Vintage Goods: Flava In Your Ear Remix x Craig Mack

That’s cold how they cropped my man out the whole picture right here.

Puff Daddy was hitting his best just-happy-to-be-here jig throughout this whole video.  This was back when a Puff Daddy assist on a track lended a unique energy and before people blamed Sean Combs for every artist on Bad Boy who ever failed.  The fact is, especially during the time this remix came out, a single track from Bad Boy’s goldmine could change your life forever and get you heard by people who wouldn’t care otherwise.  The fact that Craig Mack was given a lineup of LL Cool J, Rampage, Busta Rhymes and last but not least The Notorious B.I.G. is almost payment enough.  “Flava In Your Ear (Remix)” is one of those remixes that make you forget the original song altogether.  Classic verses on here.

“…Don’t be mad, UPS is hiring…”  Shade.

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Hip-Hop & Haterade: Why It’s Ruining The Game

The evolution of social media did a lot of great things for hip-hop.  It gave us social forums for discussing music, free exchange of media, and unprecedented access to the artists themselves.  The flipside of that coin is that the artists also have access to us.  We “get” to read their meltdowns and hissy-fits and dumbest thoughts imaginable via Twitter.  We get to look on as the likes of Wale and Benzino respond to criticism of their work, which, depending on the viewer, may taint their ability to even respect the artist for his or her art.  Any perusal of a few videos on YouTube would show you that the comments people tend to leave on even the most obscure videos are sometimes overly critical of the artist, whether it stems from actual hate or boredom.

What comes from this, then, is the general assumption by the common simpleton that any negative opinion or even constructive criticism of an artist (or even athlete or other celeb) is “hatin'”.  While this was something previously practiced by delusional stans, it’s now being adopted by the artists themselves when responding to any perceived negativity.  “You’re just mad because you’re broke” is now the response if someone doesn’t like the product you are paid to put out for public consumption.  You’re right…I am broke…which is why I have every right to talk sh*t about the trash mixtape you put out in the hopes people will pay good money for your trash CD.  I’m broke…okay, but how does that explain the Burlington Coat Factory music you just tried to pass off as the new hot sh*t?  Artists have lost the accountability to the art.  Many of them feel they have only an obligation to slap together what will be marketable and get all kinds of props and adulation strictly because it’s them.  Nah.

The stans are even worse than the artists themselves with it.  You can have a perfectly valid and well-thought-out reason for not liking their favorite artist and the stan will sit there and listen to your entire monologue only to conclude with: “yeah…you hatin'”.  Unbelievable.  Player-hating used to be a valid term.  Haters were those who weren’t in the game so they actively envied those that were.  These days, hating is used to describe any negative thought that the accused levels against anyone who is more well known or better paid than they are.  Hating is used as a copout when a stan can’t logically state their argument.  In closing, everything isn’t hate…sometimes you’re just wack.

Now THIS is hatin’:


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Vintage Goods: Fast Life x Kool G Rap f. Nas

To be honest, this is one of the most unintentionally funny music videos in hip-hop history.  Check out G Rap in the beginning hitting the treadmill with boots on.  He’s walking at an old man’s pace, yet still manages to break a fictitious sweat, which of course makes it necessary for the French maid/model to come in with a towel for him.  Later on, you see him lounging in a luxurious jacuzzi with, of all things, a Black & Mild in his mouth.  This is why we can’t have nice things.  Then you have a scene where G Rap and Nas are walking toward one another on opposing staircase, one in a black tux and one in a white.  I guess I get why this would sound dope in the director’s mind, but why wouldn’t Nas or G Rap at any point think this might end up looking sort of…funny?  I don’t know, you be the judge.  Then at the end of this mess, you have whoever sang the awful vocals on the song doing the “just happy to be here” two-step of all time while singing at the casino.  I’m outta here.  Oh, but aside form the video and the vocals, the actual raps were top shelf.

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The Kennedy Experiment: Why Dom’s Dope

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Dom Kennedy seems to be the type of artist people either love or hate.  Either you can get into it and accept the music for what it is or you’re expecting more out of it than what was intended.  That may not seem like a fair evaluation of everyone’s feelings, but when it comes to Dom, it really seems to come down to appreciating the simplicity or wanting more than what’s being offered.

People’s refusal to accept Dom’s music reminds me of hip-hop’s refusal to accept gangsta rap from the west coast.  Dom came along at a time when the west coast wasn’t considered a major factor in hip-hop and truth be told, it still really isn’t.  After The Game seemed to fade off into name-dropping dementia and becoming impossible to like, Dom and Nipsey Hussle came along to bring some of the flavor back, hitting the mixtape scene, which was the new frontier for hip-hop.https://i2.wp.com/abovegroundmagazine.com/images/photographs/Dom+Kennedy+DK1-350x350.jpg?resize=280%2C280

Dom isn’t a battle rapper, nor does he produce mind-blowing freestyles, but that isn’t what he’s here for.  Dom’s here to sell a certain lifestyle or feeling which you may not understand if you’re only listening to hip-hop as a lyrical analyst or if you could never get into west coast rap. There was a time when people didn’t accept NWA, but they’re now looked at as one of the most important rap groups in hip-hop history.  Dom represents a slightly less hectic vision of Los Angeles, more of the “Today Was A Good Day” Ice Cube than the “Steady Mobbin'” version.  Though it’s a reach to compare Dom to Cube exactly, you have to consider the regional appeal blended with the songwriting ability that takes his music beyond southern California.  Dom’s flow reminds me of Slick Rick in some ways; the sing-song melody he applies to some tracks and the ease and clarity of the delivery.

That being said, The Yellow Album is probably the project that’s most likely to make the critics believe…that is, if they’re willing to eat some humble pie.  I can honestly say that the things I complained about on the last project have been remedied on this one.  There’s a great balance of mellow and edgy and all of the features fit perfectly, with guests like Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar prospering but never overshadowing Dom on his own mixtape. 

 You can’t walk into a tapas restaurant expecting comfort food.  You can’t walk into a Foot Locker and expect to find dress shoes.  Expecting mindblowing lyricism from an MC like Dom Kennedy is just foolish, but every MC isn’t here to supply you with the same things.  That would be boring.  What you will find is an expert ability to write very complete songs that have mass appeal while managing to still come off as authentic and not reaching for mainstream acceptance.  Dom’s music for the most part is fun…and isn’t fun where hip-hop started?

Menace Beach x Dom Kennedy

Grind’n x Dom Kennedy

Designer Sh*t x Dom Kennedy

Locals Only x Dom Kennedy

1997 x Dom Kennedy

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Vintage Goods: Sugar Hill x AZ

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I just read the tracklist for Nas’ Life Is Good LP and it’s really sad that AZ isn’t going to appear.  For some reason, I was sure I would see a AZ feature…don’t know if it had been rumored or what, but I had a feeling about it.  Nas did manage to put Swizz Beatz on a track though, which is beyond me.  The man has “beats” in his name yet people insist on letting him slither into the recording booth (Pusha T also released a single with Swizz this week) to record pure stomachache.  But you know me…when the record drops, I’ll give it an unbiased ear and we’ll take it from there.

But this post isn’t about Nas, who just seems to be allergic to win these days, it’s about AZ.  AZ kicked the door in on Nas’ “Life’s A Bitch” and outshined his rhyme partner by a mile, then went on to put out this classic single, with an assist from Ms. Jones…this was before R&B hooks started becoming obligatory and annoying.  The beat just rides and AZ’s flow is impeccable; perfect joint for the summer.

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Audio: Accidental Murderers x Nas f. Rick Ross

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Wow, as soon as I write some thoughts about the Nas situation, he drops off a new heat-rock off the upcoming album.  This joint definitely is clearing any doubts that Nas may have some serious product on his hands.  I can’t help but wonder if Ross actually managed to give Nas a run for his money on this, though.  Judge for yourself.

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Audio: Fort Apache x Camp LO & Ski Beatz

Just got ahold of some new heat from Camp Lo and Ski Beatz, an EP entitled Fort Apache.  If it’s anything like their 80 Blocks From Tiffany mixtape with Pete Rock, it should be a solid listen.  I’m always checking for Camp Lo’s unique lyrics and flow and coupled with some superior production…nothing but win.

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Album Review: Rugby Thompson x Smoke DZA

Smoke DZA knows what he’s doing.  Rugby Thompson can’t be described as anything but a complete project.  One of the best parts about the album is the consistency. 

The entire album is produced by Harry Fraud, a producer whose work I’ve been paying a lot of attention to recently.  The album has a cohesion to it but each track stands individually with its own unique sound even still.  I miss the days of rappers primarily working with one producer.  This was back when the executive producer listed on the liner notes was actually a producer, not the CEO of the artist’s label or someone not directly involved with the overall sound.  The samples used are well-placed and the sound is multi-layered, the type of stuff that’s worthy of an instrumental version of the album.

DZA shows some artistic growth on “Playground Legend” while still giving his longtime listeners what they want on joints like “Baleedat” with Curren$y or “Rivermonts”.  There are no club bangers or “for the ladies” tracks, as DZA knows that’s not really his lane.  He just makes the music and allows the chips to fall where they may.   

The only song I don’t see replaying is “Kenny Powers”, a track that comes off dated and not in a good way.  The irritating nature of the song is eclipsed by the overall replay value of the album, with almost everything else on it being prime for repeat play in the ride.  The chemistry is just right on collaborations with Action Bronson (“Turnbuckle Music”), Domo Genesis & Schoolboy Q (“Ashtray”) and the posse joint “Lo Horsemen” featuring Lo Life associates Meyhem Lauren, Nym Lo and Thirstin Howl III, which features rapid-fire bars over a killer guitar loop.  

We live in a time where it takes a lot for an Internet-savvy hip-hop fan to shell out real money for an album.  This isn’t the fan’s fault, though.  Times are hard and label folks are hard-pressed to financially back any album that doesn’t have a Chris Brown assist on it.  Luckily, this one got under the radar and DZA was able to give fans exactly what they have come to expect without compromising his ethics in the process.  Respect due.

F*ck Ya Mother x Smoke DZA f. Sean Price

Rivermonts x Smoke DZA

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