one, I won't judge a book by it's cover. Enjoy the clip featuring the boys from LB.
Hi-Tek ft. Little Brother & Dion - Step Ya Game Up Remix
[let me just make this statement loud and clear, jersey's here]
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Nas chopped it up with MTV News about details for his new, controversial album Nigger. Read the article here.
A couple things he said that caught my attention:
"It's not an attack on white people at all. It's knowledge; it's understanding for all people. It's not an attack on any race."
This is good to hear.
"It's about the attacks that have happened to blacks, whites, all ethnicities. 'Mick' niggers, 'guinea' niggers, 'kike' niggers. I have a song called 'You a Nigger Too.' "
I guess Nas, you's a guinea too! He should make this the first single and see what happens.
[half man, half amazin']
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Wu-Tang Clansman Ghostface Killah a.k.a. Tony Starks revives on his latest, The Big Doe Rehab. Equipped with speedy rhymes and Ghost's spastic storytelling, heads fiend for hip-hop like this. Here's two of my picks:
Ghostface ft. Shawn Wigs - White Linen Affair (Toney Awards)
Ghostface ft. Kid Capri - We Celebrate ( I know it's old, but it's ill)
Snoop Dogg - Sensual Seduction Video
I thought this song was called "Sexual Eruption," must be the edited one here. Either way, Snoop is my dude, 'nuff said. Even with that vocoder voice.
[i just wanna celebrate]
The streets is lovin' it! Well, the digital blocks at least since Styles P's latest Super Gangster: Extraordinary Gentlemen leaked. I always liked checking Styles' new material because he blends 'hood toughness with introspective content, and this LP here is no different. The theme underlying Super Gangster: Extraordinary Gentlemen is that of pain. Styles makes constant references to the everyday struggle and how he's coping - roll something up so you can just blow ya mind to this one!
Styles P - Alone In The Streets
Styles P ft. Alchemist - All I Know Is Pain
[lighters in the air]
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Download Link: Mick Boogie & Busta Rhymes - Dillagence
Big ups to Mick Boogie for this idea right here - A mixtape full of J Dilla. beats, what more could you want? Busta hops on a bunch of these tracks and it also features Talib Kweli, MOP, Raekwon, Cassidy among others. If you want to buy the collector's edition, visit here.
This reminds me of the tribute article I wrote for the Inside Beat when I heard Dilla passed. I had to post this since his beats are flowin' through my ears:
As a collection of interacting artists and fans, the hip-hop music community rests its laurels on creativity, expression, and individuality. It is not often that a member of this community can embody all of these traits while remaining grounded in a foundation of humility.
Then again, it is not often that hip-hop sees an artist like Jay Dee, the creator of Slum Village whose resumé boasts collaborations with esteemed acts such as A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, De La Soul, Common, and the Pharcyde.
Even less frequently is it forced to say goodbye to one of its most-respected members whose life ended prematurely, well before he could gain the mainstream recognition he deserved.
In a tragic event that resonated a feeling of mourning throughout the community, the quiet producer and MC Jay Dee, also known as J Dilla, died of kidney complications from lupus on Friday, February 10 at the age of 32.
As a dark cloud looms over hip-hop heads everywhere, it seems appropriate to reflect on and celebrate the life of J Dilla, who was idolized by Pharell Williams and drummer ?uestlove from The Roots, in hopes that both his musical talent and modest approach to hip-hop music can influence generations to come.
J Dilla, born James Yancey, began soaking up urban music at a young age from his parents' home in eastern Detroit. After trying his hand at numerous instruments, he discovered a strong connection to the drums that led to experiments in hip-hop production using an MPC drum machine.
In 1988, J Dilla formed the group Slum Village with high school friends Baatin and T3.
Dilla was crafting a unique style throughout the 1990s - his clear-cut, breakbeat sound that was heavily influenced by R&B, soul, and rock music combined unpredictable drum patterns and carefully-arranged samples. His talent caught the attention of Q-Tip, a member of A Tribe Called Quest, who invited J Dilla to work with him and Ali Shaheed Muhammed on Tribe's production crew "the Ummah" for two albums.
J Dilla's career was in full swing with a collection of projects under his belt, including Common's album Like Water For Chocolate, De La Soul's hit "Stakes Is High" and the Pharcyde's single "Running," in addition to his efforts on Slum Village releases. His reputation as one of the industry's hardest-working producers was growing; he produced all of Q-Tip's Amplified, collaborated with Erykah Badu on Mama's Gun, and worked on Talib Kweli's Quality.
In 2001, J Dilla embarked on a solo career on top of his industry-wide production labors, providing the vocals as well as the sonic background for his debut album Welcome to Detroit. He broke away from Slum Village to pursue a major label release on MCA, but his album was never completed. Instead, his focus turned to an independent record label project with underground beat-maker Madlib in 2002. The two, collectively known as Jaylib, released the experimental Champion Sound in 2003, which received praise from many independent music fans.
Around this time, rumors began circulating that J Dilla was suffering from health problems due to an inadequate appetite and overworking. His output slowed tremendously as he was diagnosed with lupus; ironically, the tenacious work ethic that defined him as an artist would lead to periods of hospitalization, confinement to a wheelchair, and reliance on a dialysis machine.
Still, J Dilla continued his production work and performances despite his ailments, providing two beats for Common's highly-anticipated 2005 album B.E. and one for Ghostface's upcoming album Fishscale. His second solo album Donuts, a compelling collection of instrumentals created during his time in the hospital, was released on February 7, his 32nd birthday, less than a week before kidney failure would ultimately claim his life.
In retrospect, it is heartbreaking that J Dilla's untimely death originated as a result of his dedication to his craft of making music. In the overly-commercialized hip-hop industry of today that, unfortunately, rewards flamboyant artistry more than actual musical brilliance, J Dilla was an unsung gem that offered effort behind-the-scenes without demanding the recognition of mainstream success.
It is at times like this, when the hip-hop community mourns the death of an artist that passionately offered all his energy to creating music without worrying about widespread fame or fortune, that all music-lovers must remember the true reason we call ourselves fans: the feeling we experience when listening to good music.
J Dilla touched this area of the human brain; it lies somewhere in the subconscious, where nothing else matters except for melodies and the rhythmic pounding of drums.
R.I.P. Jay Dee a.k.a J Dilla.
I'll be enjoying this one while I write one of my two papers this week, damn.
[i still love h.e.r.]
My review in this Thursday's Inside Beat, shouts to everyone at RU!
Freeway - Free At Last
With luminaries like Jay-Z and Kanye West highlighting the Roc-A-Fella roster, Freeway’s ability is often overshadowed. While the Philly MC and Sunni Muslim might never be a megastar – blame his grizzly appearance or grainy voice – his vocal acrobatics and high level of intensity make Free At Last a sufficient fix for street rap addicts.
Released as the second album in Roc-A-Fella’s holiday sales push, the production is first-rate on Free At Last. Executive produced by moguls Jay-Z and 50 Cent, Free At Last features soulful loops and rugged street rhythms prepared specifically for Freeway’s animated rhymes.
“Spit That Shit” sports West Coast piano chords as Freeway addresses the haters with his staggered rhyme scheme and Miami rapper Rick Ross hops on “Lights Get Low,” a hyped-up anthem produced by Cool & Dre where Freeway explains his brief hiatus since 2003’s Philadelphia Freeway.
A forceful vocal sample provided by Bink drives Free’s trip down memory lane on “When They Remember” while “Baby Don’t Do It” featuring Southern heavyweight Scarface puts a new spin on an oldie.
It’s not easy to take Free At Last as a whole, though. The soft sing-song of 50 Cent and pristine J.R. Rotem instrumental on “Take It To The Top” plus Freeway’s easily-forgettable rants on “Nuttin’ On Me” among others could have been cut.
Now, Freeway admits he’s not the smartest rapper alive – recall his “slightly-retarded” self reference in Kanye’s “Two Words” – but he could put up a fight for the toughest and most motivated.
Whether exchanging flows with Jay-Z on “Roc-A-Fella Billionaires” or expressing personal moments of pain on “I Cry,” Free At Last proves that Freeway lives and dies by his rugged demeanor.
Lil' Wayne & Juelz Santana - Always Strapped
Shouts to LowKey at YouHeardThatNew.Com for this one. Around the Carter II and up to the Drought 3, I considered Wayne the most improved rapper of the last decade. Then he became over-saturated (partly thanks to the media), lazy and sometimes boring, puting out material every 15 minutes. He might be more focused now after hearing "Gossip," "Brand New," and this one with Dipset rep Juelz Santana.
Lil' Weezyana has had his ups and downs, but this one here is pretty fire (which also happens to be the subject of the track, fiyaaa!). Buzz for the duo's collabo album Can't Feel My Face faded a little and, personally, I don't think it's going to come out until after Carter III in February.
Speaking of the February, Nas recently told MTV that he's moving the release date for Nigger back two months, dropping it conveniently during Black History Month. Also, the snippet circulating the 'Net titled "What It Is" apparently won't be on the album and Nas claims to never have rhymed over that beat.
Now, I've commented before that Nas is trying to build hype for his album but I'm beginning to understand he might have some genuine intentions. I mean, I never use the word but I've been forced to use it and it's not in a malicious manner. Plus, why not push it back and make it a quality album, right? We'll see, I gotta get to class so I'm ghost.
[money over honey, the only motto i know]
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Big ups to my boy Maurice at Maurice Knows Everything for this link. I couldn't help but crack up out loud at some of these, check it if you got a second and need a good laugh. Below are a couple blasts from the past inspired by the graphs.
Dust Off the Crates: Hits from the Past - 2nd Edition
Souls of Mischief - '93 Til Infinity
Here's the title track off Oakland, CA collective Souls of Mischief debut 93 'Til Infinity - some smooth, relaxing West Coasters.
Notorious B.I.G. & Tupac - "Freestyle"
This classic improv performance from Biggie Smalls and 'Pac is from '94 at Madison Square Garden.
Raekwon - "Knowledge God," Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
How 'bout this for a rap equation: the odds of Cuban Linx 2 dropping in '07 = slim to none
[do the knowledge, God]
What an ending to a crazy weekend of food, drink and 3 official albums! My people over at ItsBX hooked it up proper with Beanie Sigel's The Solution retail leak. After a first listen, the Broadstreet Bully seems rugged as usual and the album covers topics from Sig's spirituality to partyin' n' poppin' bottles.
Right now, I'm working on my personal reviews for these and others that came out before the holiday - I'll be posting some of them before I go to sleep tonight. In the meantime, vibe to two exclusive tracks from The Solution and one of my favorite jams off 8 Diagrams.
Beanie Sigel - Hustlaz, Haze & Highways
Beanie Sigel ft. James Blunt - Dear Self
Wu-Tang Clan ft. Sunny Valentine - Gun Will Go
[keep movin' for papes,
keep cool, keep doin what you doin'
keep it fly, keep me in the crates]
Saturday, November 24, 2007
This video of Kanye performing "Hey Mama," one of his most emotional tracks, literally brought tears to my eyes - just watch. Props to my boy LowKey for this one, thanks homes.
So what does [dom corleone] have planned for his Saturday? I'll be listening to that Carnival II that I started last night but also the retail 8 Diagrams just leaked (shouts to ItsBX!). I think these two right here, not to mention Ghostface & Styles P new ones that should pop up on the 'Net soon, should distract me enough from my class work I've been neglecting since last Wed.
Here is a new one in the Dead Presidents series from the Jigga man (he will never retire from music) and a heater off Wu-Tang's CD since I'll be outside for a lil' bit and the sun is shining in Jersey.
Jay-Z - Dead Presidents Part 3
Wu-Tang Clan - Sunlight
[out for presidents to represent me]
Friday, November 23, 2007
Finally got my hands on the leaked version of 'Clef's latest CD, the highly-anticipated second installment in his Carnival series. Since I consider the first as one of the best albums to come out in the past decade, I'm pumped to hear what tricks the versatile singer/songwriter/producer/musician has up his sleeve. Before I dip out, I'll offer a lil' taste.
Wyclef - Heaven's In New York
[anything can happen]
I'm all inside a dark room, my incense smoke
Took the form of a ghost and it spoke
It said, "Nas, you the best on both coasts"
-Nas, "What It Is," Nigger
Nas is making it real tough for a white-boy music writer to even talk about his new album without offending anyone. When it was originally announced, the title was Nigga and I viewed 'Esco as an attention whore that falls into the same trap of "gimmick" rap that he blamed for rap's downfall on last year's Hip Hop Is Dead. When he changed it to Nigger, I thought for sure one of my favorite MC's had lost his damn mind this time.
I understand what Nasty Nas is trying to do here - the word is so powerful that he hopes this will desensitize all of us to its use. But, does he really think he has the influence to cause such a drastic change in society? I'd love to think the hip-hop community has such pull in America but that's not the reality. Though today's commercial music biz has embraced urban genres, mainstream citizens are naive to the stirrings within rap.
My thing is, I don't like when artists try to be more than they are. Social commentary is one thing, but radical social change caused by one album is another. I hope Nas' controversial title can prove me wrong, but I stick by my opinion here until that happens.
The snippet is fire, by the way. Can't wait to hear the full song, that piano is killer. Until next time.
[can't nobody hold me down]
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Don't try to hide, haters. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for what you have and those that help you throughout your life. So, all you turkeys better be thankful for [dom corleone] bringing this new Wu-Tang exclusive from 8 Diagrams (shouts to Nah Right) and a Saigon banger from the mixtape I uploaded the other day.
Saigon - "South, The West, The East Coast"
Wu-Tang Clan - "Starter"
Peace to all the pilgrims and Native Americans, too. See y'all tomorrow.
[nothin's gonna stop us, no no]
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Shouts to We Ready on ItsBx.Com for this rip, this is a promotional mix-tape precluding his debut album The Greatet Story Never Told.
Saigon - The Moral of the Story
1. Come On Baby (Remix) (Feat. Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz) (4:05)
2. What A Life (Feat. Tre Williams) (3:43)
3. South, The West, The East Coast (2:52)
4. Saigon Meets Just Blaze (2:11)
5. Get Mine And Go (3:04)
6. Wake Up (3:26)
7. In A Mess (4:08)
8. I Know (3:02)
9. Homegirl (Feat. Al B. Sure) (3:59)
10. Who Can Get Busy (Feat. Grand Puba) (1:53)
11. Anybody Can Get It (3:53)
12. How We Get Down (2:37)
13. Ryders (Da Ville To Da Stuy) (Feat. Memphis Bleek) (3:12)
14. Wanna Know (Feat. Obie Trice) (3:53)
15. Rap And Bullshit Pt. 2 (1:36)
16. Reason, Season, Lifetime (Feat. Jovan Dais) (3:21)
17. Just Blaze Speaks (1:09)
It's good to see videos like this. Though many criticize Kanye as cocky and egomaniacal (it's a word, Webster), the Windy City superstar shows here that celebrities too can be grounded and impacted tremendously when something happens to a family member/close friend. Stay strong, 'Ye.
Talib Kweli Brings in New Recruits for Remix
Talib Kweli ft. Jean Grae, Ne-Yo, & Luther Vandross - Hot Thing Remix
The Blacksmith movement is in full effect. Furious female lyricist Jean Grae, R&B vocalist Ne-Yo and the late Luther Vandross (R.I.P.) hop on a new beat to give a different perspective to the single off Kweli's Eardrum, which I'll argue is in the top 5 hip-hop albums of '07.
Beanie Sigel's Got The Solution
Beanie Sigel - The Solution
- “Creep Low”
- “Bout That”
- “All the Above” (ft. R. Kelly)
- “Hail Mary”
- “Bang Bang”
- “You Ain’t Ready”
- “ROC Anthem”
- “Judgement Day”
- “Pain” (ft. Raheem & Scarface)
[one good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain]
Before I head out to the barber to get fresh, I had to post the untagged version of Outkast's new track that I blessed you with yesterday..
DJ Drama ft. Outkast & Marsha Ambrosius - The Art of Storytellin' Pt. 4
[the sky is the limit]
See, I got this idea. I think it's my duty to bring you constant updates, when I can, of some dope music and interesting news surrounding music culture. That's why you need to check it on a regular basis and click on my ads on the bottom while you're here (it takes barely any time and you can X out right after)! I'll still post reviews on the journalism tip but I want to stay grinding to help you get the proper hits from this blog.
Shouts to LowKey at You Heard That New, Ivan at Hip-Hop Is Read, Nah Right, Michael at Fifteen Minutes To Live, Oh Word, Ill Roots, etc.. I'm the newcomer in this blog game and I appreciate your updates.
Saigon's New Song, Bloggin' & Buggin' at Joe Budden
Saigon - "Wake Up," Moral Of The Story
Here's Saigiddy's newest track, the typical deep single I'd expect from a dude who's been through all that this Brooklyn/Mooseknuckle (say what?!), NY MC has. And for those that didn't know, Saigon's been voicing his opinion on his blog regarding Joe Budden's one-liner referencing his punkin' of Prodigy of Mobb Deep. The Yardfather needs to realize it was wordplay and keep his music movin'.
Styles P Suffers From DeJa Vu
Styles P ft. Black Thought - Cause I'm Black, Super Gangster: Extraordinary Gentlemen
Didn't LOX rep Styles P already make a song about the struggles of his skin color? Seems like Pinero is suffering from deja vu, but I like this one better than the one with that Floetry chick especially 'cuz Roots lead MC Black Thought spits real tough.
Dust Off the Crates: Hits from the Past - 1st Edition
I had to post this after watching the movie recently. Denzel does the damn thing there while Chuck D and Flava Flav drop some knowledge God over a craftily-placed sample from Buffalo Springfield's 1967 hit "For What It's Worth." Yeaaa Boyyyy!
Public Enemy - He Got Game, He Got Game Movie Soundtrack
Y'all Know The Rules: Stay Cool
The Roots - Y'all Know Who, Okayplayer: True Notes Vol. 1
I had to finish up with a slept-on jam from hip-hop's legendary Roots Crew. This fast-paced bass-thumping blitz is off 2004's Okayplayer: True Notes Vol. 1 which my homie DJ J Past put me onto recently. Even I over-looked this ill collection so grab it here if you missed it, too.
[i'm ghost, peace and much love]
My wandering got my ass wondering
Where Christ is in all this crisis
-Chuck D, Public Enemy - "He Got Game," He Got Game Movie Soundtrack
Monday, November 19, 2007
She said, "Why in the club, you don't make it precipitate
You know, make it rain when you can make it thunderstorm?"
I'm like, why? The world needs sun, the hood needs funds
There's a war goin' on and half the battle is guns
How dare I throw it on the floor when people are poor?
So i write like Edgar Allen to restore
This old lady told me if I ain't got nothin' good, say nathan
That's why I don't talk much
I swear it don't cost much
To pay attention to me
I tell it like it is then i tell it like it could be
-Andre 3000, "Art of Storytellin' Part 4," DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz: The Album
This one came outta nowhere - I had no idea Outkast was blessing DJ Drama's new album with a heater but here it is. Andre 3000 goes bonkers on this one, proving why he is in my top 5 (hi haters). Hopefully, he's over his soft, sing-song Idlewild self and continues to provide quality Southern-fried goodness. Big Boi doesn't slouch here either - is anyone else thinking they'd love to hear a new Outkast album amidst all the one-hit wonders and gimmicks? Yezzur!
Now, I love feel-good music. You know, the type of jams that you can relax to. This track right here is a new Pharrell/Clipse collab. It's good to see the Thornton bros and Skateboard P can still make songs together despite the label issues. Don't know if the Neptunes made this beat or not but I'm looking forward to hearing these two complex, coke-rap connoisseurs in '08.
[Never stop, the coupe's callin', the roofs fallin'
The levees broke, I flooded blocks like New Orleans]
-Pusha T, Pharell ft. Clipse - "Cheers," DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz: The Album
Monday, November 12, 2007
(Norman Mailer, courtesy of the Academy of Achievement)
We don’t know the end—we could end with the failure of the good. Because if the good is guaranteed to win at the end, then we are engaged in a wrestling match, a fixed one. If goodness is assured an ultimate victory over evil, we are in a comedy, and I must say it is an ugly farce, considering how we suffer in the course of the contest.
-"A Conversation Between Norman Mailer and Michael Lennon on God, the Devil and Spiritual Beliefs," New York Magazine, October 15, 2007
It's difficult to face one's own mortality, especially when every day it seems like people can be gone in an instant. Today, I write about two sad stories that remind me how fragile life is.
First, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer & co-creator of the Village Voice Norman Mailer passed away this Saturday. Mailer was renowned (and widely criticized) for his written contributions to the New Journalism movement and blending of reporting practicies with fictional depictions of characters, a controversial literary technique at the time. His famous works include 1979's The Executioner's Song and non-fiction essays like The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster.
The other tragic story is that of Kanye West's mother, Dr. Donda West. She was also his manager and my heart goes out to his family in this time.
Life must go on, so I want to talk about what I'm doing tomorrow. You can catch me at the Filmore at Irving Plaza in NYC getting a sneak peak at Katt Williams' new movie American Hustle. I'm crazy excited for this and to see if Money Mike makes an appearance. Check out an extended clip here and support the most luxurious entertainers in America.
The last thing I wanted to share is news that Jadakiss *cues that laugh* is now officially a member of the Roc la Familia. At the Hammerstein Ballroom last night, Jay-Z cut his new single "Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)" to bring out his newest rep. DJ Green Lantern cues "It's All About The Benjamins" but Jada starts buggin' that it's "Puff's song" then claims he can't remember the words on the spot to one of his biggest hits "The Champ Is Here." What was your last big single, 'Kiss, and I'm not talkin' a feature like the remix to "Wall to Wall." Interesting choice, Jigga - can't wait to see how this one plays out.
I'll leave you with the video to Jada's screw up last night..
Hey mama, I wanna scream so loud for you
Let me tell you what I'm about to do
Hey mama, I know I act a fool
But I promise you, I'm going back to school
I appreciate what you allowed for me
I just want you to be proud of me
-Kanye West, "Hey Mama," Late Registration
Thursday, November 8, 2007
When you're falling and you can't get up
All you do is push up, pull up and sit up
-Jay-Z, "Fallin'," American Gangster
Yea, I'm steppin' my blog game up with the video exclusive and reviews. First check out that Styles P & Swizzy video up top. Then, the day has finally come, I can't conceal my opinion on Jay's album any longer. Here is my review:
Grade: 3 ½ / 5
Though the popular Brooklyn-bred rapper and current CEO/President of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella Records can relate his life to the 1970s Harlem heroin boss Frank Lucas depicted in the movie, Jay needs to realize his drug dealing days are long gone in the time of his tenth release American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella Records).
Jay also attempts to prove that the “30 Something” from last year’s Kingdom Come that “partied with nice girls” and “used to play the block, but now he’s all grown up” is back to his street roots – nice try. In ‘06, he was a commercial thug. Now, the Jigga man has returned to regulating the block? Please, maybe the air is too thin where his desk sits atop Def Jam that he can’t think straight.
In Jay’s defense, the concept of American Gangster is he is reminiscing of the hustling days of his past by paralleling his experience with that of Lucas. It’s easier to take his rhymes seriously this way than it is to picture him today scuffing his chancletas on a curb in Marcy projects pitching dime bags.
The album is full of Hova’s familiar lyrical wittiness and charm on the mic, but he sounds softer than usual and rambles at times. A majority of the production here is handled by Diddy, who churned out six beats for the project. Just Blaze, No-ID, and The Neptunes bless two each while Toomp and Jermaine Dupri round out the musical backdrop.
American Gangster is a notch above mediocre not because its tracks are all average, but because songs are either exceptional or absolutely agonizing. From the introspective, spiritual high of “Pray” to the awful, unoriginal low of “Party Life,” the CD is hit-or-miss.
Jay recycles an old concept with a fresh spin on the JD-produced “Fallin’,” where he raps “The irony of sellin’ drugs is sort of like you’re using it/ I guess there’s two sides to what substance abuse is.”
The infectious horns compliments of Diddy on “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)” let Jay show his gratitude while No-ID’s wild organs on “Success,” Jay’s second collaboration with Nas, allow the MCs to voice their views on accomplishment.
Jay gets real over Toomp’s Godfather strings on “Say Hello,” rapping “If Al Sharpton is speakin’ for me/ Somebody get him the word and tell him I don’t approve/ Tell him I’ll remove the curses if he tell me our schools don’t be perfect/ When Jena 6 don’t exist, tell him that’s when I’ll stop sayin’ bitch, bitch!” His use of double-entendre and complex wordplay throughout is also notable.
Still, every track is not as impressive. “No Hook” is a no-frills exercise in lyricism and “Ignorant Shit” with Beanie Sigel is a satirical tribute to today’s rap gimmicks – but both are held back by Jay’s exaggerated cockiness.
His holier-than-thou sentiment with constant references to gangster idolatry instead of rapper comparisons – “I’m more Frank Lucas than Ludacris” and “Scarface the movie did more than Scarface the rapper to me” – gets played out quickly.
Despite a well-placed Marvin Gaye sample flipped by Diddy on “American Dreamin’” and the synthy bounce of
Jay-Z’s rags-to-riches story on American Gangster is in a similar vein of his late, great friend of Notorious B.I.G.’s work but can not be compared to classics like Life After Death or even the Jigga man’s previous effort in Reasonable Doubt due to a lack of consistency and haphazard track quality.---------------------------------------
If it's long, too bad. I had to analyze one of our generation's legendary MC's at a different level. I've also read that Jay could achieve his 10th number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 here and that Hov' is behind only Kanye and Fitty for first-day sales.
Round 2, begin:
Grade: 3 / 5
Philly MC Cassidy has been through a lot personally in the two years since I’m A Hustla, from serving eight months in jail for involuntary manslaughter to surviving a car crash. His new effort B.A.R.S.: The Barry Adrian Reese Story on RCA/ Full Surface Records is his most personal album to date but suffers from a generic sound and outwardly false statements that get in the way of the overall message.
Refusing to be confined as a battle rapper with hard-hitting one-liners, Cassidy reaches to Swizz Beatz, Hi-Tek, Neo Da Matrix, and Don Cannon for instrumentals to let him vent on topics ranging from the standard materialism of “money, cash, hoes” to captivating narratives about religion and the justice system.
Lead single “My Drink & My 2 Step” featuring Swizz Beatz is a catchy welcome back party for the 25-year old rapper while John Legend’s silky vocals blend with Cass’ new swagger on “Celebrate” as he assures “Get the obituary ready, get the reverend/ My old style died and went to punch line Heaven.”
Cassidy adopts a speedy delivery on “Cash Rulez” featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Eve, snapping upper vertebrae in his path. The MC even shows versatility by taking a seat behind the mixing boards and sampler, self-producing the loner anthem “Me, Myself and I.”
One theme of B.A.R.S. is Cassidy’s experimentation with his softer side on “Done 4 Me” and “Leanin’ On The Lord” featuring Angie Stone, where he speaks on his faith and beliefs in light of his murder charges and near-death car crash. On the former, he raps “God is good, God is great/ There’s a reason that I’m breathin’ and it’s gotta be faith/ And I’m thankful that I’m eatin’, there’s a lot on my plate/ If the Lord wasn’t watchin’, I’d be rottin’ upstate.” Pass Cassidy some Kleenex, por favor.
The CD’s downfall is that Cassidy tries to be more than what he is, and fails. His random rants show that he’s no Martin Luther King when it comes to speeches and ordinary song structure lacks any type of creativity such as the irritating “I Get My Paper.”
Cassidy disses “dumb rap” on the artificial “Damn I Miss The Game,” but falls into a similar trap on B.A.R.S. with too much glitter and not enough gold.
---------------------------------------I guess you could say I was in a hatin' mood. I like to think of it as being critical - that's not to say I didn't enjoy certain songs on these CDs. It's just tough to please someone who has an ear for the real.
And if you were smart, you'd get your hands on that new DJ Allah Mathematics Wu-Tang mixtape to hold you over until 8 Diagrams drops.
[dom corleone ain't nothin' ta F wit]
Some people choose not to believe
But I pray everyday when I drop to my knees