Song of The Year-Recognize by Bun-B featuring TI & Big K.R.I.T. produced by Big K.R.I.T.
I’ve made the argument that the pop sphere is larger than it has ever been due to the ability to find anything. The gatekeeper role of radio and upper level music executives isn’t anywhere near as important…but I’m willing to make the opposite argument now. I think it is possible that due to trending patterns on social media we have less pop music than we ever have before. What happens is a new album drops (maybe its Eminem maybe its Nicki Minaj) it is just the largest name that week and that album gets blogged about and all caps shouted at by the whole world. So that giant internet information space turns out to be a giant garage with one car parked in it.
So while people were coming up to me saying “What do you think about this Eminem?!” I was shrugging and asking them if they had heard Bun-B’s new album Return of The Trill to blank stares. Firstly, I thought all the hip kids were pro-UGK now…shouldn’t we be supporting? Second, all the criticisms of Eminem’s Kamikaze are resolved within Return of The Trill. Bun asserts himself without discounting the younger generation.
Production wise Bun linked with his greatest musical partner post-Pimp, Big K.R.I.T. The Mississippi mastermind produces half of the fourteen songs on Return of The Trill. In movies, TV, books whenever the South is portrayed it is either an authentic take or reeks of artificiality. You can tell when you press play if no one involved in making it actually knows or cares about the South. K.R.I.T. makes beats that are deeply southern with gospel flair (see Traphandz) and the same kind of speaker shaking movement peak UGK brought to the speaker.
These beats fit Bun like the perfect coat. On his best lyrical performance (Recognize) he steps up to the microphone and says “My wordplay is intricate influence significant motherf**kin’ magnificence and my influence is integral charismatic and sensual f**king up your centrifugal. With trill pumping all through my ventricles gladiators and sentinals peep you through the peripherals. I see you p**sy n___as out the optical catch yo ass when its optimal…” The song is one of the year’s best moments and while the album might get a firm friendly handshake critically it won’t get to be POP and you can justify that in lots of ways. You could say that pop music should be this or that and Bun doesn’t fit those parameters. Whatever. Return of The Trill isn’t the best album of the year but it’s better than the junk we spend so much time yapping about.
After you watch the video up top check out Bun breaking down the bars
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Tagged Big K.R.I.T., Bun-B, Eminem, hip hop, Kamikaze, Nicki Minaj, pop music, Return of The Trill, Texas hip hop, TI, trending, UGK, underground hip hop
EP Review-Coming Home To Texas by Leon Bridges and Mick
The most exciting thing about the Mick Boogie Leon Bridges Texas remake of Bridges album Come Home (now Coming Home To Texas) is that it proves how wonderfully durable this set of songs are. Bridges is wearing the revivalist tag and I’m not sure whether this project was his strike against that notion or hip hop’s.
Mick does an excellent job of lacing classic Texas hip hop beats behind Bridges, behind being a key descriptor. You always hear the clean crisp delivery of every word Leon says, you just also get a knocking beat and some guest verses behind it. Boy, are these guest verses interesting! Chi Duly produces the first two tracks, the album title track and the Bun-B assisted Better Man. Bun kicks off Better Man as the first voice with a blackout verse. I’m not sure if Mick found it in some unreleased gem bin or got a new verse. Either way Bun always makes it clear that he is more of a genius than you can understand. Chi Duly nails the thickness of each beat and these new versions don’t seem to impede on the original versions at all. They are welcome alternate versions.
The other important guest verse is Slim Thug on a bass blown Hasan Insane version of Brown Skin Girl. It’s got the perfect super slow slither that Thugga loves to move at. Slim Thug’s verse aligns with the theme of brown skinned girls so it seems new and when you think about all these talented producers(Donnie Houston, TedyP, Jett I. Masstyr, Chris Rockaway, Chi Duly, and Hasan Insane) and rappers(Slim Thug, Bun B) coming together to remake someone else’s album that project has to carry some weight.
Come Home won’t win anyone’s album of the year. That title is more political than most places will admit: one part music, one part drama, one part “what is everyone else saying is great?” Hip hop came together with Bridges because while the critical arm of the industry supports hip hop and R&B they have never supported Soul. You don’t read loving anniversary posts for The Stylistics debut album or The Chi-Lites albums from worst to best. Almost every important rapper and producer you can think of listens to that stuff CONSTANTLY. When Come Home came out a lot of hip hop heads breathed a sigh of relief….ahhhh here is an album I’ll be able to listen to for years and years. Coming Home to Texas and the last song (River) especially will link Soul and the hip hop you love in a way you may not realize was there.
Stream or download Coming Home To Texas below:
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Tagged 2015 albums, 2015 mixtapes, album of the year, Bun-B, Come Home, Coming Home To Texas, DJ Booth, Leon Bridges, Mick, Mick Boogie, Slim Thug, Texas hip hop
Mixtape Review-Underground Cassette Tape Music by Gangsta Boo & Beatking
In no uncertain terms, Underground Cassette Tape Music is the best singular Southern Hip Hop mixtape of 2014. That’s a pretty high compliment in a year full of energized weirdo Southern bounce. The first track Come Off Dat begins with a first rapped verse from Gangsta Boo “Bloody bodies in the yard, like the zombie apocalypse. The walking dead I’m so so scared and I don’t know how to get up out this B#$%.” I’m so glad she started the tape with the image of zombies. The whole project carries the intensity and violence of Memphis rap (that Three 6 Mafia played a large part in popularizing) and the drugged lethargic Screwston sound. The combination is a bit like the old school zombies: strong, scary and hung over feeling. That track and the next one (Ain’t Shit Changed) are produced by one of my favorite Texas commodities Stunt N Dozier. He does a great job of creating a gear between Three 6 style crunk and Houston rider music.
It’s such a great collaboration because the songs aren’t haunted by any cheap competitive BS. Beatking never feels like he’s constructing verses to top Gangsta Boo (he has some great disgusting punch lines however). He respects her position as a lion of this genre. Beatking also produces at a very high level: Paper Chase is trunk rattler so rewarding that he stops in the middle of his verse to declare “B#$% I know this sample mean!” If Beatkings production has a signature it’s his repurposing of classic southern beats like Roll Hard and Like A Pimp 2015. The usage of beats everyone should recognize, tributes to Lord Infamous and Pimp C, and guest features from Paul Wall Lil Flip and 8 Ball make this a crash course on Southern hip hop; If you’ve never liked it before you could play Underground Cassette Tape Music and know a lot.
If every good mixtape has a song you want to hear again and again this one has 13 of them (2 interludes). Gangsta Boo once described herself as an actress that usually gets horror roles to play and that’s an important part of understanding her. She’s never making these songs so you can believe every word. She makes a very unique form of music that includes tracks like Dirty Hoe where she’s the most disturbingly vulgar element of the song starting it by saying “Give that B##%%^ some X you might be in luck. Say she don’t want no sex dirty hoe just wanna suck. She go f*&k all her boys then go home to her man she a dirty hoe and she do not give a damn!” Having a woman captain a song like this doesn’t make it less sexist but it certainly adds a dimension to it. But Boo is more than an important female emcee she’s a dope artist and probably a mixtape hall of famer at this point.
If you need evidence that she can pull off songs others can’t just listen to Slab Crusher where Gangsta Boo spits over a Pimp C sampled chorus and gets a verbal co-sign from the godfather of Memphis, 8 Ball. While flossing in the verse she’s still sending shout outs to people in prison and lauding street code and loyalty. On Mashing Boo drops her best verses talking about missing her home on tour and people ripping off her style on their records while going to her shows. It’s great that this pairing worked. You can feel the respect they have for each other and the only feeling that surpasses it is the feeling of immense confidence they have in what their doing.
Stream or download Underground Cassette Tape Music below:
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Tagged 8 Ball, Beatking, Gangsta Boo, Lil Flip, Memphis Hip Hop, mixtape review, Paul Wall, Southern Hip Hop, Stunt N Dozier, Texas hip hop, Underground Cassette Tape Music, zombies
Killa Kyleon-Lean on Me: The Adventures of Joe Clark
As active as my imagination is its still hard for me to envision a situation where Killa Kyleon would apologize for a lyric. His music exists within such strict street code that every recommended course of action feels lived within. That’s part of what makes the liberal use of the 1989 Morgan Freeman movie Lean on Me make so much sense.
Throughout that film Freeman brings a no-nonsense disciplined approach to learning and succeeding into a dank hopeless juvenile wasteland. This is how Killa see’s the rap landscape and his approach is noticeable different. While Lil Wayne might make fun of vagina’s and Emmit Till at the same time, Killa makes his civil rights references in the strictest most positive way for all compared “Mama birthed a King like Coretta did, daddy raised a King like Coretta’s kids. So I’m a King like Corretta is just minus the crown but I’m a G like that letter is (Lean on Me).”
I remember a Killer Mike interview where he said Bun B is the Rakim of the South and Pimp C was Kool G Rap. If you follow this comparison down the line you could make Kyleon into the Texas Styles P, relentlessly hardcore but never overstepping into shocking the listener with things he doesn’t believe.
While the movie comparison point works well for him the sprawling purple drug abuse that gets shouted out over the soulful redistricting of Bill Withers Lean on Me is off putting. Shouting out pioneers and heroes like Pimp and DJ Screw who were killed by lean and then shouting out lean itself feels powerfully unpleasant to people like me who lived through those deaths and the huge holes left by them.
Luckily the music is awesome. Its only nine tracks with absolutely nothing you can live without. Trakksounds and June James do an excellent job pushing a burly sound through your speakers that rightly suits Kyleon’s announcement flow. Lean on Me does a great job of operating between soulful smashing songs like the title track (or Batman!) and cool riding music like Cadillac. Mouse on Tha Track(who is often a rap collaborator w/ Killa) provides a smooth burbling soundscape for Killa to preach candy paint, chrome, and rims over. The Kyleon strict dedication can be seen in the track list with song titles like My N#$%@’s, My City, and No Vacation it’s easy to see Killa putting on for his city, his family and himself with a blacksmith’s dedication at pounding beats into finished product.
The problem with that last image is that this tape is so darn fun. Batman is such a fantastic song with Wonder Woman, Thor, Hulk and Human Torch references (“Wolverine, cutting up I think I’m Logan”). Batman rules in large part due to Mr. Lee who produced it with car stereo destruction in mind. The beat sounds like Godzilla running. What Lean on Me isn’t makes it so much better. It isn’t long enough to have clunker freestyles or throw away tracks, it’s a condensed testament to how commanding Killa Kyleon is over his music and how criminally overlooked he is. The only time in hip hop we complain about someone being underexposed is when we are consistently impressed by that artist. That description fits the afterglow of Lean on Me like a glove.
Stream or Download Lean on Me below: