The above Photo speaks volumes about what in my opinion Jay-Z has brought to Hip-Hop… corporate thinking that has taken the focus away from the struggles of ordinary African-Americans. I’ve seen numerous interviews with the man on Television & in print over the years, with the impression I always get is his OWN feeling of self-importance – maybe it’s cultural perhaps with him being an American and a rapper?
After watching the below short video from Samsung – yeah that’s correct.
Hip-Hop has gone from it’s understandable connection with Street Culture especially Fashion to now sadly selling Mobile Phones for a South Korean Multinational.
You’ll be understanding my viewpoint after this Promotional Advert for Jay-Z new album out on the *4th of July (as one does) –
‘Magna Carta Holy Grail‘…
The manner of the advert in making Jay-Z appear as if some form genius is laughable, I suggest it’s more to do with having Corporations constantly informing us (the 99%) that he is?
After seeing that ‘Glory/Worship Fest’ of Jay-Z, I connected it with a conversation that BBC Hip-Hop DJ – Tim Westwood had with 50 Cent around sarcastic remarks made by Jay-Z regarding Mr. Cent.
What results is a very interesting analysis from 50 Cent on the psychology of Jay-Z in late 2009.
Watch from 3mins : 30secs onwards…
Hip-Hop is now under the tight control of the Corporate Elite, as they realised the raw power of the music as a way to improve humanity for the 99% in raising awareness of social inequality & bringing diverse people together – therefore ending ignorance. As mentioned in my now extensive archive on this website; culture has been hijacked by a Western Elite with the aim of lowering the intelligence of Consumers yet maximising profits. This is why Musicians with the Political Strength of John Lennon or Joan Baez aren’t around these days, but the current crop who are endorse everything from Luxury Cars to Chewing Gum.
Ask yourself is life in this early 21st Century Perfect, are all the problems of Humanity been successfully eradicated?
The answer sadly & possibly tragically for all of us is NO…
I’ll end this article with a surprising recent upload on Tim Westwood’s vast YouTube Channel, something that he was involved way back in 1990. That being a time when Rappers might not have had Off-shore Bank Accounts yet could understand the ordinary person on the street…
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In two weeks time Liverpool is going to get schooled by the don. Big Daddy Kane is coming to town and you better believe it. Alongside the likes of Kool G Rap, Rakim, Slick Rick and Biz Markie, Kane is part of the pantheon of truly great late eighties solo rappers. Everything about him is iconic, from his ultimate braggadocio rhymes to the ridiculousness of his garbs, he had it going on.
Any rapper stunting owes him so much, Biggie’s avuncular arrogance, Kanye’s fashionista flyness, Jay-Z’s smooth swagger – Kane paved the way for all this and much more. In fact Jigga’s debt stretches further, with his early 90s pre rocafella days spent acting as an intermediary hype man for Kane at his shows. His first two albums are absolute classics, and there’s the fact that Rakim, RA FUCKING KIM, cooled the prospect of beef with him. You know when the God thinks twice about entering a battle with you, you’re pretty good.
While primarily a record in the classic Big Daddy batting off all competitors mould, he does deliver a few bars implying his acumen with the females, but it’s not as much as the title would have you belive. It’s less of a response to the anti-male diatribe of the same name from Sade than you might initially think, particularly as alongside the MJ Girls there’s samples from two of Marvin Gaye’s sexjams (‘Lets get it on’ & ‘Sexual healing’). Instead it’s just Kane doing what he does best, holding court like the don he is.
This is the ronseal of 80s hip-hop. Marley Marl’s splicing of James Brown and Bobby Byrd just about manages to avoid being dated and Kane just goes, as you’d expect, raw. He’s an absolute animal on the mic in this, just a relentless barrage of skill that is the calling card of one of the greatest. An absolute monument of the genre.
As posse cuts go this is up there with the best of them. The roll call features people who earned their stripes repping verse after verse in the Juice Crew, Tribe Called Quest and Grand Nubian, all coming together to show that they don’t need to swear to keep it going. It was of course an answer to the proliferation of Parental Advisory stickers which were rampant in hip-hop in time. It’s not the greatest 8 bars from Kane in his career, but he’s still smooth as ever and the track and video are amazing. Heavy D also looks ridiculous in prison style pyjamas, what’s not to love about that?
What marks Kane out from some of his peers is how graciously he’s aged. No rapper can ever maintain a scintillating appeal, but some slip from world domination to head in hands moments quicker than most. I’m looking at you KRS and Rakim. Kane however, has gone down the Slick Rick route of touring off the back of a legendary status and the odd track since his heyday and this gem from 2003, produced by DJ Premier, proves his mettle.
He’s still nice on the mic but rather than being on that arrogant tip here he is slipping into the paternal figure of hip-hop a man of his status should do. And his voice fits Preemo’s as ever on point production perfectly. The two recently joined up again for a nike commercial with the brilliant 28 bars, which features the genius closing gambit “I went on 28 just to raise the bars”. Don’t doubt this an emcee still with it.
Still the one. This is just a relentless surge of look at me I am boss; put-downs, big me-ups, the lot. From a lyrical point of view it’s hard to think of many songs that deliver an aura of greatness quite like this, and the calling card ‘I’m awesome’ records of rappers, be them Biggie’s ‘Unbelievable’, Jay-Z’s ‘So Ghetto’, Big L’s ‘Flamboyant’ and so on, all stand behind this. Everyone is a butter knife compared to Kane’s machete faced with this.
The video is gloriously lo-fi, a reminder of the lack of real money in hi-hop at the time, when you get the impression that the combined cost of the tracksuits worn by Kane and his dancers probably outweighs the overall budget. That’s not to say he isn’t looking hella fresh, with a chain that probably cost the GNP of an eastern European country and a general persona that is dripping swag. The iconic BDK tune.
All he did was go on holiday. Hopping to cuba got a few people annoyed with Jigga so he did what anyone would do, wrote a retaliatory record. Special mention to the use of the word dweeb. Big up Hov for that.
Can Kendrick get any better? Yes, yes he can. This remix delivers the storyline of rap’s new king coming up in four minutes and three verse, all set to the backdrop of the most palpable beat on ‘Good Kid Maad City‘. First up Kendrick delivers a verse about the ease at which he’s entered hip-hop’s high end stratosphere, notably the ‘upper echelons’ as he calls it. Then Jay-Z turns up, delivers a brilliant verse for this remix (even if he is following certain Kanye delivery techniques now) before Kendirck gets back on the mic and absolutely lets rip.
They keep lashing the hype on this young boy and he keeps rising to it at every juncture. The way he pays his dues as well, hooking in Mc Eiht, Dre’s ministerial overlording and now Jigga, it’s similar to the way Em did the rounds during the Slim Shady era on Rawkus and the mixtapes (back when they were really underground). Yet he knows it’s his time to go against them competitively, getting in the booth and cutting their head off, as he puts it in Acclaim Magazine. God knows how good his next album is going to be…
I left university in May 2004, and I genuinely reckon that there hasn’t been a better hip-hop album released in that time period than Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Good Kid Maad City’. Hand on heart, it’s better than everything done by Kanye, Nas’ also great 2011 masterpiece ‘life is Good’ and certainly anything by the colum inch hoggers of hip-hop during this period, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Jigga et al.
Anyway, I’ll try and reason that argument at a later date when inevitably I still think Kendrick’s opus is amaizng in a years time, but dig the latest video to drop form him here featuring Drake.
That Joey Bada$$ track ignited by Preemo got me excited for the hot Texan, so I decided to pluck five of my favourite beats he had gifted emcees over the years. Especially ones where he teased awesome performances out the of rappers sitting atop of them. Here we go…
Technically this track isn’t a premier production in the classic bring the best out of a rapper mould, because he instead replaced the original production by Ron Browz after Lamont passed. That though misses the point, this takes an already amazing track and gifts it a relentless urgency such to the point most people sleep on the original. And of course Big L, one of the best braggadocio emcees of all time, delivers one of the finest deconstructions of slang that would prove the template for rappers across the globe to do the same.
This strung out soul classic came to light on D’Angelo’s ‘Voodoo’ album and the soundtrack to watchable but basically a bit shit Hype Williams film ‘Belly’. This however is so far from a bit shit it’s undeniable, an astonishingly deep and dirty track you can listen to over and over again.
Gang Starr were relentlessly consistent, such to the point that there’s a gluttony of records worth salivating over from the duo. However this is definitely my favourite, the opening salvo from Big Shug introducing the posse cut brilliantly (high point rhyming fear with square), Guru anchoring things perfectly before Freddie Foxxx annihilates the track at the end. His verse is one of the scariest and hardest things hip-hop has ever seen, encapsulating his appeal with the gambit “When you speak of who’s the dopest MC, I don’t come up, But when you speak of who’s the livest MC, I stay what up, what’s up?” which is one of about fifteen equatable in there. It’s breathless stuff and for the full lyrical content head here.
And if you’re still fiending for Premier dig his latest radio broadcast below.
Kendirck Lamar’s album ‘Good Kid Maad City‘ was easily one of the best of 2012 and one of the biggest grinding cuts on said opus was ‘Backseat freestyle’. That track has now got a video which flashes the Eiffel tower off a fair bit (the producer is Hit-Boy, the up and coming G.O.O.D Music boardsman behind ‘Niggas in Paris’), although thankfully no comparisons are made realistically between that and Kendrick’s dick.
Also getting exposed is Kendrick’s elder relatives Rick Ross esque gut and Sherane’s ‘ass that a ruler couldn’t measure’. Not ground-breaking but it is pretty entertaining. the album though, if you haven’t already kop that because it’s next level.
The next guest selector is Bido Lito scribe and Liverpool DJ the Mighty Mojo, a jock who was an institution in Bumper for a few years and now lays down beats in heebies on a Saturday and Santa Chupitos on a Sunday. I’ve chewed the fat with Mo about hip-hop at a ridiculously high amount of after-parties over the years so he was a natural choice to contribute… even if he took a bit more coaxing than I expected after he believed his choices would be too similar to the earlier ones made by Darren Williams.
Which was odd, because I didn’t consider Darren’s selections to subscribe that readily to the classic hip-hop canon (No PE, Dre, De la for example) and what Mo mustered equally only paid lip service to a few of them. Anyway; I’ll let the man himself breathe his voice, and be sure to check out his weekly discourse on his blog The View from the Booth.
To distill all of hip hop down to 10 albums is very tricky for me, and not just because I’m an indecisive bastard. A lot of my favourite hip hop artists never quite nailed it over a full album, hence the likes of Nas, Redman, NWA, Roots Manuva and A Tribe called quest aren’t represented. There are some obvious choices in here, but that’s because the main criteria is which albums have given me the most joy down the years. I accept that I could wake up tomorrow with a very different list, but right now, these are the pinnacle.
10. Labcabincalifornia – The Pharcyde
I discovered this off the back of the best video of all time (c) for Drop, and realised there was so much more to be had. Most people I know prefer the cartoon energy of Bizarre Ride, but to produce the difficult post-fame 2nd album they had to freshen up their style a bit. Songs like Something that means Something and the peerless Runnin’ are testament to how well they did it.
9. The Grey Album – Danger Mouse
Controversial! I know there are people who will never acknowledge the creativity necessary to produce an album like this, but as a man who has attempted to do something similar, I can tell you it takes a truly deft hand. The way he twists the Beatles’ work into a hip hop template while retaining a lot of the original melodies is remarkable. I like that I can still tell which Beatles song was used, and there isn’t one single track on which I prefer the original production. The Black Album is probably Jay’s most consistent set, but he could be singing nursery rhymes and I’d still love this album.
8. Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030
This was a straight toss up with Dr.Octagon, but due to consistency across the whole album Deltron takes it. Dan the Automater, Del tha Funkee Homosapien & Damon Albarn may have received more praise (and pounds) for their Gorillaz work, but this is their best collaboration. The murky atmospherics are the perfect background for Del’s flow as he weaves his way through complicated themes of space and oppression. For some they may take the space opera bit too far, and they probably didn’t need 9 skits, but when they set about making tunes, they don’t fuck around.
7. Blow your Headphones – The Herbaliser
Some may argue against The Herbaliser’s hip hop credentials, but even a cursory listen would knock those complaints into a cocked hat. The best example of female MCs outrhyming their male counterparts, even the idea fragments such as More Styles are fantastic. Had more plays than every album on this list bar the top three.
6. Quality Control – Jurassic 5
A lot of people prefer the J5 LP, but to me that’s more of an EP, as there’s really only 6 songs on there. Plus Concrete & Clay is much better than Concrete Schoolyard. Quality Control is when they were at the top of their game, taking 4 MCs and making them sound like 1. Like Mos Def, the Jazz influence is integral to what makes them great – Jurass Finish 1st, Monkey Bars and Swing Set is the kind of hip hop your parents can tolerate, but isn’t Will Smith.
5. When Disaster Strikes – Busta Rhymes
I almost didn’t put this in once I’d seen Darren’s selection, but it would do a great disservice to a hitherto criminally underrated album. Despite greater chart success later on, this was when Busta was at his peak. The strength of Album tracks like Survival Hungry, There’s not a Problem my Squad can’t Fix and Rhymes Galore makes a mockery of the quality control of most modern LPs.
4. Doggystyle – Snoop Doggy Dogg
Over the course of my DJ career I have played every single track on this album, at least once. There is no other record I can say that for, of any genre. Probably in the collection of every single hip hop fan. Even those who detest what Snoop has become can’t deny the laid back genius at play here.
3. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 chambers) – Wu-Tang Clan
There is nothing new to say about this album, except to tell you that it was the catalyst for my introduction to a whole new world of raw, abrasive, discordant hip hop. And for that I am eternally grateful. Oh yeah, and GZA’s verse on Protect ya neck is probably my favourite in hip hop history.
2. Black on Both Sides – Mos Def
One of the best records of all time regardless of genre. Mos Def comes on like a cross between Marvin Gaye & Chuck D, intelligently dissecting the troubles of today’s society in a way that makes you want to move. I even love the OTT thrash-out at the end of Rock’n’Roll, although I’d be interested to see if his stance on the Rolling Stones has changed since he worked with the Black Keys…..
1. Hello Nasty – Beastie Boys
I could have picked ill Communication and/or Check your head for this list, but for sheer blow-your-balls-off impact, on it’s release and since, it has to be Hello Nasty. The depth and variety is pretty stunning, and I have played this album in full at many parties without ever needing to reach for the skip button. Super Disco Breaking, Just a Test, The Negotiation Limerick File, Remote Control, 3 Mcs & 1 DJ – so many straight up bangers, which contrast brilliantly with the poignancy of I Don’t Know, or the Beasties Britpop of Song for the Man. This isn’t a sentimental vote in honour of MCA – no other hip hop album has given me as much joy as this one.
Honourable mentions also go out to Outkast’s ‘Stankonia’, A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘The Low end Theory’, Kool Keith dropping weird science with ‘Dr.Octagon’, West coast polar opposites in Cypress HIll’s ‘Black Sunday’ and Ugly Duckling’s ‘Taste the Secret’ and finally, UK hip-hop selections from Braintax & Skinnyman with ‘Panorama’ and ‘Council estate of Mind’ respectively.
The utterly brilliant Complex Mag is pretty much an essential read for hip-hop fans, and in amongst the articles worth checking is this one from nearly 18 months ago which focuses on the 50 greatest beef songs in hip-hop. All the usual suspects are in here, 2Pac, KRS, LL, Eminem, 50 Cent and Dr Dre, and it’s difficult to agree with the top slot really for what is one of the greatest attacks of savagery on a career ever. Despite what popular opinion stateside may ahve attributed the winner of that beef to. Dig in here.