Monday, July 27, 2009

Album: Sway - This Is My Demo (2005)



Here's a rapper you've probably never heard of. And why's that? Well, that's probably because Sway (real name Derek Safo aka Sway DaSafo) is from London, and proud of it. Let me first start by saying that this man is TALENTED. I would like to compare him to Eminem in terms of rapping talent. Both men are masters of their flow, edgy, and gifted in terms of song writing. Although where Em has the ability to rhyme words you never thought could go together, Sway likes to constantly fluctuate his intonation and flows like no one else I've ever heard before. Just listen carefully to the above song, the self-titled intro to his first official album titled This Is My Demo. Well let's just say it might take you 5 or more listens to get everything he's saying (not to mention the English accent to boot). Sway can rap FAST, yet has the lyrics to pull off a slow song as well like his track titled Still On My Own. His whole debut album has a wide range of topics, yet many of his best songs on the album relate to his personal struggles coming up as an artist and a man. Also worthy of mention is his absolutely crazy writing ability that he displays on many tracks including Hype Boys .

"Being a bad liar is like having a bad lawyer
As soon as they get caught they get the sentence uffed up
A good liar's benevolent
With a memory like an elephant
Intelegent
And knows exactly when to shhhhh
Lies spread around like viruses
So how can I survive in this?
'Cause even the truth lies (where?)
In people's irises
So how can I resist
I had to lie to write this verse
Got my talent for twisting words
Hence my title, I'm a "lie"ricist"

Also of note is that Sway doesn't advocate the use of the word "nigga" or the style of rappers that glorify themselves with fake tales of violence and gang culture. Sway released his 2nd album The Signature LP in 2008 which is a bit more commercial sounding but equally as creative. Do yourself a favor and ask me for a copy of this classic.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Song: Slaughterhouse - Move On (2009)



Woah. If you've been sleeping on new hip hop, this is the Folgers in your cup right here! I know I woke up a little when I heard this. Hip Hop has a new group in town, or should I more accurately say "supergroup", named Slaughterhouse. These four well-established emcees have teamed up to make songs that are even better than their solo efforts. The group members include Joe Budden (hailing from Jersey City), Joell Ortiz (Brooklyn), Royce Da 5'9" (Detroit), and Crooked I (Long Beach). I love all of these guys individually, but when you throw them together on a track it just seams like it was meant to be.

Joell Ortiz spits with passion in his voice and in his lyrics (very similar to Brother Ali), and makes you believe that he only says shit from the heart. Joe Budden is a straight storyteller of life with delivery, punchlines, and depth to his verses. Royce is a smooth cat with a tough voice and a very consistent and collected flow. Crooked I is straight up talented with two sides to his coin, gangsta and intelligent. All of them have been in the game for years and their collective style is both gritty AND deep containing equal parts of substance, swag, and bravado. This single above, called Move On, is about how each of the rappers is trying to let all interviewers know that their pasts are behind them and that they are starting fresh with this new group. This single is just a taste of what we're all in for when their self-titled album drops on August 11, 09. Get pumped!

Favorite verses in order: Crooked I, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5'9"
Favorite Quote: "We're stressed out over cash flow. Hip hop used to console my soul, now it's a bunch of assholes" - Crooked I

Another hip hop supergroup to check out is EMC (Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Punchline, & Stricklin) who released their debut album, called The Show, in 2008. This album is filled with stunningly deep tracks and head-nodding bangers.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Album: J Dilla - Jay Stay Paid (2009)


Here we go with another album from J Dilla (R.I.P.). For all those that may not know his legacy, this one of a kind producer passed away due to complications from the autoimmune disease Lupus in 2006. This most tragic death came at a time when Dilla really was just coming into his prime. He tirelessly worked on his masterpiece beat tape "Donuts" right up until his death, often struggling immensely to make his beats. The album was released on his 32nd birthday and he died 3 days later. To most hip hop heads, Jay Dee's beats represented the most creative and musically ingenious sounds that a hip hop producer could offer. This album gives us a sampling of some previously unreleased instrumentals as well as tracks featuring rappers such as Black Thought, Blu, Lil Fame of M.O.P., Raekwon, Doom, Havoc of Mobb Deep, and even his brother Illa J. I only with every track had a featured rapper because you can tell that these full length beats were meant to be rocked by the best of the best. Now cop this album if you're a fan of the head-nodding beats of Dilla, and if you're new to his work pick up the classic beat tape Donuts. You won't regret it. Promise.

Favorite tracks: Smoke, Pay Day, Coming Back, and KJay & We Out

Friday, July 3, 2009

Song: Jay-Z - D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune) (2009)

Not only is this Jay-Z song significant for hip hop, but the video is as well. When's the last time that happened? I can tell you I don't know, but it's been a while.

On his newest single D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune), Jay-Z speaks his mind on the wasteland that is the current state of commercial hip hop music over a guitar-infused No I.D. track (don't remember No I.D.?: take Common's classic album Resurrection out for a spin). So why is this track significant? Let's be honest, this is not the first time a rapper has bashed the new shitty hip hop plastered all over the radio. However, Jay-Z is one of the most successful rappers to ever live and what he says is never taken lightly whether you love him or hate him. In the song, Jay systematically tears down ringtones, trendy colorful clothes, fake thugs, and especially Auto-Tune (the voice-distorting program that brought T-Pain his fame). And in the video, they blow up chains, racks of flashy clothing, and Auto-Tune program boxes. He also puts the video in an underground mafia-type gangster setting to completely contrast most other new rap videos, which demonstrates that flashing your money and showing off is NOT what hip hop is about and NOT respected by real hip hop legends like Jay-Z.

D.O.A. Quotable: "You rappers singing too much, get back to rap, you're T-Paining too much"

The significance thus comes from the fact that Jay-Z is taking an anti-conformist stance on the whole issue in order to shift people's current conceptions about what they believe to be "cool" in the rap world. If enough people take him seriously, we could see a backlash and a subsequent re-emergence of some decent hip-hop on the radio. That would be a huge step in the right direction.

"Take me back to reasonable doubt time" Jay-Z - Justify My Thug (The Black Album)

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