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

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. 

The Weeknd: My Dear Melancholy,


The Weeknd just dropped his latest musical project titled My Dear Melancholy, which comes out just in time for his headlining performance at Coachella weekend. The EP’s title shows a possible message towards Tesfaye’s former lover Selena Gomez, with whom Tesfaye had a tumultuous relationship. There are many points being made that the title of songs, the lyrics, and the timing of the release refer to Selena Gomez.

This latest release shows a change from the more pop-centric sounds that we are known to hear from The Weeknd, yet keeps the style seen on Starboy. The sound, in general, keeps a darker R & B sound while keeping a similar style to the Daft Punk produced tracks.

The opening song Call Out My Name sets the tone with lyrics such as “I helped you out of a broken place,” which is possibly a reference to former girlfriend Gomez dealing with a breakup and dealing with Lupus. Then goes on to say “Falling for you was my mistake” which reflects the hurt that The Weeknd felt. The song is currently number 4 on the Billboards top 100.

Tracks like Hurt You have a similar sound to Starboys’ I Feel It Coming and it makes sense. Gessalfelstein and Daft Punk are often collaborators in music, we noticed this in the production credits for YEEZUS album. The sound seems like a transition from The latest album and Tesfaye’s first mixtape.

Every track from the EP is charting on the Billboard top 100 and there is no doubt as to why. Every song delivers a hit with a range of emotions such as regret, anger, sadness, and acceptance.  The production speaks as much as Tesfaye’s words and the credits on this EP include Mike Will Made it, Skrillex, Guy Manuel (Daft Punk), Nicolas Jaar, Frank Dukes, and Gesalfellstein.

 

///BIGTAPATIO

Majid Jordan : The Space Between [Album Review]


Majid_jordan_the_space_between

Majid Jordan is one of the rising acts from Octobers Very Own music label. The label is headed by Drake, Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib. The roster includes such names as PARTYNEXTDOOR and Roy Woods. The roster is full of heavy hitters who specialized mostly in Hip-Hop and RnB. Majid Jordan is compromised of Majid Al-Maskati and Jordan Ullman. The duo was known for their atmospheric and darker tones of RnB. The basslines and smooth vocals usually float really well and have given Majid Jordan a unique sound.

Their sophomore album The Space Between features a more pop and spatial sound than their previous releases. The album features mostly productions by Jordan Ullman with a track featuring in-house producer nineteen85 but also features PARTYNEXTDOOR and DVSN. The sound is very spacious with deep percussions and smooth basslines.

Tracks like “Gave your love away” was featured on OVO’s radio station previous to the release and it was a much-needed hype to the album release. The smooth melodic vocals, deep rhythms, and smooth sounds make this a standout on the album. Then you have songs like “Body Talk” that features a Dembow percussive rhythm heard in reggeaton or dancehall. The song itself creates a slow and intimate vibe that increases pace as the song progresses. The perfect song for a slow dance with a lover. There is no doubt that “One I Want” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR is the single that will be a commercial success. The song features a slow bounce synth and soft bass kicks; then you have PARTYNEXTDOOR singing the chorus and opening verse. Majid eventually compliments the first verse with his and amplifies the song with his ability to hit high notes. A clear love song that has everything for a pop RnB song.

Support from label mate DVSN on “My Imagination” give a simplified and yet complex song of spatial synths and bouncy percussions that compliment the singers’ smooth vocals throughout the song. Overall the album is an evolution of Majid Jordans’ sound and shows some growth. The lack of features from labelmates suggests that Majid Jordan is ready to make their own way out of the shadows of Drake and Noah Shebib. They create their own unique sound that complimentary reflects OVO’s sad boy RnB sound.  There is much growth in their latest project, but could their sound maintain this continuous evolution that reflects spatial sound and lyrics that reflect introverted thoughts? The album is not a party anthem album; it’s not even really a single loaded album. It’s an album with a theme that correlates to each continuous track that could stand alone on its own accord, but you wouldn’t want to do that. You want to start from beginning to end and go through this journey of emotions, thoughts, and reflections that are present throughout the album.

 

 

///Victor

Young Thug: Young Martha [EP Review]


carnage-young-thug-1-800x600Young thug and EDM DJ Carnage deliver not just another banger collaborative track, but a whole EP titled Young Martha. The EP has some really standout tracks. The EP is titled after Martha Stewart, who is respected amongst many rappers and those in the Hip-Hop community because Martha Stewart made millions and even did jail time. The first track features Meek Mills and delivers a nice flow and an original sound to Rap music. You even get alternate vocal tone shifts by Young Thug himself. Songs like Liger has more of a traditional party track sound by Thugger, but what makes it an interesting song is the mention of buying a Liger, a much rarer animal than even Tigers. This is a reference to his style and rap skills being unique and one of a kind. Then you close up with a club-friendly, EDM track titled Don’t Call Me and it has a bass house vibe. The EP is well constructed with party anthems for the House Party and even the club. It’s a must download/stream
https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/1uPwwIkzsCOanBsLExFitZ
The direction Carnage has taken as a producer has gone more of a Hip Hop-friendly EDM sound which has helped to close the gap between contemporary pop rap and EDM. This sound is heavily prevalent in the percussion and synths with this EP. We can expect to hear more of Carnage collaborating with many rap artists because it has become clear its a winning formula. This formula is often most popularized by major EDM producers like Diplo and Brodinski. The former having worked with everyone from M.I.A. to Travis Scott, while Brodinski brought that Atlanta Trap and Techno EDM fusion with such rappers as 21 savage and has pushed the barrier of the sound.

Young Thug is pushed lyrically and presents a picture of growth and reflection with mentions of growing up due to his parental responsibilities as a teen. Mentions of surrounding himself with “Homies” who have his back in not just physical confrontations, but with regards to snitchin’, financially, and supportively.

This whole collaboration between Carnage and Young Thug came forth because of a year old track called Don’t Call Me featured on Carnage’s Soundcloud account and culminated with this EP. This EP is stylized after a similar project of Young Thugs to create a trilogy of releases that culminate with an album. So we can anticipate much more from the two pushing the pop rap and EDM scenes into a head-on collision; Which shall push the boundaries of the two respective music cultures. Young Martha barely scratches the surface of what we can expect to hear from both collaborators.

The first single released for the EP is Homie which showcases a visual illusion that rolls through an infinite series of ceiling and floor with no real distinguished ceiling. The video is ultimately weird but reflects the eeriness of the music itself by the two collaborators.

Tremaine Album Review


For this heavily anticipated new album Trey Songz comes back with a pretty solid album named Tremaine. Tremaine is an album Trey Songz wanted to show the listeners that he is still one of the best if not the best R&B artist in the game today. Trey Songz expressed in his interview with the Breakfast Club that he named his first track on his album named Playboy because of his current situation with women. He explained that being at the stature that he is in he feels that he can not trust a woman with his heart because, there is always more calling and does not fill the urge to be committed in one relationship.  The interview with the Breakfast Club he discussed his issues with Nicki Minaj and simply put he felt that it was weak on Nicki’s part to get at him for no reason over the allegations claimed in the Shether song. Once the interview was over the anticipation of this album has gone up. There are 15 total songs on this album. I will review the once that are highly recommended to check out and listen to on rotation.

#2 song- Come Over: This song is one of the best songs on this album that brings fans right in to show exactly why Trey Songz is one of the best in his group. A must download with great vibes, hooks, and chorus throughout the whole track.

#5 song- Playboy: A song with context and understanding where Trey Songz is coming from I feel that this song is a great song to listen to in certain moods. I enjoyed the sound the message of the song and Trey Songz delivered well on this track.

#6 song The Sheets…..Still: To me this best song on the album, with how great he switched up his flow and how smooth his voice changed talking about the experience with the woman in the song definitely makes this a favorite song on the album to me.

#10 song 1×1: This song instantly is a summer vibe song that could be a great radio song to play. Nice vibes and high upbeat rhythm to this track makes you want to vibe. Highly recommended song for those looking for a summer jam.

#12 song: What Are We Here For?: One of my favorite songs on the album that is an instant radio play. With the beat and rhythm this is a quality track that will be played a lot more in the summer.

Review Score: 7/10 Very solid album that will be played from time to time.

-DjLeodawnus

Joey Bada$$- All Amerikkkan Review


The heavily touted single Land of the Free from Brooklyn’s own Joey Bada$$ made the anticipation of his All Amerikkan album sky rocket in expectations. Coming to towards this album I knew that Joey Bada$$ is on of the most lyricist rappers in the game today. My expectations for this album before listening to it, was that it was going to have a political standpoint of how Joey sees the world within his eyes. Once listening to it couple times that is something was accomplished. With features of TDE’s own ScHoolboyQ, Styles P, J. Cole, Flatbush Zombie’s own Meechy Darko, Nyck Caution, Kirk Night, and Chronixx. I had an idea of what type of sound that Joey Bada$$ kinda like old school melodic deep lyrical type music. The songs that i really enjoyed and recommend on this album.

Land of the Free: A song that has a Biggie sample that I felt he used very well in what he feels the status of being a black person with a voice in society.

Rockabye Baby: My favorite song on the album that has a great sound rhythms and lyrics. ScHoolboy Q came in hard and had a great feature on this album that makes this song come together to be one of the best songs on the album.

Y U Don’t Love Me?: Most interesting and very insightful track from Joey. He puts this song as a message of being in a relationship with the country he lives in. Very good insightful track.

Legendary: With having J. Cole on this song he fits very will with the sound and hook. Both J. Cole and Joey Bada$$ fit very well together and just feel good music that has a very good message in it.

Devastated: To me has the best rhythm sound that has a very good radio value. Joey made on of the best beat on this song that is instantly catchy and has a lot of replay value.

Temptations: A song with a heavy message that comes with a very good up tempo beat. Having insight of the media is hurting the cause and it was a plot to have all this outrage to push certain agendas.

Rating: 8/10 Very good album has a lot of replay value.

-DJLeodawnus