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Sample Snitch-Drake’s Secret Weapon

Sample Snitch-Drake’s Secret Weapon

by Dan-O

Hypothetical scenario: you step into my sight with a twelve gauge pump action Mossberg shotgun and tell me I have five seconds to name the best Drake song; doesn’t take me three. The answer is Jungle from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. I have heard everything he has done and haven’t heard anything crystalized as beautiful and pure. A lot of it rests in that hook.

I was reading youtube comments that referenced a name on the song I hadn’t heard of. Gabriel Garzon-Montano was credited with the hook and I thought to myself maybe this is some Fania records salsa guy from the 70’s……nope. Born in 1989 signed to Stones Throw Records.  I’ve seen him described as a multi-instrumentalist which is what they describe you as when the music falls in that weird ravine between soul and funk that confuses people. Not only is the hook COMPLETELY his but the chorus is sampled from his song 6 8 which is so much more sonically interesting.

Drake uses the sample as well as you could hope. His emphatic “are we still good, are we still gooood” and “This $h_T is everything” add a lot, he sways along with the song very mad that his love interest is on social media (this is a big theme of the album and latter Drake as he does not trust women he’s with to navigate social media). It is a song full of silly complaints like OH NO SHE SWITCHED MAJORS! The sampled hook and the pure slap that backs it up gives weight to them, keeps them from floating off into the manchild complaint zone a lot of Drake content lives.

Gabriel Garzon-Montano is the real deal. 6 8 starts with a stampede of drums and the lush lilt of his voice nailing the chorus followed by the piano which comes in as he coos. The hook from Jungle is repeated as it morphs and resituates in the foreground as the background evolves. The snippet 40 pulls for Drake is about three minutes and twenty seconds in. It turns out Jungle is 40’s greatest achievement; he found the perfect sample that includes the best sonic accompaniment for it. He just mirrored that and kicked in jungle sound effects at the right time while giving Drake the space to spice it up.  Shout out to Drake’s secret weapon Noah “40” Shebib for keeping his ears to the underground. Shout out to Gabriel-Garzon Montano who I have been listening to non-stop since I found 6 8 and the rest of his catalog.

When you talk about how dominant Drake is know that you are talking about 40 as well. The same way when you talk about Sade you’re not talking about a lady, it’s a band.

Check the Drake version

The Original

 

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Song of The Year-Roll Call by Leikeli47

 

Song of The Year-Roll Call by Leikeli47

by Dan-O

I play Leikeli47 a lot and my family does not mind. She produces all her own stuff and last year’s album Wash & Set stays solidly in the rotation. The excitement in her flow and in the dynamic dirty bounce she concocts makes it so you don’t lose enjoyment as the song becomes known to you. No matter how often you re-listen the beat still dominates the stereo, the hook becomes more and more infectious as you give yourself permission to sing-a-long. This aspect of her music is what reminds me of Missy Elliott; the conscious effort to push the pace while not sacrificing lyrical space.

The fascinating and very well done HBO show Insecure has used multiple Leikeli47 songs to soundtrack black female perspective. It makes sense if you listen to Roll Call. Leikeli47 knows drums like few in the world do while carrying the versatility to switch flows into a few different speeds. The guitar at two minutes thirty six seconds into it, the weird grunt, all of it is so much fun. On top of that, Leikeli47 is not asking permission to be taken seriously as a female MC in 2018. She just keeps burning down tracks with her trademark ski mask on.  I loved Wash & Set, didn’t have a bad song so I bought her first album. Loved all of it and at that point I had a name on the tip of my tongue whenever anyone asked me who was new weird and hot. Here is to hoping people watching HBO are doing some googling.

 

Hip Hop History: Never Forget Donald Goines Has an Album

Hip Hop History: Never Forget Donald Goines Has an Album

by Dan-O

Donald Goines is one of my all-time literary heroes. He applied Shakespearean tragedy to the hood characters I was getting to know through Rap music and instead of lauding them he proved the street eats its babies. He left no one winning and every sentence exciting. He was the first author after I left high school I started reading on my own.

While enlisted in the Air Force Goines developed a heroin habit that stayed with him until he was murdered in his home in 1974. The heroin changed his course leading him to a life of crime: pimping, robbing, gambling all to support his addiction. By the time he went to prison he would write all morning and do heroin all night. His books showed empathy for all characters. He was an author who cared about the internal life of the white jailer in White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief and the hitman’s daughter in Daddy Cool. He was able to present crime and poverty as an ecosystem where no gunshot rings without consequence. Reading him grew me emotionally for that reason. I am not alone.

The whole reason I knew his name was because of rap music. While literature failed to acknowledge Goines every prison library was stocked with his sixteen novels. Every rapper had Goines references from 2pac Jay-Z to Jadakiss. The love affair went so deep that in 1999 a soundtrack to the book Black Gangster was put together for the express purpose of getting interest up for a movie.  The soundtrack does have names you’ve never heard of: Kasual, Killa, Ghetto Mafia. That happens on any hip hop soundtrack but it has peak performances by Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Freddie Foxxx, Mac Dre, DMX, and Jay-z.

As a forgotten piece of history it is perfectly hip hop. The only man that could get 50 Cent and Ja Rule on his album is Donald Goines. The only book with a soundtrack and not a movie is Black Gangster.  Goines badly wanted his books optioned into movies and this 1972 novel even more so. It is giant sized in scope and epic in execution. One of my favorite books brought the best out of some of my favorite MC’s.  S.Carter era Jay has the ability to shake you to your core with the simplicity of a single line on This Life Forever: “Let’s face it. Either ya dough chasin’ or basin’. “Mac Dre comes onto Give It Up like a lion fully aware that his music is so oddly versatile it will never seem dated or antiquated the way Ja Rule does on Represent. DMX feels the most connection to Goines and the wounded nature of his literary universe. He doesn’t bark violence he whispers it on The Story. He got the only Goines movie made from a book, Never Die Alone (which I saw in the theater). Like the book it is a mixed bag but a lot of effort was put into the lead performance. X gives it all and that’s what Donald would have wanted.

This Life Forever

Give It Up

The Story

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.