Tag Archives: Southern Hip Hop

Mixtape Review-In Tune We Trust by Lil Wayne

Mixtape Review-In Tune We Trust by Lil Wayne

by Dan-O

Looking back on what Wayne accomplished is shocking, even if you start at 2007. By the end of 2008 he had sold 2.88 million copies of Carter III and changed how pop rap albums sound forever. He created the pop mixtape market with his Dedication series that started in 2005. Wayne didn’t fall out of touch he savagely experimented and when he was wrong he was so committed to that wrong that it was unbearable (see Rebirth).

The lessons Wayne teaches are all present on In Tune We Trust which is likely a collection of loosies he had hanging around.  Loyalty kicks off the mixtape with a brilliant first verse from Gudda Gudda. The key here is the beat by ChefBoy’RT is simple but filled with kinetic energy that drives at Weezy speed. Wayne taught us all what energy is. Whenever you hear Kendrick get into his take-over-the-world flow you know that comes from Weezy. In an interview Isaiah Rashad called Wayne the Michael Jordan of rap! You can debate the comparison but even on the low stakes freestyle Magnolia you marvel at how easy the art is for him.

The best song is Fireworks produced by Mike Will Made It. Jeezy kicks off the track with a great verse that puts Wayne into his perfect zone. While Jeezy has a pinpoint verse about success and drug dealing, Weezy wanders and jokes (“whip it like a big booty b__ like a cup of coffee with a spoon in it”) with the flow of a master and the mentality of a thirty four year old perverted Dennis The Menace. The difference in the two approaches makes the song work stand out.

The four song length of In Tune We Trust sets expectations low but it is a reminder that while you may think of Weezy as last era’s guy he is the same age as Future. He has just been professionally rapping before he could legally buy cigarettes.   I am dead sure that when he does get his label situation right his next album will be a monster.

Stream or download In Tune We Trust below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Lil-Wayne-In-Tune-We-Trust-mixtape.852132.html

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.

FME 2016 MVP is Boosie Badazz

FME 2016 MVP is Boosie Badazz

by Dan-O

Most of my frustration with music reviews stems from people judging influence in the moment. We can look back and understand the influence great albums or artists had on previous eras but anyone telling you the influence someone right now is having on the world right now…is pulling that out of their butt. In the moment all we have is the work.

No one put in better work in 2016 than Boosie Badazz. He beat cancer got out of prison and released six fantastic projects.  You could select the worst of those six projects (probably Thug Talk) and still get more out of it (content and enjoyment-wise) than the numerical victors of 2016. Over a total of 103 songs he poured his heart out time after time.

The emotional progression of his work in 2016 was masterful. In January he released a tight and earth shattering collection of music called In My Feelings. (Goin’ Thru It).  It’s a devastating journey; he turned introspective internal monologues into anthemic bangers.  While he roars he also ruminates all the way through going from The Rain to his cancer experience (Cancer) to sleeping in a puddle in his federal prison cell to the responsibility he has to his family and friends(Call of Duty) it makes perfect sense that the last song is I Know They Gone Miss Me where he wistfully hopes that his kids and friends will hold his memory close even after he passes. Nothing he released in 2016 was as uncomfortable as In My Feelings because of the unfiltered level of disclosure he abided by for those ten songs.  Forgive Me Being Lost in the wrong hands would be a humble brag about the depth and unstoppable nature of our narrators vengeance but right off the bat he confesses seeing his first dead body at 8 years old, he describes himself and his crew as roaches and as the song progresses he delivers the blistering “They tried to give me life, said I’m bad for the community. How I’m supposed ta feel about some people tryin’ to ruin me? Why should I stop for the cops if they shootin’ me? Why I get rich now my friends using me? Cold Winters, why us I need answers, if I sin god forgive me but my baby need pampers.”  Every Boosie verse takes place on the lowest dirtiest scariest continuum of existence, and it’s in a very consciously Springsteen way.  No matter how rich he gets he doesn’t want to lose that identity.

Out My Feelings In My Past is a brilliant follow up that hit a month after its predecessor. He makes the transition from internal dialogue to engaging with the world and wrestling with his memory of it vs. the state it is in now. You can see this on World War 6, New School/Old School, and especially on Mann where he talks about how horrifying the newest generation of younger hustlers are compared to his era.  Takem Back is a vivid rendering of his path to success where you can hear the implication that Boosie uses his experiences as parables and abides by the lessons they teach.

Thug Talk came in March and embraced fully the anger bubbling in the first two releases. On the second song (Finish U) he shouts the song into a melee that would make Waka Flocka proud; Off The Chain makes every brag kinetic and might not be his most meaningful song but pumps adrenaline through your speakers(“Say you gangsta I don’t buy that. I can smell where you hide at. Six murders and two attempts you talkin’ that ish B__ you lying! Go to war with any creature B__ you F_ing with a lion!!!”—Off The Chain). This roaring tsunami of anger feeds the soulful seething hopelessness of Menace II Society.  Guest verses on Thug Talk are no joke featuring the holy trinity of Z-ro, Pimp C, and Webbie.

In May Bleek Mode (Thug In Peace Lil Bleek) blew more holes in our available hard drive space. Not only was this project #5 but it is nineteen tracks!   My favorite Boosie song of 2016 is on this one, Hard But Sweet where he refers to his childhood as the Jolly Rancher days because they were hard but sweet.  The image fits him like a glove and defines the project which is full of hard, violent bangers but reveals itself in the sweet songs longing for the companionship of his favorite people. Destined To Blow and Blue Money are full to the brim with swagger but Not My N_ and Family Rules are intensely emotionally. Boosie doesn’t need death to get intense. He doesn’t “get intense” he just is. Dis Morning is just Boosie going off, about Ebola and distrust, paranoia, police violence, & ambition.Boosie is so ceaselessly dialed in to passionate full force response that it is actually difficult to maintain his level of energy. Boosie wears you out! At one point in Bleek Mode Boosie is convinced that in prison the insulin he uses for diabetes is being tampered with in order to murder him. Can you imagine being in that state of mind? Bleek Mode takes you there and it is scary. Still Not as scary as C-Murders voice.

A month before we even got Bleek Mode Boosie & C-Murder came together to put out an album called Penitentiary Chances. I didn’t have high hopes since prison albums(C-Murder is still locked up) tend to sound awful from a sound quality pov. I was wrong. Every Boosie song takes place in Boosie world so all vocals are clean as a new white T-shirt and all beats rumble with bass. The high point of the project is hearing C-Murder dialed into the power of that horrifying voice over the creepy chanting of Dear Supreme Court. If the song was intended to convince people he was innocent I’m not sure it should have been as creepy as it is. As a C-Murder song it is amazing. Penitentiary Chances is a real discussion about prison life from two people who shared the same cell block at one point. Boosie says “Used to have a personal chef…now I work in the kitchen(In The Pen),” let that image really sink in. It is intense. You listen to This Ain’t Living, For My Homies That’s Dead, Blame My Mother, & When We Came 2 The Can and before you hit song ten you feel like your living Donald Goines White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief. Great book, tough read. Same deal here.

By the time Boosie dropped Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas I was ready for some joy to peek in.  No one has dropped a Christmas project this hardcore. The track that made headlines was No Drake On where we have a Boyz N The Hood moment gone left. The protagonist of the song is riding around seething for revenge but he’s not getting out of the car. Instead of Drake playing in the ride he pops on Murder Was The Case. Lil Scrappy is great on the song, Hurricane Chris is vicious on Hurricane, Rich Homie Quan is probably my favorite guest verse of the album but I like my Boosie songs solo. Vlad TV features Boosie hitting that TI level of boisterous-but-he-means-every-word performance.

This isn’t just some paper Burger King crown of an award I’m giving to Boosie. I listened to over a hundred songs of his this year MANY MANY times. I know about his grandmother, his spirituality, his kidney cancer, his childhood love for pickles and hot chips and that level of successful vivid storytelling creates a relationship to the music and its author. I never sit back wondering why Boosie can’t break out into the international sensation the top 3 guys are. I’m just thankful that in 2016 anyone gave this much of themselves.

Stream or download Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/boosie-badazz-happy-thanksgiving-merry-Christmas

Stream or purchase Bleek Mode below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/lil-boosie-bleek-mode

Stream or purchase Thug Talk below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/lil-boosie-thug-talk

Stream or purchase Out My Feelings (In My Past) below:

https://www.spinrilla.com/mixtapes/boosie-badazz-out-my-feelings-in-my-past

If you get this far and like what you hear buy or stream In My Feelings and Penitentiary Chances from the service you pay for or hunt down the physical copy like us old heads do. Best Buy still has music…for now.

 

 

Worst Song of The Year-Juice by Future

Worst Song of The Year-Juice by Future

by Dan-O

Future released his new mixtape Project E.T. it’s a DJ Esco mixtape but it’s obviously Future.  Stereogum and Pitchfork (& others) are saying that Future sounds tired. This is code. He doesn’t actually sound like he needs to catch 8 more hours under silk sheets or take a day to himself on the couch with ice cream and romantic comedies to recharge. He’s just been hitting the same two topics way too hard. 1. Drugs 2. His hatred of Ciara. As mighty as DS2 was it was pretty much those two topics for eighteen songs.

I actually like Project E.T. more than others, it has bangers and less depressing content (in spots) and a hall of fame Juicy J feature but I have a hard time returning for repeat listens knowing that Juice is sitting right there waiting for me.  The song starts with the O.J. Simpson verdict being read.  He references O.J. Simpson and murder in a creepy sing song before flat out saying “Trying to F*** my baby mama dog what’s up with you? You gon’ make me get the heat, I’m pullin’ up on you.” WHAT?! You’re bragging about sex with hordes of women you have no regard for but you are going to shoot anyone Ciara has sex with? Ciara is supposed to curl up and cease to exist? Look, I can totally digest an album where Future owns being a sh__y person but I can’t do four, five or six of them. These things have a shelf life. You loved the movie Dumb and Dumber but if that was a TV show…how much of it could you have really done? When is the last time you rewatched old Beavis & Butthead?

Morally the song Juice is brutally abhorrent. Ciara has done a lot for music and deserves respect. It’s sickening when a successful rapper turns his anger away from his real challenges (industry competition) to the women who desire and like him or used to. Women get picked on in rap too damn much and while Future had a sloppy divorce and deserves to be able to discuss it, Juice is not a song that a grown up makes.

Sonically the song Juice is tedious to its bones. This isn’t Eminem-Kim this is Eminem Relapse. The same way Em slipped back into that stupid serial killer character to cover up for the fact that he was in an artistically unsure place, Juice is a great way to divert away from reality. Future is not going to kill Ciara and he’s got to deal with life as it is, he could use his music as a way to deal with that. He doesn’t and were all kind of tired of him missing the obvious stuff that needs talking about.

Future isn’t tired.

I’m tired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday-Lost Ya’ll Mind by Kilo Ali

Throwback Thursday-Lost Ya’ll Mind by Kilo Ali

by Dan-O

Netflix has a great documentary on Dungeon Family production team Organized Noize(The Art of Organized Noize) and its full of great old school southern rap name drops. I’ve been fascinated because because it feels like southern rap history is left to be the least explored outside of the south. Lots of us know every inch of 80’s east coast rap or 90’s west coast rap but if you hit the right Witchdoctor album you’ll be flabbergasted. One of the names dropped in a serious way, referenced as the heart of the sound, was Kilo Ali. I knew that I knew that name.

I checked out Kilo Ali’s 1997 Organized Bass album and had the strangest flashbacks. I’ve never owned this but I’ve heard every song on it nine or ten times. I was in the Army stationed in Fort Hood Texas at a time when DJ Screw was dominant. Al was in charge of showing me the ropes of southern rap when I had no footing in it. He was from East Point Atlanta, always got the important music six months before anyone else. He swore by Organized Bass; played it constantly while I crossed my arms and told him it sucked.

Organized Bass does Miami bass and mixes it with gospel, playful sex, discussions of racism, and religion. Lost Ya’ll Mind is the perfect example. I know the reason I missed it then. The blend was not just too unique but far too effortless. Back then my favorite emcees were people I watched strain for greatness. Kilo Ali is always saying something but he never loses his love of the melody, his grasp of the beat. People will dance to this! Every style of rap has a weird slept on classic that defines the very characteristics of its existence and the same way D.O.C.’s album No One Can Do It Better is west coast lyricism in a nutshell Organized Bass is the south. When he says “Money and clothes, and beamers and vogues, I’d rather go to heaven than any of those” I can still hear Al singing along. Getting the last laugh.

Mixtape Review-The Owners Manual by Curren$y

Mixtape Review-The Owners Manual by Curren$y

by Dan-O

It has not been easy to review mixtapes lately. While a lot of people are pleased as punch to see the upcoming on datpiff become available a lot of it sounds the same. Putting together daily playlists of new mixtapes I have more often than ever had to double check who I’m listening to. Which guy is this again?

I know why it’s happened; money tightened up industry-wide and that means a lot of artists are peaking at the smart kids test for help. Lot of people sound like Gucci or Waka or Drake; at some point the knock offs hurt the value of the original. I would love to be more excited for the new Future mixtape but everyone is doing Future. I can’t get away from his sound.

The Owners Manual is a great example of what I love about Curren$y, the richness and difference of his perspective and the uncompromising oddity of his flow and song structure. He makes references other people wouldn’t think about. On his last album 2015’s Canal Street Confidential (fantastic album) he’s flirting with a woman and says in his head “She looks like Lisa Lisa, I’ma take her home.” Where most rappers would have jammed in an Aaliyah reference Spitta has a whole different thought pattern.

The Owners Manual is a perfect follow up to his classic Pilot Talk album. While that collection of music was an articulation of the drive it takes to be a successful independent artist, this mixtape is the guide on how to handle being there. All throughout Spitta shares the everyday struggles of his happily ever after. Rain Stunts is a great example where he swings back and forth from saluting his progress to mumbling about how he didn’t change THEY did. “When you see me in it, know why I did it to show you you can get it if you stay committed. No country for quitters you’ll be eaten my N_” he mourns not being able to pass the weed to friends who passed away, that no money can bring them back. None of it ever feels overreaching or guilty of gooey sentiment, this is Curren$y so it’s just sparklingly conversational.

As blissfully soulful as the Cool & Dre production is, as gorgeously spun into the beat as these samples are…The Owners Manual has a lot of emotional shifting for six songs. Song five (Forecast) is blistering not just in the force of Spitta’s commitment to succeed but the paranoia. He worries “the police is on the internet downloading mixtapes tryin’ to get tips” and threatens ominously “Don’t try nothin’ funny crash test dummy or you’ll see your dealing with more than me.” That song pivots right into the last song (Mallory Knox) which is the most finger snapping Zapp & Roger soulful we get on the project. It’s rich and gratifying and a purely proper end for the project.

Curren$y has a musical intelligence that is hard to even estimate. Consider all the incredible producers he’s worked with: Ski Beatz, Alchemist, Cookin’ Soul, Cool & Dre somehow he always gets their best work. Is it something about him that makes them give up the good beats? Does he just have a great ear and won’t let wack beats in? Either way he’s a mixtape hall of famer and the only rapper who put out a mixtape in 2016 (so far) with a serious Batman reference “Umbrella in the door jammed, back just like Batman (Forecast).” Sometimes I think he’s so consistent that we are missing how brilliant each step is. Either way, he has been unique in an engaging way and so unique that he’s incredibly difficult to copy; tip the hat for that.

Download or Stream The Owners Manual below:

http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/38036/currensy-the-owners-manual.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixtape Review-It’s Better This Way by Big K.R.I.T.

Mixtape Review-It’s Better This Way by Big K.R.I.T.

by Dan-O

Would it be controversial if I said K.R.I.T. would already be a legend in his own time if he was white? Would it be outrageous for me to say that he would be standing next to Drake in sales if he was from New York? Would it strike you as strange to say he would be hotter than Future if he was from Atlanta? I hope not because I believe all of those statements to be true. His newest mixtape It’s Better This Way has more than enough evidence.

His southern accent is too southern for a lot of East Coast cats. His deeply soulful non-trap identity isn’t very Atlanta but the breadth of his abilities is staggering. As a producer he can create something bass driven but minimal, sparkling and striking like Party Tonight or flip a soul sample as adeptly as Kanye in his prime (see Piece On Chain). K.R.I.T. spent his last album Cadillactica rapping his brains out to convince people that his deep drawl didn’t prevent him from being a top MC (the public seems to like a little drawl but not a lot of drawl). While K.R.I.T. does make heartfelt music that at times can be cheesy, isn’t that the natural dark side of all heartfelt music? Hasn’t that been the same thing J. Cole has been wrestling with? The difference is K.R.I.T. has a better ear so his music, at its worst, is still totally bumpable.

It’s Better This Way has none of the Mt. Olympus mission statement of Cadillactica. It’s thick and soulful. Can’t Be Still carries that sad blues poignancy that travels back to Smokestack Lightning and how many 2015 rappers can you say that about? Not in a what-is-he-trying-for way but as a natural strength. The cool thing is this is only one of his strengths.

When K.R.I.T. wants to give you a banger he serves it up with intensity and vigor. During the course of listening to the song 86 you can’t help but move and he gives you the pace. He raps fast and shouts the chorus knowing exactly where he wants the speed to land. As big and booming as his grandest tracks are they still fit snugly into the Soulmaster mystique he’s earned over the course of a thousand dope mixtapes and a few really good albums (not to mention a collaboration with B.B. King!). Stylistically he connects the country rap tunes of UGK/8ball & MJG to Chess Records without appearing to work at it.

The parts of It’s Better This Way that really interest me are the off the beaten track songs that don’t fit into banger or soul jam categories. Vanilla Sky is just as captivatingly odd in content as construction. He talks about wanting to find the meaning of life in Africa and debating whether he should hire a driver when he buys his newest nice ride. The song has starved spaces in it pregnant with atmospheric content not usually present. In The Darkness is similarly odd, seeming like cloud rap but both of these songs are good. He’s adding new tricks while not throwing away the old ones which is the definition of progression. Even the strangest feature on the mixtape (Warren G on No Static) makes absolute sense once you hear the song. I always loved that Warren G didn’t put on airs or create a super-gangster persona and I think that actually hurt him in the era he existed in. America was addicted to super-gangsters at that time. Maybe the same is true of K.R.I.T. and that’s why No Static is the easiest, most listenable song on the mixtape. The collective confident ease of two artists who know how to make music fun just overwhelms you.

The title track puts to bed all the questions in my first paragraph. He states clearly “my takeover wasn’t overnight and to be honest it was a gift from god.” Maybe he does have the chips stacked against him but he’s celebrating the victories with a clearer head, knowing he earned them. Whether you like him or not he always has a plan and you can trust it to work out. It’s just better this way.

stream or download It’s Better This Way below:
http://www.datpiff.com/Big-KRIT-Its-Better-This-Way-mixtape.740537.html