“Oh Sheit”!!!

N-n..no, I wasn’t cursing. I was quoting the new Thundercat track, doofus. Well kind of new, on second thought. I’m four days late to the punch (maybe I’m the doofus). But I had to throw this up on the blog anyways because it’s awesome and I want the world to hear it. I’ve imbedded Thundercat’s FUNKY new groove below. Party people in the house! Where you at?! This new track will be part of Thundercat’s sophomore album, Apocalypse (which is co-produced by Flying Lotus!!!) Get ouuuta here. Shit’s going to be HOT. I swore that time…

 

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Mac Miller released the 2nd single yesterday off his upcoming album Watching Movies with the Sound Off. The new cut is called “Watching Movies” and is produced by Mac under the pseudonym Larry Fisherman. “S.D.S.” is better because of the production (Flying Lotus vs. Larry Fisherman? No-brainer). This song is alright. I’m not really a fan. However, I’m anxious for this album to drop because Pharrell produces a track on it, and Action Bronson and Tyler the Creator come on as guests. Can’t wait.

 

cudidone

Kid Cudi had another chance to revive his career. After listening to his third and final studio album under GOOD Music my feeling that it would fall short has been reassured. Cudi slipped further into irrelevance, as he pumped out another flat album with a couple of decent individual tracks at best.

Cudi set the bar high with the immediate success that Man on the Moon I brought, and each release since has contributed to a slow decline. Man on the Moon II was a solid album, but not superb. Next came WZRD, which garnered great first week numbers, but once people actually listened the album, it flopped. Now we have Indicud, the latest installment in a series of disappointing Cudi records.

The album opens with a typical, cheesy, industrial-sounding instrumental. It is supposed to signify just as the title states: “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi” but in reality exposes him as a mediocre producer.

 

 

In the past Cudi’s moany vocals were beneficial, and his content reached his listeners. However, since losing the lonely stoner persona, Cudi has seemed to lose touch with his audience. Evidence of this is noticeable in his second track, “Unfuckwittable,” where he is trying too hard to bring that back.

 

“ Keep on searching for love /

Who else is incomplete?”

 

It may be one line, but it tells a lot. Solitude is a theme in Cudi’s earlier work, and it’s clear he’s trying to revert back to it. Cudi’s backtrack to his earlier success is also noticeable in his references to his desire to smoke weed again, which he declared he was quitting a couple of years ago. He raps in the hook:

 

“I need smoke /

I need to smoke /

Who gon’ hold me down now /

I wanna get high y’all /

I wanna get high y’all /

Need it, need it to get by y’all /

Can you get me high u’all?”

 

It seems more like a subtle way for Cudi to accept that his stoner charm was the trait that won his audience in the late 2000s. It comes off as a desperate attempt to relate to his listeners like he was once able to. In Indicud, his marijuana references seem synthetic after distancing himself from the drug. Quitting may have helped him personally, and that is always most important. But career-wise, it was a bad move. Part of his success rode on his marijuana use – high school kids were a large percentage of his fan base, and more importantly that’s the character he came into the game with as a solo artist. After his declaration of independence from weed, he began to fall off the map while other artists were coming up and stealing the spotlight.

But that is sort of nit-picking. A major contributing factor to Cudi’s downfall and the disappointment of Indicud is his diminished production line-up. Having a variety of producers (Emile, Plain Pat, Kanye West, No I.D., Dot Da Genius, Free School & Ratatat, among others) made for amazing music early in his career. Part of the reason is because the influence was diverse, and inspiration bounced between the multiple people working on the album. On his newest work, Cudi – a decent producer at best – produced every beat, resulting in repetition that made it hard for me to get through the entire album.

For instance, the mid-album instrumental track “New York City Rage Fest.” There was nothing to it. A couple of claps over some keys looped for about a minute without much else. Then fifty-five seconds of some added sounds that pushed the tempo up, but didn’t really contribute to the album. There were no vocal samples, and nothing musically compelling. It didn’t pull me in, and neither did the opening instrumental “The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi.”

 

 

And since I brought it back up, he practically recycled that beat for the song, “Red Eye.” The two beats have a very similar industrial sound. Again, Cudi handling the production by himself was a mistake. There was too much repetition.

 

 

Thank the rap lords for RZA, because he saved the day by speaking on “Beez.” He killed that beat – which had that industrial sound again. Mix it up! Talk about beating a dead horse.

 

 

While his cult fan base may still exist, it’s a small army. Moreover, he’s losing soldiers with every record he puts out. Cudi seems intent on making music despite his popularity. To each his own, I guess. Just don’t expect anyone to buy it.

Loving the bass to begin this song; great way to start off this week’s Mixtape Monday. Casey Veggies is a solid rapper who has worked with Mac Miller and was a former member of Odd Future. This track dropped last week. Not his best, but still a solid cut.

 

 

Never really got into French Montana, but I’m a fan of this song. Sometimes the dubstep influenced beats compliment vocals, and I give it the nod here. The vocal samples are easy on the ears.

 

 

Favorite new track right here. Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson. Jazz beat. I love pianos in hip-hop. Sidenote: I get really hyped whenever Action Bronson starts rapping. I’ve become a huge fan ever since seeing the video for “The Symbol.” Shit had me laughing.

 

 

It seems like Hova has been putting out music left and right lately. Recently, he vented his frustrations with the media over his trip to Cuba, and now a cut off the Great Gatsby soundtrack comes out. This one dropped last week as well. Jay attacks the beat; he ‘goes in’ so to speak, but I personally am not a fan of this one. But I do this for you guys (and girls), So I’m posting it for you to form your own opinion. Enjoy..?

 

 

OAKLAND STAND UPPPPP! The Hieroglyphics are BACK! This track, “Gun Fever” comes, “In the midst of a nationwide highly controversial debate about gun control,” As stated in the Youtube video’s description. This is what I love about the old school groups – whenever the speak, it’s worth listening to. Yes, I’m being that ‘golden age kid’ again. Can’t help it. And the scratches help bring that old school, street rap style apparent. This single will be on the group’s new album The Kitchen. Keep an eye out for it.

 

 

This next track proves the point I made above. Watch the first 20 seconds and you can already tell. This one features two more 90s rappers: RA & Talib Kweli. Up and coming producer, Mr. Green, put down a mouth watering beat, then The Rugged Man and Kweli spilled some nasty verses over it. More piano fingers in this one. And the hard scratches certify it an underground vibe. It’s been out a week and I’ve already repeated this one 27 times. I tally it on Itunes, no shame.

 

 

YO! That’s a rap. I have a gang of reviews coming out soon. I’m in the process of reviewing Ghostface Killah, Snoop Lion, & J. Cole’s new projects. My review for Indicud drops tomorrow. So stop by, spend some time with 92 ’til Infinity. Share your thoughts.

 

Here’s some hip-hop treats to pull your mind from finals for a bit & reward your musical taste buds.

No theme this week, just a random mix of some hot stuff I’ve been playing loudly this week.

 

A lot of praise for Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City but I’m a huge fan of Kendrick’s 1st album, Section.80. It undersold, which is a shame. But sales aren’t everything. The underground shook when Section.80 dropped, and the reception was an accepting nod. This track is one of the diamonds on the project.

 

 

Moooooore Kendrick – with a big splash of J. Dilla. Ohhhhh that SOUL. Can’t you feel it?!

 

 

Underground classic, from a classic underground duo.

 

 

What’chu know about that Aussie rap? Bliss N’ Eso is an ill group. Worth more than a listen – go check their discography.

 

 

Gotta have me some Busta Rhymes once in a while. Also can’t seem to escape Dilla. Here’s another he produced (as a member of the Ummah).

 

 

Not sure what it is about Choo; he’s just a likable artist. He’s on the up-and-up, so pay attention to him.

 

 

AHHH I did it again. More J. Dilla to close this edition of Mixtape Monday out. I played this version (the original has vocals over it) on my radio show last weekend. Filthy beat.

 

 

I’m not the biggest Mac Miller fan. Lately, I haven’t been into his music at all. I liked his KIDS and Best Day Ever mixtapes simply because they were fun, positive, enthusiastic – and as a teenager in high school, I could relate to a lot of it. As I’ve grown out of high school, and since Mac Miller has progressed in his career, I’ve lost touch with his music. I respect his hustle, his persistence with rap, and his knowledge of hip-hop, but I don’t get excited about his music like I used to. I like that he’s experimented with music – along with rapping he’s been producing, and has put out a jazz EP under the pseudonym Larry Lovestein. He’s bold, and I respect that. But in terms of rapping, he’s nothing more than mediocre.

With that said, yesterday he dropped the music video for a track he made with the production of Flying Lotus. YES. Finally something I really enjoy from Mac Miller lately. The video is strange, weird, creative, humorous, sarcastic. There’s always something you can appreciate in an artist. I’m exercising that thought. Mac Miller will always annoy me in some way, but I do respect him.

 

Finals week has almost pushed Mixtape Monday off the to-do list. I’ve been busier than ever, but didn’t want to disappoint and not come through with some tracks this week. With just over an hour before Tuesday hits, I’m running it close. It wasn’t pretty, but I’ve managed to find enough time to gather some music for you. Not much description given the circumstances, but sometimes it’s best just to let the music do the talking. Enjoy.

 

One of my favorite Macklemore songs.

 

 

Funny, clever song…

 

 

Huge fan of the Blue Scholars. Intricate rhymes, awesome flow and conscious lyrics over smooth beats. Saw them live at Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Ill show. (The next song is from Sol, who opened the show for them).

 

 

 

Another awesome underground duo. Rapper RA Scion has an ILL flow, and unique voice. And Sabzi, who is on the production for Common Market is also the producer for the Blue Scholars. Small world.

 

“Why do bad things happen to good people? Seems that life is just a constant war between good and evil.”

 

That was most likely the sentiment of all those involved with hip-hop when MC Keith Elam – the very person who spoke those words – passed away. Elam, known in the hip-hop world as Guru, died on this day – April 19th – three years ago.

His name was an acronym, which stood for “Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal” – and he had plenty of rhymes, indeed.

A Roxbury, Massachusetts native, Guru’s career took off with his founding of Gang Starr in 1985. Gang Starr began in Boston as a hip-hop group consisting of various rappers and producers. However, the it released a handful of records that failed to receive much attention. The group inevitably split in 1989, leaving Guru as the only member willing to pick up the pieces. He found the perfect fit in Houston, Texas native Christopher Martin – better known as DJ Premier [I’ll refer to him as Premo] – who would soon become one of the best hip-hop producers of all time.

Along with Gang Starr, Guru did some solo work – most notably his experimental fusion of live jazz music and rap in a series of albums titled Guru’s Jazzmatazz. From 1993 to 2007, Guru released four volumes. He worked with jazz musicians such as Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis, Lonnie Liston Smith, Roy Ayers, among others.

He also scored guest appearances from Slum Village, Pharrell, Erykah Badu, Big Shug, Common, Macy Gray, The Roots, Bilal, and others.

In Vol. 1 (1993), Guru speaks about the project:

“Peace yo, and welcome to Jazzmatazz –an experimental fusion of hip-hop and live jazz. I’m your host the Guru. That stands for “Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal.” Now I’ve always thought of doing something like this, but I didn’t want to do it unless unless it was going to be done right, know what I’m saying? Because hip-hop, rap music, it’s real. It’s musical, cultural expression based on reality; and at the same time, jazz is real and based on reality.”

Here’s a cut off Vol. 3 (2000), featuring Erykah Badu.

 

 

But with the addition of Premo in 1989, Gang Starr would become most critical to Guru’s legacy. With himself as the rapper and Premo as DJ and producer, Gang Starr grew to be loved by underground hip-hop fans everywhere. The newly organized duo pumped out its debut album in 1989 with the release of No More Mr. Nice Guy. The album displayed the jazzy samples and eye-crossing scratches of Premo, while showcasing Guru’s talents as an uplifting, positive rapper who could also pack a punch full of attitude with braggadocious bars. No More Mr. Nice Guy set the tone for what would be fourteen years of classic, underground hip-hop.

 

 

 

Gang Starr went on to create five more studio albums from 1991 to 2003. The duo drew massive attention from the hip-hop community and helped construct the reputation of East Coast rap. Guru’s self-described smooth, but rugged monotone delivery captivated listeners around the world. I considered the 1998 album Moment of Truth to be the most popular Gang Starr record (and my personal favorite – so yes, there is some bias). The title track, along with “You Know My Steez”, “Above the Clouds”, and “Next Time” are among the most recognizable cuts from Gang Starr.

 

 

I remember when my brother brought home Dave Mirra’s Pro BMX 2 for our Playstation2. That was the first time I heard Gang Starr, and it was this song. Even at the clueless age of eight years old, I was still impacted by “Moment of Truth”. The words caught on, and I began rapping Gang Starr lyrics around the house (of course without the swears because the game censored them). It was really my first taste of 90s rap. In hindsight, I owe a lot to the late 90s and early 2000s video games for introducing me to rap. Games like Dave Mirra, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, and NBA Live introduced me to Tribe, Gang Starr, Rage Against the Machine, Naughty By Nature, and Public Enemy.

It was a time when I was too young to find that music on my own, and of course my parents wouldn’t buy albums for me because of the stigma about rap. But beyond the profanity, “Moment of Truth” is a positives song, and while I lacked specific understanding of Guru’s lyrics, I caught the gist of being honest, reflective, and humble.

 

“Actions have reactions, don’t be quick to judge/

You may not know the hardships people don’t speak of/

It’s best to step back, and observe with couth/

For we all must meet our moment of truth.”

“No one is untouchable, no man is bulletproof /

We all must meet our moment of truth.”

 

Legendary words.

 

 

One of Guru’s best brag raps, “You Know My Steez.”

 

 

Above the clouds features a Premo beat with enough bump to make your heart leap out of your chest. Your head will bob itself. Guru’s voice was perfect for Premier’s raw, rugged, New York style beats. His lyrics in this track are some of his best, in my opinion – playing on godly figures and outer space references. It was a complete package for Guru, too, speaking with captivating flow and commanding delivery:

 

“I Self Lord And Master, shall bring disaster to evil factors/

Demonic chapters, shall be captured by Kings/

Through the storms of days after/

Unto the Earth from the Sun through triple darkness to blast ya/

With a force that can’t be compared/

To any firepower, for its mind power shared/

The brainwave causes vessels to circulate/

Like constellations reflect at night off the lake/

Word to the father, and Mother Earth/

Seeking everlasting life through this Hell for what it’s worth/

Look, listen and observe/

And watch another Cee Cypher pullin’ my peeps to the curb/

Heed the words; it’s like ghetto style proverbs/

The righteous pay a sacrifice to get what they deserve/

Cannot afford to be confined to a cell/

Brainwaves swell, turnin’ a desert to a well/

Experience the best teacher; thoughts will spray/

Like street sweepers Little Daddy street preacher/

Illustrious feature, narrator you select/

Accompanied by Deck plus the DJ you respect.”

 

Gang Starr suffered a fallout after its last album, The Owners, in 2003. I felt it was noteworthy, but unnecessary to the point of this piece. Today I wanted to celebrate the legacy of the late, great Guru for everything he contributed to hip-hop, all the inspiration he provided for me as I grew up and cultivated my love for hip-hop. Three years ago he sadly passed away, but his memory lives on through the musical trail he left with his distinctive voice and sharp rhymes.

Rest In Peace Keith Elam, Aka Guru, we’re all still listening.

ripguru

 

Some more Gang Starr classics…

 

 

Logic just released a new track on his Soundcloud. The song – titled “Roll Call” has racked up over 35,000 plays in the eight hours it has been online.  XXL Magazine, Illroots, The Source, and Logic’s new label – Def Jam Records – have all spread the news of the release.

Logic raps uses a famous beat (this time, Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson”) – something that Young Sinatra is known to do, as evident throughout his string of mixtapes over the past three years. Some other famous beats he has spit over in the past include Milkbone’s “Keep It Real” (The beat behind Big L’s famous freestyle with Jay-Z), Lord Finese’s “Hip 2 da Game”, Biggie’s “Kick In the Door”, among others.

“Roll Call” will be featured on Logic’s newest Mixtape Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forver, which is set to drop on May 7 [Source].

Macklemore is DOING IT!

He was already beginning to see success with songs, “Irish Celebration” “Otherside” and “Wings.” But he hit another level when he dropped singles “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love.” Since those releases, Mack’s career has elevated to mainstream status. He’s been on countless talk shows, sold out countless shows, and topped charts all over the world. The best part is that he’s doing it in the most genuine, humble way – which is a nice change for mainstream music.

I remember when he was playing at 800-person venues and touring in a van.  Since I’ve been listening, I’ve really believed in this guy. And while I’ve been annoyed by the overplaying of “Thrift Shop,” I’m still happy to see how much recognition Macklemore has received. He really deserves it.

Here’s his latest music video, for the song, “Can’t Hold Us” and I was really impressed. I think it’s his best music video so far – There scenery is beautiful, they filmed in a plethora of locations, the shots are on point, and they tweaked the music a little bit, giving it a little extra flavor. Overall great production.

…It’s also nice to hear something other than “Thrift Shop” from Mack, no offense to that song…