Archive for April, 2016


Bas - Too High To Riot

Bas – Too High to Riot: Queens, New York has always been very generous to the Hip Hop game in terms of producing great rap artists and Bas is no exception. Kicking off his career only 5 years ago, Bas has already released two albums with top 20 peak chart positions in the US, the latter one being his best work up to the present. Too High to Riot is too well-constructed of a project to be overlooked and the 12 songs in it lack neither collectivity nor harmony. Part of the tracklist looks like it’s taken right out of a Breaking Bad episode as Bas establishes chemicals/drugs as one of the main themes of the album, with “Methylone” and “Dopamine” being its main contributors. A member of both Dreamville Records and Interscope Records, Bas somehow managed to keep his tracks in conformity even though working with almost 10 different producers with a variety of musical characteristics. Abbas Hamad is only 28 years old but his mature rapping style is certainly promising going forward.

Best 5: Methylone, Matches, Night Job, Ricochet, Black Owned Business

BJ The Chicago Kid - In My Mind

BJ the Chicago Kid – In My Mind: Mostly known for his flair for unique R&B/soul hooks in rap songs, it was already time for Bryan James Sledge to take the next step and ditch his unfortunate reputation as a “guest appearance”. In My Mind is only the second studio album of the 31-year-old Chicago native, who’s been around for more than 15 years, making records and working with the best artists in the business. The album features some of them including Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T. and Chance the Rapper, however none of them succeeds in overshadowing the main act, BJ the Chicago Kid, who takes the listeners to a soul-themed journey full of love, sex, affection and passion. BJ is at his best when he doesn’t go out looking for new musical adventures and sticks to such concepts he’s most familiar with and In My Mind is undoubtedly the peak of his career so far. This is definitely an early candidate for the best R&B album of the year.

Best 5: Church, The Resume, Shine, Home, Turnin’ Me Up

macklemore-this-unruly-mess-ive-made

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made: The regular listeners/fans have this bad habit of immediately starting to compare the new to the artist’s previous works whenever a new project is launched. The latest album of the dynamic Seattle duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis suffers from this illogical fan reaction, although being one of the finest albums to be released this year. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made succeeds in being both mainstream and underground, and does a marvellous job of gathering old school and new school artists together to serve as a “Hip Hop for everyone” album. New bloods YG, Chance the Rapper and Anderson .Paak have the privilege to be a part of the same project as the legendary acts DJ Premier, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, KRS-One and Grandmaster Caz. It is safe to say that while recording the tracks, the authentic duo had the intention of proving to the world that they were the whole shopping mall, not just a “Thrift Shop”.

Best 5: Light Tunnels, Downtown, Buckshot, Growing Up, Need to Know

Anderson Paak - Malibu

Anderson .Paak – Malibu: What a way to show the world that you are not someone’s protege, but in fact you are an act on your own. Let’s be honest, most of us had no idea on who the heck this Anderson guy was before Dr. Dre’s Compton and even then, people were surprised that he was featured in no less than six songs even though he was terrific in every single one of them. Brandon Paak Anderson hadn’t had much commercial success before Malibu, although he had released three studio albums, a bunch of EPs and made countless guest appearances. Apparently this had nothing to do with a lack of talent as the California native showcases his rapping skill set, also adding a tad of R&B and soul to almost each of the 16 songs. .Paak both raps and sings throughout 60 minutes, which could have easily turned out to be a disastrous call if the artist hadn’t had the necessary tools to accomplish it which is definitely not the case in Malibu. You know you are kind of a big deal when you get 9th Wonder, Madlib and Hi-Tek to work for the same album.

Best 5: The Season / Carry Me, Put Me Thru, Am I Wrong, Without You, The Dreamer

Sylvan LaCue - Far From Familiar

Sylvan LaCue – Far From Familiar: As Sylvan -formerly known as QuESt- likes to point out, this is not his debut studio album as he prefers to call it a “project”. It damn sure feels like a major debut, though. The Hip Hop artist from 305 states that he “feels like his most self” after switching from QuESt to his given name and Far From Familiar is a living proof of that. As he always does, Sylvan continues to take us on his real life journey and shows us what’s happening behind the scenes. We witness his struggles, his desires and the transformation process he experiences that is not just about a stage name, but is about finding himself and his path. The album reveals that although Sylvan’s only 25, the things he’s gone through made himself and his music more mature than his peers and their works. Fair to assume that the Miami native is going to get some criticism for “singing too much” instead of rapping but the people who are actually familiar with Sylvan and his style would know this has nothing to do with going mainstream or selling out. Sylvan LaCue is just a guy trying to make a living by doing the thing he loves. And he is going nowhere but up.

Best 5: Heavenly, Fall From Grace, Emeryville, Caravan 04, Back to the City

Top 10: 2Pac Songs

Posted: 02/04/2016 in Hip Hop, Lists

The worst thing about making a list of 2Pac songs: It’s extremely hard to choose when there are so many terrific songs and almost certain that you’re going to leave some of them out. The best thing about making a list of 2Pac songs: You can never go wrong with the guy. No one’s going to scream at you like, “Hey, that’s a really bad song!” about one of the picks on the list.

Next 10 (in no particular order): How Do You Want It, I Get Around, Ratha Be Ya Nigga, Keep Ya Head Up, Tradin’ War Stories, California Love, Krazy, Me Against the World, Do For Love, All Eyez On Me

2Pac

10. Brenda’s Got a Baby: “I hear Brenda’s got a baby / But Brenda’s barely got a brain,” what a way to kick off that hit. It’s one of the first examples to display Pac’s brilliant portrayals of socio-cultural issues in the 90s. His fictional character Brenda gives birth to a baby when she’s only 12 and Pac takes you through her journey in a way that no one else could. You feel the pain and the ordeal Brenda’s going through deep in your heart while you listen to the track, even though having no connection on any account with the desperate little girl and her newborn baby. And the fact that 2Pac was only 20 years old when this one was recorded makes the song even more impressive than it already is.

9. Dear Mama: The majority of people, mostly the so-called fans among others, tend to see 2Pac as an iconic figure for Thug Life and gangsterism, but as real 2Pac followers all around the world, we know that he was much more than that. This song is the best evidence of the existence of Makaveli’s touching emotional side. While it’s hard to know whether it was the love for his mother or the hatred towards his father had given him the needed motivation to write this one, it’s undoubtedly among his best works. Dear Afeni Shakur, thank you for giving birth to the greatest artist I’ve ever seen.

8. Holla at Me: An odd pick, right? This one has been on my all-time list since the first time I had listened to it. It obviously does not give you the “Hit ‘Em Up Effect”, but this still is a perfectly constructed diss song with marvelous punchlines and a crazy hook that gets you addicted just like that. It goes out to Stretch, one of Pac’s ex-homies, whom the West coast rapper blamed as one of the traitors who set him up in 1994’s shooting. Nanci Fletcher’s sings “You better beware where you lay / We better not find where you stay” to suggest beefing with Tupac is never a good idea, which usually ends either with someone on the other side getting shot or beautifully outraged diss records like this one.

7. Hail Mary: Always been a fan favorite, “Hail Mary” has to have made every single list of 2Pac songs in history. The song reflects all the things Pac has been going through, which is amazing and terrifying at the same time. The lyrics point to the fact that the rapper is desperate, angry, and tired but he also sounds fearless and absolutely sure that he has nothing to lose, which makes him quite scary. “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me / Revenge is like the sweetest joy next to getting pussy,” isn’t one of his famous lines for nothing. It means “I’m coming for you,” and we know that no one, and I mean no one can stand a chance against Makaveli in his prime.

6. Ambitionz Az a Ridah: The first song of my all-time favorite album has 2Pac like the straight up, real G that he was. He tears the track apart, thanks to his three monster verses with massive punchlines, pure gangsta talk and no fucks to give. “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” is a spectacular proof of how technically and lyrically skilled Tupac Amaru Shakur was at that young age of 25, which unfortunately was the oldest he got. Whenever it’s dark and I have to walk home, I put this song on to feel as strong as he was, even though deep down I know no man ever lived had a more distant relationship with fear than 2Pac.

5. Ghetto Gospel: You can actually feel how young 2Pac was at the time he recorded this song by paying attention to his voice. This is the perfect combination of teenager Pac’s rapping style, which got a little sharpened up as he got older, with his mature lyrics that are way ahead of his age, his time and his elders. Pac raps about politics, race wars, poverty, and summarizes his stance on all of those subjects by singing, “I refuse to be a role model / I set goals, take control, drink out my own bottles,” which also sums up Tupac as a man and as a public figure. Sir Elton John’s extraordinary hook is so harmonious with this confident youngster, it’s like a slap on the face to those who think rap music can not be associated with anything else than streets and gangsters.

4. Life Goes On: Back in the days when predicting your own death and rapping about it wasn’t a trend, 2Pac was actually the first one to do it. “Life Goes On” is not a simple song, it’s about getting used to the deaths around you, making your peace with the concept of living and dying, and getting prepared for your moment. It’s about learning not to fear death, but welcome it with open arms. This song is also a solid piece of evidence that Pac knew his moment was getting closer and closer. And he was never afraid of embracing it.

3. Changes: Predicting a black President for the United States? Yeah, Pac did that, too. This posthumous song is more than enough to tell you why this 5’9” L.A. guy is so important for Hip Hop culture and people affiliated to it. “Changes” is a song where Tupac not only points out what’s wrong with the society, but he also offers logical solutions to all the problems out there, which after 20 years, most communities still struggle to apply. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that 2Pac was in fact, a genius. So unfortunate that we still see no changes, all we see is racist faces.

2. Hit ‘Em Up: In terms of musical quality and lyrical proficiency, angry 2Pac is the best 2Pac you can get. He was the only artist out there to use 5 gun shots straight through his body as a motivation, smile first and then record the best diss track ever made in the history of music. It would literally take hundreds of hours to analyze each and every line of the song, but all those lines and words had one thing is common: They were fearless. No nicknames, no implications, no nothing. Real G’s don’t need any of that and Pac was as real as they get. They really felt the wrath of a menace, he hit ‘em up!

1. Only God Can Judge Me: So what can be better than the best diss track to ever be recorded? May it be a song that is so significant for the history of Hip Hop that it was covered by thousands of artists? Or a song so powerful that its name became one of the most used tattoo designs all around the world after it was released? “Only God Can Judge Me” is Hip Hop at its finest, and it symbolizes how far rap music can go. It’s also like a summary of 2Pac’s life. His strengths, his weaknesses, his beliefs, his sorrows, his dreams and everything else you need to know about the guy are all in those 5 minutes. Rest in peace, Tupac. You are and always will be a hero.