Friday, December 19, 2008

The Mustard Seed

On my movie grind yesterday. "The Wrestler" was predictably dope. Go see the first half of "Che". Who needs Jesus? Tonight I'm going to see Allah at what will be the last Hip Hop show ever at the Knitting Factory before they move to Brooklyn. Truth be told I'm amped for Black Thought's solo set. Keith Murray? Blunted, hyper articulate vocab rap, live? Not so much. Snowing like a bitch out here. After the awful, Coogi and khaki white collar crowd at the Slick Rick show two weeks ago I'm looking forward to a night of ACGs and North Face's. Put something in the air bitches. Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday Morning

Got tomorrow off to go watch the Jets piss away another promising season, so I'm moving this post up a day. Energy is high, life is good, why not vintage Alchemist and Prodigy? Listening to this song, I'm convinced "Threats" off the Black Album was a sublim making fun of P. Get home soon dunny.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The War Within

This was the first time I really sat up and took Kanye seriously. Before that he'd been a B-list Roc producer who took a fairly straight forward approach to his soul beats and sounded like a fat tongued retard on the grainy random freestyles you'd come across at the back of mixtapes. Then Talib taught him how to rap on the Sprite Liquid Mix Tour. Here's Kanye in his essence, the brashness, the brilliance, the intense self awareness and unapologetic contradictions. I'm a fan of the new album but I have to say I miss the old Kanye. Back then he didn't take his issues quite so seriously, and had the ability to laugh at his own preposterous behavior, which made his continuous outbursts all the more interesting. Is it real? A performance? A joke? Maybe a little of all three? It seems he was happiest back when he walked around with a chip on his shoulder, and he was the only person who knew how big he'd become.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Morning

Winter in New York means Bootcamp. I've always thought "Bucktown" actually sounds like a ride over the Manhattan Bridge on the Q train. I initially sweated Dah Shinin and thought of Enta da stage as a lesser work. This Fall, the more time I spend with Black Moon and the appropriately christened Buckshot, the more I tend to lean towards Enta da Stage as Bootcamp's best album. For those that say Lyricism died this decade, they'd do well to get acquainted with the Crown Heights native who never found an awkward pause he couldn't fill with an exuberant simulation of a gunshot. He very rarely hits a solid punchline and never needs to, Buckshot doesn't ride beats so much as he bends them over the couch and takes them, all in a sing songy cadence that in retrospect sounds downright Southern. Another weird, awesome personal aesthetic brought to life with concrete self confidence. Hip Hop nerdery aside you should be knocking either of these if you live in New York and have to work today, below is a few songs performed at the Knitting Factory show I attended a few weeks back.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Beginning and End

A belated Happy Birthday to Shawn Carter and Rest In Peace to Chad Butler.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Respect the Carrier


Before we begin this is required reading. You have to have a subscription to the magazine to read it online but if the synopsis appeals to you I'd definitely recommend picking one up or reading it in a Bodega while getting grilled by an Ahrab.

Now then. “Weed Carrier” is a label most often given negative connotations. It suggests a talentless hanger-on, a faux celebrity we pay attention to for no reason, a bum. However, there have been moments in Hip Hop in which the Weed Carrier has exceeded his humble role on the sideline and grabbed the limelight for a moment, however brief. This post is paying homage to the most memorable of those moments for me. Some are truly great and some are so bad they’re good, enjoy.

Lord Have Mercy- Everybody in the line outside: No that’s not Chali 2na, it’s the shockingly awesome Lord Have Mercy, a guttural MC from Brooklyn who was part of Busta Rhymes’ meh Flipmode collective. LHM was the only member worth mentioning outside Rah Digga (whose Dirty Harriet remains one of the better albums released by a FemC) and he absolutely murders his verse here. Below is a bonus video from a far less interesting Flatbush friend of Busta's.

Phil Da Agony- Blunted: Backpackers have weed carriers too. Phil’s most notable contributions were a verse or two on the Dilated Peoples album when they officially fell off and a mixtape joint with Talib. This used to be one of my favorite songs to burn to during lunch break in HS. Nice little lively flute loop for the greatest nom de plume ever to rap vaguely about California and being nice.

Lil Cease- Playa’s Anthem: They say the Brooklyn way is to spread love, and perhaps this is why no MC brought quite so many nobodies into the public consciousness then Biggie Smalls. From childhood friends to chicken heads, Big Poppa wasn’t above giving anyone a 16 on a random side project. (Blake Carrington, I’m talking to YOU) His longtime buddy Lil Cease was an occasionally decent personality rapper, but the bottom line is when Christopher Wallace writes and spits your verse for you, you’re probably going to come off well. Patois? Luke’s backup dancers? Hilarious. That chick gasping on the beat is one of my favorite little touches ever. Below is some vintage Big that made you believe this was going to be a legitimate group.

Street Life- Sweet Love: Tical 2000 had its moments, “Sweet Love” is near the top. (Alongside “Torture” and “Retro Godfather”) You gotta respect Street Life, he manages to worm his way onto Wu-Tang albums a decade after anyone's thought about him and can get ass while navigating traffic on the Verrazano. Below is some shit I randomly found when I Googled Street Life, not bad.

Hell Rell- Jail freestyle: When I think of Hell Rell my mind inevitably drifts to the picture below, the album cover “For the Hell of it”, and the promotional poster that hung at the corner of 5th and Baltic for way to long, never failing to provoke a laugh when I’d walk past. This dude fucking sucks but his freestyle from jail might’ve been the best thing about “Diplomatic Immunity”. It’s vintage Dipset aesthetic, a multi syllabic, smart ass exhibition ending with the crew on the other end of the line sending love and support, as Rell tags a “No homo” on the phrase “Holding my head”.

Horse- I want it: This song is off the late E-Money Bags sole effort, but I remembered it off some great old Clue tape I used to rock. Horse is the infamous body guard name checked by Jay who supposedly sonned the Street’s Disciple on Oochie Wally. (A lose lose if I ever saw one) Here they’re both at their best, with Horse managing to one up a great Nas verse by being nimble and introspective without falling prey to cliché on this mellow, shimmering beat. What made Nas think “Braveheart Party” was a good song?

Cadillac Tah- Pov City Anthem: Cadillac Tah was a backup dancer for the Inc who dropped this respectable bit of grime on the original Fast & Furious Soundtrack. The “original-Nokia-with-Snake-in-the-game-section-ring” beat carries the song, Tah is clearly a big fan of Venni Vitti Vicci, and who can blame him?

Memphis Bleek- Get Low, Respect it: It isn’t worth my time to revisit for this bullshit write-up but from what I can remember M.A.D.E. wasn’t that bad. Over a heart palpitating Just Blaze horn section, this song is pretty close to Bleek at his best, (two consecutive posts mentioning Memphis Bleek in a positive light, internet record?) besides the shitty Goodfellas intro which I couldn’t even escape on youtube and is a carbon copy of Jay’s Carlito’s Way intros. While I do like this song, his inability to get out of Jay’s shadow (via the intro) and complete lack of substance make this song the embodiment of why despite all the backing in the world he was never able to blow.

Armageddon- My Prerogative: This comes in towards the end of Fat Joe’s Don Cartagena, an album of all star production and guest appearances from the brief time in which Joe was re-energized by Pun’s emergence. Armageddon is a Terror Squad zero who demolishes his own symphonic beat with a real strong showing here.

John Forte- God is Love, God is War: The best thing to come out of the W. Bush administration, John Forte was a guttural side kick with a knack for getting on post The Score Fugees hits. (See: “We Tryin to Stay Alive”, “Rumble in the Jungle”, “Electric Avenue”) This beat kicks and apparently John was getting high on Wyclef’s supply.