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:

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***

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 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 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!