2009: The Last Year

Best 2009 Song To Hear At Your Job: "I Hate My Job" by Cam'Ron. This just may apply to the people who darn near slave over a kitchen sink, a cubicle with papers towered overhead, or a laptop while taking notes during a lecture. Killa Cam provides some humor on our journey to success (or for some our journey out of debt) with stories of working with jerks, making money for child support, and even failing to get a job. It ended up making my job not seem so bad.

Watch the hilarious video here.


Best 2009 Song That Always Made Me Feel Better: "Roses (Pt. I & II)" by Georgia Anne Muldrow (ft. Mos Def on Pt. I). It had to be her powerful voice, along with the grand piano, along with the most inspirational rhymes by Mos, that always cheered me up whenever I was pissed (and that was very often this year). All I wanted to do after hearing either songs was smile :-)

Watch Part I here. Watch Part II here.

Best 2009 Song That Highlighted The Average Woman: "Baby Phat '09" by Skillz ft. Colin Munroe. I love the fact that this song was remade because the original "Baby Phat" cut by De La Soul was awesome! Skillz came through with his skilled rhyme, and Colin Munroe swooned me with his lyrics, making me appreciate my figure! I wish it got the same love I gave it because this remake was an instant gem this past fall.

Listen and/or download here.

Best 2009 Song I Only Like When I'm Drunk: "On to the Next One" by Jay-Z ft. Swizz Beatz. This is for all my folks who like to party on Thirsty Thursdays!!! This song has the perfect sample/hook to hear when you try to celebrate the end of the week... unless you have class or work the next day, but when will that ever stop people?

Listen here (but only when drunk; otherwise it sucks).

Best 2009 Comeback Song: "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" by Whitney Houston. Well, really any of her songs released this year counts, but this particular song deeply stated she was back and here to stay. The emotional performance at the American Music Awards wasn't the best Whitney Houston performance, but what should we expect from someone who was a former drug abuser?

Learn to how to make a real comeback here.

Best 2009 Song I've Never Skipped: "Electric Love" by Vikter Duplaix. This is an R&B song that I consider a "universal song". I can enjoy it with every mood I'm in, and the song is good enough to whisk me away from the real world and just bask in the music.

Listen here over and over again!

Best 2009 Song With The Dopest Flow: "Exhibit C" by Jay Electronica. The entire hiphop song was fire, but this flow mashing himself with the highest spiritual figures and events was mind-blowing! The flow's below:

"They call me Jay Electronica,
Fuck that, call me Jay Elec-Hanukkah, Jay Elec-Yarmulke,
Jay Elec-Ramadaan, Muhammad Asalaamica,
RasoulAllah Supana Watallah through your monitor,
My uzi still weigh a ton, check your barometer,
I'm hotter than the motherfuckin' sun, check the thermometer,
I'm bringing ancient Mathematics back to modern Man,
My momma told me never throw a stone and hide your hand"


Listen AND check the flow here.

Best 2009 Song That Was Socially Relevant: "Bulletproof" by Raheem Devaughn ft. Ludacris. I'm not that big of a fan of this song, but this soulful ballad by Radio Raheem and Luda was the closest song that had anything to do with the current state of society, along with some good moral substance with it made the cut as the best of this year.

Watch the video here and relate.

Best 2009 Song That Was Totally Raw: "Stapleton Sex" by Ghostface Killah. I still listen to it and think of ways to make it a bad song - you know, say it's misogynistic, sexist, objectifies women, etc - but it's totally consensual and includes no cues of objectifying women or even calling them out of their names. But it took me forever to get past the raunchy lyrics, let alone the video!

Watch this nasty @$$ video here.

Best 2009 Song Dedicated To An Icon: "Empire State of Mind Pt. II" by Alicia Keys. The first one with Jay-Z was nice, but the second with Alicia Keys on the solo-tip is much, much better. It actually gives greater and better-written detail to the city's highlights and makes you appreciate this iconic city so much more. After hearing this song, I feel like packing my things up and going to NYC in 2010, broke and all!

Watch a live performance of it here.

Thanks to YouTube, iHeartRadio, NahRight, FMWJ, Daily Stab, Daily Motion, and 2DopeBoyz for the audio/video links.

from ACRN: the Alicia Keys Review


Alicia Keys:The Element of Freedom
[J Records; 2009] 
Rating: 7/10 
By Star Watson, Staff Writer
December 18, 2009

Twelve-time Grammy winning R&B artist Alicia Keys has been struggling to put out something greater than her first two albums. Her latest, The Element of Freedom, can be seen as an attempt to broaden, or free (for lack of better words), her abilities as an artist. Unfortunately, the album could just come off as all over the place and a mere compilation of Keys' talents.
She’s going into a new sound - like a live band sound but with random songs where she goes with some sort of electric vocalization. She takes steps towards fusing the sounds of Isaac Hayes and Beyonce, both whom she has collaborated with once in her career (Songs in A Minorand The Element of Freedom). In The Element of Freedom, it's almost confusing to hear “Try Sleeping with A Broken Hear," which sounds like it's from Smokey Robinson circa 1965, and then hear “Doesn’t Mean Anything," which sounds like it could be performed by any current R&B artist.
One thing Keys maintains as her staple in the genre is her status as a social and political force with her worldly tune “How It Feels to Fly." Her lyrics speak of the ever-so-basic saying “life’s a journey," but fortunately she does provide an uplifting feeling with the choir singing in the background of this song. Her version of “Empire State of Mind” was far better than Jay-Z’s version, focusing more on the highlights of New York City and less of NYC’s pop culture icons composed in Jay-Z’s half-assed rhymes.
The love songs on The Element of Freedom are touching, but basic enough for her teenage audience. “Distance and Time” is a song about being in a long distance relationship, while “Love is Blind” is a song about how having feelings toward a person may overshadow his or her flaws. These topics are not typically discussed much in the R&B genre nowadays, at least in the manner Alicia Keys gives to her audience.
Keys, however, does have songs on The Element of Freedom that will keep fans listening. “Love Is My Disease” and “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” are two songs that are bound to inspire tears for those who can relate. “That’s How Strong My Love Is” gets honorable mention because it’s the one song on which Keys doesn’t overshoot her vocals.
Although Keys over-complicated her vocals on The Element of Freedom, her songwriting skills ease the pain. The album may not grow on listeners until the holidays wear off, when a lot of couples seem to call it quits and Keys' songs about heartbreak hit closer to home.


--- 
Photo credit: Amazon.com

Just Thought I Add More Fun for the Holidays...

See, this is why I love Failblog:


Lesson of the day: If you can't sing, put the mic down - not upside down!

Cell Therapy 030

After hearing R. Kelly's new album "Untitled", I've come to this one-sentence conclusion:

His music is young enough for him to become a repeat offender!

That is all.

Can The World Get Some Club Music? Thanks Kelis, David Guetta and Will.I.Am.!

Every time I hear this song, I feel like going to a nightclub.... more like a rave.

Shortly after the announcement December 2nd that Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas signed Nas's ex-wife Kelis to his new record label, Will.I.Am Music Group, she drops a new single titled "Acapella." Under Interscope Records, Kelis is working on a new album for 2010, but should she stick to raising her newborn baby before jumping back into the music biz?

Well, "Acapella" is definitely no sleeper. It sure as heck isn't a song that should go un-played in the nightlife. The beginning of the song clearly states that, with its thumping bass and created noise in the background. And then when the pipes come in, get ready to nod that head. Once Kelis delivers, you're in a musical bliss. Producer David Guetta knows his dance music, his hits "Love is Gone" with Chris Willis, "When Love Takes Over" with Kelly Rowland, and "Sexy Chick" with Akon should ring a bell.

I did expect a smarter approach from Kelis; maybe a softer range would've made it a better listen because it sounded like she was straining during the chorus. Nevertheless, I can tell with the mind, and hopefully direction, of Will.I.Am that this was a good move for the R&B vocalist.

I also like the lyrics for this song, although no one who will listen to this song will pay attention. Any song explaining how someone completes you makes me happy, especially to such happy music. So not only am I dancing to a great tune, I'm dancing to a positive message!

I really see a bright future for Kelis if she actually sticks to bringing soul back to Club music this time around. Her last go at the music business (between the time of post-Bossy and her marriage to Nas) wasn't so successful. She has the voice that is bold enough for the club and the song-writing skills to make her music fun. And with the direction R&B is going in general, I find it fabulous that if she stays in this direction she'll be way ahead of her R&B colleagues - like she used to be.

Her new single is making a mark in the Dance/Club genre, but not as much of a mark with the R&B/Soul industry. Of course "Acapella" isn't "Milkshake," or even "Bossy," with her usual female-empowerment-through-the-body agenda, but it is good. Although her voice comes off as shaky, and after a few listens the song gets old, Kelis is definitely ready to take on the music industry.

Star's Grade: B+

Enjoy and dance below!

What Do A Panther, A Football, and A Block All Have in Common?

So, I'm a huge fan of cartoons (old ones, 90s and older), and since I'm a 21 year old college student, it is actually no surprise whatsoever. One thing I think no one appreciates about these cartoons are its musical scores! The thing I loved more than the social commentary in a cartoon (and yes, I loved it as a child too) was the music that played as the protagonist and antagonist battled each other. There are many cartoon productions that created great scores, but I decided to show you three of my favorite scores from the cartoon field:

1. Pink Panther: Duh! Need I say more? Henry Mancini provided the best theme song of all time with the Pink Panther Theme Song. Although the theme song is based on a Latin classic "Pantera Mambo" by La 33, Mancini did his thing and made millions off this song. He had to know this jazz rendition of "Pantera Mambo" would suit the Pink Panther very well. But besides that, what people didn't really peep was how his sound effects for the Pink Panther were just as jazzy as the musical score; it was at some points a part of it too!

So watch here and reminisce how innovative this score was for cartoon productions (and of course, this includes the song):


2. Hey Arnold: My boy Arnold, the football head, had the swagger of all swagger amongst the 90s cartoon characters. Even though he had the room of everyone's dreams, the producers and Jim Lang put together some great music to match his persona. Hey Arnold's theme song was dope, but I always looked forward to the end because it was just as enjoyable as the entire episode. And although their were different episodes, the same ol' theme song sounded just as good as the last time!

Featuring a slideshow of the coolest cartoon crew of our time, the best ending credit song "Stompin'" by a great guitarist, and overall musician, Jim Lang! Watch below:


3. The Peanuts: Vince Guaraldi knew what he was doing when he did the score for the Peanuts. Let alone the presence-knowing theme song, the music was so fitting for the time period of the Peanuts cartoon and comic strip. Although Charlie Brown was a major Blockhead, the music was definitely something outside the box for cartoons. If only the characters could dance...

This video has the infamous repetitive dance motions of Charlie Brown's crew and the song "Linus and Lucy" from Guaraldi's musical score of Charlie Brown here:


Cell Therapy 029

So last night, as I typed in imeem.com as an attempt to listen to my Josh Groban playlist, I get redirected to the MySpace Music page. WTF IS UP WITH THAT?????

I begin perusing the MySpace site, along with failed but blind attempts at visiting the Imeem site (not to mention both of their Twitter pages), and found out through their Twitters that MySpace has acquired Imeem, and no one can use Imeem's stuff, including their embedded playlists, videos, songs, etc.

Like OMG!

So I gathered these thoughts and new information in my head and came to the ultimate urban conclusion that Imeem sold the F*** out of the online music community to the ultimate creep-infested MySpace!

Imeem sold out. Imeem just up and left its users - no email, press release, no warning, no nothing - like a dead beat. There were no news of negotiations even, just nothing!

We few, we happy few who looked past the 30-second previews and five-second ad interruptions Imeem gave us are now disappointed as we can't accept this change of scenery. The ease of embedding music onto our blogs, Facebook, MySpace calmed our nerves because people knew those songs and videos and playlists were awesome (not to mention it made the user look hella smart and tech savvy)! We enjoyed listening to a playlist full of all the music our favorite artists made. We loved singing along to songs with the lyrics someone posted in the comment section of the song's page. And we were always flattered to know whenever someone favorited our playlists.

So yes, I am an angry user of Imeem's online media service. Imeem and MySpace claim everything will be back to normal once Imeem transfers everything to MySpace...

THERE IS NOTHING NORMAL ABOUT MYSPACE!!!

As I make attempts at redo-ing my embedded music on this very blog, let alone other sites I used Imeem's services on, I cry. Not only because it's a lot of crap I put on this and other sites, but because the every song and playlist I remove tears out a piece of my music-loving soul.

*sniff sniff*

R.I.P. Imeem 2003-2009 (although MySpace ultimately killed you, you killed yourself by selling out)

John Mayer's Acoustics Not Enough For Battlefield Studies

The thing about John Mayer’s music is that he reminds everyone of utopianism, with his smooth and melodic plea for a place of peace. He reminds us that music can still be happy and peaceful, ever since he emerged in 2002 with Grammy Award-winning single “Your Body is a Wonderland”.

Mayer is most known for his skills on the guitar, more than any of his other abilities as a rock superstar. Anyone can appreciate his acoustic music, from bars to TV shows to weddings; well, let’s just say everywhere (even the Obama campaign used Mayer’s “Waiting for the World to Change” as his entrance music for his many speeches during the presidential election).

Well now John Mayer’s is back with his new album Battle Studies, but is it up to the cultural and political standards that’s been established by lovers of John Mayer?

His intro was neat because he started the same way an orchestra usually begins a concert, which symbolizes his show (this album) is about to begin. Then he goes into his music with an approach that if you play the album in the background of studying you may not notice much. But if you listen to this album as deeply as Mayer's music should be heard, then you'll peep something is not right.

Battlefield Studies is something people would enjoy at a bar, with its acoustics and Mayer’s smooth voice. However, with little to no songs of anti-war/pro-peace filling the air of town drunkards could harm (or, by a small chance, help) the atmosphere.

Actually his content doesn’t have much cultural significance to it compared to his past works, which is totally unexpected of Mayer. It is an album that drowns out his lyrics with his music. Instead, his approach to this album is one of loneliness and being heartbroken, that isn’t peaceful at all. So much for the fun times at the bar!

As usual, Mayer is phenomenal with the guitar in Battle Studies. He makes his dark and lonely side very easy to listen to, just as he’s done with all of his other music, except you can’t help but notice the songs with metaphors like death. However, he continues to mash his edgy guitar-playing skills with blues and pop with a touch of acoustic.

Best Song: “Assassin” only because it’s something different and counter to his theme. Plus he did a great job with the lyrics as well as the delivery.

Worst Song: “Crossroads” was a song originally done by Robert Johnson, a man who innovated music (period). I wasn’t looking for a new Robert Johnson, but I got residents who could play that solo better than Mayer did.

Star’s Grade: C

Cell Therapy 028

Writing about something you personally don't like takes a lot out of you! I definitely had to step outside of myself to make this piece work.

Clipse's Til The Casket Drops Stunts Group's Growth As Artists

Back with their new album, the Clipse’s new album gives us little to think of, except for the hints that they’ve changed as people – but not as artists. From their breakthrough song “Grindin’” to their release of several mix tapes off their project group The Re-Up Gang, the Clipse continues to put out music for the streets that ends up getting little success with the streets as well as the mainstream hiphop community. Even under the wing of the most successful hiphop producer Pharrell, this group has gain some sort of success but don’t get the kind of success that makes us miss this group when they don’t release a commercial album.

So they’re back with their third album Til The Casket Drops, and they fall short yet again.

They are still spitting that coke rap, which is barely seen in the rap industry anymore without some sort of substance behind it. However, The Clipse makes minimal efforts in their music to connect the drug game to any lessons in life. They did manage to grow with some substance in their music, which is about growth as an artist and person of celeb status, not about the drug stuff and dealer life that listeners need as a balance to understanding.

There’s no significant improvement in flow or style of rapping from the Clipse, which is expectant of anyone who hasn’t put out an album in three years with Hell Hath No Fury. Malice and Pusha T continue to flow like it their past mix tape series I Got It For Cheap, which doesn’t give the listeners much entertainment.

What saves them from this alum being a total flop is the production by the Neptunes. Of course Pharrell, with the wonderful resume’ he has – from the innovative “Grindin’” beat for the Clipse to his popular hiphop/rock/pure madness band N.E.R.D. – there is no way these fellows under Pharrell’s wing will have some lame beats. Unfortunately Pharrell provides them with production that is only good enough to keep heads bopping but insignificant. The other producers in this album, DJ Khalil and Sean C & LV, doesn’t give much either.

There are some great featured appearances in Til The Casket Drops, including Cam’Ron, Kanye West, and Pharrell, all of which provides some sort of push for them to seem like their stepping outside of their usual crack music. Unfortunately, these guest artists weren’t enough to keep them out of the streets, as well as keep sales for this new album up.

Best Song: A tie! “Doorman” was a cool little shout out to their former producer/manager who is currently in jail for robbery and gun charges, but still fell short since they had to stick to their guns of selling drugs. However, it’s a song outside of their usual, so it’s their most creative song. And this next song is chosen because I have a weak spot for an artist's revelation and confession in their music. “Life Change” had a nice hook on it, good moral standards, and some lyrics folks can actually think about. It’s about growing up after distractions from fame, forgiveness from Malice to his family, and changing their ways after a life of trouble. Why couldn’t the Clipse make that the theme for this album?

Worst Song: “Eyes on Me” is a failure to be a club banger. The beat is fun, Keri Hilson even did well for a guest artist, but it was just something unexpected from the Clipse. Not that unexpectancy disturbs me, because if any artist decides to step out of their comfort zone the song will go unusually hard. Instead, it’s just an awkward song about a night out with Pusha T and Malice, and ultimately irrelevant to the album’s direction.

Star's Grade: C-

Lyfe's New Single Discusses His Current Life's Issues

Speaking of laying everything on the table (read the blog on Tupac below for that), Lyfe Jennings releases his new single after his last album Phoenix from 2006. His new single, titled "If I Knew Then", is a song of Lyfe looking back on his life over the past few years since his debut classic album 268-192. With Lyfe, it's no secret that he was a convicted felon before he was a singer, and he started to use his talent that he learned in prison to get away from the street life he grew up in. However, and according to various news sites, he's been allowing fame to consume him just as hard by getting into fights at clubs and with his family. Oh, but "if he knew then what he knew now, he would be different and would slow down." That's the point if the song right? Of course.

Lyfe has done nothing but sing about his life all of his music career - life's/Lyfe's struggles, happiness, and lessons - and keeps his music connecting and relevant to all of his audience. From his debut single "Must Be Nice", he has sung to the world the lessons he learned and the mistakes he made. One thing I have learned from Lyfe is that with every mistake made is a lesson learned, so if Lyfe lived perfectly, there would be no Lyfe (which is indirectly tied to his purpose in the R&B world).

Lyfe stands out from the rest of the R&B superstars because he has never changed. From the beginning of his career when he sung about his lady staying with him while he was in jail, Lyfe puts out his life for the world to listen to and for everyone to learn from. He explains his struggles with his fame between the release of 268-192 and his next album on Phoenix, with a skit for just about every song. He established being the R&B voice that the hood needed, and he continues to carry that reputation in "If I Knew Then".

Although his confession of letting fame get to his head and foreseeing it may have prevented marital and personal problems, he became unconvincable when he tried to broaden it to his audience. Yeah, if people foresaw their consequences and thought things through before they acted then they wouldn't have made that mistake, but this song should've stayed a confession and a story about the consequences of a big, swelling head. People would've interpreted it and applied it to their own lives. Why do that? Because people do it already with other people's music.

And Lyfe is a singer who will tell you how to interpret his music, as he will boldly state the lessons learned throughout his songs, but he limits the imagination of his audience when he does that. So as he tells the audience how to listen to his music, he ruins the full fledge beauty of his music in the first place.

Star's Grade = B-

The Pac In Me


Now there have been many posts lately about Tupac (also known as 2Pac, Pac or Makaveli, but I only call him/spell out Tupac), about how his music was overrated or underrated, but no one could really go in on Tupac until they understood him and where he was coming from throughout his life. Now I'm not saying I know his intentions, but he surely spoke out the most in his music and he had the most uplifting messages for folks from every hood possible. What I am saying is that Tupac was the most misunderstood hiphop artist ever.

He put out the kind of music that only applied to people in those kind of situations. His main focus was his message, not how his message was interpreted, which wasn't his greatest asset but to his audience his message overpowered his lyrical abilities. Tupac was (and still is) able to best speak to the thugs and the hood in a radical and political way. He was able to speak consciously in a poetic manner to a people who were unfamiliar to any sort of art form other than rap. He provided thugs another way to express themselves although he wasn't a thug. Although emcees like Nas spoke to the hood as an intellectual, Tupac spoke to the hood in their language. And with that, more people from the hood related to him than Nas. Now one thing most people can do is pull out three songs by Tupac, most of which being "California Love", "Dear Mama", and "Keep Ya Head Up". Two of those songs were amongst a few of his greatest uplifting songs he blessed the hiphop community with, those being "Dear Mama" and "Keep Ya Head Up". As for "California Love", it was a major big-up on California being the top dog amongst the other states in the country, and highlighted the things Cali has contributed, but it was mainly a party song.

Although the three songs were good songs, there are even more songs I can think of that were great contributions Tupac made for the people. The first song I can think of is "Brenda's Got A Baby". It was ok that the song was under three minutes, for it all he needed to tell the short tale of thousands of young Black ladies in the world who go through teenage pregnancy. Plus it was one thing to just tell the story about a particular chick named Brenda, but the social commentary is what made this song highly significant to hiphop. The line "That's not our problem, that's up to Brenda's family" let's you know Tupac is about to go in on how this 12 year old girl needs the community as much as she needed her family, who was extremely dysfunctional and could care less about her growth as an individual, as well as the newborn baby. So after the story of the baby's birth, Brenda's homelessness, and attempt to make money by selling drugs and prostitution, Brenda went from the 12 year old pregnant girl to "prostitute found slain", a headline seen too often in the news that includes young Black women in the streets.

The next song I can think of is "Pain" off of the Above the Rim soundtrack, plus the first single he released with Death Row Records. This song was the first song in my opinion that clarified what he meant by Thug Life. He started out in his first verse, "They'll never take me alive / I'm getting high, with my .45 / Cocked on these suckas, time to die... But now I'm labeled as a troublemaker, who can you blame / Smoking weed help me take away the pain / So I'm hopeless". Really, the entire verse spoke on how difficult it is for him to provide for his family when he had nothing to begin with, so he turns to the streets, who he often claims embraces him more than anyone else, instead of doing nothing. It is with this song that he begins to shed light in defense of the people who do their dirt in the streets, with his vivid images of selling drugs and killing anyone gets in his way.

Another song he blessed hiphop with was "So Many Tears". I can remember my older cousin, who does the very things Tupac raps about, repeating this song verbatim and I could see in his eyes he felt the same feelings as his favorite artist. This had to be the most spiritual song from him in the way to exposed his emotions in this song to God. He lays everything on the table to God, referring to Psalms 23:4 in the beginning of the song, and asks for forgiveness because of all what he has seen throughout his life - growing up with no around but the streets, witnessing so many murders, and ultimately asking "Is there a Heaven for a G?" - and all of what he is about to do as he, as a thug, envisions his death in the future. A line that has always stuck to me, and a line my cousin always went in on, was "My every move is a calculated step / To bring me closer to embrace an early death / Now there's nothing left". A door he opened in this song, as well as plenty other songs, was that it is ok for thugs to cry and ask for God for forgive them. He said at the end of the song "can't take no more / I'm fallin to the floor / beggin for the Lord to let me in to Heaven's door", which was a cry often stated in other cultures (i.e. as seen within the time of The Divine Comedy, Italian mobsters before committing a crime or death, and in the movie The Boondocks Saints), but not as prevalent in the Black community, especially the streets, until Tupac brought it to light.

So although most of his songs were aimed at being a voice for the streets, he indirectly exposed what it really meant to be a thug or a gangster. One thing Tupac did was glorify the misery behind being a thug as much as he glorified the actual things thugs did. With almost every line of violence Tupac had, he backed it up with a line of suffering or a line of confusion behind that action. He basically justified the streets with the conditions the streets faced, and he showed how miserable street life is. Whether or not he was a man from the streets, I can't say for sure, however he did grow up in a gifted school and a son of the Black Panthers, but if you ask anybody from the streets, and I'm not saying I'm a thug at all, but they will tell you Tupac got it right.
Most of the people in the mainstream society, and even in the hiphop community, weren't feeling Tupac as much as they should. One of the main reasons was that he focused too much on his message and not how to portray it. In other words, he wasn't the best lyrical machine in hiphop. He could rap very well, don't get me wrong, but compared to other emcees at the time (Nas, Biggie, and so on) he lacked the skills they had.

Another thing people didn't like about Tupac was his radical ways. He never held his tongue, and although we live in a country that claims to have freedom of speech, Tupac's image was always overshadowing his music. The difference between him and other emcees today (which is why I can disregard this major flaw of his) is that this image America/Death Row created for him was clearly out of alignment with who he really was, and that he was forced to be that image. I would go there and say his image was created by accident, and that dissonance between who America wanted him to be and what he really was turned him into the so-called monster he became. The fact that this very dissonance became enclosed is what really killed Tupac more than the beefs he had with anyone.

Which leads me to another issue people had with Tupac - this so-called East vs. West Coast beef. Of course with most of the country divided by Sides (east and west so the Midwest and South can be included), the folks on the Eastside weren't on the best of terms with him out of respect for their home and Biggie who was the frontrunner for the East Coast. All in all, Tupac's main flaw with others was his refusal to be what they wanted him to be - a prepackaged menace to American society.

De La Soul - 20 Years Later and Still Great

There's nothing like listening to old music and no matter how many times you played that album when it first came out, it's still a great album.

De La Soul has managed to put out, in my opinion, two classic albums for the hiphop community to enjoy even to this day - Stakes is High and, of course, 3 Feet High and Rising. These two albums, released back to back, were the indications in my life that hiphop isn't only political or gangsta, but
hiphop can also be spiritual. These two albums, yeah they had content that tapped into your political conscious, but they made you think of your life as an individual. This group, these artists (who I consider Posdnuos, Plug Two, and Maseo), made you think of how to be in tune with your mind first and then your surroundings. Ultimately, the group focused on peace and harmony amongst the community.

Usually there are labels associated with hiphop artists - the gangsta rapper, the conscious rapper, the fun guy, the gimmicky guy, and so on. But these brothers managed to step outside the box made for the hiphop community, with their natural, hippie-like image and uniq
ue rap content. Of course people gave them crap for that. They never worn the gold chains, luxurious cars, and outlandish houses. In fact, they criticized others who used their talent as a way to make money instead of tools for empowerment.

My most favorite album was their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising. With numerous classics on this album, it's no wonder that De La gets major respect from the hiphop community. The thing about this album was that it wasn't about being one with the hiphop community, but about being in tune with yourself. This had to be the first album that would spit the basics to the people; the messages throughout this album were plain and simple. One song that first comes to mind is "A Little Bit of Soap" that (obviously) goes into how effective proper hygiene can have on a person. Plus the timeless classic "Me Myself and I" was one the first songs by any hiphop artist that had a humorous commentary to social issues. They addressed their often misunderstood image of being hippies and told the world that they could care less of what they think of De La Soul. But the main thing that established their image and purpose in hiphop was their dry humor and clean, positive hiphop music.

Another one of my favorite De La Soul albums is Stakes is High, although they didn't get as
much credit for this album as they deserved (but when did I care about the American consensus?), because they were the first to give an even newer light to hiphop than their positive rap music. I appreciated their efforts in standing against the rise in gangsta rap, Tupac in particular, which is expected with their image, but that very criticism is what made them fall short of commercial success with this album. Their leading single "Stakes is High" addressed the issues with rap music at the time head-on, stating they were sick of brand name clothes, drug music, scantly-clad women, and so on (most of these are issues we face today in rap music). Another single that addressed the state of rap being a money maker instead of a tool of expression was "Itzsoweezee (HOT)", produced by the late J-Dilla, which had a video full of cameos that would drive a hiphop head crazy (it did for me anyway)! One thing they did that set them aside from other people who rap about rap is their usual spin on their music, spitting about peace and being one spiritually. Plug Two said in the beginning of the third verse said "I think smiling in public is against the law / Because love don't get you through life no more", claiming positive rap no longer exist because it's been pushed out by violent and sexually explicit lyrics. Another couple of contributions from the album, at least what they gave to me, was the first single I heard Common after "I Used to Love H.E.R." was on "The Bizness" and the first single I heard Mos Def spit, which was "Big Brother".

Overall, De La Soul is a group to remember. Not only because they were the first group outside of the commercial mold for rap music, but because they decided to be themselves - which was a group who though love and peace conquered all - although most people thought they weird. Even though they tried to dissociate themselves from the Native Tongues and the image of being hippies, their dry humor, music of peace, and social commentary kept them to the left of what hiphop was at the time and what it was said to be later in their career. It is because of them hiphop expanded beyond political, social, and party music, defining what conscious music really was. So in honor of 20 years of De La Soul, I leave you all with the classic hiphop video "Itzsoweezee (HOT)"

from ACRN: The 50 Review

50 Cent:Before I Self Destruct
[Aftermath Entertainment; 2009]
Rating: 4/10
By Star Watson, Staff Writer
November 18, 2009

Before I Self Destruct is nothing more than 50 Cent’s journey to top Get Rich or Die Trying, but he falls short because he has yet to broaden his horizons as a rapper.

The content is his typical outline of what is gangster, street, etc. This album does, however, manage to have catchy beats, some sort of consistency, and enough content that makes 50, well, 50. However, his lack of expansion as a writer keeps him at bay as a full-fledged hip-hop artist. He is going head-to-head against the “Internet thugs,” baby mothers, Bette Midler, or whoever else indirectly helps him sell records.

Before I Self Destruct follows the typical format that all rappers use to sell as many records as possible in the music industry. That includes a couple club joints (“Get Up” and “Get It Hot”), a couple songs for the ladies (“Baby By Me” and “Do You Think About Me”) and a few songs that solidify his thugness (“The Invitation,” “Death to My Enemies” and "Crime Wave").

The only pre-packaged criteria 50 Cent refused to follow (and has never followed) is having a lot of guest artists outshining him. (Eminem makes an incomprehensible appearance on “Psycho,” which exempts him from going pop with this album.) He did manage to keep his content fresh with tracks that addressed his current haters, especially "So Disrespectful" that addressed Lil Wayne and his problems with his family.

The production for Before I Self Destruct is great, but there should be nothing less than great when a product comes out under Aftermath. His leading single “Get Up” was nicely produced by Scott Storch, who is known for the “hard but fun enough for the club” kind of music he consistently puts out. “Hold Me Down,” which was produced by J Keys, is the best song that is compatible with 50 Cent's rap style. His flow definitely compliments the beat, but there isn’t much effort given by 50 since the beat already contained a certain flow to it.

Not surprisingly, “Psycho” is the best themed beat, not only because of who performed on the track and the content, but because of who produced it: Dr. Dre.

His delivery was the typical 50 Cent, suave yet rugged and raw, which keeps him consistent as a rapper. His smooth but hardcore delivery makes him versatile enough to rap about almost anything. Only 50 Cent can have a song called “Crime Wave” and then have a song called “Baby By Me” and get away with it on his label.

However, his consistency doesn’t keep up with the times. Who really wants to hear the same ol’ 50, who strives to be a thug despite his multi-million-dollar business ventures, when he had almost a decade to expand his craft as a musician? Maybe that’s because he’s not a musician, but a businessman who sticks to his comfort zone to make his dividends.



---
Photo credit: Amazon.com

Cell Therapy 027

I love my mp3 player! It seems to know when it rains, and itll play the smoothest music that makes me forget i have to walk in the rain :-)

from ACRN: An Exploration of Love Through the Wizard of Poetry


As I listened to Ghostface Killah’s latest album Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City, I noticed he took a whole new approach to the rap game. Some would think he went all soft and lovey-dovey. Some would think he is trying to expand his craft from just talking about the drug game. Some would think he is doing what he does best -- exposing the world to the life he knows.

What kind of life is that? Obviously, if you listen to his album, he is diving into the field of love in the hip-hop community, an area often forgotten thanks to the violent and homophobic images portrayed by the music industry. With such popular hip-hop songs like Gucci Mane's “Wasted” and popular hip-hop groups with names resembling the slaughtering of animals/emcees (i.e. Slaughterhouse), one couldn’t help but ask: Where’s the love in hip-hop music? The moment we ask that question, we come to Ghostdini.

I believe Ghostface’s purpose with the album, and most agree, is to exalt the old school love in the Black community, especially the kind of love that was sung about in the '60s and '70s. His album pays homage to old school R&B from the “thick and thin, 'til death do us couples part” lyrical content, to the samples used, much of which came from the prominent R&B figures from the 1970s. If you listen to the samples used, you hear such titles as “You Can’t Stop My Love” by Norman Feels (in “Do Over”), “Stay A Little Longer” by Yvonne Fair (in “Stay”), “We Will Always Be Together” by the Whatnauts (in “Forever”) and more.

When I heard the album in its entirety, all I could think of was my family. I thought of my parents, who were together for about 30 years until my father passed away, and my grandmother and her “friend” who lived together as long as I can remember but never married because of the respect they had for my grandfather. Not to forget the complications my folks faced while together –- from money problems to trust issues –- reminded me that love was always something people can’t stray from, as much as they may try. And with Ghostface’s album, he brings love back into hip-hop, as much as the community tries to stray away. And the hip-hop community in Athens cannot help but agree.

[...]

For more click here!

***I Wish I Posted This Yesterday - From ACRN.com***

Uzuhi / November 8, 2009 / The Union
By Star Watson, Staff Writer
November 7, 2009

The Union will be filled with mixed feelings this Sunday when Japanese punk band Uzuhi brings happiness and energy into its performance. Carrying a different style than most punk bands, Uzuhi comes to Ohio for the first time.

Band members Gosha (vocals), Kota (guitar), Tsubasa (keyboard) and Shu (drums) are promoting their second album Ongaku on their U.S. “Will” tour. Uzuhi has been touring since November 5, and its tour will end on November 22. Within their 17-day tour, band members will perform all over the South and East U.S. stopping in 12 states. “We’ve been to Texas and New York, and it’s our first time being in Ohio ever,” said lead singer Gosha.

The band is enthusiastic to play at the Union and in Ohio for the first time, though they only know what they have heard about the state. “We are excited to play in Ohio, and we have no idea what to expect in Ohio. We talked to people in Connecticut about Ohio and they said it was very peaceful,” said Gosha. The band’s sound matches this description of Ohio – but with a little more flare.

“When we first formed we wanted to do hardcore rock,” said Gosha, “but with changes in the group, from the drummer to the bassist, me and the guitarist, Kota, really just inside of all of us decided that we wanted to do our own punk rock."

Although Uzuhi is a punk band, its members shy away from the cry for rebellion and focus more on the liveliness of the subculture in their performance. “We plan to bring energy and happiness to every performance,” said Gosha. “We believe music is supposed to make people smile and be happy, and even though we play punk music we try to open people’s reactions to such hardcore music with our energy and our lyrics."

What makes Uzuhi unique is that the band not only has English in its songs, but its memebrs write their Japanese language into their songs as well. One thing the band agrees on is that music is for anybody to enjoy, no matter his or her nationality. “We believe music has no borders, so we play our music in respects to who we are, like people from other countries and even people here play their music,” said Gosha. “Even though we try to sing our lyrics in English and Japanese, we just keep music, music because there are no borders because it’s for everyone."

Uzuhi has much to offer with their unique style of punk music. They play tonight at the Union with Amish Electric Chair and The Red Army. The doors open at 10 p.m. and the cost is $5.



---
Photo credit: Provided Photo

***From ACRN.com By Yours Truly***

Bring Midwest Rap Back! Jamo Sits Down With ACRN
By Star Watson, Staff Writer
November 6, 2009

Since 2005, Jamo Da Midwest Prince has been seeking success in the hip-hop industry. Considering himself the “jack of all trades," Jamo has stopping at nothing to become the best hip-hop artist of the Midwest region, and with no competition he has been taking the game by storm. Not only that, but he is attempting to take the entire hip-hop community over with Midwest, Ohio artists.

Now on the Two Thousand and Grind College Tour with Rockstar Entertainment, Jamo made a pit stop at OU during Halloween weekend to participate in the events and hang out with college students while promoting his album Full Blood Princeand his other mixtape ventures. He made some time out of his busy day to chat with ACRN before he invaded the campus for the first time.

ACRN: Can you first tell me something about yourself? Tell me something about your music.

Jamo: Coming out of Cincinnati a lot of people like to do that little Atlanta type of style, but basically my thing is that I’m the jack of all trades. My music hits every genre, a lot of my stuff sounds like slow, techno music, and then some might be the electro-hop, some of it might be some DJ Premier-type hip-hop, it just depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Because music, to me, is a feeling. If I’m feeling like I’m at South Beach in the club, then I’m making a pop record, but when I’m back home in Cincinnati I’m making some real grimey, DJ Premier-type music so it really all depends on what type of mood I’m in.

ACRN: Who would say is your inspiration behind your music, or is the music made just through your feelings?

Jamo: My inspiration is really like anybody that keeps it real. I’m a fan first, so anybody that’s spitting crazy but at the same time spitting a little bit of knowledge in there. It’s cool to do a stunt record but if you can talk and make somebody feel something then I’m all for it. I can care less what somebody does when they leave the studio, but what they say on the track has to inspire me. I still bump the Biggie and the ‘Pac, but I've also been bumping Drake lately, Lil’ Wayne, Mos Def, and Eminem.

ACRN: When did you first start rapping, and when did you decide that you wanted to make this a career?

Jamo: I would say like ’05 forreal. I usually be free-styling for like ten years back in ’99, freshman year of high school. And then like I just decided to start spitting forreal, like I just kept doing it like every day. And then I started looking at the game like, 'Damn, what’s up with the Midwest, why the Midwest ain’t making no noise, why ain’t nobody from doing anything?' And people that are trying to do stuff don’t want to collab with each other. So I felt that despite of where I’m from, Ohio, Midwest, Cincinnati, I feel like I’m gonna step up. I’m gonna put it on the map, and I’m gonna open the door for other people. Because the last thing I want for somebody to do is say, 'Well, J when you blow up you did whatever you did, but you ain’t put nobody on!' I want to be that one does that, and it ain’t about the money because I can just like 'yeah, I put that dude on.'

ACRN: So who all have you worked with around the Midwest area since you started?

Jamo: I worked with a couple cats. Raymo Kills from Canton, he was the Swag Heights mix tape with my homeboy Lil Bro from Cincinnati. We got that on www.dattpiff.com. I’ve worked with RealDaOne, we got like three mix tapes coming out. The first one will be around Thanksgiving called Short Days and Long Nights. Me and Lil Rob, he is living in Cincinnati as well, we got a couple tracks on my first album Element of Surprise. And really, that’s it. And the thing is Atlanta got a movement because they stick together. Cincinnati, we can’t just like get down like that for some reason. We don’t seem to grasp that aspect. I try to lend my hand out to a couple of artists, and I’m not going to say any names, but I think it’s because I do pop music that makes them not want to work with me. At the end of the day I make music. It don’t have to be hard, because I’m not hard and I’m not a gangsta. I do music because it sounds good.

ACRN: Where all have you been touring over the past year or so? Only in the Midwest, or have you been beyond it?

Jamo: Well, I got the Two Thousand and Grind College Tour, and I was just down in Tampa, FL. They showed me love down there in Tampa though, which UC beat Tampa by the way. And I don’t want to get the OU people upset, but I’m going on record to say UC the best college football team. [Laughing] I know we close in Pittsburgh around December. I’m in Oregon for three days and then I end in Pittsburgh when UC plays Pittsburgh.

ACRN: So what projects do you have coming up in the near future?

Jamo: I would say within two weeks I got a sampler coming out. I got 15 tracks on there, with tracks from my upcoming and previous mix tape, pretty much a song or two from every mix tape I have done. But as far as upcoming projects, I got like Two Thousand and Grind Volume 2hosted by DJ Clockwork, and that’ll be out before Thanksgiving. And about the same time, on Thanksgiving Day, I got another mix tape coming out. It’s called Pop Culture Volume 1, and that’s gonna be hosted by Eddie P and mixed by DJ Crossfade. Those are gonna be bangers! It took me like literally like 7000-8000 beats, the production was so crazy! I just want go on record to say I will never drop off on my verses. Those are my promotional CDs, and my album, The Full Blood Prince, will come out on Christmas Day. It’ll be $5 everywhere on the Net.

ACRN: Anything else you want to say?

Jamo: Girl, yeah! This is just some new school hip-hop with catchy lyrics and feel-good music, just like the Midwest do it!



---
Photo credit: Provided Photo

Check Out My Blogs on the Side... Bar

Long time no see...

So after midterms and working the entire Halloween weekend (and folks, Halloween at OU is no joke!), I still find it rather difficult to post things on this lovely blog.

*Cue the boos and awws*

But since I love the World so much, I did put the other blogs and works that I am in charge of on this page as an RSS feed, so if you need a fix of my writings check out the sidebars of this site to see the content I've provided to these other sites. And I'll also post published things from non-blogs on here too.

And the links are in the post below (in case you can't see the feed on the side)

So see, it ain't that bad! :-P

I do guarantee some nice and healthy content for this blog over winter break!

Why Nothing Has Been Up Here Lately....

Hello readers!

So.... it's been awhile.

In all seriously, in case you didn't know about me, I am a senior at Ohio University who is trying very very hard to graduate in June (no extra quarters for me). Along with studying Communications, I am in three other organizations that keep my down time up, including:

Hip-Hop Congress
ACRN
Slapstik
Oh, and I am an RA (resident assistant) and work at the Post

I am however still building up my music reporting skills with these organizations' blogs, so once you done reading this blog, read these:

ACRN's Hip-Hop 101

Hip-Hop Congress OU

And I also contribute to ACRN's site regularly, so check out this site as well:

http://acrn.com

Once I have time to post music blogs on THIS site, I will let you know through twitter or something

Does It Pay to Play? Artists Think So, Radio Stations Don't

As I listened to the radio in Columbus this past weekend, I heard this PSA from a radio personnel commenting on Congressmen, Black ones in particular, should not cosign with the new Performance Rights Act bill that would make radio stations pay the artists every time they play his or her song. I think to myself, "hmmm, let me look this up," and this is what I found:

From opencongress.org:

Official Summary

12/18/2007--Introduced.

Performance Rights Act - Amends federal copyright law to:

(1) grant performers of sound recordings equal rights to compensation from terrestrial broadcasters;

(2) establish a flat annual fee in lieu of payment of royalties for individual terrestrial broadcast stations with gross revenues of less than $1.25 million and for non-commercial, public broadcast stations;

(3) grant an exemption from royalty payments for broadcasts of religious services and for incidental uses of musical sound recordings; and

(4) grant terrestrial broadcast stations that make limited feature uses of sound recordings a per program license option.

Provides that nothing in this Act shall adversely affect the public performance rights or royalties payable to songwriters or copyright owners of musical works.

In short, the bill says it will be a law that every time a song is played on the radio, the radio station has to pay the artist. This bill provides a limit for and ultimately excludes the public broadcast radio stations, stations that broadcast religious services and the stations that hasn't made over $1.25 million in a year. This bill is still heavily debated between the RIAA (who almost everyone wishes they could pull an ACORN so the government does away with them) and radio stations (who almost no one listens to anymore).

Why is the legislation sticking their nose in music's business? The easiest answer off the top of the head would be this: IT'S THE GOVERNMENT, THEY CAN DO/WATCH/SAY WHAT THEY WANT!!!! ASK IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, VIETNAM, ETC. THIS IS ONLY A CAPITALISTIC COUNTRY AS LONG AS THEY SAY IT IS (nevermind). But seriously, the House of Representatives who presented this bill decided it was time to end the suffering of internet piracy for the artist/their songwriters. It is aimed at helping the artist get their compensation for the work he/she put in because the Internet, programs like Kazaa and LimeWire in particular, shows no love. So for the artists to get paid for disc jockeys to play their tunes is music to their ears.

What about the slowly dying radio stations? Of course most radio stations, thanks to this thing we call a recession, will be hit hard if this bill becomes a law. Quite a few stations I have personally categorized will be hit hardest: the station that plays only five songs an hour 15 times, the local non-profit talk station, and the Black station. Well, the station that plays the same five songs about 15 times an hour will be handing these five (well really three) artists a fat, FAT check. A check that they may have, but in result will have to let go some of its employees. And the local non-profit talk radio stations, that usually play songs they dig out of their own crates or even play local artists, will hand more checks than their checkbook holds, and especially since this type of station is not in the best market for ads will have to let go some of its employees. As for the Black station, and this includes the oldies, gospel, and "hiphop/R&B" genres, this station has far less of an advertisement market than most mainstream stations (big city or not), and since they follow the same playing guidelines as the top 40 stations, then they will be making big checks to artists they can't afford. Resulting in them having to let go of some employees.

And yes, there is a pattern here.

My main concern for this bill is that it will drive out the disc jockeys, DJs, personnel, and so on, most of the people that I only listen to the radio for nowadays (because real talk, the music is lame). With all this money they will have to pay these artists, for their so-called "performance fee", they won't be able to pay their employees.

Plus, this makes no sense to pay someone for something they brought to you. Aren't radio stations an outlet for artists to advertise their talent anyway? This is like if a magazine pays its ad clients to put ads in their mag. Should Playboy pay Trojan for every condom ad Trojan puts in their magazine? Of course not. I understand the economy is tough, especially for artists. I just don't like the steps Congress is taking to help fix that. But most of their decisions they have made since Obama made office is not going in my "good job" pile honestly.

Cell Therapy 023

Its funny how one song can change your entire outlook on the day and whatever you gotta do. That will never get old!

Cell Therapy 022

I love how DJ J Period makes mixtapes you can learn from. Who needs a textbook! LOL