Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Nas's "Hip Hop Is Dead" is quite a stellar collection of hardcore NYC tracks. What I liked about it was that it was typical Nas-gritty urban drama laced with an updated version of the 90s Queensbridge gangsta sound. Its the musings of one of the last men standing in a day and age when rap is dominated by alot of non NYC corny MF's who are making monotonous commercial crap rap.

A review of each track:

Money Over BS- This cut has a nice melodramatic track, though the beat is okay, its got those lyrics about street life values and its a good opener to the album.

You Can't Kill Me-This song has a strong beat, and he's talkin' about hitting a spot, you know, the club, and this kinda reminds me of his "It Was Written" album. Me being a Capricorn, I dug the lyric "Son of a capricorn, my Dad's a Don."

Carry On Tradition-He's talking about this new school of rappers he don't like, but paying tribute to the old school rappers, and the need to take hip hop back to its roots!

Where Are They Now-Roll call of old school rappers to a James Brown (RIP)beat. Dope.

Hip Hop Is Dead-I thought this was the best song; I liked how he used the Iron Butterfly sample (the song is called In A Gadda Da Vida, for all who dont know. Of course this is all over BET, dont know if the radio is liking this though.

Who Killed It?-Sounds like one of those mobster Soprano type songs; I liked the beat at the beginning, kinda reminded me of Rakim's "I Aint No Joke".

Black Republican-Straight up, this was some fire from 2 great rappers of the same era, and its got a hot beat, lyrics and is a good radio type single. Plus the title, though vague (I dont know too many RICH Black Republicans, or Black Republicans known for their wealth), I know what they are getting at.....

Not Going Back-Starts out with a skit about a drive by; kinda chilling that this would be taken so lightly......

Still Dreaming-I like the Kanye beat, and Nas is talking about not being a lazy nigga.......

Hold Down the Block-Another of my personal favorites on the album, its got a hot chorus and a hot beat, and he's talking about, well, holding down the block.....

Blunt Ashes-I dont know why, but this song reminds me of "One Mic", which was good, but this song is so-so.

Let There Be Light-By now, the hip hop and street life thing has worn thin, but I like the chorus of this song and Nas's flow on this one.

Play On Playa-Another song about street life with Snoop Dogg sampling Marvin Gaye. Original....

Can't Forget About You-On this track he samples some song from the 50s, with a basic hip hop beat and something you dont hear to much in hip hop these days, some good ol' DJ scratchin'

Hustlers-Song with the GAME; good to hear them on a track together, but not the greatest.

Hope (Acapella)-gospel sounding ending to album; choir sings "Hip Hop will never die, Hip Hop is forever." Amen to that.

IPOD KEEPERS-Hip Hop Is Dead, Black Republican, Hold Down the Block, Can't Forget About You, Let There Be Light

SONGS I LIKE BUT WONT STAY ON THE IPOD: Money Over BS, You Cant Kill Me, Where Are They Now, Still Dreaming, Play On Playa, Hope (Acapella)

SONGS THAT ARE "ALRIGHT":Carry On Tradition, Who Killed It, Not Going Back, Blunt Ashes, Hustlers


Monday, December 25, 2006

A day of joy, a day of sadness, a moment of silence...

James Brown, the dynamic,pompadoured "Godfather of Soul," whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.


Thanks so much for the greatest music that everybody ever heard.........

Santa Clause, go straight to the ghetto.
Pitch up your reindeer. Uh!
Go straight to the ghetto.
Santa Clause, go straight to the ghetto.

And every stockings you buy,
The kids are gonna love you. So, Uh!

Leave a toy for Johnny.
Leave a dog for Mary.
Leave something pretty for Donnie.
And don't forget about Gary.

Santa Clause, go straight to the ghetto.
Santa Clause, go straight to the ghetto.
Tell him James Brown sent you. Ha!
Go straight to the ghetto.

You know that I know that you will see
Cause' that was once. Me.

Hit it! Hit it!
You see mothers and soul brothers.

Santa Clause, go straight to the ghetto.
Santa Clause, oh lord, go straight to the ghetto.
And every stockings you buy,
The kids are gonna love you.

So, pick up a stocking you find.
You'll know they need you.
So, I'm begging you Santa Clause,
Go straight to the ghetto.

If anyone wanna know,
Tell him James Brown told you.

So, Santa Clause, oo straight to the ghetto.
Never thought I realized, I'll be singing a song
With one of you. My!
Santa Clause, go straight to the ghetto.

Don't leave nothing for me.
I have you . Can't you see?
Santa Clause, go straight to the ghetto.
Santa Clause, the soul brothers need you.

So, Santa Clause, tell him James Brown sent you...


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

DJ Illipse presents Beats and Rappers

DJ Illipse has a hot mix he put together. It's the first mix of East Coast sounds that I have checked out in a long time! Its a great mix with a little for everyone; party jams, lyrical type songs, songs with deep thought provoking lyrics, and some straight up street rap. Check out the playlist. The songs which I have indicated as (HOT!) are my personal favorites;but the whole mix is nice. For more information or to get the CD, holler at DJ Illipse on Myspace....

3V(DJ Illipse blend)-Big L, Jay Z, Obie Trice (HOT!)
Stone and Roberts-Camp Lo(HOT!)
Do It Again-Chaudon and the Away Team
Set It-Classical the Great
The Hustle-Classical the Great
Here We Go-Classified
Cazual Drinking-Classified ft.Tash
Cot' Damn(DJ Illipse blend)-Clipse
Mr Mee Too(DJ Illipse blend)-Clipse
Wamp Wamp (What It Do)-Clipse ft. Slim Thug
Where It Started At-Hi Tek ft. Dion,Jadakiss,Papoose,Talib Kweli,Raekwon
Uncommon Valor;A Vietnam Story-Jedi Mind Tricks ft.RA the Rugged Man (HOT!)
Life of the Party-Little Brother ft.Carlitta Durand (HOT!)
It Hits the Fan-Obie Trice
Prisoner of War-Papoose (HOT!)
On the Grind(Momma Told Me)-Random ft.Ron Damian, Wordsworth
Best Rapper Alive-Royce da 5'9"
Country Cousins-Talib Kweli ft. UGK
Speak On It-Wade Waters ft. AZ
Thank You-Xzibit
Too Much-Zion 1 and the Grouch ft. Chali 2na
Download at these sites: Sendspace, Megaupload, Mediafire

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Check out new music from STEPHEN MARLEY- the son of musical ICON BOB MARLEY!!!
Stephen Marley
Mind Control
Release date: March 30, 2007
Label: Tuff Gong/Universal Records

There's this old black and white photo of Stephen Marley; it's a portrait of the lion as a young man. He's standing against a wall of bamboo rocking short hair and an '80s-style I-Threes t-shirt--puffed up and proud the way only a rebel youth can be. But there's something else in the image--something about the intensity and focus in Stephen's face even as a teen--that shows in an instant that having the last name "Marley" has nothing to do with being the son of a musical icon or an heir to a throne. It does, however, have everything to do with being an individual with a purpose.

Stephen hammers this point home with the release of Mind Control--his highly anticipated solo debut. Music heads have been up on his work for years, whether for collaborations with R&B stars like Erykah Badu or his part on the dancehall burner "It Was Written", and especially after Chant Down Babylon, the platinum-selling star-studded Bob Marley tribute he produced. But Mind Control represents a new stage in Stephen's evolution, one that brings together the genius of his production and his wise and soulful voice with hip-hop beats, smoky bass and winding keyboard runs. This is the sound of a man coming into full realization of his powers--and his legacy.

"It's a blessing to not have to stagger through life. I was born firm and conscious," explains Stephen, who was first heard on record at age six as part of the family's group Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. All the Marley children share the politics and passion of their father, so Stephen needed no introduction when he stepped up to become the de facto musical hub of his father's recordings and the family's various projects around age 18. "It was a special experience but at the same time it was nothing new, because I grew up around it--so I had it," he continues. "But even though I had it, I still had to man it. And even if it's anticipated, it come when it come."

Now the wait is over, and perhaps the most surprising thing about Mind Control is just how rooted in the real world it is. Never content to simply rehash the sounds and themes of the past, Stephen uses the full length of the album to balance his range of ideas as a songwriter, musician and a man. The lead single 'Mind Control" opens the album with a slow-burning groove that builds to a brushfire as it calls out the unseen social forces that still subject us to mental slavery; "Chase Dem" is even more explicit about the effect of political corruption on our lives. Stephen is never dragged under by bitterness, however: "Inna Di Red" is a poetic mystical soul search that escapes the shackles of everyday strife, while the album's title track is a family roll call that shows the unity of the Marley clan in the face of struggle.

Featuring cameos from roots-rock star Ben Harper, hip-hop hero Mos Def and younger brother Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, it's a collection of songs that range from conscious critiques of society ("Mind Control") and politics ("Chase Dem"), to the sweet and open-hearted ("Hey Baby"), to the simple and fun (the sexy, club-rocking, Latin-tinged grinder "Let Her Dance," which features Maya Azucena & Illestr8).

The softer and sweeter side of Stephen is also on full display in the album. A smooth, smart slab of hip-hop featuring a dose of Brooklyn flow courtesy of Mos Def on the album's first single, "Hey Baby," is based on a song Stephen would sing to his children to keep them from being sad while he was on tour with The Melody Makers: "Hey baby/ don't you worry/ even though the road is rocky/ I'll be coming home to you again." The hypnotic "Lonely Avenue," is a sweet, harmony vocal- and organ-soaked take on the Ray Charles classic-done Marley style. "I'm a big fan of Ray," says Marley. "I couldn't tell you the first time I heard him, but I could tell ya what I remember is hearing him and feeling him in pain." Blending modern sounds with classic roots vibes, Mind Control finds Stephen carrying the Marley legacy even further into the future with such samples as the smart piece of the Martina Topley Bird song "Sandpaper Kisses" heard throughout "You're Gonna Leave."

The album includes a trilogy of sorts ("Officer Jimmy Interlude," "The Traffic Jam," featuring Damian, and "Iron Bars," featuring brother Julian Marley, Mr. Cheeks & Spragga Benz) inspired by the few hours that Stephen and Julian spent in a Tallahassee jail in 2002 for marijuana possession: On "Iron Bars"-the song in which he sings "Let me out!/Let me out!/I'm an angry lion!"-Stephen asks himself, "What am I doing here, among the wolves? For some herb? It's like I'm a murderer. Ya know what I mean? Ya make me feel like I'm a murderer, for some herb, where, ya know, it's my culture."

Mind Control "has more magic than 'great songs,'" says Stephen mischievously. "But it has a little magic in it, still." And perhaps more than anything that's the secret to this Marley's auspicious solo debut: the magic created when diverse roots combine in an artist's singular musical vision--when a blistering electric guitar solo slides into a bluesy harmonica riff and Stephen's wails let me out, let me out/I'm an angry lion on "Iron Bars", a collaboration with brother Julian and longtime friend the rapper Mr Cheeks--the only guest artists on the album. With the release of Got Music? that lion is out--and he's roaring.

Listen to:"Traffic Jam" - Stephen Marley ft. Buju Banton and Damian Marley


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Interview with rapper Shakti

Whether you like it or not, hip hop has become a means of communication between people around the world. In this day and age this is important considering how after 9/11 the world became something of a clash of cultures. The problem with American hip hoppers is that they have a tendency to be very close minded about what real hip hop is. Depending on where some cats are coming from, they have a tendency to be very loyal, to think that real hip hop is from NYC, from the South, or from the West Coast. Then when you get into styles or subject matter, it all has to be presented a certain way or else its just considered fake or illegitimate.

What heads have to realize is that there is a big world out there beyond just their "hood" and people are rapping in Spanish, Arabic, French, and the list goes on. They are going beyond talking about hustlin' and ballin', they are talking about the way things are in far off countries. That is why I like Shakti. She is a female rapper from India, and she's hot too! Didn't think that people from India rap? Well, read on with an open mind and realize that hip hop is truly becoming a global movement.

First of all, where are your from, and what city, country or town are you reppin'? My parents are of South Indian decent; they immigrated from India and Singapore and settled in Detroit (Motown) which is my hometown. Just imagine a traditional Indian family living in the hood. I remember playing outside where kids were beat boxin, rapping, and break dancing while at home it was all traditional Indian. When people ask me where I grew up it’s always a long answer because I am very much like a gypsy. Even though I was born in Detroit for the most part I grew up in San Francisco and Chicago. When I was younger I also spent my summers overseas between India & Singapore. I’ve lived in New York for 5 years so now I’m reppin’ “hoods” from all over.

Tell us about yourself.... Shakti stands for feminine energy and power. I draw my energies from so many places and experiences. I’ve been in music since I was six years old. I eat and breath this passion I have for entertaining. I’ve studied a lot of different styles from R&B to classical Indian singing and it’s helped me to differentiate myself from other singers. I belly dance and hip-hop dance and integrate the east and west in all that I do. I’ve been called an innovator and that gift has been ever present in my life. I’ve always wanted to be different from what everyone else was doing and I’m fortunate to have music as my medium of expression to project all that is in me to the public. I have a great family support system with my mom managing me and being there for me since my first note.

What is up with hip hop in India is there a hip hop scene? Hip-Hop has influenced the world! India is definitely included in that hip-hop take over. Who would have ever thought Hip-Hop would be represented in a third world nation. It has reached over mainly through music videos. Music and film is a big deal over there with the “Bollywood” industry. I don’t think many of the Indian youth understand what Hip-Hop really is or how it started other than black folk speaking a crazy kind of English and rapping. They have crazy clubs over there and their own versions of Rap. I remember going to a club in Bombay a while back and they were playing the same records I heard in New York. I think music videos have shown that America has a poor side too and the glorified gangster thing is replicated even in the Indian movies. Much of India is extremely poverty stricken and the same time you have the very rich. Whenever I go over my cousins are always asking me if I get shot at in New York and all of that cause they kind of think it’s the way it is on TV. They also get shows like Oprah and Baywatch over there.

When I think of hip hop in India , I think of the bhangra form of music and Punjabi MC, the artist who did that song with Jay-Z. Is what you do along those lines? My single “Do the Thang Thang” is based on Bhangra which is a folk music style that comes out of Punjab . Punjabi MC is actually a DJ and not an artist. He crossed over from England in the US when they got Jay Z on the track. Some of my material is like that but I am doing the singing. We’re not using samples.

Who are your influences as far as your music goes? My musical influences range from Rakim, John Coltrane, Michael Jackson, Missy Elliott, Mary J, Beyonce, to the music of my own culture, and other styles of world music. I listen to music for different reasons, sometimes for studying other times just for enjoyment. My music is also heavily influenced by my travels. I try to share my life experiences in my songs.

Tell us about your music. What do you sing or rap about? Much of my record started out very sensual and party oriented. Most recently I’ve started writing more about what I was going in my life. I have subjects ranging from a track called “Jealous Bitch” about how woman treat other woman to a song called “Blame” talking about a relationship falling apart. I am primarily a singer. Every now and then I will rap in my language for fun. The rhythms in Indian music are really hot and the sounds or so distinct. So many producers like Timbaland have copped a great deal from Indian music. From Missy, to 50 cent, and lil Kim, its crazy how many Indian samples are being used in songs. There just hasn’t been an Indian artist out in the US that is from the US yet. That is where my project comes in.

What is the audience you are trying to appeal to with your music? I want to reach as many people as possible with my sound. My culture has not been represented in Americaand there are so many of us growing up over here. I definitely have strong a strong Asian support base and the urban audiences that I have been performing for have also been very supportive. People started calling me the Indian J-Lo in Europe and I think it was because she has her Latino roots but she is also “Just Jenny from the Bronx Block”! Musically I am like Mississippi Masala.

Where would you say most of your fans are, or where are you most popular? My campaign has been geared online and there are people from all over responding to the project from Italy to India to Australia . I’m on myspace and have over 100000 views. People have been reaching out to me showing a lot of love. My music has been released in several countries on different labels like Sony Australia , and Avex in Japan. What I am doing is international. The label I am working with has a focus that is world wide and not just in the states.(Global Soul Entertainment) You can hear some of my songs on a lot of mixtapes floating around. I am so fortunate to have the support of some of the hottest DJ’s.

How do people in India respond to what you are doing? The response is always incredible I usually perform there for audiences of 7-10 thousand. Fans screaming at my shows help create a lot of energy in the performance. It’s nothing in the world like giving all of yourself to a crowd and feeling it back from them. My single just came out on a compilation album over there. I’m planning to shoot the video in September. I am really excited about everything because the kids over there are able to relate to me and yet I’m still an American Desigirl.

A lot is going on in your region of the world, what with the recent bombings in India. Do you touch on that whole situation? Me and my producer “Bellringer” went over to record in India for four months and while we were there a bombing happened on a bus not far from where we were. We got calls from people back home checking to make sure we were ok, and the tripped out thing is that the people over there were telling us “oh that’s nothing it was just a small bomb!” It’s sad that wars are happening and the twisted politics behind them. It’s sad that innocent people die. My uncle rides that train that was bombed in Bombay every day. It’s a blessing he wasn’t on when the bomb hit. He just happened to have left work an hour earlier! My other family couldn’t get home that night because the trains shut down. In America you don’t hear everything that’s going on in the world. We have all this technology and advancement yet people still find reasons to kill. There is nothing sexy about blood shed. I have seen it on the streets, people getting their throat cut or shot. Music is a vehicle for change and I’m using all that I have within me to bring light and love and try to make a difference. Life is short and I take nothing for granted. (Note: The bombings referred to in this question took place in July 2006)

I'm very open minded and I will like your music, but for all the hip hop heads who are very selective and picky about their music, what would you say is the best thing about your music they will like? Take a chance on something different…you might like it…When something is real it’s real. Whatever I am doing is the truth and its coming straight from my heart and that’s what is at the core of Real Hip-Hop. I’m Indian over Hip-hop beats. It’s like putting hot sause on some mac and cheese.

Those are all my questions. Anything else you would like to tell the people? Any shout outs? The music industry is a hard game and there are so many artists hustling doing their thing. It’s important that these artists get a chance to get heard if they are hot they are hot. You can pay for plays and buy fame but no money in the world can buy genuine talent. I have been involved with the music industry since I was a little kid. It moves me when people support what I am doing and it makes the hustle worth it. Thanks Hip-Hop Politics for letting me share myself with you! Hope to see you at a show in your city or hit me online at www.shaktionline.com or www.myspace.com/shaktionline.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Exploring crack rap in hip-hop

COCAINE AND HIP-HOP share a long history but over the last few years, there's been a surge in coke-themed songs and artists — aka crack rap.

The roots of this fad date back to 2002, with the critical and commercial success of both Scarface's "The Fix" and especially the Clipse's "Lord Willin'." While Scarface spoke mostly on the necessary evils of drug dealing, the Clipse's Pusha T and Malice gleefully glorified hustling as the way into wealth rather than path out of poverty. Their songs were cartoonishly outrageous, even by Tony Montana-standards, as they co-opted children's rhymes into coke boasts and dropped punchlines about yayo-smuggling grandmothers.

Four years later and the genre shows little sign of decline. E-40 started off 2006 with his ode to blow, "White Gurl." Then a parade of mixtapes like Juelz Santana and Lil Wayne's "I Can't Feel My Face" kept things frosty until the last few weeks where Jay-Z's "Kingdom Come," the Clipse's "Hell Hath No Fury" and Young Jeezy's upcoming "Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102" promise that talk of snow this winter won't necessarily be about the weather.

Check out the rest on Inside Bay Area