January 16, 2010
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
There are better people to talk about Teddy Pendergrass than me (for example, Michael A. Gonzales). I’d be lying if I pretended to be anything more than a casual Teddy P fan. Still, I am deeply saddened that yet another musical legend has passed away. In the past few years, we’ve lost James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Michael Jackson, and now Teddy Pendergrass. The world is cold and so we wrap ourselves in the warmth of music to last through another night.
Here is a short rundown of Teddy P’s direct influence in hip-hop music, i.e. a slew of notable rap songs that sampled from his catalog. I may not have been a die-hard Pendergrass fan but the producers of these records certainly were, and so his influence lives on.
1. The D.O.C. “Portrait of a Masterpiece” (1989) sampled “You Can’t Hide from Yourself” (1977)
January 9, 2010
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
Wow. It seems like yesterday the world was freaking out about Y2K, and now in the blink of an eye, it’s 2010. The past decade treated me well, and I hope it did the same for everyone reading this, but frankly, it was not too good for the majority of the world’s inhabitants. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that in the next 10 años we make major improvements in the ways in which we treat each other. Anyways, that’s enough of me being thoughtful and preachy, let’s talk about music.
Quan, our other This Week In Hip Hop man, in his unpredictable top 10 list of albums in 2009 requested that I critique his selections, and provide my own. Although I felt that there were some questionable picks to say the least (Juicy J in the top 5?!?), I think his article did a great job of letting the world know that hip-hop as a genre is tremendously diverse, as is the taste of its followers. There is absolutely nothing wrong or contradictory about a die hard Wu-Tang fan enjoying Gucci and Wayne. Hip-Hop is not dead; in fact I think it’s the genre of music most oversaturated with legitimate talent. That’s why I couldn’t bring myself to make my own list of favorite albums from 2009. While I must admit that I did hear a lot of new music last year, I still don’t feel like I even scratched the surface of the quality content that was released. I unfortunately didn’t listen to the new Souls of Mischief, Zion I, Tanya Morgan, The Clipse, UGK, De La Soul, Slum Village, etc… so without experiencing those projects, I don’t feel like I can do justice to critiquing an entire year’s worth of albums. Sorry Quan.
On the other hand, I know that there is a lot of music that I am looking forward to in 2010, so without further ado, I want to let y’all know what I will be keeping my eyes and ears open for this year.
Black Milk, Sean Price and Guilty Simpson | Random Axe
You may already know that I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of music that Duck Down Records is putting out, and from the slew of projects they have slated for 2010, Random Axe is the one that I’m the most excited about. When I first heard that Black Milk, Sean Price and Guilty Simpson were collaborating, it seemed to good to be true, but after they leaked “Monster Babies,” it was official. This group is for real. Unfortunately, Black Milk’s hard drive crashed, and with it all of Sean P’s recorded verses were lost. To make matters worse, Kimbo Price only writes his verses on his cell phone, and he purchased a new one, so the written words were gone too. So it wasn’t released in ’09 like it was supposed to be. Instead, Duck Down is hoping to make Random Axe available to the masses in the first quarter of 2010. As long as Sean kept his morale high through the hardships and made sure to persevere, this album could be one we remember in 2020.
More on Albums To Look Forward To In 2010
December 19, 2009
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
In terms of rap music, 2009 has been both utterly depressing and magnificently awe-inspiring. Through the years, music has slowly become more and more diverse but also more and more fragmented. That fact has never felt more palpable than now. Think about it: in 2019, what will we think of 2009? A decade from now, what song from 2009 will we be able to say “Now THAT was our song”? What song will come on the radio unexpectedly in 2019 (if we still even have radios by then) and unite us all in head-nodding, booty-shaking, lyric-mouthing merriment? It’s a scary thought to think that 2009 might not have contributed anything more to the collective hip-hop canon (if we still even have that by 2019) than Drake’s “Best I Ever Had.”
On the other hand, this fragmentation has led to a ton of really great music. Since we aren’t buying records en masse anymore, most artists kind of stopped giving a fuck about scoring radio hits and have taken rap into bold new territories. DJ Quik busted out the world music crates. Mos Def crafted a cohesive album with approximately one and a half hooks altogether. Gucci Mane came up with 1,000 synonyms for his jewelry. Ghostface Killah formally legitimated the art of “Rap & Bullshit.” Some kids from LA revived hyphy while doing the Running Man backwards in bright skinny jeans. Fuck, even Soulja Boy started experimenting with backpack rap. Yes, God exists. And he’s got his swag turned on.
But before we jump into this “Best Of” list, an editorial note: this is one moonlighting critic’s personal taste in rap, which carries with it plenty of limitations. Not the least of which is time and energy. Try as I might, it takes special circumstances for any one person to really keep up with rap. This is not at all a definitive list. It’s merely a jumping off point to share good music with you. Actually, I’m hoping fellow Jezebel Music rap head, Matt, tells me I’m completely full of shit and then clues me in on everything I missed. And I hope you do the same for me too. (For “The Best Rap Albums of 2009: Part 2,” go here.)
10. Lil Wayne & Juelz Santana | My Face Can’t Be Felt
Lil Wayne fans have been hailing the No Ceilings mixtape as Weezy’s triumphant return to rapping form after a year or so of coasting on the superstardom afforded from Tha Carter III. And yeah, he has come back to snapping some pretty good punchlines. But I think his greater strength is in the raw emotion and truth he spills out from time to time. To date, two of the most memorable musical moments of Lil Wayne’s career have been the pained, pleading, nearly-crying hooks to Playaz Circle’s “Duffle Bag Boy” and The Game’s “My Life.” My Face Can’t Be Felt contains more of these vulnerable moments, including the heartbreaking “How Can Something” in which Lil Wayne confesses in great writerly detail the pain of love lost and what that’s meant for the child that’s left in between the two estranged lovers.
Watch Alicia Keys and Jay Z Play “Empire State of Mind” at the World Series; The Blueprint 3 Sucked and I Hate the Yankees – This Performance Manages to Negate Everything; Conclude: “Man, New York Rules” [Spin]
Former Harlem Shake (Not an Ice Cream Based Treat) Todd Goldstein Releases His First LP as ARMS Kids Aflame Stateside TODAY (Stream “Tiger Tamer” Here); Meanwhile, I Shamelessly Self Promote Our Website by Linking You to Our Coverage of ARMS at CMJ [Jezebel Music]
The Books Book (Heh?!) First Tour in a While; Somehow Manage to Dodge L.A., New York, and Chicago (Possibly Due to Fear of Urban Heckling? Just a Thought); Much Anticipated New Album Due Out “Early Next Year” [Pitchfork]
Download New Track From Brooklyn Psych-rockers Yeasayer, “Ambling Alp” (Does the Overproduction Present on this Single Secure That Yeasayer is Releasing 2010’s Veckatimest? Yes.) Odd Blood Released Early 2010 [Brooklyn Vegan]
Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon Will Release an Album Together December 22; Release C.S.I. Like Teaser Trailer (Hopefully That Means Album Will Be Ridden With Murder, Poorly Rendered CGI) [Prefix]
Massively Overrated Band/Possible Co-Originators of What We Now Call “Indie” Spoon Formally Announces New Record, Transference, Set To Release January 26; Expect it to be Innocuous, Bland, Immensely Popular, and Contain Slightly Veiled References to Weed [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
September 26, 2009
THIS WEEK IN HIP HOP
Ghostface Killah’s new album, Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City, leaked this past week (it drops this coming Tuesday) and it’s not that great. Billed as a sort of R&B concept album revolving around the ladies, it’s basically just an excuse to pair Ghostface with seemingly every single R&B singer at his label, Def Jam, and make eight or nine attempts at a radio hit. Instead of the usual posse of Raekwon, Cappadonna, and Trife Da God, Ghostface finds himself alongside the likes of Ron Browz, Lloyd, John Legend, Raheem Devaughn, some other budget R&B no-names and two instances of Autotune usage. Not as terrible as it looks on paper because Ghostface still raps like Ghostface. But pretty shameless nonetheless.
Of course, when Wizard of Poetry was first announced—and before the guests were announced—it sounded like a great idea. Ghost has always been a soulful loverman and he’s been exploring that side of himself more and more in recent years. It seemed inevitable that an album dedicated to the queens would burst out of him. So here’s an abridged history of Ghostface the lover, not the fighter:
“All That I Got Is You” | Ironman
Ghost sums up his poverty-stricken childhood in the Stapleton Projects over a group of women covering the Jackson 5 classic, “Maybe Tomorrow.” Obviously, Ghost isn’t in loverman mode here but this is the first strong sign of just how soulful he is. He only raps for a couple minutes before he lets the songstresses take over the track, kinda basking in the beauty and emotion of it.
Yesss!!! Listen To Big Boi’s New Song With George Clinton and Too $hort. Though Honestly, It’s Not As Crazy As We’d Hope [Prefix]
Morrissey To Release B-Sides Album, Tour West Coast [The Tripwire]
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers To Release Fatty, Four-Disc Live Anthology [Rolling Stone]
Have You Ever Wondered What The Inside Of Kyp Malone’s Apartment Looks Like? Don’t Worry, We Have Too. You Can Get All the Mundane (and Exciting) Details Here [NY Post]
Hells Yeah. Mos Def Making Punk Documentary [The Tripwire]
In More Wizard And Music-Related News, ?uestlove and Friends To Play Free Screening Of Wizard Of Oz in Central Park Next Week [Brooklyn Vegan]
compiled by Erin Sheehy
Well, It’s Memorable, At Least. Check Out The Cover Art For Ghostface Killah’s New Album, The Wizard Of Poetry [Idolator]
Death Cab For Cutie Reveals New Moon Soundtrack Single, “Meet Me On The Equinox.” Sounds Rather Middle-School Romantic, Till You Realize That Means “Meet Me Twice A Year.” [Stereogum]
Goodness, Gracious! Jerry Lee Lewis To Release First Country Album Since 1978, Chock Full Of Kris Kristofferson Songs [The Tripwire]
Malaysian Muslims Banned From Black Eyed Peas Show. “Non-Muslims Can Go Have Fun,” Says Ministry Of Information [NME]
Shot Down By Sound! Download No Age’s New Track, “You’re A Target.” [Pitchfork]
Watch Talking Heads, Reunited For 1999 Press Conference, In The Blu-Ray Edition Re-Release of Stop Making Sense [Rolling Stone]
compiled by Erin Sheehy
R.E.M. Reveal Details for Live at the Olympia Album [Pitchfork]
Built To Spill Reveals Tracklist, Cover Art for New Album, There Is No Enemy [Pitchfork]
Weezer Sinks Even Lower With Incredibly Stupid Album Title [Pitchfork]
Luckily Some People Are Good With Nomenclature. Looks Like There’s A Sampler Out From Ghostface’s Wizard Of Poetry! [Prefix]
Murdered: Samuel Ferguson, Journalist Who Broke Rick Ross Correctional Officer Story [Prefix]
Online Retailer Insound Collaborates With Designer Mike Perry To Create “Insound 10 Classic,” A Series Of Products Featuring Bands Spanning From The Voidoids to The Promise Ring [The Tripwire]
Seems Like Weezer’s Creating An Uproar. SPIN Lists Their Picks For Worst Album Titles Of 2009…Thus Far. (Say What You Will, SPIN. I Think I Love The Name Stretch Your Skull Cover And Smile) [SPIN]
by Erin Sheehy