March 4, 2013

28 Days Later

There may only be 28 days in Feb (excluding leap years of course!), but the internet has been a busy place.  Here the latest crop of stuff that grabbed my attention over the last 4 weeks.  Follow the jump link after the first item for much more.

The People's Champ

R.A. The Rugged Man has begun promoting his new album (due April 30th) with this blistering track which sets expectations pretty high.  Despite his own Demigodz album about to drop, Apathy still finds time to get on the production boards and conjure up this perfect backdrop for R.A.'s tongue tying, verb flipping style.  
Its been 9 years since R.A.'s last official release, so he's had plenty of time to work on this long overdue (and long promised) follow up.  Let's hope this is a sign of things to come.

Easy On The Production

Acclaimed 90's producer Easy Mo Bee is often overlooked or forgotten, despite being a significant contributor to the mid 90's hip hop mainstream and a key ingredient in the success of Bad Boy Records' artists.  He also produced most of The Genius' debut album (the one before Wu-Tang).

DJ Franchise has compiled this excellent mix to highlight Mo Bee's influence on the genre, and it's a poignant remind of just how many classics he produced, from Biggie Smalls debut 12", to The GZA, 2Pac, The Liks, Kane, Lost Boyz and so on.  My only criticism is the all to brief appearance of Ill & Al Skratch.  Mo Bee turned their forgettable album track into an uptempo club hit, one of his greater achievements.  Full track listing available on Soundcloud, and this is downloadable too!  Highly recommended.

New Dilla

Those looking after the estate of the late J. Dilla have decided to put out an album of previously unreleased work from the late emcee/producer entitled The Diary.   Here's the first single off the LP:

Baby Cool J

Well, he's not quite a baby, but this footage of the fresh faced, pre muscle packing, 17 year old LL Cool J is a reminder of his heyday.  Filmed in 1985 and just a few months before his debut LP, Cut Creator and LL perform to a crowd of mostly unenthusiastic teenagers, some of which look almost bewildered by what they're seeing.  But that doesn't deter LL, and if you skip a little way in, he delivers some of his early classics.  Props to Repo for spotting this.

Is The Hype Around Kendrick Lamar Justified?


The answer to that question is a personal one.  As someone who struggles to connect with a lot of current hip hop, it would be easy for me to dismiss the hype surrounding Kendrick Lamar.  But long before the release of his debut album, I'd heard several tracks that had grabbed my attention (digest the cleverness of I Hate You, along with the twist at the end of the song, as a good example of his earlier work).  Since then I've read a plethora of reviews and opinions that attempt to justify or explain what makes him so good, but nothing has compared to the approach I'm recommending here.

Martin Connor has a degree in music theory and uses this to break down Kendrick's lyrics from a technical perspective.  Using images of sheet music and an 'idiots guide' style of explanation, this look at Kendrick's rhymes goes beyond their content and examines their construction, complexity and how they fit within the regimentation of a 4 beat bar.  This is a really clever method of analysis as it detracts the reader from the music itself and focuses purely on the emcees skills (and if you're not musically educated it will likely teach you a thing or two about music at the same time).  I'm not saying this explanation will make you a Kendrick fan, but you're far more likely to understand all the current hype.  Now, can someone point me in the direction of similar article that justifies Lil Wayne and Drakes existence?

The Pioneers of UK Hip Hop

I'm not going to say much about this documentary, because I haven't properly watched it.   I don't know if this video has been poorly cropped by the uploader, or whether it was intentionally filmed this way with a view to being 'artistic'.  I think it was the latter, and if so, it fails miserably.
Unfortunately, most of the hour long documentary is filmed so close to it subjects, you can't see their whole face, and become distracted from their narration (or at least I did). 

That said, it seems like it's got a lot of potential, and many big names from the late 80's and 90's appear on the credits as contributors.  I know some you are avid UK hip hop fans and therefore may have the patience that I lacked to sit through this.  If so, please leave a comment and tell others if it's any good.  Props to Battlechasers for finding this.

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