Archive for the ‘Tracks’ Category

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).

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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.

Quick Scan on “Album of the Year”

September 19, 2010

This is an excellent effort by Black Milk, props to Pete for picking it… I write here to offer a few of my initial thoughts after the first couple listens.

In general:

Lots of guitars, power keys, and multi-part harmony hooks give the album that psychedelic hip-rock feel. Other than one track with Mr. Porter on a hook, the collabs detract from the album.  It has a tremendous upbeat pace, while maintaining a mellow mood. Live instrumentation adds a soulfulness to most of the tracks, as many of them strip down to their component instrumental parts in extended interludes at the end of several tracks.

High points:

Distortion” The beat is one of the toughest on an album full of bangers, and Black is at once hype and introspective in recounting the passing of close friend Baatin.

Closed Chapter (Feat. Mr. Porter)” That high-pitched, short guitar hook gives this track a sentimental feel as Black muses about his motivations in life and work.

Disappointments:

Deadly Medley (Feat. Royce 5’9″ & Elzhi)” I was expecting a lot more here. The beat is ridiculously great, and with three of Detroit’s best emcees on one track, I expected this to be a highlight–that was not so. Royce uses this stutter flow that just sounds off-beat to me, and no killer punchlines; and Elzhi’s voice doesn’t sound like him at all.

Over Again” I’m so-so on this track. I like everything about it except the hook. I’m not crazy about Monica Blaire’s voice, but I’m still getting to know her material, which you can find collected at her MySpace page.

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.

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.

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.

Thoughts?

Breaking News: Erykah’s Amerykah

February 22, 2008

Check it. I have a few moments here – but will try and get a lengthier post up later – to follow a scoop on Erykah Badu’s new LP, New Amerykah, Part 1: 4th World War. Word on the street is that it has indeed hit the interweb. Dead ends are abound. But, I HAVE been able to check a few tracks, in addition to “The Healer” & “Honey,” the latter of which has grown on me. So, I’m bumpin’ “Soldier” right now, produced by Karriem Riggins. Heat. Got Erykah on some positive thought of mind – strong, measured drums, floating flute (?) – Riggins punctuating the track with his “Yeah,” “Ha,” & variations of “Ugh;” I listened for a “Let’s Go,” but alas, there is none. Erykah’s got a movement in mind for this: “We goin’ keep marchin’ on, until you hear that freedom song/and if you think about turnin’ back, I got that shotgun on your back…everyone knows what this songs about…” I’m feelin’ this for sure. And it also reminds me that Riggins is on Stonesthrow. Just a bit a foreshadowing.

Morning cuppa Go…

January 17, 2008

Been meaning to compile a list of morning tracks that get me going on my 5 mile commute to work. Kyle and I have traded tracks for years now, when our sleep cycle is stoked by a particular “morning” track – I think I’d be doing a good service to share them, you know, in case anyone is looking for a musical pick-me-up in the morning. Please feel free to post your own in the comments, I’m always looking for a new morning cuppa go…(these aren’t presented in any particular order) “Okra” by Olu Dara (from 1998’s In the World: From Natchez to New York) – Olu does is damn thing here, with this sense-sational track that awakens more than the eyes. This laidback, breezy track reminds me summer days sitting in my uncle’s apple orchard, eating fresh strawberries and plums; and that cornet…like coffee teasing the olfactory sense. “Grazing in the Grass” by Hugh Masekela (from Still Grazing) – probably one of the more recognizable trumpet melodies, Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass” is one of the most invigorating tracks in my music collection and man, you have to love the cowbell. If I were a producer, I’d make the cowbell my signature piece. I would say this could be considered a standard, as it’s been covered by several artists, since it was first written in the mid-1960’s; if you prefer the harmonica, check out Eivets Rednow’s version from 1968’s “Alfie.” (yeah, that Stevie Wonder). I can’t think of anything off-hand that has sampled this, other than this from Nice & Smooth’s Ain’t a Damned Thing Changed. “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield (from Curtis) – Kanye did us all a service by bringing a much-deserved light to this gem. Mayfield actually has a few candidates for the A.M., but the horns on this certainly move it up the list. “Work to Do” – Kidz in the Hall – ill soul-sample; empowering message; beat that instills optimism. This is a great track to pump when you know you’ve got a contentious meeting waiting for you. “I Was Made to Love Her” – Stevie Wonder (from I Was Made to Love Her) – What can I say? I love Stevie and I love how Stevie seemed like he was always singing for the last time ever. This is a great example of why soul of the 60’s and 70’s trumps the majority of “soul” or “R&B” today – you can’t help but believe Stevie loves Susie; most contemporary cats don’t get this aspect of singing. Thank God for cats like Dwele. “Starlite” by Panacea (from Ink is My Drink) – love the pace of the beat and the effervescence of the melody. “Jaimerais” by Hocus Pocus (from 73 Touches) – it’s in French, I have no idea what he’s rhymin’ about (or if he’s even rhymin’), but I reckon it’s some tale of lost love (?). The melody and chorus create a care-free sound, and the horns put the nail in the coffin for this being a morning classic. I swear, that singer sounds like Vinia Mojica…but I have nothing to back it up. “Me, Myself, & I” by De La Soul (from 3 Feet High and Rising) – if you don’t know, you better ask somebody “Won’t Do” by J Dilla (from The Shining) – there are a slew of Dilla-produced tracks that make their way into the A.M. playlist, e.g. SV’s “Raise it Up,” but this is one of my favorites. Great sample! And Dilla, on the hook! “Whatever You Say” by Little Brother (from The Listening) – if this beat doesn’t conjure buds, bees, and birds, and all things related to the seeds of amorous feelings, the good old vernal equinox, then I’m through. Phonte’s non-rhyming verse is classic in my book, and 9th killed this…as with the majority of tracks on that album.That list is not exhaustive of course, but it’s a good start to any morning. Throw them on a playlist, and enjoy better days in 30 days or less…Peace

Spotlight on Kidz in the Hall…

December 10, 2007

I had to throw this up cause I’ve been really feelin’ “Work to Do” from Kidz in the Halls’ mixtape, Detention. This is one of the most feelin-ess-good tracks out right now and I had to give props to Ivan over at hiphopisread for bringing light to a great track. What a sick theme song this would be if Obama strolled out for debates with this bumpin’.

Time Machine: The Nonce’s “World Ultimate” (1995)

November 15, 2007

Right now I’m listening to The Nonce’s World Ultimate, and feel it necessary to give it its due props. Sure, in some circles it may be considered an underground classic, but I know there are some very knowledgeable hip hop fans who haven’t had the opportunity to listen to this. From experience in trying to get my hands on it, the album is out of print and your best bet is to scope Amazon or some other site that supports used record/CD sales. I’m sure internet savvy listeners can get their Sherlock Holmes on and find it online too.

Sonically, World Ultimate parallels a Digible Planets-Pharcyde tip. Members Nouka Basetype & Yusef Afloat handle all the production, as per my research. Like many producers from the early to mid-90’s, they utilize a rich blend of jazz samples, creating an extremely laidback sound. Generally, the album is without any hard drums (save for “West Is…” and maybe “Eighty Five,” but both still are low-key). Safe to say, you won’t have to worry about breaking any speakers while this album slips out of your system. Similar to the likes of ATCQ and Jungle Brothers, The Nonce feature some ridiculous basslines. “Mix Tapes,” the album’s lead single, is backed by a sturdy 1-2 combo from bass. Similarly, “Hoods Like To Play” sounds like it could blend nicely with Digible Planet’s “Rebirth of Slick.” And what would a mid-90’s album be without a horn loop? “Good to Go” sounds like a Diamond D beat (imagining Big L rippin’ it), with a horn dancing in and out, alternating in its presence throughout the track. The title track works as the album’s strongest in my opinion. It’s a little more playful compared to the rest of the album and is reminiscent of a Pharcyde track. I really dig the hook, which is simply “World, world, world ultimate” repeating; you have to hear it to appreciate it.

If you’re able to get your hands and ears on this (or if you have it and need to dust it off), do so tonight. With the consistent sound/production and relatively brief play time (@ 50 minutes), it’s easy to listen to from front to back.

RE: Cassette-Oriented Nostalgia

November 7, 2007

Kyle, great look throwing that up…that sh*t is crazy nostalgia…even those bubble jackets remind me of the cats who used to play ball with us. How the hell did they play basketball with those things on? And hats…who plays in baseball hats? Always messed my J up…

My favorite joint off Illmatic is “The World Is Yours.” That piano is so 1994 it’s ridiculous. I swear man, I can close my eyes with that track on and I’m right back at Luap Snaj’s playing video games…

Ohmega Watts – “Just think…”

October 11, 2007

…what if you can just be a, kid again, and waste the day, never worry about life or tooth decay… – from “Model Citizen”

Yeah, I’m know it’s already been out for 3 days & I’ve yet to comment on it, but I’m working on (that is, just started bumpin’ it). Ohmega’s Watts Happening may be the most anticipated album for me this year (right up there with Jneiro Jarel’s Shape of Broad Minds project…and we’ll see if LB’s Get Back ever gets released in 2007). I was completely enamored with The Find; a genre-melding cornucopia of sounds, upbeat lyrics & production. That album definitely highlighted what I love about hip hip and I’ve been anxious to hear the new album.

Admittedly, I just got into it yesterday – it’s been a busy music week & I wanted to make sure I had some time to sit down and listen. Already, I’m really feeling “Model Citizen,” a laid back PSA on the role of adults (particularly fathers) in the lives of our children. Sorry, I couldn’t find a less corny way to describe it, but if you’ve read anything on here (specifically earlier posts of TT), you know I am wary of hip hop that has seemingly slipped into an acquisitive irresponsibility. Avoiding the soap box, “Model Citizen” is a thoughtful reflection on parent, media, and celebrity influence on kids; Ohmega also inconspicuously speaks on family dynamics, setting up a message that builds up the role of fathers, which is sorely needed – just the opinion of a long time hip hip listener.

He proves that it’s not unhip hop to be empathic:

A lot of kids can’t even say they love someone, cause nobody ever cared, but I stand correct, cause I’m somebody right here…

Offering himself as guide:

Cause here I am, a young man, with only hope to share, at one point & time, see I truly didn’t care, now I be the same light like the one that guided me

On “artists” (hip hop community and beyond perhaps?):

These artists neglect you, sayin’ they don’t give a what, they’re more concerned with making a buck

Just a feel good song that demonstrates that some in the hip hop community care. Interestingly, Ohmega Watts’s music is right up there with Jneiro & Madlib (among many) in stylistic experimentation; certainly moreso than some of these other “artists” who claim their artistic priority tops any community responsibility, e.g. “Yo, I’m just expressing myself through my art.” (Not hating, just highlighting a disparity.)

Certainly more to come on Watts Happening…stay tuned…

The ARE & Dem Damb Jacksons

September 28, 2007

Another afternoon of unwinding. Today’s soundtrack includes The ARE’s featuring Dem Damb Jacksons (with Oh No & Kay [of the Foundation]). The ARE, to my knowledge half of the group K-Otix, has released a few free albums (mainly instrumental) through RappersIKnow. Other than them, my only experience has been random tracks from various albums, e.g. there is a K-Otix track on the second Superrappin volume, a cameo on the wholly underrated Art of OneMind (Illmind & S1), and a slew of production credits, i.e. “So Perfect” from Sivion’s Spring of the Songbird. (If anyone can identify the sample of the latter, it’d be much appreciated).

The ARE’s sound is quite reminiscent of Nicolay, and while I usually try to avoid the “if you like ‘x’ you’ll like ‘y’ ” I feel confident in suggesting that if you dig Nicolay’s bouncy-jazzy-synthy sound, you’ll be able to get into The ARE. Many of his beats are lined with distinct drums and you can count on an ill soul sample.

On Featuring Dem Damb Jacksons, so many things are going right I don’t know where to start. A brief synopsis may go something like this: Oh No & Kay both share the same last name of Jackson. The ARE does not. Oh No & Kay handle much of the writing and rhyming, hence the “Dem Damb Jacksons.” For The ARE’s role, he samples heavily from some other famous Jacksons, focusing mainly on The Jacksons/Jackson 5, but thankfully, on “Oh” using Michael’s “Baby Be Mine.” As with Kanye’s “Good Life” (and SWV’s “Right Here”), I’m always an instant fan when MJ is sampled. So, you roll Oh No, Kay, & The ARE out and what you have is a brief (@ 30 mins) listen which is soulful & hip-hop from 0:00 to 30:06 (the end).

Despite being a big Jacksons/MJ fan, the samples used aren’t easily identified. The ARE’s cutting is on point; he incorporates several synthy guitars, and heavy bass..at least on “Keep Trying,” one of my favorite tracks, which features D-Rose (also of the Foundation) and Donwill (of Ilwill & Tanya Morgan fame). On it, Donwill echos the sentiments of many hip hops fans (I know Kyle & I have admitted this several times): “Rap is a hell of drug/you can’t stop, won’t stop…” The track essentially works as a motivational, “this is the shit I had to go through” song.

Listening to this makes me want to listen to my entire The Jacksons collection. The sampling at times is so inconspicuous that I’ve been replaying over and over again trying to pinpoint the exact song. “So Far” is a perfect example – drifty melody backed by bangin’ drums, with MJ dancing in between it all. “I Want You Gone” uses The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” a track that has been sampled several times, yet The ARE’s use is subtle enough that it doesn’t jump out at you.

Another great aspect of the album is it’s free. That’s right. Just like I did, you can head over to RappersIKnow right now and download it (along with the instrumental version). And while your there, be sure to search The ARE and d/l his Still Climbing EP, which features a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks…including the dope “Hip Hop” with Strange Fruit Project.

Track to look out for…”Believer”

September 21, 2007

As usual, my brand of quick look-see: “Believer” from Pete Philly & Perquisite’s Mystery Repeats, is also ruminating through my auditory cortex. Guitar, bass, drums, piano – a nice, rolling collaboration with Pete Philly pulling his Mos Def (on “Umi Says”) card (he also makes references to his mother saying something) and does a more than commendable job dancing over the instrumental. Positive message for the young kids…just when you think the track needs something else (ahem, a horn), you get a relaxed sax (a relaxophone?) at the end…AND the track closes with applause…enough said…

Brown Co. “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”

September 21, 2007

Fridays are good enough. But today I was on a mission to come home from work and bump some tunes…Tuesdays may be new music releases, but Fridays are typically the days I like to unwind and bump the new joints. Today I’ve been spinning the new Pete Philly & Perquisite, Mystery Repeats and even newer, Brown Co.’s Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. The latter I’ve gotten into quite quickly.

Brown Co. follows a pretty standard hip hop formula. It consists of emcees Haji P & Dundee (North Carolina) and production featuring DJ MF Shalem & Rezo. It all appears to be pretty standard hip hop, and in a way, their approach to music is as well…which is what I’m really feelin’. Tracks like “Ready on The Left” features some classic hip hop references (“We double, b-b-bubblin’ hot”). Brown Co. definitely approaches hip hop from a perspective in which the music is primary. “Who’s that” sounds like it may tap into the same sample used by Beyonce on “Upgrade You” (if that is indeed the track name) but for Brown Co. works like a light, party track, again imbuing some old school love, using Tribe’s “Who’s that?!…Brown…” from “Scenario” in the hook. But these guys really hit the jack pot on in sample selection on “Saturday Night,” using Q-Tip’s “Saturday” from De La’s “A Roller Skate Joint Named ‘Saturday'”. And while these two samples I’ve highlighted are used minimally, simply comprising parts of the hook, their selection means more to me than how their utilized.

Overall, Haji P & Dundee keep the album pretty light and enjoyable. There is no perpetuation of drugs, sex, money or violence. And save for tracks like “Eat At Whitey’s,” the subject matter does not get too abstact either – they find a medium that makes for an enjoyable album without sounding dumbed down. It’s worth noting, “Eat At Whitey’s” reminds me of something off “3 Feet High & Rising.” As does the track that follows, “I’m Brown,” a light foray into the color of their skin. This track sort of works like a more fun companion to Mos & Kweli’s “Astronomy (8th Light)”:

I’m brown like the leaves in fall season/when it’s convenient I’m brown for all the right reasons/affirmative action, equal opportunity, with any nationality, it mix together beautifully…I’m not afraid of the ultraviolet rays, cause I’m brown enough to fight it

One of my favorite parts of the albums comes at the end, where Haji P is having a phone conversation with his mom; when he asks her to say that he’s gangster, she replies: “But you’re not.” Hilarious.

It’s always nice to listen to an album that lacks the pretention and image-heavy packaging that hip hop tends to perpetuate. That’s my piece for right now…enjoy.

Panacea – “Walk In The Park”

September 6, 2007

I’ve just nearly made my way through Panacea’s The Scenic Route for the second time. Although early, my original thought it that is sounds similar to the first album (not in a bad way). I think K-Murdock (producer) & MC Raw Poetic were on some brilliant shit on their debut Ink Is My Drink, so I’m glad to hear them keep it movin’ through the second release – sends a clear message that these dudes have a characteristic sound.

While “Walk In The Park” isn’t even my favorite track on the new album, I was really intrigued by the title. Before I even listened to it, the title conjured images of a breezy melody, and something that could be enjoyed with a female…much like a walk in the park.

Lo & behold, a breezy beat is exactly what we have here. When the track first hits, it sounds like vinyl cracking (great effect, but not all that original). What it turns out to be is the sound of outside, presumably in a quite urban/suburban setting (I think bus breaks can be heard if you listen carefully). It sounds like a walk through a quiet park…in my head during the spring. It also features a Sound Providers-esque guitar lick. Breezy melody – check.

Floating through the breezy track are some equally light, lyrics:

Fine as she wanna be from close up or a distance/irregular heartbeat, challenges persistence/I just wanna see ya so I speak through trees…

Hypnotized, her body booty swayin’/Eye contact, is what I keep on makin’/It may be, a chance that’s worth the takin’/nature is to love what God is to creation

I love the parallel between watching a tree blow in the wind and watching a female walk down the street.

While its title had me thinking somewhat along the right lines, it turns out to be an ode to a relationship, highlighting the whimsical breeze of a park walk, “I walk through a park on a lover’s quest.”

Re Thoughts (on Tip’s “Work It Out”)

September 6, 2007

I have deja vu with this track, but I’ve gone through all my Q-Tip material and cannot lasso it. To my ears, it’s reminiscent of “The Frog,” from Sergio Mendes’ Timeless.

Q-Tip’s so consistent on the mic, and beyond his lyrics, one thing I love about him is his ear for good music. I can’t recall being disappointed with any track he’s either produced or picked to rhyme/sing on; same can be said about this beat. Good call on Kyle’s part RE his [Q-Tip’s] “Word Play”-esque rhyme style.