25 October 2012

In Case You Missed It: Styles Of Beyond - Reseda Beach

                Confession, I've been playing this Reseda Beach since I was able to download it from iTunes this past Tuesday. I was going to write a review and try to be objective as possible. Instead, I'm just going to tell you why you should cop this release right now. Well, after you read this of course………..

                On Styles Of Beyond’s third release, is nothing short of a reward for their loyal followers and one hell of an initiation if you are hearing them for the first time. Styles Of Beyond, made up of: Ryu, Takbir, DJ/producer Cheapshot and producer Vin Skully. Styles Of Beyond, aside from releasing their own group’s music, has been connected with a number of collectives and side projects including: Fort Minor with Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park fame), the hip hop juggernaut known as Demigodz alongside the likes of Apathy, Vinnie Paz, Motive, Esoteric, and Celph Titled, and Get Busy Committee, made up of Ryu, Apathy and producer Scoop DeVille. One of the many high points of Reseda Beach is that the entire album seems to pull influence from everything they have been a part of.

                The lead off track, aptly titled Here We Go,  is produced by the one and only Scoop DeVille, giving out that Get Busy vibe. The S.O.B. crew eases into the album with what seems like an effortless flow, easily ripping apart metaphors and riding an infectious beat you can’t help but nod your head to. But just as you get lulled into the feel of the smoothed out track, the second track rushes in and lets you know these boys came to get down and if you are coming along for the ride, you had better get ready. The track Hard, is just that, hard as hell. Featuring production from the late J. Dilla, you can also catch this beat on Jay Dee’s Rebirth Of Detroit that dropped earlier this year. Hearing S.O.B. go in on this beat solidifies why I will ALWAYS  check for any collaborations between artists from Cali and Detroit. I don’t know what it is about these two places, but whenever they get together it’s bound to be a problem.

                As the album plays through, each song seems to showcase a sound from one of their many affiliations. The monstrous track, Shut Everything Down, sounds like a Demigodz posse cut, while Apathy flexes his production finesse, flipping the most random sample into a one-of-a-kind banger a la Get Busy Committee on the track Dumb It Down.

                As an added treat, Reseda Beach comes with an album’s worth of songs (a second disc for you physical cats). This comes as a collection of three unreleased tracks and the songs from their 2010 mixtape Razor Tag with DJ Green Lantern without the blends, scratches, and voice-overs. These songs offer the uninitiated a glimpse into the skill that is Styles Of Beyond and is a welcomed inclusion for anyone that missed the mixtape. Check the track Hey You feat. Mike Shinoda for a little of that Fort Minor flow and Savin’ L.A. feat. Bishop Lamont  for another Apathy laced ode to Cali. Better yet, just play the whole damn thing.

                Boasting an all-star roster of guest emcees and producers, Styles Of Beyond kick it into high gear and put up another “W” for the Fresh Coast. Styles Of Beyond proves you can take your craft serious without taking yourself too serious. Reseda Beach is bonafide. I’m betting you don’t have much in you library that sounds like this. You should do something about that.

                Okay…………..NOW you can go and cop the album.


23 October 2012

Dom Kennedy's, OPM: Young Nation Compilation mixtape review

West Side get the money! We at the Best In the Mix (excluding myself) have come to the conclusion that the two cities running the lyrical game in hip-hop is Detroit and the other being California. Well this artist just so happens to be from Cali and he goes by the name of Dom Kennedy. Dom Kennedy is one of my favorite artists out if not, my favorite artist. He recently dropped the Yellow Album in June and it was a CLASSIC! That mixtape had features from Too $hort, Freddie Gibbs, and Rick Ross. Dom is a mellow artist that is about his player shit but he does not disappoint. He recently dropped a compilation album as the captain of OPM Company (Other People’s Money). This mixtape was produced by a combination of Polyester, Dom Kennedy, and Archie Davis. Archie Davis has been with Dom’s camp for a while and I love what he makes. The whole OPM clique is Dom Kennedy, Jay 305, Niko G4, Polyester, Zeke, and Joyce.

The Compilation starts off with “A real One,” by Zeke featuring Jay 305, Polyester, and Dom K. The main concept of the song is these guys looking for a real girl with of course their own standards or attributes that they want. The instrumental places you in that California mindset, as does the whole mixtape’s instrumentals. Zeke’s voice on the track is very smooth and you can tell he is trying to serenade whatever girl he is talking to, while at the same time doing it with style so you don’t get the misconception that he is trying to Beg like Keith Sweat.

The next track is “Everything You Wanted (Be Happy)” with only Dom on it. Dom comes on all of his tracks with his player shit, which makes me thinks that he might have some Detroit in him. Not to be a major cosign-er but this dude this fresh and everything he says is cool, like he could con his way into getting into heaven if he was condemned to hell. A snippet of his lyrics are, “You might can’t be my main girl/ you can smoke something with me doe/ These might not be yo first drugs/I might not be yo first love/ That’s Chanel in yo purse huh?/ Oh you need a ride to work huh?/ Them lil shorts with the booty out/ Oh it’s looking like a movie now/ I think she wanna do me now/ We did it big in the Jacuzzi BOW/ That’s how it sound when its skeeted out/ And then she asked if I can eat it out…” If you don’t like the lyrics written out, that means you need to go download it and LISTEN to it! You can catch Dom in his prime player mode with the lyrics that he spits on this track.

Another member of OPM, Niko G4, leads off “Notorious” featuring Dom Kennedy, describes in his verse of what he has now when before when his mother couldn't afford cable. Life is better now for him and he is looking back and reminiscing when his camp was plotting to get here in the game. Dom approaches his verse with apathy, making it sound so easy like he isn’t even trying to rap which is his most noted style and describes who he is as a rapper.

One of my favorite tracks on this jawn is “All We Have,” by Joyce featuring Casey Veggies and Marz Lovejoy. Joyce’s voice reminds me of the old school Monica in “Don’t take it personal (Just One of Dem Days).” This is a very smooth and subtle track describing the love she has for her mate and how their love makes her feel like a little girl. Casey Veggies if you know of his flow, just rides the beat. He simply just wants his girl to have trust and confide in him but he’s saying this while he’s in her womb.  I have never heard of Marz LoveJoy but I like her on this track. Her verse is more from a realist perspective, she doesn't sugar-coat the relationship problems she is having; and if today is goodbye, she hopes to have a better sequel. This is definitely a track with meaning and if you love someone, this is definitely a track you should play for that someone (mainly listen to Joyce’s part LOL).

This project is FIRE!!!!!! I definitely suggest you download this if you ‘re into that old school West Coast Hip-Hop sound. This is the first OPM Compilation joint, however Dom Kennedy is on a lot of the tracks but it’s okay because he is the captain of the camp and the best artist. The mixtape also features Juicy J and Tyga (Tyga isn’t a reason to get this but he actually does well on the remix to “My type of Party”). If you haven’t heard any of Dom Kennedy’s music it would behoove your eardrums to do so. The Yellow Album is a solo project that I’m pretty sure would make a listener tap into some more Dom like, From The West$ide With Love I & II, or “The Original Dom Kennedy.” Make way for the whole OPM camp because they are making major moves so don’t be surprised when they come to your city….

And they are coming to my city and I already have my ticket! “OPM TILL IT’S OVER!”

22 October 2012

REVIEW: Kendrick Lamar: good kid m.A.A.d. city

When you look at the state of Hip-hop and where it has been going over the past decade, you notice that every year it branches off in a completely new direction. One may say that the divide began after the death of Tupac Shakur in 1996, when it became acceptable to get "Jiggy" and rock shiny suits. Back then you had two choices, either fall in line with the circus headlined by Puffy, or stick to the essence that you had grown up on.

Your choices are far more broad in 2012, as the genre has evolved and expanded in so many different directions it has become difficult to label certain artists, and nearly impossible to keep up with new acts. One reason it's hard to follow newcomers is because so many artists have taken the independent route in order to maintain a level of integrity with their music that would otherwise be sacrificed if put in the wrong major label situation. The struggle nowadays has come down to, 'How do I acheive success on a grand scale while at the same time not losing myself in the whirlpool of the mainstream?'

Kendrick Lamar tackles this very issue masterfully with his major label debut album "good kid m.A.A.d. city," which is presented as a cinematic journey through his life growing up as a youth in Compton. It begins with K.Dot using his mother's van (which is also the cover art for the deluxe version of the album) to go see a girl he was involved with named Sherane. As he pulls up to her house, he sees two dudes with hoodies on waiting for him, and then the album segues to a voicemail from his mother warning him to stay away from her "crazy ass."

The heads-up from his mother leads into the first standout track on the album "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe," where Kendrick gets busy with his consistently inconsistent cadences over a relaxed Section.80-esque beat. His ever-changing flows are, in fact, the staple of what keeps fans tuned in, even if the lyrics fly over your head at first. It's this type of song that defines Kendrick Lamar, and reinforces what fans already know about his music. It almost plays it safe, which is fine as it is only the 2nd track in this short (audio) film. The strongest line in the song "I'm tryna keep it alive and not compromise the feeling we love / you're trying to keep it deprived and only cosign what radio does" shows exactly what Kendrick is trying to accomplish with this album.

The basis of this album is illustrated on this next track "The Art of Peer Pressure," where Kendrick gives you a first class ticket on how his boys used to influence him into acting wreckless throughout the city knowing good and well he would not have done half of what they got into if he was by himself.  The first minute of the song eases you in to his story with a light-hearted beat while Kendrick sings about how they would pre-game before hitting the streets, and how his mother warned him about getting burned out eventually. Then, with a Bohemian twist, the beat switches to a dark theme as K.Dot and his boys load up in a car to rob someone's house and narrowly escape without getting caught by the people that lived there, as well as the cops. It ends with the crew bragging about their recent heist, while smoking a couple blunts. Kendrick mistakingly hits a blunt laced with cocaine and angel dust, which is the "A.d." part of "m.A.A.d" in the album's title.

The original leader of Black Hippy, Jay Rock, joins Kendrick on the track "Money Trees," but it's the next track where the album truly begins to shine. The Drake-assisted Janet Jackson-sampled "Poetic Justice" is an absolute banger. One that true K.Dot fans and radio heads alike can appreciate. It's songs like this that show Kendrick is ready to tackle both sides of the fence. He proves that it's not impossible to make music that appeals to everyone without sounding like you've sold your soul for the almighty dollar.

When the song concludes, you find Kendrick back in front of Sherane's house with two guys in hoodies. It leads into the next track "Good Kid," which is a stellar re-telling of how his chick set him up to get beat down just because he didn't rep that red or blue flag. The following track "M.A.A.D." city expands on this premise of how he grew up living right in the middle of the Blood and Crip madness within his city.

After smoothing things out with an extended version of Swimming Pools, Kendrick delves into "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst." The first half of this 12 minute song is told from the perspective of a gang banger whose brother was just killed, and the perspective of Keisha's sister, the prostitute from "No Makeup" and "Keisha's Song" off Section.80. Flawlessly jumping from character to character, if you lack a strong Hip-hop ear, you might think Kendrick is speaking from his own perspective. In reality, he's simply telling more stories of situations he's grown up around. There is so much rewind-worthy lyricism throughout this album that you are often challenged with trying to follow this "movie," while at the same time catching every stellar verse he spits.

There's a thin line between underground and mainstream that has been buried by 15 years of garbage truck juice and younger generations simply forgetting when Hip-hop existed as one unified entity. Kendrick Lamar removes the curtain that has blocked this union and incinerates it with rapid fire flows and masterful lyricism that simply does not exist in the realm he is now trying to conquer. Only time will tell how this album stacks up to the G.O.A.T.'s, but you couldn't have asked for a better first effort from this kid.

There's a pic of a BITM crew member holding two copies of this album above. It may seem like we are obsessed with this cat, but that's not it at all. There's just been a huge void in the game where an artist can appeal to more than just one side without alienating another. I feel like Kendrick has conquered this obstacle and surpassed it with this amazing debut.

The good kid from a mad city of Compton has placed his first true stamp on the game.

The question is, do the masses have the capacity to embrace an artist who refuses to dumb down his craft to catch their ear?

~ TwonJohnson

TWITTER: @Twon_Johnson

GMAIL: antoine.thorn@gmail.com

21 October 2012

‘Real’ Hip Hop’s Savior?

Tomorrow is a pretty monumental day for hip hop. At least it is if you listen to Twon Johnson and myself. Kendrick Lamar is dropping his debut major label release good kid, m.A.A.d city on tomorrow and Twon and I are geeked. First, let me post some thoughts that Twon Johnson had about the state of hip-hop this morning.

Twon: The state of underground hiphop is fine. The state of mainstream hip hop is in shambles. I am just kinda hoping this is the beginning of the lines being blurred between the two again. All depends on whether or not his album sells any units…which it probably wont, but I will still be first in line on monday to support the brotha...
One person cant save (hip hop) alone, but he sure can inspire the next generation of rappers and radio-only heads to support (or create) something other than bubblicious bubble yum hip-POP. The gap in quality between the two is wider than its ever been. Even Kanye, who introduced cats like Lupe to the radio world, has dumbed it down severely. So thats all (I’m) hoping for. Kendrick has already slayed the underground. Let's see if he can make an impact on the other side of the game.

That pretty much sums it up. The Irish Ninja disagrees concerning the current state of the game, but his thoughts run fairly parallel to ours concerning the hopes we have for the industry. Sure, we’re all mostly anti Wacka Flocka Lame and Future here (Ra’z REALLY dislikes Future), but we do realize that these cats are pushing units because people are buying them. The industry honchos push theses acts on us because they know that we, the listeners, will support it. If we don’t demand more (of what we perceive as) quality, then we won’t get it. Personally, even though I don’t like Gucci Mane and Yo Gotti, I can’t really knock others for listening to them. They don’t know what else is out there. They only listen to the radio, unfortunately. Where’s the intelligent conversations about our music? That’s why this week is so important to the crew at BITM. This is why we’re here. The Irish Ninja summed up the preceding thought perfectly.

Irish Ninja: I'm not the biggest fan of mainstream, but I wouldn't say it's in shambles. I will say a lot of those cats sound the same because that's what was/is selling.  If K. does move units, maybe it will be enough for major labels to back something other than strictly ass shaking, super bling, trap rap. In the same breath though, listeners today are mostly straight lazy. Waiting for the radio to keep you up to date or solely waiting for a couple people you watch for to drop something is some (bullshit)...Too many people know the same few names these days and don't bother to see if the status quo is missing something.


Please support the release tomorrow. I mean, legally support the release. If you’re not keen on who Kendrick Lamar is, peep this track. He’s first up to bat. The Niftian, out...

18 October 2012

Rants by Ra'z: Ignorance In Hip-Hop

What is wrong with the fickle fans of hip hop in today’s world? I mean what level of ignorance does the audience stoop to when you reject one of the best blessings to the mic in this newer era of Hip-Hop? On October 9, 2012, I was disgusted with the rejection that Kendrick Lamar received at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. Kendrick Lamar is a TRUUU lyricist and only a fool would be blind to it. This is more than just a rant from Ra’z; this is a voice speaking that fickle fans are killing Hip-Hop.

Not everyone in that audience was among the general caucus of people who rejected Kendrick but there was more than enough. I just don’t understand why there are “artists” like Future or Soulja Boy who are glorified for their lack of depth in their rhymes, but someone with the lyrical prowess like Kendrick is rejected.  Everyone is entitled to their ratchet music that gets them hype, but let’s not get carried away with who we chose to appreciate more. I exclusively stated in my bio that is what I want to prevent in today’s hip-hop society; “Too much of the younger generation has collapsed to the dumbed down and incompetent sector of commercial Hip-Hop/Rap.

“ To me personally, it sets me ablaze when ignorance prevails especially with this subject, but ignorance is bliss. To anyone reading this, I appreciate it, because you must know that BITM supports artists like Kendrick Lamar that are represent real hip-hop. You have now been part of rants by Ra’z.


16 October 2012

REVIEW: LL Cool J - Ratchet

"It's time to get rid of yo ratchet ass..."

Well alrigh. James up here talkin like he still in the game or somethin. I feel like this man is on a never-ending quest to remain in his 20s regardless of how many alien nation-esque age spots he coverin up underneath them damn fitteds.

Earlier this month, James Todd Smith, (formerly?) known as LL Cool J, released a new teaser track off his upcoming album "Authentic Hip-Hop" called "Ratchet." It's a self-explanitory title that, in my opinion, came at a rather opportune moment when you think of the state of females within urban culture. Even though LL has never been a "political" rapper, one could draw comparisons from this song to Lupe Fiasco's "Bitch Bad," in the sense that both songs are the antithesis of current chart topping urban music that glorifies ratchet behavior.

On the surface, though, the differences between the songs are more than blatant. LL stays in his lane on this track, and basically tells you a story of a ratchet chick that was "servicing" him, and how the woman, in true hoodrat fashion, starts begging for money afterward. A simple enough premise, I suppose, but the real issues with this song rear their ugly head early and often.

The beat starts off, and you may find yourself nodding your head a bit. Then you hear a couple LL adlibs, that are fitting. After that, you hear what is quite possibly the dumbest sounding hook ever recorded in the history of music.  "She's so ratchet, she's so ratchet, somethin somethin somethin somethin." When you hear chorus lines like this, it makes you wonder were these people REALLY noddin their heads to this shit in the studio like it was hot? I just don't see how it's possible to think that hook is acceptable. How could LL allow shit like this? And more importantly, what is this man even ABOUT anymore?

I wanted to enjoy this track, I truly did. And at times, the song is more than tolerable. But once LL's flow falls off harder than the hook, the entire song becomes unbearable to listen to .

In some people's eyes, LL Cool J may still be the BEST to ever do it, but if you are going to continue to release music nearly 30 years after you made your mark in the game and have no intentions of showing any growth as an artist, it becomes increasingly difficult to ride with you. Especially when there are a gang of youngins between the ages of 17 and 25 who are making music far superior.

Let the BITM crew know what you think of this "comeback" track here.

~ TwonJohnson

TWITTER - @Twon_Johnson
EMAIL - antoine.thorn@gmail.com

And uh....my facebook...uh...no longer exists. RIP. 2006-2012.

15 October 2012

Have You Heard: Latest Releases

MAAAN!! There has been a steady flow of some seriously good music since the last time I talked with y'all  This post went from a simple album  review to me just spilling my guts on some of what I think have been the best drops to happen in about a month or so. Hopefully, some of these I'm getting ready to hit you with are old news for you. If not, then just sit back and let me fill you in what’s got my ears buzzing something serious as of late.

evitaNSpeed Of Life: This release caught me totally off guard. Sinnamon Love had been talking about this album on Twitter,as well as her Sex, Love and Hip Hop internet radio show(Shout out to the lovely Sinnamon). After doing a little digging on my own, I found out that the evitaN is a collaboration between Jarobi, one of the original ATCQ members, and the one and only Dres from Black Sheep. Both groups were part of the Native Tongues collective that had a strong foothold in the 90’s (Which is where I assume the group based their name from). Listening to these pioneers rip mics like they never lost a step is refreshing. There is also no signs of them trying to reinvent their sounds to appeal to a younger crowd; they are just doing what they know best, and they are doing a damn good job. Truth be told, this was the first time I had heard Jarobi spit. I didn't even know of Jarobi’s existence until the ATCQ documentary dropped a few months back, but trust me, dude’s got flow. This album is a bright spot for those of us that grew up with Native Tongues and serves as an introduction to a new generation trying to learn why we love our pioneers so much. If you want a little taste of what evitaN is blessing you with, jump to the tracks Keep Keeping On, and 3 Kings Feat Sadat X. You can cop this on Amazon or iTunes.

Ground UpSupernatural:  This is one of the crews I told you to keep an eye on a while back and true to form, their latest mixtape does not disappoint. On their 11th mixtape, the Philly crew shows an evolution in both style and production.  MC Azar continues to shine lyrically, easily massacring any beat he lays vocals to. MC  Malakai has an offbeat flow he seems to perfect a little more with each release  and this is  evident throughout these tracks. Bij Lincs, the in house producer, is still working magic on the boards on tracks, check the tracks Chinchilla and I Remember.  Mike Jerz  produced some tracks for this release as well. I don't know what it is when Ground Up and Mike Jerz team up, but the results are always dope as hell. Check their work on 8th Grade and Whenever.  Keep an ear out for your boy Jerz too, he has probably laced some of your favorite tracks and you probably don't even know it yet. Follow this jump for the download.

Brother AliMourning in America and Dreaming in Color:  If you don't know about this one yet, I feel sorry for your loss. Brother Ali’s latest is best described as funky ass protest music. This album was produced solely by Jake One, who has production credits ranging from: 50 Cent to De La Soul to Vast Aire. This album is a perfect marriage between carefully constructed beats and carefully constructed, powerful lyrics. Brother Ali really is on his Public Enemy mode  on this album. Go listen to  Gather Round or Namesake and you can hear what I mean.  And for real, if you can't listen to the track  My Beloved and think of someone you want to dedicate it to, you have some emotional issues you need to address. You can cop this from iTunes or Amazon.

ApathyThe Alien Tongue and Fire Walk With Me: It’s The Bootleg Muthafuckas! Vol.3: Apathy is not a newcomer by any sense of the word. This monster has been ripping mics since the 90s and this double release serves as a crash course in his evolution as an MC. The Alien Tongue is a collection of songs and guest spots from his beginnings. Thick with sci-fi references and other worldly metaphors, these songs are a perfect snapshot of the underground movement in hip hop spanning from 1994 – 1999. Even if Apathy’s abstract style and subject matter was not your cup of tea, there was no doubt he had skill.

Fast forward to present time.

Fire Walk With Me is a collection of freestyles and unreleased tracks from Apathy in more recent years. Listening to Fire Walk With Me and The Alien Tongue as a set, it is insane how Apathy has evolved as an MC. Whether ripping over Jockin' Jay-Z (Jockin' AP) or contributing to an ode to St. Patty’s Day, O’Doyle Rules Apathy proves if you've been sleeping on him, you've missed out on over a decade of good hip hop.

Both of these are available on iTunes and Amazon.


  Talib Kweli & DJ Z-Trip -  Attack The Block Mixtape:  Honestly, there is no reason anyone reading this shouldn’t have downloaded  this by now. This mixtape has an insane roster: Ryan Leslie, Ace Hood, Planet Asia, Skyzoo , Black Thought,  Ab-Soul and plenty more. Hell, even John Forte and Greg Nice showed out. If you have this already, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If not, then just follow this jump and turn it up. 

No seriously.....go download it now.


Skyzoo’s A Dream Deferred is arguably one of the best albums out right now. With production from: 9th Wonder, Jahlil Beats, Black Milk  and more, Skyzoo gives a solid follow up to 2009’s The Salvation. Skyzoo has consistently put out quality tracks and this album is no exception. Between The Salvation  and  A Dream Deferred Skyzoo is definitely cementing himself as one of the best around right now. Two things that really won me over on this album is the track The Knowing; the girl that sings the hook, Jessy Wilson, kills it. My other high point was hearing the track Spike Lee Was My Hero and hearing the sample Stalley used on his 330 track put to better use. This release is available on iTunes and Amazon.

There have been plenty more releases than what I have up here but these are what have been getting the most play in my iPod lately. This year is nowhere near done and with albums coming soon from: Guilty Simpson & Apollo Brown, 9th Wonder & Murs, Talib Kweli, Styles Of Beyond, and a collaboration between Wu Tang and the The Lox due before the year’s out, I'm sure there will plenty more to tell you about. Now go check some of these out, I bet you'll find something you like.   Deuces.

12 October 2012

Back on YouTube!

It's been a while-almost a year, in fact- since I've produced any videos for YouTube. Well, we're back! This one isn't really BITM related. Just a vid to showcase the various sites of Nifty World. Enjoy and comment. There'll be more!

10 October 2012

New Music: Chance Fischer X Salutations

If someone were to ask me to describe Chance Fischer in one word, it would be "smart." I actually mean that in a couple of different ways, too. His lyrics are smart: "Hip hop royalty/ Motherfuck a bloodline/ cuz I don't pop five or soo-woo for a punchline" and he doesn't have to. In between discussing Hermes fashion and mythology, Chance takes the listener on an aural journey akin to Ghostface with less hood in his second single off the upcoming album Friends.Romans.Collegemen. Hell, even the album title is smart.

He dresses smart, rarely seen without his crown and blazer, showcasing a style that fits him comfortably and isn't full of unnecessary bravado. His mannerisms are on point and his lyrical prowess is as keen as the tips of the crown that he rightfully wears. Yes, literally: he really does wear a crown on his head. An actual crown that, once his lyrics are heard and his energy is felt on stage, seems as normal atop his dome as the mic seems in his hand. The first time you see him, you may think him odd. The second, you think him righteous. Peep the following press release for the new single and download the track. Two middle fingers up! The Niftian, out...


Exultant. Unapologetic. Titanic. Raw. SALUTATIONS, the second single from Chance Fischer's upcoming album Friends.Romans.Collegemen., introduces the 22-year-old Richmond rapper as a vigilante wordsmith - unimpressed by current leaders in music. Producers Denero & Matt Campfield's triumphant drum cadences bolt across infectious synths and agonizing choral chants, as Chance fluently dispels any regard for competition. Following the Conrizzle-produced POMPEII, SALUTATIONS' brash display of lyricism establishes Fischer as an unstoppable musical force.

09 October 2012

Interview: Hype

I know I'm throwing a lot of material at y'all this week, but this is my attempt at covering up for the lost time we had last week. Things were slow but that's no excuse for leaving you, the reader, out in the cold. So with that being said, we have another interview for y'all. Today we have an emcee from the 757. I first heard him through a mutual associate and decided to reach out and give him a more intense listen. He's got a lot to say so read on...
Best In The Mix: First up, introduce yourself to the masses...

Hype: Hello world I go by the name of Hype and every bar that I write helps reignite hip hops electrolytes.

BITM: Alright, that's a hell of a way to get the ball rolling! What inspired you to start rhyming?
H: One day I was bored listening to instrumentals and my cousins kept asking why do I keep playing beats all day if I'm not going to write to them so that's how it began. Now when I wrote my first rhymes they had found my rhyme book and clowned me for that whole day (lol) that in fact almost ended my career before it began because I was like damn I suck (lol). I'm thankful though that I don't like giving up easily otherwise I'd probably be...eh, never mind that doesn't matter.
BITM: O...kay. Well, it's a good thing that you didn't give up. Despite the clownage, what changed your mind and inspired you to seriously pursue the rap game?

H: It was multiple situations that invited me to see how far I can possibly go with this career. God kept opening up new opportunities for me to explore and new doors to walk through every time I had prayed asking if this is the right career for me. I was originally going to stop rapping after my Anger Management 3 mixtape...actually before I even dropped the first Anger Management tape I had thought about retiring from this art because bills were piling up and I wasn't making money or getting to the position I wanted to be in at the time. Now I’m learning that nothing happens overnight and that a lot of sacrifice is required to really achieve whatever it is you want in life. So I'm not going anywhere for a hot minute.

BITM: Man, that’s something that I’ve told numerous young men and women stepping into the arena of music. If you truly want it, you have to work at it. If it’s meant to be, it’ll come up, but it may take a long ass time. How much effort, time and patience you put up is up to you. Outside of learning to be patient, what has been the hardest part about trying to break in?

H: Man I can go in all day on this but I'm going to keep it simple with these two topics: money and support. Actually getting the money necessary (legally) to make the moves you need to make to advance in this game. A lot of artist don't understand that it takes money to make money; can't be cheap in this industry. And last but certainly not least is getting support from people, ESPECIALLY from other artists. It's tough emotionally for me sometimes because it feels like I have to pull an arm and a leg to get people I know and are supposed to be cool with to check out my music and let me know how they honestly feel about it. Yet when an already established industry artist drops their mixtape or a new video or whatever, they are all over it posting it all over Facebook, tweeting about it on Twitter and yet when I ask them have they peeped my material out I get the "nah man my fault I've been busy" reply and it annoys me to the point where I've almost done diss records about people who have done that to me. Another big plague is artist having too much pride, too big of an ego to collab with somebody that may be as talented or even better than they are. Too many artist want to be that top guy to do everything by themselves and get all the spotlight or whatever. It takes a massive amount of support to make an impact in this business this whole crab in a bucket mentality WILL GET YOU NOWHERE but stuck being a pissed of rapper who never made it (Eminem voice lol).

BITM: That’s life right there, though. Hell, I’ve encountered the same lack of support with getting Nifty World off the ground. You just have to realize that not everyone has your best interest at heart or even gives a damn. A lot of people are ‘word of mouth’ breathers and don’t back up their words with actions. However, you keep honing your craft and reaching out, eventually someone with clout will come by and help you out. “It’s not always what you know, but who you know.” Let’s say you find your success, where do you want to see yourself in five years?

H: An established artist, turned actor, comedian, or whatever. I want to branch out and do more than just rap my entire life, I see other artist doing it and I was thinking if they can do it then eff it, so can I.

BITM: Groovy, nothing like having a backup plan or an alternate idea. Alright, let’s talk inspiration: who are your top five favorite rappers?

H: Eminem, Ludacris, Lupe Fiasco, Royce 5'9, and I'm going to ease Nas in there.

BITM: You don’t have to ease him in; Nas deserves a top spot in lists, ha! Alright, what are you currently working on?

H: My first and long overdue album Believe The Hype, my Group Therapy 2 collab mixtape and another group mixtape I don't want to quite reveal yet but keep a look out. *Birdman hand rubs and nods head*

BITM: Ha, ok. Although a crude businessman, Birdman isn’t a bad model for hustler in hip-hop. We’ll make sure to look out for those projects. Speaking of projects, you were already a few tapes deep into your Anger Management series. Describe that movement for us...

H: Man the Anger Management series is my pride and joy so far I cannot lie to you. I love that series like men love women. That is like my personal audio journal where I can personally just vent and get what I need to say off my chest without a fist or two flying your direction afterwards lol. The first Anger Management tape I was unemployed for 5 months basically the whole summer of that year I was broke. It was a real rough time for me and I had to get this pain out of me the best way I knew how. But the actual idea for the mixtape name came from me watching the Anger Management movie with Adam Sandler and got some skit ideas then really thought to myself “Yo, I can use this as my therapy while maintaining my colorful personality and being serious at the same damn time (Future voice).” I will say to people if you want to really get to know me personally listen to the first three Anger Managements and Rebirth and you will have a good understanding on what type of person I really am. Out of the 4 of that particular series Anger Management 3 and 4 are in close competition with each other for being the best tape. I also love how each tape shows growth in my skills whether it's better quality or lyrics I have improved GREATLY from how I used to sound like. I don't really care about being the best because music is mostly opinionated or whatever, HOWEVER if you play my music with 65% of your average unsigned artist my music will stand out. Now if we are just talking in VA I will boost that number up to 90% lol. I'm just saying man, too many artist sound like the next man and I will keep it at that...for now. *Kanye shrugs

BITM: At least you’re passionate about your stuff. What big things can we expect to see from you in the next six months?

H: Growth in fan base and maturity in music. I don't think I've quite reached my peak yet and I'm ready to see how far I can go with this.

BITM: How would you describe your style of emceeing?

H: I'm pretty witty (did not mean to rhyme lol) I'm a lyrical punchline type rapper I often get compared to an early Eminem or Royce 5'9 I can be serious, cocky, arrogant, sad, funny; I am very diverse. The reason why this is so important is because when I rap you get MY ideas, MY thoughts, MY lyrics not my persona...what people don't quite realize yet is that this is not an act I am really this spontaneous when it comes to my emotions. When I'm acting like an ass on a song just sounding cocky that is how I am. When I do a serious relationship themed song that is my real feelings whether ignorant, harsh sounding or even heartbreaking as it may be, it is me. I just go by Hype to have an interesting rap name. I am the perfect example of why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Remember that and you'll do fine.

BITM: I can definitely respect that. Too many artists out here are trying to be something or someone that they are not. It’s actually really annoying. Ok, so is there anyone else the streets should be on the lookout for?

H: My go to artists when it comes to a hot 16, 24, or even 32 are Vizion, Kid Cardi, Loko, Scribe. Also want to mention The Coup they are doing their thing right now grinding hard with these videos supplying people with what they need as far as good music. My dude B Beck also making some noise producing Travis Porters “Aww Yea” and even though I don't know him like I do others I just named he is a humble, sincere person and I wish even more success for him. Also my man Nick new podcast coming soon titled Slick Radio. And last but not least my newly formed group I am proud and honored to be recruited in: Dream Killers. I can't forget my new music family. Expect to be hearing a lot from us REAL SOON. If I forgot you my bad and get over it lol, It's not that serious to be annoyed over.

BITM: That’s what’s up. That’s a hell of a list, but I know for a fact that there are a lot of acts out here who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve, so that’s a good look. I can also attest for that Loko cat that you mentioned. Straight skills right there! Alright, the floor is yours. Any last words?

H: I wanna thank Best In The Mix for even thinking of having me do an interview. I wasn't expecting this at all but I appreciate the love shown. I also do want to thank everyone who has supported me so far in my career from the bottom of my heart it does mean a lot to me. Oh and follow me on Twitter at @ThisisHype757 and @ItsHype_757. Now the ThisisHype page is more business and networking the other is my personal page. Also if you haven't checked it out http://musicismyweapon.bandcamp.com/album/anger-management-4 that's my AM4 tape and http://www.datpiff.com/profile/THEHYPEMAN757/mixtapes there is the profile that has all my mixtapes on there. Check them out and show some love. Alright that's pretty much it I hope I was entertaining and open enough in this interview for you all to enjoy thank you for your time...ITS HYPE!

Alright, well there you have it, folks. Support a local brother and tell him what you think of his material! Remember, we can't grow if we don't know! The Niftian, out...

08 October 2012

Interview: Tyler Wrighteous

I first heard Tyler Wrighteous at Epic fest 2012 and was blown away by the young artist's lyrical dexterity, his stage presence and his killer flow. I approached him as soon as he stepped off the stage and had to congratulate him on being a menace with a mic. Funny thing is, like Hero The Artist, Wrighteous is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet when the stage lights are off, the mic is unplugged and the fans have closed their tabs at the bar. He truly believes the words that he spits and his lyrics are as honest as they are raw, but he has no reason to bully you or make you think he is some wannabe gangsta OG when he really isn't.
I threw a few questions at Tyler Wrighteous to pick his brain and the following is the result. Enjoy...
Best In The Mix: First up, introduce yourself to the masses... 
Tyler Wrighteous: My mother named me Tyler, I came up with the name Wrighteous. So, I put it together and boom...Tyler Wrighteous. 

BITM: Fair enough. What inspired you to start rhyming? 
TW: Lupe Fiasco's verse on "Touch The Sky." Classic. 
BITM: I can understand that! I hadn't even heard of him before then. I've been a fan of his since the first moment I heard that verse, too. What inspired you to seriously pursue the rap game? 
TW: Just seeing other young talented kids my age working hard and getting recognition for it. If they can do it, why not me?
BITM: True, true. That's one of the selling points of another Nifty World site, www.DoBetterMovement.org, to get out and accomplish grand things. So many people aren't willing to put in the work, though. What has been the hardest part about trying to break in? 
TW: Just trying to get people to check out the music. I don't look like an appealing artist, but I feel the music speaks for itself...and I'm only getting started. All I need is a chance and a little faith. But, I'm not begging. It'll come. 
BITM: You seem to have your head in the right place and at least you're not looking for a handout. Where do you want to see yourself in five years? 
TW: Touring. Making a decent living either as an artist or writing for an upscale blog/magazine.

BITM: Hell, I'd like that for myself! Who are your top five favotite rappers? 
TW: Right now: Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Ryshon Jones, Tokyo Ave (they needed a shoutout) and all time: Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem, A Tribe Called Quest (does that count as 3?)

BITM: Ha! Nah, ATCQ can definitely be classified as one entity. The BITM crew is definitely rocking with Kendrick Lamar as well and can't wait for the album to drop. Our partners at Artistic Manifesto have us anxiously waiting based on their preview. So, what are you currently working on? 
TW: My debut, all-original project...Hall of Mirrors. 
BITM: That's what's up! I play songs off The Nice Guy EP often. How would you describe the recent release... 
TW: It was a very spontaneous release to be honest. I had a couple records I was working on, and it kinda just came together naturally. 

BITM: What big things can we expcect to see from you in the next six months? 
TW: Hopefully some more performance, definitely videos for all 4 records off of "The Nice Guy", hopefully Hall of Mirrors will be out by then. 
BITM: That would definitely be a good look. Those songs are tough and I could only imagine what visuals you have in mind for them. How would you describe your style of emceeing? 
TW: Honest. Individual. Uncompromising. 
BITM: I concur 100%. Anyone else the streets should be on the look out for? 
TW: Ja-P, Era Hardaway, Cello Figaro, Steven Q. 

BITM: Some of those names are new to me, but I will DEF co-sign on Era Hardaway! I'll look out for the others. Alright, the floor is yours. Any last words? 

TW: Long live the Vivids. GLG until they cut off my pinky finger. Finer Arts Department is where I master my craft. I stay on my Ninth Nimbus. Thank you for the love and support thus far. It's only the beginning. I'll see you in the hall...

 There you have it, y'all. I'm telling you, this kid is truth and shouldn't be denied. While he works on his debut LP, peep "The Nice Guy," available to download from http://thatkidwrighteous.bandcamp.com for free. Not only should you support local artists across the globe, you should appreciate good music. The Niftian, out...

Concert Review: Ms Proper @ The Kingdom 6Oct2012

I haven’t had a chance to get out of the house lately, what with working my “normal” job, working on my numerous Nifty World sites, and a host of other duties in my personal and professional lives. That being said, I’d developed a small case of cabin fever lately. So when I heard about a show at The Kingdom in Richmond, Va with the illustrious Ms Proper headlining, I checked my schedule and saw that I was mos def free to attend. And attend I did!

I walked in a few minutes late (CP time in full effect!) and was greeted by a young cat going by the moniker of Rockstar Gunna on stage. I chopped it up with him a little bit after the show but I didn’t get his Twitter or FB handle. I’ll keep y’all updated on his identity because he definitely deserves a listen. I was disappointed in the small crowd size because his lyrics and energy were on fire. However, it was barely nine o’clock in the pm so what can you do, right?

The ONLY problem I had with Gunna’s set was his entourage. The dreaded entourage. This cat had enough energy and stamina for four dudes (*pause*) but he had three peeps on stage with him when I walked in the door. Normally no problem, right? However, one tall ass dude was hovering stage left awkwardly nodding his head in the shadows, another cat was stage right with a mic and another cat was drunkenly misstepping around Gunna. Stage Right man was the hype man, I thought. Nothing wrong there. Drunken Misstep Man was another hype man. Problem. He was constantly in the way and Gunna had to tell him numerous times to get off the stage after a couple songs. I actually felt bad for RSG because some members in the audience were wondering why this clown couldn’t take a hint. Eventually RSG took the mic from him and pointed off stage. I knew what that meant. My boys knew what that meant. Hero the Artist, as nice as he is, knew what that meant. Why didn’t Drunken Misstep Man know? Embarrassing and no way to support your dude. It was definitely distracting. Especially after RSG had to literally *wave* goodbye to this dude for him to get the hint.

Despite that, Rockstar Gunna continued to kill the remainder of his set, even spitting a few bars laid down by who he told me was his sister, who wasn’t able to get to the show on time due to “some shit happening.” Hey, shit happens, right? He still represented over her vocals, which were clear, tight and skilled. I’d love to see her live. Over all, RSG acted and performed like a star: his songs were polished and his flow was tight. He needs better hype men, though. Or just stick with Stage Right Man; he was cool.

I didn’t even get the name of the cat that performed after RSG. I didn’t need to, either. Number two shoulda been number one to me *in my Biggie voice* because this guy was garbage. I don’t fault anyone for having the courage to step up on stage and try to rock the mic, but this guy was a bad attempt at elementary hip-hop. He was brave enough to step to the mic…but he left his skills at home. Or maybe he never had them because two and a half songs in he made the statement “I am not a rapper.” Clearly. Then he went on to spit bad poetry. Moving on…

Three dudes stepped up, going by the name of HaBits. Well, two of them were HaBits and another was a close friend and hype man. These guys? Wow. They stepped up and instantly went into a five minute a cappella freestyle that was bananas! The energy was insane, the skill was outstanding and their flow was undeniable. I swear I thought I was at a Camp Lo concert, it was *that* real. They then went on to another track lamenting the lameness of hip hop (must have been inspired by the guy before them) and I was hooked. They brought their hype man, B Right, center stage and had him give us a little intermission with his song “Smokers Break.” I don’t smoke but even I could feel the lazy level of relaxation that was pumping through the area. It was smooth, laid back and chill. After that we got right back into it. These guys have a promising future. Follow them on Twitter at @allgoodHaBitS.

Mr Yeah of Rated R Radio, the host for the evening, announced a small “praise break” by Ya Boi Tiz, the events DJ. Tiz took it back to the mid and late 90s and early 00s with the hits he played before bringing it to modern day rap for the Livest Fan contest. I don’t think it should be any surprise to anyone that yours truly won the prize: a brand new “www.HipHopMadeMeCool.com” t-shirt courtesy of So Proper Ent. Yea, I gets it in. Tiz was definitely going in. That brother is skilled.

That of course led us to the star of the show: Ms Proper and the So Proper Ent collective. Conci$e played hype man for the evening along with So !LLa and they shut it down! Prop went through a force of hits that had the crowd straight rocking. By this time, the club was full of folk who came to see Ms Proper tear the roof off and she did not disappoint. After performing with the global Doe The Paperboy, Prop called KlĂ©os Jansport to the stage for the fiery anthem “VA Shit,” which saw Prop whip the crowd into a frenzy with the hit off her #NoDaysOff mixtape. Hero The Artist performed and smacked us all silly with his undeniable lyrical mania. The crazy thing about Hero is that he doesn’t look, talk or act like your stereotypical rapper. He’s the nicest guy in the world. You give him a mic, however, and he’ll rip your head off…and you’ll like it. After the tsunami that is Hero, Prop went and stuck her foot in it, blowing the fans away with a fierce performance of her iTunes single “Get It Started.”

Ms Proper paused at one point to talk about a recent interview she had with a local magazine. Apparently they posed the question “Where do you stand in the local hip hop scene?” Her answer was definitive, precise and true. “I’m the queen.” Ms Proper put on one hell of a show like she always does and showed the fans, new and old, why she stands atop the city and is building such a huge fan base up and down the east coast. Hail to the queen.

06 October 2012

Artistic Manifesto X new Killer Mike video

We've teamed up with Artistic Manifesto! The content and urls will stay the same but The Niftian is moving the popular Pioneer Series over there to be featured every Thursday! So yes, you will still get your hip hop lessons (with more regularity) and you will also get to peep another hip hop site! Trust, we're going to put you on the best!

In other news, have you peeped the new video for "Reagan" by Killer Mike? I already told y'all how beast the album is and he finally dropped a video for what is arguably the most controversial and popular song on the album. Peep the knowledge and learn a damn thing or two!