Sunday, January 28, 2007

Debunking the myth that T.R.O.Y is the greatest Hip-Hop song of all time.

Author's Preface: I know my homey G. Mittens will be ready to have my neck hanging from a noose for this, but it has to be said.

I go back to the Video Music Box/Yo! MTV Raps days, so this has nothing to do with me not respecting history. “T.R.O.Y” was one of the best songs from the early 90s, but there's an unwritten oath stating this is the one song that will represent what "real hip-hop" was until the end of time. Saying “T.R.O.Y” is the greatest of all time hearkens back to the corny "when did you fall in love with hip-hop?" question from Brown Sugar (Note: I wrote that sentence weeks ago, since which point a female friend playing this song actually said "This reminds me of when I first fell in love with Hip-Hop") I'm sure that true disco heads don't consider "Stayin' Alive" to be that genre's greatest song.

Don't get me wrong, it's classic and it was great for its time just like "I Used To Love H.E.R" was great for its time, but I have no desire to hear either of those songs possibly ever again in life.”T.R.O.Y” is to Hip-Hop what Frankie Beverly featuring Maze's "Before I Let Go" is to classic soul. Say there was a Family Feud segment where they asked a white clan “Name the top 5 foods black people eat” what's the first answer they would give? Fried chicken of course, and while that may or may not be right (barbecue chicken, mac n cheese, candied yams, collard greens, hello?) it's a little off-putting for that to be THE food associated with my people. That's how I see ”T.R.O.Y” as a die hard Hip-Hop enthusiast, the casual listener who goes to a party here and there might say it’s the greatest but that just doesn’t sit right with me.

Pros: an unforgettable horn loop that starts the song and comes in during the hook, it's the commemoration of a departed loved one, etc. It’s like what The Cosby Show was to (black) sitcoms, a feel good family experience aside from the old head laughing all night about the hookers at the party.

Cons: There are no real epic moments as far as the MC'ing is concerned. People are moreso programmed to love the song than anything else, it's been played out and spun to the point where it's really not that exciting despite the massive "OOOHHHHHHHHHH" that erupts the 1,362 nd time you hear a DJ drop it at a party. 70% of people don’t even know the story behind Trouble T-Roy, they just know that when they hear the infamous Tom Scott sample they absolutely must lose their minds.

5 songs off the top of my head that I feel are greater
The Bridge Is Over -
The Show -
Scenario Remix -
Buddy Remix -
HipHop Junkies

Friday, January 26, 2007

Marc Mac - It's Right To Be Civil

Marc Mac is one half of 4Hero, the legendary outfit from the UK that you should be familiar with by now. I've been up on them a good 4 years now (You NEED their forthcoming release Play With The Changes), but I'm just getting hip to his side work.

While you should do your ears a favor and hunt down Dirty Old Hip-Hop by The Visioneers as well, It's Right To Be Civil is an instrumental album he released last year. Black consciousness spliced over seriously ill beats, this man can do little to no wrong.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Da Backwudz - Wood Work (Sleeper album of 2006)

Shout to my man Greg for making me check this album out.

This is the perfect blend of The Dungeon Family's consciousness and the ignorance of (the T.I. spearheaded) P$C. Strong lyrics & production, hooks, songs with good concepts, humor, seriousness, the complete package.

I actually interviewed Milwaukee Black (CEO of Major Way Entertainment) a year ago and I slept hard, not taking him serious because they didnt have a sizeable buzz. - You Gonna Luv Me (yes, with the Dreamgirls sample)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Talib Kweli – Liberation
Rating - @@@@

Author’s Preface: I used to ride for Kweli like DMX did motorcycles and Boomer. I put him on nearly equal footing with Mos Def in Black Star, he got a pass regardless of histryingtoputoomanywordsintoabar and occasionally coming with questionable lines ("Your girl calls my name out like Clarence Carter, Clarence Carter, Clarence Carter"). I live and breathed “K.O.S. (Determination)”, it pretty much changed my life as an 18 year old. I greatly anticipated Train of Thought and it lived up to the hype, “Wont You Stay” off of Quality is my favorite hip-hop love song of all time. When The Beautiful Struggle came out I gave it @@@@ after one listen, with benefit of the doubt because I felt he just couldn’t come weak at all. In retrospect that album was trash and he’s been suspect with me ever since. The occasional hot verse won’t cut it when you used to bring it like he did, he set the bar too high for himself and expectations too high for fans. This is a precursor to the forthcoming full-length Eardrum (which is supposedly ill) and I’m listening with a completely open and unbiased mind.

>>>For the past few years Talib Kweli has been the unfaithful partner to heads who see him as one of the last hopes for authenticity in the mainstream. It’s been a heavy burden to bear as he wants to sell records and reach the minds of people in the same breath; damn near an uphill battle as he and his audience know that corporate interests don’t lie in being positive or progressive. This has made for a conflicted MC in Kweli, sporadically glorifying violence, weed, and women while not going so far that his shifting gears could be considered a radical 180 degree change. He’s gone from Rawkus to the limelight and understandably has to ride the line down the middle so as not to ostracize potential listeners; meanwhile diehard devotees are left confused as to his next move after his sloppy recent mediocrities. Liberation assumingly finds Talib attempting to show that he still has the left of center in mind, joining forces with backpacker delight Madlib on the boards.

The two make for a solid chemistry as Talib Kweli sounds at home with Madlib’s infinite versatility, the producer churning out all types of sounds, each different from the last. “The Show” opens the album and finds Kweli flexing his standard lyrical braggadocio over soulful horns. “Over The Counter” can be described as futuristic funk, with the political reflections and wisdom Talib has come to be revered for. “Funny Money” discusses promoters, shows, payola, and the politics involved with putting food on the table as he stresses “My kids can’t eat my love of hip-hop”. Guest star Consequence shows up and trades the perspectives of criminal and victim with Talib on the highly creative “Engine Runnin”. Conversely, BlackSmith’s Strong Arm Steady leaves a bit to be desired on “The Function”. As well, “This Happy Home” (the requisite family song) runs a bit too long, but these are miniscule flaws in the face of a concise package.

Kweli still forces a few corny lines every now and then (“Still I’m bringing sexy back like Timbaland and Timberlake”; “I’m the boss like I need Shareefa”), but all in all he’s focused and back in the zone on this project. He made a blog entry warning fans not to expect Eardrum to sound like this or vice-versa, but at least now we know he’s still capable of representing the past shining underground star that we knew and loved.<<<

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The best set Funkmaster Flex has ever spun

This past Christmas night, super rockin Mr. Magic joined in as Flex killed it spinning nothing but old school classics. For anyone who hates or thinks Flex has sold out, this proves he knows what he's doing. He's excitedly rapping along to these songs, and in conversation he's reminiscing about legendary moments from hip-hop's past two plus decades.

Friday, January 12, 2007

T.I. Has Better Hooks Than Your Favorite Rapper

I've stumbled upon the recent revelation that not only are his lyrics and flow superlative to most of the game, but his choruses really cant be faded by many. Whether it's something simple that makes a point, something structured more complex or he's singing the hook in tune with the music, he's taken this crucial aspect of songmaking to great heights. Evidence lies below

Monday, January 01, 2007

Revelations from the book Def Jam Inc.

- That's director Brett Ratner's mom at 2:42 and 2:49

2) Slick Rick and Jam Master Jay almost got into a fight once, ditto for LL Cool J and Rakim

3) Slick Rick also let shots off in the office ceiling and exclaimed "Attention peasants!" when he felt the label wasnt paying him any mind

4) Nice and Smooth pulled guns on Lyor Cohen (thus their blacklisting from the industry) Lyor's response "Motherfucker, if you aint gonna use that gun, put it down."

5) Don Newkirk of "Gas Face" announcer fame was once heavily sweated by Russell Simmons and touted as the next big thing on the label.

6) LL came to Prince Paul to work on Mama Said Knock You Out. It never materialized.

7) Professor Griff called MC Serch a "Fucking Jew bastard" for making fun of him in the Gas Face video. (
A huge fight ensued and Griff was banned from entering the office.

8) Nate Dogg hit Gangsta Drester (One of the guests on Eazy E's Real Compton City G'z) in the head with a golf club. Dude blocked the swing, but still broke his arm in the process and got hit in the head anyway. Bleeding and a trip to the hospital ensued.

All in all it's a decent read (aside from a few typos and factual errors) covering the beginning with Rick Rubin and Russell all the way up until Hov took over the reins of presidency.