Hip-Hop Is Full of Thugs

Ever since the murders of young men like Oscar Grant and Trayvon martin, a lot of awareness is being built up for America’s 400+ year relationship with “minorities”, particularly black people. Fast-forward to 2015, black pride is probably the strongest it has been in this whole generation. And hip-hop, one of the most dominant forces in our modern society has reflected this in a truly powerful way.

Rappers have stepped up to the political forefront as champions for the cause for equality. Killer Mike has appeared all over news channels, sharing his articulate insight on the current sociopolitical climate

As he has, very fervently, in his music

As he has, very fervently, in his music

Him doing so has created a powerful visibility for a number of things, namely the Run the Jewels brand and the movement. Needless to say, hip-hop is proud.

Another example of engaged rappers is Talib Kweli. The legend has been sharing wisdom all over his social networks, as well as appearing on CNN. Just follow him on social media to see this.

In fact, social media has been a pivotal point in this new movement, as we see many celebrities and artists share their thoughts and feelings in a way that has never been shown and shared before. Twitter posts by artists surrounding incidents around police brutality or screwy media quickly hit headlines. Anything you see on the internet quickly spurs huge conversations, for example, Azealia Banks’ fiascos.

Most profoundly of all, this has leaked into the music of many artists, underground and mainstream. The commentary presented in Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” video is powerful and potent.

Many have taken his last album to be a “pro-black” composition, although it’s moreso a story of Kendrick Lamar’s revelation after conquering his bouts of depression and simply brushing and bumping past the concept of “pro-black”. And his messages has transcended circles of hip-hop into mainstream media, albeit misconstrued. Big name artists team up to make posse tracks. Up and comers deliver powerful passion of these incidents hungrily. Benjamin Starr, for one, deserves a huge mention that’s packed with black pride and empowerment from front to back.

It’s refreshing to see that as much to see that things have evolved and changed, a lot has stayed the same. Hip-hop is still the voice for those who wouldn’t have had one otherwise.

Watch the lyric video for “Thuggin'” by Glasses Malone

Advertisements

Killer Mike – Ghetto Gospel | Music Video

Here the sightwork for one of 2012’s finest. RAP Music was an incredible album, an apex of our time, and this is one of the best songs from it. Especially that third verse man,

 

The video is pretty much what you’d expect from the title, ghetto and church. You get to sit through a southern church service, some scrippas, couple of gangstas, a cemetery, and Mike maneuvering throughout.

Itzme Review: El-P & Killer Mike – Run the Jewels

Killer Mike and El-Producto made an, on the surface, unlikely yet powerful pairing last year through the Adult Swim network. Through that pairing they managed to respectively make, arguably (not really), the best two hip-hop albums last year.

With such impressive quality they gather overwhelming admiration and support for their craft. Fans all over have been anxiously anticipating their next move before it was even announced. Once Run the Jewels dropped, all of hip-hop’s eyes were on El and Mike.

Run the Jewels is an album of socio-political consciousness, [educated] villainy, and raw spittin’. And this theme carries throughout the whole album, giving it that same vibe throughout the whole thing. El and Mike master this somewhat comical villainy, talking about blasting poodles and riverdancing on people’s face with cleats. It’s almost as if they made this to represent how well they fit in with Adult Swim, as many of the characters on those shows are whimsically evil as well. Lines like “Actin’ brave and courageous ain’t advantageous for health and safety,” and, “try to save grace, get a face full of staples” make you feel like these are the most heartless people who spawned into existence. These lyrics depict them as villainous instead of them saying “hey guys I’m evil!”

Despite this air of devilishness they both take time to warn you about the evils of the system, which is a recurring strength of Mike’s; and it shows in his verses on “DDFH” and his last in “Get It”. On “DDFH” Mike opens strong with his thoughts of institutional corruption with the line:

“Cops in the ghetto, they move like the Gestapo,

drunk off their power and greed, they’re often hostile”

And then in “Get It” he comments on the “corporation slavery” off entertainers saying, “they corporation slaves, indentured to all the lenders, so even if you got seven figures, you’re still a n***.” Of course this isn’t exclusive to Mike, and El often speaks of similar concepts in his songs, and they do a good job of both supporting a concept when there is a concept.

A minor gripe with this album is that there aren’t any strong concepts to the songs. Some of them are loose like the aforementioned “DDFH” and “A Christmas F** Miracle”, but other than that it’s just general rapping. The lack of conceptual songs isn’t reeeeally a big deal, but as a fan of both these artists, one would know they’re perfectly capable and furthermore proficient at such.

As far as the spittin’ well they both go IN on the majority of the songs. Many of them use a back and forth tag-team style to overwhelm your ears with ridiculous rappin’. The two have an oddly fitting chemistry. The dynamic duo use cross-referencing (“Mike’s a villain”/“You know I get gone, I’m a goner”), among other techniques to make their styles, which are actually very different, fit together on these tracks. El’s stanzas a stock full of exciting quotables like, “you want a hand, bring your throat, I got stools and a rope” and “make a sane man walk around with a blunderbuss, peel another round make a sound that is thunderous” among many many more. Mike also flows with incredible ability like his masterful bars in “Banana Clipper”, but he also feels like he was rather reserved in some of the songs. Almost as if he was saying “Fuck it, it’s free.” For example, in “Job Well Done” Mike’s energy and delivery were on point, but the verse was rather underwhelming otherwise for a top tier rapper, with no strong wordplay or amazing flow patterns.

The production is awesome, which is no surprise at all coming from El. Just like most of his beats on the masterpiece, Cancer 4 Cure, they seem to draw a lot from hard rock, techno, and electronic music; yet still has a raw hip-hop feel to them. Some of them like “Run the Jewels” and “Sea Legs” are incredibly layered in a rock style with little guitar rift countermelodies speckled in. While others contrast that complexity with more simple loops with tight loops of real digital sounding melodies and hard-pumping bass like “36” Chain” and “Banana Clipper”.  El-P continues his streak of top notch production on this album, absolutely no complaints here on the raw instrumentals. Despite the beats being so great, El-P has shown to be a lot more innovative and strong in his production in his work from last year. You don’t get as many of those incredible beat progressions and transitions that you got from before.

Run the Jewels is a great display of rapping and production in its rawest form, and ends powerfully with the Christmas Miracle song where the two express a deep look into their upbringing and how it molded their mindsets and resolves respectively. Run the Jewels has good, lyrics, flow, production, etc. the main basic things you want out of a rap album. Despite all of this, it doesn’t feel like it was taken as seriously as it could’ve because it’s free. It’s void of strong concepts and well-stated concepts along with creative ventures in music that was present on older projects. Nonetheless, it is without a doubt one of the best projects you can get for free. Matter of fact, it’s one of the best projects of recent times period.

Album Grade: B+

New and Near Hip-hop Projects

Lots of stuff slated for release soon, so stay tuned. But first, let’s mention these joints that were just dropped.

Ya’ll probably already know about that new Action Bronson and Harry Fraud joint. A lil something from the Queens spitter. Dude dropped two of the best tapes last year, so he’s definitely worth checking out on this one. I’m actually surprised he took this long to give us a lil sumn sumn.

Also, Mr. Muthaf*ckin eXquire releases his tape entitled Kismet. This is one of the best tapes of the year so far for sure. eXquire got really creative and switched up his environment to make some real freaked out and unique stuff. He also exhibits a ton of styles too. A must listen.

Everyone’s favorite cokehead rapper also released something new. It’s amazing this guy ain’t locked up. Anyway, this is on some semi-compilation stuff, so I don’t exactly mess with it all the way, but whatever.

Just seen this dude on that new Gangsta Gibbs track and now all of a sudden he got a new project out. Anyway, this dude was supposedly a ghostrider for Snoop back in the day and whatnot. This Compton rapper coming out the woodworks to make a name for himself, with a whole bunch of popular features. I don’t really care about features unless they’re used properly though, but anyway this is some new ish worth a listen.

sfls

Omar Bunyan (formerly known as Pedro English) from the OXYxMORON crew is releasing a solo project on the 7th of August. Oxy had one of the best tapes of last year with their project, The Woods. The tape was amazing and I’m glad I found it, though I was mad late. Honestly, Omar really stood out on that tape and since hearing it I’ve been interested in seeing his growth, so this tape is the perfect opportunity. Definitely a tape to look out for. Peep the first single from it:

Hip-hop giants, Killer Mike and El-P have this collaborative EP slated for release on June 29th. Both artists sit comfortably atop the rap game with their last albums which were widely considered two of the best musical efforts made last year. Cancer 4 Cure in fact was the best hip-hop album of 2012. I’ve been picking their singles for my singles picks for a reason, I’m glad these guys are giving us something for free to hold us over til their next joints.

Tracklist

1. Run the Jewels
2. Banana Clipper feat. Big Boi
3. 36″ Chain
4. DDFH
5. Sea Legs
6. Job Well Done feat. Until the Ribbon Breaks
7. No Come Down
8. Get It
9. Twin Hype Back feat. Prince Paul
10. A Christmas Fucking Miracle

Freddie Gibbs also has two joints on the way. First his ESGN tape, which is a solo tape.

Tracklist

1. Lil Sodi

2. The Real G Money

3. Came Up

4. Hundred Thousand (feat. G-Wiz & Hit “Skrewface”)

5. D.O.A. (feat. G-Wiz & Big Kill)

6. Lay It Down

7. I Seen a Man Die (feat. Lil Sodi)

8. Have U Seen Her (feat. Hit “Skrewface”)

9. One Eighty Seven (feat. Problem)

10. Eastside Moonwalker

11. F.A.M.E. (feat. Daz Dillinger & Spice 1)

12. Paper (feat. Y.B.)

13. The Color Purple

14. Certified Live (feat. G-Wiz & Jay Rock)

15. Ten Packs of Backwoods (feat. D-Edge)

16. Dope In My Styrofoam (feat. G-Wiz & G.I. Fleezy)

17. 9Mm (feat. G.I. Fleezy & G-Wiz)

18. Lose Control (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)

19. Freddie Soprano

20. Murda Dem (feat. G.I. Fleezy & Big Kill)

and he also has another highly anticipated project with superproducer Madlib called Cocaine Pinata. Gibbs is one of my favorite rappers right now, and he’s been doing his thang lately especially when he dropped that Cold Day in Hell project two years ago. I still listen to that today.

Also, Sir Milo is coming out with his debut, Corner Stores and Iron Horses(?). Dude has an innovative way of rapping and harmonizing on songs. He tackles instrumentals in ways nobody else would think of and excels in his melodic flows. I think Wale and Joey Bada$$ are coming out with tapes soon also, but that’s pretty much all I’m personally anticipating.

Itz My Single Picks 6/4

Haven’t done one of these in a good while. Nobody has really been putting out any singles I reeeally mess with. There are a few unreleased jams that ya’ll need to hear, but y’know, they’re unreleased. Anyway let’s get started.

Soundcloud is a wondrous place where you can discover artists off the random. Found this guy Inko Sana Bey and heard his newest track “The Only Goal” in which the guy cleverly used the slow drumline to add flexibility to the tempo of his flow which then emphasized his profound personality in the song. I’m watching out for this guy. Cuz also shouted out Avion at the end (R.I.P)

Queens spitter Sir Milo goes in on this boom-bap beat with his never-resting flow and robotic delivery. Milo masters the instrumental with seamless transitions of flow patterns and tempos. Dude is such a unique new talent in hip-hop, but don’t take it from me.

Mostlyjunkfood premieres Warm Brew’s new track entitled “Congregate” featuring the great OXYxMORON. If you’ve never heard of Oxy, check this out. The song is a posse track with a very different vibe to it. Along with the two group’s vocals, Danny Dee creates a smooth beat that you’d wanna go on a road trip to. The producer complements Oxy’s tracks as closely to perfect as possible and track is just another example. This track is like perfect riding music.

Warm Brew – “Congregate” ft. OXYxMORON

Lastly we got a single for Run the Jewels, a group formed by two of the most incredible hip-hop artists of the recent time period, El-P and Killer Mike. There was a snippet out for this before, but now the song is complete with a feature from one half of the legendary Outkast, Big Boi. Track is full of quotables and Killer and Producto destroy the instrumental with back-to-back bars, then dish it to Big Boi who finishes with finesse.

Itz My Single Picks 4/10

I know ya’ll need some nice jams to bump in the whip with the sunroof down now that it’s warming up. Unless you live somewhere cold, but where I’m at the temperature just decided to hop up 30 degrees like it’s cool and normal or whatever.

Killa kill dropped three tracks yesterday. Or rather was on three new tracks: IBM with Joie 13 , Villian for the Injustice soundtrack, and this craaaazy track with El-P. It’s only a snippet actually, but man. The beat is so live, as expected from El-P. “Producer gave me a beat, said it’s da beat of da year, I said El-P didn’t do it, so get da f*ck outta here!” Mike and Producto trade bars so well on this track too. If Run the Jewels follows this level of intensity, then El-P and Killer Mike aren’t leaving their top 3 position no time soon.

Keem is finally back with Shalaam Kenobi and Illoetry. These guys both use a super enjoyable flow on a beat that has such a great melody to it.  This instrumental on some skip-through-the-park stuff. This song is super-catchy, I’ve been listening to it since its release.

And Action Bronson delivers a catchy tune himself with Harry Fraud. The man uses his whimsical lyrics clean cut flow well in this song. Great thing to get your head bobbing. Perhaps Bronson should make a tape with Fraud, he seems to have great chemistry with his instrumentals too.

Freddie Gibbs spits over this jam on Bootleg Kev’s new mixtape called, Empire Business. Gibbs has his typical content in this track, but everything on it just goes in. The beat is already jamming in the first place, then it switches up in the middle, got you doing that “shoulder jump with your arms in front of your face and head shake” dance.