SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Breaks

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We all need a break from our individual worlds.  My breaks are spent playing sports video games (PS4 tag Veguss2001) and watching everything crowding the DVR. Hip-Hop usually takes a break after the ball drops for the new year. Not this year though. Albums/Mixtapes dropped all over the end of 2013 and the start of 2014.  I couldn’t keep up at one point.

Needless to say, I’m back on my sh*t.  What does that mean? Well, given the fact that I just celebrated my 5th Anniversary here at HipHoPolitic Blog… Live a little… read old post.  There are some gems dating waaaaay back to the year 2009.  Ol school!

Seriously, expect more of my honest take on all things hip-hop.  Don’t forget to check me out LIVE EVERY FRIDAY ON STRICTLY HIP-HOP WEAA 88.9 Streaming via http://weaa.org and apps like Tune-In and the Public Radio app for all mobile devices.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Voice

Gangstarr

Gangstarr had a song that spoke about how the uniqueness in your voice is one of the things that got you attention in hip-hop. A distinct voice is just as important as a distinct style (i.e. Q-Tip, B-Real, Kendrick).  Sure there have been rappers with similar vocal tones but, in 2013/2014, I feel like there are waaay too many.

Each rapper brings something to the table that separates him or herself from the other.  It’s just hard to tell when they sound so much a like.  They target the same audience.  Somebody’s not going to eat. It  doesn’t matter who came first, they all came up together.

I was listening to Childish Gambino’s new album when this became ever so clear. Nothing against him but he sound/feels like Drake, Big Sean, & Lupe Fiasco all rolled in one. Maybe that’s the hook? IDK. It becomes increasingly hard to tell the difference for the uninformed.

Nobody has bass in their voice? Only in interviews? I don’t understand. Unfortunately, it all comes down to the marketing of this style. Everybody wants what is charting. Once upon a time artist would get signed because they had a  unique sound.  Now they get deals because they sound the same.

I will always remember Russell Simmons saying he didn’t sign Nas back in the day because he sound too much like Kool G. Rap.  If that were today, not only would he have signed him, he probably would have a roster full of them.

It all just sends a uninspired message to the up and coming hip-hop artist. “Why be you when you can be them?”

Here is that Gangstarr song I talked about (side bar- I didn’t like it but it’s the truth. Lol!):

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Forgettable

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With all the hip-hop music we get over the course of a year, a lot of it is forgettable. I’m not just talking about the wack sh*t. There are a lot of solid releases that I have all but forgotten. It’s this time of year when we begin to reflect on all that has happened. My process for selecting albums/mix tapes of the year is simple.

I put the remarkable ones on my phone and who ever survives the daily, weekly, monthly rotation…comes out on top. Then I think to my self, for example, “Oh sh*t. I forgot about that Czarface album.” Not to single them out but I was big on that album when it came out. It just got lost in the shuffle.

Or like, that Game mixtape. It was really good but, others overshadowed it. Sh*t, Pusha T. I forgot that even came out after a while, and that wasn’t half bad. So you see what I’m saying? None of the mentioned projects were wack. They just didn’t have a profound impact on a brother.

I go back and listen to everything to see what impact it has on me now. Some still rock, while others don’t sound as good. It’s a crazy process for a fan like myself who listens to it all. The worst (or good) part of it all, is the fact that there are STILL some dope releases this month.

Yes, I consider everything that actually drops in 2013. Look out for my Top Albums/Mixtapes of the year on New Year’s Day!

In My Rotation 9-24-2011

We are in the midst of a hip hop overload, and it’s ALL good! Here is the music I’m currently riding to:

J. Cole “Cole World: The Sideline Story

“I have to say my expectations were a little high on this one. 1st listen, I felt it missed the mark (musically). I’m just not a big fan of these movie soundtrack beats. It’s not every track, but enough to take me out of my zone. 2nd listen, I settled in and listened to J. Cole’s lyrics. He sacrificed nothing lyrically. His lyrics are what make this album worth the support. Though I favor the Friday Night Lights mixtape more, this is a solid debut. J.Cole is a dope lyricist with a future…”

Phonte “Charity Starts At Home

“This is one of those albums that reminds you about artist who know exactly what they are doing. They don’t do it for trends nor gimmicks. It’s just who they are. Phonte as a lyricist has always wore his emotions on his sleeve. This album is dope! Rhymes, Beats, and more. The more being the fact that Phonte is a very good singer. This album contains a nice balance of rapping and singing (more rapping though). Reuniting with Little Brother alumni 9th Wonder on a couple of tracks that make you yearn for more LB music. The album’s length lends to the perfect flow. MUST HAVE. PERIOD.”

9th Wonder “The Wonder Years

“I haven’t been a fan of past 9th Wonder albums. I always felt that most of the music was for those “under” the underground. This album is different. With a more aggressive sound, and a better blend of mcs and singers… It makes me wonder what took so long? Guest include Erykah Badu, Phonte, Kendrick Lamar, Raekwon, and more. The album flows very similar to Phonte’s. Hip-Hop starts the party, then R&B/Soul takes over….and back to Hip-Hop. I hope you brought enough cash because you’ll need this album too.”

Evidence “Cats & Dogs

“Remember when Primo produced Group Home’s debut album “Livin’ Proof“? Cats & Dogs is kind of like that, but with better lyrics. The beats steal the show. Evidence is a decent mcs but he can be seriously monotone. The beats match that monotone sound perfectly, a la Guru (R.I.P.). Though Primo doesn’t handle all of the production, producers like Alchemist come thru with bangers. It’s like all of the producers were trying to out do each other. We all win. The album is a little too long for Evidence’s sound and subject matter (17 tracks). It’s still a dope album that screams REAL HIP-HOP! I’m not mad at all. Support it!”

Game “The R.E.D. Album

“Still banging this joint. For all of the naysaying that people do regarding Game, his music still bangs. Treat yourself to “Born in the Trap“. That track gets me every time. Check it out if you haven’t already.”

In My Rotation 8-22-2011

I’ve been enjoying a lot of hip-hop lately. The Summer is starting to wind down and soon we’ll be deep in the 4th Quarter music rush. Here’s what I’m currently banging:

Kendrick Lamar “Section.80

“Still banging this album like it came out yesterday! This album represents all the things we say we want from new hip-hop artist. It represents everything we say we miss from hip-hop. The album is arranged in excellent fashion. Varied flows, thought provoking lyrics, and tight production all make Section.80 an album you SHOULD already own at this point. Support! HiiPower!”

Game “The R.E.D. Album

“When I heard the snippets to this album, I thought it was complete garbage. I’ll never do that again. This album is really not that bad. 1st…there is name dropping. Lol! It wouldn’t be a Game album without it. The good thing is that it’s not as excessive as it’s been in the past. Tracks like “Ricky” and “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” show Game at his best. He does West Coast Gangsta sh@t well. The Primo produced “Born in the Trap” is dope! There are a couple of R&B joints but, he is a Platinum artist…what do you expect? Check for this one…”

Jay-Z & Kanye West “Watch the Throne

“It wasn’t what it should of been, but that’s what the skip button is for. Right? The songs that are hot…are HOT (New Day, Welcome to the Jungle, No Church for the Wild), and the songs that are wack…are WACK (That’s My B@tch, Why I Love You, Gotta Have it). I feel some who say Yeezy is starting to “out-rap” Jay. Jay’s verses aren’t wack, Kanye just sounds hungrier (Rightfully). This feels like a Kanye album featuring Jay-Z. That just makes me thirsty for a new Jay-Z album. Invest if you want.”

Willie the Kid “#TheCrates

“This joint was one of those stumble upon moments. I saw it on a couple of sites and decided to give it a crack while working at my desk. Original Rhymes over Original Samples. That’s exactly what it is. While Willie the Kid is a decent emcee, the sample selection is perfect. Though the idea isn’t as original, this is a well put together mixtape. Sometimes special music doesn’t have to scream…SPECIAL. Check this one out.”

Heavy Rotation 2-11-2011

2011 started off slow for hip-hop, but that’s to be expected. There are a couple hot albums/mixtapes out right now that must be sampled. Here is what’s in my heavy rotation:

Saigon- Greatest Story Never Told

“Hot album…Period! I thought all the time that passed would make this album sound dated, but it was well worth the wait. With a good majority of the album being handled by Just Blaze, the sound bangs hard. There are a couple of fillers but none seem to truly take away from the overall sound. Saigon’s vibe is street/conscious. It probably would have more of an overall impact if this was released around the time Saigon had major buzz…this is still a stellar debut. COP THAT!”

Talib Kweli- Gutter Rainbows

“It took me sometime to give this one a listen. I read a lot of reviews online and the overall consensus was mediocre. It wasn’t until I sampled a couple of tracks on I-tunes that I started to come to my senses. This album is nice! Gutter Rainbows contains a more soulful sound than his previous works. I like it. It doesn’t sacrifice the integrity of Talib. Talib is Talib on this one, and maybe that’s what the detractors dislike. With guest features from the likes of Sean Price and Jean Grae…it’s what you expect…but what’s bad about that. Support it…”

Slaughterhouse- The Slaughterhouse EP

“Fresh off their new deal with Shady Records, Slaughterhouse (and Eminem) are poised to bring skill back to the mainstream. The group is composed of MCs Royce Da 5’9, Crooked I, Joe Budden, and Joell Ortiz. This Ep, in a lot of respects, is better than their debut. The song selection and order work well for a 6 track onslaught. One can only hope that the album will feature the kind of group song variation that is a mainstay of groups like Wu-Tang Clan. This is a nice appetizer before the album.”

Game- Purp & Patron (Disc 1 & 2)

“I am not a fan of Game mixtapes. They always lack the polish and spirit of his album releases (understandably so). This one is different. The are a wide variety of beats, guest, and flows delivered by Game. Does he name drop? Of course he does. Lol! That’s not why I like him though. There, quite honestly, is no one like him in the rap game. West coast gangster is primarily his. Out of 2 disc I only skipped 4 songs. NOT BAD.”

Cookin’ Soul & Don Cannon present Nas- The Lost Tapes 1.5

“This one came out on X-Mas Eve 2010. I just heard it a week a go. If you are waiting for the official release of The Lost Tapes 2 by Nas, this will hopefully hold you down. Cookin’ Soul and Don Cannon did a masterful job of taking released and unreleased Nas lyrics and pairing them with soulful tracks. Nas fans should add this to the rotation.”

Peace…