Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dope Duos

With 2 rappers having to share the spotlight on an album, the key to success is both artists having styles/deliveries that compliment each other well, and both also need to be able to transcend between each others verses at ease. There have been numerous quality duos that have graced the hip hop scene over the years, as well as many who are still currently active. I haven't set out for this post to be a broad overview of all the dope duos that have put out a record, instead I'm just going to touch on 5 that I listen to a fair bit and who possess the aforementioned attributes, this is really just the tip of the iceberg but it's a starting point none the less.

Twin Beredaz
(Coast & Quota Key)

Few duos I've come accross have had the same level of cohesion as these two Houston emcees, and surprisingly enough, these two artists didn't even grown up together. Both artists gained the attention of Dope House Records and were doing their own thing for the label until they started hooking up and doing some tracks together, once Coast had been offered a record deal he insisted that the label sign Quota Key as well, and in doing so Twin Beredaz came into effect. Coast, who hails from Epsom Downs, and Quota Key, who hails from 1st Ward, have an uncanny chemistry on record and both flow flawlessly, therefore enabling their music to sound so free-flowing and incredible. In 2002 the two Texas emcees dropped their debut album, the self titled 'Twin Beredaz' on Dope House Records, an album that showcases their ability to record a diverse range of tracks and still come off sounding sick on all of them. Both have since released solo albums and a follow up Twin Beredaz album simply titled "Coast & Quota" has been set to drop for sometime.

BG Knoccout & Dre'sta
There isn't much I can say about this Compton gangsta rap duo that Bullant hasn't already mentioned in his review of 'Real Brothas', so if you've read that then this paragraph is probably going to sound pretty familiar. They gained a lot of attention by appearing on Eazy E's Dre/Snoop diss 'Real Muthaphukkin G's' and later went on to drop the aforementioned album on Outburst/Def Jam in 1995. The fact that these two are actually real brothers goes along way in explaining why they sound perfect with each other on record. With BG Knoccout's fast and funky rhymes and Dre'sta's raw delivery lacing top notch Rhythm D beats, there aren't many albums out there than can match this release's smootheness. Sorry for just rehashing what Bullant has already mentioned, but I couldn't do a post on quality duos in hip hop and leave these two guys out, to me, they possess all the characteristics that make a duo dope. Also if you didn't know B.G. Knoccout was recently released from prison after about a decade inside and is teaming back up with his bro to hopefully drop another gem.

(Bun B & Pimp C)

Underground Kingz Bun B and Pimp C are long time friends from Pt Arthur, Texas, who formed in the late 1980's and who have gone on to forge successful careers both as a duo and with their solo efforts. Both halves of this duo sound totally different, with Bun B bringing his dominating delivery to the table and Pimp C offering his unique southern swagger, UGK's contrasting styles go together perfectly and from their early work up to the latest solos from both, I've yet to hear a UGK release I haven't liked. Although, without taking anything away from Pimp C, Bun B is definitely my favourite emcee of the two, his 2005 'Trill' album is (along with GB's 'Foundation') my favourite Rap-A-Lot album to have dropped in the new century. With their first release dating back to 1987 and with a highly anticipated self titled album due to drop in the coming months, the Texas tandem have established themselves as figureheads of the dirty south hip hop scene.

Eightball & MJG
Hailing from Orange Mound (Memphis, Tennessee), Eightball and MJG met each other in 1984 while attending Ridgeway Junior High. Both had a desire to get involved in the hip hop game, and after years of honing their skills they dropped their debut LP 'Comin' Out Hard' on Suave House Records in 1993, they have since followed up with various other additions to their discography, both as a pair as well as solos. Eightball and MJG, whose music consists of interlacing gangsta rhymes rapped over funky southern beats, is often credited as the inspiration for a lot of rappers who came up in the south throughout the 90's and into the new millenium. Eightball himself doesn't mince words when speaking on his personal opinions of himself, he has been quoted as saying "The difference between us and the other groups people would compare us with is that those groups grew up on us". In 2004 the duo went in search of mainstream appeal signing for P Diddy's Bad Boy label and they went gold with their 'Living Legends' release. Following such high record sales, Eightball and MJG have stuck with Bad Boy and their new album, 'Ridin High', is slated for release this month.

Night Hawks
(Cage & Camu Tao)

First off, I'm aware that Night Hawks is really a one off project rather than an established duo, but I've added them into this post anyway because of the dope concept behind their 2002 self titled release that dropped on Eastern Conference Records. Cage Kennylz and Camu Tao (MegaHertz) take the positions of Det. Sgt. Deke Da Silva and Det. Sgt. Matthew Fox, two fictional characters from the 1981 film 'Nighthawks" starring Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams in the respective roles. Unlike the movie, in the audio version put forward by Cage and Camu Tao, the two New York cops are crooked as fuck and with each track they outline their antics. Cage and Camu Tao are on point throughout this album, and with quality production work from High And Mighty's DJ Mighty Mi and Camu Tao himself, this album successfully recreates the same sinister feel that the movie brings about.

Twin Beredaz - The Best Man
BG Knoccout & Dre'sta - Real Brothas
UGK - Protect And Serve
Eightball & MJG - Pimp In My Own Rhyme
Night Hawks - Night Hawks

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Remix Vinyl Rips Pt 3

I was up half of Friday night ripping tracks from my wax to Mp3 and still have a fair way to go, but for now I have over 30 rare B' side tracks/remix tracks and a few other rarities. To start off the third vinyl rips post, I've put up 3 more remixes. The first is a "G-Mixx" of Above The Laws 'Livin Like A Hustler' off of their Ruthless Records 'Vocally Pimpin' E.P.

Secondly is from San Jose's, M.C. Twist. The track is a remix to 'Step Off' from the B' side to 'Smoking C.O.K.E. This track is nowhere near the dopest track from M.C. Twists 'Bad Influence' album that came out on Lethal Beat Records in 1990. M.C. Twist started out on Luke Records with his debut album with The Def Squad and I think recorded another album a few years ago.

The last remix is by Rhyme Syndicate's, Toddy Tee. The track is 'I Need A Rolex' and it's original version is on the Rhyme Syndicate 'Comin Through' compilation from '88. Sire Warner released a double sided 12" from it that featured Domination on one side and Toddy Tee on the other which features the Rolex remix that is very different from the original and two other tracks that don't feature on the compilation including 'Hip Hop Gangster' that will be making it's way on a post somtime. Hope you enjoy these.


Above The Law - Livin Like A Hustler (REMIX)
MC Twist - Step Off (REMIX)
Toddy Tee - I Need A Rolex (REMIX)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Short And Sweet

...::: EP's :::...

Extended Play's have existed since the early days of the LP age, however the format became a massive part of the music industry in the 1950's/60's thanks to the likes of Elvis (who moved 16.5 million EP units) and RCA who used the format to release a range of soundtracks for Disney. As far as I'm aware, EP's don't have any specific time frames or a distinct track quantity but the title usually fits releases with four to seven tracks. There have been alot of hip hop artisits and groups who have dropped EP's in the past, and although many are sick, the obvious let down is that when you listen to them you are often left wanting more once the final track finishes. When I start to think of EP's in hip hop, NWA's classic "100 Miles And Runnin" pops straight into my head, closely followed by all the oldschool Street Military EP's that I feel could of got alot more exposure if they had an extra few tracks on each. I think that doing complete reviews for EP's is a bit pointless because it's hard to write alot about each one, so I've decided to just briefly talk about 5 at a time in various posts, with this being the first.

Ray Luv - Who Can Be Trusted?
First up is the EP that actually inspired this post, Ray Luv's 'Who Can Be Trusted?' EP that dropped on Strictly Business Records in 1992. San Francisco's Ray Luv came up in the game under the wing of legendary West Coast producer Khayree in the early 90's and was once rap partners with Tupac Shakur (who he also ghost wrote for). Although once known as Roc-T, Ray Luv was inspired by Tupac to change his name before he dropped this EP and created alot of noise in the Bay Area. This release features cuts courtesy of DJ Cee and production from Khayree, and its duration runs just short of the half hour mark. Although I only bought 'Who Can Be Trusted' recently, I've given his first full length album 'Forever Hustlin' alot of play over time, and although I wouldn't say the EP is of the same standard, it has a raw feel to it and some quality tracks, for example "1 Fo Ya Ass (Raymond's Dead)" that I've put up here for you to download.

Al-D - Mind At Ease
As the brother of late Houston pioneer DJ Screw, Al-D's Screwed Up Click membership is a given. After coming out with the 'Home Of The Free' album in 1995, Al-D followed up the next year with his 'Mind At Ease' EP on Jam Down Entertainment. Although it goes for almost 40 minutes, the run time is deceiving as the last track of the EP is an instrumental and the 2 tracks prior are just radio edits. With that already pointed out, I'd say the remaining 5 tracks make this EP worth owning if you're a fan of the SUC sound coming out of Texas. For me, the highlight of this release is the title track, 'Mind At Ease', featuring Act, Shorty Mac and Houston hip hop heavyweight Lil Keke. In 2001 Al-D came back with the '4 Da Green' album which is also available in a screwed-n-chopped version, he can also be heard on various Texas hip hop mixtapes and albums from other Screwed Up Click representers.

Eazy E - 5150: Home 4 Tha Sick
Although the cover clearly says that this is a 'Maxi-Single', I'm going to include Eazy E's 1992 '5150: Home 4 Tha Sick' into this post any way because it has 4 full length tracks that don't feature on any of his other original releases. Obviously Eazy is far from at his best on the repetitive Naughty By Nature produced 'Only If You Want It', but I've got to admit I still enjoy the track a fair bit, although the following 3 tracks are what make this a must have. 'Neighborhood Sniper' featuring Cold 187um is the jewell of this release, when you combine Eazy's ruthless gangsta lyrics with a hook that is as dope and original as the one on this track, you can't lose, the video for this track is also top notch as well. 'Niggaz My Height Don't Fight' allows Eazy to do what he did best, drop straight gangsta rhymes without playing around. To close out this short release, Eazy wishes the listeners a 'Merry Muthafuckin Xmas' with the help of a range of guests, including Will 1X (now Will.I.Am), who actually sounded pretty sick back then...damn, things have changed! R.I.P. Eazy E.

Rasheed - Livin' In D Ghetto
Philadelphia native Rasheed was an already accomplished battle rapper before he moved to Houston, Texas and dropped the 'Livin' In D Ghetto' EP on Lil Troy's Short Stop Records in 1994. For me, the stand out tracks on this grimey 33 minute release are: 'Skinny Nappy Nigga', 'Mr Fingers' and 'Boom Boom Bye'. After his stint at Short Stop, Rasheed later went on to sign with South Park Mexican's Dope House Records and established himself as an integral member of the Dope House family, as well as releasing the 'WetBlack' album alongside Low G. In comparison to his latest efforts, Rasheed's 1994 EP has a more rough, rugged and raw vibe to it, and although I prefer his newer stuff, the old Rasheed sound was still pretty sick. In the last couple of years Rasheed has released an array of different mixtapes etc that I'm still trying to catch up with, he's also got another album titled 'Street Corner Hustler' that he's ready to unleash, so it's safe to say he's been prolific in recent times.

3X Krazy - Sick-O
In 1995 the Oakland trio 3X Krazy (consisting of B.A, Agerman and Keak Da Sneak) dropped their debut EP, 'Sick-O' on Str8 Game Records. The EP, which runs for over 36 minutes, doesn't showcase the best of what the group had to offer, but it still proved as an effective introduction into the game, with the group since going from strength to strength both as a trio and in terms of forging solo careers. The stand out track on this EP is the title track, 'Sick-O', which features Gangsta P and Rap-A-Lot Records artisit Seagram (R.I.P.) from the 69Ville. For me, Seag grabs all the attention on this release with his solitary verse, and although 3X Krazy themselves hold their own, there is something about them that fails to grab me. The Bay Are trio followed up this EP in 1997 with their much requested 'Stackin Chips' album, which I think does the group alot more justice and is well worth listening to if you're into Bay Area hip hop.

Ray Luv - 1 Fo Ya Ass (Raymond's Dead)
Al-D ft Act, Shorty Mac & Lil Keke - Mind At Ease
Eazy E - Neighborhood Sniper
Rasheed - Boom Boom Bye
3X Krazy ft Seagram, Gangsta P - Sick-O

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mixtape Drama

This post is more just a filler to get us through the next few days as we've just got a new computer and are getting software etc all sorted out. Hopefully this will improve the quality of this blog as so far it's been running on an oldschool computer from around '99, running on WindowsME and incompatible with most programmes. When we get it sussed we'll be able to rip a heap of rare vinyl tracks that we've been itching to put on since we started (Afects did hook us up with a couple of dozen that he ripped off of Bullant's wax). We'll also be looking at uploading various bits of footage to youtube and posting them here.

As for the "Mixtape Drama" title, you've probably already heard that DJ Drama & DJ Cannon are in custody after their mixtape lab got raided and thousands of mixtapes along with computers and recording equiptment were seized. Instead of me rehashing a story that's already on other blogs I'll just link you up to Certified Hip Hop and especially the HoustonSoReal blog for more info as Matt Sonzala keeps updating the world with more info.

While we're on the topic of mixtape DJ's, here is the first bit of DVD footage we've ripped, it is a short segment of DJ Kansel's (BattleHoggs) set from the KB Da Kidnappa Oz Tour in August 2006. On the right side of the screen you can download a range of BattleHogg Mixtapes.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Beats From The Bottom

Everyone knows how huge the hip hop scene is down south at the moment, and some ignorant toys might think they came out of nowhere and that they now have some of the biggest names in the biz. The fact is the Dirty South has been around since the beginning and have created their own styles of hip hop. There is alot more to the south than iced out grills, slabs and serp, there's bass, sex rhymes, conscious music and hard gangsta shit to name a few. This post isn't about Texas or Atlanta, its focus is on Miami. I've just picked out 5 different albums that showcase diffent styles that Miami has to offer rather than 5 bass tracks that the area is known for. If you want to know more about Miami hip hop you'd have to hit up Tommy at Miscreant Productions or Drop The Bass as these guys know their shit on this subject. I have chucked up a couple of articles from an old Source from March '94 that is dedicated to the Southern Bass scene.

It's no surprise that the 2 Live Crew found their way to this post even though they were an oldschool west coast duo consisting of Mr Mixx and Fresh Kid Ice before touring Miami and accidentally recruited the promoter of the show (Luke) in the group. Brother Marquis also joined and they released 'Is What We Are' with the huge hit 'We Want Some Pussy'. They went on to drop 'Move Somethin' before dropping probably the most controversial hip hop album to come out of the South, 'As Nasty as They Wanna Be' which caused huge drama and gave the 2 Live Crew more promotion than they could ever dream of. There's not too much you can say about this legendary group that hasn't already been said. I've chucked up an old 2 Live track from their '86 classic, 'Is what We Are' on 'Luke Skywalker Records' (He changed it to 'Luke Records' after George Lucas found out about the label).

This group is not what you'd expect from a Miami group. These guys are nothing like the 2 Live Crew, Freak Nasty, 69 Boys or DJ Smurf but like Dead Prez who coincidentally help put these guys out. They're an anti-government trio with some gangsta styled rhymes consisting of Nemesis, L-R Hoox and Louie Knuckles. Their album 'Connected' has a mix of crazy tracks to just alright tracks but some like 'Connected', 'End Of Da World' and the track I put up for download, 'Capital Punishment' are dope. The album came out in '99 on 'First String Entertainment' and is a must have for anyone who like Dead Prez. I'm actually surprized these guys didn't make more noise considering the quality of the album, maybe if Dead Prez stuck around Miami longer they could have helped bring these guys more attention?

1990 saw Debonaire and J.T. Money (Poison Clan) release their debut album '2 Low Life Muthas' on Luke Records with production by 2 Live's Mr Mixx. To me, this album is sick with tracks like 'The Bitch That I Hate' and 'Bad Influence' this is one of my favourite old Southern albums. They came back two years later with 'Poisoness Mentallity', 'Rufftown Behaviour' in '93 and 'Straight Zooism' in '95 but at this point it was just J.T. Money under the 'Poison Clan' banner so he went solo and later had financial troubles with Luke (don't they all) they made him leave Luke. Not too sure what's up with J.T. Money these days, last thing I saw him do was a live show on some wack Cindy Margolis show a couple of years ago but he wasn't sounding anything like the Low Life Mutha he was back in 90.

Have you ever heard an album that one track is a hard as fuck gangsta track and the next is some slow lovey track you have to skip. Well that's what the G-Squad's 'The Time Is Now' album is like all the way through. When they want to do a fast, hard track they do it with ease but for some fucked up reason they chose to ruin the flow of the album over and over again. As for the group themselves, I've never heard of them other than this album and know pretty much nothing about them. I wouldn't really recomend anyone hunt this down on ebay or amazon although tracks like 'Puppy Chow', 'Miami Nigs' and my favourite, 'If You Get Me Pissed' are mad. I put the latter for download.

This last one is a real weird one, I remember picking up the vinyl years ago in a secondhand record store for $8 and didn't know what to make of the cover. I saw the "featuring DJ Poison Ivy" on the cover and thought it might be the same Poison Ivy from KMC. I'm almost positive it's not, but the album is pretty dope. Not really like any other album I've ever heard but with tracks like 'Bass Line' and 'B Girls' it was worth every cent. They came out in 1989/90 on Pandisc and were a slightly comedic group but had skills and a funky flow. I grabbed their second album off ebay a few years ago but I was pretty disappointed in it. This is one of those few albums that's easier and cheaper to find on wax than on disc.

This post didn't even scratch the surface of what Miami has to offer but I wanted to get a few different styles rather than just the typical Miami bass sounds the area is most known for.

^^ Click To Enlarge ^^

2 Live Crew - Get It Girl
First Platoon - Capital Punishment
Poison Clan - Bad Influence
G Squad - If You Get Me Pissed
Young & Restless - B Girls

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

R.I.P. Big Boss

Rest In Peace:

Big Boss
(of OG Style & 4 Deep)

Real Name: Unknown
Hailing From: Houston, TX
Date Of Birth: Unknown
Date Of Death: 2006
Cause Of Death: Kidney Failure (Big Boss was receiving treatment while working on the 4Deep reunion CD.)

Producer Big Boss along with Prince Ezzy-E started the Houston hip hop group OG Style and released the incredible 'I Know How To Play Em' album in 1991 on Rap A Lot Records. OG Style split up and Prince Ezzy-E changed his name to 'OG Style' to continue a solo career while Big Boss formed the group 4 Deep and released several group albums as well as a solo album. Big Boss started his own label called 'Power Move Music' and was a well respected producer, DJ and a pioneer of the Texas rap game. A DVD documenting his career has been made and below is a preview that has just been released in the last couple of weeks on youtube.

I'd like to thank Big Boss' brother, Koo Rod of 4 Deep, for getting back to me with the information on his brothers passing so this memorial post could be made. Koo Rod has now taken over running his brother's label and put out the memorial DVD.
R.I.P. Big Boss.

OG Style - Catch Em Slippin'
4 Deep - It's On

Monday, January 08, 2007

Gangsta Rap is Hip Hop

Now usually I'm not one just to post up other peoples articles and what not without at least adding my own spin to the topic, but here I am making an exception. Today I logged on to on myspace to find that Harlem's underground hip hop icon Immortal Technique had posted a myspace bulletin about gangsta rap and its significance within the hip hop culture, and considering that a large portion of what is posted on this blog fits the category, I felt that at least some of the people who check out this blog would be interested in taking a look. The following piece is one of the best hip hop articles I've read in a long time and because Tech articulates his point of view towards the issue so well, I feel that paraphrasing it would be an injustice.

Gangsta Rap is Hip Hop.
by Immortal Technique

The connection between Revolution and Gangsta Rap is not only unquestionable in my mind but also historically speaking. So much so that I'm forced to begin to elaborate on it now as I go to more prisons, juvenile centers and schools to talk with young people with uncertain futures about the industry. They ask me about the messages and images in the music. They ask about the origins of this street sound that seems to define what they see as their life and destiny...

It is therefore my duty to remind them the way I must remind myself and all of you that even though I'm in my twenties, I am old enough to remember being in grade school and hearing the Ice Cube albums, Public Enemy, NWA, The Geto Boyz, Ice-T, and others. They, and those behind the scenes at the time, created projects that defined their prospective region for their hard-core sound but much more so for their rebellious nature, storytelling and political discourse. Just like most of our originators (RUN DMC didn't start Hip Hop) Schoolly D is often overlooked as the person who in the mid 1980's actually carved a niche and started to include these hardcore gangsta phrases into his music. But the expansion of the type of sound he made and the vivid imagery of the streets created by others such as Melle Mel helped the 80's and early 90's Hip Hop Artists take these building block concepts and become master masons of words. I personally always loved it-- curses, crazy concepts and all but I could see how some people who are not familiar with the culture of Hip hop could be apprehensive. They are filled with vulgarity, they're disrespectful to women, and they are horribly violent, but tell me isn't Revolution sometimes the same way? It's not what we would like it to be, because now more than ever it is romanticized and idealized. But even for the most just-cause there are innocent people that are killed or imprisoned and the theater of war always has a rape scene regardless of how beautiful the victory parade is weeks or year's later celebrating newfound freedom.

So please don't feed me Mythology and liberal bullshit about the nature of Revolution. It is often bloody and it's not always a surgical strike fueled by the political ego of a military coup. Many times it is done by the people themselves. Not "Professional Revolutionaries" rather, it's done by kids who are fed up with the world their parents and grandparents have left them. Sometimes these youth are manipulated altogether by other countries (ahem CIA) and special interest groups that see them as a way to gain economically and rise to power (ahem a correlation to Record labels)... But anger against the system and it's constant oppression is the cause of these words and actions. Gangsta Rap was originally another form of Revolutionary music-- it reached the unreachable, regardless of age, race, creed or gender. It taught the un-teachable. It made me (who at the time was hustlin', robbin' and stealing) truly listen because I felt like these people who were in the streets, who I could identify with, were talking about a world I could see but never had explained to me.

For example when I heard The Geto Boys album "We Can't be Stopped", Ice-T's "O.G.", Ice Cube's "Amerikkka'z Most Wanted" and KRS-1's "Criminal Minded" it made a strong impression of how the world really was. As I said before, it stated what I knew but could not articulate well yet. Also interesting is that "Criminal Minded" was considered Gangsta Rap (or as it was called then- "Reality Rap") at the time but now (like the rest of these albums should be) is classified as being Revolutionary. Similarly, Public Enemy is renowned for being Revolutionary but is not considered Gangsta even though they had a violent and extremely aggressive attitude towards dealing with the government and its hypocritical foreign policy and urban domestic failures. Albums and artists like these and the works of people such as the legendary Kool G Rap who redefined wordplay though are not the face of gangsta rap today. Even the social commentaries that were found hidden among the genius musical works of Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg are absent from the scene after the turn of the Millennium. And even though we always hear this theme repeated about the very nature of Hip Hop and how it has evolved or de-evolved some would say, if you look at Gangsta Rap now and then back then, the Revolutionary element is for the most part completely sanitized by the corporate structure.

Although I named mostly West Coast and Down South Artists, the East Coast had just as many Gangsta Rappers only we looked at them differently because they were not as openly affiliated with any noticeable gangs such as the Bloods and Crips. After all, New York's Urban Empire was built upon street crews and educated hood syndicates such as the 5% nation at the time much more than colored rags even though some had several ties to local organized crime. (i.e.: Just-Ice, Wu-Tang, DITC, Nas, Biggie, Mobb Deep Black Moon to name a few...) But just remember that all areas whether they were the East, West, South, or Mid-West that even their most brutal musical origin are inseparable from the ideological Revolution that spawned them in the minds of urban youth. A factoid of information probably purposely forgotten through the years is that before it was labeled "Gangsta Rap" by the industry itself it was called "Reality Rap" by those individuals that created it, therefore that being the point of origin there is no way it cannot return to that, it just has to be done correctly.

Reality Rap, or as we know it now Gangsta rap, can be very Revolutionary, although Revolution is very rarely a part of the BUSINESS side of any genre of music and more specifically Hip Hop. Revolutionaries work for the people. They take it upon themselves to dedicate their passion, love and hard work for the cause. But without the direction of a vision and those that would have grown any sort of true leadership skills they are essentially the horse from Animal Farm. While the average Gangsta is not motivated by the community, but rather capital gain and avarice, the average rapper reflects the survivalist attitude often overblown and exaggerated into greed rather than any proletariat example. But it is because these young soldiers have no self identification and no knowledge of their people and that's why they cling to the imagery of 3rd world warlords, drug kingpins, and well known members of the Italian and Jewish Mafia. They emulate characters written by script writers and not the heroes of their own people. The argument can be made that they don't know them, but many times though they are familiar with the names of our Revolutionary heroes and have some idea of their impact they don't see their example as relevant in our daily lives.

Think about it… we can even name a Black basketball player or a Latino Baseball player before coming close to naming a Doctor or a Scientist of the same ethnic background. Our youth and young adults see these gangstas and other ruthless men as powerful beyond the scope of a government that holds them prisoner. People emulate their oppressor and worship those that defy him openly. That's why they don't respect a college graduate as much as a gang leader in the street or someone who survives prison unfortunately. They don't see assimilation within the system as the type of achievement that could lead beyond the scope. And even though we may reach for the stars, the glass ceiling doesn't even let us see the country around us let alone the world from the roof of our projects. All we see is the immediate route (which is wrong) and it becomes viable but understandable so, as this is not a criticism of young people today or people of color but of all OUR people today.

Remember also that the average Gangsta in the streets is not a boss he/she is a mid level manager of a criminal industry in which they own no stocks. They would be more like a little piglet or a dog in Animal farm, not a big hog like the people who embezzle billions out of Iraq, War profiteers, Stock scammers, Corrupt CEO's, Renegade Lawyers, Publishing Giants, Record Label Monopolies, Global Conglomerate executives, Senators, Congressman, and local politicians. These are not just real gangsters, they are the realest in the world, the most powerful, the ones who don't need to step to you in front of a Bodega or write a song about you because they ruin lives, crush families and whole sections of society with an ink stroke from the top of a huge building. In other countries like Colombia and Brazil there is such a division between this class of people and the average citizen that the economic aristocracy has to travel from rooftop to secured rooftop on a helicopter rather than go out in the street!!!

You can see that as good or bad, pathetic, indicative of society... but that's gangsta.

And Hip Hop is a reflection of that.

Because it's our culture where we are now, and though it may not be where we want to be, especially not the people who read this... but if we do not acknowledge where we are then there is no point of reference or origin as I stated before to get where we need to go. (I had an old movie on bootleg called Stargate and the beginning of it explains this concept simply.) If we have to change the petty image of a crack dealer being held in the highest esteem then you must have a replacement for our youngest adolescents, not just Malcolm and Che, because they don't have any movies out right now. And this society is built on fast moving, split screen, ADD causing imagery and sound. Our true heroes don't have too many DVD's out and they aren't being blasted into the airwaves, why do you think Tupac is still canonized in the hood?!?!?!? Even though he's been dead for 10 years he still sells more records than most other artists because he was a Gangsta Rapper in the truest sense of the Revolutionary doctrine. He made Reality Rap and put forth the example of a people's legacy that went back beyond slavery and colonization where our history starts to get fuzzy. Our children should have heroes back home where we originate from, and ones that are prisoners of the system and fighting against it today. We should have people that are not glorified on T-shirts as often but who fought for independence celebrated more and studied, not just to examine their success but to learn from their failures.

But the real reason we do not have them as an example is that those predecessors of Revolution today are not on the corner of our neighborhoods being marketed to us, that's why the average artist today no matter how manufactured their corporate bought thug image may be, are seen as legitimate by the youth.

After all you cannot just ask us to read a book, first we need to learn to read. I see that now.

Sometimes a Revolutionary has to do things that resemble a gangsta's behavior. I myself have done things of that nature, not to call that a positive thing but we cannot ignore the fact that a closed mouth doesn't get fed. And most of the people that talk about Hip Hop for the love and just for music are usually getting paid while they want you to do things for free for exposure. We need to protect our people and sometimes we confront people who mistake us for ignorant hoodrats so my soldiers and warriors are strong and their resolve steadfast. I have often heard Frank Sinatra and others from that time criticized for having mob ties, but tell me who didn't back then? Whether the music industry likes to admit it or not, Gangsters did not come into play when Black and Brown people started talking about Violence the mafia has always played a role in the music business. Not to excuse his tactics but when people focus on Suge Knight all the time (the quintessential criminal involved in music) that's laughable considering he wasn't half as connected, ruthless or well paid as some of his predecessors who were not Black or as high profile. That's not playing the race card son, that's real talk. The business of this music after all was not built for the faint of heart, the weak minded or those who lack the ability to make decisions that have consequences. For the latter is the true definition of power.

Therefore a Gangsta can become a Revolutionary. It is a progressive step and a life changing process that forever restructures an individual such as Malcolm-X- and founding members of the Zulu Nation. However, a Revolutionary that becomes a gangsta is usually one that has become corrupted by power. A gangsta is in the business of extortion, gambling, murder, and prostituting our greatest resource and the soul of our people, our women. This is often achieved through glorified violence rather than fighting bitterly against an opponent that keeps them locked in their petri dish of a life. So tell me; how could that not corrupt anyone? If the strategy of using our position to fight a real enemy with violent tactics is driven by capital gain it is even more dangerous with the focus of accomplishing altruistic goals. But even in failure and that fall from grace there is the inspiration from others to continue the work. After the warriors of old have past there must be the young among us that rise to become greater than we could ever imagine in the 21st Century. For true greatness revolves much more around being consistently good rather and take personal responsibility as a people. Power without that perception is meaningless.

Fight hard my people. And learn your true history.

I look forward to seeing many more of my young soldiers rise to mature and become Warriors of all kinds, those move past their egos of being famous for being rappers and singers and control aspects of the hardworking industry, distribution, radio work, printers, engineers, CD manufacturing, graphics, independent media published and especially on the web!!!, IF we embedded ourselves in all these things to favor the Hip Hop we see as addressing real issues HALF as much as these industry roaches suck dick for some fake shit to make a dollar, we would push our agendas much further and to carry forth the true meaning of Reality Rap that became known as Gangsta Rap which can never forsake its Revolutionary origin.

And so, to my Revolutionaries of all walks of life…

Peace & Respect in the New Year...


Friday, January 05, 2007

Dot Com

This post has been brewing for a while now, it's about the whole hip hop internet generation. There are a heap of people out there that claim that the net has ruined hip hop, while others view the internet as a powerful tool and use it do their business. Personally I think it goes both ways, and like the way the real oldschool heads of the late 70's/ early 80's reminisce over being there when it all started, and the next generation do the same about the golden era, it's kind of the same with the pre net days.

(Rack-Lo 'Aracknofoebia' cover)

Everything has got so much easier for a hip hop consumer today. I remember back in '93/'94 staying up 'til 4 in the morning with a video tape in the VCR watching 'Rage' (a music video show) with my finger hovering over the record button as each wack video ends hoping the next would be a hip hop video worth taping. Where as today all you need to do is hit youtube up and watch pretty much what you want when you want. Now, to find out about artists you don't know about, you can go to one of thousands of sites to download a track/album to find out whats good or wack and to know what to buy. Back then the only way to find out about other artists is either from a friends walkman or skip through an album at a record store. Things were alot harder as a hip hop consumer back then but also alot more fun. When you did stumble upon a gem back then it meant alot more to you than finding a mad track on the net. When I think back to the early 90's getting in to all those classic Rap-A-Lot releases and discovering Insane Poetry's 'Grim Reality' in a record store in town, half the fun was the hunt to find that underground classic that no one else knew about.

(Paul Wall - 'Internet Goin Nuts')

All that being said, I'm not dissing the net at all. There are plenty of positives that have come out of the internet since it's arrival. There are plenty of artists that have had a resurgance of fans simply by getting a website. Insane Poetry and Digital Underground have both mentioned that themselves, infact Digital Underground weren't making music until Metaphysical started a website for them and connected D.U. fans from across the world which made the group get back together making music, and going on tours (Shock G has since retired). Houston's South Park Coaltion and K Rino in particular have had huge success on the underground since they got a website a few years back. The internet has also seen the return of countless independent record companies and artists thriving in a world where you no longer need a middle man.

The latest, and perhaps the biggest step of late, is Myspace, those who have one will know that at times it can be very addictive but usually it is a headfuck, every time I log on I'm uttering "fuckin myspace" within minutes. However there has never been an easier way for unknown artists to get their music to the world. Which can also be a negative as there is no quality control and some of the shit on there is reeaal fuckin' wack. For promoters across the world, myspace has made hooking up shows very simple, I went to a few shows last year where I know for a fact was only possible due to the net. You can tell that the net is the new generation of hip hop when artists are releasing 'internet exclusive' tracks, like Mad Skillz's hip hop rap up's or Pack FM's 'preview' amongst others. Something that has become alot bigger in recent times is 'hip hop radio' telecasts through the net, which is a huge tool on the underground

Although I see those things listed above a positive, alot of you may think it's a negative, it just goes down to opinion. A couple of things that are really fucked up with the net are, spamming, any myspace user will know exactly what I mean, and the other is the amount of record stores around the world that have closed down since the net have taken over. Although I would much rather to drive around all day checking out every record store in my city, or even flying interstate to do nothing else but hunt for beats, I am a minority. With Ebay,Amazon and sites like CDBaby around, people can hunt for beats on a office chair under the air con eating a sandwitch paying with plastic and getting beats to their door days later. So one by one small record stores get put out of business and albums get sold over the net. This also has increased the price you have to pay for rare OOP albums, it's hard to find them in a dollar bin when the shop ain't around any more, so people find out very easily that they have a rare album they want to sell when they type it into the net.

Then there's the whole downloading debate, whole albums or single tracks, major labels or independent, OOP (out of print) or new. Some rappers don't mind their mp3's circulating the net as it gives them incredible promotion and a chance for thousands of potential fans to hear their music which creates sales. Others class any form of file sharing stealing whether it be new or old. There's probably not really a wrong or right answer just opinions. This is definately the biggest debate in the hip hop and the whole music industry to be affected by the internet since it started, and has changed the way alot of people buy music in the form of record companies selling mp3's over the net and this latest ring tones craze.

As far as the whole internet arguement goes, some of us may not enjoy the way the net has changed hip hop but like it or not, it's the way it is. If hip hop didn't jump on the train it would have been left behind, and down the track when new music dries up and there's no progression in the culture, hip hop would be dead.

Paul Wall - Internet Going Nuts
Stooie Bros - The Beat Is Free
Gym Class Heroes Ft Papoose - New Friend Request (Remix)
Too $hort -
Natas - WWW.Com