Tag Archives: Southern Hip Hop

Mixtape Review-#TDT by Big K.R.I.T.

Mixtape Review-#TDT by Big K.R.I.T.

by Dan-O

I would love to talk to Drake. When he went on Lebron James HBO show The Shop he was asked about the legacy of a truly great artist namely how to assess the ups and downs. The point he made has stuck with me, for Drake, a great artist is not defined by the consistency of output but their ability to navigate the extremes of success and failure. That’s what makes a great story. The great stories are what we remember and they cannot be triumphant all the way through to be interesting. I respect the argument it is eloquent but I strongly disagree.

The new mixtape from Big K.R.I.T. called #TDT would be the key to my counterargument. As a consumer, I love stories but I HATE wasting money. When a top tier artist completely flips what they are good at and go out on a limb…it better work out because I’m paying for the dalliance. I am not a rapper but I pay rappers for their music. I go to shows, I buy shirts, physical albums and purchase MP3 albums. My top tier artist is one I can pre-order without the faintest trace of concern, knowing they will deliver on whatever the cost is.

K.R.I.T. has a discography I can just throw on from any point in his career. He’s consistent and developing at the same time. His best album is always his last one. Dude invented his own sound. Every write up will talk about his debt to UGK (he does have a song called Learned From Texas on #TDT) but he didn’t jack the Pimp C sonics. He took the thump and drizzled blues all over it, soaked it in gospel. The first song (Energy) feels like an anthem but doesn’t crank at eleven like you’d expect an anthem to. Super soulful background singing and humming don’t counter the bass but work in tandem to create a car speaker paradise. No matter which K.R.I.T. song you put on it will sound great because he knows what K.R.I.T. sounds like. That has never been good enough for him.

#TDT is a primer for songs that are going to sound great live. Pick Yourself Up, Energy, Learned From Texas all have overpowering hooks and high energy verses. I’ve seen K.R.I.T. live and he is exciting. He has also improved lyrically by drastic lengths since he broke to the world on Krit Wuz Here. Glorious is devastating flow, gritted teeth, determination music. It’s about being free of Def Jam and being asked how it feels to be indy now. I’m sure the twisted part is he’s felt independent the whole time. He broke on mixtapes he produced wrote and performed HIMSELF. Got signed to Def Jam and no one in the building knew how to sell a dude from Mississippi. He stayed current through his own grind and stepping his game up (Mt. Olympus). The only relatable comparison people had for him was David Banner and I’m sure he was asked if he was like David Banner….nope. Nobody is like David Banner (both are great producers though).

1 Oh Oh is a stupendous relationship song. K.R.I.T. knows how to dialogue with a female audience without shaming them or making it narcissistic. Don’t ask me why I think K.R.I.T. is a top three MC and others don’t. You know the answer. His drawl is too southern for a pop audience that still has a lot of dickish opinions about Southern folks. They want their Southern rappers a bit foolish: shirt off and goofing. K.R.I.T. isn’t breaking down society like Kendrick he’s not NPR analysis fodder but he’s not just turning up. He’s a professionals professional like Sonny Rollins out grinding, discovering new levels of his saxophone, after all these decades. Those dudes mean more to me than the drama of the comeback.

Stream or download #TDT below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Big-KRIT-TDT-mixtape.923730.html

 

 

Advertisements

Mixtape Review-Savage Holidays by Boosie Badazz

Mixtape Review-Savage Holidays by Boosie Badazz

by Dan-O

Savage Holidays is the greatest Christmas rap album of all time. The ability of Boosie to be able to take his superpower (turning painful stories/imagery into stadium sized anthems) and apply it to the holiday season is nothing short of exhilarating. It is not just his pain either. At the end of the title track he directly inhabits the perspective of his Chicago audience and wears their distress “he was finally F*&$in’ shinin’ man that N_ he was bossin’ last year he was rappin’ this year he in a coffin.” The whole project is dedicated to the frustration and terror of being alive in 2019. It is as if Boosie spends his career dissatisfied that the rap world pretends everything is going so well when they know the truth is harrowing.

Death stomps through Savage Holidays leaving deep footprints. Santa Claus of The Ghetto builds up the dope boy as someone who gives back to the community, shines so the poor kids can dream to be as wealthy but the chorus begs for him to stay free as long as possible. Prison or death can take the dope boy away in the wrong swirl of a moment and Boosie makes sure his chorus is pleading, the song feels like it is from a ghetto kids perspective not his. It’s high level writing.

On Christmas List YFN Lucci talks about robbing for PJ Masks, Rich Homie Quan talks about getting drugs in his stocking but the first line Boosie says in his verse is “I just want to be with my family for Christmas.” He spits it as hard as any threat he’s ever hurled; levels it at the loneliness he explores without applying branding tactics to humblebrag package it.

Boosie is not all soul bearing, his sexual appetite is pervasive throughout his work and he certainly pushes forward with that on Savage Holidays.  Pussy Got Me Like is dick-on-ya-buttcheeks straightforward and leads into Cold Outside which is significantly less creepy than Baby It’s Cold Outside. He’s clear within the song that he wants to smoke up, laugh, hang out and have lots of sex which seems like a more balanced relationship than the original version. While some will say ending the song with a call for his female audience to twerk is less distinguished than the original I think it is distinctly more honest.

If you are concerned about offensive things than yes, temper your expectations. Boosie is as full of offensive thoughts as he is meaningful introspection and empathy. This project has a song called The Bitch Who Stole Christmas about the time honored seduction as robbery one-two punch. He is livid and shouts the details as if it happened minutes ago and the beat is haunting. My favorite song is This Christmas where his anger tires and over a scratchy guitar he mumbles about letting his people down, going to prison. He uses his voice as an instrument extending words and singing in a way that tortures the melody. The chorus is “This Christmas won’t be like the others. Bells will still be ringin’ children still be singin’ but things won’t be the same at all. I done let my people down, prison walls they closin’ in. Try my best to shed no tears but they fall when holidays are here. This Christmas…” Can you imagine how many people are spending Christmas with these feelings (especially in a country that adores locking people up)? With this pain? Now imagine having Boosie give you and your family this soundtrack. What kind of fan loyalty would you have at that point? That is how Boosie can remain so foundationally strong while never popping up in the trivial hip hop trends. He works from a base that needs him more than they need anyone else.

Stream or download Savage Holidays below:

https://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/48920/boosie-badazz-savage-holidays.html

#Bandcampgold-Malik Ruff by Quadry

#Bandcampgold-Malik Ruff by Quadry

by Dan-O

Malik Ruff is an album I really like. I don’t have it numerically placed on my list of year end albums yet (it just came out November 2nd) but I really like it. The project washes over you. It balances a distinct ambiance that soaks your sonic pace and tempo with a real balanced perspective. Quadry gives us the joy of New Orleans bounce (he’s from Baton Rouge) on Louis and Pirelli. Both songs gives us permission to rock back and throw our head bop into high gear. Louis relies on the fun of yelling out “2!” which is very fun but Pirelli provides a distorted vocal bridge and lyrics upon lyrics. The song is a real talent showcase. Hot Headed is even better lyrically tackling political mayhem and how it causes our depression. The ambiance I referenced is like a mixture of Organized Noize and Tribe Called Quest. A lot of these songs don’t trample forward but thump at a beautiful pace.  1:04 PM is a great example, produced by Steve Lacy of The Internet, it is a tight song rich with guitar and a great chorus. His smoking and drinking and having fun takes place alongside his rumination about life and depression.

Malik Ruff does me the great service of never demanding I skip a song. Everything is perfectly placed and while I don’t recognize any of the guests featured (BoyBoy, Tev’n ,Anjelihs, Ida’ye, Black Party, Teo Halm) none of them bring weed carrier energy to the project. Everyone is here for a reason. It has snarling attack-the-night music (24/7) and very personal thoughtful material (Wesley ‘For My Son’). I bought this album halfway through the first listen. I just need it with me on days when I don’t feel hype or savage or maudlin or reflective but twenty five percent of each.  Dudes like this don’t break enormous. They become Big K.R.I.T., a respected cult leader of music that just sounds different, a hushed name thrown out in response to “Who could possibly be as good as (insert pop rap superstar)!? ”

Stream or purchase Malik Ruff below:

https://quadry.bandcamp.com/album/malik-ruff

Song review-Goyard by Lil Debbie produced by Kid Class

Song review-Goyard by Lil Debbie produced by Kid Class

by Dan-O

I will be forgiven for not being all in on Lil Debbie when she popped. She came about during that big 2011 White Girl Mob mess that spawned V-Nasty & Kreayshawn.  She came in the game as a tiny white girl with a pronounced blacent (to be clear people grow up in different neighborhoods and if you are a tiny pretty white girl growing up in a culturally black environment I’m not mad if you pick up stuff, that outrage is not my perogative as I am a white dude from Maine).

The difference between Debbie and the rest is that she really picked up productivity. From 2013 till present day Lil Debbie has 6 ep’s and 2 studio albums. She teamed up with Atlanta based producer Kid Class for a new ep in salute of Fresh Prince/Jazzy Jeff entitled I’m The Rapper, He’s The Producer. For the first prolonged period of time (5 tracks) she is forced to adjust to different production. She’s spent her life eating off slapping bay area beats that did a lot of the work and this time things are different. The final product she’s able to craft is worthy of some real acknowledgement.

I did hear her get better over the course of years and her last album (2017’s OG In My System) has real bars (I distinctly remember hitting rewind on a verse attacking organized religion as a drug to pacify people).  I’m The Rapper, He’s Producer is a game of adjustments. On the first track Oxymoron she uses the Migos pinched breathing hook delivery to find the bounce, on Stunt she uses Southern rap style vocal doubling to good effect. She sways with these beats to stay in the flow of the production.

The high point is Goyard (which I just found out from the internet is a French tote bag that dates back to the 1800’s. She went to fashion school people.) This is like a great Wiz Khalifa song with hand claps and a hook held and pinched to make the autotune an essential part of the song.  Her flow has no more wrinkles left in it. You can say she’s not saying anything important and that argument has enough gray area to sink anyone BUT she spits. She is a monster on the chorus & bridge.  I could have easily done this review on the song after Goyard (Classic) which is warm and fun and cocky.  Her songs go.

Nothing makes me happier than when people I think suck prove I suck for doubting them. She gets it and has the right attitude when she says “You know I be super loaded off the OG blunts and Eddies, even let my haters hit it ain’t no time for being petty.” She played the long game after the hot takes cooled down.

 

 

 

 

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

#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.