Tag Archives: Styles P

#Bandcampgold-Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Bread by Niko Is produced by Thanks Joey

#Bandcampgold-Songs.4. People. Who.Break.Bread by Niko Is produced by Thanks Joey

By Dan-O

More than anything else Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Bread is a celebration of leveling up. I have been writing about Niko Is every year since his marvelously perfect 2012 Chill Cosby mixtape. Since that time he has been feverishly releasing material, touring, and playing his position. He’s now Talib Kweli’s right hand man, the kind of guy who can live in a tour bus for months and unfold himself as a lyrical dynamo from a weeded up sleepy state.

Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Bread isn’t my favorite Niko project for the simple fact that I remember release after release that was all him with one or two guests(Brutus is the Reasonable Doubt for Niko)  and his ability to breath fire and sew together disparate imagery was all I ever wanted. This project definitely has that. The last song is my favorite: God & the Devil in the land of the Sun is a scare your parent’s banger where Niko fires sneaky sit & think about it lyrics while exactly in the pocket of the melody, the groove. Niko has been doing this so long and so religiously that he fits no matter what beat starts.

Another rewarding aspect of following the development of Niko’s movement is I am as much a fan of his chosen producer Thanks Joey (Joey Creates). Early production was proudly boom bap under Latin Soul samples from the greats (Tim Maia comes to mind from Chill Cosby).  Joey has grown with Niko and now while he still can give you beats under that formula he has grown into all other levels. Say U Don’t has voices chanting in the background sampled into a stew of tortured sound while the bass bubbles and thumps. Wildest Dreams sounds like Jungle ambiance over drums that would bring a tear to Timbo’s eyes. These 8 songs are the closest Joey has been to becoming the Latin hip hop stripped down banger scientist version of Swizz Beatz. On 5am @ Walmart he sets a classic hip hop tone that allows for great verses from not just Niko but Mygrane & Murdoc. That song is meant to be a cypher of lyricists so the beat needs to lead from the back and Joey can do it. Joey can do anything.

Niko has worked with other producers who have done great work but any Niko fan ends up wondering, why not just all Joey? Joey is so good. So that is what we get(and have gotten for a while). U Could Be My Gal is Joey’s prettiest work with finger snaps and gentle cooing looped as the beat knocks. The first Bandcamp tag is “bossa nova” the second is “hip hop” and it makes sense. At this point Joey could use nothing but Astrud Gilberto samples and give you the hardest hitting hip hop album of the year. Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Bread is a better showcase of Joey’s growth and expertise in his field than Niko. Niko understands at this point.  He’s proved his bars all over tracks with legendary mc’s (Styles P, Kweli, Action Bronson) and reliably put out albums where the concept is simply that Niko Is dope, albums that work better than fancier concept albums from major artists.

Songs.4.People.Who.Break.Bread is an affirmation that as a team they are officially staples and it is known outside of Florida, outside of the weird subset who feverishly repped him. When Chino XL comes onto Spanglish in Outerspace and rips into Woody Allen and Usher in a masterful scene stealing verse you can see the long haired stage crusher smiling, not at all feeling uneasy that he just killed on a track but excited that he gets to be on it with Chino (F*CKING) XL. He lives a life where Kool A.D. will give him a verse now and he got there through his loving monogamous relationship with the beat. You can call him an energy guy but ever since he’s been around Kweli….Kweli has sounded totally re-energized (see Carmen off Niko’s Brutus LP). That is Niko and it is Joey and it’s appreciated.

Stream or purchase below:

https://nikois.bandcamp.com/album/songs-4-people-who-break-bread

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Mixtape Review-Red Corolla by Domo Genesis

Mixtape Review-Red Corolla by Domo Genesis

by Dan-O

Odd Future turned out to be a pretty awesome buffet of talent you could pick and choose from. I chose Domo Genesis from the very beginning, a no nonsense rappers rapper with an endless appetite to spit. When Domo put his debut album out last year he was in his Sunday best bringing buttery R & B singers in to hit the hooks, high profile guest verses, and jazzy production with horns or piano or both. Genesis is fine but it doesn’t play to his strengths like this year’s project Red Corolla

It is ten tight tracks and none of them are long; none of them are overly conceptual. The production is short stabbing sounds over big drums. Evidence and Hi-Tek fit perfectly in the mix. Only two guest features pop in and both are fantastic. King Chip leads the way in the standout collaboration Honestly, Just Wanna Have A Good Time and Styles P drops another dope guest verse (for his guest verse hall of fame portfolio) on Overthinking.

The production is better because it provides tension that pushes Domo forward. The gentle plink of piano keys doesn’t feed the adrenaline in the same way these beats do, they push him to push harder. Even a song like Vintage Doms that you can think of as a straight up exercise in rapping is full of gems: “With a swag meaner than a broke bitch,” “Since Bishop fell up off the roof the juice I got it now.” He still brings melody in when he feels like it, on What It Means he kicks things off catchy with a splendidly sung hook but clears room for bar after bar afterward.

All the decisions he makes fit the concept of the red corolla, the cheap car that grounds his experiences. On the title track he explains it on the first verse.

“No longer focused on my broken ways
All I know’s the only way is to get loaded paid
But funny how the changes turn page when the dough exchange
Got me trying to float away
Back to red Corolla days”

It is a clear concept but one with enough room to breathe as a writer. The decisions just have to fit the personality of the man who once drove that vehicle. Red Corolla might be my favorite mixtape of the year and I don’t know if it has to do with the pure lack of rapping rappers we have now. Not taking any shots but guys like Domo who fearlessly lace rhymes are a rare breed at this point. It has made me a better listener and more appreciative. Mixtape Domo doesn’t have any concern about what will fit on the radio or jump up to first single level importance he just does the work and it all fits together perfectly.

I’m not saying album Domo isn’t valuable; I just want a bridge built between the two so we can arrive at a sonic compromise that makes everyone happy.

Stream or Download Red Corrolla below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Domo-Genesis-Red-Corolla-mixtape.849135.html

 

Mixtape Review-MMM by Diddy

Mixtape Review-MMM by Diddy

by Dan-O

Diddy is a human tapeworm. His musical career is characterized by the systematic withdrawal of artistic vitality from those he worked with; G. Dep, Black Rob, Shyne, Loon, Craig Mack and on and on. The distaste I have for Diddy is both cavernous and voluminous in ways that should not be expanded upon. No matter how hostile your relationship to him is no one can deny how good he is as a musical strategist and his new mixtape MMM which stands for Money Makin’ Mitch is absolute proof of that.

How could 2015 music from Diddy not seem dated? He’s richer than god from selling liquor and clothes and doesn’t write his own verses. His label’s biggest star is a poor recalibration of Yelawolf (not sorry Machine Gun Kelly). One key ingredient is that Puff really performs these verses and doesn’t pay for wack ones.  On the first real song of the mixtape, Harlem, he takes the first two minutes and forty seconds of the three minutes and thirty six seconds to dominate the song alone(then Grizzle comes in). He clearly doesn’t need to do this but he really invests himself in it. His opening verse on the fantastic collaboration Auction (with King Los, Styles P, and Lil Kim) is airtight and damn near steals the song. The production is genius throughout borrowing just enough from Trap music to feel modern but maintaining the personality of that Harlem World swagger. The Hitmen produce but Hit Boy does 2 beats, Young Chop does 2 as well (Auction is one), TM88, Mike Will Made It and Harry Fraud are also in the mix. 

Diddy also knows when enough is enough so he limits the mixtape to thirteen tracks with a few interludes. The theme of the project is conceptualized on the intro,Facts, this mixtape is a fictionalization story of a magical hustler who doesn’t take a hard fall at the end like every  real hustler. Money Makin’ Mitch goes happily ever after. This opens the door to endless swagger and guest verses from Travis Scott, Big Sean, Ty Dolla Sign sounds fantastic on You Could Be My Lover, and Future comes through for the title track.

The problem a lot of us are having with MMM is it comes off as a label showcase, a reclaiming of the narrative for Bad Boy as a label….but who is on Bad Boy? French Montana is all over MMM but not in an exciting way he’s the same old French, great hooks and ad libs but not saying much. All the biggest stars on MMM are imports like Ty Dolla Sign, Future, Styles P, and Jadakiss. King Los isn’t on Bad Boy anymore but he definitely shows up, thing is if you didn’t know who Los was before this isn’t going to get you into him. If this is a set up for Puff’s album then it works but what happened to Puff going after talent? Remember when he grabbed hardened street lyricists and polished them into finished stars (Shyne, Biggie, Craig Mack, Black Rob)? I have a list in my head of who would really fit on Bad Boy (1. ASAP ROCKY 2. Action Bronson 3. Troy Ave) but Diddy is throwing energy down the French Montana, Machine Gun Kelly sink hole and that’s his business. I remember when he used to do things we didn’t expect and if he still cares as much as this mixtape makes it seem…he should think about changing directions.

Stream or download MMM below:

http://www.datpiff.com/Puff-Daddy-MMM-mixtape.744958.html

Free Album Review-Fuck The Money by Talib Kweli

Free Album Review-Fuck The Money by Talib Kweli

by Dan-O

At his worst Talib Kweli is still a tremendous talent. He’s just an unlistenable unlikable one. In the very lowest stages of his career you would find him stiff and professorial; determined to teach you how OPEC really works. At his best he is how he is now on his new free release Fuck The Money.

I’m not here to make the case that he’s changed. The case is pretty straight forward; Talib has such a keen eye for talent that he needs that chemistry with people to push him. The right chemistry. Javotti Media has a bunch of artists he’s very happy to work with. If you listen to him on the Combat Jack Podcast describe the strengths of each artist, he does so with passion and vigor the kind not naturally apparent during the Blacksmith start up. Let me use Niko Is as an example. During that interview he called Niko one of the best freestylers he had ever seen and that is very much Niko’s style. He’s loose and relaxed, winding words into a thick soup of sometimes silly yet thoughtful imagery. Not only does Niko show up alongside Kweli and Ab-Soul over an Alchemist beat on The Venetian, anyone who heard Brutus knows that this sounds like a Niko song. One of the best beats on Fuck The Money comes from Thanks Joey, Niko’s primary production partner in crime. The joy and fluidity of Niko’s style(and team) warms and inspires Kweli to go harder and have fun doing it.

I’m not trying to take credit from Kweli here. It’s an amazing listen. Miguel shows up to demolish the hook on Echoes yet our narrator doesn’t see the status difference between Miguel or Kendra Ross who does the hook on Baby Girl. Ab-Soul’s verse is dope on The Venetian (I still think Niko runs that song) but so is Casper Nyovest on Fuck The Money. Part of what makes Kweli special is that when he hears a new artist bubbling over with talent he doesn’t get resentful or jealous, he gets excited. My favorite song is probably He Said She Said where he gives you the trials and tribulations of a new artists journey the rise (“he adored by all them bloggers, they describe him down to his boxers”) and fall (“They celebrate in his self-destruction it makes for excellent copy”) without ever getting a chance to let the music speak. The song shows empathy for the new artists that he’s dealing with. It doesn’t hurt that Farhot crafted a Stakes is High sounding banger of a beat that will destroy your car speakers while making you feel great.

Kweli sounds so damn comfortable. Whether he’s namechecking Niko while he screams crazy talk from the couch (Gratitude) or reuniting with Styles P on Fall Back. The production team does not want any part of laid back neo soul. This music is exciting. The title track is also produced by Farhot and its nasty helping push Kweli into double time splendor. Amadeus produces three tracks including the trap sounding Nice Things which comes off well.

So yes Fuck The Money is partially great because less concept and more joy is better than the other possibilities but…it does have a concept. It’s his evidence for each hip hop head that when you are putting together your own personal hall of fame in your mind, you can’t judge that greatness by awards or sales. If you think Jay is great because of his success you’re missing all useful criteria for judging skill. Kweli really is one of the greats and I’m glad he’s letting people know in a way that best suits him. Hell I knew it that night he played a pool hall round my way and killed it by himself in a leather jacket. He went longer than any hip hop act I had seen at that point and I left thinking he could have gone all night. Some people just have it in their bones and they love the infinity of word choice. Kweli is like that.

Add Fuck The Money to your cart using the link below and go through he check out process. You won’t have to add credit card info since its a free purchase. They will email you the file.
http://kweliclub.com/products/talib-kweli-fuck-the-money-digital

Mixtape Review-Finesse The World by Retchy P

Mixtape Review-Finesse The World by Retchy P

by Dan-O

The easy way to say it is that hip hop needs villains but the statement is incomplete. Hip hop is one of the few genres not just able to readily produce villains but to create albums and mixtapes that speak from the perspective of the villain. In rap the protagonist doesn’t have to be the good guy. The Beatles couldn’t do that.

Retchy P has no compunction about this. It isn’t an act. When A$AP Yams died he took to twitter and didn’t just say he wished it was Wale instead, he tagged him on it. Who does that? Before that he wished it was Flo Rida or Roscoe Dash and added that he was just “thinking out loud.” On Finesse The World P embraces his most unlikeable characteristics, becoming Ice Cube bothering the cute suburban couple at the beginning of Natural Born Killaz. On the first song he negatively namechecks away playing the “this ain’t_” game w/ One Direction, B.O.B, Ariana Grande, Macklemore, and on and on; he says the names with such utter repulsion that it sets the table for a very disturbing listen.

Sometimes it’s disturbing because the beat is pulled from the soundtrack of the few seconds when murder happens in a Hitchcock film (Idk What 2 Tell U) other times the hostility in his voice feels like it’s been saved just for you (Violence). The sex referenced never seems enjoyable just necessary. The drug dealing and violence are the only things that get Retchy P excited. Sure it’s a dark dank perspective that can be analyzed from a ton of different angles as offensive and horrible but that’s exactly what makes it so unique.

The best production award goes to Thelonious Martin who does Dirty Ginger Ale and the mixtapes best song Bad Luck. On Dirty Ginger Ale Martin pulls P out of his minimalist landscape and adds some fuzzy guitars/beat switching that really pushes him. Bad Luck is the power of evil wind chimes and bass drops and P is at his most gloriously hedonistic.

As great as Finesse The World’s highest moments are, it is still an incredibly insular universe. Everyone else around him has so little value that after only twelve tracks we don’t seem to have any more ground to cover. Why talk about women? Retchy P cares nothing of women! Why talk about other rappers, even the ones he likes (Mac Miller) he compares negatively to himself. Other people seem to just be in his way.

After he tagged Wale and wished him death, Wale’s first reaction was to confirm this was indeed his intention (I can understand being thrown off by this situation) but after that Wale responded.

@RetchyP yeah and Id swap U out for a hunnit good men I lost. U wish death on people.. U a different kind of nigga . Enjoy your evening

— Wale Folarin (@Wale) January 24, 2015

Wale’s perspective encapsulates a lot more developed thought process. He’s basically saying DUDE YOUR NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS LOST PEOPLE, WE ALL LOSE PEOPLE, HOW IS THIS HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT? Retchy P does have genuine emotions and chooses to guard them while presenting an impregnable wall but things are way more interesting when you can be the tough guy with no wall. That was Beanie Sigel’s best stuff, Scarface’s best stuff, Styles P, etc. I hope by the next project he’s cracked through to the other side of himself.

stream or download Finesse The World below:

http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/34962/retch-finesse-the-world.html

Song Review-Richer Dad by Sonnie Carson produced by DR Period

Song Review-Richer Dad by Sonnie Carson produced by DR Period

by Dan-O

When I first heard the mixtape Most Likely to Succeed I started telling everyone about it. Carson has an old school NY tough guy DITC feel to his flow even when he’s rapping about normal things. The contrast between the “I took your B_” voice inflection and the domestic responsibilities of fatherhood is what makes this song amazing.

Does it get any better than the line “I’m addicted to money, he’s addicted to pancakes” which has to be one of my favorite lines of the year. This song goes so far beyond simply outlining how much his son means to him. You get to visualize through his words aimless X-box games that end with questions about where they should go for dinner. At one point Sonnie talks about his inability to boil an egg. This is on the same mixtape where Don Cannon yells “My life is like a sandwich!!!! Either way you flip it my bread comes first!” to introduce a track. So yes it’s a fun listen.

I’ve heard a thousand hip hop songs about how much that rapper loves their child or hates the child’s mother; the Cat in The Cradle theme of wishing for more time with said child. Richer Dad isn’t really about any of that, its about making it to the bus stop on time; finding a babysitter. It assumes you already know he loves his son and declares that the song is not about the mother. This is a heavy piano keyed sincere song that appears as track sixteen on a mixtape thick with sneering NY attitude (including production from Buckwild, Best Kept Secret, and the Heatmakerz and blistering features from Vado and Styles P). It’s an overstuffed (5 songs too many) mixtape but what works is always worth putting in the rotation and Richer Dad is one of those smile-on-my-face songs. Not because I’m a father or because I have no idea how to boil an egg but because it’s a dope song.

Song of the Year-Screw Ya’ll by Styles P and Scram Jones

Song of the Year-Screw Ya’ll by Styles P and Scram Jones

by Dan-O

Styles P is someone you always have to listen for. He goes through periods where his beat selection doesn’t quite mesh with his style but he always seems to come back to the best version of himself. Over the course of over fifteen years that’s more than an admirable quality, in rap that’s legendary. Its fitting he calls himself the Ghost, he seems to fade in and out of the spotlight delivering show stealing guest verses and unexpectedly good projects. He dropped a full length album (called Float) with Scram Jones behind the boards and it feels like something from ’04 kept in Pinero’s glove compartment until the right time for release. Yes, Scram Jones does have a verse on this song but it’s not a detriment at all. Scram has been rapping for years and he’s really good (on the producer/rapper scale). Styles makes fluid motion switches from car descriptions to struggling to killing people even when he’s serious “Dance with the devil I bet you pay the price, Couple N’s will die couple will get life, couple N’s change when they get to see the light, couple get a second chance and do the same sh#t twice,” its all conversational hardcore. The track boom-baps while remaining smooth and slick with a chorus that will stick in your brain. If Styles and Scram just kept making songs like this…nobody would complain.