Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sweet Tea Ethics w/ Ed Garnes, Cornell West and Killer Mike

My buddy Ed Garnes, Killer Mike, Dr. Cornel West, Clifton West discuss market forces, hip hop, and why you won’t hear dead prez or Phonte on the radio. Actually....Killer Mike kind of takes over the discussion. If any of you have missed opportunities to hear him speak, maybe now you see why I talk about him as frequently as I do...

Friday, February 19, 2010

The 15 Levels of Your Tormented Break-Up (Which level are you on?)

Breaking up is hard to do...but music sure does make it easier, right? If you're going through it, figure out which level you're on...and try to get to Level 15 as quickly as possible.

Level 1- It seeps in slowly, but you gradually start to admit that maybe this isn’t right.

Algebra- "Halfway"

Level 2- After a lot of arguing (with yourself as well as your dude/girl), you know that it just isn’t going to work. You’re tired. But maybe…

Jill Scott- "Whenever You're Around"

Level 3- Oh yeah, nah. It’s definitely over.

Dion- "Let It Go"

Level 4- Pack your stuff and get out. Seriously, don't even take off your coat. Leave.

Foreign Exchange- "Valediction"

Level 5- Upon realizing this is really the end, the person you’ve been the most vulnerable with is no longer yours, you begin the painful fight with the inevitable.

Lauryn Hill- "Ex Factor"

Level 6- Especially if the lovin was really, really back-breakingly fantastic.

Teedra Moses- "Backstroke"

Level 7- You begin to mistake the throes of passion for the ability to have a long lasting relationship. You think missing your ex means you’re supposed to be with him/her. So, you try, again.

John Legend- "Again"

Level 8- Finally, you admit that it’s just not going to work. For real this time...

Duffy- "Warrick Avenue"

Level 9- ....Sigh. Aw, man. Seriously? Again? ….Again??

John Legend- "Another Again"
*Random side note: John Legend, who normally reminds me of a koala bear is ri-dic-u-lously sexy in this video. Like, good gracious. Especially the parts where he’s on the piano, playing all tortured-like. If you’re a hetero-female, you may be stuck here for a minute.

Level 10- Ok. It’s over now. Really. Being honest with yourself makes you mad. Actually, you’re downright bitter. It’s probably hard to be around you and your moping.

Amy Winehouse- "Love is a Losing Game"

Level 11- Despite your bitterness and anger toward your ex, you manage to nevertheless feel jealous when your old lover makes a new friend. You just can’t help it.

Erykah Badu- "Green Eyes"

Level 12- Will you ever feel…normal again? You wonder if you will ever be able to really love anyone else.

Anthony Hamilton- "Never Love Again"

Level 13- You mope and mope. Eventually, you get over yourself and start to realize that life isn’t over yet. Maybe someone else will love you better.

Joi-"Another Rocket"

Level 14- You accept that loving is the best part of life, even when it hurts. It affirms your humanity, it strengthens your soul, it revitalizes your outlook it…. yeah.

India.Arie- "Good Morning"

Level 15- Finally, you believe, once again, that you’re going to find your human version of “the truth.” And this time, it just might work.

Anthony Hamilton-"The Truth"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Playboy Tre's "Look At This S***-- The Break-In

Damn recession. Playboy Tre is a good dude... like he said, gotta watch who comes in an out of your house. People are untrustworthy. My stomach dropped when he said they stole his tower. I can only imagine.

Anyways, couldn't help but think of this classic DJ Quik verse:

"They musta thought that I was gonna play the punk role, just because my equipment got stole/but I ain't goin out like a sucka ass clown, they found, they couldn't keep a dope nigga down..."

Stay positive, Tre.

5 Reasons Why Artists Should Just Shut Up and Sing

1. Mystery. People are always intrigued by what they don't know. It's why men chase "mysterious/exotic" women, it's why women are attracted to "bad boys"...you get it. So, with that in mind, it might behoove artists to stop being so revealing. There are ways to use social networking sites to your advantage by allowing fans an "intimate" glimpse into your life... keyword here being glimpse. You get to decide what intimate actually means-- you can reveal just enough to make people want to know more/like you more, without actually telling them anything (see: Questlove or Solange's Twitter).  It's not necessary for you to tell your fans what color your doo-doo is, how much you feel like masturbating, or your opinion on everything that happens (unless you're Lil Duval and are making actual jokes about stuff.) After all, these social-networking sites should be used by artists to make people like you more, not cringe every time they hear your music because they can't forget the mundane remark you made during a moment of drunken stupidness on Twitter the day before.

2. Fantasy. When I close my eyes and listen to "Clarity" or "Stop This Train" or "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" I get an automatic image of John Mayer in my head: a cool, sensitive but not corny dude, who is insightful beyond his years. That's part of what makes music magic. You should be able to be transported into some emotion or feeling that is authentic. But the mood is ruined when, while listening to "Your Body is a Wonderland," I'm forced to think about your "David Duke" penis comments from an interview you just did. The fantasy is that the singer could be singing to you-- or that the singer genuinely embodies what he's singing/writing about. Saying too much, ruins it. *Thank goodness, I wasn't actually that offended by his self-congratulating retardation. White people really don't surprise me with their "unintended" racism. Besides, I really love "Vultures."

3. Honesty can be detrimental. Let's face it: people don't enjoy hearing the truth, particularly when it offends and disrupts whatever fairytale they've weaved in their mind about any particular subject. As artists, your artistic existence is rooted in whatever your fan's perception is of you. (Note: I'm talking about true fans/supporters, not fly-by-nights). Now, this perception can be created mostly through your music/art, or, it can be created mostly by your persona/personal life. I know caring about how folks perceive you can be limiting, and it can be stressful. But the good thing here is, to a degree, you control what that perception is. Sometimes the best control is to simply say nothing. Don't do a lot of interviews (see: Sade, Maxwell, Mos Def). Unfortunately, sometimes it's better to let people speculate about who you are than to actually know. Don't comment on every single thing that happens, especially if it doesn't concern you or the community at large. Don't drunk Tweet. Don't try to "prove" yourself as something by being "raw" in an interview. Not saying you can't be you, but sometimes, it's just TMI. Sometimes your honesty should just be something that's expressed to yourself and your close cirlce of fam and friends who actually know you. Or better yet, your honesty should be limited to your music. It'll earn you loads of critical acclaim for being fearless and vulnerable, not loads of attention for being a selfish jerk.

4. People are self-righteous. That's the nature of man-- judge another while ignoring your own faults and limitations (see: the 50 million bible references to this very subject). Of course, your bonehead decisions or comments will blow over in a couple weeks because we live in a Digital World where info comes and goes like air. But, for the 15 minutes that people are paying attention to, dissecting and judging your every thought, mistake, opinion or whatever, it's torture. No doubt, people will judge you even if you try to live your life squeaky clean. When you open yourself up to be interpreted by other folks on a grand scale, that's inevitable. But there's some scrutiny you can avoid by simply shutting up.

5. You rarely say anything that matters anyway. I'm speaking for the bulk of artists that find themselves under the scrutiny of lame-o bloggers and tabloid shows. If you're being "attacked" for say, speaking out about police terrorism, the truth about prosperity preachers and their detrimental impact on the community, racism, the war, or even the Illuminati-- then that's something different. It's noble even. But if you're being "attacked" for flapping your lips about the details of your sex life, speaking on an issue you know absolutely nothing about, or for stupid comments you made in the heat of some random emotion, folks are a little less likely to fly to your defense. 

Point? Just shut up and sing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

5 Reasons to Download Bobby Creekwater's Back to Briefcase 2

I have to motivate myself to download the onslaught of mixtapes that are out today. Hell, I just don't have the 5 and a half minutes it takes to do so, and my computer can only hold but so much. Beyond that, I only download stuff that I know I'm actually going to listen to for more than two days.

Rappers release mixtape, after mixtape, with no real regard for their product in attempts to obtain buzz, that rarely translates into sales or maybe more importantly, actual fans (That Retail Chick expounds on this regularly on her site). You artists should really put more value on your music---as Phonte told me in a recent interview, "It's better to have one project with 5 'really great' songs than a 22-track mixtape with 2 'really good songs', 4 'aiight songs,' 3'eh' songs..." If you put half as much effort into your music as you do posting about what cereal you're currently eating on Twitter, or how many blunts you smoked to get inspired to head to the studio, you might actually be memorable.

Anyways, it's with those thoughts in mind that I've decided to start posting the few mixtapes/eps/projects that I consider worth actually downloading.
So, first up, 5 Reasons to Download Bobby Creekwater's Back to Briefcase 2.

1. He sounds like an Atlanta rapper who was raised on the Dungeon Family should sound. If DF and Organized laid the blueprint, why is there so much crap emerging from a city that is chock-full of talented artists that were inspired by greatness? Creek sounds like he grew up under the tutelage of his "big brothers" from DF. And very randomly...where is Big Floaty?

2. He isn't rapping about dumb shit. Not only is he not a silly ass rapper, but he doesn't rap like a silly ass rapper either. "Money was the motivation, now it ain't...there I said it..." - Exhibit B.C, Squared.
3. He's inspiring without being a cornball. He took his name from the creek that ran behind his Grandma's old house because it had longevity. I dunno, I just thought that was cool. Ya'll know I love rappers that can relate to the working class, and aspire to see people do better without sounding all superior about it (see: Killer Mike, Bun B, Scarface, Playboy Tre).

4. He can rap his ass off. There's a reason why Eminem signed him and why he's been signed to like three different labels over the course of the decade. Like Novel, he's super talented, and I don't understand why execs still haven't figured out what to do with him. Oh well, independent is better anyway.
5. I don't feel like I need to be on acid to understand what the hell he's talking about. His music sounds like riding through East Point with the windows down on a warm, late Saturday afternoon.

"Lust For Life (Memix)"-

01. Intro
02. Boyz on the Block
03. October 19th 8:30
04. The Aroma
05. Lust For Life (Memix)
06. Warm Up
07. Invented Checks
08. Harder
09. Farewell
10. Wasted (Memix)
11. A World
12. Definition of Creek
13. Whatever You Want
14. Two Hundred Grand
15. I’m So Cool
16. Business Man
17. Outro

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Music: Food Chain "F*cc N*ggas" featuring Talib Kweli

I interviewed Denver-based rap group, Food Chain a couple of weeks ago and they were super cool. Good dudes with good music... a rare combo. This is a song off of their new project, Corpses, which drops tomorrow and features Talib Kweli, Big Pooh, Chaundon and Joe Scudda.

"F*cc N*ggas" featuring Talib Kweli

Friday, February 5, 2010

Life Advice from Devin the Dude

Ah, the never-ending joys of Devin the Dude. I was talking to my brother about how Devin pretty much has a song for every life circumstance.

Feeling bad about your finances? Circumstances? Throwing yourself a pity party? ... "Anythang"

"You ain't the only one who has problems...you ain't the only one who knows pain/Get up off your ass and just solve 'em...you still got a chance to try to change (try the shit again)..."

Upset about unrequited love? Wonder why folk only want to come around when you're up, but ain't around when you're going through it (and probably need them the most)? Grant it, this is pretty vulgar, the the general point is well-taken... "Only Your Mother"

"Now you lookin for a shoulder to lean and bitch I sure hate it, cuz my shit is dislocated..."

True story. Someone recently told me that his vengeful ex used her key to come into his house while he was at work and took all of his blankets, dishes and the vacuum cleaner. She even stole... the doobie out of his ashtray... "Doobie Ashtray"

"Somebody had the nerve to take the herb out of the doobie ashtray, why they do me that way?"

Tryin to make some life decisions? First off, read Proverbs, seriously. But at the end of the day, you can't listen to anyone else. You're the one who lives and dies with your decisions.... "Do What You Wanna Do"
"Everybody's got elders and you should respect them, they've been through similar shit, but then again, you can't let them/ put their hands on your life like a remote control/have you traveling down the same bumpy tore up road..."

Talk about perspective.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Vice Guide to Liberia- Parts 1-8

This is by far the most interesting thing I've seen on the Internet in ages. The suffering, the injustice, the inhumanity, the sickness, the hope and the revival is so engaging. I couldn't stop watching and thought I'd share.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8