Well, 2011 is about to come to a close and I just wouldn’t feel right without throwing up some kind of list of my favorite discoveries. I feel like I’ve been avoiding an end of year post like this mainly because the daunting task of narrowing down the multitude of songs I’ve come across into a list of my top 25 makes me anxious as hell. You know like before you write a paper in college, and you have no outline, no main points, and literally no idea where to start? Yea that’s the feeling. Shit, once I sit my ass down, throw on my Beats and just start listening, the next 3 hours or so it takes to write something up really does fly by. Anyway, I’ve made a lot of positive changes this year, most notably assembling, and writing on, the Funk.
As I’ve indicated in the past, I’ve always enjoyed sharing music with people. Putting people onto new shit that makes them happy and the thanks I get for doing so, in return, makes me happy. More important than the recognition though, this blog has allowed me to share some of my opinions, feelings and frustrations about a range of topics. These not limited to just music and sports, but including political and social ethos, as well. And for this, I thank you. Ideally, I would love to open everyone’s mind to another way of thinking, or at least help them look at things from another perspective. But selfishly speaking, I’ve already put myself in a better place just by revealing these thoughts and freeing up some tension in my ever congested mind. If I said it then I meant it.
In essence, the Funk is an extension of myself. I’ve had some highs and lows this year. There’s been stretches of constant positive output, followed by intervals of negative energy. Motivation was oftentimes apparent, but apathy was never able to be fully shook. One minute everything is clear as day, only for the next to be more confusing than ever. What has always been evident throughout though is the music that accompanies these times. Music will (should) always be a medium for honest expression. And that’s what the Funk is all about. Next year is about figuring out, and then cutting out the waste.
Check out my favorite songs from the second half of the 2011 and search for “Best of the Funk” for the others from the first half.
So I was talking to my fellow Funk contributor the other day (and by talking I mean exchanging texts. Technology has not improved my antisocial behavior) and he asked me had I listened to that new Common yet. I told him, “yea, I got through it on my commute the other day. I enjoyed it, wasn’t blown away or anything. I still need to take a closer listen tough.” And thank God I did, too. I mean, being Common, it was never a question whether I would take a closer listen or not, but more like how many and how soon. But for some, I just don’t find that time. It’s tough. I try to multitask by listening on my way to and from work, but I’m usually too tired or annoyed to really pay attention. So naturally, some shit I just miss out on as a result of time management or unwillingness to invest in it.
But back to Common; he’s an artist you literally have to invest all of your attention for the entirety of the album at least once to get a full grasp (I think that’s why Com only puts out albums of 12-13 songs). I don’t know if I’ve made this comparison yet on the Funk, but I look at albums from artists like Common and Nas vs artists like 50 Cent and Young Jeezy, for example, as books vs magazines. Or for the most dramatic of lyrical disparities, it’s more like academic journals vs gossip tabloids. One of them is an easy read. You can flip though it quickly or go to and from whenever you feel and you’ll still get the whole the story. But for the other, you need to set personal time aside to engross yourself in every word of the story. And if you don’t do that, then I can’t consider you anything more than a casual rap fan. And if you are a real rap fan and do invest the time to dissect the lyrics of say, 50 cent….well I don’t know, I guess everyone is different……I promise I won’t criticize until you try to compare him to Common.
But back to the album; front to back, Common kills it. The detail in each verse, the cadence with each line, the message from every song all result in a piece of artwork that should not be referred to as by anything less than that; artwork. I retract my initial judgment. Just like Be and Finding Forever before it, I am once again blown away by Common’s insight and ability in The Dreamer/The Believer. Of course, half the battle will always be the beat, and No I.D. flawlessly delivers the perfect backdrop for the throwback wordsmith.
If you haven’t bought it yet, it’s not even the cost of two shots of liquor. Click the link up top and cop that shit off iTunes. And if you have purchased it but haven’t really listened, it’s not even an hour-long. Make time for it, because the below sample of my favorite tracks just won’t do it justice by themselves.
Common – The Dreamer (ft Maya Angelou)
Common – Lovin’ I lost
Common – Raw (How You Like It)
Common – Cloth
“got a heart that’s about the size of a giant’s
right now I’m flying, gravity defying
from these years of trying, becoming self reliant
find a wrinkle in my theory you can go grab the iron, (i swear)”
You’re going to tell me you relate better to “Watch the Throne”? I don’t know, I just thought lyrics meant something; more specifically, words. Don’t waste them on fillers with the sole purpose of simply occupying the thirty seconds that separate each hook, maybe while adding a clever punchline worth repeating here and there. Unless it’s made for the party, then lyrics, unfortunately, don’t mean shit. Let’s be serious, all that really matters in that case is bass and snare. (side-note, think about the rappers whose
only biggest strengths are their bass, snare, and “club” jams…make sense?) But I know you’re not partying 24/7. If you are, well again, I just don’t relate. And don’t lie, neither do you.
I feel like a lot of already
rich established rappers only know how to rap about the money they spend. Now, that may or may not be their own fault. That literally might be the only thing that makes them happy they are familiar with at this point in their life (wait a couple of years and I bet more than a couple will be trying to get back in the game after going broke…btw, Antoine Walker/basketball = N.O.R.E/rap, right?). But why does that interest people so much more than real life, like the stuff that they can actually relate to? I mean, I like hearing stories from all walks of life, but the shit some of these dudes rap about is more fiction than reality, even for them. It’s the movie Scarface written and performed through verse 500 thousand different (yet completely the same) ways. The money and all that garbage about how it somehow makes me give more-a-fuck about you? That’s just a waste of words. Just like some of the super rich’s use of money…
Quick tangent: conservative republicans criticize government and democrats for “wasteful spending” all the time. It’s one of their go-to moves. First of all, that’s clearly a matter of opinion. I would much rather “waste” our tax money on programs that at least attempt to invest in the American people, as opposed to watch these ridiculously rich CEOs and politicians waste their money on their 8th or 9th car, or 4th or 5th home. Seriously, there is a certain point where money and the objects purchased literally cannot increase one’s happiness anymore. None of that is gonna get you to self-actualization (see Maslow), and if you haven’t been able to make some friends and feel confident with that kind of cash, then you really have some problems. It’s also worth mentioning that at this point these people have already secured the physiological and safety needs for multiple generations to come, while their slow growth investments pretty much allow them to increase their wealth indefinitely. So when you look at it like that, what’s more wasteful to you, investing in millions of people whose basic needs are in jeopardy or buying multiple yachts in desperate hope to fill up some emptiness?
….Anyway, outside of wasting the gift of speech (and money), I guess I just don’t understand the time and energy we spend envying the rich and famous. If they were so happy they wouldn’t spend so much time searching for it in tags, bottles and strippers. Believe that. Personally, I prefer the not-yet-made-it type dudes and their story of hopeful ascension from the passion that still drives their craft.
Check out Brenton Duvall’s tantalizing remix of OnCue’s “Can’t Wait”. Told you dude has good taste.
Is it too late to throw sum’ words/beats on the funk? Illini just took a necessary shot to the gut from Mizzou. I mean, it was their first time being tested, and they really showed up. This was a hyped Mizzou squad, too. So the fact that they had a shot to win in the last minute and 30 seconds means a lot. They could really gain confidence from this. Most of us were expecting the worst tonight. Except for vegas, those dudes’ algorithms are nice….
…..You know who else is nice? Wale. Some people say he sold out as soon as he inked up with Rick Ross and MMG. His latest album, for example, was much more commercial than his first. But if you listen to the lyrics, you’d know Wale keeps it real while thoroughly distinguishing himself from Ross in the lyrical game. But then again, if you don’t listen to lyrics, theses last two sentences are probably going to confuse you. Seriously, Wale needs to go “Da Drought 3” style over the commercial landscape and take this shit over.
Wifey Wednesday: Dev ft Fabolous (DJ Kue Remix), Far East Movement (ft. Kid Cudi & Chip Tha Ripper) + 2AM Club
My to-to list is not moving in the right direction. That is, it is getting longer….and longer. Fuck it, I still wanted to get a post up tonight since I missed out last night. I might be taking more nights off now that the NBA season (aka my winter savior) has begun. D. Rose killin’ em 4-5 nights a week for the next 17+ weeks, are you kidding me? Gotta love the kid. Anyone see/hear the news of his new 94 million dollar contract extension? In a world, both in sports and business in general, where it seems like the cocky, selfish, deceitful asshole is always the one to finish first, Derrick proves otherwise. Not only is he the perfect role model in sports, he’s just flat-out a good person, with good morals and intentions. AND he’s young, rich and famous. As Stacey would say, “This is why this kid is special”……..This is also why my to-do list never shrinks! I keep getting sidetracked. I just wanted to fly through this post with a couple of links and maybe a short description, and then I get all into my love affair for Derrick Rose. And don’t worry, that’s not gay at all. It’s a total respectful, appreciative, man love that can only exist in sports. Moving on…
I’m a big fan of that DJ Kue “Moment for Life” remix I posted in last weeks WW post, and this one is no different. I wasn’t into the original Dev joint at all, but anytime Fab adds a verse, it’s a given to take listen. I’m real glad Kue pumped up the bass and tempo on this one.
Different vibe from Far East Movement, at least from anything I’ve heard from them. Although, I think I’ve literally only heard that G6 joint. Man, that shit was played out…..I’d still juke the hell out of it though. Cool, smooth vibe to this one, as expected from most everything with a Cudi appearance. I don’t know about that new alternative(?) shit he’s got coming up next though….Big shout to Chip Tha Ripper; definitely a good look here.
I’m still trying to catch up on this 2AM Club shit. Haven’t figured out if I’m a fan. This one stood out, well, because they’re covering New Edition. And this is what happens when you grow up with two older sisters born in the early 80s. I can dig their interpretation, but not even close to the classic original. Seriously, who can fuck with New Edition? I mean, despite the demoralizing dance routine and all.
There’s a line in that Jon Connor Song (“Someone Like Me”) I just posted yesterday that goes..
“Oh cold world, what a crazy dilemma, and I got caught in the middle.
Yea, making a difference or making a living, but shit I gotta make a decision”
I bet Talib can relate to that one. Someone with as unique a voice AND flow could have made several more millions in the mainstream, but it appears as thought he’d rather inflate your brain than his own pockets (or in Kanye’s case, his own ego). On a much smaller scale, I can relate myself. Being in my mid 20’s, I struggle mightily with that same decision. Do I focus on making a difference, or making a living? Can it be the same thing? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that one out. But for now, I figure I can do something positive like share some Talib Kweli and repeat the consciously aware ideas we both share. I’ll save Jeezy and the like for the “professional” blogs……LISTEN to Talib’s first leak from the upcoming project, “Prisoner of Conscious.”
Talib Kweli – Distractions (right-click, “save as” to dl)
Weekend Rap Up: B.o.B. [EPIC: Every Play Is Crucial], Los [The Crown Aint Safe], OnCue [Can’t Wait], Jon Connor [Season 2] + I.O.U. [Love,Great.Humans…]
It’s been a pretty lazy Sunday, but at least I was able to get through a few mixtapes I’ve had stashed away. Check out my favorite tracks and download the full mixtape if you’re diggin it.
I always appreciated Bob’s indie/alternative side. Unfortunately, it seems like that dimension doesn’t make it out as much lately. You do hear it hear on this one, though.
B.o.B. – Fucked Up (ft. Playboy Tre) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
We’ve had OnCue featured on the Funk in the past, and he’s really becoming one of my personal favorites. Not the corny/”trying to be funny” white rapper type at all, if that’s what you’re thinking.
OnCue – Can’t Wait (right-click, “save as” to dl)
OnCue – Kinda Late (ft. Mike Posner) (prod. 88 Keys) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
This mixtape was my first real listen to Los, and I’m extremely happy I checked him out. You need to do the same. Dude’s a spitter.
Los – Shine (ft. Phil Ade) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
Los – Outro (ft. Sean Hayz) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
Since we’re on the subject of spitters, let’s get right into Jon Connor. Best thing out of Detroit since the 2004 Pistons. Speaking of, welcome to Chicago, Rip Hamilton. Can’t. Fucking. Wait.
Jon Connor – Someone Like Me (right-click, “save as” to dl)
Jon Connor – No Thrillz (right-click, “save as” to dl)
These guys kinda remind me of The Dean’s List, musically. Lyrically, they’re not really on Sonny’s level, imo.
I.O.U. – That Bob Marley Song (right-click, “save as” to dl)