Sunday, August 27, 2006
Who said that there is no "orginality" left in soul music? I did say soul music, not R&B? Some folks don't really feel that there a difference between the two, but I beg to differ! In my opinion, soul music is a music that touches a person's inner soul, with daring originality, deep substance & uninhibited expression. Rhythm & Blues is where rehashed concepts meet predictable gimmicks with a goal of making a quick buck, while intentionally sacraficing creativity for the goal of radio airplay! Yes, in your local music store, these two genres may share the same space on the shelf, but they are two totally different things. Today, I bring you two artists from the soul genre. Both of these artists are great talents in their own right, but they will probably never get the exposure they deserve through video and radio airplay? First up is one of my Detroit brethren, Amp Fiddler. He is definitely not new to the music scene, but I am guessing that most of you have never heard of him? Joseph "Amp" Fiddler has been doing his thing over the last decade, while working with artists like George Clinton, Prince, The Brand New Heavies, The Dramatics and The P-Funk Allstars. Amp is more than just a singer, but he produces and writes, plus he plays several instruments like the keyboard, piano and the organ. He released his first album back in 1990 entitled, "With Respect," which was a solid album overall, but commercially it suffered. After that release, he took an hiatus from his solo endeavors until 2002 when he released a the 12" record, "Basementality" that featured a popular remix of the track by Moodymann. This release displayed Amp Fiddler's true musical talents, which blossomed into a full album release in 2004 entitled, "Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly." It had a raw and gritty feel to it! That album was a sleeper for jazz, funk and electronica fans around the world, but here in Detroit it became an underground classic! It was the start of his cult like fanbase that still supports him today.
While "Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly" still remains on classic status by true Amp Fiddler fans, he's finally back to bring us more soul with his upcoming album "Afro Strut." The album drops on August 29, 2006. Hopefully, this great album will get the promotion that it deserves? His new single, "Right Where You Are" has that unique Amp Fiddler feel to it, but I sense a little growth as well? His sounds on the new album seems a little more polished this time around. If you are seeking something new and funky, give Amp Fiddler a try. His sound maybe an acquired taste for some initially, but I think he is definitely worth a listen.
Next up is Choklate hailing from Seattle, by way of California. Another soul artist that is basically unknown in the mainstream arena, but this lady is a great talent as well. What I like about her the most is her ability to sing and rap convincingly! Many have tried it, but most have gone down in flames. Choklate puts me in the mind of Queen Latifah with her approach to making music, but I think she is deeper on the soul tip in my personal opinion. Choklate developed her musical style while working exclusively in her brother's studio in Seattle. Outside of perfecting her musical skills, she also learned important lessons about professionalism, punctuality and industry politics. After some networking and the development of several business friendships, she was introduced to three of Seattle's top hiphop producers Vitamin D, Bean One & Jake One. These katz really developed Choklate's musical sound. Choklate's writing abilities combined with their hypnotic beats blossomed into something special.
Choklate's debut self-titled album, "Choklate" was released back in May of 2006. I just came across this album back in July, but it's better late than never? This is some good stuff here! The title of the album fits perfectly because it is actually her coming out to the musical world. We are getting to know Choklate as the person and the artist. I will admit when I first found this album, I was thinking it was going to be some trash rap?? Her stage name is deceptive? I figured Choklate was on some of that Trina-Khia..My Neck, My Back type ish?? I was totally of track! Choklate brings soul music influenced by hiphop's rawness. The essence of what hiphop soul is all about. That saddest thing about this album is that it will probably be slept on by the masses, as so many other great albums have been in the past? If you are a fan of soul, hiphop and music in general, do yourself a favor and don't let this album pass you by.
All of the skeptics that believe soul music is dead, and there is no good music being released these days, here are two albums that will hopefully change your views? If not, don't give up on searching for great music. The music industry has definitely changed over the years, and so should your approach to finding good music. It's out there, but you have to find it! I will continue to bring forth albums and artists that I feel are making unnoticed musical strides in the right direction, with the hope they will gain a larger fanbase and maybe even sell a couple more CDs? Either way, please get to know these artists better and tell your friends and foes what going on over here at SoundNexx!
Here are some sites that you can checkout to hear music and further your knowledge about these artists.
Friday, August 25, 2006
It's FINALLY here! Well, sort of anyway? Most J Dilla a.k.a James Yancey (Jay Dee)fans have already gotten a digital copy of this album via the internet a couple of months back (if your downloading game is tight)? "The Shining" album is no exception when it comes to the many albums that are sometimes, unintentionally leaked everyday in this country! Those of you that got your hands on the very first promo leaked version of this album were initially distracted by the movie sound clips from the original flick starring Jack Nicholson. Some folks thought that this was actually the final version of the album, and were immediately turned off by it? Others felt that the movie soundbytes enhanced the underlying messages surrounding the songs themselves, which was a creative commodity that put J Dilla's legacy at an even higher standing than before. Dilla was a genius to incorporate his musical vision with Stanley Kubrick's 1980 movie masterpiece, and taking his production sound to another level. No matter which way you felt, the final album does not include the movie sound clips. So, if you were turned off by that version, get turned on again! For those that enjoy the promo version, now pick up the final version as well.
"The Shining" album was released on August 22, 2006. This will considered his last album by most, but his music will live on through us like so many before that passed too soon. Unlike many other rappers that die prematurally, Jay Dee died from Lupus Disease. He was sick for many years, and his family has suffered a great financial loss paying for J Dilla's medical care and treatment. Even after his death, the Yancey Family is still going through financial troubles. Some proceeds from purchasing "The Shining" album will go to the Yancey Family, which is a great thing. I want to encourage everyone to BUY this album! Not only because it's helping the Yancy Family with their money troubles, but it's a great album! Supporting real music is still necessary. I am a little troubled with the lack of promotion for this album, but I am definitely not shocked by it?
Checkout the J Dilla Foundation website, and get more information about other ways you can contribute to the cause. They have some cool stuff on there for purchase as well for the real Jay Dee fans looking for collector's items.
In rememberance of J Dilla and the support of his new album, I am reposting the SoundNexx "Dilla Lives On Megamixx" for download!
GET THE DILLA MEGAMIXX HERE!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Okay all of you jazz enthusiast, it's that time again! Volume 3 of some of my favorite jazz classics is here. Any true jazz lover knows that this genre of music never gets stale, but some songs even get better with time? With the help of technology, sampling has become the easiest and the most common way for a producer to develop a production sound. Hate it or love it, sampling is here to stay! Today, any novice with the right equipment and knowhow can chop, screw or alter any musical sound they choose. Jazz music is one of the largest sampling pools for producers because there are lots of instruments to choose from, with limited vocals to cypher through. Plus, jazz is one of the oldest forms of music, so there are decades of records available for the picking. Producers can remove one riff from a track, and make a whole beat from just that one sound. It's interesting when I hear an original jazz sample record that has literally been picked apart by just about everybody note for note, and it sounds like you are listening to about 20 songs at one time. The cool part of this sampling thing is, it gives these classic records and artists new life. It also gives the younger generation an opportunity to appreciate some of the great masterpieces of yester-year as well.
One of the most sampled jazz musicians of all-time is the legendary Roy Ayers (shown in the photo above). I guarantee that you've heard some of his music whether you realized it or not. Roy Ayers is a soul, funk and jazz vibraphone player from South Central, California. He has also been called, "The Godfather of Acid Jazz" because of his musical success in England back in the 1980's. This kat has worked with just about everybody over his decades in the music business. You talk about a catalog of hit records! Classic records like "Everybody Loves The Sunshine," "Searching," and "We Live In Brooklyn, Baby" are just a few of his most sampled tracks in hiphop alone. Roy is that dude, and if you are interested in getting more familiar with jazz, his music is a good place to start? He's not as deep as Miles Davis or Thelonious Monk, but he definitely not that elevator jazz like Kenny G either! Roy's hypnotic vibraphone sound sits nicely in the middle in my opinion.
Jazz Clazzikz Vol. 3 is packed with some great tracks! I threw a few hard to find sample records in there as well to keep it interesting. Most of these tracks will immediately take you back to the golden era of hiphop, but there are couple of newer samples incorporated as well. So, get a glass of your favorite beverage of choice, sit back and chill to these classic tracks. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did??
VOL. 3 TRACKLISTING
1**David Walker - On Love
2**Michael Franks - I Really Hope It's You
3**Rotary Connection - Memory Lane
4**Ronnie Laws - Tidal Wave
5**Sun Ra - Space Mates
6**Weather Report - Young & Fine
7**Donald Byrd - Woman Of The World
8**Roy Ayers - Liquid Love
9**Grover Washington Jr. - Loran's Dance
10*Bobby Hutcherson - Montara
11*Ronnie Foster - Tuesday Heartbreak
12*Paul Humphries - Uncle Willie's Dream
13*Soulive - Shaheed
14*Howard Roberts Quartet - Dirty Old Bossa Nova
15*Cal Tjader - Morning
16*Bobbi Humphrey - Blacks & Blues
17*Roy Ayers - Everybody Loves The Sunshine
DOWNLOAD JAZZ CLAZZIKZ VOL. 3
Friday, August 18, 2006
Most of my posts on this site are born from a discussion or a discovery that occurs in my daily life. I read two articles that were somewhat disturbing to me last week, and that inspired me to speak on it today! I felt the need to explore this issue a little further, and by doing so I could hopefully find some further understanding for myself? I'll explain more about the disturbing info that I read at the end of this post, but I will start things off by asking you the question that I have been asking myself for years. When does the purchase excessive bling become just another form of wasteful spending?? Black folks in America have held the title for being the greatest consumers over the years, which is not something to be proud of in my personal opinion. According to the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, the word "consumer" is derived from the word "consume," which in some aspects means to spend wastefully. Depending on where you are on the financial ladder of success, being a great consumer may or may not be detrimental to your overall lifestyle? The word "BLING" was supposedly coined by a southern rapper from New Orleans named B.G. on a song actually titled, "Bling Bling" back in 1999. The success of that song started a catch phrase that is still heavily used even in 2006 to express value when describing lavish jewelry mainly, but it can be used for other overpriced items that sparkle real purty as well. The word BLING has even crept its way into mainstream white America. I can't tell you how many times I have been watching some strictly white sitcom or news show and the word bling just pops up out of nowhere? Hmmm?? But, no matter how far the word bling has crossed racial boundaries in this country, the blacks in the hiphop community have taken this over used catch phrase to heart.. literally? Has the word bling become the new terminology for "Keeping up with the Jones?" Sometimes, I wonder......??
Rappers have been wearing gaudy jewelry since the beginning of hiphop music. Remember the excessively large gold rope chains a.k.a Dookie Ropes from back in the 1980's that everyone was sporting? Back in the day these gold chains represented the image of success and pure dopeness! A must have for your "I Wanna Be A Rapper" Kit. The real king of bling back in the 80s in my opinion was The Ruler himself, Slick Rick! That dude would wear about six chains weighing about 5 lbs each? Rick has always been an over the top type of emcee, so wearing that much jewelry was almost expected. In the 90's gold wasn't good enough anymore. In the words of the great OZ (The Wiz version of course)..."Gold is dead, to be a dope rapper you need Platinum instead!" Gold became so worthless in the hiphop community, that folks would literally clown you for wearing it? No mo' gold fronts, gold nugget watches or rings for you playa. Platinum was the new metal of choice, so every rapper with a budget went out and did what they do best. Before you knew it platinum was around everyones neck and wrists? You can't just bling out your watches, chains and rings without platinumizing the grill too. They were quick to remind you that they were wearing platinum babie, none of that flea market silver crap?? Silver?? Who was wearing silver? I know who! The folks that couldn't really afford the platinum prices, but wanted to be just as cool as the folks that could. White gold was another substitute for platinum as well, but who could really tell or cared? In the world of hiphop fashion, if you believe it's real, others will too!
Soon after platinum was on the come up, some genius thought that adding diamonds to the platinum would be just a little bit more exciting for the fans? Maybe even impress a few more video groupies too? First it started with a few tiny diamonds just to give it a little extra sparkle? Then the size of the diamonds got bigger and bigger! Soon katz were wearing a full 5 karats in both ears to match with the diamond necklace, rolex and pinky rings. I originally thought that only women were supposed to sport large diamond earrings? Guess I was wrong? When it comes to hiphop, there are no boundaries! Soon the earrings were the size of quarters, chains hung down past the crotch area and some bracelets almost touched their elbows. Remember, Ghostface's gigantic eagle bracelet? That thing would even put Wonder Woman to shame! Soon after that phase, metal was eliminated from the equation all together. Just diamonds and more diamonds! The saddest part of it all is there is no limit or maximum when it comes to attaining the biggest and most expensive stuff on the market. It's all based on your bank account.
Even Stevie Wonder saw this coming? You know the scenario where everyone else makes money off of the black consumers, except the black folks themselves. Jacob Arabo a.k.a Jacob The Jeweler used the passion that rappers had for jewelry, and created a million dollar opportunity for himself. As the rapper's jewelry desires were getting more extravigant by the day, Jacob started soliciting well known rappers with personally designed jewelry. He could create one of kind jewelry masterpieces for the established and up & coming rappers that wanted the bling for affordable prices, and if you couldn't afford to buy he'd rent it to you. How wonderful is that? A rap jewelry Rent-A-Center. Now, that's dope? All the bling for a quarter of the price. Well, wealthy actors and singers have been renting expensive pieces of jewelry to wear at the red carpet events for years, so Jacob felt that the rappers should have the same opportunity. Needless to say it worked. Not only did it put money in Jacob's pockets, but it also made him a hood celebrity as well. After awhile, rappers were proud to say that they got their jewelry from Jacob, so they'd shout him out whenever they could on a record. Jacob pushed the envelope on hood jewelry design too. He understood that rappers wanted unique, but innovative jewelry pieces. As far as I know, Jacob's signature watches were the first time pieces to incorporate colored diamonds in the face. Suddenly, the demand for colored diamonds was enormous! For the big spenders, white diamonds wasn't flashy enough? Who would have ever imagined that? Look at Pharrell's personalized chain (shown in the photo on the left) reppin' the Neptunes, looking like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles around his neck. That necklace is crazy! Jacob's success over the years has encouraged many other self-proclaimed jewelers to follow in his footsteps. Even some rappers like 50 Cent and Lil' Flip have started their own jewelry lines to get into the bling-bling business. I don't blame them. The truth is nobody can rap forever, so get in where you fit in!
It's not just about chains and rings anymore. Grillz have really taken off in hiphop over the last few years as well. There was a little debate about who the first rapper was to sport a grill in his mouth? Damn, does it really matter? Hell yeah it does! Being the originator of anything in hiphop gives you braggin' rights for life, which some feel is more important than the musical success itself. Everybody wants to be first, right! Just to ease your weary minds, Big Gipp of the Goodie Mob is the self-proclaimed FIRST kat to sport the gold grill teefess? Does one or two gold teeth count as a grill? If so, my grandpa had a grill back in 1975!! In 2006, them Texas boyz like Mike Jones (WHO?) and Paul Wall sport the diamond grillz. Hell, Paul Wall even makes good money designing and selling grillz on the side. Personally, I can't get into the whole grill phenomenom? Too much slob and drooling for my taste, but do ya thang playaz! Too much damn smiling too! Close ya mouf Mike!! Nelly had the blue diamonds in his grill for his last music video, so what's next? Maybe, they'll put diamonds on their tongues to match the ones on their teeth?? That's a joke...I HOPE! Oh yeah, the Number 1 Stunna (Baby) of the Cash Money Millionaires just upped the value of his grill to $500,000! His grill can't be removed either. I guess he's got an image to uphold, while some folks can't even afford to eat food on a daily basis! I hope this kat has a great saving and investment plan?? Being broke with $500,000 in your mouth stinks!
On a side note, did you know that somebody thought of the bright idea of putting real diamonds on car rims costing approximately $250,000? What a genius idea!?They are killing kids over chrome rims, so what will they do for a set of diamond rims? FYI...The biggest rim on the market is 30 inches. That's not a rim, that's a wagon wheel! Thanks Master P!! Where would the car rim business be without his personal input? Isn't he the guy with the solid gold ceiling the master bedroom of his house? How creative is that?
Okay, onto the reason why I did this post in the first place. It really urks me to repeat this, but I feel it's my civil duty. When I think of pure financial waste, this is at the top of my list! For those that don't already know, Diddy a.k.a Puff Daddy had his 11 MILLION dollar necklace and diamond encrusted cross stolen while he was on the Spanish island of Ibiza. I have two quick questions for anyone that can answer them. The first is, why in the hell would a person spend 11 million dollars on a piece of jewelry?? Secondly, if you are stupid enough to spend that kind of money on jewelry, why would you just leave laying around so it could get stolen? Dammit, man!!
I got a simple observation for you rap fans before I wrap this thang up! I have noticed over the years except for maybe Slick Rick & Ghostface, the rappers with the most extravagant bling in the game are some of the wackest rappers overall? Is that just a coincedence? Maybe, the excessive bling is to cover up the lack of talent? You be the judge. Pay attention to these videos and watch who's rockin' the most bling, and I bet you it's one of the wack rappers pretending to be an emcee...? Okay folks, I am officially bling-blinged out for real now!!
Monday, August 14, 2006
The group's name might be deceiving, but these katz are all about the hiphop. Tanya Morgan consist of Von Pea, Ilyas and Donwill (Ilwill). Von Pea is from Brooklyn, while Ilwill reside in Cincinnati, Ohio. They originally started out as two separate rap acts (Von Pea & Ilwill), but in 2003 they decided to combine forces and create Tanya Morgan. The premise for the group's name has never really been disclosed? Tanya Morgan is a ficticious person, so that eliminates assumptions of them stealing the name from their Big Moma, Baby Mama or some bitty they had a crush back in junior high school? Judging by their name, it is obviously that this group doesn't take themselves too seriously, but hiphop fans definitely should. Creative beats and rhymes that actually bring the fun back into hiphop is what Tanya Morgan is all about. Aren't you tired of rap music being in this manic-depressive state? If you are a fan of Asamove and the Justus League movement, then this group is for you? Out of all of the Justus Leaguers, Tanya Morgan has the closest vibe with Little Brother. Actually, Von Pea and Phonte have collaborated on several tracks together in the past, so they obviously have a pretty tight working relationship. Phonte has publicly co-signed Tanya Morgan's dopeness in the same fashion that Questlove (The Roots) did for Little Brother back in the day. Both groups have a carefree, yet sarcastic and sometimes silly approach to creating hiphop music, which keeps their sound fresh. It just shows that every rapper in 2006 doesn't have to be a drug-sellin', pistol carryin', candy paint drivin', 26 inch rim spinnin' thug, fresh outta jail to be a true staple in hiphop? Creativity is still existant in hiphop even though the majority of fans have lost hope??
Tanya Morgan released their slept on debut album entitled, "Moonlighting" back in April of 2006. The album is pretty solid, but with absolutely no promotion most people didn't even know it existed for the most part? I was a Von Pea fan before, which lead me to be a Tanya Morgan fan today! Moonlighting is like a coming out for Tanya Morgan. They all seem to take turns expressing their disgust with the state of hiphop over the last few years, which definitely reveals an undeniable sarcasm on tracks like, "Ha Ha Ha," "Just Because I Got Locs" and "Rough You Up." The sarcasm is pretty funny overall, because they are actually poking fun at themselves as well. Don't get it twisted though, these are not just a bunch of jokers with a microphone. They do have lyrical skills that are definitely displayed throughout the album. Put your ears on "We Bad" and "Paper Thin" to hear what I mean. Overall, I think Tanya Morgan is a solid group of MCs that deserve some recognition. Hopefully, this post will provide them with some new fans, and hopefully some more album sales??
Since, Tanya Morgan and the Justus League (Little Brother) have simularities, I decided to create a mix highlighting both crews. There is a mixture of old, new and exclusive tracks in this mix, so hopefully you will enjoy them?
TM vs. LB MIXX TRACKLIST:
1**Von Sees - Von Pea (Nicolay)
2**Life of The Party - Little Brother
3**We Bad - Tanya Morgan
4**Daily Operation - Cesar Comanche feat. Legacy & Sean Boog (Khrysis)
5**Trainspottin - Tanya Morgan
6**Keep The Bling - Big Pooh (Khrysis)
7**Golden - Tanya Morgan
8**Feels Good - Splash (9th Wonder)
9**Saturday - Tanya Morgan
10*From The Soul - Preach (Nicolay)
11*1st Date - Von Pea (Nicolay)
12*Raw Life - Phonte feat. Joe Scudda (Nicolay)
13*Tanya Morgan - Tanya Morgan
14*Run Wit It - Access (9th Wonder)
15*Paper Thin - Tanya Morgan
16*Wu-Tang Clan - Phonte
17*Rock To This - Legacy
18*What The F*** - Tanya Morgan
19*Tha Knowledge - Jean Grae feat. Edgar Allen Floe (9th Wonder)
20*Whatever You Say (Ill Smooth Mix) - Little Brother
DOWNLOAD THE TM VS. LB MIX HERE
Tanya Morgan - We Be
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Let me start off by saying that I love and appreciate hiphop music in general. It has been an outlet for me over the years. As we all know the genre has gone through lots of changes over the years, some good and others bad depending who you ask? One of my biggest beefs with hiphop/rap music is how some of better hiphop artists in the game never get their just due? I realize that there a plenty of factors that cause these tragedies to occur, but who is really responsible? That's what I want to discuss today. I have chosen 4 emcees that are at the top of my list when it comes to lyrical fitness and creativity and they are Redman, Canibus, Ras Kass and Chino XL. These four katz would lyrically massacre 85% of the hiphop industry word for word in my opinion! Yes, these are all different MCs, but they all have one thing in common. None of them have seen the mainstream success that they deserve. Why? Lets start with Redman. I don't think any true hiphop head can deny that Redman is a beast on the mic. Give him a mic and you are definitely in for a lyrical treat. He's had one of the dopest producers in the game backing him for years...Erick Sermon, plus he's been apart of one of the dopest hiphop crews to ever touch a mic...The Hit Squad. Red definitely has street credibility, plus he's respected by other great MCs. What else do you need to be successful? The shameful part of the music industry is that your success is based on record sales only. If you are not selling millions of records you are pretty much considered a failure? Should record sales decide whether an artist is worth supporting? Redman has released several classic albums over the years, but he hardly ever mentioned amongst the list elite emcees?
When I think of lyrical gymnastics on the microphone, the first name that comes to mind is Canibus. He is what I would call a "Battle Rapper." His numerous exclusive freestyle appearances on just about every hot DJ's mixtape back in the mid 1990's shook the hiphop community like an earthquake in California. Canibus had the industry buzzin'. Everybody was wondering where this kat came from, spitting those complicated, but well thought out freestyles that were unmatched at the time. He flipped 13 letter words effortlessly as if he walked around with a Webster's dictionary in his pocket studying each page meticulously looking for new words to educate the masses. It was a beautiful thing! My finger stayed on the rewind button, trying to decypher the hidden messages in every verse he spit. This kat was changing the game before he even dropped an album, challenging other emcees to get their skillz up for the next phase of lyrical execution. It was all about breath control babie! Anticipation mounted as every hiphop head was biting their fingernails waiting for the Canibus debut album to hit the streets. Well, needless to say, the "Can-I-Bus" album was not a total disaster in my eyes and ears, but it was a dissappointment to say the least? Why? Some said production, others felt Canibus went soft on us? What happened to the beast from the East that was rippin' verses from ear to ear on the freestyles? Why was the album just luke-warm at best? Did he try to conform with the industry standards instead of remaining true to himself? Canibus never really recovered from his poor debut, and it seems like his career been in a downward spiral ever since. Canibus has had great moments over the years, but he hasn't dropped that classic album that fans are still waiting for? He's still a dope MC whether he sells any albums or not in my opinion.
Another great, but underrated MC that reps the Westcoast is my man Ras Kass. He's has ripped few mics in his time as well, but what I appreciate about him is his political and biblical wittiness. He takes topics that most rappers would avoid and seemlessly weaves them into his street gospels. Like Canibus, Ras Kass has an extensive vocabulary as well, which changed my opinion about rappers from the westcoast back in the 90's. Ras Kass released his unrecognized classic debut album entitled, "Soul On Ice" back in October of 1996. While most other westsiders at the time were content with rapping about gang violence, 6-4's & smoking chronic, Ras was educating us with tracks like "Nature of The Threat" and "The Evil That Men Do." This album is full of great punchlines and wordplay that will definitely have you hitting the rewind button several times. I believe that this album was actually ahead of it time, and that is why it went over most people's heads! As expected this album sucked in the sales department, but that was expected since it was released during the Bad Boy & Death Row era. If you weren't Snoop Dogg, Biggie or Tupac, you were pretty much a non-factor back then? Despite the obstacles, Ras Kass kept it moving and released his second album entitled, "Rassassination" in 1998. This was another solid album, but this time around he seemed a little more polished? More guest appearances from established artists helped bring more attention to the project, but it still suffered the same fate as his debut? That's confusing to me? When did quality beats and rhymes become insufficient enough to sell rap records? Ras Kass has gone the label and legal troubles over the last few years kept him invisible, which has lowered his position on the hiphop relevance meter in the new millenium? Keep your ears open though, because Ras is on the come up?
Last, but not least is Chino XL! He started out rippin' controversial freestyles on the Wake Up Show hosted by Sway and Tech back in the 90's, and he quickly made a name for himself. Not only did he have clever punchlines, but he could spit at an excelled pace to say the least. He could cram more shyt into two verses than the other rappers could squeeze into six! Talk about hitting the rewind button several times? One of the other characteristics about his rhymes are the subliminal messages and disses that he packs his verses with? Chino has dissed everybody from Bill Cosby to Mrs. Buttersworth, and he has no remorse. He's made a few enemies throughout his career because he is so opinionated, but it is what it is. Believe me when I tell you this kat is very clever with the wordplay. It seems like no matter how many times you listen to his songs, you literally hear something that you missed the first few listens. I know a few rap fans that found Chino XL a little too challenging to enjoy? They actually feel a little tired after playing one of his albums because there is so much information to digest. In the age of lazy raps and watered down content, I guess Chino would be too much for the average listener, which is ashame. For those of you that have slept on Chino, but are up for the challenge...take a listen to his "Here To Save You All" and "I Told You So" albums. These albums may just change the way you view hiphop as a whole??
All of these emcees have been great for hiphop at one point or another, but yet the masses haven't recognized them? The music industry has been caught up on this rims, timbs, jewelry, drug sellin' & booty shakin' kick for years now. That alone has tricked the minds of the younger hiphop fans into believing that if a rapper isn't talking about those things that he or she is not a factor? That's why talented rappers that I named above along with so many others suffer, and barely make a dent in the sales department. I don't believe that record sales should determine someone's worth or success, but it definitely helps get your name out there for all to see!
Okay, I am done venting now, but I am curious about what you folks think about the subject? Whether you agree or disagree with what's been stated above, please feel free to express yourself! What are some other MCs that you feel are underrated? Jean Grae is another one of my picks....
I decided to do a post on The Procussions because I get asked about this group atleast once a week! I know when you saw this photo of them, you were probably thinking..."Is that them Baha Men dudes that sang that song, Who Let The Dogs Out??" Nope! You got the wrong katz playa! The Procussions (J. Medeiros, Stro & Rez) are strictly hiphop, but they have a fresh spin to their sound? They have the charisma of the "OLD" Black Eye Peas (b4 the white woman joined the group), and the chemistry of Jurassic 5. Their debut album was entitled, "As Iron Sharpens Iron," which was released back in 2003. I actually discovered this hiphop group back in April 2006. I had gotten a promo copy of their second album "5 Sparrows For 2 Cents," but I didn't give it a full listen initially? At first listen they sounded like many of the lame underground hiphop groups that drop albums trying to get on under false pretences? I am glad that I didn't give up on them, because by the third listen I realized that The Procussions actually have some substance. They bring that carefree and fun hiphop back to the forefront, with catchy hooks and headbobbin' rhythms. The funniest thing about these katz is that they hale from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This definitely shows that hiphop is not just originating in New York, California and the Southern region anymore! I actually lived in Colorado Springs a few years ago, and lets just say that boring military town does not have a prominent hiphop scene to say the least! There are a couple spots around town where you can get into some real underground hiphop like "Independent Records" on East Platte Avenue. That spot always had the butta underground joints and hard to find releases! Other then that, theirs only thin air and reckless driving going on up in that piece?
Over the last few years I have talked, debated and argued about the state of hiphop in the new millenium. My point has always been, it's about quality not quantity! One great album is worth more than any 10 mediocre albums in my opinion? Choose wisely and find the quality hiphop albums that exist (yes there are some quality albums out there) and avoid that trash rap albums! Easier said than done, but it's not impossible. It starts with expanding your taste in hiphop music. That doesn't mean that you can't like Jeezy, DMX, Dem Franchize Boyz & E-40, but your taste shouldn't be limited to just those artists? There is a lot of great music out there that deserves some attention, so don't remain blinded with your tunnel visioned way of thinking! The Procussions "5 Sparrows For 2 Cents" album is probably not going to blow you away on the first couple of listens, but that is really its appeal. Now, don't get me wrong, there are a few bangers on the album like "Simple Song," "I'll Fly" and "For The Camera" that will have your head bobbin' instantly? Other standout tracks like "Miss January" and "The Storm" kinda sneak up on you like athlete's foot! This album may not be a classic, but it is definitely worth a listen. If you enjoy groups like Jurrassic 5, Strange Fruit Project, The Black Eye Peas, and Dilated Peoples...you'll probably like The Procussions as well?
LISTEN TO THE TRACK "MISS JANUARY" HERE (CLICK THIS LINK)
LISTEN TO SNIPPETS FROM THE NEW ALBUM HERE
THE PROCUSSIONS OFFICIAL WEBSITE HERE
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Who remembers the first time they heard a D'Angelo song? I do!! It was in May of 1995 when I first heard that "Brown Sugar" track for the first time, which definitely changed the R&B game in my eyes. That song was so dayum funky and soulful, there was no way it could be denied! All I kept thinking was, "Who is this soulful kat, and when can I get the album?" I immediatelyran over to the music store the morning it dropped, and I actually bought the last copy of the "Brown Sugar" album the store had. Remember, this way before new albums leaked 5 months before they're released and downloading music was an option? I like to call it, "The Good Ole' Dayz!" Anyhoo, I got the Brown Sugar CD into the whip, quickly ripped the plastic off and dropped it into the Kenwood CD player! The Brown Sugar joint (track 1) came on and I was in music lovers bliss! After I played that cut about 3 times, I finally started moving through rest of the album! Back then I had a bad habit of skimming through albums? Skimming is when I would listen to approximately 20 seconds of a song, and if it didn't grab me within that time frame, I would skip to the next track! Needless to say, I skimmed through the whole album. I became pissed and disappointed!! I felt like I had been ripped off tremendously? So, I put that album on the shelf for many many weeks, thinking that I hated it? When people would try to discuss the album with me, I would immediately say that I didn't like it! So, a few weeks later I was riding with my partna and he had that Brown Sugar album in his CD changer in his car. He had the CDs in shuffle mode, so all of a sudden "Me and Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine" came on. At first I wasn't paying any attention and then it caught my attention. So, I immediately asked, "Who is this?" He said it was D'Angelo. I got mad at myself! I couldn't believe that this great song was on the album, and I had totally missed it. As soon as I got home that evening, I dusted off that "Brown Sugar" album and listened to all 10 tracks completely. I quickly realized that this was actually a great and important album, which some say pioneered the Neo-Soul movement that we have today? This was classic material that I was definitely sleeping on....?
The "Brown Sugar" album did two things for me musically. The first thing it did was opened up my earbuds to a new music, which made me want to explore new genres. Secondly, it got me to stop "skimming" through music like I used to. I realized that most great music needs a few listens before it really starts to make an impression. I take my time with music now. If I am not really liking something on the first or second listen, I wait a few days and then play it again. Now, if it's crap...it won't matter how many times I listen to it. Crap is crap!! As I have gotten older I have watched my taste in music broaden further than I could have ever imagined.
As every D'Angelo fan knows, he has been missing in action for a minute now! Hell, more like a few years! Of course he's a man first and then a singer, and sometimes the being a blackman is difficult enough? Rumor has it that he's been dealing with some personal drama like drug usage, weight gain and a terrible car accident? D'Angelo has definitely been pretty invisible these last few years, but he has been working with a few artists on the side during his absence. He's been featured on tracks with Roy Hargrove, Q-Tip, Raphael Saadiq, Common & J Dilla over the years, but we still haven't heard when his next album will be coming out? He supposedly made a statment after his car accident that he was in the studio working on the new album?? I'll believe it when I see it! Until that day comes I guess D'Angelo fans will have to keep playing his previous albums, which isn't that bad? I mean it's a lot better than listening to most of the trash that's been forced upon us in the last few years, right? Hopefully, D'Angelo's new project will be as great as his previous ones, which will make the music world a better place? If not, his true fans will still remain by his side debating with the foolish skeptics about why D'Angelo has been so great for soul music...?
Until then...I dug up a compilation that I made for a friend a minute ago that has some of my favorite D'Angelo tracks from his portfolio. They are a combination of his guest appearances, live performances, album tracks and remixes! Hopefully, this compilation will make some D'Angelo fans happy, or just make for some good conversation? Either way...enjoy! If any of you folks have any new D'Angelo news worth sharing, please leave your comments. As usual, all comments are welcomed, unless you are trying to sell used condoms or something like that? In that's the case, KEEP IT MOVIN'! I get some crazy advertisement "ish" left in the comment section sometimes....?
Okay, on to the compilation! I was trying some new stuff (mixing) when I made this, so don't let your confusion distract you from the music...
MO' BROWN SUGA TRACKLIST:
1) D'ANGELO - DEVIL'S PIE (HOTT REMIX)
2) D'ANGELO - ALRIGHT
3) D'ANGELO - ME AND THOSE DREAMIN EYES OF MINE (REMIX) FEAT. REDMAN
4) D'ANGELO - CHICKEN GREASE
5) SLUM VILLAGE FEAT. D'ANGELO - TELL ME
6) D'ANGELO FEAT. AZ - LADY (DJ PREMIER REMIX)
7) THE ROOTS FEAT. D'ANGELO & ERYKAH BADU - THE NOTIQ
8) D'ANGELO - UNTITLED
9) D'ANGELO - CRUISIN' (DALLAS AUSTIN REMIX)
10)D'ANGELO - EVERBODY LOVES THE SUNSHINE (LIVE)
11)D'ANGELO - SMOOTH
12)RAPHAEL SAADIQ FEAT. D'ANGELO - YOU SHOULD BE HERE
13)COMMON FEAT. D'ANGELO - GHETTO HEAVEN
14)J DILLA FEAT. COMMON & D'ANGELO - SO FAR TO GO
15)D'ANGELO - BROWN SUGAR (BOP MIX)
16)D'ANGELO - CAN'T HIDE LOVE (LIVE)
17)D'ANGELO - SEND IT ON
18)D'ANGELO - THEE INSTRUMENTAL
Oh yeah...click the photo above to see what D'Angelo looks like the last time he was photoed in public? The infamous mug shot....
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I know all you 80's babies remember "The Superfriends" cartoon from back in the day, right? All you 90's babies, please pay attention. This just might be interesting? Then maybe not, but here we go anyway! Speaking strictly about the cartoon, The Superfriends were a crew of superheroes that banded together in hopes of preserving truth, justice and the American way! The Superfriends were made up of Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Wonder Twins, Batman and Robin. The Superfriends were part of a larger organization entitled, the "Justice League of America." Other superheroes like Atom, Thor, Captain America, Flash, The Green Lantern, Hawkman, etc...would lend a hand when the ongoing battle against evil got a little heavy. The Justice League recruited just about every superheroe that were fighters for truth and justice (you gotta luv that). The Hall of Justice was the name of the sacred place where all of the heroes would gather to discuss the strategies on how to rid the world of evil, which was headed by the "Legion of Doom." The Justice League had a fierce nemesis in the Legion of Doom, but they always kept up the good fight. I miss the good ole' cartoons from back in the day! In terms of superheroes in the cartoon world of imagination, The Justice League of America was the ish!! Here to save us all...
A group of rappers from North Carolina have taken on the Justice League persona when it comes to hiphop music. They call themselves the Justus League (shown in the photo above). The core members of the Justus League are: Phonte, Big Pooh, 9th Wonder, Khrysis, L.E.G.A.C.Y, Edgar Allen Floe, Joe Scudda, Median, Sean Boog, Cesar Comanche and Chaundon. They are all talents in their own right, but as a team they are a force to be reckoned with. Are they here to save hiphop music from the evils (clear channel & radio one) that exist? Let's hope so?? Checkout the "HALL OF JUSTUS".....
"As hiphop music seems to be slidding toward it's demise, members of The Justus League arrive just in time to save the day...."
Out of all the Justus Leaguers, Little Brother (as shown in the photo on the left: Phonte, 9th Wonder & Big Pooh) have been the most successful? By success I definitely don't mean record sales, but they have put a slight spark back into hiphop since the release of their debut album, "The Listening" back in 2003. Being from North Carolina has seemed to be a burden for the group at times because in the world of southern rap music, the so-called "backpacker music" is not appreciated? Who came up with that silly term anyway? If you are not rapping about selling drugs, rims that spin or the amount of diamonds in your chain, should that automatically put you in the so-called, backpacker category?? How about just calling it good hiphop music instead. Not saying that the Justus League is the only hiphop crew putting out good music in 2006, but in today's mainstream hiphop scene, the lyrics about drugs, jewelry and rims outweigh the others tremendously! Okay, I promised myself that I wasn't going there today, so lets keep it moving......
Despite the diverse subject matter the League brings to the microphone, the production has been key to their overall appeal as well. Little Brother producer 9th Wonder changed the production game with his chopped, but catchy soul samples. When Jay-Z enlisted him to make a beat for his last project, "The Black Album" things really started looking up for 9th! The Away Team producer Khrysis has proven that he a definite force in the production game as well. Not trying to follow in the footsteps of 9th, Khrysis has found his own original production style that will definitely keep your head bobbin'! Then you have the Neitherlands Justus League affiliate Nicolay that also lends a hand on the production tip as well. Nic has a smooth-silky production sound that entwines haunting chants with hypnotic rhythms. Most of Nicolay's beats can stand alone perfectly without one verse being spit over them, and still hold the average listener's attention in eargasmic bliss. Together these three katz handle the bulk of the Justus League production. How lucky are we!!
Over the short span of the Justus League movement, the crew has definitely expanded. Other artists have allied with the League because they appreciate what they are all about, and how they are soaring toward the goal of bringing hiphop back to essence from which it originated? Good and creative music! Beats and rhymes with no filler or added preservatives! Some of the JL affiliates are: Jean Grae, Strange Fruit Project, Kenn Starr, Kev Brown, Supastition, Oddisee, Yahzarah, Darien Brockington & Questlove...just to name a few. This is a good thing for everyone, because that means more great music.
I don't know about ya'll, but the Justus League has been a great breath of fresh air for hiphop since their arrival on the scene. I think the world of hiphop is a better place since these katz arrived, and I hope they continue to bless us with new music until I go deaf? For those of you that had never heard of the Justus League until you read this post and you really love great hiphop, you can thank me later!! I mean that sincerely, because this crew has lots of great hiphop that needs to heard. If you don't like the Justus League, you really to re-evaluate whether you like hiphop at all? It's ashame that these katz can't get the radio and video airplay that some the other less talented rappers get in 2006! This may be a different world if we had better music choices? Who knew that music could actually shape the world???
Ending this post without a mix would be a crime, so here we go. I dug threw some of my Justus League material to pull out some of the tracks that have stoodout to me over the years. Think of this as an appetizer to the main course, if you have never been exposed to the League. Download and play this mix several times, then tell a friend about it! Word of mouth is a powerful tool, so lets spread the word if you haven't already. It's never too late for change......
Little Brother "Speed" video
L.E.G.A.C.Y. "Nice" Video
Ayt, lets get on with the mix.........
HALL OF JUSTUS MIX TRACKLIST:
1) Whatcha Like - Little Brother
2) Let It Go - Little Brother feat. Mos Def
3) Yesterday - Supastition
4) Light It Up - Little Brother feat. Nicolay
5) Door To My Life - Joe Scudda feat. Phonte
6) Back At It Again - Kenn Starr feat. Median & M. Phase
7) Perfect One - Kazi feat. 9th Wonder
8) Organ Donor - L.E.G.A.C.Y
9) My Story - Kay feat. Sy Smith & Nicolay
10) Solid - Jean Grae feat. Phonte
11) All Night - Von Pea feat. Phonte
12) Step Off - Little Brother
13) Flash & Flare - Little Brother feat. L.E.G.A.C.Y
14) Just Friends - Big Pooh feat. Khrysis
15) I'm The Man - Black Spade feat. Nicolay
16) Getaway - Thyrday
17) Murray's Revenge - Murs feat. 9th Wonder
18) Beats N Rhymes - Kev Brown feat. Phonte & Oddisee
19) Have Nots - Dox & Shelly B feat. 9th Wonder
20) Holiday - Chaundon
21) Intergalactic Soul - DJ Spinna feat. Phonte
DOWLOAD HALL OF JUSTUS MIX HERE
Where were you when you first heard the Justus League??