Friday, December 7, 2012

15 Years Later: Biggie Smalls Autopsy Report Revealed

It has been 15 years since the death of Christopher Wallace commonly known as rap legend Notorious B.I.G. and the news organization TMZ has leaked the violent details of the autopsy report to the general public. (See diagram below)

Details confirm he was gunned down in Los Angeles and reveal the full body map of his wounds. He was shot in the shoulder, chest, scrotum, leg and forearm and while three of the wounds were not fatal one tore through his ribs and lungs. The links are easy to find on Twitter I came up with results from Huffington Post, TMZ and even celebrities commenting on the recent news.

At 24 years old the death of Notorious B.I.G. went unsolved and stunned the rap community as he was such a charismatic and talented rap artist. His debut album "Ready to Die" is still considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time and his sophomore double album "Life After Death" released posthumously has since been certified diamond in sales and is arguably better than it's predecessor.


The case remains open and all that is left to remember Biggie is his music and how heavily it impacted hip hop as he continued to push himself further as an artist. "Life After Death" is a reminder that although he had thoughts about death he had a long career ahead of him.

R.I.P. Biggie Smalls

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vinnie Paz - "God of the Serengeti" Tracklist & Cover Art

Philly's own Vinnie Paz is getting ready to release his sophomore effort God of the Serengeti, October 22nd. The production is pretty mixed but Vinnie Paz has a good ear for beats that coincide with his style. Producers from DJ Lethal, DJ Premier, C-Lance, Havoc and Mr. Green provide the instrumentals. 

The features are stacked on this album which can have a mixed result but there are respected names on this album. The track with Immortal Technique and Poison Pen sounds like a blood bath. Chris Rivers (Big puns son) has a large shadow to live up to but he can hold his own. I doubt Havoc and Prodigy recorded together on "Duel to Death" due to their recent beef and regardless they have both been sub-par recently. "Battle Hymn" is bound to be an Army of the Pharaohs banger. RA the Rugged Man and Kool G Rap have both done incredible work with Paz before and Scarface sounds like a good assist as well.  

Pre-order here to receive a t-shirt with your purchase. 

1. “Shadow Of The Guillotine” feat. Q-Unique (produced by DJ Lethal)
2. “Slum Chemist” (produced by C-Lance)
3. “The Oracle” (produced by DJ Premier)
4. “And Your Blood Will Blot Out The Sun” feat. Immortal Technique & Poison Pen (produced by Tony Kenyatta)
5. “Last Breath” feat. Chris Rivers (aka Baby Pun) & Whispers (produced by C-Lance)
6. “Crime Library” feat. Blaq Poet (produced by Marco Polo)
7.“Feign Submission” (Interlude) (produced by JBL the Titan)
8. “Duel To The Death” feat. Mobb Deep (produced by Stu Bangas)
9. “Problem Solver” feat. Scarface (produced by The Arcitype)
10. “Battle Hymn” feat. Apathy, King Syze, Crypt the Warchild, Jus Allah, Esoteric, Blacastan, Celph Titled & Planetary (produced by Mr. Green)
11. “Geometry of Business” feat. La Coka Nostra (produced by Havoc)
12. “Jake LaMotta” (produced by Illinformed)
13. “7 Fires Of Prophecy” feat. Tragedy Khadafi (produced by Beatnick Dee)
14. “Cheesesteaks” (produced by Psycho Les)
15. “Cold, Dark, and Empty” feat. FT and Smoke (produced by Jack Of All Trades)
16. “Razor Gloves” feat. R.A. the Rugged Man (produced by MTK)
17. “Wolves Amongst The Sheep” feat. Kool G. Rap & Block McCloud (produced by C-Lance)
18. “You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train” (produced by C-Lance & JBL the Titan)
19. “Kingdom Crusher” feat. Block McCloud (produced by Paul Nice) (Bonus Track)

Vinnie Paz - "The Oracle" (Official Music Video)

Vinnie Paz announced last week on Twitter that he would drop his collaboration with DJ Premier today and not only did he follow through, but he also gave a grey-tone graphical video for it. The single will be on his new album God of the Serengeti dropping October 22nd. DJ Premier channels Paz's intensity with dirty bass lines and a sample from Notorious B.I.G.'s "Warning".

"What ima hit you with, you mothafuckers better duck."

I prefer the cohesiveness (and video) of "Cheesesteaks" more than "The Oracle" but this is still a tough record from the veteran boxcutter Pazzie! The first verse did not impact me as much as I thought it would be, but as soon as the second verse comes in Paz does what he does best. GOD BODIES it!

Killer Quotable: 

"Rhymes in one take, record an album in an hour straight/
You a pile of waste, I see a sucka and salivate"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rick Ross feat. Wale & Drake - Diced Pineapples (Music Video)

Rick Ross recently dropped a baffling mixtape Black Bar Mitzvah which sounds like an amateur  trap mixtape copying and pasting unforgettable verses from other mixtapes on popular beats. At least four of them were on Cruel Summer and he kept Kanye West on all of them he also kept Lil Wayne's lazy verses from Dedication 4. Yesterday he released the official music video for "Diced Pineapples"—sort of.

Yesterday before the BET Hip Hop Awards he showed it on 106 & Park. Last night I tried searching for it to post it and Rick Ross' Vevo page said the video was set to private. This morning Rick Ross on twitter released it again with this tweet and I watched it on Youtube.

Now I'm just getting home from class and I try posting it again and it says this.

I don't know what the problem is but it seems silly to officially release your video worldwide then not make it available, then re-release it the next day only to not make it public again. Anyways, here's the only place I was able to watch it. That being said the video has some thick women, tropical locations and pineapples. Ross is doing sticks to his usual "bawsness", Wale turns to his spoken word poetry and Drake sings to himself on the beach. (pause.) I'll post the video if it ever comes out.

UPDATE: After some waiting here it is.

BET Hip Hop Awards 2012 - The Cypher (Talib Kweli & Others)

Well I won't have time to critique all of the cyphers tonight I have yet to study for my Philosophy test tomorrow morning at 8 AM but I will leave you with the best one and my favorite from last year. This cypher had more "lyrical" artists which BET is not a big fan of. Jean Grae, Talib Kweli, Ab-Soul and Sarkodie (?) from Ghana.

Jean Grae has always been one of my favorite female emcees along with Rah Digga and MC Lyte. Out of the three she is currently the most active and starts the cypher off right by first addressing "stop sayin femcee/it's not a word, I'll hop the curb and hit you wit my 10 speed." Not only does she spit her murderous lyrics calmly weaves the complex flows together making it clear that Nicki Minaj does not belong in the same category.  She's a veteran who's "quarter lochness/75% Chuck Norris". That alone should turn some heads. Not much to say about Sarkodie other than he was rapping fast in another language and I didn't feel like reading the subtitles.

Ab-Soul is an artist I've been praising lately for his work on Control System and with TDE. Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar were also featured in separate cyphers and Ab-Soul educated the crowd with his scientific diction like "tickle your brain ventricles" but also entertained with punchlines "gettin faded like smokey/but I'm crazy with the motif". Altogether though his verse falters in cypher form because he is too used to writing punchlines for songs and not riding the beat and just rhyming. He's too technical with basic rhymes like "I used to loiter, these days I need a lawyer/call your employer" just comes off lazy. Than he switches back to scientific lyrics but you shouldn't be talking about orbits and pyramids in a cypher freestyle! 

Winner:  Talib Kweli 
Talib Kweli was the anchor for this cypher and he took the win slightly over Jean Grae. He first calls out BET (Let me show you Black Star power) and saying "it's funny they want me to spit even though they never play me though/this the real the alternative what you hear on the radio". He is the most skilled MC of the group letting off rhyme schemes similar to Eminem in last year's cypher. He even closes with the most memorable line of the year: Like Frank Ocean at a Chick-fil-a I'll never get served". I'll take this over Lil Wayne's "No Frank Ocean, I'm Straight" any day.

And here's the Shady 2.0 cypher from last year. Eminem takes it but Crooked I gets off too.

BET Hip Hop Awards 2012 - The Cypher (Mystikal & Others)

And the return of Mystikal is here!!! Not really though. Besides him growling half of his verse and the other half being censored out I did not comprehend anything he said and I didn't want to. Simply put when you can't finish a bar without screaming ahhhhhhh ahhhhh you belong in a straight jacket; not a cypher. 

Then there was some kid named Jaybird the Purdi Boi (these names get worse every year) who won some rap contest and had the opening verse. This fag has the bisexual look of Miguel and the cleavage of Rick Ross in the video. Not much I can say about him other than he tried to rhyme show out with rock out.

Mac Miller was spitting the same spit on your picnic, daffy duck, wild kids shit that he has been the past 3 years. With lines like "Air ballon/high as heck" and "That was extra there/goin crazy like Clint Eastwood and that empty chair". The white high school stoner kid image was played out around Blue Slide Park and Wiz Khalifa's pop transformation. Schoolboy Q the "bossolini" looked stoned while rockin his bucket hat and keeping his hands in his pockets. You can count on him to spit an average verse that is usually followed by Ab-Soul or Kendrick. Regardless, I liked it except for his good kid, m.A.A.d city plug and him calling Romney "ifffy".  

Winner: Hopsin
That leaves Hopsin who I mentioned a while back for his "Ill Mind of Hopsin" series. He brings his rapid flow, horrorcore style and different voices to close the win. Quotables like "If I didn't come, every bit of hope for rap is all gone".

Favorite Line: "If I say get on yo last nerve, holla then/but the truth is, y'all can't touch me like Pac's hollogram."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BET Hip Hop Awards 2012: The Grand Hustle Cypher

Just about the only I really look for on the BET hip hop awards are the cyphers. (Check out the Chris Lighty tribute too.) I still think last year's Shady 2.0's cypher left much to be expected during this year's rounds.

That being said, I'm not going to bother to rank this cypher. Trae the Truth whispered some lines about Texas, some rapper named Chip with a British accent had some nice lines but nothing outstanding. I have not heard one Iggy Azalea song and her verse didn't motivate me to it was just a lot of bragging from a spoiled white girl that probably sucked off T.I. to get signed. She has a mixtape called Ignorant Art which sounds like a label most of these rappers are signed to.

And then there's B.O.B. speaking his usual faggotry, at one point I was expecting that bitch Haley Williams to sing him out. I mean son, with lines like "ya girl thirstier than third world villages" and than speeding up your flow off beat and closing with "they call me master cuz they scared when I pull out my whip". True fact: more people are scared of Drake than B.O.B. sorry Bob. 

Winner: T.I.
So T.I. took the cypher no question—except for giving an image of his girl tanning—and Chip had the second best if you don't mind his accent. (It's way better than  Theophilus London)

 Favorite Line: "A one man wreckin crew, one man band/Pull an automatic mac let 'em have it one hand"

BET Hip Hop Awards 2012: The Man With the Iron Fists Cypher

These are some of my favorites from 30+ people they had in the cypher and the order of their performances IMO.

The Man With the Iron Fists Cypher 

First off, RZA couldn't help  himself but shamelessly plug his movie by naming the cypher after it, having a huge banner under the turntables and mentioning it in the intro. But on to the rappers: A$AP Rocky, Childish Gambino, Joey Bada$$, Angel Haze, Driiicky Graham. First off Driicky Graham looks like a broke fabolous without the creativity and his name is like something Drake considered and threw out. Angel Haze would've been last if that fag didn't rap 2 minutes of hot trash. 

Joey Bada$$ spit a recycled verse off of "Suspect" which is a nice verse nonetheless. 80% of BET viewers have probably never heard of him. Childish Gambino used his skills as a comedy writer to put together a dope freestyle referencing Joe Paterno, Ninja Turtles and Whole Foods. 

Favorite line: "You ever smoke a bowl out with Kid Cudi?/ You ever gotten "D" like you don't study?"

Winner: A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky came out the most focused in the cypher. He switched up his flow about 3 times, said he had the most swag in the cypher, and said his first four words were "fuck you, pay me".

Favorite Line:  "Bitches only like me for my status/ livin ghetto fabulous and I'm still actin rachet."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Control System" Album Review

Nobody's Chattel

By Rampage

"They will be our chattel, that means slaves—it means collateral. You're secured as collateral." - Bohemian Grove

The closing words of the song "Bohemian Grove" send a chilling message of enslaved citizens who are being controlled by a higher power. This is the album's main allegory and as "Terrorist Threats" repeats this message, ("I just wanna be free/I ain't tryna be nobody's chattel") it is clear that Ab-Soul is not interested in music to make profit, but rather to spread his life story and make prophecies.

West Coast conglomerate Black Hippy features some of raps most promising artists. With Kendrick Lamar's breakthrough album Section.80 and Schoolboy Q's album Habits and Contradictions it was time for Ab-Soul to step into the spotlight with a single work which could establish him as an artist. Control System distinguishes his role.

There's a lot to like about Ab-Soul. For one, he can hold his own on tracks with Kendrick Lamar, he's not afraid to experiment with his music and vocal range with other singers (Jhene Aiko & the late Alori Joh) and he has many styles which make Control System a fresh independent release resulting from an artist with full "control" of his art.

The album's high points come from his ferocious raps stemming from his disdain against the government's control of the people (Terrorist Threats), confidently bragging about why he is one of the best in the game (Track Two, Illuminate), and his vivid storytelling anthems (Bohemian Grove). His versatility as an artist is seen with different rhyme schemes, flows and homophones "I wrote like Edgar Allan, I was po' like Edgar Allan" (Pineal Gland).

Many of the tracks I've mentioned come from the first half of the album and that's when the momentum is at it's highest point. When "Double Standards" comes around—a social study on the stigma of cheating between men and women—it isn't Lupe Fiasco's Lasers bad but it seems out of place given the tone of the album.

"SOPA" is the lowest point of Control System, apparently being an opportunity for Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul to let off steam backed by an annoying bass heavy beat and ignorant lines about nothing. Even "Lust Demons" veers into pop single territory and "Beautiful Death" has an annoying hook and guest verse weighing down it's interesting topic.

The slower songs do not always handicap the album though. Lightly packed bars sung in tracks like "Empathy" and "A Rebellion" switch up the pace as he displays his individual nature and his perspective on relationships. Also the powerful "Book of Soul" shows the dichotomy of a rap artist who does not fear criticism, biological obstacles, or the passing of a close friend.

After having gone to a show where Ab-Soul and Kenrick both performed, Ab-Soul can truly hold his own on the mic despite his status as an underdog. His onstage presence is embodied in Control System

I believe this album is a great start in showing his potential and if the 17-track offering was a few songs shorter and more cohesive in style it could have had more impact. That being said, it still remains one of my favorite releases of 2012.

My Rating:

Nas - Cherry Wine (Music Video)

Nas releases the newest visual from his posthumous collabo with Amy Winehouse this morning. "Cherry Wine" is easily one of the best songs from his latest album Life is Good. Amy Winehouse is projected on the wall during the chorus much like how The Notorious B.I.G. was for his verse on "Mo Money Mo Problems" and Nas works the bar trying to find the girl that's down for him even on his job.

Dope song and video check it out below.

Related Posts: Life is Good Track-by-Track Preview

Kendrick Lamar - "good kid, m.A.A.d. city" Tracklist & Cover Art

Currently on tour the BET Music Matters Tour with Ab-Soul and Jay Rock promoting his album, Kendrick Lamar's debut comes out October 22nd and it is available for pre-order on iTunes now.  Features include Lady Gaga, Jay Rock, Drake, Dr. Dre and MC Eiht. While I do wish Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q could have been featured I understand why Kendrick is experimenting with other artists. The official tracklist below and also Kendrick took to twitter tonight to leak "Compton" produced by Just Blaze and featuring Dr. Dre, take a listen here.

1. Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter's Daughter
2. Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe
3. Backseat Freestyle
4. The Art of Peer Pressure
5. Money Trees (feat. Jay Rock)
6. Poetic Justice (feat. Drake)
7. good kid
8. m.A.A.d city (feat. MC Eiht)
9. Swimming Pools (Drank) [Extended Version]
10. Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst
11. Real (feat. Anna Wise)
12. Compton (feat. Dr. Dre)

Deluxe Edition (Cover & Bonus Tracks)

14. Black Boy Fly
15. Now or Never (feat. Mary J. Blige)
16. Collect Calls
17. Swimming Pools (Drank)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kendrick Lamar (feat. Dr. Dre) - "The Recipe"

The first single released from Kendrick Lamar's first major release good kid, m.A.A.d city featuring Dr. Dre (Executive Producer of the album) rapping a verse noticeably written by Kendrick Lamar. There was no attempt to hide  Kendrick's  distinct style but Dre isn't bad with his delivery given he hasn't spit a good verse in years.

The song is produced by Scoop DeVille and was released this summer. The song samples Twin Sister's "Meet the Frownies" and is a good summer smoke anthem with the Westside flavor in it.

"Women weed and weather" is a pretty good recipe that K. Dot and Andre feel their hometown produces the best.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

J. Cole - "The Cure"

After dropping his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story last year and focusing on touring, J. Cole found time to drop some dope lyrics over a (better) version of Watch the Throne's "Lift Off" with Beyonce's vocals. While "Lift Off" was a distracting low point from Jay-Z and Kanye West's album, "The Cure" lets fans of J. Cole know that "it's a brand new season" and he's more than prepared for the competition.

"No cure for the cold, but Cole the cure."


Monday, July 30, 2012

Hopsin - "Ill Mind of Hopsin 5" (Music Video)

Hopsin serves up the 5th episode in his "Ill Mind" series this time rapping directly to young men wasting their talent ("brainwashed to a fake life you used to livin"), women confusing their goals ("You wan't Romeo u not worthy, u cock thirsty and probably got herpes"), and black people enforcing stereotypes ("Why are black people the only ones who can't evolve?"), and not in a polite way.

This type of forceful ideology is something this generation needs, especially in rap music. This might be my favorite out of the series for it's bold premise and genuine frustration that is laid out in a way that will get people's attention AND keep them entertained. Hopsin makes that an important part of his music and it ultimately pays off during songs like this.

Danny Brown - "Molly Ringwald" (Produced by araabMUZIK)

Detroit native Danny Brown releases his collaboration courtesy of Yours Truly and adidas Originals. The song is supposed to appear on the opposite side of a vinyl from Yours Truly featuring Joey Bada$$'s "Daily Routine". The last time I heard a song with a random actors name for the title, it was from Lil B and the song was a series of incoherent sounds behind him repeating the name 100+ times.  

This track is produced by araabMUZIK, a young and talented beatmaker who is a MONSTER with an MPC. Somewhere out there Lex Luger is shitting his pants wishing he could put together sounds like this, and Danny Brown flows over it with his signature humor and ferocious energy. Overall they share a good chemistry and could produce some quality music in the future.

Listen for yourself and download below.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Meek Mill - Amen feat. Drake (Music Video)

Well just in time for Sunday mass Meek Mill drops a video for "Amen" a song from his Dreamchasers 2 mixtape (minus Jeremih). While I never really liked the song, the video has some cameos from J. Cole, Flocka and French Montana and Drake in bright golf attire. 

Religious organizations have been in an uproar over the song including Pastor Jomo K Johnson who argued with Meek on Hot 107.9 about his blasphemy and Meek (in true rapper fashion) loudly fired back about the Church's inability to help the community. There's no denying this song is a conceptual mess about thanking the Lord for "pussy" and "racks", but the Church catches feelings about everything. I've seen better from Meek Mill but here it is and the radio argument at the link.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"The Walking Dead" Season 3 Trailer Revealed

Comic-Con 2012 in San Diego is the epicenter for all things pop culture. People dress up in their favorite comic book character and get breakthrough announcements about their favorite video games, movies, comic books and TV shows. One of the panels gave fans a surprise to keep them drooling over and that's the trailer for season 3 of The Walking Dead, the adaptation of Robert Kirkman's graphic novels.

The AMC series follows a group of survivors in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. What intrigued me about the show was how the script focuses on the group's survival rather than 60 minutes of zombie kills and the storyline make you sympathize with the characters. Trying to raise a family is hell to begin with, but trying to teach family values with a zombie bent on eating your face off is a bit more challenging.

If you haven't seen the first two seasons I suggest you do before season 3 starts up October 14th. The four minute trailer gives us the newest addition to the cast Michonne (Danai Gurira) kicking zombie ass with her sword, the prison where season 3 will take place, Woodbury and it's inhabitants including The Governer (David Morrisey) and Mertle's return! Check out the trailer below.

Nas - "Trust" (Produced by Boi-1da)

A bonus iTunes track produced by Boi-1da about wanting more trustworthy people in his life.  Life is Good comes out July 17th.

Kendrick Lamar - "Swimming Pools (Drank)" (Produced by T-Minus)

Kendrick releases "Swimming Pools (Drank)", his second single off of his upcoming album good kid, m.A.A.d city coming out October 2nd. The track is produced by T-Minus and the single is the most commercial I've heard Kendrick so far, the chorus is corny and the concept of "drowning" your problems in alcohol isn't something new. Section.80 is still one of the best albums to come out of 2011 and Kendrick is still lyrically gifted. I'm surprised he chose this as a single but anyways hit up the comment section with your thoughts.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Aesop Rock - "ZZZ Top" (Music Video)

Aesop Rock's first project in 5 years Skelethon is out now through Rhymesayers Entertainment. The crazy video for his second single "ZZZ Top" plays like a fast paced kung-fu movie moving at the same speed as Aesop's lyrics. Check it out below.

Curren$y & Harry Fraud - "Cigarette Boats" FreEP

Curren$y hooks up with Harry Fraud for a five track offering. Both have been on fire lately and I'm glad to see the exposure Fraud is getting in the streets and Curren$y always has new material coming. Last year's Covert Coup was a free album with Alchemist that impressed me and the chemistry these two have is similar. Peep the Styles P and Smoke DZA features.

My favorite track: WOH (feat. Styles P)

Listen here:


Download here: Cigarette Boats 

Frank Ocean - "Golden Girl" (feat. Tyler the Creator)

While Target won't be carrying Channel Orange anytime soon, the bonus track will be featured on the physical copy out next week and while Frank expresses love to a girl (mind you) Tyler the Creator and his Wolf Haley voice take away from the track. In other words I'm glad this is a bonus track. Comment if you disagree.

Childish Gambino - "Royalty" Mixtape

Childish Gambino had a good debut album last year with Camp and he's back with his new mixtape Royalty. It seems like the rap community has started to notice Gambino's talent as this is the first time he has a project with handful of features. The mixtape features Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Danny Brown, RZA, Ghostface Killah and more.

*Make sure you fully listen to the last track for a hilarious surprise.

My favorite tracks: "One Up", "Shoulda Known", "Unnecessary", "American Royalty", "Toxic".

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nas - "Life is Good" Track-by-Track Preview

Follow along with the tracklist.

Tracks I want to hear:

1. No Introduction - J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League sets the tone for the album with clashing instruments and dramatic organ buildups.  

2. Loco-Motive (feat. Large Professor) - Some dirty N.Y. State of Mind type beat, signature Nasty Nas.

3. A Queen's Story - The instrumental sounds more like a score from a movie with the suspenseful strings.

7 World's An Addiction (feat. Anthony Hamilton) - This might be the track I'm most excited to hear. Anthony Hamilton singing about this cold world. I can already tell Anthony Hamilton blesses this track.

10. Back When - At this point in his career I can't hate on Nas for doing a song about the good old days and No I.D. is the perfect man to add a backdrop for this type of song.

Nas - "Bye Baby" (Produced by Salaam Remi & 40)

Nas' sendoff to his ex-wife Kelis sampling Aaron Hall's "Goodbye Love" and praising his former wife for giving birth to his son and commending her for holding him down despite their divorce. A pretty respectable song from an honest artist.

Nas Performs at the 2012 ESPY'S

Nas ripping the stage and performing "Nasty" despite the audience's lack of emotion. I'll take their silence as being stunned in the presence of God's son.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nas feat. Amy Winehouse - Cherry Wine (Produced by Salaam Remi)

Nas and Amy Winehouse are back with their second posthumous collaboration on Nas' latest single "Cherry Wine". The song premiered on BBC radio and is going to appear on Life is Good coming out next week. Their chemistry is still apparent with her jazz presence, James Brown sampled drums and Nas' introspective lyrics about the woman he wants. With songs like this life is good for fans like me. Keep the heat coming Nas!!

"Channel Orange" Album Review

Frank Ocean's Debut Hits the Right Channel

By Rampage

While the main focus in the news remains Frank Ocean sexuality and artists' opinions on the matter, frankly I don't give a shit. I've been a fan of his since Nostalgia, Ultra, his work with Odd Future and even on Kanye and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne. While so many artists struggle to find their demographic and uphold their image, Frank Ocean comes along with this unique style that blends romanticism, spirituality and pop culture to create Channel Orange. It is difficult to describe the tone of Channel Orange but easy to become drawn into Ocean's many detailed stories tracing his emotional struggles.

The album opens with the Playstation start-up sounds and Street Fighter II theme taking me back to the my childhood and drawing me into Ocean's past. Just as the the nostalgia came to me his breakthrough single "Thinkin About You" is introduced with new orchestra strings and is clearly one of the standout moments on the album. A somber Ocean thinks of the future of his relationship as he asks, 

"Do you not think so far ahead?/Cuz I been thinkin bout forever, ooh". 

Aside from his (epic) second single, "Pyramids", another standout track is "Bad Religion" which he recently performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to universal acclaim. On the track he tries to "outrun his demons" in the back seat of a taxi cab where he pours out his woes about an unbalanced relationship. This was one of the songs where people thought Ocean was coming out because he says "him" instead of "her" in the chorus. His worship for someone he loved is "unrequited". 

The few features on this album are effective which is not always the case for a debut album. Earl Sweatshirt jumps on "Super Rich Kids" an ode to the rebellious and high life of wealthy teenagers who are secluded in their rich lifestyle. Earl Sweatshirt uses his signature stacked rhyme flow ("we be the xany-gnashin, caddy-smashin, bratty-ass...") and Frank even slowly raps the opening lines.

Andre 3000 also gives one of his rare guest appearances on "Pink Matter" which is about a woman's..."Majin Boo". This track displays some of Ocean's colorful imagery and 3000's remarkable flow with a verse about his incompatibility with a woman because of his lifestyle.

"Sweet Life" is a Pharell produced track about a good day for Frank Ocean laying back and sipping wine looking at the beach ("why see the world if you got the beach?") and "Forest Gump" is an interesting track written from the perspective of Jenny from the Oscar-winning film Forest Gump where he references details from the movie. 

Overall, Channel Orange is a rare achievement for the R&B genre. This is an artist expressing his insecurities to the world through beautiful production and lyricism. Each song reminded me of Ocean's undeniable writing ability and vocal range. My only complaint is the skits that don't always serve the purpose he tries to project, as breaks between different themes. Also his beat selection is sometimes overly mixed with synth jazz samples that don't always connect ("Crack Rock", "Monks"). 

Still, from a songwriting standpoint Channel Orange garners some of the most insightful narratives I've heard in years and Frank Ocean's artistry and brilliance is the reason.

My Rating: 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Frank Ocean Performs "Bad Religion" On Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Despite the blogs jamming the net with Frank Ocean's sexuality, Frank Ocean made his television debut performing "Bad Religion" a song from his new album Channel Orange. The LP was originally set to release next Tuesday, but it is confirmed it is now available online a week ahead of schedule as of this morning at 12:30 on iTunes. For those who want a physical copy you will still have to wait until next week, but still another bold move from an artist who continues to spark waves in the music community. I'll have a Channel Orange review up soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Frank Ocean - "Thinkin Bout You" (Music Video)

This song has been making a buzz for Frank Ocean for a while. While I love the song, it has drawn in many groupies who claim to love Frank Ocean yet only know this single because they play it on the radio. (See "Black and Yellow" Syndrome) If you haven't listened to any other songs  you have the right to be a fan but I have the right to single you out as a bandwagon fan. haha. But anyways enough ranting if you haven't download his first album Nostalgia, Ultra (follow the link) and buy his official album coming out 6/17.

Check out the strange but meaningful video below:

Frank Ocean - "Channel Orange" Tracklist & Cover Art

This is the official cover art (below) for Frank Ocean's major album debut, Channel Orange due to release July 17th. So cop this and Life is Good 7/17.

The tracklist does not have any features from Odd Future (good choice) except Earl Sweatshirt (even better choice). His only other features are Andre 3000 and John Mayer.  Andre 3000 has been murdering his features lately and "White" is from The OF Tape Vol. 2 but it'll be interesting to hear what John Mayer adds to it.

Related Posts: Thinkin Bout You, Pyramids

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Django Unchained" Trailer

Despite BET's shameful award show, the silver lining was the reminder of Quentin Tarantino's newest movie Django Unchained set to release Christmas this year. The movie stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. If Quentin Tarantino—who wrote and directed the film—or the cast doesn't inspire you to see this movie (you're insane) but maybe this trailer will. All you need to know is Django—the "D" is silent—(Jamie Foxx) is a slave who goes under Dr. Shultz' (Christoph Waltz) wing as a bounty hunter to save his wife from a crazed plantation owner.

Nas - "Life is Good" Tracklist & Cover Art

One of the most anticipated albums of the year, Nas' Life is Good is set to release July 17,  2012. To celebrate Nas as one of my favorite rappers I will be doing reviews of his discography until I can review Life is Good.  There's a lot of No I.D. and Salaam Remi production which sounds like a promising mix. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Buckwild also provide a track. The features are more diverse than what Nas usually puts on his albums. Large Professor and Rick Ross seem to be the main rappers while Mary J. Blige, Anthony Hamilton, Miguel and Amy Whinehouse are all of the singers featured.


Nas - "Nasty" (Music Video)

Now this was the first single released from his "Life is Good" and this channeled so much hype. This is everything "The Don" is and more. I prefer this flow for Nas the upbeat and charismatic rapid Nasty flow with a sick loop reminiscent of Big Daddy Kane. Very 90s with the break beat and braggadocio rhymes.

"Ya flow cheapa than limousine liquor, I'm no fake rap CD listena;
Sit back and roll a mean swisha, for my G's, 
tell these clowns make room for the king nigga."

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nas - "The Don" (Music Video)

One of the late Heavy D's last productions and a video featuring Nas' flyness. Fuck the new snapback swag that Jay-Z is tryna hop on, this high class mafioso style is something Nas pulls off effortlessly like few other rappers can. Reminds me of It Was Written... I still prefer his single "Nasty" though.

"My niggas is ignant, put lead in yo pigment, just cuz y'all was mad at all the years I was gettin it." - Nas

Nas feat. Rick Ross - "Accident Murders" (Produced by No I.D.)

Some new heat with Rick Ross off the album. No I.D. did it justice with the organ jumps and choir vocals in the back. These tracks, and the fact there are more singers than rappers on the album, are already giving a more laid-back tone for the album with some moments of pure Nasty.

"You ain't mean to merk him, ya guns a virgin." - Nas 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Anchorman 2 and Taken 2 Trailers Released

Ever since Ron Burgandy announced his return to the big screen on a surprise visit on Conan back in March more facts have been leaking out about it and now a teaser trailer featuring the original cast reprising their roles and a release date for 2013. Judging from the trailer I can already Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd are going to be hilarious. I'll be expecting more sex panther smoothness and Brick's awkward presence to be hilarious like the first one. After rumors of Christina Applegate's return Judd Apatow confirmed she will return in the sequel Anchorman: The Legend Continues. Luke Wilson is also rumored to be in it, despite being armless by the end of the first movie.

Here's the teaser (Lmao at Steve Carrell):

Taken 2 has a full trailer and is set to be released October 5th. Neeson is back playing the retired CIA agent that kicks everyone's ass for taking his daughter in the first one. This time it looks like his wife and his daughter (yes, again) are being abducted now by the families of all the dead bodies he left behind in the first movie. Makes sense that the circle of revenge is the driving force in the films but I hope it can live up to the energy and suspense of the first one.

Anyways, here it is. (Plus Rade Serbedzija plays the antagonist and he always plays a good villain, see Guy Ritchie's Snatch)

Vinnie Paz - Cheesesteaks (Music Video)

With a hype beat from Beatnuts' own Psycho Les and dope throwback footage/visuals in the heart of Philly, Vin Laden is back with a new video (and beard) from his sophomore album God of the Serengeti, coming out later this year. If it's anything like his debut LP, Season of the Assassin, should be one of the few albums to look out for this year. PAZ MAN!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Goodfellas Review

With the passing of the infamous mobster Henry Hill at the age of 69, (cancer not getting whacked) instead of posting another obituary I thought it would be appropriate to post my review of Goodfellaswhich is based around his life. I had to write this for my film class a while ago and do a short analysis on it and I'm sure it'll say more about Henry Hill than a biographical summary could, so here it is.

There is good reason behind why Goodfellas (1991) is critically acclaimed as one of the best mob movies ever made. Granted Scorsese in top form directing a true-to-life mob film based on the book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pillegi. The book is based on the life of former Mafioso Henry Hill, Pillegi also co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese and both have a clear understanding of the mafia world and create an intriguing and uncomfortable film inside the heart of organized crime. 

The movie opens with a quick scene of brutal violence and is narrated in first person by Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) in a flashback of him at 11 years old. He is looking out of a window at the guys with expensive cars and the power they have in the city and says, “as far as I can remember I wanted to be a gangster.” That is what the movie sells the viewer on, the grandeur of the people that run the streets of New York. The movie takes the audience right into the “family” where Hill introduces many people along the way, the most important ones being Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro), Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and the head of the ring Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino).

What makes this movie so memorable is the fact that it doesn’t glorify violence with loud shootouts but it works in slow paces of intensity that creep up in the shadows and make it clear early on that anybody can get whacked at any time. Joe Pesci in particular, portrays a loudmouthed, wild cannon that will protect his macho persona at all costs. He walks the line of funny and crazy in several scenes where the audience is confined wondering when his lighting fast temper will flare up again.

The film is also narrated by Hill’s Jewish wife Karen played by Lorraine Bracco, which brings a female perspective that is often left out of these types of films. She explains how all of the mob wives look the same, talk the same and about the same things and she does not feel fully apart of the lifestyle Hill describes passionately, but she is still supportive. Scorsese shoots their struggle in this new life equally, especially when they start getting into cocaine dealing against the don’s orders.

Scorsese captures the time period beautifully with popular music from the era and with shooting the grand opening scenes with POV shots and long pans making a regular entrance into a restaurant, an extravagent event where everyone is happy and everyone knows each other. The atmosphere is the plot of the movie as it follows 20 years of Hill’s life, but the turning point is when Tommy viciously kills a made man, who is supposed to be untouchable. Everything goes downhill from here and there is a sharp contrast into the glamorous and harsh times of mafia life. At one point Hill even says, “I was a part of something…I was living in a fantasy.” 

The film’s tone changes from fantasy to reality many times but during the second act, Hill becomes a fixture of drugs and paranoia. One scene in particular when he is driving across town running errands Hill is scrambling with everything he needs to do and everywhere he goes he sees this helicopter overhead. Everyone tells him that he is just being paranoid, but the sense that it might be following him is there. Then the line between business, friendship and morality is crossed and once the conclusion is reached, Hill is left with a desire to relive those fantasies. 

The film teaches lessons of the glorification of living a life of crime and how one can become alienated in being around that fantasy. The movie can also be shown in a film class for Scorsese’s masterful direction that makes it clear why he is still one of the best filmmakers of recent history.

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