Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Passion of the Weiss: The Making of Danny Brown's "XXX"

When I was younger, I remember reading the XXL Classic Album features where they'd delve into the origins of standards like Only Built 4 Cuban Linx or Reasonable Doubt. I listened to Detroit rapper Danny Brown's album XXX more than anything else last year. I don't know what more I can say about it that I haven't said elsewhere. So as a fan I spoke with Danny and every producer on the project to explain their musical contributions and the storyline behind the album track by track. I'm really proud of this piece and honoured by the great response I've gotten from SPIN, Prefix Magazine and Danny's own Tumblr.

Click Danny's thesis statement to read the whole thing.

The Hybrid was dealing with teenage pregnancy, welfare and drug abuse — it’s way more socially conscious. The process was just to make a cohesive-sounding project and show my range. XXX wasn’t about that, because I felt like I already proved that. It’s about the moment. The pressure was different because there were a lot more people paying attention to my music, so I had to think differently. XXX is me experimenting and seeing how far I can push listeners with what I do. Before I didn’t think I could really do [rhyming] patterns like Elzhi, Eminem, dudes like that. They probably got rhyming dictionaries or thesauruses and whatever. I just got like two grades of regular hood nigga vocabulary and tried to play with that. I figured out a way to do it.

And listen to the album if you haven't heard it already right here.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Passion of the Weiss: The 50 Best Hip Hop Songs of 2011 (#50-26)

Like we always do about this time. First half of Top 50 raps of '11 up now. Wrote about Fat Trel's "Rollin" (#49), Rittz's "Rattle Back" (#46) and Killer Mike's "Ric Flair" (#42). Above, the video for Ka's "Cold Facts" (#35), one of the most overlooked tracks this year. Ka strips gritty NY raps to the bare essentials, a barely-there guitar loop and dead-eyed staring into the project abyss. Can't wait to hear his album.

Click my take on "Ric Flair" to read the whole shebang. #25-1 on Monday, spread the word.

Ric Flair was a loud, flashy wrestler with irrepressible charisma, a taste for expensive clothes, and an unexplainable hold over women. He was in a lot of ways the first rapping wrestler. Killer Mike’s track is not the first rap song dedicated to Ric Flair (Cam’ron has that honour) but in many ways Mike taps into what Ric represented to rap music: unstoppable braggadocio. Three verses sum up what makes Killer Mike great: a blend of wisdom (“Long as you chase money, you ain’t gotta chase women”), big balling “(getting buried like a pharaoh”) and ignorance (“got two Nickis menaging for the Gucci”). The stomping drums and soulful crooning backing Mike makes it sound like a inauguration address, Killa Kill addressing the people from behind a golden podium. Just some game for a student from a teacher, and you’d be wise to pay attention. Wooo.

Passion of the Weiss: Matthews On Mathers - The Eminem Show

Wrote about The Eminem Show for my regular Matthews On Mathers column at the Passion. Read and tell me what you think. Album doesn't hold up like Slim Shady LP or the MM LP (which also sound dated) but it's an interesting listen.

The Eminem Show dropped in 2002 at the height of boy band fever and effectively ended the boy-band era in the U.S. by selling 1 million copies in its first week.After a short intro, we hear “White America”, where Em thoughtfully dissects the machinations that allowed a poor white kid from 8 Mile to dominate TV and radio. The partnership with Dr. Dre that took him from underground curiosity, to where “every fan black that I got was probably his in exchange for every white fan that he got/like damn, we just swapped.” Em’s presence on Dre’s 2001 was crucial to re-establishing the super producer’s commercial relevance, with “Forgot About Dre” and “What’s The Difference” re-minting Dr. Dre as an A-lister. And so baby blue eyes and blonde hair made Eminem a star.

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