29 April 2013

RANTS: Snoop Lion vs Snoop Dogg vs...Uncle Ruckus?

We here at BITM generally like to keep thangs music related, especially when an artist has recently released a new project, but that's kinda hard to do when an album is ass. As we all know, Snoop is going through a mid-life identity-crisis, and at first everyone seemed to be fine with this (myself included). Enter "Reincarnated," the debut album from Snoop "Lion." As cliche as this comparison may sound, imagine a regular black dude tryna sound Jamaican and failing miserably; this pretty much sums up all eleven shit-tacular tracks on the album. He claims to be channeling the spirit of Bob Marley, and it's evident that's what he was going for, but the job should have been left to an actual Jamaican in my humble opinion.
So instead of wasting my time writing a review about an album no one cares about, I decided to post a 14 minute video of the infamous Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks crashing Snoop's "Double G News Network" (GGN) to further confuse the culturally challenged Snoop Lion on his own show. These 14 minutes are easily more entertaining than any portion of "Reincarnated," and me being a lover of all things music, I feel like this is a huge disappointment.

Snoop's "GGN" brainchild has been in existence for a couple years now, and the majority of the shows are actually pretty good. I would even go so far as to say the YouTube show is better than Snoop's last three albums combined. Has he reached a point in his career where he can simply do whatever he wants and everyone just accepts it (ala Shaq)? Is it even worth critiquing a 20+ year veteran in the game about anything he releases?

These questions wouldn't even be an issue if the album was better. He should have taken notes from Heavy D's reggae album "VIBES" (RIP) and realized it's an impossible feat to pull off successfully as a rapper without actually being from the West Indies (note: Heavy D is Jamaican, and his reggae album is a classic).

Share your thoughts with the BITM crew here, or hit us up on Twitter.



25 April 2013

In Case You Missed It: Dom Kennedy - Yellow Album

Alright Ladies and gentlemen, there are no games to be played here; this is probably my favorite project that dropped of 2012. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t write a review for this when it dropped last June but I wasn’t in my right mind. Dom Kennedy is an artist in my catalog that I feel needs no introduction. Dom has dropped 5 mixtapes and one commercial album prior to the release of his “Yellow Album.” The “Yellow Album” was originally intended to be an album but he decided to just release it as a mixtape. I have referred a lot of friends and hip-hop lovers to Dom Kennedy and this piece of work. The feedback that I received from it was ALL positive. Everyone that started off with this mixtape automatically went to older Dom K songs and fell in love with his lazy California player style music. Songs like “Platinum Chanel,” “Grindin’,’” “Designer Sh*t,” “1997,” and “Nigga 4 Life” ranked among the top favorite Dom Kennedy songs by new listeners. New ears also were appreciative of the OpM All Stars mixtape “Young Nation” which I previously wrote a review on that dropped in October of 2012. The whole West Coast is seriously potent for good music like my bredren Twon Johnson stated in his "How The West Was 'One'" article.

As far as the word fresh goes, Dom’s music and style takes it further. The tracks that Dom goes over, which are mainly produced by Drew Byrd, are not typical in any part of the music business. As stated in a previous Dom Kennedy interview and concert I attended, “I would rather have really dope sounds and instrumentals than to put out a large quantity of music. I like to put effort into the music that I make. It’s great to have a large choice of music as an artist, but I would rather take my time and perfect my craft so people will know I make consistent quality music.”

The first track on today’s agenda is “We Ball” featuring Kendrick Lamar. This track is a celebration. The production was led by Chase N Cashe who outdid his self on this one. The tone is nicely set and Dom rides the track with ease. Now what Kendrick does on his verse is what gets you in trouble with the law. I’ve done 105 mph+ in a family member’s car listening to Kendrick’s verse just because he said he was doing the same. To ice the cake on the song the instrumental keeps going but the beat stops and Ric Flair’s “Real men Stay up” speech is played. The speech personifies the Dom Kennedy’s take on his style; he’s not about the hype.

“My type of party” was a summer jam last year. Leave it to Dom Kennedy to grab another excerpt from a famous celebrity. At the beginning of the song the late Don Cornelius is speaking from one of his soul train shows saying “I wish I had an explanation for the popularity of the man I’m about to introduce but a gift such as his apparently cannot be explained, but it can be felt and enjoyed…” then the beat drops. A few people who doubted him and shunned him for the song but they grew into liking him by respecting the lane he made for himself. I’ve said it before and Dom isn’t like Rakim, musically he descends from Too $hort and Snoop Dogg. If you have listened to Dom K before you know he has a lazy apathetic approach to how he raps. This track seems like it was a fun track to make because I know I had fun partying to it. I know the video had to have been fun to make so I posted it below as a bonus for readers to get a sample of Kennedy’s music.

The next two tracks are personal favorites of mine and people who I have gotten to listen to Dom Kennedy. The first jawn is “Gold Alpinas” featuring Rick Ross. I honestly think Rick Ross didn’t need to be on the track but it seems like he was the perfect person to do the feature. Gold Alpinas is a style of rim that is being envisioned a BMW, and given that Dom raps about player sh*t you can imagine what this song will be about. The song starts and continues till the end with an Aaliyah sample of one word with four different pitches. It is a very laid back song that is tailor made for a lazy flow. “1:25”is an up tempo beat that everyone who has heard it loved it. Dom is talking about real life things and stuff he went through. The main point of the song is hard work and how he has grown in his success. DrewByrd produced both of these songs and perfected them both. If you are not familiar with Mr. Kennedy I highly suggest you begin with these songs.

The Yellow Album was by no means a mixtape in my book. I feel as if this was given away, it was definitely an album that STILL rocks tough. With features from Kendrick Lamar, Too $hort, Rick Ross, Niko G4 and Freddie Gibbs makes this project even better. There honestly has not been one person that I introduced to Dom Kennedy that has turned him down. Hopefully I retain this record among new listeners. Dom also has a new album dropping in the summer titled “Get Home Safely,” so be on the lookout for that and a review on it!

Hit me at @_KJTheGreat, @BestInTheMix or kjohnsonk14@gmail.com

Things Fall Apart

First let me start off by congratulating The Roots on the coveted platinum status for their classic Things Fall Apart album. That is not my issue. My issue is with the severe disconnect with what the "platinum" accolade actually means. Does it mean that now, a dozen years later, that The Roots can finally say they are one of the best hip-hop groups (and really, it took 12 years for this to happen?!)? Most of the time when the "who is the greatest" debate comes up, I see people turn to album sales. I've been in these arguments first hand (uall know who you are). As well as seeing this argument come up on every single time on hip-hop threads throughout the internet.

A classic example was the whole Nas/Jay-Z beef. I was a freshman in college when this drama was at its pinnacle. EVERYONE chose a side. All the radio stations and blogs where blowing up with people voicing their opinions. I sided with The God Son so I would hear this argument all the time: But who sold more albums though?! Of course there was no gray area, Hov sold more in 5 years than Nas did in 10. Lyrically I felt Nas was a better emcee (and still do) even though Jay had more commercial success. But then there was Ether. Yes, Jay-Z's Takeover addressed Nas, but he really only went in on one verse. And of course his "freestyle" Super Ugly track was a big meh. But Mr.Carter is a grown ass man. No one told him to pen such a mediocre retort. So head to head, mano y mano, commercial success means nada. All you get is one mic. But even now people don't feel this battle is settled. This debate continues and probably will continue to do so. It all depends on who you ask. There might not be a wrong answer (but I think you wrong if you pick not-Nas) but I feel emcees need to be pinned lyrics to lyrics. Not "hottest track" or "most radio plays". And definitely not an "MTV/BET list".

Back to The Roots. They are unquestionably the greatest hip-hop band. Some would even put Black Thought in their top 10 emcees list (TwonJonson!). But commercial success was never the goal. In the Hip-Hop on Trial debate ?uestlove said that The Roots are viewed as the "standard..of what's correct about hip-hop". They are not commercial or mainstream. And they choose not to be. While Nas has had platinum albums, he is never going to be grouped in with the success list of the Lil Waynes, Eminems or Jay-Zs. Like Nas, The Roots fall back on what they feel is a successful career. Staying true to the core values of hip-hop: the emcee and the dj.  If album sales were the only thing that mattered then our "greatest of all time" list would need the addition of: MC Hammer, Will Smith (not Fresh Prince Will, but Big Willie Style Will), Nelly, Puff Daddy (even if it was Diddy, still wouldn't matter) and of course Vanilla Ice.

24 April 2013

SINGLE: Ab-Soul ft. Mac Miller - The End Is Near

As Kendrick Lamar basks in the limelight, his TDE brethren have been sharpening their lyrical blades in the background waiting for the perfect opportunity to make their presence felt. Jay Rock claims to be re-discovering his sound, while ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul continue to put in work on their latest projects.

To quell the demand from his ever-growing fanbase, Ab-Soul released a track earlier today featuring Mac Miller called "The End Is Near." I have never been a huge fan of Mac, but he holds his own. The song could very well have done without a feature though, because the beat sounds like what we've come to expect from a Soulo record. It's unknown whether or not this song will appear on Ab's new project, but personally I hope it doesn't. Nothing wrong with tossing out a few tracks every now and then to keep fans happy.

Peep the link below and let us know what yall think! Is Mac Miller as annoying to yall as he is to me? I mean he is lyrical, but his words are lost behind his pre-pubescent vocals.

Ab-Soul ft. Mac Miller - The End Is Near

Hit up the BITM crew on twitter @BestInTheMix and @TwonJonson

10 April 2013

VIDEO: J Cole - Power Trip ft Miguel

In the rap game we are used to having album release dates pushed back for one reason or another. But if we go by the all reliable Twitter, we now know J Cole's highly anticipated sophomore studio album Born Sinner will drop June 25th. But even if we ignore his critically acclaimed mixtapes and just focus on his debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story, one could make the case for Jermaine as being one of the "best up and coming emcees" in the game (or whatever title you want to give them).

His second single Power Trip features Miguel on the hook (as well as J Cole himself) which is essentially Dreams (off of The Warm Up) part 2. In Dreams J Cole fantasizes about a girl who already has a man, a la LL COOL J's Hey Lover. But his day dreaming turns into a nightmare as he plots to kill the boyfriend.

Power Trip is a bit more subtle but still evokes the same strong raw emotion. He even eludes to the previous track with the line: "I even wrote the song Dreams for you". We assume he is still talking about the same girl and even though he is now a celebrity, he still fantasizes about being with her. While this song is not as direct as Dreams, the video really makes the connection between the two tracks. So peep, and let us know what you think.

09 April 2013

DISCUSSION: "I Hit It First" - Ray J


I honestly don't know where to start. I mean, I'm used to celebs sticking their theoretical feet in their mouths and thinking they're eating chocolate cake, but sometimes someone does something so stupid that it makes it hard to look over and forget. Kanye West is usually the recipient of the You Big Dummy award. He's involved again, but this time, he isn't on the receiving end.

William Ray Norwood, Jr aka Brandy's brother aka The Dick That Spawned Kim Kardashian's career bka Ray-J has really stepped in it. Last week he dropped a track that was seemingly dedicated to his ex-jumpoff and the 2007 Golddigger of the Year award winner, Kim Kardashian and Mr. Golddigger Anthem himself, Kanye West. The song title, in case you haven't heard, is "I Hit It First." Yes, you read that correctly.

In the song, Ray-J goes on to lambast the numerous fellatious acts committed by some unnamed groupie after he got done giving her the goods, stating that despite the fact she has moved on to rappers and ballplayers, she need always remember...he hit it first. Twon Jonson and I chopped it up briefly the other day. The convo follows.

Twon Jonson: For real, this famous-for-no-reason ass nigga prolly just pulled the greatest stunt in his nonexistent career; try to lure Kanye into responding, hence giving Mr. Norwood the steam he needs to drop a new album, which I'm almost positive is waiting in the wings. It's a genius move on Ray J's part if Kanye responds. I think this is Ray J's identity now and we all just kinda have to accept his clown ways or continue to ignore them. He knows what will get the public's attention. Anything less than absolutely ridiculous means that a nobody like him doesn't even appear on our radar...but the song is kinda catchy though...and I hate myself for feeling that way.

The Niftian: Crazy thing is that Ray-J has built his career on being under someone else's shadow, most notably his sister. I mean, the dude has like ZERO talent in any arena. Hell, even Lil Kim shot him a side-eye diss on that one song, "Wait a minute, isn't that Brandy's brother?" That's all he's know for. Enter sex tape. He fucks some random, big booty white (?) girl on cam and the world is like "OMG! Look at his dick and this non dick sucking bitch!" Whoop-de-doo...I make better sex tapes in my sleep. Hateration aside, Kim went on to become that years Golddigger of the Year, setting the stage for the likes of Amber Rose and every chick on Love and Hip-Hop.

It was all funny when Ray-J let this all go unanswered, just chilling in the wings, knowing that he spawned the career of an entire family (save Rob Kardashian, famous in his own right). I've seen countless memes and posters joking the Kardashian clan and how much they owe to Ray-J's dick for their success. It's true. It was also funny, mostly because Ray-J kept quiet. This song is an affront to the code and frankly, makes Ray-J look bitter, something that I honestly thought he was not.

Who cares if you hit it first? We KNOW you hit it first! You just look like a sap announcing it. So then the question begs, why'd he feel the need to make a song about it, and after all this time? I think you hit it on the head, Twon (no pun intended). Also, I don't think the song is a direct diss to Kanye...at least I didn't until I saw the pixelated cover art, which reminds me an awful lot of the edited cover version for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. So scratch my previous thought and *insert Kanye diss here.* The best thing for K. West to do would be to ignore all this, that's a surefire win, because no one takes Mr. One Wish seriously, not even his sister and mother. Of course, Ray-J knows that if there is one thing Kanye can not avoid, it's controversy.

TJ: Yea agree wit everything u said homie, it'll be interesting to see where it all goes from here. Almost wish there was a USTREAM of what Kanye's doin right now cuz u know that nigga chompin at the bit to respond. Even though Jim Jones isnt quite the ass clown that Ray J is, Jim definitely won by luring Jigga into that trap. Prolly the hottest dude ever been his whole career was off that beef.

TN: According to a very recent interview, Ray-J claims it's "just music" and the song isn't about Kimye at all.

*coughs* BULLSHIT! *cough*

I hate when rappers/celebs do that shit. If you gonna pop off shit, then stand behind your words!

TJ: I mean, lying to the media is a part of survival as a "celebrity." Your defense walls crumble when u give yourself up like that. So regardless of what the truth is, him saying it isnt about Kimye Breast means that no one can "factually" hold it against him or try to accuse him of defamation or anything else that could come from him owning upto it.  

TN: I just fucking hate it. "Naw, that song 'Hey Kanye, I Fucked Your Baby Momma' isn't about you and YOUR baby momma. It's this OTHER dude I know name Kanye..." #FuckOuttaHere with that bullshit!  

Y'know, you don't have to take our word for this foolishness...check it out yourself. Oh, and if you're so inclined, this circus act of a song dropped on iTunes today.  


07 April 2013

LOCAL MUSIC: Nightmerica's 6th Flow

Well folks, this is a diamond in the ruff in my perception. The song 6th Flow from FYN, D.A.V.E., and JYN who go by the name of Nightmerica is a true taste of talent from the Metro Detroit area. The video debuted on March 31, 2013 and already they hit 1,000+ hits. Best In The Mix readers, this is local music that is in hip hop's essence and shows you where hard work can land you. I was introduced to this song/video on April 6, 2013 (yesterday) and I couldn't tell you how many times I've listened to this. This track is one of the many that will be on Nightmerica's mixtape "The Waiting Room." As for the video itself, it is very creative and has a melancholy tone. To me it's a representation of what the area has become, a wasteland. From the samurai sword to the graffiti in the background to the pretty girls embodies DOPENESS; JOE HENDO did his thing directing. Be ready for the Nightmerica's mixtape release! Twitter info is also included at the end of the video to follow and support these artists.

Twitter: @_KJTheGreat, @BestInTheMix
Email: Kjohnsonk14@gmail.com

02 April 2013

REVIEW: Tyler, The Creator - Wolf


"Wolf," the finale in the trilogy from rapper/producer and chief of Odd Future, Tyler, The Creator has been a long time coming. He had been talking the album up for the past three years, and after suffering countless delays Tyler releases the most cohesive solo album in his young career. From the hilarious, yet somber intro, you can hear a marked improvement on the production side of things. And as you witness this trend continue through songs like "Answer," the Pharrell-assisted "Ifhy," and the triple-threat-in-one "PartyIsntOver / Campfire / Bimmer," you notice a significant amount of  growth.

The Eminem-esque content and impressive lyricism that he has come to be known for is apparent in spades, but one song in particular is almost a direct "Stan" ripoff. The song "Colossus" illustrates an encounter Tyler has with a crazed fan with mild homosexual tendecies. It's more comedic than depressing, which I think was good choice on his part. Despite all of the comparisons to the dark tone of Eminem's music, Tyler always finds a way to keep the mood light with off the wall lines and ad-libs that will have you cracking up.

But this album isn't about flexing any lyrical muscle, nor is it anywhere near as dark and loner-friendly as his previous efforts. The real star on "Wolf" is the near-masterful production (by Tyler, himself) throughout most of the album. He crafted several smooth Frank Ocean inspired beats that should be enough to at least catch the ear of skeptics. He had similar songs sprinkled across "Bastard," but these marijuana-induced tracks take center stage on "Wolf." No longer do we have to trudge through over an hour of ear-wrenching music about chopping bodies up. It's evident Tyler realizes people respect his talent now. What better opportunity for him to put his versatility on full display?

His previous two albums weren't easy listening for those who weren't prepared for the onslaught of verses about murder, drugs, and rape, but if you were to dig deeper and simply pay attention to the way he strung words together and delivered them, you would have seen glimpses of the artist that is (almost) in full bloom on "Wolf." Tyler is a misunderstood genius, and while many simply can't force themselves to give his music an honest shot, a true music lover should be able to at least appreciate the calculated risks the young boy takes. He was definitely reaching much further on "Goblin," and even more so on "Bastard," but as a rapper/producer in your late teens/early 20s, it's difficult to have your voice heard amidst the endless sea of watered-down nonsense in hip-hop. The man works his ass off and his brand of music has spawned an entirely new sub-genre. When it's all said and done, he will be credited as one of the few for pioneering an entire genre-shift and movement that looks to have some longevity without giving in to label norms. If "Bastard" and "Goblin" seemed like demonic cries for attention, then "Wolf," by comparison, is his humble display of gratitude to those who finally give him the respect he deserves as an artist.

Twitter: @BestInTheMix @TwonJonson

01 April 2013

REVIEW: Young Roddy - Good Sense II

Happy Anniversary! To Young Roddy that is, his “Good Sense” mixtape dropped on April 1, 2012 and here he comes with “Good Sense II” exactly a year later. I wrote a review on his first mixtape as a debut review for me on Best In The Mix! Young Roddy if you do not know is from the Jet Life camp consists of the Captain Curren$y, Trademark The Skydiver, Smoke Dza and Fiend. The Jets crew has been more so recognized among the weed smoking community, not saying you have to be high to enjoy their music haha. Young Roddy adds the street and struggle to his team, though most, if not all of the JETS members are from the hood, Roddy was a heavy dope dealer and continuously stated he had it hard growing up as a kid.

The Jet Life production team joined forces and created a mixtape that sums up most of the instrumentals as, soulful elevator music. Track wise, GSII is pretty much a sequel to GS. For some listeners this might be a tad bit repetitive, however this sound is completely mastered by Young Roddy. Not all tracks have this soulful sound to them. Songs like “You know” featuring Trademark have an eerie space extraterrestrial experience to them. Other songs like “3 The Hardway” featuring Styles P & Smoke Dza, have a dark dungeon type of style.

While I think the lyrics were better on the first "Good Sense," Roddy’s flow does not disappoint on this tape. Roddy isn’t your supreme storyteller/ lyricist like Nas or Immortal Technique, he raps & flows and I can appreciate that as an artist. The dude has skill, he’s not the best but he has talent. The main thing I dislike on this tape as with other projects released this year, is the length. I understand the certain issues and conflicts but I just hate short projects. This a 13 track mixtape and the jawn is only 37 minutes. I just would have liked to see at least another 8-10 minutes on to this joint.

"Good Sense 2" was a nice listen for me. I loved all the instrumentals to the songs. Soulful elevator music does it for me. Features from Curren$y, Styles P, Smoke Dza, trademark The Skydiver, and 3d Natee, made the mixtape even more enjoyable. However, I do not think this tape was better than its predecessor. This wasn’t a bad mixtape at all, it just can’t compare to the original.