Posted January 31, 2013 by Chaz
Categories: C.A.T.T.L.E.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


You know, it’s funny. Typically, we at Popular Opinions used to post all of our year-end Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza retrospective pieces in January because, let’s face it, the month is largely a cultural dead zone where absolutely nothing happened. But this month, we’ve already had major album releases, hot singles and dis records. It’s been an unusually eventful January, but to deny the past year in wake of such events wouldn’t be fair to the year’s biggest songs. While 2012 was the first year in a long time that there were probably more memorable rap albums than memorable rap singles, a handful of absolute gems made the choice cuts some of the best tracks in recent memory. It is with them in mind we look back at the ten best rap songs 2012 gave us!

10 ) T.I. featuring Lil Wayne – “Ball”

Easily the best T.I. song in about five years, “Ball” is not only a “Triggerman Break”-based throwback to traditional bounce music, but the most energized both T.I. and Wayne have sounded in quite some time. As seen in the Marc Klasfeld directed video, both T.I. and Wayne seem to genuinely be having a blast, lending itself to one of the year’s most enjoyable party records.

9 ) Kristoff Krane – “Birthday Song”

Twin Cities hip-hop artist Kristoff Krane has been most known for his more experimental outings, making his surprisingly conventional Fanfaronade album one of the year’s most welcome surprises. The lead single, “Birthday Song” using the metaphor a lamenting a lonely birthday party for the frustration found in the under-supported moments of being an independent artist.

8 ) Aesop Rock – “Zero Dark Thirty (Blockhead Remix)”

As great as it was to hear Aesop Rock return with his entirely self-produced Rhymesayers album Skelethon, contributions of his frequent collaborator Blockhead were missed. Fortunately, the album’s bonus tracks included a remix by the cult hero producer that not only recaptures the classic Aesop-Blockhead vibe, but flushes out different elements of the lyrics, allowing the song to be appreciated in a wholly new spectrum.

7 ) Nikki Minaj – “Stupid Hoe”

A lot of people hate this song for the dreaded one-two punch of being the worst video of Hype Williams’ career and its obnoxious chorus, but once you divorce the uninspired unfitting visual component, you’re left with a tribute to numerous regional dance musics all masterfully combined into one unrelenting machine gun of a single. More avant garde than most of her contemporaries are willing to give her credit for, “Stupid Hoe” is pulse-pounding razor-sharp fun.

6 ) Odd Future – “Oldie”

The Odd Future movement took an interesting turn in 2012. Still wildly successful, the crew’s projects have become successful enough to turn their devoted fanbase somewhat insular, allowing themselves further freedom to do whatever they want. Also, their television show is great. But their biggest contribution to the year was “Oldie,” an extended posse cut playing to the absolute strengths of the entire rosters and capturing the fun and inventiveness of their movement in a single track, punctuated by an absolutely excellent homecoming verse by the returning Earl Sweatshirt.

5 ) Future f/ Diddy & Ludacris – “Same Damn Time (Remix)”

Probably the most fiercely debated hip-hop artist of the year, Atlanta’s Future’s persona/abilites/talent were all the subject to a polarizing, intense divide over the course of 2012. But if there’s one aspect of him that can’t be denied, it’s his incredible ability to write hooks. “Same Damn Time” is not only the year’s most infectious catchphrase, but the remix brought us the single greatest moment Diddy’s ever had behind the mic.

4 ) The Underachievers – “Gold Soul Theory”

The most promising new rap group of 2012, The Underachievers’ “Gold Soul Theory” was poignant, catchy, well constructed and everything one could hope for in a breakthrough rap single. With a production that uniquely heightens the exotic otherworldly elements of the lyrics, both members’ deliveries slice through the soundscape with an undeniable charisma, making their forthcoming 2013 debut mixtape among the year’s most anticipated.

3 ) A$AP Rocky – “Goldie”

Diverting slightly from the spacey Clams Casino soundscape that helped him first breakthrough, A$AP Rocky’s “Goldie” simply added more layers of his favorite influences to create an entirely new sound uniquely his own. Sleek, thunderous and brimming with cool rooted in the Harlem hip-hop tradition, “Goldie” helped bring the A$AP vision to the next level.

2 ) Mystikal – “Hit Me”

While 2012 gave us the James Brown biography The One, among the greatest music books ever written, it also gave us Mystikal channeling the “Godfather of Soul” for his single “Hit Me.” While Mystikal’s had a few songs since his return from prison in 2010, “Hit Me” has been far-and-away his most blistering. Wildly fun, “Hit Me” is proof Mystikal’s not only still got it, but he remains the man right ‘chea.

1 ) Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools”

As I wrote here, Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools” is special because it’s not just a song that mentions drinking, but rather uses the social activity as a deeper exploration of peer pressure. Along with presenting a social message in a way that respects its audience’s intelligence enough without having to painfully spell it out, every single other aspect of the song is executed in a manner of absolute mastery. With Lamar’s tight narrative and wonderfully varied arsenal of flows, his performance alone would make for one of the top songs of the year. Fortunately, the track’s production courtesy of T-Minus  is every bit as nuanced and painstakingly lavish as Kendrick’s rhymes.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!


Posted September 30, 2012 by Chaz
Categories: Self-Indulgence

We’re Back-ish

So, it just occurred to me that this week marks three years since I began kicking out the jams right here on Popular Opinions. Of course, the first thing I thought of was earlier this year when Big Boi was given an award commemorating 20 years of Outkast. I love ‘Kast as much as you do, but to give someone a commemorative 20 year award when they’ve been inactive for half of that struck me a bit dubious. Likewise, it’s the same semi-shame I feel whenever Popular Opinions comes up in conversations with others who quickly ask “But you don’t write for that anymore, right?” And while my immediate reaction is to say “NO, HOW DARE YOU?!” I think to myself and realize, they’re kinda right.

Outside the year-end awards last January, this place has been pretty empty. There’s a reason for that as I’m now a full-time writer for a few places, all of which really wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for this site.

So, as we at Popular Opinions enter our FOURTH year, this site’s going to be back on the block. It’s going to be the one-stop shop where you can find my links to my reviews, interviews, and pieces from around the world (wide web) as well as all the personal works I really can’t get money for find an appropriate avenue to put anywhere else.

Thanks for reading my stuff, everybody.

So, always and forever, let’s agree to agree.

SLIM JIM (unofficially) Presents THE TOP 10 TWITTERS OF 2011! (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

Posted January 27, 2012 by Chaz
Categories: C.A.T.T.L.E., Chaz's Best of 2011

Check out my Slim Jim swag, from the good people at @SlimJim to the pretty good person at @ChazRaps !

2011 was more than just the year I finally caved in and signed up for Friendster. It was also the year I got booted off Friendster in three months for not having any friends. But all was not lost for technology as Twitter proved once again why it’s up there with rap music and Slim Jims among the greatest anythings ever. Speaking of Slim Jims, I also won a Slim Jim prize pack via Twitter this year, so along with constant updates from awesome people, I protected myself from spiceloss AND upgraded my gear.

So grab yourself a @SlimJim , an outstanding Twitter account in its own right, and snap into the latest entry in Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza as we look at the best Twitter had to offer in 2011!

10) Todd Barry
Kicking off out list we have comedian Todd Barry. While we all eagerly anticipated the new season of “Delocated” (which premieres this Thursday) all year, those of us following Barry got to see an absolute master of the medium give his takes on Trending Topics (which is would always announce his participation in first) as well as great observations in 140 characters or less.

9) Viva VHS
Another cool aspect about Twitter is what a great resource it is for absolute experts. VivaVHS is a diehard video collector who boasts an absolute jaw-dropping collection of tapes. Instead of just being one of those collectors who never shares the wealth, VivaVHS instead actually watches the movies, both obscure and beloved, giving enjoyable observations as well as taking us down memory lane one tweet at a time. The best time to be following Viva VHS is around the holidays when the movie marathons kick into high gear. It’s one Twitter page worth rewinding.

8) Friend from High School
A scathing indictment of that one person we all begrudgingly have in our social media feeds, Friend from High School is that person you never talked to much at all over those four years who now has a domineering presence in your life. This year Friend from High School got pregnant and the tweets were solid gold. Come election time, this is absolutely going to be one to watch.

7) Colin Quinn
It’s amazing how many people will go out of there way to follow Colin Quinn, presumably because they’re familiar with his work, and then flip out in anger at the magic he generates on a daily basis. Twitter’s greatest troll, from fake accusations of plagiarism to testing out award show material, Quinn’s got Twitter locked down. He also spawned my favorite hashtag this year #ItsDigiornoTime

6) Sylis P. Barnaby!/sylisp
SylisP is absolutely hilarious. You may have never heard of him, but I defy you to click on that above link and not find something within his first five tweets worth retweeting. A perpetual jokester who isn’t afraid to make your comments funnier while live-tweeting CBS’s “Two Broke Girls,” I don’t think I’ve RT’ed a single account more this year. Follow immediately.

The proud day of my 5,000th Tweet. You should follow me at @Chazraps . Apparently, I'm endlessly fascinating.

5) Julieanne Smolinski
While she’s most recently made headlines for shutting down crossword puzzlemaster Will Shortz for his improper use of “Illin,” those of us following her on Twitter have known about her street cred for a while. By merging the absurd with the joyfully horrifying in each 140 character knowledge drop, she brings the uproarious laughter on a regular basis. Advantage Smolinski.

4) R.L. Stine
In 2009, Roger Ebert became the “it”-account to follow with his brutal wit and love of sharing the most informative and interesting links the internet had to offer. Professional child frightener R.L. Stine has all these qualities along with a generous dose of Monster Blood, making for a frighteningly fun account that warrant real life discussions on a regular basis. But tweeter beware, you’re in for a scare!

3) Goldust
You know why I’ve yet to link to a single tweet in this article thus far? Because not a one could possibly compete with this. If you were a wrestling fan over the past 15 years, chances are you remember Goldust as the sexual deviant movie critic who was obsessed with gold and making fans of all ages generally uncomfortable. Well, he’s still active on the roster, but his time on the shelf over the past year saw both the release of his legitimately touching book Cross Rhodes: Goldust Out of the Darkness (a great read) as well as him becoming the absolute most entertaining professional athlete on twitter. Not afraid to give his opinions and kick “lemmules” to the curb, it’s proof sometimes all that Twitters is gold.

2) Gucci Doin Things
There was once a time when we didn’t have the technology to give us constant updates as to what rapper Gucci Mane was up to in his day-to-day life. Now, whether he’s “leaving his Genesis on for weeks at a time just to watch Sonic tap his foot” or “taking a fistful of ketchup packets although he only got a small fry” we know. There’s even touching moments, such as when “Gucci sold his CD collection to buy Waka Flocka a vaporizer, only to find Waka Flocka sold all his weed to buy Gucci a stereo.” It’s absolutely imperative you have Twitter so you can know when “Gucci Mane getting blank stares at Chipotle when he asks for GuacaFlockaMole.”

1) Dad Boner
If Tweeting has become an artform, then DadBoner is the first masterpiece. The fictional life of middle-aged Applebee’s loving middle America all-American Karl Welzein is the main reason I pull my phone out in public and shove it into acquaintances faces while demanding they “READ THIS!” More than just some funny thoughts, the way Karl’s night unfold and the stor archs of his relationships is the stuff of classic literate. It’s the smartest stupidity you’ll ever read and will most likely be remembered as the Ulysses of Twitter.

So, with it being #FollowFriday (or #FF if you speak tweep) I suggest you check all these fine Tweeps out, as well as my own bells and whistles at @ChazRaps.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!


Posted January 26, 2012 by Chaz
Categories: C.A.T.T.L.E., Chaz's Best of 2011

2011: The year we lost Heavy D.

Oh rap music, is there anything you can’t do? As always, Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza begins with my look back at the year in rap. Last year I called 2010 the best year for hip-hop in quite some time, and 2011 kept the hits coming, making the year’s soundscape of prominent up-and-comers just about as diverse as rap’s ever been. With bandcamp and soundcloud making quality music easier to get ahold of than ever, it’s time we hit the seventeen corners of the map for the ten best rap songs 2011 produced!

10 ) 151 Feva Gang – “Kush Groove”

“Roll another up and get groovy baby” with the song of the summer: a stoner anthem so effortlessly cool that even straight edge kids can take a shower and get down with it. Full of the top-down party sunshine vibe without transparently trying to be the soundtrack to a car commercial, “Kush Groove” is the rap music that Saturday evenings in June were made for.

9 ) A.Dd+ – “Under f/ Dustin Cavasos”

Hip-Hop’s biggest current tragedy is that not only are Outkast not making music, but B.O.B. isn’t making the music Outkast should be making. While we all anticipate new Andre verses and wish Bobby Ray would get back to actually rapping, their are artists who are making music worthy of being the next heirs to the Outkast throne. Dallas duo A.Dd+ unleashed one of the year’s most creatively inspired releases with When Pigs Fly, the centerpiece of which was “Under,” a great slice of struggle music with the intangible warmth that keeps listeners coming back for more.

8 ) Roc Marciano – “My Persona”

While 2011 saw its share of blizzards hit New York, the cold winter made the perfect setting for Long Island’s Roc Marciano. Possessing all of 90s NYC’s ruggedness with none of the jorts, Marciano spent the year following up his critically acclaimed Marcberg album with a series of guest appearances and stray tracks that kept our attention, the best of which was “My Persona.” Brooding, cunning and always engaging, “My Persona” got more individual play that most artist’s entire albums, promising even more from Marciano in the coming year.

7 ) Hail Mary Mallon – “Breakdance Beach”

The trio of Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic and DJ Big Whiz doesn’t necessarily call to mind some happy-go-lucky fun in the sun, but on “Breakdance Beach” the three go for the gusto, taking a rhyme pattern to its absolute limit and each showing a tongue-in-cheek cheerfulness we’ve never seen before.

6 ) Prof – “Gampo”

Prof, the 2011 must-see live act of indieground hip-hop, has successfully captured the magic of his concerts on record. While his latest King Gampo got as much attention for its Gummo-tribute cover as it did for its music, the opening track “Gampo” quickly dismisses any thought that Prof’s just all image. As fun as it is unpredictable, Prof flexes styles showing why he’s the talk of the Twin Cities.

5 ) Watch The Throne – “N*ggas in Paris”

While Watch The Throne was something of a mixed bag, the strengths were incredibly high. Between the masturbatory celebrity santorum of “Lift Off” and an uninspired Kanye attempting M.B.D.T.F.-lite, we had Jay-Z’s best rapping in eight years and some of the most daring production choices in the genre. Originally a b-side, the audience spoke and made “N*ggas in Paris” a smash when many thought the collaboration would be dead in the water. Between a dexterous Jigga vocal performance and Kanye giving us the best elements of his tweets in rap form, it’s the type of monster mainstream hip-hop in 2011 should be regularly generating.

4 ) Mr. Muthaf*ckin’ eXquire – “Huzzah”

I’ve been writing for six months now about how “Huzzah” rechristens a sound within underground hip-hop of intelligently ig’nant hood music not heard since the days of Fondle ‘Em Records, so just listen already.

3 ) Action Bronson – “Mr. Songwriter”

Between two of the best rap albums this year and a stellar EP, I had a hard time choosing just one Action Bronson song to include. I decided to go with the one that I played the most, “Mr. Songwriter,” as it condenses everything I enjoy about Bronson into three minutes. Charismatic non sequitur storytelling peppered with references to food and 80s professional wrestling and production rooted in the construction of classic New York hip-hop, “Mr. Songwriter” is a great starting place for those new to Bronson and an amuse bouche of what he’s capable of.

2 ) Danny Brown – “Pac Blood”

The second verse of Brown’s “Pac Blood” is my choice for the single best verse on a rap song this year. The most straight-forward song on his largely experimental mixtape XXX, Brown proves he’s one of the best in the genre today with an unrelenting onslaught of blisteringly visceral punchlines. It’s a masterful manifesto and cements Brown as one of the best in the world at what he does.

1 ) Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”

Who would have thought Odd Future would have dominated 2011. Well, mastermind Tyler, the Creator probably did, especially when he unleashed “Yonkers.” The must-see video that shot the collective into superstardom, hob-nobbing with everyone from Kanye to Justin Bieber and even landing a VMA nomination, it wouldn’t have been such a monumental achievement had the song not been an absolute banger. With Tyler being among the first faces of the post-Napster generation to show what an unlimited access to influences is capable of, “Yonkers” weaves in warm vulnerable moments amongst an unstable wasteland of angst and absurdity. Along with Tyler making himself laugh and his legions of fans rap along with each listen, the production was infectious enough to make even the group’s detractors record their disses over it. In terms of popularity and influence, “Yonkers” defined 2011. As a song by itself, it’s the best rap song of 2011.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!


Posted January 25, 2012 by Chaz
Categories: C.A.T.T.L.E., Chaz's Best of 2011

2011: The Year We Lost the "Macho Man"

Ohhhhhhh 2011, tell me everything you know!. As we state every year around this time, January is a cultural deadzone. That is, it *usually* is. However, with so many amazing releases and events happening over the first three weeks of 2012 along, there’s been a lot more on my plate than usual. So much, in fact, that I’ve already made by Best Albums of 2012 list. Still, I’d be a star-spangled silly-billy* if I didn’t make sure you started the year without missing anything. So, without any further Depardu, let’s review what was the best of things that 2011 had to offer!


Starts tomorrow.

So, until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Journalism term.