23 January 2015

VIDEO: Joey Bada$$ - Freestyle

If you ain't know, the BITM squad are big Pro Era advocates. It was our own Ra'z that personally put me on to the crew, and in particular to the young Joey Bada$$. If you haven't read Twon's B4.DA.$$ review, do so now. Joey dropped his debut solo studio album earlier this week, and of course the last few weeks were full of promo interviews. One of the last interviews was with Peter Rosenberg on the Real Late with Rosenberg show and it ended with a MONSTER freestyle. So if our review isn't enough to make you peep the album (don't know if that's possible), check the video below. And then cop the album.

Freestyle starts at about the 10:30 mark.

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22 January 2015

REVIEW: Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$

After numerous delays even though it's been complete for some time, Joey Bada$$ finally released his debut studio album B4.DA.$$ (Before the Money) on Jan 20th, his 20th birthday. It was only a few years ago when Best In The Mix first began singing this dude's praises. How could a 17 year-old (at the time) craft such a Golden Era classic? It was shocking to see such a young artist be so dead-on when emulating that gritty New-York boom-bap that was prevalent around the time of his inception. With two critically acclaimed mixtapes under his belt, Joey kicks 2015 off with another project worthy of praise by even the most trapped-in-the-90s purist.

Statik Selektah helps kick off the mid-90s tour on a mellow note with "Save the Children," showing that Joey understands the importance of his position in regards to inspiring younger generations. The production immediately takes you back to the days of rockin the red & black lumberjack wit the hat to match. After a quick introlude, B4.DA.$$ hits its stride with the DJ Premier-produced "Paper Trail$." The smooth iconic descending bassline in the beginning immediately triggers a wrinkle in the brain that takes you back to a truly special place; shit that makes you say "They don't just do it like this anymore!" Joey meets the challenge head-on doing exactly what a true lyricist is supposed to do on a Primo beat and slays it.

Joey goes back in-house with Pro Era's own Kirk Knight on another great song with "Big Dusty."  It's amazing to hear Joey's versatility over a basic boom-bap type beat. "If it ain't real I don't feel it. If it don't hit my spirit I don't get near it, and that's point blank peri'd." He is just comfortably in the zone across the entire track. Through the rest of the album, you might notice that you have yet to hear a single average record and you can't help but feel that this project might be something special. Joey throws in a curveball toward the end and takes his first risk with the aptly-named "Escape 120." The title accurately describes the vibe as this song completely removes you from the journey you were on prior, and takes you to where Joey goes when he wants to get away from it all. The beat is a total departure from anything else on the LP, which provides some necessary balance to the project overall. One thing Joey gets hassled over is his tendecy to be one-dimensional as an artist, despite already having abilities on par with rap's elite. But when he takes risks, purists take shots and assume Joey is trying to appeal to too broad a fanbase instead of remaining in his lane. I personally feel that Joey has become a well-rounded artist, and taking risks here and there will do nothing but help his career in the long run, which leads me to my biggest concern for the future...

The irony with Joey Bada$$ and all of his projects is the fact that even though he is the front-man for a crew specifically called Pro Era (short for Progressive Era), his sound is firmly cemented in the past. This could be seen as "bad" or "who-gives-a-fuck," depending on which side of the fence you're on. The thing is, Joey has mastered the sound from the Golden Era, so where exactly is the progression? It may be nitpicking, but at this point Joey should consider trying to find a way to push the genre forward without sacrificing his sound. A daunting task at first glance, but there's no reason an artist with Joey's level of talent can't pull it off.

There's concern that sets in when you think about whether or not Joey can sustain this level of quality without it eventually beginning to sound like the same ole 90s shit. These are fears that have echoed throughout the Hip-hop community since he released 1999 three years ago. Since this is his debut album, time will be the biggest proponent as to whether or not it's even necessary for Joey to grow beyond being just another young artist paying tribute to early 90s Hip-hop. Fans love his music for that exact reason, but when you hear the name "Progressive Era" and the music is the complete opposite of that, you start to wonder about the future.

These concerns are almost like splitting hairs though, because B4.DA.$$ as an isolated project has no weak tracks. A new verse or song will catch your attention with each playthrough, but you'll often find yourself lost in a nostalgic daze reminiscing back to when head-nod beats and masterful braggadocious lyricism reigned supreme. Joey's debut stacks up nicely against his predecessors, as well as his contemporaries. For that reason, B4.DA.$$ receives BITM highest praise.

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09 January 2015

VIDEO: Childish Gambino - Sober

Childish Gambino's STN MTN / Kauai  mixtape/EP still continues to be one of the more polarizing releases in recent months. While the hardcore hip-hop community continues to refuse to accept him as one of their own, fans who understand his music know that he is someone that should never be judged based off one aspect of his artistry. He's always been more than just a rapper, and the Kauai EP side of his latest project illustrates his range and versatility as an artist. He has recently dropped a video for the first song off the EP entitled "Sober," where we see a disheveled Gambino in a restaurants trying to impress a lady with his over-the-top weirdo charm. Check it out below.
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08 January 2015

SINGLE: Action Bronson - Actin Crazy

Action Bronson's second major label album was slated to drop in the fourth quarter of 2014. And even though last year ended Bronson-less, I am happy to report that the new (and hopefully permanent) release date is set for March 24th. Last year we were blessed with the first single off of Mr.Wonderful, Easy Rider. The psychedelic track was full of classic Bronson bars. And now we have the second single to hold us down for a few months. Actin Crazy is produced by OVO record label co-founder Noah "40" Shebib. The Toronto producer has had a hand in many hit singles since 09, mostly with Drake and the YMCMB crew. But 40 has also worked on tracks for Jamie Foxx, BeyoncĂ©, Nas and Alicia Keys. For Bronsalino, 40 created an organ laced track with simple loops and muted trumpets and pianos. The track allows Bronson to cut through the instrumental with sharp lyrics and clean metaphors. While I was upset that we didn't get the album last year, but I am happy with the lyrical (and instrumental) gumbo that we've heard from these two singles. 

So peep the track below and keep busy until the end of March.

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05 January 2015

REVIEW: Nipsey Hussle - Mailbox Money

After over a year of waiting, we’ve gotten a consecutive project from the Crip Nipsey Hussle. After taking a few years of hiatus to deal with his life issues, we received the first $100.00 project ever titled Crenshaw, which made it on our list of one of the best mixtapes of 2013. Now we receive the $1,000.00 album Mailbox Money. After fans of music and critics reacted to the price of Crenshaw, Nipsey broke records when people thought he was a fool. The idea stemmed from a book he read by Jonah Berger titled Contagious: How Things Catch On in which he sold cheese steak’s for the same price. Fans and supporters bought both of the products because of the quality of the product. There are other’s that believe this is still blasphemous, but success was inevitable for both of the manufacturers. Contributors came from everywhere, even the top of the totem pole. Jay Z purchased 100 copies of Crenshaw which amounted to $10,000.00. Nip sought to out do his self this year with the release of Mailbox Money and he succeeded yet again. Now $1,000.00 is a lot of money to pay for one body of music but it is also offered for $12.00 and for free from multiple well-known mixtape sites. Nipsey Hussle has made history as an artist to own his masters and not even have to go through a major company to sign a deal. Regardless of the price or whether or not you are a fan of the his music, you have to respect his hustle and his grind.

Mailbox Money kicks off with “Killa” (emphasis on the spelling due to a prior track with Nipsey Hussle and Drake titled “Killer”). A phenomenal intro, as a huge fan of his, Nip gets ready to tell you a story from Crenshaw as he sits in his Benz smoking killa (weed) with his air conditioning on and his windows cracked. Life in South Central has been nothing but a war zone in his life whether it was with rival gang members, the cops, or life in general. Further into the song he lets listeners know how appreciative and grateful of the success he has accumulated sitting in first class doing things that he didn’t think he would be doing.

“That’s How I Knew” is a motivational track and very inspiring with even a recording of him speaking on how he views certain treasures. This track is about believing and standing by your dreams or goals with conviction. Nip put his mind to it and used the internet & media as a platform to circulate his media (as many other artists have done and are currently doing). Not only squeezing his fruits, he believed in the music he was creating aside from the unsubstantial trash that has been populating the industry titled “rap & hip-hop.” Though there are tracks that have deep meaning don’t forget, Nip Hussle is an OG from the Rolling 60’s Crip gang from Los Angeles. With that being said, “Where Yo Money At” is a track to ride out to that can definitely be considered a hood classic. If you don’t enjoy street tracks from time to time then this track is probably not for you, especially if you do not like Dj Mustard and his use of the electric Bass. “Where Yo Money At” makes you feel like you want to get up, get out and go hustle (whatever that hustle may be) to get more money.

While fans are waiting for Victory Lap, what seems to be like his own version of Dr. Dre’s alleged album Detox, this has definitely been a great project to hold fans off with our own impatience. Mailbox Money is definitely another collective to add to the West Coast’s regime of being on top of Hip-Hop. Though you may not be a fan of Nipsey Hussle, a lot of artists respect him, his grind and his team for what they have done for the culture and the game. Along with the respect, his features on other people’s tracks has dramatically increased. He has made appearances on T.I.’s latest album, tracks with Wale, Rick Ross and more so it’s hard to believe if someone hasn’t even liked a verse of his with his cameos from well respected artists in the game. Nipsey has even worked with 9th Wonder and Rapsody, for fans that are less into commercial rap and more into the underground scene. If you haven’t listened to Nipsey Hussle before I recommend his last project Crenshaw or any of the Marathon series to build up to this since it his not his greatest body of work. If you choose to start here you do not have to pay $1,000.00 or even $12.00, it is offered for free on hotnewhiphop, datpiff, and livemixtapes. Enjoy!

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