Devin the Dude Concert The Waiting Room - Omaha, NE May 12th, 2010
Article and photos by Steve 'Flash' Juon
Better late than never, I'm coming through for you with a Devin the Dude concert review. A lot of things conspired against this review ever happening. First and foremost, I was feeling sick as shit the night this concert actually took place. Originally I was going to interview Devin personally, but out of respect to him and to the label I didn't want to pass him a cold while he was in the middle of a nationwide tour, so we postponed a personal session for another day and time. It's not as though it hurt readers of the site greatly though given Adam B interviewed Devin back in April so this would have simply been an extension of what he had done as an exclusive video for the website. Ironically me being too sick to do the interview worked out though as my camera crapped out that night at the show, so getting any usable video footage would have been near impossible. Let's give credit where it's due to the venue in this case, because the bass in my face standing front row at the show is probably what shook my shit to the point it went South. Last but not least the crapout OF said camera caused me to switch up at a moment's notice and take pics with my cell phone instead, but then I had two different types of files stored on two different devices to combine together. Perhaps this article should have been titled "Lessons on what NOT to do when covering a rap show." Learn from my mistakes people. Still since I toughed out illness, rain, parking, a capacity crowd AND a broken camera it's time to make use of what I've got and give it to you the readers for your enjoyment.
If you've ever heard the phrase "one fight card" to describe a boxing or MMA PPV where the only reason people bought it or showed up was for the main event, that phrase suits this night's Devin concert equally well. People in the crowd talked about nothing but Devin, and nobody performed who was not affiliated with Devin or in his crew. I fully expected the Coughee Brothaz to open the show as a result, but I was there at 9 PM CST and the stage didn't start filling up with smoke until 10:20. Normally at the hip-hop shows I've been to from the Midwest to the East, the venue puts on at least one if not two local acts trying to make a name for themselves to kill time once the doors open - no such luck tonight. Also it seems that the Coughee Brothaz have now branched out and started forming crews in other areas, because the DJ kept playing a loud drop to remind us these were the Coughee Brothaz NORTH, not to be confused with the originals I had seen in concert before. Okay, whatever. I was just glad someone had finally jumped on stage.
CBN kept things rolling for a good 30-40 minutes, and after a short delay The Dude himself hit the stage. The smell of chronic in the air was fairly strong even before this point, but Suite #420 took this shit to a whole different level. Normally dudes crush the stage for two reasons - the first is a bunch of hot girls just started stripping at the behest of the artist, the second is when someone on stage says "the craziest motherfucker in here gets to party with me tonight." I can now add a third item to that list - WEED SMOKER HERO WORSHIP. You've never seen so many people try to hand one rapper a joint or a blunt at one time just to take a puff. It's not very intoxicating to have it in the air around me after going to shows for over 17 years, but I'll be damned if a first-timer wouldn't have gotten a contact high from that shit. Devin's posse had to literally smoke/soak up the extras for him as there was just no way in hell he could smoke every single thing that came his way. NORML should put this man on tour with Cypress Hill to promote legalizing weed - they'd do box office business.
As for his performance, well I can't say it was EXTREMELY different to past experience with the Dude in concert. He's a very energetic and charismatic rapper, prone to sing or scat a freestyle at any time between songs, and probably does as much or more vocal turntablism than Scratch from The Roots - which he usually emphasizes by putting his hand out and pretending to flex on some invisible Wheels of Steel. While some songs from Suite #420 did make their way into the mix, Devin's set was largely the "greatest hits" his fans already know and love. As such it's a given he's going to do his verse from Dr. Dre's "Fuck You" and his verse from Scarface's "Fuck Faces" along with blunted solo classics like "Doobie Ashtray" and make the crowd sing the chorus to "Lacville 79." Let me be clear - there AIN'T nothin' wrong with that. A live Devin set is always entertaining, but aside from who he brings with him to open and who hangs out on stage with him (occasionally performing a song to give Devin a breather) one show is almost exactly like the other - only the date and time changes. Die-hard Devin supporters will keep coming back to each show (no doubt I will) and if you're a casual fan you might wait until he's part of a larger festival or tour.
As a "one card fight" Devin is alright, but be warned that he generally starts late and goes on past midnight, and if you've seen him before it's virtually the same (charismatic) show you've already seen. If you're fighting a cold too and smoke is in the air everywhere it's a challenge but he's a consistent enough performer to make it all worth the effort. If you've never seen his performance before, you owe it to yourself as a hip-hop fan to go at least once - and cop that Suite #420 album while you're at it.
Dyme Def Bring Innovative Music, Marketing, And A Bit Of Raunch With Sex Tape 06.29.2010 Partnering with Clothing Giant T.I.T.S. Brand, Dyme Def Releases Sex-Themed New Album
(June 29, 2010-Brooklyn, NY) Dyme Def, the North-West trio of Fearce, SEV, and Brainstorm, is excited to release their sophomore full-length Sex Tape, a highly visual and blatantly sexual project released in a collaborative effort with clothing company Two in The Shirt (T.I.T.S. Brand). Dyme Def's Sex Tape is available now via 800 LB.
Sex Tape breaks away from the Dyme Def that many underground fans have come to know. "None of our albums have sounded the same," says SEV. "That's how we intend to keep it. Keep 'em' guessing." The sound is lustrous and the lyrical content risqué placing Dyme in a prime-time position to make moves into the prevailing pop culture. "They came down from outer space and had to get their grown man shit on," says T.I.T.S. Brand Owner Marek Grubel. "Any career progression is to make it into the mainstream. They have the talent and sound that will crossover and reach millions."
Sex Tape boasts eleven sinfully seductive tracks that range from stimulating R&B soul soothers like "Wet Dreams" to amplified orgasmic audio clips to dark and stormy boom-bap bangers like "Do Something," the album's lead single, which was accompanied by the Gianna Michaels-starring video. "The concept behind this project was to mainly reach out to the opposite sex, creating a new way to listen to hip-hop in Dyme Def's world" explains SEV about the album's direction. In stark contrast to their provocative prose, the production on Sex Tape is highly diverse, delivering a wide range of instrumentals and sounds, courtesy of frequent collaborators Tha Bizness, BeanOne, and Tryfe.
The collaboration with T.I.T.S Brand and Dyme Def is unique in that creates a complete sensory experience by providing audio, visual, and tangible feeling to consumers. Each single off of Sex Tape has it's own exclusive and titillating t-shirt created by the erotic entrepreneurs at T.I.T.S. Brand. "It was fun working with T.I.T.S.," says Brainstorm on working together with the Seattle-based clothing company. "There were no boundaries." To make matters even more appealing T.I.T.S. will be offering a free digital download of singles off of the Sex Tape with the purchase of collaborative shirts from www.shoptits.com .
The Sex Tape project complete with audio, visual, and T.I.T.S. textiles is currently available via 800 LB. Please post buy links: http://www.shoptits.com/dymedef.aspx http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sex-tape/id372690848 .
Fresh off the success of the PANIC EP, Dyme Def releases their second full length project Sex Tape, a collaboration with the provocative clothing company Two In The Shirt (TITS Brand) . The trio consists of rappers Fearce, SEV and Brainstorm with production from Tha Bizness, Brainstorm, BeanOne and Tryfe. Dyme Def has received critical acclaim since their 2007 debut Space Music and has built an incredible following on their way to being crowned the kings of the NW. Sex Tape is a departure from the Dyme Def sound that many underground consumers have grown accustom to, but the change will come as a pleasant surprise to their old fans and new.
Black Sheep Celebrates New Album With A Video And A New Single That Considers The Life Of Hip-Hop
In celebration of the new album, From The Black Pool Of Genius, Black Sheep is releasing a new nostalgic single called "Come Back Home" featuring the new dynamic R&B duo P&V. The track opens with a monologue, "Oh word. Ain't seen you in a hundred. Oh, come on now, I'm chilling; you can listen to the music and tell that." The song delivers on the promise of hang-out music with a bittersweet but accepting vibe and a slow beat using a soft keyboard with reverb to spit over. But listening closely to the lyrics, it isn't just another hang-out song nor is it a song about the romance of a woman. It is really a metaphor for the desire of more significant hip-hop in contemporary culture. "'Come Back Home' is in the vein of Common's 'I Used To Love H.E.R.', and perhaps skewed a bit to my perspective," says Dres. "It speaks of the want for a more sincere meaningful hip-hop, but attests the willingness to accept what it's become and move forward."
Dres of Black Sheep also celebrates with a video for the song, "For The Record" from the new album. Shot on a rooftop at sunset in New York City, it brings a sense of peacefulness over the song. Especially with a clear and pleasant piano melody on top of the beat, one would believe that it is just a quiet song with little to say. However, says Dres, "'For The Record' is a quiet song that speaks loudly and also is me giving a little backhand to the powers that be," continuing, "I don't see them moving in the best interest of the people. I'm just shining a little light on the situation."
Look for the album, From The Black Pool Of Genius out today via Bum Rush Records.
It all began with a thundering baseline and an unmistakably classic phrase - "this or that." One of the most widely recognized songs in rap music history, the 1991 classic "The Choice is Yours" was hailed by VH1 in 2008 as one of the best rap songs of all time. The highly respected Queens emcee Dres, along with DJing partner-in-crime William "Mista Lawnge" McLean took the music industry by storm in the early 1990's as part of the groundbreaking collective Native Tongues. Penning such Billboard standouts as "Flavor of the Month" and "Strobelight Honey" for the duo's platinum-selling debut album A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing in 1992, Dres would continue to crank out the hits on the group's second release, Non Fiction. After a brief reunion with Mister Lawnge in 2000, Dres again set his sights on recording. He released the innovative online-only album 8WM/Novakane in 2007. Now he's back in the studio, writing the next chapter of his storied career. Dres' highly anticipated new project, From the Black Pool of Genius, out now, promises to pair thought-provoking lyrics with astounding beats constructed by a corps of new and established beatmakers. They include Bean One, Showbiz, Tough Junkie, P. Locke, Urban Soul Music Group, and Willie Evans. He's also got an impressive line-up of guest stars, including De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Rhymefest, AZ, Jean Grae, Rosie Perez, Psycho Les of The Beatnuts, and Tough Junkie, among others. Leading up to the release of his next full-length, Black Sheep have released a precursor EP, From The Black Pool Of Genius: The Prelude, available now. From The Black Pool Of Genius is also available now.
Awhile back i had a friend of mine ask me, "what if an outside artist wanted to get some production from you, how do you make that happen?" It was a great question, and at the time it made me realize that i should try and facilitate the artists i occasionally get asked to work with online which as a result, lead me to incorporate a widget for buying beats on the "Services" page of Neosonicprod.com
The timing was too perfect, as I'm in the process of switching my main production HUB to Native Instrument's Maschine & retiring my beloved MPC 2000XL, which served me very well over the last decade... thus i have A LOT of unused beats that i always envisioned someone either rhyming or singing on. SO, now those beats, which were all produced on the MPC as potential Panacea joints, can hopefully become songs by anyone willing to purchase one. I am charging a flat rate of $300 per track, with each being exclusive as in once its bought = it's GONE! (*Discounts applied if more than 1 beat is bought). The homie Kev Brown has done something similar in the past by selling 2-track mixes "as is", but i am also offering the bonus of me mixing down the final recording of any beats purchased the same way i do ALL my other productions... hell, if the artist who cops the beat lives close enough or would even want to venture out to "Studio Champloo" in Maryland, i'll record them as part of the deal too!
For any interested beat-makers looking to also sell their productions, i used the above site to set-up my store. Even if you don't wanna buy, you can still listen HERE & feel free to contact me with any questions if need be...
RADIx Announce Official Single and Give Props to Defari
RADIx will be releasing their first official single off their upcoming LP (SAY YES) [All Produced by STATIK SELEKTAH] on August 10 via Abstrak Recordings. The lead single also called SAY YES, will be available on all major digital outlets. The lead single has already built a buzz with RADIx performing it at this years Sunfest in West Palm Beach, FL alongside NAS, JR GONG, WEEZER, and more. The artwork is designed by Boston clothing line PUZL. Please support this single on August 10th. Also, RADIx will be shooting a music video for the lead single with famed director Court Dunn. Please stay tuned for more news concerning RADIx.
To celebrate the release of their first official single off their upcoming LP SAY YES, RADIx are giving a track away called Focused Daily. They are paying homage to what they call "The West Coast Illmatic" Focused Daily by Defari. Please see the link to their track below.
Hey Everyone, Hope all's well on your end. It's already hot here already in Philly but it's gonna be an even hotter summer!
Our brand new album "Karma Response Unit B-Sides 2000-2010" dropped last week on iTunes! Album features: Reef the Lost Cauze, Jake Lefco, 40th Dimension, Snuff of Media 101, Side Effect, Scandal of 40th Dimension, DJ Kwestion (Jedi Mind Tricks/Skratch Makaniks), Briz, and more! Produced by Happ G and Snuff of Media 101. iTunes link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/karma-response-unit-b-sides/id371131602
We finally started a Karma Response Unit blog! It's gonna be a place for frequent updates on the label, releases, shows, etc. as well as features on other things that we like. How's that for ambiguous yet fascinating?!? Feel free to check us out & become a follower: http://karmaresponseunit.blogspot.com/
We're very excited because we're almost finished with the next batch of 4 albums to be released as part of our 'Ten in 10' campaign of 10 releases in 2010 to celebrate the labels 10th birthday. The next 4 releases are: Duck Chutney & The Double Entendre "Nobody Rides For Free", Media 101 "A Decade Of Sheist: 2000-2010", Jake Lefco "No Turning Back", and Murai "East Meets West". All will be dropping late summer/early fall. We'll have some more in depth descriptions and info on all 4 projects next week, but needless to say we're very excited about them all!
Our free song this week is "Passion Of The V" by Viro The Virus. produced by Happ G. from the album "The Sharpest Blade" (One i Di.Vision). http://www.zshare.net/audio/777326222eb98f01/ I produced 5 songs for this album with Viro and my boy Caliph-NOW. This is my favorite or 2nd favorite of my batch of 5 (along with "Repo Man"). My overall favorite song on the album is "Heartless" which I consider an instant classic! It's a heavy song, but so beautiful! Definitely worth checking out. You can find the album on iTunes right here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-sharpest-blade/id288638323
MP3: Apollo Brown - "Odds Ain't Fair" Feat. Hassaan Mackey
Apollo Brown And Hassaan Mackey Team Up To Take Listeners On A Tour Of The Streets
For the latest single from The Reset, Apollo Brown teams up with Rochester, New York's own Hassaan Mackey. What stands out the most about the latest single "Odds Ain't Fair" is its lack of pretension. Mackey doesn't waste time hyperbolizing stories to give himself any undue credibility. Instead, the song paints a vivid picture of poverty for listeners. From the very beginning Mackey exclaims, "Since you ain't never been here before, let's take a little tour." Mackey proceeds to lead a lyrical tour of the block, as he knows it. Apollo Brown's soulful instrumental adds a sense of urgency to the song while the chorus, "I'm gonna help myself, I can't help myself," compliments that urgency with desperation. "Odds Ain't Fair" is available on Apollo Brown's new album, The Reset.
Born into a bi-racial family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Apollo Brown's early influences skewed more toward the music of Journey and The Carpenters than the urban genres his peers often cite as inspiration. This is not to say that once hip-hop came into play, Apollo wasn’t all in. Just as easily as he can praise the virtues of yacht rock, the 29-year-old beatsmith can name personal heroes - Gang Starr, Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, M.O.P., Nas, and Black Moon - from the early 90s period in which, for him, beats and rhymes became life. Apollo began making his own music in 1996 using Voyetra audio software, then upgraded to Cool Edit 2000 in becoming a self-described bedroom beat-maker for roughly the next eight years. It was the mid-2000s, and the upstart producer saw no future for his work - work he had dedicated his life to - in an industry where radio was setting a formulaic pattern for mainstream music. But he eventually began to miss the creativity in his craft and began producing once again, releasing the instrumental albums Skilled Trade (2007) and Make Do (2009). He went on in 2009 to win the Detroit Red Bull Big Tune Championships and competed in the national finals. Apollo then signed as a producer with the Mello Music Group in December of 2009. His debut album, The Reset, is available now via Mello Music Group.
About Mello Music Group:
Like Lao Tzu in hip-hop, Mello Music Group provides music for the soul, from the heart of American culture, opening the realm of the intelligent hip-hop experience through melodic evocations, beats that corroborate the truth, and voices that roar above the rising void and impose order on the terrible & triumphant moments of everyday life. This is the compelling sound of Mello Music Group. Industry newcomer Michael Tolle founded MMG in 2007 and is acting Director of Operations. MMG will be releasing projects from Oddisee, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Kenn Starr, Finale, Trek Life, Dudley Perkins, Sareem Poems, UPS, and YU in 2010. http://www.myspace.com/mellomusicgroup .
MP3: Frank Nitt - "L.O.V.E." (Featuring DJ Quik & J. Black)
Frank 'n Dank Emcee Taps Legendary West Coast Rapper DJ Quik For Latest Single
In a climate where many hip-hop songs take their listeners on dark journeys through street life, or playful romps through many of life's vices it's refreshing to hear an emcee brush his bravado to the side. Frank Nitt half of the celebrated duo Frank 'n Dank does just that with "L.O.V.E.". Frank tackles the subject matter with an honesty and directness that nearly betrays the feel-good subject matter the Detroit emcee typically brings to his listeners.
Nitt assembled an incredible cast to help bring his amorous creation to life. The track was produced by Terrace Martin and features both legendary West Coast rapper and producer DJ Quik and crooner J. Black. "He didn't write anything down. He just went in and killed it, " Frank said of his experience with DJ Quik in the studio. The chemistry is apparent, and Nitt knocks another one out the park for the storied Delicious Vinyl label. In fact, the combination of talent proved so potent, the track found its way to a spot on The L.A. Times coveted Pop And Hiss blog.
"You can guarantee two things in the life: that Eminem just doesn't really do traditionally "classic" albums and he's never made a half-decent club record before, never will. Now that I have sufficiently dampened your expectations, what of "Recovery," his latest album and a real throw of the dice to get him a slice of this 2010 mindshare? There is good news, and bad news - and it is down to you, reading this little review, which is which. "Recovery" is one of the strangest albums I've encountered, and it is truly dependent on the listener. One individual might completely love it, another hate it - for pretty much the same reasons. Example: there is only one Dr. Dre record out of 17 numbers. Personally, I've barely heard anything great from Dre in the last 3/4 years (non-headphone related, this is), but others bemoan his slight input. Some are disgusted that he shares songs with Pink and Rihanna. Again, for me, Pink is, as a rule, annoying but she is barely distinguishable, and I think the Rihanna collaboration "Love the Way You Lie" is very well conceived/executed (it will help this album to sell millions). Someone else may have just stopped reading this review as a result. "
"Not being a church-goer, I'm much more impressed by artists who reference their religion in their art rather than make art specifically about their religion. What Applejaxx is doing here is basically preaching, which means listening to this is like sitting through a Sunday sermon, great if you are looking for affirmation of your faith, not so great if you aren't on board with that faith in the first place. A bigger problem is that the prosthelytizing negatively impacts the rhyming. There is so much focus on the message that the music suffers."
"Army of Pharaohs is a group who is ripe for metaphors and comparisons, some more flattering than others. When I first heard the group on "Torture Papers" I came away very impressed and hyped about the lyrical barrage and intensity brought by the collective. Two albums later my views on the group have changed quite drastically. I don't find myself spinning "Torture Papers" much now, nor do I find much motivation to peep their new albums. The effect has worn off and I've become desensitized to the experience that is AOTP. They just don't hit as hard anymore, they don't appeal to me anymore, I am not impressed by their concept or execution. They are an army that does one thing and one thing only. The group hits you hard and they hit you over and over again, but there is no strategy or tact in their attacks."
"In the "everything old is new again" world of today's pop culture, parody Run-D.M.C. shirts are a dime a dozen and one appearance of a song by Sir Mix-A-Lot, Salt-N-Pepa or House of Pain in a commercial can send the concurrent MP3 rocketing to the top of the bestsellers list. I expect a similar bump for Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours" at any point now given the viral spread of the Kia Soul commercial on the internet. Whether or not having hamsters dress like b-boy stereotypes and rap like Dres, D-R-E-S is insulting will of course be debated, but I did enjoy the "this or that" dichotomy where "this" was a nice whip and "that" was hamsters driving toasters and cardboard boxes. Will it sell cars? Hell if I know, but since you can see the Black Sheep logo on the hamsters' iPod, I'm 100% convinced retro MP3 downloads will skyrocket. "
"Hip-Hop's roots have spread so far and wide that even in a small town like Ada, Oklahoma (population under 20K as of the last census) a young man can grow up with aspirations of hip-hop stardom. Kingdom City Records representative Dillon Chase would be more than happy to put Ada on the map the same way that Nappy Roots blew up Bowling Green, Kentucky almost a decade ago. He's certainly got the legit credentials hip-hop's thugger-than-thou hardcore aficionados demand - two parents addicted to drugs, in trouble with the law from a young age, a reckless street life that nearly took him under before turning to his love of music to make rap records. He certainly presents that wildside of Ada on his album cover, mean mugging with only a pair of dogtags hanging from his neck, suggesting he's just as likely to punch you in the grill as make you punch your fist in the air at the club."
"Cimer Amor reminds me most of Marco Polo. His rugged beats are a bit nostalgic and despite their street-readiness are marked by clean orchestration and polish. His menacing, heavy beats are technically excellent, well balanced and hard-hitting with a familiar, distinctly East Coast style that would not sound out of place in Brooklyn, Queensbridge, or Boston. His rough percussion arrangements lend each of his tracks a grimy quality in spite of the fresh instrumentals, and he shows many gifts of a seasoned pro—the expertly-balanced fuzzy guitars of "I Hate," the Beatminerz-esque pipe kicks on "Cold Cold World," and the dark swirling violins of "Only the Best" that make clear why the members of A.O.T.P. have sought his services. "
"A renaissance man on the decks and the boards, with the Japanese release "Underground Forever" DJ Spinna returns to his professional roots, '90s underground East Coast hip-hop. Presenting 24 twelve-inch cuts in a continuous mix, he offers a look back on a time many people still remember fondly. As a member of the Jigmastas and Polyrhythm Addicts, Vince Williams participated actively in the scene, and so the mix contains several of Spinna's own productions, a handful even released on his label Beyond Real Recordings. Fittingly, there's the Jigmastas' "Beyond Real" to highlight his subtle drum programming and melodic, spheric bass. Songs like "Vibrate" by The Basement Khemist and IG Off & Hazadous' "This Ain't Livin'" feature Spinna's hypnotic butta beats."
"One month after taking on the assignment to cover the latest Twin Perils release "Word Supremacy" myself, their label is back with a solo album from one half of the crew in the form of June Marx. It's actually coincidental given the Twin Perils review was a bit overdue and this album was undoubtedly being worked on in the lab that whole time, but nevertheless it's two albums in two months from Holographic Pagoda. On one hand that leaves me uniquely qualified to comment on the Marx solo being already familiar with his work, and on the other it makes me slightly concerned about what I'm in for on this disc. While his partner Lone Ninja was the less charismatic of the duo lyrically, Marx did his own damage as the album's producer, showing an inability to cut away his less interesting beats and leaving too much mediocrity to digest."
"Tech N9ne was heavily present on Kutt Calhoun's first two albums, some would say his presence was a bit much. Common complaints on "B.L.E.V.E." included the fact Kutt sounded like a Tech N9ne imitator and not his own man. "Feature Presentation" gave us an album that, for me, found the right balance. The Tech influence was there, but the album itself was a showcase of Kutt Calhoun's skills. "Raw and Unkutt" finds Calhoun further separating himself from the Tech N9ne influence with mixed results. The concept of the album is influenced by Tech N9ne's "KOD" and "Killer" as it is divided into sections. The intro lets us know Kutt Calhoun is experimenting with a new drug called "Raw and Un-Kutt" and this CD takes us on a trip through the Good, Bad, and Ugly side effects of the drug. The execution is not ideal as the Good and the Bad blend into each other, while the Ugly side is clearly the superior part of the album. The Good section gives us 7 party songs that range from the generic to the dope. "That's Kutt Calhoun" is a hard hitting party track that gets things started on the right foot."
Kendrick Lamar :: Kendrick Lamar EP :: TopDawg Ent. as reviewed by Daniel Oh
"Let's play some word association. When I say "Compton," most people will respond with: "Gangs," "NWA," "Dr. Dre." Some of the younger hip-hop fans may even throw out "The Game." Now, going by what most people think, Compton is synonymous with gangsta rap and gangsta livin'. So when I say that my first review for RapReviews covers a young Compton cat named Kendrick Lamar, your mind might wander to blunts, beyatches, sippin' 40s, poppin gats, and repping yo' set. Well, Kendrick Lamar loves the blunts, 40s and bitches, but his EP is about as gangsta as Kid Cudi's argyle sweater. It's not a bad thing, and it's really apparent that Kendrick Lamar is trying very hard to push music in his own image, absent of any pigeonhole or box that critics (like myself, with word association) try to put him in. He is definitely not a cut-and-dried, paint-by-numbers Compton rapper that recycles the same talk about peelin' caps, Kendrick Lamar is out to make his own unique footprint in the long history of Compton hip-hop. "
"While no longer a chart-topping entity, Nappy Roots continues to provide the kind of hearty Kentucky funk that made them famous, yet they've matured in the process. Over bright piano and xylophone-based production by Cloud9, the verses of the strong opener "Welcome to the Show" advocate persistence and prayer, but eventually border on self-parody as a dramatized fan tells them, "Dude, you guys are phenomenal dude. I promise, I mean, my sister loves you guys. I joined this frat because of you guys! Fuckin' awesome, man. Nappy fuckin' Roots…" This track finds the boys in top form, exuding encouraging and uplifting sentiments, yet also humorously acknowledging their recent gigs touring frat houses at southern universities. For the most part, "The Pursuit of Nappyness" is business as usual on the mic, finding the MCs extolling their lifestyle with charming flair and humility, such as on "The People," an emotional dedication to loved ones, and "All 4 You," a heartfelt thanks to listeners. "
"He's as loud as he is proud. He's Florida to the death but loves his "goons" even more, proudly bragging that he singlehandedly added the term to the hip-hop lexicon. The term predates rap usage by at least 90 years though, having become slang for a muscular (and usually dimwitted) gun for hire, backing up any criminal enterprise that pays enough for his/her services. The negative connotation is the same reason some hockey players are called goons - it's assumed they are on the ice for the purpose of beating up other players rather than their skill at passing or scoring. Plies defines his goons the same way - they're loud, they're strong, and they hit real hard. These are positive traits when you come from the world Plies does, where the strong do battle with the strong, and the more goons you have on your team the more likely you are to survive (nevermind the innocent bystanders and casualties) in battle. "
"To my wonderment and surprise though, The Roots came back. I was stunned to learn that they would be the in house band for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," the new show that would debut once Conan O'Brien left his own late night talk show to take over vaunted TV program "The Tonight Show." Well we all know how that worked out for O'Brien in the end, but none of that dustup ever affected Jimmy Fallon's slot or The Roots welcome presence on talk show TV. It was a surprisingly natural fit that really shouldn't have been that surprising given that The Roots have always relied on live music and their live band to create jams, taking an idea Stetsasonic once championed to the furthest extent possible it could be taken. Given the group can freestyle songs, cover other hip-hop artists and make new shit up at the drop of a dime in concert, how hard could it be to do the same for a studio audience every night? In fact it's the most enviable of all gigs any band could ever have - guaranteed dates, a new crowd every night, a steady source of income and instead of going on tour the whole world comes to your door. The comfort and security of this environment turned out to be artistically inspiring for the legendary Roots crew, and "How I Got Over" is the result of finding their love all over again. PHILLY IS BACK BABY."