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Posts Tagged ‘Hip Hop’

Dedicated to the man who should win every award at every BET Music Awards Show. Listen and/or weep.

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Off of The Return of the Magnificent 

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I’ve been a huge fan of J. Cole ever since I first heard him in 2010.  Although I don’t listen to him with the same degree of obsession that I had in the past, I still consider him to be one of the most talented artists in the game right now, and when he’s done, I expect him to be up there with the Jordans of hip hop.

“Is She Gon Pop” is subtly one absolutely amazing track that starts in one place, takes a detour, and then returns to its starting point.  While it initially seems like a prototypical rap track about slaying biddies as a famous rapper, J. Cole abruptly pulls our expectations from underneath us and turns the song into a critique about societal priorities, and our susceptibility to distractions that potentially sidetrack our own growth.  With lines such as “I swear if n****s put half of what they put in chasing ass into a craft, by now you’d be famous and rich“, Cole exposes his opinion regarding the overarching priorities of his peers. He continues to profess his own philosophy, which includes chasing your ambition, “paper”, and the aspiration to “change your neighbors”.  By the end of the song, Cole reveals his final – albeit explicit – explanation that as your dreams come to fruition, your authenticity will make you just as appealing as someone who actively looks to impress people.

Some may have a “phone full of bitches”, but Cole – the one who has pursued his goals, and the life he’s dreamed of – has a chick who wants to “fuck my word” and “ride my nouns” – the fruition of his hard work. The ending may be vivid, but given the clarity of his message and the genuine manner in which he approaches the song and its content, I see the explicit lyrics, not as an attempt to be vulgar, but instead as a raw and uncut glimpse into Cole’s mind.

This track is just another example of how Cole approaches his work from an entirely different angle as other rappers – he is both introspective, honest, aware, yet still raw and not corny (a flaw that can be a side-effect of overly aware rap).  Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and read the lyrics, here.

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As one of the biggest Seattle hip hop fans not from Washington (not officially verified), I was beyond happy to come across Sam Lachow and Raz Simone.  Although they have plenty of solid songs together, my favorite is “Nothing’s Gonna Change”, a youthful anthem about hometown loyalty and paying homage to the homies.

Whenever I enter a transitionary phase in life – graduating high school, going to college, moving out, ending a relationship – I always seem to reflect on what’s been, what I’m leaving and about the place I’m headed to.  Before crossing this figurative bridge, connecting one chapter of my life to a new one, I acknowledge the obvious changes certain to come, while simultaneously wondering about the more subtle ones impossible to predict.  On the brink of genuine fame, an achievement destined to drastically change anybody’s life, I sense this same stage of rumination in Raz and Sam’s “Nothing’s Gonna Change”.  Coming to terms with the fact that your life is nearing a fork-in-the-road can spark all sorts of emotions, yet whether you’re sad, invigorated, or something entirely different, it’s refreshing and something to be appreciative of.  “Nothing’s Gonna Change” reminded me that a song doesn’t need to be sad or dark to be honest, and I hope you enjoy it too.

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SPZRKT has made an impression on us at Beatspill, so I’m sorry to write up another post about the artist, as I really don’t want to beat this tape to death.  Alas, I feel like I must.

“The Feel II”, featuring a guest verse by John Givez and production by Maj0r, is another gem on his last project, Lucid Dream, that one just can’t afford to overlook.  The beat has a groove and sense of funk reminiscent of old school rap, and the artists don’t disappoint.  SPZRKT’s smooth hook will spark your interest, and John Givez makes sure he never gives it back.  From start to finish, “The Feel II” is a rhythmic track great for sunny days and chillin with the homies.  Enjoy.

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Although Seattle doesn’t trigger the same reaction as Brooklyn or Compton, in the hip hop world at least, it’s a city that deserves immense amounts of credit due to its unique and refined sound.  The amount of talented artists from this area is genuinely impressive, and just as noteworthy is the distinct sound they all carry.  From the rappers that I’ve been exposed to, the lyrics are generally introspective and aware.  Additionally, the production is truly special.  Some of the best producers in the game such as Ryan Lewis, Sabzi, and Budo all hail from Seattle.  “Come On”, is the product of two of the aforementioned producers, Budo and Ryan Lewis.  The beat is full of energy and addictive as hell.  Enjoy.

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I’ve seen the name Village of Pharaohs around quite a bit on various blogs, and although I’ve never written about them, I recall a favorable impression on my ears.  Today, I was scanning DJ Booth, and given my positive memories of the group and song title (it indicated a personal track, which is somewhat a soft spot of mine), I gave it a listen – I came away impressed with the group, much more so than I had before.

The beat in “I Am” isn’t overwhelming, yet the ever increasing number of layers builds until the beat becomes a dynamic and changing instrumental.  The rappers are no slouches either, as they pour out their thoughts through incessant syllables and rhyme schemes.  Keep an eye out for these guys, as they have the potential to fill a valuable underground niche for some time.  Enjoy.

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At first listen, “Grindin’ Interlude” may seem a bit off or unorthodox; however, as the play counts mount,  Chrystopher’s intonations make more sense, and the ambient beat, which at one point was smooth and calm, becomes charged and full of emotion.  As two minute glimpse into the motivated mind of Shawn Chrystopher, “Grindin’ Interlude” is another example of the artists talented.  Chrystopher produces and writes the lyrics to his tracks, and as a result creates incredibly authentic pieces of work.  Enjoy.

Chrystopher’s intonations can be difficult to understand at first, so you can find the lyrics to the song here.

 

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SPZRKT, obviously pronounced “Spazzy Rocket” (according to his website), is an up-and-coming artist out of San Antonio.  DJ Booth just dedicated a post pertaining to his remix of JSMN’s “Love and Pain”, and although I wasn’t a huge fan of the individual track, I was still intrigued enough to go check out his other material.  After looking through his most recent release, Lucid DreamI came away impressed.  Of the songs I listened to (his entire soundcloud), I was most impressed with “The Motion”, a track with an incredibly addictive beat, and just as catchy hooks.  SPZRKT puts his combination of skills on display as he sings and raps relentlessly.  @Elhae, the featured artist, adds his own touch on the song just before its conclusion, and shouldn’t be overlooked in his own right.  Great track though, and hope you enjoy.

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Exercise: what do the following tracks have in common?

What do the above tracks have in common?  They’re the exact same song all attributed to the wrong artist.  As such the mystery track of the day goes to “Make Daddy Proud” – a song whose notes and melodies were separated from its creator at birth.  Misattributed to a variety of different artists, ranging from  Drake to The Weeknd, to Crew and even A.S.A.P. Rocky.  The sad truth about this song, is that somehow, somebody absolutely screwed up, and as it proliferated through blogs, youtube channels, soundcloud streams, and even Rap Genius, nobody corrected it.

As I scanned the web, I found it’s true identity, “MDP” by Lashaun Ellis and Johnny Rain.  Although the association with Drake has surely given the track a degree of exposure that would’ve been unattainable were it still connected to the underground artist, it’s still unsettling to think that this mistake has grown to the extent that it has.  In one instance, the track is entitled “The Crew Part 2”, is written by Drake, and has 1.15 million views.  Lashaun Ellis, the song’s original artist, has several videos on youtube, but his highest count is only 85k, representing a disparity in views between the real and fake videos of over 1 million.  I don’t want to imply that 85k views is anything to overlook, as it’s clearly a tremendous achievement, but were this song to be properly cited, Ellis would be subject to considerably more fame than he is right now.

It’s quite an interesting issue, as the more I think about it, more questions arise.  For example how often does this sort of mistake happens? And if it’s often, do I have songs in my library that are robbing the original artist of credit?  Was this a ploy by Lashaun’s management to expedite the track’s spread through the internet.  It also makes me question pop music fans, for if you mistake a piece of music to have your “favorite” artist, when, in reality, he doesn’t even make an appearance, your fanship should be revoked immediately.

I’ll never be able to answer these questions, but it was an interesting adventure to have today, and I’m glad I could attempt to shed some light on this issue.

Here’s the original from Ellis’s real soundcloud.

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