Tag Archives: Southern Hip Hop

Sample Snitch-Chaka Khan, Simply Red, 8ball, & MJG

 

Sample Snitch-Chaka Khan, Simply Red, 8ball, & MJG

by Dan-O

So UGK dropped their first album Too Hard To Swallow in 1992 stacked with old soul samples. The sample listing includes Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, and the Isley Brothers. I’ve already written a previous Sample Snitch about the Isley connection with UGK. A year later in 1993 8ball & MJG drop one of the scariest debut albums in the history of the genre (Comin’ Out Hard) and on the title track they sample Rufus & Chaka Khan’s Stay along with Simply Red’s Holding Back The Years.

The juxtaposition of smash mouth street content over warm lush soul would come to define Southern Rap. This is the creation of riding music made to bump in Cadillac’s not headphones or dancefloors. At the time the “average” hip hop fan was so used to the east coast brusque tough guy shouting street cred that this was all new. The smooth foundation of Simply Red topped with the brilliant sample of Chaka Khan for the chorus was shaken and altered by 8ball saying things like:

” I gotta come out hard as hell just like the life I lead

Cool, feed on the next brotha’s greed

J-Smooth cuttin’ up, lil’ Hank gettin’ buck

Killers be shootin’ up suckas with no guts

I’m scoping big butts, looking for the payoff

Living like a pimpster, taking everyday off

Riding through the hood with my homies gettin’ smoked out

Fall up in the mall, on a ho stroll, loked out

Cool, calm and collective, comin’ out hard”

He was feeding on greed watching killers shoot people while remaining cool, calm and collective…how? It was a different environment and mentality from the one listeners understood.  The imagery portrayed is still genuinely horrifying. On the song Pimps 8ball has a verse where he gives lessons on pimping and one is

“Lesson three

If you don’t tell dat ho who is boss

Bitchs like to run shit

But end up getting smacked in the mouth

See a real nigga believe in beatin them hoes down

Push they head into the wall until you hear dat crackin sound”

His intonation is so serious and sinister in its joy as he says it that the verse never leaves you. It teaches you a horrible truth about the world that we all need to work to change. It speaks the terror hidden from some neighborhoods. That song samples Love T.K.O. by Linda & Cecil Womack( they went by Womack & Womack).  8ball & MJG made gangsta rap just as ugly or brutal as anyone in history but the sugar of soul and funk (Rufus for example had all songs written by the keyboardist, bassist and drummer so they naturally made songs perfect for hip hop sampling.) made it go down differently. While people were having congressional hearings about Dr. Dre & Ice Cube, Old Dirty, Wu-Tang Clan…Southern Rap wasn’t really in the conversation. Maybe it wasn’t big enough sales wise, maybe the samples made it taste less threatening than it was. Either way, Comin’ Out Hard is the core of a method we still find today.

Rufus featuring Chaka Khan Stay off the album Street Player

Simply Red Holding Back The Years off the album Picture Book

Comin’ Out Hard by 8ball & MJG brings it all together

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#Bandcampgold-MacGregor Park by Fat Tony

#Bandcampgold-MacGregor Park by Fat Tony

by Dan-O

The bandcamp description says Fat Tony read a book on Houston hip hop and found out that the first rap single ever released in Houston was called MacGregor Park, which is where the title track and name of this album come from.

The resulting eight track project is one of my favorite finds of the year (as well as one of Bandcamp’s top 20 hip hop albums of 2017). Every beat slams in the way you would hope a Houston, Texas rap album would but in a really developed way. I love the wind instruments on Ride Home, the pounding bass on Swervin’ (a stupendous first track).

Tony is a no stress listen as master of ceremonies go.  Even when he goes deep he never makes you grab the tissue box for a ham handed tearjerker. He nimbly and honestly discusses fights, food, weed and heavier topics with an earnest pitch in his voice and his pen “..swervin’ alone again back in the day, had no idea of who I really am back in the day made decisions I regretted then lie to your face, blame it all on another man I’m sorry ok…(Swervin’) ” Later when he says “you love me and my flaws I don’t even know why” he’s not sticking the landing of a backpacker line meant to signify how thoughtful he is, rather keeping his music representative of how he feels. While Taydex ,for the first 2 tracks, keeps the beats head nod centric.

I can’t tell you how much I love the Whataburger dedication Drive Thru. Part of this is that I lived in Killeen, TX for a year and now I live in Maine where the fast food options are to be pitied. I kind of miss 4 AM at Whataburger but the dedication Tony has to the song brings it back. Very few rappers are doubling their vocals to shout “Baked Potato!” God bless him for that. We should all shout baked potato more.

The other production force doing great work here is GLDN_EYE who produces the title track, Drive Thru, and Last Night. I don’t know if weird beats come to Tony or if Tony beckons them but GLDN_EYE gets it. Last Night sounds like old Nintendo theme music made into a reggae beat. The beat to Drive Thru sounds like the score for the movie Scarface done by Houston rap legend (my G.O.A.T.) Scarface.

What makes MacGregor Park so relistenable? It is expertly dexterous. The beats are so drastically different not just from what is on the radio but from one another that as an 8 song package it never gets boring to listen to. Tony is hooky melodic and utilizes his voice for as much singing as we are all comfortable with. He has fun, gets serious, gets scary (the park gets scary see the title track) but you always root for him to win. You get the impression that when he does really win he’ll still be eating Whataburger in first class.

Stream or purchase MacGregor Park below:

https://fattonyrap.bandcamp.com/album/macgregor-park

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-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

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.