26 August 2013


Last night during the MTV Video Music Awards you may have caught a snippet of a Beastie Boys-esque track laced by Rick Rubin with Eminem spitting a couple of quick bars. This was from a single called Berzerk, which drops tomorrow, off the upcoming sequel to the classic "Marshall Mathers LP" of 2000. The song is rumored to be produced by Rick Rubin and Dr. Dre, and has been mentioned several times by Dre and Eminem over the past couple of years. It was smart to bond this teaser in with a clear BEATS Headphones commercial, as this is starting to become a trend with legendary artists and how they are choosing to promote their new projects. Stay tuned to BITM for more updates.

24 August 2013

Review: Rapsody - She Got Game

This summer has been a great mark in history for Hip-Hop. We have another edition to the catalog. Rapsody dropped her heavily anticipated mixtape “She Got Game” this week. You may recognize her name from the roster of the Hip-Hop group Kooley High. “She Got Game” is hosted by DJ Drama and has a ridiculous amount of big names that were involved with the project. I’m not big on too many female MC’s/Rappers but she has definitely embedded and solidified her position in my iTunes library with this project. Enough bragging let’s get into it.

“She Got Game” is nothing but Hip-Hop. This honestly reminds me of the 90’s and the “Golden Era.” DJ Drama states on the intro of “A song about nothing,” “…rap music, comes and goes. Rap artists are here then gone. Rapsody, she’s here to stay. She got game. Better yet, she got the game,” and I am a firm believer in this statement. She starts off the song with “it’s Toca Tuesday the mood gray/ another average news day/ stomach rumbling I’m watching blu-ray/cleaning out my suitcase/ thinking maybe soufflĂ©/Will suit my menu looking thru my closet ain’t no Gucci,” and continues on with her brilliant ability to ride the beat throughout the whole mixtape.

The second track on this jawn is “Coconut Oil” featuring Raekwon & Mela Machinko. This song, like a few other beats on the tape was produced by 9th Wonder.  It’s great to hear features with Legends like this; that should let you know the artist should be given a few spins. Another song with a legend feature is “Feel Like” featuring Common. This track seems to be completely mastered by Rapsody. Her flow makes you think that she is the female version of her Chi-town cohort. This type of song is naturally Common’s domain, deep, intimate and soulful love lyrics (a pt. II of “The Light”), it’s only right that he made an appearance.

As far as female MC’s/rappers go, Rapsody and Nitty Scott, MC has the category locked down. Nicki Minaj, Kreayshawn, and whatever other female “rappers” that is similar should learn from these two.

“She Got Game” is a classic in my opinion and I know I will be playing this for a very long time. I am in love with this mixtape along with the aura it brings. The project has features from Raekwon, Chance The Rapper, Raheem Devaughn, Mac Miller, Wale, Common, Nipsey Hussle, Ab-Soul, Phonte, Jay Electronica, Mela Machinko, Problem, Gwen Bunn and Jared Evan. Though this mixtape has a lot of features, I don’t think Rapsody needed them in order to produce a great tape. Rapsody clearly has game that blindly exceeds most of the subpar “artists” that put out music. On the track “Never Fail,” DJ Drama stated, “Footnote, Kendrick ain’t mention no females…Rapsody we gotta change that…BARS!” (in reference to his verse on Big Sean’s “Control” which you can listen to here). Rapsody justified this declaration before Drama even made it. I highly suggest that any readers of this article download this mixtape and indulge in it. Peace…

23 August 2013

Review: Dizzy Wright - The Golden Age

Well readers, I dropped the ball on this one. I have been sleeping on this artist heavily. The only time I listened to him is his “Maintain” feature with Joey Bada$$ (Listen to it here on BITM). That song alone should have been enough to influence me to listen to him, but I stuck to my slumber. Dizzy Wright dropped his mixtape “The Golden Age” a couple of days ago. Prior to this mixtape I heard maybe three songs from him. They were very good songs that actually carried a message, I just never pursued any more of his music. I am grateful that I am aware of his ability now because this dude can spit. He is just yet another reminder of why the West Coast is on top when it comes to which region is producing the best music overall; as Twon states in his article How The West Was "One."

Before I heard the rest of the mixtape, “Maintain” featuring Joey Bada$$ (written in a prior article written by myself), was hands down my favorite track. After listening to half of the mixtape, I had about three more contenders. Once I got through the whole tape, I couldn't decide. This mixtape is half hip-hop and half rap. You get the best of both worlds. I was excited to hear each and every track the deeper I got into the tape. As a younger rapper/MC this was a brilliant format for a mixtape. For younger ears, there is a balance of tracks that have a positive message & tracks that are simply punch lines and sweet rhymes.

This is a 22 track mixtape that I believe old heads and youngins can come to terms with. I don’t think Dizzy Wright purposely tried to make a project that has the potential to bridge the worlds; he just followed his own style and creativity which happened to be a great outcome. Dizzy is one of the emerging rappers who try to enlighten and show the youth that there is more to life then clothes, money, and partying. “The Golden Age” has appearances from Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight (of Pro Era), Wyclef, Tory Lanez and more. For those looking for Hip-Hop tracks, I suggest listeners start off with songs like “Maintain,” “The Perspective,” “Untouchable,” and “World Peace.” If you want punch lines go for “Fashion,” “B.T.T.,” and “Step Yo Game Up.” If you’re reading this, don’t be like myself and sleep on the kid.

21 August 2013

Review: Jedi Code - 9th Wonder feat. Phonte, Rapsody & Jay Electronica

Yesterday 9th Wonder dropped a track with some heavyweights and delivered a one hit knockout. “Jedi Code” feat. Rapsody, Phonte, and Jay Electronica are nothing less but perfection on this track. With 9th Wonder producing you can guarantee you’ll at least like one part of the joint as a whole. The super Mc’s joined forces to make a song that I considered to be over bearing (for my ears) and made me grin after every bar & stanza. The rhymes, flow, and lyrics are so profound that I honestly can’t pick my favorite verse. While I haven’t heard too much from Phonte, Rapsody just released her mixtape “She Got Game.” Even Jay Electronica has been on a couple tracks, does this mean he will finally be dropping his project? Haha hopefully, but as for this track it is a MUST listen download for a true hip-hop head.

17 August 2013

VIDEO: Goodie Mob ft. Janelle Monae - Special Education

It's been a long time since the legendary Dungeon Fam collective known as Goodie Mob reunited with their ecclectic front runner Cee-Lo Green. In fact it's been well over a decade since the entire crew has blessed us with their sound that many consider to be the foundation for southern Hip-hop. The group has done shows and dropped albums without Cee-Lo, and the soul machine has since established himself as a true solo artist, but fans were starting to believe a reunion would never happen. Well not only is the Mob back together, they have enlisted Big Boi's starlet Janelle Monae for their lead single "Special Education," which is a song that encapsulates the Dungeon Family's approach when they entered this game. Having Janelle Monae on the hook is also a match made in heaven, as she is cut from the same cloth.

14 August 2013

Review: Lupe Fiasco, "SLR2 (Kendrick Response)"

Yet another heavyweight who wasn't mentioned on K.Dot's murder list emerges to join in on Hip-Hop's first Battle Royale. With S.L.R. 2, Lupe Fiasco takes his time building up to the shots he takes at Kendrick. He uses a cadence similar to 2 Chainz to smash every popular rapper in the game that is emulating the same flow before taking a few pot shots at Kendrick in a way that will probably go over most folk's heads. Lupe's music has always made you think, possibly more than any other rapper. Compared to Joell's response yesterday, which was more direct, it will take time for most to dissect Lupe's approach. That does not diminish the quality of the track though. Sadly, most whose ears are not truly trained to understand Lupe's depth might not enjoy this response as much as Ortiz's.

13 August 2013

Review: Joell Ortiz - Control(response)

LET’S GOOOO!!!!! Joel Ortiz is the first responder to Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Outta Control” and has literally slaughtered the beat.  This is what Hip-Hop/Rap has been missing….competition. Everyone is fond to the subliminal diss or the no name dropping. The genre has softened up just as much as the NFL and NCAA football rules have. Kendrick sought out to change that when he claimed the title, “King of New York” and dropped the names of his homies as well as not dropping anyone else’s name in the original version of the song. Mr. Lamar got his wish with Joell’s response. “I ain’t even gotta give this too much thought/ Joell Ortiz won every war that he ever fought/ This ain’t no different, I’m listening you the King of New York?/Lil homie you ain’t the King of New York, you the next thing on my fork!” That’s just the beginning of the song. Joell Ortiz demolished the track. There is nothing to be taken lightly about this rebuttal, though it is not a diss, it is a statement: “You’re not King, fall back young nigga.” Next up are the artists that Kendrick named specifically….

Twitter: @_KJTheGreat
Email: Kjohnsonk14@gmail.com

Review: Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar, “Control"

In case you’ve been under a rock in the last 24 hours, you haven’t heard the latest fire to come from Big Sean, “Control.” The track, featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica, is blowing up the net as the newest heat to come from the young emcee. The irony exists, however, in that the heat isn’t coming from Big Sean. Instead, it is young K. Dot that is demolishing the track. Kendrick steps up on his soap box and shows you exactly why he is amassing so many accolades.

Personally, I am looking forward to Hall of Fame because Big Sean has been giving me some glimmering hope with his last few releases, this one included. Although sample clearance issues may prevent this track from being on the official album, it is still a testament to his ability to build a fiery track. Twon Jonson feels that the track is bomb simply because of Kendrick Lamar’s verse and it’s understandable. Mr. Lamar calls out damn near every. single. rapper. alive and puts them on front street, letting all who may hear know that he is coming for you, your fans, your core, your very souls. “I’ve got love for you all, but I’m tryna murder you n*ggas!” That’s the boast, and there’s no doubt that he means to deliver.

Although Big Sean’s verse is less than impressive, many times not even correctly riding the beat, Jay Electronica rounds up the song with a signature style that is missing from the forefront of the song. He quickly lets you know why he’s considered a premier emcee, even though he hasn’t released much work in recent memory.

Bottom line? Sean got beat up and murdered on his own track…TWICE. Peep the scenario.

The Niftian, out...

Oh, and if you want the lyrics? Here you go…

Miscellaneous minds are never explainin' their minds
Devilish grin for my alias aliens to respond
Peddlin' sin, thinkin' maybe when you get old you realize
I'm not gonna fold or demise
(I don't smoke crack, motherfucker I sell it!)
Everything I rap is a quarter piece to your melon
So if you have a relapse, just relax and pop in my disc
Don't pop me no fucking pill, I'mma a pop you and give you this

Tell Flex to drop a bomb on this shit
So many bombs, ring the alarm like Vietnam in this shit
So many bombs, make Farrakhan think Saddam in this bitch
One at a time, I line 'em up and bomb on they mom while she watchin' the kids
I'm in a destruction mode if the gold exists
I'm important like the pope, I'm a muslim on pork
I'm Makaveli's offspring, I'm the king of New York
King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both
The juggernaut's all in your jugular, you take me for jokes
Live in the basement, church pews and funeral faces
Cartier bracelets for my women friends I'm in Vegas
Who the fuck y'all thought it's supposed to be?
If Phil Jackson came back, still no coachin' me
I'm uncoachable, I'm unsociable
Fuck y'all clubs, fuck y'all pictures, your Instagram can gobble these nuts
Gobble dick up 'til you hiccup, my big homie Kurupt
This the same flow that put the rap game on a crutch
I've seen niggas transform like villain Decepticons
Mollies'll prolly turn these niggas to fuckin' Lindsay Lohan
A bunch of rich ass white girls lookin' for parties
Playin with Barbies, wreck the Porsche before you give 'em the car key
Judge me 'til the monarchy, blessings to Paul McCartney
You called me a black Beatle, I'm either that or a Marley
(I don't smoke crack motherfucker I sell it)
I'm dressed in all black, this is not for the fan of Elvis
I'm aimin' straight for your pelvis, you can't stomach me
You plan on stumpin' me? Bitch I've been jumped before you put a gun on me
Bitch I put one on yours, I'm Sean Connery
James Bonding with none of you niggas, climbing 100 mil in front of me
And I'm gonna get it even if you're in the way
And if you're in it, better run for pete's sake
I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time
Bout who's the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of yall
New niggas just new niggas, don't get involved
And I ain't rockin no more designer shit
White T's and Nike Cortez, this is red Corvettes anonymous
I'm usually homeboys with the same niggas I'm rhymin' wit
But this is hip hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition? I'm tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive
Out the exit window of 5 G5's with 5 grand
With your granddad as the pilot he drunk as fuck tryna land
With the hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg
Bumpin Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head
Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said
That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a dread

11 August 2013

REVIEW: Stalley - Honest Cowboy

The underdog artist of the Maybach Music Group has finally dropped another mixtape and made his way on to the BITM page.  His last mixtape, “Savage Journey To The American Dream” was a great addition to his catalog and a good body of work for 2012. It was also his debut joint under the MMG Empire. I personally don’t think he should have signed under Rick Ross, but it was a smart move for him because he knows Ross is a great A&R.

Honest Cowboy has a very serene and placid feel to it. Majority of Stalley’s music is laid-back, that’s his steez and he adheres to it. You won’t find any high tempo beat on this mixtape. A lot of the songs have a southern influence on it predominantly Texas in particular, in which you will see Dj Paul Wall and Scarface (who also drops a verse) in Stalley’s video for “Swangin.”

On the upside to this mixtape, there is a lot of chill beats that you can cruise to, smoke & chill to, and listen to someone with a nice flow. There are a few standout tracks on this joint like “Swangin” feat. Scarface, “The Highest,” and “NineteenEighty 7” feat. Schoolboy Q. Stalley has a couple tracks that explain the title of the project. Stalley has not shied away from his Muslim religion and exercises them with his Malcolm X like points of views in “Raise Your Weapons” and “Long Way Down.”

This is not Stalley’s best work but it is a decent piece to add to his catalog. A few tracks got repetitive with a little of the same content but nothing extreme. Some people have said he is boring and can’t rap, this one is a complete toss up but just like any artist that’s an individual’s choice. “Honest Cowboy” gets 3 tapes…

Checkout the video for “Swangin” below

Twitter: @_KJTheGreat
Email: Kjohnsonk14@gmail.com

08 August 2013

RANTS: Relevancy vs. Reinvention

In light of praises and criticisms of recent projects from "veterans" Kanye West and Jay-Z, I posed a question to a wide range of true Hip-Hop heads from every era to gauge their opinions on the issue. Each of their opinions shared some similarities, and several differences. Read how each person felt and compare it to your own opinion.

"Are maintaining relevancy and reinventing onesself one in the same when it comes to the longevity of an artist's career?"

R.E.C. (Age 40):
In my opinion, you got to stay true to yourself as an artist and mature in how u present yourself. The real question is, staying relevant in who's eyes? Because some of these artists are only around as long as their record execs say they hot. [The plan should be:] You get control of your music and release it on your own terms with no outside influence as far as marketing, promoting and hell, the producers you work with. All that plays a part.

Ice Cube

Those are just my top 3 that matured in what they talk about and control how their product is presented to the masses. Some of these artist dont have that luxury and either sell out to gain more money or force people to join them. I didn't mention The Roots but on the real ask that question and look at The Roots' career. To me they haven't reinvented themselves at all [and still have remained relevant]. Instead, they have spent their careers remaining within their element while at the same time  putting newer acts on. If that didn't make sense, think on it for a minute and smoke an L to it...

Jules Esquire (Age 38):
To me, reinventing is totally necessary for growth and longevity.  Take for instances the latest Jay-Z album.  Jay has to maintain relevance by changing his rhyme pattern and style of music in order to sell to his core fans who are now younger than us.

Pops (Age 46): 
I don't think they are the same thing. In my mind I equate maintaining relevancy with holding place in the status quo. And I equate longevity with shaking up the status quo. His [Jay-Z] life would get so much easier if he stopped trying maintain his place and moved on to whatever is next.

Ra'z al Ghoul (Age 21):
I'm going to say no. The definition of longevity is "the length or duration of life." If an artist's career dies down and doesn't release anything for an x amount of years there is no longer life to said individual's career. However one can stay relevant by reinventing themselves. For example: Wayne reinvents himself down to his controversial clothing he wears but somehow manages to make the News on the Google tab section or as a main story on hotnewhiphop.com for something he does in music occasionally.

Kanye West has reinvented himself with his transition of an artist more likely to be featured on a Lauryn Hill song, to the crazed, dub-step, pop, rapping "genius," we know him by now that samples German bands (like he did on Yeezus). With that being said he still stayed relevant.

As far as not staying relevant but reinventing yourself, Juicy J is a perfect example. After Three 6 Mafia split up, Juicy J wasn't really making any major noise (commercially), but since he allied himself with Wiz Khalifa and Taylor Gang, his career was resurrected. His ratchet style has always been there, but he had to incorporate new ways to do what he did and gain the youths attention. Now his fan base is probably bigger than ever because of his reinvention.

Eminem is another great argument for this. His style changed completely. When Em first debuted he had lyrics about killing bitches, homosexuals, and his fucked up life. Then he left for x amount of years and didn't release anything (not trying to put a lifespan on anyones abscence). When he returned to the game he spoke of his change and laid things to rest (excluding his freestyles). His voice doesn't even sound the same. He TRULY had to reinvent himself.

I don't know what amount of time and/or circumstances is considered enough for someone that needs to be reinvented though.

TwonJonson (Age 30):
When you really think about how the question is presented, answering it directly is actually pretty difficult. An artist sustaining their career over an extended period of time might not even be a direct result of remaining relevant or reinventing themselves. When you look at The Roots example given by R.E.C., it's safe to say that the two are not one in the same. Artist's take several different routes to stay afloat in this game. The true challenge that most artists face is money vs. fans. They struggle with trying to decide which paths make the most sense to them. The ones who lean more toward their fans are often the type who I would consider "artists," as their focus is typically more on making great music and pushing the genre forward. Others, who are rarely ever able to shake the label of just another "rapper," lean toward the money and as a result, experience careers that are short-lived.

Then you have artists who try to tackle the ultimate challenge of appealing to both a wide range of fans while at the same time raking in as much cash as they possibly can. Those are the ones who typically end up dealing with the most scrutiny because they stretch themselves so thin trying to appeal to too many fans. They can't help but piss off several other fans in the process.

As you can see, most folk's perspectives on the question above include references drawn from their own era compared to today's expectations of a rapper or artist. At the end of the day, all we care for as fans is great music, though. It hurts to see artist's whom we praised in their hey day succumb to modern day trends that don't fit what we have come to know and love from them just to sell a couple more records. But "selling out" is hardly a reinvention of onesself. Instead, it is a "by any means necessary" approach to attemping to stay relevant, which ends up being detrimental to the genre.

An artist reinventing their sound and finding success with that is what is healthy for the genre, because it inspires other artists to expand the genre further. Kanye West might have mastered this craft, which helped birth artists like Kid Cudi. It's not always necessary for an artist to switch things up, but for those that do, the reason behind them changing their sound is what should be judged. Is it for the money or for the love of music as an art form?

As always, you can share your thoughts with the BITM crew on twitter

@BestInTheMix @TwonJonson

06 August 2013

VIDEO: JAY Z - Picasso Baby (A Performance Art Film)

Jay Z recently released his video for "Picasso Baby" that included the people of New York and some well known celebrities like Fab Five Freddy, MMG rapper Wale, Taraji P. Henson (actress), Alan Cumming (actor), Adam Driver (actor), Rosie Perez (actress), and a LOT of other famous people outside of Hip-Hop. The video is full of artists of all types, paying homage to any and all kinds of art. The video looks like it was a great atmosphere to be around. I read a tweet stating that, "Hov loves the people....therefore the people will always love Hov," that statement appears to be very true in this video. Enjoy!

Twitter: @_KJTheGreat

Email: kjohnsonk14@gmail.com