Mixtape Review-The Program by Cam’ron

Mixtape Review-The Program by Cam’ron

by Dan-O

I may have been more excited for this mixtape than I have been for any all year. While people can consider Cam out of the spotlight, past his prime, whatever way you want to say rap has “passed him by” I disagree.  1. Rap hasn’t passed him it has embraced him. The new generation of eccentrically dressed weirdo rappers are very very Dipset. 2. Cam has been laying incredible guest verses for a while now:  see S.D.E. by Dave East featuring Cam, see Moving Weight Pt. 1 by Pete Rock & Smoke Dza. 3. What an artist does when the spotlight has passed is a very critical part of their career. It clarifies how much of what you loved about them was authentically present within or just came out when all the eyes did.

Given that Cam had been sharpening his sword and watching the game I figured he was ready to talk crazy again. The Program delivers! On the first song (It’s Killa) he tells the story of Ma$e calling him to bail him out of a tough spot in some ugly projects and Cam saving him by showing up strapped and making it known. Once the trouble passes Ma$e offers Cam a $100 and Cam feels insulted being a very profitable drug supplier. The song Coleslaw starts with “Kanye got on stage what he do? Play Jay-z out. What he do next? Check into the crazy house. F*&^ that you made a living talkin’ greasy, besides that man you Yeezy with the Yeezy’s! Be yourself you ain’t gotta go AWOL and F@*$ that Ye I been this way since Ye tall. If you regret it than dead it  but if you said you said it you meant what you said can’t tell me forget it, FORGET IT. I’m different I’m from a different type of hunger N_.” The immediate internet response probably views this as a washed up artist looking to trend but that ain’t Cam.

The Program reveals Cam’ron as the 1992 Charles Barkley of rap. That special kind of artist who gets to say exactly what he wants and survive it; laugh in the face of 50 Cent and Bill O’Reilly. He’s goofy enough to make Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time into Dime After Dime and absurd enough to use a fantastic Jus Blaze beat to make a song about kissing the mirror (Kiss Myself) but even the jokes let sincerity shine through. I love the first verse of Lean. He uses Bill Withers Lean On Me to floss drug tales but his beating heart is behind these stories.

“(Lean) They couldn’t understand me, now I find it ironic

I grew up with Big L, all I knew was ebonics

Jealousy, crack, greed, homicide and chronic

Where niggas catch a body, changed their name like the Sonics

It was hot like Phoenix

I used to look up at the Lennox Ave sign hand on my heart and pledge allegiance

Drama 15 years straight, nothing recent

But I’ma call the state for back pay, they owe me grievance

And you can’t knock that, block the block with the top back

Open up that Fanta, I got that”

If you listen to the 15 songs and shake your head because Cam is too much: Remember Game is too petty or the Curve skit is odd… you have a fair first reaction. Listen to it again and try to hear how sincere he is on U Wasn’t There. Keep in mind you might not ever find a new Cam.  Ask yourself honestly if you miss this kind of big anthemic NY hip hop production with sharp lyrical humor over it. By the third listen the questions will fade and you’ll just be grooving.

stream or download The Program below:

http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/45375/camron-the-program.html

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Song of The Year-Keep The Devil Off by Big K.R.I.T. produced by Big K.R.I.T.

Song of The Year-Keep The Devil Off by Big K.R.I.T. produced by Big K.R.I.T.

by Dan-O

Wherever I have worked, anything I have achieved has been on the strength of who I am to the people around me…not management. I’ve never been able to convince anyone in power that I fit but the co-workers, customers, those I really touch hold me up on the strength of what I can do. This could be one of the reasons I’ve been so deeply invested in Big K.R.I.T. since I heard K.R.I.T. Wuz Here in 2010. He’s the people’s champ. When his first official album (Live From The Underground) came out he had a song featuring B.B. King with a video directed by Spike Lee and STILL couldn’t get mentioned in the company of his peers (some of whom he outpaced). In 2013 when A$AP Rocky put KRIT on 1 Train with Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Joey Bad@$$, and Kendrick KRIT beat everyone off the track. No surprise to me, but the internet chattered briefly and then ignored it. KRIT didn’t fit their narrative and still doesn’t.

His new double album 4 Eva is A Mighty Long Time is deep at over eighty four minutes of music and thick with trunk rattling propulsive production(a lot of it handled by KRIT) but it’s also a lot of verse to take in. It isn’t conscious rap (he loves to floss and take down his opposition loves proper UGK s— talk) but it isn’t high end Ross-like luxury rap(Ross doesn’t even make that anymore) . If you like Southern rap b/c of the bouncy Migos chorus and strip club friendly content this doesn’t perfectly fit.

It is a double album that anticipates you will understand once you have taken the journey from Big K.R.I.T. to Bury Me In Gold and those of us who know do very much understand. For us 4 Eva is A Mighty Long Time is one of the year’s best albums and now that he’s independent he doesn’t have to explain himself to people who don’t get it. He can just breathe fire from his heart. That is what makes Keep The Devil Off so unmatched. This week I set it as my morning alarm and popped out of the sheets when he shouted “LORD be my witness!!” If you don’t care about how heartfelt his discussions of police brutality, infidelity,  & black identity are, if you just want to jam…I have a song that will sell you.

#Bandcampgold-G-Worthy(G-Perico & Jay Worthy) produced by Cardo

#Bandcampgold-G-Worthy (G-Perico & Jay Worthy) produced by Cardo

by Dan-O

Can I tell you what separates Cardo from his peers at the very top of hip hop production? The Neptunes make anyone sound cool from Kelis to Timberlake to Pusha and Malice to Britney Spears. Not everyone sounds cool on a Cardo beat. Cardo beats are the pure distillation of hearing Snoop and Dre for the first time, liquid metal cool forming and reforming, with the right host on the mic it sounds invincible. This is why when people don’t know who Cardo is I simply say “He built Wiz Khalifa” without the luxuriously unflappable warm sonic world of Cardo to color his incredible personality Wiz would have been another weirdo in a hip hop world full of them. If you don’t have the right personality to sail on these beats you’ll be caught faking the funk but if you match up it takes you to another level.

If you look at the cover of G-Worthy it looks like it could have come out in 1992. Jay Worthy from Compton and G Perico from South Central reassure us that while Rap destroys what it loves to be and rebuilds to the opposite direction every five years…West Coast Gangsta Rap doesn’t.

The album consists of seven songs that feel effortlessly connected without any visible seams. What has changed is the ability for a Blood like Jay Worthy to rap about B hats and his Brazy life right before G Perico raps about violence from a Crip perspective (Getting High). The music is the glue. Jay Worthy is a solid dude who recently released a full length project with Alchemist so he is used to spitting over genius production. Jay Worthy is a game machine talking pimping or gang life or just generally flossing all over the listener. On the single Never Miss he authoritatively asserts “Take a look at yourself, we getting money On the route with these dames, a little lucky.”

Perico is a star his voice his cadence along with the personal specificity of imagery really draw him to the forefront at all time. The best example is his verse on Ain’t Trippin which starts “Middle finger to e’rybody that’s how I do it. Got the glock in the beamer case a n__ want to act stupid.” He talks about how the police are monitoring everyone and that’s not new, that he can’t tell the visual difference between his enemies and friends cops and homies. By the end of the verse you can feel the waves washing over, the uncertainty hostility and powerlessness of this criminalized system. It’s all done economically in a short verse. He loads up and does it again with the subject of women on the beginning of the next track (Scandalous). I heard all of Perico’s work before and liked it but it is Cardo’s production that made his lyrics vivid enough for me to figure out the allure. I think Perico is the best gangsta rapper since YG and G-Worthy could easily become a group without comparison. Not only do they represent a timeless standard few would dream of comparing against but their singles, while fabulous, are just as good as the rest of their output. They shine at a slow bops pace that they could keep up without a trickle of sweat for ten years. I hope they make more money than they ever hoped as G-Worthy.

Stream or buy G-Worthy below:

https://foolsgoldrecs.bandcamp.com/album/g-worthy

Mixtape Review-The Motivational Speech by Curren$y & Lex Luger

Mixtape Review-The Motivational Speech by Curren$y & Lex Luger

by Dan-O

Simple story: 2 critically important figures in the history of hip hop link up and prove to the world why they had the power to change it in the first place. If you roll back through Luger’s best beats none of them are timestamped or outdated. Luger changed how trunks rattled forever he redefined loud for a generation and he’ll never lose that touch. From the opening song of The Motivational Speech (Get to It) the bass comes like a tsunami and the 808’s dance over top of the waves.

In six songs Curren$y manages to add an important paragraph to his legacy. When his brilliant Pilot Talk series was reissued in one set we all had to reassess Spitta’s place in history. Back when he was dropping projects fast and furious the rep was that he was a rap machine who could drop an EP every week. The Motivational Speech highlights a very different aspect of the New Orleans legend (sorry, all time great MC). As underground and independent as he is Curren$y has smash hit songs that stick in your head and form a titanic playlist. From 2010’s Michael Knight to 2012’s Armoire to 2015’s Bottom of The Bottle to 2017’s Pressure or In The Lot. So many songs here are hooky melodic and sing a long worthy but each has the same lyrically unique perspective that draws you in. On Michael Knight Spitta said “I got high’d up so I could autograph the sky.” It set him apart in that he could bring tension hostility and danger to his verses but he also knew how to release it and marvel at the world.

He’s utilized that durability time and time again working with every important producer: Alchemist, Harry Fraud, TM88, Ski Beatz, Cool & Dre, Cookin’ Soul & on & on. He is always his own “so offbeat I’m back onbeat” self but the textures are different. Luger brings out the teeth, paranoia, and deep determination he first committed to history on the most beautiful album about asserting independence (Pilot Talk). I love The Motivational Speech and I would love more collaboration between Luger and Spitta but I love just about every major project he releases. If he wants to make a more polished radio friendly Canal Street Confidential or talk fly @$$ ISH like Legend of Harvard Blue I’m too deep into appreciating to send requests. I love all directions of Spitta.

It is magic to hear an elite MC slay a Luger beat again. Luger proves to be the southern Just Blaze.  Let The Motivational Speech teach you how to Just Enjoy This life.

Stream or download The Motivational Speech below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Curreny-Lex-Luger-The-Motivational-Speech-EP-mixtape.864026.html

 

 

#Bandcampgold-Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle

#Bandcampgold-Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle

by Dan-O

I am so much more excited about BBKSD than my circle. Everyone likes it. People at this point have heard of Open Mike Eagle due to the breakout success of 2014’s Dark Comedy (and 2016’s huge improvement Hella Personal Film Festival). He is officially on the bubble of everyone who follows music and BBKSD shows yet another improvement. That is a good enough take but not from my angle.  If you follow the incredible X-Men references in the opening track (Legendary Iron Hood https://genius.com/Open-mike-eagle-legendary-iron-hood-lyrics ). The song is a perfect example of Mike pushing everything to the hilt. He’s always had great hooks and this time they are prettier, better sung, catchier (see Hymnal) the beats are full of strange sounds coming together over his buttery flow. His lyrics take comic imagery and push it 38 degrees to the left so that they become intensely meaningful.

On Happy Wasteland Day he is slick and smooth weaving zombie imagery and the connotation of dystopia into his everyday life “When the king is a garbage person/I might wanna lay down and die/Power down on my darkest urges/Keep my personal crown up high.”  As the song goes on his tone gets more and more urgent as the terror of everyday violence punctures the force field. The last verse his voice is post mortem, dead monotone and fading.  It is as much an emotional journey as Velvet Underground’s Heroin.

If you’re a strict rap guy who needs BARS just press play on Brick Body Complex which is a sensational set fire to the BS hook with dizzying skill from his pen in the verses “Chi Town in my building code/Stood here for ten million snows/wind chill is all in my bones/ Indivisible in divisible kids and criminals young and old/No radiator my dungeon cold.” That song sets my sensory on overload and it isn’t even my favorite.

I would change nothing on BBKSD but boy do I come back specifically to 95 Radios. Toy Light and Has-Lo created a beat that chimes a spotlight on the verses (Has-Lo destroys verse 1). Mike’s second verse teases fun growing up references but can’t run away from the hard thoughtful personal truth “I miss my old hood/ miss my homies/is lonely/ The radio host is like they know me.”  The pain isn’t just in the verse it’s in the delivery, the chorus drips with the visual image of a kid closing his eyes and trying to hear a rap song so he doesn’t have to think so damn much.

When I was in school (trying to become a better writer) teachers routinely told me to ignore what I did well and focus on improving my faults. As a natural antagonist the first thing I did was push even harder on my strengths leaving the rest for later. Sometimes if I pushed hard enough I could accomplish something really surprising and that was the best feeling. Brick Body Kids Still Daydream gives me that feeling for Mike. No one gets to show him his lane.

Bandcamp link below:

https://openmikeeagle360.bandcamp.com/album/brick-body-kids-still-daydream

Song of The Year-Lil Thing by Knox Fortune

Song of The Year-Lil Thing by Knox Fortune

By Dan-O

Debut albums are so much more complete than they used to be. The death of the music industry happened first with the death of developing talent. At this point signee’s must have already established their sound. So it is no shock when you listen to the debut album Paradise by Knox Fortune it sounds like an artist who has been defined in the public eye for years .  It is ok to recognize the name from Chance The Rapper’s All Night off of last years Coloring Book album.  The energy, angelic singing, and clattering weirdness are very much a part of the DNA in Paradise.

This is mood music to the fullest, put it on and have a cook out. Lil Thing burbles and crackles while Knox sounds pristine in a genderless way when he goes effortlessly into the high register.  You can listen to Lil Thing over and over and over without ever tiring of it but lest you think that all of Knox Fortune is tossed off brilliant summer vibe music listen to the positively New Wave I Don’t Wanna Talk About It. This is a voice with real vision and as weird as it all is it is a thing to respect. My wife hates “smooth R&B” and I asked if she hated this, she paused for a solid twenty seconds trying to figure out what this is. In the end she gave the most confused no I’d heard her give in a while.  Is it indie? Is it hip hop? Is it R &B? Welcome to this era of modern music where every artist is making their own smoothie of influences into their own flavor.  Lil  Thing tastes magnificent.

 

#Bandcampgold-Fuel City by The Outfit, TX

#Bandcampgold-Fuel City by The Outfit, TX

by Dan-O

Pressing play on Fuel City by Dallas rap group The Outfit, TX is like discovering Three 6 Mafia for the first time.  That is not to say they are doing Three 6, this just has the permissive energy of the best crunk you can think of. I love the beginning of Goin’ Up where the opening verse surges into yelling that takes on a three part shout harmony for the chorus.  The Outfit, TX are masters in the art of high and low, whenever they start calm they lull you into a false sense of security they explode out from. They have brilliant songs where they turn all the way up (the first three songs: Big Splash, Phone Line, and Goin’ Up) but they are contrasted by whispery low key effortless swagger (Insumnia) and gorgeous middle ground sounds where the song does a hard bop while they maintain a heightened agitated cool (Dez Bryant, Look Crazy).  The last similar group this good at flicking the tempo switch up and down to this extreme was Ying Yang Twins and it’s a favorable comparison. Ying Yang twins were one of those authentically dexterous  groups, confident in who they were and so unified in talent you never sat back and thought either of them killed one the other on a track, their verses hung together and formed a real themed work(even when the themes were very closely aligned).

Fuel City is one hundred percent smash hits which is why it is only ten songs.  They know better than to wear you out. As ferocious, jarring & scary as Told That Bih is on first listen the song before that is a melodic sex brag mutter so minimal (Outta Control) by contrast you can see the authorship in the ordering of songs. It took years and years of work to get things running this tight. Living in Maine I didn’t know of them until Killer Mike demanded people check them out in an interview. Ever since then I’ve been watching them sharpen their swords in hopes of getting to this level. When you hear the warning that ends the final track (Really Off) lambast the listener for sleeping on them (“I’m a give myself and my N’s our flowers on our own s__t and let you listen to it B#$%* @$$ N_ I ain’t waiting on you N’s applause no mo'” It sounds mad extra but he’s right. In the case of a group with the powerful melodic energy of The Outfix, TX ignoring them has grown them to unimaginable levels.  As I listen to Look Crazy for the thousandth time I can’t help but think about the first time I heard their name and thought “that name is dumb” they’ve been making me pay ever since by making songs so inescapably catchy and lyrically throttling I can’t get away from them. In the outro the warning accuses us of making monsters and in a rap world full of junkies and exuberant social media warriors maybe a few monsters are what we need.

Stream or download Fuel City below:

 

https://powrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/fuel-city-2