Last Week on Tumblr...

For those that may not know, this blog has a sidekick!

When I'm not posting reviews, commentaries, and such, I am posting small music tidbits on Tumblr, titled Bubble Gum Pop Rap Lite. Almost anything has been posted on this site, from neat music articles to singles from great artists. Every week I'll give you a taste of what I've come across on the radio, in the news, and online. Enjoy!

Posted July 31st: I rant about switching lives with people who run clubs, mainly because I stood outside a club for an hour just to see an art exhibit that night. The art was great, and was actually worth standing in 90+ degree weather, but sheesh! (yeah, still mad)

Posted July 30th: found Rah Digga's album cover for her latest project Classic, Uffie's thoughts on fellow "hip-hopper" and swagger-jacker Ke$ha, and news on the record store documentary I Need That Record! being released to major DVD sellers including Netflix.

Posted July 29th: I put my MP3 player on shuffle and comment on the first 10 songs that come up. Plus, the new video for Chromeo's "Don't Turn The Lights On" and some tunes to back up my Black rocker rant, The Five One's "DC Sleeps."

Posted July 28th: One of my favorite chill records Zero 7 "In The Waiting Line" and Zach Galifianakis (omg, I spelled his name right again) does a remake to Anita Baker classic "You Bring Me Joy".

Posted July 27th: Psychologists finally catch up with the mind of musicians and write this "wonderful discovery" on the Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle. I dubbed it Rock 'n' Roll Psychology 101 - class is in session. I guess. Also a very cinematic video to The Roots "The Fire" off their new album How I Got Over.

Posted July 26th: After reading an article from the New York Times, I find this music video by one of the sissy bounce artists, Sissy Nobby called "Beat It Out The Frame", and yes, it goes there!

Album Review: Wavves - King of the Beach

From the opening of the new album King of the Beach, Wavves continues to change the game - when they started they had a typical indie vibe, as lead singer Nate William's band Jay Reatard had, then Wavves "went lo-fi", but now they appears to go 60s surf with a soft touch of punk. Not to make Wavves sound like a confused rock band, but this effort is definitely an exploratory album from the group.

As one could tell, from the tripped-out album cover to the sunshine "one day we'll take over the world" lyricism, King of the Beach comes off as an ode to the West Coast. The album appears like it was recorded in a garage, the noise and samples (though very little) give a taste of old school surf rock, and the physical album (i.e. the cover, the case, all of that) just give off a vibe that you're only two feet away from the Pacific shores. Why are there no tunes for the Atlantic? Enlighten my mid-Western mind, please!

Wavves did a wonderful job covering their shots at the Internet because of William's breakdown in 2009 by giving listeners content reminiscent of a wide array of 60s bands, from the Ramones to the Beach Boys. Their opening song named after their title may appear to be about being king of some beach, but during the hook ("you're never gonna stop me") places this song in a motivational, shot-taking, anti-media jam. "Take on the World" had to be one of the most disguising songs on the entire album, hell, even the summer! Instead of this track being more anti-Government like the hook intends ("to take on the world would be something"), the lyrical content revolves around the band's music. They start off with some satirical self-hatred, saying things like "I hate my music" and "I'm just too fucked up" and nobody likes me. Ultimately, a potentially awesome song became hella selfish, and to fully hear it is depressing - whether it's intended or not. And it's not even a great emotional effort, the self-hatred seems to be rather mocked. Overall, King of the Beach seems to be fueled by hate and depression, as if Williams (who also writes the songs, I presume) is still salty about his breakdown. Any efforts outside of that is unmentionable, like "Convertible Balloon" and Post Acid", as it is pretty lackluster in the delivery.

Although the lyrics seem depressing, maybe King of the Beach could be released as a total jam record, with no vocals whatsoever? The production behind this album is the total opposite of the lyricism - simply put, unselfish. The low quality of the record fits the tunes perfectly. If anybody wants a current sound of the 60s, this is how to do it. There were hints of the lo-fi sound we all know and love, giving off hints of an 80s style to some of the tracks. For example, "Baseball Cards" has random noises like toy machine guns and the laser gun noises from low-budget 80s movies and "Convertible Balloon", well towards the end, is a total 80s joint. "King of the Beach," "Idiot," and "Post Acid" sound like something fresh off an unreleased Ramones record, yet a tinge of repetition reminiscent of the Minutemen, a late 70s/early 80s punk band. The samples at the end of nearly every record though have small clips of other bands mixed with mad distortion, like the end of "Take on the World". And, just to throw this out there, the band's delivery of "Mickey Mouse" was the most hype delivery of the the whole album, though making out what Williams is saying is very difficult.

Overall, King of the Beach was so-so at best. If listeners just want to hear some jams, then by all means go for it. However, if listeners want to avoid a state of depression wrapped in fluffy sunshine band-music, then leave this album alone! This could come off as a great album to bang in the summer sun, yet it can be the album that creates cutters. Overall, it seems like everybody out of Wavves had fun making this album but the lead singer. That may have killed this album's potential.

Star's Grade: C+

A Rant on Rock and Race: Can I Be A Black Rocker?

Earlier today I was watching Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, a documentary on the concert in Fox Theater celebrating Chuck Berry's 60th birthday. In that documentary there was a segment featuring Little Richard and Chuck Berry (of course) talking about how their beginning journey in music was misunderstood. According to the radio stations and DJs back then, their music (and any other Black musician that wasn't carrying a sax or trumpet) was NOT Rock music, but R&B. In this documentary, however, Little Richard and Chuck Berry made it quite clear that they had nothing to do with calling their music R&B and wanted everything to do with being associated with Rock 'n' Roll.

Now I'm not a big fan of sub-genres (and really genres, period), so to hear such legendary musicians make that anti-distinction of their music made me proud of my viewpoint on music. Music is music. Everybody has a right to be rockers, just as everybody has a right to rap - no matter the color, gender, sexual preference. Unfortunately, we live in a world that doesn't see things the same way. Although R&B (rhythm and blues) fits for a typical Black musician, that doesn't mean all Black people want to be known as R&B singers. Just because a white person can play the guitar it doesn't mean they should be immediately ostracized from R&B.

With that said, I look at Afro-Punk a little bit different from other sub-genres and subcultures. I see the movement in "making Rock Black again" and I see it holding a significance to the Rock community as a whole - more than I see it being significant to the Black community. Not to downplay its presence in that community (and to make this piece specifically about Black music), but I think Afro-Punk is exactly what Rock needs, not because of its heavy political content, but because it shows that Rock is not, or ever was, only for white people to master. I'm not saying only white people listen to Rock music in general, but there has always been a problem in the music industry when a Black musician does something other than rap or sing. They are immediately isolated from both the Black community and the Rock community, the general Punk culture included. It's like you can't be Black and a rocker!

Here's a joint by Brittany Bosco called "Ragdoll". Now would you call this song, and this artist, Rock, R&B, or is this even necessary because she's Black?

<a href="">RAGDOLL |FULL VERSION| by BOSCO</a>

There are plenty of Rock musicians that get little to no mainstream radio time mainly because they fail to fit in the Black music box. Take Ben Harper for example, who has been in the Rock game for nearly twenty years. It is next to impossible to hear him on ANY station, and their reason (at least one station I talked to about him) was that "he doesn't fit the type of Rock music we play." When I listen to him I hear the exact same Rock music they play. Maybe I'm wrong, and if so, help a sister out:

All I'm saying is that it's hard to be Black, a Rock musician, AND a Black Rock musician. It is next to impossible to merge the two in the kind of musical society we live in today, and that really applies to all music genres - hiphop, country, etc. The bottom line is as a [insert race here] person you have to choose between doing [insert race here] music and consider "being down" with the group, or you decide to step outside if your "chosen" musical genre and leave [insert race here].

Last Week on Tumblr...

Not exactly last week, a few days behind....

However, full of super cool things from Bubble Gum Pop Rap Lite!

Posted July 25th: Find out why I'm here and why I use Tumblr!

Posted July 23rd: One of the best band rants EVER posted on the Alternative Press called "The WTF Moment," and (getting a little personal here) a list of songs I listen to when I'm happy, sad, bored, hyped and mad.

Posted July 21st: Some awesome tuneage! A new track from one of the funkiest bands out right now, Calibro 35, called "L'Escutore". The second coolest track of the day comes from dubber Mochipet and it's called "RAWR"... yes, like the sound of an animal (trust me, it's that hardcore)!

Posted July 20th: Listen to Tommy and the rest of the Rugrats sing a classic pirates tune off their Rugrats: The Movie Soundtrack. Also, cool pics from one of my current favorite graffiti writers, Balrog, and a pic of my first stereo - a double cassette player. I also ramble about the art of dubbing radio mixes and people's CDs.

Posted July 19th: The new video for "Mmmhmm" for Flying Lotus.

Poem: Those Wal-Mart Ears

Why deal with a market mind when I have a Wal-Mart ear?

My musical taste is like a Great Value box - because getting to the point is all I wanna hear

No need for added pizzazz, or unnecessary do-daas, I could add that on my own

And the artistic abstraction can be left at home

That adds to the price, and my ass is broke

So to think paying a low price for descent quality is to believe I will take it and mope

About the lack of talent and the crap they wrote

When there's plenty of innovation that surrounds you

But no, you'd rather take what you can get at a price on the low

It's amazing how our individuality clouds the sun that broadens our horizons

We won't embrace ALL the stars, but wanna see what makes Orion

So with our Wal-Mart ears we don't peruse through the aisles

We take them to the nearest floor person and say

"something for my workouts is what I wanna find"

So we follow the clerk through aisle #5, and select the one that's most convenient

Convenient to our ears, and not to mention the thighs

Because what we want NOW has nothing to do with our minds

We don't wanna make our own playlist, we let playlists make us

iTunes FTW and to shake us

Break us for 15 songs about a break-up

Caking up on my misery and hang us

With our Wal-Mart ears

When iTunes started making generated playlists is when iLeft

iRather tend to my needs on a For Me By Me basis

That way I can find the root of my problems

Because if I depend on a systematic list I have to let a computer solve them

And quite frankly, numbers may not lie but there's no way to evolve them

Or evolve from them

Think, the square root of 9 will ALWAYS be 3, so when a monkey wrench is thrown in, where will my solution be?

So from now on I'll use my market mind for my musical needs

And from now on, I seek guidance from an organic source, me

Even if it starts from the ground and expands like the sea

My musical taste stands pure, on the shores that I see

Album Review: Rick Ross - Teflon Don

Instead of making that fast-food kind of rap most people have become accustom to (word to Gucci, Soulja Boy, etc), Rick Ross takes a classic approach to entertainment and makes generic rap that everyone can enjoy! Teflon Don has the potential to be everyone's, especially self-proclaimed elitists like myself, guilty pleasure of the summer with appearances from artists like Gucci Mane and Raphael Saadiq, yet keep an appearance to satisfy the streets and corporate businessmen. Yes, the "BAWSE!" hits a home run with his latest album by ducking behind his star-studded guests and production, just as his predecessors in rap have done before.

To shorten this - and every major summer 2010 rap album - review, I'm taking a different approach and using a guide I have made. Basically, Ross is following Jay-Z's "how to make it in rap" guide to the T! Here's how:

1. Add songs glorifying drug rap without necessarily saying dealing drugs is cool. His big summer hit "BMF" (which he says stands for Blowin' Money Fast, but also could stand for Black Mafia Family) is clearly a drug rap with several drug references from the hook to the bars. He starts off saying "I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover, whipping work, hallelujah", and then brags about blowing money like several other drug dealers. Not to mention shouting out ex-cons and felons, among many other street-cred-boosting terms. Unfortunately, Rick Ross is only talking how much money he has and spends, so there's no real glorification of dealing drugs despite the drops of everything dealing with organized crime. So, back off coppers, he's clean.

2. Sprinkle songs that seem like it's remorseful for actions, but only rap about nothing of importance. After bringing up the names and references of street crime and dirty work, Ross attempts to wipe his hands clean of any wrongdoing people MIGHT think he did with songs like "Live Fast, Die Young," "Tears of Joy," and "All the Money in the World". He does put his fame and fortune in perspective, but no feelings are expressed for whatever past he had. This lack of remorse is a failure on his part as a true gangster rapper, just as any gangsta rapper that will talk about selling drugs and killing people will rap about the dark side of it in the same line. Take Tupac Shakur, for example, in "So Many Tears" or "Pain"; he always gave a reason or some sort of feeling of regret for his violent and damaging actions. In several of the songs on Teflon Don, the "BAWSE" falls short in taking advantage of that opportunity. This makes everyone question his street cred even more, as if people need more proof already.

3. Throw in a few political references that militants will enjoy. Not only does he makes songs that are appealing to the streets, but Ricky Rozay also makes references to prominent political figures. In "Tears of Joy", a rebelliously lackluster song about becoming successful and wealthy (as usual), he begins the song with an excerpt of a speech by Bobby Seale reciting America's greatest rebel Huey P. Newton. Overall, his attempt to be politically relevant falls short, but to say there really was an attempt just because of the Huey P. Newton recital would also be a fail as you can really tell he's not a militant-type of rapper. Instead of using it to push a political message, he spins it into a Biggie-type rap where he promotes getting money by any means necessary.

4. Stir in some songs for the ladies. Keeping things simple, Rick Ross attempts to woo the ladies with songs that ask them to be his ride or die chick. He joins forces with Ne-Yo (who was a bad call considering almost everyone in the world thinks he's gay) for "Super High" and collaborates with everyone's girlfriend's favorite rapper/singer Drake (who plays a singer role) as well as the most slept-on R&B singer of our time Chrisette Michelle for "Ashton Martin Music." In the beginning, he starts off with the infamous LL line from "I Need Love", but continues to spit about how much money he has. The only spin he makes to sooth the needs of the ladies is that his wealth makes him a worthy sponsor. In "Super High" he starts the second verse "I wanna buy my bitch every bag, and she ain't ever, ever, ever gotta take them back," and what woman wouldn't want to buy designer bags and not worry about lip-gloss stains because she has to make the 30-day, tag included return?

5. Add fired shots at people that took shots at success gained. Another one of Rick Ross's summer hits "Free Mason" was a direct shot at all of the conspiracy theorists that feel his success was not self-made. He even throws in everybody's favorite Illuminati rapper Jay-Z to state his argument "Bitch, I said I was amazing... not that I'm a Mason." Although Ross continues to flaunt his richness, the song is pure genius, with clever and witty references of the JFK assassination and allegations of the devil's hand in their success. The song, perhaps the strongest off Teflon Don, becomes generalized fuel for all people - whether members of the Illuminati or not - who seek to be successful.

6. Mix in star-studded cameos to every song to distract lack of talent and to satisfy everyone's musical taste. On Teflon Don, Rick Ross manages to pull in artists from all kinds of Black mainstream music. After the first song, Ross doesn't do a track alone. His lack of effort in changing up or diversifying his rhymes is ignored by the power his guests have. A list would include producers from the J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, No ID, Kanye West, and musicians Erykah Badu, T.I., John Legend, Drake, Trey Songz, and many more artists for EVERYONE to salivate over. His delivery is present on some tracks like "Free Mason" and "MC Hammer", but it comes at a cost of having guests that could care less about the collaboration love (Jay-Z and Gucci Mane, respectively). In result, people would rather cop the album for everyone on it (who does their job as guest on the album) but Rick Ross (who just takes up space and time talking about success he gained off of good musicians).

To sum up the success of this album, Ross gained the ability to slip past the Guards of Musical Taste and join the Album of the Summer Club by being that "oh, he's with me" kind of guy, despite the fact that Teflon Don is his album! As long as people can see past the stars and see that big ball of gas that is Rick Ross, then they will REALLY see how blahzay Teflon Don actually is.

Star's Grade: C+

Last Week on Tumblr...

For those that may not know, this blog has a sidekick!

When I'm not posting reviews, commentaries, and such, I am posting small music tidbits on Tumblr, titled Bubble Gum Pop Rap Lite. Almost anything has been posted on this site, from neat music articles to singles from great artists. Every week I'll give you a taste of what I've come across on the radio, in the news, and online. Enjoy!

Posted July 17th: A link to a new site on how to be a good party-goer called Stuff DJs Hate, and ALL EIGHT album covers for Arcade Fire's Suburbs.

Posted July 16th: the new scoop on 80s group Devo, and for all the Lil' Wayne heads, a list of what he's been up to in prison.

Posted July 15th: Sleigh Bells joint "Straight A's" (BEWARE, IT'S LOUD! REALLY REALLY LOUD!) Like M.I.A-loud, but it actually works.

Posted July 14th: the list of all the artists dropping an album on September 14th. Why? It includes labelmates Kanye West, Consequence, Kid Cudi, plus the '10 comeback kids The Walkmen, among many more!

Posted July 13th: an Invincible and Waajeed collabo "Detroit Summer", exclusively premiered on Hot 97 a couple days after my blog on her! Also a picture of the greatest prank of the year!

Posted July 12th: the original sample to Q-Tip's "Let's Ride" and one of the greatest songs from my personal favorite guitarists "Giant Steps" by Joe Pass. Also posted is the link to Pitchfork's new search for writers!

Waiting "All Summer" for A Converse Hit

Last week, Converse launched their annual "Three Artists One Song" campaign featuring Kid CuDi, Bethany Cosention (Best Coast), and Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend). People may be familiar with the joint two years ago with Pharrell, Santigold, and Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) called "My Drive Thru", which was descent at-best, considering the unlikely collaborative effort by the trio. This year's record "All Summer" is slightly catchier than the previous Converse ad, but as far as longevity goes, this will long forgotten in the iPod/iWhatevers very soon. Possibly by the time the review is over.

Not gonna lie, this has a nice ring to it, especially for the folks who don't have "The Hills"-like resources (which I miss already!). This is the kind of song that could make you easily forget about your economic woes and buy those cheap ol' Chucks! Once the song is over, you're left with nothing but some cheap ol' Chucks. The good news is Converse are great shoes if you like and appreciate vintage. The bad news is Converse has poor music taste.

"All Summer" is a song with a 'meh' hook and sub-par lyrics. Kid CuDi, as an anchor to the song, brings verses that contain no lyricism whatsoever, and a meek shoutout to his fly kicks (which are Converses, of course). It's seems the direction the hook is going is rather depressing as Bethany "trying to keep your eyes dry," but CuDi brings his own two cents of a hook in saying "we don't give a damn, we ain't worried about a thang," so I don't know if it's a song I should play at a party or riding in my car after an argument with my boyfriend.

The production was the best thing about "All Summer." I am unsure if Rostam was behind all instruments, but from the drumming to the strumming, me like-y. The build-up in the beginning complements CuDi's opening verse very summer, and the riffs during the chorus does give vibes to nod heads. It's safe to say Rostam saved  the track!

Feeling two different emotions in this one song, clearly there is a problem with the direction Converse is going this summer. However, the production behind the song makes "All Summer" ok to like. Would I buy this song? No. This better be one of those "free with a purchase... any purchase" kind of deals. Or hell, just give me the record because no one will be asking for it.

Looking for a (Rest of the) Summer Read

As summer is halfway over, and college is out of the way, I am finally finding extra time on my hands. When I'm not writing about music, or working on something else, I want to be reading about music! So far, as I am not as good as a reader as I should be, I have only read a handful of auto/biographies of artists and famous figures. Those include:

Tupac Shakur Holler If You Hear Me
Frank Sinatra Sessions with Sinatra

Sex Pistols (and Punk Rock in general) England's Dreaming
Although these were awesome books to read, it wasn't enough to keep me going... I haven't picked up a book to read (leisurely) in 4 years!!! And to call myself a writer, that's a problem.

So all week this week, aside from typing my life away with work, I have been looking into musicians that I want to read about. Some of these musicians already have best-sellers out, and some of them have "biographies" out. Some are dead, and some are alive. Here's my projected list of musician's auto/bios I am going to read in the near future:

Miles Davis Miles: The Autobiography
This one is sort of a given for me. I have always loved his music, and when someone suggested it to me, I had to say I was honestly shocked he had an autobiography. I would have never guessed he would make one, as he lets his trumpet do the talking, but I didn't think Malcolm X made one either so I don't listen to myself on these things.

Kurt Cobain Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain
I have always wanted to know his story, other than what I seen whenever VH1 or MTV would talk about it. A lot of people suggested this tells "the truth" about Kurt Cobain, so hopefully I'll see how much of an experience this reading will be.

Lil B Takin' Over by Imposing the Positive

This is probably one of the most interesting rappers I have ever heard of - EVER. I had no clue he wrote an autobiography, let alone wrote anything (since seeing Precious, anything is now possible). Not that I want to know about his life or anything as if I were a fan, but I want to know his thinking, I want to know his mind and pick his brain. In this book, he not only talks about himself, but this so-called, self-titled "BASED" generation that is rapidly growing. This is the first rapper I don't understand, which makes me even more intrigued about this book. Next to Cobain, this is one of the books I look forward to reading the most!

Once I cop these reads, I will most definitely blog about them throughout the summer. All of what I posted, except for Lil B's book, is available on Amazon, just type or copy-paste in the titles and they should come right up.

Last Week on Tumblr...

For those that may not know, this blog has a sidekick!

When I'm not posting reviews, commentaries, and such, I am posting small music tidbits on Tumblr, titled Bubble Gum Pop Rap Lite. Almost anything has been posted on this site, from neat music articles to singles from great artists. Every week I'll give you a taste of what I've come across on the radio, in the news, and online. Enjoy!

Starting with July 10th: I found one of the coolest posters floating around the Internet! Also on that day, I finally changed my ringtone to Drake's "Thank Me Now" (who did NOT show up at the Car and Bike Show I went to in Atlanta, I was so hurt!)

Posted July 9th: This was the day officer Johannes Mehserle caught a involuntary manslaughter verdict for MURDERING an arrested young Black man by shooting him in the back of the head! So in anger, I found this song by Rebel Diaz and BRWN BFLO called "Who You Shootin At?" Also posted was a funny JPEG on Chart-Topping Musicians (dissed the hell out of Nickelback in the process!)

Posted July 8th: The visuals to Nikki Lynette's "Civil War", as well as Roxanne Shante on why she left the rap game.

Posted July 7th: A tune from Jean Grae's last mixtape before retirement where she gives XXL a piece of her mind. Plus, for all you "Nasty Boys," the video from Janet Jackson's steamy performance at the Essence Music Festival!

Posted July 6th: Prince's opinion on the current state (and the future) of the Internet, and an oh-too-familiar yet revolutionary album cover of Bilal's latest works.

Posted July 5th: A link that'll get you ALL SIX of Charles Hamilton's new mixtapes!!! That is all.

Posted July 3rd: A booming system unlike any other, news on a possible ?uestlove, Raphael Saadiq, and Amy Winehouse band, and classic video footage on how to do the Bird from the ever-so lovely Purple Rain!

The New Breed(s): Nikki Lynette

This woman is so far beyond current rap AND hiphop music, she was one of the first people I personally hesitate to say Nikki Lynette is an emcee. But she's probably the most of an emcee, let alone a femcee, of our time. I almost hesitate in calling her a femcee because of my own upbringing in categorizing, and to me she is that far left of hiphop music. However, she wins my heart as a femcee because she drops some of the dopest rhymes over the most laissez-faire of music. To hear her rap over Peter Bjorn & John's "Nothing to Worry About" and Guns 'N Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" was heart-racing at first because it hadn't been done in a looong time, but the feeling turned into joy because of what she has said. Musically, Nikki Lynette has every right to call herself Bad Ass!

I first caught wind of her while looking for the beat to PB+J's "Nothing to Worry About", and found her featured on 2Dopeboyz. At first I thought, "she sounds a lot like the other Nicki.... Ew." Fortunately, the next week HiphopDX posted a video of her fresh 16 Bars which she rips the world apart in one verse. That's when she won my attention!

What makes me place her amongst the greatest ladies to ever rock a mic is that she has a TRUE EDGINESS! A lot of other emcees and musicians that claim to be edgy and bad ass fail to make those sort of attempts in their music, but Nikki Lynette actually is. Most artists will say they've been through "so much" and fail to show it in their music, but Nikki Lynette actually does it. How many emcees will not only tell you a story about a trip to the psyche ward, literally, but take you on a wild (feeling) ride of their trip to the psyche ward as a teenager? Don't worry, I'll wait.... This particular femcee not only did that, but put it over a Guns N' Roses track ("Welcome to the Jungle") in her single "Take This Pill." Instead of just linking the video, I'll just post it here with the lyrics, and let you experience the ride yourself:

She dropped a mixtape last month called Roses N' Guns: The totally bad ass mixtape that rocks! that has almost every song she's done in her short time in the rap game, which is actually a lot. She has released a video for one of my favorite songs on the mixtape called "Civil War", which flaunts her ability to take on current issues head-on. And for someone to go in so soon is astonishing!

Not only is she lyrically dope, but her potential gravitates me towards her more. As I mentioned in the beginning of this series, most people, especially artists in hiphop, are afraid to step outside the box because of the complacent and conformant community, not to mention the fear of failure. However, you have artists like Nikki Lynette, who will tell you her story as soon as you meet her, Jean Grae, who will rebel against any and everybody, and Invincible, who will teach you how to be revolutionary, who all conform in not conforming, which makes them as hiphop as it gets.

The New Breed(s): Jean Grae

I know a lot of readers will see this and think "you're a couple years behind with this," but I am placing this woman among NEW breeds because she has been something that people are just NOW noticing - a true rebel. Jean Grae is so rebellious, she'll rebel against her own hiphop community to better herself.

I was in a meeting two years ago with my Hip-Hop Congress folks (I miss you all btw), and we were talking about our all-time favorite female emcees. I said MC Lyte, but the guy next to me insisted on saying Jean Grae was better than her. I was infuriated! When I asked him why, he said "No disrespect to MC Lyte, but Jean Grae has something that the Lyte lacks, and that's a backbone." I thought to myself that was a bold statement since MC Lyte is the epitome of badass emcees, hands down. He went on "yeah, MC Lyte started the women with attitude sort of style, but Jean Grae has taken that style to a whole new level. Dudes may have been afraid to battle MC Lyte, but dudes are afraid to even be in the presence of Jean Grae. The only one is probably Talib Kweli." At the time, he was right. Every dude that has collaborated with her didn't outshine the femcee.

This femcee is especially the future of all of hiphop because she is by far the most self-made AND well-known self-made musician of our time. Jean Grae's style of rhyme is totally prepared for battle, like if anybody had a problem with her should be ready to be rump roast! Her punchlines are deadly, making you feel as if you're fighting Mike Tyson after his release from prison in '95. She has rhymes you must listen to, as they are intelligent and strategically placed for you to think and figure out what exactly she is talking about. She is perhaps the most complicated femcee to decipher out of these new emcees.

Lyrically, she's the kind of girl you don't tread lightly, as she has an attitude that'll take you by storm. Yet, she whisks you away in beautifully written stories dealing with life and being a woman. Although her battle rap style rhymes carry heavy weight, so does her ability to tell stories about her life. She has told stories of just about everything from a woman's perspective - from being the only female on her label to late-night quickies and abortions. From her album she did with 9th Wonder called Jeanius, her song "My Story" had to be the most chilling yet telling story about going through abortion and having a miscarriage. She says

I was a failure at that too, bailed from the rap, then but fate took me back in.
Sin is a tattoo my fingers attached with.
Twenty-seven with three kids that I never met.
What if I was Catholic? Wonder if they hate me? 
Thinking how their mother could ever murder?
Well take me hell

She has the ability to take listeners on a ride that is both emotional and intelligent, something rarely seen in hiphop nowadays.

It's not only her lyricism that is rebellious, by nature, but her personality. She has given everyone the middle finger (metaphorically, but would be cool if she literally did) - even her own community. She faced a lot of scrutiny in 2004 when blasted XXL for blasting her in the "Negro Please" section of their magazine in regards to an interview with Fader magazine about postponing her wedding because her dad had cancer. In an column, she basically told them to "fuck off." You would think that was over, but she still had it out for the magazine in her last mixtape in 2008 Evil Jeanius, in which she says "And how the fuck I get a Negro Please / when speaking truth? / Apologize on your Negro knees (fucker)" on the track "Even On your Best Day". In 2008, Jean Grae posted a classified on Craigslist for songwriting needs and collaborations claiming "I figure, if everyones gonna make money offa me, why not make it directly to the people who love this shit anyway?" She surely knew how to push her label's buttons.

Although she claimed retirement, she has never left the rap scene. She's been featured with several hiphop artists such as Talib Kweli, Joell Ortiz, and Jay Electronica, on top of working on a new album, according to Talib Kweli. She will also be featured on Ski Beat's 24 Hour Karate School.

Jean Grae takes the Sista with Attitude "category" and multiplies by a trillion, making her a hybrid femcee of our time. But her personality and ability to have you listen isn't something listeners sleep on... at all. Overall, to me she's like a Sour Patch: first she's sour, then she's sweet. As long as Jean Grae doesn't stop Jean Grae, she will be on top of the hiphop world in no time.

The New Breed(s): Invincible

She's the kind of femcee that steps far beyond the title. That's how ahead of her time she is!

When I first saw her perform, I thought to myself "this dude is awesome!" because looking at her and listening to her in a small, dim-lit venue, and already drunk, I wasn't prepared to hear a woman (especially a crossed-dressed woman) to spit that hard and that real! That night she not only came with the rhymes, but also a philanthropy. During this performance, she had a backdrop of her docu-music-video "Locusts" playing as she was rhyming with disturbing city images of her hometown Detroit. She has been backed by Talib Kweli, Black Thought, Slum Village, just to name a few hiphop artists that know she can flow. Trust me when I say Invincible is the future of hiphop, HANDS DOWN.

DISCLAIMER: Although I place her in a new breed of femcees, that doesn't mean she (or any other femcee) is limited among or by their gender. Her image and her lifestyle says enough (see picture). She isn't just about empowering the female identity, but about empowering everyone! Invincible comes with rhymes about everyone's struggle, steering away from sexuality and materialism and everything else a woman talks about, in an attempt to blast on the scene tiptoeing with EVERYONE who rhymes right now. Like she said "I'm striving to be one of the best period / Not just one of the best with breasts and a period" (said on "Looongawaited"). She steers away from being limited as a female emcee by spitting something everyone can relate to. Instead of talking about feminism or flaunting her sexuality, she's educating people on international issues in every way an emcee can in addition to her own special methods.

What sets her apart from other female emcees in the hiphop world is her lyricism. She spits nothing superficial, let alone ladylike, yet her content is classy and thoughtful. The origins of Invincible's lyricism is clearly Detroit-bred, but her thought process is so beyond an 8-Mile emcee. She can break down metaphors like you put on socks, it is THAT easy for her. Take "People Not Places" off her album ShapeShifters, she says:

Settlements spreading like cancer and toxic sewage polluted the roads
Now full of checkpoints
I superimpose the truth and it shows
(see full lyrics and explanation here)

On a song that deals with the displacement of the Palestinian people, most people wouldn't expect such lyricism from the average emcee, as they expect a focus on talking about the issues. But Invincible isn't your average emcee; she has the ability to balance a deep rhyme scheme and a crazy flow with intellectual content broken down for everyone.

Her musicianship steps beyond just rhyming; she is also a filmmaker. Actually, she has a docu-music-video for just about every song! She stepped on the scene and caught the eyes of millions when Current TV aired her first docu-music-video "Locusts" on gentrification in Detroit. The amazing thing about it is that she didn't make the video alone, but with a Detroit youth group called L.A.M.P (Live Arts Media Project), where these kids do a yearly project researching current events and making CDs and videos based on their findings. They're basically the 'hood's youth CNN! Aside from her film work with L.A.M.P, she has worked with Beatnick & K-Salaam, and Iqaa the Olivetone. Her most recent docu-music-video "The Revival" looks at three generation of hiphop, in particular women in hiphop. This video, which you see below, takes you on the We-B Girlz European tour featuring Roxanne Shante, Bahamadia, Eternia, Stacy Epps, DJ Shortee, and Invincible. The documentary aspect of it includes Roxanne Shante and Bahamadia trading stories on what it was like at their prime in the music industry and what it is like for up and coming artists Stacy Epps and Eternia (who is responsible for the logo at the top of the first piece in this series) to grace the same stage as two previous generations of hiphop.

Invincible not only carries Detroit, but the world on her shoulders, with her supreme lyrical skills and in-depth ability to educate the masses. When, not if, she blows up, she can be the most dangerous emcee, excuse me femcee, in America because we all know how tough it is to be an educator for the minorities and do it without permission (just being real for a sec). Not only will she murk these emcees, but not murk these emcees in a skirt. She does it in her own style. To BUY her music, because we should support good music, peruse her site for all of her works.

Where The Femcees Are: The New Breed(s)

I once argued with a man (a very drunk man) about women in hiphop, and how the times have called for a new kind of female emcee. He told me that hiphop, just like the rest of Black music, resists change and to change music will harm an already conformant community. He said, "the reason why we are so conservative is that we're afraid to fall. Think about it: in fact, I went to the liquor store, and an old lady walked out heading to her car. I went it, got my stuff, and when I left I saw the same lady standing by the curb looking down. I ignored her and went to my car, but when I looked again she was still there. So I asked her 'are you ok ma'am, do you need help with something?' Real talk, she said 'I'm not stepping off this curb, I don't wanna fall and bust my ass.' So I helped her walk off the curb and into her car, and watching her drive off made me think of everybody who tries something different and fails, how embarrassed and alone they are. A lot of us are afraid of change because we are afraid to fall, fail, be embarrassed and stand alone." Since that talk in February, I have always remembered the conversation, verbatim.

The story he told bridges a cold gap between the question and answer of where all the female rappers/emcees (or femcees) really are. Being in a community that is currently stuck between superficial lyricism and neo-conservative ideologies, a lot of amazing musicians and artists have been forced to stand alone and be seen as a failure or a flop, as people in the community are afraid to stand by them and break away from the pack. A lot of Black female musicians in particular have taken a different approach to hiphop, and music in general, just to be shot down or ignored by their own people. Artists from Santigold to Jean Grae have been told to shape into a mold of what Black music "looks like" - the four main categories of Black women in the media, specifically music: the Fly Girl, Sista with Attitude, Lesbian, and Queen Mother (read this article by Cheryl Keyes for more info). Basically, the Fly Girl is the woman who thinks being overtly sexual is empowering and flaunts lyrics of materialism, the Sista with Attitude feels success lies in the means of harming other, lyrically or what have you, the Lesbian can only talk about her sexuality, and the Queen Mother is the woman who speaks on saving the children and the Earth in an impersonal manner. These four types of women can rap or sing about these things however they want, as long as they stay in their own category and make it appealing for the general audience.

However, there are women in the music industry, especially hiphop music, who ignore the fear of being alone and personalize the music created by a complacent community. These women are generally considered weird, lame, and out of place, but I feel these women bring a new breath of life to the art form of music. There are plenty of women today that have broken the four archetypes women have been given in music. There is Janelle Monae, one of the funkiest and craziest soul singers/songwriters out right now, as well as Miss Jack Davey of J*DaVeY, who should be included in this group but is only exempted because of she's in a band, but this singer/song-writer/rapper has an edgy way of being sexual, sensual, and an independent woman. Another artist to break the mold is up and coming R&B rocker Brittany Bosco, a woman with a sound that roots as deep as the early, early, early blues era with a tinge of electronic soul. Even when we look at already established musicians like Erykah Badu, who stripped in front of a Dallas crowd for her new video without notifying anyone. Most of the music community, even her so-called fans, claimed to not "get it" and ultimately turned their nose up at the video.

But, we're not going to making this about all Black music. For now, this series is just a look at femcees who are changing hiphop. I say new breed(s) because in actuality it is next to impossible to categorize anyone, but for the sake of the music industry, the three featured women in this series don't fit, and purposely REFUSE to fit, any of the old categories femcees used to fit. I will even go there to say that these three women, Jean Grae, Invincible, and Nikki Lynette, are femcees that will be leading the hiphop community soon.

Last Week on the Tumblr...

For those that may not know, this blog has a sidekick!

When I'm not posting reviews, commentaries, and such, I am posting small music tidbits on Tumblr, titled Bubble Gum Pop Rap Lite. Almost anything has been posted on this site, from neat music articles to singles from great artists. Every week I'll give you a taste of what I've come across on the radio, in the news, and online. Enjoy!

Posted earlier today: Ski Beatz's 24 Hour Karate School, the VISUAL mixtape!

Posted yesterday: Scissor Sister's "Fire with Fire" video, whose album I reviewed here and Kanye West's controversial covers for his latest single "Power"

Posted June 30th: Lady Gaga as a fighter from SSF4 and my favorite Minutemen song "This Ain't No Picnic"

Posted June 29th: news on Breaking Benjamin breaking up

Posted June 28th: a sweet article on Indie and Indie Pop

Posted June 26th: an artist-on-artist interview featuring Jared Swilley from the Black Lips interviewing Waka Flocka

There are other little neat findings scattered through this Tumblr, including videos, audio, quotes and pictures of everything music! Plus the Samba Baby!

Album Review: Scissor Sisters - Night Work

If you can't have a REAL dance party with this group, then you can't have a REAL dance party.

Scissor Sisters has a history of putting out the wildest club records of this time. Often connected to David Bowie, Blondie, and Mika, this band excels in making music appealing to the LGBT community (there's debate of whether or not they are a full-on "gay band"), especially appealing to the gay club scene. Scissor Sisters is one band that everyone has danced to if they have been to a dance club, except for the hiphop clubs, but that's even doubtful.

Night Work is a name fitting for Scissor Sisters' latest because it is a dirtier album than what lies in their repertoire. Don't worry, it is still fun, but is enjoyed lyrically for more mature audience. After "Fire with Fire" this album takes a sharp turn into Provocativeville!

Sidenote: speaking of provocative, the person on this album cover is indeed a man rocking some skin-tight bottoms. No word on who it is, like it matters, but it definitely delivers a warning sign for those who are not fans of men in tight clothing. And if you are, you may not want to finish reading this review. Just throwing that out there!

The beats still remain fresh, pop-ish, and the most glamorous of rock music with help from Stuart Price and Santigold. Night Work maintains the band's sound of reminiscent 80s pop rock, but fail to fall out of the category of Most Likely to Sound Too Pop, as a couple tracks sound totally unoriginal. In fact, "Harder You Get" is the weakest track on the album. It's an definite bite of a sleazy '03 pop record (which no one ever wants to relive, ever), but slowed down, dragged out and ultimately annoying. Another bitten track was the ending song "Invisible Light." The monologue sounded entirely too much like Michael Jackson's "Thriller," and unless it's a tribute to the King of Pop then this song should've been thrown out along with the other tracks from their scrapped 2008 album. One thing's for sure, there's no repetitiveness in this album at all. From beginning to end, there's always a totally different beat to dance to.

The lyrics of Night Work are the most bold and sleazy lyrics of 2010. Yet, it is the most devilishly fun to sing! Think about it: the sound is 80s pop rock, almost electro-disco, why not throw in vulgar lyrics to match? "Any Which Way" is a prime example, with its monologue coming straight out the 80s "I don't care who you are or where we are, whatever, just do me" attitude. Plus, which is a bold AND clever move from the band, vocals are provided by both Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, smacking the current state of sexual lyricism in the face (since overtly sexual lyrics are solely sung by women). Another example is the beginning is the beginning of "Harder You Get," where the first verse includes the line "... I got some apples, if you want them you can grab them." Woo buddy! The titles of the songs in this album say enough - "Skin This Cat," "Any Which Way," "Harder You Get," should I go on?

Overall, Night Work is a hyper-sexualized party album exclusively for mature ears that want to party. Scissor Sisters manages to get you dancing, with catchy and glamorized hip-wavers, even to the most vulgar of lyrics. Their weakness lies in biting and not enough personalizing of a few tracks, but ultimately this album wouldn't exist if not for the artists they bit. This album goes to show how a band can make music for absolutely any party scene of this decade without letting go too much of the past decades.

Star's Grade: B