31 August 2012

Advice with Steph Bmore: Am I A Booty Call?

Once again it's Friday and it's ON!!
Sorry I missed last Friday, but work called. Anyway VLOG style this week so peep the video below. Like it, comment, share YOUR advice, and if you have questions, please feel free to email me. All the info is below.

Happy Friday.
Enjoy the Holiday Weekend.
Don't drink and drive!

Twitter: www.twitter.com/StephBMore
Want Advice: email me at flyspacequeen (at) gmail.com

Every Friday! Sometimes written, sometimes vlogged. Always awesome.
P.S. "Quick and Dirty" means one run through, no edits, no outtakes. Just straight up how it's done.

29 August 2012

Review: The Idea of Beautiful

Culture over everything.
This is Rapsody's (Marlanna Evans) maxim which is heard throughout her music. As Jamla's (9th Wonder's independent record label) first lady, she has had the fortune to be a part of a team that shares that sentiment. Under Jamla Records she has dropped 3 critically acclaimed mixtapes (Return of the B-Girl, Thank H.E.R. Now, and For Everything), and we can finally add an LP to her discography. Off the break we can expect to hear superb production from 9th Wonder and his army of in-house producers (The Soul Council). Rapsody has taken advantage of her situation by learning and elevating her lyrical skills with each tape. From beginning to end The Idea of Beautiful is a welcome departure from over-produced albums with pedestrian lyrical content. Here are a few stand out tracks (but do yourself a favor and run the whole album at least once).

Believe Me has been in rotation for a little bit now (even has a video). This 9th produced track is also accompanied by a remix which is just as good as the original. Ms.Evans takes this soulful beat and flows effortlessly from beginning to end. She talks about the misconception that people have when they find out she is a "rapper", asking her for money and cars. Her dream was to get paid doing what she loves, but above that her goal is to be role model for young girls. Now that she is in the industry she has learned that her monetary limitations have kept her from reaching a larger audience. But she is able to look in the mirror and say she did not compromise her lyrical integrity to sell a few more records.

Non Fiction is another pairing of the "park bench poet" with a Black Hippy member (she previously teamed up with Kendrick Lamar on "Rock the Bells"..and yes..it is fuego). This time she calls upon Ab-Soul to accompany the Raheem Devaughn hook on another 9th production. It seems that Rapsody takes her already intricate rhyme patterns and metaphors to another level when she is paired with another emcee of a high caliber. This track is no exception. And it goes without saying that Ab-Soul brought his A game on this one as well.

In the Drums is a nostalgic piece where Rapsody takes time to talk to her fellow rappers. Her wordplay and metaphors are kept to a minimum (in comparison to other tracks) while she lets her flow deliver her point of view of the current state of hip-hop. She knows of the pressures of wanting to have "the money and the message" but advises not to "stress the session, just say what's on your mind". Her style is predicated on genuinely expressing her life stories, knowing that someone will relate to it. She doesn't care about how she is perceived, hip-hop is her therapy. Rapsody sees her role as being the counter balance from rappers that only rap about "sex, drug usage and rapping about wealth". Thank you, Ms.Evans.

Jay-Z is always at the top of Rapsody's list of emcees that have influenced her. So it seems appropriate that her first LP has a song dedicated to her idol. Destiny is laced with the hook "I want to meet Jay and just play a rhyme for him/ I see him spitting Heineken/ like "Girl rhyme again"/ saying "Your inspiring, to Blue Ivy and them". Since this would be there first meeting the "lyrical cyclone monster" takes this opportunity to give him a timeline of her life and how Hova was a part of it. While her mother was in the hospital fighting for her life, Rapsody would memorize Jay's lyrics to escape her immediate reality and daydream about her future. Ms.Evans even throws in a Jay-Z signature double entendre bar into her verse, "your girl game tight/ you can say I'm Jay worthy".

 Thunder is the last track on The Idea of Beautiful. This simple beat with a melodic bass riff lets Rapsody go Super Saiyan (google it) to the point that I do not know how to explain the track. Her metaphors, wordplay, and flow are all on swoll as if she felt this track was her last chance to solidify her place in hip-hop history. What I will do is give you a couple of bars to get a taste of this beautifully crafted track (disclaimer: I did my best to be as accurate as possible, but since this just came out yesterday there is no where to check lyrics. This also goes for other tracks).
"born in this world to be a leader/ so the meter reads ether red in the zone/ when im in the zone, microphones"
"all black like the omen the benjamins in my wallet/ I holla "fuck all the dollars" my [people] thinking like college/ courses, they took and jordans couldn't afford them/ so they stole them out of boredom, yo just to be like the noun/ a person in place of that thing/ that bling round/ ring fingers now they up in that thing"

The BITM crew knows I am huge fan of Rapsody and 9th. But it would be hard not to become a believer after this thoughtful album. Along with Jay-Z, Rapsody accredits Yasiin Bey, Lauryn Hill and MC Lyte as her top influences to her style. Of course she is influenced by many other emcees but you can definitely hear in her rhymes that these legends are most prevalent. It feels like we are in phase in hip-hop where quantity seems to overshadow quality (and the pressure to pair any rapper with the "it" pop artist is more and more common), especially with the younger rappers. It is a relief to know that there are a handful of young emcees that will stay authentic to the culture of hip-hop. Rapsody is no longer a rookie. She now has a couple of years as a student of the game (from an industry standpoint) with one of the best professors on the planet. It is her versatility that allows her to grow from track to track. She is at home talking about hurtful passed experiences with significant others in Precious Wings to reminiscing about old-school songs in Beautiful Music. There is really much more I can say and I could honestly review every song on this album, but I will leave some room for you make up your own opinion about it. 

23 August 2012

Have You Heard: Luke Christopher

Back on August 18th I tweeted Luke Christopher just to tell him I thought his mixtape TMRW TMRW was ill. He tweeted back, "Tell a friend homie...."

So here it is…..

                I remember the first time I listened to Luke Christopher. His Building Skies mixtape dropped in January and I happened to come across it via Goodmusicallday.com . I had to admit it was pretty tight. I rocked the track Hurcules for a hot minute. I remember thinking, “This dude has some serious potential. Let me go ahead and put him on my radar.”
Skip ahead to August 17, 2012
                That night I was going through a lot of music I’d picked up and I came across Luke Christopher’s newest mixtape, TMRW TMRW. Without another thought I cued it up and hit play…….
Holy shit.
                TMRW TMRW is probably going to be in my top 10 “Best Shit I Heard This Year” list. On this release Luke sets the bar pretty high for his generation of artists. Truth be told, he shows up a few cats that are already established. Off tops, Luke handled all the production. I mention this first because his beats are NICE. Songs like Never Been have this crazy hip hop, doo wop vibe going while tracks like We're Here have these 90’s style drums with some piano laid over top of the beat that just make it sound nasty.
                Another strong point is that Luke Chris raps and sings. The way Luke mixes it up between the two gives this album an original sound. I know it’s been done before, but too often artists will a better rapper than singer or vice versa. This is not the case with Luke at all. Just check out the track Superstar. The first time I heard this song I would have swore Luke Chris had someone else on the track do the singing. Negative. All parts are done by Mr. Christopher.  Add the fact that he produced this song and it definitely gives the listener a better idea of just how talented this dude is.

                TMRW TMRW  is dope, period. If you are reading this and you don’t know who Luke Christopher is, take a few minutes and download the mixtape here. It will most likely be a high point of your day. If you already know about him, just take Mr. Christopher’s advice…….go tell a friend homie.

VIDEO: Lupe Fiasco, "Bitch Bad"

So Lupe has come up a bit on our email threads lately. No one can deny that his lyrical ability and content are above par. But after Lasers we were left scratching our heads (the question.."WTF was that?" comes to mind). But he promised Food & Liquor 2 would be made for his true fans..I guess a sort of apology..we shall see. He has been dropping songs here and there..Bitch Bad stood out as classic Lupe..and the video is very well done. From conceptualization to execution..no complaints from me. But I think I will still wait before I commit to supporting his next tape.

20 August 2012

Clear Your Soul with these Forces

Don’t you hate when you find out about something that you SHOULD know about but you don’t? For example; a restaurant right around the corner from where you live at but you’ve never seen it and it turns out to be the best thing in the world. This happened to me about two and a half weeks ago with an up and coming rap lyrical power house that goes by the name of Clear Soul Forces. Clear Soul Forces consist of Ilajidae, J-Roc, LAZ, and E-Fav. Mind you, I’m from Detroit and was raised in Inkster, and had no clue about them which I’m disappointed in myself and my cities for not being aware to REAL Hip-Hop. I was at work and a customer asked about what it is that I really wanted to do. I got to telling him about the BITM movement and website, and he put me on game about this group. The first song that I heard from this group was, “Get no better.” These guys have amazing flow to this mellow upbeat elevator music. The lyrics that they come with are not just the average punch lines; they are creative and paint vivid pictures. The second song I heard by these dudes was “Keep it Movin.” Believe me this song is FIRE. My favorite line is from J-Roc: “Enter the Dragon when I’m spazzin/ engaging in Mortal Kombat/ when half of them is inadequate.” After I heard these two songs I bought the album and got the mixtapes IMMEDIATELY.

Coming from Detroit, and knowing these type of lyricists exist other than the normal D-Boy shit (which I love to blast at times, don’t get me wrong), is a blessing. Their first album, “Detroit Revolution(s)” is remarkable. Every track supplies the listener with words that cease to amaze. This album is predominantly sustained with dark tracks as portrayed on their album cover (which is a piece of what the armies of the Motor City wear, all black everything). My favorite track off this joint is “Rap Attack// Jammin’.” No punches pulled on this track, I don’t know the full capability of these artists but DAMN. LAZ comes in on this song with, “Since we dropped that departure disc/ you niggas wait and pray that we swing and miss. Well the waits over lets get into it/ I give you this Timmy on the toilet that retarded shit.” I don’t need to say anymore on this song except listen to it yourself.

Clear soul Forces is exactly what we at Best In The Mix wish to expose to the Hip-Hop lovers worldwide and I have the email threads to back it up. All of the BITM crew is feeling this group. One rapper that is feeling the same way we do is Royce Da 5’9. He influenced the individuals to be a group, and thank God that they listened. If you are a fan of real art in the Hip-Hop Essence support these guys and BUY their album.
Just some lyrics that they said that gave me CHILLS…

“Supernatural vinacular the cure for the hopeless/ Hellen Keller’s favorite song/ Stevie Wonder’s favorite poster. We on a quest hodgy/ The game of life dice rolled landed us in the jungle Jumanji.” J-Roc

“Every day is light wear/ hades babies laying there/ I been to hell and back, thermostat, STAT you lil niggas. The Phoenix is risen I flap my wings and set fire to pidgeons/ society’s menace.”-LAZ

“Gazer beam wash it off/ precision never drogging off/ we shooting keep it moving we get it cracking like a mazel tov/ if you the one up bruh, son up Scott Summers/ that’s Cable (“Not on that bitch cause we don’t have a label!”-LAZ)-Ilajide

“Somebody ought a tell ‘em that if we broke and fucked up/ then that’s more reason for us to be high and coked up, what!?/ Who got the lighter I’m sort of a genius writer/embodied inside a fighter droppin’ bombs like Stryker…”- E-Fav

Detroit Revolution(s)-Album
Clear Soul Radio-Mixtape
Departure (Ep)

......Their pieces of work

You can cop these jawns at http://clearsoulforces.bandcamp.com/
If you love REAL Hip-Hop check them out and cherish them. S/O to the whole Clear Soul Forces team for looking out. 

Review: Ab-Soul - #controlsystem

Ab-Soul, Abstract, Asshole

Just a few words spread across the hook of Track Two that illustrate the mindstate of the "Top Dawg Under Dawg." When you are a part of a crew of four up and coming west coast juggernauts and haven't received the notoriety the rest of your team has, it only makes sense to hop on the scene with an album that blows the minds of critics and fans alike.

Ab-Soul, 1/4 of the Black Hippy crew, does just that with #controlsystem, his fourth full-length project in as many years. This album, much like his "Long Term" series prior, challenges the listener to think beyond the surface and use their third-eye and acute ear heavily. Nothing about this album is to be taken at face value, as Soul is far too advanced of an artist to present a basic project to his fans. As each member of the Black Hippy crew has their own style, don't expect the same type of lyrical destruction that you would get from Kendrick Lamar. Ab-Soul's projects are more about the depth of his subject matter, even though he will still bust your ass with rewind-worthy punchlines every now and then. He tackles subjects such as rebelling against the church, the government, and indirectly asking the listener to be aware of how the "sheep" are slowly being controlled. Standout songs like "ILLuminate," "Terrorist Threats," and "A Rebellion" could also be seen as shots at the fabled organization known as The Illuminati.

The majority of the album takes you on a marijuana-induced onslaught against politics in a way no other artist ever has. The rest of the album is a somber tribute to the late Alori Joh, longtime TDE collaborator who committed suicide earlier this year. She was an R&B artist on the Top Dawg roster and is featured on this album, as well as nearly every other Black Hippy and TDE project prior. Alori was also Ab-Soul's girlfriend, and the entire album is dedicated to her. He uses her passing as inspiration, and his love for her is no more evident than on the track "The Book Of Soul," a heartfelt ode to her life and how strong their bond was.

The finale, "Black Lip Bastard" brings the entire Black Hippy crew together to top this album off right. Throughout everyone's verse, you can hear Kendrick in the background making it known that TDE is here to stay, and that they don't care what any other crew is doing because they will end up on top of the game. There's something special when all four members link up for a track; the camaraderie they have, and how their cadences bounce off one another in a way the flows perfectly is truly amazing. One might feel that Kendrick is lyrically the strongest, but on this track it's Jay Rock that shines with lines like "I'm the silent assassin of the four-headed dragon, black hippy blastin a 50 out the back of the benz wagon." It's a great way to end an already impressive album, but don't be surprised if some of the subject matter goes over your head at first. This album was meant for multiple run-throughs. You will get something new from it every single time, which will naturally allow you to enjoy it more as well.

There is an unspoken rotation amongst Black Hippy where, annually, each artist drops a new project not too long after the last member. This has remained consistent through their mixtapes and indie albums since 2009. Next up is Kendrick Lamar with "Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City." Let's see what he do wit it...

19 August 2012

Advice with TwonJohnson: Tattoos & Backshots

I'd like to preface this article by making it known that I ain't shit, and it is completely upto you, the reader, whether or not you decide to take anything I say seriously. 

Everyone who has ever been inked up knows that shit gets addictive quick. Each new tat you get usually got a story behind it, but I don't care what nobody say, TRAMP STAMPS don't got no damn stories. The only thing a back tattoo got behind it is a nigga gettin that thang. Women try to play it off like they got that butterfly on they back cuz they thought it would look cute, but let's be real...SHE CANT EVEN SEE THAT SHIT without two mirrors.

I compare tramp stamps to gas stations that got TVs at the pump...they put em there to give you somethin to look at while you handlin bidness. Most men have become so accustomed to seeing a tattoo on the lower part of a female's back, that a woman without tattoos almost looks weird...like she inexperienced or some shit. And any woman who is inexperienced is subject to gettin walked out on wit a pool of back milk chillin where that tattoo shoulda been. So ladies for the sake of the art of the Back Shot, please make sure you get inked where it matters the most. Men everywhere will thank you wit the meanest stroke you've ever felt.

~ TwonJohnson

Advice with TwonJohnson: Big Girls That Like To F*ck Wit A T-Shirt On

I'd like to preface this article by making it known that I ain't shit, and it is completely upto you, the reader, whether or not you decide to take anything I say seriously. 

We all know the fairer sex is also far more self-conscious than their uncouth counterparts. For most women, their personal appearance is everything. It doesn't matter if it's with strangers, associates, classmates, or their soulmate. Society has women thinking their bodies have to be in tip-top shape, and they have to be a vision of perfection at all times. That is a tall task for anyone, and I personally feel like it is an unnecessary burden, especially for big girls.

When you are getting it in with a fluffy woman, it's always interesting to see what tactics they use to keep the man from seeing their entire body naked. The two most common moves are turning off all the lights, and/or wearing an oversized t-shirt that covers all unsightly meat. I mean it's cool for a lady to rock a t-shirt, lingerie, or whatever makes her feel comfortable when it's about to go down. At the end of the day I don't care if she rockin a SNOWSUIT or she butt-ass nekkid, because this THANG still poke out regardless, and it's gon find it's way in one way or another. There's a built-in radar that allows us to find our way through any article of clothing in broad daylight or in complete darkness.

So big ladies, do whatever makes you comfortable. Just don't allow society to dictate the choices you make in the bedroom with the man who already loves everything about you.

And FUCK them super-skinny bitches on TV. Don't no man wanna be jabbed and stabbed by sharp butt bones.

~ TwonJohnson

17 August 2012

Advice with Steph B-More: Cheap or Gauche?

I've been dating a wonderful guy for quite some time. The thing that bothers me is that he ALWAYS makes it a point to point out that something is free. Today he was telling me about a museum he went to "and it was all free, too." Swear to gawd it's like nails on a fucking chalkboard.

How do I get him to stop doing that? I think it is super tacky. Someone once told me that bragging about snagging a nice pair of shoes for $5 is the same as bragging about them being $500. I agree. I see no point in bringing up the cost of something. Am I tripping for no reason? How do I get him to stop doing this?
---No Time For Cheap Ones

First off, I had to look up the word “gauche”.  
Gauche: lacking social grace, sensitivity or acuteness.
I have learned something new and for that, I thank you. Now that I know what the word means, I am better equipped to help you.
Is he cheap? Honestly I don’t know. Bragging about a good deal isn’t necessarily being cheap. He might enjoy saving money on certain aspects of his life so that he can splurge on what he really wants, like maybe a car or a house, or some nice shoes. I don’t know.
Is he gauche? Ehh…basically you are asking if he’s being tacky? That’s subjective. Is he bragging around all of your friends, or just to you? If it’s just to you, maybe he feels comfortable enough to say to you “I really enjoyed this trip to the museum and the best part of it all was that it was free.99.”  If it’s around others, I take it you feel embarrassed? Honestly I don’t get this…and maybe I’m a different kind of woman.
Women want men to take them places, buy them things, show them the world but if it’s attached to a discount, a Groupon, a living social deal, or a hook up, then all of  a sudden he’s cheap. Women want men, in this economy of all things, to pay full price for everything. Why does that matter? This reminds me of when I got free lunch. Kids would make fun of the kids on free lunch in elementary school because we were “poor” but guess what bitch…I’m eating the same lunch as you and mines is free. We need to stop this elitist thinking.
You think rich people pay full price for everything? HELL NO. That’s why they are rich, because they make power moves and save money instead of trying to impress people with $200 date dinners when they only make $650 a week.
If you really like him and he’s wonderful, then why not just play it off or joke with him about it. When he talks about a freebie you could say “My man always knows how to get a great deal!” instead of being embarrassed. Or rather, talk to him one on one about it…just say straight up say “I know you love finding great deals and that’s cool but you don’t have to tell everyone how much you paid for things.”
If this doesn’t work, find a new man because obviously image is more important to you than love. Your man should be free to be himself and if it’s annoying or bothering you this much, he’s not the one for you because it’s doubtful he’ll change.
That’s all I got.
---Steph B More
P.S. I realize I said “first off…” and didn’t come with a “second off…” It’s implied. Grammar police.
Follow me on twitter: www.twitter.com/StephBMore
Email me your questions: flyspacequeen (at) gmail.com
Every Friday. Sometimes written, sometimes vlogged. Always awesome.

15 August 2012

Review: Killer Mike, "R.A.P. Music"

The scene: a quiet New Jersey countryside, early on a Saturday morning, outside of a small military base nestled in the woods. A Ford Flex pulls out of a McDonald's parking lot, two sausage burritos heating up the passenger seat. The driver slowly turns up the SiriusXM radio, a soft snare and haunting thump sliding out of his speakers. The voice of the artist is familiar, but not completely caught at first listen. A hook is heard, the driver's ear grabbed once he hears a simile about Batman and Gotham City.

"Moving through New York city in a black seven fifty
Like Batman moving through Gotham
Dodging pot holes as I gently move
Through Harlem with my wheels on slalom
Pain in my eyes as I'm passing the place
Where they found Sean Bell and they shot him (Queens!)
Forty one times, he committed no crime
But I guess life ain't Time Square
But in the city that's gritty where the bottom lives shitty
And the mayor's a billionaire
You love Manhattan keep on making it
And Brooklyn, keep on taking it
Cause life just ain't that fair
For the kids in the park, watching out for the Narc
More sour diesel in the air
Trying to flip them a pack, stack couple couple racks
And make it the hell out of here!"

That driver was me, of course, and it didn't take long past the end of that hook to figure out the voice behind it, Killer Mike. I've been a fan of Mike Bigga since I heard him on Bonecrusher's "Neva Scared" way back in the early 00's, attempting to buy every album and download every mixtape that has come out. That's how I knew that this song, which I later found out was "Anywhere But Here" was new fire.

Coincidentally, Killer Mike was doing an interview on Invasion Radio with DJ Green Lantern and my timing couldn't have been more perfect. They played a few more tracks during the course of the interview and I knew that this was yet another Killer Mike classic that I simply HAD to have. As soon as the show was over, I bought "R.A.P. Music off iTunes and blasted it down I-95 South to Virginia. It took a couple hours to get home, so I got plenty of play off the album that first day. It was the best four hour trip of my life!

The album started off blowing my speakers with the appropriately titled "Big Beast," my audio system thanking me for the reverb. Bun B, always a pleasure to listen to, blessed my ears with a verse followed by T.I. Those three on a track, and you couldn't possibly want more. That was just the first song, though! It was fast, it was fire, it was lyrical, as all three of these hip hop monsters tend to be. You're then treated to a futuristic 40 second intro to the next song, "Untitled," which is filled with the natural edutainment that Killer Mike is known for. The chorus offers a haunting warning to sinners and haters alike, "Dear Lord, have mercy...cuz people gonna lie, some people gonna steal; you gotta be careful not to shit where you live. Some people might try to have you killed. Lord have mercy, life is such a battlefield!" Just when you get comfortable with the easy pace and content, which isn't too preachy, I may add, the listener is thrown into fast forward with the aptly titled "Go," which has Killer Mike showing off his speed rapping chops. He makes no show of being Twista or Krayzie Bone, but Killer Mike has always been one of the most underrated artists with skill of tongue (pause) and he proves his lyrical dexterity here and on "Southern Fried" as well.

One of my favorite tracks is the fifth song, "JoJo's Chillin," a Children's Story of sorts about a young drug dealer and his adventures with moving some weight from Atlanta to New York. Say what you want about the content, the song is fun without being pop, real without preaching, and informative without being boring. Even I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of JoJo. Who else gets head from a side jawn, sex from a stewardess, beef from an old woman and a vision from Ghostface Killah all in the same day?!

Despite the fun of "JoJo's Chillin," Killer Mike firmly escorts you into the political classroom on "Reagan." Killer Mike never stated that he was the holiest man in hip hop, and he never tries to come off as a saint. In the above mentioned interview, he gave us a snippet of his background, talking about his mother's issues with substance abuse and his father's career as a police officer. He never pretends to be something or someone that he can't relate to, which is why I've always enjoyed his music. In addition to being talented, he spits the real as only he can see, but he makes it believable, because it IS true beliefs. "Reagan" highlights many of those true beliefs that so many Americans refuse to acknowledge and so many youth know nothing about. The song begins with two separate clips from the deceased presidential namesake flip-flopping his stance on the alleged sale/trade of weapons for hostages in the 80s. He then goes on to spit more knowledge to the listener. Depsite whether you agree with Mike Bigga or not, the point is that we as listeners, as patrons of rap, as the next generation, must be willing to open our eyes as well as our ears to what is going on around us. So many people take music at face value, and that is why the genre is devalued in the eyes of the media and society and hardly ever taken serious.

After lyrically assassinating Ronald Reagan, Mike throws more fire with "Don't Die," shaping the song around a story of dirty cops and his rising above the filth of negativity as it pertains to society and goverment. He moves quickly through numerous aspects of government, tackling strong and self-imposed emotions by himself until he gets to "Butane," which is where we hear a verse from acclaimed producer and artist El-P, who also produced the album. "Willie Burke Sherwood" and "R.A.P. Music" fill out the end of the album, slowing things down just a bit, but still giving you a nice enough sendoff. I personally like for albums of this stature to go out with a bang, but after the excitement of the tracks I spoke on above, I've no complaints.

In my opinion, this particular album is what artists like Lupe Fiasco strive to create (or at least should). It's political, it's fun, the production is all serving and rich and the features aren't heavy. I hear the artist, I understand his thoughts and views and I walk away learning something. Some people aren't fans of political rap, and that is fine, but for what it is, and for what Killer Mike was attempting to accomplish, this album easily goes down as one of the best for the summer and I'm sure it'll still be on my top ten list come the end of the year. If you haven't copped "R.A.P. Music" by Killer Mike, then you are wrong!

Standout tracks: Big Beast, Untitled, JoJo's Chillin, Reagan, Don't Die and Anywhere But Here.

Review: Dark Time Sunshine - ANX

Is there such a thing as psychedelic hip hop? The answer is HELL YES and it comes in the form of Dark Time Sunshine’s latest release, ANX.

This album is a psychedelic tour de force. The duo, made up of MC Onry Ozzborn and producer Zavala, have proven to be a perfect complement to each other. The combination of Onry’s thoughtful rhymes and otherworldly references with Zavala’s psychedelic funk hop make for quite the follow up to 2009’s Vessel.  
This album is a definitive step forward for Dark Time Sunshine. From the beginning track it is clear that they are interested in moving forward in their musical journey. From the double time on the opening track, Hosanna In The Highest, to the mood shift in the very next track, Can’t Wait, Dark Time melds psychedelic rock and hip hop together in a way that is both unexpected and very refreshing.   
Throughout the album, Zavala’s production moves from hypnotic to funky to downright manic. As far ranging as these sounds seem to be, Zavala is able to move back and forth between these styles seamlessly, and Onry is right there with him, dropping lyrics and references the way only he can.
This whole album is a beast so I don’t have any best/worst tracks. What I can do is tell you the tracks that I’m currently rocking:
Valiant feat. Child Actor – Man, talk about trance inducing! If you have ever done any ‘mind expanding activities’ then this song will take you back to some of your best memories. The synths, those drums, and Onry’s flow make for a perfect match through the whole song.
                I’ll Be Damned feat. Poeina Suddarth – This track is just straight funky. The melody from the intro sets you up for the impending head nod and you don’t even realize it until after the drums kick in. The chorus does this thing where the bass kicks match up with the synth sounds……….straight fire.
                Never Cry Wolf feat. Reva DeVito – I literally cannot stop listening to this song. I lucked up on the video a few days back and have been sharing it with EVERYONE.  Do yourself a favor, turn down the lights and peep this video. You’re welcome.
                ANX is a prime example of how diverse hip hop is. This album creates an uncompromising soundscape that draws you in and doesn’t let go until the finish. Between the vocals and the production, Dark Time Sunshine’s ANX is the perfect way to question everything you think you know about good music.

14 August 2012

Want to support BITM? Buy a t-shirt!

What we do here is for the love of hip hop, our streets and our culture. That being said, we all sometimes need help spreading the message. Enter BITM t-shirts.

Now listen, I decided to throw these out there because SO MANY people claimed they wanted one. Well, now you can have one. They were a big hit at #EpicFest2012 and you can have your own. They're only $12, so I don't want to hear any crying.

In the future (provided there IS a future for BITM retail), these will be cheaper the more people that order them. That's completely up to you, the people. Also, the more interest (and sales) that we get, the more designs, colors and styles we'll come out with.

Get on over to PayPal, send $12 to @TheNiftian@gmail.com, make sure to include your contact info and we'll go from there. This is my first time doing this particular sort of thing, so please bear with me. I'm keeping this as simple as possible so as to not mess with your money or our product, ok? It is for that reason that PayPal is the only option. Also, please be patient, as I have to advertise these and get orders up. You can help by telling your friends and family to order one (or three) as well! We're aiming for 30 shirts to sell right now. We need your help!

Oh, and as of right now, we should have all sizes available up to...we'll say XXL. And no, there won't be any freebies, LOL...but seriously.

13 August 2012

The State of Hip Hop: Rap's Mid Life Crisis

*Editor's note: No one from the BITM crew wrote this. While perusing Tumblr one day, I came across this VERY interesting article from the homey Dart Adams about rap being in a mid life crisis. I was hooked from jump and couldn't stop reading once I started. The very first sentence captivated me and I felt like it needed to be shared with our audience. I hit him up, got permission, and am posting it here in it's entirety for you all. In addition to peeping his Twitter account (linked above), you can also spy his tumblroll here. Read the article and as always, LEAVE COMMENTS! I think this should bring about some healthy discussion...

 The State of Hip Hop: Rap's Mid Life Crisis

Rap is currently in a strange space it has never occupied before. There are a wide assortment of relevant artists still signed to majors with careers that span more than a decade. From the introduction of the first Rap records in 1979 to the first legitimate wave of classic Rap albums in 1984 the landscape of underground and mainstream Rap has never before experienced such a phenomenon. Hip-Hop was originally a young person’s culture but it’s going to turn 40 next July. That means it’s currently going through a mid-life crisis.

In previous generations of Hip-Hop, the older emcees were essentially herded out of the game by the younger, hungrier, more lyrically and technically advanced emcees of that era. New Schoolers like Run-DMC ran off Old School crews like The Funky Four Plus One, Crash Crew and The Furious Five. Next Schoolers like Rakim, Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane forced New Schoolers like Kurtis Blow and Busy Bee to tap out and ultimately even surpassed other New School legends like Whodini and The Fat Boys.

This continued on as a rash of younger emcees constantly entered the game making legends step aside and forcing many others to hang it up altogether in increasing numbers as the first and second Golden Eras of Hip-Hop progressed. When you have cats like Treach and Snoop Dogg to contend with what’s really the point of continuing anyways? Let them have it. It’s their time…

It was almost the natural order of things in Hip-Hop, an urban culture where new generations manifest themselves every three to five years (as opposed to every 20 years due to cultural shifts or advances in the technology used to make music). Suddenly something odd began to happen during the mid to late 90’s. Emcees that already had relatively lengthy careers began to hang around (such as LL Cool J) and others that are still around today began solo careers (such as Ghostface Killah).

Today we have groups like The Roots in the 20th year of their careers still signed to a major and cats like Jay-Z (whose career on wax began in 1990), Nas (his career on wax began in 1991) and Common (his debut LP dropped in 1992) still releasing chart topping albums with songs that instantly enter the rotation on mainstream Hip-Hop radio. Nas’ new album “Life Is Good” was just the #1 selling album on the Billboard charts not too long ago.
Busta Rhymes recently signed with YMCMB to release his latest major label album and his career with Leaders Of The New School began back in 1990. Veterans like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Fat Joe still record and it isn’t beyond reason for them to possibly produce radio hits in 2012. All of this in a Hip-Hop climate where late 90’s MCs like Jadakiss and Styles P to early 00’s cats like Ludacris and Fabolous are considered “old school” in comparison to newer rappers that presently have the ears of modern Rap audiences.
 Underground Hip-Hop is rife with 15 to 20+ year veterans still recording quality material and touring the world. They are among the biggest draws at yearly Hip-Hop concerts and festivals worldwide and they regularly make the best albums each calendar year as well. Let’s not forget that they still manage to put on much better live shows than their younger counterparts in most cases.
In a group of elder artists that includes members of the Wu Tang Clan, Hieroglyphics Crew and Boot Camp Click, Redman, Pharoahe Monch, M.O.P., Large Professor, Cormega, The Beatnuts, The Alkaholiks, Blaq Poet, AZ, El-P, Ill Bill, J-Live, Talib Kweli, Elzhi, Yasiin Bey, Lewis Parker, Roc Marciano, De La Soul, MURS, Chali 2na, Evidence they’ve all amassed a loyal fan base of consumers who will buy their new material, support them and go see them when they tour and come to their town religiously. We are in a previously unseen era in Hip-Hop history in that particular regard.

Adding to this anomaly where newly relevant artists occupy the same realm as 20+ year veterans is a visible generational gap in approach and presentation of the art form. Now young rappers with a completely different value system in regards to the Rap world interact with those that still cling to the old tenets of the culture. Pete Rock was incensed at Lupe Fiasco for his lackluster take on his classic song. Lord Finesse, in turn, sued relative newcomer Mac Miller for recording over his instrumental then using it to promote his now burgeoning career two years after the fact.

On one hand I’m all for Lord Finesse suing Mac Miller purely from a Hip-Hop standpoint. But from this same exact “purely Hip Hop standpoint,” suing a rapper over spitting on your instrumental for his mixtape is extremely anti-Hip-Hop. Bringing litigation into the matter is extremely corporate, especially since he didn’t sue Joey Bada$$ who also spit over a Lord Finesse instrumental on “Funky Ho” for his mixtape “1999.” This lawsuit could potentially set a dangerous precedent where the entire mixtape culture could take another major hit just like it did back when the Internet first became prominent.

I totally understand why Lord Finesse would look at the big picture from a business and personal/financial standpoint. It’s the smart thing to do, especially if Rostrum Records just decides on a settlement and pays him a large sum of money. My issue from a Hip-Hop and a litigious standpoint is this could potentially start a wave of producers suing rappers, rappers suing other rappers and ultimately recording artists from outside genres suing them both. It’ll be just like the second Hip-Hop Golden Era all over again…except not in a good way.

We are currently in previously unexplored territory in regards to Hip-Hop’s history. There are lot of questions in front of us. What is the future of this culture in the face of an overly corporate landscape? On one side we have a post Internet Era fanbase as well as rappers/emcees that don’t share the same cultural views as either the still relevant on the mainstream Rap veterans OR the underground Hip-Hop vets that are still make excellent music year in and year out.

On the other side, we have a great deal of older, still capable emcees and producers that aren’t going to go silently into that good night. They previously usurped the wave of emcees and producers that came before them and if this generation wants to rightly claim Hip-Hop for itself and become the new torchbearers of this culture they must first understand that they’re expected to do the exact same thing that their predecessors did. 

Comments? Thoughts? Hit us up!

10 August 2012

Advice with Steph B-More: I went through his phone...

 I had been told for over ten years I would never have children. Then I meet a wonderful man 6 months ago, fell in love and THEN found out I was pregnant! The excitement and anxiety for both of us was through the roof! I had never been so happy. But just 2 months later, we were devastated to find out I had miscarried.

While he remained by my side and was supportive of most my needs, he never grieved with me. He was always so strong. Which I appreciated, but felt alone.

A few days ago, he was acting odd. Suspicious, I broke the major rule of trust in a loving relationship and snooped through his texts. I found texts between him and some girl from his past where he told her he was not really with me, that he had no feelings for me, we weren't sleeping together and he's planning on moving out. The texts were only for two days.

Betrayed and hurt, I confronted him. He's very smart, so if he wanted to hide it, he would have. He said he just needed someone to listen to him, that he wanted someone to build him up. And I know that it's plausible that he was just trying to garner her sympathy while making it seem like he was available so she would continue talking to him and he was already feeling guilty  so why not do something that allows actual guilt? 

My issue now, do I dare trust him again? Could he be lying to me, and not her? I love him, more so I'm IN love with him, so I want to think he made a stupid mistake because he was in pain. But is it possible I'm an idiot? Do I trust that he says he's done talking to her? Do I have a right to go through his phone again?

Thank you for your time.

GOODNESS!  There’s a lot going on so I’ll take my time and give my opinion on this matter.
First off…I’m sorry for the loss. Pregnancy can be a difficult time for a woman and to loss a child after already being told you couldn’t have children would leave any woman an emotional wreck. Please know that many women have been in the same position as you, and there are support groups (online even!) that can help you through and after such a difficult period in your life.
Secondly…Yes you were wrong snooping through his phone and NO, I don’t think you have a right to go through his phone again. I have to admit, I recently did the same to a friend of mine (recent meaning the past year…) and once a couple loses that trust, it’s very hard to regain.  Instead of snooping, let me suggest talking to him. Communication is always key. I know it sounds cliché but it really is the most important thing in a relationship.
Lastly…I think you should go with your heart, wherever that may lead you. If you chose to stay with him, be cautious. I am not a man so I can’t rationalize what men do BUT I have dealt with women and men who have experienced infant loss.  A lot of the time, the man feels it’s his responsibility to stay strong for the woman but he is experience pain at the same damn time. He can’t (and won’t) expect you to be there for him so he might turn to someone else. What bothers me about this is his comments…specifically him planning to move out. In my mind I’m thinking “Is he saying what she wants to hear so he can stay at her house until he finds another place to go?” Think about it. Obviously you are asking because there is some doubt…I don’t think you’re an idiot but love will make you do some silly things. Is he lying to you? Is he lying to her? The only one who knows that for sure is him. Normally I'd suggest time apart but you live together. However, if you can take a few days apart to clear your heads, please do. Right now things are muddled, and bad decisions are made when we can't see clearly.
I believe in second chances but I also believe in putting yourself first. You have to look at the situation and decide what’s best for you. Everyone deserves to have happiness. Make sure you find yours.
Steph B-More

Follow me on twitter: www.twitter.com/StephBMore
Got questions? Email me at: flyspacequeen (at) gmail.com
Column will run every Friday. Sometimes written, sometimes vlogged. Always awesome.

Sharing Is Caring...

I freaking love hip hop. I personally believe it's one of the most diverse musical genres out there right now.  A simple scroll through Best In The Mix is a testament to that statement. There are so many talented cats on the scene now and breaking through to the next level, that it can be damn near impossible to catch them all. I'll be the first to admit, I miss new dope all the time, and I listen to a LOT of music. If it wasn't for my BITM brethren, I'd be missing out on quite a bit. In the spirit of sharing, here are two acts I've come across that I think you should keep an ear out for:

Ground Up - This trio out of Philly have been going strong for about four years now. MCs Azar and Malakai along with producer Bij Lincs have been steadily increasing their buzz with each mixtape they have dropped. In four years they have put down nine mixtapes, so it's safe to say these cats are on their grind. Their latest mixtape (at the time of this post), The Get Up, shows their ever increasing skill and ability to rock the hell out of whatever mic they touch. The Ground Up crew currently have a Supernatural Series going on where they are dropping a new jam weekly leading up to the release of their newest mixtape, Supernatural, which will be dropping very soon. "Skill Over Swag" is their motto; follow the jump over to their site and see why.

Get Busy Committee - This supergroup is composed of indie mainstays Apathy, Ryu, and producer Scoop DeVille. Apathy and Ryu have been doing their damn thing separately for a long time. Check for Apathy's solo releases, countless projects, and guest spots as well as Ryu's work with Styles of Beyond, Fort Minor and guest spots. These two are also associated with the hip hop collective powerhouse Demigodz (new album coming!). Sccop DeVille is a production beast. For proof of this, go back and listen to Snoop Dogg's I Wanna Rock, The Game's Ha Ha, and Bishop Lamont's Anything. Yeah, that's him killing those tracks. Get Busy dropped Uzi Does It in 2009 and, between the beats and the wordplay, there weren't many albums that were bringing it on that level. Rumor has it Get Busy Committee will be dropping a new album soon. Let's hope the rumors are true. Until that day, check out the album Uzi Does It and The Opening Ceremony Mixtape and see what your party/ride/life has been missing.

~Irish Ninja

08 August 2012

Field Trip: Ninja's in Phuket

Author’s note: When I started writing this, I was going for some official Anderson Cooper/Time Magazine feel, all official and shit. Then I remembered, THIS IS BEST IN THE MIX! Around these parts, we are all family, So that’s how this piece is going down, like I’m just talking to friends about my trip.

     Hey Mixers, your boy Irish is back from Thailand and MAAAN was that whole trip bananas! What was supposed to be a simple vacation with a little BITM legwork involved turned into a life altering experience with an insane soundtrack. Between the people and the music there is too much for just one post, so if you dig what I’m getting ready to hip you to, just know at some point in time, there will be more. With that out of the way, let’s begin, shall we?

Within ten minutes of landing in Phuket, I just knew I was in for some next level of crazy. Maybe it was the scenery,

maybe it was the fresh air. More than likely, it was the fact that radio was blasting T.I.’s Sittin’ On Top Of The World as I soaked everything in. Before I knew it, we were pulling up to my home for the next two weeks, Summer Breeze Hotel. Make a mental note for yourself to google Summer Breeze Hotel after you get done with this post and check out the Penthouse Suite; you’ll thank me later. After dropping my luggage and setting up my turntables I checked my watch. Being that it was half past tequila, I figured it was time to head down to Bangla Road and check out the music scene.

      Electronic music definitely holds the crown up and down Bangla Road. The high energy, fun-loving atmosphere that is associated with house music and electro is the perfect companion with the nightlife in Phuket. Now don’t get it twisted, you are still going to hear plenty of hip hop out there. You are just going to have to look a little harder. There are clubs and bars that cater to hip hop. The majority of clubs play hip hop when they open, but as soon as the people start rolling in and the party is getting ready to jump off, you better be ready to dance or clear the way. Since this was my first trip to Phuket (and because I had a blend mix I recorded that I wanted to convince the DJ to play) me and my boy (tour guide) D-Money made our way over to the P. One Bar on Bangla Road. 

Now my boy D knew the DJ at the bar so getting my mix played at P. One actually stood a chance.  Now for those that think this isn’t a big deal, a DJ playing his mix in another DJ’s spot is like someone cooking in your mom’s kitchen. Unless you get permission, you are likely to get knocked out. Through the miracle of conversation and several shots, the DJ agreed to play my mix. Now, I’m no professional DJ, but the fact that the DJ gave me props let me know that I did my BITM family proud. Check the mix for yourself here and judge for yourself. Shouts out and much respect to DJ Tong Pornkung and all the staff at P. One.

The night went over so well that when I woke up the next morning I was inspired to spin a little indie wake up session to pass out to anyone I met. Hell, lightning could strike twice, right? Plus, I figured if they liked the mainstream club mix I put together then this laid back morning mix would be a great start for the day after. Once again I hit the nail on the head. Talk about a crazy high! Two mixes I put together were a hit in less than 15 hours. If you all want to hear the indie mix, just shoot a message to us at  BestInTheMix@gmail.com  and we can Dropbox it to you.
There is plenty more to fill you all in on about my trip, but I have loads of albums and mixtapes that need my attention. Next time we talk, I’ll tell you a little story about a place called Rawai and how it helped me fall in love with my latest addiction, Timeflies Holla.

~Irish Ninja 

06 August 2012

Talib Kweli f. Kendrick Lamar & Curren$y - Push Thru

I'm a big fan of Talib Kweli, a HUGE fan of Kendrick Lamar (hell, we all are: wait til you see Ra'z Al Ghoul's Bible/Hip hop post), and I don't know much about Curren$y. As a result, I expected this track to be fire. I first heard the audio version about a month ago and didn't like it. I really didn't like it. Like, really. I was very disappointed. In all fairness, I only listened to it two or three times. Normally I'll spend six or more listens before I truly judge a track. I couldn't do it this time.

Enter video. Video got me. Song still isn't top ten of the month, but the visual presentation makes it something to keep at. I actually really liked the video, surprising even myself. Still not too fond of the song, though. And yes, Kendrick Lamar kills. Check it out.

Talib Kweli f. Kendrick Lamar & Curren$y -

VIDEO: Compton State of Mind

We here at the BITM are always looking to improve our content, but we also know that variety is important, especially on the web. So now, in addition to our thought provoking and sometimes controversial articles, we will add a multimedia element to our medium. 

Kendrick Lamar has come up a lot in our email threads lately which got me thinking of the first time I was introduced to this young star by our very own TwonJohnson and about the first video I saw K Dot in......enjoy.

04 August 2012

Serena Williams is a G?

I personally don't care, but I know the media will probably have a field day with this one. I can see the headlines now: SERENA WILLIAMS SUPPORTS GANG ACTIVITY WITH TRIBAL DANCE! Smh...let's pray that I am wrong. Check the link on my boy's site.

CarolinaWare's own: The WareHouse: (GIfs/video) @serenawilliams C-Walking after Olymp...

02 August 2012

Group Thread: Hip Hop Olympics

The BITM crew talks to each other a lot, way more than about the stuff you see on here. I (The Niftian) decided to bring y'all a little further into our world by sharing some of our convos with you. We've told you before that we don't always agree on stuff, and here is one example of that. Common posed a question recently, which prompted the following discussion...

If Hip-hop had an Olympics, which seven emcees would you send?

Twon Johnson: Mine are Andre 3000, Nas, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Phonte, Black Thought and Elzhi

StayFly: Nas, 3 Stacks, Em (def for the battles) for the vets you need on the team. Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica (I know Jay ain't that "young," but young to rapping, I guess) for the young guns. Rapsody and Jean Grae for the ladies (I guess Rapsody could go for the young guns, too)

Irish Ninja: My squad goes like this: Paten Locke, Skyzoo, Apathy, Grip Grand, Von Pea, Aesop Rock, and Drake. I can already hear y'all about Drake, but whatever; I'm trying to win.

StayFly: Drake over Em? Besides singing...you could say Em has had more commercial success if that's what you're going for...

Irish Ninja: If we're going for commercial success, then I'll change my roster. But skills? As popular as it is to hate on Drake, he's got crazy metaphors and flows. If his subject matter was anything else besides the emo is he's on, his wordplay would be better received. As for the rest of my roster, each is a beast in their own right in my book. Wish I would have drafted Elec, though...

Twon Johnson: What would the events be, though?

StayFly: I'm assuming a freestlye battle until you drop, hence Em being on my team.

Ra'z Al Ghoul: Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, Rakim, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Elec, Joe Budden. 3 Stacks!!! And Phonte, smh. I got caught off guard with Phonte. Damn...

Irish Ninja: Events? Definitely Last Man Standing, Freestyle Relay (spit 16 bars and hand off)...something about verbal gymnastics has GOT to be in there.

StayFly: Nice...and def got to be a back and forth like Jadakiss and Style P do (I guess a shorter relay?). Who would be the judges...producers? Or other rappers, too?

Ra'z Al Ghoul: If there was a set schedule of events, my roster might change.

Irish Ninja: Then let me throw this in the mix (yup, I said it...just like that): who would you choose to be your squad's coach?

Twon Johnson: Judges would have to be producers/DJs. Black Thought is our coach, Nas is our captain.

StayFly: Hmm...then I'm gonna need a judges list, because for coach I think I'ma go with KRS One. Assistant coach is DJ Premier, but if he's a judge (I think he should be), then I'd need another assistant.

Ra'z Al Ghoul: .....Kanye

Twon Johnson: BOOOOOOOO!!! Ra'z, your squad is taking an "L!"

Irish Ninja: RZA is the coach 'round these parts, with El-P as his assistant.

StayFly: I'd have to say producers that at least been around in the 80s/90s (even the late 90s): Preem, 9th Wonder, RZA, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Hi Tek, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, Alchemist.

Irish Ninja: Rza can't judge, he's my coach...

StayFly: No doubt, good coach. So what, like 5 judges? I don't know what's an appropriate number. I'm assuming one judge we can all agree on is Kool Herc? So that's one...I'd put in a vote for 9th, because I want Preem as coach. Unless y'all think Preem should really be judge, which I don't think I could argue with.

Irish Ninja: I vote Jazzy Jeff as Judge #2.

StayFly: Maybe six judges; that way we all get one judge...if we all think Herc is an unanimous judge. Hey, wait a minute: would Drake be disqualified because he's from Canada? I'm assuming it's a U.S. hip-hop team!

The Niftian: Kool Herc and KRS One as coaches, RZA as an assistant coach, Nas and/or Andre 3000 as captains (due to their tenure in the game), Eminem, Jean Grae, Kendrick Lamar to round out the squad. If we could raise the dead, my boy Eyedea would DEF be on my list.

Irish Ninja: Yea, if I can't have Drake, I'll take Blu. Nifty, I was seriously considering Eyedea! I only passed because of the whole "dead" thing, may he rest in peace.

This convo isn't even complete, y'all! We usually hash out a topic over the course of a couple days. Stay tuned to the site, though, because I'll be keeping you updated on the things we love and talk about most: hip-hop! Now, with all that being said, who's in YOUR Hip-Hop Olympic 2012 Squad? Leave the comments below!