Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Redman - My 2nd Lighter (Music Video)

Funk Doctor Spock is back with a great idea for a track in "My 2nd Lighter" about finding whoever snatched your lighter, one of the biggest pet peeves in smoke circles. I'm surprised the concept hasn't been done already, and no the cotton candy pop record "Lighters" from Bad Meets Evil and Bruno Mars doesn't count. I've written previously about Red's animated personality and humor and his ability to take simple ideas and make dope records from them. Tracks like "How to Roll a Blunt", "How High" and "Can't Wait" have some of his best imagery to show his outlandish behavior  and of course his love for smoking buddha, whether it's "on a train" or in the back-row of a movie theater. 

With my "2nd Lighter" (directed by DJ Scoob Doo) Reggie Noble found inspiration on the funky bass-driven beat DJ Premier produced for Nas on a song called "2nd Childhood". "2nd Lighter" is not as serious, but lighter theft is a nuisance to Redman who is on "high alert" and is trusting nobody. The scratches in the chorus are a nice touch brought from the original song and Red spits some of the funniest lines of the year (who else wants an app in their phone called "find my lighter"?). Check out the video below.

The sampled boom-bap sound is Preemo's trademark and songs like "Smoke Buddah" and "Tonight's Da Night" show the Doc is comfortable with the smoother beats. Red is busy working on Muddy Waters 2 the sequel to what most consider his best album, but before that he will release The Preload EP.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fox News Airs One of The Worst Interviews of All Time (Video)

Fox News is not known for their objective opinions and journalistic integrity but they really outdid themselves this time. In a recent interview with religion scholar Reza Aslan, who was trying to promote his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of NazarethFox News correspondent Lauren Green attacked him with baffling and irrelevant questions about his faith saying, "you're a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founding father of Christianity?". Aslan, probably used to people questioning his faith (he's a Christian turned Muslim), patiently listed his qualifications. He's a PhD, "a scholar of religions with four degrees" and "has been studying the origins of christianity for two decades who also just happens to be Muslim", but that answer wasn't good enough for Fox News' go-to religious "expert" Lauren Green who continued to reiterate the question several more times during the interview.

He slowly tries to break it down for her a second time emphasizing he's "a professor of religion" and that's what he "does for a living actually" as if trying to teach a child how to color. After the embarrassing first questions, Green then proceeds to read off misinformed quotes bashing his book and trying to belittle Aslan as a muslim pushing his agenda rather than a historian. I have a lot of respect for Aslan for being so patient during the assault of prejudice he put up with for being muslim during his interview, I don't know if I could have done the same but he kept his composure. 

The TV train wreck proceeded for 10 minutes with Aslan becoming frustrated with the persistent assertions. Green asked one question about the book, and that is his position about Jesus which she would have known if she read it, but after that she quotes yet another blinded attack on his faith. The quote read "your book is written with clear bias and you're trying to say it's academic? That's like having a democrat writing a book about why Reagan wasn't a good republican, it just doesn't work". *facepalm* I doubt that Green knows that someone can be heterosexual and write about homosexuality, American and write about middle-eastern culture, and intelligent and write about Fox news (pow!). Clearly Green and the writers at Fox hadn't read the book but I've heard better questions from middle school newspapers. 

I doubt working for Fox requires any type of education but questioning someone's expertise based on their religion is quite insulting, and Fox is the first network to get offended over the slightest critique of their extreme christian conservative beliefs. That being said, two days after the interview, his book shot up to number 1 on Amazon from it's previous spot at number 8 and is being praised for it's portrayal of the man Jesus of Nazareth and what he stood for. Watch the shameful video below if you dare.

If you want to watch a more insightful interview with Reza Aslan go to this one from The Daily Show and if you want to cringe at more Fox interviews check out this list I found (Bill O'Reilly accounts for half of them). 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Conjuring (Movie Review)

James Wan is one of the most talented directors in modern horror. Starting with his low-budget bone-cutting debut film, Saw (2004), he and his writing partner Leigh Whannell shocked audiences with their gory introduction to Jigsaw. More recently  he toned down the blood and went with a more traditional approach for scares with films like Dead Silence (2007) and Insidious (2010); the latter was a spooky yet uneven ghost tale (with a sequel in the works). 

Now we have The Conjuring which was met with favorable reviews from critics and audiences alike and it is another take on the tired possession story, but not to worry, Wan is a student of horror and proves why this movie stands out from the rest of the pack. The movie opens with Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) and her husband Ed (Patrick Wilson) attempting to help two women who are being stalked by a creepy doll that puts the ones from Dead Silence to shame. Lorraine is gifted—or cursed depending on how you look at it—with the ability to see these evil spirits that her and her husband hunt down and her and Ed have invested their lives into helping people who face evil manifestations. The audience is told that the Warren's are in fact real life demonologists who worked on the Amityville Horror case and many others in their long careers which is shown in vintage photos.

The set up is pretty standard, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) Perron move into a rustic farmhouse with their five daughters and their dog and immediately something isn't right. The dog won't step foot in the house, and during a game of hide and clap the daughters discover a hidden cellar full of random junk from the past owner. The youngest daughter finds a really creepy wind up clown toy which she says lets her see a new friend, Carolyn starts getting dark bruises on her body and random noises start disturbing the family late at night. The buildup is paced with incredible patience from Wan, who makes the most intense experience possible with most basic tricks. Things like ominous knocks and slammed doors which get drowned out by gore in most modern horror movies (Evil Dead), displace the audiences comfort and effectively raise their heart rate. Some of the best scenes come early when Carolyn plays hide and clap (with a blindfold) and realizes she's chasing the wrong claps.

Wan shows his diversity as a director by going back to the drawing board of early horror films and gives homage to scary movies like The Poltergeist, The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror. Ed Warren goes over the three stages of possession which will be seen throughout the film which are infestation, oppression and possession respectively. The spirits in the house start out taunting and it takes a toll on the family, Cindy (Mackenzie Foy) starts sleepwalking (particularly to a wardrobe) and Christine (Joey King) gets pulled by someone in her sleep and slowly the spirits become more aggressive with an impressively frightening scene with the mother trapped in the cellar, they oppress the family until it's not even safe to sleep alone. 

Once the Perrons reach out to the Warrens for help, the spirits don't get any calmer and manifest further with the Warrens investigative presence in the house. Once Carolyn sees the history behinds the house, she knows what kind of danger they're in and that's when all hell breaks loose and the audience is left in their seats tortured by the anticipation. The performances are very convincing especially from Vera Farmiga who seems determined in her role as a broken mother trying to help the family and also from Lili Taylor who makes it hard to watch the closing sequence with her physically and emotionally intense performance. Wan purposely shot the film with a 70s feel in mind—the actual case was in 1971—and he stays authentic to the time with camera techniques and imagery but he also blends some effects that weren't available back then.

The Conjuring is not meant to make you believe in malevolent spirits but unlike many other movies which claim to be true this one makes these characters a real family and who would want this pain inflicted on someone close to them? This movie is rated r for disturbing violence and terror and practically no gore so that should be a hint at how genuinely terrifying this movie is. It is up there with The Exorcist in terms of shocking terror and I doubt another movie will match its horrific genius anytime soon. 

Side Note: There will be a sequel to The Conjuring which was announced before it was released and it is rumored to be about The Amityville Case. 

My Rating:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Earl Sweatshirt - Hive (Official Music Video)

Earl Sweatshirt has released his third single and music video from his upcoming album Doris. "Hive" also features guest appearances from OFWGKTA affiliate Casey Veggies and Vince Staples. The gloomy beat is familiar ground for Earl's internal rhyming and run-on flow and it's easy to see why he's one of the top rappers from Odd Future's roster (impressive considering he's only 19-years-old!). Many people struggle to comprehend Earl's lyrics and many casual rap fans are not really into the darkly toned style he has built himself on, but his wild imagination and creative flows set him apart. Not many rappers possess the extensive diction Sweatshirt has, let alone make the multi-syllable words rhyme for more than two bars. 

His first single "Chum" came out last year and the song is more introspective than fans were used to hearing, but the heavy bass and chilling piano let him showcase what he's capable of. The music video is black and white and eerie but he still managed to poke fun at himself ("too black for the white kids and too white for the blacks"). Next came "Whoa" featuring Tyler, The Creator which was a reminder to devout fans that he can still rhyme bizarre words ridiculously well like he did on "Earl". 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Takeover, The Break's Over...Jay-Z Finally Gives Sequel to Dead Presidents II

It's been over a month since I updated my blog, partly due to vacation, but now I'm back and I thought what better way to mark my return then to write about a rap legend who has also made his return to music. I'm referring of course to Jay-Z and his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail which was released last week.  

I'm currently going through his discography before I review the album, but Jay-Z gave fans a gem by letting Young Guru release "Dead Presidents III", an unreleased track produced and recorded by Young Guru during Jay-Z's post-retirement period. The song was first previewed on DJ Green Lantern's Presidential Invasion mixtape with one verse, the final version has two verses but most of the second verse was used in the song "Moment of Clarity" on The Black Album

The dated references (flew into the building like 100 Osamas) might be the reason why he decided not to put it on an album, but Young Guru blessed the beat with a glossy piano loop and Jay's wordplay (yesterday I was "kneading" this dough) and flow are reminiscent of his style on Reasonable Doubt (arguably his best album). Listen and download.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Hangover (Movie Review)

By now you've heard the story. Three friends go to Las Vegas to throw a bachelor party for their friend in his last night of freedom and wake up with a missing groom and no memory of the previous night. This is the film which skyrocketed the careers of both Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper (now an Academy Award Nominee) who are both taking over Hollywood in lead roles. 

The main reason this movie works is because of it's characters. The script takes its time in setting them apart from the beginning, so by the time things get out of hand you know their personalities. Doug (Justin Bartha) is the groom who is forced to take his brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis), who is the immature kid trapped inside of a very fat and hairy man's body. Alan has the most one-liners in the movie and Galifianakis' stand-up comedy is delivered in much of the same manner. Hollywood has since typecast him for eccentric characters who are all clones of Alan. 

Phil (Bradley Cooper) is the young teacher who's bored with life and treats the trip as an escape route, and Stu (Ed Helms) is the whipped boyfriend trying to escape from his controlling girlfriend (he doesn't mention their plan to crash in sin city). Todd Philips put these realistic characters in a city which is like an amusement park for adults, and gives them an excuse to go wild. 

None of the night is filmed, which was a good move by Phillips who resisted the urge to make the movie another boring raunchfest, instead he cuts to the next morning when they are all passed out in their ravaged hotel room filled with wild animals, and a baby—which Alan names Carlos. While the film does have it's raunchy moments it doesn't solely rely on them for laughs. Together they try and account for the night but none of them can remember anything, so they use clues to recount the night and locate their friend. From that point they run in with cops, a stripper, a crazed Chinese gangster named Mr. Chow (hilariously played by Ken Jeong) and a famous athlete who likes Phil Collins.

There are people who don't find much to like about this movie and others who call it one of the best comedies of all time and I don't agree with either of them. I think it's successful in it's goal of making likable characters go through crazy situations but it is overrated compared the massive hype people gave it during it's release but I don't blame them. Comedies were at an all time low and fans who gave it a chance made it the highest grossing rated-R movie up to that point (later beat by Ted). 

The big reveal at the end will leave some cheering for them and leave others feeling underwhelmed, but altogether the movie is pieced together well and filled with many types of comedy so that all of the characters share moments of humor and vulnerability.  The movie is best the first time but even after repeated viewings, the movie doesn't lose it's charm; the setups are original and so are the situations as the "wolf pack" recklessly pushes through them. Director Todd Philips made another film about a group of guys reliving their younger days in Old School, and once again he manages to bring together a talented cast and a hilarious script, and does it even better this time around. 

My Rating:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cube (Movie Review)

Cube (1997) is the second film by Canadian writer/director Vincenzo Natali (who went on to make Splice), and it literally takes horror to another dimension with a darkly imaginative script and ambitious filmmaking.

The story begins with five strangers in a large room together with no memory of how they arrived and no clue why they are there. Quentin is a cop; Holloway, a "free" doctor; Rennes, an infamous escape artist; Worth, a nihilist and Leaven just goes to school. The characters don't exactly know what their function is but they assume they serve a purpose. (Trivia fact: all of the characters are named after famous prisons).

As they struggle for survival, the audience witnesses the several stages of their personality during their imprisonment. They ask all of the logical questions. Who is doing this to them? Holloway blames the conspiracy on the government or aliens. Quentin thinks it is "some rich psycho's entertainment". As they look around the room there's doors on each side leading to another room like an endless maze, so they decide to move together in a straight line until they reach an exit, because it has to end right? Rennes isn't interested in the groups questions and explains that their journey won't be so easy because the rooms are booby trapped with lethal technology (one man in the beginning gets cubed). He uses his boot as a precaution, but their fate relies on the rooms as they await in agony for anything to happen.

Their minds and bodies are tested beyond their limits, and in true Lord of the Flies fashion a survivalist group forms with a hero and a weak link. They are forced to work together even though the group is unlikely to talk to each other in the real world, but the cube brings an alternate world that plays like an episode of Twilight Zone. With no sense of direction, starvation and desperation take over the group's will and trust and they conspire against one another. They use clues from the passages to try and find their way out but as they reach dead ends it's easy to become hopeless, and the movie takes a violent turn. The true horror of the movie is in the characters and one of the key quotes from the movie comes from Rennes where he says "you've gotta save yourselves from yourselves". 

The time frame is not revealed and the mystery is not fully answered, but as the mastermind, Natali understands that by doing this the audience is forced in the cube with them with the same paranoia. He uses many closeup shots on the actors' faces to further push the effect of claustrophobia and his use of color in the rooms sets the rooms apart even though the design is the same (only one set room was used during filming). What's great about Cube is that it can't be broken down to one genre, there are some horror scenes (the sound room is my favorite), some sci-fi and the rest is a psychological thriller. As the prisoners starve and reach their boiling points they turn on each other in search of an answer and some reach hopelessness while others do whatever it takes to survive which is a reflection of our brain's "fight or flight" response.

The acting is probably the movies biggest downfall, there are no standout performances, but these are demanding roles. Quentin who plays good cop/bad cop (the main character) is the most believable and plays best alongside Worth but Holloway's constant pestering and laughable dialogue—at one point she refers to Quentin as a Nazi—grows tiring. The effects still hold up pretty good given that it was made over 15 years ago on such a low budget. The subpar acting and plot holes are more than made up for in the movie's mental terror and stylish approach. 

The conclusion is powerful and nihilistic in nature and makes the characters more evil than the cube itself. The film also has some pretty direct feelings towards the world outside of the cube, and creates a conceptual metaphor for humanity and the evil all humans hold inside. This is a low budget film powered by it's script and imagination; Natali managed to think outside of the box but trapped us all in it at the same time.

My Rating:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Juicy J - Boss Nigga (Music Video)

Shortly after it's release, Juicy J gives his newest track "Boss Nigga" some visuals. The video is what you'd expect, one of the first shots has him downing an entire bottle of Xanax and on stage with two bottles in his hand. While I'm not a fan of his "trippy" brand, I have to admit this is more entertaining than most songs I've heard from him. 

He sounds better with a sped up flow (to make up for some of his lyrics) and the beat is not his usual strip club sound but more of something I'd expect Young Jeezy or T.I. to spit some hard shit over. Juicy J does a pretty good job with the tough talk while still keeping his signature comedy. This line from the song sums up Juicy J's entire style, "my Benz got a whole in the top like a dolphin/I'm on this codeine cuz this weed got me coughin" and others are just as funny like "Pull out them toasters, turn you to a pop tart". His album Stay Trippy is set to be out July 2nd. 

Check out the video below. 

The Cost of America's Gun Fetish

A 5-Year-Old Kentucky boy accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister recently with a .22 Caliber rifle he received for his birthday last year. The rifle is specially made for kids and is called a "Crickett" with the tagline "This is my first rifle". You can add "first accidental murder" to that list too. All jokes aside, the Southern Kentucky community has spoken and boy are they outraged by this horrible story. The county's coroner said quote"It's a little rifle for a kid...The little boy's used to shooting the little gun" which resulted with a little coffin for a little corpse.  He was later caught saying "What is more unusual than a child having a gun, is "that a kid would get shot with it." 

Kentucky Police Trooper Billy Gregory agrees saying, "In this part of the country, it's not uncommon for a 5-year-old to have a gun or for a parent to pass one down to their kid." If that doesn't scare you enough, the county judge also said "there's probably not a household in this county that doesn't have a gun". The family admits it's a tragedy but hold no regrets as they said "it has a child safety" and "he just picked up the gun before he realized it". Of course! He should have realized it. I mean come on, 5-year-olds have been through their share of armed conflicts to know if a gun is loaded or if the safety is on. I'm pretty sure it was covered in the latest issue of Toddlers and Tommy Guns magazine.
But Coroner, Gary White is wrong in his assertion about the "usualness" of kids getting shot. In 2010, "29 people between the ages of 1 and 19 died in gun accidents. Another 749 took their own lives using a firearm, most of which were owned by a parent". On top of that, "almost 120,000 children/teens have died from gun violence since 1979, nearly three times the number of military deaths during the Vietnam war, and over 17 times the number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan" so think twice before thinking that terrorism is a bigger threat to our country. The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) also reports gun death rates in America are more than seven times higher than they are in other high income countries. So why are kids in America more likely to die from gun violence than other countries? Is it just because we're a more violent culture or is it more likely because we have the most guns?

The victim's grandmother thinks she has the answer as she let out this religious vomit, "It was God's will. It was her time to go, I guess," she told WLEX. "I just know she's in heaven right now and I know she's in good hands with the Lord." If she died by the hand of God, don't you think his hands are the last place you want her to be? (Maybe Grandma ordered the hit...yea...there's only one person who can shit their diaper in this family!) This delusional thinking is another example of illogical thinking and making almighty God the answer for this preventable death. 

The fact is that before this decade ends we will have enough guns for every citizen (see chart) and more guns—which are likely to fall into the hands of unstable and criminal citizens— equal more deaths. American's currently have the most lax gun laws despite death rates not declining. According to CNN this is the 3rd incident in recent months regarding young children shooting others and with America still holding the highest gun fatality rate in the world so what is there left to prove?

Gun activists and NRA members will continue to use the second amendment as an excuse for these incidents and how it's their constitutional right, but what people fail to understand is the amendment was created only to protect the citizens from a militant government over 200 years ago! The "right" to bear arms doesn't excuse you from responsibility. Congress recently voted down stricter gun laws and mandatory background checks with the fallacy that crime and murder will still exist regardless. Right, but that doesn't make laws pointless or murder legal for that murder. The 5-year-old wasn't at fault in this situation, his parents and the gun were. The NRA also opposes mandatory gun locks in the home, which could have saved this little girl's life. 

On Jon Stewart recently, he notes these hypocrisies on FOX News where the anchors seemed adamant in throwing away every amendment when talking about the fate of the Boston Bomber guessed it, the second. Jon Oliver also brilliantly interviewed the Prime Minister of Australia who implemented stricter gun laws 15 years ago after a massacre, and their fatality rates have decreased significantly with ZERO gun massacres since then. Watch the interview below. 

Gun advocates think having more guns promotes more safety against outside threats and that deaths only occur because of weapon owners more than guns, but it's not a coincidence that the country with the most guns (over 300 million) has the most massacres. There is no evidence that supports owning a gun makes you safer in hostile situations, in fact, "armed civilians attempting to intervene are actually more likely to increase the bloodshed".

The laws easing on gun control make it easier than ever to illegally purchase guns with over 99 laws in favor of carrying guns in public places like schools and churches! (You can never be too safe against God's will) If people think criminals illegally purchasing guns is the problem look at Mother Jones' study which found nearly 80% of killers purchased their weapons legally. Gun reform is favored by 90% of Americans but Republicans in the Senate continually think any reform is violating their second amendment rights.

In the past year alone America saw Newton, Christopher Dorner, the Sikh temple and the shooting in Colorado. Approximately 4,000 Americans were killed by guns in the past four months, including a friend of mine from grade school, surpassing lives lost in 9/11 and there has not been even mild gun legislation. I guarantee these tragic deaths will continue if people continue to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen. I advise people to speak up against the legislators to protect someone you love from being another statistic.

R.I.P. Sam "The sun will set for you."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Statik Selektah - 21 & Over (feat. Sean Price & Mac Miller)

"21 & Over" is the second single from Statik Selektah's upcoming album Extended Play coming out June 18th. Last time he brought together new and old school with Joey Bada$$, Raekwon and Black Thought and he does it once again by bringing Sean Price and Mac Miller together on a song. 

Twitter was both shocked and disappointed by this seemingly random collaboration between Duckdown legend Sean Price and the increasingly annoying Mac Miller. In case fans forgot, Sean Price is a big fan of Mac Miller and last year,when he was a guest editor for HipHopDX, he had a chance to interview the Pittsburgh artist.

Since the song dropped, Price has been blocking swarms of people on Twitter for trashing Mac Miller's corny music and it was pretty funny to see a lyrical veteran defending someone like Mac Miller when there are plenty of new artists who can run laps around him. It wasn't even about race until Sean Price tweeted "wait till y'all hear my song with Macklemore" and "Riff Raff is dope" so I think he knows what people are saying because they're all in the category of "corny white rappers" (Riff Raff is the only one who accepts it). For those who think I don't listen to white rappers, my library has Aesop Rock, Apathy, Asher Roth and Eminem among others and they all have dope material. 

As for the song, the chorus is a sample of Styles P instructing "if you under 21 you shouldn't listen to this". P goes on to body the song (surprised?) and is there any producer in rap right now working harder than Statik Selektah? He uses the horns to smoothly transition to the chorus and menacing bass lines to build the verses which is becoming his signature. Mac Miller's first line is "light the crack pipe so I know it's real" right before calling himself the "young Bill Murray". Why anyone likes this kid? The world may never know. 

Listen to the song below:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Joell Ortiz - "Open Letter" Freestyle

On Real Late Sessions with Peter Rosenberg Joell Ortiz came through and bodied the "Open Letter" beat Jay-Z rapped over recently. The volume is painfully low thanks to Rosenberg on the turntables but Ortiz saves it with his hard lyrics. 

There are several quoatables like "they ain't fuckin wit ya boy/I give rappers this work who currently unemployed" but my favorite was when he addressed his recent weight loss when he said, "these broads likin me slim better, but I ain't workin out so my clothes fit better/I'm training so when I go in the booth my wind's better". Ortiz is spitting hungrier than ever and his new mixtape "Yaowa" is coming soon with an album after that. Check out his newest video "Roll Deep" and his latest freestyle "5 AM In Brooklyn". 

Demigodz - Raiders Cap (Music Video)

East coast underground rap group Demigodz are back with another video from their new album KILLmatic which is available now. Group members include Apathy, Celph Titled, Ryu and Esoteric who receive good production from Apathy, DJ Premier, and The Snowgoons, and features from Termanology, Scoop De Ville and RA The Rugged Man. The crew has released several music videos including "Dead in the Middle", "Demigodz is Back", and "Worst Nightmare". "Dead in the Middle" (prod. by Apathy) includes a Scooby-Doo sample originally done by MF DOOM, "Demigodz is Back"  (prod. by Apathy) samples "Gonna Fly Now", or the theme from the movie Rocky and "Worst Nightmare"was produced by hip hop legend DJ Premier who sampled Rah Digga and Inspectah Deck. 

Their new video "Raiders Cap" is another one cut produced by Apathy who sampled Black Oak Arkansas's "Hot and Nasty" and is a tribute to west coast culture like N.W.A., who always wore L.A. Raider's caps, and the movie Boyz N' The Hood, where Ice Cube also donned one. The video features the posse in the famous hats dissecting the beat one by one. Check it out below.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kendrick Lamar - Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe (Music Video)

Arguably the biggest rap song of 2012, "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" has been through several freestyles, a Lady Gaga version, a remix with Jay-Z and now it gets an official music video which dropped today. The video takes a very unexpected approach with Kendrick at an all-white funeral, Mike Epps as a priest baptizing Kendrick and obvious product placement. Kendrick's videos have never been outstanding except for "Hiii Power" and I think it's because K-Dot's lyrics are already cinematic and paint a picture so when the visuals come along and don't match the story it's distracting. 

The song itself is a celebration of his success and not falling victim to criticism, but the video transforms it into a "death to molly" message which seems insignificant but he makes it clear he is in his own lane of music.  I can't recommend the video but his album is one of the best releases of last year and if you're looking for a more fitting video I suggest "Backseat Freestyle" featuring Sherane twerking "that ass that a ruler couldn't measure". Try not to get whipped and tricked like Kendrick did though.

Update: Not long after this post Kendrick tweeted a link of an extended version of the video with about a minute of extra footage and a cameo by Juicy J backed by an unnamed song from Schoolboy Q's new album Oxymoron. It's pretty ironic how right after the "death to molly" message is put up Juicy J, who is known for his raps about molly and lean, comes out to celebrate. Not sure what that means, but maybe that is why it's not in the original video. 

Joell Ortiz - Roll Deep (Music Video)

Joell Ortiz had a notable guest spot on Funk Flex's latest mixtape, Who You Mad At? Me Or Yourself?, and it made my list of the best tracks from the tape. Superproducer Statik Selektah equipped the instrumental with samples from Big Pun and M.O.P. and booming guitar strums and Ortiz's flow fits flawlessly. The video features a slimmed down Ortiz next to rapper Tego Calderon, some animal footage PETA would cry over and a large crew rolling with him, which fits with the chorus.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

American's spend money every year on pointless holidays, but Mother's Day gets a certain respect from guys and the rap community. It's an honorable day, but one day is not enough to pay respect to the woman who raised you from birth. However, in honor of Mother's Day and Ghostface Killah's birthday this week, this is the perfect song for today. It's often overlooked compared to the amount of rap songs dedicated to moms but Ghost's storytelling and Mary J. Blige's vocals make it one of the gems from GFK's debut album, Ironman

"But I remember this, moms would lick her fingertips/to wipe the cold out my eye before school with her spit."

Word up mommy, I love you. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Top 10 Tracks From Funk Flex's New Mixtape (Mixape Review)

Funk Flex's new mixtape, Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself?, is like a compilation of every rapper, producer and singer he could contact and it drags on with over 50 tracks and a running time of over 3 hours! Flex exclusively released it on his app to promote it and in true Flex fashion, made it harder to enjoy in the process. When the download was finally available, the mixing quality was sloppy, Flex's bombs and growls were annoying and the amount of throwaway tracks make it overkill. I personally only enjoyed about 15 of the tracks, almost all were exclusively on the first playlist. 

The tape tries to appeal to all hip hop fans,  but further alienates it from being a good listening experience. For example, the twerk song "Shake It", is sloppily thrown in between an average J. Cole offering (Maine on Fire) and a standout Childish Gambino track. There's no organization and by the time Mac Miller is rapping about salamanders and masturbating the mixtape is running on fumes. The second playlist is the worst with Flex just throwing southern rappers and singers on it. French Montana appears way more than necessary and the lyrics get repetitive. The most impressive feat of the mixtape is the production, and how East Coast artists come out on top.

Mixtape rating: 3/5

However, the tape does have some bright moments between the trash and here are the top 10 songs from both playlists to save you some time. 

1. The LOX - Who You Mad At? (prod. by Jahlil Beats)

With a blaring beat recently used on XXL's freshmen freestyle, The LOX's title track sets the bar for what's to come. Jadakiss is the show-stealer but Styles P opens the track with ferocity, "death comes in threes, you know that it's three of us" and also raps the chorus with Kiss. Sheek Louch isn't impressive but than again when has he been? Overall the track serves it's purpose and brings the energy with murderous bars. 

2. Fabolous - Money Talks (prod. by Araab Muzik)

After working together on The Soul Tape 2, Fab and Araab Muzik team up once again for "Money Talks" which is another display of Araab's sampling skills which keep getting better. Fabolous flows smoothly with his punchlines but it's good to see how much Araab Muzik has progressed as a producer from his mixatape For Professional Use Only. He was recently shot in an attempted robbery but he is in the hospital recovering and will be back killing the boards soon. 

3. Action Bronson - Live From Kissena Boulevard  

(prod. by Statik Selektah) 

I posted this song when it was first released and Bronson's homage to his hometown of Queens is still a great anthem. Statik Selektah produced the jazzy instrumental sampling Jay-Z and Queens native/Bronson's favorite rapper, Kool G Rap. Bronson continues to write hilarious lines like "I want to meet the bitch that invented head", don't we all. 

4. Slaughterhouse (prod. by DJ RellyRell) - House Gang

Slaughterhouse has been bipolar with music lately. Their last album was a disappointment but every once in a while someone passes them a good beat and lets them show off their lyrical abilities and that's exactly what "House Gang" does. With a glorious beat and a catchy chorus, the four MC's slaughter the track in true form. 

5. Childish Gambino (prod. by Chemist) - Think of Me

I've been a fan of Gambino since he started rapping years ago and while Flex's intro is distracting and unnecessary, Gambino still kills his spot on the tape. This is the first track he's put out in a while, other than features, and it's a perfect example of his humor, authenticity and social commentary. Gambino's blend of comedy and social issues can take a while to get used to, but it's refreshing to see an artist not recycling the same topics. The song could have been on his last mixtape Royalty and if you haven't heard it yet I suggest downloading Culdesac and and EP which are among his best. 

6. Uncle Murda - Do Sumthin' (prod. by DJ Mustard)

With a basic piano progression Uncle Murda brings back that 90s New York sound which he does better than most "street" rappers today, especially since Prodigy hasn't done anything good lately. He's not the most lyrical but the song stands out on the mixtape which sounds repetitive after a while. 

7. Jadakiss & Styles P (prod. by G.U.N. Productions) - In and Out

The LOX stole the show on the mixtape with two slots on my top 10. Jadakiss is the most talented of the group but Styles P is a good second and this song shows why. Much like Fat Joe and Big Pun's "Twinz (Deep Cover 98)"the two rap back and fourth like alley-oops where the other finishes the rhyme scheme. The beat is dirty with a Nas sample which makes this entertaining and proved to the new artists that Kiss and SP still got it.  

8. Joell Ortiz - (prod. by Statik Selektah) Roll Deep

Joell Ortiz's last album was average and really didn't show off his lyrical abilities like his radio freestyles did. The highlight of his album was "Battle Cry" produced by Just Blaze and he killed it. So I think the key to bringing out the best in Ortiz is a producer who shows Ortiz their best work. Statik Selektah sampled the perfect latin sounds to make "Roll Deep" a Puerto Rican anthem which hasn't been done since Big Pun. The chorus also samples of M.O.P. and Big Pun. Check out the video here

9. Reek Da Villain & Vado (prod. by Khrysis) - I Came

I haven't heard a lot of Reek Da Villain's work other than features but he absolutely caught a body on this hard track produced by Khrysis. I'm a fan of Vado too but Reek was out for blood and came with it.

10. Pete Powerz (prod. by Harry Fraud) - X Marks the Spot

Pretty much the only highlight on the mixtape's second playlist is "X Marks the Spot", which features an all New York-native cast. The only problem I had was when black Budha/Fred Da Godson called himself the one of the best lyricists since Big Pun. Sit down son, that's not a title you just give yourself. The beat is another gem from Harry Fraud and it features many artists I don't really listen to, other than Fat Joe,but they do the beat justice while representing the birth place of hip-hop. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Elliott Wilson's Interview With Tyler The Creator

Rap journlaist/Joker impersonator Elliott Wilson interviewed rapper Tyler The Creator with his #CRWN series at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. Audience members paid to see Tyler open up about his new album Wolf, his family and influences, maturing musically, the Mountain Dew commercials, and why Earl's Mom still doesn't like him. 

Check out all the parts below and buy tickets for YN's next interview with J. Cole on May 29th. 

Part 1: Watch as Tyler breaks down the marketing behind Wolf, how he's bored with rap, his new four-story home, and his private music room. 

Part 2: Tyler talks about where his craziness comes from, making "big boy decisions", the controversial Mountain Dew ads, his sister, and playing with The Roots. 

Part 3: Tyler talks about his musicality, rebelling against blogs and throwing up on cue. On top of that he breaks down a couple of tracks form the album, describes his friendships in Odd Future, Frank Ocean's influence on him and meeting his idol Pharell.

Part 4: Tyler talks working with Erykah Badu, why he's the selfie king, his alter egos and crazy fans and YN gets Tyler to be serious when talking about the death of his Grandmother. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly Dead at 34

Today is a sad day for hip-hop as we lose another young rapper who is best known as one half of the 90s rap group Kris Kross.

Wednesday, 34-year-old Chris Kelly died at an Atlanta hospital. CNN reports, "After paramedics took him to the hospital, a woman who identified herself as Kelly's friend told an investigator that Kelly had taken a mixture of heroin and cocaine Tuesday night, and that she had brought Kelly home" to recover from his drug use,". Atlanta authorities are still investigating but drug overdose is suspected to be the cause of death. 

Jermaine Dupree recently posted a letter on Twitter entitled "LETTER TO THE FANS: CHRIS “MACDADDY” KELLY". In it he says he spent more time with Chris than anyone in his whole life and called him quote, "the son I never had". 

Kris Kross shot to fame in the early 90s with their massive hit "Jump" and their trendsetting signature of wearing their clothes backwards. Kelly and partner Chris Smith were only 13 years old when Jermaine Dupree discovered them and produced their debut album Totally Krossed Out. The album went multi-platinum, a feat unmatched by their later albums. The group was last seen performing together on stage at So So Def's 20th Anniversary Concert in Atlanta back in February. Watch their performance below. 
R.I.P. Mac Daddy

The Top 25 Weed Songs

Got weed?
I know I missed posting this on 4/20 but as Wiz Khalifa says on one of the songs on the list, "on the kush clock, it's always time to smoke". More importantly my 100th post is coming soon and to celebrate I've compiled 25 of my favorite joints (no pun intended) that blend perfectly into any smoke session (in no particular order). Thank you to anyone who reads my posts, you are appreciated but let's start the list.

1. Styles P - "Good Times"

Album: Gangster and a Gentleman (2002)

"Good Times" was not only SP's biggest hit which brought him into the game as a solo artist—after being with The LOX—but it also went down as a smoker's anthem embedded in rap history. The song is instantly recognizable with it's Freda Payne sample and one of the greatest opening lines ever, "Everyday I need an ounce and a half". I'm sure most potheads would agree with that statement. Check out the dope visuals as well.

2. Method Man & Redman 

How High (Album Version)

Album: Blackout! (1999)

One of rap's best duos originally released their first collaboration on The Show (Soundtrack) but re-released it on their debut album Blackout! in higher quality. If that wasn't enough, the remix features female vocals on top of the chrous and this is the version used in the music videoThe two rap back and fourth proving their chemistry and that fucking with them is a "straight suicide". The song would later spawn a funny movie and a failed TV series starring the two, and more importantly more dope music. They later followed up their collaboration album with Blackout! 2 in 2009 and are still killing features today

3. Cypress Hill - Hits From The Bong

Album: Black Sunday (1993)

There so many great smoke songs from Cypress Hill's catalogue to choose from like "I Wanna Get High" or "Dr. Greenthumb" but I personally think their tribute to bongs from Black Sunday is among the best. Similar to Redman's "How to Roll a Blunt" B-Real shows an alternative method to smoking weed with some good tips. Sen Dog does his usual background echoes and the bong rip sound effects add to the sample which sounds like it's taken from a hippie's stereo. 

4. Dr. Dre - The Next Episode 

Album: 2001 (1999)

Dr. Dre's 2001 is perfect for any smoking occasion but "The Next Episode" is an undeniable hip-hop classic that can get play at any venue and receive a huge crowd reaction.  The song is a sequel to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's first collaboration "Nuthin' But A G Thang" and features a guest feature from Nate Dogg (R.I.P.) with an unforgettable line, "hey, hey, hey, hey, smoke weed every day". A philosophy that's in every stoner's handbook. 

5. Luniz - I Got 5 On It 

Album: Operation Stackola (1995)

Not everyone can afford their drug habit and Luniz made a classic song with a popular solution. "I Got 5 On It" is a testament to smoke circles everywhere chipping in to buy a larger amount of ganga. The strange melody and hypnotic chorus blend to make a perfect smoke song and remember if you let someone hit for free "you hella dum-da-dum-dumb". Watch the video to see a 90's pool party. 

6. Schoolboy Q (feat. A$AP Rocky) - Hands On The Wheel

Album: Habits & Contradictions (2012)

One of the most memorable songs to come out of last year, "Hands On The Wheel" made Schoolboy Q a popular name for this house party anthem using a Kid Cudi sample sung by Lissie. The track also hosts a showstealing feature from A$AP Rocky. "Hands on the Wheel" is one of the best party tracks to come from my generation. If life for you is just "weed and brews" this song is perfect for you. 

7. Lil Wayne - Kush

Album: The Leak (2007)

You wouldn't know it from listening to any of his recent music but Lil Wayne actually used to be pretty good in his prime. Back before his Grammy award-winning album Tha Carter III, he dominated the mixtape scene with his Dedication and Drought series' and the massive amount of material Wayne recorded provided some great tracks which didn't make the album like "Kush". Similar to "Pussy, Money, Weed" it's just trade mark Weezy with a beautiful sample talking about the finest things in life including smoking the most potent weed. No reggie allowed. Ever.

8. Bob Marley - Kaya 

Album: Kaya (1978)

Bob Marley is another artist whose whole discography makes for a good listen whilst smoking, but Kaya is a direct reference to weed and how it makes Bob feel ("I feel so high, I even touch the sky"). Marley was a master at creating peaceful vibes with his music and this song is a testament to his ability. This song is perfect for wake and bake. 

9. Rick James - Mary Jane

Album: Come Get It! (1978)

Another direct reference which is a little more obvious is Rick Jame's ode to Mary Jane. Fans of Friday will remember the song playing in the movie and fans of Rick James know he took a lot of drugs aside from marijuana. Still, his affection for "Mary Jane" is brightly sung over a heavenly instrumental and for stoners who feel the same way, this song helps them get to their own "paradise". 

10. The Alchemist - Calmly Smoke

Album: The Alchemist's Cookbook (2008)

This is probably the most slept on track on this list, but The Alchemist cooked up this gem about the beneficial effects of weed, especially when dealing with the struggles of life ("And when I exhale the smoke I let the problems float/When I blow out a cloud I let the drama go"). The inhale sounds over Alchemist's trippy beat and Evidence's show stealing verse make this necessary for any smoke playlist.

11. Wiz Khalifa - Still Blazin

Album: Kush & Orange Juice (2010)

Off of his best mixtape Kush & OJ which skyrocketed him to fame and a record deal, "Still Blazin" is a reggae inspired song, half sung and half smoothly rapped over by Khalifa. "Why can't everyone just smoke like me? Just get up out my face and let me roll my weed." Every stoner feels like this at some point given that marijuana is still illegal and still frowned upon, despite it's beneficial medical uses. After seeing Wiz twice in concert, this song get the venue the smokiest.

12. N.O.R.E. - Married to Marijuana

Album: Unreleased (1997)

Another song personifying Marijuana as a woman, this time by N.O.R.E. of Capone-N-Noreaga who is deeply in love with Mary Jane. ("Smoke you out during intercourse") Sampling Al Green's "Something" the echoing beat is perfect for Noreaga's flow as he breaks down how his weed is more important than any chick. The song is unreleased but can be found on the internet with some work but it's worth it because it's Noreaga at his best! His new album Student of the Game is out now and if you haven't heard his collaboration with Large Professor yet you sleepin! 

13. Method Man - Tical 

Album: Tical (1994)

Method Man and Redman are not ashamed to label themselves weed aficionados and on Method Man's title track to his debut album he let it be known. The average listener might think "Tical" is just another word for weed, but it actually refers to a blunt that has been rolled with syrup or honey and than smoked (which makes for a great experience). "Tical" let all the John Doe's know that Method Man's "on some shit" and if you smoke Tical you will be too. 

14. Kid Cudi - Marijuana 

Album: Man on the Moon, Vol. II (2010)

While Man on the Moon 2 stood nowhere near it's predecessor, "Marijuana" was one of the tracks that stood out further proving that Cudder was an avid smoker. Oddly enough around the time of it's release he quit smoking and put out an awful rock album. Maybe if he started smoking again he could go back to what fans liked about his early mixtapes, but with his last few releases I don't see it happening anytime soon. 

15. Devin The Dude - Doobie Ashtray

Album: Just Tryin' Ta Live (2002)

Devin the Dude has a long relationship with Mary Jane and all you need to do is look at his albums to see that. Devin The Dude took the singing/rapping style of weed raps and made it his signature. Simply put, without Devin The Dude there would be no Wiz Khalifa or Kid Cudi. "Doobie Ashtray" is a simple story about someone taking the last doobie out of his ashtray but it's remarkably catchy and unforgettable. Just Tryin' Ta Live remains one of Devin's best albums to date. The picture to the right is a picture of Devin's glorious doobie ashtray and it's clear why someone would take one of those fat doobies! 

16. Three 6 Mafia - Stay High 

Album: The Most Known Unknown (2005)

Academy Award-winning rap group Three 6 Mafia (still feels weird to say), have many songs about weed and with Juicy J's recent come back they have certainly capitalized on it. "Where's Da Bud" is a contender for their best but who could forget about Three 6 Mafia's biggest hit "Stay High" which made their album go platinum. It was changed to "Stay Fly" in the radio edit but stoners rejoice in the song's original message—getting blazed. The memorable chorus and the only notable verses from Young Buck and Juicy J make this worthy of a spot on the list.

17. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Gin & Juice 

Album: Doggystyle (1993)

There's no way I can make a list of weed songs without Snoop Dogg. The 41-year-old rapper has been burning trees since his first album Doggystyle 20 years ago under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg. His second single "Gin and Juice" is his biggest hit to date and is one of the best rap songs to come from the 90s. Everything from the funky death row era beat by Dr. Dre to the classic chorus, will have every party nodding their head and singing the words. Perfect song for cruising around in the whip and "smoking indo". Tell Snoop Lion I want Snoop Dogg back. 

18. Redman - How to Roll a Blunt

Album: Whut? Thee Album (1992)

Redman took the time out to make an instructional song on "how to roll a blunt". People who have been doing it for years consider it a craft in it's own right and Redman makes it entertaining as hell. Everything from purchasing a Philly ("not the city you silly punk"), to parting it down the middle (no razor needed), Redman continues to tell weed stories throughout the song to enjoy when you're "fucked up" and "high as hell".

19. Busta Rhymes - Get High Tonight

Album: When Dizaster Strikes (1997)

What if I told you Busta Rhymes made a song about getting high sampling KC and the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight"? Well "Get High Tonight" is his spin on it with a funny chorus replacing the lyrics with "buy a nickel bag/smoke a little lye/get high tonight". His unorthodox flow is Busta's signature which contrasts perfectly with the chorus. 

20. Scarface - Mary Jane

Album: The Untouchable (1997)

Legendary southern rapper scarface has been in the game for over 20 years telling street narratives and when he made "Mary Jane" in 1997 what could have been an overused concept was flipped on it's head into an insightful look onto the social conflicts of marijuana legalization. In the song he recognizes the cruel irony that cigarettes and alcohol are legal but kill people, yet marijuana is a completely natural drug that helped  him through his depression and has had zero related deaths. While he wrote it high on weed, he recorded it on ecstasy (weed's not the only drug available to rappers) but whatever drug he was on, the result came out beautiful. 

21. Outkast - Crumblin Erb

Album: Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

Outkast isn't a group exactly known for specially making weed music like Cypress Hill or Method Man or Redman but there's no denying they're one of the most influential rap groups of all time. On the surface the song looks like an attempt to join the trend of weed songs, but upon closer listening Andre 3000's verse details the struggles of a hustler dealing with poverty and paranoia.  Big Boi's contrasts 3 stacks with a rapid verse about living a life of violence and the relaxing chorus comments on our short time on this earth, so why not crumble some 'erb?

22. Cam'ron - Purple Haze

Album: Diplomatic Immunity (2003)

Cam'ron and Juelz Santana were untouchable in the early 2000's and put Harlem on the map with their unique flows and sample-heavy sound. The Diplomats' first album Diplomatic Immunity features an insane amount of hits but "Purple Haze" showed why Cam was the leader of the pack and has put out some of the best rap albums in recent years. "Purple Haze" was another perfectly sampled track for Killa Cam to destroy. 

23. Kendrick Lamar - Blow My High (Member's Only)

Album: Section.80 (2011)

I know a lot of people would say "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" but I sparked way too many blunts to Section.80 to not have it on this list. Kendrick's ode to Aaliyah, Pimp C and Left Eye and also a message to those who gossip not to blow his high. I also recommend good kid, m.A.A.d city, which was my favorite album of last year. 

24. Dr. Dre -Xxplosive

Album: 2001 (1999)

This is another gem from 2001 that I couldn't ignore. This could be on the list just for the BANGING instrumental and chorus, but Kurupt's verse about bitches and Nate Dogg's verse about "chronic leaves" flow over it perfectly. The song is half fucking bitches and half smoking that bomb shit, you can't go wrong with that. 

25. 50 Cent - High All The Time

Album: Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003)

50 Cent knew how to make legendary hooks matching the best beats courtesy of Dr. Dre. His debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' is one of the best rap albums in recent years and singles like "Many Men (Wish Death Upon Me)" and "In Da Club" he proved he was an authentic street rapper but could bring his music to mainstream appeal. His ability to sing his own hooks and make them catchy was displayed on "High All The Time" where 50 says he doesn't need any alcohol because he's already high all the time which is a valid point which some stoners live by. 

Well, that's all the songs I have for this list and it's a playlist which hasn't failed me. That being said, comment if you agree with it or you think I missed some. Feel free to smoke one to this list. And remember...

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