Let’s Talk About Hip Hop – Lyrics For The Soul


With the hip hop making it’s way into mainstream popular culture, the overall view of hip hop can easily be centered around a few themes in music. Hip hop today can feature lyrics and stories about Guns. violence, pimping, and selling drugs. As well as, having a difficult childhood and becoming rich by “making it” in the rap game.

Being a fan of the hip hop genre for as long as i can remember, I always grew up hearing the same songs over and over again on the radio. During the early 2000’s, rappers like Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, and J Cole dominated the radio waves. However, there were two artists that stood out as outliers to the mainstream audience; Kid Cudi and Lupe Fiasco.

Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘N’ Nite” was a hit single off of his breakout mix tape “A Kid Named Cudi” that was released by a New York City street wear brand named “10.Deep” and it was also pushed at released by an independent record label “Fool’s Gold Records” founded by the legendary DJ A-Trak  in 2008.

During that era of hip hop and rap in 2008, Day ‘N’ Nite was a very original sound, that had a nostalgic feel to it almost. The first time I herd the song, I felt so attached to it. I replayed over and over, just to  vibe to the overall sound. It wasn’t till about my senior year, that I connected the lyrics to my own hardships and the song had a deeper meaning to me.

“I look for peace but see I don’t attain” ( Kid Cudi, Day ‘N’ Nite).

Just hearing that one line as a teenager struck me in a way that no song has ever done before up until I came across this song. I feel that for a lot fans who were teenagers at the time of this release felt the same way. When I was finishing up my high school career, I didn’t really have the same motivation as the other seniors in my class to go to college. Whenever my friends and I would talk about what’s next, it was always so depressing to know that most of us just couldn’t afford it at the time. But through music, dance, and just HIP HOP, we bonded. We “embraced the suck” as our friends called it. It was almost as if my friends and I could all agree that we could all relate to this one specific song.

Looking back at this song, I don’t think there was another artist that was around during that time who dared to make a song with this kind of sound. Kid Cudi was able to rap about depression and mental health through his lyrics and I think that is one of the main reasons why a lot of fans became so attached to this song.

Overall, I think Kid Cudi is one of biggest advocates for mental health in the rap community. Even in his current work, his song with Kanye West “Reborn(Kids See Ghosts)”, Kid Cudi goes back to his melodic flow as he sings about finding his peace within his self. The same flow and almost the same feel that fans haven’t herd since his earlier songs.

Let’s Talk About Hip Hop


When fans of music talk about Hip Hop and Rap, most people will start to think about who’s the hottest rapper, or who has the best selling records on the charts. Hip Hop fans can also be quick to tell you their opinion on the newest sneaker releases and juicy celebrity gossip in the scene.

Many popular social media outlets that look to bring hip hop culture to a more mainstream audience, like New York-based Complex, never really seem to talk about the essence of Hip Hop culture.

The Zulu Nation along with Afrika Bambaattaa were one of the original pioneers to ever speak about the four elements of hip hop culture. I would be surprised if the generation of today’s hip hop fans can name the 4 elements that make up hip hop culture that date back the the early 90’s, so I’ll list them here for you:

DJing

Image courtesy of DJ AM

Any club-goer, or hip hop fan would know that DJs are responsible for keeping the crowd moving. That’s done either by playing a set before a rapper comes on to perform, or maintaining the pace while rappers take stage like the legendary DJ A-trak, who toured with Kanye West during the early 2000’s. Another great example is the famous DJ Adam Goldstein, best known as DJ AM, who was one of the first pioneers to bring celebrity status to the DJs of today.

MCing

Otherwise known as rapping, is one of the clearest elements of hip hop culture in today’s age of the culture. Who can forget the line; “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f**k with!”, as well the timeless track of “Rapper’s Delight” when thinking about the early emergence of hip hop music. Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” is arguably the first rap song to ever be recognized as a hit when it hit Billboard’s Hot 100, and peaked at No. 36 in 1980.

Image courtesy of SHG

Graffiti 

The overall aesthetic of the culture can be highlighted through graffiti murals. Graffiti culture is one of the most “slept on” aspects of hip hop culture. Back then, tt wasn’t just about vandalizing subway cars in New York; It was about self-expression and rebellion against cultural norms during the emergence of the sub-culture. Though graffiti is responsible for much national revenue being spent on cleaning trains and billboards, I still believe that graffiti and its art style is one of the most ignored elements. Its influence still lives on today through streetwear brands like Stussy, and The Hundreds.

Image courtesy of Stussy

Break dancing (Also referred to as, breaking)

Break dancing was a huge movement in the early days of hip hop. Music videos during the 80s almost always featured break dancing. Fast forward to the 90s and into the early 2000s and dancers became one of the highlights of music videos on MTV. When MTV launched America’s Best Dance Crew it was a huge deal both in the break dance world and the urban dance community.

Image courtesy of Red Bull

Overall, I feel like hip hop has finally made its mark on mainstream culture. With the rise of Soundcloud too, it is becoming easier for independent artists to display their talents to the world. The sneaker culture has also seen a rebirth and is making its way into the mainstream media as more celebrities are seen wearing the latest Jordan and Yeezy brand sneakers. Hip hop is here to stay, if you like or not. I just hope that as we move forward, we can appreciate its roots.

I hope to expand on each of these elements throughout the month and share with you all why hip hop means so much to me. Each of these elements have played an important role in my life through the roughest and happiest times. Stay tuned! ‘Till then, be easy.

-MiggySB

album1 by San Holo Review


While I am so thankful for every person, lesson, and opportunity that comes into my life, I can’t help but let certain scenarios get the best of me when I think about things that went wrong in the past; or better yet, ponder the unknown future- my future, and how it is entirely dependent on my daily choices. Sometimes I wish I could go back to rewrite my feelings and apologize for not listening enough, for not loving enough.

But I am an entirely different person today, and sometimes I find it difficult to forgive myself for my actions and the words that I said to others, and also to myself. During the dark hours and mini solitary road trips between Sacramento and my hometown, it’s thoughts like these that invade me from every crevice of my vividly twisted mind.

On one particular drive back home, I had no idea that a simple album could bring me immediate peace and comfort within my own vulnerability.

That particular album was, and still is, album1 by San Holo.

Some might be familiar with some of San Holo’s popular tracks and remixes which include “Light”, “The Next Episode (San Holo Remix)”, “Right Here, Right Now”, and “The Future”.

Don’t get me wrong; I love these songs. I’ve experienced them at beautiful raves where other DJs have snuck a San Holo song or two into their set, and they were completely amazing. But I think what differentiates this project apart from the rest is how it is honest, compelling, dramatic, reassuring, and peaceful all at the same time.

Close my eyes so I can see

All these lights are blinding me

This line from “show me” particularly resonates with me, and I instantly get goosebumps every time the wistful, euphoric melodies flow effortlessly into my ears. I see it as a comment on how the noise of society detracts from genuine and personal human interactions, and trusting your intuition.

Furthermore, I continuously look to find truth and meaning in my own personal life, searching for reality. I think I know what I want and how I want it, but most of the time, I am wrong because I often mistake other voices for my own. And I like to believe that others may experience this as well.

San Holo’s previous lyrics to an older song mirrors this paradigm as well:

Even if it makes me blind

I just wanna see the light

(“Light” | 2016)

Some other personal favorites from album1 include “everything matters (when it comes to you)”, “love (wip)”, “go back in time”, and “surface”.

This album means so much to me, and it reminds me to sit in the present and make peace with each conscious moment. I recognize that my unique path has led me to where I am, who I am, and who I will be tomorrow. Every time I listen to this album, it is as if time stops and melts into one giant channel of beautiful experiences that must be cherished before they escape into the universe once my time on Earth reaches its maximum.

San Holo created an incredible collection of enjoyable pieces with this work of art. I am so happy and thankful that I came across it in the box of CDs for reviews, and I hope you give it a listen as well.

Night of the Blue Swan IV: Hail The Sun


Night of the Blue Swan IV is the Swan-Core event of the year.

You have a lineup that has heavy hitters such as The Fall of Troy and Hail The Sun. The lineup features acts such as Royal Coda, Icarus The Owl, Wolf & Bear and Adventurer.

The roster features the many talented bands from Will Swan’s label, Blue Swan Records. You may know Will Swan as the Guitarist for Dance Gavin Dance. Will Swan with the help of Hail The Sun Frontman, Donovan Melero has succeeded in creating the perfect event for those fans of Post-Hardcore and the conveniently coined “SwanCore” sound.

Hail The Sun offer up some of the most refreshing yet thoughtful songs from their latest releases. The title track on their latest album Mental Knife describes the deep understanding of dealing with addiction, insecurity, and “being able to strip away parts of yourself that you wish you could part with” Melero said.

The album deals with looking at the mirror and coping with the problems of recreational substance use. Melero is very open about his obstacles and the path to recovery. Many artists often rely on substances to find creativity. Sometimes they aren’t able to find that creativity again. Mental Knife really showcases that creativity can be achieved without substance abuse.

Hail The Sun has gone on many tours with everyone from the Post-Hardcore scene and it’s interesting to wonder how to have these friendships developed their sound. Beau Burchell, Guitarist of Saosin helped produce Mental Knife and it definitely helped create a more complex and creative album. Songs such as “Glass Half Empty” reflects on the striving to achieve what you don’t have. seeking to attain what you can’t have.

The song “The Stranger in Our Pictures” really goes deep into Melero’s period of addiction and choosing to get clean for his family. Melero speaks on the process of becoming clean and seeing a whole new person in his sobriety. The song touches on the unconditional love from friends and family.

It’s really exciting to see such a success story for Donovan Melero. An artist in multiple bands, record label director, and all around creative person. It’s quick to see why Hail The Sun is such a successful band.

The lineup for Blue Swan will guarantee a night of intense energy and excitement. Many know Fall of Troy. Their major success on Guitar Hero and tons of releases has propelled their band. Personally, the excitement lies with Hail The Sun and the supporting acts from Blue Swan Records.

The night of Blue Swan IV will be happening locally at the Ace of Spades in Sacramento. The Ace of Spade’s event doors will open at 5pm on Saturday, December 15th. Tickets are about $25 and will be well worth it. Make sure to have extra cash on hand for the merchandise.
You can find out more information [HERE] 

Hail The Sun:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

///VICTOR

Event Review: Slander – Headbangers Ball


Don’t let the name fool you! Headbangers Ball is not what you’re thinking. MTV’s classic late-night television show is long forgotten. Instead the heavy bass duo, Slander adopts the name to headline their own US tour.

Image courtesy of Headbangers

Prior to the 2-week long campus closure, I had the pleasure of stopping by the San Jose City National Civic Center to attend their show. With it being titled “Headbangers Ball”, it did not disappoint. The show feature supporting acts by Wavedash, and Eprom. Both supporting acts were able to live up to the event’s name by spinning nothing but heavy bass tracks, mixed with melodic dub-step and even some Future House records.

The venue itself reminded me of a mini-scale Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It featured a large floor area filled with bodies head banging all night long, and the seating up top on the 2nd floor was no different. Upon arriving I was shocked to see the diversity in the demographic of the audience. I noticed a wide variety of ages, some looking like young college students attending their first rave, while others looked to be in their early to late twenties.

After making it past ID and security check points I was pleasantly surprised to see how packed the venue was. Up first was EPROM.

EPROM was a refreshing, yet heavy sound. Most notably he dropped his own remix of Porter Robinson’s “Sad Machine” that set the tone for the rest of his set. I was most impressed by the way EPROM was able to shuffle the pace of his set by bouncing back and forth between heavy Trap and Bass sounds, to melodic dub-step and house music.

Fallowing EPROM was Wavedash. I had little to no knowledge on what kind of music this duo puts out, but I found it to be a little too heavy for my taste. Wavedash played a set filled with what felt like, all Dubstep and Trap records. Within the first two songs of his set, there were many mosh pits going on all around the dance floor. While his set was over the top for my taste, I found it to be enjoyable after retreating to the balcony to avoid getting sucked into a mosh pit.

Now let’s talk about the headliner, Slander. I have been following their music since the release of their “Nuclear Bonds” EP that featured the track “Gud Vibrations” with the artist Nghtmre. “Gud Vibrations” was the summer festival anthem for the year 2015 and since then I have fallen in love with all the remixes that they have put out. Slander is a unique combination of emotional lyricism and HEAVY drops. The stage production would switch between heartfelt images during their softer records, then would immediately switch to a darker, almost devilish themes for their harder tracks.

While Slander began his set, I sat in the balcony seats. I was in awe at the production value. The crowd had so much energy, I almost felt as if I could feel building shaking every time, I heard a bass drop from his records. Seeing the crowd collectively singing along his remix of Post Malone’s “Fall Apart” was something I’ll never forget.

Overall, the Headbangers Ball did not disappoint! Originally, I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to have a good time, but I was glad that I attended. It was such a positive way to bring in the start of my birthday.  

GRIMES: Bracing us for Robot Takeover One Song at a Time


https://apis.mail.yahoo.com/ws/v3/mailboxes/@.id==VjN-iWKhVKzShwo683ZeMBHZZSfaKvqcb_bKg0z_6YPNwYxnob8fk7N9kUyRJsa4TzRt4QS589m2ULn4HOf3kMCF_g/messages/@.id==AMTrBMosUnWKXAHErw0H8FsVd4Q/content/parts/@.id==4/thumbnail?appId=YahooMailNeo&downloadWhenThumbnailFails=true&pid=4

Grime’s new single, “We Appreciate Power” is an ode to Artificial Intelligence and how our future might look pretty soon.

In this technological age, progression is happening at turbo speeds, making our measly mortal bodies seem so primitive in comparison to the infinite potential of mechanization. In this track, Grimes seems to be propagating the fatalistic attitude of a future where AI will have unbounded power over us silly little human beings.

Now, I love Grimes and everything she does, but I personally don’t know if I’ll ever want to upload my consciousness onto a computer drive to last for all of eternity. I’m kinda just cool with having my brief human experience and peacing outta here when it’s time for me to go, ykwim? But then again, who knows what we’ll discover if we do choose to stay.

The eeriness of her vocals encouraging us to submit to our robot overlords is amusing in the best of ways. We’re meme-ifying and laughing about it now, but maybe in a few years when the robots finally do take over we’ll be looking back on this track thinking, “Damn, she was right. Oops.”

The industrial sounds on this track have drawn a lot of comparisons to Nine Inch Nails, which is understandable. People are questioning if this is going to be the catalyst of a nu-metal revival, and judging by the responses to the lyric video, they’re not mad about it.

A lot of fans were hesitant to embrace the energetic pop-nature of Grimes’ last album, Art Angels, but this new single was so left-field that you can’t help but be drawn to it. Grimes’ recent media attention with her new boo, Mr. Elon freaking Musk the billionaire certainly had some influence, but longtime fans will know that she has always been one to discuss AI progression and its integration with our own species. Despite the new sounds she’s experimenting with, the Grimes DNA in this track is evident in Claire Boucher’s high-pitched, melodic, alien vocals. The way she layers her tracks in the production process has always been innovative, and she has mentioned that she likes being an engineer more than a singer.

As a forever Grimes stan, this post is obviously biased to a degree. Still, Grimes will always be an artist to be admired as she continues to push new boundaries in her music. I love her so much because she’s never been afraid to explore her creativity in her usual nerdy, quirky, techie ways. If this is gonna be the new age of cybernetic punk rock, there’s really no one better than Grimes to ring it in.

Overall, this is one catchy-ass track and will definitely be on heavy rotation for my gym playlist. Sure, the lyrics might be questionable but I take it as a tongue-in-cheek statement towards our future synthesis with the technology we have created. Or maybe we really are destined to be engulfed by the superior Artificial Intelligence Gods, and in that case, oh well. We had a good run here on earth I guess. ¯\_()_/¯

You can listen to the track down below:

Shoutout to Lucy for encouraging me to write this post! This was my first time writing about a new music release so hopefully it was somewhat palatable lol. Good luck on your finals everyone!

-Ezzie

Travis Scott – Sicko Mode (Skrillex Remix) Review


Skrillex just guaranteed that “Sicko Mode” will be played at every club, festival and party.

Not too long ago, he remixed Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” and transformed it into heavy rotation-track.  The remix feels more like 4 edits on the drums with a remixed middle part that has more of the Skrillex-sound we know. It feels very minimal and that works in this track’s favour because it will guarantee more plays in the clubs for its lack of experimentation. The best part has to be the Jersey Club section that comes in at 4:25.

The Jersey Club section has me wondering if we’re going to hear some Jersey Club collaborations with Skrillex. It would be a smart move and hopefully, he has something in the works with DJ Sliink or even some other producers from the Club community. Skrillex is definitely smart and obviously will benefit from riding this wave, but it feels much more like one of those shout-outs to the culture of Club sound.

The placement of the Club section of Sicko Mode is placed at the end; ensuring that it got the last attention of the listener. Overall, this track was already good and we all have been playing this song multiple times. Thankfully, you can now add to your party playlist an even more uptempo remix. This song will do well with those people who like to dabble in EDM (there’s a difference) and those who like the Heavy Bass, Jungle Terror, Jersey Club and Dubstep elements.

If you haven’t heard the “Humble” remix yet, well you need to. Skrillex has much success with his Rap remixes, and we saw how successful “Wild for the Night” with A$AP Rocky was, So we can only expect even more of this style to come out.

///Victor M.

Lil Wayne adds to his legacy with Tha Carter V


 One of the greatest rappers of our generation, Dwayne Carter, has given us plenty of classic songs, albums and mixtapes. His new album “The Carter V” adds to his legacy. 

The Grammy Award rapper who has been called, “The Greatest Rapper Alive”, now has another number one album on the charts. This isn’t anything new for the legendary spitter who gave us hit like “No Ceilings”, “Carter II”, “Carter III” and “Da Drought 3” to name a few, but some thought the rapper wasn’t capable of delivering good music anymore. 

As a long time Lil Wayne fan, I thought that his good music was behind him. In my opinion, it has been a bad year for older rappers like Nas, Eminem, Kanye and Jay-Z who all gave us mediocre albums.

Carter V isn’t a classic album in my eyes but it is still pretty good and the best rap album of the year in my opinion. I think this album was just as good as J. Cole’s KOD, Nipsey Hustle’s Victory Lap and better than Drake’s Scorpion. 

Lil Wayne doesn’t even write his music, he is basically memorizing his freestyles which is even more impressive when you listen to this album.  This album was packed with 23 songs and features from Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj and Snoop Dogg to name a few. 

I think the best song on the album is “Mona Lisa” and features the great Kendrick Lamar. The two Hip-Hop icons do notdisappoint on that track. Kendrick might have stole the show with his verse on that song but Wayne was impressive as well. 

There are plenty of other good songs on this album like “Uproar”, “Dark Side of the Moon”, ‘Let it Fly”, “Hittas” and “Let it all Work Out.” There are gems throughout the album, so if you haven’t listened to it yet, I suggest you do. 

Reason Impresses on Debut Album “There You Have It”


On a September 29, Top Dawg Entertainment’s Reason dropped his debut album “There You Have It” and it did not disappoint.

The Del Amo native showed impressive lyrics on and displayed that he has what it takes to be the next big thing in hip hop. Reason tweeted in regards to the album saying, “This is not a TDE production project, this is a project that Top discovered me off of that he felt was so good, he did not want to rob you guys of this experience of hearing it. Remixed and Remastered, There You Have It.”

Top Dawg Entertainment is the biggest label on the West Coast with Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and SZA to name a few. In my opinion, adding Reason just makes the roster a bit deeper. 

The album is unique because it gives you a West Coast vibe that you can hear it in the beats and his flow. A lot of rap albums (especially mumble rap) nowadays are starting to sound the same and have little substance. This album talks about all kinds of different topics like relationships, encounters with gang bangers, murder and much more.

This isn’t pop rap or mumble, this is music that will last and that you can connect to. The best songs on “There You Have It” in my opinion are “Kurupt”, “Drive Slow/Taste Like Heaven”, “Situations” and “Summer Up”. 

If you have yet to listen to this lyricist, you need to give him a listen because this is classic rap music flowing over cool beats, storytelling and spitting bars. Jump on the bandwagon now before he blows up. 

Discover & Download


This segment is a special article on new music and artists to check out. I will feature submissions and artists that we have on circulation at Sacramento State’s student-run radio KSSU.com. This post will focus on Acid Dad, Fine China, and The Rubens.

Acid Dad:

Acid Dad consists of Kevin Walker (Drums), Sean Fahey (Guitar/Vox), JP Basileo (Bass) and Vaughn Hunt (Guitar/Vox). The upstate New York quartet delivers a Psychedelic Indie Rock sound with Punk elements in their music. Acid Dad’s self-titled release features some amazing music with conflicting sounds. The music starts out aggressive and changes style halfway through. It almost feels as if there were two EPs combined together. Overall the music is great and songs like 2Ci show the indie mellow vibe, while songs like Mistress show that indie punk aggressive sound. Some similar artist styles include Las Rosas, Ty Segal, Tame Impala, and King Tuff.

Fine China:

Fine China offers a nice indie rock sound that uses elements of 80’s pop and modern indie sound. The band is comprised of three members Thom Walsh (Drummer), Greg Markov (Bassist), and Rob Withem (Keyboardist/Vocals). The band originates from Phoenix, AZ. Songs like The Hymnal 1982 offer elements of dreamy synths and aggressive chords that work well together. Then you have songs such as Iron is Your Love, which showcases their 80’s indie rock tendencies.

The Rubens: 

The Rubens is comprised of band members Sam Margin (lead vocals), Elliot Margin (Keyboards), Izaak Margin(Guitar), Scott Baldwin( Drums), and William Zeglis (Bass). Yes, they are brothers and close friends hailing from Australia. The Million Man EP features previously released tracks such as the hit My Gun which has that alternative rock sound that features many elements of aggressive bass and guitar with soft pop vocals. The band plans to continue on their successful momentum to release a full-length album following the Million Man EP. Songs like Hoops give a good taste of the Rubens band we love and enjoy. The songs have that bass and keyboard synth that give emotion to the vocals. If you’re a fan of  The Black Keys and Cage the Elephant, then you will enjoy this band very much.

///RaspadoPapi