Author Archive

Black Milk – “Welcome (Gotta Go)”

September 29, 2010

Latest visual off Album of the Year, for one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Welcome (Gotta Go).” This beat is a lot denser than I had originally thought. Baseline is still the deal sealer, but Black Milk buries several great sounds in here, especially if you follow the melody. Kyle, you’re up (not the continent).


Re: Deadly Medley Video

September 23, 2010

Pretty standard video, as you say. But, I prefer a simpler video like this, compared to some over-the-top, or over-produced, nonsense.

As for the song, I was into from the beginning. Production is perfect for a braggadocio posse cut, and for the most part, each emcees comes with it. Certainly can’t hate Black Milk’s verse – he makes an MJ and Stevie reference.

And while both of us, independently mind you, thought Elzhi sounded off, the tail end of his verse is pretty strong.

Not the strongest track on the album, which isn’t a slight as AOTY is pretty consistent from front to back.

Speaking of Thriller, I like when artists aim for the 40-50 minute mark for album length. I’ve actually read some refer to it as the Thriller rule. I think it makes for a more consistent listen, and limits the opportunity for weak tracks. And as Black Milk’s production sounds more developed these days, e.g. beats sound more layered, and more interesting, I wonder if he focused on packing a more meaningful punch in a tighter package.

Black Milk’s Album of the Year

September 20, 2010

Drums, drums, and more crashing drums. It was difficult for a large swath of Dilla fans to overlook the obvious characteristics that Black Milk’s sound shared with Dilla’s since he came on the scene: drums, drums, and drums. However, on Album of the Year, Black Milk really stepped up his game with live drums (utilizing a live 4-piece band); this becomes the emblem of AOTY and easily carries the album. “Keep It Going” sounds like “Give The Drummer Sum” part two, which was the signature track of Black Milk’s last album, Tronic. He also has some great baselines throughout AOTY, particularly on the introductory “365”. Sonically, Album of the Year doesn’t let down.

I found Black Milk’s guest spots curious, and agree with Kyle: several of the featured artists add minimally to AOTY’s overall sound. From the range of artists that Black Milk has worked with, I would think he’d be able to do better than Danny Brown. Listen, I know Danny Brown gets props in Detroit, but his spot on the cleverly named “Black & Brown” is weak. (I thought the same thing about him on Dilla’s “Dilla Bot v. the Hybrid” from Jay Stay Paid. It’s too bad, too, because that “Black & Brown” beat bangs. I also agree somewhat with Kyle regarding “Deadly Medley.” Elzhi doesn’t sound like himself (not sure if this is recording, or anything circumstantial). Being a huge Elzhi fan, I wasn’t moved by his verse. I think Black Milk and Royce both go hard on “Deadly Medly,” however, and that track is going to get lots of spins.

One aspect of AOTY’s sound I really like are the “interludes” between tracks, i.e. how Black Milk changes the beat up and lets it ride out during transitions between one track and the next. It reminds me of what Questlove & Dilla did on Common’s Like Water For Chocolate. I often think that adds to an albums overall progression, and adds a little something extra musically.

Lyrically, Black Milk is, as he’s always been for me, hard to pin down. He doesn’t have the punchlines of Elzhi, nor is is his flow Phonte [formerly] of Little Brother or Blu. But he’s got something few emcees do: he’s a producer, and it sounds like either he makes beats to suit his flow, or he tailors his flow to enrich the beat. Like Dilla and T3, Black Milk has a flow that sticks and moves, and even without the hard punchlines, he sounds good. This isn’t to say he doesn’t have some good lines. However, Black Milk rhymes like a producer: with the overall sound paramount, and demonstrating care in making sure his delivery fits with the beat (rather than a battle emcee who’s always on the attack, e.g. Guilty Simpson). One listen to “Gospel Psychadelic Rock” and you’ll hear what I mean. Black Milk shows some lyrical growth on “Distortion;” not solely because of the material/topic, but because he does so without sounding corny, speaking on the medical condition of his manager & the death of Baatin. I always respect when artists are introspective/personable, but it’s not always easy to pull off, especially in the midst of an album that is sonically akin to a thunderstorm. There isn’t much going wrong on “Distortion”: banging drums, grounded baseline, and mood-exuding guitar.

“Gospel Psychedelic Rock” is an incredibly dope track: the perfect compromise between straight hip-hop and a cornucopia of sounds; the track utilizes drums, guitar, insane baseline, scratches, samples, and a great hook, “Better watch out here we come, here we go.” Black Milk can be heard in the background saying something to the effect of “yeah, we destroy shit,” and that’s pretty much what he does on this track. Beat is crazy (and gets doper as I ruminate about it). Classic Black Milk. This track and “Keep Going” are exactly why I love Black Milk.

“Closing Chapter” serves as a proper ending to any album of the year. Topically, Black Milk explores his influences and sources of inspiration/strength over a guitar riff and, consistent with the rest of the album, great drums. Like “Gospel Psychedelic Rock,” Black Milk’s flow is perfect for the beat. The only thing “Closing Chapter” is missing is Common’s Pop (yeah, of Pop’s Rap fame) extolling some knowledge as the beat simplifies and fades.

So, does Black Milk have the album of the year? At the very least, he does have the album of his year. On the production side, this album is nearly flawless. I would be hard pressed to enumerate anything more I would have wanted sonically. Album of the Year seems to need some lyrical power to put it over the top, however. I can only imagine what this would have sounded like with Blu, (more) Elzhi, or Pharoahe Monch on it. Or, alternatively, what it would have sounded like with only Black Milk. A handful of thin parts of the ice, namely Danny Brown and “Oh Girl,” which I could do without, while weak, do little to damage the full scope of the album.

Mayer Hawthorne & Stonesthrow

February 18, 2009

A) Any release information on Mayer Hawthorne? That “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” track is great; I’ve been bumpin’ that as I did Darondo’s “Didn’t I” for days upon days.

B) In reviewing past posts, I realized that Kyle and I dedicated a lot of space to Guilty’s Ode to the Ghetto; a disproportionate amount for such a mediocre album. (That was over a year ago!)


February 17, 2009

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve posted that the WordPress interface is wholly changed.

Believe it or not, Trading Tapes may in fact see a renaissance. Getting back to posting has required me to consider the reasons I’ve been away from it. Sure, time is always a viable excuse. It’s true, since school resumed (you’ll note my last post was 09/01/08, two days before classes started) my time outside of school has been slightly altered. For one, I thought that after applying some significant time on computer/paperwork (depending on the day), I naturally moved away from doing a similar exercise at home. Similarly, as my music posting decreased, so did my music blog viewing. There has also been a decrease in music listening. This I can’t explain so easily. While I think there have not been too many quality releases of late, that still doesn’t explain why I was not moved to post when Q-Tip’s Renaissance dropped, or Raphael Saadiq’s The Way I See It, or Plantlife’s Time Traveler, or N*E*R*D’s Seeing Sounds, or one of my favorite 2008 releases, Johnson & Jonson’s Johnson & Jonson; I could go on. The point is, there were a number of releases in the latter part of 2008 that should have moved me to post. They didn’t.

So, I guess there is no easy diagnosis, and no predictable prognosis for Trading Tapes. I am going to make an effort to listen to more music, e.g. less NPR and more music en route to work. I think that may have the best impact of bringing me back.

We’ll see.

Anticipating the following, part 2

September 1, 2008

Still awaiting the new Foreign Exchange.

Allegedly, Q-Tip’s Renaissance will finally see a legitimate release November 14. This, I’m sure will be updated again.

Black Milk’s Tronic. Has a slew of interesting guests, including Pharoah. Him on Black Milk beats is tough to beat.

And, while perusing the net, I came across this blog, which features a prominent disclaimer in the upper right corner (directly below the blog’s description). Check it out. Hilarious.

Finally, while I’ve been virtually nonexistent on the interweb this summer, I’ve been continually entertained, and informed, by Von Pea’s blog. I particularly enjoyed his explanation behind my favorite track off The Bridge, “Get Me Inside.”

Dred Scott – “Breakin’ Combs” (1994)

September 1, 2008

As I get ready to go back to school, I’ve been trying to bookend my summer. Bookending always involve playing some dope music. I’ve been revisiting The Nonce’s World Ultimate for the umptheenth time (revisit my revisit), along with Down South’s Lost in Brooklyn (thanks to WTR for reminding me of this), and Dred Scott’s Breakin’ Combs. I put these albums on consecutively, and I have unbelievable beat, after dope beat.

Dred Scott’s funky beats are par for the course for 1994. Heavy with funk and jazz samples (check the beat and tale of the West Coast-sounding “They Don’t Know”). Scott handles all the production on this once-recondite classic (I think it’s more well known now, thanks to the blogosphere). I’m not sure why I didn’t know about this back then. Dred Scott’s beats resplendently parallel the beats of more notorious “Golden Era” producers, namely Pete Rock. And like Pete Rock, his music taste is incredible, and affords Breakin’ Combs with a constant layering of amazing samples. Many of these samples are, I’m sure, more well-known and recognizable now then they were in 1994 (again, thanks to the blogosphere), but I can’t help but think that had I heard this in 1994, I would have most certainly bugged out when listening to tracks like the opener, “Back in the Day,” and the closer, “Frankie’s Groove.” The latter is a jam-session instrumental, heavy on the piano and bass. And yes, Breakin’ Combs is also spotted frequently with all the horns one could want; see the aforementioned “Back in the Day.”

Dred Scott is comparably able on the mic. However, he doesn’t really have the presence or signature sound that many of his more popular contemporaries had, and I surmise that may have been a reason why Breakin’ Combs never found its niche. For example, some tracks have him sounding something like Brand Nubian, in both delivery and subject matter. For example, “Swingin’ From The Tree” has Scott doing his Sadat X as he delves into the many perspectives of black culture; in an indirect way of promoting unity, Dred Scott puts all people in a ship that is sinking as the differing groups fight to promulgate their way over others’. The story ends with everyone in the ship sinking together, in disunity. “Check The Vibe” is a Tribe Called Quest-sounding, laid-back track, complete with female singer on the chorus; for Tribe it was Vinia Mojica, while Scott employs Adrian Evans, whose debut album, Adriana Evans, Scott would lend lots of production to in 1997.

One of my favorite tracks is “They Don’t Know.” On it, Scott cooly talks of his skills. Of course, some fool in a club is bound to try and break the flow (don’t you hate when that happens?); in this case, it’s a blunted “fool” with “gold on the two front teeth.” After agreeing to a beat challenge, in which Scott puts his gear on the line, they shook hands, Scott “rocked it,” and walked away with “two gold teeth in his pocket.” That’s hip hop.

Breakin’ Combs, like so many albums from its period, plays amazing from front to back. Should you get your hands on this album, you’ll have a good hour of captivating and nostalgic beats, and lyrics that while not too heavy, are captivating and put most contemporary emcees to shame. In light of a what is considered lyrical content these days, Dred Scott shows how lyrics and flow were taken for granted back in the 90’s. This is particularly true when paired with the amazing beats that paint Breakin’ Combs.


July 16, 2008

I’m relaxing and listening to Jackson Conti’s Sujinho. I dig this.

And it reminded that once upon a time, I typed words, which reflected brief thoughts on Sujinho; I vaguely recall taking those words and through some miracle of modern science, posting them on the internet. I assume once they’re there, they belong to history, much like Honest Abe.

I really haven’t forgot about Trading Tapes; nor do I think Kyle has. It’s summer. What more can I say? I know lots of music has bounced between my ears since school ended and summer commenced. I did get into Dwele’s Sketches of a Man. It’s dope, if you haven’t copped it. “If You Want To” & “Vain” are currently my Dwele d’jour.

Summer’s a tough time to be sitting and blogging.

I’ll be around. Thinking of a post for Shawn Jackson’s First of All…, or maybe N*E*R*D or Dwele.

To be continued…

In the mean time…holla!

Order restored

May 31, 2008

With the addition of a new network card, via a new computer, and the inclusion of an Apple Time Machine to my world, I’ve finally restored some normalcy to my own WWW. No more manipulating the rabbit ears to check my email.

My inconsistent WWW over the previous month has left me feeling a bit out of the loop. I’m not sure how accurate my own perception is, however. I’ve still managed to procure Tanya Morgan’s The Bridge, Kidz in the Hall’s, The In Crowd, Al Green’s Lay It Down, Jackson Conti’s Sujinho, and most recently, Common Market’s Black Patch War. I’d say that’s a pretty good yield for a month. Isn’t it interesting that there’s an apparent correlation between my WWW access and music acquisition? I can’t say I saw this coming in 1998, when I was still racing to Music in Your Ear on Thayer St. with my boy Skillz to cop Blackstar and The Love Movement.

Thanks to WTR for throwing that Common Markets track out there. I’ve been listening to Black Patch War for literally 24 straight hours. Sabzi’s production is a subtle throwback. Kind of reminds me of late 1990’s Shawn J. Period, employing lots of floating horns, flutes, scratches, etc. And RA Scion makes me think of Talib Kweli without the nasal congestion. Feel of album is akin to the contemporary-old school-feel goodness that has been coming out of the Pacific NW, see Blue Scholars & Ohmega W-W-Watts, Watts. (Note: I’ve also added Common Market, conveniently located on the WWW too).

Al Green’s Lay It Down. Talk about a throwback. Maybe I’m an ageist, but I usually don’t get too amped when old school cats come out with new albums. It’s a long story I suppose, but in short, it has something to do with the given, now-aged artist, attempting to contemporize their style in a new context. It’s a tough task. Or…maybe I am just an ageist…(or maybe I just have the bad tastes of Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige in mind). Whatever the case, Lay It Down exudes the familiar Al Green of I’m Still In Love With You…30+ years later. Much of this credit of course is due to the man himself. His voice is as smooth as ever. Green’s adlibs are fresh. The man is soulful. The title track, featuring Anthony Hamilton, has Green all over the musical scale, but it works just as it did on “Call Me.” On the production side, The Randy Watson Experience (James Poyser & Questlove) continue to make amazing music. The backdrop they provide Lay It Down preserves Al Green’s soulful crooning. Some how they manage to capture soul of Green’s early days within a 2008 context. At points through Lay It Down, it’s difficult to date the song. That’s the definition of timeless.

Sujinho brings together Madlib and Brazillian drummer/percussionist Mamao, as Jackson Conti (their respective last names). Sujinho is Madlib doing his homework. This isn’t him simply diggin’ through some crates and putting a YNQ spin on some old standard, or concealing some 1964 drumline in some far-out, Quasimoto-Monk Hughes amalgamation. This is Madlib, as Otis Jackson, being the music fan and doing his homework; traveling to South America; eating local cuisine; and kickin’ with an old-school drummer. The result plays like a jam session. Sure, it’s got that now-classic YNQ style to it – the indiscrete shifts in tracks, the occasionally discordance of sounds – but this time, you can hear that more than one person and his imaginary friends are playing together. Madlib and Mamao have made what I presume all jazz-fusion albums of the 60’s and 70’s were like. A few dudes getting together and trading industry secrets, and experimenting. This is nicely demonstrated on “Brazillian Sugar.” Honestly, I’m still digesting the final product. While I’m not a music theorist and cannot dissect the the technicalities, I can judge feelings sounds provide; the overall sound is dynamic, feel-good, & is a perfect Spring-Summer soundtrack.

Anticipating the following:

May 19, 2008

In addition to Al Green & Dwele (Sketches of a Man), the following on my own radar:

– Raashan Ahmad – The Push. Raashan Ahmad is from Crown City Rockers, of Earth Tones fame. I haven’t heard anything off of it, but I’m curious…is all.

– N.E.R.D. – Seeing Sounds.

– Foreign Exchange – Leave It All Behind.

– J-Live – What Happened Next. Always interested to hear this guy on the mic. Always luke warm on some of the production that backs him.

Al Green

May 19, 2008

We’re still here. I’m just getting through an engaging month a work. But, I will be sure to reapply my finger to the music pulse shortly. Kyle? I know he’s busy too.

I am looking forward to Al Green’s album dropping tomorrow. Due to my internet issues, which are still in the process of being resolved (requires a new network card), I’ve been pretty out of touch with any previews, leaks, etc. Most recently, I’ve bought The In Crowd and TM’s The Bridge. Enjoying both, particularly the latter.

I apologize for the minimal action here, but TT will be back in full swing as the weather continues to warm…and this network card is remedied.

Until then, consider the following:

1) what’s your thoughts on The In Crowd and/or The Bridge?
2) your prospects for Al Green?
3) Dwele. Kyle forward me this. Enjoy.

The In Crowd

May 6, 2008

It’s been a tough two weeks around my crib. Internet is acting a fool…or some related apparatus is. Whichever the case, my access to the WWW has been limited and unpredictable. I feel like one of my Constitutional rights is being violated here. I’m not sure how the Founding Fathers would have anticipated the Web, though.

At any rate, I feel like I’ve relegated to the Dark Ages. As far as I’m concerned, the Earth is flat; and the epicenter of the universe. That’s how I feel about music right now. Being that I refuse to listen to the radio, the internet has, for several years now, been my primary source for reading about and listening to new music. I DID actually try to listen to the radio today while I drove to a meeting…I made it through about 17 seconds of what I presume was a Lil’ Wayne song featuring some up-and-coming crooner who I don’t know about.

I don’t know where to start. I’ve spun through my ATCQ discography this week. I still maintain that Erykah’s New Amerykah is the hottest album of 2008. Max Kelleman of ESPNRadio (one of my other brief radio stops today) talked about Mobb Deep as “Shook Ones” played in the background. Him and whichever guy hangs in the studio with him curtly discussed what one has to do to be an “official Queens Bridge murderer.” Good question Max.

Okay. So new music. I just purchased Kidz in the Hall’s The In Crowd. I’ve yet to listened to it. Based on their first album, School Was My Hustle, and the two “mixtapes” that hit the internet, I’m looking forward to getting into this. Re School Was My Hustle – honestly, while I like it, only a portion of the album has any replay value for me. I’m hoping their second offering shows some learning/growth from their debut. I think Double-O has it in him to be a GREAT producer. Anyone who has copped it, thoughts?

CLE @ BOS. I’m out.

Peace and happy listening. Here’s to me sorting this internet out.

NOTE: I was just reminded that Al Green’s Lay It Down drops this month!

UPDATE, 05/08 – “The Black Out” is bangin’ inside my ear drum right now.

Spring Mix

April 22, 2008

Just a brief list of tracks I’ve become cozy with:

1) Tanya Morgan – “Waiting for You,” Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group – Soulful production. Entertaining tale. Ilyas continues to come up with the hilarious verses/delivery. Although, I am underwhelmed with the other TM mix that came out this year, Tanya Morgan presents: Beat Thieves 2, Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group is one of my favorite 2008 releases; I’m really looking forward to their next album.

2) Buckshot f/ Talib Kweli & Tyler Woods – Hold it Down,” The Formula – 9th Wonder taking it back to The Listening days on this. I’m nervous about The Formula, however. Through a few previews, I’ve noted a handful of tracks that feature a female singer on the hook who can’t sing/sounds like she’s 12. What’s the deal with that? (Check De La’s “Much More” feat. Yummy from The Grind Date to get my drift).

3) Kenny Segal f/ Abstract Rude, Aceyalone, Busdriver, Dr. Oop, & Nocando – “Backyard BBQ,” Platinum Dreams – Platinum Dreams is a mix released from 88-Keys, presumably as a primer for the release of his Death of Adam project (due out soon I think). It’s a potpourri of artists, instrumentals, etc. I love the guitar sample in this. Reminds me of something that would have been on ATCQ’s Beats, Rhymes, & Life. And, Aceyalone is awesome.

4) Kidz in the Hall – “Work to Do,” Geniuses Need Love Too/Kidz in the Hall & Mic Boogie Present: Detention – Subtitled Obama ’08. I know this technically came out in 2007, but it’s a dope track.

5) Black Spade – “Evil Love,” To Serve With Love – Chopped up beat. Black Spade sings and raps his way through this love gone wrong plot, “Why do we make up just to break up like this beat here, here…” His stutter delivery is reminiscent of Dilla. A great track off a great album.

6) 100dbs and Ryan O’Neil – “She Got a Body,” The Adventures of The One Hand Bandit and the Slum Computer Wizard – Again, this album/track came out in 2007, but I love this track. Nothing groundbreaking as far as the story goes, think Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty.” 100dbs’s production is solid through the album. I love the subtle horns and keys on this one.

The Tree of Music

April 21, 2008

Eddie Gale – Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music, 1968 Blue Note Records

Insight and ancestry. Two inter-related concepts that highlight the importance of the oft-cited “knowledge of self.” Insight and ancestry also provide context. Within music, insight and ancestry have helped me broaden my tastes and musical aptitude. As such, I think it’s important to occasionally climb down hip hop’s family tree and explore its roots.

I’ve just recently stumbled upon Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music. This is certainly one of those albums that flawlessly recapitulates the form and movement that constitutes great music; similar to the more renowned works of John Coltrane, Fela Kuti, or Sergio Mendes, to name but a few. Reminding myself that I’m still learning to listen to jazz, a few spins through this album has the feel of timelessness, should timelessness be an emotion. With its 1968 release date in mind, it is certainly reminiscent of a time when free form in music paralleled the free ideals that echoed throughout the late 50’s and 1960’s. For example, the use of a choir in the opener, “The Rain,” and the closing “The Coming of Gwilu,” provide a soulful demonstration of people and unity, a subtle, if manufactured, symbol of the civil rights movement. I was impressed to read in this 2004 review that Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music enlist 17 artists: from Eddie Gale on trumpet, steel drum, Jamaican thumb piano, and even bird whistle; his sister Joann Gale on vocals and production (“The Rain”); through a slew of other singers, horn players, and bassists. This album is truly a lesson in unity.

With all those cooks in the kitchen, you may think Ghetto Music may sound disconnected, especially with all the sounds and styles that Gale utilizes throughout. For example, “Fulton Street” is a seeming celebration of a community comprised of different people, or sounds. With the choir chanting “Fulton Street!” and Gale employing an all-orchestral attack as he leads on trumpet, its punctuated toward the end with bass and drum solos, before the choir and orchestra join hands again.

One of my favorites of the five track set is “The Coming of Gwilu.” It begins subtly, with the bird whistle, followed by what is presumably the Jamaican thumb piano, and a flute solo, before the drum- and bass-lines move in. The choir comes in with a classic call and response delivery; finally Gale and the other horns join the procession. “The Coming of Gwilu,” conjures an image of a forming parade: beginning with the whistling bird, floating down a street; it alerts the next marcher, who runs out of his of her house; the flute is alerted to the parade, and runs out of his or her house to join…and so forth and so on…until the entire orchestra (all 17 artists for all I know) are joined together, signaling the coming of Gwilu…down Fulton St. perhaps. Why not?

The aspect of this album I enjoy the most is the interpretive value it holds. A collection of so many artists and sounds is bound to be subjective. For me, it’s the celebration of unity. A poignant message in 1968. A message that has experienced a rebirth in 2008. And such is Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music: dated on one hand; timeless on the other. I’ve searched the net for reviews of this album and have found very few, including the one I’ve linked to above; check here for a comprehensive look at the Eddie Gale – he’s as essential as his music as the people he’s worked with span the musical world. I think the listening experience of Ghetto Music can lead to some great interpretations. Feel free to share your own.

Two closing notes. First, the album art is great. In 1968, was there a more powerful image than a unified procession, with dogs in tow? Secondly, this album reminds me of Max Roach’s We Insist (Freedom Now Suite) from eight years earlier. The diverse sounds and inspiring unity they produced parallels Ghetto Music.

UPDATE: Check this review out as it also covers Gale’s follow-up, Black Rhythm Happening.

Classic 9th

April 17, 2008

By now, I’m sure most of ya’ll have heard Buckshot and 9th Wondra’s “Hold It Down” (off their upcoming The Formula). If you haven’t, I apologize. I’ve been trying to post the video here for the past 30 minutes to no avail. Kyle, you on top of that? Anyway, I’m going to cheat and just throw the link up…here (NahRight, represent).

I’ve been playing this track since I heard it on the Mic Boogie/Kweli The MCEO Mixtape. I didn’t have the wherewithal (or arithmetic) to put 2 & 2 together and realize this would be on The Formula.

At any rate, I’m feelin’ 9th on this beat and looking forward to Buckshot and 9th part 2 (I thought Chemistry was real dope). Keep up the good work gentlemen.


Hip hop for President

April 2, 2008

In case anyone wondered if Barack would approve a hip hop mixtape that endorsed him for president.

Hip hop is not just a mirror for what is; it should also be a reflection of what can be…imagine communities where we’re respecting our women.

“On behalf of the great state of Illinois, the land of Lincoln…”

April 1, 2008

Word on the street is there is an “Obama for President” mixtape in the works. Word?

I wonder if this will be the authorized mixtape.

Might this be on it?

UPDATE: Ivan, as usual, is already up on this.

Tanya Morgan is a rap group

March 31, 2008

I really enjoy perusing hip hop blogs to see what everyone is listening to; who likes that album, track, beat, emcee, etc. Since the Tanya Morgan/DJ Soul mixtape, Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group, has hit the web, I’ve been surprised at the little I’ve read on it. I’m still spinnin’ New Ameryah, and of late, have been going through my De La discography; but Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group has really been a speaker hog. Their full length, Moonlighting, was certainly in my top 5 of 2006. And, while this mixtape is an amalgam of sorts, representing old TM, random tracks/cameos, and presumably some tastes of TM to come, I think it’s one of the better listens out right now. I know I don’t live in a vacuum – hence, my suprise at the little blog space I’ve found sharing thoughts on TM. I’ve read quite a bit on Guilty and eMC (since the latter’s official release, even more so). I’ve had two questions:

First, is Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group kind of overlooked because it is a mixtape, and not an “official” release? I can see this happening (or, are listens too wrapped up in Ode and The Show to notice?) I tend to categorize mixtapes differently than LPs; but, I think TMRP is just that dope! Secondly, are people turned off of TM because they’re seen as “hipsters?” I never thought about this, but I have seen some bloggers express that they’re turned off by the “hipster movement.” I was 10 when 3 Feet High & Rising came out, so I wasn’t privy to real-time discussions on that album; But, as afterthoughts years later, I do recall a similar critique of De La Soul. De La responded by titling their sophomore release, De La Soul is Dead, as a humorous answer to the hype around 3 Feet. Hence, I guess this contemplation has spawned a other questions:

Is there a “hipster movement?” If so, does it have a definitive shelf life? If TM are hipsters, who joints them in their movement? (they need allies, no?) Are they trying to take over the world? Or are they trying to save the world? Are they entwined in a rivalry? Perhaps hipsters are affiliated with backpackers? How do hipsters feel about the rising gas prices? Do they not rhyme about watches and cars because they can’t afford them? Will they have their own video game? Who would play Von Pea in a movie? Just because Illyas got locks, does it mean he’s Jamaican? Who’s more likely to back their movement: Obama or Hillary?

I know, I’ve given you a lot to consider. It will help you if you put your Tanya Morgan playlist on; be sure to include any Von Pea you can get.



March 20, 2008

I think some fellow bloggers have done a good job of elucidating the sampling debate given some shine by Lord Quas’s apparent request for the removal of a compilation of original samples for Madvillainy. Hiphopisread has been on the story like Fox News on a car chase in Los Angeles; I’ve enjoyed perusing it during my morning blogroll. (Side note: some of the “blogger” comments he imbedded in his post are quite funny). Being as Kyle and I have often had this discussion in the past, and also employed the oft-quoted Primo, “…that’s some greedy ass, fake bull$hit…” I wanted to add my nickels.

The researcher in me accepts most of the sentiments shared by Ivan and some of his readers. There are few experiences that get me more amped than listening to a track and having that “A-Ha” moment that links a track to some dusty song from three decades ago. I’ve often, in my excitement, dropped some of my friends an email, something to the effect: “Yo, check [Track Title] by [Artist]; you hear that vocal sample/bassline/etc.? Yadda yadda yadda…”

As such, my interest in compilations such as the aforementioned Madvillainy samples, or websites that curtail my research, e.g. SampleSpot, certainly peak my interest and have serviced me well. And I have sought out sites that provide information on tracks; I own several compilation albums, e.g. (and perhaps ironically) DJ Premier Salutes James Brown, which features original James Brown tracks on one disc, with Disc 2 featuring hip hop songs that sampled said tracks…mixed by Primo by the way (as per my sources).

In short, the hip hop fan in me appreciates the access to sampling information, whether it’s in the album’s credits or not.

With that said, I can also align with the ideas that Lord Quas, or Madlib, or whoever else may posit regarding the act of posting/promulgating sample origins. Hear me out.

Hip hop producers have managed to make great music AND clear/cite their samples. Both activities can coexist in a “financially perpendicular” relationship. ha

However, I can understand, from an artist’s perspective, why they’d prefer to have the samples remain obscure…or at least not available in a collective union. It MAY challenge the freedom they have in making the beats we love so much. I understand the gist of sample clearance. From that, I can derive a sense of what an artist must go through when conceptualizing a track/beat/album – it can be quite daunting I imagine. And while I mean no disrespect to the sampled artists, I don’t think clearance should be a hindrance to the creation of an amazing album, say…for consistency sake, Madvillainy.

I know, it’s really an argument one can hardly push through too easily.

Okay, the grand finale.

From an artist’s perspective, I can certainly understand Lord Quas’s request (the manner and reason of his request are another thing). While I don’t wholly agree that identifying samples hurts hip hop, I think it walks the fence of hip hop capitulating to “the Man,” or sample clearance regulations. As such, it almost defies the spirit of what backs the revolutionary history of hip hop. Despite the Souljah Boys and Rick Ross’s of the world, I still see hip hop as the music of the people; the unity, soul, and creative threads that tie its listeners together. (Sorry, I’ve been distracted by Duke winning…talk about snitches…) In a way, I see sampling as aligning with that notion, and allowing artists to spin some sonic yarn that I, in NJ, can feel, as well as dude in Texas, L.A., Chicago.

NOTE: The above are the thoughts of me, and do not necessarily, or in its entirety, reflect the thoughts of other Trading Tapes contributors. But, if Kyle agrees with what I’ve shared, he damn well better cite me.

UPDATE: Check hiphopisread for an update on the debate, and another insightful perspective.


March 18, 2008

I know, it’s been a while. I’m still bumpin’ New Amerykah and The Adventures of Seymour Liberty – always important, for me at least, when an album still has spins after the first few weeks. Usually, when I get an album I’m diggin’, I’ll play the crap out of it for a week or two; then, via natural selection, the album will get sorted into the proper hierarchy. For example, Mobb Deep’s Infamous received hella spins when I first got it…and it has pretty strong replay value to this day. Similarly, Common’s Like Water For Chocolate still has spinning influence, or spinfluence, 8 years later (or 7.5 years); compare this with Com’s follow-up, Electric Circus, which I gave plenty of spins when I first got it – now, usually I’ll pick-and-play tracks intermittently.

Market experts predict that EB’s NA will have strong spinfluence – I’m still bumpin’ “Me,” “The Hump,” and “Soldier on the regular. Similar with Coultrain’s ASL (album’s tempo and arrangement reminds me of Dwele’s Some Kinda…)

When I posted my big review of Erykah’s New Amerykah, I think I may have overestimated the commercial appeal. Perhaps it’s the influence of reading others’ reviews, but I think this album may be too layered for commercial staying power. Listen, Erykah’s no Nitchze, but some may not be patient enough to listen to Erykah’s stream of consciousness, dream-like flow. I was glad to see New Amerykah in the top 10 (debuted and peaked at #2; currently #6) after her first week nonetheless. I tend try not to measure an album by sales, but naturally, I support artists I like getting paid.

In addition to the previously noted, I’ve also been bumpin’ my BDP discography. Big ups to hiphopisread for his sample-related posts; listening to BDP is very similar – is KRS-ONE the most cited emcee in hip hop? Or Rakim? Anyone do that research? “Stop the Violence” off By All Means Necessary is where it’s at – relevant 20 years later. And how contemporary does “Necessary” sound? Relativism and racism under the scope; “Yeah, I’m making some money; he’s making some money/but none of these are necessity/what I find to be a necessity is/controlling a positive destiny.”

And finally, I just grabbed the new Tanya Morgan mixtape, Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group, here. I’m a big Tanya Morgan & Von Pea guy so I’m pretty excited to peep this. Anyone check it yet? Thoughts?