Ab-Soul, Abstract Asshole, Black Lip Bastard…

He’s probably the most unknown member of Black Hippy, overshadowed by Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Kendrick Lamar. He’s been out for a few years now and has put in work. I’ve been paying close attention to a lot of artists but Ab-Soul always impresses me with his vision, flows, abstract subjects and drive.  That drive is something you can’t deny this guy has. As he says “more drive than the fastest hooptie“. He really says whatever he’s thinking, Continue reading

Song of the Week (outside of hip hop)

I remember hearing this song a while ago, most likely on tv. Honestly, I forgot that I even had this song on my computer and I need to get the album that this song was off of, Miike Snow. What I like about this song is that it exudes freedom and the carefree attitude. I’m guessing that the album will sound like the music you hear when shopping in Urbanoutfitters. So here’s this week’s selection straight out Sweden the band Continue reading

Throwback: “Hit Em High”

Goodness I used to love this song back in the day. I remember my cousin used to bump this out of his box when we used to play ball at his crib. The great days of hip hop! I thought LL Cool J had the toughest verse ever written ha! The end of Busta’s verse was excellent. I’m going to have to see who produced that jam, no pun intended. Those were the days when Coolio was still relevant, Gangsta’s Paradise, smh. matter of fact peep this Continue reading

Skin: A Film by Ryan Hope

Skin from Ryan Hope on Vimeo.

I have been waiting forever for this to go public and come to the states like forever! Skin is a documentary that looks at the art side of tattoos. Ryan Hope documents a project for Garage Magazine where they choose random people to receive a free tattoo at will from Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Raymond Pettibon. I do have to note that some of the scenes contain some mature content. The visuals are dark but contemporary at the same time. There’s a scene in the doc that one of the art business men tells of an artist who tattooed pigs, yes pigs, when they were alive. Then once the pig died or was slaughtered they were skinned and the skin was stretched and put on a canvas. Crazy right, well it didn’t stop there, evidently the same artist has tattooed a human being and once that person passes on, the same thing will happen. The music used in the documentary matches the personalities of the people who were chosen and Ryan Hope makes everything flow well together. I was entrapped by this documentary the whole time.

The New Moon Rode High In The Crown Of The Metropolis

In hip hop, where you’re from appears to be treated like a badge of honor. You hear it all the time in tracks, “Yo I’m from [enter city name here]”. A lot of rappers big up their cities, repping it like it’s the place to be but here, the opposite is done. Blackstar and Common point out all of the ills of their environment and the effect it’s had of their people’s lives in “Respiration”. The picture that this track paints isn’t a pretty one. Is it accurate? You tell me. Respiration, breathing, “a breathing city”, you hear it at the beginning
of the track in spanish, “Escuchela.. la ciudad respirando”. The city is a beast, an animal.

“The shiny Apple is bruised but sweet and if you choose to eat…you could lose your teeth, many crews retreat” –Mos Def

This concept isn’t a new thing though, only it’s done a different way. Giving vivid descriptions of the NY environment has been tackled a lot but the few great standouts that come to mind, Nas covered it from a first person view in “N.Y. State of Mind“, Jay-Z showed the good in “Empire State of Mind“, AZ and Rakim touched on it from an illuminati perspective in “We Can’t Win“. Its a love/hate relationship for sure, Blackstar and Common focus on the latter which is the reality of two cities, New York and Chicago. More so from a political, mental, cultural point of view, expected from legendary conscious MCs. Young at the time, it seemed that this was them going through growing pains realizing the real city that they really grew up in. It comes off as a brain dump of views and feelings as Mos Def repeats “so much on my mind, I just can’t recline.” It almost seems like they are saying “this is why you shouldn’t come here”. The lyrical content is powerful, meaningful and thought-provoking, touching on various subjects but it also keeps your head with a steady bob.

“Look in the skies for God, what you see besides the smog is broken dreams flying away in the wings of the obscene” –Talib KweIi

That bob would be because of the Hi-Tek instrumental. The track wouldn’t be fully a classic without excellent production. Hi-Tek provides a great backdrop to the three substance-filled verses. I often get a eerie feeling when hearing the beginning sounds. It almost sounds like the same sample chop but played at different levels. The bassline is another thing that stands out, its a little different than what we’re used to hearing. It’s at a different rhythm and tone, kinda like how you hear on Biggie’s “Warning“. Respiration is one my favorite beats because of the sounds used, so complex yet so simple. Check the instrumental below. I assume the opening Style Warz excerpt was put in to capture the essence of what was to come and the spanish speaking female added on even more. This is a well crafted track, the video was just as good. Black and white, city shots, big coats and hoodies, Kweli on “shitty steps”, you gotta love it.

“Its deep I heard the city breath in its sleep, a reality I touched but for me, its hard to keep” – Common

“Respiration” is just one of those tracks for me that just represents good music to the fullest, it will never get old and it was always bang. I get the same great feeling every time I hear it, a flawless track.

Blackstar ft Common – Respiration (prod by Hi-Tek)

Respiration Instrumental

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeTnog5RRQo&ob=av2e]

The new moon rode high in the crown of the metropolis
Shinin, like who on top of this?
People was tusslin, arguin and bustlin
Gangstaz of Gotham hardcore hustlin
I’m wrestlin with words and ideas
My ears is picky, seekin what will transmit
The scribes can apply to transcript, yo
This ain’t no time where the usual is suitable
Tonight alive, let’s describe the inscrutable
The indisputable, we New York the narcotic
Strength in metal and fiber optics
Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of workin class watches
Skyscrapers is collosus, the cost of living
Is preposterous, stay alive, you play or die, no options
No Batman and Robin, can’t tell between
The cops and the robbers, they both partners, they all heartless
With no conscience, back streets stay darkened
Where unbeliever hearts stay hardened
My eagle talons STAY sharpened, like city lights stay throbbin
You either make a way or stay sobbin, the Shiny Apple
Is bruised but sweet and if you choose to eat
You could lose your teeth, many crews retreat
Nightly news repeat, who got shot down and locked down
Spotlight to savages, NASDAQ averages
My narrative, rose to explain this existance
Amidst the harbor lights which remain in the distance

So much on my mind that I can’t recline
Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathin
Chest heavin, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

[Talib Kweli]
Breathin in deep city breaths, sittin on shitty steps
We stoop to new lows, hell froze the night the city slept
The beast crept through concrete jungles
Communicatin with one another
And ghetto birds where waters fall
From the hydrants to the gutters
The beast walk the beats, but the beats we be makin
You on the wrong side of the track, lookin visibly shaken
Taken them plungers, plungin to death that’s painted by the numbers
With Krylon applied pressure, cats is playin God
But havin children by a lesser baby mother but fuck it
We played against each other like puppets, swearin you got pull
When the only pull you got is the wool over your eyes
Gettin knowledge in jail like a blessing in disguise
Look in the skies for God, what you see besides the smog
Is broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene
Thoughts that people put in the air
Places where you could get murdered over a glare
But everything is fair
It’s a paradox we call reality
So keepin it real will make you casualty of abnormal normality
Killers Born Naturally like, Mickey and Mallory
Not knowing the ways’ll get you capped like an NBA salary
Some cats be emceeing to illustrate what we be seeing
Hard to be a spiritual being when shit is shakin what you believe in
For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted
I’m asking if y’all feel me AND THE CROWD LEFT ME STRANDED
My blood pressure boiled and rose, cause New York niggas
Actin spoiled at shows, to the winners the spoils go
I take the L, transfer to the 2, head to the gates
New York life type trife the Roman Empire state


[Spanish speaking woman] Escuchela.. la ciudad respirando

Yo…on The Amen, Corner I stood lookin at my former hood
Felt the spirit in the wind, knew my friend was gone for good
Threw dirt on the casket, the hurt, I couldn’t mask it
Mixin down emotions, struggle I hadn’t mastered
I choreograph seven steps to heaven
And hell, waiting to exhale and make the bread leavened
Veteran of a cold war It’s Chica-I-go for
What I know or, what’s known
So some days I take the bus home, just to touch home
From the crib I spend months gone
Sat by the window with a clutched dome listenin to shorties cuss long
Young girls with weak minds, but they butt strong
Tried to call, or at least beep the Lord, but didn’t have a touch-tone
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, you gotta mush on
Some of this land I must own
Outta the city, they want us gone
Tearin down the ‘jects creatin plush homes
My circumstance is between Cabrini and Love Jones
Surrounded by hate, yet I love home
Ask my God how he thought travellin the world sound
Found it hard to imagine he hadn’t been past downtown
It’s deep, I heard the city breathe in its sleep
A reality I touch, but for me it’s hard to keep
Deep, I heard my man breathe in his sleep
A reality I touch, but for me it’s hard to keep

[Mos Def and Crew]
So much on my mind I just can’t recline
Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Yo how the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathing
Chest heavin, against the flesh of the evening
Kiss the Ide’s goodbye, I’m on the last train leaving

Forgotten Great Albums: Busta Rhymes – When Disaster Strikes

I remembered when this joint dropped, I was a young blood at the time. My crew was starting to get into that real street music. I remember one of my homies’ older brothers put me on this album. I knew of Busta from his work with A Tribe Called Quest and other various artists. But when I got my first listen of this album right here, it totally turned my life around for a good 3 months. I remember that my man let me borrow this joint, and I was “supposed” to return it to him when he brought my All Eyez on Me CD back to me. Well I fronted on him and I kept his joint, I ain’t no sucka so he returned my CD too or we was gonna have a problem. This Busta Rhymes cat was just on another level in my mind at the time. All I could do was lay back on my bed in my room with this CD in my box on “Repeat All”. I would be laying there tossing my Spalding basketball up and down (working on the form of course) and just soaking up game. Those were the good ol days, pause the CD, go to the kitchen and make a bologna sandwich, and get right back at it. Some of those tracks even had me going “woo hah”. Yo here’s how I remember the album track by track. Continue reading