Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2008

Black Milk: Number 1 in '08

There's been lots of mad non hip-hop albums released this year too...including Raphael Saadiq, Solange, Jazmine Sullivan, TV on the Radio, Cut Copy and the list goes on. But here are my top 10 hip-hop joints...

1. Black Milk - Tronic
We already knew Detroit boy Black Milk was a talented producer after he gave us his debut Popular Demand last year...hell, many would claim he was the best up and coming producer in the land. But after the release of Tronic there is no question: Milk is the best producer in the land right now, and he is no longer up and coming...he is right here, in his prime. This sophomore effort came quicker than many would have expected, indicating that Milk is just a natural with the beats and can whip 'em out in no time (don't forget he also produced the bulk of Number 6 on this list...Elzhi's The Preface). Adding a more electro synth sound to his already impressive sampling skills and street drums gives this album a unique, and incredibly pleasing sound throughout. And how about his rhymes? They do their job, with a few nice lines here and there...but it is the guests who shine, most noticeably Royce da 5'9 who just sounds so at home over any Black Milk production.

2. Young Jeezy - The Recession
So a mainstream album up at number 2? with it. This album has been underrated in my opinion. The beats are spectacular...this is Jeezy's best album yet beat-wise. And considering his lyricsm has improved (all be it slightly), that would make this Jeezy's best album yet period. Be it the momentous grand opening intro produced by Toomp, or Drumma Boy's awesome "Put On", the beats knock hard, and mainly feature great sample selection. Jeezy muses about life a little more here than previously, which is always welcome, as his thoughts are generally memorable. But mainly, its more of the same. This is also welcome if, like me, you just enjoy Jeezy's style on a track. The album also features the verse of the year: Kanye's on "Put On". The track is also up there for best track of the year, in my opinion.

3. Shawn Jackson - First of all
The sleeper of the year. If you haven't heard of SJ, you are not alone, but I would recommend you try and hear some of his shit. First of all (pun intended) the dude straight up has "swagger like a dagger" and rips tracks up. Secondly, he works with this mad producer named Mekalek who produces straight masterpieces. 5 or 6 beats on here are just incredible, and never get old. And SJ does to them exactly what should be done...especially on "Feelin' Jack". Tres Records, also behind Blu (one of my favorite cats in the game), are clearly making a name for themselves.

4. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
Yeah, you know I'm all about the beats. And this shit features hit after hit...there are some real nice productions on here. And Weezy came pretty nice on this, which was surprising as his other recent shit hasn't been impressive. It really is hard to find a weak track on here...well that's not true, "La La La" is pretty easy to spot as wack, but other than that, this shit is tight. It's also great to hear Juelz on a track again...he straight rips up "You Ain't Got Nothing".

5. T.I. - Paper Trail
A huge improvement from T.I. Vs T.I.P., you gotta give mad props to T.I. for coming back strong. Sure, it's hard to stomach tracks like "Whatever you like", but you can't deny it's a hit. And there are some great tracks scattered throughout this album, including "No Matter What" where T.I. succesfully gets on his inspiring/introspective ish over a dopely-laced Danja beat. The first few tracks on the album are straight fire, especially the insanely positive "On Top of the World", while the middle lacks a little, but picks up strongly towards the end with a couple of slower jawns (including a fine production effort by Justin Timberlake). With far more good tracks than wack ones, this album deserves its spot here at number 5.

6. Elzhi - The Preface
Again, Black Milk produces the majority of this record and the end result is straight fire. The beats are not as consistently strong as Tronic but there are some straight up bangers in here. "Motown 25" is the highlight of the album, with an insane beat, Elzhi's typically expert lyriscm and a guest verse from Royce that straight flattens you.

7. Heltah Skeltah - D.I.R.T.
You may know, Sean Price is my favorite rapper. On this album he does not dissapoint, nor does his comrade Rock. They both spit that awesome hardcore humour rap that you've all grown to love...but so why is this down at number 7, and not higher? Well, the production feels a little predictable throughout. Like theres always some high pitched synth going on with some lame-ass riff it's almost trying too hard to be gangster in places. When the producers do get it right (for example "Da Beginning of Da End" by 10), the result is hard to beat.

8. The Roots - Rising Down
Mos Def begins this jawn with a stupdendously awesome verse, and shit just continues on from there. Listening to this album will really take your mind away from wherever you are, whatever you are doing. It'll suck you right in, with it's heavy synths and sound. Sometimes the darkness can get a little too much, and more tracks like the excellent closer "Rising Up" would be welcome. But I guess The Roots were probably going for that sound and did exactly what they wanted hear, and you gotta admit, it is pretty cool. And as always, the instrumentation is crazy...word em up ?uestlove.

9. The Game - L.A.X.
This album was solid, and proves an enjoyable listen. However, I was expecting much more from this: Doctor's Advocate was one of my favourite albums of recent times. I didn't mind Game's spitting was more the beats. The straight up heaters from DA were just not present here, excepting "Dope Boys". That's not to say all the beats were bad, just the more laid back style I find does not suit Game as much as the bangers do. Props for the originality behind "Never Can Say Goodbye" though, where duke takes on Tupac, Biggie and Eazy-E's mindset before their respective deaths. Oh yeah, and

10. EMC - The Show
This album offers plenty of straight heat lyrics wise: you'd be hard pressed to find four iller spitters (Masta Ace, Stricklin, Punch & Words) together on a record. Unfortunately some of the ideas aren't really hittin' ("Grudge"). And some of the hooks on a couple of tracks I really ain't feelin ("Make it Better","We Alright"). But otherwise, its a solid album, with plenty of ill rhymes and production. And the Sean Price track? FIYAH!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Top 10 One-Liners

Big L: The illest one-line spitter of all time

There is nothing like a dope one-liner. That shit that just makes you wyle out the first time you hear it...and everytime after it never gets old. Sometimes they are humurous, othertimes they are just ill wordplay, or sometimes they just poetic muthafuckas. I reckon Big L was the king of one-liners - just go listen to Lifestylez of da poor and dangerous. Anyways, here are some random ones I picked out:

MC Suffa (Hilltop Hoods) on "Dumb Enough"
"I make origami of your lyrics / (geez that's good Suffa, what is it?)......IT'S A SWAN!"

Sean Price on "Madman"
"I rock, Mecca, Polo, Iceberg, Fubu, but Ecko I rock
Better solo, fight, hurt, shoot you and jet yo [repeat]"

MF Doom on "Meat Grinder"
"Borderline Schizo / Sorta Fine Tits though / Pour the wine, hold the grind, quarter to nine, lets go"

Juelz Santana on "You Ain't Got Nothing"
"I'm a shark, ya'll just koifish / (what else?)...Octupus, (what else?)...Oysters"

Jay-Z on "Dead Presidents II"
"I had near brushes, not to mention / 3 shots close range, never touched me, divine intervention"

Biggie on "Brooklyn's Finest"
"If Faye had twins, she'd probably have two Pacs...get it, Tupac's?"

Talib Kweli on "Hater Players"
"Reverse psychology got em scared to say when shit is wack / Out of fear of being called a hater, imagine that?"

Mos Def on "Mathematics"
"Like I got...16 to 32 bars to rock it / But only 15 percent of profits...ever see my pockets"

Joe Budden on "Family Reunion"
"I flow sickly, ridin' bumpin' old Biggie/ roll with me or lose weight, Nicole Richie"

Prodigy on "Shook Ones Part II"
"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 a tight situation now"

Big L on "Da Graveyard"
"I'm known for snatchin purses and bombin churches /
I get more pussy on accident then most niggas get on purpose"

Big Pun on "Twinz (Deep Cover '98)"
"Dead in the middle of Little Italy little did we know we’d riddled some middlemen who didn’t do diddly"

GZA on "Gold"
"I'm deep down in the back streets - in the heart of Medina /
About to set off something more deep than a misdemeanor"

Common on "I Used to love H.E.R."
"I'm gonna take her back hoping this shit stop / Cos who I'm talking about ya'll is hip-hop"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Heltah Skeltah Coming Soon

Yo, I been real busy at uni but this should keep ya'll smart dumb cats busy for a bit.

Need I say anything more? These guys are fucking sick and D.I.R.T. is gonna be supreme dopeness!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Top 20 Premo Beats

I feel it's time to get back on my hip-hop tip. Today, I wanted to discuss the greatest beats by one of the greatest producers of all time: DJ Premier. There are so many dope beats by him, I made it a top 20, but still the chances are your favourite is not on this list. I put some links there to some tracks...some are mp3s I uploaded, others are youtube links. I also tried to keep it only one beat per artist just so we can see dude's variety. Let's get this shit cracking...

20. Christina Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man
Don't hate...if this were a beat for a rapper you'd say it's one of Premo's best. Christina comes nice on this anyway. This is just another notch in his belt: Premo can make hits. I even liked that beat he did for Limp Bizkit with Method Man - "N 2 Gether Now" you can't front that shit is ill!

19. Termanology - Watch How it Go Down
Love this shit. Termanology GOES TO WORK on this. Just keeps rapping for the whole track: and the soundscape Premo provides is fucking sick. I love it at the end how he scratches in Jay-Z's "Shit is wicked on these mean streets" from Premo's own "D'Evils". It's a great final touch on a dope track.

18. Crooklyn Dodgers - Crooklyn Dodgers
That bell that comes in after the mad jazz band sample is insane. Chubb Rock is too.

17. Royce Da 5'9 - Hip Hop
Nice strings in here...and then some cool little bell riff. This track is appropriately named cos this beat is straight up hip-hop.

16. Buckshot LeFonque - Music Evolution
Mad jazz shit.

15. Rawkotics - Hard Core Hip-Hop
Some rare older shit...nonetheless take a listen: that is a mad beat.

14. Common - 6th Sense
Premo provides Common with a type of beat you rarely hear Common spit over. That more straight up hip-hop, less soulful cut. And it sounds great. Common + Premo would be a great partnership I reckon. Although they'll probably never collab again...after all Common already "found the new Premo" (Kanye).

13. Mos Def - Mathematics
It's an ill bassline on this one. Premo has some fun here, with an ill breakdown before Mos' second verse. The hook he scratches out is also sick: "Mighty Mos Def" / Fat Joe: "It's simple mathematics" Lady of Rage: "(check it out)" / Ghostface: "I revolve around science" / Ghostbusters sample: "What are we talking about here?" and then Erykah Badu sample "Do Your Math" leading into the breakdown.

12. The Lox - Recognize
Straight up banger.

11. Gangstarr - Above the Clouds
My fav Gangstarr beat. Inspectah Deck rips this up too. I think "Moment of Truth" was Premo's best production with Gangstarr...every beat on there is solid as fuck.

10. Biggie - Ten Crack Commandments
This has Premo all over it. The way he chops shit up, you can easily tell its dude: especially on this joint. This beat here seems impossible to play without nodding your head.

9. Dilated Peoples - Clockwork
Unlike Ten Crack Commandments, this one isn't as obvious Premo. I dunno it just sounds a bit different to his usual style, with just a phat clean bassline being pumped out rather than a dusty old piano sample or whatever. The hit at the end of each loop, is vintage Premo though. However, it is an insane beat, really gets me going. And the intro and outro to the track are awesome too.

8. Capone N Noreaga - Invincible
That's some ill up-tempo shit. Does exactly what a good hip-hop beat should do...create a platform for MCs to reach their full potential. It would be hard to spit anything on this and sound wack.

7. Blaq Poet - Voices
This is not as well known as some of these other joints. Check the link then if you haven't heard it. This is one bad record. Dark. Haunting. Fucking sick...just take a listen.

6. Nas - N.Y. State of Mind
So yeah he is handy with the MPC, chopping shit up. We all know that. But this track showcases just how important your drums are. This track is all about the drums...some of the best I've ever heard on a hip-hop track. Big, dirty, hard hitting joints. This track is pivotal in setting up the album - one that is regarded by many as the greatest hip-hop album ever made. I think it is therefore safe to say it achieved its goal.

5. Fat Joe - The Shit Is Real (Remix)
This is another one of them positive sounding Premo beats with a mad nostalgic type melody looped over his trademark head-nodding drums.

4. Jeru the Damaja - Come Clean
Premo has a distinctive sound, yet still manages to be one of the most creative cats out there. And it's all about the sample: any sound can be flipped and chopped up into a mad beat. Here it is water drops. But I just love the drums on this one. They contrast with the sample perfectly creating an awesome head-nodding rythmn that Jeru rips up. I also give a shout out here to the joint "Supastar" by another Gangstarr affiliate Group Home which is mad, but I haven't found room for on this list.

3. Jaz O and the Immobiliare - Love Is Gone
This is one slept on beat. He uses this mad electronic sounding sample and then incorporates some breath noise sample in there as well, with some guitar stabs. The result is a track that you can just play over and over, cos its so pleasing to the ears. Jaz O fills the track nicely, don't really know who that other cat is though.

2. Jay-Z - D'Evils/Bring It On
I'll give props to two instrumentals here, both from the classic Reasonable Doubt album. D'Evils is some crazy shit. Premo don't give a shit about no west coast/east coast beef shit...he samples Snoop and layers this mad piano riff over the top, setting an incredible mood on the track. Jay-Z absolutely murders the track, spitting some of greatest verses ever spat. Bring it On features a beautiful melancholy orchestral progression. Once Premo gets an ill sample, you know the track is gonna be dope, cos he's always gonna bring those drums.

1. J-Live - The Best Part
This is number one for me. Again, it all comes down to an ill sample. Here we have a mad pan flute type sound. Add some banging drums, an orchestra fill and some incredible scratching in the hook and you have an absolute classic.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Brand off to Sixers; Maggette joins Warriors

Brand (career high of 25 PPG) and Maggette (career high of 22 PPG): both gone. All I know is this...Al Thornton's fantasy value just went up.

Damn. I guess this just goes to show...never predict a team's future before free-agent season has finished. Everything I wrote about the Clippers the other day is bogus. Without Brand, I don't think they are going anywhere. Baron is great...Brand is greater in my mind. But if I've learned anything today, its as I just said: do not judge before free-agent season has finished. Perhaps in the next couple of days they can manage to lure another big name player their way. Let's not judge them yet...

Scratch's the Clippers. If you think about it, this is the way things were meant to pan out. After a history of being one of the least winningest franchises in sports history, the Clippers make the play-offs in '06, push Phoenix to 7 games, and give the fans some hope for the future. This is followed up with two lack-lustre, injury-riddled seasons, where it seems as if they are neither challenging nor rebuilding. This all makes perfect sense: the Clippers simply aren't meant to have prolonged success.

But after the Clippers agreed to sign Baron Davis last week, it all seemed perhaps times were indeed changing. "Brand and Davis, with some decent talent to build around? Yes please...Maggette? We aren't concerning ourselves with him anymore!" My whole post below sums up the feelings in Clipperland post-Baron, pre-today's horrible news. Now? Of course, it all makes perfect sense.

So that is twice Clippers fans have been treated with a cause to be optimistic, only to have it taken away. The first time was a longer gruelling process, the second short and sharp. Perhaps third time lucky? Don't count on's the Clippers.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Here come the Clippstars!

Boom Dizzle: Bringing some style to the Clippers

So it's that time of year again. The championship has been decided. The draft is over. The new season doesn't start for a good 4 months.

Remarkably, there is still plenty to talk about: for one, Baron Davis is a Clipper. I've already made this transaction in NBA 2K8, and, presuming Elton Brand stays, the Clippers are now an incredibly fun team to play with. One can only assume they will be as fun to watch. But will they get anywhere out west? Most people are saying they'll make the play-offs, but probably not achieve much else.

Me? I'm more positive on their potential. I believe they can certainly make some noise in the play-offs. The inside-outside duo of EB and Boom Dizzle will cause many headaches: most people agree this much. However, after finishing 23-59 last year, many do not rate the rest of the Clippers roster. This puzzles me. How short is their memory? The squad is not much different to that which pushed Pheonix to 7 games in the classic Western Conference Semis in 05/06. Sam Cassell and Vladimir Radmanovic are gone, and Maggette looks likely to leave, but otherwise you have Brand, Chris Kaman, Cat Mobley, Shaun Livingston and Quinton Ross who all have experience playing high-intensity play-off games together. Throw in Al Thornton, who looks like atleast a solid starter in this league, Eric Gordon (who could be hit or miss for my money) and Davis and how can you say they won't make any noise in the play-offs? (I should probably mention Tim Thomas is there too...although this is deservedly an afterthought)

40 wins in 06/07 and 23 last season. OK...let's not judge these win totals fully. In 06/07 the Clippers admittedly could have played better. But they were also hit by some injuries. Often they were essentially without a point guard, with Cassell and Livingston injured. And last season? Calling out the Clippers for that win total last year is incredibly harsh in my opinion. Injury-wise, it was a nightmare. Their franchise player (Brand) was out for the whole year. Their other big man, just-turned-German Chris Kaman, showed great improvement until he too missed most of the second half of the season due to injury. Let's also not forget that Livingston missed the whole season too. The Clippers just could not develop a reliable rotation thanks to the horrible run of injuries. Only one player started more than 60 games for the franchise...that was Maggette, and even he only started 65. The player who appeared in the most games for Clips was Thornton, their rookie. With all this in mind, how can you judge that season? Quite simply you cannot.

So how will their roster look next year? Assuming DeAndre Jordan plays in the D-League, Maggette leaves and noting that Dan Dickau, Paul Davis and Smush Parker have not been offered new contracts, it will look something like this (a "u" indicates the player is an unrestricted free agent, and "r" indicates he is a restricted free agent, so all this may obviously change rendering this article pointless):

PG - Baron Davis
SG - Cat Mobley
SF - Al Thornton
PF - Elton Brand (u)
C - Chris Kaman
Bench - Quinton Ross (u), Shaun Livingston (u), Eric Gordon, Tim Thomas, Nick Fazekas (r), Brevin Knight, Josh Powell, Marcus Williams (r)

The Clippers should perhaps look for a veteran wing or big on the free agent market to complete their roster.

Look at that team...not bad at all. Consider these guys a threat in 2009 play-offs!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Horford is Real (as are the Hawks)

Yes, I said Horford does not deserve to be this year's Rookie of the Year. By now, everyone pretty much agrees with this.

But that said: this Horford kid...he's got it. You know..."it"! He has it! That thing that elevates a player over others with similar skill and size. That thing that makes players become fan favourites, and that thing that draws the best out of his team-mates. That thing that let's the opposition know you don't take no shit...that thing that helps win games.

Horford, like Durant, has got it...and all of a sudden the Hawks seem to have a starting five with great potential. No, they probably won't win this series against Boston, but they have shown that on some nights they can match it with the best of the best. Give this team another year or so, and they could go places. Let's have a look at the starting 5.

PG - Mike Bibby
If he has an injury free pre-season and can grab some time to fully mesh with his new team-mates, next year could be a great one for the Hawks. He's still young enough to contribute his best to this team for a few seasons.

SG - Joe Johnson
The guy simply can make buckets. Some nights he may go cold, but when he is hot you can ride him for an easy W. Hand in the face? Doesn't matter. Fade-away? Money. When he is on, he can shoot with the best of them. On his off nights, that's when you need your post presence.

SF - Marvin Williams
Sure, he was picked over CP3. But that was hardly his fault, was it? The kid is getting better all the time. Possesing a solid mid-range jumper, nice finishing around the rim and a good Free Throw percentage, Williams is finally showing us what he can do. Not a terrible player to have there at the SF glueing things together. He definetely has another gear to climb, though.

PF - Josh Smith
OK, this guy is my favourite player. But looking past that, what does he bring to the table? He is probably the most athletically gifted player in the league, bar Lebron. Coupled with a natural defensive instinct, you better watch out when you are attempting to finish a fast break, or even in the half-court. Smith will most likely always be hovering. His shooting is a weakness, and incredibly streaky. It does seem however, he posseses enough of a base to improve this into a strength. Much practice will be needed in this area. Add this to his game, and he will be an All-Star, of that there is no doubt. He already fills up the stats sheet...with more PPG added he would be an incredibly useful player to build around.

C - Al Horford
The rather small line-up is completed by Horford. There is a reason he was part of two NCAA championship winning teams. He plays with heart, and confidence. His energy is infectouos. It seems that he will be towards the top of the rebounds per game list for years to come. Obviously he needs to work on his offensive game and lift his FG%. He may struggle at times around the rim, being smaller than your average centre, but must work to make up for this and get easy buckets on the fast break. It also seems he has a few moves that work from time to time which should be developed, as well as a mid-range jumper.

This young starting line-up offers plenty of potential. Childress offers a good option off the bench, but otherwise depth is a weakness in this Atlanta team. A solid veteran or two wouldn't go astray. A genuine 7-footer is also needed, and I would recommend the Hawks do all they can to secure one in the upcoming draft. Complete all these items on the franchise-building check-list and the Hawks could go somewhere real soon...let's see how it pans out.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Silence this Horford talk...Durant is MVP

All year I have attempted to let my fellow basketball fans know that Durant is for real. I have championed his cause, and even gone so far as to say he will be more effective than Lebron offensively.

I take the same retorts over and over: nah, dude's shooting like 40% and look at Seattle's record. Plus his D is pretty average. They then go on to claim that not only is Durant not "all that", but Atlanta's Al Horford should be MVP. For example, this article.

First of all, lets tackle these claims against Durant. He is actually shooting 42.5% now. This is higher than Lebron shot in his rookie year. No one was ever talking down on Lebron back then, and for good reason: he has blossomed into the most dangerous offensive player in the game. People would be wise to not judge players while they are still in their first year, and still teenagers. And let's look at Durant's recent month of March and early April. He is shooting 50% and consistently scoring 20+ points per game. He is already improving his shot selection and the results are impressive. He is already learning: and that's the thing about Kevin, he really wants to learn. He wants to improve. He is going to get the most out of his potential.

"But Seattle's record is pathetic!" Obviously. They gave away Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, what do you expect. With either of them Durant would be getting easier looks, and the team would be getting more wins. There's no doubt he would be consensus ROY if either of those players had stayed. However, in the long run, this move is great. Why waste time...let Durant learn how to be the primary scorer now. To shoot 42.5% and 20 PPG in your rookie year when you are 19 and drawing the opposition's best defender every night is a very good effort, to me. Watch these numbers rise in coming years, like Lebron's did. Speaking of Lebron, Durant could match him or even eclipse him offensively: he has a better jumper, and seems to be an elite Free Throw Shooter. Rarely will you find a 19 year old shoot 90% from the line. This will allow him to use his height and attack the rim with the defender scared to give up the foul. Back off him? He'll shoot that smooth mid-range will be damned either way. Durant will be a hell of match up problem.

"He plays no D!" Well, he is learning. He actually does play D, you can tell he is trying. I've seen coach Carlesimo put him on the premier scorer on the opposition and often Durant does a good job. His length troubles shooters. He currently struggles a little with lateral movement on the quicker, smaller guards...and probably will for the remainder of his career. However, Durant is going to be useful defensively. His long arms will pick off many steals and blocks. It is no secret though, that Durant's biggest asset is his offense. And those who point out that he is 6'9 yet only averages 4.2 boards a game can be quiet...he plays SG. Sure, he is 6'9, but he is out on the perimeter. How is he supposed to grab 7+ boards per game? (Unless his name is Kidd)

Finally, no offense, but if you give Al Horford ROY you are making a big mistake. Dude seems solid. People say he is on a team making a run at the play-offs. His team is winning more than Durant's, so he must therefore get ROY. Um...ok then, how come Bogut didn't win ROY in 2005? He took the Bucks to the play-offs, while Paul couldn't get the Hornets there. Yet it was obvious Paul was a superstar in this game. It is also obvious Durant is a superstar. When it comes to the ROY award, wins shouldn't account for all that much. Of course Durant has less wins...look at the age of his teammates. Does he have a Joe Johnson, Josh Smith or Mike Bibby on his team? Nope, he has no help of that quality. Of course the Hawks are going to win more games. And let's quickly analyse the stats. Sure, he is averaging twice the rebounds of Durant. He looks like a great rebounder. But he is averaging half the points. He is averaging less steals and blocks than Durant. He is the team's 5th scoring option yet only shoots 50% under the rim. No doubt he is the second best rookie of the year. And there are a lot of good rookies this year. I seen him: he runs the floor well, shoots solid Free Throw numbers and will be a very good player. But Durant is in another class as far as I'm concerned.

I will finish my argument pointing to his game tonight against the Nuggets. 37 points? Nice. 9 assists? Word. 8 boards? Not bad. Two clutch threes (the second of which was DEEEEP) to force OT then OT2 before going on to win the game? Priceless!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ill clips from recent weeks

Sean P baby! Ya'll know I love this cat...this recent clip gives a sample of what he is capable of.

Here is DJ Khalil previewing a track from the upcoming Nas album. This shit sounds ill!!!

And this is a vid of this cat named 6th Sense who is a producer/rapper making waves right now...his album "It's Coming Soon" is supposedly ill. I will check it out in due course.

Also there is this cat from NY, Cory Gunz, who I been checking out his stuff recently. Here is a clip of him "freestyling". Dude is signed to Def Jam and was making waves a few years ago (he released 3 "The Apprentice" mixtapes which are worth checking out. He then dropped off a bit, but now he is back - he features on the recently released Lil Wayne - A Millie track. Can't find a link that works for that atm, but if you type in Cory Gunz in isohunt you'll find it for ya'll torrent lovers. Either way, check this cat out. He is fire...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top 10 Hip-Hop Shows I've Been To

DJ prolly saw him on Common's "The Food" vid from Chappelle's Show

What is hip-hop without live shows? Nothing at all. Providing experiences that simply cannot be matched by bumping a record in your car or room, hip-hop shows are things I can't get enough of. It cripples me financially, but fuck it...only live once. Here's my top 10 hip-hop shows I've attended:

1. Common
This was the greatest show I've been was, in fact, at Big Day Out (Jan 2006). It was the last session of the day, and the vibe there was just great, even before Common stepped out. DJ Dummy, Common's road DJ, was spinning some classic hip-hop tunes, and I remember he put on Shook Ones Part II and these two cats were reciting every line of Prodigy's verse. I joined in. I fucking love that verse. Every track Dummy put on was just a straight out classic, and it was setting the mood perfectly. Then Common came out, and by then the sun was pretty much set. But it had been a hot day, and the evening was still quite warm. The show was in a tent type thing you see often at these music festivals, so it was a real nice warmish yet outside-fresh feeling in there. Common took the vibe that had established itself and just multiplied it by a million. He connected with the crowd like few do. He mixed it up with some Resurrection, Like Water for Chocolate and Be joints. The DJing was perfect, every word was clear, and what's more, you could tell he was living each song individually, which means the crowd felt it even more. Then Dummy had a 5-10 minute solo scratch session which was fucking incredible. The shit he was doing was crazy. Then Common continued on with his most popular songs, and he picked some fine lady out of the crowd to dance with him for one love-ballad track. Then came everyone's favourite, "I used to love H.E.R.", where he rapped the second half accapella which was sick. I think he finished off with a "Be" joint, although I can't remember what it was cos I was already blown away by the show. But yeh, that was an incredible show...
2. Kanye West
Lol yeah this was later on, some time in Winter 2006, at Festival Hall here in Melbourne. And Common was there again for a brief cameo. But this show was a great achievment by Kanye. A great spectacle...great energy from Ye. There was a 5-piece mini orchestra feat Miri Ben Ari...I assume it was her anyway. Halfway through the show she just started playing random violin riffs that weren't related to Kanye in any way. She played "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and the crowd went off at that. But yeah as I say, Kanye had great energy and the crowd was really feelin it.
3. M.I.A.
Yes I classify this as hip-hop. And she was incredibly charismatic up there on stage. Her lame little dancing was awesome, and she was just so cool! This show was early 2007 I think at Prince of Wales, St Kilda. The lights I remember were awesome. Everything was always pink and purple and shit, which matched the music. M.I.A. bounced her way through the show and this was before Kala, so no "Paper Planes" yet. Even so, it was mad!
4. De La Soul
Word. This was at Prince of Wales again, probably in 2005 sometime. Maseo was getting the crowd going something crazy. And you just gotta love these cats, the way they do it. You talk about personality on stage. These guys had it. Pos just straight out murders his lines live, as they are kinda of conversational he's like talking to the crowd when rapping. Plug 2 comes direct too. It's just dope to watch. So I'm sure every show they do, even though there's no fancy shit, is awesome. Just because of the way they do it...
5. Jay-Z
This was definetely the largest hip-hop show I been to. I believe it was sometime in 2007, and it was at Rod Laver Arena. Plenty of too-young-to-be-wearing-that girls around, which was um...bad. Lol. NeYo opened...and I actually didn't mind his set. Then Rihanna came on and I didn't really enjoy it. Her forehead was huge with the way she had her hair. But anyways, then came Jay. He rocked the house for sure, and Just Blaze was there behind him churning the tunes out. My only gripe was that there wasn't enough old shit. ZERO Reasonable Doubt jawns? Come on dude. I guess all us Australian cats don't really know that shit, and he was doing all the mainstream shit for the young girls and shit. But it was cool when he pointed out random people in the crowd and commented on their fashion sense. My homeboy got a shout out which was cool. Jay liked his hoody or some shit. Then to wrap it up everyone involved with the show came on stage, including Beyonce, and danced. It was a happy moment, and rounded out a real good show.
6. Slum Village
This was at the Espy, late 2007. After a few joints outside, I proceded into the rear ESPY band room for the first time. I is actually an awesome hip-hop venue. Just the right size for international large-type underground acts. There was a great atmosphere in here yet again, which made it a very enjoyable show. There were a lot of shout outs to Jay Dilla and it was cool to head-nod to his joints with the Slum cats. Those guys came nice live too, I especially took a liking to T3's style. And Elzhi did an acapella freestyle which I recall was incredibly dope with incredible mutli-syllable rhymes. But yeh that was a nice show.
7. Dizzee Rascal
This was at Prince of Wales a month or two ago (2008). Dude came out and just did my 2 of my favourite tracks first, I was fucking amped. I loved how he came out and did that. "I Luv U" got the crowd rocking, following it up with "Where Da G's". Halfway through the show he just says "this is for all the indie heads" and puts on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana and just rocks out with the crowd through that, then White Stripe's "7 Nation Army." I never experienced anything like that at a hip-hop show before. It was insane. The crowd ate it up. And then? "Fix Up Look Sharp!" Awesome. But then the last coupla tracks weren't my favs of his...a few of them "Showtime" jawns. And then there was no encore. That also was a first...
8. Talib Kweli + Jean Grae
This was at Good Vibrations...2006. It was barely a day after Jay Dee had died, and Kweli was noticeably not as happy as he good be, but gave a great tribute to him. His voice was kinda not like on his studio he had a tough schedule he couldn't deliver the rhymes in that pristine high-pitched voice, but rather in a shouting lower voice that kinda gets the crowd going more anyway. But I prefer the studio voice. Anyways, he spat it real, and the crowd was really feelin it, especially for "Get By". Jean Grae was there too and contributed some mad verses...she really left a positive influence on me and crowd.
9.Masta Ace, Stricklin and Wordsworth
This was just like a few months ago, again at the ESPY, like a couple of weeks after the Slum Village show. And I gotta say, it was definetely the latest show I been to. Those kants started at like 12:40AM, finished up at like 3AM. Cos at like 2:20AM Ace was like "let's just keep going, ya'll are awesome." The crowd was feeling it, that's for was straight hip-hop. Personally the late thing got to me cos my back was hurting after all that standing. Lol. But yeah the way Ace rocked it, it was like late 80s New York again. And Stricklin really comes nice...his voice translates well to the live stage, and he is very charismatic up there on stage. Wordsworth also rocked out an awesome freestyle which culminated with him walking up to this security guy who was standing there on stage and proclaiming "[something something something rhymes with "friends"] / theres no need for security, these people are all my friends" or something like that and the crowd went crazy. You could also tell he was a veteran of live shows. When Ace did the "Nostalgia", "Brooklyn Masala", "Beautiful" joints, I was loving it, the whole crowd was just vibing out to them. A fair few tracks Ace did I wasn't familiar with, as I only have listened to "Disposable Arts" and "A Long Hot Summer". He said each show he did he chose different tracks at random. But yeh it was a pretty ill show in conclusion.
10. Ugly Duckling + Pigeon John
This was one of the first shows I went to. Would've been 2004 or so probably not long after I turned 18. I remember Pigeon John (who I had no idea who he was) opening for them and then joining them during their set. And we was a fucking funny kant up there on stage. Got the whole crowd laughing and shit. I went home and downloaded his shit immediately, and love Pigeon to this very day. And Ugly Duckling just played a straight out hip-hop-upped show, as UD say themselves, DJ Einstein just rocks loops and Dizzy and Andy just spit some sick lines over it. I remember they got some guy from the crowd to drink a "Meatshake" and obviosuly it looked gross. And Piegon came back on dressed as Pete the cow - remember Pete the Cow from the "Taste the Secret" album? Lol.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Top 10 Guest Verses of all Time

There's nothing worse than a plethora of featured artists ruining the flow of an album. However, on the flipside, there is also nothing better than a guest who just rips up a track. These performances really can boost an album, if used effectively. Consider it like having a good 6th man on the bench. You don't want him playing the whole game, but you want him to bring energy when required, to keep everyone on their toes. Who is the greatest artist at performing these feats (pun intended)? Probably Busta. That kat comes with energy and spits many of his best verses while featuring on tracks. But what are the greatest individual guest performances in the history of hip-hop? Here are ten that I think are ill, although of course everyone's list would be different. 2 Rules: no R&B jawns with female singers where a rapper is featuring to do the verse/verses; Ghostface appearing on a Raekwon track doesn't count as a guest verse.

1. Busta Rhymes (A Tribe Called Quest - Scenario)
This gotta be number one though, right? Everyone knows this verse. And not only was it hot, it was the first real introduction to many people of Busta Rhymes.
2. AZ (Nas - Life's a Bitch)
Again, everyone knows this shit. He just keeps flowing and spits knowledge after knowledge. For example: "In actuality, fuck whose the baddest / A person's status depends on salary" Oh, you flip-flopped the rhyme pattern in an illmatic way. That is fucking sick.
3. Ghostface (GZA - 4th Chamber)
An ill track, and an ill opening verse to it. "Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why did Judas rat to the Romans while Jesus slept?" Who could forget that line? Or when he starts taking us through a history lesson, talking about the dark ages and Ghengis Khan and shit. This verse sets the tone, and the following verses live up to this first one. Mission accomplished.
4. Common (Blackstar - Respiration)
"It's deep, I heard the city breathe in its sleep / Of reality I touch, but for me it's hard to keep" And so ends one of the most amazing verses you'll ever hear. Common wraps up this classic song perfectly. Theres not much more to say other than that if you haven't heard this song you are fucking sleeping and should hear it prompto.
5. Dr Dre (Tupac - California Love)
Dre on a top 10 verses list? Word em up son. I put this here, cos it's hard to ignore. Everyone knows Dre's verse. There must be a reason. It is pretty ill. I don't care if it was ghost-written. Dre rides this beat expertly and really sets it up for Pac's 2nd verse assault.
6. Method Man (Notorious B.I.G. - The What)
You're the only guy to feature on one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all-time? You better fucking bring the goods. And there were no disappointments. Method Man probably showed Biggie up on this track, if anything...
7. Eminem (Jay-Z - Renegade)
Just like Eminem did on this track. It's just some incredible rhyming, all while really proving a point: fuck all ya'll hypocritical old cunts who lay blame at hip-hop (namely Eminem) for the world's problems. "And I got nothing to do but make you look stupid as parents / You fucking do-gooders: too bad you couldn't do good at marriage (ha-ha!)"
8. M Sayyid (Viktor Vaughn - Never Dead)
This is a great storytellin track. M Sayyid perfectly complements Viktor Vaughn's science-lab themed anecdotes. They tag-team their way through school bullies, time-travel and never-dead roaches in a short-story of epic proportions. And in the end, everything is just as it was at the number 1 requirement for an ill short story.
9. Stricklin (Masta Ace - F.A.Y.)
This verse just makes you sit up the first time you hear it. "Wait, is he actually dissing himself? Did he just say the hip-hop lifestyle isn't all that? he admitting he is broke as fuck?" Yeah. He is. And it's refreshing. And Strick's style makes it all the more enjoyable to listen to.
10. Talib Kweli (Mos Def - Know That)
This is just tag-team fire right here. The beat is just begging for a guest to come and rip it up. And Kweli does just that. "MCs imitate the way we walk, the way we talk / you cats spit lyrically awkward, no spiritual thought / your flow a little bit off" That's just a line picked at random and it's fucking sick!

Wildcard 1: Nas & Lil Wayne (Rich Boy - Ghetto Rich (Remix))
This one is like double trouble. Or quintuple trouble...Polow da Don provides a stunning soundscape here, Rich Boy laces it quite nicely, John Legend croons out a beautiful hook...and then (on the remix) here comes Lil Wayne. It's one of them serious Weezy verses. "I could never never win an Oscar, cos I don't know how to act / Saw my first million dollars, and I don't know how to act / Then the second million came, then more came after that / then more came after that...hurricane after that...Dayum! / And ya'll saw the aftermath, and in my hood we don't front so I do give back..." etc. And then Nas has an ill verse that just fits the melancholy introspective beat so well. "Then the homies on the block with the stacks of money / Then these beautiful bitches was bending backwards for me / The lames put the rap game in the casket slowly [sound of casket closing] / Man I don't give a fuck...this is rap to me"
Wildcard 2: Outkast (UGK - International Playa's Anthem)
Both Andre and Big Boi bookend this UGK hit, and they both come with some great shit on this track. Andre is genius: "Then I CCed every girl that I'd see see around town." While Big Boi let's it rain on those ladies living nicely off child support: "Better prepare ya for the C support / She supposed to spend it on that baby but we see she don't...Send her in to outer space, I know he wish he could / Cuz he payin' 20K a day, that bitch is eating good"