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.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Exclaim!: Redman/Mad Child/In The Raw Concert Review

Caught Redman with the diminuitive cracker Mad Child on Sunday and they tore it down. Red has an incredible amount of energy and enthuiasm for a 41 year old, he just looks like he's having a good time 24/7. Most importantly, he played "I'll Bee Dat"...but not before he led the crowd in shouting "Fuck you Redman". God bless him.
Click the excerpt below for the whole megillah.

"How many of y'all remember '92?" Red inquired before launching into "Time 4 Sum Aksion," prompting instantaneous moshing and fist-pumping. Newer Red/Method Man tracks "City Lights" and the Saukrates-assisted "A-Yo" got equally warm reception. Red then demanded the audience shout "Fuck you Redman" before deigning to play the chest-rattling punchline fest "I'll Bee Dat."

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bad Bad Leroy Brown

I'm bad at updating this, life happens.
Proud of this feature on Toronto's own Badbadnotgood, which you can see in this month's Exclaim! I also recently reviewed Exile's 4TRK Mind and had a very interesting conversation with J-Live, where he touched on the differences between teaching and rapping, pause tapes and being a triple threat.

I also reviewed Tha Carter IV, which hasn't grown on me since I last played it. My opinion still stands a month and a half later, what do you think?

Over at XXL, I gave Evidence's Cats & Dogs a solid L rating. Honestly, a solid record but nothing life-changing.

In other news:
Danny Brown's XXX is definitely in my top 5 for '11 now, happy to stand by the Mark of Excellence I gave it back in August. Can't believe how much dude has progressed in two years. Is there a better song to blast at 2am than "Bruiser Brigade"? I haven't heard it.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Catching Up

Photo Via Spacesick

A few recent pieces, since I haven't checked in here in a while.
Also been blogging for my new gig at Good World Games over at our Tumblr. Try our 1st game MyConservationPark today and tell me what you think!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Everything Was Going According To Plan, Man

That line above breaks my heart every time I hear it. RIP Subroc.
I wrote about Stones Throw's crazy deluxe remastered reissue of Operation: Doomsday in the May issue of Exclaim! Yup, it comes with a DOOM lunchbox, take a gander.
Peep the "?" video above on the direct link for some cool director's commentary from director Piston Honda.
Apparently the original DOOM mask was created by Lord Scotch aka KEO aka Jonathan Lethem's brother (read The Fortress of Solitude, it tells Scotch's story), using a mask from Kane from WWE. Something like this, probably.

Pitchfork's Ian Cohen summed up Operation: Doomsday pretty well if you haven't heard it. Read Icy On Purpose, basically.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Passion of the Weiss: "The Death of the Saviour Emcee"

Wrote a longer piece at Passion about hip-hop's obsession with finding a saviour for the genre. Quite proud of this one. Click the excerpt below to read the whole feature.

What revisionist rap fans forget is that the Roots were lamenting the state of the genre in ’96, a year which brought us ATliens, All Eyez On Me, The Score, Hell On Earth and Reasonable Doubt. Nas was supposed to save purists from pop-rap in ’94 but two years later, Jones became part of the problem with It Was Written (at least in their eyes.) Fast forward a few years later, and rap hit the peak of its commercialism. At the height of the jiggy era, the East Coast rap scene was hungry for a popular rapper who rapped well about something more resonant than cash, money and hoes. Bad Boy owned shiny-suit-and-ties rap over 80s pop tracks, while Ruff Ryders delivered aggressive club bangers, but select fans felt like there was something missing. Purist fans expected a lyricist who would make no concessions to commercial appeal.

Plus: Just reviewed Blueprint's new album Adventures in The Counter-culture for Exclaim!, click the excerpt for the whole shebang.

Blueprint's sophomore album has been a long-time coming, arriving six years after his 2005 solo debut, 1988. The Columbus, OH rapper/producer has kept busy in the meantime, teaming with RJD2 and fellow OH resident Illogic in the groups Soul Position and Greenhouse, respectively. With Adventures in the Counter-Culture, Printmatic makes a conscious move beyond boom-bap as a solo artist.

"Keep Bouncing" is one of my favourite tracks off the album. Don't sleep on the video chica in the bookie visor either.

Rewind. A few other recent writeups for Exclaim!:
Pharaohe Monch - W.A.R.
Cunninlynguists - Oneirology
Raekwon - Shaolin Vs. Wu Tang
Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

SonReal Interview at Exclaim!

The March issue of Exclaim! is out now, take a look inside for my review/interview with Vancouver rapper SonReal about his tape Where's Waldo. Click the excerpt
below to read.

SonReal has held Vancouver, BC down for several winters, but still hasn't received the props he deserves. New mixtape Where's Waldo? should correct this oversight. Bangers from Rich Kidd and Classified and borrowed beats from the likes of J Dilla complement the Vancouverite's nasal cadence nicely. And Son is the rare rapper who flows deftly without compromising melody, effortlessly jumping from double-time raps to sung hooks.

Also: reviewed Ghostpoet's new album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam over at the Passion. Spoiler: it's pretty great. Especially love the single "Cash And Carry Me Home". For those days when you wake up with 3 tons on your forehead and odd stains on your shoes. Vid's brilliant too.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Best hand gestures in a rap vid?

Or was it J.Cole, who does some borderline Tourettes level motions

I've never been a huge Clipse fan. I'm ambivalent about Malice, who's just not as good as Pusha T, despite having a damn near identical voice. I just don't feel like he brings a lot to the table besides being "the other guy".
Pusha is a incredibly precise rapper, both in delivery and lyrics, almost to the point where I have trouble liking him. Even Rakim had a "Mahogany" in him, a song got to be a bit more human. "The Funeral" succeeds for me mostly based on the video. They're dancing in black suits You can hear the hunger in their voices, that urgency in the sampled vocals, but Pusha and Malice's hand gestures and expressions weirdly make it for me. They're almost choreographing their plans for the afterlife. The Neptunes had beats back then, trust.

Speaking of which, besides sharing Neptunes production, the vid for "Bouncin Back" similarly centres around a funeral procession. There's still a kind of redemptive joy in just being alive even when death is literally marching down the street.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Check Your Newstands, Ask Yo Paper Boy

I'm in this month's issue of XXL, in a piece on the best mixtapes of '10. Flip to pg. 125 for my take on Joe Budden's Mood Muzik 4.

For my money, the best jawn off MM4. Fast forward to 4.55 for the Royce verse. "The sober me is more nervous than Waka Flocka in a voting booth". Mannnn.

Monday, 24 January 2011

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