Tag Archives: west coast hip hop

Song of The Year-College Girls by P-Lo featuring Skizzy Mars

Song of The Year-College Girls by P-Lo featuring Skizzy Mars

By Dan-O

People who love fun hip pop music were a little let down by Lil Yachty’s debut album Teenage Emotions which turned out to be oppressively long and confusingly muddled with several elements that don’t serve Yachty well. If you are looking for the album to fill what Yachty was supposed to achieve P-Lo has done it with his new album More Than Anything.

It’s not fair to compare Yachty to P-Lo because the latter is a veteran who has worked closely with IAMSU for years and helped build the ratchet sound. P-Lo produces his own music as well as handing out bangers to other people. He knows exactly what works about his sound and builds on it without straying from it.

College Girls is the best example of P-Lo cracking the code on an earwig hit. The autotune isn’t overwhelming; the content is playfully sexual but not insulting. The baseline is amazing. Neither Yachty nor P-Lo are the world’s best MC but both have the ability to give the listener what they want, I vote for More Than Anything not just because it is six songs shorter but it is a tight shot group of the fun P-Lo knows I want to have. All the guests are in the right places.  He’s been around too long to worry about proving anything. For P-Lo every song needs to win and as a listener I appreciate that.

Kendrick to Ice Cube: Damn is the Death Certificate of his catalog

Kendrick to Ice Cube: Damn is the Death Certificate of his catalog

by Dan-O

It is very well established that To Pimp A Butterfly has a direct connection to Tupac’s Me Against The World.  If you don’t believe it go to https://freemusicempire.com/2016/06/09/nihilism-in-rap-music-2pac-shakur-me-against-the-world/ and do the full podcast run. I think Kendrick has a different base point this time that accomplishes a very different thing.

Before Death Certificate Ice Cube was definitely respected, his first solo album Amerikkka’s Most Wanted is one of the best rap albums ever released with wonderful production from the bomb squad but his follow up is more in every way. In 1991 we didn’t have a real understanding of the concept album in hip hop. Death Certificate gives a template that you can still follow.

First step: Start with scorched earth

Both Damn and Death Certificate start with a brief intro into a scorched earth don’t F_ with me song.  The scorched earth first song gives the emcee absolute command and leaves the audience wide eyed and patiently awaiting more. Some of the old classical composers used to write massive swells into their symphony’s to wake up anyone in the audience sleeping. This method is very similar. Cube starts by yelling “GOD DAMN! It’s a brand new payback!” He shouts half of the first verse to make sure you are dialed in.

Mike Will Made It laces a world rattling bassline and Kendrick is off to the races daring us to catch up. With a minute and seven seconds left in DNA we hear Geraldo spewing his evil nonsense and then Kendrick is back spitting in response while the sample scratches. This switch is to let you know that while Kendrick lives in a very confusing world where he is used as a political football, etc he will never be drowned out by it. Same reason Ice Cube called his first song The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit.

Ice Cube-Wrong Nigga To Fuck Wit

Kendrick Lamar-DNA

Second Step: Takedown

Ice Cube tried to be nice on Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.  He didn’t spend a second on N.W.A.  After Niggaz4Life (where N.W.A. feverishly threw shots left, right and center) Cube had no choice and took command of the music industry for the next five years with the most unforgiving diss premise of all time. On No Vaseline he is saying you are being raped without lubricant and I am not.

If Kendrick had a No Vaseline moment it was probably that Control verse. He did bring that back in the lead up to this album, The Heart Part 4 with the second verse “My fans can’t wait for me to son ya punk ass and crush ya whole lil shit. I’ll Big Pun ya punk-ass, you scared lil’ bitch. Tiptoein’ around my name, nigga, you lame and when I get at you, homie. Don’t you just tell me you was just playin'” Kendrick doesn’t think of the rap world as full of people individually important enough to diss. He has his reasons.

Ice Cube-No Vaseline

Kendrick Lamar-The Heart Part 4

Kendrick Lamar-Control

Third Step: Vision

Ice Cube was consumed with correcting the perception of blackness. His second verse on True To The Game is absolutely the father of a lot of discussion on DAMN.

“When you first start rhyming It started off slow and then you start climbing But it wasn’t fast enough I guess So you gave your other style a test You was hardcore hip-hop Now look at yourself, boy you done flip-flopped Giving our music away to the mainstream Don’t you know they ain’t down with the team They just sent they boss over Put a bug in your ear and now you crossed over On MTV but they don’t care They’ll have a new nigga next year You out in the cold No more white fans and no more soul And you might have a heart attack When you find out the black folks don’t want you back And you know what’s worse? You was just like the nigga in the first verse Stop selling out your race And wipe that stupid-ass smile off your face Niggas always gotta show they teeth Now I’m a be brief Be true to the game”

1991 Ice Cube wanted to be in control of every aspect of his presentation and was very frustrated by people who just didn’t have the determination to shoulder that responsibility. Kendrick talks about this on verse 2 of Feel “I feel like debating on who the greatest can stop it. I am legend, I feel like all of y’all is peasants. I feel like all of y’all is desperate.” The lesson to learn from DAMN is the one rap learned from Cube in 1991. The best rapper is not that because of pure mic skill. The best rapper in the world has command and vision. The best rapper gives you vulnerable personal experiences like Cube on Doing Dumb Shit and Kendrick on Duckworth.  Political messages might be overt or laced inside the songs but the total concept and vision will be challenging even if it offends you sometimes. The best rapper brings his own sound to the table (Sir Jinx for Cube, Sounwave for Kendrick).

Ice Cube-True To The Game

Kendrick Lamar-Feel

Way Too In-Depth Song Review-I Had It In A Drought by E-40 featuring Stresmatic produced by ProHoeZak

Way Too In-Depth Song Review-I Had It In A Drought by E-40 featuring Stresmatic produced by ProHoeZak

by Dan-O

Art is not a measurement of the works distance from perfection. It is instead an engagement with personality, one built brick by brick by vivid slices of perception. This is one of the reasons everyone has been so torn on E-40 when no debate should be needed.  The hip hop community goes nuts for success… well try on perpetual independence, liquors and other entrepreneurial ventures, as well as twenty four studio albums (Platinum and gold plaques along the way). Those narrow minded evaluators who only look at art through perfections sake…still can’t let the numbers validate 40.

Some of this is the pure oddity of his vocals. On his lengthy projects he throws it all over the place, doing voices and bowing up into a choked whine when he needs to. Some still see machismo in the unbending constancy of monotone. To someone raised on the cold NY accent the first listen of E-40 must sound like a rapping Looney Tunes character.

The bigger issue is the notion of careful perfection. 40 just dropped two more albums (The D-Boy Diary) and they are 22 songs each 44 total. It is a big mess of music with lots of guests and different producers.  For the peripheral fan always hunting for the “new classic” this is madness. It doesn’t feel carefully curated (although, how would you know?).  This is why I wanted to make a long form defense of the Vallejo giant.

What I love about The D-Boy Diary is that it is better than last year’s Sharp On All 4 Corners. The beats are super exciting but get really weird (much more piano than previously) all the while our narrator is never out of his depth. The weirder it gets the harder he plunges into it. On my favorite song, I Had It In A Drought he starts the third verse cursing out rappers for wearing make-up and suggesting they cut off their crotch and as you reel from the shock of such a proposal, he is already weaving another tale about when he first met his wife “I met this gorgeous broad…she was cute…she played the clarinet at the band revue )” and eventually winds the story up with “realest N_ in it thought I told you, Hella years later and I’m still with my girl from high school.” This isn’t a clear story song. It isn’t dizzying or strategic or full of cool name drops of people you know. It’s a soup of lascivious brags and drug talk, societal concerns, and wistful neighborhood recollections.   By the end of the song you can’t help but be struck by how utterly loving that piece for his wife is. He doesn’t call her an angel or use contrived sentiment. He brags about his specific loyalty to her just like he does his connect.  E-40 observes all 360 degrees of loyalty and it connects.

I don’t celebrate 40 because he was real friends with Pac or the pure impressive longevity. Lots of people are still around who checked out. The D-Boy Diary is a tangible improvement on what he has been building and that is undeniably the goal, continual progression. A lot of people are just mad that their favorite safe rapper stopped challenging himself and their least favorite rapper, the one with the weird voice, just kept getting better.  Now he has new dope music and the accepted savior of yester-year is gone.

Purchasable Mixtape review-Thirst 48 p. 2 by Boogie

Purchasable Mixtape review-Thirst 48 p. 2 by Boogie

by Dan-O

In a Billboard interview about his new project Boogie was asked,

Q:Is “Two Days” about her, too?

A: Yeah, definitely. Every relationship song on that ‘tape is about her.

By her, he means Jamesha a very specific person he has an on and off relationship with and Thirst 48 p.2 is a vividly unique journey because it covers that turmoil in depth with blame distributed much more equitably than we are used to rappers giving us.

I’m not sure if anyone else does this but whenever I hear a rapper proclaim that they never have sex with a woman more than once I suck my teeth. C’mon. Not only is that a farce and we all know you have feelings and need relationships like we all do…it’s a boring story to tell. I would much rather feel for characters that make rational decisions. Never having any relationship of any depth is not a rational decision.

Thirst 48 P.2 is about Jamesha and while it gives you the frustration of dealing with one another in the immaculately constructed Two Days and the stewing paranoia of Real One he goes just as hard on Prideful and the closer Best Friend (Jamesha pt.2) to illustrate how grateful he is for her. Boogie takes his time painting parts of the picture on each song.

The cool thing about it is Thirst 48 P.2 is not an overly intense listening experience. It is very fun hearing Mozzy and Dj Quik just blow on Fuck ‘Em All or rocking out with the ice-in-my-veins playa anthem Just Might. Whenever the day is sunnier or brighter than anticipated you can put on Sunroof and listen to Dana Williams weave her voice into Boogie’s on the projects best hook (TQ would approve).  Amongst all this Boogie raps his @$$ off! On Sunroof for example “I got your intention now it’s my intention to take all that tension and sh_t not to mention…” it feeds right into the hook. While making sure his hooks and melodies are on point he never fails to craft his verses in challenging ways with real content.

The cool thing about it is Thirst 48 P.2 is not an overly intense listening experience. It is very fun hearing Mozzy and Dj Quik just blow on Fuck ‘Em All or rocking out with the ice-in-my-veins playa anthem Just Might. Whenever the day is sunnier or brighter than people anticipated you can put on Sunroof and listen to Dana Williams weave her voice into Boogie’s on the projects best hook (TQ would applaud).  Amongst all this Boogie raps his @$$ off! On Sunroof for example “I got your intention now it’s my intention to take all that tension and sh_t not to mention…” it feeds right into the hook. While making sure his hooks and melodies are on point he never fails to craft his verses in challenging ways with real content.

Thirst 48 P.2 is much closer to how a real relationship feels than most albums that have attempted this (I love Twenty88 so I’m not talking about that) because it travels in all the places a relationship takes you. On Just Might or Slide on You he gets scummy, on Two Days he laments erased comments, unfollowing on social media, and text lag time in a way we all understand. The outwardly appreciative songs don’t do a better job of showing how much he cares about Jamesha than the angry ones. No one gets this out of sorts about someone unless they mean a lot. It’s all connected and the production from Swiff D, C. Ballin and Keyel keeps the project totally entrenched in post-TDE West Coast sonics where each note strikes and holds for a second before leaving, while Boogie keeps things loose smart and heartfelt. Listen to Thirst 48 pt. 2.

Stream and purchase below:

https://spinrilla.com/mixtapes/boogie-thirst-48-pt-2

 

Mixtape Review-AD & Sorry Jaynari-By The Way

Mixtape Review-AD & Sorry Jaynari-By The Way

by Dan-O

Energy creates energy.

No matter how popular the grim and gritty brooding album is (for showing the wounded humanity of its narrator) to a fan base desperate to connect with dark secrets; it lives that way in contrast to energy projects and it will always need energy to contrast against.

AD is that dude. The first song on his mixtape By The Way has the perfect title-Boom. Boom is exactly what happens when AD jumps onto a song(see E-40’s new AD assisted single On One for more evidence), we are talking about Petey Pablo level energy but laced with determined frustration “…knew that I was destined, knew I wouldn’t be stressin’, knew I was that n_ studio nights at the Westin. N_ slept on me for years but I took that sh_ as a blessing,  no weapon shall form against me, my dreams now manifestin’.(Boom)”  None of his verses are fluff in any way shape or form.

The production is handled by Sorry Jaynari of League of Starz. League of Starz are really the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League of ratchet, keeping the excitement (finger snaps, mean bass lines) but it’s cleaner and more polished than anyone else can make it. Sorry Jaynari carries that tradition forward; no beat has a millisecond that doesn’t make sense.

G Perico, YG, E-40, Nef The Pharoah, OT Genasis, Freddie Gibbs, Mozzy, Ty Dolla Sign, IamSu, and K. Camp all show up and feel perfectly welcome amongst the clean exclamation point west coast thump. My favorite song is up for grabs, it could be Strapped which features a classic West Coast hook and old time Dj Quik groove that G Perico sounds perfect on. AD swings into the track with more swagger than shouting and it all fits perfectly.  Tap In could be the best because E-40 lays a MONSTROUS  hall of fame guest verse and Nef The Pharoah oozes all over the song with his exceptional crazy talk.

If you were never into the West Coast sound this project is not going to change your mind. The great thing about By The Way is that if you ever did love that sound, you’ll recognize it here but you’ll also recognize that it has changed. These aren’t hyphy songs overloaded to the point of madness; if you listen to the title track you’ll hear…the song is actually pretty sparse for something this hype. It surges forward because AD is a master of ceremony in the entertainer sense; he whips the song into a frenzy while Sorry Jaynari keeps the ship steady so it doesn’t exhaust you as a listener. The combination of unique talents working to highlight opposing strengths gives the project a real identity and listenability; By The Way is another example of the strength and depth of the West right now. AD could have an amazing future but so could any number of the guests on the project who are young lions with their own dope projects out (Ty Dolla Sign, Nef The Pharoah, Mozzy, G Perico) and that is just a sliver of all the talent bubbling.

Energy creates energy.

Stream or Download By The Way now:

http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/ad-and-sorry-jaynari-by-the-way-new-mixtape.116410.html

Song of The Year-Super Crip by Snoop Dogg produced by Just Blaze

Song of The Year-Super Crip by Snoop Dogg produced by Just Blaze

by Dan-O

I’m not going to waste any time trying to convince you that Snoop Dogg’s new album Coolaid is remarkable and one of the best albums of 2016. If you’re reading this it’s likely that your image of Snoop is very close to Flavor Flav and just can’t be changed. I grew up under him. My Dad came in my room and warned me to never mention Snoop to my mother. She saw the news and he was the most dangerous rapper alive. Dangerous like the Stones had been for him. Snoop Dogg cds had been steamrolled and he was officially every parent’s nightmare. The warning was too late.

He taught me who Slick Rick was along with the dangers of violence. So his wacky BS goofy albums (looking at you Bush) actually make me angry while younger generations chuckle at silly ol’ Uncle Snoop. Who do you think wrote The Chronic?! That mind is still in there underneath that profitable persona. Coolaid is the return of that Snoop I love, the Top Dogg Snoop, the Blue Carpet Treatment Snoop where funny business is at a minimum.

On Super Crip he’s focused. Just Blaze served him the sharpest, cleanest, samurai sword of a West Coast banger and he reasserts himself “creepin’ through the fog and steppin’ through the smog” to do what Raekwon did with Cuban Linx 2; go out the way you came in; at your best.

The real exciting thing about this song is it upholds my hypothesis that Just Blaze is having the best 2016 of any producer. He’s not oversaturated by any means but he hasn’t been playing the background either. Freedom from Beyonce’s Lemonade (featuring Kendrick Lamar) is one of the years five most important beats (songs probably) and while Snoop’s Coolaid enlists a powerhouse cast of producers that includes Timbaland, Jazze Pha, Swizz Beatz, Daz Dillinger, J Dilla, Cardo, Notz no one gives Snoop a better beat. Super Crip is a gorgeous listen and much credit goes to Snoop for waking up from his giggly pimp cup stupor but it was probably the beat that woke him.

 

Audio Push and the soft resurgence of Native Tongues cool consciousness

Audio Push and the soft resurgence of Native Tongues cool consciousness

by Dan-O

Hip hop is waves and counter-waves; it survives because every successful movement is so hated by another portion of the culture that its opposition immediately garners prominence as a counter point. You could make the argument that all sub-genres are little traps. Even being known as the great creator of an interesting new one eventually leaves you as the relic of an old one.

Audio Push has been making steps in their current direction for a while. Last year’s project The Good Vibe Tribe was definitely a move into a Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do direction and the just released Inside The Vibe is a total embrace of intelligent adaptability. My favorite song on it is Don’t Sweat It where the imagery starts with watching The Preachers Wife and kicking back but immediately shifts to health problems/bills/government surveillance but returns to relaxation in the chorus. This song actually includes the line “Showed my girl I’m human and now she hates me…” Oktane and Price do a brilliant job of contrasting a laundry list of concerns against a spiritual need to take the air out of the tension.

What helps is that of the nine songs the production list is Hazebanga-1 song Coryayo-8 songs and that’s it. It has a minimalist consistency and bass heavy richness that provides a stable wave to ride. If you’ve heard Anderson.Paak’s Malibu album you know my surfing metaphor isn’t silly. Just because Audio Push wants to address racial stereotypes (on Brown Man Syndrome) that doesn’t mean they want to shout it angrily. But just because they are laughing during a song about race doesn’t mean they are clowning. Every verse on Inside The Vibe contains elasticity or like Bruce Lee said “Be like water” able to shift forms to fit wherever you want to go.

I was playing their wonderful homage to 2pac’s Picture Me Rollin’ (Picture Me) for my wife and the chorus includes “Picture Me inviting your girl to come with me to the top to share my light with the world…” and I turned to her relieved “They’re going to take my girl but at least they will take good care of her.” Most rappers threatening to take your girl want to use her like drive-thru food, a lot of the expected scenarios you hear on rap albums fall away in the Audio Push vibe.

The mixtape starts with an interlude (that leads into Come Alive) where a man is getting in a woman’s car and she warns him “One more thing, my car my music…none of that trendy $*#!.” The line repeats into infinity as the heart and soul of what Inside The Vibe means. This is a project for an intelligent audience that doesn’t want a refill of what the top tier is already providing. This is Heiroglyphics dedication to rapping mixed with De La Souls sense of fun and Tribe’s tireless dedication to the vibe.

A lot of young hip hop artists are trying to move between the marketing terminology, not to be trapped in Trap or restricted to Ratchet; which makes sense, all the best transcended sub-genres; even the ones they created. I hope Chance The Rapper and Noname Gypsy are listening to Inside The Vibe. I want this to be Birth of The Cool for mixtapes in 2016, but I’m always pushing best case scenario.

Stream or download Inside The Vibe below:

http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/38183/audio-push-inside-the-vibe.html

Audio Push cover