Posted tagged ‘music with a message’


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!

The Top Ten BET Un:Cut Videos (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

July 6, 2010

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.

It’s hard to believe it has been only four years since the demise of the hour of programming known as BET Un:Cut. The last block of exclusively “underground” and “independent” music on a major basic cable network, its absence has left a booty-shaped hole in the hearts of Hip-Hop and female anatomy aficionados everywhere. Since RapReviews just re:uped the BET UN:CUT SYMPOSIUM PODCAST I did with Adam Bernard two years ago (FREE DOWNLOAD! A MUST HEAR! RING THE ALARM!) I’ve decided to offer a little extra credit with my countdown of the top 10 BET Un:Cut videos of all time.

Be warned, this is the first post in the history of this site I have to declare a state of NSFW in order to do the subject matter justice. Welcome to the land of a thousand asses.

10 ) Lil Jon & the East Side Boys – “Bia Bia”

The original incarnation of BET UN:CUT was to allow the more explicit major label videos that had to be toned down for prime time to air completely unedited. Back in 2001, this was among the show’s first staples. Resembling a David Fincher film, Jon conducts a carnival of urban macabre while controversially wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt. I remember this video being the topic of choice of Ms. Pfeiffer’s sixth period Spanish Class as Amy Johnson would reference it all the time.

9 ) Waxamillion – “No Panties on the Dancefloor”

Sometimes these videos speak for themselves, which is perfect for moments like this were I am at a complete loss for words.

8 ) Crazy Al Cayne – “T&A”

“T&A” is an interesting entry in the Un:Cut canon as it’s among the first fully self-aware videos that aired in the 3-4 AM time-slot. After a string of successful parodies, popular radio personality Crazy Al Cayne decided in 2004 to finally shoot a video for one of his original compositions “T&A.” I remember Cayne himself posting teaser clips of the video for several weeks before it finally aired and having the final product far exceed my seventeen-year-old expectations.

7 ) Murs f/ Shock G & Humpty Hump – “Risky Business”

The heyday of BET Un:Cut occurred simultaneously with that of the modern indie-rap movement, so it’s only natural that the two worlds finally collided. Along with the Dilla-Madlib collaboration “McNasty Filth” shocking a nation of rap-apologist “conscious” coffee house college freshmen, the most successful of all these crossovers was Murs’ “Risky Business.” While Aesop Rock’s “Easy” was the first video from independent powerhouse Definitive Jux getting regular play during the channel’s standard rap video hours, Murs teamed with the Digital Underground frontman to crash parties across all camps and campuses.

6 ) Top Secret – “Dollie”

When I say BET Un:Cut would play a rap video of ANYONE from ANYWHERE regardless of quality, I really really really meant it. Case-in-point, Top Secret’s video for “Dollie,” a tribute to breasts that looks like it was shot on scotch tape through a Game Gear. Following the success of the song, the group attached a disclaimer to the front claiming it was a comedy video. Unfortunately for these Tommy Wiseaus of rap, it’s a notice that would never air.

5 ) TIE – Joker the Bailbondsman f/ Bizzy Bone – “Uh-Huh”

Labtekwon – “Uhnnn Huhnnn”

While I find putting “ties” in Top Ten lists to be cheating most of the time, I just couldn’t justify this as the definitive Un:Cut list without including both of these videos for no other reason than that they share the same name. First, Alaska’s favorite son Joker the Bailbondsman’s follow up to his original Un:Cut classic that has the most obvious use of stock footage in music video history that was propelled by the charisma of the then almost-completely insane Bizzy Bone. This was right when music video censorship started to get extreme, so the catchiness of “money in a ziploc bag” got relegated to after hours enjoyment.

The latter, from Baltimore rapper Labtekwon is another case of local icon striking national exposure through a veritable buffet of ass.

4 ) The Team Uncut – “Time For Freakin”

At the height of my 14-year-old “I only like lyrical rappers” phase, I used to loathe this video for every reason I love it now. I remember playing some Tony Hawk Dreamcast and always pausing to scowl at the TV when I heard that “bau-ba-bau-baup” bassline kick in. Another one of the early staples, it boggles my mind to this day that something this obscenely amateur got national television time several nights a week for five years. From the “I just got this camera, check out the cool stuff I can do”-esqe cleavage zoom-in to the “check out how funny my crazy friend is” edits to the “I really mean it!” facial expressions of the artists to the “BON-GOOOOOOOOS!” there’s an insane level of so-bad-it’s-so- good-it’s-back-to-bad-again-to-back-to-good-to-great at play that in a pre-YouTube world gave us the all exactly what we needed.

3 ) Mighty Casey – “White Girls”

2 ) Black Jesus – “What That Smell Like”

Game got real. If you ever channel-surfed past an episode of Un:Cut, chances are you’ve seen both of these videos. Adam and I go super in-depth on both of these on our Free BET Un:Cut Symposium Podcast (which you should download) so I’ll just add here that when the story of humanity is written and it’s time for the next great species to write the chapter on BET Un:Cut, these will be the two videos given as shining examples of human triumph. Those two and…

1 ) Nelly – “Tip Drill”

Yes folks, chances are the reason you’re reading this right now and the absolute pinnacle of mankind’s achievements can be found at 5:37 and 5:56 when a credit card gets run through a girl’s buttcheeks. I’m sure some of you out there are deconstructing that as some sort of allegory for the Bush Administration or what Hip-Hop went through over the past decade. I don’t care. What I do care about is how at once point there was a programming block set aside to where such things could be aired on television. It was a nightly magical moment during my formative years that to-this-day shapes my perceptions of women and the world around me. Thank you Mom & Dad for bringing me into this world. Thank you BET for bringing this program into my life. Thank you God for the divine touch that made it all come together.

We give BET Un:Cut a Five out of Five.

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