Mixtape Monday: Childish Gambino’s “Royalty”, Terry Urban ft. Nas x Amy Winehouse + Chi Duly x The Weeknd
I was out of town all weekend and still adjusting to life back at work so I haven’t been up on enough new music to share any specific jams. But it’s been too long since my last post, so here’s a couple of mixtapes I’ll be paying closer attention to over the next week that I think you might find appealing as well.
Donald finally released his latest mixtape effort on the 4th (I think) after weeks of leaks. Definitely looking forward to diving into this one to uncover what’s been running through Mr. Glover’s mind. Good thing I have a 45 minute commute to and from work….
Terry Urrrrrrrban has created what I can only assume to be another masterpiece, as I have yet to get into it. But the thought of Nas’ lyricism over some Amy Winehouse melodies has got me pretty excited. I have a feeling this will be one of those tapes that just doesn’t get old. Just press play and let it ride.
Chi Duly gives The Weeknd a little bit of a kick with this next one. It’s been out for a minute but I just came up on it, so in case you haven’t yet…
Rhymefest Likens Chief Keef to a Young-Mind-Killing Machine + My Opinion + The Greats’ Conscious Rap Jams
So I found this short Rhymefest piece via my go-to blog (TheHipHopUpdate) about a week ago and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way/words for me to express my feelings here on The Funk. Hopefully you take a few minutes to read my reaction, and then 30 more to listen to hip hop’s response in song. Not much controversy gets by me without my opinion coming out, but I’ll save it until after you read what Rhymefest had to say about some of today’s most popular rap acts….
Chief Keef Is The Bomb
Chief Keef is a “Bomb”, he represents the senseless savagery that white people see when the news speaks of Chicago violence. A Bomb has no responsibility or blame, it does what it was created to do; DESTROY! Notice, no one is talking about the real culprits, the Bomb maker or the pilot who is deploying this deadly force (Labels, Radio Stations). Its easier to blame the bomb. Bombs are not chosen for their individual talents, they are tools used for collateral damage.
To think of the persona of Chief Keef as a person would be the first mistake, he will more then likely come and go without us knowing much of anything about his personal pains, struggles, great loves and ambitions beyond rap. He is a spokesman for the Prison Industrial Complex. Every corporation is expected to grow at least 4% each quarter, many prisons are privately owned with stock being traded on the open market. If these corporations were to do commercials, jingles and promotions who would they hire? You got it, most of the main stream rappers we salivate over like Rick Ross the former correctional officer turned Drug Lord Boss rapper. Waka Flocka Flame gang bang “GO HARD IN THE PAINT” and Chief Keef the newest lottery pick in the “Get paid to destroy young minds, like we destroyed yours” Sweepstakes.
Many people will say “Chief Keef is a young black man making money who wouldn’t have had any other opportunity, why isn’t this a good thing?”. Which brings us back to the question, who is bank rolling this operation and why? This could only be described as an opportunity for this young man if he was recieving artist development, responsible mentorship and counseling for his obvious trauma. By the way, Major Record labels always put million dollar life insurance policies on artist of this nature so that they get paid one way or the other. My suggestion to the rest of us who would love to see the mushroom cloud from this explosion, BE CAUTIOUS! The affects from this type of Bomb can last for centuries. Lets stop giving our intellectual power resources and admiration to destructive forces while ignoring and starving out the good that is being done,sung and rapped about by artist like Killer Mike, Lupe Fiasco, RhymeFest, Dead Prez, Brother ALI, Maimouna Yusef, Invincible, Jean Grey, Mikkey Halsted etc.
In case you haven’t read anything I’ve ever written, I agree with Rhymefest 100%. Since I’m not black I guess it kinda makes it awkward to talk about the social implications of rap and how it affects those who listen to it. But I still have a point of view, and not only would it be bogus as hell for any black, white, or any other color person to tell me my opinion is worthless in the debate, they’d also be misunderstanding the importance of my particular point of view as it relates to the overall goal.
You see, I enjoy intellectualism in rap (and in basically everything else, but we’re talking about music here). Now, intellectualism could be defined based on many different avenues of thought, but overall, I think it would be safe to say that the most prevalent topic covered by intellectual rappers, or in what most would consider “conscious” rap, is black struggle.
….quick necessary tangent: I love the term “conscious” rap. Did you ever think about the derivation of that term? The word conscious is defined by The First Dictionary That Popped Up On The Google Machine as:
1. aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.
2. fully aware of or sensitive to something
3. having the mental faculties fully active
4. known to oneself; felt
5. aware of what one is doing
I especially like that last one; aware of what one is doing. As if the opposite would be considered unaware, or ignorant, to what one is doing. And that is precisely why I consider the opposite of conscious rap, to be put simply, ignorant rap. So if we make it a point to classify some rappers as conscious, can’t we rightfully get away with classifying those clearly with the opposite agenda as ignorant? I mean, really classifying. Like when a radio DJ introduces an artist it would go a little something like this: “next up we have one thee HOTTEST ignorant rappers of 2012….” fill in the blank for your favorite radio artist. End tangent….
Consequently, I have been exposed to a fair amount of material related to the thoughts and feelings and lives of some really smart black dudes. So even though I’m not black, and even though I’m not from an underprivileged urban neighborhood where most of their inspiration stemmed from, I am able get a small glimpse of what that life is like. Ultimately, if you can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes, if you can’t understand where they’re coming from, or if you can’t empathize with any of their everyday pains, then you’ll forever look at those as different people. But that’s precisely what rap has done for me, as I’m sure many others too. Some say “it’s only entertainment” and it’s not the “artists” problem for the way their music is perceived. But it’s not just music. It’s a bridge. Ice-T was probably accurate in saying the reason Barrack Obama is president is because of rap music.
But as much good as it can do in bridging the gap between what people believe to be, and what really is, it can also maintain and enhance negative attitudes in the minds of listeners. I’m not even talking about the affect to the minds of young black kids. I’m talking about what it does to white people (not ALL white people obviously, but I do know a lot of white people). Not because that’s more important, but because that is the perspective I am able to directly reveal. It just reinforces what some subconsciously, as well as happily, prejudice people already expect/want to hear; something stupid that makes them laugh or something that shows how dangerous and reckless they are in their pursuit of money, fame, or sex. They don’t want to hear about what makes them human (aka the underlying factors and feelings that arouse the majority of those actions which actually translate across all humanity), they want to see that extreme character that is easily distinguishable from them. That’s not totally true; they might not even necessarily want to hear that, but it’s been fed to them from the television and their not-so-racially-inclusive parents for so long that they’ve grown accustom to it and now expect it. Unfortunately, people get paid a lot of money to play that extreme character which only magnifies upon accumulating more money.
But some rappers won’t sell out and let the labels and radio corrupt their music. Some are just so talented and special that they are able to balance making hits and spreading intellectual ideas; all the while avoiding selling their soul to a label that has little concern for the casualties of making money. In my mind, those are the only rappers who deserve the title “Great”.
As promised, here are a few of the greats who’ve helped me close that gap between ignorant and aware. Obviously, not everyone is like me and would automatically be attracted to songs like these. But I gotta believe that if these were in heavier rotation and considered more the norm as opposed to the exception nowadays, American’s views of each other, and themselves, would evolve even more significantly.
This first one could possibly be the most intelligent rap song ever, and it fits almost perfectly with what Rhymefest was alluding to in his op-ed. Nas leaves little mystery to the meaning with his prefacing monologue in this one, but listen to how easily he personifies the weapon. It’s as if he, himself, knows what it’s like to feel like…a bomb?
What’s the word for something with a name that doubles as its literal definition? Or am I just thinking of onomatopoeia where something is named after its literal sound? Anyway, if there is a name for the former, Black Thought is that. The dude was trying to put an end to this nonsense before it even really got rolling. Utmost respect for one of the G.O.A.T.s.
“The principles of true hip hop have been forsaken
It’s all contractual and about money makin’
Pretend-to-be cats don’t seem to know their limitation
exact replication and false representation”
“Peacocks strut because they can’t fly. Nobody wanna be an Eagle. Why? Because they shoot Eagles.” I love that intro….Here, Fest asks his listeners what type of dramatic life events they’ve been through to see how much that might allow them to empathize with his own. He also asks one of the most important questions in this entire discussion; “What do you know about the power of the subconscious mind?”
Another Chicago native who Fest actually gives mention to at the end of his piece for leading the way in providing the type of sincere lyricism the game is lacking in the mainstream today. Here, Lupe takes you along his conscious, and sometimes hypocritical, journey through youthful hip hop adoration, while questioning some of the most adored aspects of the genre along the way.
It has to be something about this city for producing all this consciousness, right? It’s probably one of the greatest city’s in the world, and I feel like it’s overlooked even in it’s own country. There’s something that makes it its own though. It’s not too cut throat like New York and it’s not so vain like Los Angeles. Located in the outward facing upper left of the country’s body, Chicago has got heart (i.e. Derrick Rose).
My opinion and views were pretty well set by the time these next two came on the scene, but they undoubtedly represent the promising future for not only a genre, but a generation of kids and up and coming rappers.
As close as Nas may have come, there will never be another 2pac. He’s done more for his particular genre than I think any other artists/band can say; even the Beatles. He found that coveted balance in the rap game between intelligent thug and street prophet, having as much an impact socially as he did musically. Revolutionary.
Weekend Rap Up: B.o.B.,The ILLZ, YONAS, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Dave Raps, Nas ft Rick Ross, Pusha T ft. Swizz Beatz, French Montana ft. Drake & Wayne & RossMeek Mill & Wale & MMG + More
How unnecessarily long is that title? Lots of featured appearances in this week’s Rap Up, and more than a couple different styles and sounds at work as well. One particular sound that stands out from the rest is The ILLZ. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a BIG fan of the indie rap movement. You know, that introspective shit over simple guitar strings, piano, and other indie rock samples. They really are a perfect match for eachother. The lyrics are meant to be listened to intently, and the musical backdrop is one that not only eliminates unnecessary distractions but also elicits emotion in of itself. That’s why I dig The ILLZ. The dude reeks of realness. B.o.B. is the same, when he’s at his best at least. Unfortunately being at your best and making money are two separate things these days in the music biz, or at least in hip hop. So you might not find many more like this off Strange Clouds, but that doesn’t take away from great pieces like this.
The ILLZ – Closer (Temper Trap sample)
Yonas is another up and comer you should already be mindful of. He’s been doing his thing in the mixtape game for a few years now, and eventually he’ll have built up a distinguishable enough rapport with his fan base that he can put out pretty much any type of record and he’ll sell some. That’s the name of the mixtape game, right? Love the pre-fame mixtape game (see B.o.B.). YONAS really isn’t on that level yet, but he definitely knows how to take someone else’s hot beat, and no matter how played out, make it his own so that you can listen again.
Freddie deserves a considerable amount of respect for his lyrical game. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t have a tag line to repeat 12+ times a song, and he doesn’t spit so utterly simple and slow that you could teach a 2 year old to
be ignorant as hell follow along. Sometimes it does take a beautiful soul sample like this to truly appreciate him.
Dave Raps delivered one of my favorite songs of 2011 in “Alive” off his mixtape H.Y.P.E. So I copped his latest effort AKA Dave Ruffin and spotted this lil gem. Take a listen.
Ohhhhh boy! Life Is Good is almost here. Nas drops his latest studio effort on July 17th and I can’t wait. Nas is my favorite rapper, hands down. There’s no one like him. We’ll talk more when his shit drops and I get the full effect. In this one, Nas calls out all the fakers out there that really aint shit. Ross delivers an excellent verse by the way. I’m serious. I might be too hard on him. I just can’t get over the fact that he literally only raps about 4 things; cocaine, cars, money, and girls he would never fuck without the first 3.
Since I’m on the subject of Rick Ross, I might as well just jump head first into that m-m-m-m-maybach music. I like this mayback music…kinda. The Meek joint is off his mixtape Dreamchasers 2 and dude does justice to one of the greatest instrumentals/songs of all time; The Fugees – Ready or Not. The Power circle joint is off Self Made vol 2. I must say, that’s a helluva lineup MMG is touting.
I know, I know. I’m not supposed to post shit I don’t truly listen to. But even in this next one’s case, there IS a time and a place. It just so happens that that time and place doesn’t fit into my usual listening patterns. This Pusha joint I can fuck with on the regular though. Does Swizz Beats do anything but drive around in his fancy cars anymore?
Just a handful of rap videos I came across today that I would be proud to to share with everyone. Enjoy.
I know, I know. I’ve been slacking again. This time it’s not just because I’m sulking in a sea of laziness, at least I don’t think….Although, now that I do think about it, I have been kinda depressed lately. And after a week without any physical activity, I’ve now worked out two days in a row, which has always lead to improved mood and greater motivation…fuck it, I don’t feel like analyzing my psyche right now….
The reason (I thought) I haven’t been up on the new music tip lately is because I’ve been without my Beats By Dre. Now that I think about it, this may also be a contributing factor to my depressed state. Fuck, I seriously think I have writer’s A.D.H.D. Back to my point; music isn’t even enjoyable without my Beats anymore. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still, It’s pretty sad. I sound like a fucking snob, I know this, but that’s what happens when you’re introduced to something significantly better than the alternatives. Like my smart phone, for instance; I never had one up until about 4 months ago, and I was perfectly content with the device that did what it was supposed to do, which is make phone calls and send text messages. Now, I don’t know what I’d do without my smart phone.
Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t been introduced to some things (this does NOT include my Beats). In terms of society as a whole, there’s so much that we don’t really need at all, until we get it, and then can’t imagine living without. Technology, for example, makes life extremely convenient and simple. But doesn’t it also have significant negative effects in that we’ve become completely complacent to the fact that we now rely on it to do EVERYTHING for us? And in turn, does it not make us terribly lazy as human beings? Like that Siri shit. People are going crazy for shit like this.
My point is…well I don’t really know if I have one. It’s just something to think about, I guess. Because there was a time when people lived simple lives. They didn’t need millions of dollars to buy anything and everything they could get their hands on, and they were perfectly happy. Maybe even more happy than people today. I mean, kids are doing fucking heroin and shit in high school now to get away from it all. That is, if they’re not shooting the place up before taking their own lives. Shit’s fucked up. I won’t even get into the irony of that last example, as drugs are comparable to that feeling of finding something one might not want to live without once they’re introduced. Well, I guess I did just get into it kinda…
One more message to the kids, which goes along with the theme for today: ALWAYS wrap it up.
Weekend Rap Up: B.o.B. ft Big K.R.I.T. & Bun B, The Dean’s List, Lloyd Banks ft ASAP Rocky, Nipsey Hussle, Nas & Amy Winehouse, Freddie Gibbs & Cults + MGK & Skrillex
Let’s see, what have we missed in the past week since my last post? Well, Take Care dropped and I am not only thoroughly impressed with the sophomore effort, but thoroughly entertained as well. I always thought Drake was at his best as an RnB artist, rather than a rapper, and this album accentuates those talents. My favorite tracks are “Crew Love”, “Buried Alive Interlude” (which btw is performed by Kendrick Lamar), “Make Me Proud”, “Doing it Wrong” & “Practice”. Also, Childish Gambino dropped his freshman effort titled Camp. I’m also really liking that one as well. Some of his lines are a little repetitive, but his perspective, as well as sound, is brilliantly refreshing. My favorite tracks are “All the Shine”, “Heartbeat”, “Les” & “Hold You Down”. Hmmm, what else. Oh yea, the “nuclear winter” of the NBA began. Players showing resolve and willingness to actually lose money in order to take a stand against owners and their unrelenting demeaning attitude of superiority along with neglect for fair bargaining has a lot of people upset and unfortunately, out of work as well. As only he can, Bill Simmons lays it out there perfectly for everyone to understand the many different perspectives and motivations at play in this labor situation with his most recent Grantland article, MUST READ CLICK HERE. Whether it turns out to be a devastating move for the players or not, I respect and support it. I’m tired of arguing my position, and frankly anything NBA related, at this point to explain it again. But fuck, I still don’t know what I’m going to do all winter without Derrick and my Bulls though. Anyway, check out a variety of rap jams you may have missed out on too….
Omen dropped his mixtape Afraid of Heights a week or so ago. If you passed it up without a second glance, take a listen to this one and you might think twice. Really liking this jazzy joint.
Omen – Look of Lust (ft. Kendrick Lamar & Shalonda) (right click, “save as” to dl)
This is THAT jam right here. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, that means it’s currently dominating my most played on iTunes/iPod. Cults + Gibbs = good music + good raps. What a surprisingly amazing combo.
Cults – Bad Things (Remix) (ft. Freddie Gibbs) (right click, “save as” to dl)
Another example of good music + good raps courtesy of Nas & Amy. Great collaboration of two of the most talented ever. Unfortunately, there won’t be enough unreleased music like this to keep new Amy Winehouse in our radios forever. RIP Amy.
Amy Winehouse – Like Smoke (ft. Nas) (right click, “save as” to dl)
This is also a definitive jam. Big. K.R.I.T. has been showing up on all of the south’s finest in preparation for Live From The Underground’s 2012 release. This one kinda feels like an International Players Anthem part 2.
B.o.B. – 5 On The Kush (ft Big K.R.I.T. & Bun B) (right click, “save as” to dl)
The Dean’s List – Unbelievers (right click, “save as” to dl)
This one comes off Bank’s most recent mixtape The Cold Corner 2. Pretty solid project if you’re a fan. To a lesser extent than K.R.I.T., ASAP is gonna be a very common featured artist for the foreseeable future.
Lloyd Banks – Make it Stack (ft. ASAP Rocky) (right click, “save as” to dl)
This one’s from Nipsey’s recently released The Marathon Continues. Gotta love what the west coast has recently been producing, talent-wise, with guys like Nipsey and Kendrick Lamar to only name a couple. Great message from Steve at the end of this song.
Nipsey Hussle – Who Detached Us (ft. Steve Jobs) (right click, “save as” to dl)
I think I might slowly be turning into a MGK fan. That’s going too far, but I’m definitely open to the possibility upon hearing more solid material. He sounds just like a less rugged & raw version of Yelawolf. I’m pretty sure that’s a legit comparison and not just because they’re both white. Anyway, this one is off The Madden brother’s (Good Charlotte) Complex sponsored mixtape, Before Vol. 1. Surprisingly, a lot of solid artists/sounds are featured on the project. I’m not particularly a fan of the hardcore Skrillex sound at the end of this song, however.
The Madden Brothers x Machine Gun Kelly x Skrillex – OHMYGOD (OMGMGK) (right click, “save as” to dl)
It’s only right Nas brings it back to the hood he grew up in, and blew up in, 20 years earlier. 20 years in the game, and from the money he still ain’t change. Life is Good hopefully dropping sooner than later. You guys hear Common talking about that possible collabo album with Nas also? Oooooh weeee! 2012 is gonna be a good year.