Cross another off the concert bucket list.
Rappers and hip-hop artists of a certain type value lyricism (“bars”) over pretty much everything else.
As a purist, I appreciate that, but I think it ignores a vital yet rare skill that only some MCs possess, even those that can fill notebooks: the ability to write and deliver a great chorus.
MC’s that can craft an intricate hook hold a higher spot in my personal rankings and the LOX have some of the best rap choruses in hip-hop history.
The last half of the 1990s was a period of major transition in hip-hop.
The game’s two biggest stars were gunned down and the genre’s mightiest record label crumbled.
From the ashes rose the shiny suit era, but there was something else bubbling underground. A cadre of small, independent record labels began releasing all types of rap as an entire new class of young, hungry artists burst onto the scene.
One of those labels was Rawkus Records and its roster included one of those artists, Mos Def.
In the opening moments of the iconic track, “N.Y. State of Mind,” Nas almost mumbles, “I don’t know how to start this shit.”
It’s appropriate, almost poetic, that this line kept running through my head as I thought about how to approach this review because Daniel Levin Becker’s What’s Good: Notes on Rap and Language is all about lines and lyrics – how they’re created, how deep they go, how they get stuck in our heads, and, awkwardly, what they mean within the larger societal context.
I don’t know what’s worse – the rankings or the omissions
“Fuck The Source, I’m on the cover of Rolling Stone!”
– 50 Cent
Lists and rankings are easy ways to create attention and chatter, especially in the internet era.
We all know this. There are countless terrible rap lists floating around online and I’ve been as guilty as anyone (my first book, The Hip-Hop 10 is always available for purchase!), but there are levels to this.
While not as gritty as its predecessor, it is much more cinematic and its title has become a mantra to a new generation
I wrote a 3,300 word piece back in 2017 celebrating the 20th anniversary of Wu-Tang Forever, so this will be much shorter, but I couldn’t let the silver anniversary of my favorite album pass in silence.
It’s easy to forget now, considering how long ago it was and how much things have changed (both for the group and the industry), but the release of Wu-Tang Forever was an event.
The sad truth is that he doesn’t have an undisputed classic in his own— or Bobby Digital’s — name
Definition of alter ego:
1: a second self or different version of oneself: such as
- a: a trusted friend
- b: the opposite side of a personality [Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman]
- c: a fictional character that is the author’s alter ego
— via Merriam-Webster.com
What is RZA’s best solo album?
Actually, back up a moment. Can you even name every RZA solo album?
The approach of Westside Gunn and his crew offers valuable wisdom for not only music, but business, writing, and even life
“I really like that whole, like, cliquing up, Griselda shit. It’s just ill to me…I think what they’re doing is great. It just reminds me of a different time and it’s not easy to do. To make that music and just come off wavy and be interesting.”
The 2010s was a decade in which the line between rap and other genres became not only blurred, but largely nonexistent. Referred to by some as the “melodic era,” it was no longer a rarity or even a surprise to see a hip-hop artist transition into harmonizing, and while that had certainly been done in the past, it now became de rigueur as Drake, Young Thug, and many others rode that wave to stardom.
At the same time, some dudes stepped onto the scene and began flooding the market with their own music that sounded fresh but at the same time reminiscent of projects that had been released in the mid-’90s. No singing, no theatrics, just grim street tales of drugs and violence delivered over grimy, pounding basslines, creating a “gnarly sound inspired by the slimy criminal underbelly of Buffalo, New York.”
What is the best film of all time?
Most film scholars (and wanna-be film scholars) proclaim that it’s Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’s 1941 masterpiece that inarguably changed filmmaking forever. Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, and Gone with the Wind are often in the conversation as well.
Excluding The Godfather, how many times have you heard someone mention one of those films as their absolute favorite? How many are populating a casual filmgoer’s top five? How many Lawrence of Arabia conversations have you experienced in your life?
For the most part, whenever I heard a J Dilla (previously known as Jay Dee) beat, it sounded…off, wrong, maybe even sloppy. I couldn’t totally follow it. I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t fully appreciate it. It made me feel a bit discombobulated.
Only much later did I realize that was the intention. Dilla was not only reinventing what was known, he was inventing what was previously unknown.
As Dan Charnas writes, “What Dilla created was a third path of rhythm, juxtaposing those two time-feels [straight time and swing time], even and uneven simultaneously, creating a new, pleasurable, disorienting rhythmic friction and a new time-feel: Dilla Time.”