Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Internets Best of 2010 Rap

It's the end of the year and ain't shit going down. To be fair we have seen and heard way more dope music than anyone has a right too in one lap around the sun. I'll be devouring things that dropped this year for the next decade. But thats cool, music is sounding great and when the need to debate what was the best goes down? Far better than the feeling of scratching your head asking what did I get down to this year, didn't it all drop years ago? I for one can't get enough new music and struggle with the prospect of balancing out time spent hearing new things versus just enjoying them music I love.

As I prepare to move at the top of 2011 and put together our own best of lists I've been perusing the usual haunts, more so hopping for something new to be delivered than to read yet another list but that's what critics do this time of year. A few sites have impressed me with their choices, my favorite site dropped a list of 50 albums over half of which I'm certain I never heard - got even more listening to do, thank god for the first quarter when nothing drops and we all play catch up with what we missed in the year that was.

What lists have impressed you? If you have never ventured over to No Trivia I highly reccomend Soderbergs sly take and ear on modern hiphop. He resides in B More and sometimes he lets his city influence him more than it would if he lived elsewhere which is ok, it provides a voice for some dope music in a town no one cares about. What you know about that Moodyman? He dropped his list of 25 best rap tunes then went on to mix 'em up and drop off a smooth playing podcast. He sounds like a radio DJ throughout the mix, basically just letting one tune finish and dropping the next one, but hey not everyone can be a DJ and at least this way you are able to actually hear the full song in case you missed any. His best selection in my eyes? The Little Brother jam, that as the title states, is "Tiggalo For Dolo." Don't forget that Phonte has bars, even if he is more concerned with singing a tune these days.

Passion of the Weiss always organizes a pretty serious year end wrap up, you may have already seen it, or clicked the above link to my fav site - yeah I said it, if you are looking for music journalism on the internet focused on forward thinking artists this is the site to visit hands down. Enough stanning, this is about Sach O aka Son Raw's best of the year rap mix. Sach has multiple skills with his hands, not just writing dope pieces on bass music of the future he gets down on the tables behind his computer and in front of crowds every now and then in Montreal. Mixing a tad bit more than Soderberg did and looking at a whole other section of hiphop, listening to these two mixes next to each other you will hear just how wide open hiphop is these days. Lots of dope music coming from so many different angles.

And if the glasses are confusing you just watch this and be ready for one of the dopest projects of 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Willie Joe ft. Dice "Coming Up"



From what I can learn Willie Joe is repping the Bay and Atlanta, dropped an album entitled Focus this past August and my bet is when he was in Seattle for the release party he shot this video. Can't be mad at that. Dope to see visuals of the town from an outsiders perspective. Local singer and emcee Dice holds down the hook for Willie on this track about some things we all understand in this recession.

The download link I was directed too at Dat Piff was no longer active. Speaking of Dat Piff, all aspiring rappers I don't care whose tape you downloaded off the site, do not use Dat Piff to distribute your music. It's wack as fuck and looks tacky. End rant. You can purchase Focus from Willie Joe here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

DaVinci "The Day The Turf Stood Still"

At the end of the day heads want to hear banging beats and dope flows. Some care about content more than others. When you get all three you can’t help but smile. DaVinci is the latest emcee from the bay to attempt to break out the confines of his city and he carries himself with confidence and spits with ease, skills that won’t be taken lightly as his name begins to ring out in other parts of the country.



His project The Day The Turf Stood Still is a pretty dope collection of cuts that have very little in common with much of the output his peers deliver on a regular basis. The first thing to stand out are the thumping beats, far more boom bap than west coast cruising style. This is ok though as DaVinci has a message heavy enough for the deepest of drums. Hit him with your best.

He doesn’t rap fast, he stays in the cut and let’s his thoughts develop. His bars are deeper than they might at first sound, but listen close and his clear pronunciation will have you rewinding for days. He discusses the street life, nothing new to hiphop. Sometimes he does it with a hint of regret other times it’s more a sense of lessons learned from experience.

2010 saw a rise in what I viewed as intelligent gangsters. A number of emcees made a name for themselves walking the line between telling ignorant street tales about exploits and crimes commited in exchange for the demonstration of compelling feeling about the negatives to these actions.

DaVinci addresses gentrification in a manner I’m sure my college professors wouldn’t approve but will probably teach more than a few people how the concept affected them directly. “What You Finna Do” has DaVinci rapping in almost a whisper about D-Boys loosing work as a different class moves into the neighborhoods accustomed to serving. His observations are with merit and have to prompt questions.

He injects slivers of his life in all his tracks, “All I Have” shows him spend three minutes discussing the struggle of acquiring any kind of wealth. Expressing the pain of empty pockets is an expertly chopped sample shouting “All I have in my pocket.” Money is a reoccurring theme, lending credence to the notion it does make the world go round. “Ben” is an awesome song about the journey a dollar can take and what people will do to get it, how fast they can blow it.

At some point in time “gangsta” rap lost any significance and became a blanket term for rap tunes that had no conscious, no accountability, no knowledge. While you can still find more than enough of that, the introduction of artists who want to be gangsters to the system once again is a great addition to the landscape of hiphop in 2011. DaVinci is helping pave that path.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Post Christmas Wrap Up

I'm enroute to work brunch once again after many months away. I told the bartender to be hooking up some champagne in my glass of OJ, hope he remembers! If you took a break from the computer over the holiday you might of missed more than a few things, here are a few jawns that grabbed me.



Kendrick Lamar has only elevated in the months since the release of his stellar O(verly) D(edicated) record. If you missed out on the review or interview peep 'em respectively. Schoolboy Q is the only member of the Black Hippies who hasn't hit us with a great project. With this leak off Setbacks there is no doubt in my mind that he will stand tall with his family.



SL Jones isn't a name I've heard too much outside of a guest verse or two with Killer Mike. Here he calls on the big homie to close out his track. Pill also swings through for a solid 16, dude is becoming my new favorite guest rhyme slanger. SL holds it down, makes me curious what he has coming. This is off a tape he plans to drop in January. The new year is already looking promising and I'm still devouring music from the year that we ain't quite finished with. Gotta love great music!



Speaking of Mike this is some serious hiphop shit right here! Just let that track above play. Yes that is El-P lacing Killer motherfuckin' Mike with a monster of a beat. They are working on an album that shall be released via Adult Swim. I seriously couldn't be more excited for this and it's been more than a hot minute since Jamie Meline's alter ego has gotten me excited in the slightest. Rest assured should this hit the internets faces will be melted while minds are sharpened on the knowledge Killer Mike recites with ease.

And this being our blog and all we did drop a little EP yesterday you might have missed. It's from Brothers From Another and you can learn more here - or just scroll down slightly. I'm outta here, come eat some food at Palisade today and help ease my hatred of the place.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the MO Crew

If all you got was some coal in your stocking here is a little gift to help lift those winter blues! Members Only has teamed up with the two Brothers From Another to deliver their latest EP Two Week Vacation.



Created in the summer time off Rainers and good times these two now college freshman have been home for the holiday break and rocking the town while they can. If you didn't catch em at the Jus Moni show they will be holding it town with the SOTA crew at the all ages get together Sunday night at Nectar. Be there.

In the mean time put this on, relax and feast your ears on some more 206 hiphop goodness!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Music 2010 Roundup

Google hiphop Christmas and this pops up in the image results. I can dig it.

Last night I sat and watched a play. The play was a sequel to the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. It was pretty lame and made me think about my distaste for holiday music. For the holiday in general. But it's Christmas Eve and I'm kicking it with the fam. I need some music that convey's the holiday spirit and still makes me feel sane. Thankfully a number of artists have decided to break us off with some good music this week to help aid in our celebrations.



I'm not overly familiar with Gerald Walker, but I know he has dropped a song or two via the blogosphere that I've bumped. His quick EP A Gerald Walker Christmas dropped on the 20th and I've already played it through many times. It's fun and good music. He picked up some beats that feature bells, strings and soft drums that all equate christmas to my ear. But don't imagine these beats as weak. Far from it. You'll be vibing with him. Lyrically he just talks his holiday shit. About his feelings of what it's about, how he spends it and happiness. Mess with some family members heads with this! Listen to my fav cut off the project above, and download the whole jawn here.

Stones Throw blue eyed soul man Mayer Hawthorne dropped "Christmas Time Is Here" featuring him singing the holiday standard over some melancholy piano keys from Vince Guaraldi. To be honest this song is right on the edge of what I hate about Christmas music. His voice is high here, almost uncomfortably so yet the smooth piano and funny cover help endear this nerdy take on a Christmas song everyone in your house has heard at least once.

Mayer Hawthorne - Christmas Time Is Here by Mayer Hawthorne

Paul White is a name you will be hearing more of in the future. He makes dope sample based instrumentals. I'm curious how traditions vary across the pond, perhaps one day I'll find out. Holiday standards appear to be standards worldwide. He unleashed "We Three Kings" last week, you should enjoy it with some peppermint egg nog.

Paul White - We Three Kings by alexchase

After storming the world with his album that is racking up slots on year end lists, Ye decided to hit us with one more Good Friday jam to help us ring in the 25th of December. "Christmas In Harlem" sees the Good music fam joining up with the Harlem crew to wish their hood a very merry Christmas. The beat is smooth, Kanye found a good chick to hold down the hook and Musiq Soulchild singing at the end makes me remember why I bought all his albums in high school. Vado's verse here might have been the tipping point for me, may be checking for dude in 2011. You can download this from Kanye.

Over the same beat Statik Selektah and his 1982 partner Termanology team up with JFK, Reks & Kali to wish their town the same sentiments. Another fun cut that will probably mean more for those in that local. But hey if you need something a little harder for your Christmas mix this will suit your needs perfectly!



Burn One might have been the most under the radar producer this year lacing many a souther cat with a banger. Right before closing out the year it's only fitting he would drop the instrumental "Figgy Pudding (Spaced Out Xmas Jam)" on our collective conscious. It's heavy. It features guitars ragging in the background over choir vocals. There is a melody here we have all heard every year around this time too, replayed only how a hiphop head could do it. This bangs.



Merry Christmas to you all from us here at Members Only. Have an awesome holiday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wick-It "The Brothers of Chico Dusty"

I guess Christmas time just brings out the mashers. After that ill lil Budos Band and Wu-Tang merger a character known as Wick-It has taken two albums from the top 10 lists and delivered something that might be better than the originals.

A year ago The Black Keys delivered a collaboration with many rappers called Blakroc. It seemed to go fairly unnoticed but some of the recording techniques they picked up in that process rubbed off as they entered the studio to make the next proper Black Keys album. Brothers was the result and it's an album all you hiphop heads should put on and escape for awhile too.

Big Boi not much can be said for. He is the smoothest spitter to ever emerge from the A. Most heads had seemingly written him off the books and resigned themselves to celebrating whatever few verses Andre deemed suitable to bless us with. Then the much discussed solo work from Mr. Patton Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty hit the world like a new Outkast album dropping. And that's pretty much what it is, Outkast minus Andre. It's dope. Sounds like everything the greatest duo ever has given us for damn near 2 decades. I know I'm alone in this thought.

Now enter Wick-It. This guy takes some awesome blues inflected rock that is dustier and grimier than any hiphop record to be released in the last decade (as long as the record is not called Marcberg) and flips the shit into some awesome beats that fit Big Boi like a glove. While the soulful drenched production of Chico Dusty is pretty beautiful and groove inducing, these beat incarnations hit harder and convey more southern authenticity than a a shutterbug.

I don't know how long this will last thanks to our archaic copyright laws, but Wick-It has the tunes on his soundcloud page here.

UPDATE: Thanks to Andrew who works with Wick-It I've discovered the bandcamp page for this project too! Listen below.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Time @ Bandcamp With... Jus Moni

I've been spotlighting a number of talents found via Bandcamp, until now they've been from outside of Seattle. Last week I sat down at the Faire Cafe with Jus Moni to talk about her debut project and her life here in the six. Tonight she releases the project with a special celebration at Chop Suey. If you are still in town you should definitely check it out.

You grew up in Seattle?
Yeah.

Where abouts?
Central District and Becon Hill, between the two.

What were your parents playing, what did you grow up hearing in the house?
Oh, well I've always stayed with my grandmother and she is Cambodian so we've always listened to Cambodian music. But what I gravitated towards Pete Rock, CL Smooth, Pac, Biggie, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, just a mixture.

Do you still listen to the Cambodian music?
Yeah always.

When did you start signing?
It's really corny because people are always like I started singing as soon as I could make sounds, but I probably did. But when I started singing and taking it seriously was probably when I was like 12 or something.

How did you connect with the heads you have on your record?
Me and Lace met early last year, not sure how we met but we just did. It was probably through mutual friends. We finally got the opportunity to work with each other and put out the single and that was great.

With Khingz, he is like my brother, he has always been like my older brother. So finally got the opportunity to make music with him, that's awesome.

Cripsy I don't know that well, I met him through Khingz.

In the days when Laced Up used to be open on Pike and we all just kicked it in the shop and SOTA Boys would come through, well Thad was working there and we didn't know he could rap for hella long. And then Parker and Nate just came along. That was some years ago. I knew that Parker had skills when it came to recording and engineering and all that stuff so I was like let me hit up Parker before I make this project.

With Kuddie, it's funny we have never even met in real life and Kuddie listened to a song I was on the hook of with Thad, Good Sin and Tay Sean. So he heard that and hit me up on twitter saying can I send you some beats? I was like yeah whats up. I was sleeping on his beats for hella long and when I finally got to a point where I was ready to start creating music I hit him up asking for permission and he sent me even more. That's why the majority of the project is all Kuddie.

Your Relationship with Sin goes back too?
Kellen is also like my brother, they all consider me like their little sister but we are really close. He has been in my life for a couple years too.

What can you tell me about the session for that track, "Turn Me On"?
Nooo… Actually, let's see. We were all in the studio and Tay Sean is hella funny. In the studio, even in life he is just hella funny so we always have a good time when we get together. Then Thad, The Good Sin, it was just funny. We came together and wrote our verses together, laid it down, it all came together really quick.

Is that you rapping next to The Good Sin on "Almost Lover"?
Yes.

Are you gonna be rapping more?
I do rap. Sometimes. I only rap for a verse, even half a verse. But I do rap. And I do have a side project called the Game Show Winners. It's Khingz, DJ WD40, Amos, Belicia, and Hollis from Canary Sing. We are called the Game Show Winners and I'm rapping all in the Game Show Winners.

Is that gonna out at some point?
Yes, at the release party we have something special.

Did you have the whole project done in your head before you sat down in the studio with Parker?
Not all of it, most of it was like party music that I had written out to all the beats and when I came to Parker there was still some production that I hadn't written over and that's where he came in, started giving me ideas. I really trust Parker's judgement and his musical genius and so we would go back and forth and stand on tables in the studio and come up with ideas and start spitting out words and it just came together.

So he was providing more than just being a technical recording engineer?
Definitely, that is why he is executive producer on the project. He had so much input with how things sound, what kind of harmonies can I use, how should the song be arranged, can we cut this verse here and put it here, he was all into it. So I appreciate him. I've never been in the studio with somebody who can help me and guide me in the direction I need to go to make an incredible song, so it worked.

What are you working on now, after this?
Game Show Winners stuff. But also I want to travel with Ready For Life, like next year. But I'm sure I'm gonna get back in the studio and start working on the album Spring time next year and it come out early 2012.

Growing up were you hearing Seattle rap?
Probably when I was younger it was like Absynian Creole. It was probably just because I knew Gabe and Khalil. Other than that not really, I wasn't really checking for Seattle rap either. A lot of Seattle Rap is wack.

A lot of what you mentioned was rap, were you listening to much 90s R&B?
Oh Monica? Me and Monica go back, that was my girl. I didn't mess with Aaliyah that much but I sure did know all of her songs lyrics. Not really. I so much gravitated towards just hiphop and rap as my influences and even what I listen to daily. De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest. Tribe Called Quest is probably the biggest influence in my whole music career into even what I do, how I perform, everything.

Have you been doing shows for awhile?
I have, I started doing shows when I was like 12. Seattle young people's project used to host the MLK hiphop show that happened every year in Seattle and we used to have our shows at the Vera Project so we'd rap at the Vera Project or have a guest appearance at like Chop Suey or something for Gabe. It's been a minute, I haven't locked down the town yet but it's been a minute.

What's your set like?
For the release party I'll be performing the first half of my set with DJ WD40 and the second half of my set with Big World Breaks, the live band. So it's gonna be a whole different feel, atmosphere.

Have you rocked with them before?
No, I don't think I have. Maybe with Aaron Walker-Loud just playing drums before at Lo-Fi or something but not with the whole band and just me singing.

So are you trying to get to performing with a live band?
Yeah definitely. I want to travel with the live band shit. I love my DJ, Waylon, he is awesome and he plays cuts. But just the sound of the live band, it's a different experience. You are able to bring people in and take them there.

Are you gonna be getting any DJ WD40 beats in the future?
Well that's the Game Show Winners, all him and Amos.

Is there any modern stuff you are listening to?
Helladope, I fuck with Helladope. SOTA. Now with the modern stuff I really listen to local, modern shit. I fuck with Wiz, not heavy but I fuck with him. Currensy, love that guy. U-N-I, Pac Div, Kendrick Lamar, Diamond District. Those are some cats.

What's your favorite album of the year?
Oh shit… Album of the year would have to be Bilal. The album he just dropped, Airtights Revenge. Album of the year.

Who would you like to collaborate with outside of Seattle?
I really want to work with Exile and Oddisee. Filthy. My whole dream, like I'm living to work with Lauryn Hill one day. If that ever happens, I don't know what I'm gonna do, that's what I'm living for is that opportunity. Also on a lower scale, I'd love to work with Blu, I think that would be incredible. Such talented artists.

Last words?
Come to the show, Dec. 22nd!

---

Thanks to Moni for sitting down with me!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wu-Tang Clan x Budos Band "Wudos Band"

Just touched down in Portland, had to get this up for yall before I get into any antics around Bridgetown.

If you are at our spot I hope you fuck with Wu-Tang Clan, I hope you've grooved to the tunes of Budos Band too but you are forgiven if not. A lot of bands have been doing the modern funk thing for years now, Sharon Jones has helped shed light on her band the Dap Kings, Rakim, Ghost and a few other rappers have toured with The Rhythm Roots Allstars, the El Michaels Affair has backed Raekwon in NYC. These groups and those of their ilk make songs you could be mistaken for thinking RZA, Primo or Pete Rock had flipped in the past.



Producer and engineer Tekst, who has worked with a number of members from the Clan, chopped up some of Budos gritty funk and flipped 'em into some classic sounding material straight out of the Shaolin. Enter the Wudos Band. Download here.

Hipped to via Nerdtorious.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jus Moni "Ready For Life"

With the Seattle hiphop scene steadily growing it’s only natural that voices would emerge more interested in harmonies than flowing. Jus Moni has appeared alongside some of the vibrant faces in our community and is now delivering her debut project Ready For Life.

Like R&B of the 90s, she finds herself with production obviously influenced by the hiphop sound of things. Kuddie Fresh may have left Seattle but Atlanta has only given him some new ideas, new sounds to explore. Tay Sean cooks up a smooth track (“Almost Lover”) that sounds nothing like anything we’ve heard him do yet.

Vocally she is a very interesting talent. The EP doesn’t expose a belting superstar, but she has an awesomely unique voice that you can tell she is still developing and learning to utilize. She doesn’t shy away from sensitive subject matter addressing complicated issues you would envision an aged singer contemplating.

From spitting raps next to The Good Sin on “Almost Lover” discussing what the title says, singing a smooth duet with Lace Cadence about the complexities of emotional openness on “Can We” to penning a very honest song in “Never Too Late”, Moni exposes a lot of herself on this record and only lends credence to the twitter chatter last week of people echoing the sentiment she proves throughout Ready For Life: She is more grown up than most.



While the album is serious and heartfelt, the grooves provided here are very moving in a whole different way and there is no doubt you shouldn't be moving to this. She may make you think, but she is still a young person and there is a calming sense of happiness surrounding both her and her music.

Moni will be celebrating the release of this EP at Chop Suey on Wednesday the 22nd. Be there if you are in town, it's bound to be full of good vibes and great tunes. I hear a Seattle rap super group maybe forming like Voltron too.

Currensy "Daze of Thunder"

Curren$y - Daze of Thunder from Creative Control on Vimeo.

What's a morning without some Spitta? I can hear Swerve rockin to it at the moment and this video is as fresh as any other one he's dropped. Off his upcoming tape Return to the Winners Circle.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2 Rappers. 2 Producers. 2 Albums.

Tick Tock - Co$$ (feat. Sene) from Mupalia Pictures on Vimeo.

The pairing of one emcee with one producer is more commonly used as a marketing ploy these days than it is a demonstration of two artists really collaborating to make some powerful music. There are always the exception’s to the rule and via the internets above ground stature more art is being made than probably ever before in the history of recorded music. Being stuck with one portable music playing device that has no space I chose two albums to join me on my bus ride to work yesterday. I didn’t expect them to be what I was listening to 24 hours later but sure enough I was impressed.

The two albums in question are Revelations, an officially titled “mixtape” from Co$$ and Numonics, and Brown Study, the debut album from female ATL by way of Detroit spitter Boog Brown and fellow 313 representer Apollo Brown on the beats. Both albums represent their towns and demonstrate young voices trying to strike a chord in the ears, hearts and minds of anyone who will give them the time to hear one song.

They are both banging, classic styled boom bap affairs that will have heads rolling shit up and vibing out to the grooves laid down via perspective producers. Apollo Brown wears his city heavy on his sleeve demonstrating the best elements of some grimy Detroit production with lots of samples, hard drums and some smooth melodies which add a certain texture to Boog’s voice.

Numonics on the other hand veers away from much of what you have heard out of the city of angels. Listening to the project (it may be tagged a mixtape but this is all original - it’s an album) you are struck with his keen sense of space within his beats. He utilizes pauses in the action, be it the elimination of a key sample or the cutting of the drums from the track. Sometimes tunes sound like he might have fleshed out what he was listening for with some live players. Or else he is digging and chopping with the best of em.

Like his partner with the beats, Co$$ isn’t coming off like your typical west coast gang baning rapper. He runs with Blu and while I wouldn’t want to compare them in many ways their choice of content is similiar. Co$$ is aiming to show the multifaceted life of people, be them rappers or you or your fam. Everyone lives life and the ability to capture those minute details that make up our experiences on Earth is a skill not all know how to convey.

Boog Brown is a serious chick with no gimmicks but the skill she wields on the mic. I was hipped to her by House Shoes making the comment that woman can’t rap, but Boog has bars. He is right about her skills, but I think there are a few other femcee’s worth something. As straight forward as they can come, you won’t hear her getting flashy or talking nonsense. As she says “every word counts” and she doesn’t seem to forget it throughout the twelve tunes that make up Brown Study. She talks shit and steadily demonstrates why you shouldn’t doubt her claims. But braggadocio alone does not an emcee make. And Boog Brown is an emcee. Listen to her.

Co$$ and Numonics dropped their project with the dopehouse for free, grab it via their post here.

Apollo Brown & Boog Brown dropped Brown Study with Mello Music Group and can be purchased here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Elan Tamara & Dimitri Grimm "For Medals"

Dimitri Grimm is the name of long time beat experimentalist Dimlite. Always ahead of his time when it coms to forward thinking music, he has released albums with Sonar Kollectiv and Stones Throw.

Seeing artists of this level embracing Bandcamp is a pretty awesome. Freedom to do what they feel with music is something any artist has to crave. He just threw up this short collection of three songs entitled For Medals. It features vocalist Elan Tamara who has a unique voice that floats over these beats of his. The beats are anything but really. Full of life and different instruments, sounds are something Dimlite has always toyed with and bent into his own ways. This record shows glimpses of that, but much more traditional musical progressions throughout the songs make this into a futuristic jazz affair in my eyes.

Recorded in 2007 and 2008 he had apparently almost trashed these, lucky for us he changed his mind and they are now available for your listening pleasure.

Download here, stream below.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One Time @ Bandcamp With... Bodega Man

As per usual with the Bandcamp interview, if you missed Bodega Man's album check out the review of it from Monday! I came across this album just as it dropped in February, I'd just gotten a job and was starting to feel a little more on my feet. The job was serving students at my alma mater which didn't excite me much. One perk was I got to play music all night long, can't ever be mad at that! Bodega Man got a few spins there and a few in the whip, his lyrics about the struggle for a dollar mean something.

Introduce yourself? What should people know about Bodega Man?
Well the name is Bodega Man from East side of Long Beach. I’m a very humble emcee and a college grad with a lot to spit for the masses.

You grew up in the same area that Snoop Dogg did, what can you say about this community? Do you still live in that area?
Well, its a multi- racial community which includes Latinos, African Americans, Asians, and Samoans. Everyone in the community has different culture values and conflicts occur when the different cultures clash. The neighborhood is still rough but after a while, you learn to cope with the environment. I don’t live in the area anymore but I still hang around with my friends who live there.

Your first album never saw release due to it's poor recording quality, what did you change in that process to make your second album, The Jazz Album: Recession Thinking, of high enough quality to let the public hear?
A.T. (Average Thought) recommended me to his boy Matt who has a recording studio in his garage after hearing The Bodega Album. Once I recorded a few tracks from The Jazz Album, I kept in contact with Matt from there on. Matt knew what he was doing and gave me some direction for the album as well.



Your producer is A.T., how did you two meet? What is the collaborative process like between the two of you?
A.T. was trying to sell his MPC for 900 bucks and his beats. I didn’t really pay attention to it for two weeks because I had finals. Until one day I looked at his ad again. I wrote down his myspace page info, then I checked it out... man, I was speechless. You don’t come along around people like A.T. His style of beats is what i was looking for because I’ve always admired Jay Dilla beats, Pete Rock, Primo, and Madlib and A.T. had that style. I gave him a call and left a message on his phone. It took him about two days to call back but I had missed his call. He was selling his beats for 150 a pop but I didn’t have that kind of money so we talked it out and managed an agreement. Before he gave me any of his beats, I had to freestyle in front of him at his homeboys pad. When he started to freestyle, I stayed my ass quiet hahahhahhaha. Ever since then everything has been history.

The way A.T. and I handle our collaborative process is by feeling each others idea out or I tell him about the song that I’m writing and he makes a beat or he has a beat ready.

You are a college grad working in the service industry, how does this situation feed your creativity?Well I look at what I have and figure out how I’m going to make it. Even though I’m a college grad I still struggle to make ends meet. Thats when my creative juices start to drip and I’m able to write better music. I feel like people who start from the bottom have that hunger to show the people what its all about.

What did you grow up listening to? Who inspired you to start flowing?
I listen to everything from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, 2Pac, Snoop, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Nas, Wu-Tang, MC Hammer, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, oldies music, salsa etc. The people who really inspired me to flow were Mos Def, J-5, Nas, Common, and Talib kweli.

You mentioned that your next album, tentatively titled The Love Album may be your last. Is it still in the making? Still planning to have it be your exit? What would be next for you after that?
Yes, The Love Album: Love In Love Out will be my last album. I am working on it right now and I’m about three songs deep into already. After this album I’ll work on little tracks or throw out songs here and there when I get inspired to write. After this album I’m planing on producing with my boy Tech Advance and see where that goes. I wouldn’t be the greatest at it but I’ll try my best.

What is the overall vibe of Hip Hop in LA today?
In my opinion I feel like LA has lost its touch in hiphop. Most cats are stuck on their selves trying to make it with corny songs. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the hustle but dudes lost that touch. Once in a while you find true gems and say damn, thats hip hop. Overall, the vibe is alright.

Who are you listening to today?
I’m listening to the new Roots album, John Legend, Jose James, Mayer Hawthorne, Dam Funk, Aloe Blacc, Jay Electronica, Little Brother, Nas, 2Pac’s old material, Kindred The Family Soul, Eryka Badu, Stalley, Bilal, Black Keys, Black Spade, Corinne Bailey Rae, Fashawn, Currensy, Incubus, J. Cole, and Blu.



Outside of music, what are your other hobbies? What do you like to do for fun? Believe it or not one of my hobbies is running long distance. Running makes me clear out my mind and forget about everything and its soothing. For fun, I like to go out and find low key food places to eat, drink good beer, and cruise on my beach cruiser.

Are your parents fans of the music? Supportive of the creativity?
My mother loves the material but doesn’t understand some of my tracks. Sometimes I take my mom to my shows and she enjoys them. She’s very supportive in my creativity. I love her dearly.

What's the story behind the name Bodega Man?
Back in college when I did track and field, I was the run to guy if anybody needed anything cheap. If they needed clothes, cheap food, furniture, drugs... I was the run to guy. So that’s when I started telling people to call me Bodega Man because you could find anything cheap at bodegas. For those who don’t know what’s a bodega, it's a small store in the hood where you could find anything from food, shirts, etc except illegal drugs hahahhahha depending where you go.

Have you been to Seattle? Heard any modern hiphop from the town?
I’ve never been to Seattle but I would like to visit. As far as hiphop from Seattle, I’ve never heard of anyone.



Last words? Advice? Shout outs? Words of wisdom?
My last words are for the people who are struggling and that’s to keep your head up through this recession. They say its over but its only over for the 1 percent who rule over us. The advice I would like to give to any emcee is to believe in your craft, never wait on people, and invest your money on yourself. I would like to give shout outs to my whole family, my sugarr, my friends, A.T., Tech-Advance, Flipa, Kiki iz Da Man from France, Young Dub from Arkansas, Daniel Funaki for his bomb pictures, Ashley Caprice and you could catch her at kbeach.org on Wednesdays from 10am-12pm, the whole Dirty Politicians camp, XP from the Rhyme Addicts, DJ Underground from the big ATL and you could catch him at djunderground.podomatic.com, Young Hype, Onwon, Bad Fish from the LBC, State of the Art, Unitus, DJ Yeraflavor, DJ Joni from Spain, Buddah from Reno, Dr. Ebony Utley and all the people who downloaded my craft... I would like to thank every single one of you who supported me either from youtube or my bandcamp site...Thank you.... my words of wisdom would be believe in yourself. peace out!!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

G-Side & Huntsville Alabama

In 2008 I graduated college, lost my job and made the decsion to move back to Oregon. Staying in OR didn't last but moving did for quite some time but through all my travels the only album that I consciously made sure to always have with me came out of Huntsville Alabama by a group called G-Side. That album was called Starships & Rocketz, download it here.

Since then their profile has only risen, although not as fast as another AL representing artist who does a quick few bars at the end of this video repping for their state college football team.



I hadn't paid them much attention of late and this morning I came across an awesome article by Jon Kriby who contributes to Wax Poetics among other magazines. This article was done for Oxford American, a well regarded publication focused on exposing American South culture via "the very best in Southern writing."

Read the Oxford American feature on G-Side here. Peruse some more videos below.





Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jorge Ben



Brazilian music has interested me since I started buying records. Deodato's Prelude was something dug up on the first excursion. At some point Jorge Ben's name came up and while I'm yet to come across a record of his in the bins I've found records here and there on the internets to give a hint into why this man is regarded so highly in his home country.



A song of his came on in shuffle and prompted me to see what I could find in the way of footage of performances. If you have never heard the man, listen and watch. It's all subtle and simple. It's fun. It's light. But maybe it's not, I don't speak Spanish so at the end of the day I don't have a clue what is being discussed here... I dig it none the less.



Jay Rock "Tolerate"

The Black Hippies are steady keeping me tuned to their growing brand. Jay Rock has been staying busy having dropped Black Friday less than a month ago, he's put out a music video and his label just posted up this new tune on their site.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Show Tufli "Keep in Mind That I'm an Artist and I'm Sensitive About My Shit!!"



Show Tufli is a name that's been buzzing around the blogosphere for the last couple years but his tribute style mixtapes haven't really gotten him off the ground. I suppose the Charles Hamilton affiliation may be hurting too. But regardless of who he knows and how the public views his marketing ploy's the bottom line is the music on his latest project, inspired by Erykah Badu, is fresh and the perfect slice of summer for these cold and wet days Seattle has been awaiting.

I put this 10 track project on tonight and was immediately caught up in his style. Dude is only 18. I guess recovering from paralysis would be invigorating. The above video features an intro that gives you a little history on Show and the one below is a more professional affair that shows off the traditional summer BBQ on the block. Of course there's a girl who's caught the young emcee's eye.



If the videos got you interested you can download the tape here for more.

A Conversation with A Dope Boy

What is there to say about 2DopeBoyz? You love it or you hate it. They changed the blog game, the music industry and are delivering a new generation of emcees to the masses free of any overseer. If you've been following Meka since his days talking shit in editorials you probably expect a loud and outspoken asshole. He couldn't be further from his online persona. After he traveled to DC for a show that didn't happen he hoped on a plane and joined us at the HG Lodge to rock an Almost Famous set. Those in attendance heard a set full of great tunes that definitely veered away from his blog rap world. Before he went on I sat down with him for a few minutes on the upstairs deck to learn a little bit more.

You grew up in LA?
Yeah, all over. I was born in Fresno from Carson to Long Beach to Inglewood to Korea Town before moving out to New York last year.

What was your first exposure to hiphop?
My first exposure was actually MC Hammer around the Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em era. That was my very first tape, as soon as I popped that into the walkmen I fell in love with it. Always listened to it from front to back, when the tape snapped ended up getting my second tape which turned out to be Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em. My third tape turned out to be Ready to Die and that’s when everything changed though.

So it was the East coast shit that flipped it for you?
Yeah, cause I had never heard anything like that before. First off it was my first dirty album. I wasn’t used to, you know MC Hammer is very clean. Then I got Ready to Die it was cuss word this cuss word that, first I was like I didn’t even know they could do that. To be honest I hated it when I first heard it because it’s too much cussing but after awhile I started enjoy it and it started me to look more into East coast sounds. It’s werid because I was born and raised in Los Angeles but I spent so much time focusing on New York music from like the Illmatic’s, to Only Built 4 Cuban LInx to 36 Chambers and everything in between. I felll in love with New York before I even had a chance to go see New York for the first time. Like I knew as early as my 10th gade year I wanted to live in New York just off the strength of their music scene.

You eating it up being out there now?
It’s not what I thought. I used to always go out there and visit for like a week or so cause I have family and it was basically the tourist thing. But when I moved out there and had to live it was totally different from what I was used to in Los Angeles because Los Angeles is very laid back, slow and has a very chill nature. New York is just hustle and bustle, I wasn’t used to that, public transportation, wasn’t used to the weather, wasn’t used to the people. I wasn’t used to anything out there. Literally for the first six months I hated it and wanted to move back home until I went back to Los Angeles for the holidays and realized oh it’s not as bad as I thought because the same reasons that I left Los Angeles are still there. So now at the moment I can dig it., I don’t like the weather but who does?

When did you first start writing?
I started writing around High School, I just really liked to write. Prior to that I used to draw, it was never very good some people liked my drawing skills back in the day. I always knew there was something different with me from my family cause all of my sibilings, I have four sisters I was the only male in the house. All of my sisters are into law and medicine, became lawyers and doctors and I’m here drawing and writing. I started writing probably around the ninth grade but I didn’t take it professionally until I got out of college and I started freelancing for a local magazine out in Los Angeles and started writing for hiphopDX but because of my job, previously I was a production assistant and an entertainment production company, I didn’t write for two years until I got bored and started picking it up again. I’d say on and off for six or seven years but straight threw for four.

When you and Shake sat down did you ever envision 2DopeBoyz becoming what it is today?
It’s actually funny, we never really sat down. It was because I was writing for hiphopDX that I ended up meeting Shake through that. We ended up meeting for the first time physically at a Rock the Bells in 07. HiphopDX came with the idea of essentially making a Nah Right competitor and put the two of us in there. They were gonna start the whole thing but a couple months passed and nothing happened. In the writers strike a lot of people lost their jobs, I was one of those peoples. After I lost my job I asked Shake when are they gonna start this site, he said we will just start it ourselves and roughly two weeks after I lost my job 2DopeBoyz was born.

Recently On Smash and Splash’s sites got shut down by ICE, what has been your guys reaction to that?
I haven’t really said much because that issue is very touchy and I have to pick and choose my words carefully around it. I was just as shocked and scared as everybody else. We could of been on that list. In my opinion both Splash and On Smash were both wrongfully chosen. Because of it we are just really on our toes now, just being really careful about what content goes on the site. We don’t want to be next on that list. It’s like a witch hunt now. Nobody who is in our field of work knows who is going to be next. We are all just trying to be very careful. We are all hoping this type of shit won’t continue. It’s really a damn shame how it happened cause they got their sites pulled but then the bill to pull it got approved the day after. There is so much wrong, I’m just trying to keep quite. We were pretty much shocked, it was Thanksgiving. Some of those folks, those were their jobs and I feel they are being wrongly profiled and now they don’t have a job because of that. It’s a lot. I’m just trying to stay quite and work.

Out of the artists you guys have broken who are some of your favorites?
I have a couple favorites. Pac Div, TiRon. There is an artist out of Compton named H.O.P.E. - really really dope, of course Kendrick Lamar. It’s funny I started really liking West coast music when I left. In terms of New York there is Tanya Morgan and the Lessondary crew. It’s a lot, I can’t pinpoint just one particular artist.

What is your favorite album of 2010?
There is one thing, it’s not like what everyone’s favorites is. I’ll see TiRon’s MUSTRD is the first thing that comes to mind. Von Pea of Tanya Morgan Pea’s Gotta Have It, Dom Kennedy From The Westside With Love is really dope. Kendrick Lamar’s OD is really dope. Those are the four I can think of right now, I’m freezing cold [laughter breaks out between us].

Ok you are about to go rock Seattle, what’s on your mind?
Thank you. Seriously that’s all I can think of. Thank you to everyone who has shown support in anyway shape or form because if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be here period. I don’t even think I’d be in New York. I’m just very humbled by everything that has been happening to Shake and I and it’s because of the people. Thank you.

--

Thanks to Meka for sitting outside and answering my questions thoughtfully!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rapsody ft. Skyzoo & Thee Tom Hardy "Honda Accord Music (Still Can't Afford A Maybach Remix)"

RAPSODY - HONDA ACCORD MUSIC (REMIX) from Pricefilms on Vimeo.

After taking mild swipes at this project she delivers a video for a stellar track on the back half of the tape - I didn't even listen to it halfway through. Guess I know how I'm spending my evening off. This is a classic 9th beat and what's not to love about that title... or the skills of all three emcees invovled. Tom Hardy might have to be given a listen now.

Bodega Man "The Jazz Album: Recession Thinking"

Everyone is talking about the economy these days. I hear about it at work where senior servers lament what sounds like it’s been a steady decline in business for the last few years. I hear about if from my mom who is a CPA. I hear it from cats we try to sell a CD too. Money is tight.

Bodega Man is a twenties something emcee from the same hood that raised Snoop Dogg three decades ago. Another find from the constant bandcamp digging The Jazz Album: Recession Thinking actually dropped in February but time has treated this album well.

The beats are handled by an unknown cat named A.T. who concocts his own brand of funky grooves. With Jazz in the title you have to be wondering if that is of any significance - it is! The beats carry with them a distinct feel, something that had to have come from hours listening to and chopping up old vinyls. Sometimes it’s loud horns, sometimes it’s a sprinkling of piano keys. Whatever it is, it’s always layered over some dusty drums.

While so many beatmakers are concerned with getting drum kits “used by Dre” or another famous producer A.T. shows off his originality not being stuck any one sound. He doesn’t bother himself with the heaviest of drums or the deepest of basslines, he works with what he has and breathes life into his tracks with a good ear for what sounds should be placed together more so than what sounds your average rap fan thinks must be in a beat.

This is Bodega Man’s album though and he doesn’t let you ignore the fact. He is a good emcee with a precise flow that can ride these beats swimmingly. His youth in the LBC, his central American heritage, his college education and his struggle to make a buck in this recession are all topics he speaks on intelligently and honestly.

A graduate of a California State college he addresses the intricacies of dealing with finical aid at an institution of higher learning as well his frustrations with the student loan systems in place - like so many people who crave an education and get knocked down by the bureaucracies in place Bodega Man captures an all to common struggle familiar to anyone who’s stepped foot on a college campus.

Work is also addressed here. Specifically the lack of power a dollar has any longer verses how hard one works to earn that buck. He isn’t breaking new ground, we all struggle with money and surviving off what we earn. Hip Hop has more often than not for the last many years been caught up in lavish extravagance which holds no weight here. Bodega Man isn’t balling out of control and throughout the album you get the sense he wouldn’t if he could.

The Jazz Album: Recession Thinking is a product of a time that America won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Bodega Man delivered a timely album fueled by problems not uncommon to many in these days and times. Over A.T.’s smooth and funky backdrops he tells stories and conveys a message of strength in the face of whatever is trying to keep you from shinning. Bodega Man didn’t allow it to restrict him from doing what he loves, what are you waiting to achieve?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MO Podcast Vol. 2


Back in October I dropped volume one of the MO podcast series and this Sunday was shaping up to be a slow day so with a few cuts ringing through my head I decided it was time for round two! I downloaded the new tape from 9th's female protege Rapsody which hasn't caught me like projects from her group Kooley High but the tune "U Sparklin" is pretty smooth and certainly reminds me of something older. Paul White is a dope London MPC beater and his flip of "Relax (Just Do It)" is pretty much the funkiest thing to not blow up on the blogs all year. #Fail. Fela's son Femi dropped a project and while I'd never heard "Bad Government" before it felt right given our current state of affairs. Geo aka Prometheus Brown joins Illecism and DLRN for "Reset" a funky guitar groove with some hard drums and a cool vocal sample in the back ground. Nacho Picasso from the Seattle representing Cloud Nice clan, Russian beat mastro Pavel Dovgal are also in the mix.

It's the holidays why not give something away? Here is the deal, the first person to drop in the comment box which track in this mix was produced by SEA beatsmith Bean One will get a copy of SeattleCaliFragalisticExtrahelladopeness from SOTA!

Download MO Podcast Vol. 2 here.

Tracklist:
Rapsody “U Sparklin”
Femi Kuti “Bad Government”
Focus... ft. Bishop Lamont & Busta Rhymes “Shine”
Public Enemy “Shut Em Down (Pete Rock Remix)”
Paul White “Goes To Hollywood”
Jinesis “Pop Tune”
DLRN ft. Prometheus Brown & Illecism “Reset”
Nacho Picasso “Gone Til November (Be Right Back)”
Pavel Dovgal ft. Fancy Mike “LA”
Living Legends “Even Though”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

DJ Nu-Mark "Take Me With You"

The Sounds of VTech / Take Me With You: NuMark



DJ Nu-Mark, along with his partner in scratch from J5 Cut Chemist, has some deep crates that have been filled from the finest selections found around the globe. I've always thought that for diggers there is no better job than one that allows you to travel from city to city, state to state and country to country. The jewels you can find in the most random of spots is endless.

While Mark prepares his debut solo outing for early 2011 he is teaming with Mochilla to deliver a mixtape that is intended to accompany "your next tropical adventure." I for one have never been on a tropical adventure, yet I think this is just the right music to help you feel like where ever you are is tropical! Full of great rhythms, horns, competing percussion and drum breaks and many more sounds this mix will make you groove.

Download the preview mix here and watch out for the full thing to be available January 18th.

The Good Sin ft. TH "No Diss (Hands Up)"

The Good Sin has been building a name for himself around Seattle with a no nonsense style, thoughtful rhymes and a presence not to be forgotten. This summer he got in the lab (RIP SCP) with 10.4Rog and recorded an ill project called Late that should be blessing your ears before too long. In the interim he just dropped off this tune to my inbox. Joining forces with TH from the SOTA crew they spit over a smooth Detroit banger courtesy of Karmatic.



Download here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

One Time @ Bandcamp With... Poetik Force

The bandcamp discoveries keep flowing here at the MO HQ. On Monday I dropped off the funky and blunted debut album from Poetik Force called The Mary Jane Project - read the review here. As a young new voice emerging out of LA he isn't hopping on the coat tails of anyone, just steady doing his own thing with his team. Breath some fresh air and read up on who this kid is.

Introduce yourself? Who is Poetik Force? How long have you been making music?
Peace Peace. This is Poetik Force, Reppen from The COV 626 "The Cov' Originals"
I been Making Music for about 4 years going onto 5 now. Its been a bleesing creating music for the globe and for our fans.

Where did you grow up? How old are you?
I grew Up in West Covina, California, Beautiful West Coast. Im 21 Years old with a Mastermind, and a successful future.

What inspired you to make music? Was rapping your first attempt?
Everything Inspires me to Make Music, and everything from my past inspired me to make music. Mainly for myself and to get up out of the streets. Before Rap I was into Graffiti Art, thats when i studied Hip-Hop Music and all of Her Roots. And Realized this is what i wanted to do forever.

Who did you grow up listening to? Who are you listening to today?
I grew up listening to alot of different elements of music in tha 90's. From Punk Rock. to Reggae, To classic Rock, and Hip-Hop. I looked at music as a way of life, so i did a lot of listening. Today i' am listening to everything from The Beatles To Curren$y, from Jazz to Nas, from Bob Marley to Jay-Z, from Erykah Badu to Kanye West, etc. To much to Name um all, but theres alot in my books.

What producers are you working with?
I am working with alot of producers right now; Jansport J. Josh G, Spok Beats from Chamber Records, Kaleem "Sincere" Wasif, Salute Tha Gawd from 92Fam. Its been a Blessings to work with Producers like them, They all are way to ILL!!

Do you have a day job?
FUCK A DAY JOB!!!!!!!!!

You put Ms. Botwin on your CD cover, Weeds fans or was it more about the theme of the tape?
Yes my album cover is something unique. Shoutouts to PhillMatic for doing my cover art, and tha idea of havin her on my album cover. im not really a "Weeds" show fan, dont watch much T.V, so it was more about the theme of my Record! (metaphorically)

What is your preferred method to smoke? Favorite chronic strain?
I really dont have a preferred method to smoke, i mainly be rolling blunts all the damn time but, im a universal weed smoker, so anything is good. but my Favorite Chronic Strain, or i should say Kush Strain, would have to be AK-47 or some OG! or some Chronic shake, we in a recession so sometimes it may get expensive!! hahahah


What is the connection between you guys and blakface?
My Connection with "BlakFace" is family! No other words to explain that! They my mathafuken ride or die brothers! Word. They are my Executive Producers by the way on "The MaryJane Project" so its always something special when im with BlakFace. I wouldn't be the artist who I am today with out Funk Logik and Kaleem "Sincere" Wasif!

You familiar with any modern Hip Hop coming out of Seattle?
I'm not really up to date with the modern Hip Hop movement in Seattle right now. I'm definitely shure there some great artist coming out!!

What is in the works right now for Poetik Force?
Im working on a few things right now before the year comes to an end. I'm shooting a couple music videos from "The MaryJane Project" so definitely look our for that. I'm also working on a lil branch on the side of The Cov Originals called "THE ELEVATORS" which include, Myself, BlakFace and Sean Wyze. We are droppin a EP this December and will be droppin a LP early next year 2011!! Keep ya eyes and ears open for that. its going to be something EPIC!!

Any last words? Words of wisdom? Advice? Shout outs?
Last Call! Toast for a new beginning to Hip-Hop. Shoutouts to my whole Team on the Rize - BlakFace, SeanWyze, Hawdwerk, Jansport J, Keon Supreme, Avi The Most Ill, DKing! Knowledge is Self Determination, Follow Your Dreams and Never Give Up "One Team One Dream" ..... "PEACE ONE LOVE"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Low Budget Christmas

Whoever determined that the day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas season I would like to meet and shake them into convulsions. Between listening to country holiday "classics" for my job throughout college to the lame ass smooth jazz covers of Christmas standards playing on repeat at Palisade these days I just can't get away! The Low Budget crew out of the DMV has dropped off a little something to help those of you like me who don't want to listen to your typical holiday music - bang this and I'm sure you won't be getting called a scrooge for turning off the radio.

Full of fresh tunes from the likes Kev Brown, Oddisee, Roddy Rod, Kambir & yU most of the cuts are just slow burning grooves that feature some sleigh bells at times or a melody from a traditional song flipped only how these cats do. Get in the holiday spirit and download this!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Griff J - Devil Woman



Here is the new one from my good friend Griff J, it was produced by the Madman Aaron Greene otherwise known as Murder Dice (Slow Dance, Party Time, The Rodeo). This is honestly the first one of his tracks that didn't sound like complete Hobby Rap and a giant step in the right direction. I'm proud of my guy and am excited to see how he follows this song up.

Shawn Chrystopher "You, And Only You"

The uprising of young emcees who are college educated has allowed for a shift in content and image. Shawn Chrystopher is one of these artists having attended USC on a scholarship he graduate and put out his first album last year - A City With No Seasons. That project caught my ear thanks to his carefree attitude and desire to remember what it was like to be a kid and have fun.

I just downloaded his latest project You And Only You and it’s feeling just as good. His carefree attitude seems to be tempered with some reality this time out. He opens the album with a strong a cappella addressing he and his moms relationship, making money, chasing dreams and working in this industry.



But not all is so heavy. The lead single for which he shot a video for, “Catch Me If You Can”, is a great shot at the haters who want to bring him down. Sometimes he gets like Drake and tries to analyze his fame - it’s interesting to hear someone who isn’t famous yet saying “I don’t want to be famous cause fame just aint right.” When Drake does this it seems as though he is asking for pity or sympathy - hard to give to someone who runs with the Young Money crew. Shawn on the other hand pulls off the struggling artist who needs to come to terms with his public presence.

In the liner notes to this release he includes a statement that says “Constantly challenge the listener to think outside the box. No flow is the same.” He does change it up more than some, but I’m not sure he is always completely different. Sometimes he pulls off a nice sing song flow, he can’t carry much of a note but he flows out of it smoothly and succinctly.

Chrys and some homies of his handle the production, which never recalls a West coast sound, isn’t really boom bap. It does feature some celebratory sounds, some minimal drum sounds, but throughout it’s original and head nodding just how hiphop should be!

Download for free or purchase a physical copy at Shawn Chrystopher’s spot.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX "NY is Killing Me"



Dropped a little bit ago, been stuck in my head. Mesmerizing beat from The XX mpc player, I'm real intrigued about him remixing all of Heron's latest opus I'm New Here. Watch for it in February from XL Recordings!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Poetik Force "The Mary Jane Project"

LA hiphop has been flourishing as of late. Maybe I’m just paying attention more often but I’m hearing more music from the Capitol of the West coast these days then ever before in my life. Poetik Force is one of those voices. His The Mary Jane Project is a suitably titled affair and Ms. Botwin gracing the cover is hilarious.

This rarely sounds like any weed smoking rap from the left coast you might expect. Poetik Force is anything but generic. He comes across as a considerate fellow, trying to live life and get relaxed every so often. Maybe more so than it might at first seem.

His flow is great. Laid back in style Poetik Force doesn’t rush anything and he likes to give you positive tunes to help inspire better living in the future. Rarely do these wishes come across naively, usually they seem to offer some insight into the struggle of the emcee delivering the words.

The beats throughout the project are melodic and slower in tempo. Full of samples Poetik Force has an ear to the ground snagging up tracks from up and comers who have yet to be destroyed by the business. Sometimes the drums feel a little too boom bap for an LA affair, after talking to Kendrick Lamar and looking at what young music is coming from the city of angels I have to say I think NY hiphop circa the nineties is influencing a lot of young kids who grew up years and miles removed from the second golden age.

The Mary Jane Project doesn’t spend much of it’s time really getting caught up in the details of Marijuana, much like Currensy the weed is just there. Force and his guests are fans of blunts but it all is delivered in a manner that won’t have you wondering what else these guys do, smoking is just a part of the daily routine for this crew.

As an emcee Poetik Force lives up to his name typically. I’m never bored while giving this project a listen. It’s not always the most captivating record, sometimes slowing down to a point that might let you get lost in your own thoughts and forget about what you are listening to. Surprisingly this is especially true for his J Dilla tribute “Playaz”. Whoever cooked up the beat did a sufficent job recreating the SV classic, but the groove is almost too deep, none of the rappers really own it.

This isn’t a common occurrence on the album however. Time is rarely wasted on discussing the little things, Poetik Force is more concerned with addressing life and letting those out there listening know that they aren’t alone for it. The album screams of their own regular life, no one who raps here comes off as though they are bigger or better than the listener. They are just some everyday people spitting life living raps. Inhale deep and put this on in your headphones if you want to feel good.