Thank You Trina (Blue Magic edition)

Thank You Trina (Blue Magic edition)

by Dan-O

Thank you Trina for being there at a very weird time in my life. In 1999 I heard Trina’s voice for the first time on one of the most outlandishly sexual verses by any female MC. On the smash hit single Nann Nigga Trick Daddy goes crazy with tales of sexual triumph but Trina comes in like Foxy did after Jay and explodes. I’d never heard a female MC brag about blowjob skills then bisexuality the next bar, about her ability to pleasure testicles. My eyes were Bart Simpson sized. To be nineteen when that dropped was something else. Put that next to the fact that Trina has a figure that should be carved on the Mt. Rushmore of hip hop bodies, she grew me up fast.

By 2000 I was in the Army, away from home for the first time staring at the cover of her first album Da Baddest Bitch. Trick Daddy and Trina music was everywhere. Yes, Trina wasn’t the only nasty talking female MC. Lil Kim’s Hardcore came out in 1996 a stone cold classic. But Kim loved the hip hop Biggie did. She still wanted to get grimy in a very NY way.

In the Army I started to understand how different Miami folks are from the rest of us (certainly the people I knew in Maine). I heard the Miami bounce, heard it’s Atlanta hybridization in Kilo Ali. I very quickly built a supportive friendship group full of beautiful caring black women who knew the right time to judge me, let me pass, support me, call me out. They made me a better person. Like Trina they were always defining who they were and having fun doing it. Trina didn’t want to do dusty boom bap she wanted to drive the club nuts. Her skill set was in a different gear. Along the way she spoke lessons of loyalty, sex, betrayal, and crime.

Eighteen years after her first solo album she dropped a new EP called Blue Magic. On the last of seven songs she addresses the twitter clowning that gets hurled at any hip hop superstar with any time in the game. It’s called TF U Think and features Da Brat. It has my favorite lyrical moment. Like I said anyone with skin in the game gets called washed, out of date, past their prime. Saying it makes the person who accuses feel more powerful than the artist. In addressing this Trina says “Fell off, NEVER…” then pauses for very brief second and says “…too much equity.” As someone who has worked in banking for over thirteen years it is a brilliant line. Trina is looking at a hip hop world full of hungry ghosts trying to be seen and turn those eyes into some sort of money to take in. Her money is the first thing Trina got right, and having gotten it figured out hasn’t been chasing anything external since. Once you hit big you don’t need to be hip with the kids you have equity. You’ve built a brand people can depend on. Blue Magic isn’t about money at all. It’s about being the best person you can be, as motivated as you can be in a world of people who are not. It teaches you how to deal with them.

On the opening song (Bad Bitch Anthem) she rallies her audience to focus on nothing but success behind a truly menacing head banger produced by Nikko Ryan Gulapa. A big part of the formula she puts forward is independence. On Change The Vibe she says “How ya goin’ to style a stylist.” Own who you are wherever you go. Trina has always been great at working with other artists as a result. No collab feels like a fight for the spotlight. Blue Magic is no exception. Thug Song brings the uncut genius out of Boosie Badazz over a meditative bass beating thumper by Cyrus. In a seductive hush Trina still melts me with vivid imagery like “If I breath upon that dick with them boxers on/ that dick gon’ be all gone.” The next song is back to full throttle GET OUT OF YOUR SEAT! Chandelier opens on a beat by Audio Jones that could start 3 fights at the club. Kash Doll wrecks shop with fresh confidence & a verse that includes the line “bad chocolate @$$ B_ from the westside!” Killed it.

By the way Trina didn’t fall off. Dynasty 6 was killer. Fuck Boy is an amazing song. She still wrecks microphones, still looks like the vision of a woman I made in a computer as a teenager and still gives great interviews about the importance of family, love, humor, and good long lasting friendships. When she goes all in angrily on a lover that betrays her in Redemption it comes off as someone who was so focused on making the relationship work 1000% only to feel the sting of a partner who was only pretending to match that effort.

I’m grateful that Trina has always been so Trina she has never needed to go through any major image overhauls. It made sense when she was down with Ross. It makes sense that she wanted to declare how valuable she is to those who overlook her with someone as criminally overlooked as Da Brat (TF U Think). I just never got to thank her for being part of the class of MC’s who taught me how maintain my values no matter how hard the wind blows. Without Trina to show me what a bad bitch was, how would I have gone about finding and marrying one?

Please find Blue Magic on any streaming service you have. I bought it through Google Play.

 

 

 

 

 

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Song of The Year-Slapbox by Conway The Machine produced by Daringer

Song of The Year-Slapbox by Conway The Machine produced by Daringer

by Dan-O

You can’t just call him Conway. He’s The Machine for a reason. When the beat comes on and his mouth starts it feels 100% organic like no pen has been picked up no plans have been made(This isn’t just how he sounds he admits it, “keep in mind these raps I keep in mind, I don’t read a rhyme. I just see them lines in my head I’m lyrically inclined ‘212’.”). It doesn’t actually sound fair, the other guy featured worked really hard on his/her verse and now this guy is just a person made out of rap lyrics and can peel off 16 of them at will?!

Conway The Machine has been grinding for a while now, releasing lots of mixtapes. I’ve never reviewed any of them because I was waiting for his improvement to take the form of project specialization: track sequencing, better beats, songs with structure and his new album nails all of it. His new release is called Everybody is F.O.O.D. it is sold directly through his site ( https://whoisconwaythemachine.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/everybody-is-f-o-o-d-digital-album) and without any question the best thing he’s ever released. The second best is his last project G.O.A.T.

What has made him an important force is that his relentlessness is matched by his collaborator and NY’s secret weapon, Daringer. He produces seven of eleven tracks and has the best beat on it. Slapbox is the kind of thick grungy attack The Machine should always rap over.  Saying this is the best beat is an accomplishment since other producers on this include Pete Rock, Green Lantern, and Statik Selektah. Daringer knows better than any how to take the essential boom bap stomp and twist it, stab it until the agitation level has changed.  Slapbox never lulls you into the hypnotic state a Pete Rock beat can, instead it throws you back into the story on the edge of your seat.

The story is one of my favorites since Biggie’s second album. It starts with slapboxing in the street just knuckleheading around an average day and ends with a leg shot and a police chase. The third to last line is “I’mma go hide out in that abandoned church.” How many times have you heard that in a rap song?  Slapbox is my favorite song because it is clear vivid and impactful. It shows that if The Machine takes his time his concise linguistics paired with his odd mind produce unforgettable music. Both Conway The Machine and Daringer are two very important factors in why NY rap is my favorite thing in 2018(shout out to Roc Marciano, Ka, Action Bronson, Hus The Kingpin, Crimeapple, Westside Gunn, Armand Hammer, Skyzoo, Mach Hommy, and so on and so forth).

Song of the year-Ace by Noname featuring Smino & Saba

Song of the year-Ace by Noname featuring Smino & Saba

by Dan-O

 

I really do regret not listening to Smino-Blkswn earlier. I missed out on the countless relistens and an orator who seems to have neo-soul finger snap rhythm resonating from the depths of his soul. Every second of a song with Smino on it is a hypnotic groove.  I was very thankful to have these three together to lay out a posse cut so chill, so intelligent and them.

This song comes from Noname’s album Room 25. It has gotten a lot of press; her writing is very slam poetry (some people see that under a negative connotation I do not) her delivery is bashful and hushed.  Lyrically she can get personal, talking alcohol addiction or moving away from home. What I don’t think gets enough shine is how funny she is. She is so hushed and raw that when you catch a truly funny line it is even funnier. It releases the tension she’s built. My favorite line on the album is on the song Montego Bae when she says “Classy B_ only use a coaster.” Now keep in mind this line comes immediately after “He gon’ f$&% me like I’m Oprah.” The great part about a Noname verse is it gives the three dimensions of an actual conversation. She transitions from flirty to drowning in fear about the world to hilarious and you feel like you are really in a conversation. A lot of post-Nicki female rap is superhero rap full of heroines who are flawless rich sexual dynamo’s projecting an image they hope to attain(keeping it real: dudes are doing the same ish). Noname is brave enough to be herself without all the condiments.

On twitter someone was very excited about Room 25, very excited to be in a conversation like Noname can create. This person tweeted at her that she was the best MC in the world and no one else could compare. She replied with one word….Saba. While Room 25 and Saba’s Care For Me are comparably great albums, lyrically Saba is the god.  His verse on this song is dizzying and down to earth and feels easy for him to do.  These three represent a talent pool we will be talking about for years.

Listen to Saba-Care For Me, Noname-Room 25 and Smino-Blkswn to be in on the whole Chicago corduroy jacket rap scene.

 

 

R.I.P. Mac Miller playlist

R.I.P. Mac Miller playlist

by Dan-O

I got the text that he was gone while my son was telling me one of those toddler stories with no start or end. As he kept adding “and then” to extend I braced myself in the doorway and looked out my front door, really struck, trying to figure out why it felt so raw. I didn’t know Mac Miller at all. If you comb through the history of this blog (its ok I know you won’t it is just a blog) I have been personally reviewing Mac Miller music going back to 2011 and repping him to anyone near me since K.I.D.S. dropped in 2010. I spent 8 years invested in this crazy wacked out hooligan from Pittsburgh and his ever expanding natural abilities. At the time of his death at twenty six he had over ten years of making important music: twelve mixtapes, five studio albums. He is one of the key artists in that beautiful mixtape boom from 2009-2013 that revitalized rap. He was closer to me than I had acknowledged. I’m still dealing with it. I would like to give the people dealing with it five songs to play.

1. Senior Skip Day produced by Wally West from K.I.D.S mixtape

This song still blows the world wide open for me. It is such a lazy satisfying mood with the gorgeous horns Wally West throws in and it is filled with details: not getting out of bed before noon, morning waffles and scrambled eggs, skipping class and being high. Think about how heavy rap is now, how much distaste and doom emanates from 18 year olds. Mac gave us that foolish energy and guiding light to be ourselves and be happy with those who made us happy.

2. Come Back To Earth produced by Jon Brion, Mac under the name Larry Fisherman, and Gitty off Swimming.

Not an easy listen given the new context but Swimming is a lovely piece of work. It is sad, so alone, addicted, worn out, stomped on but very humane. Most heartbreak albums (especially when addiction is involved) have a lot of lashing out. Swimming is the product of a good heart in a bad place. When he mourns the neighbors who could be more than strangers, the texts he shouldn’t have sent it is really hard. This song resonates with all the dimensions of his loss; he wishes he could be with her again and it feels to us like Ariana, he wishes for human contact and it sounds to us like he wants someone to help him out of addictions cage. Some of this is just our minds coming to grips with what happened but some of it could be true. I wish this song didn’t have to mean what it means now but I am so very happy it is here to partially explain how things were, to start a conversation with us we have to finish on our own.

3. Donald Trump produced by Sap off his Best Day Ever mixtape

Mac Miller could make anthems that made you dance whether you wanted to or not. At the same time he really rapped. In the classical sense of moving the crowd Donald Trump achieves that. He nimbly bounces from bar to bar in a way anyone can follow but is still impressive. At the time people called this song fluff but the fluff we have now makes this song a real achievement in the art. It’s a smash single that is still dope MCing.

4. Blue Slide Park produced by I.D. Labs off Blue Slide Park

How was Mac’s 2011? He put out his debut album and in its first week sold 145k making it the first independent debut album to top the chart since Dogg Food by The Dogg Pound. He single handedly proved that the mixtape era could translate to sales. I.D. Labs who produced most of it are the same genius’s who put Wiz in place to take over. Blue Slide Park wasn’t full of Donald Trump style anthems for fun it was religiously focused pure hip hop. This album started to clue us in on how much of a pure solid citizen Mac was. He didn’t want to be the next great white hope. He was always bigging up artists who were considered more talented than him. He loved hip hop so he loved spitting over DJ Kool’s Let Me Clear My Throat sample on Party on Fifth Ave but he loved the title tracks mid tempo, he could rap at any speed or frequency and work it.

5.  Goosebumpz produced by Diplo (bonus track) off Watching Movies with The Sound Off

Mac Miller was not universally adored. The same way I cherished his juvenile exuberance and connected it to my own outer child, many detested it. Watching Movies with The Sound Off changed that. It is a grown up album with great features (Schoolboy Q , Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt) notable production (Flying Lotus, Pharrell, Earl Sweatshirt under the name randomblackdude, Chuck Inglish, Alchemist, Clams Casino, Tyler the Creator). Even the critics who shot him down for his irritating childishness noted this as a big step forward.  In reality, he marshalled his resources looked around the rap game at all the artists he respected doing great work and wanted to do the same. Goosebumpz is very Odd Future influenced (like telling his girl to have sex with his hologram after he passes). It’s complete reckless energy at full throttle and when he was in this zone he could really leave your head spinning. I’ll miss the crazy little bastard.

Don’t just hashtag him and push on, let’s talk about him.

 

Sample Snitch: The exciting G Funk perfection of All Eyez On Me

Sample Snitch: The exciting G Funk perfection of All Eyez On Me

by Dan-O

All Eyez On Me is the best double album in the history of hip hop. That is not a hot take.  If you listen very carefully it is not the dark foreboding cryptic record Makaveli is perceived to be. It is fun and fully engages its female audience in a way we all keep saying “didn’t happen in the 90’s or really before Kanye/Drake”.  On Run Tha Streetz he actually starts a verse by giving women advice on how to keep “a playa” and this was NOT the norm. Even songs that may seem misogynistic are interesting to look at from a perspective analysis. Wonda Why They Call U B___ is maligned but think about the phrasing of it, the song is directed right at his female audience. When Too Short made songs about B’s he was talking to his homies, obviously male listeners, fellow pimps/hustlers that was his constituency. 2pac understood he had a deeper female fanbase than other rappers (possibly because of emotional/personal content in the past or songs with complex/empathetic female characters like in Can U Get Away off Me Against The World) .  He wanted to explain his logic to them so they would understand his perspective and he wanted to explain groupies to them on All About U.

The reason some of the depth gets lost is that this album slaps from front to back. If you look at the samples listing the source songs is the absolute best funk playlist of all time. Rather Be Ya N_ samples I’d Rather Be With You by Bootsy Collins. A song so legendary it has been sampled from 1991(N.W.A.-I’d Rather F*** You) through 2016 (Childish Gambino-Redbone).  The baseline from Never Gonna Stop by Linda Clifford is instantly recognizable not just as the backbone for the title track on this album but the meat of Nas-Street Dreams song off It Was Written. One of my favorite songs from All Eyez On Me was always Check Out Time because of how insane it was that I was listening to a song about my favorite rappers checking out of a hotel.  That sample is Candy Rain by Soul For Real who were a new jack swing act on Uptown Records alongside Heavy D & Guy. You’ll find multiple Roger Troutman and P-Funk samples. Whatz Ya Phone# pulls from a long crazy song by The Time called 777-9311. Darling Nikki is present on Heartz of Men, all of the music sampled moves at a legendary pace. 2pac wanted a party record that could double as his last will and testament.

He takes I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl) by Instant Funk and concocts the deeply meditative posse cut Got My Mind Made Up featuring Daz, Method Man, and Redman. No sleepy jazz samples or minimalism, All Eyez On Me is maximalist funk pulled through the Makaveli paranoid awareness.  When he wants to slow down he pulls the heartbreak right from the melody of Brandy by The O’Jays and infuses it in the chorus and content of Life Goes On. At an hour and ten minutes it is still supernaturally well-paced because the subtle groove of Life Goes On becomes the menacing braggadocio of Ain’t Hard 2 Find.  His words are magnificent but we shouldn’t forget the magic carpet of funk that brings him there.

Remember Curtis Mayfield helped produce this song

 

Slap the taste out of anyone who talks down to Bootsy…do it for hip hop.

Song of The Year-Recognize by Bun-B featuring TI & Big K.R.I.T. produced by Big K.R.I.T.

Song of The Year-Recognize by Bun-B featuring TI & Big K.R.I.T. produced by Big K.R.I.T.

by Dan-O

I’ve made the argument that the pop sphere is larger than it has ever been due to the ability to find anything. The gatekeeper role of radio and upper level music executives isn’t anywhere near as important…but I’m willing to make the opposite argument now. I think it is possible that due to trending patterns on social media we have less pop music than we ever have before. What happens is a new album drops (maybe its Eminem maybe its Nicki Minaj) it is just the largest name that week and that album gets blogged about and all caps shouted at by the whole world. So that giant internet information space turns out to be a giant garage with one car parked in it.

So while people were coming up to me saying “What do you think about this Eminem?!” I was shrugging and asking them if they had heard Bun-B’s new album Return of The Trill to blank stares. Firstly, I thought all the hip kids were pro-UGK now…shouldn’t we be supporting? Second, all the criticisms of Eminem’s Kamikaze are resolved within Return of The Trill.  Bun asserts himself without discounting the younger generation.

Production wise Bun linked with his greatest musical partner post-Pimp, Big K.R.I.T. The Mississippi mastermind produces half of the fourteen songs on Return of The Trill. In movies, TV, books whenever the South is portrayed it is either an authentic take or reeks of artificiality. You can tell when you press play if no one involved in making it actually knows or cares about the South. K.R.I.T. makes beats that are deeply southern with gospel flair (see Traphandz) and the same kind of speaker shaking movement peak UGK brought to the speaker.

These beats fit Bun like the perfect coat. On his best lyrical performance (Recognize)  he steps up to the microphone and says “My wordplay is intricate influence significant motherf**kin’ magnificence and my influence is integral charismatic and sensual f**king up your centrifugal. With trill pumping all through my ventricles gladiators and sentinals peep you through the peripherals. I see you p**sy n___as out the optical catch yo ass when its optimal…”  The song is one of the year’s best moments and while the album might get a firm friendly handshake critically it won’t get to be POP and you can justify that in lots of ways. You could say that pop music should be this or that and Bun doesn’t fit those parameters. Whatever.  Return of The Trill isn’t the best album of the year but it’s better than the junk  we spend so much time yapping about.

After you watch the video up top check out Bun breaking down the bars

Mixtape Review-4 Respect by Kevin Gates & Youngboy Never Broke Again

Mixtape review-4 Respect by Kevin Gates & Youngboy Never Broke Again

by Dan-O

Hip hop people say the same thing to each other about Kevin Gates. We look at each other with a head scratchers facial expression and say “I think he’d be one of the best rappers in the world if he wasn’t…crazy.” Anyone who heard him interviewed on Combat Jack knows how deeply cracked Kevin Gates is but if we’re honest with each other that was the excitement of diving into The Luca Brasi Story in the first place. What we mean when we are talking about Gates as crazy is his oversharing. Gates is the anti-Drake. While Drizzy shares nuggets of his life they always feel as if they rolled off the conveyor belt of a 5 year plan to keep his massive audience enraptured in the persona of his character. Gates will talk about having sex with his cousin on twitter, he’ll drop two bars about eating butt that mess up your whole listening experience.  This is the Gates situation it isn’t a problem because it is what makes us want to hear every new Gates verse. What is this madman going to say next? The downside: some things are so messed up you can’t unsay them to an audience and it ruptures the relationship.

Enter NBA Youngboy who last year stamped himself into the center of the hardest worker conversation. This year he put out the long and fantastic Until Death Call My Name in April and now he is back with this four song collaboration with the Michael Madsen of New Orleans rap music. The John Henry-like focus Youngboy has in building his name up as an MC who makes music both deeply personal yet super fun is infectious and as a result Gates hasn’t sounded this focused since Islah.  Gates is as good as anyone at catchy hooks, he knows exactly when to let his voice get weird and crackly amidst the melody. Youngboy is the sure thing rapping with intensity on 2 Hands while Gates comes into the chorus laid back in a semi-hush. These two seem to get each other on a deep level. 4 Respect is the fastest EP of the year, the New Orleans pace has always been quicker than most places but they pack songs like TTG with visceral imagery about prison and cigars. Even a two minute song like Head On slams, it could easily just have been another useless trap song about banging my girlfriend (lot of trap songs about banging my girlfriend) but Gates flow is legend and the Youngboy chorus is ill. They get a lot done in a short time.

I think these two should form a rap group and never look back. Youngboy can keep Kevin out of his own head and Kevin can add some odd kinks in the pounding propulsion of Youngboy.

stream or download 4 Respect below:

https://www.datpiff.com/NBA-Youngboy-Kevin-Gates-4-Respect-mixtape.908528.html