Monday, July 30, 2007

Hovstradamus: The 5 Best Lyrical Jokes Jigga Had on the World

So, I had myself the beginnings of a piece that was going to do nothing but take cheap shots at Straight Checkin Em and proceed to actually attempt an argument at why T-Pain was better than KRS-One. Perhaps I'll still finish and publish it one of these days, but for the moment, I'll make myself content by assuming that Straight was joking as much as my original post that flared him was. I just finished the Harry Potter book, so to try and take that kid seriously is more fantasy than I can deal with. Besides, like Jay-Z, I'm doing best just to stay hater-free*, so I'll leave it for another day.

HEY!

Speaking of Jay-Z, the more I listen, the more I'm inclined to think that certain lines have to be the biggest practical jokes over. Like, dude could look into the future, then he laid out those lines. I mean, it's either that or the man was an unfortunate victim to immediate ironies and uttered some of the most humorous contradictions/predictions ever. You decide.


1. Jay-Z & R.Kelly-"It Ain't Personal"

Man, they go and tell me, like
You never know who your true friends until you, ah umm,
Both got a little bit of money.
I mean cause y'all both broke,
Then there's no strain on the relationship, y'all both broke.
And if you got money and he ain't got no paper
He still needs you so you'll never know how he really feel about you.
When y'all both get some paper, you'll see...

Taken from the first collaborative album with R. Kelly, Jay-Z must've penned this verse as some sort of crazy caveat concerning their relationship if they were to make another album. When they did, and this occurred, it was as Jay had predicted. Just replace "broke" with "pretty damn rich" and "got money" to "stanky rich," and you've pretty much got the tale of the Best of Both Worlds Tour.
The best part? The two haven't done anything together since then. Try and tell me that "it ain't personal."



2. Jay-Z-"So Ghetto"

You see I live for the love of the street,
Rap to the ruggedest beats.

Maybe he thought no one would notice? Or maybe, just maybe, Jay knew that he would shirk off the Primoes and Skis completely for Pharrells and 'Yes. Maybe he knew that he would record the intro for that Fallout Boy album. And maybe he even knew that, somehow, four years later one of the hardest songs he'd do would be made by the guy who scored the Dixie Chicks a grammy this year. And just by the time his fans got the joke, they got "Umbrella" stuck in their head and forgot all about it.


3. Scarface feat. Jay-Z and Memphis Bleek

We'll get right into the proceedings this evening

0:00-the track begins
0:07-the above mentioned line is stated
0:45-Jay-Z stops talking and actually proceeds with the rapping



4. Jay-Z-"Momet Of Clarity"

Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did five mill' - I ain't been rhymin like Common since

Unless, you know, you count spitting weak bullshit rhymes over whack-ass Kanye West beats rhyming like Common. But he couldn't have seen that coming...could he?


5. Memphis Bleek feat. Jay-Z-"Dear Summer"

Gimme couple years, shit I might just sneak in,
A couple words and like peaches and herb,
We'll be reunited and it feels so hood.
Have the whole world saying "How you still so good?"

Funny, that's exactly. what . the . critics . said.
Or Jay-Z, with all his silly dry humor, decided to make Kingdom Come flop, just so we could appreciate that line of his a little bit more...


Food for thought. You know, mull it over for a bit.








*But still, watch what you say to me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Keeps It Really Real Like My Last Album

Just a little somethin' somethin'.



I know it's just some a capellas matched with a different beat, but this fits too damn well (I wonder if there's an mp3). While I won't even try to compare this to the original version of "Ha"--which has an entirely different appeal--I will venture to say that this is far better than either of the "Ha" remixes from Juvenile's first album. Not that that's a hard threshold to reach. This beat's 9 years old and I could still listen to it over and over again every day, no matter who's on it.

And man, this makes me wish that we could get an actual Grand Puba, Mannie Fresh collabo... strange as that would be. (Clearly the song would be about pussy.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Musings on the state of the city in which I live, among other things I suppose.

Fresh's real talk made me do some thinking, and no I'm not referring to the fact that I've been by far the least prolific contributer to this blog, though calling me out definitely made me at least get started on this post. Anyways, I've had a few thoughts rattling around this noggin of mine, and I've decided to voice them here, let's see what I can shake out of the cobwebs:

First of all, by far the most interesting aspect of what was otherewise one of the year's bigger disappointments (I'm referring of course to TI vs. TIP, though the album was by no means bad...you may have heard this opinion before, but I digress) is that it, hopefully not temporarily, resuscitated two MCs who I had believed to have fallen off considerably just a year back. Listen to these guest spots:



The first one I have here is actually more important than the second, but both are significant. Both Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes released thoroughly underwhelming albums in the year of '06, and both were in places that seemed distressingly telling of them loosing their once prodigious talents. Busta had found himself in some gangsta rut, while Jay seemed content to rest on his laurels and not even try to earn the title that he had already assumed would be bestowed upon him when he returned. This is why Jay's story is also more interesting, because this verse is the first where it is apparant that the backlash against the Jigga Man has set in, and he isn't thrilled about it. What it seems to have done is, rather than simply make him defensive in a "washed up rapper" kind of way that happens often, has actually rescucitated, if even if just for this song, the swagger. The one he never really lost but had become stale with the "mature" steps he had taken on Kingdom Come. What impresses me most is that the prospect of Jay swiping back at his detractors is still thrilling, especially when he makes such mentions in this verse, and those rappers (you know who you all are) better be ready, I don't think he's gonna let you guys off easy with another Brooklyn High (at least I hope not).
Busta's isn't as compelling, but it shows that the man can still spit a wicked double time, and if he wants to rap about beating people up, I find that to be much more believable than hearing about all those coke deals he never performed. Hopefully he'll approach his new work with the same vim, and maybe I'll wanna listen again. I think I"m allowed to be at least a little optimistic.

While on the subject of New York Royalty, Saigon finally released his first single, and god bless it's better than fucking Pain In My Life was ( though Elijah brought up the good point that most people will probably be listening for that Just Blaze production moreso than any sort of rapping that Saigon will be doing, though I enjoy hearing him on the mic). Also, I would find it eternally amusing if the crown of the city was placed not on all of these aforementioned guys vying for the throne but upon this head instead:

The video is up because the only really good evidence of Lil Mama's talent is in the accapella section that is only in the video. Now, I'm not saying that she doesn't have some growing up to do, certainly the city of New York is not gonna be brought back by a song about a women's cosmetic product, but she's got the raw skill that other young guns on the ups around here (Mims, I'm looking at you) seem to lack. She's also only seventeen, girl's got some time, and I know I'll at least keep an ear open in her direction for a while. Also, the pure delicious irony of a woman winning the much-sought title of "King of New York" is far too entertaining for me not to at least hope for, however distantly.

Of course...there's still hope that the real rulers of this city will return, and I know we'd all welcome them back with open arms:

That's right bitches, players only beyond this point.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beef, What A Relief


You know what you need to learn?
Old School artists don't always burn.
You're just another rapper who's had his turn.
Oh, it's on now... or something.

Personally, I generally feel that rap blog beef is about as unworthy of my time as anything. I mean, online arguments are already just about the height of dorkdom, and all that sets an argument on a couple of rap music blogs apart from a bitter disagreement over which Final Fantasy is the best, or whether Superman or Goku would win in a fight, is that rap bloggers feel a need for a veneer of street toughness that usually isn't there. After all, you're still bitching someone out over the internet.

On the other hand I, like most people, don't really like to let someone talk shit without giving some kind of a response. I know that Nazty Fresh is probably gonna jump all the fuck over this shit, but I'm gonna put in my two cents first.

So, apparently going against the grain and being willing to appreciate a newer artist is "ignorance," ya'll. News to me.

Now, I don't necessarily agree with everything that Nazty Fresh says, in fact, I've been a major fan of KRS-One's for quite some time now. Chances are good that I've listened to Edutainment, Sex & Violence, I Got Next, and other lesser Kris albums more times than most of the people who still defend the man's crazy actions today. But shit, man, I even bought Spiritual Minded, and listened to it, (more than once!!) and yet I still haven't quite gotten around to listening to Hip-Hop Lives yet, even though I'm sure that it's a better record. I think this says enough about what KRS has done to his own image of late to prove that he ain't infallible.

While we're on the subject, have any of these angry men actually listened to a T-Pain record? And anyone who says "I don't need to hear it to know it's shit" is clearly ignorant--in fact, I think that's the definition. I mean, come on ya'll, even Phonte likes T-Pain! (Do... do ya'll still like Little Brother? I know I do, but I always lose track of what the angry purist crowd is into.) Sure, T-Pain's funny as shit, but is that a bad thing? Man clearly knows he's a goofy motherfucker, whereas KRS-One takes himself too damn seriously.

Not that a comparison between the two of them is really something that merits too much discussion anyway. Apples and oranges. I'm pretty damn sure that Nazty Fresh was making a joke about how disparate they are; not something worth getting oneself into such a little bitchfit over.

But I'm already giving this shit way too much attention. I'm one of those few idiots who thinks that the internet can be home to actual conversations, and people discussing their differing opinions. I'm a dreamer. So now I'm gonna just step away from it, and it's whatever--the Fresh One can take it from here. Besides, if I really wanted to be an asshole, er... Checkin, I would repost your comment with the grammar and punctuation fixed for greater impact. But I'll be nice.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You Should Rap Like This, You Should Rap Like That


Talib Kweli - "Hostile Gospel"

Talib Kweli - "Country Cousins" featuring UGK

Talib Kweli - "In the Mood"

Talib Kweli - "More Or Less" featuring Dion

Talib Kweli - "Oh My Stars" featuring Musiq Soulchild
Eardrum, 2007

I know I’ve been gone awhile, and the game’s been missing me (just play along, ok?) so I apologize. I guess there just hasn’t been much in rap music that’s really grabbed me recently—sure, I’ve liked the odd single here and there (can’t get “Krispy” outta my head) but shit, I haven’t even gotten together the energy to listen to T.I. vs. T.I.P. yet, or even that new Kardinal mixtape that I’m actually excited about. The problem is, as shit piles up I end up feeling less entitled to listen to whatever’s new before I plow through all that other stuff. But, when I… copped (yeah, that’s it) the Eardrum advance the other day I just decided fuck it, I’d listen to it right away and stop burying myself under a gang of “to-listen” lists.

I hadn’t even been particularly excited about Eardrum, as the heroes of my old backpacker days had been pretty steadily disappointing over the last few years, and my own tastes have moved on real far. But I tried to give the new Kweli a chance, and it ended up surprising me a bit. On "Say Something" he spits "They say I’m back, but I ain’t go nowhere"... uh, Kweli, yes you did, but thankfully Eardrum is a return to form… but I'm not sure it's a form I care about anymore.

"I smack internet MC's and beat bloggers"? Eh, better than being smacked by a ho at a G-Unit party. Ok, that was too easy, but I've got it out of my snarky, internet-addled system now, so let's move on.

It’s hard to go back to a past version of myself that would hate who I’ve become insofar as music tastes are concerned. If my high school, backpacker self could see my current Weezy-jocking, “Wipe Me Down”-singing, immensely-annoyed-by-Mos Def self he would be shocked and appalled. But I decided to try to channel that version of me a little bit, because it was back then that I loved Talib Kweli. Truth be told, I was a major stan.

I’ve changed alot since then, but I do still bump Black Star, Reflection Eternal, and Kweli’s first album a good deal. So the question becomes, can Kweli do anything for me without the nostalgia factor involved? Short answer: yes, but I didn't like this album anywhere near as much as I would have a few years ago. His beat selection's improved, and he's still doing that "unfocused but conscious" thing that Noz hates so much, but he's doing it well again, in my opinion. The record didn't make too big an impression, but it was a good listen.

Things start off with the unsurprisingly low-key "Everything Man" where he laments how he can't be everything to everyone... thank God, this means he's back to his niche. But things really start to pick up with the Just Blaze produced "Hostile Gospel". The song's got some nice bombast and isn't particularly about anything, and it works. It's also an example of the album's main problem--in beats and rhymes the song's good, but there's nothing that'll really stick in your mind either. You won't be singing the hook, you won't be quoting the lyrics.

"Country Cousins" brings in a bootleg Pharrell singer to spice things up, along with UGK of course. I make no secret of loving UGK, but I think this is actually one of Kweli's best performances on the record. Maybe having the southern trailblazers there helps to even out the nostalgia so it doesn't turn into "grumpy old man rap" (which is its own sub-genre). A chill guitar driven, country-ass track doesn't hurt either.

Kweli, of course, goes deep into some conscious rap territory. I would've eaten up the "feed the kids" laced "Eat To Live" once upon a time, but now it all comes across as a little tired. Could be worse though. It's followed by "In the Mood", which picks up the pace a good deal. I liked this track, actually. A good vibe. But then after that comes "Soon the New Day", which has to feature motherfucking Norah Jones. Sigh. This story of one night stands and their upsides and downsides still would've worked, despite the added singer, if Talib hadn't felt the need to put in some fucking ridiculous cultural references here and there. Larry the Cable Guy, Kweli? Really? Is that what's up in the streets right now?

The major highlight of the album's second half comes in the form of "More Or Less", which is a reunion with Hi-Tek. It has some similarities to the earlier mentioned Just Blaze track though... so that probably says something. It's followed by "The Perfect Beat" which features KRS-One. Goddammit, why couldn't these two have made a song seven years ago when I was a cornball and they were my favorite MCs? It's not a bad collaboration, but the title is awfully strange for a pair of rappers whose major failing in recent years has been beat selection. Of course, they're not actually talking about the beat... to talk about the actual track is far beneath such men. (That only happens on, gasp, dance songs!)

"Hot Thing" is ok, but loverman never fit Kweli that well... oh, and bootleg Pharrell is back. But then that leads to "Oh My Stars" featuring Musiq Soulchild. Even with Blake's favorite on the hook, this is, unsurprisingly, the corniest shit ever. So I've included it for ya'll. I could see being into this if I was in just the right mood... but there are better such songs. Thankfully, the record ends on a good note with "Listen!!!" (regrettably missing a DJ Khaled cameo). I thought that Kwame had been dragged out of retirement to produced this, but a Wikipedia search showed that he's been racking up production credits recently--few of them good. Nonetheless, he brings a good track with a well-used vocal sample (those always get me).

All together, a good listen, a nice reminder of the Kweli of old, but nothing that will really stay with you. You might see me walking down the New York streets in a nostalgic backpacker-ish mood, with a fake beard and dark glasses... and when that time comes, I might just be bumpin' this.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

If You Say "Real Talk," I Probably Won't Trust Ya (Unless You're Nazty Fresh, Naturally)

If you're wondering why the ATL is runnin' shit, you clearly haven't been on a dancefloor in years.


(That's all for now, but I'm comin' back real soon.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Whatsamatta me? Whatsamatta You?

Rap elitists, hip-hop purists, old men and people with opinions can suck a dick at this one.



Real Talk for the Summer 2007



1. T-Pain raps better on this one track than KRS-One did for most of his career Hip Hop Lives.




T-Pain-"Mr. Downtown"



Maybe it's because I'd take a good-old fashioned sex rap over some political nonsense any day, or maybe it's because T-Pain is the best Singer/Rapper/Songwriter/Producer/Entertainer this side of Prince.



2. Since that UGK album's never coming out, Curtis is still poised to be the hottest thing this summer.
Think about it. You may be afraid, but you know it's true.



3. In a summer ravaged by Hurricane Chris, why haven't enough people been talking about really fucking good Southern songs like this?


Juvenile feat. Mannie Fresh-"Who Can I Run To"



(Ex) Cash Money is running this rap shit.



4. The only track where T.I. sounded remotely non-comatose on T.I. vs. T.I.P. was that one with Nelly.
You know, that one with the wannabe Neptunes production.




5. Rappers are saving their best shit for R&B (gasp!) songs these days.


Lloyd feat. Lil Wayne, Big Boi & Chamillionaire-"Get It Shawty (Remix)"


Other examples include the remixes (take your pick) to "Last Night," Ludacris's and Huey's guest spots on Double Up and



6. If it wasn't for Slick Rick, "Hip Hop Police" would've been pretty shitty.
While we're on the subject, "Ridin'" wasn't even that great of a Chamillionaire song. Gotta love Krayzie though.





7. These days, I'm beginning to think Scott Storch can do a better Dr. Dre than Dr. Dre can.


Papoose feat. Snoop Dogg-"Bang Out" (Prod. Scott Storch)



Where you at, Dre? The answer better be 'working my ass off on making Detox the most mind blowing shit ever.'




8. Kanye West is slowly turning to shit. "Can't Tell Me Nothing?" Shit. "Stronger?" Shit. The "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Alter Ego" Mixtapes? Shit. His guest verse on T-Pain's "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')" Remix featuring UGK? Shit.

The most frightening thing about this cover is how much Kanye looks like another notoriously shitty-rapper-slash-pretty-good-producer, Timbaland. And not like I need to tell you- but Shock Value? Shit.





9. Crime Mob needs to get some respect.

Crime Mob-"Circles"



Brandon Soderberg's post on Crime Mob's "Circles" was on-fucking-point. Good work, bro.





10. Professor Nazty Fresh is the only nigga keeping the lights on with this blog.
Petro?
Elijah?
Y'all there?

Monday, July 2, 2007

(Thorton) Family Circus (Lord Willin' Edition)

Crack rap this.
Crack rap that.


It sucks.
It's unimaginative.
It's not good for the children.

In a world where my say is always right, I think they call that reality, all three of those opinions are wrong. The problem is people just aren't looking at it in the right way.
But words and logical arguments are on a level of pedantisim I chose not to take today. Instead, I'll show you how the magic of crack rap can turn the most painfully uninteresting and wholesome piece of (midly retarded) Americana, like the Family Circus, into a dark, brooding slab of one-panel drama and intrigue. Enjoy.






"Ego"
Note how cool, collected and midly frightening Billy becomes as he tells his weed-carrying buddy about some sucker who met his end when he got greedy.







"Comedy Central"
More than good for cheap laughs, using the words of The Clipse enable readers to really feel Dolly's pain as she has no one left to lament to but the bird on the window about all the smack-riddled dead bodies she's accountable for.









"Virginia"
This panel pairs both Billy's love for threatening one's mortality with Dolly's nihilistic acceptance of violence. She smiles as a way to show the futility of fighting death.








"I'm Not You"
A strip dealing with the crippling effects of Postpartum Depression, Thel's conflicted nature in poisoning the fudge Billy unrelentingly demanded is evidenced in her internal dialouge. The juxtaposition of Thel's tall stature and Billy's stout constitution helps play into this. As does Jeffy's position in the middle. My money's on he knows too much.








"Young Boy"
A little backstory development, this strip helps establish the twisted characters of Dolly and Jeffyby explaining the character of Grandma, a woman who nurtured her children with tea, buttered english muffins and glock nines (resting on her lap).

"When The Last Time"
Incest, clearly.