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music culture , news, and commentary

Chance the Rapper at Lollapalooza 2014

Chance the Rapper was already there when when we started watching. He had just finished a song and he said, “What the f*** is up?” The crowd was already energized, and he rapped the song, Brain Cells. It was awesome, because we had never heard a live rapper use the rhyme, “the flabbergasted avalanche of ambulances near.”

Then after that rhyming was over, he got the crowd more hyped up with the display of lights, hands up in the air music, and of course more about his marijuana use. He did play a new version of a song that we had never heard before, but that everyone knew the words to called Wonderful Everyday. When he began it, minds in the crowd slowed down a bit and it was beautiful. It was a simple message and it came from the man’s heart. Just believe in yourself and everyday will be wonderful, and that is why he is loved and adored by his fans.

Eventually, he left the stage… and the chanting began for the encore. We knew he was about to go out with a bang… the guitar started and it was a bit reminiscent of Michael Jackson, but it was him. It was a one song encore that left the crowd not just satisfied, but euphoric.

Lollapalooza 2014 was one of the greatest music festivals ever witnessed by attendees. But for Chance the Rapper, it was also an incredible experience. During his performance on stage he said, “This is the coolest **** I’ve ever done.”

Chance the Rapper - Lollapalooza 2014
Chance the Rapper – Lollapalooza 2014

 

DMX Dies on Slingshot Ride

So technically, the title to this one is satirical.  However DMX, the famous rapper known for barking during his rhymes and being a tough guy, recently took a wild ride at an amusement park in Orlando, Florida.  The ride is called Sling Shot and it looks like a lot of fun, if you are into that kind of thing.  At the beginning of the video, DMX appears hyped explicitly stating, “This some scary sh** n****. This some scary sh** n****!  This some scary sh** n****!!!”  Then the classic, “What?!?!” comes into play… and that happens just moments before lift off.

And then just before the click of the ride and chaos, DMX says, “Hurry up! Before I change my mind!”  And that folks, is when the hilarity truly begins.  The rush of the ride only lasts twenty seconds.  But when it’s over and done with, he clenches his fists and says, “N**** we did that. We did that n****!”

After the ride is over, a few other words of accomplishment from him include, “Stone cold ice face” and “like we wasn’t scared.” And then he realized he was on camera and switches his tone. “We did it for the camera yo!”  Check the video right now and get a great laugh.

Common – Nobody’s Smiling

Another old school rapper turned actor Common, just dropped a new album called Nobody’s Smiling. He is back in his hometown of Chicago today as well to promote the album and sign copies. This album is a a throwback to his roots on the south side there, but it also focuses on what is important to him today as well.

There is a song on this new album called Kingdom and it features new Def Jam artist Vince Staples. The song itself is very much epic and the lyrics include religious, political, economic, and social points that are valid. The first rhyme Common spews forth in this song, “Second roll of the church with my hood on, my homie used to rap he was about to get put on. At his funeral, listening to this church song. His family yelling and screaming, I hurt for him.”

And that rhyme is just the tip of Common’s proverbial iceberg with the song and this new album. In the video shown below, there are images of Chicago, a young black male with a gun, and a stash of cash. There are also “strip club” dancers, that same male waking up on a bed with only a box spring and mattress, wearing the same clothes he wore the night before. And of course, it looks like the hood. Then he gets in his rusted Chevrolet as Common raps, “These streets is my religion.”

Midway through the video… something else happens. There are two cars in a major home appliance store parking lot and a deal goes down. And of course, by the end of this video he is hauled off and taken into custody by the police. Essentially, the lyrics Common is using and knowledge he is dropping are once again spot on. Play the video here and buy the song or album on iTunes. You will not be disappointed.

Dee-1 – Shut Up and Grind

There is a new rapper that may be hitting the pop charts soon.  His name is Dee-1 (@dee1music) and he hails from New Orleans, Louisiana.  Clearly, this southern artist has been lyrically inclined since childhood, and while he wears the hair and dreads that resemble Busta Rhymes, his verbal flow is slower, like that of Jay-Z.  But essentially, it’s the words that he uses that will grab and hold on to you.

In 2012, Dee-1 dropped a mixtape on Youtube video called #TheFocusTape.  On this mixtape is a specific song called, “Shut Up and Grind” that is very much epic in proportion to other rap songs.  Now granted, two missing components from hip hop culture that could have made it better was a breakdancer and a turntable, but there should not be any complaining about this music video. Here is just a sample from this one song.

Seen so many curveballs I done grown to expect
People messin’ up the mission I moved on and I left
Learned a lesson, no second guessin’ eff all that stressin’
I leave them on the block before I let ‘em block my blessin’
It’s a business, and we the underdogs, understand that
All that extra commitment and trust, but I demand that
I don’t call you by your name, cause I consider you lame
I’m in N. O., you playin video games, we don’t grind the same
So we don’t shine the same, I’m on my job and when I see you
I don’t know you, you just get a subtle head nod

In the background during this video there are graffiti artists doing their work, but what is most important about this production are the words this man uses. When he drops knowledge with words like these, one can only smile, nod the head to the beat, and hope to see him on tour soon. And click the link to see the video.

Dee-1: Shut Up And Grind (#SUAG) VIDEO

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Colt Ford – Thanks for Listening Hits #1 on Billboard

There is a genre of hip-hop called “country rap” and it’s been around for a long time. In the late 1990′s, Kid Rock fit into this label very well, as did his co-rapper and little person who has since passed away, Joe C. There is an artist who has climbed to the top of the Billboard charts and is now sitting at number one there with his album, “Thanks for Listening” – and his name is Colt Ford.

Ford is also a Southern rapper since he is from Athens, Georgia. While the history from that state is no longer relevant, one cannot help but think… is there a future for this sub-genre of music, and where is it going? Only time will tell how much more fame and popularity Colt Ford can obtain, but it seems he does not really care too much about that. This is clearly a man that loves his state and his country, the United States of America. He is currently touring across it and very well may be putting on a concert near you.

So have a listen at his chart topper. Also, take a look at his tour schedule at coltford.com and buy the full album on iTunes if it tickles your fancy. Lastly, click to play the video on Youtube.

 

 

Dilated Peoples – Good As Gone (Official Video)

More great songs, another album, and video have been dropped by Dilated Peoples, nowadays with Rhymesayers Entertainment… the record label that is taking over the hip-hop world.  Back in the day, Dilated Peoples was not even signed to RSE, and in 2001 they dropped the acclaimed album Expansion Team.  The song “Worst Comes to Worst” from that album is a rap ballad about family and friends, and essentially putting them first before others.  This writer remembers not only playing their vinyl record and that specific song on the radio, but also receiving requests for it from college listeners as well back in the day.

This true hip-hop group has come a long way since 2001, but they are still touring and making great music.  Their newest album is called Directors of Photography and according to their Facebook page, will be in stores on August 12, 2014.  Pre-order the album today at fifthelementonline.com and click the link to check out the video of “Good As Gone” that is great on many levels.  Also, follow these gentlemen on social media websites like Facebook (facebook.com/dilatedpeoples) and Twitter (twitter.com/evidence).

Dilated Peoples – Good As Gone (Official Video)

Mike Will Made It, Future, Lil Wayne, and Kendrick Lamar

Here is the thing about hip-hop… just like other music genres, some of it is great and some of it is terrible.  This writer does enjoy listening to the likes of Future, Lil Wayne, and Kendrick Lamar on occasion and has listened to hip-hop and rap since childhood.  Think Tupac, Ice Cube, A Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC, and Snoop Doggy Dogg among others.

Whether Future, Lil Wayne, or Kendrick Lamar would like to admit it, their music is now popular and their lyrics can and should be open to scrutiny.  These men are making a lot of money, and essentially it’s not only because their great at their craft, but also because they are surrounded by extremely smart individuals in the music industry.  The human being that signed these three men when they were on their way up is financially rich. The company that signed them has the funds and resources to not only promote albums and songs, but also to get you to listen and buy into it.  And yes, believe this statement or not… there is a billionaire named Lucian Grainge, who is making money hand over fist, not only for himself but for his stockholders as well.

And that is just a small part of the music industry… if you are a high school rapper and you think you are great and should be famous, record an album in your mother’s basement and promote it yourself.  Better yet, try your luck at a local rap battle and see how you do.  And don’t be afraid to get booed off stage either.   It has happened to the best of artists and it will happen again.  Lastly, do yourself a favor and at least listen to the music of Mike Will Made It, Kendrick Lamar, Future, and Lil Wayne… you will not be disappointed.

 

future, lil wayne kendrick lamar
future, lil wayne kendrick lamar

Grieves at Omaha’s The Waiting Room

Short and funny story surrounding this show review… back in the summer of 2003, this writer lived in New York City and wrote about hip-hop on a similar weblog. There was an interview with Sean Daley of Atmosphere, where the discussion of “emo rap” was brought up, and at the time Slug embraced it. Back then there were a lot of labels being thrown around callously, like gangster rap, indie rock, and even some rappers would be called R&B. The labels were very much forced on music artists, either by their managers, writers, or music industry executives. While sometimes they were embraced, other times they were rejected. This brings this writer to a great thing that happened today.

In a recent interview with Grieves, an awful mistake was made in that the term “emo-rap” was brought up, simply because he is signed to the same record label as Atmosphere. Grieves made it clear in his show last night at The Waiting Room in Omaha, Nebraska, that being labeled as such is completely wrong. Just because one raps about self and experiences, does not make the music emo. Labeling music within major genres is sometimes necessary, however sub-genres are certainly not needed.

With that being said, Grieves is just great rap music.  Click on the link and check out the video on YouTube of his opening song “Rain Damage” at the show this evening, and if you have the chance to see his show live, buy a ticket and go.

Grieves – Rain Damage (live)

Dr. Dre, California, and a Love Letter

It is without a doubt that Dr. Dre is one of the best rap music producers of all time, and Tupac Shakur very well may be the greatest rapper of all time as well. In February of 1995, Dre and Tupac were searching for a film spot to shoot the music video for “California Love” in the desert of Burning Man, Nevada. Yes, that is ironic, but more importantly Dre allegedly hand wrote a letter when he had a break to his then girlfriend (now wife) Nicole Threatt. Whether this is true or not is for you to decide, but the letter itself is amazing. It describes the party, chaos, and sheer fun of everything that was experienced during that music video shoot. The best part of this alleged letter though, is easily the closing line, because it describes Dr. Dre in classic fashion. “I’m ’bout to pass out girl, wish I was up in that ass. See you back in LA.”

Dre letter to Nicole - 2/26/1995

Aceyalone – Draft Day

If you enjoy rap music, and if you have never heard of Freestyle Fellowship or double-time rap used by rappers such as Busta Rhymes and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, then you are in for a treat today. Aceyalone has been active and rapping since 1988. He is no longer a young buck, but with that being said he has had decades to perfect his craft. He has historically taken a more positive outlook on rap music and developed strong critiques of hip-hop’s commercialization and glorification of violence as well.

Fortunately, hip-hop appears to be changing today. By looking at the top hip-hop songs on billboard.com, none appear to promote gangs or violence. Aceyalone may not have had a direct impact on what is on the charts today, however he certainly helped this writer appreciate rap music with his third solo album Accepted Eclectic. While hip-hop has evolved and from time to time can go back to the exploitation of women, it is nice to know that Aceyalone is still making music. He recently had only an hour to kill, and just two weeks ago, he dropped a song on Soundcloud called, “Draft Day.” It is in anticipation of the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft on May 8th.  Go ahead, do yourself a favor and give it a listen here: http://soundcloud.com/aceyalone/aceyalone-draft-day.

Aceyalone - Draft Day