Conya Doss – Pocket Full of Purpose: The review

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GET YOUR OFFICIAL COPY TODAY!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most official review of this album… any review I do will be the most official review for that album. Anyway, here we do not judge names, bank statements, or TMZ appearances. We judge music. Dig that.

Songs are judged on a 0-5 basis (0 being cheeks, 5 being classic), and the judgement is based on the following: lyrics, production, and the cohesiveness of the two. Whether or not the song is good for what it was intended to do, and its according entertainment value.  Now, I am going to be very specific with what these numeric values mean in terms of what I am giving them. Here is the scale:

 

0-1.5 – Amongst the most terrible songs i’ve ever heard

2 – Bad song

2.5 – average song- not good/not awful

3 – pretty good, not mind blowing but good

3.5 – I could ride out to this

4 – Has great replay value

4.5 – Song/Album of the year candidate

5 – Classic hip-hop/soul record

 

Albums in totality are judged by the same, but including flow of the album and consistency of attributes throughout the album. With that being said

 

Most artist are on the verge of falling off by their sixth album. Especially their sixth album in ten years. There is a grand burn out factor to consider…usually. Conya Doss out of Cleveland, Ohio attempts to not be a casualty of this notion with her sixth album, Pocket Full of Purpose.  Conya is a staple in the soul music scene, and deserves the recognition as that.  My first two listens of this album were in my offices while doing reports, and were admittingly vague.  However, I argue that vague listening is necessary as is comprehensive listening to get a complete understanding of what you are musically dealing with.  So after six total listens to Pocket Full of Purpose, I am in a place where I can effectively reach out to Conya Doss fans, and those who stumble upon this review to share some grand insight into the music.

1. Reaching For The Stars – Nice opening song. Her lyrics on this joint are seductive as well as uplifting and progressive. Nice upbeat tempo. I can’t front on it at all.  4/5

2. I Want It All – More of the traditional R&B joints on the album in terms of content and sound. I personally like songs by women that denounce the relationship and social dominance that many men hold onto women with. 3.5/5

3.Paradise- I’m a fan of this one. I love the feel of the music… on some walking in the park telling jokes and swinging and other shit that adults don’t do on a regular basis. This is also a cohesive joint…it flows well. It just works. 4/5

4. What About You and Me feat. Chris McNeal – Another traditional but smooth joint. This one is a duet that works out very well. Chris McNeal adds a very precise male perspective that takes the song to another level. One of the better duets that I’ve heard in a while. 4/5

5. Piano Interlude – Ok, this interlude is pretty bad. It’s a good idea, but it sounds pretty corny..especially the last cat to leave a message. The piano is nice though. 3/5

6. Don’t Change – This is the album’s single. I’m in love with this production. It really doesnt matter whats said at this point…im sold on the track. With that said, she compliments the production with a clever and inspiring sentiment to a man. These words, every man would love to hear from a woman, but rarely do. I feel good just hearing them spoken generally in the song. Great single choice. 4/5

7. Just Me – Conya has a knack for eloquently addressing human elements in her lyrics- this song is a perfect example of this quality. One of the slower tracks on the album in terms of entertainment value. Still knocks though. I don’t thing Conya is capable of making an outright bad record.  3.5/5

8. Letter – Ok, when the joint first came on I could have sworn I heard it earlier in the album.  There is a redundant element in the lyrical content to this song that keeps me from enjoying it. 2.5/5

9. Here for You – This song is redundant as well, musically…but its a good song so I can’t front on it. 3/5

10.  Jamie (Come Back) – This is a funky joint. I like the musical direction and the story. The concept of the song is beautiful, and is one that is lost in the sentiment of blowing up is everything amongst the current field of artists. This needs to be heard. 3.5/5

11. Lost – I love this one. Has a very improve/jam session feel to it. Really sets the tone for the back half of the album. 4/5

12. Where Do We Go From Here? – This song is a well written articulation of a common issue in relationships that are ending. While I am not a big fan of this song aesthetically, I do like the direction that is taken. 3/5

13.  Ill Say Yes – Perfectly placed as the last song on the album.  The slow tempo seems to balance the album musically and create a more cohesive element as an ending.  It is musically and lyrically pleasing. Saving the best for last, I call it… 4/5

Conclusion: The album starts off strong, grows a little snooze, and then picks up at the end. Overall, there are many good to very good songs on this album. Pocket Full is also cohesive, and edgy in terms of the complete sound.  After listening to the album, the album title is very appropriate and well placed. This album reminds me of Glenn Lewis’ World Outside My Window with a feminine twist.  That concept of burning out that I mentioned earlier…don’t worry about it. Conya good.

4/5

-Sonny Rockwell

 

Conya Doss “Pocket Full of Purpose” Official Album Release

GET YOUR OFFICIAL COPY TODAY!

Songstress Conya Doss official album release concert for her new album entitled “Pocket Full of Purpose” will be held Saturday, April 21st, 2012
The Loft at Center Stage
1374 West Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Special Guest: Chantae Cann

Buy your tickets HERE

Doors Open @ 7:30 pm
Show Starts @ 8:30 pm

 

Sonny Rockwell as: The Ghost of Battle’s Past

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I have a serious serious problem with many fans’ perspective of hiphop battles. There seems to be way too much analyzing things that are irrelevant to the superiority of one emcee to the other. For example, one used to be a corrections officer, or one had sex with the other one’s baby moms, or one is ugly or wealthier and a plethora of random ignorant concepts that keeps people from looking at what is important: The musical output. There are also major inconsistencies in the outlooks of fans.  People say things like, “Oh, he’s just doing that to get publicity for his album/sale records” and in the same breath diss a cat for not selling records. In short, the perception of what it takes to reign supreme in a battle is collectively sloppy in the hiphop community, which explains why we can have situations such as 50 cent vs Jadakiss, Fat Joe, and Nas even though 50 barely as much as spit 2 bars toward any of them. Ridiculous I know.

 

I can go on and on about the importance of the battle in hiphop culture. I’m not going to do that right now. Besides, just as relevant as its place in the culture is this fact; everyone enjoys a battle, and that is a concept that goes beyond hiphop.  America is a culture of confrontation. With that being said, the outcome of battles have been long debated and examined in hiphop.  Well, right now, the god is about to put all that shit to rest. I’m laying the law about a few of the most debated hiphop battles amongst heads. Lets take it from the top…

 

LL Cool J vs Canibus:  LL Cool J has always been a bitch with power. What I mean by that is that he creates emotionally charged scenarios in which he should feel disrespected, and proceeds to attack accordingly. Honestly, I believe these were just his rationalizations for getting his legacy up on cats. It was no different with Canibus. 

 

The Story: Canibus was a feature on LL’s 1997 song “4,3,2,1” which also featured Method Man, Redman, and Master P (lol)  On the record, Canibus asks to borrow the mic on LL’s arm. LL somehow took that as disrespect and and recorded vocals that responded to the request of Canibus. Canibus then, on his first album, released a response to LL entitled, “Second Round KO” along with numerous random freestyles and such.  LL responded with “The Ripper Strikes Back” and “Back Where I Belong” on his album called “The G.O.A.T.”

 

The Real: LL starting stuff for no reason. I think that he thought that this was going to be a typical LL Cool J flex session where he showed the rap world that he was still the bully on the block. Well, he bit off more than he can chew this time.  Canibus was a young lion, and LL simply was not ready to trade lyrical jabs with that level of hunger and skill.  Second Round KO may very well be the most treacherous lyrical assault in hiphop history. It is certainly one of the best diss records.  LL responded to Second Round KO with a solid one liner, but the execution of KO: The Mike Tyson intro, the beat, the opening and ending…it was just a fantastic diss record.  If LL wasn’t already a legend, Second Round KO would have made him obsolete.

 

The Winner: Canibus

 

Jadakiss vs Beanie Sigel

 

The Story: Jadakiss and Jay-z came to odds, because Jay-z allegedly (most likely) bought his way onto the remix of R. Kelly’s “Fiesta” which was supposed to be Kells and Kiss. Kiss takes initiative and spits a few potent bars over the track with Styles P. Tension was thick amongst what were the two most popular crews in New York at the time. Me and my man Stu had got a bootleg copy of Jadakiss’ underwhelming debut solo album, “Kiss The Game Goodbye” the summer before it dropped. We sat at my grandmother’s house playing NBA live and listening to the album.  We both sat back in disgust in what we were hearing, especially me because at the time Jadakiss was my rap hero. I really thought he was next up. I was stewing in my depression, and then the last song on the bootleg came on.  DMX was on it, cool. “I only gave you the crown so I can shoot it off your fucking head…” he snarls.  Subliminal to Jay-z? Now I’m hype. Then we get to Kiss’ verse. “Don’t try to apologize on your two way, sympathy don’t amuse me…” Easily the highlight of the entire album. Half way through the verse he “had to stop eating red meat cause he ate to many beanie macs…” Ok, now I forget all about how trash the album was, and im focused on what seemed to be a ruff ryder/rocafella war brewing.  Not long after that, DJ clue drops a stadium tape. The first two tracks of this tape? A Beanie Sigel diss to Jadakiss, and Jada’s response.  After these initial diss records came numerous radio freestyle and live freestyle disses by each emcee.

 

The Real: Kiss and Beans are two superior emcees, so their battle was greatly anticipated. As generals, so to speak, of their camps it also seemed to be the set up for a possible war. In terms of the two diss records, Jada’s was more concise and potent.  Bean’s had plenty of punchlines and bars for Kiss, but in the end, Kiss delivered lines that directly addressed many of Sigel’s circumstances and came with some facts. Facts are always impressive, and serve as more cunning in the field of battle. Now, outside of the diss records, Beans dominated.  He did a live freestyle in New York..it was live as hell. He did a hot 97 freestyle that he later did on Rap city the basement…it was live as hell. Kiss was relatively quiet outside of the diss records. However, in a battle the diss record is always the paramount aspect of the battle. The diss record exchange was good punchlines vs potent punchlines. Potent punchlines won

 

The Winner:  Jadakiss

 

 

You knew I was going to do this right?

 

Nas vs Jay-Z

 

The story:  Let me take this from THE TOP…THE TOP, TOP.  Now, my first tidbit is their interaction on tour. Nas was touring with Main Source and Jay-Z was touring with Jaz-O altogether with UMCs. There was an altercation between the two of them that got physical, in which Nas was the victor. (I’ll still whip your ass, you 36 in a karate class…)  Jay-Z the ego, went a pulled a pistol on Nas after the altercation. (I showed you your first tec on tour with large professor…) 

 

Fast forward to 1995 or so… Jay-Z is making a regional buzz with his song “Dead Presidents”, which features a Nas sample from the song “The World is Yours” Jay-Z attempted to get Nas to feature on Dead Presidents II for his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Jay-Z got a hold of Nas through a mutual friend of a friend by the name of Chase. (In 88, you was getting Chase to your building. Calling my crib and I aint even give you my numbers…) (Just Hawaiian shirts, hanging with little Chase…) Nas declined. More bad blood.

 

Jay-Z started smashing Nas’ baby moms/fiancée, Carmen. Obvious bad blood. From this point, many subliminals were shot. Nas and Jay-Z go on as the two biggest names in New York since the death of Big, Jay-Z as the rap phenomenon king pin, Nas as the lyrical genius. It all boils over at Summer Jam 2001.  Jay-Z performs Takeover. He stops at the second verse though, where he raps… “Ask Nas, he don’t want it with Hov…”  New York goes crazy.  Shortly thereafter, goes on the radio and addresses the situation. Here he releases his “Stillmatic freestyle” which also obviously is a promotion to his album that was to be released the end of that year.  September 11, 2001…Blueprint drops. The full version of Takeover is on there. December 4, 2001 Ether is released to DJs and radio outlets. Shortly after, superugly. Nas makes many references to the battle and sonning Jay-Z (which at the time, before all of the revisionist history..was common knowledge) A year later, Jay-z releases the blueprint 2. 

 

 

The Real: This battle to this day is subject to debate. Ill use the term debate loosely..well, because Jay clearly lost the battle.  It’s 2012, and people on-line use the word “ether and ethered” as a term meaning that somebody got their ass handed to them. All of this trying to cope with that one true blemish on Jay-Z’s career. Stop it. There is no such thing as, “Jay lost the battle, but won the war.” No war is being fought. Their career paths after the battle were already in determination before the battle, nor is it a competition between to men to see who can make the most money or see who can be more of a celebrity.  The path that Jay-Z has taken is the path that he always intended for himself, as is the case for Nas. They are two different paths, but they clashed at the top. End of story.  There is no, “Takeover was the better SONG though”…the fuck does that mean? It’s a battle. Who made the best diss record? or is there a way to disregard that?  Stop with the, “Nas told jokes, Jay spit facts…” This is a fallacy. So every nas album not named Illmatic is wack? That’s a fact? No, that’s a trevesty of an outlook to have as a fan. A nigga who grew up in Queensbridge projects didnt see a gun until he left those projects and went on tour at age 17 or 18 or so? C’mon. “I sampled your voice, you were using it wrong…” LMAO what?? If making “The World is Yours” is using your voice wrong… There was some truth in Takeover (I know who I paid God, Serchlite publishing) and it was a great diss record, but all in all it was a verse full of well put bullshit claims.  

Ether had some silly jokes, yes. Ether also had many facts.  KRS already made an album called Blueprint- fact.  The little Chase references -fact. Rocafella, the inspiration for the label’s name did indeed die of aids. Foxy got you hot…truth to it.  Eminem murdered you on your own shit- well, you heard Renegade lol.  How much of Biggies rhymes is gonna come out your fat lips? That’s a twofer. You pop shit and apologize nigga just ask kiss…I addressed that earlier. 

Aside from the fact or fiction game, Nas was relentless for three verses. Jay-Z, I dont know if he thought Nas was done or something, but he made the mistake of his life by just making nas a co defendant on Takeover. It just wasn’t a good idea. To top it all off, Jay-Z, a year later finally seriously responds to ether. He makes it the title track to his double album, and on it he admits that he got sonned. “For I will not lose, even in defeat it’s a valuable lesson learned so it evens it out for me…” L.

The Winner: Nas

 

Feel free to leave comments and speak to me directly about blogs and posts. I love to hear feedback, positive or negative.

Lonnie, Aubrey, and the politics of beef

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The battle, the participants, the reason for the battle…follow me.

1981: Kool Moe Dee vs Busy Bee Starski. Busy Bee was on the mic saying nobody could touch him. Moe Dee heard it. Battle ensues.

around 1986-87: Kool Moe Dee vs LL Cool J. Moe Dee says LL stole his style

1985-1986: The Bridge Wars (BDP vs The Juice Crew). KRS takes offense to the song “The Bridge” where The Juice Crew allegedly says that hiphop started in Queens. (That didn’t really happen, KRS just wanted to get his name up on them)

Say…1994-95ish: Ice Cube vs Common. Another instance of word misinterpretation. This time on the part of Ice Cube and Westside Connection.  Mack 10 went as far as saying that hiphop started in the west. lol picture that.

2001: Jay-Z vs Nas: They had a load of personal history, but at the end of the day, Jay-Z was in mortal kombat and in order to be the official winner, he had to beat the boss at the end.

2012: Common vs Drake: This whole thing is (allegedly) over Serena Williams. “They” say that Common is jealous that Drake got with her, and he does not like the way Drake treats Serena. At this point, I will call this pure speculation. For those who have not followed Common’s career, this story explains the song “Sweet” but what Common did in Sweet, he has done consistently throughout his career; Common attacked today’s reigning rap trend. On Resurrection he attacked the gangsta concept, on One Day he attacked the blatant sampling that was going on in the jiggy era (cough, cough puff)…On Like Water For Chocolate…there’s “Doinit”…Electric Circus had “Aquarius”…Be? Chi City… this is nothing new. Popular rappers in 2011-2012 are generally on the soft side. Drake takes offense though. Which, I honestly do not blame him for. He responds with a pretty ill subliminal verse, which I honestly do not blame him for. Common responds with a pretty ill verse, that I do not blame him for. Many fans of Common’s hay day are totally biased, and somewhat delusional about what Common’s current lyrical capabilities are. On the other hand, Drake fans are equally biased, and are coming up with any scenario possible for why Common should not have dissed Drake.  Now we are here. There is an uproar, but there are more- larger hiphop culture concepts that are surfacing based on this clash of the generations.

The hip-hop battle always has, and always will, primarily be a method of proving superiority as an emcee. Furthermore, the only logic behind dissing another rapper that you need is that you want to show superiority over said rapper. At one point, emcees had to battle to even get respected as an emcee on the mic. This is the culture of emceeing within hiphop.  Always has been, always will be. “You are getting a lot of publicity for your skill level, but i’m better than you. I deserve your publicity and I am going to prove that.” or “You going platinum, but you ain’t nice like that” or “We bumped heads in private, so to get you back i’m going to have a negative affect on your career by dissing you” and now that we are in the capitalist era of hiphop (Have been for about 15 years now) “This is really going to boost my sales” Whatever the case, ALL of these reasons to diss another rapper are valid. Nobody is immune to lyrical warfare in rap. That’s like being an NBA player, but never once having to man up on another individual player.

But cats aren’t seeing it this way anymore. Hiphop fans have become republican. Their ideologies protect the careers and interests of the record executives and the popular rappers…the top 1% of rap, if you will.  Now, if a rapper disses a rapper with more status in pop culture..he is hating. He should just fall back and let niggas get money.  Trying to get publicity as a rapper by outrapping some one who is hotter is somehow frowned upon.  This basically started with how Jay-Z would rationalize not participating in battles with other rappers in the post-ether era. I call this the Numbers Don’t Lie Theorem.  Eliminating the competition and marginalizing the prospects of the battle in hiphop music aids in diminishing the possibility for rappers to infiltrate rap’s pop culture. There are only a couple types of artist who become popular in a given era.  If one can not diss one of those couple to try to get a spot as pop culture’s elite emcee, then he has to depend on the record labels or the general public to simply like his music and want to promote it. There is the jedi mind trick. When Jadakiss squared off with 50 cent in 2005 he rapped, “this is the best thing to ever happen to us.” He was referring to the opportunity to showcase his lyricism and skill as an emcee against a mainstream giant; an opportunity that fans do not believe less popular rappers should even get, unless the more popular rapper decides to pursue…a concept that will keep the rich getting richer and the poor staying poor. That is, unless you are conforming to what the labels want. Sound familiar? Occupy hiphop.

I have read and heard many variations of this theorem expressed for why people think Common is wrong for dissing Drake. Common is old. lol Nobody was saying this about LL though when he was dissing Canibus. Why not? Well, because in 1997/1998 people only wanted to hear a good battle and did not make irrelevant elements relevant. Common’s age only means one thing within the concept of a battle with Drake…that Drake is getting Common past his prime. 2011 Kevin Garnett status. Not that Common isn’t capable, but one would have to believe that Drake has a far greater chance to out rap this Common than the bony homie from stoney Common Sense. Other than that, common being old is just another method that hiphop republicans use to discredit his attempt to lyrically slay Drake. Old is the hiphop black.

Im not sure what will come about in result of this war of words, but there is one thing I do know… I want to hear a good battle. I want Drake to respond with a “old nigga you washed” and Common to come on some Foreman/Moorer. As of now, imo, the battle is at a stand still. If it were a boxing match, i’d probably give the decision to Common on a split because he has been the aggressor, and I’ve only heard of Drake saying Common’s name at a concert and on twitter.  I am not interested in the peanut gallery though. OMG! COMMON DONT WANT IT WITH DRAKE, HE SONNED ICE CUBE 15 YEARS AGO!… and WHY OLD RAPPERS ALWAYS GOTTA HATE ON YOUNG CATS GETTING THEY PAPER MAN STOP HATIN’ HE A HATER HATE HATE HATE HATE HE TRYING TO GET PUBLICITY… Yes, we get it.

 

 

 

 

Common – The Dreamer, The Believer, The Review

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most official album review for this album…any review I do will be the most official review for that album. Anyway, here we do not judge names, bank statements, or tmz appearances. We judge music. Dig that.

Songs are judged on a 0-5 basis (0 being cheeks, 5 being classic), and the judgement is based on the following: lyrics, production, and the cohesiveness of the two. Whether or not the song is good for what it was intended to do, and its according entertainment value.  Now, I am going to be very specific with what these numeric values mean in terms of what I am giving them. Here is the scale:

 

0-1.5 – Amongst the most terrible songs i’ve ever heard

2 – Bad song

2.5 – average song- not good/not awful

3 – pretty good, not mind blowing but good

3.5 – I could ride out to this

4 – Has great replay value

4.5 – Song/Album of the year candidate

5 – Classic hip-hop record

Albums in totality are judged by the same, but including flow of the album and consistency of attributes throughout the album. With that being said…

I have a top 5 list of my favorite rappers/emcees of all time. Common is number 3 on my list. Has he been that good? Short answer, yes. Can I Borrow A Dollar was ahead of its time. Resurrection is a classic. One Day, LWFC, BE…all disputable classics. He has the timeless hiphop record (I Used To Love H.E.R) He has the battle stripe (The Bitch In Yoo) He has successfully transcended hiphop generations. He has successfully reinvented himself while continuing to make good music…He even has the experimental album that only cult fans like (Electric Circus). And for at least 14 years, Common has been an elite emcee and elite album maker.  But now it is 2012. Post BE Common rivals post Black Album Jay-Z as the all time great with the most dramatic downslide in my era.  Finding Forever was like Be: The outtakes. Universal Mind Control stinks, and many of his fans are in denial because..well… you know how we are with our heroes. I love Com, and it hurts me to be saying this…but he clearly is in the twilight of his career as an emcee who can make great albums, although as a celebrity, he is just hitting his stride.  Any way, he is back with his latest offering entitled: “The Dreamer, The Believer” Hmm… Corny, sold, typical conscious rapper album title, but we’ll see…Oh yea…word is No ID produced this entire joint…thats a good look. From where im sitting, No ID is a pioneer to todays backpacker sound, and the least regarded. He deserves some shine, so hopefully he blesses this album.

1. The Dreamer Feat. Maya Angelou – There was a little controversy involving this joint. Appearently, Ms. Angelou never heard Common use the word nigga, aka, Ms. Angelou has never heard a Common album. She was offended that he did so on the song that she was featured on. Clearly he did not change anything.  I have much adoration for Maya Angelou so I will just say this, know your co-workers.  Now as far as the song goes, the track is smooth. Common rides it well. This is the type of good song that Common is capable of making nowadays. Me likey. 4/5

2. Ghetto Dreams Feat. Nas, aka The GOAT – lol@ this song. Common is such a cornball now. He was really killing the track, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Luckily, Nas came on his trademark intelligent ghetto and made the song listenable…Unfortunately, we have to sit through two verses of Common faking the funk to get to the good part. 3/5

3. Blue Sky – This is another one of those post-BE Common good songs. Lyrically he is surely not taking it back, but he is comfortable over the well produced joint. Me likey 3.5/5

4. So Sweet – lol…Common. Being from Chicago makes you tough just as coming out of the vagina makes you gynecologist.  Come around my crib…haha This fool probably lives next door to Gwyneth Paltrow.  Whatever the case, I do enjoy the sentiment. The execution is mad shaky though, and his rant sounds like he is doing a bad job auditioning for a role in Boyz In The Hood 2: Ricky’s revenge. L.  3/5

5. Gold – Com got back into his lane on this one. Real smooth…lyrically in pocket. Common has a knack for song making still and I love the fact that he is comfortable with no being the same guy who made ‘Soul By The Pound’ or who spit his verse on ‘Thelonius’ That is who you make good music when you are past your prime…I know of a few rappers who need to take a page out of Common’s book of aging. 3.5/5

6. Lovin’ I Lost – I’m loving this beat…real nice knock on this joint. Nice vocal sample placement. He really did his thing on this one as far as being conceptually driven and creating a feel for the joint. Me likey. 4/5

7. Raw (How You Like It?) – This joint is nasty. No ID has done very well with this album thus far giving Com some joints to work with. Com takes it back to Can I Borrow/Resurrection on this one lol. Like. EXCEPT… “I heard you rap…yea mummy.”  sigh…  4/5

8. Cloth – Ok, this song is a snooze fest. Overall, it is an ok song, but its just too boring. 2.5/5

9. Celebrate – This sounds like a College Dropout era Kanye West mixtape song. That’s not speaking to the quality or lack thereof. The song is basic though, and im not really a fan of the hook at all. 2.5/5

10. Windows – The song has a nice concept. This in a rather introspective look at fatherhood. The song is rather boring as the previous two, but this is a little better. 3/5

11. The Believer Feat. John Legend – Im a John Legend fan. Not on this joint though. The song sounds like these lyrics weren’t written to this beat or something. Can’t put my finger on it, but this is an awkward song. 2.5/5

12. Pop’s Belief – Pops always brought his brilliant element to Common albums. His anecdotes are perfect to end Common’s albums and this one does not disappoint. There is not musical aspect to it aside from the beat in the background that seems to be of the ‘Blue Sky’ family tree, but it was a great addition to the album itself.

Conclusion: This was a good album in the context of the fact that this is Common’s ninth album during a career dating back to 1992. Common displayed the ability to still make good music. At the same time, the album became pretty dull toward the middle/end, and he gave us no highlights really. This album was better than I expected, but honestly I did not expect much. Why? Well, because I’m a hater, and that’s what haters do…right?

3.5/5


Blu & Exile – Give Me My Flowers: The Review

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most official album review for this album…any review I do will be the most official review for that album. Anyway, here we do not judge names, bank statements, or tmz appearances. We judge music. Dig that.

Songs are judged on a 0-5 basis (0 being cheeks, 5 being classic), and the judgement is based on the following: lyrics, production, and the cohesiveness of the two. Whether or not the song is good for what it was intended to do, and its according entertainment value.  Now, I am going to be very specific with what these numeric values mean in terms of what I am giving them. Here is the scale:

 

0-1.5 – Amongst the most terrible songs i’ve ever heard

2 – Bad song

2.5 – average song- not good/not awful

3 – pretty good, not mind blowing but good

3.5 – I could ride out to this

4 – Has great replay value

4.5 – Song/Album of the year candidate

5 – Classic hip-hop record

Albums in totality are judged by the same, but including flow of the album and consistency of attributes throughout the album. With that being said…

Blu – He is of the elite emcees doing it today. Very easily.  All you have to do is listen. It ain’t hard to tell. The boy is nice. His delivery, his cadences, his emphasis, his context, his technical ability…all on point.

Exile – One of the elite producers doing it today.  It disgusts me that he is virtually unknown with the quality that he has produced over the years.  It has been a while since we have seen one producer do multiple albums in totality and actually create full on great output.  He has done that…

Below The Heavens is a post 2000 classic hiphop album. That’s right. The Blueprint, Supreme Clientele, Late Registration…Below The Heavens. All you got to do is listen. Now with that being said… Here is the 2009 recorded, 2011 released effort from the best California duo since Shaq and Kobe entitled, “Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them”  Right.

1. A Letter – An intro with no rhymes being dropped, however..the beat with the beautiful string work and the Moody’s Mood for Love sample…I love it. First of all, Moody’s Mood for Love is one of those songs that your grandfather should have been playing for you when you were in a crib. Dont matter who’s version. This track is lovely though; an effective way to set the tone for an album 4/5

2. More Out of Life – Dope beat, dope rhymes…nicely placed song as far as the feel and cohesiveness along with the intro. Its not mind blowing, and lyrically he got a little preachy on us at the end, but i’d probably never skip this track while listening to this album 4/5

3. The Only One – “Alive again, wanna feel like I can fly again, they say the limit is the sky, but im sick of getting high, I dont wanna have to die, just to feel like im alive…” I find that beautiful right there god. Exile blesses the track once again. Lyrically Blu shines on this one..especially the first verse “I met some sisters out in Mozambique, who asked me what part in Africa was my fam tree…” that is brilliantly subtle…one of the things that makes Blu who he is as an emcee. This is certainly one of the more complete hiphop songs that I have heard this year. 4.5/5

4. Mask Your Soul – This is the Exile production that im not too fond about. Not much bounce. Kind of weak vocal sample..just a bad version of his usual. This joint is pretty slow, and Blu is on his ramble on this one. 3/5

5. I Am Jean – Now they are back on track. This beat…I cant front, im a sucker for these piano loops and randomly placed chords..and blu is spitting. 4/5

6. Money – This is some funky ass- sniff your top lip ish right here. Blu is still spitting…but this is his default level as Blu the emcee. As a song, its decent. 3.5/5

7. She Said It’s Okay – Exile is going mama’s buiscuits on this album. I have to say though…this Exile going coconuts/blu rambling for 8 bars and spitting complete thoughts for 8 bars formula is getting redundant at this point of the album…but this joint is still dope nonetheless 4/5

8. Good Morning Neighbor – This nigga flipped Mr. Rogers theme song. lol. This joint bangs. BANGS. 4/5

9. Everybody Nose Feat. Johaz & Fashawn – Didn’t like the beat that much. The hook is awful. Cats were rapping good but that couldn’t save it. SN: Fashawn, that boy good. 2.5/5

10. Don’t Be Jelly – Aesthetically it is pretty dope (dope beats, dope rhymes of course) , but its somewhat of a snoozefest. 3/5

11. Berries & Juices – Hot damn @ this beat! Exile is becoming my favorite producer with this album. Blu is on what has become his usual. 4/5

12. Seasons – This joint has been circulating for atleast a year now. Didnt really like it then, dont really like it now. This vocal sample is mad annoying.  2.5/5

13. John McCain – An instrumental outro. Lucky for them, they put some bonus tracks behind this, because this is pure huff. Thank God they didn’t seriously end the album with this. I see the vision, but i’m not seeeeeeeeing the vision. 2/5

14. O Heaven – This is a complete hiphop record right here… This is vintage Blu and Ex right here. 4/5

15. Ope – This is decent. Only 57 seconds. Meh 3/5

Conclusion: Aspiring rappers and music makers, let this be a lesson to you.  As you have read, I am madly in love with more than half of the songs on this album….individually. This album solidifies my claims that a) Blu is an elite emcee and b) exile is an elite producer. Their chemistry is amazing as well. Thing about it is… this album becomes very redundant over the 45 minute course.  There was no switching it up that took place whatsoever and that made me cringe a little while bobbing my head to the strong exile beats and smiling to myself as Blu did what Blu does. If anyone wanted to know how you make just a pretty good album out of a collection of very good songs…this is how.   4/5

 

-Sonny Rockwell


The Introduction/The Current State of HipHop

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What’s the deal people? Allow me to introduce myself; My name is Lance Ellis out of

 

Toledo, Ohio. I’m 25 years old and I love hiphop more than I love sex or money, but my

 

love for music extends beyond hiphop. My favorite all time emcee is Nas, and my favorite

 

all time group is Wu/De La Soul. I am the feature blogger of smashmouthfm.com. My man

 

put me onto this right here for one reason and one reason only: My opinion is better and

 

more important than yours. I love discourse though, and it would be dope to get a lot of

 

feedback on the things that I type and the ideas that I present. Negative or positive don’t

 

matter…it’s all love to me.

 

So I’m a start this off with the question that every interviewer has presented to every artist

 

that they have ever interviewed since about 2003 or so; what do you think about the

 

current state of hiphop? Let me first disclaimer my answer with a few facts about my

 

outlook on hiphop in general. I am progressive in my approach of hiphop music. I am not

 

one of those cats who feel like everything conceptually or musically has to sound like it

 

came out in the summer of ’93. I appreciate what the (dope) new artists are bringing to the

 

table. I am totally comfortable with change and the passing of the proverbial torch. With

 

that being said…

 

The current state of hiphop is Alaska…with Sarah Palin as Governor, Gator Purify as State

 

Treasurer, and Rich Rodriguez as Secretary of Defense. The publically perceived “best

 

rapper alive” is average at best, the most popular rapper alive makes Tyler Perry look like

 

Ray Lewis, and as far as critical acclaim goes… going platinum is the new five mics. That’s

 

not to say that good hiphop music does not exist in 2011, or that the state of hiphop is any

 

worse than it was ten years ago. However, the reality stands that one would have to go on

 

an extensive internet search for quality hiphop music, and there is a 90% chance that you

 

will only find repetition and buffoonery from the major media outlets. I do not consider

 

the internet a major media outlet, because less than 50% of the American population lives

 

in homes with internet access.

 

But like anything else, there is an underlying optimism that comes along with darkness.

 

This era has its all time great rapper (Kanye West), its all time great emcee (Lupe Fiasco),

 

its super rapping hiphop bullies (Slaughterhouse) and a solid movement of up and comers

 

following what was once a renaissance in hiphop music (Jay Electronica, Kendrick Lamar,

 

Blu, Diggy, Elzhi etc.) You may be in denial of the great youth movement. You may not

 

want to acknowledge it, or you may be ignorant to its existence. That does not mean it does

 

not exist. It may just mean you are afraid of becoming irrelevant as a fan. There will never

 

be another Rakim, Kane, Jay, Nas, Big or Pac…get over it. But hiphop, like any other form

 

of American entertainment, in any era, has bad elements and good qualities. In short, the

 

current state of hiphop is whatever you want it to be. The beautiful thing about access to

 

media is that you have the option to make what you love popular in your sector, and make

 

everything else disappear. The issue- since less than 50% of the American population does

 

not have internet readily available in the home, that demographic of the population may or

 

may not have access to any musical diversity. In my opinion, this is a crisis within the

 

culture. The fan is still the cornerstone of hiphop music, but only one story is being

 

marketed to them. Sadly, we are a far cry from my childhood years when you could turn on

 

Rap City and see Coolio “Fantastic Voyage” with Gang Starr’s “Mass Appeal” immediately

 

following. With that said, in my world okayplayer.com is BET, and BET is that one shit

 

that my remote skips. I love what I choose, therefore I still love hiphop…even in 2011.

 

-Lance

It aint nothin like N.C. Music!!!!

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Peace World,

 

It’s a good day for Hip Hop, and an even better day for NC after coming off of a weekend of

 

new releases from J Cole, Phonte and 9th Wonder.  The “Bull City” has a lot to talk about

 

these days, knowing that the whole world has it’s eye on North Carolina for its raw lyrics

 

and driven, rich, ear tickling beats that have the entire Hip Hop community buzzing.   The

 

releases of “Cole World: The Sideline Story”, “Charity Starts At Home” and “The Wonder

 

Years” usher in Fall like a cool breeze and offers some of the best music to date…period.

 

Each album has notable appearances from other North Carolina natives such as Big Remo,

 

Median, Rapsody, HaLo, King Mez and Carlitta Durand.  As well as other industry

 

favorites such as Jay-Z, Elzhi, Pharoahe Monch, Raekwon, Masta Killa, Drake, Mac Miller,

 

Big K.R.I.T., Missy Elliot, Trey Songz and Eric Roberson.    The entire music industry, as

 

well as the world at large is looking at North Carolina as being a source of REAL Hip Hop

 

and True Soul Music.  It’s definitely not your typical Southern sound in the

 

Raleigh/Durham North Carolina area.  Take note world, NC got next!!!!  Let’s Go!!!!!!