Posted tagged ‘outkast’

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!

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

VH1 Hip Hop Honors 2010 – Reporting Live!

June 4, 2010

Best 2010 Hip-Hop Honors Ever!

It’s the early morning of Friday, June 4th and I’m writing this having just returned home from the 2010 VH1 Hip Hop Honors event. This year’s theme is The Dirty South, honoring such legends as Master P, J. Prince (founder of Rap-A-Lot), 2 Live Crew, Timbaland and Jermaine Dupri. Thanks to the homie Adam Bernard, I was invited to witness the festivities firsthand and let me tell you what a rare treat this was. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and would spend my weekends hopping from music store to music store. Due to the North Star state’s geographic location, rappers from every region eventually had their material matriculate back to us. I got a fever for several simultaneous flavors and really learned to love rap music for its various variants. Now was my first opportunity ever to see many of my heroes in the flesh, so of course I had to be there.

Seriously.

Before I begin, I want to point out that the entire show was shot “out-of-order” so if anything in this recap happens in a different sequence or doesn’t make it to air, you can chalk it up to the magic of television. I’m going to attempt to avoid spoilers, but knowing VH1’s track record you’re going to be bombarded with commercials of all the surprises so unless you have the will-power to not watch the numerous “What Chilli Wants” marathons over the next 72 hours I’d advise you to proceed with caution.

After hours of standing, the night began with a tribute to Rap-A-Lot Records’s founder J Prince. Rap-A-Lot’s string of releases from 1990-1994 is my favorite period of any record label’s output ever. The medley of the label’s biggest hits began with Geto Boys member Willie D and The Game performing “Mind Playin Tricks on Me.” Say what you will about The Game’s music and penchant for name-dropping, but his love for Hip-Hop really shines through in his live performance as he knocked Bushwick Bill’s verse out of the park. The medley also included Juvenile doing “Nolia Clap” and Drake dueting with UGK’s Bun-B. None of these acts were announced beforehand, so you can imagine how the place exploded when they just appeared on stage one-right-after-another.

We were then treated to the opening vignette and an incredible brief (We’re talking 2-3 jokes tops) monologue from Craig Robinson, best known as Daryll from “The Office.” His dry wit was quite a change from the playfully obnoxious partying of Tracy Morgan in years past, but with the flamboyance of the talent being honored and doing the honoring he made an effective straight man, making the presentation palatable for the not-so-country attendants at hand. Also on hand were comedians Eddie Griffin and “Community’s” Donald Glover, the latter of which’s introduction of 2 Live Crew got the biggest laugh of the night.

I thought it was a smart move to divide the tributes by region, allowing the night to work as something of a crash course in “Country Rap Tunes.” Odd as it may sound, Jermaine Dupri got the biggest reactions of the night. For whatever reason, whenever his name was mentioned, the crowd erupted. Odder still is that he got this warm reception yet his tribute video and performance was the only one audible heckled. The only thing I found jeer-worthy of his segment was Diddy giving the worst performance of the night with arguably the least convincing lip-syncing ever publicly performed. What made it so bad was that during his “Welcome to Atlanta” verse, Dupri was still backing him up with a live mic resulting in awkward audio for all.

As for the second worst performance, it fell in the middle of an otherwise great No Limit tribute. Romeo came out dressed like his father circa-’96 to do “I’m Bout It, Bout It” and his tremendous attention to detail in the attire made it work. Off to a great start, things come to a screeching halt when this transitioned with the smoothness of a parking break into Silkk the Shocker’s “That’s Kool.” Despite being the final “hit” of the original No Limit Records, Silkk gave-up midway through the verse repeating one bar four times and then half-finishing the rest, just in time for Trina to miss her cue, do the second half of the chorus, and exit. Gucci Mane then came out as he and Kid Capri attempted to reenergize the crowd getting them just barely ready for MYSTIKAL to do his “MAKE ‘EM SAY UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” verse, saving the night. It’s really great to see Mystikal back on the scene and as energetic as ever, but his appearance just made the choice of “That’s Kool” all the more baffling. Here you have a chance to reunite Silkk and Mystikal for arguably the label’s third most well known song (“It Ain’t My Fault”) and instead you opt for “That’s Kool,” a song nobody really liked or wanted to hear in the first place?

While Silkk Lupe-ing himself will most likely still make it to air, one thing you won’t see is the Serato breaking down during 2 Live Crew’s performance, resulting in them restarting three times over. Sadly, this means you’re going to miss the night’s most genuinely touching moment. After “Me So Horny” and “Hoochie Mama,” the opening notes of “Banned in the USA” suddenly went silent. With the show stopped and countless technicians rushing the stage to fix the problem, Luke walks out and says “No Music? F**k it then. Let’s do this.” He then goes into the Crew’s old “One and One” routine (their reinterpretation of The Kinks “All Day and All of the Night”) as each member joins in with a “just like old times” look in their eyes. Moments like this are what a show like Hip Hop Honors should be about and it would be a shame if you never got to see it.

With the bulk of this show set to be made in post-production, the lineup’s randomness really drained the crowd. The real star, however, was the tremendous set design and art direction. Every artist had a distinct motif that really captured who they were. It helped give each region a distinct look to match the sound and added a grandiose touch of theatrics. Both VH1 and the artists involved really went out of their way to make the night as comprehensive as possible, from Cool Breeze (the man who coined the phrase “Dirty South” on Goodie Mobb’s 1995 album Soul Food) performing the Organized Noize tribute to Mannie Fresh grabbing the mic in between 2 Live Crew technical difficulties to acknowledge Suave House and other southern icons that VH1 forgot.

While I really have no idea how this is going to look on air, I had a great time. The Rap-A-Lot medley was the best performance and believe me when I tell you it is not to be missed. If you check it out, be sure to look for me. I’m the one white guy who isn’t wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses indoors or has a flat-out embarrassing tattoo. Seriously caucazoids, step your game up!

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

“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.

B.O.B. “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” – Album Review

May 4, 2010

WARNING: album will turn your iPod into a house of lies.

What is it about rap music that strikes fear into the hearts of music fans and record labels right now? While there seems to be a steady flow of rap releases every year, it seems the actual time spent “rapping” on them has been declining. It’s not a matter of guest appearances from R&B singers like the over-collaborative late-90s, rather rappers seem to be doing everything but rapping in order to help their rap record find an audience. Is the market for a straight-forward rap album just not there, or in this apocalyptic age of an everything-has-to-sell mentality are rap labels not comfortable enough with the rap audience being won over by a rap sheet of just rapping? Case in point, The Adventures of Bobby Ray the depressingly disappointing debut from Atlanta rapper B.O.B.

B.O.B. rose to prominence in summer 2007 off a string of mixtapes that made it seem like he was the rightful heir to the Outkast throne. For all the love Andre3000 gets (and rightfully so) for being one of the best rappers on the planet right now, it’s easy to forget that from 2004-2006 his “I-think-I’m-Prince” output was irredeemably awful*. So at a time when most of us were “kinda sour cause our favorite group ain’t comin’ with it,” B.O.B. appeared not as a poor imitation, but rather a heavily influenced artist who was now carving his own niche with songs like “Daddy” and “Sing My Song” that not only were great rap songs, but packed enough personality and seemed catchy enough to crossover to any audience. Then, he signed to Atlantic**. While early releases like “Grip Your Body” and others still showed tremendous promise, they were not an accurate indication of The Adventures of Bobby Ray’s 2010 release.

No relation.

The album is 48 minutes of “hey everybody, please like me.” While B.O.B. has shown an interest and talent in branching out from just rapping in the past, such as his B.O.B. vs. Bobby Ray mixtape that split the tracklisting evenly between rapping and singing, the presentation here just sounds contrived. The soundscape is heavily over-produced, the spaced-out singy-songy delivery is redundant and the guest list is one of the most blatant attempts at pandering I’ve ever seen. Joining B.O.B. are people who haven’t been interesting in a decade (Eminem, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer) and the people who are “interesting” in the most uninteresting ways (Lupe Fiasco, Janelle Monet). Many cite B.O.B.’s own musical fandom as the excuse reasoning, but if he were a real fan wouldn’t he know that not since 1996 has even Rivers Cuomo sounded interested in Rivers Cuomo?

The main reason why The Adventures of Bobby Ray fails as a rap album is how little rapping there is on it. Granted, the response to this is the same as Kid Cudi’s contingent who claim his is “not a rap album” as if there’s some sort of critic-proof forcefield that surfaces the second a rapper decides he knows how to sing. B.O.B. made a name for himself as a rapper, promoted this release as a rap album and it’s catagorized in the rap section. If it doesn’t walk like a duck or quack like a duck, why would you sell me such an awful duck?

They say that he's changing, cause he's getting famous.

I’m all for experimentation in music, but what the post-Gnarls generation of rappers fail to realize is that the greatest creative achievements come from what’s done within certain limits, not what’s done with no limits***. The disarming “Lovelier Than You,” a very genuine straight-forward sing-along, is great and would have worked perfectly as an endearing breather moment surrounded by actual rap songs. The fact that the album ends with it, “5th Dimension” (with worthwhile spacey non-sequitors) and “Airplanes Part 2” (where Eminem kicks the same ‘what if I never blew up’ verse he’s kicked for six years now, but this is one of the best times he’s done it so it works), the three strongest songs on the album, heavily devalues the rest of the album with each re-listen. While The Adventures of Bobby Ray might attract some audiences looking for a spaced-out existential singing endeavor, as a rap record it’s a dubious failure that should be banished to where the Idlewild things are.

We Give The Adventures of Bobby Ray a Two Out of Five

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

*A vivid memory of the 2006 Tower Records liquidation sale was, on the final day, the rows and rows of unsold Idlewild CDs next to as many copies of the Held Up soundtrack. The fact that a group whose previous effort moved ten million copies couldn’t get people to buy their new record for $1.00 is a testament to how wretchedly awful that album is.

**Not unlike Jive Records, Atlantic has proven completely inept time and time again with breaking new rap talent. While they have had success with TI and others who had already debuted on other labels and had the A&R work done for them, the streets are littered with everyone from Little Brother to Apathy that they clearly had no idea what to do with.

***Except, of course, for what’s done with No Limit Records. Those results are often bout it bout it.