Sunday, April 25, 2010

Filet-o-Mix 09: Dedicated To The Struggle

Tracklist
01 2Pac - Me Against The World
03 Big L - Street Struck
04 Styles P - Listen
05 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up
06 The Notorious B.I.G. - Miss U
07 2Pac - Changes
08 The Notorious B.I.G. - Everyday Struggle
09 Nappy Roots - Po' Folks
10 2Pac - Keep Ya Head Up (Ft. Ann Nesby)
11 Styles P - My Brother
12 Ja Rule  - So Much Pain (Ft. 2Pac)
14 2Pac - Dear Mama
15 The Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy
17 Dr. Dre - The Message

I've been making hip hop mixtapes since pressing the record button on my tape deck to catch some 2Pac on the radio. Ah, those were the days. I remember it like it was yesterday. Fast forward about 5 years. Now computers have CD burners and I'm downloading mp3's and turning out mixes for myself and friends (Remember Napster in its heyday and how good it was?). What am I getting at? Well now it's 2010 and downloading singles seems to be the most popular way that we consume music these days (No more satisfaction of sifting through the shitty tracks on an album just to find the few true gems). But seriously, don't you miss the mix CD's you used to share with friends? In my eyes, the mix CD is still king even though the compact disc is essentially a dead format. Why you may ask then do I care so much about making Filet-o-Mix CD's if I know that the format is dead? Several reasons:

1) It's about the nostalgia factor that a mixtape evokes (Who doesn't love a good throwback?)
2) It's about creating a memorable, replayable, and permanent body of work
3) It's about taking the listener on an hour long journey instead of a 4 minute one. It's about me being able to convey my thoughts and feelings to you through the songs I pick and the order I put them in.

I feel that the next generation of iPod shufflers will lose touch with this last concept because the album is becoming less and less important as the technology shifts to an all digital format. Thus, since we no longer consume albums like we used to because much of albums these days is just filler, I have decided to put together no-filler mixtapes to acomplish what the "album" can no longer do. I'm taking a personal stand to keep the mixtape format alive by bringing back the feel of the old fashioned CD burner mixtape...

 This picture defines an era to me

In honor of this concept, it's time to take you back to the good old days. Back to the time when I was just hitting my mixtape stride. It was 2004 in my senior year of high school when I decided to make my very first themed mix entitled "Dedicated To The Struggle", which I have put here on my hip hop blog for download six years later. This single mixtape essentially birthed the entire concept for my current series of "themed" Filet-o-Mixes (I have about 30 more in the works right now). This Filet-o-Mix might be #9 in the series, but it will always be the first one I ever created and the songs on it definitely stand the test of time (all classics). Now what's the mix about?

As you could probably guess, this mix is about the artists' hardships/struggles in life and the will it takes to overcome them with central themes such as death, drugs, violence, poverty, and other social issues. You don't have to personally relate to the content of these songs to appreciate their universal themes and the feelings they evoke. Songs like these are filled with emotion and wisdom and beg for you to question the deeper meaning of life. Ultimately, that's why I love hip hop so much and appreciate the artform as much as I do. Please listen to these songs with your whole mind, body, and soul. I guarantee you will see a different side of hip hop then the one you're used to. Keep good hip hop alive my headphone-homies and spread this gift of music on your social networks. You never know whose day it will make or life it will change...

Peace & Love,
Filet Of Sole

2Pac - "Keep Ya Head Up" --> This song is beyond classic

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Artist: Blu

BLU
If you want to know why I moved to Los Angeles this Winter, all you have to do is listen to the good hip hop that comes out of the region. When I listen to these artists, I feel Cali seeping straight out of their words and their flow. Blu is one of those artists. To describe the artist: his lyrical creativity seems boundless, his flow is complex yet nonchalant, his beats channel the spirits of old souls trapped in the records he samples, and his lyrics are a reflective account on life - putting his insights, anecdotes, and emotions into his songs. Blu only speaks what's true to him and doesn't rap about anything not part of who he is. I really respect artists like this - one's that don't have to brag and fabricate stories to be either interesting, entertaining, or thought provoking.

I was first introduced to Blu by downloading his debut album, Below The Heavens (produced entirely by Exile) released in 2007. I must say I have vivid memories at college of where and when I listened to this album over and over again. It really is a stunning piece of work. Great songs such as "Soul Amazin' (Steel Blazin')", "The World Is...", "In Remembrance...", "Good Life (Show Me)", and "Blu Colla Workers" stand out in my mind for their sincerity. --> Download Below The Heavens

Blu - Blu Colla Workers

Then I moved onto the So(ul) Amazing (2008) mixtape, which again delivered a bundle of great songs like "Mars Remix", "Its Okay (Pt. One)", "Maintain", and "MyBoyBlu". Even though the mixtape didn't have a consistent feel (it was just a random collection of Blu songs), it showed his versatility by spitting on all different types of beats. It is a great compliment to his debut album. --> Download So(ul) Amazing

Next listen came an album entirerly produced by Blu and rapping by Sene called ADayLate&ADollarShort (2009). The album as a whole doesn't have much replay value, but the following songs are amazing: "JusASuggestion", "QuarterWaterSupporter", "PressPause", "TheWonderers", "WonLover", & "EyesDry: TheAfter". I can also remember exactly where I was when listening to this album. --> Download ADayLate&ADollarShort

Now I've just started dabbling with another new Blu mixtape (!!) called HerFavoriteColo(u)r released on for free on Valentine's day this year on Blu's MySpace page. Oh how I wish this mixtape was longer (it's only 30 minutes!). It uses many old time sounding jazz and soul samples that give the feeling of being in a 1930's movie (see video below for song "Amnesia"). By rapping over uniquely sampled beats, including a few instrumental tracks, and monologues from old recordings to paint the picture, Blu juxtaposes old and new sounds beautifully and in a way that no other rapper to my knowledge has done before. Way off the beaten path, this mixtape is for those looking for a change of pace in the rap race. --> Download HerFavoriteColo(u)r

Blu - Amnesia

Friday, April 9, 2010

Filet-o-Mix 08: J Dilla - Live Forever Vol. 1

"J Dilla - Live Forever Vol. 1"
Download HERE

Tracklist
01 A Tribe Called Quest - Get A Hold
02 Skyzoo - Hooded Angels
03 Little Brother - Hiding Place (Ft. Elzhi)
04 Common - The Light
05 De La Soul - Much More (Ft. Yummy)
06 Slum Village - I Don't Know (Ft. Jazzy Jeff)
07 The Pharcyde - Runnin'
08 Finale - Heat
09 MED - So Real
10 J Dilla - Make 'em NV
11 JayLib - The Red
12 Common - E=MC2
13 Oh No - Move (Ft. Roc C)
14 Common - The Movement
15 J Dilla - Won't Do
16 Raekwon - Ason Jones
17 Common - So Far To Go (Ft. D'Angelo)
18 The Roots - Can't Stop This
Leave a comment below if I left your favorite J Dilla produced tracks off here so I can include them in Vol. 2!

J Dilla (aka Jay Dee) is/was/will always be one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time, period, no questions asked. Here I have compiled my absolute favorite 18 Dilla produced songs. There are no straight up instrumentals on this mixtape since Dilla did so many amazing beats that it would be nearly impossible to choose his best ones without having a rapper on there to help discriminate (Although I will attempt to put out my favorite Dilla instrumentals mix later). Most of the time in hip hop music it's the MC that gets all the credit even though half of the track is clearly the producer's work. It almost feels like the rapping is the artwork and the beat is just the frame that surrounds it - well in the case of Dilla's beats, the frame is often the masterpiece. The documentary below on J Dilla reveals just how talented of a musician he was.



Dilla's beats have inspired the greatest hip hop visionaries from Common to Busta Rhymes to Questlove to A Tribe Called Quest. His work is extremely unique, yet he has a signature sound that can be identified by the trained hip hop ear. Dilla had the ability to make tracks that would inevitably make your head nod, whether it be a chill track like "Get A Hold" or an upbeat track like "E=MC2". Once described by a musical friend of mine, Dilla tracks often have something that many other producers can't capture in a song - Movement. A Dilla track often feels like it's propelling you forward with the mixture of its drums, chopped samples, deliberate pauses, and unique timing of layered sounds. It's like the track has a soul and its stirring. Jay Dee beats just seem to have more soul than other producers' beats. He had a superb ear for sampling, but what's more impressive is the way he arranged his samples to bring a track to life. If you like what you here on the mix, I highly recommend you buy J Dilla's beat tape Donuts (talked about in the documentary above), which he painstakingly edited in the hospital before his death from the autoimmune disease lupus in 2006. Honestly, his work could change your life. I know it changed mine.

You can order a "J Dilla Changed My Life" t-shirt HERE
{All proceeds go to Dilla's family}

Now I don't claim to own or have heard every J Dilla produced track/collab (frankly that's nearly impossible), but from the TON of Dilla songs that I do have, the tracks above are real standouts to me. And if you like these tracks, there will be a Vol. 2 lurking sometime in the future. Enjoy fellow hip hop heads.

Track 15. J Dilla - "Won't Do" --> btw Dilla was a great rapper too!
The video is just as futuristic as the beat.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mixtape: Yelawolf - Trunk Muzik

Tracklist
1. Trunk Muzik (3:40)
2. Stage Lights (Remix) (3:35)
3. Good to Go (feat. Bun B) (3:39)
4. Pop the Trunk (3:49)
5. Box Chevy Pt 3 (feat. Rittz) (4:23)
6. F.U. (3:15)
7. Lick the Cat (feat. Diamond) (3:36)
8. Speak Her Sex (feat. Nikkiya) (2:53)
9. I Wish (feat. Raekwon) (4:30)
10. In This Club (4:00)
11. Love Is Not Enough (3:46)
12. Mixin Up the Medicine (Remix) (feat. Juelz Santana) (4:06)

Yelawolf is an unlikely character in hip hop. A white guy from Alabama with a long black rat tail who is obsessed with Chevys and shotguns. But guess what? He has carved out a niche for himself that has gotten him enough buzz to get signed to Interscope. Now you might think to yourself that this is just a short-lived novelty thing, but after hearing this mixtape I know that this dude has a real future in the hip hop game. He has such a unique style, mixing trunk rattling bass heavy crunk music (hence the title Trunk Muzik) with a captivatingly intense and dexterous flow spitting about rural Alabama themes (just peep the video below to see what I mean). The only true way to appreciate this album is to put it on your car stereo and turn the bass all the way up. If it doesn't make your mirrors shake then your speakers suck and you should probably get that corrected immediately. Although there isn't too much depth in his lyrics, there is one true gem on here - track 11 (listen above) where Yela spits about heartbreak from a breakup with his girl. I was psyched to see that he could do a track like this and I await to hear more like it in the future. If you are skeptical about Yela's place in rap music then he has one thing to say to you, "I wish a muthafucka would tell me that I ain't hip hop. BITCH YOU AIN'T HIP HOP".

Yelawolf - Pop The Trunk (Track 4)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Filet-o-Mix 07: 23 'til Infinity EP


Mixtape Themes: Love, Breakups, Perseverance, Money, Business, Friends, Dreams, Adversity, Girls, & Reminiscing on the simpler times

Tracklist
01 Sway - Still On My Own
02 Scribe - Dreaming
03 DJ Quik - Summer Breeze
04 Celph Titled - Me and My Friends (Ft. Apathy & One Two)
05 Showbiz & AG - Fat Pockets (Off Beat Dance)
06 Looptroop - Business & Pleasure
07 Macklemore - Love Song
08 Skyzoo - Comeback

The ripe age of twenty-three is such a pivotal time in the human life cycle that I would say that it's the fulcrum on the seesaw of life (yes, pun intended) - It's the point in the maturation process when you can finally peek over the edge into the future and realize the immense possibilities in life while you look back at your past and reflect on how you got where you are.

This EP is about the themes and struggles of the 23 year old. I put this EP together because I realized that a few of my favorite songs are about what it's like to be my current age. Each song has a line about being 23 and this simple fact means that many of these songs are introspective and self-reflective, which you'll see after you listen to them. Some of them are extremely relevant in my life and some might be more relevant in yours. As an MC or musician, it's important to have your fans identify with your music. One of my favorite MC's, Macklemore, put it best in his song Kings by saying "be a mirror to the people when they're searching for truth". Ultimately, I made this EP because I connect with the songs and my hopes are that the other 23 year olds of the world will connect with them too.

Now let's get into the music shall we.
Sway - Still On My Own
"I'm only 23, but I feel like I'm older. Developed a hunchback from carrying the world on my shoulders. In a world full of motives in the land of Tony Blair, it's hard to BBC (see) my dreams and stay focused. And I've always been a loner in the form of a trio, the three amigos with me, myself, and I - uno mio."

Scribe - Dreaming
"I'm 23 and I just want to be me. Want to be free. Want to be everything I can be. But I don't have many choices, can't afford to be wrong. All I do is try to stay true to the words of my song. Just don't hesitate and wait too long cause like a dream when you wake up its gone...its gone."

DJ Quik - Summer Breeze
"Now I'm 23 and I remember the times when we was chillin' like villains and didn't have no nines. Like when we used to mob to beaches to kick it and swim, now I hang around and watch the tides come in. And I'm thinking how many funerals I've been to, watching all my homies get buried in them boxes they put 'em into."

Celph Titled Ft. Apathy & One Two - Me and My Friends
"Yo, the crew I roll with - cold as hell. We own the streets like OG's own the jails. Mack college bitches, they know us well, but now that I'm 23 I feel old as hell."

Showbiz & A.G. - Fat Pockets
"My pockets stay fat, and they always like that. Not only in my pocket in my bank there's stacks and stacks - of dough, cause I move slow. I get my cash flow. Then I go and brother's don't know I'm on the down low. Some get mad 'cause they can't understand, that I'm 23 years old. I'm in command!"

Looptroop - Business & Pleasure
"They say don't mix business with pleasure, you know what that means? Ain’t a rapper with a deal that's pleased. Some don't see where they run, so they run to the sea like lemmings. Drown in despair 'cause they depending. All dressed in designer underwear, but most rhymers are unaware - lyrically impaired. And not prepared to battle me. Been doing this since Karate Kid and Police Academy. A twenty-three years young man, with no suntan, always was a KRS-One fan."

Macklemore - Love Song
"I'm getting older now, 23 years old and half of me just wants to make the move and go and settle down. The other half's like 'hell no you better mess around, don't let me down, especially when you got an album coming out'. When I first saw you I'm like 'awww shit, goddamnit look what God did, Hail Mary Jesus'."

Skyzoo - Comeback
"You a hot one girl, believe I'm a fan, but I don't want you running round like you got a man. I'm only 23 with a lot of life in front of me, and there's a lot of types I wanna see. And I can't give you my all, when part of me still wanna answer my calls."

Enjoy.

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