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:


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.


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


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.


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. 

Bay Nite: Event Review

The new Bay Area rave Bay Nites recently occurred on March 31st in San Francisco’s famous Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The event had a bit of everything from Rap to Electronic Dance Music. The venue lacked any real parking structures and San Francisco offered little to nothing of available street parking, but going into San Francisco I wasn’t expecting much in terms of parking. As I entered the venue and scoped out my surroundings, I noticed the mixture of attendees from Hip Hop heads to full on Rave goers. The diversity in demographics showed that these events thrown by Insomniac have something for everyone and inclusive of all people. This is something that Insomniac productions have done across the board from Electric Daisy Carnival to all smaller events.

YEHME2 went up and just killed his set. Formerly a member of the famous Flosstradamus duo, YEHME2 played new music and some classics from his earlier Flosstradamus days such as Roll Up and the many rare remixes that many don’t know about. The set featured a lot of Rap, Trap style EDM, and even The Beatles.

The next set was JOYRYDE who brought that European sound of Garage House, Bass House, RIDDIM (Fancy word for Dubstep) and even some classic Electro. His performance definitely woke everyone up and we even got some explosions that were synchronized with the music’ bass drops.

Lil Yachty took awhile to come out but that didn’t matter because Lil Yachtys’ DJ was dropping a mini set that got the crowd going crazy by playing songs by tons of currently trending songs. Lil Yachty performed all his hits and new songs off his new album Lil Boat 2 and the crowd went crazy. Lil Yachty then had his entourage throw over a hundred water bottles in the crowd and when the Bass Dropped, instructed everyone to toss the water in the air. It was literally one of the most “LIT” moments of the night and showed us how great a performer Lil Yachty and his DJ are.

The performance I was most excited for was NAV, who is a member of the XOXO label headed by The Weeknd. The performance was amazing because NAV played his songs and songs he was featured on. At one moment Nav asked if anyone was a fan from the beginning and then went to play one of his first songs titled Fell In Love, which is a love song about California and particularly Los Angeles and The San Francisco Bay.

The last performance was by Los Angeles native DJ SAYMYNAME and he brought that heavy hardstyle music mixed in with Rap and Trap. The performance was the last one of the night but it showed no sign of stopping. The crowd was still there until the end of his set and it was one of the most aggressive sets the whole night. A memorable moment is when SAYMYNAME dropped A$AP Ferg’s Work remix.

Overall the night was epic with a great lineup. I went in with an open mind and the performances I was least excited for were probably the ones I enjoyed the most. Till next time…



Album Review: “The Night God Slept” by Silent Planet

SP.CoverThe very first song I heard from Silent Planet was “Tiny Hands (Au Revoir) off their EP titled “Lastsleep (1944-1946)” was love at first listen. I thought, “Gee, these guys already sound experienced and professional.” Turns out, they have only released a demo CD and one self-recorded EP. The album that just came out titled “The Night God Slept” is their first album- ever. Silent Planet is a Christian Metalcore band from Los Angeles. Although they are christian, they do not like to have labels on them and during an interview, their guitar player claimed that they do not want to play in churches, “but we want to play for the broken.” The link to the interview is at the bottom. With this new album, Silent Planet has been signed to Solid State Records and already have some recognition. Bands like For Today and August Burns Red are backing up the release of this new album and on eight of the eleven tracks there are featured christian artists. Silent Planet is coming into 2015 hot with no signs of braking.

Let’s break this album down real quick. First off, the lyrics are amazing. All the lyrics are direct quotes, paraphrases, or interpretations by the vocalist of other sources. These sources include philosophical books, historical events, the Bible, and many more other things. Not only that, but the lyrics all flow together around a central main idea while also remaining connected to all listeners. All instruments at one point do show their max amount of talent, but they remain humble when needed. The instruments are not focused on being the heaviest or most technical, but they are very talented and get crazy at times. The keep the song entertaining while also complementing the vocalist. Also, one of the guitar players sings to bring in that “clean” aspect to the Metalcore genre. By the way, it is good singing not like a girly man kind of singing either.

My favorite songs (in order of appearance) are XX (City Grave), Native Blood, Tiny Hands (Au Revoir), and Wasteland. “XX (City Grave) talks about the objectification of women as sexual beings instead of equals to men and how that is wrong. The song explains how we should treat all women as sisters and abolish pornography, regardless of profit being lost or desires that men have. “Native Blood” is about how Native Americans were kicked out their land by people who claimed to be Servants of God. Silent Planet retaliated against the idea of the settlers being servants by explaining what it really is to be a Servant. They then compare the idea of False Servant-hood to most preachers today. “Tiny Hands (Au Revoir)” is a Holocaust survival story about a Jewish woman who escaped a Synagogue being burned by Nazis by jumping out a giant window into a garden. There are also topics such as the Garden of Eden and the existence of both forces of Good and Evil. Finally, the song “Wasteland”. This song is about the rise of Joseph Stalin and his attempt to abolish God completely, making himself the new supreme figurehead that everyone are supposed to worship. The song also looks at the lives of the soldiers under Stalin who were dying unnecessary deaths after losing their faith on the battle field, hence the name “Wasteland”.

I can go on and on, but you should go check it out for yourself. I highly recommend that you check out the album playlist on youtube (which I have provided a link) and read the lyrics while the songs are playing. I promise you will not regret it and your mind will be blown.

Thanks for reading! If you want to hear more music like Silent Planet and other great artists, tune into my show “Shred the Gnar” Tuesdays at 8am on http://www.kssu.com

Much Love, DJGingerbeard


Playlist= https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d9HHQqtguY&list=PLCslpjrb7cYjhht_4wASD6IGoivkLfD-z&index=10

interview= https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi_VYGnuHl8

30/30 Playlist: Songs That Got Me Through the Semester

Playlist bannerDuring the each semester, or periods in my life in general, there is always music to help me get through it. Certain songs when played will always take me back to the time period in my life where those songs were on repeat. Everyone should have those.

So this past semester, these few songs were released, and it helped me get through Fall 2014 with a little more ease.

Note to readers: I am a very eclectic guy when it comes to my music taste. Despite my dislike for edm and country, expect a variety of styles on this playlist!


Dirty Heads: Silence

This song was released on the reggae rock band’s sophomore LP Sound of Change, and it was the one that stuck out to me the most. It has that perfect blend of their rap style with the use of some minor chords and a hard hitting chorus that had me playing this song on repeat. Their rapping has definitely improved since their debut album. The chorus starts off soft, with the a melodic croon, then hits hard, going full band. I was extremely happy when I saw them play this live at Ace of Spades in October. This made the breaks between classes and work much more enjoyable.

But the silence is deafening!


The Kooks: Sweet Emotion

This song was from their latest release, Listen, and man, this is definitely a change of pace from their older stuff. I’m not upset about that at all though, because this song is amazing. It was the very last track on the album, which made for a great closer. The album as a whole was pretty good in my opinion, but when this song came up, it made the album waaay better. This song has that effect. It starts off with the catchy guitar riff and the voice. Then throughout the song, more instruments keep coming into the mix and it just gets better. This song made me extremely happy whenever I played it, and helped me get through a lot of tedious work for some of my classes. So soulful, so great.

Everytime you’re near mee!


Childish Gambino: All Y’all

Childish Gambino dropped his two part project, Mixtape STN MTN & EP Kuai, this past semester with good reception. While the EP was more on his singing side, the mixtape was full of rap that only Childish Gambino can deliver. He surprisingly rapped over and remixed a lot of old tracks, including Timbaland’s “All Y’all”. What stuck out to me was his verses and flow on this track. Gambino has been changing his style up for awhile now, especially since Because the Internet was more of a concept album. But on this track, it reminded me of his older stuff with his updated skill now. He delivered the funny pop culture punch lines, sped up and slowed down his flow, threw in some minimal singing, and more. The content was also very camp and cul de sac esque. Although it is not self produced, the beat suited him well. All of this made it my favorite out of the mixtape and EP, making it a song I can always go to in high stress situations.

We were born free, that’s my God given


Four Year Strong: Go Down in History EP

So this is the only band i’ve bought every album for and that isn’t changing anytime soon. When this was released, I had to go to Dimple and buy the EP. From their last album, it was very refreshing to hear them go more towards their routes, while still growing as a band. This whole EP gave me something to stomp my feet to and hit my chest with my fist towards. I hope you get the imagery because that’s exactly what I wanted to do while listening.. I am extremely bummed I didn’t get to see them when they came to Slim’s SF for their tour. But the five track EP still gave me great hardcore pop punk to listen to, and I was extremely happy with this purchase. I definitely need to mosh to these guys soon.. They need to release an LP and go on tour for that! Great for the skates from the apartment to the school!

I couldn’t find the words to.. So read the writing on the walls!


Kendrick Lamar: i

With this release, came the mixed reviews, including from myself.. I am a huge fan of Kendrick Lamar and TDE as a whole, so with this release compared to the others,  came confusion. Why would this hard hitting skilled rapper release this “pop” song?? Especially with the album art and tweets talking about it before it came out. I was kind of disappointed. As were many others, but the thing is, I didn’t get it at first. I couldn’t comprehend this because we as a generation of listeners isn’t use to this anymore. And when we hear it, it automatically gets put under pop or mainstream. But when I watched the music video, I understood it a little more. I knew there was something different, and that it wasn’t the regular mainstream pop song. Then I saw his performance on SNL.. and it blew me away. I instantly got it. He was bringing the soul, funk, and rock and roll back into the black culture and music as a whole. At least that’s what I saw, his performance could of been different; it could’ve been a mainstream puppet running around on stage with endorsement deals all around his outfit, screaming into the mic while running around trying to hype the crowd. But it wasn’t. So I watched interviews, and he basically said what I thought. About bringing the soul back, incorporating it into hip-hop. With such a positive message as well, it is a well done and executed song. I grew on me instantly when I saw the visuals, which is kind of sad to say. But hey, definitely a feel good song that got me through the hectic weeks. *starts doing kendrick dance






Joey Bada$$: Christ Conscious

With every semester comes a hard hitting hitting rap song that I can bump and listen to while walking around. This is that song for me. Joey Bada$$ is releasing his debut album B4.DA.$$ in January, but for now he’s dropping singles, each of which being hip-hop gold. In my opinion. With the classic boom-bap style with his hard hitting verses and flow, this made a great song to ride around to. Especially since he premiered the song with the video, it made me instantly wanting to walk the streets of Sac and start rapping. lol This guy is younger than me, but his talent with rapping is greater than most now a days. Definitely an album i’m anticipating, but for now, i have the three singles, including this.

Got dragon balls like my name was Vegeta!!


So these were the songs. Some of you may not like the choices, but each of these struck a chord within me, making me want to listen to them more. Comment your mini playlist that got you through the semester below, that would be dope!

Each person feels different music and music differently, just saying.

Jerel is a DJ at KSSU So like listen and stuff.

Album Review: ‘Pieces of a Dream’ by Ohmega Watts

Ohmega Watts Pieces of a Dream

Cover art for Ohmega Watts’ Pieces of a Dream

Ohmega Watts’ LP Pieces of a Dream has been a healthy addition to my hip-hop repertoire. I wish I’d heard this a long time ago, but I know why it is only coming into my life now- only recently am I able to appreciate songs like these.

If you’ve read my album reviews earlier on Hologram Kizzie’s ‘Hug Life’ and A.S.H.E.S the Chosen’s ‘ID, Ego, Superego’ you can see that I like in my hip-hop trancy beats or some electronic production, loud and driven lyrics, and a fast and upbeat tempo. I have been drawn for some time now to flashy rap music, but Watts’ newest project has caught my ear for every other reason. [Read more…]

DJ Mappquest Interviews Zion I (Again) – January 30th, 2014

So last week I got to see Zion I perform in Sacramento at Assembly.  This comes a year and four months removed from their last visit through, on the ShadowBoxing tour.  After the show I met up with Zumbi and Amplive to ask them a few questions.  NOTE: This is not a verbatim of what they said.  You can listen to the attached copy to hear exactly what was said.  This was slightly edited for it to “make sense”.  The audio is not edited, but it is there in case you want to listen to it.

zumbi-at-assemblyJosh Alvarez Mapp: So how do you feel the reception for ShadowBoxing was?
Zumbi: I think it was good man.  It opened us up to a different fan base.  Took us deeper into the EDM scene a bit.  I think honestly it turned off some hip hop cats because they don’t necessarily mess with that so they left it alone, but it opened us up to EDM which is what happens when you try different stuff, it’s back and forth – it is what it is. [Read more…]

Childish Gambino Changes Things Up with “Because the Internet”

“Because the Internet” album cover

danny glvoer

Childish Gambino (a.k.a Donald Glover) recently released his newest project Because The Internet. Unlike any regular project, Gambino released his 2nd studio album along side a screenplay that can be accessed through becausetheinter.net. On this website, he creates an interactive reading experience. While reading along, you can watch clips and listen to his new songs that corresponds to the part you’re reading. Everything about this album is internet-esque, or an ode to today’s internet age, referencing to things such as the popular website worldstarhiphop.com, internet slang such as “troll”, mentions, etc. Also the way it was highly promoted through Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr, and other internet avenues adds to the feel for this new project.

[Read more…]