31 July 2014

VIDEO: Scarface - Exit Plan ft Akon

Scarface is preparing to drop his 12th studio LP, Deeply Rooted, in the hopefully not too distant future. While a release date has yet to be set, we have the visuals for the single Exit Plan to hold us down. The Geto Boys capo enlisted the hood chorus vocalist Akon for this deep instructional track. Brick City producer Cardiak provides a suspenseful instrumental for the hip hop vet to lay down his lessons. The video shows young men listening to the Houston OG as he guides and warns them of the trials and tribulations of the street life. It's been about six years since we've heard from Mr.Scarface, and this track shows why he was one of our top 8 emcees for the south region for our hip hop march madness series.

Peep track below. And let us know if you feeling the single and if you are gonna be checking for Deeply Rooted.

25 July 2014

REVIEW: Common - Nobody's Smiling

With the state of city the way it is, the title of Common's tenth album Nobody's Smiling is more than apropos. On the surface, when you look at the name and the various faces used for the cover art, this album appears to want to address the hardships Chicago has been facing, while attempting to send his people a glimmer of hope. One may think that an album with such an exterior would come across as preachy and boring, but deep down this LP is more of that same magic we love from Common, No I.D., and more recently James Fauntleroy, of Cocaine 80s fame.

Fauntleroy's lightly 'tuned vocals are becoming a staple of the sound associated with Common's albums these days, as was heard on The Dreamer/The Believer. When you hear Fauntleroy's voice coat the introduction, and No I.D.'s soulful beat drop, you get the feeling that Common may have a classic on his hands (think of how you felt when you heard "Gold" and "Cloth"). Sadly only half of Nobody's Smiling gives you that feel-good vibe you've come to expect from him.

It's always difficult to judge a Common album, due to consistently prophetic lyricism coupled with souled out instrumentals from various legends such as Kanye West and J Dilla. Because of this, he is in somewhat of a weird creative space. If you look at the majority of his catalog, it's so great that sometimes he is left with no choice but to experiment with sounds that attempt to re-define him and help him grow as an artist. As a fan though, do we really want to hear that? Most fans would be perfectly fine if he spent the rest of his career cranking out albums like Resurrection, Like Water for Chocolate, Be, and Finding Forever. It hurts to have to skip any track, but I felt a sense of detachment from at least half of this LP.

When you really think about it though, there is no such thing as a 'bad' Common album, especially one produced solely by No I.D. But after hearing them link back up on the amazing The Dreamer/The Believer, I was hoping for more of the same throughout Nobody's Smiling. They show glimpses, with standout tracks like "Rewind That" (an ode to I.D. and Dilla), and "The Neighborhood," only to be sullied by head-scratcher collabs with chumps like Medium Sean on "Diamonds." With this album being darker than most of Common's projects, that also puts it at a slight disadvantage. The tone will naturally make it a tad less accessible, but fans should still enjoy it regardless.

24 July 2014

J Dilla: The King of Beats

Part of this post will be for the baller status members of the BITM nation only. But for all them Jay Dee heads, this gumbo of news will just be cool to read about.

Ma Dukes and company have spent about a year putting together a limited release collector's box set for the late great J Dilla. I first heard about this earlier in the week and was geeking out. The images alone show the love and careful craftsmanship that went into the construction of this box set. First the case: it is handmade custom wood in the shape of Dilla's first sampling machine, the E-Mu Systems SP-1200. Then inside the case: 4 Batches vinyl records, 1 Lost Scrolls cassette tape, The King of Beats booklet, and a 3.5in floppy disk (ha..which uploads to actual SP-1200 machine).

Now I've seen other box sets and whatnot that offer cassette tapes, (Big K.R.I.T. has a bundle mixtape coming out that offers cassette tapes) but I've never seen a set that offers a floppy. The reason for this is because the way you uploaded samples to the SP-1200 was through a floppy disc. The SP-1200 is arguably the iconic sampler from the golden era of hip hop. This drum sequencer and sampler is what gave birth to the gritty NYC sound. Ironically it was the limitations of the SP-1200 that created the scratchy/fuzzy/dirty sounds that is now synonymous with 90s  New York hip hop. Today the MPC is the sampler of choice for most producers, but back then the SP-1200 was the essential sampler. The list of greats who started their careers with this machine include: DJ Muggs, DJ Premier, DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, Havoc, Lord Finesse, Mannie Fresh, Pete Rock, Q-Tip and RZA.

Now for that baller's only section. While I have no doubt that this set is worth every penny, it will run you $252.74. Since I ain't at the baller level to cop this, I hope some of uall do and hit the BITM crew with a review.

And peep rare and unreleased Dilla tracks featuring Slum Village and produced by Young RJ below.

22 July 2014

THE TAPE DECK: Styles P - The Life ft Pharoahe Monch

There is no doubt that The LOX are one of the best groups in hip hop history. But picking the alpha emcee out of the D-Block trio is a bit more complicated. I always flip flopped between Jada and Styles, and it got to the point where my "favorite" emcee was the one who released the latest album. But if I HAD to choose, (for example, if a wizard appeared and said," Choose one, or all will vanish") I would choose the Ghost by a minuscule margin. To me A Gangster And A Gentleman is the best solo album from the group and the second most popular single (Good Times was by far the biggest commercial track from the album) The Life is a big reason why. My only complaint, how'd Monch NOT get a verse?! Come on Styles. It is an amazing hook, but he ain't Patty Labelle. So peep the video below. And try and catch all the cameos at the end of the track (I know I def forgot about all of them).

21 July 2014

VIDEO: YG - Bicken Back Being Bool

YG finally released another video from his My Krazy Life album that dropped in March (read the review here). "Bicken Back Being Bool," is a day in the life of the Cali artist as a member of the notorious Bloods Gang in Compton. The video is well put together as was YG's album. I don't think anyone expected how cohesive his projects have been since he announced his album. I think this song as well as the album is hot and well worth some spins.

03 July 2014

THE TAPE DECK: Pete Rock & C. L. Smooth - They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)

Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth blessed the hip hop world in 92 with their seminal debut album, Mecca and the Soul Brother. The lead single, They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.), was the groups most popular track. While the single never made it that high on the commercial ladder, it has been on many "best hip hop songs" lists (including SPIN Magazine, The Source, About.com, VH1, and Rolling Stone). Pete Rock produced a track sampling their familiar jazz and R&B sounds. The instrumental features the iconic saxaphone sample over a simple bass and drum melody. C.L. Smooth used these emotional elements to orate his biography. Taking us from growing up in a single parent household, to his new step father and introducing us to a few other members of his family. The song is dedicated to his friend Troy "Trouble T. Roy" Dixon of Heavy D & the Boyz who passed away in 1990. So if you an 80s baby, or love the golden era, put the windows down and turn your car speakers up to 11 and enjoy.

01 July 2014

SINGLE: Busta Rhymes - Calm Down ft Eminem

It's been about 8 years since the hip hop world heard a Bus/Shady callabo. And it seems that his tenth studio LP will be enough reason to bring this single to light. E.L.E. 2 (Extinction Level Event 2) will follow the trend of emcees continuing a previous album with a sequel. In this case Mr.Rhymes is following up his 98 LP, E.L.E.: The Final World Front. The Scoop DeVille produced track samples House of Pain's 92 smash single, Jump Around. In an interview with XXL Bus said that E.L.E. 2 will feature a track with Em that is like a "battle". Unless he has another single with Slim Shady, we can assume this is that track. Both emcees split the rap duties as each vet gets about 3 minutes of the 6 minute track. I would recommend listening to the track with rapgenius up in another window. Both emcees bombard the track with the unique styles that have kept them in the game this long. The lyrical onslaught requires a few listens to appreciate the word play and construction. Bus def channels his mid-late 90s flow and of course Em can ride any track like the best of them. The release date was set for the 4th of July. Since I haven't heard otherwise, we shall know on Friday if Bus stayed the course.

Peep track below. Peep trailer for E.L.E. 2 as well!

SINGLE: Young Jeezy - Seen It All ft Jay-Z

While we wait for September 2nd for Jeezy to drop his fifth studio album, Seen It All, we now have another single to hold us down. His lead single Me Ok dropped a little over a month ago and has been in steady radio/satellite rotation. I have a feeling that his second titular single will get a few more spins. It doesn't hurt that Jizzle brought the lyrical contributions of Jay Z. I can't name Cardo productions off the top of my head, but dude did his thing on this track. The instrumental sets up a cinematic vibe with melodic flutes throughout the track. Of course Hova paints a vivid self portrait of his past d-boy memories. And Jizzle is at home walking us through his lyrical street landscape. Just a solid hustle track featuring two emcees who do it best.

Peep track below.