Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Album: Macklemore - The Language Of My World (2005)



Hit Play Button to Preview a Few Amazing Tracks
1. Intro
2. White Privilege
3. B-Boy
4. Claiming The City (Feat. Abyssinian Creole)
5. Fake I.D.
6. Hold Your Head Up (Feat. Xperience)
7. Ego
8. Inhale Deep
9. Bush Song
10. Good For You (Feat. Step Cousins)
11. I Said Hey
12. Penis Song
13. The Magic
14. City Don't Sleep (Feat. Don-P)
15. Love Song (Feat. Evan Roman)
16. Remember High School
17. Contradiction (Feat. Evan Roman)
18. Soldiers
19. As Soon As I Wake Up (Feat. Step Cousins)
20. My Language


After seeing this video I knew I had to hear more from Macklemore... 

Macklemore - Live at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival

For the first time in about a year I was compelled to sit and listen to a whole album - start to finish - with no breaks. Just to take a block out of my day to simply sit and listen to an album and boy was I glad I did. I couldn't help being reminded of the quote The Roots used at the end of the intro track for their 1999 album Things Fall Apart, which says "Inevitably, hip hop records are treated as though they are disposable, they're not maximized as product even, ya know not to mention as art" The Roots - Act Won...Things Fall Apart. The quote really sums up the fact that rap albums for the past 10 years have been nothing, but filler with a few nice tracks. This is the reason I no longer consume music by the album... because artists don't maximize their product anymore.

However, Macklemore surprised me on this one and has proven the quote wrong with his album The Language Of My World. He has managed to maximize an album, filling it to the brim with great music (and in 2005 nonetheless). This is quite an accomplishment for an up-and-coming white hip hop artist from Seattle to make his debut nothing short of spectacular. In the album, Macklemore drops a ton of knowledge about all types of social issues and uses his music as a sounding board to tease out his own personal demons. This is self-reflective hip hop and Macklemore is articulate, educated, and humorous, but above all - the guy rips the mic with a passion and an internal flame that has been lacking in hip hop for years.

Please pick up some headphones and listen to this album. When you hear an artist like this, you know they have got something REAL to say and you should give it your full attention.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Concerts: Roc Raida Tribute [10/22/09] & Duck Down Showcase [10/24/09]

This past week I had the chance to go to 2 fabulous gatherings representing both of the two-letter elements of the hip hop underground - DJ's and MC's.

The first concert was a tribute to one of the great turntablist DJ's in hip hop, Grandmaster Roc Raida, who passed away unexpectedly on September 19, 2009 from complications after two surgeries from a mixed-martial arts accident. This man was part of the legendary DJ troupe The X-Ecutioners (formerly named the X-Men), was the first man from New York to bring home the DMC World DJ Championship title in 1995, was knighted as a Grandmaster DJ, released 7 solo albums and 3 more with the X-Ecutioners, was an accomplished producer, and was the DJ for the artists Show & AG, Big L, Lord Finesse and most recently Busta Rhymes.

You could tell how legendary the man was when you saw all the famous DJ's, producers, and MC's on the stage that came to pay homage to Roc Raida. Legends like Kool Herc and Large Professor were in the building. The extensive list of DJ's included: The Beat Junkies (J-Rocc, Babu, Rhettmatic, Shortkut), Craze, A-Trak, DJ Scratch, Roli Rho, Idee, DJ Dummy, Slyce, Shiftee, and Z-Trip. Of course there were even more names that just showed up in the background like Clark Kent, DJ Skribble, and many others that I'm forgetting or never heard of. And then at the end of the night, Busta Rhymes came out and praised Roc Raida and his family for a good 15 minutes on stage. It was quite inspiring to know that Roc Raida touched all these people's lives in some way.



It was awesome to see so many legends and DJ's cutting it up on stage and performing the routines that Raida used to do himself. It's so crazy what these guys can do with just two turntables, like making new beats with no musical instruments just by cutting up two records. It makes me wish I could be that good on my own turntables without putting in the years of dedication it takes.

Smif-N-Wessun at Duck Down Showcase

The second concert was the Duck Down Showcase. This concert represented the MC portion of my weekend and it was FUCKING AWESOME. So many underground artists were there and they all just came out and rocked the mic back-to-back with DJ Evil Dee of Da Beatminerz on the mix. First, Masta Ace & Edo. G came out as a tag team because these two legends are recording an album under the moniker A&E called Arts & Entertainment. Check out the track A's & E's*. Also, I was so pumped when Ace did his song Good Ol' Love*. Shortly after came Geologic of the Seattle group Blue Scholars (unfortunately the DJ/Producer Sabzi couldn't be there and I almost cried because he is one of my few hip hop heroes). Geo smashed it on his song Loyalty*. Then Skyzoo broke it down with his new single The Beautiful Decay* followed by Kidz in the Hall (Penn Alumni!!) who looked way more the part of hip hop artists since the last time I saw them in Philly two years ago. No longer fresh out of college, these dudes performed their smash singles Wheelz Fall Off ('06 Til)* and Drivin' Down The Block (Low End Theory)*. Then Marco Polo and Torae came out with a quick set (I really just wanted Masta Ace to come out and do the song Nostalgia* with Marco. This flowed straight into Sean Price (aka Ruck) who was joined by Rock to reunite them as the group Heltah Skeltah. Then Smif-N-Wessun stomped through with crazy energy and some of their classic material like Bucktown* and Sound Bwoy Bureill*. Next came Buckshot of the group Black Moon who is the leader of the Boot Camp Clik (also made up of Heltah Skeltah, Smif-N-Wessun, & O.G.C.). You could tell by all of their intensity that these guys have been doing it for a long time ('93-'95 era). Then two guest appearances surprised the crowd as Pharoahe Monch and Sadat X came out. First, Pharoahe and Sean Price smacked the crowd with their unbelievable song on the Tronic album by Black Milk called The Matrix* and as always Pharoahe performed his most famous song Simon Says*. Finally, to round out the amazing evening all the rappers came back out on stage and watched the Boot Camp Clik rock a few songs that they've collaborated on in the past.

This was one of the cooler hip hop events I've been too in recent years. It was not very crowded (probably because events with this many performers are billed under names like Duck Down Showcase) and all the legends came outside the venue after the show and talked to people. Geologic of Blue Scholars told me that him and Sabzi would be moving to NY to record their next album and Beth gave Geo a vinyl record that she painted of a stencil of Sabzi (like the one pictured below). Geo promised to give it to Sabzi and then took her picture with the record (Very exciting).

Overall, this was what a true hip hop event is supposed to be like, with true hip hop fans, and artists from all backgrounds and experience just rocking on the same stage for the love of it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Throwback Series #3: Redman - Muddy Waters (1996)



Hit Play to Preview Some Dope Tracks
1. Intro
2. Iz He 4 Real
3. Rock Da Spot
4. Welcome (Interlude)
5. Case Closed
6. Pick It Up
7. Skit
8. Smoke Buddah
9. Whateva Man
10. Chicken Head Convention (Skit)
11. On Fire
12. Do What Ya Feel
13. The Stick Up (Skit)
14. Creepin'
15. It's Like That (My Big Brother)
16. Da Bump
17. Skit
18. Yesh Yesh Ya'll
19. What U Lookin' 4
20. Soopaman Luva 3 Interview (Skit)
21. Soopaman Luva 3
22. Rollin'
23. Da Ill Out


Let's bring it back to 1995/96 when I was first getting into rap. Little did I know that this was one of the great heights of rap music, an era of creativity and classic albums that hasn't been seen since. This is what Redman was talking about when he said in an interview recently that Muddy Waters was his personal favorite out of all of his albums. Now this is no small deal for this Newark, NJ native to say, after all Redman has been one of the most consistent and dopest MC's in the game since 1992. When it comes to writing original lyrical content, Red is always on point with an unmistakable delivery that has never quite been able to be duplicated. His reason for choosing Muddy Waters as his best album - because it captures the feel and the essence of the time period around '95/'96 when rap was pure and before it became too mainstream and commercial. Check the songs below for yourself:

Muddy Waters is such a solid album that only gets better with more plays (although all the skits are nothing but filler). The tracks have a very gritty feel with their hard/dark beats and choruses made of ill samples instead of catchy hooks. Redman has said in a few interviews that he will be releasing Muddy Waters 2 for the true fans at some point in the future, but hasn't given any time frame for the project. And the movie How High 2 is supposedly in the works, so as a big fan of the first movie (that's right I own How High on dvd) - I can't wait!

If you are new to Redman or a long-time fan, you will most definitely need to check the hilarious music video below (even though the song is not on this album). I had to include it because it'll be the best 4 minutes of your day.

I'll Be Dat (Music Video) (Off the album Doc's Da Name 2000)

Personally, Redman is downright one of the coolest people I have ever seen in person/concert. Everything about his attitude and style is so awesome that it makes me wish I could be him. Please if you ever get a chance to go to a Redman concert (especially with Method Man), do it! He definitely goes on my top 10 best things about NJ. See for yourself why in MTV's most epic cribs episode EVER.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Update: A Site To Behold



 The new-age ghetto blaster

These are a few major improvements and cool additions to the site.

1) The layout has changed if you didn't notice. Now it's clean and spread out. Lots of room for videos!

2) Streaming playlists!! Thanks to Yahoo! Media Player, a few hacks, and a lot of free time on my hands (I'm unemployed at the moment), I have managed to find the best way to turn my site into a virtual playlist so you can listen to my music from any computer while you work, chill, etc. You can click on the play button next to any song link and the player will start playing the song automatically. Check the pop-up player in the bottom left of the page. It features...

        a) A viewable playlist (pops up from the top of the player)
        b) A focus button (to locate the currently playing track on the page)
        c) A loop button inside the playlist pop-up (automatically restarts the playlist when it ends)
        d) Auto-resume (automatically restarts your last played song where you left it whenever you reload the webpage!).

Seriously, I'm more excited about this than you are.

3) Filet of the Day is a new section at the top of the blog where I bring you a new song to stream daily, which gets added to the site's playlist. Hit the play button at the top of the page if you haven't already to here the first one. These songs are handpicked with love. I will archive them so you can still listen to your favorites within the site at a later date. You can also download any streaming files on the site by right-clicking on the song link and selecting Download link target, Save target as, Download linked file, or whatever phrase your web browser uses.

4) Share This button at the end of each blog post lets you easily email a post to a friend OR post a link of any blog entry on a social networking site like Facebook. Spread the word if you love the music or know someone that would!! I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks everyone that's reading. Leave a comment with some feedback for me below.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Album: The Black Keys + Various Rappers - BlakRoc

This is by far the hottest rap collaboration of the last 5 years. Check out the preview trailer below to get excited for the album/collaborative project BlakRoc, to be released on Black Friday this year (Nov, 27). In a nutshell the concept is: Damon Dash (co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records) brings together famous rap/r&b artists [Billy Danze of M.O.P., Jim Jones, Nicole Wray, NOE, Ludacris, Mos Def, ODB, Pharoahe Monch, Q-Tip, Raekwon, & RZA] to collaborate on making an album produced by the blues-rock duo The Black Keys. Sounds crazy? No, it sounds so good I CAN'T STOP LISTENING. Check it below.



Here is the first SINGLE off the album by Jim Jones featuring Mos Def.

Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)

Jim Jones surprised me on this one with some poetic lyrics and Mos Def killed the chorus, both building on the heavy Black Keys beat with an old timey feel. So raw...

"You told me pain only shows you where you're going
You get the laughter and that shows you where you been
And when you get the cash that only shows you how to sin
Like when you getting fast money and you blow it in the wind

Where we from success one in a million
We thought success was getting money in front the building
End of the summer we was counting up the killings
Like they killed baby boy, tried to run up in the building - now

Love, I bruised one of her rose petals
She was from the concrete, came up out the cold ghetto
But so gentle, but it appears like
On a clear light it could thunder storm, want some more?"

-->YES I DO.

11 tracks, 11 artists, . Let the countdown to Black Friday begin.

Pre-Order the album HERE
More videos of the studio sessions HERE

*I will post the album for download when it is released*

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Concerts: October 2009


Duck Down Crew

I got 4 juicy October concert listings for my New York area folks that might make you spend some money in this recession...

Who: AUDIBLE TREATS CMJ SHOWCASE: SOULS OF MISCHIEF, TANYA MORGAN, TRINITY (A.G., Sadat X, DJ Jab), KAM MOYE aka SUPASTITION, ODDISEE
When: Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:00 PM
Where: Southpaw, Brooklyn
Ages: 18 and over
How Much: $5 advance/$10 day of show
Why you should go: Because underground hip hop lives in Brooklyn and it just feels so raw
Website

Who: Duck Down Showcase: Blue Scholars, Smif-N-Wessun, Buckshot, 9th Wonder, Da Beatminerz, Sean Price, Ruste Juxx, Skyzoo, Team Facelift, Kidz In The Hall, and Marco Polo & Torae
When: Saturday, October 24, 2009 9:00 PM
Where: The Gramercy Theatre, New York
Ages: 16 and over
How Much: Who cares? But seriously…$20
Why you should go: It’s actually not possible to fit all of these awesome rappers on the same stage. The universe might collapse on itself so enjoy this concert while we still exist. Oh yeah, and I'll be there.
Website

Who: Snoop Dogg, Redman, and Method Man
When: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 7:00 PM
Where: Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ
Ages: All? But shouldn’t be.
How Much: $40, but you know Ticketmaster, so that means $50 and parking is $6
Why you should go: Some of the coolest rappers to ever grace a stage come together to have a concert / cannabis cup.
Website

Who: CORMEGA with special guests LARGE PROFESSOR, HAVOC, FEME, LES, PREMIER, PETE ROCK, DR PERIOD, BUCKWILD
When: Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:00 PM
Where: SOB’s, New York
Ages: 21 and over
How Much: $15 at door
Why you should go: CD release party for Cormega’s New Album “Born & Raised”. For fifteen bucks at the door and all those guests, this would spice up anyone’s Thursday night.
Website

Think it over with this new video from Blue Scholars about Hawaii. And watch Sabzi eating throughout the whole video.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Filet-o-Mix 02 - Jay-Z - The BLACK[EST] Album

1. Intro [Pete Rock – The Black Album (Pete Rock Remixes) – 1:48]
2. December 4th [9th Wonder – Black is Back – 4:14]
3. What More Can I Say [9th Wonder – Black is Back – 3:39]
4. Encore [Jay-Z – The Black Album – 4:15] *Produced by Kanye West*
5. Change Clothes [Hasan Insane - The Pink Album – 4:21]
6. Dirt Off Your Shoulder [Kno – Kno vs. HOV: The White Al-bu-lum - 3:33]
7. Threat [Jay-Z – The Black Album – 4:07] *Produced by 9th Wonder*
8. Moment of Clarity [Hasan Insane - The Pink Album – 4:31]
9. 99 Problems [DJ Roli Fingaz: Fire Blends Pt. 7: Best of Jay-Z – 2:14]
10. Public Service Announcement [Jay-Z – The Black Album – 2:53] *Produced by Just Blaze*
11. Justify [Bach Logic – The Red Album – 3:56]
12. Lucifer [Danger Mouse – The Purple Album – 3:08]
13. Allure [Jay-Z – S. Carter The Re-Mix – 5:49]
14. My First Song [Jay-Z – The Black Album – 4:44] *Produced by Aqua & Joe “3H” Weinberger*
15. No More To Say (Bonus) [Bach Logic – The Red Album - 2:27]

This Filet-o-Mix is a special one because it was created through the work of a team. With the help of my two junior year college roommates, Wes and Antoine, the three of us put together what we feel is the ultimate compilation of remixes of Jay-Z's The Black Album. But before we get too much into the mix, you first need some background on this classic album. This will give you an idea about why The Black Album spawned a unique proliferation of remix albums that spans almost every color in the visual spectrum.

Jay-Z released arguably one of his best CD’s, The Black Album, in 2003 and separately released an A Cappella version of the album later that year. This turned out to be a masterful decision on his part because it sparked a whole movement of producers (some famous / some not) who tried their hand at remixing the hell out of Jay-Z’s phenomenal lyrics…and remix they did. Even well respected producers such as Kno of the CunninLynguists and 9th Wonder, formerly of Little Brother, released their own remix albums (The White Al-bu-lum & Black is Back, respectively) creating beats specifically for the project. Other DJ’s made “mash-ups” out of Jay-Z’s work, which are combinations of other people’s beats with lyrics from The Black Album A Cappella. Two noteworthy mash-ups are The Silver Album remixed by Bazooka Joe using RJD2 beats and The Black Album Pete Rock Remixes mixed by Quo. Of course, the most famous mash-up to date (that ended up putting DJ Danger Mouse on the map) is The Grey Album, which mixed The White Album by The Beatles with Jay-Z’s The Black Album (hence Grey). What was planned to be Jay-Z’s final album before retiring from rap music turned out to be more than HOV could have even imagined.

Getting back to MY remix album. After I had downloaded approximately 10+ remix albums, I was finally ready to do what I do best and sort through all of these songs to bring you the best of each Jay-Z track and compile them all into what I have dubbed The BLACK[EST] Album.

This is a public service announcement sponsored by Mike Fileti and the good folks formerly at room 1512…

Contributions
Antoine: The Red Album (JPN Import)
Wes: The Pink Album & The Purple Album

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Filet-o-Mix 01 – Love: The Most Dangerous Game

Tracklist
01 Eyedea&Abilities - Paradise
02 Tonedeff - Porcelain
03 I Self Divine - Love Song
04 DL Incognito - This Song
05 Little Brother - Starship
06 Shawn Wigs - Gotta Hold On Feat. Eamon
07 Common & Will.I.Am - I Want You
08 Looptroop - Fly Away Up To The Sky
09 The Roots - The Notic
10 Fort Minor - Whered You Go (Feat. Holly Brook and Jonah Matranga)
11 People Under The Stairs - More Than You Know
12 Atmosphere - Don't Ever Fucking Question That
13 Emanon - She Thinks
14 The Procussions - Miss January
15 CunninLynguists - Love Ain't (Remix)
16 Rjd2 & Vast Aire - The F Word (Remix)
17 Immortal Technique - You Never Know Feat. Jean Grae

This is the first official Filet-o-Mixtape people…and I promise it won’t be the last. Some of them will be random assortments of great songs, but most will be themed such as this one. The theme of this compilation is breakups and heartbreak. I’m positive that anyone who has gone through a rough breakup can relate to most of these songs and will appreciate the emotions they evoke.

For a few years I have been fascinated with the universal phenomenon of “falling in love”. In college, I had the chance to do a research project paralleling the neurobiology of drug addiction and romantic love and found that the two are extremely similar in how they overpower the brain’s reward circuitry to form addictions. This is why breakups from long-term relationships are so hard on people; because essentially you are overcoming an addiction to another person. Also, romantic love brings out the most extreme emotions from both sides of the spectrum, whether it be feelings of euphoria or eventual hatred towards another person. This strong emotional aspect is why love is the most popular topic of all in music. However, there are far fewer songs in rap music about love and breakups probably because the genre is seen as very masculine and writing songs about emotional highs and heartache are typically seen as a sign of weakness. However, in my opinion, rap songs about heartache and pain tell a very personal story that delves deep into human complexity. And rap is an amazing form of expression for conveying that depth.

On a side note about rappers with hurt feelings, check out the video by Flight Of The Conchords below.

The addiction aspect of being in love and going through several breakups myself has made me reanalyze my own definition of love and has made me much more cautious when "playing" this most dangerous game. I now bring you a compilation of the best rap songs I know of on the topic of heartache. I hope you will enjoy their complexity and the nostalgia that they arouse as I have for some time now.

In the words of Tonedeff: “Use caution and know that love ain’t nothing but a loss of control, off then we go…"

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