Posted tagged ‘dez and nobs’


January 31, 2011

Goodbye 'Miracle' Year!

Well, it’s the end of January and that means it’s time for one last look back at everything else that happened in 2010. These ten lists should fill you in on everything else that happened in the past calendar year so now that all the interesting things they’ve influenced will begin getting released in February, you’ll have some frame of reference. Let’s just jump right in!

Top 5 Rap Albums

5) Shad – T.S.O.L.
4) Danny Brown – The Hybrid
3) Curren$y – Pilot Talk
2) Earl Sweatshirt – Earl
1) Dez & Nobs – Rocky Dennis

Top 5 Non-Rap Songs

5) Vampire Weekend – “Taxi Cab”
4) Best Coast – “Boyfriend”
3) Camu Tao – “Intervention”
2) Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”
1) Make Out – “I Don’t Want Anybody That Wants Me”

Top 5 Lil B Tweets

5) Lil B on Fine Art.
4) Lil B on Outreach.
3) Lil B on Christmas
2) Lil B on Depression.
1) Lil B on Working with Peers.

Top 5 Tumblrs

5) Hungover Owls
4) Fake Criterions
3) Album Tacos
2) Best Roof Talk Ever
1) RealN*ggaTumblr

Top 5 Movies I Actually Saw

5) Toy Story 3
4) Inception
3) True Grit
2) The Fighter
1) The Expendables


Top 5 Best New Fast Food Items

5) Burger King’s Fire-Grilled Ribs
4) Subway’s Steak & Bacon Melt
3) New Domino’s Pizza
2) KFC’s Double Down
1) Pizza Hut’s Cheesy Bites Pizza

Top 5 Best New Rap Catchphrases

5) “Check”
4) “F*** Steve Harvey”
3) “H*es On My D*ck cause I look like…”
2) “Flocka”
1) “Swag” (as in #Swag 2010, the word took on a whole new meaning this year)

Top 5 Favorite Articles I Wrote for Other Places

5) Rediscover: The Outsidaz, ‘The Night Life EP’ (Spectrum Culture)
4) Guilty Pleasures: Mortal Kombat (Spectrum Culture)
3) Fatbeats’ Final Friday (HHLO)
2) Top 5 Rhymes Proving Rick Ross is a Psychopath (FunnyorDie)
1) SinSin Lounge Was Source of Solace (New York Times East Village)

Top 5 Favorite Articles I Wrote for PopularOpinions

5) Female Rappers in 2010: The Reality of Equality
4) ABC News – “Music + Children = MURDER!”
3) Hey Guys, Great News! ‘Avatar’ isn’t racist! (or Anti-American!)
2) Dear Caucasoids: Please Stop Using the N-Word, Especially When Ironically Covering Rap Songs.
1) Drake’s Letter to Aaliyah

Top 5 Videos

5) Celph Titled f/ RA the Rugged Man & FT – “Mad Ammo”
4) B. Dolan – “Earthmovers”
3) Homeboy Sandman – “The Carpenter”
2) Earl Sweatshirt – “Earl”
1) Insane Clown Posse – “Miracles” (Yeah, I know, but honestly no single music video has brought me as much joy in years. Plant a little seed, and nature grows)

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


January 19, 2011

What will YOU even remember about this year?

Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza begins with probably my favorite thing to talk about: rap music. I’m sure you have plenty of websites telling you how great their lists are who really just want to invite their readers to a “pat yourself on the back”-fest. Not here.

My credentials are that I listen to a lot of rap music and have for some time. I evaluated each song on a scale of how much I liked it. I didn’t factor in social significance or success. I also didn’t factor in songs with great moments that suffered from the rest of the song. As great as that one Nicki Minaj verse was, let’s not forget it came from a song that suffered from Jay-Z saying “loooooooove.” No sex with a pharaoh can change that.

My favorite year end lists have always been the honest ones. I don’t read them to see how much my favorite writers agree with me, rather I hope to catch any of the great music that came out last year that I may have missed. That in mind, following my top ten I included a list of unranked ten songs that I still think are pretty incredible and worth a listen. Check them out. They’re great. Now, this was the best year for rap since the 90s, so let’s talk about rap music…

Music is a lot like love, it's all a feeling...

10 ) Bun-B “Press Play”

Now Bun-B’s 2010 album Trill…O.G. was pretty terrible and easily the worst album he’s ever been involved with. With its watered-down production and underwhelming performance it was basically a UGK album for people who hate UGK. What was most disappointing about it was that his mixtape featured a song like “Press Play.” Produced by Statik Selektah, it was Bun reminding us he was still one of the best rappers in the world in a new, refreshing soundscape. 32 bars of greatness, exactly how to build a bridge between Port Arthur and Brooklyn.

9 ) Homeboy Sandman – “Mean Mug”

The crown jewel of Homeboy Sandman’s fantastic The Good Sun album, “Mean Mug” was the best deconstruction of a sourpuss and reasoning for why they’re not in style in 2010. Catchy, well-written and not heavy-handed in the slightest, it’s a shining example of why Boysand is one of New York’s favorite sons.

8 ) Sage Francis – “The Best of Times”

The final song on what may be his final album, Sage Francis’ “The Best of Times” is not only the perfect bookend to a great body of work, but an enjoyable exploration of self-examination. It’s Francis at his most vulnerable and confident and stands perhaps the definitive statement of his career.

7 ) E-40 f/ Too $hort – “Bitch”

The only thing better than hearing the fire reignited beneath Too $hort is having him alongside one of the most dependable rappers in the game. On “Bitch,” 40 Water and Short Dog explain that not all bitches are women. In this new decade, this is the type of “music with a message” I can get behind.

6) Lil B – “New York Subway”

What a year for the #based one. Along with being the best rapper on Twitter, Lil B knocked his highly anticipated Red Flame mixtape out of the park with “New York Subway.” While he’s perhaps most known for being shocking, the subtle detail of “New York Subway” perfectly captures what being in New York in December is like. Lil B is for real, and the power of this song cannot be denied.

5 ) Dez and Nobs f/ P.O.S. – “Underbelly”

The closer of the duo’s analog modern classic Rocky Dennis, “Underbelly” sees them joined by Doomtree member P.O.S. for a pill fueled lament that also boasts some of the best technical rapping today. As heartbreaking as it is, Nobs’ warm MPC-based production gives it a classic New York feel.

4 ) Domo Genesis f/ Tyler, the Creator – “Super Market”

2010 was undoubtably the year of Odd Future, and this song is a shining example why. Producer/rapper Tyler and Domo exchange absurd barbs between two angry teenagers in a super market that acts as a series of trump cards over a swaggering bulldozer of a production. Amazing.

3 ) Danny Brown – “Guitar Solo”

If you’ve never heard of Danny Brown before, start with his song “Exotic” and then come back to this, his masterpiece. Best described by rapper Despot as “all the members of the Outsidaz rolled into one,” What I love about Detroit’s Danny Brown is that his music has a genuine unpredictability that’s been missing from rap music. He keeps me guessing with his verses, even on repeat listens, without sacrificing any of his soul. This is best heard on “Guitar Solo,” one of his album The Hybrid‘s more serious moments, it quickly dips into poverty stricken Detroit character studies before cliffhanger endings, as if the people discussed are trapped within the self-awareness of the song.

2 ) Beeda Weeda – “Baserock Babies”

DJ Fresh is picking up where the Hyphy Movement in the Bay Area left off, and he’s ready to explode. Not since Rick Rock’s production on Turf Talk’s West Coast Vaccine has the Yay given such a progressive slap to rap production. Riding the beat like a coin-operated carousel is Beeda Weeda, who you remember from last year’s “No Hoe” remix. Here, instead, he breaks down exactly what it was like being a product of the 80s. But this isn’t another “back in the day” song, rather a stripped down this-is-how-it-really-was fact-check that shows no matter what the scene is, things aren’t that different.

1 ) Earl Sweatshirt – “Stapleton”

We’ve all see the “EARL” video with the teenagers who kill themselves and yes, it is great. As brash and in-your-face as that is, Earl is an outstanding technical rapper and it’s what he hides in his songs that make him incredible. The last verse here speaks not only to his persona being the product of a deadbeat father, but parallels the ageist Hip-Hop generation predating him of boom-bap dinosaurs that raised the post-Rawkus “real Hip-Hop” sect to sound like soulless 40-year-olds. An amazing performance from one of rap’s most compelling new voices and the best rap song of 2010.


Honorable Mentions:

Atmosphere – “To All My Friends”
Big Boi f/ Andre 3000 – “Lookin For Ya”
Curren$y – “Life Under the Scope”
Mac Lethal – “Cover My Tracks”
Mike G. – “Crazh”
Rick Ross f/ Jay-Z “Free Mason”
Roc Marciano – “Ridin Around”
Shad – “Rose Garden”
Soulja Boy – “First Day of School”
Waka Flocka Flame – “Hard in the Paint”
Young L – “Drop Top Swag”

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

Dez and Nobs “Rocky Dennis” – Album Review

March 1, 2010

They're Not Just Another Pretty Face.

It’s the year 2010 and out there, somewhere, a rapper is already waxing nostalgically about 2009. Following a decade of self-obsession and revisiting a rewritten history, many mistakingly assume rap’s future is in rap’s past. With technology making it increasingly easier for music to be produced and distributed, the ever-shrinking attention span of the internet-age consumer has finally seeped into that of the artist. It’s rare that anyone takes three years between releases, and even rarer that they make something as good as Rocky Dennis, the new album from Albany duo Dez and Nobs. Lucky for us, Dez and Nobs are so rare, they’re raw.

Originally titled Behemoth 2: Rocky Dennis as an intended sequel to their 2006 collaborative debut, they’ve scrapped the prefix in favor of letting this album stand on its own, and rightfully so. While their previous effort was a critical darling and the sleeper hit of the indierap world that year, Rocky Dennis makes it sounds positively average by comparison. Produced entirely by Nobs, the analog sample-based production gives the entire project a warmth long missing from the modern rap marketplace. With every beat lovingly constructed on his MPC, Nobs ensures the drums knock harder and the bass thumps louder than anything else currently available under the banner of “independent Hip-Hop.” Thanks to the record’s impeccable mixing, there’s a clarity in the griminess that just feels like how a rap record is supposed to sound. While most of his contemporaries have settled for drums that sound as hard as a fifth-grade girl’s pillowfight and bass that sounds like it’s coming from an ice cream truck three blocks away, Nobs wears his tradition on his sleeve and instead of just rehashing his favorite records, pinpoints what makes them great to make a wholly unique sound all his own.

As for the rapping, even if you’ve heard Dez before, you still have no idea what you’re in for. From the sounds of things, Daniel “Dez” Hulbert has gone through a lot over the past four years and works it all out for us over the course of this record. Using sound clips from the 1985 film Mask to navigate between subjects, Dez bulldozes through a decade of decadence by shattering the images of trendy cocaine hipsters (Don’t tell tails about the iron you clutch / listen to too much Clipse and watch “The Wire” too much – “The Product”) girls who have tattoos in place of personality (I’m about to put a stamp on this tramp / Pornographic target practice and the canvass is blank – “Kat Von D”) and anyone in this generation of lesser rappers (“Streisand Heat Rocks”) that Dez decimates with such a fervor, one has to chalk it up to natural selection. He may be a brute, but his intricate wordplay and soul-crushing storytelling makes him the most articulate barbarian to ever pillage your village.

While he has a genuine wit and sense of comedic timing that compliments his breath control perfectly, Rocky Dennis is no laughing matter. A darkly comedic affair that doesn’t resort to shock value as much as sheer desperation, the album sounds like the memoirs of the happiest tragic figure you’ll ever encounter. Despite the more depressing overtones, the album never drags as lighter moments like “Neon,” Dez’s critique of the rap’s trendy hipster sect featuring Louis Logic, alleviate the pressure and keep things moving. The album’s guest appearances (“TV Dinners” with Seez Mics, “4 Trillion 4” with Mac Lethal) are all perfectly placed to accentuate the soundscape, but the real star here is Dez.

'Cold Chillin' Like the Ice-Truck Killer.'

On “Underbelly,” the closing centerpiece (featuring P.O.S. of Doomtree/Rhymesayers), Dez declares he “ain’t never used my music just to glorify violence / went from bored and high nihilist to borderline tyrant / recorded rhymes while this kind of corporatization / of the quintessential counter-culture transforms my occupation” to describe the present state of the ever-changing role his ever-changing music plays in his life. This line also defines Rocky Dennis‘ existence. In a world where chastising ringtone rap has become passe and music is dated the second it hits the shelves, Dez and Nobs went back to basics and made a fantastic boom-bap record at a time boom-bap records don’t get made. New York Hip-Hop hasn’t thumped like this since the days of cassettes, and while this is album is anything but nostalgic, both parties march forward with tradition in one hand and your lunch money in the other. It’s the post-everything Supreme Clientele and an absolute essential purchase for anyone who still has the slightest interest in the genre. It may be ugly, but it’s a masterpiece.

We give Rocky Dennis a Five Out of Five!

Until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!