Sunday, July 4, 2010

Filet-o-Mix 13: Recapturing That Feeling

"Recapturing That Feeling"
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This is a MUST download!! 
Tracklist
This Filet-o-Mix is a VERY SPECIAL ONE - one that I could only put out on the 1 year anniversary of the creation of my hip hop blog (and incidentally our country's independence day). This is a mixtape that truly embodies the soul of hip hop down to its very core. One that exudes not only passion for the craft, but respect for the history of the genre. The concept for this mix was to "recapture that feeling" in hip hop that has steadily dwindled in the last 15 years. What "feeling" you may ask? I'm talking about the raw energy, the pure vibe, the prolific talent, the battling, the respect, and the love that was present in hip hop's infancy up all the way through the death of two of it's greatest orators, Biggie & 2Pac in '96. These 17 songs that I've chosen (all of which came out after the year 2002) should make you feel like your listening to hip hop back in '94 (around the height of the golden era of hip hop). To me, this is what hip hop sounds like when its created out of love and necessity rather than for money or fame. These songs don't have high paid producers or any guest rapping features - they are unadulterated yet refined. To learn more about why I chose these specific songs, read the liner notes for the mixtape below.

Liner Notes
-The title of this mix comes from the first word of the first track "Recapturing The Vibe" and the last two words of the last track "Chase That Feeling", both songs by the group Hilltop Hoods. The mixtape artwork is made from a photo that I took at a Jay-Z concert in Paris, where I started a "HOVA" chant to make Jay-Z come back on stage and perform the song "Encore" (track 16 on this mix). Everyone in the crowd threw up the ROC diamond.

01 Hilltop Hoods - Recapturing The Vibe (Music Video)
This song is a perfect example of that energy that I was talking about above. Appropriately titled, "Recapturing The Vibe" perfectly blends sampling, scratching, and a building beat with poignant lyrics that pack a punch, line after line. Paying homage to the struggle while spitting flames of braggadocio. Now that's real hip hop for ya!

02 Masta Ace - Nostalgia (Music Video)
Who better than to throw down a nostalgic history of hip hop track than Masta Ace, a man who has stayed underground and true to the roots of hip hop for his entire career starting around 1988. By painting a mental portrait of the environment in which hip hop was birthed, Masta Ace drops knowledge about the foundation upon which the blueprint of hip hop was designed created.


03 De La Soul - Much More (Ft. Yummy)
Turn it up loud. No... LOUDER!! DJ Premier opens the song by invoking the question "Y'all care anymore about this hip hop man!?" as if to say to any person listening that if they don't start respecting hip hop's roots then the whole culture will die and fade away. Yet De La Soul set out to prove in this track that they will never let hip hop go belly-up, by spitting loveliness over this triumphant and soulful J Dilla beat.

04 Blue Scholars - Joe Metro (Music Video)
One of the most beautiful pieces of poetry to ever describe a simple bus ride, Geologic (the MC from Blue Scholars) gives you a glimpse through his eyes gazing upon his hometown of Seattle, the place that fueled his creativity and involvement with hip hop. You actually see the environment as his words bring the city to life and the anonymous people he speaks about become characters on the stage of life. We've all taken this bus ride before, so I'm sure you can relate.

05 Common - Be (Music Video)
The energy, the passion, the charizma - it's all there on Common's intro track to his 2005 album "Be". The lyrics are as rejuvenating as the layered jazzy beat with an improvising keyboardist throughout the whole track. Common makes you feel life's struggle in his lyrics, but reassures you that triumph is right around the corner. Go ahead, I dare you not to memorize the words. "The present is a gift, and I just wanna be".


06 The Roots - Can't Stop This
Arguably my favorite beat of all time, J Dilla's - Time (Donut Of The Heart), was appropriated by The Roots to do a tribute track to the late J Dilla. Yet this is no ordinary tribute track. Black Thought (the MC of the Roots) takes "the struggle" of his people and makes it palpable. More of an ode to hip hop, Black Thought uses his prowess on the mic to uplift, reciting "They can't stop this, I want my peoples to rock this. Bang this music in your speakers and boxes. Langston Hughes is 'bout as deep as my thoughts is, sit back and I'ma paint you a portrait". How can you not get engulfed by this track on all sides?

07 Slum Village - Time Has Come
When it comes to lyricism, flow, and imagery it probably doesn't get much better than Elzhi of Slum Village (the 1st and 3rd verses). Proclaiming "My words is just emotional, spoken from the bottom of the totem poll", Elzhi states his formula very eloquently by explaining that the culture of hip hop was originally built by those with nothing solely as a product of needing to have an outlet for their creativity, energy, and emotions. The lyrics in this song arouse a sense of urgency, as time keeps on slipping...


08 People Under The Stairs - Keepin It Live
A testament to staying true to self and the hip hop culture, the People Under The Stairs have never sacrificed their integrity or became something they were not in order to gain success. To quote KRS One, "rap is something we do and hip hop is something you live". PUTS live, eat, breathe, and sleep hip hop culture. The song chronicles their struggle: coming to grips with following their passion, devoting their lives to hip hop, and having the courage to stand up and shout "I'm bboy for life, so fuck the suit and the tie". PUTS embody what it is to "live" hip hop culture.


09 Shad - Get Up
Open your ears and your mind when Shad speaks. Truly speaking for the people, the Toronto-based rapper gives strong and empowering words to the downtrodden and brings light to social issues that keep those folks down. "Get up, even if they knock us down they can't stop us, smile right back at 'em, laugh and then get up! Actions speak louder than a thousand talkers, so make 'em blast that in they walkmans". This song recaptures the social activism portion of hip hop by inspiring people to get involved to solve problems instead of just playing the sidelines. The world needs more songs like this that inspire action.


10 Reks - Dear Winter
Plight is all around us, yet we often don't see it because it's not right in front of our eyes. All you have to do is listen to songs like "Dear Winter" to understand the serious need for reform and change of the status quo sometimes. Reks asks earnestly "Dear winter, how am I supposed to sympathize with recession? We been in a great depression all our lives". Hip hop has taught me a countless number of lessons in my lifetime, but one of the most important ones is to know that many people in this world have it a lot worse than you do, so just be thankful for what you have and be humble about it. Songs like this are great because they bring awareness to the plight of others.

11 Rashid Hadee - Set In Stone (Street Lights)
Conviction. This song has it. Knowing what you want, taking a chance, facing your fears, and pursuing it - "do or die" is how Rahid Hadee explains his conviction to hip hop music. Hadee passionately states, "I don't give a fuck, you could give me nothing, 'cause even if it's nothing at all it's still something. Trust it, believe it, give it, and receive it. They say if you can dream it, then you can achieve it." If your not inspired by the intensity with which he believes in his own optimism, then I'm not sure what will get you going.

12 Common Market - Connect For
Another one of my favorite beats, masterfully created by Sabzi (of Blue Scholars and Common Market), "Connect For" is an anthem that gives you the feeling that you can overcome whatever is holding you back. With boundless optimism and strength, chanting "bring the rain, we remain faithful", RA Scion (the MC of Common Market) explains that through connection and collaboration with our fellow brethren we can make it through whatever storm comes our way.

13 Joell Ortiz - Hip Hop (Music Video)
One of the realest portrayals of what hip hop really IS - it's a feeling, it's a style, it's a dance, it's a gesture, it's an energy, it's a lifestyle that you "wake up hip hop and go to sleep hip hop". Joell Ortiz has the fiery passion that only someone with hip hop injected deep in their veins could display. The emotion overcomes him as he boasts the self-confidence that only the hip hop culture could breed. "Yup I'm feeling myself, that sound right. You gotta step in that ring like "listen I'll pound Mike". You gotta step on that court like "I could hold down Mike". The way I step on that stage and have the whole crowd like, AWW MAN". Joell lets the culture live through him as he proclaims "I dream 'bout hip hop, 'cause I am hip hop!".

14 Termanology - Watch How It Go Down (Music Video)
If anyone could set a vocal both on fire, it's Termanology, with his omnipotent lyrical presence on "Watch How It Go Down" spitting some socially conscious raging vigilante rap. Term brings the issues of the hood to light and then says "fuck it" because his anger gets the best of him like a new age 2Pac spitting in the lens of the video camera. On the track he boasts, "But I shall never hold my tongue, before that, I roll my blunt and load my gun", showing that freedom of speech is one of the most powerful rights we have as Americans and to defend the first amendment Termanology will gladly support the second. You can feel the flames building in his heart as he raps word after word without pause for chorus continuously adding to the urgency of his message.

15 Reks - Self Titled
As soon as the beat drops with the scratched samples in the chorus, you can tell this one has the elements all right. When the storytelling Reks drops his verse laying out his struggle as a child and the dreams that guided his young mind as an aspiring artist. This is a story about triumph, hope, and nostalgia as he remembers the days of old and the inspiration that made him the man who he is today. Who doesn't love an underdog story?! Tell me that doesn't give you the chills? And it was all a dream...

16 Jay-Z - Encore
The song is basically perfect - the supposed "outro" to Jay-Z's career in rap as he threatened retirement after The Black Album. The story of the meteroric rise to the apogee of hip hop music in less than a decade. A underdog kid from the projects threatens to leave the profession that he helped turn hip hop into a billion dollar industry. Piano fades out into black with applause. FUCKING EPIC!!!

17 Hilltop Hoods - Chase That Feeling (Music Video)
We all "chase that feeling". What is life about besides trying to get that next "high"? That next accomplishment? Reaching, striving, scratching, fighting, hitting the ground running as fast as you can and hoping you don't slip. Hilltop Hoods crafted a song that you can use to inspire you to keep chasing whatever feeling that makes your life worth living. For them, it was hip hop music, and their success was the best revenge through all the obstacles that they encountered.

"And I’ma chase that feeling,
Take that pain and replace that feeling,
And I’ma take that healing then,
Stand so tall they’ll have to raise that ceiling man

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