Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Filet-o-Mix 04: Mind Travel - An Introspective Mix

Download HERE 
And Let Your Mind Travel...

This is the fourth CD in the Filet-o-Mix series - where I present you with carefully selected and themed hip hop mixtapes. The theme for this mix is "Mind Travel" by which I mean the process that the mind goes through upon heavy introspection. Each of these songs has a real thought provoking quality to them; whether it's soul-touching lyrics like those in "Rise And Shine", "Some Of The People", "No Hope", and "Father" or trance-inducing beats such as those of "Bottle Rocket", "Sky Might Fall", "It Lives", and "Mars Remix". Needless to say, this is a mix best appreciated with headphones and a chill place to think/relax. If you're interested in knowing what goes into the "making of" these Filet-o-Mixes, continue reading below the video.

Tracklist
01 Lushlife - Bottle Rocket
02 Keelay & Zaire - The Times Ft. Blu, Fortilive & Nino Moschella
03 Inverse - Rise And Shine
04 Khizman - That's Life Ft. Skyzoo
05 Gift Of Gab - Some Of The People
06 Blue Scholars - Southbound
07 Statik_Selektah - Do What I Believe Ft. Bahamadia
08 PUSH - This Place
09 Tonedeff - No Hope Ft. Deacon The Villain
10 Kid Cudi - Sky Might Fall
11 Dark Time Sunshine - It Lives
12 Mos Def - History Ft. Talib Kweli
13 Inverse - Spark My Soul Ft. Substantial
14 Blu - Mars (Remix)
15 Fashawn - Father
16 Sol - Never D.I.E.
17 People Under The Stairs - Carried Away

Here is the video for track 2 off the mix called "The Times" produced by Keelay & Zaire and rapping by Blu, Fortilive, & Nino Moschella


The "making of" Mind Travel:
Sometimes theme's for CD's just emerge as the songs are compiled. In this case, I was making this mixtape as a Christmas present by going through about 30 recently downloaded albums (hence the majority of songs are from 2009). As I picked songs based on snippets of beats, I noticed that I was picking them based on my mood at the time (hence the introspective feel). So really the mixtape can be seen as a reflection of one night's musical journey through my frantic yet thoughtful mind (it takes "frantic" to go through nearly 500 new songs in a night over the course of about 5 focused hours). And that's just picking the songs. The process to create the finished product involves cutting out the songs that either aren't good enough or don't fit the theme. Then comes properly ordering the tracks, which believe it or not is extremely important for the flow of a project like this and usually takes me over an hour to get right. However, the end result of this hard work is a mixtape for everyone to enjoy. Now go listen!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Song Comparison: Sway - This Is My Demo vs. Fit 4 A King


Sway - This Is My Demo - Intro to This Is My Demo --> Lyrics
vs.
Sway - Fit 4 A King - Intro to The Signature LP --> Lyrics


These are two of the illest album intro's that I have ever heard - both coming from consecutive LP's from the UK rapper Sway (aka Sway DaSafo). The rest of the two albums have their share of gems, but all the other tracks pale in comparison to these two epic anthems.

Seriously, upon first listen you will most likely not absorb a single word of either song. These two beats combined with Sway's unpredictably fluctuating and rapid-fire delivery are too awesomly distracting to pay attention to what he is saying (his English accent might throw you off as well). However, with an increasing number of listens you will start to notice more and more of each track's subtle complexities as well as their analogs in song structure. For example both songs have: 1) Approximately one minute of build-up before the first verse 2) Three verses with a spoken interlude leading into the start of the third verse 3) A central focus on frantic rapping while still maintaining understandable lyrics and 4) An underdog theme with a triumphant soundscape.

It seems that Sway has found a repeatable formula for the most EPIC album intro ever (both of which he produced). Let's just say his next album's intro has a whole lot to live up to after these two tracks. Yet, I have no doubt that he will deliver another classic.

*Note: The lyrics websites that I have linked to are not completely accurate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Album: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The VS. EP (2009)


(Do NOT miss this!!)

This new EP that dropped today is what I've been looking for in Hip Hop music for a few years now, ever since I started fantasizing about what elements would comprise my ideal hip hop album (more on that in a future post). To date, this EP is the closest manifestation I have come across. The concoction of a downright passionate, intelligent, self-reflective lyricist (Macklemore) mixed with a visionary producer willing to overstep boundaries (Ryan Lewis), throw in superb live instrumentation that hip hop as an art form is lacking in general (violin, trumpet, drums), and what you get in this project is a seamless bond between new sounds that excite and tantalize the hip hop senses. Is this what hip hop has been missing...? I think so. Is this a new branch sprouting off of hip hop's genealogical tree...? Only time will tell...


Macklemore (left) & Ryan Lewis (right)

Now about the Music. The music is an overall AMAZING experience (I'm learning that you can't write about how music sounds, so just take my word for it and listen to the 7 tracks already!).

Now about the EP. Two things make this project even more unique than what's stated above: 1) The brilliant concept behind the production on the EP and 2) The motivation behind the lyricist and his content. First, the production concept by Ryan Lewis was to blatantly sample extremely sonically appealing parts of songs from relevant contemporary bands (these artists include The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, Arcade Fire, Beirut, Antony and the Johnsons). Lewis's willingness to expand the concept of hip hop by appropriating unconventional contemporary rock samples shows a true passion for making music (especially because they cannot release this EP for sale due to copyright laws). In my opinion, blurring genre lines like this is necessary for hip hop's revival (meaning a true separation between shitty hip hop and good hip hop will emerge not only on a sonic level, but on a conceptual level as well).

The second unique quality of the project involves the motivations behind the lyricism. Most MC's lack what Macklemore has... a reason for making music. This man quite literally makes music to live. As he states in his song "Inhale Deep" on his first album The Language of My World "If I'm not making music, why the fuck am I existing?". Music has no doubt been the driving force recently that has helped save this talented man's life from personal struggles with drug addiction and severe depression (read this fascinating article to find out more). Now, through faith and music, Macklemore's spirit has risen once again to new heights of creativity. Not many MC's have that all important reason behind making their music like Macklemore does... and if you notice, all of his tracks have a topic of focus as opposed to many rappers who never have anything significant to speak at length on. If you only listen to one thing from my blog this year, make it this.

Previous posts on Macklemore:
1) Album: Macklemore - The Unplanned Mixtape (2009)
2) Album: Macklemore - The Language Of My World (2005)

Damn I wish I had been at the VS. EP release party!

"We put our glass to the sky and lift up. And live tonight cause you can't take it with ya. So raise a pint for the people that aren't with us. And live tonight cause you can't take it with ya" - Macklemore - Irish Celebration

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Album: Macklemore - The Unplanned Mixtape (2009)


01 The Town
02 At The Party
03 The Club
04 American
05 Nxnw Remix Ft. Geologic &
06 Fallin
07 Church Ft. Geologic
08 Letterhead Remix Ft. Sapient & Illmaculate
09 Keep Marching Ft. XP
10 And We Danced

I have been bumpin' this mixtape in my car for 3 weeks now. I can't seem to get over tracks 1, 2, & 7. This is some real hip hop right here. The first track "The Town" is Macklemore's tribute to Seattle and the hip hop culture that exists there. Macklemore fills the track with emotion as he connects his city, his music, and their past all in one passionate song. Check the video below for "The Town" performed live. In the second track "At The Party", Macklemore tells the story of hip hop's past to present with a slight twist. He overviews the entire history and transitions of hip hop music in less than 5 minutes telling the story as if he walked into a party in 1979 and ended the night in 2009. Every single line in the song is a chronological reference to something that happened in hip hop's 30 year history. Then in the 7th track, Geologic of the group Blue Scholars teams up with Macklemore to talk about their views on religion in the song "Church". Both rappers come to the same conclusion over a simple but compelling beat; that you need to question organized religion and that God or faith can be found in the music itself. As Macklemore explains, "The spirit's right here and I don't have to see it. Now everytime I wanna connect with God put my headphones on, then I nod, grab my pen my pad let it seep in. And that's my process. God's always watching. Got God in my Walkman. Go ahead and top that". I can really connect with this message.

I ran across a quote on Macklemore's MySpace page recently by Bruce George (Def Poetry Jam Co-founder) that read "He is Common and Eminem personified". Two of my favorite rappers in one person? I knew there was something I loved about him that I couldn't figure out. Macklemore's newest project the VS. EP produced by Ryan Lewis is being released for digital download on December 15th. Check back here for my post on that soon! I'm ridiculously excited.

The two videos below are of Macklemore live in concert. Can't you just feel his positive energy flowing through the crowd!? He looks absolutely elated to be rapping for his fans.

Macklemore - 'The Town' (Live at Bumbershoot Festival 2009 in Seattle - w/ live violin and trumpet)


Blue Scholars bring Macklemore out on stage at Soundset 2009 in Minneapolis to freestyle...

"Alright, we travel down a long road. Now, who knows where these songs go? I know. I rock it like this with the scenery, photoshop the overcast city that just lives in me. Southside Seattle, a whole lots happening, probably not a lot different than what's in Minneapolis. And my profession out here, making heads nod. And I wear headphones to my desk job. That's my revival, that's my freestyle, get onstage and forget my verse in this freestyle. That's right, they call me a terrorist, afterwards steal some shit from the Mall of America. Come back to the audience, share with ya. That's right, as Sabzi's snares hit ya. Speak the truth, honest, you know we be on it. Macklemore and Blue Scholars, hands up."- Macklemore's Freestyle

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Filet of the Day #2: November '09 (Archive)


"I bring you the needle in the record stack"

For those of you that missed last month's post, the Filet Of The Day section is a place where I present a new song that I'm currently feeling that day. The songs are mostly new ones as I discover more and more artists and songs, but on occasion I look back to the past for inspiration. My intention is to give you a wide range of different artists to listen to in hopes to bring exposure to the underexposed talent out there.

Download HERE - November '09
<11/1/09> Styles P - The Struggle (Prod. by Large Professor)
<11/2/09> Reach - How To Fish (Prod. by Dela)
<11/3/09> Brother Ali - Bad Mufucker Pt. 2
<11/4/09> Macklemore - My Language (Prod. by Budo)
<11/5/09> People Under The Stairs - Carried Away
<11/6/09> Cashmere The PRO - Clap Ft. Celph Titled & Oktober (Prod. by Kno)
<11/7/09> Sol - No Sleep Ft. Grynch (Prod. by Jack The Ripper)
<11/8/09> Souls Of Mischief - Let Em Know
<11/9/09> Zion I - Temperature Ft. Talib Kweli (Prod. by AmpLive)
<11/10/09> Masta Ace & Edo G (A&E) - Ei8ht Is Enuff (Prod. by Frank Dukes)
<11/11/09> Mr. SOS - The Balance (Prod. by Quincey Tones)
<11/12/09> CunninLynguists - Imperial Ft. Freddie Gibbs (Prod. by Kno)
<11/13/09> Kam Moye (aka Supastition) - Blue Skies
<11/14/09> Prince Paul (Producer) - Pain Ft. Sha & Breezly Brewin
<11/15/09> R.A. the Rugged Man - Black And White Ft. Timbo King (Prod. by Dev One)
<11/16/09> Masta Killa - Masta Killa (Prod. by Baby Dooks)
<11/17/09> Oh No - Move Ft. Roc C (Prod. by J Dilla)
<11/18/09> Sene & Blu - QuarterWaterSupporter
<11/19/09> Fat Joe - John Blaze Feat. Nas, Big Punisher, Raekwon, & Jadakiss
<11/20/09> Black Milk - Overdose
<11/21/09> DJ Honda (Producer) - Fuk Dat Ft. Sean Black
<11/22/09> Finale - The Senator (Produced By Waajeed)
<11/23/09> Hilltop Hoods - The Hard Road
<11/24/09> M.anifest - Just Like A Lion (Prod. by Budo)
<11/25/09> M.O.P. - Salute A G (Prod. by DR Period)
<11/26/09> L.O.X. - I Wanna Thank You
<11/27/09> BlakRoc / The Black Keys - Done Did It Ft. Nicole Wray & NOE
<11/28/09> Macklemore - Church Ft. Geologic
<11/29/09> Mr. SOS - Intro (off of Mr. SOS For President)
<11/30/09> Termanology - So Amazing (Prod. by DJ Premier)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Album: Shad - The Old Prince (2007)


Tracklist:
1. Intro: Quest for Glory
2. I Don’t Like To
3. What We All Want (feat. Kamau and Relic the Oddity)
4. Brother (Watching) (feat. B and F Kabango)
5. Now a Daze
6. The Old Prince Still Lives at Home
7. Out of Love Pt. 2
8. The Last Three Years Interlude
9. I Heard You Had a Voice Like an Angel/Psalm 137
10. Compromise
11. Exile
12. Get Up
13. Outro

Ladies & Gentleman, I want to introduce you to a little thing called lyricism. Now just because a rapper says something like "I spit hot fire" does not mean they actually do. The world has too many rappers like "Dylan" (Chappelle Show Reference) and not enough like Shad. However, after you hear some music by the Canadian rapper Shad (from London, Ontario), you might start to understand what the term "lyricism" really means. The man is full of lines that could leave you thinking, "Damn, did he really just say that?". I'll give you three examples of his amazing lyrics from The Old Prince after this quasi-freestyle by the man himself. Listen to the lyrics!



1. "I put the smack down like it's rehab, make sure that there's no relapse with these cats, y'all cowards couldn't (w)rap this dope with a zig-zag" - 'I Don't Like To'
2. "Know who the staff you roll with is, Your staff can turn to snakes like Moses's" - 'Now a Daze'
3. "I call my car Roc-A-Fella cause it's got a broke Dash" - 'Now a Daze'
[In case you didn't get all that: "smack" = heroin, "zig-zag" = a brand of rolling papers, "Dash" = Damon Dash (former Co-President of Roc-A-Fella Records)]

His use of double entendre is just filthy. On top of all his amazing wordplay, Shad's lyrics reflect the fact that he is an extremely humble, introspective, and conscious dude. But he also has got a humorous side. If you like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then you need to check his music video for the The Old Prince Still Lives At Home. Shad is currently studying part-time for a master's degree in Vancouver and at the same time following his dreams of making good music. Check out this unofficial music video below for a beautiful visual accompaniment to one of his newest songs. You won't be disappointed!

Shad Ft. Jermiside & The Destruments - 'The Calling' (first two verses by Shad, last one by Jermiside)


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