Posted tagged ‘rap music’

WHO FLOPPED IT BETTER? – “Love to Love You”

February 25, 2011

The Love Goes Around...

Welcome to Who Flopped It Better? A recurring segment here where we look at a sample used in a variety of rap songs and determine who indeed flopped it better? This week we look at “Love to Love You” by Donna Summer!

Donna Summer – “Love to Love You” (1975)

Donna Summer’s first disco hit in America. A midst a successful disco career in Europe, Summer suggested the line “I love to love you” to songwriter Giorgio Moroder who flushed the concept out into a full song that went to number one on the dance charts. Its infectious bassline has lived on, being used in three particularly different ways.

Digital Underground – “Freaks of the Industry” (1989)

Off the group’s celebrated debut Sex Packets, “Freaks of the Industry” maintains Summer’s sultriness to the point making the bassline come off almost sinister in its seduction.

Eyedea and Abilities – “Big Shots” (1999)

On the other hand, here we have DJ Abilities’ minimalist stripping of the sample to just the isolated bass, giving an authoritative thump for celebrated battle champ Eyedea to lop character study punchlines over.

Run-DMC – “Degeneration X” (2000)

Finally we have the Run-DMC reworking of the “Degeneration X” theme, a reworking of “Love to Love You” if it was performed by Rage Against the Machine. It’s a puzzling song that really dates Run as, despite being the entrance music for wrestling’s preeminent counter-culture degenerates, Run spends the first verse lecturing rappers who sampled him without asking permission and then threatening to sue them. Tough talk from a man who spent his first four albums not clearing a single sample at all.

So the question arises, who do you think flopped it better?

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

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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!

I, VALENTINE – Music For Loving Lovers in Love and Sultry Singles

February 12, 2010

Editor’s Note: This is something I wrote that originally appeared “somewhere else” back in 2007. Times were different then, so in order for something so archaic to be comprehendible by today’s audiences I’ve added a few *NEW* elements, which will be signaled by obnoxiously writing “new” in capitol letters with two asterisks on either side.

Hearts, Stars and Horseshoes,

It’s that time of the year again. That day between observing Martin Luther King Jr. and (dead) Presidents when we remember that the person we’re sharing a bed with is pretty alright as well. For singles, this is a day when one either remembers how fortunate they were with lovers past (I see you baby!) or loathe the fact that nobody loves them and spend the evening awkwardly trying to scoop something young, drunk and warm (I see you, baby.)

For me, regardless of romantic condition, it’s a time of eating Sweethearts candies and listening to some of the most inspired musical memories from seasons past. That in mind, I thought I’d post some fitting music to you regardless of your condition this February 14th. What follows will either A) Get you and that special someone in ‘that kinda mood’ to have a night of Valentine Laffy Taffy together B) Get you singles pumped up to pimp it out tonight, or C) just chill and procrastinate on that homework due tomorrow you should have had done last night.

Hey, I have to earn one of those Facebook Wall Gifts somehow, right? Also, you’ll notice a lack of Isaac Hayes, LL Cool J, and Marvin Gaye in this list. I agree that they’re probably the Best Love Summer Jam No. 1 OMGLYLASBBQ muzik eVaR, but do you really need another list telling you how great “I Need Love” is?

And into the Tunnel of Love we go…

Some people call him the space cowboy. Some call him the Gang Starr of love.

1) Gang Starr – “Ex Girl to Next Girl” (1992)

For the Romantically Reflective –

A mixtape favorite of mine for several years, this was the centerpiece of Gang Starr’s 1992 classic “Daily Operation.” DJ Premier’s manipulation of Caesar Frazier’s “Funk It Up” becomes the perfect backdrop for arguably Guru’s finest hour. Never has his introspective vocabulary and everyman delivery suited a song better than this tale of love, loss, and closure. Mature without being pretentious, intelligent without being forced, “Ex Girl to Next Girl” remains one of the genre’s greatest moments. Perfection.

2) Amy Winehouse – “F*** Me Pumps” (2003)

For the Cynical Singles in the Corner of the Club Laughing at Those of Us Who Buy Into this “Hallmark Holiday” –

Before she was on the verge of being the next big import, Amy Winehouse debuted overseas with an interesting genre-bending album called “Frank.” Influenced by everything great about the Wikipedia article about the last 50 years of popular music (as well as some not-so-great things such as improper dieting) the album found her channeling great heartfelt R&B one moment and singing soulfully over Nas’s “Made You Look” the next without missing a beat. The highlight for me was “F-Me Pumps,” a scathing bit of cynicism that sounds like it was recorded in Heaven.

On a personal note, this song remains the single best song I’ve ever been introduced to on one of those “relationship” mixtapes you make for your special someone that they’ll probably listen to once or twice over the course of the relationship*. *NEW* The version that was given to me was a remix known as the Mylo Mix, which I’ve sentimentally thrown up here.

3) Main Source – “Lookin’ At the Front Door” (1992)

For those in Relationships That Plan To End Them as Soon as they Get the Gift and it becomes the 15th –

Arguably the best album to drop on Wild Pitch Records, Main Source’s “Breaking Atoms” is much more than just Nas’s recorded debut. With one of the all time greatest producers Large Professor behind the boards, this album contained one of Hip Hop’s greatest police brutality cuts (“A Friendly Game of Baseball”), posse cuts (“Live at the BBQ”) and the only one-verse song that rivals Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid in Full” (“Peace is Not the Word to Play”)

The album also contained this single, “Lookin’ At the Front Door.” One of the most referenced songs in the genre, this break down of exactly why a relationship isn’t working is funny, clever, and ultimatly moving. Couple that with one of the most recognizable beats of the era and you have an undisputed Hip-Hop classic, everything the genre can and should be.


4) Souls of Mischief – “Step to My Girl” (1992)

For the Overprotective Boyfriend, and those who Covet them –

A song that sadly never saw the light of day on “93 Til Infinity” due to sample clearance issues, this Bay Area banger about the absurd machismo of overprotective boyfriends is one of the best creations from a crew who, at the time, could do no wrong. The beauty of the Grover Washinton Jr. sample (an instrumental cover of Bread’s “Aubrey,” a song with lyrics so pre-emo that my wrists hurt just listening to them) and the contrast it provides to the crew’s endearing slapstick makes for a one-of-a-kind gem. With the sample at the end making for one final solid laugh, the song is four minutes and nine seconds of perfection. The hilarious KRS sample for the chorus doesn’t hurt either.

5) Chaz Kangas – “Black Cherry Chazfool” (2009)

DOWNLOAD THIS NEW CHAZ KANGAS SONG HERE!!!

For those having this night of all nights for awkward first dates –

*NEW* Originally “Black Cherry Audrey” from my 2005 collaboration album with Patrick “Kid Icarus” Swanson (Mouthful of Bees), here’s a quick press blurb from before the album’s release:

“One of the prettier moments on “Notes from the Underground”, this charming ode to awkward love disarms, arms, and disarms again.”

I had always liked the song and would work it into my live sets whenever possible. Once “Knee Jerk Reaction” came out I forgot about it and didn’t take it out of the vault until last December when I wanted to rework an old song of mine as the B-Side to my 2009 Christmas song “Christmas Mischief.” I don’t recall what exactly drove me to do it over “Lovefool” by the Cardigans, but somehow it worked.

Love me, or leave me alone.

And on that note, I hope you’ve enjoyed this romantic romp. I’m trying real hard to earn one of those Facebook wall gifts, so hopefully this great deed** won’t go unrewarded.

I also want to dedicate this post to my college Facebook girlfriend of two years, Katherine “Shadowcat” Pryde. Of all the fictional characters I’ve ever been involved with, you’ve by far kept it the realest. If you’re not busy with the X-Men, save me a dance at the end of the night.

Your Valentine,
Chaz

*The worst is still “Teenage Rock and Roll Machine” by the Donnas.

** Greater even than the 2002 Adam Sandler film Mr. Deeds.

CHAZ’S TOP TEN RAP ALBUMS OF THE DECADE NOT NAMED “SUPREME CLIENTELE!” (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

January 30, 2010

RAP MUSIC!

It’s a little known fact that everybody knows and agrees on “SUPREME CLIENTELE” by Ghostface Killah being the absolute best rap album of the decade. It came out within the first quarter of the first year and stood for the entire stretch without being topped. You’ve had ten years to listen to it and chances are if you’re reading this you’re either nodding and going “Why yes, I agree with this statement” or you’re buying the album off Amazon.com for $6.99 here or you’re a lame. Regardless, putting this album at the top of another list is masturbatory at best and auto-erotically asphyxiating at worst. So, how about we talk about the ten best rap albums that aren’t this album, eh? Alright, let’s make with the rap-rap!

Also, I’ve deliberately chosen to share songs that weren’t singles because #1 these entire albums are awesome and #2 I’m awesome.

10) Turf Talk – “West Coast Vaccine” (2007)
The magnum opus of the exciting, innovating and defiantly ‘Hip-Hop’ Hyphy movement, Turf Talk and producer Rick Rock teamed up for record that, even after multiple listens, surprises and stuns while keeping the party moving. An acquired taste if there ever was one, “West Coast Vaccine” stands the pinnacle of a moment that ended before its time.

9) Non-Prophets – “Hope” (2003)
While the latter half of the decade featured rappers attempting to make music that sounded like eras they were born too late to be a part of, Sage Francis and producer Joe Beats beat them to the punchline by making a traditionalist boom-bap record that plays more like historical fiction than a love letter. By using subtlety where others used nostalgia, Sage and Joey made what was once old new again and, dare I say, fresh!

8 ) Cannibal Ox – “The Cold Vein” (2001)
Following the fallout of his group Company Flow, El-P channeled his cold outlook on life in New York City through the warmth of his ASR-10 for his label’s landmark album “The Cold Vein.” More than a beatmaker, El-P showed what makes him a truly great producer by using MCs Vast Aire and Vordul Mega as tools in his soundscape, accentuating their positives and hiding their negatives for an experience countless others have failed to duplicate since.


7) M.O.P. – “Warriorz” (2000)

While M.O.P. spent most of the decade in record label limbo, they remained on the Hip-Hop audience’s radar for nine years with what CBRap’s Andrew Noz refers to as “the last boom bap record.” A brutal swan song for Loud Records, “Warriorz” features Brownsville’s finest cracking skulls and snapping necks with such fervor that you can’t help but yell along with them.

6) TI – “King” (2006)
While you could make the argument that he was a better rapper on “Trap Muzik” or had better production on “I’m Serious,” the soundscape TI created on his 2006 masterpiece “King” is as complete a statement as albums get. The only rap album released that year that went platinum, TI represented the genre at its all-time lowpoint with not only a fantastic performance all his own, but defining a sound by bringing the best out of his in-house production team* and getting the likes of B.G. and Common to drop their best verses of the decade on their cameos.

5) Clipse – “Lord Willin” (2002)
In the post-9/11 post-shiny suit era, the Neptunes’ minimalist production on “Grindin” by the Clipse proved sometimes skeletons cast the largest shadows. While the album frequently faced the “they only rhyme about coke” critique, Pusha T and Malice didn’t use the subject as a crutch, rather a launching pad for how intertwined and trickled-down the hustlers’ profession affected their lives as well as a unifying theme that made it an incredibly entertaining and cohesive album.

4) Brother Ali – “Shadows on the Sun” (2003)
Some lives are so eventful, their memoirs read like textbooks. In the case of Brother Ali’s 2003 debut “Shadows on the Sun,” sometimes they’re just as enlightening. Ali’s brutal honestly and bombastic delivery makes his vulnerable juggernaut persona one of rap’s most compelling characters, and with producer Ant at the helm he was guided to start his career off with a masterpiece.

3) Sean Price – “Monkey Bars” (2005)
The buzz surrounding the man once known as “the other half of Heltah Skeltah” has been arguably the most surprising comeback of the past ten years. Reinventing himself as “the brokest rapper you know,” Sean Price let his charisma stream-of-consciously wander through his apathy over a hodgepodge of beats ranging from the Boot Camp aggression of “Boom Bye Yeah” to the 9th Wonder-laced “Heartburn” bringing new meaning to the term ‘hopeless romantic.’ Price’s ridiculously subtle and complex writing catches both the listeners who appreciate the face value thug tales, as well as rewards repeat listeners who catch the numerous double and triple entendres.

2) Masta Ace – “Disposable Arts” (2001)
The Juice Crew’s Masta Ace returned to the rap world with “Disposable Arts,” alerting an entire generation of backpackers that #1 ‘this is how it should be done’ and #2 ‘Masta Ace is lightyears ahead of you.’ The first honest documentation of a long-silent Golden Age rapper in the twilight of his career, Ace’s “Disposable Arts” was both life-affirming and effortlessly relevant. The number of rap concept albums that actually work is very low** but Ace pulls it off with this required listening for every rapper, listener, or person with even a passing interest in the genre.


1) Scarface – “The Fix” (2002)

Wow, where to begin. It’s daunting to even think about how much Scarface accomplishes over this 47:16 running time. From the best ‘back in the day’ song ever recorded (“On My Block”) to outshining two frequently argued ‘greatests of all time’ without breaking a sweat (Jay-Z on “Guess Who’s Back” and Nas on “In Between Us” who both still turn in two of their all-time best performances) all the way through “Heaven” a track that explains Face’s relationship with God foresaking heavy-handedness in favor of testifying with more genuine sincerity than the entire genre of “Christian rap” it is without peer. In a genre where most careers end after two albums***, Scarface’s seventh solo album stands as a shining example of what happens when an artist grows with their audience. Incredible.

So those are my favorite favorites.**** Pretty good decade for rap. Remember, these albums are all available at your nearest internet collection.

Drake (rapper)

(RUNNER UP BUTTERCUPS:
UGK – “Underground Kingz”
Madvillain – “Madvillainy”
El-P – “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead”
semi.oFFICIAL – “The Anti-Album”
Big Moe – “City of Syrup”
Atmosphere – “Strictly Leakage”
Paul Wall & Chamillionaire – “Get Ya Mind Correct”
Murs & 9th Wonder – “Murray’s Revenge”
Three-6 Mafia – “Most Known Unknowns”
Z-Ro – “Let the Truth Be Told”)

*Grand Hustle: The World’s Most Talented Weed-Carriers.

**A whopping ‘one.’

***if that.

****To be honest, I’ve probably listened to The Outsidaz “The Nightlife EP” more than anything else this decade, but alas it’s an EP so it’s disqualified. Fear not my boy, it will be a treasured subject for another day.

Until next time let’s agree to agree!