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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 Like I said anyone with skin in the game gets called washed, out of date, past their prime.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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LATE PASS Mixtape Review-Imperial by Denzel Curry

LATE PASS Mixtape Review-Imperial by Denzel Curry

by Dan-O

Everyone should like Denzel Curry. If you’re a hip hop purist than you hate biters, people who can easily be traced into others. Success breeds copying so you can find a lot of rappers in New York who sound like Jay and a lot of yelling Atlanta dudes who sound like Waka (lotta Drakes out there). I dare anyone to look into the history of Florida (Curry is from Florida) hip hop and put Curry under one branch of someone’s tree. He’s totally unique in delivery with a flow that can tighten up to a speed bag pace or loosen up without losing any diction.

Imperial is ten songs with no filler. The hooks are all catchy and usually meaningful (example: This Life). The topics aren’t always what you expect and go in interesting directions while following a clearly understandable perspective. Narcotics sounds like the glint of cold steel and (produced by the Suicide Boys) feels like a trap anthem but it’s about the assumption that he deals with from the police.  It’s menacing as hell and begging you to connect it in your mind to a song about hardcore dealing…but that’s just perception. Another icy banger is Knotty Head featuring Rick Ross produced (like most of the songs) by Ronny J & FNZ. This one is official bluster; twisting weed, not giving an F, doing whatever you want to do…perfect for a Ross feature. Curry also has the line “My pockets on Andy Milonakis” which I can’t get enough of.

Just like Knotty Head fits Ross and creates a great Carroll City connection, Zenith is ideal for Joey Badass.  It’s the species of warped boom bap beauty (from Ronny J x FNZ x Freebase) that any lyricist lives for. The elements are simple enough to give the rapper a clear stage but it knocks hard enough to make a gorgeous song. Joey continues the Method Man-like characteristic of sounding way more dialed in on other people’s songs.  I love that he is a feature killer, it keeps us from forgetting how utterly dope he is.

If you are looking for trademark Denzel Curry moments, this project is full of them.  Sick and Tired is dark, frustrated, and paranoid. People are looking at him like a target because he is doing well so he has to protect himself as well as his family from that, not to mention duck the confines of the law. My favorite song on the mixtape is Story No Title where he launches violent disagreement with his peers “How the F_ the rap game become a beauty pageant? Candy @$$ rappers tryin’ to sound like Atlanta b/c they got no identity. I’m off the top like O-Ren Ishii v. Uma Thurman…” It’s a statement to his audience outlining the difference between Denzel Curry and other listening experiences. It’s a story with no title because the title will come later or not, the point is the story and the story is unique. A great title without a good story is a letdown. Curry vows not to be that. Pure Enough also builds on this conversation.

If Tomorrow’s Not Here is a perfect way to end the album. It reminds me of the last song on Goodie Mob-Soul Food (The Day After); thickly soulful, chunky and thoughtful. By track ten (Tomorrow’s Not Here) Denzel Curry is perfectly defined along with all of his fears. Even those of us who are hearing him for the first time on Imperial know exactly who he is and that’s such a brilliant relief.

Stream or download Imperial below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/denzel-curry-imperial

 

Song Review-Struggle Rapper by Quest

Song Review-Struggle Rapper by Quest

By Dan-O

I have been a Quest fan for years and years. His projects are never easy to prepare meals, don’t get me wrong. The difference is Quest is an emcee who really emotes. Most of the rappers people think of as good at this are really just expounding upon the feelings they have in relation to how awesome they are. This isn’t really emoting its just bragging with a masking agent to cover.

On this song off his new mixtape Searching Sylvan he goes all the way in; using a term created to be insulting and turning it on its head. He owns the struggle rap title and articulates for almost six minutes (with no chorus) his blown opportunities, crying himself to sleep, and faltering while Kendrick and J.Cole came up.

 No one would do this to themselves. At least three quarters of this track is a diss song to himself. Quest is not just the toughest gangster of his own passions he produced the track Biscayne Blvd and large portions of Searching Sylvan are handled by his in house production team The Marvels. He’s got a direct hand in his own sound, a surprisingly durable flow, and a real superb aptitude for soulful music (see C.O.T. Dreams Dreams Dreams). I wanted to review this cause its his most unrestricted confession booth moment on the tape (although the tape’s finale May 10, 2012 comes close). In Maine we have an expression “If you don’t stay for the winter you didn’t earn the summer.” Tracks like this are the winter: cold, lonely, and beautiful. Lucky for every Quest fan we earn our way to the summer.