Posted tagged ‘jay-z’

REALLY QUICK: ‘Watch the Throne,’ ‘Tha Carter IV,’ and the Hip-Hop Numbers Game.

September 9, 2011

What the album comes packaged in - Tha Carter Foreskin!

For those of you who read this site and ONLY this site, you’ve probably been wondering both where I’ve been and what else the internet has to offer. Well, I’ve been writing for several sites and publications, such as The New York Times, Complex Magazine, Funny or Die etc., and regularly write my music reviews at Spectrum Culture. Being I write for so many sites now, Popular Opinions is going to serve as something of a mothership, not only a place where I generate the same quality content you’ve grown to love and respect, but a place to keep you abreast of all the different articles I’ve been writing for different sites.

So, given the two biggest stories in Hip-Hop for the past month, let’s talk Watch the Throne and Tha Carter IV.

Here’s my full review of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne

Here’s my full review of Tha Carter IV

Now that you’ve read both of those, let me break it down like this:

The Best moments of Tha Carter IV > Jay-Z’s rapping on Watch the Throne > The Worst moments of Tha Carter IV > Kanye’s rapping on Watch the Throne > The Game’s rapping on The R.E.D. Album.

If I knew you were debuting on Billboard that high, I would have baked a cake!

But probably the most rewarding thing about Tha Carter IV moving almost a million (or a millie) units in its debut week is the sign that people once again really seem to care about Hip-Hop. I know, your industry friend on Twitter has been exercising his ‘SMH’-typing fingers and wondering aloud “why do people care about first week sales?” Well, in some weird way, they’ve become a returning cyclical excitement for the modern music listener. Remember in 7th grade when you kept a piece of notebook paper hung up in your locker with a list of upcoming albums and their release dates so you could count down each day remember to cop them? Prior to Nas’ I Am… and Jay-Z’s Vol. 3 ushering in the MP3 era, if you lived outside of New York the possibility of bootlegging new albums before their release was non-existant. Release dates seemed to signify something, and now they act as almost a validating testament for artists that we’re excited about. When Atmosphere and Tyler, the Creator had albums debut in Billboard’s Number 5 spot, or when UGK finally debuted at Number 1, I did feel somewhat like my high school basketball team just took State. Sure, it’s a silly numbers game, but ladies love numbers. Fellas do too! While strong catalog titles may in all actuality be a more impressive feat (shouts to Waka Flocka Flame whose “No Hands” single has been on the Hip-Hop charts for an astonishing 56 weeks in a row!)  seeing an album’s release be an important pop culture event is a pretty cool thing.

As for Tha Carter IV, it may redefine how a rap artist is treated in the music industry. Typically, every artist on a major label is one under-performing album away from being a has-been. Looking at the past decade, how many artists have gone from the biggest single of the year to not even making the sticker when they guest on other records? Wayne may have changed that. At the height of Wayne hysteria, Tha Carter III moved one million copies its first week. Two years later, his follow up album Rebirth did only 100,000 copies. Last week, Tha Carter IV did 1 million again. While all of these were #1 debuts, the really impressive feat here is that not only was Rebirth a pretty substantial dropoff, Tha Carter IV is possibly the biggest artist comeback of our time. To put it in perspective, for everyone ONE person that bought Rebirth, NINE MORE bought Tha Carter IV. Further, this is TWICE the number that Jay-Z and Kanye’s powers combined (436,000) managed to sell. Compound that by the fact that Jay and Kayne had NO LEAK, and Wayne’s was readily available for pirates more than a week ahead of time, and you realize what a commercial slam dunk this record was.

At the end of the day, what does this all mean? Run the numbers anyway you want, but what has me genuinely excited is that a million people paid for copies of a rap album that they really didn’t have to. That’s pretty cool.

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

The TOP TEN RAP SONGS OF 2010 (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

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.

Almost...

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!

Top Five Rap Songs For the End of Summer (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

September 3, 2010

This is everyday for me.

Welcome to yet another installment of Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza. As you may have seen, we’re only doing five this go round because you only have about four days left of summer and you’ve probably got enough going on in terms of squeezing those last drops of the season in. Instead of focusing on time-tested seasonal classics like “Summertime” and “Hip-Hop Hooray,” these are jams specific to this final week. So grab that last bottle of summer ale and hop the train to Coney Island as we say goodbye to another great season.

DO IT! HONOR IT! DO IT NOW!

5 ) Scarface – “It’s Going Down” (1994)

While this tasteful booty call sounds great year round, it makes for the perfect end of the BBQ “let’s do this” theme music. Brad Jordan’s charming and disarming charisma over a “99 Luftballons” interpolation made for a great moment of release on his masterpiece The Diary as well as an accessible introductory piece to arguably the greatest rap catalog of all time.

4 ) Y’all So Stupid – “Van Full of Pakistans” (1993)

Unfairly but rightly remembered as everybody’s favorite Pharcyde-ripoff, Atlanta’s own Y’all So Stupid have at least one universally beloved favorite in their arsenal, and that’s the title track off their puzzlingly named album Van Full of Pakistans. A laid back tale of loss and, well, more loss, the song compliments those of us who don’t really have a whole lot to look forward to in the fall but are having a good time anyway.

3 ) Atmosphere – “Sunshine” (2007)

Off their 2007 EP Sad Clown Bad Summer, Atmosphere’s “Sunshine” touches on those unexpected great days of summer that come out of nowhere to remind you how great the season is. Historically the first glimpse at Ant’s more live instrument-based production, it’s a fitting closer whether you’re strolling through that park you haven’t had to roll through on a whim or exiting the Minnesota State Fair, it’s makes for some great walking-away person end credits music.

2 ) Jay-Z – “Dear Summer” (2004)

Probably the most literally fitting song on the list, a “retired” Jay-Z popped up on Memphis Bleek’s 2004 album 534 for the entirely Bleek-less song “Dear Summer.” While the face value reads as Jay actually saying goodbye to the season, the context of when it dropped made it seem like the final bow of a storied career. Half-victory lap, half-“I Still Got It,” Jay hasn’t sounded like this since his 2006 return and we’re all the worse for it.

1 ) Juvenile & Soulja Slim – “Slow Motion” (2004)

It’s unfortunate New Orleans rap legend Soulja Slim had to have his first Number One single nine-months after his death, but it’s the type of song that will live forever. Teaming up with Southern rap icon and Bounce pioneer Juvenile, “Slow Motion’s” become something of a requiem for both Slim and the summer itself. Pro J’s beat sets the sluggish summer scorch perfectly for Slim and Juvy to go back and forth one last time. The Life Garland directed video’s also among the most touching of the medium, featuring many then-feuding New Orleans rap artists all coming together to remember one of their own.

FUN FACT: Sometimes words have two meanings.

So there you have it. Have a great labor day weekend!

PopularOpinions’ “PopularSummer 2010” – Our “Best of…” Summer Compilation

August 13, 2010

Like this, but in rap form.


Check it: http://www.4shared.com/file/OHGgnRkU/PopularOpinions_PopularSummer_.html

Perhaps you’ve been wondering where I’ve been this week? Well, seeing as it’s my birthday and I’m all about flipping dem standard blog conventionz on dat azz, I’ve decided to give YOU (yes YOU, the reading and listening public) a collection of my favorite songs this summer. 2010 has been the best year for Hip-Hop in quite sometime, and this season has been no exception. Therefore, now more than ever, you need some essential jams and bangers to make your dog days of summer the absolute hottest possible. I give you PopularSummer 2010, my collection of the absolute best Hip-Hop from all over the map, perfect for any barbecue, midnight drive or “TipDrill” video recreation. The link is above and below this paragraph, with the tracklisting listed below, as well as a repeat posting of the link as it’s standard blog procedure to assume one’s readership requires no less than three links to the same thing in order to harness your attention.

DOWNLOAD NOW: http://www.4shared.com/file/OHGgnRkU/PopularOpinions_PopularSummer_.html

PopularLager

Tracklisting:

1 ) Mac Lethal – “Party in the USA (Miracles Remix)”
2 ) Lil B – “The Summer”
3 ) Kurupt – “Bounce, Rock, Skate feat. Snoop Dogg, Terrace Martin & DJ Quik”
4 ) Young L – “DROP TOP SWAG”
5 ) Beeda Weeda – “Baserock Babies”
6 ) Earl Sweatshirt – “Earl”
7 ) Big Boi -“Lookin’ For Ya feat. Andre 3000 & Sleepy Brown”
8 ) Camu Tao – “The Perfect Plan”
9 ) Yelawolf – “I Wish Remix feat. Prynce Cy-Hi & Pill”
10 ) Paul Wall – “Live It feat. Raekwon, Yelawolf, Jay Electronica”
11 ) Oddisee – “I’m From PG”
12 ) Rick Ross – “Free Mason feat. Jay-Z & John Legend”
13 ) Da Vinci – “Clean Ass Whip feat. Quinn”
14 ) Nottz – “Cars Remix feat. Rah Digga and Derek 32Zero”
15 ) Jay Electronica – “A Million In The Morning”
16 ) Homeboy Sandman – “Mean Mug”
17 ) Justin Bieber – “Baby (El-P Death Mix)”

GET IT HERE: http://www.4shared.com/file/OHGgnRkU/PopularOpinions_PopularSummer_.html

“Macho Man” Randy Savage’s Rap Career – The Definitive Guide

May 17, 2010

Randy Savage's Rap Album. Yes, this is a thing.

In retrospect, 2003 was a pretty important year for Hip-Hop. Over one 12-month span we had the debuts of 50 Cent and Kanye West, the utter domination of Roc-a-Fella as Jay-Z’s biggest retirement pushed him into a new level of superstardom, indie labels like Rhymesayers and Definitive Jux finally landing releases in the Billboard 200 and Outkast releasing the certified diamond Speakerboxxx/The Love Below the only rap album ever to win a Grammy*. A midst this hoopla, however, one commercial wound up cutting through the Hip-Hop soundscape like a hot chainsaw through Slim Jims:

Yes, a year after necrophilia sufficiently ended the wrestling “boom,” former grappling great “Macho Man” Randy Savage was set to release Be A Man, a rap album. The man had most recently been seen as “Bonesaw McGraw” in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, so his mainstream presence seemed just enough to make maybe a book a novelty rap album seem like a worthwhile investment. With Big 3 Records (Carnie Wilson, Stryper) at the helm, Earth was set to become the first planet in the galaxy to host a Randy Savage rap album. However, Randy’s rap debut was in actuality a decade earlier…

Speaking From the Heart (1993):

Produced by “American Idol’s” Simon Cowell (not a joke) “Speaking From the Heart” was the first single off of Wrestlemania: The Album, a roster-wide musical endeavor that also boasted a Bret Hart ballad and an Undertaker disco endeavor. Here, not unlike the recording of the final Doors album, Savage seemingly has his rambling about planets or whatever edited and matched to an original composition giving the single some semblance of a song. It’s completely non-sensical, although if you listen closely to Savage’s promises to “be with you when it happens” and “climb that mountain together” it’s clear the song is him comforting his loved one at an abortion clinic. There’s also an accompanying music video that omits half of Savage’s second verse as Vince McMahon was probably wary of the ‘MATCH-O’ Man infringing copyrights left and right.

Randy Savage Gets 50 Cent’s Co-Sign:

A decade later this happened. The media blitz began and soon every media outlet across all age brackets was alive with the sound of Savage. From Nickelodeon to BET and everywhere in between Be A Man was about to snap into your psyche. I remember sneaking over to rap websites my senior year of high school with the sound off during Journalism class, only to have the Macho Man pop-up TURN THE SOUND BACK ON and echo throughout the computer lab a reminder that “Ooooooooh yeah, head over to MachoMan.com and check out my new CD!” Truly this was an event that everyone, including Dr. Kay, had to know about. Finally on October 7th, 2003 the fateful day arrived and since this was the week I was taking part in the National Youth Leadership Council, I had to do my part as one of the America’s top young minds and invest in its glory.

Be a Man (2003):

The title track and first single, “Be A Man” was Randy Savage putting one-time wrestling and all-time real life rival Hulk Hogan on blast in a dis record that would be scathing had its existence not been so absurd. While his actual reasons for wanting to “kick him in the butt and wash his mouth out with soap” are vague, claiming he cussed out the Senior Savage over the phone or refused to actually fight him for charity, Savage let his seething anger become the focal point of the album’s entire promotional campaign. A friend of mine went to Savage’s album signing at Minnesota’s Mall of America around this time and casually mentioned he liked the episode of “Baywatch” Savage was in. Randy half-mumbled replied “Yeah…too bad Hogan was in it.”

Hit the Floor (2003):

Unlike most rap albums of the posse-heavy post-No Limit era, the Be A Man’s sole guest appearance came from DJ Kool of “Let Me Clear My Throat” fame. The Lil Jon of his time, Kool was known for yelling all over other people’s records and therefore making them better. Here he and Macho go totally insane and, honestly, get the party started. Perhaps what’s most surprising about Be A Man is how adequate-to-passable Savage’s rapping is. Songs like “I’m Back” and “Remember Me” (where he reveals and breaks down the “MACHO MAN” acronym) are self-aware, well produced and about as good as something like this could be. He’s rapping about all the wrestling he’s done, how much he loves rapping and how he’s a ‘butt kicking’ wrestling rapper. When he deviates from this path is where things begin to get awkward. Case in point this LL Cool J-esqe next number.

What’s It All About (2003):

By now I’m certain my female readership is (understandably) wondering what a romantic relationship with Randy Savage would be like. Well if “What’s It All About” is any indication “the feeling’s deep, come home, make love and fall fast asleep.” My personal favorite cut, I challenge all of you who’ve never heard it to roundup everyone in the workplace and play this song see how long you can last without exploding in laughter. If you make it past the female appearance at 2:02, you’re a more Macho Man than I.

Perfect Friend (2003):

Closing the album is Savage’s tribute to my biological father his close friend Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig. Co-written by his brother Lanny ‘the Genius’ Poffo, “Perfect Friend” seems genuine, heartfelt and poignant. At least it does in comparison to Hulk Hogan’s obscenely self-indulgent “Hulkster in Heaven,” a song about a Make-a-Wish Foundation child whose name Hogan neglects in favor of mentioning his own several more times. Also, unlike any of Hogan’s music, “Perfect Friend” wound up having an impact on the pop charts when an interpolation of it reappeared three years later as a Justin Timberlake song.

Randy Savage Garden

Despite being critically acclaimed, Be A Man wound up moving only 3,000 units and went quietly out-of-print within a year of its release. Savage has yet to return to rapping, but with Lil Wayne’s recent obsession with the man it’s clear he can’t leave rap alone, the game needs him**.

We Give Be A Man a SLIM JIM! ART THOU BORED? SNAP INTO IT!

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*LAURYN HILL DOESN’T COUNT!

**BONUS BEAT – A remix of Kanye West’s “Champion” completely comprised of Randy Savage quotes.