Tag Archives: Black Thought

FREEMUSICEMPIRE MVP OF 2018 IS ROC MARCIANO

 

FREEMUSICEMPIRE MVP OF 2018 IS ROC MARCIANO

by Dan-O

I was sitting with a table of people I respect. All involved are my age within five years. We were talking about music this year and they launched into how great Eminem is and his beef with MGK. It was difficult to find the words to explain why Eminem is not, in fact, great anymore. Why someone less lyrical like Kodie Shane is a better emcee. He is technically great, no one knows more words and can blow out a show stopping 16 like Em but that’s not what makes a great rapper.

An artist is responsible for not just great brushstrokes but vision. The artist masterminds the color scheme the physical position of characters the looks on their faces. The artist is in charge of what all of that means and adds up to. So what is the sum total of those songs? What do any of his last few albums mean… in Shady’s case very little. Roc Marciano is a study in the opposite direction.

Our newly crowned FME MVP of 2018 released three albums this year. Each handled with a curators eye; three albums with a total of 36 songs which averages to 12 songs per album. Each one shading his story a different hue, taking a step further in creating a full landscape while maintaining a two fisted approach to punch lines that would have made prized pugilist Rocky Marciano proud. Once the landscape was built the album was over and the promise of another was only a few months away. The process is a much better one than the massive data dump of artists like Post Malone/Fetty Wop where the album never ends and doesn’t really feel like it began.

I am the first one to admit I don’t have an objective view of the scene Roc exists in. My favorite lyricist in the world of rap is Ka who is Roc’s right hand man. I still remember Roc’s voice escalating when Combat Jack (R.I.P. the podcast god) told him he didn’t really get Ka. He was passionate about how dope Ka is about as passionate as I am in selling Ka  to those around me who have not heard him. I think of Ka as the only emcee Roc views as adequate competition and seeks to surpass. This year he did it.

His resume: blew Busta Rhymes off a track, did multiple songs with Black Thought and held his own, impressed Royce Da 5’9 so much with his feature that he drew very specific praise from him on social media. Royce talked about his ability to use space, letting the track breathe for a few beats only to swagger back in. In boxing terms Royce has incredible hand speed he never stops throwing meaningful shots. Roc is Sugar Ray Robinson with all-time powerful lines but he comes in close unloads in combinations and gets out; he has a rhythm that keeps you off your toes at all times. That isn’t just flow it’s release schedule pricing and merchandise. You never what is coming from Roc. In 2018 great artists wanted to be on songs to see how real this was in their presence.

Attached to this review will be my list of the 38 flyest things Roc said in 2018 (You will notice songs having multiple entries that is not me being weird Roc is a damn beast). The #1 entry is from the song Wild Oats (off of the collaboration album Kaos he did with the great DJ Muggs) and I think it explains in two sentences the central meaning of his year. “I used to think School was for chumps. Now I’m in Bermuda by the pool with the trunks, books by the bunch, just to think I was a crook once.” Roc Marciano’s process has been a long form explanation of the things he has gone through that lots of his peers didn’t of the bitter determination he uses to overcome adversity but also of the beaming gratitude underneath that bitterness. As the sun shines on his face and he runs his hand over the hardcover of a book he’s reading. It is the gratitude that makes him want to dig for the wildest turn of phrase to boast that growth in his next rhyme. This isn’t a chain or watch brag it’s the maturation of someone who could have been dead or unknown by now. 2018 was Roc Marciano’s best year and for his audience it was a gift. The secret of it all is that he sees it the same way.

38 Fly things Roc Marciano said in 2018

  1. “I used to think School was for chumps. Now I’m in Bermuda by the pool with the trunks, books by the bunch, just to think I was a crook once.”—Wild Oats
  2. “I’m like Huey Newton sitting in the king’s wicker chair with the pistol near. My face is chiseled into silverware with care.”—-Amethyst
  3. “My B__ like Tracy Ellis Ross, don’t ever sell yourself short.” —Dolph Lundgren
  4. “Don’t be a dick you know I’m sensitive. Don’t let me catch you talkin’ shit about my mamma biscuits bitch!” —-The Sauce
  5. “Why you sweatin’ me then and questionin’ who I’m in bed with? For the record, your breathe stink.”—-The Sauce
  6. “Might need a hot air balloon to get a real view of my hairdo.” —-Aunt Bonnie
  7. “Shit I ain’t playin’. I sit down and eat at P.F. Chang’s then leave without payin’.” —-Consigliere
  8. “Who else since Prince can fit my Trench?”—White Dirt
  9. “The Mercedes ain’t rented. B— I was saving up to get it.” —-CVS
  10. “I rap with my nose up with my tux and my glass of mimosa ‘oh you think you know so much'” —Kill You (laughs afterward)
  11. “Watching Harlem Nights on Chartered flights.”—White Dirt
  12. “My shining bright might turn the night into day. I’m a Viking I might bite your face.”—Bohemian Grove
  13. “You n_’s just follow we changed the business model.”—-White Dirt
  14. “Fox fur on my evening coat. I gave these heathens hope.” —Respected
  15. “I prefer shrimp and lobster, my posture like Kevin Costner…”—Wormhole
  16. “You came when the culture was dead. I shocked the game so it rose from the bed. Frankenstein with the bolts in his neck.” —CVS
  17. “My shine still flow from behind a blindfold.”—Shit I’m On
  18. “I was clean when Max B was singing off key.” —-The Sauce
  19. “Every half a bar is worth a Jaguar.” —Aunt Bonnie
  20. “I blast the chrome all you see is ass and elbows.” —Bohemian Grove
  21. “I leave ya pockets with Bugs Bunny ears.”—Happy Endings
  22. “I’m with that white girl I’m in that sunken place.” —Bohemian Grove
  23. “If I was you and mad at me I would be too. “—Sampson & Delilah
  24. “The Bentley mint green I need a pinky ring.” —Rolls Royce Rug
  25. “Life is a jungle not a jungle gym.”—Wild Oats
  26. “You was never sturdy a little birdy told me this. I said you can’t compare goldfish to Moby Dick.”—The Sauce
  27. “…speak for the voiceless. I spent last weekend eating with lawyers the cheese ain’t good enough reason to be exploited.” —-Sampson & Delilah
  28. “Always had a scheme to get by in the crème Fila.” —-Amethyst
  29. “My tall thing like Lena Horne in a leotard.” —Wild Oats
  30. “All my shit is tailored all your shit is whatever.” —Dolph Lundgren
  31. “Lookin’ self-absorbed in the Porsche, Fire lines they thought I wrote these lines with a welding torch.”—Wild Oats
  32. “They gentrified the game, that’s when the god came.” —Aunt Bonnie
  33. “You see my neck we could never be neck and neck.” —Wormhole
  34. “No matter the platform the ho’s gon’ clap for ’em.” —Rolls Royce Rugs
  35. “Listen Sugar Tits, just choose a pimp.”—Wormhole
  36. “…but still this shit is not by force it’s by choice.” —Rolls Royce Rugs
  37. “For what a Phantom costs I’ll blam at your thoughts.” —Shit I’m On
  38. “Prior to my first release they said the East was done.” —Kill You
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Song Review-Who Want It by David Banner featuring Black Thought & WatchtheDuck produced by THX

 

Song Review-Who Want It by David Banner featuring Black Thought & WatchtheDuck produced by THX

 

by Dan-O

No one is dumber than me on the subject of Black Thought. While I love and admire The Roots discography and hang on every new release the way nearly every hip hop head of my generation does…I have no idea where Black Thought goes in the history of lyricists.

I’ve always thought that he wasn’t consistent and some Roots albums he was on the throne while others he was fulfilling a commitment limply but he has inarguable one of a kind marks on his resume. He is the only MC on Big Pun’s Capital Punishment who holds up next to Pun and that is saying a lot if you know the guest list on that album. Who Want It is another example of that Black Thought. This is very much a Banned From TV style ugly posse cut beat and Black Thought lays a verse you just have to hear. When he says “I smash the vocal booth and turn back to David Banner, N!” I was terrified. How is Banner gonna follow that?!  I would likely be shaking with terror.

David Banner is a truly wild dude. The album this song is on is called The God Box and you can call it conscious if you want. It is large print rap star conspiracy theory/paranoia/racial dialogue. No sleepy piano beats where he whispers thoughtful advice to his audience. He roars warnings and this song is a perfect example. He jumps into the historical rape of black women and personalizes it. He pulls in the death of notable black genius’s like Prince “They tell us that it’s drugs or suicide and sweep that sh_t under the rug.” Whether I agree with David Banner or not isn’t the point (and I do a lot of the time). God Box has fifteen songs and on every verse you believe Banner believes. Some songs will make you uncomfortable if your white and too comfortable (Elvis) but it is a heck of an experience. Banner isn’t the G.O.A.T. bar for bar but he is an incredible producer so he has a brilliant ear and God Box sounds like nothing out there. He also fills all space vocally with thought provocation and I have had a soft spot for that since KRS.

If you love hip hop this is your jam. If it sounds old school to you grab that Freshman XXL cover and look up some mixtapes that can transport you to a land of pleasant robot voice hooks and love songs. To each their own.

Song of The Year-Extradite by Freddie Gibbs featuring Black Thought produced by Mikhail

Song of The Year-Extradite by Freddie Gibbs featuring Black Thought produced by Mikhail

by Dan-O

Rap music is so hopelessly cool that the effect a new star has is inebriating. A new talent comes out of nowhere and changes the world…at least your world. So every critic has their own best-flow-in-the-business candidate and it usually changes every few months. Kevin Gates drops a mixtape & people forget that E-40 is still dope. It always tickles me when people discuss the best flow in the game and don’t mention Freddie Gibbs.

How great is Gibbs? When he first broke critics STRUGGLED for a comparison point. Is this like Bone Thugs? He carries a hook so effortlessly into singing range (on his new album Shadow of A Doubt see the song Careless for an example) but he’s not dedicated to a strict fast flow like Twista or Bone Thug.

Instead Freddie slides up and down the speed range like Johnny Hodges on saxophone sliding up the scale. Shadow of A Doubt showcases his flow in all its forms and at seventeen tracks with limited rap features (at least fifteen of the songs listed stand with Gibbs as the solo rapper) It could have been longer. It’s sleek and hard and better with every listen.

Extradite is Freddie on track with one of the best rappers who ever lived and wanting it to be seen as a competition. He steals the first verse over a timeless beat but Black Thought scorches back in the next and instead of giving his guest one shot and smothering him with follow up verses he comes back does his next verse(even better!) and hands off again. It shows a lot of respect to his guest, he wants to murder this track and Black Thought but wants to do it clean. Obviously no one murders anyone but the outcome of this song is the best lyrical back and forth of the year. Freddie Gibbs is the greatest Gangsta rapper in the world and you know that because he called up a rap feature hall of famer(remember Pun and Black Thought?) and asked if he wanted a new challenge.

Song of The Year-The Imperial featuring Action Bronson, Royce Da 5’9 and Black Thought produced by Statik Selektah

Song of The Year-The Imperial featuring Action Bronson, Royce Da 5’9 and Black Thought produced by Statik Selektah

by Dan-O

The most popular DJ albums fall into one of two categories. The first is the super-producer putting the most popular artists together to line up as many radio hits as possible. If even one record breaks in a big way the DJ gets a new car. Not trying to run down this approach. I need great radio singles like everyone else.

The second kind is the massively well respected producer, underground or on the popular border, who uses his great beats to gather all the most interesting guests together. Statik Selektah and maybe Marco Polo fit into this category. Statik’s new album What Goes Around is absolutely fantastic in terms of track chemistry; Snoop Dogg raps with Ransom on a song, Noreaga, Reks and Termanology share the track Drunk and High. At first you might look at the tracklist and ask why Bun B and Jared Evan are on a song together but you can always trust in Statik Selektah.

Not only is this the kind of producer who never stops working (even to sleep) but his ear for MC talent is as good as his ear for song construction. He not only got Action, Black Thought and Royce together on a track, he got hungry top-of-his-game Black Thought. This is the Black Thought who ran side by side with Pun on Capital Punishment. Is it the catchiest song of the year? Does it have Jhene Aiko singing seductively? No and no but if you are walking around yapping about the lack of lyricism in rap this might sink your battleship. While this song is definitely on a higher level because of the collection of talent all the songs are formed with hard as nails wordsmiths and gritty, jazzy boom bap minimalism.

If the trashy rap makes you feel gross this is your hot shower.