Album Review: Goines - Something to Lose Mixtape

Though he may come off as eccentric in appearance to most of the hiphop community, it's not hard to tell Goines is far more hiphop than half the chart-topping rappers out now. Take his latest mixtape Something to Lose. The Arkansas-rep dives deep into what is now considered an underbelly to the world - defacing lies, handling poverty, running the streets, and the urban household. Does he manage to keep the audience's attention? Is he as lyrical as his heavy messages? Does the production complement? Let's find out. *in my Mr. Owl voice*

Fortunately, this should not be treated as the latest flavor-of-the-week mixtapes that have come from the forefront of today's hiphop community. However, this does come off as a rant album initially. The opening lines to "Introvention" - which are "You ain't gotta listen / I ain't come for that / It's been a long walk, and I ain't running back / I'm simply taking back the innocence you stole from us / Too many broken dreams, I just don't give a fuck" - are indeed echoed throughout the entire mixtape, but this was the least tasteful, though it was an attention-getter.

His delivery and content keeps the project from getting the "x" box clicked because both are emotional and provocative. It's organic, raw - not a line goes by after the intro that seems like a cliche' socially conscious rap record - with Goines' Southern flare and intelligent lyricism. For the content, imagine the intelligent ghetto tales from Nas mixed with early Outkast and their Dirty South delivery sprinkled with Kanye's emo ways toward love (so mash a little 808s and Heartbreaks, Aquemini and The N-word album together). Though this may seem like it leaves little room for something unheard of, Goines still adds his own twist to this project that is seen on Leaders Are Real People Too. The most noted feature was the poem laid down in "Wake Up" (and as much as I'd love to say who it is, there's no direct credit for it...).

The majority of the production, noting "Wasted Truth," "Fed Up," "Running," and "This Is It," carries out the theme Goines delivers to his audience. The production gets equally emotional, and maybe not as grand as it tried to be (imagine the underlying theme of White Men Can't Jump), but considering his indie route the overall project was executed well. The songs have their catchy moments, like the drip-drops in "We Made You," but overall it's full of militaristic beats tied with a wide variety of looped samples.

All-in-all, Goines has somehow successfully tied himself to the name people could closely associate him with - yep, Donald Goines, penman of Whoreson, Black Girl Lost, Daddy Cool, and so on - which in comparison to the other Goines (Donny Goines), I'd say the man behind Something To Lose has the upper hand for his honesty, intelligent yet street content and this project that carries a fistful of substance. Although this project seems a little rant-ish, there's no reason why Something To Lose deserves to be in the running for best mixtape of 2011.

Star's Grade: A-

Check out my feature with Soul Train featuring Heston

With an album coming later this month, Heston and I discuss his live sound and how he feels timeless music does not go hand-in-hand with "what's hot." Here is a clip of our Sound Check interview:

On loving the live elements of his sound - I think the perfect imperfections, like delays in timing or feelings, are things you can’t really manufacture, or program on the one or on the two. Those perfect imperfections is what makes music real.

On his new album Warm Human, Cold World - When you are in a relationship, especially a successful relationship, you find that it’s easier to navigate, it’s easier to lean on someone when you’re having a bad day and have someone to come home to. It’s about relationships and having someone’s shoulder to lay on.

On creating timeless music - (...) I do not want to go with the sound of the month, or the type of thing where there’s a certain sound in the industry right now for R&B music and has certain synthesizers, I’m not interested. For me, it’s making music that I can be happy with forever.
Soul Train: What about how much R&B has changed over time? Do you feel that with R&B changing that you’ll be able to still create the music that you want to? 

Heston: Absolutely. If you look at people like Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Maxwell, India.Arie and even Alicia Keys, there are such stories as people creating timeless music where those songs will last forever. There’s a certain quality and sustainability to the music that defies the flavor or producer of the month in it. Like, an Alicia Keys song could’ve been dropped in 1970 and still be as relevant as it is now. Sade’s been doing the same quality of music with the same type of production for many years. It’s just a matter of stepping outside of recording, like the marketing, performing, and being available. While I’m interested in all that, I’m not concerned with altering my sound for what’s going on today.
 Be sure to check out the full interview on Soul Train's website by clicking here!

SlapStik's One-on-One with Margaret Cho

Aside from covering music - for the most part - I am the editor of SlapStik Magazine and operator of their blog. In the blogs and mags we specialize in comic interviews, going one-on-one with some of the funniest people on the planet. I got to chat with Margaret Cho about Drop Dead Diva, her development as a stand-up comic, and inevitably her music. Here's an excerpt of that: 
You also do music as well. Cho Dependent got a lot of good reception, including the Grammy nomination, so what’s next for you musically? 

The next album coming out will be The Yellow Album, and it’s really in the works now. It’s a little bit hard to do because I’m working on a TV show, so all these multiple projects are moving a little slowly. When the TV show comes out, then I’ll have more time to work on the album. 

How will The Yellow Album be different than Cho Dependent? 

Yellow will have some of the songs that didn’t make it onto Cho Dependent. I recorded about 22 songs and some didn’t make it, so there’s a few that I want to be on Yellow. There’s some new stuff I recorded just for Yellow. And Yellow will be about race and the Asian identity, and being an ethnic “other.” I’m really excited about that, and I’m really excited about the song I did with my parents. My parents are musicians and they sang on this song. It was really funny because they’ve been singers for a long time but have never recorded, so it was really daunting for them to be in a studio and a stretch to take it to that level for them because they seemed intimidated.
Check out the full interview on SlapStik's blog by clicking here!

Recap: Bubbapalooza Coverage for Examiner

Usually folks label me as a hiphop journalist or all about hiphop culture. While I don't take it as an insult, I'd like for you all to know that I do have just as much interest in other music cultures besides hiphop. Bluegrass in certainly one of them.

For, I covered Atlanta's annual Bubbapalooza in Little Five Points at Star Bar. Other than the subconscious racial tension - mainly along the lines of "whoa, what's this Black girl doing here?!?" - I had a great time getting to know on a fond level what bluegrass, hillbilly folk-type music is all about. Here's an excerpt of what went down:

Bringing the folk back to night one was Bareknuckle Betties. Toting a guitar, banjo, washboard and an upright bass, these four ladies put on a swell rockabilly performance. They brought an authentic and forgotten super vintage girl punk feel – because the REAL original girl punk bands were ladies of blues and rockabilly!

Emotions rose as Anna Kramer and The Lost Cause began their set, specifically from “Mama,” (Gregory) Smalley’s mother, as she was hugging one of the many attendees wanting to pay their respect to the Bubbapalooza family. At only night one this annual music festival showed the values behind this kind of music, and the cause of keeping this festival alive, despite the death of their founder 15 years ago.
 Check out the entire recap of the two-night festival on Examiner by clicking here!