Friday, 29 June 2007

Here's A Little Story That Must Be Told...

Stories have been an essential part of hip hop. I mean even the first commercial hip hop song, 'Rapper's Delight' was 14 minutes and 36 seconds of story telling. It seems that everybody loves a good story and they have, for me, provided some of the best hip hop songs in existence.

I've always been a sucker for stories, as I always thought they required more skill in telling than just a normal song, and they also meant more. Delivery is all important, a great story would be lost if the listener loses interest before the song has finished. And finally, a twist at the end of it finishes everything off with a bang.
I've lost count the number of times when I couldn't pick out a more abstract story, and had to get myself on to OHHLA, reading the lyrics as I heard the track. Most of the time it's because the unknown references used, and plus I'm kinda slow when it comes to picking up these things. But it's these tracks that I find have the most creativity, and I always get excited when I pick up a not-so-easy-to-get metaphor used. Hopefully, in the near future, my ear will be trained well enough not to have to use a lyrics site.
Here is a small selection of some of my favourite hip hop stories...
Nas - 'I Gave You Power'
Nas tells a song in the point of view of a gun, and the 'thoughts' felt by it.
Slick Rick - 'Children's Story'
The Ruler tells a bedtime story (a bit of a fucked up bedtime story, but hey...) of the misadventures of a youth.
Immortal Technique - 'Dance With The Devil'
I could have easily gone with 'You Never Know', but this song is just fucked up! I'll always remember the first time I heard this song, and thinking, 'Oh my God!'. My friend and I always talked about how people would react if a DJ threw this song on at a club.
J-Live - 'Wax Paper'
I have already mentioned this as my favourite story song, J tells a story of two brothers who have a lot more in common than first meets the eye.
Louis Logic - 'Ugly Truth'
The last 5 seconds make this song...
2pac - 'Brenda's Got A Baby'
Pac tells the story, from beginning to end, of a girl who becomes pregnant at the young age of 12.
Common - 'I Used To Love H.E.R.'
No story list would be complete without this song.
Now on to today's album post...
Keeping on the theme of stories, Prince Paul creates an entire album that tells the life story of Tariq, as he tries to make it in the world. I was torn between posting this album, and 'A Long Hot Summer' or even 'Disposable Arts', both by Masta Ace. I chose this album because it is pure story telling at it's finest, whereas Ace's two albums rely on the skits to tell the majority of the story.
I'm stuck whether to tell you more about this album, or not. I don't want to spoil the storyline for you, so the less I say the better. All I'll say is that the 'cast' consists of Breezly Brewin, Big Sha, Everlast, Kool Keith, Big Daddy Kane, and a host of others. The story on the album is so good, that it seems as if it were written by a Hollywood screen-writer.
A word of warning; make sure you put aside a good 1 and a half hours before you sit down to listen to this album. That means no interruptions. Turn off the TV, switch off your mobile, and don't answer the doorbell (even if it IS your momma). Treat the listening of this album as if you you were watching a movie, like when you sat down to watch 'The Godfather' for the first time. And only then will you appreciate how good this album is.
Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Does That Make Sense Pt.II

Time to continue, and humiliate yet more artists out there. Once again, I must mention that this list is taken directly from Ego Trip's Book Of Rap Lists. This book is like a bible to me, and should be a part of every hip hop fan's collection. When are they gonna release another one???

8. 'Live!!!' - Onyx
Notable for Sticky's redundant observation, "We shoot niggas every day daily." We heard you the first time, when you said it first.

9. 'Make 'Em Pay' - Gang Starr featuring Krumb Snatcha
Boston's rhyme slasher, Krumb Snatcha, had his corporate pizza chains confused with the lyric, "Like Pizza Hut I gotta stay Noided." As pie-lovers worldwide already know, The Noid represents Domino's, rap dude.

10. 'Makin' A Name For Ourselves' - Common featuring Canibus
This C&C music factory couldn't keep its books straight when delivering the hook, "I'm your worst nightmare squared/ That's times two for those who aren't mathematically aware." Count them out.

11. '1, 2 Pass It' - D&D All-Stars
KRS-One comes with another messy reference sure to be banned from TV: "The aroma reaches up to my nostril, I get hostile/ Your lyrics are stiff like David Koppel." Maybe he meant Ted Letterman.

12. 'Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down' - Brand Nubian
"Black prodigy since the age of 20," boasts Sadat X, evidently unaware that at the double decade mark, he was a little old for the gifted child title.

13. 'The Set Up' - Nas featuring Havoc
"QB since 1933," Nas Escobar announces at the outset of this song in dedication to his beloved home, the Queensbridge Housing Projects. Not only did Nas drop science, he also dropped History (class). Queensbridge was, in fact, opened to the public in 1939.

14. 'What's Next' - Warren G featuring Mr. Malik
The G-Child not only rhymes like one - frequently sprinkling his songs with nursery limericks - but he also apparently spells like one. On his first LP, Warren uttered the lyric, "What's next?/ What's N-X-E-T?" Warren, geez!

That concludes the dumbass lyrics section. My advice to any upcoming artist would be to get someone (preferably smarter than yourself) to go over your lyrics before you lay the track down. Props goes out to SK93 over @ illRoots for mentioning Ja's famous M-U-R-E-D-R line (which appeared on 'Loose Change'), which went like this...

"It's the M-U-R-E-D-R Inc. I'm the rapper who fags, and totes tampax in bags..."
Also, Redman (on '5 Boroughs') blessed us with the line...
"My paragraph alone is worth five mics (uh-huh)
A twelve song LP, that's thirty-six mics (uh-huh)"

Redman should stay off the weed when spittin' his vocals. Like Mos Def said, it's just basic mathematics...Last, but by now means least, my main man Lil' Wayne (on 'Fuck Wit' Me Now), who still hasn't come to terms with the purpose of an umbrella...

"Wet a nigga like umbrellas"

Ah well, if he can make money, there's hope for us all...If you have any more examples of MC's at their worst, leave a comment!

Talking about lyrics, let's get down to today's album post.

GZA - Liquid Swords

Considered by many to be 'the thinking man's hip hop album', 'Liquid Swords' is a lyrical masterpiece. The purists love the GZA, and they love this album, there are no mistakes here people.
The cover was designed by a DC comic artist, and perfectly personifies the GZA himself; ruthless, but thoughtful. Often seen as the most underrated of the Wu, GZA's second solo release, 'Liquid Swords', was released in 1995 and is seen along with 'Only Built...' and 'Supreme Clientele' as the best individual projects of the Clan.
Production is provided by the RZA (who else?), and heavily features cuts from the movie 'Shogun Assasin' (can anybody get me a link to this???). The Asian cinema theme continues throughout the album, with the intro being, in my opinion, one of the best out there. The kid's voice is straight creepy.
GZA invites his old Wu cronies to appear on the album, which each of them appearing on at least one song. The most creative song on the album is probably 'Labels', where GZA manages to go through a countless number of record labels with ease, delivered in just a single continuous verse.
As for my favourite, it's probably 'B.I.B.L.E.', the one track that isn't GZA's. It's no disrespect to him, but Killah Priest that made a track that is so insightful, and had so much that I could personally relate to, that it will be always be my favourite cut on this classic.
GZA is indeed The Genius.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Does That Make Sense?

Lyrics are central to hip hop music (are you reading this D4L?), and is, in my opinion, slightly more important than the beats. I mean I can listen to some Saul Williams, but put on some Ying Yang Twins, and I'ma get the hell outta there. I know that both of the artists I've mentioned are from the south (pure coincidence) but MC's from all over have been making mistakes in their lyrics.

Here's a nice little list I found in Ego Trip's Book Of Rap Lists (cop it over at Amazon, you can't download books, homie). It just shows that everybody makes mistakes. Be prepared to ridicule your favourite artist...
1. 'Bad To The Bone' - Kool G Rap & DJ Polo
Blinded by the colour green, a pimped-out G Rap kicked this ethnically confused lyric: "Sleeping in sheets that's made of satin with one of my money-makin' honeys/ She's mixed, Spanish and Latin." Hmmm...a good combination.
2. 'Blackman In Effect' - Boogie Down Productions
The Teacher sets off his fourth LP with the 18-wheeler-D.W.I.-grammatical pile-up, "Wake up! Take the pillow from your head and put a book in it!" See how he sounds? A little unrational...oops!
3. 'Full Cooperation' - Def Squad
All brothas do look alike. So when Keith Murray warned, "I'm gonna get you sucker like Damon Wayans", we know he really meant D's older sibling, fallen late-night chat host, Keenan Ivory. Or was it Shawn, Marlon or Tito? Who cares.
4. 'Funky For You' - Nice & Smooth
The honour for the most infamous rap faux pas of all time goes to Boogie Down revisionist jazz historian Greg Nice for his opening line - "Ay yo, Dizzy Gillespie plays the sax" - on Nice & Smooth's party starter. Although the late, great trumpet playing bebop pioneer John Birks Gillespie (a.k.a. "Da Original Mr. Cheeks") was, in fact, capable of playing the saxophone in his spare time, Greg didn't find out until later when he was twisting L's with New Kids On The Block.
5. 'Just Rhymin' With Biz' - Big Daddy Kane featuring Biz Markie
If Biz "watched Star Wars just to see Yoda," he must have sat in the theatre for three years. It wasn't until the film's sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, that the old sage alien fuck, Yoda, finally made his celluloid debut. Peace, Frank Oz.
6. King Of Rock' - Run-D.M.C.
The Kings from Queens may have bridged rap and rock, but they unintentionally bought a morbid angle to pop music mathematics when they rhymed, "There's three of us, but we're not the Beatles", in 1985 - a little more than four years after John Lennon's death. Later, Run confessed that he believed the Fab Four were a trio all along.
7. 'Knick Knack Patty Wack' - EMPD featuring K-Solo
Central Islip, Long Island spelling bee champ, K-Solo, stumbled in his first opportunity to shine on the mic by bungling the line, "F-L-Y like a B-R-I-D in the S-K-Y." But he's still B-A-D in our book - the one in your H-A-N-D-S.
That's all for now folks, I'll try and conclude this post later on in the week. Now on to today's album post...
Camp Lo - Uptown Saturday Night
I think there are still scientists in Cambridge & Harvard trying to figure what the hell Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba were saying in this album. I'm sure there's a vault with a fuckload of cash waiting for anyone to solve this album. This is the one time where I'll compromise the lyrics, and can listen to an album not knowing what the hell is being said.
'Uptown Saturday Night' was released in 1997, and hit a high of #5 on on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. The lead single, 'Luchini AKA This Is It', was memorable for the horns used in the beat, courtesy of Ski. He was the man behind the music for Jay-Z's 'Reasonable Doubt', and it's said that Jay actually wanted the 'Luchini' beat for his own album.
Throughout the album, you get a feeling that Geechi and Sonny are the kind of guys that would finish each other's sentences. Their voices are easily distinguishable, but also perfectly matched. My favourite track on the album is not 'Luchini' or 'Coolie High', but rather 'Sparkle'. An ode to drinking, the light piano in the background kills this track. The duo's flow is at their best, and I defy you not to have the hook stuck in your head after a couple of listens.
With appearances made by Trugoy of De La Soul and Butterfly of Digable Planets, this album sounds like it was made in 1970, let alone the late '90's. Which leaves me to ask one question. Why don't they make beats like this anymore?

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Gone A.W.O.L.

My apologies to my many fans out there (all 5 of y'all) for not posting on Friday or Saturday, but time's getting the better of me recently. Not to worry, this blog will continue...

I spent Friday evening watching a television recording. It was the first time I've ever been to see one, and I've gotta say, it was well worth. The tickets were free (that always works for me), and the show was called 'News Knight', a comedy along the lines of 'Have I Got News' minus the points. It's a topical news program, with Sir Trevor MacDonald hosting, and the guests were Marcus Bridgestock, Reginald D. Hunter & Clive Anderson.
I went with 4 of my cousins, and we all thought it was a great show. Was struck us though, was that we all noticed that we found Reginald Hunter's jokes more funny than the rest of the audience. I mean, the audience was mainly middle aged white folk, while me and my cousins are a bunch of 17-25 Indians.
We grew up watching Eddie Murphy and old clips of Richard Pryor, and to this day, we love Dave Chappelle's work (I must have seen every single televised stand-up of his twice over) to this day. I hadn't previously heard of Hunter (maybe some of the Americans can school me on him), but he instantly struck us as being the funniest of the three, especially with his Mr. T impressions (always funny not matter how many times I hear it).
I noticed that the people sitting directly ahead of us found hardly any of this material funny, while my cousins and I couldn't stop laughing. As we are second generation Indians in the UK, growing up we didn't have many Indian role-models, so we found the next best thing, and looked elsewhere. Most generally adopted Black culture as our own (remember Apache Indian?), and to this day, the average brown kid listens to either hip hop or R&B or both. I started listening to my brother's old tapes that he used to record offa the radio and instantly loved what I heard. And this was when my love for hip hop music became apparent.
Hip hop music has changed a lot over the years, but my favourite hip hop albums are those where you know the artists are having fun doing what they're doing.

Today's album post...
Time Machine - Slow Your Roll
Time Machine is a hip hop trio formed in Washington, D.C. They are DJ Mekalek (from Rhode Island) and MC's Comel (New York) and Jaysonic (Miami). 'Slow Your Roll' is the debut LP, and was originally released in 2004.
I saw this album (like countless others) receiving full marks on Rap Reviews, and thought it was worth listening to. You might well know that the illustrious score is not rare on Rap Reviews, but at least they have the balls to give it now and then. After a bit of searching, I found the album, and gave it a spin.
The album opens with a clock ticking, quite appropriate, before Jaysonic starts to spit. The beat seems psychadelic, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Jaysonic sounds like your favourite MC, with a easy flow, while Comel sounds like a young B-Real. Together, it's makes great listening.
The album clocks in at around 70 minutes, and considering it has 18 tracks, the average song is pretty short. I must admit that recently I've preferred shorter albums simply because it takes less time to listen to, and is more likely to have fewer fillers. Lazy I know, but circumstances dictate. This album, however is the exception to the rule. Songs like 'Personal Ads' and 'Night Lights' feature some great production, and shortly after hearing the album, I managed to get a copy of Mekalek's solo joint, entitled 'Live & Learn'. Listen to this album on a long journey in the car, and watch the time fly by (no pun intended).
All this without mentioning my favourite cut on the album. 'The Way Things Are' is for me, the perfect hip hop track. Good subject, great lyrics, and the best use of a sample I've heard for an age. Just check my to see how many times this track gets played.
Enjoy, and peace out!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

So What Kind Of Music Are You Into?

This, believe it or not, is the most difficult question to answer when someone asks me.

For example, a conversation can go like this...
A: So what type of music are into?
B: Hip hop.
A: Really? I like Eminem as well!
B: Hmm...
Or like this...
A: So what type of music are into?
B: Underground hip hop, people like Masta Ace, Little Brother, Binary Star, that kinda thing.
A: Oh really? I like Eminem, do you listen to his stuff?
B: No, he's a mainstream rapper who made his money and sold out. I hate people like that, treating hip hop like shit, with all his wigger fans.
A: Hmm...

I'm sure that every fan of hip hop will have had either Conversation A or B at least once in their life. At the end of the day, one of the people in the convo is gonna lose interest, and your relationship is going to end there and then. So the question is, how do you answer a simple question like without giving in or sounding like Chuck D?

I'd love to say I've got all the answers, but I haven't. At the moment, I'm going with Conversation A, but now everyone may think I'm a hardcore Em fan (don't get me wrong, the guy has probably done more for hip hop in the last 10 years than anyone else I can think of, but there are better MC's out there!). I mean I could go on for days and days talking about what I like and why I like it, but obviously the question is pretty vague and I suppose the person asking it doesn't wanna really know the history of hip hop a la 'Can't Stop, Won't Stop' (by Jeff Chang).

I yet to meet a person in the 'real' world that has heard of any of my favourite MC's, but that's a whole notha post, and I'll leave that for another day.

So post comments on how you handle the situation, and I may copy your style!

On to today's album post...

Talib Kweli - Quality

I'm sure 90% of you already have this in your collection, but nevertheless, I've decided to post this album because it has some added significance for me. This was the first album I downloaded, where I hadn't actually heard of the artist. As a result, it opened my eyes to a whole new world of music.
The first Kweli song I had heard was the 'Get By (Remix)', featuring Jay-Z, Mos Def, Kanye and Busta. I remember seeing the song, and recognising every name except for Kweli's (I didn't even know how to pronounce the name). Anyway, I thought Kweli's verse was pretty dope and went about trying to find his album. I was not disappointed.
To date, I still think this Kweli's album (although I haven't yet given 'Eardrum' a full listen as of yet). My favourite cut has to be 'The Proud', a fiercely political track, which features one of my favourite lines...
'The President is Bush, the Vice President's a Dick
So a whole lot of fuckin is what we gon' get'
Production is taken care of by Kanye, Dilla and Ayatollah among others. Although Talib has become a lot more mainstream as of late (everybody's gotta eat), this album was made when he was raw and hungry. After this, I checked out 'Black Star' (a masterpiece) and 'Reflection Eternal/Train Of Thought' (Hi-Tek at his best).
But this still remains as the album that introduced me to underground.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

What Is Hip Hop To You?

So, what IS hip hop for you?
Is it about intricate lyrics?

Is it about bangin' beats?

Is it way you speak?

Or the way you dress?

For me, hip hop is two things:

Having fun + being yourself.

The beauty of hip hop is that anyone can listen to it, and appreciate it (and I'm not talkin' bout this kinda 'hip hop'). You don't have be wearing your baggy denims, your slammin' kicks and your white tee. You ain't gotta bling out, carry a backpack or talk like you're a veteran of It's a party where everybody's invited (man, how gay does that sound?).

This diverse nature of hip hop is the reason that I love it. You can be serious and listen to some Public Enemy one day, smoke your shit listening to Devin The Dude the next, and relaxing while listening to some Tribe to top it off. You can be wearing jeans, tracks or khaks, it's all good.

It's great when you hear an album where the artists aren't trying to prove anything to anyone. They don't have to act like they're defending their credibility or reputation, they can even take the piss out of themselves and still love hip hop at the same time. Which brings me to my album post for today...

Ugly Duckling - Bang For The Buck

Ugly Duckling consists of MC's Andy Cooper & Dizzy Dustin, and the DJ Young Einstein, all hailing from Long Beach, California.

To make my first point clear, how 'hip hop' do these guys actually look?
Not very is probably the answer most of you will think. But one listen to their fifth studio album, 'Bang For The Buck', and most of you will conclude that these guys have more skill on the mic and turntables than 90% of the acts out there.
The self-deprecating style of Ugly Duckling is actually quite refereshing to hear, especially if you've just listened to the album after recently watching most of the videos on MTV. To hear lyrics like this on 'Breakdown'...
"When I try to fit with a clique or pick up a chick, I felt like I'd been hit with a brick,
Cos all I ever get was chills from a cold shoulder, thinkin' this'll all would all change when I get older"
However, 'Smack' shows the best example of the group just straight taking the piss outta those gangster rappers. This attack on the mainstream is everything that UD are all about. From just one listen to 'Bang For The Buck', you can tell that UD know what they're doing, and they're doing it well. The beats on the album are remeniscent of the old school, with heavy use of the turntables provided by the skilful Young Einstein. He even has an ode dedicated to him on the album, where his DJ skills are at their best.
This album would never work if UD didn't have the skills to match up on their criticism of the mainstream. Fortunately for us, they have that in abundance, and show it on this album. 'Bang For The Buck' has one message for it's listeners...
Have fun, and don't take yourself too seriously.
I hope you have as much fun as I do when I first listened to this album.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

To Download Or Not To Download

For real music lovers, the internet offers the perfect scenario: to try before you buy. Gone are those days when you got amped and went out to buy a CD for the sake of it, only later finding that it really did belong in the bargain bin.

Although it's true that not all the people who like the albums actually follow it up and buy the album, a lot people do stick by the try-before-you-buy system. The situation helps not the consumer, but also adds the pressure on the artist to produce some high quality music, as they know that it will be heard way before it's actual release date. While the big mainstream artists may not be too affected by this (as their fans will probably buy their shit no matter how bad it is, see Busta's 'The Big Bang'), it has a huge impact on the underground. Many listeners (such as myself) base a lot my opinion on albums upon the first listen, and if it doesn't sound right once, it'll never be given a second chance.
Combining this with the fact that there is so much material out there available on the net, the average music lover has a big dilemma when looking over albums in sites such as Bossplayer and Hip Hop Bootleggers; to download or not to download. Is it really worth downloading that album from a artist you haven't even heard of, and even if you do, are you really gonna have the time to listen to it?
As my listening time is now very precious, I base my decision on whether to download an album (if is hasn't already been recommended by a trusted source) by a previously unheard-of artist on two factors:
1. Features some artists whose music I have heard before, and enjoyed listening to;
2. Some nice artwork.
Although they may not be the most robust methods to decide, it's worked for me so far, and I'll keep on using it until something better comes up. So a message for all the newcomers, invest wisely on some decent artwork, and you will be rewarded. Now onto an album that ticks all the boxes...
Deep Rooted - The Second Coming

Deep Rooted is a quartet consisting of Mr. Brady, Brea, Johaz and DJ Artistic. This is their sophomore effort (if anybody have their first, hook me up!), and is one of those sit back and relax type albums. Brea provides most of the hooks, with her R&B style, and Mr. Brady and Johaz handle the mic. The album flows perfectly, and is the perfect soundtrack for a lazy Sunday.
Jazzy hip hop at it's best is how I would describe this album. Production is handed by the aforementioned DJ Artistic and Mr. Brady, with contributions from Jake One and Oh No. Guests include One.Be.Lo (who seems to be able to do no wrong wherever he appears), Alow Blacc, Abstract Rude & Planet Asia among others.
My choice cut on the album has got to be 'Memories', a definate head-nodder, with a simple and addictive hook. I'm definately looking forward to some more material from these guys, fingers crossed.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Times Are Changin'

As the world gets faster and faster, will we ever have time to just stop and appreciate the music?
New advances in technology have resulted in higher-than-ever internet speeds, which has resulted in millions of people over the world downloading their favourite album at the click of a button. Music collections breaking the 50 GB barrier have become the norm, and things don't look like they're gonna change any time soon.
One question I've always wondered was when do people actually get a chance to listen to that latest album that they have downloaded? I've noticed that as I've gotten older, and my music collection has grown, that backlog of albums that I've been meaning to listen just grows and grows. Although it's true that I have been collecting a more diverse range of music than before, I believe that the list is growing simply because I just don't have enough time as I once did to just sit down and listen to an album all the way through.
When I was in high school, it was easy to stick an CD into my player, and just spend the rest of my day listening to one album. By the end of the day, I would probably know every word of it. Nowadays, my commute to uni consists of a hour long train ride, and while I still don't have enough cash to throw at a pair of noise-cancelling 'phones, it's way too noisy to listen to any lyrics being spit. As a result, instrumentals have taken over.
So this post is dedicated to the last album which I played through from beginning to end...
Little Brother - The Listening
On the track, 'The Listening', Phonte quotes...
"Bought 'Long Live The Kane' sat down and learned every word of it"
Little did I know that while listening to this album, this is what I was subconsciously doing.
I was in my last year in high school when I first read about this album on Rap Reviews. I was searching through albums I hadn't heard of, when I came across Flash's review of the album. I have to admit, I'm one of those people that scrolls down to see the score before I spend my time reading the full review (hey, time is money, and I don't wanna spend my time reading the review for an album that ends up getting 2 outta 10!). It got a full 10, and that got my attention. I know Rap Reviews hands out full marks as often as The Game gets in beef, but it has to be at least worth a listen, I thought at the time.
The stand out track on this album for me is definately 'The Getup'. 9th kills the beat, and Te and Pooh's lyrics are great. Te and Pooh's exchanges on the mic reminded me of the days of Tip and Phife, so effortless, so smooth. The greatest testament I can owe to this album is that it opened my eyes to a whole new range of hip hop. Before, I was weary of listening to any old album that came my way, and relied on other people's opinions and reviews. After this album, I started to just get whatever I could, and give everything at least one listen to decide what I myself thought of it.
What I didn't know at the time was that the disposable time I had was getting less and less, and my backlog would be getting bigger and bigger. LB followed this album up with the critcally acclaimed 'The Minstrel Show', and now the trio are now pretty much regular names on the hip hop scene, although 9th recently left the group because of creative differences. I just hope the new LP will be half as good as 'The Listening' without him.
'The Listening', for me, will always be remembered as THAT album for THAT summer, when time stood still and the music played.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Respect Your Elders Continued...

The album that I've chosen to post today relates to the old school, or 'the elders'.

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message

About 5 years ago, when I got straight fed up of listening to the current hip hop albums of the day, I decided to take it back and start listening to pre-90's rap. There was no shortage of albums to listen to, such as Raising Hell, It Takes A Nation..., 3 Feet High & Rising, etc, but the first album that I picked was The Message by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. Like many people, I was only familiar with the track, 'The Message', as I had heard it on one of my older brother's old school compilation tapes ('The Greatest Songs...Ever' or something like that).
I would love to say that the song's lyrics about racial profiling and the such was what caught my attention, but I was only 14 and lyrics didn't mean shit to me. The thing that struck me about the tune was the strong bassline and electronica backings. It was nothing like the kind of hip hop music out at the time. I took a risk and got a copy of the entire album, and for about the next couple months I bumped this song continuously, at least twice a day.
This album was realeased in 1982, and looking back now, is not considered to be as revolutionary as those I had mentioned above. Obviously, 'The Message' was the lead single, and is easily the best song on the album. The rest of the consists of some R&B ('You Are'), extensive use of electronica ('Scorpio'), and even some homo-erotic content ('Dreamin'' is about Stevie homo?).
There are other good tracks on the album, such as 'It's A Shame', where the 5 rap about greed among blacks themselves. However 'The Message' is and will always be the stand out cut, on this 'forgotten' album.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Respect Your Elders

Often when me and my bro are feeling philosophical, we have some random debates about everything from the existence of God to the ideal football formation. One of the most hotly debated things we talk about is the idea of respect.

My brother (who is older than me) believes in the phrase, 'Respect your elders'. He thinks that we should be courteous and polite to whoever is older than us, no matter what. I've often asked him hypothetical questions like, 'if Robert Mugabe approached you at a party, would you still treat him with respect?' No matter what person I substitute in for Mugabe (Hitler, Mussolini, a member of the KKK), he would still answer in the same manner...

'I would politely decline to talk to them, and walk away'.
As for me, I wouldn't be so considerate, and probably express myself more freely with a...
'Fuck off'.
I like to think that respect is earned, and I therefore respect everyone that deserves it, both the old and young. I've met many older people who have been total arseholes in that they think that because of a factor that they didn't even control (i.e. their time of birth) allows them to treat younger people like shit.
Case in point: I was getting off the bus on my way to work last week. As I walking down from the top deck, there was a bit of a queue on the stairs so I waited for the bus to stop. When the bus came to a stop, I was thrown forward slightly, and accidentally hit an old man (musta been about 70/80 years old) in front of me. I said sorry almost immediately, but about ten seconds later, the guy elbows me, and says, 'Don't push me, you Indian cunt'. At this point, I was like, 'What the fuck? Did that guy just call me a cunt?' Anyways, I just smiled, and thought how dumb/ignorant that old man must be.
I mean, how am I supposed to respect this old man? I have a theory that my brother bases his reasoning on the fact that his is older than me, and so automatically deserves respect. I, on the other hand, am younger and would rather bsae my respect for him on his actions, rather than just his age.
He always calls me the 'new generation', which implies I have no moral values, etc. I think that he's very much 'old-fashioned'. No matter how many times we discuss this topic, I have a feeling that we will never quite totally agree on the situation.
The album post accompanying this post will appear here soon...

Thursday, 14 June 2007

My 1st Post

Well, what can I say?
I've finally decided to start my own blog. After much deliberating, I've decided maybe there is something new I can add to the World Wide Web. It will be mainly based on the whatever comes to mind at the time, and I'll be posting some random albums for all the music heads.
At this point in time, I'm a university student in London, and loving every minute of it. I figure that as long as I'm in education, I'm not in work, and that works for me! The two loves of my life at the moment are football (Liverpool for the league next season), and hip hop. Over the last couple of years, I've been collecting a great deal of music, both mainstream and underground, old school and new school. There's been a lotta talk about hip hop being dead, but I gotta say that as long as people are doing what they love to do, hip hop is very much alive, and will continue to be so.
I'm still questioning what my blog can bring you that so many other hip hop blogs (including the ones on the right side) can't bring you. I'm still not sure what that factor is, but hopefully I'll find out soon...
So, before I up my favourite album of all time, I'd like to give a word of advice. I'm gonna be posting some shit you may or may not heard of. If you haven't heard of the artist, take a risk and download it anyway. You'll be surprised at how much good unheard shit there is out there if you'd only give it a chance. And please remember, if you download it, and you love it, spare some cash and buy the damn CD. If you don't, many of these artists won't be making music for much longer.
So, I'd like to start with a classic...

I've listened to this album a countless number of times now, and although I hate using the cliché, it gives you something new every time you listen to it. 'The Best Part' was supposed to be oringinally released on Raw Shack Records, and then on Payday Records, but it never quite made it into your local music shop as Payday's parent company was taken over by Warner Music Group. Sound complicated? Well it is. Anyway, after some bootlegs appeared, and it's popularity grew, the album was finally released on Triple Threat Records a whole 5 years later.
If you had to describe the perfect hip hop album, the two main components would be...
Lyrics that make sense?
Beats that make you move?
Now you can add some humour, some stories, some nice skits, and some guest appearances. The album ticks all of the boxes, and then some. It privides everything, and then some. The story song, 'Wax Paper' (co-produced by Prince Paul), is undoubtedly one of the most overlooked stories in hip hop. i used to love h.e.r what? J-Live makes your brain work to try and figure this one out.
'Timeless' is one of those where you can kick back and relax, and just let the music flow. J's voice perfectly complements the beat produced by Chris Catalyst and Probe.dms. His versatility shines on 'Them That's Not', where he effortlessly varies his tempo with the beat. Premo is easily recognisable working his magic on 'The Best Part', and Pete Rock also makes an appearance, co-producting 'Kick It To The Beat', which also features Asheru.
'Epilogue' provides an almost educational outro the album, where J-Live does something for the kids. I have to yet to meet anybody who has a bad word to say about this album (drop a comment if you do!), and for good reason. This is indeed, 'The Best Part'.