Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Greatest Hip-Hop Songs

If it's gritty street shit, the chances are I like it.

It's kinda in a rough order...but that said, most songs here just came to my head so no doubt I would've missed a few of my favourites. The human brain has a habit of forgetting shit so yeah...

1. Shook Ones, Part II

In this list I'm putting songs here that just are hip-hop. Like KRS-One reckons he is hip-hop, I reckon these songs are hip-hop. This is the most hip-hop song. The piano sends chills down your spine. Dunno why. There's something about a melancholy piano line that does it for me (see Dead Presidents II). For that matter, theres something about songs with "II" in the title that does it for me too...

But anyways, fuck KRS...Prodigy and Havoc are hip-hop on this.

"Meanwhile back in Queens the realness and foundation / if I die, I couldn't choose a better location / when the slugs penetrate, feel a burning sensation / getting closer to God...in a tight situation now..."

Wow...the whole song is like that.

2. I Used to Love H.E.R.

Over a minimalist, eerie beat, Common drops an incredible tale, seemingly about a girl. He goes into incredible detail in this girls history. As we all know, turns out this "girl" is hip-hop. When you find out at the end of the song, you're like "NO SHIT!" and it's an amazing feeling you will never ever get back. That's it. Once you know, you know...

The thing is, listening to the lyrics you realise that, even though the title of the song says Common "used to love her," he actually he still does love her. He always will, no matter what happens. This positivity is what we should all try and grasp on to. It is now well over a decade since this song dropped, but it is still topical. No matter where hip-hop is, or goes in the future, let's try and remember Common's last line and remain positive...

"But I'm a take her back hoping that this shit stop - cos who I'm talking about ya'll is hip-hop"

3. Respiration

Common on another song here. With Mos Def, Kweli and Hi-Tek. This is an amazing beat right here. Hi-Tek really does convey the image of the city breathing. And Mos, Kweli and Common drop some of their best ever verses over the stunning instrumental.

There's Mos: "Skyscrapers' is colossus, the cost of living is preposterous / stay alive, you play or die, no options / No Batman and Robin, can't tell between the cops and the robbers / they both partners, they all heartless...with no conscience"

There's Talib: "Some cats be emceeing to illustrate what we be seeing / Hard to be a spiritual being when shit is shakin what you believe in / For trees to grow in Brooklyn, seeds need to be planted / I'm asking if y'all feel me AND THE CROWD LEFT ME STRANDED"

There's Common Sense: "Ask my God how he thought travellin the world sound / Found it hard to imagine he hadn't been past downtown / It's deep...I hear the city breathe in its sleep / Of reality I touch, bot for me it's hard to keep"


4. Dead Presidents II

This joint doesn't feature life-changing lyrics. But Jay-Z comes so damn nice on this. His word play is insane. The cat was on top of his game back here. And Ski came up with such a mad beat again. Yes, a melancholy piano riff again! Here's a video of how he laced up the beat. Sampling Nas on the hook is also just cool as...

When Jay drops lines like this throughout, you know its over: "My doe flip like Taek-won / Jay-Z the icon / Baby you like Dom / Maybe these cristals'll change your life, huh? "

5. South Bronx

Is KRS-One hip-hop? If he says he is, I understand what he is saying. It's like, it's a culture. You can't define it with just words. It's a whole culture. KRS-One could be seen as an example of that culture. So he is hip-hop in a way...cos he helped define it with songs like this. Just that first trumpet "dun" that Scott La Rock and Ced Gee cued up and repeated throughout the song, when you hear it, that short sound could actually represent hip-hop itself.

You talking about the history of hip-hop - the culture of it...you talking about this song. KRS-One represents his hood, his people. The Juice Crew didn't actually mean Queensbridge started hip-hop - it was a misunderstanding. But that doesn't matter. This was expression through song...a response through song: one of the first. Add some James Brown samples over the top and you have the epitome of hip-hop.

"Many people tell me this style is terrific / it is kinda different, but lets get specific / KRS-One: specialise in music / I only use this style of music when I choose it"

6. C.R.E.A.M.

Two ill verses. First Raekwon, then Inspectah Deck. Again, when MCs are telling me about the streets, I'm definitely listening. This is actually about the streets. No, not those streets you hear everyone these days claiming they're from. The real streets. And the ease with which these two MCs share their tales is incredible.

Deck: "Though I don't know why I chose to smoke sess / I guess that's the time when I'm not depressed"

7. One Love

Again, a rapper really lets us into their world. Through an open-letter in this case - that is some real shit. Q-Tip laces up a truly ill beat here that is perfect for Nas to exhibit his street-concerned ramblings to an unfortunate friend in jail over. Sometimes, you feel like you are that friend in jail, and appreciate Nas for his "One Love" sign-offs. The way Nas tells his anecdotes effortlessly through street slang is a testament to language in itself.

"So I comes back home, nobody's out but shorty doo-wop / Rollin two phillies together in the Bridge we called 'em oowops"

8. Nuthin but a G Thang

Illest beat ever. I've said it before. Most chilled beat ever. And most chilled song ever. A quite simply perfect song. Sometimes those deep songs are too much, and you need songs like this.

9. Time's Up

I'll throw an obscure one in here. O.C. came direct on this incredible beat. A beat made for hip-hop. Made from hip-hop. Give Buckwild credit for that one. The song is directed at fake gangsters and thus is appropriate to consider when talking about real hip-hop songs. O.C. really just keeps coming on this. Line after line is hard felt and directed at these posers. He has many great lines here. The Slick Rick sample in there is really cool too!

"Of course we gotta pay rent, so money connects, but uhh / I'd rather be broke and have a whole lot of respect"

10. T.R.O.Y.

A typically souled out Pete Rock beat here with those horns. And CL Smooth proves he actually is smooth on this. He reminisces about his fallen comrade "Trouble" T-Roy from Heavy D and the Boyz and his love for his family. An extremely positive song: very important, considering it is concerned with death.

"Positive over negative for the woman and master / Mother Queen's risein a chapter / Deja Vu, tell you what I'm gonna do / When they reminisce over you..."

Saturday, May 19, 2007


A deadly pace of pace and experience: and he's only your third bets player.

While I, like most, was rooting for the Suns, you gotta give props where props is due. Spurs were the better team in this series. The Suns are a really good team: probably the 2nd best in the league. Unfortunately, the Spurs are number 1. They have a great wealth of experience.

Tony Parker is only just 25. Yet he has bucketloads of play-off experience already. Imagine having that pace coupled with that experience. When the cat decides to drive in on the basket, you gotta watch out. He needs special attention...unfortunately, if you give him special attention there are two better players on his team you might be letting in!

Imagine having Ginobli on your bench...on your team. He's quick too. If you give him respect on that outside shot which is released so quickly and Michael Redd-like (word to them lefties - I'm one myself!) then he may just take you to the hole as well. And this guy can finish. He feeds off the energy of the crowd and can go on amazing runs where everything he touches turns to gold...or diamond rings...

Imagine that you have those two players on your team...and they come no where near to your best player. Big Tim. The opposition cannot forget about him, ever. Offensively and defensively he is going to hold you accountable. If you double team the cat, he will kick out to the aforementioned stars who will make you pay. Let him go one-on-one, and your even more likely to suffer: he is unstoppable on the low block one-on-one. No one has ever used the glass better. He can do it from either side too...with either hand. When he gets the ball, there is no premeditation. He'll feel you out and go with the flow. He'll take you left. If you bite, he'll go back. If you don't, he'll continue. If you're up on him too hard, he'll spin, and dunk. Either way the guy is more than likely to score above 20 points and shoot about 55% from the field. And then there is his defense, which is even better.

Imagine you had all them on your team. PLUS a defensive specialist. A cat who will shut down the opposition's perimeter star. No matter how good they are. Bruce Bowen: some might say he is dirty. That could be true. But it doesn't mean he isn't an exceptional defender. And then imagine you could get quality help off the bench like Michael Finley, who never seems to miss a clutch 3. And Robert Horry who can defend all positions and who is also known for his clutchness. An Elson and Oberto defensive presence to help big Tim. Imagine you had all this...it's not too hard to imagine...after all it is reality!

But then imagine, not winning a championship with this team.

That is unimaginable. I just can't see the Spurs losing the Conference Finals or NBA Finals. Every aspect is covered.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Top Ten Dr. Dre Tracks

Dre: likes nothing more than being behind the boards

It's time for another top 10 post. I was just listening to all the tracks I have produced by Dr. Dre. So I thought I'd do a top 10 Dre-produced tracks.

10. My Name Is
I'll put this here cos it was a completely new style for a new artist. On every album Eminem has released, he always has a lead single like this, with playful Dre production, where Em is just crazy. Tracks like this show Dre's versatility and show that he can change up his style depending on what the artist is attempting to achieve.

9. Break Ya Neck
Just a fucking great production. Creative and banging...perfect for some ill Busta-ness over.

8. How We Do
Word. A slower jam, it bumps nonetheless. 100% pristine production. 100%.

7. Family Affair
What? R&B?!?! Of course this has to be here. Get the fuck out of here if you disagree. That beat is mad. The orchestra notes fit in so well and are catchy as hell. Really gives a nice bounce to an R&B song which I find is too rare these days. You can't help but nod your head to this shit. Really set it up for some ill singing from Mary J.

6. In Da Club
I'll put this here cos it's probably the biggest song of the millenium. It launched not only a career, but a whole Unit's career. Simplicity at its best. Dre defined the new millenium club banger right here with this one song. Others have tried to duplicate this template. But the original is the best. Again, Dre utilizes Orchestra instruments extremely well.

5. Still D.R.E.
Over a keyboard riff kindly supplied by Scott Storch and a funky bassline from Mike Elizondo, what did Dre really do here? Well, first he recognised that shit could be a worldwide hit. Then he added those cool little guitar lines at the end of every stanza, and made the drums bang. Bang...a classic beat is produced.

4. California Love
Perhaps the best known song in the current era of music to utilize the Talk Box, Dre enlisted Roger Troutman (R.I.P.) of Zapp to sing this one. Yeah yeah EPMD already used Joe Cocker's "Woman to Woman" but come on...Dre made it a worldwide hit. The synths and shit he added on top...and the Talk Box effect, are what set this song apart. Peace to EPMD though, but that's what Dre does.

3. Who Am I? (What's My Name)
The incredible synth bass line in this track is impossible not to love. Originally created by Funkadelic, it was seemingly genetically engineered to get people grooving. Add some hand claps, some Snoop and some Atomic Dog and you got the best track on one of the best albums of the decade. Not bad, that...

2. Fuck Tha Police
This song will always be remembered. DJ Yella and Dre produced this for N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton" in 1988. I think it was way ahead of it's time, production wise. The bass hits hard. For that era, the sampling quality is crazy. It was not uncommon to sample James Brown's "Funky President" at the time butDre used it better than anyone else...

1. Nuthin but a G Thang
Number 1, without a doubt. It's too chilled. It affects you know matter if its the 1st, 10th or 1000th time you've heard it. Snoop comes effortless on this...and it's hard not too, so chilled is the beat. Just reminds of the beach...reminds you of L.A. Dre really captured a mood here and this will forever be one of the greatest hip-hop tracks of all time.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Stars align for biggest upset in NBA history

The Baron of Davis!

It's the biggest upset in NBA playoff history - yet some people saw it coming. (Personally, in my playoff preview I predicted that the Warriors could pull off an upset - but that the Mavs would most likely get through.)

There is a reason people saw this coming. A 3-0 record against the defending Western Conference champs is a good start. While the first win in the regular season came during Dallas' horrid 0-4 start, and the third win came against the Dallas Reserve Team, it was the second win which should have acted as a hint of a possible upset. Let's take a look at that game:

It came in mid-March, a few months after a risky deal bringing Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington to the Warriors for Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Ike Diogu. The trade only increased the smallness factor (or should that be decreased (?!?!)) for Don Nelson's team. Since the trade, the Pacers and Warriors had both been patchy. More recently the Warriors had been playing a pathetic brand of Basketball through the end of February and early March, losing six straight games while seemingly not bothering to play defense at all. And we all know how poor the Pacers were playing at that time too (11 straight losses). In other words, the big trade seemed to have helped neither team.

However, the Warriors were finally getting out of their rut and had just gone 3-1 in the last 4 games and traveled to Dallas (51-10) to see what they could do.

They won 117-100. Dirk shot 3/11 (sound familiar?). In fact no one in the Dallas team scored more than 5 Field Goals. By contrast, the Warriors had 4 players score over 5 field goals. The one starter who didn't score in double digits? Baron Davis (9 points). So the Warriors beat a full strength Mavs away without their best player even playing that well...and convincingly. Something interesting from the game was that the Mavericks grabbed 50 rebounds compared to 28 for the Warriors. That is a huge difference. Indeed, the Mavericks scored 100 points. However, the Warriors were too quick. They turned 28 boards into 117 points...thats great efficiency. Get people down the court, and if your "bigs" get the board feed it to the streaming smalls immediately. If the Mavs big men end up getting the Offensive board (they ended up with 20) then so be it...let them. They might score a few 2nd chance buckets - but in the end we'll outscore them with many easy baskets on the fast break.

If I was Avery Johnson after this loss, I would have started planning for a possible rematch in the playoffs immediately. Because it was obvious this team could pose the Mavericks problems.

This win was Golden State's 4th win on the way to a finishing run of 16-5. They finished that run very strongly going 9-1 And then ran into...the Mavericks in the 1st round. By contrast, the Mavericks proceeded to play some poor basketball. They were like rabbits caught in headlights. They had been so used to winning that they didn't handle the first loss at home and a different style of basketball well at all. Dirk shot too many jumpers - GET TO THE HOOP! It's gonna be embarrassing as hell when David Stern hands him that MVP trophy next week. It'll be like "Here you go.........[silence]........by the way, you suck." But they didn't play that poorly. It was a mismatch of style. And B-Diddy playing at that level is so tough to beat, even
Josh Howard couldn't save them (he scored 20+ points in each game).

Mavericks ran into a hot team that had recent previous experience in beating them. It wasn't such a huge upset after all, was it? Make up your own mind...but no matter what, it has been a great series for Basketball, providing plenty of drama and adding much interest to the play-offs. The Baron of Davis and Stephen Jackson have really stepped up now and earned much respect. And the Warriors home crowd? Crazy!