For some reason, i woke up at 4 AM and I find myself completely unable to fall back asleep. I’m not even tired in the slightest which is weird since I took a sleeping pill before going to bed at 11. It’s bothersome because I need to up at 7:30 for class and I won’t be getting home from work tonight until around 1:30 AM or so. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take a short nap at some point today. Anyways, I figured that meant now was as good a time as any to catch up on some of my blogging. Continuing my Bonnaroo series, I give you “Big Beast” by Atlanta rapper and Outkast associated act, Killer Mike. Long time readers might remember me using his fantastic number “Reagan” earlier this year. “Big Beast” isn’t as good (it just isn’t as deep) but it’s without question a fun party track.
As an aside, I had a very difficult time getting a good picture of Killer Mike. He was playing after midnight and his stage was poorly lit, and since this was still the first day of Bonnaroo, I was still getting used to what types of settings on the camera to use to get the best photos in dim lighting.
I could listen to this song on repeat for days. FOR DAYS! It is, almost without question, the greatest hip-hop song of all time. I don’t quite think that Outkast is the greatest maker of rap music ever (that’s still Kanye West or A Tribe Called Quest), but they definitely made what was probably the greatest rap song ever and one of the best songs of the 2000s period. I am of course talking about “B.O.B.,” sometimes known as “Bombs Over Baghdad.” This was the hip-hop song that saw into the future in a terrifying way. I mean, holy fuck this song is good. I wanted to deny how excellent it was for the longest time just because it upset my long-held belief that good hip-hop had stopped being made the minute Tupac and Biggie both died. I was wrong. I was an asshole and thank god I was taught otherwise. I break into the most awkward bouncing white-boy dance every time this song comes on. I look like an even skinnier, white version of Andre 3K in the scene in the song’s video where he’s doing a ridiculous dance. Anyways, this song is literally perfect. Enjoy.
Just when you thought it felt like nobody was making great political hip-hop anymore, Killer Mike brought it (and Atlanta) back to the critical darling forefront with his opus R.A.P. Music (which stands for Rebellious African People, making it the best hip-hop acronym since N.W.A.). R.A.P. Music was easily the second best hip-hop record of last year, behind good Kid, M.a.a.D. city and just ahead of Nas’s Life Is Good. He combined funky Southern-fried rap and rapid fire beats/rhymes with an intelligence that has been missing from the southern rap scene ever since the dissolution of Outkast (who are the greatest Southern rap outfit of all time). It’s hard to pick the best track off of the fantastic album but I’ll go with the political firestorm known as “Reagan.” This might be hyperbole because the song is so fresh to me but this could be one of the best political hip-hop tune since Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.” It’s that damn good. Enjoy.
Kanye West may still own the sole share in hip-hop’s throne, but considering how disappointing both Watch the Throne and Cruel Summer were, it’s becoming clear that Kanye isn’t going to be at the top forever. To be fair, those were collaborative albums that he wasn’t in charge of so here’s hoping that his next solo album is better. If anybody coming up in hip-hop right now has a chance to dethrone Kanye, it’s Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar. I’ve used “The Recipe” and “A.D.H.D.” from Kendrick’s solo output already as my Song of the Day and his verse on his Black Hippy partner Ab-Soul’s “ILLuminate” is one of the best parts of the song (not that Ab-Soul doesn’t bring the heat). Kendrick Lamar was my third favorite act at this year’s Bonnaroo. I’m actually pretty pissed right now about Kendrick Lamar. He was supposed to play in Morgantown on this Friday with Gym Class Heroes (but who gives a fuck about them). But the show was postponed til next week. And I’m going to have to work that Friday. So I can’t go. Fuck! It really sucks because Lamar just released his debut studio LP, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and it gives Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE a run for its money as best album of the year (and also the most annoying title stylization). Here’s one of the hit singles off the record, “Swimming Pool (Drank).” Enjoy and listen to this album on endless repeat.
Back during my first tenure at FYE at the Morgantown Mall, we used to be forced to play DVDs over all of the store’s televisions. Then, these DVDs would have their audio hooked up to the store’s main speakers. These DVDs had music videos on them as well as trailers for films that were coming out on DVD or Blu-Ray soon. 90% of the songs that wound up on those DVDs were absolutely terrible and bordered on torturous. I don’t know how many times I had to listen to Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus 5 times a day because they were on the DVD. And that’s before we get into some of the truly horrendous country music. However, there was a silver lining to all of this. Most of the DVDs had at least one and maybe two bearable songs and occasionally a really great one. “Erase Me” by Kid Cudi feat. Kanye West was one of the good songs to show up on those DVDs. I’m not really into the whole hip-hop via pop music thing, but this is one of those songs that just does it undeniably well. I’ve never really gotten into Kid Cudi all that much (cause I’m not big into stoner rap), but this is a great tune.
Before some dumb-ass feels the need to inform me, I’m already wear that Makaveli is Tupac’s stage name. Hence the picture of Tupac Shakur above these very words. Anyways back to the post. As I’ve mentioned on here a couple of times, I had African-American foster siblings growing up. And every night before we went to bed, my brother Darryl would play his 2Pac records as well as his Bone Thugz N Harmony cds. I probably rebelled against his taste in hip-hop at the time, but it had an indelible effect on my taste in music for the rest of my life, and to this day, you can play any classic Bone Thugz or 2Pac and it will transport me back to being a little kid learning about music that I would have never heard (at least until I was older) if he my foster siblings hadn’t come into my life. One of the 2Pac records my brother had was The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory which was 2Pac’s first posthumous record (of several) and it was released under his stage name Makaveli. It’s one of Pac’s darkest records, and I love it. Every time I hear “Hail Mary,” or today’s Song of the Day, “To Live and Die in L.A.,” I get excited and want to party. Usually, I believe East Coast is a lot better than West Coast for hip-hop (and honestly most music) but Tupac is the exception to that rule .
Before he was the biggest name in hip-hop (and the best thing to happen to the genre since Outkast), Kanye was just a kid from Chi-Town whose production skills were legendary (one need only look at his contributions to The Blueprint to see that) but whose mic prowess was unknown. But Yeezy had a thing or two to teach the world, and I’m not sure if there’s ever been a better breakthrough album in hip-hop than The College Dropout. It’s not perfect. The front half is, but the second half is spotty at best. But, with that album, Kanye West would begin his journey that would ultimately change hip-hop forever. You may not like the man but his genre-blurring ambitions and refusal to just be another rapper has radically changed the hip-hop landscape this decade. “Spaceship” isn’t my favorite Kanye West song. That’s probably “Lost in the World” or “Runaway,” but this is the best song off his first record (possibly his first four records although I do love “Love Lockdown” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”). As someone who wiles away his day in retail hell, I can relate to a lot of this track (although obviously not the parts about being black). Enjoy.
First things first. Andre 3000’s ‘fro in that picture is legen-wait for it-dary. Just damn man. That is like a Black Dynamite afro. Secondly, I’ve got a friend that considers Outkast to be the GoAT (greatest of all time) when it comes to hip-hop. I’m not sure if I’d go that far. That’s either Kanye West or a Tribe Called Quest to me, but Outkast definitely comes in right behind those guys. They certainly have the greatest rap song of all time, “Bombs Over Baghdad,” and the album that song is on, Stankonia, is a perennial contender for the greatest hip-hop album of the 2000s. However, we’re moving back to the 90s and their classic album Aquemini and the song that spawned a lawsuit, “Rosa Parks.” Why the hell can’t Outkast get back together? Seriously, Stankonia is perfection. Speakerboxx and The Love Below were great but they were two separate solo albums that happened to be released together. I’ve loved Big Boi’s solo output (“Shutterbug” is definitely going to be my song of the day someday), but I want a new Outkast record. Who’s with me?
If you don’t think that Kendrick Lamar is the best thing to happen to hip-hop since Kanye West, you aren’t listening to the same rap genius that I am. Last year’s Section.80 was one of the strongest hip-hop records of the year (or since for that matter), and everything that Kendrick Lamar and the rest of the Black Hippy crew (Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q) have been dropping this year has been really solid. I’ve already used Lamar’s “A.D.H.D.” as my Song of the Day many moons ago as well as Ab-Soul’s “ILLuminate” which featured a killer verse from Kendrick Lamar. I actually still think that “ILLuminate” is the best hip-hop tune of the year. Kendrick Lamar has been dubbed the crown prince of hip-hop by true icons of the genre, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. He’s bringing California back in the biggest way since N.W.A. Earlier this year, Kendrick Lamar released a tune he made with none other than Dre himself. “The Recipe” joins “ILLuminate” and Odd Future’s “Oldie” as being one of the best rap tunes of the year. Enjoy.
Last year had a ton of contenders for “Best Music Video.” “Midnight City” by M83 had cinematic pretensions. “Cruel” by St. Vincent perfectly gelled with the sexual (as in gender-based) themes of Strange Mercy. “Calamity Song” by the Decemberists was just straight nerdy fun that managed to deliberately evoke Infinite Jest. Who the fuck does that but Colin Meloy? “Kaputt” by Destroyer was just weird as hell but also quite awesome and few things can match the beauty of “Holocene.” However, did any of those videos have the immediacy of Tyler, the Creator’s viral smash “Yonkers.” I think everybody can remember their reaction the first time they saw the video for this song and it mostly involved something like “What the fuck am I watching?” (in a good way). Tyler (and by proxy the rest of Odd Future) are definitely a hit and miss crew, but much like “Oldie,” “Yonkers” was a cruise missile to the face. Whether it’s Tyler’s contradictory rhymes, his endless pop culture references, or the brilliance of the music video, just about every aspect of “Yonkers” was a success.